meganbmoore: (shyzm: san niang)
 I'm too lazy to properly cross post it, but I did a picspams with commentary of the "Mulan joins the army" episode of The Legend of Hua Mulan here.
meganbmoore: (paladins: yan yu/mo le: pre-angstplosion)
Today I watched the first 4 episodes of the 2013 series The Legend of Hua Mulan with Huo Meng Yao and Dylan Kuo, and I think it's pretty great so far. No crossdressing yet, just epic embroidery battles, magnolia-related treason plots, people almost getting executed because of the magnolia-related treason plot, devious embroidery sabotage plots, lady friends and rivals and frenemies, Mulan being very strong willed and her future boyfriend engaging in awkward attempts at flirting while investigating the magnolia-related treason plot.

Here are the opening and ending credits:

meganbmoore: (paladins: yan yu/mo le: pre-angstplosion)
 During the Wuxia as Fantasy Tradition panel at WisCon, I was asked for a post detailing where you can get wuxia series and novels in English, so here it is.

First off, the legal ways:

You can buy an ebook of Jin Yong's Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain* or a print copy of The Book and the Sword.

Netflix also has a decent collection of wuxia series on DVD, but not streaming:

Eagle Shooting Heroes (the 2008 version of Legend of the Condor Heroes)
Condor Hero (the 2006 version of Return of the Condor Heroes**)
Wing Chun***   ****
Spirit of the Sword
Sword Stained With Royal Blood
Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain
Seven Swordsmen
Handsome Siblings
Patriotic Knights***
Bi Chun Mu: Dance With Sword***
Men and Legends

You can also get most of the 2004 version of Laughing in the Wind***, but it was released in 4 sets, and Netflix only has the first three.

Netflix also has two fantasy series that are based on (the first based on an RPG, the second on Chinese mythology) that I've watched.  Both are in a historical setting, but not actually wuxia.:

The Sword and the Fairy
Lotus Lantern

I'm sure there are a few that I missed.  If so, hopefully someone will comment and I can add them.  

There are also a few streaming at, but I didn't check for what titles.

Now for the less-than-legal-but-it's-not-like-we-have-other-English-Language-options:

You can find e-book formatted fantranslations of some books here (it also has translation status for some other books).  This messageboard is much more extensive, and has links to a few books hosted elsewhere, but you'll have to either copy and paste the text to a word document and convert it to your preferred ebook format, or read from the web.

For TV series, there's this youtube channel that has a decent number of series, and two torrent sites that you can get some from.  d-addicts is open (link is filtered to the main group that does fansubs, but you can also find more by searching for country +subtitled language) but AsiaTorrents is members only, and you can only join by invitation.  I do have a few invites right now.  I believe also has a few streaming, but the site has never worked well for me.

*I'm not sure if this is all the books that make up the Flying Fox series, or just the first.  The TV series I mentioned later, though, does adapt the full series, albeit very loosely.
**While ROCH is a sequel to LOCH-The protagonist of ROCH is the son of an antagonist from LOCH and initially the ward of the protagonists of LOCH, who have supporting roles in ROCH-you don't have to watch LOCH before ROCH.  This version of ROCH is also what the naked kung fu practice clip we watched is from.  TBH, I recommend this series as a good series to start with for wuxia dramas, even though it isn't my favorite.
***I have not seen these series.
****This is not about Wing Chun, the woman who founded the martial arts style named for her, but about male practitioners some time later.

ETA:  Should you go exploring my tags, a number of the posts were made before I was aware of various kinds of Fail, and also before I really understood a number of the themes of wuxia, so you'll likely find things that I wouldn't say now, if not wouldn't outright disagree with.
meganbmoore: (loch: rong + nianci)
from [personal profile] snarp Favorite relatively-short wuxia series with female protagonist(s)?

This is, sadly, an easy one to answer.

To my knowledge, there aren't any. Most wuxia series are between 30-40 episodes, sometimes longer, less often a bit shorter. In addition, almost every wuxia series has a male lead, though most that I've seen have had numerous female characters with several as major characters. The only wuxia I know of with a female lead is Legend of the White-Haired Demoness (aka The Bride With White Hair), though I don't know of any TV series based on it that are completely subtitled in English. (I believe the one from a couple years ago is partly subtitled on vikii, but vikii has never worked well for me.)

There are some non-wuxia historical biodramas and melodramas with female leads, but I've only found most of them on vikii, and various adaptations of The Strange Tales of Liao Zhai seem to mostly pick stories that are either heavy on women, or can be reworked to be so.
As far as wuxia series go, most of the ones I really like tend to be based on either Jin Jong or Liang Yusheng novels.  Some good starters are probably the 2006 Return of the Condor Heroes (there's a new one coming out, but it sounds awful), the 2008 Paladins in Troubled Times, and the 2007 Sword Stained With Royal Blood. (These are all Zhang Ji Zhong productions, which was not deliberate, but does mean that there are good fight scenes, largely good costuming choices, and lots of hair fluttering in the wind while indoors.)  There's also the 2008 version of Legend of the Condor Heroes, though it's almost 50 episodes long, and it's half an awesome series with the BEST HEROINE EVER (and a really cute romance), and half annoying manpain with a dude I found thoroughly uninteresting and a heroine I reallyreally wanted to go to the other half of the series, and find a less emotionally abusive and unstable boyfriend.  This one isn't a Zhang Ji Zhong production, though I've heard good things about his version from the early 2000s, but I haven't seen it yet.

All that said: there are a few people who will probably read this who have watched more wuxia than I, and may have suggestions.

meganbmoore: (shyzm: san niang)
[personal profile] yifu  asked "If you could pick an all-ladies crime-fighting team from wuxia canon, who would the members be?"

Here is my (probably totally predictable) lineup:

Huang Rong- Legend of the Condor Heroes & Return of the Condor Heroes
Lian Ni Shang-Legend of the White Haired Demoness/The Bride With White Hair
Yan San Niang-Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei
Wang Yan Yu & Xia Ling Shuang-Paladins in Troubled Times

I guess this could be said to be a Leverage-esque wuxia ladies crimefighting team, given that almost all of them have at least some criminal element in their past. Actually, there's a thief, a criminal mastermind, and a mountain bandit mixed in there, plus Huang Rong, whose youthful impulses weren't always on the upstanding side.

