Review: The Victims’ Game (誰是被害者)

The Victims' Game | Netflix Official Site

At first glance, The Victims’ Game seems like an ordinary crime drama with the only difference being that the main character is a forensic detective with Asperger’s. Yet, with only 8 episodes, the drama manages to pack in more than the usual cat-and-mouse game and dives deep into a topic that is both painful and controversial: suicide. Also, I find both the English and Mandarin title interesting and quite apt (the Mandarin title translates to “who is the victim?) Indeed, who is the victim?

The drama follows forensic investigator Fang Yi Ren (Joseph Chang!!) who finds out that his estranged daughter (Li Mu) is involved in a series of gruesome serial murders.

I’m a huge fan of a well-made crime thriller and being in a K-drama slump (there’s such thing as too much of a good thing) I was eagerly looking for something that’s…well…not in Korean. And when you have a promising crime thriller with an interesting premise and Joseph Chang as the lead, it’s as if the drama gods hath bestow me with a way out of my slump (I’m still avoiding k-dramas for the time being).

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The Victims’ Game definitely gave me more than I was hoping for. Apart from its intriguing premise, a tightly-written plot that is driven by a father’s desperation to find his estranged daughter and beautiful cinematography and makes you feel like you’re watching one long movie, the drama explores the topic of suicide and mental illness and offers a heart-wrenching yet profound portrayal of a difficult subject.

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First Impressions: Hi Bye, Mama! Ep. 1-2

Hi Bye Mama - AsianWiki

So I’ve just started on the highly-rated Hi Bye, Mama! which has not only been all over my Twitter but also Facebook and Netflix. Having just finished My Mister (IU was so good in it!!) I was probably looking for something light(er?) and fresh, both visually and in the tone. I had tried the first two episodes of Itaewon Class, which I had been anticipating since forever, only to be put off by the amount of angst that seems to smack me right in the face. Doesn’t help that it’s quarantine season and I’ve been stuck at home in my PJs for the last one month.

So I’m currently two episodes in Hi Bye, Mama! and I’m glad to say that I’m really liking it! While the show does contain some level of angst, it’s the kind of angst that’s not overly done and the show balances it nicely with some lighthearted humour and fresh, bright colours.

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

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The show didn’t waste any time in setting up the premise. The story moves quickly and within the first two episodes, we get the basic set-up of the story and the main conflict of the plot. Not only that, but we are also introduced to the side characters and their backstories, which will undoubtedly unravel in the later episodes.

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To-Watch List: March

It’s 2020 and we’re slowly creeping our way into the month of March. Wasn’t it just yesterday when we were celebrating New Year? Then again, it’s only been two months into the new year and so many things have been happening already that it’s becoming hard to keep track of the year progressing forward.

And new films and dramas are just popping out all over the place that my to-watch list is just getting longer and longer. Netflix has been popping out more quality Asian films and TV shows (probably thanks to Bong Joon Ho’s epic Oscar win) I’m getting pretty overwhelmed at having to keep track of all the shows that have piqued my interest but have yet to find the time (or mental space) to start bingeing. And since March is just rolling in, I thought I’ll at least compile a list that I can (hopefully) go through for the month!

MOVIES

1. Parasite

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Directed by: Bong Joon Ho 
Released: 2019
Country: Korea
Genre: Thriller, Dark Comedy, Satire


Summary:

The poverty-stricken Kim family con their way into the lives of the wealthy Parks. But their plan goes wrong as their deception gives way into something darker.
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Review: Good Morning Call (グッドモーニング・コール)

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Started off cute with great chemistry between the leads and a refreshing female lead that showed a bit of backbone. Before meandering into the usual IloveyoubutdoyouevenlovemeImsojealous which I eventually dropped and promptly moved on. 

Jdramas have been off my radar for quite a few years now. Mostly since I haven’t chanced upon anything in particular that has caught my interest. But now that I finally have a reason to pick up Japanese again (I’m going to Japan!!!) I’ve been on a hunt for a good Jdrama where I can take a break but also pick up some vocab along the way.

Review:

Good Morning Call started really cute with great chemistry between the leads. The plot is similar to the Jdrama classic Itazura Na Kiss and it’s Korean remake, Playful Kiss which starred Kim Hyun Joong and Jung So Min. And since I loved Playful Kiss (this was when I was 14 though) it was no surprise that I got hooked. 

But alas, this turned out to be a whirlwind romance that didn’t quite make it.

After 12 episodes, I had made the prompt decision to drop it and move on. Uni may be over but there’s still plenty of dramas out there to waste my unproductive life away.

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WHAT GOT ME HOOKED

To be fair, the show started off really cute and engaging. There were parts where I felt were done really well and gave a fresh spin on an old, tropey romance plot. So I thought I’ll share some of the stuff that I liked, and what made this show worth blogging about.

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Review: Suits (슈츠)

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The original TV series Suits achieved international fame when it was released in the US in 2011. Even if I never did watch the original version nor had any interest in American TV shows, I would have to be living under a rock to not know it. But it was a pleasant surprise to realise (nearly a year too late) that there is a Korean remake of Suits and it’s available on Netflix?

