Okay, I watched this last year just like half of the population but didn’t review it yet. Yes, I actually watched it during the time it aired. What a miracle, right? But seriously, I didn’t review it yet because I thought I read the novels at long last before reviewing, unlike when I watched The Lost Tomb and came into this all blind. However, I had to halt the reading because I got busy with other stuff and also because it was too scary for my scaredy-cat ass to continue, lol. Then I just plain forgot about it. I ended up going back to it and then stopping again because of other factors involved in the story. I’m about 70% done now because of how many parts were involved and the mystery that ran on and on. And since I do not want to forget all the details of the series itself, I’m going to review it first and then circle back to add on later when I’m finally finished.
Anyway, this was surprisingly enjoyable. Okay, that was an understatement. Because I thought it was actually quite good. It had mystery, suspense, and humor rolled into one. I guessed that having the author himself being the screenwriter helped. Because as far as I read the novel, the feeling was about the same. It blew me away with how much the essence of the novel was kept.
- Zhu Yi Long (朱一龙) as Wu Xie (吴邪). He was surprisingly charming for this role. I’m not saying I hate him. I haven’t watching anything with him properly since Xiao Shi Yi Lang. Even that one, I had dropped it already and don’t know if I will ever come back to that. But what part that I actually watched of him in that one, he was really good with his performance. This one? It was like the character was made for him. I obviously read the novel after finishing the series (or tried to as said above), so when I was reading it, I actually imagine it was him while reading Wu Xie’s journey and it somehow made sense. That comment will probably seem like a slap in the face for the ones who root for other actors who had taken on the role, but that was just personal opinion because of the impression Zhu Yi Long made on me. So, not trying to start anything here, but just giving him the credit he deserved (and the rest of the cast as well for this review here).
- Huang Jun Jie (黄俊捷) as Zhang Qi Ling (张起灵). I think most of us mourned it when Yang Yang lost the chance of showing the character’s truth essence in the other one (because of the cuts that a certain production team thought was appropriate). But I thought Huang Jun Jie came a close second when it came to this role. Or maybe even better because he had the chance to portray the role to its fullest extent. So when I read the novel, I also imagine it was him, lol. But he was so lovable in his own mysterious way. He was there when they needed him, regardless of how dangerous the situation was. It was admirable and touching.
- Chen Ming Hao (陈明昊) as Wang Pang Zi (王胖子). Omg, he cracked me up so much. Who called it? But I guessed he did reprise his role from the other segment (as I looked up more info), so that said something. I thought he was perfect for Pang Zi. So random, so crazy yet showed a sense of strange loyalty to Wu Xie and the others too. By this time, they had been through so much already, so it made sense. What was hilarious was how he was wearing different shirts when he was home that got me going for a while, especially the Hello Kitty one. Who made that call? It was a hilarious take and showed a different side of his character. Outside, he was trying to be tough and all. But inside? It was another thing. But his sense of humor carried through for the majority of the time, though. So it was very consistent.
- Mao Xiao Tong (毛晓彤) as Bai Hao Tian (白昊天) aka Xiao Bai (小白). Oy, what to say about this role? I actually liked her in DGSD and thought she was really cute in there. But this one? Mixed feelings throughout and then I eventually became annoyed. It somewhat had to do with how meaningless her character was. Yes, harsh, but seriously, I just didn’t see the point of her character, except to stick in a female lead for the show because possible viewers’ backlash if they didn’t have one or something. I don’t know. That was the feeling I got. At first, I thought she was an interesting character and could be involved in that deceptive web too, depending on where she belonged on the spectrum comparing to other characters. Because the majority were acting suspicious one way or another anyway. I thought because she was in Warehouse 11 and all, she would be much more awesome than that, which she did show at first with her analytical and leadership skills in the control room. However, she got reduced to some silly fangirl. I tried to get past that by paying attention to the plot and how she contributed to it, but just found her role unnecessary to the overall plot in general the more I analyzed it. Perhaps, people could say she was a connection to Wu Xia entering Warehouse 11 and then eventually making it easier for him to investigate some matters. However, Wu Xia had proven his abilities to convince people wherever he went, so with or without her, it didn’t make a difference. Like Xiao Bai didn’t make Li Jia Le or Jia Ke Zi hate Wu Xia less. He broke some cases wide open hence earning their respect eventually. If she wasn’t around, he would somehow recruit them on his own to go on that trip anyway. Or if he didn’t want to drag them into it like he said many times before with some people in here, they would volunteer when they heard or learn more of his journey. So yeah, she was just around for me, not really making an impression–even if she was boost to be the main lead.
