Under The Power 锦衣之下 (2018) : C-Drama Series Review

Main Poster of Under the Power

The 55-episodes series focus on 2 different dimensions – the interesting cases that are under investigation with one leading to another and the love stories of the characters as they face the journey through the investigations. The series is set in Ming Dynasty under the rule of Emperor Jia Jing. 

Lu Yi is a Royal Embroidered Guard, who is entrusted by the emperor to investigate the loss of a national treasure map, suspected fallen into the hands of the pirates. As he commences the investigations, he meets the cheery but keenly observant Yuan Jin Xia, a constable from the Six Door Department (local investigation unit). Both characters are as different as night and day, one showing little emotions while another cheery and passionate about life. Both get to know each other better as they journey through the various cases:

Case of the Lost Treasures & the Ghost Ship

Lu Yi’s investigation crosses path with Six Door Department’s constables Yuan Jin Xia and Yang Yue, who are officially recruited to assist him in his quest to find clues to the missing lost map & treasures. The case brings them onboard a ship, encountering a ghost ship along the way which is designed with various mechanics to be automatically driven. Cracking the case, they managed to capture the culprit alive but he refuses to identify the mastermind.

Lu Yi as Royal Embroidered Guard

Caught in the midst of lost treasures is Xie Xiao who designed the ghost ship in his attempt to rob the rich for the poor, the sole descendant of the transportation Wu An Group. Prior to that, he leaves home to escape the engagement to Shang Guan Xi, who is now the acting head of Wu An Group. Lu Yi’s good friend Yang Yue is immediately smitten with Shang Guan Xi, while Xie Xiao is head over heels in love with Jin Xia, shadowing her everywhere.  

Case of the Revengeful Singer of Chunxi Troupe

As the captured prisoner from the ship dies mysteriously in the prison with no clues on the cause, Lu Yi & Jin Xia observe similar situation with a mysterious story on the sudden death of the singer of opera Chunxi Troupe during her performance. Further investigation leads the two to an abandoned mansion whereby they started having hallucination. They escape the hallucination which is mainly driven by the sound.

Saving the cat from the rain is most important!

As they try to draw out the culprit, a confrontation with a courtesan Zhan Lan Ye (who is also Shang Guan Xi’s good friend) arise. Yan Shi Fan who is Lu Yi’s adversary in the capital city appears during the confrontation, seemingly capturing Zhan Lan Ye. Zhan Lan Ye admits to committing the murders by inserting a needle into the neck of the victims. She fakes her death, but is saved by Yan Shi Fan, whom she is working for behind the scene.

Case of the Blue Flower Poison

With the murdered prisoner, Lu Yi tracks other clues to pirates along the southern coastal cities. As they face off with these pirates, they are led to a remote village whereby there seems to be mad men who attacks anyone they see. The remaining villagers who are not infected captures Lu Yi & Jin Xia, assuming they are the reason for the situation, incited by the Taoist priest Lan Qing Xuan.

Taoist priest Lan Qing Xuan

While imprisoned, Lu Yi & Jin Xia meets Gai Shu (who is also Lu Yi’s granduncle) who is well-versed in poison and invents the Blue Flower poison which infected the villagers to be mad. They managed to escape the prison via the waterway underneath, only to face off with Mao Hai Feng’s troop of pirates. Lu Yi is hurt & heavily poisoned while trying to protect Jin Xia.

Guided by Gai Shu, they look for physician Lin Ling who is based in the Maple-Tree Forest. In order to find the cure for Lu Yi, Jin Xia willingly be the guinea pig to re-create the poison & corresponding cure. Both survive the poison scare and heads back to the city together with Gai Shu and physician Lin Ling.

Case of Immortal Elixir Pill

When the emperor is poisoned, Dan Qing Taoist Master Yuan Ming (Lan Qing Xuan’s teacher) is suspected and Lu Yi is sent to investigate. When disciples in the temple are murdered, all clues point towards Master Yuan Ming.

Too drunk to go home on her own

Master Yuan Ming is obsessed with creating an immortal pill based on an incomplete medical book obtained from Lin Ling’s master previously. Ultimately, he is killed but caused the downfall of Dang Qing Temple. A highly disappointed Lan Qing Xuan offers Lu Yi to assist him to investigate the real culprit by infiltrating the palace.  

Case of the Mining for Explosives & Impersonator

Going down to Hang Zhou, Lu Yi meets up with his maternal family. His cousin, Chun Yu Min falls in love with Jin Xia who is dressed as male. However, she is married off to the masked Si Ma Cheng, who is rumoured to be an ugly man but is actually Yan Shi Fan impersonating in the city of Hang Zhou. Her whole family is killed in the process, and she harbours revenge towards Jin Xia whom she blames for the unfortunate incident.  

Saving Jin Xia from the grasp of Yan Shi Fan

Troop of pirates kidnapped the nobles during a festival requesting for ransom. In the subsequent rescue mission, Yang Yue falls off the cliff while protecting Shang Guan Xi. Shang Guan Xi finally realises how important Yang Yue is to her, searching for him beneath the cliff. Both are finally reunited, and realises their love for each other.  

