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C-Drama Review: The Whirlwind Girl Season 1 (2015)

Easily one of my favorite sports TV series in recent years. The Whirlwind Girl season 1 is a light sports drama, and I love the essence of the story, it has a refreshing vibe of youth. You'll also understand the athletes' struggle to thrive in the sports they love.

This series was aired in 2015, but it's still worth of your time to watch the 32 episodes. Its theme is still relevant in today's world. Youth drama never grows old. 😄 

Yang Yang, Bai Jingting, and Wu Lei

Three of the male casts became widely popular after its airing in 2015, and now capturing the attention of the international fans: Yang Yang, Wu Lei, and Bai Jingting.

So many positive points worth highlighting in this drama, and also, good reasons why you should (if you haven't yet) start watching it now. The link where you could watch this drama for free is provided at the bottom of this review.

Hu Bingqing and Yang Yang, the main leads in The Whirlwind Girl season 1

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The Whirlwind Girl, also known as Tornado Girl, is a sports drama, and its narrative centers on Taekwondo athletes and how the discipline of the sports molded their characters and personal growth. The whirlwind in the title refers to the movement of the taekwondo athletes where they move like the wind.

The athletes came from the three Yuan Wu Dao training centers in the An Yang town: Song Bai Hall, Quan Sheng Hall, and Xian Wu Hall. But while they fiercely fought for supremacy, most of the athletes competing maintained the spirit of sportsmanship.

 

It's also worth pointing out that this is the only (in recent years) C-Drama that secured approval from the censor's board to be done on a live broadcast. 

Meaning, the series has already aired on TV, while the filming is ongoing. While this has been the usual trend in television drama in Asia, this is not the case in mainland China.

Due to the tight censorship of films and TV series in China, all dramas must undergo post-production (meaning filming must be thoroughly done) and must pass through censorship before they can secure an airing schedule.

Yang Yang and Wu Lei in The Whirlwind Girl season 1

The Whirlwind Girl was so massively popular in China during its run in 2015 that the production team has decided to have season 2 (which was aired in 2016). 

Plot Summary:

The story revolves around Qi Bai Cao (played by Hu Bingqing), and her journey to make it big in the world of Taekwondo. When she was still a little girl, her parents died from the fire. She was saved and adopted by Qu Xiang Nan (played by Vincent Chao), a world champion in Taekwondo.

Bai Cao grew up under the tutelage of Qu Xiang Nan, a coach in the Quan Sheng Yuan Wudao Hall. He taught her the basic principles of Taekwondo. And Bai Cao spent her childhood attending the training of Yuan Wu Dao, a type of martial arts and the framework of Taekwondo.

Bai Jingting and Hu Bingqing

However, Qu Xiang Nan was accused of doping during his world championship match. He was stripped of his world title, and his reputation as a Taekwondo master was tarnished. 

He became a disgrace to the town of An Yang, where the Yuan Wu Dao martial arts originated and so he was banned from practicing Taekwondo. 

Yang Yang and Wu Lei 

In the present time, Qu Xiang Nan thoroughly becomes an alcoholic and just wastes his days on remorse. His daughter, Guang Ya, who also trains in Taekwondo, turns against him, blaming him for the death of her mother.

However, Bai Cao remains loyal to her master. She is the only one who shows concern to Qu Xiang Nan. And although her training is now in jeopardy, she has no intention to abandon her master.

Hu Bingqing as Bai Cao

But Qu Xiang Nan acknowledges Bai Cao's potential in Taekwondo and her skills might never be developed if she remains at his side. He wants her to grow and continue her training with another master. 

Qu Xiang Nan asks the master of the Song Bai Yuan Wudao Hall, to accept and train Bai Cao. Although she initially hesitated, Bai Cao was forced to accept the arrangement when Xiang Nan quietly moves to another town.

Bai Cao and Fan Xiao Ying have great sisterhood in The Whirlwind Girl
Bai Cao and Fan Xiao Ying

Bai Cao already lives with the family of Fan Xiao Ying (Tang Songyun) so she becomes familiar with the Song Bai Hall, although at first, she meets some bully athletes, she gets on well with them later on.

She meets Ruo Bai (Yang Yang), the senior in the Song Bai sect who takes charge of the daily training of the athletes. He is strict, cold, stiff, and rarely smiles.

Hu Yifeng (Wu Lei), the junior of Ruo Bai and his roommate, is a bubbly teen who likes to poke fun at everyone. He seems lazy but he has a great skill in Taekwondo. Wu Lei's character keeps yawning here haha!

Bai Cao also meets Yu Chuyuan (Bai Jingting), a lonely and secluded guy, but gentle and thoughtful. He has a herbal garden and lives alone at his beautiful cabin surrounded by green plants and blooms in season. Bai Cao secretly likes him.

Bai Jingting as Yu Chuyuan

However, something was later revealed. Yu Chuyuan was once a champion in Taekwondo and a senior in the Song Bai sect, but he left the sports for a personal reason. He also turned over his duties to Ruo Bai.

