Faithful (2023) poster
8.1
Your Rating: 0/10
Ratings: 8.1/10 from 607 users
# of Watchers: 2,317
Reviews: 17 users
Ranked #1730
Popularity #4915
Watchers 607

A young woman named Ru Lan, who put her reputation on the line to air her grievances, dies in vain. Seven years later, nine people who are inextricably linked to the Ru Lan case get together for different reasons, thus beginning a story of revenge. Disregarding her good friend Meng Wan's objections, the young Lin Ru Lan risked her own reputation to sue Wu Lian who is the master of Xiu Liu. After many unsuccessful attempts, Ru Lan, who finds that there's no place that will hear her grievances, finally commits suicide to prove her innocence. Meng Wan bides her time for seven years later and assembles nine people to seek justice for her friend. In the process, the struggles of a young girl who was buried in time gradually emerges. (Source: ChineseDrama.info) ~~ Adapted from the novel “Jiu Yi Ren” (九义人) by Li Bo Jian (李薄茧). Edit Translation

  • English
  • Bahasa Indonesia
  • Français
  • Italiano
  • Country: China
  • Type: Drama
  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: Sep 15, 2023 - Sep 26, 2023
  • Aired On: Monday, Tuesday, Sunday
  • Original Network: Tencent Video
  • Duration: 45 min.
  • Score: 8.1 (scored by 607 users)
  • Ranked: #1730
  • Popularity: #4915
  • Content Rating: Not Yet Rated

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Reviews

Completed
PeachBlossomGoddess Flower Award1
30 people found this review helpful
Oct 8, 2023
25 of 25 episodes seen
Completed 6
Overall 7.5
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 6.5

Those who seek revenge dig two graves.

This is a heartbreaking and sobering revenge drama about an ancient Me Too movenment by nine commoners seeking justice. The two main protagonists, Rulan and Meng Wan are apprentices at Yanyu Tower, whose exquisite embroidery are prized by the imperial palace. Underneath his polished and elegant facade, Yanyu Tower's proprietor and master embroiderer Wu Lian is the worst kind of predator; one who uses his power and privilege to repeatedly manipulate and abuse the young women working for him. When Rulan has the audacity and tenacity to seek legal redress, most including her bestie Meng Wan hesitate to help her; knowing how stacked the system is against them. Ultimately her plight and her conviction inspires nine people to devote their entire reason for existence to taking Wu Lian down and obtaining justice for Rulan and in some cases themselves. There are no fairytales in this drama; their stories are utterly devastating; alternately moving me to tears and making my teeth clench and my blood boil.

This drama is not for the faint hearted and comes with a ton of trigger warnings. It is ruthless and brutal in terms of its scathing depiction of the unbalanced power dynamics between the powerful and the powerless. It convincingly articulates why regardless of consequences, Rulan, Meng Wan and their friends decide to take a stand against a clever, powerful and ruthless opponent. Their efforts are stymied at almost every turn and many of them pay the dear cost of justice. Wu Lian is almost too smart a villain and too well resourced. It is dismaying to see these nine avengers fall for the same traps over and over. In desperation, some of them take unnecessary risks and make terrible sacrifices with scant payoff in their attempt to gather enough evidence to indict him.

This is a large cast with consequential roles that deliver all around strong performances. Hu Yixuan's portrayal of Rulan's disillusionment, agony, bravery and forlorn quest for justice is harrowing, piteous and ultimately tragic. Wu Qian also impresses as the icily soft spoken, resolute avenging angel and mastermind of the revenge plot. As for Wu Lian, it is rare to encounter such an intelligent and downright despicable villain, masterfully acted by Qiao Zhenyu. All of the support roles come together well to paint a picture of common people from all walks of life with dreams and goals that get disrupted as they come together to get justice. The thief Li Chunfeng and the embroideress Jue Ming charmed and moved me into rooting for them most.

