Category Archives: Movies

The Admiral (Roaring Currents)

The Admiral (Roaring Currents) is a Korean film depicting an epic battle of Admiral Yi Sunshin, a famous war admiral in Korean history. The film follows the story of the Battle of Myeongnyang, where Admiral Yi defeated a Japanese fleet of over 300 ships with only 13 ships of his own. Based on this unreal story from Korean history, the film is exciting and incredibly entertaining… once the action actually starts. Unfortunately, it takes a while to get there.

The Admiral (from IMDB)

The Admiral (from IMDB)

When I was talking to a family member about this film, I advised them that if they watch it, they should probably fast forward through the first hour or so. I understand that the information relayed to the audience throughout this section of the film is important for character development and foreshadowing and whatnot. But seriously, nothing happens. It was bad enough that I completely tuned out and would have turned the film off if it had been just me watching it.

However, if you make it through the first hour, to when the battle starts, you are in for a trip. The film really shows off not only Admiral Yi’s intelligence and understanding of the sea he found himself fighting in, as well as his enemy’s mindset, but it also shows off some really cool battle technology of the day (1597). The coolest of this technology: Admiral Y’s turtle ship, a battle ship with a covered deck which made it impossible for enemies to shoot the men standing on the deck with arrow. The ship was also near impossible for an enemy to board.

The battle scenes are definitely worth the watch. The hour leading up to those scenes is just something the viewer has to suffer through.

 

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The Great Doctor (aka Faith)

l_p0024748794Continuing on my Lee Min Ho kick, after watching City Hunter, I then started The Great Doctor (also called Faith). This drama is a historical fiction story, and it was the first historical fiction drama I have watched. The pros: Lee Min Ho is just as cool in this show as he was in City Hunter, the lead female role (played by Kim Hee Sun) is a strong, humorous character, and there are some fantastical elements to the show that make it interesting. On the other hand, there are some characters who are just a bit too cartoonish, and this show really emphasized the fact that I know absolutely nothing about Asian history.

After watching him in City Hunter and The Great Doctor, Lee Min Ho is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors to watch. He’s fun and dry (which is my kind of humor). I also really enjoy watching his action scenes. In this drama, he plays the general of the King’s guard in Korea in the 1300s. Though he looks a bit young to be in such a high position, this was part of the role he was playing, so it all works out.

Having Kim Hee Sun play opposite of Lee Min Ho seemed like an odd choice when I first started the show, mostly because she is so much older than him. But I soon grew to love her. She was out-spoken, funny, and didn’t take any nonsense from the men in this male-dominated time in history. Kim plays a modern day plastic surgeon who is kidnapped by Lee’s character and brought back in time to save the Queen who has been injured and looks likely to die. Kim’s no-nonsense attitude has the men of the 1300s left at a loss for words as they don’t quite no how to handle this woman who doesn’t seem to play by any of society’s rules.

I found it interesting that they chose to include fantastical elements in this historical drama, such as a portal between time periods, and the ability of some of the characters to use an inner energy to enhance their natural abilities. At times it seemed the creators were uncertain just how much of a role these fantastical elements should play in the show, so there were some inconsistencies. However, I am a sci-fi/fantasy fan, so I was okay with the inclusion of these elements. The only thing I would have liked to see done differently would have been for the creators to figure out the logistics of these elements beforehand to minimize the inconsistencies that occurred.

One of the main problems I had with this show was that some of the characters were a bit too cartoonish to be taken seriously. In particular, this guy:

Sung Hoon as Chun Eum Ja2

Sorry. But there was no way to take anything he did very seriously. There were parts in the show where we, as the audience, were supposed to feel bad for him and his hardships, but it was nearly impossible when he looks like he has been taken straight out of an anime and dropped into a live-action show.

Overall, this show taught me that I know absolutely nothing about Asian history. I felt I was missing out on some crucial elements of the show because I didn’t have any contextual information. It actually encouraged me to do some research to learn about the figures in the show and the roles they played in history. This isn’t necessarily a negative aspect of this show, but it definitely did inspire me to fill in some gaps I had in my knowledge of world history. As someone who studies culture as a profession, I am always grateful for opportunities to enhance my knowledge of other cultures.

