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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


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


To Watch:
Beauties of the Tang Palace 1-35

Cast (from Drama-wiki):
Zhang Ting as Wu Mei Niang
Li Xiao Lu as Helan Xin Er
Ming Dao as Ming Chong Yan / Ming Yi
Mickey He as Pei Shao Qing
Zheng Guo Lin as Li Zhi
Lv Jia Rong as Yu Qi Lin

Zhou Mu Yin as Wang Ni Jun
Zhang Chen Guang as Zhangsun Wu Ji
Li Sha as Yang Nu Shi
Wang Li Kun as Bai He
Deng Sha as Zhangsun Ping Ting
He Sai Fei as Lin Xue Yi
Catherine Hung as Miao Feng Niang
Chi Li Jing (迟立静) as Fang Ling Su
Chen Ha Ni (陈哈尼) as Ai Jin Lian
Ye Si Miao as Jin Qiao Yu
Xiong Nai Jin as Li Ruo
Liu Jia Yuan (刘佳媛) as Le Nu
Ren Xue Hai (任学海) as Empress Wang’s father
Liu Fang as Hong Xiu
Ma Wen Long as Yuan Xiu
Luo Jin as Ji Da Peng (cameo, ep.1)

Tong Li Ya as Qing Cheng
Cao Xi Wen as Xiao Wan Wan
Huang Hai Bing as Li Shi Min
Guo Zhen Ni as Empress Zhangsun
Zhang Meng as Xuan Yu
Bai Shan as Ming Zhu
Miao Luo Yi as Princess Cai Yu (ep.19)
Dong Hui as Yuan Chun Yu

Yang Mi as Qing Luan
Gao Yang as Princess Cai Die (Ying Cai Die)
Gao Hao as Shangguan Hao
He Yan Ni (何彦霓) as Shangguan Yun Er
Deng Xi Bin (邓细斌) as Khan
Cheng Yi (成毅) as Feng Xiao Bao
Yang Sheng Wen (杨圣文) as Wang Mei Ren
He Xian Da (何显达) as Luo Bin Wang
Jiang Yi Yi as Xiao Xin Er 

Genre:
Historical, Romance, Mystery

Plot:

The story follows the ordeals of four main characters: Xin Er, Ming Chong Yan, Pei Shao Qing, and Yu Qi Lin. The stories of palace intrigue are tied in closely with the scheming and betrayal in the Tang Palace. The Emperor and his most favored Empress Wu Mei Niang are some of the most powerful players. The Palace guards, the servants, the eunuchs, the concubines, and even court officials play the dangerous game.

Xin Er enters the palace as a lowly servant to help investigate the murder of Wu Mei Niang’s daughter. As one case is solved more take their place, and as each mystery is un-rooted, romance and grudges bloom among our heroes and each moves higher up in the palace.

Review: (Possible Spoilers)
I started watching this drama because I was a bit bored after work (staying at a hotel). I thought the first few episodes were very well put together. The twists and turns in the plot, the character development, and the intense acting really put me on edge. The music was great, the costumes vibrant, and the action not too fake.

As you may already know, I love characters like Helan XinEr. She is an intelligent young woman who is genuine to her friends and good at heart. Oh why did the drama start out so well with her and suddenly tilt off into monotony during the middle stretch? I feel like the drama could have been so much shorter and so much better. At the end, all of a sudden, Xin Er is revealed to us as a forgotten Princess. This twist was so much better than the other mysteries that occurred during the last half of the drama. They simply overdid the character development. It seemed like every character had some kind of hidden secret. Ming Chong Yan with the hidden evil twin, Yu Qi Lin with her pursuit for the truth of her father’s death, Pei Shao Qing and his over-zealous and love-struck relative, and most of all Xin Er and her hidden princess identity. Everyone in the palace was either a spy, an assassin, or a masked proxy. I would really have loved for the last half of the drama to follow Xin Er as the Queen of her country going head to head against Wu Mei Niang, but then the title of “Tang Palace” would totally not have made sense.

One thing that really irks me in historical dramas is that for many of the main pairings, love almost always occurs at first sight or attraction from superficial beauty. I do admit Ming Chong Yan and Yu Qi Lin did build some chemistry for a believable romantic progression, but Xin Er and Shao Qing’s love story really confused me. He was head over heals at first glance, though I can’t really take this as a negative in the drama since it’s a very typical drama ploy.

