I finally got around to watching this awhile back, but haven’t posted the review yet. I also need to clarify that I didn’t read the novel so I will just base my review on what’s in the series. I actually tried to read the novel but got impatient and then flipped to the end a bit. I ended up hunting down for the summary of some characters instead and understand a bit about the situation of the adaptation. But back to the series. How was it? I’ll save the rants for below.
- Lu Han (鹿晗) as Chen Chang Sheng (陳長生). He was really likable and relatable as a protagonist. I felt there were many sides to him that it was enough to be an interesting main lead. He had serious moments (plenty, considering his death always looming) and funny scenes–where he interacted comfortably with the others. I liked his intelligence and his kindness toward others. Sure, he had moments where he was super stubborn, but that was what sold me on him, considering most main leads nowadays were just too good to be true. I felt his rouge sides added to the character, but how there was a balance to his character so it wasn’t too over either–like trying too hard and then failed. What I also liked was his sword, lol. Super cool and convenient for road travel. He could store everything in there. This was my first time watching him and I must say I was surprised. Not that I doubt his capabilities of being the main lead. It was more like I only heard of his name but never watched him before. I was glad to finally watch him in this series.
- Yang Ceng Xi (杨曾曦) as Childhood Chen Chang Sheng (幼年陳長生).
- Guli Nazha (古力娜扎) as Xu You Rong (徐有容) aka Holy Girl (聖女). I don’t know what to say about this character except extreme frustration throughout. Okay, I have a lot to say yet I had to calm down for a bit to be able to write this review. First off, as the main lead, I felt she was really robbed–regarding the script. Sure, she appeared a lot. But I felt the writers played her major time. She was so bland that I felt I couldn’t justify half of her actions. Sure, she was after all their Holy Girl and had to act appropriately according to the rules, whatever. But I felt, later on, her contribution to the plot was so weak. I wished she had a solid story so it convinced me why she was the main lead. I didn’t need her to jump in and save the day all the time. That would be unrealistic. Yet I felt aside from the scene where they conspired to save Chang Sheng out of that maximum security prison, she didn’t have other scenes where she stood out. Sure, she fought along their side and contributed to help think of plans, but I felt it was still weak. It was still a part of her duty sort of thing. I liked her stubbornness and how she wouldn’t marry QSJ just because the others wanted her to. I liked her rebellious schemes later on–when she finally agreed to join in with the others to break Chang Sheng out (like said before). But why wasn’t she given anymore subplot to convince of her importance? It was 50+ episodes and she only stood around the majority of the time and discussed stuff and be lovey-dovey with Chang Sheng at other times? I got that she was smart in her own way and I liked that she had her reasons for not wanting Chang Sheng to become too obsessed with the constellations. But what else was there for her? Even her scene where she sabotaged Nan Ke’s wedding became a plot for QSJ to turn around. Really? I felt she just became a plot device so QSJ could shine somehow or just a reason for CS and QSJ to disagree–although I do like Chang Sheng a lot. But it didn’t make it any less of frustration to see the main girl so inactive. Aside from that, I felt that Nazha had improved so much with her acting since The Classic of Mountains and Seas. I’m proud of her. It sounds confusing, considering how I criticized the character so much yet I felt Nazha did a good job with portraying such a role, showing the depth of her character with whatever was given. She exuded the Holy Girl vibe very well and was quite articulated. Her ability to express with her eyes also improved immensely as well.
- Lu Chen Yue (吕晨悦) as Childhood Xu You Rong (幼年徐有容).
- Janice Wu (吴倩) as Bai Luo Heng (白落衡) aka Luo Luo (落落). She was my favorite female character in here. I was surprised. I thought I would dislike her because of a possible role in the triangle. But I felt she had exceeded all expectations. She was lively and fun. Not to mention so loyal and caring and lovable. There were so many sides to her. She was sort of spoiled too–somewhat–but she was still likable in many ways. I cried many times for her and felt that Janice did a very good job. I liked her since watching DOMD and felt she acted quite well in there. She took her acting to another level. I think her performance was what made her character so likable and enjoyable to watch. It was really sad to see her acting so passive toward the others later. I thought it would be for the best later since she had to move on anyway. But it was really tragic. The transition of her character also proved Janice’s acting was quite convincing.