 

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City Hunter

City Hunter

City Hunter

I have been watching a lot of Asian television dramas lately. This is the influence of a friend who somehow got really interested in Korean dramas about a year ago and has been recommending titles ever since. Of the ones she has recommended, City Hunter is probably my favorite of the Asian TV shows I have seen.

City Hunter is about a young man who has been raised with the sole purpose of taking revenge on several high ranking officials within the Korean government. His father, a special forces team member, was killed by his own country in order to cover up their illegal mission. Our protagonist, Yoon Sung, a.k.a. City Hunter, has been trained since infancy to become the weapon that will avenge those who were killed during that mission.

The show stars Lee Min Ho and Park Min Young as Lee Yoon Sung and Kim Na Na. Kim Na Na is probably one of the best female characters I have seen in a Korean drama. She is feisty, strong, and never just does whatever the leading man tells her to. She wants to make her own way through the world and help the City Hunter in any way she can because she too has her reasons for wanting to get revenge on some of these corrupt government officials.

In all honesty, I have been on a big Lee Min Ho kick lately. And this is the show that started it for me. There is only one way I can describe his character in this show: cool. I especially enjoy the fight scenes in which Yoon Sung moves through a crowd of bad guys, taking each out effortlessly with just his hands and feet as weapons. By the end of the scene, the enemy is spread on the floor and our hero hasn’t even broken a sweat.

I do have to say that Yoon Sung does have a tendency to look very much like a cartoon character at times. Between his hair cut, his wide eyes, and his super skinny frame, there is something about him that doesn’t look quite like a real human being. It is also a bit unbelievable that, with such a distinct look, a small mask that covers his mouth and nose is enough to keep people from realizing he is the City Hunter, but whatever. I guess it is not any less believable than Clark Kent removing his glasses and nobody recognizing him as Superman. That is just how these superhero movies are, I guess.

If I were to recommend a Korean drama, it would surely be this one. Yes, it’s in Korean, but if you don’t mind subtitles, definitely check it out!

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Neighbors: Facing the Fact We’re Growing Up

Last night I saw the new movie Neighbors starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron. The movie is about a young couple with a new baby who has just moved into their first house. They are getting ready to start their grown-up life together. And then a fraternity moves into the vacant house next door. With all the parties, loud music, stunts, and people coming and going at all hours of the night, the couple’s dream of being adults is coming apart.

To be completely honest, this movie was full of a whole lot of stupid. However, I went into it expecting as much. What I wasn’t expecting was how much I ended up being able to relate to the overall theme of the movie.

Let’s get the stupid out of the way first. The R rating comes from the language and nudity throughout the film. Think of all the stupidest hazing gimmicks a frat could run, and they were in there. Some of it got hard to watch at times, but I suffered through.

But once you got past the stupid, there were a lot of things I found myself relating to. As someone who went through college, spent time at frat parties, and is now approaching 30 and trying to act like an adult in society, I realized I had to be seeing this film in a completely different light than the high schoolers sitting in the back of the theater. Growing up is a weird thing, and this film hit the point in so many ways. Just because we get married, get jobs, and have kids, doesn’t mean we want to stop having fun. But what counts as fun starts to change, sometimes without us even realizing it. It’s something we all have to face–the horrible realization that college was years ago, and as grown up as you thought you were then, you’re so much different now.

From IMDB

From IMDB

The hardest thing for me to come to terms with in this one: I was the old people. I don’t like the idea of getting older any more than the characters in the movie did, but it happens so we have to learn to live with it.

Would I recommend this to others? If you like stupid, then yes, because this film if full of it. Otherwise, approach with caution because the stupid is really hard to get past.

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The Road: Questioning Humanity

MV5BMTAwNzk4NTU3NDReQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDg3OTEyODI@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_The Road is a 2009 film based on the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where hope and the lifespan of the human race is slowly dying. Though I’ve never read the book, I know a lot about it. A professor at my school teaches this novel in her class, and I’ve worked with many students writing essays over the novel for her class. Director John Hillcoat does a nice job of capturing the dismal world the characters find themselves in.

