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AsiaReviewerManiac’s Embarassingly Lacking Year In Review (2016): Just don’t bother asking again…please

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Hi everyone, and welcome back! It is finally time for me to share my own year in review…or at least try to. For 2016, it is most certainly more disappointing than last year’s by far. This year…it just hasn’t been the year for me folks.

In numerous aspects: uni, work and my social life has taken a major toll, and all I needed was some time to myself, to mend myself and make sure that I can stand upright again to face another day, and basically another year. Man, am I glad for 2016 to be finally over.

Sorry to those who have thought this year to have been not bad…this has been by far the worst year I could have possibly imagined it to be…honestly, let’s just get this post started already.

But wait! Before I begin, I want to kinda make a little note here, and stretch out the playing field with this year’s review. This year, in terms of watching dramas, has been both embarrassing and  just bad. However, I have in turn substituted it by watching plenty of movies which have all been fantastic. Seriously, some K-movies this year have just been brilliant, and I kinda wanna give them a heads-up, because it’s too late now to dedicate them a proper review. Perhaps I might consider it next year, but knowing me…I highly doubt it.

Let’s do this.

This will be presented in the order that I…can remember watching them. I am so sorry everyone, it’s been a whacky year. As per usual, the end will feature my “currently watching” list along with a ‘current’ rating for them all. The rating system is based on the usual system I usually use by the lovely goddesses of K-drama reviews themselves over at Dramabeans: how much I liked it and how good it was objectively.

K-drama: Descendants of the Sun (2016) | Not much needs to be said; just go check it out

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I’m sure my opinion on this drama is going to anger many loyal fans of this drama,.but I have to say…this one, like many, is slightly overrated. Yes, there are numerous aspects that makes this drama extremely popular and very enjoyable to watch, but the biggest issue I found with the drama was that it tried to be numerous genres all crammed into a 16 episode drama. It had all sorts jammed packed into it: romance, action, medical, a bit of melo… Yes, the change in pacing and setting really keeps the drama moving forward, but it added and sacrificed so much that could have been reconfigured to be more organised. Also, the script in my opinion was quite lacking, and very very cheesy (if you didn’t know this and is instantly turned off, here’s your heads-up) which also contributed to this quite major downside of the drama. If you’re into very well constructed scripts and lines between characters, this drama may not be the one for you.

However, if you’re willing to overlook it to root for pairings, romance and some action here and there, then look no further and just pick up this drama already. Indeed as most say, Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo’s chemistry is really amazing to see, and all characters in general have done a fantastic job with this drama. Still however, I personally did struggle with getting through this one, even though it was hooking and very addictive. Just…thinking over it in hindsight, this drama does not scream something amazing like 49 Days (nothing can top that really :3), yet isn’t exactly bad like *cough cough* The Heirs *cough cough* was back in the day. But anyway, if you’re into the genres I’ve listed above then go ahead and check this out. Huge Joong Ki / Hye Kyo fan? A big must to check this out I’d say (especially for Joong Ki-oppa ;D)

Rating: 7/7

 

K-drama: Goodbye Mr. Black (2016) | Review

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If you do have time to spare, and are a huge fan of Lee Jin Wook, then perhaps give this drama a try. This drama does try to place itself different from most revenge dramas, as it gives us a male protagonist who remains mostly human and a loveable heroine who allows him to remain moral and remind him of what truly matters in life. This isn’t one that is mind-blowing nor unique, but still an enjoyable watch if you’re seeking a melo that has root-worthy leads. Be warned though; you will DESPISE the antagonists of this drama…just giving a heads-up. 😉 If you want to read something that is a little more detailed, check out the review I wrote for it 😀

Rating: 7.5/6.5

 

K-drama: Marriage Contract (2016) | I want too…should I?

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Wow, where do I start with this one? This one certainly was a very nice surprise for me personally. I have always rooted for Uee and her acting career, but prior to watching this drama, I didn’t think much about it. After this, I have total respect for her acting; SHE IS AMAZING IN THIS! Just…wow…she was the key in this drama honestly, the ultimate key. Truly outdone yourself Uee, really well done! I know many will complain about your acting but boy, they all have got it wrong!

