Last updated on February 17th, 2023 at 10:34 am
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Unchained Love is a 2022/2023 Chinese drama about a love story between a powerful eunuch, Xiao Duo, and the late emperor’s concubine he saves, Bu Yin Lou.
This plotline caught my attention immediately.
A concubine and a eunuch? If done well, this will be an epic love story.
This drama might be another forbidden love story but their identities would make the plotline much more intriguing.
Unchained Love Characters
Bu Yin Lou
She’s had a tough life.
She and her sickly mother (who’s a concubine) were bullied at home by the legal wife. There was no one to rely on as her dad turned a blind eye to this treatment.
Yin Lou got out of her childhood home by marrying into the royal family. Her older sister was supposed to marry in as a concubine but her mom (the legal wife) made arrangements so it was Bu Yin Lou instead.
Then the emperor dies and she was supposed to be a tribute lady so she can accompany the emperor in his afterlife.
Things take a turn for our main female lead when Xiao Duo saves her.
Their feelings for each other grow as they spend more time together.
She warmed his ice-cold heart and didn’t care that he was a eunuch (spoiler alert: he’s not).
Her whole life has been arranged for her but for Xiao Duo, she’s willing to take a gamble and follow her heart.
Yin Lou isn’t the type of female character sitting and moping around. Although her hands are tied for many things, she still tries her best during whatever situation she’s put in. She’s smart and able to figure things out by herself.
Our male lead didn’t have an easy life either.
He entered the palace to avenge his twin brother that died.
His motivation to find the brother’s killer was so strong that he was willing to do anything. Within a few short years, he rose the ranks and became the second most powerful person in the palace, other than the emperor.
Like other male leads in dramas, he didn’t anticipate falling in love.
Then, he met Bu Yin Lou.
Xiao Duo went from a fearless villainous character to someone who became softer. He’s like the overbearing CEO (this trope will be forever popular) but in a historical setting.
Falling in love with her added to his character development.
His soft side makes him more real as a person. It adds a layer of complexity to his character.
He is extremely confident and ruthless in other aspects of his life but that all goes out the window when it comes to Yin Lou. He becomes this stuttering guy that’s nervous and hesitant. It’s like a young boy being around his crush.
Most male leads in historical dramas are generals like Shen Yan from My Sassy Princess or Xiao Han Sheng in A Familiar Stranger or the high almighty God like Ying Yuan from Immortal Samsara.
It’s refreshing to see a eunuch to be in a male lead role.
I also enjoyed that Xiao Duo went against the stereotype of a eunuch. They are usually portrayed as weak, high-pitched, and feminine. These are all characteristics that are opposite of Xiao Duo.
Unchained Love Supporting Characters
Cao Chun Ang
Although they behave more like bros, Cao Chun Ang is Xiao Duo’s godson.
Chun Ang is like any good supporting character – loyal, funny, and trustworthy. He’s also a badass fighter. What’s not to like?
He’s the perfect sidekick to Xiao Duo.
The actor who played this character, Wang Li Xin was a suitable choice for the role. He’s what I imagine a eunuch to look like.
Tong Yun is Bu Yin Lou’s maid and Cao Chun Ang’s love interest.
I can’t tell if it was the way the character was written or if it’s the acting skills but she did not stand out as a character. In fact, she was annoying.
She was firmly opposed to Xiao Duo and Bu Yin Lou getting together (this makes sense because not everyone is going to support our couple), rejected Chun Ang, and was working with Empress Rong An to bring Yin Lou down.
It’s not often that I root for one side of the couple but I found it to be true in this case. I prefer Chun Ang much more and think he deserves better.
Their love story bored me because I didn’t like her. I found myself skipping some of their scenes because they didn’t hold my attention long enough.
Emperor – Murong Gao Gong
Peter Ho is an actor I haven’t seen in a while. The last drama I watched of him was probably Summer’s Desire.
It makes me miss the era of drama where Hi My Sweetheart, Fated to Love You, and Autumn’s Concerto were hits.
Peter Ho plays the convincing psychotic emperor who pines after Bu Yin Lou. She was kind to him when he was younger when no one was. That crush developed into what he believes is love.
He has the insane down pat. Peter does have that secret villain look to him so pulled off the character. Yet, he also played a convincing weak and scared man.
Rong An Empress
Zeng Li plays Empress Rong An. She’s a face you should recognize because she’s often a supporting character in many Chinese dramas. Her list of filmography is longgg.
She portrayed her role well.
As Empress, she’s scheming and manipulative.
It’s lonely being in the royal harem so she grows affection for Xiao Duo. Her hatred for Bu Yin Lou along with her feelings towards Xiao Duo drives her to do crazy things.
She’s one more obstacle between our lead couple but it just makes their love stronger.
Unchained Love – The Romance
The start of the lead couple’s romance reminds me of teenage first love. They’re both inexperienced in the romance area so are cautious about making a move, Xiao Duo more so. You would think Yin Lou be the shyer one.
He does push the boundaries with her but carefully watches her reactions so she’s not terrified.
Bu Yin Lou didn’t care that he’s a eunuch (he’s not) and was bold with her affections after she figures out her feelings.
