STAY WITH ME (2016) Review – Break up with logic

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Titles: 放弃我,抓紧我 (Fang Qi Wo, Zhua Jin Wo) / Stay With Me


Cast:

  • Chen Qiao En (Joe Chen) as Li Wei Wei
  • Wang Kai as Chen Yi Du
  • Qiao Ren Liang (Kimi Qiao) as Huo Xiao
  • Chen Ran as Tiffany
  • Zhang Xuan Rui as Leo
  • Zhang Duo as Mo Fan
  • Qi Hang as Kang Xin
  • Cao Ran Ran as Ou Ye
  • Liu Meng Meng as Jenny
  • Xie Jun Hao as Huo Rui Qiang
  • Zheng Long as Qiao Zhi
  • Wang Xiao Mao as Su Fei
  • Guo Jiao Hao as Cao Zhong
  • Fu Jia as Lao Wan
  • Miao Hao Jun as Huo Rui Yong
  • Zhao Zi Mo as Secretary Wang
  • Du Ning Lin as Mother Du
  • Wang Meng Li as Fang Ya Lun
  • Li Bing Hui as Huang Kai

Directed by: Ruan Wei Xin, Chen Guo Hua and Billy Tang

Written by: Qian Jing Jing, Xu Zi Yuan and Jiang Guangyu

Created by: Tong Hua

Produced by: Tang Panjing, Wang Li, Chen Ying and Chen Qiao En


Plot (from Wiki):

After an accidental drowning, Li Wei Wei (Chen Qiao En) a famous fashion designer, loses parts of her memory. Whereby her memories stop at when she was 23. The boyfriend she remembers has now become her ex and rival, and instead a stranger is her fiancé. Li Wei Wei does not believe that she broke up with her ex Chen Yi Du (Wang Kai) and investigates the reason to as why they did. Her fiancé Qi Cheng (Qiao Ren Liang), in order to protect and rekindle his relationship, uses all methods to prevent Wei Wei from investigating. During her investigation, Wei Wei discovers that due to the hectic lifestyle of adulthood, she has lost the innocence of her original dreams. It was this very reason as well to as why she and her ex broke up. The now 30 years old Li Wei Wei has decided to change her lifestyle. She plans to regain her most pure emotions and dreams as well as finding true love.

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Review:

Stay With Me (SWM) aired during the last month of 2016. Before its release I saw a lot of beautiful and glamorous stills.

I was quite expectant about the series because Tong Hua screenplayed it, and that was both good and bad news. He’s a great novelist, with awesome works adapted to television series like Scarlet Heart or Sound of the Desert; but an extremely frustrating screenwriter as well (I will never get over the bitter disappointment of Perfect Couple; also, I directly dropped Destined to love you).

Will SWM become Tong Hua’s chance to surpass himself? Is SWM just an average idol drama? Here’s my answer.

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As an idol drama, the cast is beautiful and appealing enough

(SPOILERS) The plot is set around two main wedding dress design companies: Ling Long and Du. They are rivals when it comes to business, but they are also intricatelly related in the personal setting. Ling Long’s designer (Li Wei Wei) and Du’s CEO (Chen Yi Du) were in love five years ago, but after some events, they broke up and became fatal enemies.

Joe Chen plays the role of Li Wei Wei, Ling Long’s 30 years old designer and a well-known ruthless workaholic. In the first episode, she proposed marriage to her childhood bestie, Huo Xiao, during an important design competition against Du. It was obvious that marriage was a strategy to assure victory and that she didn’t truly love Huo Xiao. This cold, mean and heartless Li Wei Wei lasts only one episode and a half; because after an accidental drowning, she awakes without the memories from her last 7 years (dramas love amnesias).

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I like how stylish and glamorous Joe Chen looks in this drama

The Li Wei Wei presented now stays 7 years ago, when she was 23 years old. Everyone is surprised because this Li Wei Wei (friendly, sassy and idealist) is radically different from that ruthless workaholic. This makes the viewer ask himself what happened in that gap of 7 years, why Li Wei Wei changed so much.

I must say that I loved her. Joe Chen’s smile is so sweet that you can’t help but smile too. Note: I read that she had been recently criticised for haven’t stop starring in idol dramas with 37 years old. I don’t blame Joe Chen: firstly she doesn’t look like she has 37 years old (that surprised me, she looks younger!). Starring in idol dramas is her right, even more if she has always succeded in this kind of works. Besides, it’s not a problem of Joe Chen’s acting skills, she has proved herself as a talented hardworking actress, since the beginning of her career.

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Actors are also people, and people are free to choice whatever they want, even if that choice involves plots which leave a lot to be desired; that doesn’t wippe off her efforts and dedication to work

Back to our female lead, I enjoyed Li Wei Wei and her interactions with people surrounding her. She was witty and resourceful, as she proved when facing problems and solving difficulties.

Still, I loathed how weak-willed she was, in contrast, regarding to Huo Xiao. She should have explained, since the start, what she thought, instead of just mocking or asking herself how things came to that point. She kept evading that matter, even after her relationship with Chen Yi Du became clear. In addition, her logic (and Chen Yi Du’s) makes no sense when it comes to their bond (congratulations, Tong Hua, thanks again for senseless writing).

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I love that childish and sassy Li Wei Wei

Despite many times the plot made me pull my hair, I laughed a lot with Joe Chen’s acting as that childish and sassy Li Wei Wei.

Her eccentric daydreams and fantasies were hard to accept in the first moment, but I started liking them immediately. They were a required touch of humor that ended up characterising the series. In SWM there’s drama, a lot of drama (even when it’s not necessary), but there’s always humor as well.

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Li Wei Wei took daydreaming to a next level (it’s even better if you remember that Joe Chen became well-known in China for playing the role of Dong Fang Bu Bai)

Our male lead, Du’s CEO, Chen Yi Du, is played by Wang Kai. In interviews, Wang Kai revealed how unsure he was about filming idol dramas, but after one certain scene (that one in which he and Joe Chen dress up as Donald and Minnie), he got the drift. I agree with this: he surely got the drift. Wang Kai doesn’t disappoint in his performance as Chen Yi Du (I’m starting to believe he never disappoints).

He’s a badass and ruthless chief, but whereas Li Wei Wei looked like a cold and heartless one, Chen Yi Du carried a melancholic hallo. His actions seemed cruel and unfeeling, but in his eyes you could appreciate his sorrow and resignation. Despite his appearance, he’s a kind boy with tender and simple aspirations. He values justice and is confident about himself and his abilities. In business he can be implacable, but he won’t use any unfair trick to win.

His behavior towards Li Wei Wei, an amnesic Li Wei Wei, made me expectant. I wanted to know everything that happened between them (even if I suspected that it would be something predictable, no surprising).

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Wang Kai is ridiculously attractive starring as Chen Yi Du

Wang Kai and Joe Chen have marvelous on-screen chemistry. I confess that I fangirled, a lot. I loved Chen Yi Du and Li Wei Wei, and that’s why I got so mad when things started to be senseless (once again, congrats Tong Hua). One thing is sure: the series’ title give justice to the upsetting plot (Fang Qi Wo, Zhua Jin Wo). During a countless amount of episodes, my couple kept breaking up (Fang Qi Wo) and making up (Zhua Jin Wo). E-X-A-S-P-E-R-A-T-I-N-G. I think there was even a time when they just made up, and in the following scene they were already breaking up ಠ╭╮ಠ

Moreover, most of the time I couldn’t understand their logic… I was almost scared by that lack of logic destined to create a bunch of uncessary drama. Basically, Li Wei Wei kept blaming Chen Yi Du for his father’s death, which was an accident (bus crash). In a later flashback, it is shown how Li Wei Wei begged Chen Yi Du to not break up with her (even ‘though his father was already dead). After Chen Yi Du’s rejection, she started blaming him for her father’s death, but still, if she forgave him in that moment, why she couldn’t do the same later? She just took it as another excuse to break up (again) with Chen Yi Du.

It was more logical that Chen Yi Du blamed Li Wei Wei for her mother’s condition (Alzheimer), considering that she unwillingly pushed her down the stairs. Even so, it was an accident and it’s hard to believe that a brilliant guy like Chen Yi Du couldn’t reach to that conclusion by himself.

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For the viewer’s pleasure, there’s plenty of “bi dong” in this show

Something I loved about this couple was all the “bi dong”. This is a term referring, literally, to “wall thumps” (someone push another person against the wall, in a very romantic and badass move). What makes the show especial is that everything (really, everything) served for them, not only walls (trees, chairs, sofas…).

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Even Huo Xiao “bi dong” Chen Yi Du

After all, you fervently wish them to stay together and live happily, but Tong Hua was never over with all the break up. He even created an absurd villain in order to keep the drama. I’m talking about Mo Fan (Zhang Duo), Chen Yi Du’s best friend, who’s later revealed to be his worst enemy. Mo Fan’s parents died in a car crash with Chen Yi Du’s father. As a result, he blamed Chen Yi Du and wanted revenge… ◔_◔

Of course, his revenge was also senseless and frustrating. It took the cake when in the final scene, they revealed that the car crash was in fact Mo Fan’s father fault ◔_◔ I mean, this guy has been searching revenge for two decades (two decades!). In twenty years, he didn’t discover the truth?! A truth which Chen Yi Du found in least than a single year… ◔_◔

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Donald saving Minnie

Kimi Qiao plays the role of our second male lead, Huo Xiao. Note: I can’t help but get sad when it comes to Kimi Qiao. I couldn’t be considered his fan, but I truly liked him when I got the chance to see him (The Glamorous Imperial Concubine and Cruel Romance, in addition to a reality show called We Are In Love). What it’s sure is that Kimi Qiao was talented, hope that he rests in peace.

I was grateful for Huo Xiao’s presence in SWM. Along with Tiffany, he was one of the few characters that were logical. His decisions and behavior are understandable, he loves Li Wei Wei unconditionally and is willing to do everything to make her happy. When he finally saw that Li Wei Wei would only be happy if she stayed with Chen Yi Du, he gave up on her as a lover and sacrificed his own emotions. I was touched by everything he did for Li Wei Wei, even more when everyone was misunderstanding him. Huo Xiao is surely a sunshine boy.

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His concern to Li Wei Wei was frequently excessive, but it was so sweet and genuine that no one could have blamed him

Huo Xiao is so kind that made everything even worst. Since the beginning, you know that Li Wei Wei would end up with Chen Yi Du and not with him; and still, he always stayed by her side. He was her shield when people tried to hurt her but also her sword when she needed to defend herself. Besides, their childhood flashbacks were lovely.

The resolution of this love triangle reminded me of Best Time (adapted from a Tong Hua’s novel): Li Wei Wei, reluctant to face Huo Xiao and Chen Yi Du, decides to leave and escapes to the village. In the end, Chen Yi Du accidentally found her and brought her back to the city, where he had founded a new design company (Chu Xin).

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Joe Chen and Kimi Qiao also have a precious on-screen chemistry, remember that they were in real life really good friends

Tiffany (Chen Ran) is Du’s designer and as I said, she is along with Huo Xiao, one of the few characters that made sense. She had worked with Chen Yi Du since Du’s origins, and fell for him. Tiffany’s behavior follows a simple rule: give everyone a taste of their own medicine. She will be good with those who are kind with her, and she will be bad with those who are mean with her.

At first I found her annoying, although it was poignant to see her devotion to Chen Yi Du. I think I started to like her when Leo appeared and there were more and more scenes involving both of them. I loved how rational was her decision to stay with Leo, instead of hanging always on Chen Yi Du. As a couple, Leo and Tiffany were lovely, and you feel grateful for their logical development (with no absurd break ups and make ups like the main couple).

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She was annoying at first, but somehow I ended up feeling attached to Tiffany

However, Leo‘s character wasn’t that logical… ಠ~ಠ He appeared suddenly, giving room to a bunch of funny (but senseless) situations. Just when I accepted he was Li Wei Wei’s lover or something, he revealed that he was in fact her little brother (?). Sudden and illogical. I think they first introduced him like that because it would generate more tautness in the love triangle. When it was no longer necessary his presence as Chen Yi Du and Huo Xiao’s rival, they got rid off him by telling that he was Li Wei Wei’s adoptive brother. In addition, his job as a famous model kept making me question why nobody recognize him when wandering so carelessly in the streets.

Apart from this, Leo was an extremely adorable character. His actor, Zhang Xuan Rui, did a really good job depiciting his sassiness. He was surely the best choice for Tiffany.

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Little bro Leo

On the other hand, I felt exasperated each time that french woman appeared (“Ge Di Ya“?). Not because she was french, of course, but because all the design competition thing extended to a stupid point. Du and Ling Long kept fighting for that deal because the drama needed them to.

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That kiss was beautiful

One last comment to praise Chen Yi Du’s mother actress: Du Ning Lin. She was as cute as heartwarming. I laughed a lot when she kept, possibly on purpose, getting Tiffany confused as the maid.


Conclusion:

Stay With Me is a beautiful senseless idol drama. I was hooked by the chemistry of the actors, fascinated by scenery’s charm and impressed by costume’s glamour.

If you can ignore the bunch of details that don’t make sense and enjoy the absurdity, you will love this drama. I suppose idol dramas are not meant to be masterpieces, to change your life or teach you profound lessons; but as far as can be expected, Stay With Me is a great idol drama.

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Side note:

Wang Kai and Joe Chen have developed a fabulous “friendship” in real life. I highly recommend you to watch their interviews together (some examples below), their interaction is adorable!


