Gao Liang and Gu Yi Ye are recruited into the same unit and thrown into action the first day of enlistment. Their careers start ‘on a bad foot’, even if their bravery is undoubted, as they both come from different backgrounds and thus have different personalities. Though they are rivals in love and competitors in army, they cherish each other as comrades-in-arms. With time passing, their lives are put through constant trials, forcing them to make hard choices as they strive forward. This is the story of young heroes, that once had dreams, and that grew and strove for nearly four decades, to become the heroic Ace Troops. (Source: MyDramaList) Edit Translation
Where to Watch Ace Troops
Cast & Credits
Story of striving throughout a span of 40 years
Like most of the watchers of this drama, I too watched this solely because of Xiao Zhan. The drama was quite good but, it left me a little disappointed. I expected a drama to which I could atleast give a 8.5 rating, which I could not because of its many flaws.
This drama is based on the story of young heroes of army, who strived hard to become the legendary Ace Troops. It tells us about their lives and dreams and how they made it through all the dark situations, which forced them to make difficult choices regarding their life and career. This drama revolves around Gao Liang, Gu YiYe and Jiang NanZheng. They came from different backgrounds and have different personalities. Although, Gao Liang and Gu YiYe were rivals in both career and love, they were great friends and cherished eachother.
The character development in this drama was an aspect that I liked. With their passing time in the army, all the characters learned new meanings and aspects of life, which became turning points in their lives. Gu YiYe's character arc was the best out of the three. As the story went on, he transformed from an proud, arrogant, know-it-all soldier to an ideal person, without altering his original traits.
The pace of this drama was really draggy. I had to fast forward many times. But, the ending was really heart warming. The romance plot in this was just meh, excepet for YiYe and A'Xiu's part. They were a perfect match. Although, YiYe married A'Xiu out of responsibility, it then turned out to be true love. I really liked it when A'Xiu told that she would rather squeeze in the small house that let YiYe take off his uniform. She had someting that noone else could give him. Another thing that I loved in this drama was the portrayal of the bond between the soldiers. They know how to care for others as well as fight against eachother.
Xiao Zhan's acting was just amazing. He delivered an emotionally intense performance in this. Johnny Huang and Elaine Zhong's acting was good, though not as memorable as Xiao Zhan's. The supporting characters like A'Xiu, Zheng Yuan too did an amazing job. I also loved the makeup used in the last few episodes. It made the actors look older and mature. It was just perfect!
The OSTs were stunning. They were perfect for this drama, especially the ending song. They helped to enhance the feelings in this drama.
Overall, it was a nice drama. It helped me to learn more about China's military. This drama also helped to lay out the advancement of military technology over four decades. However, I have to warn that this drama may turn out very confusing sometimes because of its flaws in the story. But, some of the mediocrity of the story will cancelled out due to the quality of the acting. So, if you like military genre and is a follower of Xiao Zhan, this drama will be a worthy watch.
A Lot to Unpack - An Honest ReviewI only watched this because Xiao Zhan is one of the people I follow and also for seeing what the military genre holds in their country, as it's the first time I watched a military cdrama. And while everyone knows the general issues production had, I did find out recently that it was because of censorship and multiple reviews, that this drama lost 13 episodes and therefore explains the haphazard editing and much of the disconnection and inconsistencies. Let's unpack this series.
Pros: I loved Gu Yiye from the beginning. The character wasn't perfect in the slightest but was always determined to make himself better no matter how much hard work it took. Every step he took, every emotion he displayed made it in effect seem like a docuseries and not just a fictional drama. No matter how many people frowned upon him, he was determined to show his hard work and take his own path to the top. XZ filmed this series during the most difficult time in his career and life and still put 110% into it and it shone through in dividends. His explosion of emotions or even basic army tactics spoke volumes about how much he was invested in his character.
