Year 2015 in Recap

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Oh joy, I’m bringing this back since it’s another year of madness. How did it go? Let’s check the number first, lol. Yes, before I start bragging and realized it wasn’t worth bragging over, lol. But before I actually go into the stats, I would like to thank The New World and iHero for making some of the impossibles happen. Because if it wasn’t for the dramas, I wouldn’t have updated so much or kept it so consistent for the better half of the year. Also, anyone wanting to check out the stat report from WordPress, click here.

Total Posts in 2015: 365 (35% of all time). Yes, I took a challenge of trying to keep up posts for 365 days SO had to brag here. It wasn’t easy and some posts were less impressing than others. However, I think it was already tough that I managed it all year long. For this year, will I be continuing on this pattern? I want to but I would say no. Since quality trumps quantity so I’ll still be updating, still be my random self at times, but I won’t force it as an everyday thing. If it happens, it happens. Now, moving on to the breakdown of different categories.

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Times Updated on People on the Poll
: 284 (78% of overall). I took out Ady and Hu Ge early on so I didn’t feel like I needed to include them in this section. Anyway, because I did the 365-day challenge, everyone benefited–one way or another. However, Achel had a surge, leaving Jun Ya behind with only 22 posts, because Wallace, Joanne, Bianca, and Jacky ended up having more posts than him for the year. That knocked him off top 5 for the year yet didn’t damage his overall record too much. Talking about that, he was the reason why I held off so long of not publishing this post since I needed to calculate some of the posts again. Yet I decided to gamble and take out some and possibly double back next year to correct it all. Oh yeah, I didn’t count general updates for some people, especially those with higher numbers already.
Wallace Huo: 26 (9% of the year)
Janine Chang: 16 (6%)
Vic Chou: 12 (4%)
Joanne Zeng: 25 (9%)
Nicholas Teo: 18 (6%)
Xiu Jie Kai: 12 (4%)
Angela Chang: 12 (4%)
Zhao Jun Ya: 22 (8%)
Yvonne Yao: 7 (2%)
Penny Lin: 16 (6%)
Achel Chang/ Zhang Xin Yu: 34 (12%)
Sophia Chou: 6 (2%)
Ruby Lin: 16 (6%)
Van Fan: 9 (3%)
Eric Suen: 5 (2%)
Bianca Bai: 25 (9%)
Jacky Chu: 23 (8%)

Books Reviews:

Music Reviews:

Movies + TV Series Reviews/Episode Summaries: I will say that I was both proud and also a bit ashamed, because I was cheating for several dramas by inserting placeholders. I was trying to motivate myself to watch faster and/or fill the spaces yet things got in the way and I fell behind once again.

Fan Fiction:

Songs Translations: I think that it was too obvious that it was a Phil Chang year for me. Yes, I love that guy. Okay, mostly his songs, lol. But he is funny. Getting back to this, totally outdone myself on some levels. Overall, I translated 51 songs. OMG, that’s like major achievement for me in this area. The previous year, I only did 12, but that was because I didn’t really take it as a challenge. I think this number will drop the upcoming year since I won’t be forcing myself to update every day.

Chinese: 46

Vietnamese: 5

Side Updates: 130 posts – My randomness seriously has gone way past normal. I didn’t count some of the side stuffs. But The New World and iHero obviously dominated the scene for the beginning of the year.

For this year, I hope to bring out more quality posts, like I said earlier. I also hope to finish up the placeholder posts that I haven’t previously. Wish me luck and see you all next year!

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Full of Love: An Angela and Gillian Collaboration

(Credit: 英皇娛樂)

I haven’t updated on Angela for a while so was searching around for stuffs regarding her. I think the majority probably know about Angela’s good friendship with Gillian so this collaboration wasn’t too out of the boundaries. Yet if you don’t support, I would understand it too since we can’t like everyone anyway. This song was actually part of the soundtrack of a drama that shared the same name, which they also starred in together along with the male leads.

Legend of the Ancient Sword

I finally caught up with this one. Yeah, because mostly I never watch stuffs 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 do 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 do 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 whom 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 whom 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 whom 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, but 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 whom 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 whom 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 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 stuffs 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 for 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). 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 stuffs 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 parings, 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 was 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 weren’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 camp site 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 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 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 was 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, but I guess it wasn’t the worst. At least the overall was enjoyable enough.

Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain

Being a sucker for the majority of the cast, I finally gave in and watched–although I have already watched like two versions of this. I must admit I was having an internal struggle at first whether to watch–mostly because it was because of the incurable habit of comparing between different versions. Despite the fact that Wong Jing was the producer (which was the reason why I hesitated to watch in the first place), it was actually pretty good. Well, I have to say that he usually has good ideas, just that it often goes downhill OR was not properly handled so it often ended up being a failure. (I never forgave him for the ruins of Eight Heroes and World’s Finest so that said something.) This did not guarantee the ‘drag free’ formula though since the beginning was considered fast pace then it became so dragging by the time they had Hu Fei met all the girls. It was driving at viewers’ patience or something. But it was an interesting take at various times with some twists and turns. There was predictability within the unpredictability. Not that bad, but unforgivable with some parts.

Likes:

