Thoughts on Nothing But You and Wu Lei's Progress in Dramas

Nothing But You 2023 drama review

Just finished watching Nothing But You, a 2023 sports romance drama that starred Wu Lei and Zhou Yutong. And to be very honest, this could just be marketed as a sports-life drama rather than a "romance drama". 

As much as I love Wu Lei and his acting skills, and forcing myself to finish watching this drama in between boredom, there's nothing really extraordinary in the story. It talks about life's struggles and then growth of the characters which are common topics in the modern dramas. 

Nothing But You 2023 Chinese drama review
Wu Lei and Zhou Yutong in Nothing But You

I couldn't also sympathize with the romance of Song Sanchuan and Liang You'An. Other than just giving us close friends vibes, nothing in their connection that could pull all the stars in heaven to spark. Couldn't feel any giggle factor at all. 

Wu Lei and Zhou Yutong lacked magic in their partnership to leave a strong impression of an on-screen coupling. So Liang You'An and Song Sanchuan's romance is a flat, forgettable story. 

Okay, the 10-year-age gap between two characters (where the girl is older and the boy is younger) is a fine concept in the drama. I don't have problems with this type of theme, I appreciated it. 

In fact, I've watched similar dramas that followed this type of theme and I loved it: Falling Into You (2022) with Wang An Yu and Jin Chen, Find Yourself (2020) with Victoria Song and Song Weilong, among others.

But in Nothing But You, it feels like Wu Lei and Zhou Yutong are traversing on a different path of life with respect to sweet rapport and on-screen chemistry.

In the story, Wu Lei's character is 10 years younger than Zhou Yutong's character but in reality she is just five older than him. But even this age-gap thing is not really a big factor in on-screen coupling. 

Nothing But You 2023 drama review
Wu Lei and Zhou Yutong promoting their drama

Wu Lei has been known to easily build up strong chemistry with his female lead. May it be older or younger than him. He always looked mature beyond his age. 

He easily builds up a sweet connection with whoever he is paired with. For example, I love his chemistry with Dilraba Dilmurat in The Long Ballad (2021), Seven Tan in Whirlwind Girl (2015 and 2016), Mao Xiahui in Our Times (2021), and Lareina Song in Guardian of the Ancient Oath (2020).

But with Zhou Yutong in Nothing But You, there was just nothing there. He is too youthful and boyish for the more mature appearance of Zhou Yutong. Their visuals are super mismatched.

And why I say this that they totally lacked chemistry in my point of view? Well, because I couldn't feel any spark in their characters as lovers. And each time they get near, I better sleep than watch them getting cozy.

There's no magnetic pull in them whatsoever, unlike with Ashile Sun and Li Changge in The Long Ballad (even though they didn't have many sweet moments there) or Wang An Yu and Jin Chen in Falling Into You. 

Nothing But You 2023 drama review

Perhaps because the script failed to establish a sizzling or intimate insinuation between Song Sanchuan and Liang You An. Their interaction was totally flat and uninteresting. 

When it comes to the age gap thing where women are relatively older than men, I always feel that Wu Lei is better off with Dilraba Dilmurat and Tan Songyun. They are so far his best drama partners where the spark of love can light up the whole street, even without kissing and bed scenes. 

As an avid fan of Wu Lei for a long time (I first saw him as Fei Liu in Nirvana in Fire) I saw his growth on the small and big screen (I watched two of his movies) and he is such an amazing actor with excellent skills in acting especially in historical series.

But I wanted to see him act in a modern romance. He has not done this genre on a small screen where romance is the center of the story. So Nothing But You feels like testing the water for him. '

Nothing But You Chinese drama review

Well, perhaps it's a wrong script for his personality or a mismatched partner, but honestly, Nothing But You is so painfully boring and sounds like a mediocre drama for a guy who has terrific acting skills and screen presence. 

Still, I finished watching it despite fighting off my drowsiness just to see the progress of Wu Lei's character 😂Anyway, here's my honest review of Nothing But You. 

