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[Mainland Chinese Drama 2018] The Rise of Phoenixes 凰权·弈天下

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From Weibo, noticed the official account of the TV series made a post with the photo of Zhiwei and NingYi hugging each other up on the mountain (the one we've seen in trailers etc) 

 

Spoiler

and consoling everyone not to cry. I'm wondering whether they're being coy and maybe they will show the other version? Or are they just screwing with everyone? 

 

By the way, regarding 100 episodes, I read on Weibo and Douban that someone who has a friend who worked on the production has debunked the 100 episode rumour. There were never 100 episodes. They filmed enough material for 100 episode but the final cut was 70 episodes. 

 

Having said that, in the last couple of days, there was a post released by someone revealing that the show was essentially being forced to buy ratings and marketing - which the production refused to do. Apparently, it's a done thing in the industry so that explains why there were hardly any marketing on top of forced edits and cuts. This post was then re-posted by the actor playing Xing Zhiyeng. 

 

Further, some Weibo posts also mentioned that they had to change quite a lot of stuff due to the recent changes in laws (the one where they removed limits to presidency terms). Apparently, that meant a lot of the stuff they filmed couldn't be shown. One specific detail was apparently 

 

Spoiler

they can't show the scene where the emperor bows to Ning Yi and officially recognises and abdicates for Ning Yi to be the next emperor. Or Ning Yi abdicating for his younger brother to become emperor so he can be with Zhi Wei. Apparently, it reflects too much of current situation?? 

 

Which....a lot of people on Weibo are like WTF'ing. Emperors abdicating has happened many times in the past. Qiang Long did it because he didn't want to rule longer than his grandfather. All very strange. 

 

If it was censorship laws they wanted to pass, I'm really wondering what was in the original that they had to change so much. I don't think it was a coincidence when you can literally see a drop in continuity from Minhai arc onwards. From then on, you can literally see parts in the storyline that was probably in the original, and then parts where they probably had to quickly chop and change. 

 

Anyways, lots of weird things has happened with this series. And lots of speculations. All very strange. 

 

Maybe it becomes some sort of weird cult classic and when the tides have turned around the censorship laws, the director's cut finally gets released but.....*sigh*

 

EDIT: Just saw this (probably spoilers)

 

Spoiler

So as they were rehearsing, Chen Kun was saying how in that moment, they aren't actually there together. It's like they both were imagining being together finally - but it didn't happen. 

 

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59 minutes ago, MikiRei said:

From Weibo, noticed the official account of the TV series made a post with the photo of Zhiwei and NingYi hugging each other up on the mountain (the one we've seen in trailers etc) 

 

  Reveal hidden contents

and consoling everyone not to cry. I'm wondering whether they're being coy and maybe they will show the other version? Or are they just screwing with everyone? 

 

By the way, regarding 100 episodes, I read on Weibo and Douban that someone who has a friend who worked on the production has debunked the 100 episode rumour. There were never 100 episodes. They filmed enough material for 100 episode but the final cut was 70 episodes. 

 

Having said that, in the last couple of days, there was a post released by someone revealing that the show was essentially being forced to buy ratings and marketing - which the production refused to do. Apparently, it's a done thing in the industry so that explains why there were hardly any marketing on top of forced edits and cuts. This post was then re-posted by the actor playing Xing Zhiyeng. 

 

Further, some Weibo posts also mentioned that they had to change quite a lot of stuff due to the recent changes in laws (the one where they removed limits to presidency terms). Apparently, that meant a lot of the stuff they filmed couldn't be shown. One specific detail was apparently 

 

  Hide contents

they can't show the scene where the emperor bows to Ning Yi and officially recognises and abdicates for Ning Yi to be the next emperor. Or Ning Yi abdicating for his younger brother to become emperor so he can be with Zhi Wei. Apparently, it reflects too much of current situation?? 

 

Which....a lot of people on Weibo are like WTF'ing. Emperors abdicating has happened many times in the past. Qiang Long did it because he didn't want to rule longer than his grandfather. All very strange. 

 

If it was censorship laws they wanted to pass, I'm really wondering what was in the original that they had to change so much. I don't think it was a coincidence when you can literally see a drop in continuity from Minhai arc onwards. From then on, you can literally see parts in the storyline that was probably in the original, and then parts where they probably had to quickly chop and change. 