The selling point of this drama was the acting and the mystery. For most part, the main characters gave the play by play as they unraveled the mysteries in the palace. Twists occurred at every turn and kept me guessing. Sometimes the culprit was obvious as I watched the heroes and heroines try to solve the cases, but sometimes I’m thrown the obvious but then given a surprise when the true puppeteer is revealed from the shadows. Props to the acting of Wu Mei Niang (Zhang Ting) and the Emperor. They are the hardest characters to read. Trust me they will get you too!

Declaring that the drama was dull could be judging a bit too harshly just because the drama was a bit stretched out. The romance was a bit weak as well but the intrigue will surely addle your brains. The first half kept me on edge which gives a plus and the renaming portion just kept me hanging on. Li Xiao Lu add oil!

Rating:
3.6/5.0


Cast (from dwiki):
Yun Jung Hoon as Min Tae Yeon
Lee Young Ah as Yoo Jung In
Lee Won Jong as Hwang Soon Bum
Kim Joo Young as Choi Dong Man
Kim Ye Jin (김예진) as Soo Hee
Jang Hyun Sung as Jang Chul Oh
Park Jae Hoon as bartender
Kim Eung Soo as Yoo Won Kook

Genre:
Thriller, Mystery, Supernatural

Plot:
Min Tae Yeon is a cool-headed prosecutor who leads a small team of specialists to solve various murders. There is the fiery Yoo Jung In who constantly butt heads with the gangster-like Hwang Soon Bum. To fill out the team is also the capable yet meek Choi Dong Man. There is a slight catch. Min Tae Yeon is actually a vampire who can see the last moments of a victim by tasting the victim’s blood.

One by one the team solves each case successfully, but Min Tae Yeon cannot let go the death of his younger sister. As they solve different crimes, Min Tae Yeon also slowly steps closer to finding his sister’s killer. Each team member has their secrets, how will they all play out in the end. Will the others ever find out that Min Tae Yeon is a vampire? Will the team be able to solve the mystery behind a string of serial murders suspected to be done by a single killer? Will Min Tae Yeon ever find out the his sister’s murderer?

Review:
Vampire Prosecutor did not represent a genre that I was overly interested in. It’s thrilling nature and crime show likeness are not my usual cup of tea, however, one episode of the drama was able to suck me in for the long haul. The mystery, the action, and the character development intertwined nicely to create flow and movement in the entire drama. I never once felt bored while following the series.

The chemistry between Min Tae Yeon’s team was flawless and the overall acting of each element in the drama was superb. Props to the director for creating such feeling in his/her cinematography. The music kept me on the edge of my seat and seemed to pump adrenaline through me every time it came on. The script constantly kept me guessing as to what would happen next and the no end of twists kept me pining for the next episode. The use of effects was not overdone but when they were used they really added to the overall effect of the drama and strengthened important crime scenes and flashbacks.

Really the only drawback I found in this drama was that it ended much too early. The last few episodes seemed to be rushed. I don’t want to create any spoilers here but I found that there was too much information given in the last two episodes that may have been better done over four. Though most of our questions are answered, it seemed as if the film spilled out like tea all over the table after trying to pour too much into just one cup. Before I had time to grasp all the new developments and twists the drama ended. Hopefully they will find some way to create a second season.

Some of you may be interested in any possible romantic aspects of the drama. I admit they were numbered, but not without a certain sweetness. I enjoyed the small actions between Min Tae Yeon and Jung In and saw a very realistic approach to their character development. In fact, throughout the drama we learn a lot about all the main characters as they solve cases but we only get the back stories of Tae Yeon and Jung In. I think if they want to maintain a second season they will need to delve deeper into the past of the rest of the team. One character I definitely would like to learn more about would be the doctor performing autopsys on the victims bodies.

