27 May 2015

The Cage of Love Episode 1 and 2

A simple summary: It’s Romeo and Juliet in the Republican era of China: Jiang Yu’s father is killed and Cai Hong’s father is responsible. And of course, these two, Jiang Yu and Cai Hong, are our star crossed lovers.

It’s a good start albeit typical. The drama seems to rely on the star power of the lovely Zhang Shuang and charming Hawick Lau but the storyline is engaging and wonderfully paced. The future angst is all set up but I'm not dreading it. I think I'm actually looking forward to how the hate in their love-hate relationship will develop from here. 

From what I know this drama will air two episodes every single day starting from May 26 and capping at 35 episodes. It will be a recapping nightmare if I do intend to stick to this drama. I don't know yet. 

Set up for the star crossed lovers:

It’s Jiang Wen Yuan’s (Jiang Yu’s father) birthday today but he’s late to his own party at home so Jiang Yu goes searching for his father at his factory. His father is actually held up by a certain deputy and his minions: he’s Wu Hong Da. He arrests Jiang Yu’s father of illegally trading opium (but really opium has nothing to do his business which deals with fabrics and dyes). The workers are dismissed and the factory is emptied out except Jiang Yu’s father and Wu Hong Da. Jiang Yu’s father insists he’s innocent and he is. Turns out everything was Wu Hong Da’s scheme to acquire Jiang Wen Yuan’s secret dye formula. Jiang Wen Yuan tells him to dream on.

When Jiang Yu arrives at the factory, the scene is chaotic as workers are forced to leave. He weaves his way through the barricade and is met with the scene of his father falling out of the window to his demise. And thus his father died on his own birthday. When Jiang Yu looks up, he sees Wu Hong Da’s panicking expression at the window his father fell out of.

Jiang Yu not only loses his father, he also loses his father’s fortune and innocence. On top of that, his extended family kicks them out of the Jiang family and in that process, Jiang Yu injuries his palm. They’re out on the streets now but their neighbours and random onlookers despise them for distributing opium.

The Jiang family’s demise also has its tolls on Mother Zhou and her family. Jiang Wen Yuan was her boss and he had taken special care of her because he knew she had to care for her sickly husband. Without money, she can no longer afford her husband’s medicine. Her son, Shao Tian, decides to take on this responsibility. He goes to beg his rich peers to lend him some money but they have one demand: Shao Tian is to crawl between their legs and act like a dog. Gritting his death, he does it. And rich peers are brats; they don’t give him the money they promised, instead, Shao Tian gets beaten up.

Jiang Yu witnesses the last bit of this scene. With a heart of golden, he gives the limited money he has to Shao Tian. Shao Tian probably uses the injury on the boy’s hand to recognize him in the future.  So our Jiang Yu is portrayed as not only smart but also righteous. Even when he’s poor, he goes out of his way to help others in need. I guess Shao Tian owes the Jiang family quite a bit; he can't go stealing Jiang Yu's girl now. 

Back at Shao Tian’s home, the husband begs his wife (Mother Zhou) to let him die because he feels sorry for the pain and struggle he brought to his family. Mother Zhou is devastated after hearing this but without any money, his death is the only solution and so she follows his wish and ends his suffering. To her dismal, Shao Tian witnesses the last bit of these scene: his mother suffocating his father. The money from his hand drops down onto the ground as silence envelopes the mother and son. Wow. That is hard to swallow. Poor boy.

Things are still terrible for Jiang Yu. He comes back home with food but first has to kick out some rowdy people insulting his family at his door. Then, when he does manage to step into his door, he witnesses his mom committing suicide.

As these two boys life take a devastating turn, the man responsible for their downfall, Wu Hong Da, gets a promotion for his deed at hammering down on illegal drug trades. Both boys cross path as they glare at the evil man, each having their own reason to exact revenge on Wu Dong Ha.

Twelve years later (yes!):

We meet Wu Cai Hong (Zheng Shuang), Wu Hong Da’s daughter. It’s her father’s birthday soon and she needs to buy him a present. After overhearing the greatness of this particular pen, she proceeds to snatch it right out of another man’s hands. Like father like daughter. This man is Jiang Yu (Hawick Lau). Wu Cai Hong is willing to use twice the price to buy it. Hearing this, Jiang Yu hands over the money to the clerk. Pleasantly surprised, she expresses her gratitude that he’s willing to gift such an impressive (i.e. expensive) present instead of making her pay twice the price; she even offers him dinner and asks for his name. Actually, she’s a little delusional because the dude just bought himself the pen and snatches it right back from her hands. Our princess isn’t used to this sort of rude treatment and chases after him demanding for his name. Because everyone has to know the name of those who are rude to us. His response is snide, asking her how much money she will use to buy her name.

