Xin Bu Bu Jing Xin – Time to Love (Movie Review)

Chinese MoviesMovie Reviews

Bu Bu Jing Xin purists, I advise you to steer clear of the movie version–Xin Bu Bu Jin Xin (Chinese title) and Time to Love (English title)Hardcore BBJX fans would probably spit blood at all of the changes made in the movie.  The plot is drastically different, some of the characters are reinvented, and the movie as a whole feels…disjointed.  Even though I was actually pretty hyped up in my posts on the movie, I actually went into the movie with very low expectations.  And I’m glad I did, because I was able to watch the movie without spitting blood.  😉

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First of all, throw out everything you know about Bu Bu Jing Xin out of the window.  Basically only the setting, a few characters, and the starting premise of the story are the same as the original BBJX.  Taiwanese actress Ivy Chen stars as the heroine–Zhang Xiaowen, a modern woman who accidentally time travels back to the Qing Dynasty and becomes Maertai Ruo Xi.  Xiaowen is a humorous woman who loves making people laugh and…riding carousels?!  Yes, her love of carousels is actually an important detail in the movie, so keep that in mind. T_T  Xiaowen dreams of finding her perfect boyfriend but can’t find anyone who reaches her high expectations.  Lucky her, she gets the chance to find a princely boyfriend when she time slips back to the past!

The beginning of the movie with Xiaowen adjusting to life in the Qing Dynasty is fun.  Ivy Chen portrays her character’s disorientation and disbelief very well.  I love the look on Xiaowen’s face when she asks where the restroom is and gets a chamber pot in return.  LOL.  I also like how she wonders whether this is candid camera and makes Legend of Zhen Huan references.  Honestly, if I time traveled back to the Qing Dynasty, I’d do the same thing.  😛

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You’d think that the movie would get more exciting with the introduction of Ruo Xi’s two ~princely~ love interests, but from here on out it just feels more and more awkward.  I was really excited to see Tony Yang as 4th prince, but it’s hard to take him seriously when he enters the room with a heavenly light and DOVES–I kid you not, DOVES–flying behind him.  Erm.  As for differences between Tony and Nicky’s 4th princes, Nicky’s 4th prince showed his cute playful side whereas Tony’s does not.  Both versions of 4th prince are ruthless, controlling, and have an ambitious vision of taking the throne.  For me the big problem with movie-4th prince is that he has very little character development (which also goes for all the other main characters) and barely any chemistry with Ruo Xi.  The highly anticipated kiss scene (top right pic) turned out to be a totally awkward kiss.  *sigh*

The second love interest is 14th prince, played by Shawn Dou.  14th prince was my favorite in the drama version…but I also like Tony Yang…so as you can imagine I was conflicted when it came to which prince to root for here. 😛  14th prince is similar to the original 14th in that he’s a warrior and falls in love with Ruo Xi.  That’s about it.  14th prince here is much gentler and becomes besties with Ruo Xi–quite different from the drama, in which Ruo Xi and 14th had a lot of arguments. o_o  Chemistry-wise, Shawn Dou doesn’t fare much better with Ivy than Tony does.  But *SPOILER ALERT* Ruo Xi chooses 14th prince in the end!

Why does the chemistry between the leads feel flat?  It’s not that there’s a bad cast–I’ve seen how good Tony Yang is at acting, and Ivy Chen has had a lot of acting experience.  The cast just didn’t have that much to work with.  The length of the movie was rather short, the script felt rushed, and the characters were left under-developed.  The movie tries to have it all–palace politics, romance, and humor–but unfortunately the balance between these elements is off.

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One of my frustrations with movie-Ruo Xi is that she has no realistic sense of what’s happening around her.  Yes, towards the end she defends 14th prince’s life in the struggle for the throne and realizes how ruthless 4th prince is.  Yes, throughout the entire movie, assassins make attempts on her life because the crown prince views her as a threat.  But for the majority of the time, Ruo Xi is too busy ogling 4th prince and accidentally falling in love with 14th prince to have any urgent sense of danger.  =_=

A lot of people have been curious about how Ivy Chen matches up to Liu Shi Shi.  I gotta say that Ivy Chen really looks the part of Ruo Xi’s age, much more so than Liu Shi Shi.  Liu Shi Shi portrayed Ruo Xi’s initial mischievous young-at-heart personality fairly well, but I think Ivy Chen captured her youth and naivete in a more natural way.  I can’t really compare Ivy and Liu Shi Shi’s serious emotional scenes because LSS had way more of them than Ivy did.  I wish I could’ve seen how Ivy would’ve tackled the same scenes that were in the drama, but alas…the movie didn’t give her that opportunity.

