Only For Love (2023) Summary & Review: Bai Lu & Dylan Wang Bring Life To This Business Drama

Only For Love (2023) Chinese Drama Review
  • Cast
  • Cinematography
  • Music
  • Storyline
  • Rewatch Value

It wasn’t until I was halfway through this drama and decided to join online discussions that I realized the main leads, Bai Lu and Dylan Wang, had never worked on a project together, and their fans had been clamouring for a collaboration.

I’ll talk about how this pans out later in this post, but suffice it to say at this point, I didn’t have a lot of expectations. In fact, I didn’t even read the synopsis online before diving in; it was simply the thumbnail (which I found accidentally) on YouTube that pulled me in. 

If you’ve followed the discussions from some of my previous posts where I reviewed other dramas, you probably already know that I’m slowly getting into Chinese dramas. And at this point, I pick romantic titles indiscriminately.

I’ve watched some pretty awesome ones like Road Home, When I Fly Towards You, and Will Love in Spring, which I will probably always think about. They have all been so good, and luckily, I haven’t watched a below-average Chinese drama so far.

Now, about our main leads in this drama: they are two very popular personalities in the Chinese entertainment industry. Our female lead, Bai Lu, has an extensive filmography and her quality has only risen since her drama debut in 2017. She’s definitely one of those versatile actresses who can move between genres, having starred in historical dramas like Song of Youth and contemporary romances like the one I’m reviewing now, as well as Love is Sweet.

Dylan Wang debuted a year after our female lead and snagged the main role in Meteor Garden, which you might know because it’s based on a webtoon that had been adapted by several countries. While his filmography isn’t as robust as our female lead’s, he has definitely made a big splash, having appeared in several other very popular Chinese dramas like The Rational Life and Youth in the Flames of War.

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So, as I mentioned, I got interested in our leads while already watching the drama. Aside from one of the male leads, Wei Zhe Ming, I hadn’t watched anything with any of the other characters, so while I was thrilled to continue watching, I was a little sceptical. 

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But they all deserve their accolades because there wasn’t any stiff acting, which is something I have encountered when watching Chinese dramas (and experience has taught me to simply ignore or overlook).

What is Only For Love about?

Our female lead, Zheng Shu Yi, is a journalist tasked with chasing down the elusive CEO of a venture capitalist firm for an exclusive interview that will up the odds of her receiving the go-ahead to launch her e-magazine. On the other hand, our male lead, Shi Yan, meets our female lead and is initially baffled by the odd circumstances that seem to trail after her. Eventually, he falls in love with her.

Around the time she meets him, she finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, and they break up. In a fit of anger, she tells her friend about her plan to seduce our male lead to get her magazine’s approval and to get back at her boyfriend. Her friend totally supports her mission, and she decides to go ahead with it.

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She begins by shamelessly flirting with him and showing up wherever he is, being as open about her intentions as possible. Unexpectedly, he falls under her spell. When he later finds out that she might have had ulterior motives, he decides to let it go as long as she can tell him the truth.

For a long time, we see Shu Yi trying her best to keep the secret under wraps, and there’s a lot of confusion about identities. I won’t go into details because it’s confusing if you haven’t watched the drama, but just know that this drama literally has confusion stacked on top of confusion, which is also stacked on top of another pile of confusion, so it’s quite a ride.

The first secondary couple, Guan Ji and Bi Ruo Shan, consists of the cousin of our male lead, who is in love with the best friend of our female lead respectively. But, due to their commitment issues, they circle around each other throughout the drama until they finally decide to follow their hearts.

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The second secondary couple, Yu You and Qin Shi Yue, comprises our male lead’s best friend, a professor and financial consultant, and his niece, the daughter of his elder sister, who lives with him and works with our female lead. This is a lovely age-gap romance and easily my favourite couple in the entire drama (more on this later).

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If you noticed, I mentioned that all the leads are involved in the financial sector in one way or another, so this is essentially a financial drama. While the love stories are growing and changing, there’s an even bigger plot involving our male leads and their attempts to invest in a failing company.

My Review 

In my honest opinion, the worst thing about this drama is also its biggest selling point: the fact that the romance drives the story for the longest time. It’s unfortunate that the primary conflict of the drama isn’t more connected to the leads and their romance, unlike other dramas like Road Home which achieved that balance well.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I would have preferred a drama solely focused on the primary external conflict driving the plot forward. But I feel like a congruence or at least a marriage of these two worlds is important if you want your audience to care about both the drama’s leads and its plot.

Before starting a romantic drama, especially a contemporary one, we know the leads will end up together, but it’s the journey to that point that matters. When it feels like there are two stories of two completely different genres being told at the same time in one drama, it can be tiring to follow.

