Chinese Historical Fantasy Drama Review: Under The Power (2019)


Under The Power (2019-2020)

55 episodes, watched on Viki (you can find in on YouTube)

Synopsis from MyDramaList

Lu Yi is a cold, ruthless and authoritative high-ranking officer of the Ming Dynasty's Jinyiwei (also known as the Brocaded Guards for their elaborately embroidered uniforms). The Jinyiwei are part of the Emperor's elite bodyguards that also serve as the secret police, and Lu Yi is one of the best at his job.

He meets Yuan Jin Xia, a smart, feisty and tom-boyish female officer from the Police's 6th Division, and they clash over a case that the both of them were involved in. Their paths continue to cross unpleasantly over a series of minor cases until Lu Yi was commissioned by the Emperor to secretly investigate the disappearance of funds that have been set aside for river repairs in Yangzhou. Part of the small team accompanying him includes Yuan Jin Xia, and as the two of them work together to solve the case, they find themselves uncovering a conspiracy involving high court officials while their feelings for each other slowly change from dislike to respectful friendship to love.

~~ Adapted from the web novel "Under the Power" (锦衣之下) by Lan Se Shi (蓝色狮).


* * *

The rating says it all. Allen Ren (Ren Jia Lun) and Seven Tan (Tan Song Yun) is the main attraction here, and mostly it's Seven Tan. She has such a magnetic personality and can pull off the silliest, most idiotic antics for comedy value without being too much. In fact, the more I was watching this, the more I felt that recent Warm on a Cold Night drama which I abandoned half way through tried to poorly imitate Jinxia's behaviour (female lead) and ended up just looking stupid. Besides there were more similarities there.

As the male lead, Lu Yi, says half way through falling in love with Jinxia: "She is mesmerising..", so you can't help but falling into her orbit. 

Jinxia is a classic poor, tenacious, cunning little thing working in the capital's police department, cleverly solving cases and keeping herself in all the little pies she can think of to survive and make money. Her mother sells tofu on the streets and keeps trying to marry her off.

Lu Yi is a complete opposite to Jinxia in almost all the aspects. He is rich, he leads the equivalent of special police of the country which concentrates on internal investigations and keeps rich and powerful in fear. That force answers only to the emperor. Lu Yi is aloof, ruthless and doesn't have many joys or passions in life.

When he clashes with Jinxia over a case, he outdoes her with ease in direct confrontations, but while he is rich in resources and manpower, she is a great tracker and knows common people, so she catches up with him or even thwarts him in other spects. Their antagonism is fun to watch, especially when you see her ruffling his feathers more and more.

"Why not higher rating then?" you'd ask. First of all, a secondary love story is extremely boring and takes too much screen time. I had to skip past their scenes, seriously. 

Secondly, the ending episode is very stupid. Lu Yi who supposingly can plot an intricate chess game, goes and sacrifices himself for a very idiotic reason when all he needed to do is wait a few years and make a move without any danger, and everyone would have been perfectly happy with that plan as there was no urgency to act. Instead, the heroine had to save his sorry a*se again! There was no rhyme or reason in that last act.

Last problem, is that the production is low cost and it's very visible.

So, all these things detracted from my enjoyment but didn't stop me from loving the rest. Overall, a lovely, enjoyable watch! Recommended with some reservations. 


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