I actually tried to watch one episode at first but wasn’t that into it. It seemed too trying to me for some reason. Then to motivate myself, I actually went to watch The Untamed first, lol. It was weird, but since they were compared by various groups, I thought I might as well start there. So, fans of this drama can thank the other one for motivating me to watch this. The second time around, I tried to be more patient and it took several episodes before I was actually into it. I also ended up creating a thread on Twitter and tweeted while watching as well. It helped motivate me to move forward. (Also, no one mention it, please. Because I got brain fog and ended up using the wrong character for “ling” so the hashtag was all wrong for that. So yeah, I know already. This is why Twitter needs an edit button, but they thought they knew better so whatever.)
First off, it was a really bad idea to change the name of the series to Word of Honor (山河令) instead of keeping it as Faraway Wanderers (天涯客). Because by the current official title, Ye Bai Yi would be the main lead. Yes, he was the person who held the piece in episode 13. I was madly confused about where the title came from when it had nothing to do with the two main leads at all. Then it took like that many episodes later for it to reveal. I was like, “Really?” Whoever thought of doing that did it on purpose. Sure, people remember it better in this current state, but it also got attached to The Untamed as well. Good or bad, you tell me. But seriously, not worth it at all. Because this series was decent in its own right. It didn’t need to be attached to some other work like that. Granted, The Untamed team also changed their title. However, it made much more sense, because it was still aimed at the main characters of the series. Chen Qing Ling (陳情令) aimed at Wei Wu Xian’s flute and its power. Word of Honor (山河令) sounded catchy but missed the mark. Unless they wanted to say it was meant to cover the overall plot and its conflict then okay, fine. And I didn’t mean to start the fans war up again OR pick on this team on purpose. I appreciated their effort and what they had to work with. But whoever the decision-makers were, sunk them by doing so.
Anyway, moving on, right? LOL!
Zhang Zhe Han (张哲瀚) as Zhou Zi Shu (周子舒) aka Ah Xu (阿絮). It was hard to get into his character or relate to him. I meant, there was enough mystery and all and his expressions were morbid enough for me to get the seriousness of the series. What made him unrelatable for me was his saint-like, too forgiving nature as an overall. Yeah, I got it that he suffered a lot, made some poor decisions when he was young so he felt guilty and was trying to repent. But he shouldn’t try to influence others when it wasn’t exactly his call. Disregarding the others’ POV and forcing his principles on them wasn’t helping either. It wasn’t that he was terrible, it was that he was too perfect that made it hard to relate to for me. (Yeah, I know, sounded too ironic with what we learned he did YET I described him as perfect. But he had pushed that forgiving thing too far for me that made it unrealistic.) He was fun to watch at times and I liked his burns toward several parties in here too. But that was about it. First time watching ZZH and I don’t know what to make of it, except he was indeed convincing. At first, not as much, but I thought the best part of his was probably when Ah Xu thought Lao Wen was dead. Then the aftermath of realizing he made a mistake and pulled out the nails too soon. It was devastating. His expression said it all. That was his defining scene of the whole series for me. I don’t mean to disregard his effort or whatever since this was my first time watching and I had nothing to go by. Perhaps, it was just the type of character that drawn me in or not.
Simon Gong Jun (龔俊) as Wen Ke Xing (溫客行) aka Lao Wen (老溫). Gong Jun was surprising addicting to watch. I don’t know if it was how the character was written, but his charm helped a lot with carrying the character throughout. Lao Wen’s thick-skinned nature knew no bound and Gong Jun’s taunting expression at times made it so humorous for those scenes. The majority of my laughter came from his up to no good schemes. He seriously could drive people up the wall with his acts. His trolling game was top-notch though. And omg, his burns toward others. However, I thought the majority of that was just to cover his tragic past. I guess, overall, it was the contrast of his character that pulled me in even more. Gong Jun sure delivered with making it lively and cheerful at the right time and also delivered quite well with his serious scenes as well. It give off the feeling like you’re in front and center with him, witnessing those scenes. I heard that some of his past performances were flops. So, I guess whatever guidance and experiences he had over time had allowed him to improve. His hard work indeed paid off for this series. Because he was indeed quite convincing.
Zhou Ye (周也) as Gu Xiang (顧湘). I actualy didn’t like her at first. I know, jaws drop, right? But it was the truth. She was too loud and annoying for my taste. It took me a while to get into her character. Then I realized she was just straightforward. At least, she got the skills to back up her talk, unlike some people. I found her funny as hell later too. Her burns were possibly influenced by her master somewhat. But she was on point regarding some matters. Who possessed the author to kill her off? I felt like choking when that scene rolled around–although I got spoiled somewhere along the way and knew it was coming.
Sun Xi Lun (孫浠倫) and Zhao Xiao Kun (赵晓坤) as Zhang Cheng Ling (張成嶺). Omg, was the kid unlucky or what? Also, felt really bad for him with his family tragedies and all, but he sure needed a lot of rescuing. Lao Wen was on target when he asked Ah Xu why Ah Xu didn’t take the poor kid to see a fortune-teller, lol.
Ma Wen Yuan (馬聞遠) as Cao Wei Ning (曹蔚寧). At first, I was afraid that he was one of those flaky characters as well. Can’t blame me because of how pretentious half of the population of those sects and clans were. We learned he was heavily influenced by his shi shu, not his master. So that was good. But really sad since he was also killed by that hypocrite. It was indeed very tragic. He was so kindhearted and optimistic about life. If only he survived through it all.
Chen Zi Han (陳紫函) as Tragicomic Ghost (喜喪鬼) aka Luo Fu Meng (羅浮夢). I haven’t watched her in ages. So it was interesting to see her in here.
Ke Nai Yu (柯乃予) as Beauty Ghost (艷鬼) aka Liu Qian Qiao (柳千巧). I actually liked her. She had such a tragic past. Yet she was also so soft-hearted, even letting that one scumbag go just because of his sweet words. Well, she drank the potion later and ended up killing him, so…not all lost? It seemed overkilled at that point, but whatever.
Hei Zi (黑子) as Gao Chong (高崇). I saw him posting some clips of his character in the series, lol. So, that piqued my curiosity a bit more. Believe it or not, he was one of the few reasons I wanted to check it out. As for his character, he totally trusted the wrong person. He died in vain after all the good intention he had. It was a mile coming because they were going to kill him one way or another anyway. The majority of those sects or clans just wanted the key. They didn’t care for reasons or whatever. So yeah, he was sacrificed because of their greed and Zhao Jing’s schemes.
Wang Ruo Lin (王若麟) as Zhao Jing (趙敬). The mastermind of all the schemes since ages ago leading up to the current situation. He sure was manipulative all right. He kept up a good front and all. I knew I couldn’t trust him from the start. Mostly because of his name. Yes, he sure had it going for him. What was wrong with his name? Zhao Jing reminded me of Zhao Zhi Jing (趙志敬) from The Return of the Condor Heroes. So yeah, hated that guy in there, such a hypocrite and despicable, the whole mile with being the bad guy yet no one was able to expose him until way later. So yeah, I just transferred it to this one. Also, those really righteous dudes in here looked fake as well. His good deeds via charity causes done around town was already a trademark to be super suspicious of him since that was how it often was with those stories. Always the super nice and kindhearted dudes making waves and retaining the good reputation in front of others. It wasn’t hard to detect there was something wrong with him. Yet I just didn’t realize how big of an impact he made to the overall story, that was all. I thought he got his deserved fate, considering how much he toyed with people’s lives throughout, trying to ascend and gain power. So, how did he like it when he became the person on the receiving end of some sort of scheme too? His downfall was lying to the Scorpion King once too many times.
Guo Jia Hao (郭家豪) as Shen Shen (沈慎). He was stubborn and rash at times, but somehow managed to see through the light. Can’t blame him too much. He was just too simple-minded. At least, he was loyal to his sworn brother and tried his best to find his niece. He didn’t care for the power grab stuff going on. Although he was seriously annoying at first and made me suspicious of him–or if he was involved with Zhao Jing’s schemes, he proved to be harmless later.
Rebecca Jin (金乐) as Gao Xiao Lian (高小憐). Gao Chong’s daughter.
Yang Wan Li (杨万里) as Deng Kuan (鄧寬). Gao Chong’s disciple, the one that was drugged and manipulated into giving false statements about his master.
Li Dai Kun (李岱昆) as Scorpion King (蠍王) aka Xie Er (蠍兒). So the majority learned that he was approached for the role of Wen Ke Xing first and turned it down. It was mentioned that he was afraid he couldn’t carry the role hence turning it down. Yet it made me wonder. Because his acting wasn’t bad. He carried his character really well, showing all the emotions toward his adopted father–whether it was feeling proud of himself to be praised, or the disappointment and resentment feelings of later. It was quite powerful. He was also quite ruthless toward his enemies and was capable of all sorts of schemes. However, he was still able to sympathize with Beauty Ghost and was shocked to learn of her death later on. Indeed a complex character overall.
