"If this was by TVB, Jiaxuan would wake up losing all her memories and moving on and Kai Lang and Dan Chun could be together forever. This series left it opened when it came to Dan Chun and Kai Lang."
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
Jacelyn Tay - Hu Dan Chun
Ivy Lee - Lin Jiaxuan
Edmund Chen - Qin Kailang
Chen Huihui - Hu Xiujuan
Chen Shucheng - Hu Tie
Ye Quan Zhen - Yang Qiuxia
Huang Bingjie - Lin Jiahao
Tang Shixiang - Chen Wenwu
Guest starring : Cynthia Koh as Li Wanping.
You will find episode summaries and characters bio at Official website at MediaCorp that aren't exactly accurate.
No. of Episodes
I am now too lazy to recount everything that happened in this series. So I shall be brief.
A long long time ago a young woman killed herself when her best friend refused to believe she didn't have an affair with another man. Her husband I guess didn't quite believe her as well as he himself was having an affair with another woman. Both these women gave birth to two daughters, the legitimate wife to a daughter named Jiaxuan and the mistress to an illegitimate daughter named Dan Chun. Jia Xuan was raised by the very same best friend who was wrecked with guilt when he friend died (or maybe cousin is the official relations) whilst Dan Chun's mom was murdered by her own father who thought she was having an affair with her ex boyfriend, Hu Tie who was a gangster when actually that boyfriend having been taught by that cousin to rape her as an act of revenge. Dan Chun's dad killed himself. Yes, a lot of people killing themselves over affairs that never happened. Anyway, both grew up, Jiaxuan in a privileged environment with Qing Kailang as boyfriend (he is the son of that same best friend now Jiaxuan's aunt) and Dan Chun grew up much loved by Hu Tie who took care of her as he was wrecked with guilt together with his eldest daughter who is mentally challenged named Ah Juan. Again, yes a lot of people wrecked with guilt over stupid things they did to other people who reacted in a very stupid way themselves. These half sisters met in adulthood as friends and became enemies once Dan Chun responded to an ad call looking for the little girl in that picture. Turns out that daddy's father wrote a will whereby his shares in the company will be distributed equally between his 3 grandchildren, that is Jiaxuan, Dan Chun and Jia Hao, a cousin with a very bad acting .. I mean attitude. But Dan Chun had to work in the company to earn her share and after much thought she joined the company only to be attacked senselessly by Jia Hao and now the very jealous Jiaxuan. Things came to even bigger blows when Dan Chun fell for Kailang and Kailang fell for Dan Chun when Jiaxuan became more and more unreasonable. Kailang left to clear his mind and Jiaxuan pretended to be nice to Dan Chun to please Kailang who came back and broke off the relationship with Jiaxuan and started a new one with Dan Chun only to be told by Jiaxuan that she had cancer and well basically she ruled the day with her illness and Dan Chun and Kailang were left in the lurch.
Lots of things happen in epic Greek tragedy proportion and frankly to lazy to type it in here as I am sure my comments will have some of the details. For more details check out the MediaCorp website.
My simple verdict for this series is I enjoyed watching it, very very much. I also like the very realistic ending which frankly I haven't seen such an ending for quite some time.
The main theme of this series is jealousy and I believe the Angel referred to in the title is the character of Lin Jiaxuan.
The winning point of this series is ultimately its complex characters thrown into very delicate sensitive situations coupled with some very fine performances by the actors and actresses. I find the very core of human nature, what makes us an angel and what turns us into devils (which is the main storyline of this series) very very appealing. It reminds me of TVB's Life For Life, only that the character of Lin Jiaxuan is even more complicated.
Basically Dan Chun is one person who by discovering she had a half sister, an aunt, a cousin and knowing her past received what she never really had. She is a simple person who enjoys the simple pleasures in life and she loves her sister Ah Juan so much she wishes for a bigger family. When she discovered she had a half sister in her friend Jiaxuan, she was very happy, thinking she gained a family rather than losing her own family. There was this conversation in Jiaxuan's car before these discoveries were made that basically set the tone of the entire plot.
