meganbmoore: (Default)
For the interested, Netflix just added the cdramas King’s War (more commonly known as The Legend of Chu and Han) and Qin Empire Alliance (Which I THINK is the first of a now 3-part collection of series about the Qin Empire, but I’m not 100% certain-King’s War was easier to figure out because it has Peter Ho, whose series are easy to find descriptions of).


I don’t know who else pays attention to Netflix foreign acquisitions, but I do and it’s been...interesting. They’ve had a ton of Mexican telenovelas for ages and they used to have a lot of major network kdramas, a well as a lot of Taiwanese and Chinese dramas, but those dwindled down to almost nothing a while back. Then I think around the middle of last year, they started adding a lot of Turkish and Indian series-I’ve added some of these to my queue, but all I’ve watched so far is the first 11 episodes of Razia Sultan*, which I really like, but am stretching out as far as I can because there’s a lot more episodes that they haven’t added yet- and they started slowly replenishing their Korean and Chinese series selection, though they’re sadly light on historical and fantasy Chinese dramas, and the only sageuk they had is Tamra, which I’ve never managed to finish the first episode of. The last few weeks, though, they’ve been pretty much flooding the new additions with Chinese and Korean dramas. The Korean dramas are mostly cable network shows, particularly franchises-I Need Romance, Reply and Let’s Eat- and they’ve been pretty steadily adding Naver webseries for a while, so they probably did bulk purchasing from a couple of production companies, though they've also been purchasing exclusive international licensing for several series in recent months. The cdramas appear to be more random and a lot of them are ones I’ve never heard of, but I’m assuming there was similar bulk purchasing involved there. There have been some historical cdramas in the mix, but aside from the 2 I mentioned at the beginning and Ice Fantasy, they’ve been set in the 30s and 40s, and those tend to end up fairly heavy with the political propaganda.


There haven’t been too many series that I want to see added on the cdrama or kdrama front during this recent spurt, but I’m hoping this means more shows that I want to see will be added eventually, especially some of the recent cdramas that neither Viki nor DramaFever got.


*I should mention that there’s a truly cringeworthy quest arc at the beginning that I probably only got through because I’ve encountered far worse in anime and some cdramas, and the villains are sadly cartoonishly one note, but otherwise, it’s quite enjoyable.
meganbmoore: (paladins: yan yu/mo le: pre-angstplosion)

January 23 - talk to me about cdramas you think I'd like! (daughtersofthedragon @ tumblr)


Unless I’m misremembering, you’ve already watched some or all of Love020, all of The Princess Weiyoung, and some of The Legend of Hua Mulan, or I’d rec those. These aren’t necessarily the absolute best cdramas ever, but they’re accessible (both in terms of content and ease in finding with English subtitles), dramas I liked, and have good actors and characters and no bad writing/terrible endings.

this one got long )

meganbmoore: (flz: demon tricks)
For the interested, the airing Chinese fantasy/romance drama Eternal Love, aka Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms is available on Kindle as To the Sky Kingdom by Qi Tang. It’s free for Prime members. Don’t know how much it is otherwise.

Dramafever trailer (spoilery, because cdrama trailers and credits always spoil a lot of stuff):



I haven't started the book or the drama yet, but I've heard good feedback on the first few episodes of the drama.
meganbmoore: (paladins: yan yu/mo le: pre-angstplosion)
To make up for the bad news a while back with viki deleting fanchannels, DramaFever has licensed The Princess Weiyoung, and Viki licensed The Legend of Chusen, which was half-way subbed when the fanchannels were taken down. (Hopefully the same subbers will come back, but given how some people were acting towards them in the comments section, I wouldn’t blame them for not coming back.)

Here's the trailer for Princess Weiyoung:

meganbmoore: (paladins: yan yu/mo le: pre-angstplosion)
If you follow me on tumblr, then you know I fell into something like a bottomless pit of cdramas over the last few weeks, bingewatching 2 completed series in a very short period of time, and then starting 4 airing dramas this week.

