Titles: 秀丽江山之长歌行 (Xiu Li Jiang Shan Zhi Chang Ge Xing) / Singing All Along, Realm of Love – Long Ballad
- Ruby Lin as Yin Li Hua
- Yuan Hong as Liu Xiu
- Li Jiahang as Feng Yi
- Wang Yuanke as Guo Shengtong
- Zong Fengyan as Liu Yan
- Yu Bo as Liu Xuan
- Kenny Kwan as Deng Yu
- Mao Zijun as Yin Xing
- Queenie Tai as Hupo
- Qin Junjie as Deng Feng
- Wang Yu as Yin Shi
- Cai Heng as Wu Han
- Wang Jinduo as Ma Wu
- Liu Changde as Guo Kuang
- Reyizha Alimjam as Ding Rou
- Ma Tianyu as Yan Ziling
- Bai Huizi as Liu Boji
- Li Zhuolin as Li Tong
- Xiao Haoran as Li Yi
- Liu Yitong as Consort Han
- Sun Xiaoxiao as Consort Zhao
- Hong Siao-ling as Deng Chan
Directed by: Lin Feng and Chen Quan
Written by: Shao Sihan, Li Yanqian and Wang Xiaoquan
Based on: Li Xin’s novel “Xiuli Jiangshan”
Created by: Ruby Lin
Plot (from Wiki):
In 22 AD, the peasant brothers Liu Yan and Liu Xiu led a rebel force to overthrow the oppressive Xin empire and to restore the Han dynasty. Yin Lihua, their beautiful childhood friend, joined their fight. During the bloody battles, Liu Xiu and Yin faced death many times together before the Xin empire was finally toppled. In 23, Liu Yan was seen by the new Han emperor Liu Xuan as a threat and executed. Fearing he would be next, Liu Xiu, with the help of his new bride Yin, managed to have Liu Xuan assign him to a territory beyond Liu Xuan’s reach. However, developing a power base of his own proved difficult. In 24, Liu Xiu encountered a dilemma: in order to enter a military alliance with a mighty regional warlord, he needed to marry the warlord’s niece Guo Shengtong and break his vows to Yin. Meanwhile, Yin discovered that Liu Xuan also had feelings for her… When Yin finally reunited with her husband in 25, Liu Xiu was already the new emperor who had just captured the capital; with Guo, a woman he did not love, as his new wife. As the empire remained divided, naming Guo the empress seemed the ideal choice politically, but Liu Xiu’s heart never left Yin. Amid power struggle, war, and intrigues, could their love survive?
I heard about Singing All Along (SAA) long ago when it was filmed, back in 2013, but the drama wasn’t released until this year. I had my doubts, fearing it would be another average palace drama or an expensive production lacking quality. Still, I craved to watch Yuan Hong’s performance as a badass emperor, so I decided to give it a try. Here’s my review.
(SPOILERS) The plot is set in 22 AD, when China was ruled by Xin empire. Facing Xin’s oppressive and tyrannical reign, a group of rebels led by Liu family decide to dethrone the emperor and restore the Han dynasty.
The first episodes were really boring, almost annoying. Unfortunately, it didn’t get much more interesting. I started paying real attention when Liu Xiu temporaly settled in He Bei and was later crowned. The palace schemes weren’t brilliant neither, but in comparison to the first episodes, they were better.
Yin Li Hua is our female protagonist, portrayed, of course, by Ruby Lin. She was raised by Yin family, after her parents got murdered trying to dethrone the emperor. Li Hua is a skilled warrior and a brilliant strategist, but can be naive or hot-headed following her ideals. When she was young, Li hua attended to the School disguised as a boy and met her best friend Deng Yu and future lover Liu Xiu, who saved her from her parents’ killers and brought her to Yin family, as Li Hua’s father asked him to do. However, Li Hua ended up forgetting all her childhood memories (including Liu Xiu) as a result of a disease she suffered.
I didn’t expect too much about Ruby Lin’s acting. I’ve watched her in many series, since she’s a well-known veteran actress; but although I don’t dislike her, I can’t tell the difference between the roles she has played. It’s like she’s always portraying the same type of girl: stereotyped without newness, no challenges involved and with no room of surpassing herself. Essentially, Yin Li Hua’s character follows this rule; but as far as can be expected, Yin Li Hua is one of the “best” characters she had played.
