Even after twenty years, people are still trying to diagnose everyone in Endless Love 天若有情. From kleptomania to borderline pedophilia to open cheating and medical malpractive, everyone in the show has so many issues that even their resident therapist needs help.
With a super tight script full of quotable conversations, dimensional and flawed characters, a stellar cast – Dong Jie, Cha In-pyo (the Korean actor actually spoke Chinese during filming), Jerry Huang — and a surprisingly nuanced take on plenty of controversial issues, the series remains a stable in the “remember when Chinese dramas still could do this” conversations. You can watch it on Youku here.
Nineteen-year-old kleptomaniac Zhan Yan (Dong Jie) has been in love with her legal guardian (Cha In-pyo) since she first met him at the age of ten. Before then, she had been abused by her ascetic grandmother and had been stealing for the thrill. When her guardianship is transferred to the male lead after her grandmother passed away, she begins to steal things from the mall he owns to gain his attention.
Meanwhile, 36-year-old Ji Dongyang is having an open affair with his business partner’s wife (Vicky Chen) while trying to ward off Zhan Yan’s increasingly overt advances. He enables her stealing and sees nothing wrong with her having neither friends nor desires other than himself. When he is finally convinced she needs a break from him, Ji Dongyang sends her to psychologist Li Weifan and Zhan Yan moves aways to experience a life of her own.
Her first friend outside of Ji Dongyang is Fang Yi’an (Jerry Huang, who seems to have a penchant for this type of everyone-has-issues-dramas) , a waiter who got fired by Ji Dongyang after calling the police on Zhan Yan. Like his girlfriend Li Weifan, Fang Yi’an is convinced he could save Zhan Yan from her relationship with Ji Dongyang. The two even take Zhan Yan in after she moves out. Yet in the process, the lovers find themselves drawn to Zhan Yan and Ji Dongyang. Li Weifan replaces her friend Wang Qi in Ji Dongyang’s life, while Zhan Yan rebukes Fang Yi’an and moves again.
This series is so crazy and addictive because everyone is doing all the wrong things with the best of intentions. Except for Zhan Yan, everyone is so busy trying to fix everyone else’s messed up lives that their own lives become more muddled.
Dong Jie is perfect as the problematic female lead that looks at the world with clarity but also disdain, and the rest of the cast matches her performance. The dialogue for this is play worthy, with so many great quotes and inventive dialogues full of double entendres and metaphors. If you know Chinese, I definitely recommend checking it out. The series also has a well-receivedsequel (spoiler: starring Alex Chao as Zhan Yan’s new love interest), but that one requires Youku membership to watch so I never got around to it.