Series I completely watched:

Green Hill Fox Legend is a fantasy series from earlier this year that is the latest anthology series based on Strange Tales From a Chinese Studio. Unlike others that I've watched, these stories are all connected by having the leads of each story be part of the same large fox clan, with an ongoing plot of a thief stealing the magic fruit the goddess Nuwa tasked them with guarding. Most of the stories really would have benefitted from being at least half an episode shorter, but I enjoyed all nut one of them. The was "Ying Ning", in which the show was embarassingly aware that they were romantically pairing a 15 year old actress with an actor at least 10 years older than her and pretending they were the same age, nd in which the heroine chooses to leave all the people who love her to care for her unrepentant abuser. Another story, which was really fun, had the end cut off because it apparently had canon gay, which made the network panic. Aside from those bits, though, it was a goof fantasy series, though not one of the best.

Detective Tang Lang is the other one I bingewatched. It's a mystery/action series from 2010 set in 1920s Shanghai featuring Wallace Huo as a somewhat odd private detective who keeps getting tangled up with a lawyer named Hung Cue, played by Chang Meng. She has a signature red leather coat, does Sherlock-style cold reads of people, and has a Secret And Mysterious Past. About 2/3 through the series, the show forgets that Tang Lang is the main character and it becomes all about Huang Cue's Secret And Mysterious Past and the fallout in the present, with Tang Lang largely serving as her glorified bodyguard. There isn't much that's particularly original about it, but I enjoyed it a lot.

Then there's the airing dramas. The main culprit here is Ice Fantasy the much-hyped, big budget epic fantasy series that's actually on both viki and dramafever. It's a fairly straightforward "two kingdoms at war" series in which the immortal gods of the Fire and Ice Clans (with humans stuck in between) ended their war a century ago, only to have the Flire clan restart it. Two of the Ice clan's princes escape, and go on a quest to find pieces of a magic artifact. It's really straightforward fantasy blended with wuxia elements with complex worldbuilding and good characters and actors. It really needs to calm down with the CGI at times, but I love it. It also keeps adding more and more excellent ladies (at one point, the fragile old granny who plays with kids in the woods decides she's JUST HAD IT and THESE YOUNG'UNS ARE TAKING TOO LONG and singlehandedly storms the castle and rescues a Damsel In Distress), and has a nice genderswapped version of the "sheltered princess alone in the world for the first time who falls for low-born knight/bodyguard" trope that's just accepted as normal. also, the Fire clan stepped right out of an "edgy" 90s MTV video (poofy hair! dramatic makeup! flashy fabric everywhere!) and goes into battle by surfing on their shields. I kid you not. The Ice clan are the serene and elegant immortals and everything there including clothes and people and hair is white and silver and it's incredibly beautiful and I hate it because unless there's a closeup or they're in a field away from everything it's just a huge blend of white and silver and I can't always make everything out.

I love it to bits and I ran out of episodes and am twiddling my thumbs waiting for more.

While I was watching, I realized that 3 other series I've been waiting on are also airing and getting subbed, so instead of catching up on other TV or doing something productive, I watched the first two episodes of all three.

The Mystic Nine is set in the 1940s and is about 9 treasure hunting families competing against each other, not that most of them have shown up yet. I thought the first episode was good, but it didn't really grab me aside from a few bits. I liked the second episode much more, though, and I'm looking forward to the feuding treasure hunters. That said, it is in dire need of more female characters. So far, there's exactly one, and she's the kind but sickly wife of one of the main characters and I fear she will be fridged. Promotional materials promise a lot more ladies, so we'll see.