  • Plot: 11/20
  • Cast: 20/20
  • OST: 8/10
  • Scenography: 10/10
  • Costume: 10/10
  • Overall: 8.4/10

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

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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


Cast:

  • 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?

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Review:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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*).

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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 ●︿●

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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…

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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.


Conclusion:

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.

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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).

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  • Plot: 12/20
  • Cast: 17/20
  • OST: 9/10
  • Scenography: 10/10
  • Costume: 10/10
  • Overall: 8.3/10

 

PRECIOUS YOUTH (2016) Review – Achieve your dreams without losing yourself

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Titles: 那年青春我们正好 (Na Nian Qing Chun Wo Men Zheng Hao) / Precious Youth, Youth Is Just Right, That Youth We Just Right

Cast:

  • Zheng Kai as Xiao Xiao Jun
  • Liu Shi Shi as Liu Ting
  • Zhong Dan Ni as Han Lu
  • Li Hao Xuan as Guo Hai Bing
  • Liu Dong Qin as Gao Qi
  • Liu Jun as Li Feng
  • Cao Wei Yu as Zhao San
  • Liu Jie as He Jing
  • Zhang Ling Feng as Liu Gang
  • Yu Ying as Wang Shu
  • Chen Ping Zi as Guan Jie
  • Wang Chao as Liu Jian Guo
  • He Qiang as Guo Zhi Gang
  • Lu Ling as Chen Shu Fen

Directed by: Zhang Si Lin

Written by: Wang Chang


Plot (from Wiki):

Starring Liu Shi Shi in her first modern romance drama, Precious Youth tells of the love and friendship between academically motivated student Liu Ting and the problematic yet passionate Xiao Xiaojun from their college days in 1997 to current times.

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Review:

I saw Precious Youth (PY) just out of curiosity, with no expectations. I am a self-proclaimed Liu Shi Shi’s fan, but the promotional pictures of her character weren’t appealing. Thus my attention got focused in Zheng Kai, an unknown actor to me in that moment.

(SPOILERS!) The first episodes were quite awkward. If you are asking why, just look at the picture below. Zheng Kai is 30 years old, whereas Liu Shi Shi is 29. Although neither of them seem “irreversibly” mature,  the producers tried too much to force a “youthful” appearance. Zheng Kai’s smarmed down style and his hairband felt unacceptable to me at first. You later got used to it, but I still think it’s too forced. Besides, Liu Ting (Liu Shi Shi’s character), maybe due to its own personality, appears to be horribly naive and simple-minded. Liu Ting’s style doesn’t really change throughout the whole series, she looks more and more fragile but, excluding her hairstyle, there are no significant changes between the teenage Liu Ting and the adult Liu Ting (*whispers* where’s the character development).

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What’s with that hairband…

Liu Ting‘s character was my first “letdown”. She is our female protagonist but all I could feel towards her is sympathy and pity. Since her “youthful version”, she has always appeared as an extremely fragile girl unable to leave any mark. I hate deplorable villains but a weak and trivial protagonist is almost as terrible. It’s even worst if I consider my admiration to Liu Shi Shi, her acting skills deserved a better role.

I think it’s fair to say that Liu Ting doesn’t have any character development in the series. No matter if it’s Xiao Xiao Jun, He Jing (her mother) or Guo Hai Bing, she just seems to go along. She has some ideas, of course: she wants to become a great designer, study arts and have an experience abroad. However, each time she faces any obstacle, she just let obstacles “crush her”. It’s like she doesn’t have any power over her destiny. In addition, she’s too simple-minded to think beyond her sight. There were many things which could have been obviously foreseen (the clearest example is Guo Hai Bing’s aggressiveness, which evolved in the subsequent domestic violence she suffered). While watching her turning into a victim of her own decisions, the viewer can uniquely feel compassion and resignation.

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From my point of view, all the things Liu Ting’s character achieved to transmit were delicacy and impotence

Be aware, I’m not saying domestic violence’s victims are weak or simple-minded, nothing further from the truth. In that sense, Liu Shi Shi really did an amazing job portraying the dilemma of this kind of victims: craving to escape but unable to leave, always keeping hope alive towards her abuser (Liu Ting hoped Guo Hai Bing would change, wished to believe in his words, desired to have a future with her baby’s father). She tried until she couldn’t bear it anymore. You can’t blame anyone for loving the wrong one, but what I mean is that, in fact, Liu Ting never loved Guo Hai Bing. Their relationship started like a trial after she got tired of waiting for Xiao Xiao Jun.

She truly threw herself into this relationship ‘though, and just like she mentioned, she would always be loyal to Guo Hai Bing as long as their bond last (from the beginning, Guo Hai Bing’s jealousy was unfounded, because Liu Ting wouldn’t betray him). The main problem is that Liu Ting’s loyalty is supported on their relantionship as a promise that can’t be broken, it’s not based on feelings of love and devotion. In other words, she “loves” Guo Hai Bing because he is her boyfriend, and Guo Hai Bing isn’t her boyfriend because she loves him.

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She really tried, but her relationship with Guo Hai Bing started mistakenly: it was over before it really could begin

I don’t have any ships in Precious Youth. I wasn’t moved by any of Liu Ting and Xiao Xiao Jun’s scenes. Some performances had the right elements to be a good scene (for example, that scene when Xiao Xiao Jun tells Liu Ting he didn’t love her anymore), but I couldn’t feel it (I couldn’t fangirl over them). Xiao Xiao Jun felt in love with Liu Ting only because she looked beautiful and pure, and he dumped her so easily (no matter how hard the writers tried, his reasons were kinda nonsense to me) that it made me abandon any idea of shipping them.

Also, as he said, Xiao Xiao Jun always believed Liu Ting was still “his” until she got married, moment in which he realized he had definitely lost her. Throughout the years, Liu Ting gave him many chances to pick up their relationship and he coldly rejected them all. Nevertheless, all that determination suddenly (and absurdly) disappears after she got married with Guo Hai Bing. Basically, Xiao Xiao Jun arbitrarily decided he loved Liu Ting again just when she’d stopped trying to get close to him. How could I ship something like that…? (╯◕_◕)╯Everything is arbitrary and ridiculous.

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Let’s braid our hair together

Precious Youth was my first drama starring Zheng Kai, but his acting skills didn’t impress me. It was just accurate, nothing wonderful or stunning. I think it’s mostly because Xiao Xiao Jun‘s character itself and its “mediocrity”, so I won’t dismiss trying to watch Zheng Kai in other dramas.

I respect and admire young people with dreams and high aspirations, but Xiao Xiao Jun did a bunch of things using this as a mere excuse. In several chapters, all the things he said were: “there’s no other way of doing this”, “I don’t have any choice”, “it’s even more difficult to me”, “no one understands my sacrifices”, blablablabla… Nothing could justify, for example, how he selfishly abandoned Gao Qi; and all the stuff he said after that were absolute bullshit (“I must save myself because if I got caught I couldn’t establish this company, our company, which I created without even asking you” ◔_◔). I lost all my respect to him after that event.

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I didn’t dislike Zheng Kai’s acting (neither loved it) but Xiao Xiao Jun’s character isn’t any wonder

I tried to like him when he helped Guo Hai Bing and Liu Gang, but his attitude towards Han Lu made me sick. It was so obvious Han Lu never got a chance that I couldn’t stop hating him for giving her hope. It was horrible. I will explain more about this later when talking about Han Lu, but after dumping her in their wedding ceremony I knew I could never forgive him.

Besides, the young Xiao Xiao Jun wasn’t simply a rebel teenager. He was esentially a liar and a hypocrite. He didn’t even think about it when answering he would chose friends before girls, but he betrayed his own promise and successively lied to his “good bro”, Guo Hai Bing. Although Guo Hai Bing got his hopes up all on his own (it was pretty obvious that Liu Ting didn’t like him), Xiao Xiao Jun should not have lied to him. He always pretends he’s a loyal guy who would do anything for friends or lover, but in fact he is just too selfish and scared to really honour these relations.

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The end doesn’t justify the means

Our other male lead is Li Hao Xuan’s character: Guo Hai Bing. He loved Liu Ting at first sight (again because she was beautiful and pure, nothing else), and this love turned into a terrible obsession, which brought out the best of himself but also the worst. His “young” version was really weird, possibly the worst one. He seemed like an old man with dyed hair. PY’s producers believe that an actor can return to youth by changing their hairstyle, but that’s not true.

Guo Hai Bing has a soft side, he collects Doraemon’s figures and thinks this is the best present to surprise a girl. Although he wasn’t “that” bad at first, and unlike Xiao Xiao Jun, seemed to really care about friendship and bounds, the resentment in his eyes and the violence in his behaviour were signs that could permit anyone forecast series’ future.

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An angry young old man

Guo Hai Bing’s crush with Liu Ting was really annoying ◔_◔ I was constantly asking why he thought Liu Ting likes him… Acting like she was his girlfriend, feeling betrayed when she is with other guys. It was so obvious that Liu Ting didn’t like him that everything he did felt ridiculous and embarrassing. Still, I felt sorry when Liu Ting rejected him after all the efforts he did to study hard and improve, just because she told him to study and enter an university. Likewise, I took pity on him every time he was bullied by He Jing, Liu Ting’s mother. He worked incredibly hard in order to be accepted by Liu Ting and her parents. That was praiseworthy and even made me question if Guo Hai Bing’s obsession could lead into a healthy relationship.

Moreover, Liu Ting should have figured out that Guo Hai Bing would turned into an abusive husband when he hit Zhao San without any reason, and then reprehended her for being “that kind of girl”, who exchanges her beauty to achieve money and luxure. But since this is a drama, drama must happen (even when it has no sense), and that doesn’t occur.

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Liu Ting really tried, it was his insecurity and jealousy what boycotted his own happy ending

The creepiest character award goes for Li Hao Xuan. Guo Hai Bing is all humble and understanding before marrying Liu Ting, but after that he begins to be abusive and reveal his real self. Face to face, he acts like if he respects Liu Ting and her decisions; but behind her back, he’s sickly jealous and can’t stand the mere idea of Liu Ting having her own life, beyond his control. Each time they argued, Guo Hai Bing tried to win back Liu Ting by saying sorry and pretending to respect and support her opinion. He made promises and put emotional pressure on Liu Ting in order to retain her. Li Hao Xuan did a really good job portraying his role (possibly one of the best performances of PY), his interactions with Liu Shi Shi’s character in the drama were well-made and correctly performed.

Things got unbearable when Liu Ting got pregnant but Guo Hai Bing still couldn’t get over his insecurity. He obsessively belived that Liu Ting’s child was Xiao Xiao Jun’s and not his. Finally these sickly ideations led into an argument in which he ended beating Liu Ting and making her lose their child. In that moment, Liu Ting realizes that everything is over, she is terrified and disappointed of Guo Hai Bing. There was no way back.

Note: After Liu Ting travelled to France, everyone went on vacation (everyone including Guo Hai Bing). Suddenly, they were all happy and best friends again. That scene was so weird and not fitting…

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They look like wedding cake’s figures

Another main character is Liu Ting’s childhood bestie, Han Lu. Unlike the mentioned characters, I think Zhong Dan Ni’s youthful version of Han Lu was pretty convincing. I felt she was quite annoying when first introduced, falling in love with Xiao Xiao Jun and tearing her relation with Liu Ting because of that. But later, I can’t say when, I started to be attached to her. Her sacrificed (but unfounded) love towards Xiao Xiao Jun ended touching me.

When talking about this, there are no words to describe how awful was everything Xiao Xiao Jun did (and didn’t do). Despite I don’t ship them (how could I ship anyone in this drama…), there were many times when I craved that Xiao Xiao Jun could simply love her back. Still, Han Lu deserves someone so much better than Xiao Xiao Jun… She’s a girl ready to die, literally, for the person she has decided to love. She didn’t care when Xiao Xiao Jun introduced her to Guan Jie, she betrayed her precious friendship with Li Feng for him, she preferred to be a single mother rather than putting pressure on Xiao Xiao Jun, and even forgave him when Xiao Xiao Jun left in their wedding… I could make an endless list of all the things Han Lu did for Xiao Xiao Jun. It’s even worst if you think how useless everything was, if only Xiao Xiao Jun and Liu Ting’s love story was something worth it… (but it wasn’t).

 

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If you are watching PY, be ready to feel sorry for Han Lu

I really began to like her when she entered university, because she was shown as a character unafraid of her “ugly” parts. I was thankful of all her faults, they didn’t try to make her perfect and pure (like Liu Ting), and this highlighted her humanity (and so, her character’s credibility). She is sassy and  straightforward, and you can understand why Li Feng likes to hang out with her. Han Lu would have achieved everything she wanted if she hadn’t fallen in love with Xiao Xiao Jun. That’s the problem, yes, all her world revolves around Xiao Xiao Jun. She doesn’t have any dream or aspiration excluding her love, and I was very pleased at the end when she found out her own way (openning an art gallery).

I loved Han Lu’s brotherhood with Li Feng, their meetings were some of the most warming parts of the series. Moreover, Li Feng is a great man, I admire his good judgement and how he took care of Han Lu like a little sis. That’s why I was surprised and disappointed when he lied to her girlfriend (that felt strange and out of place). Also, when his girlfriend is revealed to be pregnant I thought they would dedicate some scenes to show how they were parenting, but for some reason they just skipped everything (from one scene to another, Li Feng’s girlfriend was pregnant and then had already gave birth). Maybe Li Feng’s character wasn’t relevant enough to give him a few more scenes… Overall, I think Li Feng was PY’s most balanced character.

