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YumCha! Picks: 10 + 1 Films Based on TV Series

Written by YumCha! Editorial Team Tell a Friend

Made with a bigger budget, bigger cast and a bigger story, feature-length film has become a part of every successful television show's natural evolution. As the feature film adaptation of TVB drama Triumph in the Skies lands on home video, we take a look at several television shows that made successful transitions to cinema.

1. Boys Over Flowers: Final
One of the most successful drama-to-movie adaptations ever, Boys Over Flowers: Final was part of a pan-Asian phenomenon based around Kamio Yoko's now-legendary manga series Hana Yori Dango, about a poor girl who falls for the king of all bratty rich kids. Starring Inoue Mao as the earnest, feisty Makino Tsukushi and Arashi's Matsumoto Jun as the hot-headed, passionate Domyoji Tsukasa, the two-season Japanese drama series culminated in a film that found the main couple navigating their road from engagement to marriage. The film set new records for the scale of its promotions, and went on to set more records still in its theatrical run, becoming Japan's highest-grossing live-action film of 2008.

2. Liar Game: The Final Stage
Based on Kaitani Shinobu's manga, the live-action Liar Game started out in 2007 as a late-night series starring Toda Erika and Matsuda Shota. The hit show jumped to primetime for the second season in 2009, then to the silver screen for The Final Stage in 2010. The psychological gambling thriller turns probability puzzles into nail-biting gambles of collusion and deception, with Matsuda's mysterious genius swindler serving as the perennial foil to the sinister organization pulling the strings and the scheming, over-the-top players vying to win. The series returned in 2012 with Liar Game: Reborn, and Tabe Mikako stepping in as the pure-hearted heroine.

3. Bayside Shakedown
An office comedy disguised as a police procedural, Bayside Shakedown was a hilarious television series about a group of cops who wastes as much time fighting bureaucracy as they do fighting crime. After the popular television series and an equally successful drama special, Fuji Television took the Wangan Precinct to the big screen with its first feature film. While it was already considered a huge success with a gross of five billion yen, no one predicted that its big-budget sequel would become the highest-grossing Japanese live-action film of all-time. Expanding to a cinematic universe that included multiple spin-offs (both in both cinemas and television), additional drama specials and two more sequels, Bayside Shakedown shows that cops can be just as hard-working, idealistic and clumsy as the white-collar workers in your office.

4. Nodame Cantabile: The Final Score
Regarded as one of the best shojo manga titles of recent years, Ninomiya Tomoko's Nodame Cantabile is a perennial bestseller that has been nominated for and won several prestigious awards. Fourteen years after its initial publication, Nodame Cantabile remains one of the most well-regarded and popular manga titles amongst young women. It's no surprise, then, that it received a drama adaptation in 2006. Starring Ueno Juri as eccentric piano virtuoso Noda Megumi and Tamaki Hiroshi as perfectionist conductor Chiaki Shinichi, the drama was a massive hit that spawned a two-part feature film about the musical couple traversing Europe while struggling with love and their fledgling careers.

5. Hero
Starting life as a 2001 drama starring ever-popular ratings winner Kimura Takuya, Hero made a massive splash on the airwaves as the highest-rated drama Japan had seen in a quarter of a century. It remains one of Japan's most popular dramas of all time, so it unsurprisingly received a film adaptation in 2007. Set six years after the end of the original series, the movie saw Kimura's unorthodox, seemingly lackadaisical public prosecutor Kuryu Kohei reuniting with his old colleagues (including love interest Amemiya Maiko, played by Matsu Takako) at the Tokyo District Prosecutors Office. The film ended up topping the box office for a record-setting seven consecutive weeks. Following a second season on television in 2014, a movie sequel will finally be released this year.

