Asian Drama Synopsis Fail: Untouchable Lovers
Untouchable Lovers is a 2018 Chinese drama starring Guan Xiao Tong and Song Wei Long. I am not certain how many episodes I made it through but I believe it was over 30 before I gave up.
This drama earns a synopsis fail simply because most plots talking about this series only pertain to the first 16 episodes. This could be due to the fact that this is based on Chinese novel A Tale of Two Phoenixes and half the time people will give the novel plot instead of the drama plot as is the case with When A Snail Falls in Love.
In the novel, a girl from the modern age has her soul take over the body of Liu Chu Yu, known as the Princess Shangyin who was known to have her own male harem courtesy of her brother the emperor. I have read through the first few chapters, but can’t comment too much on overall plot for the whole, but I do know it is very different from the drama plot especially after the initial 16 episodes. This mainly comes from a plot that was not originally there. Instead of a transmigrated soul, we have a look-alike tasked with an assassination plot. For some reason, even though we did get Palace and Startling By Each Step among other movies and dramas, it seems to transmigrate spirits and souls is NOT the thing to do in China anymore. Thus in this drama, Revive, Princess Agents, and a few others based on novels that feature this plot, writers choose to do something else entirely.
The plot from Viki (see below in its entirety) talks about how Tianji Tower sends in a female assassin to replace tyrannical emperor Liu Zi Ye’s most beloved sister Liu Chu Yu. Once in the palace, our assassin meets the princess’ most trusted aid Rong Zhi who turns out to be a spy from Northern Wei using the princess to further his own agenda. Will their love overcome their duties?
Her singular mission is to overthrow the emperor. When Liu Zi Ye (Zhang Yi Jie) ascends the throne in AD 464, he proves himself to be a tyrannical emperor, capable of great cruelty and violence.
The largest clan, known as Tianji Tower, sends a woman (Guan Xiao Tong) who resembles the emperor’s sister, Liu Chu Yu, to impersonate her and to overthrow the emperor. In the palace, the new Chu Yu meets the princess’ confidant, Rong Zhi (Song Wei Long), who is secretly a spy for the Northern Wei and tries to use Chu Yu’s influence to benefit his own kingdom.
When their own emotions get in the way, can Chu Yu and Rong Zhi both accomplish their own missions?
“Untouchable Lovers” is a 2018 Chinese drama series directed by Li Hui Zhu. It is based on the novel A Tale of Two Phoenixes by Tian Yi You Feng.
Later synopses are more thorough in some respects, but I only initially had that one to go on, so I was vexed after the first 16 episodes. Once those finished, it was like an entirely new drama. The final 2/3 of the series (episodes 17-52) has Chu Yu going to Northern Wei to marry Rong Zhi as part of a marriage peace alliance. Actions and personalities changed and we had a new cast with some overlapping characters, i.e. the royal astrologer, the head of Tianji Pavillion, Chu Yu, and Rong Zhi (obviously).
I am confused as one plot I read after the fact said episode 17 starts the story up after five years have passed, but it really felt like a completely different and unrelated story and NOT a continuation. From what I understood, the storyteller telling the initial tale received negative reviews for the crappy ending to this love story and told a different spin in Northern Wei, but I may have missed something. I’m not perfect.
Tianji Tower, the leading organization of the pugilistic world (jianghu) is determined to overthrow Liu Ziye, the tyrannical ruler of the Liu Song dynasty. To achieve their mission, Tianji Tower replaces his sister Liu Chuyu with their own disciple and Princess-lookalike Zhu Que. Zhu Que meets the Princess’ learned companion Rong Zhi, who turns out to be a spy from Northern Wei.
Liu Chuyu and Rong Zhi’s relationship eventually breaks down over misunderstandings and differing loyalties, and the latter fakes his death in order to regain Chuyu’s forgiveness. Then Liu Chuyu as her memories erased by imperial astrologer and Rong Zhi gets his mind wiped. They meet five years later when Chuyu is sent to marry Northern Wei’s Prince regent, who is none other than the now Rong Zhi.
I did not recall them mentioning Chu Yu’s memory was by the royal astrologer who fell in love with her. Of course, that may have happened in later episodes which I did not watch where that was actually explained.
