Assorted media

Sun, Jan. 10th, 2010 07:13 am
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Back in Taiwan! Sadly, only here for another few days before school starts and I have to go back to the US.

三槍拍案驚奇/A Simple Noodle Story - 張藝謀/Zhang Yimou's newest movie, and a damn weird one too. It's based off of the Coen Brothers' Blood Simple, but from what [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija says, this one is actually more Coen Brothers-esque than the original! A murder takes place in a tiny noodle shop in a deserted region of China, and half-hilarious, half-grotesque hijinks ensue. It has Zhang Yimou's now-signature color-coding and beautiful camera-work and all the violence and awkwardness of the Coen Brothers, with the addition of noodle throwing and a truly bizarre song-and-dance sequence at the end. I don't think I'd recommend it unless you're really up for something weird, and I'm still not sure I enjoyed it, but it was definitely an experience!

花木蘭/Mulan - With 趙薇/Zhao Wei/Vicki Zhao from 赤壁/Red Cliff (she played 孫尚香/Sun Shangxiang). An adaptation of the story of Hua Mulan, done with lots of extras, battles, and etc. I didn't remember much of the original poem at all when I watched this, save the loom and the twelve years, but it's interesting to see that the visit to the emperor is canonical! The beginning feels more like the Disney Mulan, though with less emphasis on the disappointment. I thought it was interesting that they still stuck with her sneaking off, especially since the press I've seen on this indicates that the director really wanted to make something different from the Disney version. However, most of the movie is not on Mulan's personal growth to accept who she is; rather, since she's in battle for twelve years, most of it is about her becoming a great general. The director also set this in the Wei Dynasty battling the Rouran nation (tribe? It feels weird using "nation" pre-nation-state-formation, but "tribe" feels so dismissive). Unsurprisingly, the Rouran are portrayed as more barbaric with furs and skins and such, but the movie mostly lays the blame on one Rouran ruler rather than all the people. And the Rouran princess was unexpectedly awesome and part of one of my favorite parts of the movie.

Spoilers )

Overall, more character development and less wuxia than I had expected. Some pacing problems, but I enjoyed it a lot.

終極三國/K.O. 3anguo - OMG people. Someone in Taiwan has remade Romance of the Three Kingdoms as HIGH SCHOOL AU! Like, this was actually filmed! Since I was only able to get through 15 minutes of it, that is all I can report on. 關羽/Guan Yu and 張飛/Zhang Fei have been kicked out of way too many schools, and when they meet a guy named 劉備/Liu Bei, he promises he can get them in one. There are also four time travelers (don't ask me).

All seven of the guys I have met so far have distinctly different hairstyles, which is really an accomplishment in and of itself. It was very handy for character identification.

Also, Guan Yu presses a button on his watch to magically zap his weapon into existence.

And then, the time travelers drop a coin which ends up tipping over a boulder that squashes Liu Bei right after the three swear to be brothers. (Seriously, don't ask me.)

I am not even describing the extremely bizarre and strange sound effects, visual effects (picture the heads of Guan Yu and Zhang Fei on little cartoon bodies), and plot or complete lack thereof. And did I mention the time travelers? That's about when I stopped watching!

One of my friends says it is fairly popular in Taiwan. I am completely at a loss.

Sherlock Holmes - I succumbed and watched! It was suitably funny and snarky, though I didn't appreciate the totally-non-subtext of "Women ruin everything between two men!" I desperately wanted to love the Irene Adler character, but she needed a much better actress. They really should have cast someone with the chops to stand up to Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law, but sadly, they seem to have gone for looks instead. The movie also continues the rule that Satanism in fiction makes things funnier (thankfully, the movie was not very serious about the Satanism). And finally, although I am sure I will enjoy the snarky Holmes/Watson that fandom is inevitably writing right now, what I really want is fic with a much snarkier Irene Adler outwitting Holmes a lot.
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Wah, no more! It's not even that good, but I am still a bit homesick for Taiwan, and now I do not even have episodes left of this to watch.

