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Archive for August, 2012


To Watch:
Episode 1

Cast:
Lee Da Hae as Xiao Xia
Joe Cheng as Chen Hao Feng
Anna Fang as Lin Xiao Xiao
Li Yi Feng as Chen Li Yang

Genre: 
Romance, Food, Family

Plot:
Xiao Xia lives alone with her nephew Yang Guang, struggling to get through each day working numerous odd jobs just to keep the rent paid and food on the table. All of a sudden, Xiao Xia’s bag is stolen and the rent for their apartment increases too much for Xiao Xia to afford. In just one night Xiao Xia and Yang Guang are forced to pack up and move once more. She calls a real-estate agent to help her find a cheap place to live in a day. Instead, he offers her a free place to stay if she can pretend to be his girlfriend for a day. With no other path to take, Xiao Xia agrees, however, the lie spins out of control and she is forced to stay at his family’s restaurant. There she meets his two younger brothers Chen Li Yang and Chen Hao Feng, and also his father. Love blooms, old enemies of the Chen family return, and also old loves return.

Both Li Yang and Hao Feng fall for Xiao Xia, how will this play out in the end, who will Xiao Xia choose? Will the Chen family be able to hold onto the true spirit of their generation old restaurant? It turns out Xiao Xia has a talent for cooking, how will she become a part of the Chen family?

This is a story of family, a story of love without boundaries, and a story of decades long misunderstandings.

Review:
One word to describe this drama: Amazing. Personally I was very surprised to see this drama pop up on Sugoi. Lately there has been a slight craze of Korean actors and actresses splashing into the Taiwan small screen such as Fondant Garden and Absolute Boyfriend (Taiwan version). When I saw Lee Da Hae appear in a Taiwanese drama, I was a bit skeptical at first. Honestly I have not been following much of her work in South Korea, but after hearing how she dropped out of East of Eden my impression of her fell ever so slightly.

The first episode dropped me in for the long haul. Reflecting back now, I don’t think I saw anything significant to rant about. The story line was a bit on the unrealistic side but not enough to detract from the overall experience. Just like any normal Taiwanese drama, it stressed the family theme very strongly. The music was great, I enjoyed many of the songs.

Lee Da Hae plays the mold of my favorite heroine. For most of the drama I really loved her character, though near the end I felt the writers didn’t let her grow as much as a character should in a drama of 34/35 episodes. One of the most memorable parts of the drama was Lee Da Hae’s facial expressions. I thought they were very dynamic, expressive, and defining. She really created a character who came alive on screen and you could get her emotions from just her expressions. Joe Cheng played the stoic and serious Hao Feng. I think he made a good performance for most of the drama, however, I felt like he lost it a little during the last few episodes. His expressions were a bit too stiff and unreadable, contrary to his early showings. He made a good transition from someone who was cold and condemning into a warm-hearted person. The characters of Li Yang, Xiao Xiao, and also the Chen father were all very nice additions to the cast. I did however find Li Yang’s character to be quite annoying at some times (as if I wanted to bang my head on the table). I think the writers did a little un-needed overdrive on his character on the romantic front, but it was not extremely coarse.

My final feelings on this Ai De Mi Fang is that it was very touching in many of the early episodes and it also felt like it captured many elements of a good drama. There were just enough characters to keep it interesting and the acting was very decent. Probably one of the elements that most people would have an issue with would be the dubbing of Lee Da Hae. I for one did not find the dubbing to be distracting or terrible. In fact, I barely noticed it at all unless I specifically paid attention to her mouth. Often times mainland dramas will dub over their mandarin speaking cast with different voices and completely ruin a good drama. In the case of this drama I felt it did not ruin anything at all.

+1 in my book for Lee Da Hae. If you enjoy an emotional yet uplifting drama I really recommend you watch this one, at least the beginning.

Rating:
4.7/5.0

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To Watch:

Episode 1

Cast: (From Drama Wiki)

Cecilia Han as Cheng Hua
Jiang Yi as Shao Jun
Yu Na as An Li Na
Hu Bing as Song Yao
Kingdom Yuen as An Li Na’s mother
He Qiang (贺镪) as An Da Wei (An Li Na’s father)
Li Lan Di (李兰迪) as An Qi
Teresa Mak as Fan Yu
Ken Lok as An Ya Kang
Rong Rong (荣蓉) as Fan Yu’s mother
Zhu Wei Wei (朱薇薇) as Cheng Hua’s mother
Gong Fang Min (公方敏) as Cheng Hua’s father
Lu Yu Lin (陆昱霖) as Cheng Yong
Wang Dao as Shao Jun’s father
Jiang Zhu Qing (蒋竹青) as Shao Jun’s mother
Zhou Jun Yan (周均谚) as Lin Bei Bei
Mu Ting Ting as Mei Mei
Zhu Zi Yan (朱子岩) as Gao Hong