Huang Rong would be more in the Return of the Condor Heroes era, where she's pretty much the top dog in the martial arts world, and the rest are her super-elite crimefighting team. Except Ni Shang doesn't always bother showing up for missions (and when she does, she sometimes ends up leaving important people hanging upside down from trees and such) but she sends a dozen or so of her personal army of warrior maids to help out when she isn't in the mood. Yan Yu is the field leader, but Ling Shuang is the one who always deals with local authorities because Yan Yu makes them antsy. (They know her plots are effective, but she has plotted the destructions of martial arts sects and local governments, and made invasions fail before, and that can make people nervous.) Though sometimes the authorities get annoyed when their wives don't realize Ling Shuang is a girl at first at start ogling the hot young man.* San Niang isn't allowed to deal with local authorities because they annoy her so she steals from them, but she's the best infiltrator/scout ever.

*Ling Shuang is pretty much wuxia!Oscar in this regard.

I've only had a few takers, so there are still plenty of slots left if anyone else wants to leave a prompt.
meganbmoore: (nightwatch)

What are you currently reading
Legend of the White-Haired Demoness by Liang Yusheng, ch 12-13: After a couple chapters of not much happening, it went back to so much happening in a chapter that it'd probably take 10 episodes of a TV series to cover just that.

brief spoilers )

7 Seeds Vol 2 by Yumi Tamara. Plot is taking off, will give the series its own post once I've read more of it.

brief character design commentary with Basara spoiler ).

What did you recently finish reading?

Susan Elia MacNeal's His Majesty's Hope which I posted on separately.

Saga Vol 1-2 (or issues 1-12) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. SciFi epic in which a soldier falls in love with a prisoner whose race has been at war with hers for centuries (a war that has since pretty much taken over the universe) and they runaway together, only to have both their races put out contracts on them when it's learned they have a child. Which sounds like a fairly standard plotline, and I suppose it is, but it doesn't feel like it while reading. The story is told from the POV of their daughter, Hazel, and begins with her birth, and there are some interesting gender-reversals not only with her parents, but with supporting characters as well, and the "forbidden lovers," Alanna and Marco, are charming and adorable and functional even with literally the entire galazy hunting them. The worldbuilding (err, universebuilding, I guess) is also very complex and thought out, and while I could have done without one particular character design (if you've read it, you know exactly which one I'm referring to) most character designs are interesting and inventive. (I'm especially fond of the royals who have television monitors for heads. BECAUSE THESE ARE FORMALLY DRESSED ROYALS WHO HAVE TELEVISION MONITORS FOR HEADS.) Also, a romance novel is a revolutionary, life changing treatise. bless you, BKV. My only complaint so far is a scene in which a female character uses a sexual slur to insult another woman, and that a lot of the language and nudity feels to me like it falls into the category of being there to be "edgy."

What do you think you'll read next?

More 7 Seeds, Autobiography of A Geisha by Sayo Masuda.
meganbmoore: (10k: downtime with obsessions)
What are you currently reading
Legend of the White-Haired Demoness by Liang Yusheng, ch 9-11

comments )

What did you recently finish reading?

Lost in Translation by Margaret Ball. Hilarious 90s portal fantasy in which a liberal arts student is forced to go to university in France AGAINST HER WILL by her father and accidentally ends up in fantasyland at a university of magic. She decides it's a quaint rustic town where everyone REALLY REALLY likes D&D and is in constant RenFaire mode, and takes about half the book to realize that she isn't in Kansas anymore. she also latches on to the evil mage who brought her to fantasyland so that he could sacrifice her sole, and promptly both projects her daddy issues onto him and decides he's the Best Teacher Ever. Said evil mage then starts having awfully conflicted feelings about the sacrifice thing. Not because of trivial things like morals, but because it's like a kitten staring up at you going "Pet me, pet me! Will it be easier to to pet me if I claw my way up your robes and sit on your shoulder?" Funniest portal fantasy to not be a parody EVER. I first heard about the book through [personal profile] skygiants 's great writeup here.

Adaptation by Malinda Lo. YA SFF with multiple queer and POC (with overlap) characters. Reese and her debate partner, David, are away at a meet when hundred's of birds throw themselves at planes in flocks, causing multiple planes to crash and the airlines to be grounded. Driving home in a rental car, another bird throws itself at their car, causing a wreck that leaves both teens in a coma for almost a month. When Reese returns home, she finds that her body seems to be changing, and thinks someone is following her. She also meets a beautiful and mysterious girl, Amber, and discovers that the birdpocalypse is still an ongoing Thing. Romance, conspiracy theories, genetic experimentation and whatnot ensue. This is possibly the only minstream published fiction i've read in which people sit down and discuss how "queer" is used in modern culture, the negative connotations associated with it and the reclamation of the word. I'm not sure where it's going to go in the sequel, but it was rather grand.

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood. YA fantasy set in an AU 19th century England in which the premise seems to be that witches are real and the Inquisition never ended, and the Inquisitors, now called "Brothers" now rule. Witches are no longer burned at the stake, but are instead sent to sanitariums, and when they come of age young women are forced to either marry or join the "Sisters," supposedly allies of the Brothers. If young women do not make their choice in a timely manner ,the Brothers will choose for them. The main character, Cate, is the oldest of three sisters, all witches, who will have to make her own choice soon, and discovers that her mother, also a witch, may have kept secrets about her and her sisters from them that could change their lives. The world building and mythology are pretty complex, but barely touched on in the first book, and the plot, IMO, very interesting, and I very much liked the focus on Cate and her sisters. There's a lesbian subplot that doesn't actually get a lot of attention in the first book, but that I suspect will play a much larger role later on. On the downside, it's first person present tense, which is my mortal narrative enemy, and it took me a while to stop being distract by how much I hate first person present tense.

What do you think you'll read next?

Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal, the Taken by Vicki Petterson, or a nonfiction book about an ambulance corps in WWII whose title and author I forget just now.
meganbmoore: (miss fisher: phryne/jack: hats)
I'm having to go in to work at 6 am this week and next week, as opposed to my normal 8 am, which is not really conductive to the brain handling things much more complex than pretty pictures save for brief periods of adrenaline, so I'm not sure how much reading I'll get done in the next week or so. I should take the opportunity to read manga, but I want to start 7 Seeds and start catching up with Skip-Beat and don't want to be reading those when not well rested.

What are you currently reading?

Legend of the White-Haired Demoness by Liang Yusheng, ch 5-6. Still love this book.

spoilers )

What did you recently finish reading?

Unnatural Habits by Kerry Greenwood. The latest (in the US, at least) Phryne Fisher book, in which young girls go missing and a serial...attacker is running around, making sure rapists can no longer procreate, and Phryne acquires another minion. Also evil nuns, but thankfully good nuns too. (The evil nuns were rather jarring, having just read one of Jennifer Worth's memoirs.) In general, grand fun. I've rewatched the entire first season of the TV series, not to mention several extra viewings of the pilot (look, you have to suffer when shoving your fandoms at people, ok?) since reading the first 15 or so books in the series, so while I hadn't forgotten, it was a bit jarring to be reminded of the orientalism in the books. (Not that the show is perfect in that regard, but it does try to improve that aspect.) I remain of the opinion that everyone needs Phryne Fisher in their lives, though.

What do you think you'll read next?
Jennifer worth's 3rd midwife book, as it's an ILL and due back next Tuesday.

and sundry

Jun. 17th, 2013 04:56 pm
meganbmoore: (arang: boat)
1. Thanks to the wonders of kindle and the internet, I've acquired a decent selection of wuxia novels to try out (a couple of these aren't actually wuxia, but I'm including them anyway):

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 7

What should be my first wuxia novel?

View Answers

Legend of the White-Haired Demoness
3 (42.9%)

Legend of the Condor Heroes
0 (0.0%)

Return of the Condor Heroes
0 (0.0%)

A Deadly Secret
0 (0.0%)

Ode to Gallantry
0 (0.0%)

Romance of the Three Kingdoms
1 (14.3%)

The Book & The Sword
0 (0.0%)

Journey to the West
3 (42.9%)

The Legendary Siblings
0 (0.0%)

(My personal inclinations are Legend of the White-Haired Demoness and Legend of the Condor Heroes, but I bow to the advice of people who have actually read wuxia novels before.)

If you know of a wuxia novel that's available in English (either through licensed translations or fan translations with working links) that you'd think I'd like but don't have listed, please feel free to rec them.

2.I'm very behind on kdramas and do terribly at trying to watch airing dramas (when I try to, I manage to stay roughly on top of things until around episode 10, and then I flake and wait until it's done. Since I don't even do a good job of keeping up with shows I can watch as soon as they air and son't have to wait for subtitles for, this shouldn't surprise anyone) but I think I'm going to try to follow Sword and Flower as it airs. It's about a princess who sets out to get revenge on the military dictator who killed her father and then inconveniently falls in love with his son. Not sure how long it's is, but hopefully they'll keep it in the 16-20 episode range, as I think that's about as far as they could stretch that premise. trailer:

3. This isn't brand new news, but The Bletchley Circle has been picked up for a second season. Based on wikipedia, it'll be 4 episodes and they're adding Hattie Morahan to the main cast though hopefully not at the expense of the existing female leads.) Also, new episodes of Poirot and Marple have aired in the UK, though I haven't watched them yet.

4. I am very behind on TV in general and not doing a good job of applying myself when when it comes to fixing that (and am managing to fall even further behind despite several of the shows being on hiatus) but I have now watched all of the first 3 seasons on Community and Pretty Little Liars and have almost finished season 2 of The Good Wife, and while I'm overwhelmed at the idea of trying to write up my thoughts on them, please feel free to ask for my thoughts on anything up to those points. (Aside: only ask about paintball in Community if you want squealing and handflapping, and I don't recommend asking about Toby or Ezra in Pretty Little Liars if you like hearing positive things about them.) I've also almost finished Fox Volant of Snowy Mountain, and it's pretty solid and I've been enjoying it well enough, but it's not overly engaging and I have no strong thoughts or feelings on it or most of the characters.

5. So, I haven't watched The Fall and don't really intend to, but I am curious about opinions of those who have on this article (unsurprisingly by a dude) which argues that The Fall is feminist, effectively, for not glorifying the serial killer who kills women and for having the female lead tell him he's nothing but a pathetic misogynist. Mind you, this is my reading from the article, and you and I may watch it and come out with VERY readings, but apparently, the bare basics of awareness is what we aspire to now? The article:

Note: I didn't look at them just now in bringing up the link, but based on what was there this morning I do not recommend reading the comments, as they were very faily and triggery and several commenters were trying to make the focus all about violence against men. (Which I do think theere's issues with violence against men in the media and how it's "ok" for women to hit men because they're physically weaker, as seems to be Hollywood's reasoning, but I don't think that comes anywhere close to the media's issues with violence against women, or the portrayal of women's corpses in many things.)
meganbmoore: (the sorcerer and the white snake)
 1.  Links to English translations of Jin Yong's wuxia novels, including amazon links where applicable, and mobi downloads.  WARNING:  Clicking on other authors' pages might just make you sad that you can't read, say The Bride With White Hair, and other such novels.

2. Snakes and snake gods/goddesses/etc. in East and west Asian mythology.  Includes a brief summary of how the" White Snake" legend has evolved over the centuries.

3.  NBC put out a "Women of Revolution" trailer focusing on Charlie, Nora and Rachel.  A lot of it is stuff from previous episodes, but there's also a bit of new footage:

I need to remember not to go anywhere near the main LJ comm when the episode with one of the new scenes airs.

4.  This appears to be a self-published author's self-congratulatory attempt at career suicide.  (Warning for a lot of woman-hating language, and jokes about hitting women.) 