Spoilers have more plot twists than I can keep track of )

Overall, although this drama has great production values, I don't think I'd rec it unless you like labyrinthe plots that don't particularly make sense and chase scenes. The gender roles largely suck, the plot has a ton of holes, and I dislike half of the main character duo, but I still watched because hey, Taiwan!

My favorite parts are probably the slapstick between Ying Xiong and Chen Zai Tian and the gruff "I will not admit I actually like you so instead I glare at you for getting stuff wrong" thing that Ying Xiong does. I keep feeling this should be slashy like whoa, and yet, it's not for me, largely because I find Chen Zai Tian completely unattractive. This is particularly sad because Vic Zhou was actually hotter in Mars, even though his hair in Mars was about a zillion times worse. There's sadly less of the partnership in later episodes, but there's plenty of cracktastic plot twists to make up for that!
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Woe! Leaving Taiwan in a few hours; so not ready for vacation to be over. On the plus side, California will have much better weather...

Spoilers have more drama tropes! )

In conclusion: only missing amnesia!

Also, how is the director's drama White Tower compared to this and Mars? This I am mostly watching for the crack, the shiny production values, and Mark Zhao being intense and hot; Mars I really loved.
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I am completely not caught up on LJ or DW so have probably missed a ton.

My dad actually watched one episode of this without me, so I guess he is somewhat interested!

However, when I told him it was set in Kaohsiung, he said, "How come no one speaks Taiwanese then?"

It's also very odd (to say the least) watching a show set in southern Taiwan with news of the typhoon.

Spoilers have no respect for other people's angst )
oyceter: (dramas dramas dramas)
(Chinese title: 痞子英雄)

陳在天/Chen Zai Tian (周渝民/Vic Zhou) and 吳英雄/Wu Ying Xiong (趙又廷/Marc Chao) are both cops in Kaohsiung, but while Zai Tian is a bit of a goof who doesn't take anything seriously, Ying Xiong maybe is a little too intense and has the tendency to go off on his own to try to solve things without telling his supervisors. The two of them are stuck together as partners thanks to their both messing up a key crackdown. Meanwhile, someone is manufacturing Dreamer, a new hallucinogenic drug, in the city, and the case soon balloons to involve the local mob and probably corrupt city officials.

This is an extremely shiny new drama by the director of Mars and White Tower with extremely nice production values. So far, there's been an extended action sequence on the subway and a lot of fancy camerawork (for dramas, at least), and the overall impression is that a lot of money was poured into this. Also, a CGI plant attempted to molest drug dealer 高義/Gao Yi (played by 王傳一/Kingone!!).

So far, although the two female characters are not bad, I wish there were more overall. 藍西英/Lan Xi Ying is a forensic scientist who seems to have loved Ying Xiong from afar, and 陳琳/Chen Lin is the daughter of the mob boss. Xi Ying is sadly not as cool as Scully (then again, who is?), but Chen Ling kind of kicks ass. She is tiny and looks elfin and pixie-like and all those other horrible adjectives, and she kicks Zai Tian's ass in their meet cute. She also goes from deceptively cute to serious to shooting at people through doors in a blink of an eye. Alas, there has been no ass-kicking since, but I foresee a lot of angst given her status as daughter of the mob boss and Zai Tian and Ying Xiong's position on the police force.

Unsurprisingly, Zai Tian (the 痞子 of the title) has a Tragic Background, since he is being played by Vic Zhou and must eventually become the hero of the drama. However, so far, he's mostly just kind of annoying. I like Ying Xiong much better. It helps that Marc Chao is kind of hot (leather jacket!) and much, much buffer than Vic Zhou, who had more muscle in Mars and is scrawny here and really does not look like he could take anyone down in here. Plus, I have even stopped being weirded out by Ying Xiong's name—it is "hero" in Chinese! I feel this is one case in which people could translate the name instead of transliterate to get the startle effect that the Chinese-speaking audience probably has (translating Chinese names is one of my pet peeves).

