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  • Localização: Canada
  • Contribution Points: 219 LV3
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  • Data de Admissão: maio 9, 2021
Completados
O Tratante
28 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Ago 17, 2021
42 of 42 episódios vistos
Completados 0
No geral 7.5
História 7.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Musical 8.5
Voltar a ver 7.0

A very flawed drama for die-hard LYX fans with a kick-ass FL ...**BUT**...

If you are a die-hard Luo Yunxi fan, Broker might be worth it as it really showcases his talent. He gives an emotional performance as a flawed and tortured anti-hero who falls in love with a woman who changes the entire course of his life. Broker could also be for you if you love your female leads strong, brilliant, independent, and mature. Victoria Song’s portrayal will have you wishing there were more characters like her in Chinese dramas. (I was going to add sensible to the FL's list of attributes, but unfortunately I can not due to her actions and words in the final two or three episodes.)

BUT. And this is a huge BUT. For everyone else? It’s kind of a toss-up. Broker is flawed and messy, and whether it’s for you or not will depend on your enjoyment or tolerance of soapy, unrealistic melodramas and other elements that some people love and others hate: the science talk, the office politics and scheming (only in the early episodes though -- it's great later), the secondary OTP, very tortured heroes/heroines/antogonists (To say Leo is put through the wringer, especially at the end, would be an understatement). As the series progresses, it also flirts increasingly with “dog’s blood (狗血)” plotlines -- until it VERY predictably goes all-in on the makjang melodrama in the final quarter. (A couple of the characters even reference “dog’s blood” dramas, which makes one think it’s a sly nod of self-recognition.)

Personally, I genuinely enjoyed nearly every ridiculous, soapy, melodramatic moment and couldn’t wait for the next episode. At the same time, I have a lot of caveats. I did park most of my usual standards aside and simply went with the flow. I tried not to think too much about details that didn’t make sense; annoying tropes; the rather ham-fisted effort at depicting anti-Asian/Chinese racism; the heavy-handed overtones of patriotism/nationalism; inconsistencies in pacing, tone, character depiction, and story arcs. Unfortunately, these last elements became very difficult to ignore at the end, especially in the final episode. While expected, the execution of the story arc was frustrating -- and almost cruel -- at times. (You can read my more spoilery views about the ending in the comments section below.)

REWATCH VALUE: If I could break it down, I'd give all of Leo’s scenes a 10 (no bias here :P) and many (but not all) of Victoria’s very high marks too.

MUSIC: Like many Chinese dramas, the instrumental background was sometimes too much, but the songs were solid. I especially adored the closing credit piece, Signature (署名) by Azora Chin (尤长靖), and Leo’s haunting theme, It’s Time To Stop (时间停止吧), by ANU.

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Seja Minha Família
30 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Jun 13, 2023
30 of 30 episódios vistos
Completados 0
No geral 8.0
História 7.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Musical 8.0
Voltar a ver 7.5

Watch for the wonderfully amazing kids, great OTP, hilarious rival ... BUT some caution ahead ...

There is so much to love about this drama -- the OTP pairing between Xie Binbin and Zheng Qiuhong, the most ridiculously adorable kids ever, and a rival you think you're going to thoroughly loathe, but end up finding absolutely delightful and hilarious. All of these factors make this drama worth watching.

ACTING:
Xie Binbin, who is simply adorakable and was also enormously likable in Party A Who Lives Beside Me, is equally endearing here. He's not the most emotive or best actor, but you can still sense his ever-present regret over his initial motivations, all of which culminates into a moving and heartfelt speech near the end of episode 27. He and Zheng Qiuhong, who was equally fantastic in Dine With Love, have great chemistry together. The pairing is inspired and I hope to see them together again in a future drama. But it's the children who are truly revelatory. At first, they just seem like your typical adorable C-drama kids, but it's almost magical watching Zhang Yanbo and Huang Bosi together as the story unfolds and they interact like true siblings. Episode 26, in particular, is a gem. First you'll cry, then you'll laugh out loud as the kids break your heart before charming your socks off.

Yang Xue'er, who plays Tong Luoqi, is pitch perfect as the bitchy rival with the heart of gold. I'd seen her in a number of other dramas before, but this character really allowed her to shine. Some of the funniest scenes in the drama involve her and the children, and some of the most heartwarming scenes are also between her and the FL.

Finally, I was surprised by my unexpected sympathy for Qin Tian once his back story was revealed. He was a different person in the flashbacks, and credit goes to Jin Chong for his acting. Of course, it doesn't justify his actions in any way, but it made his character more interesting and nuanced -- he wasn't just some one-dimensional villain out for the usual revenge.

STORY:
There are some minor quibbles here and there that can be glossed over, but there are a few significant issues that mar what otherwise could have been a very satisfying romcom. One of the biggest weaknesses is the secondary couple. Both BFFs are perfectly fine ... and yet ... somehow bland. That blandness spills over into their equally uninspired romance, which was really the only draggy part of the drama. Far too much time is spent on a courtship that has no spark.

Another major weakness is the overall plot that drives the entire story. A key component of the "mystery" is fairly obvious within the first episode and by the mid-point, viewers have a pretty good idea as to the other elements of the mystery. And yet, more than a dozen episodes go by before some of these theories are finally confirmed. (Eg. Speaking as someone with relevant experience, how does that detail about the brother not come up even once in conversation?!) I don't mind plot predictability, but the build-up to a couple of the big reveals felt quite forced, unrealistic, and unnecessary. Not surprisingly, the plot briefly got splattered with some obligatory "dog's blood". By the time the series ended, I still had some unanswered questions as to how certain key events were even possible.

