Reunion: The Sound of the Providence

captured by DTLCT

Okay, I watched this last year just like half of the population but didn’t review it yet. Yes, I actually watched it during the time it aired. What a miracle, right? But seriously, I didn’t review it yet because I thought I read the novels at long last before reviewing, unlike when I watched The Lost Tomb and came into this all blind. However, I had to halt the reading because I got busy with other stuff and also because it was too scary for my scaredy-cat ass to continue, lol. Then I just plain forgot about it. I ended up going back to it and then stopping again because of other factors involved in the story. I’m about 70% done now because of how many parts were involved and the mystery that ran on and on. And since I do not want to forget all the details of the series itself, I’m going to review it first and then circle back to add on later when I’m finally finished.

Anyway, this was surprisingly enjoyable. Okay, that was an understatement. Because I thought it was actually quite good. It had mystery, suspense, and humor rolled into one. I guessed that having the author himself being the screenwriter helped. Because as far as I read the novel, the feeling was about the same. It blew me away with how much the essence of the novel was kept.

Main Cast:

  • Zhu Yi Long (朱一龙) as Wu Xie (吴邪). He was surprisingly charming for this role. I’m not saying I hate him. I haven’t watching anything with him properly since Xiao Shi Yi Lang. Even that one, I had dropped it already and don’t know if I will ever come back to that. But what part that I actually watched of him in that one, he was really good with his performance. This one? It was like the character was made for him. I obviously read the novel after finishing the series (or tried to as said above), so when I was reading it, I actually imagine it was him while reading Wu Xie’s journey and it somehow made sense. That comment will probably seem like a slap in the face for the ones who root for other actors who had taken on the role, but that was just personal opinion because of the impression Zhu Yi Long made on me. So, not trying to start anything here, but just giving him the credit he deserved (and the rest of the cast as well for this review here).
  • Huang Jun Jie (黄俊捷) as Zhang Qi Ling (张起灵). I think most of us mourned it when Yang Yang lost the chance of showing the character’s truth essence in the other one (because of the cuts that a certain production team thought was appropriate). But I thought Huang Jun Jie came a close second when it came to this role. Or maybe even better because he had the chance to portray the role to its fullest extent. So when I read the novel, I also imagine it was him, lol. But he was so lovable in his own mysterious way. He was there when they needed him, regardless of how dangerous the situation was. It was admirable and touching.
  • Chen Ming Hao (陈明昊) as Wang Pang Zi (王胖子). Omg, he cracked me up so much. Who called it? But I guessed he did reprise his role from the other segment (as I looked up more info), so that said something. I thought he was perfect for Pang Zi. So random, so crazy yet showed a sense of strange loyalty to Wu Xie and the others too. By this time, they had been through so much already, so it made sense. What was hilarious was how he was wearing different shirts when he was home that got me going for a while, especially the Hello Kitty one. Who made that call? It was a hilarious take and showed a different side of his character. Outside, he was trying to be tough and all. But inside? It was another thing. But his sense of humor carried through for the majority of the time, though. So it was very consistent.
  • Mao Xiao Tong (毛晓彤) as Bai Hao Tian (白昊天) aka Xiao Bai (小白). Oy, what to say about this role? I actually liked her in DGSD and thought she was really cute in there. But this one? Mixed feelings throughout and then I eventually became annoyed. It somewhat had to do with how meaningless her character was. Yes, harsh, but seriously, I just didn’t see the point of her character, except to stick in a female lead for the show because possible viewers’ backlash if they didn’t have one or something. I don’t know. That was the feeling I got. At first, I thought she was an interesting character and could be involved in that deceptive web too, depending on where she belonged on the spectrum comparing to other characters. Because the majority were acting suspicious one way or another anyway. I thought because she was in Warehouse 11 and all, she would be much more awesome than that, which she did show at first with her analytical and leadership skills in the control room. However, she got reduced to some silly fangirl. I tried to get past that by paying attention to the plot and how she contributed to it, but just found her role unnecessary to the overall plot in general the more I analyzed it. Perhaps, people could say she was a connection to Wu Xia entering Warehouse 11 and then eventually making it easier for him to investigate some matters. However, Wu Xia had proven his abilities to convince people wherever he went, so with or without her, it didn’t make a difference. Like Xiao Bai didn’t make Li Jia Le or Jia Ke Zi hate Wu Xia less. He broke some cases wide open hence earning their respect eventually. If she wasn’t around, he would somehow recruit them on his own to go on that trip anyway. Or if he didn’t want to drag them into it like he said many times before with some people in here, they would volunteer when they heard or learn more of his journey. So yeah, she was just around for me, not really making an impression–even if she was boost to be the main lead.
  • Hu Jun (胡军) as Wu Er Bai (吴二白) aka Second Uncle (二叔). I was suspicious throughout, wondering if he had anything to do with Third Uncle’s disappearance. I swear, I suspected him more than Er Jing. Even if I thought Er Jing was involved, I thought he would have been the mastermind. How wrong I was, lol. Of course, I didn’t read the novel at that time, so of course, it sounded super silly to someone who already read it. And because I thought it was one of those cases of siblings rivalry again hence suspecting him.
  • Baron Chen (陳楚河) as Hei Xia Zi (黑眼镜). This was surprisingly the first time I watched him in a series although I know who he is. It’s not like I avoid him on purpose for some weird reason, lol. But I wasn’t even the least bit interested in his past projects. One time I almost could watch him but there was a cast change, so he wasn’t in that series anymore. So yes, finally watching him and he was really entertaining to watch. His character was mysterious at first yet turned quite humorous later. He didn’t lack in talent from various missions they were involved in either. Of course, considering the history that was somewhat mentioned later when they met up at one point, it was expected he would be as talented. Or he wouldn’t have survived all these years.
  • Maggie Huang (黄梦莹) as Mute Girl (哑女). She was an interesting character and actually ended up more helpful in their journey in uncovering the big mystery. She was actually quite cute too as time allowed for it. Aside from that, she was quite brave in her own way, trying to hold on and not cave to that despicable dude’s threats.
  • Liu Chang (刘畅) as Liu Sang (刘丧). He creeped me out at first and I just didn’t know what to think of him. I did want to find out more about him, so that helped with concealing some of the mystery about him. It was revealed that he idolized Zhang Qi Ling, so that sort of fused his purpose and made him want to prove himself even more.

Others:

  • Qiao Zhen Yu (乔振宇 ) as Jie Yu Chen (解雨臣). He didn’t appear much but played a key role in providing some information. It was disclosed that he was one of the key characters of the overall story. It was just that he wasn’t focused on as much in this one. I actually enjoyed this role of QZY–even if he didn’t appear much. It was a fun role, I guessed. He might have earned enough for some tea, lol. But nice to see him–even if really brief. Also, nice to see him portraying a sauve medic.
  • Yu Ming Xuan (余洺轩) as Wu San Xing (吴三省) aka Third Uncle (三). I didn’t know what to say. I think they toned him down on purpose in here, even with the recaps and some suspicious things he’d done in the past. Because he was ten times more cunning in the novel. Perhaps, because of how they were trying to abide by the rules and had to skirt around some stuff for airing guidelines or something. I don’t know. I’m just guessing at this point. But somehow, it skewed his character as an overall and made him more likeable in some ways.
  • Gao Qi Chang (高其昌) as Wang Meng (王盟). Worked at Wu Xie’s shop. He was playful and somewhat laidback throughout. Having such a boss who kept disappearing, of course, he had to keep some type of sense of humor, lol. Anyway, the interesting part was seeing how ZYL portrayed this character at one point–in disguise as relevant to the plot. It was hilarious and showed another level of ZYL’s acting. It was brilliant and showed consistency with Wang Meng’s personality.
  • Tse Kwan Ho (謝君豪) as Boss Jiao (焦老板). What can I say except he totally got what he deserved? All that craziness and schemes. All the wasted time and he got nothing in return. Well, he paid a heavy price for it all.
  • Wu Li Peng (邬立朋) as Jiang Zi Suan (江子算). At first, I didn’t think much of him except another complicated character within the web of deception that some of the major characters had to uncover. However, when his character was pushed forward into the limelight, his performance actually blew me away. Funniest thing was when I went to search for his info, I realized he was in The Deer and the Cauldron. It was just that I wasn’t really paying attention to him in the other one. Also, because of how he didn’t have much of a screen time, considering how that one went, it made sense with his character not appearing much. But when I went back and read the comment I made for his character, it was along the line of him not making an impact for that particular character, so I didn’t think much of him. Well, he sure showed me, right? LOL! Because for this one, it was really good. Considering how it has been several years now, of course, he had more projects under his belt and had more opportunities to take on other major roles, right? It made sense that he shone so brightly during his time in here. (Also, he was on my phone wallpaper for a while, lol.)
  • Liu Yu Qi (刘羽琦) as San Ye (三叶) and A Ning (阿宁). Um, I don’t know if San Ye was in the novel, because I’m still far from the events after A Ning died and what the endgame was. But A Ning was seriously unlucky. I don’t know if it was more frustrating to watch the series version of her death or read the actual accounts in the novel. Both were equally frustrating. Like seriously? The author couldn’t develop her character more so he decided to kill her off? I got the message that life was unpredictable and they were in a very dangerous situation. But seriously?
  • Chun Yu Shan Shan (淳于珊珊) as Chief Ding (丁主管). He almost won. I swear, he made a rookie mistake that he mocked other villains for. LOL! He thought he was prepared with trapping Wu Xie and all. So he was all happy and on his merry way of doing the monologue. Well, that was until Pang Zi woke up, lol. That was seriously priceless.
  • Ze Nan (泽南) as Lia Jia Le (李加乐).
  • Zhong Jia Cheng as (钟嘉诚) as Jia Ke Zi (贾咳子).
  • Fan Yi Ze (范奕泽 ) as Er Jing (贰京). Who had it on their bingo card that he was the one? Yeah, that was a surprise for me because I wasn’t paying attention to him. But I guess that was the purpose of having him blend in? Like he was like somewhat there, being helpful at times to Second Uncle but didn’t really stand out. Then bam, he revealed his cards. Well, I knew someone within the group was a suspect because of information leaking out, but I just thought he was annoyed with Wu Xie for running off and causing him having to take care of things according to Second Uncle’s commands, etc. I sort of had the feeling he was jealous of Wu Xie as well. But I couldn’t guess the scale of impact he had on the plot. So yeah, good one. However, he also made a big mistake by chasing after something so vague that made it laughable. But I guess that showed even the strongest villains had their weak spot somewhere.
  • Qu Ying (瞿颖) as Ye Piao Piao (叶飘飘). I didn’t expect her to die. I swear, I thought she would have made it through. At one point, I was scared that she would fall into Xue Wu’s trap somehow and cause trouble for Pang Zi and the others. She somewhat did misunderstand some stuff at first but tried to get away later. It was indeed tragic how things turned out.
  • Zhang Fan (张帆) as Xue Wu (薛五). He was really, really, really annoying. Seriously. So I totally enjoyed that scene when they tore up his house, lol.
  • He Long Long (何龙龙) as Huo Dao Fu (霍道夫). He was an interesting character, which might motivate me to watch the other one he was in. However, I wonder how much he appeared in the other one.

