雪中悍刀行》新剧照:张若昀变俊美,“姜泥”为“李淳罡”撑伞- 时尚资讯(娱乐新闻网)

Sword Snow Stride (2021) 雪中悍刀行

Summary: Xu Feng Nian (starring Zhang Ruo Yun) has the reputation of being a playboy and the humiliation of Bei Liang. However, in reality, he is extremely intelligent and understands the burdens he has as the eldest son of the King of Bei Liang. 

 

 

 

Overall rating: 8/10

Initial thoughts: I’m not going to lie, I’m enjoying this a little more than Luo Yang. Why? It’s actually hilarious. The team is the same one that put together Joy of Life which was a blockbuster drama in late 2019 and you can feel some of the same beats in this drama. I don’t think it’s as good as Joy of Life but it’s thoroughly enjoyable. The early criticisms of this drama are revolved around the main female lead and also the martial arts (or lack thereof) but that does not detract from the the much better acting from the main lead Zhang Ruo Yun. There are also plenty of belly laugh inducing moments in the drama which is keeping me hooked!  

 

Full review to come!

-Karen

 

 

LuoYang (2021) 风起洛阳

Summary: Under the reign of the only female emperor in Chinese history, individuals from various levels of society team up to investigate an ever expanding web of threats that threaten the safety of the Emperor and the regime. 

The drama stars: Huang Xuan, Song Qian and Wang Yi Bo as main leads.

 

 

 

Overall rating: 7.5/10

Initial thoughts: Having watched the first 28 episodes, I can unequivocally say the production value of this drama is absolutely top notch. The long takes and action shots throughout the show reflects how much care was put into creating a living, breathing world of Luo Yang during this period. The costumes and set pieces are some of the best I’ve seen in a drama this year so that alone should be enough to push one to see the drama. I hold back on considering this a classic because the acting for at least 2 of the main characters could be improved and the storylines can sometimes be hard to follow. But that doesn’t mean this is not highly enjoyable.  

 

Full review to come!

-Karen

 

 

 

 

Novoland: Pearl Eclipse (2021) 斛珠夫人

Summary:  The young girl Hai Shi (Yang Mi) was set as bait to procure naga pearls which set off a chain of events that changed her life. 

Following the death of her father and her escape from soldiers threatening her family, she is taken by Fang Zhu (William Chan) to train in the capital as a man and his student. 

As Hai Shi grows up, she must balance her love for Fang Zhu and the threats to the Empire. 

 

 

Overall rating: 6.5/10

An engaging mystical setting, strong visual effects, high quality production value and a relatively strong secondary cast makes for a fun show that unfortunately is set back by a lackluster script and cliched, often forced conflict.

As a fan of Yang Mi for more than a decade, I gave this drama a shot immediately because, well, it’s Yang Mi. I’ve watched every historical drama of hers in the last 10 years and am always rooting for her to do well. This drama only has a 5.2 rating on DouBan which I personally think is a little low but that does not mean it is not popular. On Teng Xun or QQ which has sole airing rights to the drama, the show hit 300million+ hits by the series finale. On Weibo, every day the show aired and even in the days immediately after its finale, there were plenty of top posts trending from the drama. 

Yang Mi and Chen Wei Ting/William Chan participated in a couple rounds of marketing where they did photo shoots together and live streamed to promote the show which was fun to view as Yang Mi and William Chan worked together years before in Gu Jian Qi Tan (Sword of Legends).

The biggest surprise actually came in the relationship between secondary characters Emperor Xu and his concubine, Ti Lan. 

 

Story: Set in a mythical land, the young girl Ye Hai Shi (Yang Mi) was set as bait by her father to procure naga pearls, tears of Chinese mermaids. Young Hai Shi was saved by the mermaid after her father tried to kill her for those pearls which led to Hai Shi being bestowed a special connection to the mermaid. 

Upon returning to her village, she sees the village threatened by soldiers seeking the naga pearls. In trying to escape the attack, she is saved by a passing Fang Zhu who takes her to the capital. There, she grew up as a boy and trained with her adoptive brother, Fang Zhuo Ying, to become a bodyguard for the Emperor Xu. 

