Titles: 山海经之赤影传说 (Shan Hai Jing Zhi Chi Ying Chuan Shuo) / The Classic of Mountains and Seas
- Zhang Han as Chi Yu and Xin Yue Hu
- Gülnezer Bextiyar (Gu Li Na Zha) as Su Mo
- Kenny Kwan as Shang Guan Jin
- Lyric Lan as Fu Er
- Li Chao as Bai Li Han
- Wu Lei as Shi Pei Pei
- Yin Zhen as Su Shui
- Wan Ni En as Hong Ling
- Liu Zhang De as A Su
- Li Mao as Bai Li Bing
- Tang Wan as Liu Ruo Shuang
- Pu Shuo as Yu Yang
- Vengo Gao as Bin Yi
- Gao Jun Xian as Sun Ju
- Liu Qi as Xiao Yang
- Tian Yu Peng as Hong Tai
Directed by: Zhu Ruibin
Plot (from Wiki):
Based on a classical text, the drama tells the tale of a royal who is abandoned at the young age of ten because of a prophecy that said he would kill his father. As he grows up, he must deal with two parts of him that fight between good and evil.
Sincerely, I watched this drama only because of Zhang Han (and other new actors as Wu Lei and Yin Zhen). My expectations weren’t high about this series (and my experience has proved that Zhang Han’s dramas are either awesome or kinda lame). You won’t find unexpected plot twists or awesome scripting in TCMS, its storyline follows the overused clichés of a sadly large number of chinese series.
Basically, the story is about two group of people who are fated by astrological signs to invoke mystical creatures, which can offer them splendid strength and fulfill their wishes.
- The “good” guys are the group of the “bird”, leaded by Su Mo and formed by Chi Yu, Shang Guan Jin, Shi Pei Pei, Hong Ling, A Su, Bai Li Bing and Su Shui
- The “bad” guys are the group of the “dragon”, leaded by Fu Er and formed by Bai Li Han, Liu Ruo Shuang, Yu Yang, Sun Ju, Bin Yi, Xiao Yan and Xin Yue Hu
In short terms, the story is a “competition” between both groups to invoke their corresponding mystical creature before the other group achieves this.
(SPOILERS) The female lead is (of course) an innocent and kind orphan named Su Mo, portrayed by Gu Li Na Zha (GLNZ). I was curious about how Gu Li Na Zha (GLNZ) was going to deal with the first lead role, I got to know her in Xuan Yuan Sword and I think her acting there was disappointing. Fortunately, her role as Su Mo was “appropiate”, I didn’t dislike her but neither especially like her. Also, her character development isn’t outstanding. I felt sad for her sometimes when she cried, but mostly because of the reasons why she was crying and not because of her sorrow itself.
However, I haven’t watch her in many roles, so I can’t state if is her acting or the deficiency of the plot what makes me feel this “indifferent”.
Then, Zhang Han (ZH) portrays two different roles in this series: Chi Yu as the “good” side and Xin Yue Hu as the “bad” side. They are two parts who fight in order to conquer a single body. Chi Yu seems to be cold-blooded (Su Mo calls him, literally, “cold-faced ghost”) and insensitive, being mean sometimes and acting brusquely; but in fact he’s really caring and concerned.
Since his childhood, his father, the Emperor of Qing Qiu (making him the Crown Prince), has tried to kill him because a seer told them that he would bring disaster to the kingdom and his father. As a result, he escaped from his father’s persecution with his loyal friend Hong Tai, living as an outlaw and trying to overcome his “destiny”, predicted by the seer. He even had to bear the death of his beloved mother, killed in front of him by his father. In this aspect, he’s really restrained and strong-willed: no matter how much he’s suffering, he controls himself and his anger in all the manners, knowing that if he kills his father in revenge he would be confirming that “fate” in which he doesn’t believe.
It may not be Zhang Han’s best role (and it kinda reminds me of his role as Leng Xue at The Four, series which I found average as well), but considering other characters, his “character development” and background may be the most interesting in the drama.
He loves Su Mo and Su Mo loves him, and I confess to have fangirled over this OTP while watching the series. They shared cute moments and I think knowing that the actors are a real life couple helped a little. However, do they have a great on-screen chemistry? My answer would be “it depends”… Zhang Han is one of the actors which I most enjoy watching during his on-screen kissings, and ‘though I screamed (a little) as a proper fangirl when these two kissed, I didn’t find it as quivering as I would expected. It may be a consequence of my problems empathizing with GLNZ’s roles (?).
