Han Dong, Jia Qing, Mainland China Entertainment, The Deer and the Cauldron

The Deer and the Cauldron: Review

Like I said in the other post, one has to get past the first episode before deciding to actually continue or not. I continued on because that was me. After all, I did wait for more than a year so it was hard to just let go. Besides, I was curious what else was placed in.

This one actually continue the trend from DGSD in that it captured the story by the active participation of the characters during the actual events instead of playing on the recounts of other characters. Like how it was with the Zhuang family’s tragic event, they actually let the scene unfolded with how Ao Bai actually went through the whole process of presenting the case to the king too, not just some side discussions and then there were recounts later on. (Okay, bad example since in other adaptations–or the ones I did actually watch, they showed the events unfolding as well but only some glimpses here and there.)

Main Cast:

  • Han Dong as Wei Xiao Bao (韋小寶). After the first episode and then eventually the second, third, and fourth episodes, I decided to give up on him being Xiao Bao. NOT saying I totally hate it. I just feel that I’ll just watch him but his own version of Xiao Bao or more like Da Bao (大寶), lol. Because he was far from ‘xiao’, both age-wise and height. Yet Han Dong did make it bearable at times and enjoyable at others. So I don’t think his acting was terrible because his character in here was indeed like Xiao Bao in the novel on some levels, but considering the age of Xiao Bao in the novel, it just didn’t cut. So yes, after awhile, I have to abandon the novel and just focus on him. So when I got past with looking at age and height, I was totally blown away with Han Dong’s portrayal. I will admit that he sometimes exaggerated with the humor. But the rest of the time, I can’t stop laughing or keep watching on to the next episode. It was like addicting for me in that sense, trying to see what else he could do. (Even knowing what scene would take place next, it was still addicting.) What got me laughing so much was how they changed some of his style and made him used some deeper words to mock the people who came to cause trouble at the Shaolin Temple than his usual obnoxious self would use at other times. Then there was also some of his behaviors, not so over like how he was seemed so upset the majority of the time regarding some matters. Sure, he had his moments, but it was like the essence of the character from the novel coming out in here. There was a mixture of seriousness and humor, like it was appropriate at times. I like how he handled the situation with Jiu Nan Shi Tai, whether she deserved his pity or not. Yet he was sincerely helping her and trying to protect her (after the initial con), not just wanting to lure her away to save the king. He also worried for her. And oh yeah, I just love his taunting expression. It made you want to smack him in the face too. At other times, you couldn’t help but want to side with him. He was just too slick and amusing on many levels.
  • Wei Qian Xiang as Emperor Kang Xi (康熙). He indeed exuded a very royal image in here and was charming as Kang Xi at times and strict enough as others for the role of Kang Xi. He could also be humorous when time called for it. One of the most touching scenes with him was the part where he got to see his father again, talking a bit and saying goodbye for the last time. I also like how he sort of still treated Jian Ning as his sister and pleaded with the empress to spare her, telling the empress he would have some sort of solution to the situation so Jian Ning wouldn’t go storming in to keep bothering her.
  • Wei Xiao Bao’s 7 Wives: Yeah, he has 7. Everyone who read the novel know.
    • Zhang Meng (张檬) as Shuang Er (雙兒). Very disappointed in her hair. YES, even if it was on screen, I can’t even get over it. It made it even worse, because I could say it was the angle of the pictures at times when they released the stills. But it didn’t get any better on screen. I rather watch her at parts where she posed as the guy since I wouldn’t have to see the hair. Well, the back part wasn’t as bad, but the front part would be better off as curls, not that hideous bit. Whoever think it was cute to do that to her hair must be crazy. What else? They got creative with her character. It wasn’t the first time they switched up Shuang Er and gave her more story. They went