I cannot believe that the year is coming to an end already! It feels like it was only just the start of 2013! Oh, how time flies! It just makes you look back and appreciate all the goodness that has come out of this year. It comes to the time for an end of year review and I really do appreciate the goodness that dramaland has given this year.
2013 has been one drama year for me (every year is a drama year for me!), though it was definitely much slower than 2012. I was actually quite slack with my drama watching for the first half of the year and only began to intensely drama during the second half of the year. With a heavier school load, I had no choice but to lighten up on my drama watching and this also meant choosing wisely with what I wanted to watch, which didn’t work out quite so well with some drama choices. But I did manage to do a lot of live-watching this year, which is something that I am very proud of. I also managed to watch a 73 ep drama, which is another thing which I am very proud of. I looked back at my 2012 End of Year Drama Review where I said that one of my resolutions for this year was to watch more dramas outside of hk-dramas but I don’t think I accomplished that. Anyhoo, I’ll just blame this on school which, really, is just an excuse to make me feel better of not achieving my goal.
There were quite a number of misses rather than hits this year which is quite disappointing but there were also a number of great hits. I didn’t get to see all the dramas that I wanted to see this year but I can always catch-up on it once I find some time in life. However, in generally, I think this year was quite a miss in terms of dramas. The reason why I was quite slack in terms of drama watching for the first half of the year was that there was any dramas that called out for me to watch it and furthermore, I have read reviews which have not been so positive about those dramas. It was during this half of the year that the dramaland picked up its game, especially in the k-drama verse.
I am going to have an even heavier school load next year which means less drama time for me but it won’t stop me from dramaing! Obviously school will be my priority but nothing is going to keep me away from dramas and blogging!
For this review, I am rating all of these dramas together for this year so the ratings will vary to the ratings on my ratings page. The ratings will be out of 5 stars.
Lan Ling Wang (AKA King of Lan Ling): 4/5 stars
This was the c-drama of the year and it didn’t disappoint. It was largely anticipated for well over a year and it wasn’t without reason. Featuring Ariel Lin, Feng Shao Feng and Daniel Chan as the leads, everyone was waiting to see what they could bring on-screen together. Oh, they brought a lot on-screen! They delivered a truly wonderful performance that I thoroughly enjoyed. Whether it was on-screen or backstage, the drama did not lack the charisma to push it through. I’m not entirely sure about the accuracy of the drama, but I do know that there were some tweaks to it to include the romance I greatly appreciated. I loved the fact how of this romance was incorporated into the historical context.
What really stuck out to me from this drama was the production. Whether it was the filming or the promotion posters, they were all wonderfully shot. Actually, I think it was the promotion posters that pushed me to watch this. It was beautiful, elegant and just in the posters alone it portrayed the chemistry that the leads had with each other.
While I thought all the characters were very well written, it was second male lead Daniel Chan’s Yu Wen Yong who stole the limelight for me. Yu Wen Yong was a character that was much more fleshed out compared to the other two leads despite having a lesser screentime than the two leads. YWY was a character with multiple layers which where very strategically unveiled through the different events that he had to face.
As a whole, this drama worked really well because it knew what elements to draw out and when to draw it out. I whole-heartedly enjoyed it, though admittedly, things started to drop after the first 20 eps.
# Le Jun Kai: 3/5 stars
I am glad that this was only a web-series because I don’t know how much fighting and blood I would have to see if this was a television drama. I checked it out because it was short and thank goodness for being short because the plot was only enough to sustain for 6 short eps. The characters could have been further developed but for a web-series, I think they were fleshed out enough. The plot was moving at a pace that was adequate for the characters to reach their destination within the appropriate time while allowing their personalities to be shown. I would have enjoyed this web-series much better if it hadn’t been dubbed but the dubbing did not affect the chemistry that Janine Chang and Peter Ho had with each other. I was pleasantly surprised with what they were able to deliver in such a short amount of time!
Hong Kong Dramas
A Change of Heart (AKA A Good Heart Goes Haywire): 2.5/5 stars
It sounded good on paper but on-screen it went haywire. The best thing about this drama was the first five eps, but it started to roll downhill afterwards. The writing for the start of the drama was actually really good and had potential to create a great drama but then once all the complications started to kick in, the drama found its potential falling. Everyone had some sort of revenge agenda with each other and this complicated relationship between them was what caused the downfall of the drama. This was because everyone was intertwined somehow and everything that happened felt pre-planned rather than a natural occurrence.
Those first five eps really got me to fall in love with the drama. It was such a blissful and joyous ride watching the relationship between Yiu Yat San (Bosco Wong) and Yuen Siu Gat (Niki Chow). They had amazing chemistry there but somehow the chemistry started to dilute after these first five eps. I liked their chemistry but they had trouble maintaining it through the 30 ep run which was something that was a terrible let down to the drama.
The ending really got me scratching my head because it was just crazy, crazy, and crazy. Everyone died or was injured because one another. Well, just don’t go near one of them or else you will be going on a very haywire adventure!
