Word of Honor

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I actually tried to watch one episode at first but wasn’t that into it. It seemed too trying to me for some reason. Then to motivate myself, I actually went to watch The Untamed first, lol. It was weird, but since they were compared by various groups, I thought I might as well start there. So, fans of this drama can thank the other one for motivating me to watch this. The second time around, I tried to be more patient and it took several episodes before I was actually into it. I also ended up creating a thread on Twitter and tweeted while watching as well. It helped motivate me to move forward. (Also, no one mention it, please. Because I got brain fog and ended up using the wrong character for “ling” so the hashtag was all wrong for that. So yeah, I know already. This is why Twitter needs an edit button, but they thought they knew better so whatever.)

First off, it was a really bad idea to change the name of the series to Word of Honor (山河令) instead of keeping it as Faraway Wanderers (天涯客). Because by the current official title, Ye Bai Yi would be the main lead. Yes, he was the person who held the piece in episode 13. I was madly confused about where the title came from when it had nothing to do with the two main leads at all. Then it took like that many episodes later for it to reveal. I was like, “Really?” Whoever thought of doing that did it on purpose. Sure, people remember it better in this current state, but it also got attached to The Untamed as well. Good or bad, you tell me. But seriously, not worth it at all. Because this series was decent in its own right. It didn’t need to be attached to some other work like that. Granted, The Untamed team also changed their title. However, it made much more sense, because it was still aimed at the main characters of the series. Chen Qing Ling (陳情令) aimed at Wei Wu Xian’s flute and its power. Word of Honor (山河令) sounded catchy but missed the mark. Unless they wanted to say it was meant to cover the overall plot and its conflict then okay, fine. And I didn’t mean to start the fans war up again OR pick on this team on purpose. I appreciated their effort and what they had to work with. But whoever the decision-makers were, sunk them by doing so.

Anyway, moving on, right? LOL!

Main Cast:

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  • Zhang Zhe Han (张哲瀚) as Zhou Zi Shu (周子舒) aka Ah Xu (阿絮). It was hard to get into his character or relate to him. I meant, there was enough mystery and all and his expressions were morbid enough for me to get the seriousness of the series. What made him unrelatable for me was his saint-like, too forgiving nature as an overall. Yeah, I got it that he suffered a lot, made some poor decisions when he was young so he felt guilty and was trying to repent. But he shouldn’t try to influence others when it wasn’t exactly his call. Disregarding the others’ POV and forcing his principles on them wasn’t helping either. It wasn’t that he was terrible, it was that he was too perfect that made it hard to relate to for me. (Yeah, I know, sounded too ironic with what we learned he did YET I described him as perfect. But he had pushed that forgiving thing too far for me that made it unrealistic.) He was fun to watch at times and I liked his burns toward several parties in here too. But that was about it. First time watching ZZH and I don’t know what to make of it, except he was indeed convincing. At first, not as much, but I thought the best part of his was probably when Ah Xu thought Lao Wen was dead. Then the aftermath of realizing he made a mistake and pulled out the nails too soon. It was devastating. His expression said it all. That was his defining scene of the whole series for me. I don’t mean to disregard his effort or whatever since this was my first time watching and I had nothing to go by. Perhaps, it was just the type of character that drawn me in or not.
  • Simon Gong Jun (龔俊) as Wen Ke Xing (溫客行) aka Lao Wen (老溫). Gong Jun was surprising addicting to watch. I don’t know if it was how the character was written, but his charm helped a lot with carrying the character throughout. Lao Wen’s thick-skinned nature knew no bound and Gong Jun’s taunting expression at times made it so humorous for those scenes. The majority of my laughter came from his up to no good schemes. He seriously could drive people up the wall with his acts. His trolling game was top-notch though. And omg, his burns toward others. However, I thought the majority of that was just to cover his tragic past. I guess, overall, it was the contrast of his character that pulled me in even more. Gong Jun sure delivered with making it lively and cheerful at the right time and also delivered quite well with his serious scenes as well. It give off the feeling like you’re in front and center with him, witnessing those scenes. I heard that some of his past performances were flops. So, I guess whatever guidance and experiences he had over time had allowed him to improve. His hard work indeed paid off for this series. Because he was indeed quite convincing.
  • Zhou Ye (周也) as Gu Xiang (顧湘). I actualy didn’t like her at first. I know, jaws drop, right? But it was the truth. She was too loud and annoying for my taste. It took me a while to get into her character. Then I realized she was just straightforward. At least, she got the skills to back up her talk, unlike some people. I found her funny as hell later too. Her burns were possibly influenced by her master somewhat. But she was on point regarding some matters. Who possessed the author to kill her off? I felt like choking when that scene rolled around–although I got spoiled somewhere along the way and knew it was coming.
  • Sun Xi Lun (孫浠倫) and Zhao Xiao Kun (赵晓坤) as Zhang Cheng Ling (張成嶺). Omg, was the kid unlucky or what? Also, felt really bad for him with his family tragedies and all, but he sure needed a lot of rescuing. Lao Wen was on target when he asked Ah Xu why Ah Xu didn’t take the poor kid to see a fortune-teller, lol.
  • Ma Wen Yuan (馬聞遠) as Cao Wei Ning (曹蔚寧). At first, I was afraid that he was one of those flaky characters as well. Can’t blame me because of how pretentious half of the population of those sects and clans were. We learned he was heavily influenced by his shi shu, not his master. So that was good. But really sad since he was also killed by that hypocrite. It was indeed very tragic. He was so kindhearted and optimistic about life. If only he survived through it all.

Supporting:

  • Chen Zi Han (陳紫函) as Tragicomic Ghost (喜喪鬼) aka Luo Fu Meng (羅浮夢). I haven’t watched her in ages. So it was interesting to see her in here.
  • Ke Nai Yu (柯乃予) as Beauty Ghost (艷鬼) aka Liu Qian Qiao (柳千巧). I actually liked her. She had such a tragic past. Yet she was also so soft-hearted, even letting that one scumbag go just because of his sweet words. Well, she drank the potion later and ended up killing him, so…not all lost? It seemed overkilled at that point, but whatever.
  • Hei Zi (黑子) as Gao Chong (高崇). I saw him posting some clips of his character in the series, lol. So, that piqued my curiosity a bit more. Believe it or not, he was one of the few reasons I wanted to check it out. As for his character, he totally trusted the wrong person. He died in vain after all the good intention he had. It was a mile coming because they were going to kill him one way or another anyway. The majority of those sects or clans just wanted the key. They didn’t care for reasons or whatever. So yeah, he was sacrificed because of their greed and Zhao Jing’s schemes.
  • Wang Ruo Lin (王若麟) as Zhao Jing (趙敬). The mastermind of all the schemes since ages ago leading up to the current situation. He sure was manipulative all right. He kept up a good front and all. I knew I couldn’t trust him from the start. Mostly because of his name. Yes, he sure had it going for him. What was wrong with his name? Zhao Jing reminded me of Zhao Zhi Jing (趙志敬) from The Return of the Condor Heroes. So yeah, hated that guy in there, such a hypocrite and despicable, the whole mile with being the bad guy yet no one was able to expose him until way later. So yeah, I just transferred it to this one. Also, those really righteous dudes in here looked fake as well. His good deeds via charity causes done around town was already a trademark to be super suspicious of him since that was how it often was with those stories. Always the super nice and kindhearted dudes making waves and retaining the good reputation in front of others. It wasn’t hard to detect there was something wrong with him. Yet I just didn’t realize how big of an impact he made to the overall story, that was all. I thought he got his deserved fate, considering how much he toyed with people’s lives throughout, trying to ascend and gain power. So, how did he like it when he became the person on the receiving end of some sort of scheme too? His downfall was lying to the Scorpion King once too many times.
  • Guo Jia Hao (郭家豪) as Shen Shen (沈慎). He was stubborn and rash at times, but somehow managed to see through the light. Can’t blame him too much. He was just too simple-minded. At least, he was loyal to his sworn brother and tried his best to find his niece. He didn’t care for the power grab stuff going on. Although he was seriously annoying at first and made me suspicious of him–or if he was involved with Zhao Jing’s schemes, he proved to be harmless later.
  • Rebecca Jin (金乐) as Gao Xiao Lian (高小憐). Gao Chong’s daughter.
  • Yang Wan Li (杨万里) as Deng Kuan (鄧寬). Gao Chong’s disciple, the one that was drugged and manipulated into giving false statements about his master.
  • Li Dai Kun (李岱昆) as Scorpion King (蠍王) aka Xie Er (蠍兒). So the majority learned that he was approached for the role of Wen Ke Xing first and turned it down. It was mentioned that he was afraid he couldn’t carry the role hence turning it down. Yet it made me wonder. Because his acting wasn’t bad. He carried his character really well, showing all the emotions toward his adopted father–whether it was feeling proud of himself to be praised, or the disappointment and resentment feelings of later. It was quite powerful. He was also quite ruthless toward his enemies and was capable of all sorts of schemes. However, he was still able to sympathize with Beauty Ghost and was shocked to learn of her death later on. Indeed a complex character overall.
  • Candice Zhao (赵茜) as Evil Bodhisattva (毒菩萨). Scorpion Sect assassin.
  • Yu Nai Jia (于乃佳) as Pretty Arhat (俏罗汉). Scorpion Sect assassin.
  • Liu Yue Tao (刘月涛) as Qin Song (秦松). Scorpion Sect assassin.
  • Pan Jian (潘健) as Jiang Lao Guai (蒋老怪). Scorpion Sect assassin.
  • Huang You Ming (黃宥明) as Ye Bai Yi (葉白衣). Sword Immortal. He was sure was crazy and could be so childish too. Talking about his random bickering and fighting with Lao Wen at the various points here. It was hilarious to watch in a way. He was stubborn in some things YET at least, he redeemed himself later. He wasn’t too, too unreasonable, I guess. Just hard to get past some things. Then he thought it over and managed to see past some things hence letting go and helping them instead of holding onto old principles. Well, he was already ancient. So, how could he change so fast? It made sense. He was also stuck in the snowy mountains for a very long time.
  • Kou Zhen Hai (寇振海) as Huang He (黃鶴). Beggar clan’s elder. Despicable. Even more despicable than Tao Hong and her husband. Because he wanted to sell off the poor girl to a brothel to get some money if he wasn’t able to use her for anything anymore. Disgusting old scumbag.

