The Naked Kitchen

AKA: 키친 (Kitchen) AsianMedia | HanCinema

Cast: Shin Min Ah, Kim Tae Woo,  Joo Ji Hoon

Happy first anniversary to newlyweds Mo Rae (Shin) and Sang In (Kim)! Mo Rae goes to an art gallery to find a gift, and meets a dashing stranger. They are forced to hide behind a screen to avoid being caught, and unexpectedly have sex. Mo Rae can’t bear the guilt and confesses to Sang In. He refuses to let her speak of it after that night, instead focusing on the opening of his restaurant. He has always wanted to be a chef, but lacks training. So he hires a young Korean professional from Paris to live with them and teach him. It turns out to be Du Re (Joo), the man from the gallery, and a risky game begins.

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April Snow

AKA: 외출/Outing

Should we have an affair, too? That’d make them flip!” – Seo Young

Wiki | HanCinema | IMDb

Starring: Bae Young Joon, Son Ye Jin

In-su (Bae Young Joon) is a lighting director whose life completely changes with a single phone call. His wife has been involved in an accident, and is in a coma. In the hospital he meets Seo Young (Son Ye Jin), and they discover that their partners were having an affair. As they wait for their respective spouses to regain consciousness, the two gradually become closer and decide to have an affair of their own…

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The Art of Seduction

“Seduction isn’t an art – it’s a science.” – Min Joon

WikipediaHanCinema | KMDb| IMDb

Starring: Son Yeh Jin, Song Il Gook

If the quote above the picture is the very first line in the movie, why didn’t you name it The Science of Seduction? Anyway, it seemed like an interesting concept, so I decided to check it out. I was very pleased to find Hyun Young in it as well. She was the chick that chased after Dal Gun in Bad Family, and she’s got a very recognizable sort of squeaky voice. Not to mention that her round face gives her a bit of a look. In any case, she’s hilarious. She was ditzy in Bad Family, and she’s a bit spicier as the best friend of the female lead.

Han Ji Won (Son Yeh Jin) and Seo Min-joon (Song Il Gook) are dating gurus. Both have an established and foolproof strategy to make the opposite sex fall for them…and it works every time! But when one sets eye on the other, they are shocked to find that their methods no longer work! The pros have met their match, and now it’s a battle to see who gives up and gives in first!

Ji Won is a private bank accountant, so she deals with rich people all the time. One of her most loyal customers buries his money in his farmland – all the size of football fields. It’s cruel but funny how she leads him on (he has an obvious crush on her, despite being much older). Her method is to act cute and innocent. His method is to portray the tortured widower who needs someone to relieve his pain.

This is true romantic comedy, especially when you get into their heads. Since both have their pride at stake, they imagine this battle of wits as a historical battle between warriors (expect running on water and swordfights!) Though if you asked me, it totally looked like Ji Won had the upper hand. But you know, I like it when I get to witness one half of a couple become hopelessly devoted. There’s a strange and funny twist at the end, too! I dare you to imagine yourselves in that situation and then tell me how you’d feel!

Overall, witty and funny with a pinch of romance without being overtly sweet.

Rating: 3/5

Speedy Scandal

HanCinema | Wikipedia | AsianMediaWiki

Starring: Cha Tae-hyun, Park Bo Young, Hwang Seok-Hyeon

Recommended by a Korean friend, I was attracted to the idea of it being purely comedic without romantic undertones. Cha Tae-hyun in My Sassy Girl was my very first look into Korean culture, and I think I’ve always held him in my heart as that funny yet loveable guy.

Nam Hyun-soo (Cha Tae-hyun) was an idol in his day. He’s now in his thirties, and host of a popular radio program. All of Korea is gripped by the moving story of a young, single mother in search of her father. When she calls into the show for advice, Hyun-soo tells her to not be afraid and confront her father. Not too long after that, Hwang Jeong-nam (Park Bo Young) shows up with her son, Gi-dong (Hwang Seok-hyeon) in tow, claiming to be Hyun-soo’s daughter. He tries to hide the facts, which leads to speculation that the two  are a couple!  In the midst of the scandal, all parties learn some valuable lessons.

