Untouchable Lovers (2018) Costume C-Drama: Synopsis and Review

Untouchable Lovers drama review

"Untouchable Lovers" is a historical costume Chinese drama aired in 2018. The story is based on the novel, A Tale of Two Phoenixes, by Tian Yi You Feng. It stars Guan Xiaotong and Song Weilong, and had a line-up of supporting cast whose names became famous later - Bai Lu, Zhao Lusi, Xu Kai, and Wu Jinyan.

The script was written by the controversial Yu Zheng who has been plagued by plagiarism issues over the years. He also produced this drama through his company, Huanyu Entertainment. No wonder most of the cast members are his talents:  Song Weilong, Bai Lu, Xu Kai, Wu Jinyan, Zhang Yijie, and Merxat Yalcun. 

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Guan Xiaotong and Song Weilong in Untouchable Lovers

I just watched this drama recently and despite the incoherent plot and illogical story development, I was able to finish the 52 episodes in three days. Mainly because Song Weilong is super handsome lol! 

But honestly, I was exasperated with the way this drama was written. After episode 16, it felt like I was watching a totally different series. Same leads but different characters. So irritating!

I hate Yu Zheng for ruining the original story of the novel for his obvious intention to promote Bai Lu. From episodes 17 to 52, it was all Bai Lu show, and Guan Xiaotong's character was merely reduced to a subordinate role without any development. 

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Song Weilong and Guan Xiaotong
It feels like Yu Zheng completely rewrote the novel. In the original story, Zhu Que is a 21st-century woman who finds herself time-traveling to the Song Empire era and wakes up in the body of the emperor's daughter, Princess Liu Chuyu. 

Time travel is no longer allowed by the censor board in China so Yu Zheng changed it to a different scenario. Instead of time traveling, he made Zhu Que the twin sister of Princess Liu Chuyu who was "taken out of the palace" at birth due to the prophecy that the Song dynasty would end if the empress gave birth to twins. This concept actually was copied from the historical K-drama, Queen Seondeok (2009)

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Merxat Yalkun as Prince Kang

To pass the censorship, Untouchable Lovers totally omitted the 21st-century arc and just went straight to the ancient period. Which is fine. But the way the story moved is completely muddled.

Okay, let's dive into the story to dissect the whole thing if this drama will pick your interest. 

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Wang Yijie as Liu Ziye and Guan Xiaotong as Princess Chuyu

Plot Summary: 

During the Song Dynasty period in China, the empire was ruled by a criminally insane and tyrant monarch, Liu Ziye (Wang Yijie). He regularly made a killing rampage at his whim. No one in the empire can restrain his cruel behavior except his older sister, Princess Liu Chuyu (Guan Xiaotong). 

But this princess has also her own version of rudeness. She asked her brother why only an emperor can have a harem, so her lunatic brother gave her 30 young men as her "concubine". Lol! 

So his subjects wanted to eradicate him for good. Tianji Pavilion, the most powerful martial arts sect in the empire, devised a plan to overthrow Liu Ziye due to his cruelty. So the pavilion master sent a spy, Zhu Que, who closely resembles Princess Chuyu, to assassinate the emperor.

One day, when Princess Liu Chuyu was traveling in her carriage, a boy in the street waved a red flag in the direction of the cow taking the princess' carriage, which rattled the cow. The carriage rolled over and toppled the princess. She fell into the river. 

Zhu Que, who was waiting at the bottom of the river, immediately pulled up and took over Chuyu's identity. 

The scene insinuated that it was a deliberate plan of the Tianji Pavilion master to rattle the princess's carriage so that she would be thrown off to the river.

Zhu Que, who was raised by the Tianji Pavilion master since she was a child, immediately assumed the identity of Princess Liu Chuyu and was the one who was brought back to the manor. 

A spy from the Tianji Pavilion, who earlier entered the palace as a servant, trained Zhu Que how to act like Princess Chuyu without attracting suspicion. 

Everything went smoothly as she was the perfect lookalike of the princess, and no one noticed it even his insane emperor brother. Except one. Rong Zhi (Song Weilong).

Rong Zhi, who entered the palace as a close adviser to Princess Chuyu, is actually a spy from the neighboring Northern Wei empire. He is smart, cunning, a martial arts expert, and a genius military strategist. He entered the palace service of the Song Empire to get close to the princess so that he could spy on the military movement of the empire.  

