Guest Review Master And Man

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[Guest Review]
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[Guest Review] "Master and Man"

In my recent "walk" through Korean animation, I stumbled upon Hong Deok-pyo, whose "The Senior Class" presented a very interesting social commentary dealing with art, the school environment and sex. After that, I decided to look a bit more into the director's filmography, and I stumbled upon "Master and Man", his previous work, an adult animated drama of 11 episodes, that shares many merits with the aforementioned title.

Hyeon-dae is a substitute art teacher and a playboy. For two years, he has been having a mainly sexual relationship with Min-joo, a traffic reporter. In one of their "dates", during sex, he tells her that he is about to get married. This revelation eventually breaks up their relationship, but also brings forth some unknown feelings. Hyeon-dae seems to want more from her, although his need to have sex with women is equally intense, while she seem to have feelings for another man, who is married. Almost immediately after, Min-joo decides to live with a third man, who has been pursuing her, in a rush decision that irritates Hyeon-dae, despite the fact that he cannot stop having sex with any woman that comes his way, including a student and his wife.

[Guest Film Review]
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[Guest Film Review] "A Moment to Remember"

Based on the 2001 Japanese television drama "Pure Soul", John H. Lee's second feature film was his first in the Korean language, and a huge success, becoming the highest grossing domestic film in the romance genre in the history of Korean cinema. Furthermore, upon its release in Japan in 2005, became the most successful Korean film ever in the country.

The story revolves around Cheol-soo, a carpenter working in construction who aspires to become an architect, and Soo-jin, the daughter of the contractor Cheol-soo is working for, and a fashion designer who has been recently spurned by her lover, a colleague who was also a married man. The film is split in two parts. The first one describes the courtship of the two and the second their lives together, which are shattered when Soo-jin is diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

[HanCinema's Drama Review]
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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 13-14

It took me a minute to remember why, exactly, Prince Seon and Hwa-goon were skulking about in the middle of the night trying to steal something. That's because this whole subplot is nestled inside another subplot, the one about the merchant expedition, and even that quickly manages to turn into another subplot as Cheong-eun runs into Moo-ha (played by Bae Yoo-ram), an old ally with an exceptionally good memory. A pity that's about his only useful skill.

Meanwhile, Ga-eun decides to take revenge on the king through a really stupid plan that comes right out of a video game and of course works because the palace guards are not terribly competent. We already knew that, of course, considering that Dae-mok's private army can apparently waltz in there whenever they please, kill whoever they want, and face no ill consequences. Anyway, the other Seon reacts to this situation by agonizing over whether or not he should take his mask off.

[HanCinema's Drama Review]
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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 15-16

Through a complicated bit of sleight of hand, Prince Seon and friends manage to achieve an important victory over Dae-mok. Because they got his...stuff, that Dae-mok was going to use to do...things. Normally I try not to overthink inherently meaningless MacGuffin devices, but the stakes in "Ruler: Master of the Mask" are so poorly defined I can only even figure out that Prince Seon's team won because of their smug victory expressions.

A great deal more emphasis is placed on Ga-eun, and that is not good. While Hwa-goon has been making a name for herself as a highly competent, ruthless, and honorable international businesswoman, Ga-eun's place in the plot has been reduced to that of a mere love interest. The emotions in her dramatic schemes come entirely over conflict regarding who she is going to marry and when, and for what ill-defined long term political purpose.

[Guest Film Review]
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[Guest Film Review] "Faceless Beauty"

Kim In-sik's second and last film takes a rather strange approach to the concept of hypnosis and psychiatry in general, through an even stranger narrative.

Ji-soo is a woman committed to a psychiatric hospital after she experiences a nervous breakdown. Seok-won, the psychiatrist who is treating her diagnoses a Borderline Personality Disorder. A bit later, both of them leave the hospital, Ji-soo to continue her life with her adulterer husband, Min-seok, and Seok-won to open his own practice, after a tragedy involving his wife. One year later, the two of them meet again by accident and they agree on a treatment plan, as they also become friends. Through hypnosis, Seok-won manages to steady her, but as he learns the facts of her life, he starts losing himself and gradually becomes obsessed with her. At the same time, her husband's guilt for his behaviour starts getting the better of him.