Thank you for stumbling across another drama recommendation! This one's taken me (and others) by storm since I heard about the novel, webtoon, anime and now drama! It's called The Untamed but also goes by The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation. This article hopes to show you why it's so addictive and entice you into more Chinese dramas. Anyone else ecstatic about this adaptation? I certainly am!
This story jumps from different genres but mainly settles on horror, bromance, mystery and adventure. Possibly in that order. So we have Wei Wu Xian as the most powerful, feared, and breaking all the rules to cultivate a different path that's inherently quite evil. There are ghosts, zombies, deities and all sorts of beings that exist due to energy. Wei Wu Xian forges a new path by harvesting intense resentful energy of those murdered etc. We see Wei Wu Xian at the height of his power but also at some kind of betrayal, and Wei Wu Xian disappears. Dead? Alive? Neither? No one knows and 16 years pass.
Then, he wakes up in a body that someone has called him into and has free reign again. We start here with the mystery of what already happened to Wei Wu Xian, why these events happened and the state of the cultivation world. Cue meeting old friends and, ahem, flames, to adventures travelling around and trying to find out more. He immediately comes across Lan Wang Ji and Jiang Cheng, both pivotal people in his life and the day he disappeared.
Adapted from the Novel: Mo Dao Zu Shi / The Founder of Diabolism / The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu.
Wei Wu Xian / Wei Ying / Mo Xuan Yu / Yiling Patriarch
played by Sean Xiao
So he has a lot of different names depending on what title you call him. There's the Yiling Patriarch as a title, Wei Ying an informal name but basically, he plays the one person that has a lot of names, except when he turns up in the body of Mo Xuan Yu. Not a spoiler, just a lot of set-up in those first couples of scenes and all the blurbs!
Lan Wang Ji / Lan Zhan / Hanguang Jun
played by Wang Yi Bo
Similar set-up with the names so he's Lan Zhan when you're informal, and Hanguang Jun (Two Jades of Lan) is one of his titles. Lan Wang Ji is definitely a poker-face and his true feelings are often so deeply buried you'd think he's emotionless. We get to see Wei Wu Xian provoke and ruin his control, trying for the life of himself to get Lan Wang Ji to live a little. After Wei Wu Xian comes back to life, he thinks of Lan Wang Ji as his archenemy and instrumental in his downfall. What would change if his new identity was uncovered?
Our lovely cast
Wen Ning played by Yu Bin. This is one of the most interesting character growths and I'm still currently watching! I haven't finished any of the adaptions but I see comments about the mystery surrounding this cinnamon bun. From the kindest person and giving off little brother vibes to Ghost General. One, when did he become a General or was that after the Ghost-ness? Also, what happened to our lovely Wen Ning! I love all the scenes he shares with Wei WuXian because you really see him shyly coming out of his shell. Also, his scenes with his sister are just classic siblings but with an obedient little brother. Well, mostly. You can really see the bond they share and the best parts about being siblings.
Jiang Cheng played by Wang Zhuo Cheng. What? That's probably the most succinct description that sums him up. There's a lot going on! He also has a dramatic change and you can feel the agony of his tough decisions. Are there any right decisions you can make when every decision will lead to disaster? He really makes you think about how you would have chosen. A lot of the characters do. He moves from childhood friends to wanting to destroy anyone even remotely resembling Wei WuXian in appearance or cultivation. Again, what? Big part of the mystery and you'll see this switch in what felt like 5 minutes.
Lan Xi Chen played by Liu Hai Kuan. Brother of Lan Wangji and can win the most supportive brother award if there was one. Also, gorgeous style! I love how calm he is and when he smiles. He's got a title with his brother Lan Wangji called Hanguang Jun that means: Two Jades of Lan. Everyone knows they're both gorgeous so it's become their titles as well!