The movie follows a man and his boy as they travel south to the sea. Along the way, they search for food, do their best to avoid cannibals, and continue to “carry the fire.” The boy has only ever known this dying world, but the man can remember the time before the world began dying. Because of this, the two characters see their situation through different lenses, thus affecting their viewpoints and actions throughout the film.

One thing I enjoyed about this film is that even though I knew what was going to happen at each point and how it was going to end, I was still emotionally invested. I was sad during sad parts, inspired during moments of hope, and scared during startling scenes. (Though I didn’t really like the being scared part. I don’t like being scared…Notice there are no reviews for horror films on this site.) I believe that the fact this movie could get to me even when I knew what was coming means those who worked on it did their jobs well.

In the end, The Road doesn’t leave you with a happy feeling. But I don’t think it was supposed to. What you do end up with is a question. Is there still hope for the human race?

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Some Like It Hot

Some Like It Hot is a 1959 film starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. In the film, two musicians (Curtis & Lemmon) witness the St. Valentine’s Day massacre in Chicago. In order to escape the city and being run down by the mob, the two dress up as women to join a female band on their way to Florida for a performance. In all honesty, I tend to have a hard time with older movies (a product of my times, I guess). However, this movies didn’t feel like an old movie as I was watching it. It was funny and entertaining, and it made me think a lot about how the times have changed… and how they haven’t.

One thing I thought was great about this film was the cross-dressing. For us to live in such a conservative society when it comes to matters of sexuality, cross-dressing seems to have been a part of our culture for quite some time. It was funny to see the two men in the film try to convince themselves to think and act like girls and then, later in the film, try to remember that they have to be men again. Their take on femininity and their realization of how women really act was quite amusing.

MV5BNzYzMDkzNDQ0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzQ0NDQyNA@@._V1_SX214_One factor in films that I noticed has changed in the last 60 years is the leading lady. Marilyn Monroe is still the icon of femininity, beauty, and sex in our culture even after all this time. But seeing her after being used to seeing the leading women of today was quite a shock. Films today put so much pressure on women to be straight and skinny. Marilyn Monroe was neither of these things. She had full curves and her middle was pretty wide. And yet, she was still beautiful. I can’t help but wonder why we have so greatly changed our perception of what women should look like.

Overall, I enjoyed watching this film. Even if you’re not one for older films, Some Like It Hot deserves your attention. It’s full of comedy, action, romance, music, lies, deception, murder, bad guys, and everything else you could think to fit into a single movie.

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The Lego Movie

From IMDB

From IMDB

For my Valentine’s Day date last night, my boyfriend and I went to see The Lego Movie. Okay, so it wasn’t my first choice, but the movie I wanted to see was sold out by the time we got to the theater, and he was really excited about The Lego Movie, so we went for it. And to my surprise, it was actually pretty good.

The Lego Movie follows the story of a generic construction worker Lego man named Emmet who is nobody special. However, with a little motivation and some help from his new friends, he discovers that he just might be the most important and interesting man in the world.

This is a movie that seems like it would be for kids, but I actually think the adults in the theater enjoyed it more than the kids did. I was surprised by how many young adults without children showed up to watch this movie. And we were all laughing the whole time. I think many of the jokes and references throughout the film were tailored to an older audience.

Actors such as Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, and Will Ferrell supplied the character voices. I think my favorite part of the film was Liam Neeson in his ridiculous role as Good Cop/Bad Cop. Neeson isn’t an actor normally associated with comedic roles. Hearing his voice come out of this hilarious character made it that much funnier. Morgan Freeman also did a great job as Vitruvius, taking his typical wise, old sage role and adding a bit of quirk and humor we’re not used to seeing from him.

So yes, The Lego Movie is for kids. But it’s for adults too. Though I loved Legos growing up, I didn’t think I was really going to enjoy this movie. It turns out, I did. Everything was awesome!

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