Cha Tae-hyun is comedic gold, people. I don’t think I can ever take him seriously again! He is perfect for that plot with a seemingly ordinary man thrust into extraordinary situations, and he gives that character a larger-than-life feel. Hyun-soo believes that he’s still an idol, and thus worries what will happen if the news that he’s a father and a grandfather gets 0ut. What he doesn’t realize is that the public quickly loses interest and turns its attention to the up-and-coming instead. He learns that sometimes it’s better to branch out of what is comfortable.

Park Bo Young is a pretty new face in the Korean acting scene, and she’s absolutely adorable! She takes on the role of the sweet-faced, foul-tempered young woman that blows mediocrity out of Hyun-soo’s life! As his daughter, she inherits her stubborness from her father, and the two get into fights often. She has always been angry at her father for not being there for her, but she learns that sometimes, people aren’t at all what you expect. Her character’s dream is to be a singer, and I’m not sure if she actually sings for the movie, but what a powerful voice!!

Gi-dong surprises the audience by having a pretty big role in bringing together the family. You want to write off the cherubic face framed in curls, but beneath the sweetness lurks a little devil! He is quick to charm, but will gamble you blind! Add onto that antics that mimic  his grandfather’s hilarious personality.

This is seriously not a movie to miss! Make sure you’re in the mood for comedy with a bit of a lesson, or you’ll find this boring and predictable. The lesson that I got out of it was to practice safe sex! Accidental parenthood is no laughing matter.

Rating: 3.5/5

Hello, Schoolgirl

Age is but a number to true love.

Wiki | AsianMedia | HanCinema

Starring: Yoo Ji Tae, Lee Yeon Hee, Kangin, Chae Jung Ahn

This is the story of the unconventional romance of two couples that have age gaps between partners. Yunwoo (Yoo Ji Tae) is a low-level civil servant working at a district office at 30; he is awkward and always does the right thing. He gets a new apartment, and constantly runs into Sooyoung (Lee Yeon Hee), the spunky high-school girl who lives below him. Yunwoo is shy and uncertain, but Sooyoung is upfront about the feelings she develops for him. Meanwhile, his fresh-out-of-high-school co-worker Sook (Kangin) meets an older woman named Hakyung (Chae Jung Ahn) and is instantly attracted to her. This is the heartwarming tale about following your own happiness, no matter what society says.

I do not have the reservations that society seems to have about age, and I have long felt that the younger man – older woman pair needed to get more attention. With A Frozen Flower breaking social barriers left and right, it’s a good year for a movie that tackles love with an age difference. The star pair has a 12 year difference (though the difference between the actors themselves is 14), while Kangin’s character is 7 years younger than his on-screen love interest.

Chae Jung Ahn also starred in Coffee Prince as Han Yoo Joo, and she’s just as meloncholy in this movie as she was in the drama. It was interesting seeing her gloominess matched with Kangin’s boyish charm. She’s beautiful and a good actress, but a lot of her characters are emotionally dead, or clinging to a boyfriend past. I’d like to see her in a completely different role for a change. Kangin’s role didn’t really seem like acting…more like a direct copy of his public personality. I think I’d like to see him branch out, too.

The star couple however, was fantastic! I love how Lee Yeon Hee’s characters always seem to be pretty in an unassuming way, yet unexpectedly bold. In this movie, it was she who initiated the relationship. Yoo Ji Tae plays his saintly and lovable character really well. I loved the idea that even though he was the older one of the two, Yunwoo is the more naive in the relationship. He is hesitant and soft-spoken. Sooyoung even challenges him with, “Are you going to be good your entire life?”

The only kissing in this movie is via flashback and by Kangin. Although disappointing, it was interesting how the story managed to be so pure in its romance. I still wished that Sooyoung would be the one to kiss Yunwoo! Also, I have a vendetta against open endings and am trying to be more accepting of them. In this case, I was placated with the line, “I’m not giving up on us.” Good, so that means that Yunwoo will still pursue Sooyoung.

Rating: 3/5

I’m still not sold on Kangin’s acting as a main character, though. What do you guys think?


The Beast and the Beauty

The classic tale with a hilarious spin!

Wiki | IMDb | HanCinema

Starring: Ryu Seung Bum, Shin Min Ah, Kim Kang Woo

I don’t know about you guys, but Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie, period.  That being said, it wasn’t hard to figure that I’d love this movie, too. It is perhaps the funniest Asian movie I have seen to date!