- Joseph Zeng (曾舜晞) as Tang Tang (唐棠) aka Tang San Shi Liu (唐三十六). He was hilarious. I loved how he was Chang Sheng’s first friend since arriving at that place. I thought he would be arrogant and look down on Chang Sheng, but he wasn’t so. He was quite grounded for a somewhat spoiled young master. He loved to show off and was very proud of his inventions. Yet he was surprisingly likable. Sure, he did have his crazy moments and was mad at Chang Sheng over some misunderstanding too. But I thought I forgave him since he did leave that one group to join Chang Sheng’s school to show his support. When things mattered, he did back Chang Sheng up. Not to mention, all of those inventions. It was too cool. Anyway, he was my second favorite male character in here.
- Amelie Xu (许龄月) as Mo Yu (莫雨). I didn’t like her at all–if that was too cruel to say. Yet it was too hard to like her. It wasn’t because she sided with QSJ regarding the triangle either. Partly, but like how the rest of that place totally looked down on others–it was like a rule or something, you have to look down on outsiders to be called one of them. I could respect it that she finally admitted it that Chang Sheng had a good side but she was still siding with QSJ regarding the triangle. Yet what I found ironic for the majority of the series was how she didn’t see it that she was forcing You Rong YET she didn’t like the empress’ nephew either (who hit on her multiple times during the earlier parts of the series). I felt bad for her that she had become that way near the end. It was sad for her and Tang Tang yet that didn’t make her a top character for me either. Hey, I found it super hard to like You Rong too so it wasn’t like I was just picking on her.
- Gao Han Yu (高瀚宇) as Xuan Yuan Po (轩辕破). He was probably my favorite male character in here. After having watched him in SCI Mystery, I was ready to see another role of his. In fact, that was the reason why I moved on to watching this series earlier than expected. (Yes, my list’s still super long and I don’t know if I could finish it in this lifetime, really.) I had followed it while it was airing but didn’t think to watch it so soon. Anyway, back to GHY, definitely a different role from SCI since his IQ was brought down even more, lol. But he was a really lovable character. He was funny–without knowing possibly. He was seriously loyal and caring toward his friends. It was hilarious. I also liked his crush on Luo Luo and felt it was too bad they couldn’t be together either. Well, he was going to guard her temple later so it wasn’t for nothing. But still sad. The saddest part was how he was crying–or on the verge of crying–knowing that she would forget him too eventually and seeing how it was already happening to Chang Sheng. What was even funnier with him was how he loved to eat but also could cook up a storm. It was a nice touch since in other series, we only get to see those loving to eat and pig out from others’ cooking. Yet he was able to do both. Anyway, GHY’s acting was quite good in here. I think I like him even more in here.
- Chen Shu (陈数) as Tian Hai You Xue (天海幽雪) aka Holy Empress (圣后). Mixed feelings throughout. Sometimes, I got it from her speeches or her intentions that she was looking at the bigger picture and caring for her citizens. Other times, I just thought she was crazy.
- Eddie Cheung (張兆輝) as Yin Xing Dao (寅行道) aka Royal Scholar (教宗大人) aka Red Robe (紅袍). Um, I have flashbacks of the ’90s when Eddie was portraying villainous roles all over again, lol. His schemes were elaborate and he was smart enough to stay in the background. However, I felt his intelligence could only be so much. Why? Seriously, he wanted to become king and all but ended up having to control the constellations as well? Um, not too smart there. Aside from that, I didn’t doubt Eddie’s acting.
- Yao Di (姚笛) as Nan Ke (南客). I didn’t like her but had to admit her character got some mystery and depth to it. Even if she was from the opposing side, I actually admired her stubbornness at times. I hated her stupid jealousy rants but felt she had a better story than oh-say the main girl. Yes, I kept going back to that, but I seriously don’t get why You Rong got the short end of the stick like that. Anyway, I thought the actress did quite well–like some others did in here. She showed her emotions nicely.
- Johnny Zhang (张峻宁) as Qiu Shan Jun (秋山君). Seriously, right from the start, I didn’t like him. It wasn’t because of his involvement in the triangle. But I’m known to not root for the too-good to be true guy. He was so bland and flaky that I found hard to relate to. People who are way above others/on top of the world would fall the hardest when meeting with obstacles and he indeed fell hard. The fact that he only got more interesting once he turned was really sad. I felt his saving point was the actor’s acting. Because he was so convincing in those scenes, the struggles and the unwillingness to let go of many things in his life. And then there went the reason why I was so mad at the writers. They managed to conjure up such a story for GSJ and couldn’t come up with an ounce of a decent plot for You Rong? Seriously? Even Nan Ke got some depth to her character–aside from the senseless jealousy.