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Liu Ting’s character felt too “far away”, distant from the public (like a goddess suffering human torment); but Han Lu was so human that it touched my heart

In addition to Han Lu (and Guo Hai Bing), there are other childhood friends: Gao Qi and her girlfriend (whose name I don’t remember right now). They were also an example of characters who didn’t get a chance to develop themselves. They first broke up because Gao Qi wasn’t a responsible adult and after that, their scenes together were limited and sudden. The writers made drama for drama revealing in a scene of 2 minutes that the girlfriend’s parents didn’t accept Gao Qi and preferred a talented lawyer. The next time this problem is mentioned, in the end of the drama, the girlfriend explains laconically that she told her parents to allow her choose and not interfere in her love life. Everything is so sudden and disconnected that it doesn’t make sense.

Guan Jie is a guy who appears since the beginning of the series. He’s a man with a gang that faces Xiao Xiao Jun and Guo Hai Bing’s gangs, and later do business with both of them. What I have to say about Guan Jie is how old he is supposed to be? He seems very out of place. Also, while they tried to make everyone look younger and older throughtout the series, they did nothing for Guan Jie. Maybe the budget wasn’t enough to change his hairstyle…

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Toupée-Gao Qi and Xiao Xiao Jun

These characters are the “center” of PY, but the interaction they have with their parents makes the show’s pillar. I love how relatable are some of the things that are shown in this sense. The best example is, surely, Liu Ting’s mother and her prejudices. He Jing (protrayed by Liu Jie) was, in my opinion, the best performance of PY. She did an awesome job characterizing a woman who uniquely cares about money and power, willing to marry her daughter to an old man she didn’t like (Zhao San) just because he is rich. She acted like a pendulum with Xiao Xiao Jun and Guo Hai Bing, bullying them when they are poor and flattering them when they obtain power and money. Her annoying voice and presence were part of this amazing performance. He Jing is hypocrite and selfish, she is always claiming that she’s a teacher with flawless morals, better than anyone; but in fact she just treats people like objects or means to accomplish what she desires.

The point is that He Jing perfectly characterizes some of the prejudices that are still extended in our society. People shouldn’t be judged by their possessions, and money isn’t everything. Unfortunately, He Jing learnt that lesson too late.

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Independently of all that have been mentioned, PY has some important messages that make us conscious of nowadays society’s problems

Conclusion:

To sum up, Precious Youth is an average show with some good points but too much nonsense and disconnected events. Many times I felt writers were just adding drama for drama, when things could have been so much easier or logical.

Regarding the best performances: Liu Jie highlighted as He Jing; Li Hao Xuan made a good job depicting Guo Hai Bing’s angst, insecurity and resentment; Liu Shi Shi portrayed bitterly the dilemma of victims of domestic violence (‘though I think Liu Ting’s character was too “superficial”); and Zhong Dan Ni achieved to touch my heart with her joy and pain. On the other hand, Zheng Kai’s performance was accurate, but Xiao Xiao Jun’s character itself wasn’t appealing to me. Still, I’m willing to watch his future projects and give him more chances.

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Despite everything, recalling Precious Youth comes along with a heartwarming emotion. When I think about its characters, what I remember are mostly positive memories: Xiao Xiao Jun as a dreamy teenager, Liu Ting smiling sweetly, Guo Hai Bing offering Doraemon figures to the girl he likes, Han Lu’s sacrificed love and boundless devotion…

In conclusion, I didn’t regret using my time to watch PY, but I really wished writers could have been more level-headed with its plot, because the issues addressed  were very interesting and relevant.

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  • Plot: 9/20
  • Cast: 16/20
  • OST: 8/10
  • Scenography: 6/10
  • Costume: 5/10
  • Overall: 6.3/10

PRINCESS JIE YOU (2016) Review – A beautiful breath of fresh air

解忧公主

Titles: 解忧公主 (Jie You Gong Zhu) / Princess Jie You

Cast:

  • Zhang Xin Yi as Jie You
  • Yuan Hong as Weng Gui
  • Yuan Wen Kang as Jun Xu Mi
  • Liu Guan Xiang as Huai Tian Sha
  • Ye Qing as Feng Liao
  • Yang Yi as A Cai
  • Zhang Yi Luan as Hu Gu
  • Wu Qiang as Changshan Xi Hou
  • Jiang Xiao Chong as Mu Ha Zi
  • Yang Lin Zi as Ming Gu Liang
  • Xue Xiao Ran as Gu Rui Ya
  • Qiao Lei as Yi Lu
  • Lu Qi Wei as A Yi Na

Directed by: Lu Yang

Written by: An Qi Jie, Yu Yang, Sun Hao and Xue Jiao


Plot (from Wiki):

To seal a political alliance between the Han and the Wusun, Princess Jie You left the Chinese capital city and all its comforts to marry Chieftain Jun Xu Mi on the steppe of Central Asia. She unexpectedly fell in love with his cousin Wen Gui. Her wisdom and compassion for the people of Wusun not only neutralized the threats against the Han Dynasty, she spread Chinese culture to the west encouraging the exchange of cultures.

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Review:

I’m so in love with this show. It has been a while since I got the chance to watch such a wonderful series. My main reason to watch Princess Jie You (PJY) was Yuan Hong’s participation, but thanks to that I could meet more new formidable actors.

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Unbeatable acting, stunning scenography, brilliant scripting

(SPOILERS) My most interesting discovery was Zhang Xin Yi, our amazing protagonist, Jie You. She is first shown as an orphan who was raised by a traveling circus. Before knowing her real identity as Han’s royal princess, she met and fell for Yuan Hong’s character: Wusun’s general Weng Gui.

Princess Jie You (PJY) is set in Han dynasty, a period in which it was common among royals to have arranged marriages. In order to seal the peace between Han and Wusun, Han’s emperor decides to marry Jie You with Wusun’s chief, who also happens to be Weng Gui’s cousin. With this brief comment you can already imagine how tearing and painful the story will be.

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Zhang Xin Yi won my heart from the very first minute

Jie You isn’t someone who needs to be saved, but everyone wants to save her. I think this says a lot about Zhang Xin Yi’s character. She’s witty, courageous and cheerful. In many chinese dramas, the female lead is kind to the extreme of being dumb, but Jie You is intelligent enough to know who are her friends and who are her enemies. Frequently, I realize that characters only fall in love with the female lead because she’s the female lead, but in this case there are plenty of reasons to adore Jie You and understand why someone would love her.

From the beginning, we get to know Jie You’s most playful and fearless side. The first time she meets Weng Gui, he’s killing some Xiongnu assassins. Jie You is afraid of that stranger, but she has the guts to reprehend him for staining desert’s precious water with his victims’ blood. Later, she decides to save Weng Gui when he’s severely injured.

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She could be her own hero, but heros are willing to die for her

The first episodes are incredibly funny, and you will laugh a lot with their interactions. While watching, I couldn’t believe how much I was enjoying those scenes: Jie You healing Weng Gui’s wound, Jie You and Weng Gui chatting at night, Jie You tricking Weng Gui as her “master”, and Jie You about to be executed because of owning Weng Gui’s dagger (being this last scene one of my favourites).

Zhang Xin Yi and Yuan Hong have a marvelous chemistry, and they became my OTP since the very first episode. Their chemistry is so pure that, after shooting PJY, they began to date in real life and eventually got married this year (✿ ♥‿♥).

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My beautiful OTP (sorry in advance for all the fangirling you are going to witness next)

Circumstances made the couple take different paths (Jie You goes to find her family and Weng Gui visits Han’s Emperor as Wusun’s ambassador). Weng Gui gifts Jie You with his most treasured possession (the dagger) and promises to come back for her in three days. However, fate tricks them and this separation becomes the decision they will most regret.

Jie You gets to know her uncle and her grandmother, who explains that Jie You’s parents abandoned her because her dad was sentenced as a traitor and this brought tragic consequences to her family. During this conversation, her annoying cousin (whose name doesn’t deserve to be remembered) blames Jie You’s dad of implicating the family. Jie You replys how absurd are these complains, because nobody disapproved his father when he brought fortune and wealth to the family; even her, who was born as an orphan and grew in poverty, was grateful for everything she has. Her badass speech this time gained her uncle’s admiration and turned me into her lifelong fan.

Because of this annoying cousin’s fault, Jie You ends up turning into the chosen princess to marry Wusun’s chief. It should be noted that Jie You really waited for Weng Gui and Weng Gui really returned to find her, but they missed their chance. Weng Gui came back too late and Jie You was already destined to become Han’s marrying princess.

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No blame, I totally understand why Han’s Emperor chose Jie You over all those foolish princess

Weng Gui is sent by his cousin, Wusun’s chief (“Kunmi”), to escort the arriving bride, and they both found out, in the most tearful way, how destiny had tricked them. Yuan Hong (particularly) and Zhang Xin Yi’s way of looking is amazingly expressive, it’s like their eyes could scream. I cried watching their anguish, Jie You’s impotence and Weng Gui’s confusion. No one could have portrayed their characters better.

Weng Gui tries to flee with Jie You, and Jie You craves to escape with him. In fact, they did (at least they tried). They hid in one of Weng Gui’s friends village and spent a short (but magical) time together. Unfortunately, they are ambushed by Xiongnu’s assassins, this causes the death of the villagers and Weng Gui’s friend, including her little daughter ಥ_ಥ After this, Jie You isn’t able to escape anymore, she becomes aware of her responsability as Han’s bride and all the people who depend on her. There’s no way back for them.

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Why my babies couldn’t stay together ;_;

Jie You finally arrives to Wusun and finds out that Xiongnu had also sent their own bride to seal a political alliance with Wusun. In order to survive in Wusun’s palace, Jie You is forced to change, every movement she makes and every word she says is representing her nation, and one single mistake could end up fatally for her people. The Jie You we see now is full of fears and uncertainty, but above everything, she has to betray her heart constantly, acting like she doesn’t care about Weng Gui.

As for Xiongnu’s bride (Hu Gu), she was meant to marry Wusun’s chief after Jie You, and so becoming her little sister (this is kinda important in royal dynastys because the marrying order has influence in power). However, due to Xiongnu’s incessant attacks during the trip, Han’s escort and Jie You arrives many days later. Jie You gets there precisely at Hu Gu’s and Wusun’s chief wedding day. The “Kunmi”, Jun Xu Mi, who is already aware of rumours claiming Han’s bride isn’t pleased of that marriage, tells Jie You that she can attend to his wedding with Hu Gu as her “rightful” wife (although they haven’t held any ceremony). Jie You knows that this would be an affront to Han’s dynasty, and even ‘though she doesn’t care about turning into the big sister or the little one, she refuses to become his wife without any ceremony.

As a result, Jun Xu Mi and Jie You begin a will duel, in which Jie You promises not to enter the palace (with her whole escort) until Jun Xu Mi give in. Still, after several days, a storm is approaching, threatening Jie You’s will. But meanwhile, Weng Gui (who will always help Jie You, always) persuades Kunmi to allow Jie You’s request. In this way, Jie You gets the wedding ceremony she demanded.

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Weng Gui believes that people should control their own destiny, but Jie You is helplessly thrown into a path she hasn’t choose

This wedding ceremony is one of the most tearful moments I have spent while watching one drama. I can’t explain how painful was each second. I couldn’t stop crying, and I even blamed Zhang Xin Yi and Yuan Hong’s performance for being that terrific. I don’t want to spoil the details of such a stunning scene to any reader, so I’ll just say that Kunmi had the “amazing” idea of leaving the ceremony preparations to Weng Gui (basically, he forced him to marry the woman he deeply loves to his cousin and chief, R-U-D-E). No need to say how beautiful was the wedding ceremony Weng Gui arranged (he claimed that was how he had pictured his own wedding, with Jie You ಥ_ಥ).

Everyone is celebrating the union, dancing and laughing. Everyone except my OTP. Weng Gui gets drunk, acting like he’s euphoric; and Jie You accepts her destiny in the most mournful way. I wasn’t going to say anything else about this horrible scene, but I can’t help to mention Jie You’s dance. There’s a moment when Jie You starts a Han traditional dance, in order to “celebrate her wedding”, but in fact this is a dance that she promised to dance in her wedding with Weng Gui (R-U-D-E) ಥ_ಥ During the whole performance she stares at Weng Gui, with her eyes filled with tears. What’s even worse, Kunmi is too drunk to even realized how beautiful Jie You is…

Things don’t get any better. When the ceremony is almost over, Kunmi acknowledges that Han’s emperor has sent many troops at the borders between Wusun and Han, with the purpose of pressuring him in case the wedding isn’t held. Kunmi, furious about this, takes it out on Jie You. She basically rapes her in their wedding night, making Jie You to almost kill herself (with Weng Gui’s dagger) and later, raising this dagger over an asleep Kunmi. Of course, she doesn’t do any of these. During the same night, Xiongnu sent some murderers to kill Jie You (in order to assure Hu Gu’s status), but Kunmi saves her.

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Although I was really attached to Kunmi in the end, nothing can make me forgive him for “raping” Jie You in their wedding night, taking it out on her

Many things happen around Kunmi and Jie You’s relationship. Jun Xu Mi‘s first rightful wife also came from Han dynasty, but she passed away in strange circumstances during the labour of their child (who also died). Kunmi truly loved her and he was devastated over her death. His marriage with both Hu Gu and Jie You is merely political. Although in appearance he becomes infatuated with Hu Gu, he slowly develops (real) feelings towards that lovely and stubborn Jie You.

