November 15, 2009

Movie Review: My Girlfriend is an Agent (2009)

Yesterday we finally got to watch My Girlfriend is An Agent. It was great. In fact, I don't remember seeing a more hilarious movie for the longest time. It's probably also one of the more entertaining Asian films I have seen in years. Hong Kong movies have generally been crap and I don't know enough Japanese films to say. So this latest Korean offering gets (at least) a 7.5 out of 10 points from me.

Kim Ha Neul stars as a Ahn Su Ji, a top-notch agent working for the Korean secret service. She used to date Lee Jae Jun (played by the very funny Kang Ji Hwan), but because of the countless lies she told for her work's sake, their relationship could not take the strain. Eventually, Jae Jun broke up with her and left Korea without giving her a chance to explain herself. Broken-hearted, Su Ji tried to forget Jae Jun and subsequently began dating someone new. But as fate would have it (as is usually the case in movies), their paths crossed again 3 years later. The way they met again is really laugh-out-loud funny. A bit slapstick, but nonetheless hilarious. I won't reveal more; no spoilers in this review.

It turns out that Jae Jun is now a rookie agent, and is trying to make the cut for the elite Harimau team (did you know? Harimau is the Malay word for tiger and also the name of the company that produced the movie). IMO, Kang Ji Hwan is perfectly cast as the bumbling agent. Whenever he makes a blunder, his facial expression has just that right mix of serious goofiness, which is totally classic. And of course, making everything even harder, now he has to keep his identity a secret from Su Ji (right when their relationship seems to be picking up again). A series of misadventures soon follow. The nightclub and amusement park scenes with the two of them on field missions had me laughing till my sides ached.

This is a highly enjoyable movie. It's silly but in a good way. Besides the leading man and lady (who have wonderful onscreen chemistry, by the way) the supporting cast is also superb. And although it's supposed to be a sort of goofball comedy, the love story between Su Ji and Jae Jun is very emotionally charged, and has more to offer than your average Hollywood romance comedy. Mostly it came down to the star power and acting chops of Kim Ha Neul and Kang Ji Hwan, who manage to pull everything off convincingly. Even the more ridiculous moments (for me it's the fencing sequences) will just make us audience go, awww. We are ready to forgive these two anything, as long as they end up together.

In the end, we all know true love will prevail. So I don't think that counts as spoiler. :) Don't expect something too deep or too clever. But you can count on having a rollicking fun ride in this movie. This is entertainment at its best. Guaranteed to make you laugh. HelloHallyu recommends it!

[Posted by mydaemon]

November 14, 2009

Food Review: Kobayashi Hangul

What would cheer up a pair of wet, sodden and cold couple who's into Korean stuff? Well, a nice hot Korean meal would certainly hit the spot. Yesterday, as we trudged along the rain soaked Somerset Road to Cathay Cineleisure, our sole aim being collecting our tickets for the movie "My Girlfriend is An Agent", we decided that a nice hot meal would be a great way to start off the evening.

None of the food places caught our fancy since they are mostly the run of the mill foodcourt stalls, fastfood restaurants and the franchised Japanese restaurants. By this time, we were ready to tuck into anything that will satiate our growling tummies when we chanced upon a resturant by the name of Kobayashi Hangul.

Upon closer inspection of the restaurant's menu, we were happy to realise that it served both Korean and Japanese food. What better way to start off the evening than to have a Korean themed dinner before catching a Korean movie.

Scanning through the menu, I decided to try their barbequed chicken hotplate with kimchi set while Yupgi ordered a seafood kimchi jigae set.

Yupgi's seafood kimchi jigae in the background and my barbequed chicken kimchi hotplate is in the foreground.

Presentation wise is 'ok'. Taste wise is really disappointing.

The food looked not too bad when I collected it from the counter, the restaurant being a self-styled 'fastfood' Korean/Japanese  restuarant. However, we were both sorely disappointed when we started eating.

Having eaten Korean dishes from various places, foodcourt stalls to expensive restaurants, the food at Kobayshi Hangul is really poor. My grilled chicken tasted just liked a plate of chicken that have been stirred fried with kimchi. It doesn't taste anything like the Korean food that I have eaten at other places. If Korean food is simple adding kimchi to the recipe, than this  restaurant would have passed with flying colours. Needless to say, I didn't enjoy the substandard quality of the this dish.

Yupgi shared my disappointment with her jigae. Her 'stew'was simply a mis-mash of kimchi (again), seafood, and fish fillet (those you find in Macdonald's fill-o-fish). Simply put, it doesn't taste like anything that a respectable Korean would serve on their dining table.

On a scale of 10, the food we had is simple a poor rating of 4. The only saving grace for this place, if we can even consider it as such, is its rather reasonable pricing, ranging from S$5+ to around S$8 per item. However, given the poor food quality, this would be the first and the last time I ever eat at this restaurant.

November 12, 2009

Shin Min Ah in Wedding Gown

Can't help myself from grabbing these photos of Shin Min Ah posing as a bride in this photoshoot. Looking so radiant, one wonders who she's thinking of when posing for the camera. Whoever he is, he's one lucky guy!

