Monthly Archives: February 2014

Running Man in Australia

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Like most other die-hard fans of Running Man, I was very excited to hear that my favourite Korean variety show would be coming to film some episodes in Australia.   Running Man is a Korean reality “action variety” show in which individuals and teams compete against each other in a variety of missions.  The show 70-80% unscripted, which allows for a lot of fun. Running Man has 7 permanent cast members, with the cast being made up of comedians, singers, actors and other entertainers.

cast shotCast L to R:  Lee Kwangsoo, Kim Jong Kook, Yoo Jae-suk, Song Jihyo,
Song Jong-ki (former cast member), Ji Suk-jin, HaHa (Ha Dong-hoon) and Gary (Kang Hee-gun)

The show regularly hosts celebrity guests who also participate in the various missions. The highlight of the show is often the signature ‘Race Mission’ where individuals have to remove each other’s tags to become the winner.

The cast and crew are shooting in Australia this week, with the episodes screening on the 9th and 16th March.

The turn out of fans has been overwhelming and at times a little crazy.  Here are some of the fan photos and videos (*my apologies for not being able to provide photo credits with all the photos.  So many of the photos have been retweeted/shared with out credits and I have not been able to locate the original source).

airport beach brisbane airport  collins st haha goldcoast Jihyo Jongkook - roo kangaroos -inmyownmind1 kjk state lib entry kjk state library kwangsoo airport kwangsoo ripponlea @KSDC from IG -AllForKwangSo kwangsoo woobin Eric Chang library - cre4msoda rain jihyo motnapat ig ripponla  ripponlea collage runningman collective airport runninmancast woobin John Smith @jphamnguyen

Arrival in Australia at Brisbane airport.

Fans mob Running Man in Melbourne

AC/DC’s Thunderstruck on Cello

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Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser of 2CELLOS release their cover of  “Thunderstruck” by legendary Australian band, AC/DC.  2CELLOS are Baroque-style musicians who interpret modern and Baroque music.  The costumes for the video were provided by  the Friends of Giostra Society in Croatia.

 

AC/DC with the original “Thunderstruck”

J-Drama Review: Bloody Monday – Seasons 1 & 2

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save the earth - bloody monday poster   Bloody Monday 2008

bloody monday 2Bloody Monday 2010

  • English title: Bloody Monday
  • Japanese: ブラッディ・マンデイ
  • Years released: Season 1 (2008)  Season 2 (2010)
  • Episodes: Season 1  – 11 episodes / Season 2 – 9 episodes
  • Director: Shunichi Hirano, Takafumi Hatano
  • Writer: Ryo Ryumon (manga), Mitsuhara Makita, Yusuke Watanabe
Bloody Monday2-Haruma Miura.jpg Bloody Monday2-Takeru Sato.jpg Bloody Monday2-Michiko Kichise.jpg Bloody Monday2-Hiroki Narimiya.jpg
Haruma Miura Takeru Sato Michiko Kichise Hiroki Narimiya
Fujimaru Takagi Otoya Kujo Maya Orihara

J

Bloody Monday2-Umika Kawashima.jpg Bloody Monday2-Yutaka Matsushige.jpg Bloody Monday2-Mina Fujii.jpg
Umika Kawashima Yutaka Matsushige Mina Fujii
Haruka Takagi Ikuma Kano Aoi Asada

Bloody Monday is an adaptation of the Japanese Manga series written by Ryo Ryumon and illustrated by Koji Megumi Season 1 of the television adaptation hit the airwaves in 2008. After its success, a second season was screened in 2010.

Both seasons of Bloody Monday chronicle the exploits of Takagi Fujimaru, a talented and brilliant hacker known as “Falcon”. Fujimaru is recruited by the secret agency his father works for, Third-i – a branch of the Japanese Public Security Intelligence Agency – to try and stop terrorists from carrying out an attack on Japan. In Season 1, Fujimaru – who is still in high school – is recruited to try and stop terrorists from unleashing the deadly “Bloody X” virus on an unsuspecting Tokyo, while in season 2 he races against time and another brilliant computer hacker to stop the detonation of a nuclear bomb.

Both seasons of the television drama do a great job of keeping the viewer on their toes, revealing information about the terrorists and their plans on a drip feed. As the plot unfolds, we start to piece together not only the full extent of the terrorist plot, but also who the terrorists are and their underlying reasons for carrying out the attack. The script writers manage to include a good number of plot twists, many of which you don’t see coming – which is great. As a result, the scripts for both seasons are strong and offer a lot of suspense and tension. My key complaint in relation to the script, particularly in Season 1, is how many times can one character be kidnapped? (I won’t say which one, but it got a bit tedious after a while)

Both seasons star Miura Haruma as Takagi Fujimaru and Sato Takeru as his best friend Kujo Otoya, along with Kichise Michiko as hired gun/mercenary Orihara Maya and Narimiya Hiroko as the resident villain, Kanzaki Jun or “J”. Overall, the entire cast, both leading and support actors give terrific performances. While the early episodes of season 1 are marked by some over acting from some of the support actors, overall this is balanced out and kept to a minimum.

