Technically considered a web series as the broadcaster is iQiyi and Youku, Legend of Awakening is a novel to ‘drama’ adaptation based on the novel of the same name penned by Hudie Lan (also known as Butterfly Blue).
Starring the popular Arthur Chen (Chen Fei Yu), Cheng Xiao, Dylan Xiong (Xiong Ziqi) and Deng Enxi it premiered on both Youku and iQiyi on April 23, 2020.
Chen Fei Yu as Lu Ping
Cheng Xiao as Qin Sang
Xiong Ziqi as Yan Xifan
Deng Enxi as Su Tang
Yu Yi Jie as Mo Lin
I would consider this as a xuanhuan drama purely for the fact that the cultivation that is portrayed here is beyond the martial arts cultivation considered typical of the wuxia genre and not as extravagant in the quest for immortality as xianxia.
This is going to be a long one so read at your own discretion.
With the aid of a masked saviour our protagonist, Lu Ping played by Arthur Chen, manages to escape with his foster sister Su Tang, played by Deng Enxi, from Shanhai Tower.
For those of you that watch with English subtitles through iQiyi, please not that much of their translation is atypical of what the word should mean in English. A perfect example is Shanhai Tower being coined Shanhai Gang.
When all seems lost, he is saved by the master of Zhaifeng Hall, Guo Youdao (played by Tse Kwan Ho), and it is here that he remains with Su Tang for the next three years. Living in Chen Qiao town as disciples of Zhaifeng Hall, he trains and becomes brothers with Yan Xifan, played by Dylan Xiong. It is also during this time that he crosses paths with Qin Sang, played by Cheng Xiao, and Ling Ziyan – Qin Sang’s maidservant, played by Shang Xuan. Misunderstandings abound between Lu Ping and Qin Sang and she employs the skills of the tactless and impulsive assassin Mo Lin, played by Yu Yi Jie, to capture and bring to her, Lu Ping.
It isn’t long before envoys from Shanhai Tower arrive in search of Lu Ping and disrupt their lives.
Lu Ping is a rarity among cultivators as he was born with the ability to attain enlightenment of six souls:
- Soul of Vision lies in Sight
- Soul of Sound lies in distinguishing Voices
- Soul of Energy uses Leverage (think Skill of Lightness)
- Soul of Pivot lies in the Senses (along the lines of heightened use of all five senses but sight and hearing are not to the degree of Souls of Vision and Sound)
- Soul of Strength lies in Power
- Soul of Essence lies in the Mind
It is possible, with training and dedication, to master more than one soul, but to master all six…these are known as the Awakeners. Unfortunately Lu Ping is hindered by the presence of the Soul Confinement Lock that restricts his access to the power of the six souls.
To uncover the truth behind his capture and the secrets surrounding his parent’s death, Lu Ping and his friends attend the Soul Enlightenment Conference and thus begin their journey towards Awakening.
As this post is not a RECAP I won’t be going over what has already occurred in the first 10 (or 20 if you are a VIP) episodes.
Instead I will lay bare what I think of the series so far having been quite enthusiastic about the drama when I realised an adaptation was being made.
I’ve learnt over the years that if I haven’t finished a novel being made into an adaptation, that I probably shouldn’t if I want to enjoy the drama. Legend of Awakening strengthens that life learning because having only read about 70 chapters or so, the first 10 episodes were a huge disappointment from the perspective of a novel reader.
It is my personal belief that if a drama is going to call itself an adaptation of an original source work, stick to the character relationships and overall plot line – the means of achieving this is irrelevant so long as the main story checkpoints are maintained.
The first point of contention I have is how Qin Sang was brought forth in the drama much earlier than she should have been based on the novel timeline.
This is not the Su Tang I fell in love with in the novel who did everything in her power to stand up for her brother regardless of who it was against. In the drama, so long as Yan Xifan showed up she basically became a pile of mush because he’s their ‘Senior Brother’. Much of this isn’t shown explicitly in the novel but it is implied and a case of reading between the lines.
Admittedly it seems like Arthur playing Lu Ping will bring about memories of his time as Ning Que from Ever Night (a series that I also loved as a novel but only managed half way through the drama), but unlike Ning Que, Lu Ping isn’t a character that I want to smack across the face. Arthur has done well to demonstrate equal parts nonchalance and tightly reigned in concern in his portrayal of Lu Ping to highlight the depth and complexity of the character.