Others:

  • Bryan Leung as Old Guard (老守衛). It was funny seeing him in here with such a small role. But he delivered with humor. It reminded me of some old comedies he starred in ages back.
  • Normal Chui as Bi Chang Feng (畢長風). Ouch! He rather accepted the nails than stick around. That was how awful the place was. I felt bad for him. I seriously did.
  • Wang Rong (汪融) as Han Ying (韓英).
  • Miles Wei (魏哲鸣) as Jing Bei Yuan (景北淵) aka Seventh Lord (七爺).
  • Fan Jin Wei (范津玮) as Wu Xi (烏溪) aka Da Wu (大巫).
  • Wo Bo Qing (王铂清) as Mo Huai Yang (莫懷陽). Gentle Wind Swords Sect leader. Hated him. He killed my favorite couple.

Relationships – family, friends, romances, etc.:

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  • Zhang Zhe Han and Gong Jun as Ah Xu and Lao Wen. In the words of Ah Xiang, Lao Wen seemed more human when he was with Ah Xu. Well, she knew her master best, so who am I to argue, right? LOL! Seriously, I think ZZH’s best scenes were with Gong Jun. Because most of their interactions sent me laughing for no apparent reason. Well, unless it was those super serious, intense debates. But I thought those scenes were essential to bring out ZZH’s character more. This wasn’t meant to be a dunk on ZZH, but it was because I couldn’t relate to his overly forgiving nature as much–like said before. They had a lot of hilarious exchanges throughout. Yet I felt their relationship only carried to a certain point. Another petty move on my part but if thought of in a serious manner, regardless of how much they disagreed on their principles, I felt Lao Wen was always ready to jump into action to defend and help Ah Xu. It couldn’t be said the same for Ah Xu, except for two times. Examples? The part where the Five Lakes Alliances tried to have a meeting, it didn’t go as planned, various parties wanted to snatch Cheng Ling, Lao Wen jumped in to help Ah Xu save Cheng Ling and get the kid out of there immediately. On the other hand, the scene where Gao Chong was framed and eventually led to his downfall? Both of them were arguing halfway through and Ah Xu totally abandoned Lao Wen, saying if they were so different, then they should part ways, etc. Then Lao Wen was left there to figure things out on his own. So much for friends. The two times I mentioned Ah Xu actually doing something to prove that he was Lao Wen’s friend? The time Ye Bai Yi almost killed Lao Wen. That speech was awesome from Ah Xu, saying how everyone could condemn or go after Lao Wen but not Ye Bai Yi. The other time? It was the part mentioned in his character discussion where he thought Lao Wen was dead and then went to the extreme of pulling out his nails. He finally stood up for Lao Wen and realized how naive his previous thoughts were. The irony? The majority were in on it, even Cheng Ling. It sucked to be the only one not knowing. But if people thought Lao Wen didn’t take him seriously, it was far from the truth. He thought a lot hence willing to change his views, etc. for Ah Xu. And who could forget how Lao Wen was willing to sacrifice for Ah Xu during the ending part? It was heartbreaking. So, their relationship to me was only fun to watch in times of random moments but didn’t really stick as something deeper than that if analyzed further. Yeah, I know, people are frustrated with my view. But I’m the odd one out who picked on the most ridiculous parts. But hey, we can’t all be the same.
  • Gong Jun/ Wen Ke Xing and Zhou Ye/ Gu Xiang as master and servant to siblings relationship. Seriously, I cracked up at their interactions time after time. They were hilarious together or apart. Because they talked behind each other’s backs, lol. He told her that he considered her as his sister. And they indeed looked like a pair of bickering siblings. Their burns toward one another at times. She was sure brave with her words, etc., not fearing backlash at all, considering his status. Yet there were equally touching moments between them. Like how he gave his blessing to her in regard to her upcoming marriage to Gao Wei Ning. She was indeed the princess of the Ghost Valley. They all dothed on her and prepared well. It was such a tragedy how things turned out. Her ending? It was so sad and heartbreaking. He went insane, which no one could blame him for, after realizing what was happening and tried to avenge her death. It was too much. That was also the part where I swore off on Priest’s future works. So good luck on me reading the novels now, lol. I know adaptations could be so different, but they managed to keep fans happy about the majority, right? So yeah.
  • Zhou Ye/ Gu Xiang and Ma Wen Yuan/ Cao Wei Ning. Omg, they cracked me up so much too. They reminded me of Huang Rong and Guo Jing, lol. Serious. He was such an honest guy and so clueless regarding some matters that it was lovable. She was so smart and fierce at times, but her heart was so soft when it came to some situations as well. They were the highlight of the show when it came to fans wanting to find a couple to ship for. Yet that all went to hell when the ending rolled around. Seriously, it didn’t matter if they got a happy ending in a side story. It wasn’t the same, come on. Do it right the first time around instead of that for the purpose of cranking up the drama. Yeah, I missed the point again and super unromantic right now. But seriously, I hated their ending. So tragic. How could anyone have the heart to kill them like that? Well, the author did, so…yeah. On the upside, Zhou Ye and Ma Wen Yuan got to work on an AD together, so…not all lost? They should star in some modern romance together. That would make up for this one. I know it wouldn’t be the same. But come on, we need some compensation as fans.

Discussions:

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  • The overwhelming product placement in the name of Woolong nuts. Granted, it was their sponsor after all, so they had to stick it in there to fulfill their duties. But seriously, it broke the flow of the story at the most random point. They sort of covered it up in a somewhat crafty way, but you know it was meant for the sponsors.
  • The costumes and hairstyles. It was indeed very nice and well thought out. I was impressed. Despite them being on budget, etc., it was nice seeing how so many characters had several outfit changes throughout. Except for the Tao Hao couple who shared an outrageous set of outfits, lol. That was horrendous–even if I didn’t understand too much about fashion. It stuck out like insane. It was too loud. But seriously though, I saw some reused outfits from other dramas in here. But once again, considering they were on a budget, it was already an awesome job.
  • The music. I think fans would be love the efforts of the production team for composing such a soundtrack for the drama. It was suitable for the story, etc. No doubt about it. It highlighted their bonds, etc.
  • Location. They’re on a budget I know. It was noticeable with some of the reused sets. Yet, it wasn’t too, too bad. I especially liked the peach blossoms scenes though. It was quite a portrait all right.
  • The ending. Anyone who read the novel (NOT me, obviously) or watched the bonus scene knew what happened. But let’s talk about how messy the wrap up was. Considering how I admitted that I didn’t read the novel, I wouldn’t know if it was changed or not. However, the wrap up was really messy. They sure wanted to kill the majority of the characters to send a message or something. Or did the writers give up? Because they killed about 95% of the important characters in here. Yeah, I got it, it was a brutal battle, an ambush, etc. But come on, really?

