In order to leave the assassin organization The Window of Heaven, the leader Zhou Zi Shu performs an obligatory departure technique, leaving him with three years left to live. He disguises his face and tries to live the remainder of his days as a drunkard wandering the martial arts world. Three months later, he meets the mysterious Wen Ke Xing, who immediately notices Zhou Zi Shu’s façade. The two then grow closer when they get entangled in a conspiracy regarding the Glazed Armor, a protected legendary key to a powerful armory. (Source: MyDramaList) ~~ Adapted from the novel "Faraway Wanderers" (天涯客) by Priest. Edit Translation
Where to Watch Word of Honor
Cast & Credits
the BEST costumed BL from China ( THIS IS A BIASED REVIEW, SEE RATING FOR BETTER ASSESSMENT)
Does it really deserve 9.5, no; in a critical sense. But I can't be unbiased in this, because this drama has made me laugh out loud and cry like a baby.For a drama that is known to have a low budget and with two leads having not much a fan support before this drama, this drama has achieved way more than what other big budget production has not. I do think as fans of BL, especially from China with it's censorship, we need to reward productions who do not skew from the original story, who do non add random female characters, who do focus on story telling with intentions and a POV.
The story is adapted to television and flows through quickly and is evenly paced, the actors brings the life and blood to their characters (leads and side characters), For any viewers with keen sense, this is not a BL adaptation, it's BL. The chemistry between the two MLs are palpable in every scene, as they play back and forth with their words, their gazes, and their body language. They are playful and true to their characters, and I cannot praise enough of Gong Jun's acting in this. At first, I was hesitant to receive his "overt" "eye" acting, but it just conveys so much of his character as being the naive "cat" without it being overacting or farcical. He handles it just right. And ZZH is so good playing the reluctant role of the "mouse" with such subtlety and finesse, that you will find new hints of his intentions at every rewatch. Not to mention all the dynamic supporting roles, written with back stories and characteristic intent that supports this Wuxia JiangHu.
All in all, the script writer deserves the most praise, because for once it's handled by one lady Xiao Chu, who is a Wuxia fan and a fan of Priest. Her love and understanding of the Wuxia genre and the original text really shows how she organically expanded a what is considered a short story in Priest's world. Her adept handling of the subject and the challenges the topic of BL in her homeland is just so perfect, not to mention her knowledge of Chinese literary culture and history brings so much more to artistry to a laymen's entertainment such as tv drama.
After finishing the drama, I can say this drama has brought the standards of not just BL dramas, but all recent Chinese Wuxia drama standards, up, in terms of story telling. This production has told us you do not need big budget, main leads with rabid fans, all you need is good acting, good direction, and good script to capture the audiences' hearts.
This sublime wuxia revolves around two atypical protagonists and their scorching, profound connection. A bold BL adaption that makes no attempt to suggest the relationship is just a bromance, the love story is so charismatically portrayed that it will captivate even mainstream viewers. Both protagonists are morally ambiguous and flawed characters with their own code of conduct. They fall far short of conventional da xia/大侠 or martial heroes but still manage to beguile us into caring and rooting for them.What elevates this drama is the scriptwriting , the writer put her heart into this and while I cannot compare it with the book, I couldn't be more satisfied with the drama's storytelling. Important plot and character points are planned and planted well in advance and the story unfolds in a way that pulls us into various the plot threads and the partial reveals. Many questions, including when Zhou Zishu recognizes Wen Kexing; are never clearly answered but can be surmised upon re-watch from hints in the dialogue and the characters' subsequent actions. The playful, flirtatious dialogue heavily laced with double entendre and layers of meaning with its facile parlance of idioms and ancient parables has won widespread praise from educators and broad audiences, inspiring young adults to dust off their classical texts with renewed enthusiasm. This winsome first work of a young scriptwriter sets a high bar for historical dramas going forward and puts the often lazy and tired works of more experienced writers to shame.
At surface, the backdrop and many characters are classic wuxia themes and anachronisms - various jianghu sects are vying to recover five shards of liulijia, a glazed artefact that can unlock a hidden repository of the most elite martial arts and miraculous medical manuscripts. Sound familiar? Its been done many times. But it scarcely matters because the two main protagonists, Zhou Zishu and Wen Kexing immediately sweep us away with their outrageous, titillating courtship. Gong Jun's shamelessly flirtatious Wen Kexing, is the most predatory, lecherous, and utterly delicious display of physical attraction I have seen since John Malkovich's iconic Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons. I am quite certain most of Zhang Zehan's eye rolls were not acting and I just love his improvised comment - even my fart smells good! Both actors deliver immersive resonating performances - Gong Jun with a wild vengeful ferocity behind flashes of vulnerability and Zhang Zhehan with a subtle nuanced complexity that hints at a multitude of emotions within micro expressions. Classic wuxia themes and archetypes are woven into an addictive tale of friendship, love, betrayal, loyalty, ambition, sacrifice and of course revenge.