As Hai Shi and her brother grow up, they help their teacher, Fang Zhu, who in reality is Fang Jian Ming, the Duke of Qing Hai and the Emperor’s best friend, complete missions to protect the Emperor and the Zheng Empire. 

Main characters:

Fang Hai Shi (played by Yang Mi) – Originally from a pearl harvesting village, she became the student of Fang Zhu after her village was threatened by soldiers. In the capital, she trained to become an elite bodyguard for the Emperor as a man but also slowly developed feelings for Fang Zhu. 

Fang Zhu/Fang Jian Ming (played by William Chan) – The Emperor’s most trusted advisor and best friend, Fang Zhu is the Duke of Qing Hai and responsible for the safety of the Emperor. Due to previous tragedy, Fang Zhu and the Emperor are linked by an ancient bond to keep the Emperor’s line safe. 

Emperor Xu (played by Xu Kai Cheng) – The Emperor of the Zheng empire who lost his beloved wife, Zi Zan, during a coup that also killed two of his brothers. Post the tragedy, Emperor Xu became easy to angry as his grief could only manifest inwardly. 

Ti Lan (played by Chen Xiao Yun) – Princess from Zhu Nian sent to the Zheng Empire to marry, she is the spitting image of her sister Zi Zan. This triggered the Emperor’s grief and therefore suffered heavily at his hands.

Fang Zhuo Ying (played Wang Sen ) – Another student of Fang Zhu and adopted older brother to Fang Hai Shi, he also grew up in the Capital to serve the Emperor. In reality, he is royalty from a northern clan.

Zhi Liu (played by Yuan Yu Xuan) – A young woman in charge of palace embroidery, she and Fang Zhuo Ying developed feelings for each other. But before they could express their affections, Zhi Liu suffered a devastating blow due to an attack in the palace.

 

What I liked:

Emperor Xu’s realistic portrayal of inwardly manifested grief. 

Di Xu to me is one of the most interesting characters in the drama. He is the centerpiece which all of the other characters revolve around. As a young prince, he had a best friend in Fang Jian Ming and a doting wife in Zi Zan, a princess from the neighboring nation of Zhu Nian.  There was not a whole lot more he wanted. 

But all of that changed during the Coup of Prince Yi which caused the death of Fang Jian Ming’s entire family and the death of Zi Zan who was pregnant at the time. Emperor Xu was also gravely injured which forced Fang Jian Ming to enact the Bai Xi ritual in order to save his life, thereby connecting the two lives forever. 

Stricken with grief over the death of his beloved wife and unborn child, Di Xu, who ascended the throne after the death of his two brothers involved in the coup, became suicidal and explosive with anger. He was snide and condescending to pretty much everyone around him. In essence, he is a man who lost his entire family and is a burden to his best friend but must take on the role of Emperor. 

This all came to a head when Zhu Nian, the nation where Zi Zan came from, sent her younger sister to marry him to continue this alliance between the two empires. But, this younger sister, Ti Lan, is a spitting image of Zi Zan. 

In any other drama, I could see Di Xu suddenly fall in love with this sister, Ti Lan, simply because she looks like his lost love and then be manipulated because the nation of Zhu Nian must have known what the were doing sending Ti Lan. Instead, in Pearl Eclipse, the Emperor fully knows that the two are not the same. So instead, he is extremely explosive towards her and punishes her often times without her knowing why. It’s simply because she reminded him of his tortured past. 

Now, in absolutely NO WAY should any woman EVER accept a man who puts his hands on her so that portrayal by the Emperor is NOT to be condoned. A lot of what he did would be enough to put him in jail by today’s standards but I appreciate that the Emperor is extremely clear headed knowing these two are entirely different people. This is also a portrayal of a man who clearly never processed his grief and let it manifest inwardly which led to his explosiveness. This paved the way for the Emperor to develop his feelings for Ti Lan that may have been influenced by Zi Zan but is still independent of her. That’s actually more respectful of Ti Lan than if he pretended she was someone else.

