I have to admit, most of the Chinese drama offerings of late haven’t been that enticing although they put out content at top speed as many of them are pre-productions. These days, it’s been brimming with idol drama serials that have not captured my interest much. That was until I saw some of my favourite actors and production companies putting out projects, so I’m beginning to look forward to them again. Here’s a compilation of the few shows, which I thought would be a good overview if they’re all in one list. There are both period and modern-day dramas, and I hope you’d be able to find something to watch amidst the current global situation.
First of all I’m going to talk about Daylight Entertainment’s (东阳正午阳光影视) latest historical that just premiered last week! Fans would know that this is the production company behind many successful and hit dramas such as Nirvana in Fire琅琊榜, The Disguiser伪装者, Battle of Changsha战长沙, Ode to Joy欢乐颂 and All is Well都挺好. Colour me excited!
SERENADE OF PEACEFUL JOY 清平乐
Previously known as Held in the Lonely Castle 孤城闭, Serenade had a title change just ahead of its premiere. Personally, I feel the new title is a better one so I welcome the change. Based on a novel penned by Milan Lady, it stars Wang Kai as Emperor Zhao Zhen and Jiang Shuying as Empress Cao. Wang Kai has starred in several of Daylight’s productions and this is no exception. Jiang Shuying is also a familiar face; with Wang Churan, Ren Min and Bian Cheng alongside the cast. As the King, Zhao Zhen struggles between maintaining his beliefs of governing the country and love for his daughter Zhao Huirou (Ren Min). Based on the teasers and trailers I’ve seen, it looks like we are embarking on a journey with lots of angst amidst the politics. We can also be assured of the production quality, as Daylight has rarely disappointed in this aspect. Since I absolutely loved Nirvana in Fire and everything so far looks good, I will be sure to tune in! It has also been picked up for subbing by Viki and wetv.
WINTER BEGONIA 鬓边不是海棠红
Next up we have a Republican period drama Winter Begonia based on a web novel (written by shui ru tian er水如天儿) of the same name and stars Charmaine Sheh, Yin Zheng and Huang Xiaoming. It premiered on iQiyi March 20th and about 24 episodes have aired so far. What makes the premise even more interesting is the fact that this show is set in a period where Peking Opera was a huge thing. Yin Zheng is the titular opera actor Shang Xirui who struggles to make ends meet, but at the same time is very determined to promote the art of opera. When he meets businessman Cheng Fengtai (Huang Xiaoming), they become best of friends (bromance!!) and together they work to rebuild the opera scene. More chaos ensue when war hits and the Japanese occupy Beiping as a result. I have seen 4 episodes so far and it is well-paced, slowly setting us up on what is to come. Besides the budding bromance, we also begin to see Cheng’s family drama (which is quite a big one) where Charmaine Sheh plays Fan Xiang’er, wife of Fengtai. We see that Cheng spends a lot of time outside conducting business, constantly worrying her. There are also conflicts here and there on the business side of things. Part of me also doesn’t want to catch up too quick, although I am really looking forward to see the story’s progression. Visual wise, the sets are really well thought-out, along with the costumes and props that reflect the era set between 1920s-1940s China. This is also being subbed by Viki.
I WILL FIND YOU A BETTER HOME 安家
We move on to modern-day workplace drama I Will Find You A Better Home, which actually aired in late February and completed its run at the end of last month. I decided to include it because it stars Sun Li as star property agent Fang Si Jin alongside Luo Jin, Zhang Meng and Wang Zijian. The story is based on Japanese drama Your Home is My Business, and from the trailer it looks like hijinks ensue between our characters amidst differing perspectives and work styles. Over time, romance blossoms between Fang Si Jin and Xu Wen Chang (Luo Jin) who also grow as individuals. With a real-estate agency as the backdrop, we also get to look into stories of their clients’ lives.
IF TIME FLOWS BACK 如果岁月可回头
Jin Dong!! Need I say more? Haha. Jokes aside, If Time Flows Back is his latest project that premiered 20th March on iQiyi platform. It stars Jiang Xin, Li Naiwen as well as Li Zonghan. A healing drama about three men who decide to go on vacation in Australia coming off their respective failed marriages; they then begin to find their way out of difficult patches in their respective lives. There they also meet bar owner Jiang Xiaomei (Jiang Xin) and through their encounter she also finds herself healing and seeking closure from her past experiences. The premise is slightly different but based on the trailer and promotional material, there is a mixture of comedy amidst the angst, much like kdrama A Gentleman’s Dignity. It looks ridiculous already, can’t imagine watching the actual drama itself. Besides the fun, it also looks like a show with lots of heart. I think that it is equally important to be touching and reflective of life. P.S. I can’t find a subbed version of the trailer below.
Majority of Hunting’s promotions came out only on 13th April, just a day ahead of its premiere today. This also stars Wang Kai, but is special because he reunites with his Nirvana in Fire and Disguiser co-stars Wang Ou, Liu Yijun and Guo Xiaoran for a detective thriller. Wang Kai plays Xia Yuan, a detective in the economic crimes unit alongside Hu Jun as Yang Jianqun who is like a mentor and friend to him. His career and life comes crashing down when a crash in the stock market sparks a suicide that reveals suspicion of a huge conspiracy behind it. Xia Yuan begins his investigation to hunt down mastermind Wang Bolin (Liu Yijun) across the globe, with the assistance of his colleague Wu Jiaqi (Wang Ou). From the promotional preview, it is evident that there is going to be a lot of manipulation and corruption that Xia Yuan and his team aim to get to the bottom of. P.S. The trailer as shown below is not subbed yet.