I rarely get to check out Chinese or Taiwanese dramas these days, because I have no time for them generally, but I have to say I’m really glad I watched this one. Divorce Lawyers turned out to be fun and engaging, even for a relatively slow start. After all, the drama is 46 episodes long. It’s got plenty of time to burn.
One of the reasons why I like this drama is because it’s also pretty short at 45 minutes per episode. Yes, time is money. It keeps the episode moving so it doesn’t feel like there’s a dull moment. Then again, I only did watch four episodes so far and it is still in a bit of a set-up phase.
The plot is pretty simple: two big-shot lawyers end up unlucky in love and in their careers. Chi Hai Dong (a quite dashing Wu Xiu Bo) is renowned for being undefeated in court. However all the hours he devotes to working bites him in the ass when he discovers his beautiful wife is having an affair. Meanwhile Luo Li (the unconventional beauty Yao Chen) is a newly minted lawyer who’s already starting out pretty strong career wise, and carrying on a romance with her boss. Little does she realize, she’s is actually the “other woman” when her boss’s wife and son come to visit him from the States. Luo Li leaves the firm, putting a halt to her burgeoning career, while Hai Dong tries to divorce his wife.
The problem is, Hai Dong’s wife doesn’t want a divorce and she hires Luo Li to defend her. Luo Li only hears it from the wife’s side, who’s obviously glossed over the fact that she had an affair. So Hai Dong decides that instead of drawing out the ugliness, he’ll just purposely lose the case just so he can end the marriage as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately this loss ruins his reputation as an “undefeated” lawyer, while propelling Luo Li to fame among divorce lawyers for defeating someone so formidable. While the two are restarting their lives, they also find themselves as new neighbors and taking on more divorce cases (which is relatively small) that pit them against each other.
It’s your typical set up – divorce lawyers at odds falling in love. However what’s nice is that it infuses a lot about Chinese modern culture with it, giving it a more interesting spin than what I’d see on American shows/movies. It also treats divorce in a very frank manner in the sense that there will always be two sides to the story, and neither side will ever learn the full picture. And even if the other side does learn the full picture, it’s not like that person is going to go to any lengths to apologize or clear up the misunderstanding. It is what it is, and what’s done is done. They’re professionals.
How Hai Dong’s divorce was handled was so frustrating, but at the same time I appreciated that the show didn’t give you the satisfaction of a happy ending. They didn’t have the wife’s adultery get revealed in court, and they let the lawyer with evidence-that-is-not-quite-true-evidence win just because she had something tangible whereas Hai Dong did not. And then when Luo Li learns that the wife was actually the party at fault, she is reminded that she is hired to defend her client no matter what misdeeds her client must have done.
It’s a sobering message for something that’s supposed to be a romantic comedy.
The actors are also pretty great. Wu Xiu Bo is top notch; I love how I can tell exactly what he’s thinking through his expressions and he never overplays it. He reminds me of a Chinese version of George Clooney somehow. Luo Li is really an unconventional beauty and called the “Angelina Jolie of China” partly because of her works for the U.N. She really gets me with her charm though, and so I look forward to seeing more of her. I want to say that it’s really the actors that pull me into this drama and keep me watching more because otherwise it’s easy for this drama to become a predictable and standard divorce show.
Now with the score at Luo Li: 1 – Hai Dong: 0, I am so ready to see a face off where Hai Dong wins and puts her in her place. It’s a typical underdog story, and yet since I have to like Luo Li too in the end, I hope that the two of them end up working together on future divorce cases.
You can check out Divorce Lawyers on DramaFever, with new episodes every Tuesday.