Review: Summer’s Desire (2018)

Summer's Desire 2018

I’m so disappointed – I was really looking forward to the Summer’s Desire remake, since I recall enjoying the angsty 2010 drama version. However, while initially the storyline changes/additions seemed promising initially, the drama overall was too problematic. (Also, why is this poster/promotional image so sweet looking… so misleading!!)

summers-desire

Here’s a quick spoiler-free run-through of my issues with the Summer’s Desire remake:

  • The two male lead characters, Ou Chen and Luo Xi, are both appallingly controlling and manipulative, while the female lead character Xia Mo’s feelings never seem clear.
  • The story takes a turn in the last ~5 episodes that seems way too rushed and sudden, and spends too much time on certain storylines in the beginning.
  • Some of the conflicts with side characters weren’t adequately developed or resolved.

If you’re just curious about the ending, I recapped it here: Summer’s Desire Ending Recap

I liked the OST though – the songs are still stuck in my head. I liked Sophie Zhang as Xia Mo and Qin Jun Jie as Ou Chen. Huang Sheng Chi seemed a little too young for Luo Xi though and just can’t compare to Huang Xiao Ming from the original drama version.

***SPOILERS FOLLOW***

Continue Reading

First Impressions: Here to Heart (2018)

here-to-heartChinese Name: 温暖的弦
Brief Summary: Wen Nuan (Janine Chang) broke Nan Xian’s (Zhang Han) heart seven years ago. She returns from abroad and takes a job at Nan Xian’s company and gets promoted to his assistant. Meanwhile, they both have a fake significant other…

I am on episode 20 and I am not only frustrated by this drama but also infuriated. I was looking forward to this because I like the two leads, Janine Chang and Zhang Han, but the pacing is awful, the story is underdeveloped, and some of the characters are unbearable. Here are my rants, which are as spoiler-free as possible.

1) Nan Xian (Zhang Han) treats Wen Nuan (Janine Chang) coldly and cruelly. He manipulates and schemes. He is unbelievably petty. I understand that she broke his heart and he’s still not over it, but all he does is play mind games. He clearly must be smart to have become so successful – so why can’t he consider the possibility that Wen Nuan had a good reason for breaking up with him? Especially since A) she returns and works as his assistant, and B) she’s cleary changed from the vibrant girl he once knew.

2) Wen Nuan’s actions are also excruciating to watch. She’s such a passive character and constantly puts herself in the position to be hurt by Nan Xian. There are so many times when I wanted to yell at her to just quit. The worst is when Nan Xian puts her in the middle of his vendetta against Lin Lu (and I’ll get to him later). She clearly still has feelings for Nan Xian so the way I see it, she could either stay far away from him or try to make peace with him. Instead, from the start they just don’t talk about anything so they’re continually stuck in the same place.

3) In episode 20, we still have no idea why Nan Xian and Wen Nuan broke up. Since there are a whopping 46 episodes, I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised, but come on – give us a reason to root for the leads!

4) Initially, Lin Lu wasn’t much to root for either but as the drama has progressed, he’s definitely come through as the better man. He’s a good friend to Wen Nuan and he’s good to his parents. (His scenes with Wen Rou, Wen Nuan’s sister, are actually really endearing. I really enjoy their friendship.) Even though he makes mistakes, his heart is in the right place. He has never tried to hurt Wen Nuan deliberately, unlike *somebody*. I feel bad for him, and with 26 episodes to go, I hope he doesn’t turn into a villainous character because that would be the last straw.

5) Yi Xin is so obnoxious, and the flashbacks both made me despise her and feel bad for her. She schemes as much as Nan Xian so they deserve each other, but we know she’s not going to end up with Nan Xian and it’s really his fault for leading her on (and using her to torture Wen Nuan). Also, Pan Wei Ning’s relentless devotion for her is so random and annoying.

6) Why are there so many flashbacks?! The ones from seven years ago add value, but the ones from 15 minutes earlier in the episode are so unnecessary. We didn’t get amnesia in the past 15 minutes (but I kind of wish I did so I could forget this drama).

7) Wen Nuan’s sleep-calls were referenced a couple times early on and then never again. What does it mean? Is it important???

I do not recommend this drama at all, but I did see someone say that if you start at episode 29 it’s watchable so if I make it that far, I will report back.

Continue Reading

Love & Life & Lie: Episode 1 Recap

Alright, I will give recapping a try! Love & Life & Lie is a 2017 Chinese drama starring Zhen Dong Yu (Sparrow) and Chen Xiao (Romance of the Condor Heroes). We’ll see if I can make it through all 41 episodes.

Ep1-1
Love & Life & Lie begins with our female lead, Xin Tong, taking on three students at a taekwando class. It turns out, she’s not a student here but a delivery person who makes regular deliveries to this class. She gave up going to college to support her mother by working part-time jobs, but sneaks in to classes when she can.

