Love and Destiny

Foreign Language: Chinese
Genre: Xianxia (Romance)
Episodes: 60
Watch on Viki: http://bit.ly/2r8Epwr

Show Blurb:

Ten thousand years ago the God of War, Jiu Chen (Chang Chen), fought the vile demon lord in a battle so intense, it pushed him to the outermost edge of his limits. Desperate to save the world from the all-consuming evil of the demon lord, Jiu Chen fought with all his might and in the end, managed to seal the foul demon away for good.

Exhausted after his victory, the God of War fell into a deep slumber, his sleep a guarantee to the people that they were safe. And so they were until the young fairy maiden, Ling Xi (Ni Ni), accidentally wakes him from his slumber.

Despite his irritation at being disturbed, Jiu Chen can’t help but notice the fair maiden’s beauty. Smitten from the very beginning, the two soon fall in love but their happiness together is short-lived. Born with an evil miasma that can free the demon lord from Jiu Chen’s seal, Ling Xi is the living embodiment of everything evil in the world; her very existence, a dangerous threat to the world.

Encouraged by the gods to end the world’s suffering before it begins, Jiu Chen has two choices before him: save the woman he loves, or let the world fall to darkness. Forced to make an impossible decision, Jiu Chen struggles against his destiny, knowing that whatever he chooses, the fate of the world rests solely in his hands.

“Love and Destiny” is a 2019 historical fantasy romance drama directed by Lin Yu Fen.

Initial Introduction:

This is set in the same world as ‘Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms’ or the 3/3/10 (TMOPB) world as many call it. I will review the TMOPB show later. The basic concept of the world is that there are 3 lives lived, 3 loves (and peach forests).

Currently, we do not know if the events of TMOPB or L&D come first in the timeline of the world, but unlike the Pillow Book which will release in 2021 if the timelines they have are correct, the L&D timeline does not intersect with TMOPB like Pillow Book will.

Thoughts on the blurb from Liadan:

The premise in the blurb like with most TV shows is somewhat misleading. It doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the show, but I do wish writers would be slightly more accurate. Example: She wasn’t born with the ability to wake the demon lord or the god of war. It was something she acquired as a baby. There are more inaccuracies, but oh well…

Now it’s time to Meet the Characters.

My comments about the characters are done with Asterisks(*) and Italics below. I will not introduce every character, just the ones I feel you really need to know. I am not introducing the Demons or the Mortals at all.

The Main Characters:

Jiu Chen The God of War played by Chang Chen of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame. *His dimples are swoon-worthy. They also used a voice actor to dub his voice. Not an issue in actual enjoyment in the show, but his voice is amazing and I wish they had used it.* He wields the Kun Wu (Ancestor’s) sword. He has been asleep for 50,000 years and is awakened by Ling Xi.

Ling Xi/Lin Mo A Minor Immortal from the Peach Forest. Raised by Le Bo. Played by Ni Ni who gained fame in the 2011 movie The Flowers of War and the 2018 show The Rise of Phoenixes*Her voice is dubbed over in this but I didn’t have any issues with it when watching. Personally, I do like her natural voice and wish they had used it instead of the voice over actress, but it didn’t take away from the show at all.* The last descendant of the Dan bird tribe. Daughter of Ling Yue and Mo Huan. She was adopted by Le Bo and hidden away in the Peach Blossoms forest to prevent the Demon tribe from discovering her due to her demonic energy. Her true form is a Phoenix, waiting to be awakened.

The Peach Forest Characters:

Le Bo played by Li Yu. Owner of the Peach Blossoms Forest. A former medical officer. Ling Xi’s foster father; Qing Yao and Cheng Yan’s teacher. He is skilled in harvesting spirit cores. He was killed by Yuan Tong while escaping with Ling Xi from the heavenly guards.. *One of the most hysterical characters in the show. I can only wish I can talk as fast as he does without breathing.* 

Qing Yao played by Zhang Zhixi A descendant of the Fox tribe; her real form is a nine-tailed white fox. A medical officer at the Heavenly Palace’s Medicine King Cave. A disciple of Le Bo and Ling Xi’s senior. She is calm and mature. She harbors a grudge against Yun Feng

Cheng Yan played by Yuan Hao. A descendant of the Fox tribe; his real form is a red fox. Qing Yao’s younger brother, Ling Xi’s childhood friend.

