Doctor Stranger (2014 Korean Series)

Korean Title: 닥터 이방인

Doctor Stranger is an impressive drama by many counts. The plot and story is so good that you would brush aside production anomalies, like why is he holding onto her injured arm (at the bridge, she had a gunshot wound to the right shoulder).

It’s tagged as a thriller, and it lives up to the classification. This is a good thing. The situation lends itself to this because their lives are constantly being threatened.

Everything about the story was good… except the ending. The final episode, I was filled with expectations of how it might end. Was she a spy all along (starting from the night he was supposed to meet her father)? What was their mission? Why did the President make that decision? Could the whole story be tied together such that it goes back to the beginning? There is so much potential in the story to be so.

Pinocchio (2014 Korean Series)

Korean Title: 피노키오

This is a very well-written drama.

There is a disclaimer for this show. The “Pinocchio” syndrome in the show is fictitious, and not a real syndrome or condition. This disclaimer is stated in text at the beginning of each episode.

When I first saw the disclaimer, I was a little put off by it, because it gives the impression that this story is like a fairy tale. It’s already fiction, and this impression further reduces the realism of the story. This doesn’t lend seriousness to the production.

It also gives off the vibe that there isn’t enough “story” to go round that they needed to borrow some story from the fictitious syndrome.

However my initial impressions due to the disclaimer was shattered as the show plunged immediately into the gravity of the story — in all seriousness. It was that good. The writer managed to integrate the “Pinocchio” syndrome into a story carrying serious tones.

In addition, the writer managed to use the syndrome without abusing it.

The only other qualm about this show is the romance plot. As you know, the promotional poster clearly showed romance in the story, but it felt like the romance was squeezed in to fill time. It wasn’t done properly. That, I felt was a pity for this production.

Monster (2016 Korean Series)

Monster (2016) is a good story. But it is not well written.

The main characters are well-constructed, but a notable character was extremely disappointing. In the show, he was supposed to be a very high profile “boss,” but turned out to be too stupid to be in that position, putting Kang Gi Tan through extreme torture, which was torturous to watch. Skip forward (to the next episode).

A gunshot wound to the head of the male protagonist… make a guess if he will survive it. Hmmm.

EDIT @ Ep 31:

The story never fail to disappoint. It will bring you up to a boil with tension and anticipation… like a kindled campfire, burning… burning… then something happens, and sand and water is poured over that fire. A complete wet blanket. A super downer. Every time something exciting seems to happen or is going to happen, all that tension and anticipation gets wiped out, soon enough. It’s frustrating, and this is an undesirable emotion because it’s not something we feel for the characters in the story, but directed at the repeated pattern of the show. It has become tiring to watch on.

Goodbye Mr Black (2016 Korean Series) Part 2

In the last post, which I watched up till ep5, and was ranting about how bad it was, what an epic failure it was.

Fortunately, the production started getting better around ep6-7, but lapsed for 1-2 episodes before starting becoming solid around ep 10-11. After that it was swell. I’m so glad it was swell.

It still can’t be classified as a “thriller” though. There is a story to tell, some parts are quite cliche, some parts attempt to thrill (but doesn’t pull it off). It’s a story where the bad guys shine.

It’s VERY hard to get through the initial episodes before the story started getting solid, and that’s the biggest gripe for this production. If only they tidied up those episodes in the first half, which makes up quite a large chunk of the story.

Lee Jin Wook (이진욱) was a-ok toward the end, I understand he was trying to mimick the expressions in the comic book, but it was unnatural. Moon Chae Won (문채원) portrayed her character very well, given the comic (referring to “manhwa”, not “comedy”) nature of the production.

I felt that the ending (final 5-10 minutes) could have been better, to leave a greater impression on the audience… and hopefully help them forget how bad the beginning episodes were.

Goodbye Mr Black (2016 Korean Series)

This one is an epic failure. Given that it’s an adaptation, I was honestly expecting a lot more. But this production fails on many levels. And it could be SOOOOO much better.

