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Iron Masked Singer
4 people found this review helpful
Aug 22, 2020
30 of 30 episodes seen
Completed 7
Overall 7.0
Story 6.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 5.0
I watched this drama because I was on a Jang Na Ra binge and the poster for this drama had a interesting image of Jang Na Ra on it. There doesn't seem to be much information on the drama and I couldn't find any English subtitles (except for an incomplete one from Viki) so I watched it in its native Chinese (You can find it freely on youtube).

Now for the review:

First its flaws:
What I found immediately annoying about this drama was its stilted dialogue. The flow of the conversation was never natural and lacked emotion and people would just repeat the same things over and over again. It was so cringe-inducing that I almost wanted to drop the drama in the first episode. However, the dialogue got progressively better with each episode, and I quickly got used to it, so it wasn't too bad of a problem.

Besides that, I really disliked how much the plot of the story was driven by chance encounters. Perhaps this is just par for the course of a standard soapy pseudo makjang-esque story. But even so, the amount of fires, plane crashes, car crashes, and sudden sicknesses that conveniently shifted the course of the story really cheapened an otherwise interesting premise.

In a similar manner, I didn't really like the pacing of the story. The pacing starts pretty evenly, but then it gets faster and faster until episode twenty. Honestly, this was fine, and the story was quite interesting. But then after that, for the last 10 episodes, the pacing suddenly became extremely slow and in some parts it almost seemed as though they were trying to turn the drama into a suspenseful horror thriller with dark ambiance and creepy music. This is extremely jarring and out of place when the first twenty episodes was your standard romance story. This change in pacing of the last 10 episodes were exacerbated the shift in focus away from the titular main heroine Hu Die. Other than a few scenes of walking around, she virtually dissipated from the show with no more character development.

Speaking of Hu Die, I disliked how inconsistent her character was. This is a problem other characters also faced, but I felt it was most apparent with her. Throughout the show, she faces a lot of tragedy, so its expected that her personality would morph. However sometimes, the change in personality is sudden and in inexplicable ways that don't make any sense. For example, in the beginning Hu Die is portrayed as this kind, innocent and compassionate girl who slowly becomes more bitter and resentful from all suffering she has. While this change is expected, later, after she becomes the famous singer, she somehow also suddenly becomes a snobby b*tch that acts condescendingly as if she is above everyone. This change is very sudden and when other characters comment on this, she literally says "Sorry, I also don't know why I'm acting like this." Yet, after a while of this personality, she randomly changes again back into the more compassionate version -- which then changes again. The inconsistent character growth and personality is just annoying and makes it hard to understand Hu Die.

Lastly, the dubs were not that great in the show either. I quickly got used to it so it wasn't much of a problem. But the lip syncing for some of the actors were never exactly on point. This was especially true for Hu Die (Jang Na Ra), which while understandable as she is a Korean actress being dubbed with Chinese was still somewhat annoying.

Now that I listed a bunch of gripes with the story, I will go down with the positives:

First off, while the story itself used a lot of cheap plot devices to move it along, the overarching story was quite unique. The premise of a girl saving a guy only to get pregnant and abandoned was quite interesting, and the drama develops it in an unique enough way that kept me watching until I finished all thirty episodes despite all the flaws. That being said, I must qualify this statement by saying that the end wasn't the best out there. It didn't necessarily leave me craving for more, but I still felt it was somewhat rushed and could of been given a longer conclusion. Similarly, even though the overall story was pretty good, I feel like they could have done so much more with the premise that was given. The premise could have been used to explore and provided commentary on the challenge of single-motherhood or the effects of a celebrity career on raising a child etc, but instead only brought about a superficial if interesting tragic ill-fated love story. This, I feel is a big missed opportunity.

Now for what I most liked about this drama, it is definitely the set design and the clothing. The set truly evoked the feeling of a Shanghai set in the Republic of China era. The architecture and streets were all amazing and somewhat unique, pointing to an era of China that has all but disappeared. Similarly, I loved the clothing. Especially for Jang Na Ra. In a qipao, Jang Na Ra looks absolutely amazing. Similarly, when she wears the mask, she truly looks like some mystical figure that could perhaps been a famous singer in those days. Honestly, of all the Jang Na Ra dramas I've watched (which is most of them), she is the most stunning looking in this one. Thus, if you are also a Jang Na Ra fan, I suggest skimming through this drama if not for the plot just to see some amazing (albeit dubbed) acting from her in amazing costumes.

Lastly, I also enjoyed the music in this show. Especially the song "Twin Fish", it really was quite beautiful and evoked the feeling of tragic love Hu Die was entwined in. I'm not sure if Jang Na Ra had personally sang the song, but I really enjoyed it.

Overall, the story and dialogue wasn't amazing and had a lot of untapped potential that could've made it an actual masterpiece. Even so, it with the set design, Jang Na Ra and the music kept me interested till the end.

I doubt I will re-watch the show, but I don't regret watching it. And I'd say, if you can understand Chinese and are a Jang Na Ra fan, give the drama a go. It doesn't seem to be very popular and a google search of the English title essentially yield nothing relevant other than a link to this page. But even, so I'd say the music, set design, unique premise and Jang Na Ra are enough to warrant a watch.

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My Bratty Princess
4 people found this review helpful
Sep 6, 2020
33 of 33 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0

An Underrated Gem

I started watching "My Bratty Princess" after trying to watch it's 2011 spinoff version also staring Jang Na Ra. The 2011 spinoff version was quite frustrating with weak characters and a stagnant storyline.

However, this is not at all the case with the 2005 original. Although the video quality is slightly grainy and it uses a dated 4:3 aspect ratio, the plot, characters and comedy more than make up for it.

