First Impressions & Unfiltered Thoughts: The Legend of Hao Lan

The Fangirl’s take a glance at the latest Chinese drama, The Legend of Hao Lan. Come find out if this drama is another win, or if it is better left to the side.

Dubbing Quality

Kmuse: Uhm…….. the matching of the voice to a lot of the side characters is……not good. It doesn’t bug me with the leading lady that much but her mother and the main wife’s visuals do not match the voices they put with them at all. I guess I have become accustomed to a bit better job at dubbing, and the lack of quality is slightly distracting. Not enough to keep me from watching, but enough that it should be mentioned.

Kdrama Jen:  I never seem to notice the issues with dubbing like the rest of the fangirls, so this doesn’t really bother me. Maybe my vision isn’t good enough to catch when their mouth is moving at the wrong time?

Acting

Kmuse: Wu Jin Yan is as talented as ever.  But I do feel that her natural charisma is dampened by mediocre storytelling & directing.  Both are clunky compared to some previous dramas that have been released in the last six month, including The Story of Yanxi Palace (Wu Jin Yan’s last project).  So while there isn’t anything glaringly wrong there isn’t anything that catches my eye either. Which leaves me with a sense of dissatisfaction.

I also feel that the director is lacking in subtlety.  Instead of letting the work or actions speak for themselves, the characters are constantly surmising what just happened in the scenes you just watched. This is a way of telling a story that I find slightly annoying.

Kdrama Jen:  I totally agree!  I love her as an actress, but this is just not as tightly written as Yanxi Palace.  It is making it hard to connect with her character, and as Kmuse shared, it is so frustrating.  I think it is even more frustrating because we know her potential!

OTP Chemistry

Kmuse: I am not sure who Hao Lan’s final OTP is supposed to be at this point.  After four episodes she has mostly interacted with the mysterious Bu Wei but I suspect that she is supposed to love Ying Yi Ren.  Not sure if I really care either way because I didn’t feel any chemistry between our leading lady and either leading man.

Kdrama Jen: I am also not sure who is end-game.  That is a problem because I am not sure which team I am cheering for!  It is adding to my frustration.

Storyline

Kmuse: Meh.  Maybe it gets better but I wish people would stop saying how smart and talented the characters are and actually be smart and talented.  Half of the Hao Lan’s actions are anything but smart and calculated. Hao Lan is more of a run into a situation and cause havoc, then pull herself up and be dignified after the dust settles kind of girl than truly smart.  Maybe she changes as time goes on but I probably won’t invest my limited drama watching time on that possibility

Kdrama Jen: The storyline has potential, but it feels like an echo of Yanxi Palace without strong writing and directing to keep it moving.  I am kind of interested to see where it goes, so I will likely keep watching. I won’t be sub-stalking, but I will casually watch.

Over All Impression

Kmuse: It’s OK but there are tons of dramas that are better written and directed.  The Story of Yanxi Palace, Ever Night, & The Story of Ming Lan to easily name three recent dramas.  I suggest giving this drama a skip and check out other Chinese drama options.

Kdrama Jen:  I am on the Ming Lan train right now.  You will see actual smart and savvy people in that one.  That is where I would encourage you to cast your eyes and invest your drama-watching time.

Will We Continue Watching

Kmuse: Four episodes in and I am out.  I don’t feel the chemistry and the director bugs me.  I will go spend those 70 hours watching something else and hope to enjoy Wu Jin Yan’s next drama more.

Kdrama Jen: As I said, I am interested to see where it goes.  I have a few more episodes under my belt, so I kind of like some of the side characters—like the female doctor.  I will casually watch and see what happens.

So, there you have it.  We have somewhat lukewarm feelings about this one.  If you have nothing better to watch, then you can see some glimmers of potential from Wu Jin Wan.  If you are watching for her, though, switch over to Yanxi Palace. You will get all of the harem politicking and her stellar acting, but also a story that has coherence.  

What about you?  What are your thoughts?  Please comment below and let us know!

Until next time…

Kmuse and Kdrama Jen

Dramas With a Side of Kimchi

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8 thoughts on “First Impressions & Unfiltered Thoughts: The Legend of Hao Lan

  1. I’m addicted but not invested. I want to see how it all pans out but i really only am drawn to our hostage prince. There’s a gravity to him. I would watch a drama that is totally about him. The hatefulness of the villainesses are over-the-top but i love the open honest camaraderie of all the Buwei, Haolan, Hostage Prince team. Empress, Princess/Sister, and stepmother all overact. I can generally deal with overacting. After all, i’m enduring the Filipino version of Love that came from the stars but the stepmother’s cloak and way of walking reminds me of Nosferatu. Love the Prime Minister. This also is one of the stupidest emperor’s i;ve seen in a while.

  2. I find it funny that you have a problem with her and Wu Bei’s chemistry cause I think the actor was the same actor that played the Emperor in Story of Yanxi Palace. Interesting.

    • .in 4 episodes she didn’t have much interaction with either guy. And none in a romantic way. This is a first impression so there is a chance it gets better but it isn’t snagging me at all.

    • I had that same thought! Why did I feel chemistry in Yanxi Palace, but not here? I think it is directly related to the writing and directing. I have continued to watch, and I do think it is becoming a bit more clear, but I am still not sure if I a rooting for hostage prince or our businessman.

    • I’ve finished episode 11 (I’m still off kdramas because of dramafever, and I’m just going with it until the urge returns. I’m all Chinese costume dramas all the time for now), and I would say that the chemistry is growing. They’re both interested, although he doesn’t want to admit it (or doesn’t know in that weird dramaworld trope where love is so mysterious the person can’t recognize it at all), and she doesn’t want to tell him until he can admit it.

      I’m not a huge fan, but I think “addicted but not invested” is a great way to describe how this has grown on me. I don’t care about the story that much but somehow I enjoy watching.

      The Empress has REALLY grown on me. I wouldn’t say she over-acts necessarily. I love how lazy she is about the palace politics. She only does something if it’s going to affect her, and she’s really confident that her place is secure. This is a nice change in schemers (she’s a total schemer): since so far pretty much all the tension is through scheming it’s also nice to have this low-key sort of schemer.

      I know it will never turn out this way, but I’m on team polyandry. I would love if Hau Lan kept her independent status, got half the wealth of Bu Wei, and then basically role-reversed and took Bu Wei and the hostage prince into her harem. Not because of anything except if there was ever a character or a storyline where it could be convincing, this is the one 😀

  3. Chinese drama question, just not this one. Will y’all be giving us opinions on I Will Never Let You Go? No pressure, just wondering. 🙂

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