Oh my dokidokidoki shoujo heart~! I am no longer qualified as a human being, am I?! Here I am embracing a devastating war epic on the obliteration of Changsha, a town with thousands of years of rich history by the wrath of war, and I am knee-weakened swooning with that perpetual dimwitted mad grin on my face yet again the first moment I saw the OTP casting eyes at each other. I can’t even look at myself without some disgust.
I can only find very poor quality vid, and that is such a peeve, such a shame on Wallace’s pretty face alone. Argh. This drama is not yet on ‘satellite’, hasn’t had its run on cables, but that needs to happen SOON! I am at ep4/32, already my eyes are swollen from crying late last night and the war has NOT yet ravaged Changsha!!! There is no way possible I will survive this sane. So I am going to spazz every bit of fluffy goodness out of the OTP just to hang on the good and brace for the devastation and crying out my eyeballs later. T___T
Open scene, a highschool girl is weaving through the hustle bustle, one moment mindlessly joining a students’ demonstration as a transport of Security Guard is making its way through the crowd. She looks on intently at a wedding procession. The aunties are chattering, any decent family is racing against time, marrying off the young daughters to husbands with resources to leave town as the war is about to hit Changsha.
The leader of the security guards reaches his destination: a highschool. He forcefully plucks a boy off his desk, who is giving a good fight screaming and kicking. Mr Officer drags student to the foyer for a beating and scolding. He is the formidable brother in law of the youngster, asking the whereabouts of the boy’s twin sister, XiangXiang, knowing they must’ve schemed together sneaking out of a blind date he has painstakingly arranged.
The plucky young lady we met earlier is the younger sister in law Hu XiangXiang. Here, something is catching her attention…
There needs no sound effect of the dokidokidoki of the young girl’s heart, mine is doing it for her, thumping loud. It is obvious on her face:
It is not right Wallace, to look this SADFFGKJGHAFGDDLAAALLDFADHFJHK drop dead gorgeous in uniform. This material deserves much more respect, I have to put a lid on the very shallow shamelessness taking over. But Wallace is too pretty even when grainy and blurry! Holding my head up a little I could spare attention and love for our young heroine, she reminds me of a HuangRong, her fearless, mischievous mind spinning all the time. This is too gorgeous a sight to behold even when you have to flee for your life.
She is fussing at her appearance as he shouts, ‘ Grab him/her! Freeze!’ Alas, he is hawking a runaway soldier behind. XiangXiang gets her own ‘Grab her!’ As her brother in law’s entourage catches her tail. Off she runs screaming, ‘HELP~~Murder~~!!!!’, past the dashing commanding officer, who takes a notice of the young girl in distress without her noticing, but not enough to break his stance of having more important matters to attend to.
‘BROTHER IN LAW~~~!’
You know you are looking at the smartest ruthless but caring ringleader of this circus. I can’t take my eyes off soaking in his every twitch.
Dashing officer Wallace has an engagement in one of the swankiest restaurant of ChangSha. He is meeting his Uncle, high ranking officer at the Security Bureau with all the connections in town. They both have agendas of their own. Uncle is acting upon a call from his brother in law, the prominent father of our hero, arranging this blind date hero has no interest in. Hero is here showing fade to barter for supplies, 300 padded jackets for his soldiers.
‘A young lady, a student, pretty and from a reputable family is not easy to come by.’
We are here as soldiers protecting, defending our country.
You people are living the high life filling your bellies every meal when our soldiers have not one winter layer.
After getting his way of 30 padded jackets, he doesn’t waste a second to take his leave.
My bebe, sometimes, we keep the droolzing face more in check, demanded of young ladies meeting OTP the first time that era. Good that you remember to close your mouth a little holding in the shock (and droolz). I know, it is nay impossible with the gorgeousness you are facing, I know. Even when he is coldly making his way out, not giving face to anyone present.
‘This is my sister in law, XiangXiang. She is very young, not good with words. Let her show you around Changsha if you do not mind. ‘ Brother in law Xue GunShan smothers on the apologies at Officer Gu QingMing:
I am not interested in babysitting young girls.
War is looming, provide her education in the confines of your house, do not let her roam around town.
Brother in law is furiously shushing.
He is not a baby, what hurt are you protecting him from? (My words?!)
What do you have to say?
XiangXiang has a mouthful: With the civil movements in vogue, ladies are now granted the same rights and liberties of men. New China is made up of half female and half male. It does not make sense and he has no right to patronize her sex.
