The series is a modern series with the focus on the in and outs of life of ordinary policemen in Bai Li He Police Station. The original attraction to the series is due to Zhang Ruo Yun (of Joy of Life and Snow Sword Stride fame), whom I really like as an actor. Surprisingly, this gem of a series showcases many different individual personalities, and their struggle with daily life. Very much reflective of the different social life in society.
The father figure of the station, Wang Shou Ying, outwardly seems like selfish chief with many faces – smiley with the higher up authority, cajoling the subordinates to do his bidding and strict with the new recruits. However, behind the outer façade, he is really a very caring chief who tries his very best in managing people. In actual fact, you can really learn a thing or two about leadership from this shrewd and cunning chief.
The series start off with the introduction of the 4 new recruits of Bai Li He Police Station. The series follow through the lenses of these youth, when they are paired off with a master. The process seems simple, but Chief Wang has given a lot of thoughts to the pairing.
- Zhao Ji Wei (portrayed by Cao Lu), an enthusiastic graduate recruit from rural county eager to please. Ji Wei is paired off with the ever helpful & humble Zhang Zhi Jie who manages the community issues.
- Xia Jie (portrayed by Bai Lu), the daughter of an ex-policeman who died in the line of duty. Hence, she is heavily protected by her mother, and all the other deputy chiefs. She is paired off with Cheng Hao, previously the disciple of Xia Jie’s father hence ensuring the connectivity with the past.
- Yang Shu (portrayed by Xu Kai Cheng – the handsome Emperor Di Xu of Novoland : Pearl Eclipse!), a Peking University graduate (equivalent to Ivy-League university standard in the US) to experience on-the-ground experiences. Yang Shu is paired off with a hardy policeman Cao Jian Jun, who is also a little arrogant but dedicated to his profession.
- Li Da Wei, a happy-go-lucky youth who joins the police force as requested by his mother to discipline himself. Da Wei is paired off with a grumpy veteran Chen Xin Cheng (portrayed by Ning Li of The Last One Standing).
The master-disciple relationship starts off shakily for all the youth, but slowly builds the foundation for these youth. Through the daily interactions, these youth begin to understand and empathise with their masters’ personality and actions in their daily work.
Sunshine Disciple, Grumpy Master
Da Wei’s pairing with the grumpy and jaded Xin Cheng is a forced master-disciple relationship by no other than Chief Wang. The ever optimistic Da Wei brings out the worst in Xin Cheng, before turning him over as a great master. As Da Wei proudly explains, he has been practising on taking criticism and managing failures since young (since he is not great academically) hence this leads to him having a more positive and optimistic views of various situation. His enthusiastic optimism does rub on to many people – mainly on his own master and his new colleagues. Da Wei’s optimism is also inherited from his mother, always happily laughing with a sunshine view of the situation. Although Da Wei has an issue with his absentee of a father, he finally mends his relationship when he realises his father’s terminal illness and his mother’s embracing her husband’s personality. With the influence from Da Wei, Xin Cheng faces his own demon from the past, and makes amend with his own daughter. Over time, his passion returns to his dedication to be a great policeman.
Zhang Ruo Yun takes a short crew cut to be able to portray the naivete of a 22-year- old young lad (vs his own age of 30ish), and it does work. Other than the slight tell-tale wrinkle by at the side of his eyes, he successfully portrays the youthful character very well. My only concern is he has lost so much weight! The weight loss is actually observed in his other series Sword Snow Stride, but in this modern series whereby he has to don thinner clothing, his gaunt face and almost skeletal small built is really a concern. Mind you, filming will obviously add a few more kilograms to the already skinny built. I hope he is not working too hard and neglect his own health.
Ning Li veteran actor portrays master Xin Cheng. I have watched his performances in The Last One Standing, The Long Night, Bad Kids and even Legend of Xiao Chuo. A great actor who is able to bring out very different characters in each of these series with significant variety of characters. He is good in picking his collaboration. Looking forward to more of his acting.
Righteous Disciple, Conceited Master
Yang Shu’s character is the righteous type, and what a tall and suave Xu Kai Cheng in portraying the uniformed youth. Yang Shu’s character is almost at odd immediately with his master, Cao Jian Jun, who is a little bit of a brag, uncouth and sometimes a little selfish to gain merits for himself. Although Jian Jun’s background especially his loathsome & condescending mother-in-law do contribute towards his attitude in life, I wholeheartedly agree with Chief Wang that it is really the personality that drives his behaviour. At the beginning, the introverted Yang Shu is immediately turned off with his master’s behaviour in pushing away the blame and not taking responsibility. However, he relents slightly to empathise with his master – giving him some glimpse of what makes his master behaves in certain way. With such lenses, Yang Shu begins to appreciate his master’s dedication to his profession and his keen sense of observation & analytical skills with very little clues.
Jian Jun’s ego and conceit really colours his own perception, resulting in his own downfall. It was so sad to see how Jian Jun in his drunkenness takes the wrong path, one small slip by another, leading him to a state of no return. It is sadder still to see how Yang Shu tries his best to steer his master out of the quandary unsuccessfully.
