The Blood of Youth (2022) 少年歌行
Summary: An aspiring young wanderer Lei Wu Jie 雷无桀 ft Ao Rui Peng 敖瑞鹏 from the House of Lei is traveling to the great Snow Moon City but finds himself accidentally at an the Falling Snow Inn instead. He accidentally destroys much of the inn after an encounter that turns rough and falls into debt with the mysterious owner of the Inn, Xiao Se 萧瑟 ft Li Hong Yi 李宏毅.
Lei Wu Jie reluctantly brings Xiao Se along on his journey to pay off his debts. They meet another young man Tang Lian 唐莲 ft Li Xin Ze 李欣泽 who is traveling with and protecting a golden coffin. They encounter many members of various martial arts houses, sects, and factions all fighting to obtain the contents of the coffin. This is a story of brotherhood, loyalty, and love as the young generation takes up the new Jiang Hu.
This is based off of the book 少年歌行 by 周木楠 and an animated series of the same name
Total Episode Count: 40
Initial Airing Date: Dec 26, 2022
Initial Score: 6.8/10 – An ambitious martial arts drama adaptation, the story moves at a brisk pace and weaves together multiple storylines of different martial arts factions, houses, and sects. The young leads are somewhat overshadowed by the star studded supporting cast but the solid story, impressive CGI, and intriguing mysteries make this an pleasant watch.
I honestly had no idea what to expect with this drama and decided to start this due to the free time from winter holidays. I’m currently at episode 12.
This is a martial arts drama that focuses on 3 main characters, each with a unique background from different martial arts houses or sects (门派). They each have their mysteries, skills, and goals and it’s fun to follow on the journey as we begin to learn about their backgrounds and how they are connected to the larger Jiang Hu and even royal court. The characters travel to unique cities and locations that have different martial arts specialists and our heroes must defeat or grow with each encounter. It is a refreshing departure from the usual romantic dramas or fantasy dramas that are all the rage. It’s an admirable attempt but there are several points that leave me wanting.
The plot moves extremely fast, which is both a positive and negative. The positive is that we don’t waste time deliberating on pointless arguments or conflicts. The story moves quickly to the next location or the characters need to reach the next martial arts level. It’s kind of like a video game. You beat the quest, then move to the next quest, with some side quests thrown in the mix.
The negative is that the world building is also extremely fast in this drama and requires a lot of commonly known martial arts tropes that might make it difficult to follow for non-martial arts fans. For example, the House of Tang, which is where Tang Lian hails from, typically is proficient in poisons and hidden weapons (think hidden daggers or needles). This is known in Chinese culture and authors / dramas typically adopt this but we don’t get that explanation in the drama. This also means that a lot of it is done through talking, like “oh, this character just reached the next level” or “oh, here’s so and so, the best master of the spear”, which typically just means that someone shows up in a flashy manner.
This also isn’t the type of martial arts drama that I grew up with, with a lot of hand-to-hand combat. It’s very CGI heavy, which seems to be the trend these days. To me, it doesn’t really feel like a martial arts drama but a fantasy drama mixed with some martial arts in it. It just doesn’t seem like the characters are in danger at any given point. At first, I was critical of the CGI because in the beginning it didn’t seem very good but it definitely improves as the drama moves along. The acting from some of the younger leads leave much to be desired, but the presence of the older actors and the intriguing storyline allows me to ignore some of the acting misses.