It is always a good cliche. The petite feisty pepper knocking these towering men around her with her biting words. His arms are folded, as if he is playing handicap, flicking her off the stairs with a finger if he didn’t hold them in. Officer Gu literally brushes BrotherinLaw aside, facing her heads on, letting her continue her speech as BiL keeps yelling at her to shut the heck up.
‘Just your luck you are professing your speech to me instead of other higher ranking officers, or else you will be served. ‘ Officer Gu snaps back at her, his voice gentle.
Do not make yourself a saint. Here you are, with your glossy exterior
*kekeke, I can trust you to throw in a plain compliment of the pretty, my kin!*
…on the inside, you rot the same stench of the old feudal society…
*And I am in love with this shot of Wallace towering over our XiangXiang, with that tender patient smile as if he is looking upon a cute kitten coughing up a furball. There is a soft spot in our hero, and it is growing.*
*smile* You are fascinating, but you are not brought up properly.
Even a softer, almost cooing voice, speaking the biting words, not a hint of threat, which we sense he can bring it on in a snap.
I clapped a little as our young lady takes a step up the stairs, now hovering down at Officer Gu. Yay!
Lets discuss proper upbringing, shall we? …
Our country is at the brink of the Japanese invasion….
Proper upbringing should demand any strong, fine, young men such as yourself …
*not one to miss a compliment obviously due to careful ogling of the physique of how fine this specimen is. Good job, bebe*
…to rise to the occasion and defend our country by whatever means necessary, fighting off the Japanese!
Instead, here you are, stuffing your belly, fine dining at the best restaurant in town.
*OTP alert #2! she is using the same 4 character saying dissing him as he did his uncle earlier on, stuffing one’s belly in gaudy excess*
And faltering your mind with personal matters such as love and marriage?!
Who has a more despicable upbringing now?!
*mind was briefly in the gutters. Briefly!*
LOL Wallace, your ouch! I am about to cry face is too cute for Officer Gu.
As a deflated Officer Gu is really leaving the building, drama is still going on Tom and Jerry style with the big brother inlaw and the little kitten with claws. He is going to beat the nonsense out of her for good this time. She would rather jump off the building.
Oh XiangXiang, this is not high enough, you will only break some limbs or mash up your face and be very ugly. Then you won’t be able to marry at all, suits you. I will of course give you a bowl to beg off the streets then.
He then orders his minions to step back and clear the landing, no one is able to catch her anyway:
You brother in law is well-off. I will support you for the rest of your life. JUMP!
She did attempt the jump as he nabs her by the waist, carrying her her off like the wild animal she is.
Back at the Hu house, big sister Mrs. Xue, Hu XiangJun is carrying her son, seeing her husband home in anticipation.
The play catch continues, now the whole family is involved. Officer Xue never minces his words, even when it is hard to swallow for his prideful Father in Law. He even says it as is to the matron of the family Grandma Hu, XiangXiang needs a proper beating now that she has poured insults on a powerful very promising suitor Officer Gu, who is the son of an even more prominent figure.
But with a few mild mannered stern words from his wife, calling a halt to the shenanigans, he freezes his whip midair. Her words are like a shot of tranquillizer to this prowling male lion.
Airstrikes hit their alley, the Hu house is in ruins:
XiangJun offers to take in her entire family in their house, ensuring them her husband has the thought for a while.
It is an ostentatious complex the Hu family walks in, akin to Granny Liu visiting the Daguanyuan, way beyond the means of a middle rank Security Bureau officer. DaddyHu has a conflict in principles staying at a house obtained by nefarious means. He drops his suitcase at the front door, about to walk off.
Clearly Papa Hu is of a different breed to his son in law, their animosity is palpable. A respected college professor, he indulges in finery and the arts, delusional to all things materialistic. His son in law does not hesitate to mock him, he won’t survive the night on the streets without being locked up for weeks by one of his minions with the curfews in effect. He can put in a kind word to his underlings to treat his dad in law nicely. But he still has to do a soninlaw’s duty, ‘begging’ dad to stay with a big fat smirk.
And he is promptly cut down to size.
We see the brawny Xue JunShan as a very doting father, he can not take his hands off his son, playing with him, even when his eyes are darting at the room on the left.
…where Cousin MingHan, brother of the Hu siblings’ babycousin XueXue, now taken under their wings, is having tea with Daddy Hu and XiangJun is serving. These are some very loaded glances between cousins:
Over dinner, Cousin Dr. MingHan tells the family he is going to move XueXue into a house emptied as medical officers left for war. JunShan disses him how stupid is the idea of moving around with an unmarried young girl, out of his heated comfortable mansion with imported soft mattresses and soaps.
