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Dancing Serpent

Germany

Dancing Serpent

Germany
Completed
Day Breaker
13 people found this review helpful
Jun 6, 2022
24 of 24 episodes seen
Completed 2
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 10

Dark but Good

So, I just finished watching this drama, and I really liked it. Honestly, to me it was close to perfect, if not for one character specific gripe. But I'll get to that later.

First of all, a warning for the faint-hearted. There's a lot of crime and violence on screen in Day Breaker, sometimes pretty graphic. It's not something I've come to expect when watching c-dramas. It fits the theme, of course. In the world of drug lords, there's lots of deaths, torture, human trafficking, police corruption, and so on. Day Breaker sometimes blends away from the actual action and only shows us the aftermath, but when you have the blown up remains of a human being shown on your screen, that can already be enough. So, better prepare yourself for that.

It makes sense then, that this drama doesn't actually take place in China, but in the fictional Hua City, that's supposedly somewhere in Thailand. Not that they actually say that out loud, but all the writing is in what looks like Thai writing, and the currency they use is Baht. But the regulators wouldn't have allowed the depiction of corrupted police officers in a modern drama otherwise. China is even called, and I quote from the drama: "A safe place, where there are no drugs."

What I like about this drama is the story telling and the characters. The plot is heavy and complicated, and the scenes are put together in a way that makes it difficult to turn your face away from the screen. 30 seconds of distraction can make you miss a vital piece of information. And I love the way information is doled out to the viewers. With every episode, we're given a finite number of puzzle pieces that only reveal a picture in the second half of the drama. And even once you have the beginnings of said picture, it's not quite clear what it actually is showing.

Don't worry, though. All the pieces will come together at some point, and all your questions will be answered. You won't get a final summary, though. I kinda liked that - that means the viewers are treated as intelligent people who can remember names and clues and happenings during those 24 episodes. But it also means this isn't a drama you should take your time watching, because you might forget certain things along the way. Well, unless you'll take copious notes. *g*

Most of the characters are fantastic. Pretty much everybody has more than one identity, and today's friend might be tomorrow's enemy, and vice versa. And all of that might change again. Information about characters' pasts, goals, and motivations gets doled out in the same fashion as the other clues, so you're kept wondering about two of them specifically for a long time. But in the end, everything will come together.

Special shout out to Li Yifeng and his character Chen Mo/Luo Xiang. His is the most complicated part. Playing a henchman to a drug lord, while being an undercover police officer, then playing a down on his luck taxi driver who is still an undercover agent, waiting to be re-recruited to play his former undercover identity, only to make everybody believe that he is actually that taxi driver who saw his chance at a better life and now pretends to be the dead undercover agent - yes, it gets complicated.

Chen Mo/Luo Xiang was very convincing at trying to toe the line between making all the drug lords believe he's one of them, while trying to commit as few crimes as possible and keep to being a police officer. He's shown as being very intelligent and knowledgeable, as a great tactical thinker, and as a compassionate human being.

Last of all, poor Song Yi. Her character could have been really great, but sadly, turned out to be kinda wasted and underused. Not going to say more about that, but she was the reason I didn't give this a 10/10.

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Completed
The Glory of Youth
7 people found this review helpful
Aug 29, 2021
49 of 49 episodes seen
Completed 2
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10

Surprise Hit!

First of all, the propaganda. Yes, it's there. But when I compare it to many American cop/crime procedurals (NCIS or NCIS LA in particular come to mind), both patriotism and military propaganda are quite moderate. Surprisingly so, especially for a military sponsored drama. If you don't mind it in said procedurals, you should be fine with it in The Glory of Youth.

Even the title is misleading. Did it make you think of young people performing heroic deeds? Yeah, me too. But instead it refers to the chances and possibilities that come with being young and having the time and means to choose one's path in life.

This is a very character driven drama. Apart from the four main recruits, we follow the squad leaders, the company commander and his instructor, the brigade commander and his political officer, and many more. They are well rounded characters, not two dimensional templates, and the drama gives us time to get to know, learn to like, and understand them.

Conflict is mostly about clashing values and different personality types. That doesn't mean that this drama is boring, or that there's no action. But instead of creating a fictional enemy country or terrorist, we get different brigades competing against each other in training drills, or things like industrial espionage, or natural disasters.

Last but not least, yes, most of the cast is male. There are several female characters, but they don't have much screentime. This probably reflects reality for the Rocket Force, and it doesn't go unaddressed in the drama, beginning with finding a private living space and bathroom for a female doctor, to some characters dealing with their prejudice towards her chosen field of study (psychology). And so much more.

Originally, I started watching solely for Li Yifeng, but for me, this drama was the surprise success of the year (so far). Story, acting, and music were really good. I liked it so much, I started watching from the beginning again right after I finished the first time. :-)

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