It’s not often that a book receives the preferential treatment of both an upcoming film and movie, like TangQi GongZi’s Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms (三生三世十里桃花). So the hype and anticipation for both these adaptations would be incomparable to many others to be released in 2017. With an initial lukewarm reaction to casting of Mark Chao and Yang Mi, the drama was first to hit the screens. Coming after General and I and Princess Weiyoung and their lackluster adaptations of their source novels, there were many expectations for this drama.
Yang Mi as Bai Qian, Si Yin and Su Su
Mark Chao as Mo Yuan, Ye Hua and Zhao Ge
Vengo Gao as Dong Hua Di Jun
Dili Reba as Bai Feng Jiu
Ken Chang as Zhe Yan
Alan Yu as Bai Zhen
Drama Episodes: 58
Episode Length: 45 Minutes
Broadcast Date: 30 January – 1 March 2017
A title bestowed to the greatest warrior of the 4 seas and 8 realms, Mo Yuan is the famous undefeated Kunlun Mountain’s God of War. High Immortal Zhe Yan of Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms takes along the daughter of a great friend, Bai Qian, female heiress of Qing Qiu, to become Mo Yuan’s disciple. Although Bai Qian has disguised herself as a male under the name of Si Yin, this magical spell does not pass the eye of Mo Yuan. However, having been chosen by the Jade of Purity fan, a newly arrived magical artifact, destiny leads her to becoming accepted as his seventeenth disciple and owner of the fan.
During the devastating war between the Celestial Tribe and the Ghost Tribe, Mo Yuan uses his soul to seal the ghost lord in a deadly bell. 70,000 years later, now female monarch of Qing Qiu, Bai Qian performs the same spell to reseal him, following her master’s legacy. In doing so, the former ghost lord seals her identify, memories, and powers descending her to the earthly world as a mortal. She ‘rescues’ a black dragon, Crown Prince Yue Hua of the Celestial Tribe, who she mistakes as a snake. Another life time of fate, love, betrayal and heart break starts for these two destined lovers. After giving birth to their child A-Li, the mortal Bai Qian known as Su Su jumps down the deadly, body-and-soul-destroying Zhu Xian Tai.
Having passed her high goddess trial, Bai Qian regains her identity, awakening at the Ten Miles of Peach Blossom orchard. The pain of her memories as Su Su leads to her decision to drink Zhe Yan’s amnesia potion, erasing Yue Hua from both her heart and mind. Little does she know that when she resealed the ghost lord, the heavenly emperor and her father had arranged a marriage alliance between her and the crown prince. 300 years later, for their third life time, they reencounter each other. Are they finally able to place together the pieces of the puzzle of their love life or will they once again be unable to obtain their happily ever after?
The synopsis written may seem a bit confusing for people new to the world of Xianxia. Xianxia is derived from Wuxia, incorporating many Taoist elements, such as the mortal and immortal world. Magical and fantasy elements are much more prevalent in this genre. Whilst one would expect that fight scenes are predominant parts of these two genres, Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, does not exactly emphasize this.
It’s rather more propelled by this concept of immortals going through heavenly trials, which include being struck my lighting or living a life cycle as a mortal. Unlike the novel which starts when Su Su jumps from Zhu Xian Tai, the dramas is in chronological order. This works as both an advantage and disadvantage to the length, pacing and likeability of certain characters.
The major disadvantage does unfortunately fall with the pacing of the story. When Su Su’s life and the Mo Yuan and Si Yin arc are dealt with as flashbacks, the tale moves faster. In the drama however, the storyline, although captivating in every arc, fails to deliver a consistent pace. The story moves relatively faster at the beginning, which is expected as the Mo Yuan and Si Yin arc in the novel is the shortest. As it follows into Su Su’s life and then again into Bai Qian’s, the development of the story slows down.
The drama, at 58 episodes, is not a short one. However, the storyline is not simplistic enough to be drastically condensed either. That being said, it would have benefited if it was a few episodes shorter, perhaps 50. Three Worlds Three Lives, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms is not the only drama that has this problem. The current system of Chinese dramas expediting more episodes in order to boost views is one that unfortunately impacts the quality of many dramas.
I loved Bai Qian. She’s not your typical drama heroine, being neither a Mary Sue or oblivious like most. She’s a great mixture between fierce, forgiving, and even dense. It’s very hard to write the ‘perfect’ character: someone we can empathize with yet not get irritated at or find too perfect. And I believe Bai Qian comes quite close.