While a bit heavy on the slow motion, the fight scenes are stunningly choreographed and delivers enough hairy, scary, dicey, slicey moments to have me at the edge of my seat. I was stunned by the raw ferocious rage and naked hatred that spilled out of Gu Xiang in the epic finale. The bloodthirsty, brutally lethal and absolutely berserk final mortal battle where the master of the Ghost Valley emits rage with the wild light of cruel insanity flashing in his eyes is without doubt the highlight of the action. This of course excludes Lao Wen and Ah Xu's exuberant fight scenes because everybody knows its really a mating dance where they are actually just ogling at each other. The story is well paced with a good balance of mystery, action and and ends spectacularly with enough twists, surprises and a breathless cruelty that pays homage to the true spirit of the genre. If I have to find fault, there are too many sects and side characters that don't advance the plot. The relationship between Zhao Jing and Scorpion King also feels off in a creepy way and even though the role is very well acted, Scorpion King's motives are not well developed. In general the villains feel rather two dimensional but perhaps this is unavoidable given how grey and complex both protagonists are.
Even though this is hands down one of the best wuxias I have seen in years, this is more of a character drama in the sense that the core characters are what really brings this story life in a differentiated way. I am going to discuss them in greater detail in the following paragraphs. Be warned there are mild spoilers so you may want to stop reading here and revisit after completing.
*Be warned - mild spoilers ahead!*
The narrator Zhou Zishu is a dark character and while he is not a villain, he is amoral and thus the story is told via the lens of a world view that is defined by personal loyalties and relationships rather than some over arching sense of morality. In Zhang Zhehan's own words, Zhou Zishu has thousands of layers and is thus the most fascinating and difficult character to both write and to portray. In this both writer and actor delivered brilliantly in striking that perfect balance of revealing not too much but just enough to create an enigmatic character with insidious lingering impact. Zishu is a cynical and disillusioned cold hearted assassin who is only bound to and motivated by his word of honor - yes for once we have an aptly titled c-drama. He doesn't blame Jin wang for his fall from grace nor does he try to avenge his fallen sect brothers because like himself, they all must live and die by their oath, their word of honor. By the time he encounters Zhang Chengling and Wen Kexing, he is resigned to his self inflicted fate and means to spend his remaining days wandering the world drinking himself into oblivion. He epitomizes despicable me, stricken by self loathing for his weaknesses, for his failings that led to the deaths of his sect brothers and Four Seasons Manor's downfall.
Zishu is pulled back into the world of the living by his promise to see Chengling to safety - his intent is to do no more than that and is indifferent to the boy's pleas to accept him as his disciple. Although he was attracted to Kexing, he dismisses his outrageous overtures and distrusts him but lets him stick around to keep an eye on him. It is only after Kexing hallucinates and calls him Zhou Zishu that his attitude changes. That must be when he suspects who Kexing is and for the first time, sees a path towards keeping his promise to his shifu by resurrecting Four Seasons Manor and thus he accepts Chengling as his disciple. But he is really only putting his affairs in order so to speak. Even though he acknowledges Kexing as his soul mate, he does not deem himself worthy of a long and happy life.
Wen Kexing on the other hand is innately a good person, who is driven by hate and vengeance into doing some terrible things. Unlike Zishu, he still longs to be a good person and deep down still believes he is indeed a good person. While Gong Jun brings the many facets of Wen Kexing from the terrifying to the vulnerable alive vividly with his expressive eyes, the character itself is a more easily understandable, angsty, revenge driven wuxia archetype. Zishu is a much darker character than Kexing and he does not save or redeem Kexing, it is actually the other way around. Although Kexing at surface gets more screen time, as the narrator that always seems to know more than he reveals, Zishu is omnipresent and invites the most mind share. As they change each other and extend their found family to include Chengling, Gu Xiang, Cao Weining and even the irascible and hilarious Ye Bai Yi, Zishu subtly comes to embrace life again.
This drama peaks spectacularly in the gorgeously shot penultimate episode that has everything - clever final reveals, plot twists, shocking, shattering losses, violent clashes and epic showdowns. I screamed, I jumped up and down, I cried, I couldn't believe my eyes! This is the way a drama should end, at its peak. Yes, there are small loose threads but overall, I am very happy with the ending. True, the final afterthought episode is a bit of a non sequitur but everything else was so spectacular I am willing to not look that hard at it. This is by far the best wuxia I have seen in many, many years and I can happily call this a perfect 9.5.