International Dramas: ‘Who Rules the World’

Promotional image of (left) Yang Yang and (right) Zhao Lusi. Copyright goes to Tencent Video and Netflix.

Hi! It’s Annie!

After absolutely loving watching the highs and lows of ‘Love Between Devil and Fairy’, I was eager to pick up something that was at least a little similar. The drama that was immediately recommended to me after I finished that one was this, and after seeing a trailer for it I decided that I was absolutely interested. You don’t often see a drama where both the main male character and female character are equally as talented in martial arts and have a fairly equal amount of power. Not only that, but I’ve really been wanting to see Yang Yang in something else. I thought he was a charming actor in ‘Love O2O’ but I didn’t end up liking his character much in that one. His character in this one seemed to be much more likable and I was really excited to see him again in something on Netflix. I’m glad to say that I wasn’t really disappointed by this drama! Was it the best thing I’ve ever seen? Probably not. It was definitely messy at times, especially toward the end, but it had some elements that really worked! MAJOR SPOILERS for this drama coming up!!! If you want to give this one a watch before reading the rest of the review, go ahead! Like I said, it’s messy but not bad!

Summary: Bai Feng Xi and Hei Feng Xi are two big names in the martial arts world who are known for their incredible skills and for always being together; whether they’re fighting against each other or on the same side. But unbeknownst to the world, Hei Feng Xi is the studious son of an important leader and fighting to become heir to the throne while the mysterious Bai Feng Xi prefers to be free and keep her life under wraps. When a war breaks out for control of the world, they must work together in order to keep the world from evil hands in every kingdom. But there may be an evil even larger hidden in the shadows.

The Majestic:

Bai Feng Xi- I always love when I’m able to put a female character in my list of likes, and Bai Feng Xi was absolutely amazing! Though the reveal that she was actually the princess Hei Feng Xi had been looking for was rather obvious, it honestly didn’t matter too much or really affect her character. She was one of the strongest characters in the entire show, and I’m also pretty sure she’s confirmed bisexual. There was a scene where she was talking about how she liked to dress up as a man sometimes and flirt with women. But I really loved how she never really had to be saved. When she needed help, Hei Feng Xi would come and give her help, but he never needed to completely save her. She was incredibly capable by herself. She also had the best comebacks. There’s a scene where she makes tea for Hei Feng Xi and he comments that he should hire her as a servant because of her skills with tea. She responds to this by saying; “I don’t have nice tea, but I do have two fists.” She’s hilarious, free-spirited, and never demure. She’s actually often the main sense of humor of the show and lightens up most scenes that she’s in. I loved her and she’s such a well written female character!

Hei Feng Xi- I absolutely loved seeing Yang Yang in a show where I loved his character. While Bai Feng Xi is actually more of the muscle of the two (this includes a part of the show where he loses his powers and she has to protect him), he’s the strategic intelligence of the two. Hei Feng Xi knew that his step-mother would attempt to destroy his life if he seemed like any sort of competition to the throne for her son; so he spent much of his life pretending that he was very sickly. He used that time to train in martial arts and strategize about how he would eventually take the kingdom as he doesn’t trust his brother to completely treat the citizens fairly. He shows an incredible wisdom and intelligence throughout the show, almost to the point where he serves as a detective. But he’s also so respectful and sweet. When a master of martial arts instructs him to cut the threads of all of his anxieties, he cuts them all but his anxiety that he would not end up married to Bai Feng Xi because he refuses to let her go. He always acknowledges her as his equal, even including in his proposal to her that he would make her an equal ruler in his kingdom rather than her serving as the woman of the palace.

The Romance- There’s never a question of whether these two will end up together. In all honesty, they’re both in love with each other when the show starts. They just haven’t confessed it to each other yet. There’s a mutual support and trust that means that when they can’t seem to trust anyone else, they know that they’re always there for each other. And the writers went all out with adding in all of the cutest trope scenes that you know you wanted to see. There’s a moment pretty early on where Hei Feng Xi falls very sick and Bai Feng Xi heals him and sleeps in the same bed as him in order to warm him up. On another occasion later in the show he takes care of her when she’s injured. I also loved that they sneak out to see each other before their wedding and he tells her that he’d rather her eat than listen to the maids who told her not to eat so as to not smudge her makeup. Seriously, he’s the most respectful boyfriend/husband. Their relationship is so wholesome and honestly pretty modern. They never break up either and when a palace official tries to force them to, neither of them ever take the suggestion seriously. Yay for dodging that trope!

