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by mysecretsoul on November 20, 2013
29.7K 72

(Lan Ling Wang, Prince of Orchid Hill)

Introduction to the Writers

mysecretsoul (mss) pens ostentatious reviews for MDL sometimes; she may have also come in contact with some of you during a recap process or two. That's how she met her partner on this project, in any case! When she isn't spinning words, mss is sampling dramas of every genre.

dapinaymrs (dpmrs) is keeping away from her usual dose of Korean and Japanese dramas and recently decided to renew her acquaintance with Chinese wuxia dramas. As always, she can't resist history, proving to be a good bait to watch and write about.

Why Write About This Drama?

: This is an addictive tale, a rare drama which made me lose total objectivity about its flaws. I often found myself reacting emotionally (rather than logically, as I tend to).  But most impressive about the entire experience is how deeply enriching it has ended; learning about the time period, even down to its modern cultural impact, has been nothing but a pleasure.

: While I couldn't fully suspend disbelief for this drama, I found myself engrossed in reading real history, which hasn't happened to me for more than a year now. Reading about Northern China's Qi and Zhou dynasties fueled my desire to see more of the drama and made me realize it held certain truths and even a lighter portrayal of its characters compared to their real-life counterparts.

The Story

In an era when many kingdoms dotted the Chinese landscape, the nations of Qi and Zhou are engaged in bloody warfare. Each hopes to eradicate the other, so that the world may be united under one dynasty.

An ordinary girl named Yang Xue Wu leads an existence separate from this turmoil, sheltered in the mists of White Mountain Village. Her peaceful days are spent alongside her grandmother, tinkering with fireworks or chasing the odd chicken. But Xue Wu also carries the burden of an extraordinary fate; she is the last of a mythical bloodline, the final Heavenly Maiden. Despite her seeming lack of magical prowess, the stories all say that whoever possesses her will also possess the world.

After the events set in motion by one fateful meeting, Xue Wu finds herself drawn steadily by destiny — and two of the greatest men of her time: Lan Ling Wang, the beautiful masked general of Qi, and dignified Zhou Emperor, Yu Wen Yong. But when tomorrow has been written cruel as war, might freewill overtake it? Can Xue Wu be allowed to run toward a peaceful future, or will foretold tragedy swallow everything?

Historical Basis

Prince of Lan Ling is based on the life of the legendary masked general of Qi, Gao Changgong, and historical/political circumstances in 6th Century Northern China. 

In Chinese history, the Prince of Lan Ling was most known in his rescue of Jinyong city (Luoyang today) where he led 500 men to battle, defeating 100,000 invading soldiers of its neighboring Zhou country. Legend has it the 500 courageous men of Qi charged through the enemy lines and to the city gate to aid in its defense.
When Jinyong's dispirited soldiers doubted the identity of the masked warrior, the prince took off his helmet and mask and in doing so the soldiers of the city rejoiced and were filled with renewed hope. 
The battle's fame would outlast the prince's lifetime and would be immortalized through a song-and-dance known as 'Prince of Lan Ling in Battle'. The performance was such a hit that it persisted throughout the decades after Qi was conquered by Zhou and even became an imperial court dance in the succeeding Sui dynasty. 

More than a century later, the story and the dance reached Japan and was called 'Ran Ryo-O Nyujin Kyoku' (Lan Ling Wang Ru Zhen Qu). It remains a popular traditional dance in the country to date. Ironically, China lost this tradition.

Characters and Performances

Fourth Lord/Gao Changgong

Famous for his mythical beauty and noble heart, Gao Changgong heads the armies of Qi as its most distinguished general. The populace of his beloved country holds him in high esteem, even while the men at his disposal will heed none other. Nevertheless, this fierce adoration and loyalty showered upon Gao Changgong leads his peers and superiors alike to irrational jealousy. Deep in his heart of hearts, our hero only desires a peaceful life away from war and government. But between enemies abroad and at home, can his dream be realized? His appellation, "Lan Ling Wang," or "Prince of Lan Ling," is the origin of the series title.

