Train to Hanyang.

Mini-Review: Kingdom

I have been amiss with my K-drama viewing for more than a year. I simply don’t have the time, energy and attention span for it lately. However, Netflix released its first original Korean series called Kingdom, which is often described as a “medieval Korean zombie movie” or as some put it, “Train to Busan meets Game of Thrones“.

I’ve never seen Game of Thrones – yup, surprise! I’m one of the few – but I have seen Train to Busan and I’m a veteran of K-dramas. The plot seems interesting. And most of all, this series only has six episodes. It should be easy to binge watch on a weekend. I added it to my watchlist right away.

Guess what: it’s not the weekend, and I had planned on popping in just a couple of episodes last night until I fall asleep. I ended up marathoning the entire thing and slept at 2:30 in the morning. :sleep:

Kingdom has all the elements of a classic sageuk (Korean historical drama): the political intrigue, the lies and conspiracies, the power grabbing, the prejudice among classes, the violent resolution to anything. Throw in a horde of zombies in there and literally, all hell breaks loose. It’s brilliant how the screenwriter and director were able to fuse these two plots seamlessly. I even find it hilarious that there’s discrimination among classes even among the undead. Only on sageuk, folks! :lmao: This isn’t just blood and gore and mayhem – don’t worry if you’re watching this for that, though, there’s a lot of that in there, too – it also has a story. A very familiar story to those who have even the slightest knowledge of Korea’s history and culture. I won’t go into too much details so as not to spoil it for others.

Acting wise, the entire cast delivered. Joo Jihoon is simply perfect as the Crown Prince Lee Chan. He’s no stranger to royal characters; remember his breakthrough role of Shin Goon in Goong? But I think Joo Jihoon has improved by leaps and bounds in terms of acting here. Every scene he’s in is believable. Even his moments of PTSD looked painful to me as a viewer, but in a good way.

I think I’ve only seen Ryu Seung Ryeong in movies where he played an evil palace official, and I’m not surprised. He has mastered the art of playing one.

I’m kinda disoriented seeing Bae Doona in a role where she wore a lot of clothes. :hihihi: She has always portrayed strong female characters, but her role here required her to be strong, but with a timid quality of a peasant during the Joseon era. I think she nailed it.

But the best part of Kingdom for me is its production values. The cinematography is just gorgeous. :arrow: Joseon-period Korea looked so beautiful here. The royal costumes looked elegant. I even saw some Tweets noting the hats that the characters wore. You know, fighting zombies in fabulous hats and all that. :lol: There’s authenticity in the costume design. It’s not like in other productions where we see stuff like the clothes still looking immaculate after a fight scene in the mud.

Most of all, I was fascinated at how the director choreographed, framed and shot all the zombie swarm scenes. The exciting chase scenes gave the adrenaline rush, but nothing beats those quiet attacks that are both eerie and haunting at the same time. You’ll find yourself staring at the screen no matter how squeamish you are at all that blood and gore.

As for the story and screenplay: viewers who are not so familiar with Korean period dramas might find the slow-burning presentation of the plot and characters a bit too lengthy. I mean, we won’t see actual zombies until the end of episode 1. But as I’ve said, the story is essential to this zombie series and it wouldn’t hurt to learn more about how things became what they are. What I love about Kingdom is, it knew exactly how to make its audience thirst for more. It will leave you wishing that it had 20 more episodes. Or at least, a Season 2 that’s just right around the corner.

(Image credits: Netflix)

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In memoriam.

Quite a number of well-known personalities have passed on since the beginning of 2019. Three of them have etched a mark to my life as a fangirl.

In a shocking development, Razorback drummer Brian Velasco took his own life on January 16, 2019. I have fond memories of Brian way back my bandstalker days from 2001 to 2005. As a regular of gigs during that era, I’ve rubbed elbows with Brian and the rest of Razorback practically on a regular basis. I’ve shared beers with some of their members until the wee hours of the morning. Looking back, it was Razorback who first believed in my skills as a photographer. I was just a beginner back then, taking photos of not just The Dawn but any band that took the stage in the gigs and events I went to. Kevin of Razorback loved the idea of having someone documenting their gigs the way I did for The Dawn. It came to a point when he would text me their gig schedule just so I could come and document it for them through my photos. This is why I was able to amass a number of pics of Razorback and their side bands – and naturally, Brian – throughout my stint as a band stalker, some of which I immortalized on the internet through this post that I made in February 2006 specifically about Brian Velasco.

Brian and I were not particularly close, but that memory of him greeting me first at a party even if we were never formally introduced to each other is one of those things that will be etched in my mind and heart forever.

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A couple of days ago, another legend of OPM passed on: the one and only, Joey “Pepe” Smith.

Being in the Pinoy rock scene for almost five years, you can say that I’ve had several up-close moments with Mr. Rakenrol, himself. I didn’t get to meet him personally – you can pretty much guess why – but being a Pinoy rock fan within close proximity of a legend several times is certainly one for the books. Just witnessing him perform in the flesh is more than enough.

I now regret not seeing that gig Pepe Smith had with The Dawn in late 2017 at a bar in Bulacan.

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Today, we receive news that one of the best vocalists in the world, Mr. James Ingram, has succumbed to brain cancer. :sad:

I had a close encounter with Mr. Ingram way back in 1997 (if I remember correctly). I was assigned to a special audit engagement at one of the government offices in Mandaluyong area. To get home, I passed by SM Megamall every day. In one of those days, James Ingram had an autograph signing session at Megamall. I’m not exactly an avid fan but James Ingram is James Ingram, so I quickly bought a copy of his album The Power of Great Music (in cassette at the time) and lined up to get it signed. I did have it signed, but not before witnessing what happened to the person before me. The woman had the guts to extend her hand to Mr. Ingram for a handshake, but his security people were quick to grab her arm and wave her off. I heard them saying something along the likes of, “oh hell no, you can’t do that” and they were talking with James about these fans trying to one up them as if they can get away with it. In my mind I was thinking, “dude, we can understand English around here.” :neutral: Needless to say, when my turn came, I just handed him the tape to sign and walked out of there as fast as I could.

Yup, not a very good memory. But as I said, James Ingram is James Ingram. Not many people get that kind of up-close experience with an internationally renowned celebrity.

(Oh look at Agent P, not bitching and, instead, justifying an experience with a rude celebrity. What the heck just happened? :lol: I guess I’m just giving him a break, since he’s already passed on.)

Side note: Someone on Twitter said that at some point, all of us had an, “I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough” moment. For me and some of my Rain friends, it’s an “I did my VEST” moment. :hihihi: It’s quite funny reminiscing that at one point in our lives, we would listen to Just Once and think that it was James Ingram who was singing it all wrong. :lmao:

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Rest in Peace, Brian, Sir Pepe and Mr. Ingram. Thank you for the music.

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Alden at 27 – Sunday Pinasaya.

Here’s another #latepost. :oops:

If the Eat…Bulaga! gig was last minute, this one was VERY last minute. :hihihi: Without a confirmed slot, we decided to take our chances at Sunday Pinasaya the night before. I got there at the studio around 11:00am (the show is at 12:00nn). My friend did not arrive until 12:30. Thankfully, we were let in even if we’re late and didn’t have any tickets nor reservations. We almost missed the opening number, though.
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Alden at 27 – Eat Bulaga.

Beginning today – hopefully, on a regular basis from now on :razz: – I shall be uploading galleries of photos that I wasn’t able to share before for whatever reason. I’ve realized that I have a lot of backlogs when it comes to sharing photos of events that I took time and effort to cover but I wasn’t able to share to the public. I’m still on extended writer’s block and I’d like to preserve the little writing mood I have for my audit reports, so for this blog I’ll just let the photos do the talking. :smile:


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Amazing cam.

Around May or June 2017, I got swayed by a friend to buy something from Amazon.com: a Sony super-zoom point-and-shoot camera that was on sale at the time. It was an impulse buy, but I’m such a sucker for photography gear that’s on sale. Plus, at the time I wasn’t too keen on lugging a heavy DSLR or the mirrorless camera with all those lenses when I cover Alden’s events. I gritted my teeth and bought it.

Said camera, whom I named Ama (because I bought it from Amazon; yes, I give names to my toys), has been my constant companion on gigs and events since then. It has never failed me.

Now, more than ever, I am so glad that I made that impulse buy. This palm-sized toy is a BEAST.


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