The wuxia drama, which used to dominate the screen for many years and had a deep audience base, has entered a low tide due to repeated remakes and lack of innovation. However, to the surprise of the audience, the wuxia dramas in 2023 brought some long-lost brilliance. The release of a batch of works such as "The Ingenious One" which focuses on "martial arts mysteries", "Mysterious Lotus Casebook" which combines suspenseful detective stories, and the wuxia comedy "Legend of the Undercover Chef" once again proves that wuxia dramas still have the ability to stand out. In 2024, there are 12 upcoming wuxia dramas that have great potential in terms of cast and audience expectations. Let's speculate, which work will become the blockbuster wuxia drama of 2024?
The most anticipated upcoming wuxia dramas in 2024 are definitely the sequels of popular IPs. With their previous performance being generally good, serialized dramas come with built-in popularity and are more likely to become blockbusters, achieving great success once again.
With the popularity of the first season, there should be no doubt about the expectations for "Joy of Life" Season 2. Currently, the number of pre-orders of season 2 has exceeded 10 million, and the number of ratings on Douban for the first season has surpassed one million, with a steady score of 7.9, receiving both critical acclaim and commercial success.
As a drama with a male-dominated cast, "Joy of Life" is not purely a wuxia drama; it also includes elements of light science fiction and political intrigue. However, the martial arts scenes in the drama are meticulously crafted, with every move and technique being authentic, which shows that the production team has indeed put in a lot of effort.
It can be said that the first season left the audience wanting more. The second season will provide answers to the secrets surrounding Fan Xian, the entanglement between Emperor Qing and Ye Qingmei, and the emotional connection between Lin Wan'er and Fan Xian. With the return of the original cast and crew, as well as the same screenwriter Wang Juan and director Sun Hao, "Joy of Life" Season 2 stands at the forefront among the upcoming wuxia dramas in 2024.
Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty Season 2
In 2022, the drama "Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty" impressed the audience. Set in the Tang Dynasty, the drama is filled with interesting martial arts and detective storylines, intertwined with political intrigue in the court, providing a satisfying viewing experience. The combination of wuxia and detective genres, in the format of episodic dramas, has proven to be successful in the market as long as the story quality is solid.
From "Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty" to "Mysterious Lotus Casebook," this format has been repeatedly validated. Now, "Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty Season 2" is poised to be released. It is still produced by iQiyi and GHY Culture & Media, with the director Bai Shan and screenwriter Wei Fenghua. The main cast remains the same, including Yang Xuwent, Yang Zhigang, and others. With the same team working on the sequel, it is already half assured of success.
The Blood of Youth Season 2
From the animated version to the live-action adaptation, what impressed the audience the most about the "The Blood of Youth" series is the youthful vigor of the heroes in their resplendent attire. There are not many outstanding youth-oriented martial arts works on the market today, but "The Blood of Youth" firmly occupies a leading position. Live-action adaptations are always subject to scrutiny, but the well-casted characters and faithful recreation of iconic scenes in the first season have become topics of discussion among the audience, indicating that the creative team has put a lot of effort into it.
As the animated series of "The Blood of Youth" continues to be released one after another, the sequel of the live-action version naturally comes into play. With a complete set of settings and storylines from the original work, there is no need to worry about deviating from the previous story development. The announcement of the return of the original cast and crew has also reassured the fans.
The Land of Warriors
Speaking of "Douluo Continent", it is undoubtedly a major IP. The previous installment utilized popular actors and achieved impressive results in terms of popularity. Now, the release of the second part is only natural. However, compared to other IP sequels that feature the same cast and crew, "The Land of Warriors (Douluo Continent Season 2)" can be considered a major overhaul. The screenwriter has changed from Wang Juan to Tian Liangliang.
The main cast has also been replaced, with Xiao Zhan and Wu Xuanyi being replaced by Zhou Yiran, Zhang Yuxi, and Chen Muchi, among others. The change in the lineup has sparked discussions about the series, and whether the sequel created by the new team can sustain the popularity of the previous installment has become a hot topic. However, as long as the four words "Douluo Continent" are present, the appeal of this IP remains.
Compared to the first installment, which focused on Tang San and Xiao Wu's journey through school, "The Land of Warriors" focuses more on the later stages of the Seven Monsters of Shrek's lives after the Advanced Soul Master Tournament, where they have grown into more powerful young adults. When they reunite five years later and embark on key storylines such as the creation of Tang Sect and the exploration of Sea God Island, how will these be portrayed? We eagerly await the final product.
The adaptation of classic martial arts novels has always been an important source for martial arts dramas. From the timeless works of Jin Yong and Gu Long to the novels of new martial arts writers, they have been repeatedly brought to the screen. In the upcoming martial arts dramas of 2024, adaptations from classic martial arts novels still hold a significant weight. This shows that true classics are texts that can withstand repeated adaptations.
New Jin Yong Wuxia Universe
After numerous adaptations of Jin Yong's novels, there are finally some unique adaptations, such as "New Jin Yong Wuxia Universe". Produced by Tencent Video and Youhug Media, this martial arts drama brings together top directors such as Xu Bing, Deng Ke, Cao Dun, Zang Xichuan, and Yang Lei, and will be presented in an episodic format.
The confirmed episodes so far include "Eastern Heretic and Western Venom", "Southern Emperor and Northern Beggar", "Duel on Mount Hua", "Nine Yin True Sutra", and "Hot Blooded". With different directorial styles and varied textual content, Jin Yong's works truly offer an inexhaustible treasure trove of martial arts.
