“Sometimes love blinds us, other times it lets us see” – Paulo Coelho
For the umpteenth time, this is yet again another pure treasure from the country, in my opinion, that leads in quality BL stories. They take a simple story and make it so entertaining and relatable that you feel connected to the characters. However, if you are expecting high-resolution production, then you will be disappointed. The production value leaves a lot to be desired. But if you want a quality story and great acting, then this is for you. Even if the storyline is not unique, they made it their own, and I became completely mesmerized by these characters and their foible traits. The one unique thing about Vietnamese BLs is that they present individual with painful personalities, flawed characteristics, yet make them somehow redeemable. Perhaps because we can see ourselves in one or more of the characters and thus understand where they are coming from and, more importantly, where they are going.
The story begins sadly and with bitterness. Ngoc Thach (Nguyen Ba Vinh) is blind and only partially able to walk due to a car accident a while ago. He was a very successful restaurateur and chef. So, now he languishes in bed, wallowing in his misery and becomes bitter towards anyone trying to help him. He has had a longtime ‘girlfriend’, Linh (Trang Minh), who tries to help him. But more recently, with increasing anger, he has turned on her with reprisal. She, therefore, becomes vengeful and tries to get him to sign over the restaurant that Thach owns to her. She feels that is rightful compensation to her for trying to take care of him and assisting in the operations of the restaurant.
To support him, a personal assistant is hired named Thien Phuc (Vuong Thien Hac). Phuc becomes the right person for him. He is an individual who is not intimated by Thach nor impressed with him. He fights back and holds his own against Thach’s almost continuous criticism of everything. This bantering, in essence, is what helps Thach to ‘feel’ again, as Phuc will not let him sit around and feel sorry for himself. In some beautifully filmed sequences, he gets Thach to start living again, helps him to walk and do things independently. Their interactions naturally lure them closer together and before too long, it is obvious that an attraction is occurring. But the attraction cannot be based upon physicality but one on affinity and bond. While Phuc knows what Thach looks like, Thach does not obviously know what Phuc looks like. Yet, Thach’s feeling is no less real than what Phuc begins to feel for Thach. And in reality, Thach knows everything about Phuc except for what he looks like, which for him is secondary.
However, Linh becomes jealous of this budding relationship and tries to thwart it. To complicate matters, Thach’s ‘brother’ Ngoc Duy (Tran Vu Duc Duy) comes back from his oversees studies to help Thach in his business and to assist in taking care of him as well. Duy, while only stepbrothers, is fiercely loyal to his brother and protective of him. Also, returning is Thac’s ‘sister’ Thanh Nu (Pham Ngyuen Tuong Vi), who is not really related to either one of them, but has been lifelong friends with both. She too has also been studying abroad and has now returned. Nu, unfortunately, is not what she seems to be, and is a chameleon and charlatan. She has been in love with Thach for a long time and has been quietly manipulating Thach into trying to love her back. But it is and always has been to no avail.
Eventually, Vu becomes repentant and tries to correct her mistakes. In the background, Duy had been waiting for her, patiently, to realize that someone else had been wanting her for who she is for a very long time and was willing to return that love to her.
This is a sullied story of manipulation and intrigue that initially satisfies no one and alters the trajectory of what might have been. Thach’s mother is also a strong, forceful player here and tries to get Phuc out of the picture, as she did with Linh. She plays the familial calling card with great efficiency, by trying to bribe him with a job offer. Thuc’s level of integrity is still paramount to him. Because of his love for Thach, and his better nature, Phuc willingly gives up on Thach, so that he can go to the States for an operation to cure his blindness. He wants nothing in return except for hoping that Thach regains his vision and is happy.
Fast forward six years, Thach returns to Vietnam and is no longer blind. Phuc has been working at the restaurant that Duy operates along with his wife,Nu. They are tight-lipped about who this server is, but Thach begins to suspect it is Phuc. Phuc resumes his role as personal assistant to Thach, but insists that his name is Phong, and Thach has mistaken him for Phuc.
