- Title: Lan Ling Wang
- Chinese Title: 兰陵王
- Language: Chinese
- Genre: Historical Drama
- Released: August 14, 2013
- Main Cast: Feng Shao Feng (Lan Ling), Ariel Lin (Yan Xue Wu), Daniel Chan (Yuwen Yong)
- Synopsis: A romance story enfolds when an ordinary girl, Yang Xue Wu encounters the handsome Prince Lan Ling. However, their identities challenges their love, with Yang Xue Wu being desired by many as she is dubbed as the Heavenly Maiden and Prince Lan Ling, having the need to protect his people from the corruption of the royal government, in which this obligation poses a threat to their relationship. Despite, the chain of events that stands in their way, they manage to pull through it all as a couple.
- Comments: Finally exams have finished and I am back to reviewing dramas! But anyways let’s get started with the storyline. The narrative is heavily dependent on romance (obviously) with a tad of politics weaving through it (and chemistry – I thought it was kind of hilarious how they incorporated it into the drama). I loved the interaction between our two main protagonists and how their love is impermeable by exterior forces (well most of the time). Besides the two main characters, I was quite fond of Xiao Dong and An De Wang (he’s such a funny guy – pulling all those suss jokes). It’s kind of sad to see Xiao Dong leave so early and how can they just cut him off like that – it all happened pretty abruptly. I find An De Wang’s flirting moments really awkward and painful to watch – it was just so awkward. The acting, I must say, was pretty good. But, Ariel’s performance was kind of weak. I think it had something to do with the way she delivered her lines – it didn’t flow naturally. Feng Shao Feng. Need I say anything about his acting? His performance was just amazing – he took us on a roller-coaster ride of emotions.
- I seriously didn’t like the female costumes! They looked atrocious. The collars of Yang Xue Wu’s costume looked like those frills of the frilled-neck lizard. And at one point she looked like a Christmas tree, dressed in red and green and sporting a green wreath-like necklace. It was just plain awful. That’s not all, Xiao Lian’s Empress costume was bright and colourful – the colours didn’t seem to blend in well with each other – it resembled a kid’s fairy costume. But, the male costumes were likeable. I loved Prince Lan Ling’s costume, especially the costume with the black feathers and rich red and black. He looked amazing in it.
- It’d be nice if they had a more wider range of settings (there wasn’t much to Yuwen Yong’s palace) and a different selection of the women’s costume. But, other that it was pretty good! I totally recommend it to you guys!
- Title: Palace
- Chinese Title: 宮鎖沉香
- Language: Chinese
- Genre: Historical Drama
- Released: August 13, 2013
- Main Cast: Chen Xiao (as Yin Xiang), Zhou Dongyu (Chen Xiang), Zhao Liying (Liu Li), Lu Yi (as Yin Zheng)
- Rough Summary: Started off as palace maids, Liu Li and Chen Xiang are on good terms with each other, until the princes cross their paths. Liu Li, ambitious for power and affluence, becomes a scheming woman and won’t stop at anything to climb to the top of the hierarchy. But as for Chen Xiang, power and affluence meant nothing to her. It was the love for her prince that she treasured most. Regardless of the suffering that she has to overcome, her heart will still remain by his side.
- Comment: I am really excited to watch this movie. Judging by the posters and photos, the movie looks like it’s going be of very high quality. And, the costumes are just magnificent – I mean look how amazing Zhao LiYing’s hanfu is! But as most of you may or may not know, the movie is directed by Yu Zheng – the very same director of Gong and Gong II. And this movie is supposedly a spin-off of the Gong series. The Gong dramas have received mixed reactions from viewers and I have read a lot of negative comments about these two dramas. So, this movie could also suffer the same consequence. But personally, I enjoyed Gong and Gong II. Yeah, there were some really cheesy moments and the acting could be overly cutesy, but the story was entertaining to watch. Regardless, I’m still anticipating this movie because the graphics look promising and the cast comprises a strong assortment of actors, most notably Chen Xiao and Zhao LiYing.
- Title: Monstar
- Korean title: 몬스타
- Language: Korean
- Episodes: 12
- Released: May 17 2013
- Main Cast: Yong Joon Hyung (Yoon Sul-Chan), Ha Yeon Soo (Min Se Yi), Kang Ha Neul (Jung Sun Woo), Kim Min Young (Sim Eun-Ha), Park Kyu-Sun (Do Nam), Kang Ui-Sik (Park Kyu-Dong), Da Hee (Kim Nana), Moon Yong Suk (Ma Joon Hee), Ahn Nae-Sang (Han Ji Woong)
- Synopsis: Under unusual conditions, a group of psychologically challenged students are forced to spend time together. Little by little, they each begin to develop an understanding for one another and they start to embrace this new-found (or for some – a renewed) friendship.
Comment: A lot of issues pertaining to an average student’s life is discussed in this series: family, sense of belonging, a misunderstanding that drew apart a friendship, love and acceptance. This short drama tackles quite a lot of issues that most of us had or are dealing with in school. And most of it is not very pretty. It brings out the harsh truth behind an image of a normal school kid. And it is music that becomes their medicine and a home they can return to. But as well as revealing some of these ugly realities, humour is also incorporated to lighten up the mood. And this is achieved by including the arrogant celebrity, Yoon Sul-Chan into the story.