Princess Chuyu, however, fell in love with him but Rong Zhi consistently turned her down. Now, as Zhu Que took over the identity of Chuyu, Rong Zhi could not be easily fooled. He knew she was not Chuyu anymore. 

Later, she confessed her true identity. Consequently, they both fell in love. But due to their opposing loyalties, they drifted apart. Rong Zhi faked his death and returned to the Northern Wei. 

Zhu Que later found out she was the twin sister of the real Princess Chuyu and she met her mother, the Dowager Empress who was dying. The truth made her hesitate to assassinate the emperor as she found out he was her real brother. She planned instead to guide him to become a good emperor, something that did not set well with the pavilion master and his sect brother, the imperial astrologer. 

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Princess Chuyun and Rong Zhi's wedding scene

A palace mutiny took place, ultimately killing the emperor, Zhu Que confronted the pavilion master who almost killed her had not the imperial astrologer intervened. 

The imperial astrologer then erased Zhu Que/Chuyu's memory of Rong Zhi. The new emperor, Chuyu's uncle, wanted to make peace with the Northern Wei empire through a marriage alliance. He then asked his niece to marry the Prince Regent of Wei, who happened to be Rong Zhi.

Rong Zhi's memory of Chuyu was also erased by the imperial astrologer. So when he and Chuyu got married, he became emotionless towards her. Both did not remember their past that once they loved each other. 

Important Characters of this drama:

1. Princess Chuyu (Guan Xiaotong) - a Song Dynasty princess. She falls in love with her close adviser, Rong Zhi, but he just responds with a cold heart. She later dies when she is thrown out of the carriage and falls into the river. 

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Guan Xiaotong

2. Zhu Que (Guan Xiaotong) - a spy from the Tianji Pavilion. She is an assassin sent by the sect master to assassinate the tyrant Song emperor, Liu Ziye. She later discovers she is the twin sister of Princess Chuyu. She later hesitated to kill her brother. 

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Song Weilong 

3. Rong Zhi (Song Weilong) - he is a skilled martial artist who entered the palace service to become Princess Chuyu's close adviser. However, he is a spy from the rival Northern Wei empire. He is revealed to be the empire's prince regent and the younger brother of the Dowager Empress Feng Ting of Wei.

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Zhang Yijie

4. Liu Ziye (Zhang Yijie) - a tyrant and criminally insane emperor of Song. He is the younger brother of Princess Chu Yu and Zhu Que. He never listens to his palace officials and advisers only to his sister. Zhang Yijie also played the eccentric emperor, Ji Man, in "King is Not Easy" (2017) with Bai Lu.

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Wu Jinyan 

5. Feng Ting (Wu Jinyan) - Empress Dowager of Northern Wei. She is Rong Zhi's older sister. A woman in a high position with power and authority, she controls the court's affairs of the Northern Wei empire.

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Bai Lu 

6. Huo Xuan (Bai Lu) - a female general and commander of the Huo army, she's Rong Zhi's close friend. Huo Xuan has an unrequited love for Rong Zhi.

7. Le Yun (also Bai Lu) -  She is a lookalike of Huo Xuan and becomes Tuoba Yun's concubine. She is a cunning and manipulative woman.

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Merxat Yalkun

8. Tuoba Yun (Merxat Yalkun) - Also known as Prince Kang of Northern Wei, he is the older half-brother of the Emperor and harbors hatred towards Rong Zhi. He plotted several times to kill Rong Zhi and Chu Yun.

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Shi Yunpeng

9. Tuoba Hong (Shi Yunpeng) - he is the Emperor of Northern Wei. A weak ruler, he is under the control of Feng Ting. He can be easily manipulated by people around him.

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Xu Kai

10. Shen Yu (Xu Kai) - He is the loyal bodyguard of Rong Zhi who is very protective of his master and Princess Chuyu. He is one of the most lovable characters in the Northern Wei arc.

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Zhao Lusi 

11. Ma Xueyun (Zhao Lusi) - She is the daughter of the Northern Wei's official. She is in love with Rong Zhi and agrees to become his concubine. She harbors hatred towards Chuyu due to their rivalry towards Rong Zhi. She is manipulative and always devices evil plans to harm Chuyu. 

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Zhao Lusi 


This is one of the weirdest dramas I have ever watched due to the progress of the story. First, there's a Song Empire arc, everything went fine, the cinematography, fight sequences, and direction of the story. 

