Unchained Love (2022) 浮图缘

Summary: A young concubine Bu Yin Lou 步音楼 ft Chen Yu Qi 陈钰琪 is to be sacrificed as tribute to the recently deceased Emperor. However, she is rescued as she is literally being hanged by the ruthless and powerful eunuch Xiao Duo 肖铎 ft Wang He Di 王鹤棣  from a request from the Emperor’s younger brother the Prince Fu 福王 ft Peter Ho 何润东. Prince Fu desires Bu Yin Lou for himself and tries different tactics to win her heart even though she is technically now a Dowager Concubine. At the same time , Xiao Duo finds himself drawn to the spunky, sassy, and amiable Bu Yin Lou when he finds that she is an observant and gentle woman. However, their current stations in life prevent the relationship from going any further. Xiao Duo also has another mission at the Palace that he must face alone.


This is based off of the book 浮图塔 by 尤四姐


Total Episode Count: 36

Initial Airing Date: Dec 27, 2022

Platform: iQiyi


Initial Score: 7/10 – A lighthearted comedy that shakes up the traditional romantic palace drama premise with a Eunuch falling in love with a Dowager Concubine. The leads of Dylan Wang and Chen Yu Qi make a convincing couple and are supported by a fun cast of characters. The straightforward script makes this an easy watch with little depth.

Final Score: 6.5/10 – A paper thin romantic comedy that wastes away its intriguing premise of a Eunuch falling in love with a Dowager Concubine. The main couple was constantly overshadowed by the supporting cast and overall, there was little the actors could do little to save the crazy storylines and ridiculous ending.




Initial Thoughts – Through episode 12

This is Dylan Wang’s first drama to air after his surprising success from Love Between Fairy and Devil 苍兰决. He’s paired with the lovely Chen Yu Qi, who has had several dramas air over the years but without making much of a splash. 

I was intrigued by the premise of a ruthless and conniving eunuch falling in love with a Dowager Concubine. It is a cute watch because we see Xiao Duo falling in love with Bu Yin Lou but Bu Yin Lou has no clue this is happening because well, he is supposed to be a Eunuch! According to her, eunuch’s aren’t supposed to fall in love! The shenanigans and hijinks between the two when they first meet are quite funny. Xiao Duo finds himself being jealous at other’s attention towards Bu Yin Lou despite himself. 

Xiao Duo is a dark knight in shining armor only to Bu Yin Lou, while Bu Yin Lou is the witty damsel who tries to fight against her fate but often will rely on the power and money of Xiao Duo. This just means that we do fall into some of the same romantic comedy tropes. However, in this drama, you’ll just have to really go along for the ride and not think too carefully on the feasibility on any of the plot points.

The leads do a decent enough job as the main couple of the drama and they play well off each other. However, it is jarring when almost every other character apart from the two leads uses his / her real voice in the drama. This then gives the side characters more gravitas when they’re on screen compared to the leads. This is especially noticeable whenever the Empress played by Zeng Li 曾黎 is on screen. She just commands the attention of the audience (at least for me) that not even the Dylan Wang nor Chen Yu Qi are able to do. 

Overall, it just has a much smaller scope of a drama, so we’re focused squarely on the small cast of characters. It’s enjoyable for what it is, a romantic comedy.

I’m reading the book concurrently. The drama heavily leans into the comedy aspect and avoids some more of the explicit discussions surrounding eunuchs. I’ll discuss a comparison between the drama and the book for my full review. 


Main Characters


Xiao Duo肖铎 – Dylan Wang / Wang He Di 王鹤棣

The Director of the terrifying Zhao Ding Si, he is feared throughout the Empire for his brutal and ruthless methods. He entered the palace as a lowly palace eunuch who clawed his way up to the top of the food chain, so much so that the royal family feared him. However, he has an agenda for entering the palace. This all gets upended when he unknowingly saved Bu Yin Lou. The two fall in love other but Xiao Duo must decide between her and his own revenge.

Bu Yin Lou 步音楼 – Yukee Chen / Chen Yu Qi 陈钰琪

A lowly daughter born from a concubine, Bu Yin Lou is sent to the palace to be a palace concubine. But before she was summoned for a night with the emperor, he dies. As is customary, Bu Yin Lou was supposed to be sentenced to death to serve the Emperor in the afterlife. She was saved by the Eunuch Xiao Duo on behalf of the Prince of Fu’s orders. Bu Yin Lou and Xiao Duo gradually fall in love, but she is pulled into many conspiracies at court and the imperial harem.

