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.
When it comes to Chinese dramas, I tend to marathon them. Breaking away after watching 10 episodes, I am finally here to write about this hilarious sausagefest. Destined to Love You is set in the 1920’s era and takes place in a military academy. In the beginning, Bao Bao, our main character is circus entertainer by trade, but is trying to escape from loan sharks and save her ailing mother. She manages to slip onto a train heading to LongCheng and makes friends with a psychology professor, Xiao Han, a lady who is heading to the military academy to teach. She is also heading there to marry her first love and with whom she is in an arranged marriage with. Meanwhile Xiang Hao, wayward soldier who lived on the streets for about a year is being dragged back to the military academy that he had rebelled and quit from. He is a very skilled soldier, but a huge jokester and prankster. He takes nothing seriously except loyalty for his brothers in arms. Of course these Bao Bao and Xiang Hao cross hairs due to multiple understandings. Unfortunately on the train, several people are already trying to assassinate Xiang Hao and Xiao Han is accidentally thrown off the train and into the river beneath. Because Bao Bao is trying to save her mother, she decides to pretend to be Xiao Han in order to get military health benefits. Of course Xiao Han has not really died and seems to be still recovering.
I know this is hardly fair, but I can’t help comparing this drama to Lady and Liar due to the fact that they came out in the same time frame and that they are about almost the same things!! While the beginning and end pretty much align with L&L, this drama did have it’s shining moments.
Plot: Again, we have a super powerful Er Yei aka Zhou Zhen aka Triad Leader Supreme who controls all the economy in Shanghai. In the beginning, he hates getting entangled with women, finding them bothersome. Through some coincidences, he meets Jin Xiu, who is on the lookout for the evil people who killed her entire household. In Shanghai, she manages to meet her long-lost sister who absolutely hates her guts due to the fact that her dad pushed her and her mom into the streets. She indebted herself to the Japanese to make a living for herself and is now engaged to the most rich gentleman in Shanghai, Xiang. Through the beginning of the drama we have Jin Xiu struggling to stake a claim in Shanghai while her sister tries her best to kick her out. We also have Er Yei falling for Jin Xiu slowly and being very possessive of her. Meanwhile, Xiang’s little brother, YingDong, also tries to make a pass at her for a while in order to forget his past love with Jin Xiu’s sister, Min Ju. Add in a Japanese overlord, whose past lover looked like Jin Xiu, and now is dead-set on obtaining Jin Xiu in replacement of his Yangzhi, we have ourselves a right mess. The first half of the drama focused heavily on all of these people’s relationships with each other, a push and pull. Then our climax moment is when Jin Xiu falls fully in love with Er Yei and gets pregnant with his child. However, she is tricked by the Japanese overlord over who killed her family, and ends up losing the baby and separating from Er Yei for 2 years. The second half of the drama turns distinctly into a fight against the Japanese invasion in China. Jin Xiu, Ying Dong, and Er Yei have joined the Patriotic Rebel group that fights against Japan. In the end, some good people die, but of course not our important ones. By the way, the same set of side bros (smart bro and fighter bro) have issues and our fighter bro dies bravely for the cause. We are given hope against the Japanese invasion and a happy reunion between Jin Xiu and Er Yei. VERY RUSHED ENDING! I’m not sure what happened when they cut out the last 8 episodes, but it ended too fast, with too much unexplained and threads untied.
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!