It also took me a while to realize the drama was set in Kaohsiung. It's all shiny! It makes me want to visit, even though it will be EVEN HOTTER AND MORE HUMID. But I spent several episodes puzzling over the opening sequence zoom through the city skyline, thinking, "I don't recognize those buildings! Where is 101 and all the other famous Taipei buildings? I feel there is not a bridge like that in Taipei!" In my defense, the few glimpses of the subway system looked a lot like the MRT!

Then again, I've only been on the MRT a few times, as the bus is more convenient for where we are.

But just... it makes Taiwan look all sophisticated and shiny and modern! I am unaccustomed to this!

Spoilers unintentionally make me laugh )

In conclusion: so far, interesting break from my usual trendy dramas, and finally something I can watch with my dad without his interrupting every three seconds to complain about why I like something in which the characters scream at each other all the time.

... well. They still do that here, but for reasons my dad would probably approve of more (explosions and mob chasing instead of romantic mishaps).
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Completely OT: People! There is a new McKillip out and no one told me! You're all fired.

Zhang Jinghan has just gotten a divorce and moved into a new apartment when she discovers that her new neighbor is none other than Zuo Shaotang, who embarrassed her in front of the entire high school at graduation by accidentally pulling off all her clothes. She doesn't realize that he's had a crush on her ever since high school, and she vows to ruin his life in any way possible. To split rent, she ends up with two roommates: runaway rich girl Liang Jiaxin and figure skating country girl Yu Qiaole.

I watched this during the summer in Taiwan, and while I wasn't impressed when I started, it's the drama that I find myself remembering the most fondly now. It's much more sitcom-y than most trendy dramas, and you have to ignore the random product placement for iced tea and facial care products, but what sets it apart is the lack of female rivalry! And not just that, but a great focus on female friendship and sisterhood; the three apartment mates are different ages, and by the end, they're acknowledging each other as family and friends. The other nice bit was that the main romance is one I actually believe in. The two banter and argue like many drama couples, but they also completely grok each other.

It does take a while for this to get going. The opening few episodes are particularly slapstick, and they begin with a plot arc that I loathe with a burning passion. I didn't particularly like Jinghan or Shaotang at the beginning, even though I felt I should like Jinghan's Miyazawa Yukino-esque switches from being a perfect lady and career woman to uphold her image to being the vengeful, scheming, hard-hearted person she actually is. Eventually, though, I ended up adoring Jinghan, who has absolutely no emotional self-knowledge but is very good at her job, and I love that her personality stays on through the end.

Like many dramas, the ending leaves something to be desired, though it's not as bad as some I've seen. Still, it was so relieving to find a drama that doesn't have women competing against each other and resorting to lowball tactics for men! And despite the broad comedy and the product placements and some tired drama cliches (particularly when it comes to Yu Qiaole's story), I actually find myself wanting to rewatch for the comfort value and the friendship among all the leads.

Mars, ep. 15-20

Sat, Jul. 12th, 2008 10:36 pm
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Wow, I really love this drama. It does have many of the same flaws that the manga does, as it largely follows the same plot, but the script and the actors make some small changes that end up making me much happier about the plot and the characterization. The drama is also much tighter than the manga and less sensational and gothic, so in the end, the focus on Ling and Qi Luo as a couple and as individuals is tighter.

I'd rec this for people who love the manga, with a note that the drama doesn't get rid of all the gender issues, and I'd definitely rec this to people looking for a good, solid romance. I am probably more invested than people new to the series would be, but I think the drama alone does a good job of showing the stages of a relationship that come after the meet-cute. Though there are many of the same Big Misunderstandings that come with romantic dramas, my favorite part about the series is that Ling and Qi Luo amazingly talk to each other and trust each other, as opposed to leaping to conclusions. I also adore Qi Luo's friendship with another girl, and though many of their conversations are about romance, there's also the feel that it's a good, solid friendship that goes beyond talking about boys.

Spoilers for all the manga and the drama )

In conclusion: love Ling, absolutely adore Qi Luo, and am tempted to watch the entire thing again.