This drama was amazing on so many aspects. It was truly touching, refreshing and thought-provoking. I can’t even imagine how I would react if I were ever in such a scenario. The true heroes here are the characters, and their characterisation. They were nothing out of the ordinary, yet they were just so…original to watch. The character development is truly great in this drama, which is a sufficient reason in my opinion to watch this. Yes, this drama is cliched, predictable and does not leave the typical K-drama tropes however, the way that this drama had been filmed and created makes it seem so heartwarmingly down-to-earth and filled with small moments that other dramas would immediately overlook; this takes those small moments and created a masterpiece to watch. So, if you want to watch a piece that deals with family, the ups and downs in life and contains amazing main lead chemistry, then this is the drama to check out. A warning in advance though is that this is a romantic melodrama – if you can’t deal with heavy content, or is a dedicated rom-com lover, perhaps think twice about picking this one up.

Rating: 8.5/8

 

K-drama: Doctors (2016) | Current Trek  I don’t think a review is possible anymore 😦

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Yes yes yes and YES! Despite what many say about the drama, I honestly believe that there is much to like about this one. Acting is great, and the drama is unique in terms of what it aims to explore and explain to the audience. Every episode attempts to enlighten us about a life lesson which is something I personally enjoyed about this drama quite a lot. The whole concept of dealing with relationships, people and life problems in general is relatable, and quite soothing in terms of “Hey, would you look at that? I’m not just the only one dealing with unnecessary life stress!” Yes, the story is weak and there is little plot development by the halfway mark, but I honestly believe that once you buy the main leads’ relationship (if you can accept it, which I did) you can just simply follow along with the drama without too much commitment. Also, Kim Rae Won :3 That’s all you need to know 😉

Rating: 8.5/7

 

K-drama: The Good Wife (2016) | You should just watch it, don’t question

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This drama really did the original American series justice. It is a drama that is unlike your typical drama, as it undertakes a mature-like tone both in plot and in characterisation. It deals with mature and complex issues very well, and the character development for the whole cast was very, very satisfying to watch. There was a lack of predictable character tropes (thank god!) and I loved the fact that the drama simply wasn’t black and white, or a true wrong or right to all problems. The drama was portraying how we as humans react to certain situations, how human nature kicks in when life is just toppling over you. The production value on this drama was worth every cent, and I really thank the production team on this beauty; it was simply a joy and honour to watch. The only teeny tiny issue I had with it was the writing for Nana’s character. Not her acting (her acting was fantastic!) but rather the existence of her character was just way too convenient at times. She’s badass, yes, but honestly I felt more that her character was used more as a plot device to push the story forward more so than a fleshed out character of her own. Apart from that though, I absolutely loved this drama. Big shoutout to Yoo Ji Tae and Kim Seo Hyung’s characters. They both are the true MVPs of this drama!

Rating: 9/9

 

K-drama: Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (2016) | Will try to post my review soon…I hope

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This drama definitely caught plenty of hype this year. I was driven to watch it because I absolutely loved the original Chinese drama, and was curious as to how they would have adapted the story into an historical Korean setting. I would sadly…that there was too much hype, which I honestly should have expected. By far the drama’s saving grace was Lee Joon-Gi’s versatile and gripping acting as the 4th Prince Wang So, and the visuals which made the experience dreamy and enjoyable on the eyes. Sadly, the writing and certain decisions made in the directing side of things was a huge letdown for this drama, so if you are one who needs a story to drive you forward with a drama, this is most certainly not the best choice for you from 2016.

One more thing you must know. There are 2 versions available for this drama. I would personally encourage you all to follow the SBS version for a more complete story, but there are certain cute and romantic scenes that have been cut (God knows why~), which you can find online. Trust me on this that if you want a certain complete idea about what this drama was aiming to be, you need to work for it :/

Rating: 8.5/6.5

 

K-drama: Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (2016) | On the fence…

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Ahhhh Moonlight Drawn by Clouds, what do I say about you…To be honest, I was hooked initially by the drama; Park Bo Gum is one talented and gorgeous man, and his chemistry with Yoo Jung was truly enjoyable to watch on-screen. However, as many will complain about this one is that it has just been overdone, way too overdone. So many aspects about the drama really caused me to just want to give up on this one (I won’t go into details to avoid spoilers), and not to mention that dragged out and slightly rushed ending which was a true letdown, especially when the drama was going so well for most parts of it.  

The true driving factor was of course the chemistry and whole cast; the downside of this drama was the lack of character development for other side characters, as well as a slightly lacking story for them. There is perhaps a little too much fluff in there for my liking (but then again the actors are quite young so I shouldn’t be demanding too much in this aspect) but once you see Bo Gum, you pretty much ignore and forget it to be honest. So, if you want to swoon over Bo Gum, watch it pretty much. Otherwise, if you are kinda sick and tired about the sageuk gender bender genres, then perhaps reconsider watching this one.

