Tag Archive | best

Beijing Youth 北京青年 Review

 

  • Mainland Chinese series
  • Episodes: 36
  • Genre: Urban Youth, Romance
  • Broadcast period: 2012-Aug

In a nutshell: It’s Gentlemen’s Dignity crossed with Huan Zhu Ge Ge, double dipped in a coat of Who Controls My Youth. In other words: Beijing Youth has fantastical bromance, a roadtrip adventure, and lots of clever, laugh-aloud moments, with some deeper moments of reflection of self to boot.

Keep in mind that the Chinese television industry is still new to modern Chinese serials. When Who Controls My Youth aired in 2008 with well-carved characters and entertaining dialogue, I thought Chinese modern tv series has reached the pinnacle of its brilliance. Anyways, Zhao Baogang is awesome because he decided to treat us Who Controls My Youth fans with an equally smart followup. Occassionally, the story goes melodramatic with relationship crisis and tend to over-emphasize the protagonist’s need to reclaim his youth, but the overall message of the story is inspiring.

Beijing Youth premiered on August 16, 2012 in Beijing TV, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Oriental, Anhui. This drama is directed by Zhao Baogang, and focuses on four cousins ​​born and raised in Beijing, who share a family background, but with different personalities and ambitions. Zhao Baogang considers Beijing Youth the third of his “Youthful trilogy” which included cdrama hits like “Struggle” and “Who Controls My Youth”.

The Story: Each of the 4 cousins names are literally translated as cardinal directions, from eldest to youngest: He Dong (Li Chen), He Xi (Ren Chong), He Nan (He Gang), and He Bei (Du Chun). The first episode gets off with an bang. The eldest, our protagonist He Dong decides to dump Quan Zheng on the day they were to finalize thier marriage certificates (this is how they make marriages official in China). To make things worse, He Dong gives Quan Zheng a ridiculous excuse why they cannot get married. The fiancee is just as baffled as the audience. You want to do what? He Dong said he wanted to “revisit his youth”. Turns out, He Dong hasn’t been a happy camper these years after graduating from college and landing a good job. He was a guy, like many other youths in China, who had parents tell him what he should major in and determine the job that he should get to succeed in life. He didn’t have a choice. To dump his fiance, in his mind, was a way to rebel from his controlled life.

But…It’s not as easy as He Dong thinks it is to get rid of his filial obligations because OF COURSE mom and dad get mad. Plus ex-girlfriend isn’t over him yet, and tries to win He Dong back. Then our protagonist drops another bomb on the family. He Dong actually resigns from his cushy job as a civil servant to explore across China, beyond the life in Beijing. Meanwhile Xi, Nan, and Bei – his 3 younger cousins – all run into their own problems and want to “relive their youth” too. So all of them set off on a roadtrip and finding love along the way, they reach the southern port city of Shen Zhen where they began searching for the paths they truly want to take in their lives.

Reasons to Watch: What I like about this series is the juxapostion that Beijing Youth explores – ideal vs reality, normal vs crazy, love vs desire, filal obligations vs individual self, and finally, lighthearted vs philosophical. Du Chun and the rest of the leads each brought stellar performances to the table. Almost every character’s dialogue brilliantly fit their personality. If anything, the story is hilarious and witty!

It is fascinating that four cousins’ stories are related in some way, and take turns unfolding. Of course the ladies of this show are apart of the fun too! Quan Zheng (played by Ma Su) is He Dong’s ex-fiancee who doesn’t give up on him even though he pulls a douchebag move on her. Quan Zheng is a professor who is quite accomplished academically and careerwise. What I liked about her the most was her change from a clingy girlfriend to a powerhouse woman who can stand up for herself. Ma Su made the character development on the character well. I was rooting for Quan Zheng when she tries again and again to mend the gap between He Dong and herself. QZ grows on you as she changes herself, first for the sake of He Dong, then for herself.

