Looking back on 2011 – Chinese dramas

25 Dec

Sealed With A Kiss: The premise of a man blackmailing a girl into becoming his mistress in order to exact revenge for her father’s sins might not sit well with many but if you’re a lakorn veteran, this would not faze you a bit. It has all the elements of a typical slap-kiss – Greed! Betrayal! Revenge! Abuse! Manipulation! – and I was expecting a standard lakorn with the only difference being the characters speaking Chinese but I was pleasantly surprised by nuanced characterization and tight plot.

Yep, our OTP strangles each other. That should give you an idea of the relationship dynamics.

Mo Shao Qian uses Tong Xue’s body to humiliate and control her, yet on more ‘peaceful’ occassions, he is afraid to touch even the ends of her hair.

Most revenge dramas that I come across have the person coming back rich and powerful after a turn in fortunes and from then on it’s all about making life hell for whoever wronged them but for Mo Shao Qian, his is an on-going battle. His riches and status allowed him to hold Tong Xue hostage as mistress but on the other hand, he was also being held hostage in a faux marriage by Mu Yong Fei and battling wits with the even richer and more powerful Mu Chang He at the company. The power games between the various characters were interesting to watch and I find myself sympathising with almost everyone, even the ‘villians’ for in their relentless pursuit for love/money/revenge, they sacrificed too much of themselves and of those around them. The only character I didn’t care for was Tong Xue’s first love Xiao Shan. He is a kind man and he loved Tong Xue enough to accept her even after finding out that she was pregnant with Mo Shao Qian’s baby but he annoyed me everytime he showed up. Maybe it was the actor’s problem because I find myself rolling my eyes whenever he was doing any sort of emoting.
It’s not perfect (someone needs to shoot the stylist who did Tong Xue’s wardrobe) but this drama exceeded my expectations for acting, plot and characterization.
Spoilery trailer
Watch it subbed on Viki

Hong Kong

The Other Truth Review here


Material Queen: Sigh, a could-have-been-great drama. The first half of MQ pleasantly surprised me each week by constantly subverting tropes that I had come to expect of idol dramas but it was ruined by the horrendously silly second act which made the OTP jump through unnecessary hoops to prove their love and threw the tired tropes right back at me. Still, I’d always remember MQ for giving us Chu Man, the atypical heroine who was unapologetically materialistic, a pragmatist to the core, and a smart one at that. Special mention also goes to Daniel Chan for his spot on guest performance as Yan Kai Ming (thankfully he was written in the good half) who was suitably terrifying as the cold and manipulative businessman.

The Fierce Wife: ‘If you marry the Red Rose, she will become a smear of mosquitoe’s blood on the wall after some time while the White one remains as moonlight by the window; If you marry the White Rose, she becomes a grain of rice stuck on your clothes while the Red one is a mark on your heart.’ Pardon my bad translation of the famous line from Eileen Chang’s novel but it’s a good illustration of the events in TFW. Man divorces his wife who has cooked and cleaned for him for 10 over years to be with her younger, free-spirited cousin only to find out that ‘all you need is love’ isn’t quite true in real life. This probably isn’t a very entertaining kind of drama and it actually made my blood pressure shoot through the roof on more than a few occassion but I can see why it was a ratings hit in Taiwan. While there were some fairy tale elements in the form of Lan Tian Wei, An Zhen’s young/handsome/rich boss who falls for her, TFW showcases plenty of real life pitfalls in marriages which hit painfully close to home for many viewers if the comments I read on forums are anything to go by. I liked the realistic portrayal of husband, wife and third party and the struggles they faced at different points in their relationship though I still wanted to run over the adulturous pair with a truck most of the time.

In Time With You: I loved the vibe of the first 2 episodes so much but didn’t feel like continuing when I read how the story continues.

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