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Lastly, the styling in the movie is quite different from the usual Qing Dynasty costuming.  Ruo Xi’s clothes have a lot of lace and swirly embroidery.  Her platform shoes are wedges rather than the Manchu horse-hoof platforms.  The movie likely made these changes to go along with its fairy tale-ish theme.  In terms of hairstyles, I felt that movie-Ruo Xi’s hairstyles aren’t that different from drama-Ruo Xi’s.  They look similar, just interpreted slightly differently.  Drama-Ruo Xi’s hairstyles tended to use large flowers as the main accessory, whereas movie-Ruo Xi’s hairstyles use smaller accessories.  Overall, I prefer movie-Ruo Xi’s hairstyles more and drama-Ruo Xi’s outfits more; I just find them to be cuter, heh.  The one hairstyle of movie-Ruo Xi’s that I cannot get over though, is her most iconic one:

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The more and more I looked at it during the movie, the more I realized it looks like the stylist just stuck an entire flower bouquet on top of Ruo Xi’s head.  T_T””

Overall

I prefer not to call this movie an adaptation of Bu Bu Jing Xin; instead, I regard it as a spin-off.  The movie barely resembles the original story and thus, should not be treated as such.  I thought the movie would at least have the romance fluff that other Qing Dynasty movies such as Gong The Palace achieved, but it did not.

I ended up writing about a lot of the downfalls of the movie, but I must qualify this by saying that I didn’t hate it.  I actually had an amusing time while watching it because it just felt so bizarre seeing all the changes that it made from the original. On top of that, I laughed a lot at the intentionally humorous moments and the unintentionally dramatic cheesy scenes.

Time to Love Theme Song by Ivy Chen

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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  • Couldn’t agree more with your review. I don’t understand why they didn’t give the movie a completely different name since it was so different than the source. I did think the movie was cute too in a fluffy, and at times, cheesy way. Spot on review!

  • Bizarre is a good term for this movie. I actually have watched it more than once because I was hoping I missed some important plot details the first time – like: why did she live with Tony Yang exactly? Where were all the other girls? Why did no one mention Important Henchman #1’s weird eye? I guess they spent all the script money on writing those poop and pee jokes. Sigh.

    • I know right? The most bizarre thing for me was the shaman character. T_T I understand that the movie wanted to have a reason for why the heroine time traveled back to time but I couldn’t take the shaman seriously at all. It felt weird with the shaman popping in at random moments in the movie, attempting to ‘save’ Ruo Xi. Another bizarre moment was when Ruo Xi teached the emperor & princes how to clap. Why did they choose to include that rather than filling out all the missing details?!

  • I had been hyped by the trailers and the beautiful official MV, and like most who have watched it, I was left utterly disappointed. This isn’t merely a “new take” on BBJX — it’s a fanfic. But the butchering isn’t my major issue — it’s the poor execution (which you have elaborated above).

    Oh well. At least the songs are nice and the dog is very cute.

  • I haven’t watched it and after reading your review, I don’t know whether I want to watch the movie or not…
    What do you think Hei Sui?

    Btw, where can we watch the video online?
    Thank you…

  • I’m so disappointed. I heard that the movie would be a true sequel to the original drama compared to Bu Bu Jing Qing. Then again I think the story is done and needs no sequel. The author most likely want to concentrate on a new story. Ivy Chen does look pretty.

  • Hi Hei Sui!! I interested to BBJX when i first read about the upcoming kdrama moon lovers.LOL. I havent finish watch it yet,really waiting 4 the korean version and hope it would be as good as the chinese vers. Thanx 4 all the reviews,made me eager to finish watch original BBJX

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