Name: Ming Dynasty
Writer/director: An Jian, Dai Jin / Zhang Ting
Date: November 2019
Number of episodes: 62
Genre: Ming Dynasty / revenge / love / historic
Based on book/manga?: Not sure
Why did I press play? While running out of shows to watch and waiting for new Joy of Life episodes, I gave this one ago. The plot, casting of the leads and promotional artwork is intriguing.
Thoughts and observations: This drama doesn’t float my boat. I hung in there for half of the drama to see if things will fall into place and improve, but it didn’t. The main issue is the lack of distinction; so much feels blurred. The characters are undefined and don’t carry the presence of their roles. For example, the new emperor has no real reverence around him, his on-screen presence and character development seems like that of a 3rd lead. Nothing was intimidating about him. This is an issue because this is the man who had the gusto and ruthlessness to murder dozens of officials and overthrow an emperor. Yet, he seems like an uncle. The strange dynamic between his sons and the ease with which one of his grandsons (Zhu Zhan Ji) hangs around is odd.
The characters and their circumstances feel sloppy, with missing logic and realism for the natural occurrence of events.
The female lead has a great look, but her character started strong but feels shallow and changed to quickly. The original synopsis implied that she has a long and smooth transition to support Zhan Ji, but it was far more choppy than promised. It was also stated that she learned martial arts while in hiding, but her fighting skills and strength are quite dismal. Her sister’s journey (including finding someone to bear children with) and their long at last reunion seem random.
The hero if the drama is actor Zhu Ya Wen, who plays the lead male role of Zhu Zhan Ji. His screen presence is off the charts and his intense gaze makes you swoon from behind your computer/or TV screen. It was for him and his relationship with Sun Ruo that I kept watching, but unfortunately, I think due to post-production editing, we see little intimate scenes (I’m even talking about a basic kiss). That the transition from her keeping him at bay, to lovingly helping him dress is bewildering.
The larger plot of war and palace politics also leaves much to be desired. All in all the drama falls short in many and most ways. Despite the high ratings, this drama is dropped. It just isn’t my cup of tea, but it may be yours, so it may be worth checking out.
Who are the main characters? Which actors play them?
Sun Ruo Wei played by Rebecca Tang
Zhu Zhan Ji played by Zhu Ya Wen
Xu Bin played by Qiao Zhen Yu
Yongle Emperor played by Wang Xue Qi
Zhu Qi Zhen played by Lay
Hu Shan Xiang played by Deng Jia Jia
Consort Piao played Cindy Sun
Zhu Gao Xu played by Yu Hao Ming
Zhu Qiyu played by Rise Li
Xie Jin played by Gao Kai Yuan
Zhu Gao Sui played by Luan Yuan Hui
Theme: Revenge is rocky road.
What’s it good for: To dabble into a new drama that you may or may not like.