Year 2015 in Recap

 

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

Total Posts in 2015:

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

 

Times Updated on People on the Poll:

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

Books Reviews:

Music Reviews:

Movies + TV Series Reviews/Episode Summaries:

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

Fan Fiction:

Songs Translations:

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

Chinese: 46

Vietnamese: 5

Side Updates:

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

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

The Legend of the Condor Heroes 2016: Official News

Okay! I finally see the light! After stumbling in the dark and playing the guessing game, I thought this might fail because of the lack of news. Apparently, Huace just announced the news the other day. They will be collaborating with Perfect World Pictures for this production. (Go here for the announcement.) And Director Lai is out. (Sorry, man, lol.) The director for this production will be Jeffrey Chiang and the producer will be Guo Jing Yu.

Oh yeah, go here for the drama’s official Weibo page. Yes, I cleared all tags for possible actors or whatever else since their page doesn’t post it. They will probably update it a lot more in the future so that would be helpful. The rest of us won’t have to be stumbling in the dark anymore.

*All images were collected around the net hence belonging to their rightful owners.

The Legend of the Condor Heroes 2015: New Leads?

This is an update from last time’s post. Go here to check it out. Again, I know Baidu is NOT a reliable source for news since it’s like Wiki in a way. But it’s the other slim source I could get my hands on. The supposed leads are Wei Qian Xiang for Guo Jing and Zhang Rui as Yang Kang. The role of Huang Rong’s at a toss between Zhang Meng and Wu Qian. The rest of the characters are unknown still. The total episode is listed as 56. No surprise since it’s a long story and most of the series nowadays are like that anyway. I’m not going to pick on them for it.

Okay, so somewhat of new development. (Or I’m just plain late again, lol.) But honestly, if it’s a toss between Zhang Meng and Wu Qian, I would say I want to see Wu Qian in the role. Not that I don’t like Zhang Meng, but I just don’t see her as Huang Rong. Wu Qian has this freshness to her and how she has taken on a variety of roles that allow me to see her range. Of course, more waiting, but something to be excited about? (Or not, lol.)

The Legend of the Condor Heroes 2015

This is just in the air right now, lol. I saw it on their list as ‘in preparation’ but it was there since 2014. But of course, it makes sense that it would be a long preparation, considering how they’re planning to have the same team as DGSD and DOMD do it. (Check here and scroll all the way down to the list of adaptations to see that someone already filled out the placeholder for it.)

Possible cast so far? I managed to find a clip of Zhang Meng being interviewed and she hoped to work with Han Dong. My thoughts? Um, how about no? I loved them together in DOMD, but I don’t think they’re suitable to portray Guo Jing and Huang Rong. The production team should find actual suitable candidates instead. I liked some of their past decisions, but if they end up casting Han Dong and Zhang Meng, they have to really convince me. Han Dong, though I love him, had already pushed it as Xiao Bao (age-wise). I also have a hard time imagining Han Dong portraying a dumb character. Okay, Guo Jing’s just too honest at times, but next to Huang Rong, he seems soooo dumb, lol. Han Dong doesn’t have the dumb face, lol. He just looks too smart and cunning. (Xu Zhu only appeared a bit versus Guo Jing role so I sort of went along with it when watching DGSD, lol. Not to mention, Han Dong can’t just wrinkle his face all the time for the Guo Jing role.) As for Zhang Meng, I might change my mind later if they do a good job with the image and see how her acting goes this time around.

If Huace must use someone within their company though, I think Jia Qing would fit the role of Huang Rong perfectly. I’m not kidding. I have seen a lot of Jia Qing’s performances in the past few years. She really could pull off various roles and she could be quite cunning and/or mischievous as needed. Not to mention playful. She, of course, could also be quite serious as well. It would be awesome also if the plot is right. (I do understand if they do go ahead with this adaptation, it would be like the umpteenth time for this novel so I will try to understand their stretch, considering how I didn’t mind–as much–their exaggerations in the past two Jin Yong adaptations that I ended up watching.)  Don’t ask me who’s a suitable candidate for Guo Jing, because it is indeed very hard. Good luck!

EDIT (9/15/15): I just thought of something, Maybe Zhang Han could be Guo Jing. He looked quite good with her in The Four (even if I wasn’t in favor of the pairing in there, mostly due to plot). He could pull it off.

The Deer and the Cauldron: Review

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

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

Main Cast:

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

Supporting Cast:

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

Other Characters:

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

Couples/ Friendships/ Other Relationships, etc:

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

Likes:

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

Discussions:

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

WHAT?!?!

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

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

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

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

*Images were captured by DTLCT

Year 2014 in Recap

You know what? I’m beginning to feel like the year in review from WordPress doesn’t even justify my accomplishments, especially this past year. So I decided to go all out on the rebellion and make my own post. It might not look as glamorous as WordPress’s version but at least it doesn’t make me look that lazy, lol.

Starting off with some general stats.

Total Posts in 2014: 139 – Yes, posts ONLY. But the number would have gone up if I counted the pages since I usually use ‘pages’ for fanfic updates, except if it’s a one-shot.
January: 19
February: 16
March: 13
April: 14
May: 6
June: 12
July: 8
August: 10
September: 7
October: 9
November: 8
December: 17

Times Updated on People on the Poll: 63 – Looking at the breakdown, it goes to show that I update on whoever I feel like, not having to do with the who is leading the polls, etc. It’s nothing new, it’s like what I said before. It’s not that I placed in the poll just for kicks or just messing with people. But it’s more like I was curious (like I mentioned in the past already) and try not to put myself on pressure as to update according to votes. What I do feel bad about is not updating on Vic and Janine or Nic more like I should have.
Wallace Huo: 8
Ady An: 1
Hu Ge: 1
Vic Chou: 4
Joanne Tseng: 4
Janine Chang: 2
Angela Chang: 1
Xiu Jie Kai: 1
Nicholas Teo: 1
Yvonne Yao: 3
Zhao Jun Ya: 16
Achel Chang/ Zhang Xin Yu: 5
Sophia Chou: 3
Van Fan: 1
Eric Suen: 3
Penny Lin: 3
Jacky Chu: 10
Bianca Bai: 1

Music Reviews: 13 – Not bad, right? I managed to empty the majority of the list I had up. So it’s something to celebrate here.

Movies + TV Series Reviews/Episode Summaries: 22 episodes and 6 reviews – I could have done better here but still not too bad.

Fan Fiction: It has been a sad case here since I don’t know when. But I really do apologize for all those waiting for certain stories that have been lagging for the past few years now. It’s just that I didn’t find inspiration to do work with it and didn’t want to end up ruining it more than I already did.

  • Slanted Thoughts 2
  • The Dating Game 45 – Mad progress on this saga, right? Sadly, it could only be said for this one, lol.

Songs Translations: 12 – Hey, it’s a record here! I’m serious! Translations are hard! It’s harder for my case since I’m still learning in some areas.

Chinese: 9

Vietnamese: 3

Side Updates: 41 posts – YUP, these have been occupying my time as well. At times, I cheated and posted pictures only, but I swear, some of them were kind of too secretive to talk about. Or some were adaptations that I hadn’t read about yet.

