This is the first time I watched such a long drama, 46 episodes, without skipping over anything! With marathoning it at 6-7eps per session, I finished it in record time. I very much enjoyed the drama which is set in my favorite era.
Plot: Overall, I definitely enjoyed the rollercoaster of a story that Lady and Liar rode. Misunderstandings were definitely used to the max in they story where Jiang Xin blames Bai Lang for nothing and everything. While it did get annoying at times even just to move the story along with so many misunderstandings in place, the drama manages to smooth it out at the end. Our loose ends are all tied up with inheritances returned to the right families, truths that all come out, and our half-baddie characters receiving moral redemption. As much as I liked the rest the drama, I must admit the ending was a dud for me even though it was a happy one like I had wished. Bai Lang survived his suicidal mission with some last minute sacrifices and had a tearful reunion with his wifie and a shot into the future with his daughter. But, in a way, it lacked all feeling as the moments before his supposed death was more emotion-wrought. However, I’m not going to look a gifted horse in the mouth, and I’ll take it. However, I feel like the version I watched online had a lot of scenes cut as I see in some flashbacks, things I haven’t watched. And at times, some relationship depths don’t make as much sense. I wonder if I can find an uncut version somewhere.
Characterizations: Bai Lang is your white knight in shining armor in all the ways you can imagine. Literally, a self-sacrificing gentlemen to the max. One of his quotes perfectly describes him, “can’t right one wrong, even if he tries a hundred times”. While he did make the huge mistake of keeping Jiang Xing in her amnesiac state, I believe throughout the drama, he has done more than enough to atone for his sins. He has helped her in every turn and never brags about it, but does it quietly and not letting her know that he had helped. He has saved the damsel in distress about a billion times. To me, he is the reason I watched this drama. As for Jiang Xing, I liked her more in the beginning than in the middle or end. While she was spunky as a magician, her constant misunderstanding and little temper tantrums got real old even though Bai Lang was tolerating her because he loved her too much. Thank God, he was harsh to her near the middle and end to get her to grow up and be more independent. As for Xiao Han, she was delightfully hateful as Fake Jiang Xin and pitiful at the end. While I enjoyed hating her for all her bad choices as she killed off so many people, I felt sorry for her circumstances that led her to this lifestyle. We got to see a quick redemption arc for her as she realized her wrongs. For Shen Shao, the second male lead, I don’t hate him, but nor do I like him. For me, he was just there, a crutch for Jiang Xin and I had wanted to see more his past relationship with her. As for the rest of the supporting cast, I enjoyed their background stories, especially those of Bai House.
Acting: Hawick Lau was very good in this drama with his angsty faces contrasting with his arrogant cold faces. Those tear-filled eyes or tender gazes got me every single time. His acting truly set my heart aflutter with his manliness. I suppose the drama tropes and his super-manliness speaks to my inner princess. Again, that strong eyebrow game, never knew I could find eyebrows so sexy! Tiffany Tang is so gorgeous and did well in her role that exudes innocence and justness. Xiao Han was really brilliant at her smarminess at getting one over everyone else and was heartbreakingly pitiful as she so greedily hungered for any type of motherly love. Again for Shen Shao, he was good in his role as well and props for playing a blind character. I also want to commend the comedic effect of Chun Hui and Shu Ge, of Bai House.
Filming: The costume sets are utterly gorgeous. Set in trendy Shanghai, I knew the dresses and suits of the 1930’s were going to be very trendy and appealing to the eye. However, I can definitely see some cut corners such as painting backgrounds with non-moving people as well as awkward CGI, and wow the really red-pink blood.
Themes: The show definitely gives us a commentary about social class disparity. We see different types of households and how the rich treat the lower class and how this affects them in the long run. Where Bai Lang treats each of his staff member and gang with utter respect and willingness to die for them, we see how staff of other houses betray at the blink of an eye. We also see a woman who has to make so many bad choices in order to get a taste of the rich life that was denied to her by birth. I can see why Xiao Han was so greedy and envious of Jiang Xing who didn’t have to lift a finger, but received all the love and riches. We also see a sense of strong brotherhood which can be translated into “national identity”. Bai Lang really hangs onto loyalty of his people and protecting what is his. This plays upon life debts and how one action can benefit you in the future. Lastly, since we are in the 1930’s era and this is a Mainland drama, of course we will also have commentary on the Japanese. As we know through both Korean dramas (Gaksital and Inspiring Generation), the Japanese were imperialistic and used less savory ways to take over Korean and Chinese territories. While the others focused on comfort women and taking of men to be soldiers, this drama chose to drive its point through the Japanese using China as a ground for the twin poisons of opium smuggling and biotoxin experiments. Unfortunately, due to the tragic history of Japan and China, I am not surprised Chinese drama will take this chance to spread some more anti-Japanese sentiment. I’ve definitely noticed this subtle racism in Korean, Chinese, and Japanese dramas about all different ethnicities that end up with annoying caricatured portrayals instead of realism (Misaeng excluded).
There, one Shanghai -bund era drama down, waiting on Cruel Romance now with pretty Huang Xiao Ming!