Thoughts? It was good enough.
- Nicholas Tse as Hu Yan Da Zang. I really liked the character Da Zang. He seemed to be cold-blooded and ruthless through his actions at the beginning of the series. However, he’s the most honest among all the others stating his motives from the start. He’s not like some other pretentious heroic figures in here. Acting wise, I think Nic did a great job. Even if he’s not the best out there, but I think that he passed for this series. I’m not much of a Nicholas Tse fan but for some reason I feel that he was robbed in this series. Honestly, the majority of the cast has more screen time than him and Gillian. That’s just too strange. Yes, there are scenes of him when he first appears and all, but after that, it seems to be less and less of him appearing somewhat in the middle and then near the end.
- Gillian Chung as Zhu Er. As I mentioned before, I usually like the strong and skillful female characters more than the weaklings, but I really like the character Zhu Er in here. She’s very innocent and lively at the beginning of the story. Then she accidentally discovers her father’s secret and her life becomes so much more complicated. She suffers a lot and is forced to mature at such a young age. Gillian’s is a bit rusty at the beginning with her character transition but she picks it up as the series goes and really makes up for the rest of the series. Her portrayal of Zhu Er makes me feel sorry for her yet it’s not forced or over-done at all. Zhu Er has gone through so much but she becomes so much stronger later on. (There are various schemes where she’s overly worried for Da Zang but that’s understandable. She’s not whiny at all so I really admire her for that.)
- Patrick Tam as Zi Yi Hou/ Hou Feng. Although he’s not the most perfect character in here, he is a very interesting character. It is actually the mixture of good and bad that makes his character more real than any heroic figures in the other stories. He knows he’d done wrong in the past and knows that he will have to face it one day. He doesn’t hide from his past. There are delays of it, but because of other more crucial matters that they need to take care of before that. Do I still question Patrick’s acting? No. He’s good as always. He’s very convincing with how he portrayed his character.
- Zhou Li as Bai Yan Zhu. Although I have mixed feelings for her throughout the series but I must admit that I like the complexity of her character also as an overall. She’s stubborn and persistent in what she does the majority of the time but she does have compassion for the people around her. She could be rash or ruthless at times, but she still knows her limits. She’s not a perfect mother but she does whatever she could to protect her sons. No complaints about Zhou Li’s acting either.
- Qiao Zhen Yu as Fang Bao Yu. I might not like Bao Yu at various points of the story, but I do like his character as an overall. It’s great to know that he does eventually learn the skills to protect himself and matures along with the experiences he acquired from there on out. I think that Qiao Zhen Yu’s acting is really good since he managed to make me hate him at various points of the story for being so annoying and also to pity him because of all the burdens landing on his shoulders near the end.
- The other characters. Interestingly, the majority of the bad guys in here somehow realizes their wrong near the end and tries to make up for past failures. It somewhat highlights the idea of forgiveness. Moreover, it reminds us that a person won’t just continue down a path forever. They could turn back like in the casees of Bai San Kong and Wang Dian. Whether they deserve to be forgiven or not is debatable but it isn’t clear cut like that with “black” and “white”, but there are gray areas as well.
- The friendship/ brotherhood between Da Zang & Bao Yu. Yes, they’ve been enemies for the majority of the series ’cause of revenge and conflicts of interest. (And possibly love rivals at one point as well.) But I like it that they have this unsaid appreciation for each other as friends during the last few episodes of the series. It shows their great companionship while investigating and attempting to save Ben Yue. It sheds some light and paves the way for them to become friends first before dropping the big news on them – aka they’re brothers. The last scene where they finally fight side-by-side as brothers and Bao Yu actually says that he knows that Da Zang won’t abandon him in the final battle is nicely done since they’ve reached an understanding of one another – both as friends and brothers. (I actually enjoy the scenes where they’re competing to see who carries more water, etc. It was quite hilarious to watch.)
- The ongoing struggle between Mu Lang Shen Jun and Princess Tuo Chen. I know that there are great conflicts going on between the two after Princess Tuo Chen finds out about Mu Lang’s truth self, but dragging it on for the rest of the series makes it so lame and unnecessary. Yes, there’s a deep love between them that is hard for either one to let go but emphasizing it the first several times is fine. After that once too many times is just unbearable.