Remember how I went on this outrageous rant about The Untamed being like Xiao Ao Jiang Hu? Yeah, I’m going to do the same with this one. Word of Honor was actually a combination of Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber and Handsome Siblings. Okay, you can throw a dash of The Return of the Condor Heroes because of the ending scene too. The reason why I say it was like HSDS was because of how Cheng Ling kept getting captured and chased by all the sects or various parties claiming to be friends and wanting information from him or the piece of the key as well. It was a similar theme to Wu Ji–with him being asked about his godfather and the whereabouts of the dragon saber. The fact that they shared the same family name caused me to see the link faster. The reason why I say Handsome Siblings was the ghost valley aspect and the complicated background Wen Ke Xing had. And the ending scene reminded me madly of the part where Yang Guo and Xiao Long Nv practiced their martial arts, lol. (I soon found out after making that comment that someone actually made an MV of it comparing one of the adaptations to this series, so don’t say I’m the only one making the connection, lol.)

Recommended? I think that fans of the main cast would love it. It was at a bearable length. The humor kept the series going for me. But if you loved the author’s work, I thought it would be fun to watch and see what happened with the adaptation.

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.

The Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils 2013

(image credit: as marked)

I wasn’t planning to dive into this. I meant I was planning to watch Royal Tramp since I had been updating on that a lot last year. However, I wasn’t too sure about this–because I was judging the book by its cover (lol). Then I got curious, wondering how it would all turn out. Considering how there is a similar cast between the two productions–this and the upcoming Royal Tramp, I want to check out the cast to encourage myself even more. Seriously, I wasn’t expecting much, if all fails, I could abandon it. However, I was addicted right from the beginning. OMG, it was that good. Okay, I might be exaggerating here, but maybe because I didn’t expect anything so it turned out quite well for me.

Main Cast:

  • Wallace Chung as Qiao Feng (喬峰)/ Xiao Feng (蕭峰). I was surprised they cast him in the role. Yet I got past that and managed to hang on, to see what they could come up with. However, I felt Wallace managed to win me over with his portrayal. It was definitely different from previous versions and possibly expectations of what readers might have in mind for Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng as a character in general. That didn’t mean it couldn’t be changed because I believed Wallace had achieved that effect. He managed to keep some of the essences of Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng as a character but also added another side of Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng that would allow one to ponder. He had this gentleness and kindness to him. It seemed like he wasn’t fierce enough at times, but he was able to exude that fierceness if he was forced to. So in the end, I think he was powerful enough of a character for me. Oh yeah, I was so glad they (the production team) didn’t make it so he would somehow fall for Ah Zi too just because they were twins. (I’m serious, it seemed to want to go that way, but the little change only stopped at the sisters being twins and not other side stories, phew.) Love the way he portrayed the character overall. I cried buckets during the last scene. Okay, NOT really, but it was closer to there.
  • Kim Ki Bum as Duan Yu (段譽). 200% surprised. I swear I was judging just based on the first impression of seeing some pictures and hearing about the casting at first. Yet when I watched it, I realized something. Like the other versions, except for Benny Chan’s version that I remember Da Li people had different outfits from the Zhong Yuan people. Then it hit me, what did Da Li people usually wear? What were their actual outfits anyway? And what did they look like? I meant they lived in a different region and had their own culture, right? So why not cast someone having distinguished features and have the Da Li people dressed differently like how it was in the series. It felt refreshing for me. The fact that Kim Ki Bum was so charming in the role made it a lot more appealing for me too. (Duan Yu’s actually my least favorite based upon the novel, and the first version I watched didn’t help his case either so yeah.) The plot really helped Kim Ki Bum since it made him less boring and less nagging/clingy that I felt more intrigued by what else they would eliminate just based on past adaptations. In fact, this by far made me feel hopeful for his character as I watched on, like his sense of caring for his family enhanced even more in here. They elaborated how he didn’t just care for his family or his sisters (who he and everyone had mistakenly thought at first were his sisters) when he needed them, but he really cared for them. Like at one point when he was talking to Wang Yu Yan (it was their first meeting), he thought of how much Wan Mei must have suffered after the disaster with them being siblings (so they couldn’t stay together anymore). It was like he wasn’t disposing of them after learning the truth but still cared for them. (NOT implying or encouraging them to continue on here, but I’m saying like he continues to care for them as family members now, wondering how they are, etc.)
  • Han Dong as Xu Zhu (虛竹). After I was reassured with how Wallace and Kim Ki Bum had passed the radar (for me), I was really unease with how it would turn out with him. Yes, he would be the final key with me liking this version as an overall or not. It was really nerve-wracking of a wait since I know it would take a while with all the conflicts involved and the many subplots going on already. Knowing those things didn’t help keep me calm for the time being either. When he finally appeared, I was like, “Finally.” But it wasn’t because I was anticipating his appearance. Well, sort of, but because after what happened in the other parts of the plot, it got me even more anxious to see how he fended, etc. After watching several scenes, I gave up with trying to compare and enjoyed his version for its own depiction. (Because I swear Felix Wong ruined it for everyone. He did it when he was portraying Guo Jing too so nothing new here.) Anyway, back to this, I think it’s hard to portray a really “dumb/naive” type of Xu Zhu like how Felix did it. (Since he was just so natural in that role.) But I felt like Han Dong’s Xu Zhu wasn’t terrible. I could see that he was clueless at times, though not like outright super clueless, he was like in confusion and unsure of lots of stuff, especially how he was panicking to find a solution to back out of being part of the chess game, but couldn’t. I was able to see the uncertainties in his eyes and his face. He did indeed project a kind image though, so unlike his Tian Bo Guang role. (LOL) And his wrinkled face expression at times was understandable since it was normal to be scared of stuff. NOT like Xu Zhu was like to the enlightened stage to not feel fear anymore. OR when he was curious at times. Then I completely ignore the Xu Zhu in the book and forced myself to just focus on this Xu Zhu that the production team had created (or perhaps Han Dong had decided it, or both). How was it after all those? I think It was really easier to watch, not having to compare. I meant I feel just based on a projection of a clueless monk, just venturing out in the world, then after leaving Shaolin, he was adapting to the new life and the environment outside. He was still clueless at times and even say that he was a monk (lol) without realizing it. It was indeed quite funny and cute in a sense. I felt it was kind of strange with his hesitation at times (because again, I was used to seeing Felix so graceful and confident later on), but I soon realized that it made sense that Xu Zhu would be clueless or not as confident in some matters–or even become shy when talking about sensitive matters. So I was more accepting and just try to enjoy his performance from there on. Indeed, he was more comfortable when talking to his sworn brothers. Then later, he became more confident with directing the people from Lingjiu Palace (靈鷲宮), and eventually seemed more powerful so I was glad. Like he needed time to adapt and gain confidence with the world around him. It wasn’t too off. I ended up enjoying his role anyway. Even if he wasn’t the Xu Zhu in the book or like past adaptations, but I felt like Han Dong did a good job with making me like him or think of him in as a real monk walking out into a different world, etc.
