Year 2015 in Recap

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Oh joy, I’m bringing this back since it’s another year of madness. How did it go? Let’s check the number first, lol. Yes, before I start bragging and realized it wasn’t worth bragging over, lol. But before I actually go into the stats, I would like to thank The New World and iHero for making some of the impossibles happen. Because if it wasn’t for the dramas, I wouldn’t have updated so much or kept it so consistent for the better half of the year. Also, anyone wanting to check out the stat report from WordPress, click here.

Total Posts in 2015: 365 (35% of all time). Yes, I took a challenge of trying to keep up posts for 365 days SO had to brag here. It wasn’t easy and some posts were less impressing than others. However, I think it was already tough that I managed it all year long. For this year, will I be continuing on this pattern? I want to but I would say no. Since quality trumps quantity so I’ll still be updating, still be my random self at times, but I won’t force it as an everyday thing. If it happens, it happens. Now, moving on to the breakdown of different categories.

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Times Updated on People on the Poll
: 284 (78% of overall). I took out Ady and Hu Ge early on so I didn’t feel like I needed to include them in this section. Anyway, because I did the 365-day challenge, everyone benefited–one way or another. However, Achel had a surge, leaving Jun Ya behind with only 22 posts, because Wallace, Joanne, Bianca, and Jacky ended up having more posts than him for the year. That knocked him off top 5 for the year yet didn’t damage his overall record too much. Talking about that, he was the reason why I held off so long of not publishing this post since I needed to calculate some of the posts again. Yet I decided to gamble and take out some and possibly double back next year to correct it all. Oh yeah, I didn’t count general updates for some people, especially those with higher numbers already.
Wallace Huo: 26 (9% of the year)
Janine Chang: 16 (6%)
Vic Chou: 12 (4%)
Joanne Zeng: 25 (9%)
Nicholas Teo: 18 (6%)
Xiu Jie Kai: 12 (4%)
Angela Chang: 12 (4%)
Zhao Jun Ya: 22 (8%)
Yvonne Yao: 7 (2%)
Penny Lin: 16 (6%)
Achel Chang/ Zhang Xin Yu: 34 (12%)
Sophia Chou: 6 (2%)
Ruby Lin: 16 (6%)
Van Fan: 9 (3%)
Eric Suen: 5 (2%)
Bianca Bai: 25 (9%)
Jacky Chu: 23 (8%)

Books Reviews:

Music Reviews:

Movies + TV Series Reviews/Episode Summaries: I will say that I was both proud and also a bit ashamed, because I was cheating for several dramas by inserting placeholders. I was trying to motivate myself to watch faster and/or fill the spaces yet things got in the way and I fell behind once again.

Fan Fiction:

Songs Translations: I think that it was too obvious that it was a Phil Chang year for me. Yes, I love that guy. Okay, mostly his songs, lol. But he is funny. Getting back to this, totally outdone myself on some levels. Overall, I translated 51 songs. OMG, that’s like major achievement for me in this area. The previous year, I only did 12, but that was because I didn’t really take it as a challenge. I think this number will drop the upcoming year since I won’t be forcing myself to update every day.

Chinese: 46

Vietnamese: 5

Side Updates: 130 posts – My randomness seriously has gone way past normal. I didn’t count some of the side stuffs. But The New World and iHero obviously dominated the scene for the beginning of the year.

For this year, I hope to bring out more quality posts, like I said earlier. I also hope to finish up the placeholder posts that I haven’t previously. Wish me luck and see you all next year!

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Liao Zhai 3

Since I was on a Liao Zhai binge, I had to hunt this one down and watch too. Too bad that other stuffs got in the way so I was off track with this. Now back to watch properly.

Hua Bi (畫壁)
  • Roy Qiu as Meng Long Tan (孟龍潭). First time watching Roy properly since others ones, I skipped around or gave up. But he wasn’t bad.
  • Zhang Pei Ran (張沛然) as Zhu Xiao Lian (朱孝廉). Hilarious despite his playful nature. What made his character redeeming for me was his extreme loyalty to Long Tan. Yet I still didn’t think he deserved to be saved at all. Yes, cruel but seriously? I agreed with the monk how he revisited the snake demon time after time so it wasn’t anyone’s fault for lack of trying to tell him to stay away. (Especially how the monk had emphasized many times already.)
  • Gong Mi (贡米) as Meng Fan (夢凡). A fox spirit. She was nice and kind and was one of the good demons within the portraits. She didn’t want to harm others but couldn’t do much because of that one powerful dark demon. Yet she tried to help many times.
  • Ben Ng (吳毅將) as Qing Shui Ju Shi (清水居士). Long time haven’t seen him. But he was indeed quite awesome with his portrayal in here. His story was so shocking (but not unrealistic) and how he learned his lesson (after a tragedy) was really moving.
  • Wang Yuan (汪芫) as Meng Su Niang (孟素娘). I didn’t think much of her from the start except that she was sure a doormat for her husband to do whatever. Taking in the fact that women back then didn’t have much say in anything at all, I didn’t care for her either. I just felt a bit sorry for her for having to marry such a person. It got even more annoying that she later kept chiding the monk about justice and righteous when she wanted him to save her husband. However, in the end, I think I admired her determination the most. Regardless if Xiao Lian deserved such a wife or not.
  • Zheng Yi Tong (鄭亦桐) as Meng Yan (夢艷). A snake demon.
  • Wang Yan Su (王妍蘇) as Shen Yue Jiao (沈月嬌). Cruel all right. She defined the cruelty and despicable natures in here. At first, I thought it was the actress that couldn’t act hence the wandering eyes at times when she communicated with Long Tan. Yet it wasn’t so. Those were little traces telling the audience that she was up to something. She was a mastermind of it all. Even scaring her father with her thinking and scheming ways.

OMG, could this get any sadder? I watched the stories out of orders so this one was the third story that I watched. It was like sooooo sad. Although Zhu Xiao Lian finally learned his lesson and promised to listen to his wife from now on and protect his family YET the main couple? Okay, Long Tan had nothing else to live for in the real world and he rather stay with Meng Fan yet it seemed endless with how they had to deal with the demon. The monk decided to go back in and help them but still. Not to mention how things weren’t really solved in the real world. Like how they weren’t able to expose the pair of cruel father and daughter and some other conspirators. Only some of them knew what was going on. Yeah, it was indeed true how it seemed impossible to go against some really strong forces within the royal courts and all. But this was Liao Zhai after all. There had to be at least a better explanation for it. Yeah, the injustice in life happened and it wasn’t new. But that was just too frustrating. Oh yeah, Long Tan’s father died for nothing!

Gongsun Jiu Niang (公孫九娘)
  • Akina Hong as Gongsun Jiu Niang (公孫九娘). She had the right image to be the main lead. The background story aided her character greatly. She was gentle and graceful enough at times as well. However, I think the plot made her character fell short of being awesome for some reason.
  • Tony Sun as Du Huai Sheng (杜懷生). He was too naive for his own good at times, thinking he could just use his power as an official to bring down Hu Xiao Tian. However, he did have a stubbornness to continue on with trying to bring the latter down.
  • Doris Lai as Hu Cai Ling (胡采靈). Supposedly spoiled, rich girl. However, she was shown to have a good heart from the start. She was also quite mischievous in her ways yet she wasn’t too over with other people. Very cute in her own way. I really liked Wei Ru’s portrayal in here and one of her roles that I watch ’til the end to this day. I was actually quite impressed with her when she was possessed and acted quite strangely, looking all suspicious–not like the usual loud Cai Ling. What was more impressive was the moment when she found out she’d been used as an excuse so the others could enter her house and search for the other guy and then carrying out the rest of the revenge plot. It was indeed quite tragic and shocking for her. Her reactions were justified. Those moments made her performance even more brilliant. It really tugged at the heart with how much she had to endure just because her father was the big, bad dude.
  • Zhang Dong Sheng (張東升) as Hu Xiao Tian (胡嘯天). Despicable scum. It was obvious to hate on him since he was the villain. But what was strange was how he caved in to his daughter’s demands. Well, it was his daughter after all. But still. He did slap her that one time, which shown that he was just putting up an exterior or try to. Or he couldn’t believe his daughter would betray him. Regardless, he didn’t deserve an ounce of sympathy after what he did to many, not just Jiu Niang’s people.
  • Du Yu Ming (杜玉明) as Ling Yang Zi (凌陽子). A Taoist whom had gone haywire. He thought he was getting rid of ghosts and demons and putting balance to the world. But he was scarier than the ghosts and demons he tried to exterminate.
  • Zhang Jin (張進) as Zhu Kang (朱康). Creepy. He was Huai Sheng’s friend and later got used by Ling Yang Zi to search for Jiu Niang’s corpse to perform the rituals.

What should I say about this? I swear this one was my 3rd most anticipated story. However, it was disappointing on some levels. Maybe it was me being impatient but I felt the story was too slow. I didn’t mind that Akina looked sort of older than Tony in here since I still felt their chemistry was refreshing. However, it seemed anti-dramatic in many ways. The revenge plot was enough to drive many characters on. Yet it sort of stopped there after awhile and then picked up again by the end of episode 4 and then going into episode 5. I felt that Wei Ru’s character, Cai Ling, was the saving point of the story. I was already prepared for her character to be bad or even aiding her father when she learned of the truth about him. Yet she wasn’t so. Yes, she was spoiled and loud, etc. However, she had a good heart, wanting to help others despite her constant tantrums toward her father at the beginning. I felt she was funny in many ways, not annoying like I would often think of overly loud characters. It would be interesting to see Tony and Wei Ru pair up in the future (if ever possible again). Anyway, back to this story, it was soooo sad to see how things turned out in the end yet it had to be that way in a sense. Many things had happened, so how could it turn back to a better time for them both? Even if the story let them both move on–or perhaps her, they still couldn’t be together. What happened to Cai Ling in the end could be said to be karma YET she was the one receiving it. It wasn’t her fault, so why did she have to go through so much? That guy sure knew how to pave the future for his daughter. Cutting all her paths and only caring for himself. Now that he was gone, there were too many backlash to ever move on from that.

Mei Nu (梅女)
  • Stephanie Hsiao (蕭薔) as Pan Xue Mei (潘雪梅). I can actually say that I watched her act growing up. LOL! Not trying to say she’s old, but it says something. She proved her strong acting in here with her various personalities. It was so convincing that when she was Xue Mei, I sympathized with her and felt she was a very cute, nice and gentle girl versus when she was Zhan Min later on with her attitude. It wasn’t Zhan Min’s fault, but the demon’s fault for being so convincing–and Yun Ting didn’t seem attentive enough to her. However, I felt like she was annoying in a way with her not being able to see past some stuffs, just taking one person’s side just because he knew how to flatter her. What was even more convincing with Stephanie’s acting was the part where she was still the somewhat dumb Zhan Min, wanting to be a waiter.
  • Frankie Lam as Feng Yun Ting (封雲亭). I also grew up watching Frankie, lol. Frankie once again proved his solid acting in here. There was a phase I will admit that he was going through (with TVB) that he seemed somewhat bland taking on repetitive roles (but it wasn’t his fault since TVB sort of wanted to recreate some sort of phenomenon but failed). He gained my attention again for delivering a solid performance in here. Many might think there wasn’t much. But there was this naturalness in his acting in here that I missed dearly during the last few years at TVB. (At least the years he was still active.) So yes, finally a role worth watching for.
  • Siu Chuen Yung (邵傳勇) as Han Ji Zu (韓繼祖). He usually portray jerks or on the side of villain roles. (Or whenever I saw him in some dramas.) He portrayed Yun Ting’s best friend in here. Convincing in a sense with being funny at times and being plain annoying when he was possessed (and did struggle to fight with the demon to regain his body).
  • Cheng Yong (程雍) as Wang Zheng Xiong (汪正雄). Despicable slime. He and his goons were responsible for Xue Mei’s death–or part of it.
  • Hou Jie (侯傑) as Ni Ren Nu Yao (泥人女妖). Ugh, it’s no surprise that he was the most hated one in here. Duh, right?

OMG, this story compensated for some of the other ones. Although there were some frustrating moments near the end but the ultimate ending compensated for it. The beginning was tragic and then the sweet moments between Yun Ting and Xue Mei (even if subtle at times since she had to focus on avenging her death as well as others). The ending got me laughing so hard I forgave them for the other stories’ bitter outcomes. Seeing how Ji Zu struggled to call Yun Ting ‘Father-in-Law’ was a riot. Funny how things turned out, right?

Jiang Cheng (江城)
  • Jia Qing as Jiang Cheng (江城). Jia Qing’s acting in here was really top-notch. The quick switch in characters and how she was possessed from time to time showed her acting talent. She was very convincing.
  • Li Wei as Gao Fan (高蕃) / Lin Feng (林峰). There were mixed feelings throughout. However, I think he did enough for this one. He actually looked quite suitable in ancient attires.
  • Victor Chen (陳司翰) as Wang Zi Ya (王子雅). At first, I didn’t like him at all. Especially disliked him even more after the meds in the wine incident. Although Xiang Lan was lucky enough not to drink it and all and the plan blew up in his face, but I still thought that was a despicable move. However, later, I was less against him. Mostly because of his loyalty to Gao Fan and didn’t get all jealous because Xiang Lan might have liked Gao Fan. He also was a scaredy-cat but had tried to help as best as he could. So in a way, he was a comedian for the story.
  • Wang Gang as Priest Nie. Having seen him portrayed too many villainous roles, it was hard to get used to seeing him in this role. However, he didn’t appear much so that helped, lol. But indeed, he did show his capabilities throughout. Maybe he had underestimated the snake demon. In the end, he managed to put a stop to it all. He also wasn’t too arrogant about it, but had advised others to do more good deeds, etc.
  • Zhang Bo Jun (张柏俊) as Gao Fan’s father. I felt bad for him. At first, I wasn’t into it since I hated how he kept forcing Gao Fan to marry to forgo his connections, etc. However, when he finally caved in, he was indeed confused. Yes, the majority were confused and upset (rightly so) by Jiang Cheng’s behaviors. Yet he didn’t deserve all of those traumas. Luckily he–along with everyone else–learned the truth behind it and managed to move on. Unfortunately, Jiang Cheng’s father didn’t get to see how they’d finally figured everything out and their lives were back to normal.

I thought this story was decent. There were mixtures of romances and the conflicts with demons or the so-called fantasy world. Being six episodes helped the story along. Other characters worth mentioning were Xiang Lan and Judge Ma. I thought that Judge Ma (Zi Ya’s uncle) was a villain at first. Mostly because of his sneaky ways. But after seeing how the locals were so into burning Jiang Cheng and not really understanding the demon stuffs and all, I totally got why he wanted to hide his practices from them. The hilarious scene must be how he tried to apply the supposedly ‘magic water’ to see demons and ghosts and all. He ended up as a joke to the whole town (or at least the ones who came to see the cases). Xiang Lan, I kept suspecting her mysterious ways at first. But when she let Gao Fan see the truth, it all made sense. Well, as much as it could in the nature of the story. She was cute and likable in her own way. And lastly, Li Wei and Jia Qing sure made a cute couple. I was surprised. Jia Qing had good chemistry with most of her co-stars and this one was quite refreshing. (Or at least I thought so.)

Geng Niang (庚娘)
  • Jess Zhang as Geng Niang (庚娘). Loved her in here. She was not only kind and gentle but smart. She just seriously incurred such bad lucks.
  • Ehlo Huang as Jin Da Yong (金大用). Um, I liked him with all the past lives and then the current one. Yet he sure moved on fast after Geng Niang’s death. Yeah, it was cruel to let him just live a miserable life always moping over Geng Niang yet seriously? He seemed to love her so much and had fight for their lives in the last few minutes, wanting her to run first. (Even if we take out the part where the dragon girl didn’t interfere, the majority was accurate.) So I was disappointed, but luckily Ehlo’s acting didn’t disappoint at all.
  • Berg Ng as Wang Shi Ba (王十八). Haven’t seen him in ages and he sure still lived up in the acting department.
  • Sun Jia (孫嘉) as Xiao Niang (肖娘). When she entered the scene, I suspected her immediately because of her wandering eyes. Yet she ended up being a victim as well. She decided to commit suicide later to end the cycle of having to keep witnessing different schemes of her husband, Wang Shi Ba.
  • Du Jun Ze (杜俊泽) as Wang Shi Jiu (王十九) / Shang Zheng (尚正). At first, I was really annoyed with him. The righteous talk and all but it turned out he was avenging his brother. That sure changed things. The flashbacks didn’t help at all–although I knew he didn’t know what his brother had done to Geng Niang’s family. It wasn’t until he listened to the dragon girl’s story and then eventually realizing that people had also sacrificed in saving him that he understood. He blamed himself but also the fates for being so cruel. It wasn’t until Geng Niang chose to sacrifice herself to let their fates returned to its course that he began to see things differently. In a way, it was a relief that he remembered both versions of what happened, so he could really understand what was going on and appreciate what Geng Niang did. (Well, technically if the dragon girl hadn’t intervene, things wouldn’t turn out that way YET what was different was how it happened so he understood why his brother had reaped what he’d sown hence not blaming Da Yong.)

