Drama ReviewDramaBorn to Run Drama Review

"Born to Run drama is a gem not to be missed. The story is so good that it keeps you glued to the screen."

Born to Run Drama Review

  • Title: Born to Run
  • Also Known As: 如果奔跑是我的人生, Running Is My Destiny , Ru Guo Ben Pao Shi Wo De Su Ming
  • Director: Shen Yan
  • Cast: Zhong Chun Xi, Yang Chao Yue, Xu Di, Chen Xiao Yi
  • Screenwriter: Wu Nan
  • Genres: Drama, Life, Family
  • Number of Episodes: 28
  • Date of Release: January 11, 2024
  • Original Network: CCTV, iQiyi
  • Where to Watch: iQiyi
  • Adapted from the novel: “Ru Guo Ben Pao Shi Wo De Su Ming” by Ji Jing Rong

Dear readers… I was soooo excited that I found a very good drama for your watch list. Born to Run is a must see Chinese drama released in January 2024, and I could not wait to tell you how much I love this drama through this review. Well, without further ado, this is the review of Born to Run. Enjoy!

Born to Run Synopsis

Zhao Xiu Fang and Zhao Xiu Li are two middle-aged sisters living a humble life in a small town with their families. Both have lost their husbands and worked hard to raise their children.

Zhao Xiu Fang is optimistic and cheerful like summer, but sometimes careless. Her daughter, Cheng An Xin, used to live a comfortable life. She is happily married to Qin Feng, a kind man from a well-off family.

Cheng An Xin is trying to make her overweight mother look better in front of her parents-in-law. She urges her to diet and exercise to lose weight, but nothing can stop Zhao Xiu Fang from her eating habits.

Born to Run Drama Review - poster

Zhao Xiu Li can be unpredictable, sometimes kind but often harsh. She tends to have a negative perspective on things. She loves her children, Chen Ruo Han and Chen Ruo Xuan. However, she shows favoritism towards her son, believing that he deserves more attention and affection. While Chen Ruo Hua, well… she could live on her own.

The seemingly harmonious atmosphere changed drastically after Zhao Xiu Fang’s 60th birthday. A car accident took Chen Ruo Xuan’s life, and Cheng An Xin lost both of her legs.

After the death of her beloved son, Zhao Xiu Li lost her will to live. As the only remaining child, Chen Ruo Hua had to help her mother get back on her feet, and she found out that being the one who receives Zhao Xiu Li’s love is actually suffocating.

Meanwhile, Cheng An Xin must accept that her dancing career is over. Her personality changes and she becomes a recluse who refuses to meet people or see the sunlight. Zhao Xiu Fang did everything she could to bring her daughter back to life and prove that Cheng An Xin could still live a meaningful life despite losing her legs.

When the future seemed full of resentment, helplessness and despair, could they hang on and start anew?

Born to Run Drama Review

To be honest, I did not expect this drama to be this GOOD! I did not have high expectations for it. Family dramas are different from historical, action, or mystery dramas that are filled with excitement. Family dramas are more laid-back entertainment, to be watched on a rainy day with a glass of chocolate and a blanket on my feet.

However, Born to Run was not an ordinary family drama. It gave me inspiration, ideas, and lessons to learn. As I mentioned in my previous drama review, I was also undergoing changes in my life. My doctor diagnosed me with hypertension and prescribed daily medication.

This was a wake-up call for me, as I always considered myself healthy. My daughter is still young, and I want to do many things with her, my husband, and my family. To do that, I need to have a healthy body.

I stopped staying up all night. I set an alarm to remind me to be in bed by 11 p.m., I exercise regularly, I stopped snacking, and I reduced my caffeine intake. It has been two weeks of living a healthy lifestyle, and I feel more energized and active.

But you know, sometimes the devil would come and I would forget to exercise or I would grab a pack of instant noodles. It is hard to change a habit that I have been doing for years.

When I watched this drama, Zhao Xiu Fang’s determination hit me hard. I saw myself in her. I am considered to be overweight, although I am far from Zhao Xiu Fang’s condition.