He Xi, #2 cousin, has a complicated lovelife. At first he is enamoured of a gorgeous psychatrist with a past. She is Ding Xiang (played by Zhang Li). This icy princess type of girl continuously pushes him farther away, and he becomes entangled with a responsibility, which inevitably turns into love (abeit ambiguious), for another girl when he rescues her in Yantai, the capital of Shandong province, where the group stayed on their adventure. This second girl that He Xi meets is Ren Zhiliao (played by Wang Li Kun). Ren Zhi Liao has the mentality of a child after a traumatizing betrayal from her previous boyfriend, who is never shown on the show. He Xi takes sympathy on RZL, so he convinces the group to help take care of this girl while they embark on their roadtrip…

He Nan, #3 cousin. Are you keeping up? He Nan just came back from studying overseas in Canada (or was it America). This guy is pretty darn naive… about everything, girls, love, and business. He Nan is the creative cousin who designs a glorified walking cane. He wants to sell it and earn enough to make a living back in China, except he is swindled by many companies and fake representatives of companies. Devastated, he joins his cousins in their roadtrip. Meanwhile, his wealthy, Chinese-overseas “girl friend” Ye Tan (Zeng Yong Ti) who secretly likes He Nan.

Almost done!! Let me introduce He Bei, the youngest cousin, #4! His story is the funniest and I love his sense of sarcastic, little bro sense of humor. Whereas, his girlfriend, Tang Jiao (played by Yao Di) who is a character I initially despised the most. She is a very controlling girlfriend. Everytime her boyfriend He Bei does as much as talk to another girl, Tang Jiao gets crazy. Though, as you will see, Tang Jiao becomes more emotionally secure in the latter episodes, so she becomes a much likable character in the series.

My favorite characters are definitely all the “brothers”, fiancee Quan Zheng and mentally-unstable Ren Zhiliao. Ren Zhiliao’s character is so well-written and adds so much comedy to Beijing Youth! I just love her. Beijing Youth is an enlightening, growing-up story about Chinese youth trying to figure out their aims and life amidst everything else, ya know, pressures of society.

You can watch Beijing Youth on Youku, with little commercial interruption.

Here’s a quick review in Chinese:

“我的青春谁做主”的导演今年暑假再次带给中国的观众一个惊喜。“北京青年”已经变成我的最爱。无论是剧情或人物,非常出色!我们的主角绝对是亮点。他们就是我们可爱的4位堂兄弟。这个故事就讲关于80后的青年们,包括他们想要追求的人生道路还有理想。杜淳的’何老4‘还有 马苏的‘被摔的未婚妻’ 还有王丽坤演的‘神经病疯子’ – 都是“北京青年”里最佳的人物!最爱看他们了!我觉得这部连续剧远远比得过中国播出的都市电视剧。很有趣的台词,还让我看得满地打滚地大笑。你如果没有看,真是错过了好的!

“Ghost Mama Sousasen” First Impressions

Yamaguchi Sensei is back! In ghost form

Can you say, immediate favorite! I was just browsing for anything new on Kaku Kento (currently obsessed with this boy) when I found out he was guest-starring in episode 1 of this drama. All I knew about Ghost Mama was that Nakama Yukie from Gokusen was playing a dead police officer mom. Judging from that gloomy-sounding synopsis I was not particularly anxious to see it. But I gave in for my Kaku-kun and I’m very glad I did! This show is probably the most interesting of the bunch of Jdramas airing this summer.

For starters, Ghost Mama is fantastically hilarious! + Shida Mirai is also in it! Which automatically bumps any drama up a few notches. This kid is my favorite child actress and such a scene stealer. Of course the backstory might leave you with gut-wrenching feel, but after the setup in the premier episode, the rest will likely be a lighthearted, heartfelt watch. As Tokyohive described about the story, “together with her son Tonbo, Ghost Mama is now out to to catch various atrocious criminals in order to settle those old cases. It’s a criminal and human drama in which the characters experience personal growth with each case, mixed with a certain amount of fantasy and comedic elements”. Read More…

Mandopop: “Ai Jiu Jian Ren Xin” by Jasmine Leong

It’s that time of the week again! 😀 Actually, I’ve been saving this song to write for Song of the Week since last week. It is the most soothing love song I’ve listened to in a long time, and in my opinion, Jasmine Leong’s new song takes us farther than just love between couples, but extends its meaning to family – like shown in the music video. Absolutely adore music that transcends the typical “love song” like this one…

Listen to it here: http://www.yinyuetai.com/video/462591

Photo source: Google images

Jasmine/Fish Leong is a popular singer throughout Asia, she has been dubbed as “Queen of Love Ballads”.

