Xie Xiang joins the army in her brother's stead by pretending to be a man. She becomes classmates with the wealthy Gu Yan Zhen and the calm Shen Jun Shan. Through their rigorous training, the three form a bond to become comrades, all while Xie Xiang tries to keep her cover. After many incidents, Xie Xiang earns the respect of her peers and superiors. She also becomes the object of affections of the two men in her lives. The Japanese military stations more forces in the Northeast region causing the young heroes to engage in battle as they uncover a big conspiracy. (source: ChineseDrama.info) Edit Translation
Cast & Credits
Cinematographic Political Military Drama w/ Romance - But Beware Love Triangles and Second Half!I honestly cannot stop thinking about and watching this show - not only because of the great production value, but also because of the themes, the dynamics amongst the cast members, and also because of the great chemistry between the main leads!
I'd highly recommend having a watch if you like these tropes:
♡ Lead Falls for Girl First: Xu Kai + Bai Lu are well known for their romance in The Legends, but interestingly Xu Kai's character Gu Yanzheng has a lot of traits that we usually associate with second leads in dramas. Gu Yanzheng clearly falls for Xie Xiang first and constantly tries to pursue her while also protecting her - even if Xie Xiang is always annoyed by him and bickers with him. Gu Yanzheng also has a troublemaking, playboy, childish personality, but deep inside he has not yet experienced his first love yet and is still very inexperienced, which makes their relationship much cuter!
♡ Great Cast Chemistry: You will feel deeply for all the students of the military academy, and all of their interesting stories and backgrounds. The drama really emphasizes the role of brotherhood, friendship, loyalty, and patriotism.
♡ Interesting Political Context: The drama is set during WWI, and takes place in a period when Japanese victories & their growing sphere of influence resulted in ambitious desires to encroach upon Chinese sovereignty. How the students face this and the actions they take, especially after having suffered from Japanese attacks, is a central part of this drama.
♡ Slow Burn Romance: In terms of actual romance, romantic fluffy scenes are interspersed between serious military training and events. The first half is very fluffy and adorable in terms of romance, while the second half almost eliminates most of the romantic parts. However, I personally feel that this makes the romance even stronger because of how deeply you can see the characters care for each other, and also because of how the life or death situations make them stronger together. The romance comes as a result of their strong brotherhood, friendship, and camaraderie, and continues to develop as they work together in turbulent political times.
♡ Crossdressing Well Done: Xie Xiang really knows how to fight, and works really hard to not only meet the expectations that people have of her but even surpass the skills of her peers. I also like how Bai Lu did a great job acting as an actual boy (even if skinnier or smaller) and how her reasons for doing so were meaningful. You can also see her physical capabilities improve as well, and she is very smart - when situations go wrong, she is out there holding a gun and fighting, not just passively sitting there or waiting to be protected.
♡ Loveable Side Characters and Interesting Villains: You will love a lot of the side characters, such as Xie Xiang's friends, and you will get invested into love rivals and their stories as well. In addition, the relationship between the teachers and students is also very endearing. I won't go into spoilers, but the main villain is also interesting and has very complex motivations that I think adds to the suspense and intensity of the drama.
♡ Little Filler: There's not a lot of filler in the drama - every episode I had to continue and keep watching because it was so intense, and there's something happening that's important in every episode (as well as cute moments every episode too!)
However, there are also some things you might not like about the drama:
♥ It is a Military/Patriotic Drama: There is a lot of patriotism and nationalism in this drama. I've heard that scenes also had to be cut from the drama and filled with more "patriotic" scenes because of the current ban on Chinese dramas due to the 70th anniversary of the PRC. I personally liked this aspect because it was integrated in a way that showed just how deeply the characters loved their country, and how they were willing to risk their lives for this, but some people might be thrown off by this and also see it as veering on propaganda.
♥ Angst-Heavy Last 10 Episodes: As a shift from the lighthearted, even almost fluffy beginning and middle of the drama, all the angst seems to culminate and intensify in the last stretch of the drama. Some characters also suddenly lose a lot of screen time without explanation, while others suddenly gain a lot more (I think this is partly due to pacing issues, with the director even mentioning feeling sorry that there was a lot of content cut out in the final edits.) You can really tell that the drama attempted to shift from almost romantic comedy to intense patriotic wartime drama, which is something that might seem jarring and unsatisfying. I will also warn - there are NO KISS SCENES in this drama between our main couple, and so while it is a "happy ending" it may not be what everyone is wanting or expecting.
♥ Love Triangles: There are a lot of love triangles and love relationships in this drama. Without spoiling anything, I will say that this is one of the dramas where if the posters didn't really advertise our main ship, I would be really confused about who exactly Xie Xiang will get together with in the first half of the drama. There are also some cinematographic and script choices that seemed to put emphasis towards one couple, but then switch to focus on the other part of the love triangle in the next episode. If you are interested in what the love triangles are (please be warned of some spoilers here) the main one is #1) Gu Yanzheng ~ Xie Xiang ~ Shen Junshan. However, there is also #2) Shen Tingbai ~ Qu Manting ~ Gu Yanzheng and #3) Xianrong ~ Shen Junshan ~ Xie Xiang. I will warn beforehand about this because Shen Junshan also plays quite big of a role, and this can lead to a lot of confusions or dissatisfaction with the romance. What I will say is that Gu Yanzheng only loves Xie Xiang and never loves anyone else for those who are really looking to see more Xu Kai and Bai Lu moments.
I'd recommend you watch this if you liked dramas that have romance BUT also have social/political tension in them. The drama is also very high quality and the sets, clothing design, and general atmosphere of the drama are very well done and true to the Republican era of that period. If you really want something with a great romance, interesting plot line, but also delves into some of the history and social themes of that period, I'd highly recommend you pick this up to binge watch. You definitely won't be able to put it down!