 

Anyways, lots of weird things has happened with this series. And lots of speculations. All very strange. 

 

Maybe it becomes some sort of weird cult classic and when the tides have turned around the censorship laws, the director's cut finally gets released but.....*sigh*

 

WOW. Oh, wow. Thanks so much for this post. I couldn't wait for Netflix so I watched the raws up to around middle series (eps 40 or something). Had no idea this drama had to go through such barriers (screw Chinese censorship ! I was like wtf ?).... Never know if we're gonna get the director's cut, so I guess we have to make do with what they gave us. Later story arcs do seem a bit weaker compared to the beginning, but I still enjoy the series so far. Kudos go to the cast - they did a superb job of bringing the characters to life and holding the story together. It made the unpredictable turns in the plot more convincing.

Also,

Spoiler

it appears to me the drama has a bad ending. Uh.... Is bad ending a fetish of the main actor or what? I do recall he starred in several dramas before, and they mostly had bad endings.....

 

 

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The drama was slated to be 50 episodes (in the initial filming request thing), extended to 70 episodes. They filmed enough content to fill 100 episodes and cut to 70 which is fine, and if latter cuts were essential to pass SARFT, I really think they should did more cuts in the earlier arcs to make the the pacing more even throughout the show.

 

They had marketing, there were a lot of press reports before they passed SARFT and changed the name. (Its official weibo disappeared for almost half a year with no news, name change wasn't officially announced by them either but by other press) After that happened, they were suddenly slated to air and Chinese netizens have been criticising that they didn't really know how to fully utilise weibo to promote. It's true they didn't buy any trending topics and whatnot, but they also weren't too good encouraging discussions. The notice they put up regarding not buying ratings actually drew in fair amount of hate and mocking (something along the lines they only did  it because they were tanking in ratings).

 

As for broadcasting as web drama, I get why people think that, but the production team does want to make back the massive amount of money they invested in, and only by being on TV are they eligible for various awards and more recognition you know. SARFT have held a tight reign over historical dramas for like 10 years, especially the ones that go on prime time slot, there's a lot of restrictions around it, and it's gotten worse in last few years. THAT's why Ruyi was delayed over and over and eventually still couldn't be broadcasted on TV, think about it, that drama is largely focused on harem, and it still couldn't get pass the restrictions. I'm wondering how Advisor Alliance and Qin Empire got pass SARFT tbh.

 

For people who can understand Mandarin, definitely highly recommend the making of documentaries, it has spoilers though, so bewarn.

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@MikiRei  A lot of the cut parts were scenes with Bai Jingting and Wang Ou in them, which would be starting from the Minhai arc. Both of them filmed for six months and that was not six months worth of material. From what I've read, they had to resubmit a few times for censorship and only barely managed to make it on air. Also...people are saying they can't release a different version to netflix because that would be seen as an affront to the censorship committee and that would completely kill the production company in China. I hope that's not true because I need to see the full version.

 

I watched the DVD version and I am not as angry with the ending as most people are. I know everyone is unhappy with Feng Zhiwei's choice, but when you are in that mind frame, you really do feel as if everyone else is better without you and they probably didn't have SSRIs in ancient China. You can see hints of it when she is talking to Hua Qiong about how everything was her fault and what a horrible person she was. I would really prefer another ending though. This has impacted my mood these few days.

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1 hour ago, tendrilsofwind said:

Also...people are saying they can't release a different version to netflix because that would be seen as an affront to the censorship committee and that would completely kill the production company in China. I hope that's not true because I need to see the full version.

I can totally believe that, which is a damn shame. I saw another weibo post made by the actor who did the 10th prince. He also mentioned that it wasn't the version they wanted to air.

 

I'm hyper curious now what they had to change to get past regulations. Hopefully, something "leaks". Otherwise, I guess it's wait for a director's cut or wait for regulations to get better few years down the track for a re-release. (Doubt it). *sigh*

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1 hour ago, skibbies said:

I really think they should did more cuts in the earlier arcs to make the the pacing more even throughout the show.

 

Agreed. It almost felt like, "Oh crap. We only have 30 episodes left and we still have THIS much stuff to get through?" Feels like some sort of planning failure somewhere. Or maybe they just got asked to change stuff one too many times along the way.

