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

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7 minutes ago, Pollen Ainne said:

If Ning Yi's love for Zhiwei was anything remotely close to his father's, he would never have given her up Zhiwei to Helian Zheng, even if it cost her her life. But no, he went against orders to kill Helian Zheng even when the reward was his Nanny that was his only connection to his mom. He made sure to secure Zhiwei's safety first. Like... I can't believe... ugh... 

 You said it sis !!

 

8 minutes ago, Pollen Ainne said:

Like, I see Romeo-and-Juliet-like movies wherein instead of feeling their desperation, I just want to slap them back to reality. But at that time when Zhiwei's heritage was revealed, they made the tragedy feel so real. If the series ended with their parting at that time and never meeting each other ever again, I would have said it was a beautiful tragedy.

 

Oh man that moment in the show. It hurt so bad it was good. It really was the perfect moment to end the story as a tragedy because right before that we had their sort of climax in minhai and then it burst.

 

14 minutes ago, Pollen Ainne said:

I wasn't either until now. I think his acting skills are also much better. And to be honest, I never found him attractive at first. He was sort of like "meh" to me. I was just intrigued with his acting. But he grew on me. For some reason, he suddenly became so smexy... I think it's the character... and it rubbed off to him because he is such a good actor.

 

Its amazing isn't it? how he made us visually perceive him as much better looking on the virtue of his acting alone. Because my eyes are still working the same but I see him so very differently after the show. Except those facial hair scenes. But I think its cuz he was **** in those and it also hides his beautiful expressions.

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7 minutes ago, sonosong said:

But that scene at the beginning where she was undressing, there were definitely sparks because I sure felt it. Was it just me? Maybe it was just me? LOL. I think there was some initial attraction between them because they were both so different from other people they've met, and that later developed into a strong and loyal friendship until love finally blossomed.  That scene where gently pulls her toward him to confess his feelings, and she roughly tugs him closer to say hers and his surprised look sums them up so well. Omg, these two are SO precious! :heart:

No definitely the sparks were there. Ning Yi's expression was precious. And yes, the confession was perfect. I like how he had trouble saying it, and Zhiwei thought he would not be able to say it and called him perverse but he pulled on her sleeve and confessed. I still melt everytime I get to that part.

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11 minutes ago, niniandkun said:

Its amazing isn't it? how he made us visually perceive him as much better looking on the virtue of his acting alone. Because my eyes are still working the same but I see him so very differently after the show. Except those facial hair scenes. But I think its cuz he was **** in those and it also hides his beautiful expressions.

I know. It's amazing. My best friend, I urged her to watch RoTP, she usually just watched Kdramas. I showed her the trailer and she was furrowing her brows, "but he is not pretty". And I am like "Just watch the show". Now we swoon about him together! lol!

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5 minutes ago, sonosong said:

But that scene at the beginning where she was undressing, there were definitely sparks because I sure felt it. Was it just me? Maybe it was just me? LOL. I think there was some initial attraction between them because they were both so different from other people they've met, and that later developed into a strong and loyal friendship until love finally blossomed.  That scene where gently pulls her toward him to confess his feelings, and she roughly tugs him closer to say hers and his surprised look sums them up so well. Omg, these two are SO precious! :heart:

 

Oh it wasn't just you! That was a sizzling scene. While there was attraction between them it wasn't the end all. They both had self respect. For many other types of characters that wouldve been enough for the male lead to then chase her forever and the female lead to wait for him to propose. It would've been a huge song and dance. But our OTP valued and expected more than just simple lust to consider the other person as a love interest. So they went on with their lives until they couldn't ignore their connection any longer.

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7 minutes ago, Pollen Ainne said:

I know. It's amazing. My best friend, I urged her to watch RoTP, she usually just watched Kdramas. I showed her the trailer and she was furrowing her brows, "but he is not pretty". And I am like "Just watch the show". Now we swoon about him together! lol!

