The Story of Ming Lan (2018) poster

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  • Score: 8.9 (scored by 1,984 users)
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Ongoing 73/73
Jordan
77 people found this review helpful
Feb 9, 2019
73 of 73 episodes seen
Ongoing 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 10

The Flower That Blooms In Adversity Is the Rarest One of All

The Legend of Ming Lan is a very complex and meaningful slice of life drama. My review is split into two parts: a summary and analysis.

I. Summary
The synopsis is misleading. ‘Mistreatment’ is a very general statement. That can mean anything. The titular character suffers from neglect from her family; her grandmother fills that need: she loves her and cherishes her. The titular character is both sensible and practical: she acknowledges the reality of her situation and the world she lives in and chooses to be smart about it instead of letting it define her. The titular character makes the deliberate choice to blend into obscurity: her mission is to avoid attention because she learned at a very young age that standing out can invite danger and I think this is a way of taking back her control of her life in the best way she can. She presents herself as a submissive, dreamy person never interested in the things that make others scheme. As a result people think she is nonthreatening and even foolish for not wanting more i.e. 'ambitious'. Thus, about half of the drama instead focuses on her family and the personal actions of her relatives. Like a sponge she absorbs everything, learning about peoples behaviors, tricks, motivations and good/bad choices. On the other hand Gu Ting Ye (future husband) experiences a lot of abuse from his family, but his gender means he can’t take Ming Lan’s route—there are different expectations on him—and as a male, physical punishment is far more common. The second half then follows Ming Lan after she begins married life and how she works very hard to protect her family, support her husband, and finally step into the limelight as a formidable person who will fiercely protect the people around her and is unafraid to seek justice in an eye-for-an eye kind of way (for extreme crimes) instead of burying them. The second act really steps up the ante as Ming Lan has much bigger fires to put out and the stakes and risks are bigger, especially since her husband becomes important to emperor, and that carries a risk all on its own (i.e. the higher you rise, the harder you fall).

II. Analysis
I do not think everyone would agree with me that this drama is perfect because I strongly believe that whether you love, like, or hate it boils down to personal preference. For example, I did not like the drama Love 020 because it was not my style—too light—but it succeeded in what it intended to deliver very well so I ranked it an 8. In contrast, Perfect Couple was not only not my type but I think poorly executed so I gave it a low rating. This drama more than succeeds in what it wants to do and I loved it. With these examples I want the reader to know I am trying to be frank and fair with my review but I truly enjoyed the show so there may be some bias.

For you, the reader, I think there are some important things you may wish to know before making this 70+ episode commitment:

1) The titular character does not receive the majority of screen time in the first half (in my opinion). The titular character does not receive the majority of lines. The titular character is the focus of the show though.

2)The drama uses the rigid moral rules of the day as a source for conflict regularly. Filial piety, virtue, family reputation, and roles (being a good/bad daughter; good/bad wife; good/bad son; good/bad citizen)

3)The writers/directors (I think) attempt to tell a strongly character driven drama, meaning conflict is resolved through dialogue. Characters are consistent. Events don’t disappear from the story line, they stay with people for the rest of the show. Just like people, characters remember. Characters are impacted by choices other people make, sometimes in a life changing way. The last ten episodes are more action based as big end games begin to unravel and play out.

Conclusion:
I have a deep appreciation for this story. I think the acting was amazing, the writing and presentation, down to where people stand in a given scene, was done with remarkable attention to detail. Characters are intelligent and not easy to trick. The acting was extremely believable.

If you want a love story told on a grand scale (Ashes of Love, Eternal Love) this may not be for you because romance is just one of many aspects of this drama. In addition, if you want something light, I would steer clear. But this is not a palace drama (Empress of China) because the plotting is not anywhere near that level, and throughout all 70+ episodes, only a couple of people die—people are not dropping like flies.

For those looking for romance, I cans say that an important aspect of Ming Lan's character is she never wants to inconvenience anyone or rely on others. The male lead prove through his actions that he is someone she can inconvenience and rely on so their love story is sweet.