The title, which I chose to leave in Chinese pinyin, literally translates to “After Loving One a Long Time, You See the Person’s Heart”.

Sampling Chinese TV Dramas: Embarrassed People’s Happy Lives and Qian Niu’s Summer

Long time no drama post, I have gone around to sample some Cdrama! As far as Chinese dramas are concerned, the major trends are older-girl-younger-men relationships, mother-in-law angsty stories, and plucky-poor-girl vs CEO. Especially alpha women vs beta men (have they perhaps gotten this from Gumiho?? Hmm).

Embarrassed People’s Happy Lives

This is the most appropriate picture to describe this show. A little bit over the top goof-comedy, yet grounded in fast-flying, unforgettable bantering. It’s cool, insightful, silly, but….. a great 30 episodes. I remember giving up on it mid-5th episode, but this drama grabbed my butt and glued me to the screen for a good 25 more episodes. Not my fault. I stumbled across this cdrama, not knowing any of the main characters (except recognizing one hunky actor, Michael Zhang, from his badass playboy character The Outsider days). For more info on Embarrassed People’s Happy Lives in Chinese

Reasons Why This Show Is Amazing

+ Famous veteran actresses who played the most notorious Evil Mothers of Cdrama are nice people in here! Ha. Emperor’s Consort in Huan Zhu Ge Ge and Nineth wife in Qing Shen Shen Yu Meng Meng.

+ It’s not clear who is going to end up with who from the beginnning! Why is this a big deal? Because in every idol drama produced by China, Taiwan, Japan, or Korea – it’s always always obvious from the start who the “meant to be’s” are. Yada yada, so yeah, this boy and that girl are going to fall for each other, he’s not going to accept the feelings and they will fight, breakup and come back together. Boring.

+ If you pay close attention and you’ve seen a good share of dramas, Xiao Dong’s face begans to merge into Hu Ge’s, Xiao Xi begans to resemble Ha Ji Won, and Han Xia grins exactly the way Shida Mirei does. That, or the show has gotten into my head. Now that could be contagious 😉

My Sassy Girlfriend Chinese Version/ Qian Niu’s Summer

This one is all fun and games. Hilarious antics from one scene to the next will seduce you to your seat but also make you want to literally clutch your sides and roll on the floor in giggles. That’s why this series has done to me, no joke. Be cautious, all those people who take things seriously – you will not be able to stomach this. If your female boss is controlling you like a man servant 24/7 , a sane man would get out of her house, quit the job, and call the cops. Luckily for us, Eddie Peng has managed to make his Qian Niu character a lovable (not to mention hilarious!) boy instead of helpless. If you cannot fathom what kind of story this may be – the story is basically a Chinese version of My Sassy Girl, a famous korean movie – except with fully fleshed out sidekicks (eye candy) and lighthearted storyline. For summary and trailer (don’t watch all the way! SPOILERS GALORE)

Reasons Why This Show Is Amazing

+ Well any truly amazing drama can speak for itself, but just for kicks….

+ Eddie Peng (who plays Qian Niu the male lead) has proven me his worth, many times. He can never disappoint with his spot-on comedic timing. Zhang Meng (who plays Xiao Xia the female lead) is finally in an upbeat story for once, so it is refreshing to watch her act comedy. Her previous big hit drama, My Daughters, was really difficult to stomach. What up, Kleenex magnet?

Okay on a final note, I am so excited to catch some more cdrama this summer! For the past two weeks, at least 10 drama trailers have been added to my favorites. So many to watch, but don’t know when they are coming out. Chinese dramas, why do you tease me so? 😦

Taiwanese Dramas to Watch On Gloomy Days

Are you sad? Or mad? Be glad… with TWdramas!

