An oldie, but a goodie. In the same of vein as Mulan, Mu Gui Ying Gua Shuai tells the story of young girl who has the smarts, beauty, and physical prowess as much as or even more than any guy during her time. Born the daughter of a rich bandit, she has lived her life to the fullest doing as she pleased, but also gaining skills that surpassed most men. When her father tried to marry her off, she proposed that she will marry any suitor that can best her in martial arts. Of course, no man in town could even match her level until she managed to offend the heir of a family of generals. It then becomes a vicious cycle of Gui Ying provoking the heir, Zhang Bao, while he tries to take a valuable wood sculpture from her. They are well-matched in martial art’s prowess, but Gui Ying exceeds him in intelligence and craftiness. As they duel back and forth, they slowly fall for each other. At first, Zhang Bao hates her for besting him at each encounter, but slowly he becomes enamored and impressed by her. The line is thin between love and hate. Even though his family opposed the relationship, he can’t help but go to her and she has similar intense emotions for him. Eventually, they end up marrying each other, but end up encountering just as many obstacles against them even after their marriage. She had to endure many competitions against family or friends just to prove that she was good enough to be part of the famous Zhang family. However, it seemed like Gui Ying had a way to solve each one of their problems and continued to impress all her family and friends. She even became involved in the royal palace after placating the Royal Princess who had been pursing Zhang Bao before he married Gui Ying. Eventually, she even managed to lead the royal army in defending the Emperor’s territory from the Khitan nomads.
Mu Gui Ying is actually a legendary and real figure in Chinese history. She was famous for being a woman beyond her times and playing a big part in defending her country. While I haven’t seen the lead actress, Miao Pu, in any other drama before, I am very impressed with her acting. She was very natural and endearing. Her martial arts choreography was also on point. She also had such an addicting laugh paired with her country accent. As for Zhang Bao, played by Jin Luo, I really enjoyed his acting of intense emotions. He played the angsty role brilliantly and had a great comedic side to him as well. However, unlike traditional dramas now, the supporting characters of the drama did not have as big of a role as I would have expected. They felt more like add-ons and I would have liked to see more of their story and interactions with the main leads. Furthermore, as this drama is more obscure, to the point where it doesn’t even have a wiki page, it is not subtitled at all. So watchers beware, with the accents and royal speak, it was a struggle even for me at times. However, it is an amazing drama that really spoke to me as it featured a strong female lead which I love. Hopefully it will be subbed one day and more people can enjoy this drama!