In the year of 1926, Mu Wan Qing brings her mom's ashes back to China for burial. Using the pretense of surrendering to her father, Mu Wan Qing's actual motive is finding the true reason why her parents separated, and her brother died. Meanwhile, a coup d'état occurs among the Shanghai army, and the once oppressed Tan Xuan Lin rose up to become the new commander of troops. However, despite his new authority, he still finds himself walking on thin ice. Xu Guang Yao, the son of the Commander of Yue Cheng, is a man revered and admired by many. However, he dislikes the power struggles within the political field. A chance encounter lets Mu Wan Qing, Tan Xuan Lin, and Xu Guang Yao meet and befriend each other. In order to secure her foothold within the Mu family, Mu Wan Qing intentionally gets close to Xu Guang Yao securing his backing. Meanwhile, Tan Xuan Lin works alongside Mu Wan Qing to investigate an old case that is related to the Mu family. The three of them go through life-and-death struggles together and eventually realize the importance of protecting the country in these tumultuous times. (Source: DramaWiki) Edit Translation
Cast & Credits
Characters here are never out of tricksAnd finally a great female lead that stands out unique to other female characters strongly…
The female protagonist here Mu Wan Qing (acted by Jingyi Zhang) suggests them ideas, shows bravery when needed & do not hesitates to help or take risks to get something. She's cool, gives answers to insults, not your typical crybaby. Male lead & second male lead are there to help her but she isn't a burden on anyone. She knows many languages, is hardworking & knowledgeable not only for problems in life but also in business. The way she deals with her evil step sister is so pleasing to see like originally female leads must be sobbing in some corner but this female lead makes that evil one cry instead. The way she supports Xuan Lin unconditionally is also amazing.
Male lead — Tan Xuan Lin (played by Chen Xing Xu) is also a good character. He is always cool, fun & cracking jokes. Even when situation is complicated, he has the time to joke around & bicker with other leads. But the deeper part is that he has an emotional side too. He has his own reasons & rules. He is quite intelligent too as he tackels his problems in the best way possible. His relationship with his sister is adorable.
Another Male lead — Xu Guang Yao (played by Evan Lin) my poor boy Evan, it's just his second work as an actor & he has been really acting so well but why you gave him a second lead role. Poor him T_T… then this character Xu Guang Yao is a righteous man who doesn't know much to play tricks but he's still intelligent. He is like the definition of Nice male lead. He's caring, kind & protective towards our female lead, Wan Qing… he has 2 best friends who try their best to support him. I liked their bond too.
The positive part of this drama is that though there's a lot of politics but it's not so boring, I was actually enjoying people tricking each other like that. Every character is important, has their own background story & are clever. No one accepts defeat easily & comes back with new ideas. Overall, the drama gets more interesting as we go ahead… well, everyone wants to save their position but who will save the people? That's a nice point presented here…
MUSIC / OSTs
♪Eyes like star♪ — by Si Nan (the lyrics is beautiful, so is the voice and music. Soothing & slow… it's the opening theme song)
♪Clearly know♪ — Cai Yisheng (I liked this song too)
♪Horse ride♪ — Zhang He Xuan (this is the ending theme song)
♪Your promise♪ — Dai Yutong
♪Swaying♪ — Liu
Rewatch value… No, I am not rewatching this again. Well, I am not a frequent rewatcher and It's kinda lengthy so… though I enjoyed it, its a one time watch drama only.
TO CONCLUDE… it's a 9.5 out of 10 overall. There's politics for getting power, good supporting roles who keep us entertained throughout. Interesting characters with their own story & stuffs to deal with & how the leads make their bond more stronger while sorting out the complications is what the story is about.
Reasonable characters knitting a wonderful story…!!
A surprising gem that delivers a cohesive story and clever charactersI came out of this pleasantly surprised, intrigued and overall satisfied. Fall in Love manages to humbly balance the light-hearted romance with heavier and darker themes of politics, war and strategy. First and foremost, I’m a sucker for Chinese Republican era drama (see Arsenal Military Academy and Rookie Agent Rouge) and so this naturally fell on my radar. The first few episodes are a bit cringe and feel super staged (and a bit confusing as we work out our bearings), but keep at it and as the story progresses, you’ll soon find how much of a hidden gem this one is.
The story follows our male lead, Tan Xuan Lin and female lead, Mu Wan Qing who happen to meet under unfortunate circumstances and this leads to a series of misunderstandings. Cleared up quite quick, they appreciate each other’s strengths and wits and from there on out work together as partners (and later on something more) as they navigate through the tumultuous times in Shanghai.
