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Completed
The Rise of Phoenixes
17 people found this review helpful
Oct 3, 2018
70 of 70 episodes seen
Completed 13
Overall 7.5
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 7.5
This review may contain spoilers

Beautiful Production, Puzzling Plot

The Rise of Phoenixes kept me hooked from start to finish, and for me this is a serious act of binge watching, but... I tend to disagree with fans on the internet comparing this show to Nirvana in Fire, or even Game of Thrones. This show wasn't up to par compared to those two. I think what mesmerized me were the stunningly filmed scenes and actors. I just love to look at beautiful faces and places. The leading couple took my breath away sometimes. Although Ni Ni was forced to play a Mary Sue, completely different from her character in the original novel, I easily forgot all this by just looking at her. The same can be said about Chen Kun. He sometimes fell into the trap of emotional, hammy playing, with eyeball rolling and all, but compensated this with good scenes that made him a true anti-hero. I loved their flirting scenes and their love scene beneath a water surface. Also the supporting cast did a good job, especially the old emperor.

So why do I feel unsatisfied after 70 episodes? I think it was the script. With historical drama there’s usually the choice between (a) the “man meets woman/they fall in love/they have difficulties/their love survives or not”- storyline or (b) the “man meets woman/they support each other/one of them choose to break up for the common good”- storyline. I guess this production didn’t make this choice. It started as a love story, and abruptly hopped off to version (b). I wonder why, because we didn’t see the suffering of the common people at all, they were absent during all scenes.

There was also an inconsistency in characters. Normally there are outright heroes, villains, and anti-heroes in a show. Ning Yi is the anti-hero type, who should have become more defined as the story fleshed out. It didn’t happen. In the original novel his life experiences made him another man. In the end he dares to choose for his personal happines. In this production however, although he’s portrayed as a highly intelligent man, Ning Yi only wants to win the throne above all other things, turning him into a Macbeth type. This makes his character difficult to portray. How can this prince be a romantic anti-hero, a highly treacherous schemer, and an intelligent person at the same time? The same goes for Feng Zhiwei. She’s the protagonist/heroine of the story. She’s young, intelligent and she becomes an imperial adviser, she doesn’t know her origins and is highly naive, although she can be plucky and daring at the same time. The moment she knew about the fate of several people who gave their life for the sake of her heritage and dynasty, she should have thought about her purpose, her goal in life. It would have been a call to action for her type of character. This happened in the novel. In this production however, after a few revengeful thoughts, she became like many heroines in other c-drama: a brokenhearted, passive love interest.

This production could have been a complicated love story. In stead it became the story of many people whose lives became intertwined. They just happened to meet at the same place, at the same time under difficult circumstances, namely the struggle for power at the imperial palace. All actors did their very best, this makes it worth your time. There are many questions left about certain events, and characters, so it feels that even 70 episodes is not enough. Perhaps a remake will meet the challenge.

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The Brightest Star in the Sky
12 people found this review helpful
May 10, 2019
44 of 44 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 6.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 7.0

Music Lovers

Just finished the ending of this series on YouTube and I feel the urge to write a review. I’ve mixed feelings, because I’ve been hooked by every episode, but felt some irritation as well.

Synopsis
All her life Yang Zhen Zhen (Janice Wu) wants to be a pop artist. She works as a jack-of-all-trades at a major music agency, in the after hours she puts all her energy in talent shows. She never wins, but she decides to aid her former contest opponent Yu Zi Rui (Niu Jun Feng) to become a star one day.
Zhen Zhen is friendly, optimistic, fighting for her beliefs. That’s why her boss entrusts her with the difficult task of being a personal assistant to singer-songwriter Zheng Bai Xu (Huang Zitao). Bai Xu is the big star of his agency, but he’s pursued by media scandals due to his unpredictability and unrestrained actions. He gives Zhen Zhen a lot of head aches and anxiety. They bicker non-stop, but are in fact kindred spirits. They both like to live and fight for their music. Bai Xu wants to become a rapper, but his agency won’t let him, earning money from his career as it is. Question is: will they succeed in living their life the way they want to?