Candice Zhao (赵茜) as Evil Bodhisattva (毒菩萨). Scorpion Sect assassin.
Yu Nai Jia (于乃佳) as Pretty Arhat (俏罗汉). Scorpion Sect assassin.
Liu Yue Tao (刘月涛) as Qin Song (秦松). Scorpion Sect assassin.
Pan Jian (潘健) as Jiang Lao Guai (蒋老怪). Scorpion Sect assassin.
Huang You Ming (黃宥明) as Ye Bai Yi (葉白衣). Sword Immortal. He was sure was crazy and could be so childish too. Talking about his random bickering and fighting with Lao Wen at the various points here. It was hilarious to watch in a way. He was stubborn in some things YET at least, he redeemed himself later. He wasn’t too, too unreasonable, I guess. Just hard to get past some things. Then he thought it over and managed to see past some things hence letting go and helping them instead of holding onto old principles. Well, he was already ancient. So, how could he change so fast? It made sense. He was also stuck in the snowy mountains for a very long time.
Kou Zhen Hai (寇振海) as Huang He (黃鶴). Beggar clan’s elder. Despicable. Even more despicable than Tao Hong and her husband. Because he wanted to sell off the poor girl to a brothel to get some money if he wasn’t able to use her for anything anymore. Disgusting old scumbag.
Bryan Leung as Old Guard (老守衛). It was funny seeing him in here with such a small role. But he delivered with humor. It reminded me of some old comedies he starred in ages back.
Normal Chui as Bi Chang Feng (畢長風). Ouch! He rather accepted the nails than stick around. That was how awful the place was. I felt bad for him. I seriously did.
Wang Rong (汪融) as Han Ying (韓英).
Miles Wei (魏哲鸣) as Jing Bei Yuan (景北淵) aka Seventh Lord (七爺).
Fan Jin Wei (范津玮) as Wu Xi (烏溪) aka Da Wu (大巫).
Wo Bo Qing (王铂清) as Mo Huai Yang (莫懷陽). Gentle Wind Swords Sect leader. Hated him. He killed my favorite couple.
Relationships – family, friends, romances, etc.:
Zhang Zhe Han and Gong Jun as Ah Xu and Lao Wen. In the words of Ah Xiang, Lao Wen seemed more human when he was with Ah Xu. Well, she knew her master best, so who am I to argue, right? LOL! Seriously, I think ZZH’s best scenes were with Gong Jun. Because most of their interactions sent me laughing for no apparent reason. Well, unless it was those super serious, intense debates. But I thought those scenes were essential to bring out ZZH’s character more. This wasn’t meant to be a dunk on ZZH, but it was because I couldn’t relate to his overly forgiving nature as much–like said before. They had a lot of hilarious exchanges throughout. Yet I felt their relationship only carried to a certain point. Another petty move on my part but if thought of in a serious manner, regardless of how much they disagreed on their principles, I felt Lao Wen was always ready to jump into action to defend and help Ah Xu. It couldn’t be said the same for Ah Xu, except for two times. Examples? The part where the Five Lakes Alliances tried to have a meeting, it didn’t go as planned, various parties wanted to snatch Cheng Ling, Lao Wen jumped in to help Ah Xu save Cheng Ling and get the kid out of there immediately. On the other hand, the scene where Gao Chong was framed and eventually led to his downfall? Both of them were arguing halfway through and Ah Xu totally abandoned Lao Wen, saying if they were so different, then they should part ways, etc. Then Lao Wen was left there to figure things out on his own. So much for friends. The two times I mentioned Ah Xu actually doing something to prove that he was Lao Wen’s friend? The time Ye Bai Yi almost killed Lao Wen. That speech was awesome from Ah Xu, saying how everyone could condemn or go after Lao Wen but not Ye Bai Yi. The other time? It was the part mentioned in his character discussion where he thought Lao Wen was dead and then went to the extreme of pulling out his nails. He finally stood up for Lao Wen and realized how naive his previous thoughts were. The irony? The majority were in on it, even Cheng Ling. It sucked to be the only one not knowing. But if people thought Lao Wen didn’t take him seriously, it was far from the truth. He thought a lot hence willing to change his views, etc. for Ah Xu. And who could forget how Lao Wen was willing to sacrifice for Ah Xu during the ending part? It was heartbreaking. So, their relationship to me was only fun to watch in times of random moments but didn’t really stick as something deeper than that if analyzed further. Yeah, I know, people are frustrated with my view. But I’m the odd one out who picked on the most ridiculous parts. But hey, we can’t all be the same.
Gong Jun/ Wen Ke Xing and Zhou Ye/ Gu Xiang as master and servant to siblings relationship. Seriously, I cracked up at their interactions time after time. They were hilarious together or apart. Because they talked behind each other’s backs, lol. He told her that he considered her as his sister. And they indeed looked like a pair of bickering siblings. Their burns toward one another at times. She was sure brave with her words, etc., not fearing backlash at all, considering his status. Yet there were equally touching moments between them. Like how he gave his blessing to her in regard to her upcoming marriage to Gao Wei Ning. She was indeed the princess of the Ghost Valley. They all dothed on her and prepared well. It was such a tragedy how things turned out. Her ending? It was so sad and heartbreaking. He went insane, which no one could blame him for, after realizing what was happening and tried to avenge her death. It was too much. That was also the part where I swore off on Priest’s future works. So good luck on me reading the novels now, lol. I know adaptations could be so different, but they managed to keep fans happy about the majority, right? So yeah.
Zhou Ye/ Gu Xiang and Ma Wen Yuan/ Cao Wei Ning. Omg, they cracked me up so much too. They reminded me of Huang Rong and Guo Jing, lol. Serious. He was such an honest guy and so clueless regarding some matters that it was lovable. She was so smart and fierce at times, but her heart was so soft when it came to some situations as well. They were the highlight of the show when it came to fans wanting to find a couple to ship for. Yet that all went to hell when the ending rolled around. Seriously, it didn’t matter if they got a happy ending in a side story. It wasn’t the same, come on. Do it right the first time around instead of that for the purpose of cranking up the drama. Yeah, I missed the point again and super unromantic right now. But seriously, I hated their ending. So tragic. How could anyone have the heart to kill them like that? Well, the author did, so…yeah. On the upside, Zhou Ye and Ma Wen Yuan got to work on an AD together, so…not all lost? They should star in some modern romance together. That would make up for this one. I know it wouldn’t be the same. But come on, we need some compensation as fans.
The overwhelming product placement in the name of Woolong nuts. Granted, it was their sponsor after all, so they had to stick it in there to fulfill their duties. But seriously, it broke the flow of the story at the most random point. They sort of covered it up in a somewhat crafty way, but you know it was meant for the sponsors.
The costumes and hairstyles. It was indeed very nice and well thought out. I was impressed. Despite them being on budget, etc., it was nice seeing how so many characters had several outfit changes throughout. Except for the Tao Hao couple who shared an outrageous set of outfits, lol. That was horrendous–even if I didn’t understand too much about fashion. It stuck out like insane. It was too loud. But seriously though, I saw some reused outfits from other dramas in here. But once again, considering they were on a budget, it was already an awesome job.
The music. I think fans would be love the efforts of the production team for composing such a soundtrack for the drama. It was suitable for the story, etc. No doubt about it. It highlighted their bonds, etc.
Location. They’re on a budget I know. It was noticeable with some of the reused sets. Yet, it wasn’t too, too bad. I especially liked the peach blossoms scenes though. It was quite a portrait all right.
The ending. Anyone who read the novel (NOT me, obviously) or watched the bonus scene knew what happened. But let’s talk about how messy the wrap up was. Considering how I admitted that I didn’t read the novel, I wouldn’t know if it was changed or not. However, the wrap up was really messy. They sure wanted to kill the majority of the characters to send a message or something. Or did the writers give up? Because they killed about 95% of the important characters in here. Yeah, I got it, it was a brutal battle, an ambush, etc. But come on, really?
Remember how I went on this outrageous rant about The Untamed being like Xiao Ao Jiang Hu? Yeah, I’m going to do the same with this one. Word of Honor was actually a combination of Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber and Handsome Siblings. Okay, you can throw a dash of The Return of the Condor Heroes because of the ending scene too. The reason why I say it was like HSDS was because of how Cheng Ling kept getting captured and chased by all the sects or various parties claiming to be friends and wanting information from him or the piece of the key as well. It was a similar theme to Wu Ji–with him being asked about his godfather and the whereabouts of the dragon saber. The fact that they shared the same family name caused me to see the link faster. The reason why I say Handsome Siblings was the ghost valley aspect and the complicated background Wen Ke Xing had. And the ending scene reminded me madly of the part where Yang Guo and Xiao Long Nv practiced their martial arts, lol. (I soon found out after making that comment that someone actually made an MV of it comparing one of the adaptations to this series, so don’t say I’m the only one making the connection, lol.)
Recommended? I think that fans of the main cast would love it. It was at a bearable length. The humor kept the series going for me. But if you loved the author’s work, I thought it would be fun to watch and see what happened with the adaptation.
