Humorous & WittyOK, I admit, I came to watch this drama because of XiaoZhan. After the drama Chenqing Ling (The Untamed), I started to search for dramas by Xiao Zhan, and this drama is one of them. (By the way, if you haven’t watched The Untamed yet, you might want to check it out.)
Initially, at episode 1, I almost gave it up because it started off as a modern-day drama, so I thought; I had expected a historical wuxia drama. But very quickly within the first episode, it moves into historical settings and I was totally hooked since then.
Accordingly, this drama is adapted from a novel whose popular author has also written many other works including Ever Night. I have not read this particular novel (Joy of Life), but I understand that it is a super long novel, and the drama adaptation is planning for a five-year 3-season run, and we are currently in season 1. Whether the following seasons would run into any unforeseeable issues is anybody’s guess (such as the change of actors etc).
In the actual novel, it is supposedly a time travel story. But because such stories (time travel) are banned in China film production (I don’t understand why China wants to stymie such creativity), the production team has cleverly adapted the story by cutting out the time travel part hence passing censorship.
I must say, unexpectedly, this drama is so good! The story is interesting. The dialogues are funny and unexpected. The play of words and homophones, puns and use of chenyu (idioms) are hilarious, and yet witty, deep, meaningful and cultured. Too bad many of these wonderful characters (Chinese words) are lost in the translation and non-Chinese native speakers may not find the dialogues as wonderful as the native speakers do. Seemingly a light-hearted drama, but when it comes to emotional moments, the director has successfully squeezed out a tear or two from me. The acting is immaculate! I love the relationship Fan Xian has with his siblings and with others whom he considers as friends; it’s deep and genuine. Unlike most actors who act in historical dramas, Zhang Ruoyun has a presence day physique making him a perfect Fan Xian as he is supposed to be a modern man; his etiquettes are simply hilarious and Zhang delivers 100%. The supporting cast is equally good, in particular Guo Qilin who plays Fan Xian’s little brother; he is adorable and amazing. I hope to see more of him. I love the opening and ending OSTs, with the ending song being sung by Xiao Zhan, another talented actor and singer.
33 episodes in, I still haven’t seen a whiff of Xiao Zhan. Nonetheless, this hasn’t reduced the enjoyment I have got out from this delightful drama. Xiao Zhan plays a supporting role and for marketing purposes, his name is being displayed or used prominently to attract attention. I can understand why the team is doing this (Xiao Zhan is currently the hottest Chinese actor in China), but I find it deceiving and I can't say I appreciate it. This drama should receive the attention it duly deserves if being marketed properly, because it is indeed a great drama.
Finally Xiao Zhan appears at the end of episode 38. His screen time is so little that I haven't had enough time to make out of his character, and hence provide a correct assessment of his acting. Nonetheless, at the end of season 1 (episode 46), as expected, there are still tons of unsolved mysteries, new twists, plots within plots -- getting the viewers all hooked up for the next season.
If you are checking this drama out, do watch it. It’s amazingly wonderful. This is truly a wuxia story and the fighting choreography and qing gong are done beautifully. I can’t emphasize enough: it’s a MUST-WATCH!
Two thumbs up!!
Most Beautiful Drama of All TimeI’ve done a review for the full version of this drama Chenqing Ling (The Untamed) - it’s long with details (my review). In this review, I don’t want to reiterate what I’ve written before. I just want to do a "short" one for the new viewers.
Many viewers who have not watched the drama wonder if they should watch the special version or the full version. Many viewers are also uncertain why this drama has such high rating and if they are missing out anything, and if they should start watching it themselves. Some viewers also say they are disappointed and the drama doesn’t live up to their expectation.
I have read both extreme ends of the comments. Some viewers have watched this drama for umpteen times, read the novel, watched the donghua (anime), read the manhua (manga), watched all the BTS’s, read all the fanfics, fanvids, etc. (I must admit I’ve done likewise.) On the other extreme, many viewers cannot even get passed the first few episodes and cannot understand what the hype is all about. When they come to this platform (MyDramaList) to question, instead of getting answers, they get clobbered.
This drama is based on a very popular BL novel. To pass censorship in China, the BL part is suppressed if not totally eliminated. But, the production team has cleverly disguised the BL elements into thousands of little moments inserted throughout the series, including within the music, and these little moments are open to interpretation: BL fans see romance right away whereas others see only platonic friendship (that was my first impression in my first viewing). Either way, the story portrays chivalry, selflessness, and magnanimity. It provides many life lessons for all viewers.
This special edition is basically a shorter version of the drama. The original series has a slow start. Many viewers who have not read the novel get pretty confused, myself included. Many even drop the series because of it. In this special edition, the beginning 2 episodes of the original version are cut off; it goes straight to the very beginning of the timeline – 16 years ago. It also includes some scenes (very few) that are not in the original version. It cuts off many peripheral characters and scenes, and focuses more on the two main leads and their relationship. Like it or not, it is this relationship (among others) that has created the largest deluge for viewers who have watched and love this drama. It is also one of the main reasons that propels Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo, the two main leads, into stardom. Currently the duo are the most popular actors in China, receiving countless awards.
For viewers who just want to test the water, the special edition may be a good start. However, the original full version provides better explanation and overall plot of the story. A lot of the questions of this drama have been addressed here: https://mydramalist.com/discussions/the-untamed.