The Emperor is further complicated by the fact that while he does want to die to be with his wife, he feels a sense of responsibility to his people to be at least, a decent Emperor who provides for the people.  It’s difficult to see at first because the earlier episodes are all about him being abusive towards Ti Lan but when it comes to court and his job, he takes it very seriously. 

After realizing that he’s grievously hurt Ti Lan as a direct result of his grief, he learns that his anger stems from wanting to feel again but also not wanting to feel because of memories of the past. Once he moves past his grief and accepts that he must walk out of the past, he becomes a doting and loving husband once more, this time to Ti Lan. 

Supportive Friendships – (1) Emperor Xu/Fang Jian Ming, (2) Fang Hai Shi and Fang Zhuo Ying, (3) Fang Hai Shi and Ti Lan

Fans and marketing focused too much on the couples of this drama but I don’t think emphasized the extremely supportive friendships showcased in Pearl Eclipse. And by friendships, I think they’re more like brotherhoods and sisterhoods. These relationships stayed true throughout the drama which was incredibly refreshing and heartfelt. 

Emperor and Fang Jian Ming – these two grew up together and went through hell and back. Sure, Fang Jian Ming always felt a level of guilt for his actions that led to Zi Zan’s death and therefore dedicated his life to the Emperor, but the two often only need a glance or a motion towards one another to signal that something is afoot and either action or inaction is needed. This level of understanding is what makes the Emperor so complicated. He needed anger management but trusted Fang Jian Ming with his life. 

Fang Hang Shi and Fang Zhuo Ying – These two were both adopted by Fang Jian Ming to train together as teens. I personally loved their sibling interactions with each other. Zhuo Ying always looked out for his younger sister who the world thought was a man but only he and Fang Jian Ming knew the truth. Their sibling banter were some of the funniest dialogue in the drama and it seemed so natural. Who doesn’t want to have a big brother like Zhuo Ying?

Ti Lan and Hai Shi – Ti Lan knew from the very beginning that Hai Shi was a woman after ill placed hands on Hai Shi during a harrowing escape revealed the truth to Ti Lan. Though their stations were quite different, Hai Shi tried to look out for Ti Lan while she could and Ti Lan did the same. When the two ended up in the imperial harem together, their open conversations as sisters were incredibly satisfying as there was no hidden agenda between the two of them, just sisters looking out for each other and wanting the best for each other. 

 

What I didn’t like:

Fang Hai Shi/Fang Jian Ming’s back-and-forth relationship

Ok. Yang Mi, I love you, but the chick you portrayed needs to just CHILL.  Hai Shi has the hots for her teacher, which fine, but she is refused by him multiple times and she STILL does not relent. Every time she DOES give up, Fang Jian Ming does something that makes her think he actually does have feelings for her and returns to him. This level of stubbornness is generally not attractive.

He also needs to be more heartless in his refusal of Fang Hai Shi. Maybe I paid too much attention to Di Xu and Ti Lan’s relationship that I never felt the love Fang Jian Ming felt for Hai Shi was as natural. Is it just because they spent a ton of time together?

 

In any case, I thought the relationship was rather forced, or at least the drama was rather forced. There have been plenty of dramas where communication was the antidote to all problems and so the miscommunication and secrets in this drama seemed like it was too cliche. 

It did seem like there was tension for tension’s sake because that’s what tugs at heartstrings. 

 Acting – 

I’m probably going to be pummeled over the head with this but I thought that out of everyone in the drama, Yang Mi’s acting was the most problematic. Perhaps it’s because she didn’t use a voice actress this time which is commendable but for most of the drama, I just felt that I was watching Yang Mi say her lines. There were several instances throughout the drama where this was abundantly clear and a perfect example is when Hai Shi has a conversation with Ti Lan towards the end of the drama. The two women are chatting as good friends but when Hai Shi gets up to leave, everything she says is like she’s saying memorized lines. There’s not a whole lot of emotion. 

I don’t know, I feel like everyone else’s acting I could get into but Yang Mi, for the most part, I just saw Yang Mi. Not Fang Hai Shi. Her previous roles were much better in this regard.