  • Mao Xiao Tong (毛曉彤) as Zhong Ling (鍾靈). I thought she was somewhat cute at first. Then like most of the cast in here, her outfit was distracting for me. Later on, I managed to get past those outfits already and indeed, she was quite cute. The way they made her character out, it was indeed suitable. I think I felt even sadder for her since she met Duan Yu first but had to back down because she realized Duan Yu and Mu Wan Qing were together. (And later on, I felt Mu Wan Qing was too mean to her but glad Mu Wan Qing cooled down and considered it seriously thus understanding how it must have been for Zhong Ling.) What I found strange though that she accepted Duan Yu as her brother too fast. But it soon explained the reason why. She was so used to being invisible that though she was shocked upon learning of the news, she still accepted it quickly after. The fact that Ah Zi was taunting her probably made her not wanting to lose ground in front of Ah Zi as well. But aside from that, lovable overall.
  • Zhao Yuan Yuan as Mu Wan Qing (木婉清). Surprised. At first, I’m like, “What in the world is she wearing?” I meant the mask, not the costume. Okay, the red and black outfit was kind of distracting for me too. But the mask was indeed weird. I was glad that was off after a while. But aside from that, what else? I felt her portrayal of Mu Wan Qing was also genuine in its own way. It was different like how though she tried to be fierce (since it was the way she was brought up by her master), but at times she couldn’t help laughing at Duan Yu’s lame jokes either. Sure, she was so fierce and she was unreasonable at times, but I also felt bad for her since her mother’s temper wasn’t helping her cause either. Her insecurities also arise from how her father had treated her mother, etc. But in the end, I was glad she wasn’t too unreasonable. Considering how she, herself, had suffered before so she would understand how Zhong Ling must have felt too. And though she was fierce with Duan Yu and somewhat snapping at Wang Yu Yan that one time (yeah, her temper got in the way again) with the whole misunderstanding, I was glad to know that she didn’t want Wang Yu Yan to return to Mu Rong Fu’s side, considering how much Mu Rong Fu’s betrayal had caused grief for Wang Yu Yan previously. (Because if she would allow Wang Yu Yan to do that right away, it would help her case, but she didn’t agree. Although Wang Yu Yan ended up returning to Mu Rong Fu’s side anyway, that was beyond the point here.)
  • Zhang Meng as Wang Yu Yan (王語嫣). Another surprise. She’s really, really smart in the novel. Well, it was already obvious that she wanted to help her cousin, etc. However, I felt she was boring in the novel. The first adaptation that I watched didn’t aid her cause at all (like how it was with Duan Yu), because they didn’t just make her boring BUT also annoying. This one? A great improvement. Though I felt it was all right with the last 2 adaptations that I managed to catch, her character still didn’t stick with me until this one. (Despite the fact that people say that she wasn’t as beautiful as the past two actresses who portrayed the role. Yet hey, I don’t listen to the public anyway.) She was more down to earth in this one. It was like implying how she was so sheltered by her mother and was forced to act properly that she didn’t even dare to smile within her mother’s presence. Yet when she was with Ah Zhu and Ah Bi–and eventually Duan Yu, she was more mischievous and showed a livelier side. I felt that would be more realistic because even if she knew she should act proper and all (and the strict rules for girls during those ancient times), but as a young girl, she would still ponder about the many things of the worlds and want to go out to explore. Though the case here wasn’t just going out to see the world, but more like wanting to hunt down for news of her cousin. It was quite tragic for her since she’d chosen to stay by Mu Rong Fu’s side in the end, instead of following the others. However, I felt it made a lot more sense. Considering how she had admired Mu Rong Fu since little and had continued so throughout the whole events of the plot, it was hard to see how she would jump ship so quickly to Duan Yu. Whether Mu Rong Fu deserved it or not, it was debatable, but I felt it was strange to just forget about him after that one betrayal. Sure, it explained in the previous versions that she was touched by the many things that Duan Yu had done for her thus accepting him, but I felt it was still strange she was able to let go of Mu Rong Fu so fast. She indeed did feel grateful toward Duan Yu for his help numerous times, but she always treated him like a good friend (like they’d both acknowledged many times throughout their encounters) so it was weird to see her jumping ship just because of that one incident. It could be explained that she finally awakened and realized her foolishness of worshiping Mu Rong Fu all these years, but still…didn’t really convince (for me). Hey, she was still the queen, just not Da Li’s queen, but Da Yan’s queen. (LOL!)
  • Zong Feng Yan as Mu Rong Fu (慕容復). Seriously, talking about a miscast. YES, I finally pick on someone, right? NOT true, I picked on some of the main cast in the past too, but when I actually watched it, they weren’t so off like I thought. This guy, no matter how I tried to be patient, was far from Mu Rong Fu. So I felt like he was a good actor at the part where Duan Yu was posing as him, but other than that, I felt he was a miscast for the character. He was so crazy and fierce at times, and was easily jealous, so how could he be the patient Mu Rong Fu whom others had mistaken? Though I was ready to hate him and did whenever he pulled those tricks throughout. (And somehow, I did understand it was a huge burden for him with how his father had forced him to keep forging forward to restore Da Yan like past adaptations but wasn’t as convinced for some reason.) Yet some of the scenes when his father finally let go and told him to do the same, I felt really bad for him. Because with Mu Rong Bo’s flashbacks, it seemed like Mu Rong Fu had nothing to think about but to restore Da Yan. So that was his whole life. Perhaps Wang Yu Yan was right in saying how pitiful Mu Rong Fu was with having such a burden. But it was so hard to sympathize with him when seeing him continuously pulling those tricks. Yet seeing him breaking down completely when his father told him to let go was really powerful. I think the actor could really convince, but like said before, he was wrong for the role according to how it was set up in the novel. I actually find him quite hilarious and convincing after he’d gone crazy and was playing the whole ‘king’ scenes.
  • Jia Qing as both Ah Zhu (阿朱) and Ah Zi (阿紫). Um, okay, they weren’t supposed to be twins in the novel. But since TVB’s 1982 version pulled an “Ah Zhu and Zhong Ling” lookalike hence pushing Zhong Ling to Qiao Feng later on AND killing Mu Rong Fu and Mu Wan Qing as well, I guess this version wasn’t WAY over with making Ah Zhu and Ah Zi twins. But moving on, what about Jia Qing’s portrayals of both characters? Impressed actually. In fact, I was wondering how she was so heavily promoted last year with all of those projects (though I wouldn’t go outright bashing) and if that was just one of the artists that the company was promoting, etc. Yet I finally figured out why. Jia Qing seriously has great potential and hopefully, she would continue to impress. (Just like how that one article had shown her professionalism that one time and her ability to touch even other members of the cast as well along with her co-star.)
    • As Ah Zhu (阿朱). As Ah Zhu, there were many lovable things about her. (Of course, lol.) She was very bright and cunning at times with her tricks. Yet other times, it showed her maturity and intelligence beyond her age. She had great deduction skills and could cause others to become tongue-tied all of a sudden. She, like the rest of the Mu Rong family, knew how to use the special disguising skills to her advantage. Yet that was also her downfall. Sadly.
    • As Ah Zi (阿紫). Crazy witch. That was about it, lol. JUST KIDDING, but Jia Qing sure could convince. It wasn’t just about Ah Zi being loud and unreasonable either, but more like it got you thinking how was it possible for Jia Qing to be so gentle and graceful in the other role yet so obnoxious and devious in this one? Sure, Ah Zhu had her mischievous moments too, but it was apparently different from how Ah Zi would approach that ‘sense of humor’ as she saw it (mostly because of the environment she grew up in). Jia Qing’s weakness came in around the time Ah Zi became blind because of the poison. It was more like she couldn’t portray a blind person well. At times, it seemed like she let her eyes stayed still and could pass as being blind. Then other times, she got so excited with acting out Ah Zi’s obnoxious side that she had forgotten to keep her eyes still or appear blind. Perhaps being so used to acting with her eyes had caused a disadvantage for her at that point.
  • Mona Wang as Princess Yin Chuan (銀川公主) aka Li Qing Lu (李清露) aka Meng Gu (夢姑). Wah! Finally a beautiful wife for Xu Zhu. (Sorry to stomp others down, but I never really felt right with past adaptations, even if I must admit the princess alongside Felix Wong was really cute.) Mona was really cute as the princess and really elegant too. She sure exuded the princess image. And I know she was not one of the major characters, but I included her in here anyway, because of her participation toward the last part of the series leading to the epic ending. She did have more scenes versus some previous versions so I thought I include her as well.