 

Oh I wish my best friend would watch it! But shes been putting it off cuz subs -.-  And she cant understand how Im attracted to a guy in a bun or in long hair. I need to get new friends lol.

I actually have a thing for guys with long hair but this length took a while to grow on me but now that it has....damn. I can't get enough of that look. And those gorgeous clothes. What a stunner. I just wish his belt wasn't so low in some scenes. Kindof looks like hes got a pot belly :lol:

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15 minutes ago, niniandkun said:

 

Oh it wasn't just you! That was a sizzling scene. While there was attraction between them it wasn't the end all. They both had self respect. For many other types of characters that wouldve been enough for the male lead to then chase her forever and the female lead to wait for him to propose. It would've been a huge song and dance. But our OTP valued and expected more than just simple lust to consider the other person as a love interest. So they went on with their lives until they couldn't ignore their connection any longer.

I love how you phrased that. Agreed 100%!!!

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7 minutes ago, niniandkun said:

 

Oh I wish my best friend would watch it! But shes been putting it off cuz subs -.-  And she cant understand how Im attracted to a guy in a bun or in long hair. I need to get new friends lol.

I actually have a thing for guys with long hair but this length took a while to grow on me but now that it has....damn. I can't get enough of that look. And those gorgeous clothes. What a stunner. I just wish his belt wasn't so low in some scenes. Kindof looks like hes got a pot belly :lol:

Oh I have gotten used to the clothes really fast. And long hair on men is glorious when they can pull it off. On others it can look really gay! But did you guys notice how he raises his clothes like a princess? But for some reason it just adds to Ning Yi's character, I still find him so manly... why? lol!

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Just now, Pollen Ainne said:

Oh I have gotten used to the clothes really fast. And long hair on men is glorious when they can pull it off. On others it can look really gay! But did you guys notice how he raises his clothes like a princess? But for some reason it just adds to Ning Yi's character, I still find him so manly... why? lol!

 

Ahahaha yea. He had so many quirks. Flapping up the back side theatrically before sitting down. Sometimes he's delicate and other times his presence is so commanding. He even lounges with panache. Thats some real fleshed out acting.  I actually found him even more attractive in some of his 'feminine' moments. He's a real work of art!!

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2 hours ago, niniandkun said:

 

Ahahaha yea. He had so many quirks. Flapping up the back side theatrically before sitting down. Sometimes he's delicate and other times his presence is so commanding. He even lounges with panache. Thats some real fleshed out acting.  I actually found him even more attractive in some of his 'feminine' moments. He's a real work of art!!

A work of art indeed. There is so many facets to his character. I remember when he came back with Zhongxin's head to bargain for Zhiwei's life. You would not think that he is the same character who nervously confessed to Zhiwei just a few episodes back. A character like Ning Yi would have been very hard to pull off by just anyone. He deserves an award for this. Too bad the ratings will probably make him not get much recognition for this role. I haven't seen a character more entertaining before. If anyone has any idea of any series with a similar interesting character, I would love to explore it.

 

In another thought, I remember Yao Ying's daughter. Her role was quite short but she was an awesome lady. Since Yao Ying was in Ning Yi's banner, I wonder if she did what she did for political reasons, or if she just didn't like to be married to Ning Sheng. I would have loved to know more about her. She was an interesting character as well.

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I thought Chen Kun was handsome from the start, but there are so many handsome men. The passion and sultriness he brings to his character just enhances everything. Also, his bone structure is to die for. I have this thing for cheekbones, and the way the lighting was done, with his face half in shadow and back lit, I was swooning every episode.

 

2 hours ago, Pollen Ainne said:

A work of art indeed. There is so many facets to his character. I remember when he came back with Zhongxin's head to bargain for Zhiwei's life. You would not think that he is the same character who nervously confessed to Zhiwei just a few episodes back. A character like Ning Yi would have been very hard to pull off by just anyone. He deserves an award for this. Too bad the ratings will probably make him not get much recognition for this role. I haven't seen a character more entertaining before. If anyone has any idea of any series with a similar interesting character, I would love to explore it.

