Jan 2021 update: I had no idea that this was going to be my second most popular post. I’m quite surprised actually but Love and Redemption is an amazing drama. I like to search up reviews before watching a drama so I totally get it. Thanks, everyone!
I’ve been MIA the past few weeks because I wasn’t motivated. I also didn’t know what to write either so I kept procrastinating. One day turned to weeks until I was finally like, ‘I have to sit my ass down and start writing.’
I finally found something that I wanted to write about and if you can’t tell by the title already, it’s another drama review (for more drama reviews, see part 1 of my top Chinese romance dramas). At this point, doesn’t it feel like my blog focuses only on drama reviews? Don’t worry. Chinese dramas are a HUGE part of my life but it will never be the only thing I will focus on. This one is an exception though. I couldn’t NOT do a drama review because it’s that good. Love and Redemption is added to my favourites list. It ended recently so I wanted to write a review while it’s fresh on my mind.
The female lead, Chu Xuan Ji is Shao Yang Sect Leader’s younger daughter who doesn’t have six senses. She doesn’t know what love feels like. She meets our male lead, Yu Si Feng, who is the head disciple of Li Zhe Gong. Disciples from Li Zhe Gong have to hide their faces by wearing a mask when they are out at all times. They are also not allowed to fall in love. Can you see where the plot is going already?
I LOVE the forbidden aspect of him not being allowed to fall for the girl. The dynamic made everything more interesting. The girl is extremely oblivious. She’s flirting with him and he gets all shy, which is super cute to watch. It’s nice to see the girl being bold for once. Funny thing is, she isn’t even aware of how her actions are affecting him. Little did she know, he falls head over heels for her. Throughout the drama, he has shown again and again how he puts her above all else. Oh Si Feng, why can’t you exist in real life? All the ladies would trip themselves getting to you.
Si Feng is smart, good at martial arts, calm, patient, and protective. Our female lead is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Xuan Ji is optimistic, clueless, and not good at martial arts. Although it was frustrating seeing Xuan Ji be so clueless, I was annoyed at the character for not being able to understand things normal people can. I understand she doesn’t have her six senses but come on! I had to stop myself from yelling at my computer a few times.
Yuan Bing Yan (袁冰妍) played two characters and had to have some acting chops to pull off both. Xuan Ji is softer, clueless, and cute while her other character, the God of War is fierce. Bing Yan suited the innocent side more. Maybe it’s because I was too used to seeing her as a lovable girl to see her as a fierce God. She did play that role decently well, I have to admit.
One of my favourite things about Love and Redemption was Xuan Ji protecting Si Feng. I swooned at those parts. Too often, that’s the male’s role. Although I do enjoy watching those types of scenes, it’s refreshing to see a role reversal. I’m always going to advocate for strong female characters. Hint: you want a strong female character? You’ll get your wish in this drama. A comment I kept seeing popping up was that Si Feng took the wrong script and he’s supposed to be the female lead. It made me laugh but I can see where the comments are coming from.
I knew that their souls were connected in some way for ten lifetimes from the get-go. My friends complain that’s a recycled storyline in Chinese dramas but hey, people buy it, right?! Me included. Two souls that are destined to meet no matter what lifetime. What kind of girl wouldn’t want this type of romance? If only this was real…
I didn’t know how ten lifetimes were going to play out. Turns out, they were only snippets of each lifetime and it passed quickly. In hindsight, it makes sense. They can’t thoroughly explore each lifetime in 59 episodes. It would be too chaotic. It would be a good idea for future sequels though. Maybe that’s what they were planning to do.
It’s official. They are my all-time favourite on-screen couple and have amazing chemistry together. I ship them hard. I kept rooting for them despite the number of times she has hurt him. The heartbreaking moments give you the FEELS. How can you not feel for Si Feng? Xuan Ji is too trusting, that’s her issue. She believes what everyone says except her beloved. There was even an ongoing joke with fans saying how much heartbreak can a male lead go through? Also, why is he always spitting out blood? LOL. Out of all the dramas I’ve watched so far, this male lead has suffered the most. Poor thing.
Cheng Yi (成毅) has amazing acting skills. HOW is he so good at acting?While watching the trailer on YouTube, I remember thinking he had to be good at acting since his mask can be a hindrance. Think of the Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera. With a mask on, Cheng Yi had to act with his eyes, and oh boy were they expressive. If he wasn’t a good actor, it would be easy to spot right away because his face is literally covered in half. He can display love, pain, and devotion all on his face. Even his micro-expressions were on point.