Kunmi is, in fact, a lonely guy who isn’t able to trust anyone. Weng Gui’s existence threatens his status, because the last Wusun chief wanted to make Weng Gui his heir. He knows that Weng Gui, in order to soothe his fears, pretends to be a careless and irresponsible man who can’t assume the throne; but even ‘though, he can’t really trust him. In Kunmi’s mind, Weng Gui will always have a chance to dethrone him. Obviously, things get even more complicated when rumours about a romance between Weng Gui and Jie You are spread.

I ended up feeling pitty over Kunmi. He touched me deeply when he realised that he had fallen in love with Jie You but she doesn’t love him, not in the same way he loves her. He finally found someone in which he could trust, but Jie You’s heart already belonged Weng Gui.

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Another lone wolf in reality

Many of the things he does, in appearance hurting Jie You, are done to protect her from Xiongnu’s attention. He even protects her over his own mother, the emperor dowager. Understanding Jun Xu Mi’s character felt like a natural process to me and I unconsciously got attached to him.

Yuan Wen Kang’s acting was flawless with awesome performances. Some examples are Jie You and Kunmi’s conversation after her miscarriage, which is one of the most tearful and powerful moments of the series (I can’t enumerate all the wonderful scenes that stands out in PJY). Besides, another superb scene is Kunmi accepting the fact that Weng Gui and Jie You are in love, almost going crazy. Later, when he loses the power and is (essentially) dethroned, Yuan Wen Kang marvelously proves again his talent. In my opinion, this last scene is incredibly significant, because here he realizes how “trivial” is the power he has been keeping over everyone he had ever cared.

While talking about Kunmi, I can’t help but mention his loyal Mu Ha Zi, the servant who always follows him and maybe the only person in which Kunmi can really trust. I like Mu Ha Zi and I felt unfair how suddenly he died. Poor Mu Ha Zi, watching over his Kunmi even with his last breath…

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I believe Jie You actually loved Kunmi, and their story could have been beautiful if she hadn’t met Weng Gui in first place

In addition to Jie You, Kunmi has two other wives: the mentioned Hu Gu (from Xiongnu’s tribe) and Yun Gu Te (from Wusun’s tribe). The emperor dowager points out how important it was the existence of these wives, each one from one of the three tribes (Wusun, Han and Xiongnu), since it balances their power. Yun Gu Te married Kunmi before Hu Gu and Jie You’s arrival, but their marital story is darkened by various miscarriages. She also has a little brother who has a charge in Wusun’s army (Na Lin Yu Hou).

On the other hand, Hu Gu is announced at first as an highly intelligent woman who is meant to become Jie You’s worst enemy. However, after their first encounters I immediately realized how overrated she was: not match up to Jie You. She felt like a dumb jealous whiner most of the time, but surprisingly towards the end of the series, after becoming the mother of Jun Xu Mi’s unique descendant, she turns into a kinda likeable character. I really loved that (very sudden) twist in which Xiongnu’s general was in fact loyal to her, willing to betray his own tribe and leave everything behind for her. Still, I think she fell in love with Kunmi too abruptly (I couldn’t understand why she was suddenly so in love with Jun Xu Mi, maybe having his child helped).

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Hu Gu (at the left side) and Yun Gu Te (at the right side)

Another important supporting character is Huai Tian Sha, Jie You’s faithful knight. He’s a really gifted man with a promising future as one of the most skilled Han warriors, loyal at first to Han’s emperor. When Huai Tian Sha’s character is introduced, we see him as a cold-hearted general who doesn’t seem to care about anyone or anything, but this is due to a traumatic past in which he had to kill his own father. Thanks to Jie You, he finds out how charming life can be (yes, he also falls in love with Jie You). He betrays Han’s emperor in order to save Jie You of becoming Han’s bride, and later gives up everything to follow her. He turns into Jie You’s knight, her shield and sword. Everything he does (which is a lot) is done for Jie You.

He is aware of how much Weng Gui and Jie You love each other, but for the sake of everyone (and mainly Jie You), he frequently impedes their meetings. I love the pair Weng Gui and Huai Tian Sha makes, like a magic duet obsessed over Jie You’s security.

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Look at these adorable dorkies

Another fact about PJY is how much I enjoyed every fighting scene (particularly Huai Tian Sha and Weng Gui’s duels). Each fighting scene is shot brilliantly and it didn’t feel boring at any single point.

Liu Guan Xiang (Huai Tian Sha’s actor) also has many esteemed scenes. Among my favourite ones: his horrified expression when Han’s Emperor tricks them, making Jie You believe Huai Tian Sha betrayed her; the suffering and decision reflected in his eyes when he proves to Jie You that he didn’t let her down; and basically every time he lost his usual cool when he thinks Jie You is in danger.

Huai Tian Sha is a great guy, and you would have shipped him with Jie You (and maybe someone would also have shipped Jun Xu Mi with her) if Weng Gui wasn’t in this show. Unfortunately for both Huai Tian Sha and Kunmi, the viewer is meant to ship Jie You with Weng Gui since the very first second.

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Why is love this tearful…

Obviously such a popular guy has his own suitors. I’m talking about Feng Liao, a traveling trader and skilled warrior. She fall for Huai Tian Sha at first sight, and almost at the same time she realized how senseless her love is, because Huai Tian Sha was already in love with Jie You. Unlike Huai Tian Sha, Feng Liao has the courage to confess her love, although being rejected.

You will feel sorry for every single character in this series. Huai Tian Sha and Feng Liao aren’t any exception. I couldn’t stop crying in the last scene: Huai Tian Sha dying by Feng Liao’s side while watching sunrise. Feng Liao once promised Huai Tian Sha that she would tell him the truth about her past (why she wants to take revenge over Changshan Xi Hou), but Huai Tian Sha died without giving her that chance. It broke my heart hearing Feng Liao silent mourn, reproaching Huai Tian Sha for having abandoned her and their promise.

It’s even worse if you consider that Feng Liao also has her suitors: Wusun’s You great general (the other pillar of Wusun’s military force, alongside Weng Gui). He appears briefly, in comparison with other characters, but I immediately adore him. He’s noble and courageous, and refers to Feng Liao as “the woman I love” (how sweet can that be). Also, he doesn’t want to take advantage of Feng Liao, and when she offers her body in exchange of a favour, he rejects her offended.

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Feng Liao usually disguises herself as a man, and sometimes she wears a turban and a moustache

There’s another member in the Jie You “party”: A Cai. She was part of the traveling circus that raised Jie You, and followed her to Wusun as her maid when she became Han’s bride. It is shown from the beginning that she is interested in Weng Gui (for no reason?), and this grows into an insane obsession. I really tried to (slightly) like her character, since she is someone important to Jie You, but I couldn’t. I didn’t find anything good in A Cai: her actions are disappointingly predictable and later, when she is manipulated by Hu Gu, I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes about how stupid she was.

Otherwise, I must dedicate a few words to the traveling circus chief. Her love to Jie You is purely paternal, caring and selfless.

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Okay, I can’t really blame A Cai for falling in love with Weng Gui

As I said before, Weng Gui and Jie You will always be my everlasting OTP. I’ve been a long-time fan of Yuan Hong, but PJY surely presents his best role. Everything in Weng Gui’s character is marvelously appealing and prodigious. As Jie You says, Weng Gui is like Wusun’s fields: he embodies the purest form of freedom, courage and simplicity.

Weng Gui falls in love with Jie You and he takes this love to the very end. His pain is so genuine that can make you forget the real world. He’s aware of how miserable their love will make them, so in order to make things easier to Jie You, he decides to leave to Wusun’s limits. This doesn’t last too long because he hears that Jie You is in danger and leaves everything behind just to save her (no need to say he almost died in the attempt). This happens many more times but it doesn’t feel repetitive or overfilled at any point. Jie You tries to keep distance with Weng Gui, but he always appears by her side when everything is falling apart, protecting and guarding her from every kind of risk.

I adore(d) that scene in which Weng Gui gets horribly jealous of Kunmi, for whom Jie You puts all her efforts in winning an archery contest with Xiongnu’s tribe. That kiss, with awesome scenography and brilliant context, is one of the best on-screen kisses I have ever watched (✿ ♥‿♥)

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PJY is probably Yuan Hong’s best work (and personally my favourite one)

PJY’s writers tear you apart even more when they decided that Weng Gui should also have a wretched wedding (organized by Jie You this time… R-U-D-E). Weng Gui’s wedding and its eve are other indescribably impressive scenes ಥ_ಥ. I won’t spread myself anymore in praises and spoilers, but if you have read this review until here, you may be asking if it’s true how flawlessly I’m depicting PJY. My answer: just watch and see it by your own eyes.

I confess to have felt horribly hopeless around the last episodes, almost wanting to drop the series, because I was convinced that Jie You and Weng Gui weren’t getting their deserved happy ending… I literally shouted of joy when I found out that I was pleasingly wrong (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

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My everlasting OTP

Of course, the show is not all about love and drama, there’s a suspense element. The premise is that the prior Han’s bride died in strange circumstances. After Jie You’s arrival to Wusun’s palace she realizes there’s a mysterious presence spying on her, who is later revealed as the prior Han’s bride maid (Xi Nü). She escaped after becoming aware of the many strangeness surrounding her lady’s death. After that, she stayed secretly investigating the truth.

The big bad guy in this show is Changshan Xi Hou. I wasn’t really “expecting” this, because he just seemed like a normal antagonistic with no major moves. If I had to point our any flaw in the script, I would say that they introduced all these things too abruptly. It’s like the show took a strange turn all suddenly. I was expecting something more, an awesome twist which was at the level of PJY’s quality (I thought the villain would be someone unforeseen: maybe Weng Gui’s father, Mu Ha Zi, or another character not introduced). Basically, when Changshan Xi Hou was exposed as the big bad guy I was like “meh, okay”.

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Weng Gui and Jie You’s love story was so brilliant that it eclipsed everything, even any villain’s “attempt of greatness”

Changshan Xi Hou has a little sister, A Yi Na. She grew up with Weng Gui and Jun Xu Mi, and has been in love with the first one since ever. She was at first a good friend of Jie You, but after marrying Weng Gui and becoming aware of his real feelings, she hates Jie You for lying and betraying her. No need to mention that Jie You arranged a beautiful wedding ceremony for Weng Gui and A Yi Na. I don’t dislike A Yi Na, ‘though her constant weeping and her suicide attempt felt kinda annoying. In the end, when she dies protecting Weng Gui you will feel sorry, because she may have deserved more. It’s the same as Jun Xu Mi or Huai Tian Sha. Weng Gui and Jie You’s ship is so unquestionable that you can’t see any of them with another person, independently of how perfect he/she is.

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Yuan Hong was awfully handsome in this show

Conclusion:

If it was up to me, I would spent days and days talking about how much I loved this show and the incredible performance of the cast. Zhang Xin Yi and Yuan Hong were in the show’s spotlight, but Yuan Wen Kang’s acting as Jun Xu Mi and Liu Guan Xiang’s as Huai Tian Sha were also terrific. I haven’t got any kind of criticism over the cast: they carried out a brilliant script to a even more amazing point.

I can’t believe how underrtaed Princess Jie You is, I would recommend this show to everyone. In my opinion, it has the perfect formula to create an unforgettable artwork capable of touching people’s heart.

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If only I could stop fangirling…

The soundtrack is accurate to the feelings portrayed, sensitive enough. Every time I heard its songs I’ll recall the awesome scenography of PJY: the boundless fields of grass, the bluest sky and the vastness of the desert.

These are, in conclusion, the reason why I am giving PJY the highest score. I could name some flaws (an ordinary villain who is not at the level of the show’s quality, too suddenly introduced twists or plot lines…), but these “defects” are nothing if you take a general look at the whole work.

I was pleasingly surprised by PJY, felt inevitably in love with each character and cried sorely because they managed to bring fiction to whole new level. I’m thankful for this experience, because watching PJY surely felt like a lifetime experience.

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This show turned into the breath of fresh air I needed

Additional comment:

I will leave some of my favourite photos of Yuan Hong and Zhang Xin Yi’s wedding (why? never ask why to a fangirl). At first, when I heard Yuan Hong was getting married I was really impressed, even more when I knew the bride was an actress I’d never met before. After watching PJY, I understood everything. That kind of chemistry can’t be helped.

Besides, their wedding had the best groomsmen of the history: Hu Ge, Ma Tian Yu, Eddie Peng and Liu Hao Ran.

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  • Plot: 20/20
  • Cast: 20/20
  • OST: 10/10
  • Scenography: 10/10
  • Costume: 10/10
  • Overall: 10/10

 

THE LEGEND OF ZU (2015) Review – When quantity tried to overcome quality and failed

蜀山战纪之剑侠传奇

Titles: 蜀山战纪之剑侠传奇 (Shu Shan Zhan Ji Zhi Jian Xia Chuan Qi) / The Legend of Zu, The New Shushan Knight Errant Swordsman Biography, The Gods and Demons of Zu Mountain and The Legend of S.

