Romance in the Rain


Reviewed by: Joie

November 10, 2005

Rating: four

INTRODUCTION

"Qing Shen Shen Yu Meng Meng", or "Romance in the Rain", by Taiwanese drama writer Qiongyao, is a rewrite of one of her earlier works and dramas, "Yan Yu Meng Meng", or "Misty Rain". This newer version of the story added new characters such as Du Fei and Li Ke Yun, and, in general, lightened up the distressing mood. Like << Yan Yu Meng Meng >>, it follows the life of one very odd family - and the trials and tribulations that tear them apart and make them stronger.

THE PLOT

"Romance in the Rain" begins with two weddings, two brides, and one husband. When Lu Zhenghua, a respected general, meets Fu Wenpei, a young lady from a wealthy family, on the streets, he is instantly drawn to her. The next day, his Assistant Li arrives at Wenpei's house to deliver her a package for marriage. To her surprise, there is no bridal gown, but an equestrian outfit. Like that, Wenpei becomes his eighth wife.

One year later, Lu Zhenghua meets Wang Xueqing at an opera house. After watching Xueqing's performance, he marries her in a similar process. Xueqing becomes his ninth wife.

When the Japanese cause trouble in Haerbin, where Zhenghua lived as a respected general, he moves to Shanghai. With him, he brings only his eighth and ninth wives - Wenpei and Xueqing, and Assistant Li's family. In Shanghai, Xueqing manages to get Zhenghua to kick both Wenpei and her only living daughter, Lu Yiping, out of the household. Yiping and her mother live on an allowance of twenty dollars a month in a small, plain house, while Xueqing and her four children (from oldest to youngest: Lu Erhao, Lu Ruping, Lu Mengping, and Lu Erjie) live a life of riches. The Li family also mysteriously disappears, to nobody's knowledge but Xueqing's.

The greatest conflict begins when Yiping arrives at the Lu household in order to bring back her monthly allowance. She is greeted by coldness from everybody except her half-sister, Lu Ruping, who tries to stir some conversation with her. Even Erjie, her youngest half-brother, treats Yiping with disrespect.

Her father, Zhenghua, gives her the twenty dollars, but Yiping insists that twenty dollars is no longer enough to pay for their expenses. When Xueqing convinces Zhenghua that Yiping does not need the extra money, Yiping flies into a rage and insults her father. Zhenghua uses his horsewhip to beat Yiping, causing Yiping more anger. When she finally earns the money, she vows never to take any of Zhenghua's money, and that she will laugh to see all of them cry.

After leaving the Lu household, a wounded Yiping bumps into He Shuhuan and stays at his house for a short while. She is extremely cold to him, but Shuhuan is still intrigued by this girl.

In a desperate need for money, Yiping looks for work. Because of her low qualifications, she is unable to find a job anywhere. When she arrives at Da Shanghai, a nightclub owned by the well-known Qin Wu Ye looking for a job, she ends up displaying her vocal talent and beauty. Qin Wu Ye offers Yiping a job as a 'ge nu' ("song girl"). Because jobs at nightclubs were considered low, Yiping rejects the offer, but later finds out that the only way to make ends meet is to work as a singer at Da Shanghai. She lies to her mother that she found work in an office and begins working at Da Shanghai.

Meanwhile, Ruping, a university student, meets two reporters: He Shuhuan (name sound familiar?) and Du Fei on a bus when they ask her to guard their film. Du Fei develops a strong interest in Ruping, but Ruping falls in love with Shuhuan. However, she does not admit her feelings. Shuhuan, unaware of Ruping's feelings for him, treats her like a special friend.

During Yiping's first night working at Da Shanghai, she encounters Shuhuan again, and Shuhuan falls in love with the beautiful and talented Yiping. Although Yiping has no interest in Shuhuan at first, she soon finds out that Ruping likes him. In order to plot revenge against the other side of the Lu family, she accepts Shuhuan's love. However, she later finds out that she has truly fallen for Shuhuan. Ruping, hurt by their relationship, tries to erase her feelings for Shuhuan, but her attempts are futile. Du Fei tries to court Ruping by sending her several gifts, but Ruping cannot seem to forget Shuhuan.

At the same time, another sub-plot is occuring. Fang Yu, Yiping's best friend, soon develops an interest in Yiping's half-brother, Lu Erhao. Yiping is strongly against their relationship because of family matters, but Fang Yu and Erhao are as happy as can be. Their joy is ruined, however, when Yiping discovers Li Keyun, the daughter of her father's Assistant Li. Keyun and Erhao were childhood sweeties, and after Keyun became pregnant with Erhao's child, Xueqing ordered the Li family out of the household. After their departure, Keyun later gave birth to Erhao's child, but the infant died of pneumonia. From that day on, Keyun developed a mental disease. Erhao is in love with Fang Yu, but feels guilty about Keyun. Fang Yu also finds accepting Keyun difficult.

PLOT ANALYSIS

The plot is generally very good - lots of juicy relationships and details. However, the series is long and drags on and a couple episodes could have been cut out. Du Fei's mishaps became a little annoying after a while, but they did add humor to this series. I felt that the arguments between Yiping and Shuhuan were too high in number - they break and make up so many times that it becomes redudant. The character Keyun was not one I particularly disliked, but their journey to find her memory is much too long.

