Title: 步步惊心 / Bu Bu Jing Xin
English title: Scarlet Heart / Startling by Each Step / Startling Step By Step / Treading On Thin Ice
Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Broadcast network: Hunan TV
The following character descriptions are a combination of wiki and my own outlooks on them:
Liu Shi Shi plays Ma’ertai Ruoxi / Zhang Xiao, a nondescript white-collar worker from the 21st century. After suffering a near-fatal accident, she has an out-of-body experience and travels back in time, becoming stranded in the 18th century for 21 years (1704-1725) in the body of a previous incarnation, Ma’ertai Ruoxi, the daughter of an 18th-century Manchu aristocrat. Despite her modern outlook, she is forced to adapt to live in the 18th century. Throughout the series, she is romantically linked with three of the Kangxi Emperor’s sons: Yinzhen, Yinsi, and Yinti. Ruoxi’s romantic entanglement with the princes is complicated by her knowledge of their future political struggles and feuds. She is initially unaware of a predestination paradox by which her actions would ultimately shape the outcome of history.
Nicky Wu plays 4th Prince, Yinzhen, the fourth prince. He is destined to succeed his father as the Yongzheng Emperor and is Ma’ertai Ruoxi’s true love. Nicky Wu also plays a mysterious 21st century man who meets Zhang Xiao in a museum weeks after she returns to her own time; he is later implied to be a present-day incarnation of Yinzhen. He struggles to maintain a righteous position in the feud for the crown between the princes, and balance between ambition and love. His actions are constantly misunderstood as working against the 8th Prince, hence he is ultimately undermined by 14th Prince and loses his last chance to meet with Ruoxi.
Here we have the love rival, Kevin Cheng as 8th Prince (Yinsi) and Yuan Hong as 13th Prince (Yinxiang), a close friend of Ruoxi and supporter of 4th Prince. These two play large roles throughout the drama as devil and angel for both Ruoxi and 4th Prince.
Yinsi is Ruoxi’s first love interest and Yinzhen’s rival for her affection as well as in politics. His first love was Ruoxi’s sister Ruolan, whom forced into marriage against her wishes by manipulating her father into getting her true love killed. His every action in trying to get Ruolan to love him forces her affections further and further away. However, they move Ruoxi’s heart who he eventually proposes to. He is a man of fickle love, placing his heart in the hand of whoever he fancies at the time, regardless of how well his wife treats him.
From left to right, top to bottom:
Damian Lau as the Kangxi Emperor, the ruler of the Qing Dynasty.
Lin Gengxin as Yinti, the fourteenth prince, Yinzhen’s full brother. He is also in love with Ruoxi. He eventually marries her with an edict bestowed upon him by Emperor Kangxi prior to his death. He is a supporter of 8th Prince.
Han Dong as 9th Prince, Yintang. He supports 8th Prince and is against Ruoxi from the start. He is cunning and will go to any means necessary to achieve his goals. For his betrayal, he is bestowed poison in prison.
Ye Zuxin as 10th Prince, Yin’e. Originally in love with Ruoxi but later forced to marry Mingyu. He has a carefree personality and is easily angered. He is a supporter of 8th Prince.
From left to right, top to bottom:
Annie Liu as Ma’ertai Ruolan, Ruoxi’s older sister and Yinsi’s second wife. She holds no love for her husband and treats him with indifference. She even encourages Ruoxi to accept his proposal if that is what she wants. Her first love met a tragic end during battle and in her heart, she blames 8th Prince, She has a very calm personality and is not interested in palace or household matters, preferring to recite buddhist scripts everyday.
Cristy Guo as Minmin, Prince Suwan-Guwalgiya’s daughter. She develops a crush on Yinxiang and befriends Ruoxi.
Liu Yuxin as Gororo Mingyu. Upon first meeting, she misunderstands Ruoxi for being in love with Yinsi. Although Yinsi does love Ruoxi, Ruoxi only sees him as a brother. As Ruoxi appears to be upset by Minghui’s marriage to Yinsi, people think she is really in love with him. Her frustration however, is more at the situation than the people involved.
Shi Xiaoqun as Gororo Minghui, Yinsi’s wife.
Ye Qing as Yutan, Ruoxi’s best friend.
Guo Zhenni as Lüwu, Yinxiang’s love interest. Through the cunning manipulation of 8th Prince’s supporters, she is forced to an untimely end.
The best scene in the entire drama, in my opinion, is this one:
It’s the moment in the drama where Ruoxi and Yinzhen finally express their care and concern for one another openly.
The official posters for this drama are so beautiful that it actually hurts I can’t post them all up. As an example is the one below:
This is from the scene where Ruoxi and Mingyu first meet and the fiery tempers of both ladies get the better of them. They both end up in the pond in front of all the Princes and make a spectacle out of themselves.
Or even this one:
This one doesn’t actually happen in the drama, but rather in the imagination of Yinzhen. This scene is beautifully carried out in the drama and we can truly see how 4th Prince feels about Ruoxi.
This beautiful poster depicts all the tragic women in 4th Prince’s life. I have no idea why he insists on ‘collecting’ so many women when he doesn’t even treat any of them properly.
Overall, the drama was an okay watch. The production was beautiful with the costume, set and music however, the plot leave a lot to be desired. Ruoxi starts out as a fiery, independent woman but ends up being a victim of love. Instead of a positive character development she becomes weak (not only from illness) but also from her mentality of giving up, on knowing that her actions have caused the death of so many.
Nicky was basically a stone face for the entire drama except for maybe…30minutes? I understand that as 4th Prince he’s meant to be calm and collected, but that’s different from having no emotions at all.
The saving grace of the drama was probably Yuan Hong and that’s a bit sad to say since he’s not even one of the main, main characters.
If you’ve watched this drama, let me know what you think.