Rating: 7/7

 

K-drama: Snow Lotus (2015) | Nope, not writing one. Nope nope nope

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I have to go against the majority on this one and say that I was NOT a huge fan of this one. Sure, it’s short, gets straight to the point and is most definitely one of the more successful gender-bender of recent times, but boy I could not stand Ji Jin Hee’s character. I just could not tolerate him (I’m so sorry Jin Hee-sshi!). His irrational anger and hatred at times was just frustrating to watch on screen, and made me really question how anyone could have tolerated him in the workplace. I would say chances are you would enjoy this one over I did, as if you keep your mindset open and standards low, you will like it. I watched it initially for Ji Jin Hee, but I stayed on because I really hoped that Lee Ji Ah’s character gets a happy ending. So, endnote. I would say, check this out if you’re looking for something short (only 2 hours) with a story that is most definitely not predictable.

Rating: 6/7

 

C-drama: Singing All Along (2016) | Wanted to…but it’s probably not happening

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This one was good. Quite good on multiple aspects. The main aspect that really allows me to think that this is a keeper, is the amount of effort placed into building the relationships within this drama: family, loyalty and love. All the relationships built seem genuine and are beautiful to watch. Each character from the Liu family (at least the males) allow you to place true respect for them as they are so loyal to their family and closest loved ones. The true effort made into creating these bonds between characters is truly commendable.

I must warn you though…it has quite a slow start to it all, but later on it does get better as long as you have enough patience to follow with the characters and the numerous plot twists that unfold for our characters.These sorts really pushes on your patience, and so you must persevere forward in order to finish it. The story is quite interesting though it’s nothing too unique or mind blowing, as it is simply your typical Chinese historical drama with a kind-hearted female lead, and an anti-hero who wants to gain revenge and ruin everything for everyone. Everyone’s acting is superb (especially Yuan Hong :3), especially both our leads; I have absolutely no complaints about them two, and their chemistry is just great on-screen. Only main downside of it all is that the middle drags slightly, which is never surprising for most dramas. Another thing could be some stupid and slightly frustrating side characters which are just a pain to watch at times (but then again, when do you see a drama without such characters). Other than that though, this drama is a true keeper, and I would believe that it is quite worth watching.

Rating: 8/7

 

C-drama: Addiction (2016) | Really on the fence about writing a review for this drama

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Well well well, what do I say about this one…I fell in love with this one. Truely.

I have to give a heads-up about this one though…it’s a boy on boy drama so, if you’re quite sensitive about that topic then please do not try to attempt watching this. This isn’t a drama that just contains bromance; it is indeed a mature drama and so please keep that in mind.

Anyway, I just adored this one! The chemistry between Luo Yin and Gu Hai was just cute, genuine and really enjoyable to watch. Everything about them two seemed natural:, the way they act stubbornly to one another, and how one seems shy and embarrassed to reciprocate his feelings for the other. Luo Yin and Gu Hai prove that no matter the obstacles that both may encounter, as long as you are true to each other and love each other, anything is possible 🙂

The music in this drama is quite well done too; certain choices seemed to really suit certain scenes very fittingly. The entire series is actually quite short too; each episode is roughly about 20-25 minutes, so the series’ pacing does not waste any time building characters and pushing the plot forward. The only main downside about this drama (and more saddening is that it’s not their fault) is that since this is a Chinese drama that deals with homosexuality, the government has censored this drama very severely, which has led to certain incoherencies and confusing flow of story in certain episodes. Also, the series has been banned in the country, so the ending is incomplete and is screaming for a 2nd season, yet it can’t be completed due to censorship. That is what makes this drama not full marks, otherwise it would be. As another dedicated fan to the series, we will still wait the day Season 2 is announced :’)

Rating: 9/8

 

C-drama: When a Snail Falls in Love (2016) | Maybe yes, maybe no

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I had picked this up for 2 reasons: Wang Kai, and cause of the Love Me if you Dare vibes I got from this. And man, I was most definitely not disappointed. The story and characters totally impressed me (especially Wang Kai…sigh~~) but then again, I’m a huge sucker for crime/detective dramas. There is quite a lot of information placed on you initially which may throw you off, but once you are able to grasp the situation and setting it is indeed a joy to follow. If you were looking for a series that really focuses on investigations and crime, then this is perhaps the drama you’ve been looking for. It has a very well written plot, and the cinematography in this is really quite something. Although our leads have amazing chemistry with each other, the romance in this is slightly scaled down to place more focus on the detective and investigation of cases within the drama. As much as I loved the action and the intensity each episode had, the lack of romance to ease certain scenes was slightly disappointing, just slightly. Otherwise, I was truly happy with this one as it seemed that the drama initially set out to be a much more serious one, and played it that way right to the end. So, if you are seeking for a suspenseful and action packed drama with leads that have some strong chemistry, then check it out. If you were hoping for a romantic drama with some crime fighting on the side, then maybe more Love Me if you Dare rather than this one?

