I had extremely high expectations for General and I. I'm a long-time fan of Wallace Chung; I've liked him since his role as Nalan Xingde in The Secret History of Kangxi. After I heard that he was going to take up the role of Chu Beijie in General and I, I promptly went to read the entire novel. The novel itself certainly impressed, but I can't say the same for the drama read moreadaptation.
The reason why the novel stood out is because of the balance of power between the male and female leads. They are intellectual equals, quite unlike Kdramas where the male leads tend to be more dominant, and unlike the trend of female-centric Cdramas where the female leads tend to be smarter while the male leads are really just supporting characters who wield huge power to lend a hand in times of emergency (Princess Weiyoung). I think they tried to maintain the same balance in the drama as well, and I'll give them a little bit of credit for that.
From now on, I'll talk about the divergences between the novel and the drama, and my thoughts on whether these are sound/positive modifications:
1. First up, the character conceptualisation. In the book, the Jing An - He family was executed by the Yan king because their achievements are so great that the Yan king finds it unsettling. Chu Beijie did not play a part in inciting the Yan king. He merely pushed the decision by deliberating losing the battle which made the Yan king even more uneasy. There's no talk in the novel too about Chu Beijie wanting to cease battle to protect the civilians. In fact, I remember distinctly that Chu Beijie wanted to expand the territories of Jin; he was battle-hungry. There is clearly a huge difference in the personalities of the character for the drama and the book. I can see why it was changed. It's to make Chu Beijie a more likable character who regards the welfare of the civilians above everything. Personally, I prefer a male lead who isn't this "perfect" and one-dimensional really. I don't like this, but I can see people preferring it. The biggest change in Chu Beijie is how weak he's become in the drama. He was captured and tortured three times! For his love, of course, very "romantic", but I do prefer the book where he was a lot smarter and didn't have to rely on the damsel to save him in times of distress at all. Bai Pingting also didn't need any rescuing in the novel as well. On the other hand, the drama just turned into this cycle of Chu Beijie saving Bai Pingting, then vice-versa, and rinse and repeat again.
2. Next, we have the process of falling in love. Oh god. This is probably the most annoying aspect of the drama. In the book, Bai Pingting was captured by slave traders during her escape (when the Yan king was trying to kill the He family). She was then sold to the Hua family in Jin and became attendant to the
young mistress. She caught the attention of Chu Beijie while playing the zither. Chu Beijie thinks that she is Miss Hua, they fall in love, and Miss Hua makes use of Chu Beijie's affection towards "her" to cancel her previous engagement so that she can marry her beloved. Bai Pingting's servant identity was revealed, and she eventually stayed in Chu Beijie's manor. Even though the two of them are in love, they are wary of each other. Bai Pingting wants to know her young master He Xia's whereabouts whereas Chu Beijie knows that Bai Pingting isn't who she claims to be (Yang Feng). After some mutual scheming and whatnot, they separate. Isn't this a refreshing storyline? But in the drama, they chose to make the leads childhood sweethearts. If I wanted to watch childhood sweethearts, any bloody Kdrama will do. Why add in such a cliched plot device? Damn. Furthermore, Chu Beijie recognised Bai Pingting as the little girl he met, and decided that he must FORCE her to marry him. And somehow she gradually loves him back, for no rhyme or reason at all. What the hell?
3. The addition of a lot of vertices to the love polygon. Jealous, unscrupulous female character who loves the male lead, check. Another female character who falls for the male lead while the leads are separated, check. In the novel, it was just a love square and it was complicated enough already.
These are just some of the more obvious changes. And all adverse ones in my opinion. The drama honestly would've been much better if it was more streamlined and stuck to the novel like gum to the underside of the table. 62 episodes is way too much. I guess they had no choice but to extend the story with such stupid tropes to keep it going. It's obvious that the production is trying to stretch out the story to get more profit, and I'm worried that more C-dramas will turn to this trend as well.
To add on, here are some of the flaws in production:
1. A glaring one is the green screens that they used. The first episode had really well cheoreographed fight scenes with pretty natural looking scenery. From then on, it just seemed like a lot of the characters were cut and pasted onto the background. There are even scenes where the main characters are keyed onto a background with the calefares on it. That's just ridiculous! It's so awkward to watch. So much money pumped into the production and this is the result? I can understand that Angelababy was pregnant and perhaps they had to speed up filming, thus leading to this. But I can't help but feel cheated. Looking at the trailers alone, I expected a gorgeous-looking drama on or exceeding Princess Weiyoung's level. Nevertheless, the end-product was far from that. Imo, if you aren't going to tell a decent story, at least make the drama decently pretty. G&I was neither interesting nor beautiful.
2. Also, the dubbing. Wallace's dubber is just horrible. He has this slightly unorthodox pronunciation, kind of Cantonese-like, which makes him (actually, his voice) sticks out like a sore thumb. Plus, the voice totally doesn't suit the character. You can definitely get used to it, but it took me more than 10 episodes (still don't like it).
