As you know, I’m a bigger supporter of depictions of urban, cosmopolitan China to promote the image of new China. Yet here I am, being beyond excited for, yes, a country drama.
Half the Sky 女人的天空 stars Jiang Xin and Wang Kai and is directed by Zhang Xinjian, who is the one Shandong director with an excellent track of portraying women of all types.The series should mostly use on-site recording, and all actors speak with a Dongbei accent. Can I hear a round of applause for the cast?
Jiang Xin plays a city girl who becomes a village official ( think of it as China’s version of Teach for America, with all the same pros and cons) and marries a local man (Cheng Haofeng, who played Jingrui in Nirvana in Fire) who then deserts her for the allure of city life. She works with her aunt-in-law, another village official, to revive the village economy while insuring local sustainability.
Wang Kai plays the aunt-in-law’s son who goes to the city to make his fortune, little did he know that his boss is his birth father. Somehow the two fall in love. In the one news article about the drama released back when filming had just begun in 2011, Wang Kai said he felt the romance seemed too sudden so he’s working on building a new romantic plot with the director. He also mentioned depicting the relationship to more of an admiration. I hope you mentally applauded for the last two lines, because my baby deserves all the praise for even recognizing a forced relationship and trying to fix it.
The series finished productions in 2012, but probably because it involves rural government, did not get approved for airing until last May. It’s set to air on March 21st on CCTV-8. Also, Jiang Xin and Wang Kai’s Ode To Joy is set for an April 16th release date.
I watched up to ep 16 of this. Not recommended. Jiang Xin’s character is a very passive character, and it’s more about petty personal disputes as opposed to self-realization.
The only takeaway is that Wang Kai was pretty good to have the insight to see that the romantic plot simply isn’t in the script, and it would be so weird if they had gotten together given their situation.
The chance for this drama to be subbed slim but I refuse to lose hope :’)
Oh..no, really? 😂😭😭 (Cry buckets)…sooo wanna watch it, to see what he was like in 2011. This is the one where he was styled like a man from small village with super short hair cut and old fashion clothes, right? When he can’t depend on looks, he has to work double hard on the character, must be awesome to watch…aarrgghh…cry some more.
Yeah considering this is not an idol drama… but who knows maybe if this get popular enough there will be a chance. And if this turns out to be super good maybe some of Wang Kai’s fans will try to sub this drama to spread the love~
I know our Wang Kai International team is growing…and we have many enthusiastic people…so maybe if it doesn’t get subbed by Viki or someone else, maybe this is a project I can pitch to my team :)
OMG yes, please? I’ll worship you
I hope that an official channel somewhere does pick it up though because then we could have decent video quality & subs together :) we can hope for the best.
There’s always a chance CCTV-4 might pick it up and sub it XD
are their subbed dramas available online?
…love your blogs, idarklight. Keep ’em coming, thank you. I am also a newbie in c-drama, fell into the Wang Kai Jin Dong rabbit hole accidentally. Not sure this is a good thing, though. After NIF, the Disguiser, All Quiet in Beijing, I couldn’t bring myself to watch anything else..(good bye J- and K-drama..sigh…)
Having seen Wang Kai’s works ( an unexpected pleasant surprise coming from an unknown drama actor from China), I have very high respect for his dedication, perseverance, thus naturally, mmm…have high expectation for his future works:)
BUT…For 10 years of hard work, I give this awesome dude carte blanche to experiment and make mistakes…just wanna see him being able to do what he wants and takes some risk to grow more. I know that from now on, he can choose projects instead of being pressured to take on roles to pay bills, and whatever he chooses, he will do it wholeheartedly.
Right now though, what I wish I could tell him are as follows:
– Do not take the role if you can’t do your own voice. It’s cardinal sin to have your voice dubbed by others. Your fans absolutely hate it. It’s like eating steak that tastes like tomato. Do you know how confusing it is to our brain to see you but hear someone else when you talk? Ewww. I can do it for one drama (azure hills fox), but please, please don’t do it again.