A Great Way To Care II: 3/5 stars
This drama was one of those with a great start but a not-so-great body. The first 5 eps were truly a wonderful watch but then it branched into something that wasn’t so. It was more police/crime based than it was a psychological based drama. Being a sequel, I was very unhappy with this because the prequel was excellent as a psychological based drama but here it really lacked the sense of being a psychological drama. It just felt like it was trying to reach there but never getting there. Also, as a sequel, it didn’t really feel like one except for including some of the previous casts and some attempted links to the prequel.
I did appreciate the drama for not forcing the romance between Ko Lap Yan (Alex Fong) and Cheuk Wai Kiu (Yoyo Mung). That what was a relationship that I didn’t feel the need to see all heated up and it was a good thing that it didn’t happen because they didn’t have the chemistry to portray such characters. I liked them as a mutual couple. Tavia Yeung did a good here, demonstrating what a versatile actress she is. Too bad the drama didn’t do such a good job.
Always and Ever: 2.5/5 stars
This was TVB‘s take on time-travelling and while it was time-travelling in the least sense and more so on taking the opportunity to do things right. The drama was split into three eras – ancient, pre-modern and modern, with each era telling a different love story for Circle Yuen (Bobby Au-yeung) and Phoneix Yeung (Esther Kwan). It was actually quite interesting to see what fate brought to them in each era. There so some parts to the drama which were really boring and draggy but the chemistry that Bobby and Esther had made up for it. They told the story in a very compelling way that made watching quite interesting.
The ancient era told the best story while the pre-modern era was quite boring. The modern era stood as the tie to the entire drama as putting a tie to the three different stories. On its own, the ancient erea was near perfect but it is a different story when combined with the other stories. The transition wasn’t as well-tuned as I would have liked which dragged down the overall quality of the drama. The pre-modern era was way too draggy for my liking and the story wasn’t well told. The modern era served as a nice conclusion to the drama. While there were lots of hits and misses, it was the ancient era that made me enjoy this more than I disliked it.
Awfully Lawful: 1.5/5 stars
Was this awful? Kinda. I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy it because it tried so hard to be humorous but its humour didn’t get through. I’m not saying that it wasn’t a humorous drama; there definitely was humour between the four leading guys but I just didn’t see through with what it brought to the drama. However, I did like the chemistry that the four guys had between them. Though as lawyers, they make quite incompetent ones.
Pinned as a court drama, it was something that it wasn’t. They only went to court for what, one to two times? That, in my eyes, definitely does not count as a court drama. I wished the drama actually incorporated in some more court elements, rather than have the court aspect sit on the sideline serving no real purpose. That was such a waste because this drama had no support or anything that could classify it as a court drama.
Beauty at War: N/A
I dropped it after six eps, so I am in no position to give it a rating. I had no idea what was going on and the five sxi that I sat through were a huge bore. The storyline was very complicated and messy and if that wasn’t confusing enough, there too many characters which added to the already tangly storyline. There were lots of great acting in these six eps alone but that alone is not enough to sustain a drama. The biggest problem with this drama was that there was too much going on with the introduction but it failed to get anything across. It was just very troubling to actually work out what was going on because the drama didn’t do a good job in telling us that. Given that I never finished it, I didn’t know how it turned out but I am glad that I didn’t stay for it to show.
Bounty Lady: 3.5/5 stars
With a lacklustre year, this drama was just the thing to round off the year. It was an unexpected win which I really enjoyed. It got me laughing and smiling endlessly. This was Kate Tsui‘s first venture into comedy and she did a wonderful job here, much better than what she did in Sniper Standoff. I thought chemistry would be a problem since he co-star Dayo Wong is 19 years her senior, but there was no problem about it, and in fact they delivered a very strong bond. It didn’t feel weird to see them fall for each other and when they did I found myself really excited to see them together. Dayo lead Kate remarkably well and Kate was able to follow his lead which allowed them to play two heartfelt characters. The drama also had a strong support cast and they helped to further the already strong premises of the drama. They added humour and lots of room for the characters to develop.
This drama was very light but it packed a punch to its weight. Whether it was the writing or the acting, the drama did well on all aspects. I enjoyed its delightful atmosphere and it is something that will certainly be able to cheer up anyone’s moody day. It wasn’t perfect but it certainly did everything that it could to be a joyous 20 ep ride.
Brother’s Keeper: 3.5/5 stars
This was a surprise hit for me. I didn’t have any expectations towards it but when I started watching it, I found myself really enjoying what I was seeing. Whether it was the plot or acting, they all took me by surprise. I absolutely loved loved loved the writing of this drama! It was very unpredictable right to the last minute which kept the rush running high throughout the entire drama. I had no idea where it was going to head but it had a very direction of which path it was heading on. This plot/genre is a rare gem but it worked and its fresh nature proved to be something that provided lots of space to bounce off in.
