Thoughts? It was good enough.
- Nicholas Tse as Hu Yan Da Zang. I really liked the character Da Zang. He seemed to be cold-blooded and ruthless through his actions at the beginning of the series. However, he was the most honest among all the others stating his motives from the start. He wasn’t like some other pretentious heroic figures in here. Acting-wise, I think Nic did a great job. Even if he wasn’t the best out there, I think that he passed for this series. I’m not much of a Nicholas Tse fan but for some reason, I feel that he was robbed in this series. Honestly, the majority of the cast had more screen time than him and Gillian. That was just too strange. Yes, there were scenes of him when he first appeared and all, but after that, it seemed to be less and less of him appearing somewhat in the middle and then near the end.
- Gillian Chung as Zhu Er. As I mentioned before, I usually like the strong and skillful female characters more than the weaklings, but I really liked the character Zhu Er in here. She was very innocent and lively at the beginning of the story. Then she accidentally discovered her father’s secret and her life became so much more complicated. She suffered a lot and was forced to mature at such a young age. Gillian was a bit rusty at the beginning with her character transition but she picked it up as the series progressed and really made up for the rest of the series. Her portrayal of Zhu Er made me feel sorry for her yet it wasn’t forced or overdone at all. Zhu Er had gone through so much but she became so much stronger later on. (There were various schemes where she was overly worried for Da Zang but that was understandable. She wasn’t whiny at all so I really admired her for that.)
- Patrick Tam as Zi Yi Hou/ Hou Feng. Although he wasn’t the most perfect character in here, he was a very interesting character. It was actually the mixture of good and bad that made his character more real than any heroic figure in the other stories. He knew he’d done wrong in the past and knew that he would have to face it one day. He didn’t hide from his past. There were delays in it, but because of other more crucial matters that they needed to take care of before that. Do I still question Patrick’s acting? No. He was good as always. He was very convincing with how he portrayed his character.
- Zhou Li as Bai Yan Zhu. Although I have mixed feelings for her throughout the series, I must admit that I liked the complexity of her character also as an overall. She was stubborn and persistent in what she did the majority of the time but she did have compassion for the people around her. She could be rash or ruthless at times, but she still knew her limits. She wasn’t a perfect mother but she did whatever she could to protect her sons. No complaints about Zhou Li’s acting either.
- Qiao Zhen Yu as Fang Bao Yu. I might not like Bao Yu at various points of the story, but I do like his character as an overall. It was great to know that he did eventually learn the skills to protect himself and matured along with the experiences he acquired from there on out. I think that Qiao Zhen Yu’s acting was really good since he managed to make me hate him at various points of the story for being so annoying and also to pity him because of all the burdens landing on his shoulders near the end.
- The other characters. Interestingly, the majority of the bad guys in here somehow realized their wrong near the end and tried to make up for past failures. It somewhat highlighted the idea of forgiveness. Moreover, it reminded us that a person won’t just continue down a path forever. They could turn back like in the cases of Bai San Kong and Wang Dian. Whether they deserved to be forgiven or not was debatable but it wasn’t clear cut like that with “black” and “white”, but there were gray areas as well.
- The friendship/ brotherhood between Da Zang and Bao Yu. Yes, they’d been enemies for the majority of the series because of revenge and conflicts of interest. (And possibly love rivals at one point as well.) But I liked it that they had this unsaid appreciation for each other as friends during the last few episodes of the series. It showed their great companionship while investigating and attempting to save Ben Yue. It shed some light and paved the way for them to become friends first before dropping the big news on them that they were brothers. The last scene where they finally fought side-by-side as brothers and Bao Yu actually said that he knew that Da Zang won’t abandon him in the final battle was nicely done since they’d reached an understanding of one another–both as friends and brothers. (I actually enjoyed the scenes where they were competing to see who could carry more water, etc. It was quite hilarious to watch.)
- The ongoing struggle between Mu Lang Shen Jun and Princess Tuo Chen. I know that there were great conflicts going on between the two after Princess Tuo Chen found out about Mu Lang’s true self, but dragging it on for the rest of the series made it so lame and unnecessary. Yes, there was a deep love between them that was hard for either one to let go but emphasizing it the first several times was fine. After that once too many times was just unbearable.