- The misunderstandings between Bao Yu and Ben Yue. I know it’s really important and I get why Ben Yue couldn’t forgive Bao Yu for it but the dragginess of it made the story so slow.
- Hairdos & Customes. It’s strange with how they did the hairstyle for Zhu Er/ Gillian near the end of the series. It’s just too weird. And I think the only person who could pull off the one earring piece is Ady An in Chinese Paladin. (They should’ve at least made the earring smaller for Annie ’cause it looks really disturbing more than create a stylish effect.) Another complaint is the hat piece that they did for Gillian at the beginning of the story is too modernized–not to mention the outfit. Lucky she’s not wearing that anymore later on. However, the hat got transferred to Annie’s character or something. It’s not as strange but I thought it’s still too modernized.
The first two factors above are actually the major reasons why Da Zang and Zhu Er has less shared screen time. It’s like they were so robbed as a couple because of other side stories. I actually enjoy watching Zi Yi Hou and Bai Yan Zhu more than those other two couples.
- Da Zang & Zhu Er (Nic & Gillian). They’re my favorite couple in this series (of course) because of how they were brought together and how they learned to appreciate each other’s company. It could be said as the typical hero with the weakling – as I like to put it. But it wasn’t typical at all in how they met and wasn’t as fond of each other at first because of how weird Da Zang seemed to Zhu Er. However, she’s a smart and considerate person, not to mention observant too so she came to understand him more. He also learned to loosen up with her around. They were randomly tossed together because of a misunderstanding but clanged onto each other later for support throughout the series. They actually complement each other really well.
- Hou Feng & Bai Yan Zhu (Patrick & Zhou Li). If it’s being broken down and analyze more closely, it’s very messed up with them. However, I think that it would be safe to say that she actually loves him–even if it’s 20 years late. She’s touched by what he’d done for her–always helping her and waiting for her, etc. (After all, she was forced to marry Bao Yu’s father in the first place and never really loved him since she was still thinking of Da Zang’s father the whole time.) It’s really complex with them to clearly say who’s really right or wrong. It’s really subtle at the very end whether they end up or not–probably did. But it’s acceptable in a sense that they still maintain their companionship.
- Bao Yu & Ben Yue (Qiao Zhen Yu & Yang Rui). They’re not my favorite couple at all but I actually like how they grow and mature–eventually as they went through obstacles. However, I have to say that it gets annoying at times, more Bao Yu’s fault near the end of the series with how he can’t make up his mind who to be with, etc. Yes, it’s trying to show his responsibility for Zhu Er as a friend but it gets annoying ’cause he apparently said that he cares for Zhu Er more than that during that one time that Ben Yue walked in on them. So how in the world should Ben Yue react? Anyway, they’re all right together since I don’t think I could find my favorite pairing for QZY yet.
- Mu Lang & Tuo Chen (ZHF & Annie). It’s funny that I actually like how their friendship was developed at the beginning of the series. Their companionship eventually turning into love, etc with their understanding of one another. Maybe it was because of their deep feelings for each other that actually lead to such tragic ending. As I mentioned before, they’re the other reason why Da Zang and Zhu Er get less screen time near the end. It got really repetitive and annoying. But maybe it was how they keep stressing how much they love each other and can’t live without each other that pave the way for the outcome, which was totally unexpected. He never seen it coming. Character-wise, not bad at all as a couple. Off-screen, freaky. Maybe it’s because he looks older than his actual age so it makes her look younger than him (plus the amount of make-up used on her).
It’s a decent series overall. (The ‘good’ comment at the beginning is my personal opinion but to compare with other serials, it’s considered decent.) It’s not one of the best serials ever made, but comparing to TVB ancient serials, I say this is one of the better ones nowadays. (Somehow I can’t feel the mood for the ones by TVB anymore. It’s just too cheesy and forced.) This one was more daring yet didn’t seem fake with making it tragic but that was just how things turned out to be. (TVB tries too hard to teach us lessons that it tends to get cheesy with their ancient serials nowadays. ATV makes better ones but they rarely make ’em anymore.)
Posted (on Xanga): February 23, 2009
Re-posted: Thursday, April 22nd, 2010