The Good
Don’t expect just another c-pop vehicle for ZTao, this drama has some good side stories, f.e. the relationship with his rich father and siblings, and there's a nice flow in the story telling.
If you’re a fan of Janice Wu, you won’t be disappointed. She really shines. In the script it is said that her clothing is poor and simple, but during the whole show her styling is perfect with each episode another outfit. Also ZTao doesn’t look bad when he leaves the swimming pool, and together they have a lot of cute, sweet moments. The supporting cast delivers a good job as well, especially the ideal-son-in-law Niu Jun Feng who plays a darker sort of character for a change.

The Bad
It is almost symptomatic in Chinese series, but there it is…this drama fails to deliver a sound closure. Really, how difficult can it be to portray a struggling artist who becomes a succes in the end, in his own right, without the help of his rich father, or agency? I won’t give any spoilers, you’ll have to see this for yourself.
Another minor thing, the styling of the actors is great, but it pains me to see what they did to ZTao. His lipstick is thicker, pinker than anyone. Combined with his dramatic hair-do and eyeliner he looks more like a drag queen to me. The only time I could believe Zhen Zhen would fall in love with him, was at the pool and on the beach where he was filmed without the heavy makeup.
Thanks to Janice the chemistry with ZTao was on point, but it took a long time before they kissed, and when they did, it was an anti climax for me. Aigoo, I was waiting for a lingering kiss full of intense emotion, not a touch of the lips left in "pause" mode.

Verdict
Still I recommend this c-drama to all romcom/music/boss-secretary lovers. Leave your brain on the shelf and enjoy this classic story about the arrogant male and his female assistant who become of one mind completing each other.

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Completed
Time Teaches Me to Love
5 people found this review helpful
Jan 17, 2019
24 of 24 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 7.5

Love the Height Difference

I tumbled upon this series using the tag #arrogant male, watching the show in Mandarin. As far as I know there isn't any subbed version available, which is strange considering the fact that the lead actress is Canadian.

Following the story wasn't really difficult though. Imagine a k-drama from 10 years ago, about an arrogant, young heir, his antagonistic dad, his friend turning into foe, a rich girl who wants to marry him, and this fresh poor girl who turns his world upside down. So I didn't put much effort in listening, and looked my fill instead. The scenes with the leading couple were sweet and sexy, they looked like a manga come alive. Their acting was good, I'll give you that, but it was the height difference that did it. Works like a charm with me since Boys over Flowers.

Actress Ireine Song is totally believable as the innocent girl without getting on my nerves, something she has in common with actress Zanilia Zhao. I think I'll watch her playing in Ever Night next time. I've never seen actor Yim Yue Ho/Jerry Yan, but he seems to be a perfect blend of good looking k-drama actors. Hopefully he gets the chance in future roles to show he's more than the arrogant male type.

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Completed
Hi Flower
3 people found this review helpful
Jun 17, 2019
18 of 18 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 8.5

Living with Debt or Guilt

Being warned by earlier reviews not to waste my time on Hi Flower/Ugly Girl Hai Ru Hua I still couldn't resist watching this series adding the English subs from Subscene to the raw version I found online. I like the actors, both played in Ten Miles Of Peach Blossom, I love romcoms about student life, and I don't mind if the story gets darker as long as I can relate to the characters. Just like watching Moon Lovers Scarlet Heart Ryeo. This k-drama started very light, but before I knew it, I could only watch it with a tissue box at hand. Still I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Synopsis
Hi Flower is a romcom/drama about growing pains at campus and living with debt, or guilt. Female lead Lu Ruhua (Zhu Xudan) suffers from heavy debts of her family and high medical bills due to the heart disease of her twin brother. Eager to earn every penny she can get she's a jack-of-all-trades, selling all kind of services at her university "except for my body". One day she encounters the male lead, wealthy heir Wen Chu (Lai Yi) who immediately clashes with her because of her materialistic attitude. Eventually his hate turns into love. Still their budding relationship is full of misunderstandings and unlucky events. Will they find happiness together, or do they have to live separately, feeling guilty for the rest of their life?