Despite these problems -- and unlike The Love You Give Me, a recent modern drama that I found extremely frustrating to watch -- Please Be My Family was still very enjoyable. At less than 30 minutes each, it's also a breezy binge. Ultimately, the strongest aspect of this drama is the main cast of genuinely wonderful characters. They really carry the show and help compensate for the storyline flaws.

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Amor à Segunda Vista
16 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Fev 13, 2023
24 of 24 episódios vistos
Completados 15
No geral 7.5
História 7.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Musical 8.0
Voltar a ver 7.0

Not bad if you are looking for a low-commitment drama fix

For a short-length modern drama, this is one of the better ones - I've seen so many modern short-length ones that are excrutiating and unbearable. The production values are much better than most mini-dramas I've seen, and the music too, is surprisingly nice for a low budget production like this. The acting by the leads are generally pretty decent as well. Wang Zuyi, in particular, has a lot of potential, especially if you've seen him in the short-length costume drama, The Only Girl You Haven't Seen. He does "radiantly happy" and "earnest and vulnerable" so well, it can be a bit hard to buy the "Domineering CEO" stereotype here.

The story itself is okay, but it does lean into some classic tropes, some of which I am not a fan of, including 1) the problematic "Domineering CEO" mentioned earlier (he grabs her wrists bruisingly hard a couple of times and is kind of stalker-ish, demanding to know who she was with, even though they broke up five years earlier) and 2) the "crazy ex-girlfriend/vengeful jealous friend whose feelings are unrequited" (they have one of each here!). The ending is rushed (surprise, surprise!) and a bit .... different (for a lack of an unspoilery adjective).

I waffled between a 7.5 and an 8, and finally settled on 7.5 because of the ending and some of the CEO's behaviour -- still a high grade in my books for a short-length series. Overall, if you are looking for something modern, a quick fix with low-committment, and modest expectations, you could do a lot worse.

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Skip a Beat
14 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Jun 18, 2023
20 of 20 episódios vistos
Completados 5
No geral 7.5
História 7.0
Acting/Cast 7.5
Musical 8.0
Voltar a ver 4.0

May scratch your guilty-pleasure itch for trope-filled, angsty dog's blood drama

Okay, let's first be very clear, the ML is a serious, problematic P.o.S. for the first half dozen episodes or so, and their "explanation" (that he is bi-polar and was "cured"?) is just as problematic. This is a terrible portrayal of mental illness and using it as a throw-away story-telling device (it doesn't really get mentioned again for the rest of the drama) does such a huge disservice to an important issue. (C-dramas in general have a long way to go still when it comes to attitudes towards mental illness -- even in serious, high brow, well-scripted costume dramas, it's still common to see the villain "go crazy" at the end.)

This is otherwise, your classic, trope-filled, angsty dog's blood low-budget soap; this should be very obvious from the get-go. So if you are looking for a high-quality modern romance grounded in reality, you can safely skip this with zero regrets. But if you're looking for a relatively short melodrama fix (20 episodes, 30 minutes each) with low expectations, this might satisfy that guilty-pleasure itch -- you have tortured break-ups, revenge, family drama, backstabbing, people who do terrible things for unrequited love, disapproving in-laws, an ML who really suffers and is put through the wringer when the FL finally leaves him, and an ML who changes for the better and is willing to give up everything for the FL. The only trope missing, as commenters joked, are twins. Don't expect a well-crafted script that offers character development that makes sense -- this is low-budget dramaland at its soapiest, so leave the over-thinking and expectations at the door, make a lot of assumptions, and fill in the blanks yourself. Do all that and you might find yourself not minding this ridiculous ride! And to be perfectly fair, when it comes to plot holes and making sense, there are many, many worse offenders out there.

I watched this primarily because I was curious to see He Riuxian as the FL -- she was stunning in Warm on a Cold Night and her character was pretty kick-ass from what I remember. I also liked Luo Zheng in some of his earlier supporting roles, and -- as my bio notes -- I'm a sucker for angsty journeys that end in happily-ever-afters.

A few good things I wanted to highlight:

-- Asian dramas love their over-the-top public proposals, or proposals that generally put a lot of pressure on the women to say "yes" out of obligation and guilt. So I was pleasantly surprised by a scene that calls out these types of proposals.

-- Modern C-dramas seem to love making their FL's look frumpy -- high-waisted jeans, boxy, unflattering blazers, ugly shirts, bad hairstyles, you name it -- one has to wonder, do the stylists hate them? Here, He Riuxian's character has pretty great style and clothes -- a genuinely rare sight in my viewing experience!

-- The mothers are hilarious near the end. The ML's mom starts off as your typical rich wife/disapproving mother. (It takes a very long time, but she ultimately just wants to see her son happy and comes to accept the FL, recognizing her kindness and formidable strength.) Her encounter with the equally disapproving FL's mother was fairly amusing, but the scene that had me cackling out loud may be when the ML sneaks into the FL's bed to snuggle .... only to stare right into the glaring eyes of the FL's mother, lol. Priceless.

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Chang Feng Du
21 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Jul 14, 2023
40 of 40 episódios vistos
Completados 1
No geral 10
História 10
Acting/Cast 9.0
Musical 8.5
Voltar a ver 10

Wonderful characters/relationships, no stupid misunderstandings, satisfying ending, best of 2023

I’m super stingy with giving 9s, but after more than 250 dramas, I’m handing out my first 10. For me, this is definitely the best drama of 2023, and possibly my all-time favourite.

