Material Queen


Reviewed by: sukting

March 25, 2012

Rating: three

How long
17 episodes

Foreword
Lin Chu Man is a fashion model who does not mind a man for being short, fat, ugly and old, as long as he is rich. After knowing a poor violinist Jia Hao, she starts to question whether being rich is what she truly desires. Is wealth more important than love?


Story/Introduction on characters

1. Lin Chu Man - Xiong Dai Lin
She is abandoned by her mother when young. Thus, she knows the harsh fact of life to think that money is everything. To make sure that she matches with the diamond, she fights hard to retain her beauty and worth as a model. She loves everything branded - her first is to differentiate the word agnes b from again b. She only dates with the rich.

She has thought Jia Hao is rich when knowing him in Paris. So she dumps Chairman Wang to be with him. When she discovers that her perfect man is only a hired body double for the real billionaire Mr. Norman, and his true identity is a penniless music student, she dumps him again.

Chairman Wang causes her reputation to be ruined so she loses her job to a younger model, Sha Xia. Chairman Wang kicks her out of the apartment that he buys for her so she has to rent a room with her miserable pay as she has spent almost all on her branded clothes and shoes - close to the rich proximity but is in Chao Nan market.

She finds out that Jia Hao is her landlord. This forces them to reconcile and to really get to know each other. As Lin becomes closer to Cai, her motive of getting the real estate tycoon Kai Ming becomes less important as she starts to think for his future. She is later ditched by Kai Ming and becomes a third grade model. When Jia Hao returns to be a successful violinist, she tries hard to explain to him but he will not listen. Dejected, she accepts De Ji although he is much older than her.

Luckily, she realizes what true love is to run away on her wedding day. Even though De Ji forces her and Jia Hao to halt in their careers, they brave through the hardship to get married in the end. Their wedding is a simple one with a normal barbecue but they are contented. Dai Lin is beautiful and is eye-catching in catwalk scenes. Choosing her to be the lead is a good choice as there is depth in her acting. However, she might be too tall and doesn't look demure enough to match with the actors.


2. Cai Jia Hao - Wu Jian Hao
He is handsome and is talented in playing the violin to be the pride of Chao Nan market. He looks nerdy and wears spectacles. However, he is only the son of a vegetable seller. Still, he isn't shy to admit it but in order to pay off his expensive fees in Paris, he has to double up as Mr Norman to prevent him of being kidnapped. He gives her a bangle that she likes and is unable to remove it. Chu Man has thought of him to be rich and she discovers the truth through an attempted kidnap.

The school finds out that he is moonlighting through this too by Chairman Wang's information and kicks him out. So he has to return to Taiwan to work as a part-time violin teacher or violinist at a hotel. Chu Man feels guilty for causing this and tries to find a chance for him to study music again.

He gets from a secret sponsor to help him and is successful upon his return. His stage name is now Justin and is very popular. Soon, he learns what Chu Man has done to help him. Both have to overcome poverty and hardship in order to get together again. She is willing to sell all the branded goods away for him so that he can pay back the damages to De Ji. Even so, she doesn't want him to give in to De Ji to be the backstage substitute of a newcomer. He buys her the bangle, shoes (for her wedding with De Ji) and handbag.

I am very disappointed in Jian Hao's acting. He delivers the lines without much emotions and his expressions look forced. Another shortcoming is that Dai Lin is very tall so he has to comb a Beckham hairstyle to look taller. Their match is quite awkward looking indeed.

3. Yan Kai Ming - Chan Hiu Dong
He is handsome, rich and also calculative as a real estate tycoon. He comes across Chu Man's diary and is amused on how she wants to 'hook' him. Thus, he makes her his kept woman despite Chairman Wang telling him how low Chu Man can be. He wants Chu Man to create news of unhygienic of the market so that he can get the land at a low price to build a shopping mall. Initially, Chu Man helps him but later regrets to help the market stall sellers instead.

He is a knowledgeable man who knows the arts well. Everything he does is with a motive so he makes Chu Man sign a contract with him so that she can't make demands if they part. He showers her with gifts but they are seldom together as he is very busy with his work. He can't even be with her on her birthday.

Being proud and possessive, he falls for her unexpectedly to lower himself to suit her. He really goes all out for her to queue up for her favourite cakes when she is ill. Yet, after knowing that her heart is still with Jia Hao, he immediately plans her downfall by pushing her to Eugene after she doesn't take his hint. He also makes sure that reporters take the photos to make sure that she can't make a comeback anymore.

He still doesn't understand why she ditches him 2 years ago as he has given her what she needs. It has been long since we see Hiu Dong in a drama. He manages to look dashing, unfeeling and cold to come across to all that he is a rich man in the packaging. He makes a better match for Dai Lin in looks than Jian Hao.

4. Lu Yi Xian - Jiang Yu Chen
She grows up with Jia Hao to get attracted by his violin music and goes with him to study in Paris. She has thought that she is his best partner as she is good in playing the piano to become his future wife too. She takes care of him till she neglects her health. She becomes deaf in one ear and has to give up music. Still, she doesn't mind being his capable personal assistant to help in his career.

Jia Hao feels remorseful over this and intends to marry her. However, she finds that this is not loving her so she leaves him to find another better man to live for herself. Her performance is only satisfactory as she can't cry very well.

5. Ke Mai Long - nickname for Cameron - Zhang Huai Qiu
He is also Jia Hao's friend to study movie making in Paris. He wants to be a director and is very positive towards life. He urges Yi Xian to think of herself instead of sacrificing for Jia Hao all the time. He shoots Jia Hao's MVs upon his return. However, not many will understand his artistic movies.

6. Sha Xia - Chen Ting Ni
She belongs to the same model company as Chu Man and considers Chu Man as her rival. She is young and promising to tip her anytime. She wants to be more successful than her. Chu Man feels sorry for Sha Xia as her fiancé cheats on her. Upon knowing that Chu Man is her stepsister, she feels guilty. Li Jun treats Sha Xia like her own but doesn't treat Chu Man well.

Sha Xia realises that she has not cherished Li Jun as Chu Man longs to. Thus she cooks for her porridge according to Li Jun's method after Chu Man donates her liver to Li Jun. their relationship becomes better. She is also better in modeling than acting too.

7. Pan Peter - Na Wei Xun
He is Chu Man's and Sha Xia's manager. Due to constant working with the models, he becomes sissy but he is warmhearted. He has very good connections and is sensitive to fashion changes. He tries very hard to revive Chu Man's career by giving her chances. He also loans her money when she is down and out so she is grateful to him. He claims to be attached but no one knows the gender as he never brings the person to Chu Man's wedding. Wei Lun's supporting role shines and all will like him in here.

8. Cai Jia Hui - Lin Mei Xiu
She is Jia Hao's elder sister who brings him up after their parents are dead. However, all will dislike her to keep bragging over Jia Hao's success all the time and even to laminate Jia Hao's school expulsion letter to hang in the living room, thinking that it is his graduation certificate. She falls for Leo and is often attracted by his muscular body. Knowing that Chu Man and Jia Hao like each other, she creates chances for them.

9. Leo - Qu Zhong Heng
He sells seafood in Cao Nan market. He is kind and open. He often wears singlets to show off his muscular build and treats Jia Hao like a brother. This actor is now a director so it is rare to see him acting these days. Do watch out for him!

10. Jiang Bao - He Wen Hui
He sells pork in the market and grows up with Jia Hao. He has a lot of confidence in himself and is eloquent. However, many do not take note of his speeches. He strikes lottery one day to become rich. He is amused when Chu Man comes for his matchmaking sessions to look for a wife to lie about her age. He then discloses this to the neighbours, sighing that she hasn't changed. Others reply that he has changed as he doesn't like to come to the dirty place that often to meet them anymore.

Jia Hao comes to him for help to pay off his debt with De Ji. He is wary of De Ji and refuses to give him a loan. He only cares for himself now. I find him more hilarious in 'Shaolin Soccer' than in here.

11. Xi Li Ge - Chen Yi Fei
He is once a scholar but becomes mentally unbalanced after his girlfriend ditches him. Since then, he doesn't bother about his appearance to look very dirty. He hardly talks and only plays with his hamster. The others take good care of him. This character must have created due to the real Xi Li Ge in China.

12. Da Nai Ma - Yang Li Yin
She sells lingerie in the market and is proud of her 36C physique. She treats Jia Hao like a son and confesses that she has once thought of hanging herself after her husband's death. However, she stops after listening to Jia Hao's violin music.

13. Gen De Ji nicknamed after Kentucky - Gu Bao Ming
He is the secret sponsor over Jia Hao's studies to make him continue it so that he will be successful. After that, he becomes Chu Man's boyfriend. Chu Man does everything to please him - to grow vegetables and to meet up his late wife's friends to talk about art. Chu Man feels eerie when he hands her his wife's jade bangle besides a wedding ring during his proposal.

He provides for her and wants her to change her name to Xiao Fei, his wife's name. In order to get his wealth, she agrees to it. But she feels that she is no longer herself and leaves him. De Ji is furious and stalls their careers to make sure that both will not survive for 2 years to work for others since they are under his contract. That means that Jia Hao can't even sell vegetables for his sister.