Novoland: The Castle in the Sky is another fantasy series about two clans of gods (this time with wings!) who were at war until 100 years pre-story. That's all it really has in common with Ice Fantasy. In this one, a young woman with A Secret Past sneaks into the academy where the young noblemen from both winged clans and the humans train to see her crush/surrogate brother (who is under a curse the he will suffer unendurable pain and die if her has lustful thoughts about her) and gets in trouble. I like it ok so far, though not as much as I was expecting to. Like The Mystic Nine it only has one female character so far (though at least she's the lead here, and there was at least one other in the prologue who will be important later) and unlike The mystic Nine, I don't particularly like any of the male characters so far (and rather loathe her apparent eventual love interest, who is not the cursed fake!brother but a Super Jerk from one of the winged clans-I'm really over the guys who go out of their way to be awful to the female leads but are secretly nice and trying to help in their own special way). The cursed fake!brother and the other guy caught up in her problems are ok, but don't grab me yet.

Lastly, there's Demon Girl, set in 1915 and about a poor dancer who falls in love with a rich police officer. And, unknown to her, her mother was a demon (the series actually opens with Mom slaughtering a bunch of European invaders who were killing everyone in their town), and he is currently unknowingly hunting a demon. And demons here supposedly only prey on evildoers. Based purely on the first two episodes of all three series, I'd say this is my favorite of the airing cdramas, outside of Ice Fantasy, though it looks like it's going to be melodramatic even for the genre. It's my first experience with a Yu Zheng drama, and his stuff seems to be rather polarizing. several of his dramas are in my backlog of things to watch, but I noped out of trying out his stuff until this came along after everything I heard about his version of Return of the Condor Heroes.

Except for Ice Fantasy, it's entirely possible that I'll watch a couple more episodes of each then fall behind and not watch more until they finish airing, which is what has happened pretty much every other time I've tried watching a cdrama as it aired. That used to be the case with kdramas, too, though, so maybe it'll change.

WHILE I'M HERE ANYWAY, let me take a moment to mention Thunderbolt Fantasy, a show that I'm not sure how to classify.  iIve been lumping it into anime since that's the closest I can come up with for it.  It is very much a wuxia, but from Japan, and featuring elaborate and stunning puppets. The story is a very straightforward wuxia one-a young woman who's family guards Super Special Swords is being pursued by A Villain and falls under the protection of two wanderers, one of who summons a bunch of friends to join them in taking on The Big Bad- and plot and characterwise, it has nothing original to offer yet. But it...it is just so good, despite the painstakingly small doses. I've been mostly bingewatching stuff and watching dramas outside of a few US shows lately, so it just feels SO WEIRD AND WRONG to only get 20 odd minutes of shows a week. The puppetry is so good that you can almost forget they aren't animated, and they do some amazing things with the FX and angles and shadows. Urobutcher is behind it, though, so it'll probably end in pain and tears and anger on my part.

And these are the things that have consumed me of late and kept me from everything but work and tumblr. Well, these and pokemon go.
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: (shyzm: san niang)
Sound of the Desert, also known as Ballad of the Desert is based on a romance novel by Tong Hua. The novel is set during the Han dynasty, but apparently there was controversy over historical inaccuracies and they changed it to be set in a fictional country (Creatively called Western Han...), and the names of historical figures were changed.

Xin Yue (Liu Shi Shi) is a Tartar (based on Mongolians, I believe) girl who was RAISED BY WOLVES in the desert. (I love how this is a literal origin story for multiple wuxia heroines.) As a child, she was found and adopted by a Tartar man, and became friends with several noble Tartar children, but she returned to the desert after his murder. As an adult, she encounters two young noblemen from Western Han. The first, Mo Xun (Hu Ge), is the frail nephew of the emperor, and a businessman with ties to the desert. The second, Wu Ji (Eddie Peng), is the nephew of the empress, and a general rapidly gaining fame and recognition. Mo Xun gives her a pretty blue dress and provisions, and when she later meets Wu Ji, she accompanies him back to the capital city, Chang'an, unaware that either man is of any particular social importance.