Dan Chun asked Jiaxuan whether she was ever lonely being the only child and Jiaxuan gave it some thought and said it never bothered her because she had an aunt and a cousin who loved her very much. She had it all. She didn't need a sibling to share and she didn't know if she could share because she was never in this kind of situation before. Her aunt indulged her, Kai Lang basically had to give in to her demands all the time. In fact her aunt indulged her so much because her aunt felt guilty and responsible over her mother's death. So basically in Jiaxuan's mind, sharing was never an option because she never had to. Dan Chun herself revealed she enjoyed Ah Juan's companionship so much, she wished she had more siblings. This was a girl who grew up adored by her adopted father and having to take care of a mentally handicapped sister Ah Juan whom herself idolises Dan Chun, so in a way Dan Chun shared her life with these people, and in her mind sharing was always better than enjoying it all alone because things can get pretty lonely if done alone. The scene in the car is a direct contrast of these two people and in a way a study into the inner psyche with what went wrong with Jiaxuan.
Truth is nothing was wrong with Jiaxuan, just that her aunt and cousin were too blinded to realise that Jiaxuan was not the angel they thought she was. Early indicators included she firing Kai Lang's secretary who was too friendly and too close with Kai Lang, getting jealous by girls' attention to Kai Lang and the ultimate was when Dan Chun was revealed as her half sister. Jiaxuan knew Dan Chun is a nice girl but when the truth was revealed, her mind quickly said Dan Chun would take away all she ever had. So Jiaxuan became very protective to what she had and the more protective she was, the more Kai Lang was turned off by her antics. There is no doubt Kai Lang loved Jiaxuan, and Jiaxuan loved Kai Lang, but the former is a more giving love whilst the latter is a more possessive love. Simply put, Jiaxuan is the embodiment of the Kiasu mentality.
In that respect Dan Chun received the most "punches" from Jiaxuan who was especially mean and bitchy to Dan Chun. Dan Chun thought she could salvage this relationship (after all as friends they were friendly to one another) and decided to try her best to make Jiaxuan accept her. But the more Dan Chun appeared before Jiaxuan's eyes, the more Jiaxuan hated her. This was more so when she saw how friendly Dan Chun was with Kai Lang and how Kai Lang was beginning to feel more than friendship with Dan Chun.
I wouldn't say Dan Chun seduced Kai Lang and the more apt description of how Kai Lang left Jiaxuan would be Jiaxuan drove Kai Lang away by driving Dan Chun away from her life. Kai Lang couldn't understand why Jiaxuan just couldn't accept Dan Chun. I wouldn't even say Jiahao influenced Jiaxuan and it wasn't the inheritance. In the end it is because Jiaxuan simply hated the idea of sharing with someone. She wanted it all for herself. The right word is Jiaxuan felt threatened by Dan Chun's presence. That ultimately drove Kai Lang away.
Kai Lang went away for some time and returned when Jiaxuan did many things to Dan Chun (without Dan Chun knowing) and telling him so in her emails to Kai Lang. Jiaxuan felt even angrier when she found out Kai Lang was writing to Dan Chun and yet refused to reply her mails. At this juncture Jiaxuan pretended to be nice to Dan Chun because she realised her inability to accept Dan Chun drove Kai Lang away and she wanted Kai Lang back and so she pretended. The only person who knew her true intentions was her aunt, Kai Lang's mom. But Qiuxia couldn't say no to Jiaxuan and let her be.
Things came to critical stage when Jiaxuan realised Kai Lang was about to tell her he was in love with Dan Chun and so she pretended to be sick, in fact dying. But that was all a lie and she was slowly poisoning herself so that she can pin the blame on Dan Chun who was responsible for giving her her medicine. When Dan Chun was arrested after Jiaxuan's false accusations, Kai Lang and his mom knew in their hearts Dan Chun didn't do it.
At this point, there is basically one reason why things became ugly. Everybody overestimated Jiaxuan. Dan Chun thought Jiaxuan was willing to accept her, Kai Lang thought she could live without him, Qiuxia thought she could live past through this. Obviously all of them knew so little about Jiaxuan.
In a way I can empathise with Jiaxuan. I mean Dan Chun is a nice girl but she should have walked away if she really cared about Jiaxuan. Hear me out.