- Archie Kao (高聖遠) as Jin Yu Lu (金玉律). It was really interesting to see Archie in an ancient setting, lol. I wasn’t used to it but found his character likable. Archie didn’t disappoint in the acting department–obviously. I sometimes felt really bad for him for having to chase down Luo Luo time after time. Later, it was revealed their relationship wasn’t just that of master and servant but there was something deeper. He treated her like family and even promised to stay by her side in the future. Too bad he wasn’t able to fulfill that promise. It was really tragic with his death. I shed a few tears. One of the most tragic deaths of the series.
- Lin Si Yi (林思意) as Little Black Dragon (小黑龙) aka Zhu Sha (朱砂). I loved her. She was hilarious. At times, she was so stubborn but she was quite likable. One of my favorite scenes was when she used one hand to hold her food and the other hand to lift the door for them to flee. It was awesome. She was after all a powerful dragon. The other character in here who was obsessed with food, lol. I don’t think I could blame her since she was trapped in that place for so long.
- You Jing Ru (尤靖茹) as Qi Jian (七間). I didn’t care for her sect nor the rest of the members, but she was an exception. Not just because they were isolating Chang Sheng because they were taking their senior’s side, but how they were looking down on Chang Sheng and others in general. Anyway, she was different for me because–although she liked Qiu Shan Jun–but she had a likable persona to her since she appeared. It was like something I was looking forward to finding out more–or if she would appear more than some of the cast in here. It was a different character, so I was curious. She turned out to be quite righteous and reliable later. I didn’t just like her because she later followed them and aided them greatly–that was a bonus, but I liked how she was different from Nan Ke (aka someone else who liked QSJ but reacted differently). She wasn’t jealous of others who liked QSJ or the one QSJ liked. She was grounded in that way and was smart and determined in many areas. Although the others treated her with caution, wanting to protect her at times, but she proved herself to be quite capable.
- Fu Li Jun (冯荔军) as Gou Han Shi (苟寒食). I had to make an exception from that one sect for him too. Sure, I got that he was worshiping QSJ too–it was hard not to, but I liked that he knew how to think for himself, not acting as a crowd to bully Chang Sheng. Initially, he wanted to show loyalty for his senior, but later interacting with Chang Sheng, he learned to respect Chang Sheng. I felt he was actually a true hero among the members of his sect, NOT QSJ. I’m not saying that because I sided with Chang Sheng regarding the other triangle, but I felt Gou Han Shi was a hidden hero, not showy but genuine.
- Liu Kai Fei (刘凯菲) as Zhou Yu Ren (周玉人) aka Black Robe (黑袍). Zhou Du Fu’s younger sister. That was as major surprise. I meant with her relation to Zhou Du Fu. It was interesting how she collaborated with the Red Robe dude and then later wanted to switch sides. It made sense since they wanted to survive or at least take down whichever side they felt was more of a threat. But just found that really interesting. I had some suspicions during the scenes where they were in the tomb like she had a special relation to Zhou Du Fu, but didn’t realize it was that close.
- Eric Tsang (曾志偉) as Taoist Ji (計道人) aka Shang Xing Zhou (商行舟). Chang Sheng’s master. I thought he was a funny master, considering how it was Eric and all. But I felt he totally played Chang Sheng major time. Yes, he seemed to have his reasons back then, but it was sooo messed up to inflict such tragedies into Chang Sheng’s life. But I guessed since he had no one, it was so easy to influence and change his life however. I felt Chang Sheng was already so forgiving with the situation. I wasn’t grateful that he sided with them later and not with his junior. I felt it was overdue that he did something.
- Fu Jia (付嘉) as Yu Ren (余人). Chang Sheng’s senior, the real son of the Holy Empress. I seriously didn’t think much of him so it was a surprise that he turned out to be the real son. I didn’t mean I looked down on him or anything. I liked that he was Chang Sheng’s good senior and always supported and encouraged Chang Sheng on throughout. However, I thought he was just another character. Well played.
