SINGING ALL ALONG (2016) Review – The sister’s keepers


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.

I was looking forward to see Yuan Hong portraying a badass emperor

(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.

Ruby Lin plays the role of Yin Li Hua

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.

Yin Li Hua followed Liu family after they announced their rebellion

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 is told 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.

Although I don’t specially like Ruby Lin, her performance as Yin Li Hua was accurate (with some brilliant scenes that made a basically “boring” drama worth it)

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*).

Yuan Hong looked far more better dressed as a general and later as the Emperor

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 ●︿●

Liu Xiu promised that Yin Li Hua would be his life’s one and only wife

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.

I think Guo Shengtong, after realizing that Liu Xiu didn’t love her, would have just accepted this if her family didn’t distort her original emotions

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 Shi was Yin Li Hua’s real keeper.

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.

If Yin Shi made me sad, Yin Xing broke my heart straightway.

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.

My sweet poor baby…

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.

They deserved so much more

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.

My lovable duo

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

Qin Junjie looked handsome wearing an armor, but I also felt troubled because this means that he had grown up

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.

Kenny Kwan plays the role of Deng Yu, Yin Li Hua and Liu Xiu’s childhood bestie

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).

Li Jiahang proved himself playing a character so different from his well-known Zhang Wei

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.

Sweet and faithful

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…

I felt relieved when he was killed and didn’t appear anymore

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.

The family bonds were far more better and interesting than the romance or the politics

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



5 thoughts on “SINGING ALL ALONG (2016) Review – The sister’s keepers

  1. lav

    One thing i hate about historical drama is that men are polygamous. I find it really disgusting and talking about love ang stuff in this kind of complicated world is just too frustrating..i cant accept it when the male lead has children with other would have been better if it resulted in which the male lead died a horrible death and so could the male lead say he loves the female lead when he has other women beside him..i find it really cheap..its just like words without action..saying you love her but she has to share him with the others..bleugh!!..he loved his dream to become an emperor.and the fl is not a priority…he even has so many children with the other..


    1. KasisKaz

      I was also really surprised when the empress said that she was the mother of half of his children. It was something that didn’t make sense. “Singing all along” wasn’t a good or impressive romance story, the only thing I liked about it was the fraternal love between Ye Li Hua and her brothers.
      As for polygamy, I think it’s not only unfair for the woman he supposely loves, but also for the others. Being tied and wasting your entire life with a man who doesn’t love or respect you is even worse. Drama usually solves the conflict you stated by assuring that the man was forced to marry the other women, but as you said, it’s contradictory. I think it’s not a matter of loving or not loving, but how much they love. If you love your woman above everything, you won’t allow a marriage with another person (you may escape or fled with her). However, people usually have other priorities and wouldn’t get rid of everything they have in exchange for they love.
      If you haven’t watch it, you should try “Princess Jie You”, it’s also a historical drama in which Yuan Hong isn’t wasted.


  2. Pingback: LEGEND OF THE DRAGON PEARL (2017) Review – – dramastation

    1. KasisKaz

      Hello, Ma Tian Yu appears as a guest star. He appears in two episodes as I recall. Once in the very first episodes, as Yuan Hong’s character friend; and once again in the lattest ones, with beard and acting as a mentor.


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