Drama Review: The War of Beauties (爱情悠悠药草香)

June 18, 2014

Plot Summary: 
The plot focuses on the Bai family and their family's herb business. The Bai's family eldest son Bai Qing Feng (Benny Qian) encountered a catastrophe during a business trip 5 years ago, leaving behind his kind-hearted fiancee Huang Cai Wei (Loura Lou). Ultimately, through a series of events, Cai Wei marries the Bai family's younger son Bai Qing Sheng (Han Dong). Because Qing Sheng actually had feelings for Cai Wei when she liked his brother, his wife Ma Fu Fang (Jessica Hsuan) and third mistress Qiu Lin sees Cai Wei as their strongest threat. As Cai Wei and Qing Sheng experiences life and death together, Cai Wei eventually falls for Qing Sheng. But at this time, Qing Feng reappears again. Ma Fu Fang uses him to plot against Cai Wei, causing her own downfall. But in the end, the women of the Bai family unite together to defend their home in an era of turbulence. Through this, they've discovered a new meaning in life as a woman during that period in time.

My Rating: 

☆ 8/10 stars 

Engaging storyline though a bit draggy in a few episodes at the middle but moves on quickly afterwards, great actors/actresses, nice music - really enjoyed both opening and ending, and last of all, the happy ending

The Cast:
The Women:

Loura Lou as Huang Cai Wei

She is clever, generous, and kind-hearted. But after being plotted against by Ma Fu Fang, Qiu Lin, and Bi He, she vows to become stronger to avenge her father and Gui Qing's deaths. She, Qian Sheng, and Qian Feng are childhood friends. She was Qian Feng's fiancee but after he disappears, she eventually marries Qian Sheng. She slowly falls for Qian Sheng because of how protective he is towards her and his deep affections for her. 

I really like the actress that played her. She is really pretty! I thought her acting was really good. Her character mirrors the life of Zhen Huan except her man is not some cold-blooded, calculating man like the emperor in Zhen Huan. Cai Wei is really intelligent; her plots are well thought out and entertaining to watch. Though she returns for revenge, she is still genial deep down, she will not harm others who haven't harm her. 

Jessica Hsuan as Ma Fu Fang

She is Bai Qian Sheng's wife. She comes from an affluent family. As a daughter with a father who has a whole household of mistresses, she understands the women's world of scheming. She sees Cai Wei as a threat, knowing Qian Sheng loves her deeply and she is still barren after marrying into the Bai's family for ten years. I think Jessica did a great job as the villain because she can be really frightening (especially her eyes). There was one scene where she smashed a cup onto the floor because she was angry and I jumped for a second. In the beginning, her character wasn't as well-developed but as it reaches the middle, we understand her more through the character's weaknesses. 

Sun Ya as Bi He

Even though she becomes Cai Wei's personal maid, she is actually assisting Ma Fu Fang in bringing Cai Wei down. She has her own agenda; she wants a better life and being a servant will not bring her any closer to her goal. When Cai Wei was put under house arrest, knowing Fu Fang will kill her, she plots to become Qian Sheng's mistress to save her own life and live a life indulge with wealth. She successfully becomes Qian Sheng's sixth mistress. 

Knowing Bi He will threaten her position if she gives birth to a son, Fu Fang releases Cai Wei from her house imprisonment in order to steal Qian Sheng away from Bi He.  

Ni Hong Jie as Mei Xiang

She is the second mistress of Qian Sheng. She was initially a maid of the Bai family but Mrs. Bai allowed her to marry her son to balance out Fu Fang's power in the household. She gives birth to twins but her son dies leading her to dedicate her life seeking revenge on Fu Fang. She is another clever one; she does not attract attention so when things happen, she'll usually be safe from accusations. She seems kind and loving but she secretly uses whatever tactics she can think of to bring Fu Fang down. 

Tong Xiao Yan as Qiu Lin

She is the third mistress. She does not have much to do but act pretty and listen to everything Fu Fang tells her to do. She is like Fu Fang's minion. She is not smart so Fu Fang actually "allies" with her. After she falls for Cai Wei's plot, she is put under house arrest. So far, it seems like the plot is moving towards her reuniting with her first love as planned out by Cai Wei.

Jin Ming as Gui Qing

She is the fourth mistress. She is the truly benevolent and harmless one out of all the wives. She does not vie and fight for Qian Sheng's love so none of his wives bother her. Because of her genuine personality, she and Cai Wei becomes close sisters. 