 

I was so sad about the ratings. The highest rated comment on douban for the longest time was about how Chen Kun's acting sucked and Ni Ni was ugly. I honestly made a douban account a few weeks ago just to give this a good review and I never review anything. Also whenever Chen Kun makes a post about how the reviews for the shows are getting better, the score drops loool After tRoP aired, people made a whole list about how Chen Kun causes every show he's in to flop.

 

You can check out Ming Dynasty 1566 for some complex characterizations and brilliant social commentary. You know it's brilliant because it was censored for years. That show is even more depressing than this one, but for different reasons. Nirvana in Fire is also very good, but the characters are more straightforward and it's more satisfying to watch. It ends in tragedy, but they tried to mitigate the tragic aspect. NiF is also more accessible to viewers who don't speak Chinese. I prefer tRoP to NiF, but literally everyone disagrees with me, so you might actually end up liking NiF more. 

 

2 hours ago, Pollen Ainne said:

In another thought, I remember Yao Ying's daughter. Her role was quite short but she was an awesome lady. Since Yao Ying was in Ning Yi's banner, I wonder if she did what she did for political reasons, or if she just didn't like to be married to Ning Sheng. I would have loved to know more about her. She was an interesting character as well.

 

The general consensus seemed to be that she's set up to be Ning Yi's empress. I try to pretend that won't happen, but drawing from history, that is the most likely outcome. 

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1 hour ago, tendrilsofwind said:

I was so sad about the ratings. The highest rated comment on douban for the longest time was about how Chen Kun's acting sucked and Ni Ni was ugly. I honestly made a douban account a few weeks ago just to give this a good review and I never review anything. Also whenever Chen Kun makes a post about how the reviews for the shows are getting better, the score drops loool After tRoP aired, people made a whole list about how Chen Kun causes every show he's in to flop.

You are kidding? I heard about the bad ratings and some personal attacks about NiNi. But Chen Kun too? But... that makes no sense? Are these people paid to hate or something? Why so much hate?

 

And NINi is so beautiful. I remember that scene where she had those walnuts (?) in her mouth and Ning Yi asked her why she was not hideous anymore. She was smiling with those things in her mouth and I thought, how gorgeous. 

 

And how does Chen Kun cause a show to flop when I read his bio and he has made blockbusters like Painted Skin and garnered awards for it? That is just terrible. How can they not appreciate such talent... I would understand if they do not like the film, but why the personal attacks... has it always been like this? Is there a particular reason?

1 hour ago, tendrilsofwind said:

You can check out Ming Dynasty 1566 for some complex characterizations and brilliant social commentary. You know it's brilliant because it was censored for years. That show is even more depressing than this one, but for different reasons. Nirvana in Fire is also very good, but the characters are more straightforward and it's more satisfying to watch. It ends in tragedy, but they tried to mitigate the tragic aspect. NiF is also more accessible to viewers who don't speak Chinese. I prefer tRoP to NiF, but literally everyone disagrees with me, so you might actually end up liking NiF more. 

I have seen a few eps of NiF, and it is not bad... but none of the characters drew me in, and I am not really into political drama. I can only enjoy it when I am completely invested in a character at least. A lot of people have heaped praises for NiF so I have tried watching it. Did people hate on NiF too, or was tRoP just an exception... are they picking on my Chen Kun? :(

 

Ming Dynasty 1566 would have been interesting with what you said about it, but why depressing... I like to enjoy and not be depressed.

 

1 hour ago, tendrilsofwind said:

The general consensus seemed to be that she's set up to be Ning Yi's empress. I try to pretend that won't happen, but drawing from history, that is the most likely outcome. 

Oh actually that makes sense. I liked her and since Zhiwei is gone, I would like her to be his Empress. She would be brilliant and supportive and seems logical and cool enough to accept that she will never be able to compete with Zhiwei's ghost without hating Ning Yi for it. At least there is more hope for NIng Yi.

