What is this madness? It’s almost the eve of February and here I am with another year-end review, right? Nah, let’s just call this a ‘collective film review’.
What a great year for Chungmuro! Bravo! It was filled with so many delights. I found myself striking gold subsequently with each flick that I casually picked. Even from those I least expected to deliver. Though to varying degrees, some were more magical than others, but of the ten I watched I was dissatisfied with absolutely none — which is quite amazing. Considering I’ve suffered for a handful of years now where the couple of films I did watch left a LOT to be desired. And what was with these posters, man? Coincidentally poor Kim Sae-ron was getting herself kidnapped in every single one of those (though I never watched them, so pardon the inaccuracies). But I digress.
Not to fret, I took a crash-course in how to write reviews sans spoilers, so go ahead and read. I might sound redundant and vague as a consequence of being spoiler-free though (aha, that sounds like a good excuse for sloppy writing!).
Why am I late with my 2011 reviews? You may be asking yourself this question, and I have the answer: 2011 just ended about 72 hours ago, depending on your locale, and I refuse to compare and contrast dramas that are not complete yet. I also had to take a little bit of time to think things over and ring in the New Year. All of that is now done, and here are my reviews for 2011.
2011 has made me ponder my relationship with K-drama. Why do I spend so much time watching? Why do I expend so much energy writing about it?
I’m in a contemplative mood at the end of 2011. Not because it has been a great year in k-drama for me, but because it’s been the worst year since I started watching in 2008. This is probably due to my taste shifting and my becoming somewhat more demanding of my k-dramas, but perhaps it’s also the case that 2011 really hasn’t been a vintage year. It was not altogether hopeless; there were enough wins to keep me from abandoning k-drama altogether. But it seems beyond doubt that for me the flush of k-drama first love, when anything might be forgiven, is long over.
This year has been a wild ride in k-dramaland. From the excesses of Secret Garden fandom to little shows popping up on new cable channels, it’s been interesting to say the least.
I made a list and checked it twice, and I was struck by the number of shows that I had watched at least part of and then bleached from my brain. Admittedly a couple of them ended in January, so I was thinking of them as last year’s shows, but still, that there is a whole lot of drama.
Imagine waking up every morning with a song in your heart even if the sky is overcast and there’s a chill in the air. Imagine walking out to an orchard where the trees you have painstakingly planted years ago are now bearing fruit. Yes, branch after branch laden with pears for the picking. Imagine watching as the ducklings you have raised by hand dive headlong into their feed, their boisterous squeaks music to your ears.
Now imagine having all that taken away from you.
I have been known to whine about shows which are not realistic. But when I tune into a three-episode cable tv show about a girl assassin, I’m not really looking for realism. No siree. What I am looking for is badass. And Girl K (or Killer K) is BADASS.
An action thriller has to be, above all else, exciting. Realism isn’t really the point. But the story still needs to be grounded in some kind of reality. We’ve all watched the action movie with explosions galore, but were left quite unmoved because (a) the story was stupid, (b) we didn’t care about the characters, who were stupid, (c) the non-stop action was loud and dramatic, but unrealistic to the point of mind-numbing, or (d) all of the above. An action thriller needs to balance compelling action (for which, hang realism) and engagement (for which, bring realistic human interest).
As we start episode 29, Dong Soo is riding out to meet Un. They go for a walk, and Dong Soo tells Un that he should come back to them. They run across a group of boys playing at swords, and Un helps the one who lost and shows him how to hold a sword. They reflect back to being that young, and Un says that had he known back then what he does now, he never would have picked up a sword, and regrets it every day. Dong Soo tells him that he doesn’t need to carry all of the burden for his actions.