First Impressions: Pretty Li Hui Zhen

I am up to Ep 16 and am glad that I decided to continue after stopping at Ep 2! Watched the first episode and frankly, it really wasn’t my cup of tea. I thought the meek bumblingness of Hui Zhen was neither cute nor endearing as she was acting totally immature for her age (who wears like that to an interview in a big organization even if one is unpretentious and au Β naturel? At least look neat even if not polished!) and bordering mentally deficient! Her character was also totally in contrast with her younger self who was put together, self composed and confident (nothing to do with beauty mind you!) – if I was Bai Haoyu, I would have thought this messy looking girl was my childhood friend too! What gave this show a second chance for me was Hui Zhen’s crestfallen face when he walked past her on the bridge – the feels !! That made me want to know what was her backstory that made adult Hui ashen such a difference from child Hui Zhen. Well done Dilireba for salvaging my interest! I picked it up again after I could not continue with the melodrama that is Love & Life & Lie (Ep 13 yo!) and am very glad i did!!

Dilireba is impressing me here – she has definitely improved from Legend of Ancient Sword and Liu Shan Men (in the bits I saw) and she manages to imbue Hui Zhen with an earnest awkwardness that is not overly plucky but yet enveloped with a certain genuine earthy warmth despite her low self esteem. I am still not convinced that your family going bankrupt would do that a person (esp with her sister and parents all looking normal) so inhope there is more to that. From ep3, they also downplay her initial goofiness and doormatness which certainly helped! It is my first time watching Peter Sheng and this guy is so good looking πŸ™‚ he reminds me of a younger, more Chinese looking Daniel Wu! His acting is not fab but somehow it makes the character work since Hao Yu at this stage is generally confused between the 2 Hui Zhen and stressed at work. I actually don’t find him quite a monster at work – if he only has 3 months to transform the magazine or everyone loses their job (including himself) the stakes are very high and everyone needs to buck up! I do suspect that he is sick (didn’t watch the original k-drama this was based on) so hopefully no overwrought melodrama here later.

Vin Zhang – ah, this man! I am going to watch all his dramas from here on! He is totally rocking it as Lin Yimu, the manchild with a heart. He is not overdoing his quirkiness or playfulness and manages to still look manly at the same time. Definitely second lead syndrome here so fortunately Peter Sheng is so so good looking :). Sierra Li is Xia Qiao and I like her too. She and Hui zhen have a genuine friendship which is touching but yes, she is making a big girlship no-no continuing to liaise with Haiti on the side. Somehow, Sierra doesn’t have a conniving vibe so I can’t bring myself to dislike her and actually feel a little sorry for and she is clearly conflicted although her selfishness propels her along this miserable road.

The rest of the gang at Immortal make a good team with camaderie chemistry that is not overly intoxicating but a special shout out to Zhu Ying 姐 (Wang Yi Nan) who is the most professional fashion editor I have seen portrayed – perhaps not the type that can make the magazine No.1 in sales but I like how encouraging and kind she is to everyone and Hui Zhen. Also I must mention the child actors Qu Zhi Han (Young Hui Zhen) and Zhou Bai Zhen (Young Haoyu) who are so cute as friends without that strange romantic undertone – the former was also in Shuttle Love Millenium and I loved her there too!

I amΒ a bit apprehensive as it’s a 40 episode show and that may drag it out unnecessarily. Hopefully, it will remain a fun watchable drama!