The production is an adaption of a comic (manhwa), which is an adaption of a novel (published 1983) written by Hwang Mi Na. I have not read the novel, neither have I seen the comic. However, scriptwriters tend to pick out the better ones (i.e. clearly popular ones) to adapt into a script.

BUT. There were so many mistakes, glaring mistakes. If only they had a script doctor… I’m reeling in shock how they could allow this to go into broadcast. Ugh.

I’m up to ep 5 at this time of writing. The mistakes:

  1. Teaser act at the beginning of ep 1
  2. Unnecessary scenes aplenty
  3. Necessary scenes missing
  4. Because of #2 and #3 above, the story jumps from here to there, in bits and pieces, borderline comprehensible.
  5. There is no sense of time, even though things moved chronologically
  6. You call this as thriller?! (it is classified under genre “Thriller”)
  7. Nothing thrilling, nor captivating.
  8. Lee Jin Wook (이진욱) seems to have lost his touch here. He was a hell lot better in Nine: Nine Times Travel

I wonder how the original story flows, given that it was once popular in the 1980s. In any case, based on the story I’ve watched so far, there is definitely a story to tell, but this production doesn’t do the story justice. And I say that with a big sigh.

The Five (2013 Korean Movie)

Just done watching The Five (더 파이브)

In a word… Wow!

This is a very gripping and heart wrenching story, that keeps you at the edge of your seat. I found myself wringing my fingers midway during the show. It’s a thriller, no less, with a very dark theme. But very good. So. Good.

In fact, I was so amped up after watching it to write about it. So here it is. Actually, there it was (I wrote a post that accidentally got erased, so this is a rewrite).

Kim Sun A (김선아) plays Eun-ah, the female protagonist. And she delivers an excellent performance that seals the fate of The Five as a successful hit. She was the reason why I would watch a Korean movie that isn’t comedy, go through pains to find it in good quality together with the corresponding English subtitles, and sync them just to catch it in one good sitting.

The story is intricately woven, the plot is tight knit. The cinematography is well done and the show is well directed. Because of the dark theme, very very dark, it’s unlikely that I’d watch it again. But I highly recommend it. Highly. Who knew the story they’d tell in 2 hours could be this good?

It remains to be a show that you’ll catch, even if only once, for the stellar performance and the thrilling plot. The best part? It’ll leave you thinking about your life.

TVB Captain of Destiny 張保仔 – Part 3

Hong Kong Drama — TVB Captain of Destiny 張保仔

This review contains spoilers.

This part has been a long time coming. I honestly wasn’t keen on writing this post, but still did anyway. It’s been a week after the final episode aired.

After the last post on Captain of Destiny 張保仔 show, for the episodes that followed, I had expected to them to get increasingly exciting. Well, I was wrong. The general plot was OK (it’s not praise). The lines (对白) became a bunch of bull, and worse, delivered poorly. I don’t know whether it’s the lines that made the rest of the drama insufferable or the way the actors, specifically Grace and Tony, chose to deliver them.

The worst part had to be when Grace Chan’s character refused to give Ruco Chan’s character the benefit of doubt, and proceeded to smear the 11th Prince at the prison cell holding 張保仔 and his friends. Even if she was certain that she was right, she need not speak with such certainty that it was the 11th Prince that caused their downfall and smear him immediately after he asked her to give him the benefit of doubt. Incongruency in the character — that spoilt the show.

The drama was definitely saved by Ruco Chan, the only one who was acting of the 3 leads, and the theme of travelling through time. As supporting cast, Joel Chan and Mandy Wong did their part. But Grace and Tony… I wished I had nicer things to say. Even Raymond Wong who appeared in the final minutes of the last episode “spoke” a lot more (with his body language) than all the screen time the other 2 leads had.

More on time travel… The final two episodes were entertaining (in terms of storyline), and they steered the show back on track again, if you’d cut more slack on Grace and Tony.

In the end, I wouldn’t recommend the show. It’s a sad state for an anniversary drama. The beginning was promising, the ending was entertaining, the middle was… a sad state.