On the other hand, what happens with Xin Yue Hu? Most of the time is him who lives in the shadows, unnoticed by everyone, even Chi Yu. Xin Yue Hu only appears when Chi Yu is greatly shocked emotionally, and he gets to conquer the body when Hong Tai died in Chi Yu’s arms and later thought to have killed his own father, fulfilling the forecast that had cursed all his life. It’s here when Xin Yue Hu finally achieves to control the body and make Chi Yu “disappear” (people, including Su Mo, think Chi Yu has died).
The first thing you notice about Xin Yue Hu is… EVIL EYELINER and HORRIBLE COSTUMES. It’s like the producers wanted you to shiver each time he gets on-screen, maybe warning flashily everyone that Xin Yue Hu is here now and Chi Yu and his (more or less) decent wardrobe have gone away forever. So evil has an awful taste of fashion (just look below at the pink-purple and the green costumes ZH wore as Xin Yue Hu…).
Okay, but (surprise) Xin Yue Hu ended up falling in love with Su Mo (who sees him as a friend, not being able to love him back due to her love to Chi Yu). He continues acting sharply to everyone, but you can really feel the difference between her attitute to Su Mo and others (for example, Fu Er). Best example: when he helped Su Mo and Su Shui towards the end of the series, in the natal village of her. This is so that in the end, he gives his own life to Chi Yu (giving up on their body), sacrificing himself in order to let Chi Yu to save Su Mo. He says to Chi Yu that’s his way of making they both feel remorse and guilt because he died, but after Chi Yu left he says, before “dramatically” disappearing, that maybe that’s the only way Su Mo would forgive his “betrayal”. So yeah, Xin Yue Hu is not that bad, ‘though his eyeliner is truly devilish.
This unknown actor to me, named Li Chao, plays the role of Bai Li Han, the “bad guy”. His acting is quite forced (especially when he performs that “evil laughing”… no comments). He has great ambition, like most of the villains, but his scheming and cunning isn’t impressive at all. Basically, what he does is bullying, boasting and using others relentlessly. Boring.
Then, we have Fu Er, Su Mo’s bestie since childhood (Fu Er’s parents adopted Su Mo and raised them as sisters). Fu Er ends up playing the other villain of the series, but alike Bai Li Han, she doesn’t offer anything new or interesting. She falls in love with Chi Yu and is blinded by jealousy towards Su Mo (absolutely unexpected…). Bai Li Han manipulates her, but it felt kinda like she wanted to be manipulated…
Chi Yu doesn’t love Fu Er, and knowing that he loves Su Mo makes her believe that it’s all Su Mo’s fault. So when Chi Yu “disappears” and Xin Yue Hu controls their body she attempts to make Xin Yue Hu fall for her. Xin Yue Hu pretends to “love” her (or at least to be interested in her), but only because he wants to invoke dragon’s power to fulfill his dream of making Chi Yu disappear completely and taking over their body. Fu Er’s obssesion with Chi Yu and Xin Yue Hu is boring, so I won’t spend more time talking about this…
I dislike the two villains of this series. Nothing refresing, everything is as expected, and the acting is as ordinary as tiresome. I wanted to skip every scene of these two. Fu Er’s tantrums were ridiculous and her jealousy makes her really unpleasant.You won’t find anygthing new in the villains of TCMS.
There’s also Sun Ju, a “minion” of Bai Li Han who extremely hates him, waiting for the right time to take revenge on him. He hates him because Bai Li Han is admired by his father, who dislikes him instead. He thinks that he’s father is biased, always helping Bai Li Han to the point of teaching him the secret martial arts of the family (and not teaching Sun Jun). And so Bai Li Han ended up becoming the great general of the realm. I only feel pity for him, like everything he did was pitiful and lame. His continuos tantrums reminds me of Fu Er, and seriously, one tantrum girl in the show was enough.