Relationships – family, friends, romances:

  • Zhu Yi Long, Huang Jun Jie, and Chen Ming Hao as Iron Triangle. What can I say? I loved the team. They were perfect. They worked well together and created the impression they were indeed the iron three. I thought the series (regardless of adaptations) gave more leverage to Wu Xia and boost him up a little more to the level of the other two. I thought this one even surpassed all the other adaptations with bridging the gap of Wu Xie’s abilities compared to the novel. Because the other two had to save his ass A LOT in the novel. Sure, he was smart, but he was just too annoying for me in some ways with his inactiveness. It was like he stumbled into surviving throughout either by others saving him or by luck. So yeah, it didn’t make impression on me as much in the novel with the golden three versus how different adaptations led us on. Also, the reason he survived it all was because he was the storyteller, he couldn’t die. So yeah.
  • Zhu Yi Long and Mao Xiao Tong? How about no? Luckily, the author thought the same. I was so scared that they would end up together–just because they were listed as the main leads in the credits. Mean, but I was so annoyed with her by the halfway mark that I didn’t want to see her anymore hence hoping that it didn’t turn into some soapy romance. I have no problem if they were to pair up for another drama, but in the context of this particular plot, I didn’t really like the idea. So yeah.
  • Baron and Maggie. I liked them. They were hilarious, but also cute in a way—as far as the plot allowed.
  • Zhu Yi Long vs. Wu Li Peng. This both had to do with the conflicts they went through as characters and also of how both actors had to portray someone else at various points. That part where Wu Xie disguised himself as Jiang Zi Suan to investigate on matters was totally unexpected for me but was also much welcomed with seeing how Wu Li Peng portrayed Wu Xie in the way that it would be consistent with how Zhu Yi Long had approached it thus far. Then later, he Wu Xie reused that identity to sneak into Warehouse 11 again. It was brilliant. What took it up to another notch was how Wu Xie had set it so that Wang Meng was disguised as him to throw off the enemy. Even if it was found out later, but that part was seriously convincing. I actually had to pause the episode and flip back because I was wondering why Wu Xie was acting that way and why he was eating a lollipop even. I swear I thought he was still inside the warehouse. I thought I click on the wrong episode in the playlist so I had to double check. Then as it moved forward, I realized what was going on. It was indeed nice to see. Both guys actually did really well portraying those scenes.

The Novel: I will come back later to wrap up because I’m not at the end yet but will approach it thus far as of my progress

  • So, which one did I prefer, novel or its adaptation? I think people would be shocked to learn that I prefer the series more. Yes, regardless of production, I prefer the series more. I’m not trying to stomp on the author’s efforts here. Of course, there would be no movies or tv series if there were no novels. But I think my preference was mostly due to the fact that it was told from Wu Xie’s point of view. His biases and his lack of action and approaches at times drove my patience insane (as mentioned above). Sure, it made sense if it was from his account because it was his “journal” as it was hinted in the title. However, I agreed with Pang Zi when he said Wu Xie thought too much. He completely lived in his brain and the fact that he needed saving the majority of the time made it so frustrating. He was like the weakest link and he knew it too. Yet that didn’t make it better. Perhaps, I was so used to his awesomeness in this particularly series itself, so it was disappointing–to say the least–to see him so incapable. The balance of strength and all was so uneven that made it hard to accept. Maybe it was because in the events of the series, he had more experiences so it made sense he was more awesome. However, I couldn’t accept he didn’t even progress as expected when I’m already approaching part 7 in the novel. Sure, he was indeed very smart and capable of analyzing various scenarios, but I felt he was just living in his head too much. If the others didn’t react fast enough, he would already be dead. Hey, I think I picked on characters like Wang Yu Yan or other female characters who were boring yet were quite intelligent when it was the female characters. So it was only fair when I called out those male characters who were in the similar category. Wu Xie had a sense of humor and at times his attitude showed that he wasn’t so one-layered. But he didn’t capture my attention as much as I would have expected. If it wasn’t for the overall mystery and what was going on, I would have given up already.
  • The political conflicts and other controversial views. This was one of the reasons why I couldn’t finish the novel fast enough. I didn’t want to go there, because I was mostly interested in the mystery of the tombs and the puzzles popping up. However, it kept being brought up so I will say that it was a turn off for me. It was hard to ignore with their skewed perspective. Sure, I know I have a skewed one too. I think this is a matter of how we’re all brought up and taught. But the bias was too much for me to ignore. A sense of pride and stuff isn’t wrong, we all have it. But when it’s so skewed to benefit a certain side, you know what their agenda is. Not to mention how it was portrayed their group was full of talented people and only they could do it. Yet others who weren’t from their side? They were considered talent-less, etc. Sure, it was mentioned a certain group might have the tools and technology, but weren’t as talented to figure it out with the mysteries. While that could be true in a lot of circumstances, but it would make more sense to have a variety of people coming from various places be experts on various matters, NOT just one group from a certain place possessing those so-called talents only. It was too much of a slap in the face. Or perhaps, it was taught from their perspective so they were considered the pros? I don’t know, but it was just too hard to ignore with continuous mantra.
  • Wu Xie’s biases. I know I listed it as the reason why I didn’t like reading or was struggling to hang on. Sure, it made sense that he was loyal to his family because it was his family after all. But his dishonesty drove me insane. He provided plenty of excuses for his people–whether family or friends. Yet he condemned that foreigner dude and made him out to be the villain? Seriously? Examples? There was always a reason for different people to do this or that–whether to rob, steal, lie or cheat. He excused them all because he knew them and provided the reasons–whether they were too poor, too desperate or whatever. Yet he thought that evil foreigner dude was despicable because he stole from his grandfather? Um, unless I missed something, his grandfather also stole the ancient fabric from a tomb. It didn’t belong to him. It was just plain karma that someone else lied and cheated and snatched it from him. So, was that foreigner dude despicable and vicious in his actions? Yes. But come on, stop thinking that anyone’s innocent in this whole tomb raiding business. And yes, Wu Xie himself, acknowledged those facts as well, many times even, but there was always the whole “but” explanation that made his family members or close friends seemed more reasonable than they actually were.
  • “It” as the main villain. Well, somehow along the way, the author decided to cast an unknown force to be the villain and that one foreign dude was just another pawn in the web of schemes. That cranked the intensity and mystery up. However, he kept unleashing questions and mysteries and all these ridiculous schemes yet never seemed to tie it all up. It was like he was milking the story and stretching it out as much as he could. Suspense could work only so far when you feed readers with answers, seriously. People are probably thinking I’m bitter hence being so harsh on the author. I was actually pulled in right away and ended up reading for several days straight to finish the first part (during free time because I have to do other stuff too, lol). But the hype just died down when it seemed like nothing was solved and the details just kept latching on to pull readers in yet didn’t solve anything completely.
  • The rich background history, culture, and other interpretations. This was probably the strongest point of the novel. The incorporation between different artifacts and history to the fictional world. It reminded me of both Jin Yong and Wolong Sheng’s styles. Jin Yong because of the in-depth history tie-in with the fictional characters and Wolong Sheng because of the various structures and its hidden secrets/ compartments, etc. It was indeed quite fascinating and intriguing. Also, I later realized why some stuff were eerily familiar yet just can’t seem to place it. Aside from the cultural context and the historical background, the rest gave me a major vibe of Jules Verne’s stories. Especially that of Journey to the Center of the Earth. Is this another attempt to break down the author’s world through my accustations? No, I just found it interesting. Also, many famous authors were influenced by other past authors before–or inspired by a certain genre. Or possibly coincidences. It wasn’t anything new. It was just that I finally solved a certain itching feeling so I thought I share.

Recommended? Despite all the comments I made up there, I think fans of the novel should check it out. (Because those were just my personal opinions and what type of formulas I liked.) Considering how the author himself did pen the script after all. It was worth it in the grand scheme of things. The reason why I started watching this was because of Qiao Zhen Yu. Yet his appearance was a grand total of three times, lol. But I was glad I stuck around because I was so sick of soaps—ancient or modern. I was glad to have a serious drama to watch. I’m not trying to stomp on other productions, but in past few years, the amount of focus on love stories had grown to an excruciating painful level. So, this was actually a gem within all those other ones.

Celebs Real Life Couples

Okay, I was just bored and wanted to start a list. But I will only include the ones I know for sure of OR care about somewhat. So if you don’t see your favorites on there, DON’T freak out. Also, I’m not including any past relationships OR rumors. AND–yes, this is the last one–I’m dividing them by region since I was getting a headache trying to group ’em one way or another.

Hong Kong

  • Andy Hui and Sammi Cheng
  • Angela Tong and Chin Ka Lok
  • Edmond So and Winnie Lau
  • Eric Suen and Macy Chan
  • Ekin Cheng and Yoyo Mung
  • Felix Wong and Leung Kit Wah
  • Frankie Lam and Kenix Kwok
  • Hacken Lee and Emily Lo
  • Jacky Cheung and May Lo
  • John Chiang and Lee Lam Lam
  • Kevin Cheng and Grace Chan
  • Leila Tong and Desmond Tang
  • Liu Kai Chi and Barbara Chan
  • Michael Miu and Jamie Chik
  • Noel Leung and Gary Chan
  • Power Chan and Mimi Lo
  • Roger Kwok and Cindy Au
  • Simon Yam and Qi Qi
  • Stephen Fung and Shu Qi
  • Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Carina Lau
  • Wong Cho Lam and Leanne Li

Mainland China

  • Benny Qian and Coco Lv
  • Deng Chao and Betty Sun Li
  • Dong Xuan and Gao Yun Xiang
  • Fu Xin Bo and Ying Er
  • Kevin Yan and Sunny Du
  • Qiao Zhen Yu and Wang Qian Yi
  • Tiffany Tang Yan and Luo Jin
  • Tong Li Ya and Chen Si Cheng
  • Zhang Jie and Xie Na

Taiwan

  • Alice Ko and Kunda Hsieh
  • Alyssa Chia and Xiu Jie Kai
  • Ann Hsu and Roy Chiu
  • Blue J and Sandrine Pinna
  • Blue Lan and Jade Chou
  • Calvin Chen and Joanne Tseng
  • Chen Yu Feng and Ye Jia Yu
  • Eric Huang and Jenny Lu
  • June Tsai and Lee Yi
  • Justine Ji and Wu Jian Xin
  • Leroy Yang and Jiang Zu Ping
  • Nylon Chen and Lene Lai
  • Phil Chang and Shi Yi Lang
  • Vic Chou and Reen Yu
  • Wallace Huo and Ruby Lin
  • Wesley Chia and Amanda Chu

Singapore

  • Christopher Lee and Fann Wong

MIXED

  • Ada Choi and Max Zhang
  • Archie Kao and Zhou Xun
  • Dicky Cheung and Jess Zhang
  • Gallen Lo and Sophie Su
  • Mark Chao and Gao Yuan Yuan
  • Michelle Chen and Chen Xiao
  • Nicky Wu and Cecilia Liu Shi Shi
  • Sonija Kwok and Zhu Shao Jie

*This list will be updated from time to time.