This kind of drama that tackles such a difficult subject matter is unlikely to appeal broad audiences. It is well executed for the most part but tends to be unnecessarily melodramatic in the later arcs. The villain origin backstory left me unmoved and is not convincing. I would expect Wu Lian's father's concubine to have impacted him in a more positive way. While this story ends in a realistic way, I am not satisfied. Wu Lian's enablers who covered for him repeatedly get off way too lightly. Finally the way this wraps up sends too strong a message that those who seek revenge dig two graves. Revenge becomes their sole purpose and end game to the extent that I wonder - did they really win? There is just too much collateral damage and sacrifice even though Humpty Dumpty can not be put together again. Maybe it would have been better to just live well. I needed to see at least one of the victims recover from this and go on to have a good life. The final What If episode 25 made me feel worse not better. I struggle with how to rate this. As much as I applaud the topic, the acting and how emotionally invested I got in the story, it left me with a hollow feeling after the ending arcs. It is still a good, thought provoking watch but I can only rate this a 7.5/10.0.

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Completed
MsDarkqueen
27 people found this review helpful
Sep 20, 2023
25 of 25 episodes seen
Completed 6
Overall 9.0
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
This review may contain spoilers

Burden of Proof


Drama has been presented in a unique 'two' connected episodes format, alternating between past timeline(odd number episodes) and present timeline (even number episodes)..... As the episodes progress, viewers get a clear picture of the events in past that catapulted events in the present.... Each character is seamlessly woven in the tapestry of story, making it cohesive and interesting.... All characters' motivation is presented through their background stories leading to their present involvement.... In episode 19, even Wu Lian's past is dwelled into...Why he developed an interest in embroidery, although it is an unpopular choice of profession for a male........... However his past did not give even a remotely plausible explanation for his proclivity.


(Seven years ago - past timeline)

Meng Wan(Janice Wu) and Lin RuLan( Hu Yi Xuan) two young girls with dreams of bright future enroll in Yanyu Tower to learn embroidery from the prestigious Wu Lian(Qiao Zhen Yu)


Wu Lian turns out to be a predator, preying on young girls of his academy. He is a sadist and a narcissistic, his modus operandi remains the same for all girls, he first humiliates them by criticising their embroidery, making them feel inadequate and then under the pretext of guiding and teaching them, he touches them inappropriately and ultimately forcibly sleeps with them. These young impressionable girls who are probably underage are meek and gullible so none dare confront him publicly. He continues to take advantage and abuses numerous young girls. Wu Lian is a powerful individual who happens to have solid backing of rich and influential Mrs. Ning. Wu Lian's embroidered pieces are sought after and even the royal family commissions him. Hence nobody dares to offend him.

After sudden and mysterious death of Ding Ru, a young girl from Yanyu Tower. Wu Lian's truth is exposed in front of Ru Lan. She herself had been a victim but believed that Wu Lian loved her, now she realises that not just her but he has bespoiled countless other young women. Ru Lan decides to fight against him and lodges a formal complain in Yamen office. Meng Wan her close confidant and fellow victim advices Ru Lan not to file such a case.

Ru Lan who strongly believes that justice prevails, goes ahead with her formal allegations, to her disappointment she realises Wu Lian manages to distort her truth in the court and she lacks sufficient evidence to incriminate him.........As a recourse to sleeping with her, Wu Lian offers to take her as his concubine......After all doors are closed to RuLan, she decides to make a final move and agrees to marry Wu Lian as a part of her plan to fabricate evidence against Wu Lian.

On her wedding day she forcibly holds Wu Lian's hand and stabs herself with a golden pin leaving the bloody pin in Wu Lian's hand as proof of her murder, she also leaves a note to be delivered to Shen Mu after her wedding saying that she is in danger enabling two constables including Shen Mu to arrive at the exact moment she falls down from the tower to her death...... However her ultimate gamble also doesn't pay off, Wu Lian goes scott free inspite of such incriminating evidence and witnesses.



