First published 17 May 2019, updated 19 March 2020
In Part 1, we mentioned a list of outstanding BL films/series from across Asia – Thai, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese productions, including The Love of Siam, Night Flight, Lan Yu, Present Perfect, A Touch of Fever, Like Grains of Sand, SOTUS, HIStory, Love by Chance and many others.
As to why a movie or series is of quality? One of the primary reasons is always to do with the story itself – and the fact that it should be engaging. What about the other factors that make them great?
An Australian news portal posted an article dealing with the rise of Thai BL drama, and said:
In recent years the genre known as ‘boys’ love’ has spread fast across South-East Asia and is reaching cult status in some parts of the West, despite the anxieties of conservative parts of Thai society.
“I think male-male romance or male-male homoerotic relations has now become a new normal in Thai pop culture. This seems to be unthinkable 10 years ago,” says Thai political scientist Poowin Bunyavejchewin.
He says the steady stream of boys’ love television shows and feature films are triggering fundamental changes in Thai society. [source]
A good, engaging story can only take a series so far. It needs (no, requires) handsome, charming, talented boys to play the major characters.
Asian drama audiences (the majority perhaps) are still biased towards looks, so performance is not always a top priority. So apparently it’s a bonus when a good looking BL actor can really act.
A good case in point is Japan where idols (boy band members) command high TV ratings simply for being who they are, compared to pure actors. Thai BL series, for obvious reasons, cast attractive, young aspiring actors and have them undergo extensive acting workshops to fill in lack of experience.
Let’s list some names who became big stars after an audition or casting in a BL film or series:
- Mario Maurer – The Love of Siam;
- Witwisit Hiranyawongkul (simply known as Pchy) – The Love of Siam;
Juniors (Batch 1) to Mario and Pchy are:
- Gun Atthaphan Phunsawat – The Blue Hour, Love Love You, Puppy Honey, Theory of Love, Our Skyy
- Fluke Natouch Siripongthon – My Bromance, Red Wine in the Dark Night, Until We Meet Again series
- Fluke Teerapat Lohanan – My Bromance, Remark, SOTUS
- Max Nattapol Diloknawarit – Together with Me, Bad Romance
- Tul Pakorn Thanasrivanitchai – Together with Me, Bad Romance
- Off Jumpol Adulkittiporn – SOTUS, Puppy Honey, Theory of Love, Our Skyy
- Chonlathorn Kongyingyong (Captain) – LoveSick, Reminders
- Nawat Phumphothingam (White) – LoveSick, Reminders
- Luangsodsai Anupart (Ngern) – LoveSick, Waterboyy (Movie), Part Time series
- Vachiravit Paisarnkulwong (August) – LoveSick
- Beam Papangkorn – Waterboyy, the movie
- Tay Tawan Vihokratana – Kiss Me Again, Dark Blue Kiss, Our Skyy
- Earth Pirapat – Waterboyy, the series, Love by Chance, Theory of Love
- Mew Suppasit – What The Duck, TharnType
- New Thitipoom Techaapaikhun – SOTUS, Kiss Me Again, Waterboyy (TV), Dark Blue Kiss, Our Skyy
- Krist Perawat Sangpotirat – SOTUS, Our Skyy
- Singto Prachaya Ruangroj – SOTUS, Our Skyy, He’s Coming to Me
My personal bias towards these actors compel me to have a Top 5 list:
- Fluke (Natouch)
- Beam and Newie
- Mew and Tay
Gun Atthaphan‘s performance in The Blue Hour is hard to beat, but then again Singto offers his angsty, compelling performance in SOTUS and He’s Coming to Me to make him #1.
The Flukes, especially Natouch Siripongthon, has both movie and drama credentials. His projects include My Bromance, Red Wine in the Dark Night, and Part of Love.
Also making waves are these up and coming Thai actors. They are my Top 5 to beat-
- Saint Suppapong Udomkaewkanjana – Love by Chance, WhyRU;
- Ohm Pawat Chittsawangdee – Make it Right, Dew, the Movie, He’s Coming to Me;
- Chimon Wachirawit Ruangwiwat – Sweet Boy, My Dear Loser, Our Skyy;
- Pluem Purim Rattanaruangwattana – My Dear Loser, Our Skyy;
- Perth Tanapon Sukhumpantanasan – Love by Chance, The Stranded;
I’m particularly inclined to say that Ohm, Chimon, and Saint have the best qualities to succeed as actors. Saint with his dedication to his craft and a loyal following is already a force to reckon with. Chimon became part of the Thai BL universe by the movie Sweet Boy back in 2016. His performance in My Dear Loser is no small feat either.
Ohm shows remarkable improvement in his acting via He’s Coming to Me.
A second batch of actors is pertinent to this list:
- Bright Vachirawit (not a newcomer per se, but in BL, he only started 2020 via 2Gether the Series)
- Gulf Kanawut– 2019 breakthrough actor from TharnType, the series
- Kaownah Kittipat – breakthrough actor in TharnType;
- Kokliang Parinya– The Best Twins, TharnType
- Ohm Thitiwat – Until We Meet Again series
- Earth Teerapat – 2Moons2
- Joong Archen – 2Moons2
- Zee Pruk – WhyRU series
- Tommy Sittichok – WhyRU series
- Benjamin Brasier– 2Moons2
- Bas Suradej – 2Moons S1, Hotel Stars
While not entirely correct, these actors share some common qualities:
- On-screen charisma; (which may include box office power);
- Acting talent (or potential talent);
- Memorable BL character;
- Powerful, influential agent or talent management;
- A strong and loyal fan base.
In conclusion, BL drama and movies, need two important characteristics to become a hit – an engaging story and an overall charming, talented cast.
Other factors include:
- Ample budget that covers not only the actors and technical requirements but also marketing drives and social networking
- A competent and qualified director who can push his actors to their limits to do their best;
- Dedicated production staff
- Technical competency – includes a soundtrack, editing, cinematography, sound, and other related stuff
- Marketing drive – this requires a budget, of course!
There is no perfect film or drama series, but what we demand just that! Make your investors’ money worth it by delivering quality shows. There is too much trash already in the world to have them become part of the BL universe as well.