The Disguiser

The Disguiser (2015)

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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 199 users
Reviews: 5 users

Focusing on a story of betrayal, romance, friendship, familial ties behind the Sino-Japanese war. Ming Tai is a man from a wealthy family who was trained as a spy and then became part of the Communist Party. With his brother, who is also a double spy agent, they have to succeed in their infiltration and defeat their enemy. ~~ Based off the novel by Zhang Yong.

  • Native title:

  • Also Known as:

    Wèizhuāng zhě; Wei Zhuang Zhe; The Pretender;

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15 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Jan 5, 2016
  • Overall 8.0
  • Story 7.0
  • Acting/Cast 8.5
  • Music 7.0
  • Rewatch Value 8.0
Confession: I watched this because I missed the Nirvana in Fire cast too much. I was very reluctant to watch this because China produces piles and piles of dramas set in 1930s/1940s, and vast amount of them are terrible. I have faith in Shanying production team though. Not to mention it's a spy drama set in 1940s Shanghai, with a focus on a wealthy family who all seem to lead double lives, read more okay I'll roll with this. This drama is actually Japanese/puppet government vs KMT (the party in power in republic era, later fled to Taiwan) vs CPC (current ruling party of China), in case anyone isn't familiar with the power struggle at the time.

I must note that while there is a loveline in the story, I think it's horribly written, so if the family angle doesn't capture you, I don't recommend watching this for romance, because the romance nearly ruined the drama for me. Although it doesn't show up much (comes in around episode 8?), so I guess regardless, one shouldn't watch this for romance.

Hu Ge as Ming Tai is probably what draws most people to this drama. His character here is a spoilt 20 something who would have spent his days horsing around with his friends, picking up girls if he didn't meet Wang Tian Feng. He's immature, impulsive and thinks he knows the best, he does have some sort of character development but not by much. Don't get me wrong, he's very likable, his interaction with his sister, Ming Jing is adorable, and he does look very cool in various outfits; but he's fairly simple compared to other characters.

Jin Dong as Ming Lou is the other main character in this drama. It's him that I love despite this drama's many many faults. He's spectacularly layered as a double agent and he oozes charm. He is basically living in a web of lies and setting up more lies. To convince the audience that he's a double agent, he'd have to have microexpression or looks or something to show that he's not really working for the puppet government. On the other hand, these can't be too obvious or they would easily be caught by characters in the drama and he'd be expose. To begin with, his loyalty was already questionable, it's just he's one of the very few people who can do this and who are willing to.

Even though it wasn't meant to, his relationship with Wang Man Chun is the only romance that interested me in this drama. They were once an item, but Ming Jing broke them up (for reasons that you'll find out). It's almost the plot of Romeo and Juliet except they both changed and have adopted vastly different ideals. His relationship with Ming Cheng, Ah Cheng, is even more fun. I'm struggling to find words to describe it, it's almost mentor-like, since Min Lou is older and more experienced; it's also a schemer/executioner relationship on top of sibling affection and friendship. Regardless, it's a relationship with 100% trust in each other, and this is rather difficult to have in a spy drama.

Wang Kai as Ming Cheng, or Ah Cheng. To the outside world, he's an assistant, almost like a very competent butler. He's actually very much part of the family though. Like Ming Lou, he bears a lot of pressure working for the puppet government, but he wears even more masks because of his peculiar position in the Ming family. Liu Min Tao as Ming Jing, probably the most clueless one in the family, but she's a very capable lady who managed their family business since she was 17. She's graceful and fiercely protective of Ming Tai because he's the youngest and she felt more like a parent than a sister to him.

There are many many characters that I love, like the ruthless Wang Man Chun (played by the gorgeous Wang Ou, I need more drama with you in it please), the adorable Liang Zhong Chun who just want to live his life peacefully in times of turmoil even though his position really wouldn't have let him. The strict and almost cruel teacher, Wang Tian Feng, or the frail looking but actually fierce as hell Yu Man Li (Song Yi! you don't even have a profile on here ;A; <3), I should probably stop before I list all of the characters.

So, how's the story? I like the premise and I really do love the family angle. It's refreshing and their interactions are a lot of fun. The action scenes are pretty well done, even if sometimes, it seems things are done for the sake of looking cool. The schemes near the end seems confusing and might need rewatching, but I don't recommend looking too closely to it. Since all kinds of question and plot hole will pop up. I just accepted what the drama told me and called it a day.

Now I need to complain about my biggest gripes with this show, setting aside plot holes and unrealistic action scenes. Its goddamn stupid romance. I repeat, if there's ever a cut without the romance (if you can understand Mandarin, I recommend bilibili), watch that version instead because it's so so so much better.

