LEGEND OF THE DRAGON PEARL (2017) Review – Give back my time

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Titles: 龙珠传奇之无间道 / 龙珠传奇 (Long Zhu Chuan Qi) / Legend of the Dragon Pearl: The Indistinguishable Road


Cast:

  • Yang Zi as Zhu Yi Huan / Li Yi Huan
  • Qin Jun Jie as Kangxi
  • Mao Zi Jun as Zhu Ci Xuan/Li Jian Qing
  • (Jennifer) Shu Chang as Xue Qing Cheng / Shu Wan Xin
  • Zhang Wei Na as Empress
  • Si Qin Gao Wa as Empress Dowager
  • Han Cheng Yu as Ye Mo Sheng
  • He Zhong Hua as Li Ding Guo / Li De Fu
  • Sun Wei as Fan Qian Ying
  • Liu Xue Yi as Wu Ying Qi
  • Liu Li Wei as Wu San Gui
  • Lu Xing Yu as Suo E Tu
  • Xie Ning as Liu De Zhao
  • Xiao Rong Sheng as Ao Bai
  • Liu Xi Ming as Fan Li
  • Xiu Qing as Ye Ming Zhang
  • Tong Tong as Tang Yi Shou
  • Jiang Hong as Xue Yi Ju Shi
  • Dai Zai Xiang as Meng Xiang He
  • Wang Yi Chan as Qin’s consort

Directed by: Zhu Shao Jie and Zhou Yuan Zhou

Written by: Li Ya Ling


Plot (from Wiki):

The story of the ill-fated romance between Zhu Yi Huan, the last princess of the Ming Dynasty and Kangxi, the young emperor of the Qing Dynasty.

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Review:

Legend of the Dragon Pearl (LDP) is the first series featuring Yang Zi and Qin Jun Jie as a couple. Although I really like Yang Zi and both Qin Jun Jie and Mao Zi Jun won my heart in Singing All Along, I was adamant about not watching LDP at first. My idea of Kang Xi Emperor came into conflict with the one shown by the trailer. Also, the storyline didn’t seem appealing at all. But even ‘though I couldn’t find any reason to watch this show, I somehow gave it a try.

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Qin Jun Jie and Yang Zi announced their relationship as a couple a few months before LDP was released

(SPOILERS) Legend of the Dragon Pearl (LDP) tells the love story between Emperor Kang Xi and Zhu Yi Huan. The story is extended throughout 90 episodes. At first it was okay because the episodes were 30 to 40 minutes long, but you soon realize that even little doses of nonsense are equally frustrating.

I think this is Qin Jun Jie’s very first role as the male lead. Portraying the well-known Emperor Kang Xi (in his youth) must have been a great challenge. I’m happy that he’s getting big roles, but after watching LDP you can only ask yourself if having a bad role is better than not having any main role at all.

Although I really adore Qin Jun Jie, most of the time his baby face didn’t fit with his role. Being fair, the Emperor Kang Xi we are used to see on screen is usually portrayed in his middle-advanced age. Seeing a young (teenage) Kang Xi, just starting his reign as one of the most celebrated emperors in chinese history, feels quite odd.

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Baby faced Qin Jun Jie

Kang Xi’s parents died when he was very young, forcing him to ascend to throne at early age. As a result, the governing’s duties fell to a regent, Ao Bai (Xiao Rong Sheng). The Empress Dowager, his grandmother, also did part of the work as a regent. He was raised by his grandmother, and therefore they have a strong bond.

Ao Bai’s government became increasingly tyrannical, spying on every movement of Kang Xi and plotting in order to avoid him recover the power. As Kang Xi grew older, he developed his own ideas, usually conflicting with Ao Bai’s methods. It was just a matter of time that he decided to get rid off Ao Bai. Of course, Ao Bai did the same, although he tried at first not really hurting him.

In addition to Ao Bai and Kang Xi’s conflict, we have to add the previous Ming dynasty resistance group. Kang Xi’s grandfather overthrew the last Ming dynasty Emperor and established a new era, but there were still many supporters of the previous dynasty. Besides, Kang Xi has to face Wu San Gui’s forces (another old noble of the court).

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Kang Xi’s enemies come from three different fronts: Ao bai, the Ming resistance group and Wu San Gui

Despite his youth, Kang Xi is a fair emperor who loves his people. He has his own ideas about how to be a good ruler, but is often impeded by aristocratic and royal issues. He can’t depose many of the nobles who commit crimes, but swears to build in the future an empire corruption-free. Kang Xi is good at calligraphy and politics, but doesn’t know martial arts to defend himself.

Since he was a child he had to assume the duties of an emperor, and also, keep the distance with most of the people. Apart from her grandmother, he never experienced things as love or friendship. That’s why Yi Huan was a breath of fresh air to him. She was the only person to treat him as an equal, even daring to consider him her “little bro”.

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I could have enjoyed their romance if the plot made a little sense… Yang Zi and Qin Jun Jie have an adorable chemistry

What I liked about Qin Jun Jie’s Kang Xi was his behavior towards his people, his sense of justice, even when he was hindered by other elements. He is a proud emperor (as we are shown when he is offended or angry to hear someone questioning his power), but is willing to kneel before an anonymous woman, because he failed as a good emperor. I loved how Qin Jun Jie’s eyes burned when his character faced unfair situations (Liu De Zhao’s lengthy arc is full of these). Likewise, I enjoyed his decision making, especially when he confessed his admiration towards Zhu Ci Xuan. He really did a great job in spite of the deficiency of the plot and its characters. Besides, Kang Xi breathless kissing Yi Huan was amazing (¬‿¬)

On the other hand, the Ming resistance group has its secret main base in Long Zhu Gu (The Dragon Pearl Valley). This is the place where our female lead (Zhu Yi Huan) and our second male lead (Zhu Ci Xuan) grew up together.

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Long Zhu Gu’s (The Dragon Pearl Valley) members try to restore Ming dynasty

Yang Zi plays the role of Zhu Yi Huan (changed her name to Li Yi Huan at capital). She is the last princess of Ming dynasty, the unique surviving child of the last monarchs. A legend forecast that a princess would bring disaster to the Ming dynasty, so the royal doctor (Fan Li) switched her with Li Ding Guo’s newborn baby boy (Zhu Ci Xuan). After that, Zhu Yi Huan lived as Li Ding Guo’s daughter and Zhu Ci Xuan is considered by everyone Ming’s dynasty crown prince. In order to preserve the purity of royal bloodline, Li Ding Guo and Fan Li claimed that it was Ming’s Emperor last wish to pair off Yi Huan with Ci Xuan.