This story was one of the most anticipated for me. Mostly because I’m a major fan of Ehlo. It was interesting to see him collaborate with Jess. They were surprisingly compatible in here. Loved their relationships throughout and I so felt the green dragon when she was upset over what had happened. So I didn’t blame her at all when she interrupted the flow of nature or whatever it was to help Geng Niang. It was so frustrating how such good people keep incurring such fates. I didn’t accept the ending for Geng Niang–even if that meant every other person’s fates were back to their original course. How could such a gentle and kind person have to go through so much? The fact that they ruined Da Yong’s character didn’t even justify the means. So yeah, he had to move on sooner or later. Yet he sure moved on fast after Geng Niang’s death. Seriously? The explanation was how Geng Niang had incurred bad karma in some other past life hence having to endure the three tragic lives (or something like that). Yet they don’t remember after reincarnation anyway, why continue to torture them like that? So did Geng Niang end up being a fairy or what? If yes, then okay, I could consider that ending. But again, seriously?

Bai Qiu Lian (白秋練)
  • Fiona Sit as Bai Qiu Lian (白秋練). At first, I felt she was somewhat interesting and then it seemed to be kind of bland. But later, I quite liked her because of how she liked Mu Chan Gong but didn’t force her way into his heart. Sure, she was around, but she didn’t force it (despite her sister’s urging). She also tried to save Xiao Mei, which was admirable.
  • Jin Jia (金珈) as Mu Chan Gong (慕蟾宮). At first, I didn’t really like him since he was too emotional and caused his lover, Xiao Mei, to suffer even more than before. Later, it was revealed he wasn’t that useless of a character. However, he still was not forgiven in my book since Xiao Mei had suffered so much.
  • Mao Lin Lin (毛林林) as Bai Qiu Ju (白秋菊). Cute and funny. Lively and mischievous. There were many funny moments with her and Zhen Jun. I especially like those scenes of hers. Yet what I disliked about her was forcing Mu Chan Gong to acknowledge her sister. Yes, I know she was thinking for her sister, but wasn’t that like what the Dragon Prince did to her sister? Like forcing marriage upon Qiu Lian? What I also disagreed was how she dragged Mu Chan Gong to see her sister that one time, stating that he kept thinking of Xiao Mei and not caring about her sister. Seriously, Chan Gong and Xiao Mei knew each other since ages back, so how could she use such words? It wasn’t like Chan Gong had abandoned Qiu Lian or anything like that.
  • Wang Xiang Hon (王翔宏) as Zhen Jun (真君). Funny! He was super hilarious. He kept misunderstanding the Bai sisters of doing evil yet later realized his mistake, seeing there were exceptions. His final determination in not lumping all demons together into the bad category was during the Bai sisters’ mother’s death. He tried to amend his actions.
  • Zhang Ming Ming (張明明) as Crown Prince Long. Liked Bai Qiu Lian and used his father’s power to force her into marriage. Despicable like the other dude who forced Xiao Mei into marrying him.

How was this one? I say it was in the middle. There were mixture of happiness and sadness. Yet what was most tragic was Xiao Mei’s fate. She suffered so much, more than anyone could see. Then she sacrificed herself for them all.

So wrapping up, what was the best story? I say it was Mei Nu for its story, pace, acting, and ending. Yes, that was how I rated ’em all. Jiang Cheng ranked second–despite the fact that her father died. It was a minor detail I was willing to forgive and I had to take what I could get. Not to mention, they already wrapped up quite well. Third was Geng Niang–after I calmed down and thought about it more. Then Bai Qiu Lian–although there were some parts I was frustrated with but thought the pace wasn’t bad. That left Gongsun Jiu Niang and Hua Bi, which Hua Bi had to be shove to the last slot. Why? As said already, although I liked the chemistry between Roy and Gong Mi, the pace wasn’t too bad, and the story was unique enough YET what killed it was the ending. It got me choking and it just never recovered from there. I just felt so sad for Long Tan and Meng Fan. Gongsun Jiu Niang lost on pace major time, but the ending made up for it. Yes, it was tragic and very sad for Cai Ling BUT the others got their revenge. It wasn’t all for nothing like I felt with Hua Bi. (Although to be fair, Xiao Lian did learn his lesson and all, but what about the other two? Don’t they deserve better?)

I like the majority of the pairing and how some were especially refreshing. One of the reasons why I like watching Liao Zhai saga, because it created the opportunity for some stars from different regions to collaborate. My favorite pairing though had to be Frankie Lam and Stephanie Hsiao. At first, it was Ehlo and Jess, but they lost points with me because they didn’t end up together. Well, NOT at the last bit. Although after I calmed down, I accepted their ending more, but I still felt so sad for them. Second favorite would be Ehlo and Jess. Yes, I decided to place them second after having watched all stories already. Third would be Jia Qing and Li Wei, loved their chemistry–as said before. I was surprised. My last favorite pairing would be Roy and Gong Mi. They were compatible and their story was touching–despite the tragic ending. Tony and Akina did have chemistry and I so felt for them, but they didn’t click for me as much. Just personal preference. And I didn’t feel anything for Fiona and Jin Jia–although I liked them individually.

The Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils 2013

I wasn’t planning to dive into this. I meant I was planning to watch Royal Tramp since I had been updating on that a lot last year. However, I wasn’t too sure about this–because I was judging the book by its cover (lol). Then I got curious, wondering how it would all turn out. Considering how there is a similar cast between the two productions–this and the upcoming Royal Tramp, I want to check out the cast to encourage myself even more. Seriously, I wasn’t expecting much, if all fails, I could abandon it. However, I was addicted right from the beginning. OMG, it was that good. Okay, I might be exaggerating here, but maybe because I didn’t expect anything so it turned out quite well for me.

Main Cast:

  • Wallace Chung as Qiao Feng (喬峰)/ Xiao Feng (蕭峰). I was surprised they cast him in the role. Yet I got past that and managed to hang on, to see what they could come up with. However, I felt Wallace managed to win me over with his portrayal. It was definitely different from previous versions and possibly expectations of what readers might have in mind for Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng as a character in general. That didn’t mean it couldn’t be changed because I believed Wallace had achieved that effect. He managed to keep some of the essences of Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng as a character but also added another side of Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng that would allow one to ponder. He had this gentleness and kindness to him. It seemed like he wasn’t fierce enough at times, but he was able to exude that fierceness if he was forced to. So in the end, I think he was powerful enough of a character for me. Oh yeah, I was so glad they (the production team) didn’t make it so he would somehow fall for Ah Zi too just because they were twins. (I’m serious, it seemed to want to go that way, but the little change only stopped at the sisters being twins and not other side stories, phew.) Love the way he portrayed the character overall. I cried buckets during the last scene. Okay, NOT really, but it was closer to there.
  • Kim Ki Bum as Duan Yu (段譽). 200% surprised. I swear I was judging just based on the first impression of seeing some pictures and hearing about the casting at first. Yet when I watched it, I realized something. Like the other versions, except for Benny Chan’s version that I remember Da Li people had different outfits from the Zhong Yuan people. Then it hit me, what did Da Li people usually wear? What were their actual outfits anyway? And what did they look like? I meant they lived in a different region and had their own culture, right? So why not cast someone having distinguished features and have the Da Li people dressed differently like how it was in the series. It felt refreshing for me. The fact that Kim Ki Bum was so charming in the role made it a lot more appealing for me too. (Duan Yu’s actually my least favorite based upon the novel, and the first version I watched didn’t help his case either so yeah.) The plot really helped Kim Ki Bum since it made him less boring and less nagging/clingy that I felt more intrigued by what else they would eliminate just based on past adaptations. In fact, this by far made me feel hopeful for his character as I watched on, like his sense of caring for his family enhanced even more in here. They elaborated how he didn’t just care for his family or his sisters (who he and everyone had mistakenly thought at first were his sisters) when he needed them, but he really cared for them. Like at one point when he was talking to Wang Yu Yan (it was their first meeting), he thought of how much Wan Mei must have suffered after the disaster with them being siblings (so they couldn’t stay together anymore). It was like he wasn’t disposing of them after learning the truth but still cared for them. (NOT implying or encouraging them to continue on here, but I’m saying like he continues to care for them as family members now, wondering how they are, etc.)
  • Han Dong as Xu Zhu (虛竹). After I was reassured with how Wallace and Kim Ki Bum had passed the radar (for me), I was really unease with how it would turn out with him. Yes, he would be the final key with me liking this version as an overall or not. It was really nerve-wracking of a wait since I know it would take a while with all the conflicts involved and the many subplots going on already. Knowing those things didn’t help keep me calm for the time being either. When he finally appeared, I was like, “Finally.” But it wasn’t because I was anticipating his appearance. Well, sort of, but because after what happened in the other parts of the plot, it got me even more anxious to see how he fended, etc. After watching several scenes, I gave up with trying to compare and enjoyed his version for its own depiction. (Because I swear Felix Wong ruined it for everyone. He did it when he was portraying Guo Jing too so nothing new here.) Anyway, back to this, I think it’s hard to portray a really “dumb/naive” type of Xu Zhu like how Felix did it. (Since he was just so natural in that role.) But I felt like Han Dong’s Xu Zhu wasn’t terrible. I could see that he was clueless at times, though not like outright super clueless, he was like in confusion and unsure of lots of stuff, especially how he was panicking to find a solution to back out of being part of the chess game, but couldn’t. I was able to see the uncertainties in his eyes and his face. He did indeed project a kind image though, so unlike his Tian Bo Guang role. (LOL) And his wrinkled face expression at times was understandable since it was normal to be scared of stuff. NOT like Xu Zhu was like to the enlightened stage to not feel fear anymore. OR when he was curious at times. Then I completely ignore the Xu Zhu in the book and forced myself to just focus on this Xu Zhu that the production team had created (or perhaps Han Dong had decided it, or both). How was it after all those? I think It was really easier to watch, not having to compare. I meant I feel just based on a projection of a clueless monk, just venturing out in the world, then after leaving Shaolin, he was adapting to the new life and the environment outside. He was still clueless at times and even say that he was a monk (lol) without realizing it. It was indeed quite funny and cute in a sense. I felt it was kind of strange with his hesitation at times (because again, I was used to seeing Felix so graceful and confident later on), but I soon realized that it made sense that Xu Zhu would be clueless or not as confident in some matters–or even become shy when talking about sensitive matters. So I was more accepting and just try to enjoy his performance from there on. Indeed, he was more comfortable when talking to his sworn brothers. Then later, he became more confident with directing the people from Lingjiu Palace (靈鷲宮), and eventually seemed more powerful so I was glad. Like he needed time to adapt and gain confidence with the world around him. It wasn’t too off. I ended up enjoying his role anyway. Even if he wasn’t the Xu Zhu in the book or like past adaptations, but I felt like Han Dong did a good job with making me like him or think of him in as a real monk walking out into a different world, etc.
  • Mao Xiao Tong (毛曉彤) as Zhong Ling (鍾靈). I thought she was somewhat cute at first. Then like most of the cast in here, her outfit was distracting for me. Later on, I managed to get past those outfits already and indeed, she was quite cute. The way they made her character out, it was indeed suitable. I think I felt even sadder for her since she met Duan Yu first but had to back down because she realized Duan Yu and Mu Wan Qing were together. (And later on, I felt Mu Wan Qing was too mean to her but glad Mu Wan Qing cooled down and considered it seriously thus understanding how it must have been for Zhong Ling.) What I found strange though that she accepted Duan Yu as her brother too fast. But it soon explained the reason why. She was so used to being invisible that though she was shocked upon learning of the news, she still accepted it quickly after. The fact that Ah Zi was taunting her probably made her not wanting to lose ground in front of Ah Zi as well. But aside from that, lovable overall.
  • Zhao Yuan Yuan as Mu Wan Qing (木婉清). Surprised. At first, I’m like, “What in the world is she wearing?” I meant the mask, not the costume. Okay, the red and black outfit was kind of distracting for me too. But the mask was indeed weird. I was glad that was off after a while. But aside from that, what else? I felt her portrayal of Mu Wan Qing was also genuine in its own way. It was different like how though she tried to be fierce (since it was the way she was brought up by her master), but at times she couldn’t help laughing at Duan Yu’s lame jokes either. Sure, she was so fierce and she was unreasonable at times, but I also felt bad for her since her mother’s temper wasn’t helping her cause either. Her insecurities also arise from how her father had treated her mother, etc. But in the end, I was glad she wasn’t too unreasonable. Considering how she, herself, had suffered before so she would understand how Zhong Ling must have felt too. And though she was fierce with Duan Yu and somewhat snapping at Wang Yu Yan that one time (yeah, her temper got in the way again) with the whole misunderstanding, I was glad to know that she didn’t want Wang Yu Yan to return to Mu Rong Fu’s side, considering how much Mu Rong Fu’s betrayal had caused grief for Wang Yu Yan previously. (Because if she would allow Wang Yu Yan to do that right away, it would help her case, but she didn’t agree. Although Wang Yu Yan ended up returning to Mu Rong Fu’s side anyway, that was beyond the point here.)
  • Zhang Meng as Wang Yu Yan (王語嫣). Another surprise. She’s really, really smart in the novel. Well, it was already obvious that she wanted to help her cousin, etc. However, I felt she was boring in the novel. The first adaptation that I watched didn’t aid her cause at all (like how it was with Duan Yu), because they didn’t just make her boring BUT also annoying. This one? A great improvement. Though I felt it was all right with the last 2 adaptations that I managed to catch, her character still didn’t stick with me until this one. (Despite the fact that people say that she wasn’t as beautiful as the past two actresses who portrayed the role. Yet hey, I don’t listen to the public anyway.) She was more down to earth in this one. It was like implying how she was so sheltered by her mother and was forced to act properly that she didn’t even dare to smile within her mother’s presence. Yet when she was with Ah Zhu and Ah Bi–and eventually Duan Yu, she was more mischievous and showed a livelier side. I felt that would be more realistic because even if she knew she should act proper and all (and the strict rules for girls during those ancient times), but as a young girl, she would still ponder about the many things of the worlds and want to go out to explore. Though the case here wasn’t just going out to see the world, but more like wanting to hunt down for news of her cousin. It was quite tragic for her since she’d chosen to stay by Mu Rong Fu’s side in the end, instead of following the others. However, I felt it made a lot more sense. Considering how she had admired Mu Rong Fu since little and had continued so throughout the whole events of the plot, it was hard to see how she would jump ship so quickly to Duan Yu. Whether Mu Rong Fu deserved it or not, it was debatable, but I felt it was strange to just forget about him after that one betrayal. Sure, it explained in the previous versions that she was touched by the many things that Duan Yu had done for her thus accepting him, but I felt it was still strange she was able to let go of Mu Rong Fu so fast. She indeed did feel grateful toward Duan Yu for his help numerous times, but she always treated him like a good friend (like they’d both acknowledged many times throughout their encounters) so it was weird to see her jumping ship just because of that one incident. It could be explained that she finally awakened and realized her foolishness of worshiping Mu Rong Fu all these years, but still…didn’t really convince (for me). Hey, she was still the queen, just not Da Li’s queen, but Da Yan’s queen. (LOL!)
  • Zong Feng Yan as Mu Rong Fu (慕容復). Seriously, talking about a miscast. YES, I finally pick on someone, right? NOT true, I picked on some of the main cast in the past too, but when I actually watched it, they weren’t so off like I thought. This guy, no matter how I tried to be patient, was far from Mu Rong Fu. So I felt like he was a good actor at the part where Duan Yu was posing as him, but other than that, I felt he was a miscast for the character. He was so crazy and fierce at times, and was easily jealous, so how could he be the patient Mu Rong Fu whom others had mistaken? Though I was ready to hate him and did whenever he pulled those tricks throughout. (And somehow, I did understand it was a huge burden for him with how his father had forced him to keep forging forward to restore Da Yan like past adaptations but wasn’t as convinced for some reason.) Yet some of the scenes when his father finally let go and told him to do the same, I felt really bad for him. Because with Mu Rong Bo’s flashbacks, it seemed like Mu Rong Fu had nothing to think about but to restore Da Yan. So that was his whole life. Perhaps Wang Yu Yan was right in saying how pitiful Mu Rong Fu was with having such a burden. But it was so hard to sympathize with him when seeing him continuously pulling those tricks. Yet seeing him breaking down completely when his father told him to let go was really powerful. I think the actor could really convince, but like said before, he was wrong for the role according to how it was set up in the novel. I actually find him quite hilarious and convincing after he’d gone crazy and was playing the whole ‘king’ scenes.
  • Jia Qing as both Ah Zhu (阿朱) and Ah Zi (阿紫). Um, okay, they weren’t supposed to be twins in the novel. But since TVB’s 1982 version pulled an “Ah Zhu and Zhong Ling” lookalike hence pushing Zhong Ling to Qiao Feng later on AND killing Mu Rong Fu and Mu Wan Qing as well, I guess this version wasn’t WAY over with making Ah Zhu and Ah Zi twins. But moving on, what about Jia Qing’s portrayals of both characters? Impressed actually. In fact, I was wondering how she was so heavily promoted last year with all of those projects (though I wouldn’t go outright bashing) and if that was just one of the artists that the company was promoting, etc. Yet I finally figured out why. Jia Qing seriously has great potential and hopefully, she would continue to impress. (Just like how that one article had shown her professionalism that one time and her ability to touch even other members of the cast as well along with her co-star.)
    • As Ah Zhu (阿朱). As Ah Zhu, there were many lovable things about her. (Of course, lol.) She was very bright and cunning at times with her tricks. Yet other times, it showed her maturity and intelligence beyond her age. She had great deduction skills and could cause others to become tongue-tied all of a sudden. She, like the rest of the Mu Rong family, knew how to use the special disguising skills to her advantage. Yet that was also her downfall. Sadly.
    • As Ah Zi (阿紫). Crazy witch. That was about it, lol. JUST KIDDING, but Jia Qing sure could convince. It wasn’t just about Ah Zi being loud and unreasonable either, but more like it got you thinking how was it possible for Jia Qing to be so gentle and graceful in the other role yet so obnoxious and devious in this one? Sure, Ah Zhu had her mischievous moments too, but it was apparently different from how Ah Zi would approach that ‘sense of humor’ as she saw it (mostly because of the environment she grew up in). Jia Qing’s weakness came in around the time Ah Zi became blind because of the poison. It was more like she couldn’t portray a blind person well. At times, it seemed like she let her eyes stayed still and could pass as being blind. Then other times, she got so excited with acting out Ah Zi’s obnoxious side that she had forgotten to keep her eyes still or appear blind. Perhaps being so used to acting with her eyes had caused a disadvantage for her at that point.
  • Mona Wang as Princess Yin Chuan (銀川公主) aka Li Qing Lu (李清露) aka Meng Gu (夢姑). Wah! Finally a beautiful wife for Xu Zhu. (Sorry to stomp others down, but I never really felt right with past adaptations, even if I must admit the princess alongside Felix Wong was really cute.) Mona was really cute as the princess and really elegant too. She sure exuded the princess image. And I know she was not one of the major characters, but I included her in here anyway, because of her participation toward the last part of the series leading to the epic ending. She did have more scenes versus some previous versions so I thought I include her as well.