Destined was wonderful, entertaining and had everything I love -- swoony romance, a perfect amount of angst and humour, slice of life, palace intrigue, bromance, great secondary couples, heartwarming family/in-law dynamics, excellent pacing, multi-genre, no annoying characters (except for maybe one...) and green flags everywhere.

The relationships in this drama -- between couples, friends, parent and child (Edit: OK, maybe just the moms, lol), employer and employee, sworn brothers, sworn sisters -- were all beautiful portrayed and ridiculously healthy: open, trusting, communicative, respectful, warm, and loyal.

I almost hesitate to review this for fear my enthusiasm will fuel unrealistic expectations, leading to inevitable disappointment, but this drama was about as close to perfection as I’ve ever seen. Elements that are hit and miss in other shows were done consistently well here, with none of the annoying and frustrating trope-y plot devices or foolish misunderstandings. Our primary villain is complex and multi-dimensional; war/battles scenes were exciting, filled with dramatic tension, conveying the enormous stakes involved and the David vs Goliath nature of the fight (I ordinarily find a lot of battle scenes a bit boring); the emperors were among the most sympathetic and heartbreaking I’ve ever seen portrayed.

THE PACING

The pacing is well-done in this drama, which is divided into several major arcs. There were times I found myself smiling, laughing, crying, and stressed — all within the span of a tight, 40 minutes. Even the episodes that clearly served as "breathers" before the next major plotline were still interesting. It never felt draggy and flashbacks were effective and kept to a minimum. Those who don't like "slice of life" moments, however, might find those episodes spoil the momentum, especially given the excitement that came before.

THE ENDING

Asian dramas can be notorious for slaughtering their endings, but Director Yin Tao (who also helmed The Blood of Youth among many other notable dramas), and screenwriter Bai Jinjin (who helped pen Love Between Fairy and Devil) exceeded even my hopeful expectations. (For those who have watched Yin Tao’s previous works, you will also recognize many beloved and familiar faces.)

OUR MAIN HERO AND HEROINE

The drama does an excellent job showing the selflessness, support, open communication, trust, and utter devotion Liu Yuru and Gu Juisi have toward one another. The evolution of their relationship from mutual dislike to mutual respect is organic and natural, but moves along swiftly. Yuru’s opinion toward her husband shifts as she discovers the real Gu Jiusi, while Juisi — inspired and moved by his wife's kindness, loyalty, and a desire to make up for the “joke” that led to their unwanted marriage — becomes a doting and devoted husband, working hard to become worthy of his formidable new wife.

Their relationship was also a perfect example of how a drama can have fantastic character and plot development without resorting to the overused and cliche-ridden tropes of frustrating miscommunications, unnecessary secrets, and idiotic misunderstandings. You can have swoony romance, healthy supportive relationships, and excellent communication and *still* tell complex and compelling stories.

Prior to Destined, I was generally unfamiliar with Song Yi’s work, but I thought she did a wonderful job as Yuru. Some viewers complained early on about her portrayal, but I thought she did a great job acting simultaneously demure yet strong, capturing the character's quiet strength and poise. Conveying and embodying that complicated dichotomy convincingly is no easy feat.

Yuru spent her entire life trying to be the “perfect lady”, living her life with enormous restraint in order to ensure her and her mother's security by marrying well. The way she carried herself, the repressed and “delicate” way she shed tears, were all part of her exhausting efforts to carve a better future. She had to consistently maintain a prim, proper, and reticent demeanor, suppress her emotions and reign in her opinions, because that was how “well-bred” ladies were supposed to comport themselves. This perhaps made it difficult for some viewers to connect with her emotionally. But Yuru demonstrated her ability to withstand enormous obstacles and upheaval, that she would not be easily defeated. As her character evolved and was accepted into a family that allowed her to be her true self, her behaviour relaxed. The delicate sniffles disappeared, the emotions became more heartfelt, her actions and opinions more fearless and decisive.

Yuru also makes for a striking contrast with Jiusi who is more straightforward: he was a dandy with a heart of gold — a big softy. He was rather childish and playful initially, but matured into a commanding and wise strategist and advisor. Unlike Yuru’s character, he had an easy life (and is male!), so he is naturally more relaxed, open, opinionated and unreserved in his actions and speech.

Both leads were genuinely excellent in their respective roles, but I think it's easy to mistake Song Yi’s restrained and carefully balanced portrayal as somehow lacking, when in fact, it is the opposite.

Bai Jingting’s last several dramas have been consistently excellent, though I was relatively neutral about the actor himself prior to Destined. This drama really showcased his emotional range and comedic timing.

THE VILLAIN

I don't recall ever shedding a tear for a villain, let alone one this despicable, ruthless, and irredeemable. And yet.

The screenwriter and actor did a great job bringing Luo Zishang’s character and tragic story to life. Oftentimes, the Big Bad Villain in a drama is just evil for the sake of being evil, or loathsome because of the clichéd hunger for power and greed. In Destined, our villain, played by Liu Xueyi, is enigmatic, multifaceted — even sympathetic — despite being unequivocally unforgivable. Yes, his hatred toward Gu Jiusi and his family was absolutely disproportionate, the atrocities he committed in the name of vengeance were utterly irrational and indefensible, and the underlying reason its own well-worn cliché, but it was somehow still difficult to not feel sorrow in the end for the tragedy of his entire, wasted life. In the hands of another actor, it is quite possible that the weak premise behind what motivated his hatred would have derailed the entire plot. Luo Zishang’s feelings towards Yuru conveyed all the "what ifs" of his character, and the show beautifully captured those “what ifs” in the final two episodes.