I’d love to say our female lead is awesome and praiseworthy, but she isn’t. At first, she seems carefree and straightforward, and although I didn’t dislike that, I really hoped there was something else. Quite another story…. Zhu Yi Huan didn’t think about anything she does or says, even when her behavior would harm and endanger the people she supposely cares. I tried to accept her and ignore everytime I pulled my hair out, but the last straw was the moment she decided to marry Ci Xuan and later left with Kang Xi ◔_◔

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Yang Zi’s character was too mindless for my liking

Yi Huan never cared about restoring Ming dynasty. She believes that it’s okay as long as the current emperor is a fair and kind monarch. Regarding to this, she has an important sense of justice, but isn’t able to think beyond. Also, she is often too impulsive and quite capricious.

She met Kang Xi without knowing he’s her family’s biggest enemy. Even after acknowledging this, she isn’t able to hate him or stay away. She believes that he’s and will become a good emperor, but also, she starts developing more complex feelings towards him. In the blink of an eye, she finds herself caught in a dilemma, forced to take sides between her family and the man she loves. Still, Yi Huan never seems to really take sides, she stays beside with big sad eyes, hoping to never be forced to make a decision.

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Some of the BTS were truly adorable and funny, if interested, you all should check it out

Yi Huan’s appearance is sweet and dorky. In general, I liked Yang Zi’s style in this drama. Her crying scenes were beautiful and enough touching. Alike the rest of the cast, her acting was flawless but LDP’s plot and character depiction was deficient enough to eclipse its strengths.

Even so, the worst thing about LDP is how after 90 episodes, we only get a even more senseless ending. (SPOILERS) It’s said that Yi Huan dies ◔_◔ but they don’t tell us how she dies or who kills her ◔_◔. We are just offered a very sad Kang Xi, who refuse to see anyone or do anything for many days… The drama came to an end when Kang Xi decides to bestir himself, possibly determined to avenge Yi Huan (but who cares after 90 episodes of continuous face palming…).

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A senseless drama in which we can’t even get a happy ending…

Zhu Ci Xuan (Mao Zi Jun) grew up taking on the responsabilities of an overthrown dynasty’s crown prince. Since he was a child, he was taught to be the best in both martial arts and culture knowledge. He is an extraordinary strategist, a spectacular plotter and a natural-born leader. Zhu Ci Xuan is so awesome that most of the time it overshadowed Kang Xi. Kang Xi himself admitted Zhu Ci Xuan would be an outstanding emperor.

The only thing in which Zhu Ci Xuan can’t surpass Kang Xi is the emotional field. He is willing to do everything for Yi Huan, but no matter what he does, she simply sees him as her brother. You will see throughout 90 episodes how Zhu Ci Xuan sacrifies everything (literally, everything) in order to protect and save Yi Huan. But all he gets is… nothing. In the end, to save Yi Huan, he sacrifies his force and skills, becoming a disabled person. He doesn’t let her know this, and Yi Huan (severe eye-rolling ◔_◔) stupidly believes he’s all okay (when it is obvious he was almost dying ಥ_ಥ). I couldn’t stop face palming the whole time…

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Another drama starring the trio: Qin Jun Jie, Yang Zi and Mao Zi Jun

Zhu Ci Xuan was brilliant in everything but flew off the handle each time Yi Huan was in danger. He immediately saw how she treated Kang Xi differently, caring about him more and more. Knowing that it would get worse, he tried to make her leave the court, but Yi Huan convinced him to stay by saying that they could spy on Kang Xi better. Soon after they arrived, he achieved Kang Xi’s trust and respect. It would have been a perfect disguise if he didn’t lose control everytime he saw Kang Xi and Yi Huan behave affectionately. Mainly for this reason, Kang Xi began suspecting their real identities. When the truth was finally revealed, Kang Xi still tried to keep him as an ally, but Ci Xuan refused.

In that moment, Yi Huan was more conscious than never about her feelings towards Kang Xi, but she had to leave him and return with her family. Li Ding Guo, acknowledging her daughter fell for their worst enemy, was enraged and even attempted to kill himself. Aiming to soothe him and make Yi Huan got over Kang Xi, they planned to immediately marry Ci Xuan with her. The same night of the wedding, Yi Huan ran away because she saw Kang Xi’s signal and even though she didn’t want to, she ended up leaving with him. A terribly affected Ci Xuan gets drunk and wanders through the streets. Qing Cheng is the one who finds him.

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Zhu Ci Xuan stayed in court disguised as Yi Huan’s brother, Li Jian Qing

Xue Qing Cheng (portrayed by actress Shu Chang), has secretly loved Ci Xuan since childhood. She knows him better than anyone and made a wonderful couple, but Ci Xuan didn’t correspond her feelings. Still, she never tried to hurt Yi Huan or trick her, even encouraging her to accept Ci Xuan and forget about Kang Xi.

Qing Cheng was raised in the dragon pearl valley by Xue Yi Ju Shi (Jiang Hong). She is one of the children, along with Yi Huan and Ci Xuan, whose purpose is restoring Ming dynasty. As a result, she was brought up to appear and act the same as Shu Wan Xin (also played by Shu Chang), the daughter of a noble family destined to become Kang Xi’s concubine. When the real Shu Wan Xin was entering palace, they kidnapped her and exchanged her for Qing Cheng. In that way, she became Kang Xi’s concubine (although they never consummated) and an useful spy for the Ming resistance group.

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She looked strangely “plastic” in some scenes

Nevertheless, it’s later revealed that Qing Cheng and Xue Yi Ju Shi were in fact Wu San Gui’s subordinates. Xue Yi Ju Shi’s clan was slaughtered by Ming dynasty. When Qing dynasty is established, she and a very young Qing Cheng stayed in the dragon pearl valley to spy and report everything about the Ming resistance group, in order to take revenge on them in the future. Xue Yi Ju Shi never forgot her original intentions, but Qing Cheng couldn’t help to develop feelings towards the resistance group (and fell for Ci Xuan). She could neither betray Wu San Gui because he had her little brother under his power.