I think potential viewers should consider these points because often people start a drama and are frustrated with plot and speed. Others may call it a slow burner but it never felt that way to me. I eagerly await(ed) each new episode and the episodes flew by. I never fast forwarded. I don't know what to watch after this!

Finally,
I am making a project to review every episode, so if you have questions about plot you can find them there but just be warned these episode summaries contain massive spoilers. Because of a bug that has not been fixed yet, I can't have paragraph breaks so I have used the (.............) method to delineate breaks.

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Completed
jwinlyn
23 people found this review helpful
Jan 9, 2019
73 of 73 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 9.0

A rich tapestry of Song dynasty life

From the writers that brought Battle of Changsha, you can expect a tightly-woven, authentic slice of life story. Each character and plot line, even the minor ones, have been written with so much raw detail that you feel every undercurrent of emotion simmering within. It is for viewers to sip and savour like fine wine - the longer it takes to ferment, the more intoxicating the fragrance. The subtle nuances, layered plot lines and complex characters...they all come together to paint a picture of quiet beauty, like our MC Ming Lan. Some viewers complain the pace is slow, but you'll be surprised how quickly you get drunk.

The acting is top-notch, delivered by a superb cast of veterans and not just pretty faces, lending justice to the well-written characters. These are not characters to fawn over, but you can imagine every flawed individual in the flesh, because that's how good and how real the acting is. There are no caricatures of stereotypical villains or dumb self-sacrificial heroes. The covert glances, slight hand gestures, undulating voices and variable facial expressions are all on point to hit right in the feels. Even the maids and servants can have their own unique charisma.

Not to mention, other aspects like the music is simple but sophisticated without the usual lyrical overtures of historical dramas. The instrumental scores are effective in supporting rather than outshining the storyline. The costumes and sets are a feast for the eyes. The cinematography is exquisite. I personally love the soft sepia tones created by lots of warm natural light. There is a lot of effort spent on shooting every scene to maximize the visual impact.

Ming Lan is the definite, must-watch family drama!

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Completed
Meep
11 people found this review helpful
Feb 14, 2019
79 of 73 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.0
The Story Of Ming Lan is in the end not just a story about Ming Lan, but about her family, her friends, and the world she inhabits. And what a world it is. There is a rare drama that is able to paint so many characters so vividly and so carefully that you feel like you get to know all of them.

There is a care to the staging of each shot that I miss in many dramas, but most especially historical ones with their sumptuous costumes and often heightened palace drama and I am glad to have found it here. For once you can tell that someone took great care to tell a story not only through dialogue but also through the power of the visual medium.

This is enhanced by the across the board fantastic acting of every main and side-character. It truly felt like these characters lived the life they were protraying and that each character had their own motivations and goals, completely separate from the titular main character and her goals.
Even, or maybe especially the main antagonists (possibly with the exception of Manniang, I still have to think about how I feel about her) were all intelligent, crafty and worthy foes for our main characters.

It also helps there is a multitude of great female characters in this, so many complicated women who desired power, fought for their place in this world by all kinds of means, some who truly just were good and dependable, some who were weak and easily manipulated, but not evil at heart.
That is one thing I will definitely take away from this drama, an appreciation to all the varied and interesting female characters who had their own journey in this story, who got the opportunity to learn and grow, or return to their roots.

I was very appreciative of the fact that the actors could use their own voices, which is not to disparage the Chinese Voice Actors, but the actors being able to fully use their bodies to act really came across, especially from the Qin Stepmother. She was a tour de fource and a half and I tip my hat to her.

Lastly I would say that this is not a drama that will be for everyone, the pacing ebbs and flows at times and timejumps can be a bit disorienting, sometimes very slow and then suddenly a lot happens and we move on without getting much time to digest, but I think overall this show more than delivered on what it promised to be at the beginning: a sojourn through a young woman's life from her early childhood to her adulthood as she navigates her world around her and all the challenges that come with that.
It's not a great sweeping romance, nor is it a heartpounding thriller, but that doesnt mean it can't deliver on these aspects, they just arent the focus.

If you're looking for something gorgeous, intricate and don't mind a slow pace at times I would heartily recommend this to any drama watcher!