 

I was actually kinda worried about his future heirs... because not once have I seen him express interest for women... even in Lanxiang , he was just making them clothes, and he can't really marry women in Lanxiang anyway. And outside of Lanxiang, he was so aloof to the ladies... before he knew it was Zhiwei that banged into him, he actually called her "impudent" for being in his way. I think he is the type who thinks marriage is an annoyance... but the Yao girl can do it.

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2 hours ago, tendrilsofwind said:

I thought Chen Kun was handsome from the start, but there are so many handsome men. The passion and sultriness he brings to his character just enhances everything. Also, his bone structure is to die for. I have this thing for cheekbones, and the way the lighting was done, with his face half in shadow and back lit, I was swooning every episode.

 

 

I was so sad about the ratings. The highest rated comment on douban for the longest time was about how Chen Kun's acting sucked and Ni Ni was ugly. I honestly made a douban account a few weeks ago just to give this a good review and I never review anything. Also whenever Chen Kun makes a post about how the reviews for the shows are getting better, the score drops loool After tRoP aired, people made a whole list about how Chen Kun causes every show he's in to flop.

 

You can check out Ming Dynasty 1566 for some complex characterizations and brilliant social commentary. You know it's brilliant because it was censored for years. That show is even more depressing than this one, but for different reasons. Nirvana in Fire is also very good, but the characters are more straightforward and it's more satisfying to watch. It ends in tragedy, but they tried to mitigate the tragic aspect. NiF is also more accessible to viewers who don't speak Chinese. I prefer tRoP to NiF, but literally everyone disagrees with me, so you might actually end up liking NiF more.

At first Chen Kun wasn't exactly on my radar, but I watched anyway because he wasn't exactly not good looking. In fact, I'm just somehow drawn to strong bone structure like his and of course his mesmerizing smirk too. But, what really pulls me in is him with his long hair down. Lol. I kid you not, I mostly watch period drama and most guys cannot pull off the plain hair down look. But, Chen Kun looks amazing. It's like feminine, but very many. I can't explain, it's just pretty to look at. Lol. And with a little movement he's able to push his long hair out of his face. That's talent!

 

It's so sad to hear how under appreciate this series is. And, the attacks on Chen and Nini. I know haters just going to hate, but sometimes it's like people don't recognize the talents of the people they have. They both did amazing, and I don't think anyone else could have done any better. Chen Kun's and Nini's dynamics is the reason I stick around until the end. Considered I'm picky when it comes to political show and can drop it at the drop of a hat if anything just doesn't sit right with me. The casts of RotP are brilliant.

 

As for NiF, I watched the first season and remember it was enjoyable, but gosh I couldn't get past the first episode of season 2. Maybe, one day, I'll try it again. One day.

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16 minutes ago, aisama said:

At first Chen Kun wasn't exactly on my radar, but I watched anyway because he wasn't exactly not good looking. In fact, I'm just somehow drawn to strong bone structure like his and of course his mesmerizing smirk too. But, what really pulls me in is him with his long hair down. Lol. I kid you not, I mostly watch period drama and most guys cannot pull off the plain hair down look. But, Chen Kun looks amazing. It's like feminine, but very many. I can't explain, it's just pretty to look at. Lol. And with a little movement he's able to push his long hair out of his face. That's talent!

 

It's so sad to hear how under appreciate this series is. And, the attacks on Chen and Nini. I know haters just going to hate, but sometimes it's like people don't recognize the talents of the people they have. They both did amazing, and I don't think anyone else could have done any better. Chen Kun's and Nini's dynamics is the reason I stick around until the end. Considered I'm picky when it comes to political show and can drop it at the drop of a hat if anything just doesn't sit right with me. The casts of RotP are brilliant.

 

As for NiF, I watched the first season and remember it was enjoyable, but gosh I couldn't get past the first episode of season 2. Maybe, one day, I'll try it again. One day.