In Chang'an, she quickly spends all her money (which was provided by Wu Ji) and ends up begging for odd jobs until she begins working at a dancing house, quickly becoming the top dancer of the house, and eventually meets both Mo Xun and Wu Ji again, learning both of their real identities, and kicking off a love triangle that...isn't overly interesting as a triangle, but the main romance is quite nice, as are all characters as individuals. (Though Mo Xun is rather bland until the triangle stuff is sorted out, which isn't really something I expect to say about a character played by Hu Ge. Speaking of which, I don't know how they expect us to buy Hu Ge as frail. I mean, dude's a good actor and all, but...very much not frail.) More importantly, she builds her own entertainment empire through shrewdness and talent, forms lifelong friendships with several women, and uses her entertainment empire to further the political agendas of her friends, including Qin Xiang, a young performer seeking revenge, who later becomes a (completely non-romantic) rival. The second half moves away from the entertainment and love triangle aspects, and into palace politics and conspiracies.

It's not quite a wuxia, but is clearly very heavily wuxia inspired, though the political and business aspects make me think more of sageuks than wuxia dramas. I remember this being The Big Anticipated Thing in 2011 when it was announced, and then heard nothing on it until I saw it on Hulu, since it didn't air until 2014. The book it's based on is the first in a trilogy (the second is about Xin Yue's daughter, I believe, and the third hasn't been published yet.) but I don't know if there are any plans to adapt the rest of the series.

I'd say it's the best cdrama I've seen in years, but, uhm, it actually HAS been a couple years since I watched a cdrama, having mostly watched sageuks and a Spanish telenovelas for my non-English language period dramas the last couple of years. Instead, I'll say I don't think I've enjoyed a cdrama this much since Paladins in Troubled Times. (Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei loses because it only has 2 major female characters, and one dies pre-series in an extremely annoying fridging backstory which killed a lot of my momentum for the series, and while I was really into certain parts of Legend of the Condor Heroes 2008, I...really did not much care for or about most of the Yang Kang or Ouyang Ke storylines.)

In other news, the Legend of Hua Mulan series from a few years ago got subtitles when I wasn't looking, so I'll be watching it soon.
meganbmoore: (lotus lantern)
Chinese Detectives (subtitled Double Dragons of Mystery which is my favorite of possible titles for it) is a half-mystery and half-romantic comedy series set during the Mind Dynasty. Meng Tian Chu (Wallace Huo) grew up in Italy with his mother but has returned to China in search of his father. Somewhere along the way, he was abducted by pirates and escaped, but only after raiding Jack Sparrow's closet. (He was abducted by pirates, but I'm pretty sure I'm only joking about raiding Jack Sparrow's closet. IT'S AN AWFULLY SUSPICIOUSLY FAMILIAR OUTFIT.) In China, he finds his father's friend, Xia Yi Dao, on the day of his daghter, Feng Yi's (He Zhuo Yan) wedding to her childhood friend, Duan Ping (Nicky Wu).

Tian Chu is apparently a shoujo manga hero, as he falls in love with Feng Yi when she mistakes him for a thief and punches him out. Then Xia Yi Dao says the wedding has to be called off because Feng Yi and Tian Chu were engaged as infants, and he only allowedthe wedding because he thought Tian Chu was dead. Somewhere in there, Duan Ping, who represses far too much than is good for him, loses his patience with a random dude interrupting his wedding and declaring his love for his bride and also punches Tian Chu out. Shockingly Tian Chu still has all his teeth by the end of the first episode.

The romantic triangle is rather messy, but surprisingly unannoying in it's extreme shoujo-ness (Feng Yi is in love with her sweet-to-her superserious childhood friend but might be starting to like the weird "badboy" who just came to town and is engaging in odd antics to woo her. There's one episode where hald the episode is Tian Chu cooking Italian food and Feng Yi refusing to eat it because she is having nothing of the arranged marriage business.) and I'm enjoying all combinations of interactions between the three. The romcom antics are sporadically interrupted by dead bodies popping up and Duan Ping going off to officially investigate, and Tian Chu trying to solve the mystery first with less orthodox means, with Feng Yi helping one or both. The trailer I watched had me expecting a lot more proceduralish mystery solving and fewer antics, but it's had a good balance between them so far.

