So I finally dived into this. I must admit I was a bit scared after some initial feedback from some people and somewhat of the trailer as to how it would turn out. Yet curiosity got the better of me and I jumped in anyway. Honestly? I was surprised to hear people complaining. Okay, some parts were exaggerating, but it wasn’t like totally unbearable or cringe-worthy or anything. In a sense of a traditional ancient drama, it somewhat veered off course because of some incorporation of modern jokes. However, the costumes, the mystery, and most of the cast’s acting was worth it.
- Han Dong as Wu Tao (吴夲) or Bao Sheng Da Di (保生大帝). This role was just awesome. I think it was even more awesome than the time he was Er Lang Shen in The Legend and the Hero. Since he seriously got robbed in the other one with the story going downhill in part 2. (Like it wasn’t at first BUT it was bearable at least, but in part 2 it just plain deteriorated at a rapid pace.) Anyway, back to this role, as the god of medicine, he was righteous and brilliant. As Wu Tao, he was still brilliant but also cunning and witty in many ways. It was indeed more refreshing than seeing how the main leads kept being pushed around by others like in recent dramas. Sure, he got imprisoned numerous times in here. Yet it wasn’t like he was pitiful. He made the best of it by using any type of technique to escape and get back on track again. Not to mention how he wasn’t just some typical hero who just plain played by the rules and acted righteously all the time (i.e. the must stay in prison and wait for his name to be cleared). But he took an active role throughout, planning his own escape. Or if he had to be on the run or while investigating, he used his extensive networks to achieve his goals. He was flexible in his techniques, not sitting around to act pitiful so viewers could sympathize with him. I love these types of active heroes more. Then there was also his philosophy as a medic, willing to cure anyone, not just good people. He didn’t force anyone into believing what he believed or using them to his benefit. That was also the reason why Chu Lian finally followed him. As one of the gods, he showed a different side. Yes, he was still a medic, but he showed his fierceness whenever needed, like how he was when facing that demonic king or that of Ge Zhong Jing.
- Yoki Sun as Princess Wu Xuan (无玄公主) and Bao Da Yin (鲍大银). At first, I wasn’t used to her exaggeration or overly crazy gestures when she was Bao Da Yin. However, I realized that the actress was really good at it. She managed to differentiate both roles. It was like she could be gentle and serious as the princess, and also could exaggerate as see fit at times as Bao Da Yin. At first, I found Da Yin to be quite annoying. Well, okay, she had her moments, but I found it overboard with her ways at times. Yet later, I realized her loudmouth did help with certain situations. Like she conned one of the constables into disclosing information to them. What I can’t stand about her though was how she kept disclosing secrets to others whenever Wu Tao told her. Well, that was her, all very straightforward and not scheming like some people, but that had become a disadvantage, which fed more info for the enemy. What I really clapped her on was the part where the princess had returned to her original identity already and she had to pose as Da Yin to scare Da Yin’s relatives away. It was like she was another person, trying hard to be Da Yin. Yoki was really convincing. I was amazed. Because it seemed like she was always so loud as Da Yin and did the crazy role as so easy yet what was harder was seeing how she portrayed the princess role but wanted to be more fierce. Indeed convincing with how letting us see that the two characters were totally different from one another and how it seemed like they were two different persons according to the plot.
- Du Hai Tao (杜海涛) as Qin Da Bei (秦大悲). Funny and somewhat pitiful at times. He kept running around to sort things out but made it worst the first time and then later on had to rely on himself with running back and forth to find information. He was later manipulated into using the evil flag and thus caused a lot of mishaps.
- Xiao Zhang Duo (小张铎) as Ge Zhong Jing (盖仲景) and the demonic king. Manipulative and scheming as Ge Zhong Jing, but hilarious and crazy as the demonic king. Well, he was as scheming yet at times, he was so easily tricked. I didn’t realize it was the same person portraying two roles but got it from the credits of the main theme song. Then later, I realized there were similarities in features with those two, considering how the makeup was for the demonic king, it was hard to distinguish at first. And the fact that the different dubbing threw me off. Good one! (The plot later disclosed why the two looked similar and how their fate had intervened with one another so it wasn’t too over with having one person portraying two roles for his case as well.)
