Dragon Gate: Eps 1-2
Ok I’m trying REALLY hard not to get my hopes up for Dragon Gate based only on the first two episodes…because lately I have the tendency to get overly excited about a new Taiwanese drama (*cough* for example: Aiya Aiya I Do, Happy 300 Days) only to end up dropping it later on. But I can’t help it, after watching episode 2 of Dragon Gate I’m hooked for sure.
Part of why I love Dragon Gate so much might be because of my girl crush on Tammy Chen. (Chen Yi Rong) But it’s also because I absolutely adore her character of Jin Xiang Yu!! Somehow she always plays characters who love money (ex. Ai Xing in Love Forward, Ai Ya in Aiya Aiya I Do) but Xiang Yu beats them all. OMG. Jin Xiang Yu is a LADY BOSS of the underworld who is in charge of the “Dragon Gate”.
It is kinda confusing about just what the “Dragon Gate” really is, but here is what I got the gist of: The facade for Dragon Gate is called the Dragon Gate Mall. It seems like a normal shopping mall but it is actually a front for a hidden place called the Dragon Gate Castle/the Dragon Gate. The Dragon Gate Castle is like a safe haven for Xiang Yu’s gang as well as previously homeless people. (this will be explained later..but Xiang Yu takes in orphans and people who lost their homes to a giant fire..the fire is connected to Sunny Wang’s character Huai An)
Anyways back to Xiang Yu!! I love how all of her minions literally call her “lao ban niang” aka LADY BOSS. It’s kinda hard to describe her character because she is just that complex. Xiang Yu is the kind of character that can get under everyone’s skin. She gets called a slut multiple times but she also has great dignity. Her catchphrase is “Are you scared I’ll eat you?” and she regularly says that she plays around just for fun. Truth is Xiang Yu is super sharp–she has a photographic memory and knows everything about everyone in the Dragon Gate. She is bold, at times a bit immature, but she also has a good heart. There are also hints that Xiang Yu’s carefree attitude is actually all a facade because she’s not free to fall in love and she is controlled by one of the higher ups in the Dragon Gate. Tammy totally nailed it as Xiang Yu and she’s already my favorite character!
Our other heroine is Qiu Mo Yu, played by Alice Ke. Mo Yu is an agent/body guard who protects the prime minister’s daughter, Ai Xin. Well crap goes down and it turns out that the prime minister gets kidnapped, Mo Yu’s dad is suspected of targeting the prime minister, Mo Yu is also framed and is being tracked down by bounty hunters, annnnnd Ai Xin is almost kidnapped twice. Mo Yu ends up running away with Ai Xin and the two of them go to the Dragon Gate in search of some answers. They end up trapped in the Dragon Gate and, unbeknownst to them, it is actually better that they are there because Xiang Yu can protect them from the bounty hunters/government.
So this is the first new drama with Alice Ke I’ve seen since her break-through role in Office Girls. I don’t think Alice is quite comfortable in her role as Mo Yu yet. Granted, I feel like Alice has less to work with with her character of Mo Yu than Tammy does with her character of Xiang Yu. Xiang Yu’s character has all the great lines and she has a great infectious personality. On the other hand Mo Yu hasn’t really had her chance to shine and she is even a damsel in distress waiting for Huai An (Sunny Wang) to come and get her at the Dragon Gate. Ok maybe Mo Yu isn’t quite a damsel in distress because she’s very resourceful but you get the idea. These two heroines should compliment each other very well–Mo Yu being serious and responsible, and Xiang Yu being ‘lawless’ and playful–but instead it feels like Tammy is overshadowing Alice.
One thing that’s funny about Mo Yu’s character is that she’s supposed to be this super genius who was one of the smartest ones at the police academy…and she uses the RULES OF PHYSICS in all her action scenes. For instance, she sees this ramp and quickly calculates in her head that it’s at a 45 degree angle and that therefore, she can drive her car up the ramp and it will fly in a perfect parabola! AHAHA.
Ok I don’t know if it’s because I always root for the underdogs or what but…I LOVEEEE Melvin Sia!!! He is pretty much absent from episode 1, but come episode 2 he has tons of scenes with Tammy. *swoons* HEHEHE. Melvin plays the role of Xiao Dao, an ex-police officer who is now one of Xiang Yu’s minions. It seems that he used to have an unrequited love for Mo Yu (he went to the police academy with her) but now he has a flame for Xiang Yu.
I really love Xiao Dao and Xiang Yu’s ambiguous relationship–Xiao Dao is really protective over Xiang Yu while Xiang Yu doesn’t really take him seriously. The two of them are surprisingly very touchy feely–Xiao Dao sweeping Xiang Yu off her feet, Xiang Yu planting a kiss on Xiao Dao–but Xiang Yu also makes it very clear that there is a line between boss & subordinate. One of my favorite scenes is when Xiao Dao tries to sweet talk Xiang Yu by telling her he’ll give her his heart, he’ll give her everything, and then she just goes “pfft you’re already mine!” AHAHA.
Lastly we have Zhou Huai An (Sunny Wang), a military man who goes to the Dragon Gate to rescue Mo Yu who is also his fiancee. Honestly I wasn’t really expecting much from Huai An because I still don’t think Sunny has what it takes to be the male lead yet. His acting is average and his action scenes fall flat–Huai An is supposed to be super quick and strong but I feel like Sunny doesn’t exude the aura of a military man.
Anyways I can already see the love square forming because Xiang Yu is determined to win over Huai An to keep him at the Dragon Gate. And of course Huai An will have to earn Xiang Yu’s trust in order to get to Mo Yu. This will inevitably lead to some misunderstandings between Huai An and Mo Yu since Xiang Yu will get in between the two of them.
If you’re expecting Dragon Gate to be the next Black & White, don’t. It’s totally different from Black & White although it is also an action drama. B&W had a much darker tone whereas Dragon Gate has a lighter tone. Although Dragon Gate is not the next Black & White, I think it’s refreshing to see an action tw-drama especially considering how the tw-drama scene is overflowing with tons of half-baked rom-coms. It’s time they do something different, eh? I also think it’s really cool how they adapted the original wu xia Dragon Gate Inn into modern times.
Overall, Episode 2 is way more fun than episode 1, probably because we get to see more of Xiang Yu, Xiao Dao, and Huai An. Xiang Yu’s character is such a riot and so much fun to watch! I kept on laughing throughout episode 2 because of all of the funny things she does and says. Unfortunately I cannot find this drama in HD (my screencaps are all from the previews) so I ended up watching the drama in low-quality. T______T The low-quality version really doesn’t do justice to how it looks in HD and the audio is also pretty sucky in some parts. But I can deal with it. 😛 *Edit* I just found out that the HD versions are slowly but surely making their way out. OMG this is nothing short of a miracle. I can’t even remember ever seeing HD versions of a tw-drama being posted.
One thing I don’t understand is why in the world is Melvin not included as the main cast? It’s not even clear if he’s a second lead or if he’s also a male lead along with Sunny. One glaring hint though, is that HE’S NOT EVEN IN THE PROMO POSTER. WHY!?!?! And also he’s absent from most of the press conferences. :'(
Preview with the love square:
Where to watch: Dragon Gate is subbed on Viki.