Other Key Characters:

  • Bryan Leung as Xiao Yuan Shan (蕭遠山). As interesting as it got, he portrayed Qiao/Xiao Feng in TVB’s 1982’s version. It was really funny seeing him acting out as the father role in here. Well, he did portray the father role in the flashbacks of years ago (like how they often did with past adaptations of having the person portraying Qiao/Xiao Feng portraying the younger version of the father since Qiao/Xiao Feng looked like his father). But with this one, I just wanted to laugh. NOT that he wasn’t convincing, because he was, comparing to his recent years of portraying random roles. What I was laughing about was his participation in here and how he had chided his son for acting so rash because of a girl (saving Ah Zhu that one time), and I was laughing because he did the same thing in the other version. (LOL!) Back to this one, what can I say? He was really convincing in this serious role. He really brought out the many sides of his character well, and then eventually remorse. Not to mention other emotions of hatred and pain that had dominated his life all these years previously. Then finally letting go of revenge.
  • Feng Jin Gao (馮進高) as Mu Rong Bo (慕容博). Mu Rong Fu’s father. He sure could act. I could see his arrogance throughout and trying to mold Mu Rong Fu into a killing machine and to resort to any means that they could to restore the Yan dynasty, but later when he finally turned around, he exuded the kind and gentle look really well. And what about him? Seeing him, it wasn’t hard to figure out how Mu Rong Fu turned out that way. The old man was setting his son out for the evil road real good. Whether he truly believed in restoring the Yan dynasty as a beneficial thing to their citizens or not, he sure caused many mishaps throughout. Not to mention 30 years of madness among several key characters in here. Though they were really dumb to just believe him like that, he sure could manipulate since it made sense during those chaotic times.
  • Gong Fang Min (公方敏) as Xuan Ci. Xu Zhu’s father. I think he had a more active role in here versus some of the past adaptations. Sure, he was the “Leading Big Brother” (帶頭大哥) and had a great impact regarding Qiao/Xiao Feng’s life. Yet it seemed like he wasn’t as involved in some of the previous versions, especially the events leading to the Shaolin gathering scene. This one, he was leading for most of the time with the parts and managed to reflect the ‘leader’ role. (In one of the adaptations, it had Duan Zheng Shun directed the whole thing SO it seemed like Xuan Ci was less powerful.) Though he had broken one of the major Buddhist conducts, there were some other things that compensated for his character. Like how he was willing to let Xiao Feng kill him to avenge Xiao Yuan Shan’s death. (Perhaps that little detail had helped for Xu Zhu’s cause later on with the gathering as well so Xiao Feng wouldn’t be shocked and attacking Xuan Ci along with the others.)
  • Canti Lau as Duan Zheng Shun (段正淳). Surprisingly disappointing. I had a lot of expectations for him. Yet he didn’t impress me or at least entertain me enough to ‘save’ the show as I initially had thought. (Since I was watching for mostly some of the veterans here, aside from the curiosity about the new cast.) Perhaps it was because this version didn’t focus on him so much as the previous versions. I was all right with that since I was kind of worn out with too much focus on the Dali people from past versions. It was a new feeling, but still feel that he seemed so weak compared to some past versions. The one thing about him that made sense was his ‘smooth talking’ skills and his sense of care for his family (whether he was honest or not). But I could feel he really cared for Duan Yu and his immediate family. Or perhaps he was one of those that could never make up his mind about his feelings AND ended up hurting so many women. But what I outright wanted to kill him for was still being so close to Kang Min–after knowing that she had caused Ah Zhu’s death.
  • Duan Zheng Shun’s wife and lovers: Yeah, that guy seriously was smooth with his ways so even the super mean ones got tricked by him. Well, maybe they weren’t mean back then but ended up bitter and all because of him? Who knows? About all, the cast selection was quite good since it projected that Duan Zheng Shun seriously knew how to pick. (Not that I’m stomping on the past cast, but I just think this version’s cast selection seemed closer to the character’s age for this group.)
    • Yan Qing Yu (閻青妤) as Dao Bai Feng (刀白鳳). Duan Yu’s mother. She could really exude the respectable image as the wife. Yet, like how her character was written, she had her own secrets too. But she couldn’t be blamed. It was in the heat of the moment and how she had gone through so much, having a husband who couldn’t be loyal to her. It wasn’t any better with the whole “two can play at this game” but if it wasn’t so, would there be Duan Yu?
    • Florence Tan (陳秀麗) as Gan Bao Bao (甘寶寶). Zhong Ling’s mother. I think she was the kindest and most gentle among all the lovers. It didn’t mean she lacked strength, but she just wasn’t the scheming type or manipulative type either. Though she caved in near some of her ending scenes and called Duan Zheng Shun “Duan Lang” (段朗), I didn’t blame her too much. Unlike some past versions, this one cut out the part where Duan Zheng Shun snuck into her room through the secret passage and had a secret meeting with her–to the expense of her husband and daughter being right there. I welcomed that change. Though she had deceived (and possibly the only deceptive part about her character really) her husband about her daughter’s real father, but I felt it was excusable on some level. She was still loyal to him all through the years of their marriage. At least until the inevitable ending.
    • Shu Yan (舒硯) as Qin Hong Mian (秦紅棉). Mu Wan Qing’s mother. Among Duan Zheng Shun’s lovers, I admired her the most. Though she was really hot-headed and ‘crazy’ in many ways, she had raised her daughter on her own. Even if she had to lie about her real relation to her daughter initially, but she still kept her daughter by her side. And though she seemed quite mean on the surface, she could be so soft-hearted as well. Just like how she was convinced by Ruan Xing Zhu and even joined forces with Ruan Xing Zhu in the later parts of the series.
    • Wang Xuan Yu (王宣予) as Li Qing Luo (李青蘿) aka Madame Wang (王夫人). Wang Yu Yan’s mother. She sure looked mean. (LOL) And she seemed crazier in here. Though some past cast had exuded the evil look quite well too. She was just plain bitter and crazy, considering how she wanted to kill all the people who went by the surname of “Duan” (段). That sure was taking it to the extreme. Then there was also the part where she wanted Mu Rong Fu to kill all the other women yet that was just a bluff. Talking about crazy, eh? (It wasn’t bad enough that Mu Rong Fu’s father had driven him to craziness up to that point, but now his aunt was doing the same thing.)
    • Sylvia Cheung/ Zhang Yi Mu (張譯木) as Ruan Xing Zhu (阮星竹). Ah Zhu and Ah Zi’s mother. I never liked her regardless of the version, but this one made it less hateful. Maybe it was the different scenes that she had with her daughters and even Duan Zheng Shun. She was 2nd on the manipulative list. Because she seriously could sweet talk her way out of trouble, especially how she had conquered Qin Hong Mian just after that one talk. Seriously? Pro all right. What I hated about her the most wasn’t her ‘careful’ ways and the ability to get along with others, but with how she had abandoned her daughters and still dared to cry over the tragedies later. This version kind of toned that down a bit, but to me, it just didn’t stick. I meant, okay, those were scary times back then and how it was hard to survive with criticisms of having children when she wasn’t married yet. But the others had raised their children–one way or another. Why couldn’t she? She was partially blamed for Ah Zi’s evil deeds after all. Can’t disregard the fact that Ah Zi grew up with that monster and there was no proper guidance. How could the others expect Ah Zi to change like that? (Regarding Ah Zhu, I think it was because how Mu Rong Fu had exuded the kind attitude out front so others wouldn’t suspect him hence Ah Zhu having grown up in a better environment. Yet Ah Zhu wasn’t so innocent either since she did try to steal the manual from Shaolin that one time. It was just that Ah Zhu was luckier in some ways, but still died tragically.)
    • Viann Zhang as Kang Min (康敏) aka Madame Ma (馬夫人). The most despicable and manipulative among all the women. I think this version also made her the most hateful yet I didn’t mind. I meant I think this version managed to capture her manipulative abilities better. Maybe some might think she appeared so much, but I thought that was what made her scary and hateful at the same time. The other versions, I would be “yeah, yeah, she’s there” and we know what role she would play (based on the novel or the past versions). But this version showed how manipulative she was, laying out scene by scene of what she did and continued to control others around her. And it wasn’t like she was hogging the screen so much that you would eventually yell “enough already, she’s supposed to be dead a long time ago.” They showed enough of the role she played in the overall picture. That also made the Beggar Clan looked ridiculous for falling for her traps, which I got a kick out of it because I seriously hated them for being so easily manipulated by others and didn’t investigate properly.
  • The Four Evils
    • Du Yu Ming (杜玉明) as Duan Yan Qing (段延慶). Duan Yu’s biological father. If you read the novel or watched past versions, you know. But if not, yeah, it was a shocker indeed. But it turned the whole plot around for Duan Yu, in accepting about his biological father, not just caring about how he wasn’t related to the girls. Because I think this version captured it real good as well (along with 2 other versions). The tragedy didn’t end at Duan Yu losing his parents but learning that his biological father was one of the four evils. What to say about Duan Yan Qing except he was crazy? Like some of the characters in here, he was driven to restore his ‘crown’. Though I was really pissed with how he had killed Yue Lao Shan, this one sort of made it less hateful during his death scene. It was tragic that one could forgive him for what he’d done. I didn’t completely forgive him for what he’d done, but in a way, it showed that he was willing to die for his son. So there was still some good in him. It was just that he was so into his plot that he’d astrayed so far from the right path. And how in the world was Mu Rong Fu able to kill him? I think it was due to both because (1) Mu Rong Fu had gone mad after this last attempt in restoring Da Yan and losing his two loyal followers thus fueling his energy even more, and also because (2) Duan Yan Qing himself wanted to die. Duan Yan Qing himself was one of the four evils after all (and Duan Yu had stated that as the sole reason why he didn’t want to accept the man as his father) so how could he let Duan Yu suffer from the upcoming possible criticisms/debates from others? He probably wanted to sacrifice himself in an attempt to get Duan Yu to forgive him as well.
    • Meng Xia (孟霞) as Ye Er Niang (葉二娘). Xu Zhu’s mother. Like Mu Wan Qing, I was so annoyed by the mask they created for her. It was really odd and disturbing. Even if I wanted to say she was part of the four evils after all and they were all weird, but it was really distracting. Yet she wasn’t bad as Ye Er Niang. The reunion scene with her son was really tragic and touching.
    • Lin Yi Zheng (林以政) as Yue Lao San (岳老三). Duan Yu’s disciple. He was seriously funny in here. (My favorite Yue Lao Shan is actually the guy from TVB’s 1982 version–despite that version having many holes. But I have to put this guy in as well for 2nd favorite.) He had many funny scenes and was seen really loyal to Duan Yu numerous times. He tried to back out of the deal the first few times yet later really kept his words. He really tried to protect Duan Yu and died because of Duan Yu. I felt really sad that Duan Yu didn’t know that. Or did he overhear it? But still quite tragic with his death too.
    • Ji Wei (纪伟) as Yun Zhong He (雲中鶴). Um…they didn’t focus on him as much in here as some other versions with showing more of his kidnapping girls, but it was all right. It was somewhat funny that he was mocking Yue Lao Shan about being Duan Yu’s disciple at times. That was about it.
  • Lu Yong (盧勇) as Jiu Mo Zhi (鳩摩智). Royal Adviser of the Tubo Kingdom. They cut out some of his scenes in here, but it was all right. I rather they focus all around with different characters than linger on and on with some characters only. I kept making fun of his hairstyle in here and how he needed a comb (or two, lol). But must admit he’s a good actor with portraying the cunning person. Then later, he repented for real and thanked Duan Yu for saving him, etc.
  • Jin Ming (金銘) as Tian Shan Tong Lao (天山童姥). At first, I was doubting her. Not sure she could do it. But I guess having 2 people portraying her role made sense. Or were there 3? The 3rd one being the person who turned really old with white hair. (‘Cause I couldn’t really tell if the makeup was done OR a different actress. But I had guessed it was a different actress.) Not only had she managed to convince me of her cunning nature but also her cruel side as well. She was quite manipulative too. And I felt ten times more sorry for Xu Zhu whenever she hit him over the head. Seriously, major abusing but it made sense with her nature.
  • Alyssa Chia as Li Qiu Shui (李秋水). Very graceful and powerful. I swear Alyssa’s version made me feel more convinced as to why she has all these ‘abilities’ to seduce Wu Zai Zi and won others’ hearts. Many might be complaining of the age thing here again, but I felt it was suitable because people back then, especially those in the jianghu realm and knowing martial arts of various sorts could use their skills to reserve their beauty through time. It wasn’t until her death that she showed signs of aging.
  • Eddy Ko as The Sweeper Monk (掃地僧). The most powerful and enlightened monk within Shaolin Sect. Even if they exaggerated on his skills (as with many of the characters in here), I felt I could understand his role in the overall story better. He was the guy who could put a stop to the conflicts that had rippled several key characters’ lives in the past 30 years. The way they made him to be, it was easier to relate and how he was able to convince them to stop the killing and fighting.

Far-Out: I decided to put these people in here, because even though they did make some major impact in the story but weren’t around as much.