Undoubtedly, he was the highlight of the drama. I would go as far as to say he is one of the best Chinese actors I have watched in a drama in a very long time. I’m sure he has gained many fans through Love and Redemption *shyly raises hand*.
While I am almost certain Cheng Yi has a bright future ahead of him, I also see potential in Yuan Bing Yan. I don’t love Xuan Ji as much as Si Feng. It’s because Cheng Yi stood out to me so much that she didn’t really have a chance. She didn’t give a ‘wow’ performance but I doubt that Love and Redemption would have been as successful as it is without her. There are a lot of factors to create a successful drama and one of the most important ones is the main leads and their chemistry. They nailed it.
Cheng Yi has acting skills, height, and looks but I wasn’t hooked on his character like Deng Lun as Xu Feng in Ashes of Love. I can’t put my finger on exactly why I don’t feel as strongly about him. Love and Redemption was based on a novel. I have not read it so maybe it’s supposed to be Si Feng’s character description but he seems almost frail? If Cheng Yi hasn’t played a chronically sick character yet, he really should because he would fit that type of character well. Deng Lun seemed more masculine and strong. I think it’s because he’s more muscular. No matter what, I do love Si Feng because of his unwavering devotion to Xuan Ji. That’s something else that stood out to me. In that way, Si Feng is better than all of the male leads in other dramas I’ve watched.
I love the friendship group of the four characters together: Ling Long, Min Yan, Xuan Ji, and Si Feng. Chu Ling Long is Xuan Ji’s older sister and has a love line with Zhong Min Yan. The characters added to the plot because without them, the drama wouldn’t have focused on family love and friendship as well. As for their acting, I felt iffy. Ling Long is protective of Xuan Ji but I didn’t feel an older sister vibe. I can’t help but admit Zhang Yu Xi (张予曦), who played Ling Long showcased her acting skills when she dealt with the tragic aftermath of her abuse. She did great in those emotional scenes. I have nothing much to say for Zhong Min Yan. If the casting team slotted someone else, I would have been okay.
I want to talk about two other supporting characters. The first is Teng She, an animal God and Xuan Ji’s spirit animal. He was a loyal sidekick and helped her many times along the way although he doesn’t act like it. I like it when characters banter and they’re the comedic duo. The second one is Liu Yi Huan, Li Zhe Gong’s rebel. Si Feng is the type to bottle up his emotions so I enjoyed watching Liu Yi Huan giving him emotional support. Also, Liu Yi Huan does his duty as a bro by trying to matchmake Xuan Ji and Si Feng get together. I LIVE for that.
The OST had to grow on me. Usually, I can pretty much pick up a song or two I will like right away. This time, I had to go back to listen to the OST on YouTube after watching the drama to see if I missed out any songs I like. I’m glad I did because the most played song on my iTunes right now is 情人咒. Are all the duets in historical Chinese dramas the best song? Those are the ones I always seem to like best.
There was one particular setting that stood out to me. I kept replaying scenes just to take in all the beautiful scenery. That location is exactly what I have in mind when it comes to romance scenes in historical dramas. I wonder if it’s designed by the production team or if it’s an actual location. If it is, you betcha I’m visiting that location one day. If I close my eyes and use my imagination, it almost feels like I’m there with all the lights and the wind gently caressing my hair. See below for a better understanding of what I’m saying.
While I was looking at the comments online, I noticed that the audience kept comparing Ashes of Love (one of my favourites) with Love and Redemption since both female leads don’t know what love is. There were also comparisons with Eternal Love, Ten Miles of Peach Blossom (another of my favourites) since their love transcends several lifetimes. This drama is a mix of Ashes of Love, Eternal Love, and Journey of Flower. Xuan Ji reminded me of Hua Qian Gu from The Journey of Flower because both characters have an innocent and a fierce side to them. How can I not love this drama when it mixes elements of all my favourite dramas? Don’t you worry though. Love and Redemption isn’t a rip-off of any of those dramas. If you’re like me and loved any of those dramas, I recommend you watch this one.
The director confirmed that there will be a season 2. There are some talks that the sequel is set in modern times. You guys should know by now that I will always prefer historical dramas. I can even count on one hand the amount of modern Chinese dramas I have watched. However, I will not hesitate to watch a modern sequel. That’s how you know how much I love Love and Redemption. GO WATCH IT!