First strong friendship
Wei WuXian can be friendly to anyone and everyone, but honestly, he can be a bit much. You see his friend's face there? Wei WuXian did that. So what do I mean by first friendship? I might be going out on a limb here, but Wei WuXian hasn't actively tried to make genuine lasting friendships so much as accommodate others. I'm guessing that he does this as an automatic and perhaps subconscious reaction. So I'm arguing that his pursuing of Lan Wangji is his first true strong friendship.
So there's a slow-burn bromance and whatever else you call it. Wei Wu Xian is a mischievous troublemaker, and he is determined to be friends with the Lan Wang Ji that never strays from strict discipline. Lan Wang Ji doesn't want to be friends with him, doesn't need to be friends, and their bond is all the stronger for it.
To the people in Wei Wu Xian's surroundings, how much can be said for their faith in Wei Wu Xian? They're friends, yes, but they were also going to be around each other regardless. Lan Wang Ji is the exception. Moreover, Lan Wang Ji's brother supports this friendship because he, not so subtly, said Lan Wang Ji has never had friends. Did I hear that right?
Who else was super curious how this cutie-pie became the ferocious General? This is before whatever it is that happens to change him and he's being an obedient little brother. His sister has such a deep affection for him, wanting to protect him from all harm and taking on more of a caring role. In the world that they're in, I'm sure we're in for more pain. Also, check out the lighting! I was captivated by so many scenes not only for the plot but for the artistry of design.
How beautiful this is! We switch around different sects because there are all kinds of cultivation and culture around them. Not only the cultivation techniques but the ways of life are so different among the sects, large groups with an inner family and outer disciples that have joined. Looking at the transition from place to place, you can really feel their deep culture and reluctance to change. Change isn't necessarily what's avoided, but preserving the foundations and goals of the sects are the key. The amount of rules the Lan sect has is numerous. Wei WuXian single-handedly added on possibly thousands because the Lan sect was sick of him breaking rules or trying to wiggle out on technicalities. He raises the blood pressure indeed!
I'll leave these two to tempt you to find out more! They really come from different sects and have such different opinions and ways of life. You can see with their clothing that they kinda match each other though, right? Well, I think they do. I quickly became Jiang YanLi's fan, played by Xuan Lu. Next to her is Jin Zi Xuan, played by Cao Yu Chen.
Remember that title about being the two Jades of Lan? Here they are in action. Their sect is so calm and collected. I like the tones of blue that put emphasis on this. Even for his sect, he's in pure white which I feel shows just how unconnected with the mortal world he feels. The real world is messy. How does he keep those robes so clean, that posture so straight and so seemingly unconcerned?
The Novel and adaptations
Curious about the novel? So the content you may have noticed has some gaps. Here's the summary to the novel:
As the grandmaster who founded the Demonic Sect, Wei WuXian roamed the world in his wanton ways, hated by millions for the chaos he created. In the end, he was backstabbed by his dearest shidi and killed by powerful clans that combined to overpower him. He incarnates into the body of a lunatic who was abandoned by his clan and is later, unwillingly, taken away by a famous cultivator among the clans — Lan WangJi, his archenemy. This marks the start of a thrilling yet hilarious journey of attacking monsters, solving mysteries, and raising children. From the mutual flirtation along the way, Wei WuXian slowly realises that Lan WangJi, a seemingly haughty and indifferent poker-face, holds more feelings for Wei WuXian than he is letting on.
The anime again has some gaps, more due to the laws and regulations set in China for various limitations. That's also why this drama is suddenly picking up the pace in releasing episodes so that it can fully air before another restriction takes place. If historical dramas are too popular, they're going to be restricted further, from my limited understanding. The fan community for this series are lovely, and you can honestly see some great scenes. The costuming and scenery have been kicked up a notch, and it's terrific.
Final thoughts: I'm enjoying this series so far, actually more than I did the anime. It's heartbreaking, thrilling and visually so very appealing. If you're after a more prolonged and fantastical adventure, then this is for you. Am I the only one getting a kick out of musical instruments becoming deadly weapons? It's great!
What are your thoughts on this drama so far?
Thanks for reading!