Th-Drama: A Tale of Thousand Stars (8.2/10)

Gambling, guns, girl on a bus. That was the beginning of this drama. It was definitely exciting enough and a little mysterious.

It wasn’t clear right away who each character was or what was going on, but I was very interested to find out.

Tien is in the stripes.

Then there was a death and an operation where the main lead Tian gets a heart replacement. His parents who were rich and prominent used their money and status to skip the normal donor line to ensure that their son received a heart in time.

It’s definitely an ethical dilemma. I would likely do the same thing to save my own kid no matter how wrong it was. For most parents, our kids are our lives, the moon, the stars, everything.

The mom in this show grabbed me by the heartstrings before the parents knew they had a donor by crying that she wished it could be her instead of her son.

After this part, the show lost me a little. Tian (the main lead) woke up and heard they had jumped the line for him.. He was mad and upset and also frustrated that his mother was always around making sure he followed the directions given to him about living safely post surgery (so mean of her – eyeroll).

I understand being disappointed that your parents would make an ethically gray decision, but kid YOU LIVED and have a potentially long life ahead of you now. BE GRATEFUL. GEEZ.

Instead Tian acted spoiled and surly to his parents and then went in search of information about the organ donor.

Once he found out who it was, learned the story of her death, and gained access to her journal he became extremely guilty, along with angry and decided to go where she had been and complete the projects she had started.

At this point I almost dropped the show and did stop watching for the evening. Tian’s inability to be thankful that he was alive and privileged, and his outright animosity for his parents who clearly loved him a lot was too much.

BUT I decided to keep going the next evening, mostly out of laziness since I didn’t want to pick out something new and from curiosity. I am really glad I kept watching.

Tian did grow on me. He became a lot sweeter overall, although never to his mom (grrr). I mostly liked him even though he did do at least one thing so stupid I could hardly take it. I actually said out loud “don’t do that, don’t be that dumb.” And then he went ahead and did that dumb thing. (No. I don’t talk my way through shows – most of the time – and this was technically to my kid who in all honestly had tuned out and didn’t care what I was talking about. If you want a spoiler to that extra stupid thing he did, just ask in the comments.)

Tian’s journey took him to a small, rural village in the North of Thailand with no running water or electricity where he would teach children. He was met by a stern and strict forest officer known as Chief Phupha who was not impressed with Tien’s rich kid attitude and spent a lot of time yelling and lecturing him. The Chief also noticed that some of the things the Tien did reminded him an awful lot of the last teacher there, who he had been close with (the one who unbeknownst to him was Tien’s heart donor).

Then like all dramas annoyance and hate turned to secret glances and flirting and then eventually love, despite a series of setbacks.

Most of Tien’s clothes were awful in this show, especially his pants, and the Chief almost always wore a uniform. I actually think the Chief should have just gone shirtless most of the time which would have made for a better wardrobe and better viewing.

This is actually when the drama picked up. I give almost all credit to Earth Pirapat Watthanasetsiri who did such a fantastic, phenomenal acting job that I think he carried a lot of the show. Earth is a veteran BL actor who has played multiple supporting roles. Neither Earth or Chief is my type but the acting was good I had a small crush on the chief by the end of the show.

Note of apology to boys out there, Earth is yet another Thai BL actor who is in a relationship with a girl and likely hopes to transition into straight dramas like some of his friends have. But he does a great job, especially in this show, which really is the mark of a great actor.

Sahaphap Wongratch, who played Tien, was alright. In a lot of ways, his character was like a very flighty flirty girl. He was able to play angsty, which not all actors can do. I give him that. It turns that Sahaphap is studying to be a veterinarian IRL, which I love.

The village

A lot of the show centered around Tien doing something well meaning but dumb, and the Chief being annoyed at first and then finding him adorable. It was also about Tien assuaging his guilt, and finding meaning and happiness in his life despite being somewhere with no amenities where he couldn’t spend his money, except on snacks from one of the shows sponsors ๐Ÿ˜‰ (One of the things that makes me laugh most about Thai dramas is the BLATANT product endorsement that happen repeatedly throughout a show. The products rarely fit in with the plot at all but are added in all the time anyway).

The show also has a number of action scenes since the Chief is a forest officer and there’s a subplot with bad guys, but honestly, they are all pretty cheesy.

The things that make this show so good are Earth, as previously mentioned, His acting really was stellar. The sweet, slow burn romance. The villager characters who were all entertaining to watch. The Chief’s doctor friend and Tien’s two friends were the best friends that anyone could have. And the overall vibe during a lot of the show went from thoughtful to joyful. The characters spent a good amount of the show being happy, which was fun to watch. There was also a pretty good OST.

C-Drama: A Journey to Meet Love (8.6/10)

First, I have to say that this drama has a stupid name, which may also explain why it was 5th in the ratings in China last week despite being an amazing show. Guys and other people who aren’t into pure romances and romcoms probably don’t realize from the name that this show is so much more than that. It is action, slice of life, romance, mystery, intrigue and cop show all in one.

