Hot Shot

Reviewed by: sukting

January 26, 2009

Rating: two-point-five

This is the showdown between Pi Li University against Xuan Wu University. Who will be the champion of the national college tournament C.U.B.A? With three of Taiwan's top idols holding court, this is the most highly-anticipated idol drama of 2008.

Wu Chun, Yan Cheng Xu and Luo Zhi Xiang are on the basketball court in this exciting youth sports and romance drama. Da Ying is a bumbling country boy with basketball dreams. The country's two top college players (Xiang and Ji Zun) end up on the same court. Da Ying is about to get some big-time company though as top college player Xiang, who wants to give up basketball, is also entering the school. Can they rebuild the school's basketball team glory?

Story/Introduction on characters
1. Yuan Da Ying – Luo Zhi Xiang
He has been forbidden from playing basketball since young and his grandmother only allows him to join the basketball team after her death. He continues to pursue his basketball dreams and ends up at a college with the league's worst basketball record. He joins Pi Li University but is ridiculed as he knows nothing about the game. However, Ying helps him to utilize his skills. He falls in love with the sport and helps Jie Er to clean the weeded basketball court so that the team can start their practice.

He regards Xiang as his love rival and opponent on court. He can do anything to please Jie Er. Although he fails to win her love, he helps to make her wish come true to get close to Xiang – to the extent of getting hurt by Can so that Xiang can score for the team.

I have never enjoyed Zhi Xiang's acting. This role is as immature and childish as Qin Lang as in 'Corner with love'. I never liked the way that he tries to act silly and innocent. It is far behind Stephen Chow's standard. If this is how he acts in every drama, I doubt he can go far in the acting circle.

2. Dong Fang Xiang – Yan Cheng Xu

Xiang comes from a rich family and plays basketball well. Instead of getting into the prestigious Xuan Wu University, he chooses Pi Li University. He prefers to devote time to his studies and retires from the basketball scene for good. This is one reason but there is another dark secret that he hides from the rest. But seeing how Da Ying tries to woo Jie Er stokes his jealousy to join the team. She is like his clock to wake him up daily as he has been in love with her for a long time.

This is just reprising his 'Daomingsi' role as in 'Meteor Garden'. The only difference is Xiang is a man of few words and doesn't know how to express his love for Jie Er. This is a disappointment for me as it is a pity that his performance goes downhill after 'The Hospital'. But I am sure his fans do not mind seeing him acting as a prince charming again. And his short hairstyle does suit him as it gives him a refreshing look.

3. Wu Ji Zun – Wu Chun

He is a secretive and mysterious basketballer. Initially, he is only part of the audience watching the games. By observing Xiang's moves, he learns his skills quickly. He sees that Da Ying has potential and shows him pointers. He enjoys pitting against them and Xiang regards him as his top rival in the game. Just like how he acts in 'Romantic Princess', Chun only needs to act cool here in the few scenes that he appears in.

4. Wu Ji Wei – Hu Yu Wei

He is Ji Zun's younger brother. Equally skilful, he also learns things fast. Unlike Ji Zun who is quieter, this guy voices his views openly and can be very sarcastic.

5. Li Zi Ping – Gu Bao Ming

He is the principal of Pi Li University. It is past its prime, unlike its past when his father promoted basketball to make it to be one of the tops. The 5 players were even known as 'Pi Li 5 experts'. But it became 'Pi Li 5 blinds' after 20 years with only one miserable player, Fei.

Pi Li University is now a high-class school famous for its excellent academic research. As Zi Ping rates studies over physical education, all kind of positive sports have almost disappeared for good. Thus the university is among the bottom of the list of losers for basketball. That is why Da Ying yells upon knowing that his grandmother wants him to enroll to study here. Despite opposition from him, the team improves and he gives them their support in the end.

6. Li Ying – Jiang Yi

She is Zi Ping's daughter whose name means 'win'. Unfortunately, the team keeps losing till she comes to take over as the team coach. She has a sports degree and is thus keen on the sport. She works hard to keep the team going. Still, many doubt her ability. Although she is a few years older than Da Ying, she is in love with him as she is touched by his affections towards Jie Er. But falling critically ill herself, she keeps her feelings under wraps. She acts like a model – only providing stances in most scenes.

7. Sen Jie Er – Zhou Cai Shi

Her father is Shuo's chauffeur so she grew up with Xiang. However, she doesn't know that Xiang doesn't like her to address him as young master. He has actually liked her all along. Knowing that he can't overcome his guilt against Can, she learns street basketball and becomes the masked 'basketball star' in order to encourage him by playing with him frequently. He only knows about it when Da Ying reveals to him.

Da Ying likes her as she resembles his teenage sweetheart who died in a car accident. She is aware of his feelings towards her but she only cares for Xiang. To the extent of getting hurt by Can to prevent him from harming Xiang. Her acting is acceptable as a newcomer.

8. Du Fei – Zhang Yan Ming

The only keen player in Pi Li team. He is the only person who stays in the team as the others have no confidence in it. He is very friendly and gets along well with the others.