I love to eat because it comforts me. Zhao Xiu Fang also feels the same. She cannot control her eating habits and cannot stick to any weight loss program, whether it involves dieting or going to the gym.

I could feel her despair and helplessness when she realized that she could not take care of her own daughter because of her body. I don’t want to end up like that and spend my life in regret. Zhao Xiu Fang became an inspiration to me while I was jumping up and down following an exercise video on YouTube.

Born to Run Drama Review - poster 2

Zhao Xiu Li is a good reminder for every mother not to neglect her children’s feelings or use them as a tool for her own happiness. Parents should realize that the phrase ‘I am doing this for your own good’ can be dangerous for the family.

The lessons learned were not only from Zhao Xiu Fang and Zhao Xiu Li but also from the point of view of their children, Cheng An Xin, Chen Ruo Hua, and Chen Ruo Xuan. I learned from Cheng An Xin that self-pity can be harmful.

We must face the world, even when life is difficult because the world keeps moving forward. Chen Ruo Hua and Chen Ruo Xuan taught me that words can be powerful weapons that destroy lives.

Easy to Love Drama

But back to the drama. Born to Run’s pacing was quite fast yet the story was concise. Each character in this drama has their own strengths and flaws. Their characters are ordinary and realistic, and you might recognize one of them as your neighbor, cousin, friend, or someone from school or workplace.

The story is well-written, and packed with witty dialogue. It is truly entertaining. I cried a lot when they cried and laughed like madmen when they laughed. Although some actions were predictable, such as Qin Feng’s infidelity, but it did not bother me and I could still fully enjoy the drama until the final episode.

My favorite character in this drama is Zhao Xiu Fang. Her determination and positivity are contagious. To Zhao Xiu Fang, the happiness of her daughter is her happiness. However, although she loves her, Zhao Xiu Fang still scolds Cheng An Xin when necessary. More importantly, I could feel her unconditional love for her daughter.

Despite her careless attitude, Zhao Xiu Fang was willing to be Cheng An Xin’s safety net. But she did not lose herself under the title of mother. She made friends with others and enjoyed life to the fullest while remaining true to herself.

On the other hand, my least favorite character was Zhao Xiu Li, a toxic mother whom everyone would avoid. Zhao Xiu Li emotionally blackmailed her children. She could pretend to be sick or even go on a hunger strike to make them follow her wishes. If they refuse to obey her, she would accuse them of being ungrateful children.

Zhao Xiu Li was proud of her children. They gave her a sense of winning, especially when compared to other children. Chen Ruo Hua and Chen Ruo Xuan’s obedience and cleverness gave Zhao Xiu Li a sense of satisfaction. She believed she had done a good job raising her children.

I enjoyed this drama, particularly the part where Zhao Xiu Fang attempted to bring Cheng An Xin back to her life after the accident. However, I was less invested in the drama when Cheng An Xin was struggling to find her way back to her passion for dancing. Nonetheless, I found her interactions with Lin Tian Yu, a talented yet annoying character, enjoyable.

Born to Run Drama Review - poster 4

So while Cheng An Xin worked hard to dance with her prosthetic limbs, I focused on Chen Ruo Hua. This lovely and bright girl is a blessing to any mother. Unfortunately, Zhao Xu Li did not cherish her. Her relationship with Zhou Kaize showed how much she yearned for affection. She wanted it so badly that she took the first offer without noticing that Zhou Kaize was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Chen Ruo Hua loves and cares for her brother, but she doesn’t understand why Che Ruo Xuan feels that their mother’s love and care are excessive. Months later, she realizes the truth. But she has already fallen into her clutches. It’s painful to see her desperate efforts to stay away from her mother.

Dealing with toxic people is hard, but dealing with a toxic family is even harder. Her scenes broke my heart. I wish I could have been there to rescue her from Zhao Xiu Li’s emotional blackmail.