He Zhuo Yan was extremely good in the "spirited and mischevious, but also very clever" role she had early on in Paladins in Troubled Times (she was also very good later on, too, but her character there took a much more serious route after the first arc of that series) and Chinese Detectives is letting her do a lot more with that. Nicky Wu is apparently pretty popular right now, but this is the first thing I've seen him in. I was underwhelmed at first, but he's grown on me a lot. Wallace Huo rather surprised me because I'm used to him playing superserious and educated characters, not giant lovable yet annoying puppies who want to be detectives, so I was surprised he had this role in him.
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)
Lotus Lantern (2007 version) is a fantasy wuxia drama that I enjoyed quite a bit but have little to say about, given that it's 35 episodes long. It's based on a legend about the son of a goddess and a mortal. When the hero, Chen Xiang, learns who his mother is and that she's been imprisoned by her brother, Er Lang Shen, since Chen Xiang was an infant, he sets out on a quest to rescue her. It's probably the most shounen-like drama that I've seen (beating out Warrior Baek Dong Soo, with epic speeches about friendship and nakama (not that "nakama" is actually used), lifelong friendships after a couple fights, improbably noble motivations for villainous actions, a couple forbidden romances and unrequitted crushes, and multiple literal power-ups, complete with costume redesigns at times.

It starts a bit slow (the first few episodes, while entertaining enough, are largely worth watching if you enjoy looking an Vincent Jiao and boggling at his ability to have chemistry with anyone and anything, even when it's inappropriate) but gets going when Chen Xiang starts adventuring and meeting people, but doesn't really get going until Chen Xiang gets a little older and more interesting. (The series spans somewhere between five and ten years for the characters.) towards the end I started fearing that it was going to screw over the characters (especially the female characters) and audience on a similar level as Chinese Paladin, but it mostly pulls itself back from that cliff (I dislike how the last 3rd handled Ding Xiang, one of my two favorite characters. It tried to redeem itself at the end but didn't quite). Then again, we don't really need another series in which only one character is left alive and human and he has major PTSD and is now wandering a severely depopulated fantasy ancient China with a newborn and everyone else he knows is dead, except maybe an aunt who they forgot about after 3 or so episodes. I'm not sure I buy the explanation for Er Lang Shen's actions (even though it was what I had initially thought) in the context of everything that he did, but I can go with it.

I'm not familiar with the legend it's based on and can't find out much about it online, so I'm not sure how it compares. I recognized more from Journey to the West-which features heavily (the main female character, Xiao Yu, is actually the daughter of a pair of villains from that one)-than anything else. I'd be interested in feedback from people who have seen the series and are familar with the legend.

The series has been released in the US by TaiSeng and is available for DVD rental through netflix should you have that option. I should warn, though, that it's apparently an earlier TaiSeng release (at least, I'm pretty sure the others with bad subs have been earlier? Some of their releases have very good subs.) and the subtitles, while easy to follow, are riddled with errors.
meganbmoore: (shyzm: san niang)


Where's my GIF of Catelyn Stark bashing Jaime Lannister over the head with a rock?  Because that's how I feel.
 

If the backstory were the main story, I'd ditch this show and never look back.

As it is, while my enjoyment of the main story remains the same and my only complaint with the main story is that, aside from San Niang, the cast is all men (men I like except for the antagonists, but that's a separate matter) there's no way this can ever go on my list of favorites now.
 

 

spoilers are obviously not happy campers )
meganbmoore: (sword chess: yu er: red)
In case you forgot (which may not be too hard, as it isn't being talked about much) China recently decided that Inu Yasha needed a live action wuxia loosely based on it.

Bless you, China.

Here's what it looks like:



I'm too lazy to see if that's the same trailer I posted before.

Actually, it takes the general idea, adapts it from feudal Japan to ancient China, and runs with it. As a result, we have Kagome and Inu Yasha-Ding Yao and Wen Tian here (oder and more mature than the original versions, and Wei Tian is considerably closer to being smart than Inu Yasha, and is half-dragon instead of half dog-demon), off hunting the shards of a vase (turned into pearls that give demon enhanced powers) that can imprison demons, with some core plot points remaining the same to drive the story, but the rest is loosely adapted, or completely made up. TBH, while Ding Yao and Wen Tian having adventures hunting shards is a good central adventure aspect to keep things going, the rest is actually more interesting.

