Seriously, after watching like 9 episodes, I think I’m entitled to some kind of opinion. What about it so far? Mixed feelings actually. The opening was good with how they were tested and couldn’t pass the challenge and all. Yet the upcoming parts kind of made me feel disappointed because of how unprepared they were, including Shan Ren. Those moments were supposed to create humor for the rest of us to see, but I hated it that they were too much of a joke with not passing or at least fend for themselves in some way that made it ridiculous. It made the whole process ridiculous because they were tested already in the trials before coming here yet they were so scattered and were so off. It might be a better explanation that they were so comfortable at the other base that they weren’t prepared. Not to mention how they had gotten so comfortable with their bonds somewhat near the end that they had let their guards down again but they should’ve known better. It was too much of a joke (like said before).
What I found clever was the part when Wu Yong fell and got his face all dirty, but he soon came up with a plan to merge himself into the jungle as well. Then the next part with both him and Shan Ren managing to jump in and catch the rope to save Lai Hu in time had compensated for their lack of preparations yet the other parts kind of killed it. What I became even more annoyed with was how Lai Hu got himself and Wu Yong into trouble by making comments about the female soldiers hopping past them, causing them another round of punishment. Like he could turn a new leaf that soon, but I was just too annoyed with him for not having to learn from the past and even doing that in front of the trainers. It was like asking for trouble. And he got it.
Another thing that made me feel kind of irked was when George Hu was making a comment in the BTS about ‘Mo Gui Ban Zhang’. Okay, he must be joking and all of that. But it sort of made me feel like comparing himself to ‘Sun An Bang’ (though An Bang was ‘Pai Zhang’) with the strict rules and all. He, Zheng Qiang, couldn’t even be compared to An Bang. Honestly. The way he was carrying on, it was like what the others were saying, nothing but a crazy dog. I meant the character AND NOT George–in case anyone was offended. In a way, it might be a new challenge for them all to learn and follow the strict rules of the new place YET it was kind of repetitive with creating another fierce character who seemed too much like An Bang. I thought that sort of backfired. At least for me.
What’s more? Getting back to the cast of part 1 and this time regarding Shan Ren. I couldn’t believe that he was bullying that one dude when they were trying to claim their beds. It was like using his power to gain an advantage, but he should’ve known better, so I agreed that he got scolded and was punished. YET I didn’t like Zheng Qiang’s attitude either. I got it why Wang Wei was scolding at Shan Ren afterward for using their previous bond to order Wang Wei around since it was like getting out of line. But I didn’t like Zheng Qiang’s taunting look. I don’t know if it was because of George Hu’s portrayal or his character was supposed to be that way. It was just I didn’t trust him to be unbiased, unlike what Sheng Nan and Wang Wei were projecting with the strict manners the whole time because it was necessary to enforce the rules–and not some personal dislike. It was like Zheng Qiang had something to prove, like being a show-off more than just enforcing the rules, being there because he was proud to serve the country, etc. I don’t know, I can’t seem to buy into his sincerity. And to wrap up about Shan Ren, I think I must agree with him regarding the phrase he uttered in episode 2, which was “虎落平阳.” Seriously, he lost BIG TIME, not thinking of the real consequences or being prepared for what was going on. Sucks to be him because he was being yelled like the others too, maybe even worse. Or this could be a wake-up call for him since he had been too comfortable previously, kept scolding the others and enforce the rules but not going forth with the routines at times. YES, he had to run with them and demonstrated stuff too but he wasn’t pushed into so much like now.
Talking about the unpreparedness of the characters from part 1, I must say that I was also disappointed of the female soldiers. I meant they were really unprepared too with how they messed up with the bed making scenes and getting things in order. (Only one girl was prepared YET was pulled down too because someone else just had to be careless, which caused her punishment too.) Again, this will apply for both guys and girls BECAUSE this was the Special Operations Unit after all. I know they need more training to get into that ‘tip-top’ shape. YET it was really disappointing that both groups couldn’t fend for themselves or make an impression. They were chosen to be in the Special Operations Unit SO that must mean something. So I take back my optimism toward the group. I meant okay, I’m still watching and supporting because the cast worked so hard for it YET this is one of those times I felt they were riding on the success of the first part. Like it wasn’t obvious already since they decided to go forth with part 2, BUT I didn’t want to act all bitter toward it and want to hold on to some hope. I felt it might have been better if they had waited until Tang Feng and Fu Zi Chun’s schedules cleared up and get this thing going again since I felt that they were the ones really qualified to enter the Special Operations Unit. It would make this thing shine a lot more with the soldiers.
