Available on: Viki
Total episode #: 30
Dumpling-rating scale: 3.75/5
It’s never fair to compare dramas, but having watched so many over the course of years it’s inevitable because you start seeing patterns, similarities and themes. After watching the trailer of Dance of the Phoenix 且听凤鸣 (starring Xu Kai Cheng 徐开骋 and Yang Chao Yue 杨超越) I thought it would be a The Romance of Tiger and Rose 传闻中的陈芊芊 styled-drama — short, sweet and a lot of fun.
While Dance of the Phoenix had all the components of a web-drama romantic comedy, it was more a cross between Zhao Yao and The Eternal Love than like The Romance of Tiger and Rose, with the xianxia elements, the OTT relationship dynamics and time-travelling theme.
After her father’s death, Feng Wu decides to become a powerful cultivator to protect her mother from her father’s conniving, power-hungry family. Before Feng Wu is able to ascend, she is attacked by the ambitious Zuo Qing Luan, who steals her phoenix blood and attempts to kill her. While Feng Wu is saved by her Mu Jiu Zhou (who is bound to her necklace), she loses her memory and her abilities as a cultivator.
Years later, Feng Wu in an effort to recover her abilities and revive her teacher, competes to retrieve the Celestial Fruit where she meets Crown Prince, Jun Lin Yuan… although they fall in love, Feng Wu must decide between love or saving her teacher and the martial world.
Dance of the Phoenix was entertaining enough but for a 30 episode drama, there was a lot happening… the disparate plot lines, characters coming in and out without any real explanation and random flashbacks. The drama did put in a lot of effort into developing almost all the characters (leading and supporting), while I don’t think every single character had to have their backstory explained, it did add something a little different.
And then there was the ending.That ending. I’ll get to it in more detail in the spoilers but given its similarities with The Eternal Love, I have a strong feeling that there will be a second season (and may be even a third).
Don’t let the ending deter you from watching this drama though . It was fun, light and engaging enough but if you are looking for something with similar storyline but more engaging/romantic… I would suggest 2019 Cdrama Love Better Than Immortality | 天雷一部之春花秋月. So similar yet the chemistry between the leads, the female lead herself (Zhao Lu Si 赵露思) and the simpler plot made it more enjoyable.
For ‼️ spoilers‼️, see my episode guide below and enjoy!
- Part 1 | Episodes 1- 8 | Feng Wu’s Second Life
- Part 2 | Episodes 9 – 22 | Remembering the Past
- Part 3 | Episodes 23 – 30 | Reality Revealed
Part 1 | Episode 1 – 8 | Feng Wu’s Second Life
To regain her abilities as a cultivator and her memory, she consults her mentor/healer, dresses as a commoner and sets out to find the Celestial Fruit. Feng Wu and Qui Ling (her companion) aren’t the only ones looking for the Celestial Fruit and they immediately encounter trouble when Feng Wu is abducted by a large mythical Phoenix.
In disguise, Feng Wu is saved by Jun Lingyuan — her ex-fiancé — and together they decide to look for the Celestial Fruit. They are later joined by Jun Lingyuan’s companions Feng Xun and Xuan Yi.
Although Xuan Yi is suspicious of Feng Wu, both Jun Lingyuan and Feng Xun start developing feelings for the charismatic and endearing Feng Wu. The Phoenix which first attacked Feng Wu turns out to be her teacher’s parrot and protecting the Celestial Fruit for Feng Wu.
Also looking for the Celestial Fruit is Yu Ming Ye — the heir of the Darknight Court. When Yu Ming Ye meets Feng Wu, its love at first sight. Yu Ming Ye tells himself its because he wants everything that Jun Lingyuan has but Feng Wu is also happens to be the first person that shows him any kindness.
It is revealed that Jun Lingyun wanted to marry Feng Wu (when they were children) and because of her ate the insect poison which causes him to feel pain and say things he doesn’t mean when he has romantic feelings.
Ultimately, Feng Wu plays both Jun Lingyun and Yu Ming Ye against each other and with the help of the Parrot/Phoenix is able to take the Celestial Fruit for herself and returns back to her border city. When Feng Wu returns home, her cousins are harassing her mother for her father’s sword. To make matters worse, it’ll take 3 days to turn the Celestial Fruit into a pill which Feng Wu can consume.
Both having being duped, Jun Lingyun and Yu Ming Ye head to Feng Wu’s border city to try and recover the Celestial Fruit (episode 5). Meanwhile, Zuo Qing Luan also has her eyes on the Celestial Fruit (but is also looking for her long-lost friend Zhaoge).
In episodes 7 and 8, after Feng Wu eats the Celestial Fruit Pill (finally!), her father’s sword (the Phoenix Sword) chooses her and she is able to defeat her cousin. Both Jun Lingyun and Yu Ming Ye find out that Feng Wu is the same commoner that stole the Celestial Fruit from them (finally too!).
