Chen Zai Tian is a lazy cop who spends most of his time picking up women, despite having a reputation as the best crime-solver in his district. After unwittingly hooking up with his boss’s daughter, he is forced to transfer to a different district. His partner there is Ying Xiong, a brave but rash cop who thinks nothing of driving his car into the river in order to catch a criminal. With their completely different styles and motives, the two are constantly butting heads. They gradually develop a precarious understanding as the death toll rises and the clues start to point to conspiracy involving the highest level of politics, military, and law enforcement.
Vic Zhou as Chen Zai Tian
The last time I saw Vic Zhou was in Meteor Garden and I could barely understand a word he spoke. Fortunately, he has improved quite a bit since. I thought he did a very good job depicting the fun-loving and flirtatious side of Chen Zai Tian. The angst-ridden parts were a bit spotty though. Sometimes he hit the right note, other times I thought he overacted. In particular, I noticed during some intense scenes, his face twisted oddly. I also thought he was better with Ying Xiong than he was with the girls. As for the character, my one complaint is that I think they should have allowed Chen Zai Tian to stay “bad” for a little longer. He went from betraying Ying Xiong and trying to arrest him, to risking his life to save him in the next scene. I think the last few episodes were kind of rushed so that might have been part of it. It was also unclear to me how he felt about Chen Lin but I’ll go into that more later.
Mark Chao as Wu Ying Xiong
I was impressed because this is Mark Chao’s first time acting. The “heroic” role can get annoying pretty easily so I thought he did a good job. Of course it helped that he looked the part. His acting is raw but I think that actually helped in this case, because it suited the character. He did a pretty good job with the emotional scenes, but like Vic Chou, also overacted sometimes. I thought he had a better connection with the two female leads, as much as the writing allowed.
Ivy Chen as Chen Lin
I watched Ivy Chen in I Want to Become a Hard Persimmon and she stole that show for me. She has a sweet and sympathetic face that makes it easy to root for her. However, I don’t think that was utilized in this series. I understand what the writer and director were trying to do, but they failed to develop the character, so instead she became the caricature mob boss’s daughter. I had trouble understanding why all three men in the series were in love with her. I think it was supposed to be obvious, so obvious that they forgot to tell us altogether. In the beginning, we learn that she is pretty, kick-ass, independent, loyal, and conflicted regarding her mob background. I thought that was a good beginning, but then the character started behaving in ways that didn’t match what they set her up to be. She led both main characters on and got herself into lots of trouble. She SEEMED to be the type who would be slow to fall in love but would fall hard. I don’t see her being wishy-washy and melodramatic. I felt like the writer/director took the cheap route and turned her into a pretty girl who is the source of drama. For example, while she was supposed to be interested in Ying Xiong, she kept asking Chen Zai Tian how he felt about her. And after she decided she was in love with Chen Zai Tian, she asked Ying Xiong, who she knew was in love with her, “If I said that in order to be with me, you have to give up being a cop, what would your answer be?” On top of that, I have no idea how or when she started to like Ying Xiong and how or why she then switched over to loving Chen Zai Tian. It was very confusing and annoying.
Janine Chang as Lan Xi Ying
I saw Janine Chang in The Hospital and it was torture watching her in that series. She was slightly better here. I feel nothing when I watch her on tv. I think it’s because she’s kind of stiff and boring and her voice is very flat. There’s never any emotion when she speaks. She also doesn’t cry very well, or at least I don’t feel sorry for her when she does. I had no interest in her character, which could have been an interesting one. I was also confused as to why and how she went from having a crush on Ying Xiong to falling for Chen Zai Tian. Then nothing came of it at the end.
1. The bromance between Chen Zai Tian and Wu Ying Xiong. The two actors played off each well and it was fun to watch them go from hating each other, to working together, to becoming friends. They had some great comic scenes too- i.e buying guns from the mob and chasing the perverted flasher.
2. San Lian Hui – I thought they cast the mobsters really well. Paul Chun was excellent as the boss of San Lian and I also liked his scenes with his daughter. Du Wen Yan and Jin played their parts as 1st and 2nd in command every well. Ah Tang was nice to look at, though not the best actor.
3. The Plot – There were definitely plot holes but I think this is the best drama I’ve seen from Taiwan. I enjoyed watching the plot build up and the conspiracy unfold, even if it was a little predictable.
4. The Pace – The pace of the series was what made it fun to watch, in terms of the main plot. There was a good balance of action and character development (with the 2 main leads). I could have done without the love drama that was tossed in for a few minutes of every episode.
5. Eye candy – Pretty much everyone in this series is attractive, especially the male cast.
1. Sonia Sui as Lei Mu Sha – I think she’s supposed to be a model, which makes sense since she poses a lot and doesn’t walk, talk, or act anything like a killer posing as a special agent would. I also don’t think she’s attractive, especially during close-ups.
2. Love Story - The entire thing was a mess in my opinion. At one point, Xi Ying liked Ying Xiong who liked Chen Lin who liked Chen Zai Tian who liked Xiao Mei. This is really not necessary in a cop drama. The main problem with having such a complicated storyline in a crime-driven drama is that there just isn’t enough time for it. There were huge gaps of time between the scenes that are supposed to develop the relationships. I found it hard to figure out when and why these people fell for each other. This combination of ambiguous writing and limited screen time made it hard for me to really root for any of the couples. Mostly, I was just confused. For example, Chen Lin announces that she likes Ying Xiong, then she kisses Chen Zai Tian, then Chen Lin and Ying Xiong argue about her background, then she’s upset about Ying Xiong using her to find clues for his case, and then she is suddenly in love with Chen Zai Tian. On the other side, you have Chen Zai Tian waiting for Xiao Mei, but then acting like he likes Chen Lin, while also making suggestive comments to Xi Ying. Then there is Ying Xiong who appears to like Chen Lin, hooks up with Mu Sha, tells Mu Sha he thinks he’s falling for her, and then abruptly announces to Chen Lin that he loves her. The worst part is, after playing around with us for 24 episodes, no one ends up with anyone at the end.
Chen Lin starts off liking Ying Xiong because of his bravery and lack of fear (towards her and her mob family), but then feels like their opposing backgrounds make it impossible to be together. She then starts falling for Chen Zai Tian. Ying Xiong loves Chen Lin all along, with Mu Sha being a distraction along the way (he is attracted to her but doesn’t love her). Chen Zai Tian likes both Xiao Mei and Chen Lin in completely different ways. He adores the image he carries of Xiao Mei in his mind but is drawn to Chen Lin because of her personality and strength in real life. Xi Ying has a crush on Ying Xiong but gradually finds herself attracted to Chen Zai Tian. I felt they should have done either more or less- either spend more time developing the relationships in a clearer fashion, or left all of it out altogether. Sometimes less is better. For example, in the Japanese series Galileo, the attraction and affection between the main leads is apparent, but never directly addressed. This was effective and appropriate because it was an investigation series, not a romantic drama.
This is one of the best series I’ve watched in a long time. I know I complained about the love story, but that was mainly because I felt that it could have been so much better. I’m happy and impressed that Taiwan has decided to branch out and release something so different from their usual dramas. I’m really looking forward to follow-up movie.