Liu Xueyi is great when he plays the hero, but he is also excellent at portraying villains and morally ambiguous characters. I hope he will continue to balance his roles between being a lead and taking on interesting supporting roles like he has here and in other previous dramas.

I really appreciated how the show also made time to tell a bit of Ming Yi’s story. Throughout the drama, he seemed like your typical disposable background character, the almost-invisible right-hand man who unquestioningly did his master’s bidding, no matter how heinous. But the writer and director even granted *him!* satisfying closure, making time at the end to give him a voice so he could tell his own story and voice his own hopes.

There was some viewer frustration that a pivotal character did nothing to stop the chaos created by the Luo Zishang earlier. While his intervention could have made an enormous difference for the fate of countless lives, in my view, he was always morally ambiguous — his shrewd ability to navigate the treacherous schemes of the previous royal court speaks to this aspect of his character.

BUT…?

I don’t have many buts, to be honest. I think we could all quibble about a few details here and there, small plot holes (some of which were eventually answered), but given the complexity of the source material, I thought they did an incredible job packing what they could into the new 40-episode limitation and telling a tight, well-paced story.

There was one notable death near the end that I wished didn’t happen, but at the same time, given the character’s personality, it was perhaps a fitting and honourable end for them. Their future, had they survived, would have been bittersweet in other ways because it would not have been the life they wanted. Their death also served another purpose: it bolsters the underlying theme that it is lonely at the top, even in the best of circumstances.

Arguably, there were no genuinely annoying characters, except for maybe one, but I have yet to decide if the character was annoying in a way that was organic to the story, or in a way that faulted the writing and/or acting.

For some of those who read the original web novel by Mo Shubai , this adaptation was apparently disappointing, particularly in the later arcs as key details were changed or left out. Others were frustrated by the fates of two notable characters — one beloved and another much hated; both did not get the ending they deserved (I sympathize with the criticism, but also understood why the less palatable ending was chosen).

For me, the overall strengths of this drama far outweighed any of the issues. As another viewer commented, “This is not perfect, but it’s perfect for me.”

NERDY OBSERVATIONS

-- Hurray for live audio! Undubbed costume dramas still feel like a rarity and adds another layer of pleasure

-- I love the brief scenes early on with the accountants -- I found the clacking of the abacuses/abaci very soothing and meditative

-- Liu Yuru’s first cosmetics store was absolutely gorgeous

-- I saw a behind-the-scenes clip of the construction of the beautiful mansion the Gu family moved into when they first arrived in Youzhou, so I couldn’t get over how little actual screentime such an elaborately-made set received

-- What happened to Yuru's half brother? I'm sure he was still around, but it would've been a nice touch to see him interacting with his little nephew at the end.

-- Last but not least, a shout-out to the cinematography, especially during the dramatic battle scene with Yuru standing high on the ramparts, passionately striking the war drum to rally her husband and the soldiers, her bright red gown a beacon against the sandy desert battleground

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Métodos de Exploração do Amor
11 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Jul 20, 2023
22 of 22 episódios vistos
Completados 0
No geral 8.0
História 7.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Musical 7.5
Voltar a ver 7.5

Campy romcom has solid chemistry, with great FL and adorkable ML

For a low-budget romcom, this was pretty fun and entertaining. Gao Hanyu is adorkably hilarious playing the "cold CEO" who finds himself completely discomposed and thrown off kilter when his fake, contract actress girlfriend suddenly becomes a strong and fearless independent woman with uncanny knowledge about subject matters he is passionate about.

I am not always a big fan of romcoms, but I found myself snort-laughing out loud in every episode, especially during the first half dozen or so. Right from the opening scene, the antics and set-ups in Exploration are slightly over-the-top in classic romcom fashion without veering into the slapstick genre, so for me, it totally works. And of course, there is no need to quibble over points of logic or think too hard or too seriously about any plot holes -- these will be a given in this genre and calibre of C-dramas. The story does take a more serious turn, and there are a couple of small misunderstandings, but I didn't mind those or the developments in the last two episodes that bothered other viewers -- they're all short-lived and the ending is still a happy one.

Gao Hanyu isn't the most expressive actor, but he has great comedic timing, and exudes charm and charisma, making him a consistently entertaining watch. He also has great chemistry with his co-stars, and Song Yanfei is no exception. Overall, they are supported by a very likable cast. Unfortunately, the weakest link is around the secondary couple -- the little sister becomes extremely annoying pursuing Gao Ling. Given some of the great, healthy messages elsewhere in the drama, I wished they had followed an unconventional route with that storyline. (Aside: For those discovering Ryan Cheng for the first time, I recommend checking out the short-length mini-drama A Familiar Stranger.)

The drama could have been tightened significantly to 16 episodes instead -- a similar length as Dine with Love, which is the better of the two dramas. The pacing and momentum slowed down towards the middle and never fully regained its original footing. Even so, despite its flaws I thought it was an entertaining and easy binge.

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Mergulhando em Seu Sorriso
12 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Jul 28, 2021
31 of 31 episódios vistos
Completados 1
No geral 8.0
História 7.0
Acting/Cast 7.5
Musical 9.0
Voltar a ver 4.0

Counterpoint: an enjoyable, but somewhat overrated drama

I wasn’t planning on writing anything about Falling Into Your Smile, but the particularly high rating it’s gotten here (8.7 at the time of writing) compelled me to offer a counterpoint.