…I would still recommend you to check this one out though…please do 🙂

Rating: 9/9

 

C-drama: Cage of Love (2015) | ….Nah~

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…Yeah, I almost forgot that I watched this one earlier in the year. Being a loyal Hawick fan, I was willing to check this one out in order to support the man. But geez…this was a tough one to get through. I never understand why Hawick has such bad luck in selecting dramas to act in, especially when he is an absolute joy to watch on-screen. I swear, he has the worst luck.

But anyway, this drama fails on numerous aspects: poor writing in plot, a frustrating female lead who was indecisive and bland, and it does sadly remind me a lot about…*intakes breath* Sealed with a Kiss…*shivers* As you would all know, I didn’t really like that drama A LOT, so realising that this drama had quite a couple of similarities with that tragedy really made me unhappy with this one. But regardless, the poor execution of numerous scenes due to either crappy writing or inability to properly express emotions and feelings really made this drama a hard one to plow through. The only saving grace for this one is Hawick…and maybe the setting and costumes? Otherwise, do not even bother with this one, unless you’re a huge fan of Hawick and wanna support him :/

Rating: 5/5

Movies:

K-movie: Train to Busan (2016) | Do I need to write one? I’m sure everyone has seen this by now

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Looking for an action packed movie that has a complete story, is thrilling and suspenseful while also having an tinge of humour and tragedy? Then by all means, check out this movie ASAP (rather, how have you NOT watched this movie yet?)

The movie itself isn’t a horror movie at heart despite it being a zombie-apocalypse movie. It is moreso a movie that focuses on survival, tragedy and quickly humanity can turn a blind eye on those who are most vulnerable. It is fast paced, makes you become attached to so many great characters (Ma Dong Seok’s character is by far the best and most badass one of all. Seriously, he is such a dependable person! Bring me a hubby like him!) and the entire setting as well as CGI effects and costuming is just fantastic and detailed. I had watched the movie in the cinemas with my friends and boy, the entire mood and atmosphere was surreal to say the least. I would recommend ANYONE this if you were seeking for a movie that screamed action, thriller, horror or just one heck of a ride of a movie. The only reason…the only reason why I’m not giving this movie full marks…is because of the distasteful villain and that ending…that ending tore my heart out really. I will admit with no shame that I did shed quite a couple of tears when watching it the first time through.

Rating: 9.5/9.5

 

K-movie: Time Renegades (2016) | Maybe yes, maybe no???

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This one was another movie that really outdone itself. For those who have watched the drama Signal should most definitely check this one out as both share very similar storylines. I haven’t watched the drama myself, but it is still on my list of future dramas to check out. The plot, the cinematography, the characters; everything about this movie was just fantastic and very interesting to watch. Jo Jung Suk and Lee Jin Wook…where do I begin? These two gentleman are just so versatile with their acting, and it was a true joy to see them on the big screen. The Korean movie industry has in recent years been saturated with thriller/detective movies, and thankfully this is one that does stand out from the crowd. And so, if you are seeking for a crime thriller which deals with the supernatural to a certain extent then by all means, check this beauty out.

Rating: 8.5/8.5

 

K-movie: Asura: A City of Madness (2016) | Another on the fence…

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If you were in search of a gory, action-packed crime thriller driven by an anti-hero stuck in a gruesome world, then perhaps this is what you have been looking for, if you can stomach it all. This film does kinda get quite brutal and yes, there is gonna be quite a bit of blood spilled everywhere, but this all-star cast makes it kinda hard to disappoint. I won’t go into detail about the film to retain the mystery of it all, but trust me when I say that the main driving factor for this film was certainly the stellar cast we had.

However, the real aspect that grasped me the most after finishing the film was the realisation that…no one was a ‘good’ person. Rather, there was no one who can be deemed remotely decent in terms of retaining their humanity. What I enjoyed about the film was the overall message the director tried to present to the audience is the power of corruption has upon society, and how even a drop of it is present everywhere, in both justice and politics. The production value is insane, with numerous action scenes constantly placed on the big screen. My only issue with it was perhaps the oversaturated use of spilt blood in some scenes, and the length of the film. If it were just 2 hours, this film would have felt that dragged out I’d say.

