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I wonder how Kamio Yoko-sensei is feeling having her beloved manga immortalized thrice onscreen now. And the fourth adaptation well on its way already.

I was really thinking if I’m going to make a comparison entry regarding these three adaptations. I know myself too well to know that I am still holding a little bit of torch for Meteor Garden since it was the very first. However, I also know how I felt with regards to the Japanese adaptation and the fresh Korean version. I entitled this entry with versus but maybe that’s wrong because I feel like all I want to do is just a description. I really don’t know how this entry is going down, but let’s see.

I am going to include the two seasons of Meteor Garden and two seasons of Hana Yori Dango. After all, Boys Before Flowers managed to put the whole story into only one season.

I already made a comparison between Meteor Garden and Hana Yori Dango way way back. So, to save myself from the difficulty of remembering what I think about these two earlier adaptations, I am going to restate some of them here with additional info plus my take on the Korean version.

THE STORY

As of now, everyone knows already that it is based on the best selling manga by Kamio Yoko. MG and HYD both at start followed the original manga quite closely but after that MG started to diverge a bit. The second season focused a lot on the amnesia arc. HYD, on the other hand, since the first season was slated for only 9 episodes, combined different scenes in the story to one. BBF quickly started to define their own pace by way of Geum Jan Di’s entrance to Shinhwa High School.


MG: Well, quite long for a first season. However, it is good because you can really see how Dao Ming Si slowly falls in love with Shan Cai. There are a lot of jealousies along the way and a formidable force by the name of Dao Ming Feng but in the end, there is really no doubt in your mind as to how much they love each other. The first season has some dragging parts in the middle. They had so many obstacles. Shan Cai’s family problems were countless. They cannot seem to have just one week without having any problems. Season 2 was all for dramatic flair. Well, it has too much drama actually. The producers didn’t think that the first season would be that big hit so they made the second season drag way too long. That’s what made that drama bad. However, still nothing beats the reason why Dao Ming Si had the amnesia.


HYD: The first season was way too short. I think everyone was left craving for more. It didn’t have that much Makino-Domyouji scene. Just after a few episodes, you’ll see that he is already obsessed (Akira’s word) with Makino. There were only a few times when I saw them together. On the other hand, it’s good because there were no dull moments. The pacing was fast. They combined a lot of scenes, deleted a lot but the story still came out good. The ending wasn’t a big splash but it was because they are working on a season 2. After the disappointing sequel of MG, HYD’s season 2 was a refreshing break. It was better than the first season. There were a lot more tender moments. However, since this is a Jdorama and adopted from a manga at that, it has some over-the-top silliness mixed in it.

BBF: Longer time, longer episodes but you can’t blame them because like what I said they also squeezed the supposed to be ‘season 2’ of the story. They followed the basic plot of the manga while inserting their very own tricks to make it refreshing. They also made an effort and paid so much attention to details. I think the Korean version was the most lavish of all. (I’m not including Hana Yori Dango Final which is actually over-the-top luxuriousness). Some story arcs were given little attention like Jae Ha while Jae Kyung story arc was dragged way too long. The combination of comedy and romance is just right.

THE CHARACTERS

(The F4 Leader) Jerry Yan / Matsumoto Jun / Lee Min Ho


Jerry Yan: He is very well suited for the role of Dao Ming Si. He is tall, handsome and absolutely a hunk. He brings to life a hotheaded and over-jealous person who exudes an atmosphere of inexplicable and undeniable authority around him. You just cannot disobey him. You will find yourself scared of him and yet admire him as well.

Matsumoto Jun: Way before Hanadan, I already love Matsujun, him being on Gokusen and of course, Arashi. However, though I was excited to see him in the lead role for Hanadan, I was also skeptical as to whether he would be able to fit the role. On the physical level, Jun is short and skinny and though good looking, his good looks are not on the mainstream level. But I guess, Matsujun proved that he can carry the role of Domyouji very well. Minus the cartoonish and laughable stupidity, he can be closer to real life. He is spoiled, rude, stupid, childish and lonely. If you meet him at first, you will not be that scared of him. He actually looks like a normal kid but you will definitely feel that there is something in the air around him. Matsujun’s portrayal is yes, at times funny and ridiculous, but the amount of emotion he can project is just astounding. His eyes portray his inner struggles so damn well.

Lee Min Ho: If Jerry is more violent, and Jun is somewhat ridiculous at times, Lee Min Ho’s portrayal seemed a little more balanced, more matured and complicated. He is cold, harsh and cruel. He also has a wide variety of emotions to play up. He is believable when conflicted and when angry. He is real.

(The Weed) Barbie Xu / Inoue Mao / Goo Hye Sun


Barbie Xu: With regards to her acting, this older member of the duo ASOS – though neophyte at the time, really did well. You laughed with her and even cry with her. You will fall in love with Shan Cai. However, I think she’s just too pretty to be a commoner.

Inoue Mao: Her acting skills may be raw but the way she took on the role of Makino Tsukushi was so believable. It was so convincing. Besides, her expressions are unpredictable but adorable. Comic timing is good too. In HYD, she looks really plain like an honest-to-goodness commoner, just exactly what the role requires. She’s not that tall, not that skinny, not that pretty but just like Makino Tsukushi, she packs a punch, figuratively and well – literally. She never went over-the-top cuteness that made her irritating. And you will understand why in the heaven’s name the great Domyouji Tsukasa fell in love with her.

Goo Hye Sun: Her haircut that has bothered a lot of people wasn’t actually such big deal to me, though I didn’t like it. But when I started to research about her and saw pictures of her, I realized that she is a very pretty girl and her bob didn’t do her justice. How come two F4 are fighting for her affections? Okay, so we know from the manga that they didn’t like the female lead because of her looks but because of her personality, but what personality exactly? There isn’t much with Goo Hye Sun’s portrayal. She was interesting at first but then it went down the drain when she started to get together with Jun Pyo. She always looked like she wanted to give up and is tired of having a relationship with him. Like I said in my review before, she was just weak. Plus, the inconsistencies of her character are just infuriating. Okay, so I blame the poor writing too. However, I like how, in this version, Jan Di was given something she cares about: swimming. At least, her life revolves around something else than f4.