I actually didn't have a lot of problems with the love interest to begin with, aside from its cliche situation and cliche lines, it's disappointing that we don't see anything new, but it make sense for the character (wealthy young man). I just can't deal with it when love interest nearly ruin an operation, putting everyone in danger because...because...I don't even know, some kind of upstanding morals? That's not the first nor the last time a character does stupid thing in a drama but it still infuriates me. Not sure if it infuriates me more because I ship some other ship that won't happen.

I never quite bought the love between the two characters and that's weird because I bought the friendship, the familial relationship and even bygone romance, but when it comes to the very visible ongoing romance, I never cared about. I have no idea is it the chemistry or is it the actress' acting ability (because I haven't seen her in anything else).

Side note, I must bring up the fact she was injured during the course of filming and therefore had to use a lot of doubles (5 different people I think?), close up shots while she was clearly in pain. I really respect that she tried her best to film despite being in severe pain and not wanting to delay filming or straight up change actress. But a lot of c-netizens are wondering maybe the drama would have been better if she was swapped out. She had fair amount of scenes but latter parts had to be re-written, her close up shots/acting were terrible and in the end the product was subpar.

Anyways, I've rambled long enough. My 8 honest goes to all the characters I loved in this drama, the amazing Jin Dong and spectacular team behind this drama, it sure has been a ride. Now I'm off to catch up 20 years of c-drama. WHY MUST YOU BE SO LONG c-drama.

This is my first review so if you have any constructive criticism or want to flail about dramas with me, feel free to message/comment.
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8 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Apr 9, 2016
  • Overall 9.5
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 8.0
  • Rewatch Value 8.0
I always been absolutely in love with spy stories, specially when in comes to WWII. this masterpiece tells story of Ming family, an old and prestigious merchant family of Shanghai during the Japanese occupation time and their efforts to protect their country from Japanese invaders together with their love for each eachother, difference of opinions and their confrontations. I am still fascinated by the family bond between them who gathered together and read more made Ming family which was more than blood made on love and understanding.

writing is genuine, with a fast pace, full of traps as it was a dangerous era for spies and patriots. as the drama unfold new twists come and you are always kept on your toes to know who works for who and who will survive this.

And for the cast, If you are like me and after Nirvana in Fir left impatient with the desire to see more from Jin Dong, you have a heavenly time here. Ming Lou is what Mei Chang Su was for Nirvana in Fir; He is mysterious, mature, sharp (cynical even at times) with the mind which able to see the slightest details of the possibilities ahead. He is one of the most complicated character of the dramaland and a delight to watch. He's my bais in this drama. and his interaction with his sidekick Ming Chen (played by Wang Kai) is one of the best I've seen ever. the only disappointment for me was the romance story between funny Ming Tai (played by Hu Ge) and stiff communist girl, he fall in love and I didn't get it! but all the way women of the story are badass too and cool to watch. I wished Ming family adopted a girl too just imagine such a badass she would have been.

in a nutshell it's a spy drama plus great twists and some historical lessons on China in that tumultuous era. It has drama, family, friendship, comedy and an exceptionally intellectual plot.just be aware that story is kind of draggy in a few last episodes. and maybe a bit rushed ending, still a great drama ride.

for rewatch value I started to rewatch it again just as I finished it.
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Make a Recommendation More recs (1)Recommendations

Both dramas have well chosen cast, focus on historical side of story, more accurately, both stories are about fighting agains Japanese. Authentic mise-en-scene, stunning cinematography.
Recommended by Kornelija
Similar era (Japanese occupation), different background (Korean and Chinese). Both have double agents and action, but nobody's wearing a mask in The Disguiser though
Recommended by bossmama

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Comments (33)

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  • Reply
    Hoopoe 4 days ago

    what is the difference between 41ep. version and 48ep. version of this drama?

  • Reply
    ErisFerris3 Mar 24, 2017 - edited
    Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    Uyen Phuong Truong Mar 4, 2017

    So much unnecessary angst. To the point it's frustrating sometimes. Nevertheless, The Disguiser is still a good drama. The plot is not really tight but (most of) the characters are interesting (and admirable, in some ways). And the cast did a great job. Ming Tai is annoying but Hu Ge made him quite likable and definitely badass. Jin Dong were the star. The rest were convincing.
    I started watching this because I missed Nirvana in Fire too much. Now I missed it more.

  • Reply
    JeffryHartaji Feb 11, 2017

    what an ending...

