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BingerWatcher

In my own world

BingerWatcher

In my own world
Completed
Who Rules the World
174 people found this review helpful
May 15, 2022
40 of 40 episodes seen
Completed 12
Overall 9.5
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.5
This review may contain spoilers

“Like the hawk that soars freely, you reject the shackles."

Hei Fengxi and Bai Fengxi are a fated pair. To the world, they're known as the Hei-Bai Fengxi duo, "Hei" and "Bai" as in black and white. They're each other's greatest rivals, companions and partners in crime but also inseparable like light and shadow. It's hard to describe their relationship with just a few simple words.

"As beautiful as she is lethal." Bai Fengxi is a smart and brave yet carefree heroine who stands in the face of justice. She's a cute glutton when there's good food and a headstrong, cheeky opponent when there's a good fight. Secretly, she's also Princess Feng Xiyun of Qing who's renowned for her intelligence and eloquence.

Hei Fengxi is the embodiment of grace and elegance that's known as a diplomatic and just hero. But underneath that façade, he's extremely cunning and ambitious, just like the endearing nickname "Black Foxy" Bai Fengxi has given him. Like her, he also has a double identity as the Second Prince Feng Lanxi of Yong. From a young age, he was forced to fake illness and learn the ruthlessness of court politics on the path to becoming the royal heir. Hei Fengxi is tough and merciless towards his opponents but incredibly soft-hearted when it comes to his own people, especially Bai Fengxi.

I'm truly in love with the duality of both leads. They're adventurous and playful in the martial arts world, but very dedicated to their royal duties in bringing peace and prosperity to their citizens. There's an unwavering trust and teamwork between Hei and Bai Fengxi that makes them a force to be reckoned with. What's more impressive is that they're both on equal footing where no one side is weaker than the other in talents, martial arts or status. While political schemes and wuxia values do play a major role in the plot, there's a more evident focus on romance.

The chemistry between Yang Yang and Zhao Lusi is so sweet and overwhelming. Admittedly, I didn't know how this couple would pane out in a historical drama but this is way better than any of my wildest dreams. They just click so well together. I can see that both have matured a lot in their acting. Yang Yang has become more experienced with subtle expressions from his role in You Are My Glory, as well as with action scenes from Glory of Special Forces. His background as a contemporary dancer also greatly contributes to the poised and refined portrayal of Hei Fengxi. On the other hand, Zhao Lusi plays the dashing and charismatic Bai Fengxi very well. She's truly badass on so many levels. It's like she has combined the female power from both of her roles in The Romance of Tiger & Rose and The Long Ballad together. Despite the age gap in real life, this pair looks great together on-screen. Though off-screen they're so childish and competitive with each other, it's no wonder Yang Yang said they have the same mental age as a 5-year-old.

This drama also has a very vibrant side cast. Xuan Lu as Feng Qiwu is such a girl crush and I love it when she teams up with Bai Fengxi, total femme fatale style. It's nice to see Wei Wuxian's martial sister kicking up a storm and fighting like a general. The kid playing Han Pu is such a sweetheart. He's a smart little cookie that knows how to bring the vibes. Feng Chang, played by Zhang Tian Yang, is a great older brother. He's protective of Hei Fengxi and really cares for him. Zhang Feng Yi pulls a very convincing act as the sly and cynical King of Yong (Hei Fengxi's father). It's heartbreaking to see Hei Fengxi suffer at his father's callousness.

We can't not talk about the excellent production from the director of none other than Love and Redemption, Ancient Love Poetry and Under the Power. The costumes are absolutely gorgeous and really highlight the duality of the leads. Those high pony tails and headpieces are just chef kiss. The scenery, action scenes and CGI are seamless. I love how Hei Fengxi uses the fan and Bai Fengxi uses her silk ribbon, it's such an effortlessly cool way to fight. Plus, those flying sequences are so satisfying to watch. While the last few episodes do feel a bit rushed, the overall plot remains fairly coherent and easy to follow. As prementioned, it's not supposed to be full-on political, like for say Nirvana in Fire, but emphasises more on the journey of Hei and Bai Fengxi as they traverse the world and discover what is truly the most important in life. Admittedly, there've been a few controversies and problems with the production crew towards the later part of filming, but this drama has turned out to be a fine one so all credits to the cast and staffs.

The OSTs are very complementary as well. Unparalleled (无双) by Liu Yuning is so empowering and intense. Except it's a bit strange to hear from Zhao Lusi's lover in The Long Ballad, if you get what I mean. My favourite got to be Breath of Wind (风息) by Tiger Hu and Ye Xuan Qing as it's very fitting for the Hei-Bai Fengxi couple. A Dream Come True (一梦浮生) by Silence Wang is like a sweet love confession. While Like A Dream (如梦) by Sunny is like a bashful reply to that confession. Lastly, Orphan (孤注) by Tan Wei Wei is the emotional song that hits you least expect it.

*If you're confused about the politics and would like some clarifications, CloudA has put together a fantastic background summary in the Discussion forum below.

FAVOURITE QUOTES:

“If I die, no one will know your [Hei Fengxi's] true face. Life will be boring.” Bai Fengxi

“I can hide anything from the world. Yet, I can’t hide anything from you [Bai Fengxi].” Hei Fengxi

“They always say to love until the ocean and earth run dry. We both know that these are just false promises. To me, I only want to hold your [Bai Fengxi's] hand until the end of life.” Hei Fengxi

“I met you [Bai Fengxi] when I just started in the martial arts world. And thanks to you, I saw the kindness of the world. And thanks to your company, I know what true feelings mean. It’s all thanks to you that I gave the world another chance.” Hei Fengxi

“They said sometimes you had to lose one thing in order to gain another. But some things are too painful to be let go. I can’t let go of her [Bai Fengxi] no matter how hard I try… I can let go of all my mortal desire except for this one. I can discard three thousand strands of woes but let me keep this one strand… Let it bind me for the rest of my life.” Hei Fengxi

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Completed
When the Weather Is Fine
148 people found this review helpful
Mar 29, 2020
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 11
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 8.5

"Eating and sleeping well... Is that all there is to life?"

This is the therapy that I didn't know I desperately need.

Every morning is the beginning of another busy day in my city life, so hectic that it often feels like suffocation is no longer an option. Yet, When the Weather is Fine is like a timely letter to my subconsciousness, telling it that it's alright to miss a couple of breaths but not too many. Following Hae Won and Eun Seub's journey to self-discovery and self-healing has been heartwarming, endearing and even motivational at times, especially amidst the current uncertain and relentless worldly affairs.

Despite the slow progression, much slower than what I would normally prefer, this drama never fails to captivate me with its beautiful and soothing storytelling. What appears to be a purely coincidental and mundane encounter between two almost complete strangers at first gradually materialises into a fated serendipity. As Hae Won spends more time with Eun Seub in the rural Bookhyun Village, we as an audience begin to delve into their memories through a collection of nostalgic flashbacks, gaining a bit more insight into each of their dilemmas and how that has led them to their current circumstances.

It turns out that, for the impatient person that I am, I didn't mind the slow pace at all as it has given me the time to sympathise with the characters' underlying emotions and appreciate all of the poetic essence in the script. The settings and soundtracks are incredibly complementary to the storyline and characterisation. From the occasional pleasant acoustics to playful tunes, or the alternating warm and cold colour schemes, the drama is able to integrate its audience into a serene and cozy countryside lifestyle while still manages to retain some of its unique charms.

To say I'm in love with the casting would be much of an understatement. It is a rather pleasant surprise to see Park Min Young venturing into the slice-of-life scene after starring in popular rom-coms such as What's Wrong With Secretary Kim and Her Private Life. I feel like it has become a more apparent trend for Hallyu actors to take on indie projects and introduce more diversity to the international drama community, notably Lee Jong Suk in Romance is a Bonus Book and The Hymn of Death and Park Seo Joon in the recent Itawon Class. I must say this is a fairly defining role for Seo Kang Joon. I first got to know him as the defiant yet caring second male lead in Cheese in the Trap and then it was the robotic but humane male lead in Are You Human Too, both of which have left a fond impression on me. So coincidentally meeting him again in my new favourite drama certainly feels like a treat. As a couple, Park Min Young and Seo Kang Joon show a rather unlikely chemistry, probably due to the fact that Min Young is such a veteran and me used to recall her role in Sungkyunkwan Scandal, but still very fitting nevertheless. I also thought the supporting cast is very well-chosen, especially Eun Sub's sister Im Hwi and best friend Jang Woo.