Yes, I watched it. It was on Netflix, so that was convenient. I knew it was adapted from a danmei novel, but of course, had been changed because of certain rules, which I won’t get into it. (NOT my place to say anything anyway, considering how I was just watching. I have no right to say anything in that matter.) Anyway, it was surprisingly addicting, because I actually spent several days watching it in one go versus my dizzy drama jumping at times. Overall? Not bad, but I felt some stuff could do without, because after a while, it got a bit repetitive, which didn’t allow for a satisfying ending. Well, in some ways, it was satisfying. But in others, I felt they could have elaborated more. Or was that how it was in the novel? I need to hunt it down later to read. So my impression and opinions of it will only be based on the series for now. I’ll probably double back later to discuss if I do read it. (Because those of you who follow me know both my to-watch and to-read lists are WAY too long.)
Monday, December 27th, 2021: Finally hunted down the novel to read so will adjust comments accordingly as I explore more about the details in the novel itself.
All right, let’s get into it, huh?
Xiao Zhan (肖战) as Wei Wu Xian (魏无羡) aka Wei Ying (魏婴) aka Wiling Patriarch (夷陵老祖) and Mo Xuan Yu (莫玄羽). This was my first time ever watching Xiao Zhan although I know who he is. So, this was me going in blind and leaving up to fate, lol. But I was seriously blown away by his performance. Yes, I was surprised. I meant there are a lot of popular artists recently that I couldn’t keep track anymore. So, that was why I didn’t expect much and was just curious about the series in general. But he was seriously good. The first scene of the drama was so intense that I wondered how he could become that way when the flashbacks showed him so carefree. But that was just a tiny picture. Yet XZ’s acting was solid throughout, showing the different contrast of his innocent and carefree side versus the dark side when he embraced the alternative method. No one could blame him for that one (if they weren’t maniacs like the majority of the so-called good characters in there). However, that was really something. How could one not love Wei Wu Xian? His carefree nature, his outspoken views, and his relentless righteousness. Perhaps, that was why the other characters hated him. They were jealous of his ability to do as he pleased or taking the right actions at the appropriate time. They didn’t have his bravery or guts, so they were jealous of him hence wanting to extinguish him regardless of reasons. They didn’t have a good reason for hating him anyway. And the evil forces? They just couldn’t control him, so they chose to get rid of him–with whatever way they could find to try.
Wang Yi Bo (王一博) as Lan Wang Ji (蓝忘机) aka Lan Zhan (蓝湛) aka Light Bearing Lord (含光君). This was also my first time watching Wang Yi Bo and I also know who he is. Considering how I was somewhat stalking some of his other works too, but still haven’t watched. How was he? He was surprisingly good as well. I think I saw some trailers or a certain drama where he portrayed a playful character and was really lively. It was definitely a contrast comparing to this one that I almost thought I had mistaken and had to check again to make sure I have the right person in mind. But it was indeed him and his range were quite impressive as well. He carried through his character quite well. Lan Zhan grew up knowing only what was taught and expected of him. But then he seemed to step outside and learned more about the grayness of life, not just plain black and white–or how those people claimed they were. He still kept a kind and pure heart, but he also learned to detect those disguises people wore. It was indeed quite fascinating watching him grow through time.
Gusu Lan Sect (姑蘇藍氏)
Liu Hai Kuan (刘海宽) as Lan Xi Chen (蓝曦臣). Mixed feelings. Sure, I got it. Meng Yao was his friend. He did have a point that they should have proof with stuff and how Meng Yao helped them at various points. But I just didn’t feel for him like how I felt for some characters in here. I appreciated his honesty and fairness at times versus his uncle, but he wasn’t a memorable figure who broke past the barriers of separating himself from the despicable hypocrites in here. So yeah, it wasn’t much to go on for me.
James Huang (黃子騰) as Lan Qi Ren (蓝启仁). Lan Zhan and Lan Xi Chen’s uncle. I didn’t like him at all throughout–regardless of his reasons. He was the definition of hypocrite in here. What made it worse was how he seemed to turn a blind eye to it all when it was one of the other sects doing the terrible deeds, etc. Sure, he was still disturbed, but it was like he didn’t seem to react that strongly–unless it was Wei Wu Xian or something. Like he had something to prove.
Zheng Fan Xing (鄭繁星) and Kevin Jiang (姜奕廷) as Lan Zi Zhui (蓝思追) aka Lan Yuan (蓝愿) aka Wen Yuan (温苑). Ah Yuan so was cute as a kid. He was equally cute in the later years. It was hilarious watching him and somewhat heartwarming too.
Guo Cheng (郭丞) as Lan Jing Yi (蓝景仪). He was somewhat short-tempered. But I found it was normal, considering his age. However, I guessed in regard to the Lan sect, it was unusual or even uncalled for. But he was a hilarious character regardless.
Carman Lee as Lan Yi (蓝翼). I almost didn’t recognize her. Well, it has been a long time since I watched anything of hers so yeah, that was on me, really, lol. But I enjoyed seeing her in here at the beginning part. She had a mysterious background and indeed played an important part in the grand picture. And she had rabbits! Well, seriously, this role of hers reminded of her role as Xiao Long Nv ages back, lol. It was a nice reminder because of this role. Her background was equally awesome and her grace was visible through her brief appearance. Andy may I say those assholes totally let a bunch of men in here off for a lot of stuff but when it came to what she did in the past, they were all like, “Don’t be like her”? (Or was their model woman like that was the mean girls’ club Mrs. Jin and Mrs. Jiang? Or perhaps, the author wanted to highlight and expose their hypocritical nature by letting us see for ourselves.)
Lanling Jin Sect (蘭陵金氏)
Shen Xiao Hai (沈曉海) as Jin Guang Shan (金光善). Hypocrite and disgusting existence of a human-being. Yet acted all high and mighty toward others. If he was so superior and thought Meng Yao was unworthy of his family name, why did he get involved with a prostitute in the first place? If he was so high and mighty, why did he go to the brothel in the first place? The point? He totally deserved his ending. Yes, I said it. It was disgusting, to say the least. But the only people I felt bad for were the prostitutes who had to deal with that situation and lost their lives. They were just trying to survive because of their unfortunate circumstances. What was these Jin family members’ excuses for being such scumbags?
Hu Xiao Ting (胡小庭) as Mrs. Jin (金夫人). Hated her too. She looked down on others with her arrogant attitude and her assumptions of others. I wouldn’t expect anything less from her or her husband, so yeah. It was a really low bar anyway. She acted like she was some royalty like the rest of her family. She had no freaking damn right to criticize anyone, especially Wei Wu Xian. If she wanted to look for flaws, look no further than her husband. Or because she hated her life and herself so much that she didn’t want to admit it hence directing it toward making others’ lives miserable?
Zhu Zan Jin (朱贊錦) as Meng Yao (孟瑶) aka Jin Guang Yao (金光瑶). I actually felt bad for him at first with all the bullying he endured and how all those assholes acted like they were high and mighty because of their background. However, that ended when he decided to target Wei Wu Xian like the rest of the jealous assholes in here. It wasn’t because of my bias toward WWX that I stopped caring for him either. But it was because he targeted people who didn’t do anything to him. Yes, that was my problem. WWX never acted superior to him or whatever, so why was he doing that? So, yes, I sort of got it that he wanted to make those who hurt him pay and all–even if that wasn’t the best way or whatever. But at least, he had a legit reason for his anger and hate later on. But escalating and pulling all those schemes? He just wanted power and fame and fusing his greed just like any of the “good, model” fake assholes in here. So yeah. I completely rooted the day of his downfall.
Cao Yu Chen (曹煜辰) as Jin Zi Xuan (金子軒). I didn’t like him at all in the beginning. Then continued to escalate my dislike for him as the series grew. I didn’t care if he had principle or not. He was still a spoiled asshole through and through. It was always about him deciding because oh yeah, men had a lot more say back then. So he automatically shoved his way into making all the decisions about his relationship with Yan Li. Like it was all right that he scolded her, bullied her, neglected her, and eventually realizing her good side and wanting to get together with her. AND if she didn’t oblige, it was her fault. I didn’t care for all those technicalities with how he changed later or was even able to see her good side, etc. The thing that remained unchanged was he got to decide all the variables while she just had to agree because she already liked him anyway so it was just a matter of him accepting her. I don’t like seeing people needing to jump through unreasonable amount of hoops like a prize-winning strategy to get with a girl. But seriously, this guy needed to jump through several billion more for me to be satisfied. Because he could just do somewhat of a half-ass caring deed, then she was convinced. Really? Not to mention how he had his mama as his backup too, so more pressuring her to give in. AND if she didn’t, she was the monster. Major eye-roll here. I didn’t want to him to die, really. That just complicated things even more. But I wanted him to suffer more, that was all. And when I finally read the novel, he was even worse than was let on. His sole objection to the marriage with Yan Li in the first place wasn’t because it was “arranged marriage” like the series emphasized many times. The real reason was because the Jiang weren’t powerful enough and also because Yan Li was considered plain in people’s eyes (aka NOT as beautiful nor talented nor rich enough background like other girls of her same age, etc). The point? He thought Yan Li wasn’t worthy of him or his family. But because his mom and Yan Li’s mom were besties, so he was not being able to oppose it. I guess if the series piled on by showing too much of his arrogance, the audience would end up hating the actor even more, so they dialed it down and justified it with him feeling helpless about the whole arranged marriage hence lashing out.