Other minions of Bai Li Han are Liu Ruo Shuang and Yu Yang. The last one is a man-wolf, who was taught by Liu Ruo Shuang (following the instructions of Bai Li Han) to be human. Since then, Yu Yang has been in love with her, but she only sees and cares for Bai Li Han. Nothing interesting to say about them, in fact… Everything follows the path of normal and predictable TV shows (Liu Ruo Shuang dies fulfilling Bai Li Han’s desires, Yu Yang is heartbroken and “suicides”).
In addition, there’s Bin Yi, Vengo Gao’s role in this series. He was married to a girl identical as Fu Er, and that’s why he’s always protecting her and bearing her whims. Her dead wife died because of a terrible illness and he couldn’t get to see her for the last time due to Bai Li Han (making him hate Bai Li Han). He doesn’t like to be manipulated by Bai Li Han and know how’s the real him, but since Fu Er is stupid and believes Bai Li Han, he had to follow them. I think I don’t dislike Bin Yi, but his screen time was always with Fu Er, so at the end I was tired of all her whims and he being permissive with every nonsense.
The last of the “dragon team members” is Xiao Yang, a martial arts obssesive who craves to become world’s best. He’s dumb but I didn’t dislike him (maybe because in comparison with others his screen time wasn’t that tiresome). He wants to fulfill his purposes, but not at any cost, he has that “code of honor” of “respectable” fighters (and this makes him different from the “dragon team members” who believe that ends justify the means, or don’t care at all).
As for the “bird team members”, leaded by Su Mo, we have our co-star Kenny Kwan portraying Shang Guan Jin. He has to live up to the expectations of the whole realm and his family reputation. He has a lot of pressure and duties. I think I should “like” him more? But the reality is that his character is, alike everything in this series, boring. He isn’t unpleasant, but Kenny Kwan’s acting (and Shang Guan Jin’s character itself) doesn’t tell me anything, far from moving me.
I like him a little in Su Mo’s dream, but I went back to indifference after Xiao Bing’s death. He could have went with Xiao Bing inside the forest, I know he has a great duty to fulfill, but if that’s so, don’t act that “guilty” later. He could have perfectly avoided Xiao Bing’s death (or die with him?, but he didn’t do anything and when Xiao Bing is revealed to be dead, he’s like “oh, everything is my fault…” (yep, it’s your fault in fact, baby).
Besides, I have to say that the “love traingles” in this series are… ◔_◔ Everyone loves Su Mo (Chi Yu, Xin Yue Hu, Shang Guan Jin, Su Shui), everyone loves Chi Yu (Fu Er, Su Mo, and that childhood’s friend chick of his), Bin Yi’s dead wife loved Bai Li Han (and later Bin Yi), Bin Yi loves his dead wife and her reflection in Fu Er, Hong Ling pretends to love Shang Guan Jin but loves A Su, A Su loves Hong Ling, An An loves Shang Guan Jing, Liu Ruo Shuang loves Bai Li Hang, Yu Yang loves Liu Ruo Shuang… (WTF) ಠ_ಠ
Wu Lei’s role here is Shi Pei Pei, a good-hearted child from a very wealthy family. He has to follow Su Mo’s group in order to fulfill his fate. He wants to follow them because he desires to have fun and visit many interesting places. He throws tantrums as well, but unlike Fu Er or Sun Ju, these are bearable tantrums (most of the times because he wants to have fun or because he’s used to eat expensive delicious). What I like about Pei Pei is his sincerity, his form of talking about everything without beating about the bush, and the abscence of hypocrisy. He may seem inmature, but possibly he’s one of the most thorough characters in the series. I love how he encourages A Su to confess to Hong Ling, and his understanding words to Xiao Bing. He tries to make everyone in the “bird team” happy, selflessly.
Also, there’s Xiao Bing, Bai Li Han’s little brother. I could explain why Bai Li Han become a “villain” and all their family issues, but it’s just boring so I won’t ●‿● Everytime Xiao Bing cried I thought I should feel sad or pity at least, but nothing of that happened. I couldn’t sympathize with his pain because I just didn’t feel the pain. In this sense, Xiao Bing’s actor (Li Mao) adds to the list of disappointing acting.