5.  The middle post in this tumblr exchange is a hilarious diatribe about how Elementary fandom is unfairly mean to Sherlock fandom.  Now, I generally find "look at my fandom/character/etc, now look at yours, now look at mine again, SEE HOW MINE IS SO INHERENTLY SUPERIOR?" posts to be obnoxious in general, and the one that started the exchange is no exception.  But really, claiming that Elementary fandom is mean to the Sherlock fandom is a bit much.  Sherlock fen were accusing anyone even thinking about watching Elementary of being homophobic, of betraying ACD's vision, of having no taste, etc., before Elementary was even FILMING, and it hasn't stopped.  (Most Sherlock fen I know like both shows, and I don't see why people who only watch one can't just ignore the other.  I generally find it very easy to do.)  My favorite part of the post is about how Sherlock fandom obviously has redeeming value because it has over 20k more fic at AO3.  Of course it does.  It's a hugely popular slash fandom that's been around for years, while Elementary is still airing its first season.

6. Yesterday, I watched Colombiana, a movie that was simultaneously made just for me, and not as good as I was expecting.  I have no idea how it slipped under my radar.  Trailer:

Part of me couldn't help comparing it to Revolution, as both have the main character being sent on a long journey by their dying father to find the super-dangerous uncle they've never met.  Not that the two have anything else in comon at all.

meganbmoore: (the sorcerer and the white snake)
The Four: The latest adaptation of Wen Rulan's "The Four Great Constables" series, and a pretty enjoyable but not really amazing wuxia that involves zombies, ladyspies, teamy antics, cute puppies, superpowers, squads of ladyspies, lots of political and spy shenanigans and investigations, and Liu Yi Fei killing people with her brain. There's also a romantic triangle that works pretty well, despite the fact that I'm not entirely certain why anyone was interested in anyone else aside from their all being quite nice examples of their respective sexes. It's the first part of a trilogy and it very much watches like one, though it stands up pretty well on its own.

Geisha Assassin: Exactly what it says in the title, save that there's virtually no geisha bits after the first 7 minutes, aside from Our Heroine's father saying that no daughter of his will be a geisha, and a couple of her opponents getting huffy about fighting a geisha. Our Heroine is on a quest to avenge her father, and his killer throws a bunch of opponents in her path. That's pretty much the entirety of the plot. There are flashbacks to Our Heroine's childhood that attempt to have a plot by explaining why her father died. but those pretty much just made me go "Dude, why didn't you just say that from the start?" Nothing memorable, but an entertaining way to spend 80 minutes if you like vengeful heroines and fight scenes.

The Messengers: Spooky and atmospheric movie in which a family takes over a derelict farm, and the 3-year-old son, Ben, and 16-year-old daughter, Jess, start seeing ghosts. Creepy ghosts that crawl on the walls and and keep trying to drag Jess into the basement. There's nothing in it that hasn't been in at least one other horror movie, but it was all put together pretty well and it got the tension and the spooks right. There is, though, a lot of NO BABY DON'T FOLLOW THE HAUNTED TOY TRACTOR DOWN THE HALL NO!! throughout, though, just for the extra bit of stress.

The Moth Diaries: A wonderfully atmospheric (and beautifully filmed) gothic movie with lesbian subtext (and the bit of text) out the wazoo, starring Sarah Bolger, Lily Cole, and Sarah Gadon. Still recovering from her father's suicide, a teenager named Becca (Bolger) returns to her boarding school and her best friend, Lucy (Gadon) and becomes suspicious when Lucy appears to be all but hypnotized by a mysterious new student, Ernessa (Cole), shunning all of her own friends and taking up "Ernessa says..." as her refrain. While studying Sebastian le Fanu's Carmilla in class, Becca becomes obsessed with the idea that Ernessa might be a vampire who is seducing and controlling Lucy. I liked it a lot, especially (in addition to all the focus on female relationships) since it focused on older vampire myths and kinda almost ignored the fact that Dracula exists. (Not that I want to slam it or anything, but it's nice when things don't assume that it has to be your basis for vampire stories.)

Painted Skin: The Resurrection: A sequel set 500 years after the first movie. The fox demon, Xiao Wei, is freed from centuries of imprisonment and sets out to find the reincarnation of her human lover so that she can steal hearts and become human. This time around, Zhao Wei is playing a scarred warrior princess and Chen Kun is the general she's in love with (and who appears to think his emo over feeling responsible for her scars is way more important than anything she might happen to think or feel on the matter), and Xiao Wei persuades the princess to trade her heart for Xiao Wei's skin. The writers seem to realize that Zhao Wei and Zhou Xun have far more chemistry than Chen Kun is able to muster with anyone (One day, I will watch a movie with that dude and he will not be the most boring thing ever in it. This was not that movie. Moving on.) and they have tons of scenes together and the writers appear to forget that they're supposed to be romantic rivals, and that the movie isn't supposed to be a supernatural lesbian romance. There's also a subplot with a demon hunter and a bird demon, played by Feng Shao Feng and Yang Mi respectively, that's rather adorable. (Though, are there any stories out there where the male demon falls for a human, or do only female demons do that?) There are some odd bits with consent and outer beauty themes, but over all I liked it a lot, and, frankly, the movie was so pretty that I sometimes forgot there was a plot involved.

Taichi Zero/Taichi Hero: A rather odd yet entertaining steampunk-kung fu duology that should be watched together. A young man named Lu Chen is born with a "demon horn" that makes him a natural kung fu prodigy, and which gives him superhuman powers when the horn is damaged. When it starts to endanger his life, he travels to a distant village to learn Chen-style kung fu, which baqlances Yin and Yang and can save his life. Except that the Chen family doesn't allow anyone outside the immediate family to learn the style, and a distant cousin of the family wants to destroy the village to make room for a railway. Flashbacks and backstories are largely shown as silent movies, fights have video game life meters, circles highlight key points in moves, and there's a display of opponents Lu Chen has to face. There are also captions that frequently show up for a variety of things (most important characters get a captain saying who the actor is, sometimes with a well-known work, or their athletic/martial arts cred, and at one point a character blurts out a confession of love and the person on the receiving end sees a multiple choice question regarding possible motives) , and then steampunk elements such as tanks, clockwork suits that mimic kung fu superpowers, and flying machines. It's very funny (sometimes in an awkward way) and has good fightscenes, not to mention cameos of as many people as they could possibly cram in. I'm not sure I always followed it, but I enjoyed it. That said, it violates all the laws of what is just and right by having Eddie Peng play a character who is first a jerk, and later straight up villainous, and that is just something that my brain cannot process.

