There are a lot of Chinese dramas set in the Republican Era of China in the 1920s-30s and quite a few are about Communist & Republican spies. “The Justice” is also set in the same time period in Shanghai but it’s about the banking industry. In the beginning of this drama, Cheng Yi Zhi (CYZ) is a dry food shop assiatnt who is too intelligent to be in that position. Basically he runs the whole shop without his boss who unfortunately has a gambling addiction so whatever monies CYZ collects from customers goes towards that addiction. CYZ is smart enough to keep a bit of the money, not for himself, but to help his boss expand the business.
During his free time, CYZ goes to a university library where he copies notes from books on economics, his interest. One day at the university, he hears someone playing the piano. He meets Wu Li Zi (WLZ), daughter of a prominent banker. One day, CYZ’s boss is beaten up by his debtors and CYZ goes to a bank to borrow money on the pretext of applying for a job as intern. He manages to convince the manager to lend him the money in exchange for deducting his wages, he has landed the job at the bank.
As CYZ is about to leave the dry goods shop forever, WLZ’s father goes to see him and in a hurry, leaves him a roll of film and tells him not to open it. It’s not known how CYZ and WLZ’s father knew each other and why would WLZ’s father entrust something so confidential and important to a shop assistant. That part doesn’t make sense to me. WLZ’s father is abducted after he leaves the shop and is assumed to have committed suicide, he has been framed for embezzling.
WLZ and her mother have to leave their home as all their possessions have been seized. They move into a small room and WLZ works in a mansion washing clothes but soon she meets an antiques dealer who helps her land a job at a bar serving drinks but her real mission is to gather information from the customers who are rich and influential people.
At the bank, CYZ shows how smart and savvy he is, he is promoted but framed by the manager. He manages to get himself out of difficult situations by uncovering the truth and impresses the bank’s owner, the powerful Boss Huang who of course hasn’t become wealthy due to the bank alone but by dealing in illegal arms and drugs like opium. CYZ is initially unaware of Boss Huang’s dark activities but after doing some work for the bank, he discovers just how Boss Huang made his seedy income.
CYZ and WLZ bump into each other again at the bar where she works. She suddenly proposes that they should get married and CYZ agrees as he had fallen in love with her at first sight when they met at the university. WLZ is just making use of him as she still intends to uncover the truth behind her father’s death. After they get married, they sleep on the same bed but don’t even touch each other as WLZ makes one excuse after another. Actually it gets ridiculous because she professed at the wedding ceremony that she would be a good wife, etc. etc. but she won’t even let CYZ touch her, let alone kiss her.
There’s a lot more going on than just the above. It’s an interesting drama because it isn’t the usual Communist vs. Republican type of drama. The only thing I find irritating is that WLZ has trust issues with CYZ despite all he has done for her. Anyone can clearly see CYZ would die for her yet she’s so on guard against him all the time, even after they’ve consummated their marriage. For a married couple, there;s little communication between them and each refuses to tell the other exactly what they have been doing. CYZ tells her he will help her and to trust him to exonerate her father but she takes matters into her own hands and even wants to assassinate Boss Huang when she finds out that he is behind her father’s death.