 

Summary: Overall, I at least “chased” this drama to the end and still watched the drama through its entirety. That’s more than can be said about a few other dramas this year where I tried to watch it and gave up. You can tell the cast and crew put effort into trying to make this drama look good and the script was also changed from the storylines from the book that this drama was based on to be more palatable to current audiences. However, I did still think this drama was lacking in perhaps heart, primarily from the main leads. I would say give this drama a go since it does feature Yang Mi whom I love though do not be hesitant to recognize that there are areas of improvement that would have made this drama into an even better one. 

 

 

 

 

 

你是我的荣耀》发海报,感谢潘粤明题字剧名_迪丽热巴

You Are My Glory (2021) 你是我的荣耀

Summary: A superstar celebrity Qiao Jing Jing (Dilraba Dilmurat) encounters her old high school crush Yu Tu (Yang Yang) while playing the mobile game Honor of Kings. What happens when they finally meet? 

Based on the book, You are my Glory from the author Gu Man (顾漫), the drama began airing in China on July 26, 2021. 

Let us know your thoughts!

-Cathy

 

Overall rating: ~ 9/10

If you want to enjoy a great rom-com drama without contrived plots, this the drama for you!

Key Highlights: 

  • A great and very faithful adaptation of the source material
  • Amazing chemistry between the two leads 迪丽热巴 (Dilraba Dilmurat) and 杨洋 (Yang Yang)
  • Great supporting cast with well known actors and actress from the Chinese entertainment industry
  • Healthy and cute love story that doesn’t shy away from adult responsibilities and personal goals
  • Unique inclusion of the Honor of Kings CGI
  • On location filming for the China’s Air and Space program in the Gobi Desert and Hai Nan

Spoilers below!

Story: Superstar celebrity Qiao Jing Jing 乔晶晶 is the brand spokesperson for the megahit game Honor of Kings. While practicing the game, she reconnects with her old high school crush and aerospace engineer Yu Tu (于途). The drama follows the two as they fall in love and overcome professional and personal struggles to finally become each other’s glory.

The drama begins with someone leaking a video of Qiao Jing Jing playing rather poorly in the game Hong of Glory. As the spokesperson, she needs to play the game during the Hong of Kings Awards Ceremony to redeem herself and keep the sponsorship. Unfortunately, Qiao Jing Jing is pretty bad at the game. While practicing at home, she is mistakenly added into a game by Yu Tu, her old high school crush, to play with his friends. 

Yu Tu doesn’t know it’s Qiao Jing Jing and the group continues to play a couple of matches together. Yu Tu is surprisingly very good at the game and Qiao Jing Jing decides to asks Yu Tu to become her personal coach for the game to prepare for the Awards Ceremony. Qiao Jing Jing invites Yu Tu to meet in person and the two begin a relatively professional coach / student relationship.

The story progresses as the two get to know each other better. Qiao Jing Jing’s feelings for Yu Tu resurface and Yu Tu, surprisingly, begins to have feelings towards Qiao Jing Jing too. 

During this time, Yu Tu is taking a break from his job as an aerospace engineer at China Aerospace Science and Technology. He’s reevaluating his professional aspirations as he has to face the reality that his career would not allow him to support his loved ones financially or even have time to spend with them. He turns his sights towards Investment Banking. 

Yu Tu decides to return to his job but in doing so, believes that he cannot take care of Jing Jing and rejects her. Shortly after, he regrets his decision and spends some time trying to win her back.  

The two finally decide to together and we see their cute and loving relationship blossom into one in which both Qiao Jing Jing and Yu Tu support each other to achieve their goals. Not gonna lie, I did tear up in certain parts of this drama. The drama ends with a very inspiring launch of the satellite that Yu Tu leads at the Wenchang Space Launch Site in Hainan, China

Thoughts:

Pros: This is a great drama that gets a lot right!