TVB Captain of Destiny 張保仔 – Part 2

Hong Kong Drama — Captain of Destiny 張保仔

At this point of writing, the drama stands at 21 episodes out of the 32 episodes.

This review contains some spoilers.

Ok, the series warrants an update, because some of the things said before needs to 收返 (be retracted), and some to 补充 (be substantiated).

At this point, the series starts to get exciting, despite a dip in expectations the storyline around episode 15/16, which I had expected to be glued to my seat.

Tony Hung’s (as 張保仔) performance started waning in Episode 18 and 19. He totally cannot give off the “utterly broken” look. Those scenes were a huge disappointment. What a waste of the CGI…

Grace Chan’s (as 黄娣妹) performance lacked luster in Episode 18 and 19 as well. Her use of intonation / emphasis in her lines delved into a pattern, it was like she was just reading her lines for the sake of them and she was not into her role at all. I also don’t know what to make out of the scene where she set sail from 保仔’s ship to blast the cannon stationed at the cliff. What was her character trying to bring out? I have no idea. She was just reading her lines. And that was one of those scenes that’s pivotal to the storyline, meant for her to shine.

I might be wrong but they might have either started filming the series starting with scenes from these two episodes first, or they might have conducted the filming for these two episodes after a very long day.

Another mention, I do not know if this was deliberate or otherwise, but Susan Tse’s (as 淳貴妃, the concubine who was once loved by the emperor but now is neglected. Also the mother of Ruco Chan’s character, 十一貝勒) performance in episode 20 seemed to be less than her usual performance. I’m referring specifically to the scene where the senior eunuch 禮公公 advised her to change her expectations of her son 十一貝勒 (played by Ruco Chan). If she had meant to play it as the audience is expected to interpret, then I did not feel that she did a good job there. It was definitely less than her usual performance. However, if her character had a hidden intention* then I will be changing my views on this. At this point in the series, her intentions still stand as a kind concubine who wants to protect her children, especially her elder son 十一貝勒.

* Just like Mandy Wong’s character 朱淑君 earlier in the series, when she wanted to con Grace Chan’s character 黄娣妹, she put on a “fake front” by acting to be acting. At that time, I was thinking, Mandy’s acting seems weird! Less than her usual performance! But soon, the next episode reveals that she was pretending to be “weak and victimised” to gain support from Grace Chan (黄娣妹). So her performance got her high marks!! I rewatched the scenes by Mandy Wong and I think she delivered it very well. How do you pretend to be acting? It’s convoluted! Not easy at all.

Ruco Chan scores high marks starting in episode 20. The series finally delves more into his character and gives him more opportunities to play a more complex role in more complex situations. I think he will be getting a lot more screen time in future episodes.

My gripes about the series? There are some holes in the storyline I hoped will be explained later, like…

  • Where does 黄娣妹 get money to buy back her gun from a street hawker? She’s so adamant about standing by her principles and denounce the wealth gained from pirate activities, so where did her money come from?
  • 張保仔 says that 嬌姐 treats 黄娣妹 to a meal (hotpot) and requests that 保仔 go grab seafood to 加菜 (add to the meal)… but 黄娣妹 doesn’t have anyone else to turn to, so it’s expected that she’s living and eating off 保仔’s “family”, then why would that be treating 黄娣妹 to a meal?

Enjoy the show!

Domain Name Certification: Scam or Real

This happened to me a few days ago and I want to quickly get this out so that others know about this and not fall for it.

Hello!

Our client is interested in purchasing [domain name]

He is a professional investor with 23 years of experience.

I located your contact information in a domain name whois lookup and understand that you own the domain name.

Are you still interested in selling?

I work for a hosting company based in UK.

I help our clients to buy and sell intellectual properties.

Do you have more names? Can you send a list?

Are you an experienced seller?

Best Regards,

Aaron Brown

Vice President

123 REG UK

And when you reply that the domain is available for sale, this is the next email.

