Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei: Overall Review

Chinese DramasDrama Reviews

Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei is an action c-drama that aired back in 2011.  Apparently it could also be classified as a wu xia but I view it as more of a fusion-wu xia-action drama.  It stars Wallace Huo & Liu Shi Shi!   I posted about the last few episodes of YZM a long time ago in 2011.  But when I look back at those posts now…I realize that they sucked.  T_T  Pretty much all I talked about in those posts was about San Niang x Ge Xiao, HAHA.  Anyways I’m replacing them with this overall post instead!  😉

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Yi Zhi Mei is about a group of four thieves who steal for justice.  In other words, they steal from the rich corrupt people to help the poor.  At first the four of them are at odds with each other and begrudgingly cooperate for one project…but eventually they decide to stick together to help others as well.  I know, it sounds pretty awesome and exciting but unfortunately the plot isn’t quite as complex or thrilling as it could’ve been.  I think the drama would’ve been much better if only it had a more cohesive story and if it had elaborated more on the concept of the righteous-thief.  Instead the story is separated into mini story arcs; each one is a few episodes long and it focuses on the past of each of the group members.  There is also an overall cat and mouse game between the main character and his arch-enemy, but that wasn’t all too compelling.

Anyways I guess the main draw of Yi Zhi Mei would be the characters.  Even if their story arcs weren’t super interesting, at least the characters are entertaining to watch and they also have awesome fight scenes.  Wallace Huo plays the role of Li Ge Xiao, a super genius and the leader of the group.  He is all angsty over his lover’s death and he also must fight off his genius nemesis, Wu Qian.  Don’t get me wrong, it is awesome gazing at Wallace in this drama (totally not shallow at all! 😛 ) but I admit his acting here could use some improvement.  Li Ge Xiao recruits three other members for his team–Xiao Mei, who is a master of disguise and uses hidden weapons such as a fan and needles–San Niang, a master thief & pick-pocket who is the only female member of the group–and Chai Hu, who is known for his super-strength.  My favorite characters would actually be San Niang and Xiao Mei because they are the most lively and spunky characters.

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YUP I’m proud of myself for knowing who Liu Shi Shi was BEFORE her breakthrough role in Bu Bu Jing Xin. 😛  Although LSS’ role here isn’t as complex as her role in BBJX, I’d say I like her character as San Niang more!   San Niang is SUPER AWESOME…even though I don’t watch many wu xia one thing I love is how the lady characters always kick butt!  Let’s just say you don’t want to come across San Niang when she’s mad!   I was really invested in San Niang’s character because she’s so fearless and full of girl power, and yet she is also vulnerable and sees the best in Li Ge Xiao!

San Niang also has really great outfits. At first I was all, ‘why is she wearing ribbons with her hat thingy?’ but eventually I realized how awesome all her outfits really are.

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The main reason I was addicted to YZM is because of San Niang and Ge Xiao’s romance.  Omg.  The romance is much more subtle in this drama but I sitll loved it all the same.  There are not tons of shippy scenes in every episode, but each and every scene with San Niang and Ge Xiao was so good.  Yeah, once I got on their ship I just couldn’t stop watching, even if that meant having to watch some of the more boring episodes.  I admit, if there were no San Niang x Ge Xiao in YZM I probably wouldn’t have been watching it.  O___O”” 

Anyways I really like the relationship between San Niang and Ge Xiao.  San Niang is the first one to fall for Ge Xiao, but she doesn’t throw herself at him or anything.  Instead she gives him some space while still showing him how much she cares about him.  Ge Xiao is only loyal to San Niang because he views her as his comrade.  But later on we see him warming up to her and he finally decides that he can let go of his ex-lover and spend his life with San Niang.

San Niang x Ge Xiao MV

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^more great moments.  I especially love the scene when San Niang is surrounded by like 30 guards and she still holds her ground!

Overall

Honestly, at first I tried watching ep1 of YZM a few times and I couldn’t get past the first scene.  O___O  I was not impressed at all with the opening scene of Wallace sweating and fighting some random guy in a boxing ring.  But one day I eventually got past that first scene and ended up being quite surprised by the drama!  Usually I have gripes about wu xia and Chinese RPG dramas because of the cheesy CG effects, the overexaggerated fighting, etc.  Although Yi Zhi Mei isn’t without its cheesy moments, it is exceptional when it comes to its fight scenes.  I’m glad that it doesn’t overuse the CG or the wirework so that the fighting seems more natural.  Also I feel like it is more experimental and creative with the fight scenes especially since it keeps the CG effects to a minimum. 

If you enjoy other RPG dramas (i.e. Xuan Yuan Sword) or wu xia I would recommend giving Yi Zhi Mei a try.  Personally I don’t find the drama good enough for me to rewatch the entire thing, but I still have many favorite scenes that I am fond of!

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • I think I saw a little bit of this back when it first came out but I couldn’t get through the first episode. I too have gripes with outlandish and/or too much CG effects. yu zheng’s version of swordsman comes to mind -_-

    • Hey bumbleberri sorry for responding so late to your comment. O_O Somehow your comments ended up in the spam filter, I have no idea why. Anyways I found that YZM is much more toned down in cheesy CG effects. Especially in comparison to Swordsman or Xuan Yuan Sword. Any special effects actually seem to work logically, for instance San Niang has the ‘lightness’ skill that lets her fly and makes her quick & nimble. I don’t know why but when I saw that part I was all “AHA! That makes sense!” Lol. But there are also cheesy parts as well, and the quality of the acting is average.

  • Thank for sharring.Honestly I love this show much more thanBBJX because I think BBJX is just too Soap opera for me.Sorry for saying that but it’s just my opinion …I don’t like the story that everyone has to fall for one girl kind of thing. Well I think Yi Zhi Mei is more rational. Anyway it’s very good review.

