17 January 2014

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Age of Feeling / Inspiring Generation - Episode 1 (Am I Feeling This?)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on January 17, 2014
kakashi: Checking this out, 1, 2, 3, for SqueeCappibility! Yo, JoAnne, are you with me?
JoAnne: If it's squeeable, sure!
kakashi: The big questions for me before I press the play button are: will I feel this? Will it inspire me? And ... will I be able to remember all the names of all the people who are in this drama? Cause ... have you seen the cast list?! Sweet Baby Cheesus. I am counting on you, JoAnne, to come up with memorable names, as you always do.
JoAnne: Holy crap. I have no idea who anyone is, there's so many of them. This will be a challenge! I am UP TO IT.
Episode 1

kakashi: Oh! I already like this. A beautiful but bad woman kicks a man's ass. I recognize her! She's the assassin from IRIS2 - yeah, the one the writers turned into a pathetic and lovesick puppy halfway in. Her name is Gaya and the man is soon dead. I hope he deserved it.
JoAnne: Is she the one who tried to strangle Ray with her thighs?
kakashi: Oh yes. THAT one. This is to you, Ray, and your memorable death:
kakashi: Abrupt cut to whom we have all been waiting for (well, not me, but that's another story), our very own Kim Hyun-joong, also known as KHJ. (And Formerly Pretty Now Hot) He is lying on his back in the dirt and somebody wants him to get up. His face is bloody and bruised and his hair is short and dirty. Good. Cause it would have looked quite stupid had he been his old flower boy self! The fight continues, zippy music they definitely did not have in the 1930s makes it all quite enjoyable. I prefer to see Lee Jun-ki fight (sorry, but that's the truth!), but Kimmy-boy does a good job. and HELLO muscles. But win he does not ... a mysterious man watches it all.
JoAnne: I tend to zone out during fight scenes. I hope there's not a lot of them.
kakashi: His name, we learn, is Jung-tae. And this is 1936. Jung-tae is a tough guy - and he fights for money. Meaning: he lets people win because the organizers tell him to. Some people don't like it, so there's more fighting. Of course, Jung-tae wins this time - cause he is THAT good. Also: this is not Korea, but everybody speaks Korean.
JoAnne: Why do we think this is not Korea? (cause it said so - it's Dalian, in Manchuria) I thought that guy was the guy he fought, pissed off to learn that he'd won a rigged fight.  I did love that even badly beaten, Jung Tae kicked that man's ass with no hesitation in 30 seconds flat when dared to do so. I might zone out during the fights... but I kinda dig fighters.
kakashi: Mysterious man is suddenly there! He babbles stuff about a mountain. People are buried there: among them Jung-tae's father. Jung-tae refuses to have one and him and mystery man exchange a few blows - mystery man is a Kung Fu master! Boyo realizes he cannot win. Mystery man says he will be waiting for him in Shanghai ... so to Shanghai Fight Boy goes!
JoAnne: I love Mysterious Man in everything he's ever in. Why did I assume he was a priest? Is he a priest or just dressed in a vaguely priest-y way? He did that mysterious hand swish Kung Fu Master thing that I love. I hope he's around a lot.
kakashi: And we're 8 years in the past (*snort*. Ever since the American BoF pulled the "six months later" ... "two months ago" thing, I giggle at time jumps in dramas). (I am still confused by that. If it was six months later two months ago were they showing us something 8 months later, or something from 4 months ago?) A younger version of Jung-tae (that's Kwak Dong-Yeon, right?) (Yep, this will be good.) is pulling a loudly snoring person through the street in a rickshaw, when suddenly, he sees how two guys chase and then slap a girl. Oh, they don't only slap, but also punch her. For selling stuff on their territory? Assholes. Anyway, Jung-tae intervenes. Fierce! But the woman (the young version of Gaya? yup) isn't overly grateful; she fears she will be the one to pay for what he just did to them. But Jung-tae promises to look out for her.