A Su and Hong Ling are another couple of this series. They are really cute together, and I enjoyed some of their scenes (like that time when A Su changes clothings to be the ideal man of Hong Ling). A Su can’t talk to women since an episode from his childhood, and so he finds it difficult to express his feelings to Hong Ling. Moreover, Hong Ling has betrayed by a man and since then lost the faith about the existence of good men. As a result, Hong Ling only believes in money and thinks that friendship and love are just lies and nonsense (but this changes, of course, after meeting Su Mo and company).
However, I must say that the scene of Hong Ling courting Shang Guan Jin (because he proceeds from a wealthy family) was terrible. The acting of Kenny Kwan and Wan Ni En (Hong Ling’s actress) was so awful that I almost dropped the series (because, you know, bearing Bai Li Han and Fu Er was already tough…).
Ying Zhen’s role, Su Shui, is the last member of the “bird team”; and possibly my favourite character of this series. He proceeds from a assassin’s clan with a great power, reason why others clan tended to hire them to kill their enemies. In the end, Su Shui’s clan gained an extraordinary number of enemis, who joined in order to erradicate his clan and take revenge. Su Shui is the survivor of his clan, and as a consequence, lives with grief and sorrow. He avenges killing the people who slaughtered his clan, but after murdering the last of his enemies he realizes how his life has became insignificant. He searches for a method to solve the hatred in people’s heart, and agrees to follow the “bird team” if Su Mo can offer an answer for him.
I think I love everything about this character, and that’s really a life saver considering how boring and ordinary I find everything else. However, Su Shui falling in love with Su Mo felt like a cliché, but I suppose the writers wouldn’t create another character for him or spend more resources to develop his character (and everyone’s).
I was moved when Su Shui wanted to sacrifice himself in order to satisfy Su Mo clan’s desire of revenge (towards the end of the show it is revealed that Su Mo’s biological mother had to leave her because her whole clan was being slaughtered by Su Shui’s clan, obeying the orders of another enemy clan). Su Shui doesn’t want Su Mo to suffer from chosing between her friend (he) and her clan and family, so he’s willing to pay for the crimes of his clan.
Let’s talk about the scene when Su Mo clan agrees to forgive Su Shui if he’s able to walk the whole “burning path” (in fact I’m not really sure about what’s the matter with that path… it’s red so I call it “burning path”, but as far as I’m concerned, the path didn’t burn them, it just made them “suffer” greatly) while all the villagers threw stones to him. Su Mo is happy that her clan gives a chance to Su Shui, but she can’t stand watching him suffer while fulfilling his punishment (even more when people start threwing stones), so she gets in the path and helps him (that was precious). Even Xin Yue Hu comes to help, avoiding the flying stones to reach and hurt them. And that scene would have been glorious if he (Xin Yue Hu) wasn’t wearing those terrible costumes…
Lastly, I have to say that I pretty liked Hong Tai, Chi Yu’s loyal friend. He may have been one of my favourites before his death and the appearance of Su Shui. I screamed when Sun Ju cut his tongue off and cried when he died. Also, in that scene, when he finally dies in Chi Yu’s arms, Chi Yu calls him “big brother”, and that tore me up. I enjoyed watching his interactions with Chi Yu, and mocking about how he was falling in love with Su Mo, that was really sweet (just what a big brother would have done). I felt so sad when he died, remembering his dreams of returning Qing Qiu and marrying that girl he told the group about. It broke my heart how dreamy he seemed talking about the children he would have with that girl, and wondering if that girl would agree ಥ_ಥ
If you have reached the finale of the series, you’ll be surprised of how they rushed everything: killing basically everyone in the last few episodes. I confess to had cried in various of these deaths, but mostly because I was angry with the writers to create potentially good characters that are fated to poor development and a ridiculous end.
Su Shui’s death left me devastated, and I like how Su Mo was heartbroken as well (shouting that she would kill Fu Er, although she didn’t in the end). However, his death may be the most decent one in the drama: at least he died saving Su Mo’s grandma life, redeeming his clan’s crimes in some way (and also answering that question about hatred that tormented all his life). Su Shui died without hatred, he died because of love; and I think my baby is happy about it ಥ_ಥ
Hong Ling’s death felt forced, like really forced. I know it’s typical to have those kind of dramatical scenes in most of chinese series, but that’s why I felt mad. Basically, the writers thought of multiple ways of killing them all in a short time, spoiling everything. Don’t get me wrong, I cried as well with her death, I wanted her to finally be with A Su; and seeing A Su so sad later was bitter.