Yao Shu Hao (姚書豪) as Jin Zi Xun (金子勋). Another annoying character from the Jin family member. But what did you expect from this family anyway, right? I didn’t care for him one way or another anyway. He was just another useless character used to fuse the intensity of the plot. So it didn’t matter for me if he lived or died. It was just how the plot was. His arrogance knew no bounds, like the rest of his family. So yeah, I saw it coming with his downfall. He got manipulated because he thought he was all that.
Jin Lu Ying (金璐瑩) as Qin Su (秦愫). Perhaps, she was the only one that was somewhat related to the Jin family that I emphasized with. Because she was seriously innocent. She was conned and manipulated and later lost her life because of what happened. It was indeed very, very tragic. What happened to her made Meng Yao completely irredeemable to me. If it was true that. She was the only one who never looked down on him nor treated him like less than human–unlike the majority of the others in here who knew about his background. He was a complete scumbag for putting her through such pain and suffering.
Qi Pei Xin (漆培鑫) as Jin Ling (金凌) aka Jin Ru Lan (金如兰). Jin Zi Xuan and Jiang Yan Li’s son. He was the only tolerable one within the Jin family for me. At first, I didn’t like him either. It was mostly because of his family and how arrogant he seemed. It fitted in with the rest of his arrogant family. But during scenes when he was roaming around on his own to investigate matters and even interacted with some others, I liked him a little more. Sure, he was spoiled for numerous reasons. But he wasn’t unreasonable to the point of infuriating, unlike the rest of the Jin sect.
Wang Yi Fei (王藝霏) as Luo Qing Yang (罗青羊) aka Mian Mian (绵绵). I really liked her for her bravery and speaking up at the right moment, not just doing that for convenience’s sake. I didn’t lump her in along with the other Jin members because she was just a disciple, not having real power in the grand scheme of things. However, that was what made her admirable. She was willing to speak up because that was the right thing to do. I wouldn’t blame her if she had stayed quiet during that meeting since those hypocritical assholes were really scary. I actually feared for her life afterward. However, I was still very glad she said something and even clapped her on.
Qinghe Nie Sect (清河聶氏)
Wang Yi Zhou (王翌舟) as Nie Ming Jue (聂明玦). I actually had a little hope that he might be different at first. But he became someone who wasn’t any different than the majority in here. His inability to see through the actual black and white versus what was on the surface made it equally frustrating while watching the others. He could call Meng Yao a manipulative maniac all he wanted, no one was going to deny that. But he went too far when he even brought up Meng Yao’s familly background, which was something Meng Yao couldn’t change. That was the low part. One could say who cared about Meng Yao’s feelings because he was evil anyway. But that was the whole point that had fused his hate from the start. Condemn him for his actions all you want, but to poke at something he can’t control? Not to mention how Nie, himself, also thought he was superior to people as well, which made him unlikable regardless of how righteous his image seemed to project. It was just a bunch of fancy words or masquerade for the others to have high regard of him. He was equally power hungry as the others, so it was pathetic to see him making excuses for his actions or words as well.
Ji Li (紀李) as Nie Huai Sang (聂怀桑). He was one of the rare characters within those complicated sects that I liked. Despite his incompetence at first–or so with how he purposely let others think of him as such, I found him more relatable than most of the characters in here. He just wanted to live the usual normal life yet was dragged into all these unnecessary fights and power grabs. It was indeed frustrating yet he used humor and lightheartedness to pull through at various points. The fact that he enjoyed Wei Wu Xian’s company and wasn’t shy about that made it even more humorous. He wasn’t fake about it either since he indeed welcomed WWX schemes at times like sneaking out or getting certain prohibited items for them. It was one of those obnoxious stunts they wanted to pull just because. It was the feeling of being young. Even when he finally became the leader of his sect because of his brother’s passing, I didn’t blame him for being inactive. Could you blame him? He was just trying to stay out of trouble, considering how all those other sects’ continuous fights over power because of greed. There were rarely real heroes in here. So while the others laughed or criticized him for being a coward, I thought he was just trying to survive to the best of his abilities. The big reveal toward the end was indeed a good one. Because it showed how capable he was if he was ambitious enough. One shouldn’t underestimate someone else’s abilities. He just wanted to live a normal life, but he was forced to take actions when his brother was killed just like that. So I totally sided with him on taking down Meng Yao later. He was probably the only one who didn’t care for the power. His talk with WWX and Lan Zhan at the end summed it up. He didn’t want those things anyway. He just wanted justice because it seemed like the so-called good sects didn’t want to bother with the truth. So he exposed them all. I think he was one of the characters that the series robbed of screen time, because he was seen often with WWX aside from Lan Zhen and Jiang Cheng during the times they were at Gusu hearing the lectures (as the novel reavel and highlighted some of the mischiefs the guys got themselves into). It was such a shame that he wasn’t seen much anymore because they needed to cut back because the production team decided to up the scenes of useless characters more.
Qishan Wen Sect (岐山溫氏)
Xiu Qing as Wen Ruo Han (温若寒). Once led his sect to bring down a certain someone in the name of trying to extinguish the forces of evil yet succumbed to the Stygian Iron’s power as well. Hey, if he wasn’t already filled with greed and a lust for power, he wouldn’t be affected anyway. So stop acting like it was the piece’s fault.
Wang Rong (汪融) as Wen Xu (溫旭). Like father, like son. No need to say more. The typical song of the Wen family. He was just a little smarter than his brother, that was all.
He Peng (賀鵬) as Wen Chao (溫晁). A typical cruel bully yet turned into a coward when faced with a more powerful force. I had no sympathy for him. Who would? I thought there should be even more punishment coming his way. Like play the cat and mouse game with him a little longer. After all, he was the mastermind behind unleashing Wen Zhu Liu on several people thus causing them to lose their power core.
Zoey Meng Zi Yi (孟子義) as Wen Qing (温情). I didn’t know what to expect of her character. She seemed mysterious and had a personal goal in mind. I didn’t know how it was going to play out either with her being so close to those psychos. But it wasn’t like anyone was safe. However, her character grew on me as the story developed more. She was indeed placed into a very hard spot. She had to take care of her innocent brother and the rest of the clan. I didn’t agree at first when she thought Wen Ruo Han was someone she owed gratitude to since he was responsible for waking up the evils upon the hills after all. But I realized I should cut her some slacks because of the situation she was put in. She indeed proved to be more capable than her outer appearance and also showed bravery more than the majority in here. It was indeed tragic that she had to die in the hands of those hypocrites. As for her acting, I was surprised. I have watched several of her dramas already, but I felt she was coming back to the right path for some reason in this one. Even if she lacked screen time but somehow she did better in a sense of portraying her role. Because in LOCH, she had a major role but failed to impress for me. Maybe it was the pressure or something, but I felt it was too trying. This one, it seemed to show more depth with her acting.
Yu Bin (于斌) as Wen Ning (温宁). He was so cute and lovable. It was such a tragedy that he was used and manipulated time after time by various parties in here. He had such a pure heart and just wanted to be with his family and particularly tried to help his sister with what he could. They were seriously living in such a wrong place and wrong time. I was so glad he made it until the end, because he seriously deserved a fresh start after all that he’d been through.
Feng Ming Jing (冯茗惊) as Wen Zhu Liu (温逐流) aka Core Melting Hand (化丹手). This guy had a lot of audacity when it came to excuses. Well, he even changed his family name in order to kiss up to the Wen family, so yeah, it wasn’t surprising with all the things he did to justify his actions. Anyone felt like he should have suffered more and much longer? Because I felt it was still too easy on him with how it all turned out.