9. Can – Zhang Xun Jie
Shuo finds him as Xiang's co-player but he gets hurt as a result of Xiang's impulsiveness. He loses a leg and goes to jail. He is released a few years later and is skilled by playing street basketball. He has an artificial leg that contains lots of metal chips that can hurt other players.

10. Dong Fang Shuo – Wang Xia

He is Xiang's grandfather who is very strict with him. He opposes to him transferring to Pi Li with no avail. He is more annoyed when he moves out and also falling for Jie Er. He doesn't like Jie Er as her father has betrayed him in the past. It is only after Da Ying's grandmother passes away that he discovers she was once a basketball player. He also forces Da Ying's grandmother to retire from the sport by hurting her leg.

Although he has limited scenes, Wang Xia steals the show. You will be caught breathless by his performance as he oozes with his authority. This veteran actor is singer Wang Jie's father in real life.

Favourite character
Xiang, he can be cold but he is actually warm.

Most hated character
Shuo – he doesn't know what his grandson really needs and wants. But finally he shows his anxiety for once when seeing him hurt his leg in the final match.

They are by Ni Zhi Gang and Lin Fan. Only passable and not outstanding.

Interesting scenes
Da Ying doesn't like Xiang so he calls him 'chong' – worm. He even changes the lyrics of the song 'Long de chuan ren' – the dragon's descendents. (Those who are interested can listen to Wang Li Hong's album.) every single word of 'long' (dragon) is changed to worm which he hums through the loudspeaker.

Ying thinks that Da Ying likes her by preparing a romantic dinner at a restaurant. It proves to be for Jie Er instead and she can't help feeling disappointed. Knowing that his aspiration to win is from Jie Er, she uses her as a motivation tool for him to win games.

Jie Er finds excuses to stay over at Xiang's apartment. Xiang has no intention to drive her away and is dismayed to learn that she has found a hostel. Luckily, it is rumoured to be haunted so he gets her an apartment which is beside his so that he can see her daily.

Xiang is normally composed but can be agitated to see Jie Er to be with Da Ying or her singing his praises. He cuts the plate into two during breakfast in one instant when she keeps describing how good he is! The other team members have to teach him how to get flowers for her.

Jie Er is hospitalized for days after being injured by Can. Xiang gets worried over her disappearance and nearly wants to call the police. He is appalled when she returns with an injured head and wants her to promise him not to leave without notice again. All Cheng Xu's fans will get giddy upon seeing how he touches her head tenderly.

Any basketball match in the drama can be an eye-opener. But some can be so overly cheesy that I can hardly stomach. Still, I must say that Chun is the best player among the three.

Interesting facts
Xia was afraid of hurting Cheng Xu in the slapping scenes although he told him to go ahead. Why? He was too used to shooting kungfu films in the past so he was wary of using too much force. Working with the younger cast did make him feel young again.

It was said that Chun and Cheng Xu did not like one another to steal each other's limelight. Cheng Xu had indicated that he would not be free to attend the opening promotion. Yet, he turned up for a while after stealing some time from another event. Chun did not seem to be happy about it and the three looked awkward taking a group photo. Many said that there might be some truth in the rumour as Zhi Xiang was always sandwiched in the centre for most photos. When asked, Zhi Xiang said that the three got along well but did not elaborate how well.

With Wu Chun being a former member of the Brunei national team, and Cheng Xu and Zhi Xiang known to be basketball enthusiasts, the hot-blooded idols set fire to the screen as on-court rivalries continue off court in matters of romance. It lost out to 'Fated to love you' even after promotion. The opening ran as low as 4%. Some attributed it to the lack of exaggerated love scenes while others felt the basketball matches were not intriguing as expected.

This drama is the same typical weak-team-achieving-success story. The only difference is the two teams have a tie in the final. It simply eats into the three actors' popularity. The producer just copied parts from the Japanese manga 'Slam Dunk'. Da Ying is just like Ying Mu Hua Dao while Xiang resembles Liu Chuan Feng. As for Chun's Ji Zun, he is partly San Jing Sou as he is good with three-pointers.

It also has some similarities with 'MVP Valentine'. But I prefer the latter as it shows how well the actors play the game. I can never forget how Iceman and Cheng Feng pit their skills with full force in the grand finale. And also how Prince learns diligently is more enchanting than how Da Ying masters his grandmother's skills. The guys' techniques here are not put to good use. Why does the producer rely so much on special effects just to slam a ball into the net?

But still, this is the only interesting factor. Seeing the three handsome actors posing and comparing who acts most will create discussion (hopefully not unrest) on the Internet to cheer for their idols. The actors have put in a lot of hard work to be experts.

Getting unknowns as the female leads also proved to be a fatal choice. It puts me off when Taiwanese producers keep making their actresses suffer from cancer. We have enough of this from other dramas. Why include in this drama too? And the way that Jie Er and Xiang play hide-and-seek with each other towards the end will make you tired. Come on, we want matches and not romancing races. I don't see fire as described by the Chinese title but only sparks instead. Thus this drama is only strictly for the actors' fans.

Sukting's ratings :

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

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

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

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