It’s to the point where Xiao Duo feels shy which is adorable. These cute couple moments happen in episodes 15 and 16.
There also weren’t a lot of prior PDA scenes so it builds anticipation for the audience when it finally happens.
Their interactions will make you smile like a silly person. It’s super cute.
(The budding romance part of a love story is my favourite for any romance drama.)
Yin Lou and Xiao Duo have more in common than you think. They both lost a family member they love dearly, thrusted into a situation they didn’t want, and had to survive.
They’re also both in unchartered territory because neither one of them loved anyone romantically until they met each other.
The pair seems odd together but at the same time, they make sense.
Unchained Love – The Actors
Yukee Chan as Bu Yin Lou
Yukee Chan is an actress I am somewhat familiar with.
I’ve seen her in dramas like Ashes of Love, And the Winner is Love, and The Princess of Wei Young.
As a female lead, she never stood out to me. She also certainly does not have the star power like Yang Zi. However, I do find myself liking her characters in the shows I’ve watched.
She tends to have good chemistry with her co-stars.
In a romance drama, it’s almost always guaranteed a fail if there’s no chemistry between the couple. With Yukee, I’m rooting her with her love interest, whoever that is.
As for her acting, she has a lot of room for improvement. It’s a bit wooden.
Even during her emotional scenes, I didn’t feel much.
In order for her to win over the public, she needs to work on her acting skills. It also doesn’t help that she pairs up with talented actors like Luo Yun Xi and Dylan Wang.
She’s also not as exposed to the public compared to her co-star. She’s rarely on Chinese reality TV shows.
Although some people might argue these are scripted, it’s a chance for the general public to know who you are as a person instead of only the characters you play onscreen.
That brings the distance bringing the public and the actor closer.
Yukee’s absence on these shows means we don’t know how she is as a person. There are glimpses of her when they release some behind-the-scenes clips but unless you’re a real fan of one of her dramas or her as an actress, people usually don’t purposely look for those types of clips.
She can gain exposure if she’s more active in reality shows.
Dylan Wang as Xiao Duo
Through the Chinese drama, Love Between Fairy and Devil, Dylan’s popularity soared and gained millions of fans, including me.
His acting skills improved tremendously.
He received brutal comments from the public in his earlier dramas. Love Between Fairy and Devil changed all of that.
He did a terrific job when he swapped bodies with Esther Yu, the main female lead in Love Between Fairy and Devil.
I wish he had scenes acting more feminine in Unchained Love. That would have been hilarious!
It also would have worked because he’s a eunuch in this drama. Eunuchs tend to have higher voices so it would have made sense. Too bad the scriptwriter didn’t write any scenes in.
It’s funny though because his real life seems like a complete 180 from the characters he portrays. As his real self, he’s loud, bright, and cheerful. The contrast is very interesting because he pulls off the domineering look.
What I Would Love to See Him Do Next
Something I noticed is that he is often paired up with older women. In The Rational Life, he almost had a 20-year age difference from his co-star.
I would love to see him in a role with a love interest that is someone younger or the same age.
Perhaps Zhao Lu Si.
She has been experiencing success with her dramas so it would be nice to see them couple up for a drama. They’re the same age and from the same province too.
Unchained Love was filmed before he blew up so he’s now probably going to be paired up with more known actresses just like Cheng Yi after Love and Redemption.
Zhao Lu Si fits the bill.
I also can’t wait for him to portray other types of characters. He’s an expert at playing overbearing and dominating male leads. As this type of role helped him gain his fan base, he will highly likely continue taking these types of roles until his popularity is solid.
When he does consider more diverse roles, he would be a good fit for a vampire character or something like a crime drama where he’s a villain.
Biggest Complaint About Unchained Love
I wholeheartedly believe this drama would have been more popular if not for the editing team. The editing team ruined the flow of the drama.
For example, when it was time for the big reveal of Xiao Duo’s secret, the whole thing was so rushed that it was a letdown.
The editing team also made it extremely obvious they cut scenes. There’s no problem with cutting scenes but the story still has to flow to make the experience enjoyable for the audience.
The team did a poor job of this.
In addition, a lot of original clips leaked online. It turns out that the team slashed a lot of romance scenes. Those scenes were vital as they would have drawn more viewers.
What’s a romance drama without romance scenes?
Knowing what could have been added to the drama leaves the viewer feeling empty.
They might have gotten away with it if not for bad editing or leaks. The team wasn’t as obvious at the beginning of the drama. It was about halfway through the drama where you could really tell.
It’s disappointing because the drama held my attention well for the first part too.
Final Thoughts – Unchained Love
Despite editing boo-boos, Unchained Love is still worth a watch. This is one of those dramas you have on your bucket list that you’ll get around to sometime. Maybe if you have an extra long weekend or want to turn off your brain after work, you’ll go for Unchained Love but it’s probably not going to be on your favourites list.
I do have to warn you that watching Unchained Love might make you fall in love with the male lead, Dylan Wang.
He has the looks, height, and skills. I can 100% see why he has so many fans.
Let me know what you think of this drama in the comment section down below.
Now to You – Unchained Love
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