During the Republican era, a river is haunted by inexplicable occurrences. Dun De You is a policeman who succeeds his master 'Old River God' and has inherited his ability to weed out the guilty whenever he lights the pipe. He ends up being suspected for the murder of a distinguished chairman whose son Ding Mao joins hands with him to uncover the truth. Together with some unlikely partners, they begin an investigation that leads them to an incident twenty years ago. ~~ Chinese web series adapted from a novel by Tian Xia Ba Chang 天下唱霸 who also wrote the Candle in the Tomb. Add Synopsis In Spanish
Cast & Credits
Let me tell you straight up other than having the same genre as Mystic Nine(and same Lt.Zhao) there is nothing similar of TM to Mystic Nine at all. This is a masterpiece compared to Mystic Nine and I can't believe that people don't talk about this more. I have seen that those who have watched both Mystic Nine and this always prefer this over it but it's only that minority.
The main reason for this to actually be better is the full fast paced story line with completely lovable characters. Starting from our MC Guo De You, he was simply amazing. He had everything I loved in my MCs. He was fine mix of intelligent and mischievous and was hilarious to boot. This was my first time watching Li Xian and now I'm an official fan of him. Having watched Medical Examiner Dr.Qin and Only Side by Side with you just for him I can't wait to see him in Go Go Squid too(which is I'm impatiently waiting for cuz it's based on one of my favorite books). Next we have Mao Ding. He was the perfect Dr.Watson to our Sherlock. Being a rich son didn't make the least annoying, he had his own agenda but that didn't mean he totally rebelled either. He cared enough for his company when needed. Next up is my favorite in the whole story, Gu Ying. I swear I didn't love female MC as much as I loved since Zheng Shuang in Love o2o. Despite the little knick of hers to totally follow Guo De You, this girl was the best. Not that I'm comlpaining about that either. She was the perfect badass leading lady we needed. She had so much spunk that I felt even if they put Guo De You and Mao Ding together they can't fight as well as her. She was hilarious to boot too. I saw few people complaining about her clothes but man I loved every single one of her outfits. That girl rocked them. I mean not everyone can have a freaking bird nest on top of their heads and make it look bad ass. Our second leading lady Xiao Lan Lan was the perfect rich girl and once again like Mao Ding she didn't act the spoilt rich girl. She had her own strengths and pulled similar weight of the group. Not only these character shone on their own but when you put them together in one screen, the chemistry was off charts. Each character fit with the other perfectly, The bromance, the romance (or lack of it) was perfect. Each adn every character added something to the story to make it amazingly balanced, from the ineffective police head to Master Guo to the Head Shaman to even Chairman Ding.
Talking about the story, like I told before it was fast paced and didn't leave the audience hanging even for a second. For me every single scene was engaging and believe me after having more than a decade of experience of watching all Asian dramas this is a first where I didn't skip even a second of a drama. The mystery kept me guessing even till the last moment and you won't believe what kind of secrets come up in the episodes at all.
The cinematography was also perfect for the tone of the series with a dark, aura being around through out the drama with perfectly balanced colors here and there. The republican China was adapted better here for me than that of Mystic Nine and we don't see the normally seen parties and high end houses but we get to see the more street life giving this a nice touch. The clothes were on point and I loved how different the four were in their own statuses.
And can I tell that I love the ending song. Jam Hsiao did an amazing job with that and it perfectly blended with the whole series.
This is also the first time I have written such a big review to a drama and first time I've given a complete 10 for everything. Another first fir me was rewatching the whole thing as soon as I finished it. I opened up a netflix account just to watch the rest of the drama. Take my word for this and do not miss this drama. Have no doubts when watching this drama. You will not regret it even for a second. Now patiently waiting for second season as I've heard rumors that it's been green lit. Hopefully the full cast returns for at least 4 episodes to give us closure for that open ending.
What I liked about this drama was how Tientsin itself feels like a character and this is a credit to the attention to detail in regards to the production/set design. Just as the characters may be of afraid of what dangers may be lurking in the water, there are also dangers hiding in the shadows of Tientsin. Throughout the drama, we are taken to seedy areas such as a brothel, prison and even a literal black market. It is assumed that since Tientsin is a coastal city, it is isolated from the outside world. As a result, they have developed their own customs, culture, traditions and superstitions that they strongly believe in that are free from any outside influence. However, in more recent times, with the development of ports and canal system, outside/foreign influences are starting to seep in. It was certainly interesting to see how characters that never left Tientsin and those that were educated abroad/experience with the outside world collided and came together in solving the mystery.
Speaking of the characters, Tientsin Mystic has assembled an interesting group of them. I briefly read up on Taoism (Read: skimmed the Wikipedia page) and learned that women shamans play an important part in Taoism. I think the reaction to Gu Ying may be mixed, some may find her annoying but I liked what her character brought to the drama. We're given the reason as to why she constantly follows around Guo De You but she also plays a role beyond merely being a love interest for his character. It was interesting to see the rituals/practices that Gu Ying and her mother engaged in. More than that, I really enjoyed the character of Xiao Lan Lan and the similarities she shared with Dao Ming. Both have prominent family backgrounds but are trying to break free from the roles prescribed to them. The drama also deals with cults and brainwashing. Xiao Lan Lan works as a newspaper reporter and even though her father is the Secretary-General with influence over Tientsin which includes the newspaper (manipulating the information so as to not cause panic amongst the people), Xiao Lan Lan remains committed to finding the truth.
Beyond all that, the drama is just a lot of fun despite dealing with some dark subject matter at times. The drama mixes a variety of elements such as: supernatural/mysticism, action (there are some great setpieces that take place in the hospital/prison), romance, comedy, mystery all with its own distinct touch. Fair warning, the drama does end on a cliffhanger but unlike other Chinese dramas that have done the same, this one does have a confirmed second season. Credit and admiration goes to the production team for rendering Tientsin and this world so vividly, a world that I would be happy to return to.