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‘Man in Love’: A Taiwanese Cryfest Redefining Love, Culture and Identity

‘Man in Love’ is Gen-Z’s discovery of a romantically gut-wrenching Netflix movie. The Taiwanese film follows Ah Cheng and Hao Ting, their love story both beautiful and agonizing.

Scene from 'Man in Love' (Hao Ting left, Ah Cheng right)
The main characters, Ah Cheng and Hao Ting, together. Credit: Netflix Asia

The 2021 Taiwanese film, ‘Man in Love,’ is Gen-Z’s latest discovery of a romantically gut-wrenching movie on Netflix. An adaptation of the 2014 Korean version, ‘Man in Love’ follows Ah Cheng and Hao Ting. It’s no surprise that Gen-Z is amazing at consistently sourcing new films to enjoy on streaming services, but a new find has many in tears of joy, heartache and nostalgia. 

Ah Cheng, a debt collector, falls into Hao Ting’s life after he’s forced to collect her ailing father’s debt. Ah, Cheng falls for Hao Ting and does all he can do to help her. As the two venture through the ups and downs of each other, the pair redefine the boundaries of love. 

What’s so special about it then?

This might seem like a typical love story. A man helps a woman in need, and both fall for each other. But with a twist at the end of the film, ‘Man in Love’ is a cryfest that redefines the limits and lengths of love.

Alongside the love story of Ah Cheng and Hao Ting, ‘Man in Love’ is also an expedition. Love entangles itself with traditions and identity as a global audience enters the day-to-day world of Taiwan and its light and darkness. 

Ah Cheng

Ah Cheng in ‘Man in Love’ (Credit: Netflix Asia)

Let’s first talk about the character of Ah Cheng. Played by Roy Chiu, he appears on screen as disheveled and looks untrustworthy. Fights are happening all around him. Yet, in the next scene, he gives money to the person he’s supposed to collect debt from.

The film has a lot of these instances of Ah Cheng’s discrepancies in his character. Those around him mistake him for what they assume him to be: inhumane, collecting for those who have nothing.

Yet, Ah Cheng remains by his own standards and gives to those in need even if it means facing life-threatening consequences.

Hao Ting

Hao Ting in ‘Man in Love’ (Credit: Netflix Asia)

Hao Ting, a bank employee barely making ends meet, is far from the world that Ah Cheng survives.

Or so she thought until he showed up to her sick father demanding payment.

She first sees Ah Cheng with disgust as she struggles to avoid him and her father’s debt.

Until she realizes that he’s unavoidable, she slowly realizes his intentions: taking over her loan for her by creating a contract between them.

This contract became love between them. She sees a side of him no one else does: caring, selfless and in love.

Fans have spoken up about such a heart-wrenching yet beautiful love story:

Im personally not an advocate for posting videos of oneself crying but i figured if i could save you the pain then i should #maninlove #maninlovemovie #netflix #sadmovies

♬ original sound – Cristina✨

Their Unfortunate Love

As we see two very different individuals collide, their love and bond become extremely impactful. Ah Cheng hurts Hao Ting in one way or another as he must do his job while protecting her. She must tend to her sick father, deal with his debt and understanding Ah Cheng.

Despite all that, the two fall head over heels for one another.

And it’s the film’s conclusion that rips the audiences’ hearts.

Besides the Love Story

On top of the pair’s romance, there’s so much more to ‘the film ‘Man in Love’ than just love.

The film brilliantly captures the daily culture of Taiwan, one which global audiences may not be aware of or familiar with.

The Language

For those who do not understand Mandarin, it might be hard to catch that the film is in Southern Min, specifically Hokkien.

Hokkien is a Souther Min language native to and originating from Minnan. It sounds similar to Mandarin and Taiwanese. As a dialect certain words and phrases are unique to the dialect.

This additional touch of language adds more realness to the film as audiences discover a unique dialect that is more common than what media usually covers.

The Culture

As we watch Ah Cheng and Hao Ting, the audience is also plunged into the busy streets of Taiwan.

Audiences see the little Taiwanese-style motorcycles and the bustling streets. The street food stalls that the pair often go to showcase the usual food items and streets unique to Taiwan. The bar and nightclub that the pair visits play common Taiwanese music and show Taiwanese attire.

So, as the main focus of the film is the romance between the pair, all around the audience is also a chance to discover a completely different place and culture.

After the many tears

As seen from fans’ reactions, the film is one with an emotional ending. Emotional, but equally beautiful.

Like a lot of Asian films and media, ‘Man in Love’ is not just a romance drama but a journey of love, culture and identity. All of these flow seamlessly into one another, which makes the film all the more bittersweet.

See ‘Man in Love’ on Netflix and feel the agonizing love between Ah Cheng and Hao Ting first-hand.

Written By

Hi! I'm Rufina, a 2nd-year English major at UCLA. Besides writing for Trill Mag's Entertainment section, I'm also a Copy Rimmer for UCLA's The Daily Bruin. When I'm not writing or researching about the latest shows and movies, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, playing golf, and watching dramas/anime.

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