Back From The Brink 2023: Here's Why You Should Watch This Chinese Drama

Back from the Brink Chinese drama

So I'm kinda hooked on this latest Chinese fantasy costume drama, Back From the Brink, starring Neo Hou (also known by his Chinese name, Hou Minghao) and Zhou Ye. The title of the source novel has a literal translation in English of Heart Protection

It's still currently airing on Youku and I'm still watching it so this is not a critical review but just a recap of the episodes and some thoughts on the drama. 

Back from the Brink Chinese drama
Neo Hou/Hou Minghao and Zhou Ye in Back From The Brink

What I love about Back From the Brink is the balance script. It's a light-hearted drama bordering romance-comedy, but it showcases all the elements of a fantasy drama: a sense of adventure, a good amount of fight scenes, a dash of mystery, some power-yielding antagonists and monsters, a handsome male lead with something to resolve in his existence, and a cute bubbly female lead who can be so hilarious in some circumstances.

Yan Hui (Zhou Ye) possesses a sweet character that balances the emotionless and cold-hearted Tian Yao (Neo Hou) to make their coupling juicy enough for viewers to get hooked.  

Back From the Brink Chinese drama
Back From The Brink

Yan Hui is also a strong-willed and independent character who never back down from all the challenges that come along her way. Although clumsy at times and only cares for food and money, later she will realize the value of her ability.

I love the way this character is written. Witty and sharp and yet funny and sweet. She pumps positive energy and good laughter in the story. 

Back From the Brink Chinese drama

So you will laugh, you will giggle, you will get excited, and you will be thrilled to discover how far they would go in their quests to uncover the mystery and resolve the entanglements. 

The scenes flow smoothly with the right balance of humor and serious business. The comical scenes are often mixed with action sequences so you won't be left hanging why on earth do they make you laugh when there are more serious things that matter.

Back From the Brink Chinese drama
Zhou Ye as Yan Hui and Neo Hou as Tian Yao

I love how Tian Yao and Yan Hui's connection is woven, and why they must kiss, hug, or fall in love. It's not being forced or just happened out of the blue, unlike other dramas meant to tickle viewers, in Back From the Brink, the scenes are necessary to establish the premise of Tian Yao's mission and how the series of events unfolded in that direction.

It is a plot-driven story and the background of the two characters is well-presented so much so that the viewers wouldn't wonder why the succeeding sequences needed to happen. 

Back From the Brink Chinese drama
Tian Yao and Yan Hui

This is one of the most coherent plots in a fantasy drama I have watched so far. The flow is so easy to understand because the premise is coherently presented and in a very light telling of events. 

Even the most naive viewers can easily grasp the sequences because the idea of the story has been well-established and presented in the opening scenes. 

Back From the Brink Chinese drama

No exaggerated telling of events or weave of complications in every scene. It's just a simple storytelling, light-hearted and smooth making this drama a highly entertaining fantasy series to watch. A sweet treat to all romantic xianxia drama aficionados who are tired of complicated rivalry and antagonism in a drama. 


Back From the Brink tells the story of Tian Yao (Neo Hou), an incarnation of a centuries-old dragon demon who was once betrayed and killed by the woman he dearly loved, Suying (Yang Rong), on their wedding day. His heartbroken spirit, however, escaped. 

Back From the Brink Chinese drama
Tian Yao and Yan Hui in one of their adventures

Now reborn in the mortal world in the form of a human, Tian Yao hopes to regain his power by finding his bones and the Heart Protecting Scale that gives him a strong Spiritual power. 

But he vows to never fall in love again. However, in his quest to find ways how to recover his scattered remains and his power-yielding Heart Protecting Scale, he encounters Yan Hui (Zhou Ye), a bubbly young Taoist disciple who becomes a vagabond after she was expelled from her sect. 

Back From the Brink Chinese drama
Yan Hui and Tian Xiao

Tian Yao later realizes she possesses his Heart Protecting Scale that he threw off twenty years ago after he was killed by Suying. Now, Tian Yao believes Yan Hui can help him restores his power and recovers his remains through his heart-protecting scale inside her body.

Episode recaps

Back From the Brink opens up with a fight scene and a heartbreaking betrayal. Tian Yao, a demon dragon of Luochuan who falls in love with Suying, the leader of the Guanghan sect, wed his beloved only to be betrayed and killed.

There's nothing more painful in the world than being betrayed by your beloved so you could feel how devastating the event was to Tian Yao which sets the premise of revenge in the story. 

Back From the Brink Chinese drama
Riley Wang

As Suying strips him of his dragon scales, Tian Yao rips his Heart Protecting Scale, which Suying desperately wanted to save her true love, and throws it off so that she couldn't get it. 

Tian Yao's Heart Protecting Scale falls to earth, and into the child floating in the river. Suying then scattered Tian Yao's remains in every direction of the earth and sealed them to eternity.

Back From the Brink Chinese drama

Meanwhile, the child is Yan Hui who was born with a congenital heart. Her mother thought that the river can cure Yan Hui's weak heart so she puts her in a little basket and released her into the river.

Yan Hui grows up in the street and becomes homeless until one day she is rescued by an immortal from the Chenxing Mountain. Yan Hui grows up in the mountain and becomes a Taoist disciple.

But one day, she suddenly releases her exploding power when chaos erupted in the disciple's hall of the Chenxing Mountain causing trouble in their sect. 