Shang Guan Xi is actually very pretty, although a little too serious

Subsequently, Lu Yi traces the pirates to a mining cave which is commissioned by Yan Shi Fan to assemble explosives. But there is inadequate evidence to pin him down.

Case of the Battle of Wits with Pirates

In the midst, Lu Yi is commissioned to assist General Yu & General Qi to battle the coastal pirates. At the same time, the pirates also attack the city of Yangzhou whereby only female, elderly and children are residing as the army battles the pirates at the coast.

Xie Xiao provides his expertise in mechanical engineering to battle the pirates at the sea, cooperating with Lu Yi to plant the attack on the pirates’ ships. Their strategy is successful and they returned injured but victorious.

Xie Xiao – always trailing Yuan Jin Xia

At the same time, General Qi’s wife is challenged to protect the city of Yangzhou with limited resources, with the help of Jin Xia. She gathers all the resources & employs scare tactic for a do-or-die battle with the pirates. The city residents manage to protect the city while waiting for the coastal army to render assistance, driving the pirates away for a resounding victory.

Case of the Persecuted Xia Family during Summer

As Lu Yi and Jin Xia returns to the capital city, physician Lin Ling finally traces her lost niece to Jin Xia. Lin Ling explains their family background – the family of Xia Ran, an official who is persecuted years ago and the whole family are executed. Physician Lin Ling escapes with the help of Gai Shu while Jin Xia is lost as a child.

Lu Yi purposely leaves Jin Xia as he is aware of his own father’s involvement in the persecution of the Xia’s family. However, he forsakes everything to save Jin Xia even at the expense of his own pride and the evidence against Yan Shi Fan.

Lu Ting provides the evidence to Jin Xia for her to reverse persecution against the Xia Family. Lu Yi takes it upon himself to present the case to the emperor. Although the emperor acknowledges the case for Xia family, he imprisons Lu Yi in anger, only pardoning him at a later stage.  

The story ends with Jin Xia reuniting with Lu Yi at the gate of the prison, heading to their forever home. Yang Yue and Shang Guan Xi got married and expects a child, while Xie Xiao joins the army at the coast.

Muses on Characters

The male and female leads have great chemistry. One is cold, the other is passionate. Both are open-minded & empathetic. It is great that the couple does not fall in love at first sight, but over the journey as they take up the challenges in their investigations. When their path crosses, their encounters provide plenty of opportunities for them to get to know each other better.  Both willingly sacrifice their lives for each other throughout.

Allen Ren Jia Lun is very suitable for the cold-looking Lu Yi, who harbours deep connection with people close to him and holds true to his own principles – seeking the truth, fairness & equality. My only complaint – the series provide so many scenes for Lu Yi to look “cool” that it gets a bit tiring after a while.

Tan Song Yun portrays the role of Yuan Jin Xia with aplomb as she is able to bring out the mischievous side of the character, but also the considerate & selfless character. The character is really lovable. Understanding, forgiving, empathetic, chivalrous. I really like that she solves her own problem based on her own ability, never a damsel in distress waiting for help. Her keen observations & analysis are her strengths, and her very sweet-talks are what makes her such a people-person.

Yang Yue & Shang Guan Xi – 2nd couple

The second leads – Yang Yue and Shang Guan Xi are a little melancholic, but the journey is a positive one whereby both explore their own love lives that lead them to their own happiness. Happiness is to be sought after, and it is a choice rather than leaving it to fate.

Xie Xiao is a nice character to follow, as he journeys through his immaturity through rejection, realising his responsibilities & real passion at the end.

The villain Yan Shi Fan is a real historical figure, and in the series an interesting character. His obsession with Lin Ling drives his lust for women, always searching for women with a specific feet measurement. His hunger for power and more riches drives him to forsake his own country.

Han Dong as villain Yan Shi Fan

Other Muses

I really like that the women are portrayed as having more rights and freedom in the dynasty. Good example – women are able to be government officers.

There are also many mechanisms shown in the series, catering towards mechanical engineering as a key invention during the dynasty.

The fight against the coastal pirates were real historical challenge.

During Emperor Jia Jing’s rule, he is known as a cruel & suspicious ruler, who believes in Taoism. He also constantly seeks immortality, and his death is suspected to be linked with poisoning.

Conclusion 8/10

The series is a surprise for me, as I find it the cases engrossing & very interesting. I also like the characters very much as they are positive and never wallowing in self-pity. The love story is well-portrayed with lots of scenes to be fond of. Watch it for these 3 reasons.

Can the series be better? Perhaps cutting down on the episodes (especially the flashback) will make the series an edgier watch. Meanwhile, enjoy the slower pacing especially if you are into love stories. Fans of Allen Ren and Tan Song Yun will be elated.

I actually watched Allen Ren’s Love a Lifetime which is released later in 2020, whereby he is paired off with Zhang Hui Wen. I have to say the chemistry with Tan Song Yun is way better, and this series is definitely a better series.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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