The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling


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Review: The Three Musketeers

THE SHORT VERDICT:

More often brisk and breezy than not, more often engaging and fun than not, and more often interesting and entertaining than not, The Three Musketeers is more than your average fusion sageuk.

This drama is a pretty bold attempt to adapt an age-old tale across mediums (novel to drama) and across cultures (French to Korean), while doing its best to retain the optimum crack ingredients that would appeal to a kdrama-loving audience.

Possibly due to its ambition, pacing across the show can be a little uneven, and logic gets sacrificed on more occasions than one might expect. Put on some generous Logic Blinders, though, and there are likely to be enough goodies in this one to make it worth your while.

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Review: It’s Okay It’s Love

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A quirky confection that is as sweet as it is strange, It’s Okay serves up an oddball-flavored 3-in-1 love package exploring romance, friendship and family, with a big dose of dysfunction and dramaland psychiatry on the side.

Show is not always big on the logic nor on the medical accuracy, but its characters and relationships are consistently delivered with heart and nuance, helping us to buy into and believe in its world, no matter how surreal things sometimes get. Excellent performances by our leads as well as many of the secondary characters, together with some very sparky OTP chemistry, help to sweeten the deal.

At its heart, It’s Okay’s charm is that it’s an imperfect show peopled by imperfect characters, to appeal to an imperfect audience.

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Review: Feelings [Neukkim]

THE SHORT VERDICT:

One of the original trendies that helped to start it all, Feelings is as much of a nostalgic treat for seasoned viewers, as it is a novel peek into Hallyu’s beginnings for newer viewers.

An easy breezy story with a timeless appeal, Feelings follows a group of young people as they navigate the journey to adulthood, wrestling with classic questions of evolving identity and purpose. Of course, youthful impulsiveness, angst & good ol’ hormones intensify and amplify their emotions to a distracting degree. Because honestly, at that age, isn’t it really all about feeeelings?

The show’s 20-year vintage shows; the drama’s production values, writing and acting all veer on the side of earnest and a little clumsy. But the retro awesome, from early 90s hair and fashion, to the novelty of seeing established stars in their early years, makes up for it all.

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Review: Fated to Love You

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A drama that’s fantastically cracky in its first half, but unfortunately meanders into Sad Angstville in its later episodes and never quite recovers fully from its detour.

Fated To Love You is extremely easy to fall for in its early episodes. Fabulously committed and nuanced deliveries by Jang Hyuk and Jang Na Ra not only bring the funny, but also land the emotional beats extremely well. Their lovely, very believable chemistry as our OTP is also a big draw. All of this, combined with a story that clocks a brisk pace, and finds time to serve up a variety of cheeky meta, makes Early Show one deliciously addictive package that charmingly sweeps us off our feet as it engages us in its confident, off-beat dance.

Unfortunately, the brisk pace slows to a crawl in the show’s last stretch, and it feels like our story gets weary from doing time on a Going Nowhere treadmill. On the upside, The Cute eventually comes back; Show’s just not quite as cracky at its end as compared to its glorious beginnings.

Depending on your love &/or patience levels, your mileage with this show as a whole is likely to vary.

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Review: One Warm Word

THE SHORT VERDICT:

This is that rare breed of melodrama that doesn’t lay on the angst for the sake of angst, or pain for the sake of pain, but instead approaches its chosen premise with thoughtful sensitivity.

Populated with characters and relationships that are drawn and delivered with care and complexity, One Warm Word manages to ask many thought-provoking questions and raise several important themes, all while remaining a genuinely rich and engaging watch. There are some stretches which are angstier – and therefore harder to get through – but viewers who press through those times will be rewarded with a thought-provoking, ultimately warm watch.

Also, the show is a LOT prettier than the admittedly odd artistic sentiment expressed in its posters and OST covers. And I’m not even talking about the show’s very handsome men (yet).

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Review: Her Lovely Heels

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Her Lovely Heels is a short little mini-drama that boasts more atmosphere than actual story, more pretty than plot.

At just 12 short minutes per episode, the 10-episode mini-drama is literally only as long as a movie, yet tries to pack in as much as a regular drama in terms of OTP milestones, drama tropes and PPL. All of this, combined with its solid production values, pleasant OST and its earnest-but-stiff cast, makes watching Her Lovely Heels feel akin to watching a long infomercial. Show doesn’t have much meat on its bones, but it’s pretty, and it gets to its destination (while managing to hawk its products).

So why did I check this out at all? Why, for the Hong Jong Hyun Pretty, of course. I mean, just lookie at the Handsome:

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44 Comments

Review: Secret Love Affair

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A drama that is a lot more measured and contemplative than its title – or its poster – might suggest.

To my knowledge, a good number of viewers hesitate over this show for one or several of these reasons: it’s about adultery; it probably condones adultery; it’s probably salacious, titillating audiences with an affair between a much older woman and a much younger man.

Secret Love Affair is not at all the cheap watch that some might assume it to be. Thoughtfully written, expertly directed & executed and excellently acted, Secret Love Affair is an absorbing, immersive watch that is at once the story of a man, the journey of a woman, and an uncompromising study of human nature and what it means to really live.

Substantial, poetic and thought-provoking, and well worth your time.

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Review: Haeundae Lovers

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A drama that positions itself as a breezy rom-com, but that also happens to have birth secrets and corporate politics hidden up its deceptively fluffy sleeves.

Because of plot pacing that jerks between campy comedy and more melodramatic arcs, watching this drama can be a very uneven experience at times. Still, if you’d care to peel away this show’s flaws – layers made up of sudden melodramatic dips, lots of yelling and screeching by two-dimensional secondary characters, and more overacting than I’d care to mention – there might be just enough cute and just enough heart to keep you hanging in there.

Plus, there’s quite a lot of Kim Kang Woo pretty on display. Depending on where you’re coming from, that could potentially count for a lot.

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Review: I Need Romance 3

THE SHORT VERDICT:

I Need Romance 3 is like the milder, sweeter, slightly ditzy younger cousin of the older, more worldly-wise I Need Romance dramas.

While INR3 may look like its cousins on the surface – glossy & modern, complete with real kisses & sexytimes – at its heart, it holds dear many classic dramaland rom-com values about Romance and True Love. Oh, and the ditziness? It’s coz logic isn’t this drama’s strength, and there’s a fair chunk of stuff in INR3 that doesn’t actually make sense.

If you loved I Need Romance &/or I Need Romance 2012, you’d probably be disappointed in this one. Conversely, if you didn’t like the first two installments, then this one just might sit better than you’d think.

Oh, and there’s Sung Joon. Mmmm.

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23 Comments

Review: Miss Korea

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Quiet, low-key and unassuming, Miss Korea is the modest little drama that could.

What Miss Korea lacks in big plot movement, it makes up for with attentive character establishment and development, which gives this series its almost-but-not-quite slice-of-life, almost-family-drama feel. Populated by earnest characters who feel ordinary, real and likable, Miss Korea is the kind of show that one develops a slow but enduring affection for.

Another helpful thing to know: Despite its title and premise, Miss Korea isn’t really about beauty pageants per se. It’s more about how ordinary people muster up their inner mettle, to face seemingly insurmountable challenges; not only to survive, but to pursue meaning and happiness in their lives.

An underrated, heartwarming little gem.

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