Xia Zheng Feng’s Wu Yong was the only one–sorry to say–among the soldiers with the abilities to pass the trials and to convince that he could do it. The rest, not as much, but he was reduced to being somewhat hopeless so he could get yelled at like the others? It wasn’t like he was perfect since part 1, but he sure showed potential in some areas so I felt he was somewhat robbed of showing his talent at times. Again, I’m not picking on the new cast by not complimenting them BUT I felt they definitely need Luo Gang and Yang Hai Sheng for this one. The creators of the show could add more cast, BUT seriously they need more capable force than the comedy act. I still find them funny but it was just that it didn’t suit the Special Operations Unit as much with some of the things. OR were the creators wanting to strike while the iron was hot? Somehow, I think it had somewhat ruined the legacy of the drama itself. BUT I seriously hope to be wrong this time by seeing this move forward even more.
Since I’m already in the complaining mood, what else? BTS showed that they were working hard, of course. Their spirits were still high with willing to work hard and all. Yet sometimes I felt they were a bunch of whiners, except for some who were just goofing off. Seriously, IF Li Xing Wen could pull it off with some of the scenes, so could they. (Except for Qian Jun Zhong and Enson who were obviously injured at various points, the rest have no excuse.)
To get back on a positive note, I’m so glad that they let Wang Wei be the leader for the most part with the gathering and giving them instructions (out of the male officers, that was–since Sheng Nan was their main leader–aside from the other Pai Zhang who came from time to time to check on them). Why? Jun Ya’s powerful voice. Not to mention how he had been there since the first part. It made it less of a joke to let him lead with the general instructions. We’d seen him as Wang Wei in the first part with his hardworking attitude and how he was taking up the challenge in taking the test hence advancing toward being part of the training officers for this operation, instead of coming in as a last-minute addition. He was always prepared and composed, knowing how to separate between the personal and the serious matters. Though it meant I kind of miss his constant randomness with Shan Ren and Sheng Nan like the first part. But I was glad to see the consistency in his character with his ‘cold face, warm heart’ projection. Because of what happened at the breakfast scene in episode 3, I really wanted to hug him for it since he was subtly helping Shan Ren–without Shan Ren possibly knowing it. Seeing how Shan Ren could blow it with trying to let the thing go with Zheng Qiang and him going for the soup at the same time. It was like Wang Wei had gotten up on purpose and gave some new instructions so that it would allow Shan Ren the chance to get out of there before things escalated to much more. Then there was also his expressed concern toward Shan Ren to Sheng Nan in the later parts of episode 3 also. Yup, he could enforce the rules accordingly, but sometimes he couldn’t help but be worried for Shan Ren, who had been his friend since when.
Yet I found it a bit disappointing that Shan Ren couldn’t see through Wang Wei’s fierce front since he was complaining to the others that Wang Wei had forgotten him, after all those times he’d been there for Wang Wei. Wang Wei had been doing those subtle rescues and even gotten misunderstood. But that was so touching (okay, I’m just a sucker for it) when they finally realized that Wang Wei hadn’t changed at all. Well, Tian Bin was the one who disclosed to the others that it was Wang Wei who had told Tian Bin to buy the drinks (with Wang Wei’s money of course) and prepare the drinks for them. Then I sort of forgave Shan Ren again since in a way, he’d been keeping his bottled up feelings inside, so he was just complaining to the others who he’d known for a while, NOT just anyone. Then it was so cool seeing how they were bonding like once upon a time, seeing their signature high-five, etc. That sort of restored my hope for the drama as an overall. Not to mention how it would motivate some of them to work even harder because they know Sheng Nan and Wang Wei were still silently supporting them.
One of my favorite parts of Shan Ren and Wang Wei, aside from the drinking to their reunion part and resolving their misunderstanding, was how Wang Wei called Shan Ren out to introduce himself to the others YET he was quite reluctant, even pulling the long face and the indifference attitude. Wang Wei had to signal to him, clearing his throat like several times and tilting his head toward one direction to send Shan Ren the message that Sheng Nan was coming. It was then that Shan Ren got it and his energy was like back up, ready to impress Sheng Nan again. Darn, Shan Ren really got going with the whole speech though, causing Sheng Nan to actually stop from her walking and reconsider things. Even Wang Wei looked so proud of Shan Ren. Man, he was so supporting his friend. Yet Shan Ren didn’t forget Wu Yong and Lai Hu either, including them in the last bit of his speech.
Talking about bonds, I still have hope for F4 and Shan Ren. They managed to keep everything consistent. The beginning scene showed their relying on each other in the jungle somewhat. But also when they met Tian Bin again was kind of funny how he played the trick on them, but also offered to help them pass messages to Hai Sheng and Shi Jun. We finally got an answer that both were just placed into another group, not gone yet. (But of course, I think it was just mentioning them at various times to show references that both characters were still around, just not making their appearances.) Another example of the bonding between F2 and Shan Ren was during the scene in episode 5 where they were caught and punished for talking behind Zheng Qiang’s back, and Shan Ren lost it again hence dropping his broom. Lai Hu actually jumped in to take the blame for him. Honestly, I wouldn’t expect that of Lai Hu since he’d been the one the others were shielding the whole time. Then there was also the part where Shan Ren was joining in with the other three for the punishment outside (the one where they didn’t sleep during the mid-day break and was causing disturbance). What I thought was fun was seeing another character, Tian Bin’s childhood friend, Jin Zhan joining in with the group. He was so clueless with not understanding Taiwanese, lol. Back to the role reversal thing, I think that the others had to cover for Shan Ren and sometimes stop his temper because they didn’t want to see him getting in more trouble than that or more like getting them in trouble as well. Then I would forgive Shan Ren for losing faith in Wu Yong and Lai Hu hence wanting to abandon them and keep himself safe.