Flawless Acting and Performance

A good story cannot be fully conveyed without exceptional performances from the actors. The first actor I recognize is Xu Di, who played Zhao Xiu Fang. You may remember her as the unscrupulous and unreasonable Old Lady Cheng or Chang Shao Shang’s grandmother in Love Like the Galaxy (I also wrote this drama review and ending explained, you can read them here, Love Like the Galaxy drama review and Love Like the Galaxy ending explained).

I cannot think of any other actress who would be perfect for the role of Zhao Xiu Fang. Her exaggerated expression was top-notch, but I really admired her strength when she had to do the exercise scenes.

As a 65-year-old actress, she had to run in heavy makeup (I mean those enormous double chin) and layers of clothes (obviously she had things stuffed to make her body bigger), which made her dedication admirable. She also made me laugh the most. Xu Di did an excellent job in this drama.

Born to Run Drama Review - poster 5

Zhong Chu Xi, or Elaine Zhong, played the beautiful and slender Cheng An Xin. Her legs, oh my God… I ran out of words to praise her legs. She really had the body of a dancer. Moreover, her acting was outstanding. It was difficult to act as someone who had lost both her legs. Her pained expression moved me to tears.

And I remember one of the scenes she did when Cheng An Xin was taken to the park by Lin Tian Yu for the first time. A whole range of emotions, including fear, panic, and helplessness, were perfectly expressed on her face. It was truly amazing.

Hou Wen Yuan is my third favorite actor in this drama. I won’t praise his looks or muscles this time. Instead, I want to praise his on-screen chemistry with Zhong Chu Xi and Xu Di. Lin Tian Yu and Cheng An Xin are a perfect match. They looked good together.

However, I greatly enjoy Lin Tian Yu’s interaction with Zhao Xiu Fang. Despite their significant age difference, their friendship chemistry was amazing. His nonchalant attitude made me fall head over heels for him.

Born to Run is Yang Chao Yue’s first drama in 2024. She wrapped up 2023 with Love You Seven Times (read the review and the ending explained here, Love You Seven Times drama review and Love You Seven Times ending explained), where she played a little fairy who turned out to be a queen, Xiang Yun. This time, her gloomy expression really conveyed the feeling of an oppressed daughter.

The helplessness that turned into hatred and rage was visible in her expressive eyes. Initially, I believed that Yang Chao Rue’s face was not suitable for displaying anger. Her naive and childish appearance seemed more fitting for the helpless Chen Ruo Hua. However, when she became menacing, it felt forced.

Then it dawned on me that Chen Ruo Hua was forcing herself to be someone else. She needed a weapon to face her mother, so she transformed herself into one. However, Chen Ruo Hua remained a sweet and kind girl at heart.

Now, let’s talk about Chen Xiao Yi, who played Zhao Xiu Li. Her acting was so convincing that I found myself cursing her in every scene. I wished I could be there to scold her until she realized her mistake and cried. However, it is important to remember that this is a work of fiction and not a reflection of real life.

While watching Born to Run, I made a conscious effort to remain composed and kept chanting in my heart that this is just a drama… this is just a drama… this is just a drama…

Well Directed

It was no surprise that I fell in love instantly with Born to Run. The drama was directed by Shen Yan, a Chinese director known for his work on The Heart of a Genius and With You, a drama about the fight against COVID-19. He also directed The Rise of Phoenixes, a great historical drama that should be on your watch list.

The cinematography in this drama is excellent. The first thing I noticed was Xu Di’s double chin. She appears to have an extra chin and her body seems to be padded to make her appear larger than she actually is.

This reminded me of the 2022 film Oversize Love (read the review here Oversize Love movie review). However, I must say that the silicone mask used in this drama is better. The CGI used to create Zhong Chu Xi’s prosthetic legs is also very convincing. Two thumbs up for the director!

Overall, I was pleased with the collaboration among the director, actors, screenwriter, and production teams. Thanks to their efforts, I had the pleasure of experiencing a true gem at the start of 2024.