My synopsis? Zhu Que is a look-alike for Liu Chu Yu, a princess of the Liu Song Dynasty who falls for Rong Zhi, a spy for Northern Wei who later becomes regent. With political intrigue, power-hungry relatives, and secret organizations controlling and inciting disasters behind the scenes can they and their love survive?
Pretty bland and basic, but it’s hard to get specific when you essentially have two dramas mashed together. Truthfully, while the end of the first 16 episode arc was not good, I found the Northern Wei plot long-winded, repetitious, and boring and found myself wishing they would have just continued the plot a little longer in the Liu Song empire and never did the rest of the series. I like the initial 16 as I did enjoy all the Rong Zhi and Chu Yu screen time. In the latter part of the series, you see more of the people around them then themselves. I could have done without the psycho prince, the psycho sister, the psycho second wife. And no offense to the female general, but I did not like all of her screen time nor her look alike’s.
And Rong Zhi, Rong Zhi. Song Wei Long did a great job. But Rong Zhi…loving him is torturing yourself! You get that he is a spy for Northern Wei, but still… He didn’t really seem to like the original princess that much, but he does find himself falling for her replacement. Of course, he doesn’t realize his true feelings until it’s too late. Because then what drama would we have without the gigantic misunderstandings that stem from that? All the stuff he does to force Chu Yu’s hand (even after he does try to save her by allowing himself to fall ill), is despicable. Sure, Zhu Que may never have gotten through to her crazy little brother because of how what happened to him in childhood severely warped him, but there was a glimmer of hope (albeit very faint) until Rong Zhi makes sure to intervene.
Then! When Rong Zhi realizes how much he’s fallen for her, he goes out of his way to eject everyone from her life! From the scholar who loves her to the little boy who idolizes her. He takes everyone away from her and is essentially leaving her nowhere left to run. In military strategy, yes, you do that. I get that Rong Zhi is highly intelligent and skilled in that respect, but you do NOT do that to the woman you love. Of course, Zhu Que/Chu Yu helps out by deliberately misunderstanding him and refusing to believe in him. I can understand why in certain respects, but she should have realized a few things with Rong Zhi’s character, etc. with what happens with refugees and everything.
When we move to Northern Wei, Rong Zhi is bent on his play for power and using whoever he can, which later leads to many tragedies. He wishes to protect the wife he initially did not want and finds himself falling for her, but he causes so much pain and aggravation by never being forthright. When we meet the new Chu Yu, she is quite different from our tortured assassin who yearned simply for family. There are hints of connections between the first part of the series and the latter, but it made no sense to me how she seemed to have no memories of Rong Zhi, etc. Plus, it was proven that when her uncle took over the throne, he was just as bad (well…maybe not entirely on the killing front) as her brother. So how did he become a beloved uncle and emperor to her…?
Since I did not finish the final third of the series, I can’t comment on how everything is explained. But the plot was getting so frustrating, its amazing I lasted that long.
So…I recommend the first third, but not the rest. It is pretty stand alone and if you don’t mind the unhappy parting of the lovers and Rong Zhi being turned into his sister’s slave (after proclaiming he will die as many times as necessary to remain in Chu Yu’s heart–seriously a warped love), then definitely watch it. But that’s just my 2 cents. I loved Zhang Yi Jie as the crazy Liu Song emperor and Hong Yao as Huan Yuan the scholar who loves Chu Yu and that little boy menke. I missed them for the rest of the series. Definitely want to see these actors and Song Wei Long in more dramas. Guan Xiao Tong did a good job acting as well. It would be nice to see her in less depressing dramas. She did the depressing Novoland Castle in the Sky and this one. And…I think she was the leading lady in the heavy melodrama Love of Aurora or something with Aurora in the title which starred Ma Ke as the man who loved her.
Ah, I almost forgot to mention some other stand outs even though I may not have liked them. Zhao Lu Si played such a detestable role that I really hated her. Seeing her in other dramas, you realize just how great she is. And the annoying prince! I absolutely love Yalkun Merxat as an actor (check out Memory Lost and Demon Girl) but HATED his role in this drama with a passion. Another bright spot was Xu Kai as Shen Yue, Rong Zhi’s righthand man in Northern Wei.