The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Flash Review: Fall In Love At First Kiss 2019 [TW Movie]

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If you’ve been around the blog for a bit, you’d likely know that I’m generally not one to check out remake after remake of classic shows. Which means that I’m far from this movie’s target audience, since this is the nth remake of Mischievous Kiss. The thing is, though, late last year, I happened to catch the trailer of Fall In Love At First Kiss 2019, and whaddya know, I actually wanted to check this out, and even made a mental note to look out for it, after its release in February 2019.

Basically, I was drawn to how cute and sunny the trailer looked, plus the fact that this comes from Frankie Chen, the director of Our Times, a movie that I loved and watched something like 2.5 times on three different flights. I was also drawn to the fact that this stars Darren Wang, whose bad-boy-with-a-warm-heart character I’d really enjoyed in Our Times as well.

So, did this meet my expectations in bringing back all of the feels? Let’s dive in to find out.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT

If Wikipedia is to be believed, this is the whopping 12th live-action thing that’s come out of the Mischievous Kiss franchise, if you count both dramas and movies. Wowza. This is a well-loved story alright.

For those who are new to the story, essentially, Ditzy Warm Girl nurses a huge crush on Geeenius Cold Guy, and eventually wins his heart, by wearing her heart on her sleeve.

MY GENERAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE REST OF THE FRANCHISE

I’ve seen only two other versions of this story, starting with 2010’s Playful Kiss coming out of Korea, and then 2013’s Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo, coming out of Japan. Although I did go through a phase where I really liked Playful Kiss (not when I first watched it, but later, upon a subsequent rewatch), I generally am not a die-hard fan of this story.

Overall, I find Genius Cold Guy too prickly and disagreeable for my taste, and I also find Ditzy Warm Girl a bit too much of a pushover. Which is also why I much prefer China’s very loose adaptation A Love So Beautiful (it’s more like ALSB’s writer used Mischievous Kiss as tangential inspiration, coz a strict remake ALSB is not), coz he’s not so cold, and she’s not such a pushover. What can I say? I’ve come to favor healthier relationship dynamics more and more, of late.

I guess that doesn’t put me in the best position to enjoy this story, given my discomfort with this franchise’s preferred relationship dynamic. That said, I do think that if you really love this franchise and have no issues with how the relationship dynamic is portrayed, then you’re much more likely to love this one.

STUFF THAT DIDN’T WORK IN SHOW’S FAVOR

Not counting the cold vs. warm relationship dynamics that I mentioned above – coz Show can’t help it; this is built into its ancestral DNA, so to speak – these are the things that I felt didn’t do Show any favors.

1. Limited screen time. Because this is a movie and not a drama, the relationship development between our OTP (Darren Wang and Jelly Lin) is forced into a highlight reel sort of format. While Show manages this fairly well, the big relationship milestones did feel rather sudden to me, when I got to them.

2. The acting leans bad. The general acting delivery is in the OTT manhwa-esque style that Taiwan seems to favor, which wouldn’t be such a problem if the cast had a stronger ability to deliver.

Between our leads, I found Jelly Lin rather too exaggerated at times, but relatively speaking, I thought she did better than Darren Wang, who just doesn’t seem to fit into the skin of a geeenius very well, though not for lack of trying. One basic thing that bothered me, is that Darren’s way of speaking is a touch halting, as if it’s effortful for him to get the words out of his mouth. This is not something that I could buy from a supposed genius, to be brutally honest. On top of that, Darren’s range of expression in this movie seems quite limited, and that led me to feel that he was rather stiff, overall.

The worst offender, though, is the mother of our male lead, played by Christy Chung. Granted, Christy was born in Canada and only learned Mandarin as a third or fourth or even fifth language, so it’s understandable that her delivery of the language isn’t very natural at all. But, when that’s coupled with her very bad comic timing and her OTT manhwa style falling flat, it all adds up to Very Bad Indeed. Not gonna lie; I cringed through pretty much all of her scenes. ๐Ÿ˜›

3. The first half is harder to watch than the second half. Partly because our male lead is very cold and prickly towards our female lead, particularly in the earlier stretch of our story, and partly because of the other factors at play, namely, the not-very-organic plot development, and the not-great acting, I found the first half of the movie pretty hard going. I kept waiting for the feels to hit, but to be honest, they weren’t forthcoming, at least in the first half. I almost chose to drop out at the halfway point, but decided to hang in there just to see how Show would choose to resolve this story. This definitely didn’t work in Show’s favor.

