Year 2016 in Recap

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Year 3 in doing this. I really want to keep doing this, but I felt that 2016 had been a complete letdown on my part. Granted, it was a terrible year on many levels. It had affected me so much, draining me emotionally that I didn’t feel like keeping some kind of streak anymore. I only did some posts when I felt like it. Then I also tried to pick myself up by the end of the year by trying to release songs translations back-to-back at times, not even saving them for later so cushion posts could do the honor. I just didn’t feel like updating a lot of things. At first, I had prepared a post about a particular pairing, but I felt like I’m better than that. Not to mention how I wouldn’t want to cause even more misunderstandings between fans. At times, it’s very hard to restrain. But in the end, real-life got in the way. I took the actions that wonderful couple took, instead of arguing with senseless people who are full of evil thoughts for them. Yet I will say that can’t be epic like them so maybe one day I will break out of my silence to go at it in one post to unleash all the bottled-up frustrations. Because I know one of those days I will just blow up.

Total Posts in 2016: 77 (6.5% of all time).

January: 18 (23% of the year)
February: 3 (4%)
March: 1 (1%)
April: 3 (4%)
May: 9 (12%)
June: 7 (9%)
July: 14 (18%)
August: 3 (4%)
September: 3 (4%)
October: 6 (8%)
November: 2 (3%)
December: 8 (10%)

Notice that I took the poll out for the stars. Partially, it was due to what happened earlier this year. The other part was because I felt kind of wrong with teasing readers about possible updates if they voted more or whatever. I’m grateful to those who participated and continue to follow my blog–even in silence. I appreciate the constant likes and all as well. I really do. It’s just that I don’t want to be leaving you hanging on that. Sure, I will continue to update for my favorites from time to time, but that will depend on how long before I take care of some real-life matters.

Books Reviews:

Movies + TV Series Reviews/Episode Summaries:

Fan Fiction:

I think the year reached a new low for fan fiction updates because of my distractions of other stuff. I can’t promise it’ll get any better this coming year. I’m sorry that I made those of you who are reading those stories wait for too long. But I can promise you that I will finish regardless of obstacles since I don’t usually scrap stories away when it’s well on its way. I’ll try to do a separate fan fiction update later this year to clarify some matters.

  • Payback – Chapters 4-5

Songs Translations:

Using Rebirth to start the year didn’t help at all. Despite the fact that I was having high hopes at that time. The year continued to dive with a lot of forced positiveness. But what else could I do, right? Hopefully the coming year will be better.

So, what now? I don’t think there is any other choice except to move forward. I want to keep being positive, ignoring trolls in general, and just focus on my own matters. I want to get back on writing posts about Jun Ya and Xiao Xiao Yu. I have been active on Xiao Xiao Yu for the first part of the year and then somehow faded. But I did update more on Qiao Qiao in the later parts of the year. I just have to continue on that track. Not to mention getting back into fanfics, because I seriously miss them. Focusing on just real life stuffs really suck all the energy right out of me. I’ll try to work on a balance. Somehow. Because I seriously miss this blog. What I did do though was letting this blog becoming somewhat official with its own domain. Yes, that was a mini-Christmas present for myself since I managed to find a deal. Oh yeah, how could I forget Janine? Although I did update on her this year, I was somewhat neglecting her and only updating randomly. I also want to get back to Penny. More importantly, I want to actually watch and finish reviewing some dramas I’ve been holding back on.

This might possibly be the last year I do this type of update since I don’t find the fun in it anymore. Maybe resorting back to the typical data from WordPress next year. Not sure. But we’ll see.

The War of Beauties

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Initially, I started this ages back when I was hunting down for Han Dong’s dramas. Yet I had to halt because I ended up seeing some spoilers. After calming down a bit, I decided to brave it anyway. However, I had to make sure about twenty times (exaggerating somewhat but it was closer to there) that it wasn’t a certain someone’s drama. YES, when it comes to catfight related dramas and dramatic soaps, I tend to double-check and triple-check just to be sure.

Honestly, I came into this just wanting to watch Han Dong and Loura Lou. However, I felt this was one dramatic experience that I definitely wouldn’t want to watch ever again. It wasn’t that terrible as in the sense of quality. It was well done on some levels with the scheming and the backstabbing, which seemed scary and sadly true in cases seemed during those times. What I meant as never wanting to watch again was because of how heavy the drama was. People are like going “duh” at this point, but I swear, it was presented with a lot of stuff that I thought could do without. Like most dramas nowadays, every single formula got tossed in just to extend the episodes. Sometimes I didn’t see the purpose. Mostly, it was just “wash, rinse, repeat” routine throughout. So I didn’t think it should be 48 episodes. Especially when it focused on the household conflicts for about 99.9% of the time and then rushed near the end to add in some patriotic aspects to wrap up the story. In case anyone wanted to argue that the title was after all The War of Beauties so it made sense with the conflicts within the Bai household, that was just the English title, the Chinese title was different.

There were also rushed scenes of people repenting in the end as well. The most unconvincing was probably Old Madame Bai’s apology narration before she died. Seriously, the majority of the family conflict was conjured and/or manipulated by her throughout. Yet she apologized at the end during the short thoughts? Really? She was seriously let off so easily, considering how she had thrown everyone’s lives off completely by the end. If it wasn’t for her wanting to get some connections for the business of the shop by making Gan Sheng marry Fu Fang, their lives would be different. Then she told her scum servants to drugged Fu Fang all these years so Fu Fang couldn’t get pregnant. That led to Fu Fang’s resentment in herself and eventually others. The pressure was too much hence seeking out advice from her mother (who had plenty of experiences in the manipulation department just like her mother-in-law) and that had unleashed a chain of events onward. Sure, in many situations, it was Fu Fang’s choice. She was an adult after all and should be responsible for causing so much pain and suffering throughout. That was my initial thoughts as well. However, having all the pieces of the puzzle at the end, I realized I should pity her more than condemn her. She was so stuck that she had to choose other alternatives or be taken down. Her actions–guided by whatever reasons–had caused Gui Qin’s death and the children of Mei Xiang, Qiu Lan, and Cai Wei’s. Those events finally caused others to fight back–one way or another–then led to her child’s death. But whose fault was that from the beginning? Even Cai Wei, who was so kindhearted and pure at the beginning got tainted by the end, realizing she couldn’t survive in such an environment hence fighting back as well. Did I like it that she finally got a chance to fight back? Of course, it was way overdue considering how much she had suffered and tried very hard to keep peace with everyone. Something had got to give. Gui Qin was just too kind and ended up paying with her life. She was actually the most innocent hence her death being more frustrating. Mei Xiang–driven by revenge–ended up going mad. I was furious with her when she attacked Cai Wei, causing the final strain between Cai Wei and Gan Sheng to forgo her revenge plan. But in the end, I think I pitied her more. She was already past insane. Losing her son and having to keep waiting for a chance was too much. Perhaps, the person I sympathize with the least–among the wives–was Bi He. Sure, I got it that servants back then weren’t treated with much thought and it was tenfold scarier living in the Bai household because servants died left and right–whether through abusive torture techniques by Old Madame Bai or it was because they had to be scapegoats for their masters. But what Bi He did was unnecessary that I felt hard to forgive. I didn’t care if she repented in the end. It was too late. Unlike Qiu Lan, she didn’t lose anything to start with, what was her excuse in attacking Cai Wei? (Well, having Fu Fang breathing down her back to get the plans going was motivated enough but since she was soooo smart–or so she thought–why didn’t she find another way to escape it?) Qiu Lan misunderstood that Cai Wei had caused her child’s death–superstitious or not, but she had suffered hence being driven to the extreme. What was more, I thought she deserved to have a light ending. She was probably the luckiest among the wives because she was finally able to get away from the madhouse. She also had a chance to reunite with her childhood sweetheart, Chang Sheng.