On Feng Shao Feng:

mss: Initially I couldn't understand why Fourth Lord drew me in; characters written as heroes often walk the line of one-dimesionality, feeling dime-a-dozen. But once I saw Feng Shao Feng flash his gorgeous smile, I realized quickly. He has the quiet, natural charisma perfect for historical roles; affection for him springs up up without warning. Not only that, but his eyes are particularly expressive, something many of us (including myself) enjoy in an actor.

dpmrs: I had no idea who Feng Shao Feng was before watching this so at first I thought: will he measure up to his character? But as you said, he has a quiet charisma that pulls you in. 

Yang Xue Wu

So that she might be shielded from the tragic fate promised by her bloodline, Xue Wu lives cloistered in White Mountain Village. Our heroine manages easy cheer and pluck despite the somewhat cruel treatment she suffers from others her age. Yet something she never manifests is magical power, exhibiting remarkable resourcefulness instead. As a child, she once overheard her grandmother sharing visions of future conflict with a Zhou noble; ever since that day, Xue Wu has felt inexplicable fascination with the righteous Prince of Lan Ling. Like him, she cannot stand wrongdoing of any kind — a quality which leads to the event that will end her simple days forever.

On Ariel Lin:

: I watched Legend of the Condor Heroes (LOCH) 2008 alongside Prince of Lan Ling and in both dramas Ariel played female lead. But between the two I have got to say I liked Huang Rong better than Yang Xue Wu. However for her portrayal of Xue Wu, there is a maturity, a level of growth that emanates from her. 

: Well said! Something about Ariel merely works regardless of the role. Despite inconsistencies in her character, this actress just makes you root for Xue Wu throughout. Especially in the late game, you could just feel the growth of her depiction come through. I still can't believe this is the same persistent candy girl from It Started With a Kiss!

Yu Wen Yong

Now emperor of Zhou, Yu Wen Yong was first a survivor. Raised in a palace swarming with metaphorical wolves ready to devour him for a shot at power, he learned to bury his weaknesses from an early age. His experience molded him into a pragmatic young ruler, one unafraid to manipulate others or wield authority as a weapon. However, though he appears harsh or even unscrupulous, the care and duty Yu Wen Yong feels toward his people cannot be denied. When war brings him before a certain person, will it be the road to victory or his heart that opens?

On Daniel Chan:

mss: Getting me started about Daniel Chan might be dangerous. While it might not be the first time I've fallen for an actor and his character simultaneously, this is the first time it's stuck. As Yu Wen Yong, Daniel steals the show with commanding presence. Believable as emperor, down to tightly controlled and dignified posture (even when humbled), his scenes will deeply impact the viewer. Oh, and the Ariel Lin that retired from television dramas? She agreed to appear the moment she heard Daniel was attached to the project. Can't blame her; it took all my power not to gush in this section.

dpmrs: If Feng Shao Feng has a natural charisma, then Daniel Chan has a natural air of regalness perfect for his role. His character was actually a great figure in Chinese history and I wanted him to appear more each time.

Gao Wei

While growing up and even after he succeeded the throne, Gao Wei lived in the shadow of his favored cousin, Gao Changgong. As an emperor, he was easily goaded into acts of self-indulgence and lacked neither sound political sense to rule the kingdom nor the sense of duty to take care of his people. Ignorant of his own allies and enemies, Gao Wei had the blood of Qi's most loyal subjects on his hands. Sadly in the end, no one was left to defend him and Qi from their impending downfall.

On Zhai Tian Lin:

dpmrs: I was surprised at this character because I didn't expect him to be that worse in real life! So for Zhai Tian Lin nailing the agonized, paranoid Gao Wei, I felt like I understood a part of his emotions. But having said that, I still hate his character though! 

mss: Of the things I hated about Gao Wei, Zian Tian Lin's performance is not included. He does surprisingly well in most respects, keeping Gao Wei from dropping into mindless evil. Ditto on hating him anyway, though! Comparing his work (as well as character trajectory) with Daniel Chan as Yu Wen Yong can be very enlightening. 

