I guess that in a sense Cross Fire / 穿越火线 is like most sports themed shows/movies. It’s an underdog story. In fact it’s an underdog story times two. I’ve watched several and I tend to like them, depending on how engeaging the story is and how likeable the characters are. Cross Fire ticks all the positive boxes for me and there’s very little to grumble about. It made me feel warm and fuzzy. These days the shows that even register enough for some after episode musings are far and wide apart. It’s always a pleasant surprise when I come across one that I actually want to write about. Especially as I can never be sure which ones turn out to be those, ha. There have been some decidedly odd ducks among them. 😀
I’m not a gamer nor an avid fan of eSports but I’ve watched enough live matches to get a feel of how they should look and Cross Fire does a pretty good job at that. Most of the similarly themed dramas have used eSports and gaming just as a brackdrop for a romance but Cross Fire is different. At the heart of this story is the game and the players. There is “blood, sweat and tears”, triumphs and defeats, lots of heart and camaraderie, breaking up and making up, bonding and good times but also betrayal and crushing disapointment. Besides the gaming aspect Drama is also about growing up and finding your own path. Having the courage to fight for your dreams, despite of almost unsurmounting obstacles in the way. With a little… or a lot of help from your friends. Drama also manages to be laugh out loud funny in places.
What I loved most was the friendships formed and team building. We don’t have just one team but two, albeit in two different points in time. I really liked the cast of characters and their interactions. They actually felt very real. Whenever groups of people pool their talents and individual resourses for a team-effort, there is a chance of making connections that can last a lifetime. If you are lucky. Of course in a cutthroat world of real life professional sports that’s less likely, at least in the scale it’s depicted in the drama, but in a magical world of TV entertainment that is definitely a possibility. 😉 As a big part of the drama is set in the early years of professional gaming, it also pays homage to the real legends of Chinese eSports and that reel of photos with names at the end of the last epi was a rather nice touch. Luhan may have got some flak for his performance but I think he was very beliavable, so a job well done. Wu Lei is generally pretty good but his acting is not always consistent and some of his drama choises have been… well, questionable. He’s still young though and he did very well here.
Unlike the made up game of Glory in The King’s Avatar, CrossFire is an actual online tactical FSP (first person shooter) game, first released in 2007 and by all accounts still going strong. Drama depicts the trials and tribulations of set of CrossFire players in two teams 1COIN and Continue, lead by Xiao Feng aka ‘seven’ (Luhan) and Lu Xiaobei aka ‘north’ (Wu Lei) respectively and in lesser part their opponents. It’s just that at the start of the drama the leads are in different years, Feng in 2008 and Xiaobei in 2019. A freak “magical” electric storm connects their computers across time and space and hence they are able to “meet” in-game whenever the connection gets re-established. Despite of initial mistrust, Feng and Xiaobei manage to prove one another that they really are a decade apart and they gradually become friends. This results in them trying to connect in real life too but we learn early on that there seems to be no trace of Feng in 2019. Tragic events then lead these two to cross paths in Feng’s timeline and it becomes obvious that they are connected in other ways as well. The mystery of what happened to Feng and how he and his team are related to Xiaobei forms the overarching storyline. For the most part Drama runs in two timelines but it never gets confusing and in the end these two threads merge bringing us to the here and now. Along the way we get tidbits of what actually happened in the past and how it affected the present. Like the gradual reveal of who the fly in the ointment is, the instigator of all the bad things to come. The tragedy is in the fact that our Big Bad is a trusted, longtime friend and not all that bad a person to start with, just very flawed, greedy and in the end prone to using underhanded means to achieve the desired results. Mix that with jelousy and you get an unsavoury brew.
Friendship is one of the driving forces of the drama but our leads do also get each their own lovelines. The low key and heartfelt romances thankfully never hi-jack the actual storyline. Both couples start out as friends and I especially loved the journey of Xiao Feng and An Lan as what they had almost got lost forever. Thank god for magic computers, eh. 😀
Land of Dreams /梦寐之地 by Luhan (the ending theme)
The full OST