– You do not need a female partner/counter part/ love object to create strong performance. You have proven that with All Quiet in Peking, NIF, Disguiser. Female roles are important only when they are relevant to overall scripts, if they are just there as eye candies better not have them, the relationship will not be believable. Us, female fans, have acute sense to detect lack of chemistry on screen, you know 😉
– You are a strong character actor with years of experience. You don’t need to go down the route of romantic dramas with flavour-of-the-month actress. If the script is bad and the other casts are not strong, you alone won’t be able to save the project.
This is great time to get into cdrama! It’s growing at such a rapid pace, and things are changing every year :D
As for your comments, I really think his voice acting greatly enhances the delivery of his performance, so I hope he’ll never face a situation where he has to pick between dubbing and something else important. He’s one of those few actors who’s good enough that I would love to see him in all types of roles and relationships. Plus, Wang Kai can probably create chemistry with a rock if he tried ;b
Agree with you, hope he knows now how much fans love his voice acting.
The drama I was referring to that has blah storyline and meh casts is 等你爱我, Waiting For You to Love Me. I can’t press fast forward button fast enough to get to the next wang kai’s scene..honestly.
And since I have already formed negative biases towards Joe Chen Qiao En’s acting from her last works, I actually prefer to see Wang Kai try to create chemistry with a rock…lol, at least that would be hilarious…
My guess is that Deng Ni Ai Wo was a combination of not having a drama offer at the time and doing it as a favor to the director, who also did Ugly Wudi 1,3, and 4. The director called Wang Kai pretty close to filming, and Wang Kai said yes on the spot, indicating he didn’t have alternative options. The rumor is that he had originally saved late 2014 for the sequel to New Detective Squad, but that kind of got pushed back and back until it became a horrible net series with a completely new cast.
Additional fun fact: The male lead lived in a dorm across from Wang Kai when they were in college together.
Thanks for the info, idarklight! Love those fun fact…
This looks like a really awesome project!!! And of course it really doesn’t surprise me that Wang Kai would be thinking about realistic story and character arcs. He is an incredibly talented and thoughtful actor and the more I learn about him, well the more I am profoundly impressed, and of course completely bewildered as to why it took him 10 years to gain the sort of recognition he’s been getting. From all I’ve read and as I’ve been doing WKI stuff, it seems that he is incredibly impressive and well-liked by those he works with. No wonder Mr. Hou supported him so much. I am sure all the people who looked down on him are seriously kicking themselves in the butt right now.
I think if he had been famous before, he might not have been who he is now. For example, I know he tried out for the Meteor Shower and didn’t get any roles. If he were in that, I don’t think he would’ve ever developed the voice acting he has now, nor even the will to use his own voice. (No offense to Zhang Han, who I like but has just produced two dramas with dubbing. I’m sad he’s given up the struggle because I think at one point he cared, but I can’t really blame him given the environment. *sighs* )
That’s a really interesting point that I really appreciate hearing. Thank you. I do think that allowing himself to work hard and develop his acting skills without the limelight has been a good thing in the long run. And I know he sees it that way as well. He is an amazingly perceptive person who takes the best from a maybe not ideal situation (or at least he comes across that way in interviews). His acceptance speech at the Dragon TV Awards is just the best. He deserves every ounce of the attention and fame he’s getting right now. I am so glad that he is doing so well. And I am SOOOOOOO grateful he gets to do his own dubbing. It’s crime to dub his voice *shakes fist at the Foxes of Azure Hills people*.
WK did receive some notoriety about 7 years ago for his portrayal of an effeminate character in ‘Ugly Wudi’.
Another actor who worked hard for 10 years before hitting the spotlight is Jin Dong. Another one is Feng Shaofeng. Sometimes it’s just timing. Hope the same can happen for Yan Kuan.
I remember you mentioned this drama a while ago. I’m thrilled that it will air in 2 weeks, especially with on-site recording. Kudos for using another dialect, though it doesn’t make any difference to this non-Mandarin speaker, LOL. Also, Ode to Joy next month. Super!!