As for her little brother, it’s said that Wu San Gui kept him as an hostage to maintain the control over Xue Yi Ju Shi and Qing Cheng. She chose to suicide when Wu San Gui ordered her to kill Yi Huan, but Yi Huan, already knowing her real identity, saved her. They investigate a way to rescue her brother from Wu San Gui, just to find out that he died many years ago. Now that she doesn’t need to worry about her brother, Qing Cheng, Ci Xuan and Yi Huan came up with a plan. Qing Cheng confessed to Kang Xi her identity as Wu San Gui’s spy, achiving in this way his trust and casting a bone between the emperor and Wu San Gui.

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If Yi Huan is supposed to be 17 years old, how old is Qing Cheng supposed to be…?

Before the marriage between Yi Huan and Ci Xuan was held, Qing Cheng left (wishing the best for them). But after Yi Huan disappeared with Kang Xi, she came back and took care of Ci Xuan. While Ci Xuan was extremely drunk (mistaking her for Yi Huan), Qing Cheng prepared their own wedding ceremony and got married with him.

She was heartbroken when the next morning Ci Xuan rejected her, again. Yi Huan abandoned him and they were already married, but Ci Xuan still couldn’t accept her. Hereupon, Qing Cheng swears to get over her feelings and forget him, a man who let her down after giving him everything. And this is the last thing we get to know about her character.

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If only Ci Xuan could have corresponded Qing Cheng’s feelings

There are other two children who grew up with them in the dragon pearl valley: Ye Mo Sheng and Fan Qian Ying. Ye Mo Sheng (Han Cheng Yu) is Ye Ming Zhang’s son and had loved Yi Huan since ever, but she was already paired off with Ci Xuan. Just as it happened with Xue Qing Cheng and Xue Yi Ju Shi, it’s revealed that both of them are in fact spies of Qing dynasty (and therefore, Kang Xi’s subordinates).

Ye Mo Sheng tried to elope with Yi Huan but she rejected him. After being unmasked, he returned to palace along with his father, assuming a charge in the court.

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Fan Qian Ying instatly fell in love with Wu San Gui’s youngest son, Wu Ying Qi

Fan Qian Ying (Sun Wei) is Fan Li’s daughter. In the past, she accompanied a very naughty Yi Huan to the mount but they were attacked by a beast. His father protected Yi Huan before her and the beast left a scar in Qian Ying’s face. Fan Li was the most renowned doctor of Ming dynasty but couldn’t heal her daughter’s scar because they didn’t have the necessary medicines. Excluding the scar and the insecurities this event caused, Qian Ying and his father’s relationship was also affected, ‘though she never blamed Yi Huan.

When in a mission she met Wu San Gui’s youngest son, Wu Ying Qi (Liu Xue Yi), they immediately fell in love. They preserved their love in spite of the opposition of their parents and ended up staying together (they may be the only couple in LDP with a happy ending).

Note: Concerning to Wu Ying Qi, I thought they were revealing an “unexpected” truth about him (since Li Ding Guo and Fan Li behaved weirdly beside him). Considering that the Qing Cheng’s brother’s thing was recent I thought he may actually be her brother. Still, the drama ended without explaining what the hell happens with Wu Ying Qi and why Li Ding Guo and Fan Li acted so strangely ●︿●

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Although being raised like warriors from different sides, I’m happy that they achieved to develop friendship bonds

One last mention for the Empress Dowager (Si Qin Gao Wa). She was always grumbling and afraid of Kang Xi remaking the same mistakes as his father and grandfather did for love, and that’s why she disliked Yi Huan, being sure that she would destroy her grandson. For this reason, the Empress Dowager tried (subtly) to separate them (and I believe she has something to do with Yi Huan’s alleged “death”).

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The Empress (Zhang Wei Na), without the Empress Dowager’s apparent support, would have been almost irrelevant

Conclusion:

I finished watching Legend of the Dragon Pearl thanks to my will power. I tried to ignore everything absurd or the details which didn’t make sense, but after 90 episodes, I was disappointed for wasting my time.

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Although the cast did a flawless work, it was not enough to redeem the plot and story’s deficiency. Yang Zi and Qin Jun Jie’s chemistry was good as expected, and they depicted some very funny scenes. Also, I’d like to see Mao Zi Jun in other series not involving Yang Qi, Qin Jun Jie or Ruby Lin.

If you are bored and have plenty of time, this could be a good choice to be played in the background, but as for me, LDP was not worthy of my time.

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  • Plot: 5/20
  • Cast: 20/20
  • OST: 6/10
  • Scenography: 10/10
  • Costume: 9.5/10
  • Overall: 7.2/10

PROMISE OF MIGRATORY BIRDS (2016) Review – The right person, the wrong time

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Titles: 十五年等待候鸟 (Shi Wu Nian Deng Dai Hou Niao) / Fifteen Years To Wait For Migratory Birds / Fifteen Years Of Waiting For Migratory Birds / Promise Of Migratory Birds


Cast:

  • Zhang Ruo Yun as Pei Shang Xuan
  • Sun Yi as Li Li
  • Deng Lun as Liu Qian Ren
  • Zhang Xue Ying as Han Yi Chen
  • Li Zong Lin as Daniel
  • Liu Mei Han as Li Jun
  • Zhu Yuan Bing as Sun Yu
  • Dai Chao as Qiu Zi An
  • Zheng He Hui Zi as Su Su

Directed by: Ke Han Chen

Based on: Fifteen Years Of Waiting For Migratory Birds by Ying Feng

Written by: Xu Lu Yan and Jin Guo Dong


Plot (from Wiki):

Li Li and Pei Shangxuan meet each other when they are fourteen and she has a crush on him for the longest time. However, she does not confess due to her unattractive looks leading to her low self-esteem. And just like, days become months, and months become years. She stays beside him as his best friend for fifteen long years. During those years, various challenges scar them, rendering them feeling unworthy for each other. Pei Shangxuan was fearful of pursuing her, afraid of losing her if their romance doesn’t work out. When he finally realizes he loves her, it’s too late.

Their promise of love is being likened to a pair of migratory birds – wherever they go, they will eventually return to each other.

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Review:

I decided to watch Promise of Migratory Birds (PMB) due to Zhang Ruo Yun, who did an awesome work in Medical Examiner Dr. Qin.

On the surface, PMB seems like the typical teenage drama, but Wikipedia dramatic synopsis kinda allured me.

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Another high school drama?