Mars, ep. 10-14

Thu, Jul. 10th, 2008 08:22 am
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I think I am now sort of maybe completely and totally obsessed with this drama. As in, I replay bits and reread the manga to see exactly what's been changed and speculate if the drama writers were using the Chinese translation I have (probably) and look forward to watching the next episode all day long. I am not exactly sure how this happened, as I have already read the entire series two or three times and the drama hasn't changed that much, but clearly it's not narrative suspense. Mostly I just want to see more of the characters interacting.

Spoilers through 3/4 of v. 8 of the manga )

Please use <span style="color:#333;background:#333">spoiler text</span> for any further spoilers of the manga! I've read the entire series, but other people may not have.

Mars, ep. 01-09

Mon, Jul. 7th, 2008 08:28 am
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Mars is based on the manga by Soryo Fuyumi, only set in Taiwan. Good girl artist Han Qi Luo (Aso Kira in the manga) and bad boy motorcyclist Chen Ling (Kashino Rei in the manga) meet cute when he asks her for directions and she responds by drawing him a map. He's fascinated by the sketch on the back, and he ends up awkwardly attempting to befriend her by being a pest.

[livejournal.com profile] tatterpunk lured me in with the promise that Barbie Xu's Qi Luo is well acted, and that the setting has changed from high school to college. The setting change is a huge plus for me, as certain events at the end of the manga are much easier to take if all the characters are graduating from college. And so far, though Vic Zhou is cute, Barbie Xu takes the cake. It helps that Vic Zhou has incredibly horrible hair, but really, I like how Xu portrays Qi Luo, particularly her body language, which is always very restrained and contained.

So far, the plot has been very closely following that of the manga (it's roughly halfway through v. 5 right now). They've consolidated a few minor characters, and they're foreshadowing some plot twists earlier; both changes work for me. I've also found that though I reread the series last fall for Yuletide, I've forgotten a lot of moments between Qi Luo and Ling. The drama manages to make some of them much more memorable for me, though part of that may just be because I see them endlessly replayed in the opening and closing sequences. But there's a sweetness to the kiss across the subway turnstiles that I adore, and overall, the drama is making me remember why I loved the manga so much when I first read it.

The most striking thing so far is how early Qi Luo and Ling get together; there are very few Big Misunderstandings or love triangles, and the ones that are in the drama are sorted out fairly quickly and sanely. I have an added appreciation for Da Ye (Tatsuya in the manga) and Qing Mei (Harumi in the manga); I particularly love Megan Lai's Qing Mei, who has a bad temper and resorts to violence and swearing as often as possible. Qi Luo and Ling are also just really sweet as a couple. Even though Ling is annoying to Qi Luo in the beginning, there's a sense that it's clumsiness on his part, not actually aggressive behavior. And you see why Qi Luo falls for him; he is actually tries really hard to be considerate, despite his occasional giant blind spot.

The drama's currently at the point in which we're getting eight revelations a minute about Ling's Tragic Backstory, and I wish Qi Luo had more to do than sit there solemnly and listen, but I'm hoping Barbie Xu gets much more to do when we get to Qi Luo's Tragic Backstory.

On a minor note, while motorcycle races are slightly more interesting on TV than on paper, I still find them pretty boring. Also, I hate the drama version of Qi Luo's painting of Ling.

Right now, this is the best tdrama I've watched, and fairly high up there with other loved drama series, though that may also be because I'm already emotionally invested in the characters and the story, thanks to the manga.

Please use <span style="color:#333;background:#333">spoiler text</span> for any spoilers of the manga! I've read the entire series, but other people may not have.
oyceter: (dramas dramas dramas)
NOTE: My episode numbering may be entirely wonky, as it is based on the Taiwan DVDs.

Well, I'm glad this one didn't dive off a cliff like Why Why Love!