The good
I know there are a lot of complaints about the characters. The female lead is too much of a saint...the male lead is immature, self centered...the girls are either highly naive or mean...the boys are lazy, a bunch of users. Yes, agreed to all that, but isn't this picture quite realistic too? Naturally we like to see kick-ass heroines, relatable boyfriends, understanding parents and such, but my experience is this takes a long haul in real life, with obstacles and unruliness along the way, and the end not yet in sight. I found myself drawn into the story, it had a nice flow as well. Also I loved the chemistry between the actors.

The Bad
This drama contains a lot of clichés like in Boys over Flowers. There's this poor, hard working girl, troubled by the debt of her family, she's loved and admired by several men, and she likes this rich, arrogant boy, against all odds, despite of his antagonistic family. Moreover the light and funny events in the first season change into angsty, tear jerking moments in the second.

Still...if you like a student life romcom blended with melodrama this is for you. The ending isn't all that bad.

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The Legend of Jasmine
3 people found this review helpful
May 13, 2019
40 of 40 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 7.0

The Beauty of Mongolia

I've watched this series raw, couldn't find any subs, but I hope someone will meet the challenge. The Legend of Jasmine is worth it, a luxurious production with beautiful costumes, faces and places.

Summary
A historical drama set in the beautiful surroundings of Mongolia at the early years of the Qing Dynasty, how good is that! The story begins with an energetic Mongol girl, Su Moer, who disguises as her brother to compete in a horse riding contest. Of course she wins, and her fierce competitor, Dorgon, is soon smitten with her.
One day an army invades her country, her parents got killed and she’s sent together with the Mongol princess to the Great Jin to receive his protection.
There, Su Moer and Dorgon meet again. It appears he’s a man of consequence in his homeland. Is there a possibility to stay together or was their romance doomed from the beginning?

The Good
This series is partly set in Mongolia and that is a big pro for me. The wide grasslands, round tents, costumes, are simply beautiful. The soundtrack fits the story, and the cast did a good job as well.

The Bad
It pains me to admit this, but I wasn't a fan of the actress who played the heroine. I got distracted by the plastic surgery on her face to a point I could no longer relate to her character. I felt myself looking at a modern day diva in historical clothing. Such a pity.
A lot worse is the fact that there are no subs, and probably there never will be. The CN authorities declared a new quota on drama in March 2019, yearly 60% contemporary vs. 40% historical/fantasy. Some historical titles are put on a list to disappear right after broadcasting, and to be wiped off online. The Legend of Jasmine is on that list.

Verdict
My advice is to watch this series a.s.a.p. if you're a sucker for historical drama and romance. If you wait too long, there's a change it might be too late.

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Completed
Unique Lady
3 people found this review helpful
Mar 30, 2019
24 of 24 episodes seen
Completed 3
Overall 8.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0

Funny story, amazing chemistry

Just finished Jueshi Qianjin, and I rewatched it already. The leading couple is that good. This series is amazing just to look at, even without the subs. It seems to be based on a game, so perhaps that’s why the story is so-so, but it didn’t bother me in the least.

Love is a Game
It’s relaxing to watch that on-going, tiresome search for a partner in life turned into a Love Game. Imagine a modern day girl getting the chance to choose from all kinds of yummy men. Although I can’t understand why it always has to be the bullying boy, apart from the fact that the love-hate theme is still going strong in romcom series, I can easily get why people are falling for the male lead.

Actors
Whether Simon Gong plays the BL interest in Advance Bravely or whether he’s Prince Charming for this time traveling girl, he’s the same heartthrob…easy on the eye…not bothered by method acting whatsoever. I’m curious if he becomes a natural after he transfers to grown-up characters.
I don’t know much about Greenly Zheng. She has a lovely voice, unlike the shrill actresses I have to endure sometimes . I was pleasantly surprised by Yú Tiān Yì playing the rich boy Jiang Xuan Yu, I hope to see more of him in future series. The supporting cast did a good job as well.

The Story
I’ve watched Jueshi Qianjin until episode 24, which is, hopefully, an open ending. So I’m eagerly waiting for a sequel, let’s say in modern times.

(Rap) Music and Dancing
The look and feel of this series wasn’t that bad either. The soundtrack has some catchy tunes, but I’ve never watched such bad acts from an actress in dancing and rap music like in this series, making her indeed A Unique Lady.

