2014 Best Chinese Period Dramas

So I decided one day to start a list of my favorite wuxia series and it ended up spanning across twenty over years of good TV. Needless to say, the list got too long so I am separating 2014 for housekeeping purposes. 

Expect more updates because I'm on the prowl for some older dramas:) If you have one you'd like to share, please comment below.

Romance of the Condor Heroes

condor heroes 2014, chen xiao, michelle chen, best wuxia, asian drama withdrawals

Is it a must-watch, pretty good, just another drama, tolerable or downright boring?


My Rating: Must Watch (5/5)
Title:Romance of the Condor Heroes / Shen Diao Xia Lv / 神鵰俠侶
Episodes and Genre: 52, Romance Wuxia
Broadcast Period: 2014-2015, Hunan TV
Starring:
Chen Xiao as Yang Guo 
Michelle Chen as Xiao Long Nu

Synopsis:
The is a coming-of-age story about Yang Guo, a mischievous anti-hero who defies social limits by fighting for his relationship with Xiao Long Nu and proving himself the true embodiment of a legendary hero.

Comments:
The TV adaptation by Yu Zheng has been fraught with controversy from casting Michelle Chen to diverging from the original plot. Maybe I'm playing the contrarian but I actually liked that she was casted since I enjoyed her performance in You Are the Apple of My Eye, which is why the backlash from her casting as ethereal beauty Xiao Long Nu took me by surprise.

I am many episodes into the drama and experiencing drama withdrawals, which I haven't had in a while. Chen Xiao as Yang Guo is absolutely charming (maybe my new favorite?) and Michelle Chen as Xiao Long Nu, albeit a little awkward in her first appearance is slowly but surely growing on me. There may be so many other beautiful women out there (ie whoever the actress below looked absolutely stunning in the opening scene). Nonetheless, Michelle Chen and Chen Xiao make an adorable pair and it's well worth my time eagerly anticipating the upcoming episodes.

condor heroes 2014, chen xiao, michelle chen, best wuxia, asian drama withdrawals

If I were to nitpick, I thought the side stories were drawn out if not completely unnecessary. After all, I'm in it for the story between Yang Guo and Xiao Long Nu and not some side character. A change that I did like was the addition of Li Mo Chou and Lu Zhan Yuan's meeting but that's because Li Mo Chou is an important character in the Return of the Condor Heroes so her back story was equally relevant.

This drama also tends to be overly cheesy with its over emphasis on love. I should have known when they took the liberty of changing the classic title of Return of the Condor Heroes to Romance of the Condor Heroes. It's a romance wuxia, we get the picture!


The Empress of China a ratings powerhouse
(武媚娘传奇破3 meaning TV ratings higher than 3%, the highest rated in 2015)

Fan Bing Bing in Empress of China, an epic historical c-drama


Is it a must-watch, pretty good, just another drama, tolerable or downright boring?


My Rating: Must Watch (5/5)
Title:The Empress of China / Wu Mei Niang Chuan Qi / 武媚娘传奇
Episodes and Genre: 80, Historical
Broadcast Period: 2014-2015 Hunan TV
Starring: 
Fan Bing Bing as Wu Mei Niang 

Synopsis:
Wu Mei Niang rises against all odds to become the one and only Empress of China.

Comments:
I have seen my fair share of historical Korean dramas centered around strong female icons like Queen Seon Deok and Empress Ki to name a few.

If I was ever waiting for a Chinese counterpart, it would be none other than the story about Wu Mei Niang. I rate the series as a must-watch partially due to the fact that it is, as of today, the most expensive TV series in Chinese history. A big budget doesn't always translate well ratings-wise, yet money allows the freedom to have a powerhouse cast, intricate Tang Dynasty costumes, and a very high quality series clocking in over 80 hours of screen time.

I definitely recommend watching this if you are into palace dramas where there are political plots left and right as well as an endless struggle for the throne. Perhaps the saying bad publicity is good publicity rings true as I actually became more intrigued when Empress of China made the news for censorship issues. Its low cut necklines have been promptly edited out but I guess I can live with that.

Sound of the Desert

2014 c-drama Sound of the Desert
Is it a must-watch, pretty good, just another drama, tolerable or downright boring?


My Rating: Must Watch (5/5)
Title:Sound of the Desert / Ballad of the Desert / Da Mo Yao / Feng Zhong Qi Yuan / 大漠谣 / 风中奇缘 / 星月传奇
Episodes and Genre: 35, Romance
Broadcast Period: Oct 2014
Starring:
Liu Shi Shi as Xin Yue 
Eddie Peng as Wei Wu Ji
Hu Ge as Mo Xun

Synopsis:
Xin Yue is ethnically Han Chinese but she is raised in the desert with a pack of wolves for company. She is bold, daring and intelligent and she meets Wei Wu Ji and Mo Xun on separate encounters. She eventually decides to rejoin society and she finds herself crossing paths with both men once again.

Comments:
Its beautiful cinematography bears the Tangren signature. Include a charismatic cast, a solid script and a moving romance and you'd fall head over heels for it too.

Virtuous Queen of Han - a ratings powerhouse, means off the chart viewership during its broadcast


Is it a must-watch, pretty good, just another drama, tolerable or downright boring?