I don’t often comment on drama blogs, I like following them silently, but I just had to say a big thank to you today idarklight! I’ve been following cfensi for just under 2 months now, and I cannot thank you enough for posting about Arrows on the Bowstring back in 2012. My mom had been watching 箭在弦上 back in January, and I was just absolutely captivated by Jin Dong’s acting from the scenes that I watched that I searched it up and you guys were the only ones who’d mentioned anything about it. From that one post, I found my way to the other Jin Dong ones which then lead me to The Disguiser and Wang Kai and Nirvana in Fire…
In short, you are the reason that I’ve fallen down this c-ent Wang Kai Jin dong rabbit hole, and I couldn’t be happier! I’ve been watching mainland dramas for awhile now, but I’ve never had favourite actors the way I that I love Wang Kai and Jin Dong. ^^
I’d also like to say that I really enjoy your drama reviews/analyses. From the posts that I’ve read, you always touch on the importance of strong cast and storyline, the 2 key aspects of dramas that I value most, but I also love how you bring up issues like misogyny in much of their portrayal of women. I’d love to chat dramas with you one day, I’m watching NIF right now, which I’m aware you’ve already watched, but do you have any recommendations for afterwards?
Oh and 1 final thing, you’ve just made my day. I was just raving to my friend this morning about how I’ve been checking cfensi regularly for news of Ode to Joy, this drama should tide me over until then XP
The story doesn’t pique my interest very much, but the strong cast and their efforts to be authentic, like in the accent, has me anticipating it all the same! Also, ONSITE RECORDING -fistpump-
TL;DR: Thanks for spotlighting lesser known/less widely appealing but still strong dramas and actors!
I’ve been trying to find a place to watch 箭在弦上 with decent picture quality. if anyone can reference me, I’d appreciate it!
If you don’t need eng subs, these two sites have it at great quality (links are to first episode)!
Otherwise, if it’s eng subs you need, try viki?
Awesome sauce. I must have missed it when I checked before. I’ll check it out. Thanks you!
I’m glad you the posts helped! I love it when people share my love for awesome people and things. :D Plus, this is a great time to get into them since now they’re becoming more and more mainstream, and that their dramas are actually airing .
I’m not sure what to recommend really because I think dramas like The Disguiser and NIF are rather rare because they’re a rare combination of looks and talent, and Li Xue did a great job of tightening the pace and adding humor into traditionally more serious dramas.
If you have the time to sit down, I recommend All Quiet in Peking. I’ve been wanting to write a post about The Disguiser’s characterization for a while, but the more I think about it, the more I want to write about how All Quiet in Peking has much better characterization …
Most of Zhang Xinjian’s dramas are well-received, if a bit more serious and less pretty than The Disguiser or NIF. Chuang Guan Dong is his classic is you’re interested. I’ve only recently watched 知青, which was set during the Cultural Revolution and managed to hit a lot of the tough issues with surprising clarity while maintaining opportunistic enough for it to air. I’m hoping Half the Sky manages to do the same.
But to be honest, ever since NIF finished airing, I’ve mostly been rewatching The Disguiser and NIF. Despite all the dramas aired during CNY, I couldn’t finish any of them. Right now, my drama list consists of Agent Carter, iZombie, The Night Manager, season 2 of The Wire, and desperately waiting for Wang Kai’s segment of the fox show even though so far the script isn’t very good. ….
But … I forgot to mention it in the post but Ode to Joy actually has an air date set! April 17th! So hopefully I’ll have lots of dramas to watch soon!
