Feature: Why Li Chu rocks – Glory of Tang Dynasty

I started off writing a pseudo-review of Glory of Tang Dynasty (GOTD) segueing into the first impression of GOTD2 and realized that most of my comments relate back to Li Chu (and Allen Ren who plays the role). So, I decided to do a special piece on him. Why does he rock? Let me count the ways:

1. He is an awesome husband. He doesn’t just loves Zhen Zhu, but he understands, supports, and respects her. Although he is not a faultless one (he is prone to fits of jealousy and keeps secrets from her for the greater good, leading to misunderstanding in GOTD1 and unnecessary pain for Zhen Zhu in the early episodes of GOTD2), but they share a genuine, deep love bonded by mutual respect and desire. He forgives her faults, trusts her wholeheartedly once he realises that she has no romantic feelings for An Qing Xu, defends her vehemently (even to the advisor, Li Bi, despite the strategic big picture that love should be sacrificed for the throne) and fulfills his promise to her to seek revenge for the massacre of her family. I loved that scene in Ep 6 of GOTD2 where his first reaction to Dugu Jingyao, when she showed him the Dugu family token that can be used to invoke their power was that it was the item which resulted in Zhen Zhu’s family being annihilated rather a chess piece part of his strategy to be Crown Prince and ultimately King. He always has her in the back of his mind even when he is not with her.

2. He has a career. Unlike many great-in-love male leads in c-dramas, Li Chu actually takes his job seriously (helping the King run the kingdom), has career aspirations (he is not unabashed in his aim to be Crown Prince), manages his finances (being the behind-the-scenes owner in many profit generating establishments to fund his strategies), and plans ahead (private security force anyone?). This aspect makes his character whole – not just a romantic goody two shoes, but a family man with grand vision who tries to implement his strategies while living his life. As he told Li Bi, Zhen Zhu would not be another Yang Guifei and he would fight the hardest to honour both his love and his responsibilities

3. He is not a love cheat. Could have put it in (1) above, but I thought this important enough to stand alone as he is not just faithful in his love to Zhen Zhu, but also in clearly drawing the line with Dugu Jingyao. He doesn’t manipulate Jingyao (who has demonstrated time and again her willingness to be manipulated) because he respects her as a comrade-in-arms, but should she marry him, he would not love her and it would be purely be a political marriage which would be unfair to her. I thought it was wise of the show to not make him indifferent or completely adverse to Jing Yao (unlike Concubine Cui) because he is after all, a man. As a married person, one encounters many temptations along the way – what differentiates one from another is how they react. He is not obsessive as An Qing Xu (who would never be unfaithful to Zhen Zhu), but yet he is clear to the other women that there is only one in his heart. I thought it was stunningly realistic that he still had to bed Concubine Cui (as she was related to the Yang family and their marriage could not be in name only to prevent attacks on that front), but he was upset that the timing was off hence resulting in her possibly siring him an heir. Strategic!

4. He is a fantastic brother. Ah, Li Tan. You poor, poor fella. Especially since he and Murong Lingzhi were such a cute couple. The scene where Li Chu was pleading with the King in his capacity as their father to spare his son was truly heartbreaking.

5. He is a good son. Despite the awfulness of his father (played most excellently by Wang Jing Song as a selfish, weak man), he did not plot to overthrow him, but instead worked within the boundaries to try and protect the kingdom and his loved ones.

How did Allen Ren do to bring this multi-layered character to life? I think he did really well. It is my first time watching him and he totally impressed me with his micro-expressions, posture and gait in conveying the nuances of Li Chu in all his interactions. I love how he and Li Tan are really close without the obvious brotherly gestures (Qin Jun Jie is also a good actor)in the way they exchange a look or stand together against the world. He also has great chemistry with Jing Tian (my first time watching her) and they make a really believable rootable couple from the way they glance at each other or even a simple hand clasp

If the show follows history, it’s going be heartbreak for the OTP so I am hoping that there will be some artistic licence applied to give them a little happiness after all they have been through. They deserve it!

Can the show be better? Definitely. But, for now, the top-notch acting (even the supporting cast), the beautiful Tang era costumes, and interesting (albeit tragic) storyline is keeping me watching

PS. Special shout-out to Empress Zhang (played most calmly by Vivienne Liu) who is an absolute b%^ch. But, at least, her scheming is to benefit only herself to be the power player behind the screens, and not driven by the typical female palace reason to solely be the only one loved by the King

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17 thoughts on “Feature: Why Li Chu rocks – Glory of Tang Dynasty

  1. I havent seen him Glory of Tang Dynasty but i liked him in Legend of Chusen

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  2. I adore the OTP! Too bad it’ll be an unhappy ending.