You saw her devotion with how she used her blood to save her master; someone she had a fairly platonic relationship with. Yet when someone betrayed her, she was able to cut them off. She showed us that she could let go when she had to. She wasn’t overly forgiving, as we saw with her dislike for Zhao Xing, but nor did she hold onto grudges for too long. Although this quality led her to 3 years of regret, we understood the pain in her heart and the reasoning behind her actions.
Yes, she was a little dense, but I don’t blame her for it, because we are all not perfect. I loved that she wasn’t afraid to obtain what she wanted. When she figured out she loved Ye Hua, she did not hesitate in taking back her request to cancel their wedding or confess her feelings to him. She gave the men she loved space and wasn’t overly clingy. She also understood the importance of peace and war. And most of all when she had to be fierce, she delivered. She was able to show us that double-crossing her would not lead to a good situation and that every threat she made, she meant. She also full heartedly accepted the conditions she was given and actually made use of them, whilst making sure to repay the debts she needed to. Time and time again, I’ve seen female leads pretend they don’t rely on connections, so Bai Qian was a refreshing change.
As for Ye Hua, his worst quality was his love… He gave everything up for love, and whilst that may be brave and heroic and well perfect for a male lead, he, too, was a little dense. I know that he tried to ask time and time again if he had a position in Bai Qian’s heart, but most of the time he led himself to the answer that there was only Mo Yuan. When he went to collect the medicine, I just wanted to shout at him that Bai Qian loves him. Like, she slept with you and with her position she would never let herself be pressured into it.
His love for Su Su was over bearing. Although she broke his ice cold barrier, he never figured out until it was too late that giving up everything wasn’t going to protect her. However, I still loved Ye Hua. I liked that he didn’t feel like he was completely entitled to Bai Qian’s love even as Crown Prince. And that he didn’t stop himself completely from trying to win her over again, because he had hurt her so much. He was able to let go when he thought she only loved Mo Yuan. And he proved with his final sacrifice that he really was deserving of his title of Crown Prince. Although there were slight inconsistencies with his lost arm in the end, it was an error that I happily bypassed.
I didn’t like Dong Hua and Feng Jiu’s storyline. Mainly just Feng Jiu; she was whiny, which is a shame because her Pillow Book character was much better. But I guess we’ll see more of the Bai Feng Jiu TangQi GongZi intended when the drama version of The Pillow Book is released.
The one character I absolutely despised though, even more than Su Jin, was Ye Hua’s mother. She blamed the father and the heavenly emperor for what had happened to Ye Hua, but really we didn’t see her go out of her way to stop it. She didn’t approve of Su Su, although her son obviously loved Su Su, because of rules and Su Su’s hindrance to his journey. When she criticised Bai Qian for getting A-Li drunk and not being able to raise a child, when she didn’t even raise Ye Hua herself, I was sceptical. But the last straw broke when she was so demanding when Ye Hua ‘passed’. I understand that she loved her son, but I’m sure he himself would rather have been with Bai Qian. I hated how she blamed Bai Qian for Ye Hua following Su Su down Zhu Xian Tai. It’s not Bai Qian’s fault; it was only a trial for her and it wasn’t her fault she couldn’t relieve herself from the pain of having her loved one remove her eyes.
What I particularly enjoyed about the drama was how they brought the less focal characters of the novel, such as Li Jing and Yan Zhi, into the spotlight in a way we could empathize with and like them. I was really able to empathize with Li Jing, but in doing so I felt for a character that the author probably didn’t intend. Whilst Li Jing did betray Bai Qian and never really loved Xuan Nu, he wasn’t a horrible ruler. He brought along peace and in the end decided to sacrifice himself even if he failed. It was disappointing to see his demise so uncared for by the other characters.
Similarly with the Zi Lan and Yan Zhi love line, was it necessary? They both had very minor roles in the novel and were not linked. As much as I enjoyed it after having grown to like Yan Zhi, the intentions of the ending left much to desire.
The acting of the cast far exceeded my expectations. I’ve never really been a fan of any of the cast members. The closest is probably the nostalgia I have aligned with Yang Mi. But unlike many, who were criticising them when casting news was announced, I had faith that they would be okay in their roles.
I’ve always known Yang Mi was never the strongest actress, but I have never thought that her acting came in the way of me enjoying a drama or movie. So I was one of the few that didn’t understand why she was receiving so much backlash from both Chinese and international netizens, especially in comparison to the movie casting of Liu Yi Fei. Subjectively, I understand that some believe Liu Yi Fei is prettier and may have more of the ‘goddess’ aura, but acting wise, Liu Yi Fei stands out as the weaker actress. Whilst Yang Mi’s aura is not comparable to Liu Yi Fei’s, I believe all top actresses have a goddess aura, hence their position in the industry. Of course this article is not about comparing the two media adaptations, but to present my opinions on just the drama cast.