  • Alex Fong Chung Sun as Miao Ren Feng. I was surprised. I always have mixed feelings about Alex and would jump back and forth between pondering about his acting and this time was no different when I read the cast list. But his performance actually changed my mind right from the beginning. It was a good choice actually since with the ancient costume, he could pass as the righteous guy and how the plot was, I was convinced. With the help of the plot, his character unfolded in the later parts of the series, which made it even more admirable. I also liked that they explained why he was wearing such simple outfits than letting us assume further about the production itself. But it was because Miao’s family practiced hardworking attitude and believed in living a simple life hence his simple attires and not caring about his appearance.
  • Patrick Tam as Tian Rui Nong. No one in their right mind would like the character BUT I have to give Patrick the proper credit for portraying it so well. He made the character ten times even more shocking than imagined. The way the plot was written, sometimes I couldn’t blame him for being evil but more like others for being too honest and trusting. At first, when I realized Patrick was portraying such a despicable character, I didn’t like the idea and thought it would be better seeing Alex Fong in the role (since I’ve seen Alex portraying evil roles before), but I was wrong. Patrick was perfect for it. His cunning expressions and his darting eyes were deceiving everyone without them knowing. He could pass as a loyal person to his other sworn brothers but there was much more to him than met the eyes. I remembered Kenneth Tsang being awesome in the role, but Eddie Cheung was all right (possibly because of the jumbled up script so can’t blame him). Patrick brought out a different side of the character and maybe because of the script, but he brought forth a chilling effect to his character. The fact that I found it addicting to watch him throughout was even more messed up. But I was just too fascinated to see what else his character would do, waiting for him to push it to the max. It was a change to say that this was a TVB free formula so I was excited for once while watching. (Though the overall storyline was from Jin Yong, adaptations vary and interpretations were always different. TVB would always curve back on things so I thought this was a change.) What was even funnier and what I enjoyed even more while watching him was that he even deceived the Qing emperor without the emperor knowing of it. The emperor thought he could control Tian but the emperor was wrong major time. Tian was seen as a coward and/or obedient person in front of him, but Tian was not a fool. He played the part well and the emperor was just too arrogant with his power that he failed to see through Tian’s actions and/or motives. One of the most memorable scenes must be where he gave the letter that Nan Lan wrote to Ruo Lan to the young Ruo Lan. It showed in a way that he really cared for Nan Lan and wanted to fulfill her wish in giving that letter to her daughter. It made one wonder really what kind of person he was. Yes, he was greedy. He was despicable but there was something else within that cruel exterior too.
  • Alex, Anthony, and Patrick as the ancestors. I felt that Anthony fitted better portraying the ancestor than Hu Yi Dao and the other guys fitted in with him well. Maybe it was because they were at war that everyone looked so serious so it did not matter if Anthony was looking fierce.
  • The fact that the Miao’s sword and Hu’s saber were pinned on the inn’s name board. It made sense that they just kept it like that after that interesting round to go celebrate and talked rather than saying that their weapons weren’t by their sides but somewhere else hence creating the opportunity for the medic to place poison on the weapons.
  • Ping A Si was not totally at fault. Okay, so I never liked the character at all because of how he did not let Hu Fei know of the things he found out, like the medic poisoning the weapons, etc. But I must say that he was not at fault this time for just snatching the kid up and run. This time, it was Hu’s wife entrusting the kid to him so A Si did not have time to say anything else except obey. Hu’s wife was not to be blamed either since they were surrounded by the Qing soldiers and did not have any other alternative hence the quick decision to let A Si protect her son. Miao was nowhere to be found either so it was reasonable that A Si raised the kid. I actually liked this little change more since it made the plot less frustrating to some extent. Though it was still frustrating with the misunderstanding, I think I could forgive A Si a little more since he thought Miao was pretending to be honest but let Tian and the others secretly do other things to kill Hu and his wife. He did not fully understand but it was acceptable. Not to mention what he overheard what Tao told the medic about how Miao was in the whole scheme with Tian–if not, how would the plan be as successful. That was believable enough since Miao and Tian were known to be on the same side at first though Miao did dismiss Tian and the others. Tao mentioned that they were just putting up a front and was moving according to plan so that Miao could gain Hu’s trust. So A Si was not at fault to provide the wrong information. Also, what I liked about A Si of this version was that he was careful at all times and was never arrogant, especially during the time when he and young Hu Fei were still in hiding, hence he was more likable in that sense.
  • Hu’s wife did not commit suicide to follow her husband. Okay, another change BUT I loved this version more for this also. Just a little change but it made all the difference. Since she died in a more righteous manner than just wanting to follow her husband. That reason did not go well with me because it felt too much like she was shrugging off the responsibility of being a mother. Yes, it showed her love for her husband but it did not show that she cared for her son’s future at all. The fact that she was killed by Tian in this version made Tian even scarier.
  • The fact that some of the male characters were wearing braids and others did not. I was not sure if it was done on purpose or not. But I found it interesting because it represented what they believed in. Like Hu did not wear braids because he did not follow the Qing dynasty and resided in the mountains. Miao was traveling under the territory of the Qing dynasty too yet he was not wearing braids, which would be a major offense, but it showed that he was not worshiping and/or following the Qing dynasty either–and was staying true to his own dynasty. On the other hand, Tian was seen wearing braids because he was secretly working for the Qing emperor to get rid of all the threats. It showed that he was not just following the rules to be safe, but had ulterior motives.
  • The father and daughter bond between Miao Ren Feng and Miao Ruo Lan. Though Ruo Lan loved her mother dearly, she became understanding of her father later on, staying by his side. (Though it was mostly because she had no choice but to at first but she became a considerate person later on, knowing how much her father loved her and sticking through thick and thin with him.) I think I felt the father and daughter bond even stronger in here with showing Little Ruo Lan being abandoned along with her father and how they coped later on. (It caused me a few tears even upon seeing the sight.) Then how they were together since that day on when Ruo Lan finally realized that her mother did not want her anymore or more like not wanting to return to their home to live together as one family. It was just too late yet the girl did not understand. But what was interesting was the little girl kept her promise to her father. Though she ran away that one time with the intention of finding her mother, I thought that was just a way to show her longing for her mother and a hopeful thought of having acceptance from her mother–if it was just another small hopeful glint. Just like how she wanted so badly to open and read the letter–the one she suspected was from her mother (which was true to some extent). Her persistence in staying with her father when he was poisoned and lost his eyesight was quite touching also. Her caring gestures toward her father when she was younger was really something. Yet somehow I liked how funny it was that when Ruo Lan had grown up since her playful side was quite cute. (At least at first.)
