Taiwan’s Version of “Descendants of the Sun” is a Huge Disappointment
Taiwan’s military-themed television drama Always Be With You <最好的選擇>, hailed as Taiwan’s version of the hit K-drama Descendants of the Sun <太陽的後裔>, is a huge disappointment.
The military idol drama stars Allen Chen (陳禕倫) as special force soldier Yu Jing-jie and Phoebe Yuan (袁艾菲) as his love interest, Jia Yun-xi, both relatively unknown stars in Taiwan’s entertainment industry.
Despite the hype surrounding the series and hopes that it’ll live up to the popularity of Descendants of the Sun, viewers immediately voiced their disappointment on the show after the series premiere on September 2.
Most of the complaints were directed at the show’s poor production value and weak cast. Descendants of the Sun’s NT$19 million per episode budget allows them to invest in larger, more realistic set pieces and overseas photography, including an important action sequence that took place in Greece. Always Be With You, on the other hand, had a budget of only NT$15 million for the entire series, and with 16 episodes produced, resources had to be stretched thin.
Instead of taking the film cameras overseas, Always Be With You had to stay in Taiwan due to its budget. The theme of the show went from taking down international terrorists
(in Descendants of the Sun) to taking down Taiwan’s own triads and organized crime gangs. The cheap budget of the show became especially apparent in an airplane hostage scene—it was obvious that the scene was shot in a studio.
The weak cast was also noted. Although Allen Chen, a former model, is convincing in his role as a special soldier, his image isn’t very suitable for an idol drama unlike Song Joong-ki (宋仲基), who played the male lead in Descendants of the Sun. Phoebe Yuan, who plays Song Hye-kyo’s (宋慧喬) counterpart in Always Be With You, is no longer a surgeon but a music teacher. The change in roles could possibly be because of the low budget; Song Hye-kyo’s original role in Descendants of the Sun was a cardiothoracic surgeon practicing in Uruk.
The Taiwanese idol drama also tried to remake some of the more iconic scenes from the original Korean drama, but its small budget made the scenes more cheesy than memorable. One particular scene that both dramas have shared was the female lead’s abduction scene—in Descendants of the Sun, Kang Mo-yeon (Song Hye-kyo) was abducted by an international terrorist ring and had explosives strapped around her body. Always Be With You’s Jia Yun-xi (Phoebe Yuan) was merely threatened by a fork.
Always Be With You airs every Saturdays and Sundays on TVBS.
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.