Once Upon A Love

Reviewed by: sukting

October 07, 2012

Rating: two

How long: 14 Episodes

What is love – is it truly sweet? Ru Mi’s experience begs to differ.

Story/Introduction on characters
1. Tian Ru Mi - Yang Jin Hua
She is a single mother with a 10 year old son. She is the rose queen during her high school days. Things change after she has a one night stand with Ye. Ye supports her when her father suddenly dies. Mrs Xu discovers that Ru Mi is pregnant. She humiliates her and forces Ye to leave Taiwan.
When Ye’s family leaves and she has no idea where to look for him, she bravely brings up her son alone by going to Taipei. She doesn’t want to give her mother and sister trouble. Her biggest regret is her mother dies without forgiving her. She believes that Ye will come for her. She starts being a tour guide. She is now troubled over bread and butter issues to worry when the tour agency closes down to lose her job.
She returns to her hometown, Zhang Hua to set up a small tour agency and gets a 10 person bus to operate the business. She calls it sweet magical bus. To deal with different costumes, she will wear different outfits. Ye later discovers her plight and brings her home, determined to marry her. She can’t get along with Mrs Xu and also finds out her heart is only with Jing Yang. She runs away from the wedding altar to discover him with Rebecca. Jing Yang has to reassure her to win her back.
I am not convinced by her acting. She doesn’t come across like a mother and it is hard to believe that 5 guys are in love with Ru Mi! Maybe she should have changed her hairstyle as it looks the same as she is in ‘My queen’. Her OL image there is simply too striking.

2. Li Jin Yang - Wang Yang Ming
He is a bookworm wearing nerdy spectacles. His family owns a land growing grapes. He falls for Ru Mi, the beauty queen but has no courage to woo her. He can only draw her in secret. This is how he discovers his talent. He goes to the U.S. to pursue his dream to become a female fashion designer.
10 years later, he wins the best designer award. Upon knowing that his grandmother falls ill, he rushes home. This is why he gets to take Ru Mi’s bus to quarrel with her. They do not see eye to eye over many things. He also discovers that his grandmother lies about her illness and is forced to go through a blind date with a wine shop owner’s daughter. Too bad, things do not work out between them.
Jin Yang is also forced to give up his dream to inherit the grapeyard. He is now in a dilemma – he isn’t going to look for his dream girl here either. He is too heartbroken to see his previous dream girl Ru Mi becoming a woman with no dress sense and putting on lousy make-up. Yi Xiang becomes their matchmaker when he discovers how much she has gone through. He helps her to paint the bus without complaints.
Yang Ming’s looks are better than his acting skills. He comes across stiff at times in love scenes. His best are scenes with the kid – unbelievable.

3. Xu Ye - Wu Zhong Tian
He is Ru Mi’s first boyfriend who grows up in a business family. He is a model pupil who is well-liked by everyone. He also looks nerdy, shy and is without airs. He is courageous and refuses to heed his family’s advice to be with Ru Mi. Both even spend the night together to exchange their love vows. He has once returned to look for Ru Mi but Mrs Tian chases him away as she can’t forget the humiliation.
He is successful in managing the family business but is never happy. He accepts Nicole as a matter of fact. He thinks that he is destined not to find Ru Mi again. But, fate arranges them to meet. He is guilty-stricken but is adamant to make up for lost time. 10 years is still a gap too wide. Alas, time is no longer on his side when Yi Xiang prefers to chat with Jing Yang than with him.
Ru Mi’s heart is also no longer with him even though he tries to marry her. Mrs Xu is the cause of his misery. Zhong Tian is very boring indeed. Seems like a fish out of water. He doesn’t project the happiness that Ye should have upon seeing Ru Mi again.

4. Xu Juan Juan - Yu Hong Yuan
She is Ye’s younger sister who is a warm and passionate person. She is baffled to know his past but supports him. She is Jin Yang's blind date partner. She helps out in the winery business. She has actually met Jing Yang on the plane on the way back and doesn’t mind his poor attitude. The funny part is both even sit on the same bus back to Zhang Hua. However, Jing Yang only treats her like a younger sister and doesn’t waver to her love confession. She doesn’t give up easily on this.