Wu Dang: Set in the 19-teens, several treasure hunters converge on a martial arts tournament and use it for cover while they search for the seven treasures of Wu Dang. One, an archeology professor played by Vincent Zhao, wants the treasures so he can cure his daughter of the same terminal illness that killed his wife, and another, a martial artist played by Yang Mi, only wants one of the treasures, a sword that belongs to her family. Naturally, they team up and have bickering adventures. It's a pretty straightforward adventure ovies with lots of good fights, and I give it lots of points for letting Yang Mi and the daughter's characters have bonding moments, and that Vincent Zhao's character (and the movie itself) didn't think an illness that would kill her somewhere doen the road didn't mean his daughter couldn't have an active life, or that it stopped her from being a perfectly competent and capable person, and let her participate in the tournament. I was worried for a bit that I was going to have to retroactively hate it for the ending, but then it saved itself literally at the last minute. BTW, one day, I will have to think about why I only find Vincent Zhao attractive when he has short hair, when I'm normally a longhair appreciating girl. (Also, I want Yang Mi's wardrobe from this movie. And the ability to pull it off.)
meganbmoore: (paladins: yan yu/mo le: pre-angstplosion)
The Spirit of the Sword is a 2007 wuxia series based (very very loosely, I understand) on a Gu Long novel, focusing on two brothers-Dazang and Baoyu-who don't know the other exists. Dazang grew up in Japan and has come to China to fulfill his foster father's mission of finding a set of legendary swords, and prefers cutting people down to talking. (Not actually kidding here.) Baoyu was raised by his maternal grandfather, who overcompensated for being an uberdouche who destroyed his daughter's life and was largely responsible for her attempting suicide right after Baoyu was born by being overprotective and refusing to let Baoyu learn any martial arts, though Baoyu manages to learn a few on the side. Meanwhile, their mother, Yanzhu, actually survived jumping off a cliff and was rescued by the leader of an "evil" sect (in this series, "evil" seems to mean "not part of the self-important group of middleaged male martial artists who like to talk about their importance") who she now masquerades as. As you can imagine, there's a lot of "Stop trying to kill your brother/mother/son/daughter/grandfather!" going on in this series.

Dazang takes up travelling (aka "accidentally makes her an accessory to a couple murders and quasi-kidnaps her and then she hangs around until she can try to find a way to prove she didn't help him kill people") with Pearl, Baoyu's childhood friend. Pearl's paternal grandmother is a part of the same "Evil" sect as Yanzhu, and he compensates for this by also being an uberdouche who destroys his daughter's life. (As you can tell, paternal fathers are horrible in this series. Mother's are complicated and sympathetic, and adopted fathers manage to do a pretty good job with diffucult kids.) Meanwhile Baoyu travels to meet his father's friend, Zi Yi Hou (who was a very annoying Nice Guy who contributed to Yanzhu's depression, but apparently learned his lesson because he was quite excellent once he'd matured a bit) and along the way he hooks up with Yi Hou's daughter, Benyue. There's also an enemy princess, Touchen, who is on a mission that gets quickly forgotten about because she and her adventuring companion, Mulang, get caught up in everything else going on.

It's a very very "wuxia" wuxia, complete with poisonings, curses, amnesia, people returning from the dead, every romantic pairing (there are 4 main romantic pairings, and I surprisingly liked all of them, though one went bad in every possible way, even if it made sense) counting as "enemies as lovers" at some point in time, long lost family members, betrayals, etc etc etc. It has every kind of angst it can think of (Yet, midway through, someone apparently thought there wasn't enough melodrama and added a very annoying plotpoint that added nothing good and kind of took over for a while. Thankfully, the series recovered, but you'll know what I'm talking about when you see it if you watch the series.) to the point where I honestly wondered if anyone was gonig to make it out alive. It actually has a pretty high major character survival rate, with most of the survivors as happy as can be realistically expected. Largely there's nothing particularly original about it (only Yanzhu's portrayal stands out to me, because she was consistently portrayed as sympathetic-but not pitiful-and as having a legitimate POV of her own, in a role that would normally have ended with her realizing the error of her ways and repenting just in time to die tragically, not end happily-all things considered, she probably has the most positve ending of the characters), but it was fun and I'd watch it again (with liberal ff-ing through middle-aged men talking about how important they are).

Here's a video of the credits:

The series has been licensed in the US by TaiSeng, and is available on DVD with English subtitles through Netflix.
meganbmoore: (da:dots)
Only one of which I actually watched in the last month, I think.

The Fall: So, the next time I watch a movie with really bright colors, exceptionally creative costumes, random extreme crack and it's extremely enjoyable at first glance then increasingly iffy the more you think about it, I'm just going to assume it's a Tarsem Singh movie. (I mean, I'll be wrong most of the time if I do that, but I'm at 3-for-3 there with his movies, so...) I recall this being pretty big in my circles when it was new and kept meaning to watch it and then forgetting. Despite almost yelling "STOP TRAUMATIZING THE CHILD!" every few minutes (often in conjunction with "Who makes up this kind of story for a 5-year-old anyway?") and going "WTF?" at about 3/4 the developments in Roy's story (often followed by "" and maybe "Dude, why are you a stuntman? G write books.") I enjoyed this, though I'm not sure how much I'll like a rewatch. Also, the little girl who played Alexandria was possibly the most adorable and realistic kid to ever appear in a Hollywood movie.