Dad cant help but inject how important spiritual wealth is, materialistic possessions are not lasting joy.
When JunShan is ruthless, he is ruthless. Calmly, steadily he pours on the insults. This is not a table of worthless enjoyment, these are real meat, real sustenance that cost a little fortune no one at the table can make the ends meet enjoying the bounty with their measly income (without him). You can sense the heated tension of this uneducated self-made man, generously, heedlessly providing for his extended family, but will never earn their proper respect. It is a harder pill to swallow with the presence of Dr. Cousin, devoting his life to the needy, serving the public, earning all the respect and kind words. But JunShan is taking it all in with a gusto.
He even admits he takes bribes and fees on the side, fairly keeping his end of the deals.
JunShan does not shy from snapping the doctor more harsh pills of reality: he can’t even support himself, let alone his baby sister.
With that, he’s said all he has to say He leaves the table and heads off to play with his son. XiangJun looks on wistfully.
XiangJun is having some small talk, helping her parents settling into their room. Dad slips out his woe that is eating him alive:
I should have rushed up the wedding between you and MingHan!
Argh! ! !
MingHan was one of the students, captured, tortured by JunShan/his men at the security bureau, and he bargained with a young XiangJun for her hand in marriage in exchange of freeing her cousin, her love.
It is clearly something XiangJun has relived herself teeth clinched.
JunShan calls for his wife, she hurries off to their bedroom:
I am thanking you for my Dad.
-why are you saying things like we are not in the same family?!
I love everything you cook, feed me like you are keeping a pig!
You are better than me…
I can’t deny this is the perfect picture of a happy marriage, even with all the complexities.
It takes a few minutes and you can let out a sigh of relief there would be never be scriptwriting headpain from silly in this drama. This is good, serious a production, you can feel every texture of it solidly in place, there really is nothing to nitpick, everything fits like a glove. 任程伟/Ren ChengWei as Xue JunShan is insanely impressive, his character is a survivalist out of wit with so many facets and a questionable morality compass. His Xue JunShan will never wink doing a shady deed out of being the fiercest protector of his family, and that is out of the most intense doting love for his wife. It is a family he married into, far from reputably as to how he earned his wife, and even when he is a very successful breadwinner supporting the whole clan living very comfortably in this dire time, practical to a fault, he earned very little respect with his smartasshery. Xue JunShan operates on his own tilted set of rules, he always plays fair enough, and justice has a place somewhere, but his modus operandi is an almost obsessive, possessive guarding of his wife’s family, as if to constantly prove himself a worthy husband out of insecurity, serving himself the biased better end. He will always find a way to be a head above the rest, even when he has to step on casualties. Life is getting tougher than imaginable and his family are living like pampered goldfish in their fishbowls. He never allows himself a slip from the dire reality, the escapism his bourgeois inlaws are enjoying at his expense. He is never going to serve himself and his family short. One has to appreciate how convincing a character is surviving, earning his keeps solely on his ruthless smarts and we got exactly that off the screen. Far from a black and white character, we see many facets of him coexisting under the surface, many very charming, some unsavory, and each of his trait take a certain level of control as if having a tugging war within him as the circumstances require. He is almost an amoral man, but he is never evil, his actions may never be heroic, but he always has his reasons, and they are mostly sound and so practical he is scary. His relationship with his wife Hu XiangJun, the emotional anchor of the Hu family, is handled so subtly marvelous by 左小青 / Zuo XiaoQing. Their relationship is loving, tender, intense, ridden with tension and compromises just under the surface. She did not marry him by choice, he is not her first love, a first love still in her life she is almost not allowing herself to let go, perhaps out of a dead on loyalty. She knows her clout on him fully, but she is not abusing her power. She truly loves her husband, they are in a loving marriage, and appreciates how good he genuinely is treating her and by association her family. She is the only liontamer that can master him to jump rings of fire over and over again for her and she repays his adoration with her love for him as he deserves, which is genuine and heartfelt, but it was not without abandon. It is as if she is safeguarding her heart, accounting her feelings, giving out how much he deserves, which is as much as she can give him, but there is a resentment that creeps out of her for very brief moments when she is reminded of their past that she expresses with just one careful understated nuance. All these different elements, compartmentations of their relationship, both actors juggled them so accurately it is acting acrobat I am witnessing. I am totally intoxicated by Miss Zuo’s voice, a local Changshanite, her mandarin is that of a crisp soothing chiming nightingale to my ears. It is so incredible a rare gift we can enjoy these good actor’s voice delivery.
