Battle of Changsha (First Impression)

This WWII-era drama is guaranteed to be a tearjerker. Stock up on the tissues. At the very least, we’ll get to see Wallace Huo’s handsome face through all those tears.



Characters:

  • Wallace Huo as Gu Qing Ming
  • Yang Zi as Hu Xiang Xiang
  • Ren Cheng Wei as Xue Jun Shan
  • Zuo Xiao Qing as Hu Xiang Jun
  • Niu Jun Feng as Hu Xiang Jiang (Xiao Man)
  • Gao Xin as Liu Ming Han
  • Liu Zhen Jun as Liu Xiu Xiu

Details:

  • Chinese
  • 32 episodes
  • Original run: March 5 – 12, 2014

Quick Rundown:

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the 1938 Changsha Fire altered the lives of an entire city and country. Before that fateful event, the lively and independent Hu Xiang Xiang is arranged by her brother-in-law to be married to the cold and serious Gu Qing Ming, an Intelligence Officer in the Nationalist Army stationed at Changsha. Only through this marriage can she and her family safely leave Changsha before the Japanese invasion. The two, however, immediately clash upon meeting for the first time, and an engagement seems highly unlikely. But all that is rendered insignificant when the Changsha Fire rages through the city, and Qing Ming, Xiang Xiang, and the entire Hu family must bravely confront the wartime damages on and off the battlefields.

Anna’s Take:

Battle of Changsha immediately went on my “Must Watch” list because it has two of my favorite things: Chinese WWII setting and Wallace Huo. After the first two episodes, this drama certainly didn’t disappoint. While the beginning is light on the heartbreaking emotions and action-packed scenes of a war drama, those will obviously come later when the war is more front and center. Despite the lack of immediate action, there was enough intrigue around the characters and their individual stories to pique my interest and encourage me to continue watching. Don’t let the quick introductions to the other characters besides Xiang Xiang and Qing Ming fool you. They definitely all seem to have more depth to them than what was shown in these two episodes.

For me, one of the strengths of the drama is how they’re dealing with Xiang Xiang and Qing Ming’s relationship. Clearly neither person wanted to take part in the arranged marriage, so it was quite a relief that the show allowed them to dislike each other right off the bat instead of getting married and having to work out their differences later. Both characters seem like they aren’t willing to take BS from anyone, so it makes sense that they’d reject this arrangement. I’m looking forward to see how Xiang Xiang and Qing Ming will bypass the romance clichés of dramas, especially since they ain’t got time to waste on that when there’s a war going on!

I haven’t watched a Chinese drama set during this time period in awhile, so it was exciting to see how far the production value has come, in terms of the pyrotechnics, set design, and props. There was a small scene in the first episode of buildings being destroyed by the bombs dropped by Japanese fighter jets, but the quality of just that minute-long scene was amazing. I can only imagine that the more intense battle scenes in the later episodes will be even more astonishing to watch. Of course, the somewhat negative of having such high quality and detailed war scenes is that it’s so realistic that your emotions are going to be off the charts while watching it. Yes, that makes for a good war drama but maybe not so much for our tear ducts and heartache. Then again, war dramas will always do that even when the production value is not so great, so let’s just be grateful that it’s incredible here.

Going forward, I have high hopes for Battle of Changsha. If the drama is able to balance the action with the emotions, instead of just gratuitous battle scenes, it can be a great one that goes beyond the “war drama” category. The inclusion of veteran actors alongside the younger leads should help ground the drama and prevent it from becoming too melodramatic. Give the first few episodes a chance even if you aren’t the biggest fan of historical/wartime dramas because this one seems to have enough human drama to neutralize the battle fighting action. I’m excited to keep watching this, and hope that I will be able to move it from my personal “Must Watch” list to a permanent home on my “All-Time Favorites” one.

This & That:

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