DramaLove at First Sight: Battle of ChangSha/戰長沙 ep 1

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.

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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…

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It is the sight of a very dashing commanding officer, bringing along his own perfect light, whom at the same moment is turning his head, staring at her direction. Or as we say it: O!T!P! Alert!!

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:

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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.

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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.

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‘A young lady, a student, pretty and from a reputable family is not easy to come by.’

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We are here as soldiers protecting, defending our country.

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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.


On the stairs…
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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.

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‘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:

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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. 

Excuse me.

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Hey, Mister!

Brother in law is furiously shushing.

 He is not a baby, what hurt are you protecting him from?  (My words?!)

BroinLaw: YOU$#$&#!!

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What do you have to say?

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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.

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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.

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‘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.


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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.*

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*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!

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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?!

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Now that you are knocked out by my words, are you going to pull out your gun?

*mind was briefly in the gutters.  Briefly!*

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LOL Wallace, your ouch! I am about to cry face is too cute for Officer Gu.

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 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.

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BiL is so full of smartass, he must’ve done this before, catching this little kicking and biting ruffian.  Here he is leisurely taking a front seat enjoying the show they both are putting up:

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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:

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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.

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Back at the Hu house, big sister Mrs. Xue, Hu XiangJun is carrying her son, seeing her husband home in anticipation.
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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:
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XiangJun offers to take in her entire family in their house, ensuring them her husband has the thought for a while.

Scenery porn:
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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.

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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.

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JunShan, what do you think you are doing?!

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.

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…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:

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We have a flashback.  The ruthless side of the loving doting father at work: cold, calculated callousness on his face, controlling a mob of hotblooded students demonstrating against the Japanese.

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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.

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Dad cant help but inject how important spiritual wealth is, materialistic possessions are not lasting joy.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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I should have rushed up the wedding between you and MingHan!

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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.

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It is clearly something XiangJun has relived herself teeth clinched.

JunShan calls for his wife, she hurries off to their bedroom:

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I am thanking you for my Dad.

-why are you saying things like we are not in the same family?!

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I love everything you cook, feed me like you are keeping a pig!

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You are better than me…

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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.


25 thoughts on “DramaLove at First Sight: Battle of ChangSha/戰長沙 ep 1

    1. I did! So happy really. He’s sooooo asfgkljgfsfjkll gorgeous and honestly better. I think he find the comfy spot of being the pretteh and not resent it.

  1. Guess my love for him isn’t ‘strong’ enough so I won’t be checking out this drama. I watched an interview of him and this gal dated in 2013 and despite the generation gap they connected really well off-screen. Wallace was funnie when he said she was so stiff during kiss scene..mauhaha. and he was so serious when they went to karaoke .. lol

      1. Emmm does that mean that scene of Yuanbao doing whatever to Qilin neck was one of his ideas too………… lol. That’s just too much.

        1. most probably, I did not read the novel for Perfect Couple, not sure if it is a tie-in to the drama, or the drama is based on the novel already in print. There are so many Chinese Paladin 3 touches Wallace added, and YuanBao fav smirk of ‘bite me’ is an homage and I bet that’s why we have both of them biting each other.

  2. gahhhhh i’ve found my next drama crackkkkkkk thanks for the suggestion! this is awesome stuff gah

    Wallace has so much control in his portrayal of Gu, BIL is like a big teddy bear that tries to be scary it’s hilarious, and at this rate XiangXiang might end up being one of my fave heroines… i’ve gotten all the way to ep10 and i think i’ve found my fave scene (so far) right at the end of it…

    anyway, enough of my manic, sleep-deprived rant, looking forward to hear more about it from you~

    1. The actor of BiL is soooo brilliant, I am turning a fangirl! A master at work. And even when I am absolutely a smittened Wallace’s fangirl now, you can tell BiL is a league above owning his character, when Wallace has some tiny idol habits sneaking it when he is not in absolute control of scene. It is not harming anything, but it is there to nitpick.

      10 eps…per my suggestion? ie breezing through it in a few days!??!?! *not that I am deep in my abyss of addiction* I am not at e10 yet, you are HORRIBLE tempting me!