Plot The drama rightfully focuses the attention to the two main leads Qiao Jing Jing and Yu Tu. Qiao Jing Jing is a superstar actress but she is willing to put in the hard work to prove to the naysayers and to her fans that she is deserving of their praise. She is extremely intelligent and has a very positive outlook on life. She is like a sun that shines brightly and gives warmth to those around her. Yu Tu is the brilliant ambitious aerospace engineer that is somehow good at everything but in the face of real life woes a.k.a. money, he still has to make difficult choices.

It’s refreshing to see a drama that doesn’t belittle anyone’s profession and actually shows that jobs require effort. Qiao Jing Jing is a professional actress and makes sure she is always ready for her roles. She also takes her sponsorships seriously. Yu Tu is an aerospace engineer that works overtime with his teammates to solve problems. How many dramas have I seen where the main leads are CEOs of a company but somehow are never in the office? I can actually clearly see that these two people got to where they are in life because they worked for it. There’s also no contrived plots with ex-boyfriends / girlfriends. Everyone behaves as adults and solves issues as adults. There are some really great friendships in the drama too and we see people actually supporting each other.

This is one of the first shows to really showcase China’s aerospace capabilities and it is clear that the drama did their research on the subject of aerospace. The author Gu Man is also the screenwriter of the drama. She made several trips on location and requested reviews of the script with senior aerospace engineers to make sure the story made sense. It’s rare that a show does this level of homework and I’m glad it did. 

  

Casting: This is probably one of the best casted Chinese dramas in years. Why do I say this?  The drama cast some very well known actors and actresses that are leads in their own respective dramas so the fact that Tencent was able to assemble this cast is very impressive! I don’t think there’s a bad apple of the bunch!

Let’s start with 乔晶晶 Qiao Jing Jing. When I read the book, the person in my head to play Qiao Jing Jing was Dilraba 迪丽热巴 and I was not the only one. She was by far and away the fan favorite to play this part when the book was completed. I couldn’t believe my eyes when it was announced that she would play this part! I’m very happy with her performance here as I believe she really brought the character of Qiao Jing Jing to life. I’m a huge fan of Dilraba and I’m grateful that she played this role. This is the 3rd time she played an actress in her career but it’s clear that Qiao Jing JIng is not like the other roles and indeed it’s not like her own self. Dilraba has really grown as an actress over the years and I’m excited to see her next roles.

Next up 于途 or Yu Tu. 杨洋 is a favored actor of from the author 顾漫 (Gu Man). He portrayed Xiao Nai in the megahit Love O2O back in 2016.  I initially was somewhat skeptical that he could separate this role from his role in Love O2O but he does a great job here. In the earlier episodes, he was able to portray the internal struggles that Yu Tu faced surrounding his job pretty well. Once the two characters get together, woo, Yu Tu turns up the notch and is a Grade A boyfriend! Overall the chemistry between the two is great! I mean two beautiful people acting as a couple? Sign me up please!

The rest of the cast includes a lot of very famous people that I actually watched dramas of growing up. Shout out to 高露, who plays the wife of Guan Zai, Yu Tu’s mentor. She is of course 林小娘 or Mistress Lin in The Story of Ming Lan. I’ve loved her work for ages and it was like a dream come true when her character and Qiao Jing Jing finally meet in the drama. 

CGI: Since this drama was produced by Tencent and Tencent also makes the Honor My Kings games, Tencent was willing to go all in on the CGI for this drama. The CGI renderings of the game characters are really good and I believe even game fans are quite happy with it. 

On Location Filming: I’m very happy that the drama decided to film on location in Shanghai, the Gobi Desert, and Hainan. These places are heavily implied in the book so it’s great to have these regions showcased in the drama. 

Faithfulness to Source Material: A+ here. Probably like 90% retention of the source material. This isn’t surprising as the author was the screenwriter for the drama. Keep this coming please!

Cons: No major cons! My main nitpick is that Yu Tu – you are an idiot for rejecting Qiao Jing Jing not once but TWICE! She should have made him work for their relationship a bit more.

Final Rambles:

I’m so happy that this drama came out this summer with the cast that it did. I’ve mentioned before but it definitely is a dream come true. It fulfilled all the requirements I had on the cast, the story, and faithfulness to the source material. I doubt we’ll actually see anything like this in the near future so enjoy this drama if you can!