Rating:
4.7/5.0


Cast:
Hu Ge as Xu Ran
Tang Yan as Tang Qi Qi
Roy Qiu as Wei Xiao
Dong Xuan as Feng Lu Fei
Van Fan as Jiang Dong
Qi Wei as Ye Rou
Chang Chih as Cui Da Bing
Yumiko Cheng as Xiong Jia Jie
Liu Hui as Mr. Tang
Li Tao as Jian Dan
Gao Lei as Zhao Ning
Xu Zhen Xi as Zhang Da Yu

Genre:
Drama, Romance

Plot:
Eight years ago Xu Ran watched as his girlfriend died in his arms, his company’s ideas exploited and stolen by a mysterious organization existing only in the shadows. Eight years later Xu Ran is once again at the peak of his career. His mind is as sharp as ever and his ability to think ahead and get things done has made him very successful at his new company. Just at this moment the shadowy organization once again intervenes in his life and threatens to take away all that he has regained. Alongside him in his fight against the mystery organization is Wei Xiao, a seemingly cold-hearted and aloof policeman.

Still unable to forget his ex-girlfriend, Xu Ran meets Tang Qi Qi, a plain and simple girl with no dream and no plans for the future. Her kind and naive personality get her in trouble at her work place and also with random strangers. One of those strangers is Xu Ran, whom Qi Qi finds passed out on the side of a stone path. Thus begins their relationship, which is tested by the appearance of Feng Lu Fei, the daughter of the head of an enormous business empire.

A battle of wits and risks emerges as the different people around Xu Ran try to bring him down, the mysterious organization and also his once good friend Jiang Dong. Will Xu Ran fall in love with the normal and caring Tang Qi Qi or the ambitious princess Lu Fei? Will Xu Ran be pushed off his throne once again and reduced to nothing once again? Who is this mysterious organization and what are their plans?

Review:
I would like to say right off the bat that I enjoyed this drama a lot, but I still found certain elements lacking. The acting was great by most of the cast and the music was great but I felt that the story took a turn for the worse halfway through. The drama started out on a strong footing and got my interest quickly, but I didn’t really like how the story progressed. That is not to say that I did not like this drama. There were some really great parts and there were a lot of different themes covered through the interactions between the characters and also their struggles to get along with each other.

Almost every character in the drama undergoes a huge transformation. Sometimes it is not noticeable but if you think back to the previous episodes you will realize that nearly every major character changed in someway. The story covers great insight into class struggles between the rich and poor, the dreams of the working class, and also importance of making choices and accepting the consequences.

Let me talk a little about the different players in this drama. First off Xu Ran, played by Hu Ge, was a very dynamic character. I did not pay too much attention to him, but it was easy to see that he had to fill a variety of roles, which he accomplished. He is the protagonist of the show and supposedly very intelligent and charismatic, though imperfect in other aspects such as when interacting with others. Tang Qi Qi was the character who worked out for me the least in my mind. I felt her character was a bit unbelievable and many times the things she did or thought seemed a bit too carved out simply to drive the story of the drama. Ye Rou and Wei Xiao were by far some of the best performances in the drama. Roy was able to capture the unique personality of Wei Xiao and Qi Wei also captured Ye Rou perfectly. I felt the two really played the roles that were given to them and had great chemistry as well. The character of Cui Da Bing had the most humorous role of them all. He did a wonderful job as the oppressive superior. The character of Jiang Dong really seemed to grab the essence of the perfect nemesis. Many times I’d try to read into his character and just when I seemed to think he had finally changed for the better I find that he once again slides into his role as the antagonist very well. Quick props to Li Tao and Yumiko for also playing great support roles and helping to set the mood for the whole drama. Li Tao as the secretary Jian Dan really portrayed some of the darkness of human nature, however in the end we find that it is the environment in which they live in that causes them to act as they do.

In conclusion I must say I really did like how the drama started out. There is an abundance of character development and a lot of great scenes, but I felt that the drama lacked a lot in the development between Tang Qi Qi and Xu Ran. The majority of their scenes were probably just misunderstandings or tense feelings. There were not enough moments between the two of them to really let me feel their connection. There is excessive use of alcohol but then again lots of movies and dramas have that. I definitely found the side stories much more engrossing than the overall direction of the drama. About halfway through the primary drive of the story kind of loses its footing and we become lost for a bit. Then all of a sudden the organization comes rumbling in again for the finish line. I think some parts of the drama lost track of proper drive and got caught up in many mini stories.

I recommend that you do check out at least the first third of the drama, and if that leaves you curious as to the ending then by all means finish the drama. If the first few episodes don’t interest you then the last few probably will make you hate the drama.