      1. well i…. speed watch… and i down ~10 episodes in like 4 hrs or something and i stay up till 1am (this sounds like a confession LOL) I love the OTP cuz i see them almost like my babies (which is weird cuz i’m not that old) but omgosh… BiL is like my favorite character– he’s so friggin brilliant and THE best wingman ever. The love he has for his family is amazing– i finished ep 18 last night… at the expense of having barely 6 hrs of sleep… i’ve gone… insane

        1. Hahaha this would be my confession then! I got up to 12 now and u r right 10 is such a lovely ep! I didn’t expect i would rofl in this but i did when BiL is teaching XX how to charm her way with Gu…haha i think BigSis is lol for real at the back. His character is so magnetic, he is not a good guy, but he is so good and caring a fierce protector of the family, in a lesser drama his character would seems all ovrr the place, but here he is a cohesive whole where everything he did, gd or often shady, it adheres to his survivalist principles. It peeves me whenever the OTP is on we have the v cheesy ballad/ music that is not period authentic out of place for drama, and sometimes we have slowmo too, it is too heavyhanded, as if the director is not confident the actors r doing a gd job already!

          1. HAHAHAHAHA i was dyinggggg at that scene– that was my favorite scene right there. i found another fave scene but again it’s with BiL lol I love how he just weasels/coerces people into doing things in a firm, yet endearing way– you can see the love he has for these people. He clearly likes XX A LOT almost like a daddy to daughter way which is SO CUTE.

            I just fly through those parts with the modern ballads and slowmos (though there are some slowmo portions that are just pure visual art– like the scene with Gu staring at XX through the white cloths at the med camp in the previews)

            I’m happy you’re catching up~~ I’ll have someone to spazz with!!

          2. with that scene in ep 10– i love it because he just gives all responsibility of watching over the household to XX– he trusts her like he would trust his son if he were older, even though she’s a girl. He appreciates her intelligence– it’s just so tender i love it

            1. Opps sorry accidentally hit post…off the bat at that balcony when XX threatened to jump and how BiL handled her was obvious how well he read her like an open bk. He has the best read on everything and everyone, so full of streetsmarts. Often we have dramas telling us, hammering the point the character is slick and smart but the action and words seldom match up, not here. U can tell BiL is the smartest pants.

            2. And XX is not far behind in brains tangoing tete a tete with him everytime. I love how XX grows a little, gradually with each tribulation not so much we can’t recognize where it comes fr.

  3. Yes! Please tell me you’ll be continuing to blog about your thoughts on the episodes!! I love the drama so much and cannot wait for it to air off cable! Need the DVD NOW! Xue Jun Shan totally climbed his way up from rock bottom to being one of my favourite characters by the end of the drama. I so so so hated him for being rude to the family, forcing his wife to marry him, and forcing his XX to marry someone she didn’t like. But as the threat of war loomed, I gradually started seeing him in different light. The story writing and character developments are as good as they can get, and of course it is fleshed out by solid acting all round. I’m sure Wallace impressed many of us with his acting in this show!

    1. Oh my friend, this is going to be a very sick BoC central comes July 14th! Four eps a day, I’ll lost my marbles but… so. Be. It.

      I didn’t adore any of them particularly in the first episode. XX is too full of herself and it is ignorant of her just looking on what is goinh around her as if this jas very little to do with privileged her, above the rest of her fellow Changshanites. Gu comes across as too severe and hence impractical, new princeling in town needs to lower himself, smiles niceties to the locals, especially when he is your Uncle, no?! They seems all too straight forward cliches when we met them this episode, it is the marvelous pace, tight steady unfolding of story and that brilliant PD work at the dinner table, dropping so much info seaminglessly. That was what really caught my eye this is different, this is promising.

      1. Yes! Straight forward cliches – that’s what they were!! Yet they grew into something more, so much more! Great to have someone to spazz together over HD stills! I hope the drama finally gets the limelight spot it deserves. i was sorely disappointed a few months back when i realised it only had a limited air and didn’t garner much publicity.

        1. I honestly thought we’ll have to settle w blurry LD, afterall this is a story on KMT soldiers no red army in sight, and for it yo even see any daylight is a miracle, i never expected to see it on CCTV.

          I mean the arguably best period ever made Ming Dynasty 1566 was only aired once to poor ratings and heard it bugged some higherups too sensitive satiring prc. BoC is not exactly brownnosing glorifying the hold out against IJA

  4. My heart is feeling those feelz!
    I need a good sweeping, period romance like this. Was disappointed by the sloppiness of Yae no Sakura towrads its wrap-up.
    This sounds delish.

      1. You got me! You got me good! I’ve added it to my current drama roster and will be checking it out asap.
        I’ll be back~

  5. “she ‘hates’ him (not really) out of pride of his lack of interest in her instead.” – Well-said. I completely agree. That’s exactly what it was. :))

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