Verdict
What can I say? I just love razzie award winning productions. Give this series a try, you won’t regret it.

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Completed
Bloody Romance
2 people found this review helpful
Sep 22, 2018
36 of 36 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0

Love and Pain

Bloody Romance kept me hooked till the end. I knew this would be a heart wrenching story, but the plot unfolded beautifully. No one is really good or bad in this series, several characters change under endurance or by unhappy events. They all make mistakes and exactly this makes them human. I won't say too much about the storyline, just watch it for yourself, but I have to say this: there are a lot of scenes where love is mixed with pain. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the original novel seems to be a bit on the SM side, I don't know. I'll give you one example of these twisted feelings, the scene where Gong Zi is forced to torture Wan Mei by carving her face. Although he intends to be his very levelheaded, calculating self Zing looses himself in the end. It's like a love scene he's never experienced before: https://youtu.be/RW2For449-8?t=18m38s

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Completed
Ossan's Love
1 people found this review helpful
May 1, 2019
7 of 7 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 7.0

What is Love Anyway?

There are a lot of Japanese BL movies, also a homosexual office romance Doushitemo Furetakunai (No Touching at all) but to my knowledge Ossan’s Love is the first and only BL dramaseries that is mainstream broadcasted in Japan, so I was very curious.

True Love
Just like the other BL movies Ossan’s Love is based on a manga, and it shows. There are a lot of cartoon-like characters, and scenes, that made me laugh and eager to follow the story until the end. Perhaps because of this I started to stare and compare with another BL dramaseries, Diary of Tootsies (Thailand 2016)
Both series follow a couple of friends in their search for true love. The Thais series has a more western touch like Sex &The City, the leads are very straight forward in their desires with hilarious sex scenes. Ossan’s Love is more asian in the willingness to remain aloof in a traditional society. The chemistry between the leading couple is absolutely there, but the emphasis is on platonic love until the very last episode when their days of holding back seem over.

Summary
Ossan’s Love, literally the love of a middle-aged man, is about the love life of Haruta Soichi and his colleagues at an estate office.
Haruta is a good looking 33 year old man, also well hung if we have to believe the stares he get at the men’s room, but with a goofy personality. He’s always ready to please everyone, perhaps because he’s too lazy to fight, which brings him in awkward situations. To make things worse he’s also lacking in social skills. That’s why he’s unlucky in group dating, but he enjoys a small circle of good friends.
Haruta still lives with his mother, until she gets fed up with him and leaves. Since Haruta can’t do any basic housework he asks co-worker Maki Ryouta to live with him. To his surprise Maki is the best partner he could dream of, but it seems life has more for him in stock. One day both his roommate Maki and his middle aged boss Musashi Kurosawa confess their ardent love to him. Also one of his female friends, Chizu Arai, goes into love mode. This is really too much for Haruta to handle. As his roller coaster journey to love begins, Haruta is constantly screaming and falling all over the place. Just like his friends and colleagues, who turn out to be exactly as ignorant on love and their desires as he is.

The Pros
Ossan’s Love is watchable for everyone, a warm and sweet opinion on humans and theirs struggles in life. Themes like group pressure, status in life, keeping up appearances, marriage, divorce, midlife crisis, it’s all there. The homosexuality makes it only more gripping. The cast is superb, not only the leading couple who gave me the feels. I also could relate to other characters, sympathized with the slighted lovers.

The Cons
This series is simply too short and way too platonic. Just like other fans I’m waiting for the sequel, what will happen to the relation of the male leads, and everybody involved?

The Verdict
I could see five seasons of Ossan’s Love and still be hooked, I guess. Please let this be the Modern Family Series of Japan.

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The Legends
1 people found this review helpful
Apr 26, 2019
56 of 56 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 9.0

Evil is just the Absence of Good

Sometimes I really need some hardcore romance besides the rom-coms I usually watch with their tongue-in-cheek love. This is one of those moments, and I am really satisfied with The Legends. This series has it all, outstanding headstrong characters, their own private history, High Fantasy, the Great Battle between Good & Evil, and last but not least the beautiful chemistry between the main couple, that starts unconsciously, shy, sweet and fizzes on the screen at times.