3. Styling. I'm pretty sure Princess Yaotian looks great in real life, but her styling in the drama does nothing for her. It looks horrible! The guys' long hairstyles looked like crap on all of them except Ze Yi and Fan Lu as well. I mean, Wallace Chung and Sun Yizhou looked fantastic with the man bun I have no idea why they had to give them the long hair/dreadlocks. I know it's to differentiate between the different territories but really it's so inconsistent that it's useless.
4. Chu Beijie's deliberate act-cool moves *cringe* (dramas need to stop doing this to their male leads). Forcibly trying to make your male leads "cool" tends to achieve the exact opposite effect. Also, why does he need a mask?
Now here comes the positives. Well, the non-negatives. Some of these are not even well done but just good enough:
1. The cute loveline between Fan Lu and Zui Ju. I didn't pay much attention to this subplot in the novel itself. However, the actors portraying the two characters actually brought more appeal to this storyline in the drama compared to the novel. Zui Ju is probably the most likable character in this entire drama, despite the bad acting (so, so bad). I was worried that they were going to alter this storyline when they gave Chu Moran and Zui Ju a lot of interactions during the time Chu Beijie broke away from the Jin court. Thankfully, they didn't change it that much.
2. The acting. Angelababy gets a lot of flak for being inexpressive. I don't actually think that she is thaaat bad (that being said, she's quite bad). I'm just slightly bothered by her constant smile, which just distracts me a little when the occasion clearly does not call for it. It may also be an after effect of plastic surgery though. Imo, she improved towards the end of the drama. I also have to give her some leeway for getting an acting coach. Hey, at least she knows how awful her acting is and is trying to do something about it (alright, I'm just being sympathetic). Everyone else were just on par. I also disagree that Wallace was great in the drama like what many say. With such a bad story, you really can't judge. The duo above (Zui Ju and Fan Lu) were cute but they are obviously very green. Zui Ju, in particular, was terrible. I'm generally not picky about the acting as long as it doesn't come across as unnatural, so in this aspect the drama gets a passing mark (barely) in my book.
3. Yaotian's ending. I liked He Xia and Princess Yaotian's romance more in the novel, even though the author didn't really touch on it much. In the drama, the two had very little chemistry (actually, chemistry was virtually non-existent for both pairings). Yaotian's ending is the same, but the way it ended was slightly different. I think they didn't want to make He Xia look too bad. But I actually like how "evil" he is in the book, and how tragic this pairing became. I thought it added more flavour to the story.
4. The OST. I must say, they have some really nice songs. My favourite is the duet by William Wei and Claire Kuo, followed by Tan Jing's song. The opening and ending themes don't appeal to me though.
In summary, I think the drama definitely falls short of expectations. It had good source material, but did not make good use of it. It had a huge budget, but didn't spend enough effort trying to refine the drama. If anything, the production itself just screams unprofessional to me. I do wish that they won't rush the filming so much, and gave more time to post-production as well. It could have been at least a pretty drama to look at, but now it's just... a huge disappointment. I usually write reviews only when I really like a drama, or when I hate it (don't ask me why I watch it all even though I dislike it, it's a childish question). General and I belongs to the latter. I'll give it a personal 3.0~4.0, but I'll scale this to a MDL rating of 6.5 .
-- Footnotes --
 The drama has a rating of 3.6 on Douban as of the time this review is written which is far closer to my personal grade but MDL just has biased ratings. You can see it. Candle in the Tomb, a fantastic drama, is rated 8.3 on MDL and 8.2 on Douban. G&I, an awful drama in comparison, is still rated 8.0 on MDL but only 3.6 on Douban. Therefore, if you are a longtime Cdrama watcher, 3.6 is probably fair and what you should take into account when deciding whether to watch or not. (Just revised my rating to 6.5, because 7 sounds average, but the drama is really below average.)
What an absolute load of bullshit this show was. I don't think I have skipped so many episodes and fast forwarded so many scenes in any show before in my life. I had such a bad taste left in my mouth after I ended this, that I had to quickly download Master's Sun and use that as a relief to swallow this catastrophe down.
To be completely honest, I think the premise read moreof this show is quite exciting and I bet the novel it's based on would be something spectacular. I will even admit that I really liked the idea behind the General's and Ping Ting's character. They were supposed to be strong and witty people in their own right and that was essentially what lured me in. But by God, that's not what this drama really ended up being.
Matters were made worse by the horrible acting. There is a lot of negative stigma attached with AngelaBaby but I did my best to keep an open mind and not be influenced by all the drama. Unfortunately, it was a wasted effort because she literally cannot act. Half of the time she's a blank board and in the other half she looks like a psychopath with her crazy eyes and creepy smile. I liked what her character was supposed to be but she destroyed it quite effectively.