Top 50 Actors of 2015

(image credit: as marked)

Just saw this so I decided to share. These are the ones people searched for the most on Weibo, etc.

Translations:

1. Li Yi Feng / Lý Dịch Phong

2. Yang Yang / Dương Dương

3. Wallace Chung / Chung Hán Lương

4. Wallace Huo / Hoắc Kiến Hoa

5. Li Chen / Lý Thần

6. Hu Ge / Hồ Ca

7. Michael Chen He / Trần Hách

8. Hawick Lau / Lưu Khải Uy

9. William Chan / Trần Vỹ Đình

10. Chen Xiao / Trần Hiểu

11. Zhang Han / Trương Hàn

12. Ryan Zheng / Trịnh Khải

13. Deng Chao / Đặng Siêu

14. Huang Xiao Ming / Huỳnh Hiểu Minh

15. Lu Yi / Lục Nghị

16. Wu Lei / Ngô Lỗi

17. Lee Jong Suk

18. Kim Soo Hyun

19. Ray Ma Tian Yu / Mã Thiên Vũ

20. Du Chun / Đổ Thuần

21. Luo Jin / La Tấn

22. Lee Min Ho

23. Ma Ke / Mã Khả

24. Jia Nai Liang / Giả Nại Lương

25. Bosco Wong / Huỳnh Tông Trạch

26. Huang Bo / Huỳnh Bột

27. Qiao Zhen Yu / Kiều Chấn Vũ

28. Jing Bo Ran / Tỉnh Bách Nhiên

29. Ji Chang Wook

30. Wu Jing / Ngô Kinh

31. Nicky Wu / Ngô Kỳ Long

32. Tong Da Wei / Đồng Đại Vỹ

33. Chen Xiang / Trần Tường

34. Qiao Ren Liang / Kiều Nhậm Lương

35. Aarif Rahman / Lý Trị Đình

36. Zhu Ya Wen / Chu Á Văn

37. Ren Zhong / Nhậm Trọng

38. Liu Ye / Lưu Diệp

39. Yuan Hong / Viên Hoằng

40. Jin Dong / Cận Đông

41. Wang Bao Qiang / Vương Bảo Cường

42. Wu Xiu Bo / Ngô Tú Ba

43. Zhang Ruo Yun / Trương Nhược Quân

44. Wang Kai / Vương Khải

45. Zhang Dan Feng / Trương Đan Phong

46. Eddie Peng / Bành Vu Yến

47. Sun Hong Lei / Tôn Hồng Lôi

48. Wei Qian Xiang / Ngụy Thiên Tường

49. Ken Chang / Trương Trí Nghiêu

50. Mickey He / Hà Thịnh Minh

Legend of the Ancient Sword

I finally caught up with this one. Yeah, because mostly I never watch stuff in order and don’t want to be going with the majority just because. I finally watched because I really want to see Qiao Zhen Yu and Ken Chang. So, how was it? In a way worth it, in some ways, not so much. Yes, mixed feelings.

Main Cast:

  • Li Yi Feng (李易峰) as Bali Tusu (百里屠苏). Originally named Han Yun Xi (韩雲溪). This is my second drama of watching him. The other one, I put aside because I got bored, lol. (I actually finished this one before watching The Lost Tomb but finished the review for the other one first hence posting out of order.) Anyway, his character was initially quite lively but had turned quiet and repressed for the latter part of the drama. It was understandable since he had a lot going on and needed to control himself at times or be controlled by the evil thoughts. There were many frustrations going on around him and it was hard to focus on the goods. Later on, though, he learned to loosen up a bit and joke around. Yet, of course, he couldn’t escape his fate. Indeed tragic. In a way, I guessed that he had to die to end the curse, but I silently hoped that they would find a way. Yet they couldn’t, especially what happened near the end.
    • Huang Tian Qi (黄天崎) as young Bali Tusu. The kid was sooooo cute! I enjoyed the little scenes of him.
  • Yang Mi (楊冪) as Feng Qing Xue (风晴雪). I liked her, but she annoyed me when she got into the schemes with forcing Xiao Lan to marry Yue Yan. I clapped when Xiao Lan asked her what if someone did the same to her so yeahhhh. (She didn’t like Hei Yao either so why was she forcing others? Even if Yue Yan was her friend and she wanted to help, that was low, using her magic and all.) I eventually moved on since they were dealing with more crucial situations. I did sympathize with her when she was left alone to roam the earth, searching for Tusu to one day appear (if possible) and hanging on to a thin shred of hope. She was one of the few characters who had a lot of outfits to change out of in here, which was cool.
  • Qiao Zhen Yu (乔振宇) as Ouyang Shao Gong (欧阳少恭). He was seriously soooo awesome in here. His acting was top-notch. His character was mysterious from the start. He turned out to be cunning. However, I felt it was justified in many ways. Having suffered so much from backlash and surviving all these years, it was too much. There was too much anger within him. He wanted to win, even risking all those lives. But in a way, he was less fortunate than Tusu, because Tusu had so many people around him to encourage him on hence not turning evil completely. Shao Gong kept having to deal with all those lost and he only had Xun Fang. So after he lost Xun Fang (or thought he lost her), how could he maintain his sanity? He was the other character who had lots of outfits to change back and forth in here. What irked me (and possibly the majority of his fans) was how they used that hideous red outfit for him near the end. Seriously? Over-killed of recent–whether guy or girl. Yet the person who designed it wasn’t really paying attention either. Ugh.
  • Gillian Chung (鍾欣桐) as Princess Xun Fang (巽芳公主). Gillian had to portray two characters in here. Although it was only one, she had to act as the fake Xun Fang as well. Gillian did a nice job in here. She was convincing as both the gentle and kind Xun Fang as well as the cunning, fierce fake Xun Fang. Although I usually kind of find it unbelievable and often tend to roll my eyes at characters that seemed too good to be true aka goddess type, but I actually quite liked her. Not just because of Gillian. But more like only she seemed to understand Shao Gong and his pain. She was patient and caring, trying to get him to see the better side of the world. She couldn’t really change him (obviously), but wasn’t like others just looking at him with the ‘good vs evil’ concept and all those conscience lectures BUT she truly understood him. She wanted him to live happier for his sake, not for others. That was why I liked her, even more than Qing Xue (though Shao Gong had said that they were both similar in their kindness, etc).
  • Ray Ma Tian Yu (马天宇) as Fang Lan Sheng (方兰生). First time watching him and finally realized what he was all about. He was seriously hilarious in here. He was teased by others a lot both because he was the youngest among them and how he was spoiled by his sister. However, he later learned a lot and was able to help them. They still teased and joked around but had come to appreciate him.
  • Zheng Shuang (鄭爽) as Xiang Ling (襄铃). Cute. At first, I didn’t realize she portrayed one of my favorite characters from The Four, but after looking information up, I felt she was really good. She was matured and exuded a serious vibe versus the cute and innocent little fox in this one. Well, there were at times I was annoyed with her initially for causing troubles. But it was because she didn’t get it and thought she was helping. Later on, she became more and more likable. I felt so sorry for her for the ending. Perhaps, it was for the best since she didn’t have to suffer through the same trials as her parents. Yet that was soooo sad.
  • William Chan (陳偉霆) as Ling Yue (陵越). Before watching this, I heard good things about him. Or should I say fangirls were drooling over him? Now that I already watched, I finally get it. Not to the point that I’m drooling over him too. But I felt I understand why there was such a hype over him and how it became William’s breakthrough role. Ling Yue da shi xiong was awesome. Not just because he was good looking, lol. But he was seriously exuding this powerful aura. He convinced us that he was a capable leader. He was responsible and just in his actions. He was also quite protective of his junior, Tusu. He also wasn’t unreasonable (especially regarding Xiang Ling and mending his way after realizing she wasn’t evil, etc). All in all, a very likable character with many sides of him.
  • Ken Chang (張智堯) as Reverend Zi Yin (紫胤真人). He didn’t appear much and the cuts so yeah. But he managed to exude a powerful and mystic aura about him. Probably one of Ken’s dashing characters. His lack of appearance didn’t cause him to lose out with others. In fact, his lack of appearance had caused the audience to be even more curious about his character.

Tian Yong City (天墉城)

  • Chen Zi Han (陳紫函) as Hong Yu (红玉). A sword spirit. She followed Reverend Zi Yin after he granted her a human form and helped him guard various swords in the swords tower. Being thousands of years old, she was quite powerful and talented. She was also smart. She was probably one of the two people who suspected that Shao Gong had a hidden agenda from the start. Although she didn’t want to say it out loud at times, especially Tusu who was quite fond of Shao Gong. Yet her hunches were right. She was right about the traps for them. Oh yeah, since I complained up and down about QZY’s red outfit near the end, I have to comment on her red outfit too. Okay, going to sound ironic, but I actually felt she was the only one not being too over with wearing a red outfit. It had to do with her swords spirit and her name. So there, it was justified and it was nicely designed.
  • Dilraba Dilmurat (迪丽热巴) as Fu Qu (芙蕖). Liked Ling Yue and treated Tusu like her younger brother. She was the other one that didn’t bully Tusu during his stay and even aided him greatly. Although she did have her attitude at times yet wasn’t annoying. It was who she was, sometimes rash in her ways yet didn’t mean any harm.
  • Zong Feng Yan (宗峰岩) as Reverand Han Su (涵素真人). I felt annoyed with him at the beginning. Mostly because he listened to Ling Duan and didn’t really investigate stuff thoroughly. It was like he had too many disciples and didn’t care or something. But later, he finally yelled at Ling Duan for causing trouble, etc.
  • Hanson Ying (应昊茗) as Ling Duan (陵端). Annoying and despicable. He was even more annoying than some of the demons in here. He contributed to the majority of Tusu’s suffering in here. All that bullying and causing trouble all around. He so got what he deserved later on.
  • Cai Jun Tao (蔡俊濤) as Ling Chuan (陵川). One of the disciples that were in schemes with Ling Duan to bully Tusu, but later somewhat backed down.
  • Dai Zi Xiang (戴子翔) as Zhao Lin (肇临). Got killed off by Shao Gong when he was in the book tower with Tusu.

