Quarantine viewing No. 4: Hyena.

There’s always that one moment when someone recommends something out of the blue, you decide to check it out with no expectations whatsoever, and you end up with a pleasant surprise. Hyena belongs to that category.

Out of the many recommendations from various friends, two people mentioned this K-drama to me: one is a colleague who said that she and her daughter liked it; and another from a friend from the K-entertainment (and at some point, Alden) fandom who bravely described it as, “better than the popular ones”. This second one piqued my interest. I know her taste. She won’t recommend something that’s not, at the very least, interesting to watch.

Another factor: Joo Jihoon is in this drama. I’m still on Joo Jihoon Fangirl Mode after Kingdom 2 and the Along With The Gods movies (I’ll devote a separate blog for the movies I saw during ECQ) so Hyena really should be next on my list.

The premise might not sound too attractive for the general viewing public. The story is about lawyers, so the automatic reaction is, “legal drama = too serious = BORING.” At least, that was my initial apprehension. First of all, it’s not a serious drama in the sense that it’s actually a comedy to some extent. Half of the scenes are light and oftentimes cute. May kilig factor rin, but not in the usual Rom-Com fashion. It’s Rom-Com for adults. No pabebe kissing here, folks. :naughty: Which should be expected because, hello, Joo Jihoon AND Kim Hye Soo. If you’re familiar with their work, you should never expect to see dead fish kissing in Hyena.

But since it’s a legal drama, it requires a lot of focus and concentration from the viewers, especially those of us who heavily depend on subtitles. I lost count of the number of times I had to hit ‘Rewind’ because I mistakenly checked my phone for incoming messages and missed a crucial line or two. And in this drama, every freakin’ line or two MUST be understood because you will miss the plot twist, you’ll end up asking yourself WTH just happened. Each episode is filled with that, and you must remember everything they said, who appeared in what episode and how did they fit in the story because it will all come back again at some point in the series. They won’t even help you with the usual repeated scenes in flashbacks which are, surprisingly and a pleasant one at that, quite few here.

I know it doesn’t sound attractive right now (of the ayokong mag-isip variety), but I sometimes think we need these types of dramas that stimulate our brains. Especially when we’re on quarantine.

Anyway, I’m amazed when I did my research and found that the writer is a rookie (although Hancinema listed two projects and her first one was another legal drama in 2015). :shock: I can’t believe that a rookie can come up with something as polished as this. She probably has a legal background, given that her two dramas are both about lawyers?

I also read that Hyena was first offered to Song Hye Kyo, who declined it. I’m glad that she did. :razz: Don’t get me wrong, I’m an SHK fan. But I simply don’t think she’s fit for the role. She could be feisty (see: Full House and Descendants of the Sun) but still a bit… sweet? On the other hand, Kim Hye Soo is just PERFECT for this. She’s a great actress, she’s sexy – at age 50, no less! – and she has electrifying sexual chemistry with Joo Jihoon. Well, both of them, individually, have electrifying sex appeal, regardless. It just blended so well on this drama.

As for Joo Jihoon, what can I say. That man has now entered my list of competent Korean actors who are not just pretty faces. The guy can really act. :clap: Such a dashing debonair, too. When women swoon over him, you just understand why. That innate Royal Aura still works even if it isn’t a sageuk drama.

Viewers of Kingdom would be delighted to know that the actor who played the bumbling Beom Pal is in this drama, too.

So. Dare I follow what my friend said and say that Hyena is better than the popular ones? I say, HELL YEAH.

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Quarantine viewing No. 2: Bollywood.

Continuing on with my Enhanced Community Quarantine series…

This extended homestay should’ve been my opportunity to catch up on my K-drama series backlogsssssss. However, we’re not exactly on vacation. In fact, my deadlines are tighter than ever. :stretcher: I can’t fully devote my time and attention on K-dramas but my brain needs to take breaks sometimes. I needed something long enough to fill in those breaks but not too long a diversion from work. The answer? Bollywood movies.

I have my own library of Bollywood films that I like but I’ve already seen them all. Fortunately, Netflix has a wide selection of movies from India. So far, I’ve seen the following movies during the ECQ period:

1. Dil Dhadakne Do – I saw this from a friend’s post on Facebook and decided to check it out. Priyanka Chopra is in it and I like her. (Bonus: Aamir Khan is, apparently, in this movie, too.) The plot seems interesting, too. Thankfully, it did not disappoint. The almost three-hour running time did not feel like three hours at all. The family conflicts are very familiar even on a non-Indian setting.

2. Jai Mummy Di – I just picked this one from the similar titles under Dil Dhadakne Do because of its seemingly simple storyline. It’s actually quite funny. I don’t know anyone from the cast but it still piqued my interest. I also wondered what caused the rift between the moms, which they didn’t reveal until the very last scene.

3. Om Shanti Om – this one, I picked because I’ve seen both leads (Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone) in other movies. It’s on the cheesy side – well, nearly all Bollywood romance movies are – but it’s also fun. Trying to spot the other famous Bollywood artists who made cameos is an added bonus. Plus points for me: Abishek Bachchan (aka. Aishwariya Rai’s husband)’s cameo. I just adore that guy. :dream: Also, watch out for the long music video halfway through the movie which included an all-star cast of famous Indian actors and actresses like Priyanka Chopra and Salman Khan. The featured song is so catchy. I can still sing “Ohm Shanti Oooohm…” days after watching the movie.