(SPOILERS) What I loved about PMB was its poetry, how the story was built over beautiful and heartbreaking metaphors. Our main characters, Pei Shang Xuan and Li Li met each other in high school. Although they initially had a terrible first impression, they develop a strong bond throughout years.

At first, Li Li (Sun Yi) thought that Pei Shang Xuan was an irresponsible boy who took football as an excuse to skip his duties. Little by little, she realized that Pei Shang Xuan loved sincerely playing football, and would do anything in order to achieve his dreams. Also, she found out that he’s a kindhearted boy who wouldn’t doubt to help others. Her concern and friendship towards Pei Shang Xuan eventually grew into love. A shy, silent and selfless love.

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Sun Yi plays the role of Li Li

She tried once to declare herself, but just before she could, Pei Shang Xuan started a relantionship with her cousin, Han Yi Chen. Every year Li Li would start a diary, writing in the very first page a promise: “This year I don’t want to love Pei Shang Xuan anymore“. This habit went on during fifteen years.

Despite she never admitted explicitly she felt unworthy of him, you can appreciate the times in which Li Li was tormented by her low-esteem. She is intelligent enough to not care about Han Yi Chen’s childhood bullying, but I believe that realizing Pei Shang Xuan chose her somehow hurt Li Li, leaving irreversible wounds.

She always stayed by Pei Shang Xuan’s side, willing to wait for him and love silently. Li Li thinks that starting a relationship with Pei Shang Xuan would made her lose their friendship. She believes that having him as a friend is better than not having him at all.

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Li Li may seem like a sad and serious woman, but she loves life deeply and would do anything to protect the ones she care about

On the other hand, Zhang Ruo Yun plays the role of our male lead, Pei Shang Xuan. He loves football and is his school’s team captain. He doesn’t really care about studies so his tutor paired him with Li Li in a kind of “study group”, in which Pei Shang Xuan helps Li Li with sports and Li Li helps him with other subjects. At the beginning, they took advantage of this situation bothering each other, but it immediately became a chance to reinforce their friendship.

Pei Shang Xuan was extremely popular at school, being admired and loved by almost every girl.  Li Li was repudiated by her female schoolmates due to her initial bad relantionship with him. When this ended up affecting her best friend, Li Jun, she faced Pei Shang Xuan and critized him. That was the moment when Pei Shang Xuan changed his mind about Li Li, realizing that she was a very good friend.

When Li Li had to deal with his mother’s re-marriage, Pei Shang Xuan stayed by her side, encouraging her and protecting her from a (verbally) abusive step-brother (Deng Lun’s character, Liu Qian Ren).

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Even sunshine boys have their own scars

Pei Shang Xuan’s first love was Li Li’s cousin, Han Yi Chen. The year of their university entrance exams, he got really good marks, but in order to protect Han Yi Chen from a group of bullies, he was incarcerated. Han Yi Chen left the country without testifying and he stayed in jail for a whole year. Aside from the trauma itself, Pei Shang Xuan lost his faith in friendship and love. All his aspirations in life turned to ashes, since no university or job would admit a student with criminal record. He started working in a night bar, drinking alcohol and “meeting” girls. When Li Li and his friends tried to cheer him up, he pushed them aside. Deep down, he thought he didn’t deserve them anymore, especially Li Li, who had always been a brilliant student.

It was Li Li who finally stopped that spiral of self-destruction. One night, Pei Shang Xuan, trying to help a female workmate, began drinking a lot of alcohol with some customers. Li Li, who tried stopping him in vain, took an entire bottle and started drinking. Pei Shang Xuan stopped straightaway, promising her to find another job and overcome his pessimism. Later, Pei Shang Xuan would express his gratitude for those harsh times. In his words, they were critical for him to realize who were his true friends.

Pei Shang Xuan discovered his real feelings towards Li Li after seven years. He declared himself in a very romantic way and persuaded Li Li to overcome her fears. Everything seemed perfect but just then, Li Li is diagnosed with leukemia. My heart literally broke when that year she changed the words in her diary to “This year I won’t be able to love Pei Shang Xuan anymore“. Li Li chose to disappear and leave Pei Shang Xuan, because he was starting a decisive project and she didn’t want to become his burden.

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I like how their relationship evolved

Pei Shang Xuan searched and waited for Li Li eight years. Knowing Li Li, he was sure that only something terrible would made Li Li disappear without telling him anything. When they came across after so many years, Li Li convinced him that their time had already passed and that she started a new relationship with Liu Qian Ren. I felt awfully powerless when watching those final scenes, in which Pei Shang Xuan couldn’t understand (and believe) what happened but had to accept her decision.

They spent seven years to get together, seven years in which Pei Shang Xuan dated wrong women (Han Yi Chen, Su Su) and they both had to deal with their own fears. Li Li waited for Pei Shang Xuan seven years, and Pei Shang Xuan waited for her another eight years. In the end, Li Li loved Pei Shang Xuan for fifteen years.

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Fifteen years of devotion, loyalty and patience

The series is named after their promise. Li Li’s biological father was an ornithology lover and she inherited this interest. It got an even more special meaning  after her father’s death. Li Li and her dad would went every year to watch migratory birds return to the same place. Pei Shang Xuan promised that they would perpetuate this habit together.

The importance of migratory birds is possibly the detail that made the series so different. As I mentioned before, PMB is set over beautiful but heartbreaking metaphors. Each year, birds would fly thousands of miles in their migration, but no matter how long time or distance, they would always return to the same place. Hence, if you are willing to wait, they will eventually return. Both Li Li and Pei Shang Xuan were willing to wait for each other, because they believed she/he would “return”. I was moved each time Li Li talked about migratory birds and Sun Yi was flawless portraying her character’s devotion towards that ritual.

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If you are willing to wait…

Deng Lun plays the role of Liu Qian Ren, Li Li’s step-brother. At first he loathed Li Li and her mother, convinced that his parent’s divorce was Li Li’s mother’s fault. As a result, he behaved like a real dick, bullying Li Li and even throwing her things. However, Li Li’s kindness ended up softening his heart, making him fall in love. If Li Li loved Pei Shang Xuan for fifteen years, it’s accurate to say that Liu Qian Ren also loved Li Li for fifteen years. It’s pleasant to see his character development, how he remained indifferent and even nasty on the surface, but slowly began caring about Li Li and her mother like family.