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33 minutes ago, MikiRei said:

 

Agreed. It almost felt like, "Oh crap. We only have 30 episodes left and we still have THIS much stuff to get through?" Feels like some sort of planning failure somewhere. Or maybe they just got asked to change stuff one too many times along the way.

I suspect they wanted to show as much of what they originally intended as possible, which I understand. But when you know that you can't broadcast the version you want to, they should have cut their losses and re-edited earlier arcs. Now the beginning feels too slow, the second half feels too fast and the central themes and plot doesn't pop out as much as it should.

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19 minutes ago, skibbies said:

I suspect they wanted to show as much of what they originally intended as possible, which I understand. But when you know that you can't broadcast the version you want to, they should have cut their losses and re-edited earlier arcs. Now the beginning feels too slow, the second half feels too fast and the central themes and plot doesn't pop out as much as it should.

Exactly!!!!

 

Besides, I swear I read somewhere that the production crew, the director, the actors wanted us to see their hard work in producing TROP and I was eagerly waiting for the drama to start and was rooting for it.

 

But all I see from episode 30 onwards are nothing but confusion and butchered scenes / missing plots.

 

I'm very disappointed.

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, mrsj3n said:

 

Exactly!!!!

 

Besides, I swear I read somewhere that the production crew, the director, the actors wanted us to see their hard work in producing TROP and I was eagerly waiting for the drama to start and was rooting for it.

 

But all I see from episode 30 onwards are nothing but confusion and butchered scenes / missing plots.

 

I'm very disappointed.

 

 

 

 

Idk maybe I'm crazy, but I didn't think it was a trainwreck...I watched the 70 episode version and outside of a few episodes where I could tell scenes were missing, everything else was fine. The TV version was completely outside of their control since after Hunan TV saw the low ratings, they were the ones who made the decision to leave out massive scenes. 

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3 hours ago, skibbies said:

I'm wondering how Advisor Alliance and Qin Empire got pass SARFT tbh.

 

I think Qin Empire was a CCTV production, so it probably got approved easier than most ?

Advisor Alliance 1 was a nice surprise, I got hooked back to C-drama through this one. I heard it took quite a few years to film, so maybe parts of the script was approved when SARFT didn't exert as much control as it does now. That said, the 2nd part was still broadcast as a webdrama - and I highly doubt it was due to ratings, since the 1st one did pretty OK in both ratings and online views - so I guess it didnt' manage to get through SARFT completely.

All this censorship restrictions and now I have second thought about getting into C-drama again. Like TRoP - there were clear signs that some parts were tempered with (changed dialogues, weird editings, etc). Goodness they just don't want us to have anything nice do they?

 

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33 minutes ago, yunmo19 said:

I think Qin Empire was a CCTV production, so it probably got approved easier than most ?

Advisor Alliance 1 was a nice surprise, I got hooked back to C-drama through this one. I heard it took quite a few years to film, so maybe parts of the script was approved when SARFT didn't exert as much control as it does now. That said, the 2nd part was still broadcast as a webdrama - and I highly doubt it was due to ratings, since the 1st one did pretty OK in both ratings and online views - so I guess it didnt' manage to get through SARFT completely.

All this censorship restrictions and now I have second thought about getting into C-drama again. Like TRoP - there were clear signs that some parts were tempered with (changed dialogues, weird editings, etc). Goodness they just don't want us to have anything nice do they?

 

If anything, CCTV have stricter restrictions, though it's likely they worked on the script more and might know what would pass and what wouldn't. There's stuff about messing image of historical figures and such, but I guess both dramas managed layered but positive image of those characters. tRoP doesn't have a base, which make it harder, maybe? (e.g. Zhen Huan's book had fake history, but is set against Qing dynasty in drama. NiF's drama borrowed elements of Southern Liang but is mostly fake, its themes were righteousness which is little different).

I normally wait for dramas to finish airing and peek at douban ratings tbh, not due to SARFT either. Largely because there's a lot of script richard simmons up and characterisations that might richard simmons me off, as well as acting and production issues. I have enough dramas in backlog tbh. I watched this because I desperately needed a layered and smart female lead in historical drama, and it mostly delivered that, even if I have minor gripes about her characterisation.