- Hu Jun (胡军) as Wu Er Bai (吴二白) aka Second Uncle (二叔). I was suspicious throughout, wondering if he had anything to do with Third Uncle’s disappearance. I swear, I suspected him more than Er Jing. Even if I thought Er Jing was involved, I thought he would have been the mastermind. How wrong I was, lol. Of course, I didn’t read the novel at that time, so of course, it sounded super silly to someone who already read it. And because I thought it was one of those cases of siblings rivalry again hence suspecting him.
- Baron Chen (陳楚河) as Hei Xia Zi (黑眼镜). This was surprisingly the first time I watched him in a series although I know who he is. It’s not like I avoid him on purpose for some weird reason, lol. But I wasn’t even the least bit interested in his past projects. One time I almost could watch him but there was a cast change, so he wasn’t in that series anymore. So yes, finally watching him and he was really entertaining to watch. His character was mysterious at first yet turned quite humorous later. He didn’t lack in talent from various missions they were involved in either. Of course, considering the history that was somewhat mentioned later when they met up at one point, it was expected he would be as talented. Or he wouldn’t have survived all these years.
- Maggie Huang (黄梦莹) as Mute Girl (哑女). She was an interesting character and actually ended up more helpful in their journey in uncovering the big mystery. She was actually quite cute too as time allowed for it. Aside from that, she was quite brave in her own way, trying to hold on and not cave to that despicable dude’s threats.
- Liu Chang (刘畅) as Liu Sang (刘丧). He creeped me out at first and I just didn’t know what to think of him. I did want to find out more about him, so that helped with concealing some of the mystery about him. It was revealed that he idolized Zhang Qi Ling, so that sort of fused his purpose and made him want to prove himself even more.
- Qiao Zhen Yu (乔振宇 ) as Jie Yu Chen (解雨臣). He didn’t appear much but played a key role in providing some information. It was disclosed that he was one of the key characters of the overall story. It was just that he wasn’t focused on as much in this one. I actually enjoyed this role of QZY–even if he didn’t appear much. It was a fun role, I guessed. He might have earned enough for some tea, lol. But nice to see him–even if really brief. Also, nice to see him portraying a sauve medic.
- Yu Ming Xuan (余洺轩) as Wu San Xing (吴三省) aka Third Uncle (三). I didn’t know what to say. I think they toned him down on purpose in here, even with the recaps and some suspicious things he’d done in the past. Because he was ten times more cunning in the novel. Perhaps, because of how they were trying to abide by the rules and had to skirt around some stuff for airing guidelines or something. I don’t know. I’m just guessing at this point. But somehow, it skewed his character as an overall and made him more likeable in some ways.
- Gao Qi Chang (高其昌) as Wang Meng (王盟). Worked at Wu Xie’s shop. He was playful and somewhat laidback throughout. Having such a boss who kept disappearing, of course, he had to keep some type of sense of humor, lol. Anyway, the interesting part was seeing how ZYL portrayed this character at one point–in disguise as relevant to the plot. It was hilarious and showed another level of ZYL’s acting. It was brilliant and showed consistency with Wang Meng’s personality.
- Tse Kwan Ho (謝君豪) as Boss Jiao (焦老板). What can I say except he totally got what he deserved? All that craziness and schemes. All the wasted time and he got nothing in return. Well, he paid a heavy price for it all.