Summary
This drama has been adapted from a popular novel about divine sects who fight for the power in the pugilistic world.
The main story is about Lu Zhao Yao. Her grandfather’s sect is responsible for the guarding of the demon king’s son. This mystic person, later called Li Chen Lan, is unkept, covered with magic runes on his face. He lives chained, hidden and abandoned in the mountain because of his incredible evil powers he hasn’t mastered yet. No one is allowed to see him.
One time Zhao Yao meets, and saves, the good looking Luo Ming Xuan, the divine leader of the immortal ten sects. He becomes her shining example in life. She adores him and promises to live and fight for the good cause, using her powers to protect the defenseless.
Later she’s really shocked to find out Luo Ming Xuan is behind the nearing execution of the demon king’s son. True to her word she comes to the rescue of the demon king’s son, because he is defenseless and hasn’t done anything wrong (yet). So after a huge fight, that kills her own grandfather, she instantly becomes the arch enemy of the whole Good Sect Alliance, swearing she will be evil henceforth, if those hypocritical leaders call themselves good.
She hides away in the mountains, together with the very shy demon king’s son who adores her from now on, giving him the nicknames Mo Qing/Little Monkey-Munster.
They set up their own sect, the Wanlu sect, that leans towards unconventional sorcery and devilry to make it possible for common people to live a happy life without the bigotry of the so-called Good Sects. An all consuming war is the result, with many events that lead to wrong assumptions about love, good and evil for everyone involved.

The Good
One of the big cons of this series is the achievement of the cast. Not only the main actors, but also the other actors act very naturally with the exception of Zhang Xin. She plays the role of the lively Lu Shi Qi who has a crush on the aloof, holy Qin Qian Xian (Li Zi Feng) tending too much towards the archetype frolic Chinese girl, but I forgive her because she’s a funny sidekick.
Bai Lu shines as the kick ass heroine with all her moods and flaws. Never did she outplay her co actor Xu Kai. He skillfully navigates between the shyness and anger of his character Mo Qing/Li Chen Lan who sees Zhao Yao as the anchor and moral compass of his life.
I also liked the music and the scenery of hidden places like the snowy mountain, and the Feng Shui hideout of the main couple.

The Bad
I wonder how great Chinese drama truly can be, this series in particular, if the makers could change their style of writing and editing. Can somebody please explain what is wrong with the Chinese filming industry? I know there's censure, but the novels are okay, why don't they use the original storylines for a change? Honestly, the Chinese filming industry could use the Hollywood Closure as a model. Whether the ending is good or bad, I don't care... as long as there's a sound and fulfilling ending.

The Verdict
Sorry for my rant, but my frustration runs deep. In short: the end of this series isn’t as good as its beginning. Nevertheless I strongly recommend The Legends. This series has many interesting characters, an interesting Yin &Yang theory about the concept of Good & Evil, and heart fluttering moments. Enjoy!

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Completed
Man Comes to Tang Dynasty
1 people found this review helpful
Dec 5, 2018
40 of 40 episodes seen
Completed 4
Overall 7.5
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 7.5
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 7.5

Man gets a Harem

Let me start with saying I just can't get enough from time travel shows, so perhaps I'm biased with this series. Still I recommend Man Comes to Tang Dynasty. The time traveling aspect is more about adapting to life in the past, and less about changing, or going back to, the future.

The Good: just like the female leads in Faith, Scarlet Heart, and Cinderella Chef, the star of this show earns a lot of respect and love by using his modern knowledge for solutions to ancient problems. It's very funny to see how he develops from some kind of loser in present times to an intelligent hero in the past. He's also adept in living the ancient life of officials and people at court. He takes in concubines, he dabbles in ancient politics and power schemes, which is very refreshing in comparison to other heroines of time travel shows. Those girls were always on the verge of a nervous breakdown, because of these nasty pastimes of the past.

The Bad: okay, this is not an elaborate or luxurious production, so don't expect authentic costumes and such. The intro-music is modern too, sounding like a smooth singing boy band surrounded by girls, which is actually compatible with the harem-theme of the show.