First, to be clear, I liked this drama. It was perfectly fine. By my own ratings “scale”, it is respectably ranked. It was a fun and cute “happy” drama, with very little that was annoying or frustrating (a feat in itself!). I loved the team dynamics and friendships. The teammates were funny and immensely likable, and I even enjoyed the side characters on other teams. Tong Yao’s (played by Cheng Xiao) parents are great. Except for Kevin Xiao and Rachel Wang, this was my first drama for the rest of the cast, including Xu Kai (a sometimes-distracting reminder of a young Leonardo DiCaprio).

I also appreciated that the show tackled and highlighted the absolutely batsh*t extremes fans and haters go to attack people through social media. It captured the viciousness and influence of toxic fans — something we’ve seen play out in real life. The online “drama” playing out among Chinese netizens and esports fans absolutely trashing Falling Into Your Smile has been rather ironic. And like her character in the drama, lead actress Cheng Xiao has unfortunately been on the receiving end of a lot of online hate and harassment. (On Douban, it has an unreasonably harsh 3/10 rating.)

As a side note, given how conservative C-dramas have historically been when it comes to vocalizing the topic of sex, I was surprised by how frank it was in approaching the subject, relatively speaking.

I was also pleasantly amazed there were no undeserving and unrealistic “redemption arcs” for bad parents (two sets of them!) or for the villains. And the storylines involving antagonists wrapped up before they dragged.

As someone who loved The Untamed, the passing references, background set decor, and nods to the drama sprinkled here and there were also fun to catch. (The two shows share the same production company and producer.)

So where’s the counterpoint then?

This is a perfectly enjoyable esports romance that is nonetheless way over-rated in my view:

I wasn’t overly invested in the central relationship and on the whole, there wasn’t much team or character growth.

The overarching story about the team’s journey through Nationals was underwhelming and somewhat flat, so there was even less emotional investment. In some ways, it felt a bit repetitive. In otherwords, it didn’t pass the binge-worthiness test.

Crossfire is a much more compelling drama about the gaming and esport evolution aspect of the genre.

Gank Your Heart, while flawed on several fronts including the romance aspect, had a much more interesting story in my view when it came to depicting how a team falls apart and the journey towards building a new one. It was pretty low-budget by comparison though, especially when it came to the actual gaming scenes (I believe they were also playing Onmyoji Arena), so I get why it might be considered more inferior.

Most of the acting in Falling Into Your Smile was fine, but I wasn’t exactly wowed either, even with Xu Kai’s. I see potential though and do look forward to watching them again, including Zhai Xiaowen in Heaven Official’s Blessing, Xu Kai (he’s been extremely busy!) and Gao Han in Ancient Love Poetry, and Yao Chi in Immortality.

To be fair, I was coming off a couple of dramas that had left me in a bit of a show-hole, so I was perhaps more sensitive to the emotional component (or lack thereof). It’s great so many people enjoyed it — I did too — but an 8.7 from me would require a more complex story arc that evokes much stronger emotions, and in my view, there are more deserving, but lower-rated dramas, esports and otherwise, who fit the bill better.

(This is a slightly condensed version of a review I first posted on my drama blog: https://www.solarina.ca/dramaddicts/dramaddicts-blog/2021/7/26/counterpoint-im-not-quite-falling-into-your-smile)

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Ting Wai Bian Hu
9 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Ago 23, 2022
20 of 20 episódios vistos
Completados 0
No geral 9.0
História 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Musical 8.0
Voltar a ver 8.5

Well crafted and underrated legal drama

"Out of Court" is a tightly woven legal drama with superb acting, directing and scriptwriting. Intricately crafted, the story unfolds in two chapters, both of which primarily centre around the legal procedings and investigations of three death penalty cases. The first part is six episodes and takes place over the span of 16 hours, while the second part is told over 14 episodes and takes place before and after the events of part one. Xia Yu's Lu Nan is the main protagonist in "Blind Spot", while Luo Jin's Qiao Shaoting and Jiao Junyan's Xiao Zhen are the main leads in "Drowning Man" ("The Last Straw" in English). Both male leads appear throughout parts one and two.

Out of Court is more than a legal drama, however -- there are mysteries to solves, side cases to crack, and some action thrown in as well. While the story doesn't waste much time getting into the personal lives of the characters (except for perhaps Qiao Shaoting), the ensemble cast still somehow comes across rich and nuanced through their actions, anecdotes of their past, small details sprinkled throughout, and subtle scene elements that might convey anger, arrogance, indifference, compassion, etc. For the longest time, viewers are left guessing as to the motivations of some of the characters (in a good way) -- are they a villain? Ally? Somewhere in between?

As for Luo Jin fans, Qiao Shaoting is a great character, and he plays him with the coolness of Harvey Specter but with a lot more grittiness.

I also found the drama to be an interesting glimpse into China's modern legal system, which dates from the late 1970s following the Cultural Revolution, but really did not gain a footing until perhaps the mid-1980s. (Prior to that, during the Mao period after 1949, law schools and courts were all shut down, with lawyers out of a job.) The story makes references to when certain laws were passed, and at least one side case is inspired by true events. It is impossible for me to gauge how accurately everything is presented; at the same time, viewers should not judge its “accuracy” based on Western civil and criminal laws (as I saw in some of the comments), since even the broad strokes in some legal areas and roles may be quite different.