Other Key Characters:

  • Bryan Leung as Xiao Yuan Shan (蕭遠山). As interesting as it got, he portrayed Qiao/Xiao Feng in TVB’s 1982’s version. It was really funny seeing him acting out as the father role in here. Well, he did portray the father role in the flashbacks of years ago (like how they often did with past adaptations of having the person portraying Qiao/Xiao Feng portraying the younger version of the father since Qiao/Xiao Feng looked like his father). But with this one, I just wanted to laugh. NOT that he wasn’t convincing, because he was, comparing to his recent years of portraying random roles. What I was laughing about was his participation in here and how he had chided his son for acting so rash because of a girl (saving Ah Zhu that one time), and I was laughing because he did the same thing in the other version. (LOL!) Back to this one, what can I say? He was really convincing in this serious role. He really brought out the many sides of his character well, and then eventually remorse. Not to mention other emotions of hatred and pain that had dominated his life all these years previously. Then finally letting go of revenge.
  • Feng Jin Gao (馮進高) as Mu Rong Bo (慕容博). Mu Rong Fu’s father. He sure could act. I could see his arrogance throughout and trying to mold Mu Rong Fu into a killing machine and to resort to any means that they could to restore the Yan dynasty, but later when he finally turned around, he exuded the kind and gentle look really well. And what about him? Seeing him, it wasn’t hard to figure out how Mu Rong Fu turned out that way. The old man was setting his son out for the evil road real good. Whether he truly believed in restoring the Yan dynasty as a beneficial thing to their citizens or not, he sure caused many mishaps throughout. Not to mention 30 years of madness among several key characters in here. Though they were really dumb to just believe him like that, he sure could manipulate since it made sense during those chaotic times.
  • Gong Fang Min (公方敏) as Xuan Ci. Xu Zhu’s father. I think he had a more active role in here versus some of the past adaptations. Sure, he was the “Leading Big Brother” (帶頭大哥) and had a great impact regarding Qiao/Xiao Feng’s life. Yet it seemed like he wasn’t as involved in some of the previous versions, especially the events leading to the Shaolin gathering scene. This one, he was leading for most of the time with the parts and managed to reflect the ‘leader’ role. (In one of the adaptations, it had Duan Zheng Shun directed the whole thing SO it seemed like Xuan Ci was less powerful.) Though he had broken one of the major Buddhist conducts, there were some other things that compensated for his character. Like how he was willing to let Xiao Feng kill him to avenge Xiao Yuan Shan’s death. (Perhaps that little detail had helped for Xu Zhu’s cause later on with the gathering as well so Xiao Feng wouldn’t be shocked and attacking Xuan Ci along with the others.)
  • Canti Lau as Duan Zheng Shun (段正淳). Surprisingly disappointing. I had a lot of expectations for him. Yet he didn’t impress me or at least entertain me enough to ‘save’ the show as I initially had thought. (Since I was watching for mostly some of the veterans here, aside from the curiosity about the new cast.) Perhaps it was because this version didn’t focus on him so much as the previous versions. I was all right with that since I was kind of worn out with too much focus on the Dali people from past versions. It was a new feeling, but still feel that he seemed so weak compared to some past versions. The one thing about him that made sense was his ‘smooth talking’ skills and his sense of care for his family (whether he was honest or not). But I could feel he really cared for Duan Yu and his immediate family. Or perhaps he was one of those that could never make up his mind about his feelings AND ended up hurting so many women. But what I outright wanted to kill him for was still being so close to Kang Min–after knowing that she had caused Ah Zhu’s death.
  • Duan Zheng Shun’s wife and lovers: Yeah, that guy seriously was smooth with his ways so even the super mean ones got tricked by him. Well, maybe they weren’t mean back then but ended up bitter and all because of him? Who knows? About all, the cast selection was quite good since it projected that Duan Zheng Shun seriously knew how to pick. (Not that I’m stomping on the past cast, but I just think this version’s cast selection seemed closer to the character’s age for this group.)
    • Yan Qing Yu (閻青妤) as Dao Bai Feng (刀白鳳). Duan Yu’s mother. She could really exude the respectable image as the wife. Yet, like how her character was written, she had her own secrets too. But she couldn’t be blamed. It was in the heat of the moment and how she had gone through so much, having a husband who couldn’t be loyal to her. It wasn’t any better with the whole “two can play at this game” but if it wasn’t so, would there be Duan Yu?
    • Florence Tan (陳秀麗) as Gan Bao Bao (甘寶寶). Zhong Ling’s mother. I think she was the kindest and most gentle among all the lovers. It didn’t mean she lacked strength, but she just wasn’t the scheming type or manipulative type either. Though she caved in near some of her ending scenes and called Duan Zheng Shun “Duan Lang” (段朗), I didn’t blame her too much. Unlike some past versions, this one cut out the part where Duan Zheng Shun snuck into her room through the secret passage and had a secret meeting with her–to the expense of her husband and daughter being right there. I welcomed that change. Though she had deceived (and possibly the only deceptive part about her character really) her husband about her daughter’s real father, but I felt it was excusable on some level. She was still loyal to him all through the years of their marriage. At least until the inevitable ending.
    • Shu Yan (舒硯) as Qin Hong Mian (秦紅棉). Mu Wan Qing’s mother. Among Duan Zheng Shun’s lovers, I admired her the most. Though she was really hot-headed and ‘crazy’ in many ways, she had raised her daughter on her own. Even if she had to lie about her real relation to her daughter initially, but she still kept her daughter by her side. And though she seemed quite mean on the surface, she could be so soft-hearted as well. Just like how she was convinced by Ruan Xing Zhu and even joined forces with Ruan Xing Zhu in the later parts of the series.
    • Wang Xuan Yu (王宣予) as Li Qing Luo (李青蘿) aka Madame Wang (王夫人). Wang Yu Yan’s mother. She sure looked mean. (LOL) And she seemed crazier in here. Though some past cast had exuded the evil look quite well too. She was just plain bitter and crazy, considering how she wanted to kill all the people who went by the surname of “Duan” (段). That sure was taking it to the extreme. Then there was also the part where she wanted Mu Rong Fu to kill all the other women yet that was just a bluff. Talking about crazy, eh? (It wasn’t bad enough that Mu Rong Fu’s father had driven him to craziness up to that point, but now his aunt was doing the same thing.)
    • Sylvia Cheung/ Zhang Yi Mu (張譯木) as Ruan Xing Zhu (阮星竹). Ah Zhu and Ah Zi’s mother. I never liked her regardless of the version, but this one made it less hateful. Maybe it was the different scenes that she had with her daughters and even Duan Zheng Shun. She was 2nd on the manipulative list. Because she seriously could sweet talk her way out of trouble, especially how she had conquered Qin Hong Mian just after that one talk. Seriously? Pro all right. What I hated about her the most wasn’t her ‘careful’ ways and the ability to get along with others, but with how she had abandoned her daughters and still dared to cry over the tragedies later. This version kind of toned that down a bit, but to me, it just didn’t stick. I meant, okay, those were scary times back then and how it was hard to survive with criticisms of having children when she wasn’t married yet. But the others had raised their children–one way or another. Why couldn’t she? She was partially blamed for Ah Zi’s evil deeds after all. Can’t disregard the fact that Ah Zi grew up with that monster and there was no proper guidance. How could the others expect Ah Zi to change like that? (Regarding Ah Zhu, I think it was because how Mu Rong Fu had exuded the kind attitude out front so others wouldn’t suspect him hence Ah Zhu having grown up in a better environment. Yet Ah Zhu wasn’t so innocent either since she did try to steal the manual from Shaolin that one time. It was just that Ah Zhu was luckier in some ways, but still died tragically.)
    • Viann Zhang as Kang Min (康敏) aka Madame Ma (馬夫人). The most despicable and manipulative among all the women. I think this version also made her the most hateful yet I didn’t mind. I meant I think this version managed to capture her manipulative abilities better. Maybe some might think she appeared so much, but I thought that was what made her scary and hateful at the same time. The other versions, I would be “yeah, yeah, she’s there” and we know what role she would play (based on the novel or the past versions). But this version showed how manipulative she was, laying out scene by scene of what she did and continued to control others around her. And it wasn’t like she was hogging the screen so much that you would eventually yell “enough already, she’s supposed to be dead a long time ago.” They showed enough of the role she played in the overall picture. That also made the Beggar Clan looked ridiculous for falling for her traps, which I got a kick out of it because I seriously hated them for being so easily manipulated by others and didn’t investigate properly.
  • The Four Evils
    • Du Yu Ming (杜玉明) as Duan Yan Qing (段延慶). Duan Yu’s biological father. If you read the novel or watched past versions, you know. But if not, yeah, it was a shocker indeed. But it turned the whole plot around for Duan Yu, in accepting about his biological father, not just caring about how he wasn’t related to the girls. Because I think this version captured it real good as well (along with 2 other versions). The tragedy didn’t end at Duan Yu losing his parents but learning that his biological father was one of the four evils. What to say about Duan Yan Qing except he was crazy? Like some of the characters in here, he was driven to restore his ‘crown’. Though I was really pissed with how he had killed Yue Lao Shan, this one sort of made it less hateful during his death scene. It was tragic that one could forgive him for what he’d done. I didn’t completely forgive him for what he’d done, but in a way, it showed that he was willing to die for his son. So there was still some good in him. It was just that he was so into his plot that he’d astrayed so far from the right path. And how in the world was Mu Rong Fu able to kill him? I think it was due to both because (1) Mu Rong Fu had gone mad after this last attempt in restoring Da Yan and losing his two loyal followers thus fueling his energy even more, and also because (2) Duan Yan Qing himself wanted to die. Duan Yan Qing himself was one of the four evils after all (and Duan Yu had stated that as the sole reason why he didn’t want to accept the man as his father) so how could he let Duan Yu suffer from the upcoming possible criticisms/debates from others? He probably wanted to sacrifice himself in an attempt to get Duan Yu to forgive him as well.
    • Meng Xia (孟霞) as Ye Er Niang (葉二娘). Xu Zhu’s mother. Like Mu Wan Qing, I was so annoyed by the mask they created for her. It was really odd and disturbing. Even if I wanted to say she was part of the four evils after all and they were all weird, but it was really distracting. Yet she wasn’t bad as Ye Er Niang. The reunion scene with her son was really tragic and touching.
    • Lin Yi Zheng (林以政) as Yue Lao San (岳老三). Duan Yu’s disciple. He was seriously funny in here. (My favorite Yue Lao Shan is actually the guy from TVB’s 1982 version–despite that version having many holes. But I have to put this guy in as well for 2nd favorite.) He had many funny scenes and was seen really loyal to Duan Yu numerous times. He tried to back out of the deal the first few times yet later really kept his words. He really tried to protect Duan Yu and died because of Duan Yu. I felt really sad that Duan Yu didn’t know that. Or did he overhear it? But still quite tragic with his death too.
    • Ji Wei (纪伟) as Yun Zhong He (雲中鶴). Um…they didn’t focus on him as much in here as some other versions with showing more of his kidnapping girls, but it was all right. It was somewhat funny that he was mocking Yue Lao Shan about being Duan Yu’s disciple at times. That was about it.
  • Lu Yong (盧勇) as Jiu Mo Zhi (鳩摩智). Royal Adviser of the Tubo Kingdom. They cut out some of his scenes in here, but it was all right. I rather they focus all around with different characters than linger on and on with some characters only. I kept making fun of his hairstyle in here and how he needed a comb (or two, lol). But must admit he’s a good actor with portraying the cunning person. Then later, he repented for real and thanked Duan Yu for saving him, etc.
  • Jin Ming (金銘) as Tian Shan Tong Lao (天山童姥). At first, I was doubting her. Not sure she could do it. But I guess having 2 people portraying her role made sense. Or were there 3? The 3rd one being the person who turned really old with white hair. (‘Cause I couldn’t really tell if the makeup was done OR a different actress. But I had guessed it was a different actress.) Not only had she managed to convince me of her cunning nature but also her cruel side as well. She was quite manipulative too. And I felt ten times more sorry for Xu Zhu whenever she hit him over the head. Seriously, major abusing but it made sense with her nature.
  • Alyssa Chia as Li Qiu Shui (李秋水). Very graceful and powerful. I swear Alyssa’s version made me feel more convinced as to why she has all these ‘abilities’ to seduce Wu Zai Zi and won others’ hearts. Many might be complaining of the age thing here again, but I felt it was suitable because people back then, especially those in the jianghu realm and knowing martial arts of various sorts could use their skills to reserve their beauty through time. It wasn’t until her death that she showed signs of aging.
  • Eddy Ko as The Sweeper Monk (掃地僧). The most powerful and enlightened monk within Shaolin Sect. Even if they exaggerated on his skills (as with many of the characters in here), I felt I could understand his role in the overall story better. He was the guy who could put a stop to the conflicts that had rippled several key characters’ lives in the past 30 years. The way they made him to be, it was easier to relate and how he was able to convince them to stop the killing and fighting.