I don't know if this show is somewhere to watch with English subs. Last time was on Viki, but these episodes have been deleted. The raw version is still on YouTube and there are subs available on Subscene. Anyway, if you like a lighthearted romcom that is set in ancient China, this is for you.

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The Ambiguous Focus
0 people found this review helpful
3 days ago
6 of 6 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 7.0

The Search for Identity & Self-invention

I just saw the full length movie version of The Ambiguous Focus (2017) not the 6 episodes drama (2018) and was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of both the story and cinematography. This is not your typical BL movie with fluffy, hilarious, or angsty scenes about teenage love. Right from the start the viewer is pulled into mature scenes with a gay couple trying to maintain their relationship.

The male leads, Nan and Zhen, know each other since school, their love story is shown in the prequel Kinematics Theory (2018). Both males are introverts, one is highly intelligent, highly sensitive, struggling to become a writer, the other is a good looking sporty guy who earns a living for both of them combining an office job with housekeeping. Just like the title their story is told, and filmed in a cryptic way, with different points of view from both men alternately, using a voice over, and complemented by comments of their friends.

Plot
Nan and Zhen are nearing their 10th anniversary together, Nan is secretly saving money to buy a new apartment for them which makes him vulnerable for a rich guy named Jimmy who likes to bribe and sabotage Nan into a relationship with himself. Suddenly Nan's father must be hospitalized and from that moment on Nan's lot spells disaster, forcing him to make rash promises and decisions that have a huge impact on his partner Zhen, and his own future with Zhen.

Pros
I've read a lot of comments on the sadness of this movie, or the quality of acting, but I don't see it that way. First, the story has an open ending, second the actors were eye candy, their acting above average even natural at times, third, I found the story beautifully told, not overly dramatic... although living in a homophobe world is dramatic enough as shown in the side stories of gay friends who aren't living on cloud nine either.
The scope is on relationships, and questions about love. "Do I really love this person, or do I love it that he needs me, and I need him? Do I love him so much that I can withstand other alluring people?"

Cons
Misunderstandings are needed in a script to give a boost to a story, but I hate it, personally. A lot of grief could have been avoided if the characters would speak their minds, not only in voice overs. Further I disliked the passiveness of Zhen's character, but again, that's personal taste.

Verdict
This movie reminded me somehow of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest". It shows that people are busy with image building and pleasing others, but it all comes down to our search for identity and self-invention to make relationships work. Go watch it!

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Ever Night
0 people found this review helpful
Jun 30, 2019
60 of 60 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 8.0

No Light Without Darkness

Ever Night depicts the adventures of characters in the Empire of Tang where humans co-exist with demigods, and masters & disciples in martial arts. The Emperor of Tang rules over several kingdoms with different religious sects trying to maintain a balance of power and peace. He’s hindered by his own royal family, due to rivalling wives and their offspring, and the opposition of the conquered kingdoms. Other troublemakers are the religious fanatics of Xiling and the barbaric Demon Sect in the North. Both parties believe in the foretelling of “Ever Night is coming” a.k.a. the Legend of the Son of Hades who will destroy all light and happiness in the world. Their mission is to find this child of darkness as soon as possible to kill him.
Both sects are highly skilled in martial arts leaning on mystical power from some kind of energy field that is created by light/angels/heaven or darkness/demons/earth. They are able to perform various super powers such as telepathy, telekinesis, and manipulation of physical energy. Apprentices are aided by their masters to obtain higher levels in power through training and meditation.

The protagonists of Ever Night are Ning Que and Sang Sang. They’ve lived together since early childhood, being both survivors from a massacre. The 5 year old Ning Que has found baby girl Sang Sang under a pile of corpses protected by a big black umbrella. Wherever they go they take this umbrella with them like a symbol of their relationship, a strong protective bond against all evils in the world.
Ning Que is driven by anger and revenge, Sang Sang is motivated by loyalty and love. Their story unfolds 15 years later. Ning Que (Arthur Chen) earns a living thanks to his natural fighting skills. One day he’s hired to accompany the royal princess of Tang to Wei City, where he decides to stay as a professional fighter while Sang Sang (Yiren Song) takes care of his basic needs and house hold.

