The High King Lives

(Foreign) Media Saturday: IP Man 2 (Chinese) and Playful Kiss (Korean) April 14, 2012

Hello friends and welcome to Media Saturday. Today is special because I have a guest blogger (my husband Chris) and we are reviewing foreign media. First, my hubby will review a Chinese movie “IP Man 2” based on Bruce Lee’s instructor. Secondly, I’ll be reviewing a youth television series called “Playful Kiss”. Playful Kiss is Korean live action but based on Japanese Manga.  🙂

#1 IP Man 2 (pronounced Yip man)~ a Chinese film. Review by Chris Dover

For those of you who don’t know, Ip Man (Yip Man) was a real life figure that was the principle instructor of Bruce Lee. He was trained in the martial arts style called Wing Chung. This move takes place in the 1950’s in British Ruled Hong Kong, shortly after WWII. He rents a rooftop building to set up a school to teach his martial arts. Initially he has no students, but one day a teen shows up to taunt and challenge him. During this fight, Ip Man holds back, only blocking and acting the moves, but the teen wants to see what he can really do, so Ip shows him. The teen flees and brings back others, they do the same thing, but all 4 end up begging to be his students.

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His school starts to grow, but students from another school harass one of Ip’s students, starting a fight. One thing leads to another and Ip gets an offer to prove to the other martial arts masters that he deserves a school in Hong Kong. He succeeds, but turns down their offer when he finds out he owes dues for having the school. More harassment starts, but then during a boxing exhibition, a fight breaks out between Mr Twister, the World Boxing Champion, and several kung fu fighters. In an attempt to keep the honor of Chinese martial arts, one of the masters challenges Twister to a fight. In the fight, Twister’s endurance stands against the older master’s skill and he beats the master to death. Later, in a mocking apology, Twister opens up another challenge against the Chinese. This is when Ip steps up….

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I personally enjoy movies like this. The first movie was good as well as this movie. The movie is in Chinese with English subtitles, but the British people speak in English. There are a few profane words, but are in Chinese, with subtitles showing the word. Like it was said before Ip Man was a real martial Arts master, was the instructor to Bruce Lee, and actually did challenge professional boxers (He fought several). Even with this truth, a lot of the story was fiction, such as the fights with Twister (Twister was never a real boxer, they just combined several fighters into one for the movie) among others, but it makes a good movie. There is a lot of fighting action combined with touching moments with his family. The fight scenes were pretty good. They didn’t use over-the-top stuff like in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but most seemed more believable. Overall, it was a pretty good movie.

Note from Amber: this was one of the few Martial arts movies that grabbed my attention and I actually sat down and watched the rest of the movie with my hubby. It had a “Rocky” feel to it.

#2 Playful Kiss ~ a South Korean drama. Review by Amber Dover

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Playful Kiss is a South Korean drama for teens. It’s based on a popular Japanese Manga. You can watch it on Netflix. There are 16 episodes but they are an hour each. Don’t let the title fool you. This series is definitely PG. It’s very cute and girly. There’s plenty of comic relief to keep some of the guys watching. There’s also alot of quirky movie spoofs.

Wikipedia sums it up well:

“A high school girl named Oh Ha Ni (Jung So Min) who is in the bottom of her class has had a crush on popular and genius male student named Baek Seung Jo (Kim Hyun Joong) ever since she saw him on the first day of high school. Ha Ni decides to confess through a letter, but is rejected by Seung Jo, who tells her that he hates stupid girls.

Fate intervenes when a mild earthquake ruins Ha Ni’s family’s new house. While the house gets rebuilt, Ha Ni and her father stay at the home of her dad’s childhood friend, who happens to be Seung Jo’s father.

The drama continues with portraying Seung Jo and Ha Ni moving onto college and university, whilst facing many difficulties and problems, in which eventually lead Seung Jo to fall for Ha Ni in a romantic and protective way.”

I’ve watched a few foreign films but watching  16 hours of a Korean drama with subtitles was quite an achievement lol. I was sucked in ….what can I say :). There are several interesting characters in Playful Kiss. A majority of them start out immature and directionless. The fun part is seeing how the characters grow through all their crazy antics. By the end of the series all of the characters have matured greatly.

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Let me introduce you to some of the major characters:

Oh Ha Ni- Oh Ha Ni is the star. She starts out rather goofy and not at all book smart. She has a huge crush on Seung Jo although he blocks her advances. Oh Ha Ni is willing to do almost anything to get Seung Jo to notice her….even taking on a challenge to become one of the top students. Although Oh Ha Ni is obsessive and has little direction herself…we see her grow into a strong woman along the way. Soon Oh Ha Ni realizes she likes getting good grades and by the end of the series she is setting goals for herself instead of just living for Seung Jo.

Oh Ha Ni’s story from puberty to adulthood is the most hilarious. Another funny aspect is how we get to listen to Oh Ha Ni’s inner thoughts. Sometimes we see her thoughts as movie spoofs (like on the Matrix etc). The first scene of the series is  Oh Ha Ni dreaming Seung Jo kisses her. It’s a rather cheesy scene and at first I thought I wouldn’t get into the series…..but as I saw the different characters interact I began to love it. I like how Oh Ha Ni is very innocent and she’s committed…unlike certain American  teen heroines who have a new boyfriend every couple of seconds.She’s a very creative person.

