I am watching this Taiwanese drama for two reasons:
1) I have to watch it eventually for my Chinese class (yep – I’m watching a drama for my Chinese class)
2) It’s Chen Qiao En. Chen Qiao En!
The premise is rather simple – and since it’s a Taiwanese drama, the plot moves along really quickly. Xie Fu An (Chen Qiao En, Fated to Love You) and her younger brother Pi Dan live in Fu Man mountains with their elderly grandmother, who is an expert in traditional Chinese medicines. She has taught her granddaughter Fu An everything there is to know about her trade.
Yan Da Feng’s grandfather is the owner of a popular herbal medicine company called Ba Bao Tang. He is competing with his aunt and her family for control over Ba Bao Tang after Grandfather’s death. This family is money hungry, period.
The Grandfather and Fu An’s Grandmother share a past, however: years ago, when the Grandfather was a young man who looked EXTREMELY like Yan Da Feng, and when the Grandmother was a sweet young country girl who looked EXTREMELY like Xie Fu An, Grandfather got lost in the woods of Fu Man mountain and was saved by Grandmother. She healed him with her magic herbs, and after a few days staying with his savior, he fell in love with her. He had to leave though, and promised her that he would find come back for her.
He never did.
Of course – he had an ulterior motive. Realizing that her potent herbs could bring him a fortune, he stole her recipes for certain medications and left with them. In reality, the secret to Ba Bao Tang’s success lies with Grandmother, and now, Xie Fu An.
(Left: Yan Yang; Right: Yan Yang’s parents and Yan Da Feng’s girlfriend)
Back in the present, the Grandfather wishes to make amends with the Grandmother, but he gets into an accident. He requires surgery, but his family members won’t sign off on it, saying that it would be better for him to die peacefully. That way, they can battle it out in full force for the inheritance. Yan Da Feng’s cousin, Yan Yang, on the other hand does not care much for the inheritance, but he finds the entire charade amusing.
Xie Fu An happens to be in the hospital giving out secretly some herbal medications when she encounters the horrid Yan family. She sneaks into the surgery room and feeds the Grandfather a special herb – the same herb Grandmother fed him years ago – and he recovers! Groggily, all he remembers is that Grandmother saved him.
No one is thankful towards Fu An for saving Grandfather. Fu An doesn’t care too much about the family either – they’re all horrid people.
But tragedy doesn’t escape her for long – poachers in the area lost a rare camphor plant and find out that Fu An had found it. Fu An was going to report it to the police, but the poachers arrive at her house first and in the midst of their escape, start a fire that kills Grandmother. Fu An reaches the house too late, with Da Feng in tow, and is wracked with grief for losing her only parental figure.
Just before that, Da Feng had wanted to purchase that camphor plant to win over the newly recovered Grandfather (and get the inheritance). His secret girlfriend – an upcoming news reporter – helps him by finding those poachers. He uses more “legal” methods by searching out for the famed granddaughter of the famed herbalist. Unfortunately, that means Xie Fu An, and when he asks for her help, she tricks him instead by pushing him into a quicksand. As she laughs, Da Feng tells her that a snake is coiled up her leg, and she jumps and falls into the quicksand with him. They manage to stay stuck there all night, trying not to move. It isn’t until her friend, a local cop, searches for her to tell her about Grandmother that they manage to get free.
Da Feng feels guilty, knowing that he is the source for her present grief. However, his selfishness overrides that guilt. Grandfather however, isn’t impressed with the gift. He says instead that whoever marries his first love’s granddaughter will have the company. So the race is on – who will find Xie Fu An first? (And they don’t know that this granddaughter = Xie Fu An)
Fu An and Pi Dan make their way into the city to search for the Grandfather they heard in Grandmother’s stories. They don’t realize that it’s Da Feng’s Grandfather, but they run into trouble. A roguish debt collector Han Dong Jie gets into some trouble with his rival and Fu An manages to save him from afar. Dong Jie drags her and her brother to safety, and she treats him for his wounds. Because she saved his life, he feels he has a debt to pay back. He is a very honorable debt collector, and his boss wants to give him the business when he dies (rather than give it to his stupid, more violent son). Dong Jie thinks that Fu An might be in love with Da Feng, because she seeks him out for help, and he comically tries to matchmake them. That fails.
Eventually, Da Feng realizes that Fu An is the granddaughter his Grandfather is talking about, and he brings her home (score one for team Da Feng!). He treats her somewhat coldly, but when he realizes that he needs to marry her, he starts acting sincere with her. His girlfriend is all ok with it – as long as he ends up hers (post-divorce) and he gets the money, it’s all good for her.
That’s where it gets gnarly. Now the story is all about: when will Da Feng get together with Fu An? Da Feng is definitely charming to her – he is strict with her when they are in the company, but he is also willing to help her privately. He does believe that she will be useful towards the company, with her new product idea that actually works and is unique, and goes to great lengths to help her succeed. However, at the root of it, his mentality is still: She is my pawn, and I have to marry her to get the fortune.
That’s not going to last long, of course, but his character is so conflicting and confusing that sometimes I think he’s being sincere…when he’s actually not.
Yan Yang, on the other hand, is great fun. He gives Fu An her makeover and styles her, leading to questions about his sexuality. His mom refuses to believe he’s gay; he can’t be or else he won’t marry Fu An and get the inheritance! But Da Feng doesn’t mind mentioning it a few times more to weaken their resolve. He is the only one who is nice to her, and actually quite sane. Yan Yang explains that he is not interested in the money – only in helping people. However, after working in Ba Bao Tang for a bit, he realizes that all the company cares about is money and so he decides not to be involved in it any longer.
The stories move at a quick pace – Fu An and Da Feng have already shared their first kiss (he did it during the quicksand scene to make her shut up and stop teasing him about his fear of bugs). They’ve also shared the bed together (although it’s more of Da Feng tricking her into thinking that she slept with him so as to quicken the process of her falling for him). Dong Jie originally starts off as being aloof towards Fu An, but he’s starting to slowly fall for her and worry about her. He knows that Da Feng is not the nicest guy in the world.
So aside from watching it for class, I still think it’s quite an interesting drama. Da Feng is highly resistant to falling in love with Fu An, and he’s aware of every single action he makes. And, I’d like to see how the past will affect the present, especially when everyone finds out that Ba Bao Tang owes its existence to Fu An’s grandmother, and how Grandfather had actually tricked Grandmother. Fu An is still under the impression that Grandfather just couldn’t come back for them, but is a wonderful guy like the one in the stories. Grandfather is far more evil than that, and I’d like to see a falling out between them. Sounds negative, but it really makes the drama all the more interesting.
I keep hearing that it’s good, so I will keep at it!
photo credits: minivicki & Tiffiany_45 @ asianfanaticsforum