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

 

 

 

《长歌行》中的永宁公主李长歌 历史上真有这个人吗?

李长歌剧照女装_万图壁纸网

The Long Ballad (2021) 长歌行

Summary: Li Chang Ge 李长歌 (Dilireba 迪丽热巴) is the daughter of the Crown Prince 李建成。Following the famous Xuan Wu Gate Coup, her father was killed by her beloved uncle, Li Shi Min or Emperor TaiZong. Vowing for revenge, she crosses paths with a young prince from the AshiLe clan, A-Shi-Le Sun 阿诗勒隼 (Wu Lei 吴磊).

On her path to revenge, Li Chang Ge recognizes the suffering the people face in this period of war and uncertainty. Recognizing that her uncle strives for peace, she, along with AShiLeSun turn their attention towards bigger threats to their respective peoples. 

 

Overall rating: 8/10 

Initial thoughts: Solid performance by Dilireba where we witness her growth as a young woman seeking personal revenge to a true princess focused on the stability and peace for her people. 

長歌行》新路透:迪麗熱巴終於出女裝,失去美顏的臉引熱議- 人人焦點

 

Full review to come!

-Cathy

 

 

 

 

小成本制作也有春天?《御赐小仵作》热度好评双丰收! –

御赐小仵作》楚楚的身份是什么楚楚的爹是谁- 历史剧- 史文斋

The Imperial Coroner (2021) 御赐小仵作

Summary: In the late Tang Dynasty, the aspiring coroner Chu Chu 楚楚 (Su Xiao Tong 苏晓彤)heads to Chang’An to take the Imperial Coroner’s exam. In the city, she meets the young but powerful Xiao Jing Yu 萧景瑜 (Wang Zi  Qi 王子奇),Prince of An Jun who currently oversees the Judiciary Branch. Intrigued by Chu Chu’s attention to detail, the two work together to solve crimes and uncover threats to the Tang empire with their group of trusted friends and family.

 

Overall rating: 9/10 

Initial thoughts: Binge-worthy drama that does not insult the audience’s intelligence. Mysteries are thoughtful and challenges understandable. A small production that has been met with rave reviews in the first half of 2021. You’ll be surprised by this show.

This rather unknown drama premiered quietly in April 2021 but quickly garnered interest by viewers. Both leads are early in their careers and the funny story is that they didn’t do much marketing for this drama as it was airing because both Su Xiao Tong and Wang Zi Qi are both in school! I remember a trending weibo post from the female lead saying she still has to write essays, no time to pay attention to much else! How adorable.

In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed the drama. Only 36 episodes, it wastes no time in getting to the conflict and it doesn’t drag out plot points unnecessarily. The story progresses organically and plot holes I would say are kept to a minimum. You can tell the production quality of the drama is on a much smaller scale than other historical dramas but that does not mean this is a low quality drama. The story, the characters and the intrigue are all top caliber. 

The drama reminds me of the US show Bones quite a bit. Had absolutely no expectation going into this show and ended up loving it. The drama is not bloody or gory which may turn people away as the topic is about evaluating dead bodies but the drama cleverly uses drawings to depict the examination scenes which I thought were done quite well.

御赐小仵作百度云资源「高清中字」更新了| 滴答网盘电影

Story:

Set in the late Tang dynasty under the rule of Tang Xuan Zong (唐宣宗) named Li Chen 李忱 who ruled between April 25, 846 – September 7, 859, this drama focuses on the partnership between a righteous and justice seeking Prince Xiao Jing Yu, and a talented female coroner from a faraway village, Chu Chu in helping uncover plots against the empire.  They are aided by the Prince’s childhood friends, Jing Yi, son of a powerful court official and Leng Yue, daughter of a renowned general, as well as the Prince’s own older brother. 