(The Violinist) Vic Zhou / Oguri Shun / Kim Hyun Joong


Vic Zhou: My only comment is that his acting is very raw. I had hard time deciphering the emotions he wanted to convey. Sometimes I see it in his eyes but cannot feel it in his voice, sometimes it is the other way around. (Note: It is not the dubbed version of the local channel. I have a copy of the original VCD, courtesy of Odyssey.) But of course, one cannot really deny how handsome Zaizai is. When I first saw him in the commercial of MG, just like Shan Cai, I fell in love with him. He was so cute there playing his violin. However, as the story goes on, just like Shan Cai again, I fell in love with Dao Ming Si, up to the end this time. Zaizai looks so cool and he can really carry that I-don’t-care aura very well.

Oguri Shun: At first, I honestly cannot believe that he will be playing the role of Hanazawa Rui. His role in Gokusen didn’t give me any idea that he could actually do it. Not even reaching half of the series, I changed my mind. I was amazed as to how Shun can really pull it off. He may not be as handsome as Vic but he has also that prince charming appeal and mysterious aura around him and acting-wise, he was definitely much better than Vic. I feel more emotions and intensity. Maybe, it was because he was much more experienced than Zaizai who actually debuted in MG.

Kim Hyun Joong: Too much of a pretty boy to go unnoticed. I already like Hyun Joong before he starred in this drama. I like his group, SS501. However, it’s just too bad that he wasn’t that great in acting. Hopefully, he’ll get better the next time. His pairing with Jan Di had little or no connection at all. Even as being friends, there’s awkwardness.  The love triangle in BBF dragged on until the end, heck, even in the After Story. If Hyun Joong was a better actor, the love triangle would have been so good. He was better acting happy (watch his Dynamic Kin CF) than sad. I think he always looks sad, for that drama at least. I never saw anybody who’s lonely as him whenever he eats. I think it would have been better if he was given more scenes like the one he had in the Macau episode when he and Jan Di went out and had fun together, but because of the role he’s playing, there’s really little hope for that.

For the story and the three main leads, I didn’t put my preferences on them, just what I think about their portrayals. But I think it can be deduced anyway.

However, it’s not how it’s going down for the extended casts. I will make it short and declare my preferences right away.

(The Playboy) Ken Zhu / Matsuda Shota / Kim Bum: I like Matsuda Shota’s portrayal the best. Although Kim Bum is uber cute, I am not allowing my fangirling to affect my preference to their character portrayals. Ken Zhu was fine but he really didn’t shine that much even in his own special in Meteor Rain. Matsuda Shota’s portrayal for the scene on the rooftop was very very good. I was moved and I couldn’t forget how I cried with him. It was much sweeter than Kim Bum’s. Aside from the fact that Matsuda didn’t go as far as to being a pathetic emo wreck (like what happened to Kim Bum) a couple of episodes before the rooftop scene.

(The Mediator)Vanness Wu / Abe Tsuyoshi / Kim Joon: Akira’s role in the manga is like I stated, the mediator. Not only that, he was a constant reminder of the friendship among the F4. Vanness Wu’s character was written this way better than the two.

(The Best Friend) Rainie Yang / Nishihara Aki / Kim So Eun: For the role of the female lead’s best friend. Kim So Eun plays this part very well. She’s simple and caring and pretty too. Rainie Yang was also good but there were just times that her cuteness is irritating. Nishihara Aki as Yuki was fine though forgettable.

(The Older Sister) Mary Hsu / Matsushima Nanako / Kim Hyun Joo: I think it’s a tie between Mary Hsu and Kim Hyun Joo. Mary Hsu has more spunk but because Kim Hyun Joo has more screen time, we get to see a deeper level to her character. Nanako is very close as second. Acting-wise, all of them are good.

(The Fiancée) Christine Ke / Kato Natsuki / Lee Min Jung: The fiancée character is a character that can easily come across as irritating. The three actresses were good that it didn’t go to the point that you’ll hate them but for me, I think the Japanese won this one. Her portrayal of the character is just simply hard to hate. It was endearing instead.

(Rui’s First Love) Winnie Qian / Sada Mayumi / Han Chae Young: I prefer Winnie Chen and then Han Chae Young. Both are very gorgeous and very classy and elegant. It’s just that Han Chae Young’s moments with Kim Hyun Joo are a bit awkward.

(The Mother) Zhen Xiu Zhen / Kaga Mariko / Lee Hye Young: Still, no one can beat Zhen Xiu Zhen. She’s such a formidable actress. So regal, so elegant, so beautiful yet so scary. Lee Hye Young’s take on the character is also good.

MISCELLANEOUS STUFF

The Location (setting and stuff): Since I’m not counting the Hana Yori Dango Final, Boys Before Flowers won this one. They got beautiful scenery and out-of-country location shoots. They also paid great attention to details that made everything luxurious.

The Music (soundtrack): Hana Yori Dango won this one for me. Qing Fei De Yi and Ni Yao De Ai from Meteor Garden are very good opening and closing themes. Ni Yao De Ai was also used as an insert song and that made it a classic. The songs in the second season were better still and they used a lot of English songs. Of course, Broken Vow stood out. However, nothing can top the songs that were used in HYD. In the first season, they had Arashi’s Wish for the opening and the wonderful Planetarium of Otsuka Ai for the insert song. For the second season, it got even better. Arashi’s Love so Sweet was so endearing and of course, Utada Hikaru’s Flavor of Life which was actually written for the show. And if you look at the lyrics closely, Flavor of Life is the story of almost every character in the story. It is Hana Yori Dango in a nutshell. One line of the song was even actually said by Shigeru in the drama. Plus, HYD has a couple of wonderful instrumentals that enhanced the emotions of the drama especially since they were played at the right times. Boys Before Flowers has good songs when you listen to them individually. In drama, it was like they were just tossed around by a drunken person. The songs didn’t fit the scenes.

OVERALL:

I cannot say one version is definitely better than the other because it’s so obvious that each had their own strengths and also their own share of weaknesses. I still feel it is better to actually watch them all. If you feel some elements are lacking in one version, don’t worry, the other version will definitely make up for it.



