Legend of Ba Qing: The Double Whammy of Scandals That Kill The Drama

Legend of Ba Qing Fan Bingbing 

Legend of Ba Qing, a highly-budgeted costume drama that stars Fan Bingbing and Gavin Gao, was supposed to be the follow-up television project of Fan Bingbing after the success of her 2014 costume drama, The Empress of China.

It was filmed in 2017 and supposed to air in 2018, but in a highly controlled Chinese drama industry where state regulators have the final say on the release of television shows, and where scandals can undermine the future of its celebrities, the two lead stars were embroiled in scandals that same year.

The double whammy of controversy involving Fan Bingbing and Gao Gavin ultimately sent this highly-anticipated drama to its final demise. So what exactly happened? 

Everything looked very fine during the Chinese New Year in 2018. Fan Bingbing and Gavin Gao, who are both Shanghai Theater Academy graduates in the drama department, even performed a duet number at the Spring Festival gala to begin the promotion of their highly anticipated drama collaboration. No hint that an impending disaster would send their acting career in limbo.

Legend of Ba Qing Fan Bingbing
Gavin Gao and Fan Bingbing in Legend of Ba Qing

The sexual abuse allegation

Also known as Gao Yunxiang, Gavin, a former football player, made his acting debut in 2002 (Ambition). He was best known for his roles in Goddess of Mercy (2010) and Legend of Mi Yue (2015) where he won the Best Actor Award in both series at the Huading Awards.

He made his movie debut in 2007 in the romantic comedy film, My Belle Boss, starring alongside Jing Tian and Peter Ho. He also appeared in Zhao Liying's Legend of Lu Zhen in 2013, and Legend of Ban Shu in 2015 starring Jing Tian and Zhang Zhehan.

Gavin Gao

Everything seems went smoothly with his flourishing acting career until March 2018 when he was involved in a sexual abuse allegation in Sydney, Australia.

Gavin Gao and producer, Wang Jing, who were in Australia to shoot a drama, Love in Aranya, were accused of rape and indecent assault in a Sydney Hotel. The accuser was said to be a woman who worked as a production staff in Love in Aranya.

They were arrested and imprisoned in Sydney. Gavin's wife, Dong Xuan, a Chinese actress, went to Australia to support her husband. 

Later, Gavin was released on bail but remained in Australia. In 2019, due to the heartaches and strain she felt on her husband's case, Dong Xuan filed for divorce.

Two years later, in March 2020, the New South Wales District Court in Australia dismissed the case, finding Gavin Gao and Wang Jing not guilty of the sexual assault allegations. 

Plan of reshoot

In April 2018, after the news of Gao Gavin's arrest, the production of Legend of Ba Qing planned to reshoot his scenes with another actor, but just as they were mapping plans to re-edit the drama, Fan Bingbing got involved in a tax evasion case. 

Fan Bingbing
Fan Bingbing at the 17th Asian Film Awards 

The double scandals involving the two main leads sent Legend of Ba Qing into uncertainties. The production and investors, desperate to recover the cost, planned to replace the two with different stars, but the huge budget needed to reshoot all their scenes made the production think over.

It's already a heavy burden if one lead star is edited out of the scene, what if two leads are removed together? It sounds like filming the whole drama from scratch! Undecided about what to do with the drama, the production decided to let it rest in peace. At least for the moment. 

Legend of Ba Qing Fan Bingbing
Fan Bingbing as Ba Qing

In the late part of 2020, there were rumors that the film might be released in 2021 since Fan Bingbing and Gavin Gao were already cleared to appear on shows again. It was also reported that the drama has been renamed Win the World.

Hopes are still high for the Legend of Ba Qing to be released since Gao Gavin's Son of Hero, which was filmed in 2016, was quietly (because there was no promo involved) aired in August 2023.

Can it still be released? Fans are fervently hoping since the drama looked good and the production quality was topnotch. 

Here's the plot summary of Legend of Ba Qing:

The drama chronicles the life of Ba Qing, the wealthiest woman during the Qin Dynasty period. She was known to have provided mercury for the First Emperor of China’s mausoleum, and also funded construction works for the Great Wall. 

She belonged to the family who controlled the Cinnabar mines (Cinnabarite is the bright scarlet to brick-red form of mercury sulfide) in Changshou, which she managed herself as a widow.

Legend of Ba Qing Fan Bingbing
Fan Bingbing and Gavin Gao in Legend of Ba Qing

According to historical records, Ba Qing was the earliest female entrepreneur in China, she lost her husband in her early years and remained a widow for the rest of her life. 

Legend has it that her family's wealth amounted to 800 million taels of silver and 5.8 million taels of red gold. She was also considered the "eldest sister" in the eyes of Qin Shihuang, the founder of the Qin dynasty and the first Emperor of China. They were actually not related by blood and they were involved in a complicated romance.

Providing a large amount of mercury for the Mausoleum of Qin Shihuang. In her later years, she was taken into the palace and named a "chaste woman". Historical experts speculate that she may have a private army but due to the affection of the emperor for her, she was not punished. 

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