So far, it basically goes like this:

ARCHEOLOGIST: Hello! I am an archelogist who has finally found proof that a mythic city once existed! Rocks glowing red and causing spontaneous storms do not phase me!
LADY ARCHEOLOGIST: How about a 3500 year old painting of your daughter?
ARCHEOLOGIST: SAY WHAT?!?!?!
DING YAO: Said daughter here! Ever since my dad gave me this clay figurine amulet, Ive been having strange visions of ancient China. I think I'll see if those artifacts Dad found give me any ideas for my thesis. Hey, where'd this tornado come from? Wait, why am I in a forest? WAIT WHY AM I BEING ARRESTED?
WEI LIAO: Hello, I am the Grand General of the mythic kingdom. I'm also played my TAE (Yes, he has his name in all caps. Don't ask me why.) in a completely serious and dramatic role, without a hint of the oddball about me. If you've seen me in other roles, you might find this a bit disorienting. I am also the king's younger and much better looking brother. Unfortunately for the kingdom and every character in the series, he left all the brains in the family for me. Back to the plot, it's kinda illegal to trespass here, so I'm afraid you have to be executed.
DING YAO: WTF WHAT TRESPASS WHAT?
TING QIN: Hello, I am the acolyte of the head priestess. I can't help but notice this girl looks like my mistress's dead sister. I feel this is significant.
MO YIN: Priestess here! Eeh, passing resemblance. Off with her head.
THE KING: OMG NO CAN YOU NOT SHE THAT SHE IS MY LONG DEAD TRUE LOVE RETURNED TO US? YOU CANNOT KILL HER!
DING YAO: Oh, wow, thanks for saving me. What's with this pl-
THE KING: MY LOVE! YOU ARE RETURNED TO ME! LET ME GRAB OU AND KISS YOU AND HOLD YOU AND-
DING YAO: OMG WHAT GET OFF OF ME! Off off off! *thwap*
WEI LIAO, MO YIN, TING QIN and RANDOM SOLDIERS: *gasp* TREASON!
THE KING: I AM SURE IT WAS A MISUNDERSTANDING! TAKE HER TO OUR BEST ROOMS AND GIVE HER A BATH AND INVITE HER TO DINNER!
DING YAO: I wanna go home home! Oh, gardens! Oh! Antiques to take home to dad! Oh, a pretty metal bowl-HO BLEEP ITS THE KING COMING AT ME! I am armed, dude!
THE KING: I promise to behave. Maybe just a cuddle?
DING YAO: ARMED! CAN SHATTER GLASS WITH A SINGLE SCREECH IF NEEDED!
THE KING: How about if I tell you about the person we all think you are?
DING YAO: Ok, that sounds safe.
THE KING: Here is the perfectly preserved corpse of our former priestess, who you are the mirror image of. I like to come out and ogle it sometimes.
DING YAO: Well, you just keep getting creepier, don't you? So, what happened to her.
THE KING: FLASHBACK TIME! Mo Yin and Xian Yue are the earthly reincarnations of goddesses set to protect the kingdom. As soon as I saw Xian Yue, I knew it was true love forever and ever because she was pretty, and I basically stalked her and abused my power as the king to follow her everywhere until she and Mo Yin decided that she should retreat to a place where no mortal man could follow to escape me and Mo Yin took over as the head priestess. Anyway, somewhere in there, she met this half-dragon guy, Wen Tian, who betrayed her and attacked us. She imprisoned him and then died, and I have since kept her perfectly preserved corpse here in my garden so that I can gaze upon her flawless beauty whenever I want.
DING YAO: Well that's very interesting. Really, you sure did have a sucky, tragic time there. Don't mind my slowly edging away from you. It doesn't mean anything.
THE KING: BUT ALL IS WELL NOW! YOU HAVE BEEN SENT TO ME AS A REPLACEMENT! We will wed!
DING YAO: NO WE WILL NOT! Fleeing now.
THE KING: Guards! Lock her up until the wedding! I'll kill anyone who lets her escape!
WEI LIAO: Bro., I'm trying to find a diplomatic way to tell you this, BUT THIS IS A REALLY BAD IDEA! I mean, aside from the complete stranger showing up and looking exactly like the woman you're creepily obsessed wi-I mean, the woman you love, Mo Yin was telling me all about the bad omens she saw just before this girl showed up.
THE KING: Silly boy! Do you not know what it is to love? To feel all consuming, true love that could make you give up everything!
WEI LIAO: I WOULD NEVER ABANDON MY COUNTRY FOR THE SAKE OF ONE WOMAN!
UNIVERSE: Bite you in the butt, that will.
ANYONE WHO HAS EVER SEEN A WUXIA BEFORE: If you're lucky, you'll die dramatically in each other's arms, complete with face stroking. But not before you become super angsty and scruffy and forget how to brush your hair.