  • Samson Lai (賴水清) as Wang Jian Tong (汪劍通). The predecessor of the Beggar Clan. Yes, the director decided to take part in the production as well with the ‘on-screen’ side. Yet he wasn’t around long. Just a little bit.
  • Min Zheng (闵政) as Ma Da Yuan (馬大元). Kang Min’s husband. A good person yet too soft-hearted at times. If not, how could he have fallen into Kang Min’s trap?
  • Gao Yu Qing (高玉慶) as Bai Shi Jing (白世鏡). Somehow, this version made him less manipulative and less despicable. It had pointed the finger at Kang Min being the master manipulator so he was seen more human in a sense. Yet it didn’t let him go that easily either since he did betray his good brother.
  • Wu Hua Xin (吳華新) as Quan Wan Qing (全冠清). Made him even more despicable. But as I flipped back to the novel and read some parts of it, it fitted with his actions.
  • Guo Kai Min (郭凱敏) as Duan Zheng Ming (段正明). He didn’t appear much except some scenes in the beginning and later after Duan Zheng Shun died. But he was fine. He did exude the kind-hearted person and all. But he wasn’t a coward toward Duan Yan Qing’s many schemes either. He was willing to protect his family and all.
  • Shen Bao Ping (沈保平) as Reverend Huang Mei (黃眉大師). Helped save the Duan family from an embarrassment scene that one time when Duan Yu and Mu Wan Qing were captured by Duan Yan Qing.
  • Wang Kun (王坤) as Zhu Dan Chen (朱丹臣). One of Duan Zheng Shun’s bodyguards. He often disguised himself as a scholar. His other skill was creating secret passages. Always great to have him around.
  • Wang Zheng Jia as Chu Wan Li (褚萬里). One of Duan Zheng Shun’s bodyguards. He often disguised himself as a fisherman. Though he was killed by Duan Yan Qing, he was aggravated by Ah Zi’s words. Hot-headed but still kind-hearted, didn’t deserve his fate at all. But what else could be done, right?
  • Hugo Ng as Zhong Wan Chou (鍾萬仇). Gan Bao Bao’s husband. I seriously doubt Hugo could portray it at first. It was because I was more used to his overly serious roles. This one? He sure was crazy at times, and he managed not to look intimidating. It was really fun to watch. And I indeed felt really sad for him with being a shield at times but didn’t feel too bad for him when he tried to bring the four evils in and even resorted to such tactics of even involving Mu Wan Qing into the schemes as well. Considering how his wife and Qin Hong Mian were good sisters after all so how could he do that to Qin Hong Mian’s daughter?
  • Hua Jiao (華嬌) as Ah Bi (阿碧). One of Mu Rong Fu’s servant girls. Stayed by his side at the end and managed to recruit some people to play out the “kingdom” scenes. Cute image and indeed quite clever with her appearance. She really exuded the ‘mischievous’ side as well, along with Ah Zhu when they both appeared at first.
  • Hou Jie (侯杰) as Bao Bu Tong (包不同).  Followed Mu Rong Fu until he was killed off. I found it really funny that he kept arguing with Duan Yu at various times and Duan Yu matched his speed, lol. Couldn’t blame him too much since he was being loyal to Mu Rong Fu after all.
  • Li Yuan (李远) as Feng Bo E (風波惡). Followed Mu Rong Fu until he was killed off. Also argued with Duan Yu from time to time though less than Bao Bu Tong, but also can’t blame him either.
  • Chen Zi Han (陳紫函) as Madame Xiao (萧夫人). Xiao Yuan Shan’s wife, Xiao Feng’s mother. Small appearance but really captured the tragic event of that time.
  • Zhang Ming Ming (張明明) as Zhuo Bu Fan (卓不凡). I seriously got confused. Did they merge his character in? Like really? That was indeed strange. But forgivable.
  • Alec Su as Wu Ya Zi (無崖子). OMG, he was so arrogant. Well, comparing to some past version, he was less arrogant with the words, because one of the versions Wu Ya Zi actually said that Xu Zhu was ugly, etc. This one only said he was just an ordinary little monk. (LOL) But I was mumbling about how he was so picky, lol. It was funny seeing Alec Su in such an old role. But it was enjoyable while it lasted. The flashbacks were also cool. Even if he wasn’t my favorite character, but I enjoyed Alec’s performance.
  • Gao Yuan Yuan as Li Bi Yun (李碧雲). Li Qiu Shui’s sister. Didn’t appear much but exuded the ‘goddess’ state all right. Better than some of her past roles. I meant like she usually would wrinkle her face all the time (or probably because of the roles) but this one, she was just passive or appearing kind of ‘cold’, which was fine. It created the mysterious aura.
  • Liu Chao (劉潮) as You Tan Zhi (游坦之). Seriously dumb. If not, why would he still loved Ah Zi so much after being tortured by her so many times? No wonder Xiao Feng let him take care of Ah Zi–even after the whole incident in Shaolin, etc.
  • Han Zhen Hua (韓振華) as Su Xing He (蘇星河). This version somewhat gave an out for him? Well, when I read the novel again of that part, it had actually had that part so he wasn’t totally blamed for the deaths of the Shaolin elders?
  • Wang Gang (王崗) as Ding Chun Qiu (丁春秋). Ah Zi’s master. Didn’t have much of an active role like some past versions but I was all right with it (yup, yet again forgiving the production team). He was sure lame. Like how he let his followers/disciples praised him to Heaven. It was really hilarious to watch. But after all, he was a traitor. And oh look, karma, Ah Zi betrayed him as well. Nice? Full circle? What was even more hilarious was how his disciples abandoned him after severing their ties with him at Shaolin. He got what he deserved.
  • Wang Jian Xin (王建新) as Yelu Hongji (耶律洪基). I swear, it was really strange seeing this guy portraying Yelu Hongji, but I told myself I was being influenced by some past adaptations. Yet I guess it was all right since he didn’t appear as much anyway.

Relationships (romance, friendships, etc):

  • Wallace Chung, Kim Ki Bum, and Han Dong as sworn brothers. In here, I could feel their bonds even more. Well, I could feel it for all versions that I watched, but at times I felt kind of loose, especially the ’80s version where it focused too much on Duan Yu’s chasing of WYY that I eventually felt like he wasn’t so into the whole ‘brotherhood’ as he’d claimed. Though he indeed did help his brothers when they needed him. Yet it was kind of loose. (The other two’s acting helped.) In here, I was glad they added in that bit about Qiao Feng and Duan Yu drinking together that one time after they left Heroes’ Gathering Manor (聚賢莊). Though Duan Yu wasn’t good with wine (and this version made him less dependent on wine than the ’80s version, thank you), he was still willing to accompany Qiao Feng and tried to drink while they chatted away. Then there was also the whole Duan Yu speaking up for Qiao Feng at various points throughout, not just standing nearby WYY all the time to annoy her even more and not speak up for Qiao Feng. (Yeah, I know it seemed Duan Yu kind of become a busybody with interfering with some stuff and needed to be told off about it but I was glad it was because he wanted to speak up to defend his ‘good brother’. It showed their bond.) Then later on when Duan Yu met Xu Zhu, it was a riot how Duan Yu kept teasing Xu Zhu about WYY at first but after learning the truth, he ended up teasing Xu Zhu about Meng Gu. Xiao Feng joined in on that joke later as well. They were indeed brothers. Cool team for me.
  • Wallace Chung and Jia Qing as Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng and Ah Zhu. My favorite Qiao Feng/Ah Zhu pairing is actually Bryan Leung and Cecilia Wong’s and it has always been that way since none of the others stick with me, even if I liked the cast portraying those roles. But this pairing has now moved up to the second spot. YES, surprisingly, they were so addicting to watch in their own way. Their scenes were increased a bit more, but that didn’t mean it was dragging. It added more depth to their story and the different portrayals of some scenes made it really funny and cute. I never thought of Qiao Feng and Ah Zhu to be cute, more like a mature type of relationship. Yet this pairing managed to make me feel it was all right to think of Qiao Feng and Ah Zhu as cute. Several scenes were dramatized to stir some emotions for them, but I felt it wasn’t too over. Like the heart-wrenching departure at Heroes’ Gathering Manor. Then the many conversations they held, though still sticking to some details of the novel, but there were differences. Like how she actually didn’t condemn him for the killing of that one medic when he was little, but thanked him for telling her the story, i.e. trusting her enough to confide in her. Who could forget the heart-breaking goodbye as well? (Though that was super fake that there was no blood involved when she received like 5 blows of the Dragon Palms Skills.)
  • Kim Ki Bum and Mao Xiao Tong as a couple. Interestingly, I didn’t feel anything for them at first. But then later when she appeared again to take care of him, I could feel the cuteness and her innocence and care for him. Even more when she was willing to just stay by his side silently only. Yet later Duan Yu got the ‘agreement’ from Mu Wan Qing so they also get to be together. Which was cute.
  • Kim Ki Bum and Zhao Yuan Yuan as a couple. OMG, I never thought I liked them so much. But they stuck with me even after knowing the inevitable of the plot with how they were siblings and they have to separate. I felt both were fighting harder for it to not be true. Then when they knew it was inevitable and when they were trapped in the cave together, they were fighting harder not to let the poison control them. Well, only she was suffering from the potion because he’d become unaffected by all sorts of poisons after those two creatures jumped into his mouth that one time. Yet I really liked her bravery with how she attempted to kill herself to just end it rather than giving in to some delusional thought that they couldn’t be siblings OR letting the other dude have the satisfaction of condemning them. Then he had to stop her. He reassured her that they would be fine. It wasn’t fake at all the way their interactions were. Though there were times after that event that she still wished that it wasn’t true with them being siblings and how she still couldn’t accept it, but it was hard to control it. She needed time still to move on, considering how he was like the first guy in her life (that was important). There were also times that Duan Yu thought of her, like that one time talking to Wang Yu Yan (as mentioned previously) and later when he was talking to Xu Zhu. It seemed like he couldn’t let go yet and he had to remind himself that they were siblings so he had to forget about her, etc. Then their reunion later. What made it even cuter at times throughout at relevant parts was how he called her Wan Mei (婉妹). Hey, at least I thought that was cute. Though time didn’t permit any more dramatic moments between them because of what happened in the end, I felt the production team could have done without the whole misunderstanding of Duan Yu and Wang Yu Yan. Though it made sense with Mu Wan Qing’s insecurity with worrying that he was like Duan Zheng Shun, and she sure had her mother’s temper yet I felt it was strange. They should’ve provided that little time for Duan Yu and her reunion instead.
  • Kim Ki Bum and Zhang Meng as a couple or just friends. Because of how they interacted from the moment they met until the later parts of the story, I feel like I could root for them more in this version. At least I wasn’t feeling like it was just an obsession he carried throughout and couldn’t even step away like a decent human being but just kept tagging her and annoying her–along with other people. Their relationship started quite pure. Well, he initially did dub her as “Shen Xian Jie Jie” (神仙姐姐), but moved way past that, learning to like and respect her for herself, not just obsessing over her because she looked like the Fairy Lady he spotted in the cave. The fact that he didn’t keep focusing on his silent bitterness and jealousy of Mu Rong Fu made it tenfold better too. Sure, it probably steered from the main theme of the novel a bit regarding his character, but I totally welcomed this change since I’m sick and tired of seeing Duan Yu with no backbone when it came to Wang Yu Yan. (And for the record, I didn’t dislike her in the novel because she didn’t like him, but more like not liking her because she wasn’t interesting enough for me–despite her intelligence.) I felt it was kind of sad that when I finally could like Duan Yu and Wang Yu Yan as a couple, they (the production team) decided to follow Jin Yong’s third version (aka letting WYY stay by Mu Rong Fu’s side). Well, it made sense with how the story developed because they were more like friends and how he really wanted to help her be together with Mu Rong Fu than just plain wanting to win over Mu Rong Fu. Throughout, they also made Duan Yu think of Mu Wan Qing and worried for MWQ more than just plain obsess over WYY so it wasn’t too much. Then she was always caring for Mu Rong Fu and MRF’s burden of having to restore his kingdom that she couldn’t let go either. So it made sense they weren’t together. However, as I said before, it was too bad when I finally like them yet they couldn’t be together.
  • Han Dong and Mona Wang as a couple. Seriously, so cute! So little time together yet worth it. The production team dramatized it a bit with how he missed her from time to time and how she set up the place in the ice room. And their reunion was quite dramatic as well. Yet I didn’t mind. It was indeed touching and cute. (LOL! Even the prince of Tubo got touched by it. Which he pretended to not care later but still funny.) Then the later parts. Again, so little but cute. Near the ending, it was kind of funny that he was about to utter the Buddhist chant but she grabbed his hand and stopped him, lol. It was like his habit and he couldn’t help it. The fact that they were so cute, I can’t wait to see how their roles would turn out and how their interactions would be for the new Royal Tramp.
  • Zong Feng Yan and Zhang Meng as a couple. What can I say about them? Not sure what other changes were there about them in the third version of the novel. But this one made it so that Mu Rong Fu really cared for her too. It was just that his needing to restore Da Yan went past everything else. I guess that kind of ending for them was suitable. So tragic in a sense because he would never be normal but maybe only in that way could he be happy and care for her. And she also got what she wanted. Even if his mind wasn’t normal anymore. It was easier for me to believe that she continued to follow him despite his past betrayals than her changing her mind so fast to follow Duan Yu. It felt artificial for me. Even if that meant she realized who was the real person caring for her all along. But considering how much she cared for Mu Rong Fu all these years, how could she just let go like that? Heartbroken, yes, but could she just let go? (Even if like I said above that it was too bad for her and Duan Yu, but it was more convincing story-wise if she ended up with Mu Rong Fu.) They seriously didn’t match cast wise though, lol. It was odd to me.
  • Alec Su and Alyssa Chia as a couple. I don’t care for their story, and it couldn’t be any other way. But I was soooo happy to see Alec and Alyssa reuniting again for this production. They dramatized that part so much but hey, it gave a different perspective into the story, lol.
  • Alec Su and Gao Yuan Yuan as a couple. OMG, it was strange how she finally won over Alyssa, lol. Well, technically, Alyssa and Alec’s characters married in here, but she was the one who had his heart. It seemed like their feelings for one another were mutual, with how she had taken a sneak of the wedding scene, etc. Then his stealing looks at her too, etc. Yet it couldn’t be any other way with how he wanted to stop the conflicts between the other two so they couldn’t be together.

Other good things about this production:

  • Music. I can’t say that it was epic or anything. Yet I really liked the background music used. It helped a lot with those dramatic moments.
  • Extended development on some relationships. I think I could feel it more than just the somewhat following the gist of the novel. It was like we know the relationships for those who read the novel or at least watch some past adaptations. Yet this one extended so that we could feel more for those characters and their relationships, not just using some subtle actions or words to make us believe. Like I didn’t even know why I was crying at various points, especially when some key characters died (duh, I know) but I didn’t really think much when watching some past versions, because I know it would happen anyway. (Well, except for a rare few scenes from past adaptations due to some performances that got me crying. But really rare moments.) Like I could feel the Duan family were really family, not just out there on their own, chasing their own ‘girls’ or whatever. Or some elaboration on some much-needed parts.
  • Expansion on the Shaolin Sect gathering scene. This was the part where various sects, clans, etc were gathered to clarify some matters and it was revealed that Xiao Yuan Shan and Mu Rong Bo weren’t dead yet. I seriously welcomed this one. Seriously, it never seemed enough in some past adaptations because of how they rushed it through and expect us to believe. This scene was supposedly the most important because it clarified all misunderstandings and took care of allowing Xiao Yuan Shan and Mu Rong Bo to stop their senseless killings and fighting. It was also the part where Xu Zhu was reunited with his parents (and eventually lost them). There were so many things going on. It made sense to focus on it more. The Sweeper Monk played a major role at this part also. (Like mentioned in his character description.) And this one chose (like some other adaptations) to let Xiao Yuan Shan and Mu Rong Bo really understand to “let go” and become monks for real. TVB’s 1982 version seriously insulted the Sweeper Monk by making it that Mu Rong Bo faked it. Seriously, I always have the feeling the Sweeper Monk was quite enlightened with his Zen talks to Xu Zhu for that version, but he wasn’t able to detect that Mu Rong Bo was faking it? Well, he had a hint of it and helped Xiao Yuan Shan to escape from Mu Rong Bo. Yet that had really insulted the Sweeper Monk’s ability to solve the conflict and convince them to let go, and also insult his skills as well. Seriously? He was that miserable that he couldn’t defeat Mu Rong Bo? So back to this version, the extended scenes throughout the conflicts, fights, and other stuff really highlighted the essence of the plots thus far, especially regarding Xiao Feng and Mu Rong Fu’s sides.

What was the downside? YES, I would be lying if I say there are no complaints.

  • The costumes. OMG, only the Da Li people dressed well. LOL! The rest are like so-so. I know the production team was trying to make each region dress differently or whatever, and I previously said I found it nice that they attended to that detail. But some of the costumes were like really strange and like kind of too much.
  • Mu Rong Fu (慕容復)’s name. Thanks to someone on YouTube for this. In several flashback scenes of Mu Rong Fu and his father, it seemed like the Yan dynasty was still at war with some country YET Mu Rong Fu’s name was already “Fu (復)”? Because it was mentioned later that his name was to remind them to “restore the Yan dynasty”. SO if they haven’t lost it yet, how could his name be “Fu (復)” already?
  • Ah Zhu never seemed wounded/injured enough at major scenes yet others were seen spitting out blood even with minor injuries? Um, this one pointed out by another YouTube member. (Yes, YT users could get carried away at times but I seriously agree this time.) I don’t remember any more about the Shaolin incident with Ah Zhu spitting out blood or not after she was hit with the powerful strikes when she had stolen the manual. But during her death, they tried to make it beautiful BUT forgot all about the blood and all after she had received like several powerful strikes of the Dragon Palms Skills. Yet in a later scene when Duan Zheng Shun went to confront Kang Min, he got slapped by her and spit out blood? Was Duan Zheng Shun that weak? With or without the poison taking effect, I didn’t think he would be that pitiful.

MAD FUNNY: Just to end this review on a positive note, I’m placing in this section.