The Story

Born to Run’s story is about two families: Zhao Xiu Fang and Cheng An Xin, and Zhao Xiu Li and Chen Ruo Hua. Both Zhao Xiu Fang and Zhao Xiu Li lost their husbands years ago. To support her family, Zhao Xiu Fang opened a fried chicken store, while Zhao Xiu Li used to work as a teacher before retiring.

Born to Run Drama Review - poster 7

Despite their different personalities, Zhao Xiu Fang and Cheng An Xin are close. Cheng An Xin was a more realistic person than her laid-back mother who had strong optimism. Zhao Xiu Fang was careless, while Cheng An Xin always strives for perfection.

Zhao Xiu Li was righteous, traditional, and patriarchal. She favored Chen Ruo Xuan, the youngest, not only because he was a boy but also because he excelled in academics from a young age. Meanwhile, Chen Ruo Hua could only show her strength after she became a college student.

However, the bond between the mothers and daughters was put to the test after the accident. Zhao Xiu Fang was devastated when she couldn’t support her daughter, Cheng An Xin when she needed to use the bathroom. Due to Zhao Xiu Fang’s lack of strength, they both fell to the floor. Fortunately, they had a caretaker who could easily lift Cheng An Xin up.

Eventually, Zhao Xiu Fang made a bet that she could lose 50 kg in 3 months. And if she did, Cheng An Xin would agree to learn how to stand up. However, Cheng An Xin sneered at the idea, stating that someone who loves to eat and cannot handle weight loss programs like Zhao Xiu Fang would not be able to do it.

It is unclear whether Zhao Xiu Fang promised to lose 50 kg in 3 or 5 months, and whether Cheng An Xin promised to learn how to stand up or simply agreed to leave her room. I put aside the inconsistency in this part and focused on Zhao Xiu Fang’s hard work to lose weight and Cheng An Xin’s journey to face the world with her condition.

This bet led them to meet Lin Tian Yu. Zhao Xiu Fang went to the gym and asked if they had a program that could help her lose 50 kg in a short time, which seemed impossible.

Lin Tian Yu, who needed instant money, played a trick on her and convinced Zhao Xiu Fang to be his client. Since then, Lin Tian Yu has become her personal fitness trainer. He has taught her how to exercise and arranged her diet. Gradually, their relationship began to improve and they became friends.

Cheng An Xin already knew Lin Tian Yu because they worked at the same place. He is a rebellious dance teacher who often receives complaints from the parents. Cheng An Xin even thought that Lin Tian Yu was trying to scam her mother.

Unfortunately, Cheng An Xin’s misfortune was followed by a divorce. Qin Feng, who always put on a facade of being a good husband, turned out to be someone who was too spoiled by his mother and could not stand hardship. He met a colleague who shared his grievances, and they began an affair. Zhao Xiu Fang discovered the affair but did not inform Cheng An Xin.

At the time, Zhao Xiu Fang also concealed the fact that Cheng An Xin might never be able to have children due to an injury to her womb. The Qins discovered this and attempted to use it as a reason for divorce. However, in the end, Cheng An Xin requested a divorce because she realized that Qin Feng no longer loved her. Staying in the marriage was pointless.

The divorce turned out to be a good thing for Cheng An Xin. She started a new life and focused on herself, she returned to pursue her dream of becoming a dancer. Cheng An Xin became close to Lin Tian Yu, who helped her strengthen her body and to Qiu Huai Yang, her prosthetic technician, who wanted to start his own company.

Since the beginning of the show, I had a suspicion about Cheng An Xin’s husband. It’s like looking at someone’s face and knowing that they must have a bad personality. I know that’s judging, but I rather said that as a hunch that I felt.

Before the car accident, Chen Ruo Hua already had a bad premonition about her brother. Cheng Ruo Xuan failed in his last IT competition. He began to show signs of mental breakdown and was seen taking medication frequently. He told his sister that he could not stand their mother’s attention, but at that time, Chen Ruo Hua still said that she envied him because their mother cared so much about him.