- Wu Li Peng (邬立朋) as Jiang Zi Suan (江子算). At first, I didn’t think much of him except another complicated character within the web of deception that some of the major characters had to uncover. However, when his character was pushed forward into the limelight, his performance actually blew me away. Funniest thing was when I went to search for his info, I realized he was in The Deer and the Cauldron. It was just that I wasn’t really paying attention to him in the other one. Also, because of how he didn’t have much of a screen time, considering how that one went, it made sense with his character not appearing much. But when I went back and read the comment I made for his character, it was along the line of him not making an impact for that particular character, so I didn’t think much of him. Well, he sure showed me, right? LOL! Because for this one, it was really good. Considering how it has been several years now, of course, he had more projects under his belt and had more opportunities to take on other major roles, right? It made sense that he shone so brightly during his time in here. (Also, he was on my phone wallpaper for a while, lol.)
- Liu Yu Qi (刘羽琦) as San Ye (三叶) and A Ning (阿宁). Um, I don’t know if San Ye was in the novel, because I’m still far from the events after A Ning died and what the endgame was. But A Ning was seriously unlucky. I don’t know if it was more frustrating to watch the series version of her death or read the actual accounts in the novel. Both were equally frustrating. Like seriously? The author couldn’t develop her character more so he decided to kill her off? I got the message that life was unpredictable and they were in a very dangerous situation. But seriously?
- Chun Yu Shan Shan (淳于珊珊) as Chief Ding (丁主管). He almost won. I swear, he made a rookie mistake that he mocked other villains for. LOL! He thought he was prepared with trapping Wu Xie and all. So he was all happy and on his merry way of doing the monologue. Well, that was until Pang Zi woke up, lol. That was seriously priceless.
- Ze Nan (泽南) as Lia Jia Le (李加乐).
- Zhong Jia Cheng as (钟嘉诚) as Jia Ke Zi (贾咳子).
- Fan Yi Ze (范奕泽 ) as Er Jing (贰京). Who had it on their bingo card that he was the one? Yeah, that was a surprise for me because I wasn’t paying attention to him. But I guess that was the purpose of having him blend in? Like he was like somewhat there, being helpful at times to Second Uncle but didn’t really stand out. Then bam, he revealed his cards. Well, I knew someone within the group was a suspect because of information leaking out, but I just thought he was annoyed with Wu Xie for running off and causing him having to take care of things according to Second Uncle’s commands, etc. I sort of had the feeling he was jealous of Wu Xie as well. But I couldn’t guess the scale of impact he had on the plot. So yeah, good one. However, he also made a big mistake by chasing after something so vague that made it laughable. But I guess that showed even the strongest villains had their weak spot somewhere.
- Qu Ying (瞿颖) as Ye Piao Piao (叶飘飘). I didn’t expect her to die. I swear, I thought she would have made it through. At one point, I was scared that she would fall into Xue Wu’s trap somehow and cause trouble for Pang Zi and the others. She somewhat did misunderstand some stuff at first but tried to get away later. It was indeed tragic how things turned out.
- Zhang Fan (张帆) as Xue Wu (薛五). He was really, really, really annoying. Seriously. So I totally enjoyed that scene when they tore up his house, lol.
- He Long Long (何龙龙) as Huo Dao Fu (霍道夫). He was an interesting character, which might motivate me to watch the other one he was in. However, I wonder how much he appeared in the other one.
Relationships – family, friends, romances:
- Zhu Yi Long, Huang Jun Jie, and Chen Ming Hao as Iron Triangle. What can I say? I loved the team. They were perfect. They worked well together and created the impression they were indeed the iron three. I thought the series (regardless of adaptations) gave more leverage to Wu Xia and boost him up a little more to the level of the other two. I thought this one even surpassed all the other adaptations with bridging the gap of Wu Xie’s abilities compared to the novel. Because the other two had to save his ass A LOT in the novel. Sure, he was smart, but he was just too annoying for me in some ways with his inactiveness. It was like he stumbled into surviving throughout either by others saving him or by luck. So yeah, it didn’t make impression on me as much in the novel with the golden three versus how different adaptations led us on. Also, the reason he survived it all was because he was the storyteller, he couldn’t die. So yeah.