Hua Meng played by Yu Zixuan A flower spirit who was brought to the Peach Blossoms Forest by Cheng Yan. Her real form is a knotweed root.

No Image:
Mo Huan played by Cui Peng. A descendant of the Dan bird tribe. Ling Xi’s father and Ling Yue’s husband. Le Bo’s junior. He was killed by Heng Du.

Shan Ling Characters:

Ling Yue played by Liu Qianhan. Ruler of Shan Ling tribe. A descendant of the Phoenix tribe. Ling Xi’s mother and Mo Huan’s wife. She has been separated from Ling Xi since shortly after her birth.

Jing Xiu played by Li Dongxue. *The tat-baldy (sorry I can’t take credit for the nickname. All credit goes to The Problematic of the Unproblematic blog). I like him when he has hair better.* A descendant of the Swallow tribe. Royal advisor of the Shan Ling tribe. A dark, calculating and complex man. When he was a child, he was forced to malign his father for colluding with the Demon tribe by Heng Du, causing his whole tribe to be annihilated. He is seemingly loyal to his master Ling Yue but has his own agenda. He falls in love with Lin Mo after she showered him with kindness while he was hurt

Bao Qing played by Liu Yinglun. Princess of Shan Ling Tribe. Ling Yue’s adopted daughter. A vicious and arrogant woman. She likes Jing Xiu. *There is always more than one of these characters put in just to make life miserable for those around them*

Additional Characters from the Shan Ling tribe can be viewed on the Wikipedia page here.

Heaven Characters:

Heavenly Emperor played by Huang Haibing. The ruler of the 9th heaven. *He is one of my favorites in the Heaven Tribe. He becomes more likable as a character the longer you watch the show.* 

Heavenly Supreme Lord played by Wang Qingxiang. Jiu Chen and Yun Feng’s teacher. He resides at Heaven Mountain. *This is a character that I really disliked for a while. Even though he has the best of intentions, his methods generally tend not to take emotion into account. He is the Dong Hua
Emperor of this series. (TMOPB reference)*

Yun Feng played by Li Jiaming. High immortal of the Military Department, who resides at Fei Lian Hall. Last disciple of the Heavenly Supreme Lord and Jiu Chen’s junior. He was hated by Qing Yao in the beginning because he failed to save Qing Yao’s husband, but later become lovers with Qing Yao.

Tianlei Zhenjun: Heavenly God of Thunder played by Hei Zi. He resides at Tianlei Palace. He is known for his intolerance toward evil. He aspires to be the next God of War and treats Jiu Chen like a rival. *This is a character that I both liked and hated. He really sees things in black and white and similar to the Heavenly Supreme Lord doesn’t take attachment or emotion into account when making decisions. The main thing I disliked about his character was that he allowed others to influence his thoughts. I wish he had been a little more resolute and stopped some situations earlier rather than letting them go on because the followed the direction he was thinking at the time.*

Zi Guang & Fang Sheng played by Zhao Yijie and Zhang Yan. Tianlei Zhenjun’s subordinates. *Known as the Heavenly Douche Brothers (again, sorry I can’t take credit for the nickname. All credit goes to The Problematic of the Unproblematic blog). They really need to have their collective asses kicked more than already happens.*

Kai Yang & Han Zhang played by Xu Wenhao. Jiu Chen’s subordinates. Kai Yang likes Yu Li.*Xu Wendhao did an amazing job playing these characters. You really feel that they are two different people.*

Yu Li played by Lu Jiani Daughter of the Medicine King. She admires Jiu Chen. *She annoyed me quite a bit. Not so much at the beginning because who doesn’t at some point feel a love that isn’t returned. I think when she really got annoying for me is after Jiu Chen made his intentions to marry Ling Xi clear and public that she was still unwilling to let go of her unrequited love and chase after him.*