My opinions on Yang Mi stay relevant for this drama. She plays her role well, but not extraordinarily. However, I believe Yang Mi’s execution of Bai Qian is possibly the best acting I have seen from her.
As for Mark Chao, most people can agree that his depiction of Ye Hua and Mo Yuan was above anything we had expected from him. I haven’t seen in him in many projects as he is predominantly a movie actor. When I watched Black and White I was too young to judge acting. But I’ve seen him in other movies such as Love and So Young, where I felt his acting didn’t stand out as bad. I’ve also always found him attractive, so like the criticism that Yang Mi received, I didn’t understand the criticism he received either. Likewise, watching him as Ye Hua and Mo Yuan was a delight. His expressions, his actions, and the delicate details in his eyes all brought to life both characters. His eyes convincingly expressed his hidden pains, especially when looking at Bai Qian.
His great acting is especially evident in Mo Yuan’s smile in the last episode. There is no need for a voice over, no need for any words to be said, you just understand that although he’s in pain, he’s able to let go of the one he loves.
The other cast members, mostly, also pulled their weight, whether it was expressing Li Jing’s longing, Xuan Nu’s jealously or Dong Hua’s inability to love. However, the one person that did unfortunately stick out was Yang Mi’s current rising actress, Dilireba. The reviews I’ve heard about her acting have been great, but her depiction of Bai Feng Jiu was a disappointment. Although she was cute when she needed to be, her inability to act out emotional scenes was a hindrance. I wasn’t convinced she was sad, nor were her crying scenes very compelling. The rewriting of her character was not an aid to make her acting more likeable or palatable.
Cinematography and Costumes
I really liked the costumes and hair styles for most of the characters. Yang Mi’s dresses when she was in the immortal world, whilst simplistic in their pastel colours, were elegant and fitting of her status. Xuan Nu’s wedding dress in particular was very delicate and detailed and her ghost tribe outfits with the red and black were mesmerising.
There were, of course, elements I didn’t quite like such as Dong Hua’s hair, Yue Hua’s long black hair and his silk-like under garments and Feng Jiu’s outfits as Precious Concubine in the mortal world.
The CGI was unfortunately the worst part of the drama for me. Although some of the sets were really pretty, specifically the Qing Qiu ones, the others were very much like they belonged in an animation movie. However, with Xianxia I don’t expect great CGI, as the majority of the drama is unfortunately centred around it, but good CGI is also costly. What I can say though is the CGI is certainly an improvement from many computer animations I have seen in other dramas of the genre.
Movie CGI still far exceeds that of dramas, so I have higher expectations that the movie will have better computer graphics.
Upon first listen, many of the OST’s didn’t stand out as mesmerisingly beautiful to me, but after watching them in their associated scenes, I came to grow a fondness for them. The ones I enjoyed in particular were Zhang BiChen’s and Aska Yang’s ending theme song “凉凉” and Yisa Yu’s “Cherished Memories.”
All the soundtracks paired perfectly with the situation to bring out the desired moods. I found myself brought to tears over and over again even in the parts I anticipated and wanted to occur. The instrumentals were all very magical, yet traditional and beautiful. Collectively they came together to aid in the creation of this picturesque drama.
Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossom is the first drama to have broken 30 billion views online. In comparison to the total views for the current top 3 dramas, I believe this one is most deserving of its position. It wasn’t a masterpiece. In comparison to my favourites Nirvana in Fire and Bu Bu Jing Xin, it is still a little lacking. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.
After so many years of having watched dramas, I am incredibly picky so it is very rare I would like a 58 episode drama. But I was able to finish the series in less than a week (I started when the last episode aired). I loved watching Bai Qian and Ye Hua. Even though my heart gravitated to Mo Yuan, I understood exactly why Ye Hua was most deserving of her.
This is a controversial drama to like with the plagiarism allegations, but I wanted to be honest. The current spotlight on Mark makes me delighted. He was amazing as Ye Hua and his personality is very likeable as well. I will definitely miss Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms. Currently, I am still going through withdrawal symptoms.
Did you enjoy the drama as much as I did? Have any thoughts on the drama? Did you think it was overrated? Let me know by commenting down below!