Plot Summary:

Song San Chuan (Wu Lei) is a badminton player who had a painful past. His mother left him when he was 15 and he grew up under the care of his loving stepfather who runs a wig shop. After his mother left, he experienced trauma and became unstable in his matches.

Except his stepfather, An Cong, who constantly pushed him to do good, Song Sanchuan's badminton team mates and coach began to lose interest in him and he became the center of bullying of some of his team mates.

Wu Lei as Song Sanchuan

Song Sanchuan's life rolled into loneliness and he lost self-confidence. He also could not see any reason to nurture his love for badminton and he planned to retire from the sports.

Zhou Yutong as Liang You An

Liang You An (Zhou YuTong) is a professional woman and worked as an executive assistant to the Marketing Director of Young Space, a sports goods company. At 32 years old she felt being "trapped" in her work and wanted to move to a different division of the company to progress in her career. But her boss just would not allow her.

One day, the brand spokesperson they hired, Jin Yi (Gao Ming Chen), who is Song Sanchuan's bully badminton teammate, fabricated a lie in his injury after losing to Song Sanchuan during their exhibition game, an incident that led to Liang You'An's admission to the company's top executives on her poor judgment in identifying talented sports players. 

Her boss felt humiliated that he gave her permission to resign on the spot. Nonetheless, her former boss, who saw leadership potential in her, asked her to be the manager of the professional Tennis club, a subsidiary of Young Space. She later accepted.

Song Sanchuan, after moments of contemplation, switched to tennis and became a professional tennis player after Liang You An convinced him to try the sports. The circumstances stabilized their closeness even more. 

Drawing inspiration from Liang You An to pursue his original passion for tennis, Song Sanchuan eventually found a profession that brings out the best in him. And eventually found the personal redemption he needed.

My Review:

Song Sanchuan and Liang You An first met while she handled the sports event of Young Space, and  where he participated. Nothing uneventful on the first meeting.

But you could see the idea being insinuated on the first meeting scene that the two are instantly drawn to each other's presence. 

So later, Song Sanchuan went back to Liang You An to clarify the damaged wig rented from his stepfather's shop. This element in bringing the two characters' affection together is somewhat forced and very weak. The writers could have concocted something else to capture viewers' fascination.

The episodes are sloooooow pacing with too many fillers! The whole time I was watching this drama I constantly felt drowsy and at times, fell asleep. 

There are plenty of mundane, boring scenes. And there are conversation episodes that take too long to finish, which added to the boredom.

I could not get sympathize with the romancing element in this drama between the two main characters. They appeared more like a kind female teacher guiding and inspiring her male student to get better in life, pushing him to be the best version of himself, rather than a lover supporting her boyfriend.

I don't know what's missing in Zhou Yutong. Her acting is painfully flat and boring. Maybe it's about her styling in the drama? There's nothing glamorous in her appeal even if she dressed in a corporate attire. 

Nothing But You Chinese drama review
Zhou Yutong in Nothing But You 

Maybe it's about the styling of her hair or the outfits that simply did not compliment her figure. So she appeared more like a guidance counselor to Song Sanchuan rather than a sweetheart. Have mercy!

So each episode where Song Sanchuan and Liang You An get near or have a sweet moment together, I cringed in repugnance instead of giggling. Because, you know, there's no magic, no spark in their rapport. 

I could not taste any fruity candy each time they get near or had special moments together. I would rather see Song Sanchuan with his stepfather talking about life or see the pretty face and beautiful expression of Jiang Pei Yao, who played the role of Lou Nian, rather than the two main characters.

It could be better if Jiang Pei Yao was the female lead! I first love her in You Are My Hero, she's a beautiful actress and has a set of expressive eyes just like Wu Lei.

In Nothing But You, she excelled in her role as a Nutritionist who had a marital problem and who acted as Lian You An's emotional support. She's so good at transforming a mundane scene into a lively one because of her bubbly personality and expressive eyes. It would have been nice if she portrayed the role of Liang You An.