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Secret

secret

Also known as “The Secret That Cannot Be Told,” Secret is singer/songwriter Jay Chou’s directorial debut.

Jay Chou is Ye Xiang Lun, a newly transferred music student majoring in piano. On his first day, while he was being toured around by Qing Yi (Alice Tzeng), he hears a beautiful melody being played that leads him to the old piano room. In there, he meets Lu Xiao Yu (Kwai Lun Mei), another piano major. But when Xiang Lun asks her what is the song she was playing, she said that it was a secret that cannot be told. Soon, they became friends and Xiao Yu falls for Xiang Lun. Due to a miscommunication, Xiao Yu sees Xiang Lun kissed another girl and she disappeared.

Jay Chou is definitely one of the hottest singers in China today. Not only that, he is also a brilliant composer. But apparently, he didn’t want to stay like that. Wanting to broaden his horizons, he delved into directing. He had experiences in directing music videos but Secret is his first time directing a film. He also co-wrote it and stars in it. Pretty good for a first timer and I must say that at the very least, it wasn’t a typical love story.

On the other hand, Jay Chou doesn’t fair very well as an actor. He has charm but it doesn’t translate well on screen. He doesn’t know how to effectively convey different emotions on his face. Two scenes where he stands out though were the piano duel scene and the last scene where he still plays the piano even when the building was being demolished.

Jay Chou also wrote some of the music for this movie and they were good. I also liked it that he was a Chopin fan (like me!) and he made a lot of tribute to this composer. I enjoyed the piano duel very much. They played Chopin’s Waltz and Black Key Etude.

Jay Chou’s leading actress is Kwai Lun Mei who I didn’t actually find that pretty at first. I thought that Alice Tzeng was a better choice. However, I realized that Alice Tzeng is perfect as the third wheel because it supplied additional tension. Kwan Lun Mei, on the other hand, proved to be a good actress. She started really plain, though mysterious, and soon after become charming and affable. When her story was revealed, we see a deeper level to her character and she started to have an effect on the audience in a very good way.

Other characters that were also a stand out in this film include Xiang Lun’s father played by Anthony Wong and Zhan Yu Hao, who is called the Prince of the Piano, who had the piano duel with Xiang Lun.

The story being shrouded in mystery is the film’s strongest point. Audience is captivated by the vagueness of the female character and it’s what would drive the people to watch until the very end.

However, there are a lot of loopholes in the film which is sad to say, glaringly obvious. Secret is built on a set of rules, but near the end, when everything is revealed, Secret disregarded these so-called rules. Credibility that was from the very start treading on a shaky ground, crumbles.

But that part is also the most poignant part of the film, and the one part that built my resolve that I actually love this film despite all its flaws. It had me crying until the end. Kwan Lun Mei was very good in here and Jay Chou started to show something different. The parts that I like include Xiao You communicating with a whiteout, Xiang Lun’s father running after Xiang Lun when he realized that it was his son that Xiao Yu had fallen in love with, and Xiang Lun playing the piano though he was already bleeding and the building was being demolished.

By and large, the movie’s cinematography was pleasing and the music was commendable (of course, most of it is classical!). Kwai Lun Mei presented the audience with a convincing performance. And, even though Jay Chou needs to polish his acting, I have high regards for all his efforts for this movie. I am actually excited to see him do another film. There’s a rumor that Secret Part 2 is in the works. And like what I twitted before when I was watching the movie, since Jay Chou can play kickass classical music, I am already his fan!

So, despite all of its conspicuous slipups, Secret managed to deliver a moving love story.

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Fated To Love You

FatedToLoveYou

“Life is like a game of gambling.

It’s impossible to win every time.

As long as you have a chip in your hand,

you will always have hope.”

Also Known As: Ming Zhong Zhu Ding Wo Ai Ni/ Sticky Note Girl/ Destiny Love/ You’re My Destiny

Cast:

Joe Chen Qiao En as Chen Xin Yi/Elaine

Ethan Ruan Ting Jian as Ji Cun Xi

Baron Chen Chu He as Dylan/Dai Jian Ren

Bianca Bai Xin Yui as Shi Ah Na/ Dai Xin Yi

The Plot:

A really unfashionable working class girl Chen Xin Yi has the desire to tie down her handsome boyfriend to be with her. Due to certain reasons, her boyfriend gets her to go on a love cruise and she started to ponder on how to lose her virginity and tie down her boyfriend. Xin Yi ended up taking cold medicine which made her drowsy and went into Ji Cun Xi’s room. Cun Xi is the sole male heir to his family’s company and has been in love with his girlfriend, Anna, for a long time. He planned to propose to Anna on the boat but she didn’t turn up on the cruise. An island owner added drugs into Cun Xi’s drink and Cun Xi became disorientated and returned to his own room. Xin Yi and Cun Xi end up having a one night stand. Xin Yi later finds out that she’s pregnant and Cun Xi’s grandmother forces them to get married. Will a couple forced to marry for the sake of their unborn child find love with each other?

credits: dramawiki

IMO:

When I first researched about this drama a year ago, I wasn’t that much interested in it. I don’t know, there’s just something about the plot “being pregnant before marriage” that doesn’t appeal so much to me. Moreover, they were not even in a relationship and it was an accident. The only thing that caught my interest was the leads. I was watching Green Forest, My Home and falling in love with Owen then when I first knew about FTLY. He is Ji Cun Xi here and of course, we all know who Joe Chen is especially after that successful stint in Frog Prince.

The plot was ordinary however they made it so extraordinary after giving it with so much heart. And I believe it is more realistic than other idol dramas. Yes, I did cry a lot in this drama. I cried because it was sad, I felt pity for Xin Yi and I totally dig the family relationships here. It wasn’t so typical anymore because of so many twists and basically just how they developed the whole story.

My only complaint was just it was too long. For someone who’s so immersed in Jdoramas lately, a series with 24 episodes at 1 and 30 mins each was already a stretch. Thank God, there weren’t many boring episodes, feelers and side stories.