There were some amazing and surprising acting here. While most people expected Linda Chung to shine, it was actually Kristal Tin who won with her acting. Her character of Yiu Man Ying was written beautifully and Kristal brought life to her, allowing Man Ying to stand as a well-sculptured three-dimensional character. Ruco Chan also delivered a memorable performance on his par as the self-driven and determined Kiu Tin Sung/Sam. He was fierce and feisty!
Brother’s Keeper told a story on numerous levels. It was about identity, love and family but more importantly, it was about how the different paths that people take shapes them into a very unique person. I enjoyed it at many levels and loved it for its quirkiness.
Bullet Brain: 1/5 stars
Urgh, I don’t even want to write about this. Awful: the crappiest, direction-less drama of the year! It was boring, oh so very boring and made no sense whatsoever. I honestly had no idea what I was watching. It was such a shame because it was a huge waste of Wayne Lai‘s talent. Good thing that Tavia Yeung didn’t accept this drama. The drama tried to be innovative and while it did, it failed miserably on the writing front. Without that pointer of where to head, the plot went in random directions and made watching a misery. It felt like it wanted to head one way but then suddenly stopped short of that path and opted for a different route. That was what made the drama uneasy to watch. While I could see where it wanted Wayne’s Ko Dai Hei to go, it just never got close to that position.
Another thing that let down the drama was that the chemistry between the actors just weren’t there. Wayne and his co-star, Natalie Tong didn’t show it that they had any chemistry while on the non-romantic side there wasn’t much difference in terms of chemistry. That was a huge problem for the drama because watching them interact with each other felt like watching cardboard boxes trying to talk to each other, which just doesn’t work. This drama was a huge fail for me, not that I had much expectations towards it.
Friendly Fire: 3/5 stars
This was the crack court drama of the year, at least hk-drama wise. It was a fun watch and it was quite interesting to see a different side to law dramas. It spoke of the prosecutor side and they work to prove their clients innocent. The court cases were very interesting and made watching the outcome really fun. I thought that it was a nice tie between the court cases to the daily life of the characters. It was a writing which I felt flowed really nice. I enjoyed it for what it was worth and while it wasn’t much, it was a very fun 26 ep ride.
The two relationships were both ones which I rooted for. Tavia Yeung had lots chemistry with Michael Tse and Sammy Leung also had great chemistry with Sharon Chan. It was very nice seeing how these two couples interacted with each other to solve the different cases. I loved watching the different methods that the two couples had towards their relationship. The four leads lead the drama well and were what positioned the drama to have such a solid run.
Inbound Troubles: 3/5 stars
For the first half of the year, this was the only drama that rated reasonably well. It was a humorous watch which I did not expect. What I loved about it was that it used humour to tell of Hong Kong’s social situation which was such a bubbly way to create a light-hearty atmosphere. With comedic actors Wong Cho Lam and Roger Kwok, this drama had it all on good hands to be a great comical drama, and that it was. I loved it and had lots of laughs with it. While the writing could have been done better, I thought that was came on-screen was actually quite amazing. The plot had depth to it and it was something that was filled with substance. What I loved about this drama was that it placed the actors’ talents to good use while making it very relevant to the plot, such as allowing Cho Lam and Ivana Wong to show of their singing abilities. The actors had really good chemistry with each other and this helped to convey a light-hearted atmosphere. This drama has been confirmed for a sequel but I’m not quite sure with what I feel about it having a sequel.
Karma Rider: 2.5/5 stars
I found this drama to be quite an enjoyable watch even though it was the story wasn’t all that great. It was a a very laid-back, comfortable watching adventure that didn’t require too much concentration. I liked the premises of the drama as Butterfly Lovers and even though I liked the way the story behind it was told, I just couldn’t get past how slow the development was. That’s a huge problem that the drama faced because regardless of how much the story kept pushing forward, it just went on a really slow ride. At least something that this drama got right while most got it wrong was the drama and that kind of made up for the slow ride. I don’t think Priscilla Wong is an actress capable of leading a drama yet but at least she did a much better job here than in Reality Check.
I really enjoyed the opening and ending song themes which were both sung by Alfred Hui. I absolutely loved the two songs to bits and pieces. They were what really stole the show for me. He has such a beautiful voice that I get immediately attracted to his songs!
Missing You: 2/5 stars
I definitely do not miss this drama one bit. It wasn’t a bad drama but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. I love dramas with little case stories and while I did enjoy the cases here, I didn’t enjoy the execution of the drama. (I loved that some of the cases here were based on real-life stories.) The writing was decently well done; it followed a well structured plot and had no problem adhering on that path but it was the characters that weren’t well explored. The characters lacked depth and they were very shallow. This was especially evident for the leads, Hong Yu Fung (Linda Chung) and Sze Yik Him (Jason Chan) who, despite their heavy role, had one of the least explorations to them. The exploration to their relationship was even worse because they barely had any at all but they were just thrown together in the end. Linda did a good job in leading the drama but Jason has a lot of work to do before he can competently lead a drama himself. He didn’t do a good job here and this dragged down the drama heavily.