Koo Dong-gun (Ryu Seung Bum) is a voice actor who is not exactly ideal in appearance. He lies to his blind girlfriend, Jang Hae-joo (Shin Min Ah) about what he looks like, and she imagines him to be her dashing prince charming. But when she finds a doctor who can give her sight back, hilarity ensues. Hae-joo runs into a policeman named Tak Jun-ha (Kim Kang Woo), who happens to be the high-school friend Dong-gun thought of when describing himself to her. He is embarrased by his true appearance and hides, but will the beast be unleashed when he discovers that Jun-ha has feelings for Hae-joo?

This is tagged as being Romantic Comedy when it’s really more like comedy that happens to be romantic. It’s seriously hilarious. Dong-gun is lovable from start to finish, despite being unconfident in himself. He makes hilarious excuses for not being able to visit Hee-joo. Hawaii was the running theme between them. Also funny is how Dong-gun inadvertently befriends a thug (Ahn Kil Kang) from the gang Jun-ha is after; he is present until the end of the movie, being even more hilarious than Dong-gun himself.

This movie is the type that I will always like, no matter what form in comes in: the type where it is realized that love goes behind physical appearance (among other things). It’s a story where the attractive guy doesn’t get the girl. And I rather like that. Even if the girl manages to be slightly naive, she manages to both be as pure as a Disney princess, but with that familiar firecracker temper often found in the females of Korean dramas.

Definite thumbs up for consistent laughs!

Rating: 3.5/5

A Frozen Flower

Warning: This movie contains explicit sex scenes (homo and heterosexual). Mature audiences only.

The sword needs to move with soul. The problem is your heart.” – King Gongyang

Wiki | AsianMediaWiki

Starring: Joo Jin Mo, Jo In Sung, Song Ji Hyo

Get away with watching famous people bumping nasties! If your mommy walks in, you can give the excuse that you’re studying ancient Korean culture. You wouldn’t be able to do that had you been watching Squirrels Gone Wild, now would you?

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A Millionaire’s First Love

“This girl is worth more to me than 99.9% of my inheritance.” – Jae-kyung

Wiki | HanCinema | AsianDB

Starring: Hyun Bin, Lee Yeon Hee

What is it with this girl and playing the sickly but strong? Probably because she looks really pale and skinny, and can fake a cardiac arrest like nobody’s business. [See One Fine Day for further evidence.] And this is  my first run-in with Hyun Bin, too. Remember how I said that I usually found someone from a previous drama/movie in the next one I watch? Guess who I found? Im Ju Hwan, the actor of Yi Jeong’s older brother from Boys Before Flowers! There’s something about his face…or maybe his voice, that makes him loveable, I think. Anyway, back to the movie.

Kang Jae-kyung (Hyun Bin) is a spoiled rich kid that uses money to get him out of everything. He rides his motorcycle through the school hallways, and gets into fights. It doesn’t matter, since once he turns 18, he’ll have full control over his grandfather’s fortune. But there’s a catch: the will states that Jae-kyung has to transfer to a rural school in the middle of nowhere and graduate. All access to credit cards, his penthouse and cottage are restricted until he proves he is worthy of the fortune by working. Should he drop out or fail to graduate, none of the inheritance goes to him. He meets Choi Eun-hwan (Lee Yeon Hee), whom he happens to have stumbled across in Seoul. Being in the school brings the two together, but a terrible secret has time running out for the new lovers.

Okay, seriously. Korea needs to stop with that, “I’ve loved you since I first saw you,” crap. Anyway, I digress. Hyun Bin does a good job at the typical rich douchebag that you somehow end up loving, but it is his changed self that really pulls you in. As you begin to understand the situation, you begin to feel his same desperation, and share in his heartbreak.

There are several montage scenes where touching music plays, to capitalize on how precious each moment together is. I think the thing that touched me most was the haunting song, In Sa (or Farewell). It has three different versions – the first being sung by Jaejoong, then a female version by Lee Yeon Hee, and a group one with all of DBSK. It’s probably the most depressing and moving song, second only to Song of Devotion from Damo.

Anyway, this story is about Jae-kyung’s realization that money is not the most important thing in the world: it’s love. Even better is that it’s a love he cannot keep. It’s a really touching movie with a sad ending and an amazing OST. If you’re known to cry during movies, I suggest having tissues on hand.

Rating: 3.5/5

Do you know why people close their eyes when kissing? Because in that short amount of time, I miss you.” – Jae-kyung