Unexpectedly, I really liked his character (despite I always shipped Li Li with Pei Shang Xuan). I was very confused when halfway through the series he “disappeared” (he moved to work in another city). It was even worst because it happened right after a specific event. Remember when Li Li drank that whole bottle of alcohol? Pei Shang Xuan got her alone into a taxi and Liu Qian Ren found her when she arrived. A very drunk Li Li is brought to bed by Liu Qian Ren and seeing him as Pei Shang Xuan, she begged him not to leave her. That’s all Li Li remember the next morning but she automatically inferred something happened between them. I couldn’t believe that Liu Qian Ren took advantage of her while being drunk, but I was more and more confused because the show kept showing Li Li’s remorse towards that night (even considering herself now unworthy of any man, not to say her beloved Pei Shang Xuan). Her misunderstanding (because it was a misunderstanding) went on during a bunch of episodes, until Liu Qian Ren finally reappeared.

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Deng Lun is everywhere these days, I’m happy for his fast rise as a young actor

He came back with a new identity: Li Li’s boss in her new job. He looked the same as before: cold, distant and insensitive; but defended and watched over Li Li behind her back. His attitude seemed harsh and severe, but he always attempted to encourage and help Li Li. Liu Qian Ren stayed with her for eight years, supporting her during her own leukemia’s therapy and taking care of every single detail. When Li Li’s mother died (due to her ovarian cancer), he even promised that he would always look after Li Li.

Liu Qian Ren always knew Li Li loved Pei Shang Xuan (he was even rejected by her), it’s strange that Liu Qian Ren never tried to persuade Li Li to spend her last days with the one she really loved, but he was willing to stay by her side no matther what. In Li Li’s mother deathbed, she regretted not being able to see Li Li getting marry. Liu Qian Ren proposed to Li Li and she accepted in order to fulfill her mother’s last will.

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Bittersweetly, Li Li and Liu Qian Ren both waited fifteen years for the one they loved

The marriage never took place because Li Li escaped the same day, only leaving her diaries. When Pei Shang Xuan saw those diaries and read the words she wrote every year in the first page, he understood that he had to find Li Li and fight for their relantionship. Still, it was already too late. Li Li was gone and no one could find her. (SPOILER) The show chose to leave a an open ending: we never get to know if Li Li died. We just know that Pei Shang Xuan kept waiting for her, believing she would eventually return to him (the same as migratory birds).

Note: Referring to the ending, the last episode doesn’t make sense at all. It’s like a summary of the previous 23 episodes (literally), focusing on Li Li and Pei Shang Xuan’s relationship. I’ve even seen comments of people saying that you can watch the whole story by just watching episode 24 (which is somehow true).

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Li Jun is Li Li’s best friend since high school days

As for other supporting actors, we have Liu Mei Han, who portrays Li Jun (Li Li’s best friend). I think the show doesn’t really “take care” of the characters aside from Li Li, Pei Shang Xuan and Liu Qian Ren; but you can’t ask for more to such short series. Li Jun would chose her best friend over her idol (Pei Shang Xuan at that time). I was glad that they overcame her problems and remained friends. Still, I was disappointed when Li Li left without saying anything and she didn’t seem too affected (if my best friend went missing all of a sudden I’d go crazy looking for her). But okay, the series had to focus on Pei Shang Xuan and his sorrow, so perhaps they couldn’t waste any minute on Li Jun (something which bothers me because episode 24 is a nonsense). The same happens when Li Li reveals the truth to Li Jun, telling her she was diagnosed with leukemia and that was the reason why she left. Li Jun’s reaction isn’t the expected.

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Daniel turned into Li Li and Pei Shang Xuan’s best friend

Li Zong Lin plays the role of Daniel, a boy who was transferred to their school just after Li Jun moved to another city. He soon became an important part of the group. He was introduced to Li Jun later, at university. They eventually fell in love and it’s pleasing to see a couple with a happier ending. Nevertheless, things never seem to be so easy. Daniel dreams about becoming a singer, but to achieve this, he has to move to Korea. Not willing to leave Li Jun alone in China, waiting for him, he decided to break up with her.

No need to say that he fulfilled his dream, becoming a well-known and very popular asian singer. They met again after seven years, in Li Li’s wedding ceremony. While looking for Li Li, they are pursued by a group of paparazzi. Li Jun wants to escape and hide, but Daniel took advantage of the situation to confess that he keeps loving her. Unlike our main characters, Daniel and Li Jun got their happy ending (although the show finished with an open ending, you can just assume that Li Li died, because there’s no other reason why she wouldn’t come back to Pei Shang Xuan and leave him waiting).

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Han Yi Chen: the rich, spoiled and good-looking cousin of Li Li

One last section to talk about Pei Shang Xuan’s “not-meant-to-be-women”. Han Yi Chen (Zhang Xue Ying) is Li Li’s cousin, but different from her, she came from a wealthy family in which she had always been spoiled. Her mother told her to learn from Li Li, because she was a very good student with awesome marks, but Han Yi Chen always believed she could get whatever Li Li has (since she’s more beautiful and popular). Note: personally, I couldn’t consider Han Yi Chen any more good-looking than Li Li. I believe she “fall in love” with Pei Shang Xuan just because she saw that Li Li was interested on him. The group of bullies I quoted before recorded her while she was in the bathroom, and threatened to make it public if she testify for Pei Shang Xuan. That’s why she left the country, leaving Pei Shang Xuan to his fate.

Han Yi Chen returns many years later, working in Li Li’s company. While being abroad, she studied in the same university than Liu Qian Ren, becoming friends. Although she seemed to have changed, and kind of make up with Li Li, you immediately realize she’s remains the same. She reveals Pei Shang Xuan the reason why she didn’t testify and he forgave her, but she couldn’t accept he didn’t love her anymore (something which was obvious…). She blames Li Li and takes her resentment to their workplace. Fortunately (?), PMB couldn’t afford to waste more time in any supporting character, so her bitching lasted fairly.

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I was too lazy (and didn’t care) to look for more photos of our main’s exs, so I’m just putting another Pei Shang Xuan for you

The same goes for Su Su (Zheng He Hui Zi), Pei Shang Xuan’s second girlfriend. Regarding to her, I can only say how senseless was their relationship (because Pei Shang Xuan clearly didn’t love him). Also, Su Su had a serious problem of dependency towards Pei Shang Xuan.

