TV Shows

Vagabond (2019 TV Series)

Vagabond is a South Korean spy, crime, thriller, romance and action tv series starring Lee Seung-gi, Bae Suzy, with Shin Sung-rok and many others. The initial premise is when an airplane bound for Morocco goes down in mysterious circumstances, stuntman Cha Dal-gun (played by Lee Seung-gi) fights to unravel the truth surrounding the plane crash. He is forced to partner with a covert agent from the National Intelligence Service (NIS), Go Hae-ri (played by Bae Suzy), and together they struggle against forces beyond their reckoning – corruption to the highest level.

Mild Spoilers to follow

What I really enjoyed was that the show goes full circle in its execution. It starts off with a scene in the desert, and then jumps to the story at hand. As you watch the entirety of it, you keep wondering the significance of that desert scene. And near the end of the final episode, that scene plays again and you realize the entire story was a showcase as to how the main character ended up there. The other strong points were the twists that occurred, and how it managed to build up its villains. The person who you think is the main bad guy is actually merely a pawn in the grand scheme of things, then when it moves up to the next level at play, even those individuals are merely pawns of something larger.

Every episode was nail-bitingly good, and kept you at the edge of your seat because you so strongly root for Cha Dal-gun and you want him to succeed. So each time he gets set back, you feel a little bit of angst because there’s a very real possibility he might not get what he desires. The bad guys are very good at what they do, at corrupting people or setting them up to be used as unwitting or witting pawns. It was like watching a game of chess with an amateur against a grandmaster but the grandmaster loses because the amateur acts in way you don’t expect him to because it’s dumb. And it’s that dumb move which gets him the victory yet the grandmaster knew it and saw it coming, but didn’t react because they didn’t expect their opponent to have the gall to do it. The grandmaster is not without fault either, they made a small and but critical error that allowed their opponent to seize victory – they underestimated them.

The chemistry between the leads is entertaining and you root for them to have a future together. You smile at their antics and your heart grows fondly at them getting closer. Everyone did a great job, and I didn’t feel that any actor or actress was a weak link. They were all believable and at times ruthless in their character’s manners or appearance. You truly disliked the villains and that is the best kind of acting. You don’t see the person underneath, only the character they are portraying.

The faults I had with it were that the gun fights were underwhelming and lacking. Often times, they were quite unbelievable because with the sheer amount of firepower offered, the good guys should all be dead. Too much missing a shot, or cars that can withstand hundreds of bullets and still be fully drivable without any problems. A lot of scenes of guns fired indoors and nobody batting an eye at the sound. What was good to see was a proper sniper sequence with them sighting the shot/adjusting it before firing and actually not aiming directly at the target but slightly off to the side. The hand to hand combat was excellent and never did I feel that the characters were superhuman when they fought. They took appropriate damage and acted as one should following an injury. The driving was very well done and never had a case of “how did that lower powered car somehow catch up?”

Overall, I thoroughly loved the show. I enjoyed the story and its depiction of real events regarding corruption and power, on how the world operates. I loved the chemistry between the leads and I’d recommend watching the show even despite the open ending. Perhaps Netflix will be kind enough to allow a second season despite it not yet being confirmed as renewed.

Movies

Freaks: You’re One Of Us

Written by Marc O. Seng of the TV show Dark, comes a German movie about individuals with powers. These individuals are suppressed by the government via a psychiatrist prescribing little blue pills. These pills turn the individuals into meek and dull zombies of themselves. When a chance meeting with a homeless man occurs with our main character, a woman in her thirties with a husband and young son, she is thrust into a world of possibilities. At the man’s behest and insinuation of super powers, she decides to stop taking the pills. And as it turns out, she learns the truth, she does have powers.

Similarly, one of her co-workers, a young man with seemingly autism or of being on the spectrum, is also taking the same pills. He’s motherless and his father is shacking up with another woman who he mockingly calls “mom”. His fate is intertwined with our main character, and of that of the homeless man. Together they go on a journey of self discovery and uncover a far reaching conspiracy.

As the viewer, we are meant to sympathize with the main character due to her job as a waitress with a mean boss lady that doesn’t treat her well. Her customers don’t give her any respect either, and her husband can be said to be a bit of a boor. She comes off as lacking intellect, and the case could be made that she’s bipolar. In fact, the entire movie, if you take out the powers aspect, could be said as a metaphor for bipolar/schizophrenia. The movie even has a line saying that the pills suppress their true selves, who they really are.

The change in both the young man and our main character is almost immediate. They go from being dull and meek, to being manic and aggressive. Yet she follows the path of a typical hero while he follows the path of a misunderstood villain. His mom wasn’t there to raise him properly while his dad constantly berates him for who he is. So when he gets powers and realizes his own self worth, it doesn’t take a blind man to see the path he’d take.

The movie doesn’t offer anything new on the superhero genre, nor does it reinvent anything. The message it sends is dangerous to those that are bipolar and/or schizophrenic because having known such individuals, the medication they take is necessary for a normal life. To stop their medication would be catastrophic.

The only good that comes from this movie is the soundtrack. The electronic music and classics such as Listen to your heart provide a nice reprieve from what’s shown on screen. The special effects are often done off screen and then we get to bear witness to the results. There are a few instances where CGI is seen, and for a low budget movie, it’s pretty decent.

Overall, I don’t recommend this movie. It goes to show that as a writer, one can write a masterpiece only to turn around and write utter schlock. This movie should be avoided. Don’t give Netflix the data that lets them think these kinds of movies are okay to be made.

Movies

The Lost Husband

I don’t know what to really make of this movie. I know I didn’t enjoy the main character, Libby Moran, at all, she’s annoyingly irritating as some “terrible people” say about her later on in the film. And that’s not her fault, it’s just the way she goes about things. Could be the fact her mom is a real piece of work, but props go to Leslie Bibb for acting that way. I felt like her character was real, and despite my irritation towards her, it was an interesting view at a widow starting her life anew. I wouldn’t call this movie a romance, though there certainly is. It felt more like a drama than anything because the love interest aspect disappeared towards the end, and we had to deal with our main character’s trauma as a child regarding her mother and aunt.

The scenery is lovely, the farm provides great views and helps culture that homely feel. It was refreshing to watch a movie with essentially no antagonist, with the only struggle being Libby herself overcoming obstacles. Josh Duhamel as her love interest was the best part of the movie for me, his character was much more interesting and unfortunately they didn’t really spend a whole lot of time on him. Mostly glanced over the basics with him, and had his character do a lot of telling and not so much showing. The aunt, played by Nora Dunn, was kind and empathetic and reminded me of my own grandma and her farm.

The supporting cast did well enough, Libby’s two kids, Abby and Tank were acted well enough. Not much to work with really, just being kids. Abby had some nice personal growth regarding a bully. Again, I don’t really know how I feel about this movie. It just was.

For once, I’m stumped. I wouldn’t recommend it but I wouldn’t not recommend it. Basically give it a go if you enjoy farm movies with a splash of romance. Otherwise, there’s better ways to spend your time.