All of Us Are Dead (2022)

Profile
Drama: All of Us Are Dead (지금 우리 학교는)
Network: Netflix
Episodes: 12
Release Date: January 28, 2022
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot: Hyosan High School becomes ground zero for a zombie outbreak and the kids fight their way to survive.

Main Cast
Park Ji Hu – Nam On Jo
Yoon Chang Young – Lee Cheong San
Park Lomon – Lee Suhyeok
Cho Yi Hyun – Choi Namra

Review
I love zombie movies/drama and I think South Korea has almost perfected this genre. This time, the setting is in a high school and the stories are about high school kids. What will they do (without adults or parents present)?

Out of all the kids in this drama (and there were a lot of characters), I liked Cheongsan and Suhyeok the most. Well, Cheongsan first, because he is the leader – he always thinks of what to do, he was brave and was willing to risk his life for his friends. Suhyeok was his more handsome and taller sidekick who follows him and helps him beat the bad guys. i really liked their friendship, but I was disappointed that when Cheongsan sacrificed himself, Suhyeok didn’t shed a tear or looked anguished for his friend.

I also didn’t like the girls. They were pretty much useless. Everything there were zombies, the girls were just mostly hiding behind the guys except for the latter episodes. Even Onjo as the female lead was very disappointing as she was portrayed as a damsel in distress, although I feel bad that she lost her best friend, father and potential boyfriend in the drama. I was hoping Cheongsan and Lomon wouldn’t end up with Onjo and Namra, and I was actually happy they really didn’t!!

We see different reactions from the kids when faced with this fight or die scenario. Some because the worst friend like Yumi, some didn’t want to let go and save their friends like Isak and Jimin, some were willing to sacrifice themselves for their friends. I particularly loved and shed tears for Joon Yeong (in the auditorium), Gyeong Su (in the broadcasting room) and Wujin (saved his sister).

We didn’t see a lot of parents in this drama, mostly just saw Onjo’s dad, Cheongsan’s mom, Jimin’s parents who risked their lives to save their children. I also cried when the kids saw what happened to their parents and the thought that they are now orphans.

I also thought there were a lot of unexplored or unsatisfactory stories in this drama. Let’s see:

  1. Gwinam won’t f*ing die!! There’s no explanation why he is super strong and recovers fast other than needing to have a villain in the school.
  2. Namra was useless as a halfbie. She just served as their radar to detect other zombies. She is supposed to have special strength like Gwinam but during zombie attacks she hides behind and do nothing except in the end.
  3. There were a lot of unnecessary deaths like with Onjo’s dad (he didn’t have to lock himself in the tennis/badminton court), Cheongsan (he seemed like the main lead but killing him off was a big disappointment, and Wujin (he had to die so that there will be a sad story for him and his sister, like he they had to kill him when they’re almost free).
  4. There were also characters who didn’t have to be in the drama like the pregnant girl who gave birth to a baby, Jae-ik who didn’t really do anything other than get the laptop, the assemblywoman who was mostly powerless and useless in the quarantine, the youtuber, the little girl who was crying.
  5. There were potential issues that could have added depth to the story but the writer didn’t push through, like Nayeon, who didn’t have a chance to ask forgiveness from her friends before she got mercilessly killed by Gwinam. Gwinam fighting with Cheongsan just because he didn’t want to be caught murdering the principal. Eunji, who never got her revenge against Gwinam for the sexual harrassment, although her eating her coward friend was a little satisfying.
  6. I don’t know if they were hoping for a season 2, but they didn’t explore what happened after the Hyosan bombing, other than the kids, gathering to mourn their friends, and meeting Namra on the rooftop. Maybe I was still hoping that Cheongsan is alive.

I still enjoyed this despite the dislikes. Better if they kept this at 8 or 10 eps. Not sure about the ending but I don’t really need a season 2.

Rating: 8/10

Juror 8 (2019)

Profile:
Movie: Juror 8 (배심원들)
Release Date: May 15, 2019
Runtime: 114 min.
Distributor: CGV Arthouse
Country: South Korea

Cast
Moon Sori – Kim Jun Kyeom
Park Hyung Sik – Kwon Nam Woo
Baek Soo Jang – Yoon Geu Rim
Jo Soo Hyang – Oh Soo Jung
Jo Han Chul – Choi Young Jae
Cha Mi Kyung – Yang Choon Ok
Yoon Kyung Ho – Jo Jin Sik
Seo Jung Yeon – Byun Sang Mi
Kim Hong Fa – Jang Ki Baek
Seo Hyun Woo – Kang Doo Sik

Review
This movie is based on the first jury trial in South Korea.