Reality Check: 2/5 stars
This was another one of those dramas which had a good start but a not-so-body. I really enjoyed the unique start that this drama had. It was something very different and had a very comfortable vibe to it. The first five eps were really fresh and pleasing to watch. I loved the way it was told, though the filming could have been done in more realistic way. It gave off a very sincere and loving feeling which I really appreciate. These five eps told its own story and did a great job at doing so. However, those feelings shifted away after the first five eps and what happened was that it told was some stories which have been overused way too frequently. They story might not have worked well but what the drama did do well on was that it built up some very strong and solid relationships. I really enjoyed watching Ha Yat Cheung/Summer (Ruco Chan)’s relationship with his adopted mother, Lau Tsui Wan (Louise Lee) and best friend Leung Chung Shun (Evergreen Mak).
Season of Love : 3/5 stars
I really enjoy the premises of short stories, especially ones based around romance. Each of the stories were five eps long which was perfect in allowing the main story to be told without being draggy. It allowed for the central plot to remain central without any side stories to deviate its path. I loved that although each of the stories were different, there were parallels between them which helps to link the entire drama together. Private investigator, Chu Cho On/Joe (Kenneth Ma) being present in each season was also a very nice way to tie the drama together. Each of the stories were told from a different perspective, sporting different views towards love. There were also different approaches towards love and it was watching how the different people approached this that made every story engaging to watch.
My favourite story was the Autumn season. The story was very unique and had a very interesting approach to the ending. This was basically stories within a story which was a very different way to bringing across the message that the season was about. I thought that Nancy Wu, Oscar Leung and Vincent Wong did a great job portraying the love triangle. They had great chemistry with each other really sold the story.
This drama might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a good thing that each of the stories were short. It is definitely worthwhile to give each of the short stories a watch, especially the Autumn story which was the best of the four.
Slow Boat Home: 1.5/5 stars
This was one slow ride home, but it was a very laid-back breezy ride. It played around with the rom-com setting trying to push different people together. While I enjoyed the concept of the drama, I just didn’t like what I saw on-screen. It was a fresh idea but just didn’t work. What happened was that it felt very confined for 25 eps and that caused severed dragginess. It kept revolving around the same circle of stories which was what lead to the drama’s dragginess. The plot was aimless just like Cheung Po Seng (Raymond Wong)’s life was aimless. Po Seng was one of those stereotypical characters that Raymond always gets cast in. Po Seng reminded me of his character in Gloves Come Off (AKA The Boxing King) and while I might like seeing him in these roles, I do want to see him play different characters.
The drama tried to work up a rom-com and while this was a rom-com, it was not one that I enjoyed much. However, there is no denial that Raymond and Ruco Chan share really good chemistry together which could be seen through this underwhelming drama. However, despite not really enjoying this drama, I did liked watching the relationship development between Ruco and Selena Li‘s characters.
Sniper Standoff: 2/5 stars
This drama had a very misleading synopsis. It followed the synopsis for quite a large majority but there were also lots of times which left me waiting so see when it would run according to the synopsis which ended up never happening. I thought that this drama would be something like Tiger Cubs since being based on the SDU, it was billed as having lots of action. However, the action came in a way that I had not expected. I didn’t like the way that it was shown, because it made the SDU and the police force for all that matter appear very incompetent in their job. Time after time they managed to allow Lee Ho Yeung (Michael Tse) get away unharmed and while Ko Chun Kin (Eddie Cheung) and Seung Koon Ming Chu (Kate Tsui) came scattered with injuries.
What faltered for the drama was the poor writing which was ridiculous. It failed to retain any realism within it making the drama appear really fictional. There was nothing wrong with the acting; the actors all did an amazing job in portraying their characters but it was just ashame that the acting and storyline did not tie well together.
The Day of Days: 1.5/5 stars
This is easily one of the most forgettable dramas of the year. I have no memory that I even watched this drama! It totally slipped past my eyes! I can barely remember what happened! I had to read back through the synopsis to have a faint memory of what happened. I really can’t be bothered writing about this drama but I don’t just want to leave it blank like this, so I’m going to write about it anyways.
Was it boring? I can’t say that it was but I didn’t really enjoy it. I think it was the whole package to the drama that made me not enjoy it. It was a bit from the writing, a bit from the acting, a bit from the filming and a bit from the feeling that it gave off. Together, they gave off a drama that I didn’t particularly enjoy. The thing with this drama was that there wasn’t anything terribly wrong with it! The writing was fairly good, Sonjia Kwok and Sunny Chan did well in their roles and the drama ran pretty smoothly, but it was just as a whole the drama just wasn’t one that I loved.
