Top Asian Dramas of 2015

•February 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment

top 2015 dramas

Now that most 2015 Asian dramas have come to an end, I figured it’s time for me to list my favorite dramas from last year by country.  2015 was a good year for Asian dramas.  It was really difficult to pick just one drama per country, but here it goes.

Korea – Kill Me, Heal Me

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Kill Me, Heal Me is a romantic comedy about a rich heir suffering from D.I.D aka Multiple Personality Disorder. Now you may have seen this scenario before, but here’s the catch: He’s got 7 personalities.  A psychiatrist takes him on as a patient and tries to find the root of his problem.  Kill Me, Heal Me is a well rounded drama that hits all the right feelings. Everything connects to each other in the end.  Not to mention, there was a plot twist that threw me off guard and I wanted to bang my head for not figuring it out because I misinterpreted all the signs.  Basically, it is an extremely well written show.

My Rating: (5/5)

Honorable Mentions: I Remember You, Ho Goo’s Love.

Japan -Ouroboros

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Ouroboros
is a dark revenge drama with an amazing cast.  The live action drama is about two men who are out for revenge against their childhood teacher’s murderer.  The duo work on opposite sides of the law in order to achieve their goal as they pretend not to know one another. Since this is a crime drama, it is more serious, particularly because it deals with the underworld and hidden conspiracies. It had me hooked.

My Rating: (4/5)

Honorable Mentions:   From 5 to 9 (If you’re looking for something light and entertaining, check this out).

China – Lady & Liar

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A period drama based in 1930’s Shanghai. You’ve probably heard of the synopsis a dozen times.  A missing child gets adopted by some poor man and later finds out she’s actually an heiress.  On her way to reunite with her family, she loses her memories. Then the people around her take advantage of her amnesia.  In this case it’s a mafia boss who’s desperately in love with her (but she wont give him the time of day) and an adoptive evil sister who decides its the perfect time to become rich by stealing her identity. Yep, sounds like a typical crazy drama plot.  What I really loved about this drama was the set, costumes, cinematography, and production. Lady & Liar, while it covers mafia life, is not as dark as you would expect it to be. Sure, the evil characters are evil and do extremely evil things, but I was less traumatized by it. Anyways, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Did I mention it has a fantastic cast?

My Rating: (4/5)

Honorable Mentions: My Sunshine, Cruel Romance

Taiwan – Youth Power

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Considering I didn’t see much hype about it online, Youth Power is a very underrated drama.  People who have seen and rated it have given high reviews and I am in absolute agreement.  The drama is a refreshing take on the world of politics. The main character, Chen Yi Jun, is thrown into an election campaign.  Despite growing up in politics and her father being a powerful politician, she has no interest in it.  When she is forced to run for election due to her ailing father, her thoughts begin to change.  What I really loved about this drama was that it showed the good side of politics as well as the bad.  A huge portion of this drama focused on the dirty, corrupt side of politics, which I found really interesting. Definitely worth checking out.

My Rating: (4.5/5)

Hong Kong – Limelight Years

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Limelight Years is a light hearted drama about the lives of those surrounding a celebrity. Wah Fong Ying was a legendary singer back in the day and plans to throw a reunion concert in order to reconnect with her estranged family. Alongside the singer are Jinny, her newest assistant, and Sean, the ghostwriter in charge of writing her biography. Then there’s the Ben, the old photographer who seems to rub off on her and change her attitude about life.  These characters seem to be connected in more ways than one, and it may not exactly be in a good way. This drama was amusing as it was heartwarming. I enjoyed learning more about the characters and their backstories. I grew attached to them and the whole drama made me smile with glee.  As for the love story, it was between Jinny and Sean, and I wanted to strangle Sean sometimes.  Nonetheless, it was entertaining.