Mu Rong Gao Gong 慕容高巩 Peter Ho / He Run Dong 何润东

The Prince of Fu, mocking known as The Lord of the Lantern, unexpectedly finds himself thrust on the throne after the death of his older brother and only nephew. He has had a crush on Bu Yin Lou since his childhood and vows to have her as his own. As he gets more comfortable on the through, he becomes suspicious of all his subjects and begins to play political games to consolidate power

Empress Rong An 荣安皇后 – Zeng Li 曾黎

The Empress of the late Emperor. She is an ambitious woman who hails from a noble family. Xiao Duo was her confidante. After the death of the her husband, Empress Rong An immediately poisoned a rival concubine and her son to consolidate her power. She forms a secret alliance with Prince of Nan Yuan. However, she is quickly thrown out by the machinations of Xiao Duo

Tong Yun 彤云 – He Nan 鹤男

The cheerful and cute personal maid for Bu Yin Lou, she serves her master faithfully. Although somewhat naïve, she always has her master’s best interests at heart and fully supports Bu Yin Lou’s relationship with Xiao Duo. Tong Yun and Cao Chun Ang gradually develop feelings for each other as they get along.

Cao Chun Ang 曹春盎 – Wang Yue Xin 王栎鑫

A Eunuch in Zhao Ding Si and is both the godson but also confidante of Xiao Duo. As one of the few who knows of Xiao Duo’s agenda, he stays loyal to a fault. As a subordinate, he is quick-witted and capable. Bu Yin Lou’s maid Tong Yun catches his eye.



Plot Overview:

A young concubine Bu Yin Lou 步音楼 ft Chen Yu Qi 陈钰琪 is to be sacrificed as tribute to the recently deceased Emperor. However, she is rescued as she is literally being hanged by the ruthless and powerful eunuch Xiao Duo 肖铎 ft Wang He Di 王鹤棣 from a request from the Emperor’s younger brother the Prince Fu 福王 ft Peter Ho 何润东. Prince Fu desires Bu Yin Lou for himself because he has had a crush on her since their childhood when he was a student under the tutelage of her father.

There is a power vacuum during the interregnum and Empress Rong An 荣安 tries to seize power by capturing the late Emperor’s only son. She conspires with the Prince of Nan Yuan, a non royal prince, in hopes to make a puppet out of the Emperor’s son as she rules as Empress Dowager. However, her plans are unfortunately botched as the prince accidentally dies at the hand of the Prince of Fu. With no other male heir, the throne now turns to the Prince of Fu. The whole court believes that it was Xiao Duo who killed the prince, but Bu Yin Lou consoles him and tells him that she believes that he didn’t commit the crime.


Empress Rong An is banished to a buddhist temple while Bu Yin Lou is also banished to the Imperial Mausoleum to live out her days. She is actually quite happy with this development believing that she could escape the wandering eyes of the new Emperor. The newly installed Emperor constantly tries different tactics to win Bu Yin Lou’s heart even though she is technically now Dowager Concubine and off limits according to normal decorum.

Her life at the Imperial Mausoleum is quite dandy because Xiao Duo has made it clear to everyone that she is under his protection. She sees the plight of the women stuck at the Imperial Mausoleum and realizes what Xiao Duo has done for her.

Bu Yin Lou also befriends the Emperor’s younger sister, Mu Rong Wan Wan慕容婉婉 ft Guan Chang 关畅. The Prince of Nan Yuan’s younger brother Yu Wen Liang Xu 宇文良序  ft Hang Hao Tian 韩浩天 secretly enters the imperial city. After losing a match against Mu Rong Wan Wan, he falls in love with her and decides to stay and win her affection.

The Emperor, intent on having Bu Yin Lou as a concubine for himself, sends a senior maid to teach Bu Yin Lou proper etiquette. Bu Yin Lou believes that the maid was sent by Xiao Duo and, in an act of defiance, goes to learn dancing at basically a brothel. Surprisingly, she finds Yu Wen Liang Xu there as well trying to learn the ways of winning Mu Rong Wan Wan’s heart.