Within 36 episodes, the story is well written, well-rounded and cohesive. I found the episodes breezy to watch, not much filler, but more story progression and kept me wanting to watch the next. The story flows well, divided into three distinct sections: 1) Wan Qing’s internal family drama, 2) Xuan Lin’s political strategy 3) At war. The last section fell away a bit, which is why I can’t give it a perfect rating I’m sorry. The ending episodes felt a bit confuddled (like introducing new villains?), it felt like they were rushing to the finish line but wanted to tie up all these loose ends.
I will flag the story comes front and centre, and the romance sometimes fades to the background, particularly the latter half of the drama. Which is a shame, because I love seeing our two leads get all romantic because the chemistry is so there.
Things I liked within the story:
+ Reference and referral back to key themes, conversations and symbols. See amulet, number switch, this idea of trust/belief in each other
+ The overall craft of constant misdirection and deception. Loved how our characters were three steps ahead of us and everyone gets played. This feeling of being blindsided is such a rush
+ This idea of new vs older generation (the father and son dynamics) leading the future
+ The exploration of each of the character’s history/backstory, uncovering the truth, and setting everything in its rightful place
CHARACTERS and ACTING
Brilliant and again unexpectedly good. Where has Chen Xing Xu been all my life, and how am I just finding out about him? What superb acting, he outshone everyone to be honest. He managed to capture so many complex emotions and feelings within the one expression. His character was flirty and playful, never taking anything serious. But that feels like a façade for what he is: a highly intelligent, cunning and slightly devious, fiercely loyal and courageous, natural born leader. He manages to shift into so many facets of his character effortlessly, from dark, looming and aggressive when he’s threatening someone to super light and jokey when he’s bantering with Wan Qing.
Props to our female lead, she did so well and I loved her characterisation. It’s rare (typically we see naïve and pure female leads as the go to in Chinese dramas), but here Wan Qing is equally intelligent, so switched on, possesses vision and foresight, merciful but not a door mat. I loved how she could hold her own (see ep29 as evidence), was rational and reasonable and unfazed by anyone standing in her way.
Both were complex characters with tragic backstories, and we see how this has shaped who they are. The pair were matched really well, in mind and body, and together were an incomparable force to be reckoned with. Yes they were open with each other and had this unwavering belief in each other. But I did get frustrated when Xuan Lin hid things from her or lied to her in the name of protecting her. She could obviously handle whatever came her way, so I would have liked him to be more truthful with her.
Our array of side characters and their journeys were given enough time to develop alongside the story and worked well. Evan Lin as Xu Guang Yao was your typical supportive second male lead, for me his acting needs a little work, but his character development was on point. We really see him come out from his sheltered father to his own person with will, fighting spirit and new belief. We were also given optimistic and persistent youth’s pursuit of love (Tan Sang Yu) and also a more mature, realistic and accepting blossoming relationship (Gu Yue Shuang).
MUSIC and REWATCH
The music grows on you and fits well with the emotional scenes. Though I usually don’t rewatch dramas, I would actually rewatch this one again. It was filled with surprises and kept me on edge throughout. Like I mentioned, it is well crafted and the story flows on from one episode to the next smoothly.
+ Lead interaction, banter, chemistry and teamwork. They are by far one of most perfectly matched couples that you can’t help but root for. I loved seeing them team up seriously to face challenges, where they lean on and confide in each other, and somehow pick up on these hidden cues they share between them
+ Clever characters. I love how they outsmart everyone, the cons they pull, their ability to predict the future. They know what’s up and more often than not they keep the audience in the dark until their reveal. A lot of ah-ha moments that were like little surprise easter eggs that gave me this feeling of pure delight
+ Tight script writing, witty banter and conversation, cohesive story that delves into the backstories, histories and present lives of our characters. 36 episodes doesn’t feel long, and to be honest thought they should have added some more episodes to the concluding section so it didn’t feel too rushed
WATCH OUT FOR:
- Staged production. I wouldn’t say cheap, but the production does feel unrealistic at times, so I wasn’t entirely immersed into the Republican era world. They definitely fused a lot of contemporary aspects in costume, design, speech and what not.
- The trailer was a bit deceptive in categorising it as a light romantic comedy. In fact, when you actually start to watch, it gets hella serious and dark at times. There’s a lot of war strategising and talk, battle and fighting scenes, a lot of time is given to how the Warlords manage their affairs, soldiers and territories. So the romance and their relationship is neatly interwoven within the story
- The ending 4 or so episodes. It does lose its way, starts to get a bit muddled and messy. They jam packed so many new characters and new plot lines, that it felt a bit unnecessary and unfounded. But I understand they wanted to have this big climax and promote the whole national pride thing, but it meant the romance takes a backburner.
Overall, I’m so glad to have picked this one up and stuck with it. Left me pleasantly surprised and exceeded my expectations. There’s a lot to like with this one, so give it a go and let me know what you think!