Here is where the story gets intense and is filled with personal agonies on both Phuc and Thach’s part. Phuc, because of his ‘promise’ to Thach’s mother is unable to reveal himself to him and is caught between wanting to and keeping his word, his promise, and his integrity. Thach knows well about the soul-searching Phuc is going through, explains that his mother is now gone, and there is no one controlling his life. Thach asks him to turn and tell him that he does not love him and hates him and if he can do that, he will leave him alone. With incredibly painful emotional exchanges, Thach asks Phuc, ‘For the last time, are you Phuc?”
With the seal of promises no longer needing to be honored, he breaks down and says, “Hi. My name is Thien Phuc.”
This was an incredibly moving and emotionally satisfying resolve to a difficult situation, especially for someone so principled as Phuc. He was willing to give up his love to maintain his integrity and word-of-honor. With the seal now broken, they can be together.
There are no bad performances in this series. But a special shout out must go to Nguyen Ba Vinh as Ngoc Thach. Playing a blind person might sound easy, but it is not, and he deserves special kudos for playing this part with complete conviction to the role. I have worked with blind individuals, and his movements, nuances, and emotionless expressions were completely realistic. I look for flaws in performances so much so that I watched his eyes for even the tiniest expressions that he was faking this disability. He was genuine, which in and of itself is remarkable. He also captured well the bitterness and anger of someone who with visual acuity, suddenly lost it. The depression and feeling of being useless were palpable and intrinsically there. Ba Ninh, if you will, is the premier star in Vietnamese BLs and for good reason. He shows devotion and commitment to his roles, with this also being the same. He is by any measure a very handsome man and is not afraid to be intensely passionate in the love scenes.
Of course, there are flaws with this series. The portrayals of females as vixens and piranhas are a bit old and frankly out of place. All of that is unnecessary for drama. A simple story about an individual who recently became visually impaired coupled with a no-nonsense male personal assistant would have been a worthy saga. Both are flawed and to work through their weaknesses and vulnerabilities would make for an interesting story.
This is obviously not a big-budget series and it shows. Nonetheless, overall, the BL series from Vietnam have heart, passion, commitment, and a genuineness about their characters. And this is true for this series as well. They take stories, perhaps a bit cliché and trope-like, but make them fresh. How? By making the characters real, pliable, and never over-the-top dramatically. We see ourselves in at least one of the characters. Additionally, they tell whole stories without a lot of superfluous interventions hindering or blocking the development of a relationship. The roadblocks seem plausible, and they find an emotional and intense way to resolve the dilemma.
Vietnamese BLs continue to show the most heart, the deepest conviction to characters, and an intensity about their love for one another that exceeds any other country on earth. And I have so stated this in many of my reviews of Vietnamese BLs. To be sure, there are superb individual BL series from other countries, but no other country continues to consistently produce quality stories and does so with little to no fanfare and even less money.
Treat yourself to quality BL shows and watch one from Vietnam. Start with this one. It is truly a gem.
Rating- 4.75 out of 5
4 thoughts on ““Want to See You” Series Review (Ep.1 to 14)”
The misery Plot was dragged too much quite full 5 episodes!
Vietnamese BLs do take a person into every aspect of their lives. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy watching them. The budget is limited giving the audience a chance to get to know them between and during films. Nguyen Ba Vinh in particular speaks English to his international fans as does Ngoc Thach while asking for funding assistance. Nguyen Ba Vinh has gained a lot of respect from those who get to know him. You did a wonderful review and I finally got the chance to follow you on Twitter. Cheers
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Thank you! I have been trying to generate more interest in Vietnamese BLs as they so profoundly move me. Ba Vinh is a hauntingly interesting individual and one of the better BL actors from any country.
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Check him and others out on YouTube in two other series with humor and a wide ranging cast Peaceful Place and Nation’s Brother.