Lu Ping, as a character, has allowed him to extend his emotive range in the handful of crying scenes that I have seen thus far.
I don’t have much to say about Yan Xifan other than that his character is one that I didn’t like in the novel and I continue to dislike in the drama. For no particular reason than his idealistic sense of righteousness that completely gets on my nerves.
Now, Qin Sang…that girl has about the emotional range of a teaspoon. Now I have nothing against Cheng Xiao and I have never watched her in any other drama but she simply doesn’t express the level of emotion that a scene calls for. Her standard poker face is basically meant to equate to every emotion imaginable and it gets boring fast. I’m hoping that as the series progresses and her character is meant to develop that she begins to better demonstrate the pain and longing that she generally feels because of her relationship with Lu Ping.
As for our adorable assassin…well anyone that has watched the trailer will know that Mo Lin is the alternate love-line established for Su Tang. A relationship that I’m not well versed in from the novel (if it exists) so no comments there BUT I have to highlight the fact that the way by which his character was introduced is probably one of the most interesting ways that I have seen in any drama. Not only does it establish his quirky and tenacious personality but it also quickly identifies the type of relationship he has with Lu Ping.
I’ve heard a few opinions regarding the CGI not being executed as well as say Ever Night, but I’m of the minority that thinks although Ever Night was pretty to look at, it didn’t really seem to match the production of the show. The runic circles seemed to contrast with the scene setup whereas Legend of Awakening, all the effects feel like they are what should ‘be’. I never get the sense that any prop or cultivation skill is out of place and the use of changing eye colour to identify soul usage means that there aren’t any over exaggerated lighting or sound effects.
The world feels cohesive even if the Zhaifeng Hall uniform is an eyesore. But hey, what can you expect from a ‘backwater’ institute where the master is more interested in alcohol and money than actually training his students. All a complete lie from about episode 14 onwards, but it’s convincing enough that everything – yes even the bad costumes – makes sense.
I wouldn’t consider the production quality to be on the scale of Ever Night or even other series’ such as Novoland or Sword Dynasty but the colour palette and cinematography makes me feel like I’m in the midst of the story and action rather than being just an observer.
The OST, as is the standard these days, is AMAZING. Not on par with say The Untamed, but definitely pleasing to the ears.
If you have the time and want to watch the drama for being a brilliant piece of work in its own right, then I say go for it.
If you’re looking to start the drama because you loved the novel I would say run far far away and never look back.
ARTHUR CHEN [CHEN FEI YU] AS LU PING
A young man born with the rare ability to attain enlightenment of six souls but restrained by the Soul Confinement Lock placed on him. Showing a mask of indifference to the world, only around his foster sister, Su Tang, is he able to let down his guard. With a quick and analytical mind he is able to see things as they are and is rarely, if ever, blinded by his emotions.
DENG ENXI AS SU TANG
Lu Ping’s younger foster sister. She manages to escape from Shanhai Tower through Lu Ping’s insistence of her rescue alongside his own. Relying upon each other for their survival from a young age, she is mature beyond her years and is extremely close to her brother.
DYLAN XIONG [XIONG QIZI] AS YAN XIFAN
Senior Disciple of Zhaifeng Hall, he starts out with a love/hate relationship towards Lu Ping. Son of Yan Qiuci, he is the young master of Wuji Mountain Pavilion. He bears the scars of failing to save his best friend and feeling ashamed, abandoned the practice of his family’s Yan Blade.
CHENG XIAO AS QIN SANG
Hailing from a military family, she is the daughter of the Qin family in the Shuo Kingdom. AdePt at her family’s Sun Streamer Swordplay (may also be known as Aurora Light Flying Dance outside of the dramaverse), she is your typical privileged rich girl. Arrogant and proud but with a kind and noble heart.
SHANG XUAN AS LING ZIYAN
Qin Sang’s maidservant and friend from childhood, she is skilled in qinggong and suffers from an inferiority complex towards her mistress and friend. A wedge is driven between them with the appearance of Lu Ping but a simple question from Senior Chu Min makes her question her true intentions, “So you love Lu Ping, or do you merely want to compete with her?”
To watch with English subtitles, please visit iQiyi International.