Rating:
3.9/5.0



Cast:
Takei Emi as Yoshino Nao
Matsuzaka Tori as Yokoyama Aruto
Kaku Kento as Tamaki Makoto
Nagayama Kento as Takeuchi Kazuya
Minami Keisuke as Wajima Go
Ishida Takuya as Hirose Satomi
Furukawa Yuki (古川雄輝) as Kishi Tetsuro
Kanai Yuta as Murai Hajime
Arai Yusuke (新井裕介) as Hirakawa Koji
Nishi Yosuke as Watanabe Shinichiro

Genre:
School, Romance, Drama

Plot:
In Japan, most students take a set of entrance exams in order to apply for High School. Yoshino Nao accidentally shifts the answers on her answer sheet and ends up failing the entrance exam. One of the few schools willing to accept her is almost completely all male students. Yoshino begins her studies at the school and finds everything so unbearable.

“Asuko” is a technical school where students learn a practical trade, in this case metal work and construction. Yoshino finds the work difficult and dangerous but she begins to see underneath the seemingly “messed up” school. Her dream had always been to attend a normal high school, to date freely, to prepare for college exams, and to also have normal girl friends.

In a gripping story of love, camaraderie, and perseverance, not only does Yoshino change but so do the students around her in her homeroom class. When challenges arise in the lives of her classmates, she begins to understand more of the world at “Asuko.” Will Yoshino try to run away from this horrendous school or will she find new meaning in her life?

Review:
I was absolutely enthralled with this drama. It has been quite a long time since I have seen any Japanese drama that could catch my interest like “Asuko March!” did. The story was gripping. It had all the essential elements of a drama: humor, character development, a wide range of emotions, and also a great cast. As I got more into the drama I thought back to the drama Great Teacher Onizuka and felt that there were a few similarities.

The heroine Takei Emi brought out a wonderful performance as high schooler Yoshino Nao. She clearly creates a personality for herself and as the drama progresses we can see the dynamic changes to her character. She matures along her journey to discover her own place at Asuko and also along her journey in learning about her classmates. Her pure-hearted nature causes her to be the victim of bullying but also allows her to gain the trust and love of her classmates. I do admit that Takei Emi has one of the greatest smiles I have ever seen. It is very natural and clearly defines her emotions in particular scenes. We can tell when she is happy, forcibly having a smile, or even when she is embarrassed in front of the boy she loves.

All of the supporting cast were great. They helped to create the mood and pace of the whole drama and really pulled off a stunning performance. The main leads and classmates of Yoshino had really great chemistry with each other and also with the other supporting cast.

I am not a fan of comedy dramas, and at first I thought that this drama would head more in that direction, but boy was I wrong. There was a wide range of feeling to this drama. Scenes made me smile, brought tears to my eyes, or even a quick laugh. I felt sincerity from the drama and I felt that for the most part there was nothing too exaggerated or “cute” as we see in many Japanese dramas.

I highly recommend everyone to give this drama a chance. I learned a lot from watching the interaction between characters and I felt that the messages in this drama were very important in society. I believe that part of the purpose for this drama was to show the more accurate portrayal of the lives of students attending technical high schools.

Rating:
5.0/5.0


Cast (taken from Drama Wiki):
薛凱琪 Fiona Sit as Xiao Wei
陳怡蓉 Chen Yi Rong as Pei Rong
Li Zong Han as Pang Yong
Ling Xiao Su as Wang Sheng
鬼鬼 Gui Gui as Xia Bing
Qi Yu Wu as Long Yun
杨幂 Yang Mi as Xiao Hong

Genre:
Romance, Drama, Historical


Song is quite nice!

Plot:
Set in ancient China, the tale of the Painted Skin narrates the story of a demon, Xiao Wei, who tries to prove that love can be broken and that true love does not exist in the world.

The story begins with an innocent Xiao Wei, though at this time she is not yet called Xiao Wei, and she is snatched in the jaws of a mysterious demon trap. The noble and righteous man Wang Sheng happens to chance upon her in her animal form and decides to free her from the trap, not know that she is a demon. Because he took time to free her from the trap, he is encircled by his father’s guards and escorted back to his wedding. This was the first meeting between Xiao Wei and Wang Sheng and a moment that she will never forget. From this incident, she transforms into a human and begins to wander the world, Wang Sheng always on her mind.