- Liu Di Ni (刘迪妮) as Qing Zhu (青竹). One of the demons by the demon king’s side yet later joined the other side to help Wu Tao and the others. She was a very interesting character. Very fierce at times yet could also be gentle at others. What I loved about her was how she didn’t easily fall into others’ traps. Although she still cared for the demon king during his downfall that one time, but wouldn’t let him harm others–only tried to help him stay alive. On the other hand, when Da Bei was possessed by the evil flag, she didn’t back down as easily. She used her reasoning and cunning side to strip the evil flag from him so he couldn’t use it to harm others anymore.
- Ming Jun Chen (明俊臣) as Qin Yue (秦越). A constable who had a special technique to perform autopsies and solve crimes. However, he had this stuttering habit that could crack one up at times. At first, I thought he was very cool, but later on, I found him sort of disappointing. Not picking on him because he stuttered. But more like I thought he would be another smart character yet he was also being used as a pawn for Ge Zhong Jing’s games. What was even more of a joke was how he couldn’t ride horses (or was he scared of speed?). Yet he wasn’t all dumb. At least not totally. He was also very righteous and wanted to enforce the laws. So it wasn’t too lost of a cause for his case. Not to mention how it was very tragic seeing how he lost his sight and lost his hope to be a constable. There were many obstacles that he went through but was cured in the end. He was also able to restore his constable status as well. What was a surprise though was his background that allowed Ge Zhong Jing to use as a chip to tear their side apart. Yet luckily Wu Tao knew the background of that past case hence was able to clarify things.
- Li Qian (李茜) as Chu Lian (楚练). Ge Zhong Jing’s disciple. She was pulled into the schemes and posed as Xia Xuan (夏璇) to earn Wu Tao’s trust and thus reveal his secret techniques to her. Later, she realized how Wu Tao was a good person and was a true medic, always willing to help others. So she left her master and followed Wu Tao to help others, mastering both her skills with medicine and swords. She also accompanied Qin Yue in different investigations and tried to help him with overcoming his fear of riding a horse or traveling by carriage.
- Achel Chang as Xi Yue (袭月). She appeared in the third case. She was the local judge’s daughter-in-law, who was injured and entered a coma. She later awakened and recounted that she and her husband were attacked by a young monk–who killed her husband in a fight. However, it was later revealed that she was the one who killed her husband. Yet later on, it was disclosed that she might be some serial killer, not just suffering from some tragic events and killing her husband in defense. Then it got complicated again since it wasn’t established if Ge Zhong Jing was pulling strings behind the curtains regarding her suspicious behaviors or not. Then later on, it was revealed that she was just confused about the details hence wanting to lie regarding what happened.
- Niu Piao (牛飘) as Tai Shang Lao Jun (太上老君). One of the gods. Hilarious!
- Han Yin Long (韩银龙) as Manager of Heaven (天庭总管). At times, mixed feelings, but later on appreciated his character and realized he was just doing his job.
- Ren Xue Hai (任学海) as the Jade Emperor (玉皇大帝) aka the Heavenly King. At first, I thought it was going on the route of making him seemed unreasonable. Yet the plot soon revealed that he and Wu Tao were in a scheme together hence sending Wu Tao down to the human realm for the time being while finding a way to get rid of the demon king and Ge Zhong Jing. That made him seemed suitable as the Jade Emperor. (Because some of the recent fairy tales kept trying to make him or anyone within the authoritative rank in the Heavenly realm the “monster” because they wanted to boost the main couple, etc.)
- Han Dong and Yoki Sun. Cute yet also bitter. When I wrote those words, I just meant too bad Da Yan won’t get her wish and they can’t be together since I’d guessed she would return to her princess identity later so there was no point. YET I didn’t realize the “bitter” part meant what happened in the end.
