[Drama Review] Cruel Romance

錦繡緣•華麗冒險 Cruel Romance (C-Drama)

Cruel Romance definitely got a lot of buzz both internationally and inside the mainland China. And why wouldn’t it? It got the most makjang drama ever with Huang Xiaoming, the superstar actor of China, and Chen Qiao En, the Queen of dramas’ chemistry with her lead. AND there are so many cute handsome boys including Kimi Qiao and Qi Ji. Plus, the promotional tactics were no joke.

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No. of episodes: 40

Broadcast period: March 2015

Broadcast TV: Hunan (you can watch their Happy Camp promotion here)

Actors involved: Huang Xiaoming, Chen Qiao En, Kimi Qiao, Qi Ji, Tse Kwang Ho, Lu Jia Rong, Yang Le.

Synopsis (from Dramawiki):

Adapted from a Republican-era novel called “The Fate of Jinxiu”, Cruel Romance tells the story of Rong Jinxiu (Chen Qiao En, a country girl who travels to Shanghai in order to discover why her entire family was killed. Along the way, she meets triad leader Zuo Zhen (Huang Xiao Ming), and after a series of accidents and misunderstandings, the two fall in love. Also vying for Jinxiu’s attention is businessman Xiang Yingdong, a businessman and close friend of Zuo Zhen. Ever protective of his woman, however, Zuo Zhen refuses to let other men even come close to Jinxiu – which ultimately pays off when a villainous Japanese man tries to finish off Jinxiu and her remaining family members.

My opinion:

Ok. There is soooo much to talk about in this drama. So let’s dissect everything little bit by little bit, starting with the actors and their characters. (spoiler alerts!)


Huang Xiaoming as Zuo Zhen (or Er Ye or 2nd Master): Well, I am guessing this character didn’t fall in love often. At the beginning of the series (lets say the first 5 episodes), he looked like the perfect boyfriend. He is ready to proclaim our heroine as his women to the whole world and does multiple grand gestures like saving her life to prove his trust worth. He also does things for her without trying to take credits (find her a house, a job, a hotel to live in). He doesn’t even look at any other women, even if he is a mafia boss. Talk about commitment. Then, very soon, we see that this big prince charming is actually a macho stalker who doesn’t understand anything in love. He listens to his ‘brothers’ give him love tips that makes no sense (e.g. Let her call you big brother and very fast, you guys will become a family and then a couple =_=). No seriously, those tips will not work. He stalks everywhere. You may think it is sweet he is always there to save her day but NO! he is fcking there all the time, everywhere, 24/07. I mean, seriously, don’t you have a mafia world to rule? Your love life is running the lives of your subordinates. Get your priority straights!


Chen Qiao En as Rong Jin Xiu: She is the typical most stupid and annoying character you  will find yourself rooting for. From the first few episodes, we see her go through some horrible stuffs: she lose her parents because Japanese people cane to find a clock (which by the way is not even that valuable), and then we see her being rejected by her own sister who says she is responsible for all her miseries before she became the luckiest girl in town. So, with all these wake up situations, she should become stronger right? Beep again. No, she is still that stupid innocent girl who would rather put herself and her loved ones in danger than to put the life of her enemies in peril. And of course, she doesn’t need to wake up (at least not for the first half of the drama) because Zuo Zhen is always there to protect her from the harsh reality. Awe =_= (facepalm: dude, you are not helping). She has a lot of sad and happy situations coming throughout the series: When she became poor, when she lost her baby, when she thinks Zuo Zhen killed her parents. BUT still, she will always have more happy scenes: EVERY MEN (except maybe like what 2?) fall in love with her, protects her from the harsh ‘Shanghai’ lifestyle and proclaims if she chose them, she will be happy forever. If I was her, I would chose randomly cause they are all perfect (except maybe the Japanese character, but hey, he is the enemy). Also, I didn’t like how her characters changed so much (and without any development in between) as soon as she leaves ZZ to become a patriote who wants to protect China. I mean come on! what about the annoying innocent girl from the beginning? Anyway, let’s move on.


Kimi Qiao as Xiang Ying Dong (or Ying Shao or Master Ying): Ok, this character has to be the most annoying from the whole drama. First, let me just say that Kimi Qiao had a lot of charm in my eyes before this drama. After seeing his performance from Legend of Luzhen as the young and reasonable emperor, I was really curious to see him play a bad boy. Ooooh the disappointment. The character of XYD is so bad I wanna slap his face throughout the drama. First, he is in love with his brother’s fiancee (and later wife). His brother sacrificed so much for his happiness, but in exchange, he is just playing the spoiled brat with no good intentions. At the beginning, it is learned that when he heard his brother’s relationship with Ming Zhu, he is so heart broken he decides to leave for Paris (without even a proper discussion with the girl to see WHY she chose the other man). Escaping from his reality. Then, when he gets back, all his energy is spend on having fun, hurting his loved ones’ feelings and trying to get Ming Zhu back. When that becomes unsuccessful, he becomes semi-attracted to Jin Xiu. v_v sigh Also, although he is best friend with Zuo Zhen who also helped him multiple time during his life, he still chose to go against him (even when he knows ZZ loves JX and he should back off) and later allies himself with JX to try to kill his best friend ZZ.