I would highly recommend checking out the divine and enchanting OSTs: Like a Winter's Dream (Kwak Ji Eon), Doors of Time (Jungyup), All Day Long (Kyuhyun), Dear My Love (Byul), I See You (Giryeon) and Moody Night (Jeong Sang Keun).

Here are some of my favourite excerpts from the drama...

"Life has never bought me a drink.
On many winter nights, at a snack stall in a dead-end alley, I emptied out my pockets to buy life a drink.
But life has never bought me a single drink.
Whether it was a snowy day or a day when a stone lotus flower silently bloomed and fell."
A Drink by Jeong Ho Seung

"When loneliness meets loneliness and becomes coziness.
When sadness meets sadness and becomes happiness.
When a cool breeze collides against another cool breeze and becomes soft snow.
That's what warmth is."

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Completed
The Beauty Inside
103 people found this review helpful
Nov 2, 2018
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 7
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 9.5
Rewatch Value 8.5

"Did I become a butterfly in my dream or did I become me in a butterfly's dream."

For a moment, I thought it's going to be one of those cheesy and sensational plotlines with the usual stuck-up chaebol, the very reason that has dissuaded me from watching this till now.

But Beauty Inside deserves much better than that. Beneath all of the Hallyu star and rich chaebol glamour, the drama explores the dark side of media and social perceptions in a nouveau and refreshing context. It proves that inner beauty MATTERS as we witness the female protagonist battling her identity crisis in a society full of piranhas that are constantly preying on her, all while scandalously saving the day by protecting those in need.

The pairing is irrefutably perfect, like that of My Love from the Star or What's Wrong with Secretary Kim. It is cynical at first but, because of that, it has the opportunity to become extremely sweet and charming. For once, a rom-com is able to survive and flourish without a love-triangle to pull the tension.

After having seen the slice-of-life Because This is My First Life, I'm shocked by Lee Min Ki's transformation, to say the least. He was able to shed his quirky guy-next-door vibe and become such a slick executive. On the other hand, the chic Seo Hyun Jin that we have come to know from Dr. Romantic and Another Miss Oh has made me fall even deeper in love with her gorgeous fashion and even sassier attitude. And when you start questioning how to survive all of this, you'll be hit with the stunning and wholesome second couple, Lee Da Hee and Ahn Jae Hyun no less.

The OSTs are to die for with K.Will's explosive vocal, Davichi's wistful melody and a slight momentous twist featuring up-and-coming artists like Rothy, Vincent and 2morro.

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Completed
Novoland: Pearl Eclipse
62 people found this review helpful
Nov 12, 2021
48 of 48 episodes seen
Completed 6
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.5

Top-notch production that leaves you craving for more!

The scenery in this drama is simply breathtaking, especially the Jifeng Pavillion with its elegant woodwork and raining white petals that look almost like snow. The costumes, action scenes and CGI are also on point. I'm genuinely impressed with the high-quality production.

It has a very similar feel to Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms and The Journey of Flower, which were also directed by Lin Yu Fen, perhaps a little darker and less fantasy-like. And just in case you're wondering, Pearl Eclipse is pretty much stand-alone so no need to watch the others in the Novoland series beforehand.

The drama starts off with a master-disciple relationship between Fang Jianming and Fang Haishi that would soon blossom into a bittersweet and forbidden romance, where they're destined to meet but still restrained in many ways. It's not supposed to be a straightforward love, but rather the slow-burn and somewhat tormenting type. Yet, this is what makes those rare moments of sweetness even more precious. Personally, I find that the real charm of this show lies in its maturity and character development. But do get prepared, because you'll be taken on one crazy rollercoaster ride!

Yang Mi is literally in her element here playing a strong, cross-dressing FL. Despite the age difference, she still pulls off the role of the playful yet smart and daring young master Haishi very naturally. I think having Yang Mi doing her own dubbing really helps as well, so all credits to her. And those intense fighting scenes radiate some serious badass FL energy. I nearly forgot to breathe watching her shoot archery while spinning 360 on horseback! As she becomes Madam Pearl, we get to see Haishi swapping her boyish charms for a more mature and elegant persona, highlighting the different phases of her life. I particularly love her sibling bickering with Zhouying, they're such a hilarious comedy duo. But as much as they would tease each other, you can also feel their deep sibling bond and how they always have each other's back, especially Zhouying being the caring big brother that he is.

I'm going to be honest here, it took me a couple of eps to warm up to William Chan as Fang Jianming. I found his hairstyle a bit flat and awkward at first but I've grown fond of it gradually. He's graceful and calm normally but also fierce and intimidating when the occasion calls for it. I love how he's so protective of his disciples despite the cold front and prefers to selflessly suffer in silence, like all our favourite C-drama kuuderes (ahem... Ye Hua, Bai Zi Hua, Zhou Sheng Chen just to name a few). However, he's way too loyal and devoted to the Emperor that it's almost to a fault. It makes me often wonder whether they should just marry each other... Oh wait, they kind of did with the Baixi oath, where Fang Jianmiang has to act as a body double and shoulder all the injuries that befall Emperor Xu. This is surely not the 'love triangle' I had quite expected. Poor Haishi, it looks like she'll have a very fierce rival to beat, the bromance.

We're also greeted with another 2 couples along the way: Emperor Xu and Tilan, Zhuoying and Zheliu. While the fates of all 6 characters are very much intertwined, each couple still has its own pace and storyline.

The Emperor... sometimes I just want to reach across the screen and slap him hard. The guy can be so exasperating at times. His attitude towards Tilan at the beginning is uncalled for, regardless of his past suffering. As a ruler, Emperor Xu is not greedy or evil but he's not exactly empathetic or prudent either. Fortunately, his temperament does get much better and I quite like his 'passionate' bromance with Fang Jianming, as complicated as it may be. On the other hand, Tilan is portrayed as kind and supportive but I do find her character a bit weak sometimes. I guess her being a "caged bird", restricted by her royal upbringing and female status, serves as a contrast to Haishi who's "free" like a falcon having been raised as a boy in the imperial secret force.

Zhuoying and Zheliu is that one couple that you can never get enough of. I love how sweet and innocent their love is. It's adorkable seeing Zhouying gets all shy and love-struck in front of Zheliu, and then getting teased by Haishi for it. I kind of wish this couple has more screen time because the other 2 couples can get a bit too heavy at times.

I don't think there's much to say for the OSTs. I mean you open with Zhang Bichen and end with Zhou Shen, 2 of the best historical OST singers out there, so nothing can't go wrong. And the lyrics are so poetic and fit the story really well. Overall, it's a solid show with great cinematography and many unpredictable twists and turns. If you enjoy a good historical drama and not afraid to put your heart on the line, then this gem is for you.

FAVOURITE QUOTES:

"In our line of duty, people could die any minute. Every time we parted, it could be forever. So, I’m not afraid of death. I’m afraid that [Master] push me away or let me go.” Fang Haishi

"I don’t want [Haishi] to follow in my footsteps or take my path. She can’t be another Fang Jianming because I know better than anyone how painful that is. I don’t regret living like this but I hope the one I love can lead a normal and happy life.” Fang Jiangming

"[Emperor Xu] is my best friend. He is more important than my life. I took an oath to be faithful to him." Fang Jiangming

“All these years, others all think I’ve been tolerating Xu or even indulging him, but the truth is, I just want to protect him. The tougher he looks on the outside, the softer he is on the inside… as an emperor, he couldn’t share his pain with anyone.” Fang Jiangming

“Jianming, I’ve never expected you to be a loyal official. All I want is for you to live a carefree and happy life.” Emperor Xu

"Jianming, don’t underestimate Fang Haishi's feelings for you. Even if I don’t tell her, she knows you’re in a tough spot and she will do everything to protect you.” Emperor Xu

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Completed
Forever and Ever
24 people found this review helpful
Sep 15, 2021
30 of 30 episodes seen
Completed 8
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 9.5
Rewatch Value 8.5

"Most people are shallow for they only see beautiful facial features but not good bone structure."