The Hippocratic Crush II (AKA On Call 36 Hours II): 3.5/5 stars
My expectations for sequels are always quite low because very rarely do they meet up to par as their prequel. This was exactly the case here. This drama was one of the most hyped HK-drama of the year because of the powerhouse couple, Tavia Yeung and Kenneth Ma as well as following off from the very successful prequel from last year. I was really anticipating this drama because not only did I wanted to see more of Tavia’s Fan Ji Yu/Yu Jai and Kenneth’s Cheung Yat Kin/Yat Kin Tau but I was also eager to see more of this medical theme. With the large cast, Tavia and Kenneth was side-kicked and did not have enough development or screentime as I had hoped. However, despite this, they were able to deliver with a chemistry and charisma that made me love them in the first place.
While this wasn’t the best written drama nor was it the best executed drama, this was my favourite hk-drama of the year. I enjoyed it as a sequel, though admittedly, it did not stack up to its prequel. I thought it did well as a sequel. It stayed true to its roots sticking by the theme and atmosphere that The Hippocratic Crush (AKA On Call 36 Hours) what I had come to love. The OST was one of the best things to tie the two dramas together. Here, there was still the love and desire to help that was particularly evident in THC. Its just that there was an especially large ensemble that the focus of where it needed to be was lost. If I had a choice, I would remove at least half of the cast. Sequels always have a hard chance to prove their worth because they always have such big shoes to fill but this one did at fairly good job at doing so.
Triumph in the Skies II: 3.5/5 stars
I went into this sequel with a clear mind since I didn’t see the prequel so I had nothing to base this drama on. This was also another highly-hyped drama of the year and it lived up to its hype. It had a star-studded cast consisting of some big names such as Francis Ng and Julian Cheung. Not only that but this sequel came ten years after its prequel, so everyone was waiting to see what it could bring. I was quite happy with what it brought along. The writing was quite enjoyable, though at times I found it really frustrating to watch. I enjoyed the crossover between romance and work but there were some ridiculous relationship lines that I was shaking my head at, namely the love triangle between Tong Yik Fung/Issac Tong (Ron Ng), Koo Ha Sun/Summer Koo (Myolie Wu) and Kiu Cho Si/Josie (Kelly Fu).
Like The Hippocratic Crush II (AKA On Call 36 Hours II), this drama also had a large ensemble cast but unlike THCII, the focus was right at where it needed to be which was something that I greatly appreciated. This allowed for thorough development of the characters and their relation to the plot which is something that I really enjoyed about the drama. While the drama might have gotten a bit off track during during the second half of the drama, it managed to hold well onto the firm grip that it started with.
TITSII had one of the best hk-drama OSTs this year. I loved it very much. There were some 1900’s songs which I thought were very neatly used in such a modern drama. I might not have enjoyed the opening song theme by George Lam so much, but I definitely loved the two ending theme songs by Raymond Lam and Mag Lam which did an amazing job in addressing the themes of the drama, whether it be in the romance department or otherwise.
The story flowed well even if there were some relationships that made no sense whatsoever, however, this was made up by the wonderful locations where the drama was shot in.
Will Power: 2.5/5 stars
This was one of the two anniversary dramas of the year but it did not receive much hype or love. There were lots of people who loved this drama but I just couldn’t bring myself to love it as much. I love court dramas but this was one that I couldn’t bring myself to love regardless of how hard I tried to. The cases were very boring and lacked the charm to appear interesting. Maybe this was because the same types of cases and lawyers using the same techniques to tackle the cases kept appearing. It was just getting repetitive and way too predictable. However Moses Chan and Wayne Lai did a wonderful job as two sassy lawyers and they were what made it fun to stick by this drama. I have to blame the writing for the drama’s dodggy storyline because it started out quite optimistic but then repetition started to kick in and by the end, we were reaching absurdity.
This drama tried to include romance as a subplot but I didn’t like how it was done. It was a poorly written part of the drama as the relationships did not have the time and space to blossom. For majority of the drama, the relationships felt quite forced, though as the drama progressed, the relationships did manage to soften up a bit. There was chemistry there but it didn’t work with the relationships. Maybe next time it will be able to find a way to balance all this.
Last Cinderella: 3/5 stars
Sadly, this was the only dorama I watched of this year and it wasn’t even all that good. It started off well but somewhere in the middle it fell and fell and kept falling until the very end. Okay, it wasn’t all that bad, but it did drop quite a lot. It was another one of those dramas with a noona-dongsaeng relationship but it somehow didn’t work for me. At times the relationship felt forced while at others it it didn’t even feel like Toyama Sakura (Shinohara Ryoko) and Saeki Hiroto (Miura Haruma) loved each other even though they supposedly did. I didn’t like the chemistry that they had; I preferred the chemistry that Ryoko had with the second male lead, Tachibana Rintaro (Fujiki Naohito). That felt natural and something is real.
The plot had a very strong premises to be strong but it slowly slipped out of that position because the right feelings weren’t being portrayed. The development between Sakura and Hiroto just wasn’t sufficient enough to show that they were in love. This would have been a perfect drama if I can overlook the romance, except that is something that I cannot do.