My Rating: (4/5)

Thailand – I Wanna Be Sup’tar (Wannueng Jaa Pben Superstar)

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A fun drama about a girl struggling to become famous. When Wan’s family emigrates to England, she stays behind to pursue her dreams as an actress.  With no place to live, she’s been camping out at her old house – that’s already been sold.  Win, a former superstar, ends up buying her house and moves in. He’s returned to Thailand after 5 years and is trying to lay low due to a former scandal he was in. Win allows her to stay in his house in exchange for keeping his secret and ends up helping her with her acting along the way. The housing situation kind of reminded me of the famous Korean drama Full House, yet the drama is pretty different.  This drama is definitely fun, hilarious, and entertaining.  I loved the cast and loved the fact that it didn’t drag much.  It is 26 episodes long, but is well paced and worth watching.

My Rating: (5/5)

Honorable Mentions: Kiss Me (Thai), Ugly Ducking The Series: Perfect Match

Philippines – On The Wings of Love

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An interesting drama that follows the life of Leah, who dreams of coming to America. Due to circumstances, she ends up in a fake marriage with Clark. She needs a green card so she can legally work in the country.  As with any typical forced marriage plot, the couple slowly falls in love.  The drama shows the struggles of what it’s like to live as an immigrant abroad and send money back home to your country.  Mainly what I loved is how accurate this drama is about the struggles of those who come from abroad to work.  It has a very accurate representation of immigrant life.

My Rating: (4/5)

India – A Man’s World

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What happens when a male dominant society switches to a female dominant one? This mini series takes a look at what it’s like to live in a sexist society and why it’s necessary to fight for equality. Kiran is a sexist person living in a man’s world.  He doesn’t understand why women have special laws protecting their rights.  He finds them unnecessary and believes women seem to have a more preferential treatment than men. He wishes for things to be switched around, but he soon finds out that he should have been careful for what he wished for.  A Man’s World is a great feminist mini series about fighting for gender equality and respecting both genders.  Its avante-garde social commentary on Indian society was super refreshing. It’s definitely worth watching, especially since it’s only 4 episodes long.

Watch here

My Rating: (4.5/5)

So there you have it. These are my favorite Asian dramas that aired in 2015. Like I said before, it was really difficult picking just one per country. I know there are a ton of countries not on this list, but I only included countries that I’ve watched from. What were your favorites? Leave them in the comments below.

Zanjeer

•October 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been wanting to watch Zanjeer for a while now because of all the cute gifs I was seeing on tumblr.  I finally found a DVD quality upload with English subs, so I decided to check it out. This movie gave me a lot of nostalgia for those old school Bollywood action films. Zanjeer is a remake of the film of the same name, which released in 1973.  Zanjeer (2013) stars Priyanka Chopra and, for the first time in Bollywood cinema, Ram Charan.  It’s an action film that sheds light on the Oil Mafia prevalent in India.  This film was released in two languages: Hindi and Telegu.

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Ram Charan plays ACP Vijay Khanna, a cop who’s good at his job, but constantly getting in trouble for not doing things by the book.  After being transferred around numerous times for using rough tactics on criminals, his latest transfer is to Mumbai.   Priyanka Chopra plays Mala, a second generation Indian American.  She comes to India for the first time for her friend’s wedding.  On the way back from the wedding, she witnesses a murder.  A man is lit on fire and killed by members of the Oil Mafia.  Vijay convinces Mala to testify and identify the culprit.  Her cooperation results in the mafia coming after her. Vijay then let’s Mala stay at his place for protection.  Vijay must catch the big boss behind it all and take down his organization.

Zanjeer wasn’t that much of a hit and I can see why.  It doesn’t have much going for it besides it’s cast and the fact that it’s a remake.  Actually, I think the fact that it’s a remake actually hurt the film because people kept comparing it to the original.  I, on the other hand, have not seen the original, so it was a lot more entertaining for me.  Like I said before, it kind of reminded me of a 90s film.  I think it actually takes place in the 90s, so I like how they incorporated that aspect in with the cinematography.  It’s got your corny fighting scenes that were prevalent in 90s action films: The slow motion, over exaggerated, and unrealistic fighting scenes.  It sounds absurd, but hey, it’s all in good fun.  The songs are okay, nothing special.  I only liked Yeh Lamha Tera Mera.