Back to the ending, I felt really frustrated with it. Not only because of Old Madame Bai’s brief apology with her thoughts but because of how no one knew how much she did throughout. Gan Feng never knew that she manipulated Mei Xiang into killing off Fu Fang’s child. He didn’t know that it wasn’t because of Gan Sheng. The brothers’ conflict was never resolved. Sure, they were all captured in the end and were forced to get along–if briefly. Yet they never knew the truth. Ma Guo An’s words weren’t for anything. They didn’t trust him anyway so it didn’t matter. The most satisfying was probably Ma Guo An’s death though. He totally didn’t see that coming. He thought he got away, but he didn’t.

The ending actually had a lot of deaths (obviously, duh, I know) and it was paved out quite tragic for those cases. Yet it only stirred up things in a controversial sense, not closing the story the proper way. Sure, in life, sometimes conflicts were never resolved and people die hating one another because of some misunderstandings. Then there were cases like these where one could never have a chance to say anything to one another. But they managed to throw in the parts with various parties interacting and making peace, why didn’t they let Gan Sheng and Gan Feng make peace too? Or was that too wrapped up? I swore Bi He and De Gui had their moments, which I didn’t think Bi He deserved yet they included that too. So why not?

What saved the ending was actually Qiu Lao Qi sweeping in to save them. He first appeared in the earlier parts of the series during Gan Sheng and Cai Wei’s first trip out. Although he was a bandit and seemed to be ruthless and bordering on the despicable side at first YET he kept his words. Or perhaps he thought Gan Sheng was as crazy as him so he decided to release them all and agreed to Gan Sheng’s terms. I felt that at least he was straightforward about being a bandit rather than acted all good like some people. After all, I guess Gan Sheng’s loyalty to him was worth it. Once again, Jackie Lui’s performance was amazing despite his short screen time.

Whose death was the most tragic? It was actually Xiu Fang’s death. I initially didn’t like her at all, because of how snobby she was and how she had joined forces with her sister to bully Cai Wei when she entered the Bai household. Although she often threw tantrums at first, her character faded into the background, because she didn’t have the cunning fiber in her to compete with the others. Defeated, she sought out Cai Wei to actually understand Gan Feng instead of trying to attempt at another scheme. That was, of course, briefly before she and the others found out about the affair between her husband and her own sister–whom she wouldn’t dream of in a million years with having any association with Gan Feng. She was interestingly like Qiu Lin in a sense that she was used to using her power to achieve versus the scheming bit, but realized, in the end, Cai Wei was a good person hence becoming allies with Cai Wei as well. That was so unexpected but so welcoming since she ended up helping Cai Wei in ways others couldn’t. To be honest, I didn’t expect her to die. I thought she would have fled home to seek her parents for some justice. That was my assumption based on reading some spoilers. But then I understood why she couldn’t go back home when that truth about Gan Feng and her sister’s affair came out. Her father only wanted to use her–like how he did with her sister–to forgo his plan in taking over the Bai family’s business. So why would he care? Her mother would be too scared of him to speak up for her anyway. Not to mention how she learned that her father had forced Gan Feng to marry her so how could she use her family pressure to force him even more and causing him to hate her even more? Even though Gan Feng had the right to get mad about the whole scheme from her father, but I felt it was too cruel saying those words on Xiu Fang’s death bed. Sure, he clarified what was going on and after how he just lost his child and all, he had every right to be mad and fight back, but I thought since Xiu Fang did try to be a good wife after listening to Cai Wei and no longer causing dramas around the house, he would at least treat her with some decency, not give her the cold treatment all the time. He didn’t need to accept her or be with her, but he could have made an effort to be nice or at least make it easier for her to live within the household. Sure, that would be hard on him, but I thought it was already hard on her trying to change her attitude and make him happy by cooking for him and more. (And I didn’t totally agree with Cai Wei when she chided him about how he’d changed and was becoming cruel. Although she didn’t know it was because of his mother’s manipulations that had caused a lot of things, she knew that his child just died and he became more bitter because of it, not caring for anyone anymore. So yeah, it wasn’t like I was picking on him on purpose.)

What about the others? Gan Feng actually was quite pitiful as well. In a way, he was like Fu Fang, being used by his mother to extend her power. Sure, she wanted what was best for her son, but he said he didn’t mind or care since Gan Sheng was his brother after all. His mother manipulated events into happening, forcing him to attack his brother and hating his brother until the end. He had his moments and hot tempers, but he had the right to be upset with how his life was turning upside down when he returned. He didn’t need his mother to conjure up dramas for him. What I felt was the most unforgivable about him wasn’t his affair with Fu Fang, but it was his attempt to save Cai Wei but had condemned her to a death sentence hence causing her child’s death too. It was the part where he and Cai Wei got staged and framed for having an affair, which led to her punishment and the ultimate damage with Gan Sheng’s trust. (I did curse Gan Sheng to death so he wasn’t let off easily, but this section is about Gan Feng so I want to focus on that for now.)

Who was the most loyal in here? Yes, there were a lot of loyal servants in here and other friends. There was no doubt Gui Qin was a loyal friend. De Gui seemed loyal to Gan Sheng yet later got pulled into other schemes. Then there was Mei Xiang’s maid, Chun Xiao, as well. Yet who I admired most was Cui Ping. She was like a little sister to Cai Wei. She never abandoned Cai Wei regardless of how bad things were. She and her mother actually–for the later parts that her mother joined her in the Bai household too. They were like the true family in here. They stuck together throughout. It was good to know that they survived the tragic events of it all. Also, it was a happy note to know that Cui Ping and Da Shan ended up together after all. I thought they were cute that one time. Of course, that meant I was so glad Da Shan made it through.