You Du and Wu Meng Spirit Valley (幽都與烏蒙靈谷)

  • Vengo Ko (高伟光) as Feng Guang Mo (风广陌) / Yin Qian Shang (尹千觞). One of the dark characters. Yes, he was funny in many ways, but he also had his own baggage to deal with. I felt really bad for him to have endured such punishments later on when he finally returned to You Du to hand the sword over at long last.
  • Liu Fang (刘芳) as Granny of You Du (幽都婆婆). I didn’t like her at all. Yes, not one bit. Even if she meant well and it was her job, but I find her infuriating in many ways. Once upon a time, she wasn’t able to keep her words and ended up wanting to kill Yun Xi. Then they weren’t able to defeat Reverend Zi Yin YET later she claimed that it was because they were reassured that he could find a way to restrain the sword hence not going after him for it until now. Really? Then there was the part at the end when Guang Mo returned to hand over the sword, asking for his punishment with being gone for so long. She punished him by making him stay forever to guard the sword. Really? It wasn’t like he lost his memory on purpose.
  • Jacqueline Li (李小璐) as Han Xiu Ning (韩休宁). Bali Tusu’s mother. Luckily she only appeared a bit since she wasn’t one of my favorite actresses since ages.

Qin Chuan (琴川)

  • Zhang Meng (张檬) as Fang Ru Qin (方如沁). I didn’t like her a bit in here. Even if I understood her perspective. It was just that it was so hard to sympathize with her. Especially the whole forced marriage schemes. It was beyond annoying. She didn’t like it that that one dude took her and forced her into marrying him anyway, why do the same to her brother? What was the difference really?
  • Zhang Na (张娜) as Sun Yue Yan (孙月言). I liked her initially. Until she caved in and allowed the others to trap Xiao Lan as well. So I didn’t care if she ended up alone or not, which wasn’t so.
  • Ji Yang (吉阳) as Cha Xiao Guai (茶小乖). Funny character. However, he showed to be quite righteous later on. One of the characters I was glad didn’t die.
  • Qi Wei (戚薇) as Ye Chen Xiang (叶沉香). Okay, maybe I felt sad for her for being used for revenge. But what about the other family that got killed off by her father? Did she know?
  • Yue Yao Li (岳跃利) as Father Ye (叶父). Ye Chen Xiang’s father. Again, he killed off the other family. What was he crying about? What made it right for him to kill them off and cry victim when others do the same to him?
  • Fan Cai Er (范彩儿) as Ji Tong (寂桐). The injured and aged Princess Xun Fang. I knew there was something mysterious about her from the start. However, I didn’t even put the connection together. I meant she mumbled some stuff from time to time after Xun Fang returned. I just didn’t put it together that she was actually Xun Fang. It was too obvious the other one was fake, it was just less obvious with her being Xun Fang. Yet it made sense when it was revealed.

Others:

  • Marco Li (李耀景) as Lei Yan (雷严). Okay, this is his umpteenth villain role so I’m not surprised. What I found really funny was how he thought he was in control of everything yet it wasn’t so. He was just a pawn for Shao Gong.
  • Jia Qing (贾青) as Chou Xin Rui (仇馨蕊). It was hilarious to see her in here. At first, that was. She was sooooo dreamy and made the scenes tenfold lively. It was hilarious to see her trying to teach Tusu acting when she handed him the paper, LOL! Then things turned tragic when the truth came out. Sad, indeed. But her appearance really contributed to the overall story. Hey, she made Tusu realized what he had with Qing Xue and to cherish those moments.
  • Wang Yi Miao (王一淼) as Su Jin (素锦). She worked for Lei Yan and tried to pursue Shao Gong by posing as Xun Fang. However, she so didn’t see it coming that he knew all along and was just using her.
  • Leon Chang (张云龙) as Hei Yao (黑曜). A cat demon, had a crush on Qing Xue since she fed him that one time.
  • Hao Ze Jia (郝泽嘉) as Hua Chang (华裳). Yin Qian Shang’s lover. She got killed by Su Jin after discovering the latter’s secret. Tragic.
  • Jess Zhang (张茜) as Jiang Li (姜离). Xiang Ling’s mother. Nice to see her guest star in here. I enjoyed her little performance.
  • Tong Tong (童彤) as Sun Yue Yue (孙月月). Sun Yue Yan’s nanny. Hated her. So annoying.
  • Yu Yu Ang (于宇昂) as Yan Mei (延枚). Hilarious. Appeared to be one of the town bullies YET it turned out he wasn’t so bad. He was actually a demon but got adopted by Xiang Tian Xiao so they ended up being sworn brothers, etc.
  • Tian Zhen Wei (田振崴) as Xiang Tian Xiao (向天笑). A town bully but turned out quite nice and righteous. He was quite hilarious too. His competitive nature drove him to accept the challenge in going with them twice on different dangerous journeys.
  • Ma Wen Long (马文龙) as Luo Yun Ping (洛雲平). He was a demon yet because he loved his adopted parents too much that he used the wrong method to cause others grave danger. Later, he ended up giving Tusu his special orb and died with his parents. Tragic, but an honorable character overall.
  • CiCi Liu (刘庭羽) as Nu Wa (女媧). Brief appearance but contributed greatly to the story.
  • Ren Han (任晗) as Octopus Demon (章鱼精). Hilarious! Okay, she was evil for wanting to eat the others, but what was hilarious was the part where she said the others were bullying her. (She had used the term ‘human’ YET had to correct herself and used the term ‘demon’, lol.)

Friendships / Romances / Others:

  • Li Yi Feng/Bali Tusu and William Chan/Ling Yue as friends/brothers/much more. They were one of the relationships I enjoyed watching in here. They looked out for one another and had this strong bond since little. Perhaps Ling Yue was making up for the fact he had lost his brother. But that didn’t mean he was replacing his brother. He truly cared for Tusu as a junior and had helped a lot throughout the years. In fact, he had been the one training Tusu all those years that Reverend Zi Yin had to meditate in seclusion. Tusu also looked up to Ling Yue like a brother and not just because he had to. Being under the same master helped because they only had one another. Even when they were out and about, they looked out for one another.
  • Li Yi Feng/Bali Tusu and Qiao Zhen Yu/Ouyang Shao Gong as friends/brothers/much more. They were each other’s other half–literally. Both suffered greatly, teased, etc. Yet one had more support than the other hence their chosen paths. The reason why they understood and sympathized with one another so much was that connection. I think that out of all the ones Shao Gong lied to and betrayed, Tusu was the one who didn’t deserve it at all. I’m not saying the others did. I’m saying that Tusu never suspected Shao Gong, not even an ounce. Yet he got this? So yeah.
  • Li Yi Feng/Baili Tusu and Yang Mi/Feng Qing Xue as a couple. I felt their chemistry was likable. It wasn’t strong like how I felt about their other pairings, but I thought it was likable enough that I thought it was cute in a sense. Their relationship was too emphasized using flashbacks so that sort of got me irked. Only the flashbacks near the ending were justified since it was their memories. However, some other parts were driving me insane. But I do get their relationship and felt it was touching. It was too tragic how things turned out for them.
  • Yang Mi/Feng Qing Yue and Vengo Ko (高伟光)/Feng Guang Mo as siblings. It was touching with their bond. She tried to find him (aside from Tusu) so when she found him, she wanted to believe it was him. Well, it was him, it was just that he didn’t remember. He kept turning her down until later. At least when he realized what was going on and said he didn’t mind being her brother if that was what she wanted. It turned out, they were indeed siblings.
  • William Chan/Ling Yue and Ray Ma Tian Yu/Fang Lan Sheng as brothers. It was hilarious. And touching. The moment when Ling Yue realized his brother wasn’t dead was quite emotional. Well, there wasn’t much proof yet but when he finally found out, he was more at ease because his brother didn’t get eaten by those men that he found near their campsite years ago. It was interesting how Xiao Lan was so attached to Ling Yue even before knowing of their relations. However, it wasn’t too over since he heard a lot about Ling Yue from others so he wanted to learn from the best. The funniest part must be when Xiao Lan made Ling Yue carry him. LOL! He had to make up for the lost time of not spending all those years with his brother, lol.
  • Ray Ma Tian Yu/Fang Lan Sheng and Zheng Shuang/Xiang Ling as a couple. They were funny and cute together. Perhaps she was just too innocent and only wanted to tag Tusu (but I didn’t think it was romantic feelings that she held for him since they were more like childhood friends–even if briefly). Even if she didn’t like him initially, but still managed to save him or try to help him at times. It wasn’t way later that she ended up tagging him instead yet he made the decision to be with Yue Yan. Their last conversation before going on the trip was really sad and touching. It was worth a few tears. OR maybe a lot.
  • Ray Ma Tian Yu/Fang Lan Sheng and Zhang Na/Sun Yue Yan as a couple. I liked them as in their previous life. That was it. It wasn’t because she wasn’t one of the main characters that I dislike her or anything. But like I said before; after she followed along with the others, I just plain forget about her. I usually like those ‘cool’ fate things, but this one, I didn’t care much for. Yeah, the ending turned out the best for her but I was choking too much to care. He was probably feeling guilty for letting his sister down and how it occurred to him that it was fate that he ended up with her again and how her jade piece had pulled them together and all. YET I felt like it was too forced. They (the script-writers) didn’t even develop a proper start for these two. Not that I wanted the story to drag even more. But was some vague past incarnation connections and some guilt enough? I guess it was since people back then were in an arranged marriage for so long that it didn’t matter anyway. I just expected more of Xiao Lan and how he finally was accepted by Xiang Ling, etc.
  • Qiao Zhen Yu/Ouyang Shao Gong and Gillian Chung/Princess Xun Fang. I don’t know this is their which # of collaboration, but I remember watching them in The Spirit of the Sword. They weren’t paired off in there but he liked her. They so matched in here yet their story was quite tragic. She didn’t appear much yet their chemistry was undeniable. They were the other tragic couple. Even though Tusu and Qing Xue were considered a tragic couple as well yet I felt they were luckier in that they still got to spend plenty of time together versus Shao Gong and Xun Fang. Although from their recounts, Shao Gong and Xun Fang spent a good amount together but still endured a lot more. These two weren’t really approved by others and having friends giving their blessings, etc. They only had one another. Okay, so that was probably more than enough but they were easily misunderstood. (Talking about the real Xun Fang, not fake one here.)
  • Ken Chang/Reverend Zi Yin vs. Li Yi Feng/Bali Tusu vs. William Chan/Ling Yue as master and disciples. I saw many fans drew pictures of them and all. It was fun to see. It also illustrated these three special characters and their relationships. I felt it was touching on many levels–though could be subtle at times, especially how some didn’t appear as much. I liked how Reverend Zi Yin only had two disciples, and how Tusu was an exception. It wasn’t like I wanted Tusu to endure the curse to be taken in by Reverend Zi Yin eventually. But I felt their relationship as master and disciples genuine since the leader had like hundreds of disciples but couldn’t keep charge of them all. This showed that quality trumped quantity. Their interactions were also quite real and didn’t lean toward overly dramatic either.
  • Best Scenes Ever: It was probably the part where they entered the Qin emperor’s tomb and encountered many traps and trials. It showed that each and every one of them had talents. It also showed their companionship and loyalty toward one another. Not to mention their bravery throughout. Their persistence and trust in one another were unbelievable. Yet it was quite powerful as well.