This drama means very different things to different people. For many fans, this is the best drama of ALL TIME. For me, this is true also because it touches certain parts of my heart. It stirs up all kinds of emotions in me which I’ve never experienced before in other dramas – happiness, sadness, light-heartedness, agony, hopefulness, hopelessness, among others. It brings me through a lot of painful experiences, and yet gives me a lot of sweetness in between and in the end.
Yes, I’d say this is a MUST-WATCH drama. It really doesn’t matter which gender and what sexual orientation you are. It doesn’t matter which culture you’ve come from. After all, we all live on the same planet, go through similar injustices in life, and most of all, can relate to the characters one way or another.
Two thumbs up!
Hilariously Funny Great WatchThis is another Isekai story whereby a female scriptwriter goes into her own story with her male lead and both fall in love with each other in the parallel historical female centric world. Imagine a historical world that has the male and female roles switched. Just the idea itself is enough to engage any viewers.
The crazy logic and plot holes here and there - all these would have been considered poor script writing and poor editing in other dramas, but for this drama, they're done on purpose and left unedited and such, have made the series absolutely lovable and funny.
The drama has a mixture of modern day directness and historical day indirectness. There are hilarious misunderstandings and strong tendency in jumping into conclusions, creating even more hilarious moments that can really make the viewers laugh out off their couches. What seemingly crazy plans always work out perfectly for Chen Qian Qian (Zhao Lu Si) and people would praise her for thinking out of the box; her mishits become perfect solutions. Han Shuo (Ding Yu Xi) has always tried to maintain his dignity and honor but with our crazy Chen Qian Qian, whatever dignity left is utterly gone because he's so hopelessly in love with her. All the dialogues are simple, childish and most of the times, illogical, but putting together, it's just so hilariously funny.
Zhao Lu Si's portrayal of Chen Qian Qian is absolutely adorable with a modern day teenager charisma. Her acting has improved tremendously in this drama. She is natural, authentic, relaxed, spontaneous and yes, very comedic. She's a perfect "Sha Bai Tian", literally means "Silly, Fair and Sweet". Zhao Lu Si is simply one of the cutest actors around.
Not particularly handsome comparatively but oh boy, Ding Yu Xi (Ryan Ding) captures hearts. He is an amazing actor, versatile in any roles from being a high school teenager to an accomplished professional. As Han Shuo, seemingly cunning and calculative, at a next turn, becomes the most silly and childish boy. It's like watching the most fearsome tiger which can suddenly turn and become a little fearful mouse. Ding's portrayal is absolutely fantastic and he brings life to the character and makes viewers truly empathize and love him.
All the side characters are brilliant in particular the two male servants of Chen Qian Qian and Han Shuo. They are stupidly cute and add enormous colors and comedies to the scenes. All their silly dialogues and facial expressions just make viewers laugh out loud, love and care for the characters.
With only 24 episodes, this drama waste no annoying fillers. Every episode is a page turner. Everything is concluded well in the end. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and hope new viewers will do too.
Amazing Female & Male Leads | Precious RomanceI almost missed this wonderful drama because Ren Jialun (aka. Allen Ren) was not on my favorite actor list. I watched him in "The Destiny of White Snake" but couldn't grow to like him. However, in this drama, he is simply fabulous! The Embroidered Uniform really makes him shine above all; he is so perfect in this amazing drama, as if the character Lu Yi is written for him.
Ren Jialun has a face that fits exactly the face of the Lu Yi character to which Yuan Jin Xia has said, "the face of the Lord of the Netherworld" because his face is sour in its resting state. I normally don't like sour faces, but I find the sour face of Ren Jialun so cool and adorable that I don't even believe myself! I love him so much in this drama that he is definitely enlisted on my favorite actor list from now on.
The character Lu Yi has a no nonsense demeanor: ruthless, few words, authoritative (he's the head of the Embroidered Uniform Guard), calm, strategic and smart. Ren Jialun simply looks so fabulous in this uniform that, together with his natural acting as an authoritative figure, he merges with Lu Yi as one.
I have always loved Tan Songyun (aka. Seven Tan) who plays the character Yuan Jin Xia. Tan Songyun is so cute and tom boyish with her cleft chin, making her a perfect gutsy police officer in this drama. She has a face that can look like a pre-teen, or a 20 something professional woman, affording her all the flexibility of a fantastic actor and fitting into any roles easily. Her acting is simply top notched.
It is rare for me to like an antagonist, and this drama provides one. The character Yan Shi Fan played by Han Dong is amazing. He's ruthless, deceitful, corrupt, scheming, and a mastermind behind all the evils. The actor Han Dong is tall and good looking. As Yan Shi Fan with a glass eye, devious and a double-faced demeanor, Han Dong's acting is simply immaculate.
The story itself is light and easy to understand and follow. The pace is perfect. There's no one moment that is boring or extra. The romance is adorable and precious. I don't have enough of the male and female leads together, going through all the adventures, solving crimes and mysteries. Every moment of them together is so beautiful, precious and sweet. Their chemistry is incredible! Their relationship has always been complementing and supplementing each other. Lu Yi is strategic and calm whereas Yuan Jin Xia is versatile and meticulous. When Jin Xia gets into trouble, Lu Yi is always there to help her escape unscathed. When Lu Yi faces danger, Jin Xia is always there to face danger with him and protect him. Both are willing to sacrifice their own lives to protect the other. Their love for each other is truthful and undying, and is of the highest level that nothing else can replace. It is this relationship that draws viewers to love the couple and shed tears for them.
