Chinese Drama Review

“Arsenal Military Academy” (Chinese Drama) Review

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“Arsenal Military Academy” is a 2019 Chinese drama set during the Xinhai revolution in 1911.

Starring:
  • Bai Lu as Xie Xiang
  • Xu Kai as Gu Yanzhen
  • Li Cheng-Bin as Shen Junshan
  • Wu Jia-Yi as Qu Manting

Our story starts here

The Arsenal Military Academy has just reopened their doors with the purpose to train officers and many patriotic young men from all over the country have enlisted.

Entering a Dream

Xie Xang always looked up to her big brother Xie Liangchen and the two shared a close bond.

After his death she is left feeling devastated and alone. She decides to leave Beijing and head towards Shunyuan to fulfill her deceased brother’s dream to enroll into the Arsenal Military Academy.

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Taking on his name and disguising herself as a man, she cheats her way through the physical examination and thus manages to become part of the new group of young men accepted into the Academy.

Bai Lu as Xie Xang in Arsenal Military Academy

Xie Xang’s only confidant is her childhood friend Xiajun, who is not sure as to what to think of her plan just yet. Xiajun is attending an all-girls university. The same university Xie Xiang’s parents think she is attending after moving to Shunyuan.

Xiajun in Arsenal Military Academy
“Are you really sure about this?”

After arriving at the Academy, Xie Xang quickly realizes that keeping up with her new classmates is going to be much harder than anticipated.

To her dismay, she finds out the roommate appointed to her is none other than the infamous Gu Yanzhen. A fellow she crossed paths with just the day before and did not have a good impression of. 

Poison

Life has taught Gu Yanzhen one thing: His family connections will always get him out of any mess he creates for himself.

Having arrived in town only a couple of days before, Gu Yanzhen feels the need to stir up some trouble again. This leads to an arrest of himself and the innocent Xie Liangchen.

Xu Kai as Gu Yanzhen in Arsenal Military Academy
“Hello everyone, I’m Gu Yanzhen.”

Gu Yanzhen’s father, after hearing about the incident, decides that he has had enough. He enlists his son into the Military Academy in hopes that he will finally learn some discipline and stop bringing shame upon the Gu family name. But first, of course, he sends his men to get him out of prison.

With his playful yet arrogant demeanor, Gu Yanzhen falls into bad graces with the head instructor without missing a beat. It doesn’t take long for him to realize, things at the academy run different from what he is used to. The instructors don’t care about anyone’s background but instead treat everyone equally.

Soldiers assembled in chinese drama "Arsenal Military Academy"
“From now on, whoever dares mention their old man’s power with me again, don’t expect me to go easy on you!”

What a nice surprise though, finding out his new roommate is that little fellow he encountered a day before. This certainly should make his stay at the academy more entertaining, since he very much enjoys teasing him.

Despite their constant quarrelling, Gu Yanzhen looks out for Xie Liangchen.

Raging Fire

Shen Junshan decided to give up his medicine studies in order to join the academy. His family is widely known in the business world, as well as in the political circle.

Since his father retired, his older brother started handling most of the family’s affairs. Although some may question the way in which he handles them.

Not crazy about social events, Shen Junshan is all too happy to leave the business affairs to his brother.

Despite his affluential background, Shen Junshan doesn’t look down on others and is always ready to stand up for those weaker than him.

His very driven nature makes him one of the best of his class. He takes pride in his accomplishments and seems to possess all the qualities of a good soldier.

Li Cheng-Bin as Shen Junshan in "Arsenal Military Academy"

Soldier

Upon entering the academy, Xie Xang’s straightforward personality immediately gains her a handful of friends, as well as a couple of enemies.

Keeping up with her comrades and hiding her real identity is a hard-enough task already. In addition, her roommate has become much too interested in her as of late, which complicates things further.

News have been spreading of a new mysterious leader taking over the Japanese Chamber of Commerce. Xie Xang can’t help but suspect Shen Junshan’s old schoolfriend. Said individual just came into town and seems to somehow be connected with the Japanese.

As the attacks from the Japanese keep increasing, the academy is called upon to send reinforcements. With the future of the country in the balance and their lives at stake, this group of young “men” will have to look past their differences and unite as a team against the enemy.

Author’s Note

First of all, if you haven’t watched it yet what are you still doing here? Go ahead and watch it. It’s a must.

*Beware! Might contain spoilers and fan ramblings*

Arsenal Military Academy was already kind of on my watchlist. The story seemed very interesting to me. I was actually watching “The World owes me a First Love” aka “Lucky’s First Love” at the time. After finding out that the main actress was the same, my mind was set.

This is my third Chinese drama and I am quite honestly obsessed with it. It has now been a month that I finished it and I am still not over it.  I loved the characters. Every single one of them. They were all so well written and wonderfully executed.

Bai Lu and Xu Kai

Bai Lu

did hands down the best job ever in portraying a guy. All the way from her voice to the mannerisms. She even actually cut her hair for the role, instead of opting for a wig or a shaggy haircut that is easy to grow out later. No, she full on cut her hair! As someone who prefers to wear her hair short, I admire that big time. She has set the standards high. 

Xu Kai

played the most likeable jerk there ever was ㅋㅋㅋ. Gu Yanzhen’s character development is one of the best. He became a man that took responsibility for his actions but never completely lost his playful side.

Bai Lu’s and Xu Kai’s chemistry was great. They are one of those drama couples you could watch in 10 more dramas together and you’d still be begging for more.

Another Beloved Villain

I admire the female villain in this Drama. Jin Xiarong displays an innocent face for everyone to see but actually hides a dark character underneath. Gao Yu-Er did an awesome job portraying this two-faced personality. Quite honestly the first time she came onto the screen I was like.¨Oh, a nice little damsel in distress.¨ But ooh boy was I wrong. To use the Korean words, – as I’m not acquainted much with the Chinese terms yet – I would just like to say: “Daebak Sakeon!!!” **Clapping enthusiastically**

Tango under the Moonlight

The OST was all around great from start to finish. Fun fact: Except the Intro song, all the songs were sung by the cast members, making the Soundtrack all the more meaningful.

Moving on to the next part I liked about this drama. I know what you’re thinking. Will she ever stop? But I promise, this is the last point I’m making. COSTUMES!!!

I LOVED the costumes! I love how they gave each character their own style and stuck with it ’til the end.

Tailored suits and dresses for the more privileged ones, simple designs for the middle class, and patched up clothes for the underprivileged. As some of the latter made more money, this became apparent in their attire which started to resemble the middle-class designs.

I just so appreciated all the detail they put into the costumes. If I had to pick a favourite wardrobe I would go with Qu Manting’s.

Everything she wore, including the accessories, accentuated her beautiful and chaotic personality perfectly.

Wu Jia-Yi as Qu Manting in "Arsenal Military Academy"

Well I’ll stop my ramblings here before I go too far…

Until the next one!

-R-

Wu Jia-Yi as Qu Manting

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