  • Nan Lan’s death scene. Other versions often portrayed how Nan Lan died in Miao Ren Feng’s arms or how their family of three were finally reunited with Nan Lan being forgiven by both her husband and daughter thus seeking closure. But this one, she committed suicide by hanging herself and died instantly with Tian Rui Nong by her side, crying and begging her to wake up, apologizing for his wrong in yelling at her. The only similar thing was that Nan Lan realized how the sweet moments between her and Rui Nong were all fake, an illusion created to lure her in. She finally realized that Ren Feng was the one who really loved her and always found ways to please her. It was a big puzzle whether Rui Nong really loved her or was just using her to get back at Ren Feng but seeing the scene where Rui Nong cried and reacted after her death was really tragic. Patrick did a great job in this scene, causing for one not being able to help it but sympathize with him.
  • Feng Tian Nan’s death scene. Though he was a despicable character who resorted to any type of tactics to secure his position and connection with Fu Kang An, tricking his daughter, his death scene was something to think about. It was not just an open and close case like past versions but showed a greater depth by allowing Zi Yi to forgive him for the last time–as he had asked her before he died. It was like closure for them both with the complexity of things.
  • Ling Su and her shi jie (senior of her sect) reconciling. There were misunderstandings between the two parties and of course some conflicts with how things were supposed to be done. But somehow, it was really touching how they reconciled and finally resolved their misunderstanding. More like it did not matter anymore. The interesting thing was they both died at the same time so it was like closure for both. It was the last chance for them to reconcile and end it there. It was interesting how the senior finally restored her beauty and then seeing Wen Tai Lai and her son by her side and then disappearing. It was like her illusion was gone and she finally became in touch with reality, at last, facing her own demons before her death.
  • Ling Su’s death scene. I was utterly annoyed again with her selfish thinking when she thought of not giving Zi Yi the pill. But then I think Zi Yi’s words touched her or moved her to the point where she was not able to forgive herself if she let Zi Yi died. The struggle between the two extremes forced her to decide and not to mention how Zi Yi was prompt for time. When she walked to the corner of the room and realized how it was better that she died since Hu Fei did not love her made it a bit tragic. I could almost forgive her for what happened. I think Gillian did very well in that scene since everything was happening so fast and how devastated she looked after having decided what to do. Then when she crashed down, the moment was even more obvious and came into focus for Hu Fei and Zi Yi. Ling Su’s words were very true because Hu Fei did not pay attention enough to realize Ling Su was strike with the poison as well. But it was not in a nagging tone but more of a fact or an attempt to joke as a reminder how he would never like her anyway so it did not matter. The scene was worth a few tears really. I was still thinking at the same time if Ling Su was going to tell them about how Zi Yi had to drink the second pill to be safe but she did so I thought I could forgive her at last because she did not hold back information. Then there was also Hu Fei’s silent confession at Ling Su’s grave about understanding her feelings and what she went through. (Perhaps he was not so dumb after all or clueless BUT his attempt to hide and ignore the situation made it even worse for her, leading her to do many foolish things.) Although his confession was a way to answer her even if she was not able to hear it, I felt there was no point anymore since what good did it do? She was already dead. (Like I said, I do not blame him for loving Zi Yi, but he should’ve severe the tie between him and Ling Su faster than that if he knew rather than pretending not to know, causing more troubles.)
  • Fu Kang An’s reaction upon hearing about Zi Yi’s death. Although Zi Yi didn’t technically die, the way the soldier was coming back and reporting to Fu Kang An, it was said as if Zi Yi was already dead. It was interesting to see how Fu Kang An reacted since there was actually a tear forming in his eye and dripping down. It made one wonder if he really loved Zi Yi or was just wanting to possess her because she was someone who was hard to conquer. It was still something to think about.
  • Tian Rui Nong’s reaction upon seeing the grown-up Ruo Lan. A flashback image of Nan Lan was seen when a disguised Ruo Lan revealed herself to the others when they were inside the mansion up in the mountain. It was interesting to see what Tian–a person who couldn’t care less about keeping his words–would obey Ruo Lan’s order of returning the pills to Zi Yi like that. It seemed like he was experiencing a moment of the past because of how Ruo Lan resembled her mother. Not to mention how we were able to see and question that he really loved Nan Lan, not just using her like he first thought of doing.
  • Tian Rui Nong was the one who found the treasures and many other things. Though Hu Fei found it first, Tian was the one who got to explore more of the cave and many other objects inside it. It was an interesting take since it was often times that the main guy stumbled upon those situations and not as much as the villain. Not to mention how someone did not bother doing research on the types of martial arts mentioned that Tian had acquired since it was mentioned in The Return of the Condor Heroes that people who think too complex or are deceptive could not learn those types of martial arts. That was why Huang Rong–a very intelligent person could not learn it BUT Guo Jing was able to learn it. So, therefore, Tian being able to learn it was NOT relevant at all. But still funny that they made it possible in this one. Possibly to build up for the last battle. (And I was right since that was what it was all about.)
  • Balance between fighting and talking. What I hate most about wuxia/ancient series was having more talks than the actual fighting scenes so I was glad there was a balance. There were lots of fascinating scenes, especially how they showed various parts where Young Hu Fei learned the saber methods and other skills as well. The remaining of the series became a bit lagging because of Hu Fei’s conflicts with the three girls but there were some fighting scenes in between to make up for it so it was not as bad or unbearable. The most exaggerated parts were the ending since Tian Rui Nong had acquired quite a skill and was the most powerful so Hu Fei had to work harder to win. It was too pathetic but still funny in a sense because you get to laugh at the people who didn’t do research properly.
  • Costumes. At first, I was thinking, “What in the world were these people thinking?” But I realized that it was more realistic that way. Unless they were from a wealthy household, would they wear those really elegant ones? It seemed less pleasing to the eyes at times yet it was suitable in such circumstances.
  • Effects. Thank you for not using CGI. Phew! (Okay, it was sort of there BUT not so sloppily done that it was noticeable or overwhelmingly ridiculous.) It could be used properly IF know how, but I have the impression that it was not used properly in the past since other creators loved to throw it in just to show that they could do it. OR they are just plain crazy and do not want to use the old techniques or other types of technique to reach the same result. But this one was a nice one, especially the fighting scenes between Hu Yi Dao and Miao Ren Feng at the beginning.
  • The reunion for Alex and Patrick since Split Second. Honestly, thanks to my mom for this one since she reminded me about it. Considering how their roles were in the other one, it was major payback time for Patrick since he got to make Alex’s life miserable in here, tricking and trapping him at every turn and twist. One of the most memorable scenes was at the middle of episode 25 where Tian Rui Nong asked Miao Ren Feng for Miao’s forgiveness and how Tian reminded Miao that they were sworn brothers. Miao thought for a moment before turning Tian down, saying that they were no longer brothers and how the next time they meet, he would not let Tian off as easily. It was a turning point for them with how Miao would be taking the action the next time, it was a time where Miao would finally draw the line between them both, declaring the ultimatum. It could be seen that Tian was very despicable and was able to resort to any tactic to escape from Miao’s grasp, knowing Miao was very capable of killing him.

