Refresh Man: A Reunion for Joanne and Aaron

I was browsing on Facebook and found Joanne’s post. After reading the article, I realized it was a drama. It was totally unexpected but I will continue to tune in. Many of the QiaoLun fans would be soooo happy. Because I think many have thought that the ship already sank, even before it came to fruition, considering what happened after the Love Buffet incident. But yay, finally some hope, right? (And last time when he guest-starred in Dear Mom didn’t count since it was just a mini appearance.)

Aside from the main leads, there are also many familiar faces in the drama. (Go here to follow their official page for updates.)

*Images were collected around the net hence belonging to their rightful owners.

iHero: Episode 6

*WARNING*: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. If you DO NOT want to be spoiled, please DO NOT read. You have been warned.

A body was found near some river. The victim was seen at a bar the previous night. The victim was a man dressed as a woman. The cause of death was drowning. There were drag marks found so the victim was probably dragged to the water and then drown. Another victim was found near the river. The cause of death and arrangements were similar. This second victim was a hairdresser.

After somewhat of roundabouts, they were able to locate the costume shop that the victims had worn during the time of the deaths. Trying to hide, the shop-owner slipped hence giving Yang Qian and Jing Ling some leverage. They learned of the bar that the others circulated and ended up being caught. But first, they must dress the part to capture the suspect. Lei Gong was the most reluctant because he was what the shop-owner described to be the suspect’s type. However, they weren’t able to lure in the fish since the fish had somehow left the scene before they could close in on him or her.

Interestingly, the second time Yang Qian and Xiao Xiang came to speak to Mr. Hou, he once again told them that his wife wasn’t available. The first time, it was because she was unwell. This second time, he told them she had traveled overseas already. Xiao Gao confirmed that Xu Jia Jia (許佳佳) was indeed Hou Bo Yu (侯伯宇)’s wife. However, she already passed away a year ago. What was more, Jing Ling pointed out that the ring worn by the victim along with the ring that was worn by the person who offered wine to Lei Gong at the bar were the same styles like the one Xu Jia Jia wore. The note that was given to Lei Gong was from the same handwriting as the notes were written at the Hou resident’s wall that Yang Qian saw previously.

Hou Bo Yu was indeed involved with the kidnapping and keeping some other people. He gave them food and then returned as a cross-dresser to scold at them. Then he dragged someone out for a kill again. He was arrested and all evidence pointed to him–with the wigs and all. Yet he was still playing dumb, not admitting to the crimes–or so Yang Qian thought. He kept blurting out that another person was responsible. When Yang Qian grabbed the dolls he was playing with away from him, he was quite worked up and scolded her. Yang Qian wasn’t buying his schemes, thinking he was still faking it. She wasn’t as patient as some of the others, so she told him to tell her where his friend was. Based on what the other survivors said, it was obvious that Hou Bo Yu was suffering from multiple personality disorder. (Or was he?) Lin Sir said that there were lots of criminals playing the ‘crazy’ card to dodge serving their sentences so even if Hou Bo Yu was the real deal, he didn’t want to make it easy either.

Having no other option, they decided to hook Hou Bo Yu up to a lie detector and have Jing Ling interrogate him. They were able to establish that he was really suffering from multiple personality disorder. However, they weren’t able to lure the killer personality out. Only when they had Jing Ling brought Hou Bo Yu home and ended up pressuring him about his wife that things moved forward. Yet that wasn’t the crucial moment. The crucial moment in luring the killer personality out was when Lei Gong had to cross-dress again and walked past the place for that personality to jump out and attack him hence Yang Qian and the others trapping him in the end. Their success also caused Lei Gong another around of tease from Jing Ling. All kidding aside, it was indeed tragic with Hou Bo Yu’s case, going through childhood traumas of different sorts hence developing multiple personality disorder.

Lei Gong ended up giving Yang Qian a plant. It was the one that she claimed she feared. He reminded her to take her own advice–with being brave and facing her fears. He suggested that she went and have a talk with her father to clear things out with him. She indeed took Lei Gong’s advice and had dinner with her father at the same stall that she ate with Lei Gong days ago.

Brief but a very touching moment between the pair of father and daughter.

*All images were captured by DTLCT

The Dangerous City

Another one of those closer to real-life dramas. The plot indeed lived up to its title.

Main Cast:

  • Lin Qing Tai (林慶台) as Wa Dan (瓦旦). A security guard. A somewhat rouge character. That would mean that he was not the typical hero that would do just the right thing regardless of the situation. It was more about what life offered him and how he should proceed. It was more realistic that way. Since his son needed the money for the educational fees and there was money offered to cover things up, so he took it. He would also use ‘shady’ connections to try and recover his lost money. Though he soon learned a hard lesson that those ‘shady’ characters couldn’t be trusted with handling his problems hence having to rely on himself (with only some help from Hei Song’s son regarding information). He later discovered that the phone he retrieved that one time from Hong Long wasn’t the piece that held important information that could threaten everyone’s lives, but the actual memory card inside. Somehow, he ended up running and everyone wanted to capture someone around him to gain the upper hand, but it worked out fine in the end for him actually. I thought he would end up dying in some dramatic battle so his son would learn, etc. But it wasn’t so.
  • Yin Xin (尹馨) as Amber. An actress who wanted to commit suicide at the beginning. Supposedly, it was just an act yet still nerve-racking because of the person saving her. I was actually quite intrigued with her story at first and how she got conned, etc. Yet, later on, I got really bored and only stuck around to see what other things were going on with several parties plotting against one another. At first, I seriously didn’t feel sorry for her, just like some of the other parties in here. She and the others knew what they were getting into with so many sticky situations involved. Still, have to compliment the actress at some scenes for showing some emotional breakdown or fear, etc. Her second suicide attempt got really repetitive since Wa Dan’s son saw her and saved her. Yet it showed some character for Wa Dan’s son, because he wasn’t a bad kid, just frustrated that his life changed 180 degrees hence taking it out on his father at times. Then as the story progressed along, even more, I was having mixed feelings because most of the characters in here were bordering on gray areas. It was like showing different circumstances in life and how sometimes it wasn’t just so easy with separating the lines between black and white/right and wrong anymore. What won me over with her character was how she slapped Chen Zai and rescued Xia Qing from further abuse. Then her story finally unfolded after she confided in Xia Qing. She managed to start over, later on, depending on herself and working harder to support her parents versus depending on others. After so much had happened, of course, it got her thinking.
  • Xia Hui (夏禕) as Xia Qing (夏青). Wa Dan’s landlady. Kind of sharp with her words at times but really cared for others. I found her witty at times and funny at others, especially the scene where she drove Hei Song insane with her constant chatter. He couldn’t get in a word or two to Wa Dan about his terms–until he finally snatched the phone back from her.
  • Xu Gui Ying (徐貴櫻) as Xu Li Li (徐莉莉). Guo Dong Lin’s wife. I thought she was so crafty and classy until he got the upper hand with the paperwork situation. That sure threw her plans off. Then she totally lost major points from me when she sought out the fortune-teller to ask of her current situations and why her plans were backfiring, etc. Well, I got it that people believe in those stuff in real life, but I didn’t think she would fall for it. Or would seek out such alternatives to change her life. (And probably there are real fortune-tellers out there who know what they’re doing AND NOT just conning others for money but for now, still keeping my doubts about all those.) It was revealed that she was actually pinned onto Guo Dong Lin as a spy yet she ended up siding with him as well. What made it even more interesting in the end was how she confessed at his memorial spot of how she had changed since knowing him, etc. Like a little truth moment from her (if it wasn’t obvious already) and a last piece of the overall puzzle as far as her relation to the Zhang dude in the past, etc.

Others:

  • Qu Zhong Heng (屈中恆) as Special Assistant Zhang (張特助). A very cunning and careful person. He worked for the chairman so, of course, he had to be careful. What made him even scarier was how ruthless he was, sacrificing everyone around him. It wasn’t until the end that he dared to cry out because his ‘beloved’ was leaving.
  • Xi Xiang (喜翔) as La Lai Ba (羅賴把). Wa Dan’s co-worker. I first thought he wanted some of the money, etc hence keep urging Wa Dan to hand over the memory card. Yet it wasn’t so. He was actually undercover at the company to unravel all the corruption and conspiracies between Guo Dong Lin and several parties in here. Quite a surprise ending.
  • Tao Chuan Zheng (陶傳正) as Guo Dong Lin (郭東林). A businessman but had ‘shady/complicated’ connections with various parties to advance his cause. He would do anything or use any means for success. Yet he couldn’t win over Zhang because he wasn’t cunning enough. Zhang sure got the upper-hand in the end.
  • Chen Yu Ming (陳煜明) as Hong Long (紅龍). A thief/pocket-picking person. He was a guy but dressed as a girl to con others or get close to them so he could take their money. He got involved in the whole messy main story by pickpocketing Xu Li Li and later on was sought out because the other party wanted the cell phone back. (The cell phone had some important information in it hence ending up becoming a major turn of the story for whoever acquired the phone.)
  • Cai Ba (蔡爸) as Chen Zai (陳仔). Xia Qing’s ex-husband. Annoying at first but turned a new leaf later on. I was really rolling my eyes when he said he was just doing what he could for the people when the reporters asked. Yet he really changed his ways and even helped Xia Qing ran the little shop in the end.
  • Wu Min Fan (吳民凡) as Lao Yang (老楊). I totally forgot who he was and too lazy to go back and check.
  • Lin Yu Shun (林郁順) as Hei Song (黑松). Gangster boss. He was scary in his way, considering who he was, after all. However, the saddest scene and probably bordering on touching was how he discovered his son’s body. Then the flashbacks just did all the talking for us, and the look on his face. A moment to think about. Like money wouldn’t bring his son back. He took the money Zhang offered at last but wanted to add in a little term of his own (aka wanting Zhang to hand Hu Shen over so he could avenge his son’s death).
  • Leo Ding (丁力祺) as Xiao Yao (小姚). Guo Dong Lin’s driver, BUT actually worked for Special Assistant Zhang. I swore I thought he was just taking on a side role since this was a short drama after all. Yet he surprised me when he reached for his cell phone to call Zhang. The scene where he showed Guo the message from Zhang in the end and carried out the command was quite chilling actually. I think it was one of those, “Don’t estimate those people” in a way. Because he was considered just a driver yet he had a major impact on the story throughout, considering how he was spying on Guo and reporting to Zhang from time to time.
  • Ding Fu You (丁富佑) as Hu Shen (虎神). Zhang’s hired gun. Ruthless and fierce. Yet he actually said ‘thank you’ to Xiao Juan after she helped him wrap his wound, strange? Still a very dangerous character though. He was also responsible for killing Xiao Pang later on.
  • Huang Lue Geng (黃略耕) as Xiao Pang (小胖). Hei Song’s son. He was the most innocent among all of the turmoil around them. Stuck in a gang yet couldn’t do anything. His father was fierce toward him at various points, but upon discovering his body, the man completely broke down and later vouched for revenge. He was too nice to his prisoners and at times got conned yet didn’t hold it against them.
  • Gao Jing Yi (高靖榕) as Xiao Juan (小娟). Ya Bu’s girlfriend. Fierce and chatty at times.
  • Ye Yu Jun (葉玉傑) as Ya Bu (雅布). Wa Dan’s son. Supposedly trying to get into college and Wa Dan was trying to make ends meet with supplying the money, etc. Yet he got his girlfriend pregnant and was forced to quit school and seek for a job, trying to take responsibility for what he’d done. In the end, he actually wanted to become a cop like his father, which surprised the old man. But after seeing so much and was influenced by his father’s bravery, he probably had second thoughts.
  • Wang Dao Nan (王道南) as Chairman (主委). Another despicable role for him and he’s done. YES, I guess he could be considered brave to continuously take on not so favorable roles. Yet someone has to do it. The saving point for him was that he only appeared a little throughout so that minimized the hatred for him versus others, I guess, lol.