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This might sound weird if you haven’t watched this drama, and to avoid spoilers, let me just say that it felt like their romance was independent of our male lead’s work drama. It didn’t help that our female lead’s work drama was also completely removed from everything else and eventually dissipated on its own.

Related: 6 Lovely Age-Gap Chinese Dramas Where Love Knows No Boundaries

The main thing being sold in this drama is the idea and concept of love. How many relatively short contemporary Chinese dramas have you watched with six different couples? I know only the main three are highlighted, but when you start watching this drama, you see the other three get a decent amount of screen time, which feels superfluous.

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I mentioned earlier that I didn’t have any particular expectations for this drama because I hadn’t seen anyone apart from one of the secondary male leads, who I watched and loved in Perfect and Casual. In this drama, he plays a professor who falls in love with his best friend’s niece.

If you’ve seen the promotion for this drama, you’ve probably noticed that Bai Lu and Dylan Wang are the faces of the drama. But, while watching, the people who truly stole my attention were the professor and the niece. I couldn’t take my eyes off them because they had the most amazing chemistry, and I loved how their romance developed, even though it was much slower than the others.

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That’s not to say the other couples didn’t make sense, but I preferred this one because we could really see how their affection blossomed, and their growth over the course of the drama was simply amazing. My least favorite couple by far was definitely the best friend and the cousin, who kept dancing around each other even though it was clear they loved each other.

In fact, I didn’t understand why they didn’t want to be together, and it was frustrating seeing them get a lot of screen time while our third secondary couple got only scraps. This couple already had a physical relationship from the beginning of the drama, so it was mainly about getting their emotions to catch up to their chemistry, and it felt like too much dilly-dallying for me to get into.

As for our main couple, I freely admit they had the most amazing chemistry. I loved that he gave as much as she did, and it was a very reciprocal relationship in every sense of the word. So, even though they didn’t delve too deep into the power dynamics in their stations, and there were many situations where he could have flexed his wealth, it was great seeing the way they came through for each other at every point in time.

Side note: It’s not too fun watching a drama with a “CEO” where we never really feel the effects of his wealth – It ends up becoming a letdown. The shining thing about CEOs in dramas is that they’re always extra. 

Remember Goo Won from King The Land? He took a helicopter to save Sa Rang when he heard she was stuck on an island. And, have you heard the iconic line about the relationship between the ML’s heart and his card? That was Tae Moo from Business Proposal being a dramatic little princess. 

That said, one thing I always appreciate in Chinese dramas is that most of the ones I have been privileged to watch deal with very niche industries. There’s usually a lot of conversation and talk related to the niche in question, and I am proud to say that I am more or less never lost. But, somehow in this drama, all the financial talk simply went over my head.

I am not shy how to admit that this might simply be a me problem. Perhaps I am simply not smart enough to understand what is being said. Half the time, I had no idea what was happening when it came to this drama’s plot, so whenever the scenes related to finances came on, I simply kept skipping. I always feel bad whenever I skip while watching a drama because I know the amount of hard work that goes into it, so I like to watch it in its entirety.

Also See: 12 Best Romantic Chinese Dramas With Cold-Hearted Male Leads You’ll Fall In Love With

Another thing I really enjoyed about how this drama is told is that we get to see the highs and lows of our characters. Unlike many other dramas where it almost feels like the leads are succeeding in every single thing they do, in this drama they win and and fail, but then how they deal with that failure is what sets it apart. 

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The main reason a lot of viewers are drawn to Chinese dramas is that they know how to portray reality in a way that doesn’t feel scary or depressing. Rather, we’re able to appreciate the many intricacies of living and loving, and this is something that this drama pulls off to perfection.

Finally, as I mentioned, this drama has many positives and just as many negatives. But ultimately, it didn’t live up to the expectations established in the very first episodes. My expectations were already high because I loved the first 10 episodes or so, but after that, it simply felt like filler content. Especially since it felt like we were being fed a lot of unnecessary plotlines and information.

Is Only For Love Worth Watching?

At the end of the day, everything is a matter of taste and interest. So, I think you will absolutely enjoy this drama if you like something that feels overall heartwarming, with an ensemble cast and very adorable characters that you will come to love over time.

As I mentioned earlier, I watched this drama on YouTube, but I also believe it’s available on the Mango TV app. But, if you are an international viewer, it might be available on the Mango TV app with some differences in episodes.

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Have you watched Only for Love? Is it on your list? Are you a fan of our leads? Let me know what you think in the comments below, and I’ll be on the lookout for your messages. I’m looking forward to discussing this drama with anyone who has watched it or plans to watch it.

And don’t forget to check out reviews of other dramas on the blog because I know you’ll find new drama recommendations and figure out if a drama is worth your time or not.

Read Next: 5 Chinese Dramas With The Most Shy & Adorable Male Leads (They’re So Lovely)Miss

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