One of the reasons why I hated the first episodes was because they forced Ruby Lin to act like a teen. Despite Ruby Lin is unquestionably beautiful and I can’t believe she is 40 years old, it’s hard to accept her acting as a 18 or less teenager. Ruby Lin’s worst performance was her reaction when she was told by Liu Xuan that Liu Xiu died, falling from a cliff. Her response in that scene was too forced. Excluding this, her performance in the rest of the series was okay.
She did a stunning job in some scenes as Liu Yan’s death, being my favourite the one in which she acknowledged that family Guo had murdered her family and Hu Bo is dead. In that scene, her conversation with Xin Er was so heartbreaking and poignant that I couldn’t stop crying. Yin Li Hua sacrificed everything in order to stay with Liu Xiu, and although she thinks it’s worth it, she was suddenly aware of the consequences of her actions. Her hands are stained with blood, the blood of the people she loved.
My greatest hopes were put on Yuan Hong’s character, Liu Xiu. In the first episodes, I fear that an amazing actor as Yuan Hong would be wasted in a banal or not so important role (like it happened in the awesome “Young Sherlock” series). In truth, after watching the whole drama, I still feel like anyone would have portrayed Liu Xiu’s character (in my opinion, a really good actor is someone who owns the role, in a way that makes you feel that no one else would have done it better). Yuan Hong is a great actor, I have no doubt about it, but Liu Xiu’s character doesn’t deserve him. In other words, whereas I underrated Ruby Lin and she gave me some amazingly portrayed scenes, Yuan Hong’s acting skills were totally wasted.
Liu Xiu’s character didn’t leave any significative mark in me. His intelligence and bravery were okay, but they weren’t outstanding. I felt bad for him after his brother’s death, being misunderstood by his family and treated as a traitor. I respect his values and it was pretty clear since the beginning that he was the best candidate to become the Emperor. Also, I don’t want to blame him for some of his actions after being crowned, because power always brings responsability and impotence (still, I really blame him for some things… *cough* Deng Feng’s death *cough*).
There were some sweet moments between Yin Li Hua and Liu Xiu. It tore me apart how Yin Li Hua hid her miscarriage avoiding Liu Xiu’s suffering, and how he, without knowing this, promised so sincerely that he would protect her. Although he had to marry another woman, in order to win the favour of He Bei’s forces, he tried (really hard) to maintain the promise he made to Yin Li Hua. What I liked most was how confident and strong was their love. There were many obstacles, but they didn’t give up on each other. Family Guo tried everything to destabilize their relationship, but all the efforts were fruitless. At the end, when everything ends happily, you feel relief because they finally made it through everything.
My unique question is why and how Liu Xiu had a bunch of children with Empress Guo (I was so surprised in that part when Empress Guo claimed that she was the mother of half of his children). Their first son bore because Liu Xiu was threated by mother Guo (if he didn’t consummate their wedding, family Guo wouldn’t help them), but I can’t understand why he had all those children with Empress Guo later ●︿●
Talking about Empress Guo, Guo Shengtong, she was only a pawn of family Guo. All the schemes were directed by her mother and brother (Guo Kuang). In other words, Guo Shengtong owned everything she owned just because she was family Guo’s daughter, not because she deserved it or made any effort to obtain it. She fell in love with Liu Xiu and her family took advantage of this, bringing out the ugliest face of her love (envy, ambition, cruelty).
I don’t hate her because she isn’t SAA’s villain. In the end, she’s just a poor woman who spent her entire life in a lost cause. I was kinda moved in that scene where mother Guo realized how wrong and useless were their actions and how miserable they made her daughter feel. The original Guo Shengtong was a kind and innocent girl who fell genuinely in love with Liu Xiu, horrified by the mere idea of hurting him and willing to sacrifice herself to make him happy. The latest Guo Shengtong we see is a wrecked and friendless woman whose own children are afraid of.
Although the lead actors didn’t stand out, the supporting actors were awesome (in fact, they were the ones who made me continue watching this show). I’ll start with family Yin. The big bro, Yin Shi (played by actor Wang Yu), achieved all my respect and fondness with his acting as a severe but loving brother and a clever but humble leader. His love story with Yin Li Hua’s cousin was short but bitter, I really wanted to blame him (“don’t overthink, just marry that girl!”), but I simply couldn’t. I got sad everytime he appeared on screen, because he was always worried about his family’s sake. That kind of concern touched me deeply.
