The Royal Tailor (Korean Movie 2014)

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Movie Rating: 9/10

Dol Seok was a lowborn slave who raised to the ranks of head tailor in the royal palace.

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For 30 years he has worked with his hands until callouses has mangled his fingers, however it was known that he was the best tailor in the entire land. That was until he met Kong Jin, a vulgar man who makes clothes for gisaengs. One of the palace workers named Pan Soo had problems with his uniform and he requested Kong Jin to alter it. At first Kong Jin was hesitant to help him out because he only worked on Gisaeng’s clothing but his creativity and imagination couldn’t help expand his expertise that he was able to alter Pan Soo’s clothing better than what was expected. That’s how word went out about his work that he was recommended to the other palace workers until his name reached the Queen. She wanted to fix the king’s

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garment used for a special occasion and assigned the task to her maids. However, instead of fixing it, the clothing was burned and sought out the help of the head tailor, but he said it was beyond repair. That was how Kong Jin was called into the palace and sees the Queen for the first time that he was mesmerized and promised to repair the King’s garment for her. During this time, Dol Seok and Kong Jin forms an unlikely friendship, one that is mixed with respect and jealousy. As time pass by and Kong Jin’s works becomes more bold and daring, Joseon’s fashion slowly changed as women try to copy the Queen’s fashion trend. All the while rumors circulate in the palace that the Queen and her tailor are having an affair driving the King mad with jealousy, despite his indifference to his wife since the day they were married.

This movie is such a compelling watch even though it’s far from being perfect, I still do not understand why there are a lot of negative reviews about it. I’m not sure if the reviewers even understood the bigger picture of this show. This is the reason why I have put this movie aside for so long that it took me 4 years to check it out. I realized that I’ve read bad reviews about it that it’s a must that I make my own version to make sure people will not miss out on it.

First of all, the actors of this movie are veterans and they were really good. They actually did an awesome portrayal of their roles. I would like to start off with my favorite supporting actor in this film, which was Pan Soo who was acted by Ma Dong Seok.

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Because of him, there were a lot of comic relief despite the seriousness the movie had in store for the viewers. Thanks to him, the first quarter of this movie was a joy to watch. The next ones are Dol Seok and Kong Jin which was acted by Han Seok Kyu and Go Soo, their uncanny friendship which was brought by the love of making clothes was palpable that it was hard to feel bad when things had gone astray for the both of them. I especially liked how their dreams intertwined with each other and yet they both made different

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choices and the path that they took separately lead them to be what they were meant to become. The Queen and King, portrayed by Park Shin Hye and Yoo Yeon Seok suited the role, because the royal clothes certainly looked regal when they wore them. Their characters had their own backstory to tell, since their relationship prior to getting married seemed like a fairytale story but it was simply marred by power struggle and inferiority complex. The Queen and Kong Jin on the other hand, had this peculiar relationship as of a royalty and a subject but then since it was obvious that Kong Jin was smitten by the Queen, there is that very thin line that cannot be crossed between a married woman and a man. I would tell more about my thoughts regarding their

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characters but I will have to put it in a spoiler below, because it would reveal key points and major story plots from the movie. Oh, before I forget – I should mention one antagonist that really caught my attention because I totally wanted to bitch slap her character. Royal Concubine Soo Ui acted by Lee Yoo Bi was the kind of woman I would like to strangle due to her power hungry heart and her viciousness. For a royal concubine as ambitious as hers, I’d definitely want to see her fall from her power.

The cinematography of the movie was beautiful and colorful, though most scenes were

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shot inside the palace, what made it great were the clothes. There were all kinds of clothes ranging from the ones Gisaengs were wearing up to those in the royal court. As for the story line, it didn’t feel draggy or over the top, however some people felt that the film was a bit rushed. In my opinion, the pacing was alright and that everything that has transpired in the movie was as clear as it could be. The only thing I would have changed if it was up to me, was add more on the back story of several characters like the King and Kong Jin. I would have wanted to know them better if not because of the time restriction. It’s not that necessary though, since the story

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is about the current occurrences in the palace, the clothes they are wearing and how it moved and revolutionized fashion during that era. I know that not everyone cares much about their clothing ensemble or any trending fashion but it’s best to appreciate this film through Kong Jin. He’s the kind of person who loved clothes and has the guts to innovate and because of him, a lowly tailor during a time of heirarchy, was able to stir political power for the King and Queen.