Far-Out:

I decided to put these people in here, because even though they did make some major impact in the story but weren’t around as much.

  • Samson Lai (賴水清) as Wang Jian Tong (汪劍通). The predecessor of the Beggar Clan. Yes, the director decided to take part in the production as well with the ‘on-screen’ side. Yet he wasn’t around long. Just a little bit.
  • Min Zheng (闵政) as Ma Da Yuan (馬大元). Kang Min’s husband. A good person yet too soft-hearted at times. If not, how could he have fallen into Kang Min’s trap?
  • Gao Yu Qing (高玉慶) as Bai Shi Jing (白世鏡). Somehow, this version made him less manipulative and less despicable. It had pointed the finger at Kang Min being the master manipulator so he was seen more human in a sense. Yet it didn’t let him go that easily either since he did betray his good brother.
  • Wu Hua Xin (吳華新) as Quan Wan Qing (全冠清). Made him even more despicable. But as I flipped back to the novel and read some parts of it, it fitted with his actions.
  • Guo Kai Min (郭凱敏) as Duan Zheng Ming (段正明). He didn’t appear much except some scenes in the beginning and later after Duan Zheng Shun died. But he was fine. He did exude the kind-hearted person and all. But he wasn’t a coward toward Duan Yan Qing’s many schemes either. He was willing to protect his family and all.
  • Shen Bao Ping (沈保平) as Reverend Huang Mei (黃眉大師). Helped save the Duan family from an embarrassment scene that one time when Duan Yu and Mu Wan Qing were captured by Duan Yan Qing.
  • Wang Kun (王坤) as Zhu Dan Chen (朱丹臣). One of Duan Zheng Shun’s bodyguards. He often disguised himself as a scholar. His other skill was creating secret passages. Always great to have him around.
  • Wang Zheng Jia as Chu Wan Li (褚萬里). One of Duan Zheng Shun’s bodyguards. He often disguised himself as a fisherman. Though he was killed by Duan Yan Qing, he was aggravated by Ah Zi’s words. Hot-headed but still kind-hearted, didn’t deserve his fate at all. But what else could be done, right?
  • Hugo Ng as Zhong Wan Chou (鍾萬仇). Gan Bao Bao’s husband. I seriously doubt Hugo could portray it at first. It was because I was more used to his overly serious roles. This one? He sure was crazy at times, and he managed not to look intimidating. It was really fun to watch. And I indeed felt really sad for him with being a shield at times but didn’t feel too bad for him when he tried to bring the four evils in and even resorted to such tactics of even involving Mu Wan Qing into the schemes as well. Considering how his wife and Qin Hong Mian were good sisters after all so how could he do that to Qin Hong Mian’s daughter?
  • Hua Jiao (華嬌) as Ah Bi (阿碧). One of Mu Rong Fu’s servant girls. Stayed by his side at the end and managed to recruit some people to play out the “kingdom” scenes. Cute image and indeed quite clever with her appearance. She really exuded the ‘mischievous’ side as well, along with Ah Zhu when they both appeared at first.
  • Hou Jie (侯杰) as Bao Bu Tong (包不同).  Followed Mu Rong Fu until he was killed off. I found it really funny that he kept arguing with Duan Yu at various times and Duan Yu matched his speed, lol. Couldn’t blame him too much since he was being loyal to Mu Rong Fu after all.
  • Li Yuan (李远) as Feng Bo E (風波惡). Followed Mu Rong Fu until he was killed off. Also argued with Duan Yu from time to time though less than Bao Bu Tong, but also can’t blame him either.
  • Chen Zi Han (陳紫函) as Madame Xiao (萧夫人). Xiao Yuan Shan’s wife, Xiao Feng’s mother. Small appearance but really captured the tragic event of that time.
  • Zhang Ming Ming (張明明) as Zhuo Bu Fan (卓不凡). I seriously got confused. Did they merge his character in? Like really? That was indeed strange. But forgivable.
  • Alec Su as Wu Ya Zi (無崖子). OMG, he was so arrogant. Well, comparing to some past version, he was less arrogant with the words, because one of the versions Wu Ya Zi actually said that Xu Zhu was ugly, etc. This one only said he was just an ordinary little monk. (LOL) But I was mumbling about how he was so picky, lol. It was funny seeing Alec Su in such an old role. But it was enjoyable while it lasted. The flashbacks were also cool. Even if he wasn’t my favorite character, but I enjoyed Alec’s performance.
  • Gao Yuan Yuan as Li Bi Yun (李碧雲). Li Qiu Shui’s sister. Didn’t appear much but exuded the ‘goddess’ state all right. Better than some of her past roles. I meant like she usually would wrinkle her face all the time (or probably because of the roles) but this one, she was just passive or appearing kind of ‘cold’, which was fine. It created the mysterious aura.
  • Liu Chao (劉潮) as You Tan Zhi (游坦之). Seriously dumb. If not, why would he still loved Ah Zi so much after being tortured by her so many times? No wonder Xiao Feng let him take care of Ah Zi–even after the whole incident in Shaolin, etc.
  • Han Zhen Hua (韓振華) as Su Xing He (蘇星河). This version somewhat gave an out for him? Well, when I read the novel again of that part, it had actually had that part so he wasn’t totally blamed for the deaths of the Shaolin elders?
  • Wang Gang (王崗) as Ding Chun Qiu (丁春秋). Ah Zi’s master. Didn’t have much of an active role like some past versions but I was all right with it (yup, yet again forgiving the production team). He was sure lame. Like how he let his followers/disciples praised him to Heaven. It was really hilarious to watch. But after all, he was a traitor. And oh look, karma, Ah Zi betrayed him as well. Nice? Full circle? What was even more hilarious was how his disciples abandoned him after severing their ties with him at Shaolin. He got what he deserved.
  • Wang Jian Xin (王建新) as Yelu Hongji (耶律洪基). I swear, it was really strange seeing this guy portraying Yelu Hongji, but I told myself I was being influenced by some past adaptations. Yet I guess it was all right since he didn’t appear as much anyway.