all out and made her somewhat of an undercover agent at the king’s uncle’s place. Then later, she stayed to assist Xiao Bao from time to time. It was bugging me at times with the inconsistent of appearances like how it bugged me with Jian Ning’s appearance too early. But I warmed up to it later, so PHEW. I would hate to not enjoy watching Shuang Er and it would be a pity since I had loved seeing Zhang Meng as Shen Xian Jie Jie. What I really loved was the part about her posing as the ghost, it was hilarious and cute. But what got me laughing even more was how they made her not one of the servant girls for the Zhuang family yet she was the daughter, really? Then it got annoying again since she was appearing at the wrong time, especially the part where Jiu Nan Shi Tai appeared and it led to the part that it was focused on him and A Ke, etc, they made Shuang Er appear again and even the princess. So it was WAY off for me. And it was exaggerating things. Sure, I love Shuang Er, but things could be just too much. What was that with the wedding and all? Then he wasn’t afraid of the princess anymore that he wanted to offend her? (Really?) Um, I got it that they had to change Shuang Er up since they did change her character to being the daughter of the Zhuang family, but it seemed like less appealing than before for some odd reason. YET, yes, I wanted to delete the previous parts, but I couldn’t do it, SO I will say YET after I took a break and calmed down, I continued to watch on and actually got sucked into the story. It was possibly because of the scene in the rain and the song, etc.
    • Wu Qian (吴倩) as Mu Jian Ping (沐劍屏). Funny at first yet it made her somewhat of a fierce person later on as she appeared more. I didn’t mind that. But what I minded was how it made her having some side romance with Feng Yi Fei. Luckily, it showed that she wasn’t just obsessed with him but she knew that he’d lied to her about stuffs and was actually able to stand up for herself. What was even cuter and made me remember some scenes in the novel was how she wasn’t a doormat or too obedient to Xiao Bao’s words at times. Like how when they had the encounter in the palace at last, she was really fighting him. It wasn’t until she realized he would help her and saved hers and Fang Yi’s lives that she was a little gentler to him, etc.
    • Zhao Yuan Yuan (赵圆瑗) as Fang Yi (方怡). The switch had me disappointed too because like I said in the other post, I sort of have the image of Zhao Ke as Fang Yi in my mind already. However, that totally changed when Zhao Yuan Yuan appeared as Fang Yi. She was indeed strong and powerful and suitable as Fang Yi. I thought she really brought out the character quite well. I totally forgot who was supposed to be cast as Fang Yi in the beginning. What was surprising was she made me love the character Fang Yi, which was super rare (as I mentioned before in the character introduction post). What made somewhat of a difference in here and was a bit interesting was how she acknowledged early on that Xiao Bao was actually a kindhearted person, even if his mouth was running at times. (YES, she said it after Xiao Bao left that one time to think of ways to sneak her and Mu Jian Ping out of the palace, etc.) What was puzzling was how they sort of cut short the part where Fang Yi was involved with the schemes of trapping Xiao Bao and luring him to the Dragon Island. Not like I wanted it to drag out. But I was just wondering if because they had to film some scenes again that they decided to cut it or if their initial intention had been to cut that bit of the story short and focus on the other parts of the plot. Maybe, maybe not. But in a way, I was glad. Even if they sort of took the easy way out. Yet maybe they were saying like Fang Yi wasn’t able to control a lot of things. Like how she and Mu Jian Ping didn’t really get in an official goodbye with Xiao Bao either, except for just standing there and staring at him, etc. The later parts didn’t let her off, considering it was already once too many times. It made sense and in a way she wasn’t so passive about it. She did regret it but wasn’t becoming all pitiful either. It sort of made me respect her more than just plain play the pity card like some past versions. I don’t know. It felt fake for some reason, but this one, she wasn’t too trying to be pitiful in front of him when the actual confrontation came forth. (Well, the scenes where Hong An Tong was around was different since she was still supposed to be scared.) Or should I say some past adaptations either made it too pitiful and tried to say it was okay (even if we understood her situation), letting her off too easily OR just plain made her too WAY over. So I think the mixture in this adaptation made it my favorite.