Overall, Sweet Relationship is a fairly cute drama about food and restauranting. The writing isn't particularly good, and all the characters are incredibly stupid about romance many times, complete with unintentionally hilarious angsty scenes, but I ended up watching it because I did genuinely care about the heroine and especially about the restaurant she starts working at. Also, every so often, one character or another will expound on food and cooking in great detail! I don't know how much of it is accurate, but who cares?

Clearly I will watch almost anything about food!

Spoilers )

In conclusion: entertaining, often very frustrating, relatively worth it in the end, though not spectacular or solid by any means.
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Note: thanks to wonky Taiwan DVD episode re-cutting, all my episode numbers are off.

I give up! If I watch one more minute of this, I will die of a brain aneurysm.

Spoilers )
oyceter: (dramas dramas dramas)
Spoilers )

So, since Devil Beside You got a unanimous no: Are any other Rainie Yang dramas worth watching? How about other Mike He dramas? I am so charmed that I am even willing to endure really bad hair (Hi! You both have really cute smiles! I am even watching bits of WWL that drive me crazy to see you both do your goofy grins!)!
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Note: Taiwan apparently re-cuts episodes when they create the DVDs so that the episodes are actually shorter than the ones that air. This makes absolutely no sense to me, but anyway, that's why all my episode ordering will be wonky.

This is really not a great drama. The romances are boring, the hero is completely unattractive, the heroine is not quite too stupid to live, but only barely, and there is little to no character development. On the other hand, I keep watching because I have watched so much already that I feel I deserve to see the end, and because I am invested in the drama of what happens to the restaurant Little Bear, and what happens with Bai Hui, Zi Tian, and He Ma's culinary careers. Also, though the actress who plays Bai Hui only has three expressions, I am sort of won over by Bai Hui's endless optimism and complete lack of a clue. Plus, in her defense, the actor playing Zi Tian is even worse! I think he only has two expressions: teeny smile and angry stare.

My mom and dad also keep making occasionally funny, occasionally annoying comments while I watch:

DAD: What restaurant is that?
ME: Amour.
DAD: Where is it?
ME: ... I don't think we can actually go eat there.
DAD (disappointed): Oh.

MOM: Look at Zai Zai [Vic Zhou's nickname in Taiwan]!
DAD: His hair is so ugly!
MOM: It's better than when he was in F4 [Taiwan boy band].
DAD: What's wrong with all the guys' hair! I look at that and think the hygiene in the kitchen must be very bad. Who would want to eat there?

DAD: What? They're drinking red wine out of those glasses? What kind of a restaurant is that?
ME: They're using the bottle as a flower vase, Daddy. Look, they put flowers in it.
DAD (sniffs): Oh. (pause) That makes a very ugly vase. Also, why don't they have a tablecloth? They should have one. Well, not all good restaurants have to have one, but only if the table is very special or made of good wood.

MOM: Who would want to date a guy like that? I would never date a guy like that! He never says anything and you end up feeling stifled.
CHARACTER ON SCREEN (to aforementioned guy): I feel so stifled!
MOM: See!

DAD: How come everyone is always either crying or yelling at each other?
MOM: Aiya, Daddy ah, you don't understand. That's just how young people talk these days.
DAD (sniffs): The actors we see never talk like that.
MOM: We're not watching the popular stuff. We are not young people now!
DAD: The older ones were better.

Spoilers make me fall off the sofa laughing )

Spoilers and talk about gender and cooking )
oyceter: (dramas dramas dramas)
Er, I succumbed to the cute...

Also, it helped a lot that standard drama romance fluffiness took center stage. The class issues are obviously still there, but more on your standard romance level than on the very realistic yet very not portrayal in the first few episodes.

Spoilers )

So: Devil Beside You. Same cast, good reviews... worth a watch?
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Tong Jia Di and her friend are temping at a department store event. As it turns out, her friend's idea for their booth is to sell IOU certificates. Through a series of only-happens-in-dramas events, the cute young CEO of and son of the family that owns the department store ends up getting an IOU certificate that promises him Jia Di as a girlfriend and the cute younger brother of the CEO and the black sheep of the family gets an IOU certificate that promises him Jia Di as a helping angel who'll follow his orders.

