I’ve been on a major major major Chinese drama binge lately. It’s literally one of the longest and most intense phases of obsession I have ever gone through, and a gigantic part of that has to do with a certain actress named Ariel Lin.
I think I’m subconsciously trying to watch through her filmography or something. In any case, I am just so impressed by her talent so I decided to write about her today.
The first time I saw Ariel was on Lan Ling Wang, which is ironically her latest show. I watched the damn thing until the wee hours of the morning simply because I could not stop myself! (I kind of skipped some parts on the second half so I could watch the YuWen Yong/Daniel Chan parts ASAP!)
The whole cast’s performance was outstanding but I homed in on Ariel because I was so impressed by her portrayal of Xue Wu on Lan Ling Wang. She was able to really show her character’s progression from a sheltered and naive child to a selfless young woman, at the same time she was able to draw out the nuances in character of both her leading men just by the way they interacted with her.
And while she was a gigantic Mary Sue for most of the show she was a very smart and resourceful one at that, so there’s much to love about her character still. Ariel is able to make characters I would normally find annoying a little bit more tolerable.
It was the same case with her role on It Started With A Kiss 1 and 2. Xiang Qin is by no means the sharpest girl. In fact I find it a little hard to believe such a knucklehead actually exists, but what I love about her is how she does everything with all her heart and how she loves with all her heart, which is why she gets hurt very easily and resorts to running away.
The ISWAK series isn’t groundbreaking and is meant to be a romantic comedy with a few drama moments, and I thought it was a great watch in that sense. There were a bunch of random unnecessary crazy moments (hello, Ah Jin) but I always find myself laughing heartily whenever I go on an ISWAK marathon, especially with all Jiang Mama scenes! I love how hard that lady shipped the Zhi Shu-Xiang Qin tandem! She captained that ship to its destination!
In a lot of episodes you will see Xiang Qin often getting into trouble for doing things that could only make me scratch my head in wonder, and yet there’s a lovable quality about her that will make you understand why Zhi Shu loves her so much. And this love of his you can very plainly and explicitly see onscreen! The best thing about this show is without a doubt the Ariel Lin-Joe Cheng pairing (lovingly dubbed Arjoe). The chemistry was ridiculous and felt soooo real.
Joe Cheng played his role perfectly; his very silent/brooding Zhi Shu complementing the dense Xiang Qin perfectly. His normally icy demeanor breaks whenever he is with the girl he loves, and I just love how Xiang Qin brings out this tender and loving side of him. I love it too when he takes time to explain things to Xiang Qin even though he himself was in the process of learning what it meant to love. If you don’t swoon over these two when you watch this then I’m not quite sure you’re human. No wonder they are one of Taiwan’s favourite on-screen couples ever, even sparking fans to wish they would get together in real life. That’s how believable their chemistry as a couple was in this show. Loveeee.
I was first exposed to Ariel in an ancient Chinese role and I have to say her versatility knows no bounds. I also love her in these types of roles, wearing all those extravagant clothes and having her hair styled with those intricate headpieces. They highlight her beauty and her lovely expressive almond-shaped eyes.
The only problem with ancient Chinese shows is how minimal the romance can seem. There aren’t a lot of kissing and super romantic scenes because that would be improper for the time period, but the story as a whole of most ancient Chinese or WuXie shows are a lot more meaty and epic in scope than most modern ones.
Hu Ge and Joe Cheng both have worked with Ariel more than once and I think the two of them are also my favourites among her leading men. The first time Hu Ge collaborated with Ariel was with the light-hearted drama Tian Wai Fei Xian, where Ariel played fairy princess Xiao Qi who ends up falling in love with Hu Ge’s character Di Gua, who is a mortal. I thought Ariel really managed to show her acting range in this show because after seeing her play dumb and naive Xiang Qin, finally we see her do legit comedy as well. She was HI-LAR-IOUS here.
And then my tears fell when Xiao Qi and Di Gua were inevitably separated due to their status as goddess and mortal. Being prepared for that moment did not help one bit when both of them started to cry. It was such a sad bunch of episodes, the ones with the two of them apart. The worst part was Di Gua even lost all his memories of Xiao Qi! It’s heartbreaking especially when you see how adorable the two of them are on their journey to love.
I swear these dramas will make me heartsick when I’m through.
I decided to try out one of her older dramas called Love Contract, which she starred with the very handsome Mike He. They had some great chemistry too, and I think it was largely because of how Ariel’s character was kind of in command of their relationship and therefore Ariel was in a way in command of the scenes as well. But man they look great together!
I started watching around episode 15 and the drama was a bit slow but it concentrated more on internal conflicts among the characters. I wasn’t entirely convinced by Mike He’s acting here but I thought Ariel really outdid herself. She played the damaged girl who struggles to cover up her sorrows and for the most part succeeds. But eventually it becomes too much for her to handle and she breaks down in front of the boy she loves.
Despite the drama being slightly mediocre (thank goodness I watched just the last few episodes!), this scene was proof of how well Ariel can fully adapt into a character.
Those shows aside, my favourite role Ariel has taken on so far has been for Huang Rong in Legend of the Condor Heroes. This is in my opinion the best character she’s ever played because I think it fits her the most. Ariel has these bright intelligent eyes that makes her perfect for playing very smart and wily characters like Huang Rong. I also loved how Huang Rong knew Kung Fu, meaning she isn’t one to be pushed around. Go Girl Power!!!!
I loved the story of this series. I also loved the love story between Huang Rong and Hu Ge’s Guo Jing. This unlikely pair makes me smile and makes my heart swoon just as much as Joe Cheng and all his kisses do! I keep replaying the episode near the end when Huang Rong and Guo Jing are finally reunited after a year apart.
What I really loved about Huang Rong was despite how she likes to make it seem to people like she’s this mischievous rascal, she is actually quite selfless. She does things people may misunderstand but her goal is actually to help the people she cares about, even if it may hurt her or cause her harm. In general, I think Huang Rong is just a great fictional heroine, and Ariel Lin just really gave justice to her.
Across all her roles there was one experience I found common every time I watched her on the screen: whenever she laughed it would be so contagious that I can’t help but also laugh, but whenever she cried my heart would break into a million pieces and I would end up crying alongside her. There’s something about her that feels so genuine that she is able to touch the heart and make it seem as if what she is experiencing is real. She isn’t afraid to look foolish when a scene requires it, and she doesn’t try to look overly cute either. She doesn’t try to look elegant when she cries, and when a scene requires her to let go she literally just does. It makes it so much easier for me to sympathize wholeheartedly with any situation her character is in.
From my personal experience, not many actresses have this ability to make my heart ache to the point of moving me to tears, so I really commend her for that. Right now I’m watching another of her oldies, In Time With You, which I am enjoying a great deal because of its slice of life concept. I really hope she does another great series soon! 🙂