The drama has a well-deserved Douban rating of 7.7 (at the time of this writing); but by that scale, this really should at least be in the high 8s on MDL. I couldn't decide whether to give it an 8.5 or a 9, since I think it belongs somewhere in the middle, but I opted for 9 to counter the current 7.7 on MDL. (Albeit with just over two dozen ratings only so far, I am not giving too much weight to the score just yet. I will be interested in seeing where it lands once at least a few hundred viewers have weighed in.)

"Out of Court" is not a drama you can watch "in the background" -- I really needed to focus and pay attention to the great dialogue, and if I had more time (which I sadly don't) I would rewatch it again to catch everything I missed the first time.

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Guys With Kids
7 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Jun 5, 2021
42 of 42 episódios vistos
Completados 0
No geral 5.0
História 5.5
Acting/Cast 6.5
Musical 6.0
Voltar a ver 1.0
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A checklist of annoying tropes, frustrating characters

Have you ever watched a show so terrible you were compelled to actually write about it? This was that show for me. Guys with Kids was relentlessly, unmittigatingly, thoroughly frustrating from the get-go. The urge to share how dreadful it was, was so strong that I actually created this MyDramaList account just to pen a review. :P

I’ve never encountered a drama with such an astonishingly frustrating cast of characters who also embodied a checklist of bad tropes. It adopted all of the worst and most annoying plot devices and developments found in the Asian drama library and cranked them up to 10.

No wonder it was shelved for six years before being finally released, presumably on the heels of Luo Yunxi’s success with Love is Sweet.

Some of the most ridiculous elements of the drama (with only the slightest hyperbole) included:

- Everyone was in non-stop crisis mode
- Nearly everyone kept WILLFULLY MISUNDERSTANDING AND READING THE WORST INTO EVERY SITUATION. So much bad faith.
- Nearly everyone stupidly believed the lies told by people they barely knew about those closest to them. Where is the trust?
- Nearly everyone had zero financial sense. The amount of money being borrowed and stolen and lost and loaned felt pretty ridiculous.

Male Lead (Gao Han): PUSHOVER ALERT. I’ve never seen a lead so obsequious, self-effacing, and apologetic about everything to everyone. A “bà dào” (霸道) executive he was most definitely not! (Not that I'm a fan of that trope either :P) He is extremely kind, too generous, too patient — definitely to a fault. There were so many instances where he really needed to stand up for himself, especially to his ex-wife and … he doesn’t. The frustration level is high. I have also never watched a drama with a main character more bedeviled by terrible timing and worse luck. His character alone could be enough to quit the show.

But wait. Just like a bad TV infomercial — there’s more!

Female Lead (Shan Shan): The female lead was equally frustrating in her legal and business dealings. She had little basic common sense and zero skills for reading people (both good and bad).

Second Female Lead (Ma Xiaohong): At first, she seemed like the classic stalker who wanted someone who didn’t love her back, but she really ended up being one of the least frustrating characters — smart, sensible, kind, generous, and pretty kick-ass.

Second Male Lead (Yu Bo): Along with the 2FL, Luo Yunxi’s character and the girl who liked him (Kang Qian) were by far the most sensible people in the entire drama.

Third Male Lead (Wang Dongyang): I believe he was supposed to be the goofball, “slapstick” comedic foil in Guys with Kids. Instead, most of the time he simply came across as an incredibly selfish and self-centered jerk who absolutely did not deserve the amazing girl from his hometown who loved him.

The Baby: Poor kid. He often looked like he was on the verge of tears or outright crying. (For those who wondered, his multiracial appearance is explained or alluded to in a throwaway line near the end of the drama.)

The Obsessed Classmate: She embodied three of my least favourite tropes — an evil character who was portrayed as a little “crazy” and determined to have the person they “love” no matter what the other person wants, and got a redemption arc through a dramatic and sudden 180 change of heart that belied her decades of effort to finally ensnare the ML.

The Ex-Wife: I could not staaaaaaaaannnnd her. She was awful in every way: greedy and grasping (even at the expense of someone else’s life-saving medical treatment), incredibly manipulative, and completely illogical. She also used her daughter against her ex-husband, who loved his daughter, but was too critical of himself to think he deserved to even fight for her. Of course, this drama would not be complete without giving the ex-wife her own Redemption Arc too! Because, why not?

OVERALL

Guys with Kids came across like it was meant to be a slapstick romantic comedy, especially with the third “pairing”, but like so many Chinese dramas that start off as light comedies, it veered into melodrama territory by the final third of the show.

I don’t know if I simply started rolling with it by episode 18 or 19 (everyone still did stupid things and were terrible communicators) or if things actually settled down, but there were fewer annoying moments it seemed — for at least about 10 episodes before my eyes started rolling and my teeth started clenching again. XD

For all its terribleness, I did end up grinning and snort-laughing a fair bit at the ridiculous scenarios, bad dialogue, and the makjang/dog’s blood plot twists. So there you go! Unless all this sounds like your cup of tea, you’ve been adequately warned.

(No English subs yet that I've seen)

(This is a slightly shortened version of a review first posted on my drama blog: https://www.solarina.ca/dramaddicts/dramaddicts-blog/2021/6/3/guys-with-kids-a-checklist-of-annoying-tropes-and-frustrating-characters )

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Cães de Caça
7 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Jun 11, 2023
8 of 8 episódios vistos
Completados 0
No geral 9.0
História 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Musical 8.0
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Great bromance, gripping, high-intensity action, but brutally violent

Bloodhounds is an effortless binge despite the relentless violence and absolutely ferocious fights (of which there are many). With breathtaking build-ups, ridiculous, tension-filled cliffhangers, superb pacing, and tightly choreographed fight scenes and brawls (does it matter that they’re probably also unrealistic?), getting sucked into this drama and leaving some logic at the door is easy.