After his death, Chen Ruo Hua tried to open Cheng Ruo Xuan’s laptop to find out the contents of the video he secretly recorded. However, she was unable to open it because Chen Ruo Hua did not know the password to access his laptop.

Chen Ruo Hua took her mother to her dorm, and they stayed there for half a month before her mother had an argument with Chen Ruo Hua’s roommates. Zhao Xiu Li had a controlling issue. She always feels the need to control her children and the people around her.

After living alone with her mother, Chen Ruo Hua understands how hard it is to be Chen Ruo Xuan. Their mother’s love is suffocating and unbearable. Zhao Xiu Li demanded that Chen Ruo Hua take care of her in the name of filial piety. She believed that children should be grateful to their parents and do things according to their wishes.

Zhao Xiu Li wanted to live with Chen Ruo Hua’s family after she got married, but she also wanted to be in charge of the family. Therefore, she made plans for Chen Ruo Hua’s future, including her future husband.

Chen Ruo Hua had a different idea after falling in love with her college friend Zhou Kaize. They wanted to take things slowly (well obviously because Zhou Kaize is a playboy and Chen Ruo Hua would do as he wishes). However, Zhao Xiu Li began to interfere in their relationship, even pushing Zhou Kaize to marry Chen Ruo Hua as soon as they graduated.

Chen Ruo Hua’s conflict with her mother was complicated, and Zhao Xiu Li was responsible for her insecurity and feelings of inferiority. Nevertheless, one thing showed that the mother-daughter duo were made of the same mold: their stubbornness is unmatched.

The inspirational drama ends well, with everyone learning from the past and finding a new version of themselves. However, the journey is rocky. With support from loved ones and caring people, the mothers and daughters manage to face the world once again.

The Characters

Cheng An Xin

Cheng An Xin is the most determined person in this drama. She has always strived for perfection in her life. If asked to do something, she would refuse unless she was sure the result would be perfect. Cheng An Xin has been proud of her appearance, body, and dance since she was young. However, she must now learn to accept her disability.

Born to Run Drama Review - Cheng An Xin (played by Zhong Chu Xi)
Born to Run Drama Review – Cheng An Xin (played by Zhong Chu Xi)

Cheng An Xin did not know about Qin Feng’s affair with his colleague until she signed her divorce certificate. Upon discovering that Zhao Xiu Fang had taken the shop from the Qins, she became angry, feeling used, and that her dignity had been trampled.

Although Zhao Xiu Fang could not bear to tell her the truth, Cheng An Xin was able to guess it. She still refused to take what was not hers. However, because her mother insisted on keeping the shop, Cheng An Xin took it as her debt to the Qins and slowly paid it back using every penny she earned.

Her character was honed through hardships, and she gradually learned to compromise and accept others. She also realized that her mother was her greatest supporter.

Zhao Xiu Fang

Zhao Xiu Fang is a passionate and determined person. Before the bet, she insisted that a careless life is her way of life. No one could convince her otherwise. But now Zhao Xiu Fang strives harder than anyone else, and it moves Cheng An Xin’s heart. It is clear how much Zhao Xiu Fang loves her daughter, as she is willing to make sacrifices for her.

Born to Run Drama Review - Zhao Xiu Fang (played by Xu Di)
Born to Run Drama Review – Zhao Xiu Fang (played by Xu Di)

Although Zhao Xiu Fang may not be as educated as Zhao Xiu Li, she is not easily fooled and can be cunning at times. Her creativity is also impressive. Zhao Xiu Fang loved her daughter very much.

However, she did not want to control Cheng An Xin’s life, nor did she demand that Cheng An Xin take care of her. Zhao Xiu Fang was willing to take care of her daughter for the rest of her life.

Chen Ruo Hua

Chen Ruo Hua is younger than Cheng An Xin. Their relationship as cousins was quite close, like siblings. Chen Ruo Hua also felt closer to Zhao Xiu Fang than to her mother, Zhao Xiu Li.

