If you have never ever watched a Cdrama, and just feel like checking out the scene; if you only have the quota of three a year, a decade, this is my honest, most sincere recommendation.
This blog may seems like Cdrama spazzzone last few months, but I did not watch much Cdrama till 2005 and the nine years since, I genuinely loved perhaps 10 of what I could sit through. It is still swarmed by unspeakable craps (anything by yu zheng or starring ZhangHan and/or ZhengShuang aka CN Domyouji/Makino scared me far far away. I am allergic to Peter Ho, Wallace Chung, Hawick Lau…the list is 10x longer than my happy manrem) but when you have a terrifyingly ginormous volume of dramas produced to pick from, even if only 1/100 of them is good, quite substantial compared to other dramalands. And just my luck I have a a hit rate of everything I touched exceeded all my expectations so spectacularly I have been adding half of the new Cdramas I have just finished, thoroughly enjoyed on my fav list last few months alone. I mean even my very shallow, pervie side is sated when C period is now doing sweetest fluffy kissfest guilty pleasure with the prettiest faces (Thank you God for Wallace H and Tang Yan’s so not hurting my eyes faces) for 20 out of 40 eps no other dramaland is serving me zilch. What has become of my dramalands but plate tectonics, huh?!
1. 战长沙/Battle of ChangSha, newly crowned the best Cdrama EVER.
Well, perhaps that is an exaggeration, but it is definitely one of the best I’ve seen last few years. It is apples and oranges, but imo this is much better than Legend of Zhen Huan in writing and pace, which was my reigning best Cdrama of last year.
Battle of ChangSha is now ranked #2 (#1 is a drama on how glorious the communist party is, it is perfect for its purpose) in ALL the Cdramas ever produced at Douban/CN metacritic recording a 9.4/10 with 75+% of 1300+ Doubaners giving it 5stars/5. Wow, and imho very deserving.
In the days since I’ve finished the drama, I have read the novel, which is a good read, but I gained new admiration and need to bow my gratefulness to the scriptwriters. Every tweak they made in the adaptation, is more brilliant than the original. I have also rewatched the 20+ min trailer often to sate my addiction until its official nation wide run on CCTV in HIGH DEFINITION the day after World Cup, July 14th! YES! How perfect is my world right now?!?!?! Just so you know, I would cry often up to 10 times in those 20sth minutes, my crying uglier and more out of control the more often I watch.
The english subbed trailer is available courtesy of the WallaceHuo forum here.
I am lazy to do fanart. It is a pity what is floating around is 99% Wallace biased and he is not the best part about this by a long shot (he is still drop dead gorgeous and very very good), gotta understand it is Christmas when we get a gritty harrowing war drama starring someone THIS pretty and he is very good, hands down his best job, in it.
I have gushed last few weeks nonstop here so I should stop boring you all. But I have never seen so many elements juggled so brilliantly in a war drama, inasmuch they can make a very solid production out of one facet alone. The OTP romance is spot on swoonworthy, and for the brotherly camaraderie to upstage it for a shoujo fiend like me, who literally gave this, a devastating war drama a chance just because I can get my shoujo romance fix?!? I stayed the farthest away from anything that guaranteed me curling up fetal crying for days under a blankie guys, it would take sth 9+/10 to make it worthwhile, anything inferior than perfect pissed me off more flipping desks and such. Alas. Then there is the most heartbreaking glorious adult romance angst yanking my heart out and never putting it back the same, still hurts and owns and slays me so bad I can not begin to talk about it between the Older Sis and Brother in law, both flawlessly played in performances so memorable it will haunt me for life, not a thread out of place. The family drama warms my soul. Almost every time I mist up by a speech by Grandmama, I will skype my own Grandma with my redden swollen panda eyes and just ask her what she’s eaten and started sobbing incoherently I miss and love her/them and got a yelling why the heck and for a drama?!??! The kickass fighting war scenes, the pace, the storytelling how the grand schemes of the plot flow so flawlessly even when focusing on all the tangents, how the characters stay so authentic to themselves yet grow into heroes of their own lives. How they sneak in the wittiest scenes that breaks me into chuckles, when I would scream ohnoes and wail the very next. I can’t stop it, can I?!?!?
So here, I will tease with another favorite relationship of mine in the drama, BiL and our dreamiest dreamboat Commander Gu/Y U SoSOOOO Pretty Wallace Huo.
I ship them so much:
The drama is gaining steam and a rabid following even before its nationwide run. Fans have made a lovely cut of the bromance:
First scene is BiL is caught by the stern Commander Gu doing some shady side business. They have eyesmex while Commander Gu does not spare a moment reminding us how freaken smoking gorgeous he is, smoking (or not). BiL offers him some of Changsha’s finest tobacco, as they take a walk, he does his supershipper duty pitching his baby sisterinlaw XiangXiang:
BiL: This SiL of mine, has a stinky temper, BUT she is so good to her family. If, one day, she is attached to you, huh, hypothetically, *coughnotcough* hypothetically. If she marries you later on, if anyone dares to say half a bad word about you, she will literally risk her life and slice him knife in hand!
Gu: You must have very little regard of me, as if I would allow a woman to risk her life for my well being.
