First Impressions: What do you think of Legend of Awakening with Chen Fei Yu and Cheng Xiao?

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.

TRAILER:

This is going to be a long one so read at your own discretion.

Click To View First Impression
OverviewFirst Impression
During the Northern and Southern dynasties, the people were being ravaged by beasts so they began cultivating as a means of self-protection. Lu Ping, who possesses the rare ability to attain the enlightenment of six souls, was trapped within Shanhai Tower after his family was slaughtered.

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:

  1. Soul of Vision lies in Sight
  2. Soul of Sound lies in distinguishing Voices
  3. Soul of Energy uses Leverage (think Skill of Lightness)
  4. 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)
  5. Soul of Strength lies in Power
  6. 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.

There are many fans of Cheng Xiao who will argue that changing Lu Ping’s loveline to be from Su Tang to Qin Sang makes nary of a difference because Su Tang disappears halfway through the story. I’m not sure how accurate this is as I stopped wayyy before that point in the novel but it is not a reason for them to completely change the relationship. And in changing the relationship, Su Tang’s characterisation has been watered down a fair bit to become quite reliant on Lu Ping has her protector.

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.

Click To View Characters
Correlation ChartLu PingSu TangYan XifanQin SangLing ZiyanMo Lin
 photo Character Map.jpg

ARTHUR CHEN [CHEN FEI YU] AS LU PING

 photo LP.jpg

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

 photo ST.jpgLu 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

 photo YX.jpgSenior 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

 photo QS.jpgHailing 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

 photo LZ.jpgQin 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?”


YU YI JIE AS MO LIN

 photo ML.jpg
The young master of Wu You Valley renowned for their abilities in medicine. He aspires to make a name for himself away from his family’s influence as an assassin. He is unable to fully develop the potential of his Soul power due to his bloodline.


Have you started this drama? If you have, what do you think of it?

To watch with English subtitles, please visit iQiyi International.

  1. One thought on “First Impressions: What do you think of Legend of Awakening with Chen Fei Yu and Cheng Xiao?

    I think the drama is actually pretty good. I do agree with imomusings about it as an adaptation. However, I did start from the drama first (the novel’s been on my to-read list but never got around to it until I started the drama), so I found it quite addicting. The production is pretty rough and cheap looking, but for the most part I appreciate the vibe. It takes me back to the RPG-adaptations and wuxia dramas of the early 2000s with the fun hero’s journey and awesome adventures. For a good decade or so, the genre as a whole really disappointed me because either the focus was too much on the romance, or the plot was so circular that the journeys and mini-plots get confusing and pointless. I think for the most part, probably due to a well written source novel (although that never guarantees anything anymore), the plot was decently adapted and remains fun. I haven’t (yet) lost track of why ppl are somewhere doing something for some purpose. The mini-arcs tie together fairly well, and the relationships/interactions are fun enough to keep me engaged and invested.

    Even with the watered down character, Su Tang was STILL my fav. Despite all the mildly disappointing changes from the novel, I do still really appreciate the relationship between SuTang and Lu Ping. (And I LOVE Chu Min. Honestly.) I agree though that I really dislike Qin Sang. If anything, her attitude as a spoilt heiress of the well respected clan grates on me. Nothing against Cheng Xiao myself, I just don’t appreciate the character.

    Now. Because of the dramas I did end up starting the novel. I love it. A lot. Of course, Butterfly Blue as an author STILL has a tendency to over explain on details and includes a little too many of them. Lmao he be a wordy author, for sure. But Lu Ping is such a fun character, and I ADORE Su Tang in the novel. Unsurprisingly, I find Qin Sang to be EVEN WORSE in the novel. Granted I haven’t gotten very far at all. But so far Qin Sang’s an arrogant, spoilt little princess who thinks the world of herself and not much of anyone else. She’s also a horrid asshole to her servant (aka scapegoats her and slaps her and makes her do things she doesn’t want to do). On this, they actually made drama Qin Sang much better. At least in the drama, she treats her servant as a friend, and under the arrogance she shows a much stronger heart and sense of justice.

    Definitely will continue watching. I’m personably able to appreciate the drama on its own quite well, although I do agree that I love the novel characterizations a lot more. Actually I also like the plot progression of the novel more too (they did change stuff, like the motivations to go certain places and the order… but nothing too major –> all reasonable changes).

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