Lu En Jie (卢蒽洁) as Wang Ling Qiao (王灵娇). Hated her. Anyone think she and Yu Zi Yuan (Mrs. Jiang) were twin sisters? Maybe they were long lost siblings or something. Or if not, maybe long lost mother and daughter, considering their ages. Because if you take out their opposite backgrounds (rich, powerful family versus rising up to the top from servant satus), they were exactly alike, looking down on others and all. Their arrogance knew no bounds and their obliviousness also was quite top-notch. They were equally selfish and power-lust. And how could I forget the fact that she mentioned how “servants should behave like servants”, Yu Zi Yuan had agreed with her (and that was after she–Yu Zi Yuan–looked at WWX briefly). So, they seriously had the same mentality. Also, what was the difference between them anyway that with how they tried to snatch men for Mrs. JIang to exude royalty or superiority above Wang Ling Qiao? (NOT defending this witch here, but I don’t see the difference with them, seriously. One used seduction to grab Wen Chao’s attention and eventually got the brief power and attention until her downfall. The other? She had her parents’ power thus forcing Jiang Feng Mian into the marriage. They were both tenfold more despicable and disgusting than all of the prostitutes in here that was looked down upon by different sects and people in here. Why? The prostitutes had no choice and because of their circumstances, they had to survive somehow. They, at least, put up a sign, unlike some people who acted like royalty but were even worse. Yeah, you can be shocked and disgusted with my interpretation and analysis, but what I find more disgusting are those who were let off by their actions because it was wrapped up in a nice package because of their good background. Interestingly, Wang Ling Qiao was mocking Mrs. Jiang for how she scored her husband, not realizing the irony. They both used their own tricks to get what they wanted. And I’m not condemning people because they have wants and needs either, but the condescension toward others made them hypocrites and despicable, so I wanted to break it down and pointed out the obvious. Also, no, I’m not letting Jian Feng Mian off, scroll down.)
Zhang Bin (張彬) as Wen Mao (溫卯).
Yunmeng Jiang Sect (雲夢江氏)
Lu Jian Min (陸劍民) as Jiang Feng Mian (江枫眠). I say he had immense patience and was surprised he called off the arranged marriage thing, which was totally the right call. Too bad for his fate. As for his favoritism toward Wei Wu Xian, I didn’t think it was favoritism per say. Maybe just different perspective, but I thought he felt guilty for not being there for his friends at the right moment hence showing special attention and being extra caring toward WWX. The poor little guy was an orphan when he took him in after all. Can you blame the man for trying to show sympathy for the little kid who lost his parents at such a young age? It was ridiculous to think he didn’t care for his own kids. What did his wife wanted him to do? Abuse the kid and treat him like a slave, like how his wife would treat others? Perhaps, his problem was his inability to communicate properly with his son hence causing a lot of frustration and resentment. He obviously would leave the sect to his son, there was no doubt about it. Yet his wife kept harping on the power grab and whatnot that it was driving me off the wall. It made me suspicious if those rumors and what those gossipy assholes said were true about her forcing his hands to marry her ages ago. (The answer: It was in the novel, but it was much worse. Her parents were powerful force in the area, much more powerful than his parents BUT seemed to take a liking to Jiang Feng Mian, thinking he was a good match for their daughter. So, they used their power to force his hands. He rejected them politely at first and then agreed later because WWX’s mom already gotten together with WWX’s dad. Perhaps, lost love–mostly his one-sided love toward WWX’s mom–clouded his judgment and he gave in in the end aka marrying the witch. But his one mistake was touching her. Just leave her on her own, saying how he already fulfilled his end of the deal with marrying her, didn’t say anything else. OR was he afraid she would tattle-tell to her parents on him, like, “He didn’t f*ck me?” Sorry, if you think I’m too vulgar or it’s appropriate to say those things. BUT I think it was all on him if he touched her and regretted it later. It was all on him. As much as I hated her ass, he didn’t get to walk away with the victim card just because. The other possible reason? He probably feared her family hence needing to fulfill some stuff in this business transaction. Yes, I didn’t think much more about their so-called marriage other than a business transaction. Especially, the power imbalance of the two sides at one point. No wonder he wanted to end the cycle of arranged marriage by dissolving the other one to free Yan Li. Too bad, he couldn’t save his daughter, no matter how hard he tried. You can hate my interpretation all you want, I’m sick and tired of people romanticizing and making excuses for arranged marriage. It’s nothing more than a business transaction.)
Zhang Jing Tong (張淨桐) as Yu Zi Yuan (虞紫鸢). Hated her. I don’t care what her gripe was anymore. She was just another bitter, arrogant person in here. Not to mention how she was best friends with Mrs. Jin as well. So that showed you how arrogant and condescending she was all in one picture. She looked down on others, wanted to exude her power at all time and thought nothing of anyone who wasn’t part of her royal family. She was one of the top-notch hypocrites in here too. One minute, she was scolding her husband for being a coward for listening to the Wen sect’s order and coming to that one class the Wen held, the next she blamed Wei Wu Xian for causing the sect’s doom. Seriously? Pick a lane lady. She accused her husband of having an affair with Wei Wu Xian’s mom and having Wei Wu Xian hence the favoritism, etc. But he could always accuse her back of cheating on him because their kids didn’t take after him at all. Yeah, my petty ass hated her regardless of how she sacrificed herself to let them escape, etc. Or more like she was upset because Wei Wu Xian stole her thunder by doing the right thing first AND she just sat around in her royal castle while things happened hence her chance of fame and glory were gone. Again, completely hypocritical. Or possibly how she was super jealous of WWX’s mom hence picking on him nonstop. I’m not saying WWX was completely innocent at times since he got into a lot of mischief too. But it was like she didn’t care to look past all of that to see he had a good heart in general. So yeah, she just became another character in this whole madness, nothing special. She could have become an awesome character because she seemed to be a powerful female figure, which was rare back then, but she abused her power just like any other so-called good characters in here. Call me cold-blooded or whatever, but I had no sympathy for her or her ending. She totally took advantage of that scene to beat the crap out of WWX because she was just sadistic like that. She had a chance to kill the other witch but didn’t do it fast enough so that resulted in another chain of events too. Yes, I blamed her and I don’t care one bit to tear her down to the last bit. It was either a plot flaw or a character flaw, but with such an arrogant attitude, her downfall was inevitable. And when I finally read the novel, wow, the character came on the screen so accurately and vividly like in the story. So, I clap on the production team and thus the actress for doing a good job. Because her arrogance was exactly like how it was told in the novel. But as I read the novel longer, I changed my mind about letting her die alongside her husband like that. Why didn’t the writers make it that she had to survive and serve under the other witch for as long as the other witch found it amusing and all? It would be harder for her to live, but I want to see her humiliated because she was so royal and looked down on others without a thought–as said above. She should get a dose of her own medicine. Also, she thought she was some royalty because of her background and all, but she wasn’t any different that some other spoiled brats out there. Oh yeah, regarding how she blamed WWX for causing troubles and dooming the sect, have she ever thought the Wen clan wouldn’t let their place live peacefully anyway? It was eventually their turn, regardless of how small their sect was comparing to some other major powers. It was still a threat if they were to stay in power at a certain region. WWX was just use as a scapegoat to start some kind of feud right there. If not for that, it was something else. But yeah, WWX was the problem, according to her and her royal son.
Wang Zuo Cheng (汪卓成) as Jiang Cheng (江澄). He totally took after his mother. No doubt about it. The stingy attitude, the pettiness, the hypocritical trait, you name it, he got it. At first, I didn’t really have a problem with him per say. Since he faced a lot of pressure, trying to live up to his father’s expectations. He was also at the same time stuck between his parents because of how they couldn’t seem to get along, etc. However, he lost me with his hypocritical nature at first and then some more later. Why did I say he was a hypocrite? He scolded Wei Wu Xian for all the mischief WWX got into but ended up reaping because of those acts anyway. He had no problem accepting those prizes WWX brought back because WWX broke curfew or rules, so he might as well sit down and shut up about those criticisms. Examples? Wine incident, he totally took the wine. Fishes? He totally ate them too. One could say he was just concerned and overly worried, making sure nothing happened, but if he was so strict on his principles, he shouldn’t have caved. And the fact that he wanted to be a hero was also a joke. He chided WWX for all the messes WWX got them into just like his mom or when WWX stuck up for the innocent faction of the Wen clan, he was annoyed more than help. Seriously? He only wanted to be the hero on paper, for fame, NOT wanting to do the right thing when it called for it. It was disclosed at the end that he used himself to help WWX get away that one time hence resulting in his golden core being destroyed and it was indeed very tragic how the chain of events had led to that point, but I can’t really sympathize with him or like him as a character when he never stuck up for WWX when it mattered. He let outsiders influence his decision and also see WWX with other people’s eyes. It was like he never understood WWX at all, despite them growing up together. After all, he did get his glory and fame in the end, so why should I feel sorry for him? Oh yeah, don’t even get me started on how he was jealous of WWX because of Wen Qing. He dared to ask her why she didn’t approach him first? Would he have helped? Based on his cowardly attitude of not wanting to offend those high school bullies that are only “righteous” in names, yeah, he wasn’t going to do anything anyway. Just because he finally conspired with WWX to trick the other sects into thinking they had a fallout didn’t mean I would let him off. Should I give him a medal? He didn’t want to get involved in the first place. Again, hero on paper, not wanting to do the hard thing. If he were to stand on the side–regardless of what those yoyos say and speak up in front of everyone, then I would cut him more slacks. But no, he wanted to keep his safe spot. So, yeah.