Funnily enough, this whole entire drama is also quite meta. Dilraba and Yang Yang are actually the global spokespeople for WeTv and Tencent Video. Dilraba is the game spokesperson for 和平精英 or Game for Peace, another Tencent game. Dilraba is also a superstar celebrity in China with a growing name recognition worldwide. That’s partially why she was such a fan favorite. Who else should play Qiao Jing Jing other than an actual superstar actress? You’ll notice that a lot of the photos of Qiao Jing Jing in the drama are of Dilraba’s actual other media campaigns. 

I’ll be happy to ramble on about this drama for many many more posts. Until next time!

-Cathy

 

 

 

Review: Song of Youth (2021) 玉楼春 

Summary: Set in the Ming Dynasty, this drama portrays the relationship struggles in the wealthy Sun family. 4th son Sun Yu Lou falls in love with the daughter of a executed minister, Lin Shao Chun and is determined to marry her. After solidifying their relationship, the drama turns to the other struggles within the Sun family to often times hilarious effect.

 

 

 

Overall rating: 7/10

Overall thoughts: The costumes, set design and soundtrack are some of this drama’s best features as it had me hooked in the Ming dynasty setting which I have historically found to be rather bland. The secondary characters also outshone the main leads as they brought additional depth and color to the story. Overall, a fun, casual drama to watch.

This is a drama by YuZheng who helmed the popular The Story of Yanxi Palace and the Gong (Palace) series. It’s clear that since he found success in the Story of Yanxi Palace, he’s hoping to capture the same success in subsequent dramas by having special care on costume and set design as well as having a no-nonsense female lead. It wasn’t the runaway success that YuZheng hoped but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s overall a feel good drama with some heartbreaking moments but for the most part is quite satisfying and easy to watch. It’s not overly memorable but does have a lot if interesting history portrayed throughout the drama that I appreciated.

于正夸下海口的《玉楼春》究竟怎样?【七猫影视】

 

The main lead actress Bai Lu had a ton of screen time this year not only with this drama, but with the more popular Zhou Sheng Ru Gu (One and Only). I personally liked her better in this drama where she plays Lin Shao Chun, the daughter of a framed court minister who grew up in a Chinese theater company, hoping one day to clear her father’s name. She meets Sun Yu Lou, son of a powerful minister at court, who instantly falls in love with her. Incidentally, his father is the one who put her father in prison and caused his death. The drama revolves around their relationship and the relationship of the rest of both their family members. 

 

网评《玉楼春》最讨喜的古装美人TOP 10!白鹿第四,金晨第二,冠军是话题担当_林少春

The drama does well in minimizing conflict resulting in miscommunication and having issues resolved relatively quickly. In multiple plots against Lin Shao Chun, other dramas would have had her fight with her husband or her in-laws but in this drama she was able to avert those pitfalls through her intelligence and communication to find the real culprit behind whatever was happening. That’s what makes this drama such a satisfying one to watch. 

It’s largely low stakes as the conflicts facing Shao Chun involve helping her brother and sister-in-law repair their marriage, stop another sister-in-law from bullying her, or help yet another relative runaway from a dead marriage. These relatives are probably the most fun of the dramas I’ve seen and why I enjoyed it so much. La Mu Yang Zi who portrayed the eldest sister-in-law certainly garnered quite a few positive reviews for her portrayal in this drama.  Where the stakes do become higher aka escalate to involve the emperor, it feels like everything is in hand because most people in the drama are not portrayed as incompetent. 

Many people didn’t care for the main male lead and I totally understand why. He’s rather boring and relatively inept compared to his superpowered wife. His best attribute is his unconditional love and support but honestly, this drama would barely miss him if he wasn’t around. 

Bonus – I thought the soundtrack for this drama was absolutely lovely and have it on repeat quite a bit. The songs are entirely Chinese traditional music oriented and one song, Ren Jian, is almost ethereal. The main theme, Zi Chai Ji, I also have on repeat and it’s actually quite easy to play along with on my Zither so I’ve been doing that as well. That’s how much I liked the songs. 

-Karen