The New Version of the Condor Heroes
In Jin Yong's novels, thanks to the unconventional love story between Yang Guo and Xiaolongnü, "The Return of the Condor Heroes" has always been immensely popular, with over ten adaptations in various forms. In this version, Tong Mengshi and Mao Xiaohui play the lead roles, while the supporting cast is also notable: Wen Qi portrays Guo Xiang, Shao Bing portrays Guo Jing, Gong Beimi portrays Huang Rong, and Mao Linlin portrays Li Mochou.
The buzz surrounding these actors guarantees high levels of interest. Director Lin Feng, who has previously served as an action director for the "The Proud Youth", the 2003 version of "Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils", and the film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", is highly anticipated for his action scenes in this adaptation of "The New Version of the Condor Heroes".
Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee
When it comes to dramas featuring Di Renjie, audiences still remember the "Detective Dee" series. With four installments released in quick succession, it garnered strong reactions from viewers, ensuring the popularity of this IP. However, "Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee" is relatively more complex. Its original work was written by Dutch author Robert van Gulik. This series was once popular in Europe and America, and the character of "Judge Di" became as well-known as Sherlock Holmes.
The perspective and writing style of the original "Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee" leans towards a more Westernized approach, without the highly skilled martial artist Li Yuanfang solving ordinary problems. Can Chinese audiences adapt to Di Renjie as envisioned by a Dutch author? How will the adaptation break the stereotypical impression of the "Detective Dee" series held by the audience? Regardless, this is a drama with many points of interest.
Snowy Night: Timeless Love
As a leading figure in new martial arts novels in mainland China, Cang Yue's works have been repeatedly adapted, and now, "Snowy Night: Timeless Love", a cherished memory of many readers during their middle school years, will finally be brought to the screen. This drama is adapted from Cang Yue's novel of the same name and stars Li Qin and Zeng Shunxi. It tells a story about the deepest love in life, yet ultimately unable to withstand the test of time.
The challenge in adapting Cang Yue's works lies in capturing the poetic imagery that flows through the text. Whether the creators can convey that feeling remains a test of their artistic abilities. So far, there hasn't been a particularly satisfying martial arts drama adapted from Cang Yue's novels. However, both directors, Ren Haitao, who directed "Mysterious Lotus Casebook", and Liang Shengquan, who created classics such as "Swords of Legends" and the 2008 version of "The Legend of the Condor Heroes", are reassuring choices.
The wuxia dramas adapted from web novels are equally significant and cannot be overlooked. However, as a new generation of creators who grew up watching wuxia, they naturally embody the spirit of chivalry in their writings. These works often revolve around wuxia as the backbone and incorporate various elements with a high degree of innovation. Several of the drama series adapted from wuxia web novels have shown some highlights that are different from previous wuxia dramas, making them potential competitors for the blockbuster hits of 2024.
The Immortal Ascension
The original web novel of "The Immortal Ascension"is highly acclaimed. It tells the story of the growth of a young man named Han Li from an ordinary mountain village. Starting from a small martial arts sect, he eventually cultivates into an immortal. The director is Yang Yang, whose recent works include popular dramas such as "Ever Night," "A Dream of Splendor." The lead roles are played by Yang Yang and Gina Jin, and the screenwriters include Wang Yuren and Jia Dongyan. With a star-studded cast, this highly anticipated adaptation combines character growth and cultivation, making it a highly anticipated production.
Guardians of the Dafeng
"Guardians of the Dafeng," like "The Immortal Ascension," is also a top-tier web novel adaptation that audiences have been eagerly anticipating for years. The two lead actors are Tian Xiwei and Wang Hedi, and their compatibility with the characters is high. The drama is adapted from the novel of the same name.
It mainly tells the story of Xu Qian'an, a graduate of the police academy who travels to a strange world by chance. Based on the released trailers, the series not only includes elements of suspense, but also has a strong comedic element, allowing the audience to enjoy the wuxia world with laughter.
Love and Sword
This drama is adapted from Shen Cangmei's novel "Yu Yan Shao Tong Mian." It tells the story of girl named Fang Yi who accidentally enters the world of wuxia and becomes the heroic swordsman Rong Shukuang, and meet another swordsman Yan Shao.
They embark on a journey of love and vengeance in the jianghu. The director, Cha Chuanyi, has directed several works in recent years, including "I Will Never Let You Go" and "The Romance of Tiger and Rose." The lead roles are played by Gao Weiguang and Xuan Lu. The mysterious and unpredictable atmosphere and the chivalrous and tender sentiments in this drama are very appealing to the audience.
"Burning Flames" is slightly different from the other web novel adaptations mentioned here, as its original work is a famous comic, making it a comic adaptation drama. The chief director, Zheng Weiwen, has previously created well-known works such as "The Untamed" and "The Legends." The cast includes actors such as Ren Jialun, Xing Fei, Zhu Xudan, and Yan Yikuan. This drama has strong fantasy elements and incorporates themes of growth. With its rich content and the popularity of the original comic, the adaptation has maintained high levels of anticipation.
The wuxia dramas of 2023 have impressed the audience once again, reaffirming the potential of wuxia dramas to become blockbusters. How to rejuvenate wuxia dramas, bidding farewell to old formulas while igniting new vitality, is a question that every creator should ponder.
We must firmly believe that in the 2024 drama market, there are still new opportunities for wuxia dramas. Although these twelve works mentioned above do not encompass all the reserves of wuxia dramas, they rank high in terms of cast and expectations. Will the blockbuster wuxia dramas of 2024 emerge from them? Or will there be unexpected surprises from dark horses? Let us wait and see.