Hong Kong Entertainment

Swordsman Lai Bo Yee

I stumbled upon this and re-watched it again just for old time’s sake. Honestly, I used to think this series was average when I first watch it. But the second time around, it seemed to be extremely awesome. Maybe it was due to the fact that I’ve stumbled across numerous beyond terrible serials recently so this one seemed superior to the recent ones for some reason.
Some facts to straighten out matters before I get started:

  • Lai Bo Yee should not be confused with Li Bo Yee. Lai Bo Yee was a real person and the series had used his background and incorporated it into the series. But of course it was loosely based on for the purpose of the dramatic moments. Li Bo Yee was a character in Wen Rui An’s story, which was where Face to Fate was based on.

Likes:

  • Patrick Tam as Lai Bo Yee. For what it matters, I DO NOT think it is fair to blame Patrick for looking morbid OR seemed to be such a pessimist at times. It wasn’t his fault BUT the script was made out that way, considering how the character was young and inexperienced. He had not reach the point of enlightenment yet SO it should not be hold against him for not delivering. Patrick did his part in portraying the character and I thought he did wonderful with letting us see Bo Yee’s emotional state throughout the trials and events he encountered. Michael Miu’s version was more of a comedy and this one was on a serious level. (I love Michael’s version too BUT I thought I should point it out and do not think anyone should be so hard on Patrick for that matter.)
  • Noel Leung as Fong Ching Mui. Ching Mui, like her father, is very straight-forward and have a very sharp tongue at times. YET what was admirable and probably likable about her character was just that. Everyone knew what she was thinking about and would not be led astray by her beliefs and opinions about things. Noel carried her character through and that was what I expected, nothing less.
  • Patrick and Noel as a couple. Seriously, this was where it started and I think TVB took advantage of this pairing with the next two projects as well. They were really funny at first and they both learned and grow through time. It was really convincing with their relationship and the changes afterward. Patrick and Noel had great chemistry in here and it showed with the other two projects also. The part where Bo Yee thought Ching Mui died was really tragic. (I totally felt that one with Bo Yee at the river and letting the paper boats drift in the water.)
  • Timmy Ho as Fu Tin Wah. I just thought it was interesting that Timmy agreed to take on this role and jeopardized his reputation/ image. Very brave indeed. I thought he did well to show his scheming sides and sometimes the struggles in between (like when he was still reconsidering about killing Bo Yee OR NOT). Oh yeah, NOT to forget the part near the end where he was super wooden and scary with his turning into some kind of zombie already. (I DO NOT mean his acting is wooden BUT the character since he was already learning that strange type of skill AND was turning into almost a zombie or monster.) Timmy was convincing all right, freaky enough.
  • Lai Hon Chi as Lai Dang San. One of the most missed veterans for me since seeing him again with the re-watch reminds me of how many great veterans TVB had back then. One of my favorites and always managed to deliver whichever role he was given. I felt it extremely interestingly to see him as Patrick’s father in here. His character died off in the earlier part of the series but it was all right. Enjoyable while it lasted.
  • Bak Piao as Chun Hui. NO, I do not like this person OR often seem in many stories and serials BUT Bak Piao’s portrayal was well done. Another memorable role and performance from him.
  • Josephine Lam as Yuen Ngan Fung. I did not realize how much I like her character until this re-watch. I barely remember some plots revolving her character but did not realize it was that great and complex. She looked great as a princess and was up to the part.
  • Patrick and Josephine as a couple. Though not as compatible as Patrick and Noel but I love their characters together. Not to mention how he actually liked her later and it wasn’t the pity thing at all. It really showed when they were roaming around together to help people and see the sights. AND was I the only who cried when she died? I knew it was coming since this was a re-watch (like I mentioned before) BUT I couldn’t help crying at that scene. (Patrick helped drove that tragic scene forward and made it one of the most memorable scenes.)
  • Wu Yuet San as General Yeung. I think this must be his best role (or so that I’ve seen–might change my mind later when I hunt deeper into past serials though). He has a better image in here and also the best character though was stubborn and bitter at first. BUT really don’t blame him, considering the times and things that were happening around them. A memorable character in his own right aside the others. I was so scared that he was going to get killed by Timmy’s character since I didn’t remember as much. Luckily, he survived and managed to get in some actions at the end as well.
  • Flower in the Mist by Chris Wong. At first I thought it was sang by Patrick–though I had no idea why I had that feeling BUT lucky I found out who and found this guy’s voice really warm and addicting to listen to. Really nice song for this series. (And somehow TVB had taken advantage of another good song again.) Need a sample? Try here.
  • The fact that Bo Yee chose Ngan Fung over Chiu Yung. Honestly, I found it interesting. But it wasn’t surprising since though both knew martial arts and were stubborn in their own rights BUT I found Ngan Fung more lovable and likable. Ngan Fung was someone who loved her country and looked at the bigger picture more than just being a nagging person like how Chiu Yung was. Bo Yee fell into making the decision about marrying both girls at one time or another YET he found himself attracted to Ngan Fung for various reasons.