  • Snowboarding. Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng was seen snowboarding down the mountain at the beginning of the series. SO wacko, but still cool in a sense.
  • The scenes where Duan Yu got into senseless arguments with Feng Bo E and Bao Bu Tong. I don’t know, I found it funnier that Duan Yu was able to defend himself but was witty, not petty. It drove the other two insane but still reserved a sense of comical relief for some of the intensity of the situation.
  • The scenes with Duan Yu and Yue Lao San. OMG, in here, it elaborated more and more on their master and disciple relationship than in the past. I meant in the past, Duan Yu would gladly call Lao San his disciple to get out of sticky situations, etc. TVB’s 1982 version especially made Duan Yu seemed more annoyed with Lao San than amused. After all, Lao San was part of the four evils so it made sense to not be involved with him. But for this version, it made it quite comical that Duan Yu enjoyed torturing Lao San a lot YET didn’t really disregard Lao San after he was finished using Lao San for some means. I liked watching every time how Lao San was questioning if the girls by Duan Yu’s side was his ‘si niang’ (師娘), lol. He especially tried to pull Duan Yu and Wang Yu Yan together, lol. Even if he didn’t succeed but it was too funny with him trying to defend Duan Yu from time to time. Oh yeah, the Shaolin gathering incident gained Lao San even more points for jumping out to fight with Mu Rong Fu, saying that Mu Rong Fu dared to bully his master, lol. And how could I forget the part that he sacrificed himself to defend Duan Yu and Duan Zheng Shun? Tragic all right.
  • Duan Yu’s comedic side in general. YES, I decided to just merge it into one at last. I don’t know, it’s very surprising that I like Duan Yu already and all. But I talk about him more in this version too. Anyway, he seemed to be the comic relief for the majority of this version, which was cool with me. The most hilarious part must be the part with the Shaolin gathering after Xu Zhu and Ye Er Niang already reunited, and Xiao Yuan Shan forced Ye Er Niang to say Xu Zhu’s father’s name out. Though that part was really touching and sad for both mother and son, Duan Yu jumped in to say, “Don’t tell me it’s my dad.” LOL! I cracked up so hard. Yeah, it sure fitted Duan Zheng Shun’s profile all right. Like meeting a beautiful lady, courting her, then left suddenly after a special “get together.” I wouldn’t blame Duan Yu for thinking that. LOL!
  • The scenes leading up to how Xu Zhu finally reunited with Meng Gu. OMG, I was going insane with how the Prince of Tubo was cutting Xu Zhu off when he was just plain nervous and possibly shy to disclose his secret in front of the crowd. (It made sense since he used to be a monk after all so how could he say it out like that?) But then later, I really loved that prince (not really) for his loud mouth. Because when Xu Zhu finally blurted it out the real answer and Duan Yu repeated it in a louder tone so the others could hear, that prince yelled out that Xu Zhu finally replied. LOL! It was just crazy!

So in the end, why am I praising this version up and down? Seriously, I didn’t expect to. So possibly it was because of my not much of an expectation that had allowed me to enjoy it more? Or was it because of the fact that the first version I watched never captured my attention as much? (Though I do admit I like some of the stories and events that managed to make its way into that version.) I finally figured out why. It was because the majority of the characters–regardless of the plot involved–got humanized in this version. I swear, past adaptations made me feel like they were going through the motions of just living the role by interpreting the characters in the novels and play it out–whether they decided to do this or that–or if the scripts call for it or not. It felt like they were just following along, except for some of the cast. I felt this one attended to more of the details regarding different relations and stressed those points more than just, “Okay, these people are related” or “these two would eventually swear to be brothers” and then that was it. I didn’t feel the relationships as strong as how it should be, even if some parts did get extend in past adaptations to dramatize different bonds as well. Well, some parts did get change and they didn’t stay true to it 100%, but some of those adjustments made it better, not exaggerating some points out to the point of excruciatingly painful to watch.

So recommended? Up to you. Since I stated many times before that I operate on my own wavelength. Seriously, I didn’t care to read too many reviews or side discussions from others. It’s actually for my sanity (or whatever it’s left of it), but I did hear my sister say people were complaining about it. It’s actually normal since it happens a lot when new adaptations come out. (And I was also blurting out my own “What” when I saw different stills too so I’m not saying that I’m innocent from those initial criticism.)

One of the pluses though is that Huace loaded it onto their YouTube channel so it’s accessible for the world to see. They’re working on the English subtitles as well so it’s cool. (Click here if you’re interested. And they should provide a link for English subtitles playlist as well, just search around their channel some more.)

Gentle Mercy

Mixed feelings throughout the series but I guess it made sense because of the title and the theme of forgiveness, etc.

Main Cast:

  • Tender Huang (黃騰浩) as Zhao Yu (趙宇). Having liked Tender since watching Xiao Hai Da Ren, I was looking forward to enjoying his performance in this one. His performance didn’t disappoint, but his character sort of confused me at one point in the story. More on that later. I thought he was smart at first. And perhaps he was since he was a gifted person after all with his abilities to brew tea at such a young age and then making the business prosper later on where his father failed. Though I wanted to forgive him when it came to matters relating to the heart but I felt kind of too frustrated at times to sympathize. Or perhaps I was confused and impatient at the same time.
    • Fu Xian Hao (傅顯皓) as the young Zhao Yu (趙宇). Great performance from the young actor. Totally could see the stubbornness still present with both actors as the character grew up, etc. Though I felt the kid was kind of arrogant at first, saying some things that could offend his father. And I was glad he become less arrogant in the later years. I’m sure he didn’t mean it in that way when he said if his father wasn’t around, he could take care of things YET it was a hard blow for the old man.
  • Li Jia Ying (李佳穎) as Hu Xin Er (胡馨兒) aka Li Ya Ting (李雅婷). Seeing Li Jia Ying’s performances over several dramas, I was glad to see her finally being the leading girl. She’s actually one of those leading girls having an acting caliber that rises above that of the second female lead. She was really cute in here yet NOT too overly innocent. She was helpful and supportive but wasn’t so weak like her exterior. Several times, I was surprised at how Xin Er possessed so much strength to let go or let it be in front of others. Yes, she did hide and cry by herself yet it was understandable. She really put up a strong exterior in front of others.
  • Stella Huang (黃湘怡) as Zhao Fei (趙菲). Zhao Yu’s younger sister. Mixed feelings. At times, I find her really cute, then others I found her too innocent. But I was glad there was more character development with her as events unfolded. She learned how to become stronger and move on. Even if she didn’t want to. It wasn’t too unbelievable given the time gap, etc.
    • Xu Ya Qi (許亞琦) as the young Zhao Fei (趙菲). Cute little girl. Though she was in the scenes at times during first three episodes, she didn’t have as much chance to perform like the child star who portrayed her brother. But she was cute enough and made me see the connection between her older version as well.
  • Zhang Ming Ming (張明明) as Fan Li Qun (范立群). I felt that this guy is really good at acting all right. At least he amazed me after watching this since I really hated him while watching Peak Times. He was a true playboy in here and really knew how to lure the girls in. Not to mention his immature behaviors at first. And it was not like I really liked him in here either, but found him funny at first.
    • Chen Bo Nian (陳柏年) as the young Fan Li Qun (范立群). Not much from him except some scenes regarding how he was so spoiled. Consistent with his background and while he was growing up.
  • Yang Zi Shan (楊子珊) as Fan Ai Qun (范愛群). Fan Li Qun’s younger sister. I don’t want to pick on her, but among the main cast, she was the weakest link in the acting department. Her inconsistency made it hard for me to understand what was really going on with the character. There were drops of hints here and there or some concealment to retain mystery in the plot–especially in the later parts. But still not too convincing with some cases. And I didn’t really like her character. NOT because she was Zhao Yu’s love interest since the start, but more like her spoiled nature that made it hard for me to like her. It’s like how I don’t like her brother for the same reason. At times, I want to say it’s okay. But I’m not really that okay with it. I can’t like every single character.
    • Ji Liang Zhu (紀亮竹) as the young Fan Ai Qun (范愛群). I found her really smart at first when she was drinking the tea at that one place and explained each step of brewing tea, etc. That actually carried on when she grew up. However, I didn’t like her spoiled brat nature either.
  • Xie Wen Xuan (謝聞軒) as He Si Si (何思思). Zhao Yu and Zhao Fei’s cousin. I think she was the reason that reminded me how strong people on the surface weren’t really strong. I’m not saying I blame her since everything happened so fast with the other incident and she had the right to fight for her happiness, etc. Not to mention her situation hit a bit too close to home with how her mother was a single mother as well and how she remembered the events of growing up, relying on herself mostly. I really liked her at first and found her hilarious, but was more turned off of the other dramatic events later on. I did state already that I do understand the conflicts in her heart and don’t blame her for making different decisions, but I just felt too bad for Zhao Fei in some situations. At least she had Li Qun’s mother’s backing (and her own mother’s backing in the later parts).
    • Wang Jia Xuan (王佳萱) as the young He Si Si (何思思). Feisty and that consistency carry on to her later years. At least until the “real” dramas finally started.

Supporting Cast:

  • Long Shao Hua (龍劭華) as Fan Yong Kang (范永康). Li Qun and Ai Qun’s father. I hated the character but felt like the actor was good with his performance. He used everyone he could to get what he wanted. Though I wasn’t convinced with Zhao Yu and Ai Qun’s chemistry, I felt he have a major role in ruining them. How could he do that to his own daughter? He was totally using his health situation and her filial toward him to force her into helping him that one time.
  • Xu Gui Ying (徐貴櫻) as Lin Yan Ni (林燕妮). Fan Yong Kang’s wife, Li Qun and Ai Qun’s mother. I hated the woman. I didn’t care if she was the wife and had better calls than her husband in the whole business situation. She really made Zhao Fei’s life a living hell at one point. And though He Si Si’s mother brought it onto herself for acting so desperate while at the Fan resident, I still didn’t like her attitude.
  • Ann Lee (李淑楨) as Tang Mei Lin (唐美林). Zhao Yu and Zhao Fei’s mother. I had a feeling she was the weakest link at first. But it was just the exterior since she was much braver and stronger than her husband in many ways. YES, she did break down at first when she heard the news of his passing (but it was normal). Later on, she was confused as to what she should be doing and almost sold the farm. But she learned to become stronger and tougher over the years, protecting her children throughout the years. I was so scared that she would die in the later parts of the drama since the scenes spotted in the theme videos made it suspicious that someone was going to get sacrificed. I was glad she lived up ’til then to see Zhao Yu and Xin Er finally ending up together, etc.
  • Wang Zhong Ping (王中平) as Zhao Fu Xiang (趙富祥) aka Hu Ke Qin (胡克勤). Zhao Yu and Zhao Fei’s father. The most hated man in this drama for me. A total coward, not daring to face any consequences. Not capable of protecting his family yet he would get all mad or pull the ‘ego’ card when his wife was pointing out some ‘true’ issues. I thought his character would change to ‘bravery’ after being with Cai Chun OR something, but he was still a coward, hiding behind her with situations. But I must say Wang Zhong Ping was really good in the role. He was totally convincing that he made me loathe his character so much throughout, even if his wife had already forgiven him near the end.
  • Josie Leung (梁家榕) as Tang Mei Jing (唐美晶). He Si Si’s mother. Mixed feelings. I liked it that she was really caring toward her sister and wanted to take her sister out on shopping trips, etc. Yet I didn’t like how she couldn’t see it when others do not want her around, etc. Sure, she wanted what was best for her daughter, etc but don’t have to act so desperate in front of the Fan family, etc.
  • Hu An An (胡安安) as Hu Cai Chun (胡彩春). At first, I really liked her for her snappy comments toward her boss and her step-father. Later on, it was just plain mixed feelings. I understood that she had her weak moments and in the later years, like she said, she didn’t have what it took anymore if Ke Qin were to leave her. Yet I felt she was too weak when she gave in and spent the night with him that one time years ago, knowing he was married. (As I already blamed him and bashed him to no end in his section, I felt it was only right to point out what she did also.)
  • Michael Huang (黃仲崑) as Li Tong (李桐). I found him really cool and funny at first. Then later, I really respected him for what he did. Though he led a gang life in the past, that didn’t stop or discourage him from starting his new life later on. He had hope with the search for his daughter, but there were situations that I felt he was the bravest among the male population in here.
  • Deng An Ning (鄧安寧) as Lin Gu Wen (林顧問). When I realized he was the director of Angel Lover, it made me wanted to laugh since Tender Huang and Li Jia Ying were also in there (but in different stories). It felt strange that he was guest-starring for such a role. Yet it was cool that he was game for it.

Couples:

  • Tender Huang and Li Jia Ying as Zhao Yu and Hu Xin Er. They were really cute together though their characters were ten years apart. It felt off at first but I was glad the scriptwriters went along with it. But like most leading couples, they spent so less time together as a couple that made me want more screen time for them. YES, they spent a lot of time together at the tea farm before that and up until they finally became a couple. But I still felt like it was too little after they were a couple. Sometimes I felt like they got together too late and it wouldn’t work, especially how the foundation for how Zhao Yu liking Xin Er was off, but I guess anything could happen with time. It was not impossible but I felt like it was strange how he just let go of Ai Qun like that. There wasn’t anything he could do anyway and time had made him realized the person right by his side all along was the one. If both collaborate again in the future, I want to see them dating from the start, LOL!
  • Tender Huang and Yang Zi Shan as Zhao Yu and Fan Ai Qun. They didn’t lack in chemistry since their background implied that they belonged together. Yet I felt mad confused at the beginning and then again in the later parts. Why? It was obvious in hinting their beginning when Zhao Yu picked up her hair clip and it seemed like he was into her, etc when they were finally growing up. But what made me mad confused regarding him was how he was guiding Ai Qun that one time and actually have a hand around her shoulders BUT when he spotted Xin Er nearby, he withdrew his hand right away! It was like he didn’t want Xin Er to catch them and misunderstand or anything. I meant Ai Qun didn’t mind and he liked her, right? So why was he acting like he was up to no good? AND it wasn’t like he was taking advantage of Ai Qun, he was really helping her maintain her balance. Then what got me even more confused about her was it seemed she liked him all along but just wanted to go out and explore the world, etc. I swore I thought she made up the boyfriend part at first to see how his reaction was. Then how jealous she was with Xin Er made me felt like she liked him. Then I moved onto to thinking like possibly because she wanted to be spoiled by him after having broken up with her boyfriend. It made sense. Yet her expressions said more than that. So when they got together and separated, it felt too weird to me. I don’t doubt that he liked her but I wasn’t totally convinced with their chemistry character-wise. Even if the scriptwriters had established so much history for them to the point that I didn’t believe that he could forget her so fast, but it just made it tenfold more confusing for me.
  • Zhang Ming Ming and Stella Huang as Fan Li Qun and Zhao Fei. They were so cute together yet I was really disturbed how he was still such a player after being with her. It was possibly because he had to go through stuff and pay for it before he could mature? But it was such a shame this pairing didn’t work out. It was so cute that he kept teasing her and she would take it seriously, etc. I enjoyed their fun moments a lot. She made him a better person in a way because he could soften up and not be so mean at times. He seemed more caring toward others as well, but not totally. In the end, the only thing good out of it was both learned to mature and be independent.
  • Zhang Ming Ming and Xie Wen Xuan as Fan Li Qun and He Si Si. I felt their chemistry when they were bickering at the beginning. But I was hoping for a better get together for them than the whole ‘mistake’ before they actually fall in love and cherish one another. OR the intention of the scriptwriter was to make it different from other dramas? (Like how other dramas would just make it like they would fall in love later on and he would have to break up with Zhao Fei, stating the typical sorry, etc.) I was really frustrated by how his mother kept intervening and making it worse for them both. I swear they would’ve eventually got together if she didn’t make it so hostile for all parties.
  • Wang Zhong Ping and Ann Lee as Zhao Fu Xiang and Tang Mei Lin. Like I said earlier, I thought she was the weak link in the relationship. Yet I was wrong. When problems appeared, he just wanted to escape by committing suicide and let his family deal with the rest. When that didn’t work, he sought out other ways BUT when others cast doubt on the plans, he just went all ballistic on it. Like how she asked him questions regarding that one deal and he just acted like she kept treating him like some useless dude. How could they maintain a proper discussion when he kept wanting to win? I felt bad for him initially when I wasn’t watching much yet when she kept nagging him but as more and more details unfolded, I felt like he was too much an idiot to empathize. And perhaps they were so wrong for one another as well because they can’t seem to reach an agreement at times.
  • Wang Zhong Ping and Hu An An as Hu Ke Qin and Hu Cai Chun. I don’t know what to say about them, except maybe they fit more, etc. Again, he was still the weak one in the relationship. It was too late to change anything in the end except to let them stay together.
  • Michael Huang and Ann Lee as Li Tong and Tang Mei Lin. Impossible but it was a shame. I liked it that finally, she could depend on someone like him. Yet, of course, they can’t become an old couple, caring toward one another anymore. At least they were still friends and future-in-laws.

Triangles: I said numerous times in the past already that I hate triangles but I guess it’s hard to ignore in this case.

