As (I don’t know who) says, time flies even when you’re not having fun! 2015 had been a year of change for me, good and bad. It feels like it’s mostly bad right now, but I might be able to find the silver lining eventually. 😉 I guess the good part was the HK/TW trip in October, although since then it’s been a bit of a struggle. Blogging wise – I’ve written so few posts this year it averaged something like 2 per month. >_< I have been thinking lately why I do this. It’s been difficult to stay motivated but I guess I’ll just take it easy you know… and not over think things? I don’t know…
That aside, my drama watching habit has changed slightly this year since I watched so few Taiwanese dramas?!? I guess my time was taken by HK dramas this year. Plus, recently I’ve been a bit ‘over’ idol dramas. Which of course led to that one drama (ohhh that beast!) which swept me off my feet, pushed me down that black hole and brought in a new bias *coughWangKaicough*. LOL. I’m still getting to know more about him but I don’t know if I can get over how skinny he is. o_O
Oh here’s a couple of milestones – I finished my first Korean drama this year! I almost forgot about it because it was probably the wrong one to start off with… AND a million page views since June 2013! I think it happened in December?
This list includes everything I’ve completed in 2015. So it includes older dramas and not just the ones aired in 2015. I’ve used the ratings I put down over at MyDramaList.com to keep things consistent.
- Constellation Women Series: Aries (2015) – 5.5/10
- Lost? Me Too (2015) – 6.5/10
- Mr Right Wanted (2014) – 8/10
- Murphy’s Law of Love (2015) – 7.5/10
- Wake Up (2015) – 8/10
- Marry me or not (2015) – not sure if I want to continue, only watched 1 ep.
- Love or Spend (2015) – close to dropping after 21 eps, I guess I’m not cut out for TW dailies. I just don’t have the patience / endurance.
- Dear Mom (2014) – see comment above re TW dailies. Gosh, I actually watched 42 eps!
HONG KONG DRAMAS
- A Step Into The Past (2001) – 9/10
- Captain of Destiny (2015) – 6.5/10
- Eye in the Sky (2015) – 8.5/10
- Lord of Shanghai (2015) – 7.5/10
- Moonlight Resonance (2008) – rewatch
COMPLETED (HKTV) & Reviewed in THIS POST
- Doom+5 (2015) – 8/10
- Love in Time (2015) – 8.5/10
- Night Shift (2015) – 7.5/10
- The Election (2015) – 7/10
- The Menu (2015) – 9/10
- To Be or Not To Be (2015) – 9/10
MAINLAND CHINESE DRAMAS
- Detectives and Doctors (2015) – 5/10
- Nirvana in Fire (2015) – 10/10
- Love me, if you dare (2015) – The first drama I completed in 2016, review coming. In short, nope, I didn’t like it.
- The Time We Were Not In Love (2015) – 6.5/10
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!
Constellation Women Series: Aries (2015)
Rating – 5.5 / 10
What a mess! Well, it might not be if you don’t consider it an idol drama. My opinions of it haven’t changed since my previous post and actually, it got worst. The storylines were totally makjang and felt like it came from writers who work on those 8pm daily dramas. So why did I even finish it? It was only 10 episodes – and it got to the point where it was so bad, it was funny. Just don’t take it seriously and you’ll be fine. If you’re an Aries, you might even learn something from it, so that’s educational.
Of course I watched it for Xiu Jie Kai and he didn’t exactly bring his best performance. Although he wasn’t given much to work with. Janet Hsieh (in her acting debut) was not so great, but hey, the only way from here is up right? She just needs to relax and find a way to channel her real personality into her roles. Chloe Wang did her job here, and towards the 2nd half of the drama she seemed more like the female lead than Janet. Not necessarily a bad thing but her character got on my nerves. Same for Patrick Lee, sorry, there was just nothing redeemable about his character.
Lost? Me Too (2015)
Rating – 6.5 / 10
I have the bad habit of following a bad drama just for a certain actor. This web series, also known as ‘Lost, Claire’ (or something like that) looked well made and since it was short, something easy to watch. However, at the end of it I wasn’t sure what it was really about? It was supposed to chronicle the struggles of Claire (Tia Li) as she tries to make a name for herself in the television industry as a producer. She gets caught in between a married guy who can help her career (Xiu Jie Kai) and her senior from school (Sky Li). For a short drama, this was way too slow and the ending was a bit out of nowhere. So it was completely unsatisfying.
As for the actors, Tia Li was pretty wooden here. It wasn’t completely horrible, but she needs to emote more. It’s refreshing to see Xiu Jie Kai in a ‘bad guy’ role, although the focus of this drama was not on him, so we didn’t get to know more about his character at all. As Tia’s best friend, Milla An was actually the better actress here in her supporting role. I felt like I understood more of her motivations and actions than the female lead. Sky Li wasn’t given much to do here except look pretty, and I must say he is rather good looking. So I’m keeping an eye out for him in future dramas.
