Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms v Ashes of Love | Chinese Dramas | Observations | Comparison

It’s been a number of weeks since I’ve watched Ashes of Love (香蜜沉沉烬如霜) and I am still obsessed with it. I had the same experience with Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms (三生三世十里桃花) . It is clear that dramas based on Xianxia novels (仙侠小说) are my preference.

Xianxia novels are a subset of the Wuxia genre (武俠). Wuxia literally means ‘martial heroes’. The heroes referred to in this genre are usually independent agents who are not tied to any ruling power. They do however have an innate sense of justice, seek to right wrongs and typically possess excellent martial arts skills. Examples of Wuxi dramas are Legend of Fuyao 扶摇, Princess Agents 特工皇妃楚乔传 and The King’s Woman 秦时丽人明月心.

Xianxia novels incorporate elements of fantasy and include magic, demons and ghosts. Within the Xianxia novel genre there are two sub-categories:

  • Cultivation fantasy
  • Mysterious fantasy

I could go into more detail, but will refrain from doing this as the purpose of this post is not to discuss Wuxia dramas as a type of drama (please let me know if you would like a post on this topic) but rather to compare Ashes of Love against Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms — both Cultivation fantasy dramas.

Despite thoroughly enjoying ‘Ashes of Love’, I gave it a 4.5/5 as opposed to the full-marks I gave ‘Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms’. Given the similarities, I wanted to compare the two dramas to determine why I thought ‘Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms’ was the better one.

Ashes

Before I get started, I should mention that there will be spoilers in this post. Further, this comparison will predominately focus on the main/lead characters, how they are explored and portrayed by their respective actors. I readily admit that the CGI used in both dramas is sub-par so I will not be discussing cinematography or the like.

Ten Miles

Now that I’ve set out the scope of the comparison, let’s get started with our lead females —


Bai Qian v Jin Mi — Draw

While I maintain that Ashes of Love is a completely separate story to Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, Jin Mi (portrayed by Yang Zi 杨紫) as a character combines elements of both Bai Qian and Ye Hua’s story.

At the beginning of Ashes of Love, Jin Mi is gullible, impressionable and easily manipulated. This parallels Bai Qian character as Si Yin (her alias while training at Kunlun Shan) and Su Su (her alias in the Mortal Realm).

Jin Mi’s persona takes a sharp turn when she kills Xu Feng and expels the Pershing Pellet. After this milestone event, Jin Mi through guilt and remorse changes — she is less playful, more thoughtful and ultimately willing to sacrifice her life for the sake of others.

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Her story in this respect is more similar to Ye Hua’s. After Ye Hua removes Su Su/ Bai Qian’s eyes — in part contributing to her suicide — he undergoes a character change also fuelled by guilt and regret. He becomes more vulnerable, soft and also more willing to sacrifice himself.

The main difference between Ye Hua and Jin Mi in this story arc was that I found Jin Mi more willing to expressly address her wrong. In other words, she was a lot more forthcoming as oppose to Ye Hua who only openly admitted that he did something wrong after Bai Qian regained her memories.

There is an argument that Jin Mi should be more willing to admit her wrong because she intentionally harmed Xu Feng whereas Ye Hua was only trying to protect Su Su/Bai Qian not harm her. I accept this argument but still appreciated Jin Mi express admission and her efforts in trying to redeem herself.

Bai Qian/Su Su/Si Yin (portrayed by Yang Mi 杨幂) growth story was less obvious. She did slightly change/mature after Mo Yuan’s sacrifice/death and again after Su Su’s death/Bai Qian’s rebirth. However, despite the occurrence of these very significant events, Bai Qian continued to be: stubborn (to a fault), a little cold and have trouble with open and honest communication.

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Writing candidly, I believe the lack of character change seen in Bai Qian is also attributable to Yang Mi’s acting skills. While I really enjoyed watching Yang Mi’s portrayal of Bai Qian in Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, Yang Zi is a better actress. Yang Zi is a lot more expressive which made her portrayal of the lead female better.

Notwithstanding the above, I must admit that I preferred the strength in Bai Qian character. Jin Mi despite going through a lot of hardship was still heavily reliant on the strong men in her life (whether it was Runyu, Puchi or Dan Zhu) whereas Bai Qian not only becomes strong (attaining High God status) but also resourceful. Episodes 30 (the reunion episode of Bai Qian and Ye Hua) and 54 (Bai Qian takes her eyes back from Su Jin) are great examples of Bai Qian wit, resourcefully and strength.

Image result for pictures ten miles of peach blossoms

For the reasons above, I thought the lead females were tied. I definitely ‘liked’ Jin Mi’s character more  but ‘admired’ Bai Qian more. Further, Jin Mi growth story is balanced out by Bai Qian’s strength.


Ye Hua v Xu Feng — Ye Hua wins

Before I state my reasons for choosing Ye Hua (portrayed by Mark Chao 趙又廷) in this category, I must say that I am a Deng Lun邓伦 fan. Since Princess Agents 特工皇妃楚乔传 he has been one of my favourite actors.