Qi Ji as Maeda Ryuichi: Did anyone fall for him at first? keke :3 No but seriously, I have being so messed up by the average drama that when I saw his cutie pie face at the first episode, I immediately assumed that he must actually be a good guy or will become one in the near future. I mean… “Look at that face, you look like my next mistake”. Yop. So this character I first liked for being handsome and second for actually having good acting skills to go with the story, became the worst enemy in C-dramaland ever. After realizing how horrible he is, we start to hate him for all the atrocities he is doing to the other characters, especially Ming Zhu whom he both rape, sells to other and drugs:/ Of course, he is too in love with Jin Xiu to do anything bad to her and instead, become creates a useless competition between him and ZZ. Happy his ex-girlfriend died because she probably would not want to see him in such a poor mental state. He is a basic psychopath and *spoiler* I am happy he died at the end.


Tse Kwang Ho as Xiang Han Chuang: My favorite character! The only sane one who is consistent throughout the drama (*spoiler* so sad he had to die at the end). I don’t have much to say about this character since he is obviously not as present as the remaining cast in all the plotting and crimes. He is the most powerful businessman of Shanghai and a great man of the family (to both his brother and his fiancee). He always tried to make the good decisions and even gives ZZ recommendation on how to handle difficult situations. He is always there to back up his brother, even if his ideas are stupid. He is so in love for Ming Zhu that he is ready to give up his life for her and thus creating the most heart breaking scene in the last two episodes :’D. I wish he was better at handling his familiar situation and showing to the world that his woman is HIS (oh, and also, it would be great if he realized what kind of bad things happened to Ming Zhu so that he could help her earlier on).


Lu Jia Rong as Yin Ming Zhu: To be frank, I definitely prefer her over Jin Xiu (who by the way is her little sister). As a child, she had to leave her happy family because her mother is too selfish to let her be happy (ok, actually because her mother is jealous of Jin Xiu and her mom. She was exiled for trying to poison JX’s mom). So, early, she lost her family, lost her mother (who committed suicide), became a kind of prostitute (or singer for wealthy men), and was saved by the big bad wolf, a Japanese called Maeda. dun dun dun. So, because of her poor state, she does a lot of bad things (since she is basically the Japanese people’s slave). Then, she falls in love with Ying Dong and thinks she can finally be happy. But he doesn’t know how to love someone (as he is too childish) and, under Maeda’s influence, has to chose Han Chuang. She is unhappy because she is blind to happiness. Later on, when she finally meets her blood sister again, she is too blind by psycho trauma to accept her back in her life. She goes through more hardship, gets raped and used, learn to love her husband and finally was able to be happy (for a short period since her husband dies). She makes peace with everyone at the end. :’D

Themes: I can definitely see a lot of themes from this drama: family, honor, brotherhood, friendship, love, money, principles. BUT there is probably nothing constructive to learn about these themes because 1) everyone dies, 2) it is a sad ending and 3) there are too many plot holes to make sense out of the story.

Plot holes: There are so many plot holes that I can’t even… (or I don’t want to revive them, that would hurt my head to no end). So I am just going to focus on two specific ones that even today bugs me: How come they burned the opium when they wanted to get ride of it? Hello? You are not supposed to smell opium or else you will get addicted yourself. And 2nd, why is everyone so insensible when something bad happens (example when innocent people are killed).

Recommendation? Sure! Why not, but maybe just the first 10 episodes. The drama is really addicting, but at some level, it will make you want to facepalm yourself at every 5 minutes. You realize very fast that the drama has too many plot holes for its potential.

Here is a SHORT RECAP of the whole story.


I started as an innocent girl who was scared by everything in life. I am like the little sheep waiting to fall for the wolf.


I am working as a maid in a hotel. Which is really a hard job. See my beautiful cloth? That’s because Ying Shao doesn’t want me to do chores in his hotel. I am so depressed.


As for now, nope, I have no interest in you.


Stop trying. I know you have been stalking me


WHAT? Who dare stop my perfect (not so much) STALKING?


I know my best friend loves you, but let me flirt with you too!


Another time!