He’s the leader (and so, in charge of family Yin’s every life), that’s an enormous responsability. Many times in the series, Yin Li Hua had to (painfully) sacrificed family Yin’s members in order to help Liu Xiu. Despite the grief and remorse of each loss, Yin Shi always stayed there firmly, wacthing over her sister.
Yin Li Hua was incredibly lucky. In addition to Yin Shi, she had little bro Yin Xing. Mao Zijun was stunning in his role. Note: I kinda rejected him at first, because he was playing again the character of Ruby Lin’s little brother (the previous time was in The Glamorous Imperial Concubine, a.k.a. Qing Shi Huang Fei). In the said show he turned into a creepy and disturbing character (in fact, I didn’t really like Qing Shi Huang Fei, apart from Wallace Huo’s character).
Fortunately, this time Mao Zijun plays an extremely lovable little bro. Watching him was a real pleasure, especially when Deng Feng was also involved. Not so fortunately, in too many senses, he reminded me of Wei Qing in The Virtuous Queen of Han. They had the same (deadly) devotion to their sisters. It was this love that touched me and got to win my heart, but it was also this love that caused so many hopeless events. I spent most of the time craving that he would just leave Yin Li Hua and pursue his own happiness. Of course, that would never happen.
The same as Deng Feng, watching Yin Xing growing older and so, maturing, was a terrible heartbreak. They are no longer Yin Li Hua’s little brothers, now it’s their duty to protect the one that had always defended them. But protecting Yin Li Hua comes with a price, and in Yin Xing’s case, that price is Hupo.
Hupo is a skillfull and loyal servant of family Yin, Yin Xing’s maid since earliest childhood. I enjoyed watching the sweet courtship, the looks full of love and the simple but tormenting hesitation. I can’t explain how sorry I feel for them (similar to the way I felt with Wei Qing and princess Pingyang). Each time Yin Xing promised that they were getting married I hoped that would really happen but feared they weren’t going to be lucky enough… The premise “After this and that we will get married and live happily forever and ever!” is okay but “this and that” never ended. There were always things more important than their love… At the end, Hupo was murdered (investigating one of Yin Li Hua’s child death), and they didn’t get to fulfill their dreams.
I blame, okay, I truly blame Yin Li Hua. She was aware of my OTP’s feelings, she could have done something in order to help them. Maybe Hupo’s death wasn’t avoidable, but at least they deserved a beautiful wedding ceremony that depicted their genuine love. On the other hand, when your OTP doesn’t get their happy ending, you simply blame everything and everyone avaible to blame.
I cried SO much after Hupo’s death… But it was even worst when Yin Xing accepted his own death in such a resigned way. He took that poison when he really could have not taken it, but he didn’t care because Hupo was already dead. Being alive without her was much more painful than dying.
My favourite scenes in SAA also included baby boy Deng Feng. It’s a shame that Qing Junjie didn’t have more shots, because Deng Feng’s character was truly worth it. Alike Yin Xing, Deng Feng was first shown as a little boy under the wing of Yin Li Hua. I can’t tell the exact moment when he grew up. In the blink of an eye, he was suddenly wearing an armor and revealing that he had found the love of his life. Along these lines, it’s even worst that they spent one unique scene to show this girl (already dead, by the way).
I emotionally short-circuited when Deng Feng arrived to her fiancé’s village and found her dead, just a second after he proudly assured to Yin Li Hua that his girl was one in a kind. Qin Junjie’s acting reached his best after this girl’s death. I was both impressed and torn by the rage in his eyes, how bitterly determined he was to get revenge.
His best scene may be that one in which Yin Li Hua slapped him. I believe Deng Feng had knowledge of the consequences of his actions from the beginning, it wasn’t something merely impulsive: he didn’t have any other choice. Even when I knew he was actually dying I couldn’t believe it, still I also knew he couldn’t have had any other ending. In other words, he was somehow meant to die in that way, fighting for his convictions and chasing justice for his people.