After watching Bump Off Lover, this was another good watch. Although the concepts differ a lot from each other, they were done and carried out very well. If they can make dramas this good, they don’t need a script taken out from a manga. However, in most cases, it wasn’t like that. Though I’m not going to complain anymore because I just remembered Meteor Garden and Devil Beside You, both taken from a manga.

Characters:

Joe Chen Qiao En as Chen Xin Yi: She’s been giving hit dramas after another and her lead men shot to higher fame after co-starring with her. She’s very lucky.  She has come a long way. Actually, I think I’ve seen her grow into a beautiful and very reliable actress because I’ve seen most of her dramas, even her very first drama which was Lavender. She’s not the lead there and though she gave a pretty good performance there, it wasn’t that much noticeable. But now, look at her. She’s one of the primary leading actresses in Taiwan and I’m happy that her drama roles in some drama deviate from the typical Taiwanese lead actresses’ roles.

Ethan Ruan Ting Jian as Ji Cun Xi: As I said, he’s Owen from Green Forest, My Home. I’ve missed him. He was lovable there and I also can’t forget his small stint in Hana Kimi. I almost didn’t notice him there, what with the hair and all. In FTLY, he played a rich, arrogant and childish successor of Mo Fa Ling. He really did well. He has good funny scenes and nice dramatic scenes too (maybe except that one when he was leaving Xin Yi at the bridge. I thought he was funny there.) He and Joe Chen has this amazing chemistry and if I hadn’t known he already has a girlfriend (Tiffany Xu from ISWAK), I would like to think that they could also hit it off real well in real life. BTW, I really think that Ming Dao (from Frog Prince) and Ethan looked so much alike. Maybe it was the eyebrows.

Baron Chen Chu He as Dylan/ Dai Jian Ren: He is gorgeous and very easy to like however there’s just something off about him that I can’t pinpoint. But anyway, I like it that although he likes Xin Yi, he made an effort to be strict with her so that she can change her “sticky note girl” personality. However, in one scene he said that he gave 100% in trying to get Xin Yi, but somehow I cannot believe that. But I’m glad that he just let her go because it’s not him she loves and he knows that love cannot be forced. With regards to his acting, he did good, not that outstanding compared to the two leads but he held his ground. I think he should change some of his expressions. Sometimes, I can’t detect whether he looks angry or just smug or sad. Also, he just usually pouts his lips. But then again, Baron is a new comer and this is his first drama so he must be given a second chance. I am actually looking forward to his future drama projects.

Bianca Bai Xin Yui as Shi Ah Na/ Dai Xin Yi: Do you guys remember her from ISWAK? Honestly, she’s a lovable character. Okay, maybe that’s too much but I swear her character is just too hard to hate even though she did what she did to Xin Yi. We can also understand why she stood Cun Xi up for 12 times because she’s very much dedicated and focused on her ballet career and even Cun Xi knows that. We can understand it because of her back story with her strict stepmother and everything. Plus, she loves Cun Xi very much and she makes up through giving Cun Xi surprises on his birthday, etc. I love that scene on ep 1 when she rejected the supporting role at Swan Lake and she said, “If I can’t play Odette, I’m not going. Rather than playing a supporting role in New York, I might as well stay by my boyfriend’s side and be forever his leading actress. I’ve broken too many promises to him. I shouldn’t give him up this time.” That was a really good line. If Cun Xi heard it, he could’ve died from happiness. Oh, and also, she and Dylan really look like they’re related to each other. Is it the eyes? Too bad she wasn’t in the final ep anymore. Just some narrative about what happened to her. Dylan too.

Other Characters:

Xin Yi’s family: I’m surprised that they were not so eager to marry Xin Yi off to Cun Xi even though she’s already pregnant and he is a very rich guy. I love the family conversations because they show how much they really care for Xin Yi. And every conversation Xin Yi had with her mom was like a tug at heart.

Grandma: I love her because she’s not the bad guy here. I thought she’s going to hate Xin Yi because she’s poor and she’s not suitable for the Ji family.

Anson: Comedic relief. I like him.

Behind-the-scenes:

The BTS are so funny and they really got so close to each other. No wonder they can wonderfully portray such a good drama.

Trivia:

  • It was an expensive drama. The first episode cost more than NT $5,000,000. They filmed in Taiwan, Shanghai and Hong Kong. But I think it was all worth it. They’ve produced such a heartwarming and unforgettable drama.
  • Won in the 43rd Golden Bell Awards as 2008’s Best Drama.
  • Among the screenwriters, there was actually someone named Chen Xin Yi.
  • The singer Shorty Yuen (Yuan Ruo Lan) who sang the opening and ending song (this one together with Wu Zhong Ming) appeared in the drama as a guest. She played the nurse at a Shanghai hospital where Cun Xi brought Xin Yi. I didn’t notice it at first but I really thought that the nurse was familiar. Ha! It was her.
  • The plot is connected to the first episode of Invincible Shan Bao Mei and when you watched ISBM, you will see Joe Chen and Ethan Ruan there playing their respective roles in here. BTW, Invincible Shan Bao Mei stars Smiling Pasta actor Nicholas Teo!

The Soundtrack:

I soooo love the soundtrack. The opening song is I love him 99 times by Shorty Yuen. It is upbeat, beautiful, lively and really cute. The ending song, which is Sticky Note with Wishes, is a duet of Shorty Yuen and Wu Zhong Ming and it was beautifully made. The melody is nice and soothing to the ears. It’s also really cute. Insert songs include Half of a Love Song by Shorty Yuen again. She really did a great job in this OST. This song is played during flashbacks and some dramatic scenes. My favorite, however, is a duet from the Jin Xiu duets, My Happiness. The stanzas are very fast and the chorus is a bit slower but still lively and so heartfelt. I love the piano work for the song. It is also played on crucial moments and it helps a lot to the emotional appeal of the scene.

Episodes:

Episode

Subtitle

Ratings

01

Go! Chen Xin Yi

2.56

02

Pregnant?! Stop kidding Cupid

3.81

03

What?! The baby is mine

5.18

04

God! I hope that I’m not the groom

4.49

05

It’s not easy to be Ji Cun Xi’s bride!

4.77

06

Ji Cun Xi’s trap of gentleness

4.67

07

Sorry, I wronged you

4.55

08

For you, I am willing to be a chicken

5.28

09

The drastic change of Ji Cun Xi’s feelings!