I Hear Your Voice (AKA I Can Hear Your Voice): 4/5 stars
This was one very enjoyable drama indeed! It was supernatural but kept to its humanity grounds. I really appreciate that it didn’t overdo it with the supernatural element. It gripped me me week after week, eager and anxious to see what it could offer. The drama was not an accurate representation of the courtroom but it was how the cases were dealt with in the courtroom that was really interesting to watch. It was engaging to see what the hero, Park Soo Ha (Lee Jung Suk) and the heroine, Jang Hye Sung (Lee Bo Young) had up their sleeves. What I loved about their noona-dongsaeng romance was that it was something that pushed forth the OTP to become two stronger people. It wasn’t the central line to the drama but rather it was something that kept pushing the OTP forward, and this was kept the drama focused on the battle at hand. Despite their age difference, Jung Suk and Bo Young had great chemistry together and this was what made his crush on her for 10 years appear realistic.
I really loved the heroine that Hye Sung was. She grew up lots throughout the drama. From being a mindless woman, she became one who was determined and had strong willpower within her to fight for what is right. She didn’t give up and just kept persisting on. I love her snarky attitude and the way that she dealt with the different scenarios that was thrown at her.
All of the characters played a very vital role to the drama’s development which was something very essential to the drama. They kept the OTP up, giving them the power to stand strong and fight for what they thought was right. Yet, despite their supporting role, they all shone in their own ways and told their own stories in their own eyes. The drama was well balanced in all aspects which was what kept the drama at hearts.
The Heirs (AKA The Inheritors): 3/5 stars
Billed as the drama of the year, it was a huge let down to say the least. This drama probably received the biggest hype this year. Way before filming even began, it was already a hot topic of discussion. There were lots going on about it, given that it has one of the most famous k-drama writers behind its back and its large star-studded cast. It was a high school love story based on two people with a socioeconomic status on opposite sides of the spectrum. It all looks and sounds good on paper but it just didn’t deliver when it came on-screen. The love story was not one bit compelling and in addition to this central plot there were a number of half-hearted storylines that never pushed through. Every time that I watched the drama, I was hoping that these storylines to develop but it just never did. It always fell flat just like the central love story fell flat.
Playing the OTP, Lee Min Ho and Park Shin Hye‘s performance could have been better but it wasn’t entirely their fault as Kim Tan and Cha Eun Sang were poorly written characters. Kim Tan and Eun Sang weren’t given any room to move or show their growth as they fell for each other. There was never a strong grip to their relationship and it just felt like they were together because the script called for it. Furthermore, their chemistry was just never there. Second male lead, Choi Young Do (Kim Woo Bin) stole the show and had much more chemistry with the leading lady than what LMH had with PSH. With such a large cast, the screentime for the many characters were bound to be limited but it was the underutilisation of Choi Jin Hyuk and Im Joo Eun that got me scratching my head wondering why they were included in the first place. It is such a waste of talent and time, even if it was 15 minutes.
I was quite taken back when the ending came around because I felt like the drama had so much more that still needed to be fleshed out. The story did have anywhere else to go but the characters sure did. That was such a huge waste because they should have been fleshed out right from the beginning. What happened with Heirs was that nothing really happened. There was no movement; it was at the exact same spot that it was back when it all started.
Two Weeks: 4.5/5
From what I have gathered, this was probably one of the most underrated k-drama of the year but I loved it to bits and pieces! Whether it was the writing, directing, acting or cinematography, everything was amazing. I live-watched this, tuning in week after week and each week for an hour I got a huge adrenaline rush. However, being set on a 14 day timeline, the adrenaline was only sustained for that ep. I slowly forgot about the drama until the next week came about. This drama would definitely work better on a marathon watch because this will keep up the adrenaline rush.
Two Weeks was very “heroic” based, with Jang Tae San (Lee Jun Ki) on the run for that two weeks to prove his innocence and save his newly discovered daughter’s life. Having lived his life in the shags and not being the father that he should have been, this was his one chance to change all this. LJK gave a stellar performance as Tae San, something that brought the drama together since he is the heart and soul to the drama.
I loved that everything that occurred was central to the plot and was sometime that constantly kept Tae San on his toes. There was something in it that made the drama feel to humanised despite being very dramatic, but that is a sense that I loved and part of the reason why it that made me feel very invested into this drama.
A Good Wife: 4/5 stars
This drama proved to be a surprise hit, not only for me but for the Taiwanese community. I am so glad that I decided to give this a try because it was emotionally luring. It was very touchy and very dense. People aren’t all that open to infidelity but this drama could hardly be termed as being about infidelity. It was more about how the realisation of what happiness is. Shen Yi Zhen (Tian Xin) in stuck in an unhappy marriage with her workaholic architecture husband of seven years, Li Shao Wen (Christopher Lee). She tried tried very hard to retain herself in this marriage but it wasn’t until she met Zhou Shang En (Darren Qiu) that she started realise what she wanted with life: happiness. They both wanted different things in life but had forced themselves on something that wasn’t right for them.