Xuan Lu (宣璐) as Jiang Yan Li (江厌离). Mixed feelings throughout. I know, people are all like, “How could you not love her?” I was never a fan of pushover characters and she was the definition of it. I actually liked her in flashbacks more than when they were all grown up. She showed great courage and feist as a young girl. All grown up? Was it because of some typical rules and decorum or whatever that had caused her to change and that she was forced to? Because she was just too boring for me. Sure, she was a great older sister figure for both Wei Wu Xian and Jiang Cheng, but I think her character went straight downhill when she met with Jin Zi Xuan and kept tagging him like a pest. I disliked his arrogant ass a lot, but she didn’t need to give him more ammunition for his attacks. She was a daughter of a powerful figure after all, she could have tons of people lining up at her door, requesting her hand in marriage. But no, she just had to fall for the most egoistical, arrogant asshole in the entire universe. I blamed that on her mom for sealing her fate like that since she was taught to obey on command like a robot and the evil witch was the one who did the whole arranged marriage thing. Her character almost became redeemable for me at the part where there was the hunt being organized and all. She totally rocked at that moment for standing up for Wei Wu Xian, someone she claimed to be her brother. Yet she completely failed with the landing when she caved to Mrs. Jin’s request of returning with the latter. Really? Girl, I was rooting for you. Then you blew it. And I didn’t know how and why she was at the scene and ended up taking the stab for WWX, but she wasn’t supposed to be there. Or had she gone mad hence diving into such a dangerous place at that time? It was like whoever set up the plot wanted another extra soapy formula to add to WWX’s guilt or something. It was ridiculous. It was also one of the mystery I wanted resolved by the end but it didn’t happen. We all know Meng Yao manipulated the flute play and all, but there were still many unanswered questions. The actual characters needed to know about that, not just us audience connecting the dots on our own.
Yi City Arc
Song Ji Yang (宋繼揚) as Xiao Xing Chen (晓星尘). A righteous person and one of the true heroes in here. It was such a tragedy with how he was brought down.
Li Bo Wen (李泊文) as Song Lan (宋岚). Another person who deserved a hero title in here. Too bad, right? Luckily, he was able to survive after all that happened and continued to carry on his heroic deeds later on.
Wang Hao Xuan (王皓軒) as Xue Yang (薛洋). Is it messed up that I enjoyed watching him more than half of the characters in here? It was probably the mystery of how he was involved in the grand picture aside from his taunting acts. Was he despicable? Yes. Was he annoying? Yes. But I felt he brought more to the story than the majority in here. Having a link to the Stygian Iron piece helped. But there was also his own motive as well. After all, background was only background. Over half of the characters in here had complicated links to one another. But the essence of his character was what mattered. He was a bitter, turned cruel person because of childhood traumas. So he only knew how to cook up schemes and harm others as he saw fit. Yet when he finally met and got to know Xiao Xing Chen, he realized something else too. Through all his messed up schemes against Xiao Xing Chen, he somehow developed a strange friendship with the latter. Perhaps, he craved the companionship after having to put up a shield for so long. But in some ways, it created this conflict within him. Yet in the end, his psychopath side won. Because no matter how Xiao Xing Chen changed him or his perspective, Xue Yang just couldn’t be saved. When all things failed, he chose to take the extreme approach.
Krystal Chen (陈卓璇) as Ah Qing (阿箐). I felt unease about her character at first. Like with the way she was carrying on with her con, she was going to get in trouble. And she did. Yet she was affected by Xiao Xing Chen and seemed to had a second thought about it all. Luckily, the thing about her was she saw right through Xue Yang. Too bad, she couldn’t get the upper hand on that or help them both escape their fates. However, she was already so brave. It was tragic with how things turned out with her. It was also ironic that she pretended to be blind at first but became blind for real later. I guess, it was Xue Yang’s twisted way of fulfilling her wish? Like she was wishing for it.
Feng Cong (馮聰) as Su She (苏涉). A despicable, coward. He thought he was all that and wanted to be a hero yet didn’t pass the test. He still had the audacity of being jealous of Lan Zhan, which was like ten shades of pathetic. Seriously. He had no right to be bitter toward anyone but himself.
Liu Ting Yu (刘庭羽) as Bao Shan San Ren (抱山散人). Mentioned a lot throughout but only appeared several times in flashbacks? I forgot already since a lot of things happened throughout.
Cao Jun Xiang (曹峻祥) as Ou Yang Zi Zhen (欧阳子真). Oh, he was hilarious. A very brave lad who went against his father and the other elders’ wishes. It was hilarious to see how he made all these smart comments about them.
Yu Zi Kuang (於子寬) as Xue Chong Hai (薛重亥). Xue Yang’s ancestor.
Relationships – family, friends, romances, etc.:
Xiao Zhan and Wang Yi Bo as Wei Wu Xian and Lan Zhan. Their friendship was what kept the series going, to be honest. Well, they were the main leads after all, so if they failed on that, it would have been a really awkward series, lol. As actors, their chemistry was very good hence making their interactions as characters shone through. Watching them trying to get along at first and then escalating to be soulmates was an amazing adventure. Who would have thought one day Lan Zhan would die for Wei Wu Xian, right? Or vice versa. Those weren’t the only times their scenes were enjoyable either since–mostly thanks to WWX’s obnoxious nature, they had a lot of fun scenes too. It wasn’t like Lan Zhan didn’t know how to have fun. He was just forced to comply to a ridiculous amount of rules. He totally got corrupted by WWX though, lol. But their friendship was addicting to watch.
Xiao Zhan/ Wei Xu Xian, Wang Zuo Cheng/ Jiang Cheng, and Xuan Lu/ Jiang Yan Li as Yunmeng Golden Three. I would say their bond was all right. The reason for just “all right” and not outrageously awesome like how the majority of fans came to love them and dubbed them as so? It was a good concept for the start of the story and made me curious as how they started all these years. Because it was only highlighted at some points, a typical story arch for various wuxia in a sect. So yes, it did pull me in. But later turned into a disappointment with Jiang Cheng’s jealousy and insecurity. Then they were back together. But it just felt forced in the a sense because we all knew they were brought together by chance. But one thing was really clear was how Yan Li was the glue to this bond. If she wasn’t around, they might as well not talk to one another. Sure, the young Jiang Cheng showed some traces of wanting a friend–despite his fierce attitude toward the young WWX. Yet I felt the consistency with Jiang Cheng was always needing a nudge from someone to actually do the right thing. So yeah, it just wasn’t happening for me in that sense. Well, the obvious sign was how WWX was obviously soulmates with Lan Zhan, but maybe Jiang Cheng could try harder to understand WWX, because they grew up together after all. But it was always about his comfort and if he needed WWX or not. There was no doubt Yan Li put a lot of effort into making their bonds work and showed a lot of patience and care for them. Yet the bond just failed when the writers turned her character into a complete pushover. Yeah, I know, the point of her character was a gentle and caring figure for these two lost souls. YET they could at least make her a little more consistent and boost her up by not forcing her to rely on her marital status. It was typical with her wanting to get married and have a good family life, etc. But sorry, I can’t relate with how it turned out that she ended with that dude. Maybe as a start yes, but maybe make her character grow more and see past that, allowing her to meet someone that deserves her? I know it’s hard to believe, but I started out really liking her character. It just turned into frustration after knowing how she couldn’t escape from that path. It was a waste of good character because of terrible development–or lacked of.
Xiao Zhan/ Wei Wu Xian and Meng Zi Yi/ Wen Qing. Their friendship was something to consider in here. At first, there was this tension, because no one knew what she was up to, really. It was reasonable to be cautious around her. Yet he kept his head cool for the most part. She was also cautious around him and didn’t want to get involved more than necessary, considering how the psycho Wen dude warned her (read: threatened) numerous times using her brother and the rest of her clan to keep control of her. Yet, thanks to Wen Ning, many things changed. They were forced to get along at one point and somehow, she ended up helping him with one of the biggest conspiracies ever. Then later, he helped her and her clan to find a new home–if it could be called that. He did sacrifice a lot for them. She knew that. She was grateful. There were a lot of unsaid things between them, but in the end, he knew he made the right call by helping her, her brother and the rest of the innocent Wen clan.
Xiao Zhan/ Wei Wu Xian and Yu Bin/ Wen Ning. I really liked their bond as well. Wen Ning seemed to have this strange attachment to WWX that it was cute. Possibly because he never had anyone else to hang out with, considering their situation. Possibly wanting an older brother figure–although he cherished his sister so much. Wen Ning’s loyalty toward WWX was actually quite touching. One might say because he was so simple-minded hence not realizing the impact or seriousness of the situation, but it wouldn’t take much to be a decent human being and back someone up. Seriously. Because Wen Ning looked up to WWX, he didn’t mind being ordered around at times and getting into all these weird schemes cooked up by WWX. It was hilarious but also sad. Still, some wonderful memories they had though. It wasn’t like WWX was taking full advantage of him either. He did care for Wen Ning a lot, like a little brother. Hell, he did sacrifice a lot for Wen Ning and the rest of the innocent Wen clan. So, that said a lot.
