Year 2016 in Recap

year_review
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 stuffs. 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 story 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 fan fics, 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 but 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.

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Battle in the Royal Court

This was one of the better series of the ’80s. I seriously think it might have been better than some of the productions that the five tigers were in. Although there were more deaths than I would prefer but I guess it had to be that way, considering the theme.

Main Cast:

  • Gallen Lo as Shen Zhi (沈). One of Gallen’s best roles actually. It surprised me since I didn’t watch him until his series in the ’90s and even if it was awesome and that the majority loved his characters yet I felt it was too over-hype for some reason. Yet this one made me appreciate him as an actor even more since he shone like way before that. He delivered quite well, showing all ranges of emotions–from the smart leader to the somewhat mischievous person that he was at times alongside Margie’s Princess Yi Lan to being a filial son to his fathers (his real father and the adopted one). As a righteous hero, he wasn’t perfect, but his determination made him noble.
  • Margie Tsang as Princess Yi Lan (伊公主). Margie didn’t disappoint with her character. She was witty and charming, which helped with her character heaps. As Princess Yi Lan, she was intelligent and cunning hence her father trusted her to give her such a huge responsibility. I was glad to see Margie shine in this role and although she did suffer so much for the main guy yet didn’t have to die like some other series that got me frustrated. I was so glad she had a happy ending this time in a serious series.
  • Eddie Cheung as Zhu Qi Yu (朱祈钰 ). Eddie delivered effortlessly. At first, he indeed gave the impression that he was a genuine person, just looking for someone to help him with overthrowing his brothers and somehow restore peace so that the citizens could live happily again. Yet it wasn’t so. Many said that he changed yet I think he said at one point (which we could all trust) that he never changed, it was just that he had to resort to anything to ascend the throne. He was just good at pretending and manipulating everyone around him. He was also patient. Even if somehow he was good at one point, his lust for power (aka becoming king) had overwhelmed all the reasoning that was left in him.
  • Eugina Lau as Fang Guan Hua (方冠華). When I first saw her, I thought it was another boring role since I had stumbled across quite a few of those from her. Yet this one was a tad different. Although she did fall for the wrong person or someone she thought she could trust and marry, she didn’t tolerate his evil side or tried to convince others to forgive him just because he said he loved her. She still loved him (like she said at the end when they were both trapped in the cave) yet she wasn’t going to let him hurt others, especially all the innocent lives that was forced to participate in a war that no one wanted in the first place. I had to admire her for that. What got me a tad disappointed was that she became inactive for the majority of the series later on. I wasn’t referring to screen time but her role as an overall, like how we saw her teaming up with Shen Zhi in defeating this one evil monk with their swords technique yet she was dismissed of her talents later on and it seemed they totally forgot or cared for that special swords technique for the rest of the drama or something. But I guess it was forgivable since they (the script-writers) were trying to bring the focus back on the battles among the different powers in here that were trying to rise to the top. Oh yeah, I was seriously confused whether she died or not at the end. The way it seemed was that she did, but I wasn’t too sure.
  • Nathan Chan as Shen Hong (沈鸿). I swear I thought he would be the bad one among the three guys. Yet I was wrong, and in a way I was glad. Because I swear, I liked his character, although a tad hot-headed but was really loyal to his sect and cared for his siblings dearly. He was also quite righteous. What got me really pissed off though was how he was killed off when the series was almost over. Seriously? I guessed they had to emphasis the consequences of being involved in some nasty battle between different parties. But it didn’t make it any less frustrating.
  • Josephine Lam as Zhang Xin Xin (張欣欣). I didn’t realize Josephine was around for that long, lol. I probably didn’t watch the right series to know. Anyway, loved her character in here. Although she was misled when she first appeared yet her character was quite lovable as the series progressed. It was also quite sad to discover that her father had lied to her and had anticipated to fulfill some big plan for his own gain. It was also quite sad that became her downfall later on as she realized her father wasn’t going to repent for his past misdeeds and had caused the death of Shen Hong hence her wanting to end her own life as well.