The premise definitely caught my attention, even if the synopsis available on Netflix…leaves room for improvement. And I’m happy to say that I was thoroughly hooked all the way through. Every time I made up my mind to move away and do something else, I ended up going for just one more episode. This is not to say the show is without flaws…there were plenty of times where I couldn’t help but fast-forward. And also parts where I found it hard to catch up with the plot, particularly the cases that the characters were working on. Which is kind of a shame since…that’s the best part of a court drama, right? However, show makes up for it with compelling characters and relationships that are imbued with so much chemistry I couldn’t help but smile to myself like a crazy person. In fact, I think the relationships are the true gems in this show and quite honestly, mostly what kept me hooked on this show.

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Year-End Drama Round-up: 2019

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2019 has been an interesting year of drama-watching for me. It wasn’t until I was recommending to a friend all the new shows I’ve been watching that I realised how much I was drawn to dramas with ensemble casts, and not only that but also dramas that focus largely on women! Most surprising of all is how my entire year of drama-watching has been almost entirely filled with K-dramas. To most of you it may not be unusual but for me, who had always consciously avoided K-dramas, this was definitely surprising indeed! It seems K-dramas has since evolved from Boys Over Flowers inspired idol dramas to embrace a wider range of genres and experimenting with unique ways of storytelling. Or maybe it’s international audiences that have found and loved other genres circling within the k-drama world.

I was going to categorise all the dramas I’ve seen into separate genres except…most fall under the Slice-of-life category with exception to a couple. That said, read on as I round-up a list of dramas that I loved, dropped or simply forgot about (until I started googling) for this 2019.

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Review: Search WWW (검색어를 입력하세요: WWW)

 

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A drama about three powerful women who are not afraid to fight for what they believe in while doing so with the utmost dignity and beauty.

What more can you ask for?

Review:

I had finally finished a year-long research project at uni and celebrating my newfound freedom after a gruelling, stress-induced year. I’m a huge sucker for dramas that are realistic, slice-of-life and bonus points if the main character is a kick-ass female whom I can relate to. So of course when I saw that kfangurl was raving about Search WWW, I knew I had found the drama for which I can unwind to.

To be honest, I didn’t have much expectations going into this drama. The premise didn’t exactly catch my attention (I have no interest in web portals) and it’s a Korean drama (if you’ve been here long enough, you know I have an unfair prejudice against k-dramas that I’m trying to curb). But since it’s on Netflix I thought I’ll give it a try.

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Review: Romance Is A Bonus Book (로맨스는 별책부록)

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More than a noona romance, Romance Is A Bonus Book is a Kdrama with heart. A rom-com that’s more than the romance, but about the struggles of being a woman. 

I was looking out for a new drama to start on Netflix since I had just completed an assignment from uni and was in need of a break to let my mind relax and die a little. I had seen RIABB floating around Netflix for a while but it wasn’t until I saw kfangurl’s‘s review on this show and seeing that she really liked it, thought I should give it a try.

And I am SO glad I did.

To be honest, I was never a fan of noona romances and especially with k-dramas. At first glance, RIABB reminded me a little of Something In The Rain (Pretty Noona Buys Me Food) which I eventually dropped because it was getting boring. But RIABB exceeded way past my expectations and got me hooked. I kept thinking about the show when I’m not watching. And when I am, I couldn’t stop. It also just so happened that I’m recovering from a really bad flu which gives me an excuse to spend an entire day bingeing on Kdramas without guilt. I definitely made good use of my sick break with this show.

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Movie Review: Dear Ex (谁先爱上他的)

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I was quite surprised when I first saw the trailer for Dear Ex popping up onto my Netflix page. More from the fact that Netflix is endorsing more “indie” Asian films that don’t happen to call into the category of “coming-of-age romance” (though they should seriously buy over You’re The Apple Of My Eye). The trailer sucked me in and I was so looking forward to watching the film. And I’m glad it didn’t disappoint. 

Synopsis:

The lives of three people converge when a man dies and puts his male lover as the inheritor of his insurance money, leaving his wife and his son to grief his loss and fight for their rights to the money as well as their place in a dead man’s life.

Review:

The film is an exploration of grief and marriage, posing the question of, “who is the rightful partner? The legal one, or the one the heart longs for?” It’s an interesting dynamic considering the 小三 (slang for ‘mistress’) is in fact a 小王 (male version of the mistress). A twist from the usual wife vs concubine narrative that has plagued Asian screens. The story, told from the perspective of the son, portrays the characters in their ugly, unlikeable selves – including the son himself.

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Review: Secrets In The Hot Spring (切小金家的旅館)

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Synopsis:
Xiao Jin is a 20 year old delinquent high schooler who gets a call from his grandparents and returns to the old family spa hotel with his friends, Lu Qun and Little Princess, only to find out that the hotel is haunted.

Review:

Taiwan seems to be on a roll for “youth films” with films like Boyfriend, GirlfriendYou’re The Apple of My Eye and Our Times that every time I see a “youth movie” from Taiwan I’m almost tempted to lap it up. Of course, I’ve experienced many, MANY disappointments where I cringed at another dumb slapstick classroom humour and shallow characters dangling their legs as while looking out into the far off horizon.

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