Drama Review: Romance in the Rain
After reviewing The Last Night of Madame Chin, if you thought that was too much of a tearjerker, this one does present itself with more tears but with a few surprises. So yeah, pretty much "Romance in the Rain" takes the rain theme with all the crying and rainy scenes. Compared to Liu Xue Hua's and Qin Han's version which was in Taipei, the open door China allowed this one to be placed in Shanghai with the addition of the character Du Fei (who has a few comic relief moments but done in a day to day type of comedy than forced humor), this one does present the Republican era of China with some common stereotypes like men who are desperate lovers and women who may undergo psychological suffering for the sake of a man. This is 49 episodes but it spans a very rich story that kept me more hooked than Last Night of Madame Chin with the story of love, compassion and forgiveness set as well as letting go of revenge. For one, Vicki Zhao for me pretty much steals the spotlight in this show not only with her beauty but also with her acting skills. Though I'll admit I prefer her kicking ass than being soft.
So we know the story at the beginning is a general named Lu Zhenhua who was divorced for eight times. In the beginning, he has been divorced seven times and he takes Fu Wenpei for his eighth wife. Fu Wenpei remains passive to the point she ends up in bigamy with Wang Xueqin the ninth wife. Yeah, it's pretty dysfunctional as Lu Zhenhua eventually divorces Fu Wenpei who is ironically still submissive to him. I do find this script with a lot of characters and exploration of flaws. Yup the flaws. I would say that nobody's really normal in here, not even the protagonist Lu Yiping. It's not mentioned whether or not Lu Zhenhua really had children from his previous seven marriages but it seems he didn't. Perhaps he divorced them too fast whenever he got bored. There's also some karma houdini going laser guided karma as everything goes by. Yup as you watch this, you'll realize some people who really deserve it get what they deserve.
The conflict of the Lus within the overextended family is simple. During the night when the unlucky Lu Yiping was going to ask for money, her father whipped her severely which causes trouble. After that, she vows to disinherit herself and she looks for jobs. She becomes a singer at the Grand Shanghai Hall (fortunately this wasn't a brothel) which the mother disapproved at first but later had to approve. At the same time things get complicated when kind-hearted but dimwitted Lu Ruping gets entangled with a love triangle with her half-sister Lu Yiping over Hu Shuhuan. For Shuhuan and Dufei, they are kinda dumb and passionate- which can be enjoyable to watch. Only though my problem was that compared to Qin Han, Leo Ku really can't carry a very strong Hu Shuhuan. Te Yiping/Ruping/Shuhuan love triangle was one of the interesting things in the show considering Yiping hates the other side. Well Yiping hates the other side considering that her stepmother (and father's currently married wife) Wang Xueqin is such as schemer. I mean, Xueqin unlike the other women of Zhenhua you will have to admit that she was only 18 when she married the general who was most likely 40 that time The story of Erhao, Mengping and Erjie begins to weave itself more beautifully from conflict to comfort.
I do find the events pretty much touching as well. So slowly Yiping's heart of ice and thorny personality slowly melts because of Shuhuan. Shuhuan's crazy antics or strong love for Yiping well, I thought that he is almost as crazy if not just as crazy as Yueru in the Last Night of Madame Chin. There's a lot of tears in the process while Dufei who didn't exist in the original novel, was hopelessly in love with Ruping. In the process the love triangle between half-sisters gets engaging considering when Yiping's diary is read by Shuhuan. Boy Shuhuan can be so stupid and he spites the former by getting "engaged" with Ruping. Really what in the world is going on? Also Yiping attempts suicide but is saved by Shuhuan. So Shuhuan's hurts were because he truly loved Yiping but still, Shuhuan can be SUCH AN IDIOT. Personally though I thought Jerry Yan could have carried out Shuhuan's part with much better emotion in a way similar to Qin Han's. In the process, Yiping's life gets complicated when her best friend Fang Yu (played by the late Li Yu who kinda looks like a Chinese version of Filipino actress Lovi Poe) falls for Erhao even if at first, Erhao is a hopeless suitor. Just what in the world did Fang Yu eat that made her accept Erhao? Really unusual if you ask me. It's almost as unusual as Dao Ming Si and Shan Cai ending up together in Meteor Garden!