This drama has all the adventures, mysteries and romance; a makes-you-feel-good kind of drama, and a great ending providing proper closure - perfect ingredients for a great drama.
This is a sweet and wonderful drama not to be missed. TWO THUMBS UP!
Best Historical Romantic Drama of 2019This is one of the very few dramas that has more depth and lets the viewers experience all kinds of emotions – love, hatred, happiness, sadness, kindness, cruelty, trust, betrayal, amongst others. Being a tragedy, this drama has captured my heart and emotions, and takes me through the journey of joy and pain.
The female lead grows from an innocent and naive girl living on the steppes/desert, into a thoughtful and self-sacrificing woman living in the palace. Her role makes her the most loved character in the drama, and Peng Xiao Ran has effortlessly achieved the high standard in her acting. She is an amazing actress – natural, beautiful and authentic.
The first male lead, Chen Xing Xu, is very young in his early 20s. He has also achieved successfully his role as the 5th Prince with a boyish personality. He gives viewers the impression of a silly thoughtless youth, and yet, he is a smart scheming lethal strategist deep down. This is a very complex character to portray and Chen has done it with flying colors.
This is a high-quality production, from acting to costumes to props. The whole cast plays their roles convincingly and effectively. All details are taken care of. There are no or few holes/loose ends.
The story itself is heart-wrenching and sad, but it also calls up many questions we may have within ourselves about life and about decisions we make daily – things may not always be what they seem to be.
Since it is a tragedy, the ending is what it is expected, a tragedy. I love the ending because there is proper closure for every character; no unnecessary killings just to write-off a character. Everyone gets what he/she deserves.
The sound tracks are the most unforgettable tunes for this drama. Each song is meaningful with sorrow and longing that are sung in beautiful melodies. I don’t know how many times I have listened to the “Little Fox” which gives me the deepest impression. The song conjures up images of a girl riding a horse running freely on the steppes, long gone is the pain one has to endure in life.
Despite it is heart-wrenching to watch some episodes that involve betrayal and killings, this is a must-watch drama. I give it a two-thumbs up.
Adorable Couple, Wonderful Chemistry, Best Contemporary Romance of Summer 2019I’ve come to watch this drama, partly because Yang Zi is my favorite actress. Initially, I was holding some reservation because I was not familiar with the major male lead, Li Xian, portraying Han Shang Yan. At my first viewing, I was not very impressed by him; he wasn't that good looking, I thought; as Han Shang Yan, he was rude, mean, nasty - a total jerk. But then, something pulled me in - the contrast of the two main characters and the theme about reaching for your dream. After just the first episode, my doubts about Li Xian dissipated. I got more than what I bargained for.
Upon further research into what the term “CTF” stands for, repeatedly referred to in the drama, I find it is something even more intriguing and more complicated than I would have imagined. CTF means Capture the Flag. It is an information security competition between security professionals about cyber security. It challenges its participants to solve computer security problems and/or capture and defend computer systems. The competition is used as a learning tool to help sharpen the tools they have learned during their training. In another words, what seemingly “a waste of time playing computer” is actually teaching and training the next generation in the most advanced field of artificial intelligence in cyber security which is the next BIG thing.
Li Xian, playing the male lead, is absolutely incredible. The actor has a calm, cool, no-nonsense demeanor. He fits into the Han Shang Yan's character perfectly as if the role is written for him. What seemingly cold and tough on the outside, is actually tender and caring inside. He may talk mean and scold his people, but cares deeply for them. He is strict and uncompromising. He commands a breath of full authority that everyone looks up to, loves and fears. He doesn't care to defend himself. He doesn't care what others think of him. To him, everything is just noise. All he has wanted is the championship, until the love of his life comes along.
This is my first drama of Li Xian's. I find him super super cool and awfully good looking. Some viewers may not find him attractive at first glance, but he has the type of look that captures hearts. At the end of the drama, like many viewers, I fall head-over-toes for him like a little crazy school girl.
I have always liked Yang Zi’s acting. I find her genuine, beautiful, cute and sweet. In this drama, she plays the character of a prodigy girl. Tong Nian is so adorable that even the coldest stone heart can be melted. She melts mine. I'm just a little disappointed that the story hasn't developed on Tong Nian's intelligence and skills in helping Han in improving his teams.
Contrasting greatly to Han Shang Yan who almost always dresses in all black outfits, Tong Nian always dresses in cute and girly style (some viewers find the outfits outrageous). With her large round eyes and puffy outfits, she looks kind of like, a squid. No wonder she calls herself Squid the Fish. This contrasts greatly with Han Shang Yan who looks damn serious and yet stylish at the same time.
Having said that, the relationship between Han Shang Yan and Tong Nian is just amazing. Despite their differences in taste, age and almost everything, their chemistry is so wonderful and undeniable. Han Shang Yan, always being misunderstood by others, only Tong Nian sees through that iron facet of him. She thinks highly of him and treasures every bit of him. It is so satisfying to see they find each other from the very beginning and nothing can separate them.