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  3. Haven’t watched this drama yet, but now you’ve made me want to! I guess this will be next on my list ^^

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  4. Pingback: First Impressions: Glory of Tang Dynasty – dramamochi

  5. Thank you for recommending this drama and writing a post on how awesome the character Li Chu is! He definitely deserve a post or shoutout, haha! I think most of people tune in because of him or the OTP as well. That being said, this drama cure my drama drought that I was going through, lol. So far, none of the 2017 dramas I anticipate were up to my expectations. I know a lot of people enjoyed 3W3L and for me it was just decent. I didn’t find it addicting or compelling like others. I’m not bashing it or anything but I did overlooked this drama. To be frank, I didn’t really want to watch this drama even when promos/trailers were coming out. I’m glad I watched it because this drama is a gem in my eyes. From the costumes, directing, acting, and a compelling storyline, I got sucked into it. I know palace dramas are not everyone’s cup of tea and I avoided it with all the schemings but here the schemings were executed well that I was quite intrigued. Enough with that.

    I think I’ve become a fan of the actor Allen Ren, although he’s not universally handsome. He really made Li Chu so handsome in my eyes. I’m not going to write too much because you pretty nailed why his character is awesome. I know Li Chu is a cool character that most audience rooted for or has an affinity toward but I really become a fan of Jing Tian as well. She acted so well and is such a versatile actress imo. Though I heard she’s not that well-liked or received sometimes by audiences which perplex me because when I watched her interviews and she’s very vivacious and adorable. Together, they made the OTP that I root so much for since there were tons of misunderstandings and hurdles. I didn’t they would had this much chemistry but oh boy was electrifying, especially when they were apart from each other. Sorry for the long post!

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    • Hello! No, no – please dont apologise for the long post! We love reading it and the website is definitely meant for this! 🙂

      Yes, Jing Tian did very well here too – there is no over or under acting which is easy to trip into when immersed in such an angsty, mentally character and she did the transition from a carefree young girl to a mature woman well.

      I read on another website that the gossip is that she gets so much flack due to backlash from her getting roles in big movies from her connection to someone powerful, despite her not headlining any well received dramas/movies prior to that. I dont think its due to her lack of acting skills / looks but just that her ascent to movieworld seems unfair compared to so many other c-world actresses who may also have the looks and acting chops. Not sure how true this is but I will definitely make it a point to watch the next drama that she is in. Believe her new one is a school-day movie with Ouyang Ohu.

      Doesn’t Li Chu rock? The contrast of Li Chu’s wedding night with Zhen Zhu and Dugu Jingyao was just too obvious – there is no denying that Li Chu is not keen on the marriage but he will be responsible hence gifting her the sword as they are comrade-in-arms. The exchange during breakfast was also hilarious – I always wonder at characters like Dugu Jingyao who are so insistent at not being married off to someone she doesnt have feelings for but yet forces herself on someone who obviously has no feelings for her. If she thinks she can convince him to like her surely the reverse would also be true for her an An Qing Xu? This to me, is supreme selfishness, which is one the reason I do not like Dugu Jingyao because unlike Concubine Cui, she is not a silly woman but instead adopt a superior attitude in justifying her wrongs purely because she can be a good ally with Li Chu. I guess I am also incensed because she is totally giving us career women a bad name! LoL.

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      • Okay, thank you, I tend to write a lot and love to discuss dramas in general. Sadly, a lot of my friends don’t watch Chinese dramas so finding a community to discuss with makes me very chattery. 🙂

        You’re totally right that Jing Tian does not lack neither skills or looks but I can see why people are not happy about her getting big leading roles in films/dramas. I was surprised that she got to work a lot of gigs in Hollywood and IMBD list her before Andy Lau in that Matt Damon’s movie so I do get the backlash. But I think she got the talents to back her up as well so I wouldn’t complain that much.

        Despite all that, I do hope that this drama sheds some light that she’s a good actress and helped her gained popularity. I’ve been seeing more posts about her, so that’s a sign? I checked out her previous dramas/films – though I can’t through some of them but by few glimpses, the roles that she play are all deviated one others which I like for a young actress.

