刁蛮公主 / Diao Man Gong Zhu
My Bratty Princess / My Mischievous Princess
Broadcast in China in 2005
36 episodes (China), 33 episodes (overseas)
Starring Alec Su (Su You Peng), Jang Na Ra, Bao Lei, Lin Jiang Guo, Chen Jiu Li, Gao Lu (Lu Yun Duan), Lu Xing
For those who like Damo, Princess Returning Pearl
Theme song: “Fan Zhe Ba” by Jang Na Ra and Alec Su
Insert song: “Tian Bian” by Jang Na ra
The Basics: Xiao Long Xia is a goodhearted gangster who is always causing and getting into trouble. In trying to help refugees that have been kicked out of the capital, Xiao Long Xia sets up fake fights and plans robberies against corrupt officials. In doing this, he befriends two wealthy strangers – one he conned (Yin Kuang), the second he stole from (Bai Yun). These three become close after fighting with each other and saving each others’ lives so they become sworn brothers. As it happens, all three are concealing their true identities from the others. This leads to many mixed emotions and misunderstandings among the three. Can their new found brotherhood survive?
The eldest of the sworn brothers, Bai Yun (Chinese actor Lu Xing), is not a wealthy noble, but is in fact the prince of Yunan, Bai Yun Fei. He came to the capital to propose marriage to the emperor’s younger sister, Princess An Ning. On his way to the capital, Xiao Long Xia’s friends mistook him for the wrong person and robbed a very important engagement item from him. Swearing to get it back at all costs, he finds Xiao Long Xia wearing the bracelet and misunderstandings ensue, causing Yin Kuang to step in to help (Yin Kuang didn’t mind being scammed out of his money when he found out Xiao Long Xia was using it to help refugees). When Bai Yun Fei learns the truth of the thievery, his anger is lessened. He is happy that the money went to such a good deed. After Xiao Long Xia and Yin Kuang save his life, he gives the bracelet back to Xiao Long Xia and becomes their sworn elder brother.
The second eldest brother, Yin Kuang (Taiwanese actor/singer Alec Su), poses as someone who is clever with little wealth, which both Bai Yun and Xiao Long Xia know not to be true based on his mannerisms and dressing. Yin Kuang is actually the emperor Zhu Yun in disguise. He likes to dress down and sneak out into the commoner world to get a break from being cooped up in his castle all of the time. On one of his excursions, he went to a match set up by Xiao Long Xia. Not knowing it was a fixed fight, he paid out a bet on the recommendation of Xiao Long Xia. He and his guard (Chen Lin) immediately notice there is something fishy after the fight and follow Xiao Long Xia and his gangster friends to find out the truth. When they do, they find out about the horrible state of the refugees and see how Xiao Long Xia and friends work to give them food and money. This endears Xiao Long Xia to Zhu Yun. Also, Zhu Yun was given a puzzle by a monk stating that whoever could solve it the fastet and easiest way would become an important person in the emperor’s life and would help him solve all of his problems. Xiao Long Xia took the puzzle and smashed it with a sword to untangle it (the fastest and easiest method). Thus, Xiao Long Xia becomes indispensable to the emperor as a friend, brother, and adviser.
The third (and youngest) brother, Xiao Long Xia (Korean actress/singer Jang Na Ra), perhaps has the greatest secret of all the brothers. The gangster Xiao Long Xia is in reality the daughter of General Situ (one of the emperor’s advisers), Situ Jing. She is a mischievous girl who loves to play tricks and get others in trouble, but she has a very kind heart. In order to do good, she dresses up as a boy and embarks on somewhat shady transactions in order to earn money. Her parents love her, but do not give her any money of her own, thus she steals precious items out of her family’s home, often getting caught by her elder brother, Situ Jian Nan (Chinese actor Lin Jiang Guo). In every episode, she is always chuckling or laughing through her schemes and fights with others. However, despite her best of intentions, she usually ends up making a huge mess that either her father or her sworn brothers have to take care of. This leads a lot of people to misunderstand both her alias of Xiao Long Xia and herself.
