The City of Devastating Love Starts Filming with Yuan Hong and Jiang Xin as One Set of OTP

The casting has been completed for The City of Devastating Love, the drama adaptation of Tang Qi Gong Zi‘s period fantasy romance novel Hua Xu Yin (The Lure of the Hua Xu Tune), and I’ll use this as another reminder not to believe in early reports. Initially the word was Kevin Cheng, Jiang Xin, and Yuan Hong were the three leads and I was immensely pleased with that. But the final casting is all been jumbled up and I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve been preparing my write up on the novel, which I loved to pieces, but I’m going to have to discuss the drama and its casting first. I’ve read the leaked 30-episode synopsis for the drama and can confirm that its very VERY different than the novel. Set up, ages, relationships, so much has been changed it really should be called “loosely based on” or “inspired by” rather than an adaptation. And since the drama title is different than the novel, I think the producers knew what they were doing from the get go. The novel is lovely, so light and humorous, yet filled with epic romance galore. The drama as based on the synopsis actually is very compelling as well and could stand on its own. Hua Xu Yin is a novel where the main OTP of Mu Yen and Jun Fu traverse through the epic love stories of 4 other couples, and within those stories their love will develop into its own epic arc. The other four couples are Song Ning/Shen An, Rong Yuan/Ying Ge, Gongyi Fei/Qing Jiu Jiu, and finally Mu Yen’s parents Su Heng/ Murong An. The final casting indeed has Kevin playing male lead Mu Yen (Su Yu), but Jiang Xin and Yuan Hong are not playing who I thought they would be. They are playing Song Ning and Shen An! No, I am not kidding! OMFG whut is this?!? Playing the female lead Ye Zhen/Jun Fu is C-actress Lin Yuan, while Jun Wei is Luo Jin. Rounding out the main cast is Cui Po as Liu Qi Qi, Bao Jian Feng as Rong Heng, and Guo Zhen Ni (who acted with Yuan Hong in Bu Bu Jing Xin playing Lu Wu) as Ying Ge/13th Moon. My mind is spinning about this casting, I need to vent a little below. If you’ve read the novel, what do you think about this entire cast?

So Kevin Cheng is indeed playing male lead the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Zhen Mu Yen/Su Yu, and joining him as the leads are Lin Yuan as Ye Zhen/Ah Fu, the Princess of the Kingdom of Wei, and Luo Jin as Jun Wei, Ye Zhen’s childhood best friend. The drama version of the love triangle between these three is very different than the novel. In fact, young Ye Zhen’s hilarious and tender first encounter with Mu Yen in the cave is completely gone and they first meet as adults. Similary Ye Zhen doesn’t grow up with Jun Wei (and my beloved Xiao Huang – the yellow tiger – is gone!) but they do have a childhood experience together. Jun Wei’s character background has also totally been changed but revealing it would be a total spoiler. In the novel there isn’t a real love triangle but the drama will have a very tough choice for Ye Zhen to choose. I would say this OT3 leaves me mostly unmoved and unimpressed. Kevin can pull off the drama version of Mu Yen (he’s totally wrong for the novel version), but the other two are unknowns for me. This will need some crazy chemistry to sell the love triangle. Or else Yuan Hong and Jiang Xin will steal the show in the section of the drama where their story is told.

The best part of this cast is that Yuan Hong and Jiang Xin is playing one set of OTP, but I cannot stress enough how much I loathe Shen An. I hate that man like I hate the existence of brain eating bacteria. Above is the first look at Yuan Hong on the set in costume as Shen An, General of the Kingdom of Jiang and all-around male hottie. Jiang Xin is actually PERFECT to play Song Ning, warrior princess of the Kingdom of Li. I actually have much respect for Song Ning and her intense love/hate relationship with Shen An, even if her character frustrates the hell out of me. The entirety of Song Ning and Shen An’s love story mix-up involves a serious lack of communication that could be remedied with one honest conversation. Of course, neither of those two hotheads could be bothered when things start off complicated as all hell already, but I wanted to headdesk myself so often on their behalf. Playing Liu Qi Qi is C-actress Cui Po and I swear this poor girl just got saddled with the one character I hate more than Shen An in this story. How could my loverboy Yuan Hong be playing Shen An!!! If he isn’t Mu Yen or Jun Wei, I want him to be Rong Yuan, sweet perfect Rong Yuan with his love story with Ying Ge.