5. Bao Yu - Mei Fang
She is Jin Yang’s grandmother. Being the traditional type, she believes that men are better than women. She spoils Jing Yang rotten to allow him to throw his tantrums but luckily he is still a kind person. She is stunned to know that Jing Yang likes Ru Mi. To make Jing Yang stay, she comes up with all sorts of tricks. She opposes to this as she is afraid of offending the Xu family. Although she admires Ru Yi for bringing up Yi Xiang well, she doesn’t want her as a granddaughter-in-law. She also likes Rebecca when she offers to sponsor Jing Yang’s designs but love is lost.

6. Li Ruo Yun - Fan Xiao Fan
She is Jin Yang’s elder sister. She knows that her responsibility is heavy as Jin Yang is always overseas. Too bad, Yu never appreciates her efforts to regard Jin Yang as the only successor. She doesn’t mind doing more for him but she shakes her head upon seeing how deeply in love Jing Yang is to give up his dream. To her, love comes at the wrong time and he should not have insisted. If worms are causing a whole row of grapes to rot, she has to remove them.

7. Chen Yao Ming - Ma Nian Xian
He is a reporter and also Jin Yang's best friend cum senior. He is righteous but has no talent in art. He becomes the province reporter after noticing that his character can’t dig news. He tries hard but gives himself too much pressure when things fail.
Upon seeing him shining, he can’t help feeling jealous when his father praises him. Even Yi Xiang and Ru Mi treat him better than him. He knows that his qualifications are limited but he hopes to protect Ru Mi. his love confession fails as she only treats him as a friend.

8. Mrs Li – Lu Man Yin
She is Jin Yang’s mother who also wants the best for him although she knows that Ru Mi is a nice person. She is a traditional woman who listens to her husband and obeys her in-laws to look after the children. She follows this family all her life but she is helpless towards Yu’s bias treatment towards her daughter.

9. Tian Ru Zi – Lin Jia Li
She is Ru Mi’s elder sister who works in the hospital. Her father is very strict with her as the elder child so she does the same to Ru Mi. When she is free, she takes care of Yi Xiang for her. She doesn’t want Ru Mi to get bullied again and hopes Ye can change her life.

10. Tian Yi Xiang – Juan Juan
He is Ru Mi’s son who has only Ru Mi all this while. He thinks for her. He sees Jing Yang always wearing in white and hopes that he will be the prince charming to rescue his mother. Surprisingly, Jing Yang gets along well with the kid and learns Ru Mi’s past. He starts to fall for her. Jing Yang is overjoyed to hear him calling him father and later fights with Ye over him. The poor child has to call both guys fathers.

11. Nicole – Yu Han Mi
She is Ye’s fiance. Her parents know his parents and she has stayed in their home when furthering her studies. Both families like to see them getting married. She is well-mannered so Mrs Xu likes her very much. Ye is the main focus in her life. She jumps when Ye leaves the wedding altar. She becomes persistent to try to win him back with Mrs Xu’s help. She doesn’t want to waste her 8 years on him.

12. Gu Li – Xiao Ying
He is Ru Mi’s colleague and friend. He is also the driver of "Sweet Bus" after listening to Ru Mi to invest all his wedding savings on it. He pairs up with her to tell the tourists jokes. He is peeved to see Jing Yang wooing Ru Mi and tries to break them up. When he fails, he wishes them all the best.

13. Rebecca – Wang Kai Di
She is Jin Yang’s US girlfriend who comes from a rich family. She enjoys life and dresses stylishly. She refuses to return to Taiwan with Jing Yang. She prefers cohabiting and refuses to meet his family. But missing him, she packs her bags to come. Knowing that he is involved with a single mother, she hopes to win him back by pleasing his family.

14. Wei Li – Yang Zi Yi
He is the owner of a noodle stall that Ru Mi goes frequently. He wants to make others know that his noodles are not normal instant noodles. He often gives others advice. Ru Mi comes to his noodle stall to work part time to move his goods. He also has a crush on Ru Mi.