Others:

  • Bobby Au Yeung as Zhu Qi Zhen (朱祈镇). I didn’t know whether to feel pity for him and think of him as weak at other times. I don’t mean that he was sick the majority of the time either. But I mean how wishy-washy he was later on. I guess it was understandable that since he was weak since little, he didn’t get to learn or experience with daily life stuffs. However, sometimes I got impatient with seeing when he would mature. Yet after all that happened, I had a sinking feeling he would turned out exactly like his other siblings. I meant okay, it was good that he was determined on some matters, not wanting to let some parties get away with their past misdeeds yet his determination to go after those parties, like getting rid of them all made it chilling to some degree. Bobby’s acting was really good, seeing the transition between the confused, kindhearted person that he was at the beginning and turning into a possibly scary person at the end. I think that was also why Shen Zhi decided to fake his death and leave with Princess Yi Lan since he had seen enough and had been through enough of those conflicts. (Not to mention how Shen Zhi had lost more than enough in his life. When he felt like he wasn’t able to convince Zhu Qi Zhen into toning down his aggression, he thought it was better to leave. Who could blame Shen Zhi, right?) Maybe that little skit also somewhat convince Zhu Qi Zhen to let go somewhat and thought of what Shen Zhi said before it all went down. Because looking at Shen Zhi’s supposed body at the end, we were able to see how Zhu Qi Zhen gaining some past glint of his kindness in his eyes.
  • Cary Choi as  Qu Ying Zhi (曲盈枝). Her character was mysterious and intelligent when she first appeared. Her charm and beauty just came along with that. It was subtle and didn’t overshadow her intelligence and grace. What I meant was she had this natural but not elegance beauty like some others in here yet that didn’t dim her character. She had a somewhat of a cold-face image about her yet she was probably one of the kindest persons. It was like one of those image we often saw in the ancient beauty, where they were seemed cold-faced yet wasn’t so if we got to know them sort of thing. Even more so, it created this mystic aura around her. Perhaps, she was too kindhearted that it became her downfall. Cary didn’t fail to convince me and she was probably my favorite female character in here-although I liked the other characters too. That was also why her death made me even more pissed off and making me want to reach into the screen and slap Zhu Qi Zhen for not believing her. (Can’t blame him since the scheme was indeed elaborate yet it made her trust and love for him a joke.)
  • Cheung Ying Choi (張英才) as the late king. He was portraying his typical role as the weak-minded king who might or might not be swayed by some schemes like in this case some voodoo stuffs. When he realized what was going on, it was too late. Not only with his other two sons but also with his supposedly “good” son.
  • Chu Tit Wo (朱鐵和) as Shen Hong’s father and Shen Zhi’s adopted father. He was one of my favorite veteran actors in the old days. Not sure what’s going on with him now or if he’s still active. But although brief appearance, but he made his role worthwhile to watch. One of his tragic roles.
  • Kitty Lau as Shen Chu Ba (沈初八). Shen Hong’s older sister. Having only watched her portraying wealthy roles for some of the series that I managed to catch of her in the ’90s, I was surprised to see her in this type of role, associating with jianghu conflicts and all. What made me confused at one point was whether she was dead or not, but I was guessing yes since she didn’t appear in the later parts. What got me confused was how they didn’t mourn her enough like some characters in here. She was after all the main leads’ sister.
  • Sin Ho Ying as Leng Feng (冷峰). For the majority of the series, I was scared that he would die yet he didn’t. He had a close call at the beginning of the series when he was captured along with Shen Hong.
  • (???) as Taoist Qing Feng (清風道長). He was probably one of the smartest persons in the Bai Lian Sect. He was level-headed for the majority of the time and was able to plan his moves carefully. He was probably one of the most important persons around Shen Hong when Shen Zhi was MIA, considering how Shen Hong could be so hot-headed at times.
  • Cutie Mui as Ying Er (颖儿). She appeared briefly as Guan Hua’s maid and contributed to the somewhat hilarious atmosphere at the  beginning of the drama. Yet she died tragically along with most of the Fang household members.