Mr Right Wanted (2014)
Rating – 8 / 10
So much potential, but yet, I felt like it missed the mark to make it a great drama. I mean, I can see they tried something different. The drama just had that nostalgic feel to it, very fitting to its setting in a publishing company and leaves you with a real bittersweet feeling at the end of it. I don’t object to the one story per episode format, however, I think this was where it ultimately faltered. Every week, we saw Sonia Sui’s character go on dates with a different guy, who each had a story to tell. Those stories can be funny (with notable guest stars like Chris Wu, Sunny Wang etc), tragic (the guy in the wheelchair) and sweet (Hans Chung). But we know in a drama like this, the ultimate ‘end game’ is for our female lead to find her ‘Mr Right’… right? Yet, the main potential suitor Christopher Lee was pretty underdeveloped and I wasn’t sure why Sonia would choose him because their chemistry was rather lacking. As for the other choice Hans Chung, he had a better backstory but again, I didn’t feel a compelling reason for Sonia to choose him either. Yes, you can tell I would prefer if she just chose noone LOL.
As for the supporting characters, Yao Yao’s character was just too annoying. Although she is a better actress than I thought. I know lots of people loved Michael Chang’s Mao Zhen Yu, but his romance with Bei Bei was possibly too quirky for me?!? Doesn’t feel like it belongs to this drama with supposedly realistic and down to earth vibes? Despite my issues with it, I still rated Mr Right Wanted fairly high because if you look at it episode-by-episode, it was enjoyable. However, if you look at it as an overall story, I just felt it was lacking. (And I might’ve given more points because of its good looking cast – Sonia Sui / Christopher Lee / Hans Chung is a pretty decent combo there.)
Murphy’s Law of Love (2015)
Rating – 7.5 / 10
[Previous Posts – Character descriptions and teasers]
There was nothing fundamentally wrong with Murphy’s, the concept made sense (although they didn’t really follow through with it), the leads looked good, no crazy kidnappings, birth reveals, evil second leads… but what’s left? I can’t find another word to describe this drama except…cute. And I don’t just mean Ji Jia Wei (Danson Tang)’s dog Polo.
But then, what else is there to say about it? It wasn’t too long for a SETTV drama (19 episodes) because nothing really was happening? It took way too long for the leads to kiss (I think it was in episode 15/16) and I know it sounds shallow but that just comes with the territory with SETTV dramas. You expect fan service and there were too little of it! I can’t remember there being any major conflicts, so the mandatory separation between the leads seemed unnecessary. The second leads were wasted, and I’m not just talking about my bias Jolin Chien, who was given the same role as he played in Pleasantly Surprised/Love Myself or You but this time, he could’ve been Mr Invisible because he didn’t get to do much. Jenna Wang was a surprise. Her character was actually a mature (not crazy) second lead who had so much potential, but again, completely wasted.
Overall, Murphys was a harmless drama with two likeable leads in Danson and Ivelyn. They had good chemistry and I guess I don’t regret watching it. However, I don’t think I gained anything from watching it either?
Wake Up (2015)
Rating – 8 / 10
Wake Up was a 6 part mini drama produced by PTS – known for their quality (albeit less popular aka not idol dramas) and ability to snag a few awards. This one was no different. It won Best Miniseries, Best Miniseries Supporting Actor (Chris Wu), Best Miniseries Director and Writer at the last Golden Bell Awards. So my expectation was rather high. Did it deliver? Yes and no. Before I watched this drama, I thought it was going to examine the issues doctors face (in this case, anesthesiologists) – kind of their duty towards the patients vs the large business-like administration / money making side of a hospital. But the story wasn’t really like that. I guess my slight disappointment with it was it went in a direction that was more conventional? There was nothing really new to the story, even though I thought the area of anesthesia is often overlooked in medical shows but here, they could have substituted it with any other area of medicine? I’m not sure why I wasn’t that in love with it. I liked it, and thought Chris Wu was outstanding in one particular scene in the last episode. So he deserves that Golden Bell! I guess in the overall scheme of things it’s only 6 episodes so it’s not a great commitment. If you want to take a break from fluff and tackle a serious drama with good production values + great acting, Wake Up is a solid choice.
