Review: Triad Princess

Triad Princess boasts the title of being Taiwan’s first Netflix original series and with a fun concept – and a short run of only six episodes – it seemed like a great show for me to try out during the #40h7dLC that took place earlier in August. But did it live up to the hype?

What’s Triad Princess about?

The premise is… well, I want to say straightforward, and maybe it isn’t, but it is fun.

Angie Ni (Eugenie Liu) is the only daughter of Cosmo gang’s boss, Ni Kun (Michael JQ Huang) and is obsessed with heartthrob actor Jasper Yi-hang Xu (Jasper Liu). Luck seems to strike when Yi-hang’s agent, Sophia Kwong (Tien-hsin) approaches Angie’s father about employing her as a bodyguard for Ling Yun (Cecilia Choi Sze-wan), another actress she represents who has been receiving death threats. Of course, Angie ends up taking the job – putting her in closer contact with Yi-hang than she ever could have hoped for.

Basically: it’s a super fun romantic comedy that will only take you about three and a half hours to watch. I really recommend it – whether you’re learning Mandarin or not – because if you’ve been watching romantic dramas etc. from the PRC then this is definitely a different, slightly more grown-up vibe, while also having some genuinely funny and sweet moments.

The Story (Spoilers!)

Okay, this is going to be me writing a little about the story, so if you haven’t seen the show yet, there will be spoilers here. You’ve been warned!

Like I said, I think Triad Princess is a whole boatload of fun. It definitely highlights some differences in cultural values between the PRC and Taiwan – like Angie’s multiple boyfriends over the years, who she’s definitely been sleeping with; mentions of drugs and drug rehabilitation that, while characters may not be completely in the open about, are not judged negatively by our protagonist; the fact that Angie and Yi-hang kiss and then sleep together before they’re in an official relationship, and, of course, the romance between Ding-ding (Hung Yan-siang), Angie’s best friend, and Lin Gui (Chang Zhang-xing), a member of Cosmos gang.

The last one was a pleasant surprise – Ding-ding was presented as a gay character from more-or-less his first appearance, but since Taiwan only legalised same-sex marriage in 2019, I kind of figured it wasn’t going anywhere. But he and Lin Gui quickly enter into a relationship and, although there’s a little conservatism about showing them kiss on-screen (as in, they don’t), this isn’t all that unexpected, as I’m pretty sure we only see Angie and Yi-hang kiss once anyway.

What was also nice to see was the friendship that grew between Angie and Ling Yun, who she’s protecting. The show starts with Ling Yun and Yi-hang being in a pretend relationship to garner more publicity and there are definitely shows where Ling Yun would secretly be in love with Yi-hang, would sabotage Angie and hate her, etc. etc.

Instead, Ling Yun’s got her own problems to worry about: namely, her son, who she had with a guy who got her into drugs (and this, again, does seem to highlight an issue, in that Ling Yun fears revealing her past because she wouldn’t be able to find work anymore), and Angie helps her out and the two become fast friends. The women aren’t betraying each other! It’s great!

There’s also a subplot with Sophia and her ex-husband that is sweet and sad (but ultimately seems to end well) and adds a bit more sympathy to her character, who, again, in other shows may well have been typecast as a hard-ass boss who doesn’t care about anyone.

Then we get to Eddie Kim. Played by Tsao Yu-ning, Eddie is the son of Golden Dragon’s boss, a gang out of Hong Kong, and in the first episode, Ni Kun tells Angie that she and Eddie are engaged to be married. She doesn’t want to marry him because she didn’t like him much when they were kids (a lot of this seems to be because he was fat – which is obviously Not Okay, Angie) and also because she wants to find her own partner. Except, when she meets him, he’s had a major glow up and is very dedicated to looking after her.

And for the first few episodes he’s in, that’s fine. Yi-hang messes up at a press conference (which, this is where the plot starts to get a bit annoying, because surely he could have sent her a text first???) and Angie leaves him, deciding to spend some time with Eddie before they potentially get married. More things happen, including Angie really pissing off Ling Yun’s ex-boyfriend and then having a showdown with him when he kidnaps her and, ultimately…

It turns out Eddie knows Ling Yun’s ex-boyfriend?

It’s very confusing, particularly as we know this guy didn’t know Angie before she fought him off somewhere around episode two or three. Also, the show is clearly being set up for a second series that I’m not sure it’s going to get, when it could have just ended with Angie and Yi-hang’s tentative reunion at the airport.

This is the annoying thing about Netflix shows in particular: they’re quick to cancel things when they don’t do well (or well enough, I guess; we never get to see the numbers), whereas if they’d just said from the get-go that it would have been one series long, the ending could have been set up accordingly. Instead, this is like Ghost Bride all over again – except I think that ended, despite the sequel set-up, much more cleanly.

ANYWAY – all in all, it’s a really fun show, the peak moment being Ni Kun making his tragic video to try and get Angie to come back home. Or Angie kicking people into the river. That was always fun.

Learning from Triad Princess

So, I’m not sure if I learnt any new words from Triad Princess. I’m pretty sure there were points where people were speaking Hokkien, which is very cool, but I don’t know it. Also, I watched it like two weeks ago, so I can’t remember.

But if you’re looking for a fun, quick watch with a fair amount of Mandarin in it, I would recommend the show. Ending aside, I really enjoyed it and if they ever do release a second series, I will be right there the day it drops.

I’m not sure what I’m going to watch next (I kind of stalled on The Princess Weiyoung because I knew it was gonna get hella sad), so if you have any suggestions, leave a comment!

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