Dislikes:

  • Elizabeth Lee as Princess of Song aka Chiu Yung. I do not know IF the make-up team did not do her justice OR if she does not look good in ancient series but I did not see her elegance or grace as the princess. And she seemed quite uncomfortable in those attires as well. Maybe that was why her portrayal was all right or seemed reluctant.
  • Gordon Liu as General Yue Fei. I did not mean that I don’t like Yue Fei, but Gordon Liu as him. Perhaps I’m biased since I prefer Norman Tsui as Yue Fei. Norman looks more or exude a closer image to that of Yue Fei (or what was often believed to be that of the characteristics of Yue Fei). AND while we’re at it, why was Yue Fei so dumb? I knew he was just an obedient person AND how he was being loyal to his emperor BUT that emperor was so dumb, listening to the wrong people and only cared for himeslf. Why sacrifice for him?

A must watch or no? Depends on what your idea of a good series is.

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Ady An, Mainland China Entertainment

Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain

Being a sucker for the majority of the cast, I finally gave in and watched–although I have already watched like 2 versions of this. I must admit I was having an internal struggle at first whether to watch–mostly because it was because of the incurable habit of comparing between different versions. Despite the fact that Wong Jing was the producer (which was the reason why I hesitated to watch in the first place), it was actually pretty good. Well, I have to say that he usually have good ideas, just that it often go downhill OR was not properly handled so it often ended up being a failure. (I never forgive him for the ruins of Eight Heroes and World’s Finest so that said something.) This did not guarantee the ‘drag free’ formula though since the beginning was considered fast pace then it became so dragging by the time they had Hu Fei met all the girls. It was driving at viewers’ patience or something. But it was an interesting take at various time with some twists and turns. There were predictability within the unpredictability. Not that bad, but unforgivable with some parts.
Likes:

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

Dislikes:

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

The In-Between:

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

Interestingly Funny YET could be equally annoying:

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

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

Ady An, Ben Wong, Chinese Paladin, Eddie Peng, Hu Ge, Mainland China Entertainment, Sweety, Taiwanese Entertainment

Chinese Paladin I

WARNING: NOT my usual positively cheerful post SO READ at your own risk. IF you disagree, it’s okay. But I DO NOT hope to strike any arguments with any one. Take it as differences in opinions and that was just my take on it. I DID NOT aim to be right OR had a purpose in pulling anyone down. It was just my own opinion and my interpretation of the characters and/or plot.
What I enjoyed about it were:

  • The brilliant characters created in here like: Xiao Yao, Yue Ru, Tang Yu, Ah Nu, and other minor characters
  • The fantasy concept. Although some parts were quite twisted but it was all right since they can call it in the name of creativity or whatever
  • The chemistry between Xiao Yao and Yue Ru–from friends to lovers. They match for wit and humor. Both of their acting were so awesome that it made it more real, more convincing. Love their interactions throughout and their tacit understanding of each other. Although they’re not from the same background (only the same that they both lost their mothers when young), but they become good friends/ companions throughout, fighting many evils as well as learning the many things of life together. A great duo as a team and as lovers. Hu Ge proved his acting as the portrayal of a very carefree and mischievous Xiao Yao to a very considerate and honest Xiao Yao later on. Same with Ady An. She was so brilliant and convincing as the spoiled girl to a very considerate and sacrificing Yue Ru.
  • Tang Yu and Ah Nu. Yes, ran across quite a few people that hates Ah Nu, etc. But I love the fact that she’s so innocent at the beginning and then turning out to be more mature and considerate towards the end (although through such tragic incidents). At her age, what would she think of but pure fun and food? (Yes, others would be more, but not her.) She has a pure and innocent heart, not wanting to hurt others, only wanting to be friends, etc. But I also like the fact that Tang Yu is very understanding of her and always forgive her each time she hurt him. That’s what real understanding is and not blaming her versus what happened in other stories. Because he choose to love her on his own, so he never blame her. Their chemistry is quite cute at the beginning and quite touching towards the ending scenes. People often praise Xiao Yao & Ling Er as the ultimate couple and all those sacrifice stuffs, but I honestly think that Tang Yu and Ah Nu is actually the couple who is truthful throughout. Despite Ah Nu’s innocent nature and Tang Yu’s sense of responsibilities towards his country and his godfather, they both stay true to each other throughout. (It was thought somewhere here and there that she likes Xiao Yao, but it’s just an innocent crush.) Nothing could separate them and they did overcome all obstacles, not doubting each other at all. Tang Yu is disappointed of Ah Nu at times, but he then regains his faith and would think to himself of only bringing happiness towards Ah Nu instead of sulking over the fact that he might not get anything in return. Ah Nu – although innocent and might not grasp the concept of love as strong as others, but she would always trust Tang Yu to be there for her and to protect her against all harm. Their trust and care towards each other are what drive the relationship throughout. After watching this, I realize that Eddie is a great actor of his time and glad he’s becoming more and more popular nowadays. ‘Cause he was quite convincing as the honest Tang Yu and also his sly role as Ren Sen Tian in Honey & Clover. As for Esther Liu, I was impressed since she pulled through despite her terrible performance in Westside Story but it was her very first role in the other one so could not really blame her. She was really cute and charming in this one, making her character convincing. This had made me changed my opinions towards her and her capable in portraying cute roles also.
  • The many friends who would never betray each other no matter what, especially Yue Ru’s cousin portrayed by Bryan Wang. Jin Yuan was always so nice and kind. Although it was because he wanted to protect his friends that his parents died, but in the end, he was never astray, even putting himself in the lion’s lair to help his friends gain access to other info and/or try to defeat the evil cult leader himself–if possible. Also, his touching story with the butterfly girl. She was so selfless and sacrificed herself for him since he had saved her, but she also went to the extent of giving up immortality. Great character also.
  • Ah Nu’s father as Xiao Yao’s master aka Tse Kwan Ho. Although he might not have reached the enlightening point like his senior, but his sense of righteousness and his care for humanity in general were very powerful and the drive to change things. He was very stubborn at times, but I like the fact that he knew he couldn’t change things, but would go and try instead of like his senior who would just sit around and wait. His death was quite brief and tragic, but he was known to try once. I love his relationship with his daughter. They were quite a pair of father and daughter. Very alike and love the parts where they went and got drunk together, then slept on the street-side after they got kicked out of the inn. His relationship with Xiao Yao as master and student was quite memorable as well. The part where Xiao Yao remembered back to what he was taught was quite touching too. A great man overall. (*Note* – 9/24/08: I didn’t realize it was Tse Kwan Ho before no wonder his performance was quite impressive.)
  • The cameo or guest appearances of Achel Chang and Joanne Tseng were kind of cute and funny at the same time.
  • Last, but not least, the soundtrack. The songs were quite suitable and good for the whole theme of the series. Although love some songs over the others, but pretty good overall. Hu Ge is not only good in acting, but also in singing since he managed to bring his emotion the songs also, making it more lively.

How come I never mentioned Ling Er/ Liu Yu Fei throughout? Honestly, if it wasn’t for other people’s excellent acting and the story’s many touching events, it wouldn’t work at all with her alone. There were many subplots trying to tie back to Ling Er and getting people to accept her, etc. But I felt like if it wasn’t for other contributions, I wouldn’t have finished watching it IF it was only for her. Because the majority of the story was about:

  • Saving Ling Er
  • Finding Ling Er
  • Rescuing Ling Er
  • Protecting Ling Er
  • Helping Ling Er

