[SPOILER ALERT ~ Read at your own risk!]
My obsession in Asian movies and dramas began when I was in High School. I remember the days when I’d skip class (yes, I am a bad influence) just to finish my favorite JDrama or anime (and yes, I was once an Otaku). I used to watch a lot of anime, Japanese Dramas, and Korean Movies. Honestly, I have written cheesy fan fictions about Shinee, Code Geass, and Arashi among others on Asianfanfics.com and Wattpad.
But then people change. I’ve changed interests in that short period of time. One thing is for sure, though, I’ll never forget my roots. 😉
Recently, I was hooked to The Legend of the Blue Sea–the latest drama of my favorite Korean actress, Jun Ji Hyun. To say that I’ve never met a Korean actress who can be good in doing both romance and action films is an understatement. Because Ji-Hyun is beyond that. She’s starred in many movies and dramas under the Comedy, Romance, Fantasy, and Action genre.
I have to admit. I am very picky with the dramas and movies that I watch. But when it comes to my favorite actors, I won’t hesitate. I’d drop everything I’m doing at the moment just to watch the latest episode of their shows.
Now that Jun Ji-Hyun’s latest drama has ended, and I’ve yet to wait for another, I decided to write an appreciation post for her.
Here are seven of my most favorite roles she did in the past:
7. My Sassy Girl (2001)
Revised Romanization: Yeopgijeogin Geunyeo
Hangul: 엽기적인 그녀
Director: Kwak Jae-Young
Writer: Kim Ho-Sik (novel), Kwak Jae-Young
Gianna Jun as The Girl
Cha Tae-Hyun as Gyun Woo
Who would have thought that one ride in the subway could change a life forever? Definitely, not Gyun Woo. His chance encounter with a drunken girl in the train has changed his fate drastically. From there, their crazy relationship began, which is composed of daily dose of comic relief, sassiness, and all kinds of trouble.
You will probably hate me, but I’ll say this anyway. After watching more Gianna Jun films, I find My Sassy Girl not interesting anymore. I know, time passes, her acting prowess improves, and technology advances. You can’t blame me, though, because I’ve watched this during the time that there were better romantic comedy films in Korea already.
But then I have to commend them (the director and the writers) for creating such a bizarre character like The Girl. It is the pioneer to Korean films and dramas that revolve around the premise “sassy girl meets boy next door.”
Oh, and I’ve heard that there will be a Korean drama version of this movie coming to SBS this year–only it is set in the Joseon Dynasty era. 😉
6. Il Mare (2000)
Revised romanization: Siworae
Director: Lee Hyun-Seung
Writer: Kim Eun-Jung, Yeo Ji-Na
Gianna Jun as Kim Eun-Joo
Lee Jung-Jae as Hang Sung-Hyun
The story revolves around the occupants of the lake house called Il Mare (Italian), which means “the sea.” They are not just mere occupants, they are two individuals who fell in love with each other while in different time periods. Even so, they can communicate with each other through a magical mailbox that transports their love letters through time.
Later on, Hollywood created a remake of this film titled “The Lakehouse” in 2006, starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves.
Il Mare is not your typical time-travel romance. That’s one reason why I admire the screenwriter so much. How could anyone think of a “mailbox” as a time-travelling device? Sure, objects and symbols in films are a must but a mailbox is just so uncanny. Combine it with a lake house that was abandoned by the owner who died just to see its future tenant whom he fell in love with in the past. Mind-fucked? 😛
5. Blood: The Last Vampire (2009)
Korean: 블러드 더 라스트 뱀파이어
Director: Ronny Yu
Writer: Ronny Yu
Gianna Jun – Saya
Koyuki – Onigen
Based on the anime of the same name, Blood tells about the story of Saya, the last vampire who is set to bring demise to the mother of all monsters, Onigen. A 400-year old vampire, Saya disguised as a student at the US Air Force base in Japan where the monsters are said to be lurking.
The first thing I noticed was Ji-Hyun’s impressive English accent. And that fight scene during the opening billboard really caught me off-guard. She was menacing AF. My confusions as to why they hired a Korean actress in a film adaptation of a Japanese anime were suddenly justified. She could pass as a Japanese especially when she wore that sailor uniform. There are even certain angles where she looks like Yukie Nakama.
As for the film, the cinematography is kinda mediocre. The pacing was kinda fast and I’ve spotted a couple of plot holes. Or maybe that was intentionally as the movie was open-ended. Also, I haven’t watched the anime so I couldn’t compare them that much.
4. Windstruck (2004)
Revised Romanization: Nae yeojachingureul sogae habnida
Hangul: 내 여자친구를 소개합니다
Director: Kwak Jae-Young
Writer: Kwak Jae-Young
Gianna Jun – Yeo Kyung-Jin
Jang Hyuk – Ko Myung-Woo
This is a story about a policewoman who fell in love with a guy whom she has mistaken as a purse snatcher. Eventually, they became star-crossed lovers because of the woman’s job.