    • Viann Zhang (張馨予) as Su Quan (蘇荃). They had to make her look older than Han Dong, which was a bit hard, lol. Yet it wasn’t too bad. As long as she looked older than the other girls, it was fine. She was seriously beautiful as Su Quan and also quite brilliant and powerful in her own way. Yet when she finally followed Xiao Bao, she seemed gentler, which made sense as well. Yet she didn’t lack in intelligence because the other wives needed her to calm them down when they were too rash with their decisions at times.
    • Loura Lou (娄艺潇) as Princess Jian Ning (建宁公主). Hilarious! She was sadistic all right. Yet Loura made it really funny and addicting to watch even. She was sure full of tricks. They focused on her a lot in here but for once, I didn’t mind. Although she wasn’t supposed to appear so early like that but I soon forgave them because of Loura’s portrayal. She sure made me want to keep watching Jian Ning and what she might be up to next. They also got Jian Ning in on many schemes, like sneaking out to see Wu Ying Xiong’s face (with the suggestion from her royal maid). It was just too hilarious to watch. It made me even more impressed with Loura’s acting. Strangely, she was the only one that I didn’t mind appearing too much, although I did say I was annoyed with the whole way off with the wedding scene regarding Shuang Er and Xiao Bao, but for some reason, I wasn’t that annoyed with her. Perhaps it was Loura’s portrayal. Sad, but yeah. Also, I loved that they included that she also got a chance to say goodbye to her father for the last time, even if he wasn’t her father. I mean since she was already appearing so early and all, it made sense to get her involved in those scenes too. Even if she seemed cruel and obnoxious at other times, but I think it made sense to miss her father and demanded to see him and say a few words of her own before they return to the palace.
    • Mona Wang Ya Hui (王雅慧) as Zeng Rou (曾柔). So cute! Anticipated her appearance right from the start. So when she was around, loved her. She appeared on some parts that were off too, but I didn’t mind. I probably am appearing to be quite mean for picking on ZM/SE rather than Loura or Mona, but it was hard not to since it was too much out on the tangent with the wedding and all. Anyway, she was less active at times but there wasn’t time so I had to forgive them. The later scenes after she had followed Xiao Bao already called for a little more time so it was nice seeing her interacting with the others without being monitored by her seniors, etc.
    • Jia Qing (贾青) as A Ke (阿珂). She didn’t disappoint. Finally a version that I could love A Ke from the beginning without getting petty about picking on her. There were many things that made more sense with the expansion on her story. The fact that they incorporated how she found out about Zheng Ke Shuang made it less like she was just following Xiao Bao just because of the baby. Well, she realized many things too, but I like this version better with how she realized how scary Zheng Ke Shuang was, and tried to escape on her own. Even if she was unsuccessful, but she sort of saw his true self exposed to the point of unbelievable, wondering how she could have fallen for him in the first place. The scene how she tried to inform Xiao Bao of Zheng Ke Shuang’s intentions though too late was also convincing. She exposed him to the max, which made sense with her personality, always straightforward and it fitted with her boiled up anger from inside as well. After being trapped for too long, she had to get it all out to the others, not just trying to score points with anyone or sliding by.
  • He Zhong Hua as Chen Jin Nan (陳近南). Wei Xiao Bao’s master and the leader of the Heaven and Earth Society. Um, he wasn’t supposed to appear at that one part and then on some other occasions. It was once again off. But since fighting was involved, I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. Regarding the actor, because he’d been in too many villainous roles, it was sort of hard to adjust, lol. However, in the later parts, I got used to him. He brought forth a different feeling to the character and was convincing enough in that sense.