Xiao Duo and Bu Yin Lou finally reconcile but Bu Yin Lou still has to find a way to avoid the Emperor’s clutches. Xiao duo suggests that the two of them head south. He is on a mission of revenge and she hopes to further escape the Emperor and to see her family. During the trip, the two finally confess their love for each other, but they must decide how to face the ever more suspicious Emperor.


Overall thoughts:

The drama started out strong with an intriguing premise, a ruthless and conniving eunuch falling in love with a Dowager Concubine. We have a handsome cast with Dylan Wang and Yukee Chen and we followed the two of them trying to navigate the boundaries between a eunuch and a dowager concubine.

During my initial review, I enjoyed that it was a pleasant lighthearted watch. Bu Yin Lou as a character is an easy one to like. She’s optimistic, hopeful, quick-witted, and realistic. Rare for a protagonist these days, she comes from no money or power as the discarded daughter of a court official but that doesn’t stop her from trying to find the best in every situation. She also isn’t naïve. She’ll retaliate when push comes to shove. In this drama, we can see why both Xiao Duo falls hard for her and why the emperor once did too. 

Unfortunately, as the drama moved on, I found my attention wandering. It fell into many familiar tropes of a dark knight in shining armor, not communicating with one another because one person didn’t want to hurt another etc. The plot is paper thin and squanders its intriguing premise without exploring how love between a eunuch and a woman could work. We essentially get the following. Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. Girl finds out boy isn’t a real eunuch. Problem solved! Now they try to escape under the watchful eye of the emperor. 

It really doesn’t help that the main couple, especially Yukee Chen wastes a pretty good role. Dylan Wang is serviceable in this drama but he doesn’t not reach anywhere near his heights in Love between Fairy and Devil.

Little made sense with the plot towards the latter part of the drama, and we get a mind-boggling ending that isn’t even an ending. Fans went so far as to petition for another ending, which the platform did provide in the end. 


  • Dylan Wang and Chen Yu Qi have an easy chemistry that makes for a decent pairing.
  • Zeng Li as Empress Rong An just lights up the screen whenever she appears. Unfortunately, that’s few and far between
  • The supporting characters of Mu Rong Wan Wang, Yu Wen Liang Xu, Tong Yun, and Cao Chun Ang all make for fun and cute couples. Their acting is also quite comforting.



  • Yukee  Chen / Chen Yu Qi’s performance: Every time I see Yukee Chen on screen, I always want to give her a chance. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll surprise me with another great performance like the one she had in The Princess Weiyoung back in 2016. Alas, she has thus far disappointed me and unfortunately, this one is no different. She has been criticized for her over-the-top acting in many scenes and lack of emotion in others. Out of all the actresses in this drama, she is probably the worst. In scenes with Zeng Li, the spotlight instantly shifts towards Zeng Li despite not being the main character
  • Xiao Duo’s role as Director of Zhao Ding Si: We constantly hear of Xiao Duo as the terrifying Director of Zhao Ding Si but we rarely see him or his team in action. When they do act, it’s typically to save someone, namely Bu Yin Lou. It seemed like they were reduced to her personal bodyguards.
  • Random disposal of the bad guys: We essentially have 3 bad guys in this drama. They, however, are dispatched rather anticlimactically. Which leads me to the next point.
  • Poor plot development: Characters are given more screen time in the drama to flesh out a pretty thin source material. However, I didn’t think they added much to the overall plot. Bu Yin Lou spends a lot of time learning “skills” at a brothel but literally nothing comes of it. The Emperor, especially, became extremely creepy towards the end of the drama with his obsession with Bu Yin Lou. There’s also the blatant disregard of rules by Bu Yin Lou and Xiao Duo that I found both amusing and astonishing.
  • Waste of a premise: I truly wished that a Chinese drama would actually dive into this rather unexplored topic of love between a eunuch and woman. The drama gives many reasons as to why it would basically be a wasted life for the woman but they just hint towards the fact that it’s not everything. We do get a eunuch / woman pairing but none of these topics are explored. 
  • Voice Dubbing: This is just a nit pick. It was jarring the 3 main characters all have their voice dubbed while everyone else used their real voice. It kind of gave the impression that they weren’t up to snuff, which is weird, because they’ve all starred dramas using their real voices, so I don’t know why the post-production team decided on this

Lastly, I know I mentioned reading the book. The book itself is only 100 chapters long but it also didn’t really pull me in. The book gives us more information between Bu Yin Lou’s and Xiao Duo’s feelings towards each other but it’s also squarely focused on those two. The drama significantly expands characters roles in the drama, which I think is fine. 