- Liu Ruo Gu (刘若谷) as Childhood Yu Ren (幼年余人).
- Wang Ce (王策) as White Emperor (白帝). Luo Luo’s father, also the king of the demon clan.
- Gong Bei Bi (龚蓓苾) as White Queen (白后). Luo Luo’s mother, also the queen of the demon clan.
- Xue Jia Ning (薛佳凝) as Mo Yu’s mother (莫雨母亲).
- Zhai Tian Lin (翟天临) as Zhou Du Fu (周独夫). Interesting character yet there were many things I still wanted to know about him.
- Ren Shan (任山) as Tian Hai Cheng Wu (天海承武). Tian Hai You Xue’s older brother. Didn’t think much of him except he was there to cause conflicts.
- Que Zhe Ming (曲哲明) as Tian Hai Ya Er (天海牙儿). Tian Hai Cheng Wu’s son, Tian Hai You Xue’s nephew. I felt his character was as useless as his father. It didn’t really contribute anything except side dramas.
- Quan Pei Lun (权沛伦) as Guan Fei Bai (關飛白). It was indeed a shocker for him when his senior turned and killed him, which he realized wasn’t intentional but it was too late.
- Xiao Yu Liang (肖宇梁) as Zhuang Huan Yu (莊換羽). I didn’t care for him throughout, considering how he was super jealous of Chang Sheng and still dared to act all righteous. He was a coward and despicable. So it was strange to see him trying to help Tang Tang that one time and then died in the conflict. It was strange. Did he repent when I blinked? Because by that time, I was getting really impatient to see the series wrap up.
- Maggie Siu (邵美琪) as Xun Mei (荀梅). Short appearance, but sort of interesting to see.
- Wang Gang (王岗) as Tang Qiu (唐秋). Tang Tang’s father. Mixed feelings.
- Zhang Jia Ding (张嘉鼎) as Tang Hai (唐海). Tang Tang’s adopted brother. I didn’t like him at all. It didn’t matter what his excuses were and his actions throughout. He didn’t gain any sympathy from me. It was sort of funny seeing how Tang Tang kicked him to Kingdom Come, lol.
- Hao Shuai (郝帅) as Xiao De (小德). A general of the demon clan, wanted to marry Luo Luo. I was suspicious of him at times. Or because of his mysterious nature. But anyway, I guessed it was all right. At least he didn’t cause trouble or linger too long.
- Yu Yang (于洋) as Shuang Er (霜兒). You Rong’s servant girl. Couldn’t really like her either although I know she couldn’t really be blamed since she can’t really control her own life.
- He Zhong Hua (何中华) as Emperor of Zhou Dynasty (太宗). Only seen briefly at the beginning of the series and soon passed away.
- Gao Yang (高洋) as Goddess of the demon clan (神女). A somewhat important role that influenced both Chang Sheng and Luo Luo’s destinies later.
- Wu Ze Jin Xi (武泽锦熙) as Medicine Furnace Boy (药炉童子). Hilarious. I enjoyed his scenes. He was what made some of the scenes light up even more.
- Cast. The majority of the cast did quite well.
- The music. Always loved listening to Zhang Jie for theme songs so it was enjoyable for me. The rest of the soundtrack wasn’t bad either. It fitted with the series in general.
- The majority of the friendships/bonds in here. Although some characters I cared for more than others, I had to admire them for their loyalty and support when things mattered.
- Flashbacks. Seriously, this is the problem with the majority of series nowadays. Once again, I loved the music and liked hearing the songs. But I found at times, the flashbacks were unnecessary–except to promote the songs and possibly extend the length.
- Length/Pace. Seriously, flashbacks contributed to the problem. On top of that, they didn’t know how to focus on the right story.
- Organization. It was a mess. The jump back and forth between scenes wasn’t well planned. I meant there were some subplots that dragged on and on, then later it jumped to the another subplot. It made us forgot what in the world happened with the other one. I wouldn’t want them to jump so dizzily from one scene to the next but at times when they show what was happening here vs another, it was really slow. Then at another time, they just glossed over essential details.
Recommended? I think it’s considered average. It could be a good series, but the length killed it. It should have been 35 episodes. Because of the reasons I listed above, the length was unbearable in many ways.