Friday Flix: Faith/The Great Doctor

friday flix jae scribblesWelcome to another edition of Friday Flix. This time we’re delving once again into the realm of Korean dramas. Seriously, whoever in Korea gave the OK to broadcast this stuff on Hulu and Netflix should get a huge raise. And whoever is holding back Japanese dramas from making it onto these same platforms should be fired. K-Dramas are taking over and we don’t mind.

Although there are much better Lee Min Ho dramas to be had (and Korean dramas at that) I still wanted to discuss the show Faith (also known as The Great Doctor). The description from Hulu:

Lee Min Ho stars in a thrilling fantasy epic, as an elite warrior in 1300s Korea who travels to the 21st century to find a doctor capable of healing the Queen. In a comic twist, his search for a doctor with godlike abilities leads him to a popular plastic surgeon, played by Kim Hee Sun. When she refuses to believe his outlandish story, he kidnaps her, dragging her back into the past to save the Queen. Will this stoic warrior give up his code of honor and choose love over war, and will this career woman ever consider a life less modern? Only time will tell, quite literally.

Those of you that have been on the edges of your seats for a Korean drama based on the politics and everyday happening of 1300s Korea, look no further. Seriously, don’t. That part of the show practically bored me to death. But as I’ve said to my friend Heidi, where there’s a Lee Min Ho, there’s a way. This series is available free on Hulu (as Faith) or on Netflix commercial-free (as The Great Doctor).

THE GOOD

Did I mention LMH is in it? That’s probably enough for most of you ladies right there. And he’s pretty much a superhero samurai (yes, I know samurai is Japanese, but you get the idea). Much as I liked seeing LMH being an action hero in City Hunter, I also enjoyed seeing him hack and slash away with a sword and occasional lightning power (more on that in a minute).

In one sense this show has all the great workings of a Bollywood movie. They just needed to break out into song once or twice. They even have the nefarious mustached man and his weirdo sidekicks. But as far as dramas go, I did like that the lead female character wasn’t completely helpless and had value outside of her relationship with men. I also liked that one of the villains was a smart, strong female. For a 1300s drama, it’s fairly progressive in that sense.

Plus it’s got time travel in it. You know I LURV me some time travel elements. Especially when future time travel whatnots interact with present time travel whatnots. I don’t want to spoil too much, but think Prisoner of Azkaban in the way they approach time travel. They don’t delve into it a lot until right toward the end, then it comes together in a pleasing manner. That part of the writing was done well.

I also like that they tried to pull off the gray-haired characters. I imagine this is something like what Inuyasha would look like if they tried to do a live-action version of that anime. (And they could try. Rurouni Kenshin was well done).

THE BAD

Remember in the prequels when we spent more than five seconds on the politics of the universe? Remember how your rabid Star Wars fanboy friend had to wake you up once those scenes were finally over? Well, unless you’ve got a real penchant for old school Korean politics and the workings of a kingdom, prepare yourself for parts I didn’t feel bad fast forwarding through. Often it reminded me of why I’m glad we said farewell to kings and queens a long time ago.

The show has a hurry up and wait pacing. At times the action will be crazy awesome and you’ll feel like things are moving along and the story is really pulling you in and then… And then it slows back down to accommodate more explanation of politics. Yay politics!

A few people have superpowers. You may wonder why I’m listing this under the bad. It’s not the fact that they have superpowers that is the problem. It’s just that the powers are plot devices at best. The only ones who really get to enjoy using their powers are Fire Lady and White Hair. No explanation is offered as to why some people have powers and others don’t. We are told LMH used to belong to a group of superpowered freaks, but as for good guys now, it’s just him.

Beware the firestarter.

Beware the firestarter.

The main antagonist, Creepy Mustache has really strong freeze powers, but I guess he’s used them too much or they take too bad a toll on him, so they’re hard for him to use, so he doesn’t much.

Creepy Mustache and his misfits.

LMH has a cool lightning power he uses a lot in the first episode or two, but then you practically forget he has them until Creepy Mustache or the power twins threaten him with their powers. As far as I can tell the powers are at best a plot device the writers pull out when they’re not sure what to do with a scene otherwise.

One small nitpick is the Great Doctor is extremely obnoxious the first few episodes, but I think it works because in the end she calms down and she grows on you. And I think we’re meant to see her character arc from bratty 21st century gal to mature woman that can handle just about anything.

THE CONCLUSION

I wouldn’t recommend starting off your K-drama experience with this one in particular. It took me awhile to watch because I’d lose interest and watch something else and then come back to it. I’d definitely recommend City Hunter, Heirs, To the Beautiful You, Secret Garden, Boys Over Flowers, and Coffee Prince before watching this.

But it is still interesting. I think it provides a lot of interesting ideas to consider as well, especially for those of you scifi/fantasy writers. And time travel. ‘Nuff said.

Have you seen Faith/The Great Doctor? What did you think of the show? Does it sound interesting to you? Have you watched any shows you found mostly boring but still watched all the way through?

Friday Flix: Luther

friday flix jae scribblesOkay, I’ve been stretching it a little lately, because I’m not technically posting movies. But I think you’ll be all right with it. Ladies and gents, may I present to you the very short but very good TV series called Luther, starring Idris Elba.

I’ve heard talk about them possibly doing a black James Bond and if that’s true, Idris had better be top of the list. He’s a fabulous actor and had me hooked right in the beginning. I guess he was in a couple episodes of The Office (U.S.), Thor (as Heimdall), and more recently as Janek in Prometheus.