Music wise, it felt like I was watching a saguek drama since most of them has a background music that felt like I was listening to Pansori music but other than that, music flow was great that it moved my emotions while I watched the show. I’m highly recommending this to those who like to watch saguek and those who love clothes.

Photos are not mine. Credits to the owner.

*MAJOR SPOILERS*

Highlight to see text below.

Here are my thoughts about the main character’s relationship.

Dol Seok to Kong Jin – I love their relationship despite the self imposed rivalry for Dol Seok’s part. He is filled with awe and respect for Kong Jin’s work and yet he is also afraid and jealous because at the other side of the coin, he can be overthrown from his position, which actually happened because someone better came along. Though it was a bit vague if he remained as a head tailor in the palace, the fact that he was supposed to become a noble man in a couple of months. It was shown in the last scene that he was waiting at his home for the King’s royal decree which looked like it was not going to happen and yet he kept on waiting. It was sad that he did so much for the King but his loyalty was overshadowed by his limited talent and the King’s inferiority complex.

Kong Jin to Dol Seok – All he ever wanted was to make clothes for people, to make them look good and let them feel great about themselves. I love the way he respected Dol Seok because of his roots. Both of them were commoners, but Dol Seok was sought out by the King himself that it elevated his status among other people. However that’s not the main reason why Kong Jin liked him, it was because he knew that Dol Seok loved making clothes and that he had dedicated his whole life to making clothes. He knew that Dol Seok understood how he felt about the garments he made. Despite Kong Jin being eccentric and bold with his creations, he did not allow fear to consume him and so he still liked Dol Seok up to the very end even though he knew that he was about to die because Dol Seok make a copy-cat of his work. That particular scene when they were talking inside the jail was heart wrenching because despite how evil or mean Dol Seok seem to be, at the end when Kong Jin was gone and Dol Seok was burning Kong Jin’s remaining works, he found a nobleman’s garment that Kong Jin promised to make for him when he gets promoted. I think in that scene he realized how important Kong Jin was to him and the loss of a friend finally settled into his heart.

Kong Jin, the Queen and the King – During the early scenes when Kong Jin first met the Queen, it was implied how much he liked her as a woman and therefore she became his muse and inspiration. The proof was also the gold headdress that the Queen gave him as a gift for helping her out along with the message that he should give it to a woman he likes. Near the end of the movie, it was shown that he gave it back to her, implying that she was the one he liked. That’s why he made daring clothes for her not thinking what it would cost him. I like the huge difference between him and the King when it came to their personalities. Though the King loved the Queen, he could not let down his pride and come to her. It took a brilliant tailor to create an extravagant attire, the approval and appreciation of the Ming ambassadors and the failure of the opposing officials to humiliate the King before he went to seek the Queen but in the end it was too late. If my interpretations were right, the Queen did fall in love with Kong Jin because she accepted the hairpin and actually wore it. She also tried to save Kong Jin in her own way even though it was to no avail, at least she tried. She also mourned for his death using the handkerchief he gave her with an embroidery of her mother’s favorite flower.

The ending was beautiful despite the death of Kong Jin, it shows the impact of a man who moved the nation with his ideas and principles despite it being as simple as through clothes.

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My Teacher (Japanese Movie 2017)

Synopsis:

Based on the manga series of the same name by Kawahara Kazune. Sophomore and representative of the archery club, Shimada Hibiki is a 17-year-old student who has never been in love. During her high school’s entrance ceremony she sees Kosaku Ito, her 26-year-old world history teacher, who is well known to be a stern and cold person. Hibiki, rescued by Ito after a minor incident, discovers that their teacher is actually compassionate towards others and starts to develop romantic feelings for him. Hibiki confesses, and her honest and young love begins to slowly melt Ito’s heart.

Excerpted from: MyDramalist

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Words from me:

I have ambivalent feelings about this movie.

I love Ikuta Toma but it feels like the whole movie lacks substance and is focused on the high school girl’s love towards her teacher. The manga probably would have been really good but the Movie adaptation wasn’t able to live up to the hype and simply felt like there was some sense of pedophilia in all of these even though the story tries to tell me that it’s supposed to be “pure love” between a man and a young woman. However, watching it all unfold still felt weird.

It’s really sad that I have so many complaints with the script and story line, but setting those aside, I totally love the actors. I’ve been following Ikuta Toma’s work for quite some time now and this is probably one of the best characters that I’ve seen him in. I like the fact that his character was a total tsundere – this is a Japanese term that describes a person who is initially cold or hostile before gradually showing a warmer, friendlier side over time. Personally, I think this kind of character is perfect for him. Then there’s Hirose Suzu, the fact that she’s pretty even with short hair is kind of killing me. How can someone look so great even with short hair??? Besides that, I think her pairing up with Toma for this movie is the best choice. Despite the lackluster of the script, both actors look really great together. They are simply an eye candy to watch. As for the supporting characters, there’s nothing much to mention because even if they were not there, I think the drama between the main leads could still push forward.

