Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Recap and Review: Love O2O / 微微一笑很倾城 (2016 film)

I have been a fan of the Love O2O (other names: 微微一笑很倾城, Just One Smile Is Very Alluring) drama so I was waiting for the release of the movie starring Angelababy :)

Of course, the story was the same but in case you haven’t watched the 30-episode drama that just recently wrapped up in China, read on to know the plot and some thoughts on the film. Please note that I freely insert my thoughts between scenes, and in the case of this film, I might be also mentioning some comparisons with the drama. 

And also beware that this is a very lengthy recap as I have thoroughly enjoyed the film! Possibly also because I used to play online games before hahaha.

Let’s go!

The film begins with a chase between Wei Wei’s (Angelababy) online game character, Luwei Wei Wei, and a frog thief. But before she could deliver the final blow, she loses electricity in her dorm (some student dorms in China forces the lights out at a certain time in the evening to allow students sufficient sleep) so she dashes off to a computer shop near the university.

She makes it in time as other players in her team are not as strong as her character and the monster finally dies. As her quest is already done, she decides to help another player inside the computer shop who asks for backup in his fight. The player who asked for help is amazed that the famous Yixiao Naihe is also helping him so other players inside the shop—including Wei Wei— crowd behind him to watch the fight.

Wei Wei introduces herself through a narration that while she is ranked seventh in the game’s player-versus-player (PVP) standings in her server, the famous Yixiao Naihe is ranked first. Online games have different servers and the past ones I’ve played allow you to play in every one of them. At the same time, some games allow you to have a number of characters for each server, so you could switch to your other persona when you’re bored.

Wei Wei’s online husband, Zhenshui Wuxiang, (some players pair up to take on quests esclusive for couples, some pair up because they want to find offline love haha) requests for a divorce, stressing they only paired up to complete a quest. Wei Wei has no questions about this and even rejects his offer of equipment for her character.

A friend of Wei Wei in the game later tells her Zhenshui Wuxiang is marrying Xiaoyu Yaoyao, a player famous for her beauty. This friend, Er Xi, turns out to be her dorm-mate who also tells her there is a rumor that she is really a boy as her character is too strong, her profile ID has no picture, and she doesn’t carry any girl-y equipment.

Meanwhile, another dorm-mate (her dorm houses four students per room) says a Journalism major, Cao Guang, has posted Wei Wei’s picture near a BMW car on an online forum and hints she may have a sugar daddy. Wei Wei and Er Xi storm one of Cao Guang’s class and shows through possibly hacked images and logs (Wei Wei and her friends are Computer Science majors) the guy’s porn activity.

Wei Wei says this might have corrupted his view of the world as she shows him pictures of the BMW car the mother of the student she’s tutoring owns. When Cao Guang joins her in front of the class and asks her if this is her revenge, she just answers she just wants to change how he sees the world. The class erupts in an applause and Cao Guang is left staring at Wei Wei’s back with his lips curling into a smile. 

Wei Wei and Er Xi meet up with their other dormmates at a convenience store and it just so happens that the popular Xiao Nai (Jing Boran) and his friends were passing by. Wei Wei and friends crowd the shop’s one-way window, where Xiao Nai writes down an equation outside. 

While her friends gush at Xiao Nai’s complexion and lashes, Wei Wei gets her notebook and copies the equation Xiao Nai has been writing. She marvels at his wits and tells the girls she worships him. The other girls say the same that he is the master they all worship (Xiao Nai and his friends are also Computer Science majors). Wei Wei and friends exit the store and witness Xiao Nai turning down a girl’s invitation for a show. 

Back at the game, Zhenshui Wuxiang and Xiaoyu Yaoyao are holding their wedding parade. But as Wei Wei leaves her computer to catch a cockroach, her character in the game walks in front of the parade and disrupts it. She pretends to be selling potions so as not to embarrass herself too much.

After the crowd leaves, Wei Wei walks by herself and is met by Yixiao Naihe on a bridge. He shocks her when he asks her to marry him. Yixiao Naihe reasons there is an upcoming quest involving couples and being the highest ranked female gamer, she’s the best one to partner with. 

Wei Wei tells him to hurry and get married now but Yixiao Naihe says they will after he makes preparations. He exits the game and it is revealed Yixiao Naihe is none other than our male lead, Xiao Nai! Dun dun dun dun.

The wedding ceremony finally takes place and the two lovebirds are flown by a flying horse across the game. The ceremony is touted by the players as the most lavish they’ve seen, and Xiayu Yaoyao (the new wife of Wei Wei’s ex-husband) pouts in jealousy when she hears this.