Wuxia done right. Despite all my rants at various points, I felt this could be considered an actual wuxia, unlike how most had tried to pass as so in the past few years. The majority of the series released trying to pass as wuxia seemed like glamorized idol dramas to me, so I didn’t really take it seriously as a wuxia. But this one, even through all the frustration, it was obvious they put in a lot of effort in making it a serious drama. Like the way they approached it, it reminded me of some traditional wuxia of the past. The majority of the cast did really well with their acting and was convincing in their characters.
The soundtrack. The music in here was seriously beautiful with the flute and zither involved. It was so amazing and also one of the major reasons I stuck around. The songs were addicting and suitable for the theme of the story. The majority of the main cast got their own song. So that was unique in a sense.
The costumes and hairstyles. It was beautiful–for the most part. It seemed to be well thought out and fitted the characters nicely. The various combinations and all. At least, I could say for the majority of the key characters. There were indeed lots of sects and clans in here. Yet they managed to distinguish all of those and also take in the regular citizens’ clothing as well.
Location. I must admit the majority of the locations chosen were really nice. Well, obviously not the case for those devils’ lairs. But talking about when WWX or LZ were out and about–either apart or together–and roaming to different areas. It paved way for some nice adventurous feelings. I appreciate the natural scenery instead of the staged built ones. Although I know it took a lot of effort to find the right one and at times, weather could affect their options too. But I really liked it when natural scenes were involved.
The plot. I thought it was a 50/50 for me. I meant, I understood why they had to show so much of the events leading up to why and how Wei Wu Xian became that way, but some parts were quite repetitive (like mentioned above) and seemed like it was piling on his tragedies too much. Eventually, I ended up hating almost everyone except for Wei Wu Xian, Lan Zhan, and Wen Ning. Seriously, that extreme. I felt the stories of sixteen years later was a little more enjoyable. Maybe because some new characters were introduced, unlike how it kept surrounding some of the major sects that only involved super hypocritical characters. The fact that the majority of the so-called righteous sects spend their time gossiping over Wei Wu Xian, Meng Yao, or whoever else they found wasn’t up to their standard was really pathetic as well. And the fact that righteousness seemed to be lost on the majority of the population just cranked up my frustration several notches. It was like all these sects and groups spouted those words throughout and their talk about extinguishing evils, blah blah blah, were just a bunch of talks and all for nothing. They just didn’t care about it per say. Or just chanting it for the sake of an excuse with their own agenda–whether fame or power. I know those idiots were lost cause already. What frustrated me even more was how Jiang Cheng kept asking why Wei Wu Xian did those things that he did. It was like he didn’t understand the basic concept of righteousness or something. Or why it was the right thing to do. Sure, it wasn’t wrong to want his family to be safe and cared for their own sect only. But didn’t he say he wanted to be a hero? Being a hero was about making tough decisions and doing the right thing at the right time. It was righting injustices, not walk away from them. He might qualified as a hero figure up front with appearances at all, but he failed majorly on the action bit.
Did Wang Yi Bo/Lan Zhan get rob of his scenes? Yes, I’m going there since that was one of the topics discussed at one point. I would say no. It had to do with how the plot was crafted more than him being robbed of scenes. I rather he not appear as much but was productive in a sense of the overall storyline than having him appearing all the time and NOT doing anything helpful. Looking at you, Yan Li. Yes, I’m picking on her again. And once again I do understand she was an emotional support system for Wei Wu Xian and Jiang Cheng. After she died, their friendship collapsed completely and it was another wedge into their relationship. But seriously, she wasn’t a helpful character in other sense. And no, this is NOT picking on Xuan Lu–in case fans are yelling at me for not seeing her good side. I don’t know who she is before this because once again, there are too many potential young rising stars nowadays for me to keep track of it all (so this comment isn’t meant to be snappy, just hard to keep track of everyone for me). This is me talking about the character itself and how dragged out and repetitive some formulas had turned her character annoying indirectly. Or maybe just cut back on Jin Zi Xuan and make him even less significant than he was. Because their ongoing conflicts and eventually getting together went almost like an 8-o’clock soap. It was a never-ending soap that I could do without. Maybe if it was cutback, then Wang Yi Bo could appear more. Seriously. Yet people are over there picking on Meng Zi Yi/Wen Qing. She actually appeared less than a fraction of the 50 episodes–and did a lot more contributing to the plot than some other characters. Was it a really bad call of the production team (IF it was indeed true) they wanted to pair her with Wei Wu Xian? Yes, in the name of trying to stay faithful to the novel as much as possible and getting around the rules. Yet it made more sense to have her around than half of the characters in here. Those who are protesting if Yan Li and Zi Xuan didn’t get together, there would be no kid, etc. Come on, she could have gotten with anyone and the result would be the same. The plot could always be tweaked and manipulated so it cuts out unnecessary characters. The result could still be the same with her death being the final wedge between Wei Wu Xian and Jiang Cheng. To be honest, I didn’t think Jiang Cheng cried that much for Zi Xuan’s death. Zi Xuan was the ultimate unnecessary character and didn’t contribute much to the plot anyway, except making it more repetitive and increase more episodes. The other characters already hated Wei Wu Xian regardless of how it went down with the Jin family situation. They didn’t need any more excuses to extinguish WWX and snatch the Stygian pieces. Oh yeah, you know who should appear more but didn’t? Ji Li’s Nie Huai Sang. Although, it could be argued that he appeared less on purpose to conceal his identity and his plans, but it would have made sense if he appeared more.
The ending. I was halfway satisfied with the ending. Because they didn’t let Meng Yao off. However, some of the questions weren’t answer or weren’t exposed to its max either. Like how it wasn’t Wei Wu Xian’s fault that Jiang Yan Li died. I meant how it seemed he lost control, but it was actually because Meng Yao had manipulated the situation hence causing her death. It was mentioned that he (Meng Yao) had controlled Wen Ning to kill Jin Zi Xuan, so that was supposed to imply that it happened later on too. However, I wanted it to be fully stated so everyone was clear on that. Even if Wei Wu Xian had lost control for real, seriously, that woman had no business being there YET she somehow just showed up there, causing things to be even more complicated. Seriously. Yes, I’m repeating it here but it had to do with the ending, so putting it in again. Sounds annoying that I keep repeating it? Imagine how it was like with the repetitive plot throughout in regarding to their never-ending dramas. Not to mention Jin Ru Lan’s reactions to all of it. There’s no correct way to react to his parents’ death or show pain and anger. However, what puzzled me was how he didn’t seem to take actions toward Meng Yao as he would have WWX. Or was that because WWX was a servant of his mom’s house so considered to be NOT important? I know it wasn’t exactly like that. But I couldn’t help but be bitter that he didn’t do more, like poke a sword into the other guy’s stomach, maybe. Like how he’d done to WWX previously. I would say the person who was actually responsible for his parents’ deaths should receive the deserved backlash. Yet there they all were, almost disappointed that it wasn’t WWX so they could contniue to hate him like previously.
Novel vs. Series:(*Added around December 2021 because I already the novel.*)
Eventually, some of my rants got super repetitive–like the subplots in here, lol. So I decided to compile it here instead. Will fix and then erase elsewhere. Until then, it’s a work in progress.
Accuracy. I would it was 70% accurate. Whichever scenes they (the screenwriters) chose to be accurate, the scenes totally jumped out from the novel with its vivid details. Other times? It just seemed like a lot of episode fillers to extend the episodes and allowed some of the cast members more scenes for the sake of fan satisfaction. NO, I’m not picking on the cast, I know they worked really hard to make it happen. But to me, it’s always about plot. Plot was always the key. If they lost the plot, it didn’t matter how long some people appeared, it was just dead air. When I finally touched the novel, I also realized why some parts were so repetitive. If the screenwriters didn’t include some repetitive stuff, it would have been around 30 episodes. Because the story was told from Wei Wu Xian’s perspective, so if there were flashbacks or whatever, it was from his point of view. Then some gaps and details were filled in when other characters around him told their stories. I understand how hard it was to transfer those details onto the screen, allowing it to make more sense for viewers and trying to smooth some details out. However, with the author’s vivid details into the story, they could have edited out or skip unnecessary details, NOT make it worse by being so repetitive with some side stories. What they did right–and I will give them credit–was an attempt to filll in the gaps for the main story with explaining the background of the Stygian pieces and all. It gave a more detailed account at times and did help with the mystery of the overall story. That expansion was indeed quite welcome. Too bad. I guess they had to satisfy people who liked the romances by pushing forward the suppossed “model couple”, so yeah. Still too bad.
What was the same? What was different?
The opening scene was actually the part where Wei Wu Xian was resurrected after many years later. But it made sense to start at that intense battle and then lead viewers into the story.