  • Li Jia Ying – Tender Huang – Yang Zi Shan. Because of the confusion I mentioned above, I felt that this triangle was kind of loose. Perhaps that was why I didn’t care as much. Though I was indeed very impatient as to when Zhao Yu and Xin Er would get together, it was relevant to have him resolve past conflicts and have a chance with Ai Qun first. They were indeed from two different worlds. It wasn’t about being ‘rich, poor’ either. But it was more like their mentality didn’t allow them to be together. Her past baggage with her boyfriend made matters even worse. It was hard to blame her but it indeed proved she wasn’t ready for a new start. The most ironic thing was when she finally learned to cherish Zhao Yu, he had moved on. Unbelievable, but I guess after he cooled down, he realized what he wanted was by his side all along. The time gap still didn’t stick for me, but I felt because Tender and Jia Ying have so much chemistry that helped the cause even more. And I must credit Zhao Yu for not going back to Ai Qun after he and Xin Er were under the impression that they were siblings. NOT that there’s anything wrong with that since he has every right to since Xin Er was his sister, etc. But I felt it was just strange if he knew it didn’t work out with Ai Qun but return to her. It would even undo the foundation of how he and Ai Qun already got why they should be friends only. (Though she didn’t think so and was still hopeful.) They already made his father a wishy-washy character throughout so having him becoming exactly like his father wouldn’t help the case either, right?
  • Stella Huang – Zhang Ming Ming – Xie Wen Xuan. I have mixed feelings with which couple I should ship for at first and still seeing some hilarious scenes in the theme video. But I didn’t like how things unfolded later. Probably because it was too cruel for all parties. Yet what I hated more (as mentioned earlier) was his mother for making things worse and worse. Even if he was a player and needed some lessons before actually maturing and taking some responsibilities for his actions. But that was too cruel. And though I was pretty sure that the mother had told her friend to find any means possible to pull Li Qun and Si Si together, I want to blame them for getting drunk themselves. Sure, they have to be polite to that one lady when she offered, etc. But drinking to that point? They should know better. I usually make my bet on Zhao Fei being naive and NOT being able to turn people down (after witnessing her being bullied by his mother and having to take it all), but Li Qun and Si Si? Perhaps it was better that Li Qun and Zhao Fei didn’t end up together since she wouldn’t be able to survive within the household. Maybe one day the mother would see the good in Zhao Fei but she was too much of a doormat during the beginning. I liked her independent attitude in the later parts better. She will probably meet someone one day that will appreciate her for her kindheartedness. Whoever said that “You’re marrying him, not his family” couldn’t be more wrong than this. Not to mention naive. Because seriously, if you can’t get past family approvals, it won’t work no matter what. (Even if it works but there are still conflicts within the family. It doesn’t mean I’m discouraging others from fighting for their happiness since I have no right and I’m just tying that phrase in with the current drama being discussed here.)
  • Ann Lee – Wang Zhong Ping – Hu An An. Already said he was a coward in both relationships. And I thought the ending made sense–even if they both got off so easily. Because honestly, what else could Mei Lin do? It had been soooo long already. She should just let go and live her own life instead of torturing herself with it.

Interesting Factors:

  • Most of the main cast have younger counterparts, except for Xin Er. It was essential that they left Xin Er’s identity a mystery until near the end. There were hints throughout yet there was still no definite answer. I felt it was interesting that they let the story flowed so that there were about 3 episodes with the kids until they zoomed toward the later years. Made it somewhat more refreshing than just having flashbacks about their childhood in a way.
  • The main couple suffered from the cliche of being possible siblings. When I realized what was going on with the plot, I quickly thought of Momo Love since Li Jia Ying was also in there. Yet I liked how it was being handled here better. Instead of hugging each other and crying (which Zhao Yu tried to comfort Xin Er at one point) and do other senseless stuff to fuel their emotions even more, they separated and tried to move on. The part where Xin Er pushed Zhao Yu away and yelled for him to go away made it tenfold sadder and touching than just hugging each other for me. It made it more convincing with the earth-shattering news reaching them that they could be siblings and NOT wanting to touch anymore. It was like they were in the dark about it, so why make it super soapy with them hugging, etc? It wasn’t until she was in the clear about their actual relations that she finally hugged him and didn’t want to let go. (Though he tried to brush her off–since he was already calm by that time and didn’t want to stir any feelings up, he let her be when she told him she only needed a little more time since she really missed him.) Their reunion was equally cute and worthwhile. It was interesting how the situations reversed during the ‘heartbreaking’ moment and then the ‘clearing up of events’. Like how I just said with him wanting to comfort her yet she didn’t want him to touch her at that time (or she wouldn’t be able to let go), then how he was much calmer when she came to visit him near the end and told her not to do that, etc.

Recommended or not? Depends. There were very frustrating moments but also worthwhile moments as well. Because the theme was about forgiveness and all, it was essential for some of the twists to occur. Yet it didn’t make it more enduring at times. I enjoyed it and felt it was one of the better ones out there. Maybe the acting of the majority of the cast had helped the cause. Since it wasn’t like super special with the theme, but it was refreshing in a sense with some of the differences. And because it didn’t have the feeling of a typical ‘fairy tale’ drama so that was why I was pulled in. These were real issues in life that people might have faced.

*Image was captured by DTLCT

Peak Times

I wasn’t thinking of watching this since I’ve been quite lazy watching dramas lately. But it was more like wanting to check it out because of curiosity. Then it pulled me in. Mostly because of the suspense. I must admit it was pretty good overall though. The ending sort of killed it BUT I guess it wasn’t that bad. More on that later. Oh yeah, note that the first 3 episodes were just there to introduce Hao Tian’s character and a bit on his background before launching into the meatier parts of the drama. YES, because the next 17 episodes have to do mostly with family conflicts and other business rivalry stuff that was totally unrelated to the introduction scenes. I finished this drama within several days and several months back already (though was still doing the review slowly).

Main Cast:

  • Eric Huang as Ke Hao Tian (柯浩天) and Yang Nian He (楊念和).  Twins role. I think most actors/actresses go through the phase where they have to portray some sort of twins role or look-alike to prove themselves regarding acting skills and whatnot. This was probably Eric’s chance. OR wanting to accept the challenge. Successful actually and thanks to the scriptwriters also that I found this pair of twins the most realistic that I’ve seen so far–as far as HK or TW dramas go for me. I meant twins are similar for the most part, right? And this pair of twins was just that. YES, due to the environment they were raised in, they had their differences at times and needed to seek some sort of comfort level YET shedding off all the professionalism from Hao Tian, they were so similar and could be considered as ‘double-trouble’–to its true meaning.
    • Ke Hao Tian (柯浩天). The first 3 episodes said it all that he was a daredevil. Yet his responsible side was due to the fact that he had to lead the family business. So it made sense that he wasn’t as sunshine as Nian He at times. There was this dark side to him and somewhat of an impatient to Nai Xin’s tantrums. I liked him A LOT as well until the whole Yu Ting incident. YES, I do get it that he was feeling guilty but I think he could’ve handled the situation a bit better, considering how intelligent he was at times. BUT I guess regarding personal matters, it sort of blinded him? I don’t know. But to think that he was quite fierce with Nai Xin during the first 3 episodes too, not wanting to give in to her tantrums at times made him so cold YET defined his personality. OR was it just different from the other situation than this one? (DUH, I know.) Then there was this gentle side of him when he was taking Xuan Xuan under his wing to protect her from harm, etc–and his continued patient with her. Then there was also this righteous side of him, trying to stop Fang Fang from harming Xuan Xuan and Stacia, though he was late for some incidents yet didn’t stop trying. And his braveness was seen numerous times throughout, especially the scene at the bridge with trying to rescue Nai Xin (or die trying).
    • Yang Nian He (楊念和). More happy-go-lucky but wasn’t a doormat OR a dummy either. Though portrayed by Eric as well, I liked Nian He a bit more. Okay, maybe A LOT more. Not just because he seemed to appear more because of the takeover after episode 3 or so. But because he was more persistent in what he believed in and wasn’t easily persuaded by others. Even when he was posing as Hao Tian, his firmness was still running strong, making it so different than when seeing Eric portray Hao Tian. It was like noticeable that he was Nian He without a doubt (at least to viewers). His smart-aleck behaviors at times made it priceless–and lovable. Though he lacked experience in the family business but made up in the intelligence area. AND I think it was seriously just awesome that Eric could differentiate the feelings or at least projected the feelings during the whole obstacles when he had to deal with Ying Ying and Ruo Qing when he was Nian He (and posing as Hao Tian) versus how he approached the Ruo Qing and Yu Ting matters. Back to Nian He, he didn’t lack in bravery either because he risked his life that one time at the oceanside trying to save that one guy–and there were other times.
    • Ways to differentiate between Hao Tian and Nian He:
      • Attires. It didn’t count when Nian He was still posing as Hao Tian. But when they did appear together, it was easy to see that Nian He dressed simpler. Though Nian He was in a suit too, his style was more tone down than that of Hao Tian.
      • Personal Space. Notice the personal space between him and Ying Ying versus Ruo Qing. Unless the place didn’t allow for too much personal space, other times, it was easier to notice. Not to mention how Eric was able to show his feelings/concerns for one party or the other while portraying Hao Tian or Nian He. When portraying Nian He posing as Hao Tian parts, he was really uncomfortable around Ruo Qing and was really protective of Ying Ying. That one misunderstanding with thinking Ruo Qing must have tried to frame Ying Ying leading to firing her (Ying Ying) really showed it that Nian He was out to protect Ying Ying, even forgetting that he needed to act reasonably and be patient with Ruo Qing (because he, Nian He, was posing as Hao Tian). Also, the part where Ruo Qing almost jump from her hotel room showed that the other person talking to Ruo Qing was really Hao Tian (even without the flashbacks later on to explain the switch) because it was too obvious that Nian He couldn’t say all those words, trying to prove his love regardless of how hard he tried. (Well, he did try to be romantic and all during the proposal with the fireworks–with Ying Ying and Nai Xin’s help BUT that had taken a lot of effort.) Then there was also the part where Hao Tian was trying to protect Ruo Qing from Yu Ting’s attack in Ruo Qing’s office that one time, leading to him firing Yu Ting in the end. And how could anyone forget their interactions with Ding Bang? Nian He was so polite and was trying to pass by, even if he was more familiar with Ding Bang later on. Yet as Hao Tian, he was comfortable and looked like he was the other guy’s buddy, no awkwardness whatsoever. That was the same when their interactions were toward Da Chang, it was obvious who was the buddy, etc.
      • The Eyes SAID it all. I’m so serious here. Watch his eyes when he was looking at Ruo Qing or Ying Ying. Or when he was interacting with the others. It was just different.
      • Mischievous Level. Can’t blame Hao Tian too much since he was raised to act proper and professional at work. But it was a cue to distinguish between the two since Nian He was more laid-back and funnier at times. At home, they were about the same. OF COURSE, since it was off work and all. Oh yeah, Nian He was really boyish at times that it was really cute versus Hao Tian’s joking style was just different.
      • Tolerance Level toward Nai Xin. It was there. Though they both cared very much for Nai Xin throughout, Nian He was closer to Nai Xin than Hao Tian. Hao Tian seemed to be on the tolerance level with Nai Xin during the first three episodes. Though with the rescue scene at the bridge, we could tell why Nai Xin really stick to Hao Tian and really trust him, but he seemed to keep a safe distance from her otherwise. Nian He, though kept getting freaked out by her at first–because of some weird encounters, but soon really learned to get along with her and end up being even closer to her than Hao Tian. Maybe it was the way they were raised. The more obvious sign was during the scene where Ruo Qing told Hao Tian to go talk to Nai Xin when she (Nai Xin) came home all upset (because she had overheard stuff about her mother and the trouble her mother got into again), but Hao Tian was like saying, “Me?” Ruo Qing reminded him he was really close to Nai Xin and all, so he went upstairs and talked to Nai Xin. There was no doubt that they both really cared for Nai Xin as their cute little cousin, but it seemed like it was in Nian He’s nature to just go without being asked. Oh yeah, how could I forget that Nai Xin even said it herself that one time with how Hao Tian would always act all ‘cool’ in front of her even if they know each other for so long yet Nian He cared for her so much even though they just know each other in episode 8?
      • Experienced/Inexperienced. I got this one from episode 14’s business meeting. The way Nian He was kind of laid-back and uncertain about their new business plan (aka if he was able to help) versus Hao Tian’s confidence look distinguished their characters and how Eric had acted it out so convincingly. Hao Tian’s leadership capabilities and his confidence vibe could be seen not only from his attires but from his expressions and even the way he sat. Though after Hao Tian reassured Nian He that each of them would divide all the functions up among themselves, decreasing the workload and allowing their own areas of expertise to come into play, Nian He’s worried look was still present. Another way of looking at it was how they reacted differently in their own comfort zone or outside of it.
      • Hygiene, courtesy, and whatnot. Okay, I’m so not talking about how many showers they should take a day. I’m talking about the scene where Nian He and Da Chang were eating lunch (?) and Da Chang said that he had some information for Nian He so Nian He just wiped his hands on his pants before grabbing the files to read. WHAT?! LOL! Not in a million years would you see Hao Tian do that–regardless of at home or at work. And of course they were gentlemen so they would know how to act polite and proper at times, but it was just different. Repetitive, but it was just like how Eric and the rest of the production team must have thought of those tiny, subtle gestures to establish the twins’ personalities and habits because of the different environment they were brought up in.
  • Margaret Wang as Qiu Ying Ying (邱盈盈). Cute, kind, gentle, and understanding. YES, the typical girlfriend formula. Yet I didn’t find her boring at all. Perhaps it was because of her bravery and intelligence. Though possessing the typical personalities but it didn’t mean she didn’t have her stubborn moments because she DID get so mad at Nian He at times that it could be scary (to be him, lol). It made her character more interesting and real (aka not so one-dimensional). And since I’m talking about her somewhat scary side, I think it made me like her even more since she seemed to possess the ‘nagging’ girlfriend element with trying to get Nian He to get out of the situation (with posing as Hao Tian) in the beginning, mostly because she didn’t want him to get involved in their conflicts thus getting hurt as well, and also because who would want to see their boyfriend so close to some girl anyway, right? It made her real to not be sooooo freaking understanding that made it fake. BUT the plot allowed her to enter the Ke household to actually understand the situation and even putting in more emotions (i.e. sympathizing with the Ke family) before making the decision of supporting Nian He in being part of the conspiracy with helping them secure the position with the Bai family. It definitely sucked to be on the Bai’s side of being deceived (ESPECIALLY when no one in their right mind would want to be deceived), but it somehow made Ying Ying a braver person for being able to let go just like that. I meant she didn’t let go completely either because she agreed to help him with talking to his mother in letting him stay and help BUT thought they would eventually find a way to back out of it altogether, i.e. clarifying stuff with Ruo Qing. YET things were moving too fast and it seemed hopeless that Nian He could edge out. The most heartbreaking part was their last meeting when she finally told him to go ahead with the plan since she was willing to back down, seeing the seriousness of the situation pushing down on the Ke household. And to think she even went along with helping him further to secure his place during the proposal? Other characters would have left after giving her significant other the go on the plan (and couldn’t be blamed since it was too much to take after all), but Ying Ying had stayed and supported him even more, helping whenever she could. It was already so hard to give up on her chance of happiness, but to stick around seeing the upcoming events unfold? Took a lot of courage all right. Oh yeah, the other side of Ying Ying was how she was gentle as a nurse with much compassion and gentleness (of course) but she wasn’t just so off-work as well. Her character was still kind and nice, but she also had her wild side when allowed, and the little scenes where she was laughing with the others or pulling jokes as well. Those cute moments weren’t overdone either. But it actually defined her personality and showed us that she was just like each and every one of us, someone who reacted differently in different situations.
  • Cecilia Han Xue as Bai Ruo Qing (白若情). Mixed feelings. I found her character too dangerous at times. YES, I do understand she was driven to insanity at times and it was how she coped OR tried to cope at times. All of us have different ways to deal with pain. Yet I found it too dangerous with her ways and she was so easily driven to suicide. Her type of depression was seriously too nerve-racking. I guess it was the other side of her intelligent and calm nature when dealing with problems. YET when doubts were cast, she went all out. I found it scary, that was all. NOT that I don’t like her or don’t sympathize with her. I did pity her at times for her confusion throughout the first half of the drama, trying to figure out what was really going on with her life and Hao Tian. YET if looked at a different way, she could be one of those scheming, manipulative wife in the becoming IF she didn’t seek help in time. I’m so serious since she was sooo patient and calm each time she found out that Hao Tian might be cheating on her. (At least she tried to put up a front–before breaking down later on her own.) Other times, I find her somewhat similar to a porcelain doll. (I’m NOT talking about Cecilia, but the character so don’t misunderstand.) Perhaps it was because she was too fragile, not being able to handle problems at times. AGAIN, I don’t blame her since those emotional turmoils she went through were quite traumatizing but those little catalysts made it too nerve-racking to watch her at times, wondering when she would break down again. Acting? I guess Cecilia was convincing enough in portraying her character. NOT my favorite character of her but she pulled through with the role.
  • Viola Fang Yan Xin (方妍心) / Fang Shu Zhen (方數真) as Zhang Nai Xin (張乃馨). At first, I didn’t think much of her because I thought she was going to be the blind cousin throughout the drama. Yet that changed because her character was much more flowery than that. I must really compliment the actress for being so convincing. (AND also the directors and scriptwriters for giving her story more than just the initial parts.) She was actually quite intelligent than just the instincts she had while she was blind. Her attentiveness to details was really incredible, especially during the incident with Mr. Wan trying to find his ring. Then there was the courage she possessed, not backing down unless it was that traumatizing event linking to her step-father. That one scene at the bridge where Fang Fang had kidnapped her and tied her up, trying to lure Hao Tian out was really incredible and so touching. I’m not sure how to put it, call it that she couldn’t see anyway so she wasn’t afraid OR because she couldn’t see the unknown (aka falling down toward the water), but her persistence in begging Hao Tian to leave and not care for her was really brave. I’m so serious. It was so unexpected because most characters being captured would call out for help (AND I seriously don’t blame them since who wouldn’t be scared and who wouldn’t want to live–even the slightest chance?) YET Nai Xin didn’t. She had begged him to leave over and over again.
  • Chen Sha Li as Wang Yin Li (王銀麗). I remember the days of watching old TW soaps and seeing her in fierce roles. This one was semi-fierce since she had to be tough to keep everything intact within the household but she was so vulnerable as well (because of her age, obviously). She was quite intelligent for the most part, except for that one incident that had led to misunderstanding her daughter-in-law years ago. There goes the pattern with people’s blind spot when it came to personal matters. (But I don’t mind since everyone has to have some weakness or it would be too fake.)
  • Wang Dao as Ke Yao He (柯耀和).  What could I say about him except that he was convincing with appearing to be quite weak at first but became a stronger character later because the dramatic obstacle of his life got resolved already?
    • Xu Deng Ke (徐登科) as the young Yao He. For some reason, I couldn’t see the link. I meant sometimes you could see the similarities of the younger version and older version? I guess his somewhat intimidating appearance at first cast some doubt and lured us in because he was portrayed as somewhat arrogant with Bai Zong Yuan’s version of the story? Perhaps.
  • Wang Zhong Huang as Jian Shi Xin (簡士信). Despicable character but I guess someone had to do it. He was intimidating and suspicious at first all right. Yet when the dark curtain lifted and he was all out on the ‘evil’ deeds, it was even more frustrating. Of course, the plot had to plan for us to hate him. He was one of the reasons why I found it hard to accept some part of the ending (aka letting the others forgave that crazy old woman aka his mother). I meant she molded him into that type of person, right? And he harmed practically every member of the Ke family, including the attempted assault on Nai Xin so it was hard to just say ‘forget it’. Come on now, even if his mother was sworn sisters with Wang Yin Li.
  • Jing Ming Hua as Bai Zong Yuan (白宗源).The typical, cliche brother who thought that he should have inherited the fortune OR other stuff, etc. YUP, the typical jealous dude who thought the world owed him. But if the families didn’t have issues of their own, they wouldn’t fall for his tricks, eh? Well, his family wouldn’t have guessed it was him and I wouldn’t blame them. Especially how Mr. and Mrs. Bai (Ruo Qing’s parents) were quite sharp regarding him so they could be forgiven. But the other side? (I only give Nian He credit, LOL!) Anyway, we could say that Bai Zong Yuan was responsible for 50% of the misunderstandings in here. Honestly, he was that good and people still fell for it. Got to give the guy credit. His ending was shocking (since I wouldn’t guess that they would go all the way, considering how dramas nowadays love the ‘forgive’ theme) because how he accidentally killed his daughter in his haste to seek revenge. She didn’t deserve to die but he was the one responsible because he wouldn’t stop all his killing until he could ‘win’ back what was supposed to be ‘his’. AND we once again witness how scary it could be when ‘jealousy’ gets in the way.
    • Wang Rui Jian (王瑞劍) as the young Bai Zong Yuan. For some reason, okay–I got influenced because of Bai Zong Yuan’s story-telling, but the younger version of him looked more sincere? I don’t know. Perhaps that was the benefit of him telling the story at first so it made everything kind of vague, making us wanting to hold our judgment since we needed the other side’s words. Considering how Wang Yin Li could be so fierce at times, it was possible she was responsible for some of the stuff in the past, etc. But I guess Wang Rui Jian sure made it convincing with looking like a victim to mislead at first. (OR was that supposed to be his own version? He was the victim, etc.)

