End of “The Legends”


I would recommend this one, mostly for the badass-ery of our female lead. But also because almost every character in this story has had their lives or bodies broken because of love, and I found it fascinating that even the most reprehensible villains had someone they loved.
Continue reading

#bai-lu, #the-legends, #xu-kai

The Legends – 1st Impressions

the legends

Ah Robin, you gave me such a great idea when you mentioned that the two leads in “Arsenal Military School” and been cast together for a second time. I thought, huh, producers never make a point of matching the same leads over and over unless they were a hit the first time around, so I looked up their previous drama and, poof! “The Legends.”

As expected, this one captivated right away! None of the “well let’s give it another few episodes” nonsense.
Continue reading

#bai-lu, #the-legends, #xu-kai

Arsenal Military Academy – Series Review

Arsenal Military Academy was one of several popular Chinese dramas in 2019 and it’s one of the titles that I chose to close out the year and it was a pleasant diversion for a number of reasons, but primarily because of the performance of Bai Lu as Xie Xiang, the young woman who takes her deceased brother’s assignment to a military academy in order to fulfill his dreams. Is she a convincing young man? Of course not, but total props to the actress for going all out to behave like a boy to the best of her abilities; a real tomboy with courage.

The other reason to spend time with the idealistic soldiers in training is the manga-come-to-life actor Xu Kai, playing the rebellious bad boy Gu Yanzhen who torments his new roomie (Xie Xiang), learns her secret, and becomes her protector. (Can it really be a spoiler to tell you all this when it’s a preordained trope of all cross-dressing dramas? I don’t think so!)

When it’s not focused on the drills and training at the academy, the hazing and schooling, and game-playing, the story is all hot on Japan’s incursions in mainland China, and their evil oppressiveness, foreshadowing the role of these future young soldiers in training will play in kicking them out of their country. Surprisingly, they allow these kids access to the arsenal, so to speak, in a number of deadly operations, so it’s not all school-based, kids in love hi-jinx.

In addition to our main couple, we have another suitor for Xie Xiang in her feminine form, another classmate, Shen Junshan, played by Toby Lee (who looks like a young Eddie Peng). He is pursued in turn by a young woman who has a foot in the Japanese camp (Gao Yuer, who looks like a sister to Korean actress Han Yeseul). There’s another romance between an actress and Shen Junshan’s older brother, so in between the training, there’s plenty of couples bickering and making up.

Truth be told, the story is a little lot jingoistic in tone with some of the ‘we will overcome’ messaging, and some of the acting is a little very broad, but the main characters have an appealing chemistry, a carryover no doubt from previous dramas in which they costarred. Enough so that I’d say yes, give this one a whirl.


#arsenal-military-academy, #bai-lu, #gao-yu-er, #liu-si-bo, #toby-lee, #wu-jia-yi, #xu-kai

Finished “Story of Yanxi Palace”

Good stuff! Two thumbs up! I inhaled 70 episodes in less than 2 1/2 weeks! Though I found the last 10 episodes underwhelming, it was only because the previous 60 episodes were so outstanding.


Continue reading

#charmaine-sheh, #nie-yuan, #qin-lan, #story-of-yanxi-palace, #wu-jinyan, #xu-kai

Story of Yanxi Palace – 2nd impressions

As we all expected, I have softened in my hatred of the emperor, though I’m still not in his camp 100 percent.

The four things in his favor (potential spoilers after the jump)Continue reading

#charmaine-sheh, #nie-yuan, #qin-lan, #story-of-yanxi-palace, #wu-jinyan, #xu-kai

Story of Yanxi Palace – 1st impressions

Browsing through Viki for what to watch next, I came across “Story of Yanxi Palace” and remembered that last year, while I was in my anti-drama funk, I had dinner with my old Mandarin teacher. She was always really fascinated by the fact that I watch Asian dramas, and even saw BBJX and NiF at my recommendation, and loved them. She asked me if I was watching “Yanxi Palace” because she said it was HUGE in China and Taiwan, like a major ratings blockbuster, articles about what was going on in this drama were in the newspaper every other day, they were talking about it  on all the Chinese variety shows, she was very surprised that I wasn’t already all over it. At the time I googled it and there were only like 20 eps subtitled out of 70, so I told her I’d wait for it to be completely subbed before I watched (but really I wasn’t in the mood to watch shit), so lucky me.

Anyway, I decided to watch the first episode, and I gotta say I’m already pissed off and I already love the heroine, she’s SO fierce and smart and fearless, stands up for the weak, doesn’t take shit, refuses to apologize if she’s not wrong, fights fire with bigger fire and is an all around badass in one prim, petite, serene package. In reality, she has infiltrated the palace as a maid to find out who killed her sister, who worked there in the embroidery shop but was sent home in a casket. They said she died of “illness” but our girl saw bruising around her sister’s neck and called bullshit. All the cowardly men of her clan were like, just leave it alone, do what we say, and she’s like, get out of my way; I’m avenging.

OK, so like the reason I’m pissed off is that the episode opens with that horribly demeaning “picking of the concubines” ceremony, where all these teenage girls are lined up in their finest to be paraded in front of the emperor so he can get fresh meat to boink. Just, as a woman, I’m disgusted, even though I know this is back in the 15th century or whatever and this is consider a GREAT HONOR for them. The emperor, though he’s quite goodlooking, sounds like quite a misogynist already, ridicules the girls as too skinny or too fat or too dark, drags one out in shame, dishonoring her whole family, because he disagreed with her choice of footwear. Later, he calls his entire harem stupid, and sends them cryptic paintings for them to scratch their heads over trying to figure out what he means by it and how to please him, since that’s all they live for.  Clearly a man crying out for an intelligent woman, which I suppose will be our girl.  Except I already  hate him for looking down on all his wives and concubines like they’re worthless toys, how dare he???

OK, some of them are total bitches (that harem is like WWIII in there), but he’s got some really nice, good-hearted women there too, come on now! Why the disrespect?  They all gather like sheep to be picked for the night, and he sends the eunuch to tell them all he’d rather spend time looking over paperwork. Arrghhh! I’m just really angry and humiliated on their behalf. LOL.

So a great start to this drama, which is beautiful to look at while also being quite brutal in the same vein as BBJX. Love the heroine, hate the hero… if indeed he is the hero, because there’s another man also in the credits who I have not seen yet, but maybe after he shows up he’ll be the hero?  I can’t tell you, since I’ve avoided seeing any synopses of this drama whatsoever. Maybe there won’t be any romance at all, that would be interesting! But so far so good!

#charmaine-sheh, #nie-yuan, #qin-lan, #story-of-yanxi-palace, #the-story-of-yanxi-palace, #wu-jinyan, #xu-kai