Despite Deng Lun being one of my favourties, I think Mark Chao truly outperformed Deng Lun in his role as lead male. In both dramas, Ye Hua and Xu Feng (as lead males) were:

  • unsurpassed in ‘fighting abilities’;
  • Crown Princes;
  • just and fair in manner and demeanour;
  • self-sacrificing; and
  • really, truly in love with the lead female.

Their similarities do not end there but Mark Chao’s portrayal of this archetype was so much more emotive.

Image result for Ten miles of peach blossoms yehua

The emotion and passion he felt toward Bai Qian was so much more apparent when compared with Xu Feng toward Jin Mi. At times, Xu Feng’s love for Jin Mi was more like sibling love (at one point he did also think they were siblings).  Further, given Jin Mi’s child like behavious (particularly at the beginning of the drama,) I still cannot understand how Xu Feng fell madly in love for Jin Mi in the first place.

Image result for ashes of love xufeng

After watching Ashes of Love and then re-watching Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, a very noticeable difference between the two was Mark Chao’s facial expression compared to Deng Lun’s. The nuanced change in his expression effectively communicated the various feelings Ye Hua was experiencing whether it was grief, joy or relief.

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It is because of Mark Chao’s truly outstanding portrayal of Ye Hua/Mo Yuan that the love story was so much more powerful. While I thought Xu Feng and Jin Mi were a great pairing, they could not compete (in my view of course) with Ye Hua and Bai Qian.


Li Jing v Run Yu — Run Yu wins

This was no contest. Run Yu (portrayed by Luo Yunxi 罗云熙) was an infinitely better second male lead. He was the ever-sympathetic villain, the second lead who deserved better and the character who finally redeemed himself.

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Li Jing (portrayed by Vin Zhang  张彬彬) on the other hand was the pitiful villain/second lead who was easily manipulated and always let his womanizing ways get the better of him.

Image result for li jing 10 miles of peach blossoms

I prefer Vin Zhang dramas (Love O2O 微微一笑很倾城, Pretty Li Hui Zhen 漂亮的李慧珍 and The Kings Woman 秦时丽人明月心) and think he is a good actor but I just could not get on board with his character. Bai Qian was correct in her criticism of him — that he is the type of man that always wants what he cannot have. Once he gets it, he bores easily and moves on (ladies, beware of such men)…

Image result for lijing ten miles of peach blossoms

Run Yu was a good guy gone bad (and not even that bad) as a result of difficult circumstances. However even during his ‘bad’ phase of scheming and ascending to power he always tried his best to protect Jin Mi.


Su Jin v Sui He — Sui He wins

This category is won by the character who was not as annoying. It was tight contest. Su Jin and Sui He effectively had the same ‘backstory’ — they’re both orphans, were raised by the Empress (Ye Hua and Xu Feng’s mothers respectively) and were completely besotted with their adopted brother…

Su Jin had no redeeming qualities — she was constantly scheming, completely disregarded the consequence of her actions and her obsession with Ye Hua was a complete mystery.

Image result for ten miles of peach blossoms lijing

While Sui He was just as conniving as Su Jin, I understood her obsession with Xu Feng better. And even though she killed Jin Mi’s father and step-mother (framing Xu Feng in the process) she did also did also try and help Xu Feng where she could (in the mortal realm and in bringing him back). Accordingly, in this category Sui He from Ashes of Love wins.

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Original Soundtracks — Draw

Both original soundtracks were exceptional and deserved a mention. I heard the soundtrack 凉凉 (see below) before I had watched Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms and was from them enchanted with the drama.

The soundtracks to Ashes of Love were a lot grander with strong beats and electric sounds. The inclusion of modern sounds against the classical type singing seemed appropriate in circumstances where the main cast of Ashes of Love were a lot younger than in Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms.

While I listened (and still listen) to both soundtracks on repeat, for those who need to work/think while listening to background music I recommend the OST to Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms. It is a lot softer, lighter and upbeat.

For a solid power walk to and from places, I would recommend the soundtrack to Ashes of Love. Not only does it take you to a different world (the world of Ashes of Love) but it is electrifying and energizing.


Ending — Draw

We have another draw but this time not in a good way. I found both endings disappointing.

Both dramas seemed to have peaked a couple of episodes before the end and then nose-dived.  I don’t attribute the nose dive to the simplistic happy endings — which is what we got in both dramas — as I am all about happy endings. The endings just seemed incomplete.

For example, Ye Hua and Bai Qian literally talked about getting married since episode 12 (of 58) however we got no wedding… how does that make sense?

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With Ashes of Love, I really felt like Jin Mi and Xu Feng didn’t get any closure. The last few episodes of Jin Mi were of her still thinking Xu Feng hated her. Xu Feng on the other hand was mopping about and regretting that he hadn’t thanked or acknowledged Jin Mi.

It was possible for the characters to get appropriate closure in Ashes of Love, I mean Xu Feng had an episode long chat with Runyu about all that had happened to them. Jin Mi also had a moment with Runyu where they could acknowledge each other and the past.