Anyway, back to the Luther. The description from Netflix:

In this innovative police drama, dedicated detective John Luther is trying to keep from losing a grip on his personal life as he contends with the psychological factors underyling the crimes he’s been assigned to solve.

Seems like the BBC is on fire lately when it comes to TV series (do I really need to mention Doctor Who and Sherlock?). Luther is no exception—and I really hope “series 3” makes it onto Netflix very soon.

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Friday Flix: Boys Over Flowers

friday flix jae scribblesOkay, I’m cheating just a little bit on this one, since this is a TV series and not a movie. But it’s still worthwhile I promise. Let me introduce you to a Korean drama called Boys Over Flowers. I can’t remember how I stumbled onto this little gem, but I’m so glad I did.

Boys Over Flowers is originally a Japanese manga. There’s a Japanese anime and even a Japan version of the TV show. I haven’t seen the anime, so no comment. But on the TV show, I tried watching it, but I found Jun Matsumoto to be all wrong for the male lead. It’s probably the Korean version’s fault. Lee Min Ho does a much better job. (It’s probably from watching Jun be a “dog” in Kimi Wa Petto).

Anyways, the plot from Wiki:

Geum Jan-di is an ordinary girl whose family owns a dry cleaning store. While delivering dry cleaning to a student at the prestigious Shin Hwa High School, she saves his life by stopping his attempt at jumping off the roof and is given a full swimming scholarship. She attends Shin Hwa High and soon is terrorized by the leader of F4 (the four richest and most popular boys at the school) Gu Jun-pyo.

Although Jun-pyo persists on bullying her, he begins to find himself attracted to Jan-di. However, Jan-di has a crush on Yoon Ji-hoo, Jun-pyo’s best friend.

Let the love triangle romance begin!

PREJUDICE OF THE POOR

Let’s face it. Most of us aren’t rich and probably a lot of us harbor some angry envy toward those that are—especially when they’re snobbish about it—more especially when it was something just handed to them. It’s a subject matter that appeals to a wide audience, so they’ve already built up story sympathy that way.

And just to sweeten the pot, the show us how poor the female lead, Jan-di, is. She has a job, Mom and Dad both have jobs—oh, and Dad has a gambling problem. So getting that swimming scholarship seems like it would be a big boon to Jan-di, only it isn’t. She doesn’t want to attend a snobby, rich kid school. And, it seems, every hates her for being poor in the first place. See how much conflict they’ve already set up in the beginning?

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Make Me Care

Recently on the good ol’ Netflix I’ve been getting into the new series Once Upon a Time.  For those unfamiliar with Once, the idea is that the evil queen from Snow White cast a powerful curse on fairy tale land, transporting them to our world where they live their lives stuck in a boring Maine town where they can never have happy endings.  The series merges what happened before the curse in fairy tale land and what’s happening current day.

Ahem, SPOILER ALERT.

Once Upon a Time Emma

There, you’ve been warned, although I don’t know that this particular spoiler will ruin the whole series for you.  But as I said, you’ve been warned.

So going into about the seventh or so episode, one of the more prominent characters dies.  And guess what?  I didn’t care.  It’s not that it wasn’t sad or that I didn’t believe this would have some kind of impact on anyone, it’s just that the writers hadn’t bothered to make me really care about this character before giving him the axe.

For those who haven’t seen the show… **LAST SPOILER ALERT WARNING**

Our heroine, Dr. Cam—er, Emma, is a stranger to the town of Storybrooke.  For reasons you can discover going and watching the series, she ends up a deputy to the Sheriff named Graham.  Prior to this episode I’m guessing Emma and Graham had about 2 minutes total what-could-be-conceived-as-romantic screen time.  Most of the series up to this point is heavily focused on Emma’s relationship with her son and outwitting Ms. Villain.

I figured at some point she’d have a thing with Graham because he seemed like the only available guy in town.  But just because someone is available doesn’t automatically equate love, nor does it equate a good love story.

Once Upon a Time BuddyTv

See these bars? They represent the plot gap between us stopping this future relationship from becoming legit.

Despite Emma clearly demonstrating her lack of interest in Graham other than as a colleague fighting against evil, and also discovering Graham is sleeping regularly with Ms. Villain, the writers decided they wanted to go there.  When Emma finds out Graham is with Ms. Villain, we have even more reason to believe any and all romantic inclinations toward Graham are probably gone.  Graham tries to explain things, clearly showing he had an interest in Emma, but Emma seems more disgusted he’s with Ms. Villain than worried that he’s involved with anyone.

So then, using a quick cheap way fix relationships you haven’t bothered to fully establish, they hand lines to characters who know Emma to establish that yeah, despite our better judgement I guess she liked him.  I mean, it’s obvious, and if you have someone say it’s obvious, who are your viewers/readers to say differently?

Mary Margaret and Emma Once Upon a Time

Emma, it’s obvious you like Graham. -MM
Huh? Since when? -Emma
Since the script ordered me to tell you about it. -MM

So now that the audience has been informed Emma obviously likes Graham, they go off on an adventure together, with Emma still not invested in liking Graham anymore than friends, but hey, someone told us it was obvious…  After a confrontation with Ms. Villain (where we still don’t really get anything to make us believe Emma is interested in Graham that way), Emma and Graham are back at the office fixing wounds.  This is the very first time a real scene happens between these two that might hint at realistic romance—unfortunately the episode is 5 minutes from over and Ms. Villain decides to kill Graham via magic.
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