Recommended? There was indeed a good mixture of talking, fighting, and romances so it wasn’t too over. The variety of stories they learned of along the way sort of moved the story along as well. The soundtrack was just awesome and accompanied the series quite nicely. It helped majorly when the flashbacks were getting quite repetitive and too much. Although it was super sad with the ending for several parties, I guess it wasn’t the worst. At least the overall was enjoyable enough.

Liao Zhai 2014: Review

(image credit: as marked)

Story 1 – Judge Lu (陆判)

Probably the most anticipated for me because of Qiao Zhen Yu yet I felt disappointed in it. Not because of the other cast or anything. I surprisingly liked Alice Ko in here since she hasn’t really clicked for me in her past dramas. Then perhaps it was just the plot or strange characterization that made it hard to relate for me. In here, she was really cute and funny as Qi Ting and was cunning and creepy as Jing Lan. The same for Liu Dong, portraying two roles so seamlessly alongside Alice. However, the plot was just dragging on and on between the Zhu sisters fighting over Tao Yue Ming that it didn’t appeal to me as much. Well, Qi Ting wasn’t fighting with her sister, but it seemed to shuffle back and forth between the love story so I wasn’t as interested in it as I would have.

Story 2 – Heaven and Earth (乾坤)

Surprisingly good. I was having doubts about this pairing of Cecilia Han Xue and Chen Long. Yet their chemistry was quite good. I enjoyed their story more because of the combinations of the battle in the demon realm and how the story eventually played out. What was funny was how my mom (who is a major fan of Norman Chui) thought that he was just in here for some side, unimportant character that needed to be rescued. However, when the twist came around, it was indeed quite chilling. It was a nice twist though. He had to be the big, bad guy. How could he just stand aside and play some small role, right? Nice. Bittersweet ending, but it wasn’t too tragic. Well, it was when the ending was unknown. But once the last scene rolled around, it wasn’t too bad.

Story 3 – Heng Niang (恒娘)

The chemistry between Lin You Wei and Kimi Li was so cute. At least initially. Having done the translations for the plot summary, I had expected the inevitable. However, that didn’t stop me from enjoying their cute moments. How she hugged him when she finally arrived at the town. He was so happy and hugged her back. Then there was also the part where she tried to act all civilized and polite with the courtesy, so of course, she didn’t eat as much. It was so funny watching her trying to find food and then finding food at last. I totally sympathize. How could anyone eat so little? The cutest part was how he placed a cup of water/tea on the table. It showed that the person who prepared the special midnight dinner for her was him. So she hugged him, so touched. Only he would understand her. It was really cute and nice. He told her not to hold back since it was her house after all, so she could eat all that she wanted. Indeed, so cute. It was hard to see how he could betray her later on. Yet when the scenes finally came around regarding the betrayal, I realized that it wasn’t what was let on in the summary. There were many factors to think about. So in the end, I sort of forgive them for the mess. I felt that after all that was said and done, Heng Niang and Tian Fu belonged together.

Poor James Wen, once again had to play the bad guy. Yet I think for this type of short story, it was all right. He didn’t disappoint. After all, they needed to cut Lin You Wei some slacks, considering how he had to play some not so likable characters in the past. It was about time he stepped out of the shadow, right? Somewhat dramatic but was entertaining enough with a mixture of fantasies and all. Not to mention how they got past the ‘time travel’ thing! LOL! If only it was that obvious to cut out, right? Nicely done.

Story 4 – Lian Suo (连琐)

Hilarious. At least at first. Because of how Royce Wong’s character, Yang Yu Wei, was so freaked out by the ghost haunting his new house. It was insane. He tried everything but it didn’t work. He tried to reassure his brother that he was fine, but of course, he was far from fine. The story was quite intriguing at various points, with both sweetness and bitterness. Plus other very terrifying aspects, once again visiting the theme of people sometimes are scarier than ghosts/demons.

Story 5 – Ye Sheng (叶生)

Sad, so sad. But it wasn’t too frustrating. Okay, it was in a way since there was a little more time before the ending yet the main guy died. But I think it wasn’t for nothing. The prince grew up still remembering him and still referred to him as his father. Talking about that, I especially like the relationship between Medic Ye and the young prince as father and son.

There were twists and turns about the plot and the unexpected thing led others to realize sometimes things weren’t what they were seen. Even if you think you got the story straight. A very touching story on many levels.

Story 6 – Kingdom of Female Demons (夜叉国)

*Can’t find it, will go back later since I am quite intrigued by this story after translating the summary.

Story 7 – The Flower Spirit (花姑子)

*Might go back later. (If I can find it.)

Story 8 – Maiden In Green (绿衣女)

Interestingly my favorite story among all. I was just curious about how Bianca would fend and how the story would be. I also have doubts about her pairing up with Calvin Li. Yet they were awesome. I loved them from the start. Their story was touching and quite real. I meant aside from the whole fantasy elements, lol. I know, sounds ironic. But their relationship with living in the mountains and taking care of his mom as a family was quite nice. Then the other elements made it quite tragic. What was nice about it was how the Taoist wasn’t such an uptight, not knowing the gray areas–like some other stories in the past had led on. He was quite cool and knew that there were actually good demons as well, not just outright lumping them all together. At least, it was when he realized what was going on after the initial disagreement. What was a bit ironic about the situation was how she was the demon at the beginning of the story yet in the end, he was the demon. How could they work it out? Well, I guess they waited for so long, they would find a way to get past that obstacle as well. Not to mention how they needed her father’s approval too.

So conclusion? I think it’s clear that story #8 is my ultimate favorite. Then story # 2, #5, #4, #3, and #1–in that order. It’s because I haven’t watched the other two yet so I couldn’t place them. But will go back for those later and possibly change my answer. Anyway, I would’ve placed #3 higher but I think because of some repeated stuff, I want to switch it out. Although #4 was quite frustrating at some points too, I think the overall sort of made it worthwhile. Even if it was really tragic. Number #3, only found Lin You Wei and Kimi Li cute. Although the story with the fox demons was intriguing but also frustrating so I didn’t care for it as much. And I already explained why #1 is so low on the list.

Liao Zhai 2014: Judge Lu (陆判)

From a wealthy household, the talented Zhu Jing Lan (Liu Dong) fancied the new royal exam’s candidate Tao Yue Ming (Qiao Zhen Yu). Her common-faced sister, Zhu Qi Ting (Alice Ko), wanted to match-make the two. Yet because of helping Tao Yue Ming in searching for his birth mother (Chen Li) and other factors, causing them to develop feelings for one another. By fate, they saved Judge Lu (Yue Yao Li), who was responsible for overseeing the life and death of the human realm. Judge Lu, wanting to repay their good deeds, swapped the souls of the Zhu sisters.

However, Zhu Jing Lan found out that the person Tao Yue Ming had admired was surprisingly her own sister. To rob what her sister cherished the most, she didn’t hesitate with resorting to killing and framing others for the crimes. Zhu Qi Ting and Judge Lu were harmed in succession. A competition surrounding life and death started since then. Facing life and death, humans and gods were equally helpless. The only thing that could be protected was everlasting love.

Đại hộ khuê tú Chu Cảnh Lan (Lưu Đông) đối tân khoa cử nhân Đào Nhạc Minh (Kiều Chấn Vũ) nhứt kiến khuynh tâm. Muội muội tướng mạo bình thường là Chu Khởi Đình (Kha Giai Yến) có lòng muốn tác hợp hai người. Nhưng vì giúp Đào Nhạc Minh đi tìm mẹ ruột của mình (Trần Lợi) và những yếu tố khác, hai người đã phát sanh cảm tình. Nhờ cơ duyên, họ cứu được Lục Phán (Nhạc Dược Lợi), người chưởng quản sanh tử nhân gian. Vì báo ân, Lục Phán đem linh hồn của tỷ muội Chu gia tráo đổi nhau. Nhưng Chu Cảnh Lan lại bất ngờ phát hiện ra rằng người mà Đào Nhạc Minh luôn luôn thương mến là muội muội của mình. Vì muốn cướp đoạt tình yêu, Chu Cảnh Lan không tiếc sát nhân vu cáo.

Chu Khởi Đình và Lục Phán liên tiếp bị hại. Cuộc tranh giành bao quanh sanh tử từ đó triển khai. Đối mặt với sanh tử, người phàm và thần tiên đều bó tay như nhau. Cái duy nhứt có thể bảo vệ được chỉ có tình yêu tới chết không thay đổi.

*All information was from Baidu, and all translations were by DTLCT.

*All images were collected around the net hence belonging to their rightful owners.

Epiphyllum Dream: A Qiao Zhen Yu and Ady Reunion

Okay, I meant to blog about this ages back but kept getting side-track and then I totally forgot until now, lol.

This is an adaptation from a novel of the same name by author Chen Juan (陈娟). Another pre-modern drama on my list. Yet I don’t know, there has been quite a few in recent years so I couldn’t help it with so many people I like in one or another (or more). Willing to give this one a try since it has the detective aspect in it.