There are no problems with the actors or their acting. I think they were really great, the problem lies solely from the script. For those who had read the manga, they would have probably understood the scene even without the dialogue, but for someone like me who had no idea about the original story, I had to second guess what the characters wanted to imply with what they were saying.

Cinematography wise, the scenes were really lovely. There was this overall sepia feel to it that makes the whole movie seem dreamlike. The OST wasn’t really that memorable for me despite the melancholic soft tones. I didn’t have the last song syndrome for it even during the important scenes. All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this movie for those who are looking a meaningful show to watch, but in case someone is looking for a movie to pass time with, this would be a nice film to check out.

Ajin (Japanese Movie 2017)

Synopsis:

An Ajin is considered as a demigod because they cannot die.

Nagai Kei only wanted to live peacefully, become a doctor and save his little sister from her illness. However, fate wanted something different for him. He discovered that he was an Ajin when he was accidentally hit by a truck and died on the spot but miraculously came back to life. This was caught on video which was quickly discovered by the government. As soon as they got hold of him, they immediately conducted research experiments on his body as if he was a guinea pig.

There were two other Ajins whom the government experimented earlier on, Satou and Tanaka Kouji who were called subject 001 and 002. They were able to escape the facility before Nagai was discovered. Both decided to go back and attack the place to save Nagai. Satou, the main instigator of the raid wanted to recruit Nagai to join their cause in killing humanity and letting only the Ajins remain on earth.

Words from Me:

The main reason I wanted to watch this was because of Sato Takeru and the sci-fi-action scenes wherein I get to see unimaginable things including some gory stuff for the fight sequence. That being said, I wasn’t entirely disappointed with my expectations, however the movie’s narrative felt lacking. It seemed as if it was rushed to give way to the battle that would take place between humans and the Ajin. They weren’t able to highlight the background story of each character which I think was vital for the whole movie to make more sense into what was happening. Another drawback for me was the subtitle. I watched this with crappy subtitles. So I advise those who are planning to watch this to please refrain from seeing it in Kissasian because the hard subs would definitely leave you annoyed and dissatisfied.

Setting that aside, what I liked about the film aside from the main lead and the violence are the other sub characters including the antagonists. I love Shirota Yu ever since I’ve first seen him back in 2007 from the drama “Hanazakari no Kimitachi e”, it was great seeing him here despite being the side-kick of a bad guy. Ayano Go as the main evil guy works well for me too. I liked how he brought his role to life, because his character is the type I would love and hate at the same time. Lastly there’s Kawaei Rina as Shimomura Izumi, the only female character in this whole movie who kicked ass. She may be the smallest and most vulnerable looking in the cast, but heck! This woman could throw punches and give head locks like any other MMA fighters out there.

Music wise, I appreciated the loud rock music that accompanied most action scenes. It made me feel pumped up every time I watched those scenes. Over all I liked the movie and would recommend it to those who wouldn’t mind watching an action packed film despite the lack of background story. I would also suggest to find a better streaming site that hosts this movie and make sure that the subtitles are translated well enough.

Ao to Shiro de Mizuiro (Japanese Movie 2001)

Synopsis: 

Uchiyama Kaede (Miyazaki Aoi) and Shiina Kasumi (Aoi Yuu) used to be best friends. Now in high school, Kasumi grew more popular than Kaede, which has led her to continually bully her ex-best friend. One day after school, Kaede meets Kishida Takumi (Oguri Shun), a bike thief who’s especially talented in picking locks. She asks him for a favour: if he could possibly open the key to the school roof. Meanwhile, the arrival of a new teacher (Konishi Manami) seems to bring changes to the school.

Excerpted from: Drama Wiki

Words from Me:

The film was short, simple and has a lot in it. Although I didn’t understand 75% of what they’re talking about, I was able to get the gist of the whole movie. What I love about it is that it doesn’t need much words for me to understand what was really happening on screen. Still, I would really love to see this with subs! It was a good watch especially for teenagers who are having troubles in school and bullying.