Oh, the sketchy, it writes itself!

Further complications ensue, and Jia Di ends up with a crush on CEO (Huo Yan) but is under the command of his brother Huo Da. Huo Da also has a crush on his childhood friend who is now Huo Yan's second-in-command, Yang Yan Xu, who of course has a crush on CEO. My head spins!

What distinguishes this from the other Taiwan dramas I've been watching is the writing and the acting. I'm particularly glad that this doesn't seem to be manga-based. Anyway, Jia Di is my favorite Taiwan drama heroine so far: her family is deeply in debt, she's twenty and working her ass off to pay things off, her mother runs a fruit cart, her brother dreams of being a model while spending money on stupid things, and she's not afraid to yell at Huo Da (wastrel younger brother of CEO). I could definitely use less of the angelic determination to find satisfaction in things like scrubbing toilets, but by and large, Jia Di reads as a tired young woman who's trying really hard not to be worn out by life, not as an eternally cheerful and self-sacrificing shoujo heroine.

I also like Huo Yan a lot, although he's clearly doomed romantically by dint of being the Nice Guy, and I fully believe in Huo Da's jerkiness.

Unfortunately, in this case, the acting and the writing are actually working against the drama. I believe so much in Jia Di's money issues that every time Huo Da mocks her for being stingy or penny-pinching or a grubby money-lover or tells her she's complaining when she asks him to not take away from her job time, I want to punch him in the face. I do give the actor props in that I only want to strangle Huo Da when he's talking about money to Jia Di; if he weren't so charming, I would want to strangle Huo Da all the time.

Coffee Prince has a very similar set up, yet I don't mind as much because it feels more fantastic and fun. Jia Di's mother in particular is heartbreaking and maddening: she dotes on her younger son and places so much responsibility on Jia Di, and yet it's difficult to be angry at her when she looks so tired all the time. I think we also get a clearer picture of Jia Di's financial situation; we know Eun Chan didn't go to college to support her family, but Jia Di tallies up her family's debts and we see her uncle gambling money away on stocks and get-rich-quick schemes and we see how just getting a wedding invitation makes Jia Di's mother even more bitter because it's just another expense.

I am sure all this is supposed to get me rooting for her fairy-tale ending, but mostly it makes me want to slap Huo Da and Jia Di's brother for being arrogant, spoiled jerks. Instead of cheering for her getting together with one of the two rich brothers, I want her to win the lottery, pay off her family's debts so she can leave with a clear conscience, and go live for herself for a long, long time.

On a side note, it's also frustrating to see fairly well-written characters get into all sorts of misunderstandings based on mixed messages, just-missed meetings, or words taken out of context.

So, is it worth it to keep watching? I really like Jia Di a lot, but I am having major class issues with the story, particularly in the attempts to do the "being poor is just fine because it means you have a better work ethic" with Jia Di when everything else in the narrative points to the contrary. Paradoxically, it's because Jia Di's situation is portrayed with less of the drama shine that makes the class issues that much harder to take.
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So far, I have very little to do here save eat and watch TV. I've also been going to calligraphy lessons and cooking lessons with my mom, both of which are very fun, although my calligraphy is still pretty ugly. For cooking, we learned how to make Dong Po pork, salty eggs with pumpkin, pipa tofu, some stewed meat, winter melon tomato soup, and bao.

As you all can probably tell, I've also been mainlining dramas like mad. I just found out that Blockbuster charges by every two episodes as opposed to per disc, grrrr. Still, cheaper than buying and faster than downloading. Also, it makes me practice my Chinese (subtitles for the kdramas, spoken for the cdramas). I've decided not to keep watching the Taiwan Hana Kimi, as it seems to be the same thing over and over, and I am much less invested in Sano's high jumping than in restauranteering. I also caught an episode of the Taiwan Honey and Clover, and I think I will also not watch that, as the actress who plays Hagu has an incredibly annoying fake baby voice, and as they seem to be putting in more romance twists. The humor works better in animation as well.

