An Oriental Odyssey (Chinese Drama Review & Summary)
An Oriental Odyssey poster
Genre: Historical Costume Drama Fiction, Wuxia, Mystery, Crime, Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: October 2018
Origin: China; based on the novel by Miao Juan
CDrama: 50 Episodes
Janice Wu as Ye Yuan An
Zheng Ye Cheng as Mu Le
Zhang Yu Jian as Zhan Lan Zhi (police)
Kiki Dong as Ming Hui (the Infanta)
Mickey Yuan as Chen Tian Tsu (‘Q’)
Zheng Xiao Ning as King of Luo
Zhi Nan Li as Pei Shan La
Yin Xiao Tian as Tang San Zang
Song Yi Xing as Shui Yue/Xiao Ke
LI Yan Man as Xiao Yu
It is all about the beads. This drama is about the search for the nine divine beads that could end the chaos that is besetting the world, provided of course that the ultimate finder has a sacred heart.
There are two contenders to the hunt for the beads. One was a chubby, untrustworthy, overly ambitious, but rather an influential monk, who has a very high position in the empire as the state preceptor (Teacher to the king) He advises the king on many issues from mundane to the most important ones.
The second person was another monk who I called the ‘Q’. He was like a mad scientist; excitable, and not averse to animal testing or people testing for that matter, sometimes without the person/victim’s permission. He lives in the basement or dug-out cave at the Family Ye Manor.
The two monks were students of the original keeper of the Nine Sacred Beads but upon his death, before his corpse had cool down, his two most trusted students fought over the beads and the other disciples also joined in a martial art combats, thus most of the beads got lost in the process.
The secret to watching and truly enjoying this wuxia is what you call “Suspension of Disbelief”. 🙂
For starter, cutely feminine Ye Yuan An pretended to be a man. This cute girl is feisty and into mischief and adventure. Of course, she doesn’t look like a man at all, but we’re supposed to believe that everyone in the drama sees her as a young man except for only a few. 🙂
Anyway, a maid who is a sweetheart of one of her servants was going to be executed because she had been found guilty of murdering the star dancer of the Qianduan Brothel despite insufficient evidence and investigation.
Yuan An as a James Bond has her version of ‘Q’, who provides her with new gadgets.
One of this gadgets is the spider on an elastic string that gets her anything the spider attached itself into, may it be an object or a person.
With this gadget, Yuan An sneaked into the prison and rescued the servant girl.
They did escape very narrowly.
Yuan An arranged for the servant girl and her lover to leave and hide somewhere else. They were to be taken by boat when Yuan An realised that the boatman was the police.
Yuan An begged the police to give her three days to bring the real culprit to account for the death of the star dancer.
Yuan An joined forces with the chief constable of the police, Lan Zhi. While they were on their investigations, they come across a ‘ghost’/slave trade market. One of the slaves on sale was a feral man who was good at riding horses, running, jumping and flying but he does not talk.
Yuan An realised that she met him a few days ago when he helped stopped her runaway horse.
She felt pity for how they were treating him that she decided to buy him herself.
As soon as he was unchained, he went absolutely wild and run-off.
The police found out that the brothel is the hub of opium trafficking.
After a good scrubbing, the wild man looked different, he was actually innocently handsome. Yuan An later gave him a name of Mu Le because of his love of woods and forest.
There was a sort of Titanic scene where the ship capsized.
The ship was actually the floating Qiunduan brothel which doubles up as an opium den. The people on board, including Yuan An, Mu Le and Lan Zhi had to swim with all their might in a waist-deep (Knee Deep) water. LOL
Mu Le had become so protective of Yuan An that he was preventing her to endanger herself while rescuing Lan Zhi.
She learned then that Mu Le can actually talk.
Anyway, after their investigation, they found out the opium lord is the third son of the Situ Household who happens to be the boyfriend/intended of the Infanta. He was Xianya, who unfortunately had fallen in love with the graceful Ruo Yo, the star dancer.
As it was not clear that Xianya was also the killer of the star dancer, the servant girl was rearrested.
It is the wedding of the infanta to Xianya but it ended in chaos when Xianya had a delusional episode mistaking that the Infanta was Ruo Yo.
Jiang Ren, the slave of the Infanta was really in love with her (and it seems quite mutual as well) so he went for Xianya with his sword intent on killing him for disrespecting the Infanta.
Lan Zhi was quicker and able to stop him from attacking. With sword fighting, Lan Zhi came out the better one and managed to snag Jiang Ren’s sleeve revealing his tattoo.
Jiang Ren was the wanted man, the police had been looking for. He was their real drug trafficker and manufacturer of opium.
Jiang Ren before dying had already replaced all the candles at the wedding venue. The red candles were stuffed with a super strong hallucinogenic substance that could have killed everyone.
