The Legends aka Zhaoyao
Based on the Novel : Zhaoyao The Legends by Jiuliu Feixiang
The Legends – 2019
Many viewing the site and our Facebook pages will know I'm quite into my Chinese Dramas of late.
I like the way the stories are vast and each drama is told in one season for the most part.
Yes, they are a long haul at times with many coming in at 40 to 60 episodes, often running at 45 minutes each episode.
So on average a season of one of these dramas can take in the region of 38 hours for a fifty-episode drama.
The Legends is my latest binge-worthy drama which contains a whopping 56 episodes, and I'm viewing and reviewing this in conjunction with our Halloween special on-site.
And hoping to finalise this review by the time I conclude the event, which is just a few days away.
Luckily I have watched a fair amount of this story over the past couple of weeks to prepare and am now at Episode 46 and on the home run.
The Legends is based on a fantasy novel by the name of Zhaoyao.
It revolves around an Immortal World and a Demonic World that sits side by side.
The Immortals are like the Gods and each has its own factions which they call sects.
Each sect has a leader, and they each have their own regions and rules. They all rule over their people from their grand lodgings and palace-like homes.
But at the head of the Immortal sects is one man, chosen to be the almighty protector of the Immortals. He is the Gold Deity, a man with a Gold impenetrable body. The Gold Deity is known as the saviour for the Immortals as he has the power to defend against all evil power.
On the other hand, you have the Demonic World where peasant-like people live in seclusion away from the Immortals. Separated by an invisible barrier that stops the two worlds' inhabitants from crossing over to one another.
But the Demonic World is there for a reason, inhabitants of the region are tasked with looking over a sacred tomb where The Son of the Demon King was imprisoned many years earlier.
Living in the forests close to the Tomb are the Keepers of the Tomb, A elderly Man and his Grandaughter. They live a gentle life and make sure the Tomb is not disturbed, that is their sole goal in life.
The elderly man's granddaughter Lu ZhaoYao longs for excitement and wishes that one day she could see the world, but as her grandfather tells her, her destiny is to take over protecting the Tomb when he passes.
Low and Behold, no he doesn't die, but some ruffians break into the Tomb and disturb the Demon Son. Upon hearing this, the Immortals grow concerned and the Gold Deity goes on a mission to Vanquish the Son of the Demon King before he can break free. Using his super impervious body, and a helping of a magical power of Chi he opens up a window in the Barriers between the two worlds and enters the Demonic area.
But all is too late and the Gold Deity suffers a near-fatal injury and is left stranded in a land he wishes to not be in, yes, I would rather be in a nice Palace surrounded by servants than stranded in a Demonic World.
Hiding in a local barn to try and recuperate he is found by Lu Zhao Yao, who attends to his wounds and brings him food, after a while, he regains enough strength to return to the Immortal World.
Lu Zhao Yao becomes quite attached to him and he gives her advice on how to be a Good person and not let the forces of the Demonic World impair her judgment.
As he leaves Lu Zhao Yao catches a glimpse of the beauty of the Immortal world and begins to wish to be able to one day enter the realm of the immortals.
Back in the land of the Immortals, the Gold Deity's followers have been looking for him, as he has been gone a while, he comes across them near the barrier of worlds. And is taken back to his home to fully recover.
When word gets out that the Son of the Demon King has escaped, the Immortals send out troops across all regions to track him down, they know his look and that he has a distinct birthmark on his face.
Meanwhile, Lu Zhao Yao has haggard her grandfather about going to the Immortal World to basically site see and experience life from another side. Plus if she goes, she will visit the Gold Deity as he did offer for her to come and see him if she manages to gain enough power and spirit to break through the barrier.
Her Grandfather helps ZhaoYao refine her sword technique and form. She practices constantly and at a steadfast pace. Eventually, the day comes when she attains enough power and ability to break open the barrier to enter the Immortal World.