Cast:

  • Zhao Li Ying as Yu Wu Xin
  • William Chan as Ding Yin
  • Nicky Wu as Lu Pao / Shangguan Jing Wo
  • Janice Man as Zhou Qing Yun
  • Li Jin Rong as Zhuge Yu Wo
  • Han Yu Qin as Su Yin
  • Ye Zu Xin as Zhang Xian Bing
  • Gao Wei Guang as Dan Chen Zi
  • Liu Si Tong as Zhuge Zi Ying
  • JJ Jia as Tu Mei
  • Wu Hua Xin as Jiu Du Shen Ju
  • Wang Xi Chao as Wu Gui Tian Wang
  • Louis Fan as Gongsun Wu Wo
  • Zhang Tian Lin as Tu Ba
  • Yu Yue as Tu Meng
  • Wei Chun Guang as Monk Miao Yi
  • Cui Zhong as Bai Cao Xian Ren
  • Wu Li as Xiao Ru Zhen Ren
  • Wang Xiu Qiang as Bai Mei Zhen Ren
  • Zong Feng Yan as Tai Qing Zhen Ren
  • Yang Shi Han as Xiao Wu

Directed by: Huang Wei Jie, Liang Guo Guan and Su Fei

Written by: Ma Yan, Li Jing Ling, Jiang Lai and Ling Yi Ying

Produced by: Nicky Wu-Beijing Straw Bear Films Ltd., Liu Shi Shi, Liu Xiao Feng and Gong Yu


Plot (from Wiki):

The Zhu sect has been a powerful and righteous leader in the martial arts world for quite some time. To save the world from the evil that is Lu Pao (Nicky Wu), the sect leader of Zhu places a magical blood stone inside the body of our hero, Ding Yin (William Chan), in order to enhance his already gifted talents. As a result, Ding Yin stays at Zhu Mountain, working on building and controlling his powers. In a chance encounter, he meets Lu Pao’s daughter, Yu Wu Xin (Zhao Li Ying), who is the spitting image of his deceased wife (Xiao Yu). They initially use each other – she wants to steal the blood demon, and he wants to use her to get to her father. Unfortunately, close proximity brews feelings and complicates everything else. Things build up to many majestic battles between the good and evil sects involving betrayal, sacrifices, and deaths.

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Review:

Note: This is the first drama I reviewed while watching, so my impressions about the series are very recent (✿◠‿◠).

TLZ has 56 episodes, divided in 5 different arcs. I kinda like this separation. Each arc has its own openning and ending song, and the progress from one arc to another isn’t abrupt or precipitate (if you skip the openings you wouldn’t even realize). I admire the additional effort and cost this supposed to the producers. In the following video you can check the whole series’ OST:

The scenography is okay, and I pretty like the effect they achieved with fluorescent lightings in some scenes (like the cave where they chained Yu Er and tortured her, the lightings are just beautiful). In this sense, the special effects are good and appropriate as well.

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(SPOILERS) William Chan plays the role of our hero, Ding Yin. Am I the only one who thinks he looks too “plastic”?  His flawless and strangely smooth skin reminds me of Jiro Wang in “Drama Go Go Go”… Probably it’s just a perception but William Chan usually seems more natural.

Although I felt like I should have adored him, I didn’t… Most of the time, Ding Yin was horribly dumb and his behavior wasn’t coherent ಠ╭╮ಠ Ding Yin acts like a pendulum, changing his mind every single second. Watching his mood swings was incredibly boring and frustrating. I know he’s a poor little guy who is manipulated by everyone and I should feel pity for him, but seriously, he’s just a big trunk, as Qing Yun likes to call him.

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The skin of a plastic Barbie

Ding Yin is first known as Ding Da Li (literally, “Great Strength Ding”), a good-natured and cheerful guy married to a girl named Yu Er. He is said to have an odd illness that sometimes makes him go crazy, hurting people. One day, his village and his beloved neighbours (including, allegedly, Yu Er) are killed by Evil Sect’s soldiers. He’s saved by Zhu’s disciples along with a homeless person he gave refuge the night before (Zhang Xian Bing, bro Xiao Zhang). Later, he loses his memory and stays in Zhu Mountain as another disciple.

Ding Yin was born in a particular day which makes him special, being able to carry and purify the magical blood stone (I will simply call “Stone” that damn stone). The Stone is a demonic object with great powers (conquering the world, resurrecting people, shit alike…), and if the bad guys obtain it the world will end in a terrible way blah blah blah… On the other hand, the “good” guys want Ding Yin to carry and purify it, so it doesn’t become a problem to world’s safety.

In this sense, William Chan’s character reminds me of his good bro Li Yi Feng’s role in Swords of Legends. They both have to control their inner-evilness and they both “died” heros (Ding Yin is later revelead to be possibly alive. Well, he must be alive because season 2 is coming).

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I liked the broken sword thing

Another thing is that everyone says things like “oh, he’s awesome, the best Zhu warrior of our generation blah blah blah”, but I couldn’t notice his awesomeness ^( ‘-‘ )^ I don’t think Ding Yin is outstanding at nothing except being a pendulum.

People say he’s too naive and caring, but I neither share this perception. Okay, he was kind and understanding with Xiao Zhang in the beginning, even when he stole their money after all they did for him. Most of the times he trusted Yu Er (even when it was obvious that she was going to betray him), I thought of him more as dumb than naive. Like, okay, you can give her another chance (I would have also), but if the betrayal is THAT obvious, you should at less be a little careful. Instead of having any prevention, he just stays there (like a big trunk) waiting for disaster to happen (not only to himself, but also to people surrounding him). I prefer a hero who know show to prevent a problem than one who limits to solve the problem after it has appeared.

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“You are my everything…” until I get irrationally mad about something (?)

Moreover, I slightly (but significantly) blame him for giving hope to Qing Yun. I’ve always thought there’s not right or wrong in love, and probably I wouldn’t have blamed him if his character wasn’t a pendulum, but I couldn’t stand his “love” to Qing Yun or even Yu Er. One day he’s all sweet and “nothing will separate us” but the next day he acts like he has nothing to do with them. That’s why I couldn’t entirely ship him with any one.

Very likely it’s not a problem of William Chan’s acting, whose swing moods felt brusque and extremely baseless, but script’s failure. Basically, throughout the whole drama, they couldn’t stop creating problems from nothing in order to extend the series until it became utterly absurd.

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Evil always has flawless hair from shampoo commercials

For these reasons, I prefer Evil Ding Yin, but his evilness only lasted a few episodes… It came up as fast as it disappeared. I know the point is supporting the idea of love as the greatest power in world, but it felt kinda rushed. Also, Ding Yin’s look at Zhu’s major was, in my opinion, pretty awesome. He successfully achieved a mischievous attractive look.

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Longest on-screen kiss in ZLY’s career

ZLY’s participation was the main reason why I wanted to watch this show. As for many people, she’s one of my favourite actress and I tend to enjoy all her performances. The stills released of ZLY’s character (Yu Wu Xin) were so beautiful that I couldn’t wait for this series (✿ ♥‿♥). Some of the costumes (the one in the picture below and especially the red one she wore in marriage) reminds me of Liu Shi Shi’s blue outfit in Sound of the Desert (series I absolutely love).

Yu Wu Xin won’t be my favourite ZLY’s character, but I felt her sorrow and her joy, and was sorry with each of her tears.

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Gorgeous

Yu Wu Xin is Lu Pao and Su Yin’s daughter. Since her birth day, she thinks her father hates her because she caused her mother’s death. She believes that’s the reason why Lu Pao doesn’t like her and avoids looking at her, and as a consequence, she only lives to fulfill his father plans of avenging Su Yin. My heart broke especially when she talked with Su Yin, telling her she deserves how bad Lu Pao treats her because Su Yin’s death was her fault  ಥ_ಥ 

Lu Pao named her Yu Wu Xin because he wanted her to be heartless like cold jade. He even force her to eat pills which would make her unable to feel any emotion (including love). 

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My poor precious baby

As I said before, one of my favourite moments in the series is the time Yu Er spent in Zhu Moutain. I loved her talk with Miao Yi, saying she’s just she, and in front of Ding Yin she’s Yu Wu Xin and not Lu Pao’s daughter or an evil woman. She doesn’t care about right or wrong and wants to take the risk of getting close to Ding Yin. These words are very significant because they explain why she loves Ding Yin.

Ding Yin is the one with whom she can get rid of all her “duties” and the burden she always carries. By his side, Yu Er can be whoever she wants and is able to forgive her hate (the hate that has been instilled in her since ever). That’s why I felt so heartbreaking the moment when she said something like: If I can’t revenge mum’s death, I don’t deserve caring about relationships“.

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By Ding Yin’s side, Yu Er can be the person she really are, not the one his father or the world want her to be

However, alike what happens to William Chan’s acting, I think ZLY’s was also affected by script’s absurdity. They overfilled the drama with ridiculous conflicts and problems, and the actors couldn’t change their mood and expressions as fast as the events were supposed to occur.

My favourite scene of this couple is the one in which Ding Yin has to choose between saving Yu Er or Qing Yun, and Ding Ying chose to save Qing Yun but die with Yu Er. I utterly loved that scene, because that’s what I think love should be. Also, that scene is surely Ding Yin’s best moment: for once the annoying pendulum makes a choice (a great choice, indeed).

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The pendulum and Yu Er

If unlike me, you fell in love with Ding Yin and Yu Er’s story, you will be really pleased because there’s plenty scenes of them kissing and hugging (also a bed scene). Although I don’t see them as my OTP, their scenes when Yu Er stayed at Zhu Mountain were incredibly sweet and adorable ♥‿♥ And because of that episode I really hope they could have not ruined their love story (◕︵◕)

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Daddy, leave hate and embrace love, pretty please

Many of you may know that Nicky Wu and Liu Shi Shi (a lovely real life couple) produced TLZ: another reason why I wanted to watch the series.

Nicky Wu plays the role of Lu Pao, the leader of the Evil Sect, turned evil because he was betrayed by Zhu Mountain. He craves to obtain the Stone, for reasons why I will explain after. He used to be Shangguan Jing WoZhu’s best disciple of his generation and Zhuge Yu Wo‘s best bro. He deeply loves Su Yin, another outstanding disciple of Zhu. He has demon blood in his veins, and that’s why he wants to obtain the reconnaissance of Zhu’s leader.

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My second name is Revenge

For this purpose, he imprisons Tu Ba (the evil ruler and leader of Xi Yu, the dwelling of demons). Firstly, he achieves the trust of the Evil sect by approaching Tu Mei, Tu Ba’s beloved sister. He even slept with her, although madly loving Su Yin and knowing he’s betraying her. Thanks to Tu Mei, he gets into Tu Ba’s den and is able to trick and lock him up.

The problem is that during his mission, and in order to make Tu Mei trust him, he kills the leader of a good clan (who was already bound to die, so in theory he didn’t kill him). The members of this clan later goes to Zhu Mountain and demands Zhu’s leader to punish Jing Wo. Zhu’s leader tears one of Jing Wo’s arms and sentences him to be imprisoned forever. After this, Zhuge Yu Wo tries to help Jing Wo and makes Zhu’s leader change his mind, but he also confess his love to Su Yin. Knowing this, Zhu’s leader arranges a marriage between them and later dies making Zhuge Yu Wo his heir.

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Shangguan Jing Wo + Hate – Su Yin = Lu Pao

When Jing Wo acknowledges all of this and is brain washed by another of his bros (Gongsun Wu Wo), he feels betrayed by Zhuge Yu Wo. He’s even more angry when Su Yin tells him about the arranged marriage. Jing Wo makes Su Yin steal the evil technique of forbidden martial arts to escape, and with this he recovers his arm and gets out of prison. Later, he tries to steal the Stone (which is in Zhuge Yu Wo’s possession) and run away with Su Yin.

Unfortunately, Gongsun Wu Wo convinces Zhuge Yu Wo that hurting Su Yin is the only way to catch Jing Wo. Zhuge Yu Wo hurts Su Yin deadly, who is already pregnant of Yu Er. Su Yin is said to be dead, and her death is the reason why Jing Wo turned into Lu Pao. (Also, Zhuge Yu Wo lives in regret since this because he can’t forgive himself).

This is odd because we get to see a very alive Su Yin, acting as a doctor and helping people harmed and hurt by Lu Pao. The story of what really happened later is revealed towards the end of the series, in a strange and forceful way (more overfilled stories…). Su Yin sacrifices herself to give birth to Yu Er, and compels Jing Wo to take care of her (something he doesn’t do). Su Yin really dies but Jing Wo uses his learnt technique to “revive” her and maintain her alive in his body. Suddenly, the writers pull the wool over our eyes and reveal that Su Yin and Jing Wo has been sharing the same body since that day… (WTF). 

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Lu Pao watching his memories with Su Yin

Lu Pao needs the Stone because that’s the only way to separate Su Yin from his body (fully revive her). For this purpose he uses everyone (even his daughter Yu Er), no matter what it costs. In the list of people he used and sacrificed, I’m especially sorry for Tu Mei.

Tu Mei absolutely fell in love for Jing Wo when they met, and even after being betrayed the first time (causing his brother and Xi Yu’s imprisonment), he chooses to save the dying Jing Wo (who escaped to Xi Yu after giving baby Yu Er to a family who would raise her) and asks mercy for him in front of Tu Ba. Jing Wo, now Lu Pao, tells Tu Ba that he will release Xi Yu and free him; but in fact, he is only interested in obtaining the Stone. Tu Ba, who never trusted Lu Pao, turns him into some kind of “vampire” (basically, he makes him dependent of human blood: if he doesn’t get doses of blood frequently he will suffer terrible pain).

Tu Mei follows Lu Pao to help him achieve his plans. She knows Lu Pao still loves Su Yin, and is once and again rejected, but her love is persistent. Although Tu Mei is said to be whimsical and selfish, she sacrifices her dignity and her brotherly love just to stay with Lu Pao. She does everything to make Lu Pao fall in love with her, and in the end, when she learnt the real motive why Lu Pao wants that Stone (reviving her one love, Su Yin), she is so hurt that lets Lu Pao kill her by accident. While dying, she confessed that she got pregnant of Lu Pao’s child when they slept together, but she lost that child. Her death was one of the most powerful scenes of the whole series and I ended up loving her character. Hell yeah to JJ Jia (Tu Mei’s actress) for her marvelous and sorrowful acting.