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Completed
Terrica18
5 people found this review helpful
Feb 15, 2019
73 of 73 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.5
Rewatch Value 10
I was absolutely blown away by the script, the cast and the chemistry. The writers did an amazing job with this script. Whoever did the lighting during the filming was able to capture not only the night scenes clearly but also distinctively. The series was so good, I actually rewatched episodes and clips while it was still on the air. The acting, the plot, the chemistry, the intelligence and the humor. You get it all as well as tons of action and anticipation. You’ll shed a tear or two. You’ll be mad, happy, want blood and smile so hard. Just wonderful.

The overall story is about two people who encountered hardship in their youth uniting to establish their own sense of love, justice and peace. I am so thrilled that the leads were both charming and smart. There were no senseless games or fights just pure witty and authentic commitment, love and determination.

I would put this series up there with ten miles of peach blossoms and the lengend of fuyao. No cliffhangers, just clean and clear and amazing ending.
Hats off to the young female actress who played “Rong’er” she has some skills. I’ll definitely look for her in future films.

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Completed
SandGirl_Nicky
4 people found this review helpful
Apr 14, 2019
73 of 73 episodes seen
Completed 2
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
I created an account just to write a review for this drama. It has touched me to such an extent, that I cried for an hour after finishing it and retold my husband most of the story for another few hours both in tears and with laughter.

I won’t talk about the excellent casting & acting, or amazing production quality, of how well they included authentic traditions and customs of that period, because these are 10/10, and other reviewers have already attested to that.

No, what I’ll talk about is something much deeper, lessons that one might never even get in a lifetime.

This drama is a lesson about kindness. Her kindness saved a nation, and you’ll understand what I mean when you watch it. Her kindness was inspiring, encouraging, nurturing, and selfless, and so the history of an empire changed its course. She was able to recognise when she should be grateful to somebody from a very young age. She was also able to forgive when forgiveness was to be given, because in her heart she found the ability to love somebody, who had never been properly loved before. She hadn’t experienced proper familial love as a child, but when she finally did, she defended it with her entire being. She’d go the extra mile for those she loved, without fear and without expecting something in return.

She has done some crazy scheming, and she wasn’t always a saint, but she knew when to stop, or at least learnt to do so. She was able to find peace in her heart, and it’s that light that so attracted other people, just like sunflowers to the sun.

This story is also about devotion. His devotion, something he never received in his family home, was so great that it made him fearless, ready to jump even into fire, defend under a rainfall of arrows, and charge ahead with determination. His devotion was his saving grace and so he was rewarded by destiny with her kindness. Her kindness saved him, just like his devotion saved her, and it saved a country.

To forgive is really hard, but the both of them were able to do so, to let go of the hate and anger, and instead open their arms to welcome those who have not been lucky enough to know true kindness and devotion. It resonated with me, because I once had to forgive as well, and I know how hard it is, and so I cried. For an entire hour I was sobbing, reminiscing not the bad memories, but the good ones. The finale of the drama, reminded me that in this world, it is love, kindness, devotion, steadfastness, patience, and being able to go through the ups and downs of life with dignity that will make or break you.

There were of course many other lessons, that are likely to touch your heart. Truth be told even when some of the not-so-good characters were in pain, I also teared up for them. In this world who is faultless, who is perfect...

May you watch this drama and learn from it. Learn about kindness and devotion and how the love of two people united & created a family. Not just a clan, but a family.

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Completed
Natasja Wijzenbroek
4 people found this review helpful
Mar 9, 2019
73 of 73 episodes seen
Completed 3
Overall 8.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
This review may contain spoilers

In this series I really had a love-hate relationship. I could not wait for the next episode but sometimes I really wanted to flush him. First the chemistry / love between the main characters was just so nice to see. But then a bad thing..minglan was even so smart but was so stupid to her own man.De love between grandmother and 5th sister was so heartwarming to see.Minglan her in-laws was too bad also the devil women remained much to long in the series.
The whole series was really nice to see though I would rather have seen more about the marriage of molan. I would not want to look at this series myself again, just because for me the bad people stay in there too long. Another plus minlan her servants were really super sweet to her .. And the end was very nice and happy. Sorry for my bad English but you must have seen this series

