You Are My Hero (2021)
This is one of those pleasant C drama surprises that was sprung on me during the past week. (Rainy weather and sick kid did it) It wasn't on my radar and I'm watching far too many K dramas at present but anything with Sandra Ma in it is always worth at least a peek for me.
Indeed it was worth a look... still is... as it is a currently airing drama that's been very well received locally. To my mind (and I mean it in the best way possible) it is a miracle that this combination of genres has come together so beautifully. Much credit has to be given to the writer obviously for holding the storytelling together but also to the production team as a whole for putting their best feet forward for this obvious labour of love.
If you haven't already discovered You Are My Hero or You are My City Barracks (as it titled in Chinese), it's a slice-of-life drama (of sorts) featuring the happenings and romance between a SWAT squad leader and an aspiring neurosurgeon. They first meet in a robbery hostage situation and it's love at first sight apparently. Except that she doesn't know what her rescue looks like below his eyes, only that he suavely rescues her from a grenade. He, on the other hand admires her pluck and never forgets the plucky young intern who though petrified and teary was willing to put her life on the line for another customer.
Two years later they meet again under very different circumstances. Unknown to Dr Mi Ka, the man who saved her life is now her emergency rescue chief instructor. When she identifies herself during a "break out" he remembers her and the thank you gift she sent him. As she goes through rigorous training under his tutelage, she is initially unimpressed by his demanding and stern demeanour but gradually the two began to interact on friendlier terms.
The possibility of this bombing (no pun intended) was high but so far, it hasn't. There are tropes present but handled wonderfully. Overall it's a well-paced story about two highly committed professionals working in two different fields. For me, aside from the romantic leads the other best thing about this is how the show manages to juggle high risk policing with the medical side of things. At times they even manage to mesh well together in realistic ways, giving the leads opportunities of being together in dangerous situations. That this has worked so well has been the biggest surprise and a pleasant one. A major complaint I have with many cop shows coming out of the mainland is that the romance is most often badly integrated with the policing side of things. Not so here. The romances... and there are 3 main ones... are really well written and executed. Although I think one of the secondary male leads could do with a good kick in the rear end from China to Australia.
The leads are immensely likeable both as individuals and as a couple. On a scale of adorableness, they are in the stratospheric range. Both are good at what they do, Squad Leader Xing Kelei especially but when it comes to romance it is awkwardness galore ie. they are newbies. For them being straightforward and honest is always the best policy in their dating because taking other people's "advice" is seldom helpful.
Sandra Ma has been a known quantity to me for some years now (since Love Me if You Dare). She seems to go for variety and I've enjoyed a number of her projects. She is reliably great here and pulls off the character with so much believability. Bai Jingting, on the other hand, is something of a revelation. At this moment I'm wondering where a fine actor like him has been hiding all this time. Apparently he was in The Rise of the Phoenixes which I did like but he was in a support role so that's my excuse for not remembering him. He is excellent here in portraying all the nuances of Xing Kelei and keeping him sympathetic and likeable all throughout. His chemistry with Sandra Ma is pitch perfect. The two ooze with cuteness whatever they do together. It's a pairing... to use an old adage turned cliche... made in heaven.
At this juncture I'm ready to declare them one of my favourite fictional pairings ever. I'm not someone to throw out hyperboles or plaudits at the drop of a hat but I love these two so much that I'm ready to jump out of my socks. I suppose when two people have been through so many life and death situations together they take opportunities seriously. There is so much credibility in their pairing because these are two people who really like each other. One of my favourite scenes... probably my favourite one so far more than them sharing their first kiss... is when they've both been rescued from a collapsed mine shaft. He hesitantly asks her to be his girlfriend more confident then before that she has feelings for him. The exchange then turns awkwardly transactional before she finally agrees and they shake hands on it. It's all quite adorable. Then he takes it up a notch or two and finally tells her who he is. Xing Kelei, the normally gung-ho and macho cop turns into a bumbling pubescent male when he's around the woman that he likes very very much.
Much of the show charts Mi Ka's journey to becoming a better doctor as she takes up various challenges in Renxin Hospital where she's based. Her gutsy impulses sees her on the field as she deals with all kinds of incidents including the aftermath of an earthquake. With Xing Kelei, he is at the top of his game already and is a proven leader of men. The previews for this week's episodes hints that his journey of growth will take a different route.