The Journey of Flower (花千骨)
Synopsis: Hua Qiangu is an unlucky orphan who’s looking for a chance to learn magic and martial arts to survive after her parents died. Appreciating her hard working nature and kind heart, and predicting her tragic destiny, she enters Chang Liu, an immortal sect, to seek peace and solutions. Bai Zihua, the sect leader of Chang Liu, takes her as his only disciple. Qian Gu falls in love of him. Being doomed since her birth, she is constantly tortured by the machinations of those who wish to see her dead. Zihua will try to protect her and change her fate.
Genre: Fantasy, Wuxia, Historical
Network: Hunan TV
Duration: 45 min
Casting: Wallace Huo, Zhao Zanilia, An Yue Xi, Zhang Andy, Ma Ke, Li Chu, Jiang Xin etc…
The Journey of Flower belongs to a genre called Wuxia. For those who don’t know it -just like I did when I started that drama- it’s a Chinese genre telling “the adventures of martial heroes”. Its particularity lies in the fact that martial art are “highly exaggerated to superhuman levels” (basically). I think the important term to retain in those statement are “heroes”, “exaggerated” and “superhuman”. For those who are not familiar with that genre you might go into deep shock because of its weirdness. I did and I seriously pondered about keeping on the drama or just giving it up. Everytime I was watching an episode I wanted to stop it. Yet -for some unknown reasons- I always returned to it, giving it another chance (and regretting it almost immediately). This “love-hate” relation finally came to an end naturally as I managed to get over my first shock. I can’t really say that I grew fond of the poor special effects, the excessive use of computer design for the scenery, the character’s crazy power (have you ever seen someone surf on a sword?) or the Power Ranger villain/ creatures, for all that. I couldn’t help laughing everytime a new special effects was used, an eccentric characters appeared on my screen or an unsubtle and super ugly shot was made on one of the actors.
But I think I eventually learnt to focus more on the writing of the story than its making. The plot in itself was really original and refreshing though it contained some misstep and could be rather redundant at times -despite Hua Qian Gu’s numerous adventures and encounters. That last points was actually both the strength and the weakness of the drama. It was rather hard at first to determine the relation between the numerous characters (I’m mainly thinking of the Seven Murder Faction and the Master of the Pavilion of Strange Decay who in the end were not in the least linked, contrary to what I thought) just as it was a shame to see some of them disappear for a long time, just to give way to less interesting characters (for example Meng Xuan Lang).
Some personality trait could also have been more emphasized or changed faster for some of them, so as to prevent any boredom. Considering its duration, The Journey of Flower managed very well to keep me on the edge of my seat but it wasn’t without fail. Sometimes I felt as if something was missing in the writing of some key characters. For example, I think I would have liked to see Hu Gian Qu a bit more selfish or Zi Hua more expressive, though I’m perfectly aware that it would have damaged the consistency of their characters. I still believe that the scriptwriters could have taken more risks with them without for all that crossing the rightful limit. That point kept me from being completely satisfied by the drama though I utterly loved following Hu Qian Gu’s journey.
Hu Qian Gu (Zhao Zanilia) was a rich character in the way that we witnessed to her growing and changing personality throughout the whole drama. In the first episodes she was a pleasant character, though not a very interesting one in term of writing. She had the typical features of every drama heroine: purity and innocence. But here that feature had at least the merit to be well-justified by her past and her young age. The first stages of her evolution (her increasing power mixed to her insatiable ingenuity and goodness) were not surprising either as it was the logical consequence of things, but the scriptwriters could not rush her evolution considering the format of the drama. I didn’t mind this first draft of her character overall. The only point that worn me out for a bit was her constant sacrifices and her
obsession love for Bai Zi Hua. If you had not get by the end of the drama that 師父 (Shifu) meant “Teacher” in Chinese it’s that you’re truly deaf. In the end I preferred Hu Qian Gu when she started to stop believing in Bai Zi Hua and people kindness, cause she was finally showing a new facet. She was a character who gained a lot along the episodes and she highly contributed to my liking of others characters. Zhao Zanilia did an overall good job at portraying this colourful character though she sometimes overplayed a bit.
Bai Zi Hua (Wallace Huo) was on the outside rather (to not say completely) dull. I’ve rarely seen someone with so little expression! It took me a certain time to understand that it wasn’t actually Wallace Huo’s fault but in fact what the character wanted. Bai Zi Hua did not live in the Emotionless Palace for no reason. It perfectly matched his cold and impenetrable personality. In that way you quickly learn to cherish the very few moments where he gives a faint smile or sheds a tears! His love for Hu Qian Gu was truly real but unfortunately not always perceptible. For a story based on a cursed love, the push and pull could have been a bit more emphasized on Bai Zi Hua’s side, even though it also contributes to make their love more beautiful (I must like seeing character being tortured). I liked how he never really favoured Hu Qian Gu (at least in appearance) while still being his black night when punishments were too severe. In the end my only true regret was to have seen him recognize his love in front of Hu Qian Gu too late. She would have never turned the way she turned if he had unleashed his feelings at least once (he could have still kept on hiding the truth from Chang Liu even if he had told her the truth. That would have prevented their relation to build on those countless misunderstandings). Wallace Huo did a good job in his interpretation, though he was beyond recognition (why so much make up? and what was this voice? it didn’t even sound like him….)