Part 2 | Episode 9 – 20 | Remembering the Past
Feng Wu having recovered her ability to cultivate and with her identity exposed (that she was Feng Xiao Wu) is now on a new mission to revive her teacher, Mu Jiu Zhou. However, in the background Jun Lingyun’s stepmother is planning a revolt with the help of Yu Ming Ye’s father (and yes it has something to do Mu Jiu Zhou).
While Jun Lingyun is aware of the politics (and his stepmother’s wish for him to marry Zuo Qing Lan) he is besotted with Feng Wu and using her mother against her is able to force Feng Wu to follow him back to the capital.
On their way to the capital, they meet a powerful demon in episode 10 and Jun Lingyun takes a hit protecting Feng Wu. Feng Wu cries for Jun Lingyun and her tears are the antidote for the insect poison. Cured of the insect poison, Jun Lingyun is able to have feeling for Feng Wu without pain (finally!).
To complete her recovery and her ability to cultivate, Feng Wu has to kiss Jun Lingyun and recover the Wan You Fire. In the same episode, Zhaoge meets Xuan Yi and Jun Lingyun tells his parents that he’s chosen his “Spiritual Princess” (and its not Zuo Qing Luan).
Zuo Qing Luan doesn’t seem nearly as interested in Jun Lingyun as she does in Zhaoge. Zhaoge is Feng Wu’s best friend who was poisoned years ago by people intending to her Feng Wu. To cure Zhaoge, Feng Wu enters into the Peerless Tower and with the help of both Jun Lingyun and Yu Ming Ye is able to retrieve the antidote. Thus staring the secondary love story between Zhao Ge and Xuan Yi (love triangle with Zuo Qing Lun).
Mu Jiu Zhou’s little parrot tells Feng Wu that to revive Mu Jiu Zhou she has to piece together three bits of shard hiding in various places in and around the capital. The best place to be would be the academy. Jun Lingyun also has an interest in Feng Wu entering the academy as the Spiritual Princess must be strong enough to be eligible for the position.
Feng Wu is joined by Jun Lingyun, Yu Ming Yue, Feng Xun and Xuan Yi. At the academy, their bliss is short lived as soon enough Jun Lingyun makes move to take-over, starting with poisoning the Emperor.
Part 3 | Episode 21 – 30 | Reality Revealed
The Empress shows her true colours in this part — in her backstory, she is shown to be in love with Mu Jiu Zhou. However, Mu Jiu Zhou is focussed on cultivation and rejects her. The rejection hurts the Empress deeply and she vows to destroy all cultivators or have them serve her.
In episode 22, Feng Wu finally tells Jun Liuyan the truth about her identity — that she isn’t actually Feng Wu. Feng Wu died the day Zuo Qing Lan attacked her. She is instead from the future (hinted at when Mu Yao to call her baba and no one knew what she was talking about or why). Mu Jiu Zhou tells her that at some point she will have to “return home”…
After the murder of a healer (which Feng Wu is framed for) a series of others event take place which ultimately results in Zuo Qing Lan turning to the darkness and the Empress opening revolting against the Emperor in episode 25. In the next episode, the modern Feng Wu meets the
The last 4 episodes move very quickly. Feng Wu is captured by the Empress and is about to be killed when Ye Ming Yu tries to save her but loses his arm instead. Feng Wu overcomes her tribulation and ascends. Consumed by the darkness Zuo Qing Lan kills Mu Yao. And ends up dying in Zhaoge’s arms after an encounter with Feng Wu.
After wolf lady kills herself and gives Feng Wu the last piece of the shard, Mu Jiu Zhou finally wakes up in episode 27. Zhaoge (who is the Celestial Master’s daughter and hasn’t been able to cultivate) is revealed to have a suppression pill in her and if she is able to get rid of it will exhibit great power but at the cost of her life.
When the odds are stacked against them in their final battle with the Empress, Zhaoge sacrifices herself (with Xuan Yi joining her). This gives Feng Wu enough time to resume her true Phoenix-self (absorbing her blood trapped in the bracelet) and she is able to easily defeat both Ye Ming Yu’s father and the Empress. After the mass carnage, the next scene is quite jarring… its Feng Wu and Jun Liuyan wedding day (and we learn that Zhaoge and Xuan are still alive and very much together).
However before Jun Liuyan reaches Feng Wu, Mu Jiu Zhou arrives to take Feng Wu “home”. The last scene is Feng Wu telling the audience that “This is the story of my second life. Don’t worry about how it ends. The most important is what we experience, learn and love.” The end.
The ending was both disappointing and confusing. Given the general rushed nature of the last four episodes, it does feel like the show ran out of financing and needed to quickly (and cheaply) wrap things up.
Feng Wu and Jun Liuyan’s not having a proper happy ending/reunion was just another another instance of this drama failing to properly develop rapport/chemistry between the two leads. The ending was as open ended as they come and I can just imagine Jun Liuyan following Feng Wu to the 21st century (where again she has lost her memory) and together going back in time. I just hope in season 2, there aren’t as many barrier to Jun Liuyan and Feng Wu’s relationship.
What did you think of Dance of the Phoenix?