The drama begins with the imperial coroner examination taking place in the Tang capital of Chang’An where Chu Chu dresses as a man to take the exam. Her dream is to be an imperial coroner and is discovered by Jing Yi who recommends her to the prince, Xiao Jing Yu. Xiao Jing Yu heads the Judiciary Branch which pretty much means he oversees various crimes. Through the imperial examination, he sees that Chu Chu is highly talented in her skills and hires her to help him solve murders that are tied to larger plots including one against the throne (typical), fake currency, the death of Xiao Jing Yu’s father, among several others. 

御赐小仵作》萧瑾瑜身世明了,父亲是被杀害的|唐宣宗|宦官|太监_网易订阅

 

History: The reign of this Tang Xuan Zong is an interesting time to set this drama. It’s what one calls the late Tang dynasty and there are certainly cracks to the foundation of this once venerated empire. This emperor is probably one of the best in the the late Tang dynasty as he tried to correct levels of corruption that had seeped through his imperial court. One of the biggest challenges during this time, and is something the drama touches upon, is the rise in power of eunuchs. Emperors relied too heavily on eunuchs in a variety of areas which helped them to a league of their own and led to the demise of the Tang dynasty. In this drama, Qin Luan is the head eunuch that conspires to amass as much power as possible which made for a worthy adversary.   

御赐小仵作》:又糊又穷的国产剧,就靠长相平平的女主逆袭了?【七猫影视】

Why I liked the show:

  1. The main character Chu Chu is naive but not stupid. She was raised in a family of coroners which means she was looked down upon all her life for their craft.  She doesn’t have many friends but is kind hearted and loving towards her family. She is dedicated to her profession and never let her gender stop her from achieving her dreams but she keeps a pure heart. The entire drama, her primary focus is to be a good coroner. This is quite a refreshing take on the female lead. 
  2. The main male lead, Xiao Jing Yu, is a young but powerful prince with astonishing deduction abilities. He solves cases with sharp insights and is extremely learned. The most important quality trait that he possesses though, is that he respects and trusts Chu Chu fully. Even though their upbringings are backgrounds are disparate, that does not stop him from treating her as an equal.
  3. This drama made me read up on another period of history I haven’t really paid attention to. Dramas may be set in the late Tang dynasty but did not pique my interest.
  4. Everyone operates rationally. The drama avoids a lot of cliches and where there are areas of mistrust, it’s very logically and easily explained soon after. There is no overarching miscommunication that is not resolved in a convincing manner.
  5. The relationships between characters are very heartwarming. The two main female characters don’t fight and be jealous of each other but rather help support each other. That is the type of female empowerment we need. Xiao Jing You and his brother also do not fight against each other for meaningless squabbles and avoid the regular fights over titles. The older brother actually lets his younger brother take title of Prince. Even though the group is solving mysteries and fighting crime, there’s a warm fuzzy feeling to the interactions between characters.
  6. I learned what Wu Zuo meant. I never read those words in my life and now I learned that there is a specific term for Coroner in Chinese.

Overall this drama was a fun and breezy one to watch. It may not be something I return to all the time like I do The Story of Ming Lan or Empresses in the Palace but I’m so glad I watched it and highly recommend it. The writers are working on a sequel and I am eager to see the next adventure for these characters.

 

-Karen

 

 

 

 

My Dear Guardian (2021) 爱上特种兵 Review

Summary: Liang Mu Ze 梁牧泽 (Huang Jing Yu 黄景瑜) is a special forces captain who meets the young military doctor Xia Chu 夏初 (Li Qin 李沁) while both were abroad. Their initial meeting was unpleasant but fate places them together. Sparks fly as each does not back down but soon learn to respect each other’s passion for their chosen career. 

 

Overall rating: 7.5/10 

View this drama primarily for the cute romance between Li Qin and Johnny Huang and their dedication to their career.  Take this as a light-hearted drama only, not to be taken too seriously.

Premiering in June of 2021, I’ve been chasing this drama the last month and have been struck by how sweet Li Qin and Johnny Huang are both in the drama and outside of it. The show released soooo many behind the scenes/blooper clips many of which are on Youtube and it’s just too cute to watch the two interact.