Born to Run Drama Review - Chen Ruo Hua (played by Yang Chao Rue)
Born to Run Drama Review – Chen Ruo Hua (played by Yang Chao Rue)

As a college student, Chen Ruo Hua is a smart and hardworking person. As a young woman, Chen Ruo Hua is sweet, and kind, but naive. Her inferiority complex was built over years of being scolded by Zhao Xiu Li. Chen Ruo Hua grew up with a mother but lacked parental love. She yearned for affection, and the first person to reach out to her was Zhou Kaize.

He made her feel pretty, smart, and valued. These were things she had never experienced from her mother, Zhao Xiu Li, who always belittled her by criticizing her appearance. Zhao Xiu Li sees Chen Ruo Hua as an unattractive woman who cannot find a good husband without assistance. Chen Ruo Hua has heard this so often that she believes it to be true.

Zhao Xiu Li

Zhao Xiu Li thinks she has been a good mother because her children are obedient and respectful to her. She frequently boasted about her children’s achievements and did not feel guilty about exaggerating their success.

Born to Run Drama Review - Zhao Xiu Li (Chen Xiao Yi)
Born to Run Drama Review – Zhao Xiu Li (Chen Xiao Yi)

For years, Zhao Xiu Li placed all her hopes on Chen Ruo Xuan’s shoulders and believed that someday she would stay with him until she became old. However, her hopes and dreams were shattered after he died, leaving her with only a daughter whom she despised. Zhao Xiu Li treated Chen Ruo Hua as a failure. She had no choice now. Her life depended on Chen Ruo Hua.

Zhao Xiu Li had a controlling problem. She had a strong urge to dominate everyone around her. She was a proud and arrogant person, and totally irrational. She refused to take the blame even when she was wrong. If she did apologize, it did not feel sincere. Zhao Xiu Fang is the only person who cannot be tricked or controlled by her.

Lin Tian Yu

Lin Tian Yu is a dance teacher, fitness trainer, and freelance worker. He is a carefree and unrestrained person who only follows instructions if there is a good deal of money to be made. At times, he is a kind person who is thoughtful and concerned about others. Yet at another time, he behaves like a ruffian.

Born to Run Drama Review - Lin Tian Yu (Hou Wen Yuan)
Born to Run Drama Review – Lin Tian Yu (Hou Wen Yuan)

Lin Tian Yu may appear tough on the outside, but he has a soft heart on the inside. He was deeply moved by Zhao Xiu Fang’s determination to help her daughter and decided to assist her wholeheartedly. Although he initially helped Cheng An Xin out of pity, he eventually developed feelings for her.

As for Qin Feng,

Should I write about him?

Born to Run Drama Review - As for Qin Feng (Song Yang)
Born to Run Drama Review – As for Qin Feng (Song Yang)

He is a spoiled mama’s boy who cannot handle hardships and is shameless.

I could not find any good trait in him, so be it.

The Conclusion

Born to Run drama is a gem not to be missed. The story is so good that it keeps you glued to the screen. The actors are outstanding and their chemistry is excellent. If you need something heartwarming to watch, Born to Run is the perfect option.

However, be warned that starting the first episode may lead to watching 10 episodes in a row. Remember to keep your water bottle full to avoid dehydration, as you may shed a bucket full of tears. One more thing, this drama may not be suitable for weekdays as it could cause swollen eyes, making it difficult to go to school or work.

Well, dear readers… Thank you for reading this Born to Run drama review. I hope this post helps you to find a good drama for your watch list. Please feel free to share your opinion about this drama in the comment box at the bottom. I’ll see you in another drama review. Bye!!

Iya Moyya
Iya Moyya
"A Chinese drama and movie lover for the past 5 years. I contemplate everything, everyday" - Do you like my writing? You can support me by clicking this donation link: Buy Me A Coffee ☕️, thank you!

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"Born to Run drama is a gem not to be missed. The story is so good that it keeps you glued to the screen."Born to Run Drama Review
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