- Du Hai Tao and Liu Di Ni. Hilarious here and there, even when he was possessed by the evil flag. Then it got really tragic when she sacrificed herself so he would return to being the lovable Da Bei again. It was really sad. But then after he killed himself too, their forces were joined to break past the demon king’s barrier. Then they turned into humans so they could finally be together.
- Ming Jun Chen and Li Qian. They also went through many trials in here yet ended up having a happy ending. It was more visible than the other couples in here, but it wasn’t too over or draggy. It made sense since they were tested time after time with Ge Zhong Jing manipulating the whole scene–until it was resolved.
- Case #1 – The death of the 13 Palace Guards. It was sooooo sad. I first felt like the medic was so despicable because of how he kept trying to sabotage Wu Tao and his investigation. Yet later when he revealed the truth, it was indeed tragic. He had seen such brutal sights since young and had lost everyone in his town, so of course, he was traumatized and vengeful against those despicable guards.
- Cast #2 – Mystery Man – Okay, it wasn’t exactly a case because it was composed by Ge Zhong Jing, but it showed some mystery at first, considering how it was strange that he wasn’t within the performing troupe yet was there. This part also introduced Qin Yue. That one extended into different stories thus causing Ge Zhong Jing and the demon king to join forces, etc.
- Case #3 – The Death of 7 Girls + A Man. Um, the case got merged at first yet it was supposed to be two cases to be exact. This case also introduced Xi Yue. Like the other case, this case got split because the one responsible for killing the seven girls weren’t the same as the one who killed Xi Yue’s husband. That person remained a mystery after some side confusions sorted out. The ending was really unexpected. Or perhaps viewers were led into believing everything had to do with Ge Zhong Jing (even if he wasn’t around at that point), so he only used his chance to manipulate others. Not to mention the real killer never showed any traces of suspicion, except for the fact that he was afraid of Ge Zhong Jing hence going along with some of Ge’s wacky schemes.
- Cases. I felt it was really living up to those detective series, even more than some detective series nowadays (aside from the Detective Di Ren Jie series, NOT the new one, but the 4-seasons one). The cases really kept me intrigued throughout. Although some extended and ended up tying in with the main plot, I enjoyed it all the same.
- Fairies/Gods/Heavenly Realm/Demonic Forces. A good mixture of it. It weaved in with other side dramas so it wasn’t all about that or just focusing on one thing.
- Jianghu. I swear the costumes and the course of the story reminded me of the old jianghu series more than some of the current re-adaptations of it. Sure, they did use modern jokes, but aside from that, there was certain retention of the old times.
- Comedy. The humor wasn’t too much. It could be so random and senseless but wasn’t to the point where you feel like screaming. Or it was that way for me.
Conclusion? For me, this was another lesson to not listen to some people. ‘Cause it seriously was one of the better series of recent. Even if it wasn’t all hype up like some of the recent ones but it surpassed those ones for me. And even if the ending wasn’t what was expected, I think it could have been worse. So there was a huge wedding near the end, but the tragic final piece seriously undid that happy atmosphere. What made it somewhat choking was how the evil force didn’t really disappear. Yet isn’t that what life is about? You wipe out one disease, the next comes around the corner after some peace. What I really want though is a sequel. I’m so serious! Maybe they could continue with the struggle, but this time twist it a bit so the princess could somehow be resurrected, like how she only reincarnated. Hey, just like those evil two that had. (Okay, so the demonic king didn’t since he used Ge Zhong Jing’s body to operate as an official all these years yet Ge Zhong Jing had reincarnated and was staring him down with much bitterness and vengeance.)
Recommended? If you don’t like sad endings, just don’t watch it. It will break your heart. And if you’re not into seeing how it seemed their effort was all for nothing, don’t watch either. Save the headache. For me, yes, my disappointment did come out as, “You gotta be kidding me, right?” Yet after I think it over for ten minutes later, I realize it’s a different ending.