The Wolf (2020) 狼殿下 : C Drama Series Review

The series is basically a romance story, based on the premise of the encounter between two innocent souls – a young princess & a carefree boy raised in the woods. The fate has a tragic way of dealing with the lovers, throwing them bricks & bats of difficulties over their life journeys. The couple experiences many bitter, sweet, jealous & angry moments through different periods.

Young Zhai Xing & Silly Lang Zhai

Period of Innocence & Carefree Life : Ma Zhai Xing meets Lang Zhai, a wild boy raised by wolves in the forests, whereby the two form a close bond as youngsters. As they get to know each other, both develops trust & enjoy the carefree lifestyle in the forest. The memories in the forest will be forever etched in their heart as the happiest moments, chasing winds & butterflies.

Period of Rebirth of a Cold & Calculating Prince Bo : The age of innocence falls apart when Lang Zhai is misunderstood to be the killer of the emperor’s brother & hunted. As he escapes, he falls off the cliff believing Zhai Xing to have betrayed him. The Emperor Zhu Kui of Yang Kingdom saves him to train as a military tool, giving him a new identity as an adopted son named Prince Bo. He lives the next 8 years learning to be a human devoid of kindness to survive in the difficult political & tumultuous environment. Subsequently, the two meets again under convoluted circumstances whereby Prince Bo secretly assassinates Zhai Xing’s entire family at Emperor Zhu Kui’s order. Their intertwined fate brought them together once again as both are betrothed to each other at Emperor Zhu Kui’s urging.

When Zhai Xing moves in to his mansion as his fiancée, both tiptoes around each other with mistrust. Zhai Xing’s sincerity begins to thaw the cold-blooded Prince Bo, who starts to learn more about her past especially when her knees were broken while trying to save Lang Zhai. The couple went through thick and thin amidst further misunderstandings & scheming events.

Prince Bo & Princess Zhai Xing

Princess Bao Na of Khitan and Ji Chong/ 2nd Prince of Jin Kingdom are introduced, whereby Princess Bao Na forms an admiration for Zhai Xing upon being saved by her. Ji Chong, originally a bounty hunter working for Zhu You Gui (2nd prince of Yang Kingdom), is mesmerised with Zhai Xing’s kindness and decides to assist her.

Although there are many occasions whereby Zhai Xing suspects Prince Bo is the Lang Zhai she used to know, she sweeps it under the carpet, not believing it can be the truth. When she realises that he has always been caring for her behind the scene, she decides to test out Prince Bo by throwing herself over the cliff, of which Prince Bo without hesitation jumps off to save her. After the confrontation on Prince Bo’s identity as Lang Zhai, an elated Zhai Xing is happily embracing life with Prince Bo. However, Prince Bo decides to push Zhai Xing away as he senses danger for her with Emperor Zhu Kui’s schemes to make use of her. He finally severs the relationship by confirming to Zhai Xing that he and his team of Wen Yan, Hai Die and Mo Xiao are the secret assassins of her father and family.

Period of Journey of a Princess in Jin Kingdom : The news of Prince Bo as the assassin shocks Zhai Xing to the core, rendering her almost to breaking point. She recovers with the help of Ji Chong, who brings her to Jin Kingdom & discloses his identity. In her attempt to take revenge, Zhai Xing seeks protection from Jin Kingdom by pledging her Ma’s troops to the Jin Kingdom. Her hatred totally clouds her mind (and rationality), totally not realising the political turmoils & schemes from the various parties.

During the time in Jin, her friendship with Ji Chong deepens whereby she helps to mend his relationship with Emperor of Jin. Ji Chong also confesses his feelings to Zhai Xing. Although she does not reject him, she agrees to a political marriage since she seeks protection from his kingdom.

The 2 lads fighting for Zhai Xing’s affection

In a confrontational battle, Zhai Xing leads her Ma troops and Jin Kingdom’s army to battle with Prince Bo. He enters the battle alone to ensure minimum sacrifices, and instructs no interference from his own troops, wanting to redeem himself and prepares to die in the hand of Zhai Xing. In the chaotic battle that ensues, a heavily injured Prince Bo still chooses to save Zhai Xing.