        Back to the drama, their wedding night scene is one of my favorites. I love how Li Chu’s eyes completely glistened when he saw her and automatically hug her. He couldn’t believe he’s marrying someone he likes. I find the scene ironic because Li Tan says that he treats his marriage as political affairs yet it’s probably a blissful marriage ceremony. Double win for him. Li Chu has always treated Zhen Zhu differently from all the females. From telling her to call him his special name or birth name (I watched it in Viet subs so not sure the accuracy there) to giving her his mother’s bracelet AND just the way he looks at her just speak volumes. So obviously theres’s bound to be jealousy from all the women who like him. But I AGREE – I hate Dugu Jinyao so much! There were several villains and antagonists in the series, but SHE WAS THE WORST OF THE WORST. If that is even grammatically correct, lol.
        Characters like her are regulars in a lot of political dramas – the one who like to tear the OTP apart but I think what irks a lot viewers including you and I was that she was a general. A female who is career-oriented so the fact she had sort of a job and could kick ass and had this ugly pettiness and selfishness attitude made me so furious. Since she’s not like Concubine Cui or He Lingyi, 2 female characters who are obsessed with Li Chu as well are not as strategic as her. Actually, I say He Lingyi was up there since she did worked with LC but not as terrible as DJ. I forgot where I read this but on another site that DJ take advantages of LC because he isn’t as cold to her as the others so she thinks she got a chance- BUT STILL. I can go on but bottom line was she was horrendous character and pretty much FF a lot of her scenes a lot. I felt like throwing up blood (which happens frequently in the drama…lol). I skimmed through a lot of scenes in beginnings of S2 but toward the middle..gah the angst was actually good. I just love that DJ thinks that by separating them will make them not love each other – instead their bond grew even more.
        Gah, I love how his bodyguard was trying to help them get together.

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        • Oh do feel free to write to your heart’s content here 🙂 Agree with your analysis of Dugu Jingyao – that is really the main reason why I do not like this character. She can do war strategy and be a good role model for women but instead she is turning on this woman whom she literally begged for consent to narry her husband. This is because Dugu, being intelligent, knows that Li Chu would never ask for her hand in marriage even if it means sacrificing some of his power base hence she “Attacked” Zhen Zhu. And right after you marry Li Chu, you have the nerve to disparage Zhen Zhu (on the basis that you have a direct personality – really annoys me as it gives assertive women a bad name) and act all coy and sad with Li Chu because he wouldnt give you his heart (although he has told you COUNTLESS times that he has no romantic feelings for you) and then, to top it all off, to think that you are taking the high road and being the magnanimous one! That to me is just so so unacceptable. She is just the same as those scheming harem women but just PC-fying it with a gloss of self righeousness!!

          Okay, rant over 🙂

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    • Well, I agree with you especially when you talk about Jing Tian. I started to know her after I watched Ban Shu Legend(2015). I recommend for you to watch that drama if you would like to see her acting in that drama. The hero in this drama is also a handsome person.

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      • Hello! Thanks for the recommendation. I remembered I had a quick look at this and thought that there was some overacting but couldn’t remember who! 😂 Maybe worthwhile to try again. Yes, it was Zhang Zhe Han I believe.

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  6. Lol. It is fun to read both comments about Dugu Jingyao. I understand your feeling but after all she is a woman and when it comes to feeling, it goes beyond reasoning. Li Chu’s love and attention for Zhen Zhu were what she could not resist to have. Anyhow if she didn’t do that we wouldn’t have more drama to watch :P.

    I admire the cast of this drama. Although it is the same type of political palace drama but the acting is what make it worth watching. As many had said, Allen Ren’s performance here was surprisingly good for a newbie. He really has the potential to become even better, looking forward to his other work. Jing Tian was solid here but I still like her character or her performance better in Ban Shu Legend. Love all supporting cast including Wan Qian as Dugu Jingyao performed very well as a cool and skillful female general and her straightforward honest love confession to Li Chu. Mao Zi Jun was also great, his role reminded me of Wallace Huo’s character in 倾世皇妃 but of course WH’s performance and character is better 🙂 Jun Jie’s Li Tan is memorable and Liu Wei Wei’s performance as the evil, power seeking empress Zhang is faultless.

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  7. Forget to mention, the child actors are also cute and acted well too 🙂 Make me wonder why couldn’t Zhen Zhu have feeling for her childhood friend An Er ge 😛
    The ending scene was heart-aching T_T It is just so sad. The director did such a great job.

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    • Yes, in terms of heart wrenching scene – GOTD has plenty! Toughens one when watching other c-dramas!! Currently watching Princess Agents and while it’s good, have yet to shed a tear!

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