DouBan, the popular Chinese drama ratings system, rates this drama rather poorly at only 4.4. I can see why people rate it this way but one cannot deny that this drama was incredibly popular this summer. It trended multiple times on Weibo (Chinese Twitter) and the stars, Li Qin and Johnny Huang also enjoyed a surge in popularity. The primary reason is because of the chemistry between Li Qin and Johnny Huang.

I’m a huge fan of Li Qin as I think she is gorgeous but Johnny Huang does a great job portraying a military captain. He is one of the few actors who is actually quite strong and does many of his own stunts. That adds to the believability of his role even though many of the conflicts that happen seem rather contrived. That does not detract from the fact that Li Qin and Johnny are great casting for these roles. 

 

Story: This is a rather classic story of two incredibly attractive people starting off hating each other, and then somehow ending up roommates, then pretending to be dating, and then actually falling in love. 

Episode 1 shows the resident military doctor Xia Chu getting experience abroad at a fictional place called Isaia. There, she runs into Liang Mu Ze and they get into a fight over something rather trivial. Once she returns to her hospital though, she is caught up in a terrorist attack and has to try to remain calm in this hostage situation. None other than Liang Mu Ze’s team comes into save the hostages but his good friend Tian Yong is injured. After this experience, the two develop disgust for each other as Liang Mu Ze does not think Xia Chu is a good soldier or a good doctor.

Once back in China, it just so happens that Xia Chu is stationed at a hospital and looking for a place to stay. Her mother says she has a friend who has an apartment she can stay at. Xia Chu happily agrees but once she walks into the apartment, bumps into none other than a shirtless Liang Mu Ze. They of course bicker but given Xia Chu has to head to the hospital, they let it go for the time being. Oh and Xia Chu randomly picked up a cute cat on the street so she’s moved in with her cat.

On Xia Chu’s side, she is focused on becoming an accomplished cardiothoracic surgeon but the sudden reappearance of a childhood friend, Zhuo Ran, starts creating tension in the drama.

On Liang Mu Ze’s side, he is a highly trained special ops soldier and spends most of his time at base but suffers from guilt over the death of his good friend 8 years ago. He and his team participate in uncovering the cause of the terrorist attack in Isaia as well as stopping a drug crime lord.

 

Thoughts:

Pros: This drama shines when it’s focused on the interactions between Xia Chu and Liang Mu Ze. Xia Chu is a hard working and intelligent doctor doing residency. She does not back down from a challenge particularly when it comes to her patients. She also is not afraid to tease Liang Mu Ze. Probably one of the funniest scenes in the show is when Liang Mu Ze bullies Xia Chu into helping him change his bedsheets and Xia Chu provides him with a full Sailor Moon set! HAHAHAHAHA.

As a Sailor Moon fan, I absolutely loved this and am quietly wondering where I can get this set for myself. Hehehe.

As the two spend more time together, they slowly develop more respect towards each other. Each is passionate about their careers as a doctor and a soldier in the Chinese military. Liang Mu Ze, in particular, trusts Xia Chu unconditionally and is always there to support her. This is probably every young woman’s dream boyfriend/husband material. Of course, though, they don’t shy away from the realities of what it means to date a soldier -lots of moving, uncertainty and even death. The first 12 episodes of this drama in particular are so sweet watching these two change their attitudes towards each other.

It is impressive to see the actors physically fit and doing real stunts in the show. It’s a different type of action compared to kungfu dramas I’ve watched and this military subject is not one I’m usually keen on viewing so it was a nice change of pace.