What about the main couple who was the sole reason why I dived into the drama in the first place? I initially felt sorry for Gan Sheng for having to face a lot of pressure. He indeed faced a lot of pressure. I pitied him for being forced to marry Fu Fang because of business connections. His other wives were either by obliging to Old Madame Ma’s request or by accident. I felt bad for him that he couldn’t be with Cai Wei only. However, I changed my view later when he supposedly was intelligent in many ways yet still fall into the traps of others, especially Bi He. Sure, he claimed many times that he didn’t want things to go on further with people fighting and all. Yet there were some things he could control. Then I felt like there were things he was good at saying and made others pity him yet he couldn’t fully carry out. Or he had overestimated himself so he didn’t realize the outcome until it actually occurred. Like how he claimed to love and trust Cai Wei YET when the test was there, he totally failed. What was most frustrating was how he kept falling into Bi He’s trap–even after he realized what kind of scheming person she was–like mentioned previously. Only in episode 39 that he finally managed to gain back somewhat of the momentum by giving Fu Fang the ultimatum, telling her not to cause any more trouble. He also told Li Chun to tell Bi He to stop all the fuss and that if Bi He was unwell, she should seek out the medics, not him. Although he wasn’t cleared of being a drama king quite yet. He acted like an asshole when Cai Wei told him she wanted to leave the Bai household. All right, I know that it hurt like hell that the one he loved said she wanted to leave him. YET Cai Wei was right. Where in the world was he when she needed him the most? When she was framed and things were going to hell? In the midst of all the tragedies, her father and Gui Qin died respectively and she was left behind trying to hold on, where in the world was he? He dared to say he was innocent? Even if he was hurting because of the misunderstandings but he did promise to protect her. So it was like I said, he overestimated himself and promised left and right without a care in the world–until things happened, that was. It wasn’t until around episode 46 that he realized what Cai Wei said was true regarding living within the Bai household and all. Again, I swore it wasn’t anything new with how messed up the house was and not so peaceful at all. He knew from the start, so I didn’t care when he acted like a madman. It was still unforgivable that it shall take another chaos for him to get it.

What about Cai Wei? There were many things admirable about her. She was probably one of the strongest characters in here. She was very smart and understanding of many things. Though she was seen quite feisty in helping some of the townspeople in unmasking some con men in the markets, after she entered the Bai household, she really knew her place. She didn’t want to rupture the atmosphere or cause trouble for others. It fitted with her personality since she was already so smart, she knew that her so-called mother-in-law hated her and know she should act proper to win the other wives over. What couldn’t be helped was how her righteous personality would override and cause more trouble for her, like how she had defended Gui Qin hence bringing trouble upon herself. But I felt it was worth it because Gui Qin had saved her life previously so it would be suitable that she stand up for Gui Qin and rescue her from Qiu Lin’s bullying. And her reactions to many things around her sure surprised me from time to time, especially how she ended up exposing the person who was trying to put some rats into the kitchen to sabotage her. Of course, she couldn’t investigate further with the person behind the schemes, but she managed to exude some power to deal with the situation. It showed that she wasn’t so helpless, needing rescuing all the time. However, what bugged the world out of me was her shielding the whole investigation regarding her father from Gan Sheng, causing her downfall in the later episodes. How frustrating was that? Even if Gan Feng had a point with how they should investigate first, etc YET Gan Sheng was her husband after all, and knowing her history with Gan Feng, she shouldn’t let others have a chance to harm her even more. Even though she understood afterward and realized Gan Sheng was right about how they should communicate with each other at all times, it was too late, because those tiny slips had allowed others to harm her. I know it sounded like I expect her to be perfect, but I felt she was WAY smarter than that. Even if it was her father’s situation and she just wanted to focus on that matter, but she should realize what she was getting into when she was sneaking around with Gan Feng when investigating. She redeemed herself during episode 19 onward, finally pulling herself up with the determination of avenging her father and Gui Qin. I gladly welcomed her return since she’d been passive for too long. Well, she had to try and behave within the household or try to merge in YET I didn’t like how she kept giving in to others yet kept getting shoved around. Her master plan proved that she was WAY capable yet didn’t want to resort to it unless she had to. Her efforts paid off since all the misunderstandings and conflicts were resolved by episode 42. At least what was of the past. Episode 44 came around and I wanted to toss something at the screen even more, considering how things were turning topsy-turvy again. Yet after I calmed down, I realized that must be resolved too in order for them to move on. That final conflict made them stronger, in the end, not falling into the trap of that one dude who tried to con Cai Wei into thinking that Gan Sheng had already left first.

Gan Sheng and Cai Wei’s conflicts finally dissolved around episode 46 when Cai Wei helped Gan Sheng with the overthrow scheme. That moment reminded me of the good old days of how they worked together to resolve different conflicts at the shop and other medic related discussions. I once again wanted the series to stay on the side of medicine-related stuff instead of the constant conflicts within the Bai household and all the catfights. It wouldn’t be realistic if they all got along, etc. However, I was so sick and tired of the whole back and forth scheming or fighting within the house. It was like SUPER repetitive so I prefer the focus on the medicine side. Even if I would have to deal with Ma Guo An and the other people, it would be way better. Or is it just me with being sick and tired of all the soaps of recent years and wanting to see other stuff?

The conversation between Cai Wei and Fu Fang when they were imprisoned sort of summarized the whole story. Yet it was much needed because they were finally able to make peace between the two of them. It was essential that Cai Wei pointed out that Fu Fang had the right to want her husband’s attention and love. Fu Fang also had every right to be jealous. It wasn’t that they were blaming society for anything to get away with what they were accountable for. But they did have a point with how men were allowed so many wives yet women were stuck in their position without a say. It was the truth, the cruel truth.

Recommended? Um, 48 episodes! Even if it was like 30 mins or so each episode, but I swore the intensity of it all was so much. I did get it that it was about the conflicts within the Bai household and all those wives, and then some other side dramas. Yet it all depends on what you like to watch. (Obviously.) I hang on because I actually liked the chemistry between Han Dong and Loura. And the reason why I dived into the drama in the first place was because of them.

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 the challenge of trying to keep up posts for 365 days SO had to brag here. It wasn’t easy and some posts were less impressive 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 Tseng: 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 a 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 stuff. 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!

Top 50 Actresses of 2015

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Okay, this is for the female side. (Go here for the male list.)

Translation:

1. Tiffany Tang Yan / Đường Yên

2. Zanilia Zhao Li Ying / Triệu Lệ Dĩnh

3. Fan Bing Bing / Phạm Băng Băng

4. Yang Mi / Dương Mịch

5. Angelababy / Yang Ying / Dương Dĩnh

6. Tamia Liu Tao / Lưu Đào

7.