Breaking Female Stereotypes- Beyond the relationship, the show breaks stereotypes in other ways too. Hei Feng Xi’s top advisor and minister is actually a woman who early on decides that she wants to marry him, both out of falling for him and because she feels she could better protect him from plots against him that way. When she meets Bai Feng Xi she knows automatically that the two are in love with each other and what results is not what you expect. Instead of going the route of a fairly typical rivalry, the two women become really good friends and the advisor steps back because she realizes how strong and mutual their feelings are. There’s even an episode where the advisor and Bai Feng Xi go out together dressed as men just to hang out. On top of that, one of the heirs from one of the kingdoms who hopes to take over the throne is a woman who at first refuses to marry because she fears she won’t have power if she were to take a husband. When she eventually does marry she negotiates herself a fair bit of power, partly because she’s made herself invaluable to the kingdom at that point. It was so nice to see such feminist characters!

The Palace Politics- I actually enjoyed the palace politics in this for the most part, surprisingly. It was mainly saved because of how interesting it was to watch Hei Feng Xi deduce what to do next after a plot was made against him. And I liked seeing Hei Feng Xi team up with his brother to take down his other brother. The relationship between the two brothers was adorable and very wholesome. And I liked that their father wasn’t completely angry and clueless all the time, which is what I find usually happens in these shows. He was a strategist himself and could often tell what his sons were doing. It was refreshing to see!

The Clumsy:

The War- I’m not going to lie, I really liked this drama up until the end. The end of this was what really fell apart for me. The war seemed sloppily thrown together and I felt like I hadn’t gotten enough of some of the characters involved with the war by the time it came around. Not to mention that there were several decisions made here that I hated. There was no reason to kill off the kid that Bai Feng Xi and Hei Feng Xi had been essentially raising. It was heartbreaking and at the same time they didn’t spend enough time on it. The entire war was pretty boring and it stopped being as much about strategy as well. It just felt like mindless fighting that lasted way too long.

Time Skips- I don’t like time skips in the last few episodes of my drama unless it’s only for epilogue reasons. The last two episodes were years down the line and I wasn’t quite sure what the reason for that was. The war could have easily begun right away.

The Ending- He only has ten years to live? Really? I liked that they both gave up the throne at the end to be together, but it was so disappointing that they cut his life span. It was another one of those dramas where I kind of wished the last two episodes hadn’t happened.

The Villains- The ones that we got a lot of, like Hei Feng Xi’s stepmother, were kind of annoying. The interesting ones, like the major strategist who ended up being the only heir to another mysterious kingdom, didn’t get nearly enough time. I’m not sure I know much about his personality at all. And he was killed by the main characters in a four minute battle right after he revealed that he was the heir to the other kingdom. I timed it, it was literally a four minute battle. It really felt anti-climactic.

Already In Love- I’ve made this complaint with another show before, but I much prefer seeing the complete progression of the romances I watch. It was clear from the beginning that these two were already pretty much in love with each other and I wish I could have seen them from before that moment. I really like to see the main characters fall in love for the first time in my dramas and I didn’t really feel like you got that here.

I would have absolutely loved this drama if it wasn’t for the way it ended. The ending kind of killed some of my initial love for it. I also kind of wish, once again, that we had gotten their love story from the beginning. But other than that, this was undeniably a cute watch. It’s not one of my new favorites like ‘Love Between Fairy and Devil’ was, but I can see myself returning to a few scenes from this one. And the two main characters were extremely likable! Overall, this drama was cute but not one I would say is amazing. Watching all of these dramas has gotten me back into watching some of my old favorites though and some of them are even better than I remembered!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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