- Bai Yun Fei’s bracelet – it is a bracelet with special meaning. The woman who wears the bracelet is said to ensnare the heart of the man who owns it, so you know Bai Yun will be ensnared by Jing
- The puzzle – it becomes a tool for the emperor to keep his cousin (and concubine) out of his hair for awhile, and it is also the way for the bond between him and Xiao Long Xia to grow
- Zhu Yun teaching Mei Er to slap (she was slapping the heck out of her servants, so the emperor helpfully taught her how to slap using force wisely and thus she becomes the unsuspecting target of his slaps)
- Bai Yun Fei giving the engagement bracelet to Xiao Long Xia out of gratitude without knowing his brother is, in fact, a girl
- Situ Jing’s vampire play to chase away an unwanted fiance
Oh No! moments:
- Wen Tao burning down the cottages built for the refugees
- Xiao Long Xia storming to the palace and calling his sworn brother a liar without knowing the facts
- Situ Jian Nan and Wen Qiang committing suicide because Minister Wen refused to let them get married
My thoughts so far: I am half way through this drama having finished episodes 1-17 (I am watching the overseas version, not the Chinese). I am loving this drama so far. It is equal parts lighthearted, serious, action-filled, with some romance and melodrama thrown in for good effect. The plot is not a new one, mistaken identity, disguises, emperors going out among the common folk to learn the truth, have all been done before, but it is still good and entertaining. The fight scenes are good, although they do use the suspension and wire techniques that I am not a fan of. Most of the comedy is funny, but at times it can get old. Especially Jang Na Ra’s laughter and actions – they can be downright annoying at times.
This drama does keep you watching. I always want to know what happens next as the episodes have a way of ending in the middle of key moments that keep you guessing as to what exactly is going to happen. I do admit to getting annoyed at how little matters become blown out of proportion until they are overly complicated and cause trouble for everyone. That gets a little old when it repeatedly happens. Little molehills quickly become almost insurmountable mountains.
The acting is good. I especially like the quick-witted emperor Zhu Yun as played by Alec Su. He does a remarkable job of portraying someone innocent, lighthearted, while also being mature and serious. He is great at making veiled threats and insults and is just as clever as thinking up schemes and solutions as Xiao Long Xia. His character really helps make the show, as does Jang Na Ra’s Xiao Long Xia/Situ Jing. I also like the couple of Wen Qiang and Situ Jian Nan. They are so adorably cute when they are together. I am unhappy with the turn of the plot that keeps making these two characters suffer and be kept apart. It is highly melodramatic and annoying. Misunderstandings between the two families make this a very Romeo & Juliet-like romance (they even committed couples’ suicide by throwing themselves off the same cliff – thankfully they both miraculously survived).
The plot, like I said before, is quite good, although it gets complicated rather quickly. Let’s see. Wen Mei Er was brought into the palace as an imperial concubine by the Dowager Empress (her fraternal aunt) in hopes of her becoming the next empress. I can’t tell if she honestly likes Zhu Yun or if she just likes the idea of having the power of being an empress. But then Situ Jing enters the picture and steals the emperor’s heart. Further complicating matters is the fact that Bai Yun Fei also falls for Situ Jing, however, he is supposed to marry the emperor’s little sister. Accidents, near death experiences, and much more help further entangle the lives of all the characters and I can’t wait to see episodes 18-33 to see how these plots will begin to unravel.
Side note: From the very first time we see Situ Jing with her brother, I began having thoughts that those two might actually not be real siblings. There are no real hints or clues at that time that they might not be, but I just had that suspicion. It turns out I was right, Situ Jing was adopted into the family (we find this out along the way through each successive episode). This also explains why her mom is always constantly berating her and getting upset when Jian Nan takes the fall and gets into trouble because of Jing Er.
More to come when I actually finish this rather long drama.