A Dream of Splendor: The Much Anticipated Drama Comeback of Liu Yifei

A Dream of Splendor drama review

A Dream of Splendor is a highly anticipated drama comeback of Chinese actress, Liu Yifei or Crystal Liu, on television. The last time she did a drama series was in 2006 via The Return of  Condor Heroes, playing the female lead role of Xiaolongnü

In a strange twist of fate, her male lead, Chen Xiao, also did the 2014 version of The Romance of Condor Heroes, playing the lead role of Yang Guo. Actor Wu Lei played the young version of Yang Gu. 

Liu Yifei in A Dream of Splendor
Liu Yifei in A Dream of Splendor

Chen Xiao's female lead was Michelle Chen, playing the role of Xiaolongnü. The two fell in love while filming the series and eventually got married in 2016. 

Liu Yifei was seen in 2020 Hollywood film Mulan, Walt Disney's live adaptation of the popular animated movie of the same title.

Liu Yifei in A Dream of Splendor
Liu Yifei as a Tea Artisan in A Dream of Splendor

A Dream of Splendor is a female empowerment type of C-Drama but not as hard as those mistress-theme series that pump stress and distress. 

This is a feel-good historical romance drama that centers on the struggle of three women and their journey to rise above the tribulations they suffer, and find redemption from the discrimination of men. 

The three women in the story:

Crystal Liu/Liu Yifei played Zhao Pan’er who owns and manages a rural tea shop in Qiantang county. She is a former courtesan and has a unique skill in making tea. 

A Dream of Splendor drama review
Tea house of Zhao Pan'er
A Dream of Splendor drama review

She has a boyfriend, Ouyang Xu, portrayed by Xu Hai Qiao, who goes to the capital to take an imperial examination. He leaves a promise to marry her once he passes the examination. 

But he never did and he abandoned her thoroughly to marry a woman of high birth, which leaves Zhao Pan'er broken hearted and wants to find the answer why he dumped her.

Zhao Pan'er has two best friends. Sun San Niang (played by Liu Yan), an expert in baking tea cakes. She helps Pan'er runs her teahouse but she has a cheating husband who drives her to commit suicide. Zhao Pan'er saves her.

A Dream of Splendor drama review
Liu Yifei, Lin Yun, and Liu Yan 

While Song Yin Zhang (portrayed by Lin Yun) is a gifted Pipa musician and a fellow former courtesan of Pan'er. She considered Pan'er her older sister. Yin Zhang has a cheating partner who makes her believe he is rich, and later forces her to sign a divorce paper.

A Dream of Splendor drama review
Liu Yifei, Lin Yin, and Liu Yan in A Dream of Splendor

The three women work to take control of their lives and rebound from the discrimination and abuses they have experienced against men.

Plot Summary

The series begins with a report from the imperial court that a damaging portrait of the empress has gone missing and Gu Qian Fan (Chen Xiao), the commander of an elite military unit called "Living Devil", is dispatched to find the picture before someone else can take it.

A Dream of Splendor drama review
Liu Yifei and Chen Xiao in A Dream of Splendor

Devising plans on how to find and retrieve the missing portrait, Gu Qian Fan and some of her comrades decided to drop by at a teahouse near the lake to have a tea break. The tea house is owned by Zhao Pan'er.

Chaos erupts when thugs enter the teahouse and attack everyone but Pan'er and San Niang join forces to fight the thugs while Qian Fan's group just look on to camouflage their identity. 

Later, Yin Zhang approaches Pan'er to ask for her approval for marriage but Pan'er refused for the reason that she did not know the background of the guy. However, Yin Zhang and her boyfriend eloped and married.

A Dream of Splendor
Zhao Pan'er at her tea house serving the group of Gu Qian Fan

Pan'er goes to the house of Yang Zhiyuan, the Transport Assistant, to ask for help to trace Yin Zhang's location. However, the same night that Qian Fan's group raids the house of Zhiyuan to recover the painting.

Another group slips through the night and killed Zhiyuan and burned his house. Pan'er and Qian Fan both escape but Qian Fan was implicated as the perpetrator of the crime.

Pan'er later knows her fiance dumps her to marry another woman but she needs to meet him first to find out why he abandoned her.

Meanwhile, Qian Fan is hiding because he has been framed on Zhiyuan murder and burning of the house. He meets Zhao Pan'er and together, escape the place aboard a boat.

A Dream of Splendor drama review
Liu Yifei and Chen Xiao in A Dream of Splendor

While on the boat, she discovers San Niang commits suicide by jumping off the river. Qian Fan rescues her out of the river, and Pan'er nourishes her back to health.

Her journey to the Eastern Capital to stop the wedding of Ouyang Xu has been derailed by circumstances that she cannot just be ignored. 

Liu Yifei in A Dream of Splendor

Add to her predicament is the news that Yin Zhang is physically abused by her husband and she needs to rescue her.

Later on, the three women meet and together, move to the Eastern Capital, relying on each other's strength, and wit. They open a tea house with the purpose of expanding it to a large restaurant.

While harboring hatred for Ouyang Xu, Zhao Pan Er slowly develops feelings toward the fearsome commander, Gu Qian Fan.

A Dream of Splendor review

Gu Qian Fan, nicknamed "Living Devil", has been betrayed by the people he swears allegiance. He also must find out the truth behind a scheme involving the imperial court to clear his name. 

He and Zhao Pan Er do not see each other as potential lovers at first but later on, as they know each other, he slowly falls for her. 


Though A Dream of Splendor is a much-anticipated comeback drama series of Liu Yifei, and recorded high viewership, with 200 million views in just 15 hours during its opening episode, it ended with a mixed review.

A Dream of Splendor review

Other drama fans complained about the plot holes and bad scriptwriting, and that Liu Yifei's acting was not convincing enough.

But I find it a good drama to watch. I love the story because there's a lot of thrill in every episode. The drama opened with an explosive episode 1 where a mystery of a missing portrait of an empress laid down a haunt that would complicate the journey of the male lead.

A Dream of Splendor drama review

Zhao Pan'er is also a well-developed character, a smart and kind woman who does not want to leave behind her two friends in distress. 

Her willingness to offer help to them and foster their close bond makes you realize that in life, we need friends who are willing to go an extra mile to help us, especially during dark hours.

I love the chemistry also between Liu Yifei and Chen Xiao. It's just so cute to watch them having flirty moments, and the way their relationship develops in the story. 

Well, Chen Xiao is really a great actor and he is so effective in a historical drama, so his role in A Dream of Splendor suited him best.

Liu Yifei as Zhao Pan'er
Chen Xiao as Gu Qian Fan

I also love the scenery of the Tea House of Zhano Pan'er in Qiantang county because it's so relaxing and tranquil. A perfect place to have an afternoon tea. It suits best for people who love the countryside setting in the drama.

The opening theme song is also great. I love the melody and the vibe it gives, it adds more elements of romance in the drama. It's so smooth to hear.

Overall, A Dream of Splendor did not overly disappoint. It's one of the best costume drama shown this year from China. Although it's not a hardcore wuxia that I was expecting, it's good enough to spend the weekend binge-watching the series.

Post a Comment