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26 thoughts on “First Impressions: Pretty Li Hui Zhen

  1. Like you, I opted out then opted back in, once I didn’t have anything good to watch in between General and I and Guardian Of Beauty. Love Life & Lie seems to have so much potential, but proves to be way to “makjang” for me to take it in, despite having Chen Xiao as lead! But I do hope I’ll find time someday to watch the whole thing tho. Back to Pretty Li Hui Zhen, I dropped the k-version initially cuz I really couldn’t stand Hwang Jung Eum’s acting a role younger than her age (watched it much later on once it was done airing!) (but her onscreen chemistry with Park Seo Joon was really great, and who could forget the memorable role of Choi Siwon!?) Both share much similarity, but the cn-version, like you said, is a tad too long! I too, hope it doesn’t get dragged on for too long, before we see the sweet happy ending (if this follows the k-version). πŸ˜‰

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    • Hi!! I think it’s nice that all the actors/actresses are playing their age – definitely gives it a fresher vibe.

      I read somewhere that Vin Zhang was a last minute addition as his role was initially to be played by a Korean actor (which was subsequently replaced due to the Hallyu ban) – had difficulties even finding an official poster for him. If so, I think he is doing really well!

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  2. I love both versions, Dilareba is doing great, love the otp, can’t stand the bff loved the chem and portrayal of the womance on the Kversion and no one can beat Choi Siwon the cversion guy annoys me for some reason. I do like that this version we seem more development from the main character and more flashbacks but my Kversion otp had the best chem including the bff but it might be because they’re all friends in real life. Also love how nice the magazine ppl are

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    • Hi!! Am at Ep 21 and I still like Lin Yimu πŸ™‚ perhaps because I have never seen the k-version but Vin Zhang is so cute.
      Xia Qiao is really being selfish now but somehow i don’t detest her yet – I find her character quite realistic actually.

      – spoiler alert – Am I the only one who thinks that Hui Zhen should not have left her post guarding the dress ? IRL, it would definitely be cause for dismissal if you are an intern. Some errands should not be done – part of professional working life is learning to know when to do and when not.

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      • Lin Yimu is has been growing on me since ep 21 but I just cant with him, do like in in today’s eps. Xia Qiao (no sympathy) maybe a little because of her step mom but her actions sometimes feel forced and in this version she doesn’t seem remorseful. AGREE she shouldn’t have left her post ON BOTH VERSIONS! I was like GURL STAY, ARE YOU TRYING TO GET FIRED?!!

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        • Hi !! I thought Xia Qiao was quite realistic in that she felt guilty and tries to compensate by getting Hui Zhen a job but not remorseful enough to come clean and stop deluding herself. Not a particularly noble person but oh-such-a-common-failing. Haoyu is also a selfish person and while it does not make him more likeable, I think it makes him realistic – most men are like that! Yimu is probably the anomaly unless there is a backstory to his quirkiness – what is with those sweets?

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  3. The C-drama version has a certain charm to it–different from the K-drama version–that really resonates with me and has made it a joy to watch. There is a greater naturalness to the story that has to be the product of having more episodes to work with. I love the dorkiness of Hui Zhen and the fact that she’s not the most competent person. I like that her appearance isn’t necessarily the main reason that she’s something of a failure but rather her cheerful unwillingness to compromise and follow societal/business norms. The focus on her appearance was something that I hated in She Was Pretty because otherwise Hye Jin was a pretty competent and intelligent person.

    I love Zhang BinBin as Yimu. He was pretty great in Love O2O as KO and he’s doing a wonderful job here. I like how he goes from pesky brother to attentive, sympathetic listener in the blink of an eye. It also helps that he is very easy on the eyes. Can’t wait to see him in Three Lives, Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms and I hope that he has a big leading role in his future. He’s not Choi Siwon but that’s okay with me.

