Is this Sungkyunkwan Scandal v 2.0 that I smell? The recipe of one uptight young man, one mane of glory, one womanizer, and one too pretty to pass for a real boy cross=dresser, equals a sageuk fusion cake!
I am totally in the mood for the hijinks of another ancient F4 complete with palace politics. MDBC tells the story of young Crown Prince Lee Yeong who is the carefree, yet sarcastic underdog of the palace. His father seems to be a lame duck of a king who is being controlled by the queen’s family. Instead of embroiling himself in the palace battle, the Crown Prince prefers to stay out of the way and constantly dons costumes in order to explore out of the palace. One day he meets Ra-On, who on the surface looked like a young noble boy. However, Ra-On is actually a girl who is trying to earn a living doing whatever she can whether that be writing fake love letters or acting in a circus play. One love letter she ends up ghost writing for, was actually between the Crown Princess and a noble who was in love with her.
If you know about my love for Bu Bu Jing Xin, you know I have high expectations for anything closely related to it (sequel or adaptation). Since my expectations are kind of through the roof this better not be Bu Bu Jing Qing type of disaster. The let down from BBJQ was so big that I had to wash my eyes and cleanse my brain by rewatching BBJX (see our review of BBJQ here).
For those who are not familiar with Bu Bu Jing Xin or who haven’t watched this version yet, let me give you a quick rundown of the plot.
While trying to save a young kid from drowning, Hae Soo jumps into a lake. She’s able to save the kid but drown as an eclipse takes place. She regains consciousness in a bathing area surrounded by the sons of King Taejo, the founder of the Goryeo Dynasty.
I think they could have found a better title.
The title is not that enticing because you expect the basic Cinderella trope when the show adds several twists to the well known fairy tale.
Eun Ha Won is a high schooler who lives with her father, evil stepmother, and (evil and not so smart) step sister. The father is often on the road for work, and Ha Won isn’t spending quite as much time with him as she would want to.
What keeps her going despite the countless abuse from her stepmother and step sister? The thought of college. She has been juggling countless part-time jobs to be able to pay for her initial college deposit.
Ha Won dreams of becoming a teacher-something her late mother had wished for.
Things turn out for the worst when she realizes that she has to pay money for the storage of her mother’s ashes. Using almost all the money she had saved up, Ha Won goes ahead and pays to preserve her mother’s ashes.
Well our female lead is now broke broke broke. That’s when the Han’s family enters. The Han grandfather, the chairman of a large company, asks Ha Won to live in Sky House, which is where his three grandsons live. He will make sure that all her studies are paid for, and she is financially stable. Of course there is a price to pay. Ha Won must bring the three grandsons closer (Good luck Ha Won), which is not easy when the cousins can’t stand each other at all. Two of the cousins in particular – Ji Woon and Hyun Min are constantly at each other’s throats.
Let me describe each cousin in the grandfather’s own words:
- Hyun Min is not someone who tries to spread love around him: He is a player.
- Ji Woon is not someone who pushes boundaries, and refuses to be tamed: He is a thug.
- Seo Woo is not a singer/songwriter: He is a good for nothing.
Another period drama for me to marathon! The one thing that Mainland dramas does well is traditional epics. With birth secrets, warring factions, and angsty romance, it is enough to keep me watching 5 episodes at a time. Singing All Along tells the story of LiHua, daughter of royalty whose parents were killed during an overthrow of a dynasty. However, due to the trauma of watching her parents die, she does not remember her past. She ends up growing up happily in the rich Yin family. LiHua is of strong mind and body. Even though she is female, she enjoys martial arts and is well versed in the ancient teachings, including military warfare. She hates being cooped up in her family home and even cross-dresses as a boy in order to attend school. Meanwhile, LiuXiu is also descendant of royalty whose ancestors were part of the proud Han Dynasty. However, because their family was overthrown by the Mang dynasty, they were made commoners and stripped of their wealth. LiuXiu, as children who had went to the same school as LiHua had not only fallen in love with her, but also had taken care of her during her traumatic past. These two friends were separated for many years due to LiuXiu’s elder brother not wanting her to remember her tragic past. However, LiuXiu always had LiHua in his heart and yearned to ask for her hand in marriage one day despite his poor current circumstances. Things come to a head when LiuXiu’s brother decides to plan a revolt against the Mang dynasty. While LiuXiu is hesitant at first at such a rash action, he is soon convinced this is the right way to go as the current dynasty is bringing about chaos and hunger for the commoners. LiHua, who is starting to remember snippets of her past due to a kidnapping incident where LiuXiu saved her, decides to join forces with the Liu family. She also believes the current emperor is corrupt and wants to help overthrow it. Her ambition pushes her to cross-dress as a man in order to join the growing revolt army. LiuXiu admires her tenacity and intelligence which leads him to want to keep her by his side even though it is risky if she is found out to be a female or the dangers of battle. LiHua not only proves herself to be an able soldier, but a smart tactician as well.
