In Asian dramas, just like in cosmetics, there is more than Korea to love. Even if the big majority of dramas I watch are Korean, I also save some time for Japanese and Taiwanese dramas, while Chinese dramas recently gained a special place in my heart. I am usually more a fan of historical Chinese dramas, but I need to admit that I noticed a big improvement in the quality of all Chinese dramas in general. A few years ago, every good drama from China was most certainly coming from Taiwan, and movies were from Hong Kong, as both locations were a bit of the Chinese Hollywood. But recently I discovered some new Modern Chinese (mainland China) dramas, and it was love at first sight. Chinese dramas, as compared to Korean dramas for example, have multiple pros and cons. Chinese Modern dramas (meaning set in the modern days) are usually longer that Korean ones, I would say an average of 30 episodes versus 16 for Korean dramas, which for me is rather a weakness as longer dramas tend to drag a bit. Just like in Korean dramas, the main female lead is usually your sweet and naive girl next door, with a few notable exceptions of strong modern working women. Just like in Korean dramas, there is a lot of eye-candy going on, and I admit that some actors such as Wallace Huo, Hawick Lau or Hu Ge totally stole my heart, but the female leads are equally beautiful and refined. In Chinese dramas, both Modern and Historical, you will also find love triangle (or squares sometimes), evil ex or evil step-mothers (less of them in Chinese dramas thought!), and of course romantic love that will make all you teeth fall from sweetness overload. One thing I find quite different in Modern Chinese dramas as compared to Korean, is that they tend to portrait more violent relationships, obsessive-compulsive disorder in male leads and maybe a bit more “skinship”. I think that the love stories are somehow more intense in Chinese Dramas, more like “I die without you” type of obsessive love which spices up a bit the fairy-tale. I also like watching Modern Chinese dramas, to discover new cities and new food (I feel I am familiar with Seoul by now, and I can’t look at Kimchi anymore unless it’s in my plate). So let’s jump to my as usual subjective, top 5 best Modern Chinese dramas.
‘Boss and Me’ is your typical sweet love, poor girl/rich guy story. But Hey! That’s sometimes EXACTLY what we want, right? (or it’s just me?). ‘Boss and Me’ is a story about a young girl who has some super rare blood type, that happens to be the same blood type as the sister of a ridiculously rich young CEO of his self-created company. His company has a non-written policy to favour the recruitment of people with this same blood type, you know – just in case the precious sister is sick or has an accident and needs blood. Sounds a bit gloomy? Well relax, it’s not some perverted vampire story. It’s a hilarious comedy that follows Xue Shan Shan, a slightly silly and naive young girl, who lands the job of her dreams thanks to her super rare blood type. Once in the company, she falls in love and receives love back and everything is just sweet and beautiful. Even if since probably episode 1, you know exactly how the story will go and how it will finish, it is just one of these dramas that will make you smile like a silly person to you computer, drool a bit from all the eye candy, and simply make you happy! One warning though, the main female lead eats a lot! Like all-the-time (note: the alternative title of this drama is “Shan Shan comes to eat”) so don’t watch it hungry! I think I pretty much gained 2-3 kg by the time I finished this drama.
Where to watch it? You can watch it on Viki.
‘Best Time’ is a Modern Chinese drama set in Shanghai, that makes you wanna pack your suitcase right now and travel there. The drama is about Su Man, a successful working woman in her 30, that quits her managerial job to become a junior in a big firm to follow her college-years crush. Although she graduated many years ago she still couldn’t forget Song Yi, who used to be the star of her college Basketball team, and now is a successful and charming manager at a big company. But of course when Su Man joins the big firm, things can’t go as planned, and she goes through nightmare while working under work-obsessed (and devilishly sexy) manager Lu Li Cheng. You got it – it will be an intense love triangle at work. I liked this drama because I used to work in the financial industry, and I could totally picture myself at her work as it is shown in a rather realistic manner. Plus, there are actually a lot of working scenes, which is somehow refreshing considering that in most Asian Dramas people seem to have money without working a single full day in their lives. In ‘Best Time’, work is the central point of the Drama, as it is the place where the love and the hate (or love-hate?) takes place. I loved how this drama was far away from a fairy-tale, and told a very believable modern story with mean bosses, cruel colleagues and love disappointments. Best of all? The drama offers alternative endings – you can watch two different “last episodes” and basically choose the ending you like most – this way everyone is happy.
Where to watch it? You can watch it on Viki.
‘My Sunshine’ casted the same main lead as ‘Best Time’, the ordinary handsome and talented Chung Wallace, and also takes place in Shanghai, but the story is very different. ‘My Sunshine’ first takes you back to college years of our main protagonists, with a totally different set of actors (and the young crew was amazing!). In college, a cheerful young girl called Mo Sheng, conquers the cold heart of college prodigy and popular student Yi Cheng, only to disappear in unclear circumstances a year after meeting him. In the USA, Mo Sheng faces many difficulties and soon meets an older famous businessman, but still can’t forget her first pure love for Yi Cheng and decides to go back to Shanghai. Back in China, she coincidentally meets Yi Cheng, who seems to totally hate her for abandoning him. ‘My sunshine’ is an utterly sweet and a bit slow paced love story. I usually avoid slow paced dramas, but strangely for ‘My Sunshine’ I didn’t really mind. The story is just so incredibly romantic, about this kind of love that only few can encounter in life and that is intense and unforgettable. The actors did a good job, there was a good balance of love, work and great pictures of Shanghai, and the music was really beautiful (I have downloaded two songs from the OST!). It was not the most original story on earth, even if it is based on a popular novel, but this drama was so relaxing and charming that I will definitely watch it again. Be aware that there are two versions of this drama, the long (normal) version of 32 episodes that I watched, and the “cut” short version. I heard it is a bit difficult to follow the story in the short version, if you haven’t watched the long one before, and also the young cast is not playing in the short version (instead we have our adult actors dressed in college clothes) so I really recommend watching the long version.