    My only complaints are with the makeup on Dilraba–those freckles look so fake (and in comparison the makeup on Hwang Jung Eum was really well done)–Peter Sheng’s rather one-note portrayal of Bai Haoyu (I fail to see why anyone would remain hopelessly devoted to him for a day much less more than a decade) and the lack of back story for Xia Qiao. IIRC, in She Was Pretty the best friend’s complicated relationship with her parents and step-mother was more fleshed out and explained better why she was so desperate for Park Seo Joon’s affection. It didn’t make me sympathize with her but I understood where she was coming from. Oddly enough I don’t hate Xia Qiao as much but I find her willingness to stab Hui Zhen in the back less understandable. Actually this version seems to be skimping on the back story in general–at least in the areas that aren’t specific to Haoyu and Hui Zhen’s childhood friendship. I mean, I like the slightly increased side story of Xue Xue’s hunt for the rich nephew and the weird friendship developing between Yimu and Qiao but I sort of miss the time spent in the K-drama with Hye Jin’s family and the added complication of Hye Jin’s look-a-like sister always trying to scam stuff from Park Seo Joon’s character. Maybe they’ll shoehorn that in later…

    It is funny, I’m still new to the world of C-dramas, but I am finding these 30+ episode dramas to be eminently watchable while the idea of a 20+ episode K-drama is still kind of off-putting. Maybe its the fact that so many C-dramas air more than 2 episodes a week so you feel like there’s less of a time commitment? Or the fact that their run time is usually 45 minutes or less? Maybe it is just that they are still new and therefore still charming…

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    • Hi!! I think the short run time definitely helps and if you are like me, watching in online without ad interruption, it makes for a fun watching experience !
      I googled Vin Zhang and he was the second lead in the Cage of Love with hawick Lau and Zheng Shuang previously – I am allergic to zheng Shuang so I didn’t catch I. He is also headlining a new drama, The King’s Woman, with Dilireba so I am looking forward to that πŸ™‚

      Peter Sheng – sigh, the boy needs acting classes – but my shallow self thinks he looks so cute when he smiles at Dilireba unreservedly – I watched the HC episode where he and Dilireba appeared and he is equally stiff in real life πŸ™‚ I think Bai Haoyu is Hui Zhen’s beautiful childhood memory and he does no wrong – it doesn’t help that he does do little things for her (which she is aware of) and she is the only one that knows the immense pressure he is under to transform Immortal. i do feel that they have chemistry in the c-version; not the sparkling kind but the awkward kind which makes it quite tender to watch. Why does Xia Qiao like him so much ? Probably coz he is cute and he is so open and unguarded with her as he thinks she is his old friend. Totally agree with you that I like the friendship between Yimu and Xia Qiao – it would be too much of a cliche for them to end up together but I don’t want Yimu to be alone 😦

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  4. Thanks for posting about this show … I can’t seem to find too many recaps/reviews regarding it. I agree with most of what the others above wrote. I’m fairly new to c-dramas after watching When A Snail Falls in Love (LOVED IT SO MUCH) and halfway through Love Me if You Dare and Stay With Me. I find this show to be really enjoyable and realistic … well expect for how slow and dense Bai Haoyu is to the real Li Huizhen. The actor Peter Sheng def. needs some more acting lessons, he is too stiff and robot like. When he does express his emotions his acting comes off better. I find Dilmurat Dilraba and Zhang Vin Vin to be excellent in their roles. The chemistry between them is fun to watch and they are great goofballs together. It is a shame they won’t end up together, more for Li Yimu’s character but yea. I’ve never seen these actors work before but from this show they are doing a great job. The actress Li Sierra’s character is whatever. It sucks what she is doing to her best friend but sadly I can see woman craving love or being loved so badly they are blinded by who they are hurting. I’ve never see the k-drama She Was Pretty but I am looking forward to the transformation and the ending. I’m sure it will be swoon worthy.

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  5. Hi!! Welcome to the weird wonderful world of c-drama πŸ™‚ are you enjoying Stay with Me & LMIYD? I dropped both unfortunately but Wang Kai looks so good in the former !

    I hope that Yimu has his own happy ending , even if he ends up alone. It’s not hard to see why Hui Zhen thinks he is a joker as he seems to derive great amusement from pranking her. Unfortunately I am not a fan of Yang Mi so don’t think will be catching 3 Livez, 3 Worlds where Dilireba is paired up with Zhao Bin Bin but they have another upcoming drama together too where they are the OTP.