5.74

10

Happiness, like treading on ice

5.97

11

Ji Cun Xi’s difficult problem!

6.71

12

Everything back to zero…

7.84

13

Rebirth!

8.09

14

Love in Shanghai

9.17

15

Uncuttable

9.08

16

Courage

9.11

17

Out of control

9.69

18

Fated to be with love

10.60

19

The self assertive sticky note

10.51

20

A confession over two years

10.91

21

Rewards finally come from hardship

10.38

22

Suffering from the consequences of love

9.18

23

Fated to love you

10.45

24

The last sticky note of Fated to Love You

9.80

average

7.44

Conclusion:

Obviously, such a long review but all I’m going to say is GO AND WATCH IT NOW!

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Bump Off Lover

bumpofflovermj9

Chinese Title: Ai Sha 17

Casts:

Angela Zhang as Xu Yi Zhen, Xu Yi Jing, Ah Cat

Julian Yang as Lin Jia Wei

Lu Ting Wei as Zou Ke Qiang

Zhang Shan Jie as Zou Ke Jie

Zhen Shu Hwa as Liang Ya Jian

The Plot:

At age 17, Yi Jing is thrown off a building and brutally murdered. Just before she dies she calls her sister and asks her to save her. Yi Zhen runs to the building but is delayed when she is thrown into the pool, and, having a morbid fear of water, cannot save herself.

Yi Zhen was previously sexually harassed by Ren You, who was a teacher in the school. Although the teacher was subsequently fired, he continues to stalk and video her. He believes that he is innocent but what are his real intentions?

credits: wikipedia

addition: Yi Zhen, together with the help of Zou Ke Qiang and Lin Jia Wei secretly investigates the murder only to find out that for 17 years she is living a life full of dark secrets.

IMO:

I had the DVD for quite sometime but it took me a while to start watching the drama because I wasn’t very much interested at it first. I just bought it because I was curious. I read in the Wikipedia that Angela Zhang was supposed to be given the lead role for another drama, Tokyo Juliet – which quite frankly, I’m happy that she turned that down because even though Wu Chun’s there, it wasn’t that much. Bump Off Lover 17 was way way better.

After watching the first episode, I couldn’t stop. For one, it is has a mystery and Angela Zhang was acting all detective trying to figure out who killed her sister. It is also very interesting. There wasn’t a boring moment. The characters are alive and so real. It was one hell of a drama.

Characters:

Angela Zhang as …

Xu Yi Zhen: She’s the older twin sister. She’s recognizable because of her long hair and bangs. She’s outgoing, smart, caring and pretty. She’s perfect.

Xu Yi Jing: She’s the younger twin sister. She’s pretty, sweet, gentle, kind, innocent and weak. People think she’s really good at heart but she has a dark side.

Ah Cat: This is Yi Jing’s true self. She’s cold and cruel, a totally different person. When Yi Jing becomes Ah Cat, she assumes the look of her sister, Yi Zhen, sporting a long hair with red highlights. Among the three, she is the prettiest.

All throughout, Angela Zhang gave an amazing and superb performance. The three characters are so different from each other and even though they have the same face, you would really believe that three different people portrayed them. Angela Zhang surprised me so much in here. I was so used to seeing her act as the typical Taiwanese leading lady, cute, naïve, simple-minded and optimistic. She’s so good as Yi Zhen. She’s strong, fiery and definitely can stand up for herself. As Yi Jing, one would really fall for her sweet smile and as Ah Cat, I must say, she can really portray a villain. Overall, she’s amazing! A very good job Angela!

Julian Yang as Lin Jia Wei: He’s a family friend and Yi Zhen’s boyfriend. However, he’s also something else. The death of his father changed his life and he began plotting to destroy Yi Zhen’s family. He was also amazing. So good and yet so evil. I really liked him and even though his true self was revealed, it was still hard for me to hate him.

Lu Ting Wei as Zou Ke Qiang: He was Zou Ke Jie’s brother and after Ke Jie committed suicide, he helped Yi Zhen investigate the mystery revolving around Yi Jing’s death that forced his brother to commit suicide. He was okay as far as the acting goes. I can feel that he really cares for his brother and will do everything for him.

Zhang Shan Jie as Zou Ke Jie: He’s Ke Qiang’s younger brother. He was always bullied by other students and he is also in love with Yi Jing. He was the only one that Yi Jing trusted with her secret and he chose to commit suicide rather than reveal it. Shan Jie was good. He had minimal time onscreen but those times were memorable. He really stood out.

Zhen Shu Hwa as Liang Ya Jian: Among the adults, I only picked her because she was so important for the show. A lot of things revolved around her and like Angela Zhang, she performed three different roles even though it is only one character. She is a wife, a mother and a principal. All of these personalities require someone strong enough to protect what is important to her. Shu Hwa gave a good performance for this drama. Sometimes, you can’t help but be angry with her but at the same time pity her for all the things she’s going through.

The Soundtrack:

Like her other Taiwanese dramas, Angela Zhang sang the songs for this drama. The songs “Gou Dai Te Tian Kong” and “Yin Xing Zhe Pang” were all suitable for the drama.

The Ending:

It was shocking. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to reveal too many spoilers but in that episode we find out who really killed Yi Jing and what happened to the other characters in the show. I just want to comment, I really hate Jia Wei’s mom and Yi Zhen’s dad, they are almost the reason why the kids turn out the way they are. Yet, at the end, they didn’t pay for what they’ve done.

