Scarlet Heart 步步惊心 means many things for Cecilia Liu Shi Shi and Nicky Wu. It cemented her status as a top star, rejuvenated his acting career (he was 40 then) and culminated in the couple’s lovely beach wedding in Bali, so it seems only fitting to talk about the show that brought them together.
Based on a novel called Bu Bu Jing Xin aka Startling By Each Step written by Tong Hua 桐华, this 35-episode drama adaptation tells the tale of an average white-collar worker who wakes in the body of Maertai Ruoxi, a young Manchu maiden during the reign of Kangxi. There are too many dramas in the time travel romance genre, yet this one easily sets itself apart because it manages to tell a compelling story extremely well.
The show revolves around the Nine Lords War 九子奪嫡, a time in history fraught with tension and perils because of a fight for the throne, yet beyond the politics is a passionate romance that touches the heart.
It was a formula that paid off, even warranting a Korean drama remake starring IU and Lee Joonki. There is also a sequel and a movie by the same name but honestly, the latter two should have never been made.
For an in-depth review of each episode, check out mydramatea.