And now, giant pictures of food! And some scenery. But mostly food.

Huge pictures )
oyceter: (dramas dramas dramas)
Chang Bai Hui's father is a renowned chef, and for her college graduation, he's rented out an entire fancy French restaurant and cooked the entire meal himself. Unbeknownst to both of them, the actual chef, Fang Zi Tian, was never told of this, and ends up throwing out the beef consomme as well as flouncing out and quitting. The consomme (now substituted with Zi Tian's via the magic of the freezer and a quick-thinking cook) is the last taste Bai Hui gets of her father's cooking (or so she thinks) before he drops dead.

This is apparently based on a manga, Oishii Kankei, although it looks like some minor plot points were changed (namely, the father-as-chef bit). Bai Hui finds out she's broke and largely useless, and meanwhile, He Ma Yang has begged Zi Tian to take him on as a disciple. They all end up meeting when Bai Hui stumbles across the restaurant Zi Tian cooks for, the family-style Little Bear. Overtaken by the taste of the beef consomme, which reminds her of her father, Bai Hui begs Zi Tian to let her work there, saying that she has to stay around the restaurant that has the taste of her father's cooking.

As one does.

So far, I have decided the actor playing Zi Tian is very cute, the actor playing He Ma is pretty cute, and the actress playing Bai Hui is pretty lousy. Bai Hui herself is largely useless, and I frequently want to whap her over the head for having no common sense. I realize this is a drama and I have a fairly low standard, but seriously! There's one scene in which she's looking for #776 on a street:

BAI HUI: So... I came across 775 and 777, but where's 776?!
RANDOM GUY: It's across the street.
BAI HUI: What? Why isn't it in order? That makes no sense!
RANDOM GUY: Because all the odd numbers are on this side, and all the even numbers are across the street.
BAI HUI: What? I've never heard of anything like that!
RANDOM GUY: ... uh. We've only been doing it that way for the past five hundred years or so.
ME: ... wow. I have a new low standard for cdrama heroines.

Given my completely random sampling of Taiwan dramas, I have been somewhat annoyed at all the heroines, who are sappily sweet (perfectly fine, as hey, I read shoujo!), fakely sweet (very annoying and more the actress' fault than the character's), and really, really stupid (as in, stands in the middle of a street intersection hugging a stuffed animal and nearly gets run over by a car). I think they may rival romance novel heroines for spiritedness and Too-Stupid-To-Live-itis. My sister and other friends have confirmed this, so I don't think it's just me who thinks so.

That said, I am continuing to watch this because though Bai Hui is annoying and seems to think going over budget to make tasty salads for the restaurant is a good idea, she is also immensely in love with food and spends tons of screen time rhapsodizing over such-and-such dish, be it a fancy French salad or omelet rice. And she finally yelled at Zi Tian, so I am hoping she will grow a backbone, albeit probably in vain. Zi Tian dislikes everyone and had a bit of a misogynistic streak while Bai Hui begged him to hire her ("I hate pampered rich girls and how they cry all the time!"), but by and large, he strikes me as less of a woman-hater and more of an everyone-hater. Basically, he's the chef version of Sanzo.

So far, there have been the standard [insert occupation] trials to overcome, from the salad that keeps being sent back to Zi Tian's old rival, Gao Qiao, setting up shop in a fancy French restaurant down the street. It is cheesy and largely predictable and I don't care and am going to run out and rent more tomorrow! The characters spend their entire time onscreen thinking and talking and making and serving food! It makes me so happy!

... also, Zi Tian is really cute, and I'm dying to see if the actor can pull off falling in love with Bai Hui.

But mostly, food!
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  1. I have almost convinced my dad that he wants to give me tiny laptop, since it's not like he uses it anyway. Sadly, tiny laptop's trackpad right click button is broken, which is not good. It works with a mouse, but that will cut down slightly on portability. On the other hand, getting fairly good at typing on it now...

