(This article contains spoilers. To limit the number of spoilers, only the first arc of the story will be covered.)
If you enjoyed romance xianxias such as Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms and Ashes of Love, then Love and Destiny (aka Chen Xi Yuan) is the summer drama of your choice. For a little background information, Love and Destiny is a spinoff of Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, with a different story set in the same universe, both about love that spans across three lifetimes. The story is far from original, sharing its resemblances with Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, Ashes of Love, Journey of Flower, and even a bit of Princess Agents, causing Love and Destiny to be looked down on before it was even aired. Surprisingly, Love and Destiny ended up topping all of the aforementioned dramas in terms of Douban score, rising to 8.2 from its initial score of 5.5. The acting abilities of the lead actor and actress, Chang Chen and Ni Ni were also critically acclaimed.
As a big fan of Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms and Ashes of Love and groundbreaking romances, I couldn’t contain my excitement when I heard about Love and Destiny. And to my surprise, I realized that other than being a carbon copy of the other xianxias like people thought at first, it had its own unique charms that were vastly different! It ended up being my favourite xianxia drama and seeing how underrated it is; I highly recommend MDLers to watch this!
The story follows low immortal Ling Xi, the descendant of the Phoenix Tribe, as she causes a ruckus in the Heaven Realm in an attempt to deliver medicine on behalf of her drunk father. Since a young age, she has read many books about the Great Battle between the God of War and the Demon Tribe and is a big fan of the God of War despite not having seen his face. Oblivious about the dark powers residing inside of her, she mistakenly wakes both the Demon King’s pet and our male lead, the God of War, who has been in a frozen slumber for 50,000 years since the Great Battle with the Demon Tribe. These occurrences fill the Heaven Realm with unease, fearing that the Demon King that was sealed away would rise once again.
God of War Jiu Chen feels suspicious about Ling Xi’s abilities and decides to keep her by his side for further investigation. Exciting sparks happen between the two as she works for him in his chambers. The innocent, witty, and talkative Ling Xi is a polar opposite of Jiu Chen, who is self-restraining, stern and extremely quiet. Unlike others who fear his presence, she always speaks her mind and talks to him in a casual manner.
Jiu Chen suffers from post-traumatic stress and a chronic “icing” condition from the war, while Ling Xi tries her best to tend to him. Despite being frail and powerless, she often risks her life, saving him without thinking twice, and unwaveringly believes in his righteousness even when others doubted him. Slowly but steadily, she melts him BOTH literally and figuratively and finds her way into this 160,000-year-old virgin’s heart *snickers*. Jiu Chen doesn’t know what to do with her and lets her do whatever she wants most of the time, tolerating her mischievous acts and endless chattering. Even though he never smiles, Jiu Chen can’t help but steal some laughs when Ling Xi is herself.
Meanwhile, various characters are plotting to bring down our main leads. The God of Thunder tries to abolish Jiu Chen’s position as the God of War, main antagonist and love rival Yuan Tong begins inflicting harm on our poor Ling Xi, and the Demon King tries to unleash Ling Xi’s hidden dark powers that he had planted on her long ago. To make matters worse, Yuan Tong reveals that Ling Xi is the key to unsealing the Demon King, which puts Ling Xi into danger. As conflict arises in the six realms, it is up to our leads to save both the world and their love.
Jiu Chen must then choose between the lives of the universe and the life of one woman. With many at stake, can our mighty God of War take matters into his own hands and protect what is important to him? Who really is Ling Xi? And can the two defy all odds and be together? Watch the drama to find out!
The above is a summary of the first arc (lifetime 1 out of 3), which develops a bit more slowly and focuses on world-building, a slow-burn relationship between the leads, and has an angsty transition to the second arc. This may scare away many viewers at the beginning, but worry not, because I promise it will all pay off in the second and third arcs, which are FULL of cute, fluttery moments that gave me cavities. I swear they are the most romantic OTP ever, and I have to rewatch their OTP moments at least once a day!
- Jiu Chen’s character was tailor-made for the actor Chang Chen. The writers came up with the story and character while they were filming Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms. They had Chang Chen in mind when they wrote the character, and requested explicitly for him to play it. That explains why it fits him so well!
- “Jiu” (九) in Jiu Chen’s name means “nine”, and “Ling” (靈) in “Ling Xi’s name sounds the same as “Ling” (零) which means “zero”. Their names are the first and last numbers respectively, representing that they are far apart in status, character and physically, and that meeting each other defies these odds.
- The moon symbolizes Jiu Chen and dusk tide represents Ling Xi. This is evidential from the trailers, their names, and the lyrics of the ending song titled “水从天上来” (literal translation: “Water from Heavens”), which uses the attraction between the moon and the tidal waves as a metaphor for their love. (The gravitational pull of the moon creates waves.)
- At first Love and Destiny generated a lot of hate from Chinese netizens because they were disappointed that such a prestigious big-screen actor Chang Chen would choose to star in a historical idol drama. They also did not have high hopes towards the story as they had mixed views towards Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms. After the drama finished airing, a lot of them fell in love with the drama.
Reasons you should watch this drama:
- If you enjoyed other xianxias romances, you'd enjoy this one because it’s just as good if not better
- The plot only gets better and has some pretty thought-provoking moments
- It has the best romance, which is cute, mature, self-sacrificing, and you can see it develop in real-time
- It features REAL kisses, and surprisingly steamy moments *cough*
- The characters are fun, even some of the antagonists
- There’s humorous dialogue sprinkled here and there, which is a rare sight in historical dramas
- Chang Chen’s god-level acting – I don’t have to explain this, do I?
Reasons you may hesitate in watching this drama:
- The male lead looks old – Frankly, I thought so too at first, but he quickly grew on me and other audiences who thought that way; his character is too awesome in this, and besides, there’s no other person who would outplay Chang Chen as Jiu Chen.
- The female lead seems weak – Trust me, she isn’t your average stupid female lead. She is naturally innocent, playful and sees the good in people, but she is actually quite smart and witty, and ultimately takes her fate in her own hands.
- There are too many episodes – The episodes fly by! It gets SO GOOD on episodes 50+ onwards, and I wish there were more.
- I tried watching it but couldn’t get into it – It is a bit slow at first, but it pays off, especially during the second and third arcs. The angst makes the sweetness even better.
Packed with a right balance of comedy, angst, lightheartedness and melodrama, this drama puts you on a journey through three lives of love, life, death and destiny. Since the leads have opposite personalities, that makes their on-screen chemistry and bickering fun to watch, it's also entertaining to see the mighty God of War look all flustered and awkward when experiencing love for the first time. In short, Love and Destiny is a must-watch.
And that's it for today! If you liked my article, be sure to tune into my previous works and please look forward to my next one! Last but not least, please do leave a comment below and tell me your thoughts!