HONG KONG (TVB) DRAMAS
A Step Into The Past (2001)
Rating – 9 / 10
For a drama that’s about 15 years old, A Step Into The Past was still extremely entertaining and enjoyable. So I guess for me, the story and acting always comes first before all the extra bells and whistles (CGI, pretty costumes, filming on location etc). I don’t know why I never saw it from start to finish, but one day I just decided to watch it and I don’t regret it! The time travel jokes are still funny, the story is decent and I love the adventure we went on. The acting – whilst Louis Koo has room for improvement, I thought he was pretty good as the lead. He just has the charisma to carry the show. The female leads… I usually like Jessica Hsuan but I didn’t like her character here. Sonija Kwok – her acting is about as good as Louis Koo minus the charisma, and that’s not saying much. 😛 Maybe it’s my bias but I actually thought Raymond Lam was not THAT bad, or maybe I just imagined him to be worse. Yes, he had a tendency to overact but this was his first serious role. It was funny though seeing him so young and…charcoal. I miss the good ol’ days of TVB.
Captain of Destiny (2015)
Rating – 6.5 / 10
I don’t remember the last time I watched 2 x Anniversary series and this year, Captain of Destiny was always going to be my choice because of one reason: Ruco Chan. He certainly did not disappoint! As the 11th prince, Ruco demonstrates why he should be cast in a full on palace drama! But then, there’s the rest of the story about those pirates. Sorry, Tony Hung and Grace Chan – you guys are just not ready to be leads. Whilst Tony is decent in comedic scenes, I struggle to take him seriously. Grace is even worse, she needs to tone down a whole lot. I suppose the real fault is in the writing, I fail to see the purpose of the time travel and it doesn’t seem like Grace’s character learnt anything from it. As for the romance – nope. Didn’t feel the chemistry between Grace/Tony or Grace/Ruco. The most romantic scene I thought was actually between Ruco and Kelly Fu’s character. LOL. Everything about the story seemed half baked. The pirates side – I lost interest in somewhere along the way. The palace side – seems so small scaled with just that one evil Consort the whole way?! Would I have voted Elaine Yiu for Best Supporting Actress? Probably not. Oh gees, don’t mention that ending – there had to be some leaps of one’s imagination + a whole lot of assumptions for it to make sense. Why does TVB always fail to write logical endings?!?! The writers think they’re so smart, is it?
Highlights? I rather enjoyed the Joel Chan / Mandy Wong storyline. If Mandy was the lead, this series would’ve been a gazillion times better. Oh and the CGI is pretty good (by TVB standards).
Eye in the Sky (2015)
Rating – 8.5 / 10
Arguably my favourite TVB series this year?! (Although the competition is pretty weak.) I mean, it has Kevin Cheng AND Ruco Chan! How can it go wrong? It’s unfortunate my memories of it are more on the negative side although based on my previous posts, I actually loved 75% of it. The first 10-15 episodes were gripping, exciting and I just couldn’t wait until the next episode. Plus I love bromances! Eye in the Sky had one epic bromance. Every time I think about Kevin / Ruco sharing a bunk bed I’m giggling like crazy. However, as it progressed, there are a few glaring issues – Tavia Yeung’s character (annoying and underutilised), the romance / love triangle (adds nothing to the story) but I think I could’ve overlooked them if not for… guess what… THE ENDING. Again. Why. I have no other words than – I hate the ending. It really tainted my view of the whole series which was unfortunate.
As for the acting – despite my roots as a Kevin fangirl many many years ago, Ruco demonstrates again he is such a versatile actor, and he is particularly good as the bad guy. Kevin on the other hand, although others have praised his acting I always thought he’s not really a ‘natural’ actor? It’s hard to portray someone who is calm, cool, the analytical type – I think he was ok here. Nothing spectacular. I’d imagine Tavia accepted this drama because of Kevin / Ruco, and not because of her actual role, since her character had a lot of potential wasted.
Overall, I’d still recommend this series, just stop watching the last 5 minutes and make up a better ending in your head. I’m pretty sure it will be better than the one offered by the writers.
Lord of Shanghai (2015)
Rating – 7.5 / 10
Another anniversary series! This one got all the hype because of the all-star cast, and that’s pretty rare these days. The story – looking back, I don’t have any issues with it. It made sense, and alas, the ending is logical! (OK, maybe the last part about a certain character turning ‘evil’ I felt a bit WTF but anyway…) However, the main issue I have is all the time jumps. I just couldn’t fully engage with the story because as I’m watching the flashbacks, I know noone is going to die, I know they will eventually become the person they are at the start of the series etc. It just saps the suspense out of it. Personally, I will enjoy it a lot more if they just played the story out chronologically. Not to mention I have a bad memory, so after a bunch of flashback episodes, I’m not going to remember where we left off in the ‘present’. I understand why they did it – simply because Anthony Wong probably won’t appear until the 11th episode or something. Since he was such a huge drawcard to this series, they just can’t leave him to appear so late. I get it. Doesn’t mean I like the result.
