Chen Chang Sheng was abandoned in a flowing river and found by a Taoist monk. Plagued with an incurable disease, he is fated not to live past the age of 20. Chang Sheng leaves his home to find a cure. During the trials and tribulations of his journey, he is joined by Xu You Rong and Bai Luo Heng.
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I was hoping to ease the urge while waiting Nirvana on Fire 2. This was a huge disappointment in comparison.
That is the underlying theme running behind the events in this drama.
There is CCS, a young man destined to die by the age of 20.
There is XYR, a saintess whose ‘match made from Heaven’ is a disciple with the blood of a dragon.
There is Nanke, a demon princess who no one cared about.
There is Guojiao Academy, which has been closed due to traitorous acts of its members.
It might seem that the events will follow its natural path, but the characters remain persistent in their endeavours… Who knows what the final result will be?
This is an epic drama, which sustains its quality throughout the series. It seems to me that there are three main types of dramas: ones which are slow to begin and escalate to a massive havoc/excitement towards the end, ones which begin very well and dwindle towards the end and, finally, ones which keep you interested from the beginning and keep getting better. This drama falls into the last category – I felt that this drama had a ‘period’ of a few episodes: every 3-5 episodes there will be a major event to which all previous events led – that event/difficulty will disappear/be resolved and soon another one will appear. Having said that, I must say that the first dozen or so episodes was the most interesting to me – but that is because most of main character development took place then. Exciting events keep happening until the very end though.
PLOT, CHARACTERS AND ACTING
The plot itself is very interesting. CCS, a boy who grew up in a remote settlement sets off to the capital to change his destiny. He meets a group of talented, devoted and influential friends, as well as some formidable enemies.
All the characters are very interesting and have a story of their own and many of them change during the journey – we get to experience things like betrayal, following temptations vs upright attitude, responsibility of bringing glory to one’s family, striving for the best in spite of no one believing in the possibility of success, and a fair dose of unrequited love.
This drama has to offer a lot of different flavours: bittersweet mixture of a little silliness (Luoluo is great! Same goes for 36…) and some very serious struggles and moral dilemmas. All the main actors were great. Some were slightly caricatural (like Janice Wu, who, as I said, was adorable), but it all fit the purpose.
There were few annoying(ly evil) characters, but they had minor roles which mostly only lasted a few episodes. Some accuse the main female lead of too few facial expressions, but I think that her acting was not unnatural and suited her role as a saintess. I think that Luhan did a great job – he was pensive and sharp at the same time. Final note - whilst romance was present (and there were a few other potential/existing pairings), it was not the main focus of the drama (as opposed to friendship, wisdom and power), so I do not recommend FotD if you were to only watch it for the romance.
Most costumes were really impressive (though there are scenes when their shoes appear slightly funny). The filming locations/landscapes are worth to become tourist attractions (if they truly exist in real world…) – some of them were absolutely breathtaking! The animations were fairly simple (I think that most of the flying was done with wires), but it all remained relatively natural.
The soundtrack was great – I was a little sceptical of the opening song, but grew to like it over the 52 episodes. A really nice aspect of the soundtrack was that it used the same tune every time when some grand spiritual practice events took place – it added grandeur to the moment…
A note on language: probably quite typically of xianxia dramas, this drama uses quite archaic/formal language and has a lot of drama-world-specific vocabulary. But it is not terribly varied, so if you have an intermediate grasp of Mandarin, you can give it a go (though the conversations in the royal court might prove difficult). But I would hope the outstanding few episodes will get subtitled soon! Overall, a very nice, well-rounded drama. It might not be a masterpiece, but it shows solid effort from all aspects – from plot and acting through costumes and sets until music.