Sha Quian Mo (Ma Ke) was at first one of the strangest character I had ever seen in my whole life -whether it was in term of looks (where does this idea of adding feminine touch to his appearance came from?) or personality (why but WHY did they make him that obsessed by his appearance?). I can barely describe the hysterical laughter I had the first time I saw him on my screen. To my eyes he was the final straw that broke the camel’s back and a character that could only came straight from a manga. The scriptwriters still tried to give a background’s story to raise the level of his character cause in the first part of the drama, apart from constantly saying “I’m the prettiest, are you jealous of my beauty?” (nothing to be jealous of, dude), there was nothing to say about him. But in the end- I can’t really explain how that happened- Sha Quian Mo gained a lot in consistency. He quickly became one of my favourite character despite the appearance. I loved his sisterly relation with Hu Qian Gu, how he gave up all his evil plans for her sake while still being the leader of the Seven Murder Faction and hating Chang Liu. His character in itself was rather repetitive as he always yelled at Bai Zi Hua and attacked Chang Liu because of the bad treatment Hu Qian Gu received from them but I loved how strongly he tried to not repeat the same past mistakes he did with his sister with Hu Qian Gu. One of the best relationship in the drama.
Dong Fan (Zhang Andy) was also a character I particularly liked. Even though his true identity was rather easy to guess I liked how the scriptwriters tried to kept the suspense about him as long as possible. I also greatly appreciated the fact that they didn’t just make him the third wheel of the drama cause honestly the only moment where he annoyed me was when he fought with the useless Meng Xuan Lang for Hu Qian Gu’s love. In the end Dong Fan was rather similar to Sha Quian Mo. For Hu Qian Gu’s sake he could do anything and even bitterly regret his formers action. He didn’t become all good for all that. He still used dirty tricks when he needed to protect Hu Qian Gu, to the expense of his life.
Tang Bao (An Yue Xi) was one of the few character I didn’t like (>>> SPOILER- even though I still felt a bit sad when she died…mainly because of Hua Qian Gu though -SPOILER<<<). I don’t really understand why the scriptwriters wrote such character. Was she supposed to be of any use for Qian Gu? I actually can’t remember who gave that bug to her… in my opinion Tang Bao would have been more interesting if she had been Qian Gu’s “bodyguard”. My sadistic side wouldn’t have been really happy but at least it would have given her some depth. Cause apart from running after her mother (yes Hu Qian Gu was the mother of that bug) she did nothing else. To the point that I truly pitied the gentle Shin Yi who had fallen in love of her. She was reckless and never used her brain when Qian Gu was in danger. Shin Yi was always the one stopping her from overreacting -most of the time to the expense of his position and life. And as if it wasn’t enough the actress- An Yue Xi- had a super annoying voice.
Ni Man Tian (Li Chun) was the second character I deeply hated. It was impossible for me to sympathize with her. At least Xia Zi Xun (Jiang Xin) -the other mean girl of the drama- changed throughout the drama making her eventually likeable. But Ni Man Tian? There was nothing to be done. Yet I had some hope when she fell in love of Shuo Feng. I thought she would eventually changed for him but no! not in the least. She had only one obsession: becoming better than Hu Qian Gu. Her jealousy completely eaten her away, to the point that her actions were always reckless. I guess the scriptwriters needed to create such unreasonable character, considering that all the other “villains” turned out to be rather good in the end, but I think Ni Man Tian could have been better written. Cause despite the few glimpses of her relation with her father that could have explained her behaviour, there was nothing to truly justify it.
The other disciple of Chang Liu were overall nice. I was just eventually a bit disappointed by Qing Shui’s ending cause I used to like her in the first part of the drama.
The Journey of Flower is certainly not a drama for everyone…I can’t say that I was completely convinced by the genre Wuxia, but let’s say that I’m now willing to give it others chances. I like the freedom of the genre, how the scriptwriters seem to be given 0 limit in their writing. I just have to get used to the extravagant special effects, I guess.
The Journey of Flower, despite his numerous flaws, was an amazing adventure with a BEAUTIFUL ost (I warmly recommend you to listen it. Or at least the instrumental, “Not To Say” sung by Wallace Huo & Jiang Xin and “Love Casualty” sung by Dong Zhen. The Journey of Flower‘s ost is one of the best I’ve ever heard in my whole life). Don’t be scared of that universe and let yourself be absorbed by the story.
Note de Dushbadou: 8.5/10
Note finale: 8.5/10