Producer Yu Zheng's track record for ruining novel adaptations does not bode well for his latest offering but in spite of it, Demon Girl 半妖倾城 manages to turn the tide, at least for me.
A family of four is running for their lives as the mother (Ady An) bids her husband and daughters farewell. She closes the doors to buy time as she transform into a dark winged creature in order to slaughter the army of militants on their trail.
Episode 1 begins with a rundown of the laws governing the fantasy universe. Demons are said to be no different from humans except for increased strength, agility and the ability to fly.
Years pass and Nie Qing Cheng (Li Yi Tong), the elder sibling, makes a living as a dancer in a posh nightclub. During a performance, she is forcibly taken by gangsters as an offering to Ming Xia (Zhang Zhe Han), the new sheriff in town.
Ming Xia makes it clear that a rich man like him has no lack for money or women and that he became a sheriff specifically to rid injustices like this. Guns are drawn and Ming Xia emerges the victor after outmaneuvering the gang lord in his own territory.
At home, Qing Cheng recalls her fleeting encounter with Ming Xia to the delight of Qing Xin who teases her elder sister. They splash water playfully without noticing that Qing Cheng has mysteriously caused a visible crack on the tub.
Qing Xin is a student at a high society school and she is devastated over being excluded from the biggest event of the year. Acting as the loving big sis, Qing Cheng sneaks them inside and stands up to her sister's bullies, allowing the more timid Qing Xin a chance to shine.
Seeing that her work is done, Qing Cheng takes a walk and she is pleasantly surprised at the sight of Ming Xia.
First Impressions: I was intrigued before the drama even aired despite serious doubts on whether it would hold my interest at all; yet lo and behold, it has been four episodes and I'm antsy for more.
Brushing aside Mi Re's awkward shower scene, powder-faced vampiric goth and bad hair plus the everlasting trend of pointy ears, this drama is relatively well-made because if Yu Zheng has a penchant for anything, it would be his talent for pretty pictures, which work wonders in a supernatural realm where he has free reign to be as creative as can be.
From the flashy gold specks to the bits of information inserted at the beginning of each episode, Demon Girl adds nice details and retains a magical demeanor reminiscent of Monster Killer but this time around, romance takes the center stage.
It tells a love story that's not sickly saccharine but sugary sweet in a way that leaves you wanting. Newcomer Li Yi Tong may not be the best actress but she brings to life a strong, lovable and unique female character that is easy on the eyes while the boys Zhang Zhe Han and Mi Re are equally swoon-worthy.
Episode 1 is so happy that it's practically a given for things to go awry; yet the conflicts that ensued while seemingly taken out of pages of a high-school drama ended up quite entertaining nonetheless.
For more synopsis, cast and ratings, see my 2016 Chinese historical drama listing.