Another young actor that captures my heart is Hu Yi Tian. He portrays Han's cousin, Wu Bai, who speaks few words but always watching and listening. He covers Han Shang Yan's back always, no matter what. It is so good to watch such a trusted brotherly relationship which needs few words. One look, Wu Bai would immediately know what his cousin wants. Both completely understand and communicate love and care for each other without many words. I wish we have more scenes of Wu Bai in the drama. Hu Yi Tian definitely has a lot of potential in future with his height at 188 cm (6'2") and awesome cool look.
This drama uses also quite a lot of incredible settings. One such setting is the Atlantis Sanya Resort Hotel that features aquariums in some underwater guess rooms. It is the most beautiful hotel I've ever seen. I am also impressed by the Disney Castle model that Han Shang Yan has in his room. It has taken him years to built from the lego bricks. The iconic Disney Castle, a symbol for dreamers, depicts the dreams he has. Multiple times it worries me that Tong Nian may crush it when she's topsy-turvy.
The official theme songs sung by Li Xian and Yang Zi are pretty good. But my favorite song would be the song called "Beyond's A Brighter Future" sung by the Solo and K&K teams under various occasions. The lyrics of the song are so touching that I tear up each time hearing them. The song is very inspiring, expressing the struggle of the dreamers. It calls for all dreamers to not give up when they stumble and face obstacles. It yearns for freedom and encourages determination. Composed by Wong Ka Kui, a Hong Kong musician, in 1993, the song expresses his own pain and struggle. Sadly Wong died within months of the release of his song. Another beautiful song that strikes me is "Couldn't Leave" sung by Dimash Kudaibergen, a very talented musician from Kazakhstan. The lyrics of the song is so beautiful and appropriately depicting the difficulties and struggle each dreamer is going and has to go through.
It is heart-warming to see a group of youngsters living and playing together, and enjoying each other's company and discovering themselves in the process. Han Shang Yan is not only their leader (they call him Lao Da - meaning big brother), he is also their guardian, parent, teacher and mentor. His relationship with them is simply lovely and moving.
This is truly an amazing drama for the summer. Don't miss it. Two thumbs up!
Excellent Acting and ProductionThis is the true story of the mother of China's First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. How close this story to the real events happened more than 2,000 years ago is anybody's guess. However, many of the main characters in the story were actual people during that time. Since this is a true story, the "real romance" parts are limited. So if you are a romance buff, you may likely be disappointed.
This drama depicted the arduous journey Hao Lan had gone to survive the various palace politics, scheming, back stabbing, both in the Zhao palace (where she was from) and Qin palace (where she was married to). She helped her son become the King of Qin, who ultimately became the First Emperor of China, unifying the various kingdoms.
The cinematography of this drama is epic, the acting is excellent, and the story is exciting. One can tell that the director and his crew put in a lot of effort into making this drama. Every detail was taken care of. Everything was done close to perfection.
I love the color palette of the scenes, especially the costumes, the interior designs and decors, and the gardens. I find myself binge watching a lot. However, having said that, I find the palace politics overwhelming, and at times, I could get pretty exhausted.
This is a serious, no nonsense drama. It can get quite dry for some people who are not into history. For me, I love history and I am especially intrigued by Chinese history.
Great Plot, Great Acting, Great EndingYes, I'm hooked to this drama which was almost dropped initially because I was too impatient. The opening of the drama put me off, but then 2 episodes in, I was hooked.
I love the seriousness of this drama. There are no annoying, stupid nor silly characters. No stupid exchanges. No unnecessary misunderstandings except those that due to the flaws of the characters themselves. There is good character development.
The sword fight choreography is simply beautiful, so authentic and gracious. The wushu scenes are executed almost flawlessly with beautiful and elegant sequences and postures by the main leads. There are no stupid colorful fireworks (literally) when people fight, just real authentic sounds and movements.
The lead actors are new to me. Having said that, they appear to be wonderful actors and they each plays their roles convincingly. I grow to love them and empathize with them, even with the antagonist.
The romance is intense and sensual, and the hatred is convincing. The second male lead plays a controversial character which adds colors to the story; most viewers hate and love him. I love the story with strong male leads and strong female lead. It is so satisfying to see a strong female lead who is smart and kind, and at the same time, has the ability to protect herself and others because she can really fight (tired of those girls who try to be heroines but put others into danger when they try to protect the heroines - not in this case).
One can tell the production team has put in a lot of efforts in taking care of the details. There are no obvious holes and mismatched timelines. The music, cinematography, plots, acting, and editing are simply wonderful.
This is a drama well done!
Amazing Romance with Adorable Alien and Hot ManThis is absolutely an adorable drama. Light-hearted, cute, simply makes one laugh out loud for the silliness.
Wan Peng, playing the role of the alien girl, Chai Xiao Qi, looks like your next door neighbor's daughter with uneven teeth. It is precisely this look that makes her so adorable, pure and authentic. As an alien from another planet, she has never experienced love as we humans do on earth. All she's aware of works in high tech systems and codes. So while on earth, she is super sensitive to opposite hormonal beacons and strongly attracted to them. Despite being an alien, she is kind, upstanding and fair. New to me, but I must say Wan Peng is such an excellent actress and she nails the role perfectly. She is simply natural and convincing.
The male lead, Hsu Thassapak, plays the character Fang Leng. Appropriately named, Fang Leng is very good looking, cold and emotionless, with a loving heart for his little half brother. When their paths cross, the events that followed Chai Xiao Qi the alien and Fang Leng are hilarious, sweet and sexy. Also as a new actor to me, Hsu Thassapak is extremely good looking and hot with a perfect physique. Every move he makes is simply elegant and classy. He is such a wonderful actor and I'll be watching out for his new dramas.