Nothing But You Chinese drama review
Zhou Yutong 

Positive points

But I recognized so many positive points in this drama. Nothing But You basically is a character-driven rather than a plot-driven drama. It tells the story of personal struggle, figuring out what's best in life, and finding one's passion, and eventually growth and personal redemption. 

It showcases a situation where people must decide which path to take to discover one's potential. It's about making big decisions in life, it's about meeting a person who could understand and support you during trying times, and who could pull you up from the pit of tribulations.  

It's about growth both in the personal and professional level. It is about nurturing one's dream and finding ways to fulfill it even in the most challenging situation. 

That someway somehow we will meet someone who will help us rise above the tides of struggles and miseries, encouraging us to get on with life. It's about healing and finding our own niche in this world.

I love the deep dialogue in this drama, the maturity of emotions, and the support of the family. I also love the transformation of Song Sanchuan from an uninspired, lonely youth to the person he later became.

I love the fact that this drama is a character-driven plot where we saw the evolution and growth of the characters. It offers wisdom and life lessons that in every struggle, there's an opportunity to improve. That no matter what happens. life will get better.

Nothing But You Chinese drama review

I don't like the on-screen coupling of Wu Lei and Zhou Yutong here. They lacked spark, chemistry, and their coupling failed to take off. They are super mismatch in screen appearance. 

Their sweet moments failed to deliver and I was not convinced enough that Song San Chuan and Liang Yuan can make beautiful music together. They rather remain as friends. 

But I love how they evolved and how the dialogues have been written. The only takeaway I could think about their romance is the growth of Wu Lei and Zhou Yutong's characters. Their relationship helped them evolved and grow as individuals. They helped each other to be the better version of themselves. 

Song Sanchuan eventually found healing from his personal struggle and trauma and able to grow emotionally, setting his life towards the right direction. 

Nothing But You Chinese drama review

I also love his stepfather, An Cong (played by Tong Su). He is supportive and protective to Song Sanchuan. He raised him alone after Sanchuan's mother left. His love and care for his stepson added warm in the drama. 

Asking if this is highly recommended to watch? If you are a fan of sports with romance, and growth of characters in the drama, this is a good watch. But I don't think it is worth to re-watch. There are scenes that are draggy and boring.

Seven Tan
Jiang Pei Yao and Tan Songyun could have played the role of Liang You An. Their visuals are a good match of Wu Lei despite them being older than him

Liang You An could have been played by Tan Songyun or Jiang Pei Yao. Tan Songyun's chemistry with Wu Lei has been well established. And while watching Jiang Pei Yao in the supporting role in this drama, she possesses personality and elements that could build a sweet rapport with Wu Lei's Song Sanchuan.

My Rating for this drama:

1. Story: 7.0
2. Acting: 7.0 
3. Re-watch: 3.0

Some thoughts on Wu Lei's progress in the drama

Leo Wu is one of the most impressive young actors from China today. He is ahead of his generation, and despite the age of 23, he is so emotionally and mentally mature and can carry whatever role is given to him.

After appearing in several successful dramas and reaping numerous awards I thought it's high time for Leo to transition into more mature roles and big-budgeted films and dramas, and becomes China's most sought-after male actor.

However, after playing the role of Ashile Sun in The Long Ballad, which was his first leading mature role in the small screen, and so far his iconic role with strong recall, Wu Lei has yet to barge into big dramas with memorable characters, especially in the modern genre. 

Nothing But You Chinese drama review
Wu Lei as Song Sanchuan 

I felt that his excellent acting talent has been wasted in playing uninteresting and forgettable roles like Song Sanchuan. In fact, his role as Xiao Chuang in Our Times (2021) was more remarkable.

Hoping Wu Lei will choose a good script carefully next time because he is such a talented actor and it's so disappointing to see him play mediocre roles in mundane dramas that have no recall at all.

As his fan, I would want to see him excel in the drama he is in, and play a role that could push him up above his ranks. 

He is very good in costume drama but of course, we want to see him in a variety of genres such as modern dramas. He has yet to play a remarkable role in a modern drama. And we're waiting for that big break. 

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