Love a Lifetime (2020) 暮白首 : C-Drama Series Review

The wuxia series is a slow-burn with a solid storyline, peeling many layers of the characters as the story unfold. The main story revolves around the conflict surrounding Dragon Howling Sect which is led by its Sect Leader Rong Jing Feng. Rong Jing Feng has 2 daughters – elder Rong Su who has a cold exterior and younger Rong Hua who leads a carefree life.

Rong Hua and Lin Jing/ Nalan Yue

Lin Jing meets Rong Hua in their pursuit of the Chihua pills, both falling in love with each other. Lin Jing is the young master of Lingxu Pavilion, also known as Nalan Yue, a descendant of Nalan family. He infiltrates Dragon Howling City to investigate the death of his father at the hand of Rong Jing Feng. As the young naïve couple face the various events together, more sinister plots are uncovered and other characters are introduced.  

  • Although Rong Jing Feng is well-known in jianghu as a righteous leader, underlying his actions are more sinister plots. He twists many incidents to his advantages, and often exploits the emotions & loyalty of those close to him. His menace starts from many years ago with his betrayal of his own master – Mo Huan.
  • Mo Huan is an enigma on her own – physically looking like an innocent young girl but her complicated schemes running through minds are not something anyone can fathom.  
  • Lu Yi Zhou is Nalan Yue’s childhood friend from Lingxu Pavilion who is assisting him in his investigation. He falls in love with Rong Su and although his feelings are reciprocated, Rong Su is unable to let go of her ambition to take over as the leader of Dragon Howling Sect. Both ends up on the opposite end with the conflict escalating between Dragon Howling Sect and Lingxu Pavilion.
  • When Dragon Howling Sect goes on offensive to eliminate Lingxu Pavilion, the path both sisters Rong Su and Rong Hua take are very different. Rong Hua puts her trust fully in Nalan Yue, never doubting her future with him. Rong Su gives a lot of thoughts on the future with Lu Yi Zhou but finally decides to return her loyalty to Dragon Howling Sect.
  • Mei Ying is the descendant of the Mei family, who is cunning & aims to return the glory to his family name, which has deteriorated over time in jianghu. He has a sister Mei Xue Man whom he dotes on, but has a very different personality. Xue Man is kind-hearted and righteous. Xue Man is in love with Nalan Yue, but decides to bless the couple in love by staying sideway. However, Mei Ying continues towards a path of evil plots in his attempt to return the glory to his family, to the extent that he betrays his own family members to join Rong Jing Feng to achieve the objective.
  • Xuan Ye is Rong Hua’s assistant who is loyal but has a cold exterior. As he runs the bidding of Rong Hua, he meets Liu Li of the Snow Alliance (an organisation supplying information to jianghu). Both are attracted to each other, but keeps a distance with a promise to retire to Jiangnan upon completing their respective tasks.  
Rong Su and Lu Yi Zhou

As the story unfolds, the romance takes a step back, with the focus on Nalan Yue discovering the selfish evil plots of Rong Jing Feng. With the escalating conflicts between Dragon Howl Sect and Lingxu Pavilion, Ling Ruo Han (Nalan Yue’s mother) sacrifices herself at the behest of Mo Huan in order to save the severely injured Nalan Yue. Mo Huan uses the Chihua pill to resurrect the dying Nalan Yue who is required to practice a type of martial art which controls both the Chihua pill and “zombified” armies in the process. Although seeking protection from Mo Huan, Nalan Yue is still insistent in his persistence to seek justice for the innocents.

Lin Ruo Han – Nalan Yue’s mom

In the meantime, Rong Jing Feng continues to defend his place in jianghu, plotting further misunderstandings for Nalan Yue with other jianghu leaders. This leads to the confrontation between Dragon Howl Sect and Ling Sect. Mo Huan plays the instigator between Nalan Yue and Rong Jing Feng, keeping all parties on their toes.  

In the battles of the 2 sects, Rong Jing Feng is finally exposed for his evil plots. He is hurt but Rong Su saves & hides to protect him. Nalan Yue in his quest to manage the poison in his body, continues to practice the “zombie army” skills, hoping to maintain his own rationality. Upon Nalan Yue’s victory, his relationship with Rong Hua is tested as he does not want her to be involved as he is not confident of managing his own poison.

Villain #1 Rong Jing Feng – Founder & Leader of Dragon Howling Sect

Meanwhile, Mo Huan is still playing games behind the scenes, chasing after Rong Jing Feng. In the tripartite confrontation among Mo Huan, Nalan Yue and Rong Jing Feng. It ends with Rong Jing Feng committing suicide. Frankly, this is such a lame excuse to commit suicide, and does not fit into Rong Jing Feng’s character at all. It is quite mind-boggling that Rong Jing Feng feels sorry for himself and regretful of his previous actions, finally taking the route of suicide.

Villainous Mei Ying, who controls plum blossom trees & mazes

Mo Huan continues to play instigator in her attempt to control the jianghu. She continues to use Mei Ying, and causing both his sister Xue Man’s death, and instructing Rong Hua to kill Mei Ying. In trying to control Nalan Yue, she inserts the worm of Chihua flower into Rong Hua linking both of them together. Any injuries that she suffers will be transferred to Rong Hua. Rong Hua investigates further to kill the worms and manages to finally transform Mo Huan into her original age (very, very old), losing all her power as well.

Villain #2 Mo Huan – Major “Demoness”

The series end with Nalan Yue uniting with Rong Hua. However, Lu Yi Zhou loses his life in protecting Rong Su, while she survives her martial arts is permanently damaged. Xuan Ye manages to get his break and leaves the jiang hu to start a life with Liu Li.

Conclusion 6/10

At the beginning, the story is solid with a clear foundation of the direction of the storyline. However, half way through the series, the plots are very messy whereby the role of the villains shifts from Mo Huan to Mei Ying to Rong Jing Feng, with no clear direction on the storyline. The storyline keeps implying the reasons for the individuals’ reactions are due to their personal motives, but it is still not clear what are their motives. I am not sure whether I missed out the critical part in the explanations or the storyline is just not clear.

The strong relationship between Nalan Yue and Rong Hua is a great fundamental to the storyline, but the sub-plots and the motives for the actions taken by the individuals are not very believable.

Nalan Yue portrayed by Allen Ren Jia Lun

Ren Jia Lun portraying Nalan Yue is actually a strong actor, his attractions are really on his presence and his acting. I have first watched Ren Jia Lun in Destiny of White Snake. Zhang Hui Wen is sometimes inconsistent in her portrayal of the various roles. She is great in Nirvana in Fire 2 and Legend of Fei, these 2 roles suit her. But in her other portrayals, it is sometimes hit or miss. And in some roles, she tends to overact. Other actors and actresses are really quite average, nothing much to shout about.

Rong Hua – looks a little weak, but always finding her own solutions

In the first half of the series, I had high expectations of the series but the series really goes down hill mid-way. Unless you are a fan of messy complicated plots with no clear motives and under-developed characters, maybe better to skip this.

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