Some people say Song Ning and Shen An’s story was the most intense and passionate and unforgettable in the entire novel. I can see why, what with Song Ning falling for this hunk on the battlefield and dragging his dying ass back to safety and the whole “their Kingdoms are at war” bit. But my favorite story-within-a-story in Hua Xu Yin was Ying Ge and Rong Yuan’s love story, and even Ying Ge and Rong Xun was really sad to read. The totality of Song Ning’s love for Shen An was that she loved him too much but not enough than her pride, and he didn’t love her enough to read between the lines and question his own perception of reality which we all knew was based on a misconception that Liu Qi Qi didn’t clear up. The novel does tweak their story a bit, such as dropping the LOL scene when bumbling Ye Zhen goes into the dream and accidentally pushes Liu Qi Qi off a cliff – ahahaha, totally still crying tears of laughter here. Watching Yuan Hong and Jiang Xin turn Shen An and Song Ning into a reality will be gutwrenching to watch. Which of course means imma watching this come hell or high water.

My favorite arc in the novel Hua Xu Yin is actually the second story-within-a-story. The complicated four-way love triangle between Ying Ge, her twin sister Jing Que, the Duke Rong Xun, and his cousin the King of the Kingdom of Zheng Rong Yuan. Two twin sisters, two powerful cousins, one case of altered identity dogging the four of them. I’m a little disappointed by the casting of Ying Ge and Rong Yuan. Of all the female leads in BBJX, Guo Zhen Ni was my least favorite. She just has this perpetually long sad face to me. In the novel, Ying Ge was easily my second favorite female lead after heroine Ye Zhen. Her cannot-be love triangle with a pair of royal cousins and some identity swapping was wonderfully compelling and I rooted for her all the way. It doesn’t appear that the novel has cast Rong Xun yet, though I would be surprised if the drama made it that the two cousins look alike and have the same actor play both.

I’m still digesting this casting and mulling through the possibilities. If the drama was a straight adaptation of the novel this casting would suck, but since its a mostly different narrative this might actually work. One set of OTP in the novel won’t even be featured in the drama – Gongyi Fei and Qin Jiu Jiu (the 3rd story in the arc and my least favorite) doesn’t appear though Gongyi Fei’s character is still the same. He just doesn’t have a loveline and that actually is fine by me. He’s a pretty meh character and the love story with Qing Jiu Jiu drove me nuts since its all based on one gigantic lie that drives everyone to act out of sorts. Overall this drama looks good to me, I’m just trying to re-adjustment my expectations since I thought Yuan Hong would be playing Jun Wei and Jiang Xin would be the heroine Ye Zhen. Right now only Yuan Hong and Jiang Xin are on set and Kevin is set to join them shortly.

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The City of Devastating Love Starts Filming with Yuan Hong and Jiang Xin as One Set of OTP — 12 Comments

  1. All the names… my head is spinning! Seems to be a nice story, will try and find time to watch, or at least I hope I’ll be able to read the recaps here 🙂

  2. I am mostly a silent reader on your blog but when it comes to HXY, I need to write something. I wrote in your previous post I am not thrill to have KC as Mu Yen and the change in the story. Now this takes the cake. Oh, I am so disappointed that YH & JX will only be guest starring:( The worst part is YH will act as Shen An, the guy I hate most in the novel.

    When I heard the 1st story, I wanna strangle Shen An considering I am a non-violent person. He is so stupid & stubborn. I know Song Ning also played a role in deepening the misunderstanding but come on he is the guy so act like one. People told me they like the 1st story the most bcos it is the 1st one they heard. Sorry, I just can’t stand this pair!!! I am not going to write spoiler. I’ll just say the only part I like in this story is Shen An’s ending, serve him right, lol.

    Like you, I like the 2nd story the most because it is so much more touching and inevitable. I also love Ying Ge the most but I can’t say the same for Guo Zhen Ni:( Ying Ge is such a sad character but she is one tough woman who is able to love & move on in life. Just that fate has not been kind to her. I dislike Rong Yun but not as much as Shen An. Why can’t YH & JX be in this story, sob sob?

    I don’t think I’ll bother watching this drama unless I read an awesome post from you. I’ll just rewatch those fans made MVs with my dream casts which follow the novel faithfully. But I’ll tune in to watch the 1st story, hoping that my blood level can stay calm:P

    • P, you’re so fast – it’s not even funny. 😀

      I’ll probably end up loving the first story the most in the drama because it has Yuan Hong and Jiang Xin in it! And after watching Jiang Xin as Hua Fei, I know she’ll do a smashing job as Song Ning. Song Ning’s story is equal parts tragic and frustrating because the only thing that stood in their way was really pride and prejudice – he was prejudiced and she was too prideful beg him to listen. But I already foresee that I will blubber helplessly as I try to reach into my screen and force them to make up and be good to each other.

      Who’s this Lin Yuan? I can’t find her on dramawiki (which worries me even more). I don’t mind Luo Jin because I actually like his performances – although this isn’t a great role really. Haha… We probably get more screen time with YH as Shen An over a short but intense period of time. I dislike Shen An too but YH is playing him… and that would probably change my mind in a nanosecond after i lay eyes on him. Gah, I think they need to pad up Shen An’s character because I am never sure of his feelings towards Song Ning. For it to be an epic OTP, there must be some genuine attraction on his part. But given that he never knew her identity under the very end, I’m not sure how they can actually make SA a character we can emphatise with. Not love or agree with – just not outright hate?