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1 hour ago, tendrilsofwind said:

 

Idk maybe I'm crazy, but I didn't think it was a trainwreck...I watched the 70 episode version and outside of a few episodes where I could tell scenes were missing, everything else was fine. The TV version was completely outside of their control since after Hunan TV saw the low ratings, they were the ones who made the decision to leave out massive scenes. 

Believe me, I've watched both version to see what I miss from each version and the 70 episode one isn't that good as well.

Certain scenes are just jumped and I don't think I'm convinced at all.

 

I have yet to watch the last 2 episodes of the 70 episode version and I don't think I want to try anymore at this moment.

 

The 360 degree character change of Ning Yi is what got me pissed.

The way he treated Feng Zi Wei......

I can't accept.

 

And not to mention Feng Zi Wei... I just can't.

 

And then Helian Zheng. OMG. What the orange????

 

Ning Qi, Yan Ling, Zhangsun Hong (to think that he is the descendants of Fuyao and Zhangsun Wuji)... somebody kill me already.

 

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4 hours ago, mrsj3n said:

The 360 degree character change of Ning Yi is what got me pissed.

The way he treated Feng Zi Wei......

I can't accept.

 

And not to mention Feng Zi Wei... I just can't.

 

And then Helian Zheng. OMG. What the orange????

 

Ning Qi, Yan Ling, Zhangsun Hong (to think that he is the descendants of Fuyao and Zhangsun Wuji)... somebody kill me already.

 

 

Sorry, but I have to disagree with you on that. I felt like the characters were true to their characterizations.

Ning Yi has always been kind of jerk. Chen Kun is just so charismatic and handsome that people forgive his characters for their actions. He barely ever consults with FZW on important matters and has a selfish streak as well. As soon as he became emperor I knew their relationship was doomed. There is no way someone like FZW would be willing to subjugate herself to him when her life had been ruined by people making decisions for her. 

Helian Zheng was dumb from the get go. I think they should have eliminated him altogether, but given that he exists I don't think his actions are unexpected. 

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5 hours ago, skibbies said:

If anything, CCTV have stricter restrictions, though it's likely they worked on the script more and might know what would pass and what wouldn't. There's stuff about messing image of historical figures and such, but I guess both dramas managed layered but positive image of those characters. tRoP doesn't have a base, which make it harder, maybe? (e.g. Zhen Huan's book had fake history, but is set against Qing dynasty in drama. NiF's drama borrowed elements of Southern Liang but is mostly fake, its themes were righteousness which is little different).

I normally wait for dramas to finish airing and peek at douban ratings tbh, not due to SARFT either. Largely because there's a lot of script richard simmons up and characterisations that might richard simmons me off, as well as acting and production issues. I have enough dramas in backlog tbh. I watched this because I desperately needed a layered and smart female lead in historical drama, and it mostly delivered that, even if I have minor gripes about her characterisation.

 

Lol this is going to be such an unpopular opinion, but I think tRoP is better than NiF even with all the screw ups. NiF was beautiful and satisfying to watch, but this was more complex in story line and characterization. I love NiF and I love Hu ge, Wang Kai, and Liu Tao. I had never even seen a single show with Chen Kun or Ni Ni prior to this one. I know nobody is going to agree with me, but I am willing to die on this hill.

 

Do you have any other drama recommendations? I need something to cheer me up after this ordeal, but all the good Chinese dramas are horrifically depressing. 

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2 hours ago, tendrilsofwind said:

Ning Yi has always been kind of jerk. Chen Kun is just so charismatic and handsome that people forgive his characters for their actions. He barely ever consults with FZW on important matters and has a selfish streak as well. As soon as he became emperor I knew their relationship was doomed. There is no way someone like FZW would be willing to subjugate herself to him when her life had been ruined by people making decisions for her. 

Helian Zheng was dumb from the get go. I think they should have eliminated him altogether, but given that he exists I don't think his actions are unexpected. 

Lol! 

I agree with you.

 

What I meant is Ning Yi was supposed to love FZW and throughout the story, he never consulted her but at least I don't see him too forceful. (I guess the bed scene did me in as he was rough with her) P.S: it's PG13 friendly scene... hope I did not get anyone excited. LOL 

 

I'm also upset with FZW for taking the other route for someone as strong as her and just giving up like that.