Wei Wei is daydreaming about the wedding and how Yixiao Naihe made her swoon. After leaving the study hall, she is accosted by Cao Guang, who says he fell in love with her after their last encounter. Wei Wei tries to quickly leave but when Cao Guang asks why she won’t even try to date him, she proudly says she already likes someone—her senior, Xiao Nai, whom she says she has adored since she was a freshman!

Someone chuckles behind Wei Wei and when she looks back, Xiao Nai and his friend are standing smiling at her! Xiao Nai utters a “Thank you” and Wei Wei quips a “You’re welcome” before hurrying back to her dorm! HAHAHA such a funny encounter! 

It should be noted that Xiao Nai intended to check out Wei Wei and Cao Guang after his friend saw them earlier. Xiao Nai was quick to get his bag and leave the classroom at the news of Cao Guang courting--or pestering, likely--Wei Wei outside the study hall. 

The next day, Wei Wei heads to the computer shop and the manager, KO, tells her he married someone in the game he’s playing. She asks whether he thinks relationships in the game could really be real and KO just answers with: “Feelings are feelings. It’s hard to tell whether they are from the game or from real life.”

The annoying Xiaoyu Yaoyao (Zhenshui’s new wife) tells Wei Wei that the fight with a boss monster has been cancelled. However, when Wei Wei reaches her guild’s building, her teammates are furious of her absence causing them to lose. Xiaoyu Yaoyao adds oil to the fire saying Wei Wei must have put Yixiao Naihe and his team’s interests first as she is now married to him.

Wei Wei is treated as a traitor but the guild master and his online wife tells the guild she has been one of the first members of the team. Wei Wei leaves the faction seeing how Xiaoyu Yaoyao and friends set her up. 

When Xiao Nai and his friends learn of Wei Wei’s bullying online, his online character Yixiao Naihe invites Zhenshui Wuxiang to a one-on-one combat. The four are gathered inside the school library waiting for Zhenshui and on the other side, Cao Guang arrives and surprise… he’s apparently Zhenshui! ( Oh my! I can’t wait for him to find out Wei Wei is the girl he dumped online!)

Wei Wei, who is also at the library runs to a free computer and checks out the fight which has the whole server abuzz. Well of course Yixiao Naihe beats the crap out of Zhenshui. Zhenshui loses face in front of the other players (busybodies watching their duel haha) especially when he uses potion to regain his health.

After the fight, Yixiao Naihe invites Luwei Wei Wei to a place where they can watch the sunset. Wei Wei lightly touches her computer screen with a giddy smile on her face while Xiao Nai watches at her with a warm smile.

In the game, Luwei Wei Wei and Yixiao Naihe participate in the couples' duel and move up until the finals. For the championship, Yixiao Naihe tells Luwei Wei Wei he will just attend a business meeting but will definitely be there before the fight begins. However, Yixiao Naihe didn’t show up for the fight.

I don’t know how many days have passed since Luwei Wei Wei went online but a montage of her walking alone, eating alone, looking at books alone and seeing the illustration of Yixiao Naihe (everywhere she goes!) was played, showing how disappointed she is and possibly how she has already developed some feelings for Yixiao Naihe.

Her friend Er Xi alerts her that Houzijiu, one of Yixiao Naihe’s friends, has long been looking for her online. So Luwei Wei Wei logs in and Houzijiu tells her they were in a small accident the day of the final fight. The lights go off and Xiao Nai finds out from his friend Liuwei Wei Wei finally went online! 

With the electricity out in the dorms, the two run to the computer shop and talk online. Yixiao Naihe asks to see her in the real world (GASP!) and next thing we know, Wei Wei is shopping for new clothes! Hahaha!

Wei Wei finishes up her test early as she will be meeting Xiao Nai later that day but the teacher doesn’t allow her to leave until the time is up. When the clock finally strikes 3, Wei Wei rushes out and waits at the bridge. She notices Xiao Nai standing at the other side looking at her but she just thinks he’s also waiting for someone there.

Xiao Nai walks to where she is standing so she greets him and tells him what a coincidence it was for them to be at the bridge that same time. He tells her that it wasn’t by chance as he was waiting for her (KYAAAAA! Excuse my fangirl scream, I really like the part where Xiao Nai finally introduces himself to Wei Wei!). 

She follows him to his bike and Xiao Nai tells her he’s taking her to his basketball game. She shyly rides at the back of his bike and when he notices her short skirt being blown by the wind as he drives, he buys from a nearby store and puts the plastic bag on her lap.

At the basketball game, Xiao Nai shocks Wei Wei and her friends (and the crowd, actually haha) when he sits beside Wei Wei during half time break. Wei Wei’s dormmates pester her to tell them how they met and she narrates it all started with a cockroach! Hahaha!

