Destined To Love You 2015 has definitely taken the number one spot in my heart for Chinese dramas. As a pretty underrated drama and one that is largely unsubbed, it has not garnered a decent fan base just yet. As I am a sucker for Revolutionary era dramas and some handsome sausagefest, this drama hooked me right from the start!
Plot: The drama focuses mainly on three characters’ journey and growth through an elite military academy. Baobao, the main female lead, was a circus troupe performer who acted her way into the academy. She takes the place of a psychology instructor who “died on a train accident” in order to get her ailing mother medical care from the military facilities. On the way she meets Xiang Hao, rebel student soldier who is being dragged back to the academy after a year of freeroaming due to a tragic accident. Finally we have Wen Tao, straight-laced ace student of the academy and rival of Xiang Hao, though they were tight buddies once. While Xiang Hao and Baobao butt heads on every issue, Wen Tao takes a liking to Bao Bao and protects her even when he finds out her real identity. Now the Dean of the school and his devious son are trying every which way to eliminate or kill these power three in order to get the son in the Captain position of the future elite squad. The rest of the episodes give us great scenes of how these three unwittingly work together to overcome all the obstacles thrown at them. We see growth in their personalities and skills not only in these three characters, but in the other students/instructors of the school as well. Bonds are strengthened, misunderstandings unknotted, and romance is developed. Of course, as it is a Revolutionary era drama, they ALWAYS MUST end with a devious attack from the Japanese forces (hello Lady&Liar and Cruel Romance). With one last tragic and patriotic boom, the drama takes out some of our most important and loved characters. I for one, bawled my eyes out for our second lead. Two, I am not so keen on amnesia tropes as that negates all this wonderful growth and bond between certain star-crossed lovers.
Characterizations: The characters are what made this drama so amazing. First and foremost, Qian Bao Bao is so kickass, there are no words to describe her awesomeness. Not only is she a strong female lead, she ends up saving our two guys a lot of times through her own wit and skills! Not once did she become a damsel in distress in front of these soldiers, but instead matches up to them and even leads them on missions. She is also such a realist and brave person. She isn’t trying to become some sort of Cinderella, but is willing to confront her wrongs and grow from them. She chooses not to run away when the real psychology instructor comes back, but instead faces her straight on with apologies. As for Xiang Hao, he is such a jokester and fool. Usually in Revolutionary era dramas, you have a cold and indifferent drama lead, blah blah blah. However, Xiang Hao is the opposite. He is such a child, immature, hot-tempered, and just wants to have fun. He does have his serious moments though when it comes to loyalty and brotherhood. His stubbornness and fiery passion makes him sometimes a “crazy dog” who bites and does not let go. Wen Tao is the complete opposite. He is the ace of the squad who is cool, calm, collected, and all about the rules! He has a warm heart that goes out toward Bao Bao and is also skilled in his own right. Wen Tao and Xiang Hao play against each other and build each other up. As for the rest of our squad, their brotherhood is heartwarming as the teams come together to work through each problem. Even the instructors have their own humorous storylines.
Acting: Because the drama opens up in such a comedic and slapstick way, some watchers may be turned off by such humor. However, the drama builds up by episode 2/3 as we see our characters start interacting with each other. For me, the comedic relief was refreshing and Xiang Hao played by Nai Liang is such a riot! His expressions are really a hoot and just makes me roll around laughing. He doesn’t take anything seriously and everyone just playfully tolerates him. Contrast him with the collected and indifferent Wen Tao played by Wong Bosco, they make a great pair. However Wen Tao does not have a frozen face! He is a really subtle actor whose eyes and small expression changes speak volumes. Bao Bao played by the every so lovely Joe Chen stepped right from the pages of Cruel Romance into a better role! She is lovely and cute, always great in her acting! Not only can she play the strong female, but she can also play the vulnerable one who is still trying to hold things together. As for our villains, they are at times laughable. They have tried so many times to eliminate the power three with absolutely no success at all.
Filming: I love military uniforms! Well, I love the amazing sharp and clean uniform suits that the drama uses. There are more than three or four types of the military suits that are worn in the drama in addition to the field uniforms. They just make everyone look sharper and more professional. While sometimes the color of the drama may get candy-like, it is offset by the nitty-gritty of the battlefield splattered with blood. As we all know, Revolutionary fashion is something I absolutely adore!
Themes: Patriotism is key in this drama. Whether it is to your brothers, your school, your family, or your nation. You are to stand by your words and protect the nation at all costs. These boys joined this elite military squad to serve the nation and look forward to dying in battle together as the highest form of glory. Betraying the nation or your word is of highest treason and is sentenced by death. Another theme of this drama is the fine line between obeying your superiors in all ways or deviating from the commands due to your own judgments. During such a patriarchal era, being filial and obeying your elders is of utmost importance. It is hard for one to break such molds and think for themselves, especially in a military environment when everything is “yes, sir!” However, this drama chose to portray that at key times, it is important to trust your own judgement in order to benefit the greater population. And of course, lastly, we also have the discussion of the Japanese. This time, it concerns a secret Japanese outpost near Chinese military grounds. The last few episodes focused on penetrating this secret lair and blasting it sky-high. It gave me shivers and goosebumps as these soldiers were so willing to sacrifice their lives without fame or glory as it was a secret, non-ordered mission in order to potentially save a nation. I give props and thanks to those who have such courage to enter the military and serve, in the past and for our soldiers now.
After such a delicious 3rd round of Revolutionary drama, I hope there is more to come!