 

Cons: The show falls short in executing the conflict beyond the romance storylines between Xia Chu and Liang Mu Ze. Xia Chu’s childhood friend Zhuo Ran’s return to her life causes all sorts of issues as he is not simply a childhood friend anymore, but is involved in the criminal ring of a violent drug and crime lord. The show threads this story line into the show to try to create challenges that Liang Mu Ze’s team must face. Certainly, it gives a lot of rather cool scenes where Liang Mu Ze is a badass fighter but to me, that whole story line was annoying and a drag. There are incredibly heavy topics in this show which were quite odd to balance out with the super cute and bubbly interactions between Xia Chu and Liang Mu Ze.

I could not care less about Zhuo Ran’s relationship with Mi Gu, Xia Chu’s best friend. The entire time I was thinking to Mi Gu, girl, get some self respect. Same thing with the story line of Xiao Xue, Liang Mu Ze’s cousin. The drama tried to take itself too seriously which I understand. It’s a great way to showcase the sacrifices people make as doctors and military soldiers which is admirable no doubt, but because these storylines moved beyond what was available in the book, the drama fell short in landing the impact on viewers.

 

Book differences and thoughts:

So when the drama first aired the first 8 or so episodes, I was like, OK, this drama seems super cute, let me read the book the drama was based on so I binged that. The book is actually much simpler than the story lines in the drama and it’s primarily focused on the romance between Liang Mu Ze and Xia Chu. The book I felt was a romanticized view of what a military doctor and a special force’s romance would be like.

While I just commented on how I think the added conflict in the drama could have been done better, I do think it was needed to round out the characters. In the book, I couldn’t tell why Xia Chu was a particularly good doctor which the drama actually emphasizes through her actions. I’m actually glad they gave Xia Chu more independence and the ability to hold her own, rather than being primarily focused on her relationship with Liang Mu Ze. The book also I don’t think did enough to highlight some of the true conflicts involved in being a military doctor and solider which the drama helped supplement. 

Some last thoughts – watch this drama if you want something super cute between two very attractive people where the man is actually fit enough to pick up his girlfriend. Sometimes you know it’s cliche but you just like it and that’s how I feel about this drama. There are WAY too many coincidences for this drama to work in real life but Xia Chu and Liang Mu Ze are adorable together. 

 

 

-Karen

 

 

 

The Wolf (2020) 狼殿下 Review 

The Wolf premiered in late 2020 staring Wang Da Lu 王大陆 as Prince Bo 渤王, Li Qin 李沁 as Ma Zhai Xing 马摘星 and Xiao Zhan 肖战 as Ji Chong 疾冲.

Summary: The story revolves around a young boy raised by wolves who befriends the young girl, Ma Zhai Xing, in the mountains. The two promise to trust and care for each other but a false murder accusation leads to the two young friends to separate. 

Eight years later, the young wolf boy emerges as the powerful Prince Bo, adopted son of the Emperor. The Prince and Ma Zhai Xing meet once again and try to capture magic of their childhood but kingdom rivalries and family allegiances complicate this reunion. 

 

 

Overall rating: 7.5/10 

Exceeded non-existent expectations by Wang DaLu and his chemistry with Li Qin. The soundtrack is an added bonus but be prepared with tissues and for some cliches.

There was actually quite a lot of drama surrounding this drama as it was filmed in 2017 with the now astronomically popular Xiao Zhan as the secondary love interest for Li Qin. Due to an event in early 2020 where Xiao Zhan was essentially blacklisted for a while, this drama captured its opportunity to air in late 2020 and instead of airing episode by episode as we are used to, all 49 episodes dropped at once on QQ.

Many people watched this drama because they were fans of Xiao Zhan thanks to his performance in The Untamed. I personally watched The Untamed after this drama so was not fully aware of his immense fan following and watched The Wolf because I’m a fan of Li Qin. 

I would say most people agree with me that though they watched this drama for other people, they became pleasantly surprised by Wang Da Lu’s performance as Prince Bo or Bo Wang. Ratings were mixed but viewership was quite high for the show. Wang Da Lu became an instant darling and garnered many invitations to performances and reality shows. This was certainly a highlight of his career.

