I must admit, I’m a full-blown, drama-addict. I am faced with withdrawal symptoms and itching urges to watch endless episodes until 3 am, even when I know I should sleep and study. Asian dramas (Taiwanese, Korean, Japanese) are magical in that they draw you in within maybe 5 episodes, and then you are hooked to the finale (which you hope will not end!). I did not become like this until my sophomore year in college a few years back when I became ultra-Asian 🙂 I always thought my parents were strange for watching dramas all day long. Now I’ve stepped in those slippers and totally entranced.
I started watching mainly comedic Taiwanese dramas initially, but I expanded to some Korean and Japanese. Korean dramas tend to be heart-wrenching sad, yet good. A sad one is Autumn’s Tale, while a funny and melodramatic one is Boys Over Flowers. Japanese ones tend to be a mix of sad, heart-breaking (1リットルの涙, Ichi Littoru no Namida- 1 Liter of Tears) or straight-forward drama that gets to the point, with just the right amount of comedy and problems.
I stay away from Mainland dramas, since 1) I can’t stand the accents, and 2) they seem boring. As I have learned, Taiwanese dramas tend to be over-dramatic, whiny, and long. While I watch them, I get stuck, but when I get to the ending, they are ridiculous and bland. So stay away from these: Emerald on the Roof 屋頂上的綠寶石, Romantic Princess 公主小妹, Hana Kimi, It Started With a Kiss 惡作劇之吻, 鬥牛。要不要 Bull Fighting just to name a few. BUT, recently I honestly believe Taiwanese dramas are on the road towards improvement. With some recommendations from friends, I tried watching a new cop drama 痞子英雄 Black and White with Vic Chou 周渝民 and Mark Chao 趙又廷. Two cops as opposite as black and white, night and day, end up working together on a complicated case involving disasters, mysterious deaths, theft, roaming mistrust, and entangled love.
Vic plays 陳在天 (痞子), the “ruffian” and care-free, rich guy who’s the “king” cop of the Northern district. He relies on messages from a mysterious source to solve cases and rise in status. On the other hand, Mark plays 吳英雄, the “hero” and hot-headed, insanely dedicated cop who goes through blood and sweat to pluck criminals off the streets. In the beginning, Hero is involved with a drug case known as “Dreamer,” a psychedelic hallucinogen that knocks your senses out of whack. The action-packed chase fails to catch the mastermind initially, and this is where Hero meets Zai Tian (Pi Zi). Pi Zi is dressed rather sleek in his white suit and flashes his flirty smile as the gunshots send him hiding and cringing. When Hero finds out he’s a cop and failed to stop the running criminals, Hero is outraged and critical. Back at the headquarters in the Southern District, Hero’s bosses are angry at the media attention and utter failure. As a deal, the directors thought it would be humorous to put them two together as the “lucky crime-fighting pair.” And that was the beginning of an interesting friendship.
Of course, the case expands and complicates, somehow involving the powerful gang San Lien Hui and a murderous mercenary group called Sarkozy. This reminded me of Infernal Affairs, another twisted, but fascinating film where two cops are actually enemies and looking for each other. One cop (Andy Lau) of high status is actually involved with the Triads, the mole within the police. An undercover cop (Tony Leung) is disguised in the Triad, trying to bust the gang and searching for the internal mole who’s been feeding the police information to the Triad. It becomes a cat-and-mouse game of great intensity, mirrored in this wonderfully executed Taiwanese drama for once.
Black and White had meaning and real action, not just another fake, melodramatic string of episodes. You learn about the intricacies and ambiguities of love. You see the developing relationship between two cop-brothers that hits some bumps and sharps. Their bond is tested over and over again, and you see they look out for each other like real family. You shed some tears (maybe that’s just me) for Pi Zi when you observe his pitiful, lonely, and confused past. Your heart aches for Hero’s varying degrees of love for different women, while he tries to stay ultra-focused on his labyrinth of a job. You wonder even how the Triad leader is not such a bad man after all, how he uses his power to love and protect. You wonder about the past of some characters, especially when you learn about the sadness behind Pi Zi and Hero. Boy, do you also get knocked over with the surprise bombs relating to the main characters.
In summary, this drama is well worth watching. The acting was professional and amazing. Everyone did well on their part, whether crying or yelling to the point of boiling over. The fighting scenes were well-choreographed and executed to perfection. It’s different than some mainland cop dramas; this has young, hip, and very attractive actors and actresses who deserve praise for their hard work and talent. I was kept in suspense after each episode, to the point that I could finish up to 5 episodes a night between studying and school. Even the music grew on me over the course of the drama, like any repetitious playing can do to anyone. I’d like to suggest the new Taiwanese band COLOR who contributed to some pleasant pop-rock music. Plus, there will be a movie sequel coming out soon next year, so stay tuned for that. Definitely give this a try if you’re digging for action and suspense!