Jian Jun’s downfall can be seen in two perspectives. His stubbornness to give up his passion for his profession drives him to extreme, still neglecting a great wife and daughter to volunteer to assist the police force. Chief Wang’s steering to push him away backfired, and the more Jian Jun is pushed away, the more he tries to volunteer. And ending up dead, in protecting the young inexperienced Da Wei on the line of duty. I am conflicted with his reaction towards his drunken mistakes. He has been punished, and should move on to cherish other parts of his life (other than being a committed and dedicated policeman). Instead, he chooses to stay on for whatever reason, which I surmise must be due to his own ego. Very sad ending.
What I didn’t like is how they have steered the story post Jian Jun’s dismissal, whereby Yang Shu is transferred out from the station. Yang Shu’s character is written to be passive, and instead of being the pillar of support for his master, he disappears. I love Xu Kai Cheng’s portrayal of Yang Shu, but I didn’t like the development of Yang Shu’s character post his master’s dismissal. It feels surreal, and to make it worse, they brought him back to the station in the last episode! Too abrupt, too soon, too unrealistic. And the emotions just don’t add up.
Real Ordinary Greatness in Disciple & Master
At first, Ji Wei is anxious to contribute and gain merits. It doesn’t help his case that his master manages community cases, whereby he sees only triviality and not the heavy-duty and adrenaline-pumping criminal cases. As Ji Wei observes more of the happening of the community and his master’s approach to the community – he realises his master only has servitude towards the community and society in general, regardless of their station in life. He slowly understands the importance of the mundane observations and the building of relationship over time in a community. In a way, it brings back the old style of camaraderie within a community albeit in a modern set up.
Ji Wei’s master motivates him to use his “ordinary elements” to assist other departments within the police force, without being anxious for getting merits.
Eager Disciple, Over-protective Master
Xia Jie’s journey is a little more wrapped along her past, and her unyielding, overbearing and over-protective mother. A little more introverted, Xia Jie finds it suffocating to maintain the relationship with her mother, and to get the opportunities to explore out of her comfort zone at work. The guilt of her master Cheng Hao somehow turns into a protective zone for her too, and pushes her further away. It takes a little bit of acceptance and a lot of communication to send the messages to her mother and the other senior policemen to give her more opportunities to explore.
Bai Lu seems a little off as the introverted Xia Jie, and her portrayal sometimes goes hay-wire. Xia Jie’s character is similar to Yang Shu, introvert and deep-thinker, a little more self-absorbed. However, her perspectives are broaden upon getting involved in other department and sees for her ownself how each police department is special and still able to help the society.
Generally, the series gives some food for thoughts on the centuries old style of master-disciple relationship, which is no longer in favour in today’s world. Through the lenses of both the master and disciple, the relationship obviously works in many areas in the modern world – similar to mentor and mentee relationship, but with a lot more passion and sincerity in them instead of the human resource mantra thrown in the corporate world. As much as the masters have their vast experiences to share, the youngsters equally have bright ideas & youthful enthusiasm to rub off on these jaded seniors. It is really a lovely and thoughtful pairing, especially in such stressful profession.
The cases showcased in the series are quite different and very interesting with bits and pieces of legal regulations strewn in.
- Legal actions on aggressive elderlies – I am very surprised that taking legal action against elderlies over 70s is a difficult journey, especially if they are disruptive and even belligerent & aggressive.
- Filial piety is also examined, but I cringed a little with the stance that the series take on society’s expectation on the children to take care of their elderly parents regardless of how the parents treated the child in the past.
- Scamming – Another interesting case, whereby lonely rich women are cheated of their valuables. To make matter worse, they have a full class (and slogan chanting too!) to teach and guide scammers on how to scam. I am sure this is a real issue, as on a daily basis if you read the newspaper, there are just so many gullible people falling into the trap. It is just despicable of these scammers, and the route to track these criminals – interesting! Trust the wayward Da Wei to suggest a counter-attack on these scammers by pretending to be a victim!
- Rape cases – I am a little shocked at how rape cases are handled, with very little empathy for the victim. I felt really sorry for the victims, and they did not have women police officers to handle the more sensitive interviews. Not surprised, but am hoping that more can be done to improve the way the cases are being managed.
A very surprising series which tugged at your heart. 38 episode all in, the early part is light-hearted and grows on me. The middle part becomes a part of daily life. However, the ending seems a little too abrupt and rushed.
I really like the way people and scenes are portrayed in the series. It feels more realistic, rather than the focus on the rich and middle-income earners with their emotional baggage. I really love the idea of having the master-disciple relationship in such profession. I love the way that the series focuses on family relationship & society’s daily life. Romance is slightly hinted, but never seriously explored. My only grouse is how Yang Shu-Cao Jian Jun’s ending came about.
BUT, I guess you can’t win on all fronts. The series is really good, definitely worth it for you to binge.