I blamed Liu Xiu for Deng Feng’s death, but alike Deng Feng, Liu Xiu neither could choose. As for Yin Li Hua, I was satisfied to see how devastated she was, blaming Liu Xiu silently; but even ‘though that should have been enough, I felt bad about how after forgiving Liu Xiu, no one seemed to remember Deng Feng anymore… No worries, my love, I will always remember you ಥ_ಥ
Kenny Kwan appears in SAA playing the role of Deng Yu. I first saw him in The Classic of Mountains and Seas and meh… Unluckily, I can’t really tell the difference between his character there and here… He’s still the eternal third wheel (poor Kenny Kwan). Also, that scene in which he returns from his trip the same day when Yin Li Hua and Liu Xiu were getting married was so clichéd and predictable…
By the way, Ma Tian Yu made a special appearance in the show (*cough* another wasted good actor *cough*). His character, Yan Ziling, is our protagonist’s childhood schoolmate and friend. His scenes were funny but not really relevant.
Returning to good supporting actors, Li Jiahang (our dear Zhang Wei) appears as Feng Yi, Liu Xiu’s best friend and most loyal follower. It was a great constrast to watch him playing a character like Feng Yi, introvert and sensible. Even if you aren’t in full agreement with him, you’ll admire his good judgement and respect his resolution when taking decisions. He always knows what to do and how to act, there aren’t unnecessary dilemmas when it comes to Feng Yi.
For example, between his family and Liu Xiu, he chose his family’s safety; between himself and Liu Xiu, he chose Liu Xiu; between his father and Ding Rou, he chose Ding Rou; and between Liu Xiu and Yin Li Hua, he chose Liu Xiu (even saying that he would kill Yin Li Hua with his own hands).
His love with Ding Rou (Reyizha Alimjam) was sweet and faithful (these are the best words to describe it). They were perfect for each other because both were just the same: loyal, good-natured, determined and noble. Ding Rou may not be a skilled warrior as Yin Li Hua, but she was brave enough to cut out her own fingers to protect Feng Yi’s family, even when father Feng rejected her so fiercely in the past.
I was kinda annoyed when after Liu Xiu’s coronation, both disappeared from the series and appeared less and less; but it got worst when Feng Yi’s death was suddenly announced.
At first, Liu Xiu’s brother, Liu Yan, was meant to be crowned as the new Emperor, but due to some boring tricks, this guy below ended up being crowned: Liu Xuan (played by actor Yu Bo). I’d rather skip him but okay… He is a guy who believes to be incredibly intelligent (but he is not). Everyone is a threat to him but doesn’t impede him to be ambitious and resentful. The same as it happens with boring villains, he has no real abilities and so, he has to use disgraceful methods to preserve his ephemeral sense of power.
Besides, his love (*cough* obsession *cough*) to Yin Li Hua was boring as well. Yin Li Hua’s biological mother was also his martial arts master, and as a result, Yin Li Hua and Liu Xuan grew up together practising skills. In my opinion, it wasn’t clear if Liu Xuan really loved Yin Li Hua or if he was just seeing her master’s shadow in her. It was tiring to hear him saying things like “your mother would be so disappointed if she could see you now” or “you don’t deserve to be your mother’s daughter”, blah, blah, blah…
Regarding to other facts, SAA has a good soundtrack (I didn’t know Ruby Lin could sing). The costume had precious colours and details, I specially liked Yuan Hong’s appearance as the Emperor and some of the lady’s clothing.
To sum up, Singing All Along is an ordinary show. Does it deserve your time? My answer is, unfortunately, yes.
“Yes” because the series has marvelous supporting actors who stole the whole spotlight (Mao Zijun, Qin Junjie, Li Jiahang, Wang Yu, Queenie Tai, among others). Their stories were far more interesting than the main storyline, accompanied by a flawless and poignant acting. I enjoyed every single scene in which those family bonds were shown, and I’m sure that I will always remember them with affection and tenderness.
Moreover, although Ruby Lin’s performance in general was average (not bad, just average; similar to her prior works), she achieved to impress me with some stunning performances.
Despite, I say “Unfortunately” because the supporting actors stood out over a really tedious and predictable plot. Actors as good as Yuan Hong were wasted in a forgettable role, and they spent like a million boring episodes to say actually nothing…
If unlike me, you agree with skipping scenes when watching series, I would recommend this drama for you (because you’ll avoid a lot of unnecessary plot).
- Plot: 12/20
- Cast: 17/20
- OST: 9/10
- Scenography: 10/10
- Costume: 10/10
- Overall: 8.3/10