Unlike the mess that was the 29th Golden Eagle Awards, the Magnolia Awards were more sensible and predictable, so kudos to the judges (director Gao Xixi, actress Ma Yili, screenwriter Chen Tong among others) for judging based on merit.
It’s that time of year again, when I collect all my thoughts on the dramas I watched over the past year. I vowed to watch many of the shows in the discarded list because they starred my favourites, conveniently forgetting that good actors cannot always elevate the quality of a drama.
On the other hand, dramas that weren’t initially on my radar ended up becoming the shows I was most invested in, probably because I had zero expectations going in. What are your thoughts on this year’s drama offerings?
Collection of Cfensi’s past reviews can be found here.
**Spoilers ahead, do proceed with caution.
When done well, theme songs and instrumental music are able to draw me into the events happening onscreen, even if the acting is bland and/or the story is sub par (sometimes I find that the worse a drama is, the better its OST). I may not have watched some of the dramas on this list, but that didn’t stop me from putting their songs on replay.
I’m a fan of ancient dramas, hence my playlist is usually dominated by melancholy ballads. Which drama soundtracks made an impression on you this year?
Phoenix Street 朱雀街 by Song Bingyang (Moonshine and Valentine)
A fashion round-up of designer William Chang Suk Ping’s
only good best drama work since Eternal Love.
Despite William Chang’s penchant for patterns that look like they came from your grandparents’ sofa, the muted colors of the leads’ costumes in The Rise of Phoenixes worked well with the color palette of the overall drama. It helps that Ni Ni and Chen Kun can make Uniqlo look like high fashion.
The Rise of Phoenixes streams with English subtitles on Netflix beginning today here. The series is the first ancient drama brought in as a “Netflix original” and stars Chen Kun, Ni Ni, Ni Dahong, Liu Mintao, Zhang Xiaochen, and Bai Jingting.
Here’s a bunch of stills and posters that have been released since the show begun airing other than the ones we’ve already posted, like Chen Kun’s color palette and Ni Ni’s costumes. The show also has a great OST, including Helpless 奈何 by Sam Lee, How did we become so helpless 何奈何 by Ni Ni, Like Yesterday 如昨 by Liu Xijun, and Schemes 心机 by Wang Xiaomin. A couple more behind-the-scenes stuff have also been released since the last round-up. Watch them here and here.
For those of you waiting patiently for the English subbed version of The Rise of Phoenixes, it will stream on Netflix on September 14. Also, if you’re in the U.S., Ni Ni will be making her US magazine debut on one of four covers for L’Officiel USA on top of L’Officiel Singapore, France, and China. I will link to magazine ordering site if/when it’s up.
The drama is stunning but a little slow (not in what’s actually going on but the editting) but this drama gave me so much more appreciation (I know, I didn’t think it was possible) for Ni Ni. She’s hands down the most convincing female lead crossdressing as a male in a Chinese drama in maybe forever. She’s the only one who is simply playing a male instead of a woman crossdressing as a male. I never knew how much I needed Ni Ni to play all my favorite wuxia male leads until I saw her as Wei Zhi. I had chills watching a drinking scene because of how much it reminded me of Linghu Chong, and an escape scene that I thought would be perfect for Yang Guo.
Also the male voice she uses in this drama is apparently closer to her real voice, which is amazing because it’s so much huskier than the voice of most of her previous characters that I’ve seen.
Anyways here is the Netflix trailer and some pics of her by Yin Chao below:
Chen Kun’s workshop releases this pretty set of color palettes with traditional Chinese colors for The Rise of Phoenixes. I’ve tried translating a few of the colors literally but gave up because of how I didn’t know how to type half of the colors for some of them, anyone else want to give a try?
The Rise of Phoenixes tells of the heart-wrenching romance between the descendants of two royal families who are destined to become enemies, and the political machinations that are bound to push them further apart.
Starring Chen Kun, Ni Ni, Zhao Lixin, Ni Dahong, Yuan Hong, Wang Ou and Bai Jingting, the 70 episode drama airs daily on Hunan TV beginning tonight. Raw episodes will be uploaded by Croton, and it may also appear on Netflix US.