If you're still hesitating whether to watch One and Only first, I would highly recommend it as the prequel would give you a deeper understanding into the characters of Forever and Ever. Not only that, you'll be able to appreciate the historical references and beautiful antique aesthetics much more given how they're also interwoven with One and Only. Technically, Forever and Ever is a continuation of One and Only so it would only be logical to watch the first half before the second half. Plus, it's a shame to miss out on a masterpiece like One and Only!

PLOT & SETTINGS:

Beware of One and Only spoilers (skip to next section if needed)...

Even if I have yet to read the novel, I'm still very much engrossed by the poetic soul of this series. I guess it's an advantage of having the novel's author as the screenwriter. I'm captivated by how Shi Yi is able to recognise Zhou Sheng Chen's "beautiful bones" (inner beauty) and falls in love with him all over again after having "reincarnated" from One and Only. While the reincarnations are not explicitly stated in this sequel due to censorship, the reason why the series is split into 2 parts with almost different sets of actors to begin with, they're hinted throughout the show in a subtle and intricate way yet prominent enough for viewers to make the connections. This can be seen where Shi Yi becomes the dubbing actress for the drama One and Only. It is cleverly inferred that Shi Yi can recall the "memories" of their past lives and romantic attachments where she would cry while dubbing Zhou Sheng Chen's demise or look longingly at the city wall where the past Shi Yi has presumably fallen to her death to follow her love so that he can "come to marry" her. Similarly, Shi Yi is also shown to prefer the turquoise dress because it reminds her of the dress she wore when she first met Zhou Sheng Chen in their past lives but dislike red dresses and has a fear of height as they evoke memories of her own death from One and Only.

Furthermore, the modern Shi Yi's family name is "Shi" instead of "Cui" to reflect how she has asked to be taken out of the family tree towards the end of One and Only in order to just be Zhou Sheng Chen's beloved "Eleven [Shi Yi]" as well as to save her clan from the repercussions of her actions. The modern Zhou's family house is also designed to follow the traditional Chinese style with a similar layout to the Zhou Manor in One and Only, from its iconic gate to the lotus pond and library where the past Shi Yi shared memorable moments with her Master. So in this case, the censorship may actually be a blessing in disguise as it encourages viewers to actively engage with the plot and draw comparisons between the 2 parallel narratives.

CHARACTERS:

Personally, I love how the modern Zhou Sheng Chen is portrayed as intelligent and caring (at least towards those he's close to) but also rather aloof and not very well versed in human relationships due to his lonely and harsh upbringing. This then gives the audience an opportunity to witness how he is able to endure the pain of hardships and grow as a character, where he would gradually learn how to stand up to the opposing forces in his family and protect Shi Yi from their schemes despite all of his shortcomings. I find that raw and imperfect side of Zhou Sheng Chen very touching and humane as it shows that his heart is indeed made of gold, or should I say his "beautiful bones" are made of gold.

While Forever and Ever tends to focus a bit more on Zhou Sheng Chen's struggles, like how One and Only did with Shi Yi's, our female lead is still very much in the limelight. I think there's really no singular way of creating a strong female lead. And in this sequel, it's Shi Yi who is able to draw Zhou Sheng Chen out of his shell, give him the strength and courage to deal with the power conflict that is rotting through the core of his own family. Given her memories of their star-crossed past lives, she took the initiative to approach him and patiently get to know him. In spite of Zhou Sheng Chen's inexperience and insecurities, Shi Yi gives him her unconditional trust and love to make their relationship works. From the perspectives of those around her, their progress might appear to be too rushed and almost reckless. But I guess for those of us who have suffered the waterworks from One and Only, their second chance love could not have been fast enough.

I must admit I enjoy Zhou Sheng Chen's awkwardness when he's around Shi Yi way too much. Like a true science man, he is very methodical in his romantic "research" and prefers to do things by the book. He doesn't have a single romantic bone in him but willingly let himself be led by Shi Yi's spontaneity and free spirit. Whatever he lacks in romance, Zhou Sheng Chen makes up for it with his own sincerity and loyalty. Together, they're such an adorkable and charming couple that would make you giggle in one minute and swoon in the next. While their relationship doesn't exactly restart from zero, they're still taking the time to get to know each other little by little until they form a strong enough bond that can withstand any adversity.

Aside from the main couple, my favourite character got to be Uncle Lin who is Zhou Sheng Chen's driver but also his father figure and love counsellor. Growing up in such an austere family after having lost his birth parents, Zhou Sheng Chen only has Uncle Lin and his "grandmother" who know him best and actually care for him. I love how Uncle Lin is there to witness the couple right from the beginning, whether it be accompanying Zhou Sheng Chen on his ridiculous 8-hour night trips just to meet Shi Yi or being the unfortunate "third wheel" that interrupt their romantic moments.

CAST:

I absolutely love love love Bai Lu and Allen Ren together! Did I forget to mention how much I love them? It's hard to find 2 actors who not only have that much chemistry with each other but also excel in both the modern and historical genres. I've only seen Allen Ren in historical dramas and I know that he can play a dashing general very well from Under the Power. But this is my first for a modern drama and Allen surely doesn't disappoint. Suddenly, the serious and restrained face from One and Only is replaced with those shy smiles and cute baffled expressions that totally fit the socially awkward personality of the modern Zhou Sheng Chen. On the other hand, we all know from Love is Sweet that Bai Lu is classy and elegant enough to pull off any modern looks. She looks extremely beautiful those trench coats and tailored dresses, especially the traditional qipao.

I thought Bai Lu and Allen Ren couldn't fit any better than they did in One and Only but Forever and Ever just hit us with a totally different kind of charm. Even though they're supposed to play the awkward couple at first, their chemistry is already off the roof. It's kind of hard to believe that they've this much chemistry in Forever and Ever despite it being filmed before One and Only. Plus, their behind-the-scenes never fail to make me laugh. Who knows that the awkward couple is such a hilarious comedy duo in real life!

SOUNDTRACKS:

I thought that the production team tried very hard to not get flagged by censorship for "reincarnation", but I guess they couldn't be more blatant with the soundtracks, not that I'm complaining. Forever and Ever literally uses the same opening No Worries (无虞) by Mimi Lee and Jing Long from One and Only, showing that they're both the same show. Not only that, the theme song Continued Writing (续写) by Shang Yichun also poignantly expresses how long Shi Yi has waited to be together with Zhou Sheng Chen and the beauty of their transcendent love...

"In the memory, the snow-covered city tower... When your name rings out, finally blooming again like a flower of the soul, the dreams that have accompanied me through the light years."

"The poem I'll continue to write, with your name in each line. If started all over again, I'd still remember our love. It took hundreds of centuries for our love to begin, there's no way it'd end."

"Those familiar eyes, lost the past when we shed tears. It won't change, our fate of encounter."

"When our story became history, in another world, there is another pair of longing eyes [that] have been waiting for that everlasting romance."

I personally love Time Froze (定格) by Yan Ren Zhong as it really highlights the sweetness of those shy and awkward moments between Shi Yi and Zhou Sheng Chen. And like Zhou Sheng Chen in One and Only, Bai Lu also blesses us with her own OST, Heartbeat (心动), that's just pure candy for the ear.

OVERALL:

I think you really need to have watched One and Only to really empathise and fall in love with Forever Ever. Even with the censorship, this is not supposed to be an ordinary modern romance where it ends as soon as the couple gets together. It's about two people who have withstood the test of time just to be together and would do anything to protect their newfound happiness. I love how, despite the drama and conflict surrounding Zhou Sheng Chen and Shi Yi, their love for each other is pure and uncomplicated. I don't care how many tears I have to shed because I wouldn't miss this series for the world!