Fang Leng has an unflattery name of being a casanova or a playboy, as he has a condition of not remembering or recognizing any women he dates after a rainstorm. Gradually, unaware of his own emotions, Fang Leng falls in love with Xiao Qi. Despite his condition, he does not forget Xiao Qi.
And for Xiao Qi, her goal is to retrieve her transponder so that she can return home to her planet. But no one can control love, not even for an alien; she falls for Fang Leng. She is tormented - to leave her love or stay and be away from home forever.
I love the relationship between Fang Leng and Xiao Qi, both caring for each other but at the same time, trying to hide their concerns for each other. I also love the relationships between Fang Leng and his little brother, and Fang Lie with Xiao Qi.
And of course, there are the antagonists, Fang Leng's employee, his ex-girlfriend, his step-mom and step-mom's brother. However, whatever schemes they come up with trying to hurt either Fang Leng or Xiao Qi, somehow, one way or another, the schemes are never successful.
Oh, have I mentioned the CGI tortoise? It's so adorable and well done.
This is a lovely drama to watch to help with my withdrawal syndrome from "The Untamed". Great chemistry. Must watch.
Sweet, Fun, Rom-ComThis is a low budget web drama that hardly has any promotion and goes under many viewers' radar. It is a non-serious romantic comedy, and initially, I thought I wouldn't like it. Somehow, though an easy-to-follow story, there are some twists and turns, mysteries and crimes, and a big overall conspiracy that really got me hooked on.
The acting is more like a high school drama - playful and silly. The names of the characters are hilarious to say the least. The Chinese characters used in Zhao Cuo's name have the homophone with the meaning "wrong anyway", whereas his father's name Zhao Juan Dui literally means, "All correct". The play of words in the dialogues with the names is simply hilarious.
Despite being a very light-hearted cute drama, there are some really wonderful moments, especially between the main leads and the dynamics between Zhao Cuo and his parents. With all the bickering and playfulness, Tian San Qi and Zhao Cuo have good chemistry together. I also love the side couple Bai Yi Fei and He Ruo Yao. Though very good looking, Bai Yi Fei is like a piece of wood and is very cute and funny, and He Ruo Yao has a wonderful female personality that I love.
I love the songs sung during the moments when one thinks or longs for the other. The melodies are contemporary love ballads which are very beautiful. Of all the songs, I fall in love with a nursery rhyme that is repeatedly sung by Tian San Qi and Zhao Cuo for each other; it is one of the most adorable nursery rhymes I've ever loved.
My verdict: If you don't have any other dramas to watch, or waiting in between dramas, "I've Fallen For You" is a pleasant one to watch given its light-heartedness and a short series.
A Treasure of the Chinese CultureThis is a beautiful but tragic story depicting a rigid, conservative and orthodox society. Adapted from a novel which tells the story of Princess Huirou and her love story, for the drama, the story shifts its focus and chronicles instead the life of the father of Princess Huirou, Song Emperor Renzong who reigned from 1022 – 1063 AD. Accordingly, many developments in the novel are not included in the drama, and Huirou’s love story becomes a side story. As a chronicle which is trying to adhere as closely to the real historical record as possible, there are no "fancy" actions, no "actual" antagonists, no "exciting" plots or extreme palace politics as we see in most other historical palace dramas. The story is just being told as how history was. So if you're a history buff and appreciate historical Chinese culture, you may fall in love with this drama. If you're expecting actions and plots, you may be disappointed. For me, I love this type of dramas which are hard to come by. Sadly, not many people appreciate it, hence probably the low rating which I feel does not do justice to this beautiful drama; this drama definitely deserves a higher rating.
Many viewers may find the arguments among the ministers over trivial matters (such as the dowager empress’s attire) mundane, but it is precisely these dialogues that bring out the thinking and philosophy of the society in that era, which I find immensely interesting. Confucian moral such as filial piety, and political principles such as protocol, are utmost important at the time. I find myself listening to every sentence and every choice of words carefully, watching every facial expression and body language closely so that I don’t miss anything conveyed.
Many important historical figures are portrayed here, acted beautifully and faithfully by the various cast members. My knowledge is very limited on Chinese history and its great writers, poets, calligraphers and scholars, however upon research, I was thrilled to find them on screen and the important roles they play in history, and eventually how they shape the country. Just like the western Renaissance in the 15th century when we see the births of many great artisans, during Emperor Renzong's reign, the culture of Song Dynasty, especially literature, began to flourish. Many famous litterateurs and poets in Chinese history lived or started their creative careers during his reign, including Fan Zhongyan, Ouyang Xiu and later Su Shi, Su Zhe, among others. They became the most important litterateurs in Chinese history and also began a new era of Chinese literature.
I’m so intrigued by their etiquettes and mannerism; almost everyone speaks with so much class, self-control, poise, and they all speak rhythmically. Often, it’s like a game of reading in between the lines. Everyone is articulate. Every message is subtle and intelligent without antagonizing the other party. Each exercises the highest degree of restraint and courtesy, and yet palace politics are unavoidable as the Emperor also promotes different point of views from different factions, just like modern day politics in many democratic countries. Getting one's points across without direct confrontation is perhaps the most tactful strategy and is considered a virtue. I wish we have such virtue in today's politics. Perhaps, we'd have fewer wars and happier people. I’m so impressed to see how much value the society places on meritocracy, something that is not seen in any other countries in the era. The scholars have already understood that only with meritocracy would a country flourish. I’m also surprised to see despite an authoritarian monarchy, Emperor Renzong’s court is very democratic with checks and balances.