Shin Min Ah
Shin Min Ah
Shin Min Ah
Shin Min Ah

November 11, 2009

IRIS airs tonight

The highly anticipated KBS drama IRIS will air tonight on KBS World (Starhub channel 173) at 9pm, local time Singapore, after the KBS news programme. Having heard about the hype it generated on the web, I am really looking forward to watching a hit drama after the rather disappointing My Fair Lady. Which reminds me that I need to catch the last 2 episodes in my recorder. Limited time, but unlimited K-dramas...

Movie Update - Ninja Assassin

Rain with his new physique. Just hope the movie is as good as his body.

If what is stated in the movie critique by the Korea Herald is true, it looks like Rain's latest big-screen offering "Ninja Assassin" will rely heavily on his star power to pull in the eyeballs when the movie is released worldwide.

Being a fan of the Wachowski brothers' Matrix trilogy movie, I was already disappointed by their last movie outing "Speed Racer". When I heard Rain was roped for the lead in the Ninja Assassin, I was hoping that the Wachowski brothers will 'salvage' their reputation and come up with a hit.

To be fair, I have yet to view the movie. But if Ninja Assassin is just about slick action sequences, high body count and a thin plot, I would definitely give it a miss and wait for it to be released on the cable. Guess I will have to wait for more reviews before deciding to part with my money for this movie.

Read on for the full review by the Korea Herald.

'Ninja Assassin' misses the target

Humorless, preposterous, and soaked in blood, "Ninja Assassin" turns out to be thinly-plotted schlock from a team of pedigree filmmakers who should have known better. "The day Rain did his first scene in 'Speed Racer,' the Wachowski brothers called me and said 'This guy is unbelievable. He's a natural, our dream come true.' We began to plan 'Ninja Assassin' immediately afterward," producer Joel Silver said in an earlier interview.

Unfortunately for "world star" Rain, what was to be his breakout film falls way short of what "Enter the Dragon" was for Bruce Lee. No doubt that was what the Wachowski Brothers were aiming to do by gambling on a relative unknown in the Western world.

Rain plays Raizo, one of the world's deadliest assassins trained by the Ozunu Clan - an underground band of killers that has remained hidden for generations by posing as a mythical organization.

Robbed of his childhood, Raizo is transformed into a merciless Katana-wielding killing machine. Breaking free from their mountain lair, he plans to exact revenge on the clan for killing his first love.

In his quest for revenge, he gets help from a Europol agent Mika Coretti - played by Naomi Harris - who stumbles upon a money trail connecting a slew of high profile political assassinations around the world committed by the Ozunu.

As she begins to uncover the truth behind the murders, she too, becomes their target and is saved by Raizo when assassins emerge to kill her in Berlin.

By now, plots like these have become the silver screen version of painting-by-numbers in the same manner as Tom Clancy inspired techno-thriller novels.

But the plot does have all of the makings of a straightforward pulp action thriller, as its opening set-piece suggests. In it Raizo ambushes a gang of Yakuza members, with heads and limbs severed and buckets of blood everywhere.

The level of over-the-top ultra-violence established through this opener is unfortunately juxtaposed with a serious tone devoid of much irony.

The film is not a nod to pulpy B-grade kung-fu genre of the 70s, nor is it a polished action flick geared towards a mainstream audience. Instead it's stuck in the middle ground, in an area unlikely to appeal to fans of either genre.

When production on the film was announced, anticipation was high, as it was written and produced by the makers of The Matrix trilogy, with directing duties falling on James McTiegue, the veteran director who scored both a critical hit and modest box office success with 2005's V for Vendetta.

But it seems somewhere down the line the creative vision of the producers and the director clashed without either camp realizing.

Perhaps they realized during post-production they had a potential turkey on their hands - the film's marketing has focused on Rain and the physical transformation he underwent during six months of grueling training with the stunt and fight team that trained the actors in "300."

And the result is there on the screen. The 28-year-old actor is shown sans shirt as if he's allergic to fabric except for a leather jacket.

He's ripped. His female fans will love him - as long as they don't get too squeamish from seeing all the blood.

He does a decent job with the few lines he has throughout the 98-minute running time.

The verdict is still out on whether this will be his breakthrough role and it will be interesting to see if his star power alone will be able to generate enough revenue in Asia to warrant future high-profile roles.


By Song Woong-ki

November 8, 2009

Yoon Eun Hye on My Fair Lady

Although we have yet to finish Yoon Eun Hye's latest drama - My Fair Lady, it is obvious that the actress herself is somewhat disappointed with the ratings of her latest work.

During a birthday party held for her fans, Yoon commented that she's flattered to know that some have come to see her as a guarantee to high ratings for any drama she's in. To be honest, it is not that far-fetched an idea when you consider the huge following she garnered in the hit drama series, The Princess Hours ("Goong") or Coffee Prince.

I hope this setback in the highly competitive ratings war between the Korean TV networks does not get to her as she is definitely a great actress. Frankly, she was let down by the scriptwriters in My Fair Lady.

That said, she's still showing her trademark "fighting" spirit by saying that she will strive to do even better with every stumble as long as her fans are there showing her their support.

Both Mydaemon and I are great fans of Yoon Eun Hye and we would like to let her know that we are looking forward to her next work and that we will never stop watching her productions even if the ratings are not ideal.

So keep the chin up girl! AJA!!!

Yoon Eun Hye
YEH looking like a million bucks at her birthday bash.
(Source: SPN)

Yoon Eun Hye

Photoshoot - Lee Hyori in London