Well yes, although I wasn't attracted to his looks at first, he was never ugly to me or else I wouldn't even have tried episode one. I don't like to watch ugly leads as well (sorry if that offends anyone). But I don't go around in forums/chat boards posting on how ugly I find them because that is just plain mean. But I simply won't even give the show a chance much less talk about it.

 

And yes, Ning Yi has a way of looking manly with the long hair. I am not really into feminine men. But I guess I fell for Ning Yi's feminine quirks because I know there is a dangerous commanding power inside of him. And I love his ruthlessness coupled with his kindness. His power tempered by vulnerability. Okay, enough of me heaping praises on him... next thing I know, I will be worshiping on an altar of Ning Yi. lol

 

I might try NiF again.

 

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8 hours ago, sonosong said:

But that scene at the beginning where she was undressing, there were definitely sparks because I sure felt it. Was it just me? Maybe it was just me? LOL. I think there was some initial attraction between them because they were both so different from other people they've met, and that later developed into a strong and loyal friendship until love finally blossomed.  That scene where gently pulls her toward him to confess his feelings, and she roughly tugs him closer to say hers and his surprised look sums them up so well. Omg, these two are SO precious! :heart:

NY had no hope there. He was stuck in a temple for 8 years or so and the first girl he meets jumps into the lake and needs a wardrobe change. :p

 

1 hour ago, aisama said:

At first Chen Kun wasn't exactly on my radar, but I watched anyway because he wasn't exactly not good looking. In fact, I'm just somehow drawn to strong bone structure like his and of course his mesmerizing smirk too. But, what really pulls me in is him with his long hair down. Lol. I kid you not, I mostly watch period drama and most guys cannot pull off the plain hair down look. But, Chen Kun looks amazing. It's like feminine, but very many. I can't explain, it's just pretty to look at. Lol. And with a little movement he's able to push his long hair out of his face. That's talent!

 

It's so sad to hear how under appreciate this series is. And, the attacks on Chen and Nini. I know haters just going to hate, but sometimes it's like people don't recognize the talents of the people they have. They both did amazing, and I don't think anyone else could have done any better. Chen Kun's and Nini's dynamics is the reason I stick around until the end. Considered I'm picky when it comes to political show and can drop it at the drop of a hat if anything just doesn't sit right with me. The casts of RotP are brilliant.

Love political drama. Love Asian period dramas where the girl dresses up as a boy and gets stuff done. Extra bonus for an awesome romantic arc. I was wanting to watch something similar to follow on after Love in the Moonlight/Moonlight Hidden By Clouds...but my goodness, this series beats LitM on my list of things that makes good Asian period dramas.

 

Everyone's points on Chen Kun are spot on. Would not have said I was attracted to a 40-something-year-old Chinese actor with long hair and dressed in something very much like my mother's ao dai before I started watching this show but he brings such arrogance, intelligence and masculinity to everything he does.

 

Has anyone been looking into his discography (as Aloys Chen)? 2004-2006 period. Looks so young, kind of offputting.

 

p0002201493.jpg

 

Tehehehehe!

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11 minutes ago, morganian said:

NY had no hope there. He was stuck in a temple for 8 years or so and the first girl he meets jumps into the lake and needs a wardrobe change. :p

 

Love political drama. Love Asian period dramas where the girl dresses up as a boy and gets stuff done. Extra bonus for an awesome romantic arc. I was wanting to watch something similar to follow on after Love in the Moonlight/Moonlight Hidden By Clouds...but my goodness, this series beats LitM on my list of things that makes good Asian period dramas.

 

Everyone's points on Chen Kun are spot on. Would not have said I was attracted to a 40-something-year-old Chinese actor with long hair and dressed in something very much like my mother's ao dai before I started watching this show but he brings such arrogance, intelligence and masculinity to everything he does.

 

Has anyone been looking into his discography (as Aloys Chen)? 2004-2006 period. Looks so young, kind of offputting.

 

p0002201493.jpg

 

Tehehehehe!