Bai Cao also meets Fang Ting Hao (Chen Xiang), the flirtatious Taekwondo world champion who is quite boastful about his status and achievement in the world of Taekwondo. But he has his own personal struggle to overcome. 

She has a younger sister who is also a Taekwondo champion, Fang Ting Yi. She likes Yu Chuyuan and hated Bai Cao due to their rivalry.

To support herself and her dreams to become a national champion in Taekwondo, Bai Cao takes part time jobs while attending classes and training. 

She works hard to impress her seniors in the Song Bai sect to be given a chance to compete. She also aims to improve her skills and techniques to rise to the top and qualify for the championship at the national level. Above all, she wants to reclaim the innocence of her childhood mentor, Qu Xiang Nan, and restores his dignity as a Yuan Wu Dao master.

Bai Cao and Ruo Bai

However, along the way, she encounters so many roadblocks and challenges, which made her almost give up on her dreams. But there's Ruo Bai who constantly encourages her to persevere. He also devotes his time honing and polishing her skills and techniques, without expecting something in return.

Bai Cao and Ruo Bai

Main Characters: 

  1. Ruo Bai (played by Yang Yang) - Song Bai Hall
  2. Qi Bai Cao (played by Hu Bingqing) - Quan Sheng Hall and Song Bai Hall
  3. Yu Chuyuan (played by Bai Jingting) - Song Bai Hall
  4. Fang Ting Hao (played by Chen Xiang) - Xian Wu Hall
  5. Hu Yifeng (played by Wu Lei) - Song Bai Hall
  6. Fan Xiao Ying (played by Tan Songyun) - Song Bai Hall
Ruo Bai and Bai Cao

Our Review:

The Whirlwind Girl season 1 is one of the most impressive sports dramas I have ever watched. Not that it has a strong storyline, but I love the way the characters in the drama are presented and developed. And how they possessed those sweet youthful vibes. 

It also has balanced Taekwondo scenes and the human side of the athletes, how their personalities revolved, and how circumstances affected their nature.

It has no exaggerated scenes of hardcore blood sports matches, at the same time no sugary scenes of a youthful romance that makes adults cringe in annoyance. 

I love the characterization of youth in this drama, it was not overplayed and just allowed the characters to enjoy their moments in each scene. It has no irritating subplots also but just focuses on the main plot of the story. 

Hu Bingqing as Qi Bai Cao

However, it has no elaborate world building. The story just revolved around the Yuan Wu Dao sect and the determination of the athletes to improve their skills and qualify in the national level competition. But surprisingly, I was not bored following the scenes.

Perhaps because the executions of humor and fun, sense of adventure and drama, were done in style and not forced. The screenplay allowed the viewers to just enjoy the scenes, which made this series interesting to watch.  

Bai Jingting, Hu Bingqing, and Yang Yang in one scene

There was a little drama in the competition and the sportsmanship aspects of The Whirlwind Girl, however, it was not expanded into depth sequences, other than softening the plot by the bantering of the characters.

But I love the positive impact of the storyline, beautiful production design, and energetic casts which made this drama very fun to watch. Each character has something to offer to the audience. 

Ruo Bai looks strict and cold but he has a kind heart. Fang Ting Hao is a highly-skilled Taekwondo athlete who is a bit pushy and bully, however, he possessed a different level of gentleness. And his concern to help restore the prestige of the Yuan Wu Dao, made him to make peace with his two rivals - Ruo Bai and Yu Chuyuan.

Yu Chuyuan's home is so cool!

I love the landscape of the location of the Song Bai sect, with all those stunning greenery and summery blooms. And I love the atmosphere of the beautiful gardens and home of Yu Chuyuan (Bai Jingting), it offers some spring and summery vibes. 

Bai Cao tends the herbal garden of Chuyuan

It's so good to watch this drama. Everything is so refreshing - from the visuals, the characters, and the cinematography. 

It offers a cheerful vibe of a relaxed life especially with Xiao Ying. She's such a delightful character in the drama, giving us all those bright shades in life. 

I love also the bedroom of Bai Cao and Fan Xiao Ying, the pastel design is so girly and vibrant, straight from the fairytale books.

Tan Songyun as Fan Xiao Ying
Chuyuan visits Bai Cao

I love the brotherhood of Ruo Bai (Yang Yang) and Hu Yifeng (Wu Lei), so fun to watch! They have contrasting personalities but complimented each other perfectly. While Ruo Bai is shy, quiet, and stiff, Yifeng is so full of fun and likes to fool around.
 
Wu Lei and Yang Yang

Wu Lei is perfectly suited to his role as Hu Yifeng - bubbly, full of life, and lively, and I love how he often pokes fun at Ruo Bai. It's so entertaining!

Wu Lei is really effective in building a good rapport with his co-star. The year 2015 was also the year Nirvana in Fire was shown. Wu Lei had also a great brotherhood vibe with Hu Ge in the series.

