If you're all caught up with K-dramas (a tall order, I know), why not take a break from your fave Hallyu stars and try a Chinese drama instead? I'm talking about Netflix's The Untamed, the fantasy show that's taken social media by storm. Originally aired by China's Tencent Video from June to August 2019, the 50-episode TV series is based on the novel Mo Dao Zu Shi (Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation) written by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu.
The live-action adaptation follows the adventures of two "cultivators" aka humans with supernatural powers, who try to solve a series of murders, uncovering a dark secret that began 16 years in the past.
If that's piqued your interest, read on for five reasons you should add this show to your Watch List:
1. The lead actors are also idols.
Free-spirited and adventurous Wei Wuxian is played by Xiao Zhan, main vocalist of X-Nine, a Chinese boy group formed through EE Media, Tencent Video, and SM Entertainment’s joint Chinese idol survival program X-Fire.
Meanwhile, the honorable and serious Lan Wangji is portrayed by Wang Yibo, main dancer and rapper of Korean-Chinese idol group UNIQ.
2. It's actually based on a novel!
Author Mo Xiang Tong Xiu published the BL novel Mo Dao Zu Shi (Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation) in 2016. BL stands for "Boy Love": In the novel, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji are romantically involved, but due to Chinese censorship, The Untamed presents their relationship as more brotherly...despite the lingering eye contact and literal *heart eyes* at times, plus the fact that the two refer to each other as "soul mates" and "whole-life confidant". Yeah, that's a thing.
In 2017, a manhua (comic) adaptation was released under the same name, followed by an audio drama that began airing in June 2018 (there are currently two seasons available online!). The first season of the donghua (animated series) was released in 2018, followed by season two in 2019. In short, the live-action adaptation is actually the fourth adaptation of the source material!
Fun fact: In the audio drama, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji are voiced by Lu Zhixing and Wei Chao, respectively. The voice actors also dub over their characters' speaking parts in the live-action adaptation, due to China's strict requirement of having all actors use the Putonghua Mandarin dialect on mainstream broadcast shows.
3. The soundtrack is absolutely incredible.
The opening theme song alone should be enough to capture your attention. Fans of CQL (the abbreviation of The Untamed's Chinese name, Chén Qíng Lìng) will know that Wei Wuixian plays the flute, while Lan Zhan is partial to his guqin (seven-string zither). The melody of the orchestral ballad perfectly combines the wind and string instruments, creating a gorgeous harmony that tells the story of Wei Wuixian's life.
The main OST, "Wuji", is a beautiful song that plays during pivotal scenes featuring Wei Wuxian and Lang Wangji—each time you hear its opening notes, you know something emotional is going to happen. Get those tissues ready!
Here are Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo singing it live!
4. THE COSTUMES. 'Nuff said.
We HAVE to talk about the costumes. The insanely-long sleeves just spell out D-R-A-M-A. And don't forget the hairpieces—which were apparently glued on enough times to have the main actors worried about their hairlines, LOL.
Each of the main clans is assigned colors that hint at their key personalities. The clean white of the Gusu Lan sect echoes calmness and order, while the passionate yet free-spirited Yunmeng Jiang sect cultivators are clad in shades of purple. The opulent and noble Lanling Jin sect shines in gold, and the fiery red and notorious black of the Qishan Wen sect hints at their darker life choices.
5. The cast is *extremely* talented.
Aside from the two male leads, The Untamed includes a roster of young talents. In fact, several of the young male actors have formed a group called "The Untamed Boys" to perform together at fan meetings! Zheng Fanxing (Lan Sizhui), Ji Li (Nie Huaisang), Yu Bin (Wen Ning), Cao Yuchen (Jin Zixhuan), Song Jiyang (Xiao Xingchen), and Li Bowen (Song Lan) can sing, rap, and dance *incredibly* well, which make for powerful stage performances.
If that still isn't enough encouragement, I leave you with this clip of Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo being cute behind the scenes:
Do you plan on watching the show, CGs? And if you've already seen all 50 episodes, what are your thoughts on the live-action adaptation?
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