Fated to Love You Review

Fated_To_Love_You-poster

Review.
Fated to Love You is a 24 episode 2008 Taiwanese drama about a shy girl and a confident man whose initial encounter results in pregnancy and a subsequent marriage. Their road to love is not straightforward or easy.


Nutshell Summary: This show was a delight. The 24 episodes can be grouped into 3 phases: Initial Love phase was wonderful; Rediscovery in Shanghai phase was terrific; and the Road to Reunited phase gave viewers a happy ending.


Nutshell Pluses:
1. Lead actors created a compelling couple.
2. Secondary actors mattered the entire story.
3. The love story established in the Initial Love, phase 1, completely hooked me.
4. Rediscovery in Shanghai, phase 2, crackled with suppressed love and tension.
5. Road to Reunited, phase 3, was the payoff for our couple and viewers.

Nutshell Minuses:
1. Campy humor and overacting by secondary characters may not be to all viewers’ taste. I took an indulgent stance and went with it.
2. Road to Reunited phase stretched the story a couple of times.

What I liked about Fated to Love You:
XY* Chen Xin Yi (Joe Chen), female lead, evolved from sweet doormat to a more confident woman that wanted male lead, Cun Xi, to commit. Joe Chen effectively portrayed Xin Yi’s “once bitten, twice shy” mindset. The episode where Xin Yi mistakenly believes Cun Xi wants her to abort their baby was a standout. Joe Chen played the devastating events with raw emotion. The fallout from that episode forced her character to reassess her life. She fled to Shanghai where she evolved into a confident woman. Those episodes were strong for Xin Yi. Episode 17 titled “Lost Control” where Xin Yi finally admits she wants to be Cun Xi’s woman again was powerful. In the Road to Reunited phase Xin Yi was eager to mistrust and doubt Cun Xi which got tiresome.

CX* Ji Cun Xi (Ethan Juan), male lead, was compelling and passionate. Ethan Juan was able to balance his character’s budding love for his wife (Xin Yi) and long standing love for his girlfriend (Anna). You could understand Cun Xi’s emotional tug-of-war between the two women. His uncertainty in the Initial Love phase was believable. When he committed to Xin Yi, he committed. Cun Xu was dynamite in the Rediscovery in Shanghai phase as he pulled Xin Yi to him forcing her to address her suppressed feelings for him. He wanted her happiness and was willing to walk away if needed. His insecurity in the Road to Reunited phase got a bit tiresome causing Xin Yi to pull away from him.
dylan
Dylan (Baron Chen), the second male lead, was a terrific friend to Xin Yi. He supported her personal growth from doormat to confident artist. Amazingly he was a friend to both of them at the end of the series and attended their wedding. I liked who Baron Chen portrayed a no nonsense attitude with both leads. His character was the truthsayer and he delivered his lines with a “straighten up” attitude. I never really bought his pursuit of Xin Yi which was blessedly short.
anna
Anna (Bianca Bai), the second female lead, loved and did not want to let go of Cun Xi. Her abhorrent actions that lead to the miscarriage could have destroyed this character. Instead it fueled a downward spiral and self discovery that lead to a rebirth of this character. Cun Xi understood the insecurity that drove Anna lie about the abortion agreement. He realized that she went against her own conscience when she lied to Xin Yi about the abortion agreement. Excellent resolution of an abhorrent action. Anna mattered to the end.
anson
* Anson (Na Wei Xun) was the faithful right hand man for Cun Xi. This character was a brought humor and truth every episode in this series. Anson got to say the things you were thinking! He took a while to warm up to Xin Yi but once she won his heart he was often the voice of reason as Cun Xi sorted out his feelings. His friendship and professional relationship with Grandma Ji was fun. He knew she was the boss! His romance with Xin Yi’s oldest sister, Qing Xia, showed the writers considered Anson’s romantic life and did not treat him as only a personal assistant.