Wang Kai’s Emperor Renzong is brilliant, from when the Emperor was a young adult to his death at 53. Wang Kai’s acting is immaculate. He has that regal look and charisma, and yet his face radiates benevolent consistently. It's so entertaining to watch those ministers arguing over trivial matters, and the suppressed amused look on the Emperor's face, and how articulately he defuses the situations without antagonizing any parties. Wang Kai’s Renzong is a perfect emperor. Despite the glory we always associate with figures of power, Emperor Renzong’s life was filled with tragedies, regrets and resignation. As a humble and frugal emperor, we also get to see his simple and subdue outfits and unflattering palace fixtures - very different scenes from the elaborate jeweled costumes and palace grandiose that we have accustomed with. Watching the whole lives of important figures passing before our eyes, I can’t help but feel the melancholy of ancient life. Wang Kai goes from a youth to become a sickly wasted man ravaged by poor health. The beautiful verses (ci) composed by Fan Zhongyan and Yan Shu, and later sung in tenor accompanied by a flute or guqin is the most beautiful song, capturing the melancholy, fitting the mood of the drama perfectly.
One of my favorite characters is Empress Cao (Maggie Jiang). Seeing her change from a fearless young lass who disguises as a boy to attend class with fellow male students, to a scrupulous regal lady when she becomes the Empress respected by all including her enemies, is the most fascinating watch. She is the one who always makes the most articulate decisions and resolves all issues which everyone submits to. Maggie Jiang’s empress is beautiful and elegant. Highly intelligent not second to the Emperor, the Empress unfortunately lives a very resigned life. I cry in my heart for her in every episode. Her longing for the Emperor is not being reciprocated openly though he has strongly wanted to, but each time, the turn of events just prevents them showing their love and admiration for each other. That’s perhaps the most frustrating part for me, seeing both love but missing the chance to show their affection time and time again.
But my favorite character of all is Huirou the Princess, although in the drama, she's only a side character. Many viewers feel she's spoiled and has behaved badly. To me, she's ahead of her time. Had she been born in today's world 1,000 years later, she would have been a world leader loved and respected by all. She is very filial pious and kind. She loves her people. Never once has she thrown a tantrum towards her palace maids nor hurt anyone, unlike the other spoiled princesses we're so accustomed to. However, she's the type who can't stand bullies and stands up against them, either for herself or for others, and that's unacceptable in that society when the bullies are the elders (in status or age). Unlike girls in those days, she has her own mind and doesn't want her life to be arranged and controlled like a puppet. Unfortunately, being a princess, she doesn't have the luxury to do what she wants; she's a state own property. And that's a disaster for a character such as hers. Had she been a man, she would have been revered for her courage and upstandingness, but for a girl in a male chauvinistic society, poor Huirou is called spoiled, selfish, stupid, and uncouth. In the later episodes, every time when she comes on screen, I can feel her screaming silently, "Live free or die". My heart aches for her. Nobody but Liang Huaiji understands her and knows she's suffocating under the system. That's why she has such a strong bond with him. As what Huaiji has said, he's her "floating timber" [in the ocean].
I’m so amazed by the acting of all the child actors. They are adorable and very good with their respective roles. I’m most impressed by Bian Cheng who portrays the Liang Huaiji character. Extremely good looking at 15, Bian Cheng’s acting is one of the best, and he has a promising acting career ahead of him. I’m eagerly waiting for his next drama playing a main role.
Eunuchs are normally loathed characters and I’m usually weary of them, but this drama produces 2 well loved eunuchs in Zhang Maoze (Ye Zuxin) and Liang Huaiji (Bian Cheng). I even secretly wish they were not in those positions so that they can love and find happiness in marriages.
Seeing a moral standard the historical figures have set for themselves, I often wonder if our modern day’s standard even comes anywhere matches that of the ancient time. While the western nations were still groping in the Dark Ages, China was already so advance in art, science and technology. It's a nice surprise to realize that golf, among many other sports, was an ancient game played by the Chinese.
If you want a heart-wrenching love story, wuxia actions, scheming palace politics, or bitching harem, no, this drama doesn't have these. But if you love authentic Chinese history and like close to real life historical experiences, this one is a very great watch. Having said that, Huirou's and Huaiji's love story is heart-wrenching, albeit just for a few episodes towards the end.
TWO THUMBS UP!
For viewers who understand Mandarin, these videos provide valuable information on the drama and its real historical characters:
Let's Go Home For Dinner“Let's go home for dinner” can even be an appropriate alternative title for this drama. For 48 episodes, the home scene of eating dinner together as one big family perhaps occurs the most times and in every episode. This scene is also the most endearing scene for me as I value family time having meals together as the most enjoyable event in life.
This drama is an investigative story with the three main leads working together from different angles to solve crimes and uncover conspiracies. They investigate government corruptions, punish the guilty, exonerate the innocents and save the kingdom. Though they have totally different personalities, they all have one common goal, that is to protect the Ming Kingdom from all dangers within and without, and to stay loyal to the Emperor throughout.
