Intermezzo: 浮生若水 – 林峯

It’s not often that a drama has a theme song that’s meaningful and reflects the spirit and essence of the story it tells. Fortunately, 浮生若水 by Raymond Lam is that song. This is the ending theme song for the TVB drama The Master of Tai Chi (太極), and I love the melody and meaningful lyrics. Raymond has sung theme songs for quite a few dramas but I feel this is the best of the lot. I also liked his performance in the drama – although he was the second male lead, it was a meaty role that allowed him to show his range. The drama was about a young man Mo Ma (Vincent Zhao) who after a series of events reunites with his mentor and begins to seriously learn tai chi and the Way from him. It had a decent storyline, a very good cast (some of whom are martial artists themselves) and some solid fight choreography – Vincent Zhao is a martial artist and I appreciated that he got to show off some really nifty moves sans stunt double. If there’s one thing Hong Kong has a near permanent advantage over Japan and Korea, it’s the quality of its martial arts scenes. Some of the fight scenes, such as the ones below, were pretty neat: Continue reading

Day 14: Drama that Never Gets Old

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Eh, this is a tough one. I just can’t narrow it down to one, I have tons of dramas that, whenever they come back on TV, I’d just watch them again anyway. Probably not every episode, they’re dramas I usually wouldn’t mind revisiting. There are very few dramas that I’d watch from start to finish, for example Nodame Cantabile and Love Revolution, but for the sake of not repeating them, I’ll just go with this Hong Kong drama called Survivor’s Law – it’s a 2003 drama about young lawyers and is currently on a re-run on my cable channel, so I’ve been able to rewatch it whenever I get the chance. I’ve seen this drama a few times now and know the storyline and scenes all too well, but I never mind the rewatch because it’s pretty enjoyable. It starred Raymond Lam before his face grew longer (go figure) and he sang the theme song too, which was pretty good.

junny@10.46pm

Day 3: Favourite Male & Female Character

Even though I have a clear top two for favourite male character, I’m going to add a couple more just to have a little bit of variety, haha. For a very long while, my favourite male character was pretty much Suga Eiichiro from Love Revolution, because of how Fujiki Naohito portrayed him to perfection. Hotshot journalist with a hidden righteous streak, great kisser, charming and easygoing but not sleazy, and an all-round nice guy in the end… it is arguably Fujiki’s best role (yes, it even outranks Buchou!)

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Suga is still one of the sexiest male characters of any drama, but recently he’s had to take a backseat to Nodame Cantabile‘s Chiaki Shinichi, who’s now No 1. Tamaki Hiroshi’s Chiaki is simply irresistible – that incredible talent! the looks! he cooks and cleans! them white shirts! – how can one not love this guy? I just love it whenever Chiaki is immersed in his music and even though he has very high standards for music and himself, he’s not afraid to admit he’s wrong about things – he does appreciate and respect people who care about music, once he gets round to realising it. He’s a bit slow regarding things not concerning music, but half the fun’s seeing him lose his sanity trying to figure out other (nutty) humans, haha. Even though Chiaki is supremely grudging with showing affection, when he does show it, he pretty much knocks it out of the park.

Chiaki might seem very different from Suga but at heart, they’re really passionate about what they do and are just two guys who don’t recognise love until it threatens to slip away from them. I tend to be a sucker for tropes like this, and both Tamaki and Fujiki were pretty much kanpeki in their respective roles.

Other male characters I really like are Kuryu Kohei of Hero, and Akiyama Shinichi from Liar Game. Before Kimura Takuya’s drama choices went south in the latter 2000s, he had a string of hits and Kuryu is arguably his most memorable (well, enough to spawn a 2014 sequel). I think the role fitted Kimura to a T and he got to display the character’s quirky, misfit charm to the max. He also had wonderful chemistry with Matsu Takako in Hero, which made their pairing particularly memorable. As for Akiyama, I’d never quite liked Matsuda Shota in anything else – he was okay in Love Shuffle, but I think the Akiyama role suited him so well I couldn’t imagine any other actor doing it. Matsuda brought out Akiyama’s know-it-all smirks, trademark laid-back pose, arrogance and confidence perfectly, and made me root for him to outwit his opponents no matter the odds.

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Oddly enough, I don’t have a favourite female character – that’s not to say I don’t like any, but none of them stands out as strongly as the males. But I’d probably go for Quin from Detective Investigation Files IV and Oh Dalja from Dalja’s Spring.  I was a huge fan of this Hong Kong drama and Quin was portrayed by Jessica Hsuan, one of my favourite Hong Kong actresses. I thought Quin was pretty kickass in how she dealt with being in a difficult relationship – she loved Tsui Fei, but constantly had to battle with his memories of his ex-girlfriend, who’d gone missing. She was pretty much the logical and sane one in the volatile relationship, and I really rooted for her. It’s probably my favourite Jessica role, and also because she had such chemistry with Louis Koo, who played Tsui Fei.

Dalja is one of very few k-drama heroines I like. She deals with things in a logical, if amusing (and sometimes feisty) manner and I like how she decided to make the best of a failed crush on her colleague by becoming pals with the guy. While fairly inexperienced in love, she’s not one for bemoaning her fate too much and just gets on with it after a while. I love her relationship with Kang Tae-bong, and it helped tons that Chae Rim and Lee Min-ki had oodles of chemistry to successfully sell the older woman-younger man romance. This is one rare k-drama that I’d totally recommend.

junny@10.11pm

Day 1: Very First Drama/Movie

Never thought I’d be doing one of these 30-day challenges, but I was a little inspired by mochirochi’s posts on this, so here goes – the 30-Day Drama Challenge. I was going to keep this challenge entirely on J-dramas, but that might be too limiting, so I’ll try to include a variety of dramas and also a Japanese component as far as possible.

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I’ve watched many dramas since I was a wee kiddo, so I don’t rightly remember which exactly is the very first. But somehow, I’ve always vaguely remembered images of The Foundation (決戰玄武門) as one of my earliest dramas, so I’ll go with this. This is a 1984 Hong Kong drama about Li Shimin and how he became the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty. If you know your Chinese history, you’d know there was infighting between Li Shimin and his two brothers, which resulted in the Xuanwu Gate Incident, where he assassinated his brothers to eventually take control of the throne. Despite this bloody coup, Li Shimin was always regarded as one of the greatest emperors in Chinese history, and indeed during his reign, the Tang Dynasty flourished in many aspects. This drama had a star-studded cast, such as Miu Kiu Wai, Felix Wong and Barbara Yung, who were very popular back in the 80s and even till now. Story-wise it was okay, but tended to drag a little given the love triangle involved. It did have a wonderful theme song, as was the norm for wuxia dramas back then, although this wasn’t really one since it had a good deal of court politics involved.

Love-Letter

As for my first film, I really can’t remember since I grew up on a staple of Hong Kong films, so I’ll just go with the first Japanese film that left a lasting impression on me. That would be the 1995 film Love Letter by Iwai Shunji, about a young woman, Watanabe Hiroko, who loses her fiance Fujii Itsuki in a mountain climbing accident and in her grief, writes a letter to him but unexpectedly gets a reply from a woman who shares the same name as the dead man. Nakayama Miho was excellent in the dual roles of both Hiroko and female Itsuki, and what unfolded was a beautiful, moving story of an unusual first love and coming to terms with losing a loved one. Acting was solid throughout and there was also plenty of beautiful scenery of Otaru, Hokkaido. Definitely a must-watch.

junny@10.34pm