All in all – if you just want a light hearted romantic comedy, here’s one for you. But, apart from fans, I doubt this will appeal to mass audiences.



Love Between Fairy and Devil (2022) 苍兰诀

Summary:  Set in a fantasy land, Xiao Lan Hua (ft Esther Yu) as a kind-hearted young orchid fairy with limited powers and no real name. (Xiao Lan Hua literally just means little orchid). She watches over the written fates of all beings. One day, she accidentally realized that her secret love, the powerful Chang Heng (ft Zhang Ling He) will be in danger and rushes over to protect him. This results in her a life changing encounter with Dong Fang Qing Cang (ft Dylan Wang), the powerful leader of the Yue (Moon) clan who had been locked away for 30,000 years.  This interaction changes the fates of all three individuals. 


Total Episode Count: 36

Initial Airing Date: Aug 7, 2022


Initial Rating: 7.5/10

Initial thoughts [18 episodes]:  This is a romance fantasy drama that is exceedingly cute. It’s actually quite popular right now only 6 days after airing and is pushing Love Like the Galaxy and Immortal Samsara onto the backburner for many viewers, myself included.  The relationship between Xiao Lan Hua and Dong Fang Qing Cang is quite natural and Dylan Wang does a pretty good job portraying the unemotional yet powerful leader of the Moon Clan who struggles with his budding emotions for Xiao Lan Hua. It’s not like this drama doesn’t fall into tropes but the first couple of episodes are hilarious because this weak orchid fairy swaps bodies with the all powerful Moon Clan leader and after the switch back, Dong Fang Qing Can realizes that every injury and emotion Xiao Lan Hua feels, he feels himself. Thus starting an amusing series of events where Dong Fang Qing Cang has to protect Xiao Lan Hua from herself while Dong Fang Qing Cang has to surpress his frustration at being tied to someone as weak as Xiao Lan Hua.  Luckily, she’s super sweet and treats him as an equal.

Final Rating: 7/10

An above average drama for this genre, Love Between Fairy And Devil started strong in the first half but was unable to carry the momentum towards the ending. That does not detract from the strong main trio of characters and an even more interesting secondary plot between the ill-fated teacher/student pair, Chi Di Nv Zi and Rong Hao. Wonderful special effects and a great original soundtrack allows me to see why this drama is loved by fans.

The Love Between Fairy and Devil or 苍兰诀 was THE breakout hit of the summer. After airing with little fanfare, the drama reached a peak popularity index during its finale of 10500. For context, most dramas would love to break 9,000 but this drama did so quite easily and continued to peak. The online platforms don’t release viewership stats anymore so it’s difficult to see exactly how many views or hits the drama has but it’s clear from the number of trending topics on weibo that this was a popular drama.  Even now, days after the finale, there are many trending topics on weibo for the drama and the main stars, especially the main male lead 王鹤棣 skyrocketed in popularity. His weibo followers increased dramatically and there’s been plenty of fan service and interaction between the main stars. 

Dong Fang Qing Cang 东方青苍

Played by 王鹤棣 or Dylan Wang – Leader of the moon clan or 月族. In this instance, instead of a demon clan, they’re called the moon clan. Imprisoned for more than 30,000 years at the hands of his foe, Chi Di Nv Zi. He is currently the most powerful being across the land.

Xiao Lan Hua 小兰花

Played by 虞书欣 or Esther Yu – She is a little orchid flower who doesn’t have a real name. She is a very young flower of just 1,500 years old and she lives in 司命殿 where she helps watch over all of the fates of each being. She is a member of the fairy clan but doesn’t have many friends because she is rather weak.

Chang Heng 长珩

Played by Zhang Ling He 张凌赫 – he is the younger brother of the current Fairy clan leader and newly named general or zhan shen 战神 of the fairy clan. He is betrothed to Xi Shan Shen Nv 息山神女 a powerful mythical woman who has gone missing for 30,000 years and so their marriage has stalled. 