After saving Zhai Xing, Prince Bo goes out of the way to ensure her injury is not further intensified. All his actions are misunderstood by Zhai Xing while Prince Bo continues to ignore her. Prince Bo finally tips off Ji Chong to pick up Zhai Xing while she is unconscious. Ji Chong realises that Prince Bo is doing all for the good of Zhai Xing and confronts him. Prince Bo acknowledges and requests for Ji Chong not to disclose the truth to Zhai Xing and entrusts the safety & happiness of Zhai Xing to him. Although reluctant, Ji Chong finally goes along with the plan.

Period of Enlightenment for the Couple

Prince Bo returns to Yang Kingdom and is enslaved by the Emperor Zhu Kui, although Yao Ji does all she can do protect him indirectly. Ji Chong & Zhai Xing save Prince Bo in the attempt to avoid a full-frontal war between Jin Kingdom and Yang Kingdom. Prince Bo finally agrees to seek protection for himself & the other prisoners with Jin Kingdom to ensure the other prisoners escape a life of imprisonment.

As the situation in Yang Kingdom turns unstable pursuant to Emperor Zhu Kui’s deteriorating health, Zhu You Gui, the 2nd prince takes the opportunity to revolt and takes the crown. Upon realising that Zhai Xing still harbours love for Prince Bo and she is deeply unhappy, Ji Chong finally tells her the truth of how Prince Bo has done all he can to redeem himself & puts her happiness as priority. He requests for her to stay by Prince Bo, releasing her from their political marriage & the invisible cage that she has set up.

Prince Bo intends to save his 4th brother, who is imprisoned by Zhu You Gui even though he is heavily poisoned and does not have long to live. Zhai Xing decides to sacrifice herself to ensure that the 4th Prince is saved.

The REASON to Continue Watching to the End

Darren Wang DaLu as Prince Bo/ Lang Zhai

Prince Bo/ Lang Zhai is the reason why I continued with this series to the end. A character I am totally in love with, Darren Wang Da Lu is totally the right actor for this character. As Lang Zhai, he portrays his animalistic characteristics & kindness equally. He looks a little silly in the first few episodes, almost like a lost puppy in love with the owner (in this case Ma Zhai Xing). When he turns up as Prince Bo, the personality took a serious turn with major complexity to the character. His brutality & coldness come from a need to survive but his hidden humanity & kindness do not diminish over time. It is just buried deep down.

Every action he takes are well-thought through, with the ultimate aim to save people he cares for in the best manner. It is no wonder his trio of team mates are totally loyal to him, and winning himself Yao Ji, his long-time rival too. The character development for Lang Zhai/ Prince Bo is the best. In many of the scenes, what I see is an honest person who acts & says what he thinks although his choice of words often results in misunderstanding especially from Zhai Xing. He is sincere & objective in his decisions, never wavering from what he intends to do.

Prince Bo communicates exactly what he has in his mind, but whether it is the way he communicates or perhaps it is just the clouded Zhai Xing is unable to understand any of these communication – judge for yourself. The ancient costumes look great on Prince Bo. He usually dresses in black, but also appears in a white robe. The contrast in the black & white represents his conflict, of which I prefer him in white.   

Other Characters

Li Qin as the female lead Ma Zhai Xing is pretty. She does well as the younger version of Zhai Xing, but really annoys me subsequently. Perhaps it is the character of Zhai Xing. After going through so much, I felt that she still does not learn from her experience. Her actions especially after moving to Jin Kingdom are foolish & usually endangers people around her. Although the character is written to be innocent & kind, her reliance on others & her inability to think things through just annoys me to no end. She is often clouded by her emotions. She is a damsel in distress, pretending to be a heroine. Prince Bo’s actions supposedly pushes her to be the brave princess she is obviously not. Frankly, Li Qin could have performed better to reflect her growth throughout the series. Her performance is almost stagnant throughout, as she portrays an innocent girl at the beginning and still an innocent girl after all the experiences she encounters. It is just not possible.