Why you should watch this:

  • Chemistry between Wang Da Lu’s Prince Bo and Li Qin’s Ma Zhai Xing. 
    • Wang Da Lu in particular does a phenomenal job portraying a harden young man with the wild side of being raised by wolves but softens when he’s with his love, Ma Zhai Xing
  • You’re into cute romance tropes with a sprinkle of betrayal and country allegiances
    • The episodes where Ma Zhai Xing and Prince Bo spend time together as a couple are incredibly sweet. But then that also means when truths are revealed, it can be devastating. There’s lots of tears shed by Ma Zhai Xing.
  • Prince Bo, the Wolf Prince, is powerful in every sense of the word and leads a  loyal team. It’s a pleasure watching him go to battle for his team and adopted siblings.
  • Great secondary character in Xiao Zhan’s Ji Chong
    • First introduced in ep 11, Ji Chong soon becomes fast friends with Ma Zhai Xing and is attracted to her resolute nature. He does his best to protect Ma Zhai Xing and truly respects her.
  • The Soundtrack is a banger. THE Jolin Tsai offers her voice for the drama’s opening theme, This is quite rare but the moment I heard this song, I knew it was Jolin. It adds a rather wild flair to the atmosphere which pairs well with the wolf prince. 
  • High production value

Why You May Want to Pass

  • I’ll be the first to admit, there are many idol drama tropes in this drama. Of course, you have a powerful Prince in Prince Bo in love with the female lead, and they just so happen to meet another capable young man, Ji Chong, who then falls in love with the female lead as well. 
    • But, I’m a sucker for this type of drama especially with this intriguing lead.
  • The drama tries to portray the female lead as strong and independent, but she ultimately still has to rely on her male love interests.
  • You also can’t think too hard about some of the conflicts that happen. As with many dramas of this nature, I feel like many conflicts could have resolved themselves if people just talked to each other.
  • Lots of tears are shed after the brief moments of sweetness. 

Overall, I personally adored this drama and was really glad I decided to take a shot. It was my drama obsession at the end of 2020. If you can get past some of the basic tropes and not think too hard about the history of the show, it’s a fun and emotional ride. It tugs at your heartstrings in all the right places but perhaps be ready with a box of tissues. 

Li Qin and Wang Da Lu were on Happy Camp and Day Day Up at the end of 2020/beginning of 2021 and you can tell they’ve become good friends. Their weibo interactions were also super cute while promoting the drama.  Li Qin and Xiao Zhan have worked together on many projects and it shows as they’re very comfortable together in the drama as well. I’d say, give it a shot.

-Karen

Song Of Glory (2020) 锦绣南歌 Review 

Republishing my review of The Song of Glory or 锦绣南歌. I was excited to see this drama as I am quite fond of 李沁 Li Qin. She is one of the younger actresses that I follow and enjoy seeing on screen. She was gorgeous in both 楚乔传 Princess Agents and 如懿传 RuYi’s Royal Love in the Palace. Her performances on reality tv shows such as Running Man reflect that she is a thoughtful and funny person.  Here are my main thoughts on the drama.

 

 

Pros for this drama:

1. Main leads – The story revolves around Li Qin’s character, Shen3 Li2 Ge1 沈骊歌 and Liu2 Yi4 Kang1 刘义康. She is an orphan, raised as an assassin to kill Liu Yi Kang, who is the 4th prince during the Liu Song Dynasty. While many viewers say they don’t particularly like the male lead, Qin Hao, I thought he was more than adequate. He has more maturity that fits his role well. He is a bit on the older side so perhaps people think he and Li Qin don’t pair as well but I thought it was fine. These two had passable chemistry and were the highlights of each episode.