Genre:

Romance, drama, family

Plot:

Because of an incident between two families, a mother is torn from an alcoholic father and young son (Shao Jun).  Shao Jun grows up filled with hate against his mother for abandoning him and also the poverty of his background.  To exact his revenge he can even marry his enemy’s daughter (Cheng Hua) in order to destroy their family business and break her heart.  Disaster after disaster befalls the Cheng family, but no matter what Shao Jun can think of to hurt Cheng Hua, she still believes in him.  She will do anything to try and regain his love.  To raise himself in society, Shao Jun marries into the wealthy An family.

The stories of three families: An family, Cheng family, and the Shao family all become meshed together as the truth is revealed.  Will Shao Jun come to realize Cheng Hua’s genuine heart and return to her or will he truly fall in love with the An family’s An Qi?  What will happen when Cheng Hua discovers the truth behind Shao Jun’s actions?  What will happen when a kind-hearted and talented director Song Yao appears on the scene with a history with An Qi?  Will forgiveness ever come between all three families?

Review : 

I was first drawn to this drama because of the appearance of Han Xue (Cecilia Han).  I first watched her drama 明天我不是羔羊 and loved it superbly.

Let me be honest.  When I started watching this drama, something seemed off right away.  Cheng Hua’s acting knocked me right off my chair and the story-line and script just seemed to be scratching on a chalkboard.  I don’t want to flat out say that this was a terrible drama don’t get me wrong.  There are many points worth discussing but on a bigger picture, I felt like I wasted my time.

The script was unbelievably rocked out of proportion.  Coincidences really can only occur so many times, and yet it seemed the whole plot-line was driven by lucky eavesdropping, coincidental sightings, one out of a million chance misunderstandings, and also lottery statistic impossibilities.  The story seemed more driven by a string of chance encounters rather then actual plot and character development.  Every misunderstanding possible can be found in this drama.  The other element of this drama that really got me was Cheng Hua’s character.  Whether it was the director’s intention or simply Han Xue’s portrayal, I felt like her character was much too innocent and much too naive to be consistent with her latter character.  We find that she is resourceful, intelligent, and ambitious; but all these traits seem almost non-existent when she was trying to bring Shao Jun back to her side.  Her decisions, her thoughts, and her interactions with other characters especially during her time living with the An family, are all much too unrealistic.  Her character is supposed to be innocent and thoughtful, however, her actions in the An household prove the opposite.  Her presence causes the greatest pain and suffering and yet she is undeterred?  Perhaps the director and writer wanted to imply her genuine and deep love for Shao Jun but I feel like they created inconsistency in her character and actually made her seem more of an antagonist instead of a pure-hearted and victimized protagonist.

The music was great.  The supporting cast was also very nicely put together.  Lin Bei Bei and Fan Yu were some of the more memorable characters with great supporting performances.  Their acting and portrayal of their characters brought much more empathy and emotion out.  If Shao Jun’s goal was to be a semi-lunatic and cold-hearted antagonist, then he duly succeeded in being evil.  Song Yao also succeeded in being the affable nice guy however I see a lot of change in his character after he meets Cheng Hua at the club, an almost instantaneous change.  He seemed to have no prior bad feeling toward Cheng Hua even when he was witness to her damage on the An household and also her intimacy with Shao Jun in the parking lot.

No matter how harsh I seem in this review, I’m actually a softy and finished the drama from start to finish.  There is plenty of tear-jerking family drama.  There are definitely elements of a good drama and indeed parts that kept my interest.  The last few episodes seemed to have an over-abundance of couple angst (that dragged through the whole drama) and I couldn’t believe that An Qi could take so much even with all that she knew.

If you have interest in a really crazy drama that almost never quite makes sense, then you can check this one out.  I think if you like some of the main characters you’ll be able to sit through this one.  There are some sad moments, and I do admit, Han Xue does have a killer smile (not quite the happy smile, but definitely the sheepish and shy smile from the heart).  I don’t personally recommend it, however, it is most likely due to my drama preference and also my extreme bias toward really unbelievable plot lines and characters.

Rating:

2.7/5.0

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