Dislikes:

  • Anthony Wong as Hu Yi Dao. It was a miscast. It had to be. The only role that I was ever impressed of his was from TVB’s War of the Dragons and that was it. For this one, I don’t know. I feel like he didn’t fit the role. It didn’t matter if they had the outfits or build the plot around his characters, introducing him as the cool dude. The character was that way, so it didn’t matter or helped–at least to me. I didn’t care if he was not good looking or whatever, but I felt he did not have the proper ”da xia” (大侠)/”ying xiong” (英雄) aka “hero” look. Ray Lui was awesome as Hu Yi Dao, Felix was not far behind either. But Anthony Wong? I don’t know. It was just like he was too arrogant. I have a feeling Hu Yi Dao was more humble? No idea. The only good thing about it was that he was only around the first part of the series. That sounded mean since I remember liking Hu Yi Dao the last two times, but this time? I don’t know. If it was someone else, I would’ve enjoyed more. What was even worse was seeing him with a beautiful young actress by his side–again. I remember Hu Yi Dao and his wife were around the same age or at least NOT that far off? But this was just plain odd. So before I get into any more details, I’ll stop here.
  • The supposedly good friendship/bonding between Hu Yi Dao and Miao Ren Feng. Though they fought and there were misunderstandings but their friendship and recognition of one another’s talent was the highlight of the story. Yet I did not feel it while watching them interact in here. Usually, I would blame Alex for it not working but it was not the case sadly. Because this time, I felt Alex delivered very well and managed to pull his character through and collaborate to make it work. Yet, it was Anthony that I felt wasn’t pulling the weight OR at least was not giving off the right vibe toward the friendship. Again, I felt he was too arrogant. He swapped with Miao Ren Feng. Sometimes, I have a feeling that Miao Ren Feng was too cold and quiet yet he was a righteous person. Was Anthony forgetting he was supposed to be the humble Hu and not the passive Miao? I did not get the feeling of the whole ‘knowing the hero, respecting the hero’ concept that was often mentioned in those ancient times. Something else that made their bond less convincing was how Hu was so grateful of Miao for helping him with fending off Tian and his men the night Hu’s wife was giving birth YET Hu brushed off Miao’s attempt to explain so easily before the next battle that it was uncalled for. Though it was due to the misunderstanding that Miao did not care for Hu’s letter through the medic’s words BUT Hu should not be so rash like that. Hu was a straightforward person but he was not dumb nor rash about matters, especially toward an honorable person like Miao. So he should’ve at least tried harder to hear Miao out before fighting. It was a different interpretation of the storyline yet Anthony’s arrogant expression did not help the situation. I totally pitied Miao at that time with how Alex looked. Though Hu changed his attitude toward Miao again after Miao had received the underhanded attack from Tian’s weapon but it did not convince me to side with Hu. (Again, Anthony was still looking arrogant.) I was very sure that the script didn’t change regarding swapping their personalities since Miao actually admitted after the second round of duels that he was usually arrogant and indicated that Hu was the humble and straightforward one. It was supposedly through Hu that Miao loosened up and became less distant and cold, but I had a feeling someone wasn’t humble, lol. So it was Miao loosening up on his own–or something. I remember liking their bond because of how Ray Lui and Patrick Tse had portrayed it. But I was not able to accept this bonding through Alex and Anthony–though mostly because of Anthony’s portrayal. And I barely remembered liking Felix Wong and Vincent Wan’s portrayal too of their friendship. (I just realized it was a reunion between Felix and Vincent since Racing Peak? LOL!) The dialogues were mostly the same, which conveyed their friendship throughout but I always felt something was missing.
  • Nan Lan aka Miao Ren Feng’s wife. It didn’t matter which version it was, she was meant to be hated regardless of the reason. It didn’t matter if she came from a rich family. The fact that she agreed to marry Miao Ren Feng meant that she had accepted his background. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, her father was dead and he was a lifesaver so it was her only choice. A spoiled brat and probably more real than some versions often portrayed her since it made out like it was Miao’s fault for neglecting her for his martial arts. YET I think that this was more siding with Miao that he really tried hard to provide for her and took great care of her but she did not appreciate those, always wanting more and more and more. Yes, she was from a rich family after all and was not able to adapt to it, but since she had no one else and after all the times that she spent there, wouldn’t she be more cooperative and negotiate with others? But I guess she never matured to go past those materialistic stuff hence falling prey to Tian’s sweet talks and his many bribes. Yes, she did try to redeem herself after realizing that she had gone overboard, but she didn’t love him enough nor was strong-willed to resist from temptations. Maybe it was a mistake from the beginning with their relationship since it seemed like he was treating her like a child and trying to give in to her demands more than with the relationship of husband and wife. What was more, he was becoming strained and worn out with how he had to work so hard to make her happy while the financial was getting low. He was not just responsible for her life but the whole household. I did not blame him for feeling restless but I kind of felt that it was his fault in driving Tian toward her since he told Tian to go talk to her, thinking that Tian was a more suitable candidate for conversations. What a big mistake! A cliche mistake that often happened in stories but it had to be something to drive forth the consequences, right? It just meant that they wouldn’t work out in the end. So perhaps, I shouldn’t blame Nan Lan for all of it either since Miao was sooo dumb in presenting Tian with an opportunity to move in. Yes, Miao was honest and straightforward aka not deceptive or cunning, only thinking of letting his wife having a friend or whatever. BUT wrong tactic. He accidentally unleashed some problems. And probably this was a test of Miao and Nan Lan’s relationship too since they were not able to pass the test. Despite the fact that Nan Lan finally gave in to Tian and following him, but I think I have to give her credit for being able to stop herself from the enthusiastic talks or realizing some inappropriate conversation going on AND managed to pull away like several times.
  • Ma Chun Hua. I never really liked her in any of the versions. But this one was probably the worst one since she was quite despicable in trying to plot against Hu Fei as well. Though it was supposed to be for a good reason, why didn’t she stick to the original plan of having Hu Fei save her kid? It was easier that way since Hu Fei was more than capable. The part where she was apologizing silently and saying that she was doing it for her kid was really fake. She just wanted to become Fu Kang An’s official wife, NOT just caring for her kid like she claimed. There was no doubt she loved her kid but there was much more. Sure, she saved Hu Fei twice but did that mean she could take his life away from him like that? Trying to redeem herself afterward did not help since she already caused trouble.