Chi Di Nv Zi 赤地女子

Played by Guo Xiao Ting 郭晓婷. Another general from the fairy clan, she sacrificed herself in a ferocious battle between the fairy clan and the moon clan in order to seal away Dong Fang Qing Cang and also freeze 100,000 moon clan soldiers. She is the teacher of Rong Hao

Rong Hao 容昊

Played by 徐海乔 – Fairy clan member – student of 赤地女子 and best friend of 长珩. He was devastated at the loss of his teacher and has sought for the last 30,000 years to bring her back and now has a two different identities




Plot Overview:

Dong Fang Qing Cang was banished to a magical tower as a result of his fight against the powerful 赤地女子 from the fairy clan. For many thousands of years, the moon clan and the fairy clan fought against each other and their lives are entwined with hatred towards each other because both sides have lost loved ones in the ensuing battles.

赤地女子managed to seal away 东方青苍 by sacrificing herself and for 30,000 years there has been peace in 仙族 or the fairy clan as the Lord of the Moon clan has been banished. Fighting between the two clans has since ceased but the moon clan fell into chaos as different factions sought to gain control of the clan after 东方青苍‘s demise. 

With the big picture conflict out of the way, we are introduced to 小兰花. She is just a weak little orchid flower that watches over the fates of each being in her lonely hall of 司命殿。 Her teacher left 1000 years ago to travel leaving the young xiao lan hua all by herself.  She watches over the fates that are written on leaves of the fate tree which she helps to protect and repair if ever there is damage to them. She does have someone she likes though. The handsome 长珩仙君 or just 长珩. 长珩 saved 小兰花 when she was very young and therefore she wants to thank him personally for helping him and has always nursed this bit of gratitude or infatuation towards him. 

Her and 长珩’s fates should have been entwined but one day, when 长珩 and the other fairy lords worked together to try to reinforce the magical tower that confined 东方青苍,小兰花 foresaw that this could be the end for 长珩 due to her powers working with fates so she steps in to protect him. She blocks a blast from the tower meant for 长珩 and while he is protected, she is instead sucked into the tower.

Once in the tower, 小兰花 unwittingly restores the powerful 东方青苍 back to his human form, with a kiss no doubt, where he was before just wisps of consciousness and in the process swaps bodies with him. This is utterly unacceptable for 东方青苍 because he cannot be trapped in the body of someone so weak and feeble as 小兰花 while 小兰花 is having a blast having the enormous power of the leader of the moon clan. 东方青苍 manages to swap bodies again with 小兰花 to regain his former strength and believes all he has to do is kill 小兰花 and there will be no issues with him escaping the tower and reclaiming power again. But the twist he finds out is that the two are now bound together by some mysterious power. Any time 小兰花 is hurt, he will suffer the same injury on his body. And her emotions? He will feel them as well. If she cries, he’ll start crying. If she’s scared, he’ll start feeling scared. 

Ultimately, 东方青苍 escapes from the tower with 小兰花 and return to her place of residence and hilarity ensues. The cold, calculating and menacing 东方青苍 is subject to being 小兰花‘s personal caretaker because he has to nurse her back to health after their foray in the tower. The reason being is that 东方青苍 has uncovered the fate of a woman named 谢婉卿 that looks to be related to his mortal enemy, 赤地女子. He needs 小兰花 to repair this fate so he can see exactly what he needs to do to recover his mortal enemy so that he can release the 100,000 moon clan troops that were frozen in time and then destroy the fairy clan. But 小兰花 doesn’t care too much for restoring the fate and is too weak anyways. She also totally mishears 东方青苍’s name and just calls him 大强 rather than his real name which if she knew who he was she would have been too scared to interact with him. After all, 东方青苍’s name is known throughout the land.  But because she thinks he’s just 大强 and is a fairy who has been imprisoned for some past wrong and has nowhere to go, she takes him in. 

Thus the relationship between the most powerful being 东方青苍 and the weak 小兰花 begins. 东方青苍 has been stripped of his emotions in order to earn his strength but through his interactions with 小兰花, he is touched by her kindness, optimism, determination and thoughtfulness. He slowly starts to regain some emotions which, in this drama, is represented by a tree. At the beginning of the drama, it is a frozen tundra with no leaves whatsoever. After interacting with 小兰花 something changes in him. 