About the other new characters and cast, I felt that the other newly introduced officers had fended better than George Hu for some reason. Maybe George was afraid of yelling at them too much versus the others? I don’t know. He did yell and you could feel he was trying to put on the appropriate strict air. Yet something was definitely missing, like he was sending mixed signals at times. Perhaps the pressure was getting to him with living up to being part of the main cast of this epic drama? (And I can’t believe they pulled that one with squeezing in an attempt to utter George Hu’s name during the scene where Wu Yong, Lai Hu, and Jin Zhan got punished. LAME! But that sort of got me laughing ’cause of how Wu Yong said the phrase so it was like similar to George’s name.) The part where Wu Yong had the dream in episode 3, I thought George was more comfortable with the exchange in words, etc. Maybe he should’ve been cast as one of the soldiers since it seemed like he was uncomfortable or maybe afraid of yelling at them too much. (Or maybe if he’d been one of the soldiers, then he wouldn’t get an important role? Or would have to do more of those exercises? No idea.) To be fair, I think George’s momentum soon kicked in with the routines of enforcing the rules, etc YET he hadn’t mastered the whole thing with keeping his face neutral with the strict attitude. It was like an expression that had some personal gripe toward others more than the indifference one or at least the fierce expression because they failed their tasks–and he had to make them carry out some punishments.
Talking about the new characters in this one, aside from Jin Zhan, Li Zheng Hua was funny as well. Maybe because he was ABC so he didn’t understand it when the guys were using different dialects so it got all headache-y when they were trying to converse in it, LOL! Then there was also Wu Yong’s assigned partner for one of those missions in the forest, Xu Yi Fu. Wu Yong saved him from almost getting killed with the trap and then he wanted to pay Wu Yong back BUT failed. That was funny though! Xu Yi Fu and his needle techniques, lol.
Moving on, episode 5 was also Enson Chang’s debut as Tang Kai Yu. What I found quite interesting was his laid-back nature at mealtime. Yes, he seemed serious at the first introduction of him to the others. But mealtime changed everything. He seemed to be not as strict, especially around mealtime–as he mentioned about it not necessary to be so intense when everyone was just eating. He might be a refreshing character in here because he was different, not someone trying to be like any of the characters in the first part. Well, they had to be strict so the soldiers would learn. Yet I think we have enough strict people already so a different type of personality was much needed for the show.
OMG! Wang Wei cracked me up so bad with calling Zheng Qiang ‘Feng Ban Zhang’ like about halfway through episode 6. (Feng as in ‘crazy’, not the other kind.) That was like priceless! Man, he was like returning the comment regarding how Zheng Qiang called Shan Ren Wang Wei’s ‘Precious Ban Zhang’ with it. Then Zheng Qiang was really annoyed and told Wang Wei to call him ‘Zheng Ban Zhang’. Zheng Qiang was asking for it though since one could see Wang Wei’s annoyed expression upon hearing those words, it was like a slap in the face, so he had to return the favor and ever so gracefully. Honestly, that guy had no sense of humor, LOL! So he could call people names but others couldn’t do it? PUH-LEASE! I’m picking on the character here and not George, if anyone’s getting offended again. Anyway, to get back to the story, I think Wang Wei unleashed some chain of events since, after that, the other pai zhang and ban zhang were calling Zheng Qiang ‘Feng Ban Zhang’ as well, LOL! Then Zheng Qiang had to correct them, lol.
Episode 7 when they were allowed to go inside the shop to buy stuff, they were reminiscing about their convenient stores at the other base. It was funny that Wu Yong was crying out “My Xiao Yan” tearfully when Lai Hu was talking about Xiao Yan. YUP, he can’t see his Xiao Yan for a long time. Man, Shan Ren was so behind, he didn’t know that Xiao Yan got together with Wu Yong already. But it was cute to know that they were still mentioning the other characters from the store (and also Hai Sheng with Yu Ting).
What else? Several characters surprised me by the time I get to episode 9. But I think I should leave it at that and do a followup when I’m even further. My opinions have definitely changed since the initial comments but I didn’t want to leave it out just yet. Those are more like my personal notes to see how my views have changed since starting the drama. Until next time…
*All images were captured by DTLCT