The buyer is a well known Norwegian entrepreneur and businessman with interests in Internet, mobile phones, television, media, leisure and property.

He offers $12,000.

Do you have a certificate?

He needs this for accounting/tax purposes.

If you don’t have it’s not a problem. You can order it online.

As a professional, he cannot accept it from any agency. Only manual service is accepted.

The certificate must include the following:

1. Independent valuation of the market price. It will show your domain name is not overpriced. On the other hand if the valuation comes higher, he will increase the price accordingly. In the domain name industry, there are many appraisal tools that people use to estimate the value of a domain name. My client does not want to risk and doesn’t accept services that use scripts. If you are unsure about some service feel free to ask me.

2. Trademark infringement verification. It proves your domain has no trademark problems. He would like this verification to be included in the appraisal report. It’s not a problem because some companies include the TM verification for free.

I’m also interested in a good estimate of the market price because he pays me % on each sale.

You can read about certification agencies at http://archive.answers-google.org/answers/threadview/id/9126409.html (“Domain Broker” is my nickname).

The process is very easy:

1. Go to the certificate agency site and order a certificate. Just submit your domains and let them know you have a buyer with $XX,XXX offer. It will help you to get a better valuation.

2. Send it to me and we will start the sale process. As soon as he receives your certificate he will buy your domain via an escrow service. Any escrow service will be able to pay you via Paypal, Wire, Western Union or any other method you prefer.

He wants to ensure the safe delivery of the funds to you. Furthermore, since this is our first time conducting any business, I believe that using a third-party escrow service can provide a safe, well defined process.

If you are new to the certification process, I can help you with the step by step instructions.

I’ve done some research and conclude that this is a scam, and it’s not the first time they’ve done this.

Take note that the link provided in the email has the domain name answers-google.org and a quick whois reveals that it does not belong to google. It hides behind a Domain Proxy, and Google does not hide behind whois proxies. Take note that it is a .ORG, not a .COM

You most likely made some changes to this particular domain you received the offer for, like transferring between registrars, updating whois contact information.

Links related to this scam:

  • 123-reg-co-uk.info
  • answers-google.org
  • instantdomainsales.com
  • topdomainsales.net
  • name-tools.net

The devil is in the details. Do some detective work!

If that helped you, reply in the comments below, so you can help others too, like for instance, what action did you last perform on the particular domain (most likely a few days ago.)

 

Videostream Premium Review

So… I went premium.

I did not need it, I enjoyed the exercise walking to and from the TV to the computer. But for those really short videos (2-5 minutes), the playlist feature was a nice to have.

When Videostream gave an offer on their lifetime version, I took it and decided it ought to be for the better. And voila~ I exchanged my daily, multiple short walks for Videostream Premium.

Well, for starters, they must have quite a fun team working on Videostream. Their thank-you message after I made the purchase was quite funky. Not your usual thank you message. I don’t buy on Google Play a lot, so I can’t tell how much effort went into creating the thank you page.

Diving into the Premium version… I like the playlist feature!

The biggest plus, for me, is even after you close the app, it remembers your previous playlist. And other than serving as a playlist, where it has the usual repeat and shuffle buttons, it also helps by keeping a history of the videos I often watch. For instance, some children shows get played a lot, so I can just put them on the playlist and click on them like choosing from a menu, instead of having to load it over and over and over each time the app restarts.

You can remove individual videos from the playlist, re-order the videos or click the “clear all” button at the top to start afresh.

It’s good so far.

Gripes? I have two.

Videostream Add To Playlist Button
Videostream’s “Add To Playlist” Button covers the Video’s close button

First, the “add to playlist” button at the bottom right corner interferes with the close button of the video that’s at the bottom of the list. Sure I can work around it, like dragging the video to a higher position and then using the close button.

The team works pretty fast so I presume this interface issue is getting worked on as you read this.

Second. My electrical bills are going up! The TV did not get a lot of attention before… but now, it’s almost, always, perpetually turned on and have something playing on it! Nooooo……

Videostream only works with a Chromecast.