Zheng Er

A former palace maid, Zheng Er was enamored with the Fourth Lord and tried in earnest to win his favor by using the skills and tactics she learned from the palace. However, she unwittingly gets herself involved in the plot to take the Fourth Lord down and ends up suffering the consequences. Zheng Er takes on a hateful road to vengeance and her obsession will drive her to do things unfathomable.

On Mao Lin Lin:

mss: Objectivity and Zheng Er cannot exist on the same plane. There were times I wondered without basis whether the actress possessed a similar evil streak in real life. Mao Lin Lin did too good of a job, if you ask me.

dpmrs: I can't put it as precisely as you did. This person successfully made me irrational. She was so into character that I can't see who Mao Lin Lin is! Way too good and way too bad.

An De Wang

Most beloved among the brothers of Gao Changgong, An De Wang similarly takes his title from the land which he oversees (An De). He is an unapologetic womanizer with more concubines than can be counted, as reliable in flirting as in battle. An De Wang stands stalwartly at his respected brother's side, hoping only to aid him and earn his wholehearted recognition.

On George Hu:

: Out of all the cast, George Hu probably has the best facial expressions to convey a multitude of emotions. He does it at the right time with the right amount. I only wish he had more screen time!

: Apparently, netizens often commented that George Hu was more lovely than Lan Ling Wang! And, as my friend said, his facial expressions are delightful. Watch out for his comedic relief; sometimes An De Wang can be laugh-out-loud funny.

Han Xiao Dong

No hero or heroine can do without a sidekick. With unfaltering support and loyalty in spades, Han Xiao Dong is more than willing to sacrifice life and limb for his lady, Yang Xue Wu. Despite a somewhat rocky first meeting, destiny continues to draw the two together. It quickly becomes clear they are meant to be friends to the last -- no matter where that may lead.

On Wen Qian Xiang:

Nobody could probably compare to Xiao Dong for his loyalty and Wen Qian Xiang did a good job playing the part. He is a developing talent to look out for in the future. However, given the exposure, I'd like to see Wang Zheng (the actor who plays Yuwen Shen Ju) develop more supporting roles as well.

Absolutely agreed. Equipped with a handsome face and fine acting choices, Wen Qian Xiang was just as memorable as George Hu. I adored how he fused modern mannerisms with those of the time period; there was something very familiar and brotherly about him. It can sometimes be hard to connect with supporting characters, but not in this case.


: Prince of Lan Ling adopts a crisp and beautiful standard. With the look of a shoujo manga sprung to life (in a good way), costumes and settings embody a fanciful feeling. Despite inaccuracies avid historical fans might notice, these are often eye-catching and gorgeous. Western viewers may not be accustomed to the somewhat shaky CG effects used at times, but be assured it's sparing when not tasteful. Highlights for me included the war scenes, weighty looking armor, and wuxia flavor between romantic and action scenes alike. And the color palette used for this drama is just exquisite.

dpmrs: Lan Ling Wang made creative use of graphics. I especially liked the comic-like presentation of the prophecy which was shown in the first episode. It was tastefully made, historically accurate even if it was infused with a fantasy element, and made the story easier to understand. The battle scenes, although few, were select points in the Qi-Zhou war and are something to look forward to. 

Check out an interesting trailer here!


Chinese costumes have always been elaborate and Lan Ling Wang was no exception. While there was a contemporary feel about the ladies' dresses,  we found the contrast in Zhou and Qi attires notable. For example, the emperors:
And the women, typified by Xue Wu and Zheng Er (whose costumes are somewhat alien to the time period):


For your listening pleasure, we've included the tender ballad from Della Ding (Heart of Palms). Other memorable tracks are provided by Mayday, Jia Jia, and actor Daniel Chan. Give them a listen, it's all lovely! The instrumentals follow a similar suitable pattern.

So Why Should You Watch This?

Prince of Lan Ling might just be your next drama if...

dpmrs: ...You're one of the few crazy drama addicts who thrive on romance with bits of comedy, tragedy, battlefield action, historical truths infused with fiction, tragedy, revenge, bromance and did I mention tragedy? Okay, wait...What? You're gonna watch it? Crazy! :D

mss: Couldn't have said it better myself. Just think of the effect this drama must have had on us to spawn an intense guide. Prepare a box of tissues and get watching!