NOTE: Please be aware that this film is an R-rated film, so for anyone who is underage, please DO NOT watch the film until allowed.

Rating: 8/8

 

J-movie: Your Name (2016) | Currently on the fence; I want to but still unsure when it will be up

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Yes, this is an anime movie and yes, this was good! Very good. There is bits and pieces that really reminded me of Miyasaki’s work which I loved, but in no way should this be compared to his works. Your Name is an amazing work and although it doesn’t have that same vibe as Miyasaki’s, it handles its own story and themes very well. You go on an emotional rollercoaster with this piece: joy, confusion, warmth and every step you take unfolds the mystery behind the connection between these two characters. The animations are splendid, and the music likewise is really suitable. The only downside I have to say is the change of tone in the later half of the film. Although it was necessary, I felt the change to be quite rough and slightly disjointed, especially since this is a time-travel themed story, it was crucial to not make it too heavy. Despite that though, the story of Mitsuha and Taki should not be missed, as they are definite characters you will root for. I’ll have to admit, I did shed some tears towards the end of it all, as did others who I watched the film with. This was truly a joy to watch, and I’d encourage anyone to go check out this one, regardless as to whether you like watching anime films or not.

Rating: 8.5/8.5

 

That is my list of completed dramas and movies for 2016. As for my currently watching, there is only one…

K-drama: Goblin (2016) | HELL YEAH I’M GONNA WRITE ONE!

 

 

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I love it. I. LOVE. THIS.

Everything about it is…SO SO GOOD! This is a great way to end the year, and I am most certainly going to follow this one to the end. I am absolutely attached to all the characters, and just emotionally invested to all of them. All of the cast have been very well written, and all really to tug at my heart, both in a good and bad way. The only thing that I would kinda complain about is the reallllllyyyyyy slllllooooooowwwww pllllloooooottttt. I mean come on show, won’t you just pick up the pace a little bit, just a little? But regardless, the investment in these characters is allowing me to go ahead with this, and you can be certain that a review will be here once this finishes. Gong Yoo…it has indeed been your year to shine (not that you haven’t before). Please go ahead and check this out if you want a little fantasy, romance and laughs, lots of them 😉

Rating: 8.5/8.5

Annnndddd that’s a wrap everyone! Here is my Year In Review for 2016. Although it has been yet another disappointing year in terms of blogging, I hope that this extensive list of dramas and movies redeems the lack of activity that I’ve had on this blog. As per usual, I want to thank you all for the continued support for this site; without you all, I would have never continued with blogging, for you all truly inspire me to strive forward with my writing. I hope that each and everyone one of you had a wonderful New Year spent with friends and family, stay safe and HAVE FUN FOLKS! See you all very soon I hope!

❤ Hyunnie ^^~

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Author: Hyunnie

Hello~~ ^^ I'm a young blogger opening her first ever blog in order to share to the world reviews on some of the best and worst Asian dramas, movies, music; you name it! I am also currently guest-posting on Dramafever News. Mainly, I post about dramas on that site so if you are interested, check me out there! Please fill free to comment on this site and maybe suggest some stuff for me to talk about ^^ Hope you guys enjoy and see you later!

3 thoughts on “AsiaReviewerManiac’s Embarassingly Lacking Year In Review (2016): Just don’t bother asking again…please

  1. Yeah, so I agree with every one of your reviews! And I LOVE Goblin right now. I do agree that it’s strangely slow–lots of longing glances and close-ups. But for some reason that doesn’t bother me a bit! I just love every epic moment of this thing.

    Nice to meet you Hyunnie! Keep sharing your thoughts on dramas! I’ll follow along for sure. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Devon
    http://www.devonandcornwall.wordpress.com

    • Hi Devon, pleased to meet you! I’m so happy to hear that you agree with my reviews! I was almost oqrried my opinions were too vastly different from others that no one understood why I would like/hate certain dramas.

      And yes, now that the plot had really picked up in Goblin, I’m enjoying it more and more now. Hopefully this drama won’t let us down.

      I’ve checked out your blog, and I’m definitely going to be checking out what else you will bring to the blogosphere in the future. Welcome and I hope to hear from you in the future!

      ❤ Hyunnie

      • Thank you, Hyunnie! It’s far past time I blogged about my love of Asian dramas. ^.^ I’ve done so much blogging about my life as an author, but the two have melded together, so it’s only right that my blog reflect that. Keep sharing your honest reviews! Fighting!

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