Ip Man & Ip Man 2: These movies are basically about 3 1/2 hours of Donnie Yen walking around in a state of kung fu nirvana. Ip Man (or Yip Man) was Bruce Lee's mentor an largely responsible for the spread an popularity of Wing Chun. The movies are well cast an acted (Except: China, why o you keep casting Huang Xiao Ming as a hotheaded teen? The dude's in his mid-30s. Actually, maybe late-30s now. Not that he isn't good and all, but...), but the main raw is the martial arts displays, which are stunning. The first movie is excellent an stands well on its own. The secon is largely a worthy followup an also a good movie, but suffers from a case of trying to outdo it's predecessor, losing some of what made the first work in the process. (In particular, Ip Man's martial arts and personal life aren't as well balanced, and the fight senes rely a bit more of effects and flash, and not quite as much on skill.) The movies are highly redcommended for martial arts fans.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Pretty obviously an attempt to keep the franchise going before people stop caring and move on, it's largely fun but the characters I was most interested in are gone? (Off being pirate kings and dead/undead.) I think I finished the third movie ready to watch Jack and Barbossa chase each other around the Caribbean for a few hours then had reconsidered that within a couple weeks. But it was fun and I liked Anjelica (Though wasn't big on how her plot ended-hopefully she torments Jack a lot in the next movie. Odd courtship rituals those 2 have. Also, wasn't she supposed to have a pretty noticable scar?) an kin of want to applaud whoever decided that the world needed and angsty forbidden romance between a priest and a mermaid. (Sam Claflin is trying to be in all the epics isn't he?)

Red Cliff: (The almost 5 hour version, not the heavily edited US release.) I had tried watching this a while back but was turned off by the fact that the only woman in the first half hour threw herself doen a well about 5 minutes after the opening credits ended. (I'd been told there were 2 major female characters who were excellent and believed what I was told, but lacked the patience to wait for them.) The movie is pretty good and I can actually see it being longer before I can see it being shorter. The battle scenes were some of the best I've seen in a movie yet were actually among the less interesting parts, and the scheming and strategizing and spying were actually more interesting, and the cast was generally excellent. (I don't think Lin Chi-Ling had quite the screen presence needed for Xiao Qiao, but more from inexperience than lack of ability. I actually can't help but think the role was written for Fan Bing Bing, or someone like her.) One of these days, I'll get aroun to reaing The Romance of Three Kingdoms or watching the recent series based on it, but the inevitable long stretches with no women in sight on't help with motivation.

The Runaways: Indie movie about Joan Jett and Cherie Currie when they were members of the rock band "The Runaways." Pretty good, though, though a bit heavy on the bad language and drug use for me. (Not a criticism, as it's pretty accurate to my understanding, and what I went in expecting.) I thought it did a particularly good job with it's portrayal of the music scene and rise and fall of musicians at the time, and especially thought Kristen Stewart did a good job with the androgynous screen presence.

Taken: Largely fun and fastpaced though sometimes iffy action movie that has Cuck levels of casting geekery. As in, Shannon from Lost is the daughter of Ra's Al Ghul and Jean Grey, her stepfather is Percy from Nikita, and her best friend is the original Ruby (and only one i saw) from Supernatural. I was somewhat in awe of the casting. Inescapable comparisons to Missing, which came along several years later, but I suspect helped enhnce my "Well, actually, modern human slavery isn't just something that happens to rich white American girls foolish enough to tell the first person that they meet that they're all alone in an unfamiliar city..."

Underworld: Awakening: A somewhat bad movie that is fabulous because it has lots of Kate Beckinsale in pleather, shooting things and badass little girls and fun tropes with a side of women bonding (often over corpses they just created). I mean, If you didn't watch the first 2 (the 3rd is a separate matter) for Kate Beckinsale in pleather, shooting things, I'm not sure what you got out of it. (Mind you, if you take out the first 6 minutes of flashbacks and infodumping and the last 10 minutes of credits, you have about 75 minutes of a plot that's pretty much Selene Doing Violent Stuff with stuff to justify it.) Also, Dyson from Lost Girl is there as a scary evil werewolf. I figure his agent heard they were looking for a scary werewolf prone to ripping off his clothes and sent some footage over. Inevitable sequel, please do not be set 10~ years later and pair Eve and David.

The Warring States: A 2011 movie set in China's "Warring States" era, focusing on Sun Bin and his role in the conflict between the Qi and Wei kingdoms. A bit hit and miss in places but overall enjoyable for most of the movie. I think I preferred the first half, which was largely taken up by Sun Bin's attempts to court a rather violent and temperamental enemy commander, (First scene: She leads an army into battle. Second scene: She executes captured enemy soldiers. Third scene: Her army has been infiltrated and she singlehandedly takes down a few dozen enemy soldiers on foot. Most of the courtship consists of her attacking him anytime the awkward courting results in the stirring of icky feelings.) but the second half had major highlights too, particularly everything involving and leading up to a jailbreak. The costumes, fight/battle scenes and acting were all good, but nothing incredibly original. Worth watching, but warning for a long period of torture towards the middle.

Yeh Vaada Rada: Wonderfully cheesy and cracky 80s Bollywood mmovie about an unsuitable young singer who is disfigured in a car accident, after which her (rich heir to a corporation) boyfriend is told she's dead and proceeds to grow and emo beard and spend months mooning over a 5 foot tall snapshot of her. And then she returns with a new face after plastic surgery but thinks he's moved on. The first part was kind of meh but entertaining, but from the plastic surgery onward it was a blast. I am especially fond of the cheesy sound effects, especialy the OMG SUSPENSEFUL horror movie music that played in her operations and whenever someone saw her after the accident.
meganbmoore: (dw: i made that)
Michelle Yeoh is an assassin and spy who works for an eunich. Tony Leung and Donnie Yen play her juniors/flunkies. Donnie Yen has a long-time thing for Michelle Yeoh and is an alcoholic with a bad habit of spying on her in the bath. At one point, he draws a picture of her and then makes out with it before the ink dries. Somehow, he manages to not come across as a creepy stalker. Michelle Yeoh, though, only has eyes for Tony Leung, who only has eyes for Joey Wong, who is the daughter of a martial arts master but hates the martial arts world. Why this is isn't explained, so I just assumed that her father was one of those masters who gets all obsessive about honor and duty and rants about betrayal and disobedience all the time and tries to marry her off to random weird guys. Possibly, she forgot to put her shoes away one day and he kicked her out. Stranger things have happened in wuxia. (Look, if you don't give me an explanation for what seems to be an important but odd bit of characterization, I have to make it up.)