Overall thoughts? I think I changed my mind about a lot of things throughout. Like several things to ponder about. An interesting take on different parties and how the corruption was spreading but was eventually found out through investigations. (If not, there wouldn’t be a point to the story, of course.) An intriguing drama throughout, trying to keep it real yet didn’t lack in the entertainment department.

Falling

One of the most depressing dramas ever yet captured different elements of life so vividly. And for the record, I didn’t watch this because it got nominated for the Golden Bell Awards and then eventually won some. I was trying to watch it for Esther yet had to put aside because of my busy schedule.

Main Cast:

  • Jade Chou (周幼婷) as Liu Li Ping (劉立平). Mixed feelings. Not because she was at times too passive. I understood why she was so passive at times versus others. She kept having to take care of everyone and not get any appreciation and it seemed like it was her duty to do it or something, such as taking care of her brother’s family too. (Like she had said at various points in here.) But the actual reason for mixed feelings was how she didn’t confront some parties and gave in too easily to them. Or maybe I was missing the point. She did eventually had some meltdown, like the part with confronting her ex. Yet I guess it made sense because it was how she was. What I felt really disturbing though was the part where she didn’t react to her brother-in-law’s advances right away BUT waited longer. What she said made me feel unease as well, like how good her sister treated her so she shouldn’t do that to her sister. (Was she implying if her sister was cruel to her, she was willing to help her bro-in-law cheat? OY, I’m missing the point again but I just felt it was too creepy with that dude.) Anyway, what I felt really sad was how the parents thought Li Ping was a guy SO despite possible death, the mother still wanted Li Ping, and it wasn’t until they realized she was a girl that hope failed. Like really? If they had known she was a girl at the beginning, would they still have her? Just saying.
  • Esther Liu as Ji Er (吉兒). A totally different character for Esther. Probably a breakout role for her even. The reason why I say ‘breakout role’ was because it completely veered from her typically cutesy roles or the klutzy ones that she often portrayed with the usual idol dramas. She portrayed an independent, career woman who really knew what she wanted and how to enjoy life. A surprise performance from Esther and it showed she had gone a long way. I’m not saying that because she won ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for the role since I actually finished watching this before the ‘Golden Bell Awards’ took place. It was just that I haven’t gotten a chance to finish the review until now.
  • Jag Huang (黃健瑋) as Xu Hao Yuan (徐浩遠). At first, I was really annoyed with him in thinking that Ji Er must have met someone else hence her change of attitude with him, etc. However, I soon understood why his mind was sooo one-tracked. Because he was so busy spying on Ji Er and trying to get through her by interacting with Li Ping online, he learned a lot about Ji Er and even about himself. Not only that but also to appreciate what his mother did for him, not just the typical because she was his mother but he actually understood and sympathize with her by seeing it through someone else’s eyes, considering how he realized all the women in Li Ping’s lives were suffering through different trials and events. Jag was actually quite impressive in this role. He really brought out the character well with the uncertainties and weaknesses, and then eventually not so lost anymore in the end.

Others:

  • Fan Li Li (潘麗麗) as Liao Jin Gui (廖金貴). Li Ping’s mother. I’m not a fan of tough love BECAUSE the more people yell, it would make me even more depressed. SO when the mother opened her mouth with her cruel words or yelling, I just wanted to plain fast-forward BUT didn’t. I don’t know. I swear, there are times for being honest/straight-forward about things (like giving feedbacks so people improve) BUT if you care, please act like it! She just made me feel even more discouraged and wonder why Li Ping was still taking it all in. It felt like it was just because she was the mother so Li Ping had to fulfill her filial duties and that was it. I couldn’t feel the bond though I guess I was missing the point again. Though I complained like insane about this, indeed it portrayed real-life situations versus how we see more supportive family members in those fun/comedic idol dramas.
  • Tong Xiu Juan (童秀娟) as Lin Fu Zhen (林富珍). Li Ping’s sister-in-law. I swore I just wanted to smack her at one point or another whenever she appeared. Her family was supposedly taking care of themselves yet they always complain about being neglected? Seriously? Indeed, another realistic portrayal of a typical ‘family’ situation but still…
  • Chen Ying Jie (陳盈潔) as Hao Yuan’s mother (浩遠媽媽). Mixed feelings. What I felt was weird was how she approached Ji Er’s parents and talked about super intimate situations with Ji Er’s mother. That seemed WAY off. Seriously, do people talk about that in real life? At least I have never seen strangers talk about such delicate situations before, only close friends.
  • Huang Lian Yu (黃連煜) as Liu Tian Fa (劉添發). Li Ping’s father. SO NOT a fan of him since he was the typical old-fashioned person who thought of stomping down on others to prove himself as the head of the household or something. Well, okay, it seemed extreme of my words since, after all, it seemed he did care for Li Ping (or so the plot tried to show at some point), but some of his words and ordering others around made me feel like he was just trying to stomp on others. Or maybe it was another one of those ‘tough love’ situations that will always be lost on me. Seriously, if you mean something, act like it, NOT do the opposite and expect others to understand.
  • Shen Chang Hong (沈昶宏) as Liu Zhen Bao (劉振寶). Spoiled brat! Typical since he was the only boy of the house.
  • Ma Nian Xian (馬念先) as Liu Li Zhi (劉立智). Li Ping’s brother. I swear he was so annoying. Okay, I got it that they were family and I felt it was kind of touching that Li Ping was covering for him at the beginning. Yet later, it seemed really stupid that he expected Li Ping to return home so they could have peace AND others could get off his back and that he and his wife could have peace, etc. It was really dumb. Like Li Ping said, why did it seem like it was her duty to be their slaves? (Not in those exact words but along those lines.)
  • Zhou Heng Yin (周姮吟) as Liu Xu Fang (劉旭芳). Li Ping’s sister. I don’t even know what to say about her anymore, even though I did have a lot to think about when I was watching. The only thing I want to say is I was glad she was able to start over at the end. She was finally able to let go. It was hard not to.
  • Wang Dao Nan (王道南) as Li Ping’s brother-in-law. I just wanted to throw up (NOT in my mouth since I couldn’t even get that expression because it’s just too gross to even imagine) when he appeared. A typical fake person whom others think of him as the ‘good’ person yet there was so much more underneath. Even Li Ping’s parents think that he was the ‘model’ person while Li Ping’s sister was in the wrong.
  • Zhou Qun Da (周群達) as Zhang Lu Huai (張鹿淮). A teacher, Li Ping’s crush at one point. Too bad it didn’t happen. But I guess that was how life was. Can’t force it since it was not a typical fairytale story but more like showing different people you meet in life and sometimes there were misunderstandings through actions or words used.
  • Long Chen Han (隆宸翰) as Qu Cheng Min (曲成民). Li Ping’s ex-boyfriend. I don’t know what to say about him except too bad. Whatever. He was there to show a painful past that Li Ping had.
  • Michael Chang (張少懷) as Li Ping’s arranged marriage candidate. At first, I felt he was a dork. Yeah, mean but maybe it was because of the bias filter with the parents forcing Li Ping to go meet the candidates, etc. Yet later when the pressure was off, I was able to see him in a different light. He really had his own views and was brave to pursue his goals. Even if he didn’t know how at first, with only being exposed to those books, he kept trying and finally succeeded. Michael is indeed a very good actor, very convincing in the clueless moments as well as the confident one later on. I really enjoyed his random friendship with Li Ping throughout.
  • Wang Mon Ling (王夢麟) as Ji Er’s father. At first, I thought he was weird with his lurking in the distance at times. But later, I realized he was quite enlightened with his words. He was actually the key to Hao Yuan’s decision to break it off and let go of Ji Er at the end (ironically). He made Hao Yuan realized what was wrong right from the start. (Like how Hao Yuan said he wanted to please both sides–his mother and Ji Er–and kept fearing that they would be unhappy hence, in the end, he was the one suffering with so many uncertainties.)
  • Bao Zheng Fang (鮑正芳) as Ji Er’s mother. Enjoyed watching some of her moments. Just some scenes here and there but enough.

I was surprised that this drama received so much attention from the GBA and earned 8 nominations–with 4 wins. Because honestly, after what happened for a while, it seemed that the popular dramas usually snatch up awards. This year was indeed a big year for PTS. Well deserved too. Anyway, back to this drama, it’s NOT for everyone since there are a disclaimer and parental guidance/caution sign at the beginning. It’s also not a typical fairytale drama but it’s more based on real-life situations and how people deal with it. There are even more delicate issues being addressed. Whether we like it or not, these things exist. It was well crafted and portrayed throughout. Even if it was disturbing at one point or another but it sure hit the nail on the head with some of the stories, major or minor.

Xiao Hai Da Ren

(image credit: captured by DTLCT)

Because I wanted to watch Yvonne and since it was 8 episodes, I thought it should be all right, considering how I don’t have any problems with the rest of the cast. So how was it? Pretty good actually. In fact, surprisingly good.

Lin Zhen Sheng and Xiao Meng Feng were both framed for a crime they didn’t commit, one being a murderer and the other a thief. They crossed paths when Meng Feng was supposedly one of the hunters for the final reward. However, Meng Feng’s intention wasn’t the money. She wanted justice. Lin Zhen Sheng was said to have killed his wife, so he escaped to the wilderness with his son (who was just a baby at the time). A chase ensued with cops and other hunters involved, which ended tragically–with Zhen Sheng committing suicide by jumping into the sea. Five years later, both father and son resurfaced again and another chase began. However, Meng Feng was the one trying to protect the little boy from harm.