Tang Fan (Chen Kuan Hong or Darren Chen) is a low-level government official with a magnanimous heart. Though poor with a low income, he’s altruistic and generous to people around him. He has a mind of a genius but can be silly all the times, and that’s the fun part watching him getting into trouble, but somehow manages to come out in one piece. Darren Chen has a very beautiful face with delicate feminine features. Together with a slender body, he makes the most beautiful she-man I’ve ever seen. His acting with a bashful smile and puppy looking eyes catches many viewers’ hearts – he’s adorable.
Sui Zhou (Fu Meng Bo) is a calm, firm, forthright and upstanding man. Though cold, he has a warm heart. Time and time again, he covers Tang Fan’s back while Tang Fan helps him solve his investigations. He’s a good fighter and his fighting scenes are so good. A great cook perhaps in real life, Fu Meng Bo’s kitchen skill is applaudable.
I love the eunuch Wang Zhi (Liu Yao Yuan) who is perhaps the most cunning of all. Ruthless and with his enormous power, he’s also the one who helps both Tang Fan and Sui Zhou in every difficult situation they encounter. Liu Yao Yuan has a boyish face and his acting as a talented young eunuch doing all the dirty work for the Emperor and Consort Zhang, Liu Yao Yuan delivers this role convincingly. He’s perfect!
Despite their differences in personalities, all three work seamlessly together. I love the silent relationship they have with each other. Bromance or not, this friendship is utmost precious.
The supporting cast has done a most marvelous job in their respective roles. I love watching that little girl Dong’er (Huang Yang Tian Tian) who is also the adult in the room keeping the boys together in harmony. It is fun to watch how she outsmarts the boys and the disbelieved look on their faces when they are beaten. It is also fun to watch Consort Wan dresses in armor leading a team of girl soldiers to protect the Emperor.
The flashback showing how the three have met doesn’t occur until Episode 35. In this episode, it explains what has happened to their respective lives and how each gets to the current positions they are holding.
Overall, the drama has a very Jackie-Chan style. After all, he’s the director. It is fast moving, funny at times, silly dialogues, and misfortunate coincidences. There are a lot of chasing and fighting scenes, Jackie Chan’s stunts and moves. I like the great martial arts scenes with incredible sword fighting but dislike the background music during those fights. Although there are some minor plot holes, script writing and editing flaws here and there, this drama overall is a great watch. The ending is nicely done with proper closure for all characters and events. As how the final scene ends, I’m not surprised they are hinting for a season 2.
Incredible RomanceWhen I first came across Fake Princess, the title sounded cliche and the storyline tropey. I was not familiar with the actors. I thought I would watch the first episode and drop the series. To my surprise, not only I didn't drop it, in fact I was rather enjoying this drama.
She is a bandit and he's a crown prince. She wants his telescope so she steals it and they meet, and later marry each other without him knowing the actual identity of the person he is marrying. He has assumed that she's the granddaughter of the Prime Minister, his arch enemy, and a mole planted by him (the Prime Minister). But despite all the suspicions and distrusts, very quickly they fall in love with each other and become inseparable. Everything they do is for each other. Never once they betray the other. Each is always there to save the other. As a viewer, it's hard for me to drop such heart-warming storyline.
I love the Chang Le (Yu Kai Xin/Eleanor Lee) character - altruistic. wise, strong, humble, quick-witted, and intelligent. She is also unusually technologically talented. Yu Kai Xin has that casual expression and body language on her that fits perfectly well for the bandit character she's portraying.
Li Che (Zhao Yi Qin) the crown prince is one of the most adorable crown princes I've ever seen. He doesn't have the normal sharp good look of a crown prince that we are so familiar with. Instead, Li Che tends to have a blank face, a clueless look most of the time, giving the viewers the impression that he's not that smart. Perhaps he's indeed not as smart as his wife, but his devotion and upstandingness capture us all. In front of Chang Le, Li Che is like a teddy bear - compliant, devoted, silly and loving; he becomes a little boy, dependent and gullible. Zhao Yi Qin is new to me but his acting here is wonderful, delivering his character 100%.
My favorite scene of the couple would have been the moment when both try desperately to save the other from the 'poison' both have ingested. The altruism in each is amazing and brings tears to my eyes. Both are faithful to each other with one united heart.
There are 2 incredibly well-developed side couples here - Zhu Yan/Li Heng and Nong Yi/Gong Sun Mo. I have always thought the Zhu Yan/Li Heng couple would have a tragic ending whereas the Nong Yi/Gong Sun Mo a happy one. With a twist of events, they do not end as I have expected, and it's painful to watch the loss.
The villains are despicable characters. Having said that, the Prime Minister is villainous and yet super funny when it comes to his beloved teapots. I laughed so much at those scenes because they are so unexpected of his character. Being mean and nasty but not so intelligent make the villain characters very entertaining and a joy to watch.
The wuxia scenes are extremely well executed. Beautiful fighting choreography, floating hair and flying clothing making the whole scenes stunning to watch. Absolutely wonderful.
Yes, this is a good drama deserves our valuable time to watch. Don't miss it!
