10 hot Asian dramas

Nobunaga Concerto. -- PHOTO: FUJI TV
Nobunaga Concerto. -- PHOTO: FUJI TV
Red Sorghum. -- PHOTO: SINGTEL TV
Hyde Jekyll, Me. -- PHOTO: ONE
Once Upon A Song. -- PHOTO: CHK
Lady Sour. -- PHOTO: TVB
Come On, Cousin. -- PHOTO: TVB
You Light Up My Star. -- PHOTO: STARHUB
All About My Siblings. -- PHOTO: FUJI TV
Pinocchio. -- PHOTO: ONE
Punch. -- PHOTO: ONE



Where: One (Singtel TV channels 513 and 604, and StarHub TV channels 124, 820 and 823)

When: Monday and Tuesday at 8.55pm

Who: Kim Rae Won and Kim Ah Jung

What: Unethical and ambitious prosecutor

Park Jung Hwan (Kim Rae Won) gets a rude awakening when he is diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour and mere months to live. Park decides to right his wrongs and joins forces with his ex-wife and prosecutor Shin Ha Kyung (Kim Ah Jung) to expose the corrupt public prosecutor general.

Buzz-o-meter: ****

Another K-drama with a terminally ill lead. Groan. But do not tune out yet - this 19-episode legal thriller is no mopey soap opera and is jam-packed with action from the get go, opening with a school bus crash that leads to the unravelling of the dirty politicking in the legal world.

The series marks the TV comeback of seasoned actors Kim Rae Won and Kim Ah Jung, who were both last seen on the small screen in 2011 dramas, A Thousand Days' Promise and Sign, respectively. (See review on Page C9.)


Where: One (Singtel TV channels 513 and 604, and StarHub TV channels 124, 820 and 823)

When: Wednesday and Thursday at 8.55pm

Who: Lee Jong Suk and Park Shin Hye

What: Choi In Ha's (Park) journalistic ambitions are constantly thwarted by her Pinocchio syndrome, a fictitious condition where one is unable to lie without hiccupping. She eventually lands an internship at a TV station, where her estranged mother is a prominent broadcaster. Her adoptive uncle Choi Dal Pol (Lee) works in a rival newsroom.

Buzz-o-meter: *** 1/2

Newsroom drama Pinocchio is packed with star power from the strong cast to its production team. The series is helmed by the screenwriter and director behind the hit drama I Hear Your Voice (2013), in which leading man Lee played a man with a mind-reading ability. The 20-episode Pinocchio ended with a bang in South Korea last month at the top of its timeslot with 13.3 per cent.


Where: VV Drama (StarHub TV channel 855)

When: Friday at 10.30pm

Who: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Nagayama Eita, Hikari Mitsushima, Tasuku Emoto and Shuhei Nomura

What: This is a modern remake of the classic drama, The Siblings (1966), to commemorate Fuji TV's 55th anniversary. The melodrama revolves around the lives of five orphaned siblings of the Sato family.

Buzz-o-meter: *** 1/2

This is no sugar-coated, dreamy fairy tale. There is no heroic prince charming, just the relatable everyday Joe with everyday issues.

If you have a naggy father figure at home or annoying brothers, you will identify with the Sato family. There is the preachy surrogate father-cum-eldest brother Asahi (Tsumabuki), who goes on like a broken record about his sacrifices to raise his siblings.

The five siblings bicker over dinner and the brothers wrestle one another WWE-style. It is refreshing to watch real life on TV.


Where: E City (StarHub TV channels 111 and 825)

When: Monday to Thursday at 10pm

Who: Joe Cheng and Janine Chang

What: On-screen golden couple Liu Cheng Wei (Cheng) and Zhang Man Ling (Chang) are also a couple in real life. Cheng Wei gets disillusioned with the make-believe world of show business and this casts doubts on his romance with Man Ling.

Buzz-o-meter: ** 1/2

Taiwanese director Chu Yu-ning struck gold with romance drama In Time With You (2011) that won seven Golden Bell Awards, including Best Television Series.

Three years on, expectations are high with his comeback drama, You Light Up My Star, with an A-list cast of Cheng and Chang.

Sadly, the show business-centric drama aired to lacklustre ratings in Taiwan last year. In a lengthy Facebook post, director Chu said he had more scenes to show and offered to do extra episodes for free. His request was denied by the TV station, leading him to speculate it was due to poor ratings.


Where: VV Drama (StarHub TV channel 855)

When: Weeknight at 8pm

Who: Roger Kwok and Wong Cho Lam

What: This series is the indirect sequel to the highly rated drama Inbound Troubles (2013). The original cast returns with a brand new storyline. Rich brat Yau Tin (Wong) is forced to take over his dad's grocery shop, and ends up butting heads with his righteous and environmentally conscious employee Lam Joi Yeh (Kwok).