I felt bad because I have nothing to say about Qiu Zi An (Dai Chao), Li Jun’s cousin who was also Li Li’s pretender. He tried really hard but finally gave up. After that he just disappeared so I hope he had an happy ending just like her cousin.

Final note (the last one, I swear): I read somewhere that they changed PMB’s ending from the book it’s based on. I think the original ending was far more better (NOVEL SPOILERS NEXT: Liu Qian Ren accepts that Li Li will never love him and ends up finding his own happy ending, Li Li dies but Pei Shang Xuan is by her side. He promises that in next life he would first fall in love with her, not making her wait for him again).


Conclusion:

As for me, Promise of Migratory Birds is not just another high school drama. The story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, built over intelligent metaphors which differentiates it from other similar dramas. Pei Shang Xuan and Li Li were the right person for each other, but they had the wrong timing. The same could be said about Liu Qian Ren. I think their story also warns its viewers about not wasting their time: overcome your fears, seize every chance you have and dare to love.

I personally liked the soundtrack, especially the song “Let You Go”. The scenography was accurate too, detailed and stunning when needed. Everything is pretty good excluding some little aspects about their side characters’ development (and their possible sudden disappearance), but it’s absolutely understandable for a 24 (23, in fact) episodes show. Its short length is also another appeal, even if you don’t like the story you can miss too much with it.

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Find that place (that person) to where you will always want to return

In conclusion, give a try to Promise of Migratory Birds. Sun Yi, Zhang Ruo Yun and Deng Lun (along with the rest of the cast) made a marvelous work portraying their characters and their story. It’s a beautiful (but sad) chance to get to know some very talented young actors.


  • Plot: 18/20
  • Cast: 19/20
  • OST: 9/10
  • Scenography: 10/10
  • Costume: 10/10
  • Overall: 9.4/10

 

CROSSING THE OCEAN TO SEE YOU (2017) Review – Meant to be

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Titles: 漂洋过海来看你 (Piao Yang Guo Hai Lai Kan Ni) / Crossing the ocean to see you


Cast:

  • Zhu Ya Wen as Zheng Chu
  • Wang Li Kun as Su Mang
  • Ye Qing as Tang Guo Guo
  • Denny Huang as Tang Ming
  • Wang Yan Lin as Su Chang
  • Gao Yang as Yan Xiao Qiu
  • Ma Qiu Zi as Chen Shan Shan
  • Irene Wan as Zheng Mei Ling
  • Andrew Lien as Fei Yi
  • Xie Shuai as Tony
  • Yang Gongru as Cai Ling
  • He Bin as Chen Jia Ming
  • Du Shiwu as Ella
  • Zhao Zichong as Xiao Dai
  • Li Zixi as Dong Jia Jia
  • Wang Ge as Gu Yuan
  • Zhang Guozhu as Tang Tai (Father Tang)
  • Wu Yufang as Mother Tang
  • Zhang Wei as Father Yan
  • Jie Bing as Father Zheng
  • Xu Yulan as Mother Zheng
  • Fan Chuxia as Mother Chen
  • Yuan Wenkang as Krief
  • Huang Jing as Ye Li Sha

Directed by: Chen Ming Zhang

Written by: Yao Yao


Plot (from Wiki):

Romantic hijinks ensue between a warm subordinate and his prickly boss when they become neighbours.

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Review:

Crossing The Ocean To See You (CTOTSY) is a modern life drama that surprised me in many ways. I decided to watch the series later, when I unintentionally came across with its trailer. I was attracted by how sweet and lighthearted it seemed.

Is CTOTSY worth your time? Here’s my opinion.

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Zhu Ya Wen and Wang Li Kun are marvelous on-screen

(SPOILERS) The story starts with the romantic “failure” of our main characters: Zheng Chu’s marriage proposal being rejected by his girlfriend, Chen Shan Shan, after five years of relationship, provoking their break up (in China); and Su Mang getting divorced from Chen Jia Ming, a stupid cheater who was infertile (in England).

The whole plot is based on the decision that Su Mang (portrayed by beautiful Wang Li Kun) took days before the divorce. Her mother-in-law put pressure on her to get pregnant by assisted reproduction, and Su Mang accepted in order to perpetuate his husband’s family lineage. However, her sacrifice is totally despised and Chen Jia Ming demands divorce claiming that she was unfaithful to him. A heartbroken Su Mang signs the divorce contract and decides to leave England, searching for a new start. At first, she just hoped that she wouldn’t get pregnant, since the probability of getting pregnant at the first time through assisted reproduction was negligible. Luckily and unfortunately, she gets pregnant and is faced to the problem of carrying a child all alone. It’s harsh but Su Mang decides to keep the child and return to China.

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Su Mang is determined to restart her life all alone with her baby

Su Mang is an intelligent and confident woman, adroit at work but useless in daily life (cooking, eating properly, taking care of herself…). Her subordinates nickname her as the “black spider”, due to her fierceness when working and giving orders. Su Mang can seem insensible but most of the time she’s just being really responsible. Her principle is simple: people must pay the consequences for their actions. There’s no use in taking unncessary revenges or tricking others, because sooner or later everyone has to face their own truth. Still, Su Mang gives second chances to the ones she considers worthy. An example is how she forgave Ella but was adamant towards Chen Jia Ming. And even ‘though, she didn’t try to harm him and brought him home that night when he got drunk and unconscious.

She also has a kinda childish side: acting like a spoiled child with Zheng Chu, worried when he got “angry” with her, playful and sassy. I laughed a lot when Zheng Chu brought her to the shopping addict center, and felt sad because she didn’t have the chance to expose her gratitude letter aloud. Su Mang is strong-willed, fair and lovable; it’s no wonder that Zheng Chu and Fei Yi fell for her.

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I like strong female figures and Su Mang truly is one to be admired

However, I quite dislike her initial prejudices towards Zheng Chu. After twenty episodes, in which Zheng Chu had already proved himself as a good guy, she still had a terrible impression of him, even thinking that he would pay to woman to have an abortion. Of course, I understand her mistrust after such a failed relantionship, but her prejudices were simply too unfounded. It was contradictory to me that a woman as intelligent as Su Mang couldn’t fight those prejudices. It’s possible that back then she already started feeling something for Zheng Chu, or maybe she just couldn’t believe that someone would be as gentle and noble as him.

