A.K.A. 100 Senorita
Wallace Huo as Li Wei Xiang
Penny Lin as Zhuang Fei Yang
Deric Wan as (Peter) Pan Bi De
Joe Chen as Li Xiao Feng
Jiang Zu Ping as Chen Sha Sha
Jason Xu as Meng Je Lin
Synopsis (Spoiler Warning):
Born through a surrogate mother, Zhuang Fei Yang is the sole millionaire heiress of Formosa Inc, a company owned by her father and directed by CEO Peter, Fei Yang’s high-profile boyfriend. Soon after her father’s sudden death, the heiress’ life is shaken by a murder attempt by the scheming Peter. Fei Yang survives the car accident without Peter’s knowledge, but her face becomes unrecognizable after a dramatic plastic surgery to cover her deformed features. Wanting to be restored to her identity and to save Formosa from Peter’s hands, Fei Yang employs the help of Xiao Feng, her long-lost twin sister. The uncultured Xiao Feng swaps identities with the rich Fei Yang in a desperate attempt to regain Formosa, and the plot thickens as Peter, Fei Yang’s admirers Wei Xiang and Je Lin, her best friend Sha Sha, her governess, and the sisters themselves discover the mystery of their identities step by step.
In the second chapter of the story, Fei Yang and Xiao Feng are restored to their proper positions. As she assumes control over the dealings of Formosa, however, Fei Yang is misguided by Sha Sha to believe that her father’s death had also been of Peter’s doing. Spurred by the thought of avenging her father, Fei Yang intentionally alienates her lover Wei Xiang and the gentle Xiao Feng. She then applies all possible means to destroy Peter, who had by this time fallen in love with Xiao Feng and wanted to repent. Fei Yang continues to struggle, even at the cost of her health, while the confused Peter tries everything to make Xiao Feng believe in his innocence. The misunderstandings continue to form until a hysterical Sha Sha reveals the truth behind her deceptions. Fei Yang and Wei Xiang leave for Europe to seek treatment for her illness, and Xiao Feng waits patiently for her lover as Peter serves in prison for the crimes that he had committed.
I have never been much of a fan of Taiwanese idol dramas. Most of them are lacking in context, unrealistic, and childish. This series, however, has proved a rare exception. While maintaining the high standards of production and sunshine mood of the genre, the series weaves diverse relationships and interlocking developments into the story. Peter’s dynamic character, Formosa’s dealings, the sisters’ relationships with their mother and with each other all enrich the story with an abundance of feelings. Yes, unrealistic details still abound, but they are mostly limited to the setting. Long-lost sisters, extreme look-a-likes, and 20-year-old chairpersons are far removed from reality, but the characters do react in logical ways towards their completely illogical circumstances.
As a note, this is an idol drama, an Ou Xiang Ju. The standards I will use in judging the cast performance, therefore, will be relative to other works in this genre. These comments must not be taken into consideration on the same scale as those of movie or Hong Kong actors.
Wallace Huo does quite a remarkable job as a dashing lawyer prodigy. His anime features would appeal to audiences any day, and his confident stride adds to the character’s charisma. He aptly plays scenes of tenderness, happiness, celebration, and even leadership. His skills falter, however, in scenes that demand deeper emotion and tears.
Penny Lin is very pretty, but she is unfortunately a very poor actress. Her beauty definitely landed her this role, especially considering how strikingly her features mirror Wallace’s. Her role as Fei Yang gives her excellent material to work with, but she does not live up to the job. That being said, Penny exuberates a certain amiability. Quoting Simon Cowell, she has the “likability factor”. That factor alone leads audiences to adore Fei Yang.
Deric Wan’s performance deserves but one word — encore. In his portrayal of a villian that gradually changes for true love’s sake, Deric proves his worth as the most experienced member of the cast and justifies the production team for having him over from Hong Kong. True, Deric does not have the physical presence that the rest of the young cast posseses. But he looks decent, and that’s good enough for his role.
Joe Chen is a promising young woman in the world of idol drama. Although she may not be as pretty as Penny, Joe wins audiences over with her sweetness and good acting. She can capture expressions that reflect mixtures of joy and bitterness, pain and love, faith and confusion, as well as many others. Her chemistry with Deric is also superior to the dynamics between Wallace and Penny.
Jiang Zu Ping does a good job portraying the sassy romantic Chen Sha Sha. She carries her character very well in scenes of passionate emotions, moments of inward intensity, and everything in between. Even though her role is basically antagonistic, she does not hesitate in giving her best in playing an alluring deceiver, therefore making Sha Sha’s dark dealings with Peter even more convincing.
Jason Xu is generally not a good actor, in spite of his charming looks. Unfortunately for Jason, Meng Je Lin is the character sacrificed by the script in its attempt to extend and complicate the plot. Je Lin’s passivity furthermore makes him a mere shadow of Wei Xiang — the actual male lead of the series. Jason, as a result, has little to work with, and he does no remarkable job either.
The lady who plays the mother presents a solid performance. As the primary senior actress in the series, she alleviates the average acting quality of the cast the same way Deric does. Her mother-daughter interactions with Joe and Penny are touching and give a deeper dimension to all the characters.
Reasons to Watch:
1) The production of the series is very solid. The sceneries and sets are beautiful.
2) The sub-theme songs are lovely.
3) The multi-layered plot makes this serial stand out among other idol serials.
4) The complicated plot is still resolved within a few scenes in one conclusive episode.
5) The wardrobes are coordinated with personal style and very good taste.
Reasons not to Watch:
1) The lead actress is inferior in her acting in comparison to the supporting actresses.
2) The character of Meng Je Lin appears, disappears, appears, disappears, appears, etc.
3) The secondary cast detracts instead of enhances the story.
This is a solid idol series. Although viewers of other Chinese television may find the pace rather slow or the acting more shallow, the series will not entirely fail to captivate. It is a jewel in its genre. While those who enjoy more profound and thoughtful plots may not fancy this series, most young people will enjoy the romance and willful missions played by a youthful and good-looking cast.