  • Young Miao Ruo Lan. I don’t know. Some of her actions made me feel extremely annoyed with her at times. Yes, she was a kid and she had her smart-aleck moments and how she was such a spoiled brat BUT I was just so scared she would turn out to be some annoying person when she grew up as well. Perhaps it showed some character instead of the dull side or one-dimensional personality. She was smart in her own way but she was also so stubborn. But probably it showed some arrogant side of her father and the spoiled gist of her mother. NOT sure but that made me think that she inherited from both parents. Zhang Ji Ying had this arrogance aura on her that made me think of it as that way. Like she was a spoiled, stubborn kid. I wouldn’t expect her to understand that much since she was a kid but it was still a bit disturbing to see. And I couldn’t forgive her for stealing from Ling Su and causing troubles later on (aka increasing the intensity of the situation between Ling Su and her shi jie.) It was an accident but another disturbing thing that she was stealing from others and it especially reminded me of how she was stealing from all those shopowners when she ran away from home that one time. The bigger picture and the more serious matter was that Ruo Lan actually caused someone’s death when she was so young. She did something and was afraid others would find out, especially Hu Fei, so she rather ignored it and the consequences than to try to redeem herself. I could no longer forgive her for being a kid anymore. Miao Ren Feng probably felt guilty for causing her not to have a mother so he spoiled her rotten but I felt that it had turned her into some unreasonable and irresponsible person. It also reminded me of how her rash nature had always caused trouble. IF she had not been persistent with opening the letter from her mother, her father would not have been poisoned. YES, it would come sooner or later but she really wanted to open it so her father had to try to see if it was poisoned or not. (She reminded me so much of her mother that she would always get what she wanted or else.) And by the time they reached the scene of the river where Ruo Lan disposed of Ling Su’s shoes in the water, I could not even stand it anymore. Up to the point where she vouched to take revenge on Ling Su one day made me feel more than outraged–to the point that I did not care IF she was a kid, but had to call her ‘witch’ and doubting IF the scriptwriters were playing us, pushing our patience with her character. Regardless of how she turned out later, the little things she did when she was a kid would always stay. Like I said, her ‘being a kid’ excuse had run low by then in my definition. I no longer cared for her anymore and decided to just watch on after the scene in the abandoned house that night when she snapped at Ling Su. That was my last straw for her. It did not matter what she saw was really that BUT it was her attitude that had turned me off completely.
  • The fact that Hu Fei and Cheng Ling Su weren’t traveling together like I would’ve thought. I don’t know. I feel like the young Miao Ruo Lan was way too annoying and it was not essential to have her around while the other two were traveling together. I was looking forward to seeing this part and I would’ve appreciated it more IF there was no third wheel around. If Ruo Lan was more obedient and more cooperative as a sweet girl, I wouldn’t mind as much. I know they were showing some character in Ruo Lan but honestly, that was too much, making it harder to like her and accept when she was older. I meant, after all, she was the same character so it was hard to erase everything she had done when she was younger. I thought that Hu Fei would depart from Miao Ren Feng and the others after Ling Su restored Miao Ren Feng’s eyesight but that was not the case. I kept waiting and waiting but it continued on with them bumping into Zi Yi AND then more Young Ruo Lan annoying scene that I became super impatient and felt like Ling Su had been robbed of time spent with Hu Fei. Yes, I was glad that they finally left after Hu Fei confirmed with Miao Ren Feng regarding his father’s death and declared that he would return one day to seek revenge. BUT still…I was on my last nerves by then. Not to mention to throw in the fact that she saved him from the poison made it even more disappointing. He would be taking responsibility instead of real love. I rather Ling Su leave right there and then–regardless of whether Zi Yi left or not.
  • The fact that they made Ruo Lan the one responsible for Zi Yi’s death. I meant come on now. It was crazy. The scriptwriters were out to get every one of the girls. Not to mention making it tragic on purpose of how Zi Yi died. And the fact that everything was even faker since Zi Yi had 7 years with Hu Fei yet she DID NOT cherish those times OR kept her promise with Ling Su. She wasted all those times AND Hu Fei also wasted those times. What guilt? What not being able to live with Hu Fei because they would always remember Ling Su was the one who died for them? It was a total joke. It could be explained that they really matured and thought it through all these years BUT what was the point? IF they had valued the limited time they had with each other more, they would not have been facing such a scene of separation. I am NOT trying to defend or justify for Ruo Lan’s actions here since I wrote in the other part that Ruo Lan was responsible too regardless of the reason behind it, BUT I thought it was a big joke with how Hu Fei and Zi Yi did not take advantage of the time more. Ling Su died, giving them more time to spend together YET they were being too fake and pretentious that they DID NOT make good use of that time AND now that it failed, it was too late. The best way to repay Ling Su was to live every moment the best they could, NOT acting guilty–like Ling Su said. So why react so strongly knowing that the moment would come? (They still had to consider the possible happenings just like some outer force sabotaging them.)
  • The fact that Ruo Lan got raped by Fu Kang An. I swear this seemed like TVB’s 1999 version too much. It was like every girl got taken advantage by Fu Kang An, except for Zi Yi. I thought they would prevent it from happening. Regardless of what Ruo Lan did and all her stubbornness but she did not deserve this. Especially since she lost her memory and was already lured into Fu Kang An’s trap. I thought Hu Fei would arrive in time, BUT NO. The first time, they made her stab him AND the second time, he was too late. Stupid script. The worst thing that could happen and they let it happen. Were they copying The Return of the Condor Heroes with what happened to the main girl?
  • The fact that Tian Rui Nong wanted to claim Ruo Lan as his too. I know that he was testing her at times and pondering IF she really lost her memory. BUT that was really gross that he wanted to replace her mother with her. The scriptwriters really had sick minds all right. We all knew how despicable Tian Rui Nong was. NO need to drag it out and beat it to death regarding the matter. We got the message with all his previous actions already.
  • The fact that they used Patrick and Gillian’s song for this one. This was because the song was probably the Mandarin version of the song that was used for TVB’s Legend of Love. But the other version was sung by Gillian and Kenny Kwan.