As for Helian Zhen, yes. He is rash, impulsive.  But for a king who has to see the needs of his people to be so dumb to even die? I'm surprised!!

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13 hours ago, yunmo19 said:


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it appears to me the drama has a bad ending. Uh.... Is bad ending a fetish of the main actor or what? I do recall he starred in several dramas before, and they mostly had bad endings.....

 

Omg, funny you said that. I've never heard of chen kun or ni ni before this drama. But I was reading about kun's past work and there was one where he fell in love with a concubine and rejected the love of a young lady from the noble family. he marries the concubine only to cheat on her with the same young lady from the noble family. things happen during the war and he thought his wife and son died but they actually were still alive. he blames himself so he didn't end up with the lady from the noble family either i think. the last scene was him meeting his wide and son on the streets while the wife and son was heading to a different country but they didn't even realised they pass each other :scream::scream::scream: . A big WTF moment. and apparently it was one of his popular works 

 

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1 hour ago, mrsj3n said:

What I meant is Ning Yi was supposed to love FZW and throughout the story, he never consulted her but at least I don't see him too forceful. (I guess the bed scene did me in as he was rough with her) P.S: it's PG13 friendly scene... hope I did not get anyone excited. LOL 

 

 

When I saw the promo pictures for that scene I was so hyped up. I thought we were going to see some action, especially since the sexual tension was sooo high in the first half, but I don't even know if they just sat up all night talking. The way he commanded her felt a little rapey to me so I would like to believe he did not force her and they instead made plans for bettering the lives of the poor and oppressed :) 

 

From what I've heard he always plays jerks 

Someone mentioned Story of a Noble Family. My cousins all watched that and said he is 100% a jerk in that show, but everyone loves him. I think one of the plot points was that his wife had intimacy issues and everyone was saying they would not have that issue if Chen Kun was their husband :lol:

Attractive people really do get away with more. 

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3 hours ago, tendrilsofwind said:

 

Lol this is going to be such an unpopular opinion, but I think tRoP is better than NiF even with all the screw ups. NiF was beautiful and satisfying to watch, but this was more complex in story line and characterization. I love NiF and I love Hu ge, Wang Kai, and Liu Tao. I had never even seen a single show with Chen Kun or Ni Ni prior to this one. I know nobody is going to agree with me, but I am willing to die on this hill.

 

Do you have any other drama recommendations? I need something to cheer me up after this ordeal, but all the good Chinese dramas are horrifically depressing. 

I don't really agree with you because I take a well done piece of work over a deeply flawed one. NiF have scripting flaws, but its themes and ability to affect audience via well timed music and cinematography made everything pale against it, which is why I deeply wish if only tRoP manage to prop up its theme just as well, maybe its faults wouldn't be so jarring. I do get what you mean and I do like the more complex characterisation of tRoP + bit more complicated schemes as well as major female characters that have a place in these plots (rather than supporting on the sideline)

 

yknow, I don't really think cdrama is particularly great at doing cheery fluff, when they do manage it, it's extended and some other richard simmons comes into play. (I am NOT watching a fluffy drama with no other substance for 40 episodes, there's some short fluffy teen web dramas I think? but I've never seen them so) The closest thing I can think of is Love O2O, which have too perfect OTP but a couple with no misunderstanding, cute interactions and has MMO as background was good enough for me. My other rec is My Huckleberry Friends, which is a fairly realistic ensemble high school drama that's so nostalgic and endearing, what little romance there is is very light, it's not as serious but not exactly fluff either. The novel is one girl's coming of age story, and made me appreciate the drama even more, since it's so rare to have an adaptation that captured its soul so well. I also loved Surgeons a hell lot for its female characterisation, romance is more restrained, some patients are little infuriating but I really liked all the major characters. My remaining recs are serious stuff or suspense/thriller which idk if it's up your alley, Duan Nao/Die Now might fit too? A college guy gets dragged into playing mysterious games while looking for his missing girlfriend, most similar to jdrama/manga Liar Game.

P.S.: wait wait. I think The Love Knot is rom/com that's pretty good. I just read all the web novels that most dramas butchered and look for fluff that way, less time investment and far easier for me to skim or drop. All the OP protags you've ever wanted, screw the regular girl who's kind and sweet that's still so prevalent in cdrama romance.