Jiang Yan Li and Jin Zi Xuan didn’t appear as much in the novel. The screenwriters extended a lot of their scenes and gave them their own story hence cutting into Lan Zhan and Nie Huai Sang’s scenes. So, who did the audience and so-called fans of the novel blame for Lan Zhan’s scenes being less? Meng Zi Yi, which made perfect sense to me, right? (Yes, sarcasm here. NOT trying to get everyone to hate Xuan Lu and Cao Yu Chenhere, but if anyone wanted to get mad at the screenwriters for extending a certain scenes, it should be the supposed golden couple and their sappy, useless story, NOT more relevant characters who contributed more to the story.) Anyway, it turned out, I was actually really good at guessing with who the relevant characters were. What I meant was my comments regarding how I wished Huai Sang had more scenes. The screenwriters had a good excuse to let Huai Sang appear less aka allowing some mystery into his character until the final reveal. But dragging on the other soap for so long? Unforgivable.
Wei Wu Xian and the others never met Xiao Xing Chen and Song Lan before like how the series connected their stories at the part where more information was revealed about Wei Wu Xian’s mother’s. Wei Wu Xian only knew about the two when Lan Zhen told them the story about the two’s friendship. He eventually found out more about the two when entering that one city where Xue Yang set up all those traps and found out what happened through his connection with Ah Qing via the communication link technique he set up between them.
Wei Wu Xian’s memory was beyond terrible. Trust Lan Zhan when he cricitized WWX about it in the novel. It was indeed terrible. He didn’t even remember Wen Ning at first when they met again during the time they bumped into each other at the Jiang’s sect’s place and WWX was trying to find out more info within the Jiang’s place after it was taken over by the Wen clan. The series tried to give WWX more credit than that and made XZ so lovable by remembering Wen Ning and protecting him all the time. Yet that wasn’t so. Well, no one could blame WWX for not caring who Wen Ning was at first, because the series included Wen Ning more at the beginning than the novel, so it was hard to ignore him and it would be too weird if WWX didn’t remember him. In the novel, WWX actually met Wen Ning when they attended this one archery contest together, not how it was at Gusu at the beginning in the series. Sure, they did meet when WWX saw Wen Ning practicing his shooting skills, but the location and time was different. Probably the series wanted to introduce all the major characters at the same time, so they pulled all of them together at that Gusu lecture. It wasn’t like he treated Wen Ning terribly since he did stand up for Wen Ning at that archery conest and even encourage him on. He just forgot because of the circumstances at that time. Also, Yilang was the official place that WWX met Wen Qing, although he knew who she was. It was mentioned that she was highly regarded in Wen Ruo Han’s mind hence allowing her to follow him to different events at times. It was also mentioned that WWX thought she was quite talented. Their official meeting (after Wen Ning helped save Jiang Cheng and brought WWX and Jiang Cheng to Yilang) allowed them to interact even more and eventually conspired with one another to help with the surgery regarding the golden core. There were also other times that WWX didn’t remember other characters around him. It wasn’t because he was looking down on them. It was just that he didn’t remember. So those characters thought hat he didn’t care for them or was trying to mock them, so that fused their hate toward him even more. Lan Zhan was actually the person who had a good memory, aside from the super villain in here, obviously. So it balanced them out. It wasn’t to say that WWX wasn’t smart, he was. It was just that sometimes he could be so forgetful.
Wen Qing was actually the definition of tough love in here. If anyone wanted to prop Mrs. Jiang up for that role or that dude Nie Ming Yue, it would be laughable at best. Because I swear, making excuses for those two was hilariou to say they meant well, even if they had sharp tongue. Or say Lan Zhan’s uncle, perhaps. Sorry, but they could not match that role like Wen Qing was in the novel. Sure, she had her moments when it allowed for it in the series. But I think they (the screenwriters) also cut her character back to prop up other unnecessary characters. Wen Qing was quite smart and assertive, but she really did mean well for Wen Ning’s sake. Who could blame her for her protectiveness toward Wen Ning? Considering how he was so kindhearted yet also so simple-minded. Wen Qing was right when she scolded WWX for giving her that evil look, because she didn’t do anything to harm him or his sect. (He later remembered that she was never involved in those killings.) However, she also outlined the reality to them that she couldn’t stop Wen Chao if she tried. He was a maniac, on top of that, there was Wen Zhu Liu.
The majority of the characters in the novel were exactly like in the series with their condescension and superiority complex. They acted like it was in their rights to be waited on hands and feet and disregard others’ suffering or even care to empathize at all for anyone around them. Yet they thought they were rigtheous beings. It was all talks, really, and also beyond pathetic. It probably made sense during the times back then with how “class” determine status and power. But it was really infuriating to see that all went along with it, so oblivious to everything around them. Then they gaslighted WWX and acted like he was the one in the wrong for helping the weak and protecting the poor. Also, the so-called righteous sects in here spent about 99.9% gossiping about others and NOT doing anything productive to help mankind in general. They just sat on their royal thrones and judged others, NOT realizing they were the real problems. Not to mention they had their own little cute club that they thought if anyone wasn’t cool enough–or tried to question their motives, they would move their forces toward that person and terminate them without a thought. It was a group mentality kind a thing, like stronger in the number. Interestingly, Jiang Cheng in the novel was right when he said to WWX that those people didn’t care what WWX thought or what was the truth version, they just wanted absolute submission to them. If you listen to them, you got everything you could ever wanted. However, if you opposed them, there was hell to pay. Even if I still didn’t like Jiang Cheng as much in the novel, but he wasn’t as oblivious as it seen in series. By extending his story arch to include some kind of romantic feelings toward Wen Qing–even if brief, the screenwriters killed his characfter in that sense and made him overly jealous in that area as well. Yes, he was envious of WWX at times (thanks to his evil mother for keep grinding that into his head and driving a wedge between him and WWX even more) but he also understood the situation more than let on. He was also scared of those yoyoos and their group pressure mentaility. (And the reason why I coldn’t get behind Jiang Cheng regardless of which version? He captured a lot of people who he thought was WWX returning via those people’s bodies AND abused them, even killing them because he felt like it. He abused his power because he could like the majority of the sects in there. So, he had no right to scold others, especially WWX. NOT saying WW was perfect or whatever, but when he harmed others and exuded his cruelty like that, he withdrew his right to criticize others about “cruelty” or whatnot. So, only Lan Zhan had a right to say anything regarding what happened.)
The ending was equally confusing and not as satisfying for either the series or novel. Yes, since I criticized the things they did to kill the plot, I have to point out that the novel did make it hard for the screenwriters as well. Okay, it wasn’t that confusing per say in the novel. It was just that, the series tried to follow the novel with its thought process and tried to say that it was chaotic with a lot of factors coming into play, so some of te things Nie Huai Sang supposedly did was just pure suspicions and conjectures based on Wei Wu Xian’s thoughts. That was why there wasn’t a clear answer either at times in the series. So, I guess it wasn’t the screenwriters’ fault that some of the stuff weren’t clarified in its absolute. However, the series gave a more solid ending because they allowed Wei Wu Xian and Lan Zhan that last meeting with Nie Huai Sang in front of that stone where the rules of Lan sect got updated. (It was mentioned in the novel that the old dude added even more rules at the end of the novel but they didn’t appear in front of those people again.) The conversation verified that Nie Huai Sang indeed set the events into motion and all. However, he also clarified that he wasn’t power lust or even wanted whatever status it was that they suspected he was after. He just wanted justice for his brother’s death–even if he took a lot of risks with the Lan sect’s junior members and their safety, etc.
Conclusions? This was the danmei version of Xiao Ao Jiang Hu. Yes, I wrote it in a tweet, but I want to elaborate more here. Why did I say that? This wasn’t meant to accuse anyone of plagiarism, lol. But the concept of the friendship and ongoing relationship between Wei Wu Xian and Lan Zhan throughout reminded me of Qu Yang and Liu Zheng Feng. Of course, you have to flip their instruments and the side they represented. Aside from the two main leads’ tie, some of the characters and the plot details made me think of XAJH even more. How? The obvious one was how hypocritical the supposedly good sects and clans were. It was a major theme of XAJH and how it got you thinking that sometimes black and white weren’t all that clear. Just because they claimed so on the surface did not make it so. The majority of those sects were also involved in various power grabs and greed. They used righteousness as a masquerade for their actions and justified their behaviors throughout. That sounded very generic, considering how that was often the basis for the majority of wuxia works. However, there were other signs. Jiang Yan Li and Jin Zi Xuan were Yue Ling Shan and Lin Ping Zhi for me. Even if Wei Wu Xian only treated Yan Li as his sister, I swear it looked like that. Of course, Yan Li wasn’t a spoiled brat like how Yue Ling Shan was, but I think that had switched to Jin Zi Xuan. You tweak a little and get the idea. If you ever wondered what happened if Yue Ling Shan and Lin Ping Zhi could have kids–instead of what happened in XAJH, look no farther than Jin Ru Lan, lol. Wen Qing was Ren Ying Ying for me, but of course, Ying Ying was much more powerful than that in the other one. Yet the context was somewhat the same. I could go on forever, but I don’t think I should, lol. This review is already long as it is. Maybe one day when I feel up to it, I’ll do a rundown of all characters in both works in a separate post, lol.
Recommended? I would say it’s worth checking out. It depends on if you like this type of story. You have to really like the cast to enjoy it though since it’s super long. I just have immense patience in regard to the plot, lol.