Cruel Romance / 锦绣缘·华丽冒险 / Jin Xiu Yuan · Hua Li Mao Xian
Well, well, well what do we have here? Is it a Lady and Liar knockoff or is it something of it’s own? I would be lying if I said I didn’t see hints of Lady and Liar in Cruel Romance in the beginning. However, after 4 episodes, the similarities are only apparent at the start and the paths are already diverging.
With Cruel Romance, we have JinXiu, a girl of a prominent family in the more rural areas of China who is pretty spunky and dislikes being fit into the ladylike mold. However, one night her entire family befalls tragedy after she helps a wounded individual. Her family is executed at gunpoint by this unknown evil enemy and she sets out on the mission of finding the enemy with only a controversial compass that the wounded man passed into her possession. On her way, she meets Zuo Zhen, triad leader, Er Yei (hello there White Wolf pt. 2), whom she saves on a ship and who saves her as well as they land in Shanghai. While in Shanghai, she meets Ying Dong who becomes her friend and someone she has a crush on later. He is actually her brother-in-law as JinXiu’s long lost sister is married to his brother.
However, that sister hates JinXiu’s guts because her mother and her were pushed out of the family and starved on the streets JinXiu’s other came into the family. While in Shanghai, JinXiu passes of the compass to YingDong (not that she knows it was him) and still tries to search for her parent’s killers while being pushed and bullied by her sister. Luckily, we have Zou Zhen looking out for her as well as Ying Dong. By episode four, we have Zou Zhen, who really hates romance and entanglements with women, gradually appreciating JinXiu as they save each other’s lives multiple times. Oops, and I almost forgot, our villainous Japanese gentlemen who has some nefarious plans. But wait! He lost his love before who coincidentally looks like JinXiu! That will be a mess for sure!
This is definitely a drama I will follow till the end like Lady and Liar. The drama definitely develops their romance better and more gradually than the other drama. Huang Xiao Min, who has played such a role before in previous movies and dramas, is pretty much the perfect image I see for a triad leader. Very intense and less smirky than usual which is surprising. Joe Chen who plays JinXiu is adorably spunky, but in a naive way right now. We will hopefully see her grow into a more mature character. Ying Dong is so playful and the bromance between him and Zuo Zhen is A+. While I am sad to see JinXiu bullied by her sister, I am not surprised that the hardship she went through made her this jaded towards her sister. I hope they can resolve some differences in the future.
The drama is definitely gorgeously filmed with costumes of a slightly more older generation than the ones in Lady and Liar. Cruel Romance has 1000x more fight scenes, and I mean a lot, in all different locations. I understand that Zuo Zhen is a triad leader which means he probably has a billion enemies, but sometimes the amount of fighting is almost ridiculous. While the choreography of the fights themselves are pretty good, at times I kind of find it funny to see their “knife poses” at the end of beating an enemy. That’s just me though. However, this drama gives us ample fanservice with many reveals of Huang Xiao Ming’s gorgeous abs and fangirly swoon moments. I’m sure this drama will be a roller coaster ride as well!