[TW DRAMA] Material Queen (2011)

warning: may contain spoilers:

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When money > love..

Plot:

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Lin Chu Man is a top fashion model in Taiwan and is currently in Paris, France for a photoshoot. She’s now in a relationship with a rich businessman who’s old, short, and fat. She doesn’t care about his appearance, she only wants him for his money. Chu Man doesn’t believe in love, as her mother left her in an orphanage at a young age. The old man proposed to her in Paris, and she reluctantly accepts. But one day, she met William Norman, who’s known for being rich and handsome. Many girls would want to marry this Mr. Right. She then changed her target to William. William also had good feelings towards her. However, she realized that the William that he met is not William, but a hired body double by the name of Cai Jia Hao. He plays violin and studies in Paris School of Music, and he got the job since he’s poor. She dumped him and went back to the old man. Nevertheless, it’s too late for her since the old man found about it and dumped her too. When she came back to Taiwan, she was no longer a top model, since a junior model took her place, and she was also kicked out from the house of the old man. She had no place to stay so she decided to rent a room at a cheap place. She arrived at Chao Nan Market and found out that Cai Jia Hao is her roommate. They have crossed paths once again, but Lin Chu Man tried to forget him and aims to attract her new target, a business tycoon named Yan Kai Ming. Will she be successful in enticing her new target, and will she truly forget Jia Hao?

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Opinions:

I skipped this drama the year when it aired, mainly because the pirated dvd that I got was so blurry and I ended up forgetting about it. I decided to pick up this drama again after hearing quite good reviews and since I wanted another dose of Van Ness. He once again worked with the director of Autumn’s Concerto and many casts also appeared in this show too. I was looking forward to it since they shot scenes in Paris, France. I really had my hopes high, but ended up really frustrated. AC was my favorite drama, so coming from the same team who’s behind it, I expected a lot.

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At most parts of the drama, the female lead is emphasized. Well, the title says for itself as we can see how material queens view love as non-existent and that money is everything. I think it’s a good topic since many girls love branded stuff. Especially these days when we can easily flaunt everything in social media, being materialistic applies to everyone, even men. This drama truly showed materialism to another level. Chu Man doesn’t care about a man’s physical attributes as long as he is rich. It’s funny though how Chu Man had to rely on men for money. I mean she’s a top model, yet she doesn’t have her own savings. Anyway, she encountered different men but she realizes that money can’t buy love and happiness. Yes, she may feel happy while buying expensive products, but at the end of the day, she’s like an empty shell. I think the story created was fantastic and this part was realistic.

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I feel like I’m watching a daily drama or a drama that’s been airing for months. It’s because there were many characters that come and go. They also fast forwarded to a few years and then another 2 years which made it somehow confusing. I think they wanted to emphasize that material queens like Chu Man simply cannot move on so quickly. Actually there were so many things that happened that I forgot what happened in the previous episodes. I think the first crisis was absurd. Nan Chao Market is going to be converted into a high end mall, but the people living in the market didn’t want to leave. So how did they solve it? By having a fashion show in the market. This is totally not correlated. The staff also hired Patricia Fields to actually style their clothing and all. They also acquired sponsorship from a French high end jewelry brand. But for us who has no knowledge in fashion, it’s a bit hard to understand. It’s a good thing that they showed the behind the scenes footage at the end of some episodes to know how hard the staff worked. Even how hard they worked, I wished they polished the story better since it was getting draggy by the 6th or 7th episode.

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The chemistry was so-so. I couldn’t feel the “love” that they were supposed to have from the very first episode. The kisses that they had, most of them were totally random. Appearance wise, Lynn is super tall since she’s a model and Van Ness had to resort to a high hairstyle to match her height. The second lead also had to use a wooden box to make himself taller. And to be honest, I couldn’t feel the warmth of Nan Chao Market and just the characters seemed so cold and not really close.

Characters:

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Van Ness Wu as Cai Jia Hao / Justin —  I watched this for Van Ness and I must say that this drama isn’t really for his fans nor for him. I couldn’t say that he is the main character, since the girl is the main lead. I just can’t get over with his ridiculous rooster hairstyle and Jia Hao fashion. Obviously, I haven’t moved on from his role in Autumn’s Concerto.. but his looks are more suitable for rich kids kind of role. Jia Hao is poor and also dresses poorly and when he turned into Justin, he still can’t save himself. Looks aside, I must say that he improved a little with his acting, but it’s weird that I preferred him in AC (or am I just biased?). Sadly, the director and the storyline didn’t bring out the best in him, and I thought that he’s shoved to the side most of the time. Honestly speaking, the role doesn’t suit him at all. For me, Autumn’s Concerto will always be his trademark drama. I think Van Ness really needs to choose his roles carefully. Recently though, he’s been picking up dramas produced in China. With this unappealing role, I’m still debating whether to watch them or not.

