Battle of Changsha ( 戰長沙)
Synopsis: Battle of Changsha retells the turbulent events of the second Sino-Japanese war through the perspective of the Hu family, particularly through the eyes of a 16 year old girl named Xiang Xiang and her twin brother, Xiao Man. Gu Qing Ming, is a strict Intelligence Officer in the Nationalist Army from a prominent political family. The feisty fun-loving Xiang Xiang and the arrogant Gu Qing Ming start off on bad terms, however their romance blossoms as they constantly bump into each other. ~~ Based on the novel by the same name by Que Que.
Genre: Romance, War, Historical
Duration: 45 min
Casting: Yang Zi, Huo Wallace, Ren Cheng Wei, Niu Jun Feng etc…
Battle of Changsha was at first only an experiment I conducted for Wallace Huo (just like all the other dramas I’ve watched with him in fact). I’m usually not really fond of story taking place during wars and it was to be honest the first time I was watching a 30 episodes drama of that genre. But what a drama! Battle of Changsha tells the story of a Chinese family living in a town in the grip of the Japanese army. That doesn’t sound really exciting said like that -and to be honest, sometimes, it really wasn’t. The first part was actually rather slow and I got bored more than once even though I loved the atmosphere (the setting, the making, the ost, the outfit, the superb performance of the actors… Everything seemed true to life). Wallace Huo and the romance were, all in all, the main points keeping me going at that time. The plot in itself wasn’t bad. I just didn’t like some characters on which we were, unfortunately, spending too much time for me.
But what I realised later on was that this first part had been, in fact, really well-written. The scriptwriter had made us a favour by spending so much time on each character. The realistic approach of their everyday life allowed us to become attached -unconsciously- to every one of them (even those I didn’t really like) and build strong bases for further developments and twists. Battle of Changsha went crescendo in that way. The second part kept me on my toes as the Japanese noose was tightening around Changsha and all characters evolved into new ones. The writing in itself was rather simple. The evolution of each characters were logical to not say predictable (though I had lost hope for some of them) but it was this simplicity, this raw reality that gave depth to the drama and life to all our emotion. Cause yes! Battle of Changsha was a beautiful and emotional roller-coaster before anything else. You fear for the soldiers’ live (Jungshan and Gu Qing Ming) but also for the citizens’ones. That’s actually what I liked the most in that drama: everything was perfectly balance either it was the romance/the war, the laugh/the cry or the battlefield and the back. It left rooms for every characters, with no role discrimination.
I liked the first glimpse I caught from Xiang Xiang (Yang Zi) in the very first episode. She seemed like she would give everyone a hard time with her chatterbox. But that first positive impression quickly disappeared as she revealed to be only a puerile child. I couldn’t get over her silly behaviour. The only positive point about her childishness was that it allowed her and Gu Qing Ming to grow closer as he was always there to save her skin. Her twin brother Xiao Man (Niu Jun Feng) was actually the same as her -if not worst at time (I’m mainly thinking about his one sided love with Jin Feng which made him utterly nasty with the poor Xiu Xiu. I understood his behaviour as he didn’t want to give this latter false hope -despite being promised to each other since their childhood- but it was annoying to see him turned ridicule for another girl who didn’t give a damn about him). In other words the twins -although nice at first sigh- were real pain in the ass for me (especially since no evolution seemed perceptible). Yes they spiced the plot and added welcoming twists, but their behaviours mainly urged my desire to slap the both of them. In the end I liked how the war forced them to grow -especially Xiang Xiang. She became a young, responsible and beautiful woman as she started working as a nurse in the town’s hospital. I utterly loved that new facet of hers and my annoyance faded along the episode, letting place to admiration. I only realised at that moment that we had to go through “Xiang Xiang the mischevious child” to fully appreciate that evolution of hers (just like for every characters. Wars transform people). On the other hand Xiao Ma didn’t grow as well as her. He didn’t change as much as I would have wished- or at least became aware of the situation too late. He was the character I liked the less.
My first assessment about Junshan (Ren Cheng Wei) was rather similar to the ones done for the twins. Junshan was the man of the family. He had for duty to take care of them even though he was only an in-law. But underneath his moralizing tone, lay dormant a big kid who wasn’t always very honest. I didn’t like his frivolity, how he almost mocked war. I knew that his reactions were rather normal as war wasn’t yet at Changsha’s doors but I didn’t like how in the end the Hu Family seemed to put spoke in the Chinese army’s wheel rather than anything else.
Just like for the twins I started to like his character only when things got serious in Changsha. Though he still behaved like a big kid at times- especially around Gu Qing Ming- the scriptwriters gave him more seriousness. In the last episodes he was almost like another character: a character ate away by love and sufferance. He became one of my favourite character (>>>SPOILER- and I cried like a baby when he died- especially when I remembered how he had lived “before” the war. He was a nice, loving chap– SPOILER<<<).
Gu Qing Ming was from far my favourite character -not just because he was played by the handsome and talented Wallace Huo (huhu). I liked his ruthless and unwavering personality right away. He perfectly matched the image I wanted to see of a soldier (contrary to Junshan). If he wasn’t the most moving character (I’m giving that price to Junshan) he was nonetheless the one I understood the most. If he showed no mercy it was always justified. His judgement were always calculated and clever. In that way he perfectly balanced the Hu family who was reckless. I equally liked his strong desire to go on the battlefield while being forbidden to do so by his rich and influential father. Somehow I strongly sympathized with him. He was also a character that underwent a certain evolution- even though it was at a lesser extent than the other. While the Hu family became more aware of the reality surrounding them, he, on the other hand, let us catch some glimpses of his true personality: a nice and warm chap under his cold air. I utterly loved his relation with Junshan which allowed us to see him joke around (in his way) and smile, just as much as I fell completely in love of how he could lovingly look at Xiang Xiang.
In that way Wallace Huo did a great job -just like all the other actors- in the transcription of all the emotions of Gu Qing Ming.
The other member of the Hu family were very nicely written as I couldn’t have imagined a better representation of a family from that period. Special mention to Xiang Jun (Junshan’s wife) who underwent one of the most shocking twist of the drama.
Battle of Changsha was a moving drama that I would strongly recommend to everyone -even if you don’t like the genre. You won’t see a drama as real and well-played as this one elsewhere. One piece of advise though: brace yourself for the first episodes if you get a bit bored!
Note de Dushbadou: 9/10
Note finale: 9/10