Main Cast:

  • Lee Wei as Lin Zhen Sheng (林振昇) aka Da Ren (大人). He was framed for the death of his wife and had to flee with his child still only a baby. Not only did he have to deal with the cops but also the hunters (who were after the reward). At first, I wondered why he was so reluctant to fight back. I understood at the beginning where he had no choice but to run since everyone was out to get him. YET later when he was in a somewhat safe situation and had the cops to back him up, I didn’t get why he didn’t turn the other dude in. SO the other guy was his friend and also brother-in-law YET it wasn’t worth his or his kid’s freedom. When the whole truth revealed, I finally got it and felt that he was really stuck in a major obstacle. His family was so messed up that it was hard to deal with regardless. He had chosen to let go and seek peace, but they had forced him to throw the ultimatum. I seriously think Lee Wei does better in these types of closer to real-life situation dramas than the typical idol dramas. NOT that I didn’t think he was convincing in the other ones or too one-dimensional. But I always felt he fit more into the serious drama category because he often acted with his eyes and less expression hence looking passive to viewers who were used to watching the usual exaggeration of facial expressions.
  • Lee Kang Yi as Xiao Meng Feng (蕭孟楓). The ending was a shocker with her character. It wasn’t surprising that she could hack into Zhen Sheng’s account and send out the e-mail since she was a pro in computer-related things all right with her ability to fake the ID card that one time, among other things. YET I didn’t see it coming with her being the one. But it made sense since it was the only reasonable explanation in how she didn’t cave into the reward money but wanted to take in Xiao Hai and protect him even if her own security was being threatened. I know there are good people in this world who wouldn’t care for that type of reward, but in her situation, it wouldn’t be too ‘over’ with her wanting to improve her lifestyle by taking the reward money. Having a grudge with the Xia family once upon a time was one thing, but chasing after that reward money wasn’t too unreasonable either. It was guilt that had dominated her decisions in protecting Xiao Hai ’til the end since she did have a hand in influencing others to take action on Zhen Sheng (but had accidentally killed the wife instead). She can’t be blamed for others’ actions totally but what I meant was her guilt being the key to her unwavering decision. Same for Lee Wei, I think she fends better in serious type of dramas. Maybe the pressure to convince in idol drama was higher or the needing to add the right touch of exaggeration seemed too much. She would be better off doing these types of dramas since I liked her after watching Wayward Kenting and felt it was a shame she wasn’t more popular.
  • Tender Huang as Fang You Long (方又龍). A somewhat bizarre cop, but good in general. I thought he would be one of those really dark characters yet he was quite funny at the scene where he was in the boss’ office and the man was persuading him to get married to Xin Yu and he got back at the man by saying that his father wanted to sever ties with him (the boss). NICE… YET within all those jokes aside, he was indeed a righteous cop with high analytical talent and a solitaire persona to go with it. What made it realistic about him was how he wasn’t thinking about himself as a hero (because he was helping Zhen Sheng). It was more about his guilt and that he didn’t want to become a killer by just arresting people day after day. He thought of it as a burden because it wasn’t like everyone was guilty or more like his supposed ‘goal’ was getting wavered. He even realized he was losing it with going astray from the ‘cop’ route but at the same time, the concept of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ was deluding because of what he saw versus what he had learned (and carried out as part of the job). First time watching him (though I have heard of him already) and was impressed. Natural.
  • Yvonne Yao as Jiang Xin Yu (江欣瑜). I must admit this was like the first time watching anything with Yvonne in it properly (aka no skipping around). I tried to not get all biased toward her character (aka favoring her instead of focusing on the character), but soon accepted that it was all right she wasn’t portraying a more likable character. I was okay with her having contributed to the plot greatly (of course since she was responsible for capturing Zhen Sheng). Then I settled for how her character sort of made us realize there exist such people in life, always seeing what was in the box–and with a competitive attitude, it was dangerous all right. However, her turnaround was when she actually entered the Xia household personally and had a talk with the father and son. It seemed that she wasn’t really blind with her sense of justice, but it was just her stubbornness getting in the way. She didn’t waver to those temptations with offering a smooth sailing career (i.e. allowing her to advance toward a higher position). Perhaps because of how she had chosen when presented that particular minion, we could appreciate her stubbornness and forgive her previous actions. After all, she was a person big on technicalities, right? And OMG, I so didn’t expect her to die. I swear! I thought she would continue to be her strong and independent self, leading on her team after this particular case. YET she died. (Is Yvonne meant to play these types of tragic characters?)
  • Luo Xuan Ming (駱炫銘) as Lin Yu Sen (林昱森) aka Xiao Hai (小孩). He grew up in the wilderness so of course, his knowledge of what existed on the other side of civilization was foreign to him. At least where the whole pop culture went. Yet it seemed he had a lot of natural instincts and survival skills, which his father had taught him (to ensure his safety in case situations presented itself). But it wasn’t like he was that clueless on some things, because he had known about those classics but Meng Feng didn’t. (Yup, thanks to his father for listening to those and teaching him about it.) What could I say about this child actor? He should be one of the kids getting some attention here because he was really convincing. He could look cute if it was the case, but someone had made a good call by keeping his character consistent with his somewhat rouge personality and allowing him to carry some sense of attitude. After all, he had been taught of survival skills and the whole hunter/prey concepts throughout those five years, so it would be irrelevant to make him suddenly a cute, cuddly teddy bear. It wasn’t like he wasn’t any less cute, but he didn’t act all ‘cute and cuddly’ to receive more viewers’ attention.
  • Pan Bo Xi as Ku Ku (酷酷). OMG, I felt so bad for him. His personal space got invaded and he also got threatened. SAD. But that was funny how he was being bullied by both Meng Feng and Xiao Hai. And sometimes I ponder about him, especially when Zhen Sheng returned to civilization and even stayed at their place for a while. I wouldn’t blame him for being scared out of his wits of the situation–if it were the case. Yet it was just too suspicious at times since his character was somewhat hard to figure out (if he was going to turn them in), which had nothing to do with Pan Bo Xi’s acting since I felt he portrayed the character convincingly. I was just getting paranoid because of the trust factor being quite questionable in many cases in here. Yet he pulled through with saying that they (he and Meng Feng) should take Xiao Hai in if Zhen Sheng didn’t come back.

