Chinese Drama Off To A Bad Start in 2024 as Sword and Fairy 4 and 6 Disappoints Domestic Fans

Unlike 2022 and 2023 where big hits, Reset and Meet Yourself, put the Chinese drama industry on the right footing, heading toward the auspicious New Year,  2024 is the exact opposite. 

The year is off to a bad start for Chinese drama as two of its highly anticipated costume fantasy series top-billed by traffic stars are considered by industry standards as monumental flops. 

Sword and Fairy 4 Chinese drama
Ju Jingyi and Chen Zheyuan 

Sword and Fairy 4 starring Ju Jingyi and Chen Zheyuan and Sword and Fairy 6 starring Xu Kai and Esther Yu failed to capture domestic viewers' interest. 

It also did not attract wide discussions in mainland China or land in hot searches, and both did not peak on the popularity index, which surprised industry pundits as investors expected it to be the best year opener for Chinese entertainment due to the star power of the four main leads.

But well, in a highly unpredictable industry such as the drama industry, disappointing outcomes are always constant. Viewers have their own way of judging a drama based on the level of their expectations. 

Sword and Fairy 6 Chinese drama
Xu Kai and Esther Yu 

Sword and Fairy fans have high expectations each time a new live-action adaptation is released. Apart from the fact that the source material, the Legend of Sword and Fairy, is a highly popular RPG among Chinese hippies, two previous adaptations set a very high standard of what a xianxia drama should be - Chinese Paladin 1 in 2005 and Chinese Paladin 3 in 2009. 

So domestic fans expected the latest two adaptations to surpass the record set by Paladin 1 and 3, unfortunately, they did not, and domestic fans are heavily criticizing the rubbish script of the two new Paladins.

Sword and Fairy 4 just ended its broadcast today and without any fanfare, in fact, during the entire broadcast, the two main leads were not seen cooperating in a live promo or any sweep-the-building appearances. 

Sword and Fairy Chinese drama
Sword and Fairy 4 rated low in Douban with just 38,000+ users bothered to rate the drama, and a dominant 1-star rating

Fandoms of Ju Jingyi and Chen Zheyuan traded hate all throughout due to the billing position of the two, no promos were done, no CP to ship, and no online discussions from both camps due to their pride, so what do you expect would be the outcome?

But honestly, I like Chen Zheyuan acting in Sword and Fairy 4. He captures the playfulness and energy of Yun Tianhe and his interpretation of the character is really nice. Jing Tian played by Hu Ge in Chinese Paladin 3 also had the same characteristics and energy as Yun Tianhe so it was not pretty bad. 

Sword and Fairy Chinese drama
Xu Kai and Esther Yu's Sword and Fairy has a dominant 1-star rating in Douban and a poor rating of 5.1

Xu Kai and Esther Yu's version of Sword and Fairy, which is a sequel to Gulinazha and Han Dongjun's Chinese Paladin 5 (2016), also received backlash from domestic fans, with most reviewers in  Douban criticizing the poorly written script, which focuses on the CP romance rather than on the plot development.

After these disastrous outcomes of the two Sword and Fairy adaptations, domestic fans are begging iQIYI and Tencent to stop adapting the succeeding Legend of Sword and Fairy editions if they cannot give justice to the original source.

Related post: Here's Why Sword and Fairy 4 and 6 Bombed Domestically

Related post: Here's How to Understand the Different Sword and Fairy Adaptations

Yang Zi and Fan Chengcheng's romance drama, Love Endures, also barely generates discussion on Weibo and fans have a mixed reaction on the progress of the story. And if you don't check Yang Zi and Fan Chengcheng's Weibo pages, you would not know that this drama is still broadcasting. 

Like a Flowing River Chinese drama
Only Like a Flowing River season 3 earned a high rating in Douban among C-drama releases in January

Of all the Chinese series airing last month, only Like a Flowing River season 3 received good feedback from domestic viewers. It is also the only C-drama that premiered in January 2024 that garnered a high score in Douban.

Like a Flowing River Chinese drama
Wang Kai and Yang Caiyu in Like a Flowing River 3

Like a Flowing River season 3 starred Wang Kai, Yang Shuo, Dong Zijian, and Yang Caiyu, who all reprised their respective roles from seasons 1 and 2. 

They played budding entrepreneurs who took advantage of the economic reforms being rolled out in 1970s China. The drama is a celebration of 40 years of China's open-door policy and follows the transnational cooperation between Donghai Chemical and Luoda Company.

Domestic fans felt the story of Like a Flowing River season 3 is more realistic and worth the time than the poorly written script of the two Sword and Fairy.

Cheng Xingxu drama 2024
Chen Xingxu and Zhang Ruonan's My Boss earned a good rating of 7.0

Chen Xingxu has two modern dramas that premiered in January and both are well-received. Our Interpreter with Victoria Song and My Boss with Zhang Ruonan. 

Cheng Xingxu drama 2024
Our Interpreter starring Chen Xingxu and Victoria Song

Cheng Xingxu drama 2024
Chen Xingxu and Victoria Song in Our Interpreter

Wei Zheming and Sun Qian's 19th Floor is also warmly received domestically. This drama is a thriller/mystery that follows mobile game players, navigating the perils and horror of the building where their end game is heading towards the dreaded 19th-floor.

19th Floor chinese drama

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