Image Source from Web (found it on Nikki‘s site)

Having my share of Taiwanese idol dramas since ISWAK’s inception into my life in one fine day of ’06, I can only conclude this. TWdrama viewers must either all be fangirls and solely watching for their eye candy (read: hot TV male leads) or they are just very, very lenient on what they watch. If you have seen a TWdrama lately, there’s three things you’ll notice: predictable, two-dimensional side characters, and lots of slapstick humor. Despite all that, I will say that my caveat is lighthearted romantic-comedy. I am especially fond of grabbing a bowl of my favorite snacks to munch and marathoning a TWdrama (not any drama, but specifically a TWdrama) when I need an extra boost of over-caffeinated-romance-and-humor. Ever since I did my top mainland Chinese dramasto watch blog recs, I wanted to make ones to help other asian drama viewers figure out what to watch next. Here are my picks for top Taiwanese dramas to watch. Like I explained in my Intro to Asian Dramas, the Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese have vastly differing entertainment industries, hence the distinction.

Also, if you’re new at this… game, I do advise a little precaution when choosing a drama to watch. Well, okay, same goes for any American TV series, but asian dramas are extra addictive and awesome. You have been warned. Don’t go pick just any drama because do expect to invest a couple hours for enjoyment – it would NOT be a good idea to pick a terrible one and realised you wasted 15 hours (that is, if you do marathon).

PORK BUN DRAMA

Why HANA KIMI TW is my Pork Bun drama: Like a well-made, nostalgia-inducing treat like the bbq pork bun – Hana Kimi TW is a show you’ll want to watch and rewatch. Let me tell you why. It’s doesn’t try too hard. No more, no less. It doesn’t try to be exactly like its manga predecessor even though the story is based on it. It’s endearing and heart-warming. A story about friendship and love and the sillyness in between, trying to figure out who you like. Big on comedy and on friendship, but there’s very cute romance scenes too. The best way to enjoy a drama, personally, is to go watch the show without any expectations except the general story. So when you’re down or when it’s a dreary day outside and you can’t go out – this is my GO-TO drama.

DONUT DRAMA

Why DRUNKEN TO LOVE YOU is my Donut drama: It’s not the wedding ring, I can tell you that. I never even finished a Rainie Yang drama (not even Devil Beside You, that ol classic). I didn’t even know who Joseph Chang was. But soon enough, I fell head over….you guessed it…heels for this drama. Why? I asked myself too. The story wasn’t even original. Girl gets dumped by boyfriend, she signs a fake love contract with a handsome stranger. But, oh! The stellar acting chops, clever dialogue, and lots of real romance – it was exactly what I wanted. Not to mention Joseph was a very refreshing, not idol-like kind of male lead. I’ve always like the original glazed donuts. Once I have one, I can’t stop, even when it has way too much sugar – just like the drama, it has its downfalls and loopholes, but this is still an excellent pick in the sea of TWdrama ‘love contract’ tales.

PUMPKIN PIE DRAMA

Why ISWAK is my Pumpkin Pie drama: When I was young, I never gave this pie a 2nd chance at school every Thanksgiving. My first impression of it was super bad. Only until much later, did I come to appreciate it the subtle but feisty taste. Now I love it. It Started With a Kiss (ISWAK for short) was my first Taiwanese drama. I did not enjoy it because the story seemed so ordinary and subtly sweet. I wanted dramatic love stories. However as more people raved about it, I sort of caved in and tried it once more. I began to see Xiang Qin’s (the sweet heroine, played by talented Ariel Lin) tender love for Zhi Shu in every scene. Even the seemingly muted (mundane) scenes filled with emotion and joy. It’s a very uplifting drama, and if you liked the general outline of the story, you’ll love watching this. This is definitely at a better time for TWdrama than nowadays when all the dramas seem too alike and childish (like the dramas that have abused the comic effect sounds and guffaws).

Documentaries to Watch: Super Size Me, Shoal, Tokyo Superstars

Frankly, I never understood why some people roll the eyes and shake their heads at the mention of documentaries. Were you thinking about Discovery channel’s films on animals roaming the safari with a monotonous narrator? Most documentaries are not boring at all. If anything, they can open your eyes to a whole new perspective on your dieting, health, and people from lesser talked about countries. So! Here are 3 amazing documentary films that will rock your world 🙂

Read More…