Thank goodness for Mu Le who extinguished the candles.
Yuan An’s stepmother was desperate to marry her off.
She arranged a blind date for Yuan An.
After mistaking another bloke as her date, she finally learned that the man she was supposed to be meeting was Lan Zhi.
She quite likes him initially but ended up hating him as he interrogated her about the latex mask she wore to frighten off the man she thought was her date.
Lan Zhi told her that the only man that can make a latex mask was the wanted cruel monk. Yuan was having none of it as she trusts her ‘Q’ (monk).
She went home and promised herself never to see Lan Zhi again.
Poor Mu Le!
Mu Le was set up by Yuan An’s young brother to take the fall for the voyeur who had been perverting on the servant girls’ quarter.
It was really another male servant who was the culprit, which her brother caught in the act. He blackmailed the servant to make Mu Le to be blamed.
So the servant told the innocent Mu Le to watch over the servant girls as they were fighting inside. He encouraged the innocent Mu Le to look over the hole on the wall.
The other servants then found the shocked Mu Le peeping on the hole, they frogmarched him to Yuan An’s stepmother for punishment.
Yuan An quickly intervened by grabbing the whip from her stepmother.
Previously, Mu Le made Yuan An promised never to hit him. The promise was a payment for Mu Le having saved her numerous times.
But Yuan An was forced to use the whip on him. He sorrowfully said to her “You hit me!” It broke his heart (and mine). The young brother was watching gleefully.
Mu Le was then thrown out of the manor.
Poor Mu Le!
He was once again homeless. He was having a dream.
In his dream, he was falling deep into a quicksand. Yuan An was trying to save him but a dragon got her while being watched by baddies who emigrated from Power Rangers.
Mu Le was befriended by a con-man who used him to steal money from a market vendor.
Yuan An finally found out that Mu Le was truly innocent from perverting on girls and went to look for him. Mu Le refuses to go back with her because he can’t forget that she hit him.
It is the Empress birthday in four days time but her favourite painting called the Bajsoo Tree had gone missing from their archive. Lan Zhi had been called by the head eunuch to investigate. He said head would roll if the the Empress finds out about the missing painting.
Yua An’s half-brother had been gambling and had incurred a huge debt. His debtor had kidnapped him until a ransom (equivalent to his debt) is paid to him. Her half brother’s servant begged Yuan An to save her brother.
She learned that her brother was taken to Luotian Cave. To get there she needed to cross a river with dangerous current.s
The infanta disguised as a ninja helped her and Mu Le to cross the river but secretly stole her valuable dagger, which she was going to barter for her brother’s release.
Lan Zhi ended up at the Luotian Cave as well in chase of the missing painting. He was put in a huge cube cage with Mu Le, Yuan An and her brother to be fed to ferocious hungry fish.
Mu Le with superhuman strength broke the bars and quickly rescued the others one by one except for Lan Zhi as the case dropped into the water already.
They got out of the cave with Yuan An wailing that she needed to rescue Lan Zhi.
Her brother and Mu Le decided to return to the manor against her wishes. Mu Le gave her a karate chop by the neck to keep her unconscious and easier to manage and bring home.
‘Q’ healed Yuan An and helped them with paraphernalia to get back at the renegade still at Luotian cave and also to look for Lan Zhi’s body.
Lan Zhi was far from dead as he had been saved from the fish and nurtured by the Infanta.
Lan Zhi retrieved the painting ready for the Empress birthday.
It was the Empress birthday celebration. She noticed how much the Emperor was enjoying watching nubile girls dancing.
The Empress rather minded that the Emperor was so engrossed. She feels that she was getting old as a few years back she would ignore his womanising ways.
She turned in early despite her ongoing party.
She got rather nostalgic of her old life, when she fell in love with a painter, who painted the Bajsoo Tree.
She later found out that her ex-boyfriend is quite nearby. What she did not know was that he had grown very bitter and blamed her for all the ails in his life.
When he saw her, he wanted her dead.
Thank goodness for Lan Zhi and Mu Le for defending her and of course, Yuan An for protecting her.
The Empress was so grateful to Yuan An that she promoted her father to Minister of Finance. Their fortune has vastly improved.
Suddenly everyone wanted them at their parties.
The Empress had advised Yuan An that if she likes someone then grab every opportunity to be with him so that she will have no regrets one day.
Yuan An has a bit of a crush with Lan Zhi. She wanted his attention so she is trying now to be more girly. First stop is to learn flower arranging.
Meanwhile, Mu Le is confused with his being. He heard Yuan An and Q talking about him not quite human but perhaps a monster.
While he was mulling this over a rescued a noble girl from almost being singed on a lit barbecue grill.
Instead of thanking Mule, the girl wilfully pretended that Mu Le broke her branded earring. And she wanted a lot of money for the repair.