Ep1-2
Xin Tong stops by to see her mother, and we see that she is kind and caring. Her mother feels guilty that Xin Tong has given up college, but Xin Tong is positive and cheerful. She seems like a character we can root for.

Continue Reading

Review: Love & Life & Lie (2017)

lovelifelieChinese Name: 遇见爱情的利先生
Episodes: 41
Quick Summary: Liu Xin Tong (Zhou Dong Yu) is a kind-hearted, hardworking girl who foregoes college to help support her mother. When her life intersects with the family of wealthy businessman Ji Bai Jun by chance, her mother gets a job at their home and they move in. She meets Li Yao Nan (Chen Xiao), and they fall in love, but he happens to be the fiance of Ji Bai Jun’s daughter, the spoiled Ji Zhi Zhen (Ye Qing), who hates Xin Tong and her mother. Ji Zhi Zhen’s adopted brother, Ji Zhen Yu, also falls for Xin Tong, while Yao Nan’s younger half-brother has been secretly plotting…
Stream It: Viki
Recommendation: Watch it if you’re into melodrama?

Ok, Love & Life & Lie seemed promising in the beginning – the cast was appealing and Xin Tong is a very likable character. She’s the classic selfless, hardworking girl, but also knows how to stand up for herself. I loved her cousin Shan Shan, who was a true friend to her. I confess, I skimmed through the first half of the drama and watched all of the last half. There were a lot of villains in this drama, which made this a very tumultuous watch. I can’t 100% recommend it because I was SO frustrated constantly, but you could do a lot worse.

Zhou Dong Yu (Xin Tong, the female lead) was fantastic, while Chen Xiao (Yao Nan, the male lead) was cute but had questionable acting skills. Ye Qing was Guo Guo in Across the Ocean to See You, so clearly she can play spoiled, bratty characters, but I’d love to see her as the lead sometime soon!

***SPOILERS FOLLOW***

Continue Reading

Review: Boss & Me (2014)

Boss and Me 1Chinese Name: 杉杉来了
Episodes: 34
Quick Summary: Xue Shan Shan’s (Zhao Li Ying) rare blood type brings her into the life of her boss, Feng Teng (Zhang Han), whose sister also has the same blood type. (I’d rather not give any other details away!)
Recommendation: Watch it!

I read a review of Boss & Me that said it was really cute, and it was right! Boss & Me was so sweet that I don’t know how it’s taken me so long to discover it. The greatest strength of Boss & Me is that it won’t piss you off. After Royal Sister Returns, I was not about any ridiculous, overdramatic storylines, and Boss & Me delivered. I loved all the main characters. Even the “villainous” characters were not entirely awful.

I loved that Shan Shan wasn’t the brightest, but she worked hard, had a positive attitude, and stayed true to herself. Even in the crucial plot moments, I found her very reasonable and not over-the-top in her reactions. Zhao Li Ying is seriously adorable. Zhang Han is just okay, and I didn’t particularly love Feng Teng, but he was acceptable.

***SPOILERS FOLLOW***

Continue Reading

Review: Royal Sister Returns (2017)

royal-sister-returns-chinese-2017Chinese Name: 御姐归来
Episodes: 36
Quick Summary: Ai Mi Er (Ady An) is the sole heir to EMT Group. When her father tries to force her to marry as a business alliance, Ai Mi Er runs away to search for the ex-boyfriend who disappeared without a word several years ago and unknowingly ends up working for the younger brother (Zhu Yi Long) of her intended fiance.
Stream It: haven’t seen this with English subs anywhere
Recommendation: Watch it until episode 27

**Don’t worry, spoilers will be clearly marked.**

The 2009 Taiwanese drama Autumn’s Concerto starring Ady An and Van Ness Wu is one of my all-time favorites. Ady An was fantastic in that drama, and I’ve always hoped that she would do another modern drama so I was really excited when I heard about Royal Sister Returns. I couldn’t find it with English subtitles anywhere so I gave up and just watched it without subs.

Royal Sister Returns starts off very promisingly – sure, you have some over-the-top dramatic elements (for example, Ai Mi Er’s security detail) and some terribly annoying characters (the villains), but it’s a Chinese drama. That’s to be expected. The great thing was that both lead characters, Ai Mi Er and He Kai Xin (does anyone really name their child this?!), are both likable and funny, especially together. He Kai Xin’s friends are also absolutely hilarious. Even though I found He Yi Kun and Qing Qing’s storyline boring, I still appreciated it. However, ultimately Royal Sister Returns is ruined by a series of utterly ridiculous and cliched plot lines. I wish the drama had resolved and ended after episode 27. The final episode was especially awful.

Also, I just realized that the actress who plays Qing Qing was Su Jin in Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms (aka Eternal Love). And the actor who plays Fang Ge was Manager Bai from Ode to Joy?