(Seven years later - present timeline)

Meng Wan who is very close to RuLan plots and plans for seven years to take vengeance and expose Wu Lian's deeds. She meticulously plans everything and patiently waits for Wu Lain to fall into her trap like a spider 🕷 weaving a web 🕸 to catch insects.

Including herself, Meng Wan gathers seven other people who were somehow affected by Ru Lan's case. She forms a team that is instrumental in bringing Wu Lian's downfall....

Meng Wan prepares handwoven lanterns and hangs them in a circle, metaphorically these lanterns hung in a circle are compared to a trap closing around Wu Lian... Each Lantern has a unique line written for all NINE people involved in this crusade, Ru Lan the torch bearer followed by Meng Wan and other seven allies....Meng Wan says that each lantern is wrapped in soft paper but tough and unyielding inside like 'the women'.


Name of all nine righteous 'justice seekers' and lines written on their lanterns mentioned below:

1.Lin Ru Lan's lantern....."An adult girl is fearless. "

2.Meng Wan's lantern....."wait in the boudoir for seven years, nothing is forgotten. " ........."Seven years in seclusion. Aspiration never forgotten. "

3.Li Jia Hang's lantern....."Give a treasure hairpin to the hero. Ignite a candle light. "

4. Liu Sanniang's lantern....."A leaf in the vast ocean, floating and sinking between heaven and earth. "

5. Shen Mu's lantern....."The young man goes with the wind and returns in time. "

6.Feng Da' lantern......"The wilderness also has emotions. "

7.Haung Jiao Jiao's lantern... "Pray to silk worm mother at the door, worship the God of wealth inside. "

8. Li Chun Feng's lantern... "The path to being an official is unpredictable as debts are hard to pay. "

9.Tian Xiao ling's lantern... "Troubled by wordly affairs, seeking tranquility in the mountains. "


Meng Wan's plan involves targeting Wu Lian's wealth. Symbolically breaking 'two legs' on which he is standing as he is accumulating wealth from two sources......First, by smuggling his work abroad, evading taxes with the help of Lou Yu Jian, a corrupt official in charge of Foreign office......Second, Mrs. Ning's backing who presents his work in royal court garnering him fame and building his reputation.... Meng Wan plans to expose him in front of the public to restore RuLan's good name.... She has brought to her district an upright and unbiased, Lou Ming Zhang to investigate the case of RuLan........Road to seek justice is difficult and full of pitfalls, Meng Wan faces many set backs along the way but she perseveres.....

After several failed attempts to corner Wu Lain, the group finally find some physical evidence...... In the beginning episodes Wu Lian told RuLan that ALL plum blossom flowers are different and unique(implying all girls are different)...... No wonder he had embroidered plum blossoms on a branch of a tree and written name of each of his victims under the flower embroidery...... It is rightly said that each crime leaves some evidence and a serial rapist would keep some kind of a trophy......This embroidered plum blossom tapestry was stolen by Li Cheng Feng without knowing its true significance, it proved to be a goldmine of evidence for the group.....Meng Wan and the team then had to find one person from all those victims who would testify against Wu Lian to reopen the case.

Liu Sanniang was captured by Wu Lian when she went to gather intel regarding his embroidery convention.. Wu Lian wanted an official position so that if he was implicated again, his case would be tried at a higher court of Dali where cases were piled up, delaying in his trial....Meng Wan and the group wanted to foil his ambition as well as save Liu Sanniang, decide to attend his embroidery convention at Yanyu Tower... However the group were tricked by Wu Lian and ended up stealing the wrong key to a lock that tied Liu Sanniang to a pole in a room... They were unsuccessful in rescuing her, Liu Sanniang decided to sacrifice her life and urged the group to continue with their campaign... The group burned down Yanyu Tower and Liu Sanniang perished in fire.