Title: Virtuous Queen of Han / Da Han Xian Hou Wei Zi Fu / 大汉贤后卫子夫
Episodes and Genre: 47, Historical
Broadcast Period: August 2014 Anhui TV, Zhejiang TV and Dragon TV
Starring:
Wang Luo Dan as Wei Zi Fu
Raymond Lam as Emperor of Han

Synopsis:
Wei Zi Fu is a songstress who rises up the ranks to become the virtuous queen of the Han Dynasty.

Sword of Legends - a ratings powerhouse

2014 c-drama Li Yi Feng Sword of Legends
Is it a must-watch, pretty good, just another drama, tolerable or downright boring?


My Rating: Pretty Good (4/5)
Title:Sword of Legends / Legend of the Ancient Sword / Gu Jian Qi Tan / 古剑奇谭
Episodes and Genre: 50, Action Romance / Fantasy
Broadcast Period: July 2014 Hunan TV
Starring:
Li Yi Feng as Baili Tusu / Han Yun Xi
Yang Mi as Feng Qing Xue

Synopsis:
The Nu Wa Clan are the protectors guarding the demon within the Sword of Legends. On the day of the sealing ritual, masked assassins attack their village. Han Yun Xi is the son of the chieftain and she seals the demon inside his body to save his life.

Years later, Yun Xi goes by the name Baili Tu Su. However, he is feared and ostracized for being a monster. Constantly plagued by his demons, Tu Su has to exercise immense discipline and rely on his innate goodness to overcome evil.

Comments:
I was emotionally invested in Baili Tusu's struggle as he tries so desperately to hang on to his sanity and I wanted more of that especially given such a promising start. Unfortunately, the drama drags on once Tusu leaves Tian Yong Cheng and I find myself skipping episodes.

First, the drama ventures into side stories that I don't care about. Second, Tusu loses control and faints so much that I've lost count. Third, Tusu becomes annoyingly callous towards Qing Xue, and their often one-sided relationship is not one that I enjoyed, and yet he is still a very beloved character in his own right.

Regardless, the good outweighs the bad that it remains to be one of my personal favorites.

Gong 3 - a ratings powerhouse

Gong Suo Lian Cheng

Is it a must-watch, pretty good, just another drama, tolerable or downright boring?


My Rating: Tolerable (2/5)
Title:Gong 3 The Lost Daughter / Gong Suo Lian Cheng / 宫锁连城
Episodes and Genre: 45, Romance Drama
Broadcast Period: Apr 2014 
Starring: 
Yuan Shan Shan as Lian Cheng
Lu Yi as Heng Tai

Synopsis:
Lian Cheng comes from a wealthy family but she is given away by her mother in exchange for a baby boy. However, she meets and falls in love with the same boy who took her identity. What ensues is a complicated gut-wrenching drama where Lian Cheng endures all kinds of humiliation both physical and emotional in the name of love.

Comments:
Yu Zheng capitalizes on the fame of the Gong franchise to make Gong 3 though it isn't related to its predecessors. In fact, the plot feels like a copy of an old drama I used to watch called Mei Hua San Nong (梅花三弄之梅花烙) but instead, Yu Zheng turns the entire story on its head with literal switcheroos that leave me speechless.

The funny thing is that ratings remained high such that it's become a joke that the people watching are cursing at it too. 

Perfect Couple

Perfect Couple Chinese romance comedy

Is it a must-watch, pretty good, just another drama, tolerable or downright boring?


Title:Perfect Couple / Jin Yu Liang Yuan / 金玉良缘
Episodes and Genre: 45, Historical, Romance Comedy
Broadcast Period: Apr 2014 
Starring: 
Wallace Huo as Jin Yuan Bao
Tiffany Tang Yan Yu Qi Ling

Synopsis:
During the Ming Dynasty, Jin Yuan Bao is the successor of a prominent family and he marries female martial artist Yu Qi Ling after an arranged marriage turned wedding mishap.

The Investiture of the Gods

2014 c-drama The Investiture of the Gods

Is it a must-watch, pretty good, just another drama, tolerable or downright boring?


Title: The Investiture of the Gods / Feng Shen Ying Xiong Bang / 封神英雄榜
Episodes and Genre: 50, Fantasy
Broadcast Period: Jan 2014
Starring: 
Sammul Chan as Jiang Zi Ya
Viann Zhang Xinyu Su Da Ji / Fox Demon

Synopsis:
Jiang Zi Ya is a kind-hearted man who gains the favor of the Heavenly Senior. However, his sworn brother Shen Gong Bao schemes to kill Zi Ya out of jealousy. Given that their paths have diverged, Shen Gong Bao wreaks havoc with the fox demon by his side while Zi Ya must rally a group of heroes to fight for the sake of peace.

Also check out the best Chinese period dramas from 1993 - 2013 and 2015.



2 comments:

  1. Aw no Romance of the Condor Heroes? xD

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    Replies
    1. oops I had put it under the 2015 list.. i should move it back to 2014 hehe

      of course it's on the list:) one of my fave wuxia.. have seen most of the recent adaptations on it.

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