* Compelling couple. From episode 1, this couple clicked. The first episode established the primary couple. Through a chance meeting (that included making love) kindness was innate in their relationship. At the end of the first episode, Cun Xi watches Xin Yi sleep and you knew they were a special couple. Cun Xi’s evolution as he fell in love with Xin Yi in the Initial phase was wonderful to watch. Xin Yi had fallen hard for him. Watching him be pulled to her was satisfying. The Rediscover in Shanghai phase crackled with sexual and emotional tension. Their bantering began immediately when they met again. When he swept her up in his arms to take her to her apartment, that was swoon worthy. When Cun Xi kissed her passionately in episode 17 and she returned his kisses, that was smoking hot. I appreciated that they both remembered that encounter (Cun Xi was not feeling well). The Road to Reunited phase did have moments where the story line was stretched. It was ironic that the tables had turned on Cun Xi. Now HE was the insecure one. Xin Yi had been the insecure one in the Initial Love phase.

What I did not like about Fated to Love You:
* Campy humor and overacting by secondary characters. This is a matter of personal preference. I went with it and accepted it as an part of the production. The overacting was primarily by the secondary characters and their screen time was limited. There were moments where the story misstepped: nightclub scene in episode 18, dreadful; Stephan Zhao kidnapping in episode 21, goofy. However, both of those moments pushed the story forward, but it was silly stuff. The electricity that flowed (literally) between Anson and Qin Xia, foolish fluff.

Other Thoughts:
* The story is compelling. Right off the bat you feel empathy for both leads. Xin Yi is a nice girl that people take advantage of. This included her date for who dumps her for another woman during the cruise. Cun Xi is a rich guy whose girlfriend leaves him in the lurch on the cruise where he plans to propose. Instantly I liked and empathized with both of them. When Cun Xi rescued Xin Yi from loser date he focused on building her up by telling her to “Press On” (keep going). I loved his positive attitude and support he gave her.


* Emotionally charged Episode 12 “Everything Back to Zero”. When Xin Yi mistakenly believes Cun Xi wants her to abort the baby and to their mutual shock end up losing the baby was the gut wrenching episode of the series. It was the logical end to the Initial Love phase and created the 2 year gap in their relationship as Xin Yi fled to Shanghai with Dylan to mend her broken heart.


* Passion between our leads. The feelings of love and longing were evident throughout the series. Initially Xin Yi fell in love first. Cun Xi was affected but not sure how to deal with his feelings. They shared a couple of kisses. In Shanghai, the passion between them peaked with some stellar kisses as they were drawn together after 2 years apart.
* The second leads matter. Many times seconds leads are merely impediments or bumps in the road to true love. Not so in Fated to Love You.
dylan_xy
1. Dylan was supportive of Xin Yi from the beginning. He offered practical advice. He pushed Cun Xi to see how wonderful Xin Yi was. When given the opportunity to romance Xin Yi in Shanghai, he did not rush her and recognized that she had lingering feelings for Cun Xi. He scored friend of the year when her love choice for Cun Xi did not stop their friendship. He did not need a break from her, she loved another, and he supported her to the end.
anna_cx
2. Anna loved Cun Xi and he loved her. BUT she choose her career over him and paid the price when Xin Yi entered the picture and won Cun Xi’s heart. She KNEW Cun Xi loved another. Out of fear of being alone, she lied to Xin Yi that Cun Xi wanted to abort their child. When Xin Yi miscarriaged due to this lie, I loathed Anna. She paid by a downward spiral. This character rose from the ashes and made a second career for herself as a dance instructor. Sure she was lying to herself that Cun Xi was the right man for her but blind alliance to dance and Cun Xi was all she knew. In the end, she was able to forge a life without Cun Xi’s romantic love but she kept him as a friend.
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3. Dylan and Anna had their own touching story as long lost brother and sister. When they finally reunited in epsiode 21, it was a superb moment for the series. Both Cun Xi and Dylan worked together to restore Anna’s confidence and self-worth. With that complete, Cun Xi told Anna her long-lost brother had been quietly supporting her. Their reunion when she calls to him “Bro, where have you been?!” was top notch.
momoldest_sistermiddle_sisterGJ
* The secondary characters contributed.
1. Xin Yi’s mother was practical and supportive of Xin Yi. She understood Xin Yi’s reluctance to trust Cun Xi. She urged Xin Yi to decide for or against him and end the dithering.
2. Xin Yi’s eldest sister, Qing Xia, offered useful advice and was a friend to Cun Xi too. Her romance with Anson was a fluffy bonus.
3. Xin Yi’s married sister, Feng Jiao, was more campy than anything.
4. Grandma Ji had the worst wig ever. She truly loved Cun Xi and Xin Yi and rooted for them to reunite.
baby_ji baby_ji2
* Special mention to Baby Ji, the cute little white dog.

