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general hit counter: July 2, 1999

Damo: The Undercover Lady Detective

U.S. Edition

Title Information:
Korean: 다모
Chinese: 茶母
Mandarin: cha mu
Cantonese: cha mou
Translation: Tea girl
DVD Information:
Genre: Drama, Action
Video: • Widescreen (4:3)
• All Region NTSC
• Approx. 14 Hours
• Color
• DVD-9
• 2003 Production
• 7 Disks
• Not Rated; PG-13 violence, mild language, brief nudity (one exposed buttocks)
Audio: • Dolby Digital Korean
Subtitle: • English
Interface: • Unanimated menus
• Each episode chaptered into quarters (plus a chapter for the opening theme)
• English menus
Episodes: • 14 (complete series)
Released: 2004 August 30
Publisher:, Inc
Packaging: Two 4-disk plastic cases in a sturdy book-like carton
List Price: US$99.99
I Paid: US$79.99
Video Cover

Special Features:
• Printed reference guide
• Plot summary
• Character introductions
• The title sequence is full-screen, but the feature is presented in widescreen.

Starring:  Ha Ji-Won, Lee Seo-Jin, and Kim Min-Joon
Original Description:
A Korean drama on an unprecedented scale, Damo tells a tale of love, conspiracy, loyalty, and honor.  Taking place in Korea during the 17th century, the story focuses on the destinies of three central characters.  Damo sets a new standard with dazzling special effects, breathtaking cinematography, and mystical martial arts scenes.
A case of counterfeiting money troubles the Police Bureau of Hansung, the old capital city of Korea.  Jang Chae Ohk (Ha Ji-Won), a young lady police detective, is sent by Commander Hwangbo Yoon (Lee Seo-Jin) to investigate the case.  However, what appears to be a small case of counterfeiting turns out to be a much larger national conspiracy.  Soon, Chae-Ohk finds herself faced with an insurrection lead by the very charismatic, Jang Sung-Baek (Kim Min-Joon).
A man of the law, Commander Hwangbo Yoon is set on clearing the government of corruption.  A man of the people, Jang Sung-Baek focuses only on tearing down social hierarchy and creating a world of equality.  Amid a whirlwind of evil much larger than anyone could have imagined, Chae-Ohk must fulfill her destiny and become the legendary lady detective - Damo!
I'm impressed--on multiple levels.
My first impression was of the packaging, an important but grossly neglected attribute of DVDs.  The box is slightly oversized (which is one of my pet peeves when it comes to special edition CDs and DVDs) but not unreasonably bulky (like those box sets that have a built-in display case for some collectable item).  It's of sturdy construction and uses magnets to secure the flap.  (It took me a minute to figure out how to open the box.   )
The disks are divided up into two plastic 4-disk cases which, unlike most plastic multi-disk cases, are designed so that the middle flap doesn't rub against other disks.  And a very nice touch:  A piece of styrofoam was inserted to prevent one of the disks from coming loose and getting scratched up during shipping.
Reguarding the video, Damo proved to be very interesting.  My intention was to watch just one episode per day, but after the first episode ended, I couldn't shut off the player and had to finish the disk.  Likewise when I finally got to the last disk.  The acting is great, and the story was well scripted.
The soundtrack was well scored, albeit unexpected for a story set in old Korea; the opening theme sounds like a techno opera, and the action sequences are accompanied by electric guitar.  (And sentimental K-pop songs are played during emotional scenes.)  I'd like to get the soundtrack.
A nice addition is the reference guide.  It sheds light on several cultural references that many Westerners likely won't understand, such as the impact of a nobleman asking his concubine's son to address him as “father.”  (It might even please those who complain about “having to learn about a foreign culture in order to understand the movie,” which is actually one of the enjoyable benefits of watching foreign films.)
I'm glad that I, a non-Korean speaker who has never even seen Korean television before, decided to a get this series.  And the subtitles are very well done, without which I wouldn't have ordered Damo, so hats off to YesAsia for job well done!
One minor complaint however:  The original non-English release had several behind-the-scenes-type extras on an eighth disk.  I'm not someone who absolutely must have a DVD packed with special features, but if they went to the trouble of translating 14 hours of Korean into English, why didn't they also include (and subtitle) the originally included extras?

My Score:  10/10
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Damo: The Undercover Lady Detective (subtitled version) ©2004,Inc. | YesAsia Logo source provided by | This page ©2004 Wally Waffles
2004 年 10 月 15 日