Other Major Cast/ Characters:

  • Zhou Shao Dong as Lao Ma (老馬). Ke family’s trusty servant. Sometimes, I wonder if he had a hidden agenda somewhere. Maybe it was paranoia on my part since I found it too good to be true that he was just one of those loyal servants. OR also having to do with finding out that Ding Bang wasn’t that ‘good’ like he let on. Yet it was interesting to see how his character was somewhat put in the dark until almost the end. I meant like I said already, he was loyal BUT sometimes, it seemed like he was up to something so that was sort of good to be kept in the dark until almost the end when we could see he was relaxing and joking along with the others as well.
  • Tang Jun Xi as Zhou Ding Bang (周定邦). Hao Tian’s supposedly good brother. A jealous idiot who got persuaded by Jian Shi Xin to join him in the whole conspiracy. I do understand that he felt so inferior alongside Hao Tian and only wanted his mother’s attention BUT he went WAY over with all the things he did. OR had all that jealousy blinded his vision? SO he realized Hao Tian was genuine when Hao Tian called the lawyer in to help him, but it seemed a bit rushed? OR it was like he said, he didn’t want to be locked up forever. And Hao Tian’s offer was too good to pass, right?
  • Ding Guo Lin as Ke Xiao Jing (柯曉菁). Another character who was trying to prove a thing or two in here. She was, of course, eventually used by Jian Shi Xian against the others–as well. Like she wasn’t used since the beginning with the marriage so Jian Shi Jian could enter the Ke family, but it was more obvious later on. AND she couldn’t totally be blamed since she really wanted to be acknowledged by her mother. Yet it seemed so OVER when she knew that she was being used BUT kept going? Well, always good to see her turn back later–and it took her daughter’s incident (with the fabricated story published in the gossip magazines) for her to muster some courage, but that seemed a bit too easy? I guess better than nothing since it would be too hard on Nai Xin if her mother didn’t turn around.
  • Gino as Zhang Zi Wen (張子文). Perhaps, because of his mother’s constant complaints about their grandma being partial to the uncle and eventually the uncle’s son so it influenced his mind. He wasn’t a bad person overall, but I guess he could be called as easily persuaded by others. And possibly somewhat of a player? Or more like love roaming around than taking things serious about their family business hence not really trusted with important matters.
  • Wang Jing as Bai Jia Wen (白嘉雯). I really, really hated her at the beginning since she kept playing those childish, bullying games. Not that I ended up liking her later since I tried to tune her out at other times, just focusing on the major plot for the most part. Yet I sort of pitied her later on. Though she was the jealous type, wanting to prove herself and seeking attention from Luo Bing Xian, but I must admire her stubbornness. I meant she wasn’t easily persuaded to fall for Zi Wen. Though that might or might not be better for her to just move on, she was persistent in what she did. Regardless of all the silly schemes she pulled throughout, I didn’t think she deserved death to pay for what she did. She was just another victim of her father’s blind hate. YET was that to punish her father?
  • Zhang Ming Ming as Luo Bing Xian (羅秉憲). I was really annoyed with him at the beginning. NOT because I was rooting for Hao Tian and Ruo Qing, but more like I hated his advances on Ruo Qing. He was trying to prove his love for her BUT realistically, it’s very scary in real life to encounter such traumatizing incidents. Yet I think I had to reconsider his character in the later parts. And that wasn’t because he ended up helping Ruo Qing near the end with the information, but more like he moved into the mixed feelings area along with the other characters. It was like he was too blind with his love to see that his method wasn’t proper toward Ruo Qing.
  • Huang Mei Ying (黃梅瑩) as Yang Qiu Yan (楊秋燕). Hao Tian and Nian He’s mother. I liked it that she was so hardworking and still have the little stall by the seaside. OKAY, so it was necessary that she worked and chipped in with the finances. It later became the key part where Yao He discovered her whereabouts again and had the confrontation, etc also. But I thought she didn’t have to really work, considering how Nian He was capable (even if he was trying to make ends meet at first). But it showed her down-to-earth nature with always wanting to stay active, even when she found out Nian He was already pretty well on his way within the Ke household. It proved that she wasn’t just in for the money, etc. (It proved that before with how she wanted Nian He to get out of the Ke family because of the past misunderstandings and she worried for Nian He’s safety. But what I found memorable was the actual scenes afterward with keeping it consistent that she still worked hard to earn money, etc.)
    • Li Ming Zhu (李明珠) as the young Qiu Yan. She looked so cute. No wonder the two guys were fighting over her. Well, Yao He wasn’t fighting BUT it was just Bai Zong Yuan’s one-sided love. YET I could see why she received attention from both.
  • Liu Zheng (劉政) as Ge Da Chang (葛大昌). Nian He’s good brother and somewhat of his side-kick (LOL). At first, I kept a look out for him too. I was too scared that he might turn, just like how Ding Bang did with some temptation. But he was loyal to Nian He, even to the end. Or there was the other side with the possibility of him blowing Nian He’s cover when they were around town and during that one time at the car shop. YET he even covered for Nian He (even if he wasn’t sure if he’d agreed with Nian He’s method).
  • Yuan Xiao Xu (袁曉旭) as Tao Qian Hui (陶芊慧). I seriously thought she was just there to be Da Chang’s girlfriend, and also Ying Ying and Ruo Qing’s good friend. When she framed Ying Ying and all, I was wondering what happened–since she didn’t seem to be the type to give in to pressure OR wanting a higher position hence targeting Ying Ying. YET I didn’t rule out the possibility that most characters in here were already weird/mysterious/having hidden agenda, SO I watched on seeing what would happen. After that little conflict was resolved, I knew her grandma knew something when she reacted strangely upon them mentioning some words, BUT didn’t realize the grandma was actually the mastermind AND Qian Hui played a major role in the conspiracy/revenge scheme. Okay, SO she didn’t want to harm anyone, but she still helped her grandma with delivering the pin at the beginning and then doing other things later. It appeared she was just a tool used to aid in the whole revenge plot (since she was NOT Yin Xin Yu’s grand-daughter). BUT possibly because of her guilt and having interacted with the others for a while, she helped them to stop her grandma in the end–and delaying the worst until help arrived. AND since they forgave Yin Xin Yu, her little aids here and there could be forgiven as well?
  • Cong Zhong Xiao (叢中笑) as Yin Xin Yu (陰心瑜). Jian Shi Xin’s mother, Qian Hui’s grandma. The mastermind behind all those schemes and conspiracy since the end of episode 3 and onward. Well, at least for the whole revenge plot on Jian Shi Xin’s side. I can’t even sympathize with her though learning of what happened and her hardship afterward. I’m serious. I meant it seemed she and Wang Yin Li either have such fake friendships that they couldn’t trust one another enough OR she was really paranoid. Because honestly, it was ridiculous so much happened before someone took it up to clarify matters. Or was that because she had to let her anger out before listening to anyone? Well, I do understand she had suffered a lot hence it was fusing her hate. YET it was too extreme if she hadn’t trust Wang Yin Li at all. How hard was it to just go and ask? Or she was afraid she would be off (aka getting killed off) as well if she just approached Wang Yin Li?

Supporting Cast:

  • Chen Jun Sheng as Shi San Shao (十三少). Hao Tian’s good friend and somewhat of an arch-enemy (LOL). I thought he was the bad guy at first. I’m so serious. Perhaps because of the intro scene where everyone was sooooo worried for Hao Tian and thinking that Shi San Shao was setting up some trap for Hao Tian. Yet he was just competitive–in the car racing/betting area. He actually was quite funny and a supportive, trustworthy friend. Funny how I thought he would get a major role as well. But he was just part of the intro scenes. It was all right. Since they got enough problems for the rest of the plot already. No need to include everyone–or drag it out even more.
  • AVA (錢帥君) as Ni Fang Fang (倪芳芳) aka Lin Xin Hui (林心卉). I know she had a very cruel past with witnessing her father being murdered right in front of her and her mother jumping from that one bridge. But I can’t seem to sympathize with her. Okay, I kind of sympathize with her after learning that she was avenging her parents’ deaths and NOT because of some senseless killing (since I guess they were bounty hunters at first). NOT because of the cruel killing techniques that were executed at times, but how she had treated Xuan Xuan later on–and insisting on killing Xuan Xuan to keep their secret. SURE, her devastating past had caused some trust issues in her, but after all Xuan Xuan did to help her avenge her parents’ deaths AND been there for her all those times, she had to pull that card on Xuan Xuan? Not to mention how she was punishing Stacia. Targeting her enemies and resorting to any types of method possible to avenge her parents was one thing BUT punishing those who had been there for her throughout? OR maybe I shouldn’t apply reasonableness to her case.
  • Qiao Ke Li (巧克力) as Pan Pan (潘潘). I hated her for her jealousy and her attacks on Xuan Xuan and Stacia, BUT didn’t hate her for her betrayal on Fang Fang. Why not? Honestly, Fang Fang had it coming and how Pan Pan was just covering for herself after knowing what could be done after all Xuan Xuan and Stacia did for Fang Fang. Though she, Pan Pan, had a hand in influencing Fang Fang’s actions toward Xuan Xuan and Stacia, Fang Fang was the leader SO she could overrule Pan Pan in those side attacks on Xuan Xuan and Stacia.
  • Angel Weng (翁子麒) as Stacia (史黛西). I found her kind of kiddish for their group yet I guess it made sense after learning her story. (I meant the actress looked too innocent for the role OR possibly too young but got the answer later as to why they gave her that image.) She was the only one treating Xuan Xuan like a friend and/or good sister, unlike the other two who were just saying it with their mouths, NOT acting like so. I was super frustrated with her death and wished it hadn’t occurred YET I guess it had to happen for some events to unfold, etc. NOT too unreasonable. At least the people who had a hand in her death got punished.
  • Cherry Hsia (夏如芝) as Xuan Xuan (宣宣). I can’t recall where I have last seen her in yet this role was all right. A mixture of gentleness and capabilities. I actually liked both of her bonds with Stacia and Nai Xin. Totally different types of bond yet it allowed us to see her character in another light, aside from the intimidating image she had at first (along with the other three during their intro scenes). I was so glad she didn’t die. I thought she would after being stabbed like that. Well, if she had died, it would be even harder for them all to forgive Fang Fang (regardless of whether it was just some misunderstanding or not).
  • Patrick Li (李沛旭) as Li Da Wei (李大衛). A different role from When Dolphin Met Cat and refreshing since we got to see him kind of dorky and clumsy in here versus his cool dude attitude in the other one. Convincing enough.
  • Hu Xiao Fang (胡曉芳) as Xie Xiao Tian (謝小甜). I found her cute until she got all bossy with Da Wei in trying to secure her job with helping Fang Fang. Yet I reminded myself that she didn’t know how much damage could be done. And indeed she was quite regretful when she learned what had happened.
  • Zhang Qin as Lin Sao (林嫂). Ni Fang Fang’s mother. So didn’t see it coming that she was Fang Fang’s mother. But it made sense. The only person who could stop Fang Fang from continuing on with her mistakes, AND not to mention how they needed the mother to clarify with Hao Tian having no involvement in the killing of the father.
  • Jian Jia Wei (簡家瑋) as Liao Qing Long (廖慶隆). I thought he was a match for Pan Pan with their exchange at the police station. However, I didn’t realize where the plot was going. Yet it wasn’t impossible and made the plot even more intense. Really hated him for killing Stacia. SO serious, I thought Stacia would have made it through if it wasn’t for him. But I guess they needed Pan Pan around to pull through with the conspiracy and finally his arrest with the higher authorities finding evidence, etc.
  • Ma Hui Zhen (馬惠珍) as Zhou Qing Shan (周晴珊) aka Qing Yi (晴姨). Ding Bang’s mother. I sort of suspected her throughout too. I SWEAR! I meant like how she was too kind and too nice, etc. AND how it was too good to be true that she didn’t know Ding Bang was involved in such conspiracy. YET not too unreasonable since the truth revealed near the end, and how Ding Bang wasn’t around her as much during those times so he had plenty of times to roam. She was indeed another loyal housekeeper.
  • You Yong (尤勇) as Bai Ruo Yao (白瑞堯). Ruo Qing’s father. Glad he wasn’t the dummy type. It’s mean, but I’m seriously getting sick of those characters that are too good to be true, especially when they’re within the business field and is still in the ‘naive’ side with thinking siblings can’t betray you, etc. Come on now, let’s get real. I mean okay, he’s a good person, but it doesn’t mean he would get fooled by his brother for pulling such acts, especially when he overheard the dude cooking up some plans with Nian He (even if Nian He was just trying to extract more info from Bai Zong Yuan).
  • Liu Jia (劉佳) as Zhang Zai Fen (張再芬). Ruo Qing’s mother. She’s average, I guess. I can’t say much since she doesn’t appear enough to form a strong opinion. But I guess I’m surprised they give her a stronger and active role within their business, accompanying her husband. It seems cool since she’s not just in the background, letting her husband do whatever.
  • Hao Xiao Yu (郝笑雨) as Zhang Qian (張倩). Jia Wen’s conspirator who was later arrested for bribery–among other things.
  • Cindy Mong (孟庭麗) as Feng Yi. She was one hilarious character all right. Loved her intro scenes and the craziness later with her son. I guess she was a breath of fresh air for the show since she and her son became the comic relief for some parts in between. I was also glad that they showed some of Ying Ying’s relatives too and others who supported Ying Ying (even if they had accidentally caused some incidents to unfold).
  • Leo Ding as Yang Xian Yong. Ying Ying’s cousin. A silly dude overall, lol. Very rash at times hence the misunderstanding at the beginning. Yet had a good heart overall.
  • Li Yi Juan (李宜娟) as Jiang Qiao Ping (姜巧萍). One of the front desk clerks. I needed a second watch to remember her. She added to the group of receptionists and their bond at times, even if they were just cooperating for the necessary duties. Yet I would take anyone over Yu Ting at this point.
  • Liza Wang (王心宜) as Ma Xin Yi (馬心儀). Ying Ying’s friend. She was cute and understanding. And if it wasn’t for her, Hao Tian wouldn’t be alive (considering how Ding Bang was trying to finish his job at the hospital). But what I felt kind of irked with her was not stopping her cousin (aka Yu Ting) from jumping into Hao Tian when he lost his memory. OKAY, so there was a possibility that Hao Tian might not remember (if it were real-life situation) so moving on with his life was something they couldn’t change. However, he was a man with a past, she really wanted to risk it? At least tell him the truth so he wouldn’t be so clueless. It wouldn’t change anything since he couldn’t remember, but at least he knows somewhat and make the decision for himself. But keeping him in the blind and knowing what could happen? (I like to blame Yu Ting AND yes, I hate that desperate girl, but Xin Yi should take some of the blame for the damage afterward since she knows.)
  • Vicky Tseng as Zeng Yu Ting (曾玉婷). I found it sooo hard to sympathize with her though I know what happened in the past while Hao Tian lost his memory was hard to let go after he regained his memory and returned to his normal life again. YES, she was just stubborn and so into Hao Tian that it was hard to let go SO she practically blocked out the reasonable side of her to win Hao Tian back (as she claimed). But it was really hard to sympathize with her. NOT just because Ruo Qing was the fiancee and Hao Tian only loved Ruo Qing, BUT more like Yu Ting’s attitude. Also, how desperate was that to just throw herself toward Hao Tian when she knew his true identity? Or was that intentional? That was uncalled for with me thinking of her like that, but I couldn’t help it. It didn’t matter that she finally understood Ruo Qing and clarified matters later, still didn’t like her. Was just glad she was finally out of the picture. But I think she brought it upon herself with her downfall since Hao Tian said it was one thing with causing trouble for him, but for the hotel businesses?
  • STACY as Zhang Lin Lin (張琳琳). She really had style. One of the funniest parts was how she was saying they had to help Lu Bao to look her best (aka restoring her confidence). Then she launched into saying how they should make Lu Bao look so beautiful that even her husband would regret in abandoning her. AND the priceless part was adding in some comments about men, which got the majority’s reaction, LOL! (Since most of the people sitting at the meeting were men, lol.)
  • Zhan Wei Zhong (詹惟中) as Wang Wei (王威). Lin Lin’s best friend and was considered to understand her the most (and didn’t mind her comment about ‘men’, lol). At first, I thought he was quite weird and wonder if he was up to something. But was reassured later. Guess those artists do have some kind of weirdness within them, eh? LOL!
  • Yang Zhong En as Wang Bo Lin (王柏林). Strict and seemed to have some beef with life in general or something. Well, at first when he appeared and somewhat of his attitude were seen. When his story revealed, it was refreshing in a sense because haven’t seen a character that cared so much about the actual person instead of just caring about making money of the occupation. And in a way, that was why he refused to take Jian’s offer though Jian was supposed to be his classmate once upon a time. Had his principles yet could loosen up with the people who actually respect and care for his family–and friends.
  • Zheng Ping Jun (鄭平君) as Wang Bo Song (王柏松). Wang Bo Lin’s older brother. I found it hard that he wasn’t mad at his brother for such actions as it often happened with other overly dramatic series. Yet I guess it wasn’t too unbelievable because they were family after all and they had to look at the positive no matter what, trying to stick together. Especially his brother had already turned a new leaf and worked hard.
  • Yue Ting (岳庭) as Yang Lin Hui Lan (王林慧蘭). Wang Bo Song’s wife. I guess her sacrifice was worth it since the younger brother was no longer as stubborn? Yet it was so sad with her having to cover up when she went out. Glad she got her wish and had a little makeover that one time. But most importantly, she found the courage to look forward, regaining her confidence.
  • Yu Cai En (余采恩) as Wang Wan Jun (王婉君). Wang Bo Song and Yang Lin Hui Lan’s daughter. Cute. She didn’t appear much so it was hard to say, lol. But she worked at the beauty/makeover center of the hotel with her uncle. Professional enough and likable also.
  • Mishelle Wang as Hu Li Ming (胡莉茗) aka Lu Bao (綠寶). Didn’t realize she also had a story of her own since I thought they were just three really weird rich people (who were quite paranoid). Still nice to see the story between her and her son.
  • Chen Wei Han (陳威翰) as Jiang Yi Lin (蔣亦霖). I had a feeling he was linked to some other story aside from just being there for a little makeover to cheer his dad up. Guessed right but didn’t realize he was Lu Bao’s son until when they pulled up to that one house.
  • Chen Ping (陳萍) as Chanel aka Lan Bao (藍寶). Somewhat in the crazy category. But I guess she had to protect herself by pulling some tricks on people, lol.
  • Cai Jia Hong (蔡佳宏) as Christine aka Bai Zhen (白鉆). She completed the group of three, of course. And same as the other two, kind of crazy and paranoid at times but I guess their bonds do convince with how they were so worried for Lu Bao that one time.