6. Black & White: The Dawn of Assault/Justice
Tsai Yueh Hsun's acclaimed crime suspense series Black & White concluded its run in summer of 2009 with an open ending and the promise of a silver-screen sequel. That sequel has yet to come, but the series has spawned two big-budget movie prequels around Mark Chao's firebrand cop whose fearless fight for justice against the franchise's world of crime, terrorism and military-industrial complex seems to leave half of Harbor City destroyed in every installment. Sans Vic Chou, the movies have found new partners for Mark Chao - Huang Bo in 2012's The Dawn of the Assault and Lin Gengxin in 2014's The Dawn of Justice - and new ways to roll out some of the most ambitious action scenes ever seen in Taiwan cinema.

7. The Fierce Wife Final Episode
SETTV's 2010-2011 idol drama about infidelity, divorce and a woman's awakening lit up Taiwan's TV ratings and even popularized the new slang term "little three" for mistress. As the sheltered housewife and mother starting anew after her marriage breaks down, supermodel Sonia Sui transformed into an everywoman on a journey of heartbreak, struggle and renewal. Fierce Wife aired its finale in April 2011 and offered a film coda a year later that turned into one of the top-grossing Taiwan films of 2012. Set four years after the events of the series, Final Episode answers the question of whom the heroine ultimately chooses - James Wen's reformed ex-husband who wants to win her back or Chris Wang's new love she may not be ready for?

8. My Own Swordsman
Originally aired on CCTV, My Own Swordsman was an 80-episode sitcom that cleverly skirted censorship by making fun of contemporary issues using a period setting. Four years later, the gang reunited for the show's feature film continuation. This time, the employees of the Tong Fu Inn face a true life-and-death crisis when their town is overrun by a real-estate scam. Though the film represented a huge leap from the original series in production values, the script by Ning Cai Shen retained the Hong Kong-esque nonsense humor that made the show such a hit with fans. Other Chinese directors have attempted their own interpretations of star-studded Hong Kong-style Lunar New Year comedies in the past several years, but nothing has come as close as My Own Swordsman.

9. Eternal Moment
Dubbed China's first idol drama, the 1998 college romance series Cherish Our Love Forever holds a special place in the collective hearts and memories of the post-80s generation. Twelve years later, stars Xu Jinglei and Li Yapeng and director Zhang Yibai reunited for a glossy theatrical sequel that offers not one, not two, but three continuations to the story - and none of them take the easy fan-service route. Instead, Eternal Moment presents three possible realistic outcomes for Yang Wen and Wen Hui's unresolved relationship, scenarios that show that yesterday's hopelessly romantic urban dreamers have grown up into worldly and world-weary adults who still love with all their hearts, but not without real-world reservations.

10. Triumph in the Skies
Newcomers won't have to worry about having to catch 80 episodes of television to understand this highly anticipated feature film version of the popular Hong Kong television drama. Featuring more of the pretty people, glamorous lifestyles and exotic locations that made the original series such a pop culture phenomenon, the Triumph in the Skies film takes the second season's two male stars (Francis Ng and Julian Cheung) and sends them off on separate paths to love – one with a rock star (Sammi Cheng) and the other with a young reckless socialite (Amber Kuo). Also featuring Louis Koo and Charmaine Sheh in a separate storyline, Triumph in the Skies is a gorgeously shot escapist romance that may inspire you to take off on a romantic adventure of your own.

+1. Where Are We Going, Dad?
It's not just dramas that get movie adaptations - variety shows are getting in on the action, too. Where Are We Going, Dad?, the Chinese version of the hit Korean variety show, was a ratings juggernaut in its original airing in 2013, setting a new ratings record. Featuring celebrity dads Jimmy Lin, Wang Yuelun, Guo Tao, Zhang Liang and Tian Liang, and their adorable children playing games and conquering challenges, the show ushered in a new era in Chinese variety programming. Considering its massive success, it's no wonder that it made the leap onto the big screen. Featuring the dads and tots conquering a series of challenges at a zoo, the film was a massive hit during the 2014 Lunar New Year holidays.

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Published April 23, 2015

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  • Region & Language: Hong Kong United States - English
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