Couples:

  • Gallen / Shen Zhi and Margie / Princess Yi Lan. I was really, really surprised of their chemistry. Perhaps it was because I never thought of them pairing up together. But it was strangely natural. I swear that they were Zhang Wu Ji and Zhao Min on some level, lol. Of course, the exception was there were no third parties involved, except for that one time she misunderstood there was something going on between him and his adopted sister. I actually enjoyed their story for the majority of the time. Sometimes, I pondered if they were going to work out or if it was the tragic route–like how it was with some of Margie’s past roles with her dying. I also liked it that they didn’t make her perfect or more likable (like too good to be true for the main girl in nowadays dramas). Yes, she did eventually change her mind after having been around the Ming people for a long time, realizing that citizens there weren’t any different than her citizens, also wanting peace. But she didn’t dial down her liveliness. She was still intelligent and cunning, but she directed her efforts elsewhere. I also liked it that he didn’t change completely either after meeting her or after being with her. That sort of defeated the purpose of liking the persons they were in the first place–at least to me. They both kept on being themselves, but the only change–which made sense–was thinking for one another as a couple.
  • Eddie / Zhu Qi Yu and Eugina / Fang Guan Hua. Seriously, their relationship sure fazed out fast. Possibly because his lust for power was way stronger than his compassionate side for others. Their relationship started as a bickering relationship and actually had foundation at first. Probably that was why it hurt so bad with his betrayal later on and eventually tossing her out like some disposables. It was seriously cold. What I liked about their relationship at the beginning was their love for swordsmanship and how they practiced together and/or compete. It was also somewhat nice to see that he had created a sword for her and all. It would have been nice to see him die by the sword he made for her. But I guess TVB needed a battle between the main guys to end it all.
  • Nathan / Shen Hong and Josephine / Zhang Xin Xin. Their relationship started out as a bickering couple yet ended tragically. I swear TVB just have to go and kill them like the last minute of the series. It was seriously messed up and one of the reasons I was sore about. But I had a gut feeling that his ending had to do with her father’s doing although I had anticipated it differently. Still, it didn’t ease my anger a tad when the scene of him lying dead rolled around. I hoped for a miracle that the scene in the main theme only meant she found him lying around (because of the angle of the scene) and would bring him back so the others could save him. But it wasn’t so. I actually did cry during that scene (like how I did when Ying Zhi died).
  • Bobby / Zhu Qi Zhen and Cary / Qu Ying Zhi. Tragic. I think I felt tenfold more sorry for him during their ending. I felt what hurt the most was that he didn’t believe her. It was the last scene they were together, the part where he visited in her cell and asked her if she’d betrayed him. She was, of course, heartbroken–completely, saying that it didn’t matter if the others didn’t believe her yet what matter was that he believed her. In the end, he had questioned her motive so what was left for her? I was intrigued by their meeting from the start, wondering how it would work out and wonder if he would die. I had a higher bet that he would be killed off by his so-called “brothers” than surviving till the end. Yet it was her who died tragically because of how his so-called “brother” tried to frame her and eliminate her from his twisted plot.

Recommended? Worth it? I thought it was actually a good series on its own, not comparing to others. It might not be much to some people since they weren’t considered star-dubbed like there were no member of the five tigers involved or their other famous co-stars. (Margie was considered famous back then since she did star in quite a few major productions with the five tigers, but I felt like she wasn’t cherished by TVB hence her not getting enough exposure like some others I didn’t care about.) Yet this one had a good plot, even if it had turned out frustrating at times. It was a series about the battles to gain the throne so of course there were bloody deaths or sacrifices so it wasn’t like uncalled for. But it didn’t feel over-hype. The pace was just right, not too slow and not too fast that it was confusing. So you didn’t feel the drag of the plot. Not to mention the focus wasn’t just on a few characters and that was it, they were more engaging with the side characters as well. Yes, there were goofs or unknown areas, but I felt it was good enough as an overall. All in all, this was a 4 out of 5 for me, because of some factors I mentioned that I was sore about.