If you found the plot of "Huan Zhu Ge Ge" I-II, or "Princess Pearl" I-II overly predictable, "Romance in the Rain" is quite similar. While the story begins with Yiping's suffering, everything seems to work out really well at certain times and lacks the harsh reality of life.

In general, this series was rewritten so that lovers of HZGG would enjoy it too. It all shows - the cast, the storyline, the romance.

MAIN CAST/CHARACTERS

The cast is very similar to HZGG, except that Zhou Jie is replaced by Gu Juji. The two series are really very similar, although set in a different time period and with different relationship issues.

Vicki Zhao Wei - Lu Yiping: All those who know Vicki from HZGG are sure to be surprised by the new angle she offers. She really gives the character depth, presenting her soft side, arrogant side, rude side, romantic side. I have to say that Vicki's acting is what got the series going - it was only her scenes that made me cry.

As for the character Yiping, she is definitely one I can sympathize with. Perhaps it was Vicki's acting. I could really understand her emotions. She was just such a complex person - she had a hard shell, but a really soft interior. The way she falls for Shuhuan, a man she intended on using, is so sweet, and the way she suffers when he is away from her is sweet as well. In addition, she is a very strong person and really stands up towards her father, unlike her mother. In "Romance in the Rain", Yiping also has much more goodness in her heart than in "Yan Yu Meng Meng", when she seemed like the manipulative one. An absolutely complex character and actress combined in one.

Ruby Lin Xinru - Lu Ruping: I would have to agree with everybody else when I say that Ruping became a very shallow character. In "Yan Yu Meng Meng", she was not as pretty or confident, but her soul was the purest. In this one, she becomes so manipulative! There is the scene where Du Fei prepares a dinner for her, and she practically asks him to help her get Shuhuan and says that if he truly loves her, he should help her. She totally uses Du Fei! And in the end, her relationship with Du Fei is extremely underdeveloped and their marriage really does not give us the idea of true love. While Ruping wears a mask as a sweet and pretty girl, she is really very selfish and manipulative in this series. I do not like her character change very much.

As for Ruby, I have no complaints at all. She performed her role very well - her acting has certainly improved since HZGG I. The script was what really created an annoying Ruping, not Ruby. There was one thing I disliked about Ruby's acting though - the thing she does with her lip when Shuhuan gets hurt.

Leo Gu Juji - He Shuhuan: Before I go any further, I need to make it very clear that I am not a fan of Leo's work, so my comments might be slightly biased. However, this is a review, and therefore it is opinion.

Actually, I did not hate the character Shuhuan very much - he was in a very difficult situation and tried his best to comfort both girls. However, I disliked the part where he didn't even give Yiping the chance to explain. His temper is definitely very fiery, which is a little shocking. Leo seemed too hyper to play Shuhuan, like when he goes and causes a racket with the Japanese - what was that all about?

Alec Su Youpeng - Du Fei: Alec's first attempt at humor was really not an unsuccessful one. I liked this character fairly well...very light-hearted, just rather predictable. He was also very selfless, and gave up everything of his for Ruping. In addition, he didn't ask for anything in return, and continued loving Ruping, even when he knew her entire heart was with Shuhuan.

I guess it is a little disappointing for me to see Alec working with a role like Du Fei. He definitely did a quality job - it didn't seem to be a challenge though. Qiong Yao made her new character, Du Fei, more of a comedian than another character involved in a serious relationship issue. It would have been nice to see Alec working more with Vicki - I like watching them collaborate together.

COMPARED TO "YAN YU MENG MENG"

All I have to say for this is that if you liked the original "Yan Yu Meng Meng", you are not going to like this new, blissful version. However, some people might prefer the lighter tone of "Romance in the Rain". Although many people might disagree with me, I believe that "Romance in the Rain" is better than the original work, but that might be because I saw this version first.

One of the other differences is that this series focuses more on love relationships. New characters such as Du Fei and Keyun have been added to make this story more...soapy. In addition, the character Du Fei adds a new element to the story - humor.

I am not going to give a full synopsis about "Yan Yu Meng Meng". The plot is somewhat similar, although several things have been changed. "Yan Yu Meng Meng" ends in distress and tragedy. It's out there for all of you to read and watch, if you wish. "Romance in the Rain" is certainly less realistic and more comical - the characters were written that way, the story that way, and the actors did their role. Which one is better is simply a matter of opinion.

SOUNDTRACK

One word: wow. Compared to the naive songs and tunes that characterized "Huan Zhu Ge Ge" I-II's music, this one truly hits the heart. Vicki Zhao has definitely improved her technique - her voice is much more tender and sweet than before - a dramatic difference compared to "Huan Zhu Ge Ge" II.

Buying the soundtrack is not a bad idea - a much better deal than Vicki's first album, "Swallow". It's a double-disc package, so you'll also hear bonus tracks. There are some quality songs, my favorite of which are "Hao Xiang Hao Xiang" and "Li Bie De Che Zhan". I like listening to Vicki sing more than Leo, but I have to admit Leo does have a pretty good singing voice.


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