Other Stuff: (Beautiful quotes from the drama)

  • “They say that if you have been kissed by an angel, you will have a pair of invisible wings. In times of fear, those wings of yours will spread open and will bring your own heaven” (Yi Jing to Ke Jie)
  • “I once said 99 true words, no one believed me. I once said a single lie, everyone believed me. From then on, I realized that we are living a life full of lies.” (Yi Jing to herself)
  • “Love and betrayal co-exist. It doesn’t mean that if you betrayed the one you love, you love him less. Nor does it mean that if you love someone, you will not betray him…” (Yi Jing to herself)”
  • “Envy and admiration are the same. It’s just that people believe that admiration sounds less evil…” (Yi Jing to herself while talking with Ah Sa)
  • “I spent my life destroying other people’s lives, little did I know that I destroyed my own life as well..” (Yi Jing to herself)
  • “Look who’s talking now! Am I the one who is freaky, or is it you, you who betrayed Father?” (Jia Wei to his mom)
  • “You thought I was young and innocent, but I absorbed every word you said. But you did not notice, for like you, I was good at pretending…it was you who taught me to be that way!” (Yi Jing to the principal)
  • “I only save those who are worth saving!” (Jia Wei to Yi Jing)
  • “Forgive my being unfair, but I chose to spend your 18th birthday with Yi Jing” (The Principal to Yi Zhen)
  • “Yi Jing’s lips, Yi Zhen’s fingers, Yi Jing’s flute, Yi Zhen’s CD, Yi Jing’s gentleness, Yi Zhen’s smile, Yi Jing’s wig, Yi Zhen’s mirror, Yi Jing’s jealousy, Yi Zhen’s anger, Yi Jing’s asthma, Yi Zhen’s fear of water, Yi Jing’s blood, Yi Zhen’s tear, Yi Jing’s diary, OUR 17 YEARS…”

Conclusion:

Honestly, if I wasn’t so loyal to Meteor Garden because it was the very first Asian drama I’ve ever seen and it was the one who opened my eyes to other Asian dramas, Bump Off Lover 17 would definitely be my number one Taiwanese drama. On the other hand, I don’t think it was fair to compare it to Meteor Garden because this one is on a totally different level. I think it was such a superb drama. It absolutely dethroned other Taiwanese dramas that are all cute and simple. It tackles about life and a lot of people can relate to it. It has mystery too. However, if you’re looking for romance, the love story in this one is just a side story because it focused more on bigger things. The story has so much power and depth.

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Smiling Pasta

Smiling-Pasta

Casts:

Nicholas Teo as He Qun

Cyndi Wang as Cheng Xiao Shi

Joyce Zhao as Rita

Gino as He Rui Zhe (Ah Zhe)

The Plot:

Xiao Shi is a girl who has gone through many short relationships, 17 to be exact, not one lasting more than 3 months hence, she was cursed with a three-month curse. After being dumped by her 17th boyfriend, the world looks grimmer than ever. At that time, a famous idol, He Qun runs past, bumps into Xiao Shi, and they end up “kissing” on the street. Paparazzi swarmed by and to avoid a bad reputation, He Qun’s manager declared Xiao Shi as He Qun’s girlfriend of one year and fiancée. Thus, a love contract was made. This story is about how the couple learns to like each other after having disagreements in the beginning, as well as fighting the injustices the media throw at them. Will Xiao Shi finally break her 3 month curse?

credits: dramawiki

IMO:

First off, according to the Internet source, Smiling Pasta is the Taiwanese remake of Full House. So when I was watching it, I was looking for the evidence. Here are some of the similarities that I found (1) The lead guy is a celebrity and the girl is a commoner with a good heart (2) The media frenzy (3) The fake engagement. (4) There was a conflict between the two guys (5) The other girl left the lead guy to be with the other guy.

The development of He Qun and Xiao Shi’s relationship is fast and they have so many cute moments together. The media here is very crazy than in FH. The schoolmates of the couple are also very weird and went to great lengths in order to show how displeased are they with He Qun’s choice of girlfriend.

There were no lasting problems, except perhaps the overrated sibling dilemma. There were many subplots that should have remained to be subplots but they were magnified and became the focus for a while. There were also weird and illogical plot twists. It was weird because it doesn’t seem to happen in real life.

Characters:

Nicholas Teo as He Qun: For a long time now, I was really looking forward to watching a drama of Nicholas. He was frequently mentioned in the Taiwan media but I never really stumbled over a drama of his. I think Nicholas did justice to the role. He exudes a cool and calculating persona perfect for a celebrity. However, I must admit that at first, I thought he was a miscast. He doesn’t have the typical look and he’s kind of short. I think he’s almost as tall as Cyndi. But as the story progress, I can see why the producers or whoever picked him. He has charm and he’s cute enough to do the character. I also applaud his performance when he’s interacting with his father. I can almost feel his pain. Usually, fathers approve of their eldest son rather than the youngest. In here, it was different. He Qun was the one seeking for an approval.

Ohmygod. I have to mention this, Nicholas is the only actor I know that while watching him, I was seeing three other actors. For one, he has Rain’s smile, the one that extends all the way to his ear but doesn’t show his teeth. The closed-lip smile. Next, he looks so much like Kim Jae-won and it made me remember a topic on Crunchyroll about actors with look-alike, and he and Kim Jae-won were in there. Last, he also reminds me so much of Calvin Chen. Yes, from Fahrenheit. He does look like Calvin too, right? Or am I the only one seeing it?

Cyndi Wang as Cheng Xiao Shi: Okay, when was the first time I saw Cyndi? Ah, it was in Le Robe. Cyndi portrayed Xiao Shi as the typical Taiwanese heroine. When I say typical, think of Ariel Lin, Rainie Yang and Angela Zhang and you get the picture. Naïve, simple-minded, cute, optimistic with a good heart. Always falling down but never giving up. Her voice is the same too, high-pitched and so were her actions. But okay, although she’s very childish and all, I love her. The way I love the three mentioned above in other Taiwanese idol dramas. Oh, I almost forgot, she has an amazing chemistry with Nicholas and at times with Gino.

Gino as He Rui Zhe (Ah Zhe): Gino’s portrayal of the rebellious Ah Zhe was believable although it was just tiring to watch him be angry all the time. Tiring, because I think he was also tired acting angry because he was actually a good guy who cares for people close to him. I said above that the sibling rivalry was overrated because that was how I really feel while watching it. There was one scene where He Qun and Ah Zhe competed against each other in the school. He Qun sang “Tears from Polaris” and Ah Zhe was so angry that he made He Qun stopped but He Qun continued anyway and Ah Zhe was crying because he remembered Xiao Rou. I think Gino needed to work harder in his dramatic scene. I wanted to laugh so much when I saw him crying but the camera kept swinging back to Nicholas Teo’s more believable performance, crying while singing so I held it in.