Bloodhounds is a fairly straightforward story set during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, near the end of 2020 into 2021. Vulnerable families and small businesses in Seoul are struggling financially and turning to predatory loan sharks in desperation. The drama is a classic David and Goliath-type tale about two very talented boxing nobodies seeking justice and revenge as they attempt to bring down the most powerful, vicious, and ruthless of loan sharks.

The series likely won't leave you in a show-hole, but you'll be on the edge of your seat the entire time, heart thumping madly, and rooting for Gun-woo, Woo-jin, and the rest of the team. Chase scenes, for example, often bore me, but the ones in Bloodhounds were among the most thrilling, adrenaline-filled, suspenseful aspects of the series.

Woo Do-hwan continues to demonstrate his acting versatiity. His characters in The King: Eternal Monarch and Joseon Attorney: A Morality really showcased his dramatic range; here, Gun-woo is much more low-key, requiring a more nuanced and subtle portrayal, like the one Woo gave in Save Me. The greatest highlight of the drama, however, is the close friendship between Gun-woo and Woo-jin. One-time rivals in the ring, their contrasting personalities complement each other perfectly and their chemistry is immediate.

The drama is obviously not without its weak spots. The story is not especially complex or deep, and the characters, while compelling, could be more richly developed, especially some of the side characters — I wanted to know more about Mr. Choi, the Knifers, and Mr. Oh. I also wanted to know more about Woo-jin. The unfortunate consequences of Kim Sae Ron's DUI, can be felt towards the end of the series as well. And I wanted just a little more from the ending too. Despite its deficits, Bloodhounds is a solid watch from start to finish -- if you don’t over think the details and can stomach the brutal violence.

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Falling before Fireworks
7 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Abr 6, 2023
23 of 23 episódios vistos
Completados 1
No geral 8.5
História 9.0
Acting/Cast 8.5
Musical 7.0
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Beautiful, healing drama with a lovely ending

This was truly a gem. I wasn't so sure about the OTP after the first episode, but the setting was so gorgeous, I almost didn't care. But I was hooked by the second episode.

The two main characters both had such heartbreaking insecurities and backstories, you couldn't help but root for their happiness and love. They had wonderful chemistry and a healthy, supportive relationship, despite a rocky start. I loved their willingness to make sacrifices for each other -- and their UNwillingness to let the other person make those sacrifices too. I also loved the way they understood each other's deepest insecurities and how protective they were toward each other, even if it wasn't always the best decision.

The side characters also grew on me. Without giving away too much, this drama turned a couple of classic tropes on its head, with certain storylines unfolding in unexpected ways.

During family trips to China when I was young, I remember hearing about the many large, historic buildings that were built without a single nail; I loved how this story was also an ode to traditional craftsmenship and the artisans who protect these endangered skills. (And for anyone curious, this drama was filmed in Wuyi County in Zhejiang, at the Jingyuan Ancient Houses Museum.)

As I mentioned in the comments, I would watch this drama for the scenery and mood alone -- give me a cozy blanket, mini stove heater, a pot of hot tea, rocking chair, a book (or a tablet to watch dramas 🤣), put me in one of these courtyards, and I would be content for daaaaaayyyyys.

It's more of a slow-burn/slice of life story, but I personally found the romance swoony and the backdrop of art and ancient homes absolutely fascinating. The friendships were also wonderful, and I loved the ending. Of course there are flaws and minor quibbles, but overall, I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a quiet and lovely drama.

(Oh, there are also very adorable puppies and kittens throughout -- these magical puppies never seem to grow up despite years passing, lol!)

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Heróis
7 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Jul 7, 2022
38 of 38 episódios vistos
Completados 0
No geral 8.5
História 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Musical 8.0
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A true Wuxia hero

Wang Xiaoshi is such a great, classic hero of the Wuxia genre: pure, selfless, moral and righteous. Joseph Zeng does a solid job portraying his earnestness in the beginning, his sense of duty and justice later, and the pain that comes with the losses and sacrifices encountered by all the greatest Jianghu heroes.

The heart (and heartbreak) of this story is in the bond between the three sworn brothers. Romance is secondary, maybe even tertiary. The female lead is admittedly pretty underdeveloped as a character, but she is not the main focus (to me, she is almost a supporting character, with the 2nd and perhaps even the 3rd FLs carrying more weight). Despite that, and despite her seemingly fluffy and somewhat spoiled personality, I still found her quite likable and very sensible. It's a healthy and supportive relationship with no annoying misunderstandings.

Like most Wuxia stories, our main character is but one of a large ensemble cast of important supporting characters who get a ton of screen time (but not in a boring, draggy way, IMHO): friends, family, respected elders, and powerful villains. Some are simple and somewhat one-dimentional, while others are compelling and intriguing from the moment they are introduced. Yang Tong, especially, is perfectly cast as the mysterious and complicated Di Feijing, and definitely a favourite. I'd love to see him in more leading roles. This is also my first period drama with Baron Chen, who was great as a revered hero and martial arts master within the Jianghu world.