STUFF THAT DID WORK IN SHOW’S FAVOR

1. Stuff looks pretty. From the sets to the sunny Spring palette, everything looks warm and inviting, with a hint of technicolor to make everything pop extra. This made our story world feel hyper-real, which I found fitting for this show.

2. The music is pleasant. One thing that I’ve learned from blogging about shows, is that music can play a huge part in lifting a mediocre, just-ok moment to make it feel like something a lot more momentous. The music in this show is easy on the ears, and made everything feel cheerful and breezy, and heart-tuggingly poignant in turn. That helped.

3. Our female lead Xiangqin is rather likable. Despite my reservations about parts of Jelly Lin’s delivery, I must admit that generally speaking, our female lead Xiangqin does come across as quite likable. Her never-say-die attitude, and her forgiving nature were definite pluses, in my books.

4. There are some sweet moments. Even though our male lead spends much of our screen time being curt to our female lead, there are some more melty, more squee-worthy OTP moments that helped to sweeten the watch. Yes, sometimes the set-up doesn’t feel organic, and yes, the acting isn’t the best, but Darren Wang does smolder very nicely, and that helped to amp up any romantic interactions between our OTP.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

There are definitely some details that don’t make sense to me in the ending, but.. that is probably fairly in keeping with the rest of the franchise. Zhishu’s turnaround felt rather sudden to me, as did his angst about why Xiangqin didn’t ask him about his relationship with Shahui (Cai Siyun).

Still, I appreciate this iteration’s take on how our male lead’s feelings are revealed. I thought the idea of him communicating with Xiangqin via SNS quite fresh and apt for the times, and the detail, of him setting certain posts to be visible only to her, quite clever. Given Xiangqin’s unusually high level of ditziness, I found it believable that she wouldn’t realize that the posts she’d been looking at, weren’t set for public consumption.

I also rather liked the full circle that the writers choose for the love confession, where Zhishu basically invites Xiangqin back to their high school hall, where she’d first heard him deliver a speech, so that she can now hear him deliver, well, not a love confession in the strictest sense, but a confirmation of their mutual feelings, and a marriage proposal.

The intersplicing of all of Zhishu’s softer reactions to Xiangqin over all this time was really nice to see, and everything finally felt more balanced to me, in terms of this OTP connection.

All in all, Show ends on a sweet and surprisingly satisfying note, considering how I’d almost dropped out at its mid-point. That’s.. not bad at all, I’d say.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Rough around the edges, and really quite ungainly in certain aspects of its execution, but not without its sweet moments.

FINAL GRADE: C++

TRAILER:

MV:

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

17 thoughts on “Flash Review: Fall In Love At First Kiss 2019 [TW Movie]

  1. Hello kfangurl! I’ve been following your site for a year or two. I enjoy reading your reviews.

    My first intro to this story line was the original anime – Ituzara na Kiss. I later watched “Playful Kiss” which I didn’t care for. It was already a storyline I struggled with, and then to make the male lead such an expressionless one is ever harder to stomach. However, I came across a Taiwanese version from 2005 – “It Started with a Kiss” — It is very well done, with a male lead that shows a great deal of character growth and doesn’t have the expression of robot from beginning to end! It took some time for the female lead to grow on me, but we see a very sweet relationship building between the two, that grows to be a strong, healthy one. For the first time I found myself believing that such opposites could actually co-exist in complete bliss and harmony!

    I tried looking for a trailer to point you towards. But this link is the best one I could find at short notice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU5vmZ1tOQA

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  2. Ooh my favourite drama for nostalgia reasons are It started with a kiss which has the same over acting, so I might check this out as I’m kind of used to it at this point haha ๐Ÿ˜‚

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    • Lol, yes, I do think that fans of the franchise would find this a fun watch. I did hear, though, that die-hard fans of It Started With a Kiss found this OTP lacking when compared to the leads in ISWAK. But I do think if you keep an open mind, it can be a fun little watch! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. I just finished watching this yesterday night, and I was left sorely disappointed. I love the series, and was looking forward to the movie so badly, but it just put me off. You listed out everything that I found wrong with it. And Darren Wang? I didn’t expect to be disappointed by him. Surprisingly, I really liked the female lead.