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Lynn Hung as Lin Chu Man — I’d say she fits the role well since she’s a model and she’s classy, but her height definitely gives her co-actors a hard time. Honestly, it’s so difficult to warm up with the character. Chu Man is not likable from the beginning since she acts so high and very materialistic. But Lynn does her best in portraying the role; sometimes I get annoyed with her actions and sometimes I pity the character. Her acting is not my favorite though, and I guess her features is not what everyone would like.

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Daniel Chan as Yan Kai Ming — I’m not familiar with him too since he’s an actor from Hong Kong, but the first time that I saw in this drama, I just thought that he looks so handsome with his big bright eyes and somehow Van Ness’s appeal got overshadowed. I think he’s perfect for the role since he looks good in suits and his acting is also good. Although he didn’t appear in all episodes, he’s a great addition to the cast!

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Jessie Chiang as Lu Yi Xian — She’s so pretty! She appeared in a few of Jay Chou’s works so I am familiar with her. Yi Xian is always there for Jia Hao ever since they were still studying, but Jia Hao only sees her as a little sister. She is talented and came from a decent family, so she could actually pursue her dreams, but she gave up and followed Jia Hao. I feel sorry for her since she sacrificed a lot for him, but it just gone down the drain.  Her acting was fine and she has a sweet face. I think she could be lead worthy with more practice. It’s sad that she’s now married and have a child I think, but she’s still picking up some projects which is good news.

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I also love the other supporting characters. Peter, the only supportive friend and manager of Chu Man. If you are familiar with the KO Series, then you’ve probably know him. I’ve seen him in X-Family. I love his portrayal since he’s so open about being gay and he’s such a scene stealer. Danson Tang is also a good addition. I mean, he’s one of my early favorites when I just started watching Taiwanese dramas, and I actually preferred him than Fahrenheit (minus Wu Zun). lol Lin Mei Xiu who portrayed the sister of Jia Hao is still very funny. I’ve seen her in many many dramas, but she’s still funny as ever, but sadly she didn’t get my attention much in this one. And also Harry or Hua Qiu is also my favorite member in Da Zui Ba. So happy to see him as a director and kind of annoying friend of Jia Hao!

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Ending:

Chu Man finally chose Jia Hao despite of all the hardships that KEG has given to them. She doesn’t care if he doesn’t have money, and she won’t choose to be with that old man. It turned out that KEG has been supporting these two from the very start, and KEG wasn’t giving them a hard time, but he was just testing them if they really love each other. KEG even sent Jia Hao to the scholarship in Paris two years ago. Now, this is actually a twist. Although, there were some hints through the drama that a mysterious man with a walking stick is secretly watching over them, but with all the happenings, I kinda forgot about it. The biggest twist would be Yi Xian. Since when was she part of the plan? I think she’s sincere towards her feelings to Jia Hao, but it’s more of “obsession” than love. I didn’t think she would move on so fast from Jia Hao to the other guy. All in all, it was a happy ending as all the problems were solved. Chu Man didn’t exactly let go of her being materialistic, but at least she learned what true love is, and that is not something that can be bought. I think the ending was quite absurd and unrealistic. Obviously, I didn’t want the leads to look like fools. I wished they showed the reality of how the couple will cope with their financial problems through thick and thin. And I don’t think they can since the old man is too powerful. I guess it’s really hard to make a good realistic ending out of this. As for her relationship with her mother, the mother finally disclosed the real reason why she left her in the orphanage and how she didn’t admit that she’s her mother. The mother gave birth to her with hardships and she didn’t want to keep her initially. Since she’s working hard as a “bar girl”, and it was difficult to find a man who’s willing to accept her. I think it was a good closure for the both of them. But honestly, if I were Chu Man, I would never forgive this kind of mother.

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Final Thoughts:

I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly went wrong, but seeing from afar, everything just seemed so nice and artistic, but put all of them together, it’s kind of messy. I mean, I love the cast, the background music, and it was shot beautifully, but I thought that it was so long and draggy. I guess the problem was the development of the story. It makes me sad that even Van Ness couldn’t save the show. It did have a realistic elements and I think the message was clearly conveyed, but it’s not a drama that I would recommend.

Rating: 5/10

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