Formosan Woman


Reviewed by: sukting

February 22, 2010

Rating: three

爱在他乡

How long
40 episodes

Foreword

This is the only drama that Dodo Cheng shot in Taiwan. It was also Lin Cui’s last work. Do you wish to watch it? Why do the Chinese want to become immigrants to leave their country? Do we know how much hardship they have suffered?

Story

Li Xiu Zhong and her husband, Fang Wen Zheng are a typical model couple in the upper class. Xiu Zhong is kind and gentle to follow Wen Zheng’s bidding. She is unwilling to migrate to the U.S. but she bravely brings her son, Fang Da Wei to leave Taiwan, a place that she is very familiar with to a strange place.

She feels helpless there. Luckily, Wen Zheng’s university ex-classmate, Ji Na assists her to make her get used to the life there. She is grateful to Ji Na. But Ji Na’s real motive is to curry favour and later seizes chances to be with Wen Zheng. Xiu Zhong isn’t aware of this and treats her as her confidante.

Wen Zheng and Ji Na used to be lovers in the past but Mrs Fang thinks that she is a loose woman and is not the right wife for Wen Zheng. She arranges Wen Zheng to marry Xiu Zhong but even so, he never changes his philandering days.

Xiu Zhong gets used to the life but suddenly, she has to help Wen Zheng’s mainland younger cousin, Cheng Wei to adapt to the life here too. Wei wants to look for a job here. He is honest, sensible and also can be relied on. The two face each other daily and she relies a lot on him.

Wen Zheng comes to the U.S. to look for his family. Upon seeing them so close together, he becomes jealous. He wants to claim his head-of-the-family position so he is very nasty to Wei. Wei can’t bear his insults and has to move out. After he leaves, Xiu Zhong also changes. She is no longer the submissive wife and is more independent now.

Wen Zheng doesn’t take to heart the change in her. He still continues to have affairs with Ji Na. Xiu Zhong discovers their affair one day. She is badly affected by her husband’s infidelity and friend’s betrayal. All is lost for her and she attempts to jump off the valley. Luckily, Wei discovers on time to pull her back to give her the will to live again.

There is bad blood between the cousins not only due to Xiu Zhong. His girlfriend is a money digger who later dumps him to become Wen Zheng’s mistress. She gets pregnant but Wen Zheng gets her to abort the child.

Xiu Zhong returns to Wen Zheng to go back to Taiwan with him, wishing to salvage their marriage. Wen Zheng still goes out to have sex with different women daily. Xiu Zhong knows that this can’t go on further. She doesn’t want a lifeless marriage. So she tells him that she is returning to the U.S., bringing Da Wei with her. She meets Wei again and loves him but due to Da Wei’s insistence, they do not end up together.

Wen Zheng does not repent his old ways. He contracts AIDS from a hooker and it is only now that he regrets his action. Xiu Zhong has to return to him during his last days. Ji Na is also by Wen Zheng’s side. But when Xiu Zhong is back, she returns him to her personally as she knows that Mrs Fang still prefers Xiu Zhong to her.

Wen Zheng dies, leaving everything to Da Wei. There is a clause in his will. That is – Da Wei will lose his right if Xiu Zhong remarries. Thus, Xiu Zhong has to give up her happiness for the sake of her son.

Introduction on characters

2. Liu Xiu Zhong – Dodo Cheng
She is the typical housewife that most will like. She will not ask for anything in return no matter how badly she is being treated. But her will power is strong after meeting many setbacks. Her top priority is her son so no matter what happens, he is the first to come to mind.

Her own happiness is nothing as compared to him. So even though she loves Wei deeply, she can give him up for Da Wei’s sake. It is kind of strange to see Dodo in a submissive role initially. To project this image, she cuts her hair short. I am too used to see her as a headstrong or career minded person. I take 5 episodes to get used to the change but I must say that she did a brilliant job. Even though this was her first time working with Taiwanese counterparts, she blends with them well although her voice is dubbed.

3. Fang Wen Zheng – Che Xuan
Wen Zheng is a rich businessman and is the only son of an influential family. As he gets what he wants from young, he also expects a lot from his life partner. He loves Ji Na but has to give her up as his mother dislikes her. He has forgotten about her as she moves to the U.S. and he has too many women.

Seeing her again rekindles his urge to have her. Thus, she doesn’t need to seduce him as he is a willing party. Even with a sex kitten like her, he isn’t satisfied. Soon, he has eyes on Wei’s girlfriend and also other women. In the past, he will try to hide it from Xiu Zhong. But seeing how Xiu Zhong returns with him to save their marriage, he does it openly till she can take it no more to leave him again.

Even so, he hasn’t changed till he gets AIDS. He cannot remember how and where he gets it. It is only now that he worries transmitting it to Ji Na but luckily her test proves negative or he will blame himself for the rest of his life. Seeing how he suffers after getting the red spots all over his body make us sigh over his sad fate. He has the love of women but he doesn’t know how to cherish at all.

He is quite plain looking but his acting is great. He makes me hate him so much. I simply curse and swear whenever he appears on screen. I am puzzled why the women love him – besides being loaded, he has nothing to rave about.

4. Zheng Ji Na – Tang Na
She is a capable person and can get any man she wants. But her heart lies with Wen Zheng all these years. Even though he is married, she spares no time to win him over to wreck his marriage. She knows that there is no love in his marriage but she still betrays Xiu Zhong’s trust. Her joy is shortlived when he is dying soon. Even so, she has no complaints to take care of him and isn’t afraid of getting infected till Xiu Zhong returns.