Her "master" decided to expel her from the mountain. But before he left, the master spells a powerful seal in Yan Hui's heart to keep the Heart Protecting Scale safe. It also means protecting Yan Hui as she now lives on her own.

Without it, she might not be able to survive and cannot fight her enemies. She becomes a vagabond once more in search of riches and forever home.

On the other hand, Tian Yao, who was reborn into a human, assumes the identity of Doofus Fu who lives in the Tongluo Village, raised by an old woman who has health and vision problems.

One day he roams in the Bazaar at the foot of the Chenxing Mountain and easily identifies Yan Hui as the person who carries his Heart Protecting Scale. He starts tracing her.

Back From the Brink Chinese drama

Yan Hui, desperate to earn money to survive in the street, participated in a Spirit Bounty, chasing a century-old snake spirit who stole the flaming orb. She needs to capture the snake spirit and retrieve the flaming orb.

Tian Yao then catches Yan Hui only to find that he cannot take off his Heart Protecting Scale from her due to the powerful seal spelled by Yan Hui's master. So he needs to take her as his captive and pretend to be nice to her to lure her into his trap.

Later Tian Yao reveals his true identity to Yan Hui and his Heart Protecting Scale in her body. She agrees to help him recover his remains but each time Tian Yao goes on a quest, he needed Yan Hui's blood in her heart to give him power.

Back From The Brink Chinese drama
Taiwanese-Canadian actor/singer, Riley Wang, as Bai Xiaosheng 

First impression:

It's a fantasy drama written in a simple and light-hearted telling of events. The sequences are easy to follow and understand.

You will easily get the idea why Spirits and Humans are in trouble and why they needed to fight again. You will also understand Tian Yao's quest to recover his lost power and why he doesn't want to fall in love again.

And although this is a romance drama, the writer didn't force things to easily happen between Tian Yao and Yan Hui. And why their romance shouldn't develop so fast.

But what I really appreciate about this drama is the amount of humor they exhibited in every scene. Yan Hui provides the humor side to balance the stoic character of Tian Yao, pumping sweetness to the story.

Riley Wang Back From the Brink
Riley Wang in Back From The Brink 

Then there's the character, Bai Xiaosheng (Riley Wang) who is so mysterious. He possesses a dark spirit but seems a positive character because he brings good vibes. He gives us a cute gremlin matchmaker energy. 

Tian Yao's personality is emotionless, stoic, and cold. He has a serious mission to make himself whole again from the broken pieces caused by betrayal and deception.

Neo Hou Back From the Brink

Neo Hou portrays his character well, interpreting the role of a devastated Spirit convincingly. His callous projection and cold demeanor say a lot about his character, a once powerful creature who lost everything to love that betrayed him. It's easy to understand why he is so helpless to cultivate himself as the Spirit dragon and fight his strong enemies. 

The portrayal of Neo Hou justifies the description of his character as a disgruntled demon dragon in the form of a human, eager to recover his lost power.

Zhou Ye Back From the Brink
Zhou Ye as Yan Hui in Back From the Brink

While Zhou Ye portrays convincingly the character of Yan Hui who is so sweet and carefree and seems very naive in everything. 

In the story, she is presented as a girl who seems doesn't care about the world other than eat and survive. But along the way she learns wisdom. 

She also slowly realizes her responsibility and how to care for the people she loves as she slowly develops feeling for Tian Yao.

Back From The Brink Chinese drama

Their romance is slow-burn, which is understandable given the fact that Tian Yao had a devastating past, his vow never to fall in love again due to the deep wounds left by his first love and the weight of his mission to recover what is lost. 

Yan Hui is a typical woman who easily recognizes emotions but needs to withhold them due to the current situation between her and Tian Yao. I also love their bickering! It's so cute and sweet, adding life to the story.

But despite the idea of a slow-burn romance, the story still knows how to make us giggle with the sweet interaction between Tian Yao and Yan Hui. It's so filled with heart candies and I love it! It's showing us the simplicity of life and the good vibes of fresh love 😄

And then there's Bai Xiaosheng who is sooo funny and handsome 🤣 He is a kind of a shipper with power we all want to see in a xianxia drama! 

I personally love these kinds of characters: the boy is handsome, cold and serious but protective while the girl is pretty, bubbly and humourous but strong and courageous. Then there's an element of love slowly developing between them. It added flavor to the rom-com slash fantasy story. 

However, there are two questions presented in the drama that hopefully be clearly answered: Will Tian Yao break his promise of not falling in love ever again? Will he take his heart protecting scale from Yan Hui which is the only way to keep her alive due to her congenital heart disease? Will Yan Hui still see her mother again? 

So here's why you should watch this drama currently streaming on Youku:

  • It's a simple storytelling of events in the fantasy world about betrayal, deception, cruelty, revenge, sweet love, and power.
  • A colorful adventure of two beautiful couple desperate to crash the powerful enemies and recover the lost dignity of Tian Yao. 
  • You will enjoy the humor and the sweet rapport between Neo Hou and Zhou Ye. 
  • All the elements of mystery, adventures, and fight sequences you often see in a fantasy costume drama are exhibited. 
  • Two good-looking main leads who show us that love can't be rushed. It slowly develops out of the situation without being forced.
  • Coherent plot and the background of the leads has been clearly explained in the opening scenes.

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