I never would have guessed that Princess Jieyou 解忧公主, which was devoid of heavy promotional efforts and sans the glitz and glamour that often comes with an idol cast would turn out to be such an incredible find.
Granted that the lead actor Yuan Hong does have his fair share of fans (myself included), his star power still wasn't enough for me to commit 41 hours of my life to this underrated historical cdrama, at least not initially.
Episode 1 is a combination of blood, tears and romance. Due to the unfortunate passing of the Han Dynasty princess who happens to be the wife of the reigning monarch of Wu Sun, Wu Sun sends an emissary to Han along with a proposal for a new marriage alliance in order to keep a united front against the Xiong Nu.
The group is ambushed en-route and General Wong Gui (Yuan Hong) narrowly escapes a ferocious battle in the desert.
Jieyou (Zhang Xinyi) is a member of a traveling circus searching for a source of water and she witnesses Wong Gui single handedly slaying all the men in sight, therefore contaminating the water in the process. Fearing for her own life, she and her troupe are both relieved and indignant when a nonchalant Wong Gui simply walks away.
During Jieyou's turn to perform a magic act, Wong Gui attempts to hide from the Xiong Nu assassins but is shot after Jieyou's frantic screams give away his location. She later discovers that a critically injured Wong Gui was a stowaway in her trunk of supplies and she ends up saving his life albeit after a sadistic streak of literally scraping off the poison that has seeped into his bones, which despite the way it sounds was actually a rather funny scene.
First Impressions: I'm not familiar with any of Zhang Xinyi's works but her character as Princess Jieyou is quite endearing. Perhaps it's largely due to a story that is set in the Western borders of ancient China where the people tend to be more carefree and passionate but Jieyou is the perfect example of such a person and it's refreshing to see a female lead that is uninhibited yet principled, feminine yet daring.
Yuan Hong as Wong Gui compliments our feisty heroine by embodying the qualities of a courageous and occasionally wayward hero. He is undoubtedly a warrior and a flirtatious one at that, which makes for a fairly entertaining OTP.
For anyone who has seen the City of Devastating Love also starring Yuan Hong as General Shen An, it's reasonable to conclude that he seems to always be typecast as the manly man. Thankfully, the similarities end there as General Wong Gui seems to be a way smarter version who hopefully won't repeat the mistakes of Shen An because that other drama ripped my heart out then stomped on it again and again and again.
The first few episodes of Princess Jieyou have been enjoyable overall with enough action and conflict to keep things interesting. It may not look as polished as the highly-publicized productions nowadays but the scenic views across the vast deserts of China are breathtakingly panoramic with a cinematic feel to it. On to episode 2 recap.
For synopsis, cast and ratings, see 2016 c-drama recommendations.