Where to watch it? You can also find it on Viki.
‘Scarlet Heart 2’ is a Chinese drama which despite suffering from sever censorship remains a great drama that deserves attention. It was originally supposed to be the Modern days sequel of the popular Historical time-travel Drama ‘Bu Bu Jing Xin‘, in which a modern days girl time-travels back to the Qing Dynasty to live a reverse-harem all girls dream (note: ‘reverse-harem’ is a manga concept for stories in which several hot guys fall for the same female lead). In the sequel, she was simply supposed to reunite with her past lovers in the contemporary world. But here is the catch – by the time the drama was supposed to air, Chinese censorhip decided that time-travel dramas are distorting the Chinese cultural heritage and thus should be completely banned. As the drama was already entirely pre-produced, the director made some last minute cuts that basically erased all reference to time travel or ancient times, and instead concentrated on the modern-days plot and love story. Luckily, die-hard fans of ‘Bu Bu Jing Xin’ (such as myself) will still find plenty of discreet references to this amazing Historical drama, while others will simply enjoy this great drama as a stand-alone piece. ‘Scarlet heart 2’, starring my beloved Chinese actress Liu Shi Shi, tells the story of a modern woman that works in a big firm and attracts the romantic attention of her big boss (who is 4th Prince in ‘Bu Bu Jing Xin’ YES – YES). The story is relatively fast-paced, displays great acting and an intense love triangle/square in contemporary China. There is again great music and beautiful pictures, and the drama is totally enjoyable without knowing the original ‘Bu Bu Jing Xin’ story (even though it is probably a much better experience for the fans of the historical drama). Bonus point – the two main actors, Liu Shi Shi and Nicky Wu, are a real-life married couple, and the chemistry between them on screen is out of this world.
Where to watch it? You can watch it on Viki (yep, they have a lot of Chinese dramas).
‘Love Me if You Dare’ is a totally different type of drama than the previously mentioned dramas, but I still need to place it at the 1st place as it made a very strong and lasting impression on me. It is a very recent drama (2015), starring the amazingly sexy Wallace Huo in the role of a genius criminal profiler set to solve the most complicated and twisted serial murder cases. Our genius profiler has the incredible gift of literally getting into the criminals minds (with very scary crime reconstructions) that allows him to solve the most complicated crimes. He will be joined by a beautiful assistant that will give him a fresh, and more down to earth, vision that will help him solve his cases. This 24 episodes drama, will go through several criminal cases while still gravitating around one case of a psychopathic murderer of which our main enigmatic profiler was a victim. This drama is sometimes scary, sometimes romantic, often funny and constantly intense. Start watching it on holidays, because you won’t be able to stop. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat – I was constantly thinking about this drama, and when it ended I felt an emptiness rarely felt before. Somehow this drama has a bit of an ‘American feel’ (it even stars a couple of english speaking characters), so if you are relatively new to Asian drama it could be a good start. The first few episodes are a bit slow, but trust me, hang on there and you won’t regret.
Where to watch it? Again Viki (and I swear these are not sponsored, Viki just has it all!)
- Honorable mention – Love o2o (later edit!)
This is a later addition to this top 5 review, as I finished this drama recently and I totally fell in love with it! “Love o2o” is the story of Bei Wei Wei, a computer science student and gaming expert, who juggles between her studies and her favorite online RPG (Role-Playing Game). In the game, she is playing a red fighter, Wei Wei who is famous for her free spirit and fighting skills. While the game features an open world concept with lots of fights and monsters, it also allows its players to exchange through chat and form game-couples to join forces against the monster and game bosses. This is how Wei Wei meets, the Master – the most mysterious and skilled male player of the server. Little does she know, that the Master is a popular senior student at her university who approached het to know her better after he saw her playing at an internet cafe.
This drama is just the perfect combination of university life, game-geek environment with reconstructions from the online game and romance. This drama is light, innocent, funny and relaxing and will definitely make you smile! The supportive cast is also funny and adds some cute side stories to the drama. Recently “Love o2o” became my most recommended Chinese drama for whoever of my friends is looking for an easy-going sweet romance drama.
‘Summer’s Desire’ is technically not a Chinese drama, as it is labelled as Taiwanese and casts Taiwanese actors. But I just had to mention this drama as it is my ALL TIMES FAVOURITE drama. And still… this drama, based on an amazing Manga, has more imperfections than I can count. The acting is kind of stiff, you literally wanna strangle (and then dump her body in a garbage) the main female lead, the image quality available online is so-so (it is relatively old) and the choice of clothes in this drama is questionable but GOSH – this drama is amazing. It will capture your heart and then tear it into pieces (Or maybe I am the only crazy one?). The story is untypical, the love triangle is EPIC (the drama literally takes all first places when it comes to intense love plots), the characters are complex and the main theme music is haunting. Yes, I kind of hate Barbie Hsu (the main girl) acting, but she did a good job in portraying a complex, cold and not-so-likeable female lead untouched by the two guys crazy (to say the least!) love for her. The story takes place in the entertainment industry and is relatively short for Chinese/Taiwanese dramas (only 14 episode!). Personally, I have watched this drama 4 times already and I am soon planning to watch it again. This drama simply has this magical ‘something’ that makes it my all time favourite drama.
Where to watch it? You can also find it on Viki.
So that would be it for my top 5 Modern Days Chinese dramas (and don’t even get me started on Historical Chinese dramas, cause’ they are a few here!). Do you also like Modern Chinese dramas? Which ones are you favourite and why?
Filed Under: Asian DramasTagged With: Dramas
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