Relationships (romance, friendships, etc):

  • Wallace Chung, Kim Ki Bum, and Han Dong as sworn brothers. In here, I could feel their bonds even more. Well, I could feel it for all versions that I watched, but at times I felt kind of loose, especially the ’80s version where it focused too much on Duan Yu’s chasing of WYY that I eventually felt like he wasn’t so into the whole ‘brotherhood’ as he’d claimed. Though he indeed did help his brothers when they needed him. Yet it was kind of loose. (The other two’s acting helped.) In here, I was glad they added in that bit about Qiao Feng and Duan Yu drinking together that one time after they left Heroes’ Gathering Manor (聚賢莊). Though Duan Yu wasn’t good with wine (and this version made him less dependent on wine than the ’80s version, thank you), he was still willing to accompany Qiao Feng and tried to drink while they chatted away. Then there was also the whole Duan Yu speaking up for Qiao Feng at various points throughout, not just standing nearby WYY all the time to annoy her even more and not speak up for Qiao Feng. (Yeah, I know it seemed Duan Yu kind of become a busybody with interfering with some stuff and needed to be told off about it but I was glad it was because he wanted to speak up to defend his ‘good brother’. It showed their bond.) Then later on when Duan Yu met Xu Zhu, it was a riot how Duan Yu kept teasing Xu Zhu about WYY at first but after learning the truth, he ended up teasing Xu Zhu about Meng Gu. Xiao Feng joined in on that joke later as well. They were indeed brothers. Cool team for me.
  • Wallace Chung and Jia Qing as Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng and Ah Zhu. My favorite Qiao Feng/Ah Zhu pairing is actually Bryan Leung and Cecilia Wong’s and it has always been that way since none of the others stick with me, even if I liked the cast portraying those roles. But this pairing has now moved up to the second spot. YES, surprisingly, they were so addicting to watch in their own way. Their scenes were increased a bit more, but that didn’t mean it was dragging. It added more depth to their story and the different portrayals of some scenes made it really funny and cute. I never thought of Qiao Feng and Ah Zhu to be cute, more like a mature type of relationship. Yet this pairing managed to make me feel it was all right to think of Qiao Feng and Ah Zhu as cute. Several scenes were dramatized to stir some emotions for them, but I felt it wasn’t too over. Like the heart-wrenching departure at Heroes’ Gathering Manor. Then the many conversations they held, though still sticking to some details of the novel, but there were differences. Like how she actually didn’t condemn him for the killing of that one medic when he was little, but thanked him for telling her the story, i.e. trusting her enough to confide in her. Who could forget the heart-breaking goodbye as well? (Though that was super fake that there was no blood involved when she received like 5 blows of the Dragon Palms Skills.)
  • Kim Ki Bum and Mao Xiao Tong as a couple. Interestingly, I didn’t feel anything for them at first. But then later when she appeared again to take care of him, I could feel the cuteness and her innocence and care for him. Even more when she was willing to just stay by his side silently only. Yet later Duan Yu got the ‘agreement’ from Mu Wan Qing so they also get to be together. Which was cute.
  • Kim Ki Bum and Zhao Yuan Yuan as a couple. OMG, I never thought I liked them so much. But they stuck with me even after knowing the inevitable of the plot with how they were siblings and they have to separate. I felt both were fighting harder for it to not be true. Then when they knew it was inevitable and when they were trapped in the cave together, they were fighting harder not to let the poison control them. Well, only she was suffering from the potion because he’d become unaffected by all sorts of poisons after those two creatures jumped into his mouth that one time. Yet I really liked her bravery with how she attempted to kill herself to just end it rather than giving in to some delusional thought that they couldn’t be siblings OR letting the other dude have the satisfaction of condemning them. Then he had to stop her. He reassured her that they would be fine. It wasn’t fake at all the way their interactions were. Though there were times after that event that she still wished that it wasn’t true with them being siblings and how she still couldn’t accept it, but it was hard to control it. She needed time still to move on, considering how he was like the first guy in her life (that was important). There were also times that Duan Yu thought of her, like that one time talking to Wang Yu Yan (as mentioned previously) and later when he was talking to Xu Zhu. It seemed like he couldn’t let go yet and he had to remind himself that they were siblings so he had to forget about her, etc. Then their reunion later. What made it even cuter at times throughout at relevant parts was how he called her Wan Mei (婉妹). Hey, at least I thought that was cute. Though time didn’t permit any more dramatic moments between them because of what happened in the end, I felt the production team could have done without the whole misunderstanding of Duan Yu and Wang Yu Yan. Though it made sense with Mu Wan Qing’s insecurity with worrying that he was like Duan Zheng Shun, and she sure had her mother’s temper yet I felt it was strange. They should’ve provided that little time for Duan Yu and her reunion instead.
  • Kim Ki Bum and Zhang Meng as a couple or just friends. Because of how they interacted from the moment they met until the later parts of the story, I feel like I could root for them more in this version. At least I wasn’t feeling like it was just an obsession he carried throughout and couldn’t even step away like a decent human being but just kept tagging her and annoying her–along with other people. Their relationship started quite pure. Well, he initially did dub her as “Shen Xian Jie Jie” (神仙姐姐), but moved way past that, learning to like and respect her for herself, not just obsessing over her because she looked like the Fairy Lady he spotted in the cave. The fact that he didn’t keep focusing on his silent bitterness and jealousy of Mu Rong Fu made it tenfold better too. Sure, it probably steered from the main theme of the novel a bit regarding his character, but I totally welcomed this change since I’m sick and tired of seeing Duan Yu with no backbone when it came to Wang Yu Yan. (And for the record, I didn’t dislike her in the novel because she didn’t like him, but more like not liking her because she wasn’t interesting enough for me–despite her intelligence.) I felt it was kind of sad that when I finally could like Duan Yu and Wang Yu Yan as a couple, they (the production team) decided to follow Jin Yong’s third version (aka letting WYY stay by Mu Rong Fu’s side). Well, it made sense with how the story developed because they were more like friends and how he really wanted to help her be together with Mu Rong Fu than just plain wanting to win over Mu Rong Fu. Throughout, they also made Duan Yu think of Mu Wan Qing and worried for MWQ more than just plain obsess over WYY so it wasn’t too much. Then she was always caring for Mu Rong Fu and MRF’s burden of having to restore his kingdom that she couldn’t let go either. So it made sense they weren’t together. However, as I said before, it was too bad when I finally like them yet they couldn’t be together.
  • Han Dong and Mona Wang as a couple. Seriously, so cute! So little time together yet worth it. The production team dramatized it a bit with how he missed her from time to time and how she set up the place in the ice room. And their reunion was quite dramatic as well. Yet I didn’t mind. It was indeed touching and cute. (LOL! Even the prince of Tubo got touched by it. Which he pretended to not care later but still funny.) Then the later parts. Again, so little but cute. Near the ending, it was kind of funny that he was about to utter the Buddhist chant but she grabbed his hand and stopped him, lol. It was like his habit and he couldn’t help it. The fact that they were so cute, I can’t wait to see how their roles would turn out and how their interactions would be for the new Royal Tramp.
  • Zong Feng Yan and Zhang Meng as a couple. What can I say about them? Not sure what other changes were there about them in the third version of the novel. But this one made it so that Mu Rong Fu really cared for her too. It was just that his needing to restore Da Yan went past everything else. I guess that kind of ending for them was suitable. So tragic in a sense because he would never be normal but maybe only in that way could he be happy and care for her. And she also got what she wanted. Even if his mind wasn’t normal anymore. It was easier for me to believe that she continued to follow him despite his past betrayals than her changing her mind so fast to follow Duan Yu. It felt artificial for me. Even if that meant she realized who was the real person caring for her all along. But considering how much she cared for Mu Rong Fu all these years, how could she just let go like that? Heartbroken, yes, but could she just let go? (Even if like I said above that it was too bad for her and Duan Yu, but it was more convincing story-wise if she ended up with Mu Rong Fu.) They seriously didn’t match cast wise though, lol. It was odd to me.
  • Alec Su and Alyssa Chia as a couple. I don’t care for their story, and it couldn’t be any other way. But I was soooo happy to see Alec and Alyssa reuniting again for this production. They dramatized that part so much but hey, it gave a different perspective into the story, lol.
  • Alec Su and Gao Yuan Yuan as a couple. OMG, it was strange how she finally won over Alyssa, lol. Well, technically, Alyssa and Alec’s characters married in here, but she was the one who had his heart. It seemed like their feelings for one another were mutual, with how she had taken a sneak of the wedding scene, etc. Then his stealing looks at her too, etc. Yet it couldn’t be any other way with how he wanted to stop the conflicts between the other two so they couldn’t be together.