8. Vicki Zhao / Triệu Vy

9. Crystal Liu Yi Fei / Lưu Diệc Phi

10. Jiang Xin / Tưởng Hân

11. Janine Chang / Trương Quân Ninh

12. Cecilia Liu Shi Shi / Lưu Thi Thi

13. Zheng Shuang / Trịnh Sảng

14. Betty Sun Li / Tôn Lệ

15. Ruby Lin / Lâm Tâm Như

16. Park Shin Hye

17. Ada Liu Yan / Liễu Nham

18. Tong Li Ya / Đồng Lệ Á

19. Viann Zhang / Trương Hinh Dư

20. Michelle Chen / Trần Nghiên Hy

21. Jia Qing / Giả Thanh

22. Yang Rong / Dương Dung

23. Gao Yuan Yuan / Cao Viên Viên

24. Wang Li Kun / Vương Lệ Khôn

25. Lemon Zhang Meng / Trương Mông

26. Stephy Qi Wei / Thích Vy

27. Mabel Yuan Shan Shan / Viên San San

28. Victoria Song / Tống Tây

29. Ma Su / Mã Tô

30. Loura Lou Yi Xiao / Lâu Nghệ Tiêu

31. Yang Zi / Dương Tử

32. Hayden Kuo / Guo Bi Ting / Quách Bích Đình

33. Hu Bing Qing / Hồ Băng Khanh

34. Jennifer Shu Chang / Thư Sướng

35. Lin Qin / Lý Thấm

36. Jacqueline Li Xiao Lu / Lý Tiểu Lộ

37. Krystal Jung Soo

38. Huo Si Yan / Hoắc Tư Yến

39. Bai Bai He / Bạch Bách Hà

40. Li Qian / Lý Thanh

41. Mao Xiao Tong / Mao Hiểu Đồng

42. Cecilia Han Xue / Hàn Tuyết

43. Ivy Chen / Trần Ý Hàm

44. Ying Er / Dĩnh Nhi

45. Yoki Sun / Tôn Diệu Kỳ

46. Di Li Re Ba / Địch Lệ Nhiệt Ba

47. Sophie Zhang / Trương Tuyết Nghênh

48. Anita Yuen / Viên Vịnh Nghi

49. Song Ji Hyo

50. Song Jia / Tống Giai

The Deer and the Cauldron: Review

Like I said in the other post, one has to get past the first episode before deciding to actually continue or not. I continued on because that was me. After all, I did wait for more than a year so it was hard to just let go. Besides, I was curious about what else was placed in.

This one actually continues the trend from DGSD in that it captured the story by the active participation of the characters during the actual events instead of playing on the recounts of other characters. Like how it was with the Zhuang family’s tragic event, they actually let the scene unfolded with how Ao Bai actually went through the whole process of presenting the case to the king too, not just some side discussions and then there were recounts later on. (Okay, bad example since in other adaptations–or the ones I did actually watch, they showed the events unfolding as well but only some glimpses here and there.)

Main Cast:

  • Han Dong as Wei Xiao Bao (韋小寶). After the first episode and then eventually the second, third, and fourth episodes, I decided to give up on him being Xiao Bao. NOT saying I totally hated it. I just feel that I’ll just watch him but his own version of Xiao Bao or more like Da Bao (大寶), lol. Because he was far from ‘xiao’, both age-wise and height. Yet Han Dong did make it bearable at times and enjoyable at others. So I don’t think his acting was terrible because his character in here was indeed like Xiao Bao in the novel on some levels, but considering the age of Xiao Bao in the novel, it just didn’t cut. So yes, after a while, I have to abandon the novel and just focus on him. So when I got past with looking at age and height, I was totally blown away with Han Dong’s portrayal. I will admit that he sometimes exaggerated with the humor. But the rest of the time, I can’t stop laughing or keep watching on to the next episode. It was like addicting for me in that sense, trying to see what else he could do. (Even knowing what scene would take place next, it was still addicting.) What got me laughing so much was how they changed some of his styles and made him used some deeper words to mock the people who came to cause trouble at the Shaolin Temple than his usual obnoxious self would use at other times. Then there were also some of his behaviors, not so over like how he was seemed so upset the majority of the time regarding some matters. Sure, he had his moments, but it was like the essence of the character from the novel coming out in here. There was a mixture of seriousness and humor–like it was appropriate at times. I like how he handled the situation with Jiu Nan Shi Tai, whether she deserved his pity or not. Yet he was sincerely helping her and trying to protect her (after the initial con), not just wanting to lure her away to save the king. He also worried for her. And oh yeah, I just loved his taunting expression. It made you want to smack him in the face too. At other times, you couldn’t help but want to side with him. He was just too slick and amusing on many levels.
  • Wei Qian Xiang as Emperor Kang Xi (康熙). He indeed exuded a very royal image in here and was charming as Kang Xi at times and strict enough as others for the role of Kang Xi. He could also be humorous when the time called for it. One of the most touching scenes with him was the part where he got to see his father again, talking a bit and saying goodbye for the last time. I also liked how he sort of still treated Jian Ning as his sister and pleaded with the empress to spare her, telling the empress he would have some sort of solution to the situation so Jian Ning wouldn’t go storming in to keep bothering her (the empress).
  • Wei Xiao Bao’s 7 Wives: Yeah, he has 7. Everyone who read the novel knows.
    • Zhang Meng (张檬) as Shuang Er (雙兒). Very disappointed in her hair. YES, even if it was on screen, I can’t even get over it. It made it even worse because I could say it was the angle of the pictures at times when they released the stills. But it didn’t get any better on screen. I rather watch her at parts where she posed as the guy since I wouldn’t have to see the hair. Well, the back part wasn’t as bad, but the front part would be better off as curls, not that hideous bit. Whoever thought it was cute to do that to her hair must be crazy. What else? They got creative with her character. It wasn’t the first time they switched up Shuang Er and gave her more stories. They went all out and made her somewhat of an undercover agent at the king’s uncle’s place. Then later, she stayed to assist Xiao Bao from time to time. It was bugging me at times with the inconsistent appearances like how it bugged me with Jian Ning’s appearance too early. But I warmed up to it later, so PHEW. I would hate to not enjoy watching Shuang Er and it would be a pity since I had loved seeing Zhang Meng as Shen Xian Jie Jie. What I really loved was the part about her posing as the ghost, it was hilarious and cute. But what got me laughing, even more, was how they made her not one of the servant girls for the Zhuang family yet she was the daughter, really? Then it got annoying again since she was appearing at the wrong time, especially the part where Jiu Nan Shi Tai appeared and it led to the part that it was focused on him and A Ke, etc, they made Shuang Er appear again and even the princess. So it was WAY off for me. And it was exaggerating things. Sure, I loved Shuang Er, but things could be just too much. What was that with the wedding and all? Then he wasn’t afraid of the princess anymore that he wanted to offend her? (Really?) Um, I got it that they had to change Shuang Er up since they did change her character to being the daughter of the Zhuang family, but it seemed like less appealing than before for some odd reason. YET, yes, I wanted to delete the previous parts, but I couldn’t do it, SO I will say YET after I took a break and calmed down, I continued to watch on and actually got sucked into the story. It was possibly because of the scene in the rain and the song, etc.
    • Wu Qian (吴倩) as Mu Jian Ping (沐劍屏). Funny at first yet it made her somewhat of a fierce person later on as she appeared more. I didn’t mind that. But what I minded was how it made her having some side romance with Feng Yi Fei. Luckily, it showed that she wasn’t just obsessed with him but she knew that he’d lied to her about stuff and was actually able to stand up for herself. What was even cuter and made me remember some scenes in the novel was how she wasn’t a doormat or too obedient to Xiao Bao’s words at times. Like how when they had the encounter in the palace, at last, she was really fighting him. It wasn’t until she realized he would help her and saved hers and Fang Yi’s lives that she was a little gentler to him, etc.
    • Zhao Yuan Yuan (赵圆瑗) as Fang Yi (方怡). The switch had me disappointed too because like I said in the other post, I sort of have the image of Zhao Ke as Fang Yi in my mind already. However, that totally changed when Zhao Yuan Yuan appeared as Fang Yi. She was indeed strong and powerful and suitable as Fang Yi. I thought she really brought out the character quite well. I totally forgot who was supposed to be cast as Fang Yi in the beginning. What was surprising was she made me love the character Fang Yi, which was super rare (as I mentioned before in the character introduction post). What made somewhat of a difference in here and was a bit interesting was how she acknowledged early on that Xiao Bao was actually a kindhearted person, even if his mouth was running at times. (YES, she said it after Xiao Bao left that one time to think of ways to sneak her and Mu Jian Ping out of the palace, etc.) What was puzzling was how they sort of cut short the part where Fang Yi was involved with the schemes of trapping Xiao Bao and luring him to the Dragon Island. Not like I wanted it to drag out. But I was just wondering if because they had to film some scenes again that they decided to cut it or if their initial intention had been to cut that bit of the story short and focus on the other parts of the plot. Maybe, maybe not. But in a way, I was glad. Even if they sort of took the easy way out. Yet maybe they were saying like Fang Yi wasn’t able to control a lot of things. Like how she and Mu Jian Ping didn’t really get in an official goodbye with Xiao Bao either, except for just standing there and staring at him, etc. The later parts didn’t let her off, considering it was already once too many times. It made sense and in a way, she wasn’t so passive about it. She did regret it but wasn’t becoming all pitiful either. It sort of made me respect her more than just plain play the pity card like some past versions. I don’t know. It felt fake for some reason, but this one, she wasn’t too trying to be pitiful in front of him when the actual confrontation came forth. (Well, the scenes where Hong An Tong was around was different since she was still supposed to be scared.) Or should I say some past adaptations either made it too pitiful and tried to say it was okay (even if we understood her situation), letting her off too easily OR just plain made her too WAY over? So I thought the mixture in this adaptation made it my favorite.
    • Viann Zhang (張馨予) as Su Quan (蘇荃). They had to make her look older than Han Dong, which was a bit hard, lol. Yet it wasn’t too bad. As long as she looked older than the other girls, it was fine. She was seriously beautiful as Su Quan and also quite brilliant and powerful in her own way. Yet when she finally followed Xiao Bao, she seemed gentler, which made sense as well. Yet she didn’t lack in intelligence because the other wives needed her to calm them down when they were too rash with their decisions at times.
    • Loura Lou (娄艺潇) as Princess Jian Ning (建宁公主). Hilarious! She was sadistic all right. Yet Loura made it really funny and addicting to watch even. She was sure full of tricks. They focused on her a lot in here but for once, I didn’t mind. Although she wasn’t supposed to appear so early like that, I soon forgave them because of Loura’s portrayal. She sure made me want to keep watching Jian Ning and what she might be up to next. They also got Jian Ning in on many schemes, like sneaking out to see Wu Ying Xiong’s face (with the suggestion from her royal maid). It was just too hilarious to watch. It made me even more impressed with Loura’s acting. Strangely, she was the only one that I didn’t mind appearing too much, although I did say I was annoyed with the whole way off with the wedding scene regarding Shuang Er and Xiao Bao, for some reason, I wasn’t that annoyed with her. Perhaps it was Loura’s portrayal. Sad, but yeah. Also, I loved that they included that she also got a chance to say goodbye to her father for the last time, even if he wasn’t her father. I mean since she was already appearing so early and all, it made sense to get her involved in those scenes too. Even if she seemed cruel and obnoxious at other times, but I thought it made sense to miss her father and demanded to see him and say a few words of her own before they return to the palace.
    • Mona Wang Ya Hui (王雅慧) as Zeng Rou (曾柔). So cute! Anticipated her appearance right from the start. So when she was around, loved her. She appeared on some parts that were off too, but I didn’t mind. I probably am appearing to be quite mean for picking on ZM/SE rather than Loura or Mona, but it was hard not to since it was too much out on the tangent with the wedding and all. Anyway, she was less active at times but there wasn’t time so I had to forgive them. The later scenes after she had followed Xiao Bao already called for a little more time so it was nice seeing her interacting with the others without being monitored by her seniors, etc.
    • Jia Qing (贾青) as A Ke (阿珂). She didn’t disappoint. Finally, a version that I could love A Ke from the beginning without getting petty about picking on her. There were many things that made more sense with the expansion of her story. The fact that they incorporated how she found out about Zheng Ke Shuang made it less like she was just following Xiao Bao just because of the baby. Well, she realized many things too, but I liked this version better with how she realized how scary Zheng Ke Shuang was, and tried to escape on her own. Even if she was unsuccessful, but she sort of saw his true self exposed to the point of unbelievable, wondering how she could have fallen for him in the first place. The scene of how she tried to inform Xiao Bao of Zheng Ke Shuang’s intentions though too late was also convincing. She exposed him to the max, which made sense with her personality, always straightforward and it fitted with her boiled up anger from inside as well. After being trapped for too long, she had to get it all out to the others, not just trying to score points with anyone or sliding by.
  • He Zhong Hua as Chen Jin Nan (陳近南). Wei Xiao Bao’s master and the leader of the Heaven and Earth Society. Um, he wasn’t supposed to appear at that one part and then on some other occasions. It was once again off. But since fighting was involved, I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. Regarding the actor, because he’d been in too many villainous roles, it was sort of hard to adjust, lol. However, in the later parts, I got used to him. He brought forth a different feeling to the character and was convincing enough in that sense.