The basic format of the plot in this drama follows multiple arcs where in which the three main characters experience crisis after crisis that must be resolved. The plot is not terribly original or groundbreaking. However, despite the rather typical format and story, the story never drags on and each arc is unique enough to keep things from becoming repetitive.

It was especially refreshing whenever the crisis was finally averted as it was usually done through an unexpected twist and always provided a cathartic slap down of the perpetrators.

What I think made this drama so refreshing despite the lack of a groundbreaking story is due to it's comedic treatment of the story. Although there were plenty heavy moments when people's lives were at stake, on the most part the drama put a lighthearted comedic twist on the story. Whether through it's upbeat soundtrack or over the top side-characters, the comedy makes the plot much more palatable and less emotionally scarring when compared to other more serious period dramas.

The main character's in this story were also highly enjoyable. Jang Na Ra and Alec Stu did an amazing job portraying the characters of the princess and the emperor. Despite the fact that they were dubbed, the acting more than shined through. I especially loved how neither the emperor or the princess were pushovers. Despite the large challenges they faced, they both were active in attempting to solve problems rather than weak passive ones. And although the stories got heavier towards the end, they both stayed consistant in their actions till the end and had an evenly paced development of the romance between the two.

If there is anything to pick with this drama it would be that the ending was a little rushed. I felt like the last episode could have been developed into its own arc that could have spanned an additional 2 or 3 episodes. This would have given time to more neatly wrap everything up and cover all lose ends. However even so, the ending was still adequate and left me quite happy.

Ultimately "My Bratty Princess" is an underated gem. Although it's story isn't terribly original or thought provoking, it's use of comedy and
strong characters make it an refreshing light drama with great rewatch value.

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Take Me to the Moon
2 people found this review helpful
Jun 14, 2021
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 5.0
Overall, the plot was fine. Although it tried to wrestle with some deep ideas/themes such as suicide, childhood love, or the inability to achieve one's dreams, the gimmicky three day time travel and the format as a movie didn't really allow time for any development of these ideas.

That is not to say that the plot was bad. Perhaps it was a little superficial, but even so there were quite a few tear-jerker moments when I could actively empathize with the characters. This was made especially easy with the superb acting given by Jasper Liu and Vivian Sung (I honestly wish there were more movies/dramas with her in it because IMO she is a superb actress). The good acting paired with an interesting plot -- if somewhat underutilized made the movie quit enjoyable.

Thus, overall, I would say the movie, by itself, was pretty good. It had a decent combination of good plot, cinematography and actors. Yet at the same time, I was left feeling so much more. With the deeper themes presented in the movie, it left me wondering if the movie could have been more impactful if instead of using the time travel gimmick, the movie instead focused on an adult Wang Zhi Xiang aiding an adult Li En Pei in reconciling her shattered hopes and dreams with reality. With the superb acting of Jasper Liu and Vivian Sung, I'm sure this hypothetical movie would have been amazing. But, alas, what we got was just "Take Me to the Moon", which on it's own merits is still quite good.

Hence, I definitely recommend giving a watch.

(And also, to the gods of Asian dramas, please give Vivian Sung more roles!! She is too amazing to only have had so few roles in her acting career)

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Flying With You
0 people found this review helpful
Sep 7, 2020
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 9.0

A Light and Fluffy Bag of Air

If I had to describe this 1 hour and 36 minute long movie, I would describe it as a light and fluffy bag of air. It's light and fluffy because the story has no major tension to it. It won't make you cry or cause your heart to start pounding, rather it's just a feel good movie. However at the same time, this movie is also a bag of air because the plot has almost no substance to it at all. There is no deep character development, underlying social commentary or hidden plot twists so to speak of. Although there was a slight attempt to add some dramatic twist to the story that I won't spoil, it was all quite predictable .

I feel as if, the premise had enough to it that could have been fleshed out into a full out 16 hour-long episode drama. Yet instead, because its condensed into an hour and a half movie, it became a forgettable experience with undeveloped characters and a bare-bone story-line. In essence, the story can be summarized as:
-- person A meets person B in a bizarre accident
-- they fall in love and do lovey stuff together
-- the end
While there are some additional superficial irrelevant drama, which you can probably guess at by looking at the plot summary under the description,they took minimal screen time and were quit expected.

Similar to the bland plot, I would say everything else is pretty much average. From the cinematography to the set and costume design to the music, it was nothing groundbreaking. While none of it was bad per se, neither did they leave me amazed at how amazing it was.

Speaking of costume design, it really annoyed me how Jang Na Ra's character was supposed to be a rich 2nd generation girl (富二代 as they call it in Chinese), yet she wore crappy ripped jeans and a leather jacket for half the movie. Maybe I'm missing something and this was the haute couture of 2012, yet I highly doubt it and I have difficulty imagining a rich girl having such a sense of style.

However all this being said, despite the lack of any substance what so ever, I quite enjoyed the movie with all it's cheesiness and light tension-less story. I especially enjoyed hearing Jang Na Ra's un-dubbed mandarin voice. While she definitely seemed to have some troubles with the proper tones, it was really cute hearing her original voice rather than some random voice over.

In the end, "Flying with You" is not some great masterpiece that I will be recommending as a must-watch to all my friends. In many ways it's a very forgettable story mediocre in everything. In fact, I only watched it because I'm a Jang Na Ra fan and I crave anything with her in it. However, at the same time, it's light and fluffy story and relatively short length makes it an ideal movie that I will probably re-watch now and then whenever I need a stress reliever or as a palette cleanser from more heavy dramas.

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