Opening the barrier she bids a farewell to her Grandfather and goes on her travels.
Little does she know that she is about to open up a big can of worms and turn the lands of the Immortals and the Demonic World upside down.
Just from the opening episodes, the story is quite complex, many factions are in the picture. But what I find about The Legends is that it grabs you from the off, Lu Zhao Yao played by actress Bai Lu is a mesmerising character, and her happy-go-lucky persona is a joy to watch. Plus the landscapes and effects in the series from the off are wonderful to look at.
My only regret is that I'm viewing this on my TV and not my big screen as I'm still renovating my Screening room. Because on 70-80 inches wide, this would look wonderful.
On with the story we go...
Zhao Yao's aim is to see the wonders of the Immortal World and pay a visit to her friend Luo Mingxuan ( The Gold Deity), on her travels she helps a teenage boy who's been bullied, that just happens to be the Son of the Demon King.
When the story of the Demon King's son gets around, it is not too long before he is captured, and sentenced to death by the Immortals.
Upon hearing this, and the description of the boy, Zhao Yao decides to uphold justice and rescue the lad.
Charging into the confrontation single-handed she confronts the Immortal sect leaders just before the sentence is to be carried out on what looks like a gallows.
Not present is the Gold Deity who is still recovering and has left the proceedings to his subordinates.
After a daring battle against the immortals, Zhao Yao frees the Demon Kings Son and decides to go pay her friend the Gold Deity a visit.
Of course, by this time there is a declaration to arrest Zhao Yao and bring her to justice for freeing the Son of the Demon King.
Upon visiting the Deity Zhao Yao falls right into the hands of the people she has confronted and is captured.
Treated like a witch she is bound with chains and tortured, even by the man she saved in her homeland.
Now it may seem I'm giving away far too much here, but in all honesty, I am barely covering the basics of the story, and to convince you to view this piece it needs a bit of explaining.
So on we go. Also on travels is Zhao Yao's Grandfather who hears of her capture and torture, he wastes no time in a rescue bid to save his flesh and blood, unfortunately at the cost of his own life.
This is where the story takes a darker turn, Zhao Yao vows revenge on the Immortal world, The series uses a series of flashforwards, and flashbacks to show how Zhao Yao builds an army in the Demonic world under the title of Wan Lu Sect.
She becomes known as the Demoness and is feared by all as she rules with a stern cold hand.
For ultimate power, Zhao Yao wants to retrieve the infamous Wan Jun Sword which was sealed deep in a cavern. This is known to all and the Immortals plan to take action to vanquish Zhao Yao at an opportune time.
All does not go to plan for Zhao Yao or the Immortals. Presumed dead, the Immortal World thinks they have won, but the infamous sword has fallen into the hands of the Son of the Demon King who Zhao Yao kept by her side. All along.
Known as Mo Qing or The Ugly Kid because of his Blue facial birthmark, he takes the Sword which he retrieved and here we have a flash-forward of approximately five years or so.
As the leader of Wan Lu Sect, the Son of the Demon King, now known by his real name of Chen Lan Li has brought peace to the Demonic World and rules Wan Lu sect in a fairer and more business-like manner. The Immortal World still fears Wan Lu but seems to let them get on with what they do.
But all is not so peaceful, as the immortal sects have been in turmoil since losing The Gold deity by the hand of Zhao Yao, his Wife is hell-bent on resurrecting him and has been hard at work at an answer to this.
Chen Lan at Wan Lu has mourned the loss of Zhao Yao for years, and often spends time at the memorial grave he had placed in the grounds of Wan Lu sect.
Her body was never found!
Now I am reviewing this as a part of our Halloween and Jiangshi special on-site, that's because this story is about to just get started.
From secrets kept from others, stories of resurrection, Magical swords, Invisibility, and land situated between Heaven and Earth The Legends contain the making of a good demonic Dragon spitting story full of Buddhism, Flying Swords, and hearts set on revenge for the sake of Love.