Dan Chun deliberately stayed close to Kai Lang as she was in love with Kai Lang but knew she had little chance. So just the idea of being able to be near him was enough for her. What she didn't realise is Jiaxuan wasn't stupid and she knew Kai Lang felt a little something for Dan Chun too. The point is never ever desire your own sister's boyfriend, if you ever intend to have a close relationship with her. I can understand Jiaxuan's anger actually when she was always there, still there even when Jiaxuan told her to get lost. Dan Chun thought it was just a phase. But I would argue that Dan Chun refused to leave because she wanted to be near Kai Lang and innately, she thought she had a chance. So if you see Dan Chun in this light, she is not as nice as we would like to think of her.
But everything that Jiaxuan did was overboard, was too much for anyone to comprehend. Her hatred of Dan Chun was so deep she was willing to gamble with her life, thinking that was how she could win Kai Lang back. When her aunt confronted her about the poisoning incident, it was an emotional scene. Qiuxia tearfully asked Jiaxuan, "I have failed, I have failed to give you enough love, to teach you and you have turned out this way". Jiaxuan didn't really feel sorry for what she did but she was crying because she was afraid Qiuxia will stop loving her and Qiuxia could only tearfully say she had failed. In a way she had. Is it possible that too much love can be dangerous? That it could create a lifetime expectation of 100% love that can never be shared? It was obvious Qiuxia was stuck in between her love for Jiaxuan and her guilt towards Dan Chun so in the end she surrendered herself and Dan Chun was free. Let's not discuss about the silliness of this scene but it was still dramatic enough for a gasp or two.
But Jiaxuan didn't stop there. Kai Lang in an attempt to dig info from Jiaxuan slept with Jiaxuan twice, and Jiaxuan triumphantly said to Dan Chun and Kai Lang she was pregnant. Naturally nobody believed her. I didn't also because too much lies were uttered from her mouth so nobody knew when she was telling the truth. Moreover Jiahao kidnapped Dan Chun in exchange for money and Jiaxuan told him to kill her. Well Jiahao was arrested and Dan Chun saved when she bribed the killer and gave him more money. Jiaxuan was stark raving mad and that was when Kai Lang walked away. So she did something I would have expected her to do earlier, that is to jump to her death. Kai Lang immediately persuaded her not to and Jiaxuan thought she had a chance. Then Kai Lang broke the news, of all times it had to be there and then (this man lacked tact and timing for bad news) and Jiaxuan was so distraught, she ran and ran and ran and in a very dramatic moment, she screamed "I give you both my blessings but I want you to know your happiness is gained through my death!" and she jumped off a very narrow slope, row and row and row and fell into a very big longkang and hit her head on a stone. Kai Lang who saw her jumped also jumped with her and Dan Chun followed as well. But that was not the worst. The worst was in the hospital where Jiaxuan was certified as comatose and that was when Kai Lang found out SHE WAS INDEED PREGNANT. Kai Lang out of guilt, walked away from Dan Chun, came back a few years later and saw Dan Chun holding a baby girl with Jiaxuan sitting on a wheelchair. That was the end as he approached Dan Chun, lightly touched Jiaxuan on her cheek and looked at his daughter. There were no words spoken because it was unnecessary.
There were many moments in this series when I thought less is more. Like when Jiaxuan showed Kai Lang their childhood pictures, how they were always together. At that moment Kai Lang knew Jiaxuan did many bad things but yet perhaps as he looked through the pictures, he couldn't bring himself to hate her. They had too much in their past and Kai Lang saw in the adult Jiaxuan the girl he once knew and truly loved. Now he didn't know this adult Jiaxuan.
You may say why they all kept forgiving her, why Dan Chun even jumped to try and save her. One because Dan Chun was not evil and two both of them saw Jiaxuan when she was at her best (although I would argue even at her best she was slightly demented) so in their minds this evil Jiaxuan was not the real Jiaxuan. They wondered what made her change and when Jiaxuan told Dan Chun "It was because of you, YOU who took Kai Lang away!", in a way she was telling the truth. Jealousy was the key and the lack of tact was the driving force.