Once they are settled in the city they become entangled in the power struggle of the palace factions and religious sects. The fanatics of Xiling believe Ning Que is the child of darkness so they try to kill him. Somehow every battle is won by Ning Que gaining him even more powers. One day he gets the chance to be trained by the Head Master of the Martial Academy of Tang. Ning Que grows into fame as Mister 13, the 13th disciple of the Academy, envied and admired by many people including beautiful ladies. More and more he’s driven by his testosterone levels and the iron ambition to kill the culprit of the massacre. This attitude puts pressure on his relationship with Sang Sang. Main question is: what’s more important, Ning Que’s passions or his lifelong habit to live with Sang Sang? Will they end up together or on opposite sites? There are no spoilers available, just an universal truth, There’s No Light Without Darkness.

The Pro’s
Ever Night has the look and feel of a Disney movie. Ning Que and Sang Sang seem like a leading couple in Star Wars sometimes. The cinematography is outstanding with glorious landscapes, buildings, close ups, time lapses of the weather, and slow motion scenes of falling rain. The music score is constantly pulling at my heart strings.
Then there's the cast. The 18 year male lead is very convincing as the apparently uncaring, selfish anti-hero whose only soft spot is his little “house maid”. Although the female lead is 6 years his senior she’s totally believable as the younger, loyal Sang Sang. I loved their teasing-caring scenes, and the painful awareness, eventually, of their own hidden feelings as shown in episode 45 and further.
Personally I’m not a fan of Wuxia battles, but if you are, you will appreciate the many fighting scenes, the choreography is A++.

The Cons
The characters from the supporting cast remain rather flat throughout the series. Take for instance the emperor. The way he calmly accepts the bad attitude from his family or political opponents keeps me wondering if he’s some sort of saint in stead of an absolute ruler. Also the antagonistic Prince Long Qing learns nothing from his faults, making his evilness somewhat dull and childish.
Certain costumes didn’t help to take some characters seriously like Second Brother with his Teletubby funnel hat, or the mysterious Xiling leader with his tinsel mask.
This epic adventure follows the traditional way of Chinese story telling meaning endless repetitions, flash backs, and a lack of focus on the main story in favor of less interesting side characters and long winding stories. So I had to resist the urge to use the fast forward button. To accentuate the positive, the flashbacks may be of help if remembering each name, background story, or fight scene becomes tiresome.
Last but not least the pacing of the story is very uneven, it flows from easy going romcom to long-term tragedy preventing me to jump onto the story completely.

Verdict
The beautiful faces, places, and music, won me over eventually. Ever Night ends with a cliff hanger, but I am a fan waiting for the sequel. I really want to know who’s the Xiling ruler behind the mask. He made me think of a good guy turned evil like Darth Vader. Perhaps he is the legendary pupil of Tang Academy, the one and only love interest of Madam Jian Da Jia of Red Sleeves Bordello. Who knows?

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Completed
Call of the Country
0 people found this review helpful
May 8, 2019
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 6.5
Rewatch Value 8.0

Work and (love) life of secret agents

This is the third time I've watched Call of the Country and it still delivers what I asked for, good laughs & action scenes, with insights in human characters & relationships. This show is not just another office romance, character development, redemption drama, or detective story, it's all in one, the Korean comedy-version of the successful BBC series Spooks/MI5.

Summary
The main story is about the rookie police officer Oh Ha Na who accidentally interrupts a secret operation of special agent Go Jin Hyuk. Team leader Go has a perfect elite background, he's a stickler for the rules unlike his older boss who's more a people manager. At first Go Jin Hyuk dislikes Miss Oh for disturbing his actions, even thinking she's a snitch who works for the highest bidder in the mafia, but soon he learns she's an original with a good heart, some one he could use in his team. From day one working together it doesn't take long to develop romantic feelings for each other. All goes well until Go's former girlfriend returns to his team, rekindling their unfinished business. The second story is about the developing relationship between Oh Ha Na and the son of a chaebol who's dabbling in art trade apparently using his work as a cover for drugs trade. She's working undercover as his secretary, gaining evidence for his arrest.