4. Andaz Apna Apna (ongoing) – I chose this movie because of the leads. It’s a double whammy of Aamir Khan and Salman Khan. While watching this, I couldn’t help but think how quickly the quality of Bollywood movies has improved. Andaz Apna Apna is from 1994, yet it looked like it was filmed in the early 80’s. By 2000-2001, Bollywood movies have already evolved into those glossy productions that can rival those made in Hollywood.

I still haven’t finished this movie, and I’m not sure if I will. It’s too over-the-top for me. I’ve already seen Aamir and Salman in much better movies with much, much better acting, so I don’t think I can still stand the cheesiness of this one. Just in case you’re new to this scene and is still interested to see this one: Watch it before Bajrangi Bhaijaan or any of Aamir Khan’s blockbusters from Lagaan onwards for maximum appreciation.

5. Next on my queue, and it’s not exactly Bollywood: Slumdog Millionaire. I’ve already seen it years ago, but seeing Anil Kapoor on Dil Dhadakne Do reminded me that he was on Slumdog Millionaire, so I rummaged through my movie library for the file (note: it’s not on Netflix). I remember seeing this before I started watching Bollywood movies, so let’s see if I’ll still enjoy it the same way I did before.

Any recommendations for good Bollywood films I must check out?

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Quarantine viewing, No. 1: Crash Landing On You.

Since we’re still on Enhanced Quarantine brought about by COVID-19 and I do have a lot of time on my hands, I’ll be writing a series of blogs on what I have been watching while stuck at home. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep my word on this. I oftentimes get lazy, ya know. :hihihi:

Side note: I initially thought that this should be No. 2 since Kingdom 2 is No. 1, but I realized that I technically binge-watched Kingdom 2 before the quarantine started. Therefore, this is really No. 1.

Mini-review: Crash Landing On You

***SPOILER ALERT***, although I really might not need it. I think I’m the only one left in my universe who hasn’t seen CLOY. :lol:

Continue reading →

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Kingdom 2 and COVID-19.

Random Thoughts On Season 2 of Netflix’s Kingdom:

***WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS***

1. I’ve hardly been watching Korean dramas lately, no matter how popular it is. K-drama viewing requires focus; it’s not just something I can put on while doing something else. Because, you know, subtitles. :razz: However, I made exception with Kingdom Season 2. I’ve been waiting for this for ages. And since it’s only six episodes, it’s quite easy to binge-watch.

2. Right after the first 19 minutes of Episode 1, I quickly paused Netflix and posted on social media that the first 19 minutes alone is so worth the long wait. It’s THAT good. :arrow: The excitement, the thrills, the cinematography – OH. MY. GOD THE CINEMATOGRAPHY – and that last frame when Prince Chang and his cohorts were able to escape the zombie herd. That’s more than enough for me to say that I’m fully satisfied.

3. But wait, there’s more! You think they slowed down after that? No! Never! Right at the beginning of Episode 2, we see the backstory: Apparently, the resurrection plant? Was a biological weapon that they used to win the war against the Japanese. Which eventually backfired against them and wrecked havoc towards the entire kingdom. Sounds familiar, isn’t it? Wasn’t that how COVID-19 was said to have originated from?

4. At the 13:30 mark of Episode 2, I hit ‘pause’ once again and gave that awesome plot twist a freakin’ STANDING OVATION. :clap: :clap: :clap: Not only was it totally unexpected, especially at Episode 2. The execution was just fantastic. :clap: And I’m overdosing on the :clap: emoji. :hihihi:

5. Within all that fabulously-executed zombie scenes is the heart of the story: the Joseon-era political drama. It’s still classic sageuk with all the twists and turns, but still seamlessly weaved through all that blood and gore. I have to commend the writer for coming up with such a tightly-packed story that’s so fast-paced, yet leaving you wanting for more. Six episodes is just too short, ya know? We want more, and we want it NOW! (OK, maybe not now. SOON, maybe?)

6. Another reason why this drama works is the ACTING. Again, I’m amazed at how Joo Jihoon seems to have this innate royal aura in him. He could be standing in the middle of the crowd (living or otherwise) and you just know who to call, ‘Your Majesty’.

You know what? I could enumerate the entire cast including all the zombies and I’ll say they all killed it in the acting department. Everyone did so well.

7. One thing I love about Kingdom, especially Season 2: the strong female characters. :clap: Bae Doo Na’s Seo Bi is the calmest, most intelligent character in this drama. If everyone turned out dead (or undead) in the entire kingdom, she will be the only one who will survive. Meanwhile, The Queen turned out to be not just a bitch, but the Biggest Bitch Of Them All. Just when you thought her father Cho Hak Ju (Ryu Seung Ryong) is the main villain in this drama, nope, you guessed it wrong!

8. I wouldn’t want to end this review without raving some more about the production values. :clap: I just found myself with my mouth wide-open quite a number of times while watching. Amazing execution of scenes paired with brilliant story-telling + excellent acting, this drama was just top-notch.

9. Of course, since it was hyped during promo period, I watched out for Jun Ji Hyun’s cameo. She appeared in the end. Which means, there’s a Season 3 and she will be on it.

10. Apparently, Kingdom is more aligned with the COVID-19 pandemic than we all think. Other than it’s a pandemic that apparently started as a man-made experiment meant to be used as biological weapon and a lockdown is needed to avoid mass infections, it turned out that one way to save yourself from it is to take a nice, long bath. :lmao:

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