FAVOURITE QUOTES:

“Even the most beautiful face will have to age. You are the best in my mind. I can see the bones of beauty inside you… People’s faces are shaped by their hearts. If they’re kind at heart, they look kind in their face. One has to have dignity before having the bones of beauty.” Shi Yi

"Things in this world are no more than dramas. People on this earth don't have to be serious. You bear too much [in the heart]. I only ask for a small part. But it has to be all of your romantic love." Shi Yi

"Since there's nothing sure in our life, then don't hesitate. All you need to do from now on is to study the Venus you like. Leave the rest to me." Shi Yi

“Within the limited amount of time I have left to spend with him, I don’t have any time to think about using such tricks or applying pressure. I need to size every single minute to be with him.” Shi Yi

"The research area itself can't be right or wrong. Only the method of experimentation can be wrong. If the experimental method is wrong, we can change the method. But the research area itself will not change. For example, the fact that we're together is not going to change. If something goes wrong, we can change the way we get along." Zhou Sheng Chen

"Maybe I'm not very sensitive about [romantic] things. Nevertheless, I like that our love for each other is growing over time. In other words, it makes a relationship stronger." Zhou Sheng Chen

"From the moment we decided to be together, we would not leave each other forever. I don't want her to be treated unfairly. I can't live without her." Zhou Sheng Chen

"I had thought that I could handle the human relationship separately, rightly... But I find that I can’t easily handle things related to Shi Yi." Zhou Sheng Chen

“I am only an ordinary guy, that happens to meet a woman exceeding my expectation at the right age. If I didn’t marry her, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life.” Zhou Sheng Chen

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Completed
A Business Proposal
48 people found this review helpful
Mar 2, 2022
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 2
Overall 9.0
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.0

A fun, light-hearted watch for the rom-com lovers

As a die-hard fan of the webtoon, I was over the moon to see the drama adaption finally coming out!

It's the contract dating / marriage trope that fakes it till you make it once again. Cliché and exaggerated at times, but still extremely entertaining. In fact, rather than being pure cringey, I love how the screenwriters just absorb the clichés like a sponge and turn them into A+ grade comedy. It's a fluffy rom-com that hit all the right spots, making you laugh and swoon like there's no tomorrow. And the editing is just spot on with the fun and comic-like transitions.

We have an interesting cast here. It's a little scary how much Ahn Hyo Seop fits right into the ML's role with that side-parted hair and dashing suit, like he just steps out of a webtoon. The way he slicks his hair back gives me major What's Wrong With Secretary Kim vibes (I can almost hear Park Se Joon yelling "Aura" in the background). I like Kim Se Jeong's singing but I have yet to see her in a drama. Oh my goodness, she got me doubling over from laughing so hard when she called Ahn Hyo Seop an Archaeopteryx. And don't even get me started on who's Samantha and Rachel. Their blind dates are absurdly hilarious and you'll wheeze in laughter before you know it. It's a bit different from how I envisioned Shin Ha Ri would be, but definitely a refreshing twist for the webtoon fans.

On the other hand, Kim Min Gue is the ideal secretary sidekick for the ML. This is the bromance I was most excited about, snarky but sweet. Seol In Ah plays the free-spirited bestie for the FL, one that you always wish for yet never have. Together, they make up one of the most iconic second couples I've ever seen. They're so scandalously cute in their own way. It's great that not only each couple has its own arch but we also have so much bromance and sismance energy here. The grandfather is so loveable with his outrageous marriage "project", a quest to find blind dates for his workaholic grandson. It's a bit hard to believe this was also the mad king we saw in The Red Sleeve. And that makjang he's watching really hits home for me, it's like they're watching their own drama unfolding.

The OSTs are also overwhelmingly sweet, almost to a diabetes level. My absolute favourites would be Love Maybe by MeloMance, You Are Mine by VICTON and Spring Breeze by New (The Boyz). All in all, it was an extremely witty script with as many unexpected turns as there are clichés. If you're a fluffy rom-com lover and don't mind a bit of silliness to de-stress, then here's the perfect pick for you!

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Completed
The King's Affection
36 people found this review helpful
Oct 16, 2021
20 of 20 episodes seen
Completed 4
Overall 8.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0

“Be it hatred or resentment... learn to live with it. As long as it gives you the will to live."

Yeonmo is a poignant and heart-wrenching story about perseverance, love and sacrifices. It's centered around a little girl whose only fault is being born as a twin into the royal family, an ominous sign at the time. Her existence eventually leads to her twin brother's death. Trapped by the circumstances, she's then forced to secretly assume his identity and grow up under the watchful eyes of her maternal grandfather, the main culprit behind her brother's killing.

What immediately drew me to this show is not only the cast and plot but also its gorgeous settings, clothes and OSTs. The child actors also did an incredible job in setting up the narrative, especially Choi Myung Bin playing both the young FL and the twin brother. Her versatility and expressiveness truly remind me of the young Kim Yoo Jung in Moon Embracing the Sun.

Park Eun Bin is giving me major girl crush vibes. One moment she's the handsome and fierce Crown Prince that makes me swoon so badly, then she turns into a gorgeous lake fairy in the next to blow me away. It's a complete makeover from her timid and reticent role in Do You Like Brahms. Eun Bin's androgynous portrayal of Lee Hwi makes the cross-dressing extremely convincing, especially the intense stare and low voice she would use when confronting someone which gives me the chills. But we also get to see the lonely and vulnerable side of Lee Hwi. A young girl who has to put up the facade of an "Ice Crown Prince" to survive the ruthless palace battle. She has to remain distrustful and vigilant of her own family members, who all seem to have a political agenda of their own.

And yes, we can't not mention Rowoon's historical debut. His acting has improved a lot from Extraordinary You and She Would Never Know. I love him as the playful and carefree Ji Woon. It was hilarious watching him falling head over heels for Lee Hwi, I mean who wouldn't? The leads' chemistry is just chef kiss here. The switch in power dynamics is definitely a refreshing twist on the classic gender-bender trope, with how Lee Hwi is put in charge and Jung Ji Woon is tailing along but not without the occasional witty comebacks. However, I do notice that Rowoon sometimes falls short on the more serious and emotional scenes that require a bit more desperation and refined articulations. But overall, I would still give him a solid A for effort.

The second-lead syndrome is real! Lee Hyun is such a sweetheart, I can't believe this is the same Nam Yoon Su who played the bully in Extracurricular. I immediately fell for his cute dimples and duality. He's extremely protective and devoted towards Lee Hwi. It's still a bit weird that they're distant cousins but I guess that's historical royalties for you. I think one of the best things about this drama is the vibrant side characters. We have the dashing yet mysterious bodyguard Kim Ga On, the funny and loyal Enuch Hong, and Court Lady Kim who's like a mother figure to Lee Hwi.

While the show has a very strong start, I feel like the middle part seems to drag a bit. It does pick up a lot near the end, but now they also run out of time to fix up some of the plot holes. I wish they've cut down 2-4 eps and kept the pacing consistent so that the story is more cohesive. It's also unnecessary to have the 2 side female love interests when their characters are not even fully fleshed out, especially when there's already a love triangle between the 3 main leads. It just makes the love line look messy. But that aside, I do like the complex relationships FL and ML have with their fathers. Both the King and Chief Jung deeply care for their children but have to hide it because they're also bound by their duties and political standings. This leads to even more misunderstandings to drift parent and child apart, until they inadvertently end up on opposing sides. It's touching but also bittersweet and somewhat tragic.

It's almost like an Easter egg hunt with the OSTs. We've got Super Junior's Shadow of You and I can already spot our OST queens, Lyn's One and Only in the opening and Baek Ji Young's If I. Plus, we can't miss the sweetness overdose in Hide and Seek by VROMANCE.

Overall, while there are some wasted potentials, it's still a well-made sageuk drama with fairly easy-to-follow plot and lovable characters. I think it has a good balance between romance and palace politics, intense at times but also fluffy when needed. I guess the ratio is really just based on personal preferences. It's a fun and interesting watch, as long as you don't nitpick on the details too much. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the journey.

