Divine Destiny (2023) 尘缘
Summary:The orphan Ji Ruo Chen ft Ma Tian Yu accidentally uncovers a blue stone that had mystical powers and was thus mistaken for the heir to the spirit realm. Due to this misunderstanding, he was sent to study with the Xi Xuan clan. Through his perseverance, he quickly grew to become a leader in the spirit realm. Meanwhile, Gu Qing ft Xuan Lu quickly takes an interest in Ji Ruo Chen due to the rock and the two quickly fall in love. This causes another student Zhang Yin Yin ft Angelababy to suffer heartbreak as she was in love with Ji Ruo Chen. This drama is love triangle mixed in with different missions to save the realms.
Total Episode Count: 39
Initial Airing Date: July 2, 2023
*Note – English translations may not match official translations
Initial Rating [after 12 episodes] 6/10: A run of the mill fantasy romance drama for the summer that’s decent fodder to put on in the background. Angelababy is beautiful on screen but is still extremely wooden in her acting. Both she and Ma Tian Yu benefit from decent voice dubbing to move this drama along. The drama suffers from the ladies being too romance focused leading to rather questionable actions.
Final Rating [after 22 episodes] 5/10: A major flop by all accounts for the summer and another dent in Angelababy’s career. The story was too unoriginal and characters started off with a negative footing to keep viewers engaged. A shame because it had decent production quality. Sadly, this an utterly forgettable drama for the summer where I forgot to go back to it and then had no desire to continue.
zhang yin yin 张殷殷
Outgoing and brash, Yin Yin has always worked to become the first female leader of the Xi Xuan Clan and falls in love with Ji Ruo Chen.
ji ruo chen 纪若尘
ma tian yu 马天宇
Originally just a clerk in at an inn, this intelligent young man dreamed of learning mystical powers to become stronger. He gets his opportunity after obtaining the Bluestone.
gu qing 顾清
xuan lu 宣璐
Originally the Bluestone God, she falls in love with Ji Ruo Chen thinking he is her destined love.
yin feng 吟风
wang zhuo cheng 汪卓成
Originally a god forced to reincarnate many lifetimes after falling in love with the Bluestone God. He was killed and brought back to life to seek revenge against Ji Ruo Chen
Directly competing with next door’s The Longest Promise in the fantasy romance drama for eyeballs, this is the second drama for Angelababy that is currently airing this summer. It was filmed quite a while ago, in late 2020 to early 2021 so that means this has been “pushed down” for quite some time. Seems like the competitive nature of the summer brought all these dramas up to the forefront by various platforms. Unfortunately, Divine Destiny has not done too well popularity-wise, breaching only 7000 on iQiyi’s popularity index after a few days of airing. （Compare that with Destined breaching 10,000 easily).
Angelababy sadly only looks good on screen. There’s very limited range in her acting and I’m often wondering if it’s because she’s gotten too much work done on her face that restricts what kind of facial expressions she can make. When she’s in pain, when she’s sad or when she’s angry, there really is not a big difference in facial expression. Heaven forbid she wrinkles that porcelain face! Her acting might have improved a smidge from her prior awful endeavors in, for example, General and I or 孤芳不自赏. Luckily, her voice dub actually saves a lot of her portrayal so the experience is more enjoyable than perhaps if she used her own voice. I will be the first to applaud her for her beautiful red-carpet looks but acting wise, she still needs to step up. In any case, if the main purpose of watching fantasy dramas is enjoying the couple on screen, she at least does her part.
I’ve watched Ma Tian Yu in many dramas growing up. He was always enjoyable in those older dramas so I do have a soft spot for him. And who can forget his one hit wonder, the song 该死的温柔. Crazy to think that he is in his mid-30s but still looks pretty good. Ma Tian Yu is alright in this drama with the material he’s been given but a lot of credit also does go to his voice dub.
I somehow actually was able to get through 12 episodes of this drama. The drama moves at a brisk pace which helps. The setting, costumes and CGI are all fine. I was impressed that the secret of Ma Tian Yu’s character Ji Ruo Chen not being the real “Zhe Xian” or banished god was revealed relatively early (as in within the first 12 episodes). I half expected this to be the big reveal at the end of the drama. I appreciated that the drama established at the beginning that Ji Ruo Chen was obsessed with mystical powers and is relatively intelligent which made his transition into the Xi Xuan Clan more seamless. To be honest, the actions of the men in this drama, Ji Ruo Chen and Ying Feng make a whole lot more sense than the actions of the ladies.
My major gripes are the ladies. Both Zhang Yin Yin and Gu Qing are nonstop fighting over Ji Ruo Chen and sacrifice a lot for him. Zhang Yin Yin starts to learn demon powers in order to one up Gu Qing because she’s jealous of Gu Qing. Gu Qing in turn gives up her fairy abilities to save him. While admirable, these actions are counter to a lot of the messaging of strong independent women we’ve seen in other dramas. Additionally, Zhang Yin Yin loves to shout that she’s the eldest disciple, the top of her class blah blah blah all over the place which does get irritating. At least she gets put in her place multiple times in several fights showing she’s not as strong as she is loud. Hopefully there will be more character growth for her.
The second drama this summer I couldn’t finish. It’s just too…unoriginal. The “xian xia” or spirit clan folks are good. And you have demons that are bad. What happens when the main character who is trained to be good is actually a demon? Can love save them all? Basically all familiar story tropes for this genre. Plus, none of the main characters are all that appealing. Ji Ruo Chen killing and stealing a stranger’s identity. Zhang Yin Yin is arrogant and brash. Gu Qing is so romance focused and Ying Feng cannot handle rejection. None of these people particularly want to make you root for them.
Though, I didn’t particularly mind that Ji Ruo Chen “stole” the identity of the banished god because his deception is revealed in the first 12 episodes and he tries to make amends though I certainly see why this is not a great starting introduction to the character. My main issue here is that I don’t think the drama really made me believe why the banished god himself isn’t a good person. Like, is he wrong in wanting to take revenge against Ji Ruo Chen? Literally if Ying Feng was the main character, him going to seek revenge for what Ji Ruo Chen did would have made total sense.
This drama also couldn’t figure out if it wanted to focus on romance (small love) or humanity (big love). In one moment, Ji Ruo Chen says he wants to help his teacher to do righteous acts and help humanity but then when he realizes the return of his powers came at the cost of his love Zhang Yin Yin losing all memory of him, he immediately turns around and says no, I don’t want to help humanity, I just want Zhang Yin Yin. Ermm….So you want to have your cake and eat it too. I gave up on the drama before I found out how he made Zhang Yin Yin fall in love with her again. Lol.
Outside of issues with the drama itself, Divine Destiny was a major flop for the summer. Angelababy had 2 dramas air concurrently but both basically aired to no fanfare. Viewers had no interest in seeing her on screen in either of her dramas when better competition from other top celebs all had arguably more interesting dramas airing. Indeed, why would I watch a snooze worthy Divine Destiny when The Legend of An Le and Lost You Forever were all available to watch? How badly this drama do? Probably one of the worst viewed fantasy dramas of the year. This will certainly dent Angelababy’s star power at least in acting circles. She may soon be relegated to walking red carpets or staying on variety shows but her career is now on a downward trajectory.