- Zhu Yi Long and Mao Xiao Tong? How about no? Luckily, the author thought the same. I was so scared that they would end up together–just because they were listed as the main leads in the credits. Mean, but I was so annoyed with her by the halfway mark that I didn’t want to see her anymore hence hoping that it didn’t turn into some soapy romance. I have no problem if they were to pair up for another drama, but in the context of this particular plot, I didn’t really like the idea. So yeah.
- Baron and Maggie. I liked them. They were hilarious, but also cute in a way—as far as the plot allowed.
- Zhu Yi Long vs. Wu Li Peng. This both had to do with the conflicts they went through as characters and also of how both actors had to portray someone else at various points. That part where Wu Xie disguised himself as Jiang Zi Suan to investigate on matters was totally unexpected for me but was also much welcomed with seeing how Wu Li Peng portrayed Wu Xie in the way that it would be consistent with how Zhu Yi Long had approached it thus far. Then later, he Wu Xie reused that identity to sneak into Warehouse 11 again. It was brilliant. What took it up to another notch was how Wu Xie had set it so that Wang Meng was disguised as him to throw off the enemy. Even if it was found out later, but that part was seriously convincing. I actually had to pause the episode and flip back because I was wondering why Wu Xie was acting that way and why he was eating a lollipop even. I swear I thought he was still inside the warehouse. I thought I click on the wrong episode in the playlist so I had to double check. Then as it moved forward, I realized what was going on. It was indeed nice to see. Both guys actually did really well portraying those scenes.
The Novel: I will come back later to wrap up because I’m not at the end yet but will approach it thus far as of my progress
- So, which one did I prefer, novel or its adaptation? I think people would be shocked to learn that I prefer the series more. Yes, regardless of production, I prefer the series more. I’m not trying to stomp on the author’s efforts here. Of course, there would be no movies or tv series if there were no novels. But I think my preference was mostly due to the fact that it was told from Wu Xie’s point of view. His biases and his lack of action and approaches at times drove my patience insane (as mentioned above). Sure, it made sense if it was from his account because it was his “journal” as it was hinted in the title. However, I agreed with Pang Zi when he said Wu Xie thought too much. He completely lived in his brain and the fact that he needed saving the majority of the time made it so frustrating. He was like the weakest link and he knew it too. Yet that didn’t make it better. Perhaps, I was so used to his awesomeness in this particularly series itself, so it was disappointing–to say the least–to see him so incapable. The balance of strength and all was so uneven that made it hard to accept. Maybe it was because in the events of the series, he had more experiences so it made sense he was more awesome. However, I couldn’t accept he didn’t even progress as expected when I’m already approaching part 7 in the novel. Sure, he was indeed very smart and capable of analyzing various scenarios, but I felt he was just living in his head too much. If the others didn’t react fast enough, he would already be dead. Hey, I think I picked on characters like Wang Yu Yan or other female characters who were boring yet were quite intelligent when it was the female characters. So it was only fair when I called out those male characters who were in the similar category. Wu Xie had a sense of humor and at times his attitude showed that he wasn’t so one-layered. But he didn’t capture my attention as much as I would have expected. If it wasn’t for the overall mystery and what was going on, I would have given up already.