The Good
I love the dynamics between the main couple. Oh Ha Na seems silly and rash at first sight, but she's more serious than people think, and easily hurt as well. Go Jin Hyuk seems Mr. Perfect but happens to be stiff and unfeeling some times not easily relating to less perfect humans . Also the story about the narcissistic son of the chaebol who develops feelings for his secretary, is an entertaining romcom on its own.

The Bad
Personally I don't have anything against this show, but I understand why people complain about the "second lead syndrome" here. The love of the second male develops gradually, taking more episodes, and his interaction with Oh Ha Na is shown more physically. The main leads don't get much screen time for their love scenes. Their love is more talked about than shown, if only in cat fighting scenes between the former girlfriend and Oh Ha Na, making their love more funny and cheesy.

The Verdict
If you don't mind that romance is less important than comedy, and if you like watching series about the work and (love) life of workers in secret service , this is for you. Made almost ten years ago, this show is still very entertaining.

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Ongoing 22/22
Sweet Revenge
0 people found this review helpful
Apr 22, 2019
22 of 22 episodes seen
Ongoing 0
Overall 7.5
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 7.0

Revenge can be sweet

With all those heavy-weight dramas I sometimes ache for a cute and sweet story. That’s why this web drama felt good to me. The title was confusing at first, because I thought this would be some version of Death Note, but it turned out to be about daily school issues like bullying, the rich & poor gap, the beauties & ugly ducklings, first love & teachers, family & friends. The male leads were eye candy, there’s a cameo of ASTRO and the female lead became more daring and lovelier each episode, although she was shy and passive at first.

Summary
There are two storylines in this short web drama. First a love story that made me think of another web drama called Queen of the Ring (2017). The male lead is a pretty boy, tall, and with the looks of a model. The female lead is a little plain Jane but sweet and adorable, so that she catches the eye of another boy as well. He’s the best friend of her brother and a famous idol to boot, only he didn’t get the chance to show his feelings yet.
Second there’s a fantasy story about a mobile app called Revenge Note that suddenly pops up in the phone of the female lead. It creates the opportunity to note the name of someone who is bullying her. When she does, bad things start to happen to that person. She discovers that her life can be sweet that way, but it also gets more complicated, and who’s helping her anyway? This remains a mystery to her, and to us.

The Good
The mix of school life and fantasy is well done. Further I liked the character development of the female lead. Usually the female lead is instrumental to the happiness of the male lead. Not in this series. Here it’s the other way around.

The Bad
Like I said the male lead was pretty to look at, but he remained rather flat and unknown. We don't learn much about his family or background. Also this series is really short. There's also a loop hole in the story of the Revenge Note.

The Verdict
Still I would recommend this series. Just watch it for yourself and stay tuned for the sequel in 2018 in order to find out who made this mysterious Revenge Note after all.

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Completed
Kimi Wa Petto
0 people found this review helpful
Oct 4, 2018
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 7.5

Human Intimacy Tamagotchi Style

So far I've seen two live action versions of this popular manga series in Japan. The story is about a career woman in her thirties who takes in a ballet dancer eight years her junior as a pet. She calls him "Momo", the name of her old dog. At work she's in a relationship with a conventionally perfect boyfriend. The man proposes to her, but she's reluctant to accept him. Somehow she got addicted to the dopamines of petting her ballet dancer, especially his tousled hair that she washes every single day.

Just imagine how weird this is, or may I say "only in Japan", we see a single lady who shares her apartment with a young man under the pretence that he's her dog. She can cuddle him whenever she likes, no strings attached, like he's a living male Tamagotchi. Also this storyline about an older woman dating a younger man is typically Japanese, watch for instance TV shows like Rasuto Shinderera/Last Cinderella, Otona Joshi/Lady girls, Ishitachi no Reiai Jijyou/Doctor's affairs. The young men in these series share the same characteristics: they are attentive, soft, idealistic, and they aren't afraid of body contact. Perhaps this kind of man is fulfilling a need in modern Japan, who knows? I see these TV shows in a different light since I've watched some documentaries about the loss of human intimacy in Japan.

Anyway, I enjoyed You're My Pet like a fairytale. The actors have good chemistry, I liked their dialogues, and their kisses. This adaption has a sound, fulfilling ending, so if you like sweet romance, this is for you.

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