This is indeed Qiao Zhen Yu and Ady’s reunion since Tian Di Bu Rong. Hopefully, it won’t be a frustrating drama like the other one. For those of you who didn’t remember which role he portrayed, he was Li Fei Er’s brother in there, Su Xin Hai. (He died somewhere along the way because he was accused of killing the stupid girl’s stupid brother. YES, I’m mean but I’m still sore over that.)

Also, I almost fell off my chair after reading a certain post somewhere. To clarify, Qiao Zhen Yu was in the drama Legend of the Ancient Sword, which became a sensation for the first half of the year. However, he wasn’t the white-haired man as someone had mistakenly posted. That was Ken Chang. (Check my other post for more info.) Qiao Zhen Yu portrayed Ou Yang Shao Gong (欧阳少恭), the main villain of the series.

*All images were collected around the net hence belonging to their rightful owners.

Tian Di Bu Rong

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. If you DO NOT want to be spoiled, please DO NOT read. You have been warned.

So what about it? Hey, I was waiting for this one for a while so it was not like it was random to watch it. Though I implied that I was sick of this era’s costumes and stories but with such a cast, I had to check it out. (I’m a sucker for that, lol.) And did I mention I was sick and tired of those catfight scenes? However, IF there were cliched moments, at least the outcomes were usually not as cliched so it was something to look forward to.

The Four Women:

  • Ady An as Du Lan Yan. When I realized the little girl at the beginning was Ady’s character, I couldn’t help but think of the similarities between this and Autumn’s Concerto–though AC was after this. (Not to mention the change in the cast of AC.) Her father died and her stepmother wanted to sell her to the brothel, luckily her servant friend rescued her in time and she was able to run away. Oh yeah, there was also the case of her master being a pervert too and tried to peek at her when she was getting ready to take a bath. Her character grew strong later on to continue living YET I kept feeling this injustice because of all the tragic obstacles she’d gone through. She suffered so much right from the start–even when she was so young and did not know the world outside her yet. She was taken in and trusted with duties as the head servant, but was envied by one of the servants thus bringing forth troubles. Her suffering seemed never-ending, even to the last point of her life, she had to sacrifice for others.
  • Rain Lee as Jiang Yu Ping. Wow! Okay… Though it was another daring role for Rain but somehow after the initial scene, I felt like rooting for her after seeing how Annie’s character, Yue E, was trying to borrow some money from her. I rather let her help her lover than Yue E because that would equal to helping that pervert that ruined Lan Yan’s happiness/life. Then she fell into the trap that she set, which was ironic and made her character less brilliant or powerful. Rain delivered quite well with her performance. She was definitely scary in her plots and her ruthless killing rampage to get what she wanted. Though till the end, she never got what she wanted either. But it was funny that she fell into her own trap aka thinking she did not care less for Chao Zong yet she had fallen so deep and was willing to resort to any means to get him back by her side and then later getting back at him for what he’d done to her (though it was her own doing with fooling with fate).
  • Michelle Yim as Yin Xi Hong. Honestly, I was looking forward to another clever performance from Michelle–though her acting was wonderful, her role said otherwise. All right, she got the authoritative look and the elegant image, but her intelligence could be reconsidered. She failed to see past Chun Ni’s motives and was being manipulated by Chun Ni’s behaviors that made it hard to swallow. Yes, she only wanted someone with great care to details and having a gentle person around was more preferable than the loudmouth daughter-in-law YET she was not able to see past the fake exterior. Though they redeemed her character later as the story unfolded and sent the story into another path, letting us see more beyond her harsh ways and unreasonable demands yet it was still a shame. It was no doubt that Michelle delivered well with each scene.
  • Annie Yi as Li Yue E. I don’t know whether to clap her on for being so authoritative or scold at her for being so stupid. She thought she was smart to marry her maid away so her husband would not think of that maid anymore BUT unknowingly created a way for him to get to the maid and claim her as his. Supposedly in control and clever yet it was all an exterior and a joke. Or it was all a front to hide her weakness. It was not a surprise either that her character was done away early in the series since she was the weakest one–although it was implying at first that Lan Yan was the weakest. Her endurance level couldn’t be compared to others.

More of the Four Women:

  • Who won the prize for being the dumbest? Must be Yue E. She thought she was authoritative, clever, and effective. YET she was not able to seek out the truth or cared for it. She liked to be lied to so she got just that. It was a pity and super frustrating to see her victims being disposed of by her. She was so oblivious it was hard to believe that she was maintaining the family business. But it might be better explained as her being blind when it came to love YET her actions caused severe consequences to others. Yes, she later took revenge on her husband but she shouldn’t be given credit for anything since it was part of the others’ plot as well. She only wanted to do things for herself, NOT doing anything extraordinary like wanting to take revenge for other women. Nothing wrong with that since the dude was her husband after all, but I just want to say that it shouldn’t be looked as an action to redeem herself but more of something she wanted to do to secure whatever was left of her happiness. At least it did not drag long with the conflicts.
  • Who was the cleverest? I was aiming for Yu Ping at first with her scheming nature and being able to deceive others with her notable and/or respectable image since she was carrying on a secret affair with Chao Zong. But she made the mistake of letting Chao Zong go court Lan Yan with the intent of seeking revenge for her good sister, Yue E. (There was no doubt about Yu Ping being manipulated and deceptive regarding different schemes but that did not mean she was clever as an overall.) I only had one person left since I was waiting for Michelle Yim to appear, thinking that she was the clever person in here since the others seemed weaker or would eventually be broken down. However, I was wrong. Xi Hong was so easily deceived that made me disappointed. She, of course, would have no idea that such a girl would play such a trick on her, trying to please her to gain access into the Shen family. But I thought she would be more cautious considering how her family business was and how successful they’d become. So who was it? I have to say no one. Lan Yan grew and became strong and I do not doubt her intelligence but she was not able to take control of her life for the first part of the series and later falling to other fate so I didn’t want to consider that. She did not have the power like the others. Though she did prove herself capable later with the family business and household maintenance, she still was not able to control her overall destiny. Among all the other three powerful women, I expected more but they failed too to capture my attention in the cleverness department.
  • Who was the bravest? I have to say Lan Yan. Yes, she was the weakest among the four women, lacking the power or skills to defend herself. Yet she was the bravest to go through such trials at the beginning and how she managed to overcome all obstacles that were tossed her way. She was down at times–which was inevitable–and needed help here and there, but she faced a lot of tough things that others were not able to IF presented their way. Yu Ping was considered a daredevil in a way and should not be given the credit as brave. She did what she did because she did not care for the consequences. Yue E wasn’t brave to face the reality of things, such as what her husband did at first OR how she chose to be oblivious to matters and wanted to dispose of it as soon as possible. Xi Hong was a notable woman YET she was not able to withstand some things. That was why I felt Lan Yan deserved the title. She learned and grew, BUT that wasn’t just it. She endured a lot of pain through it, toughening up, and pulling herself to move forward each time. Her chance toward the end to prove her capabilities and showed her intelligence and bravery to strive on because of how she lost her child was also very powerful. She was able to turn things around on her own–with help of Leng Yun cheering her on, but through her courage and hardworking attitude, she was able to regain the asset of the Shen family again–without waiting for Chao Zong to come and rescue her OR anyone in that matter. Too bad she was not able to control her fate at the end. But her bravery should not be taken lightly.

Others:

  • William Feng Shao Feng as Shen Chao Zong. I wanted to dislike his character for being a leech and relied on Yu Ping’s financial help at times for his businesses YET it was hard to hate him as the story unfolded. There were often mix feelings at times yet there was no definite line as to his character. He was convincing as the manipulative guy at first but was also persuasive as the pitiful guy later on. There was this complexity to his character that was hard to grasp at times, which made his character different from the other guys in here. Probably because he was scheming in his own nature and loved games so he was experienced, but I really liked that he was the only one who was able to see past and observe from a distance what was going on in Lan Yan’s life and what really happened, knowing she was the victim, not like the others who were scolding at Lan Yan at first. It was a bit disappointing though that he was like any other man who had a BIG FAT ego and wanted to be the hero all the time. He did not care to acknowledge Lan Yan’s talent and abilities to run the house. Nor did he care to acknowledge that she had lost so much so now she was fighting back. He only cared about his own reputation. Yet it soon passed and showed us that he was not like that or did not mean it. He valued his family–although how messed up they seemed to be–so he thought Lan Yan was chasing them all away for her benefit. Perhaps, it had to remind us from time to time that he was human and his character was often switching back and forth in conflicts. It was not easy being him. His life was always so colorful–even if he had caused half of the troubles himself.
  • Mickey He as Leng Yun. Lan Yan’s childhood friend. The second cutest guy in here and his intro scene was equally cool. It was strange that Xin He should meet him before he was able to reunite with Lan Yan. I don’t know whether to say he was an honest person and a considerate person, always putting others’ life before him OR call him dumb. Since he let go of Lan Yan just like that to let Da You had his way. Yes, he wanted to repay Da You and he was definitely caring about Lan Yan’s future but he did not know that he had pushed her to the pit. Yet later I got past that and maintained my positive attitude toward him. He was always so righteous and so honest that he might be caring for others too much and put himself last (almost like Lan Yan). He was very supportive of others and always did his best to help. A great guy overall.
  • Qiao Zhen Yu as Su Xin Hai. Xin He’s older brother. Though he seemed careless and not attentive to details hence running into trouble with his previous job, I thought he was very observant regarding how he asked regarding Lan Yan’s bruises when they bumped into Lan Yan that one time. Unlike his sister, he did not form an opinion immediately BUT just bring up possible topics for discussion with Leng Yun, not jumping to conclusions. Yes, he commented that IF those rumors were true, then Da You must be hard to live with, etc BUT he did not play the blame game right away. He was already biased toward Da You because of Wu Shuang, but he did not stress strongly. Though acting out of rashness and wanting to take revenge for Lan Yan thus losing his job again, but I felt that scene was a hallmark for his character. Yes, he shouldn’t have done that since he had sacrificed his job BUT it showed a strong sense of righteousness that his character possessed and it drove the rest of the plot forward, freeing Lan Yan, etc. And yet he had to pay such a heavy price for his life. Qiao Zhen Yu delivered once again, this time as an honest guy. Xin Hai was careless at times yet had a kind heart.
  • Li Fei Er as Su Xin He. Lan Yan’s best friend and seemed as a witty servant at her intro scene. I honestly thought that her character had been ruined on purpose to garner more dramatic scenes toward the end. Honestly, she was very clever at first yet she seemed possessed later on with her actions, especially after Shao Yu died. Yes, she was trained by Yu Ping and was heavily influenced by it, but it gave her no reason to act that way. I felt there was this fake exterior to her by the time the series reached its ending. It was like she was portrayed as the intelligent, cautious, and gentle person at first but as the story moved forth, it seemed all fake that she was being supportive toward Lan Yan or believing others too quickly. Yes, she was shocked when she found out a certain part like she thought Lan Yan was cheating on Da You at first BUT she was Lan Yan’s best friend, shouldn’t she let Lan Yan explain? It was like all empty talk. She redeemed herself but it seemed her character had lost some witty element to it. She was just like others who used their eyes to see, not their hearts to listen. The whole scene of the misunderstanding with Shao You was also ridiculous since she was the one who initiated the whole caring for Leng Yun too much YET she made it like Shao You was responsible when she was demonstrating in front of them (i.e. wiping the sweats for Leng Yun that one time). Oh yeah, the thing with how she believed Yu Ping so fast and learned from Yu Ping was crazy too. It could be said that she wanted revenge for her husband and all BUT her actions made it unforgivable since she clearly knew what was right and wrong from the start–at least it was led on her morality was strong. Yet she let that one girl died so she could reach her goal. I thought that by the time she learned that her brother was actually killed by Yu Ping, she would stop BUT she did not. It seemed like it was too late. She had gone too far, been poisoned by Yu Ping too much to return. I thought her sibling bonding with her brother would stop her but it didn’t. So I had two conclusions regarding her contradicting actions at various points of the series: (1) her character had been sacrificed for the dramatic purposes of the plot–like I pointed out earlier, or (2) it was all a fake exterior, in the beginning, to deceive us into thinking she was a goody-good girl.
  • Deng Jia Jia as Kuang Chun Ni. Another despicable character and probably the most responsible for driving Lan Yan’s life into the worst. She was jealous of Lan Yan thus causing troubles and indirectly driving Lan Yan to the worst fate imagined. I felt that it wasn’t like she wasn’t pretty OR anything, she looked great with the off-screen pictures BUT the production team made her hair looked so strange and the makeup was overdone or it seemed like a bunch of smudges, not bringing out her gorgeous side at all. I thought her acting was really good. I did not realize it at first since she was just some annoying character to me. But her transition to knowing only of her baby and taking things simply made it quite convincing contrary to her fierce actions from before. She brought those expressions out really well. I wouldn’t believe it if someone had told me beforehand that she would make peace with Lan Yan later but watching it made it convincing enough.
  • Zheng Guo Lin as Jiang Shao You. I didn’t like him at first and was on the edge of hating too because he was causing troubles for Xin Hai and Xin He. Not to mention how he was gambling away the family fortune. Yet in the later episodes, it showed that he was a kind person who was willing to use his money to help the homeless kids and also find time to play with them. Perhaps his death was the most tragic–after Xin Hai’s–since he suffered so much with all those burn marks trying to save Yu Ping–a person he respected and thought was his only relative–yet he died by her hands because she did not want him to become her baggage. It was so sad to watch his life slipping away just like that. He was betrayed by the person he trusted the most and he was always so innocent, always believing her and treating her like a real family.
  • Wilson Guo as Lu Da You. I don’t know whether to despise him or to pity him. Since his heroic actions were seen when he leaped into the burning house to save Leng Yun YET was forced to obey to that one despicable man. Perhaps he should not be blamed as much since his sister’s life/happiness was at stake. BUT still, that was a cruel thing to do to Lan Yan. What was even more despicable about him was how he kept crying out with his pitiful tones that caused others to sympathize with him and disregarding Lan Yan, thinking that she was the one at fault. IF he was so brave, he would have fought back (even IF he couldn’t win) and not take it out on Lan Yan and play the pitiful card. He can’t tell others what was going on since he needed to save some face left for himself, not wanting to air his problems for others to see BUT he was not capable of fighting his own battle that made it more frustrating. What was even more of a bigger joke was him telling others that it was his house and they shouldn’t kick him out at the scene where the others were trying to resurrect Lan Yan. It was true that it was his house, YET it was a joke because he never defended the house or was able to protect his family in the first place SO he could not say anything. The fact that he kept criticizing others for their lack of occupation or incapable of providing for others made it too ironic since he had a house and had an occupation BUT was not brave enough to OR was not capable of protecting his wife and sister in the first place. Who was he to criticize Leng Yun or Xin Hai? Perhaps his death was the part that almost everyone was looking forward to because it moved forward the plot even more, releasing Lan Yan finally. However, it was also the cause of Xin Hai’s death, which was really ironic. It was like he had to bring along Xin Hai as well.
  • Xiao Yu Yu as Lu Wu Shuang. I just don’t like how they did the makeup and hairstyle for her. It made her image more annoying than cute. It was hard to get past the style to like her character. It got better with her character development later and I tried to see past the hairstyle they gave her so it was all right. But the production team should be more careful in that area since I felt she was somehow robbed, not having the youthful and cute look as her role was supposed to be. Though I must say that she was bearable at times but I was not able to forgive her for killing Xin Hai. YES, she misunderstood and thought that he killed her brother YET she did not trust him enough OR understand him enough. She said that she loved him BUT I felt it was too much of a joke. Yes, she died with him BUT it was stupid. She chose NOT to believe him YET she chose to die with him? I don’t get that logic. It wasn’t like she was so good to her brother or they got along so well. YES, she did lend him the remaining of the money in order for him to ask for Lan Yan’s hand in marriage with Yue E at the beginning, BUT their bonding seemed a joke the rest of the time. It was normal that they fight BUT I thought it wasn’t strong enough for her to get so emotional over things. She seemed to care about Xin Hai more than her brother at first SO it was ridiculous that she did not believe him (Xin Hai). She should know Xin Hai better than that. She jumped to the conclusion and just killed him like that.

Romances/ Relationships:

  • Chao Zong and Lan Yan. The most tragic couple in here. I did not like the idea of them together at first BUT they really convinced me with the plot moving along. They’d been through so much yet was not able to live together at the end either. I think ‘tian di bu rong’ was aimed at them. Since ‘heaven could not tolerate’ them together, always wanting to separate them no matter what. The fact that they never gave up made it even more memorable. Yes, there were times they lost hope, but they always hung on and never stopped loving each other. Sometimes their trust was tested, but it was quickly resolved to reunite them once again, fighting together and facing all challenges thrown their way. So what if they did not win the last battle? They were irreplaceable to one another. Lan Yan’s death scene was worth a box of tissues or two. Seriously, it was NOT dragged out at all. Quite well done with the scenery and tragic setting. Beautiful flowers and Chao Zong playing his flute. (BUT I rather she not die.)
  • Leng Yun and Lan Yan. I thought they were the most tragic couple at first but my perception changed later when they finally reached the point of friendship. (I seriously thought the two kids who portrayed their younger versions were equally cute and lovable with the flashbacks.) Yes, it was quite dramatic at first of how they reunited and realized it was too late. Then there was hope, then there wasn’t. It was too much. But they were able to get past that. They both moved on–or at least Lan Yan had. Leng Yun ended up being the supportive figure by her side, always helping her. They reached the point of being friends and later possibly family because of how they looked out for each other later on–with him being there to help with matters while she always listened to his problem and being supportive during each situation. It was a cruel twist of fate for them yet it helped them learn and grow through time. I also liked how the wishing tree was their shared spot. It was like there for them from the beginning to the end. They shared many memories and stories there. It was sad that he would never know that she had already died since the last wish fell to the ground after he left. But perhaps it was better that he did not know since he would never be happy again if he were to learn of Lan Yan’s fate.
  • Leng Yun and Xin He. I thought that they were the most compatible at first yet it was hard to maintain this frame of mind as the series progressed and things got really complicated. They matched wit per wit at first with intelligence and skills. Yet it was a shame that they (the scriptwriters) had ruined her character. She turned into a deceptive, cunning person. (It could not be blamed fully since she had lost so much BUT it was like she did not have a strong will to drag herself away from the scene OR she did not know when to stop.) Leng Yun was rash at times too and drove her to the other side yet I felt she was more intelligent than that so I had more expectations toward her than him, considering how he had fallen into Yu Ping’s trap in the past. What was even more ironic was that they ended up together anyway. Okay, so they (the scriptwriters) tried to justify her character by redeeming her with helping them that one time AND how she bang her head and lost her memory. BUT that was like Leng Yun had to take care of her. It was like they (the scriptwriters) were afraid that he would end up alone so they needed someone for him to concentrate on. I rather he was the fearless wanderer, traveling around to help others at the end than end up with her. She needed to pay back for killing that one girl. Going crazy DID NOT punish her. It just made her forget all her wrongdoings and let her start anew.
  • Shao You and Xin He. I would never expect to like this pairing so much and thought that they were the most adorable pairing in here. I meant it was so random YET addicting to watch because it was both innocent and somehow natural at the same time. Very strange feeling yet it was refreshing to the hectic atmosphere of the show as an overall. I really liked their opposites-attract chemistry YET I was quite disappointed that they ruined her character by making her wipe the sweats for Leng Yun in front of Shao You and the others that one time. She was not the type of person to be close to a certain someone so easily AND it made less sense that she would do that after she was married. Why did they (the scriptwriters) have to throw that in? I know Shao You was acting up later too, but I think it honestly wasn’t his fault. Any person would be pissed off seeing that, NOT just him. Xin He herself would never do anything indecent or overboard like the case stated, especially how strict the rules in their town were. Xin He was misunderstanding Lan Yan that one time, SO it proved that she knew and kept to the codes. She wouldn’t throw unnecessary attention to herself. She knew her limits and knew how to behave appropriately. Luckily, the problem was resolved quickly (or so I thought) or it would be really lame. However, I couldn’t forgive the scriptwriters for killing Shao You and ruining her character as well later on. It also made their relationship a big joke AND made the scene where she was crying out, wanting to die with him when she thought he got kidnapped a bigger joke. It was not about revenge for him anymore. The fact that she wanted to jump back to Leng Yun made it ridiculous and I felt bad for Shao Yu even more. Yes, she had no one else and how she deeply fell for Leng Yun earlier made sense to go back to him (and she did deserve her own happiness) BUT I just felt it was a joke with saying how much she loved Shao You. OR like stressing how much she wanted revenge for Shao You when she still did not know Yu Ping was actually behind it. What was even more was how she betrayed Lan Yan later and caused the Shen family to get kicked out too. Too bad they wasted a good development of the relationship, possibly emphasizing that some people change for the worst?
  • Siblings: Xin Hai and Xin He. Yes, she was harsh on him BUT I was glad that she pulled him away from the Lu family and saving him face. They both truly cared for each other and looked out for one another until the very end. The most tragic scenes must be his death and her recounts of their childhood memories afterward. It was worth lots and lots of tears. They had a strong bond and was forced to separate just because of a misunderstanding OR more like a deceptive trap. However, it seemed like a joke since Xin He’s reaction to the truth about his death was NOT enough for her to stop her wrongdoings. She kept going and going. It was like her brother was not important enough for her to stop and start anew–alone or with someone. She only cared for other things later. Yes, she was the only one left but it did not mean she was entitled to go cause troubles for her friends who stuck with her through thick and thin.
  • Xin Hai and Wu Shuang. A big fat joke as I said earlier. I found their chemistry cute and funny at various points of the series. But I thought it was too much later on. Perhaps they were similar in that they were too innocent and were simple-minded. But I felt like she never trusted him enough to even measure up to him OR could declare that she loved him–as said before.