I am even proposing to her, my BF’s woman. No no, I am not selfish at all!


Now that I am with ZZ, I should act as a true lady. Hey, this girl wants to offer me a bag with a bomb, I should accept it without checking.


We are not rich, but together. That’s all that matters!


I know, Angelababy is sooo lucky! Hum, I meant Jin Xiu, of course.


I look good shirtless too. Did you see my tattos? Ohhnn, you perv.


Here is my girlfriend! What she looks like Jin Xiu? No no, she is mine.


See? she is in my arms!


I am Ming Zhu the most envied girl in Shanghai because I have everything I want, even macarons (or are these cupcakes?) But I still love my brother-in-law and work for the Japanese because I just can’t accept happiness.


I am your husband, the most powerful man in Shanghai, and I will not allow your romance with my younger brother. Or will I? mmmm


Meanwhile, Zuo Zhen, like in all good boyfriend, is kidnapping his girlfriend … like she is a bag of rice?


I wanna help you even if I have pretty much no fighting skills. No, that’s not true. After one year only, I became an elite at fighting the Japanese.

12 thoughts on “[Drama Review] Cruel Romance

  1. humbledaisy1 says:

    I’ve been watching this with a discussion group on Facebook and we all wondered – are those Qi Ji’s real tattoos? I am really bummed he is still evil.


  2. humbledaisy1 says:

    I came to this drama for Qi Ji and as long as his character was alive, I hung in there. There’s a reason why it too so long for him to die!


    • archidisign says:

      Haha. I wish I could say the same. He was definitely an important factor for me watching although I gave up after the *spoiler*rape scene. Anyhow, he is a great actor and I wish he will play a good guy again in his next project. I mean did you see how charming he was in Cuo Dian Yuan Yang?😛

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lizzie says:

    I actually quite enjoyed this show and I thought that JX was quite in line with her character of a sheltered young lady from a decent, upper middle class, educated family. She is by no means street smart and definitely a busybody but i could deal with it as that was consistent. In real life, I can understand her hesitation to falling for a triad boss who has no boundaries and is obviously emotionally handicapped? Where the show lost me was when she misunderstood ZZ for killing her parents and then joining the resistance. That part was just misguided – I did however finish the show unlike ROTCH2014 and Perfect Couple. Joe Chen does not annoy me as much as Tang Yan does!


    • archidisign says:

      I loved Joe Chen in most of her Taiwanese dramas and two of her Chinese dramas (Swordsman and Queen of SOP). However, with a few echec these years (Cruel Romance, Destinated to Love You and Beauties of the Emperor), I will be more picky next time I start one of her dramas. However, it is interesting to point out that even if I find these projects a bit lacking, she is still bringing the ratings like crazy. I don’t like Tang Yan that much either (omg, I feel like we have a lot of similar taste when it comes to dramas… :P)
      Yes, I guess it is true that JX is in line with her character (a spoiled, but not so much middle-class daughter with a desire to always do well). However, I don’t like these types of character. I don’t like when a character goes around saying she wants to help the world then ends up hurting everyone around her just because she is clumsy. I understand that she hesitates to love back ZZ, BUT god, look at everything he has done for her. All she does by comparison…😥 is fall in love with his best friend. And even her lack of common sense when it came down to trusting ZZ. I am not a fan of Huang Xiaoming (I like Joe Chen way more!), but I still felt more for his character than hers.


      • Lizzie says:

        I actually don’t mind female leads who practise a little self-love even if it’s to the detriment of the male lead. Not too much where the male lead is being tortured effectively but also thought it was not unrealistic for her to crush on Er Sao as he fit the ideal Prince Charming persona in their initial encounter as opposed to boorish and rude ZZ ! I also quite liked that she fell in love with who ZZ was and he didn’t really change his ways “Just Because He Loves Her”🙂


  4. archidisign says:

    @Lizzie: Haha, I also need the female lead to have some self-love, but I don’t like to see her depend on the male lead for everything and then just not being grateful at all. I really like Kimi Qiao, but his character Er Sao was just bad…
    Yop, the good thing with this drama (the thing I liked the most) is that the OTP finally ended together after all their troubles.


    • Lizzie says:

      Yes, thank goodness they ended up together! Don’t understand why C-dramas like such tragic endings! And sometimes unnecessarily so! Just saw The Stolen Years (Joseph Chang, Bai Baihe) on the plane and OMG, the last part of the movie was just so unnecessarily melodrama that it kinda ruined the excellent first hour.


      • archidisign says:

        Yes! That’s why sometime, watching a drama can end being very painful. A lot of Hu Ge’s dramas end sadly and even in Qing Ding San Sheng! soo sad Q_Q


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