Oh he is actually cute in that picture. I like his gaze. He has that young boyish charm that can make your heart flip. But without seeing RotP I wouldn't have given it a 2nd glance. There are just too many good looking actors.

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I have a question for you guys. I know reviews in China were not great. But what exactly are they expecting to happen if RoP does well on Netflix globally? For sure I've only been hearing positive things from people around the world, outside of China. People are drawn to the story-line and attached to the characters, and everyone seems impressed by the intense dedication that went into filming. I personally am impressed by the costumes and sets, and the cgi work was not jarring. They really immersed me in the story. Besides, I noticed that on the official Croton Media playlist on Youtube, there were even English subs done for a bts clip of the cast analyzing Ni Ni's character. So I feel it's gaining popularity globally. Why exactly is Netflix hoping it will though? Will that mean more high caliber shows like this being produced and going on Netflix from China?

 

 

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21 minutes ago, sonosong said:

I have a question for you guys. I know reviews in China were not great. But what exactly are they expecting to happen if RoP does well on Netflix globally? For sure I've only been hearing positive things from people around the world, outside of China. People are drawn to the story-line and attached to the characters, and everyone seems impressed by the intense dedication that went into filming. I personally am impressed by the costumes and sets, and the cgi work was not jarring. They really immersed me in the story. Besides, I noticed that on the official Croton Media playlist on Youtube, there were even English subs done for a bts clip of the cast analyzing Ni Ni's character. So I feel it's gaining popularity globally. Why exactly is Netflix hoping it will though? Will that mean more high caliber shows like this being produced and going on Netflix from China?

How does one know if it is doing well on Netflix? Is there a gauge for that? Is it on upvotes? Or views? I am not actually familiar with the Netflix system, I just use it to watch shows. lol. It's really sad about the ratings because it's not just the acting and the characters that are great, the set was so beautiful, it looks like a really high budget film. And I love the tones. And I know some people who even love the ending and thought it was fast paced and full of thrills...

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19 hours ago, Pollen Ainne said:

You are kidding? I heard about the bad ratings and some personal attacks about NiNi. But Chen Kun too? But... that makes no sense? Are these people paid to hate or something? Why so much hate?

 

And NINi is so beautiful. I remember that scene where she had those walnuts (?) in her mouth and Ning Yi asked her why she was not hideous anymore. She was smiling with those things in her mouth and I thought, how gorgeous. 

 

And how does Chen Kun cause a show to flop when I read his bio and he has made blockbusters like Painted Skin and garnered awards for it? That is just terrible. How can they not appreciate such talent... I would understand if they do not like the film, but why the personal attacks... has it always been like this? Is there a particular reason?

I have seen a few eps of NiF, and it is not bad... but none of the characters drew me in, and I am not really into political drama. I can only enjoy it when I am completely invested in a character at least. A lot of people have heaped praises for NiF so I have tried watching it. Did people hate on NiF too, or was tRoP just an exception... are they picking on my Chen Kun? :(

 

 

I find her to be so breathtaking as well. I guess they attract a lot of hate because of how successful they are. Some people were even criticizing him for his Sichuan accent, but I didn't even really notice it. He just made Ning Yi so captivating, exuding power and masculinity even as he defies it by engaging in traditionally feminine tasks. China has had a trend of pretty boys recently, and I actually love pretty boys, but idk how anyone can compare to this intensity and the wildness, barely contained, glinting in his eyes. (I spent my entire life side eyeing crazy fan girls and desperately trying to not come off as ditsy, yet I just wrote this entire, crazy paragraph)

 

Yea if you don't like political dramas NiF might have lose its appeal. I love political dramas and I liked all the actors so I really enjoyed it. NiF was much better received in China. It is also easier to watch than this one.

 

19 hours ago, Pollen Ainne said:

Ming Dynasty 1566 would have been interesting with what you said about it, but why depressing... I like to enjoy and not be depressed.