Jimmy Lin also shows up for about 5 minutes. Like Andy Lau, he looks like he's aged about 5 years in the last 20. Those two really need to share their secret. There's also fake deaths, exploding heads, long-lost-sisters-who-may-or-may-not-be-deep-cover-spies, and Michelle Yeoh mistaking Tony Leung for an arrow.

I actually saw this one years ago when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero were newly big with US audiences, so the packaging was all "Look! Michelle Yeoh x Donnie Yen!" I actually think I remember it having a few more scenes, including a different ending that I didn't like. As it is, the ending is very abrupt and feels like they cut it off midway through a scene. I remembered enjoying it but being annoyed with how Michelle Yeoh and Joey Wong's characters centered around Tony Leung, and how they would undermine each other to him and their interactions were basically pretending not to fight over him. My memories were pretty much correct. Fun, but needed more of the political/spies plot, and either less of the romantic plot or to do the romantic plot in a way where I'd care.
meganbmoore: (flz: mue: tired)
This is a 2000 movie based on part of Gu Long's Lu Xiaofeng series of novels. I'm not sure I've seen anything else based on his works. (Most wuxia I've seen that's based on novels has been based on Jin Yong or Liang Yushen.)

Lu Xiaofeng, a detective, is ostensibly the lead, but the plot centers around the two greatest most super duper awesome and elusive swordsmen around, played by Andy Lau and Ekin Cheng. Lu Xiaofeng is actually less interesting than the rest? But he works as a central figure to tie it all together. There are also murders and mysterious plots circling around the duel. Andy Lau sports a fabulous black and white wig and proves that he will always come across as noble and heroic, even when he's the bad guy. Ekin Cheng just kinda fights and stares angstily. Mostly at Christy Yang, who he also cooks for. Ekin Cheng actually does all this quite well. The movie also gave me Zhao Wei/Andy Lau, for which I am quite grateful. (Now if someone would just do Fan Bing Bing/Andy Lau without killing her in the first 15 minutes.)

The movie is clearly condensing a lot of stuff into a short timeframe, but it doesn't end up cluttered or confusing or "this is a mess but just go with it look-here's-Brigitte-Lin-taking-over-an-evil-sect-do-you-really-care-about-plot?" like a lot of these movies. (I think the development of the Ekin Cheng/Christy Yang plot suffered the most, based on what was here, but it still worked. In contrast, the parts with Andy Lau and Zhao Wei, together or separate, were probably the best parts.) It also manages to have a lighthearted approach despite having a pretty Serious Business plot, and has one of the few good and intelligent and competent emperors I've seen in wuxia.

There have apparently been several series adaptations of the Lu Xiaofeng series, including a 2006 one with Liu Shi Shi and Peter Ho in supporting roles, but a quick search doesn't turn any of them up online or licensed. That makes me sad, as a lot of the supporting characters seem really interesting (including Ekin Cheng's, even if I can't help but make fun of him because most of his acting here is angsty and stoic staring), even if I wasn't as into the main character. Though it does look like I could watch a couple other movies based on this particular storyline.
meganbmoore: (mm: dark wendy)
(This is the 1993 movie, not the 1977 one, which i haven't seen.)

This is the movie in which Wong Fei Hong is played by a young girl. Just typing that makes me want an actual genderswitched Wong Fei Hong.

This was actually one of the first kung fu movies I ever saw. And I thought I had my own DVD of it, but apparently not.

This is basically a Chinese Robin Hood movie about a doctor in 19th century China who lives in a corrupt district with a greedy governor, and so he robs from the rich to give to the poor. As you do. His version of Marian (named Orchid) is an ex-prostitute who is now his nurse and goes out robbing with him from time to time. In the middle of all that pre-adolescent Wong Fei Hong and his daddy (a ridiculously young looking Donnie Yen-the hair actually removes years, I think) wander into town and Wong Fei Hong is basically taken hostage by the governor to force Daddy Wong to hunt down Iron Monkey. Naturally, both Wongs end up bonding with both Iron Monkey and Orchid. There may have been kung fu-assisted cooking involved.

The fight scenes are probably the best part of the movie (especially the last fight, which takes place entirely on top of wooden posts being eaten away by a big fire below) but the whole thing is pretty fun. (I'm saying that a lot with these movies, but I'm not exactly bothering to watch any I'm not pretty sure I'll like, or expending the energy to comment on anything I don't like.)
meganbmoore: (shyzm: red)

Remake of the Tsui Hark movie with Joey Wong and Leslie Cheung. (The movie is actually dedicated to Cheung.)

Good: Very pretty, pretty well written and acted. Not as fun as the original,but still fun. Liu Yi Fei does much better in the Joey Wong role than expected. (Not meant to slight LYF, who I like, but her typical role is grounded and solemn and serious and gearing up for Epic Angsty Doom, and Siu Sin is the seductive vixen-she ended up somewhere between LYF's typical character type and the Joey Wong version.) Bonus of interesting and more openminded demonhunter in training, and a fantabulous bit where a one-armed older demon hunter makes his shirt explode so that his magic tattoos can be flung at a demon using his chi.


Bad: Takes its drama a bit too seriously at times. Also, there was more with men/demonhunters and less with demon ladies flitting around and luring lustful men to their doom.

I'm not quite sure what the writers were thinking with this bit:

Spoiler for plot aspect revealed in opening but that differs significantly from the original. )

Theory that the moviemakers might have gotten a wee bit confused about what Tsui Hark movie they were remaking reinforced by head demon lady's hair suddenly turning white, and becoming about 10 times as long and prehensile. Apparently also has doomed previous love with one-armed demon hunter.

ETA: Only somewhat related: RightStuf currently has TaiSeng DVDs 33% off. (TaiSeng being a division of YesAsia that releases Hong Kong and mainland China movies and Mainland TV series.)
meganbmoore: (borgias: totally no incest)

Moon Warriors is a 90s Hong Kong movie that is considerably less cracky than most of the other 80s and 90s Hong Kong movies I've been watching.

