Chinese Dramas Airing in Jan/Feb 2024
[Script from our Feb 1, 2024 Drama Updates Episode]
仙剑奇侠传4 仙剑四 Chinese Paladin 4, The Legend of Sword and Fairy 4
1月17日 爱奇艺 鞠婧祎、 陈哲远 古装
Finally, after much anticipation Chinese Paladin 4 or The Legend of Sword and Fairy 4, starring 鞠婧祎, 陈哲远 finally began airing on Jan 17. This 36 episode drama began airing on iQiYi.
Here’s a quick plot summary. 19 years ago, the 琼华 sect manipulated two swords to cast a net on the monster realm in order to steal valuable power, thus causing a war between human and monster. Two pupils of the sect 云天青和夙玉 chose to leave the sect due to differences in philosophy. They arrived at 青鸾峰 and gave birth to a son 云天河. 夙玉 died shortly after and her husband died a few year later, leaving 云天河 to grow up alone in the mountain. One day, 云天河 encounters a mysterious young woman 韩菱纱 who trespassed on his parents tomb. She’s after a unique sword in 云天河’s posession. Without much persuasion, 云天河 agrees to leave the mountain in search of answers surrounding his parents. On the way, the encounter another young woman 柳梦璃 and a young pupil of the 琼华派, 慕容紫英. The 4 head off on a adventure, but in doing so unravel painful mysteries of the past and are forced to confront the evil forces threatening to destroy the world.
The source of this drama comes from the game chinese paladin 4 so there’s a lot of history there. This is also the first main Chinese Paladin drama series to come out since 2009‘s Chinese paladin 3. The reason why this drama was SO highly anticipated is because Chinese Paladin and Chinese Paladin 3 were smash success in their day and launched the careers of so many A-listers including Hu Ge, Liu Yi Fei, Yang Mi, Liu Shi Shi, Huo Jian Hua, and Tang Yan. Honestly, if it wasn’t for Chinese Paladin, we wouldn’t get today’s Blossoms Shanghai. Every one of the main cast for those two dramas became household names and still hold a lot of sway in the Chinese entertainment industry.
When this drama began filming, everyone online was pondering whether or not its leads will also become the next top idols. For this drama, we have the pretty controversial 鞠婧祎 and the up and coming 陈哲远 to star in the leading roles of 韩菱纱 and 云天河. If the drama did well, then perhaps, 陈哲远 would be the next 王鹤棣 and 鞠婧祎 would squeeze squarely at the top of the 90 flowers.
This drama has been out for about a month and let me say that this drama has been everything BUT a hit. I watched around 5 episodes of this drama and can completely understand it’s been such a dud. This drama cost a whopping 300M RMB, convert that to US dollars that’s around 45M USD but I wouldn’t know it from what I saw. The CGI is decent but the production seems cheap with its very fake sets. The costumes aren’t great and there aren’t really many known actors or actresses in this drama. The leads have very little chemistry and 陈哲远’s acting is quite wooden. I feel like his voice actor is doing all the work for him. I’d rather be staring at 慕容紫英 instead, at least Mao Zi Jun is much more handsome AND has better acting. There was one review online that I agreed with in that they said – this just feels like child’s roleplay. There’s nothing intriguing about it. I’ll try to watch a few more episodes, but honestly, this is a pass and such a waste of a good IP.
祈今朝 Sword and Fairy
1月18日 腾讯视频 许凯、虞书欣 古装
Meanwhile, Tencent decided to create a battle for the Chinese Paladins by airing Chinese Paladin 6 the day after Chinese Paladin 4. it’s now called 祈今朝 or Sword and Fairy. This 36 episode drama started airing on Jan 18 on Tencent featuring Xu Kai and Yu Shu Xin. 许凯 plays 越今朝 while Yu Shu Xin plans 越祈。 Both of them woke up without memory of their past and spent the last 3 years together as siblings traveling the world, hoping to find some clues about their past. The two find themselves embroiled in various oddities including a cult called 启魂圣宗 and the blood sacrifices of the Luo family. A fight against the cult unexpectedly removed the seal that locked away Yue Qi’s memories and emotions. The pair meet a number of interesting people on their journey of uncovering their true identities.
And sadly, this drama has also not done well. Popularity index wise, on Tencent this drama just breached 24000. That is a miss for Xu Kai and an even bigger miss for Esther Yu. Esther Yu’s fans might be following the drama but this did not click with broader audiences. There isn’t as much drama between the cast members as there is with Chinese Paladin 4 which is good and the main cast are still even doing live streams together to promote the drama. Now I tried watching both Sword and Fairy and Chinese Paladin 4. It is easy to see that this is a better drama in terms of production quality but it still is’t my cup of tea. I might right a short review of this but I can’t get past the first 3 episodes. My main gripe is Esther Yu’s voice. It wasn’t a problem as much in Love Between Fairy and Devil nor was it a problem in Journey to You. In Chinese, she’s been said to talk with a 夹子音 or a high pitched tone. She didn’t do that in Journey to You and spoke normally but is amping it up fully for this drama, Sword and Fairy. It’s highly grating to my poor ears and sadly a turnoff.