The film shows two unlikely characters meeting and helping each other in the most critical circumstances. The storyline is quite heavy as the theme is about bullying and suicide. In a place where a person feels isolated and hurt, despair usually creeps in and when that happens, the mind can make a person think irrationally. The ending was pretty much special for me and I personally think it was directed well. The last scene kind of gives you a glimpse of a drastic change due to a decision that was made.

Since this is a fairly old movie, the main characters Miyazaki Aoi, Oguri Shun and Aoi Yu wer still young and looked like they were still in their teens. Even though they were young, that doesn’t mean they did not portray their characters well, because they were good that dialogues weren’t that much important.

That’s all I could say about this movie because if I talk some more about it, I’ll just probably blurt out some spoilers, so I’d rather have people checking it out instead.

 

The Man from Nowhere (Korean Movie 2010)

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Since today is my birthday and I want to share something that I really like, I’m republishing this post to those who love action movies.

Synopsis:

Cha Tae Shik is a quiet pawnshop keeper in a rundown neighborhood who has  formed quite a unique friendship with his next-door neighbor Jeong So Mi. She is a young child who’s the daughter of Kim Yeon Soo, a pub dancer and drug junkie.

One day, Yeon Soo got caught up in a drug ruse with some powerful gangsters, which resulted in getting herself kidnapped along with her daughter. Unexpectedly Tae Shik became involved and this is when he started the manhunt to save little So Mi from her abductors.

Words From Me:

Initially, I wanted to watch Ip Man rather than this movie, but then my male cousin was insisting on watching this film because he has already started it and kept talking about how awesome it was. I had no idea what I was getting myself into until I started watching it.

So here are the things I learned about “The Man from Nowhere”:
It was a highly acclaimed film back in 2010-2011.
Won Bin acted as the main character.
The young female actress was Kim Sae Ron.

These names are pretty much known in the Korean entertainment industry up to this day and I can’t believe I missed this film back then. I’ve seen several posters as a reference to this movie in different dramas which states that it was an epic accomplishment for any filmmaker.

But ‘nuff said about that.

What made me like this movie (aside from Won Bin) was how it was action packed and yet emotional. Doesn’t matter that the theme was similar to several old films i.e. Leon – The Professional, which starred Natalie Portman when she was still a young kid. It wasn’t exactly about the story line or the theme. It was more about the character execution of the actors. The young Kim Sae Ron as Jeong So Mi was such an endearing character for so many reasons. On the other hand, Won Bin as Ahjussi absorbed her quirkiness. This emotional exchange goes both ways though, as his character was such an eccentric and aloof person but despite that, So Mi was able to love him as he is, like that of a daughter, while Ahjussi loved her all the same as a father. Their screen time together was so palpable it clenched my heart to watch them all throughout the film.

Then there’s also those supporting characters acted by Kim Hee Won and Kim Sung Oh (oh how I freaking love this guy!!! I always love watching him act regardless if he’s a main character or a supporting one). These pair are the kind of people you would want to bury alive. I was gritting my teeth while watching them, they looked like a bunch of fools but they are both street smart and had evil souls. They work so well as the villains. I sooooo love to hate them. Then, put in the thailander Wongtrakul Thanayong as Ramrowan in the mix, the antagonist circle is complete. The guy is such a charismatic assassin, I like him so much because his character is someone who is in for the fight and not exactly for the killing.

On the other aspects of the film, the cinematography and awesome action scenes was spot on and never felt redundant. The heart racing scenes weren’t overwhelming. They were shown with perfect timing which was one of the best things an action film can do. It doesn’t seem tiring to watch. Even though some of the scenes were visually disturbing, I still felt like asking for more because I was looking forward to justice at the end of it all.

For a film with a storyline that centralized about drugs, human trafficking and gangs… it seemed impossible to put in an emotional aspect in all of the chaos happening, but no. The Man from Nowhere is different because it was able to pull in the audience (like me!) in an emotional wreck. I also admire the transition of the main character from his past character to his present and then back again, it made him seem more… human.  And then insert the back ground music, things couldn’t be more perfect.

One thing I try not to think too much about is associating Cha Tae Shik to the character of Robert McCall which Denzel Washington portrayed in the movie “Equalizer”. Both characters were fearless and mind-blowing-badass that they are so freaking similar. I don’t want to talk too much about their similarities hence the spoiler. You must check both movies to see the resemblance of characters for yourself. I will probably re-watch this in the near future, but as of now, I will meditate in the memory of such an astounding film.

Highly recommending this to all action-buffs out there.