Other good things about this production:

  • Music. I can’t say that it was epic or anything. Yet I really liked the background music used. It helped a lot with those dramatic moments.
  • Extended development on some relationships. I think I could feel it more than just the somewhat following the gist of the novel. It was like we know the relationships for those who read the novel or at least watch some past adaptations. Yet this one extended so that we could feel more for those characters and their relationships, not just using some subtle actions or words to make us believe. Like I didn’t even know why I was crying at various points, especially when some key characters died (duh, I know) but I didn’t really think much when watching some past versions, because I know it would happen anyway. (Well, except for a rare few scenes from past adaptations due to some performances that got me crying. But really rare moments.) Like I could feel the Duan family were really family, not just out there on their own, chasing their own ‘girls’ or whatever. Or some elaboration on some much-needed parts.
  • Expansion on the Shaolin Sect gathering scene. This was the part where various sects, clans, etc were gathered to clarify some matters and it was revealed that Xiao Yuan Shan and Mu Rong Bo weren’t dead yet. I seriously welcomed this one. Seriously, it never seemed enough in some past adaptations because of how they rushed it through and expect us to believe. This scene was supposedly the most important because it clarified all misunderstandings and took care of allowing Xiao Yuan Shan and Mu Rong Bo to stop their senseless killings and fighting. It was also the part where Xu Zhu was reunited with his parents (and eventually lost them). There were so many things going on. It made sense to focus on it more. The Sweeper Monk played a major role at this part also. (Like mentioned in his character description.) And this one chose (like some other adaptations) to let Xiao Yuan Shan and Mu Rong Bo really understand to “let go” and become monks for real. TVB’s 1982 version seriously insulted the Sweeper Monk by making it that Mu Rong Bo faked it. Seriously, I always have the feeling the Sweeper Monk was quite enlightened with his Zen talks to Xu Zhu for that version, but he wasn’t able to detect that Mu Rong Bo was faking it? Well, he had a hint of it and helped Xiao Yuan Shan to escape from Mu Rong Bo. Yet that had really insulted the Sweeper Monk’s ability to solve the conflict and convince them to let go, and also insult his skills as well. Seriously? He was that miserable that he couldn’t defeat Mu Rong Bo? So back to this version, the extended scenes throughout the conflicts, fights, and other stuff really highlighted the essence of the plots thus far, especially regarding Xiao Feng and Mu Rong Fu’s sides.

What was the downside?

YES, I would be lying if I say there are no complaints.

  • The costumes. OMG, only the Da Li people dressed well. LOL! The rest are like so-so. I know the production team was trying to make each region dress differently or whatever, and I previously said I found it nice that they attended to that detail. But some of the costumes were like really strange and like kind of too much.
  • Mu Rong Fu (慕容復)’s name. Thanks to someone on YouTube for this. In several flashback scenes of Mu Rong Fu and his father, it seemed like the Yan dynasty was still at war with some country YET Mu Rong Fu’s name was already “Fu (復)”? Because it was mentioned later that his name was to remind them to “restore the Yan dynasty”. SO if they haven’t lost it yet, how could his name be “Fu (復)” already?
  • Ah Zhu never seemed wounded/injured enough at major scenes yet others were seen spitting out blood even with minor injuries? Um, this one pointed out by another YouTube member. (Yes, YT users could get carried away at times but I seriously agree this time.) I don’t remember any more about the Shaolin incident with Ah Zhu spitting out blood or not after she was hit with the powerful strikes when she had stolen the manual. But during her death, they tried to make it beautiful BUT forgot all about the blood and all after she had received like several powerful strikes of the Dragon Palms Skills. Yet in a later scene when Duan Zheng Shun went to confront Kang Min, he got slapped by her and spit out blood? Was Duan Zheng Shun that weak? With or without the poison taking effect, I didn’t think he would be that pitiful.

MAD FUNNY:

Just to end this review on a positive note, I’m placing this section in.

  • Snowboarding. Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng was seen snowboarding down the mountain at the beginning of the series. SO wacko, but still cool in a sense.
  • The scenes where Duan Yu got into senseless arguments with Feng Bo E and Bao Bu Tong. I don’t know, I found it funnier that Duan Yu was able to defend himself but was witty, not petty. It drove the other two insane but still reserved a sense of comical relief for some of the intensity of the situation.
  • The scenes with Duan Yu and Yue Lao San. OMG, in here, it elaborated more and more on their master and disciple relationship than in the past. I meant in the past, Duan Yu would gladly call Lao San his disciple to get out of sticky situations, etc. TVB’s 1982 version especially made Duan Yu seemed more annoyed with Lao San than amused. After all, Lao San was part of the four evils so it made sense to not be involved with him. But for this version, it made it quite comical that Duan Yu enjoyed torturing Lao San a lot YET didn’t really disregard Lao San after he was finished using Lao San for some means. I liked watching every time how Lao San was questioning if the girls by Duan Yu’s side was his ‘si niang’ (師娘), lol. He especially tried to pull Duan Yu and Wang Yu Yan together, lol. Even if he didn’t succeed but it was too funny with him trying to defend Duan Yu from time to time. Oh yeah, the Shaolin gathering incident gained Lao San even more points for jumping out to fight with Mu Rong Fu, saying that Mu Rong Fu dared to bully his master, lol. And how could I forget the part that he sacrificed himself to defend Duan Yu and Duan Zheng Shun? Tragic all right.
  • Duan Yu’s comedic side in general. YES, I decided to just merge it into one at last. I don’t know, it’s very surprising that I like Duan Yu already and all. But I talk about him more in this version too. Anyway, he seemed to be the comic relief for the majority of this version, which was cool with me. The most hilarious part must be the part with the Shaolin gathering after Xu Zhu and Ye Er Niang already reunited, and Xiao Yuan Shan forced Ye Er Niang to say Xu Zhu’s father’s name out. Though that part was really touching and sad for both mother and son, Duan Yu jumped in to say, “Don’t tell me it’s my dad.” LOL! I cracked up so hard. Yeah, it sure fitted Duan Zheng Shun’s profile all right. Like meeting a beautiful lady, courting her, then left suddenly after a special “get together.” I wouldn’t blame Duan Yu for thinking that. LOL!
  • The scenes leading up to how Xu Zhu finally reunited with Meng Gu. OMG, I was going insane with how the Prince of Tubo was cutting Xu Zhu off when he was just plain nervous and possibly shy to disclose his secret in front of the crowd. (It made sense since he used to be a monk after all so how could he say it out like that?) But then later, I really loved that prince (not really) for his loud mouth. Because when Xu Zhu finally blurted it out the real answer and Duan Yu repeated it in a louder tone so the others could hear, that prince yelled out that Xu Zhu finally replied. LOL! It was just crazy!

So in the end, why am I praising this version up and down? Seriously, I didn’t expect to. So possibly it was because of my not much of an expectation that had allowed me to enjoy it more? Or was it because of the fact that the first version I watched never captured my attention as much? (Though I do admit I like some of the stories and events that managed to make its way into that version.) I finally figured out why. It was because the majority of the characters–regardless of the plot involved–got humanized in this version. I swear, past adaptations made me feel like they were going through the motions of just living the role by interpreting the characters in the novels and play it out–whether they decided to do this or that–or if the scripts call for it or not. It felt like they were just following along, except for some of the cast. I felt this one attended to more of the details regarding different relations and stressed those points more than just, “Okay, these people are related” or “these two would eventually swear to be brothers” and then that was it. I didn’t feel the relationships as strong as how it should be, even if some parts did get extend in past adaptations to dramatize different bonds as well. Well, some parts did get change and they didn’t stay true to it 100%, but some of those adjustments made it better, not exaggerating some points out to the point of excruciatingly painful to watch.

So recommended? Up to you. Since I stated many times before that I operate on my own wavelength. Seriously, I didn’t care to read too many reviews or side discussions from others. It’s actually for my sanity (or whatever it’s left of it), but I did hear my sister say people were complaining about it. It’s actually normal since it happens a lot when new adaptations come out. (And I was also blurting out my own “What” when I saw different stills too so I’m not saying that I’m innocent from those initial criticism.)

One of the pluses though is that Huace loaded it onto their YouTube channel so it’s accessible for the world to see. They’re working on the English subtitles as well so it’s cool. (Click here if you’re interested. And they should provide a link for English subtitles playlist as well, just search around their channel some more.)