Chinese dramas are growing up! Well, they’re coming along nicely in terms of improved production values. Tientsin Mystic, while not a drama without flaws, is certainly one of the more interesting dramas I’ve seen recently from a visual standpoint, and that’s enough to make me recommend it.
It starts out very strongly, even if by about the halfway point it starts to lose its edge and descend into a sillier creature-feature type of tale. In some ways it reminded me both of the good things and the weak things in The Joseon X-Files, and Wu Xin: The Monster Killer – there is a strong “world creation” aspect, an interesting premise, great costuming and likeable leads, but sometimes the horror elements are a little half-baked.
Li Xian, who was the cop buddy in Dr Qin Medical Examiner, is the lead in this one, and while he’s still a little inexperienced as an actor, he’s coming along nicely and has a fresh, genuine air in this one. He’s also everywhere these days, very much the flavor of the year in China, as he’s the second lead in Only Side by Side With You (opposite William Chan and Bai Baihe) now on air and slowly in release on Viki.
At the very least, check out the first 2 or 3 episodes for a visual treat.