They exchange insults; one is impolite and the other is arrogant. She vows she will find out his name without a single penny. He doesn’t believe it. She makes it a deal: if she does complete this impossible feat, he’ll owe her a certain special pen. His response is along the lines of this: Yeah, just find me first.

She chases after him again, not wanting to lose him (and his pen), but falls instead. She thinks the man returned to help her and calls him a ‘Smelly Rock’ because she has yet to know his name but its Shao Tian (Li Dong Xue) instead. Shao Tian works for her father and suggests to buy the pen for her. She’s thankful but also quick to reject his kindness. It’s too expensive for him to buy apparently.

So how does Jiang Yu afford the pen? He’s now the big boss of Yao Sheng, another fabric business. Well that was easy. Fei Fei (Zhang Zhi Xi) , his sister, also works in the factory and updates him on their business. The mood suddenly darkens as Jiang Yu reveals his plan: he’s going to lower their prices to completely wipe out their competition, Ling Long, which belongs to Wu Hong Da.  

Wu Hong Da doesn’t know of the upcoming troubles as he’s happily setting up his daughter’s wedding. He approves of Shao Tian as his future son-in-law. Despite Shao Tian coming from a poor background, Wu Hong Da actually appreciates that more since that way he’ll cherish his life more. So rare to see this in fatherhood of dramaland but such a terrible choice this is. Shao Tian has no plans of being filial towards Wu Hong Da. He’s here to carry out his revenge against Wu Hong Da for what he has done to his family.

That night Shao Tian has dinner with Wu Hong Da’s family but that’s only the pretense, the father wants Shao Tian to propose to Cai Hong tonight. Although, Cai Hong may not dislike Shao Tian but she definitely has no plans of marriage. She just simply wants to stay by her dad’s side for a few more years. Or she might just be playing hard to get because when she gets teased more about her marriage prospects with Shao Tian she runs out shyly.  

When Shao Tian finds Cai Hong he manages to scare away the cat but he claims that the cat knew he was the lightbulb and so left on his own. Diving right into the topic, he asks Cia Hong what he means to her. Cai Hong replies him sincerely: “You’re like an older brother.” However, the dad and her sister ruin their moment (if there was any) and their conversation takes a premature stop. The dad encourages Shao Tian that next time, he’ll definitely succeed in winning over his daughter.

After dinner, Shao Tian returns home and his mother is religiously giving her prayers. Shao Tian gives no respect to her mother because he's still holding a grudge towards his mother for killing his father. Poor mom. She had to kill dad per his wish and now carries the hate of his son and her own guilt for the rest of her life.

On the other hand, Jiang Yu’s mom (who’s still alive!) disappears in the hospital. While Jiang Yu is busily searching for his mother, someone else is also in the hospital searching, it’s Cai Hong. Back at the pen store, she was so confident on finding Jiang Yu because she caught a glimpse at the napkin he was using which had the hospitals logo on it. And so here she is, determined to know her ‘Smelly Rock’s’ name.

Fate has it that she finds Jiang Yu’s mom first. When Cai Hong shows her a (terrible!) picture of Jiang Yu, Mom instantly recognizes her own son.  Curious, Mom asks her whether he thinks the man in the picture is handsome. While she doesn’t care she just wants to know his name, she settles on using flattery. She uses the most elaborate way to describe his handsome features and luckily, Jiang Yu hears everything.

He’s befuddled with the compliments. Mom sees her son in the back but ignores him and continues to question Cai Hong, “So you like him?” Cai Hong deflects the question by claiming women can’t be too direct with things like love. She goes for the catch now and asks for his name only to realize that he was right behind her this whole time.

Recovering from her shock and embarrassment, she proudly asks for the pen because she’s found him. He agrees. However, she still doesn’t know his name and thus the pen still belongs to him. As he’s leaving, Cai Hong yells back at him: You! I will know your darn name!