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Tu Mei is the most heartbreaking collateral damage of Lu Pao’s actions

When Tu Ba returns to supervise Lu Pao and verify if he’s being loyal to him, he discovers that Lu Pao is not helping at all with freeing Xi Yu. He decides it’s time to kill Lu Pao and tries to when Tu Mei is absent to avoid it. Lu Pao gets fatally injured and escapes.

Su Yin meets Zhuge Yu Wo, who finds out about all the body-sharing shit. Due to Lu Pao’s wounds, he’s too weak to support Su Yin in his body, and they split. Zhuge Yu Wo helps them escape from Tu Ba’s pursuit, but Su Yin is about to die (she can’t survive too long separated from Lu Pao) and they urgently need the Stone.

In the end, Lu Pao dies after a fatal fight with Tu Ba. This is the only moment in 20 years when Jing Wo and Su Yin are able to see each other (because before, when they split, Su Yin stayed unconscious, at the edge of death). They died happily as you can see in the picture below, in a poignant and beautiful scenario.

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Overall, I really liked Jing Wo and Su Yin’s story, but they didn’t convince me with all the body-sharing thing…

Tu Ba is the first “real” villain of the series, I liked him a thousand times more than Gongsun Wu Wo. He’s a villain because he wants to conquer Zhong Yuan as the ruler of Xi Yu, but he loves Tu Mei and even accepted to give Jing Wo many chances. But he’s not a fool and knows perfectly that even if he doesn’t kill Lu Pao, he mustn’t trust him.

Tu Mei’s foolness and love towards Jing Wo caused him to lose her freedom and Xi Yu’s, and as a result, incredibly mad, he “kills” Tu Mei and Lu Pao’s child. But later we learnt that he wasn’t really able to kill his own cousin, the little Tu Meng, and raises her as his daughter. Tu Meng has his own story, she’s said to had born too weak (with crystal bones) to even walk. Su Yin is the one who, surprisingly, cures her strange illness, and takes Tu Meng as her disciple in medicinal subjects. Since then, Tu Meng serves as a doctor in Xi Yu like Su Yin does in Zhong Yuan.

The same way I lamented Tu Mei’s death, I was also sorry of Tu Ba’s. He died because stupid Gongsun Wu Wo came and betrayed him. Ironically, experience should have already warned him that, as he usually says, Xi Yu’s people shouldn’t trust Zhong Yuan’s (◕︵◕)

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Tu Ba was fine as a villain, he and Tu Mei ended up owning my respect

I don’t want to talk about the real “villain”, Gongsun Wu Wo, because he’s sooooo dumb  (︶︹︺) He desires of becoming Zhu’s leader, and his strategy is based on confronting Zhuge Yu Wo and Lu Pao by creating misunderstandings between them. Deep down, he must know how useless he is, and if he doesn’t use such despicable methods, he wouldn’t be able to achieve anything ╮(─▽─)╭

I loathe weak villains or lame attempts of “villaining”, and this dude is surely a stupid villain to be hated. His “evil” laugh is ridiculous to hell and his look (imitating evil Ding Yin’s look) was so absurd that I couldn’t even stare at the screen. It’s a shame that both resurrected Jing Wo and Ding Yin “died” to kill him… ಠ_ಠ (Yes, because Yu Er uses the Stone to resurrect his father as an ally to kill Gongsun Wu Wo, who got absurdly “powerful” by learning the forbidden technique that evil Ding Yin taught him).

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Meh…

Lu Pao’s Evil Sect is also conformed by two dudes: Jiu Du and Wu Gui. Jiu Du is Lu Pao’s trustworthy man, but he’s later revealed to be loyal to Tu Ba. That was kind of unexpected because Jiu Du’s devotion to Lu Pao was outstanding (I suspected something in that scene when Tu Mei asks Jiu Du if Lu Pao went to Zhu Mountain to save her or there was any other reason. Jiu Du, surprisingly, tells the truth saying that Lu Pao went there, in fact, to recover Su Yin’s love letters).

As he said, Jiu Du betrayed Lu Pao because his life was Tu Ba’s, but immediately after this, he is tormented by remorse and helps Lu Pao to escape. He is truly thankful to Lu Pao, he’s loyal to him and no one, but he could not pay Tu Ba’s debt. Unfortunately, Lu Pao can’t forgive someone who betrayed him and as a consequence, he kills Jiu Du. His death was terrible, and the acting was superb. Jiu Du’s eyes, particulary, and Lu Pao’s, were painfully expressive. In short, a must seen scene.

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Wu Gui Tian Wang

On the other hand, Wu Gui joins the Evil Sect because he fell in love with Yu Er. I adore how their relantionship evolved. At first, I thought Wu Gui only loved Yu Er superficially, but he proved many times that he’s willing to sacrifice his own life to save hers.

I tried to hate Wu Gui when he “slightly” betrayed Yu Er by tricking her, thinking that he was in fact, helping her (that was kinda nonsense btw). I also tried to hate him when he accepted to save Ding Yin if she marries him, but in both cases I couldn’t. He did all those things but, after realizing he was wrong, he still sacrifices himself to save Yu Er. However, there were some odd moments, like how he appeared out of nowhere in Xi Yu ಠ╭╮ಠ

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If they give me one penny each time Yu Er hits or betas Wu Gui, I would became awfully rich in one day

I felt very sorry for him when he forcibly kissed Yu Er and she rejected her, unable to accept him because she couldn’t stop loving “big trunk” Ding Yin.

My favourite Wu Gui moment was how badass he was even when he was horribly tortured by Lu Pao. His speech in that scene is awesome, because despite everything, he has the braveness to put things clear to Lu Pao, talking about how absurd was his obsession with revenge, in the most astonishing way.

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Qing Yun

On Zhu Mountain’s side we have Qing Yun, our second female lead who, obviously, immediately fell for Ding Yin. She’s an orphan found by Miao Yi and raised since then as Zhu’s disciple. Her family revelation arc was kinda boring, so I won’t go into details. I think they included this arc just because they needed Qing Yun to be genetically cursed… You may be surprised of how absurd (and self-evident) her curse is.

Basically, if Qing Yun doesn’t have sex with a person she loves, she would die horribly before reaching 20 years old (WTF) ಠ_ಠ Right after Ding Yin and Yu Er almost got married, her illness got worse and guess what… Ding Yin (who was mad at Yu Er in that moment, how impressive…) decides to marry her in order to save her life ●︿● More ridiculous conflicts to fill the plot.

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Pendulum Ding Yin “gives Qing Yun a try”

After acknowledging that Yu Er is Lu Pao’s daughter, Ding Yin decides to get over her. He lives in denial and after many events that pressured him to start a relationship with Qing Yun, he gives her “a try”. Before this I pretty liked Qing Yun’s character, she was sincere and  cutely simple-minded; but after Ding Yin gave hope to her by “trying to love her” (and so forgetting Yu Er), she became awfully annoying.

I hated her every time Ding Yin was in danger and she just stayed there, staring and doing nothing. It’s always Yu Er who comes to save Ding Yin, risking everything including his own life. The most hateful part is how after Yu Er has solved the problems, she appears suddenly by Ding Yin’s side and acts like she cares deeply… ಠ_ಠ I couldn’t understand how Qing Yun turned so despicable…

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Precious sweetheart

As for Zu’s majors, I specially love Miao Yi‘s character. He’s funny, good-natured and loyal. His tenderness towards Xiao Ru and his disciples is heart-warming. He is willing to sacrifice in order to help others and has a wise sense of justice. I adore how his love is pure and simple, and how he treats everything fairly. He allowed Yu Er to stay in the Mount, and even after the disaster she caused (forced by the disciples who went to attack her), he still wants to help her by asking Xiao Ru to hide her parents’ missives. Someone may think he is like Zhuge Yu Wo, but even ‘though they both are sentimental and compassionate, Miao Yi has a better judgement.

Major Xiao Ru is Miao Yi’s wife, and the responsible of Zu’s female disciples. Alike my dorky sweetie Miao Yi, she’s gentle and fair. Their love story is heart-warming and simple, something you would thank after all the complicated bullshit that happens in the show.

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Major Bai Cao Xian Ren

Zu’s last major is Bai Cao Xian Ren, a renowned doctor with a strange personality. He seems grumpy and insensitive, but deep down he’s sweet and caring.

There’s (of course) another love triangle in the series. I’m not very interested in the people involved in this one, but I will shortly talk about it because it will be decisive in the following season 2.

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Zi Ying is Zhuge Yu Wo’s whimsical and spoiled daughter

Zhuge Yu Wo has a daughter (who’s the mother?) called Zhuge Zi Ying, a spoiled and foolish girl who loves Dan Chen Zi, Zhu’s main disciple. She wants Dan Chen Zi to become the next Zhu leader, at any cost; and Dan Chen Zi wants to satisfy her cravings, also at any cost. Maybe I sympathize with them in a few scenes, but most of the time they were very annoying.

The problem is that Zhang Xian Bing, Xiao Zhang, Ding Yin’s good bro, fell for Zi Ying in the so-called love at first sight. Zi Ying is not slightly interested in Xiao Zhang, but he’s willing to do whatever to conquer her heart. When Zi Ying is fatally poisoned and the unique cure is Xiao Zhang’s blood (common drama cliché), he decides to sacrifice himself and I really thought he was dying in that scene but… Abruptly, they skipped the scene and the next thing we know is that Zi Ying is perfectly recovered and Xiao Zhang is alive (weird drama cutting scenes). Everyone acts like nothing has happened… (WTF).

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Xiao Zhang

Xiao Zhang is so in love with Zi Ying that he even drugged her, thinking this drug will make her love him for half a day. Nevertheless, the real effect of this drug is causing hallucinations to its victim, making it see the other person as his lover (Dan Chen Zi in Zi Ying’s case). Basically, Xiao Zhang believes Zi Ying has fallen for him; but reality is that Zi Ying treats him nicely thinking he’s Dan Chen Zi.

Xiao Zhang is so happy of being loved by Zi Ying that ends up sleeping with her ◔_◔ The next morning, when Zi Ying awakes, she doesn’t remember anything but knows that something terrible has happened (she’s not a virgin anymore). After realizing it’s Xiao Zhang’s fault, she stabbs him and leaves him in a forest full of tigers. Then, Xiao Zhang is said to be dead.

I will admit how disappointed I was with Xiao Zhang in this arc. I really thought he was proving himself by acting honourably, rejecting the drug and conquering Zi Ying with his sincerity.

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Xiao Zhang’s actor (Ye Zu Xin) is a good friend of Nicky Wu (and Liu Shi Shi) since BBJX, and so they usually work together :’)

Dan Chen Zi is devastated because he suspects his girl is no longer a virgin, although Zi Ying keeps denying everything. When Zi Ying knows she’s pregnant, she tries to seduce Dan Chen Zi to have sex with her (so everyone will believe the child is his), but Dan Chen Zi rejects her. These things are some of the reasons why I detest Dan Chen Zi and Zi Ying. The first one lives in denial, not willing to believe what’s obvious (that something happened between Xiao Zhang and Zi Ying, against her will). However, he unconsciously repudiates her (because somehow it’s Zi Ying’s fault that Xiao Zhang drugged her and, basically, rapped her) (╯◕_◕)╯ On the other hand, Zi Ying tries to cover everything at any cost (among other things, trying to force Dan Chen Zi to marry her by putting pressure through his daddy, Zhuge Yu Wo).

Xiao Zhang’s child dies before being born, protecting Zi Ying. It’s in this moment when Dan Chen Zi acknowledges she was pregnant, understanding why she tried to seduce her that night. He’s very angry but covers everything, not denying that the child isn’t his.

Things don’t happen as Zi Ying wants, and Dan Chen Zi doesn’t marry her, even after his father’s death. Evil Ding Yin uses all of this to manipulate Zi Ying, making her think it was Dan Chen Zi who murdered Zhuge Yu Wo. Finally, Dan Chen Zi dies because of Evil Ding Yin and Gongsun Wu Wo, helped by Zi Ying. With his final breath, Dan Chen Zi apologizes to Zi Ying, saying how much he loves her (which doesn’t feel convincing because of all the things I stated before).

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Zhuge Yu Wo makes Dan Chen Zi promise him that he would marry Zi Ying and take care of her after his death

Later, it’s revealed that Xiao Zhang is still alive (no one is really dead in this infernal show). He’s now the leader of a group of (good-natured) mountain thieves. When Xiao Zhang reencounters with Zi Ying, she’s horribly sorry and depressed due to Dan Chen Zi’s death. Gongsun Wu Wo captures Xiao Zhang and drives him crazy by inserting a piece of the Stone in his body. Xiao Zhang, possessed by the Stone’s power, ends up killing Zi Ying.

In series finale, after resurrected Lu Pao and Ding Yin had killed Gongsun Wu Wo, it’s announced that Xiao Zhang still has that piece of the Stone in his organism (making him the most powerful person alive, now that resurrected Lu Pao and Ding Yin are imprisoned). He’s furious and hurt by Zi Ying’s death, and surely blames everyone. So, season 2 will very likely focus on his revenge, turning into the next big bad guy.