Friendships:

  • Hao Tian and Shi San Shao. I found their rivalry kind of funny. But I guess that was one of those typical guy thing with wanting to compete BUT still kept some type of bond. The scene where Shi San Shao rejected Fang Fang’s offer really illustrated their friendship. In fact, Shi San Shao was right in clarifying the matter with how he wanted to marry Fang Fang because he loved her AND not wanting it to become some sort of transaction. So Hao Tian’s trust in him wasn’t for nothing after all. Also, when they were hiding at his house that one time, Shi San Shao didn’t even disclose of their whereabouts. (Though I was shocked at first to learn Shi San Shao would tell Fang Fang YET it was just Fang Fang’s excuse to come and check on them–and eventually try to make a move with setting the trap to kill Hao Tian.)
  • Hao Tian and Ding Bang. They were sort of like brothers. Too bad Ding Bang couldn’t see it–with him feeling inferior to Hao Tian, because of his mother’s partial to Hao Tian. OR at least it was from his point of view. Hao Tian indeed treated him like a good brother and even trusted him, too much actually. If not, why would he agree to race like that thus leading to his downfall (temporarily)? Then afterward when Hao Tian returned, he even greeted Ding Bang enthusiastically (after he clarified to the others about the plots with the switch-over again) and didn’t even doubt Ding Bang at all with having a hand in the whole car accident.
  • Nian He and Da Chang. My favorite team in here. They were so funny together–with their schemes and all. I thought Da Chang would ruin it for Nian He with his smart-mouth and all. Yet he managed to keep it a secret (for the most part) and tried to cover for Nian He as best as he could (as mentioned before). He later became the person who went around searching for information here and there. One of the scenes that I thought he might get ‘off’ was, of course, the part where he sneaked into Bai Zong Yuan’s office to plant the chip. Since Bai Zong Yuan already showed his capability when he tried to kill the car shop owner SO that was why I felt quite nerve-racking in watching that scene.
  • Ying Ying, Ruo Qing, and Qian Hui. I don’t know. I thought they were kind of fun at first and another group of friends to look forward to since the girl side needed some type of group too. Yet it seemed kind of loose later on.
  • Ying Ying and Nai Xin. I felt their chemistry with the friendship more. Though Ying Ying was supposed to be the nurse who looked after Nai Xin at first hence being protective of her in the later parts as well. Yet their bond was really genuine, especially the part where they arranged the fireworks in order to help Nian He with his proposal to Ruo Qing. (OF COURSE, Nian He was posing as Hao Tian at that time.) Then there were various points throughout that they really stuck together, supporting one another in time of need. Like Nai Xin would try to cheer Ying Ying up when Ruo Qing misunderstood her or when Nai Xin was feeling down because of how her mother was causing trouble all around.

Couples:

  • Eric Huang and Margaret Wang as Yang Nian He and Qiu Ying Ying. Both cute and addicting to watch. And could be quite touching at times too. What I loved the most about their interaction was a mixture of seriousness and cuteness. It was like they have their secret language with what real-life couples would often have (and sometimes end up that way over the years after they were married). It was like they say a word or two or just a sign or an expression and the other got it. They had a way with communicating that convinced us that they were together, not just the usual ‘I Love You’ spread all over or the overly mushy stuff to convince us they were a couple. (YES, I’m rolling my eyes right now at those scenes often seen in the other dramas.) She often played the devil’s advocate, trying to wake him up in certain matters, such as how serious things were within the Ke family (when she finally found out he was posing as Hao Tian). Though it was the only way he could get the money for his mother’s medical fees but Ying Ying was quite level headed and often kept him in check regarding the whole matter and how complicated it was, not just a little deal and he would be done afterward. Though she soon gave in and ended up helping him all the way later on, it wasn’t like she was just blindly jumping in but she understood the situation quite well or could sympathize with the Ke family, etc. The only time that I found it kind of ridiculous with their interaction was how they were hugging in Ruo Qing’s office and got caught (though Ruo Qing didn’t say anything at all). I meant, come on now, common sense? It wasn’t like it was in his office and Ruo Qing came in somehow and saw them, BUT it was Ruo Qing’s office. I guess the scriptwriters needed more problems to occur so they made it like that. BUT that was so out of characters. Though it could explain they were so comfortable with talking with one another that they forgot, etc. YET they should understand they were at work, NOT home. Anyway, their relationship wasn’t just him protecting her but at times, he needed a shoulder to cry on too–not literally, but more like some sort of silent support and cheering him on. Their roles were reversed at times, so it wasn’t just about who was protecting whom. They were at the same level.
  • Eric Huang and Cecilia Han as Ke Hao Tian and Bai Ruo Qing. More reserved than the other couple, except several rare times. Mostly because of their background so it was hard to blame them for being so formal at times. But they didn’t lack chemistry because of those factors. Not to mention how her feelings for Hao Tian were already magnetized during the times she thought Nian He was Hao Tian (like some of the others had thought as well).
  • Liu Zheng and Yuan Xiao Xu as Ge Da Chang and Tao Qian Hui. They were all right for me at first. But I found them kind of cute too later, especially near the ending. I like it that they also had a part at the wedding since like the mother said that Da Chang was sort of a brother to Nian He so it was natural to include him and Qian Hui too.
  • Leo Ding and Fang Shu Zhen as Xian Yong and Nai Xin. They were really funny all right. The misunderstanding at his intro scene was quite funny–after things were sorted out, of course. Since I thought Nai Xin was really unlucky to encounter such a matter after she started her new life. YET it ended up being quite silly because Xian Yong had misunderstood and thought Nai Xin was Ruo Qing. She sure was strong for such a petite girl! LOL! (I guess we shouldn’t underestimate her.) Anyway, her daydreaming that one time with him saving her in an ancient setting was really funny! She was really cute in that outfit though and he was more silly than brave in that rescue scene. They probably will end up together, right? I meant she did catch the bouquet of flowers. LOL!

Likes:

  • The theme songs. I had to rely on the subtitles because I don’t understand the dialect that well, but I liked those songs while watching.
  • Make-up. YES, I had to put this in because it seemed like it was overly done in other dramas. I thought they gave the right touch in here, especially the male population. There were times in other dramas I wonder IF it was done on purpose or just poorly done. Of course, we all know all of the cast has to wear makeup for the filming, etc BUT when it gets so noticeable with the guys, it starts to become disturbing. Unless it was intentional for exaggeration of personalities, it just seemed ODD with so much powder/make-up on some people’s faces. Skin colors were more noticeable in here SO they managed to tone it down for make-up in this one, helping the drama projecting a more serious image as an overall. Kudos to the production team on this one.
  • Intelligence Level/ Common Sense. YUP, the fact that the majority in here weren’t idiots. I’m so serious here. It was like from some other dramas, they loved torturing themselves into those troubles by letting others harm them. Though the characters in here weren’t flawless (because that would be unrealistic), but they weren’t that clueless either. Unless it was some personal matters at times or weak spots, they seemed to be intelligent for the most part. At least for most of the main cast.

Goofs/Oops/Annoying Parts/Whatever Else:

  • Flashbacks. I think it was helpful while it was airing because after some lapses between episodes and time it was aired, viewers would forget the details and needed it as reminders BUT since I watched it in one go, it was a pain to me at times. ‘Cause some of them kept repeating AND at a great length (TO ME) so it was bugging me at times and driving my patience insane.
  • Yu Ting’s schemes. YES, they needed more plot development for Hao Tian after he returned YET I found it quite annoying with those parts, especially the one he ended up at her house that one night AND fell right into her trap. I know he felt guilty for what he did while he lost his memory and wanted to make up to her–with what he could do. BUT what he could have done with picking up some items would be bringing Ruo Qing with him SO there was no way anyone would misunderstand him. Some of Yu Ting’s schemes later backfired on her YET I found some scenes still annoying. It made sense and what she did drove the plot forward but it was sooo annoying. I so agreed with Ruo Qing that Hao Tian was asking for trouble when agreeing to let Yu Ting work at the hotel.
  • Jia Wen’s death scene. I think they (the scriptwriters) really wanted to kill Jia Wen because NO ONE yelled out for others to call 911 OR some sort of emergency unit to come right away. It took Bai Zong Yuan to yell for them to call? WOW! They seriously cared for her all right. Well, it could be that they were too shocked with the turn of events YET it seemed out of place since they managed to keep it consistent throughout with other scenes where emergency vehicles/help were needed SO why the goof-up this one time? That was why I came up with the conclusion that the scriptwriters really wanted to kill Jia Wen. It wasn’t like it was a surprise since Bai Zong Yuan had it coming AND they were too far out (as in current location) to get to the hospital in time. YET it would make sense to call right away, NOT until Bai Zong Yuan yell at them.
  • The Ending. NO, I don’t dislike weddings or happy endings. I meant the clarifications and the tie-in near the end in this situation. Honestly? They put us through 17 episodes of that just because of some lame misunderstanding? I do understand some small matter could turn into BIG right away IF it was interpreted differently or just through assumptions, but that was lame all right. With all the deaths and torturing that most characters went through, you would think there would be some other explanation. But I guess sometimes it was just that lame. That was life. AND maybe because I had the feeling they sort of got together and sang the ‘Barney song’ SO I was kind of stumped with such a finale. But I guess if it wasn’t for such misunderstanding and so many schemes, the Ke family wouldn’t resolve some of their own misunderstandings and reunite once again.

Moral of the story? People need to work on their communication skills AND trust issues. YES, I honestly thought that was what it was all about here. Because 90% of the problems in here occurred because of some sort of misunderstanding. Sometimes, things couldn’t be thoroughly investigated, but maybe some sort of direct communication could help the case. I could draw up a list too! (LOL!)

  • The misunderstanding between Ni Fang Fang and Ke Hao Tian. More like her thinking that he was the mastermind behind her parents’ deaths. BUT how hard was it to confront him? What could go wrong? She could always kill him anyway. Like she wasn’t capable.
  • The misunderstanding between Wang Yin Li, Ke Yao He, and Yang Qiu Yan. It was manipulated by Bai Zong Yuan. BUT still…crazy. NOT too far-fetched, but still crazy that they listened to outsiders more than their family? Like seriously? Nian He nailed it when he said they shouldn’t listen to Bai Zong Yuan and NOT trust one another. (YES, he literally said, “We shouldn’t trust outsiders, but should be trusting our family.”)
  • The misunderstanding between Wang Yin Li and her daughter, Ke Xiao Jing. Another attention seeking situation. But it was there with Xiao Jing trying to prove herself to her mother. Seeking attention wasn’t wrong since it was her mother after all, BUT that had led her into doing damage to the already-sinking ship (aka their business). Perhaps this one was harder to resolve since it was ongoing since she was young and I don’t blame her for feeling that way.
  • The misunderstanding between Wang Bo Lin and Hao Tian and the others within the business. OKAY, this one couldn’t be helped because Yu Ting did it to sabotage Ruo Qing and the rest of the team out of jealousy and childishness. But it was still another misunderstanding within all those other problems they had to take care of. Lucky Mr. Wang told Hao Tian when he finally got a chance during their departure that night at the Wang resident. One of those less frustrating moments because it was short-lived.
  • The misunderstanding between Hu Li Ming and her husband. YES, the man couldn’t help it that he found out he had an incurable disease BUT he couldn’t muster up the courage to ask his wife who the other dude was? It wasn’t like he was spying on her BUT was just there to pick her up from the appointment and saw them. SO he could just ask. It was a harmless, curious question. OR he was too into the morbid-land after finding out about his disease that he didn’t care to ask or clarify matters anymore? I don’t know.
  • Ding Bang misunderstood his mother with only loving Hao Tian AND NOT him. Since he thought the reason why he wasn’t receiving enough attention was because he wasn’t her son. NOT really. But seriously? He was just too filled with hatred and allowing his assumptions to fill in the gaps without caring to ask the mother. OR perhaps, he had been subjected to hearing about Hao Tian that he went nuts? OH WELL, but that was too lame, considering the Ke family was so nice to him, trusting him to handle most of their important stuff, etc.
  • Yin Xin Yu misunderstood Wang Yin Li for betraying her because of that one incident. The little misunderstanding that had affected so many people’s lives. YES, it wasn’t too out of it since the coincidences were too much. But if some sort of confrontation had taken place ages back, that would prevent some matters from occurring. We wouldn’t even have a drama to watch IF it was that easy, BUT seriously? How hard was it to confront someone you declared to be your sworn sister? GREAT…

NOT saying that I hated the series by listing the above points but found that formula the most obvious for the overall story.

Recommended? Your choice. I enjoyed it for the majority of the time. It took me four days (minus all the time I needed to get on with real-life stuff) to watch which was a new record for a 20-episode drama. BUT then again, I’m weird like that to choose certain dramas over others SO my opinions could not be trusted anyway.