Then there were the scenes like the ending scene. If this was by TVB, Jiaxuan would wake up losing all her memories and moving on and Kai Lang and Dan Chun could be together forever. This series left it opened when it came to Dan Chun and Kai Lang. I would argue it was not possible for them to be together anymore. They were guilt ridden. They shouldn't be because Jiaxuan was selfish but they couldn't help it. Everybody seems to blame himself or herself for what happened to Jiaxuan, I too blame Dan Chun and Kai Lang but ultimately, Jiaxuan made that decision to jump, so she had to be blamed. Maybe the writers tried to give a pararell kind of thing between Jiaxuan and her mom who also jumped when they didn't really mean to and between Dan Chun and Qiuxia, whereby Qiuxia out of guilt took care of Jiaxuan and now Dan Chun will take care of that little girl. I love this ending because it is so different, so real.
After watching this series in its entirety, I realise Jiaxuan had thought of the ultimate revenge against Dan Chun and Kai Lang. What better revenge than to punish them with guilt and what ifs? First she did it by destroying Dan Chun's reputation (accusing her of having affairs when Jiaxuan encouraged that married rich guy to pursue Dan Chun), all these she did it quietly, nobody knew it was she and they thought it was Jiahao. Jiahao was no saint but he was far less scary than Jiaxuan. Then she did many more things like pretending to be really nice to Dan Chun, poisoning herself, then accused Dan Chun of poisoning her so jailing Dan Chun would be ultimate right? Nope. She then slept with Kai Lang and boasted about it in front of Dan Chun whilst pretending to be sweet and nice and Dan Chun was in prison. Dan Chun was so distraught she refused to eat and so Jiaxuan appeared next to her and said many more bad things and Dan Chun even tried to strangle her (very dramatic scene). Not enough? Well she then told everybody she was pregnant and said things like daddy doesn't want you, poor baby and then she go and ask Jiahao to kidnap Dan Chun and to kill her. Again not enough? She threatened to jump. She didn't and then she jumped the 2nd time. But the ultimate revenge? She lived but not like she was before (I think the ending is a bit sketchy, was she brain damaged but she could sit and even cry a bit or was she so deep into her depression that she refused to move?), gave birth to a baby girl and for the rest of their lives, Dan Chun and Kai Lang would be constantly reminded how they disbelieved her when she told them she was pregnant. The scene when she jumped was also very dramatic because the background music was hauntingly dramatic. This series is like the ultimate guide to ever lasting revenge that is if you're willing to die for it! I basically cheered at her dedication in making Dan Chun and Kai Lang miserable.
You know if I were Dan Chun, I wouldn't be. I would simply walk away. The problem with Dan Chun is she like Kai Lang couldn't walk away. So in the end they couldn't be together. The ending is still fresh in my mind and to fully appreciate the ending, you must watch this series to see the progression (or digression) of Jiaxuan's mental health. She wasn't crazy, she knew what she was doing, she was very calculative as well but she might as well had been crazy because no sane person would have gone through the lengths that she went through to hurt Dan Chun and get back Kai Lang. It makes you like those who threw paint onto their cheating husband's favourite Porsche.
Jiaxuan was indeed a character you shouldn't like much, shouldn't feel sad for her but I felt what a pity. If only she just let go a little she wouldn't have lost so much. If only Dan Chun just walked away and Kai Lang just stop falling for his cousins.
As discussed above, the ending and the acting performances which I shall discuss later.
This series is too dramatic but I like it because I always enjoy two women having catfights, more so when one starving woman tried to strangle another woman who won't shut up!
The character of Wen Wu. Is there a point? I thought he was the villain but he spent so much time feeling guilty and scared over what he did, I don't think he had time to be a villain. His death scene was more funny than tragic and the actor was horrible although handsome.
The character of Lin Jiahao is such a caricature and the actor? Probably the worst actor in this series.
The timeline is all off. We have Jiaxuan's mom having a very 90s hairstyle, 90s dress, 90s feel when it was about 2 decades ago.
Then the storyline about how everybody's mom died. Already it was silly enough to have a woman jumping to her death out of a dare, then we have a man stabbing his girlfriend and then cut his own neck in a tunnel that didn't feel like 20 years ago. Before than we have rape, pictures ... you know everything dramatic, logic need not apply.