There's no denying The Legends is full of surprises, it holds your attention from the first episode. It also pretty much continues to hold it to the final, some 56 episodes later.
Yes, there are a few slow episodes as far as I was concerned, but then as a revenge, come Love story with comical and dark overtones it is a series that tries to cover many bases.
Action wise it won't win any awards, what practical sword fighting does take place is limited to the special effect-based action involving magic, fire, and the obligatory flying associated with Wuxia-style flicks. Of course, there is a name for these types of series or films.
The term is Xianxia as it includes all these elements.
But the winner for the series is of course Bai Lu who plays Zhao Yao, she is just perfect as the Demoness hell-bent on handing it to the Immortal sects. Even though she is not always so demonic, as at times she has to give way to a more caring persona within herself.
Also good in the role is Xu Kai as Chen Lan Li the Son of the Demon King who plays the role very subdued at times, even though he looks like a member of a boy band more than some evil sect leader.
But this I find is a problem with all Chinese TV dramas and quite a few films of theirs. They like to portray themselves as the most beautiful people in the world, most of these dramas have very few average Joe or Jane-looking cast members in lead roles.
If you take Hong Kong Cinema and TV of old you see it was all about the ability of the actor or actress, not how pretty they were.
But then with the Chinese government controlling the media as it does in China, I'm sure there are some big wigs deciding who will be the next big Chinese star and which people are not good enough looking to appear in front of the cameras.
In fact, the only older person in a role here is the Grandfather of Zhao Yao, who is of a portly figure. But then who knows they could have used FX to make him look that way.
It's like they exclude all skinny, fat, dwarf-like, and elderly people from being seen.
Another actress who will surprise is Xao Yan who plays an Immortal who seeks refuge at the Wan Lu sect. Her role is complex as she has to play two parts at times, which she pulls off really well.
I found on average I was watching two to three episodes at a time. Each episode runs for about forty minutes, so that of a good length feature film for three episodes.
So if you watch a feature film each night, in theory, you could do the whole series in about 17 days.
One thing about these modern-day Chinese dramas they have moved on in terms of production quality since the early days of those Hong Kong dramas, which were shot on a very low budget.
Now many look AAA features like and this is another reason to keep watching this one. Some of the set pieces are so visually stunning to watch that the effects often steal the show.
I don't know how much was shot in open spaces, but the woodland and mountain scenes look as real as you could get.
Probably the hardest part of watching something like this is that it evolves around many factions, the Immortal sects consist of around ten factions, each with their own leaders, each having their own goals, and views on how things should be run.
Even the Demonic lands and Wan Lu sect have their own separate leaders, add in surrounding villages, a world of Limbo, an upcoming upstart and mythical demons and secret Tombs and you have to keep track of all the goings-on in the universe.
I enjoyed my time with The Legends, it entertained me without boring me at any time. Which is quite a feat for such a long series.
Its mixture of elements keeps the story fresh at times, and even though there were times when I wished certain characters would do one thing instead of another to move the story in a direction that I preferred to the one shown I stuck with it.
Out of all the Dramas I have watched lately it may not be the best, though this garnered some favourable reviews elsewhere, it's still a must-see if you like these types of shows.
The series is available to view via Amazon Prime video, as well as episodes with constant adverts available on Youtube.
Of note, during certain episodes, the sound would go off completely, often at the start of a musical interlude where the story would unfold in a small series of clips. Whether this was down to music copyright, I do not know. But as there are a few songs attached to the series it may be so.
Review Date: 09-11-2021
Review By: Sertes Nake
Director : Zhen Weiwen
Based on : ZHAOYAO by Juiliu Feixiang
Starring: Bai Lu
Writers : Juiliu Feixiang / Yang Qianzi / Peng Yunrui
Network: Hunan TV
Language: Mandarin / Subtitle English
UK network: Amazon Prime
Number of Episodes: 56