This review will take a look at a number of leading Asian dramas that come from South Korea, China, Japan, and the Philippines. There is a lot of series to look at, but rather than burn my eyes and brains by watching very series; I decided to concentrate on the most reviewed and then watch and decide for myself.
As you should know, a critic cannot provide an unbiased review, since a critic has to remain true to his or her personal attachment and emotions when watching a series. Having said that, there are objective issues that can be assessed, and these include the quality of acting, the effects, and the overall environment. The subjective element is, does the series drag you into its fold, and make you addicted to its storyline? The other dual element is, how long will the series maintain a solid season before it starts to disintegrate?
These are the bases of my review, and I base my review on watching the shows, as well as reading up reviews and viewers comments. Collating information and comparing their experience with mine. I hope I have managed to deliver a balanced review that presents each series as best as I believe. (Bias…)
The Legend of Fuyao (Chinese Drama)
This amazing epos is set in an alternative universe, where there are five kingdoms and the Imperial City of Tianquan. The story is centered around the beautiful Fuyao, played by Lang Mi, as a lowly slave from the Xuanyuan sect from Taiyuan kingdom. She leaves the sect after a few issues she was involved in and starts an exciting, adventurous journey across the 5 Kingdoms. During her long trek, she encounters many evils and helps restore peace to the land of the 5 kingdoms. She also finds out the truth behind her past and what is her real identity.
The series follows a lot of the adventures set Fuyao’s path as well as how she handles each obstacle. Since there are so many such incidents, with multiple characters appearing and then getting killed, it would be exhaustive to write up an episode by episode review of all the characters. This is why I will focus on the main lead roles and occasionally introduce a character that might seem a main feature, only to discover that he or she is later removed in usually a colorful way.
Initially, the series starts off with a good pace, its fast, accurate and colorful. However, there are so many subplots, forks and adventures happening, you realize this is more of a mini fantasy film condensed into a series, where there is so much going on, after all, it’s the 5 Kingdoms, and this is a journey, so how complicated can it get.
After the first 10 episodes, and leading into the first 20, I suddenly realized that while the plot was directional, I was both interested in the subplots but eager to get to the end of the main plot. Essentially, I was hoping that the heroin would evolve quickly, leading to a new era of subplots, but I guess patience is sometimes in order.
The Leading Male
Ethan Ruan takes on the role of the crown prince of Tianquan Kingdom impersonating the King of the Taiyuan Kingdom. In this role, he has to portray a shrewd, highly-skilled, sometimes mysterious, and definitely cheeky but protective suitor of Fuyao, obviously the man is in love. Ruan acts the role effortlessly, making me wonder if he is as well off-screen as he is on. The two lead roles are well balanced, and you will find that female viewer tend to gravitate to Ruan, while the male viewers lean towards Lang Mi, unless of course, you are sexually inclined other than hetero.
These two perform admirably together, and there are plenty of heart rendering and fluttery eye moments in this series, enough to keep us glued to the seats, those that are romantically inclined of course.
Every good series with a leading hero needs a villain. Some series provide villains that you can love too, and in this case, the cold-hearted, downright jealous and treacherous Pei Yuan is the key anti-hero that you love to hate. Portrayed by the beautiful Li Yixiao, her burning hatred for Fuyao comes from the fact that the man she loves Yan Jingchen, who is in love with Fuyao. Oh, and did I forget to mention she is Qi Zhen’s niece, who is the State preceptor of Taiyuan, and wants to rule Taiyuan.
This was a great series that provided everything you expect from a well filmed Chinese alternate universe period drama, including the supernatural and extremely amazing fighting skills. As expected the scenery, filters and overall special effects were creatively exciting, and in some instance breathtaking as is expected again, from great Chinese productions. This is a great series to watch, and well worth watching twice, just to see the parts you never see the first time you watch it.