Meteor Rain


Reviewed by: jeffer

September 08, 2003

Rating: four

* Meteor Rain is a three-part mini-series (three side stories) on three of the major characters from the hit series Meteor Garden. Again, I have watched the series in Mandarin with English subtitles as I am not too well-versed in Mandarin, so forgive any errors/mistakes (in names, etc.).

Characters:

Dao Ming Si a.k.a. A Si (portrayed by Jerry Yan)
Hua Ze Lei a.k.a. Lei (portrayed by Vic Zhou)
Xi Men (portrayed by Ken Zhu)
Mei Zuo (portrayed by Vaness Wu)
Xiao Yo (portrayed by Rainie Yang)
Ai Sha

Plot:

Mei Zuo's Chapter
On an ordinary day out in the streets, Mei Zuo bumps into a girl whom he later realizes has stolen his wallet. He chases her and finally corners her; however the girl is wily and outwits Mei Zuo. Before he realizes it, she has given him the slip.

A few days later, while talking to Dao Ming Si in a café, Mei Zuo spots Ai Sha passing by and follows her, finally cornering her at an Instant Photo Booth. Before bringing her to the cops, Mei Zuo agrees to give her another chance to explain. Ai Sha brings him to a hospital and shows him a sleeping man she refers to as her brother diagnosed with cancer of the stomach, thus her need for the money. Mei Zuo pities her so much that he even writes a check and persuades her to accept it.

The next day Mei Zuo visits the patient and discovers he's not even remotely related to the girl! All he could was laugh for letting himself be duped by the girl twice! He looks for her and finds her at the park feeding stray dogs. This time she agrees to tell him the truth.

Her name is Ai Sha, a Japanese girl who came to Taiwan in search of her grandmother. When she first arrived in Taiwan she had nowhere to go and was taken in by a couple of ladies who taught her how to pick pockets for a living. She now lives with Ma Yi, an old classmate who made her vow not to steal again. However, when they could not find any money to pay the rent, she had to steal Mei Zuo's wallet.

In her search for her grandmother, she decides to join a dance contest on television in hopes that her grandmother would see her. Mei Zuo pities her and promises to help her in her search. When he finds out that her grandmother has already passed away, Mei Zuo does not know how to tell her and decides to keep it to himself.

They grow close and see each other regularly; Ai Sha even manages to convince him to dance with her at the contest. Ai Sha gets a job as a sales clerk at a store and even helps Mei Zuo pick a gift for his ?girlfriend? (he described HER! And she couldn't tell?!): a blue bracelet, even assuring him that whoever gets the gift would surely like it.

At one point Ai Sha is accused of stealing a customer's wallet and is arrested; Mei Zuo bails her out and assures her that he believes her when she says she didn't steal it. Mei Zuo finds himself caring for her more and more and so finds it difficult when he tells her about her grandmother.

Not long after, Ai Sha's mother arrives in Taiwan and patches things up with her daughter. Mother and daughter even manage to win the dance competition together. Unfortunately, Ai Sha has to return home to Japan. As she leaves, Mei Zuo gives her a small box and when she opens it, she finds the bracelet she picked out. She jokingly tells him she was right: whoever gets the bracelet will like it very much. In return, Ai Sha gives back Mei Zuo's wallet ? its contents untouched ? kisses him, and leaves.

Xi Men's Chapter
Xiao Yo returns to Taiwan from Canada and seeks out Xi Men. Although obviously happy to see her, Xi Men still refuses her advances, having reverted back to his old playboy ways. This leads to Xiao Yo questioning him as to why he is such.

Xi Men tells her about a girl he fell in love with years ago. Her name was Xiao Gen, daughter of his mom's friend, and a childhood friend of his. In fact they were so close that Xiao Gen would repeatedly visit him at his home and enter his room ? even interrupting his multiple rendezvous with his girl friends. She would hang out with Xi Men, bring him snacks or just chat around with him. In truth, Xiao Gen was in love with Xi Men but chose to keep it to herself. When Xi Men found out about it, he just dismissed it as a joke and didn't take her seriously.

One day Xiao Gen asked him to meet her on top of a building at 5 in the morning; there was something she wanted him to see. But Xi Men stood her up. She waited while he lay in bed with one of his women. When he later went home, Xiao Gen waited for him and bade him goodbye. That was the last time he talked to her. A few months later he spotted her walking in the street with a guy, looking real happy.

To Xiao Yo he expresses his regret for not going; he will never know what it was Xiao Gen wanted him to see. Xiao Yo takes this as a project. Every night she visits all the buildings on the block, trying to find out what it was that Xiao Gen found.

Soon she finds it out and drags Xi Men on top of the building. There, adjacent to the building, a message appears as the sunrise reflects on it. It says: 'Xi Men, Wo De Zui Ai' (Xi Men, my beloved). Xi Men could not help but cry.

Dao Ming Si's Chapter
Set three years before Shancai arrives at Ying De, A Si gets into a brawl where he seriously injures a man, almost killing him (remember the friend Xiao Xun was avenging in Meteor Garden?).