Supporting Cast:

  • Samson Lai (賴水清) as Ao Bai (鰲拜). Once again the director took on an important yet short-lived role. However, he extended it a bit so it seemed like the character Ao Bai was fierce and ruthless and wanting to take the power from the king AND not just mentioned briefly at certain scenes. It was like the director refused to die so soon, lol. But I was laughing so hard at their attempt to come up with all the ways to attack him and take him down. And then eventually, realizing he was unstoppable, but not really.
  • Ji Chun Hua as Hai Da Fu (海大富). He was hilarious at times later. He was still creepy and cunning and unpredictable, but it made more sense that he tried to keep it under wraps with his investigations so he wouldn’t appear as suspicious. I found it funny that he was laughing at Xiao  Bao too about Xiao Bao having to sew the handkerchief for the princess.
  • Michelle Yim as the Empress. Very beautiful and suitable for the role. Loved how they focused on her costumes, etc. Michelle didn’t disappoint at all with her acting. Whether she was posing as the fake empress or when she had acted as the real empress.
  • Li Qing Xiang (李慶祥) as Suo E Tu (索額圖). Xiao Bao’s sworn brother. At first, I thought he was too serious. Yet I realized it was suitable because of how things were with taking care of stuffs for the emperor. Later on when they went to Ao Bai’s resident to collect all the possessions, his humorous side shown.
  • Anthony Lau (劉永) as Duo Long (多隆). Also Xiao Bao’s sworn brother in here. He wasn’t supposed to be yet they added this bit (or was that in version 3?) They made him funny–as suitable alongside Xiao Bao.
  • Liu Zhang Sheng (刘长生) as Xu Tian Chuan (徐天川). One of the wise elders. Could be hot-headed at times,  but only regarding to his situation.
  • Min Zheng (闵政) as Feng  Zi Zhong (风济忠). Supposedly a spy for Emperor Kang Xi so he knew a lot of stuffs going on at the Heaven and Earth Society. However, in here, he was portrayed as a person of the Heaven and Earth Society yet wanted the leader’s spot hence conspiring with many others, like Ao Bai for instance. Still later, he was also revealed to be a spy for the emperor. Or did he switch sides in here? It was getting too confusing with people’s motives so yeah.
  • Liu Chang De (刘长德) as Feng Yi Fei (风逸飞). Feng Zi Zhong’s son. A made-up character? I swear I don’t remember him. At first I was annoyed with him appearing and all since he didn’t exist anyway. But then he appeared less so I didn’t gripe as much anymore.
  • Liu Wei (刘威) as Qian Lao Ban (錢老本). Hilarious. Got into a bunch of schemes with Xiao Bao when he was trying to send Xiao Bao messages via hidden letters, etc.
  • Galen Yu (余家伦) as Taoist Xuan Zhen (玄真道人). Intelligent and knowledgeable. Often the voice of reason and calmness among the group. Yet ironically, he was later stopped by others with his somewhat rash behaviors. Wasn’t too bad.
  • Wu Li Peng (邬立鹏) as Mu Jian Sheng (沐劍聲). Not really making an impression for me. He seemed too plain for some reason.
  • Wu Hua Xin (吴华新) as Liu Yi Zhou (劉一舟). Cowardly all right.
  • Ren Xi Hong (任希鸿) as Wu Li Shen (吳立身). Righteous and loyal to Xiao Bao after Xiao Bao saved him that one time.
  • Lu Yong (卢勇) as Hong An Tong (洪安通). They made him not only fierce, crazy, scary, and cruel in here yet also somewhat of a pervert. Yet I didn’t mind since just plain pile it on, lol.
  • Wang Yi (王怡) as Mao Dong Zhu (毛東珠). The fake empress aka Princess Jian Ning’s real mother.
  • Lin Yi Zheng (林以政) as Shou Tou Tuo (瘦頭陀). Princess Jian Ning’s real father. He was too funny for me to take seriously. But I guess that was the point at some parts.
  • Gu De Chao (辜德超) as Pang Tou Tuo (胖頭陀). Easily conned by Xiao Bao after his initial schemes with the others.
  • Han Yin Long (韩银龙) as Taoist Wu Gen (無根道人). One of the people from the Dragon Island. One of the hilarious scenes I remember of him was how when Xiao Bao was trapped on the ship and he had to keep guard, making sure Xiao Bao didn’t make any rash moves. He kept saying “Don’t know” whenever Xiao Bao asked him a question. Sure took patience.
  • Feng Jin Gao (冯进高) as Wu San Gui (吳三桂). He looked fierce and cunning all right.
  • Jia Qing as Chen Yuan Yuan (陈圆圆). A Ke’s mother. Portraying another role in here, but it made sense since A Ke looked like her mother. Other versions had let the actress who portrayed A Ke portray her so why not? Also convincing, considering how Jia Qing had portrayed double roles in the past.
  • Samuel Koo/Gu Bin (古斌) as Wu Ying Xiong (吳應熊). I swear when he first appeared until several episodes later, I kept blurting out loud that I know him from somewhere but can’t seem to pinpoint exactly. It bugged me so much that I had to halt the drama like 3 more episodes later to check his profile. Then I realized who he was. Long Tian Xing from True Love 365. YUP! I remember liking him in there. So of course he looked sooo familiar. It was just that ancient setting versus modern. So now that I got my answer. It was a shame, but I think he really suited the character of Wu Ying Xiong.
  • Lin Jiang Guo (林江国) as Zheng Ke Shuang (鄭克塽). Um, although Xiao Bao called him “White Face Dude” (literal translation here), but I wasn’t sure if he was darker than Xiao Bao at various points. Mean, but I was serious, I was pondering. Anyway, despicable all right, and crazy like his master too.
  • Meng Fei (孟飞) as Feng Xi Fan (馮錫範). Zheng Ke Suang’s master. I had to get used to him being the villain. Those who watched really old movies/TV dramas know him to be taking on more righteous roles–whether just honest or at times playful. Yet I haven’t watched him for a long time now so I guess whatever, lol.
  • Wang Wan Juan (王婉娟) as Jiu Nan Shi Tai (九難師太) aka Princess Chang Ping (長平公主). The actress who portrayed her was seriously beautiful. They made her less fierce in here. Well, she could be fierce, but possibly trying to not go on a tangent for her too so made it less crazy on some parts.