I fall in love with YangZi’s Hu XiangXiang immediately not because the character is loveable and perfect but extremely convincing off the page of a young girl’s sass, of an unapologetic spoiled brat who is very smart, head of her class, earning fanboys smart. Under the surface she is fiercing loving, righteous and caring, hotheaded and brash but not annoyingly so. She is a romantic, a dreamer, set on putting herself of use to her family, to society, all is not an easy feat again not to overdo. Her brother in law, a worldly officer of the Security Bureau is as slick as any fox goes and she can sliver around playing mindgames with him. What kneels me over is how authentic a rapport she shares with her twin brother, again it is a fine line to capture that closeness, that kinship, the dynamics of siblings, twins here, and between young actors in their early 20s, the intense chemistry can tip over into something more than brother and sister, but not here. It is a treat to see. So invested I am already…lesigh. Death of me, this drama.
If I am being extremely picky, I think the veteran actor playing Papa Hu is a bit showy and stagy in his style of acting. Wallace can have very tiny slips when his TW mandarin sneaks out a bit too much, he has clearly worked tremendously hard on authentic mandarin and he never sticks out too much in interaction with other characters. I can not speak Mandarin fluently, shame on me, but it is obvious his mandarin is of a different timber than the other actors, all of whom I am sure are attempting a ChangSha dialect and it works brilliantly as his character is not a local Changshanite. Job well done! Wallace’s stance and posture can fray from his very immaculate, sharp, austere, very perfect very capable no-nonsense but with the hear t of a saint, ridiculously good looking high ranking officer Gu QingMing, especially when he is smoking, haha imo RL Wallace comes across to me as a very pretty derpy Diaosi he said so himself in a recent show. He is too pretty for this role if I can skip the fangirl chatter, that is why someone perhaps like a Wallace Chung is a lot of people’s first choice as Gu, good looking enough and has a beefier physique. But of course Wallace works for me, just my kind of serendipity, because I just do not find the other Wallace, the Hawicks, even the HXMs meeting my aesthetics and can hold in the screaming in own’s head I am cosplaying a shoujo manga revolutionary most handsomest war hero pose, preen and pose more, and you all can go attempt your realistic war drama off the boundary of my invisible pretty circle. Wallace H here has strike a very good balance, seamlessly blending in, he did not once overdo his pretty, it was almost too controlled a perfect reincarnation of the flawless too drop dead gorgeous shoujo manga hero never imaginable. At times, I swear, he is prettier than most manga characters I have come across.
There is an age gap between him and YangZi’s Hu XiangXiang, very true to the original novel and at their first meeting, a slight smile fr his Officer Gu can easily go awry and sleazy and come-hither which would be cringeworthy. To keep the emotions so streamlined, so focused, simply delivering his first impression of this feisty young girl as fascinating/interest of her words, her thoughts is piqued but nothing else, no romantic dallying from his character at first sight, takes a very good read and handling of the character, and it is exactly what a Gu QingMing would approach the situation. I admit I have been underestimating how solid and thorough an actor Wallace can be, stop doing duds and use your very gorgeous face just aging perfectly very wisely! Treasure your precious feathers, as the saying goes. It is still taking me by surprise how owning it I find their chemistry, not the hot and bothered and so crazy sweet I need to go take cold showers, brush my teeth in fear of toothaches he has with TangYan and screaming at them to make real babies already in Perfect Couple…but the befitting sweeping romantic fated wartime lovers. Somehow every shoujo manga beat is still thumping in my face whenever they are sharing a scene this early on, but it does not take anything away from this being a meaty realistic war epic. His perfect hero character is a step up from the aloof, cold, emotional crippled prince, this is a very intelligent man in every aspect, focused, meticulous, but opposite of heartless. His heart beats and he has tempers, emotions sympathies like any normal earthlings. The other half of the equation is a very smart lass, shoujo at heart, in touch with her emotions, not shy to speak her mind on all matters, even her fangirl opinions on this dazzling man she hates on principle, but heart is fluttering. She acknowledges all these tangled feelings concerning this guy and very sharp on admitting she is not against marrying him, she ‘hates’ him (not really) out of pride of his lack of interest in her instead. But with each encounter, we know better it is not disinterest, she is fully aware too. I am in disbelief because here I am served a very respectable piece of fine cake and I can chow it down my heart’s desire, dunking my fingers my face in all the fluffy sweet cream too.