  • Fu Rong Jin: 5 – It’s going to show like next year, right?
  • Favorite Scenes Saga: 1 post, but I did have a lot to work on so it wasn’t like I was slacking on purpose
  • Worth Watching Saga: Managed to publish all 3 I have in the background for the recommendation posts. Plan to launch another one this upcoming year.
  • Seasons in the Sun: 5
  • Love Knows No Distance: 2
  • Gold Pretty Girl/Dan Shen You Yue: 3 – Seriously, been waiting for this to air.
  • Dong Jiang Heroes: 6
  • Never Ending Love: 2
  • Royal Tramp/ The Deer and the Cauldron 2014: 4
  • Yuan Yue Wan Dao: 1 – Seriously, when is this airing?
  • Shen Yi Da Dao Gong 2013: 4
  • Throwback Thursday Saga: 3
  • Reasons to Stay Positive Saga: 2

What do I want to focus on for this next coming year? More on Couples posts and pages. Not to mention the “Special Profiles” pages that I had suddenly abandoned. There’s also the “All About” saga that I halted all of a sudden as well. So are these my New Year resolutions? No. I seriously don’t want to force myself into that, considering how this is just a blog to share all the randomness that I like. So putting pressure on that would lose the purpose of the blog itself even more. I’m just bringing it up because I want to say I’m not abandoning those completely yet. Although what I would want more is to finally finish some fanfics that I have been lagging since whenever. Wouldn’t that be something?

All right, have a great year next year, everyone! Happy blogging or stalking if you don’t blog! (LOL) See you next year for another random update of the wrap-up from me!

The Deer and the Cauldron: The Character Yin Hu

So yes, the great mystery of how the production team approach this was finally answered. They swapped Zhao Yuan Yuan out after she took over the role of Fang Yi, which is a good thing because how could they explain why two characters were portrayed by one person? Well, it’s not unusual for one person to portray two roles in a drama. But nowadays, it’s hard to do that without explaining it at all, especially when Yin Hu seemed to be an important role by Ao Bai’s side (even if made up). So Zhao Yuan Yuan was swapped out and actress Wang Wei (王薇) had taken over the role of Yin Hu, which could be seen when she appeared in the first episode alongside Ao Bai and the rest of his guards, etc.

Back to the series, how is it so far? It’s hard to tell what would happen in the future. But for now, I think everyone has to get past the first episode before deciding to go on or not. Okay, maybe not everyone, but for me, I had to bite my teeth down for the first episode and see what else would happen. Indeed, the pace is a bit faster for the first part so I’m glad. They did change some details. Yet I think after stepping into the mentality a bit, it’s acceptable for me. I will admit that Han Dong’s just too tall for the role and is much older for the role of Xiao Bao. But I don’t think he’s that terrible for the character itself. His acting is convincing at some parts and makes me think of how Xiao Bao should be. Aside from the two points mentioned already, he makes it hard to hate. I just feel like I need to get used to the dubbing for the character since it seems a bit over at times.

Will do a more extensive review later, like how I usually do for dramas, so yes, my rant is far from done. I’m just trying to focus on the production itself right now.

On the other hand, someone did a really cute drawing of A Ke.

*All images were collected around the net, therefore, belonging to their rightful owners.

Royal Tramp 2014: Finally Airing

So I saw some updates about how this is finally airing! I ran to Weibo to check and lo and behold, there it is! Yay! Finally at long last!

Still uncertain after watching some trailers. However, I’m willing to look past some ‘exaggerations’ and ‘additions’ after having watched DGSD from them. (Yes, had to place that in once again because it still holds a special spot in my heart–as far as dramas go, of course.)

*All images were collected around the net, therefore, belonging to their rightful owners.

Royal Tramp 2014: On the Side

I seriously forgot to go back and update on how they wrapped up and did some promo events for this awhile back. Well, it was around the time the new DGSD aired and all so I was occupied with watching that and forgot, lol.

*All images were collected around the net, therefore, belonging to their rightful owners.

The Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils 2013

(image credit: as marked)

I wasn’t planning to dive into this. I meant I was planning to watch Royal Tramp since I had been updating on that a lot last year. However, I wasn’t too sure about this–because I was judging the book by its cover (lol). Then I got curious, wondering how it would all turn out. Considering how there is a similar cast between the two productions–this and the upcoming Royal Tramp, I want to check out the cast to encourage myself even more. Seriously, I wasn’t expecting much, if all fails, I could abandon it. However, I was addicted right from the beginning. OMG, it was that good. Okay, I might be exaggerating here, but maybe because I didn’t expect anything so it turned out quite well for me.

Main Cast:

  • Wallace Chung as Qiao Feng (喬峰)/ Xiao Feng (蕭峰). I was surprised they cast him in the role. Yet I got past that and managed to hang on, to see what they could come up with. However, I felt Wallace managed to win me over with his portrayal. It was definitely different from previous versions and possibly expectations of what readers might have in mind for Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng as a character in general. That didn’t mean it couldn’t be changed because I believed Wallace had achieved that effect. He managed to keep some of the essences of Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng as a character but also added another side of Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng that would allow one to ponder. He had this gentleness and kindness to him. It seemed like he wasn’t fierce enough at times, but he was able to exude that fierceness if he was forced to. So in the end, I think he was powerful enough of a character for me. Oh yeah, I was so glad they (the production team) didn’t make it so he would somehow fall for Ah Zi too just because they were twins. (I’m serious, it seemed to want to go that way, but the little change only stopped at the sisters being twins and not other side stories, phew.) Love the way he portrayed the character overall. I cried buckets during the last scene. Okay, NOT really, but it was closer to there.
  • Kim Ki Bum as Duan Yu (段譽). 200% surprised. I swear I was judging just based on the first impression of seeing some pictures and hearing about the casting at first. Yet when I watched it, I realized something. Like the other versions, except for Benny Chan’s version that I remember Da Li people had different outfits from the Zhong Yuan people. Then it hit me, what did Da Li people usually wear? What were their actual outfits anyway? And what did they look like? I meant they lived in a different region and had their own culture, right? So why not cast someone having distinguished features and have the Da Li people dressed differently like how it was in the series. It felt refreshing for me. The fact that Kim Ki Bum was so charming in the role made it a lot more appealing for me too. (Duan Yu’s actually my least favorite based upon the novel, and the first version I watched didn’t help his case either so yeah.) The plot really helped Kim Ki Bum since it made him less boring and less nagging/clingy that I felt more intrigued by what else they would eliminate just based on past adaptations. In fact, this by far made me feel hopeful for his character as I watched on, like his sense of caring for his family enhanced even more in here. They elaborated how he didn’t just care for his family or his sisters (who he and everyone had mistakenly thought at first were his sisters) when he needed them, but he really cared for them. Like at one point when he was talking to Wang Yu Yan (it was their first meeting), he thought of how much Wan Mei must have suffered after the disaster with them being siblings (so they couldn’t stay together anymore). It was like he wasn’t disposing of them after learning the truth but still cared for them. (NOT implying or encouraging them to continue on here, but I’m saying like he continues to care for them as family members now, wondering how they are, etc.)
  • Han Dong as Xu Zhu (虛竹). After I was reassured with how Wallace and Kim Ki Bum had passed the radar (for me), I was really unease with how it would turn out with him. Yes, he would be the final key with me liking this version as an overall or not. It was really nerve-wracking of a wait since I know it would take a while with all the conflicts involved and the many subplots going on already. Knowing those things didn’t help keep me calm for the time being either. When he finally appeared, I was like, “Finally.” But it wasn’t because I was anticipating his appearance. Well, sort of, but because after what happened in the other parts of the plot, it got me even more anxious to see how he fended, etc. After watching several scenes, I gave up with trying to compare and enjoyed his version for its own depiction. (Because I swear Felix Wong ruined it for everyone. He did it when he was portraying Guo Jing too so nothing new here.) Anyway, back to this, I think it’s hard to portray a really “dumb/naive” type of Xu Zhu like how Felix did it. (Since he was just so natural in that role.) But I felt like Han Dong’s Xu Zhu wasn’t terrible. I could see that he was clueless at times, though not like outright super clueless, he was like in confusion and unsure of lots of stuff, especially how he was panicking to find a solution to back out of being part of the chess game, but couldn’t. I was able to see the uncertainties in his eyes and his face. He did indeed project a kind image though, so unlike his Tian Bo Guang role. (LOL) And his wrinkled face expression at times was understandable since it was normal to be scared of stuff. NOT like Xu Zhu was like to the enlightened stage to not feel fear anymore. OR when he was curious at times. Then I completely ignore the Xu Zhu in the book and forced myself to just focus on this Xu Zhu that the production team had created (or perhaps Han Dong had decided it, or both). How was it after all those? I think It was really easier to watch, not having to compare. I meant I feel just based on a projection of a clueless monk, just venturing out in the world, then after leaving Shaolin, he was adapting to the new life and the environment outside. He was still clueless at times and even say that he was a monk (lol) without realizing it. It was indeed quite funny and cute in a sense. I felt it was kind of strange with his hesitation at times (because again, I was used to seeing Felix so graceful and confident later on), but I soon realized that it made sense that Xu Zhu would be clueless or not as confident in some matters–or even become shy when talking about sensitive matters. So I was more accepting and just try to enjoy his performance from there on. Indeed, he was more comfortable when talking to his sworn brothers. Then later, he became more confident with directing the people from Lingjiu Palace (靈鷲宮), and eventually seemed more powerful so I was glad. Like he needed time to adapt and gain confidence with the world around him. It wasn’t too off. I ended up enjoying his role anyway. Even if he wasn’t the Xu Zhu in the book or like past adaptations, but I felt like Han Dong did a good job with making me like him or think of him in as a real monk walking out into a different world, etc.
  • Mao Xiao Tong (毛曉彤) as Zhong Ling (鍾靈). I thought she was somewhat cute at first. Then like most of the cast in here, her outfit was distracting for me. Later on, I managed to get past those outfits already and indeed, she was quite cute. The way they made her character out, it was indeed suitable. I think I felt even sadder for her since she met Duan Yu first but had to back down because she realized Duan Yu and Mu Wan Qing were together. (And later on, I felt Mu Wan Qing was too mean to her but glad Mu Wan Qing cooled down and considered it seriously thus understanding how it must have been for Zhong Ling.) What I found strange though that she accepted Duan Yu as her brother too fast. But it soon explained the reason why. She was so used to being invisible that though she was shocked upon learning of the news, she still accepted it quickly after. The fact that Ah Zi was taunting her probably made her not wanting to lose ground in front of Ah Zi as well. But aside from that, lovable overall.