Conclusion:

I’ve spent an undeserved amount of time reviewing this show, so writing a conclusion feels kinda liberating. I would only recommend TLZ to an extremely patient fan of ZLY, William Chan or Nicky Wu. Most of the time, it was really difficult to keep watching the series. As I’ve said before, the script creates obsessively problems and conflicts in order to extend the lenght of the show (remember there’s a total of 56 episodes). Thus, most of the arcs and stories are a bunch of nonsense which ruined the whole series. The writers should have remembered “it is quality rather than quantity that matters“.

Still, there are some good scenes and positive elements that shouldn’t be ignored. In my opinion, the acting was good, especially in the case of ZLY, Nicky Wu and JJ Jia. There are some beautiful scenes as the time Yu Er spent with Ding Yin in Zu Mountain, and some epic moments like Ding Yin choosing to save Qing Yun and dying with Yu Er. The effort they made with the OST is also remarkable.

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However, I think I won’t watch season 2. I’m totally sure that Ye Zu Xin will make a better villain than Gongsun Wu Wo’s actor (everyone could), but I won’t be able (and don’t want) to bear more deficient scripting.

The show could have been awesome and far more better if they hadn’t use 56 episodes, with a lot of stuffing, for a story that could have been carried out in 30. A pity, indeed.

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Others:

Appearance of the cast in program Happy Camp: The main cast (Nicky Wu, Zanilia Zhao and William Chan) were incredibly adorable alongside the promoters of the game Clash of Clans, 部落冲突 (JJ Lin, Gao Yuan Yuan and Jimmy Lin).

In the beginning of this second Happy Camp program, the main cast (Nicky Wu, Zanilia Zhao and William Chan) sweetly takes part in different games.


  • Plot: 12/20
  • Cast: 17/20
  • OST: 10/10
  • Scenography: 8/10
  • Costume: 9/10
  • Overall: 8/10

THE JOURNEY OF FLOWER (2015) Review – Love tears us apart

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Titles: 花千骨 (Hua Qian Gu) / The Journey of Flower

Cast:

  • Zhao Li Ying as Hua Qian Gu
  • Wallace Huo as Bai Zihua and Mo Bing
  • Zhang Dan Feng as Dongfang Yuqing
  • Ma Ke as Sha Qianmo
  • Li Chun as Ni Mantian
  • An Yue Xi as Tang Bao
  • Jiang Xin as Xia Zixun
  • Xu Hai Qiao as Meng Xuanlang
  • Bao Tian Qi as Qing Shui
  • Jiang Yang as Shuo Feng
  • Dong Chun Hui as Luo Shiyi
  • Jiang Yi Ming as Mo Yan / Shi Zun
  • Miao Chi as Sheng Xiaomo / Ru Zun
  • Ruan Wei Jing as Shan Chunqiu
  • Gong Zheng Nan as Zhu Ran
  • Gao Hai as Yun Yin
  • Gao Jiang as Yun Yi
  • Yang Shuo as Tan Fan
  • Zeng Hong Chang as Wu Gou
  • Qian Yong Chen as Dong Hua
  • Zheng Ye Cheng as Nan Xianyue
  • Lu Zi Yi as You Ruo
  • Li Qian as Liu Xia

Directed by: Lin Yufen, Danny Gao, Liang Shengquan

Written by: Fresh Guoguo and Rao Jun

Based on: The fictional novel Hua Qiangu by Fresh Guoguo


Plot (from Wiki):

Hua Qiangu is an unlucky orphan who’s looking for a chance to learn magic and martial arts to survive after her parents died. Appreciating her hard working nature and kind heart, and predicting her tragic destiny, she enters Chang Liu, an immortal sect, to seek peace and solutions. Bai Zihua, the sect leader of Chang Liu, takes her as his only disciple. Qian Gu falls in love with her teacher but doesn’t reveal her true feelings until the end. Eventually, the truth has been revealed that she was born as Nü Wa’s descendant and has access to godly power. She summoned the Demon God to save her master and the God transferred all his power into her body afterwards, therefore, making her the new ruler of the demons. Although Zihua tries to protect her and change her fate, Qiangu is constantly tortured by the machinations of those who wish to see her dead.

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Review:

JoF triumphed in 2015 as the most popular chinese TV series. Is its reputation well-deserved? My answer is possibly yes. I feel pretty conflicted about this show: it is good but I truly believe it would have been much better. Before watching the show I made some research, aknowledging it’s based on a novel of the same name.

I loved (and still love) the story: sorrowful, tragic and poignant. However, JoF is a victim, as many other fabulous TV series, of that terrible and incomprehensible habit of producers to cut out scenes in its released version. As a consequence of this kind of shitty decisions, some arcs feel rushed and there are parts which don’t make sense or can’t be understood fully. A pitty, because it’s an incredible story. I just can’t understand why producers decide to cut out scenes so randomly or believe some (very, very, very) relevant parts of the story can be dispensable… And even more in this case, because it’s already a 50 episodes drama (!), and so far I don’t fucking mind watching 5 episodes more… Just give me a whole worthy story that fulfills my fangirl’s expectations! ಠ▃ಠ

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Sunshine

First, we have cutie pie ZLY portraying adorable Hua Qian Gu. I think she’s the best choice for this role, she did a great job depicting both Hua Qian Gu and Demon God. ZLY fixs perfectly in both roles, and I’d say that I loved even more her Demon God version (see picture below). Not only because she’s just gorgeous (and badass) in that look, but also because it’s something that we aren’t used to see in her roles.

Some TV series always have a female lead whose innocence and kindness became unbearable, but Xiao Gu’s character, although being both innocent and kind, isn’t tiresome or dumb. Maybe I’m biased, but that’s what I felt. Her love to everyone is tender and sweet, and her performance of adorably confused and displeased Xiao Gu (like that scene where she used Bai Zihua’s precious flowers to make delicacies for him) is lovely to hell. I loved every interaction of ZLY’s character with others.

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Absolutely gorgeous, thanks to whoever edited this so amazingly

If you think that this blogger is an enormous fan of ZLY or something, you may not be wrong; but my adoration to her is nothing compared to my devotion to Wallace Huo. This may not be my favourite character of Wallace’s work, but he surely portrayed accurately Bai Zihua. People who have read the novel say that Bai Zihua and Hua Qiangu’s love is not depicted fairly in the show, but I believe it’s more a drawback of script’s limitations and the on-screen time they had that anything else.

Bai Zihua seems cold and unreachable (like a god, which is what he’s supposed to seem to be like), but his eyes are different when it’s related to Xiao Gu. Wallace made a great job in this sense, because I could really feel his love towards her (although his expression didn’t change practically during the whole series). This, the fact that his expression didn’t change practically during the whole series (excluding some climax moments), it’s also remarkable.

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Helpless Wallace Huo fangirling

There’s an extended discussion online about who loved who more. Also, a great number of people question if Bai Zihua really loves Xiao Gu considering the way he treats her. My opinion is that he surely loves her (the scenes of Xiao Gu’s punishment, Bai Zihua’s forearm mark and Xiao Gu’s death are as powerful as stunning) but he deeply believes that he shouldn’t be loving her, but the fact is that he can’t stop loving her. That’s too complicated for a semi-god who has been centuries overcoming human emotions and trying to reach divine inmortality. How the hell do you suppose he can react?! Surely not in an ordinary way.

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*cries*

If you still doubt about Bai Zihua’s love towards Xiao Gu just pay attention to his eyes while he’s with her or thinking about her. The scene in the picture above, where he holds Xiao Gu’s drawings while he remembers her is heartbreaking. I think he doesn’t even understand what’s happening in his little inner-universe, the infinite knowledge of his divine condition doesn’t help at all when it’s concerned to Xiao Gu. Also, he does a lot of stuff that proves that he treats Xiao Gu differently, his attitude towards her is radically distinct in comparison with others, and at the end, I believe he only wanted to protect her but he couldn’t overcome his duty-sense or the feeling that loving and caring about her is wrong. He did all that he could and knew in order to let Xiao Gu be safe (and he knows and is sorry it isn’t enough).

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Yeah, baby, we all believe you don’t love her…

I love the tender moments between Xiao Gu and Bai Zihua after (and before, in fact) he accepts her as his only disciple; but I love even more the scenes after Xiao Gu has turned into the Demon God. The precursor of this is Chang Liu’s punishment to Xiao Gu, which is a must-seen scene due to its beauty and energy.

If Bai Zihua’s intentions of keeping Xiao Gu safe weren’t clear before it gets evident here, when he bears the rest of her punishment himself. I know some people may say that it’s cruel he didn’t avoid the whole punishment since the beginning, or someone may think he could just take Xiao Gu and leave that doomed placed, but once again, Bai Zihua’s little inner-unniverse is far more complicated than that. He can’t just skip his duties as clan’s leader and world’s protector or his divine purposes, he loves Xiao Gu and the only way he knows to protect her is this. If he doesn’t let them punish or publicly reprehend her, the other clans won’t be satisfied and eventually that would be worse for Xiao Gu. He had to let that happen but he couldn’t see Xiao Gu suffering that much, knowing that surely she would die or something worse, and he takes the rest of the punishment, stating that in fact it’s his fault as her instructor so it’s fair that he gets punished instead. Basically, if we were suffering for Xiao Gu, be sure that Bai Zihua was suffering even more.

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The blogger was screaming the whole time…

Other great scenes are the ones after this event. Bai Zihua fucks off annoying Shi Zun’s demands of accepting another disciple in a very intelligent way, admitting You Ruo as Hua Qian Gu’s disciple instead (which makes You Ruo his indirect disciple). That scene made me really happy, because it got obvious, more than ever, how much he loves and respects his relation with Xiao Gu. He couldn’t break his promise: Xiao Gu will always be his unique disciple.

However, Xiao Gu, who has hit rock bottom, doesn’t know all the details and she’s literally heartbroken aknowledging that Bai Zihua admitted another person as his disciple (and so breaking the promise he made to her). I sobbed so much seeing her grief ಥ ̯ ಥ Also, the scenes of Xiao Gu secretly returning back to Chang Liu and Bai Zihua taking care of the flowers that Xiao Gu used to raise are incredibly significant about their great love.

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My poor little baby

Well, as I said, the interactions between these two are even better after Xiao Gu turned into the Demon God, because I think they both can’t barely hang on any more. ZLY and Wallace’s depiction of their characters’ suffering is absolutely genuine.

When Bai Zihua recovers, now captured by Qi Sha (the “evil” clan), and Demon God Xiao Gu is sleeping near him, he calls her gently by her nickname “Xiao Gu”. I cried watching Xiao Gu waking up at his call, clearly affected because he was calling her in that way, and then acted like she didn’t care at all ಥ ̯ ಥ I adore ZLY’s acting pretending to be heartless and cruel, and I love her rage because everyone she loves had died, she’s so hurt that it will totally tear you apart. She’s genuinely furious when Bai Zihua tries to convince her to “change”, to “return to the good path”, because she has lost everything and still Bai Zihua only cares about acting properly and being good. Oh, my poor baby. And even ‘though, she tells Bai Zihua to leave, because deep inside she knows that she won’t hurt him anyway. However, Bai Zihua agrees to stay as her servant in exchange of liberating Shi Zun.

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I can’t believe how beautiful she is omg (her look as Demon God reminds me of Chen Qiao En’s look as Dongfang Bubai with the red dress in Xiao Ao Jiang Hu)

I cried even more when Bai Zihua said that everything was his fault and Xiao Gu is horribly affected, asking him why he feels guilty and Bai Zihua answers that his greatest fault was not being able to protect her. Xiao Gu is overwhelmed by their conception of good and wrong, she can’t understand why innocent kind people who loved her had to die, and why the person she loves the most (Bai Zihua) still defenses the people who are hurting her so much.

And okay, I shouted really loud when Xiao Gu talks with You Ruo and aknowledges Bai Zihua suffered the rest of the punishment for her. The whole scene of Xiao Gu ripping off Bai Zihua’s clothes, noticing the scars and embracing him is breathtaking; but it gets even more astonishing later, when Bai Zihua’s love is proved by the marks of the water that only hurts people who love someone. Bai Zihua is so affected because of this, so hopeless and practically ashamed… He can’t believe that he actually loves Xiao Gu, even ‘though he shouldn’t. His inner-universe gets revealed with those marks and that’s too much to bear for him. Xiao Gu is even more affected, hurt because loving her is something that despicable in Bai Zihua’s opinion. Her confusion realizing he actually returns her love and then her genuine sorrow watching Bai Zihua rejecting those feelings (by painfully tearing off his own forearm’s skin) made me feel miserable. As Bai Zihua said, it doesn’t matter if he actually loves her or not, because in any case, they can’t and won’t be together. So heartbreaking.

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The heart I didn’t know to have is breaking so much

The finale is superb, when Xiao Gu dies in Bai Zihua’s arms because of him, and the illusion she created about innocent people being killed by her disappears. What a wonderful scene. I almost hated Bai Zihua here because I could empathize with practically everything he did (because I assume he did it all in order to protect her), but seriously, I couldn’t stand the fact that he didn’t believe Xiao Gu, that he didn’t know that she wouldn’t hurt anyone if it’s not ultimately needed. She turned into the Demon God and suffered so much because of him and he still couldn’t drop his “what’s wrong and what’s correct”-baggage, ugh.