Oh, kind of random but Darren doesn’t look a day past 28 even though he is actually 37!
The chemistry that Tian Xin and Christopher had was amazing. I loved the connection between them. They gave the drama sincerity that allowed for Yi Zhen and Shao Wen to chase after what was in their heart. In doing so, they delivered with their performance nailing each scene so perfectly that it just broke my heart to see them as they try to work around this unhappy marriage of theirs.
The drama set up was simple and sleek yet the story that unfolded from it was strong and picture-perfect. Every ep was filled with something that was so fundamentally important for Yi Zhen and Shao Wen to discover that they were never meant for each other. The pain and suffering that they had to endure to come to their realisation was heart-wrenching but it was satisfaction seeing them find their happiness. Ultimately, this journey was what made the drama such an endearing watch.
Dragon Gate: 1/5 stars
I checked this drama out on a whim but I shouldn’t have. This is on my list for worst drama of the year. Just what have I watched!? I have no idea why I decided to watch it, wait, actually I do. I wanted to see something different from the rom-com dramas that Taiwan is plagued with. This drama actually looked quite interesting on the outside. It had a secret society and people were going around with guns in their hands. I thought that this drama would kick-ass but all that it kicked was a brick wall. The plot was messy and path that it went on to achieve its outcome was horrible.
The cast did a fairly decent job with their characters. I loved Chen Yi Rong as the strong and determined boss of the underworld, Alice Ke did an alright job as the Qiu Mo Yu, Sunny Wang could have been better as Zhou Huai An and Melvin Sia was good in his role as Xiao Dao. They had some decent chemistry with each other! The fall of the drama had nothing to do with the cast but rather their characters and the plot. Watching this was very painful as the connections between the plot, actors and directing just didn’t work. They couldn’t even get something as simple as the OST right. Well, in short, don’t touch this drama, just don’t. Or you will regret it deeply.
King Flower (AKA Substitute Princess OR Replacement Princess OR The Adventure of King Flower): 3.5/5 stars
I enjoyed this drama for what it was worth. It was fluffy to the eyes and every ep was fun to watch even if it did go through some dramatic changes halfway through the drama, and I’m not even talking about Jin Da Hua (Nikki Hsieh)’s drastic plastic makeover to become Ouyang Tai/Terry (Chris Wu)’s fiancée, Du Liang Yan (Nikki Hsieh). It was the coupling that took the most unexpected change. Initially, it was supposed to steer away from the rich guy/poor girl coupling and have poor guy/poor girl coupling but it ended up with the former. Da Hua was supposed to be paired up with her poor adopted brother, Lin Guan Jun (James Wen) but ended up with the rich and handsome Terry. Despite the weirdness that it brought about to the plot, I am glad that it ended up this way because Nikki and Chris had loads of chemistry while Nikki and James had barely any.
The plot was crazy to begin with and was even crazier once the couplings got switched around, however, it was for the better. Da Hua and Guan Jun’s story lost its footing quite early on in the drama and Terry’s story became the driving force of the drama. It was his emotional journey that he had to face after losing Liang Yan that made him so powerful to watch. With Da Hua by his side, he was able to face the world again and move on. What made this drama work for Da Hua and Terry’s story was that they had chemistry together so despite it being a last minute change-up to the plot, it flowed quite nicely. Throughout the second half of the drama, everything was focused on them with James who was billed as the male lead being neglected to the side. So while the drama took an unexpected turn, it delivered to what the viewers wanted.
Love Around: 2/5 stars
I thought I had wrote enough about this drama already but here I go again. Another one of those boring dramas that I should have known better than to check out on. This drama arose starring Annie Chen and George Hu as the OTP following off from their previous drama, Love, Now which was a huge hit, something that this drama was very far from. This drama lacked the plot and premises to sustain it. The plot was very whimsy to say the least, and it kept going on for 21 long eps! Watching it, I just felt like a bunch of random storylines were thrown together just to give the OTP some obstacles to cross. Seriously, the plot to this was to bring the OTP together. The whole “black and white” aspect was supposed to be an obstacle to bring the OTP together but it ended up being something that was whisked to the side. It was senseless in the sense that it never provided an obstacle for the OTP to cross in the first place. This aspect was basically just a name for the drama to have something to support the love story.
The OTP were the only thing keeping the drama upright but without the background support behind them, they could only do so much with a drama. As a result without this support, their chemistry did not reach the heights that I had expected. It was basically a tug-of-war game for the OTP which took forever to end because neither placed any effort into pulling the rope. Both were just standing waiting for someone to pull the rope for them, except no one came around to doing it. They didn’t even try to show that their relationship was worthwhile! Subsequently, whatever chemistry they had dropped dramatically. Watching this was such a bore that even if you fall asleep you would wake and find that everything at its initial position.