  • Zhao Yuan Yuan as Mu Wan Qing (木婉清). Surprised. At first, I’m like, “What in the world is she wearing?” I meant the mask, not the costume. Okay, the red and black outfit was kind of distracting for me too. But the mask was indeed weird. I was glad that was off after a while. But aside from that, what else? I felt her portrayal of Mu Wan Qing was also genuine in its own way. It was different like how though she tried to be fierce (since it was the way she was brought up by her master), but at times she couldn’t help laughing at Duan Yu’s lame jokes either. Sure, she was so fierce and she was unreasonable at times, but I also felt bad for her since her mother’s temper wasn’t helping her cause either. Her insecurities also arise from how her father had treated her mother, etc. But in the end, I was glad she wasn’t too unreasonable. Considering how she, herself, had suffered before so she would understand how Zhong Ling must have felt too. And though she was fierce with Duan Yu and somewhat snapping at Wang Yu Yan that one time (yeah, her temper got in the way again) with the whole misunderstanding, I was glad to know that she didn’t want Wang Yu Yan to return to Mu Rong Fu’s side, considering how much Mu Rong Fu’s betrayal had caused grief for Wang Yu Yan previously. (Because if she would allow Wang Yu Yan to do that right away, it would help her case, but she didn’t agree. Although Wang Yu Yan ended up returning to Mu Rong Fu’s side anyway, that was beyond the point here.)
  • Zhang Meng as Wang Yu Yan (王語嫣). Another surprise. She’s really, really smart in the novel. Well, it was already obvious that she wanted to help her cousin, etc. However, I felt she was boring in the novel. The first adaptation that I watched didn’t aid her cause at all (like how it was with Duan Yu), because they didn’t just make her boring BUT also annoying. This one? A great improvement. Though I felt it was all right with the last 2 adaptations that I managed to catch, her character still didn’t stick with me until this one. (Despite the fact that people say that she wasn’t as beautiful as the past two actresses who portrayed the role. Yet hey, I don’t listen to the public anyway.) She was more down to earth in this one. It was like implying how she was so sheltered by her mother and was forced to act properly that she didn’t even dare to smile within her mother’s presence. Yet when she was with Ah Zhu and Ah Bi–and eventually Duan Yu, she was more mischievous and showed a livelier side. I felt that would be more realistic because even if she knew she should act proper and all (and the strict rules for girls during those ancient times), but as a young girl, she would still ponder about the many things of the worlds and want to go out to explore. Though the case here wasn’t just going out to see the world, but more like wanting to hunt down for news of her cousin. It was quite tragic for her since she’d chosen to stay by Mu Rong Fu’s side in the end, instead of following the others. However, I felt it made a lot more sense. Considering how she had admired Mu Rong Fu since little and had continued so throughout the whole events of the plot, it was hard to see how she would jump ship so quickly to Duan Yu. Whether Mu Rong Fu deserved it or not, it was debatable, but I felt it was strange to just forget about him after that one betrayal. Sure, it explained in the previous versions that she was touched by the many things that Duan Yu had done for her thus accepting him, but I felt it was still strange she was able to let go of Mu Rong Fu so fast. She indeed did feel grateful toward Duan Yu for his help numerous times, but she always treated him like a good friend (like they’d both acknowledged many times throughout their encounters) so it was weird to see her jumping ship just because of that one incident. It could be explained that she finally awakened and realized her foolishness of worshiping Mu Rong Fu all these years, but still…didn’t really convince (for me). Hey, she was still the queen, just not Da Li’s queen, but Da Yan’s queen. (LOL!)
  • Zong Feng Yan as Mu Rong Fu (慕容復). Seriously, talking about a miscast. YES, I finally pick on someone, right? NOT true, I picked on some of the main cast in the past too, but when I actually watched it, they weren’t so off like I thought. This guy, no matter how I tried to be patient, was far from Mu Rong Fu. So I felt like he was a good actor at the part where Duan Yu was posing as him, but other than that, I felt he was a miscast for the character. He was so crazy and fierce at times, and was easily jealous, so how could he be the patient Mu Rong Fu whom others had mistaken? Though I was ready to hate him and did whenever he pulled those tricks throughout. (And somehow, I did understand it was a huge burden for him with how his father had forced him to keep forging forward to restore Da Yan like past adaptations but wasn’t as convinced for some reason.) Yet some of the scenes when his father finally let go and told him to do the same, I felt really bad for him. Because with Mu Rong Bo’s flashbacks, it seemed like Mu Rong Fu had nothing to think about but to restore Da Yan. So that was his whole life. Perhaps Wang Yu Yan was right in saying how pitiful Mu Rong Fu was with having such a burden. But it was so hard to sympathize with him when seeing him continuously pulling those tricks. Yet seeing him breaking down completely when his father told him to let go was really powerful. I think the actor could really convince, but like said before, he was wrong for the role according to how it was set up in the novel. I actually find him quite hilarious and convincing after he’d gone crazy and was playing the whole ‘king’ scenes.
  • Jia Qing as both Ah Zhu (阿朱) and Ah Zi (阿紫). Um, okay, they weren’t supposed to be twins in the novel. But since TVB’s 1982 version pulled an “Ah Zhu and Zhong Ling” lookalike hence pushing Zhong Ling to Qiao Feng later on AND killing Mu Rong Fu and Mu Wan Qing as well, I guess this version wasn’t WAY over with making Ah Zhu and Ah Zi twins. But moving on, what about Jia Qing’s portrayals of both characters? Impressed actually. In fact, I was wondering how she was so heavily promoted last year with all of those projects (though I wouldn’t go outright bashing) and if that was just one of the artists that the company was promoting, etc. Yet I finally figured out why. Jia Qing seriously has great potential and hopefully, she would continue to impress. (Just like how that one article had shown her professionalism that one time and her ability to touch even other members of the cast as well along with her co-star.)
    • As Ah Zhu (阿朱). As Ah Zhu, there were many lovable things about her. (Of course, lol.) She was very bright and cunning at times with her tricks. Yet other times, it showed her maturity and intelligence beyond her age. She had great deduction skills and could cause others to become tongue-tied all of a sudden. She, like the rest of the Mu Rong family, knew how to use the special disguising skills to her advantage. Yet that was also her downfall. Sadly.
    • As Ah Zi (阿紫). Crazy witch. That was about it, lol. JUST KIDDING, but Jia Qing sure could convince. It wasn’t just about Ah Zi being loud and unreasonable either, but more like it got you thinking how was it possible for Jia Qing to be so gentle and graceful in the other role yet so obnoxious and devious in this one? Sure, Ah Zhu had her mischievous moments too, but it was apparently different from how Ah Zi would approach that ‘sense of humor’ as she saw it (mostly because of the environment she grew up in). Jia Qing’s weakness came in around the time Ah Zi became blind because of the poison. It was more like she couldn’t portray a blind person well. At times, it seemed like she let her eyes stayed still and could pass as being blind. Then other times, she got so excited with acting out Ah Zi’s obnoxious side that she had forgotten to keep her eyes still or appear blind. Perhaps being so used to acting with her eyes had caused a disadvantage for her at that point.
  • Mona Wang as Princess Yin Chuan (銀川公主) aka Li Qing Lu (李清露) aka Meng Gu (夢姑). Wah! Finally a beautiful wife for Xu Zhu. (Sorry to stomp others down, but I never really felt right with past adaptations, even if I must admit the princess alongside Felix Wong was really cute.) Mona was really cute as the princess and really elegant too. She sure exuded the princess image. And I know she was not one of the major characters, but I included her in here anyway, because of her participation toward the last part of the series leading to the epic ending. She did have more scenes versus some previous versions so I thought I include her as well.