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    • LMIYD is fine but I’m not a huge fan of the Sandra Ma character Yao Yao. I don’t find her as clever or smart as Jin Yan thinks she is. Wallace Huo is great in that role though. I actually started LMIYD and Stay With Me because of Wang Kai (since he was so great in When a Snail Falls in Love). Stay With Me is hard to keep going with because it is really dragging and there is almost 40 eps. The chemistry between Joe Chan and Wang Kai is great and fun to watch though. And looking at Wang Kai dress so nice and handsome is fun as well πŸ™‚

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      • After Love O2O piqued my interest in Cdramas, I too found myself watching LMIYD (admittedly after the requisite Yang Yang/Gu Man marathon) and WASFIL largely for Wang Kai. I finished Stay With Me and found it to be a largely fun ride. I mean there was ALOT of eye rolling going on and whiplash from the constant on and off again of relationships BUT the chemistry between the leads made it worthwhile. I really hope that someone subs Memory Lost which is based on a novel by the author of the novels that LMIYD and WASFIL are based on. I really like Ding Mo’s way of combining procedural crime drama with a hint of romance.

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        • Did they have a happy ending? I really really hope so as they have such cackling chemistry (both on screen and off!) .

          Memory lost is fun – I liked it very much too ; just don’t take it like a serious crime drama which it definitely isn’t πŸ™‚

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      • You and I both! Really didn’t like Yau Yau and gave me a bad impression of Sandra Ma as it was the first show I had seen her in. Tried very hard to stick with Stay With Me (I wrote about that too!) coz I like both Joe Chen and Wang Kai but I just couldn’t deal with the continuous illogical cycle of getting together and breaking up.

        Have you seen Nirvana In Fire? Wang Kai is in a supporting role but he is good there. The entire drama rocks too πŸ™‚

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        • Yes the on again off again in Stay With Me is a bit much but I might finish it. I’ve watched 17 eps so almost halfway. Yes everyone says Nirvana in Fire is great but it is over 50 eps so a big commitment but Hu Ge is pretty good looking in that and I know Wang Kai is in it as well. I would like to watch Memory Lost because I did like how Ding Mo wrote and read the online novel for When A Snail Falls in Love.

          Sandra Ma and Peter Sheng are going to be in that Oh My General series so that should be interesting. Hopefully better acting for the both of them.

          Question – what makes c-dramas so weird … and do you ever write about HK dramas because I am also watching A Fist Within Four Walls …

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          • Yes I am definitely anticipating General and I! The storyline sounds interesting too. Chen Xiao and Zheng Kai are quite good at playing the useless rich man son who turns out moldable so hope Peter Sheng will be good too!

            50 is only 10 more than Li Hui Zhen πŸ™‚ (shameless NiF propagator here!) I seldom watch HK dramas now but I do watch Ruco Chan so I did catch AFWDW – it was one of the 3 TVB shows I watched last year the other 2 being Over Run Over and Short End of the Stick. Will write about his drama once I start watching if there is an audience for that on this blog! πŸ™‚

            In terms of the weird c-drama world, it’s weird ina goodnway. The quality varies so much in terms of production, CGI, cinematography and acting skills but I do feel that it has improved in leaps and bounds the past few years.

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  6. First time watching Dilireba and can see why she’s popular! She’s really likable and is doing well in this role. Definitely going to follow her future dramas from now on.

    Quite fond of Peter Sheng from Go Princess Go and Race The World – he’s still a bit awkward though.

    Loving Zhang Bin Bin as Yimu.

    I like the different friendships between the four leads, esp Huizhen & Xiao Qiao (when it doesn’t involve Bai Haoyu =_=) and Xiao Qiao with Yimu.

    Up to Ep 15 and it is starting to drag a bit for me but I’m definitely sticking to the end.