Xia Tai Feng as Mrs. Bai

I've seen this veteran actress in a few dramas before. She usually plays these type of roles and I think it's because she plays them well. Her venomous stares at Cai Wei are powerful; I think it is because of her eyes, her face has the demeanor of a difficult mother-in-law. Qian Sheng is not actually her son but the son of her husband's mistress. She treats him as if he was her own. But after the return of Qian Feng, she, of course, would treat Qian Feng much better and tries to help him gain back his position as the family patriarch. 

The Men:

Han Dong as Bai Qian Sheng

He is an excellent leader. After his brother's disappearance, he takes up the responsibility and brought their family business to new heights. He secretly likes Cai Wei when she likes his brother. But fate brought them together and foster true love between them. Through his character, I understand the calamities he has to endure from the frequent fights between Bi He and Qiu Lin. Whenever Cai Wei is in trouble, he is there to protect her from Mrs. Bai's wrath and Fu Fang's schemes. He also tries to remain faithful to Cai Wei by spending all of his time with Cai Wei and avoiding Bi He. His reaction when Mrs. Bai wanted to kick her out of the residence was awesome; he is a filial son but he also loves Cai Wei dearly. 

I've seen a few dramas with Han Dong and I really liked the roles he has played before. I'm glad he has a leading role now. This was one of the reasons I've decided to watch this drama. 

Benny Qian as Bai Qian Feng

He is the eldest son of the Bai family. He disappeared five years ago, believing to have died in the hands of bandits. But his sudden return cause Cai Wei to fall for Fu Fang's scheme. Realizing his fiancee married his brother, he becomes confused. When Fu Fang plotted against Cai Wei, he tried to protect her but actually harmed her. He does not wish to fight with his brother to head the family business but is eventually forced to by his mother and Ma Guo An.

Kenneth Tsang as Ma Guo An

He is Fu Fang's father. Because of his greed, he uses the Bai family business to make opium dealings. He tries to convince Qian Sheng, but Qi Sheng knowing opium is illegal and it harms the people of his country, he adamantly refuses Ma Guo An's further persuasions. After Qian Sheng attempts to get him convicted, he ally with Mrs. Bai to help Qian Feng regain his power and marries another of his daughter to Qian Feng. I've seen this veteran actor before in TVB Condor Heroes Saga. He played the father of the female lead Huang Rong. He has the strict father face.

My Thoughts:
I actually started on this drama a year ago but didn't finish it because the plot was moving a tad draggy after the female main lead married into the family. This has been deemed as the Republican-era version of the Legend of Zhen Huan. However, Cai Wei's generosity and benevolence caused her own sufferings and I get ticked off whenever the villains succeed. When I picked this drama up again, I finally watched up to the part when Cai Wei gets framed for adultery and decides to plot to regain Qing Sheng's trust again. She steps into the world of scheming and topples the ones who framed her, one by one. There is a misunderstanding between Cai Wei and Qing Sheng so it provides a reason for Cai Wei to safeguard herself from loving him. I am not really bothered by this misunderstanding because it gives Cai Wei a reason to battle against her enemies.

I am currently on Episode 40, 8 more episodes to go. I think this time I will be able to finish it although I took a peek at the ending. The main couple do get a happy ending while a lot of people die off throughout and at the end of the series. So far I would give this a 9 out of 10.

After finishing the series, I am going to give it a 8/10 instead. The writers wanted to end the series after 40-something episodes so they found the most quickest and disturbing way to do so. The characters were all thrown in jail. The ones who committed sins basically died and only Cai Wei and Qian Sheng survived. Otherwise, the things that happened in the series kept the story going showing how the characters try to outsmart one another.

Favorite Scenes:
1. Cai Wei begins to plot against Qiu Lin, Bi He, and Ma Fu Fang and ally with Mei Xiang. Her plans are well thought out and interesting to watch what steps she's taking and the outcome of it.

2. Cai Wei and Qian Sheng goes through life and death together and develop mutual feelings for one another.

3. Mrs. Bai tries to kick Cai Wei out a few times and Qian Sheng goes against his mother to protect Cai Wei.

4. Qian Feng helps ruin Fu Fang's plan in order to save Cai Wei and also negotiates a deal with his brother.

5. Even though Cai Wei is much smarter now, she avoids harming innocence. She comes up with a plan to help maid Hua Mei since Hua Mei relays information to Fu Fang but never thought of harming Cai Wei.

The Music:
I really liked both the opening and the ending songs.

Opening Theme: 最初的年华


Ending Theme: 一朝芳草碧连天

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  1. my fav scenes is when Cai Wei allow Qian Sheng to sleep together with her in one bed during their business trip to Yunan .... indeed they are lovable couple, Han Dong and Laura Lou did a very good job!


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