Bai Zihua should have known her better. And maybe deep inside he actually believed Xiao Gu and knew she wouldn’t hurt anyone, even in her Demon God form; but reality is that he couldn’t overcome his duty-sense of doing what’s right for the world. Bai Zihua doesn’t live for himself or for Xiao Gu, he lives for the world and its safety (he has been living with this purpose for centuries and it’s difficult, almost impossible, to change something like that). He can risk everything, even his own life or Xiao Gu’s life (which is more important than himself actually), but he can’t risk innocent people’s lives or world’s safety… AND THAT’S SO HEARTBREAKING ಥ ̯ ಥ

 

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Such a powerful scene

The best part comes when Xiao Gu blames and curses him. Bai Zihua, horrified because everything was an illusion and he had wrongly killed Xiao Gu, wants to commit suicide but Xiao Gu impedes him. She blames him, stating that he doesn’t have that right (and oh shit, that was so fucking awesome, I’m totally in love with the whole scene), and makes him immortal. On one hand, I think Xiao Gu is truly hurt because he fell into her trap (proving the fact that ultimately he would put the world’s safety before hers), but also I want to feel  she’s kinda “protecting” him. I don’t want, I refuse to believe Xiao Gu died horribly hating him, the man she loves so greatly, without any trace of affection ಥ ̯ ಥ

It’s after this scene where the producers made the biggest mistake ever. In the novel, Bai Zihua goes crazy after Xiao Gu’s death, like very crazy; he tries to resurrect Xiao Gu, but her soul is so scattered and wrecked that he can only recover a Xiao Gu with the mental capacity of a 3-4 years old child. But guess what, these events, which in my opinion are some of the most interesting parts of the story, aren’t included in the series (maybe because stupid producers thought it’s dispensable). Instead, we’re directly skipped to many years later, when Xiao Gu and Bai Zihua now live together happily (and Ru Zun comes to visit them and mentions briefly how crazy Bai Zihua went after her death).

I felt fooled, disappointed and almost betrayed because of this. I faithfully watched 50 episodes and I wasn’t getting the ending I wanted. I know I’d have suffered incredibly with those crazy-Bai Zihua’s scenes, but I can’t avoid the feeling that the story is not complete without that. And even so, they managed to make their love story so great and tragic that I’ve utterly fallen for them. So congratulations, I suppose.

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Wallace Huo and Zanilia Zhao’s acting are superb

As for the wonderful actors who portrayed the rest of the characters, I must say that they have became well-deservedly popular. Zhang Dan Feng plays the role of Dongfang Yuqing, a mysterious and cunning man who grow up hating Bai Zihua and his group of deities because they killed his father. He wants to revenge his father’s death and so he approached Xiao Gu initially, knowing that she could bring disaster to Bai Zihua. At the beginning of the story, Dongfang discovers Xiao Gu taking a bath in a river and when she found out, he adorably pursues her, stating that he must take the responsibility of seeing her nude body and marry her. These scenes were golden and it’s impossible not to adore Dongfang. In this way, he achieves Xiao Gu’s trust and can help her become a Chang Liu’s disciple, something that would make him fulfill his thirst of revenge. However, he fell for her and died at the end in order to protect her. He sweetly nicknames her as “Gu Tou” (literally translated as “bone”).

He has another identity, “Yi Xiu Jun”, a popular figure whose face no one has ever seen because he’s always wearing a mask. In this identity, he answers to people’s question in exchange of favours and power. Dongfang uses this identity also to ask Xiao Gu to prepare a lunch for him, and that scene is beautiful and heartbreaking. Throughout the series, you can really feel Dongfang’s love for Xiao Gu, and how in the end he gave up everything to protect and free her from Manhuang (the prison where Xiao Gu was banished by Shi Zun and Ni Mantian). I was so sad when he died and told her to love herself, even if the whole world didn’t love her and wanted her to be dead ಥ ̯ ಥ

Then, do I ship Xiao Gu with Dongfang? Possibly yes. If Xiao Gu would have been able to love Dongfang everything won’t be this tragic, but reality doesn’t care about happy or unhappy endings. The fact is that Xiao Gu wouldn’t have been able to love Dongfang in that way, and that getting over Bai Zihua wasn’t even an option. I felt sorry for Dongfang, really sorry.

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Hell yeah to Zhang Dan Feng’s Dongfang Yuqing

Dongfang is not the only one who sees Xiao Gu as a love interest, there’s also Meng Xuanlang, Shu realm’s heir and later its emperor. Meng Xuanlang gets into Chang Liu as a disciple too and fell for Xiao Gu while practising martial arts. At the same time, Xiao Gu’s best friend and also disciple of Chang Liu, Qingshui, fell for Meng Xuanlang. Unfortunately, Xuanlang is not slightly interested in Qingshui.

Time after, Xuanlang’s father dies and he returns to palace to become the new emperor. There’s a riot leaded by his brother, who wants to take over the emperor position, and Qingshui goes to help him. I’m really confused about this story arc because the version of the series I watched (which was supposely uncutted) brusquely skip all those scenes 😀 Later, when these events were mentioned by the characters I was so lost… But I correctly figured out that producers believe their scenes were dispensable. Surely due to this, everything related to Xuanlang and Qingshui feels more or less like nonsense to me (also I neither liked both of them since the beginning, so…). I feel indifferent to these two, which is good because their story ends up in bad terms too.

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The producers did a lot of weird things (cutting out scenes and so) to Meng Xuanlang and Qingshui’s story…

Another couple are Luo Shiyi and Tang Bao. The first one is Shi Zun’s most trusted disciple and Tang Bao was a ginx worm that turned into human, attached to Xiao Gu and Dongfang, who she refers tenderly as “mummy” and “daddy”. I don’t really like Tang Bao, she’s cute and lovely with Xiao Gu and Dongfang, but her voice is kinda annoying. Her relationship with Luo Shiyi is cute as well, and I feel sad for them because they both died not being able to stay together.

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I somehow see Tang Bao as Dongfang and Gu Tou’s relationship witness

As for most of the people, Ma Ke was an unknown actor to me before watching JoF. I think he did an awesome job portraying Sha Qianmo, the leader of the Qi Sha clan. I love his character and his interaction with ZLY’s. Although supposed to be a villain, Sha Qianmo is a good guy. His subordinate, Shan Chunqiu (a dude with terrible make-up), wants Qi Sha’s clan to conquer the world by getting the treasures of the “good” clans, which will grant them an inmense power. For this reason, Shan Chunqiu is often seen fighting against Chang Liu and the other clans, but each time Sha Qianmo comes and stops him. Sha Qianmo doesn’t want to get involved in those fights because he lost his beloved sister (Liu Xia) due to his ambition and his desire to obtain the treasures. He still blames himself because of this and can’t get over his grief.

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Ma Ke does a great job performing Sha Qianmo’s role

Then, Sha Qianmo meets Xiao Gu, he’s extremely pleased when she says that “she” is beautiful and calls her “big sister” (just like Liu Xia used to do). Xiao Gu’s adoration and cuteness warms Sha Qianmo’s heart, making him decide to protect her. Xiao Gu refers to her as Sha Jie Jie (“big sister Sha”) and Sha Qianmo lovely calls her Xiao Bu Dian (literally “little spot”). I saw people on the Internet shipping them, but I don’t see their relation in that way. I am of the opinion that Sha Jie Jie loves Xiao Gu as her little sister, just the way he loved Liu Xia (although I don’t think he was replacing Liu Xia or something alike). His love to Xiao Gu is inmense and his desire to protect her makes me adore him even more.

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He cares genuinely for his Xiao Bu Dian

Sha Jie Jie states one of the favourite quotes of the fans (and myself) when he angrily tells Bai Zihua: “Bai Zihua, if you dare to hurt her for your sect, I will slaughter your entire sect. If you harm her for the world, I will massacre the people of the world!” – so powerful, omg. This is just one prove of how he genuinely cares for Xiao Gu, he’s ready and willing to leave everything in order to protect her (something that Dongfang also did and that Bai Zihua couldn’t).

Another fact about Sha Qianmo is that he’s respectable. He acts honestly and fairly. You’d say that’s because he’s affected by the lost of her sister, but Sha Qianmo is pretty level-headed and reasonable. One example is when beaten by Bai Zihua in their duel, he accepted his defeat, although he was clearly unhappy about it. Shan Chunqiu tried to complain and cheat somehow, but Sha Qianmo angrily impedes him. He’s fair and cares deeply about the people he loves, and that makes him awesome.

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So much swag, omg

Said that, the real “villains” in this show are Shi Zun and the annoying Ni Mantian. In both cases, the actors managed perfectly to make me hate them, so good job dudes. With regard to Shi Zun, maybe all he did was for what he believed to be the best for Bai Zihua and Chang Liu, but the fact is that he’s a shitty person.

Then, Ni Mantian is the typical girl trying to live up to the expectations of his family. I think she wouldn’t be that hateful if she didn’t have such a despicable father. She loves Shuo Feng but is annoyed because Shuo Feng is fair and doesn’t allow her hurting Xiao Gu, knowing she does everything due to jealousy. Shuo Feng tries to convince her to drop her envy and overcome the hate, but Ni Mantian can’t do that. This couple ends up dying as well. Sad because I really think Shuo Feng could have changed Ni Mantian in a good way.

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Good job making me hate you, girl (although I ended up feeling pity for her)

On the other hand, we’ve got Bai Zihua’s “gang”: Tan Fan, Wu Gou, Dong Hua and Xia Zixun (Jiang Xin’s role here). Wu Gou‘s arc was interesting and I enjoyed watching it, the actor who plays his role (Zheng Ye Cheng) depicted very well how disturbed he was and I felt kinda sad for him in the end. Dong Hua‘s character appears too briefly to make me feel attached to him, but he was redeeming for having killed Dongfang’s father so rest in peace. Tan Fan‘s death was also bitter but very predictable, his love towards Zixun was obviously going to kill him. The saddest part in fact was Bai Zihua realizing he was now alone, that all his gang died and he’s the last one left.

Finally, I must say I admire Jiang Xin’s acting so I was expecting something great about her character here. Zixun‘s character itself isn’t incredibly complex or awesome, but Jiang Xin has incredible acting skills. I felt pity because somehow her characters never get happy endings ಥ ̯ ಥ Neither Zixun.

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The roles Jiang Xin plays never get happy endings…

Conclusion:

Hence, would I recommend The Journey of Flower? Yes. The acting from almost everyone is superb, being only accurate in the worst of the cases. Moreover, the scenography is beautiful and dreamy, accompanied by precious melodies. The costumes are appropiate as well, and as I said before, I adore ZLY’s look as the Demon God. However, it was kinda excessive in some cases, being Shan Chunqiu and his weird eyebrows the best example.

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A very long review, indeed

Side note:

If you want to fangirl even more because of JoF’s cast, you have two awesome episodes of Happy Camp where they appear.

In these two videos the guests are: Wallace Huo, Zanilia Zhao, Zhang Dan Feng, Jiang Xin, Ma Ke and Li Chun.

In this one they compete in different games with series Sound in the Clouds and movie Goodbye Mr Lose’s cast, and the guests are: Zhang Dan Feng and Xu Hai Qiao.


  • Plot: 19*/20
  • Cast: 20/20
  • OST: 10/10
  • Scenography: 10/10
  • Costume: 9.5/10
  • Overall: 9.8/10

*If only they hadn’t cut out scenes for the TV version, my ratting on the plot would have been 20. As I said, it’s an awesome story, but cutting out scenes makes some parts rushed and don’t make sense for someone who doesn’t know the whole storyline. Besides, I can’t forgive them for getting rid of crazy-Bai Zihua’s arc.


Update (12th of June): Okay, I found these GOLDEN cut scenes (WHY WOULD SOMEONE REMOVE THIS) and could not share them with all of you. The first ones were awesome, but the final one (when Xiao Gu gets drunk and Bai Zihua ends up kissing her) is just superb.  Your fangirling heart may not be able to bear it, but it will be truly worth it.

THE CLASSIC OF MOUNTAINS AND SEAS (2016) Review – Nothing new under the sun

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Titles: 山海经之赤影传说 (Shan Hai Jing Zhi Chi Ying Chuan Shuo) / The Classic of Mountains and Seas

Cast:

  • 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.

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It’s rumoured that it was in this drama where Zhang Han and Gu Li Na Zha felt in love and became a real life couple

Review:

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 serie (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.

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(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”.

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I couldn’t stop looking at her ears in this drama, like… Am I the only one who think they seem weird? She’s pretty so I don’t understand the need of so much make-up, which made her ears look in a different (and very obvious) color than her face…

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.

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Chi Yu: wants to overcome his “fate” and become the person he wants to be

It may not be Zhang Han’s best role (and it kinda reminds me of his role as Leng Xue at The Four, serie 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 (?).

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That scene was cute

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).

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EVIL EYELINER

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.

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Ugh…

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.

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You won’t find any interesting villain in TCMS

 

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…

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The tantrum-girl

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. 

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Another attempt of villain…

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”).

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I like Fu Er’s make-up and costume in this scene (the hair ornament is awesome)

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).

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His character is so boring that even Kenny Kwan is bored

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

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Wu Lei portraying Shi Pei Pei (he’s even more done than me)

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.

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Hong Ling

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…).

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I love this pic because in that scene everyone was like “oh, what should we do”, “we are so desesperated”, “everything is terrible”, “bla bla bla”… and Su Shui stays calmly on their side not giving any fuck

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.

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Life savior of this drama

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…

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Hong Tai and Chi Yu’s childhood friend’s actors being playful and adorable

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

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The number of “relevant” characters of TCMS is “unsuistainable”, making all of them have a poor character development and following too much clichés

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.

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Don’t worry, it has an happy ending

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.

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Happy endings for everyone

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✧

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Conclusion:

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