FAVOURITE QUOTES:

“I have never lived my own life.” Lee Hwi

“On the day I was born, what did my father say? Did he also agree with those who wanted to terminate my life? That a girl was of no need and should be killed?” Lee Hwi

“I will not die. You know better than anyone what I have endured to come this far.” Lee Hwi

“The palace can be as dirty as the mud. Lotus flowers bloom in mud, but they can cleanse their surroundings. And the leaves have the ability to shake off murky water. There’s no trace of any dirt on them. Just like the lotus flowers that stay virtuous despite its dirty environment, I hope that you will become a strong king." Jung Ji Woon

“Like the good rain that falls when most needed, I will be someone you can count on. Just like you were to me when I needed you the most.” Jung Ji Woon

"Only people like you who are born into noble families had the chance to make decisions. This was the only path I was given. So I merely walked my path. Even if I were to go back, if this is the only path that remains, I would be here again.” Ji Woon’s father

“I got married when I was your [Lee Hwi's] age. I made a family at a young age. So I didn’t know how precious it was or how to protect it. So I failed to protect my family. But I didn’t want you to make the same mistake." the King (Lee Hwi's father)

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Completed
The Oath of Love
34 people found this review helpful
Mar 31, 2022
32 of 32 episodes seen
Completed 4
Overall 9.0
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 9.5
Rewatch Value 9.0

A touching, beautiful tale about love, family and perseverance

I don't know how to describe this drama. It made me laugh, cry then laugh again like a rollercoaster of emotions. The 2 agonising years of waiting were totally worth it!

What stood out the most for me was the rocky yet heart-warming relationship Lin Zhi Xiao has with her father, who's a strict school dean. Due to her austere upbringing, Lin Zhi Xiao has grown up to detest her father for treating her like one of his "students" and would only call him "Mr. Lin". It's not until they're confronted with a grave illness did the family learns to come together and brace through the hardships. This makes me reflect on the relationship I have with my own parents and try to look at things from their perspectives. It may not have the most perfect script but the message really resonates with me. I was fully anticipating for a full on rom-com but this unexpected discovery is what makes this drama really special.

Talking about romance, I can't get enough of the main couple! How come EVERY SCENE is so iconic? Whenever Lin Zhi Xiao and Dr. Gu are together, I know I'm going to have a good time laughing at their adorkable banters or squeal at how romantic they are. That's not to say it was completely smooth sailing. They have their differences, major ones at that. Lin Zhi Xiao is a young, bubbly university student that's yet to step out of her parents' protective bubble. Gu Wei is a lot older, more mature, socially reserved and a neat freak due to his occupational hazard as a surgeon. But as we delve deeper, they both have their shortcomings and flaws. And it's actually their differences that help them gain a new perspective and overcome each of their own adversities. I truly love how well Lin Zhi Xiao and Gu Wei fit together not only in the good times, but also when they help each other grow and conquer the bad times. Also, I've never thought that product placements like Pepsi can be this romantic. I mean, it's literally their love symbol and I'm not complaining. And that anti-hair loss shampoo is just pure comedic gold.

Admittedly, the side couples feel a bit weak for me. I feel like they deserve to have a more cohesive arch of their own. But since the main couple is so strong, it kind of shifts the focus of the plot away from the 2nd and 3rd couple. I guess you can't have everything perfect sometimes.

In terms of the cast, we have stellar performances here. The chemistry between Xiao Zhan and Yang Zi is undeniably strong. Xiao Zhan is so versatile, he's the serious Dr. Gu in one moment and the sweet, and sometimes mischievous, Gu Wei in the next. Yang Zi is cute and funny at first, but she can also be very emotional and poignant, especially when she's connecting with Lin Zhi Xiao's parents. I love how the main couple is so down to earth. It may be a star-struck couple, but it also feels like a cozy and "simple" romance most of the time. And the Sweet Little Theatre snippets at the end are so adorable. It's like the 2 of them are just having a sweet and intimate moment, while I'm being the envious third wheel. I'm particularly fond of the actors playing Lin Zhi Xiao's parents. Their acting feels so real and moving. I cried watching them worry and care for Lin Zhi Xiao as well as each other. All in all, it was a truly perfect cast.

We got not only 1, but 3 OSTs sung by the main couple! I think they complement the story and characters beautifully.

The Oath of Love (余生, 请多指教) - Xiao Zhan & Yang Zi
The Greatest Fortune (最幸运的幸运) - Xiao Zhan
Somebody Liking Someone (一个人喜欢一个人) - Yang Zi

Also just to clarify, both the TV and original versions have the same content. The TV version has shorter but more episodes (32) to accommodate TV broadcasting schedule. While the Original version has 29 longer episodes (generally 45+ mins).

FAVOURITE QUOTES:

"There's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

"Dr. Gu is not a perfect person. He is weak sometimes. He runs away. And sometimes, he's very proud. He keeps everything to himself and doesn't say it. He hurts himself as well as others. But as a doctor, he's the best in my heart. Not because of his superb medical skills, but his wholehearted dedication to his patients, even at the cost of his interests." Lin Zhi Xiao

"If all encounters are reunions after a long separation, I believe in the first 30 years of my life, we've already met each other at some point, but we just didn't know each other name. Otherwise, why would I fall in love with you so naturally and quickly?" Gu Wei

"I hope when we get old, you can tell me that marrying me was the best decision you ever made. If we're too old to remember anything, I hope that loving you is the last thing I'll forget." Gu Wei

"I used to think that the world is big and I'm walking slowly, so I never meet the right person for me. I feel so luck to have met you." Lin Zhi Xiao

"Our Zhi Xiao is young, and not mature enough. But in some ways, she's even more mature than me [her father]. Things happened to us during this year, her mother and I were panicked, but she was not defeated by these things. She has become the backbone, the pillar of our family. She has many shortcomings, but one merit. She is strong and resilient." Lin Zhi Xiao's father

"Zhi Xiao. Listen, now there are people paying too much attention to appearance. What appearance is about? Looks don't matter. Sweet words are even less important. Do you know what's important? The heart. Turns out I made the right choice. Your father has never done anything bad to me in decades. What can I not be satisfied with? I think my life is worth living. It was my luck to meet Mr. Lin." Lin Zhi Xiao's mother

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Completed
Start-Up
48 people found this review helpful
Dec 6, 2020
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 7.0

The second lead syndrome is too strong and I'm not complaining...

Has the storyline been lackluster towards the second half of the drama? Yes. But has it been a worthwhile watch? Totally.

I know this might be an unpopular opinion, especially amidst the overflowing negative reviews, but someone has to open the Pandora Box so here we go. I was initially drawn to Start-Up for its slick business aesthetics which reminded me very much of Search: WWW and What's Wrong with Secretary Kim. I was also undeniably enticed by the stellar Hallyu cast for the main leads, after all it's Bae Suzy and Nam Joo Hyuk in the house.

However, what began as a rather shallow and superficial interest quickly transformed into deep infatuation as I got hooked on Han Ji Pyeong's backstory and his heartwarming relationship with Seol Dal Mi's grandmother. Nam Da Reum portrays the young Ji Pyeong perfectly, as expected of one of my favourite child actors, whom you may recall from Come and Hug Me, While You Were Sleeping and Pinocchio. As a teenager, Ji Pyeong was always skeptical and vigilant with the people around him until he met Dal Mi's grandmother and witnessed her unconditional kindness towards him, a complete stranger. On the other hand, Kim Seon Ho truly brings out the charms and duality of the adult Ji Pyeong. Unlike most, he tends to show care and support through harsh criticisms which have often made others mistake him as cold and callous. Overall, Han Ji Pyeong shows the multidimensional and in-depth portrayal that most of the other crucial characters simply lack.

I have to confess, one of the most disappointing things about this drama is the weak chemistry between the main leads, Seol Dal Mi and Nam Do San. I feel like too much of the on-screen chemistry is left to Suzy and Joo Hyuk's visual compatibility and the audience hype rather than actual character and plot development. While there are some favourable scenes to justify Do San's love for Dal Mi, his complete disregard for the second male lead and rather blinding jealousy can be exasperating at times. Frankly, I find the chemistry between Ji Pyeong and the robot Yeong Shil (voiced by Yeo Jin Goo) much stronger than that of the main leads.

