Last updated on January 20th, 2024 at 03:19 am
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Today, we’re going to talk about Love and Redemption, a Mainland Chinese historical/xianxia drama that came out in 2020.
There were a bunch of memorable dramas that came out that year (and I wrote drama reviews on them) including Dance of the Sky Empire and the Romance of Tiger and Rose but Love and Redemption takes the lead.
It is one of my favourite dramas of all time.
Let me tell you why in this drama review blog post.
Love and Redemption Synopsis
The female lead, Chu Xuan Ji is Shao Yang Sect Leader’s younger daughter who doesn’t have her six senses.
She meets our male lead, the cold and unfriendly masked Yu Si Feng, who is the head disciple of Li Zhe Palace.
Together with friends, they go on a journey to help Xuan Ji recover her six senses and get involved with the three realms: demon, mortal, and heavenly.
Our Male Lead – Yu Si Feng
Si Feng belongs in Li Ze Palace, a sect that requires all their disciples to wear a mask to hide their full face in public. They must also be fully devoted to the team and are not allowed to fall in love.
He has cooped up in Li Ze Palace all his life so he’s cold and unfriendly towards strangers. When he meets Xuan Ji, he thought she was strange but soon warms up to her.
As the episodes progress, you can see how Xuan Ji chips away his guard.
Eventually, he falls for her so hard that he’s willing to do anything for the girl he loves.
Even for 10 lifetimes.
If you watch Chinese historical dramas on a regular basis, you know this is a recycled storyline but no complaints over here.
Two souls that are destined to meet no matter what lifetime. Ups the romance a notch. Don’t you agree?
Si Feng has all the qualities in a guy any girl can want in historical dramas: smart, good at martial arts, calm, patient, devoted, loyal, and protective.
Si Feng’s unwavering devotion to Xuan Ji is on another level. He has made a lot of sacrifices for her but isn’t sitting around complaining to everyone about it.
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.
Our Main Female Lead – Chu Xuan Ji
Our female lead is on the opposite end of the spectrum of Si Feng. Xuan Ji is optimistic, clueless, and not good at martial arts.
She reminds me of Jinmi, played by Yang Zi from Ashes of Love because Jinmi’s character is also clueless. Both characters do have that in common but there are differences in the two dramas, I swear.
There will be moments where you’ll get frustrated at her character. It was a bit annoying for her not to understand so many things.
Yes, she doesn’t have her six senses but come on!
On the plus side, her cluelessness makes it funny during supposedly romantic scenes.
It’s comical how oblivious she is. She unintentionally flirts with Si Feng and he gets shy and curls his fist, which is super cute to watch.
Funny thing is, she isn’t even aware of how her actions are affecting him.
It’s nice to see the girl being bold for once and their dynamic makes everything more interesting.
No wonder fans think Si Feng took the wrong script and is supposed to be the female lead.
Xuan Ji and Si Feng Together
It’s official. They are my all-time favourite on-screen couple and have amazing chemistry together.
One of my favourite things about Love and Redemption was Xuan Ji protecting Si Feng (I LOVED episodes 15, 17-18 and episode 24).
There’s one scene at the end of episode 24 where they legit look like a couple. I loved their costumes there as well.
I swooned at those parts. Too often, that’s the male’s role but Xuan Ji has got some moves!
Love and Redemption Supporting Actors
There are way too many supporting characters for me to cover all of them so I picked some of the more important ones to talk about.
Chu Ling Long
Chu Ling Long is Xuan Ji’s elder sister and has a love line with Zhong Min Yan.
Zhang Yu Xi (张予曦), who played Ling Long had meh acting. Her acting doesn’t seem as natural. When she got all yell-y in someone’s face, I was so unimpressed.
It was only when dealing with the tragic aftermath of her abuse from Wu Tong that showcased her acting skills.
She did great in those emotional scenes. If it weren’t for those scenes, I wouldn’t have known she could act well.
There was also no older sister vibe to Xuan Ji despite her being protective.
The actress was not the best fit for her character.
Zhong Min Yan
Zhong Min Yan acted as an older brother to Xuan Ji and is Ling Long’s love interest. Honestly, there’s nothing much else to say about the character.
It’s not like Min Yan and Ling Long had strong romantic chemistry either but since they are supporting characters, this doesn’t matter as much.
If the casting team slotted someone else, I would have been okay.
He’s the main villain and a big supporting character in the show. He doesn’t want Xuan Ji to recover her six senses because he is a big stubborn head about how he’s doing things for all three realms.
I have mixed feelings about him. He always looks so angry but I think that’s the way the character is written.
He’s also one of the villains of the show.
He has this obsession with Chu Ling Long and is responsible for the PTSD she has to deal with afterward.
You might also have seen this actor in the Chinese drama, Legend of Fuyao, where, again, he also plays a villain.
He does got that villain look to him though.
Teng She is an animal God from the heavenly realm and Xuan Ji’s unwilling spirit animal.
He’s a loyal sidekick and helped her many times along the way although he doesn’t act like it.
This is going to sound weird but the actor is very good at acting like a snake.
He also has pretty good chemistry with Xuan Ji. They are a comedic duo and I like their banter throughout the episodes.