Others:

  • Leo Ding as one of the cops. He appeared in episode 1 when they were doing the chase five years ago, but didn’t appear later. It was a shame but not too unreasonable since it was five years later, who knew what happened so it wasn’t like he would be around and about at the same place. I felt his somewhat smart-aleck comments contributed to the already intense background because there would always be some cop making those types of comments at a crime scene or some similar situation. Wasn’t too out of it.
  • Deng Zhi Hong as Deputy Chief Officer (副局長). He was sure a voice of guidance in here though he seemed weak at times. The reason why he was even torn between doing what he should (aka his job) and emotional conflicts was because he was trying to look after Fang You Long. He was also often forced to take sides between You Long and Xin Yu. Though he received some blows from both parties, he continued to be advising them throughout the investigation. Though known to be looking after You Long and supporting him, I thought most of the memorable scenes were with Xin Yu since he often advised her on various matters, even scolding her if she was going past the line. (But in a way, I guess the conversations with Xin Yu emphasized his caring for You Long, etc.) One of his memorable lines was near the end of episode 7 when he told Xin Yu that money and power could buy a lot of things, including human life.
  • Fu Lei as Xia Yong Jun (夏永鈞). His words at the beginning were full of ironies even if I didn’t pay attention to the whole speech he was saying and how he had lied, etc. Well, I never thought he had a hand in his own daughter’s death (though it wasn’t impossible). I just didn’t think of it at that time. What was ironic though was his claim that he didn’t want to seek revenge on the killer, but only wanted his grandson to be safe and be with him, etc. Come on now, he might as well be saying: “I don’t need to take revenge, you guys could do that for me.” YUP, that was what I was thinking. You send people out on a manhunt with that amount of a reward and expect the other dude to be unharmed? NICE… (Or was that his purpose all along?) Well, if it were other situations, it would make sense that the father would be pissed off, in fact–beyond livid, if his daughter got killed by his son-in-law. BUT I just felt it was ironic with the statement of not wanting revenge when offering such a large reward for the kid.
  • Yao Yi Ti as Xia Xiu Min (夏秀敏). The poor victim who was too trusting. Well, it was her own family after all and I did admire her for supporting them and not just side with her husband like that. Though she had found out later of the real version and wanted to keep it under wraps (again, because they were family) and he had let go as well, but because of the e-mail, she had died in his place in the end.
  • Cindy Mong as Yan Xing Fang (顏幸芳). Can’t sympathize with her. Regardless. I don’t know. It was just too much. She didn’t believe her daughter? Okay, so the pressure of the public was too much, but did that make it better by delivering the final blow? At least they had each other for support YET she pulled the final step under her daughter by letting on that her daughter should end it? Emotional support sometimes made the toughest situation better so there it went.
  • Olivia Wu as Xiao Wii (小Wii). I don’t know. It wasn’t her fault for what happened since she was captured. So no comment except she tried.
  • Wu Ting Hong as Ba Shang (巴尚). Always portraying the same type of role with loving his culture, singing those inspirational songs, and being his humble self. No complaints either. He did contribute to being part of the supporting team for the father and son.
  • Jet Chao as Chen Bo Lun (陳伯倫). What could I say aside from “I want to kill him too”? Honestly, the most despicable and/or hateful character in here. Yet I guess his character (among other hunters) gave us the side of how human nature had become when some type of situation occurred, such as that of the reward that was offered twice. Life wasn’t about all the marshmallows and granola bars but the downside of human’s driven instinct to fulfill a certain agenda was risking everything to achieve that, even if it took depriving other fellow mankind a chance to live.
  • Zhao Shun as Fang You Long’s father. A convincing performance. I had seen him more in hilarious dramas, portraying a father or grandpa. This time, it was the father but his character extended that to cope with his own sickness, and at the same time wanting to cheer his son on.
  • Ma Li Ou (馬利歐) as He Zhi Wei (何智偉). Knew he was bad from the moment he appeared. Blame it on paranoid, LOL! I don’t trust him. He just looked too suspicious (and probably intentional for the plot).
  • Lan Wei Hua as Li Zhi Ming (李志明).
  • Fang Shao Wei as Zhang Yong Kuan (張永寬).
  • Chen Jian Heng as Song Xiang Yang (宋向陽). Xiao Li’s boyfriend. Also the one responsible for Jiang Xin Yu’s death. Yet it felt satisfying when he thought he could get away with it but he became hunted in the end.
  • Xue Ti Ying as Xiao Li (小莉). The traitor. The same fate as her boyfriend. I didn’t care if she was upset when she found out her boyfriend had fired the gun at Jiang Xin Yu. She helped him throughout with all the other stuff, sabotaging them.
  • Wang Dao Nan as Chief Officer. Part of the corrupted team. Or was he? I don’t know. There were just too many people involved in the whole mess that I ended up losing track, except for their immediate supervisor.
  • Lesley Hu as Xiao Hong (小虹). A loyal friend who had stuck through thick and thin with Meng Feng throughout different topsy-turvy situations. She took care of Meng Feng’s mother while Meng Feng wasn’t around, and even aided in all she could. Her threats to You Long to take good care of Meng Feng was both touching and hilarious since it seemed like he couldn’t back down.
  • Liu Xiao Qi as Xiao Luo (小羅). Almost thought it was him instead of Xiao Li, lol. Okay, so I wanted to pick on the guy but usually, they make the girls the weakling (at least in other TW dramas I’ve seen). Wasn’t around much so I can’t comment but sure contributed to the case as one of the possible moles of the team.