No. It’s not another one of those celebrity-type dramas. It’s much more than that. It reminds us that even celebrities are humans and that they too have their own demons to vanquish. By placing Yoon Sul-Chan in a school setting, his celebrity image becomes slightly degraded to a normal human being – like you, like me. And you start to think, they’re not much different to us. Besides Yoon Sul-Chan, Min Se-Yi is also another protagonist of the story. Don’t worry, she is not like one of those annoying female characters. I think you will like her. She’s definitely the gem of the drama.
Let me just say, I absolutely love this drama! I’ve still got two more episodes until the end. But still – it’s amazing. The drama doesn’t drag, has a good cast, good story-line and a good balance of humour that doesn’t destroy the plot. Also, Ha Yoen Soo’s amazing. Combined with her adorable looks and dazed expression, she makes Min Se-Yi a lovable character – not only to the viewers but also the characters that she’s surrounded by in the drama.
And I must add, the ost is amazing – maybe you might want to check it out as well as the drama. Hope you will like the drama as much as I did.
- Another name: Mermaid Tale / Legend of Mermaid
- Chinese title: 追鱼传奇
- Language: Chinese
- Episodes: 36
- Released: 2013 July 13
- Main Cast: Zhao Liying (Hong Ling), Kenny Kwan, Dai Jiao Qian, Ting Allen
- Genre: Romance, Chinese Mainland
- Synopsis: Hong Ling is an innocent, niave mermaid, who is oblivious to the world beyond the waters of her own world. One day, she happens to upset the Sea King and is sent to the human realm. In this new world, she meets a human boy, who she will eventually fall in love with. Initially, things may appear to be a joke for Hong Ling, but later the consequences of her actions comes at a much larger price than she will have imagined.
Comment: I haven’t watched this series yet – only the trailer. Judging by the trailer, it is one of those series that we’ve seen in the markets already. It’s been done, and seen. The only thing that’s different is the mermaid concept? Okay, because she’s a mermaid who’s lived under the sea her entire life, she’s clueless about love and deals with things in a childish, naive manner. According to that 20 minutes trailer, the story seems under-developed. Because right now, it just looks like a country girl moving into an urban city, in which she will discover love and encounter hardships in a human populated setting. Also, I can’t stand Zhang Liying’s cutesy acting in this one. It’s just not my thing (never was), but maybe it is for you – I don’t know. I really liked her in The Female Prime Minister though, but in Mermaid Tale… not so much (She’s a great actor nonetheless. I’m anticipating her next film, The Palace!).
But other than that, I thought the effects looked decent, minus the sea creatures that Hong Ling summoned to teach the humans a lesson. Other than that, some of the scenes were pretty good-looking.
Enough of me rambling, I’ll let you be the judge, yourself.
English Title: Empresses in the Palace
Synopsis: Zhen Huan, a young, innocent woman enters the palace for the selection of new imperial concubines. She, having no desire of being one of the Emperor’s many wives, gets chosen. Initially a kind-hearted, young woman, Zhen Huan begins to adapt to the harem’s way. In order to survive her days in the palace, she too, must be manipulative and calculative.
Comments: I haven’t completed this series yet and I don’t intend to, because it seemed to be a drag. I didn’t really enjoy this drama and the cast weren’t to my liking. The actors here, delivered their lines in a rather boring tone, so it would be rather difficult to continue watching the rest of the 76 episodes. Sun Li (who’s playing Zhen Huan) has the good looks, but her character wasn’t as I expected it to be. I’ve always envisaged Zhen Huan to be good-natured and righteous. But, here I thought Sun Li’s portrayal of Zhen Huan wasn’t very convincing, that this elegant, fragile image was all just a facade, that something malevolent is hidden beneath it all. She just doesn’t appear all that innocent to me. And, there’s the king – not very satisfied, but that’s just how it is back in the days, right? Despite the negatives, I do have some positive remarks. The costume is amazing! And the headdress is just wow – such an amazing range of intricate designs.
- Another name: The Female Prime Minister
- Language: Chinese
- Episodes: 59
- Released: 2013
- Main Cast: Chen Xiao (Gao Zhan / Prince Changguang), Zhao Li Ying (Lu Zhen), Qiao Ren Liang (Gao Yan), Yang Rong (Guan Yin)
- Genre: Romance, Period
- Synopsis: Originally from a well-off family, Lu Zhen is forced to leave her home due to a false accusation made by her stepmother of murdering her father. Habouring feelings of vengeance for her father, she enters the palace, in hopes of obtaining a position as a high ranking minister to re-investigate and bring justice to her father’s death. Once she steps through the gates of the palace, she becomes involved in a series of events of the royal harem and gets intertwined in a relationship that is disapproved and envied by many.
I’m actually enjoying this drama a lot – so much that I watched it without English subs when there was none available. Don’t worry, I understood a bit of it. I don’t know the historical side to the story so I’m not sure if the drama portrayed it accurately. But the plot is quite interesting, compared to other dramas. Yes, you still have the scheming women of the royal court, manipulating people and using them at their own disposal – a lot of evil plots and betrayal – all for the sake of love and power. However, Lu Zhen, staying true to her nature and holding tightly to the belief that women are just as capable as men, uses her own abilities to climb to the top and garners popularity and trust through her kindness. As you can see, you don’t get the average, weak girl that you normally see in dramas, which is a refreshing change. Despite all the chaotic misfortunes that they encounter, Lu Zhen and her partner’s love remains strong and true.