Supporting Cast:

  • Samson Lai (賴水清) as Ao Bai (鰲拜). Once again the director took on an important yet short-lived role. However, he extended it a bit so it seemed like the character Ao Bai was fierce and ruthless and wanting to take the power from the king AND not just mentioned briefly at certain scenes. It was like the director refused to die so soon, lol. But I was laughing so hard at their attempt to come up with all the ways to attack him and take him down. And then eventually, realizing he was unstoppable, but not really.
  • Ji Chun Hua as Hai Da Fu (海大富). He was hilarious at times later. He was still creepy and cunning and unpredictable, but it made more sense that he tried to keep it under wraps with his investigations so he wouldn’t appear as suspicious. I found it funny that he was laughing at Xiao Bao too about Xiao Bao having to sew the handkerchief for the princess.
  • Michelle Yim as the Empress. Very beautiful and suitable for the role. Loved how they focused on her costumes, etc. Michelle didn’t disappoint at all with her acting. Whether she was posing as the fake empress or when she had acted as the real empress.
  • Li Qing Xiang (李慶祥) as Suo E Tu (索額圖). Xiao Bao’s sworn brother. At first, I thought he was too serious. Yet I realized it was suitable because of how things were with taking care of stuff for the emperor. Later on, when they went to Ao Bai’s resident to collect all the possessions, his humorous side shown.
  • Anthony Lau (劉永) as Duo Long (多隆). Also Xiao Bao’s sworn brother in here. He wasn’t supposed to be yet they added this bit (or was that in version 3?). They made him funny–as suitable alongside Xiao Bao.
  • Liu Zhang Sheng (刘长生) as Xu Tian Chuan (徐天川). One of the wise elders. Could be hot-headed at times,  but only regarding his situation.
  • Min Zheng (闵政) as Feng  Zi Zhong (风济忠). Supposedly a spy for Emperor Kang Xi so he knew a lot of stuff going on at the Heaven and Earth Society. However, in here, he was portrayed as a person of the Heaven and Earth Society yet wanted the leader’s spot hence conspiring with many others, like Ao Bai for instance. Still, later, he was also revealed to be a spy for the emperor. Or did he switch sides in here? It was getting too confusing with people’s motives so yeah.
  • Liu Chang De (刘长德) as Feng Yi Fei (风逸飞). Feng Zi Zhong’s son. A made-up character? I swear I don’t remember him. At first, I was annoyed with him appearing and all since he didn’t exist anyway. But then he appeared less so I didn’t gripe as much anymore.
  • Liu Wei (刘威) as Qian Lao Ban (錢老本). Hilarious. Got into a bunch of schemes with Xiao Bao when he was trying to send Xiao Bao messages via hidden letters, etc.
  • Galen Yu (余家伦) as Taoist Xuan Zhen (玄真道人). Intelligent and knowledgeable. Often the voice of reason and calmness among the group. Yet ironically, he was later stopped by others with his somewhat rash behaviors. Wasn’t too bad.
  • Wu Li Peng (邬立鹏) as Mu Jian Sheng (沐劍聲). Not really making an impression for me. He seemed too plain for some reason.
  • Wu Hua Xin (吴华新) as Liu Yi Zhou (劉一舟). Cowardly all right.
  • Ren Xi Hong (任希鸿) as Wu Li Shen (吳立身). Righteous and loyal to Xiao Bao after Xiao Bao saved him that one time.
  • Lu Yong (卢勇) as Hong An Tong (洪安通). They made him not only fierce, crazy, scary, and cruel in here yet also somewhat of a pervert. Yet I didn’t mind since just plain pile it on, lol.
  • Wang Yi (王怡) as Mao Dong Zhu (毛東珠). The fake empress aka Princess Jian Ning’s real mother.
  • Lin Yi Zheng (林以政) as Shou Tou Tuo (瘦頭陀). Princess Jian Ning’s real father. He was too funny for me to take seriously. But I guess that was the point at some parts.
  • Gu De Chao (辜德超) as Pang Tou Tuo (胖頭陀). Easily conned by Xiao Bao after his initial schemes with the others.
  • Han Yin Long (韩银龙) as Taoist Wu Gen (無根道人). One of the people from Dragon Island. One of the hilarious scenes I remember of him was how when Xiao Bao was trapped on the ship and he had to keep guard, making sure Xiao Bao didn’t make any rash moves. He kept saying “Don’t know” whenever Xiao Bao asked him a question. Sure took patience.
  • Feng Jin Gao (冯进高) as Wu San Gui (吳三桂). He looked fierce and cunning all right.
  • Jia Qing as Chen Yuan Yuan (陈圆圆). A Ke’s mother. Portraying another role in here, but it made sense since A Ke looked like her mother. Other versions had let the actress who portrayed A Ke portray her so why not? Also convincing, considering how Jia Qing had portrayed double roles in the past.
  • Samuel Koo/Gu Bin (古斌) as Wu Ying Xiong (吳應熊). I swear when he first appeared until several episodes later, I kept blurting out loud that I know him from somewhere but can’t seem to pinpoint exactly. It bugged me so much that I had to halt the drama like three more episodes later to check his profile. Then I realized who he was. Long Tian Xing from True Love 365. YUP! I remember liking him in there. So, of course, he looked sooo familiar. It was just that ancient setting versus modern. So now that I got my answer. It was a shame, but I thought he really suited the character of Wu Ying Xiong.
  • Lin Jiang Guo (林江国) as Zheng Ke Shuang (鄭克塽). Um, although Xiao Bao called him “White Face Dude” (literal translation here), I wasn’t sure if he was darker than Xiao Bao at various points. Mean, but I was serious, I was pondering. Anyway, despicable all right, and crazy like his master too.
  • Meng Fei (孟飞) as Feng Xi Fan (馮錫範). Zheng Ke Suang’s master. I had to get used to him being the villain. Those who watched really old movies/TV dramas know him to be taking on more righteous roles–whether just honest or at times playful. Yet I haven’t watched him for a long time now so I guess whatever, lol.
  • Wang Wan Juan (王婉娟) as Jiu Nan Shi Tai (九難師太) aka Princess Chang Ping (長平公主). The actress who portrayed her was seriously beautiful. They made her less fierce in here. Well, she could be fierce, but possibly trying to not go on a tangent for her too so made it less crazy on some parts.

