I’ve finished watching this drama for quite some time, but didn’t write a review for it until now because I need time to recover from the traumatic ending…… Now that I’ve finally recovered, let me start reviewing!

*This review contains major spoilers. Thus if you don’t want any spoiler,  run now! I will not be responsible for the change in your mood after you’ve finished reading the review.*

For those who can’t make it to Shanghai for his concert, you can watch him in King of Shanghai or read my review lol.

The drama was released in 2008 and was based on novel with the same name. It’s a story of a young girl called Xiao Yue Gui, played by Yuan Li who came to Shanghai in the chaotic time of the 1920s. She sold herself to a brothel to survive and feed her family. She was not aware that she was attracting the attention and affection of Chang Li Xiong (Chang Yeh), played by Wei Zi, who was the mobster King of Shanghai. Despite their huge age gap (Xiao Yue Gui is 15 years old at that time and Chang Yeh was about 45 years old), Chang Li Xiong truly loved her and treated her well. Thus he asked her to marry him.

However Chang Yeh’s foster child, Yu Qi Yang (Ah Qi), played by Wallace Chung has a crush on Xiao Yue Gui. Although he loved Xiao Yue Gui, he hid his feelings deep in his heart and didn’t want to go against his foster father. After all, her family members were killed by the mobster in her hometown and she was saved by Chang Yeh. Hence she decided to marry Chang Yeh even though her feeling for him was at most, only admiration.

On the day of their wedding, Chang Yeh was killed by a planned murder. But Xiao Yue Gui was already pregnant with Chang Yeh’s daughter. After Chang Yeh’s dead, she was chased away by Xin Dai Yu (Xin mama) played by Song Jia, who’s been jealous of Chang Yeh’s love for her. After her daughter was born, Xin mama took her away, and made Xiao Yue Gui promise to never look for her in the future. Heartbroken, she left Shanghai.

10 years passed by, although Ah Qi had been looking for her for years, he still had no information on her whereabouts. During that time, Xiao Yue Gui had becomes a popular opera singer. After she returned to Shanghai, she won the heart of the second generation of mobster king, Huang Pei Yu, played by Chen Rui. After Ah Qi accidentally encountered her, he confessed his feeling for her. But Xiao Yue Gui didn’t gave him an answer.

Upon discovering that the assassination was planned by the second mobster king, she swore to take revenge. After she successfully took revenge for Chang Yeh, Ah Qi became the third generation of the mobster king. The fact that Xin Li Li played by Shi Xiao Qun, who was brought up by Xin mama was her daughter was unknown to anyone.

After about another 10 years, the power of the mobster group decreased. In order to keep the organization going, Ah Qi decided to work with the government but the government was only using them to do all the dirty work. Ah Qi’s decision was opposed by many of the other members. However, the responsibilities and pressure to not let the organization end in his hands made him take a lot of extreme actions.

He even killed some of their members including his own good friend and accidentally hurt Li Li. The other high-ranking members of the organization and Xiao Yue Gui decided to drag him down to put a stop to his action. In the end, they decided to play a real game of Russian roulette (eh, not a good idea sir), between Xiao Yue Gui and Ah Qi (even worse). Ah Qi purposely loaded the bullet during her turn (not sure how he did that without being noticed by anyone) and took the shot.

Oh, this reminds me of my trauma…. Before he took his last breath, he asked her “Do you love me?” Xiao Yue Gui burst into tears and said “I love you!” Woman, what took you almost 20 years to say that? When Ah Qi was dying, she kept shouting “Nooooo!” Hey, why didn’t you think of that when you agreed to play the game?

Well, that was a long summary….

Yuan Li as Xiao Yue Gui

Wallace Chung as Yu Qi Yang

Wei Zi as Chang Li Xiong

Liu Yu Xin as Qin Yun. She grew up with Ah Qi and has a crush on him. Thus she hated Xiao Yue Gui.

Shi Xiao Qun as Xin Li Li. She has a crush on Qi Shu Shu (Uncle Qi) without knowing that he has a long time crush on her biological mother lol.

The thing I like about this drama is it’s different, has many artistic shoots (sometimes it took too long to capture a single frame) and has a lot of monologue or just words written on the screen. The story is suspenseful and will keep you watching. Although I’ve just given you spoilers for the whole drama 😛 But I kept some of them, so there will still be some surprises if you decide to watch it.

At first, I thought this story was about a woman climbing her way up in society and how she finally became the leader of the Shanghai mobsters. It turned out differently from what I thought. The drama did focus more on the female lead, so Wallace’s screen time was not as much as hers. Anyway even though he’s not the focus of the story, his has enough screen time, at least not until the second half.

Most of Ah Qi and Xiao Yue Gui’s sweet interactions only happened in their flashbacks. I really like Ah Qi at the beginning of the drama because he’s loyal to Chang Yeh, funny and naughty when he’s playing with Xiao Yue Gui and always smiling happily. As the story progresses, his character became more hardened and bitter due to Xiao Yue Gui’s disappearance. He was not as strong and capable as the other mobster kings.

In the last 5 episodes, his character was a torture to watch. I was torn between whether to continue liking him or to hate him. He basically destroyed the Ah Qi that I liked at the beginning of the drama. Overall, I think I still like Ah Qi. If not, I won’t be so sad when he died. I think Wallace’s acting skill, brought out the character very well as I can feel his inner struggles whether to cross his line or not. Hence he chose the former.

Ah Qi grew up in the organization and it is like his family. Therefore, he definitely would not let it end in his hands. He would rather die than do so. 😦

Yuan Li looked really old, standing beside Wallace, although she’s only 1 year older than him. Moreover, Xiao Yue Gui kept calling him Ah Qi Ge, this does not help at all. Anyhow I think she’s a decent actress.