Should I talk about the antagonist? Well Xueqin's actress really knows how to make you hate the character. Her character is devious and scheming from start to end. So in here, the latest wife becomes the most powerful like in the most current settings since the general was most likely into sequential polygamy. A plot twist that existed in both the original and this remake was this- the fact that Lu Erjie wasn't a Lu at all. He was the son of Xueqin presumably by her lover Wei Guangxiong (whose actor looks like Filipino actor Allan Paule in a way but a chubbier version) which was shown when Yiping discovers that black car and it unveils before the audience before it explodes on Zhenhua's face. This is where it gets satisfying to consider this- the womanizing general Zhenhua gets the taste of his own medicine after his being divorced eight times. At the same time, karma strikes the wicked Xueqin when she gets locked up and forced to starve to death. In this case, it's creepy to think that Zhenhua still has feelings for his eighth ex-wife. So what Zhenhua does is he locks up Xueqin and her son Erjie (who still believes that Zhenhua is his father when he isn't). I find the whole scene brutal even for the bitch to suffer. Compared to most wicked mothers, Xueqin still however has genuine love for her children. Ruping though she is kinda stupid, it is admirable she still cares for her bitchy mother even when Erhao actually condones to their father shooting their mother. Erhao does get annoying- which is why his love for Fangyu was at first objected. Erhao well he was really annoying but I grew to like him and his faithful love for Fangyu and only her even when he was supposed to take a wife and a mistress at the same time.
So everything goes from bad to worse for the moment. One was that Mengping got pregnant and thanks to a quack abortion, she cannot get pregnant again. Later Guangxiong realizes that Xueqin was locked all because of Ruping's dimwitted actions which are accompanied by her love for her mother. So what happens is that Guangxiong actually steals ALL of the family wealth of the Lus. Has Zhenhua ever heard of the banks? He did bit Xueqin started stealing. But this time, it wasn't Xueqin who willed to steal that wealth, it was Guangxiong. Guangxiong is even worse when he takes another man's wife or concubine as a lover. Yup it got complicated when Guangxiong actually followed Xueqin all the way to Shanghai and that resulted in the karmic hit towards Zhenhua. Zhenhua goes crazy yet again. Ruping attempts suicide but unlike the original, she was spared by the writers. Phew... I thought that even if she's that stupid, don't make her any more stupid with suicide okay? Ruping finds her love with Dufei. At the same time, Yiping goes back to the Grand Shanghai to continue singing to support the family. Zhenhua dies protecting his daughter and revealing about his psychological problem and the tragedy he had with Pingping thus all daughters had the name "Ping" attached to them. So pretty much, Zhenhua has a last minute redemption when in fact, I really disliked this guy. He died saving his daughter Yiping.
Moving on, Guangxiong is far worse than Zhenhua. Xueqin gets what she deserves when she is ill-treated. I feel sorry for Erjie especially that he doesn't know who his father is. In fact, it's possible that Guangxiong isn't even his father thinking that Xueqin is a sluttish whore but according to the original novel, Guangxiong is the biological father of Erjie. Guangxiong wants a DNA test but Xueqin refuses, hinting again she may have had another man aside from Guangxiong and Zhenhua that is in this version. There's this "Anna" in China but made me wonder how she got her English name. So much, Guangxiong gand Xueqin both get their karma. In the end, we see Xueqin had some redeemable points- unlike the complete monster that is Guangxiong, she does miss her daughters and son Erhao terribly plus she ran off because she was a bad mother to them. Erjie never acknowledged Guangxiong as his father, no not once while it does seem that Guangxiong is the biological father since the novel names him as such assuming that this remake didn't change that plot. The whole scenario is pretty much satisfying to watch but at the same time, you'll pity the children of Xueqin. Xueqin surrenders in the end after the arrest of Guangxiong who got his karma which she manages to redeem herself in the end. However for Erjie he was later found and was returned to his foster family the Lus. So far Erije still thinks he is blood related to his stepsister Yiping when they are not. The Lu mansion has been converted into an orphanage given its size. Later we hear that the men go into battle.
However as the series finishes its span of four years, Dufei and Ruping got married at the battlefield which is better than Ruping's suicide. In the original, Ruping committed suicide and the novel ended in tragedy. But in here, so yeah we do realize that Shuhuan got injured (but the script has the leg thing wrong). In the end, Yiping and Shuhuan are reunited. If I'm to compare it, the scene is somewhat pale because of Leo Ku's lack of expression while Vicki Zhao is able to act nearly as good as Liu Xue Hua for the finale. Pretty much, after some time of tears, we do get a happier ending. Just made me think, it could have have had the ending where an aged Yiping and Ruping would be presented. That is Ruping visits the grave of her husband Dufei who we may have killed in the 90s or for Shuhuan, died in the year 2000 and Ruping would be 80 years old. Then maybe in that proposed ending of mine, Yiping fondly remembers her younger days with Shuhuan while she may be surrounded by her grandchildren and Ruping's grandchildren. The others near that grave could be Erhao and Fang Yu. But overall, this was a very captivating drama.
My rating? 8/10. Despite the tears, it's a very touching story indeed.