Buzz-o-meter: ** 1/2

The drama is fronted by TVB's actor of the moment Wong with his trademark Ha Ha face and funny antics. Wong is also a regular cast on the China version of popular South Korean variety show Running Man.

Inbound Troubles struck a chord in audiences with the hot button topic of cultural differences between mainlanders and Hong Kongers. The sequel has earned respectable ratings in Hong Kong, but has failed to live up to the hype of the original drama.



Where: VV Drama (StarHub TV channel 855)

When: Premieres next Wednesday at 9pm. Airs on weekday at 9pm

Who: Myolie Wu, Ron Ng and Him Law

What: Cho Tsing (Wu) gets help from enemy-turned-buddy Kai Chun (Ng) to marry the handsome heir of a vinegar brewery Tsin Tung (Law). Marriage does not guarantee her man's undevoted love. Cho Tsing ends up getting insanely jealous over her husband's concubine.

Buzz-o-meter: ***

Wu returns to her romcom heyday of Wars Of In-laws (2005). She is over-the-top, adorable and cheesy as a green-eyed wife.

The series has drawn flak from netizens for lacking the hilarity of Wars Of In-laws and Wu's standard expression. But it does have its laughter-inducing moments. In one scene, Cho Tsing, a beautician, pulls out a shopping channel sales move to sell a skincare cream - by covering half her face and revealing the other half to show the before and after effects.


Where: cHK On Demand (Singtel TV channel 511)

When: All episodes will be available on cHK On Demand from Feb 14 to 28. Audiences can watch cHK On Demand for free between Feb 17 and 23

Who: William So and Bernice Liu

What: Rookie singer Simon (So) falls in love with his music video female lead Agnes (Liu), but a scandal drives the couple apart. The pair cross paths years later at a singing and dancing class when dance instructor Agnes invites Simon to be the vocal coach.

Buzz-o-meter: ***

Touted as the first made-in-Hong Kong musical drama series, Liu has called it an Asian version of Glee with a more mature love story.

Dancing would be a piece of cake for Liu, a trained ballerina and tap dancer. She has also starred in a ballroom dance themed TVB drama Steps (2007). We do not know about Liu's vocal ability, but we can count on crooner So's pipes to deliver the Cantopop tunes.


Where: One (Singtel TV channels 513 and 604, and StarHub TV channels 124, 820 and 823)

When: Premieres Feb 25, airs on Wednesday and Thursday at 8.55pm

Who: Hyun Bin and Han Ji Min

What: Amusement park director Gu Seo Jin (Hyun) suffers from multiple personality disorder.

Gu alternates between his cold and nice personalities, akin to the character in the classic novel, Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde. Gu wants to get rid of the park's circus act, riling up the circus master Jang Han Na (Han).

Buzz-o-meter: ***

Rich troubled heir meets a feisty pretty lass in a romantic theme park setting - it is a cliched audience-pleasing plot disguised in a shiny new packaging.

A huge draw lies in the good-looking leads, Hyun and Han, who were last seen in popular romcoms Secret Garden (2010) and Rooftop Prince (2012).


Where: Jia Le Channel (Singtel TV channel 502)

When: Premieres next Tuesday at 10pm. Airs on weekdays

Who: Zhou Xun and Zhu Ya Wen

What: This is the drama adaptation of Nobel-winning author Mo Yan's 1986 novel, Red Sorghum Family. The novel's protagonist Jiu'er (Zhou) is a spunky peasant girl who is forced to marry the leprosy-stricken owner of a winery. She gets romantically entangled with her bridal sedan bearer Yu Zhan'ao (Zhu), who kills her husband. The 19-year-old Jiu'er ends up running the winery

Buzz-o-meter: ****

All eyes are on female lead Zhou, who has much to live up to after Chinese actress Gong Li excelled in the same role in the 1987 movie version.

So far, top actress Zhou has not disappointed, and the drama has earned critical and popular acclaim since it premiered last October. The series has been viewed more than 1.4 billion times on one of China's major streaming site iQiyi.



Where: VV Drama (StarHub TV channel 855)

When: Premieres March 6 at 10.30pm. Airs on Friday at 10.30pm.

Who: Shun Oguri and Kou Shibasaki

What: Based on a manga series, high school student Saburo (Oguri) travels back in time and meets his doppelganger - the legendary warlord Oda Nobunaga. Saburo takes the place of the famed warlord and embarks on a mission to unify Japan.

Buzz-o-meter: *** 1/2

Basing a show on a popular historical manga is a tried-and-tested formula for a drama's success. Top it off with a loveable leading man played by Oguri, who, at 32 years old, is still convincing as the clueless, cowardly student thrown into the deep end.

The period drama received a rating of 8.6 out of 10 on Internet Movie Database site.

Telecast details are subject to change.

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