The main character is juror no. 8 played by Park Hyung Sik. At first he looked dumb because every time someone asked him for his opinion, he always didnt know what to answer. And yet he turned out to be the smartest one in the room. He was the only one who actually listened to the testimonies and analyzed the evidences. There were a few jurors who made up their minds even without understanding the evidences. They just want to get out of their jury duty. But thanks to juror 8, they all decided to investigate the case. The main judge also ended up considering the jury’s inputs.

The movie had an odd pace though. Sometimes it was serious, sometimes it was light then as usual with most Korean movies, the third act becomes cheesy anf emotional.

Rating: 8/10

Unexpected Business (2021)

Profile:
Variety Show: Unexpected Business (어쩌다 사장)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 11
Air Dates: February 25 to May 6, 2021
Location: Woncheon-ri, Hwacheon-gun, Gangwon-do, South Korea

Plot:
Cha Tae Hyun and Jo In Sung takes over a convenience store/bar for 10 days while the owner is away. Every day, their celebrity friends come over to help them run the store.

Main Cast:
Cha Tae Hyun – manager
Jo In Sung – chef

Part-timers:
Park Bo Young, Yoon Kyung Ho, Kim Jae Hwa, Park Kyung Hye, Shin Seung Hwan, Nam Joo Hyuk, Park Byung Eun, Park Inbee, Nam Gi Hyeob, Park Inah, Yoon Si Yoon, Dong Hyun Bae, Jo Bo Ah, Hong Kyung Min

Review:
Just loved Cha Tae Hyun and Jo In Sung even more after watching the show! Totally unexpected indeed, esp seeing Insung in a variety show as the main cast, and I think he did well.

Park Bo Young was the perfect guest to start the show. She is so cute and smart!

My favorite episodes were when Yoon Kyung Ho, Kim Jae Hwa and Park Kyung Hye came over. Their dinner scene was so much fun!! Really felt like the were really close. Teasing each other, singing together as we do with our long time buddies.

Shin Seung Hwan has a huge appetite! I think some people might find him annoying, because he kept eating, but Tae Hyun is so nice, he just laughed and laughed at him. At first I thought he was being rude for eating food that is not his, but then I thought Tae Hyun and Insung has so much food it would be a waste if they don’t finish them all. I also liked how good he was at thinking of food pairings because I do that too!

I also loved the fishing trip and playing in the snow – it made me miss going out so much!

Inbee and Gi Hyeob is couple goals!! They looked so sweet and romantic! And I loved the Thai food they cooked!

I wish the episode with Yoon Si Yoon and Dong Hyun Bae were longer. Maybe they were too busy that day, but I felt like they didn’t have much time to bond.

I didn’t really like Jo Bo Ah in Tale of Nine Tailed, but seeing her here made me see her in a new light. She is sweet and charming! I hope also tries romcom so we can see her funny side!

Rating: 9/10

Awaken (2021)

Profile:
Drama: Awaken (낮과 밤)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 16
Release Date: November 30, 2020 – January 19, 2021
Runtime: Monday & Tuesday 21:00

Plot:
A detective, rookie cop and ex FBI agent try to solve a series of murders, which maybe connected to the White Night Village tragedy 28 years ago.

Main Cast:
Namgoong Min – Do Jung Woo
Lee Chung Ah – Jamie Leighton
Seolhyun – Gong Hye Won
Yoon Sun Woo – Moon Jae Woong
Yoon Kyung Ho – Lee Ji Wook

Review:
Anything Namgoong Min, I will watch! I love him so much! And why are my favorite ahjussis bad guys?? I’m not used to them being bad. Anyways, this is a scifi drama so you need to adjust your viewing lens to enjoy this.

I thought the premise was interesting. Kids being experimented on a remote island. One night, people just started killing themselves. Only 7 (if i remember correctly) survived, plus 3 unknown kids. Several years later, the kids are grown up. The experiments are still ongoing and Do Jung Woo, the top test subject is a detective hell bent on taking down the White Night foundation and stop the experiments.

I think for the most part, this drama was able to tell its story, link the plots from episode 1 to episode 16 quite well, even the ending wrapped up each of the characters’ stories neatly. What they didn’t do well is to setup the full background and history of the what, who, how and why. So if you need to know everything to believe the story, then you’ll probably hate this. But if you take the story for what it is and let go some of the logic (remember, this is science fiction so imagination is required), then this is good enough.

I like Do Jung Woo – although I mostly don’t understand him – I know he’s super intelligent, but he also seems to have speed and strength and he doesn’t seem to die! At a very young age, he was able to come up with a formula to gain immortal life. Something his mother and Hye Won’s dad has been trying to solve for years. I like the twist on the pink lollipop – I’ve been wondering for 16 episodes what it was for and I liked the reveal on what it was supposed to be! I loved the piece about being a “monster” — the final act was a nice surprise as we finally understand what it means! I preferred a different ending for Jung Woo, I didn’t mind if he didn’t survive the explosion, but I guess knowing that he’s alive is good enough. I was shipping him with Hye Won — but I know it’s futile to think of any future between them.