Yang Yang and Wu Lei

I also love the friendship of Fan Xiao Ying and Bai Cao, it's so cool and inspiring! It makes me think of my friends who among them have the Fan Xiao Ying vibe. This character is just so refreshing - cheerful, warm, thoughtful, extra supportive, and protective. 

Xiao Ying's unconditional support for Bai Cao is so impressive. It will help you realize that having a true best friend in life is an integral part of one's growth and survival. 

Hu Bingqing and Tan Songyun

I love the cool vibe that Fan Xiao Ying magnified in the series. She is so animated and cheerful! Tan Songyun is so sweet and kiddy in this drama. She brings a lot of fun and innocence, and I love the way she takes care of Bai Cao. 

Bai Cao and Fan Xiao Ying

It's so amazing also to note that Tan Songyun was paired with Wu Lei in this drama, and not everyone seemed to notice their age difference - which is nine years (Tan Songyun was born in 1990 while Wu Lei in 1999). But watching them in this drama, they appeared to be just like in the same age bracket.

Tan Songyun and Wu Lei

It's so fun to watch them bickering and arguing on petty things, they're like kiddos who could not get along. It will help you remind of your high school friend whom you can't stand with but eventually becomes your great buddy in later life.

At first, I was confused with the character of Bai Jingting as Yu Chuyuan. He talks less and seems does not want to be surrounded by people. He lives alone in a cool house surrounded by trees and beautiful gardens. He seems very mysterious. Like some bad events have happened in him in the past. 

Bai Jingting as Yu Chuyuan

Later, it was revealed that he was a former senior in the Song Bai sect and the role model of Ruo Bai. He was also a former national champion in Taekwondo and had an intense rivalry with Fang Ting Hao. But a freak accident forced him to give up Taekwondo (you will discover it when you watch the series).

Bai Cao silently falls in love with him (Chuyuan) but he seems tentative with his feelings for Bai Cao because he does not want to distract her in her training. There's also a slow-burn romance between Ruo Bai and Bai Cao. Though he obviously likes her, he suppressed his feelings to let her focus on her training. 

Bai Cao (Hu Bingqing) and Yu Chuyuan (Bai Jingting)

The Whirlwind Girl is a feel-good drama without any annoying antagonists. You could feel the hot rivalry between the three guys - Ruo Bai, Yu Chuyuan and Fang Ting Hao - both in terms of their skills and who is the best, and their love for Bai Cao.

However, their rivalry and the sense of angst were not exaggerated in the drama, It always rebounded on the premise of sportsmanship and being "brothers" in the same sect they are trying to thrive. 

So there was no stressful angles presented in this drama. The scenes, even with the jealousy and the fierce competition sequences, would not give you tension and restlessness. 

Bai Jingting, Wu Lei, Yang Yang

It has a balanced pacing of characters - their personal struggles, defeat, and triumph - and the Taekwondo world. It  helps the viewers' understand the spirit of sportsmanship, the Taekwondo discipline, and its technicalities. At the same time understand the human side of the athletes.

This drama also teaches us what it feels like having surrounded by great people and amazing friends, who will take care of us and help us achieve our dreams. 

Yang Yang, Bai Jingting, Wu Lei

Watch the complete episodes of The Whirlwind Girl Season 1 
in English subtitles for free in YouTube, follow this link

The Season 2

There's a season 2 of The Whirlwind Girl aired in 2016. However, Yang Yang, Hu Bingqing, and Bai Jingting did not return. Only Wu Lei, Tan Songyun, and Chen Xiang, from the original casts, reprised their roles in season 2.

Ji Chang-wook  as Chang An in The Whirlwind Girl season 2

Korean actor, Ji Chang-wook, was the main lead in season 2. He was paired with An Yue Xi who replaced Hu Bingqing as Bai Cao.

An Yue Xi and Ji Chang-wook in The Whirlwind Girl season 2

Thoughts for season 3

At the end of season 1, Ruo Bai suffered from a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. We did not know what happened because it was not tackled in the final scene. 

In the premise of season 2, it seemed the story wanted to tell us that Ruo Bai went somewhere to undergo heart surgery, so Chang An (Ji Chang-wook) was hired to substitute him as the senior in Song Bai.

But what surprised me is the character of Bai Cao. Hu Bingqing did not return for season 2 to reprise her role. She was replaced by An Yue Xi. I find it weird to watch the same character being played by different actresses. It's so unrealistic.

A lot of clamors were heard from the fans of this drama to have season 3 and bring back the original casts: Yang Yang, Wu Lei, Bai Jingting, and Hu Bingqing. 

I would love to watch a season 3 of this drama too with the original casts. I guess Ruo Bai was not really dead, he just needed enough time to recuperate after undergoing heart surgery. Hope he can return for season 3 and get reunited with the original Bai Cao. 

I love watching Bai Jingting being part of this drama again. We haven't watched him fully return to the Taekwondo competition at the end of season 1. And also Wu Lei, he is so grown up now. He can surely add style and fun to the adult version of Hu Yifeng.

Watch the complete episodes of The Whirlwind Girl Season 1 
in English subtitles for free in YouTube, follow this link

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