 

Ming Dynasty 1566 is very political. Although not entirely historically accurate, it sets up the decline of the Ming Dynasty. As such, the major focus is on corruption and the extent of human depravity. It might not be as depressing if you aren't Chinese, but a lot of Chinese people saw this to be the beginning of the fall of the glory of China. The following dynasty was ruled by the Manchus, who prosecuted the Han Chinese during their rule. If you don't like political dramas you will not like this at all, but those who do should check it out.

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I'm going through Phoenixes very slowly and am only up to Episode 20. Life's busy and one can only do what one is able. ;) Fascinating show and as a whole I find it worth persevering through. When it's good, it's extremely good. In between there are these talky sometimes overtly introspective lulls. I don't find them objectionable as a rule. I can see why they're there and of course it's always vital to pay attention to details as it is the case with these sorts of strategy oriented dramas. I understand the NiF comparisons to some degree although I think most revenge plots contain the same kind of elements. The Count of Monte Cristo more or less established the precedent and template for our modern textual constructs of those kinds of stories.

 

There is something I think that's quite terrifying about the male and female leads which is unique to them as individuals. Certainly they're trying to hang on to whatever decency they possess in a rather inhumane environment but I suspect that often makes things a lot worse. It's clear to me that Feng Zhi Wei is a woman in the wrong place and the wrong time. The fact that she has to cross-dress is the first clue that she's the resident misfit that is fated to shake things up. Personally I find her naivete terrifying particularly because it's accompanied by a boisterous, reckless audacity. She's undoubtedly quick-witted but that's not tampered by discretion and circumspection which is very dangerous given the environment that she's been thrown into. Ning Yi is enveloped by a darkness that threatens to consume him except for certain emotional restraints. That's part of what terrifies me about him. He has an overdeveloped, god-like sense of justice that driven by a deeply repressed anger. His mantra is "Eradicate Evil" while Zhi Wei's seems to be "let's not drag the innocent into the fray". 

 

Herein lies the problem. For me at least. To me they represent extreme viewpoints on a spectrum that's in play here. Both perspectives are problematic of course. Who are the evil ones? Who makes that judgment? Maybe Ning Yi thinks he's qualified given that he's suffered injustice and seen it enacted out. Who are the innocent ones? Is there anyone who is really innocent in all of this? Was Zhu Yin? Was the stableboy? 

 

The categorization is dubious. I doubt that there are any innocents in this drama in any sense of the word unless it's in reference to the maid that gets used as a whipping boy. Zhu Yin was an integral member of a conspiracy against the crown prince. She went into it with her eyes wide open. She knew the risks and took them. A case might be made for the stableboy's innocence insofar as he was embroiled in another conspiracy because of his father. But the Bloody Pagoda was an outlawed group that the crown prince hid in plain sight and Stableboy was a part of it. Just because he and his father saved ZW don't necessarily make them the salt of the earth.

Everyone has an agenda. Nobody does anything just because they're kind. The shifting alliances demonstrate that perfectly. It's a bleak universe undoubtedly but realistic for that kind of setting, I think.

 

The tension within these categories and how that plays out is what really interests me. ZW's insistence that there are "good guys" frightens me insofar as it colours the way she perceives potential dangers. It's a high-stakes game and she seems to be playing it by another set of rules. She could potentially be a gamechanger of course by reshaping how things are done in court politics but I have my doubts. ;)

 

Ning Yi is terrifying because he is relentless and single-minded. I don't think he's just about finding justice for his brother. I get hints here and there that he wants to reshape his environment after his own image. After falling victim to injustice, he needs justice... whatever he means by that... to vindicate his existence. Underneath that hair and brooding demeanour beats a revolutionary's heart.

 

The show pretty much sledgehammers home the fact that the leads alternate between Yin and Yang in various forms. He's the tortured soul haunted by darkness trying to restore order through creating chaos. He hides his true motives through traditional feminine arts like weaving. She's a bright young thing that hides her femininity with men's clothing, shining her light on the chaos or is somehow instrumental in bringing it to a head.

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