Shi San played by Na Guangzi. A merfolk who was born genderless, and used to be a male general under Jiu Chen. When Shi San is 500 years old, he unconsciously chose to become a female immortal because of how he feels about Si Ming. She has a heavy weapon called the “Kun Jin Dang”. She is straightforward and loud and is kind at heart. *I love love love Shi San. Na Guangzi does a beautiful job of starting out as a very masculine character and moving into a more feminine character as her character progresses. I really connected to her more when she explained that her transformation from male to female wasn’t something she really chose, but something that came from deep feelings and that the change wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t really loved Si Ming.*

Si Ming played by Zhang Haiyu. Lord of Dipper of South, who is in charge of life and fate of the human realm. He resides at Si Ming palace. He is close friends with Shi San, but feels awkward around her due to her crush on him. *Si Ming is more a title than his name. At one point Shi San calls him by his name from before he became Si Ming*

Yaun Tong played by Hai Ling. One of the Four Great Generals of the Heaven Tribe. Yuan Zheng’s younger sister. She has an unrequited love for Jiu Chen. Because of her obsessiveness and jealousy, she committed many bad deeds and was ultimately banished from the Nine Heavens. *From the moment she walked on screen I didn’t like her. You knew she would cause trouble. Despite being engaged, she never acted like it and chased Jiu Chen with single-minded tunnel vision. She schemed, lied, and never could acknowledge her faults until it was too late. By the end of the show, I called her the one track bitch.*

Additional Characters from the Heavenly tribe can be viewed on the Wikipedia page here.

Characters from the Mortal Realm can be viewed on the Wikipedia page here.

Characters from the Demon Tribe can be viewed on the Wikipedia page here.

Last thoughts: I found an interesting read by the Avenue X blog that I’ll share goes into the character’s names and meanings. I love it when you understand the meaning behind the names and the symbolism that is used by the teams behind the shows.

The Review:

The moment you have been waiting for is finally here. Thank you for sticking with me.  I am going to break down my review into parts. There will be some spoilers, but I’ll try to leave them to things already known just by reading character bios, and the synopsis of the show.

The CGI:

Anyone who has watched any Chinese or Korean TV knows they love their CGI.  You also know that not all of the CGI is good. This was the case in Love and Destiny. While the CGI was better than most, they still had their fair share of the bad.

Heavenly Devouring Beast is one of the bad. (He’s kind of loveable but not the best CGI work).

Wu Wan in his larger form is among the good.

Wu Wan in his tiny form is adorable and who cares if it’s tacky at times. You can’t help but fall in love with the little fluff ball. I mean it’s he’s the corgi of the gods. What’s not to love.

There is so much more with the CGI to love and hate. It took me a while to warm up to Jiu Chen’s Dragon form, and Ling Xi’s phoenix form when not on fire is rather scary.  That being said, they did a good job for the most part of integrating the CGI into the show, and it’s mostly seamless… mostly… I give them 4 stars for the CGI.

The Sets:

Compared to TMOPB, the sets in Love and Destiny were a huge upgrade. Instead of feeling that they had 2-3 rooms that were reused over and over, each place had its own look and feel.  In addition, none of the sets had the absolutely claustrophobic feel that you got in some of the places with TMOPB. I also really liked that in the Love and Destiny version of Heaven that the buildings each had their own unique feel. You could tell just by looking at the place where you were instead of trying to guess was this Ye Hua or Su Jin or Dong Hua Emperor’s hall and palace. You knew instinctively that you were at the Polar Abyss or  Fei Lian Hall. You knew if you were in the medicine hall or in the Yuan ancestor shrine hall.  Below are some of the sets and locations.

The South Gate of 9th Heaven

The Immortal Cleansing Pool

Aerial view of the Peach Forest

Inside the Peach Forest

The Polar Abyss. Jiu Chen’s Ancestral Home

Fei Lian Hall. Jiu Chens heavenly hall.

Overall, this is probably my favorite show for set design I’ve watched so far.  I have to give them 5 stars for the sets.

Costumes:

I love costumes. I’ve seen many shows succeed or fail based on the costumes alone. The range of costumes worn by the main characters really fit the overall story arc so much better than some other shows where the characters are in the same 2-3 costumes for the entire show.  The money spent on the costumes of the characters was a great investment. Not only did the styles and colors complement the characters, but they also helped convey to the viewer the general development of the character. I won’t go into expressive detail as there are Pinterest, Weibo, and various other boards devoted to every outfit worn by Ni Ni and Chang Chen in the show.

