Rookie Agent Rouge 2016

Every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies

Jane Austen

Rookie Agent Rouge (2016)
Also known as
 Yan Zhi
Espionage, Crime, Thriller
Written by
 Wang Biao   &   Xu Jizhou
Directed by
Xu Jizhou
  Zanilia Zhao, Lu Yi, Tao Xinran, Mickey Yuan
Country of Origin

oh! … brief

It’s 1937 in Shanghai and Japanese troops have infiltrated the city in their war with China, prompting a rise in patriotism among Chinese people.

A young woman (Lan Yan Zhi) who has an interest in serving her country as the war between Japan and China rages and WWII draws near. Lan Yan Zhi has a knack for intelligence gathering and an acute sense of perception and spatial awareness. While practising her skills she inadvertently becomes involved in a real mission when she inadvertently foils a Japanese spy’s mission.

Following this is reluctantly recruited as a secret agent to take down a Japanese-sympathizer group of spies and is known as Lan Rouge. Unfortunately, the parents of Lan Yan Zhi’s best friend, Manna Feng, run the spy network and her involvement allows for their work to be monitored. Manna Feng’s mother commits suicide when an arrest attempt is made and her father is killed trying to escape.

Manna Feng feels she must avenge her parent’s death and is recruited as an agent for the Japanese Secret Operations Division. She is taught counter intelligence skills and gains experience as she readies herself to take out Lan Rouge. However, no matter how hard she tries to outwit Agent Rouge her adversary is always two, sometimes three, steps ahead.

What ensues is a bitter battle to the end of Manna Feng’s life!

oh! … talks drama

I almost passed this cdrama over because there are far too many films and dramas based on China’s fast track to Communism. They’re filled with political promotion of communism and the filmmakers seem to have a personal agenda whether pro or anti, so I typically avoid them. This time, however, the stunning visual promo shoots tempted me to at least try the first few episodes.

I can’t honestly say I’m glad I did, but I also can’t say I’m glad I didn’t. The cdrama is fair to middling. Writers Wang Biao and Xu Jizhou crafted an interesting story and developed the main characters well enough for this production to be enjoyed but more as light entertainment than anything else.

I liked the idea behind the characters Lan Yan Zhi and Manna Feng and was sold on their friendship and relationship and how it all came crashing down given the ‘big’ reveal of espionage in the Feng household. And, I understood basing much of the production on Manna Feng’s constant plotting and planning of revenge. But after countless foiled missions and boredom, the production which could have excelled moved into the second-rate class.

That’s not to say it was a waste of time, it passes as entertainment to a degree, it just never rises above average. And it’s not the actors or actresses fault, their performances were strong – it was the writing of the narrative and all the silly plots added in willy-nilly that hampered the production. The actors and actresses were the heroes and heroines, saving the production from becoming a complete failure.

Doubling as the director, Xu Jizhou did a better job directing than in the role of a writer. The cdrama episodes are crafted well enough and were filmed relatively well. Where the director dropped the ball was in the special effects for wounds and the blood which just came off as entirely fake as though no actual interest had been paid to ensuring this was close to authentic. That was a bit of a downer.

The soundtrack that accompanied this production was also a highlight because it had good music and featured Dongdong Dong (Rookie Agent Rouge), Zanilia Zhao (Yearning), and Silence Wang (Love Makes Me Brave).

As I wrote earlier, the real win for this production was the cast of actors and actresses.

Zhao Liying also known as Zanilia Zhao played Lan Yan Xhi (Lan Rouge) and I was very impressed with her performance. I so enjoy how she emotes, using her facial expressions, her eyes, and her body language. She puts everything she has into each performance and as Lan Rouge, she outshone all the others. Zhao Liying is a strong actress, talented at becoming her characters and delivering solid performances.

Multi award-winner, Lu Yi, played opposite Zhao Liying’s Lan Rouge as a communist infiltrator and spy Zhou Yuhao. I was fascinated by his understated performance. He didn’t quite nail the ‘Bond 007” believability factor but he did remind me of why I love espionage so much. And the chemistry shared between Zhou Yuhao and Lan Rouge was just fantastic. Their relationship developed from mutual suspicion to friendship but ended in a love spanning the years.

Manna Feng was played by Tao Xinran. I am not familiar with this actress and I found her performance really strong but I had an intense dislike for her character and as such it’s sometimes hard to separate the two to give an honest opinion on the acting. Things I liked about the performance – Tao Xinran delivered an authentic depiction of a woman driven by revenge – she took on real nasty looks on her face but also showed a softer more demure aspect. It was nicely done. What I didn’t like – for the most part her voice when her character became agitated. That was annoying. Overall her performance was strong enough not to be distracting, but I would have liked to see better flexibility and less stiffness in the delivery of lines!

Song Mian, the second male lead was played by Mickey Yuan and I enjoyed his performance which was genuine – I enjoyed his hesitation at getting Lan Rouge involved and then his own wife later in the series. I really believed his self-doubt and think he performed really well as Song Mian.

oh! … sidekicks

Lang Changming, Lan Rouge’s father was played by Shu Yaoxuan. I’ve seen Shu Yaoxuan before in the Battle for Shanghai and he annoyed me then with his performance so when I first saw him I was worried. However, in this production, he delivers a compelling performance!

I think of all the actresses, Ma Cancan’s performance as Lian Tianmu was perhaps the most breathtaking for me. She perfectly depicted the soft spirit of a woman trying to maintain the peace and friendship between all parties. The perfect person caught in the middle of the warring sides. I found her performance hands down the best!

oh! … that’s a wrap

For the coming colder months (fall/winter) this is a good show to pass the time on days too cold to be outside. Rookie Agent Rouge is fair entertainment. It’s not likely something you’ll watch again and again or in the line of classics, but it’s fun to watch the hijinks and laugh at all the fake blood and wounds.

oh! … soundtrack

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailers


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