- Episodes: 21
- Genre: Romance, comedy
- Broadcast network: CTS
- Broadcast year: 2003
- Theme Song: Jue Ding Ai Ni (決定愛你) Decided to love you by Vivian Hsu
Dramaworld rating: 3/5
One day as a child, Jia Le watches her aunt’s lover jump in front of a train of wedding cars to keep her aunt from marrying someone she doesn’t love. Unable to forget that day, Jia Le decides to find her own hero as she grows up, one who is willing to risk his life for her just as her aunt’s lover did. One day, she meets him(Vic Zhou as Lu Ying Feng). But will he love her back? Even after she starts working for the company he’s a manager at in order to get to know him better, he rejects her as a rich, spoiled “Barbie doll”. Meanwhile, Wan Bao Long, a childhood friend of Jia Le’s who has always loved her, has come back into her life. Will Jia Le’s love ever win her “hero” over? And if it does, what other obstacles will they face? And is he truly her hero? Beginning as a fluffly, Bridget-Jones-like romantic comedy, Love Storm develops into into a darker, more serious drama, including themes such as fraud, the mafia, sacrifice and loyalty.
I must admit that, overall, this drama rather baffled me. Oh, I loved it, overall, and certainly enjoyed most of it – but I’ve never seen such an odd mix of elements and themes. For the first 9 episodes – the one-third or so – this drama is essentially a Taiwanese version of the Bridget Jones/Legally-blonde type chick flicks. It’s mostly bubbly, fluffy, light romantic comedy(with a few added grains of sensitivity and angst, as this is an Asian drama), and I’ve never seen so much pink in my entire life(and yes, that includes Legally Blonde). Then, about halfway through, it takes a giant and almost entirely un-foreshadowed sidestep into serious territory, including the mafia, violence and themes of loyalty, betrayal and sacrifice. All the characters do a great deal of growing up at this point – indeed one of the most amazing things about this drama is how very much(and how realistically the process was portrayed) the heroine, Jia Le, grows up during the course of it – from a spoiled, empty-headed, Barbie-like only daughter of wealthy parents(NB: Vivian Hsu is gorgeous and why on earth they insisted on dressing her like a doll, complete with bangs and hair clips, for nine-tenths of the drama I have no idea), she becomes a mature, assertive, self-sacrificial woman with her own career and a courage that sets an example to all around her. The Jia Le during the first part of this drama is sweet and likable(fortunately, I’ve had enough of stories of rich bitches who change) but spoiled and thoughtless. The Jia Le at the end is also sweet, but mature, and much much more likable. Vivian Hsu plays her very well, really inhabiting her character’s at times limited part. With a cast of very likable and endearing supporting characters, including Wan Bao Long as Jia Le’s childhood friend and Jin Yan Ling, Xiu Qin and Zhang Yu Chen as her trio of loyal girlfriends, Love Storm often succeeds at being very funny and very endearing as it follows the trials, travails, and interactions of these young people with their oh-so-serious problems. At it’s best, Love Storm does not take itself seriously, while at the same time having some really incredible things to say about the nature of friendship(a much-underused theme in all of cinema). The darker, second half is both more and less succesful. More, in that there’s less pink and it deals with deeper themes, achieving greater emotional and plot complexity, and less, in that the sudden switch and the way the rest of it is handled is somewhat uneven. Dramas tend to be very clear-cut in terms of overall focus/genre. Either they’re a tragedy(involving death at the end) or they’re a comedy(e.g. Full House) or they’re a romance, which will involve some tragedy but little or no real violence or psychological darkness(Goong). Love Storm tries to combine two very different cinematic genres – the fluffy romantic comedy with the gangster film – and its success, as a result, is rather uneven. After so many episodes of light, faintly tongue-in-cheek fluff, I was not only rather bewildered, but in some ways just couldn’t buy, the switch to dark-gangster mode. It was also, as dramas tend to be, a little overly melodramatic.
Overall, however, both themes – the comedy and the tragedy – were well-handled and compelling – it was only the combination, the juxtaposition which was unfortunate. Love Storm contains many amazing scenes however – Wan Bao Long singing to Jia Le(lyrics to the song “Inside my Guitar”), the scene in which Ling Feng is talking to the boy about pushing people away and we realize he’s talking about himself, the girlfriends calling and supporting Jia Le beneath her window…last but not least, much of Love Storm’s amazingness is in the details – there’s a thread of surprising metaphoric poetry that runs through it – the way that it portrays the themes of Ling Feng’s loneliness, status as an orphan, and connection to the sea is really quite brilliant in its own way, and wholly magical. For the first half, Love Storm was such an adorable mix of fluff, chick flick and genuine heart that all I could do wass laugh out loud and consent to loving it, and for the second half, all I could do was be drawn in, and consent to keep loving it overall.