  2. Got Lasik on Monday. Currently eyes are a little dry and feel like I have contacts on, but I am still not over the fact that I can open my eyes and see things clearly! (I can't wear contacts.) My face feels so naked!

  3. The Blockbuster here has DRAMAS! BWAHAHAHAHA! So far, have watched eps. 1 and 2 of Legend, eps. 1 and 2 of the Taiwan version of Hana Kimi, and ep. 1 of Smiling Pasta. Sadly, Smiling Pasta is the one my mom bought and so far the least good of the bunch. I keep wanting to whack the heroine for playing dumb and cute. On the other hand, the secondary lead heroine seems interesting and wounded. Any recs for tdramas greatly appreciated! I think my mom is very happy that I am watching stuff in Chinese.

  4. Watched Warlords, the latest movie with Jet Li, Andy Lau, and Takeshi Kaneshiro. Unfortunately, was jetlagged and nearly fell asleep. Also, as everyone changes hairstyles and clothing every three scenes, I kept mixing up Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro's characters, despite knowing full well what they look like. I blame the scruffy facial hair. I think I will buy it anyway, as the rented DVD had English subtitles, so I can sic it on [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija when she visits, as who knows when it will come out in the US!
oyceter: (bleach parakeet of doom!)
(aka, Technicolor Female Assassin Squad!)

I was going to post screencaps, because this drama is absolutely gorgeous (except when it has plastic horses flying through the air or random black spandex screens), but I forgot and returned the Netflix DVD already.

But! [livejournal.com profile] shewhohashope has pictures in her post on eps. 1-3.

I am also not sure I can contribute anything that has not already been said by Rachel, Mely, or Sophia Jirafe, but I have been told that I should post anyway.

Also, unlike most dramas I post about, this one is available on Netflix. That was my not-so-subtle hint to people to rent it and watch it and cackle with glee.

Setting:
LATE SUI DYNASTY and possibly EARLY TANG DYNASTY CHINA (600s CE)
CHANG'AN, the capital city, mainly in a DARK DANK DUNGEON infested with SCORPIONS and an odd dragon-like statue with an EVIL SMILEY FACE
ASSORTED VILLAGES, doomed to be slaughtered

The Cast of Characters:
HONG FU, always dressed in red (except when she's in orange, but everyone still seems to think she is dressed in red), a FEMALE ASSASSIN who has been raised in the DARK DANK DUNGEON.

Her first love is DU GU CHENG, aka STONE-FACED GUY, who canonically has had no expressions ever since his TRAGIC BACKSTORY. However, as he sent her to YANG SU, aka EVIL COUNCILOR, who subsequently had her "physically examined" (read: stripped naked and thighs pried apart by a skanky old man), she seems to have given up on her love for STONE-FACED GUY, though she still exhibits traits of Stockholm Syndrome.

EVIL COUNCILOR also has an IDIOT SON whose name I did not catch.

The other TECHNICOLOR FEMALE ASSASSINS include YELLOW, whose name I also did not catch but is secretly a budding artist, and BAO QIN, aka BLUE, who either loves STONE-FACED GUY or has a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome, or both.

Eventually, HONG FU is ordered to kill LI JING, aka the INGENUE, a young scholar from the backwaters of China. He is very attached to his HORSE, named SIMPLETON. He seems to be able to do magical things with FENG SHUI.

The plot largely consists of HONG FU and LI JING running around together, attempting to avoid assassination, while HONG FU broods about her BLOODSTAINED HANDS OF ANGST (usually figurative, but occasionally literal) and LI JING comes up with the STUPIDEST SCHEMES EVER (he and IDIOT SON seem to be competing for the Angel School of Stupid Plans award, though I have to say, both of them have Angel beat hands down).

Spoilers (but you know you want to read!) )

I should probably post something about gender, as the series starts out interesting by having the woman as the stone-cold assassin and the man as the dumb ingenue, but unfortunately, the series seems to be intent on having Hong Fu stand aside while the men in her life enact stupid plans characterized by black spandex screens and the women fight each other over men.

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