- The misunderstandings between Bao Yu and Ben Yue. I know it was really important and I got why Ben Yue couldn’t forgive Bao Yu for it but the dragged-out element of it made the story so slow.
- Hairdos and costumes. It was strange how they did the hairstyle for Zhu Er/ Gillian near the end of the series. It was just too weird. And I think the only person who could pull off the one earring piece is Ady An in Chinese Paladin. (They should’ve at least made the earring smaller for Annie because it looked really disturbing more than creating a stylish effect.) Another complaint was the hat piece that they did for Gillian at the beginning of the story was too modernized–not to mention the outfit. Lucky she wasn’t wearing that anymore later on. However, the hat got transferred to Annie’s character or something. It wasn’t as strange but I thought it was still too modernized.
The first two factors above were actually the major reasons why Da Zang and Zhu Er had less shared screen time. It was like they were so robbed as a couple because of other side stories. I actually enjoyed watching Zi Yi Hou and Bai Yan Zhu more than those other two couples.
- Da Zang and Zhu Er (Nic and Gillian). They were my favorite couple in this series (of course) because of how they were brought together and how they learned to appreciate each other’s company. It could be said as the typical hero with the weakling–as I like to put it. But it wasn’t typical at all in how they met and wasn’t as fond of each other at first because of how weird Da Zang seemed to Zhu Er. However, she was a smart and considerate person, not to mention observant too so she came to understand him more. He also learned to loosen up with her around. They were randomly tossed together because of a misunderstanding but clanged onto each other later for support throughout the series. They actually complement each other really well.
- Hou Feng and Bai Yan Zhu (Patrick and Zhou Li). If it was being broken down and analyzed more closely, it was very messed up with them. However, I think that it would be safe to say that she actually loved him–even if it was 20 years late. She was touched by what he’d done for her–always helping her and waiting for her, etc. (After all, she was forced to marry Bao Yu’s father in the first place and never really loved him since she was still thinking of Da Zang’s father the whole time.) It was really complex for them to clearly say who was really right or wrong. It was really subtle at the very end whether they ended up together or not–probably did. But it was acceptable in the sense that they still maintained their companionship.
- Bao Yu and Ben Yue (Qiao Zhen Yu and Yang Rui). They were not my favorite couple at all but I actually liked how they grew and matured–eventually as they went through obstacles. However, I have to say that it got annoying at times, more Bao Yu’s fault near the end of the series with how he couldn’t make up his mind who to be with, etc. Yes, it was trying to show his responsibility for Zhu Er as a friend but it got annoying because he apparently said that he cared for Zhu Er more than that during that one time that Ben Yue walked in on them. So how in the world should Ben Yue react? Anyway, they were all right together since I don’t think I could find my favorite pairing for QZY yet.
- Mu Lang and Tuo Chen (ZHF and Annie). It was funny that I actually liked how their friendship was developed at the beginning of the series. Their companionship eventually turned into love, etc with their understanding of one another. Maybe it was because of their deep feelings for each other that actually lead to such a tragic ending. As I mentioned before, they were the other reason why Da Zang and Zhu Er got less screen time near the end. It got really repetitive and annoying. But maybe it was how they kept stressing how much they loved each other and couldn’t live without each other that paved the way for the outcome, which was totally unexpected. He never saw it coming. Character-wise, not bad at all as a couple. Off-screen, freaky. Maybe it was because he looked older than his actual age so it made her look younger than him (plus the amount of makeup used on her).
It was a decent series overall. (The ‘good’ comment at the beginning was my personal opinion but to compare with other series, it was considered decent.) It wasn’t one of the best series ever made, but compared to TVB ancient series, I say this was one of the better ones nowadays. (Somehow I can’t feel the mood for the ones by TVB anymore. It’s just too cheesy and forced.) This one was more daring yet didn’t seem fake by making it tragic but that was just how things turned out to be. (TVB tries too hard to teach us lessons that it tends to get cheesy with their ancient series nowadays. ATV makes better ones but they rarely make ’em anymore.)
Posted (on Xanga): February 23, 2009
Re-posted: Thursday, April 22nd, 2010