She believes that this is her retribution and destiny. We may condone her act but can’t deny her love for him. Initially, I dislike this role. But seeing how mean Mrs Fang treats her, I feel sorry for her. No wonder she becomes so revengeful. Unlike Xiu Zhong who answers to Mrs Fang’s beck and call, she fights for her own interest and happiness. I do admire her spirit and the highlight of this drama is actually the battles between her and Mrs Fang. She often leaves her breathless and tongue-tied after each dispute!

Tang Na is better known as a singer but she is also an excellent actress. Unlike many who fades in the background when acting with Dodo, both women share equal footing throughout the drama.

5. Cheng Wei – Kou Shi Xun
He is Wen Zheng’s younger cousin. Initially, he is like Xiu Zhong to tolerate Wen Zheng’s behaviour. He has to work in Wen Zheng’s company to earn his keep. But in the end, it is the last straw for him to learn of his girlfriend’s betrayal that he beats him up. He has no clue why Wen Zheng should desert a nice wife like Xiu Zhong. He falls for her quickly and has no hesitations to declare his love for her.

Wen Zheng proves to be a big obstacle in life and in death. His will hinders them to be together as he hates Wei and will rather Xiu Zhong to be his wife forever even though he is dead, Like Che Xuan, he is also hardly handsome with his beady eyes and is more like an uncle than a supposedly younger cousin. Many will be reminded that his acting path is similar to Lam Bo Yee I also don’t find him as a fine actor as reputed to be as he can be stiff at times.

6. Fang Da Wei – Yu Jun Feng
He is Wen Zheng’s only son and is supportive of his mother’s turning to be independent. But like other kids, he hopes that he gets a happy family again. Even though he doesn’t like Wen Zheng much, he still wants them to be together. Wen Zheng’s death strongly affects him and he is more than determined that his mother should marry no one. He definitely takes after his father.

7. Mrs Fang – Lin Cui/Li Li Fen
Only a mother like this can produce a son like Wen Zheng. Both are equally incorrigible. She looks down on Ji Na as she isn’t rich enough. Although Xiu Zhong is selected by her to be Wen Zheng’s wife, she likes to find fault with this daughter-in-law. She keeps asking why they only have a child and Xiu Zhong is a failure for failing to keep a watchful eye on her son’s philandering ways.

She often sides her son and doesn’t think that it is a big thing that he sleeps with different women. She has never thought of talking sense into him. She has a shock when Wen Zheng dies before her. All of her tears can’t bring him alive again and she has to help Xiu Zhong to bring Da Wei up.

The role was initially done by Lin Cui but she passed away suddenly due to asthma. Li (Many will remember her as the fierce grandmother in ‘Eternal Love II - Mist in the chambers’ replaced her but somehow I think that she doesn’t command that much authority.

Most favourite character

Wei, no one will be as open-minded as him to allow Xiu Zhong to return to Wen Zheng’s side when he is dying. He also knows of Xiu Zhong’s painful choice so he doesn’t press her further.

Most hated character

Wen Zheng, he is a bad egg. No, he is considered a jerk. He is very selfish and thinks only of himself. he is nasty to everyone except his own mother and son.

He is only worried that Da Wei will take over another man’s surname if Xiu Zhong remarries. So he comes up with that stupid will. What is wrong with Xiu Zhong seeking happiness while he has already toyed with so many women? Serves him right for dying painfully but he definitely does not deserve the attention of two women who care about him even after he hurts them.

Song

It is ‘deep breath’ by Fan Xiao Xuan. Quite a nice song to listen to. We hardly find nice theme songs to listen to these days as the lyrics are so well written. The subtheme song is ‘I love you more than this world’ by Chen Li Qiang. It is equally touching. It relates the love of all towards their lovers except for Wen Zheng. I am clueless on why Tang Na’s song isn’t included as we know that she has a great voice.

As for the Hong Kong version, both are sung by Lee Wai Mun. The theme
song is ‘living better than you’ while the subtheme is ‘you do not have a good ending’. Excellent songs by Lee – I like these two versions better than the Chinese ones that show how much a woman can hate a man.

Conclusion

This drama shifts away from tradition to write about a traditional Chinese woman who tries to change her fate in a foreign land. Many scenes are shot in the U.S. and this depicts well how immigrants feel helpless then. They have to adapt to new living habits and culture.

Xiu Zhong lives alone overseas without her husband by her side and braves through all kinds of difficulties to get a new life. She can’t rely on her husband anymore as he isn’t with her. Getting Dodo to act in this role is correct although she seems a bit ill at ease as an ignorant housewife at first. It is a pity that Tang Na doesn’t act now. Her bitchy role will raise eyebrows but all will be won over by her determination and As for her male co-stars, they have tried their best to have chemistry with her.

The story is well depicted but I don’t think Xiu Zhong should give in to Wen Zheng all the time. No wonder he has a hold on her life to make her his living widow after his death. Some men are utterly despicable. They only think of themselves and protecting their own interest.

Lin Cui steals the show with her forceful words and mannerism. It is a pity that she is replaced and the link is broken. Although Li does well in Wen Zheng’s last scenes, I can’t help thinking how Lin could have done if she has the chance. She did a wonderful job in ‘Never ending Love’ which I will mention in another review.

When it was shown in Hong Kong over ATV, it was named as ‘The woman who was betrayed’ – what a striking title! Even Chan Ting Wai makes a cameo appearance with Fong Kong. It is considered a blockbuster of all time and all should not miss this drama.

Website : Baidu.com

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : *** (Scale of 5)

On story : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)

On songs : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)


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