The In-Between:

  • Nie Yuan as Hu Fei. To be honest, I was excited that it was Nie Yuan at first but then later when I saw the trailer, I was a bit hesitant. But glad that he pulled through after seeing him appearing as the grown-up Hu Fei. He was really witty and charming in his acts and was very clever. What changed me regarding his character was the whole triangle with him, Zi Yi, and Ling Su. It was only fair to include him in this list and not be too harsh on the girls. He was so wishy-washy that caused even more conflicts between the girls. He was really clueless–which could not be blamed, but he decided to take responsibilities but could not let go of anyone. I was all right IF he had chosen Zi Yi since she was the one he loved YET he insisted taking responsibility with Ling Su but failed to deliver. What was the point? Perhaps he was a man of his word and considering those ancient times with the importance of a girl’s life so he was taking responsibility for Ling Su, trying to do what was right. YET I rather he did not since it encouraged Ling Su’s many scheming tactics and caused Zi Yi to severe the tie between them both. His decision had caused Zi Yi to become the one taking actions since he was not strong enough to do it.
  • Athena Chu as Yuan Zi Yi. Surprise of all surprises, I didn’t really like how the character in here and how Athena portrayed it. I don’t know. It felt wrong though I knew her acting wasn’t the problem. (Or maybe I was never used to her style in the first place, except for in this one movie and that was it.) It just had the wrong feeling. I did not find her charming, witty or clever like I expected though she did try to exude that aura. It made me even more annoyed than actually be impressed or amazed by her actions. Not to mention that though I felt weird with some of the cast’s costumes in here but I managed to get used to it and found some good side to it or if it actually suited the person’s style yet the outfit for Zi Yi was poorly designed, making it unbearable to watch each time she tried to show off her skills, especially the very first outfit that she wore. And moving on, the hair made it even sadder since combined with the outfit, it made her looked like she came out of a nuthouse. (I do know it was not Athena’s fault for having such outfits or hairdo, but I was just pointing out the image for her character was a major failure.) Throwing in the tragic story was still typical but I still can’t find myself to like her for some reason. I somehow pitied her after finding out that she and Hu Fei were not meant to be because of this one incident BUT it was because the scriptwriters ruined the great foundation they established for Ling Su that her character finally rose above other characters. I ended up having mixed feelings because of other factors. Not because I liked her. And I think the whole idea with this was that I hated the fact that people often want to use the excuse of cutting off from the outside world, etc by becoming a nun or a monk. If they were willing, it was all right, but it was because they wanted to hide or because they could not solve the problems. I hated that the most so I could not pity Zi Yi as much as I thought I would with such characters. Her master was right that she was not ready but she was still forcing herself into it. The funniest thing was she looked prettier 7 years later when she was supposed to be appearing sickly (because of the poison still in her) than when she first appeared at the beginning. Very interesting. Perhaps the makeup team finally paid attention or they weren’t paying attention that much because of the long filming process?
  • Gillian Chung as Cheng Ling Su. Interestingly how I was influenced by the previous version that I watched so I did not like her as much. However, in this version, I really liked her character. Gillian brought some sweetness and grace into this role. Her character was not boring or pestering as it seemed to be in the other version but there was a mystery to her character with a mix of intelligence and complexity. She did things without reasons or explanations at times yet she had her own way of doing it. She did not mind that others were misunderstanding who she was since she did not care how they judged her but only wanted to reach her purpose, such as the time that she tried to get Young Ruo Lan to do the chores to get rid of the poison. Perhaps she did not have contact with the outside world as much so sometimes her actions or lack of actions caused troubles or misunderstandings yet somehow I did not hate her for it. I don’t know. Maybe it was a bias with how much I liked her character at the beginning when she was introduced. Or perhaps I somehow pitied her. Though my hope kept falling and falling as the story developed further, I still somehow liked her or perhaps pitied her like I said before. It was like because she was so afraid of being lonely after having found someone she could’ve depended on. I did not know why the scriptwriters kept making her character sink lower and lower in tactics since she was seen as wanting to separate Hu Fei and Zi Yi too many times for me to forgive. I kept telling myself it was okay that she wasn’t perfect but I was so disturbed because Hu Fei did not like her yet was stuck with her. She was too selfish for my taste as the series progressed. It was like she knew what she was doing yet she kept doing it. Some part of me did not blame her, considering how she had been lonely for the majority of her life, especially after her master’s death. Yet the other part of me knew that Hu Fei did not like her (as said before), so it was hard to endure. I kept wishing that she would get it and leave regardless of how he was stuck with her because of responsibilities. She finally learned to let go afterward and only wanted him to be happy yet I think it was too late since the damage had already been done. I did pity her a lot but it still wasn’t enough to make me liked her again. It was like she knew all along she could not get what she wanted YET she still wanted to get it. I didn’t like that. The excuse with ‘any girl would do that’ DID NOT go through for me since why didn’t Zi Yi do that? (Though I did not like Zi Yi any better.) Why did Ling Su have to be so selfish knowing that she would hurt Hu Fei by making Zi Yi go and separating the two? The constant drop of the jade butterfly was a HUGE reminder of how Hu Fei was not able to forget Zi Yi YET she still DID NOT get the hint or cared to acknowledge that fact made it even more frustrating. The fact that she said how Hu Fei was pitying her and was just doing some charity when he was caring for her like that was ironic. Since she was the one who clung to him throughout. IF she had any dignity in the first place, she would not resort to such means to get rid of Zi Yi. When she finally realized to let go of Hu Fei and told him to chase after Zi Yi, I didn’t feel she was being a bigger person for it, but I felt more like she should’ve done that ages ago. It was already overdue. Somehow though, Gillian did look pitiful enough that I was having mixed feelings YET I still could not forgive Ling Su for such actions.
  • Ady An as Miao Ruo Lan. Interestingly, Ady appeared on episode 27–probably around the time she should be appearing since the story was almost ending since they had only one last thing to take care of aka the battle between Miao Ren Feng and Hu Fei. For some very, very strange reason, I liked Ruo Lan a lot more upon seeing Ady. I don’t know. Maybe because of Ady’s smile. Despite her playful nature and somewhat stubborn personality, she seemed to have matured. Possibly because of her promise to her father with being more obedient in the future (that night when she found out about her father’s conflict with Hu Fei). Perhaps IF they had cast a different girl to play Ruo Lan’s younger version, I would’ve liked and accepted her action more. There were traces of her older self being quite unreasonable too. I guess they could not just make her character turn 180 degrees just because she was older now or supposedly more mature. They had to maintain some consistency with the character. Yet I wished she wasn’t so spoiled at times. I have to clarify that I’m not trying to be harsh on the kid who portrayed the Young Ruo Lan BUT I think that the script had been badly manipulated that it was hard to tell between Ruo Lan–though there was still subtle consistency (as mentioned before). It was like they did not do as a nice job for it. The possible reason could be Ruo Lan had grown up and was able to think of the consequences more than before hence her actions not as annoying or rash but there was something missing between the link of her character. Ruo Lan’s attempt to chase away all the possible candidates as her future husband was quite funny–though kind of mean. I really don’t mind Ruo Lan being stronger and more independent than the typical weakling character, just that I was not able to get over the fact that she was a little brat in the earlier episodes. Just when I thought it was safe to keep her name in the ‘Likes’ section, I had to move it to the ‘In Between’ since I could not forgive her for acting on her own and killing the flower that Hu Fei had worked so hard to grow it these past 7 years. Just because she said she did not know or did not do it on purpose she should not be forgiven so easily, considering how important it was. Yes, Hu Fei should have told her a lot more OR told her NOT to touch it OR tell her exactly what was going on. BUT she should have known better that he had taken care of it all along SO it was not like he didn’t know how. IF she did not understand something, ASK, NOT DO and then regret OR apologize. This reminded me of how she caused the death of Ling Su’s shi jie’s son’s death when she was younger though unintentional. She was seen as clever upon learning the fact that Fu Kang An knew Tian Rui Nong and showed her brilliant side by diverting out of the sticky situation. But somehow, I could not forgive her for the other thing (though knowing it was the script’s fault for twisting the whole thing). I wish I could like her character more than that BUT I did not want to make an exception because it involved the importance of someone’s life. The most disappointing factor wasn’t about how Ruo Lan was so stubborn and spoiled BUT the fact that she got raped later by Fu Kang An (like some other girls in here) AND then was reduced to a complete weakling that made the plot even weaker. I did not mind IF they butchered it so that her character learned martial arts later BUT what was more frustrating was letting her suffer so much through the trials, especially being raped. Since she’d gone through the hardships, she learned how much her stubbornness had caused so much trouble, BUT not to that extreme.