In it, Andy Lau plays a fisherman who also happens to be a kung fu expert. How a fisherman who has apparently never or at least rarely left his small village or had much contact with other fighters is never explained. After all, the only use he can find for his kung fu skills is impressive methods of bamboo cutting. He also has a pet whale. This is a significant plot point. He likes to ride his pet whale and but on acrobatic displays they learned from Shammoo, set to rousing wuxia music.

Yes, I did say it was less cracky than the others. Really, that's the main source of crack. unless you count the villain introducing himself by punishing failure with decapitation by bowstring.

Anyway, the kung fu fisherman is off practicing his kung fu bamboo cutting skills when he goes to help a dude in a fight. Turns out the dude is actually the rightful king, on the run from his evil brother. Since the most trustworthy person in wuxia is always the guy you met five minutes ago, the king asks the kungfu fisherman to go fetch his fiancee (Anita Mui) from the neighboring kingdom before evil brother's assassins get her. Naturally, the princess and the kungfu fisherman fall in forbidden love on their roadtrip. They romantically bond over bunnies in a field of flowers, and engaged is some gender-trope reversal by having her carry him on her back through the forest after he's wounded.

Naturally, the king's beautiful advisor (Maggie Cheung) is actually a spy-and-soon-to-be-assassin for the evil brother. Naturally, she's also in love with the king. (Thankfully, this is not a movie in which a seemingly intelligent person has absolute and inexplicable loyalty to an evil person/organization that makes you scratch your head and go "but WHY do you stay loyal and keep doing things?" until the very end.)

I didn't particularly care for the end or think it was the necessary ending for the plot, but this was a pretty good movie otherwise.
meganbmoore: (paladins: yan yu/mo le: pre-angstplosion)

Little Dragon Maiden is a 1983 Shaw Brothers film (I think this may be my first Shaw Brothers film? Actually, I'm sure I've seen one that I didn't recognize as such, but I'd have to check) adapting Return of the Condor Heroes. From the title, I thought it would focus more on Xiao Long Nu, but she's barely even in the first third.

I haven't really thought much of ROCH since I watched the Liu Yi Fei version a few years ago (mostly when it comes up in conversation, which admittedly isn't too infrequent), but I think ROCH is pretty well suited to being made into a movie-the romantic plotline actually is pretty much the main plotline, unlike most wuxi, so when you condense it, there's less to have to explain about sects and politics and allegiances. (I think this also makes it a good intro wuxia-you get the general feel and typical aesthetics and format without also having a dozen plotlines to follow and figure out why everyone belongs to a secret sect.) Just the boy who is the son of a villain who falls in love with his kungfu master, who looks like a pretty 16-year-old forever and ever. And they live in a tomb. And she sleeps on a string and makes him sleep on a...burial platform? Or something. That is green and glows.

But you're basically left with naked kungfu (Yes, they have to practice kungfu naked and outdoors. It helps with the flow of energy, or so they say. If you ever wanted to see babyfaced Leslie Cheung in his underwear, this is the movie to watch.) and various poisonings (actually, most of those were cut from the movie) and death pacts and "OMG NO THAT LOVE IS FORBIDDEN AND KINDA SICK ACCORDING TO OUR RULES!" and chasing each other all over China every time there's a misunderstanding. And then add in a side of "Wait, my father was evil? And my foster family who disapproves of my forbidden romance but who are the most epic and awesome heroes ever may have been responsible?"

I am sad to report, though, that there's no loss of limbs or 16 years separation in a valley whose mists cure poisons. Nor is anyone carried down a river in a coffin. Not even a newborn.
meganbmoore: (when princesses grow fangs)

This trilogy has one of the more impressive goes at regularly trying to outdo itself regarding crossdressing and gender confusion that I've come across.

We start of with your standard case of a girl dressing like a boy to run around having adventures with her male friend. In the next movie, we add a male sorcerer who uses sorcery and castration to basically gain superpowers, and then he turns into a she, and then she becomes the latest crush of the I-am-totally-straight-no-really-my-brain-will-break-if-you-make-me-question-my-sexuality hero. In the next movie, the sorcerer's ex-girlfriend is now living as a man (specifically, impersonating the then-presumed-dead sorcerer), and her concubine is a crossdressing ninja.

(Tsui Hark: Once dedicated to squashing your ideas of the gender binary with the aid of Brigitte Lin.)

There's also a lot of people being run through by s couple dozen threads, the ability to create snakes out of nowhere, and a character who literally sucks the life out of people, causing them to wither and shrink. Sometimes, this one makes heads accidentally come off.

There's also drinking. A whole whole lot of drinking.

The first two movies in the trilogy are based on Jin Jong's The Smiling Proud Wanderer/Laughing in the Wind/Xiao Au Long Nu. The third is tied to the book and first two movies only by being featuring one of the villains as the lead.

The first movie is pretty standard wuxia: guy and his master's crossdressing daughter who is in love with him are off on a mission, get caught up in a feud, then uncover secrets and betrayal. The second movie picks up a year later and starts throwing all the crack at you. Most of the leads get recast, and the main character went from someone I liked to someone I wanted to shake and then make go away most of the movie. (Now played by Jet Li, which made disliking him weird because I'm used to liking Jet Li characters.) Brigitte Lin shows up as the sorcerer with the magic sex change (That was a literal statement, not an attempt at cleverness.) and unsurprisingly steals the whole show. That one is mostly worth watching for the cast and so that you have a clue what's going on in the third movie. The romantic plotline is a bit irritating by ok in the first movie, but downright aggravating in the second. And, apparently, the complete opposite of the original story, where the romance sounds enjoyable and the main guy like someone I would like considerably more.

Then we get to the third movie, where the kung fu world is in an uproar and darned foreigners are invading. (My subs for this one were kind of bad, which saved me from noticing as many bad stereotypes as I might have otherwise.) Everyone is running around trying to be Brigitte Lin so they can take over, but there is only one Brigitte Lin, though Joey Wong fools quite a few. More secrets! More conspiracies! More betrayals! Brigitte Lin and/or Joey Wong in almost every scene! And much much much pretty. At some point in there, Brigitte Lin rides either a shark or a dolphin 20 feet above the water. I forget which it was.


meganbmoore: (Default)

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