Other Characters:

  • Jin Song (晋松) as Mao Shi Ba (茅十八). They made him appear a little more in here at the beginning and extended his scenes a bit. It was refreshing in a sense yet once again exaggerated.
  • Wang Lin (王琳) as Wei Chun Hua (韋春花). Xiao Bao’s mother. Hilarious all right. It was driving her crazy at the end with Xiao Bao’s drawings so she blurted out about him not learning how to read and write so they had to guess with the drawings.
  • Wang Wei (王薇) as Yin Hu (銀 狐). Her role seemed to reduce in appearance after they swapped out Zhao Yuan Yuan for her to take over. Yet it wasn’t too much since her character didn’t exist anyway so it wasn’t like it was too much of a loss.
  • Louis Tang (唐谨) as Wen You Yi (温有义). Hilarious.
  • Hou Rui Xiang (侯瑞祥) as Wen You Dao (温有道). Same, fun while his scenes lasted.
  • Roy Liu (劉德凱) as Shun Zhi (順治). Emperor Kang Xi’s father. Short-lived role but in a way, it was all right.
  • Ashton Chen (釋小龍) as Master Jing Yuan (静圆法师). He was actually the monk responsible for training a group of kids special techniques to fight Ao Bai. It was fun seeing Xiao Long in a monk role once again and associating with Shaolin as well. I was laughing too hard because they got so creative yet it wasn’t too bad. They raised Shaolin up to another notch regarding martial arts and all.

Couples/ Friendships/ Other Relationships, etc:

  • Han Dong and Wei Qian Xiang as friends or enemies or just plain simple thinking at one time. Minus the fact that they were supposed to be the same age so Han Dong looked odd alongside Wei Qian Xiang, I could accept this collaboration. They were indeed hilarious at times. Then as the plot moved on, I got used to them more and more as a team. It was indeed funny at times and hectic at others. I could feel the conflict within them, considering their roles as supposed emperor and just another person under his rule. Yet it wasn’t so. They tried to stay friends at times yet it was hard, considering how Xiao Bao already know Xiao Xuan Zi was the king. It was also a constant struggle with Xiao Bao trying to stay true to the Heaven and Earth Society versus the king. One of the hallmarks of their relationship was the scene in Xiao Bao’s cell where he begged the king not to kill his other wives and kids as well. He called out Xiao Xuan Zi yet wasn’t abusing it. It was a last resort for him in desperation. Finally, the king agreed. So he thanked him, addressing him as the king again. Then what lifted all the intensity of the past scene was how Xiao Bao thought they were all dead and launched right into cursing the king for not keeping his words and the king appeared and asked if he was done. He was far from done, lol. He wondered if the king got killed off by the Heaven and Earth Society already and said it was deserved, considering how the king didn’t keep his words, lol. Hilarious all over again and indeed it was hard to kill his childhood friend so the king let Xiao Bao go but with another duty, just not keeping him under close scrutiny anymore. To the public, Xiao Bao was already dead so there was no point, just let him be with his family and protect the royal spot.
  • Han Dong and He Zhong Hua as Chen Jin Nan and Wei Xiao Bao aka master and disciple. At times, Xiao Bao was really sucking up with his master and trying to get out of the old man’s maintenance. However, I think the best part that captured their bond as master and disciple was Chen Jin Nan’s death scene. I have to say that scene sold me more than how some of the past adaptations had it. At this point, not only dialogue was well performed but also how the two actors acted the scene out. I felt it was too routine with the other adaptations. This one sort of made me feel it was real. The music also aided the cause. And for once (or probably stretching it by now, lol) but I liked how they didn’t make Chen Jin Nan chide Xiao Bao for lack of trying to learn martial arts or other things. Yet he just said that regardless of whether Xiao Bao knew those or not, Xiao Bao was still his good disciple.
  • Han Dong and Zhang Meng as Xiao Bao and Shuang Er. Under her character discussion alone, there were mixed feelings, obviously. Yet I think that I got over some of those exaggerations later on. Like I said, it was the scene in the rain with him chasing after her and telling her that he had liked her a long time already, etc. It was really touching. The song helped also. Although they didn’t have as much chemistry as him and some of the others in here yet their story made up for it. It really got me sucked into it, which I swear I’m very stubborn (as seen with past comments). Yeah, so I got sold with their story and sort of forgave them for extending that bit. They went even further by saying how it took Shuang Er for Xiao Bao to be so rash as to point the knife at the king. It was in his desperation but it showed how much he cared for Shuang Er to do such. Even the king was shocked (which made sense), considering how Xiao Bao had never gone against him like that.
  • Han Dong and Loura Lou as Xiao Bao and Jian Ning. Already convinced of their chemistry in The War of Beauties, I wasn’t surprised that they once again shined as a couple. This time, their roles were totally different, especially her since her character had changed 180 degrees. I still loved watching them and was surprised that I liked watching them more than him with some others in here. Even when she was so obnoxious and out of line. Yet what I found cute with how he still tried to cheer her up near the end of the series. That was the part where she was saddened because the empress didn’t seem to care for her. He made up a lame excuse but still attempted to cheer her up. Sure, it made sense if he were to ignore her like some previous version where she was cruel. Yet I felt this one, he was fair to everyone, even Jian Ning. What I found cuter was how she kept tugging on his hair each time they were discussing stuff around the house.
  • Han Dong and Wu Qian as Xiao Bao and Ping Er. Cute. I didn’t know how they would fend though I did like the beginning story of how they met. Well, it was quite accurate with the novel so it helped. But their chemistry was still unknown to me until later. I found it was enough, not trying to be so dramatic on purpose.
  • Han Dong and Zhao Yuan Yuan as Xiao Bao and Fang Yi. Their story wasn’t really emphasized at the earlier parts of the story yet later it extended a bit to make it less frustrating of how Xiao Bao just forgave her like that. He brought up the past several times yet it was all for fun. Interestingly, the others sided with her, lol.
  • Han Dong and Viann Zhang as Xiao Bao and Su Qian. I think the addition of the side story of how Xiao Bao and the others saved her and gained her trust after the whole Dragon Island fiasco sort of add to the story, not just how he suddenly gained a wife because of the other incident. I felt it was hilarious too that she suddenly called him “Hubby” when he went against Hong An Tong.
  • Han Dong and Mona Wang as Xiao Bao and Zeng Rou. Was so ready to enjoy their collaboration again since I did love them in DGSD. She had fewer scenes with him versus the others, or it felt like so. But there were so many things going on already, so I didn’t mind that. I enjoyed how they were once again paired off.
  • Han Dong and Jia Qing as Xiao Bao and A Ke. Considering how their relations were in DGSD, I found it hard to imagine at first. But in here, they just jumped right into their characters that their interactions were addicting to watch. I was wondering when was the turning point and felt like that flowed nicely as well. Like I said in the character discussions, I liked how they made A Ke discovered more about Zheng Ke Shuang, not until like WAY later. That had seemed rushed for me with some past adaptations. So I liked this bit. I forgot what happened in the novel and will have to check. But this one totally won me over.