Other Characters:

  • Jin Song (晋松) as Mao Shi Ba (茅十八). They made him appear a little more in here at the beginning and extended his scenes a bit. It was refreshing in a sense yet once again exaggerated.
  • Wang Lin (王琳) as Wei Chun Hua (韋春花). Xiao Bao’s mother. Hilarious all right. It was driving her crazy at the end with Xiao Bao’s drawings so she blurted out about him not learning how to read and write so they had to guess with the drawings.
  • Wang Wei (王薇) as Yin Hu (銀 狐). Her role seemed to reduce in appearance after they swapped out Zhao Yuan Yuan for her to take over. Yet it wasn’t too much since her character didn’t exist anyway so it wasn’t like it was too much of a lost.
  • Louis Tang (唐谨) as Wen You Yi (温有义). Hilarious.
  • Hou Rui Xiang (侯瑞祥) as Wen You Dao (温有道). Same, fun while his scenes lasted.
  • Roy Liu (劉德凱) as Shun Zhi (順治). Emperor Kang Xi’s father. Short-lived role but in a way it was all right.
  • Ashton Chen (釋小龍) as Master Jing Yuan (静圆法师). He was actually the monk responsible for training a group of kids special techniques to fight Ao Bai. It was fun seeing Xiao Long in a monk role once again and associating with Shaolin as well. I was laughing too hard because they got so creative yet it wasn’t too bad. They raised Shaolin up to another notch regarding martial arts and all.

Couples/ Friendships/ Other Relationships, etc:

  • Han Dong and Wei Qian Xiang as friends or enemies or just plain simple thinking at one time. Minus the fact that they were supposed to be the same age so Han Dong looked odd alongside Wei Qian Xiang, I could accept this collaboration. They were indeed hilarious at times. Then as the plot moved on, I got used to them more and more as a team. It was indeed funny at times and hectic at others. I could feel the conflict within them, considering their roles as supposedly emperor and just another person under his rule. Yet it wasn’t so. They tried to stay friends at times yet it was hard, considering how Xiao Bao already know Xiao Xuan Zi was the king. It was also a constant struggle with Xiao Bao trying to stay true to the Heaven and Earth Society versus the king. One of the hallmarks of their relationship was the scene in Xiao Bao’s cell where he begged the king not to kill his other wives and kids as well. He called out Xiao Xuan Zi yet wasn’t abusing it. It was a last resort for him in desperation. Finally the king agreed. So he thanked him, addressing him as the king again. Then what lifted all the intensity of the past scene was how Xiao Bao thought they were all dead and launched right into cursing the king for not keeping his words and the king appeared and asked if he was done. He was far from done, lol. He wondered if the king got killed off by the Heaven and Earth Society already and said it was deserved, considering how the king didn’t keep his words, lol. Hilarious all over again and indeed it was hard to kill his childhood friend so the king let Xiao Bao go but with another duty, just not keeping him under close scrutiny anymore. To the public, Xiao Bao was already dead so there was no point, just let him be with his family and protect the royal spot.
  • Han Dong and He Zhong Hua as Chen Jin Nan and Wei Xiao Bao aka master and disciple. At times, Xiao Bao was really sucking up with his master and trying to get out of the old man’s maintenance. However, I think the best part that captured their bond as master and disciple was Chen Jin Nan’s death scene. I have to say that scene sold me more than how some of the past adaptations had it. At this point, not only dialogue was well performed but also how the two actors acted the scene out. I felt it was too routine with the other adaptations. This one sort of made me feel it was real. The music also aided the cause. And for once (or probably stretching it by now, lol) but I liked how they didn’t make Chen Jin Nan chide Xiao Bao for lack of trying to learn martial arts or other things. Yet he just said that regardless of whether Xiao Bao knew those or not, Xiao Bao was still his good disciple.
  • Han Dong and Zhang Meng as Xiao Bao and Shuang Er. Under her character discussion alone, there were mixed feelings, obviously. Yet I think that I got over some of those exaggerations later on. Like I said, it was the scene in the rain with him chasing after her and telling her that he had liked her a long time already, etc. It was really touching. The song helped also. Although they didn’t have as much chemistry as him and some of the others in here yet their story made up for it. It really got me sucked into it, which I swear I’m very stubborn (as seen with past comments). Yeah, so I got sold with their story and sort of forgave them for extending that bit. They went even further by saying how it took Shuang Er for Xiao Bao to be so rash as to point the knife at the king. It was in his desperation but it showed how much he cared for Shuang Er to do such. Even the king was shocked (which made sense), considering how Xiao Bao had never go against him like that.
  • Han Dong and Loura Lou as Xiao Bao and Jian Ning. Already convinced of their chemistry in The War of Beauties, I wasn’t surprised that they once again shine as a couple. This time, their roles were totally different, especially her since her character had changed 180 degrees. I still love watching them and was surprised that I like watching them more than him with some others in here. Even when she was so obnoxious and out of line. Yet what I found cute with how he still tried to cheer her up near the end of the series. That was the part where she was saddened because the empress didn’t seem to care for her. He made up a lame excuse, but still attempted to cheer her up. Sure, it made sense if he were to ignore her like some previous version where she was cruel. Yet I felt this one, he was fair to everyone, even Jian Ning. What I found cuter was how she kept tugging on his hair each time they were discussing stuffs around the house.
  • Han Dong and Wu Qian as Xiao Bao and Ping Er. Cute. I didn’t know how they would fend though I did like the beginning story of how they met. Well, it was quite accurate with the novel so it helped. But their chemistry was still unknown for me until later. I found it was enough, not trying to be so dramatic on purpose.
  • Han Dong and Zhao Yuan Yuan as Xiao Bao and Fang Yi. Their story wasn’t really emphasized at the earlier parts of the story yet later it extended a bit to make it less frustrating of how Xiao Bao just forgave her like that. He brought up the past several times yet it was all for fun. Interestingly, the others sided with her, lol.
  • Han Dong and Viann Zhang as Xiao Bao and Su Qian. I think the addition with the side story of how Xiao Bao and the others saved her and gained her trust after the whole Dragon Island fiasco sort of add to the story, not just how he suddenly gained a wife because of the other incident. I felt it was hilarious too that she suddenly called him “Hubby” when he went against Hong An Tong.
  • Han Dong and Mona Wang as Xiao Bao and Zeng Rou. Was so ready to enjoy their collaboration again since I did love them in DGSD. She had less scenes with him versus the others, or it felt like so. But there were so many things going on already, so I didn’t mind that. I enjoyed how they were once again paired off.
  • Han Dong and Jia Qing as Xiao Bao and A Ke. Considering how their relations were in DGSD, I found it hard to imagine at first. But in here, they just jumped right into their characters that their interactions were addicting to watch. I was wondering when was the turning point and felt like that flowed nicely as well. Like I said in the character discussions, I liked how they made A Ke discovered more about Zheng Ke Shuang, not until like WAY later. That had seemed rushed for me with some past adaptations. So I liked this bit. I forgot what happened in the novel and will have to check. But this one totally won me over.