While he is experiencing some changes, we learn that 长珩 actually also likes 小兰花. He is betrothed already to someone already but after meeting 小兰花 in a chance encounter has grown attracted to this kind hearted orchid flower. She offered to protect him while no one has ever done that for him. Yet he is very respectful of his feelings towards her because he knows he is betrothed and any affection he shows towards 小兰花 could mean her demise which he does not want and does his best to protect her despite his obvious interest. 

All of this comes to a head with 小兰花 is revealed to have a different past, one different from the other fairies of the fairy clan. Despite 东方青苍 saying he does not care for 小兰花, he steps in to protect her in front of the entire fairy clan court who accused her of being a spy from the moon clan and was about to sentence her to death. Using his unique brand of fire power which turns blue, he pushes back against the fairy clan lords and takes 小兰花 with her. 长珩 steps in to try to take 小兰花 back but is easily defeated by 东方青苍. With this one battle, the future relationship between these three individuals becomes clear. 

That’s the general recap of the first 10 episodes or so. The story goes on to develop the relationship between these three individuals and also a stint into the mortal realm as they search for more answers about the fate of 赤地女子。 




Review: 7/10

One of the better romance dramas of this genre that is a fun breezy watch with some memorable moments. I have a more tempered opinion of the drama than perhaps what weibo and other fans think though I can understand the hype, especially for younger fans.  

The drama really shone in the first half, particularly at the beginning when 东方青苍 was figuring out how to interact with 小兰花. Episode 9 where 东方青苍 steps in to protect 小兰花 is one of the most badass scenes of the summer. There are plenty of cute scenes and belly laughs in the first half especially considering what the all powerful 东方青苍 is subject to in order to help 小兰花 who has no clue how to protect herself and is somehow always getting hurt. 东方青苍 and 长珩 in particular have two well written parts that make you naturally really like them as these powerful members of the moon clan and fairy clan respectively. I do believe that the two main male leads 王鹤棣 and 张凌赫 have bright futures ahead of them and were the stronger of the trio compared to 虞书欣’s 小兰花.  王鹤棣 in particular was able to showcase his acting range in this drama in ways that are subtle yet very apparent, though I don’t think he as handsome as some of the other male actors out there.

The special effects are quite good and in my opinion has come a long way for fairy romance dramas though some of the wire work for the actors could be improved. The original soundtrack especially the title song called 寻一个你 by 刘宇宁 is an instant classic and I’ve been listening to it on repeat for the last several weeks now. 

I personally really enjoyed the secondary storyline between 赤地女子 and her pupil 容昊. Let me just take a second to discuss the actors for 赤地女子 and 容昊. Both of them you could say won this year with two amazing roles in two different dramas. 赤地女子‘s actress 郭晓婷 has been on the small screen for many years, playing notable roles in both Chinese Paladin 3 as Xiao Tu Dou and also Startling With Each Step as 敏敏格格 all when she was under 18. She is a strong actress but hasn’t had good luck in notable roles for a while. But this year, she’s killed it with her role here in this drama for 赤地女子 and also in her role as 顺德仙姬 in 与君初相识 or A Blue Whisper. She is absolutely crazy but stunningly beautiful in A Blue Whisper and in this drama, portrays the ill-fated mortal woman 谢婉卿 with jaw-dropping grace. It’s hard to take your eyes off her when she is on screen. 容昊 is played by 徐海乔 who we just saw as 欧阳旭 in 梦华录 or A Dream Of Splendor where he was lauded by fans for his fanatic portrayal of the man that betrayed 赵盼儿 and then applauded him in his role here for the faithful student that suffered for thousands of years and betrayed his soul to find ways to bring his teacher back to life. For me, their storylines were the most intriguing part of the drama despite it not having too much screen time. 

But unfortunately, the drama does falter towards the end with convoluted conflicts and eye-rolling cliches and I docked 0.5 from my initial score because the drama lost momentum. 


So, if you’re looking for a fun and cute drama to watch with handsome lead actors, this is certainly a drama to try out at least for the first 20 episodes or so.  It is not a classic drama but it was an enjoyable watching experience.