Shan Cai, whose parents are far from wealthy, attends Ying De University, the private school established exclusively for rich students. Besides being looked down by rich classmates, she has angered the leader of F4, Dao Ming Si. F4 comprises of Dao Ming Si, Hua Ze Lei, Xi Men, and Mei Zuo, who are the heirs to the four richest families. Their families are the founder of the school and nobody dares to cross them. Shan Cai isn't afraid to stand up to DMS, an act that nobody has done before, and sparks Dao Ming Si's interest in her. However, his constant torture of her has made her miserable while she falls in love with the gentle Hua Ze Lei, who comes to her rescue. Can Dao Ming Si win her love despite his cold and cruel exterior? What happens when his mother decides to use every trick there is to keep them apart? Can they adjust to each other's differences due to their vastly incompatible social status? (Source: DramaWiki) ~~ Adapted from the manga “Hana Yori Dango” (花より男子) by Kamio Yoko (神尾葉子). ~~ Three versions available: 19 eps (TV) || 27 eps (international) || 29 eps (online) Edit Translation
Cast & Credits
But back in 2001, it was bold and different and unlike any other series that came out in Asia. It was fresh and really hip. The F4 was cool and trendy with their hair and outfits. It was the usual Cinderella storyline, but it was done in a funny and heartwarming way that managed to endear most of my friends and family and literally, it stopped time back in the days. It was a phenomenal series. It literally stopped traffic and launched a "Meteor Fever". We had to go home in the afternoon early just to watch this show on television. Streaming wasn't available then. A lot of people fell in love with Shan Cai and Dao Ming Xi's love story, and how they fought against all odds to be together! The F4 characters alongside Shan Cai's friends were a good supporting cast and Dao Ming Xi's mother was convincing with her portrayal as the villain to the relationship. Dao Ming Xi's transformation from a spoiled, rich brat to a caring boyfriend was something to watch for, and gave us all the "feels"! Buckets of tears were shed.
Looking back, I was watching old clips of this series, and yes it felt like a trip back to nostalgia lane! Yes, I agree that Meteor Garden looks dated, fashion-wise and production wise. It paled in comparison to the drama series of the current. But, nothing can take back the memories! This series has spawned two popular remakes which had become huge hits as well. Lee Min Ho's Jong Pyo was made to look like Jerry Yan's character too, I've noticed and now he is such a popular star. I might be biased with this one, but this first and original version is always the best! :)
Fact is, for once I've decided to write a review which is very personal and not at all objective. It's based upon the emotions it gave me, not the cinematographic quality of the drama.
Also, I think it's necessary to say that among the 3 versions of the same story, this was the last I watched, despite its being the first live-action based on the popular manga.
And while I consider the Japanese version the best one regarding acting and music and the Korean one better in terms of photography, colours and characterization, I'm ready to face criticism and admit that the Taiwanese version was the most satisfying to me on a romantic level.
The chemistry between Shan Cai and Dao Ming Si is what makes this into a worth watching show. For the first time, I was not rooting for the heroine to end up with the second lead, but for the main couple to finally be together. While watching hana Yori Dango and Boys Before Flowers I found myself constantly thinking: throw that arrogant brat away and choose Rui, or Ji Hoo!
You are allowed to laugh.
I ascribe this to the actors and the way their interactions were portrayed.
While Shan Cai can be annoying at times, she is a consistent character and once she finally realizes who she loves - it takes her some time - she is truly convincing. The same can be said about Dao Ming Si, whose candour as a besotted lover is quite endearing.
Therefore, although I recognize this show is pretty cheap when it comes to costumes, screenshots, photography and overall acting, I still have a fond memory of it and will probably rewatch it in the future.