Everybody normal hardly have sex but it was the mentally challenged girl played by Chen Hui Hui had plenty of it. Don't get me wrong. It was sickening. All the recent Singaporean series I have watched have very similar trends;
1. pedophiles raping or attempting to rape
2. sickos raping or attempting to rape
3. stupid policemen who never investigate because they were never in the storyline
4. stupid lawyers because we have people admitting to killing everybody and nobody seems to question but again can't blame them because they were never in the storyline
5. there is no justice in Singapore
This series is all of that. Ah Juan was raped by an old uncle and yes, she willingly followed him because she didn't know better. Second time she willingly followed and the guy was removing her pants (very graphic!) when Dan Chun and Wen Wu appeared and beat the crap out of that guy. You know the joke? Wen Wu had to go to prison for a few months for beating a guy who was attempting to rape a friend who was mentally challenged. You see the joke? Where is the justice? Later on Wen Wu who was drunk thought Ah Juan was Dan Chun and well, you may say slept with her but that girl didn't know better so I should use the word rape. Ah Juan was pregnant twice, once she lost it I think when Jiahao pushed her to the floor (the father was that creep) and second time by Wen Wu but she died not long after when she drowned in the pool. We have also a scene of Wen Wu trying to rape Dan Chun, Qiuxia surrendering herself for poisoning Jiaxuan (the police are indeed dead in Singapore by the looks of this series). I think most of the series I watched was between 2000-2002 so maybe during these times MediaCorp had a very disillusioned writer?
Towards the end the pretentious soundtrack, like walking away slowly to a very loud Italian opera song. I cringed at the thought of that scene.
Bad kissing scenes. I mean Jiaxuan and Kai Lang's scenes were ok, they were even in bed you see (again pretty graphic by local TV standards) but the kissing scene between Dan Chun and Kai Lang was all camera angles. Why don't they just kiss??
Old people in young people's role. Jiaxuan I think is between 25 - 27 years of age, so Dan Chun must be a bit younger and Kai Lang a bit older but Edmund Chen though very healthy looking, he looked way older than mid 30s. In fact he looked perpetually drunk with his rosy cheeks. And he looked sad, very sad, droopy eyes, droopy face. I feel depressed looking at him BUT he can sing though and he has a lovely voice, as in manly and yet soft.
Dan Chun crying at Kai Lang and Jiaxuan's engagement party without realising it. I think this says it all right? But unlike another series which had the same scene, Dan Chun here was irritating. The other series I was talking about was a Taiwanese series called For Better Or Worse where the ex girlfriend (probably the only mistress that viewers support) openly cried whilst ex boyfriend (a man worth fighting for) married his ex wife (most hated wife ever on screen) again.
I am not sure whether I mentioned this or not earlier as I am supplementing my review after so many weeks. There is one glaring discrepancy in this series which could have been the downfall of this series if not for the fine performances and engaging storyline. I am not that into accuracy, but when you are supposed to be 20 years back and yet you have almost all characters with highlighted red/blonde/burgundy red hair, you will immediately notice the problem. Worse still was the hairstyle were all so 90s and so of this century that it didn't feel like the old times. Then there was the dressing. One minute you have headscarf and 70s type of skirt and blouse, next minute you have an ultra modern red dress where the main character killed herself in. Maybe in Singapore it is very difficult to find a location that is of the old times, but then 70s or early 80s is not that old a time. But I thought I saw some modern cars in the background. It kinda bothers me for a while but after a while I was so into the story and acting, I really didn't care.
The main plot could have been a very bad aspect as well. The flashbacks are all done in a very amateurish way. In fact I could have been the writer. The writing and the flashbacks could have been more polished and well presented but all I could see was girl got cheated by husband, cousin in love with husband, cousin thought girl was having an affair dared girl to prove her innocence and girl jumped to prove her innocence, cousin wrecked with guilt. Very dramatic, very tragic, oh so Taiwanese Qiong Yau style. I hated the flashbacks because at the end of the day all that didn't matter because the rivalry between the two sisters didn't stem from what their parents did or did not do but rather because of one man they both wanted. Other than that I find the settings in the modern world more believable and the story more powerful.
Other than that, everything was quite ok.
I like the themesong and I suspect sung by Edmund Chen and Jacelyn Tay. Sounded like them.
Overall, more bad ones than good ones. Let's do the bad ones first.