The plot is actually interesting and informative.  I had no clue that Oil Mafia exist in India.  There is very little of the romantic plot. Vijay and Mala just kind of fall in love, but they don’t show much of that development.  The two make a cute couple though.  I’m not really disappointed that we don’t see much of their love story, since the focus of this movie is on the crime part of it.  The whole plot is about taking down the criminal mafia boss and his organization.  There are some pretty great scenes you get to see because of it.  On a side note, the first scene of this movie is shot in Hyderabad, India.  The Hyderabadi part of me was super excited to see that.

Zanjeer is a pretty good movie.  It’s perfect for one of those days where you’re bored and don’t know what to watch.  Check it out if you have the time.

My Rating: (3/5)

Master’s Sun is a…wait for it…Masterpiece

•October 6, 2013 • 1 Comment

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  • Title: Master’s Sun / The Sun of My Master / 주군의 태양
  • Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Romance, Comedy
  • Episodes: 17
  • Broadcast network: SBS

Master’s Sun finally came to an end last week and it is most definitely one of the best shows I’ve watched all year.  It’s probably my favorite kdrama this year (so far).  The Hong sisters have done it again (written yet another hit) and this time they nailed it.  Usually their dramas start off really great, but then go downhill about 3/4 way in when it’s time to get serious.  However, this time the drama was consistently great throughout the series.  It kind of reminded me of the American show Ghost Whisperer, except as a romantic comedy.

Master’s Sun is about a girl, Tae Gong Shil (Gong Hyo Jin), who has the ability to see ghosts after getting into an accident.  She’s absolutely petrified at the sight of them and is unable to live a normal life because of her sixth sense.  The ghosts always approach and pester her asking her to do favors for them.  Gong Shil lives in hiding at a dorm house and is practically a loser.  One day, after doing a favor for a ghost, she comes across Joo Joong Won (So Ji Sub).  He’s an extremely rich guy who’s the owner of Kingdom shopping mall.  Upon accidentally touching him, she realizes the ghosts disappear.  There’s something about touching Joong Won that causes the ghosts to go away.  The race is on to get closer to her ‘bomb shelter’ as she calls him.  She practically stalks him, getting a job at his mall, just to get closer to him.  He’s your typical rich guy, with many issues, but has no interest in girls.  Eventually, Gong Shil does get close to him and even gets him to come along to her adventures (helping ghosts).  Gong Shil must help Joong Won face the trauma of his past and even deal with her own demons.

Like I said before, I absolutely loved this drama.  It was so hilarious and packed with so many cute moments.  It even has a bit of a horror element (those ghosts are seriously creepy looking).  It’s just one of those shows that keeps you guessing throughout.  Your mind is always on alert.  Another thing I loved about this drama is that it hardly had any cliffhangers.  Only one episode (episode 12) has a major cliffhanger. Other than that, each episode has a nice ending that doesn’t drive you insane. I even loved the ending.  So should you watch this series? YES! It’s an absolute must watch.

My Rating: (5/5)

You can watch this series subbed over at Viki or Dramafever.

Shark

•August 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Yet another Revenge drama, but this one is actually pretty good.  It’s packed with symbolism and metaphors that had me trying to analyze the smallest details.  And don’t get me started on the plot twists!  They caught me off guard so much.  Overall it was extremely well written and enjoyable.

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  • Title: Shark / Don’t Look Back : The Legend of Orpheus / 상어
  • Genre: Thriller, Melodrama, Romance, Mystery
  • Episodes: 20
  • Broadcast network: KBS2

The plot is pretty complicated, but basically the story is about Han Yi Soo who comes back to Korea after 12 years in order to get revenge against the wrongs done to him and others in the past by one wealthy, yet evil man.  In doing so, he must use Jo Hae Woo (his best friend and the girl he loves) in the process.  Basically, Han Yi Soo witnessed his father’s murder and in order to clear his father from false accusations and to discover the truth about his father’s murder, he uncovers an even greater secret.  It’s a secret that makes him lose trust in everyone around him.  This secret nearly costs him his life as someone tries to assassinate him in a hit and run incident.  Although his body is missing from the crime scene, due to the amount of blood found at the scene, Yi Soo is assumed to be dead and his body taken by the criminal. Unbeknownst to everyone else, Han Yi Soo is actually alive.  He was saved by the chairman of Giant Hotel (Yoshimura), who has his own interest in Yi Soo’s survival.  Yi Soo changes his face and his identity.  He grows up hiding out in Japan and carefully planning his revenge.  He returns to Korea 12 years later in order to carry out his plans: to reveal the truth and correct the many wrongs committed by others.

