Episode 1-5 Overview:
Returning to the Capital triumphant as the great young general who managed to wipe out the plague like robbers in just a few short months, our hero, Hua Man Tian is filled with anticipation to finally be able to marry his childhood sweetheart, Xie Qian Xun.
Losing his calm composure when the emperor unexpectedly declares Qian Xun’s father to be a traitor and orders him of all people to charge right over to Qian Xun’s home with the palace guards, Man Tian risks his own life to let Qian Xun’s brother escape and buys Qian Xun along with all her guards as slaves. (The emperor’s decree was to kill all of Xie family’s men and sell all the women off as slaves.)
Furious with his young general, the emperor’s anger is not appeased despite Man Tian’s vow that he will find evidence to prove Qian Xun’s father’s innocence or pay with his own life. Concerned for Qian Xun when the emperor throws her into the dungeon, Man Tain comes up with a plan to rescue our heroine from prison and sneaks her into Princess Qing Cheng’s marriage caravan in hopes of getting Qian Xun to safety.
As our female second lead who has long since harbored an one-sided crush on our hero, Princess Qing Cheng is of course being sent off to a marriage alliance completely against her will. At first taking some comfort that at least Man Tain is the one in charge of escorting her, Princess Qing Cheng soon finds out about her crush’s true love when the villain shows up to expose Qing Cheng’s presence in her very own marriage caravan. Shaking with anger when Man Tain freely admits that the one in his heart has always been his childhood sweetheart, Princess Qing Cheng confronts Qian Xun and demands to know how she can put the man she loves in danger by having him publically going against the emperor. Realizing the truth of the Princess’ words especially if the villains could capture her to use as evidence against Man Tian, Qian Xun decides death is her only choice and promptly jumps off the cliff. Stunned when Man Tian throws himself after Qian Xun without a moment of hesitation, Princess Qing Cheng is forced to admit that her one sided crush is laughable in front of our two leads’ devoted love for one another…then decides to throw herself off the cliff as well.
Grabbing a tree vein with one hand while holding onto Qian Xun with the other, Man Tian is dumbfounded when he sees the Princess falling pass them. Knowing that the tree vein can’t hold both of their weight, Qian Xun ignores Man Tian’s desperate plea and allow herself to fall right after Princess Qing Cheng.
Determined to find Qian Xun and the princess no matter what, our hero is overjoyed when he actually ends up finding both girls alive and well. Semi puzzled to see his precious Qian Xun so uncharacteristically outgoing and the usually spoiled Princess Qing Cheng acting reserved, Man Tian simply assumes both girls must have undergone some minor personality changes after their near death experience. Unbeknownst to our hero, it wasn’t the girls’ personality that was changed but their face. Saved from falling to death by a mysterious healer living beneath the cliff, Princess Qing Cheng is elated when she discovers that the healer has a way of switching two people’s face. Willing to leave behind her identity as a princess if it means she can possess our hero’s love, Princess Qing Cheng convinces Qian Xun that switching their faces is the only way our heroine could save her family (as a princess, our heroine has the hope of convincing the emperor not to kill the men in her family)…even if it means giving up the love of her life. Clueless that the girl he holds in his arms is no longer his childhood sweetheart, Man Tian is too lost in his excitement to notice the expression of pain flashing across “Princess Qing Cheng’s” face.
Ninja’s First Impression:
For those of you who remember or like to watch Wuxia drama from way back when, As Flowers Fade and Fly really gives off that nostalgic flavor of the classic Wuxia drama. As such, that means while I am busy squealing “Wow, This sure is taking me back in the time machine”, the other side of me is also noticing all the pitfalls that come with classic Wuxia, such as: Plotholes you can drive a truck through, what was a huge problem an episode ago becoming a non-issue in the next, and the required meeting of some mysterious master at the bottom of a cliff.
The other issue that is pretty glaring is that this show has become focused (at least in the first 10 episodes) about the two female leads and our hero has been renegaded to the poor sap that is rushing around without a clue of what’s going on. Again, having a hero or heroine kinda playing the second fiddle is pretty normal in a lot of Wuxia dramas but I was really hoping (especially since we have Peter Ho playing the hero) that this show would be different. That being said, I have to admit the two female leads are doing an outstanding job as they switch between characters and portraying their extreme different personalities.
All in all, the good and the bad aside, I was extremely grateful to see a show that could remind me of all the Wuxia classics I love and still remember fondly. Yes, the plot is pretty predictable and let’s not even try to count plotholes but I never cared about those before in my Wuxia classics so I am not about to start now…
ps. One thing I forgot to mention that I am pretty happy about is that from all the obvious hints given by the show, the two girls will each find their own true love so the Princess will eventually have her own love line (with the hero’s younger brother who has always seen her good side while everyone else only saw a spoiled princess) as well instead of perpetually chasing after the hero. Actually, I believe the heroine’s brother will have his own romance too so three couples total.
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