But Xu Feng and Jin Mi did not have any of this – they neither talked things through or acknowledged what they had gone through for the sake of each other. I found this extremely disappointing.

Image result for ashes of love


Overall Assessment

If all categories were equal, Ashes of Love would have scored higher. Alas, they are not and I am resolute that Ten Miles of Love is the better drama. After, going through each of the above categories I can now (with certainty) pin it down to Mark Chao’s performance as Ye Hua/Mo Yuan.

Mark Chao truly pushed Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms forward. His emotive performance and chemistry with Yang Mi were not replicated in Ashes of Love. While I really like Deng Lun as an actor, watching his performance was just not as good as watching Mark Chao.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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17 Comments

  1. I haven’t watched all episodes of Ashes of love. Tried few episodes and then dropped it as I was not hooked. I loved Eternal love and the main lead there sure is one of the best chinese actor. I love that drama too. It was an easy watch and I didn’t mind the no. of episodes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I could not agree with you more! It’s like you put my thoughts into words perfectly. While in many ways I liked many of the secondary characters better in Ashes of Love, Ye Hua still has me thinking Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms was the better drama over-all. Saying that, I love them both so much, it’s difficult to decide which would be the winner!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really enjoyed “The Story of Minglan” and “I will never let you go” – they are a bit different from AoL and TMPB but both are very good. I will be reviewing them hopefully in the next month if you wanted to check them out 🙂

      Just as a a bit of background to help you decide: “The Story of Minglan” is a lot more historical and on the same wavelength as “Story of Yanxi Palace” and the main couple is really great to watch (they recently got married in real life!).

      “I will never let you go” is a romantic comedy/fantasy – it’s a lot more light than both AoL and TMPB and quite fun to watch.

      Like

  3. I prefer ashes of love..run yu was an unforgettable character and played so well by leo. his story and how and why he went dark pierces the heart..he should have gotten it all

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I might have to give eternal love another try. I think I’m too biased on Ashes of love. The first few minutes of Ashes of love, I was hooked. But with eternal love, even after the 3rd episode, it was still boring for me. Maybe I wasn’t familiar with the actors but I didn’t see any chemistry between the leads. It was also hard for me to figure out which was the male lead. But seems like I’ll have to give the drama another try.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m currently watching Ashes of Love and while I’m finally starting to enjoy it now, I was hooked on Ten Miles from the first episode. While I can certainly see the character growth in JinMi, I still find myself struggling with actually liking her. Her level of naivety is at such level that it gets very old and annoying fast whereas I appreciated that Bai Qian while definitely experiencing character growth, didn’t do a 180. I liked that she had flaws and didn’t become perfect and I definitely appreciates her strength like you said.
    At this point, I’m really not on board with the love story. I feel like this going to be another drama where I think the second lead is the one who really deserved the girl. I’m just not feeling any chemistry between her and XuFeng. His “love” for her almost comes across more to me like he just can’t let RunYu have this one thing he wants. And that’s what gets old for me, the lead is mocking or downright mean towards the female lead and yet she still falls madly in love with him despite having the genuinely kind and caring second lead right in front of her the whole time. I’d really love to find a drama where the second lead gets the girl and arrogant lead comes up empty.
    I will say, although I haven’t gotten there, that it sounds like the endings of the villains is far more satisfying than in most dramas. That’s another aspect that often bothers me in dramas is the villains who have done truly horrible things getting a slap on the wrist or being given an easy death. It always bother me in Ten Miles that the emperor never received any punishment for what he did.
    Anyways, I apologize for the ridiculously long comment, but thanks for your thoughts and your review of Ashes!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ashes of love was the first C drama I had ever watched. I was hooked on it for the first 20 or so episodes, but then at some point I had started to dislike Xufeng’s character. It may be because I’m a bit biased, but I did want the main pairing to be Jinmi and Runyu, as Runyu’s patience and overall disposition at the beginning was more attractive than Xufeng’s. I was also sympathetic with the events that happened with Runyu that made him do a 180 and turned him into an antagonist. I stopped this drama at ep 49 when I really couldn’t take it anymore (when I found out that Xufeng wasn’t really dead yet lol) but I’m wondering if I should continue it? The side story with the Demon princess and Mu Ci also wasn’t interesting and so I skipped a lot of those parts.
    Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms was the second c drama I’d ever watched. I definitely had high hopes, and I surely was not disappointed! Like you said, I definitely do agree that Mark Chao’s performance was what made Ten Miles really stand out from Ashes. And the chemistry was also very different.
    Anyway, after watching a couple of C dramas, I still haven’t found one that surpasses what I feel for Ten Miles. Maybe Nirvana in Fire, but that just made me downright depressed in the end lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely continue – my favourite part of the Ashes was the final arc 💕 the only drama after TMPB that really stood out for me with ‘Story it Ming Lan’ – it’s 73 episodes (which requires dedication) but I really loved every episode.

      Like

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