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Completed
JillRefuela
4 people found this review helpful
Feb 15, 2019
73 of 73 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.5
Rewatch Value 10
Loving this so much, not because I am a ZLY bias but because the story is so amazing. Even if I am a fan of ZLY I am also skeptical in watching this. The amount of episodes I have to watch , the trauma I had with ZLY's dramas before and the genre. Although I love historical, I was never a fan of family drama but then when I tried watching it I got hooked. Everything about this drama is beautifully arranged. The acting of the ML and the supporting actors was very on point that not many cdrama can compare. And damn, that plot twist in the end explained how the unambitious emperor suddenly became different, the plot twist explained it all. The ending was very satisfying too. It was the first cdrama that gave me the satisfying feeling for an ending. I'm gonna miss this and ZLY too, she really leave a drama worth remembering right before taking a long long break. ?

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Completed
God of Lightning
2 people found this review helpful
Apr 8, 2019
73 of 73 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10

Such a Masterpiece!!

I haven’t watched such a good historical drama for a long time after Nirvana in Fire. I feel like I would have regretted if I didn’t watch it. Here are the reasons why I like Story of Ming Lan

1. Strong Chemistry
Though I know that Feng Xiao Feng and Zhao Liying are husband and wife in real life , I never thought that they would have such strong Chemistry. I love to see Gu Tingye teasing Ming Lan everytime.This strong chemistry between the two main leads is what took me from the beginning to the end.

2.Casts
As a C-drama addict, I saw so many familiar faces in this drama. Like Zhu Yilong from Guardians, Xiao Tao (Wang Zi Wei) from A Love so Beautiful, Gu Si Ye from Battle of Changsha and Surgeons, the new emperor from Nirvana in Fire and even Gu Tingye’s step-mom is from Surgeons. All of these supporting casts portray their characters very beautifully.

3.Cinematography
If u love the best cinematography, this is the right drama for you.The costumes and manors are very beautiful, Action scenes are done very carefully, and even the polo scenes are done with less CGI. Among the series I have watched ,Story of Ming lan is said to be the one of the few dramas with such great cinematography.

4.Strong Female Lead
I have always been a fan of Strong Female Lead and Ming Lan is one of them. Ming Lan is intelligent but had to hide her talents in order to survive. She is normally calm and pleasant but she will attack fiercely when one of her friend faces injustice. Zhao Liying portrays the character of Shen Ming Lan amazingly and as a fan of Zhao Liying, I would say that this is probably her best work since her debut.

5.Director
I was impressed with Zhang Kai Zhou in Battle of Changsha, Ode to Joy 2 and Love Me if You Dare, he did even a better work in Story of Ming Lan.

6.Strong Plot
A strong, tight- woven plot is everything that matters in a drama. This drama not only has a strong but also realistic plot. Unlike other typical dramas, the two leads didn’t fall in love at first sight. I love that their affections for each other grow with time, Ming Lan firstly calls Gu Tingye as second uncle, then Husband and Er Lang. There are also many funny scenes, like Tingye doing the make up on Ming Lan’s face.

7.Moral lessons
We want to gain something after watching a drama,right? I liked a quote that Ming Lan said “Being Moral is in itself a privilege”. She also taught us to be strong, brave and love your family.

8.Music and Rewatch value
I notice only one song by Yisa Yu and Hu Xia but it is not bad.I’d definitely rewatch after some time and enjoy it again.

Most importantly, you need to have patience while watching Story of Ming Lan. This is not a usual drama that will reach climax after 6 or 7 episodes and the character build-up indeed takes some time, but never drop this drama halfway, or you would definitely regret.


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Completed
Chillyboba
2 people found this review helpful
Apr 24, 2019
73 of 73 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
Let me start off by saying that I don’t usually watch cdramas. Despite that, the Story of Ming Lan is now one of my favorite, if not my favorite, dramas. I love it so much that I even made this account to review it! Yes, I am completely serious.