For Ling Xi, it shows her character growth as her clothing grows up as she matures. She goes from an immature fairy with no worries to a more studious character through her mortal arc, and finally into a stately High God who not only knows her own mind and worth but how she should be treated by others. The clothing also follows this arc. The colors and range of styles not only are beautiful but at times I wish I could have most if not all of her mortal and final arc costumes.  There are a few of the royal dresses that I could skip, but there are also a number that I would love to have.

For Jiu Chen, he transitions to someone who has grown up like a rock to someone who is willing to show emotion. When we first meet him, he is woken from 50,000 years of sleep. He had expended himself in order to not only seal away the Demon King but to bring peace to the 8 wildernesses and 9 heavens. He utilized the last of his energy to be a counterstroke to the Demon King possessing Ling Xi and returning to cause chaos to the rest of the world. We see him slowly melt from the icy exterior and stony pretense he uses, to by the time Ling Xi is sent to the Mortal Realm someone who if not entirely is deeply in love, is well on the path to being so. We see him battle jealousy through Ling Xi’s mortal arc and the greens used are apt for this. As we see him fully secure in his feelings towards the end of the mortal arc do we see his clothing also reflect this state. In the final arc, we see his clothing reflect his boyish enthusiasm for his upcoming wedding, and the ability to spend his life with Ling Xi. These are some of my favorite costumes he wears.

I have to give the costumes 5 Stars.

Plot:

The overreaching story arc of Love and Destiny was well done. I know the writers tried to replicate the magic they found in TMOPB, and overall I have to say they did a fairly good job. The sticking points for me came from the overwhelming number of characters brought in to disrupt the main story arc. Not only did we had 2-3 women chasing Jiu Chen almost the entire show, but with the mortal arc instead of really displaying and growing the bond between Ling Xi and Jiu Chen, they felt it necessary to bring in someone who develops feelings for Lin Mo and can’t accept that she doesn’t feel the same, but then also makes Jiu Chen seem like less of a man than he really is. It was almost enough at times to destroy all the work they had done to make you connect to him.

I would say that about 85% of the content of the show was needed, leaving us with 15% that they could have cut and had a better show. With this, the plot gets 4.25 stars from me.

Romance Factor:

One of the big reasons I’ve started watching Korean and Chinese shows is that they slow burn the romance, and build it over time. Case in point in one show I recently watched (Princess Agents) the first kiss comes in 48 episodes into the show.  This aspect gives you time to not only ship (Shipping is the act of wanting two or more fictional characters or celebrities to end up in a relationship, usually romantic.) the OTP (One True Pairing) but invest yourself in the love story fully. It also makes for some really awkward  OTP interactions early on.  With the side love stories especially found in the 3/3/10 universe, you also have some shipping going on. For example, once you learn that Kai Yang has the hots for Yu Li, you start hoping that you see him pursue her and win her heart (and in the meantime eliminate one of the roadblocks for the OTP of the story). Love and Destiny not only excels at the slow romance but the small smiles, looks, and kissing is something you feel. There is no tear each other’s clothes off in the first episode, no raunchy sex, no groping. It’s pure sweet love.

It’s the love you cheer for. It’s the love that when fully realized you feel cheated that you didn’t get more.

It’s a love that you know will last forever. A love you are jealous that you don’t have (I’m lucky I feel mine is like this).

Obviously, I loved the romance and love story so this gets 5 stars.

Overall Reaction:

Overall I would give the show 4.75 stars. The writers, directors, and actors all did a fabulous job in drawing me into their world. Their Fantasy became my reality for 60 episodes. I laughed, I cried, I raged. One thing you will want to make sure of is that you have a box or two of tissues at the ready if you watch this show.

If you’ve watched the show I’d like to know if you agree or disagree with anything. Let’s chat in the comments! Also, let me know if you watched the show because of this review.

1 Comment

Filed under Chinese, Compassion, Faith, Fantasy, Foreign Language, Good Will, Goodness, Hope, Humanity, Kindness, Love, Loyalty, Magic, Mythology, Trials, TV Show

One response to “Love and Destiny

  1. Pingback: Checking In | Left at the Door

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