 

Oh and the Chen Kun drama that's mentioned, I think that's the drama that made him well known so yeah it's one of his more popular work. He played a playboy jerk who wanted what he couldn't have so I think his ending was fitting tbh, and they made sense for that time period. Republican era cdramas rarely ends well because they all end in war, kind of hard to do a realistic happy ending that way. Liu Yi Fei/Crystal Liu played the nobel lady, she was like 13/14 or something.

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2 hours ago, tendrilsofwind said:

 

Sorry, but I have to disagree with you on that. I felt like the characters were true to their characterizations.

Ning Yi has always been kind of jerk. Chen Kun is just so charismatic and handsome that people forgive his characters for their actions. He barely ever consults with FZW on important matters and has a selfish streak as well. As soon as he became emperor I knew their relationship was doomed. There is no way someone like FZW would be willing to subjugate herself to him when her life had been ruined by people making decisions for her. 

Helian Zheng was dumb from the get go. I think they should have eliminated him altogether, but given that he exists I don't think his actions are unexpected. 

 

Spoiler

i think you're kind of right. The other thing is, Ning Yi never really listen to anyone on anything related to FZW. He convinces people left and right (especially XIn Zi Yan) to do things his way....and he makes sense so no one can argue with him. A lot of the things Zi Yan and Ning Yi don't agree with each other is because Ning Yi's plans always put ZhiWei's safety first and his own safety at risk. I mean, he even threatened the King with a whole army to save her. He never consults with FZW with any issue because he doesn't want her to risk her life for his. Sometimes, it seems like he just wants to preserve her in her state of happiness with no woes. He might have trust issues. Or his too overprotective. Or perhaps he thinks that if he can't even save his own girl, how can he help his country. 

 

I feel like the way they characterised Ning yi at the beginning of the film was someone with a lot more emotions, empathy and care for his family then the other members of the royal family. He came with an aim for revenge, to fix what's wrong and it seems like ending it with him leaving the political fights (like in the book) would have been a better ending. His patriotic, with a wish to combine the 3 kingdoms, but he never wanted to be king (as he have mentioned many times). He doesn't care about his image if it means he can drag down the greedy politicians and a whole ruling state off their high chairs. With so much blood of the enemies on his hands, it would have been a better fit to let 10th prince be king (where ningyi acts as an agent to clear the way and stabilise the kingdom for the 10th prince) and act as an advisor. I'm bummed that they made his character to someone who is willing to sit on the throne for the rest of his years. His someone who doesn't listen to his father anyways. the best ending is to once again not listen to his father, pass the throne to the 10th prince and abort the heck out of there. 

 

I might have missed this, but i've always wondered why does the emperor never thought of giving the throne to NingYi? He only gave it to him when he realised a storm is brewing up in the kingdom and he needs NingYi to shelter the kingdom from it. Every single time, he relies on Ningyi, and yet it doesn't occur to him to pass the throne onto ningyi unless its his last resort. 

 

Looking back at the last episode really makes me mad :heartbreak::heartbreak::expressionless::expressionless:. FZW really looks broken when she have just had sex with ningyi but he still wouldn't let go of the people in ManHai until his shown her the truth of the events. She just look so broken. She didn't look like she have just had sex with the man she loves, but like as if she have just lost her virginity. I feel like she decided to end her life because of all the wishes and dreams of the people from the old kingdom tied to her. She feels like she doesn't deserve happiness with the enemy when so many lives were forfeited so that she could lead the rebel. The few times NingYi trusts her to wait for 3 days and she ends her life :expressionless:. A fake death would have been a better ending so that the rebels would think their princess is gone so they would lose hope of rebelling against the kindgom, and so that the phoenix can finally be free and rise from its ashes  :cry:

 

And why the heck did Ningyi, as smart as he is, would think FZW will just listen and be his queen? He knows there's still a bunch of rebels still lingering out there, her position as the princess from the previous empire and the deaths that were sacrificed for her. His always so calculating and understands her every train of thought. Why is it in this last moment, he does not realise that she can't be queen and the only way they can be together is abort mission together? I mean, his done enough for his kingdom that the 10th prince can seat comfortably as emperor. He also abort mission for his mum, i'm sure FZW means as much to him as his mum. The alternative ending would have stayed more true to their strong characters as they were never people who would just let fate decide how they should live :bawling:

 

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