He requests Chu Man to return to him since they are no longer well-off and she is in poor health after donating her liver to her mother. Chu Man rejects him. He is pleased and announces that he has done all for a motive. He is with his dying wife in Paris to witness their love.

Xiao Fei observes that the two really love each other and requests De Ji to help them before she dies. He checks Chu Man out to find her to be a real material queen. Jia Hao also gives her up easily after setbacks. Thus, he wants to make sure that she turns for the better and he becomes more independent. He is actually like a father to both of them. The young couple is thankful to him to put them through many tests so that they learn the meaning of true love.

14. Li Hai - Tang Yu Zhe
He is a rich man but breaks up with his girlfriend after knowing that he is in poor health. He gives her to his best friend and also business partner. Unable to cope with the pain, he travels around, hoping to deal with the blow alone. He likes Yi Xian after knowing her from a trip and persuades her to take up piano again. She is touched and changes her heart to like him instead of wanting to marry Jia Hao.

15. Lin Li Jun - Liu Rui Qi
She is Chu Man's mother who abandons her at an orphanage. Chu Man knows the feeling so she treats a boy, You You well to get him to try to understand his mother when his mother seldom visits him due to work. She is glad that he listens to her and sends her photos of them.

She marries a rich man and transfers her love to Sha Xia. Unknowingly, she gets her star hairclips that Chu Man likes when young. Kai Ming knows of their past and warns her not to acknowledge Chu Man or he will not work with her husband. He wants Chu Man to move on with life to forget her. However, Chu Man still treats her well to donate her liver to her. Touched, she finally admits her existence and turns up for her wedding with De Ji. Knowing that she doesn't love De Ji, she wants her to pursue her happiness.

Rui Qi is a remarkable actress so we don't have to doubt her acting. She has a striking resemblance towards Dai Lin and all will believe that they are related.

16. Chairman Wang - Meng Fan Gui
He is a fat Shan Dong businessman from China. he is very generous and keeps buying presents to please Chu Man to go all the way to Paris to get her. But after knowing how she 'double-crosses' him, he also makes sure that her career is ruined.

17. Eugene - Igor Kovic
He is Jia Hao's idol and Jia Hao hopes to be as popular as him one day. However, he is a lustful man and Yi Xian is very cautious with him when working for him. Chu Man hopes to help him by seeing him when she is supposed to go for a dinner with Kai Ming. Kai Ming tricks Eugene to think that Chu Man is a prostitute. Jia Hao leaves in a huff upon seeing them in bathrobes, having the wrong idea.

18. Yan's assistant - Leandro Bittencourt de Araujo e Silva/ Li An Zhuo
He is Kai Ming's personal assistant to draft all the contracts and stalks Chu Man to know where she goes. Thus, Kai Ming knows of her every move even though he is not with her. This actor is of mixed parentage of Brazilian father and Taiwanese mother. He is very competent as the cautious assistant.

19. Moses - Jiang Jun Han
He is De Ji's personal assistant to tell Chu Man about De Ji's past to make sure that she can blend into his life. Chu Man also can't escape from his man as he makes sure that she follows all schedules like a kid.

20. Mr Cai - Chen Wen Pin
He is Jia Hao's father who wants the best for him. He teaches Jia Hao to dive under the sea when he is down to look at corals. Thus, he bets Eugene to write a song for Jia Hao. Moved, he obeys and he passes the handscript to Jia Hao. However, Jia Hao doesn't believe him and he dies of a heart attack when running after him. Chu Man presents the handscript to Kai Ming on his party, hoping to get his attention. Jia Hao gets to perform the music at the party to carve a name for himself.

Interesting facts

It was the drama that Chen Yu Shan made after 'My Queen' and 'Autumn's Concerto '. It was said to be the most expensive drama as they roped in Patricia Field to act as herself in one episode. She planned the whole wardrobe - that was why the models were so attractive under her transformation. Dai Lin had almost 150 outfits with NT50,000 jewellery. Christian Dior sponsored the handbags so all thought that they were treated to a branded feast.

The initial choice for Jia Hao was Cheng Xu. He had practiced the violin and learned French. However, he rejected the assignment last minute due to poor health and Yu Shan roped in Jian Hao to help. Cheng Xu turned up on promotion day to give him support and presented flowers to Yu Shan to wish all well. Both guys often meet up in private.

Jian Hao joked that he agreed on this assignment right after 1 day as he could go to Paris. The most important part was the story touched him and he viewed it as a challenge. True indeed, he also got his sister and niece to go to Paris as well. Yu Shan presented Jian Hao with a NT$200 million antique violin. Jian Hao had learned how to play the violin since his high school days so it wasn't a problem to him.