JoAnne:  He is of course all kinds of plucky, honorable, adorable, and soon-to-be sexy. A perfect pre-hero.
kakashi: This is the Gaksital set, right? (Yup. I don't think they changed a thing, and later, I think Jung Tae is living in Kang To's house) Jung-tae is having "fun" with a rickshaw-pulling friend and there's a girl which is extremely into him. Name: Kim Ok-Ryeon. She is working at the doctor's/pharmacist (his daughter? Aish, this is already confusing like hell) and Jung-tae goes to get some medicine. It seems to be for his younger sister. The girl looks barely 14, but she is fully in heat.
JoAnne:  She does look young. The bobby sox and stringy hair don't help. I like her though.
kakashi: There's romantic music and Jung-tae (the young version) jogs through an autumn forest, pulling young Gaya. Ahhhh, innocent love ........... Also, sun flowers. And a beautiful river. And some shy awkwardness between the two. This is either the beginning of a troubled love-story à la "noir" in which one of them will die, or ... a troubled love-story in which nobody will die.
JoAnne:  I think it's just making clear the third leg of the triangle. Think of Gaya as Rie, and Ok Ryeon as Mok Dan.  Except this time both girls are awesome. Well Mok Dan started out awesome, though.
kakashi: Oh dear, the one who plays the adult version of Bobby Sox .... her nickname is "Broom". 
kakashi: In the meantime, some gangsters have Jung-tae's friend: that's Jjang-Ddol. Okay, I'm not sure they're gangsters, but they're certainly not nice people. Anyway, Jung-tae arrives at the right time to prevent an even worse beating and does some beating of his own. Be assured drama, I get it: he is a really good fighter. But his friend isn't happy about being saved: he fears for Jung-tae. The guy he just humiliated and beat up: he is poison.
JoAnne: Jjang-Ddol's name makes me laugh. Jjang is 'the best' and I thought I remembered ddol being a word about sexy times and yes, ddol-ddol-yi is masturbation. So he's been named Best Masturbator.
kakashi: Next, little innocent Kim Ok-ryeon is at a gisaeng house. Ah, cause her mother works there! But her mother doesn't want her to be there, that's why she placed her at the pharmacist (who, I gather, is not her father?). Said mother is with a man named Shin Young-Chool. Who asks after Jung-tae. Hm ... might he be Daddy-whom-Hero-Dont-Like?
JoAnne: Jesus Christ that guy was in Gaksital. Did he even leave the set?
kakashi: Doofus friend Jjang-Ddol wants to get into smuggling - Jung-tae doesn't, but because Jung-tae's sister is really ill and he needs money for her surgery, he agrees to it. Jjang-ddol (how's JD for this one?) does some kind of deal with some kind of people (am I supposed to know them?! JoAnne, help!) (All I can make out at this point is that they're smugglers. Dobi Gang. People said HEIRS had a big cast? pffffffffft) and the two boys are giddy with joy and alcohol soon after, because all their troubles seem so far away. They sing and dance with the gisaeng's daughter and Jung-tae's sister (name: Chung-ah), who had a very sad conversation just before the boys turned up: about Chung-ah's death, to which she seems to look forward to, almost, because she feels her existence is a burden to everyone around her, especially her brother.
JoAnne: Another check mark on the Hero List. But seriously, how can they afford to PAY all these people? Somebody's take home is tofu, right?
kakashi: Sombody watches them. Or does the somebody watch Gaya and her father (who is also ill)? Yeah, I guess so. 
JoAnne:  My one big beef: Who the fuck is Gaya, anyway.

