Taekwondo Girl ( Tornado Girl / Whirlwind Girl ) is a Chinese TV drama written by Ming Xiaoxi and based on the novel of the same name . The series evolves around one Qi Baicao , a young girl who has been mesmerised by Martial arts since young.
Now the series is more well known as Whirlwind Girl in the east , Taekwondo Girl was used in other regions to capitalise on the popularity of Taekwondo worldwide and the fact that it is a Olympic Sport. But that's not to say that Taekwondo does not play a part in the series.
In fact the art in the series is a fictional one , called Yuan Wu-Dao , it has it's own point rules and team rules for competition.
But for intense and purposes when viewing the series you would see it's basically Taekwondo down to the outfits they wear and the techniques used in the series. But for most part Yuan Wu-Dao is used to describe the art and Taekwondo is used only on a couple of occasions as far as i remember.
The series consists of 32 episodes focusing on the character Qi Baicao . Baicao who at the beginning of the series has had no formal training and basically is used as the dogsbody , by cleaning up after everyone else ,doing chores and such like.
The setting is a the Yuan Wu-Dao training centre in Anyang in the Henan Province of China . It consists of a number of training halls who have different levels of talent . Much like a campus of a University. Baicao belongs to the QUAN SHENG training hall.
Quan Sheng is considered to be the lowest of the halls in Anyang partly due to a scandal which happened some years before concerning Baicao's adopted father and Master Qu Xiangnan played by Vincent Chiao.
Due to the scandal Qu Xiangnan is no longer the Hall Master and has been replaced by his subordinate Zheng Yuanhai, Baicao has such respect for her Adopted Father and Master that she won't formally train with the other students ,so therefore never gets graded or acknowledged .
Trouble starts when Baicao is allowed to come along to the annual display showcase for the Centre where all the halls demonstrate their art to the local public in a bid to promote the art of Yuan Wu-Dao. It's here that Baicao will witness something she finds dishonest and ends up getting involved in a upset that will see her thrown out of Quan Sheng Hall .
The showcase also sees Baicao bare witness to how good the other halls are and introduces her to one of three of the shows male leads who all end up vying for Baicao's attention one way or another.
Lucky enough even though Baicao has been forced out of Quan Sheng in quite the most disturbing circumstances she is saved by her friend and rival hall member Fan Xiaoying of Song Bai Hall.
It's Fan Xiaoying that more or less instigates Baicao's transfer to Song Bai Hall , but again mostly as helper due to her having no Yuan Wu-Dao standing.
This more or less covers the events of the first episode of the series. It's here on in that Baicao's character will develop. With a strong cast including Yang Yang and CHEN Xiang . In all honesty the series plays more a like a soap opera , there's little to no fantasy to the story and even though it may seem like the series may mature into a more romantic drama , this is sternly curtailed to little more then innuendo as the focus of the series is the focus of Baicao's dream to compete in the World Yuan Wu-Dao championships.
In a way the series is a refreshing light hearted drama about youthful teenagers wanting to make the best for their futures and maybe get some recognition in the process. Also the focus on training in the art is well filmed with all manner of techniques shown and explained at any given opportunity , many of the episodes are based in the training hall with the whole class going through different manoeuvres .
But not everything is all roses for Baicao as she will find out as the series goes on. Even though her new hall Master Ruo Bai (Yang Yang) is diligent and respectful he often comes across quite cold towards her. Other encounters she has is with another rival halls Champion Fan Tinghao ( Chen Xiang ) who along with his sister Fan Tingyi are the celebrities of Yuan Wu -Dao and revered by many.
These two hail from the top hall in Anyang, Xian Wu Yuan Wu-Dao Hall.
Fan Tinghao is the flirtatious full of himself champion who tries to coax Baicao on many occasions to do things she really doesn't want to be doing.He's playful and a bit of a prankster , which at times in the series can get a bit aggravating to be honest. But i guess that's the whole point of his character.
One thing you will find with the series is the over politeness of the characters at times, even when common sense would dictate how someone should act under certain circumstances , but no not here people are led on because of other peoples failure to act upon emotion which again makes for some very odd scenes at times.
But it's not all so clear cut for Baicao , after being knocked out by one of Song Bai's students in a encounter out of the training hall , Bacao is rescued by the third male interest in the series Yu Chuyuan , a former champion who decided he didn't want to compete anymore or train in Yuan Wu-Dao. He gave it up to be a medic , he rescues Baicao and treats her .