Yu Shan was satisfied with her choice as he also learned French fast. Only the cost part bothered her as she had to rent a castle at Euro 20,000 a day. Her another worry was Dai Lin was 178 cm tall and had to wear high heels as a model. When standing beside the 180cm Jian Hao, she will not look petite and needs protection. (I think all will agree with this.)

All turned up on promotion day. The leads appeared with 2 dancers but as Dai Lin wore high scenes, she was taller than Jian Hao. The working crew asked if he wanted to stand on a higher step but he refused. Dai Lin joked that he hated all things unnatural.

Yu Shan has thought of getting Lin Chi Lin and Cheng Xu to act together but didn't want to lose the focus. Many knew that Dai Lin can act and model well. Ting Ni is also Taiwan's model model. Many looked forward to how they could shine here. But seeing how tall they well, the male working crew was very stressed. A few of them only reached their shoulders in height.

The two models were rivals in the drama but they often chatted during their free time all the way from Paris to Taiwan. Ting Ni called her as senior but Dai Lin quickly corrected her as this was her debut drama while it was Ting Ni's fifth drama. Ting Ni was her senior instead. Many were amused when filming the scenes where Chu Man often bullied Sha Xia while they were nice to each other.

Dai Lin confessed that she had heard of seniors bullying juniors but she did not like to be in the limelight so she was seldom bullied. Ting Ni was only 21 but she had been in this line for 4 years. She joked that she was also an old model. Both women shared with each other not on how to stay pretty but on their favourite food instead. Ting Ni was from Tai Zhong and recommended some delicacies.

However, there was not a single scene of her to be in Tai Zhong so Dai Lin had to explore on her own. As her manger was watching on her, she had to watch what she ate. Dai Lin pleaded with her to come along so she managed to go with her on some days.

Jian Hao was conservative due to his religion but the kissing scene with Dai Lin at Chateau de Vigny made many hearts beat fast. The crew even wondered how he did it within 2 hours to fit into different angles. The two only met for the second time and his lips were shivering. Both were shy after being so intimate and Jian Hao was relieved that there was no bed scene.

It was rumoured that Dai Lin did not get along well with Jian Hao. She wrote in her blog on someone who wanted to control everything but implicated everyone to brave through bad weather and hunger. All presumed that she was referring to Jian Hao. Jian Hao's manager quickly tried to settle this to deny this.

However, Jian Hao apologized on his blog that he had read it. Even though she was angry with him, she could have avoided doing this. Shall they reconcile and she could write on another article to describe how great he was to work with. Sadly, Dai Lin did not make any response and made him embarrassed.

Yu Zhe and Kang Yong only appeared for a while as extras. They did not mind it. Yu Zhe thought his minor role was actually crucial to the change in Yi Xian while Kang Yong loved to pretend to be a magician. The secret weapon was Hiu Dong. to welcome him, Yu Shan actually bought a French royal brand Chaumel watch that cost millions to welcome him. That was spectacular treatment indeed.

Most favourite character
Kai Ming, even though he is scheming, he did all the evil deeds in the name of love.

Most hated character
Jia Hao, he is a coward. Everyone has to give him a push so that he will work to get his love.

Song
It is 'Is This All' by Wu Jian Hao written by The American group. One Republic. The MV was shot in Paris. I find it too westernized. The ending theme is 'Yi Bai Wan Zhong Qing Wen ' by Liang Wen Yin. IT also sounds too sweet candy for me.

Conclusion

It has a promising start but gets boring towards the end. The development is quite similar to 'Yamato Nadeshik' by Nanako Matsushima except that the male lead here sells vegetables instead of fish. He is a talented Mathematician while Jia Hao is a violinist.

Without Kai Ming to create tension, there is hardly anything that inspires me for the latter part. De Ji's entering into the picture doesn't have that much of an impact as it is supposed to be. Seeing how the popular model, Chu Man getting fallen out of favour makes me feel that it is a waste of her good looks for many episodes towards the end.

Dai Lin is natural but somehow, her attention sizzles off towards the end. Jian Hao isn't in top form to give a monotonous feel throughout. That is very disappointing as they are supposed to hold your attention at all times as the leads. The supporting cast is quite good but scenes from Chao Nan market can be over the top at times. If you can put up with slow, dragging scenes in the middle, you can still watch it. The scenery in Paris is very well shot and the shooting crew had done a marvelous job.

Sukting's ratings :

On acting : *** (Scale of 5)

On story : *** (Scale of 5)

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


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