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

Parasite (2019) Review

Do we dream of the best to happen to us, or do we just stand there in our wallow and with the inability to act? Is life a series of things that happen to you regardless of your own plan, or do you act with your own design instead? Does karma truly exist and are you fated to fall for any misdeeds, or be gifted with good fortune for kind acts?

Between the lines of the story of Parasite, one can tell that there are more deeper thoughts and messages at play beyond the surface level. The movie is like an onion, it has got layers. Yes, I went there. The point is, it is absolutely hilarious at times at the sheer absurdity of the situations at hand, while simultaneously being deeply disturbing in their nature. This horror itself is layered. It’s horrific in a multitude of ways but none of which are startling. It builds up a slow horror as you, the viewer, finally realize the plot at the hour mark. That same horror creeps and changes into a smile as you realize what’s to come. Will this madman actually take the story that way? Is what you’d think, and you start to laugh. It truly excels as being dark comedy. I miss this genre and I greatly enjoyed Parasite, and its addition to it.

The layers also take into account the framing of each scene. The camera work and the music combine to paint sombre portraits while managing to invoke a sense of hope and everything’s gonna be alright feeling. Everything adapts perfectly to the story and enhances it even further. There is also hidden imagery and symbolism to be found. It is a work of art. One of the better movies I’ve seen this year. It deserves all the awards it can get. Especially its actors. I loved the lead role. I’ve enjoyed his presence and acting since The Host.

I watched Parasite with a friend and he also had decreed that while a very enjoyable movie, it’s certainly got a degree of confusion and unexpectedness and that there’s probably more layers to it than either of us could find. I recommend seeing it for the sheer absurdity and original content. Really refreshing to see.