  • I sat down and watched this whole drama yesterday and then I found this review for it. Nice! It was just fun to watch and not have to think much about it. I ended up having to rewind a lot because I’d get so distracted by all the pretty (cough Wallace Huo cough) that I’d forget to read the subtitles.

  • LOL. I thought I’m the only one that thought San Niang was LSS’s best role. Wished she would play this kind of roles more often. And I want another Wallace/LSS collaboration (Incisive Great Teacher doesn’t count)!

    Loved very San Niang and LGX scenes. I was initially disappointed with the lack of romance scenes, but understood-San Niang wouldn’t be San Niang and LGX wouldn’t be LGX if they made both of these characters all lovey dovey and mushy. So the amount they have in the series was just right, and loved every minute of it!

    Great review. Thanks!

    • LSS’ role in YZM was kinda overshadowed by the popularity of her role in BBJX. Perhaps even her role in Xuan Yuan Sword is more known. T__T it’s a shame because San Niang is freaking awesome!!!

      • Well, when you think of the time line. YZM was made and broadcast before LSS became very popular. BBJX was a guaranteed hit because the novel was popular and already have so many fans following it. Also, the main cast (Nicky and Kevin) were somewhat already well-known.

        LSS was known, but not that popular (same with Wallace). YZM was broadcast on a smaller station and Tangren did not promote the series (if at all), not as much as they paid attention to BBJX (Tangren went all out and gave it all they’ve got to promote BBJX).

        So, I guaranteed you. If YZM was to be made after BBJX, it would have been a major hit. Well, because of LSS and Wallace being more popular than before.

  • Loving it so far! I’m about half way and I’m still as invested as I was on the first episode (Which is pretty rare for me!) The only thing that I thought was kind of weird was the choppy endings to some of the episodes. Did anyone else notice that or was it just me?

    • Yay I’m glad you’re enjoying it!! I think the abrupt endings of episodes are common in c–dramas… Because sometimes they split up the episodes differently for different versions or something. >_<

  • Ah, I’m still stuck on one of the arcs. I think it’s the one about Ge Xiao and his wife. I don’t know if it’s because of the wife or the tragic end, but I just can’t go pass it. = (

  • Loved this, and I agree about getting through the first episode…the good stuff comes a little later! 😀 I also loved San Niang and Xiao Mei the best! They were just so damn awesome! Just wondering, do you have any recommendations for dramas (especially historical/ wuxia) that have a seriously kickass female lead like San Niang? Modern dramas are awesome too but I honestly think I’ve watched most of them already (lol). I love how San Niang is so badass and skilled in everything, since I’ve seen some dramas where people said the female lead was really strong, etc. etc. but it was more that they just weren’t stupid like in the usual asian dramas.

    • *high five* Yeah San Niang and Xiao Mei are the most fun to watch! *W*

      Uhhhh well actually I’m not very knowledgeable about wu xia…YZM is like my one and only wu xia. O_O You might want to check out Wu Xia Edge for other recommendations. As for period c-dramas, the strong heroines tend to be strong in terms of their wit and intelligence rather than their physical ability.

      Sadly enough modern dramas usually have so-called strong heroines that always fit the mold of the spunky, bold, good-hearted woman. I feel like most heroines in rom-coms all seem the same after a while. >_>

      • Given a good Wuxia, I would always choose it over a modern series with equally good production values. There’s this bigger than life theme running in Wuxia series. And like what you mentioned, characters in Wuxia/period series are usually more interesting and complex than modern ones, maybe because of the situations our heroes and heroines can find themselves thrown into arising from feudal societal classes and ancient schools of thoughts on appropriate behaviours.

        I’m quite a period/ancient/Wuxia-purist in that I don’t like too much modern elements mixed in to create the new genre called fusion. Too much poor quality CG, too much modern mannerism and way of speech put me off. That was why I gave up watching the HZGG remake. I could not stand the blatant kissing, hugging and other PDA by the leads. >_<

        That's why I'm really quite glad that Ge Xiao and San Niang didn't have too much touchy scenes together. LOL…Sometimes a simple hug or a silent gaze can work more magic than a frenzied kiss (not that I don't swoon at OTP skinship, of course). 😉

        • I guess you’re right, at the time when I was watching YZM I was REALLY REALLY into their OTP so I was very bitter over the lack of lovey dovey scenes (LOL) but looking back……it would’ve been uncharacteristic of them to show such open displays of affection. >_<

  • I started watching YZM for Wallace Huo (not a major fan, but I was in major need of some drama – non-YuZheng – and eyecandy, and this turned up in one of my subscribed channels). I had enjoyed the TVB version of this popular hero, but then the K-ver totally put me off, and I had lots of hesitations when I started watching.

    But just 5 mins into episode 1, I was hooked. For shallow reasons being Edwin Siu and Wallace Huo. But beyond that, the formation of YZM, the special skills and personality trait each of them possessed, the interesting plotlines, the believable and exciting fight scenes, and of course the romance kept me glued to the screen.

    The mini-arcs are not overly complex, but they are quite unique, especially when we watch Ge Xiao’s plans unfold. I like how the min-arcs showed the back story of each YZM character and helped to build up their comradery and understanding of each other. It was so satisfying to see the trust growing among the 4! I’ve had enough of palace scheming and characters who are forced to betray friends (and themselves in the process), the characteristics of the numerous period dramas of late. The Jianghu 逍遥ness/carefreeness in YZM was the main factor why I kept watching.

    This must be one of the best China dramas I’ve watched in recent years. It has that X-factor that puts its relatively thinner plot and less complex characterisations against the big names like BBJX and ZHZ up there on my list.

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