Aah! I’ve heard of All Quiet in Peking! Pretty sure my mom watched it back when it was airing (my mom ploughs through dramas at a pace I can only dream of -sigh-) I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of of 1900’s Republican/WW2/post WW2 dramas, the whole time period just really puts me off. But I’ve been taking a bit more interest into the history of China post civil war era, just in terms of like understanding Chinese society today, and the reason why it’s developed the way it has. So I may yet watch All Quiet in Peking/知青. The family on my mom’s side (grandma, grand uncles, etc.) actually lived through the cultural revolution, so I’ve heard stories about the things they’ve been through and it’ll be interesting to compare them to the stories of the characters on screen. Admittedly, I only have a very basic understanding of what happened during the cultural revolution so watching will probably prompt me to learn more about it! As nerdy as this sounds, most of my history knowledge has probably been learned from watching dramas, and then going on wiki afterwards and separating fact from fiction XP
Ah yes! The fox show. His segment hasn’t aired yet, but I’ve been debating recently whether or not I even wanna watch his part. Chinese fantasy is not my thing either, and I don’t know if I can get over the fact that they dubbed his voice ): . It does look like an angsty love story though and I am a fan of angst… maybe I’ll wait to see what your feelings are on the story and then I’ll make my decision!
And omg! YAY! Just over a month and a half to go for Ode to Joy! But ofc, in the middle of finals season. At least it gives me something to look forward to for when finals are done!
My entire hope of the show rests on Wang Kai is known for changing the script himself. But I know he’s talked about how frustrating it was that sometimes people didn’t care about his opinions on filming, and I have a feeling this is the show he’s talking about since almost every other director he’s worked seems to love him and has worked with him on multiple projects.
D: finger’s crossed! Maybe the really frustrating project he was working on was actually 等你爱我, Waiting For You to Love Me. It aired this last winter I think? I haven’t watched it but I’ve heard the storyline is horrid?
The script’s not great and the plot is very typical housewife soap opera, but I think he did a decent job with what he was given. At least none of his lines were awkward.
The director for 等你爱我 is actually the director for Ugly Wudi 1,3, and 4. He recommended Wang Kai multiple times for the role (initially the producer said no because her only impression of him was Chen Jiaming, but then she watched All Quiet in Peking), and Wang Kai agreed to it over one phone call. The lead actress, who said that Wang Kai is one of the few actors in China who can improvise, said that near the end of filming, she and Wang Kai pretty much just made up their own lines for their scenes together. So I doubt it’s this one.
D: Well, fingers crossed all the same then!
And can I just say, here I thought that I couldnt be in anymore awe of Wang Kai, but the talent and skill of this man <3
I don't know where you get all these little tidbits about him idarklight, but I love that you share them!
This sounds very interesting, but I am confused – if this was already filmed, how could Wang Kai be working on correcting what he saw as weaknesses with the director now?
Sorry if it was misleading, I wrote this when I was half-awake last night … The article I’m referring to was when filming had just started back in 2011. Since then, there’s just been one other article saying it has finished productions, and that was it until this week, when it was announced that it would be airing.
First time hearing of this and I am looking forward to it. Thanks for sharing!
BTW, are you sure the title is Half the Sky (女人的天空)? I googled that in search of a trailer and kept directed to what seems to be a movie, starring among others the actress who plays Xia Dong.
I didn’t like the way Women’s Sky sounded, and figured the title was a reference to Mao’s quote “Women hold up half the sky”, so I just made the English title up.
But the Chinese title should be correct. As far as I know, there’s been no trailer released so far or even a promotional poster.
Here’s the CCTV announcement:
If people google “Half the Sky” in English, they might get confused as there is a best seller book of that title and a documentary already T__T Of course, I like the title “Half the Sky” better than “Women’s Sky” because it just sounds better. I wonder if it’s okay to have two titles of the same name. I don’t think it’s too much of a problem as long as people use both the Chinese and the English. Maybe between you and WKI we can get the word out there ^^
Given the subject matter, I doubt it’ll be a hit even in China, not to mention for it to be subbed abroad, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I’ve been tagging all posts about it (I have another one coming up) with both titles just in case. Although, I’d rather people accidentally stumble upon Nicholas Kristoff than Nike shoes XD (unless at some point Wang Kai becomes a spokesperson for Nike, in which case I prefer the shoes)
LOL. I totally hear you (and agree) :D
Now I understand! It does look like it will be a good watch.