2. Historical setting – The setting doesn’t matter a WHOLE lot here other than the fact that it made me do research on what this dynasty is. This is not the well known Song dynasty that reigned from 960-1279AD ruled by the Zhao 赵 family. Instead, this Song dynasty reigned for a rather short period from 420-479AD ruled by the Liu 刘 family.  This dynasty is part of the Northern and Southern Dynasties era of Chinese history. Not many dramas are set in this period because it’s messy and short. The various dynasties didn’t last very long and their stories not as notable as some of the other dynasties. Though, it seems, that after researching Liu Yi Kang’s life, he was not as benevolent as this drama portrays him to be.

3. Setting and Costumes – The sets and costumes for this drama were high quality.  Li Qin’s assassin and dance outfits in particular are form fitting and well made.

(Some additional Pros in the Spoiler section below)

Cons:

1. Story/Plot can drag  – the first couple of episodes start off well enough. There’s suspense and intrigue into why or how this one official is enacting corrupt activities. The 2 main characters Shen Li Ge and Liu Yi Kang work together to solve mysteries albeit never knowing each other’s true identities. But after around episode 25, the story becomes convoluted and drags to watch. 

2. Female hairstyles – when women are married in this drama, their hairstyles are…not as ideal. I’m watching them and thinking “was this historically accurate? If not, why make these styles? They are not attractive!”. 

3. Plot holes and miracles that unfairly benefit the antagonist – essentially there were many scenes that I wanted to say “how is that possible!?”. How can a bad guy show up where she does without anyone noticing? She’s the daughter of a general. Shouldn’t she have restrictions? 

4. Plot holes and miracles that allow the main characters to survive life threatening wounds – the main female lead gets injured numerous times throughout the drama. Unless it is to drive a sad farewell between her love, she generally gets saved by her friends and is bouncing around killing people or doing reconnaissance like her life threatening wounds never happened. Injuries that should have killed her or at least put her out of action for months are healed in, what seems to be, 24 hours.

 

Final thoughts: I thought this drama was…fine. It started off strong and ended on a weak note. The main leads were cute and there was never an issue with their faithfulness in the relationship which was refreshing but there were plentiful plot holes and inconsistencies that just make you want to bang your head against the wall. Some story lines dragged on or else didn’t make sense. Bad guys kept on coming back or stayed alive to add difficulty to the story. However, the high production value and quality acting from the acting team make this a passable drama to watch in the background. 

PSA – DO NOT WATCH THE LAST EPISODE. Pretend the drama ends at episode 52 and that episode 53 doesn’t exist. You’ll thank me. 

 

Overall Rating; 6/10 

 

 

 

 [Spoiler discussion! – Don’t read if you don’t want parts of the drama spoiled!]

 

Pros – Sibling Relationships – With most dramas where there is a throne at stake, brothers tend to turn against each other. This drama stayed away from that cliche and allowed the 2 main brothers, the 4th prince and the 6th prince, to trust each other. They worked together to bring about a change in government policies throughout the empire. It was heartwarming to see these two succeed.

Pro – the main wife of the 4th prince – She actually stays pretty pure throughout the drama. She cares for her husband and genuinely enjoys spending time with the main female lead, even though both of the share the same man and it’s clear he loves the main female lead, not her. She doesn’t display too much jealousy. She’s a saint for that. 

Cons – Constant miscommunication – This drama is filled with instances where so many heartaches or issues could have been resolved if the people just talked to each other. In the beginning where the main female lead didn’t know the identity of the male lead, the male lead tried multiple times to tell her. Each time, she stopped him. The result? She stabs him not knowing his true identity… And that ending. Oh my gosh. This ending made my blood boil. The drama added unnecessary “drama” at the end of this show where the main couple could have just lived happily ever after. But no. The show writers just had to add a ridiculous star crossed lovers plot point. The main couple didn’t talk to each other whatsoever about what’s really happening in an effort to keep the other person happy and paid the price. 