No. 8 Bus

Not a disappointment at all. This series started out as a typical goofy comedy but weaved itself into the intensity of family conflicts with business rivalry yet never losing its elements of comedic touch at all. There were many subplots that led itself into many climaxes and tied itself back to the major plot. I really enjoyed it and was glad I picked it up in the first place. This was so goofy at the beginning with the main characters and seemed so despicable and intense with some other characters playing mind games, but later it turned into something more meaningful. I really liked it that there wasn’t the main focus on anyone in particular but there were many characters in here and they each had their own story. The realistic element of it was there was no main point (like said above) but there were only people who followed their own goal and trying to survive. Their paths leading them to expected accomplishments or for some others–consequences and things might or might not work out in the end.

Several notable performances:

  • Nathan Chan as Lo Ping Ping: Contrary to many of his serious roles–Who Is The Winner was among them–he played a very humorous person in here who had a very smart-mouth yet a kind heart deep down. Nathan really brought out Ping Ping’s character very well and also with charm, making us both liked and hated him at the same time. (Heard there were some problems with him and ATV in the past, but I guess they reconciled or possibly a misunderstanding so they reached some sort of understanding to collaborate again?)
  • Anita Lee as Veronica Xiang Huan Zhu: Anita-although she had played various comedic roles too, but this one must top it all since she took her arrogant as well as girly-girl side to the max, making us laughed and cried with her. She did really great as the vain girl in the beginning who only knew how to dress up and look pretty, a spoiled rich girl (although she did have a kind heart) to a mature and clever young lady. It was honestly really hard to portray her since there were many scenes that were very, very funny and ridiculous but she pulled it off very well. (And of course, I enjoyed the fact that they poked fun of Huan Zhu Ge Ge thing since it made my day with all their comments referring back to that series and this series’ character.)
  • Kristal Tin as Crystal Shen Jing Jing: She first appeared as a somewhat irresponsible mother and an easy person, but there was a story behind it all and it really brought out her character as to how she portrayed it. She didn’t seem to care much about anything and seemed to love money more but deep down, she was someone who really valued friendship and family–although she only had her baby. Kristal did great as the strong-willed person who could turn into a weak mother at times. And she did very well with the comedic scenes also. She was probably the best-supporting actress in this series that did really well (aside from Wong Oi Yiu) who had made it very worth watching her and how her character unfolded and developed throughout.
  • Cheung Kwok Keung as Song Man Ting: A typical cunning and/or scheming character that we often saw in those business rivalry movies or series, but his character seemed much more than that. It first showed him as a greedy guy who had only one goal in his mind–to conquer all aka the Xiang’s business thus causing him to go against Lo Wah Long (Lawrence Yan). However, there was this whole thing with his family and how much he cared for them. He had this soft side that said a lot more about his character. Although he seemed harsh and cruel, he cared a lot for his brother and really knew his benefactors aka the Xiang family (especially the grandfather). He worked really hard for the company and probably the most deserving among those fighting for the CEO position. An excellent performance from Cheung Kwok Keung since he seemed to bring out his character really well with the cunning and deceiving nature with a gist of cleverness as well as his caring side as the oldest brother and also the lonely man fighting for power. The most tragic part must be knowing that he only had so many months to live and working so hard to make it happen, reaching his goal of introducing his family company into the market. There was also the whole thing with trying to get his brother, Ben, to turn his life around. However, the saddest part must be knowing Ben’s betrayal and continuing on until the very last day. His death was really a turnaround in some people’s life also–most importantly Ben and probably Sam also–for taking it so seriously in helping the family business expand.
  • Ricky Chan as Ben: I have always liked Ricky Chan after watching Project Ji Xiang and this was probably before that but it really showed that he was up to his part in acting as the rich playboy who only leaned on others and cared for nothing but money-and then turning his life around after his brother’s death. He was a big jerk for the majority of the series but really learned and repented himself after he got out of jail, but it was so convincing and not forced at all–thanks to Ricky’s acting.
  • Lawrence Yan Chi Keung as Lo Wah Long: He was probably the most despicable character in this entire series and I must give Lawrence Yan credit for making the character so lively and so hateful at the same time. He seemed like the typical good-looking dude who everyone wanted a piece of but his heart was so dark that it scared people into having second thoughts. He only cared for himself and no one else, even willing to eliminate anyone who stood in his way. It was very frightening and maddening at the same time. Seeing him having such an ending might not be as satisfying but relevant since it made him become helpless–the thing that he hated the most.