15. Xu Yi Chun - Chen Wen Bin
He is Ye’s father. He owns the winery. Unlike his wife, he actually accepts Ru Mi immediately. He is well-educated and he is very rich to have many business ties. He invests money all over the world in different business. When he becomes old, he wants to return to his homeland. He manages the winery to read books and drink wine during his free time.
He likes doing business with the Lis as their grape quality is good. He is even willing to let his own daughter to become their daughter-in-law. But he is helpless when his children face trouble in love.

16. Mrs Xu – Ke Shu Qin
She is a snob who belittles Ru Mi, feeling that she isn’t good enough for her son. You can’t blame her for this as her home background is also normal. She is pretty and well educated to match Yi Chun to marry him. Thus, educating her children is her foremost task.
Being in a rich family for too long makes her forget her own roots. She insists that her children’s future in-laws must match them in wealth. She will always make both of them subdue to her. Till, Ye’s life starts with Ru Mi. She is like a needle in her flesh. To make sure that Ru Mi will not ruin Ye’s future, She sends Ye to the U.S. and he leaves without knowing why. She also arranges Nicole to marry him. When Ye discovers what really happens in the past, he no longer respects her.

17. Li Xiao Rong – Chen Wen Bin
He is very filial and talks little. He seldom smiles – not because he is strict but because he thinks slowly. He doesn’t like to socialize and rather leaves his daughter to do all the work. He likes to step in the farm to grow the grapes. He knows he has no say over Jing Yang’s choice. He only wants him to be more mature to become the man of the house. It doesn’t matter if he isn’t the successor buthe must work towards his dream.

Interesting facts
Jing Hua acted as a single mother and had exaggerating dressing all along. She also had to make sacrifices to act as Sailormoon. We also see her wearing different costumes, including a cheongsam and pom pom dress. She detested the salormoon outfit most as it was too hot for her. She wanted to seek refuge in the car but Yang Ming despised her. He jokingly said that she was too glaring and he did not dare to sit beside her.
Jing Hua seek advice from many to learn how to be a single mother. All were totally attracted by her shiny outfits. Even the work crew praised her for looking like the real sailormoon. This was totally different from her usual OL image. Jing Hua was very happy to know about the COSPLAY part. She could not dress like this in real life but she could try out now. Especially to wear a wig and mini-skirt.
The two male leads could not contain their curiosity when this part was being shot. Both were tongue-tied to tell her that she really had the guts to wear in public. Both even dragged her to take a photo together, calling it a classic scene. They admired her courage and so do those who crowded around to watch it. All simply cracked up when they did not even recognize her. Jing Hua was proud of it – this showed that she was successful.

Most favourite character
Jing Yang, he is frank, talented and persistent in love.

Most hated character
Mrs Xu, she screws up many people’s lives and doesn’t repent.

The opening theme is the smile that hugs you by Guo Jing. The ending theme is seen by Wang Hong En. Both songs are listenable.

Although I do not watch this drama with distain, I can’t bring myself to like it either. How can there be so much opposition between the love triangle leads? Ye has Nichole while Jing Yang is trapped by Juan Juan and Rebecca. Ru Mi is the worst - to get surrounded by Ye, Jing Yang, Wei Li, Yao Ming and Gu Li! Is the producer trying to create a love hendecagon with 11sides? Moreover, Ru Mi isn’t exactly a good catch as she has many flaws. It makes matters worse when the leads do not have chemistry with each other. It doesn’t help even though they rope in a child star to act in here as he isn’t as cute as Xiao Xiao Bin.
Their love ordeal is simply too long. Ru Mi takes a long time to accept Jing Yang because she is a single mother. After that, she gives a long time to Ye to provide chances for him to treat Yi Xiang and her better. During this time, the lovers from both men try all ways to hinder her chances. Come on, haven’t we seen these from numerous episodes?
I enjoyed watching ‘My Queen’ as it is more realistic. As for this one, accidents are too deliberate. To squeeze tears from the crowd to create an accident to make Ru Mi return to Jing Yang in the last episode? Obviously, it doesn’t work for many people. The only plus point is the nice scenery in Zhang Hua. Other than that, it is still a normal idol drama after all. ‘Autumn’s Concerto’ is a more watchable drama than this one despite of the similar storyline.

Sukting’s ratings :
On acting : **1/2 (Scale of 5)
On story : ** (Scale of 5)
On song : **1/2 (Scale of 5)

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