  • Reply
    ash k Feb 7, 2017
    Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    bossmama Aug 30, 2016

    It's smart and crafty, my favorite part is how the brothers are all badass doing missions and scheming and doing all kind of double agents stuff but when they're at home they act so domestic. Story probably lacks depth and sometimes characters follow drama logic rather than real life logic but they inject enough humanity and dimension to these characters.

  • Reply
    KMR Jul 29, 2016 - edited

    I finally decided to watch this. It's just the beginning but I can tell I already love Da jie!
    Also it's like the cast was pulled off NIF. lol

    Update: I don't know what it is but I can't get into the story as much as I would like. I usually enjoy smart mind games so much, but here I just feel tensed, anxious, nothing else. It's not enjoyable. Gosh Nirvana in fire is starting to be like a drama curse to me. I keep being unsatisfied after tasting a drama like that. :((( Even a good drama like this one doesn't feel that good. I want some Mei Changsu level of scheming and cold strikes. I want my jaw falling off in face of a character's brillance and genius!!!!!

    It's still a very good drama though...except for the romance. Like many others I find Ming Tai's love line so boring, so bland, he has more chemistry with the other girl, this line is a total fail so far. lol

  • Reply
    silvermcv Jul 16, 2016

    Going to watch this since I just saw Nirvana in Fire, which I loved, and this drama shares a lot of the same actors

  • Reply
    MaryamDH Jun 10, 2016

    ok I only watched 9 ep and it was amazing! I can't give any opinion about the rest but till now it's a 10/10 for me.

  • Reply
    Dee Apr 14, 2016

    Superb acting in both Disguiser and Nirvana, but I still prefer Nirvana. It has elegance and subtlety n fei liu is just adorable. In Disguiser, my fave is Ming jing, she should get an award for portraying the classy doting sister n head of the ming household.

  • Reply
    nuka Apr 3, 2016 - edited

    except love story between MinTai and the stiff innocent communist girl I love everything in this drama, the Ming family interactions and inside political games are so interesting just the love lines! loved to had more for Ming Lou and or maybe something for Ah Cheng. Ming Lou is my bias in this story, Jin Dong is doing a brilliant job here. now I want to see more from him.

  • Reply
    dore430 Mar 24, 2016 - edited

    Not all Chinese dramas and/or movies are good; but when they get it right, they produce an excellent, amazing, and better than a good one!!! The actors, from the leads to the lesser roles, portrayed their parts superbly! For some reason, Ming Tai (Hu Ge) reminded me of Choi ShiWon with his quirky facial expressions and sincerity... I will miss watching the unfolding of the plot, the twists and turns. I won't forget this drama for a long time... Now I must see more from these actors, some of whom are in "Nirvana in Fire".

    • Reply
      nuka Apr 3, 2016

      haven't you watched Nirvana In Fire yet? if not, watching that is a must!

    • Reply
      dore430 Apr 4, 2016

      I'm on Episode 16; but so far, I still think "The Disguiser" is better... I may change my mind by the time I get to the end ;)

  • Reply
    sunflower63 Mar 20, 2016 - edited

    The reason why I decided to watch this drama was because it had many of the cast of Nirvana in Fire. I have to say that I wasn't disappointed infact I enjoyed this more. The main reason is that I enjoyed and appreciated the plot from start to finish whereas with Nirvana I only enjoyed the second half.
    There were some really clever moments also in this drama, maybe not as sophisticated as in Nirvana but still very enjoyable nonetheless.
    I really appreciated the relationships within the Ming family and my favourite character was by far Ming Lou who was witty, clever and very ironic most of the time and also the most complicated character of the whole drama.
    I had already noticed and appreciated Jin Dong in Nirvana but his character there was shown only in a few episodes whereas in this drama he was totally stealing the scene.
    On the whole I never got bored and it was a very pleasant watch for me. :)

  • Reply
    JayRandom Jan 22, 2016

    Good overall, starts off strong, but falls off near the end when things are revealed, depends on how you interpret it. The psychological warfare isn't nearly as intelligent/genuine as in Nirvana in Fire, a drama with much of the same cast.

    Story and characters are all over the place, there is consistency in the beginning and sometime around the middle.

  • Reply
    Sayuri Dec 22, 2015 - edited

    Where do you guys watch this? I'm at episode 24 and now that it gets better and better Viki has deleted all episodes :(

    • Reply
      DragonAlien Dec 23, 2015

      Viki has brought back all episodes subbed, just so you all know. ;)


  • Country:

  • Type:

  • Episodes:

  • Aired:

    Aug 31, 2015 to Sep 28, 2015
  • Network:

    Hunan TV
  • Duration:

    45 min.


  • Score:

    8.5 (scored by 199 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


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