What I liked about the series:

  • The bickering couple Ping Ping and Huan Zhu: Although it seemed like the typical bickering couple falling in love, later on, I liked it in the fact that they didn’t force the two into falling in love although there were subtle implications toward the end. It didn’t come up with reasons why they began to like each other later on or pave the way like the typical series. It just happened. It seemed more obvious with Huan Zhu for the turning point of their relationship but less obvious ’cause Ping Ping seemed to like Michelle until the end but the final twist still involved elements of comedy and somewhat the time frame that things happened that made it convincing. It was part of life and what could happen.
  • The friendship and possible love between Ping Ping and Crystal: It seemed to play a lot into the elements of letting us believe romance could possibly happen between this two through time spent together and their shared dream and/or goals, plus some implications and pushing from family members. However, their friendship stayed true until the end–through comedic times as well as many hardships.
  • James and Crystal’s relationship: It started out just as a one night stand thing that happened one Christmas but through separation and many things that happened, they met again and James finally learned who Crystal really was and developed feelings for her. Their relationship was easy and slow. It seemed unrealistic but at the same time not impossible as they lived like any strange couple but learned many things about each other throughout the time.
  • The friendship between many characters in here: There were many characters in here that had been united through family members or circumstances but it seemed very real and true that not all were amazing people according to people who measured them by their achievements but their hard work and shared goals have pushed them together.
  • The bond between Ping Ping and his family: They seemed to be a normal family just surviving and thriving on, trying to make a living. But the mother was a really great person and she didn’t discriminate anyone and really understood them. She cared for them and sympathized with them ’cause she had been in such a situation before in the past. Ping Ping seemed like a smart-mouth and unmotivated since he only wanted to be a bus driver, but it was only because he was satisfied with who he was and really cared for the people around him. An An was very hardworking and had always wished to reach the top thus creating more opportunities so her family would have a better life. They were a normal family but a very special one also because they knew how to cherish people around them and the things they have.
  • The Song family’s relationship: Although it seemed scattered throughout the series, their bonding was strange and yet it seemed that they’d struggled a lot to actually finally reunite for real in the end–even if the oldest brother passed away already. A very strong message that Song Man Ting often said throughout the series was: “We’re brothers, we have to look out for each other.” It was a very simple phrase yet so true and he had really lived up to his words until the very end of his life.
  • The unforced drive of the story: The plot didn’t seem to be special in any sense but it implied a lot of important elements in it, making the whole story seemed more real than anything.
  • The many conflicts and unexplainable behaviors of many characters: There wasn’t a real purpose for everyone’s behaviors and how NOT all things could be explained and reasoned. That was how life was and it was portrayed really well in here.
  • The life messages associated with the bus such as “Life is like a bus ride, it is a long one and there aren’t any two stops similar to each other.”

There were many other things that I really liked about this series also but didn’t want to list it all. It was a really great series overall and not over-done. Even if ATV didn’t have the technology or budget like TVB to make it all high class, but the plot itself beat TVB any day. The way it was filmed, it seemed more realistic and could be related to, unlike the glamorous gist that didn’t seem real enough because of the “trying too hard” part TVB often put in.

The most unexpected thing that happened in here was the death of Ah Man. I honestly thought they were keeping him until the end ’cause of how series often wrapped up with everyone pairing up nicely. However, it was very tragic and the most heart-wrenching scene of the series to see Ah Man’s death and the suffering afterward. The mother was very unforgivable and they were still being lenient for letting Michelle and her father forgive her in the very end but still it was very frustrating to see such a mother but it was NOT unbelievable at all. The mourning scenes were done quite well also with everyone reacting differently and the song playing in the background–which was supposedly composed by Ah Man–made it all so memorable at the same time.

This series not only had an excellent cast but also an excellent story to go with it.

Posted (on Xanga): November 17, 2008

Re-posted: November 30th, 2010