Dao Ming Si, smarting that his mother does not have plans on coming home to Taiwan for his birthday, refuses to call her and ask for her help to bail him out of a possible arrest. Instead he flees from the cops even as a manhunt is launched for him. Fleeing on a train, A Si jumps and injures his leg. Weak, he faints by the beach and is found by a mute little girl named Xin Xin and her father A Yuan.

Father and daughter take in A Si, not knowing who he is and not really asking much. Slowly A Si learns more about the two and gets used to their simple life by the beach. He develops a bond with Xin Xin. There's a funny scene where A Si refuses to eat some cake Xin Xin is offering and the little girl throws the cake at his face, complete with icing, the works!

He finds out that A Yuan and Xin Xin are not related. They are just neighbors; A Yuan kidnapped Xin Xin to rescue her away from her father who abused her after her mother left them. These traumatic experiences made her refuse to speak and ever since A Yuan has been trying to make her speak again.

It is also A Yuan who tells A Si of the meteor shower legend: when two lovers witness a meteor shower, it can be likened to them riding on the wings of the God of Love (or something to that effect).

A Si eventually decides to go back home and face the consequences of his actions. Unfortunately the cops have traced his phone conversation and A Yuan has to flee with Xin Xin for fear of being caught. Before parting, A Si makes A Yuan promise that they'd meet at the end of the month at the beach, where he will give them some money to flee to the United States and live there.

Back in Taipei, A Si spends a few nights in jail but gets out after the man he has beaten up is declared out of danger. He drives back to the coast to meet A Yuan and Xin Xin but arrives there too late. In a heartbreaking scene, A Yuan is caught and beat up by cops and, seeing this, Xin Xin speaks for the first time, crying out 'Papa!'

Back at the beach, A Si sits back and watches the meteor shower.

In Japan, Ai Sha gazes up and sees the meteors. In Canada, amid the tall buildings, Xiao Yo witnesses the same.

My two cents in:

These side stories establish a lot of information found in Meteor Garden. For example, the significance of the meteor showers and its impact on A Si, Xi Men's detached attitude towards the women he gets close to, the revenge Xiao Xun exacts upon A Si, to name a few.

The performances by the three lead male characters are moderately better than their work in Meteor Garden, and the fact that the viewers are acquainted more with the characters of Xi Men and Mei Zuo helps as they don't get a lot of character exposure in Meteor Garden. But still, they can improve further.

But I see a bit of a conflict here: if A Si's chapter is set THREE years before he meets Shancai, why don't I see any of his abrasive attitude and nastiness? And Dao Ming Si's chapter tends slacken its pace somewhere in the middle part.

Each episode has its own identity, so comparing one with the other would be a bit unfair. Mei Zuo's is lighter and romantic; Xi Men's is more melodramatic while Dao Ming Si's is a tragedy. While some would think each episode ends on a hanging note, I think the creators did just right, finding just the perfect note to wrap up each side story.

Performances:

Jerry Yan as Dao Ming Si
Jerry Yan is given a lot of scenes here that would highlight his talent. Although he does well in some parts, his performance tends to become monotonous as he uses almost the same treatment all throughout. But he makes good use of his eyes as he plays the part of an outsider getting a glimpse of the rustic life of A Yuan and Xin Xin.

Ken Zhu as Xi Men
Ken Zhu is given the chance to test 'serious? waters and does it quite well, especially in scenes of him reminiscing the past. The last scene where he finally breaks down upon seeing the billboard is precious!

Vanness Wu as Mei Zuo
Finally Vanness Wu gets to show that he too could hold his own against the others. In his very own episode, he shines as he also shows some of his other talents (e.g. dancing) and he registers very well on the screen with Ai Sha. They look so good together!

Rainie Yang as Xiao Yo
Now here's a team-up I would have wanted to continue in Meteor Garden! Rainie and Ken have some degree of chemistry that I think should be given more storyline. She looks so innocent and so naïve that beside Ken, she'd seem like his baby sister, which makes their match all the more intriguing.

Ai Sha as Ai Sha
Here's good chemistry when I see one! This Japanese actress is a good choice to play against Vanness? Mei Zuo. She's petite, adorable, a good dancer, and the way she speaks Mandarin sounds so sweet and child-like. When she cries, it's a bit messy, which makes her all the more adorable.

Scenes worth mentioning:

· Mei Zuo's chapter:
- The hospital scene. Ai Sha is so believable as she makes up the story about her ?brother? having cancer of the stomach. I certainly don't blame Mei Zuo for believing in her, hook, line and sinker!
- Their dance rehearsals. Man, can Ai Sha dance!
· Xi Men's chapter:
- At the rooftop, Xi Men weeps after seeing the billboard.
· Dao Ming Si's chapter:
- A Yuan and Xin Xin's reunion after the little girl runs away when A Yuan scolds her. I admit to being reduced to tears.
- A Yuan's arrest where Xin Xin finally speaks.

Soundtrack: Having the same title as F4's debut album, Meteor Rain, it comes as no surprise that the songs played are F4's very own. I'd have to say my favourite is Ken's ?Here We Are?.

Ratings:

Mei Zuo's Chapter: * * * * (out of 5 stars)
Xi Men's Chapter: * * * ½ (out of 5 stars)
Dao Ming Si's Chapter: * * * * (out of 5 stars)


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