Likes:

  • The Continuance of Active Storytelling. It’s the technique I talked about at the beginning of the review, like how they would present the scenes and let it play out without too much recounts, making us see how each character had reacted during those times. I actually like this more than the passive recounts that it’s hard to grasp at times. Then the whole filling the gaps and explaining stuffs at times made it more convincing in a way. Yes, I was sort of feeling like “What?” at times because of certain lapses here and there, but other parts made sense.
  • Music. Like how DGSD was, I like how they worked on the music for this one as well. Loved the main theme and ending theme as well. Both were unique for its purpose, plus that one song during the rain scene between Xiao Bao and Shuang Er was really sad and touching.
  • Accuracy. Okay, take out the additions of stories, the essential scenes were seriously dead on. They even fine-tuned it a bit so it was even more flowing. I loved that. It amazed me even more.
  • Population. Seriously, sometimes in some adaptations, I feel like it was so weird. I didn’t watch the previous version, but some past ones have it so that it seemed like Xiao Bao was always by himself, especially when he was going out of the palace to do stuffs for the king. Okay, NOT the later parts, but some parts when he was still posing as an eunuch. This one, it seemed like he has people with him, like the scene where he went to confront Wu Ying Xiong about the weapons and all. (And I’m not picking on the parts where he sneaked out to see the people of the Heaven and Earth Society, lol. Since it was essential that he went alone on those missions.)
  • The fact that Xiao Bao seemed to care about all the wives–and they learned to get along later on. Yeah, it was hard to be all fair, considering how many wives he have. However, this one, he tried to be as fair as possible. Even if he joked at times and brought up the past, but he still made extra effort to treat everyone the same. Plus, how all the wives got along with one another and at times even ganged up on him. It was a riot. Serves him right, I guess. Sure, they were somewhat scattered at first, but later they even helped one another with stuffs or tried to work with each other to save Xiao Bao.

Discussions:

  • Should Han Dong and Wei Qian Xiang swapped roles? This was actually addressed by many before when the cast was announced. I just want to revisit this again after having watched already. Going into it, I was so seeing how Han Dong’s age and all was affecting it. However when I watched on, I think Wei Qian Xiang was already good as a the emperor. NOT saying that Han Dong wouldn’t look good being royal and all, but I felt Wei Qian Xiang fitted the role as the emperor so well in this case. If only Han Dong had taken on this role ages back, it would be great. Yet I liked their collaboration together so if it was years ago, maybe Wei Qian Xiang wouldn’t get this role? The gap in life and whatnot, but Han Dong didn’t disappoint me in acting, only appearance-wise that had worked against him.
  • Exaggerations/Additions. Um, mixed feelings throughout. At first, I was like: Really? YUP, I was that technical. I soon loosened up around episode 2. Although I was still saying “Really” throughout but I wasn’t as picky anymore. It wasn’t like I gave up on it. But I decided to see what else they could come up with. After all, some of the stuffs they cooked up were actually hilarious, not always throwing in soapy stuffs like someone and expect people to endure it. (Well, some people like those stuffs but I don’t, NOT especially when it wasn’t supposed to be a soap.)
  • Cuts. (Added February 24, 2017.) For once, I wished they had cut out the part where Xiao Bao raped some of the girls that led to other complications and how they ended up becoming his wives for real. YES, it seemed like I just plain slid past it when I did the actual review. I seriously didn’t want to put in negativity and/or hostility into the review. But I felt like I had tried to ease out of it just for the sake of peace–even if just discussing some plot. I felt I needed to go back and address it. Like I said, in the past when I watched different versions of it, I didn’t think much and thought that it was just following a scene from the novel. Yet when I finally snapped out of the robotic mood, I was just really disturbed by it. Yes, I will say I let that slide and used it as an excuse because of Xiao Bao’s background and how his rights and wrongs were morphed at times, like he’d done some stuffs with cutting corners and wasn’t that spot on with the whole traditional heroes anyway. But I felt I needed to address this fully. Although some of the girls already liked him anyway–and others were accidents. But I felt I shouldn’t let him escape this one, regardless. Considering how all the women present were unconscious AND I have to say especially because they were unconscious. That scene was placed in for comedic effect, but I didn’t think it was a laughing matter with taking rape so lightly. Even if that didn’t happen, I think eventually A Ke would warm up to him. And Su Quan didn’t deserve to be raped–regardless of how cruel she was along with her husband during some torture scenes (that had been cut back in here but it was in the novel and some previous versions)–and the way it was going on with this version, it was obvious she would eventually end up with him anyway. Although Jin Yong’s original intent in writing the novel was to mock and/or create a parody within the wuxia realm but I thought some stuffs could get so far–or way too far.

WHAT?!?! These are the moments I swear I don’t know what possessed them to put it in.

  • Mu Jian Ping and Feng Yi Fei? Like really? I like the extension of her story so she have her own side one. Yet with Feng Yi Fei? Really? But like I said in her character section, lucky it wasn’t just some obsession only. It wasn’t like she was that easily conned.
  • Shuang Er became the Zhuang family’s daughter. And what was weirder was how her mother said that she sent Shuang Er to accompany Xiao Bao because she wanted to forward the cause of their revenge. What? YUP, her mother said to her that it was Emperor Kang Xi’s fault and Ao Bai’s death was just part of it as a cover up. So having Shuang Er follow Xiao Bao was to have a better chance to kill Emperor Kang Xi. Nice? Yet later when I thought of it, it sort of made sense for this version. I meant not that I like the change, but since they made Shuang Er the Zhuang family’s daughter already, of course she can’t just follow Xiao Bao like that, under the circumstances. So they had to add in the the bit about her following Xiao Bao because of alternate motive. Since it was easy for her as a servant girl to follow Xiao Bao was part of the whole gratitude thing, but now that she was the Zhuang family’s daughter, how could she follow a guy around like that?

What about the ending? Seriously, I was stumped. I meant I was unfamiliar and somewhat troubled by how it was Shuang Er undoing his plan with trying to flee safely. Yet it seemed forgivable because the nature of Shuang Er’s background had changed and then how the story was led on with the king having to do with the deaths, but it was just a misunderstanding. The touching bit with the farewells with his wife sort of made up for it. Then the funny scene with thinking they were all dead already so Xiao Bao scolded at the king. It sure let up some hectic feelings of the previous episodes. What was funniest wasn’t the part where they all resided at that one place in peace. YET what amused me was how the setting of where they resided. I wasn’t feeling amused because of how things turned out since it wasn’t a bad ending. I liked how they were residing at a place that they wouldn’t be disturbed anymore. But the setting was where Han Dong’s character Wu Tao in Sheng Yi Da Dao Gong resided at. Nice?

If you want to watch and judge for yourselves, click here. (Note: Some episodes got mixed up or got cut off, might want to find other sources for those instances.)

*Images were captured by DTLCT

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