First, the characters! Ahh, I live for the character development here! Contrary to my previous expectations, everyone in the drama is fleshed out, flawed, and so very human. From pesky villains to even our beloved protagonists, the show breathes life into them by artfully showcasing the motives behind their actions and allowing characters to be changed from their environment. Also, kudos to everyone who acted in the drama! I can’t count the times I’ve laughed, cried, got angry, and laughed again.

Our female lead Minglan is my ideal protagonist character. Many dramas boast of “strong” female characters, but I have seen few that truly back up their claim. While Minglan may not be physically strong, her temperament, composure, and intelligence is more impressive than any martial arts sequence I’ve seen. Others may choose to directly confront their enemies in a show of valiant bravery. Not Minglan. On the inside, she’s as crafty as fox, but on the outside, she maintains the facade of a dimwitted lamb. Protagonists often remain as static character, but it is quite refreshing to see Minglan mature and learn to confide in others...

And here comes the romance! Please don’t give up on our male lead Gu Ting Ye! You may have your doubts, but he also undergoes a change (a rather drastic one) that will make him a perfect accompaniment to Minglan. Honestly, these two are a match made in heaven. Watching the two on screen always made my heart warm. No cringey teen romance here! With that said, however, don’t focus too much on the romance! It takes a side seat to the plot and characters.

As for the story, I fear I’ll get too excited and just blabber out spoilers, so I’ll just say this. Other have said that the pacing is rather slow, but I feel like it was perfect! No parts were rushed and each scene had a point in the drama. You won’t feel the need to skip at all, so don’t fear the 73 episodes! In fact, I could go watch another 73 episodes lol.

While I love this drama to bits, I won’t say that it doesn’t have any flaws. Minglan does get through her problems a *little* too easily and her villains weren’t as terrible as some others, but other parts of the drama were so outstanding that those points didn’t matter that much to me.

Anyways, congrats to whoever made it this far and bore with my vomit of words. Now, cast away your doubts and go watch Story of Minglan!

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Completed
KhanUmar
2 people found this review helpful
Feb 15, 2019
73 of 73 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
?? Wow.! What can I Say About This Beautiful Drama.!
I Mean It's Such Amazing Drama.! Story Is the One of Greatest I ever Watch In Dramas In Asia.! I glad They Pair Willim feng/Zanilia Zhao Cause They Really Fits This Character at least for me.! Their Chemistry Is Out Of This World.! Ofcauae It is Since they r married in real life.! also for Those Who Says It's Slow drama or boring.! They R worng cause Few eps later from Ep 5 its gets keep getting better and better! U will Love it.! as I did.! Don't Hesitate Just Watch The Masterpiece.! and U will Never Regret.!
I LOVED THIS BEAUTIFUL/SWEET MASTERPIECE.! ??

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Completed
minnamata
1 people found this review helpful
Aug 20, 2019
73 of 73 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 7.5
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 8.0
The overall story is interesting to watch especially the interaction of the main characters and how they overcome their adversity in life. However, I think that the portrayal of Ming Lan by the actress is not as strong as it should be. Ming Lan portrayal in this story look to weak and the character fortunately saved by the strong story line provided for the characters. The other actor and actress really portray their character really well and convey the feeling through their acting especially male actor.
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Completed
Kimberly
1 people found this review helpful
Jul 1, 2019
73 of 73 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 7.5
This review may contain spoilers
I love Zanilia and William, and how cute that they are now married and pregnant!

This drama isn't very "action packed" if you're looking for Zanilia to do stunts like you've seen her do in Princess Agents. It's more like Lu Zhen if anything, she can speak her way out of any issues! This one is not really "palace intrigue" but details the life of a middle-class (can you even classify them as that?) and their struggles with rankings (Main wife, 2nd wife, 3rd wife, etc) and their children's struggles trying to "find their place." Sadly, Ming Lan grows up in a house where her mom is a lower-ranked wife/mistress and they are not treated nicely by the main and 2nd wives. There is a lot of plotting from the mothers down to the daughters!

The romance part of the drama doesn't really kick in right away, but we pretty much root from Zanilia & William since they're kids (well I did!). It doesn't get lovey-dovey until the end where he claims his love for her. But still so intriguing to watch it from beginning to end.

Overall, I liked this drama and I thought they were cast so well to play a couple!

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