I’d be straightforward. I like the plot twists in this movie. Whose writer would’ve plotted a policewoman MC/girlfriend to accidentally kill her boyfriend in an attempt to fulfill her job? That is just plain genius. There are also Easter eggs for My Sassy Girl in this movie so you might want to check that out if you still haven’t seen this. 😉
3. The Legend of the Blue Sea (2016)
Revised romanization: Pooreun Badaui Junsul
Hangul: 푸른 바다의 전설
Director: Jin Hyeok
Writer: Park Ji-Eun
Gianna Jun – Sim Cheong/Se Hwa
Lee Min-Ho – Heo Joon Jae/Dam Ryung
Once upon a time during the Joseon Dynasty era, a town head falls in love with a mermaid who was said to be an omen for disaster. Their love was unrequited. Years later, they were reincarnated. The town head is now a cunning con-artist who met the mermaid at a hotel accommodation near some beach in Spain.
Upon watching this 2nd fantasy drama of screenwriter Park Ji-Eun, I have immediately claimed that she’s my favorite KDrama writer. Yes, even though she just became a household name in 2012 and even if there are other dramas that were written perfectly (e.g. Secret Garden). It’s just amazing how she could turn a cliche, such as a story with a premise like the Little Mermaid into something beautiful.
I like how the story progressed and how each episode ended with a heart-stopping cliffhanger. However, I felt that this is quite a downgrade to Gianna Jun’s evolved aggressive acting style since she portrayed a submissive and a martyr mermaid–far from her femme fatale persona in various films. She’s still a comedic genius, though!
2. The Thieves (2012)
Revised romanization: Dodookdeul
Director: Choi Dong-Hoon
Writer: Choi Dong-Hoon, Lee Gi-Cheol
Popie (Lee Jung-Jae), Yenicall (Gianna Jun), Chewingum (Kim Hae-Sook) and Zampano (Kim Soo-Hyun), Macao Park (Kim Yun-Seok), Pepsee (Kim Hye-Soo), Chen (Simon Yam), Andrew (Oh Dal-Su), Julie (Angelica Lee) and Johnny (Kwok Cheung Tsang)
Reminiscent of Ocean’s 11, a group of thieves from Hong Kong and Korea collaborates to rob a high-profile syndicate in a casino. They are after a diamond necklace that is owned by the syndicate’s wife who is a regular customer of the casino. Now, the team has to work together, despite their differences, to succeed in the diamond heist of their lives. However, the 10 thieves all have their own hidden agendas.
Gianna’s role here is the femme fatale persona that I was talking about. After all, she’s a sly thief who uses her physical appearance to her advantage. I’ve seen her do stunts in Blood but her character in this movie is a whole package action star and a big-time thief: smart, cunning, deceptive, and fit–I can’t even remember how many buildings she’s entered and rappelled. I was also exposed to her antagonistic side, which I find very convincing. Maybe she could take on a new role as a rival to an MC in her next drama or movie. What do you think? 🙂
1. You Who Came From the Star (2014)
Revised romanization: Byeoleseo On Geudae
Hangul: 별에서 온 그대
Director: Jang Tae-Yoo, Oh Choong-Hwan
Writer: Park Ji-Eun
Gianna Jun– Cheon Song-Yi
Kim Soo-Hyun – Do Min-Joon
Do Min-Joon is a 400-year old alien. He possessed near perfect appearance and enhanced senses. Now, he is known as a cold-hearted professor who coincidentally lives next door to Cheon Song-Yi. Despite his negative perception on human beings, he finds himself falling in love to Cheon Song-Yi.
First of all, I like the stellar cast. Both Kim Soo Hyun and Gianna Jun are award-winning actors and their chemistry is undeniably perfect, despite the fact that Gianna is a veteran and Soo-Hyun is just starting to enjoy his claim to fame.
Second, the story is again a masterpiece from Park Ji-Eun. Another cliche reinvented. The cinematography was great. Gianna’s wardrobe sparked new trends not only in Korea but all over Asia. In fact, this drama has been rated over 25% by AGB Nielsen and franchise was sold to several countries throughout Asia–Philippines included.
This drama made me like historical fiction–not in a way that it was shoved deep in my throat but more like unconsciously. I loved every part of it with my whole heart. Also, the talented cast gave more color to the alien and actress’s love story–especially the antagonist whom I hated so much during the show (S/O to Lee Jae-Kyung). 😀
I hope you guys like my list! 🙂
Would you like to recommend any Jun Ji-Hyun movies and dramas? Or do you want to add something to my brief reviews? Comment them below!