Flowers of green, pink, white and blue created the outline of a pathway that would be scattered in the most beautiful imported white petals. The long trail of a Carven dress, especially customised for her, would follow as she walked down the aisle to officially announce her vowels. And I, where was I in all of this? Watching afar on a computer screen, gleeful and delighted, just like I was witnessing someone close and dear to me get married. Although, I may not actually know her, after all those years of watching her on screen, I had developed this strange feeling of proximity. I’m not alone in this thought, because the thousands of other Lions would too be in my shoes. We have witnessed her grow, succeed and transition into the actress she is today. With 10 years of works to her name, becoming one of China’s top young actresses was not built overnight for Liu Shi Shi (Cecilia Liu).
Liu Shi Shi was born March 10, 1987 in Beijing. She is classically trained in ballet, having been a student of the renowned Beijing Dance Academy. Unlike many of her peers, Liu Shi Shi is of Hui ethnicity; one of the many minorities in China. She made her acting debut in 2004 starring in The Moon and The Wind and would later act in two series by Tangren, before signing with them upon graduating. After declining lead roles in belief she was not ready, Liu Shi Shi took on her first leading role in Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei. This was followed by the extremely successful Bu Bu Jing Xin as Ma’ertai Ruoxi, her most noteworthy role to date. I first saw her in The Young Warriors as the soft and gentle, but cable Yang Si Niang. After seeing her as Mu Nianci in The Legend of the Condor Heroes (2008) I had become a fan. That was the beginning of my journey as a Lion, watching all of her older and upcoming series and movies.
In the span of her career, Liu Shi Shi has starred in 23.5 dramas and 7 movies. 19 of her 23.5 series have been broadcasted, 3 impending 2017 releases, one shelved by SARFT for the exploration of aids, and one discontinued due to insufficient production funds. Out of the 19 I have started 16, watching enough of 15 series to be able to review them. With the exception of Wanted Dangerous Man, which is expected to hit the box office in 2017, I have watched all of her movies. These are my recommendations for Liu Shi Shi projects everyone should watch.
Bu Bu Jing Xin
An argument with her boyfriend and a traffic collision later, 25 year old, Zhang Xiao wakes up in the body of 16 year old, Manchu aristocrat, Ma’ertai Ruoxi. Stuck 300 years in the past, during the reign of the Qing Dynasty’s KangXi emperor, she must learn to adapt to her new surrounding and weave her way through survival in fearful Forbidden city. One wrong word, one wrong step and her life could hang on the line. In an era where her life is determined for her, without equality and freedom, Zhang Xiao must learn to become Ma’ertai Ruoxi. Will the bounds she has forged with the princes, turn out to be a burden, or an aid?
It’s not shocking Bu Bu Jing Xin is first on this list. It’s a historical romance that is able to captivate, whilst employ history creatively. A drama that doesn’t need a clear villain to compel the plot, beautiful costumes and a wonderful soundtrack, Bu Bu Jing Xin is one to never forget.
Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei
With an emperor whose more entranced with gaining immortality than ruling a country, people are suffering in poverty and corruption. An intelligent convicted felon, Li Ge Xiao, is a self righteous man, who is in hiding. Found by a former colleague, he sets to return the stolen disaster funds to the true victims with the aid of three other skilful individuals; light and agile, thief Yan San Niang, strong ex-bandit Chai Hu and master of disguise and secret weapons He Xiao Mei. However, all is but a trap in a plot of revenge revolving around the death of his family. As wanted criminals this team of four, set out to steal from the corrupted and help those in need.
Written and produced by Tangren, the role of Yan San Niang was written with Liu Shi Shi in mind. It’s a fast paced story that explores the character of all four leads, highlighting their significance to the team. It’s an easy watch, enjoyable and uplifting.
The Young Warriors
With a lifetime of accomplishments and several capable sons ready to be successors, general Yang Ye is a great attribute to the Song Dynasty. However, one conspired trap later, Yang Ye’s wife finds her spouse and four sons, lying lifeless before her. As the remaining sons seek to continue the legacy of their family and obtain revenge for the members that have passed, the women of the household show that the battle field is not just for men.
Being the first drama I’ve ever seen her in, The Young Warriors holds a special place in my heart. Not only because of Liu Shi Shi, but because of the amazing ensemble cast that brought every heartbreak to life on screen. It’s very rare that I care for every single storyline in a drama oriented around one family, but I thoroughly enjoyed all in this one. If Liu Shi Shi can’t convince you to watch this, what about Hu Ge, Yuan Hong, Eddie Peng, Chen Long and Peter Huo?
The Legend of the Condor Heroes (2008)
A pledge of brotherhood between two unborn children becomes a serious twist of fate for Guo Jing and Yang Kang. Although raised in different nations, one is well aware of his ancestral roots in the land of Song, whilst the other lives in denial of it. Sworn brothers, yet so different, Yang Kang is clever, cunning and manipulative, whilst Guo Jing is loyal, honest and slow-witted. Fighting for different sides, both meet their love interests, intelligent and skilful Huang Rong and bright eyes and firm like jade Mu NianCi.