BiL: Stop the act. Do you want to follow my suit, holding a gun and force her into marriage?!
Gu: Let me have a word on you, can you ever talk seriously?
BiL: This is all serious…. XiangPing (XiangXiang’s big cousin) be your BiL’s witness. IF one day Commander Gu becomes your brother in law, the two of us will happily carry XiangXiang on all fours and deliver her to his door.
XiangPing: Huh? BiL, what do you mean? What is going on between Commander Gu and XX?
BiL: Who are you calling Commander Gu? Change it!
XiangPing: Oh! Brother in Law!!!
Gu *speechless, flabbergasted, staring down the innocent young guy, gives mischievious BiL an annoyed
fakelyglance, shakes his head as part of the act hahaha and stumps off almost with a pout lol*
XP: BiL, Commander Gu does not look willing (and in the background, we have Gu’s minion kekekeing like ALL of us)
BiL: You have no nose to sniff and eyes to see properly. ‘Tis only time.
BiL: Just you wait for the banquet! Get ready a big wedding gift! Go!
XP: Brother in law (he is calling his big shot superior commander Gu ‘husband of my younger sister’, ie he is the big bro) BiL!
BiL: Lets have a shoot out. Shoot out!
XP: Accurate. Precise!
BiL: Here. Try.
BiL: *whispers* Don’t make me lose face. Go!
(XP fires the shoot bullseye)
BiL: Bravo! That’s my younger BiL! *so winking at his other younger BiL to be and Gu does not miss a beat lol They make shipper SO SO happy* That will do! Will do!
Gu: *after taking a good pause ‘appreciating’ BiL’s veiled compliment lol* Where did you learn to fire a gun?
XP: Oh BiL, I have been practicing at home. But I have been practicing with rifles, this is the first time I have fired this kind of weapon.
BiL: XP! What a natural, a talent! Just being infantry is such a waste. Such a waste. *side glancing Gu, scheming scheming* It is alright, whatever your plans are, you can seek advice with your brother in law (Gu), he is resourceful.
Gu: Can you stop the brother in law name calling? I have nothing to do with you.
XP: nonono! Brother in law, we are a family sooner or later. I have a question I want to ask you. You are from a most prominent family, why are you stationed at Changsha? (hahaha BiL is smirking a naughty smile, he knows and we know! kekeke) Why do you have to go to the front lines?
BiL: Good question! What a great question! Why?
Ouch, that burns, no matter how close to warzone he gets, he will never be properly sent to the front line, thanks to the protective influence of his dad. Commander Gu has enough of small talk, he needs to remind us how great a shooter he is (and how drop dead gorgeous he does not need a gun slaying the ladies and some men, serious). Bang!Bang!Bang! he made some more bullseye shot to let off some more frustration. BiL has ideas something is going on feelings wise with Gu towards XiangXiang, but he was not 100% sure, he was picking up every little nuance of non-response from Gu he is interpreting as him NOT against the idea, and he cunningly sneaks in a pitch asking Gu to help out his BiL XiangPing killing two birds with onw stone.
Second scene: At the front line, in the trenches where BiL is stationed with his squad, Gu is now a buddy of mutual respect, chatting with BiL like any typical day.
Gu: Do you need to put down a few words (of a will, like BiL is instructing his underlings in the trenches)?
BiL: I am a toughie. No need.
Gu: Ha, you do not know a few words, huh?
They share a good chuckle. Gu pats BiL’s back: That’s nothing, take it easy. How about I be your subordinate just for once. You will dictate. I will write it down. How about that?
BiL: Am I dreaming?
Gu: Take it as you are dreaming. Hurry up, we do not have the whole day.
BiL: Oh good. (excited, he sits down beside Gu)
BiL: This is embarrassing to say out loud. But since this is a will…you write it down as such: Xiang Jun, I miss you terribly, thinking of you, and our son. You must take very good care of the elders, raise our son into a grown man.
At the spur of the moment, he sneaks a glance at Gu, clearly his brain is on turbo spinning up a scheme! Gu gives him an innocent look, as if telling him he could continue…
BiL: The most important thing is to find a good match for Xiang Xiang.
Commander Gu immediately widens his eyes, shifting them agitatedly side to side.
BiL:…Find someone in the army, not just in the infantry, no way. You write it down, he must be a commander. At least a graduate from a German military academy, lieutenant or above.
We can see and hear Gu stops writing, screwing back the cap of his fountain pen, and closing his notebook, so taken aback at BiL’s shameless bashfulness he turns his head and gives him a protesting dead stare. LOL their gimps/minions are in the background giggling. BiL notices the piercing look besotted on him.
BiL: I am not talking about you. Not you! NOT you! (hahahaha) You write on. This guy has to be very poised and good looking, from a prominent family. Treat this as the standard. My XiangXiang is very outstanding, any normal guy, a douchebag, can not handle her. You have to look for someone who is exceptional, can take control of her. Why aren’t you writing it down?
Gu: I got it down in my head, anything else? Go on.
BiL: This fast?!
Gu: Shorthand. I would compile a complete copy for you later on.
