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.
Cast & Credits
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.
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.