Bonds/Relationships/Others:

  • Lee Wei and Luo Xuan Ming as Da Ren and Xiao Hai aka the father and son team. Quite touching (as it should be between father and son). Though raised far from civilization and somewhat abnormal to others yet it didn’t mean the kid was any different. He was quite attached to his father regardless of what he would come to know with all the correct terms to call his father (or know of it).
  • Lee Kang Yi and Luo Xuan Ming as Xiao Meng Feng and Xiao Hai. I loved their interaction. At first, it seemed like she was going to be the gentle caring kind, which she could. Yet the two of them trying to get along was just hilarious. He was driving her insane with all the questions and she was trying her best to explain. What was even more hilarious was the little kid knew of Tchaikovsky’s music YET she didn’t know. It was just too funny. Priceless moment when she kept going, “What?” and he took over the explaining, lol. What became touching between the two of them was when Xiao Hai realized she had become a prey just like him (after Kuku explained the situation), and he stepped over to where Meng Feng was working on her laptop and sat down back-to-back just like how he and his father used to do. It was like an acknowledgment that she had become family. Not to mention the trust and sense of security the kid felt toward her (which Zhen Sheng said in episode 6 before he left the car).
  • Meng Feng, Xiao Hai, and Kuku under the same roof. Hilarious. Kuku was so outnumbered, lol. Kuku’s home got invaded by two barbarians! (LOL!) He suddenly had to behave around his house? It was so funny how Kuku was given the threat by Xiao Hai if he didn’t eat the hamburger. They both don’t like it anyway, but Kuku was given the ultimatum? LOL! Poor Kuku! And what was funnier was seeing Kuku complaining to Meng Feng that Xiao Hai was being partial to her versus him. (LOL!)
  • Lee Kang Yi and Tender Huang. I don’t really know how to call them since they were a mixture of being on the opposite side at the beginning yet shared some kind of companionship throughout the later parts of the plot. I liked it that they were speaking in codes when they were contacting each other and all. Then the funniest part was him telling her to be careful yet he didn’t realize he had been followed and/or being monitored by his own team until she told him. Then there was the trust between the two of them. It wasn’t like they trusted each other immediately after the whole rescue scene at the beginning. Their trust built slowly and rationally because it made sense they were on their guards, considering the circumstances they met. And how they were considered to be on opposites, but I found their trust for one another held true, unlike other cases where trust should have been mutual yet it wasn’t as they had thought. Their relationship developed slowly from unsure whether they should trust one another to some sort of partnership/companionship/conspirators (whatever you want to call it) and then love. It wasn’t rushed or unrealistic like other dramas where you suddenly just ‘know’ he/she was the one. (*roll eyes* Sorry, I had to put that in.) Their relationship was built over time, not letting on they were living in some delusional world. What I felt was quite refreshing was the scene near the end where they met in the woods again and she ran over to hug him, but he had said that he hadn’t forgotten Xin Yu yet. She replied that she didn’t want him to forget Xin Yu, but she just wanted him to remember her (Meng Feng). It made all the difference with their type of relationship and was consistent with the rest of the plot thus far. Whereas other dramas where they always convince us that the leads have to forget some other person and focus 100% on the current person to be acceptable (which I would understand since no one in their right mind would want their significant other to think of someone else all the time), this one had said it was all right that someone else lived in the guy’s heart. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that Xin Yu had died, but I also remember other dramas wanting someone to forget the ‘deceased’ being 100% too before moving on. But this one didn’t force that concept into play. It made Meng Feng a refreshing character. (And of course, he had considered her feelings hence uttering out those words, not wanting to be unfair to her when he knew he still had Xin Yu in his heart. YUP, a reality check was always good since it would be too flaky if he didn’t say that but just hugged her back and/or added some other cheesy line about them finally being together.)
  • Tender Huang and Yvonne Yao. Refreshing pairing for me yet their characters didn’t allow more chemistry (and it made sense not to linger just there), but it wasn’t lacking either since I could feel the intensity of a couple bickering, among other scenes of sweetness or tormented feelings. They were so wrong for each other and he had realized it already. Finally breaking it off was a hard blow for her hence making her mix between work and personal. Though she had said it hadn’t affected her judgment but I felt she was out to prove her principles more than anything. And though I don’t agree with what she had done, I felt the reaction made sense. Sometimes couples do not realize they shouldn’t stick together or at least one person sees it but the other couldn’t. It was the latter in their case. (And it rang so true with places not allowing co-workers to date OR it would lead to disaster.) I was on my way of convincing myself it was all right they didn’t end up together but the finale made it so heart-wrenching that it was so hard to let go. The part where he heard that Song Xiang Yang’s girlfriend was a cop named Xiao Li, he was running like mad to get there yet it was too late. And in situations like these, I felt it was okay that he was being unsure that one time when she left after the arrests to go and deal with Xiao Li’s situation. (YES, he looked like he was thinking some possibility or was torn between her and Meng Feng.) I guess when they let their ‘being right’ get in the way, it was better off breaking up. When they cooled down and made their peace (in this case she knew he was right in his hunches), it wasn’t impossible to rethink their relationship. Though I knew they wouldn’t get back together anyway–even if she hadn’t died, it wasn’t too unreasonable to have lingering feelings because they had been together for five years already. (Right? That was my guess since it seemed they weren’t together at the beginning of the story but maybe was just working together when he was brought in as an expert.)
  • Tender Huang and Zhao Sun as father and son. They were convincing all right. I felt that hug when You Long returned from the hospital and the old man thought it was Meng Feng and the other two returning from the park. And the old man said he knew his son would make it. That was touching indeed.