Poor Mu Le borrowed money from everyone but won’t reveal what he needed the money for.
New case for Lan Zhi, a spectre that borrows faces.
The Noble Girl that Mu Le had a run in with hounded him and Yuan An until she was able to convince Yuan An to release Mu Le from his servitude into a free man. The Girl prentended that she and Mu Le were in love.
Yuan An then gave Mu Le to the Girl, who has a secret. She might be the notorious face thief.
Meanwhile Yuan An romance with Lan Zhi is slowly heating up.
Finally Yuan An and Mu Le had their moment, though rather brief.
Mule came back drunk and gave Yuan An a rough lingering kiss and then blamed it all to her for being so beautiful and lovely.
That took a bit of the wind out of yer sail and slightly preened herself. 🙂
Anyway, she told him that he can’t stay with her anymore and enrolled him to the army under Lan Zhi. She warned Lan Zhi to take care of Mu Le and not let him be in any danger.
Lan Zhi had a combat with Mu Le. Lan Zhi won and told Mu Le that he knew why he was behaving like a diva. Lan Zhi then recounted a story about a high born lady who eloped with her servant. They did not have a good life as they were shunned from all side. He then remarked to Mu Le, I know you like Yuan An. But if you really loved her you will allow her to live a life of peace and contentment and not of suffering from being rejected by the fashionable society.
Lan Zhi had his own moment and with the Infanta. In order to stop Lan Zhi going after the bandit leader, who the infanta was protecting because he has one of the divine beads, she snog Lan Zhi. This stunned Lan Zhi and became catatonic.
There has a deeper attraction because they both remember that the Infanta kissed him (mouth to mouth resuscitation) to bring him back to life when he almost drowned.
Lan Zhi and Yuan An had a domestic. Yuan An was raging when she found out that Mu Le had become a bandit. She blames Lan Zhi for having not protected Mu Le enough.
Yuan An tagged along when Lan Zhi took his troop to fight the bandits. There in the forest, Yuan and Mu Le had their confrontation, where Yuan An cajoled Mu Le to go back with her but Mu Le refused especially when Yuan An intimated that he had to go back to the army. Mu Le said that he likes being free with the bandits.
He then confessed to Yuan An that she is the most important person for him and she is the only one that can break his heart as she did. Awww
Lan Zhi and the Infanta continues to flirt with each other but then Lan Zhi would feel guilty because he has an unofficial understanding with Yuan An.
I have to say that I love this drama so much that I actually watch every minute of it without fast-forwarding even once.
Of course I would have prepared for the romance to be faster in its fruition but the stories have been so interesting and the cast, including the villains have been so interesting.
Lan Zhi and the Infanta were imprisodende by the bandits. Yuan An came to their rescue.
Lan Zhi had a one to one with the leader. Before the leader’s death, he threw a poising dagger at the Infanta but Lan Zhi put himself in front of the Infanta and got himself poisoned instead.
Meanwhile, Mu Le at the barracks of the soldiers doing his worse.
Lan Zhi, the hypocrite was annoyed at Yuan An because she does not want him to kill Mu Le. She said that if Mu Le was to be punished then she will do it, only her will do it.
Lan Zhi was dying from the poison. Yuan An brought in ‘Q’ to cure him.
The Infanta noticed that two of the divine beads were in a bracelet worn by ‘Q’.
Yuan An was so upset with Lan Zhi because she thought that he ordered the rain of rocks which fatally hurt Mu Le.
Yuan An cradled Mu Le till the morning and won’t let go of him despite Lan Zhi telling him that it was time to go.
She asked ‘Q’ to heal Mu Le but he told her that Mu Le was a goner.
A young girl from the bandit who seemed to know Mu Le from his previous life made him swallow a red pill.
Miraculously he got better but he told Yuan An that while in his death’s door he realised that he wanted to know his past. He had to leave to find out. She asked if they will see each other again but replied that he didn’t know.
The Emperor has been having nightmares about what happened 19 years ago, where ‘Q” was supposed to have committed a massacre of the monks.
The Infanta revealed that she knew where Q was. He was staying at the Ye mansion.
Encouraged by the state preceptor, the Queen issued an edict to search the Ye manor and arrest Q.
Yuan An was a step faster. She cleared out the manor of everything that could implicate Q being at their mansion. She dressed Q in woman’s clothing and pretend as one of their servant women.
She then helped him get away but Lan Zhi turned up. Yuan An fought with him and then begged him but he was determined to arrest Q. In the end Yuan An used tears and it worked like magic.
Unknown to them the infanta witnessed everything.
She had Yuan An arrested and about to torture when Lan Zhin appeared. He begged her on his knees to be kind to Yuan.
The infanta jealously asked him what Yuan An got that he would begged on his knees.