Wallace looks really hot in the drama. As I’ve said before, not even Lu Li Cheng or He Yi Chen can beat that kind of hotness. He’s a combination of maturity, youthfulness and coolness. Those still didn’t do him justice. Trust me, he’s way hotter in motion. You can ask Comnhomvn to confirm this if you don’t trust me 😀


In this drama, he seemed very popular with women, but he still didn’t get any girl… Here are some shooting scenes in the drama


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This is the drama where Wallace smoked the most. As a non-smoker, Wallace’s acting is so convincing that it felt like he has been smoking for years. Every time he smoked, I felt bad for him. But he looked extremely dashing doing it. Not that I encourage it…

Murong Feng, what are you doing to my Ah Qi Ge?? Let go! I know both of you are heartbroken but don’t do this to the fangirls >. <

This fan made MV summarized Ah Qi’s feelings towards Xiao Yue Gui very well (Spoiler alert, well… this review had already told you more than enough…)

I like the OST “Live in Love.”

Another well made MV of Ah Qi. You can feel his charisma as a mobster here. He acted really well.

Credit: Drama wiki

32 thoughts on “DRAMA REVIEW: THE KING OF SHANGHAI (上海王)”

  1. Thankyou so much himmy,.you are the best best best…i open my eyes now..this is my taste..oh. ..dear,,his way how to smoke,,super cool..i really like it..even hotter than his body…love it!!now i want to read the story..
    Wallace is my spirit!!


  2. Are you telling my thoughts? OMG. You wrote exactly what I thought and felt about this drama, about his character and acting skill.I like how he developed this character from a kind, gently boy to a pertinacious man. Yes he smoked very well in this. I like the scenes of his smoking when he was thinking about her, giving so deep feelings. The way he looked at her was like she was his sunshine.

    This was the first drama of his I watched and immediately I fallen in love with him.


      1. Are you vietnamese people? If yes, you should search on youtube this drama with the name: Vua Thuong Hai, I remember there was the virson with vietnamese present, two year ago, i used to dowload this film.


  3. Thank you Himmy, always love reading your recap.
    First heard of this drama at the other talk show while searching for Wallace news early last year. Wallace was praised for his role in King of Shanghai, this shown how good Wallace is as Ah Qi,as a humble jovial servant to a matured smart leader. I skipped alot of episodes and just wanted to watch his scenes only Lol! 😂😂😂 Well first of all, that the actress acting as Xiao Yue gui love Ah Qi is not convincing! And I lost patient as Wallace only started to appear a lot from the middle of the drama and the ending is too traumatic to watch! Even though I don’t like smoking, the way he smoke from cigarette to cigar in this drama were pretty cool! What else can I said other than Wallace look so good in any scene and role, just enjoyed watching him! 😍 He is an amazing artist! 😘😍😍


  4. Lol I’m glad that many of you share the same thought as mine. So I’m not talking nonsense 😂
    Really, everytime when he smoke in the drama I felt something in my heart besides feeling bad for him. I squeezed and fangirl for those scenes…. how can he looked so yummy while smoking?


    1. Can you help me and point where I can watch this drama in full. I only able to watch up to chapter 3. What happened to the rest of drama. Thank you sad hope to finish this drama. Again, thanks ina dvance.


    1. Nominated — Shanghai TV Festival for Most Popular Actor (he didn’tget the award)
      Nominated — Chinese Music Awards for Best Television Drama Actor (HK/Taiwan Region) (I think he the award but not sure)


      1. I recalled Wallace won a Music award and many other awards like his role in TLTSILY, Popularity actor awards by different Tv station and recent one in Korea and latest one for most influential actor award. Hope we could have a recap on all Wallace’s awards in this blog and celebrate his success with him.


      1. Tks Himmy, that is written on English wikipedia. But also on wiki, many of his awards are not listed. I love the character in Treasure Water very much, I think he should have deserved a award for it 🙂


      2. his voice just fine..in my opinion..i mean i heard from other singer like jay chou..jay chou even he is more famous as a singer but his voice is not that amazing..


  5. I couldn’t watch this because she could be his mother and Wallace is too young looking. It’s like he’s playing dress up (w/ the fake mustache and suit).


  6. I love his character so much, he,s handsome, attractive but i only watched one time because Wa character was so sad, I only like his smile even on screen.


  7. lol I haven’t been here for months due to family dramas and now my name was even quoted… What can I say, no matter what he does or which movie/drama he is in, Wallace is sooooo hot. In fact just talking about this I can feel my blood start boiling. But Wallace in Shanghai King is specially hot due to the man vs. boy, innocent vs. mature combination. And above all his acting skill. The female lead is a very good actor but OMG she looks like his mum.


    1. Agree, Wallace is always hoooot and cooool in every scene of drama/movie.
      Honestly, I’ve just watched General and I, and its my first drama of WC, and immediately fallen in love with him.
      After watched it, I searched bout WC, looked for what drama can be recomended for I watch. Hmmm maybe King of Shanghai is my choice


      1. Elhayat – I searched everywhere to watch this drama “King of Shanghai” and only find 3 episodes” if and when you do find the rest of the drama, preferable with English subtitles, pls email me at
        Hathanhhoang1976@gmail,com. Thanks a bunch. Can’t wait to finish the rest of this drama


      2. Elhayat – thank you very much. I found the link under “vua thuong hai” pls your assistance. Again, thanks. I know I will enjoy this drama


  8. I have watched this drama even without eng sub but would love to be able to understand what they are saying. I am from the USA and have been a fan of Wallace Chung for many years and have seen most of his movies and dramas that are on the internet. I love his acting, singing, dancing and his use of facial expressions. He is a very gifted individual. I wish nothing but happiness and peace in his life. Also is there any place that carries this drama in eng. sub. Thank you


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