Just to go back to the research and Jung Woo’s mom, the mom was too creepy!!! I have a lot of questions — simple ones like I was confused at first if they were real kids or test tube babies but looks like the mother really gave birth to them — but who’s the father?? The mom was too obsessed with her research I dont know when and how she would have gotten pregnant twice. Same with Gong Il Do. I even thought that maybe Hyun Hee and Il Do had the kids or maybe it was Son Min Ho but I’m glad they didn’t go the makjang route. I was shocked that the mom never aged and we later learn the reason for it, but why did it take them years to track the 3 kids??? That i couldn’t understand. how could they not know that Jung Woo is 113? He is quite visible and if the kids can recognize him, why not the foundation, Minho, Il Do or Hyun Hee? I also liked how they resolved Hyun Hee’s story — that living forever in pain and suffering is better punishment than a quick death.

Gong Hye Won – i liked her a lot, but I found it funny that she already resigned from the police force yet she was able to run around with her gun and arrest people. She’s also amazing at kicking the bad guy’s butt – it actually made me wonder if his father ever tried to inject some serums on her. I also liked that she was smart and was able to figure things out even outside the police or Jung Woo.

As for Jamie Leighton, I was intrigued by her at the start, but I never warmed up to her character, mostly because of how she treated Jung Woo – like she was so sure he was the killer etc. When the reveal showed that not only were they brother-sister, they were actually twins, I still didn’t warm up to her, and it’s because I thought she didn’t do enough to help Jung Woo. She mostly did her own investigation with Ji Wook and the third child (which I appreciated because it ran parallel to Jung Woo’s investigation on the secret lab and foundation). Even in the end, I didn’t even feel that she mourned her brother’s death. She just went back to US as if nothing earth shattering happened. I also didn’t really see her disassociate identity disorder (will call this MPD) (was it whenever she tried to stop a truck?

The actor playing Lee Ji Wook will forever be Teddy Jeong to me (from Team Bulldog). He was annoying at the start, but I also end up liking him. I still dont know how he was able to quickly figure things out, like immediately thinking that Jamie has MPD without any facts/evidence supporting his theory. I thought it was to setup the plot that Moon Jae Woong has MPD. He was also there when Jung Woo was trying to get info from Son Minho (that first time when Jungwoo was tagged as the suspect) – he filmed the whole thing yet he didn’t hear Jung Woo talk about the White Night Foundation or the name of the president. I thought that was odd that he wasn’t curious to start researching about the foundation. but i love this links to Hye Won because his investigation also helped a lot.

Moon Jae Woong – middle of the story I already knew he wasn’t the main baddie. I thought his main reason for hating the twins because they left him all alone that night was dumb. Just like what Jung Woo said, “Didn’t I tell you to wait for me?” Can you imagine if he waited, he wouldn’t have been struggling all this time and harboring a useful grudge?? And having MPD as side effect of the drug also wasn’t explained. And how did he know and remember how to use lucid dreams to do the forewarned murders just like how Jung Woo did all those years ago? I also wasn’t sure if his computer skill was due to his special ability or he was just naturally good at it? Poor Yong Shik though, thought he didn’t deserve to die like that but at least he was finally free of the third child.

Son Min Ho – although very critical to the story as the face of the White Night Foundation, I couldn’t understand why he was never held accountable for the tragedy. We also dont really have enough information on his motives, other than greed and wanting to be the chairman of the new foundation. i think he was a side villain that didn’t really matter and thought it was fitting to die as a test subject.

The main baddie — it was so obvious from the start that he was the President that Jung Woo’s reveal about him fell flat to me. What i wanted to know was the why and how. The flashbacks saw him already old, so I couldn’t understand how the drug was able to reverse his aging. I thought it was so the person will never age (like what happened to Hyun Hee) but here, he just became young, which didn’t make sense. And how can no one not recognize him as the previous president? He didn’t do any plastic surgery, so there must still be some pictures from his previous times. And how did he become chief secretary with zero background /past? and beyond wanting to have an immortal life, who were the two old people attached to the tubes? I’m guessing one is his previous wife, but who is the other one? And what’s the point of keeping them alive? So many questions, not a lot answered, but i guess that wasn’t the main point of the story. We just needed to know he is the guy funding everything. Seeing him die in his old self was satisfying.

The unsung hero of this drama, for me, is Old Man. I loved him. He seems to know everything! He’s a sniper, he can get all the info that Jung Woo needs, he even got the ambulance/get away car for Jung Woo. I’m hoping that they are still together, keeping Jung Woo company and almost like his father figure.

Rating: 8.5/10 (8 for the story, but adding +0.5 because of Namgoong Min)