Hands down, Teng She is one of the supporting characters that stood out in the show.
She’s a purple fox from the demon tribe. She has been in love with Wu Zhi Qi forever and does her absolute best to get him out of prison.
Liu Yi Huan
Liu Yi Huan is Li Zhe Gong’s rebel and Si Feng’s friend.
Si Feng is the type to bottle up his emotions but Liu Yi Huan becomes a confidante. It was nice to see someone on his side for once.
Liu Yi Huan gave him emotional support and did his duty as a bro by trying to matchmake Xuan Ji and Si Feng get together. I LIVE for that.
But it was weird that he had a daughter since he looks young (the daughter was annoying. She acted like a baby all the time but I think she was supposed to be a teenager?).
It didn’t really add to the main storyline but it added to the character’s story.
Xiao Yin Hua/Lu Yan Ran
She’s Si Feng’s pet and she couldn’t be more annoying. She’s not a villain but she has such a bias against Xuan Ji.
If I hate to pick one character I hated, it would be Xiao Yin Hua/Lu Yan Ran.
Hao Chen was the bad guy but at least he kept the plotline going. Lu Yan Ran was just too whiny.
Love and Redemption OST (Original Soundtrack)
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 on any songs I like.
I’m glad I did because the most played song on Spotify 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.
Love and Redemption Breathtaking Cinematography
It’s a xianxia drama so there was already expectation going in that there was going to be a lot of CGI.
There was one particular setting that stood out to me and that was Xuan Ji and Si Feng’s first official date.
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.
What I Didn’t Like About Love and Redemption
This is very minor but I didn’t like Xuan Ji’s hair. I usually don’t pay too much attention to hair but other than one look, the rest of it didn’t look good to me. At all.
Also, Love and Redemption felt a bit draggy at the end. I didn’t think the last few episodes (after episode 54) were necessary.
There were twists and turns like Luo Hou Ji Du that I didn’t see coming but that plotline felt like it was added in unnecessarily.
Cheng Yi (Si Feng) As an Actor
While watching the Love and Redemption trailer on YouTube, I remember thinking the male actor had to be good at acting since his mask can be a hindrance.
Think of the Phantom from the musical, The Phantom of the Opera.
With a mask on, the actor who played Si Feng, Cheng Yi (成毅) had to act with his eyes. 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.
Cheng Yi has amazing acting skills. HOW is he so good?
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.
He embodied the character Si Feng. I seriously cannot imagine what other actors could have played this character. Amazing job to the casting director.
He probably has gained many fans through Love and Redemption *shyly raises hand*.
I know actors tend to lose a lot of weight when playing a xianxia drama but Cheng Yi looks quite frail in some scenes.
If he hasn’t played a chronically sick character yet, he really should because he would fit that type of character well.
There seems to be a tendency where Chinese actors and actresses tend to become popular after starring in a hit xianxia show.
Cheng Yi has a bright future ahead of him. I certainly will be looking out for his other future dramas like Immortal Samsara.
Yuan Bing Yuan (Xuan Ji) As an Actress
The actress, 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.
I do have to praise her in her fight scenes. Through some research, I found out that she actually has a background in dancing. It makes sense why she’s good at fight scenes then.
I see potential in Yuan Bing Yan but Cheng Yi stood out to me so much that she didn’t really have a chance.
I need to watch another one of Bing Yan’s future drama to really know how I feel about her.
She didn’t give a ‘wow’ performance but I doubt that Love and Redemption would have been as successful as it is without her.
Comparisons with Other Chinese Dramas
While looking at the comments online, I noticed that the audience kept comparing Ashes of Love with Love and Redemption since both female leads don’t know what love is.
There were also comparisons between Eternal Love, Ten Miles of Peach Blossom since their love transcends several lifetimes.
And also with the Chinese drama, the Journey of Flower. Both female leads have a similar hairstyle. They also have an innocent and fierce side to them.
This drama is a mix of all three extremely popular dramas. I don’t know if this was done on purpose but taking elements of all three can almost ensure success.
Love and Redemption is not as famous as the other three Chinese dramas but it’s still decently successful.
Love and Redemption Sequel?
During the promotion period, there was a live stream/press conference with the cast (Cheng Yi had some controversy about his behaviour). The director seemed to hint there was a season 2.
The sequel could be set in modern times considering they filmed a short Love and Redemption clip with Bing Yan and Cheng Yi.
I prefer historical dramas in general. However, I will not hesitate to watch a modern sequel if Cheng Yi and Yuan Bing Yan are the leads again.
There are a lot of factors to creating a successful drama and one of the most important ones is the main leads and their chemistry.
And they nailed it.
If they go the historical drama route again, they can use one of their past lifetimes.
The ten lifetimes that bonded the main characters were extremely quick. They were only snippets but 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.
Final thoughts – Love and Redemption
The Love and Redemption drama is now added to my all-time favourites list along with Love Between Fairy and Devil. I didn’t expect to love the show so much because I was quite unfamiliar with most of the actors but I was pleasantly surprised.
If you haven’t watched it yet, I strongly recommend this to Chinese drama lovers. It is longer drama but it’s totally worth your time! They have this on Netflix too!
Now to You – Love and Redemption
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