I absolutely love strong female leads, especially those who can participate in battle alongside of their life partners. This is my first time watching Ruby Lin, and she gives off an air of the roles Liu Shi Shi used to play for her Tong Hua dramas. Ruby is not only the producer, but also one of the main leads. She plays strong-willed, playful, and angsty all very well. As for Yuan Hong, I’ve always liked him since he played 13th prince in Scarlet Heart. He plays a gentle scholar who gradually becomes war-hardened. His eyes are so expressive! I really enjoy the chemistry they have together. The side romances are also quite moving, especially the early one between LiHua’s eldest brother and her cousin-in-law. Singing All Along is beautifully filmed and the characters are given appropriate depth.
A very interesting concept! How many times have we imagined our favorite fictional characters coming to life and being able to interact with them? Oh Yeon-Joo is a cardiothoracic resident whose father pens a popular webtoon called “W”. The main character is named Kang Chul, a handsome young man with revenge in mind. In Kang Chul’s world, he is a Olympic sharpshooter who also runs a multi-billion company. The company is a front for an investigation show where he tries to find the killer who murdered his entire family and framed him for it.However, her father is planning to end the series by killing off Kang Chul. After a couple of odd disappearances of her father while he is trying to write out the last scenes of the webtoon, she decides to investigate what is going on. As she rummages in her father’s drawing studio, she is somehow pulled into the drawing tablet by a bloody hand. It turns out that she is literally dragged into the webtoon by Kang Chul. She manages to save his life by giving emergency treatment, but then is dragged back to her own dimension after seeing the words “to be continued…” appear in midair. In her world, the webtoon is writing itself now and she is now including in the drawings. Everything that happened in the other world is drawn as is and published on line. At first, her friends do not believe her and even her father, who reappears, tries to ignore it. The father knows what is happening which is why he is trying to end the series and kill of Kang Chul, who he believes has become a monster. However, the webtoon has now a life of its own and will write it’s own story no matter what the father draws. Yeon Joo ends up being pulled several times into the webtoon in order to help Kang Chul. However, she has a hard time getting back to her own world each time. She goes out of her way to “surprise” Kang Chul like slapping him or kissing him out of the blue in order to create a cliffhanger event to end that episode. Kang Chul is intrigued by this “crazy” women, but knows that she is the key to his life.
YES YES, another Lee Jong Suk drama please! I really adore and have watched all of the dramas he was in. He is a very versatile young actor who has put out several popular shows within the last few years. The character Lee Jong Suk plays is your typical Mary Sue with all the workings, tall, popular, good looking, smart, strong, and rich. However, it seems like he has a darker side as he shoots Yeon Joo with his gun just to test his theory that she is not of his world. I also feel bad that his character endures several out of context events that keep on trying to kill him. Meanwhile, although I like Han Hyo Joo, her role in this drama is a bit awkward at times. She is almost a little ditzy and is incredibly a bad liar. Then again, I would probably be as confused as she is if I was pulled into a webtoon which I had only read about. I suppose I had expected her to have more of a strong woman role like the actual heroine of the webtoon. Nonetheless, I am at the point where Kang Chul is starting to cross over to her world so I am eager to see what happens then!
Hip Hip Hooray for the second installment of Whirlwind Girl………BUT with some integral changes. While our main character is still Bai Cao, the actress playing her has now changed. However, I actually really enjoy this new actress and even feel like she suits the role better than the original one (but hey, that is just me). MOST IMPORTANTLY and UNFORTUNATELY, one of my favorite characters, Ruo Bai, is no longer part of the drama, in a physical sense. At the end of the first season, it is clear that the Ruo Bai and Bai Cao was the largest ship and sailing quite nicely until Ruo Bai ended up in the hospital during her competition. However, because neither the actor for Ruo Bai nor the one for Bai Cao were able to film the second season, there were changes in the story. Ruo Bai is “ambiguously” dead in the second season. I say ambiguous because hints are still dropping that he may be alive and coming back at the end of the season. In the beginning, Bai Cao is unwilling to accept that Ruo Bai is dead even though everyone is telling her that he has passed away. She still thinks that he is angry at her and will come back if she makes it into the international women’s competition. Poor Ting Hao, international champion, is still madly in love with her, but she doesn’t give him the time of day. Nobody can take the place of Ruo Bai in her heart. However, since Song Bai is without an instructor, her senior who is still doing medical research in the states invites Chang An to teach at the institute. Chang An had abandoned his previous institute that was famous for its brutal and cruel ways of training their students. He brings this same training style to Song Bai and implements it to the dismay of the students. However, Bai Cao is eager to comply to even the harshest of trainings because she believes it will help her in the competitions. Ting Hao is furious at Chang An’s tactics as he had endured them himself when he was at Chang An’s institute in the past. These tactics had caused the death of his young friend in the past which is a sore point for both Chang An and Ting Hao. With the dual training of both masters, Bai Cao improves with leaps and bounds.
