When I was watching Rich Man, Poor Woman, another dorama came to mind that actually could use the same name. That would be the execrable Tsuki no Koibito (Moon Lovers) starring Kimura Takyua as the rich man and Taiwanese supermodel/wannabe actress Lin Chi Ling as the poor woman. KimuTaku has a new dorama coming out next month called Priceless, and with two consecutive flops under his belt now, if Priceless doesn’t break 20 in rating then its clear the heyday of the Crown Prince of J-ent might really be over. If that happens, I would lay the moment of his downward trajectory at the door of TnK. I actually like older and more weathered KimuTaku, and the poor ratings and reception for TnK and Nankyoku Tairiku is truly the result of terrible screenplays above all else. TnK was one of those dramas that was SO BAD I actually watched it all for trainwreck purposes. It’s run was cut short, which is unprecedented embarrassment for a KimuTaku drama, and the final outcome was rewritten on the fly and made no narrative sense but at least salvaged a tiny bit of the horror that was unfolding onscreen. This dorama was panned all across Asia, even in Chinese-speaking countries where the netizens were by and large embarrassed to send Lin Chi Ling out to represent. In the end, this dorama was hilarity all around, but for all the wrong reasons.
In TnK, KimuTaku plays Ren, rich arrogant furniture designer and Japanese conglomerate president looking to enter the Chinese furniture market. He goes to China to build a factory there, and the good hardworking Chinese factory workers unite and protest his big bad ways. In the midst is poor worker bee Lin Chi Ling playing Liu Xiu Mei, wearing a jumpsuit worker’s uniform during the day that secretly conceals her glorious beauty underneath. Ren ends up using her as to walk the runway in some launch show to demonstrate how his company will respect its Chinese workforce, or some shit like that. Xiu Mei also enjoys touching stagnant dirty puddles of water because its magical, or some shit like that. Ren is reluctantly and powerfully attracted to Xiu Mei, and what ensues is some male/female, boss/employee, Japanese/Chinese power struggle before they succumb to their
lust love for each other. And she somehow makes him want to be a better person (headdesk). Along for this batshit insane ride is Shinohara Ryoko, roped in to add some legitimacy and acting chops, Matsuda Shota glowering while plotting to overthrow his overlord Ren, and poor confused and pointless Kitagawa Keiko as a supermodel with a crush on Ren. This crap needs to be seen to be believed, and I have just the perfect MV to while away the time laughing and pointing at the screen.
Seeing how wonderful RMPW was, its easy to ask Japan to make more renzoku renai doramas. But then TnK shows us that when Japan tries to tap the formula, even armed with superstars it could fail to such a dizzying degree. Lin Chi Ling’s character was so appallingly written, and coupled with her truly shiteous acting, the powers-that-be finally had no choice and wrote her off in the middle of the dorama. Sadly she didn’t die some factory accident death (which would have been EPIC), but was instead shipped back to China so suddenly and abruptly it gave everyone whiplash. Then the final few episodes were spent trying to shove Ren and his previously platonic female BFF played by Shinohara Ryoko together. Which went as well as expected. The final scene where they got married and drove off in a convertible, both looked like they were headed to the executioners. Ah, good times, good times. Check out the video below, where clumsy poor worker Xiu Mei could magically transform into a supermodel (with a runway walk seen on Paris catwalks) simply by changing into a couture dress. She also has a guy BFF who happens to be a worker by day and transvestite by night, played by the hapless Abe Tsuyoshi. And apparently Ren, who has his pick of the hot chicks back in Japan, can’t take his eyes (or hands or lips) off poor but plucky Xiu Mei. Sometimes I wonder who came up with this story? Someone with a really developed sense of the absurd?
Tsuki no Koibito MV: