The War of Beauties

(image credit: as marked)

Initially I started this ages back when I was hunting down for Han Dong’s dramas. Yet I had to halt because I ended up seeing some spoilers. After calming down a bit, I decided to brave it anyway. However, I had to make sure about 20 times (exaggerating somewhat but it was closer to there) that it wasn’t a certain someone’s drama. YES, when it comes to cat fight related dramas and dramatic soaps, I tend to double check and triple check just to be sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Year 2015 in Recap

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

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

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

Books Reviews:

Music Reviews:

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

Fan Fiction:

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

Chinese: 46

Vietnamese: 5

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

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

Legend of the Ancient Sword

I finally caught up with this one. Yeah, because mostly I never watch stuffs in order and don’t want to be going with the majority just because. I finally watched because I really want to see Qiao Zhen Yu and Ken Chang. So, how was it? In a way worth it, in some ways, not so much. Yes, mixed feelings.

Main Cast:
  • Li Yi Feng (李易峰) as Bali Tusu (百里屠苏). Originally named Han Yun Xi (韩雲溪). This is my second drama of watching him. The other one, I put aside because I got bored, lol. (I actually finished this one before watching The Lost Tomb but finished the review for the other one first hence posting out of order.) Anyway, his character was initially quite lively but had turned quiet and repressed for the latter part of the drama. It was understandable since he had a lot going on and needed to control himself at times or be controlled by the evil thoughts. There were many frustrations going on around him and it was hard to focus on the goods. Later on though, he learned to loosen up a bit and joke around. Yet, of course, he couldn’t escape his fate. Indeed tragic. In a way, I guessed that he had to die to end the curse, but I silently hoped that they would find a way. Yet they couldn’t, especially what happened near the end.
    • Huang Tian Qi (黄天崎) as young Bali Tusu. The kid was sooooo cute! I enjoyed the little scenes of him.
  • Yang Mi (楊冪) as Feng Qing Xue (风晴雪). I liked her, but she annoyed me when she got into the schemes with forcing Xiao Lan to marry Yue Yan. I clapped when Xiao Lan asked her what if someone do the same to her so yeahhhh. (She didn’t like Hei Yao either so why was she forcing others? Even if Yue Yan was her friend and she wanted to help, that was low, using her magic and all.) I eventually moved on since they were dealing with more crucial situations. I do sympathize with her when she was left alone to roam the earth, searching for Tusu to one day appear (if possible) and hanging on to a thin shred of hope. She was one of the few characters whom had a lot of outfits to change out of in here, which was cool.
  • Qiao Zhen Yu (乔振宇) as Ouyang Shao Gong (欧阳少恭). He was seriously soooo awesome in here. His acting was top-notch. His character was mysterious from the start. He turned out to be cunning. However, I felt it was justified in many ways. Having suffered so much from backlash and surviving all these years, it was too much. There was too much anger within him. He wanted to win, even risking all those lives. But in a way, he was less fortunate than Tusu, because Tusu had so many people around him to encourage him on hence not turning evil completely. Shao Gong kept having to deal with all those lost and he only had Xun Fang. So after he lost Xun Fang (or thought he lost her), how could he maintain his sanity? He was the other character whom had lots of outfits to change back and forth in here. What irked me (and possibly the majority of his fans) was how they used that hideous red outfit for him near the end. Seriously? Over-killed of recent–whether guy or girl. Yet the person whom designed it wasn’t really paying attention either. Ugh.
  • Gillian Chung (鍾欣桐) as Princess Xun Fang (巽芳公主). Gillian had to portray two characters in here. Although it was only one, but she had to act as the fake Xun Fang as well. Gillian did a nice job in here. She was convincing as both the gentle and kind Xun Fang as well as the cunning, fierce fake Xun Fang. Although I usually kind of find it unbelievable and often tend to roll my eyes at characters that seemed too good to be true aka goddess type, but I actually quite liked her. Not just because of Gillian. But more like only she seemed to understand Shao Gong and his pain. She was patient and caring, trying to get him to see the better side of the world. She couldn’t really change him (obviously), but wasn’t like others just looking at him with the ‘good vs evil’ concept and all those conscience lectures BUT she truly understood him. She wanted him to live happier for his sake, not for others. That was why I liked her, even more than Qing Xue (though Shao Gong had said that they were both similar in their kindness, etc).
  • Ray Ma Tian Yu (马天宇) as Fang Lan Sheng (方兰生). First time watching him and finally realized what he was all about. He was seriously hilarious in here. He was teased by others a lot both because he was the youngest among them and how he was spoiled by his sister. However, he later learned a lot and was able to help them. They still teased and joked around but had come to appreciate him.
  • Zheng Shuang (鄭爽) as Xiang Ling (襄铃). Cute. At first, I didn’t realize she portrayed one of my favorite characters from The Four, but after looking information up, I felt she was really good. She was matured and exuded a serious vibe versus the cute and innocent little fox in this one. Well, there were at times I was annoyed with her initially for causing troubles. But it was because she didn’t get it and thought she was helping. Later on, she became more and more likable. I felt so sorry for her for the ending. Perhaps, it was for the best since she didn’t have to suffer through the same trials as her parents. Yet that was soooo sad.
  • William Chan (陳偉霆) as Ling Yue (陵越). Before watching this, I heard good things about him. Or should I say fangirls were drooling over him? Now that I already watched, I finally get it. Not to the point that I’m drooling over him too. But I felt I understand why there was such a hype over him and how it became William’s breakthrough role. Ling Yue da shi xiong was awesome. Not just because he was good looking, lol. But he was seriously exuding this powerful aura. He convinced us that he was a capable leader. He was responsible and just in his actions. He was also quite protective of his junior, Tusu. He also wasn’t unreasonable (especially regarding Xiang Ling and mending his way after realizing she wasn’t evil, etc). All in all, a very likable character with many sides of him.
  • Ken Chang (張智堯) as Reverend Zi Yin (紫胤真人). He didn’t appear much and the cuts so yeah. But he managed to exude a powerful and mystic aura about him. Probably one of Ken’s dashing characters. His lack of appearance didn’t cause him to lose out with others. In fact, his lack of appearance had caused the audience to be even more curious about his character.

Tian Yong City (天墉城)

  • Chen Zi Han (陳紫函) as Hong Yu (红玉). A sword spirit. She followed Reverend Zi Yin after he granted her a human form and helped him guard various swords in the swords tower. Being thousands of years old, she was quite powerful and talented. She was also smart. She was probably one of the two people whom suspected that Shao Gong had a hidden agenda from the start. Although she didn’t want to say it out loud at times, especially Tusu whom was quite fond of Shao Gong. Yet her hunches were right. She was right about the traps for them. Oh yeah, since I complained up and down about QZY’s red outfit near the end, I have to comment on her red outfit too. Okay, going to sound ironic, but I actually felt she was the only one not being too over with wearing red outfit. It had to do with her swords spirit and her name. So there, it was justified and it was nicely designed.
  • Dilraba Dilmurat (迪丽热巴) as Fu Qu (芙蕖). Liked Ling Yue and treated Tusu like her younger brother. She was the other one that didn’t bully Tusu during his stay and even aided him greatly. Although she did have her attitude at times yet wasn’t annoying. It was who she was, sometimes rash in her ways yet didn’t mean any harm.
  • Zong Feng Yan (宗峰岩) as Reverand Han Su (涵素真人). I felt annoyed with him at the beginning. Mostly because he listened to Ling Duan and didn’t really investigate stuffs thoroughly. It was like he had too many disciples and didn’t care or something. But later, he finally yelled at Ling Duan for causing trouble, etc.
  • Hanson Ying (应昊茗) as Ling Duan (陵端). Annoying and despicable. He was even more annoying than some of the demons in here. He contributed for the majority of Tusu’s suffering in here. All that bullying and causing trouble all around. He so got what he deserved later on.
  • Cai Jun Tao (蔡俊濤) as Ling Chuan (陵川). One of the disciples that were in schemes with Ling Duan to bully Tusu, but later somewhat backed down.
  • Dai Zi Xiang (戴子翔) as Zhao Lin (肇临). Got killed off by Shao Gong when he was in the book tower with Tusu.

You Du and Wu Meng Spirit Valley (幽都與烏蒙靈谷)

  • Vengo Ko (高伟光) as Feng Guang Mo (风广陌) / Yin Qian Shang (尹千觞). One of the dark characters. Yes, he was funny in many ways, but he also had his own baggage to deal with. I felt really bad for him to have endured such punishments later on when he finally returned to You Du to hand the sword over at long last.
  • Liu Fang (刘芳) as Granny of You Du (幽都婆婆). Didn’t like her at all. Yes, not one bit. Even if she meant well and it was her job, but I find her infuriating in many ways. Once upon a time, she wasn’t able to keep her words and ended up wanting to kill Yun Xi. Then they weren’t able to defeat Reverend Zi Yin YET later she claimed that it was because they were reassured that he could find a way to restrain the sword hence not going after him for it until now. Really? Then there was the part at the end when Guang Mo returned to hand over the sword, asking for his punishment with being gone for so long. She punished him by making him stay forever to guard the sword. Really? It wasn’t like he lost his memory on purpose.
  • Jacqueline Li (李小璐) as Han Xiu Ning (韩休宁). Bali Tusu’s mother. Luckily she only appeared a bit since she wasn’t one of my favorite actresses since ages.

Qin Chuan (琴川)

  • Zhang Meng (张檬) as Fang Ru Qin (方如沁). I didn’t like her a bit in here. Even if I understood her perspective. It was just that it was so hard to sympathize with her. Especially the whole forced marriage schemes. It was beyond annoying. She didn’t like it that that one dude took her and forced her into marrying him anyway, why do the same to her brother? What was the difference really?
  • Zhang Na (张娜) as Sun Yue Yan (孙月言). I liked her initially. Until she caved in and allowed the others to trap Xiao Lan as well. So I didn’t care if she ended up alone or not, which wasn’t so.
  • Ji Yang (吉阳) as Cha Xiao Guai (茶小乖). Funny character. However, he showed to be quite righteous later on. One of the characters I was glad didn’t die.
  • Qi Wei (戚薇) as Ye Chen Xiang (叶沉香). Okay, maybe I felt sad for her for being used for revenge. But what about the other family that got killed off by her father? Did she know?
  • Yue Yao Li (岳跃利) as Father Ye (叶父). Ye Chen Xiang’s father. Again, he killed off the other family. What was he crying about? What made it right for him to kill them off and cry victim when others do the same to him?
  • Fan Cai Er (范彩儿) as Ji Tong (寂桐). The injured and aged Princess Xun Fang. I knew there was something mysterious about her from the start. However, I didn’t even put the connection together. I meant she mumbled some stuffs from time to time after Xun Fang returned. I just didn’t put it together that she was actually Xun Fang. It was too obvious the other one was fake, it was just less obvious with her being Xun Fang. Yet it made sense when it was revealed.

Others:

  • Marco Li (李耀景) as Lei Yan (雷严). Okay, this is his umpteenth villain role so I’m not surprised. What I found really funny was how he thought he was in control of everything yet it wasn’t so. He was just a pawn for Shao Gong.
  • Jia Qing (贾青) as Chou Xin Rui (仇馨蕊). It was hilarious to see her in here. At first, that was. She was sooooo dreamy and made the scenes tenfold lively. It was hilarious to see her trying to teach Tusu acting when she handed him the paper, LOL! Then things turned tragic when the truth came out. Sad, indeed. But her appearance really contributed to the overall story. Hey, she made Tusu realized what he had with Qing Xue and to cherish those moments.
  • Wang Yi Miao (王一淼) as Su Jin (素锦). She worked for Lei Yan and tried to pursue Shao Gong by posing as Xun Fang. However, she so didn’t see it coming that he knew all along and was just using her.
  • Leon Chang (张云龙) as Hei Yao (黑曜). A cat demon, had a crush on Qing Xue since she fed him that one time.
  • Hao Ze Jia (郝泽嘉) as Hua Chang (华裳). Yin Qian Shang’s lover. She got killed by Su Jin after discovering the latter’s secret. Tragic.
  • Jess Zhang (张茜) as Jiang Li (姜离). Xiang Ling’s mother. Nice to see her guest star in here. I enjoyed her little performance.
  • Tong Tong (童彤) as Sun Yue Yue (孙月月). Sun Yue Yan’s nanny. Hated her. So annoying.
  • Yu Yu Ang (于宇昂) as Yan Mei (延枚). Hilarious. Appeared to be one of the town bullies YET it turned out he wasn’t so bad. He was actually a demon but got adopted by Xiang Tian Xiao so they ended up being sworn brothers, etc.
  • Tian Zhen Wei (田振崴) as Xiang Tian Xiao (向天笑). A town bully but turned out quite nice and righteous. He was quite hilarious too. His competitive nature drove him to accept the challenge in going with them twice on different dangerous journeys.
  • Ma Wen Long (马文龙) as Luo Yun Ping (洛雲平). He was a demon yet because he loved his adopted parents too much that he used the wrong method to cause others grave danger. Later, he ended up giving Tusu his special orb and died with his parents. Tragic, but an honorable character overall.
  • CiCi Liu (刘庭羽) as Nu Wa (女媧). Brief appearance but contributed greatly to the story.
  • Ren Han (任晗) as Octopus Demon (章鱼精). Hilarious! Okay, she was evil for wanting to eat the others, but what was hilarious was the part where she said the others were bullying her. (She had used the term ‘human’ YET had to correct herself and used the term ‘demon’, lol.)

Friendships / Romances / Others:

  • Li Yi Feng/Bali Tusu and William Chan/Ling Yue as friends/brothers/much more. They were one of the relationships I enjoyed watching in here. They looked out for one another and had this strong bond since little. Perhaps Ling Yue was making up for the fact he had lost his brother. But that didn’t mean he was replacing his brother. He truly cared for Tusu as a junior and had helped a lot throughout the years. In fact, he had been the one training Tusu all those years that Reverend Zi Yin had to meditate in seclusion. Tusu also looked up to Ling Yue like a brother and not just because he had to. Being under the same master helped, because they only had one another. Even when they were out and about, they looked out for one another.
  • Li Yi Feng/Bali Tusu and Qiao Zhen Yu/Ouyang Shao Gong as friends/brothers/much more. They were each other’s other half–literally. Both suffered greatly, teased, etc. Yet one had more support than the other hence their chosen paths. The reason why they understood and sympathized with one another so much was that connection. I think that out of all the ones Shao Gong lied to and betrayed, Tusu was the one who didn’t deserve it at all. I’m not saying the others did. I’m saying that Tusu never suspected Shao Gong, not even an ounce. Yet he got this? So yeah.
  • Li Yi Feng/Baili Tusu and Yang Mi/Feng Qing Xue as a couple. I felt their chemistry was likable. It wasn’t strong like how I felt about their other parings, but I thought it was likable enough that I thought it was cute in a sense. Their relationship was too emphasized using flashbacks so that sort of got me irked. Only the flashbacks near the ending was justified since it was their memories. However, some other parts were driving me insane. But I do get their relationship and felt it was touching. It was too tragic how things turned out for them.
  • Yang Mi/Feng Qing Yue and Vengo Ko (高伟光)/Feng Guang Mo as siblings. It was touching with their bond. She tried to find him (aside from Tusu) so when she found him, she wanted to believe it was him. Well, it was him, it was just that he didn’t remember. He kept turning her down until later. At least when he realized what was going on and said he didn’t mind being her brother if that was what she wanted. It turned out, they were indeed siblings.
  • William Chan/Ling Yue and Ray Ma Tian Yu/Fang Lan Sheng as brothers. It was hilarious. And touching. The moment when Ling Yue realized his brother wasn’t dead was quite emotional. Well, there weren’t much proof yet but when he finally found out, he was more at ease because his brother didn’t get eaten by those men that he found near their camp site years ago. It was interesting how Xiao Lan was so attached to Ling Yue even before knowing of their relations. However, it wasn’t too over since he heard a lot about Ling Yue from others so he wanted to learn from the best. The funniest part must be when Xiao Lan made Ling Yue carry him. LOL! He had to make up for lost time of not spending all those years with his brother, lol.
  • Ray Ma Tian Yu/Fang Lan Sheng and Zheng Shuang/Xiang Ling as a couple. They were funny and cute together. Perhaps she was just too innocent and only wanted to tag Tusu (but I didn’t think it was romantic feelings that she held for him since they were more like childhood friends–even if briefly). Even if she didn’t like him initially, but still managed to save him or try to help him at times. It wasn’t way later that she ended up tagging him instead yet he made the decision to be with Yue Yan. Their last conversation before going on the trip was really sad and touching. It was worth a few tears. OR maybe a lot.
  • Ray Ma Tian Yu/Fang Lan Sheng and Zhang Na/Sun Yue Yan as a couple. I liked them as in their previous life. That was it. It wasn’t because she wasn’t one of the main characters that I dislike her or anything. But like I said before, after she followed along with the others, I just plain forget about her. I usually like those ‘cool’ fate things, but this one, I didn’t care much for. Yeah, the ending turned out the best for her but I was choking too much to care. He was probably feeling guilty for letting his sister down and how it occurred to him that it was fate that he ended up with her again and how her jade piece had pulled them together and all. YET I felt like it was too forced. They (the script-writers) didn’t even develop a proper start for these two. Not that I wanted the story to drag even more. But was some vague past incarnation connections and some guilt enough? I guess it was since people back then were in arranged marriage for so long that it didn’t matter anyway. I just expected more of Xiao Lan and how he finally was accepted by Xiang Ling, etc.
  • Qiao Zhen Yu/Ouyang Shao Gong and Gillian Chung/Princess Xun Fang. I don’t know this is their which # of collaboration, but I remember watching them in The Spirit of the Sword. They weren’t paired off in there but he liked her. They so matched in here yet their story was quite tragic. She didn’t appear much yet their chemistry was undeniable. They were the other tragic couple. Even though Tusu and Qing Xue were considered a tragic couple as well yet I felt they were luckier in that they still got to spend plenty of time together versus Shao Gong and Xun Fang. Although from their recounts, Shao Gong and Xun Fang spent a good amount together but still endured a lot more. These two weren’t really approved by others and having friends giving their blessings, etc. They only had one another. Okay, so that was probably more than enough but they were easily misunderstood. (Talking about the real Xun Fang, not fake one here.)
  • Ken Chang/Reverend Zi Yin vs. Li Yi Feng/Bali Tusu vs. William Chan/Ling Yue as master and disciples. I saw many fans drew pictures of them and all. It was fun to see. It also illustrated these three special characters and their relationships. I felt it was touching on many levels–though could be subtle at times, especially how some didn’t appear as much. I liked how Reverend Zi Yin only had two disciples, and how Tusu was an exception. It wasn’t like I wanted Tusu to endure the curse to be taken in by Reverend Zi Yin eventually. But I felt their relationship as master and disciples genuine since the leader had like hundreds of disciples but couldn’t keep charge of them all. This showed that quality trumped quantity. Their interactions were also quite real and didn’t lean toward overly dramatic either.
  • Best Scenes Ever: It was probably the part where they entered the Qin emperor’s tomb and encountered many traps and trials. It showed that each and every one of them had talents. It also showed their companionship and loyalty toward one another. Not to mention their bravery throughout. Their persistence and trust in one another was unbelievable. Yet it was quite powerful as well.

Recommended? There was indeed a good mixture of talking, fighting, and romances so it wasn’t too over. The variety of stories they learned of along the way sort of moved the story along as well. The soundtrack was just awesome and accompanied the series quite nicely. It helped majorly when the flashbacks were getting quite repetitive and too much. Although it was super sad with the ending for several parties, but I guess it wasn’t the worst. At least the overall was enjoyable enough.

The Four 2013: Review

(image credit: as marked)

How was it? It started out quite  good, actually. Then the ending sort of killed it. Or more like the last ten to fifteen episodes. It just dragged on and on and got repetitive with some craziness that seemed endless. Otherwise, it would have been quite good. Too bad.

Main Cast/ Characters:

  • Hans Zhang (张翰) as Leng Xue (冷血). This is my first time ever watching Zhang Han. I must say that after watching this, he has become my second favorite Leng Xue. (The ultimate favorite is Law Lok Lam, lol.) He exuded the coldness quite well. (Or was he naturally that way? Joking, lol.) But when he opened up later and learned how to joke, he was really funny and cute. I liked both sides of him. Even at times when he didn’t mean to joke, he cracked me up with his attitude at times. His story, like others, didn’t lack of exaggerations. Leng Xue was actually raised by wolves YET they managed to go all out with weaving such a story. Good one. LOL! Yeah, that was sarcasm. But anyway, not bad, just some parts could be done without, especially the love triangles.
  • Yang Yang (杨洋) as Wu Qing (無情). Strikingly handsome and graceful. He was supposed to be in a wheel chair but then I looked past that, considering how in the past adaptations, they did make his character not in wheel chairs so I had those adaptations to get used to already, lol. His wheel chair was supposed to be super cool too so it wasn’t like he was a weakling or anything like that. Anyway, in here, I loved how Wu Qing was able to control his fan so gracefully–with it dividing into pieces to attack others and then returning in whole again. It was really exaggerated but it demonstrated how strong his inner energy was hence being able to control it so well. It also fitted in with Wen Rui An’s exaggerations in the books at times and how he emphasized the importance of inner energy. As for Yang Yang, he was major eye candy all right. However, I felt the whole opening his eyes really wide at times was kind of repetitive for me. Other than that, he was fine as Wu Qing. In fact, he exuded the pureness aura although he had been through a lot. (And was I the only thinking it was ironic that he didn’t care for Chu Li Mo at first when she liked him yet later ended up liking her when she was already with Leng Xue? I meant it wasn’t like he was mean to her at the beginning since he was the only patience one willing to teach her stuffs and look out for her YET he didn’t really care past that. But later when he realized how much she helped him and didn’t mind him having Ru Yan in his heart and having a piece of his past with him, he began to see her in a different light. He was also struggling at times, seeing how Leng Xue and Li Mo got along, etc. Then he reminded himself Leng Xue was his good brother, he shouldn’t think that way.)
  • William Chan (陳偉霆) as Zhui Ming (追命). Hilarious and charming. I just didn’t like the hair they did for him. It made him look like some middle-aged woman. (Mean, I know, but it looked that way.) After getting past the hair (although still super hard), his character was really fun and lovable. Sure, he got into some randomness too and I didn’t even know why he liked the spoiled princess so much but then I reminded myself that feelings were feelings. Aside from that, he was really curious and had his own radar hence being to detect and solve cases, just like the others. What was funnier was how in the novel, he was supposed to be the oldest YET he looked so young in here. Still, because of his portrayal, he had become my second favorite Zhui Ming. (My ultimate favorite is Lu Xing Yu.)
  • Mao Zi Jun (茅子俊) as Qie Shou (鐵手). Um, not sure how to describe him because he didn’t seem to shine like the others. I meant when he was together with the other three, he was awesome with his moves and all too, but when he was alone, his story bored me. The childhood story was tragic and all. I totally felt for him. I meant the romance and others. I felt like they sort of toned down on his character or something. He did indeed had his own story but I felt like it leaned more toward romance than letting him show off his skills. He did have them, but it wasn’t shining as much as the others. Something was missing. I didn’t have a problem with the actor.
  • Howie Huang (黄文豪) as Zhu Ge Zheng Wo (诸葛正我). The guards’ boss. He was supposed to be super wise and all. He was their leader after all. But I think they sort of stretched some plots too much, especially later on hence making him not as sharp as he should be. Yet I enjoyed his role nevertheless. I will admit that I didn’t like the idea with him allowing Chu Li Mo to join the guards and then promoting her so quickly. I felt he was moving too fast with his decisions regarding that. I understood why he allowed Chu Li Mo to be by Leng Xue’s side so she could calm him down later. Yet too much attention on her had caused many troubles for her and the massive bullying and jealousy from the others. I felt it was better to just let her be by Leng Xue’s side and be invisible. Even if she was still being bullied by others, at least she wasn’t targeted for being a favorite of Zhu Ge’s. In a way, he was happy to have found his shi mei’s daughter and was trying to help her with her acquired abilities YET I thought that was enough with helping her train, no need to make her sticking out like a sore thorn to the others. (I liked her and all, but I just didn’t want more trouble for her from other parties, that was all.)
  • Mickey He (何晟铭) as An Shi Geng (安世耿). The image they gave him made me feel like he was a eunuch more than a prince, lol. Mean but yeah. Then later on, I realized he was dressed in that way and dancing because he was mimicking his deceased lover. His story was indeed tragic and I was actually rooting for him to overthrow the king, but I gave up on him when he destroyed Wu Qing and Ru Yan. Hey, he couldn’t see the connection between his and Wu Qing’s? What he did wasn’t any different than the king. Yet I guess he had gone nuts by then so he didn’t care about anyone but himself. He was already repressed with not being acknowledged by the royal family so I think losing Die Wu was the final straw. Aside from that, like Mickey He singing the sub theme.
  • Janine Chang (張鈞甯) as Chu Li Mo (楚离陌). I’m a Janine fan so she was the reason I had started watching in the first place. She was quite talented in here and indeed one of the reasons why she was chosen by her father to be placed on the list and then eventually sent to the palace for the king. When I say ‘talent’, I didn’t just mean her ability to read minds and communicated with animals as well, but I meant her various talents that was required of the female population back then. Then there was her intelligence as well. Her character didn’t disappoint at first, but the plot later on stretched so much that her character had lost ground. That made her less awesome in a sense, reducing her firm standing at times regarding matters. Okay, I know in a way, it seemed like she was being ungrateful and didn’t keep her words (or so some people would think) with Ji Yao Hua about staying away from Leng Xue after Ji Yao Hua saved her from that one serial rapist. (Which I don’t remember anymore if she had promised or not, or it was left unfinished for her to think about it.) Yet I liked how strong and persistence she was in not giving up on Leng Xue (aka not treating him like an object to be tossed back and forth between them) and how she said love couldn’t be treated in that way. (Forgot the exact word but it was the part where she was hesitating and saying if she should follow Ji Yao Hua’s request, etc.) What made me lost it somewhat was when she was captured near the end and begged Ji Yao Hua to let Leng Xue go and how she wished she hadn’t appeared in their lives or Ji Yao Hua and Leng Xue would’ve been together. She didn’t beg at first, but did cave in later. I do understand she was just trying to protect Leng Xue and redeemed herself (realizing how much she had hurt Ji Yao Hua and only wanted Ji Yao Hua to stop hurting others), BUT that had made it pathetic. Why did she need to beg? (I agreed with Leng Xue’s decisions more even if it had appeared cruel in a sense. Like he said, they’d known each other–he and Ji Yao Hua that was, so how could she disappoint him like that? He meant it on the level of not trusting him or the rest of the others at Shen Hou place.)
  • Jia Qing (贾青) as Ji Yao Hua (姬瑶花). Like I said in the other posts, I felt it was really off with her character and I tried super hard later on to ignore it, but it didn’t really work for me. Even when the story was getting quite long-winded and inconsistent at times and I no longer cared to pay attention anymore, I felt like they should just scrap her character altogether or something. Okay, okay, that was mean. Considering how Jia Qing had earned my support for her after watching these past few years. But like I said before (and quite annoyingly as some of you might realized) with how her character was actually associated with Wu Qing’s character in the novels and NOT Leng Xue so that was why I was just plain annoyed and didn’t care for her as much as I should be. After putting all those aside (temporarily), I think I did feel sorry for her. An Shi Geng really roped her in with destroying her path and making her go on the road of no return. But that didn’t mean that I side with her regarding the Leng Xue situation. Not because I shipped the main couple, but it was more like I never cared to pity the other character just because she liked the main lead and didn’t get her feelings returned. (It goes back to the whole thing with watching modern dramas and rolling my eyes when people think since someone did so much for so and so, the other person should end up with that someone. In short: prize-winning strategy.) The inconsistent with some parts of the plot made it harder to sympathize with her also, considering how one minute she was sooooo righteous and being a model person BUT the next minute she wanted to take the easy road (or played favorites with some people and didn’t care to catch this one girl cheating while doing the exam–even if she knew the difficulties and/or pressures the other girl had to endure YET there were other ways to help like train the girl well NOT tolerate cheating, etc). In a way, it was just that she was torn and it was one of the reasons why An Shi Geng used that to lure her to his side. Yet what got me scratching my head was how she seemed to let go of the whole trying to win Leng Xue over already and even told that one lady not to kill Chu Li Mo YET later she went all out and acted like Leng Xue abandoned her and called Chu Li Mo a whore? Really? I got the part where she lost her father so she was devastated and had no hope. Yet how did that change so fast? Was there a cut somewhere that I didn’t see? An Shi Geng tempted her with the pills and then the next time she appeared, she was already working for him. Were the pills responsible too? (Okay, okay, love doesn’t make sense and make people do crazy stuffs YET some of the stuffs made her character inconsistent so it was hard to sympathize or like her.) What got me even more pissed off at her was how she blamed Zhu Ge Zheng Wo for pushing her further and siding with Chu Li Mo. He treated her like his daughter and trusted her and shielded her from the other guys’ wrath yet she did that to him? Okay, some of the scenes she did not witness firsthand YET she admitted to An Shi Geng that Zhu Ge Zheng Wo treated her like a daughter so An Shi Geng didn’t need to worry about her being discovered, etc.  So yeah, some of these totally threw me off and I didn’t care anymore. Not to mention the whole wearing red outfits when she turned badass. Really? It’s soooo overused of recent. (And for the record, red outfits in association with badass characters had been used in the past as long as I could remember watching stuffs in the ’80s and ’90s so someone didn’t invent the trends recently SO don’t act like Jia Qing had copied her. I’m not being contradicting by making fun of the whole red outfits trends one moment and then turning around to defend Jia Qing in another. What I mean is I’m so sick of it being used over and over again of recent. I also want to clarify that it has been around as a symbol of badass characters WAY longer already.) Despite all the gaps and confusion, I still felt Jia Qing did a good job. It was just that the plot made me feel annoyed and was unable to look past the whole novel links. (Because as hard as it is to believe, I actually loosened up regarding novel links in some situations.) I think that if they hadn’t included the love triangle, I would’ve liked it more. There were already too many romances going on in here. It would make her character better if they just let her have her own story with her father and how she was tempted and maybe betray them too but later realized she was wrong. Or was that too bland for some people? And what irked me more was how she was the big boss in the novel yet was reduced to just some small follower of An Shi Geng. It was all right that they didn’t want to make her 100% villain, but seriously? Oh, another thing was, I think they sacrificed some of Qie Shou’s awesomeness and scenes was because they focused all the other conflicts and time on her. Yes, here I am picking on her character again. But seriously, I felt after all the series was called The Four, NOT Ji Yao Hua, so I have the right to protest, for Qie Shou’s sake.
  • Emma Wu (吳映潔) aka Gui Gui (鬼鬼) as Lang Yi Yi (凌依依). Although she was really lively and vibrant, I couldn’t even get into her character until almost at the end of the series. I didn’t even know why she was in here and I felt her character was really annoying. I will say Gui Gui was pretty and had a cute image in here, but it was the character that irked me. What irked me even more was how she kept getting into senseless arguments with Zhui Ming and wouldn’t leave him alone at times, nagging him about stuffs. I only liked her character when she was torn with leaving at times and feeling she didn’t match with Qie Shou. Then there were some scenes near the end where she helped take care of Zhui Ming when he was poisoned and turned into a kid. There was also the part where she convinced Princess Zi Luo not to chase after the guys anymore and let them go do their own things–without having to worry for the girls, etc.

Others:

  • Hao Ze Jia (郝泽嘉) as Nu Nu (奴奴). Leng Xue’s childhood friend–although she treated him like her master instead of on the same level later on when she met him again. She was loyal to her people and was quite stubborn at times. Yet in the end, she had chosen to protect Leng Xue. He declared her his sister later on and tried to protect her yet she was too impulsive to trust his words. It was understandable since their whole tribe was destroyed. Yet she had entrusted her faith in the wrong party and paid heavily. Regardless, it was tragic how things turned out.
  • Creese Li (黎一萱) as Die Wu (蝶舞) and Nan Gong Ru Yan (南宫如烟). Portraying two roles, but as Die Wu, we only learned of her through the eyes of An Shi Geng (via flashbacks). As Ru Yan, she appeared first in Wu Qing’s flashbacks and then later in the present time. Both of her characters attempted suicide, only one was successful. Not much was known of Die Wu, except for flashbacks throughout and An Shi Geng’s words, so there wasn’t much to go on. But her ending was seriously tragic. Ru Yan was seen gentle the majority of the time and seemed to be quite talented in Wu Qing’s flashbacks. An Shi Geng actually managed to rescue her and tried to turn her into Die Wu since she looked like Die Wu. She didn’t care to acknowledge him even after surviving. How could she when the only reason she had for living was death threats against her parents and the rest of her family? The time she was restricted, there wasn’t much development for her. (Obviously, I know, eye-rolling moment, right?) When she was finally rescued by the others and reunited with Wu Qing, I really liked her for her braveness and understanding nature. No wonder she captured Wu Qing’s heart.
  • Yang Ming Na (杨明娜) as Jiao Niang (娇娘). Elegant and graceful in her own way. She was also funny at times too. But she also had her wise moments. She often tried to help with solving conflicts–both among her siblings trying to fight for whatever reason (and the seriousness behind it all) and when she had to resolve the silly fights between the younger generation.
  • Wang Hai Yang (王海洋) as Yu Chun Tong (于春童). Traitor. Either when he was working as a constable or when he followed An Shi Geng, he betrayed them eventually. He was despicable and probably could be someone viewers hated without caring much. He got what he deserved and I didn’t care for him.
  • Jiang Yu Chen (姜雨辰) as Princess Zi Luo (紫罗公主). I found her irritatingly annoying at first. Not because she chased Leng Xue and ignored Zhui Ming in totality. I just found that she was soooo spoiled and hated her for causing so much trouble, wanting to go along and eventually got kidnapped and they had to rescue her and all. Yet later, I realized that at least she was honest with her goals and what she wanted. What was more, she didn’t want to pressure Leng Xue into marrying her with some deals. At first, I thought that was her and I felt like she had gone past beyond restored as a likable character. But her explanation later on and how she found out the real reason Leng Xue agreed to marry her, she severed their ties. It was also because she realized she didn’t like him the way she thought, but was just worshiping him because everyone dubbed him as a hero.
  • Wang Shuang (王双) as Mu Xue (慕雪). Mo Er Chi’s sister. At first, I liked her and how she got along so well with Chu Li Mo like they were sisters and made Li Mo felt like she could stay there. However, I seriously got annoyed with her in the later parts of the story when she kept nagging Wu Qing and tagging him. Yeah, I got it, she was worry for him and only wanted him to go on living, not dwelling on his past. However, she kept forcing him to acknowledge some stuffs that was annoying. Why make him forget his past? It was a part of him. Instead of letting him have his own space, she totally invaded it and forced him to acknowledge her existence. Perhaps that was the difference between her and Li Mo–with Li Mo wanting him to remember and not minding that he had such a past with Ru Yan versus how Mu Xue was even on the verge of jealousy with Ru Yan and even Li Mo later on. Also, she wanted to follow them that one time when they were chasing down An Shi Geng. It wasn’t like they were together so she wanted to tag along. She just wanted to be with him. He told her it was dangerous and all YET she didn’t listen. (I understand why Leng Xue wanted Li Mo to follow since he lost her one time already, not wanting to separate from her ever YET Wu Qing and Mo Xue weren’t together, how could she keep pestering him like that?) Ironically it was after her death that he acknowledged her and was depressed again. Even though it was clarified (or seemed to hint at the end) that he didn’t love her, just felt super guilty because she died saving him. (‘Cause he was seen holding Ru Yan’s old keepsakes again.)
  • Liu Xin (刘鑫) as Liu Chun Ping (刘春萍). Annoying and lame. I didn’t know why her scenes were there with her obsessing over Wu Qing and Leng Xue when they could use that to focus on other main events. Again, not targeting the actress but the character and how the writers had paved the plot.
  • Zhou Shao Dong (周绍栋) as Prince Xiang (襄王). He was just plain not bright. Got it that he wanted to protect An Shi Geng because of An’s tragedies of not being acknowledged by the royal family, but he was so easily tricked. Or perhaps that was why. But I didn’t think much of him. Glad that he didn’t become too much of the problem later on, realizing what was going on and how it would affect the majority of the citizens, etc.
  • Benny Qian (钱泳辰) as Yan Zhao (燕赵). One of the Four Evils.
  • Zhou Mu Yin (周牧茵) as Tang Chou (唐仇). One of the Four Evils.
  • Ma Wen Long (马文龙) as Tu Wan (屠晚). One of the Four Evils.
  • Cheng Cheng (程诚) as Zhao Hao (赵好). One of the Four Evils.
  • Marco Li (李耀景) as Wen Ru Yu (溫如玉). Another villain role and this one was minimal. He seemed to be very ruthless yet ended up being killed off by An Shi Geng, which wasn’t too much of a stretch but I guess kind of lame in a way.
  • Ma Kui (馬騤) as Wen Wu Chang (溫無常). Wen Ru Yu’s son.Wasn’t surprised he got offed by one of Wen Ru Yu’s disciple. He had it coming–with the other guy’s jealousy and all.
  • Hanson Ying (应昊茗) as Mo Er Chi (莫尔赤). Mo Xue’s brother. Didn’t care much for him although they did create some funny moments at first. I thought he was the comedian in here YET he ended up being one of the scariest beings in here, killing off his family so he could guarantee his thrown and eliminate all threats (even his father and little brother).
  • Liu Si Tong (刘思彤) as Bian Hong Yao (卞红药). Chu Li Mo’s mother. I thought she would never appear but will only be mentioned throughout. Yet she was a piece of the overall puzzle. It explained a lot of the tragedies in the past. But what was a stretch was how she was still alive after all these years of being frozen up. Okay, other factors in here were bending the word ‘exaggeration’ too, but this stuck out with me the most. Not that I wanted her to die, but it seemed too much of a stretch.
  • Yao Yue Li (岳跃利) as Chu Yan Liang (楚颜良). Chu Li Mo’s father. Weak and annoying. Didn’t think much of him. If it wasn’t for him, Chu Li Mo wouldn’t ended up being chased and targeted throughout. He had a choice to put his daughter in the list or not, but he chose to just so they could immersed in richness? I can’t remember if it was mandatory or not anymore, but I felt utterly annoyed with him for it.
  • He Jia Qia (何佳恰) as Ah Qi Nuo (阿绮娜).
  • Michelle Bai (白冰) as Nine-Tailed Fox (九尾狐). I actually felt sorry for her. She only wanted to save her husband yet paid with her life in the end. There were things she didn’t want to do, like how she actually imprisoned that one servant girl she tried to impersonate (not kill off) so it showed she wasn’t all bad. Like said before, she only taken a chance with saving her husband. Like many in here, she was deceived and used by An Shi Geng. Yet I sympathized with her the most. (Aside from Nu Nu that was.)
  • Han Dong (韩栋) as Zhang Sheng (张生). Nine-Tailed Fox’s husband. Interestingly funny to see Han Dong in here. Yes, this was before he had a popularity surge, but still funny to see him just a minor character. He delivered quite well–even with limited time.
  • Zhang Meng (张檬) as Hui Lan (蕙兰). One of the brides that got her husband stolen from her on the night of their wedding. What was even more tragic was how she got killed off because she was helping the others. Enjoyed her brief appearance.
  • Zheng Shuang (鄭爽) as Wen Bing Er (溫冰兒). OMG, I didn’t realize that was Zheng Shuang. She looked different from Legend of the Ancient Sword. Even though I watched Legend of the Ancient Sword after this but she looked so different so I didn’t make the connection until I check the cast list again to do this review. I really liked her character in here although she only appeared a bit. She was impressive and simple. I guess because I liked her green outfit and how she wasn’t in your face type of character. She was just there to help and contributed to the story.
  • Huang Ming (黄明) as Du Gong Zi (杜公子). The guy Princess Zi Luo used to rile Zhui Ming up when they were in disagreements.
  • Zong Feng Yan (宗峰岩) as Wu Hen Gong Zi (无痕公子). Serial Rapist. Wow, just wow. I didn’t know why they created his character and just plain kill him off right there. Like a mini case and showed how Ji Yao Hua wanted to just kill Chu Li Mo right there (and how she was torn, etc). But other than that, it seemed like just one of those side characters that could do without for the plot.
  • Wang Kui Rong (王奎荣) as Prince Zhu (朱王爺). Leng Xue’s adopted father. I seriously was convinced he was involved with killing all the people of Leng Xue’s tribe. I totally fell for it. Although, I know An Shi Geng couldn’t be trusted but Prince Zhu made it suspicious at times. It wasn’t until later when he was finally controlled and imprisoned that I was a bit more convinced he wasn’t at fault.

Friendships / Romances / Others:

  • The Four Guards as Good Brothers. Regardless of their attitude or randomness at times, they really lived up to being brothers. They were really loyal toward one another and would put that on top of anything else. Like that one time Zhui Ming insisting on saving Wu Qing, not chasing after the princess, etc. Even if he knew that they should save the princess first (because of the law of the land and how the royal family was important, etc). Then there was how they all supported one another throughout.
  • Hans/Leng Xue and Janine/Chu Li Mo. They were sooooo addicting to watch. To be honest (possibly brutality honest), they were the only couple I cared for in here from the start. It was just that they were more intriguing to watch for further developments. It was just that the others annoyed me at one point or another. Anyway, I was trying to see how they would finally stop fighting. It wasn’t like they were bad, but it was because they were clashing at times. I really liked how Leng Xue got out of his shell near the end. It was so cute. I also liked how she tried to find out what was wrong with him, not blindly believing that he had changed. She finally left him alone, but it was because he didn’t want to tell her, not because she hated him for abandoning her. Then later when Princess Zi Luo declared that he was free from the marriage deal, he chased after her and she made him yell the love declaration so loud, lol.
  • Howie Huang and Yang Ming Na. Collaborated once as husband and wife in the XAJH. Although there wasn’t much about them in here but I loved them together. They were the other couple that I liked. Even if they were an older couple and possibly many do not care for. But I enjoyed their moments. Somewhat cute yet still retained a sense of maturity, not trying to make them all mushy like the younger couples in here.
  • Yang Yang/Wu Qing and Ceese/Ru Yan. Seriously, their story was soooo tragic. They had their cute moments but I felt they were the most matured couple, having been through so much already. Too bad it had turned out that way for them.
  • William/Zhui Ming and Jiang Yu Chen/Zi Luo. Again, I didn’t care much for them at first, but did like his character a lot. Later on though, she was paying back major time for her past tortures of him. It was hilarious to watch and I felt they were so cute.
  • Mao Zi Jun/Qie Shou and Gui Gui/Yi Yi. Like I said many times before, I didn’t care much for them. Not until later when their stories got more complicated. The struggles between him trying to get her to stop the other thing was taking too much time as well. It wasn’t until Zhu Ge Zheng Wo stepped in and sorted it out for them that things moved along, lol. Zhu Ge knew all along and wanted them to resolve their own matters, but he didn’t realize they were that slow hence giving them some pointers. So after that, it went smoother and how nice it was to see her character evolved and his being able to focus on the main situation again. Sure, they could be cute, but I think their story needed to be worked out better.

Discussions and other rantings:

  • Was Chu Li Mo a third party? This was emphasized throughout the story. Well, it was more like from the girls following Ji Yao Hua. Their wild imagination was really on high during the beginning of the story. Even if ranking with Chu Li Mo’s real identity and how she was nowhere near the comparison of the backgrounds of both the princess and Ji Yao Hua, but that didn’t make it their advantage over Chu Li Mo. Considering how Leng Xue wasn’t into those stuffs. He was after all a prince himself. Yet he didn’t look down on others because of that ranking. He rated them on a different scale. Not to mention how he was much too serious the majority of the time. Hey, his nickname said it all. But back to the main question, was Chu Li Mo a third party in Leng Xue and Ji Yao Hua’s relationship? I seriously didn’t think Leng Xue and Ji Yao Hua had anything going on–even WAY before Chu Li Mo came into the picture. I meant sure, they were good comrades and had gotten along quite well over the years they’d known each other. Leng Xue sure was protective of her at times too, because of how her old wound had affected her health and all. But I think she was in the siblings zone already. If he had ever liked her, he already reacted. Because he was a straightforward type of person and he was quite possessive. (So not a good trait, lol.) BUT that was too obvious with him being sooo protective and possessive over Chu Li Mo in the later parts of the story. Even if others had decided that he and Ji Yao Hua were a couple in the past, it didn’t affect him. Some people might claim that not explaining might just equal to admitting. But he didn’t care to say those stuffs to everyone. If they wanted to assume, just assume. His most obvious reactions were directly toward Ji Yao Hua. So it wasn’t like he was leading her on or anything. He always treated her like a sister. That was it. And he did try to explain to Ji Yao Hua at one point, saying that he wanted to say it out a long time ago already YET she stopped him and said she understood. Of course, she only wanted to preserve some dignity and didn’t want to hear him say it out so thoroughly (which was understandable). Then in the later parts when he was poisoned, Leng Xue had emphasized many times that he didn’t want Yao Hua to keep taking care of him like that, because it was also torturing him that he couldn’t do anything for her in return. In a way, I felt he was taking care of her like a little sister and was protective of her since whenever because of that connection. It was like he only had her as a sibling for a while, then along came Chu Li Mo and he fell in love and wanted to focus on Li Mo AND then his sister was envious of the attention she no longer got so there it went. It felt that way to me. I’m not trying to convince anyone to ship Leng Xue/Li Mo. I just felt that Ji Yao Hua’s feelings toward Leng Xue were always one-sided so the whole whore-calling was soooo immature.
  • The ending. I think I declared it one of my favorites of recent series too early. Because the last ten episodes were excruciatingly painful to watch. Or was that the last fifteen? ‘Cause I swear some stuffs could be cut out. Like everyone had something to say at times. It was dragging out too much. I don’t mean discussions to solve cases, but if there were side situations, everyone had to say it. Or some side nagging with whatever the situation was. It was driving me insane. This, like recent series, was definitely character driven and not plot driven.
  • Hans Zhang vs. William Chan. Okay, some people were fighting because of how Zhang Han seemed to be in the limelight and William not so much. Or more like their characters. This series was filmed in the same year as Legend of the Ancient Sword. I read somewhere this one might have been filmed first. (NOT sure, I wasn’t paying attention to the other one at first, only followed this one at that time.) Around that time, Zhang Han was really popular (still is) and so he had many projects and more opportunities. William didn’t become SUPER popular until after Legend of the Ancient Sword was broadcasted. So stop fighting.
  • More cases, please. Seriously, I was intrigued at first, like really pulled in. But the cases sort of deteriorated and gave way for many cat fights and unnecessary side stories so that had lost my interest later on. Yet I tried to hold on for the main plot to see how it was going. Not to mention how some of An Shi Geng’s flashbacks were taking up too much time. It was getting quite repetitive. In fact, most of the flashbacks were driving me insane. It took too much time. Maybe if they cut some of those out and included more explanation for what they did later on, it would be better. Because they did have quite a few story arches that seemed like good ideas, but weren’t executed as nicely as should be.
  • The costumes and hairdos. Seriously, some were all right. But others got me yelling “What in the world?” at other times.
  • Fighting techniques. Seriously, these past years, I think I’m beginning to stop caring about them being lazy and taking the easy way out. But this is one of the rare ones that I could sort of make up some excuse for them. Mostly because Wen Rui An’s martial arts emphasize a lot on being able to manipulate inner energy and all. So I would say it wouldn’t be too much since he did exaggerate a lot in some fighting scenes and its descriptions. So I won’t pick on the production team for that.

Funny Moments:

  • The majority of Leng Xue and Chu Li Mo scenes. They were a riot to watch, clashing so much from the start yet developed into a much cuter relationship. Then one of the epic moments must be where Princess Zi Luo wanted Chu Li Mo’s room, because it was the one next to Leng Xue’s room. Leng Xue walked in on their conversation and asked what was wrong. After knowing the situation, he told Chu Li Mo to listen to the princess and let her have the room. Chu Li Mo asked where would she be sleeping. He told her in his room, LOL! That was a riot! Loved him for that! Not that he was going to do anything since he was a gentleman after all. But he wasn’t caring for those cat fights or BS, even from the princess.
  • Zhui Ming scenes. He was a riot all right. So dramatic and so playful. I totally enjoyed his crazy moments, even if it was outright sabotaging others when he was in disagreements with the princess. Maybe it was William. Not sure. But yeah, loved those moments of his.
  • Zhu Ming and Qie Shou scenes. They were seriously too funny together. I enjoyed those scenes even more than when they were with their significant others. They were a riot with being too nosy and trying to get into everyone’s business when they were at Jiao Niang’s place. Like when they interrogated Wu Qing and tried to find out what was going on, etc. Wu Qing bumped their heads together (literally) and told them that they were too nosy. LOL!

Recommended? I think you could watch for your favorites. ‘Cause I enjoyed it somewhat but the later episodes dragging on (as said many times in this review) totally got me disappointed. It was definitely killing the pace.

Liao Zhai 2014: Review

Story 1 – Judge Lu (陆判)

Probably the most anticipated for me because of Qiao Zhen Yu yet I felt disappointed in it. Not because of the other cast or anything. I surprisingly liked Alice Ko in here since she hasn’t really clicked for me in her past dramas. Then perhaps it was just the plot or strange characterization that made it hard to relate for me. In here, she was really cute and funny as Qi Ting and was cunning and creepy as Jing Lan. The same for Liu Dong, portraying two roles so seamlessly alongside Alice. However, the plot was just dragging on and on between the Zhu sisters fighting over Tao Yue Ming that it didn’t appeal to me as much. Well, Qi Ting wasn’t fighting with her sister, but it seemed to shuffle back and forth between the love story so I wasn’t as interested in it as I would have.

Story 2 – Heaven and Earth (乾坤)

Surprisingly good. I was having doubts of this pairing of Cecilia Han Xue and Chen Long. Yet their chemistry was quite good. I enjoyed their story more because the combinations of the battle in the demon realm and how the story eventually played out. What was funny was how my mom (who is a major fan of Norman Chui) thought that he was just in here for some side, unimportant character that needed to be rescued. However, when the twist came around, it was indeed quite chilling. It was a nice twist though. He had to be the big, bad guy. How could he just stand aside and play some small role, right? Nice. Bitter sweet ending, but it wasn’t too tragic. Well, it was when the ending was unknown. But once the last scene rolled around, it wasn’t too bad.

Story 3 – Heng Niang (恒娘)

The chemistry between Lin You Wei and Kimi Li was so cute. At least initially. Having done the translations for the plot summary, I had expected the inevitable. However, that didn’t stop me from enjoying their cute moments. How she hugged him when she finally arrived at the town. He was so happy and hugged her back. Then there was also the part where she tried to act all civilized and polite with the courtesy, so of course she didn’t eat as much. It was so funny watching her trying to find food and then finding food at last. I totally sympathize. How could anyone eat so little? The cutest part was how he placed a cup of water/tea on the table. It showed that the person whom prepared the special midnight dinner for her was him. So she hugged him, so touched. Only he would understand her. It was really cute and nice. He told her not to hold back since it was her house after all, so she could eat all that she wanted. Indeed, so cute. It was hard to see how he could betray her later on. Yet when the scenes finally came around regarding the betrayal, I realized that it wasn’t what was let on in the summary. There were many factors to think about. So in the end, I sort of forgive them for the mess. I felt that after all that was said and done, Heng Niang and Tian Fu belonged together.

Poor James Wen, once again had to play the bad guy. Yet I think for this type of short story, it was all right. He didn’t disappoint. After all, they needed to cut Lin You Wei some slacks, considering how he had to play some not so likable characters in the past. It was about time he stepped out of the shadow, right? Somewhat dramatic but was entertaining enough with a mixture of fantasies and all. Not to mention how they got past the ‘time travel’ thing! LOL! If only it was that obvious to cut out, right? Nicely done.

Story 4 – Lian Suo (连琐)

Hilarious. At least at first. Because of how Royce Wong’s character, Yang Yu Wei, was so freaked out by the ghost haunting his new house. It was insane. He tried everything but it didn’t work. He tried to reassure his brother that he was fine, but of course, he was far from fine. The story was quite intriguing at various points, with both sweetness and bitterness. Plus other very terrifying aspects, once again visiting the theme of people sometimes are scarier than ghosts/demons.

Story 5 – Ye Sheng (叶生)

Sad, so sad. But it wasn’t too frustrating. Okay, it was in a way since there was a little more time before the ending yet the main guy died. But I think it wasn’t for nothing. The prince grew up still remembering him and still referred to him as his father. Talking about that, I especially like the relationship between Medic Ye and the young prince as father and son.

There were twists and turns about the plot and the unexpected thing led others to realize sometimes things weren’t what they were seen. Even if you think you got the story straight. A very touching story on many levels.

Story 6 – Kingdom of Female Demons (夜叉国)

*Can’t find it, will go back later since I am quite intrigued by this story after translating the summary.

Story 7 – The Flower Spirit (花姑子)

*Might go back later. (If I can find it.)

Story 8 – Maiden In Green (绿衣女)

Interestingly my favorite story among all. I was just curious how Bianca would fend and how the story would be. I also have doubts about her pairing up with Calvin Li. Yet they were awesome. I loved them from the start. Their story was touching and quite real. I meant aside from the whole fantasy elements, lol. I know, sounds ironic. But their relationship with living in the mountains and taking care of his mom as a family was quite nice. Then the other elements made it quite tragic. What was nice about it was how the Taoist wasn’t such an uptight, not knowing the gray areas–like some other stories in the past had led on. He was quite cool and knew that there were actually good demons as well, not just outright lumping them all together. At least, it was when he realized what was going on after the initial disagreement. What was a bit ironic about the situation was how she was the demon at the beginning of the story yet in the end, he was the demon. How could they work it out? Well, I guess they waited for so long, they would find a way to get past that obstacle as well. Not to mention how they needed her father’s approval too.

So conclusion? I think it’s clear that story #8 is my ultimate favorite. Then story # 2, #5, #4, #3, and #1–in that order. It’s because I haven’t watched the other two yet so I couldn’t place them. But will go back for those later and possibly change my answer. Anyway, I would’ve placed #3 higher but I think because of some repeated stuffs, I want to switch it out. Although #4 was quite frustrating at some points too, but I think the overall sort of made it worthwhile. Even if it was really tragic. Number #3, only found Lin You Wei and Kimi Li cute. Although the story with the fox demons was intriguing but also frustrating so I didn’t care for it as much. And I already explained why #1 is so low on the list.