Romance aside, I do like the female empowerment underlying theme in Start-Up. Suzy did a fairly good job in showcasing Dal Mi's professional side. Although, I wish the drama can invest a bit more into the relationship Dal Mi has with her sister, Won In Jae, and similarly with Ji Pyeong and Do San. Imagine all of the side bromance and sismance chemistry we could have had.

Ultimately, despite the promising cast and production team, the drama was not able to realise its full potential. However, unlike The Bride of Habaek, there are still things worthwhile to watch out for in this drama. If you ever in need of a second lead syndrome, Start-Up's Han Ji Pyeong would be the perfect candidate. I may not have noticed Kim Seon Ho before but I'm definitely looking forward to catching up on his other works now. Personally, I do not regret pursuing this drama, but this does not mean I'm not going to grief over the wasted potential here.

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Completed
Love Like the Galaxy: Part 1
9 people found this review helpful
Sep 19, 2022
27 of 27 episodes seen
Completed 4
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.5
This review may contain spoilers

"If the husband is the sun, the wife is the brilliant galaxy. We create the world by coexisting."

PLOT & CHARACTERS:

This is a coming-of-age story that's like no other. It's an emotional yet enlightening journey into love, parent-child conflict, loyalty and female empowerment as Cheng Shao Shang (CSS) goes through the turbulences in her journey to self discovery and growth. 

Her relationship with Ling Buyi has grown a great deal. I truly love how she's grown from a young lady who knows nothing about love to one that capable of caring for her beloved while still remaining true to herself. She learns how to love, empathise and compromise. She's just as intelligent and headstrong as any man, which is especially rare in such a patriarchal society, but can also be loving and caring towards those who are close to her. 

What surprised me the most is the transition from Part 1 to 2. In Part 1, CSS let her entire existence centred around her mother's neglect and biases, as well as others' condescending attitudes towards her "unconventional" upbringing. However, as we transition to Part 2, she's gained a new confidante and mother figure, Empress Xuan, who gives her the affirmation she needs to keep being herself but also the etiquette and knowledge to survive the dangers in the Palace. The bickering and conflicts in Part 1 now seem so trivial as CSS becomes more mature and determined with her goals to follow and serve the Empress. While Empress Xuan is composed, benevolent and dutiful, which are the social expectations of women in Ancient China, she admires CSS's free spirit and bravery. The two see their desired self and aspirations in each other, creating a very insightful and touching relationship. Consort Yue, Shao Shang's mother and third aunt are also very powerful female characters that are way ahead of their time in different ways. 

Ling Buyi (LBY) is a complex character that really draws you in. He's extremely devoted to CSS and would readily sacrifice his life for her. But when it comes to acting in the nation's interest and his own quest for vengeance, he can't help but forsake CSS's love. Being the Emperor's adopted son and commanding general, he's almost untouchable yet also helpless at bringing justice to his family's massacre. Personally, I love seeing how the rigid general becomes all goofy in front of CSS. And sometimes, their PDA makes me swoon and feel envious at the same time. Emperor Wen is such a good father figure for LBY, more than just out of his brotherhood with the former General Huo. I would say he's the biggest source of comedic relief in the drama. The way he shamelessly dotes on LBY and ships LBY with CSS is hilarious.

CAST & PRODUCTION:

Despite their young age, Zhao Lusi and Wu Lei approach their roles with overwhelming maturity and depth. We used to know Lusi as the playful and funny actress that can liven up any drama she's in, especially rom-coms. Here, she's able to incorporate some of that comedic touch with more articulations. She’s very playful and jovial in beginning, but becomes much more calm and refined towards the end of Part 2. On the other hand, Wu Lei carries out the duality of LBY very well. His stare can be serious in one moment, then melt and become hopelessly smitten with CSS. Wu Lei has the gravitas that gives complexity and charm to his character's portrayal. He’s also extremely skilled in horse riding and action scenes, adding even more intensity to the drama.

When it comes to cinematography, every scene in this drama is truly like a painting that speaks a thousand words. It's majestic but still very much the embodiment of elegance and grace. The costume and hairstyle for each character are vibrant and unique in their own way. I particularly love the layered dresses designed with a trailing tail, lowly tied hair and long earrings which add a certain sense of fluidity and feminity when the characters walk. Ling Buyi's armor is also a glory in itself, imposing and dominating like his own personality. And the "mandarin duck wings" make him look even more dashing. I love how the director is not only very masterful in his craft but also an avid WuLu couple shipper. From the behind-the-scenes, he’s very hands-on in helping the actors bring out the full sensitivity of their characters, ahem… especially the bashful and sweet romance between the 2 leads.

The soundtracks are so beautiful and fitting of the historical period. Splendid Star (星汉灿烂) by Shan Yi Chun is soft and smooth but still carries some intensity and momentum. Star River Sigh (星河叹) by Isabelle Huang is definitely my favourite with its heartbreaking nostalgia and poetic sensibility.

FAVOURITE QUOTES:

“When I’m with you [CSS], I feel human.” Ling Buyi

“Maybe Shao Shang is not the gentle lady who others prefer. But in my heart, she’s the best woman… in the whole wide world. She is innocent and courageous…. She’s the only one who can walk by my side. I will only marry her in this life.” Ling Buyi

“Although she [CSS] appears cold on the outside, she has always been a very caring person. She can only put her mind at ease, when those she cares about are doing well. That’s why I make sure all of you [CSS’s families and friends] are doing well.” Ling Buyi

"I can brew wine... build a water wheel... build kilns and fire tiles... Whether Ling Buyi is around or not, I'm a lady who lives well... Ling Buyi is the person I love most in this world. But I am nobody but myself." Cheng Shao Shang

“I told Her Majesty that since I engaged to you [LBY], everyone saw me as your fiancee. No one saw me as Cheng Shao Shang anymore. Her Majesty said that I was brought up as an independent lady. I only cared about myself, my personal gains and losses. She said I should try to be more amenable… more flexible." Cheng Shao Shang

"I'm proficient in poetry and classics. You're [CSS] good at building mechanisms. Everyone has something they're good at. You know what others don't. I'll slowly teach you what others know... There's no need to feel inferior. You can lift your head high." Empress Xuan

“When she [CSS] was young and needed to be loved most, she wasn’t loved by her family. If you [LBY] want to love her, you have to make up for her grief. Don’t always make her understand your choice. Only by discussing can you keep walking side-by-side.” Empress Xuan

"Back then, I always hoped she could be more mature. Until today, she has become so composed, as if she was a different person. Recalling old times, she behaved aggressively, always romped around. But it put my mind at ease... Was I mistaken since the beginning?" Cheng Shao Shang's mother

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Completed
Love Like the Galaxy: Part 2
7 people found this review helpful
Sep 19, 2022
29 of 29 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.5

"If the husband is the sun, the wife is the brilliant galaxy. We create the world by coexisting."

PLOT & CHARACTERS:

This is a coming-of-age story that's like no other. It's an emotional yet enlightening journey into love, parent-child conflict, loyalty and female empowerment as Cheng Shao Shang (CSS) goes through the turbulences in her journey to self discovery and growth. 

Her relationship with Ling Buyi has grown a great deal. I truly love how she's grown from a young lady who knows nothing about love to one that capable of caring for her beloved while still remaining true to herself. She learns how to love, empathise and compromise. She's just as intelligent and headstrong as any man, which is especially rare in such a patriarchal society, but can also be loving and caring towards those who are close to her. 

What surprised me the most is the transition from Part 1 to 2. In Part 1, CSS let her entire existence centred around her mother's neglect and biases, as well as others' condescending attitudes towards her "unconventional" upbringing. However, as we transition to Part 2, she's gained a new confidante and mother figure, Empress Xuan, who gives her the affirmation she needs to keep being herself but also the etiquette and knowledge to survive the dangers in the Palace. The bickering and conflicts in Part 1 now seem so trivial as CSS becomes more mature and determined with her goals to follow and serve the Empress. While Empress Xuan is composed, benevolent and dutiful, which are the social expectations of women in Ancient China, she admires CSS's free spirit and bravery. The two see their desired self and aspirations in each other, creating a very insightful and touching relationship. Consort Yue, Shao Shang's mother and third aunt are also very powerful female characters that are way ahead of their time in different ways. 