Wang Sheng is commanded by his father to wed the daughter of a noble family, Pei Rong. She is filled with disgust at having to marry into the family but agrees in order to save her family. On that fateful night, mysterious forces raid Wang Sheng’s family as well as the city. A series of events eventually lead Wang Sheng and Pei Rong out of the city, and are joined by the warrior Pang Yong, who is in love with Pei Rong. Not far behind Xiao Wei are a pair of demon hunters, Xia Bing and her master, who befriend her and then part ways.

The tale of the Painted Skin tells us the story of these characters, embroiled by love, loyalty, and grief. Having her heart broken by another demon hunter, Xiao Wei travels the world trying to find the meaning of love and a man who will love her.

Pei Rong and Pang Yong have grown up together since childhood and were decidedly meant to be together, but what will happen when Pei Rong begins to waver and falls for the charismatic and honest Wang Sheng? Xiao Wei desperately seeks love, what will happen when she finds Wang Sheng again? How will she try to steal his love? Will Xia Bing ever be able to exact revenge on Xiao Wei?

Review:
I want to first point out that I was drawn to this drama because of Fiona playing the lead. I’ve never seen her for the seductive type, and so I couldn’t really see her fitting the role of Xiao Wei. Many of you have probably seen the movie Painted skin, filmed a few years earlier with Zhao Wei as Pei Rong and Zhou Xun as the demon. I cannot say I loved the movie but it was intriguing and a decent production, so when I saw the leading cast I was tempted to take a peak.

The drama takes the audience much further in depth into the story. Because I am not exactly sure the source of this story, I can’t say for sure if the added bits were written for the drama or if there were some written source which served as the inspiration for the drama. From the drama we discover the origin of Xiao Wei and also the origin of the love between Pei Rong, Pang Yong, and also Wang Sheng. Elements in the movie which seemed unclear were fully developed in the drama. Because of this, I felt immersed into the story and it seemed everything that happened in the drama had a reason to it.

The drama production was done fairly well. Mainland dramas tend to have very nice sets and costume designs and for Painted Skin there was no exception. The music and mood which was created in the drama was exceptional as well. There were some action scenes in the drama but the effects were somewhat unrefined, though the quality did not really detract from the drama as a whole but the movie definitely had better effects.

According to the drama, the character of Xiao Wei is a very difficult role to play. She needs to reach a wide range of emotions: innocence, bitterness, rage, sadness, seductiveness, love, and many more. I felt Fiona covered some of these well but could not quite reach the full range, however I believe part of the reason that she could not accomplish this was because of the script. A few of her best moments came during her first heart break and a couple other scenes where she has more extreme emotions, but for some reason her attempts at seduction somehow just did not work for me. It is likely that I usually associate her more with the kind girl and sacrificial type that her portrayal of a vixen just could not get through. The other characters were all great. Wang Sheng was acted out uniquely and I could feel his character. I don’t have much to say about Pei Rong as I was not too interested with her character, but her acting did capture the right feelings for her character and was quite believable. For the most part all of the characters, Xia Bing (I did enjoy Sun Li’s character better), Pang Yong, and the others meshed together quite nicely.

The story itself was fairly solid. I enjoyed the back stories and the incidents which led up to the movie version. The writing in the script felt a bit lacking. I found certain scenes very odd and unbelievable for example the love between Xiao Wei and one of the young demon hunters. I did end up skipping through many scenes in the latter episodes in my impatience to find how the drama decided to interpret the ending of the story as compared to the movie. I found it to be quite abrupt, though quite touching all the same.

All in all, I must say that there were a couple enjoyable parts in the drama but none which brought me to tears. If you are interested in a fuller understanding of the events in the movie I highly recommend that you take a peak into the drama for the first few episodes and even the last two or three episodes. If you are a fan of Fiona you may find this drama quite nice but for the avid drama watcher I think you are best off finding some alternative. I admit this drama was a bit stretched, the effects quite rudimentary, and Fiona’s hairstyle quite unbecoming. I really do love Fiona as an actress, but she just does not fit fully into the role of the demon Xiao Wei, whether it be her looks or even just her portrayal of Xiao Wei.

Rating:
4.0/5.0

Chinese Stream Link:
Watch Hua Pi Here

Song Link:
Fiona Sit – August Girl (includes Wei Ai)