kakashi: Oh, there's my favorite evil ahjussi next, Kim Kap-Soo!! (Hm, this makes me want to watch Joseon X-Files again, for the umpteenth time!!) He is Denkai Doyama, an evil Japanese, and he is informed that they have found someone by the name of Shinjo. If my chart is correct, Shinjo is actually Gaya's coughing father. In any case, Shinjo is to be severely punished for ... we will find out. Oh, and Gaya is actually LADY Gaya? Hear, hear.
JoAnne: As long as she doesn't wear a dress made out of meat.
kakashi: Oh, so Lady Gaya pissed off the very same smugglers that Jung-tae and friend want to work for? Huh? See, I KNEW this was going to be complicated ... yeah, the Train Gang. They use trains for smuggling. Anyway. Jung-tae actually bought a hairpin for Gaya, but before he can give it to her - it's always the same with these hairpins in KDrama - his Doofus Friend JD comes with bad news; "Dog Nose" (is that the guy Jung-tae beat up?) has fled with all their money. Yeah, that's his revenge for the beat-up by Jung-tae earlier! Oh dear. That's pretty shitty.
JoAnne: They lost me with this bit. The guy beats them up, so then they go to him to ask to be part of his smuggling gang (I think they want him to make the connection for them?). And he's known to them, so when the twist comes, it's something they should have known anyway. I call fail on this particular bit of plotty plotting. Was it really the same guys? I thought it was slightly different but there's too many people and I'm just confused.
kakashi: Desperate times call for desperate measures: Jung-tae now wants to go and meet a guy who is part of the Dobinori Gang (=the Train Gang): Poong Cha (why this one individual in particular I don't know). He needs that money back: Without it, his sister is as good as dead. And go meet them he does ... only it's not one guy he is confronted with at the gisaeng place, but friggin 8 guys. And they're not like Dog Nose and the rest, that's clear immediately. These guys are professionals.
JoAnne: I'm gonna state it right now: I loved Poong Cha and his buddy, the bad brother from Nice Guy, immediately. Plus what the hell kind of name is Poong Cha anyway.
kakashi: And it's ON: Poong Cha (who doesn't have a clue what this pup wants from him) vs. Jung-tae. Ouch. Poor Jung-tae: He gets the beating of his life.
JoAnne: He really does. And they seem unhappy to be giving it to him.
kakashi: But when he lies in the sand, clutching Poong Cha's leg, telling them how he made the money they took from him, they actually listen. Hm ... might these men not be the bad guys?
JoAnne: I think they smuggle the way Rhett Butler smuggled in Gone with the Wind:  as a way to secretly support the Confederacy that he publicly ridiculed. I'm going to say that these bad guys are secretly the freedom fighters. Or the bank for the freedom fighters. I couldn't just immediately love them without them sending out some invisible 'we're good guys' vibes, after all.

Comments

kakashi: This was surprisingly good! I am pleased. Not full of squees though - there's far too many character introductions for that (i.e. I had to pay a lot of attention!) and the really squeeworthy people haven't even appeared yet. I'm guessing we only met about half the cast? (Uh, I think we met 1/8th of the cast.)  Crazy. Still, apart from being right there in the "confusing-due-to-character-overkill" zone, it had tempo, it had beauty, it had suspense. If they keep it up (there is always hope) this could in fact become a drama I really like.   
JoAnne:  It does seem that the snark will be hard-won in this. Cheer up though! It could go Jin on us.
kakashi: Also, the "kid"-actors are very well cast. Bravo. But you know what I suspect? They want to trick us. They let us see this young, great version of Jung-tae (who acts really well) until we completely forget that there is another version (whose acting has not convinced me in the past). And then, boom, the older version is back and we are all confused because the young version has made us believe that this is a well-acted character.
JoAnne:  The huge thing for me was that they picked a young, good actor who looks EXACTLY like the older Kim Hyun-joong, even though Kim Hyun-joong didn't look anything like that when he was younger.  I am hopeful, though.  KHJ has been pretty wooden in the past, but he seemed more emotive in his brief scenes here, and this is a COMPLETE departure from previous roles.  I'm not sure I like having to think that he's the kind of ass who sleep-walked through roles he was forced into, rather than being the kind of person to try his best no matter what...but I'll take it, if he turns out to be a decent actor after all.

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