***SPOILERS FOLLOW***

Continue Reading

First Impressions: The Fox’s Summer (2017)

foxs-summerChinese Name: 狐狸的夏天
Brief Summary: Gu Cheng Ze (Jiang Chao) is the adopted son of the Gu family and president of the family’s company. In order to motivate Gu Jin Yun, the lazy, partying Gu family heir, he hires the girl who broke his heart seven years ago, Li Yan Shu (Tan Song Yun).
Stream It: YouTube

I’m really enjoying The Fox’s Summer! Li Yan Shu is hotheaded and sly, but also talented and hardworking, and the more you learn about her past, the more you like her. Gu Cheng Ze is your classic smart and motivated but unfeeling CEO. I’m sure you can tell where this is going. And yet, even as I’m about 11 or 12 episodes into this drama (I’ve been watching episode after episode so I’ve lost track of which one I’m on), I can’t help but think I would have also loved this drama if it had gone in the other direction. My next thoughts are spoiler-ey though so…

Continue Reading

Review: Pretty Li Hui Zhen (2017)

pretty-li-hui-zhen

Chinese Name: 漂亮的李慧珍
Brief Summary: Bai Hao Yu (Peter Sheng) returns to China to reconnect with his childhood friend Li Hui Zhen (Dilmurat Dilraba), but mistakes her best friend Xia Qiao (Sierra Li) for her. Embarrassed that she is no longer as pretty as Bai Hao Yu remembers, Li Hui Zhen begs her friend to pretend to be her and meet with him once to give their friendship closure. However, after struggling to find a job, Li Hui Zhen receives a coveted internship only to discover that her boss is Bai Hao Yu.
Stream It: Viki
Recommendation: Skip It and Watch the Korean Version

I really liked the original Korean version, She Was Pretty, so I was really excited to watch the Chinese remake. However, at 40 episodes, Pretty Li Hui Zhen was just not worth it. Maybe if it had been 20 episodes I would have recommended it.

Dilmurat Dilraba‘s Li Hui Zhen is very, very quirky but rather than being annoying, actually grew on me. She has a kind heart and tends to be pretty meek, but the moments in which she speaks up for herself are glorious. It’s Peter Sheng as Bai Hao Yu that I felt was the most lacking. He’s stone cold with no emotions for almost the entire drama. I never felt a connection between him and Li Hui Zhen and instead it felt like he was simply clinging to his memories. The flashbacks of them as children were the highlights of their relationship. I only knew what he was feeling because of his phone calls with his friend.

Also, can I just say that I have been seeing Zhang Bin Bin (aka Vin Zhang) a lot recently?! He was charming and funny in Pretty Li Hui Zhen and I thought he was well-cast. I was just thinking that he was overdue for a leading role and I see that he’s starring in a period drama with Dilmurat Dilraba!! Perhaps I’ll write a post dedicated to him soon.

Spoilers follow.

Continue Reading

Review: Love O2O, aka Just One Smile Is Very Alluring (2016)

loveo2oChinese Name: 微微一笑很倾城
Quick Summary: Bei Wei Wei (Zheng Shuang) is the beauty of the computer science department whose skillful online gaming abilities catch the attention of Xiao Nai (Yang Yang), who is not only smart and athletic but also the most popular guy on campus.
Stream It: DramaFever
Recommendation: Give It A Try

I know this drama was extremely popular and people rave about it, and I did watch it all, but I’m sorry to say I did not love it. I still recommend that it be given a try since so many people did love it.

I liked the uniqueness of the drama centering around an online game, that the female lead was not just beautiful but also smart, and that there wasn’t any ridiculously drama plotlines. Both characters were also surrounded by a strong group of friends and I enjoyed these characters a lot.

However, there are just so many times when we hear a lot of thoughts that in Wei Wei’s head but she doesn’t say them out loud. So in reality, she’s said like three words. But that’s nothing compared to Xiao Nai, who sometimes doesn’t even say anything at all! This just drove me crazy. But I guess it’s better than two main characters who never stop talking about dumb things.

Continue Reading

Review: Love Me, If You Dare (2016)

Chinese Name: 他来了,请闭眼
Summary: Jenny (Ma Si Chun) takes a translating job for Simon (Wallace Huo), a criminal psychologist who has recently returned from the U.S. As he begins to assist the police on cases, her role grows into assisting him, and they fall in love. (I know, this is a short summary but I’d rather give less away!)
Number of Episodes: 24
Stream It: Viki

Quick Thoughts: This felt like a mix of the BBC/PBS series Sherlock and the CBS show Criminal Minds so if you like either of those, definitely give this a try. The cast and characters were very strong and compelling – I especially appreciated that Jenny wasn’t weak and useless. The cases were serious and sometimes gruesome, and really made the series riveting.

Continue Reading