After Story of Yanxi Palace and Legend of Hao Lan, Yu Zheng now has another series for viewers and it looks to be something different from his usual set of palace dramas.
Winter Begonia 鬓边不是海棠红 is a 55-episode Chinese drama that will showcase the art form of traditional Chinese opera. It stars Huang Xiaoming (The Years You Were Late), Charmaine Sheh (Story of Yanxi Palace), Yin Zheng (Original Sin), Merxat Mi Re (Legend of Yunxi), Tan Jianci (Secret of the Three Kingdoms), Eva Huang (Air Strike), Bai Bing (The Evolution of Our Love), Chi Shuai (Legends of Monkey King), Tang Zeng (Niang Qin Jiu Da) and Liu Min (The King of Blaze).
Set in the 1930’s, Winter Begonia follows opera performer Shang Xirui (Yin Zheng) whose wish is to promote Chinese opera in Peking despite being an outsider. After seeing one of Shang Xirui’s performances, a rich businessman named Cheng Fengtai (Huang Xiaoming) falls in love with Chinese opera and befriends him. With the assistance of Cheng Fengtai, Shang Xirui manages to rebuild the Peking opera house where he trains new opera performers.
In 1937, the Japanese army invades Peking, killing and looting its residents. Shang Xirui and Cheng Fengtai join the fight against foreign invaders to preserve all that they hold dear. While it is true that the source novel by Water Like Heaven (lit.) 水如天儿 delved into the BL relationship of the two lead males, the drama diverges from the theme to focus on the friendship.
The attraction between the two still comes from Huang Xiaoming’s character becoming a staunch fan of the art after witnessing Shang Xirui perform. Underneath the thick layers of makeup, actor Yin Zheng has made quite a transformation as the opera performer. The casting of Charmaine Sheh as Fan Xiang, Cheng Fentai’s gentle and intelligent wife will undoubtedly bring more attention to her character and relationship with the male lead.
Release Date: March 20, 2020 iQIYI
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