TING QIN: Hey, Boss, this is really kind of uhm, wrong. Don't you think we should help this poor girl?
MO YIN: Oh, yes, definitely best to get her out of the palace. Go rescue her.
TING QIN: You know, kiddo, I'm not actually sure I'm helping you because I think there's something up, but run while the runnings good.
DING YAO: RUNNING NOW!
MO YIN: Gosh, Wei Liao, I can 't help but feel that girl is a danger to us all. Maybe it would be best if she just kinda was never found.
WEI LIAO: I may have all the brains in the family, but that doesn't mean I'm the smartest guy around. Maybe my guards should kill her instead of bring her back if they find her? For the good of the country, I mean.
MO YIN: Ah, overwhelming patriotism. So very useful sometimes.
DING YAO: I wanna go home! EEK! DEMON!
DEMON: YUM YUM!
HU JI: Hi, hot demon lady here. Actually, I secretly plan to use and then kill you myself, but for now, I'll help.
DING YAO: Wow you're gorgeous! If you lived in modern times, you'd be more famous than Angelina Jolie and could have an extramarital affair wit Brad Pitt!
MEGAN: Believe it or not, that was as direct a quote as I could get without pulling up the episode.
HU JI: I think that was a backhanded complement. How sweet. Did I mention that I'm a demon too.
DING YAO: Oh, crap.
WEI LIAO: Despite my orders, I feel compelled to run to your rescue.
DING YAO: Thanks. Demons there, running now.
HI JU: Hey hottie, wanna have fight sex?
WEI LIAO: I-what-that-yes?
HU JI: Admit it, you can't make yourself kill me!
WEI LIAO: Are you fighting me or seducing me? This is confusing.
HU JI: Sigh, you're just too cute to kill. Later.
WEI LIAO: Hey, wait a second! Oh look, a feather from your cloak is slowly floating down to me. I'll grab it so I can stare longingly at it later on.
DING YAO: Still running from demons here! Oh look, a cave. That has a cute boy with horns imprisoned in the middle. Let me grab him and hide behind him when the demon finds me.
WEN TIAN: Whoa, long nap there. Xian Yue! Why did you betray me!? Wait, why are you hiding from this wimpy demon?
DING YAO: NOT HER ALREADY! Help please?
WEN TIAN: Well, I needed a workout. Now that I've killed her, let's get back to that betryal thing already.
DING YAO: STOP WITH THE IDENTITY CONFUSION ALREADY! Also, I'm pretty sure your precious priestess would kick your butt if you had that attitude with her.
WEN TIAN: This is all very confusing, but I may believe you now, since you appear to kinda be a wimp.
DING YAO: Well excuse me for not being combat trained from birth or having magic powers like some people!
WEI LIAO: HO BLEEP WHO LET YOU OUT Dragon Boy?
DING YAO: Uhm...me? Also, I kinda shattered the magic vase that holds demons prisoner somewhere in there.
WEI LIAO: I think I'm getting a migraine. Can we all just got back to the palace now?
THE KING: EEEW WHO LET THE MONGREL OUT?
WEN TIAN: I would kick you, but I'm trying to behave until I know WTF is going on. I'll go look at a tree and pout ubntil I'm needed.
MO YIN: I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU BROKE THE MAGIC VASE! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO NOW?
DING YAO: I...can go after it?
THE KING: I SHALL SEND AN ARMY TO PROTECT YOU!
WEI LIAO, MO YIN, DING YAO, and TING QIN: ...
MO YIN: Maybe...a couple bodyguards? We don't exactly want to let every demon in the world know about this, you know.
THE KING: IT MUST BE THE BEST OF THE BEST! Wei Liao-
WEI LIAO: Oh hell no am I leaving you unsupervised while I traipse around the country with this girl.
DING YAO: He also wanted to cut my head off in the first episode, so I agree.
WEN TIAN: I'll go. Nothing better to do and all. Totally not figuring out how I feel about all this here. I admit to no emotions.
DING YAO: I vote him over anything the king could ever possibly think of. No offense.
MO YIN: Ting Qin, I'm sending you to secretly spy on them, just in case. check in every few days, ok?
TING QIN: While I suspect I am being used as a tool in potentially evil deeds, this is probably actually a good idea.
DING YAO and WEN TIAN: We will now go have adventures roughly along the lines of Inu Yasha and Kagome's adventures in the first few volumes of the manga, only we'll resolve some issues a lot more quickly and actually have clarifying conversations that clear the air.