Interestingly Funny YET could be equally annoying:

  • Cheng Ling Su vs. Young Ruo Lan. It was so funny that they were doing a little face off when Hu Fei was trying to bury the other three men who accompanied them to that one place to find the cure for Miao Ren Feng’s eyes. I actually enjoyed Ling Su’s playful nature and how she tried to piss Ruo Lan off on purpose. Ruo Lan was such a spoiled brat that I did not even feel sorry for. Maybe it was the girl who was cast as Ruo Lan and partially because of the script. But it was funny all right. Ling Su did not want to fight with the little girl but the little girl brought it on herself. Ruo Lan was only a kid but she was so possessive already–though she might or might not know or understand love yet but I was thinking on a different level of how she would think ‘whatever is hers, she won’t back down’, etc–it was as if Hu Fei was her toy. I know it wasn’t that extreme but it was still a tad disturbing to see her having liked Hu Fei at such an age. NOT to mention Ruo Lan’s ongoing childish tactics against Ling Su made me even more annoyed with her. Ling Su was not calculating with her nor treating her in an ill-mannered way yet she kept causing troubles.
  • Yuan Zi Yi vs. Cheng Ling Su. vs. Young Miao Ruo Lan. I found it unbearable that Ruo Lan sided with Zi Yi just to piss Ling Su off. Although Ling Su sort of tried to get rid of Zi Yi at their first encounter, somehow I didn’t hate her or found her annoying. Somehow, I wanted to side with her more though I knew that Hu Fei really liked Zi Yi. It was just that Ling Su’s character was better written that made me feel for her and how Gillian had portrayed it. Unlike the other two. Though I somehow found Hu Fei’s collaboration with Zi Yi a bond that others could not replace (like the scene that they fought off all Tian’s men and the Qing soldiers), I would’ve liked it more OR liked it better IF the young Ruo Lan wasn’t around to be so annoying. The young Ruo Lan was just a deceptive little witch. The fact that she kept taunting and rubbing the matter in front of Ling Su’s face made me want to slap her so much. She was a little witch all right. Just when I was going to clap on Ling Su’s decision to leave after curing Miao Ren Feng, the scriptwriter had to go and ruin her character by making her do such a despicable thing. It was an accident at first because Hu Fei dropped the jade butterfly BUT I wished she had given him back the item regardless of whoever else stepped in to find him. It was like they needed to ruin her character too since after they jumped to ruin Ruo Lan’s character. That night, Ling Su actually returned the jade butterfly to Hu Fei and told him what happened. But I couldn’t help but wonder if she did it on purpose or if she was just answering to Zi Yi’s question unknowingly. I wanted to trust her but it was hard to predict her actions at times. Perhaps, she did not do it on purpose or meant to but she was lacking communication skills since she had been trapped in some isolated pace for so long with her master hence not knowing how to handle certain situations. But still…I wish it hadn’t happened. And I knew it was leading to much more since after Hu Fei was traveling around with Ling Su, she continued to cause the rip between Hu Fei and Zi Yi. I did not like it even if it was natural for her to react in that way yet it was petty and childish, almost reducing her to the childish Ruo Lan. I felt like the scriptwriters needed to ruin Ling Su’s character too to make matters worse or something. I just did not like it. I kept wishing that Ling Su would stop yet it kept getting worse. I hated how her character was ruined just like that and just like the others.

Conclusion? Not really a must watch but it was another perspective. Considering that I did not read the novel properly, I won’t comment on its accuracy though I could guess that they distorted it quite badly, almost as badly as TVB’s 1999 version, considering how they included the fact that Fu Kang An was involved with almost all the girls in here–whether the girls cared to acknowledge his existence or not. After seeing another butchered version of Wong Jing’s production, I finally vouch not to watch another one regardless of how good the cast would be. (Maybe that was why he needed a good cast to pull the production through.) And then I wonder silently why Jin Yong let Wong Jing do this adaptation since it was as bad as TVB’s 1999 version.

The Spirit of the Sword

Thoughts? It was good enough.

Like Factors:

  • Nicholas Tse as Hu Yan Da Zang. I really liked the character Da Zang. He seemed to be cold-blooded and ruthless through his actions at the beginning of the series. However, he was the most honest among all the others stating his motives from the start. He wasn’t like some other pretentious heroic figures in here. Acting wise, I think Nic did a great job. Even if he wasn’t the best out there, but I think that he passed for this series. I’m not much of a Nicholas Tse fan but for some reason, I feel that he was robbed in this series. Honestly, the majority of the cast had more screen time than him and Gillian. That was just too strange. Yes, there were scenes of him when he first appeared and all, but after that, it seemed to be less and less of him appearing somewhat in the middle and then near the end.
  • Gillian Chung as Zhu Er. As I mentioned before, I usually like the strong and skillful female characters more than the weaklings, but I really liked the character Zhu Er in here. She was very innocent and lively at the beginning of the story. Then she accidentally discovered her father’s secret and her life became so much more complicated. She suffered a lot and was forced to mature at such a young age. Gillian was a bit rusty at the beginning with her character transition but she picked it up as the series progressed and really made up for the rest of the series. Her portrayal of Zhu Er made me feel sorry for her yet it wasn’t forced or overdone at all. Zhu Er had gone through so much but she became so much stronger later on. (There were various schemes where she was overly worried for Da Zang but that was understandable. She wasn’t whiny at all so I really admired her for that.)
  • Patrick Tam as Zi Yi Hou/ Hou Feng. Although he wasn’t the most perfect character in here, he was a very interesting character. It was actually the mixture of good and bad that made his character more real than any heroic figures in the other stories. He knew he’d done wrong in the past and knew that he would have to face it one day. He didn’t hide from his past. There were delays of it, but because of other more crucial matters that they needed to take care of before that. Do I still question Patrick’s acting? No. He was good as always. He was very convincing with how he portrayed his character.
  • Zhou Li as Bai Yan Zhu. Although I have mixed feelings for her throughout the series, I must admit that I liked the complexity of her character also as an overall. She was stubborn and persistent in what she did the majority of the time but she did have compassion for the people around her. She could be rash or ruthless at times, but she still knew her limits. She wasn’t a perfect mother but she did whatever she could to protect her sons. No complaints about Zhou Li’s acting either.
  • Qiao Zhen Yu as Fang Bao Yu. I might not like Bao Yu at various points of the story, but I do like his character as an overall. It was great to know that he did eventually learn the skills to protect himself and matured along with the experiences he acquired from there on out. I think that Qiao Zhen Yu’s acting was really good since he managed to make me hate him at various points of the story for being so annoying and also to pity him because of all the burdens landing on his shoulders near the end.
  • The other characters. Interestingly, the majority of the bad guys in here somehow realized their wrong near the end and tried to make up for past failures. It somewhat highlighted the idea of forgiveness. Moreover, it reminded us that a person won’t just continue down a path forever. They could turn back like in the cases of Bai San Kong and Wang Dian. Whether they deserved to be forgiven or not was debatable but it wasn’t clear cut like that with “black” and “white”, but there were gray areas as well.
  • The friendship/ brotherhood between Da Zang and Bao Yu. Yes, they’d been enemies for the majority of the series because of revenge and conflicts of interest. (And possibly love rivals at one point as well.) But I liked it that they had this unsaid appreciation for each other as friends during the last few episodes of the series. It showed their great companionship while investigating and attempting to save Ben Yue. It shedded some light and paved the way for them to become friends first before dropping the big news on them that they were brothers. The last scene where they finally fought side-by-side as brothers and Bao Yu actually said that he knew that Da Zang won’t abandon him in the final battle was nicely done since they’d reached an understanding of one another–both as friends and brothers. (I actually enjoyed the scenes where they were competing to see who could carry more water, etc. It was quite hilarious to watch.)

Dislikes:

  • The ongoing struggle between Mu Lang Shen Jun and Princess Tuo Chen. I know that there were great conflicts going on between the two after Princess Tuo Chen found out about Mu Lang’s true self, but dragging it on for the rest of the series made it so lame and unnecessary. Yes, there was a deep love between them that was hard for either one to let go but emphasizing it the first several times was fine. After that once too many times was just unbearable.
  • The misunderstandings between Bao Yu and Ben Yue. I know it was really important and I got why Ben Yue couldn’t forgive Bao Yu for it but the dragged out element of it made the story so slow.
  • Hairdos and costumes. It was strange with how they did the hairstyle for Zhu Er/ Gillian near the end of the series. It was just too weird. And I think the only person who could pull off the one earring piece is Ady An in Chinese Paladin. (They should’ve at least made the earring smaller for Annie because it looked really disturbing more than creating a stylish effect.) Another complaint was the hat piece that they did for Gillian at the beginning of the story was too modernized–not to mention the outfit. Lucky she wasn’t wearing that anymore later on. However, the hat got transferred to Annie’s character or something. It wasn’t as strange but I thought it was still too modernized.

The first two factors above were actually the major reasons why Da Zang and Zhu Er had less shared screen time. It was like they were so robbed as a couple because of other side stories. I actually enjoyed watching Zi Yi Hou and Bai Yan Zhu more than those other two couples.

Relationships:

  • Da Zang and Zhu Er (Nic and Gillian). They were my favorite couple in this series (of course) because of how they were brought together and how they learned to appreciate each other’s company. It could be said as the typical hero with the weakling–as I like to put it. But it wasn’t typical at all in how they met and wasn’t as fond of each other at first because of how weird Da Zang seemed to Zhu Er. However, she was a smart and considerate person, not to mention observant too so she came to understand him more. He also learned to loosen up with her around. They were randomly tossed together because of a misunderstanding but clanged onto each other later for support throughout the series. They actually complement each other really well.
  • Hou Feng and Bai Yan Zhu (Patrick and Zhou Li). If it was being broken down and analyze more closely, it was very messed up with them. However, I think that it would be safe to say that she actually loved him–even if it was 20 years late. She was touched by what he’d done for her–always helping her and waiting for her, etc. (After all, she was forced to marry Bao Yu’s father in the first place and never really loved him since she was still thinking of Da Zang’s father the whole time.) It was really complex with them to clearly say who was really right or wrong. It was really subtle at the very end whether they ended up together or not–probably did. But it was acceptable in a sense that they still maintained their companionship.
  • Bao Yu and Ben Yue (Qiao Zhen Yu and Yang Rui). They were not my favorite couple at all but I actually liked how they grew and matured–eventually as they went through obstacles. However, I have to say that it got annoying at times, more Bao Yu’s fault near the end of the series with how he couldn’t make up his mind who to be with, etc. Yes, it was trying to show his responsibility for Zhu Er as a friend but it got annoying because he apparently said that he cared for Zhu Er more than that during that one time that Ben Yue walked in on them. So how in the world should Ben Yue react? Anyway, they were all right together since I don’t think I could find my favorite pairing for QZY yet.
  • Mu Lang and Tuo Chen (ZHF and Annie). It was funny that I actually liked how their friendship was developed at the beginning of the series. Their companionship eventually turning into love, etc with their understanding of one another. Maybe it was because of their deep feelings for each other that actually lead to such a tragic ending. As I mentioned before, they were the other reason why Da Zang and Zhu Er got less screen time near the end. It got really repetitive and annoying. But maybe it was how they kept stressing how much they loved each other and couldn’t live without each other that paved the way for the outcome, which was totally unexpected. He never saw it coming. Character-wise, not bad at all as a couple. Off-screen, freaky. Maybe it was because he looked older than his actual age so it made her look younger than him (plus the amount of makeup used on her).

It was a decent series overall. (The ‘good’ comment at the beginning was my personal opinion but to compared with other series, it was considered decent.) It wasn’t one of the best series ever made, but comparing to TVB ancient series, I say this was one of the better ones nowadays. (Somehow I can’t feel the mood for the ones by TVB anymore. It’s just too cheesy and forced.) This one was more daring yet didn’t seem fake with making it tragic but that was just how things turned out to be. (TVB tries too hard to teach us lessons that it tends to get cheesy with their ancient series nowadays. ATV makes better ones but they rarely make ’em anymore.)

Posted (on Xanga): February 23, 2009

Re-posted: Thursday, April 22nd, 2010