So, apparently this drama goes by many names. Sound of the Desert is how I was introduced to it. But, on many sites they put “Da Mo Yao” in parenthesis, while some others call it “Romance of the Desert.” Dramawiki has the name as Feng Zhong Qi Yuan, which I’m guessing is the official name.
Anyway, yay! I’m finally reviewing a Chinese drama, and it’s a period one at that! I’ve had the Chinese/Mainland Drama category since I started this blog, and it’s crazy that I haven’t used it yet. This isn’t my first Chinese drama to watch, but it is the first one I finished (well, I did finish their disastrous take on Boys over Flowers, but that’s a different story). The main character didn’t end up with the man I wanted her to end up with, and let me tell you, I have never been so affected by this. I’ve had Second-Lead Syndrome (SLS) many times, and some of those times it has ruined the whole drama. That was not so with this drama. For the first time in all my years of watching Asian dramas, I actually cried at the ending. I was literally sobbing because the main girl wasn’t with the guy I wanted. I was so heartbroken for that man! And it doesn’t help that I think the main character would have been better with him than who she ended up with anyway. I also had to stop watching the drama for a week when it was finally official that the main character was never going to be with that guy.
Reading other reviews and recaps online, I feel like most people disagree with me. They love who she ended up with, but I don’t know, I’ve just never been so affected by SLS. Now, the drama is still quite good. Xin Yue not ending up with the perfect man did in no way ruin or take away from anything in the drama. I just wanted to note that if you’re anything like me, which you won’t know until you watch the drama, you might be a little sad during the last ten or so episodes. On to the review!
Ratings out of 10:
Plot Development: 7
Liu Shi Shi (Cecilia Liu) played the main character, Xin Yue. I thought Liu’s performance was okay. There were times when she shone and times when she fell flat and still other times when it was just in between. I thought she could have been a bit more rough since she was raised by wolves and then raised in the desert after that, but that may not be her fault at all and only the fault of the direction she was given.
Eddie Peng (Peng Yu Yan) played one of the main characters, Wei Wu Ji. This was the first drama I have ever seen him in, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he was actually a Taiwanese actor. I thought he did a really great job in this role as a seemingly arrogant general who actually has a tender heart. Eddie Peng also has amazing eyes and eye expressions, so there were some great scenes of his character gazing upon Xin Yue, and the audience was able to see just exactly what he was feeling in that moment.
Hu Ge played another of the main characters, Mo Xun, also known as, the Ninth Lord. I am so thankful that I finally buckled down and decided to watch this drama because it introduced me to the wonderful acting of Hu Ge. From the minute I saw his character on the screen, I loved him. Hu Ge did a really good job acting as someone who is crippled. Whenever he would get on his crutches to walk, the way he acted made it seem as if it were the most difficult and tiring thing to do in the world. There were so many times that they way he would speak or the expressions he would make with his face would just break your heart. I do think Eddie Peng was the true shining star of this drama, but Hu Ge’s performance was good nonetheless, and I can’t wait to watch his other dramas.
Fala Chen played another principal character, the emperor’s most favored concubine, Qin Xiang. I was not impressed by Chen’s performance. True, there were times when her icy stare would make me feel like shivering, but she was lacking in vocal and facial emotion most of the time.
The performances from the supporting cast were quite good, with the exception of the emperor’s performance, which was dull and stiff. The actress who played Hong Gu, Qin Xiang’s friend and adviser, was really good. She’s definitely the most notable of the supporting characters.
Plot and Plot Development and Ending
Ninety percent of this drama was about love. The other ten percent focused on politics. Although I have no problem with a drama being even 100% about romance, I do have a slight problem with period dramas that add political intrigue here and there only for the purpose of the drama not being all about romance. Sound of the Desert did this for the first twenty-five or so episodes and then lost steam in the last ten or so episodes because the romance was winding down and there was nothing left to do but make it all about politics. Now, I love my politics, but my interest needs to be caught near the beginning in order for it to continue.
I loved the beginning half of the drama that was about Xin Yue, her business, her friendship with Wu Ji and her love for the Ninth Lord. It was mostly light-hearted and fun and really keeps you coming back for more. Then we enter the middle of the drama, and it becomes all about the love triangle and Xin Yue’s confusion. This is when it starts to become a bit boring, but still continues to grip because we’re all interested to know who Xin Yue will pick. Then, when she finally makes a decision, the last eight or nine episodes begin, and the drama becomes slow.
The plot develops rapidly in some sections while moving like a snail or coming to a standstill in others. In the beginning, the plot development was nice. We saw minor changes in all of our main characters and their situations. In the middle, plot development was still going strong, albeit a bit too fast in some parts, but at least it was progressing nonetheless. Then, the last episodes come and the plot develops a bit too fast and it almost seems like the writers were confused about where they wanted the drama to go.
Then, the ending comes, and although it was bittersweet for me, some people may just find it sweet. It didn’t tie up all loose ends, but it tied up enough to keep us from wondering too much about the main characters.
Xin Yue’s development as a character bothered me a bit. I liked how in the beginning she was a strong, independent woman who stood up for what she believed no matter what. I didn’t like how her character changed almost as soon as she agreed to marry Wu Ji. While her character was interesting before, it became rather dull. She did whatever he said and for the most part became a woman who was no longer independent, but solely dependent on Wu Ji. I thought that this was not a good thing for the writers to do to her character and while she was one of my favorite characters in the beginning, she quickly moved down on my list.
Wu Ji didn’t go through too much developing, but he was already a simple character from the beginning. I loved how the writers made him not act out on his jealousy very much. When he did act out on it, it made you cringe, but it wasn’t very often, and he really just wanted Xin Yue to be happy.
Mo Xun went through the most development, and I definitely liked it. In the beginning, he was very noble and wouldn’t let his feelings out, which got a bit frustrating. Then, he becomes a man who will say what is on his mind and tell the woman he loves that he loves her no matter if she will return his affections. Then, in the end, also like Wu Ji, he just wants Xin Yue to be happy, and that makes his character precious.
Qin Xiang’s character was annoying, though I’m sure it was made to be that way on purpose. I didn’t feel like the motivation the writers gave her character for wanting revenge was enough, however.
The other characters, like all other dramas, ranged from annoying to lovable.
Chinese period dramas seem to be really good about their music. The music in this drama was beautiful. Three vocal songs played the majority of the time. Basically, the opening theme would play as a love theme for Wu Ji and Xin Yue, and the ending theme along with another absolutely gorgeous Della Ding song would play as love themes for the Ninth Lord and Xin Yue. There was another insert song that was sung by Hu Ge, and I also really liked that one. The background music was beautiful too, and although it was a tad too cheesy and dramatic in some “Oh my God!” moments, it still had its charm.
Well, there you have it. My first Chinese drama review, and it gets a pretty high score. Which means?? You should go watch it. It will be worth your time, I promise. You will have to get used to the voice dubbing and the stupid, squeaky voices they choose for most of the women, but I swear, once you get used to it, it’ll be like the characters are speaking in their natural voices. (Well…that’s a bit of an exaggeration, at least with this drama, but I promise you will get used to the voices)
Overall Rating out of 10: 7.7