A-Xiu was literally the perfect match for GYY. Though their relationship began out of responsibility, it blossomed into real genuine love. The way she always had his back no matter what. She helped break the PTSD cycle, she ran around searching for doctors for his arm, she was ready to beat up anyone that ever bullied GYY and was the solid foundation that essentially GYY never had in his life. To her, he was the brightest star in the entire world. Both Jiang Nan Zheng (JNZ) and Hu Yang (HY) couldn't provide the simple things GYY needed and that really all he ever needed was understanding and support.
My other favorite characters were many of the support like Zhang Fei, papa Gu, and the rest of their comrades in arms. Each one came with their unique personalities and flaws. If a character is too perfect, it won't be remotely realistic. Just like if the opposite happens and the character is awful, it won't lead credence to the portrayal either. The couples whether they stayed together or not still were properly evolved and had their closure at the end.
I loved the special effects during the big battles or whether they actually used real military equipment or CGI I don't know but all the blasts and the combat scenes were really nice. Be they real war or drills; when actual fighting was involved or strategies explained, it was nice to see how the mind worked to help move on to the next step. The OSTs were also appropriate and made the proper impression whether in the credits or in the scenes. Also liked the fact that this series ran low on propaganda which is a very good thing as these military dramas tend to overdo that aspect in large quantities.
Cons: I will be completely honest here and I'm not hating on him in the slightest but Johnny's performance for more then half of the series was underwhelming. I have been told for a long time that this genre was his niche so I was very excited to see him and XZ in this great drama but his performance fell flat for being the ML; I've got nothing against him at all; this is just my own personal experience and opinion as a viewer.
Gao Liang until he went to study at the school was essentially riding the coattails of nepotism which was quite unseemly and with the sob story about him being an orphan and his dead brother; also weird that the story kept changing to fit whatever was going on in the drama. I kept wondering why no one was calling it out but perhaps that's how their military ran in those days.
JNZ started off as a smart young woman but then they dumbed her down into this whining, crying female lead that had literally no concept of being affected by the battle that took so many lives. It felt like the battle the rest of the cast fought and the one she was in were completely different situations. The "turn your frown upside down" in regards to the trauma GYY was going through, her attitude was rather lame and that's the other thing that made GYY start to distance himself from her.
The amount of random time lapses and inconsistencies were staggering. A few examples; JNZ hated her father the chief and then in the next episode when she finds out he's fighting for his life, she was practically ready to change his diapers in the hospital for him. One episode she calls GL her brother, in the very next episode she's madly in love with him. The romance between GYY and AX would also have been good to see.
The fact that this series tried desperately to turn GL into Robocop, making him single-handedly take out very butch and heavily armed terrorists or that last drill that dragged for far too long and him zipping around the island with literally a propeller in his butt and 17 pairs of eyes being able to spot a singular intruder on his own and then go chase him down. It was beyond unbelievable even for a fictional military drama. That can't be excused by the cut in episodes, but I would like to ask what the writer was thinking. The fact that he was able to scuba dive with explosives without any real training was very inconsistent and pretty ridiculous; just like GYY and his soldiers being able to essentially turn into paratroopers with zilch experience also made little sense.
There were many more but I'll mention a last one and that's the tug of war of JNZ and GL and their marriage. When GYY is dating JNZ, GL is always there getting in between them like an annoying mosquito they can't swat. But as soon as JNZ is single, GL seems interested and then quickly backs off; giving her a zillion excuses. Did he ever really love her? Or was she like a trophy to win in a competition? Yes they got hitched in the last episode but it seemed it was such an afterthought and added a musical to the mix. When she didn't look at him, he was super clingy but when she starts being the epitome of gorilla glue, he runs in the other direction. And her solution to every one of their problems was marriage. Her showing up in the 21st century wedding dress and heavy bling (that didn't make sense as she had a military salary) at the hospital where he was unconscious looked completely misplaced in a military drama. Many moments like that make you scratch your head in confusion.
Would I recommend it? If you're a military drama fan and like Xiao Zhan as well as well done supporting characters and great action, then yes I would. But I do warn about a lot of inconsistencies that might make you very confused.