Yes, the plot did drag a bit toward the end, which was kind of annoying.  I was kind of disappointed with the ending, but I can see how it makes sense.  It has to do with the whole symbolism and metaphor aspect of the story line.   It’s still worth watching though, so I recommend you check it out.

My Rating: (4/5)

Prepare for war with Cruel City

•August 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment

To start with, Cruel City was probably the most popular kdrama out there this summer (based on the internet hype).  It can be targeted toward both male and female audiences alike. I haven’t seen an action packed drama this good since Iris and City Hunter (and maybe even King2Hearts).

Heartless City

  • Title: Heartless City / Cruel City / 무정도시
  • Also known as: Cruel City
  • Genre: Thriller, Romance, Action, Crime
  • Episodes: 20
  • Broadcast network: JTBC

The story is about Han Soo Min who goes undercover to find out the truth about the death of her sister (Gyeong Mi).  Gyeong Mi was a cop working an undercover mission that went wrong, resulting in her death.  The criminal who supposedly shot her is known as the Doctor’s Son and ranks pretty high up in a drug cartel.  Soo Min must join the cartel in order to pick up where Gyeong Mi left off and catch the Doctor’s Son.  But as her investigation leads on, it appears that the Doctor’s Son is not all that he appears to be.  He knows a lot more about Gyeong Mi’s past  than he lets on.  Soo Min finds herself falling in love with a man with whom she should not.

The hype for Cruel City was for good reason because it really was flawless on numerous factors.  The casting was great and the acting was superb.  Not to mention, It’s got really hot guys acting as gangsters.  The plot was so well written that it kept fans on the edge of their seats almost every single episode.  The plot twists catch you off guard.  The soundtrack is epic and matched the scenes in the drama perfectly.  The action packed fighting scenes were entertaining to watch.  For a drama that’s supposed to be really dark, it’s got its cute and funny moments in it too. Overall, I’d say it’s really well balanced.

On a side note, it was really amusing to watch so many ‘bad ass’ gangsters wear eyeliner.  In fact, I think most of the guys on this show were wearing eyeliner.

Note: If you’re not into fighting and bloodshed, this drama is not for you (but I think you should make an exception for this one). Considering this drama is about gangsters, drugs, crime, and the underworld, it has a considerable amount of bloodshed.

My Rating: (5/5)

You can watch this drama over at DramaFever.

Sharpen Your Nails with Nail Shop Paris

•July 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment

If you’re looking for a break from the intensity of most drama plot lines, Nail Shop Paris would be the drama for you.  It’s a lighthearted drama that has a little bit of everything: comedy, mystery, suspense, supernatural creatures, super cute moments, and most importantly for a drama…romance.  I don’t know how else to describe it other than to say it’s refreshingly different.  Starting from it’s cast to it’s overall plot line, you just get a different vibe from this drama than most others. And while, yes, it will have its stereotypical and cliche drama moments, it still manages to stay unique in its own way.

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  • Title: Nail Shop Paris / Nail Salon Paris / 네일샵 파리스
  • Genre: Romance, Comedy
  • Episodes: 10
  • Broadcast network: MBC QueeN

Nail Shop Paris depicts the journey of Hong Yeo Joo, a famous online fiction writer, who goes undercover to find inspiration for her next story. One day she comes across Alex, who gives off a very cool and mysterious vibe. She decides to write her next story around him.  While following Alex, she discovers that he works at a nail salon (Nail Shop Paris) that only hires males.  Having even more determination to make her story unique by writing about a male manicurist, she decides to disguise herself as a guy (nicknamed ‘Bunny’) to learn more about him.  The drama follows the events that occur and the customers she meets during her time working at Nail Shop Paris.