Other Key Characters:

  • Bryan Leung as Xiao Yuan Shan (蕭遠山). As interesting as it got, he portrayed Qiao/Xiao Feng in TVB’s 1982’s version. It was really funny seeing him acting out as the father role in here. Well, he did portray the father role in the flashbacks of years ago (like how they often did with past adaptations of having the person portraying Qiao/Xiao Feng portraying the younger version of the father since Qiao/Xiao Feng looked like his father). But with this one, I just wanted to laugh. NOT that he wasn’t convincing, because he was, comparing to his recent years of portraying random roles. What I was laughing about was his participation in here and how he had chided his son for acting so rash because of a girl (saving Ah Zhu that one time), and I was laughing because he did the same thing in the other version. (LOL!) Back to this one, what can I say? He was really convincing in this serious role. He really brought out the many sides of his character well, and then eventually remorse. Not to mention other emotions of hatred and pain that had dominated his life all these years previously. Then finally letting go of revenge.
  • Feng Jin Gao (馮進高) as Mu Rong Bo (慕容博). Mu Rong Fu’s father. He sure could act. I could see his arrogance throughout and trying to mold Mu Rong Fu into a killing machine and to resort to any means that they could to restore the Yan dynasty, but later when he finally turned around, he exuded the kind and gentle look really well. And what about him? Seeing him, it wasn’t hard to figure out how Mu Rong Fu turned out that way. The old man was setting his son out for the evil road real good. Whether he truly believed in restoring the Yan dynasty as a beneficial thing to their citizens or not, he sure caused many mishaps throughout. Not to mention 30 years of madness among several key characters in here. Though they were really dumb to just believe him like that, he sure could manipulate since it made sense during those chaotic times.
  • Gong Fang Min (公方敏) as Xuan Ci. Xu Zhu’s father. I think he had a more active role in here versus some of the past adaptations. Sure, he was the “Leading Big Brother” (帶頭大哥) and had a great impact regarding Qiao/Xiao Feng’s life. Yet it seemed like he wasn’t as involved in some of the previous versions, especially the events leading to the Shaolin gathering scene. This one, he was leading for most of the time with the parts and managed to reflect the ‘leader’ role. (In one of the adaptations, it had Duan Zheng Shun directed the whole thing SO it seemed like Xuan Ci was less powerful.) Though he had broken one of the major Buddhist conducts, there were some other things that compensated for his character. Like how he was willing to let Xiao Feng kill him to avenge Xiao Yuan Shan’s death. (Perhaps that little detail had helped for Xu Zhu’s cause later on with the gathering as well so Xiao Feng wouldn’t be shocked and attacking Xuan Ci along with the others.)
  • Canti Lau as Duan Zheng Shun (段正淳). Surprisingly disappointing. I had a lot of expectations for him. Yet he didn’t impress me or at least entertain me enough to ‘save’ the show as I initially had thought. (Since I was watching for mostly some of the veterans here, aside from the curiosity about the new cast.) Perhaps it was because this version didn’t focus on him so much as the previous versions. I was all right with that since I was kind of worn out with too much focus on the Dali people from past versions. It was a new feeling, but still feel that he seemed so weak compared to some past versions. The one thing about him that made sense was his ‘smooth talking’ skills and his sense of care for his family (whether he was honest or not). But I could feel he really cared for Duan Yu and his immediate family. Or perhaps he was one of those that could never make up his mind about his feelings AND ended up hurting so many women. But what I outright wanted to kill him for was still being so close to Kang Min–after knowing that she had caused Ah Zhu’s death.
  • Duan Zheng Shun’s wife and lovers: Yeah, that guy seriously was smooth with his ways so even the super mean ones got tricked by him. Well, maybe they weren’t mean back then but ended up bitter and all because of him? Who knows? About all, the cast selection was quite good since it projected that Duan Zheng Shun seriously knew how to pick. (Not that I’m stomping on the past cast, but I just think this version’s cast selection seemed closer to the character’s age for this group.)
    • Yan Qing Yu (閻青妤) as Dao Bai Feng (刀白鳳). Duan Yu’s mother. She could really exude the respectable image as the wife. Yet, like how her character was written, she had her own secrets too. But she couldn’t be blamed. It was in the heat of the moment and how she had gone through so much, having a husband who couldn’t be loyal to her. It wasn’t any better with the whole “two can play at this game” but if it wasn’t so, would there be Duan Yu?
    • Florence Tan (陳秀麗) as Gan Bao Bao (甘寶寶). Zhong Ling’s mother. I think she was the kindest and most gentle among all the lovers. It didn’t mean she lacked strength, but she just wasn’t the scheming type or manipulative type either. Though she caved in near some of her ending scenes and called Duan Zheng Shun “Duan Lang” (段朗), I didn’t blame her too much. Unlike some past versions, this one cut out the part where Duan Zheng Shun snuck into her room through the secret passage and had a secret meeting with her–to the expense of her husband and daughter being right there. I welcomed that change. Though she had deceived (and possibly the only deceptive part about her character really) her husband about her daughter’s real father, but I felt it was excusable on some level. She was still loyal to him all through the years of their marriage. At least until the inevitable ending.
    • Shu Yan (舒硯) as Qin Hong Mian (秦紅棉). Mu Wan Qing’s mother. Among Duan Zheng Shun’s lovers, I admired her the most. Though she was really hot-headed and ‘crazy’ in many ways, she had raised her daughter on her own. Even if she had to lie about her real relation to her daughter initially, but she still kept her daughter by her side. And though she seemed quite mean on the surface, she could be so soft-hearted as well. Just like how she was convinced by Ruan Xing Zhu and even joined forces with Ruan Xing Zhu in the later parts of the series.
    • Wang Xuan Yu (王宣予) as Li Qing Luo (李青蘿) aka Madame Wang (王夫人). Wang Yu Yan’s mother. She sure looked mean. (LOL) And she seemed crazier in here. Though some past cast had exuded the evil look quite well too. She was just plain bitter and crazy, considering how she wanted to kill all the people who went by the surname of “Duan” (段). That sure was taking it to the extreme. Then there was also the part where she wanted Mu Rong Fu to kill all the other women yet that was just a bluff. Talking about crazy, eh? (It wasn’t bad enough that Mu Rong Fu’s father had driven him to craziness up to that point, but now his aunt was doing the same thing.)
    • Sylvia Cheung/ Zhang Yi Mu (張譯木) as Ruan Xing Zhu (阮星竹). Ah Zhu and Ah Zi’s mother. I never liked her regardless of the version, but this one made it less hateful. Maybe it was the different scenes that she had with her daughters and even Duan Zheng Shun. She was 2nd on the manipulative list. Because she seriously could sweet talk her way out of trouble, especially how she had conquered Qin Hong Mian just after that one talk. Seriously? Pro all right. What I hated about her the most wasn’t her ‘careful’ ways and the ability to get along with others, but with how she had abandoned her daughters and still dared to cry over the tragedies later. This version kind of toned that down a bit, but to me, it just didn’t stick. I meant, okay, those were scary times back then and how it was hard to survive with criticisms of having children when she wasn’t married yet. But the others had raised their children–one way or another. Why couldn’t she? She was partially blamed for Ah Zi’s evil deeds after all. Can’t disregard the fact that Ah Zi grew up with that monster and there was no proper guidance. How could the others expect Ah Zi to change like that? (Regarding Ah Zhu, I think it was because how Mu Rong Fu had exuded the kind attitude out front so others wouldn’t suspect him hence Ah Zhu having grown up in a better environment. Yet Ah Zhu wasn’t so innocent either since she did try to steal the manual from Shaolin that one time. It was just that Ah Zhu was luckier in some ways, but still died tragically.)
    • Viann Zhang as Kang Min (康敏) aka Madame Ma (馬夫人). The most despicable and manipulative among all the women. I think this version also made her the most hateful yet I didn’t mind. I meant I think this version managed to capture her manipulative abilities better. Maybe some might think she appeared so much, but I thought that was what made her scary and hateful at the same time. The other versions, I would be “yeah, yeah, she’s there” and we know what role she would play (based on the novel or the past versions). But this version showed how manipulative she was, laying out scene by scene of what she did and continued to control others around her. And it wasn’t like she was hogging the screen so much that you would eventually yell “enough already, she’s supposed to be dead a long time ago.” They showed enough of the role she played in the overall picture. That also made the Beggar Clan looked ridiculous for falling for her traps, which I got a kick out of it because I seriously hated them for being so easily manipulated by others and didn’t investigate properly.
  • The Four Evils
    • Du Yu Ming (杜玉明) as Duan Yan Qing (段延慶). Duan Yu’s biological father. If you read the novel or watched past versions, you know. But if not, yeah, it was a shocker indeed. But it turned the whole plot around for Duan Yu, in accepting about his biological father, not just caring about how he wasn’t related to the girls. Because I think this version captured it real good as well (along with 2 other versions). The tragedy didn’t end at Duan Yu losing his parents but learning that his biological father was one of the four evils. What to say about Duan Yan Qing except he was crazy? Like some of the characters in here, he was driven to restore his ‘crown’. Though I was really pissed with how he had killed Yue Lao Shan, this one sort of made it less hateful during his death scene. It was tragic that one could forgive him for what he’d done. I didn’t completely forgive him for what he’d done, but in a way, it showed that he was willing to die for his son. So there was still some good in him. It was just that he was so into his plot that he’d astrayed so far from the right path. And how in the world was Mu Rong Fu able to kill him? I think it was due to both because (1) Mu Rong Fu had gone mad after this last attempt in restoring Da Yan and losing his two loyal followers thus fueling his energy even more, and also because (2) Duan Yan Qing himself wanted to die. Duan Yan Qing himself was one of the four evils after all (and Duan Yu had stated that as the sole reason why he didn’t want to accept the man as his father) so how could he let Duan Yu suffer from the upcoming possible criticisms/debates from others? He probably wanted to sacrifice himself in an attempt to get Duan Yu to forgive him as well.
    • Meng Xia (孟霞) as Ye Er Niang (葉二娘). Xu Zhu’s mother. Like Mu Wan Qing, I was so annoyed by the mask they created for her. It was really odd and disturbing. Even if I wanted to say she was part of the four evils after all and they were all weird, but it was really distracting. Yet she wasn’t bad as Ye Er Niang. The reunion scene with her son was really tragic and touching.
    • Lin Yi Zheng (林以政) as Yue Lao San (岳老三). Duan Yu’s disciple. He was seriously funny in here. (My favorite Yue Lao Shan is actually the guy from TVB’s 1982 version–despite that version having many holes. But I have to put this guy in as well for 2nd favorite.) He had many funny scenes and was seen really loyal to Duan Yu numerous times. He tried to back out of the deal the first few times yet later really kept his words. He really tried to protect Duan Yu and died because of Duan Yu. I felt really sad that Duan Yu didn’t know that. Or did he overhear it? But still quite tragic with his death too.
    • Ji Wei (纪伟) as Yun Zhong He (雲中鶴). Um…they didn’t focus on him as much in here as some other versions with showing more of his kidnapping girls, but it was all right. It was somewhat funny that he was mocking Yue Lao Shan about being Duan Yu’s disciple at times. That was about it.
  • Lu Yong (盧勇) as Jiu Mo Zhi (鳩摩智). Royal Adviser of the Tubo Kingdom. They cut out some of his scenes in here, but it was all right. I rather they focus all around with different characters than linger on and on with some characters only. I kept making fun of his hairstyle in here and how he needed a comb (or two, lol). But must admit he’s a good actor with portraying the cunning person. Then later, he repented for real and thanked Duan Yu for saving him, etc.
  • Jin Ming (金銘) as Tian Shan Tong Lao (天山童姥). At first, I was doubting her. Not sure she could do it. But I guess having 2 people portraying her role made sense. Or were there 3? The 3rd one being the person who turned really old with white hair. (‘Cause I couldn’t really tell if the makeup was done OR a different actress. But I had guessed it was a different actress.) Not only had she managed to convince me of her cunning nature but also her cruel side as well. She was quite manipulative too. And I felt ten times more sorry for Xu Zhu whenever she hit him over the head. Seriously, major abusing but it made sense with her nature.
  • Alyssa Chia as Li Qiu Shui (李秋水). Very graceful and powerful. I swear Alyssa’s version made me feel more convinced as to why she has all these ‘abilities’ to seduce Wu Zai Zi and won others’ hearts. Many might be complaining of the age thing here again, but I felt it was suitable because people back then, especially those in the jianghu realm and knowing martial arts of various sorts could use their skills to reserve their beauty through time. It wasn’t until her death that she showed signs of aging.
  • Eddy Ko as The Sweeper Monk (掃地僧). The most powerful and enlightened monk within Shaolin Sect. Even if they exaggerated on his skills (as with many of the characters in here), I felt I could understand his role in the overall story better. He was the guy who could put a stop to the conflicts that had rippled several key characters’ lives in the past 30 years. The way they made him to be, it was easier to relate and how he was able to convince them to stop the killing and fighting.