While some people may not enjoy the major shift in characters and new actors, I really like it! Korean actor Ji Chang Wook plays almost an extended version of his Healer character in the beginning as he is being chased and hounded by his old institute. As Chang An, he is brutally cold and no nonsense as he trains Bai Cao ruthlessly. However, he is not without feeling as Bai Cao’s perseverance continues to move him just as it had moved Ruo Bai. In essence, he is playing an extension of Ruo Bai. For the new Bai Cao, I find her less annoying than the previous one and just as fierce. But for Fan Tin Yi, Ting Hao’s sister, she is just as jealous, spoiled, and frustrating as before. She really makes my lips curl in hatred. As for poor Ting Hao, this man is fighting a loosing battle. He can not gain her love no matter how he tries. He is even losing the battle against the new instructor! While I do miss Ruo Bai, I have one foot on the Chang An and Bai Cao ship right now!
SO CUTE. Kim So Hyun hits it out of the park again with her sassy, spunky, ghosty character paired with a straight-laced ghost fighter, Taecyeon. In this drama, Taec plays Bong Pal, a college freshman who makes a living fighting ghosts. He offers a public service where his customers pay him large sums to exorcise ghosts out of certain locations. However, the catch is that he only fights the weaker ghosts. One day, Taec is called to an abandoned girl’s high school to exorcise a strong perverted ghost. The girl who called him there is Hyun-Ji, a female ghost who has been dead for 5yrs, not a human like he expected. Hyun Ji does not seem like the other ghosts who are gray and decaying in appearance. She still mysteriously retains her youthfulness and color. However, she does not remember anything about her past or how she died. Hyun Ji is very spunky and a good fighter as well. At first, they are constantly getting into fights with one another. However, gradually they learn to work together to fight off the stronger and more brutal ghosts. She practically follows him around everyday due to one instance where their lips touched and she was able to see bits and pieces of her past. Of course, she tries to sneak in another “kiss” as an attempt to see her past, unsuccessfully. Bong Pal, at first finds her quite annoying, but gradually becomes accustomed to her presence in his life. Together, they manage to defeat ghosts by finding their weak spots and banishing them from the places they haunt.
So Hyun always makes her sassy characters fun and relatable. It is a joy to watch her grow and develop her acting career from such a young age to the beautiful young lady she is now. While Taec at first seems a little stiff on the acting front, it ends up working well with his character. His character is a little awkward, as he plays a loner who seems almost more comfortable talking to ghosts rather than humans. To add comedic effect is the Ghost Net duo who are constantly on the search for supernatural events and more members for their club. I would be just as scared as them if I participated in such ghostly adventures. For the villainy side, we have Hye Sung. On the outside, he seems to be the popular and kind veterinarian and professor. However, we are shown his creepy blank stare and special scar on his back for a more mysterious past. I wonder how he ties into the story. So far, I have good vibes about this drama and appreciate its brisk and fun pace.
I love anything with Liu Shi Shi in it! Furthermore, it is refreshing to see her in a non-period role and in modern garb for once. Precious Youth tells the love story of Liu Ting and Xiao Jun, two young adults who fell in love during high school. Liu Shi Shi plays Liu Ting, an academically driven and the good pure daughter of a teacher at the school. Meanwhile, Xiao Jun is the troublemaker and “gangster” of the school who always gets into trouble because he is too mischievous. One day, after literally falling head over heels for her while getting into detention, he decides to pursue her. Liu Ting found Xiao Jun very fun and a large contrast to her “goody two-shoes” type of lifestyle. However, as a beauty at the school, Liu Ting also attracted other suitors. She also becomes the love interest of Hai Bing, whose father was the boss of Liu Ting’s father. In order to network, her mom pushed her to tutor Hai Bing, who was also a “gangster” type and “brothers” with Xiao Jun. It is because of this fight over one girl that broke the deep brotherhood between Hai Bing and Xiao Jun. Unfortunately, things come to a head as families disagree and Xiao Jun broke up with Liu Ting. Liu Ting was devastated and you could tell Xiao Jun just wanted her to have a better future. On the second female lead front you have Xiao Lu, ex-best friend of Liu Ting who was in love with Xiao Jun as well and pursued him to the ends of the earth. As they all grow up, Xiao Lu and Liu Ting enter an arts school. Xiao Jun does not go to college and decides to do the dirty work of society and tries to make connections to start up his own company. Hai Bing attends college so that he can better match up to Liu Ting. Even in college, Liu Ting is still attracting many suitors, but deep in her heart, she is still in love with Xiao Jun.
Giving hints of the Korean reply series, Precious Youth feels like a slice of life drama. I find the chemistry between Liu Ting and Xiao Jun palpable, but with Xiao Jun’s nasty attitude, I’m finding it harder and harder to root for this couple. Meanwhile, I admire Liu Ting’s persistency and consistency of her love to Xiao Jun. She does not care about their class differences. However, I’m not sure if this is naiveté on her front. I am interested in seeing how these relationships untangle as their are love triangles and squares everywhere! Plus, what a lovely way to see Zheng Kai act, as I’ve previously watched him only on the Hurry Up Brother variety show.