and so on…
Yes, they tried to make her character a significant part of the story, but I found it quite annoying since the more they try to make it big and shove it in your face, you will become annoyed. I meant–yes–I understand why she must do this or that or sacrifice for her country. It was almost as going to take her mom’s place and fulfill her duty, but I love her mom’s character more although the majority was the same. She was always so petty and NOT to mention childish at times although she did mature later. But honestly, she always decided everything for Xiao Yao and others. It was always her who was right and it was supposed to be for the better, but so what? She never respected them enough to tell them. Yes, she cared for them and didn’t want to burden them, but didn’t they get the right to decide? After all, she said that they were friends, so why NOT at least tell them? It was her country’s business, but they were her friends and they were willing. Turning them down was being polite and considerate but doing it once too many times was just fake. There were also many layers upon her character and that I might like better, because I started out really liking her for her innocence and cuteness (almost like Ah Nu but I was preparing myself to dislike Ah Nu ’cause of Esther and how she couldn’t act cute in Westside Story) BUT I was so annoyed with the character of Ling Er later that I couldn’t stand it anymore. The opposite and surprising thing was I ended up liking Esther/ Ah Nu more than Ling Er/ LYF. Near the ending, after Yue Ru’s death, if it wasn’t for Hu Ge’s excellent portraying as Xiao Yao, I wouldn’t have made it to the end. Not to mention Tang Yu and Ah Nu’s story, plus her parents, etc.
Some might think I’m favoring Yue Ru/ Ady An right now. But at the beginning, I kind of disliked Yue Ru and usually don’t like loud characters so I was favoring Ling Er/ LYF more since coming into this series, I only know LYF and Esther and was mostly watching because I thought it was kind of funny and LYF was cute. I DO NOT know Ady An at all at that time. But through her acting and portrayal and Yue Ru’s character transitions, it made me like Ady An better. In the future, I don’t know if LYF can pull it off, but Ady An has really built my confidence toward her with her convincing acting and not to mention, the ability to portray different characters because I hunted down The Outsiders, White Robe of Love, and Love Multiplication afterward (not consecutively of course) to watch. I do not want to judge LYF later since I will wait to see her in a different types of roles later to say something else and if she can portray different types of roles besides the somewhat similar ones being given right now.
And maybe bad idea, but since it’s like a habit to be comparing Ling Er & Yue Ru, I’ll take a stab too. I’m siding with Yue Ru, mostly blindly throughout but after analyzing it more and as I’m getting toward the ending with the parents’ generation and its many past unfolding, I realized something. If it wasn’t for the script-writer making it that way and tying down Xiao Yao to Ling Er, her character would amount to nothing. Examples?

  • Xiao Yao and Ling Er were married like at the beginning of the story–which I thought was kind of fake ’cause I honestly don’t believe love at first sight and the fact that she had a childish crush on him since young was somewhat irrelevant for getting married.
  • Most of the tragic stories between human and a non-human/ demon usually involved a third-party or his inability to accept her as a demon, etc. It somewhat tied it back and pointed out so strongly that Xiao Yao was at fault and how Yue Rue was a third party to make Ling Er a better person. I swear Xiao Yao lost his memory and can’t be at fault for abandoning her, BUT the irony of it was he was always searching for her and she was the one running away (one minute deciding they have to be together and the next taking off). Making Yue Ru feel guilty was lame since she didn’t know they were married either AND after she knew, she did give up although Xiao Yao finally accepted her.
  • Ling Er was the essential and can be used to destroy the world. Okay, come on, talking about trying to make her character bigger than other characters so she shines.
  • Her death scene was 10 minutes or more. Okay, I exaggerated but I realize it that many other death scenes throughout–there are lots near the end, but none were as long as hers. They made it tragic and dramatic and to make an impression on us but it was even more draggy than all the death scenes combined. If it wasn’t for Hu Ge’s awesome acting, I would have gave up or try to fast forward to see what happens after that.

Those are just my take of it after watching, so it’s all right IF others disagree but I find the pattern too repetitive so gotta share.
Posted: September 14, 2008
Re-posted: Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Mainland China Entertainment

The Spirit of the Sword

Thoughts? It was good enough.
Like Factors:

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

Dislikes:

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

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

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

It’s a decent series overall. (The ‘good’ comment at the beginning is my personal opinion but to compare with other serials, it’s considered decent.) It’s not one of the best serials ever made, but comparing to TVB ancient serials, I say this is one of the better ones nowadays. (Somehow I can’t feel the mood for the ones by TVB anymore. It’s just too cheesy and forced.) This one was more daring yet didn’t seem fake with making it tragic but that was just how things turned out to be. (TVB tries too hard to teach us lessons that it tends to get cheesy with their ancient serials nowadays. ATV makes better ones but they rarely make ’em anymore.)
Posted (on Xanga): February 23, 2009
Re-posted: Thursday, April 22nd, 2010