Cons – Unfair expectations of women’s roles – The main couple get together. She is a female assassin with limited decorum or training on how to behave at court. He is a prince. She marries him as a concubine and they are in love. That’s all well and good. But after they get married, he tells her she needs to stop being the woman who goes out fighting. She needs to stop being so course. She instead needs to stay at home, become a refined woman at court and be a good wife. While overall, he let’s her be, accepting that she isn’t a great cook and sees the immense value she add to his life by being a smart woman with insane martial arts skills, he was initially insistent. I know this is just a drama set in a historical time period, but it irks me nonetheless. He tried to change everything about her. Other dramas such as Nirvana in Fire or The Story of MingLan don’t portray relationships in this way. Perhaps just one of the reasons why those dramas are superior to this one. 

Rattan (2021) 司藤 Review 

It’s been a while but we’re back with reviews and recommendations of Chinese dramas we’ve recently binged and first up is the fantasy drama: Rattan!

Rattan, or Si Teng (司藤)stars Jing Tian 景甜 and Zhang Bin Bin/Vin Zhang 张彬彬. The story begins where Zhang Bin Bin’s Qin Fang visits a faraway place called Dhana with his girlfriend to find a family to express gratitude for helping his family many years ago. 

 

Once there though, an accident causes Qin Fang to crash into a forest. The crash kills him but as his blood drips onto the grass beneath him, an alien being Si Teng, of the Yi Tribe, is brought back to life and Qin Fang is revived along with her.  

The story revolves around uncovering the truth behind the mysterious and powerful Si Teng’s past as she wakes up from an 80+ year slumber. Si Teng is a member of the Yi Tribe (though technically, in the book, she’s a part demon but the Chinese government banned mention of demons so she’s an alien). Many mysteries are uncovered as Si Teng and Qin Fang trace clues back to why Si Teng was “killed” in the first place and how she was able to wake up after almost a century.

 

 

 

Rating: 8.5/10

I personally HIGHLY recommend watching this drama. It was one of the first dramas I’ve chased in 2021 and it did not disappoint. Jing Tian has not had a great track record of strong performances but she knocked it out of the park in her role as Si Teng.  Si Teng is a powerful alien with magical powers and brains to boot. Her reputation precedes her as a bloodthirsty alien and she plays the part very well but in reality, she has a cute and dopey side. It’s fantastic seeing her be an absolute QUEEN since she is THE most powerful person in the drama while also having a softer side.

Not only does Jing Tian’s acting surprise viewers, the costume design and makeup is a breath of fresh air. Si Teng went to sleep in 1930s China and therefore is used to wearing Qi Pao, the traditional dress for women during that time. In modern day, her wardrobe retains many of those elements which translates into many iconic looks. The drama is a feast for the eyes due to her many costume changes. Since the drama’s airing, many women are now following Si Teng’s make up style, particularly how she shapes her eyebrows.

The other main viewing point for this drama is the chemistry between Si Teng/Jing Tian and Qin Fang/Zhang Bin Bin. Zhang Bin Bin has been in several dramas with Yang Mi and Dilireba but has failed to reach the A-list. This drama has propelled both him and Jing Tian to the forefront of popularity with lots more resources coming their way. The main driving factor is their chemistry which is off the charts for this drama. You can’t help but feel at ease watching these two act off each other but it’s even funnier when tall, handsome Zhang Bin Bin is relegated to the damsel-in-distress mode for most of the drama and Jing Tian has to go save him. Certainly a reversal of common cliches and its done surprisingly well.  Many interviews between these two leads have left fans clamoring for their relationship to translate off-screen and it’s easy to see why. 

Rattan is a quick and breezy 30 ep and is available on Youtube in the US with English subtitles.  Like I said, I highly recommend the show.  I thought the topic was so interesting that at 15 ep in while I was waiting for updates, I went and binged read the book the drama was based on. The drama does a relatively good job reviving most parts of the drama and removes quite a bit of the gory/bloody portions of the book.  Let’s just say I couldn’t sleep after binge reading the book because I was scared and thankfully the drama is much more palatable. 

 

Let us know  your thoughts on this drama if you’ve watched it already!

-Karen