Ling Buyi (LBY) is a complex character that really draws you in. He's extremely devoted to CSS and would readily sacrifice his life for her. But when it comes to acting in the nation's interest and his own quest for vengeance, he can't help but forsake CSS's love. Being the Emperor's adopted son and commanding general, he's almost untouchable yet also helpless at bringing justice to his family's massacre. Personally, I love seeing how the rigid general becomes all goofy in front of CSS. And sometimes, their PDA makes me swoon and feel envious at the same time. Emperor Wen is such a good father figure for LBY, more than just out of his brotherhood with the former General Huo. I would say he's the biggest source of comedic relief in the drama. The way he shamelessly dotes on LBY and ships LBY with CSS is hilarious.

CAST & PRODUCTION:

Despite their young age, Zhao Lusi and Wu Lei approach their roles with overwhelming maturity and depth. We used to know Lusi as the playful and funny actress that can liven up any drama she's in, especially rom-coms. Here, she's able to incorporate some of that comedic touch with more articulations. She’s very playful and jovial in beginning, but becomes much more calm and refined towards the end of Part 2. On the other hand, Wu Lei carries out the duality of LBY very well. His stare can be serious in one moment, then melt and become hopelessly smitten with CSS. Wu Lei has the gravitas that gives complexity and charm to his character's portrayal. He’s also extremely skilled in horse riding and action scenes, adding even more intensity to the drama.

When it comes to cinematography, every scene in this drama is truly like a painting that speaks a thousand words. It's majestic but still very much the embodiment of elegance and grace. The costume and hairstyle for each character are vibrant and unique in their own way. I particularly love the layered dresses designed with a trailing tail, lowly tied hair and long earrings which add a certain sense of fluidity and feminity when the characters walk. Ling Buyi's armor is also a glory in itself, imposing and dominating like his own personality. And the "mandarin duck wings" make him look even more dashing. I love how the director is not only very masterful in his craft but also an avid WuLu couple shipper. From the behind-the-scenes, he’s very hands-on in helping the actors bring out the full sensitivity of their characters, ahem… especially the bashful and sweet romance between the 2 leads.

The soundtracks are so beautiful and fitting of the historical period. Splendid Star (星汉灿烂) by Shan Yi Chun is soft and smooth but still carries some intensity and momentum. Star River Sigh (星河叹) by Isabelle Huang is definitely my favourite with its heartbreaking nostalgia and poetic sensibility.

FAVOURITE QUOTES:

“When I’m with you [CSS], I feel human.” Ling Buyi

“Maybe Shao Shang is not the gentle lady who others prefer. But in my heart, she’s the best woman… in the whole wide world. She is innocent and courageous…. She’s the only one who can walk by my side. I will only marry her in this life.” Ling Buyi

“Although she [CSS] appears cold on the outside, she has always been a very caring person. She can only put her mind at ease, when those she cares about are doing well. That’s why I make sure all of you [CSS’s families and friends] are doing well.” Ling Buyi

"I can brew wine... build a water wheel... build kilns and fire tiles... Whether Ling Buyi is around or not, I'm a lady who lives well... Ling Buyi is the person I love most in this world. But I am nobody but myself." Cheng Shao Shang

“I told Her Majesty that since I engaged to you [LBY], everyone saw me as your fiancee. No one saw me as Cheng Shao Shang anymore. Her Majesty said that I was brought up as an independent lady. I only cared about myself, my personal gains and losses. She said I should try to be more amenable… more flexible." Cheng Shao Shang

"I'm proficient in poetry and classics. You're [CSS] good at building mechanisms. Everyone has something they're good at. You know what others don't. I'll slowly teach you what others know... There's no need to feel inferior. You can lift your head high." Empress Xuan

“When she [CSS] was young and needed to be loved most, she wasn’t loved by her family. If you [LBY] want to love her, you have to make up for her grief. Don’t always make her understand your choice. Only by discussing can you keep walking side-by-side.” Empress Xuan

"Back then, I always hoped she could be more mature. Until today, she has become so composed, as if she was a different person. Recalling old times, she behaved aggressively, always romped around. But it put my mind at ease... Was I mistaken since the beginning?" Cheng Shao Shang's mother

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Completed
Reborn Rich
5 people found this review helpful
Dec 25, 2022
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 8.5

"I have three extra things in my heart... greed, suspicion and betrayal.”

Reborn Rich is a social satire of the upper class with a satisfying regression and makjang twist. It has quickly become one of the highest-rated dramas in South Korean cable history, alongside Sky Castle and The World of the Married.

PLOT & CHARACTERS:

Yoon Hyun Woon is a high school graduate who's forced to become the loyal dog that handles the dirty deeds for the Soonyang conglomerate to climb the corporate ladder. He's then murdered and reincarnated as the youngest grandson, Jin Do Joon, of the very same family that enslaved him. Rather than placating his newfound rich grandfather for a meager share of the inheritance, he holds the ambition of buying out Soonyang as revenge. What ensues is a thrilling and intense battle of wits as Doo Joon entraps his relatives by using their own insatiable greed and ulterior motives against them.

Through the ruthless succession conflicts, we not only see the degradation of society but also the salvaged shreds of humanity that are left. While Do Joon has to master the art of "greed, suspicion and betrayal" in his quest for vengeance, he still maintains a bottom line to protect the interests of those he cares about. He's not exactly the hero type, but he can get the job done in the most spectacular (and unconventional) way without resorting to illegal means. Each episode is filled with unexpected plot twists and crazy cliffhangers that keep you on the edge of your seat. It's interesting how there's no singular villain since every member of the Jin family is a culpable suspect.

However, my favourite part has to be Do Joon's relationship with his grandfather. Jin Yang Cheol is a complex character that's hard to love, or hate. He's a shrewd and cynical businessman who's built his empire upon draconian and often unethical practices. Yet he's hit with a dilemma, whether to pass his entire fortune to his oldest son's line or the one who resembles him and can make Soonyang grows the most. On the surface, Do Joon is his head-on rival. But at a much deeper level, Yang Cheol regards him as his favourite grandson, someone who genuinely cares about his welfare and business ideology.

CAST & PRODUCTION:

Behind every great show is a spectacular cast, and this is no different. Song Joong Ki is a surprising yet very fitting choice for the lead role. I love how he can quickly switch from the playful college student into the cut-throat gangster when he's about to 'negotiate' a deal. I guess it's a great balance between his character in Vincenzo and Descendants of the Sun. Plus, the turtleneck and baggy jeans definitely add to the Steve-Job entrepreneur vibe as well. I really like his chemistry with Shin Hyun Bin who plays the female lead. She certainly has a makeover from the sleep-deprived surgeon in Hospital Playlist into a feisty and stylish prosecutor.

Lee Sung Min is definitely a force to reckon with. As a veteran actor, he pulls off the mean and hard-to-please expression of Jin Yang Cheol extremely well. As the powerful head of the Soonyang Corporation and Jin family, he's supposed to be the most commanding presence in the room. It's not until the later episodes that we get to see glimpses of a softer and perhaps more vulnerable Jin Yang Cheol when he's with Do Joon, his favourite grandson. The rest of the Jin family is very well cast. They're each greedy, entitled and scandalous in their own way.

OVERALL:

While the plot and characters have been exaggerated for entertainment purposes, the drama still contains many real-life events that make it quite a nostalgic watch, especially for South Koreans. It's refreshing to see Do Joon walking us through the IMF Crisis, the South Korean team in the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals, Seo Taiji and Boys' disbandment, and the list goes on. There have also been suggestions that the drama also drew inspiration from the current political landscape in South Korea, with the omnipotent status of conglomerates and 'chaebols'.

Reborn Rich is a masterpiece in its own right. It's a perfect combination of fantasy, business, family and revenge themes that somehow has a duality to it. Dramatic and shocking yet still very humane.