      I maintain that the best OT3 to play out the Thirteenth Moon storyline is Hu Ge x LSS x Yuan Hong. LSS can do double duty. Spoiler Ques: What happens to Ying Ge in the end? I kinda miss that bit.

      I always feel that JJ and GYF’s story is meant to be foreshadowing for Mu Yen and A’Fus. so I read and appreciate it as part of the main characters’ love line than a standalone love story.

      • Ying Ge’s ending?

        Spoilers galore hereafter:

        Ying Ge finds out the truth through the Hua Xu dreams Jun Fu spun for her. She finds out that Rong Yuan knew all along she was not Jing Que but was Ying Ge, and that Rong Xun switched the two twins identities. That means Rong Yuan’s supposed anger over the deception was playacting since he knew all along and was fine with it. She finds out how much he loved her – that he was dying so he pretended to be angry with the deception and sent her away into imprisonment for 10 years knowing she would die by his side if he died. Ying Ge also learned her sister Jing Que and Rong Xun were unhappy, the former finding out that Ying Ge loved Rong Xun initially and she was the interloper, and the latter pretty much realizing he also loved Ying Ge but that was after he married her off to Rong Yuan.

        In the end, Ying Ge offers up her body as a replacement for the dead Jing Que (who chose death in the dream) as per Rong Xun’s desire to save Jing Que. When Rong Xun learns that Jing Que’s resurrection will be at the cost of Ying Ge’s life (she’ll take over Ying Ge’s body), at the very last second he choses to stop the procedure. Jun Fu had told him to pick one sister and he chose Ying Ge.

        But the Ying Ge who woke up lost her memories and thought Rong Xun was Rong Yuan. Rong Xun was fine with that and was going to marry her. But Jun Fu heard days later that on the wedding day, the bride disappeared. She knew where Ying Ge went. She knew that Ying Ge must’ve regained her memories and there was no way in hell she was marrying Rong Xun. Ying Ge’s ending is that she died beside Rong Yuan – she snuck into his royal tomb and killed herself lying beside him in the tomb. That is what she told Jun Fu was her biggest wish – to be with her husband in death forever more. And there was no way for Rong Xun to find her – despite being the King now, the former King’s tomb was inviolate so Ying Ge chose the only place in the world Rong Xun could never find her, and where she could be with Rong Yuan forever. Jun Fu thought she was happy and was happy for her end.

      • Awesome. Thanks. Totally did not hear that part… so must go back now to listen to the audiobook, specifically that chapter.

        Mrs K – will you be translating HXY?

  3. I’m slightly upset that Yuan Hong won’t be playing Mu Yan/Jun Wei & Jiang Xin won’t be darling Ye Zhen. But only because it means less screen time for them both. Can you even call Song Ning & Shen An an OTP? *cry*

  4. I’m afraid I’m just so confused with the different stories, especially the one re the twins. I suppose that even after knowing the actual story HXY it will not make much difference because, as you’ve said, they are not adhering to the main plot. I’m still interested in watching whatever comes and make the best of it, I suppose. At the moment I feel rather disappointed which is really an understatement!

  5. “Some people say Song Ning and Shen An’s story was the most intense and passionate and unforgettable in the entire novel.” – nodding my head furiously at this line

    Yes, I do love the first 2 stories-within-a-story most. Rather than saying that Song Ning did not love Shen An more than her pride, to me she loved him so much that she stayed on despite her pride and eventually gave up on him. My poor heart ached so much when she said what she said to Jun Fu when she had to make the decision at the end of the dream.

    Sigh and I want to see more Yuan Hong too.. sigh double sigh

  6. I don’t think Song Ning was prideful – given Shen An’s devotion to his mistress, Song Ning is right that he will never believe her unless the mistress confessed. Too bad she did not spend more effort to force a confession. She may have cursed Shen An to die repeated times but given her status n the treatment she went through, I thot it was justified. Hell, even I wish the idiot would go off n die, but he didn’t, to my dismay. I won’t be watching the drama although i have no issues with the casting except that Kelvin Cheng is a bit too old to play Mu Yen, my concern is that the drama adaptation seem to carry one-dimensional characters which will be painful to watch.

  7. Ok…I didn’t quite understand who was who the first time I read this post but I’ve read the book since and I love love Ying Ge/Rong Yuan the most. Rong Yuan kind of reminds me of Ling gege and I have abundance of love for them both! Hope there will be a new post soon so I can spazz there instead!

  8. despite reading song ning and shen an’s story and watching the drama version, i still love this pair the most. though they may not have many lovey-dovey scenes as ying ge and rong yuan, their portrayal of the characters and everything about the their story was unforgettable.

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