Far-Out:

I decided to put these people in here, because even though they did make some major impact in the story but weren’t around as much.

  • Samson Lai (賴水清) as Wang Jian Tong (汪劍通). The predecessor of the Beggar Clan. Yes, the director decided to take part in the production as well with the ‘on-screen’ side. Yet he wasn’t around long. Just a little bit.
  • Min Zheng (闵政) as Ma Da Yuan (馬大元). Kang Min’s husband. A good person yet too soft-hearted at times. If not, how could he have fallen into Kang Min’s trap?
  • Gao Yu Qing (高玉慶) as Bai Shi Jing (白世鏡). Somehow, this version made him less manipulative and less despicable. It had pointed the finger at Kang Min being the master manipulator so he was seen more human in a sense. Yet it didn’t let him go that easily either since he did betray his good brother.
  • Wu Hua Xin (吳華新) as Quan Wan Qing (全冠清). Made him even more despicable. But as I flipped back to the novel and read some parts of it, it fitted with his actions.
  • Guo Kai Min (郭凱敏) as Duan Zheng Ming (段正明). He didn’t appear much except some scenes in the beginning and later after Duan Zheng Shun died. But he was fine. He did exude the kind-hearted person and all. But he wasn’t a coward toward Duan Yan Qing’s many schemes either. He was willing to protect his family and all.
  • Shen Bao Ping (沈保平) as Reverend Huang Mei (黃眉大師). Helped save the Duan family from an embarrassment scene that one time when Duan Yu and Mu Wan Qing were captured by Duan Yan Qing.
  • Wang Kun (王坤) as Zhu Dan Chen (朱丹臣). One of Duan Zheng Shun’s bodyguards. He often disguised himself as a scholar. His other skill was creating secret passages. Always great to have him around.
  • Wang Zheng Jia as Chu Wan Li (褚萬里). One of Duan Zheng Shun’s bodyguards. He often disguised himself as a fisherman. Though he was killed by Duan Yan Qing, he was aggravated by Ah Zi’s words. Hot-headed but still kind-hearted, didn’t deserve his fate at all. But what else could be done, right?
  • Hugo Ng as Zhong Wan Chou (鍾萬仇). Gan Bao Bao’s husband. I seriously doubt Hugo could portray it at first. It was because I was more used to his overly serious roles. This one? He sure was crazy at times, and he managed not to look intimidating. It was really fun to watch. And I indeed felt really sad for him with being a shield at times but didn’t feel too bad for him when he tried to bring the four evils in and even resorted to such tactics of even involving Mu Wan Qing into the schemes as well. Considering how his wife and Qin Hong Mian were good sisters after all so how could he do that to Qin Hong Mian’s daughter?
  • Hua Jiao (華嬌) as Ah Bi (阿碧). One of Mu Rong Fu’s servant girls. Stayed by his side at the end and managed to recruit some people to play out the “kingdom” scenes. Cute image and indeed quite clever with her appearance. She really exuded the ‘mischievous’ side as well, along with Ah Zhu when they both appeared at first.
  • Hou Jie (侯杰) as Bao Bu Tong (包不同).  Followed Mu Rong Fu until he was killed off. I found it really funny that he kept arguing with Duan Yu at various times and Duan Yu matched his speed, lol. Couldn’t blame him too much since he was being loyal to Mu Rong Fu after all.
  • Li Yuan (李远) as Feng Bo E (風波惡). Followed Mu Rong Fu until he was killed off. Also argued with Duan Yu from time to time though less than Bao Bu Tong, but also can’t blame him either.
  • Chen Zi Han (陳紫函) as Madame Xiao (萧夫人). Xiao Yuan Shan’s wife, Xiao Feng’s mother. Small appearance but really captured the tragic event of that time.
  • Zhang Ming Ming (張明明) as Zhuo Bu Fan (卓不凡). I seriously got confused. Did they merge his character in? Like really? That was indeed strange. But forgivable.
  • Alec Su as Wu Ya Zi (無崖子). OMG, he was so arrogant. Well, comparing to some past version, he was less arrogant with the words, because one of the versions Wu Ya Zi actually said that Xu Zhu was ugly, etc. This one only said he was just an ordinary little monk. (LOL) But I was mumbling about how he was so picky, lol. It was funny seeing Alec Su in such an old role. But it was enjoyable while it lasted. The flashbacks were also cool. Even if he wasn’t my favorite character, but I enjoyed Alec’s performance.
  • Gao Yuan Yuan as Li Bi Yun (李碧雲). Li Qiu Shui’s sister. Didn’t appear much but exuded the ‘goddess’ state all right. Better than some of her past roles. I meant like she usually would wrinkle her face all the time (or probably because of the roles) but this one, she was just passive or appearing kind of ‘cold’, which was fine. It created the mysterious aura.
  • Liu Chao (劉潮) as You Tan Zhi (游坦之). Seriously dumb. If not, why would he still loved Ah Zi so much after being tortured by her so many times? No wonder Xiao Feng let him take care of Ah Zi–even after the whole incident in Shaolin, etc.
  • Han Zhen Hua (韓振華) as Su Xing He (蘇星河). This version somewhat gave an out for him? Well, when I read the novel again of that part, it had actually had that part so he wasn’t totally blamed for the deaths of the Shaolin elders?
  • Wang Gang (王崗) as Ding Chun Qiu (丁春秋). Ah Zi’s master. Didn’t have much of an active role like some past versions but I was all right with it (yup, yet again forgiving the production team). He was sure lame. Like how he let his followers/disciples praised him to Heaven. It was really hilarious to watch. But after all, he was a traitor. And oh look, karma, Ah Zi betrayed him as well. Nice? Full circle? What was even more hilarious was how his disciples abandoned him after severing their ties with him at Shaolin. He got what he deserved.
  • Wang Jian Xin (王建新) as Yelu Hongji (耶律洪基). I swear, it was really strange seeing this guy portraying Yelu Hongji, but I told myself I was being influenced by some past adaptations. Yet I guess it was all right since he didn’t appear as much anyway.

Relationships (romance, friendships, etc):