♦ ♦ ♦   Episode 2   ♦ ♦ ♦

Wu Hong Da discovers that his business is facing threats from Yao Sheng (Jiang Yu’s business) and orders his henchman (don’t know his name) to gather up some money. However, what Wu Hong Da doesn’t know is that most of his money is already stolen by his henchman and the mastermind behind it is Shao Tian. The two were planning to ditch Wu Hong Da after they stole the money but Wu Hong Da has another plan up his sleeves.

In the hospital, when Jiang Yu safely escorts his mother back to her room, she attempts to commit suicide again. Mom probably has some sort of depression. Jiang Yu is frantic but can’t convince Mom to put down the scissors. Mom’s mindset seems to be stuck in the past and recalls the tough times her son has to suffer through because of her. Witnessing this entire scene, is Cai Hong. She rushes to snatch the scissors away from her but when that doesn’t work, she slaps Mom. Jiang Yu responds by throwing her away. Lol. I shouldn’t be laughing but it is sorta funny in an awkward way.

Cai Hong isn't thwarted by Jiang Yu’s throw and continues to be brash with Mom. “You think your death can solve all your problems? You’re wrong. Your death will only bring more pain to those around you. They will hate themselves because they couldn’t protect you. They will also hate you because you’re not carrying the responsibility with them but leaving them with the pain. They’ll never forgive you and more importantly they’ll never forgive themselves.” These words resonate with Mom and they’re also the words of Cai Hong’s own pain. Not only that but Shao Tian also overhears her speech and he too seems touched by her words.

Cai Hong continues her tale. “Four years ago, my mother sacrificed herself for me. These past few years I’ve been living in pain. If you want your son to be like me to live in a world of pain and regret, then do it.”  She leaves after her speech and it takes her a while to feel the pain on her hand from her grasping the scissors too tightly. Hm, so she saved his mom and got her palm injured while Jiang Yu's palm got his injured when his father died.

Jiang Yu finds Cai Hong outside and apologizes. She calls him out for the lack of sincerity in his apology. But anyways, they now share a similar past: them and their mother traumas. Cai Hong reveals to Jiang Yu that her mother was also fighting a debilitating disease and ended her life thinking taht would end her daughter’s pain. So many things Cai Hong is revealing to a guy whose name she doesn’t even know. As for Jiang Yu, he’s been taking care of Mom for twelve years now but he’s afraid of mentioning the wrong thing to her because he didn’t know what would trigger her suicidal thoughts. However, by not mentioning it, the unspoken pain grows within Mom and her depression worsened. With Cai Hong’s frank approach back there, Mom seems to be much better and so Jiang Yu sincerely thanks Cai Hong. 

Not the one to miss an opportunity, Cai Hong asks for a reward now (e.g. the pen). However, he calls it a tie because she hit his mom. So basically, no reward for her. She calls him a smelly rock again. He reminds her the deal was for her to find his name in exchange for the pen. He gives her a helpful hint: Don’t ask the doctors or nurses because he reminded them the importance of confidentiality. And they have a stare-down. (:

When Jiang Yu returns to his mother’s room in the hospital he spots a man (Shao Tian) with Cai Hong out his window. He stares at them with a stern face. I’m not sure if Jiang Yu hears their conversation but Shao Tian was actually proposing to Cai Hong. He doesn’t ask for her to reply yet though. He just wants to let her know that he loves her and is willing to wait for her. Does he really?  

Strangely, Cai Hong is more peeved about Jiang Yu not giving her the pen than heartened about Shao Tian’s proposal. At home, she draws pig ears and nose on the Jiang Yu’s wanted picture and it oddly looks quite alright. (Notice when she leaves the household to find Jiang Yu, her cat follows her out.)

Cai Hong brings flowers to visit Mom in hopes of knowing her son’s name. Mom is delighted to see her savior but doesn’t give out his son’s name easily either. She tells Cai Hong to ask her son directly when he comes (which is any minute now) but Cai Hong confesses that he won’t tell her.

When Jiang Yu arrives, however, there is no one else in the room except a suspicious looking Mom. Spotting the flowers, Jiang Yu immediately knows she had a visitor. Mom yells out to her distracted son by loudly calling out his name and asks about something irrelevant. Mom continues to call out his name while talking to him but looks at the opposite direction. Following her mother’s gaze, he finally discovers Cai Hong in the closet. Perplexed, he asks the two women in the room what on earth they’re doing. Cai Hong proudly reveals to him she now knows his name: Jiang Yu. 