Wu Lian urged his wife Mrs. Wu(Rong'er) to ask her family's help for him to acquire the official position that he hankered after, in return he promised her a divorce and freedom from her unhappy married life.... Rong'er's family agreed.... Meng Wan approached Rong'er for help, guilt ridden due to being a reluctant but willing accomplice of Wu Lian, she informs Meng Wan that she kept a secret accounts ledger of Wu Lain's expenses for abortion pills, doctors, bribery to officials etc.... Li Chun feng decides to steal that account book, he is cornered and beaten to death. Before succumbing to death he gives Meng wan and Liu Xin a letter for Tian Xiaoling.... Tian Xiaoling, another victim of Wu Lian, had been living a guilt ridden life of self imposed exile finally decides to step up and testify against Wu Lian after her beloved Li Chun feng's death.

Meng Wan, Ru Lan's brother and Tian Xiaoling petition for a retrial of Ru Lan's case... Due to Meng Wan's clever manoeuvre, His Majesty also gives an order for severe punishment to be delivered to Wu Lian... Wu Lian is found guilt of sexual assault, bribery, tax evasion....As a result of everyone's combined efforts, Wu Lian gets his 'just deserts' he is flogged heavily as punishment and would be forever banished.... In jail Wu Lian swallows a needle and commits suicide.

At last justice is served but a hefty price is paid.... Ending is more bitter than sweet but it leaves a satisfactory aftertaste.... Justice may be delayed but not denied......salute to the people who make sacrifices and pave the way for a better future.




Special Episode 25 (alternate reality- what if, These characters could restart their lives )

What if life gave these characters a reset button and they could restart their lives anew......Life is full of choices that define us, our lives are the sum total of all our decisions... One wrong turn can plummet our life to hell and another right turn can elevate it..... This episode is in NO way "Redemption" of any character but a reflection of what ifs?...... I hope all these characters in some alternate universe made a befitting choice and enjoyed a lifetime of happiness.


All the actors performed wonderfully and were appropriately cast... However, a special shout out to Qiao Zhen Yu (who played the character of Wu Lian). He played the part of Wu Lian to such perfection that he became a character that the audience would love to hate. I saw a few BTS and the actor, Qiao Zhen Yu was rehearsing a very serious scene with his fellow actress, he seemed very cooperative and helpful... It is a great feat for an actor to play the character of a villan with such distinction.



This series deals with very sensitive issues like:

1.Abuse by a person in authoritative position. In this series Wu Lian was a teacher abusing underage girls, entrusted by their parents to learn embroidery at his place....

2.Exploitation of women(men) in the workplace.... 'Me too' movement..... Victims of such abuse remain silent as they are scared that either nobody will believe their allegation or mud will be slung on their character.

3.Humiliation and harrasment faced by a woman in the hands of corrupt official while proving she was 'Raped' .........The burden of proof is on the victim's shoulder.

4. Powerful and rich people bending, twisting and breaking laws and getting away with it... Justice system works differently for influential people, through intimidation or bribery they often escape unscathed.

5.Flickle public opinion 'mob mentality'..... People are often quick to judge another person bestowing 'guilty verdict' based on rumours without waiting for actual proof... public opinion spreads like wildfire and is quite changeable from time to time, even a person held in high regard once is dragged through mud by a single 'deemed' slip.


Overall, a thought provoking story presented beautifully.


PS: I wanted to include some more details but did not want to turn this review into a book😝 so I am writing them as comments to this review... If anyone is as deeply moved by this drama as me and wishes to read more, they can read the comments below.

*comments are about Liu San Niang and Li Chun Feng's deaths..... RIP to both unsung heroes.

*My opinion regarding the author's choice for characters of Li Chun Feng (episode 22) and Liu Sanniang (episode 20)

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Details

  • Drama: Faithful
  • Country: China
  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: Sep 15, 2023 - Sep 26, 2023
  • Aired On: Monday, Tuesday, Sunday
  • Original Network: Tencent Video
  • Duration: 45 min.
  • Content Rating: Not Yet Rated

Statistics

  • Score: 8.1 (scored by 607 users)
  • Ranked: #1730
  • Popularity: #4915
  • Watchers: 2,317

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