The joke around this is that Tencent has Chinese paladin 6 or Qi Jin Chao while iQiyi has Chinese paladin 4. But Youku just made CHinese paladin 1 and 3 available for free so these platforms are all getting in the fray.
1月20日 江苏卫视 杨紫、范丞丞 青春
Another surprise dud has been 杨紫‘s new drama, 要久久爱 or Love Endures. To her credit, this drama is airing on network television so that’s plus one for her. It started airing on Jiang Su television on Jan 20 and is 32 episodes long. It is also airing on Youku. This modern day drama features Yang Zi and Fan Cheng Cheng as leads. Yang Zi plays 黄瀛子 while Fan Cheng Cheng plays 蒋翼. In their group of 7 friends, in high school they all helped each other work towards attending college in Beijing. But as they grew up, this group of friends started fading apart. Ten years later as they’re all now battered in adult society, 黄瀛子 decides to reunite her friends and help answer the question of who did you like at 17.
杨紫 came off a huge success this summer with Lost You Forever season 1 but this drama, Love Endures failed to click with audiences. On tv ratings charts, it does not even break into the top 10. However, this drama did break 10,000 on YouKu’s popularity index so perhaps online fans are watching it. THough admittedly there isn’t even as much online commentary that I’ve seen at least for this drama compared to the 2 Chinese paladin dramas. I haven’t watched it but the general commentary has been that she doesn’t have chemistry with her male co-star and that she doesn’t look the part of a high school student when in various flashbacks.
黑土无言 Frozen Surface
1月10日 腾讯视频 陈建斌、胡军、邓家佳 悬疑
Here’s a crime drama starring 陈建斌 and 胡军 called 黑土无言 Frozen Surface. The 12 episode drama began airing on Jan 10 on Tencent.
Here’s the premise: In the small town of Lan He in the northeast province of Dong Bei, 3 sudden deaths have sent the town reeling. All 3 died in different ways. Captain 关宇 quickly assembled a team to begin the investigation. As his team search for clues, different suspects catch their attention. From the newly released from prison 杨四, to 杨四’s stepson who has complicated relationships with 2 of the victims, several others. It’s a race against the clock to solve these murders.
I really liked 陈建斌’s previous crime drama 13 years of dust so I’ll give this one a go. I haven’t heard much buzz on this but I’ve watched 陈建斌 and 胡军 for so many years that I’ll be glad to see them back on screen.
阿麦从军 Fighting for Love
1月31日 爱奇艺 张天爱、张昊唯、王瑞昌、杨童舒 古装
This drama was filmed in 2021 so it’s been a while since it finally is reaching audiences. Zhang Tian Ai plays the title female general 阿麦. Daughter of the Duke of Jing in the Southern Xia kingdom, Ai Mai’s entire family was killed by 陈起，a male friend who grew up with her. Several years later, the young woman disguised herself as a man in order to seek revenge against Chen Qi. In a lucky encounter, A Mai saves the son of a Princess, 商易之 and helped him escape sticky situations several times.
War arrives. A Mai disguises herself once again to join the army. Afterwards, she uses her skills to win many battles and earn many accolades. She ultimately becomes General Mai. This story is about her personal growth on the battlefield and her relationship with 商易之。
Kind of like a Mulan story. I have a soft spot for Zhang Tian Ai and therefore will be watching this drama. Hopefully it’s good. I don’t think there’s too much buzz around this drama given that Zhang Tian Ai hasn’t been in that many projects of late but I enjoy her on screen presence so this will be a chase for me!
在暴雪时分 Amidst a Snowstorm of Love
2月2日 腾讯视频 吴磊、赵今麦、王星越、代斯、丁笑滢、王润泽 都市
Last but not least – Amidst a Snowstorm of Love 在暴雪时分 has been announced and will begin airing on Feb 2nd on Tencent. This 32 episode drama stars the very beautiful cast of Wu Lei and Zhao Jin Mai. Wang Xing Yue’s also in this drama. I swear, he’s everywhere.
Anyways – this drama is based of a very popular book by 墨宝非宝. She wrote the original book or was screenwriter for several popular dramas including 步步惊心 Startling with each step, 何以笙箫默 My Sunshine, 烈火如歌 The Flame’s Daughter, 亲爱的热爱的, go go squid, 周生如故 One and Only
Retired genius snooker player 林亦扬 and populer 9 ball player 殷果 have a chance encounter after being stuck in a blizzard. The two gradually get closer and 殷果 learns of 林亦扬’s past. During a champion snooker game, 林亦扬 disagreed with the referee’s ruling. He was banned from the competition. In response, 林亦扬 announced his retirement. It was only after meeting 殷果 did 林亦扬 reignite his passion for Snooker and the two together climb to greater heights in their careers.
The biggest draw for this drama is that it was filmed on location in Finland! It’s very rare for chinese productions to be filmed abroad and this was one of the first to do so after covid restrictions were lifted in late 2022. I remember seeing all of the fan photos of them filming in Finland and the snow scenes were absolutely stunning! Hopefully this will be a hit for both of them cause these two are pretty well respected in the industry despite being so young!