I am torn between Tang Shixiang who plays Wen Wu and Huang Bingjie who plays Jiahao, one too emotional and the other too robotic and dramatic. My choice in the end is Tang Shixiang. He is such a bad actor, especially when he goes panicky, all his bad acting could be seen. I can't describe it, you have to see it for yourself. He looks good but no substance.
Worst Actor - Runner Up
Definitely that actor who played Lin Jiahao, Huang Bingjie.
Definitely the actress who plays Qiuxia whom I believe her name is Ye Quan Zhen, who was also in Zhen Zhu Cai Yi. I mean she's not that bad but she is like a drama queen you know? Too expressive, so many dramatic big moments. Typical Taiwanese style of acting, in shock stagger a few steps back, in anger, hunch your shoulders, walk forward slowly, squint eyes and start crying. Always cry. I pity this actress though. She I think is a sex bomb in Taiwanese but I have seen at least 2 series she played characters older than her real age, once in Bloody Peals (Zhen Zhu Cai Yi) and now here.
Worst Actress - Runner Up
None because not many actresses in here who are memorable enough for me to start noticing how bad they are.
Could be Edmund Chen who I think can act very well but unfortunately he has this perpetual drunk look thanks in part to his perpetually rosy cheeks. And he is not young anymore, so frankly I do feel he is a bit too old for this role.
Best Actor - Runner Up
Chen Sucheng, this role didn't suit him because he didn't look like a loan shark to me even with tattoos and all , but he did well that is Steven. I have seen him in so many series, playing a sleazy rich man (Holland V), then a loving stern patriarch (Vive La Famille) and now this, an uneducated loving father. What more that this man can't do? Such versatility.
A tough call. Ivy, Jacelyn Tay or Chen Hui Hui? All 3 very credible actresses. I would say Ivy because she made Jiaxuan very ugly in her personality and the fact that she dared to look that bad, I feel she must be given due recognition for her excellent portrayal of a character that is hard to like but still could be pitied.
Best Actress- Runner Up
Jacelyn Tay or Chen Hui Hui? I would say Jacelyn Tay. I find her very stylish, and she can play all roles. I saw her as a lawyer before, she just dressed nicer and yet she looked truly professional. Here she was very good also though there were times I disliked Dan Chun.
Chen Hui Hui is also a very celebrated character actress in Singapore but I don't like her. Her performance is flawless but I just don't like the actress. I find her Ah Juan irritating, the same way I find her character in Vive La Famille irritating for different reasons. But she did well in the sense that very believable behaviour, like when after she slept with Wen Wu, she would dress in revealing clothes in her house, sleep on the floor looking very exposed. You know how children behaved when they learn something they shouldn't and that they like what they had learned?
Of all I recognise only Cynthia Koh in a very forgettable role. After all her role here is just to jump and die.
A Note On The Intimate Scenes
No sex scenes but rather the characters of Kai Lang and Jiaxuan, both always embracing one another. In fact they kissed and hugged the most. The actress Ivy really really hugged that actor and Edmund Chen really actually tenderly hugged her back or how he brushed Jacelyn's hair. I can see the intimacy between the characters, the closeness, sometimes too much hugging but it's nice. It's nice to see such intimacy, but the kissing scenes suck. You know I find Singaporean series very daring when it comes to such scenes. I like that not because I am into such scenes but I find HK series half hearted in such scenes. Another shocking one was Power Of Love which really had some very intimate scenes. Again I like that because they are all tastefully done. In this series we see Kai Lang and Jiaxuan constantly hugging, or rather Jiaxuan constantly hugging Kai Lang. You will know the nature of their relationship as later on Jiaxuan doing all the hugging and Kai Lang just stood there whilst at the beginning he would hug her back. It's the body language that I appreciate.
The character of Dan Chun also kissed Kai Lang but that I believe was more of camera angles than real kissing which was embarassing to watch because it was supposed to be a very passionate kiss, full of longing and promises but the actors .... if you want to fake a kiss at least fake it for real, you know what I mean?
A very dramatic series, and those who likes the drama in Taiwanese series and expecting something different and more real especially in dialogues (as two women bickered over one man and other scenes), this series is for you. Or watch it for some fine performances. I am now a fan of Jacelyn Tay because I find her very versatile (although harsh looking with her all too sharp features) and I do like Ivy's portrayal though I don't like the actress all that much. Watch it simply for the characters.