BiL: That’s good. Head back then. Later on when the jap is here, you may not be able to get out!
Gu: So what if I can’t get out. If I can’t, I can’t!
BiL: Here you go again! I know you will pull this one. I have prepared a strategy against you. Come here, tie him up!
The minions: Huh?!?!?!?!
Gu: You dare?!
BiL: What am I scared of? What am I scared of huh?! I am saving your life! If your Daddy gets the wind of it, he would have thanked me, you know?!
Gu: Xue, if you dare to pluck me from this spot I will report you to the General
BiL: Report me? For what?!
Gu: I will report you for letting your subordinates profit out of forged enlistments, making blood money.
BiL: You have no proof.
Gu: Do I need proof to slander you? Huh? I can report to the General you are leeching war money, bribing off war supplies. All these crimes are enough for you to be locked up for a good while. Even if proved innocent, you will be torn off a layer of skin!
BiL: Ha…haha. Huh. Commander Gu. Here here here. Sit sit. Take a seat. I don’t understand. Look at all these guys, who want to be in the front line fighting? You have been banging your head to get here. You…do you have some problem here upside of your head and thus you need to hit it often?
Gu: Take it as I am mental. Treat it as I want to kill myself.
BiL: I know, you worry about your country and its citizens, your horizon is set on caring about the world. But while caring about the country you still need to live a life. right? You focus all your energy on fighting the jap, and you do not need a family?
Gu: Country first. Then family.
BiL: Wrong! Why can’t we take good care of our family while we are saving our country? Take a look at me, my XiangJun, when I am here, I think about your sister in law the entire day, my whole head is filled with thoughts of her. I would do every freaken thing to get myself a pair of wings and fly back home to her, but I didn’t screw my duties fighting the jap. Hey, be honest, have you ever dreamed of our XiangXiang.
Gu: Huh. Even if I do, it would be a nightmare.
BiL: SEE! You have dreamed of her anyhow, huh?!?!?! Don’t be embarrassed, no big deal. Who wouldn’t like the pretty young girls! I won’t keep it from you, the first time I saw…your sister inlaw…XiangJun, I fell in love with her at first sight. I want to touch her face, kiss her lips… TSK!
Gu: Let me say this about you, you are really some shameless thing.
BiL: Don’t you pretend to be on your high horse. When you see our XiangXiang, have you ever thought of touching her face?
Gu: To tell you the truth. Actually…I want to touch your face more. (BiL: Yikes *hahahahha*) I want to feel how thick your skin really is.
Gu: Seriously, I have some respect for you.
BiL: I have nothing respectable to talk about.
Gu: I have reached an understanding, I should really learn from you. How to walk the face of earth without a face/shame. We can risk our lives, what is saving face?!
BiL: What an educated guy, you are a league above the rest. Really. You are such a fast learner at bullying. Huh?!
It is not very PC for the fans to throw in this bone:
But we have the same formula of cold-faced proud prince + klutzy cutiepie x supershipper angel Mama/BiL and bonus brave little Florence Nightingale = never be still our shoujo heart
This drama starts a bit shaky and kitschy but if you stick with it, it was a joyride in witnessing a script that encompasses so many genre it can play with under the period umbrella, gives you every smart unexpected twists and turns, so diligently woven together. It captures the essence and tropes of old school wuxia with so much heart. There is a common saying in the Cdrama fandom, Cdramas are usually so dumb script-wise you feel like your brain is rotting and a bulldozer is running over your IQ while watching. Not here. This is a pick-me-up for your brain, a good exercise of pulling some hair over what will happen next, not terribly highbrow, but it was fun. Up till yesterday I am still seeing terrific fanvid made of this underrated but insanely addictive gem with still insanely rabid and strong following 5 months since it has aired.
Each of the character has his/her own charm and colorful story. This mysterious friend/foe in red is easily the crowd’s favorite who did not appear till second half of drama, when you should be beyond hooked already with everything else
When the fans pitch a character and ship it with Brigitte Lin’s DongFongBuBai, make a gorgeous fanvid, there is no bigger nod of you have arrived in the wuxia drama world.
The dearies at Qian Engsub Team/Kandi are doing the world a lot of good subbing this eye-opening new genre wuxia here. This is treat that so rarely comes by, savor it! It is so dense with colloquial slang (I do not get half of it myself), cultural, social references, quoting archaic poetry, pop songs of all the eras, spit out in dialogues that are actually tongue twisters or rap thinly disguise I have never thought it possible a feat to translate. Even if you did not get dazzled by the hilarious slapstick off the bat, if you are patient, you will be handsomely rewarded by some of the loveliest original characters created last year, worming into your heart, moving you to tears and awe! Even if you are super shallow (like me) and is cringing at the lack of pretty men in the main leads, oh, don’t you bat an eyelash further, this drama is best known for its insane kickass roster of unbelievable cameos. The script can be mush tighter, but all your gorgeous pretty men, Huang XiaoMing, Chen Xiao, Lu Yi, Ma Tian Yu, Sha Yi, Yuan Kuan, my Yuan Hong, Tong Da Wei…will be there in an ep or two. I have just rewatched the first episode, and all my happy feelings of the drama is rushing back at me!