Wallace Chung is a good actor but all the edgy scenes really didn't make him cool instead Chu Bei Jie mostly just comes off as an asshole who's trying and failing to assert his dominance over everybody.
The overdramatization makes everything more unbearable. With all that flying in the air, jumping over mountains and exaggerated facial expressions, General and I can't possibly expect the viewers to take its bullshit seriously. I watch Asian Dramas for their sincerity and poignancy, not whatever this superficial serialization was offering. So fucking disappointed.
It didn't help that I started watching it in between episodes of Eternal Love, which is why its flaws were even more noticeable than they would've been if an incredible show was not there for comparison. I really tried to give it a lot of chances but by the eighth chance, I thought it better for my sanity to skip most parts.
This is an unpopular opinion and if you are someone who has diligently watched all of its episodes and have arrived on a different conclusion, then good for you. Boos should always do their yous.
Both dramas about the female lead finding clever and unique ways of solving problems.Both seem to constantly be involved in trouble and always need the male lead to save and protect them.Both male leads of the story are basically crazily in love with their partner and would risk their lives for them. Both also involves harming/poisoning each other to indirectly save each other.
So disappointed in this drama, the novel was amazing had so much expectation at first but then this drama just dragged out way too much also idk if it's me or what but Angelababy acting wasn't that great however her costumes were amazing. I watched it till the end only because of Wallace Chung but still he couldn't save the show *sigh*
No it's not just you. Anyone with any expectations for acting will think she's terrible - though she did improve and wasn't all terrible 62 episodes later. She is breathtaking tho - which isn't what Bai Pingting is supposed to be in the novel/manhua.
Tell me about it! I was genuinely happy when they first announced the airing of this drama, FINALLY we're gonna see a female lead who is described as very plain but her brains is what made a man much more beautiful than her fall heads over heels for her, just to be given some overused drama trope about childhood love. Sigh
They took a GREAT novel and turned it into wasted potential
Currently watching this. It's great so far. But I gotta say, the execution scene (ep 5) where they swapped the body and nobody found it weird was full of sshit...
And the fake 100,000 men (ep 23) was a very cheap trick to get out of the besiege. Even if none of the enemy soldiers saw Bai Ping Ting and her soldiers putting up the scarecrows, where did they manage to get 100,000 uniforms, helmets, and spears?? I'm enjoying the drama so far so don't get me wrong, it's just that I feel cheated.
EDIT: too long and draggy ~ should have ended with like 35 episodes.
I feel like princess Yaotian gets a lot of hate but, TBH I feel she has great potential to be a good ruler (how diplomatic she is, and how willing she is to sacrifice). Her only downfall was her love for Hexia.
p.s. the few YT/HX scenes made me cry more than all the CBJ/BPT scenes
Guys watch Eternal Love/ Ten Miles of Peach BLosson it's amazing I never skipped a moment of it...if you want to watch a good C-historical with beautiful cinematography,outfits and GREAT PLOT I recommend that if you were disappointed in this one
The best thing for me from General and I is honeslty the outfits and THE OPENING SONG Ugh sooo good
I'm on episode 51, and I'm irritated that this drama is forcing itself to get to 62 episodes, when it is a 40 episode drama at most. This started out with so much promise and I really enjoyed it up to mid point. Loved the chemistry between Angela and Wallace and loved the two main characters. BUT this drama drags after midway and smart characters start acting selfish and stupid, making bad judgements and decisions which are not in keeping with their character; too many assumptions and misunderstandings, dialogue becomes lame and non-sensical, too many frustrating scenes and too many scenes that don't add to the story or action. With few exceptions, the hero and heroine are often surrounded by idiots who are no help in a crisis and actually get them into trouble. ***SPOILER*** Her best friend Yang Feng is one such example. I got so sick of her that when she was attempting to commit suicide I prayed for her to be successful and hoped that Ping Ting would not return in time to stop her, because then we would not have to hear her sniveling and crying and complaining.
Then there is Bai Ping Ting's fondness for acting the 'suffering noble idiot' which is boring and inconsistent with her character! The hero and heroine are portrayed as being so smart and yet they don't clue into the people that use and abuse them .....I could go on but I won't. In short what started out to be sweet is now a sour taste in my mouth. I'm disappointed because I love Chung Wallace, and even though his acting is the usual superb, the rest of the drama has too many flaws. I'm going to try and read the book to assuage my deep dissatisfaction!
Angela's acting was pretty bad tbh she was stiff and had the a blank facial expression but the love story line and scenes with Wallace was amazing.
It honestly could have been cut down to 40 eps I felt like every episode had a handful of unnecessary parts
I agree with you about the length of the drama. I had to skip the Bai Lan State scenes with He Xia, Princess Bai and Prime Minister. He Xia started to look very handsome and lean in the last few episodes.