FAVOURITE QUOTES:

“I guess I’m like you [his grandfather]. I have three extra things in [my heart]. They’re full of greed, suspicion, and betrayal.” Jin Do Joon

“When you bring up a servant, you mustn’t give him great housing and a full stomach... Because he’ll begin to think that he’s the master… Righteous management? To me, money is righteousness.” Jin Yang Cheol

“The day that he defies me, it won’t matter if he’s my family or not.” Jin Yang Cheol

“The two things a fighter has no use for are his appendix and compassion. Sympathy! You cannot afford to drag such useless emotions to war. It’ll only weigh you down. ” Jin Yang Cheol

“I know he wouldn’t hesitate to sell me if he could buy Soonyang. If he tramples all over me to go forward, there will be nothing he can’t do. Only then can he protect Soonyang.” Jin Yang Cheol

“Being born a servant was not my choice. But I could choose the owner to serve.” Jin Yang Cheol's secretary

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Completed
Douluo Continent
2 people found this review helpful
Mar 14, 2021
40 of 40 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0

A true hidden gem, we need another season!

I must admit I enjoyed this adaptation much more than I expected. From a production perspective, this drama is nothing out of the ordinary. Its settings look a bit shabby and the background music can be out of place at times. I almost gave up after 8 eps but I'm glad I didn't cause the story really picks up from there.

I'm genuinely surprised how this small-budgeted drama was able to attract so many pros, I mean we got the Joy of Life's screenwriter, The Untamed's costume designer and last but not least Xiao Zhan. I know this was before they all blew up but still... the INSANE luck.

While I do like the manhua, the characters in the drama are much less... sparkly and fantastical. They seem more down-to-earth and human with raw emotions and short-comings. I LOVE all of the new Shrek students and teachers, I feel like their unique personalities and quirks stand out a lot more in the drama. The casting is absolutely amazing! They're really complementary to their roles, especially the bubbly Xiao Wu and the goofy Ou Si Ke. There are many big-budgeted dramas that just flop because of bad chemistry.

And Xiao Zhan, what can I say? I'm even more in love. I think this role is perfect for him since Tang San is caring and gentle but also very determined and righteous. His acting has really improved from filming The Wolf and The Untamed. While the character here is not as dramatic and complex as Wei Wu Xian, it has its own charms. And yes, I'm obsessed with Xiao Zhan's new hair and his OST has been on repeat ever since it's out.

Overall, I think you need to have an open mind when approaching this adaption. Sure it might be tough to get through the first few eps since Xuanhuan might not be everyone's cup of tea as we're more familiar with Wuxia and Xianxia but the reward is totally worth it. Based on enjoyment alone, this drama is already in my hall of fame. It's a modest drama that leaves you begging for more, a true hidden gem indeed.

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Ongoing 12/16
100 Days My Prince
4 people found this review helpful
Sep 16, 2018
12 of 16 episodes seen
Ongoing 0
Overall 7.5
Story 6.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 6.5

Who said a prince can't be 1.72m?

What's else to say other than I'm hooked. D.O. never stops surprising me with his acting skills, from being such a believable imaginary brother in It's Okay That's Love to the composed psychopathic killer in Hello Monster and now this.

STORY:
This drama is one with grace and eloquence, much attributed to the flawless script. I enjoy the steady pace where it is neither too slow to be boring nor too dramatic to leave the audience huffing and puffing for air. There is also a perfect balance between romance and politics, which is unusual as sometimes those old officials can really exasperate and bore you with their greeds and Machiavellian means.

CAST:
Who said a prince can't be 1.72m? In dramaland, it is often assumed that a prince should be tall but it's a fact that most princes in history were probably even shorter, genetic is not perfect after all. There are also criticism of D.O.'s "stiffness" and "brooding face" circulating since his debut. However, this drama will be his first step in breaking those preconceptions. His indifferent expression and intense stare play wonder in portraying the emptiness of the lonely prince. They will make every bit of his character development even more rewarding in the sense that every slight smile and gestures showing adoration towards the female MC become more obvious. And when you get the whole smile, it will be like your Christmas prezzie has come early.

Ji Hyun is doing a fine job playing the female lead, but I feel there could be more room for developing character uniqueness. I have not seen as good child actors playing historical dramas for a long time, since Ijimae and The Moon Embraces the Sun. I'm also glad that the supporting casts are quite familiar from past historical dramas, as they are very good at creating a strong backbone for the story and effective in moving the plot along.

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
This is more like an amalgamation of Iljimae and Love in the Moonlight in terms of visuals. It has the stunning vibrant palette while not so sharp and 'crispy', keeping some of that old historical charms. Also, interesting uses of contrast in costumes. The prince wears dark-coloured silk clothes before he meets 'her' but starts to wear rough white ones after the amnesia (no spoiler btw). This not only emphasises the couple's different standings in social hierarchy but it also shows how the prince is able to forget his sorrows. It strikes a question that whether being a prince is worth it afterall and is it really horrible to be such a low-life?

MUSIC:
I'm disappointed that they haven't incorporated much of Gummy's Fade Away into the actual episodes. It is well-known that whichever drama Gummy sings for, it will be special and this should be no exception. Her voice really suits the pure, longing and bittersweet love in historical dramas. Hopefully, as the drama rolls out we will be able to witness the magical and memorable moments with Gummy's voice in the back to amplify everything by 10 times.

OVERALL:
I can guarantee that you're getting la crème de la crème with this drama. If you are not interested even after the first 2 eps, then the historical genre is not for you.

QUOTES:

"Am I the only one uncomfortable?"

“Ever since I became the prince, 69 329 hours have passed, but I have yet not smile.”

“It is not that I cannot forget about her. It is that she still remains in my memory."

“My heart cannot seem to persuade my body.”

“The scorpion that must cross a creek on a frog’s back stung the frog. It is obvious that they will both sink and die. So why kill the frog?”

“You must kill in order not to be killed.”

“You must return as a dead body. That is how I wish to see you.”

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Completed
Ashes of Love
2 people found this review helpful
Aug 31, 2018
63 of 63 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.0

This is not just another C-drama!

Wow.

I remember binge-watching the entire 56 eps in 2 days. Now that speaks volume, even for a career binge-watcher like myself.

STORY:
If you like Eternal Love and Journey of Flower, this is the next to go on that watch-list. I normally find C-dramas a bit draggy about 1/3 way through but not this time. If you’ve seen Fighter of Destiny you’ll know what I’m talking about (no offence Luhan). This is a fairly structured plot with quality character development and irresistible cliff-hangers that left me on my tip-toes at the end of every ep. I can see that the director and scriptwriters are trying their best to stay true to the novel. Bravo.

CAST:
Not only do Jin Mi and Xu Feng look good together, they have chemistry. For me, couple chemistry is the main reason I’m in dramaland. A good chemistry would be able to make you laugh, cry and more than most scream in frustration if they’re not together.

Deng Lun has caught my attention ever since Princess Agents and I’m happy he finally landed an MC role in a big-budget historical drama. As for Yang Zhi, she is the perfect choice for this. As much as I enjoy seeing Zanilia and Yang Mi in beautiful historical costumes, Yang Zhi really brought out the essence of Flower Goddess while still remained refreshingly childlike and gullible.

Before I forget, the 2nd lead and other supporting actors are also very impressive. Run Yu and Sui He are extremely effective in moving the plot along at a steady pace while not being overly dramatic. I'm surprised they even got such a good young and fledgling actor to play the childish match-making god.

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Breathtaking. Vibrant yet very subtle and delicate palette made the watching experience extremely surreal, reflecting much of the immortal world. The CGI is flawlessly incorporated and none of those cringy and awkward magic moments from outdated CGI. Costume design is spectacular with fabric layers light as feathers, capturing the swift body movements of spell incantations.

MUSIC:
Theme songs are not particularly catchy but still memorable and enhance the drama really well at crucial moments. I like the soundtrack sang by Yang Zhi (Love Frost) especially because it’s bitterly and nostalgically sweet. Otherwise, Unsullied by Mao Buyi really set the scene as the intro.

OVERALL:
Ashes of Love is definitely the epitome of what Chinese historical / fantasy dramas should be. Cdramas are normally 2 to 3 times longer than Kdramas. So in order to remain competitive within the Asian market as well as others, not only does the cinematography have to be outstanding the plot also has to have a strong backbone. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of the new era for world-class quality Cdramas. So far this should be my fav C-drama, not gonna lie.

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