I wouldn’t say this was the best adaption of Legend of the Condor Heroes, nor the most accurate one. But nevertheless it was a creative twist on the story that I appreciated. To some making Yang Kang thread thinly on the line between good, evil and self redeeming made him too different from Louis Cha’s character and ruins the sequence of the trilogy. But, I really enjoyed seeing this depiction of his character. Fun fact Liu Shi Shi cried after her kiss with Yuan Hong, because it was her first kiss.
Chinese Paladin 3
When a magical piece of jade brings together the mischievous and cupidinous Jing Tian and arrogant, but caring Tang Xue Jian, adventures and mysteries are washed their ways. A senior disciple of Mt. Shu Sect, a large monastery in the wuxia universe, Xu Chang Qing is sent to aid in their quest. Together, they unravel their past lives and must decide what to sacrifice, to obtain what is important to them.
Hu Ge, Yang Mi, Wallace Huo, Tang Yan and Liu Shi Shi are today, all well established leading actors. But all actors, start from somewhere. It’s just amazing this drama of newly budding actors, would become an ensemble of some of the biggest stars in future, Although, the CGI is outdated, the adventurous storyline makes it an easy watch. Liu Shi Shi and Hu Ge may not have been a couple, but their scenes together even as brother and sister, did not hide the chemistry between the two.
Xuan Yuan Sword: Rift of the Sky
There are 5 mysterious artefacts; keys to sealing the rift within the sky. However, every item holds enough power and prestige that many skilled martial artists have come in search of them. Yu Wen Tuo and Chen Jing Chou are both descendants of perished nations, who seek for these items in order to fulfil their greater quest. When fate has destined that Nuwa’s stone, protected by Nuwa’s daughter can only be obtained by the Heavenly Emperor, will this become a hindrance in the feelings they have already developed with other people? The two mortal enemies Yu Wen Tuo and Chen Jing Chou, must learn that to obtain the greater good, sacrifice is not excluded.
Liu Shi Shi was originally casted as the soft, gentle and well naïve Nuwa’s daughter, but due to casting fallouts and the fear no one would accept the role of Tuoba Yu Er, her role was switched. Yu Wen Tuo as a character was also specifically rewritten for Hu Ge, as he had confirmed to play a lead, but did not match the age of 18 year old Chen Jing Chou. It’s slightly strange, but Tangren emphasised that the leads of the shows were Hu Ge and Liu Shi Shi and they would not be each other’s love interest, or really interact that often for all the matter. Nevertheless, the costumes and styling, besides Hu Ge’s questionable dreadlocks were mesmerisingly pretty in this series.
Sound of the Desert
Raised by wolves, Jin Yu, finds herself adopted by a Han Chinese, who due to political reasons finds himself in danger. His last request is for her to travel to Jian An, in which she obliges to after encountering two men. As an attempt to thieve new clothes, Jin Yu runs into a calm, but disabled man, Jiu Ye who gifts her with a beautiful blue dress. She then witnesses Wei Wu Ji, a general, being attacked by desert thieves, who later requests for her help across the Gobi Desert. These two figures, amongst political and royal battles would become aids in her stay in Jian An and the two men that would tear her heart apart with indecisiveness.
The gown gifted by Jiu Ye is hands down still one of my favourite costumes on Liu Shi Shi. The beautiful royal blue fabric, embroidery and the gemstone decorations really complimented her pale white skin. I was one of the many disappointed when Wallace Huo’s casting for Jiu Ye fell out, because I was so absorbed in that potential cast line. But Eddie Peng really shone as Wei Wu Ji. It was actually my strange obsession to rooting for the silent one that made me ultimately drop the drama, but I know many enjoyed the other pairing better.
The Fairies of Liaozhai
Adapted by Pu Songling’s collection of supernatural stories Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, The Fairies of Liao Zhai is a 40 episode drama divided into 4 arcs. The ensemble cast star in their own respective stories, none intertwining or clashing with one another.
Liu Shi Shi appears in the last arc of the story, Xin Shi Si Niang (辛十四娘). She plays a kind hearted nine tailed fox who believes in the possibilities of love. Honesty I don’t remember the fine details to this drama. From memory the cinematography and costumes were beautiful. It’s a recommend, because I remember enjoying it.
Brotherhood of Blades
A young emperor, towards the end of the Ming Dynasty, sends out three imperial assassins, on secret orders to end the reign of the powerful eunuch Wei. Along the way these three soldiers must solve the mystery of the Xiu Chun sword.
This was the only Liu Shi Shi movie that made the list. Whilst it’s true I’m not the biggest fans of her movies, Brotherhood of Blades was a nice watch. It may have been a little confusing and too fast paced some of the times, but I enjoyed the cinematography, action and most of all the short glimpses of Liu Shi Shi. However, I wished they had added more depth and details to the mysterious characters. It wasn’t the most amazing movie, but I didn’t regret watching it.
Liu Shi Shi may not be the most mesmerising beauty or the best actress of the current young Fadans, but she does not fall behind in aura, elegance and screen presence. Her cute bubbly character, is mixed with a refined grace that allows her to mould into the needed situation. Before you know it, just her smile will be able to captivate you.
Did you enjoy her other series more? Or do you have a request to do an artist spotlight on another artist? Leave your comments and suggestions below!