As I said before, in addition to having many cute moments, the drama has many supernatural elements as well.  Basically, Yeo Joo is a writer known for writing fictional stories about Gumihos (supernatural creatures from Korean folklore). The drama will take you into her past memories and through her current work of fiction in order to include bits of fantasy.  Clearly, you will see that Gumihos and Nail Art are the main themes of the drama.  What’s great about Nail Shop Paris is that it is entertaining without it being too intense. I could pull myself away from it without being  heavily invested in it week by week (I’m already watching my full share of way too intense dramas).

Anyways, this is one of those dramas I do recommend checking out if you have the time or if you’re looking for a break from your usual stuff.  It’s only a whopping 10 episodes.  I know from reading the summary it doesn’t seem all that interesting, but it’s got its perks.  When I first came across this drama and read the synopsis, I thought ‘Great, yet another drama where a girl disguises herself as a boy, finds herself in ridiculous/amusing situations because of it, and somehow manages to end up in a love triangle.’  But because gender benders tend to be a hit, I decided to give this series a try.  I’m certainly glad I did and I was equally glad when I discovered the cast members one by one.  This series is just full of surprises.

My Rating: (3/5)

People in the Americas can watch this subbed at DramaFever.

Spring Love

•July 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Spring has come to an end, and with it so did many dramas. Spring Love in particular recently finished being subbed. I hate to say this, but the drama was probably one of the worst dramas I’ve ever watched.  The acting was terrible, even for a TWdrama standard. I honestly don’t know how I managed to power through it. I’m fairly certain that most people watched this for Mike He. While I mainly watched this series because I am a sucker for twin dramas, even I am guilty of  watching this series because of Mike He.

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  • Title: Spring Love / Mei Ren Long Tang / 美人龍湯 /
  • Genre: Romance
  • Episodes: 14
  • Broadcast network: FTV
  • Opening theme song: Hao Xiang Bian Ping Guo (好想變蘋果) by Popu Lady
  • Ending theme song: Bei Wang Lu (被忘錄) by Aaron Yan

Spring Love centers around a Ryuta, a half Japanese half Taiwanese guy, who goes to Taiwan in search of his father and brother after his mother’s death.  While there, he is asked by his father to remain in Taiwan and pretend to be his twin brother, Tian He, while Tian He is getting surgery in Japan.  Ryuta decides to stay and help out his father Long’s hot spring business and learn more about his family.  There he meets Ren Mei, who comes from a rival family.  She comes to the Long’s hot spring to work for a year due to her family losing a bet with the Long family.  Ryuta slowly helps Ren Mei gain the confidence and courage she needs to stand up to her family and follow her dreams.

One thing I hated about this drama was that they had to make Ren Mei really dumb.  To make matters worse, they had to make her fat (although it was completely obvious the actress was wearing a body suit) as if to associate being fat with being ugly and stupid.  In normal situations I wouldn’t mind the main lead having some extra pounds on her, but to make her dumb because of it is a whole different story.  Ren Mei only seems to lose her naivety when she loses weight later on in the series. How incredibly lame.  Well, it could be that Ren Mei had some sense knocked into her because of Ryuta, but either way Ren Mei’s character was incredibly annoying throughout the series.

Mike He…where to start.  I am incredibly disappointing in him in this series.  He did a pretty bad acting job (fangirls don’t kill me).  Granted he was playing two roles (Ryuta and Tian He), but both roles had completely different personalities.  Even though Ryuta may have been pretending to be Tian He, when he was by himself, it still got a bit confusing.  I know that Mike He can do a better acting job when compared to his other roles.  I just don’t think he was that serious in this drama.

Spring Love is one of those dramas that I’d recommend skipping, unless you are an extreme Mike He fan, then by all means watch it.  It wasn’t even all that funny and neither was it well written.  The cinematography was was pretty bad as well, although I must admit the soundtrack is pretty catchy. This drama doesn’t really have much going for it except Mike He unfortunately.

My Rating: (2/5)

You can watch this series subbed over at Viki.