Joyce Zhao as Rita: Joyce Zhao, I think, was okay and her portrayal of Rita was consistent. She’s not that bad and scheming and she’s actually amazing when she performs those stunts. However, like many people have noticed, she lacks chemistry with both the lead guys.

The Soundtrack:

Smiling Pasta has an entertaining and good soundtrack. The opening song is Smiling Rainbow (Rainbow’s Smile) by Cyndi Wang. A nice and catchy song. Of course, I have to mention the songs that He Qun sung in here. First is Tears from Polaris. It’s also the ending song. It is such a beautiful song. Full of heart but it is also very sad. The other one, the one he composed for Xiao Shi, Little Turtle, this one is optimistic and lively. Nicholas Teo has an amazingly beautiful voice. I admit I didn’t expect that from him.

The Final Episode:

Why didn’t I say The Ending instead? Because the ending was divided into a few parts. At first, I thought the ending was when He Qun finally confesses to Xiao Shi in his autograph session and they shared a kiss. But then it continued. The next one, they went to a hill, and celebrated because they finally break Xiao Shi “3-month curse”. I thought this one would be a good wrap up for the story however, the scene moves on. He Qun is celebrating his birthday on the street where he and Xiao Shi first met. Know what the ending is? He Qun proposed to Xiao Shi.

Other Stuff: (I want to comment on)

  • The CK twist was uhmm, odd. Isn’t it proof enough that the engagement was fake when Xiao Shi decided to publicly confess to He Qun? I mean, where do you see a couple getting engaged and then only afterwards will they admit their feelings? And everyone was doubtful that He Qun would accept it. It was bizarre.
  • I like Xiao Shi’s family and He Qun’s mom. I also liked He Qun’s dad after he accepts Xiao Shi. They were so cool although sometimes a bit embarrassing in their actions.
  • In episode 15, Xiao Shi and He Qun joined a TV Quiz Show for couples. Guess who they were competing with? Leon Jay Williams and another girl. Leon was Cyndi’s love interest in Le Robe. Cute. I missed Leon. His last drama that I saw was Green Forest, My Home.
  • Speaking of Green Forest, Song Zhi Ai was also in here. She played, Xiao Shi’s sister-in-law Qian Hui. In GF, she’s Su Shan.

Conclusion:

Despite having flaws, gaps and holes and even silly moments, I truly enjoyed watching Smiling Pasta. It was really entertaining and like Full House, I also fell in love with the characters especially the leads.

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Why Why Love

whywhylove

Chinese Title: Huan Huan Ai (Exchange Love)

Casts:

Rainie Yang as Tong Jia Di

Mike He as Huo Da

Kingone Wang as Huo Yan

Judy Qiu as Yang Yan Shu

Chen Yan Xi as Jiang Xiao Nan

Xu Shi Hao as Bo Zi

The Plot:

Tong Jia Di needs a life besides work, paying down family debt, and more work. So her best friend Jiang Xiao Nan sneaks in a “Love” coupon in Jia Di’s raffle box praying that the lucky guy who draws it will sweep Jia Di off her feet. As it so happens, Huo Yan, the compassionate manager Jia Di has secret crush on, is the lucky guy. But, tho’ the prince can exchange the coupon for Cinderella’s love, it doesn’t mean he will, especially when his devilish younger brother is determined to exchange his “Master/Angel” coupon for her servitude.

credits: dramawiki

IMO:

For this drama, I will deviate from the usual way I do my review. Why? You’ll see.

Why I love it?

  • Because it is Devil Beside You repackaged in a different story. Meaning, it has the same DBY elements and twists but was contained in a different story. However, you can feel it, the air is definitely screaming Devil Beside You all over again.

Take a look at this:

1.      Reunion of Devil Beside You casts.

2.      Different plot but the same formula. In DBY, at first Xiao Yue (Rainie) likes Yuan Yi (Kingone) and hates Ahmon (Mike) then finally falls in love with Ahmon. In WWL, Jia Di (Rainie) at first likes Huo Yan (Kingone) and hates Huo Da (Mike) then of course, she eventually falls in love with Huo Da.

3.      Some settings from DBY were used. The playground, the swing and some scenes were replicated.

  • Because there are more Rainie-Kingone moments here than in DBY. Do I sound like a Rainie-Kingone shipper already? Can I help it that they really have this amazing chemistry? Though Kingone looks older than Rainie. I always look forward to seeing them together.
  • Because Rainie and Mike once again looks so good together.

Why I hate it?

  • Because of the twist in the end!!! Since it is almost like DBY, they had to make the final twist different. It’s a big challenge but hell, it turned out to be so bad. Huo Da coming down with an illness, what the heck were they thinking? I would believe it if it was Huo Yan because it was him who was always running out of breath and clutching his chest because of some heart problem.
  • Because it is like DBY. It made me feel that Why Why Love is uncreative and mediocre.

I’m so full of contradictions. I love it but I hate it. Hah!

Casts:

Rainie Yang as Tong Jia Di: As usual, Rainie is good. She’s funny and she’s willing to do everything to satisfy the directors and make the story good. She’s not afraid to look ugly on screen and very much willing to make herself look like an idiot. No wonder that after her small but memorable stint in Meteor Garden 1 as Shan Cai’s best friend, she became one of the most favored leading actresses in Taiwan. Come to think of it, she even had more drama than Barbie Xu.

Mike He as Huo Da: There’s no doubt that Mike He is good looking and he plays the arrogant type very well. However, I want to comment on his drama scenes. So insincere. He still can’t play dramatic parts well. He’s not good in crying. It looks so fake. But his comic antics are good though.

Kingone Wang as Huo Yan: I like Kingone Wang especially when he is with Rainie. Haha. He looks much better here than in DBY and his role as a general manager suits him well. He has the air of authority. I want to see him in a lead role.

Judy Qiu as Yang Yan Shu: Very stoic and I wasn’t very much impressed with her. Her hairstyle doesn’t look good in her too. I also learned that she was born and raised in Japan, so maybe that’s the reason why I find her way of speaking Chinese weird. Anyway, couldn’t find any pictures, just watch the drama.