Likes:

  • The Continuance of Active Storytelling. It’s the technique I talked about at the beginning of the review, like how they would present the scenes and let it play out without too many recounts, making us see how each character had reacted during those times. I actually like this more than the passive recounts that it’s hard to grasp at times. Then the whole filling the gaps and explaining stuff at times made it more convincing in a way. Yes, I was sort of feeling like “What?” at times because of certain lapses here and there, but other parts made sense.
  • Music. Like how DGSD was, I liked how they worked on the music for this one as well. Loved the main theme and ending theme as well. Both were unique for its purpose, plus the song “I Really Am Not Perfect” during the rain scene between Xiao Bao and Shuang Er was really sad and touching.
  • Accuracy. Okay, take out the additions of stories, the essential scenes were seriously dead on. They even fine-tuned it a bit so it was even more flowing. I loved that. It amazed me even more.
  • Population. Seriously, sometimes in some adaptations, I feel like it was so weird. I didn’t watch the previous version, but some past ones have it so that it seemed like Xiao Bao was always by himself, especially when he was going out of the palace to do stuff for the king. Okay, NOT the later parts, but some parts when he was still posing as a eunuch. This one, it seemed like he had people with him, like the scene where he went to confront Wu Ying Xiong about the weapons and all. (And I’m not picking on the parts where he sneaked out to see the people of the Heaven and Earth Society, lol. Since it was essential that he went alone on those missions.)
  • The fact that Xiao Bao seemed to care about all the wives–and they learned to get along later on. Yeah, it was hard to be all fair, considering how many wives he had. However, this one, he tried to be as fair as possible. Even if he joked at times and brought up the past, but he still made extra effort to treat everyone the same. Plus, how all the wives got along with one another and at times even ganged up on him. It was a riot. Serves him right, I guess. Sure, they were somewhat scattered at first, but later they even helped one another with stuff or tried to work with each other to save Xiao Bao.

Discussions:

  • Should Han Dong and Wei Qian Xiang swap roles? This was actually addressed by many before when the cast was announced. I just want to revisit this again after having watched it already. Going into it, I was so seeing how Han Dong’s age and all were affecting it. However, when I watched on, I think Wei Qian Xiang was already good as the emperor. NOT saying that Han Dong wouldn’t look good being royal and all, but I felt Wei Qian Xiang fitted the role as the emperor so well in this case. If only Han Dong had taken on this role ages back, it would be great. Yet I liked their collaboration together so if it was years ago, maybe Wei Qian Xiang wouldn’t get this role? The gap in life and whatnot, but Han Dong didn’t disappoint me in acting, only appearance-wise that had worked against him.
  • Exaggerations/Additions. Um, mixed feelings throughout. At first, I was like: Really? YUP, I was that technical. I soon loosened up around episode 2. Although I was still saying “Really” throughout but I wasn’t as picky anymore. It wasn’t like I gave up on it. But I decided to see what else they could come up with. After all, some of the stuff they cooked up was actually hilarious, not always throwing in soapy stuff like someone and expect people to endure it. (Well, some people like those stuff but I don’t, NOT especially when it wasn’t supposed to be a soap.)
  • Cuts. (Added February 24, 2017.) For once, I wished they had cut out the part where Xiao Bao raped some of the girls that led to other complications and how they ended up becoming his wives for real. YES, it seemed like I just plain slid past it when I did the actual review. I seriously didn’t want to put in negativity and/or hostility into the review. But I felt like I had tried to ease out of it just for the sake of peace–even if just discussing some plot. I felt I needed to go back and address it. Like I said, in the past when I watched different versions of it, I didn’t think much and thought that it was just following a scene from the novel. Yet when I finally snapped out of the robotic mood, I was just really disturbed by it. Yes, I will say I let that slide and used it as an excuse because of Xiao Bao’s background and how his rights and wrongs were morphed at times–like he’d done some stuff with cutting corners and wasn’t that spot on with the whole traditional heroes anyway. But I felt I needed to address this fully. Although some of the girls already liked him anyway–and others were accidents. But I felt I shouldn’t let him escape this one, regardless. Considering how all the women present were unconscious AND I have to say especially because they were unconscious. That scene was placed in for comedic effect, but I didn’t think it was a laughing matter with taking rape so lightly. Even if that didn’t happen, I think eventually A Ke would warm up to him. And Su Quan didn’t deserve to be raped–regardless of how cruel she was along with her husband during some torture scenes (that had been cut back in here but it was in the novel and some previous versions)–and the way it was going on with this version, it was obvious she would eventually end up with him anyway. Although Jin Yong’s original intent in writing the novel was to mock and/or create a parody within the wuxia realm, I thought some stuff could get so far–or way too far.

WHAT?!?!

These are the moments I swear I don’t know what possessed them to put it in.

  • Mu Jian Ping and Feng Yi Fei? Like really? I liked the extension of her story so she had her own side one. Yet with Feng Yi Fei? Really? But like I said in her character section, lucky it wasn’t just some obsession only. It wasn’t like she was that easily conned.
  • Shuang Er became the Zhuang family’s daughter. And what was weirder was how her mother said that she sent Shuang Er to accompany Xiao Bao because she wanted to forward the cause of their revenge. What? YUP, her mother said to her that it was Emperor Kang Xi’s fault and Ao Bai’s death was just part of it as a cover-up. So having Shuang Er follow Xiao Bao was to have a better chance to kill Emperor Kang Xi. Nice? Yet later when I thought of it, it sort of made sense for this version. I meant not that I liked the change, but since they made Shuang Er the Zhuang family’s daughter already, of course, she can’t just follow Xiao Bao like that, under the circumstances. So they had to add in the bit about her following Xiao Bao because of alternate motives. Since it was easy for her as a servant girl to follow Xiao Bao was part of the whole gratitude thing, but now that she was the Zhuang family’s daughter, how could she follow a guy around like that?

What about the ending? Seriously, I was stumped. I meant I was unfamiliar and somewhat troubled by how it was Shuang Er undoing his plan with trying to flee safely. Yet it seemed forgivable because the nature of Shuang Er’s background had changed and then how the story was led on with the king having to do with the deaths, but it was just a misunderstanding. The touching bit with the farewells with his wife sort of made up for it. Then the funny scene with thinking they were all dead already so Xiao Bao scolded at the king. It sure let up some hectic feelings of the previous episodes. What was funniest wasn’t the part where they all resided at that one place in peace. YET what amused me was how the setting of where they resided. I wasn’t feeling amused because of how things turned out since it wasn’t a bad ending. I liked how they were residing at a place that they wouldn’t be disturbed anymore. But the setting was where Han Dong’s character Wu Tao in Sheng Yi Da Dao Gong resided at. Nice?

If you want to watch and judge for yourselves, click here. (Note: Some episodes got mixed up or got cut off, might want to find other sources for those instances.)

*Images were captured by DTLCT