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Baek Seung Jo– this is the guy we can’t decide to love or hate. Seung Jo is Oh Ha Ni’s popular and super smart crush. In the beginning Seung Jo is very stuck on himself.  He hates dumb girls. We soon see Seung Jo wants a challenge and boy does he get it when Oh Ha Ni starts to follow him around like a little duck. In a way, Oh Ha Ni becomes Seung Jo’s social experiment and through it all we see Seung Jo feels protective of Oh Ha Ni. Seung Jo has  a soft side and he’s not as cold hearted as we’re led to believe. He’s just very guarded. We also find out that his mom wanted a girl so bad that she dressed Seung Jo in girl’s clothes when he was little. He’s a bit scarred from it.

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Bong Joon Gu- Here comes the comic relief. Bong Joon Gu is a Korean Elvis look alike.  His hairstyle is trapped in the 50’s and his attitude is that of a cheesy Fonzie. What’s worse is that Bong Joon has a HUGE crush on Oh Ha Ni. So in a way we have a love triangle…except Oh Ha Ni doesn’t like Bong Joon in that way at all. If you think Oh Ha Ni will do some goofy things to get attention then just wait til you see Bong Joon. Bong Joon can be annoying and over the top but his character may grown on you as well. As we see Bong Joon mature we realize he’s not as stupid as he acts/looks. We find Bong Joon is a talented chef and he too must learn how to set goals for himself apart from obsessing over his crush.

Oh Ha Ni’s girl friends (Jung Joo Ri & Dok Go Min Ah)- You have the shy artsy friend and then the loud goofy friend who likes to style hair in class. They are the typical girl friends and they also add comic relief. They are very supportive to Oh Ha Ni.

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The Nerdy Band– In every other episode we hear the band play the “Playful Kiss” theme song between scenes. As you can see from the picture..the band is quite eccentric and…well nerdy. The members are also apart of Bonj Joon’s rag tag bunch.

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Seung Jo’s mom (Hwang Geum Hee) – Seung Jo’s mom is way over the top and it’s obvious she’s desperate for girl time. When Oh Ha Ni comes to stay with Seung Jo’s family his mom goes overboard decorating a girly room for Oh Ha Ni. Seung Jo’s mom is very pushy and does her best to match make Oh Ha Ni and Seung Jo. Often she is critical of Seung Jo’s cold exterior. We see she wanted a girl and had a boy instead. Seung Jo’s mom bonds well with Oh Ha Ni and becomes the mom Oh Ha Ni never knew (her mom died when she was little). Oh Ha Ni is like a daughter to Seung Jo’s mom. Seung Jo’s mom brings more comic relief. We see she is an avid blogger and keeps up with the kids as part of her blog. She’s super dramatic but sometimes you need a crazy mom to get things a goin’ 🙂

The stuck up smart girl– there are two of these girls….one in Highschool and one in college. They both prove to be Oh Ha Ni’s competition for Seung Jo.

When I said this show is cutesy I mean’t it. Each episode ends with pictures of teddy bears acting out one of the scenes. It’s completely girly…..but I’m a girl so I like it lol. I wouldn’t say this show is for young children because it deals with relationship issues. Plus the series follows Oh Ha Ni and Seung Jo into college and it becomes a little more adult (but still very innocent). If you let your teen watch this then make sure to have a good talk with them about values in a relationship. It’s unhealthy to be so obsessive over another person.

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Also there are two things that were bothersome. In one episode a curse word was thrown in. It was very quick (remember this is in subtitles) and I’m not sure if it was the actual “D” word or the slang for it. It’s hard to tell with subtitles.  The other thing is there’s one scene where Oh Ha Ni runs into a male flasher. She refuses to look so the flasher steals Oh Ha Ni’s shoe that fell off. Oh Ha Ni chases the man and agrees to look once to get her shoe back. As she’s preparing herself to be flashed, Seung Jo saves Oh Ha Ni from seeing the flasher exposed. Seung Jo also chases the flasher down and gets Oh Ha Ni’s shoe. So you never see anything and Seung Jo protects Oh Ha Ni’s innocence. Still it’s just a disturbing scene.

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Overall, Playful Kiss is a cute show and worth the subtitles. It’s funny, romantic, and at times touching. There’s one episode where the kids take this boy who’s dying out of the hospital and race him around in his wheel chair. The show is definitely witty and the characters have depth. They get better too as the show progresses. I’m a kid at heart but I think other moms may enjoy this as well. If you’re going to let your daughter watch this series I recommend watching it with her….to discuss issues that come up. This show has more depth than Hannah Montana and it’s funnier in some ways. Plus, it exposes you to another culture. By the end of the series I thought everyone I heard was speaking in Korean lol!

Well, God bless and remember The High King Lives!~Amber Dover


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