Fabricated City (Korean Movie 2017)

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Synopsis:

Kwoon Yoo is a great tactician in the virtual world and is called “Captain” by a bunch of other gamers who follows him around. They trust his decisions in every game, thus their team always win. However, though they get the final victory, his character always end up dead because he can’t resist sacrificing himself to save his teammate who is in dire need which makes him a revered man in the gaming world.

In reality, Kwoon Yoo is just an unemployed man who can only afford to eat cup ramen noodles and is having difficulty finding a proper job. He sometimes visits his mother who continuously believes in him and tries to support him in any way she can.

One day, he is framed for a murder he did not commit earning him a ticket in jail without bail. Everything in his life gets messed up until he is helped by the same people he always spend time with, the gamers who call him captain. He was helped by “Mr. Hairy” whom he always saves and end up sacrificing his life for in the virtual world. When he finally meets everyone in real life, he was in for a surprise because they were all willing to sacrifice their lives to help him and get his name cleared out.

Words from Me:

To be honest, I watched this movie in VIU via streaming for the sole reason of seeing Ji Chang Wook prior to his enlistment in the military. I had no idea what it was about, except that the title triggered my curiosity. When I started watching, the movie did not disappoint despite the slow build up in the first half of the story. I guess it was the introductory part that made it a bit draggy for me. Yet it was action packed and bloody as per my expectation. The title “Fabricated City” was very appropriate because the concocted false situations for the victims were orchestrated really well.

I like how they used the virtual world as a benchmark to make the fabrications seem like reality. Another part that I liked in this movie were the characters. The ones who supported the main actor were really a bunch of misfits who seemed like they can’t do anything right in the real world. The most surprising one for me was Mr. Hairy due to reasons I won’t reveal because I hate to be the bearer of major spoilers. On another note, the villain in the movie is another interesting character. Min Cheon Sang is the type of antagonist you’d love to hate because he is crazy and he knows that he’s good at what he does but still… he’s very demented.

Music wise, there’s nothing really memorable about it because there were a lot of kick ass moment on screen to pay attention to. Aside that, I’m recommending this for those who are in for an action packed ride who likes computers, hackers, mind blowing set ups and cons.

 

March Comes in Like a Lion – Part 1 (Japanese Movie 2017)

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Synopsis:

Kiriyama Kei is one of the youngest Shogi player in Japan who became a professional at the age of 17.  He was orphaned at a young age when his parents and little sister died in a car accident. Adopted by his father’s best friend whose name was Kode Sachika, he was trained to play Shogi.

Kei was welcomed by his adoptive father and mother into their family, however it was not to same with his step brother and sister who aspired to be professional Shogi players like their father. Due to this, it pushed Kei to do well in Shogi too. As time went on, he surpassed both of his adoptive siblings who cannot beat him in the game even as a young child. This caused a rift in the family and eventually drove Kei to leave the house and live alone even though he was only a high school student. Despite the ordeal, he pushed through with Shogi which he thought was all he had until an incident gave him the opportunity to meet other people whom he started to care for more than Shogi.

Words from Me:

I have no idea what shogi was and how it was played until I watched this movie. For a film about a national game in Japan, this sure is a passionate one. To make Shogi seem familiar, it is the equivalent of the game “Chess” which is a known game by everyone who knows the western culture. Chess uses carved woods of knights-king-queen-pawn-etc. to play the game. In Korea the equivalent of this game is “Baduk” but with the use of black and white circular smooth stones to move around the board. In Shogi, they use small wooden tablets with character carvings on them.

In this part of the movie, back stories were shown to introduce the characters. Kirimiya Kei was acted by Kamiki Ryunosuke who is currently one of the prestigious young actors in Japan today. He’s a really good actor since childhood and I think he will get better as time goes on. In this film, he definitely nailed his character which portrayed a young man who was living in an empty shell all by himself and never felt the love of anyone until he met a family that took him in and made him a better person than he already was.

I really like how Kei’s character was such a naïve young man who was good at what he does despite not liking the thing that makes him feel alive. There are actually a lot of people who cared for him prior to meeting the Kawamoto Family, but he was too closed off to notice that. He only realized it when he started to open up his heart to the people he barely knew. There’s also that love and hate relationship he had with his step sister who hated his guts when they were kids and seem to hate him still when they became adults. Yet they have this weird bond in which they are able to comfort each other regardless of how fragile their connection with each other was. I’d like to quote Kei’s over voice regarding their situation which explains pretty much how they relate with each other:

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“Without anything changing, without being able to change anything… we are unable to become siblings or strangers…” – Kiriyama Kei