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Guan Xiaotong 

Then after episode 16, it was all completely different as it followed a new storyline. It felt like I was watching a different drama lol! The setting moves to the Northern Wei Empire, which is actually fine, but the whole thing feels totally different, even the main characters. 

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Guan Xiaotong 

I feel so betrayed because it got me super invested for the first 16 episodes. The Song Empire arc was so good! It was the most interesting part of the drama. But everything went downhill when the setting switched to the Northern Wei Empire (episode 17 to episode 52). 

Yu Zheng completely created a separate story - the Northern Wei arc did not exist in the source novel - and subjected the main leads to a series of nonsense manipulations that trigger hypertension 😂 Guan Xiaotong's character of Chuyu is the most tormented cast in the Northern Wei arc, and she's so powerless to counterattack. She seemed like a prisoner with no chance to escape from her tormentors.

The writer also presented historical events full of inaccuracy. In real Chinese history, the Song Empire and the Northern Wei Empire didn't happen in the same timeline. They existed five centuries apart. However, in this drama, Yu Zheng wrote the script as if these historical dynasties were just neighbors. My goodness! 😄

In fact, he created a totally new plot and new personalities for Princess Chu Yun and Rong Zhi, and because of this incoherent plot development, Chu Yun and Rong Zhi did not have any character development. They became mere puppets subjected to torment and scheming by the manipulative people around them.

Chu Yun becomes a useless main lead character. She turned into a damsel in distress who needed to be rescued by the male lead all the time. 

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Merxat and Bai Lu 

The spotlight was turned to Bai Lu's two characters as if she were the female lead. Perhaps, it was all planned by Yu Zheng to give the spotlight on her. She has more screen time than Guan Xiaotong and becomes the heroine all throughout the drama.

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Bai Lu 

Too much nonsense and illogical palace scheming in the Northern Wei arc as if the writer purposely ruined the two main characters.

In the original novel source, there was no Northern Wei arc. The story just stayed in the Song Empire and Rong Zhi was not a prince regent. 

The only consolation of this adaptation is the ending. It has the same concept as the ending of the novel although in a different perspective and situation.

Untouchable Lovers drama review
The ending scene 

In the novel, Zhu Que did not return to her timeline in the 21st century. She chose to be with Rong Zhi in the end. In the drama, Zhu Que and Rong Zhi did not recover their memories. They went back to the Song Empire and enjoyed a happy marriage. 

Happy Ending...

However, it would be nice if Yu Zheng followed the original novel. It's fine to omit the time travel concept. The twin sisters' idea is also good. Zhu Que's plan to help change her brother, the emperor, for the better, is a wonderful concept of moving the plot forward, but all of a sudden, these elements in the story were erased and changed to the Northern Wei setting and I feel betrayed. 

But despite my annoyance at how Yu Zheng ruined this drama. I stayed on and watched all the episodes without escaping! The direction of the play is good. Song Weilong delivered a good performance and his handsomeness made me forget all the shortcomings of this drama. 😂

As for Guan Xiaotong. It's not her fault that her character became useless in the second part of the drama. It's the fault of the writer. Chuyun/Zhu Que becomes a totally different character in Northern Wei. She couldn't even defend herself. She's just waiting to be rescued by Rong Zhi when in the first 16 episodes she was described as an assassin. What happened? Goodness. 

I also don't like her styling in the Northern Wei arc. She is more good-looking in the Song Empire costume and hair styling.

Untouchable Lovers drama review
Wu Jinyan as Feng Ting

Among the supporting characters in the Northern Wei arc, Shen Yu (Xu Kai) and Feng Ting (Wu Jinyan) are my favorites. I love Xu Kai's role in this drama. Shen Yu is so lovable and impressive. Wu Jinyan played an antagonist role but she performed very well. I love the way she interpreted her role as Feng Ting.

Asking if this drama is highly recommended, well, if your purpose of watching a costume drama is just entertainment, Untouchable Lovers is a good watch! A lot of exciting fight scenes were shown throughout. There were humorous scenes too, just to break the icy monotone of the drama. I love the tender moments between Song Weilong and Guan Xiaotong's characters. It made me want for more of them. 

Song Weilong is so handsome in ancient styling. Hopefully, he will take more roles in the costume genre. A prince or an emperor's role is best suited for him. 

Our rating for Untouchable Lovers: 
  • Plot/Storyline: 4/10
  • Acting Performances: 7/10
  • Cinematography: 8/10

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