Favorite scenes (not that I didn’t like other scenes but thought these stood out the most AND I already mentioned some other favorites in the other parts):

  • The confrontation between Yue E and Lan Yan. This was the part where Yue E discovered that her husband stepped out of the Lu resident so she went into the house and confronted Lan Yan with seducing her husband aka being a despicable person. I really admired Lan Yan at this point for no longer begging Yue E to help her or to believe her. The damage was already done. What else was there to clarify or say? It was too late. And the person who needed to wake up was Yue E, thinking that she was the most tragic person OR thinking she could handle the problems. She wanted to put the blame on the others yet it was her husband and her fake ways that had led to the outcome. Like Lan Yan said, she was so ignorant or think she could handle it but she did not know how many had suffered in the past or been in the same fate as Lan Yan, having no say or was unable to call out for help.
  • The confrontation between Chao Zong and Yu Ping. She was clever yet she underestimated things big time regarding the matters of the heart. This part was where they met at their secret location after Yu Ping killed Chao Zong’s dog and hired a hitman to warn Lan Yan off. What Chao Zong said was very true and memorable. It was: “Sorry, my heart is very small, it could only hold one person.” Yes, he was the least person in here to be talking about loyalty YET it was so true since he finally cared for someone enough to shrug off business matters and much more. He was willing to sacrifice his business and fight for his happiness–whether it was right or wrong.
  • Lan Yan claiming that the old Lan Yan had died with her child and the new Lan Yan was born. I was surprised though I knew it was inevitable. I meant I thought they would drag out the whole tragic Lan Yan scenes since it was like that in the past and then also when she was trying to get along as best as she could with the rest of the Shen resident. But the turn around was really well done. Yes, she knew those tactics and knew how to take control yet she only wanted to live a peaceful life. It wasn’t like she was dumb. In other series, it would show that the girl was wise too BUT it seemed like she never took actions. I like how the turnaround was in here. We get to see her intelligence and planning come into play. She was not to be messed with–if only the others would know.

Dislikes:

  • Makeup/ hairstyles. Honestly, I had stressed this point with several characters and I felt that the majority of the cast, even the male cast were robbed. Every one of the female cast was not bad looking nor less gorgeous–one over the other–yet the majority of their hairdos were wrong or off. The makeup for some looked like smudges or overdone. It was really hard to imagine the guys falling for them because of said reason. (They did mention in the series at various times or references to how each of the women was of beauty SO that was something.) I think Li Fei Er was the luckiest among the supporting cast and Michelle Yim being the luckiest among the main cast–since their images were better. It was about the right touches for them, except for Fei Er having to endure the strange hairdo later when Xin He was married. Xiao Yu Yu and Deng Jia Jia were cute and gorgeous in their own rights yet was given such an image that they seemed to pale in comparison to others, which was sad. It was mostly because of the hair that got annoying, but their portrayals were still notable, especially Deng Jia Jia. For Ady, it was that little piece of hair sticking out in the middle of her forehead that made it unbearable. They got rid of it later but still was not forgivable. The costumes were brilliant so that made up for it IF only the makeup and the hairstyles accompanied then it would’ve been perfect.
  • The fact that Xin Hai died. The reason why I say this was NOT just because I’m a Qiao Zhen Yu fan BUT it was because it was too frustrating. He was too kindhearted hence falling prey to others’ trap. He was careless and he paid major time for it BUT he did not deserve it. If that meant being simple-minded was a crime, it was just ridiculous.
  • The fact that Shao You died. Like I mentioned above in two different categories already, I was horrified that he actually died. I thought he would’ve made it till the end, considering how the male cast was already on the lacking side. The fact that he died made it even more tragic. After his death, there were only two main male characters left. It wasn’t the only reason that made me feel robbed. But it was how I had grown to love his character so much. His childishness at times and his kind heart. He honestly believed Jiang Yu Ping and if he had not risked his life trying to save her, then he wouldn’t meet with his fate. He didn’t deserve to die like that. Though he did not die too blindly like Xin Hai, his death was the most horrifying because Yu Ping had personally killed him–unlike many times before that she had indirectly caused others’ death.
  • How they ruined Xin He’s character. I hated the fact that they did this. Although she was misled and deceived by Yu Ping, I could not forgive her or the scriptwriters for making it that way. I thought she would stop her actions when she saw how the other girl was suffering so much. Yet she still went through with the plan. She was driven by the misled idea that she wanted to avenge Shao You’s death BUT it was unforgivable that she resorted to such despicable means. Not to mention everything crumbled later (reasonable or not) when it got worse with her intentions or priorities. Don’t want to get repetitive since I already said it many times during this review.
  • The fact that no one knew it was Yu Ping who was responsible for it all. I meant she did not have to suffer for about 10 people that she killed in here. Yes, Leng Yun knew. Lan Yan knew. Chao Zong knew. But she was not brought to justice properly. I felt robbed. Or was it emphasizing the chaotic times and how things were never brought to light in small towns like that?
  • No one knew that Xin He was the one who told on them. It was the scene where she found out Lan Yan wasn’t pregnant like Xi Hong told the townspeople and went to tell on them. IF the others would’ve known, I don’t think the outcome would be like that. Yes, Leng Yun and Lan Yan might forgive her or sympathize with her BUT I felt it would’ve been better letting them know. Of course, it was obvious with how she was following that one dude BUT it was too easy on Xin He at the end. I rather Xin He die. That sounded cruel. BUT since Lan Yan had to die anyway, why let Xin He live happily? It was like encouraging people to do bad things since it would turn out all right in the end anyway.

Recommended or not? I’m not saying it’s a must-watch but it was interesting in its own right. There were frustrating points in the series or unbearable parts but it was unpredictable with various stories. So that won me over for the most part. But those who like happy endings shouldn’t watch since it was not a happy one. Though it was memorable and tragic.

A Chance of Sunshine

(image credit: net)

It was an average series overall. That was to say the lightest about the whole thing. It seemed a bit draggy because of some repetitive scenes and its many flashbacks. The soundtrack was awesome so no complaints there but the plot could improve more. I think putting in the “third wheel” character in here defeated the whole purpose of the series. They had the whole thing about the parents’ past and their current conflict already. No need for such a nuisance and more ruptures toward the whole situation to make things worse for Le Ping and Shi Tao.

I thought the most dragged out part was how ridiculous it was to make them not meeting each other for like the majority of the series. I mean we, as the audience, got the concept that because of their different habits and lifestyles that they failed to meet up but it got so dragged out later on that it defeated the whole purpose of it, making it ridiculous. For example, there was a scene where they were practically bumping into each other aka walking like right next to each other or racing past each other but failed to notice. I was talking about after they met and exchanged numbers at the park–not the beginning because the parts before their real meeting scene were just setting the story up and letting us know the characters more. That part was relevant, but after they knew each other, it was ridiculous not to notice that they were nearby. If you find people, wouldn’t you look in all directions? It was a common sense even if your typical habit wasn’t like that.

The “third wheel” scheming girl was WAY too annoying and it seemed quite lenient to let her off so easily at the end of the series. But lucky she didn’t end up with anyone or it would be WAY too forced. Still, it was a shame that she wasn’t exposed later on either. Even after they both knew she was behind some stuff but after that? She was still at it.

Aside from those two things that made it WAY annoying at times, there were lots of other like factors about this series in general, such as:

  • Their ongoing bickering at the beginning when they were beyond annoyed with each other’s loudness. It was way too funny since when they met for real, they got along so well. Then the horn became their little inside joke later to communicate with each other. Also, the cat became their little messenger.
  • The chemistry and collaboration between Lu Yi and Alyssa Chia: I must admit that I really liked them together–sometimes even more than Vincent and Alyssa. They really hit it off in here with their interactions. It really made me believe they were really together.
  • The family of both sides. Although there were moments where it seemed annoying or might be frustrating with the parents but later on, they seemed to realize the importance of happiness over money and let the kids be that way–and not repeat their past mistakes.
  • The soundtrack. As mentioned many times before, the soundtrack was really nice. Like every song–except for maybe one. It really made the series flow better than just seeing repeated flashbacks. It made it less painful since flashbacks were all right once in a while but every ten minutes was sort of annoying. So the songs really made it happen for the majority of the drama.
  • Ambrose Hsu as a guest star. It was really fun to see him try to court Le Ping and he was a real gentleman about it too. Not to mention it burst the other girl’s bubble because she thought she was all that, always up to something. Great to see Ambrose play such a clever character and a talented guy as well. Great performance near the end with him and Lu Yi.

I think I actually feel somewhat disappointed that Qiao Zhen Yu’s character shall leave just like that–with people still misunderstanding him and the others never know that he was the one who helped Shi Tao’s sister when she came back to the hospital that one time. I really like Qiao Zhen Yu in here but too bad that he only appeared somewhat at the beginning of the drama. It would have been fun to see him still around and maybe find his own happiness later. Things can’t be too gift-wrapped, right? But still a shame.

Overall, if it wasn’t for some really annoying flaws–somewhat unforgivable–it would have been perfect. I think comparing with Jimmy Liao’s other story turned TV series, Sound of Colors with Wallace Huo and Ruby Lin did better, considering how Sound of Colors was shorter in length and even though it was really tragic, we know why it should be that way and the flow was much more fast pace. I rather deal with Yun Xiang’s step-mother than this annoying, scheming girl in here. But maybe ’cause of Lu Yi, Alyssa, Qiao Zhen Yu, and Ambrose–AND the soundtrack–that made this all worthwhile throughout.

Posted (on Xanga): December 22nd, 2008

Re-posted: Tuesday, April 9th, 2010