However, the acting was probably a huge reason why I stuck with this series. In particular, Kenneth Ma’s performance here. For many years, I’ve struggled to take him seriously as an actor (He had always struck me as… rather awkward. No, I’ve never seen The Hippocratic Crush sorry.) and he really surprised me here. Even his storyline with Alice Chan’s character surprisingly worked. Speaking of Alice Chan – I loved her character! Such a strong, female in a male dominated series. Of course there’s Anthony Wong – I can’t fault him here whilst Wayne Lai was a bit over the top. But then, I’m biased against him so I’m not exactly a partial source. Out of the trio, Kent Tong was somewhat overshadowed but it didn’t help he had such a dislikeable character.
Overall, I didn’t feel that ‘spark’ about this series. Maybe it was just me.
Moonlight Resonance (2008)
Original Rating – 7 / 10
Sometime around the Mid-Autumn / Mooncake Festival, I decided to rewatch Moonlight Resonance because… I can’t remember the reason, I missed it? After I finished A Step Into The Past I was having those nostalgia moments. When it first aired, I didn’t really like it because there was a lot of screaming / fighting. But I guess on rewatch, I took it less seriously. I enjoyed it and had a good laugh. I just missed seeing such a great cast – from the older (Louise Lee, Ha Yu, Susanna Kwan, Lee Heung Kam) to the younger (Raymond Lam, Tavia Yeung, Fala Chen) generations, they all did a great job and you can feel the close, family bonds between them. Yes, I didn’t include Linda Chung / Bosco Wong because their storyline was the most tedious in the series.
I wonder what happened to the guy who played one of the brothers (Jong Jai aka Vincent Wan is his name?). He was cute but I don’t think he had another major/support role since then?
Detectives and Doctors (2015)
Rating – 5 / 10
[Previous Posts – Episodes 1 to 21 thoughts]
I don’t know how I survived 43 episodes of this either. My views haven’t changed since the initial review and really, it just got worse. The main issue, is of course they don’t have enough story to fill that many episodes, at least not from the original novel. What’s worse, was whatever they added, it just seemed out of place and diverted from the actual story. So the drama became rather draggy. Since they placed such a huge emphasis on the 3D / CGI when advertising this drama, my expectations were raised, and again hugely disappointed. It was bad. Plus the fight scenes relied too much on CGI to make it believable, and it wasn’t even necessary? Like, this isn’t a fantasy series? Anyway, positives? I suppose the acting was ok. The chemistry was lacking between the leads though. If you can sort through the mess, I think the original story is actually ok – maybe if they combined a few Lu Xiao Feng stories into the one drama, it would make more sense?
Nirvana in Fire (2015)
Rating – 10 / 10
Have you heard that I love this drama?!?!?!? 10/10! I’ve already wrote a whole love fest for it. 🙂 Why? The story – yes it’s confusing in the beginning but it builds up to something exciting and worth the wait. It is also complex and the details are often in the dialogue so even on rewatch, you can still find exciting discoveries. The acting – Hu Ge and Wang Kai! I’ve turned into a Wang Kai fangirl now but seriously Hu Ge made this drama. He was so restrained yet he was able to deliver all of Mei Chang Su / Lin Shu’s emotions through the smallest of actions. Somehow, Wang Kai’s Prince Jing annoyed me for most of the drama and yet, I couldn’t help but fall for him. Prince Jing’s flaws actually became his greatest assets. All of the main supporting actors also delivered great performances and even the villains, I find myself sympathising with them. (at least some of them anyway) Of course, the production values, the cinematography is picturesque. After marathoning a few episodes one day, I stepped outside and thought to myself – what? You mean the outside world doesn’t look like this?
So Nirvana in Fire was really able to transport you into this world of intrigue, political manoeuvres, war… but at the same time, it gives you hope because the themes of friendship and loyalty is ever present throughout this journey. There’s very little romance in this, but the bromance definitely makes up for it.
The Time We Were Not In Love (2015)
Rating – 6.5 / 10
Yes, my first entry into the K drama world! Unfortunately it ended up to be a poor choice. Being the ‘remake/adaptation’ of my previous all time favourite drama – In Time with You didn’t help. The biggest issue is that it lacks the depth that ITWY had. The reflections and observations are all gone. Now we’re just left with a ‘run of the mill’ friends to lovers type story. Even if I try to not compare the two, TTWWNIL was just too slow. The leads Ha Ji Won and Lee Jin Wook were likeable, but their characters were not. As for the second leads, I’m sorry to say Yoon Gyun Sang (the pianist Cha Seo Hoo) just did nothing for me. Chu Soo Hyeon was annoying in the beginning but I actually grew to like her character So Eun. Too bad she wasn’t given much to do in the second half of the drama. I mean, if you’ve never watched In Time with You and like the leads, I suppose this could provide some entertainment. But if you loved ITWY, stay away! Just rewatch that instead.