Liu Ruo Shuang also died, her last scene seeing her mother and asking Yu Yang if it’s better to be a man or a wolf was decent as well. However, the rest of the characters don’t get a “respectable” death. Xiao Bing died thinking that he would redeem himself and help his brother to be a better person. Pei Pei also died. Although it was okay the previous scene where Pei Pei fantasizes about Xiao Bing and talks about how the “bird team” has changed their lives, the way he died opening the door was hurried and, once again, forced. Sun Ju died as he lived: pitifully. A Su died in less that one minute, and that’s so humiliating that not even saying “oh, don’t be sad Su Mo, I will meet Hong Ling now” would fix the situation. Bin Yi died protecting Fu Er (surprise), mocking about Bai Li Han, who thought that his wife was still in love with him before her death. And finally, Fu Er died trying to kill Bai Li Han, after realizing how he had been manipulating her and destroying her relation with Su Mo.
So as I said before: everyone dies in just a few episodes. But is this the end? As expected, of course not. Su Mo manages to invoke the mystical bird with her blood and everything returns to a world without astrological signs and mystical creatures. Su Mo watches her friends having a great life, but they don’t remember her.
Xiao Bing is selling animal-shapped paper lamps, and gifts Su Mo with one of them. A Su and Hong Ling are married and have a beautiful child. Pei Pei is still as playful as always. My dear Su Shui comes to the town to enjoy the festival, and he seems happy and carefree (awww). This scene was wonderful, because Su Mo tells him that she also has a friend from his clan who let her drink the “tree-milk” of their tribe, explaining that they only let their best friends drink it. Su Shui (who doesn’t remember Su Mo now) laughes, because he knows that friend of Su Mo had lied to her (they only let a person drink their “tree-milk” when they identify that person as their beloved one) ಥ_ಥ
Another great thing happens, because Xin Yue Hu and Chi Yu are able to live separately as twins (hooray!). Xin Yue Hu is popular and sassy as always, and he smiles to Su Mo when he finds her watching at him. He now can live his own life, not in the shadows, but as a person like each of them. He looks truly happy walking with Shang Guan Jin, who also looks back at Su Mo for a while (they seem to have become besties or something since their realms are now allies, I suppose). Also, Fu Er gets her happy ending. She’s surrounded by friends and his family, and she runs delighted without any trace of that jealous and cruel woman she was.
Su Mo leaves, saying that she has met everyone she needed to meet, and she arrives to the beautiful lake that appeared in her dreams. There she meets Chi Yu, who is wandering around because the festival doesn’t need his presence if his popular little brother is there (awww). He acts like he has forgotten Su Mo, like everyone else, but… Surprise (?), he does remember her and embraces her tightly while kissing her. And that’s the end.
Why does Chi Yu remember Su Mo? We don’t know. Allegedly because their love is so strong that can overcome everything, even the change of the whole world and lives of everyone (?). Like I said many times: so many clichés everywhere. However, considering the alterantive (everyone dies and most of them in ridiculous ways), maybe this is the best ending (?). I don’t agree, because I think this drama lacks off character development and intelligent scripting, but whatever, Su Shui is alive and happy so I’m not complaining anymore (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
In conclusion, what will you find if you decide to watch TCMS? My answer: Nothing worth your time. At least it wasn’t worth my time. It isn’t the worst drama ever, and my overall score won’t be that bad, but I feel like it hasn’t contribute in any way to my life, and possibly I would have spent more wisely the time I used watching it by doing other things. You may enjoy some scenes and maybe it’s worth to watch because of Su Shui (?), but the writers will spoil every single joy.
The main problem of TCMS is the scripting, the ambitious creation of so many “relevant” characters without giving them any development and the overuse of clichés, which makes the plot predictable and tiresome. Even the best actor with such a poor scripting would perform a bad job, so I don’t think that the problem resides on the acting (even ‘though some of the acting were, as I mentioned, lame and terrible). On the other hand, the scenography is pretty and the soundtrack is appropiate. The costumes are mostly okay, except the ones that Zhang Han had to wear as Xin Yue Hu.
- Plot: 8/20
- Cast: 14/20
- OST: 7/10
- Scenography: 8/10
- Costume: 6/10
- Overall: 6.1/10