When the second fiddle carries the melody

Taiwanese dramas don’t always feature the caliber of acting that you’ll see in Korean dramas but there are a few of the “idol” performers who can generally be relied upon to deliver a compelling performance. Mike He (賀軍翔 (贺军翔) / He Jun Xiang), who’s perfected the bedroom eyes look too well for one so young, is such a performer. And yet… I’m just starting to watch “Bull Fighting” (鬥牛。要不要 / Dou Niu. Yao Bu Yao?) and it’s the second lead, Lee Wei (李威) who is running away with the show so far!


His interpretation of the faithful bodyguard Zi Cong, in love with his charge, is pitch perfect. The dignity and character he brings to the role is amazing.

This is not to say that Mike He is any slouch in his performance, but he’s not yet been called upon to do much more than look attractive and perform some nice basketball moves.


It’s almost as if I can hear him saying, “What do you mean? How can you say that I’m being cast in the shade?” Well, I’m only 6 episodes in, so he has time to make up some ground, but with the excellent work Lee Wei’s putting in he’s got a tough row to hoe!

And, in case you’re curious about the title, “Bull Fighting” refers to a type of street basketball game. No ones getting dressed up in the traje de luces and going after a real bull here! For more information on the series, check out the d-wiki site. The drama also stars Hebe Tian (田馥甄 / Tian Fu Zhen), one of the singers of the Taiwanese pop group S.H.E., as the love interest of the two young men.

Sharing an opinion

One of the risks inherent in blogging or sharing your passions with others in any other form of communication is that sometimes what you are so enthusiastic about will generate nothing more than mild indifference, even puzzlement. (“You like what? Why?”) This is certainly the case when it comes to my full blown addiction to serial dramas, especially those from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Colombia, and Chile.

There is one drama from Taiwan that I have a particular fondness for, “The Rose,” thanks to the incredible breakout performance of Joe Cheng 鄭元暢 (郑元畅) and yet I am reluctant to begin to explain how and why someone else should give “The Rose” a try – mostly because I know that it’s going to provoke the confused looks and that will make me crazy. I want to shout at those closed minds and say “Hey! This guy is really good! He’s amazingly intuitive in his acting and in spite of a plot line that just seems wrong you really want him to succeed in his quest for love – trust me!”

But it is a hard sell, I know, because once I explain the plot, all willingness to take a gamble goes out the window.


So, just what is the plot? It’s the story of a young woman who discovers that she has 3 half-siblings and a celebrity mother and comes to live with them. The siblings are gorgeous and interesting and Bai He is, well, not. They treat her as an interloper but she cheerfully adapts and promptly falls in love with her oldest half-brother.

I can hear it now… “Oh ho! Incest. Sure, that makes for good television! What are you trying to get me to watch?”

But that’s not the half of it. Joe Cheng’s character, Kui, also is in love with his half-brother, the emotionally numb Jin (and yes, I’ll admit that wooden is an adjective that fits actor Jerry Huang well too) who has not recovered from the death of his fiancee. The childish man/boy Kui tussles with Bai He for Jin’s attention and affection and in the process develops feelings for her as well.

“Now we have three-way incestuous implications here. This sounds really strange!”

Does it help to know that it’s based on a Japanese manga? And that manga push the edge of the envelope like few other mediums do? In fact, the manga takes the story further than the Taiwanese drama does, but that’s another tale. What’s important here is that “The Rose” does a beautiful job of introducing us to an unforgettable character in Kui and shows us the promise of talent in Joe Cheng. The part of Bai He is adequately handled by Ella, one of the members of the Taiwanese pop group S.H.E. And, while the story meanders a bit at 26 episodes and the production values aren’t always the best, there is a lovely soundtrack and the “can’t take your eyes off of him” performance by Joe Cheng to compensate.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite songs from the OST, a traditional Chinese lullaby!

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/u/7431696/%E6%90%96%E7%B1%83%E6%9B%B2.mp3 ]