Here's Why Dilraba Dilmurat's Legend of Anle Did not Live Up to the Hype

Legend of Anle Dilraba Dilmurat

Prior to its airing in July this year, Legend of Anle, became one of the highly anticipated costume series to air this year for a number of reasons: It was the last costume drama that Dilraba filmed, it was bannered by three liuliang stars: Dilraba, Gong Jun, and Liu Yuning.

It's an S+ project (the highest scale given to dramas starred by Chinese A-list celebrities with a big production budget) with an estimated production cost of 500 million yuan. 

Legend of Anle Dilraba Dilmurat
Dilraba Dilmurat, Gong Jun, and Liu Yuning

A lot of expectations from drama viewers, not just Dilraba's large fan base, that this drama will going to be a big hit. The waiting became more intense when the release date was delayed several times, from July 2022 to October 2022, and to April 2023. 

On July 12, 2023, without advance notice, Youku suddenly dropped Legend of Anle's first episode. But to everyone's dismay, even to a Dilraba fanatic like me, the finished product was not something the audience expected. From special effects, filters, fight scenes, dubbing, makeup, and poor script development, everything seems mediocre. 

While Dilraba Dilmurat and Gong Jun’s visuals were good, viewers were dissatisfied with the excessive camera filters, bad CGIs, poorly executed fight scenes, and stagnant character progress.

Legend of Anle Dilraba Dilmurat

In the popularity index list on all platforms including Weibo, Legend of Anle cannot pull up itself to the top of the chart, consistently lagging behind Yang Zi's Lost You Forever and Cheng Yi's Mysterious Lotus Casebook. 

This poor performance in the popularity index surprised drama fans as Legend of Anle's three main leads have a large traffic volume compared to the three main leads of Mysterious Lotus Casebook. So this only means that the success of the drama never relied on the popularity status of the leads, but always on the quality of the script.

Legend of Anle Dilraba Dilmurat

As a series top-billed by one of China's most influential celebrities with a large fan base in and out of the country, and with an active publicity campaign of its main leads (variety show visibility and other forms of publicities), Legend of Anle was expected to top all popularity index charts during its run, but it was completely suppressed by Mysterious Lotus Casebook whose main leads don't have large fan bases like Dilraba.

Legend of Anle did not recover from its slump even during the airing of its final episode and was even outlasted by another drama on Youku that premiered on August 4, "I am Nobody" top-billed by Peng Yuchang and Neo Hou.

Legend of Anle Dilraba Dilmurat

So what went wrong with Legend of Anle?

There are several reasons pointed out by critics why Legend of Anle performed badly and did not live up to the hype: 

  • The production used excessive filters to the point of making Dilraba and Gong Jun's faces look pale, and also making the background blurry and almost unbelievable. 
  • The computer-generated images are of low quality and seem rushed, and do not justify the production budget spent to produce the drama. 
  • The fight scenes were poorly executed.
  • The story became very predictable and lacked excitement which loses interest
  • The character development seemed stuck up and did not progress
  • Poorly edited
  • The script revised the original concept of the source novel by making Han Ye, the male lead, weak and almost stupid, and tweaking the female lead's character, Ren Anle, a silly woman who endlessly flirts with Han Ye, instead of an opinionated woman.

But the biggest disappointment is about the script development and character building. While Ren Anle’s flirtatious scenes seem fun at first, her silliness and insistence to become a crown princess eventually became annoying.

Most viewers were also offended by Ren Anle's character development, finding it inappropriate for a female lead in the historical drama.

Legend of Anle Dilraba Dilmurat

I also find Dilraba Dilmurat's portrayal of Ren Anle awkward and at some point tentative, pulling an interpretation as if she was just forced to do it.

The character required her to do some slapstick comedy to appear silly and flirty, but well, perhaps it's not Dilraba's territory because obviously, she struggled to compose a natural demeanor of being screwy. But I love her performance when she's in a Di Zi Yuan mode. It's where she acted naturally.

Legend of Anle is a typical revenge drama with the usual court intrigues and vengeful elements. The plot development is also too predictable with nothing extraordinary to look forward to. 

The script didn't set up a cute romance arc that can tickle a viewer's heart. And Crown Prince Han Ye's character lacks the sparkle to get the audience invested.

I'm one of Dilraba Dilmurat's fans who patiently waited for this drama to air, but what a disappointment! After episode 15 I ultimately dropped this series. The plot was too predictable. No development in the script at all in a way that will surprise the viewers. 

The characters were painfully flat. I felt tired of An Le's silly humor. It was no longer funny, it was in fact, irritating. The way she switches her mood to being Di Zi Yuan who came to the palace for revenge is lousy. And even how she would flirt with the Crown Prince, there was really no element of giggles. 

The story seems stuck up and failed to intensity, nothing extraordinary to discover, as the direction of the story is pretty given. And there was nothing cute about the way Ren Anle pesters the Crown Prince to marry her, it was so irksome to watch. And Dilraba seems trying hard to be comical when she's not. 

Slapstick comedy, therefore, is not her thing. It was so painful to watch her every laugh, her every dumb-ass move. 

Okay, I understand that she is taking a dual personality of being a silly, flirtatious, and cunning girl, and at the same time a calculating and vengeful Di Zi Yuan, to make good of her plan of revenge, but the way the script build her frivolous side is so exasperating.

Dilraba's performance as the silly Anle is somewhat forced! It's so painful to watch as she obviously struggled to portray the stupid and ridiculous side of Ren Anle, so much so that when she transitioned to the vengeful Di Zi Yuan she seems disconnected from her own world, which makes it hard to sympathize with her plight. So it totally lacks excitement as the story dragged on.

Legend of Anle Dilraba Dilmurat

Originally, a female-focused story boasting a strong female protagonist, Legend of Anle's essence has allegedly been altered by the watered-down plot. 

In the novel, Ren Anle was an opinionated and career-minded woman with her own ideals and even fought Han Ye for the throne. Yet, the drama adaptation painted a very different Ren Anle: a flirty and silly girl who resorted to all sorts of ridiculous behavior to "court" Han Ye. 

With the barrage of negative reviews and criticism received by the drama, its lead scriptwriter even jumped out and clarified that he had “written only up to episode 11 of the drama” and did not participate in changes to later parts of the post-production. 

This reasoning appeared to backfire more as drama fans pointed out how the storyline was so bad that even its scriptwriters wanted nothing to do with it. 

They added that the lack of a consistent scriptwriter led to the loss of all the original highlights of the female-focused drama, lamenting “scriptwriters can’t even do a decent job of copying!”

As Ren Anle annoyingly flirts with Han Ye, C-netizens complained that she is like a nympho, trying every means to court "Han Ye", actively teasing and kissing, and even "using her body as bait", very far from the source novel of who is Ren Anle is.

Why Dilraba's dramas this year were unsuccessful?

Dilraba Dilmurat has another drama this year that was not received positively in China as revealed by its poor rating during its broadcast, "Prosecution Elite". 

People in the industry believe that the audience's tastes have gradually changed, and it is obvious that the aura of traffic stars is not everything. 

It is obvious that Dilraba wants to transition to serious roles and obviously does not want to be trapped in the idol genre, and intended to gradually separate herself from the ranks of idols. 

But perhaps, her agency did not plan it well? Because they did not give her ground-breaking drama roles that would usher her transition to serious performers, instead, they pulled her down. 

Prosecution Elite and Legend of Anle are the best examples that her agency is not serious about helping her to boost her career and transition to more serious roles.

Currently, Dilraba is filming "Sword and Rose", which is a police investigation drama. Hopefully, this will perform better next year so that she can return to the top trending list once again.

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