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    • Hi! Totally agree with you! The friendship between Xia Qiao and Hui Zhen is well executed – I like that the former genuinely helps the latter in building up her knowledge on make up products and subsequently the make over. The strangers-in-the-night friendship between Yimu and Xia Qiao is also developed nicely – it feels genuine and not theatrical despite the dramatic coincidences !

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  7. I prefer the korean version and the reason being that it was only 16 episodes. Nothing against the actors and actresses but the overacting kills it for me. The main actress was good in her other dramas but I just don’t get why she has to talk in such a low deep voice at times. I mean come on I get that your family business went sour but there are plenty of people who work hard and go to college and still manage to take care of their appearance. I also was not a big fan of the plot line of the korean or this version about her hiding who she is from the main dude and getting her best friend involved. Also 40 episodes! No way they should just stop it by episode 20 why drag it on for another 20 more. Well good luck to everyone who plans on finishing this one all the way.

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    • Hi! I agree with you re the backstory as to why Hui Zhen turned out so different from her young self when she was such a confident little girl. What happened that made her decide to not conform to standard dressing and make up sense? Was she bullied ? It is a bit thin there but am now suspending my brain a little while watching the drama unfold πŸ™‚

      In terms of Xia Qiao masquerading as her, I guess Hui Zhen did it because she was so hurt that this person who is supposed to be her soulmate didn’t recognize her and she didn’t expect to ever see him again. Also she doesn’t know that Xia Qiao is still liaising with him after she met up with him at work. That element I can still stretch my plausibility factor to accept πŸ™‚

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      • The back story issue… That was one aspect of the Korean version that I liked better and found myself missing from the Chinese version. And there are times when I wonder if my understanding of the Chinese version (and sympathy for Xia Qiao) is largely because I still vaguely remember the back story from the Korean version. (IIRC correctly there was even an explanation for why the main character’s two best friends never really met as children.) In the Korean version they established very early on the fact that Ha Ri had “daddy issues” which led to her going from one emotionless series of dates to another in search of love. So it made sense that she would be attracted to the earnest Haoyu/Seong Jun, especially when he kept pursuing her.

        I’ve also been pondering one other thing: whether or not the character of Lin Yimu/Kim Shin Hyeok is successful because of the actors playing him or because he was written well? On the whole, it seems like his is the break out/scene stealing character of the drama. In fact, my love of Choi Siwon’s portrayal of Kim Shin Hyeok was what made me start watching Pretty Li Huizhen: I was curious to see how he would be translated. I mean, Siwon’s comic expression was a huge part of his appeal. In the Chinese version, I like that, after establishing Yimu’s role as the bratty, irritating older brother type, they ended up showing more of his sweet and thoughtful side. It helps that Zhang Bin Bin’s portrayal has been way more multi-faceted than I expected. Regardless, when I think of this drama, the second male lead is always the character I remember the most fondly.

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        • Hi!! Totally agree with you re backstory. I think it would have made the character development richer if that was enhanced particularly for Xia Qiao and as to why Hao Yu is still in love with Hui Zhen despite being apart for so many years and never meeting her – I mean he is super eligible !

          That said, I am still a fan πŸ™‚ so looking forward to Vin Zhang and Dilireba in their new show together (The King’s Woman) and its inexplicable, but I have a soft spot for Peter Sheng despite his stiffness. I think he is so cute when he has that goofy smile after they got together !

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          • Yes! His appeal grew once the big reveal happened and they both became dorks in love!

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            • Dorky In Love – I like that despite his outwardly good looking appearance and professional image, Bai Hao Yu is really quite dorky. Haven’t watched the latest episodes (42-46) as maple stage.com is having some issues in my region 😦

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  8. oh my goodness, I can’t stand Bai hao yen and Xia Qiao. Xia Qiao you don’t do that to your “friends” and Bai hao yen why are you so think and rude. Hui zhen step it up, yes, you’re diligent but thick.

    Lin Yi mu is the only character i like… that said i cant stop watching it

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