I am a big fan of Miura Haruma and he does not disappoint in either season, giving a strong, confident performance as Fujimaru. However, as much as I enjoyed his performance as Fujimaru, my favourite performance and character in the Bloody Monday series is by far Kanzaki Jun or “J” played by Narimiya Hiroko. As the chief antagonist and leader of the terrorists in season 1, “J” is a brilliant, charismatic sociopath. What is wonderful about Narimiya Hiroko peformance is that he brings a gleeful scariness to “J”, making him both terrifying and child like at the same time. While many of the other characters are portrayed as overally serious (well they are trying to stop a terrorist plot after all), “J” gets to deliver most of the witty lines in both series.

A special mention should also go to Kischise Michiko who plays Orihara Maya. While the character compliments the villiany of “J”, Kischise never lets the character drift into his shadow.  Instead in both seasons Orihara holds her own, making it clear that whatever she is involved in it is always on her own terms and never anyone else’s terms.

Season 2 of the series does a great job of building on the relationships developed in season 1, bring a depth to them that was not quite there the first time around. While I would have loved to have seen more of “J” in season 2, his role is still a crucial one and its great to see him come face to face with Fujimaru and the Third-i team once again.

While one can find some faults in this series, just as you can with many other television programs, overall it delivers. So if you are into strongly scripted, tense and suspenseful action thrillers, you can’t really go wrong with either of the Bloody Monday seasons.

** I wasn’t able to find the official trailers for either season, so here are a couple of fan made videos.

“Checkpoint”: exposing Israel’s apartheid through music

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Why I Wrote the Song “Checkpoint” and Exposed the Apartheid I Witnessed in Palestine

by Jasiri X: Black Youth Project: January 29, 2014

DelegationaIsraeli soldiers checking my passport at a checkpoint in Hebron 

I honestly had no intention on writing a song based on the trip I took to Palestine and Israel recently as part of a delegation of African-American activists and artists, sponsored by the Carter Center. I’m still having a difficult time processing what I witnessed. I spent much of the trip trying to get my head around how one group of human beings could be so inhumane to another group of human beings. I still can’t understand. By day 4 of our 7 day trip I wanted to come home. The mental intensity of what I saw that the brutality of the stories I heard had taken a toll on me to the point where I had enough.

In one of the few light moments of the trip writer and filmmaker Dream Hampton joked that I would have a song and video out a few days after we landed in the United States, because I’m known for doing topical videos in a short period of time. I remember laughing and telling her my only plan when I got home was to rest, but Dream got the last laugh. Her suggestion actually caused me to think, if I did a song what would it sound like and how would the video look? And, although I had taken hundreds of pictures, the only places I recorded video were the checkpoints.

We as a group decided to walk through the infamous Qalandia checkpoint because our guide, who was Palestinian, could not ride through the checkpoint with us. Even though she had a permit and a passport, because she was Palestinian, she had to walk through the checkpoint on foot. I decided to record this journey, not because I had the idea to shoot a video, but because of the ridiculous amount of Israeli soldiers with machine guns surrounding the checkpoint. Being a victim of Stop and Frisk in places like New York City, I have gotten in the habit of videotaping any encounter with those in “authority” when I think there could be danger . In this particular situation, I thought it was best for the safety of our guide and our delegation.

When we were stopped at a checkpoint in Hebron, I began recording again, and I also was recording when armed Israeli soldiers boarded our van to check everyones passport and visa. Realizing the checkpoint footage was the only video I had, I started to conceptualize the song “Checkpoint”. I felt like checkpoint really summed up the apartheid conditions I witnessed in Palestine. That’s why the first line of the song I wrote was, “If Martin Luther King had a dream of the checkpoint, he’d wake with loud screams from the scenes at the checkpoint”. I truly believe if Dr. King was alive and saw the discrimination and oppression we saw, he would breakdown and cry.

At that point all that was left for me to do was find a beat that captured the emotional intensity of walking through a prison like checkpoint guarded by heavily armed soldiers. Thankfully, I had a beat from Agent of Change, who is producing the album I’m currently working on called P.O.W.E.R. (People Oppressed Will Eventually Rise).

Looking back on the trip, I’m thankful I was able to go and see the occupation of Palestine firsthand. I thought I knew what was going on, but I had no idea. I believe everyone who is able to should go and see for themselves the colonialism our tax dollars are funding. I remain inspired by the resistance of the Israeli, Palestinian, and African organizers we met. I hope my song and video helps contribute to the growing movement of Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel. When asked about my trip on Twitter I responded, the people are beautiful, but their reality is heartbreaking. The truth must be told.