* The writers, Pan Yiqun, Chen Xin Yi, Du Xinyi, crafted a three phase story:

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Phase 1, Initial Love, Episodes 1 through 12.
 This phase included the fateful first night, marriage, falling in love of Xin Yi and Cun Xi, and the devasting miscarriage. I LOVED this phase of the show.

p2_dance p2_studio kiss2
Phase 2, Rediscovery in Shanghai, Episodes 13 through 17. This phase had Cun Xi travel to Shanghai for business, find Xin Yi again, and start the second phase of their relationship after 2 years apart. I ADORED this phase of the show.

class ep22 wedding2_4
Phase 3, Road to Reunited, Episodes 18 through 24.  This phase started when Xin Yi fled Shanghai returning home after her encounters with Cun Xi that proved she was not over him. The wedding in episode 23 was a treat for the fans. It was not a quick ceremony and the campy elements were minimal. There was a storyline strech in this phase. I ENJOYED this phase of the show.

* The wishing box was used throughout this series to represented Xin Yi’s hopes and dreams. Initially it stored her dreams as a girl. Then her dreams for her married relationship with Cun Xi were added. Finally Cun Xi used the wishes in his proposal to Xin Yi. Nice job by the writers weaving this into the full series.

* The wedding was satisfying and a payoff for the viewers. Was there camp getting Xin Yi to the wedding? Absolutely! ONLY this show could have the bride chasing chicken-suited loved ones passing massive sticky notes signs declaring love from the groom and have it work! Cun Xi looked handsome decked out in a white tuxedo. Xin Yi’s dress and veil were lovely plus her hair and makeup were spot on. All the important characters were at the ceremony. The ceremony had heart and was not over in a blink of an eye. The viewers got to savor the marriage moment.

OST.
Eight primary songs in the 15 track OST:
1. “99 Times I Love Him” by Shorty Yuen
2. “Sticky Note With Wishes” by Quack Wu and Shorty Yuen/Yuan Ruo Lan
3. “Half Love Song” by Shorty Yuen
4. “Get Up and Go” by Quack Wu
5. “My Happiness” by Walkie Talkie
6. “I’m OK” by Shorty Yuen/Yuan Ruo Lan
7. “Blowing Wind” by Gary Chaw
8. “Fold” by Shorty Yuen
9. “Sticky Note With Wishes Kala version”
10. “Half Love Song Kala version”
11. “99 Times I Love Him Kala version”
12. “Get Up and Go Kala version”
13. “Half Love Song-guitar version”
14. “Sticky Note With Wishes-gentle version”
15. “99 Times I Love Him-music box version”
Seven primary songs from the OST in my YouTube Playlist (link or embedded below)


Album Art:
FatedToLoveYouOST
Last pics as we fade to black…
ep1_1 anson_gj xy2aa23wedding2_7wedding2p2_5p2_3kiss4


Fated to Love You
Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | ‎Series

You may also be interested in my article Face-off: Fated to Love You which compares the Korean and Taiwanese series.

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Posted in Fated to Love You (Tdrama), Reviews, Tdrama

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