The next day, Xiao Nai reveals he has known Wei Wei is Luwei Wei Wei all along. He recounts almost hitting her bike near the internet cafe (the scene from the first few minutes of the film), and watching her play the game and save her friends. 

He later brings Wei Wei to his and his friends’ small gaming firm and shows her their designs. Xiao Nai’s friends chance upon them hugging and Wei Wei introduces herself as Luwei Wei Wei. They are all shocked to learn Luwei Wei Wei is not a boy! Haha.

Wei Wei’s former guild is having a meeting offline as the guildmaster and his online wife (and also long-time girlfriend in real life) are moving abroad. Cao Guang is surprised to learn Wei Wei is Luwei WeiWei and Xiaoyu Yaoyao notes the longing in Cao Guang’s eyes.

After their dinner, Cao Guang offers Wei Wei a ride home while Yaoyao is inside his car. Xiao Nai arrives to pick up Wei Wei and Yaoyao, the jealous wreck that she is, shouts at Xiao Nai that Wei Wei has been married in the game before and that she plays with other guys.

Xiao Nai just tells her that as long as Wei Wei wants to be with him at present, then that will be enough. (BURN, SISTAH!)

Meanwhile, Xiao Nai and his friends attend a meeting with a possible investor for their game concept. However, that company copied their characters and want them to work for the company instead to develop the game. Xiao Nai and friends decline this and spend their New Year break sad and wandering on the streets.

Wei Wei, who’s back at home with her parents, calls Xiao Nai to remind him to eat well for the New Year not knowing how devastated the boy must feel about his work. Xiao Nai prepares a fireworks display for Wei Wei online and she marvels at this. Well, at least they get to spend the New Year together even if it’s online. :3

When Wei Wei sees Xiao Nai’s friends online, she finally learns what happened to Xiao Nai. She hops on a train and returns to the city (what a sweet girlfriend!) and goes to see Xiao Nai right away, bringing his friends along. And for that… she gets a kiss from Xiao Nai! (KYAAAAAAAAAAAA)

After cheering up, Xiao Nai invites Wei Wei and his three friends to fight a boss online to boost their energies. With high spirits, the five of them agree to make a new game (YAY!). KO, Wei Wei’s friend from the computer shop, also help in the development of game. 

Shortly, a demo of the new game is released and this generates a lot of interest from gamers. An investor also meets with the group and four years later, the latest version of Young Game is being released through a big conference with the media and cosplayers after numerous beta tests. 

While the attendees of the conference count down to the release of the new version, Xiao Nai and Wei Wei run to the top of the building to watch the sunset. 

Wei Wei tells Xiao Nai she will never forget the things she experienced in the game. Xiao Nai answered he will bring their child in the game and tell him of their love story (YIIIIIIEEEEEEEEE). Their conversation in this part of the movie shows them both at the rooftop of their building and at Sunset Peak, their date place inside the game. Aaaaaaaand there’s your happy ending! 


The first minutes of the film automatically shows how bigger the budget is for the in-game graphics and animation than that of the drama. This helps the viewer connect more to the Angelababy’s experience inside the game, especially since this is where she will meet Jing Boran’s character and later develop a friendship with him.

While the movie has not shed light on the side characters’ development and side stories which the drama thoroughly did, I like how we have fewer characters to pay attention to. For example, Zhen Shui and Cao Guang in the drama are two different people, whereas the movie merged the two characters.

Also, the drama played up Meng Yi Ran, a character in love with Xiao Nai, but she was such an outside character that she didn’t really have any direct contact with Xiao Nai or the Wei Wei or their friends. She had a lot of screen time in the drama and I really hated it because it seemed like her character had no use in moving the plot along.

In the movie, Meng Yi Ran was the fan girl of Xiao Nai who attended his basketball games and someone who asked him out to a show. We only had two scenes with her and I think that’s better than having to show her side of the story.

Another thing I love about the movie is having Wei Wei work with Xiao Nai and friends in developing the game. In the drama, Wei Wei was an intern and did clerical jobs at most without directly being involved in making the game. Being from the same major and hinted as someone smart, I think it’s just right to have Wei Wei work with the guys to develop their new game.

Overall, the movie was great but with less swoon moments between Wei Wei and Xiao Nai because, of course, an hour and a half isn’t enough to compete with the 30-episode drama. I haven’t read the novel which the drama and the movie was based as I haven’t found any English translations of it. I saw the novel at a local bookstore here in Singapore but it was in Chinese (of course).

Love O2O, directed by Zhao Tianyu, was released in China on August 12. I think I’ll watch it in theaters if it gets shown here even without subtitles. Haha ^_^

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