The Soundtrack:

Opening theme song is Wo Yao De Shi Jie (The World That I Want) by Kingone. I didn’t know he could sing. I love it. the ending song is Que Yang (Oxygen Deprived) by Rainie Yang. Of course she had to sing. ^,^ Other songs include Welcome to my Heart and Huan Huan Ai (Exchange Love) – yes the title song by Kingone. So happy, so many Kingone songs.

Other Stuff:

Well, aside from the spots in DBY that was used in here, I also found other settings used in other dramas that was used in here. If I’m not mistaken that is.

  • Jia Di’s house was Xiao Mai’s (Angela Zhang) house in Romantic Princess.
  • Huo Da’s house was Yellow’s (Kingone Wang) house in Silence.

Cool ne?

Conclusion:

After reading my “Why I hate it?” statement, don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed watching the series. It’s just that when I sit and think about it, Why Why Love becomes a ridiculous attempt to copy Devil Beside You’s success by incorporating DBY’s characters, actors and elements in the story. But I would still recommend it. For Rainie-Mike shippers, for Rainie-Kingone shippers and for others who just want a feel-good drama (except on the end, that is!)

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Romantic Princess

romantic_princess

Chinese Title: Gong Zhu Xiao Mei


Casts:

Wu Chun as Nan Feng Jin
Angela Zhang as Mai Qiu Sui (Huangfu Shan)
Calvin Chen as Nan Feng Cai
Gu Bao Ming as Huangfu Xiong (EMP)
George Hu as Nan Feng Lin
Li Ang Lin as Nan Feng Ying
Genie Zhuo as Gong Mo Li

The Plot:

Adopted by middle classed parents, Xiao Mai has always had a dream to be an heiress. Who knew that one day this dream would come true. Xiao Mai’s biological grandfather is the head of a prestigous aristocratic family and after many years of searching, he finally finds his long lost granddaughter. As she starts her life as an heiress, everyday is filled with excitement, however, everything seems a bit different from what she had imagined them to be.

credits: dramawiki


IMO:

Yes, another drama by Wu Chun. I watched this drama primarily because of him although it is a drama highly recommended to me by my friends. When I looked it up, I learned that it was another drama adapted from a manga. I also realized that all Wu Chun’s 3 dramas are based from manga. I haven’t seen Tokyo Juliet yet but a friend already lent her DVD to me.

The first few episodes: It was okay. The pacing was just right and the bickering between Wu Chun and Angela is just too cute.

The Twist: It was a twist I already predicted and I was totally right. The middle was getting kinda boring and there’s still more episodes to go. I told Lady about this and she said that there’s going to be a very big twist. Right then I kept on thinking what could that twist be. Maybe I have seen so many dramas before that’s why I guessed it right. There would be someone claiming to be the real granddaughter however this is all planned by Emp. I didn’t like the twist very much. I really thought Emp was insensitive. How could he let his granddaughter go through all those trouble when she learned that she wasn’t the real heiress? Being a maid wasn’t that big of a problem but I pity her for all the emotional suffering she went through.

Third Party: What third party? There’s no third party. I was hoping it would be Calvin. He would be really perfect for the part.

Nan Feng Cai and Gong Mo Li: I didn’t like the pair up of this two. I was so irritated. Haha. Or maybe I was just jealous?

Casts:

Wu Chun as Nan Feng Jin: I think his acting improved and of course, his Mandarin too. He still got that Malay accent but it’s not the same with Hana Kimi. Chun is perfect for the part because he’s handsome and can act really cold. Sometimes he’s still stoic, though. I loved Chun when he smiles and his eyes lit up. And he is really good in flirty scenes. Jeez!

Angela Zhang as Mai Qiu Sui (Huangfu Shan): I really like her in Dolphin Bay. It’s nice to see Angela again. A lot of people don’t like her but I think she’s okay. However, isn’t she too thin? I think she should eat more. I so love her voice.

Calvin Chen as Nan Feng Cai: I know him from Fahrenheit but I never really paid attention to him before. Calvin has few dramas, (I think, only three?) so I really have no idea on how he acts. His portrayal of Nan Feng Cai is quite believable although I didn’t see him flirt with any girls even when they tagged him as a playboy. However, he made feel so confused. I really thought he like Xiao Mai because his actions say so but when they were about to be engaged, there was always doubt in his eyes. I really really like him a lot now. I fell in love with those smiles. He smiled a lot in this drama.

Genie Zhuo as Gong Mo Li: I have never seen someone act so many characters in one drama. Genie Zhuo did that. First, she was the nice and newly-transferred student. Second, she became the bratty and scheming fake granddaughter. Third, she became the spoiled and lovesick girlfriend. She will become totally immersed in her character and the audience will likely to forget what she was once before.

The soundtrack:

Beautiful, beautiful soundtrack. Starting from the very catchy and upbeat opening song, Xin Wo, sang by Fahrenheit and S.H.E. You gotta watch the video. It was really good. And I love Ella and Wu Chun there, reminds me so much of Hana Kimi and of course there’s Hebe and Calvin. The ending song is another beautiful ballad titled Bu Xiang Dong De (I Don’t Want To Understand) sang by Angela Zhang. All of the insert songs are sung by Angela. I was actually hoping there would be a Fahrenheit song aside from Xin Wo. My favorite insert song is Wo Lian Ai Le (I’m in Love). It was also upbeat and very catchy. Another is Neng Bu Neng Yong Gan Shuo Ai (Can you Bravely Say Love) and Le Yuan (Paradise). And of course, Angela Zhang has to sing an English song. Remember that beautiful Journey from Dolphin Bay? In here she had her own rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Aside from the songs, I also love all the classical music they played as a background. It made me remember Nodame and the more I fell in love with the series.

The Ending:

It’s kinda blah for me because I was expecting something else. I mean, after all those things they went through, I think they deserved a better ending than that.

Conclusion:

Would I recommend this? Yeah, of course I would. Not only to Wu Chun fans but also to anybody who love romantic comedies. Of course, the show is not perfect. It has its dragging parts but overall it was good to watch. Not too much drama and Wu Chun and Calvin are definitely eye-candies. ^,^

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