He grabs Cai Hong out of the room but not without the flowers and reminds her of their deal: she must not use a single penny to know his name. He accuses her of using the flowers to bribe his mother. Basically he’s not giving her the pen.

Clearly, someone’s displeased at Jiang Yu snaking out of their deal with a lame excuse but Jiang Yu offers another task for her in exchange for the pen: Without a single penny or his mother, find out what is favourite food is. We’re getting a little childish aren’t we? Lol. But I’ll follow. Unfortunately, there really is only one of that special pen in the entire city and if they were to do delivery from another city, it’d take 20 days which by then her father’s birthday would have already passed. Disappointed, Cai Hong settles on another present: hand knit scarf. Screw the pen. 

Back to Wu Hong Da’s househould, Shao Tian isn’t leaving anymore and orders the henchman to use any way possible to return the money. Meanwhile Wu Hong Da gets a visitor: Lu Man. In the guise of lending him money, she just wants a certain secret formula: Jiang Wen Yuan’s secret dye formula. Wu Hong Da insists he doesn’t have it.

Earlier that evening, Jiang Yu had spotted a cat and immediately recognizes its Cai Hong’s cat. Not knowing anything about Cai Hong and where she lives, he adopted the cat for one night. Now, Fei Fei spots his brother playing with the cat and notes that it’s odd for him to be so gentle with little animals. That’s because it ain’t just any animal. He's also quite possessive of the cat when Fei Fei plays with it. 

Relationships gets more complicated in this drama. Fei Fei is in love with her brother. No, it’s not incest because she’s only an adopted child of the Jiang family. My Sunshine, anyone?

It takes Cai Hong a while to realize her cat went missing. Shao Tian helps her with the search. Meanwhile Jiang Yu is waiting patiently at some random place hoping she’ll pop up looking for her cat. And yes, he spots her but he also sees her with that same man from the hospital, wiping her sweat. Our jealous Jiang Yu leaves without returning Cai Hong her cat. However, fate has it that he sees her again. He struggles to make a decision of whether to actually meet her but when he does, he doesn’t regret it at all. He finds out that she's boyfriend-less and thus is delighted to reveal her cats whereabouts.  

Suspicious of his kindness, Cai Hong asks: Do I need to find your favourite food or your house now?
Amused, Jiang Yu simply tells her: What I wanted to say was I don’t have time today but I can meet with you tomorrow.

And so they arrange to meet the next day. He threatens her if she snakes out on him, he’ll throw her cat in the pond to feed the fish. The logic. And she falls for it; she’s clearly worried her cat will be fish food.  

It’s finally Cai Hong’s dad’s birthday. That morning, he receives a beautiful family portrait from his younger daughter and a hand knitted scarf from Cai Hong. Dad is truly loved by his family. But happy things don’t last long especially on birthdays. Later that evening, he’s late in returning home for his party and so Cai Hong goes hunting for his father.

At his office, the father gets an unexpected guest: Jiang Yu. He introduces himself as Jiang Wen Yuan’s son. All the memories from twelve years ago flood in reminding Wu Hong Da of his guilt. That day twelve years ago, the tension between the two men escalated into a fight. Jiang Wen Yu took a misstep and accidentally falls out of the window. Although Jiang Wen Yuan’s death isn’t directly caused by Wu Hong Da, he admits to committing a terrible crime against Jiang Yu’s family. He’s willing to take responsibility but begs Jiang Yu to not hurt his family. But an apology isn’t enough to wipe all the pain he experienced from these past twelve years. Jiang Yu wants everything back and inflict pain on his family just like he did to theirs.

Similar to twelve years ago, but this time it’s Cai Hong’s turn. She comes running to see her dad but is met with the scene of her dad's death in the same fashion. 

♦ ♦ ♦ Comments ♦ ♦ ♦

I think this is a great start. Not too heavy; not too light. The past was dealt with swiftness and drills the plot line in setting up our soon to be star crossed lovers. I like the two leads are starting off amicably (well at least from Jiang Yu’s perspective) because that makes hating each other hard later on.

In terms of uniqueness, it’s the same overdone plot, it’s just whether the cast can muster up chemistry with one another and whether the plot can deliver in each episode. 

So far, I'm liking it.

The Cage of Love Episode 3 and 4

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