I haven't read the novel, so I have no source material to compare it to. On it's own, I found Heroes to actually be one of the better Wuxia dramas I've seen, especially recently. It is visually well done, and the actors convincingly pulled off the respectable martial arts choreography. Nothing more distracting than obvious wirework and overdone slow-mo-fast-zoom effects! There is a bit of unevenness in the storytelling and some of the character developments, but in my view, none of it is as messy, convoluted or hackneyed as some have suggested. I have a Gold Standard for egregiously butchered storytelling and endings, and this one doesn't even come close! While it won't be high on my rewatch list, it was still worth my time. Don't let the 7.8 (at the time of this writing) fool you. While imperfect, Heroes deserves a much higher rating. (It's a 6.6 on Douban, which is a lot higher than Douban scores for other dramas with much higher ratings than Heroes on MDL (5.8 for Who Rules the World, for example) , in case that helps.)

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Meu nome é Zhao Wudi
5 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Fev 1, 2024
24 of 24 episódios vistos
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No geral 7.5
História 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
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Fun Harlequin bodyguard-trope mini-drama that gets unnecessarily convoluted

My Name is Zhao Wu Di is a rather silly, but sexy and fun mini-drama starring Zhao Yaoke and Leo Yang, that pushes the "skinship" and innuendo boundaries of what we would normally see in C-dramas.

You may have seen Zhao Yaoke in The Day of Becoming You and The Imperial Coroner, both very good full-length dramas. I also liked her in Healing Food, Healing Love with Zhang He. Leo Yang, or Yang Yeming, only came onto my radar last year with the (even more smoldering and boundary-pushing) Republican Era short-length series, Miss Mystery. In Zhao Wu Di, viewers will either swoon over the gratuitous shirtless scenes and his smoldering stares -- or find his "dead-fish eyes" an emotionless turn-off. Cheng Long, who plays the supporting side-kick security guard, was one of the highlights.

Among bite-sized mini-dramas with the "Bodyguard" romance trope, this is one of the better ones in terms of action-sequences, acting, and overall production value -- and unlike the vast majority of short-length dramas, this one was mostly filmed with live audio, meaning the actors are not poorly dubbed by another voice actor. But marring the drama's overall potential is a plot that gets unnecessarily derailed by increasingly convoluted and silly twists as the storyline progresses, culminating in a laughable climax involving the villain and his cellphone (I don't want to give any "spoilers" -- however predictable -- but you'll know when you see it).

Still, if you're looking for a low-commitment drama fix or background watch and your tolerance for goofy plot developments is high, Zhao Wu Di is a quick and easy watch.

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Born in 1990
4 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Fev 23, 2023
16 of 16 episódios vistos
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No geral 8.0
História 8.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
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Nostalgic and sweet, definitely one of the better modern short-lengths

This is clearly an undiscovered little gem. For a short-length series, especially a modern one, this is one of the more well-produced dramas I've seen -- even more so considering it does not have the backing of the major streaming platforms like WeTV or iQiyi, etc. (you can watch it on Jiang Shiqi's Douyin (aka TikTok) account and on YouTube).

While the story is imperfect, and significantly simpler than its full-length contemporaries, it evokes a similar mood as "Wait, My Youth", "A River Runs Through It" and other comparable coming-of-age youth dramas set in the not-too-distant past. Filmed in Xiamen, it's a story about first love, childhood friendships, and contains many of the classic school drama tropes. Wang Zuyi is perfectly cast as the earnest boy next door, and the rest of the actors do an admirable job playing classmates and parents. Episode 7 is perhaps the strongest one, and really illustrates how much story, emotion one can pack into a tight, five minutes. There are some small, but obvious editing issues in a few spots, (e.g. for whatever reason a few lines had to be dubbed, and they really stick out), and a few brief moments in the second half that felt more like the cheesy/cringy short-lengths I've come to expect, but overall, I was impressed with this modest production.

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Healing Food, Healing Love
4 pessoas acharam esta resenha útil
Nov 18, 2022
24 of 23 episódios vistos
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No geral 8.0
História 7.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Musical 7.5
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Nice, light, sweet, and uncomplicated story

This is a cute and light show that does not derail into melodrama three quarters of the way through or get bogged down by annoying exes and villains. Everyone is likable and mature. At no more than 25 minutes if you skip the credits, it's also short and sweet -- a good candidate if you are looking for something easy to watch, but also seeking something with better acting and production values than most of the short-length, modern C-dramas that are proliferating everywhere.

If you are looking for something more sophisticated, however, this isn't it.

All the friendships are just really nice and supportive, the relationships are healthy, the side couples are not annoying or draggy. The villain is kind of bland, and there are returning exes, but they generally resolve nicely in their own way and do not drag on for too long either. There is a brief 2ML/childhood friend that comes onto the scene, but that too is handled with grace and maturity and also does not drag.

It's also nice to see Zhang He in more leading roles after watching him in supporting roles over the years (Three Miles, Love O2O, etc.). He might not be the most amazing actor, but he holds his own and is very likable in this particular role. (He also looks amazing for 38.)

Some might find it all just too vanilla, but overall, I thought it a very pleasant watch with a story line that moves along at a reasonable pace. In my view, this is currently rated low at 7.7 and is worth an 8, even for what it is.

(Caveats and other notes: Like so many modern C dramas, colourism unfortunately comes up briefly in a couple of off-hand remarks. The quality of the dubbing was also very hit and miss. I had to completely ignore clear issues of conflict of interest and ethics as well, especially during the competition at the end. Finally, I found it hilarious that one of the main characters unrealistically held two very demanding full-time jobs.)

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