This show is so good that I will probably judge all other c-dramas by it in the future the same way I do with A Love So Beautiful. I highly recommend you watch it, even if you don’t normally watch Chinese dramas. I’m just a little more than halfway through and I already like it so much that when Vidfish had technical problems so only the subs were visible, but not the show itself and Youtube had raw episodes I McGuyvered it so I could read the subs on vidfish on my phone while watching the show on Youtube on my computer. I mean, thatโ€™s dedication.

Why I like it so much:

The plot is really interesting

It is about an undercover cop who ends up investigating a girl in her twenties who is somehow involved in an art theft and potential drug or money laundering operation. He is tasked with learning abut her role and retrieving the stolen art. The audience gets to know right away what her role was while the cop has to put the puzzle together himself by embedding himself in her life using false pretenses. The leads and supporting characters end up on a trip together across part of China where the girl and cop take part in a reality show while gangsters and thugs of all kinds follow and try to take them out. And of course feelings develop, but this drama makes the romance part a much longer, more natural progression than many others, which is nice.

The scenery is incredible

The characters drive from Shanghai to Shangri-La and I could not ask for a better tour of China. Not to mention that the people filming are really talented. A lot of the shots are stunning.

The law enforcement element is very well done

One of my favorite parts of this drama are the law enforcement scenes because of the way the investigation is portrayed. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly realistic, but it’s close for drama world. It’s a lot of logistics and coordination, but in an interesting way. And the relationship between the fairly conceited cop and his boss is fun to watch. I wish all shows about law and order were like this.

There are a lot of fight scenes

Almost every episode has a fight scene with lead actor Chen Xiao against one or more people. They are really well choreographed and he does a great job, which I judge because I watch his fight scenes with the same breathlessness that I watch Jackie Chanโ€™s.

The character development is fantastic

Every single character is interesting and has been completely fleshed out during the drama to the point where you could imagine that they exist in the real world.

The lead male character Jin Xiao Tian is insanely likable despite the fact that his undercover persona is slightly annoying and loserish. Its because he is clearly a determined cop, with a tongue and cheek humor who continually protects people, sometimes at his own expense. And his fight scenes are badass. And even though he isn’t my type, he is appealing in a puppy dog eyes, superman savior kind of way. I presume this is because Chen Xiao is close to perfecting the craft of acting and embraced the character wholeheartedly.

The lead female is slightly less likeable to me, but I don’t blame actress Jing Tian who did a great job with her. She plays a girl that (although scheming) is very low maintenance, and self reliant, and mostly on the side of right. My issues with her are that she is somewhat self absorbed, willing to tank other peoples plans to ensure hers are safe. And she will not listen to Jin Xiao Tian even though he keeps proving that his advice is good, so she keeps getting herself and him and others into dangerous situations. Of course this drama would be much shorter if she didn’t do this, so I get really annoyed when it happens and then grin and bear it.

Second lead He Min Han who plays Chu Zhi Han, who is an heir, business startup owner and the coordinator for the trip the characters are on is pretty much faultless in his performance. His character strives to be kind and ethical at all times, even when it hurts him. Although he is single minded when it comes to a lady he likes and unable to see past her to any other options. The lady after him was Qin Shan, a professional livestreamer who is also very likable, as is Chu Zhi Han’s’s best friend A Pei and the entire cast of parents and baddies and law enforcement agents.

My only gripes so far are the leading ladies bad decisions and the fact that one of the villains isn’t all bad, so it’s hard to hate him. There are also long musical interludes, which are nice but sometimes I just want to get to the action.

Watch this show. Really! You won’t be sorry.

K-Drama: Cunning Single Lady (8.5/10)

This is one of my favorite k-dramas.

When I first read the synopsis I was so-so on it. And the name didn’t help. Luckily MDL rarely does me wrong. Most viewers seem to have similar opinions as me on shows so I can trust most of the ratings and reviews. And the reviews for this show were good. I am actually rating it higher than they did because it checks all the boxes on the things that I think make up a good drama. I rate it 8.5/10.

Basically if you ignore the plot summary and read mine instead it may sound better:

Young couple gets married with the expectation that the husband will work in civil service and the wife will be a homemaker. Except the husband decided to start his own business, which forces the wife to support them both until she can’t take it anymore. After a series of events, she divorces him and tries to work her way out of debt (accrued while supporting him) and poverty. He is heartbroken and thinks his wife broke her promise to stand by his side, but his business succeeds and he becomes a sad single* successful, wealthy businessman.

The ex-wife who is still struggling learns of his success and decides to get revenge, but its hard when she still deep down loves him…

The plot is good, but what really makes this drama is the cast. Lee Min Jung who plays the ex-wife is fantastic (Note: She is currently one of my favorite actresses). Joo Sang Wook who plays the ex-husband is adorable, so adorable, even when you want to kick his character, you also want to smile at him i.e. his ex-wife’s dilemma becomes every viewers dilemma, thanks to his performance. And the supporting lead is none other than Seo Kang Joon (one of my favorite actors and cause of my 2nd worst case of second lead syndrome in Cheese in the Trap).

I like the characters in a Cunning Single Lady, which were well developed, was absorbed all the way through and really happy with the end, which is all I can really ask for out of a drama. These are also the reasons why I recommend it.

*Bridgette Jones reference ๐Ÿ™‚