  • Wallace Chung, Kim Ki Bum, and Han Dong as sworn brothers. In here, I could feel their bonds even more. Well, I could feel it for all versions that I watched, but at times I felt kind of loose, especially the ’80s version where it focused too much on Duan Yu’s chasing of WYY that I eventually felt like he wasn’t so into the whole ‘brotherhood’ as he’d claimed. Though he indeed did help his brothers when they needed him. Yet it was kind of loose. (The other two’s acting helped.) In here, I was glad they added in that bit about Qiao Feng and Duan Yu drinking together that one time after they left Heroes’ Gathering Manor (聚賢莊). Though Duan Yu wasn’t good with wine (and this version made him less dependent on wine than the ’80s version, thank you), he was still willing to accompany Qiao Feng and tried to drink while they chatted away. Then there was also the whole Duan Yu speaking up for Qiao Feng at various points throughout, not just standing nearby WYY all the time to annoy her even more and not speak up for Qiao Feng. (Yeah, I know it seemed Duan Yu kind of become a busybody with interfering with some stuff and needed to be told off about it but I was glad it was because he wanted to speak up to defend his ‘good brother’. It showed their bond.) Then later on when Duan Yu met Xu Zhu, it was a riot how Duan Yu kept teasing Xu Zhu about WYY at first but after learning the truth, he ended up teasing Xu Zhu about Meng Gu. Xiao Feng joined in on that joke later as well. They were indeed brothers. Cool team for me.
  • Wallace Chung and Jia Qing as Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng and Ah Zhu. My favorite Qiao Feng/Ah Zhu pairing is actually Bryan Leung and Cecilia Wong’s and it has always been that way since none of the others stick with me, even if I liked the cast portraying those roles. But this pairing has now moved up to the second spot. YES, surprisingly, they were so addicting to watch in their own way. Their scenes were increased a bit more, but that didn’t mean it was dragging. It added more depth to their story and the different portrayals of some scenes made it really funny and cute. I never thought of Qiao Feng and Ah Zhu to be cute, more like a mature type of relationship. Yet this pairing managed to make me feel it was all right to think of Qiao Feng and Ah Zhu as cute. Several scenes were dramatized to stir some emotions for them, but I felt it wasn’t too over. Like the heart-wrenching departure at Heroes’ Gathering Manor. Then the many conversations they held, though still sticking to some details of the novel, but there were differences. Like how she actually didn’t condemn him for the killing of that one medic when he was little, but thanked him for telling her the story, i.e. trusting her enough to confide in her. Who could forget the heart-breaking goodbye as well? (Though that was super fake that there was no blood involved when she received like 5 blows of the Dragon Palms Skills.)
  • Kim Ki Bum and Mao Xiao Tong as a couple. Interestingly, I didn’t feel anything for them at first. But then later when she appeared again to take care of him, I could feel the cuteness and her innocence and care for him. Even more when she was willing to just stay by his side silently only. Yet later Duan Yu got the ‘agreement’ from Mu Wan Qing so they also get to be together. Which was cute.
  • Kim Ki Bum and Zhao Yuan Yuan as a couple. OMG, I never thought I liked them so much. But they stuck with me even after knowing the inevitable of the plot with how they were siblings and they have to separate. I felt both were fighting harder for it to not be true. Then when they knew it was inevitable and when they were trapped in the cave together, they were fighting harder not to let the poison control them. Well, only she was suffering from the potion because he’d become unaffected by all sorts of poisons after those two creatures jumped into his mouth that one time. Yet I really liked her bravery with how she attempted to kill herself to just end it rather than giving in to some delusional thought that they couldn’t be siblings OR letting the other dude have the satisfaction of condemning them. Then he had to stop her. He reassured her that they would be fine. It wasn’t fake at all the way their interactions were. Though there were times after that event that she still wished that it wasn’t true with them being siblings and how she still couldn’t accept it, but it was hard to control it. She needed time still to move on, considering how he was like the first guy in her life (that was important). There were also times that Duan Yu thought of her, like that one time talking to Wang Yu Yan (as mentioned previously) and later when he was talking to Xu Zhu. It seemed like he couldn’t let go yet and he had to remind himself that they were siblings so he had to forget about her, etc. Then their reunion later. What made it even cuter at times throughout at relevant parts was how he called her Wan Mei (婉妹). Hey, at least I thought that was cute. Though time didn’t permit any more dramatic moments between them because of what happened in the end, I felt the production team could have done without the whole misunderstanding of Duan Yu and Wang Yu Yan. Though it made sense with Mu Wan Qing’s insecurity with worrying that he was like Duan Zheng Shun, and she sure had her mother’s temper yet I felt it was strange. They should’ve provided that little time for Duan Yu and her reunion instead.
  • Kim Ki Bum and Zhang Meng as a couple or just friends. Because of how they interacted from the moment they met until the later parts of the story, I feel like I could root for them more in this version. At least I wasn’t feeling like it was just an obsession he carried throughout and couldn’t even step away like a decent human being but just kept tagging her and annoying her–along with other people. Their relationship started quite pure. Well, he initially did dub her as “Shen Xian Jie Jie” (神仙姐姐), but moved way past that, learning to like and respect her for herself, not just obsessing over her because she looked like the Fairy Lady he spotted in the cave. The fact that he didn’t keep focusing on his silent bitterness and jealousy of Mu Rong Fu made it tenfold better too. Sure, it probably steered from the main theme of the novel a bit regarding his character, but I totally welcomed this change since I’m sick and tired of seeing Duan Yu with no backbone when it came to Wang Yu Yan. (And for the record, I didn’t dislike her in the novel because she didn’t like him, but more like not liking her because she wasn’t interesting enough for me–despite her intelligence.) I felt it was kind of sad that when I finally could like Duan Yu and Wang Yu Yan as a couple, they (the production team) decided to follow Jin Yong’s third version (aka letting WYY stay by Mu Rong Fu’s side). Well, it made sense with how the story developed because they were more like friends and how he really wanted to help her be together with Mu Rong Fu than just plain wanting to win over Mu Rong Fu. Throughout, they also made Duan Yu think of Mu Wan Qing and worried for MWQ more than just plain obsess over WYY so it wasn’t too much. Then she was always caring for Mu Rong Fu and MRF’s burden of having to restore his kingdom that she couldn’t let go either. So it made sense they weren’t together. However, as I said before, it was too bad when I finally like them yet they couldn’t be together.
  • Han Dong and Mona Wang as a couple. Seriously, so cute! So little time together yet worth it. The production team dramatized it a bit with how he missed her from time to time and how she set up the place in the ice room. And their reunion was quite dramatic as well. Yet I didn’t mind. It was indeed touching and cute. (LOL! Even the prince of Tubo got touched by it. Which he pretended to not care later but still funny.) Then the later parts. Again, so little but cute. Near the ending, it was kind of funny that he was about to utter the Buddhist chant but she grabbed his hand and stopped him, lol. It was like his habit and he couldn’t help it. The fact that they were so cute, I can’t wait to see how their roles would turn out and how their interactions would be for the new Royal Tramp.
  • Zong Feng Yan and Zhang Meng as a couple. What can I say about them? Not sure what other changes were there about them in the third version of the novel. But this one made it so that Mu Rong Fu really cared for her too. It was just that his needing to restore Da Yan went past everything else. I guess that kind of ending for them was suitable. So tragic in a sense because he would never be normal but maybe only in that way could he be happy and care for her. And she also got what she wanted. Even if his mind wasn’t normal anymore. It was easier for me to believe that she continued to follow him despite his past betrayals than her changing her mind so fast to follow Duan Yu. It felt artificial for me. Even if that meant she realized who was the real person caring for her all along. But considering how much she cared for Mu Rong Fu all these years, how could she just let go like that? Heartbroken, yes, but could she just let go? (Even if like I said above that it was too bad for her and Duan Yu, but it was more convincing story-wise if she ended up with Mu Rong Fu.) They seriously didn’t match cast wise though, lol. It was odd to me.
  • Alec Su and Alyssa Chia as a couple. I don’t care for their story, and it couldn’t be any other way. But I was soooo happy to see Alec and Alyssa reuniting again for this production. They dramatized that part so much but hey, it gave a different perspective into the story, lol.
  • Alec Su and Gao Yuan Yuan as a couple. OMG, it was strange how she finally won over Alyssa, lol. Well, technically, Alyssa and Alec’s characters married in here, but she was the one who had his heart. It seemed like their feelings for one another were mutual, with how she had taken a sneak of the wedding scene, etc. Then his stealing looks at her too, etc. Yet it couldn’t be any other way with how he wanted to stop the conflicts between the other two so they couldn’t be together.