- The political conflicts and other controversial views. This was one of the reasons why I couldn’t finish the novel fast enough. I didn’t want to go there, because I was mostly interested in the mystery of the tombs and the puzzles popping up. However, it kept being brought up so I will say that it was a turn off for me. It was hard to ignore with their skewed perspective. Sure, I know I have a skewed one too. I think this is a matter of how we’re all brought up and taught. But the bias was too much for me to ignore. A sense of pride and stuff isn’t wrong, we all have it. But when it’s so skewed to benefit a certain side, you know what their agenda is. Not to mention how it was portrayed their group was full of talented people and only they could do it. Yet others who weren’t from their side? They were considered talent-less, etc. Sure, it was mentioned a certain group might have the tools and technology, but weren’t as talented to figure it out with the mysteries. While that could be true in a lot of circumstances, but it would make more sense to have a variety of people coming from various places be experts on various matters, NOT just one group from a certain place possessing those so-called talents only. It was too much of a slap in the face. Or perhaps, it was taught from their perspective so they were considered the pros? I don’t know, but it was just too hard to ignore with continuous mantra.
- Wu Xie’s biases. I know I listed it as the reason why I didn’t like reading or was struggling to hang on. Sure, it made sense that he was loyal to his family because it was his family after all. But his dishonesty drove me insane. He provided plenty of excuses for his people–whether family or friends. Yet he condemned that foreigner dude and made him out to be the villain? Seriously? Examples? There was always a reason for different people to do this or that–whether to rob, steal, lie or cheat. He excused them all because he knew them and provided the reasons–whether they were too poor, too desperate or whatever. Yet he thought that evil foreigner dude was despicable because he stole from his grandfather? Um, unless I missed something, his grandfather also stole the ancient fabric from a tomb. It didn’t belong to him. It was just plain karma that someone else lied and cheated and snatched it from him. So, was that foreigner dude despicable and vicious in his actions? Yes. But come on, stop thinking that anyone’s innocent in this whole tomb raiding business. And yes, Wu Xie himself, acknowledged those facts as well, many times even, but there was always the whole “but” explanation that made his family members or close friends seemed more reasonable than they actually were.
- “It” as the main villain. Well, somehow along the way, the author decided to cast an unknown force to be the villain and that one foreign dude was just another pawn in the web of schemes. That cranked the intensity and mystery up. However, he kept unleashing questions and mysteries and all these ridiculous schemes yet never seemed to tie it all up. It was like he was milking the story and stretching it out as much as he could. Suspense could work only so far when you feed readers with answers, seriously. People are probably thinking I’m bitter hence being so harsh on the author. I was actually pulled in right away and ended up reading for several days straight to finish the first part (during free time because I have to do other stuff too, lol). But the hype just died down when it seemed like nothing was solved and the details just kept latching on to pull readers in yet didn’t solve anything completely.
- The rich background history, culture, and other interpretations. This was probably the strongest point of the novel. The incorporation between different artifacts and history to the fictional world. It reminded me of both Jin Yong and Wolong Sheng’s styles. Jin Yong because of the in-depth history tie-in with the fictional characters and Wolong Sheng because of the various structures and its hidden secrets/ compartments, etc. It was indeed quite fascinating and intriguing. Also, I later realized why some stuff were eerily familiar yet just can’t seem to place it. Aside from the cultural context and the historical background, the rest gave me a major vibe of Jules Verne’s stories. Especially that of Journey to the Center of the Earth. Is this another attempt to break down the author’s world through my accustations? No, I just found it interesting. Also, many famous authors were influenced by other past authors before–or inspired by a certain genre. Or possibly coincidences. It wasn’t anything new. It was just that I finally solved a certain itching feeling so I thought I share.
Recommended? Despite all the comments I made up there, I think fans of the novel should check it out. (Because those were just my personal opinions and what type of formulas I liked.) Considering how the author himself did pen the script after all. It was worth it in the grand scheme of things. The reason why I started watching this was because of Qiao Zhen Yu. Yet his appearance was a grand total of three times, lol. But I was glad I stuck around because I was so sick of soaps—ancient or modern. I was glad to have a serious drama to watch. I’m not trying to stomp on other productions, but in past few years, the amount of focus on love stories had grown to an excruciating painful level. So, this was actually a gem within all those other ones.