Likes:

  • Reality Check. At first, I thought there were some careless moments like how Meng Feng didn’t lock her door when she got in the car to escape with Xiao Hai (since it was common sense after all), but in the later parts, I found it flowing along with real-life instances. There were little details that helped convince different situations.
  • Genuine. Perhaps it might go along with the previous point. But what made it likable was its ability to carry through without adding side formulas that would turn into the whole ‘lame’ zone.
  • Theme. I liked it that it revolved around the pair of father and son among other types of relationships and happenings in life. I guess I’m just sick of watching too much romance stuff from TW dramas and found it refreshing to see it focus on family or other types of relationships rather than just romance. I meant I know everything co-exists at once in other dramas too, but the main focus was always romance between the main leads and not as much as focused on other types of bonds.
  • No romances between Zhen Sheng and Meng Feng hence no triangle between the three main leads. The triangle was already subtle between Meng Feng/You Long/Xin Yu so I had to thank the scriptwriters of sparing us the moment of another triangle. They didn’t have time anyway BUT glad they didn’t include that too. Technically, You Long had broken it off with Xin Yu because of their conflicting POV and had fallen for Meng Feng after but because of Xin Yu’s continued feelings for You Long, I sort of treat that as a triangle. That was why I was so glad it didn’t happen with Zhen Sheng/Meng Feng/You Long as well. It would take away the whole focus on the father and son relationship between Zhen Sheng and Xiao Hai. And I have no problem if Zhen Sheng were to find love in the future after he put his past behind him, etc BUT it would have been a joke if they had done that at the same time when he was already in a mess.

Conclusion? It’s such a shame that these types of dramas aren’t as popular nowadays. It’s really a gem within all those current ones. The characters in here are so genuine, capturing different types of people existing in real life. And their relationships and/or interactions might or might not be similar to the ones we know near us. But because of how it was projected, we could really relate to them. Whether it was Lin Zhen Sheng’s choice to run for it, defending himself rather than relying on others since the beginning (because he had been betrayed by someone so close by). Or if it was Xiao Meng Feng who used her connections of friends actively when she was on the run (at least for the first part of the escape). And what about that of Fang You Long who was quite righteous but also considered other possibilities to different stories? He wasn’t a perfect being (just like everyone in here) but he also represented a part of reality where one would understand life wasn’t about pure black and white, but a whole lot of grayness in between. Then there was Jiang Xin Yu who stuck to her principles and stubbornness with not caving into other types of measures, believing that she was approaching things in the right direction. She was possibly the least likable among the supposedly “good side” in here (at least until near the end), but also someone who existed in real life. After all, don’t we all know some people who wouldn’t cave into anything? Unless they suggested there was evidence or supposedly doing everything the way they thought right? But it wasn’t like the scriptwriters had gone out of their way to make us hate Xin Yu so we could sympathize with the other female lead better since Xin Yu’s admittance to You Long later in the hospital had allowed us to look into her character a bit more. It was her vulnerable side and that she was a woman after all–aside from that police officer tough exterior, and a woman who wanted to protect the man she loved with all she thought she could do (whether it had been the wrong approach or not). Then there was Xiao Hai, an innocent kid who knew a lot about the survival of the fittest but wasn’t utterly cruel because of his contamination of the wilderness and his father’s teaching. He had a lot to learn about the real civilization but his emotions were very real with the people around him. What made the characters real was also because they didn’t have to be on the opposite of the scale with one really hyperactive versus the other being passive like in other dramas. Their principles and actions defined who they were without needing to stand out. That had made the difference.

Trust was like the driven vehicle throughout the plot. It was questioned numerous times between different characters. Yet who could they really trust? Lin Zhen Sheng was betrayed by someone rather close to him hence the flee at the beginning. Xiao Meng Feng was forced to cave in and admit guilt by her mother, but still chose to trust her friends–and later Fang You Long. Fang You Long had trusted his team yet they had betrayed him. (If he hadn’t trusted them, would he have been that upset upon the discovery–and the eventual confrontation?) Then there was the hybrid of polices who was no longer trustworthy because they could already be bought over by the many promises doled out or money thrown in. It was hard to blame Jiang Xin Yu totally for sticking to her principles of what was the correct process in an investigation because that stubbornness had allowed her to stand firm with the justice side, not caving in to the temptation thrown her way.

What I loved about this drama (YES, I had used ‘love’) was the anti-dramatic element. Well, there were quite a few nerve-wracking scenes in here. Yet it wasn’t portrayed in a way that was too over. Nor was it magnetized with the dramatic moments to the point that we caught the creators of the show trying too hard to make it a suspenseful drama. There were tear-jerking moments and emotional confrontations, but it wasn’t overdone to the point that we realized it was too flaky (aka done on purpose to grab attention that it seemed too unreasonable and out of the plot’s context). No one was really the real hero but was just drifting along doing what they had to in the circumstances that were presented. After all, how many situations in life do we see all the whole ‘hero’ scenes so dramatically presented like onscreen in other dramas? Sure, we all want to be the hero in situations, but it wasn’t like it happened so dramatically. Sometimes, it was just the small deeds that occurred. But then again, the reason why this drama might not be as popular is because people love dramas and love being drama-kings and queens so why not seek for more exciting shows, right?