Other good things about this production:

  • Music. I can’t say that it was epic or anything. Yet I really liked the background music used. It helped a lot with those dramatic moments.
  • Extended development on some relationships. I think I could feel it more than just the somewhat following the gist of the novel. It was like we know the relationships for those who read the novel or at least watch some past adaptations. Yet this one extended so that we could feel more for those characters and their relationships, not just using some subtle actions or words to make us believe. Like I didn’t even know why I was crying at various points, especially when some key characters died (duh, I know) but I didn’t really think much when watching some past versions, because I know it would happen anyway. (Well, except for a rare few scenes from past adaptations due to some performances that got me crying. But really rare moments.) Like I could feel the Duan family were really family, not just out there on their own, chasing their own ‘girls’ or whatever. Or some elaboration on some much-needed parts.
  • Expansion on the Shaolin Sect gathering scene. This was the part where various sects, clans, etc were gathered to clarify some matters and it was revealed that Xiao Yuan Shan and Mu Rong Bo weren’t dead yet. I seriously welcomed this one. Seriously, it never seemed enough in some past adaptations because of how they rushed it through and expect us to believe. This scene was supposedly the most important because it clarified all misunderstandings and took care of allowing Xiao Yuan Shan and Mu Rong Bo to stop their senseless killings and fighting. It was also the part where Xu Zhu was reunited with his parents (and eventually lost them). There were so many things going on. It made sense to focus on it more. The Sweeper Monk played a major role at this part also. (Like mentioned in his character description.) And this one chose (like some other adaptations) to let Xiao Yuan Shan and Mu Rong Bo really understand to “let go” and become monks for real. TVB’s 1982 version seriously insulted the Sweeper Monk by making it that Mu Rong Bo faked it. Seriously, I always have the feeling the Sweeper Monk was quite enlightened with his Zen talks to Xu Zhu for that version, but he wasn’t able to detect that Mu Rong Bo was faking it? Well, he had a hint of it and helped Xiao Yuan Shan to escape from Mu Rong Bo. Yet that had really insulted the Sweeper Monk’s ability to solve the conflict and convince them to let go, and also insult his skills as well. Seriously? He was that miserable that he couldn’t defeat Mu Rong Bo? So back to this version, the extended scenes throughout the conflicts, fights, and other stuff really highlighted the essence of the plots thus far, especially regarding Xiao Feng and Mu Rong Fu’s sides.

What was the downside?

YES, I would be lying if I say there are no complaints.

  • The costumes. OMG, only the Da Li people dressed well. LOL! The rest are like so-so. I know the production team was trying to make each region dress differently or whatever, and I previously said I found it nice that they attended to that detail. But some of the costumes were like really strange and like kind of too much.
  • Mu Rong Fu (慕容復)’s name. Thanks to someone on YouTube for this. In several flashback scenes of Mu Rong Fu and his father, it seemed like the Yan dynasty was still at war with some country YET Mu Rong Fu’s name was already “Fu (復)”? Because it was mentioned later that his name was to remind them to “restore the Yan dynasty”. SO if they haven’t lost it yet, how could his name be “Fu (復)” already?
  • Ah Zhu never seemed wounded/injured enough at major scenes yet others were seen spitting out blood even with minor injuries? Um, this one pointed out by another YouTube member. (Yes, YT users could get carried away at times but I seriously agree this time.) I don’t remember any more about the Shaolin incident with Ah Zhu spitting out blood or not after she was hit with the powerful strikes when she had stolen the manual. But during her death, they tried to make it beautiful BUT forgot all about the blood and all after she had received like several powerful strikes of the Dragon Palms Skills. Yet in a later scene when Duan Zheng Shun went to confront Kang Min, he got slapped by her and spit out blood? Was Duan Zheng Shun that weak? With or without the poison taking effect, I didn’t think he would be that pitiful.

MAD FUNNY:

Just to end this review on a positive note, I’m placing this section in.

  • Snowboarding. Qiao Feng/Xiao Feng was seen snowboarding down the mountain at the beginning of the series. SO wacko, but still cool in a sense.
  • The scenes where Duan Yu got into senseless arguments with Feng Bo E and Bao Bu Tong. I don’t know, I found it funnier that Duan Yu was able to defend himself but was witty, not petty. It drove the other two insane but still reserved a sense of comical relief for some of the intensity of the situation.
  • The scenes with Duan Yu and Yue Lao San. OMG, in here, it elaborated more and more on their master and disciple relationship than in the past. I meant in the past, Duan Yu would gladly call Lao San his disciple to get out of sticky situations, etc. TVB’s 1982 version especially made Duan Yu seemed more annoyed with Lao San than amused. After all, Lao San was part of the four evils so it made sense to not be involved with him. But for this version, it made it quite comical that Duan Yu enjoyed torturing Lao San a lot YET didn’t really disregard Lao San after he was finished using Lao San for some means. I liked watching every time how Lao San was questioning if the girls by Duan Yu’s side was his ‘si niang’ (師娘), lol. He especially tried to pull Duan Yu and Wang Yu Yan together, lol. Even if he didn’t succeed but it was too funny with him trying to defend Duan Yu from time to time. Oh yeah, the Shaolin gathering incident gained Lao San even more points for jumping out to fight with Mu Rong Fu, saying that Mu Rong Fu dared to bully his master, lol. And how could I forget the part that he sacrificed himself to defend Duan Yu and Duan Zheng Shun? Tragic all right.
  • Duan Yu’s comedic side in general. YES, I decided to just merge it into one at last. I don’t know, it’s very surprising that I like Duan Yu already and all. But I talk about him more in this version too. Anyway, he seemed to be the comic relief for the majority of this version, which was cool with me. The most hilarious part must be the part with the Shaolin gathering after Xu Zhu and Ye Er Niang already reunited, and Xiao Yuan Shan forced Ye Er Niang to say Xu Zhu’s father’s name out. Though that part was really touching and sad for both mother and son, Duan Yu jumped in to say, “Don’t tell me it’s my dad.” LOL! I cracked up so hard. Yeah, it sure fitted Duan Zheng Shun’s profile all right. Like meeting a beautiful lady, courting her, then left suddenly after a special “get together.” I wouldn’t blame Duan Yu for thinking that. LOL!
  • The scenes leading up to how Xu Zhu finally reunited with Meng Gu. OMG, I was going insane with how the Prince of Tubo was cutting Xu Zhu off when he was just plain nervous and possibly shy to disclose his secret in front of the crowd. (It made sense since he used to be a monk after all so how could he say it out like that?) But then later, I really loved that prince (not really) for his loud mouth. Because when Xu Zhu finally blurted it out the real answer and Duan Yu repeated it in a louder tone so the others could hear, that prince yelled out that Xu Zhu finally replied. LOL! It was just crazy!

So in the end, why am I praising this version up and down? Seriously, I didn’t expect to. So possibly it was because of my not much of an expectation that had allowed me to enjoy it more? Or was it because of the fact that the first version I watched never captured my attention as much? (Though I do admit I like some of the stories and events that managed to make its way into that version.) I finally figured out why. It was because the majority of the characters–regardless of the plot involved–got humanized in this version. I swear, past adaptations made me feel like they were going through the motions of just living the role by interpreting the characters in the novels and play it out–whether they decided to do this or that–or if the scripts call for it or not. It felt like they were just following along, except for some of the cast. I felt this one attended to more of the details regarding different relations and stressed those points more than just, “Okay, these people are related” or “these two would eventually swear to be brothers” and then that was it. I didn’t feel the relationships as strong as how it should be, even if some parts did get extend in past adaptations to dramatize different bonds as well. Well, some parts did get change and they didn’t stay true to it 100%, but some of those adjustments made it better, not exaggerating some points out to the point of excruciatingly painful to watch.

So recommended? Up to you. Since I stated many times before that I operate on my own wavelength. Seriously, I didn’t care to read too many reviews or side discussions from others. It’s actually for my sanity (or whatever it’s left of it), but I did hear my sister say people were complaining about it. It’s actually normal since it happens a lot when new adaptations come out. (And I was also blurting out my own “What” when I saw different stills too so I’m not saying that I’m innocent from those initial criticism.)

One of the pluses though is that Huace loaded it onto their YouTube channel so it’s accessible for the world to see. They’re working on the English subtitles as well so it’s cool. (Click here if you’re interested. And they should provide a link for English subtitles playlist as well, just search around their channel some more.)