The Pursuit of Happiness: 3.5/5 stars
It’s a current airing drama so my opinion my change after it finishes, but so far I am really liking what I am getting. The Pursuit of Happiness contains remnants of the 2011 critically acclaimed drama In Time With You featuring Arthur Chu as the “director guide”, his protege as the director and William Wei singing the opening theme song. Sonia Sui and Tony Yang as Ji An Lei and Huang Yi kang respectively have tonnes of chemistry together that not even a wedge can drive through their chemistry! What I loved about them was that they gradually built up their chemistry from the first ep and this make their falling for each other appear real and sincere. They understand each other in a way that no one else does and are able to be who they are in front of each other.
The writing is very simple but it has a lot of backbone to support it. It is love story which has some heavy emotional baggage behind it. It is about two people who are learning to move on and see that they are the ones for each other. An Lei and Yi Kang have been through a similar experience so they are completely aware of what it takes to move on, however, they are always there supporting each other and this brings them closer to realise that they are the ones for each other. I really enjoy the pacing between An Lei and Yi Kang’s relationship. I think it is just perfect for them to heal and fall for each other.
Hands down that this drama contains one of the best OSTs of the year. All of the songs are perfect in addressing the emotions that our characters are facing. It really helps to further the emotions that are brewing within them. The directing and cinematography for this is really amazing; I absolutely love the little touches in the drama, such as the transparent words that appear on-screen which are creative ways to foreshadow the direction of where the characters are heading. I am eager to see what the ending will bring about after the pursuit that it has already been on.
Two Fathers: 5/5 stars
Of the dramas that I have seen this year, this is one of my favourite one. I love it to bits and pieces, from top to bottom. I was a bit eerie into starting this since it is a daily drama but after reading some initial good impressions about it, I decided to give it a shot and I was immediately in love. It was adorable and full of cuteness! Not only was the writing done remarkably well, but the acting and chemistry between the actors were also amazing. Whether it was between friends, family or lovers, it was all very well done. The development of each of the characters was perfect; it wasn’t overdone and neither was it underdone. Whether it was Tang Xiang Xi (Leroy Young) and Wen Zhen Hua (Lin Yo Wei)’s bromance, Xiang Xi and Fang Jing Zhu (Megan Lai)’s romance or Xiang Xi and Zhen Hua’s bond with Wendy (Le Le), it was developed very naturally right from the start. It all happened really swiftly which adds to the drama’s realistic sense. I really loved watching the interactions between each of the characters. Regardless of what was happening in the drama, I always felt a sense of happiness coming from it.
Undoubtedly, one of the best thing to come out this drama was the relationship between the untraditional, odd little family. Yet despite this, Xiang Xi, Zhen Hua and Wendy made it work! They functioned like a normal family and was picture-perfect like a normal family, except for having two fathers. However, that did not deviate from showcasing to viewers the strong relationship that they had with each other.
The plot was what really allowed the drama to shine through. It was simple and homey and that alone was enough to sustain for 73 eps. However, it was together with the smart writing and acting that brought the drama together. The storyline was very realistic and everything that happened all occurred and felt really natural. This was what lured me back ep after ep. There was lots of love and friendship but it was the process of how they came to be which made really strong in what it presented. That was especially a joyous adventure because each relationship was filled with strong chemistry.
As this year draws to a closure, I take the time to appreciate the drama offerings even though they weren’t nearly as good as I would have liked. I had a fun drama-driven year this, watching how some pairings were just never meant to be and how writing can screw up a perfectly good drama. There were definitely more misses than hits but at least I got some dramas to satisfy my drama cravings. I just hope that next year there are some more quality and brilliant dramas to see. Before I end this, I will leave you my top 5 dramas of the year.
- Two Fathers
- Two Weeks
- I Hear Your Voice (AKA I Can Hear Your Voice)
- A Good Wife
- The Pursuit of Happiness
Please leave a comment telling me what your top dramas of the year were! (: I would love to hear from you all! I just want to wish you all a merry merry Christmas and a happy new year! May 2014 bring about even better dramaing! All the best and happy dramaing!
Tagged: A Change Of Heart, A Good Heart Goes Haywire, A Good Wife, A Great Way To Care II, Always and Ever, Awfully Lawful, Beauty at War, Bounty Lady, Brother's Keeper, Bullet Brain, Chinese Dramas, Dragon Gate, End of Year Drama Review, Friendly Fire, Hong Kong Dramas, I Can Hear Your Voice, I Hear Your Voice, Inbound Troubles, Japanese Dramas, Karma Rider, King Flower, King of Lan Ling, Korean Dramas, Lan Ling Wang, Last Cinderella, Le Jun Kai, Love Around, Missing You, My Opinion, On Call 36 Hours II, Reality Check, Replacement Princess, Review, Season of Love, Slow Boat Home, Sniper Standoff, Substitute Princess, Taiwanese Dramas, The Adventure of King Flower, The Days of Days, The Heirs, The Hippocratic Crush II, The Inheritors, The Pursuit of Happiness, Triumph In The Skies II, Two Fathers, Two Weeks, Will Power