This drama tells the life of Shan Cai, an ordinary girl who attends Ying De University, a campus for wealthy people because her parents want her to marry a prosperous man. She is always made fun of because of her family's status but never shows any sign of fear. However, her seemingly invisible existence at Ying De starts to tremble after she defends her friend against F4, the four most wealthy and powerful boys at the school consists of Dao Ming Shi, Hua Zhe Lei, Xi Men and Mei Zuo. Being the object of F4's infamous red tag, Shan Cai's university life now turns into a living hell. Nevertheless, she still doesn't show any kind of fear outside and bravely declares war on F4 leader, Dao Ming Shi. The aforementioned young man slowly grows attracted at the fearless girl. Unfortunately, Shan Cai's heart seems to have been captured by Hua Zhe Lei, the calmest and most serious member of F4. Chaos, tears and smiles ensue as she goes through the seemingly endless obstacles along her way.
[Schedule: There are different cuts available including a 27 episodes cut]
Does the good outweigh the bad? Probably not, but it will still suck you in if you let it.
The bad: The lighting is often atrocious, being frequently too dark to see the action. The production crew was in need of a few good reflectors because they rarely have enough fill lighting. Of course, when it's not too dark, the mood lighting is glaringly bright. Along with lousy lighting, the sound is often muddled by ambient noise. Traffic, off-screen talking, jackhammers, random noises, this show has it all. Also, anytime music is used to heighten a scene and create suspense, it is unerringly cut off by the upbeat theme song, effectively ruining the moment. Finally, the acting in the first 1/3 (1/2?) of the series is stiff and awkward, especially by the members of F4. Why does Meizuo have to flip his hair in every, single scene he is in? Also, some of the cast disappeared in storylines that seemed to have no endings. The bratty schoolgirls who made Shancai's life miserable only made it halfway through the show. And, how did everyone graduate? They basically stopped going to college to focus on their family problems.
Regardless of its flaws (and there are plenty), it's a classic romcom. Even though watching it is sometimes painful, there are many tender and funny moments to carry the watcher from one episode to the next without too many flashbacks to spoil the flow. As with all of the HYD incarnations, it's great to watch Shancai struggle against the odds as a "tough weed" that can't be kept down and to see how Si grows from a petulant brat into a responsible man. The conflict and tension between the two characters is great in every version, and this one is no exception. The supporting characters were either really fun (F4, Si's sister, Xiaoyou) or really annoying (everyone else), but Si's mother stood out as a particularly heinous villainess in the extent she goes to control her son's future.
This was the first live-action drama of the manga series 'Hana Yori Dango' and my third Taiwanese drama. The story revolves around a poor student, Shancai (played by Barbie Hsu), who meets and eventually falls in love with a super rich heir Daoming Si (played by Jerry Yan). It's your typical love story--at first the two hate each other but eventually begin to develop feelings for one another. The story dragged on quite a bit and the series really could've (and should have) ended in 10 to 15 episodes. However, the cast is great and has a lot of chemistry. Other than Jerry Yan, the rest of F4 is played by Vic Zhou, Ken Zhu, and Vaness Wu and they really brought the group to life. Their acting was decent and it almost seemed like they really had been friends their entire lives. Barbie Hsu played a terrific version of Makino. The ending was really basic though and did not wrap up the story at all.
Overall, pretty good drama! If you're a fan of Hana Yori Dango and even the k-drama Boys Over Flowers, I would definitely recommend this.