‘She Shen Qu Yi’‘She shen qu yi’ (舍身取义) literally means sacrificing oneself for justice. This drama is about this ideology. Everything the main characters do is based on this belief. The current political turmoil in the real world makes this drama especially comforting, giving hope that there are still many of these ‘xia yi’ people out there fighting for justice and sacrificing themselves. It's this ideology that brings tears to viewers' eyes and to love the characters.
This drama has an amazing storyline with great wuxia. It starts with a nail-biting scene, and continues to be nerve-rackingly intense almost throughout. The intensity is so great that it’s hard to watch without a drama partner. Viewers are therefore advised to find a viewing buddy before beginning this drama. Having said that, viewers may also kick off the partner half way through as the drama slows down and the plot becomes less intense.
Zuo Qingci (Zhang Yao) is a sickly but brilliant doctor who wanders the earth, saving those who can’t afford a doctor. He also has a different identity and is the mastermind to save the Emperor and the kingdom from fallen into the devil’s hand. In his quest, he finds his long lost love, a girl who has given him meaning to live at the time when he loses all hopes. Together, they meet challenges testing their love and trust for each other, and in the end they’re rewarded.
The side couples’ stories are equally enthralling. To my content, the characters are well developed and their stories are well told, and even bring tears to my eyes. Other supporting characters are pretty well developed too and they really engage the viewers’ sympathy.
All the female characters are strong, determined, dignified and brilliant (there are no love sick silly girls who go all out to get the love from their men). Even with a physically sickly female character as in Xie Jiang Er (Xu Meng Yuan), she is sensible, strong and wise. Her words are comfort to all those around her. For many of the scenes, Su Yun Luo (Zhang Ya Qin) is disguised as a boy, Fei Kou Er. Her make-up is probably one of the best disguises I’ve ever seen in a Chinese drama with dark rough skin and tattered clothing, and no boobs. Zuo Qingci’s make-up reminds me of Mei Changsu (Nirvana in Fire) – white robe with fur. Probably such style gives the viewers a sense of simplicity and frailness.
I’m really impressed by the acting, in particular by Shi Yun Peng who portrays Zhu Yan, and Deng Yu Li who plays Shen Man Qing. They have totally convinced me and captured my heart.
The only qualms I have are perhaps how they've talked about and built up of certain mysterious 'da xia' (heroic) characters, and as soon as these characters appear on screen, they're being killed off without much effort. It's really bewildering because heroes are not supposed to die easily like ants. The overall suspense building up to the climax is ruined basically by the climax itself as it doesn't match up to the built-up -- it (the climax) is not exactly unexpected and spectacular; the climax is the anti-climax. After the climax, it leaves the viewers asking the question: "What is the point of all these?" A lot of the actions and decisions by the characters, seemingly futile, can only be explained by the "she shen qu yi" belief. Again, like many Chinese dramas, the ending is weak and feels 'forced' without much effort being put into it. The main characters become pedestrians, losing all their heroic appeals.
Despite all these flaws and plot holes, I've enjoyed this drama. It is through and through a wuxia story with all the wuxia elements and virtues – brotherhood, sacrifice, devotion, endurance. At the same time, it is interjected with romances to slow down the pace for the viewers to take a breather. The story is intriguing, the fighting scenes are beautiful and convincing.
If you're a wuxia fan, you'd love this drama. If you're a romance buff, you'd equally love this drama. Amazing story, amazing acting, amazing music, amazing cinematography. It’s a must-watch and deserves a rare 10/10.
Two thumbs up!
An Under Appreciated Drama with Good EndingWhen I watched the trailer for this drama, it looked very good. I was disappointed when I started watching. As it was tagged "tragedy", I was expecting serious and somber performance. The "tragedy" tag was later removed.
The beginning of the story is comedic. Everything is silly, stupid and crazy, including the villains. The male lead looks villainous; the female lead cute with large watery eyes which tear up easily; the supposedly villain silly and funny. I was confused - is this supposed to be a comedy? I couldn't decide to continue or drop.
Ten episodes in, the mood changes. It becomes serious and intense. No more silly characters. Every character becomes mature and somber. Though there are still holes here and there, the plot thickens. I begin to empathize with the male and female leads. I even begin to love the supposedly villain who turns out to be an undercover. My heart begins to break with the pain General Wei Kuang is going through - his lost love, his love for the country and his predicament.
The building up of the story is important. Skipping episodes may make you confuse with why the characters make the choices as they do. Therefore, one may need to have more patience with the earlier episodes so that you can enjoy the later episodes better.
The final episodes are good compared to many other dramas. There are no unnecessary deaths. The evil doers end with what they deserve. The good people are rewarded with the fruits they sow. There are many lessons learned. There are also heart-wrenching moments, especially with the main characters, and one can feel the pain and sacrifices they make for the good of all.
This is a pretty good story. The main couple have been true to each other from the beginning till the end. Their love for each other never wanes, only stronger. They sacrifice for their country and for each other. They fight all the scheming and darkness hand-in-hand. They are open with each other, never holding anything back. There's never been any annoying misunderstanding between the two (many Chinese dramas love misunderstandings which I hate).
I love this story and the acting. My heart feels for General Wei, his pain when he returns from war and finds his love gone. But he never stops loving her, neither she loving him. It's a very touching story which you may enjoy.
I have truly enjoyed this drama. It may not be the drama of the year, but I feel it deserves our attention, and for us to give credit to the actors who have done a pretty good job.
Yes, this is one of those rare historical dramas that deserves to be watched and enjoyed.