This quite guy kind of hit's it off with Baicao and this causes complications as Fan Tingyi who has just returned from travelling thinks she is YU Chuyaun's Girlfriend , but once again over politeness in the series sees Yu Chuyuan not disputing this and instead of putting her straight lets her think as she likes.
This causes Baicao problems as Fan TingYi is quite jealous and sees Baicao as her rival and it's here that the clash between Baicao and Tingyi will begin to escalate into a battle of wits throughout the season.
Now another thing that gets Baicao's back up is anybody being nasty to her adopted father and master Qu Xiangnan, even though he did not stop her being thrown out of the Quan Sheng he did proactively set her up to be able to train at Song Bai.
The series gets a much needed boost when Rivals from Korea arrive on a visit and one of the students ( Kim Min Joo) insults Baicao's adopted father.
Not only does she damage Quan Sheng sign but then proceeds to go to Song Bai to challenge them , in doing so beats them one by one. But when she insults Qu Xiangnan once more Baicao steps out and challenges her ,proclaiming that she could beat her and that she's only the cleaner.
It's here where the potential of Baicao is noted and from here on in the story becomes focused on Baicao becoming the best she can be. Of course she will have her ups and downs along the way but each episode builds on the focus of Baicao nurturing her talent as a martial artist under the watchful eye of her teacher Ruo Bai.
What i really liked about the series is the honour of martial arts is forefront in the writing . Every couple of episodes there' where challenges for Baicao whether it be a competition or learning a new technique in a certain way. That's not to say that the continued innuendo between the various parties was left behind in any way ,but became more balanced within the story.
Taekwondo Girl will keep you glued to the screen at times , as Baicao trains under the watchful eye of Ruo Bai your see she progresses at a alarming rate. Her character will also learn some harsh lessons about being to forward and sure of herself at times to. It's under these circumstances that she falls foul of Fan Tingyi the shining star of Xian Wu Hall . Her nemesis throughout the series.
Now as far as martial arts is concerned the series does quite well , Hu Bingqing as Baicao fares well , of course some of the moves in the film are wire assisted or electronically enhanced . But the basic grounded work looks like all the cast actually got down to some hard training for the roles. Yang Yang as Ruo Bai is very convincing in the role as senior and teacher, he performs the moves with passion and it shows.
Yang Yang is capable of doing so from what i have seen , there is a video on youtube of Yang Yang and Ji Chang Wook on some television show where they show what they can do physically. This is good for the show as it shows the actors are really doing the action for themselves , which in Western TV action is not always so.
Taekwondo Girl is a must see for anyone interested in martial arts , especially from a view to show how hard you have to work to actually learn martial arts.
It's the same old adage , many who go to learn martial arts never actually make it past the first grading , dropping out as they find the training to hard . They believe there's some mystic power that will empower them and that after a couple lessons that they will be able to perform all manner of techniques .
After more then twenty five years training I find myself still learning. Taekwondo Girl shows that what ever you master and who ever you fight that there will always be better fighters your meet and techniques that your find awkward as not all are suited to every person.
Maybe that's why this show clicked with me , it showed a journey of this young hopeful martial artist who must overcome many obstacles to get where she wants to be.
If i had to give any cons against the show is the way major events within the story are constantly interrupted by the end of a episode , fights and confrontation are often cut of mid flight. Your compelled to sit and watch the next episode. Then your have other episodes where not to much happens , mainly these are episodes concentrating on the relationship between Baicao and the shows three main Male stars.
Another con slightly is the amount of characters you have to contend with , apart from the main cast you have the supporting cast who come across as much as the main cast , they have there own little stories to tell and keeping track of names and such like can be a task at times , unless of course you understand Mandarin and are not reading subtitles as you view.
I enjoyed my time with the show and was sorry to see it end , which all good drama's should do. I was also excited to hear that a second season was available to watch where the story of Baicao continues.
Unfortunately Hu Bingqing declined to do the second season because during the run of the show she was badgered on social media for not being pretty enough or odd looking and that in reality any of the three male stars would not look at her .
This caused her some stress and she chose not to return to film the second season because of this.
For me Hu Bingqing was excellent as Baicao and found her a likeable character on screen.
We will review the second season very soon , but for now Taekwondo Girl is a fun watch , your laugh , your be on the edge of your seat , your even at times cringe at some scenes but your enjoy your ride with Qi Baicao and all the other characters .
The show is available on Amazon Prime video with English subtitles. It's also available on dedicated streaming sites for Oriental drama's and have even noticed episodes on youtube.