The chemistry between Prince Bo and Zhai Xing is great to watch. There are happy moments, bitter moments & lots of kissing scenes. The couple looks great together, but after 49 episodes of happy moments followed by tragic events, it becomes a bit too repetitive and depressing.

Xiao Zhan as Ji Chong/ 2nd Prince of Jin with his “scruffiest” look

The love rival – Ji Chong/ 2nd Prince of Jin Kingdom is portrayed by Xiao Zhan. I like Xiao Zhan, but frankly I do not think he fits the character, especially as the bounty hunter. He is just too clean-looking, and even after disclosing himself as 2nd Prince of Jin Kingdom, it just doesn’t suit him. The character is a simple one – a kind prince/ general who is into brotherhood & cares for people. Whenever he is with Zhai Xing, he is like a puppy lost in love (you can imagine Lang Zhai/ Prince Bo as the husky while Ji Chong/ 2nd Prince of Jin as a poodle :P). His redemptions – his pure existence helps Zhai Xing tides through her own foolishness and he knows when to give up & still be friends. I like the fact that he realises that he can never bring happiness to Zhai Xing and three is a crowd, deciding to release her from eternal unhappiness.

Khitan Princess Bao Na

Prince Bao Na is a likeable character with princess syndrome. Growing up as the favourite daughter of the Khitan King, she is given everything and her demanding personality reflects her upbringing. However, deep down, she has a righteous frame of mind, always thinking on behalf of those she cares for. When she falls for Ji Chong, it is very sweet.  

Yao Ji, looking like the bad-ass sorceress

Yao Ji is also a complicated character, although frankly the character development could be slightly better. Her change in her loyalty arising from her admiration for Prince Bo does seem to be stretching it. The trio of Wen Yan, Hai Die and Mo Xiao, who grow up with Prince Bo have their own personalities but remains loyal to him. Wen Yan always the dependable one, Hai Die with a streak of stubbornness but is actually a softie and Mo Xiao the simple & funny one with a lot of youthful innocence still with him. It is heart wrenching to see them trying to protect the leader of the pack.

Zhu You Zhen as the 4th Prince is like a small kid, spoilt at the beginning until he realises his own situation. I enjoyed watching his development as he grows up, faces his own father’s cruelty and still does not lose his own kindness towards others. Emperor Zhu Kui – he is a rouge and a suspicious person, always making use of others for his own benefits. A villain through and through, and his ending is not worthy of his treacherous acts.

The songs of the series are really great, especially the opening theme Who Am I? The song is partly rapped, and who would have thought it fits so nicely with the ancient settings! Totally loving the tune. 

Historical Tid-bits

The series was actually filmed in 2017, but has been delayed many times. The brief explanations given were mainly to reduce the violent scenes & historical inaccuracies. The backdrop of the series is based on real historical figures as Prince Bo/ Zhu You Wen was the adopted son of Emperor Zhu Wen of Later Liang (~ 900 AD). The historical figure was as tragic as he was ordered to be killed by Emperor Zhu Wen’s successor, Zhu You Gui.

One interesting historical information is the nasty personality of Emperor Zhu Wen whereby he was known to be an opportunistic-seeking rouge. The real situation in his palace was trickled with adultery whereby he was known to seek his sons’ wives & concubines for amorous relationship.

Conclusion 7/10

This is without a doubt, a romance series, albeit one with many violent scenes. The main reason that kept me watching is actually Prince Bo. The character development is great & the acting superb, not to mention how manly and attractive he is! The chemistry between Prince Bo & Ma Zhai Xing is good, but Zhai Xing’s character really annoys.

The political schemes are not very much explored hence the focus of the series are the relationships amongst the main characters. For a romance story to last 49 episodes, it is pushing it. If you are hoping for a thought-provoking series with strategic plots, you will be disappointed. If you are happy with a simple romance story, then go for it. Watch the series for Darren Wang as Prince Bo, and of course the beautiful songs!   

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s