One of Wang Li Kun’s best scenes was that one in which she burst into tears, after all the pressure she suffered due to the opposition of Zheng Chu’s family. I was torn by Zheng Chu’s sweetness, embracing her while she tried fighting back and ended up crying  dishearteningly. That was one of the moments when we realized how fragile Su Mang really is.

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Zhu Ya Wen portrays his role so well that it’s difficult to believe he isn’t Zheng Chu himself

Zhu Ya Wen plays the role of our male lead, Zheng Chu. He’s possibly one of the best male characters I have seen on any chinese drama. I admire how talented, caring and patient he is. His philosophy is based on sincerity (even when it’s not socially appropriate) and nobleness. He is extremely professional at work but values love the most. I was moved by his tenderness towards Su Mang, how he foresaw and planned every detail, always concerned. Not only a good boyfriend (and father), he’s also a marvelous friend and colleague. He is that kind of person that can’t bear to see anyone injured or treated unfairly. Still, he’s stubborn and fussy, often too impulsive and hot-headed, but CTOTSY presents his flaws amusingly, like they weren’t flaws at all.

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The perfect gentleman

He’s a man whose marriage proposal was rejected three times: one time by Chen Shan Shan and two times by Su Mang. I like how he managed everything regarding Chen Shan Shan: he appreciated their relationship but respected her decision to break up with him, because he knew things were already over. He kept the distance with Chen Shan Shan after their breakup, but just as he promised Yan Xiao Qiu, he wouldn’t doubt to help her if needed.

He didn’t mind to be called “house maid” by Su Mang, because in that way he could watch over her. He’s firm at his convictions, but he’s totally easy-going and understanding when it comes to his beloved ones. He keeps his dignity without being vain or arrogant. I loved how determined he was in some scenes (like when he teamed up with Su Chang to beat Chen Jia Ming), protecting and taking care of Su Mang at any cost. I couldn’t believe how patient he was, even when Su Mang kept misunderstanding him. Facing his family rejection, Su Mang tried to put him aside, hiding her real feelings, but Zheng Chu never gave up on her (one awesome scene is how he chased Su Mang’s car by only riding his bike).

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I really thank CTOTSY for introducing me into such a amazing actor as Zhu Ya Wen

Although we know it since the very first episode, our main characters don’t acknowledge the truth until the end. In the past, Zheng Chu donated his semen to the clinic where Su Mang got pregnant. I loved Zheng Chu’s expression when he discovered everything, how his eyes showed pure joy. After everything, it turned out that Zheng Chu is actually Su Mang’s child father. It seems like an implausible and miraculous plot line, but it didn’t feel forced or out of place. On the contrary, I perceived everything as something that was meant to be. Zheng Chu and Su Mang were meant to know each other, meant to fall in love, meant to overtake every problem… They were simply meant to be.

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Ye Qing stars as Tang Guo Guo, a spoiled teen idol too hot-headed but good-hearted

Tang Guo Guo (Ye Qing) is the little sister of Zheng Chu’s best friend, Tang Ming. She was raised and spoiled under the shelter of Tang’s family and as a result, she can be quite capricious and whiner. However, Tang Guo Guo is kind-hearted and won’t really hurt anyone on purpose. Initially, she was annoying, too noisy and bothersome. I didn’t hate her but dislike her constant pursuit over Zheng Chu. I disapprove her attitude towards Su Mang, mistreating her just because Zheng Chu was interested in her. It took me a while to change my view and get attached to Tang Guo Guo, but at the end I see her as a sincere and too straightforward girl who would crazily fight for her dreams and the ones she loves.

She was obsessed over Zheng Chu at first but little by little, Su Chang began earning a place at her heart. Seeing their progress as a couple was extremely sweet (the animal shelter scene was adorable). My favourite moment was that night in which Su Chang openned his heart, explaining how important Su Mang is for him and clarifying why he would not let anyone harm her, even if that person is the woman he loves.

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She might be childish, but her heart is pure towards the ones she loves and her aspirations as a singer

I also like how she adores singing, not really caring about fame or people’s criticism. She had a hard time when she lost media and fans’ support, but that obstacle helped her mature and see everything clearly: Tony, his manager, and Su Chang are the ones who stayed by her side. They are the people who deserve her love, and even ‘though she still cared a lot about Zheng Chu, she finally understood that loving someone who doesn’t love you back leads to nothing. Besides, I think she certainly fell in love with Su Chang. Unconsciously, she became more and more attached to him, going mad and worrying when he didn’t call back or meesage her, and not allowing anyone (even his father) picking on Su Chang.

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Su Chang’s perseverance gave fruits at the end

As for Su Chang (Wang Yan Lin), he is Su Mang’s little brother and works as a young magician. I thought he was simple-minded and only interested in Tang Guo Guo as a fling, but  he soon proved to be different. He may be Tang Guo Guo’s biggest fan, along with Tony. It’s was extremely tender to see his reverence while watching Tang Guo Guo singing clips. However, the moment when I started really caring about his character was, as I said, that night in which he explained how important Su Mang was for him. One thing I loved about Su Chang was how he didn’t care about showing his emotions, and it wasn’t unfounded crying or display of affection. Wang Yan Lin achieved to show how his character sincerely loves her sister and Tang Guo Guo.

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Denny Huang as Tang Ming

Denny Huang plays the role of our second male, doctor Tang Ming. He’s Tang Guo Guo’s big brother and the unique heir of Tang’s family. His father wants him to take charge of family business but he keeps his aspirations as a doctor, and (mainly) due to this, they don’t have a good relationship. Tang Ming is Zheng Chu’s best friend and likes to practice combat together.

When Tang Ming was young, he was in love with Zheng Chu’s ex-girlfriend, Chen Shan Shan. Later, she meets Yan Xiao Qiu (without knowing she is Chen Shan Shan’s big sister). He started developing feeling towards her when father Yan is hospitalized and Tang Ming turned up to be his doctor. Still, he accepted helping Chen Shan Shan when she suggested him to pretend being his boyfriend, in order to keep a depraved workmate at bay. Like this, Tang Ming got involved with both sisters.

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(I remember that the dress was dark green, why is it black in the photo…?)