    Conclusion: Nothing can beat ‘It Started With a Kiss’ and ‘They Kiss Again’. You should give it a try, it’s way better and has more depth and detail as compared to any other remake, giving us a proper view on how their relationship grows and comes to be. It is old, but don’t let that keep you from watching this gem. Plus, their chemistry is really good and you’ll be left longing for more.

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    • Sorry to hear that you were disappointed by this movie, Anya. I didn’t love it myself, but found the ending quite sweet. Thanks for the recommendation on ISWAK, it seems that this really is widely regarded as the gold standard when it comes to the rendition of this story. I’m not quite ready for another visit with this story so soon after checking it out via this movie, but will definitely keep it in mind for another time! โค

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  4. Hi Fangurl – Your description of the Mom is enough to pique my interest so I may give this one a go. Love the header on this page! The flowers and text are adorable.

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    • Tee hee! I guess Christy Chung’s performance as Mom is a spectacle in and of itself! ๐Ÿ˜† It’s not good by any means, but I suppose with the right lens, it could be somewhat entertaining? ๐Ÿ˜…

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  5. I first came across the franchise when I saw the Korean version, and thought that the male lead was a block of ice. I desperately wanted the girl to grow a spine and reject him at the end, but regrettably it did not happen.

    But then, I came across the Taiwanese version and boy oh boy was I thrilled. Don’t get me wrong, the girl was still incredibly ditzy but she had a smidgen more of a backbone more than the Korean version. Also the male lead, MY GOD, Joe Chen is incredible as the lead. He’s so so convincing and actually shows warmth and micro expressions. Highly recommend you watch it! Also, it has a second season taking place after their marriage, and trust me, the scenes were HAWT! The leads have a lot of chemistry together. It’s the perfect amount of fluff.

    Coming to this movie, fight me on this but Jelly Lin’s dimples were the MVP. They kept me rooting for her. And is it just me or Darren Wang’s neck seems weird in his uniform. I guess the movie versions are just not for me? However, I did love their hotel scene. All in all. this series is like a birthday cake that has been in the fridge for a week. It’s still edible and nostalgic but not what it quite used to be.

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    • Tee hee! I love your analogy to week-old birthday cake, Riri! It’s so perfect! ๐Ÿ˜† Thanks for the recommendation of the TW version, I’ve now put it on my list, since so many of you recommend it so highly. I won’t check it out right away since I need a bit of distance from the story and I just revisited it via this movie. But the next time I’m in the mood for something light and nostalgic, I’ll check out the TW version. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. I watched the dorama version when I was in elementay school, like 18 years ago and I love it at that time then I read the manga at uni and did not like it. Like you, I love healthy dynamics relationship and realize that I did not like Genius Cold Guy. Great review !

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    • Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed the review! Indeed, healthy relationship dynamics have never been more attractive to me, I must say! I used to be pretty accepting of the Genius Cold Guy type since it was so widely used in dramas, and they’re cold at first, so that the love of their lives can make them rethink their ways and change, but.. naw, I just don’t take well to them anymore. ๐Ÿ˜

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  7. Hey fangirl ^^ , it has been a while, hope you are doing good

    hmm I actually was looking forward to watch this one but now after reading, it does not look so promising.

    On another note, i watched recently a really fantastic movie imo and wanted to recommend it to you, soul mate (2016)

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    • Hi there Ahmed, I’m well, thank you for asking! I hope you are doing great too ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, this one isn’t as fun as I’d hoped it would be, but like I said, I’m not quite this movie’s target audience. If you love the rest of the franchise and enjoy checking out new iterations of it, this might work better for you than it did for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for the recommendation on Soul Mate, I’ll keep it in mind! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  8. Is this movie will have season 2? Reply ASAP.

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