Curlynoona here. Often, a drama is remade by several different countries. I like to try to watch them all, especially when I’m in a drama slump; it can be a great way to discover new favorite actors. Different countries also tend to explore different angles on the same story. Over the next few weeks, I will be comparing versions of some of my favorite dramas.
One of the most often recreated stories is Hana Yori Dango, or Boys Over Flowers.
Hana Yori Dango (花より男子, lit. “Boys Over Flowers”) is a manga series by Kamio Youko. It revolves around working class Tsukushi Makino and her interactions with her wealthy elite classmates, the flower four, or F4. Originally bullying Makino, F4 leader Tsukasa Domyouji becomes interested in her when she fights back. However, she is already interested in F4 member Rui Hanezawa.
Boys Over Flowers: (Korea, 2009) This adaption was the entry for many into the word of Korean dramas. Lee Min Ho and Gu Hye Sun as Gu Jyun Pyo and Geun Jan Di created one of the most iconic on screen couples, and there is also a background romance that for some was more notable. Jan Di seemed a bit tame and helpless at times for the girl that took on the great F4, but at other times she showed notable spirit. The cinematography was great, the settings were beautiful, and if the clothes and hair were sometimes horrendous, it was at least deliberate.
Hana Yori Dango: (Japan, 2005)
Only nine episodes, this drama has a lot to recommend it. It boasts many popular Japanese actors, including Matsuda Shota and Matsumoto Jun. While it doesn’t have the production value of Boys Over Flowers, it is still a good looking, well shot drama. It is more humorous, and focuses a bit more on the characters’ emotions than other versions. Matsumoto Jun’s Domyouji is the best at mangling proverbs while believing that everyone else is getting them wrong.
Meteor Garden: (Taiwan, 2001)
This was the first live action drama adaption of Hana Yori Dango. It includes characters from the manga that were not shown in later versions. Barbie Hsu‘s portrayal of Shan Cai had the fire that was lacking from Gu Hye Sun’s portrayal of Jan Di. I found this version to be captivating, but rather violent. I started wondering if I should really be supporting the leads getting together, or if I should instead be hoping for Dao Ming Si (Jerry Yan) to quickly get into therapy and Shan Cai to move far away.
Let’s Go Watch Meteor Shower: (China, 2009) loosely inspired by the manga, and the Taiwanese adaptation. In this version, four extremely wealthy college students are deliberately trying to get kicked out of school. They target Chu Yuxun, a poor girl attending their exclusive, primarily upper class college. Hijinks ensue.
Boys Before Friends: (USA, 2013) A hilarious low-budget mess of a production. A nonsensical script, dubious acting, and “club scenes” that have only the main cast plus two or three extras make this watchable in the way that a horrible car accident is watchable. Not to mention the constant revolving door of actors. Was it three Zoeys and two Liams? I don’t think this was even finished.
There is also a film made in 1995 that I don’t recommend, unless you want something to go all Mystery Science Theater 3000 on with your friends. It can be amusing; it has some handsome actors who seemed aware of how bad the script was, and some very bad 90s fashion choices. It is not at all a good introduction to the series, though. That character in the picture with the leather vest over NOTHING? That’s supposed to be Domyouji/Gu Jun Pyo/Dao Ming Si. Yeah, no.
I hope you have enjoyed this or gained some information. Next time, I’ll look at the three versions of the Hong Sister’s You’re Beautiful.