Tang Ming is supposed to be a good guy, but I ended up really disliking his character. He stayed indecisive until it was too late. His behavior in some situations made me loathe his character even more: when Tang Ming found Yan Xiao Qiu in his home, he determined without even asking that she was there to suck up to his parents. He didn’t give her any chance to explain herself or make a try to reason beyond his prejudices. He should have known (better than anyone) that Tang Guo Guo could be really persistent, but he hurried to an irrational answer, blaming Yan Xiao Qiu. He neither asked Zheng Chu what happened when he heard that he slapped his sister. He chose to “resolve” the problem in a “manly” way ◔_◔ (a.k.a. beating Zheng Chu in the ring even when he didn’t defend). I’m not justifying Zheng Chu for slapping Tang Guo Guo, but I think I would have done something similar even if I wasn’t in love with Su Mang. After all, Tang Guo Guo was behaving rudely, not caring about Su Mang’s pregnancy. There are limits that shouldn’t be surpassed, and shaking or shouting to a pregnant woman surely is one. What’s more, he said to Zheng Chu that if someone had to teach manners to his sister, that person should be him; but all he does is spoil her.

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Tang Ming, tricked by Chen Shan Shan and thinking he slept with her, even got to the point of accepting to marry her (fortunately, he learnt the truth before the marriage took place)

As for the “love triangle”, someone could say that everything is Chen Shan Shan’s fault, but the decisions made in the end are only Tang Ming’s. Chen Shan Shan’s intentions are obvious since the beginning: she is clearly flirting with him, inviting him to her home, asking him to pretend to be her boyfriend, talking about his parents and their impression of her… Everything is evident but Tang Ming keeps giving her hope. When Chen Shan Shan acknowledged that Tang Ming finally chose her sister, she threatened to suicide. Yan Xiao Qiu gave up on Tang Ming in order to protect her sister’s life, and Tang Ming, even in a situation as delicate as that, still went with the flow (something that can be translated into giving more hope to Chen Shan Shan).

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Yan Xiao Qiu is basically sunshine

Just as Zheng Chu and Su Mang, Yan Xiao Qiu (Gao Yang) absolutely won my heart. She comes from a dysfunctional family that eventually tore apart: her mother, unable to bear father Yan’s addiction to gambling and substances as alcohol and drugs, left their home with Chen Shan Shan. Before leaving, she asked Yan Xiao Qiu to go with them, but she decided to stay, stating that she believed he could change. Those word were actually what made father Yan change. Some years later, her mother died, leaving Chen Shan Shan on her own. Since then, father Yan is deeply sorry and craves to recover his relationship with her little daughter.

Yan Xiao Qiu is a very talented jewel designer, but due to her “despotic” boss, she can only work as an assistant. As a consequence, many of her works are shown to the public under the name of her boss’. By chance, Tang Guo Guo is hired as the model to wear her jewels and they became friends. Additionally, Tang Guo Guo wants to pair off his brother with her. Yan Xiao Qiu also became friends with Su Mang and grew into a precious support and wise counselor.

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Yan Xiao Qiu deserved so much more

I was incredibly sad when Yan Xiao Qiu’s father asked her to give up on Tang Ming (after Chen Shan Shan lied saying that Tang Ming was her boyfriend), but admired her even more when she dealed with the heartbreak so maturely. She cares genuinely about people surrounding her, but she also defends her values and convictions. Therefore, Chen Shan Shan and her father’s pressure wouldn’t make her give up on Tang Ming because he isn’t anyone’s trophy or property. I would also describe her as an optimistic person who loves and respects life. Her smile felt like it could pass on the screen.

(MAJOR SPOILER) When the accident occured, I thought the writers were making her slip into coma (anything that would encourage Tang Ming), but I was truly impressed when they announced her death (and that it wasn’t any dream or some kind of mistake). It caught me by surprise and I both loved and hated that twist. Even dead, Yan Xiao Qiu left the best to her loved ones. In other words, her legacy remained after death. Her path through the world accomplish to make everyone’s life better.

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Ma Qiu Zi plays the role of Chen Shan Shan, our main “antagonistic”

Chen Shan Shan (Ma Qiu Zi) is the typical antagonistic of every love triangle. She induces dissension and creates conflicts between Tang Ming and Yan Xiao Qiu, all while she pretends to be sweet and innocent. Besides this, I think her character doesn’t really make sense. She was inflexible about forgiving her father or having any kind of relationship with Yan Xiao Qiu, but when her sister died, she changed radically, crying and lamenting her death. Maybe it was in that moment when she realized how much Yan Xiao Qiu meant for her, but it was such a drastic and self-centred change that it just made me dislike her even more. Also, I’m neither accepting all her final regrets, I could be happy for her but everything felt too forced.

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I think Zheng Mei Ling’s voiceover actress sounded strange

Regarding to Zheng Chu’s auntie, Zheng Mei Ling (Irene Wan), I was a little annoyed by how she constantly changed her mind about Su Mang and Zheng Chu’s relationship. It was contradictory how she was presented as a strong female figure but couldn’t really accept Su Mang if her child wasn’t Zheng Chu’s.

I’m adding a final note referring to Fei Yi (Andrew Lien), another Su Mang’s suitor. I was sorry by his past (a beloved wife who died while giving birth) and really think he deserved to have his own happy ending. Sometimes he was quite bothersome, like out of place (but mainly because we all knew that Su Mang was meant to be with Zheng Chu).

Note: Also, right before CTOTSY, I watched Remembering Lichuan, series in which Andrew Lien played a wonderful role. It was strange to see him in CTOTSY with a different dubber.


Conclusion:

Although it has some questionable scenes involving quite annoying characters (*cough* Tang Ming *cough*), the main leads and characters as Yan Xiao Qiu make CTOTSY absolutely worth it. I also believe that people can learn a lot from every character’s story and the way they face obstacles.

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The writers made the clever decision of revealing the truth (Su Mang’s child is Zheng Chu’s) for the public since the very first episode. If they haven’t done that and revealed everything in the end like a plot twist, it would have felt too forced (like a hurried solution to pair our leads together).  Besides, the cast did a wonderful job, the actors achieved to make the story vivid and credible (especially in the case of Zhu Ya Wen and Wang Li Kun).

CTOTSY is a sweet ode to love: how love inspires people to even cross oceans.  I highly recommend it if you are searching for something lighthearted, with the fair amount of drama and comedy.

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  • Plot: 19/20
  • Cast: 19/20
  • OST: 7/10
  • Scenography: 10/10
  • Costume: 10/10
  • Overall: 9.3/10

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