While they're doing this, this is what's going on elsewhere:

ARCHEOLOGIST: BTW, I figured out what happened and am trying to figure out how to rescued my daughter from the past. The lack of indoor plumbing and deodorant must be awful.
DING YAO: IT IS! But look, the guy with horns gave me this magic flute that's great in combat!
HU JI: Did I mention I'm the Demon Lord's favorite henchwoman? Because I totally am.
DEMON LORD: Hu Ji, go wipe out that village of demon hunters over there and steal their sacred scroll, K?
HU JI: Totally done!
MU LIAN: Half dead sole survivor of slaughtered demon hunter village here. Wait, am I hallucinating a flying guy with giant black feathers on his cape?
WU DAO: Hey there, prince of the dragon race and half-brother of that annoying guy with horns glued to his head here. I hate humans, but for some reason, I feel compelled to patch this girl up. Not that she's pretty or anything.
MU LIAN: OMG YOU TOOK MY CLOTHES OFF!
WU DAO: And then put them back on! Actually, I gave you better clothes. Also, it was totally just for medical purposes!
MU LIAN: IT IS THE LAW OF MY VILLAGE THAT A WOMAN MUST KILL ANY MAN BESIDES HER HUSBAND WHO SEES HER NAKED!
WU DAO: Medical purposes! Maybe you shouldn't be trying to kill people until you're better? Also, here's some medicine. And weapons. Look, I have to go track down my brother and make speeches about how I hate humans, but I'll be back to help you when you fight demons who outnumber you 10-to-1 and trade meaningful stares with you, ok?
MU LIAN: Time to bury my WHOLE VILLAGE SINGLEHANDED, and then take off to hunt down demons.
THE KING: BTW, Wei Liao, remember when I betrothed you to a princess 17 years ago.
WEI LIAO: WTF I thought you were joking?
THE KING: I was not! Anyway, she drugged her guards and ran away on the way here, so you're off the hook.
WEI LIAO: I assure you that this means nothing to me on a personal level! I'm just going to go stare pensively at that feather now, ok?
YU DIE: Well hello there! I am a slightly lecherous, conveniently small and slender young man incapable of resisting a damsel in distress, and prone to acts of chivalry every five minutes. Unfortunately, I basically have no real fighting skills. I shall attach myself to the first badass girl I meet!
MU LIAN: Why me?
YU DIE: But it will be fun! Oh look, a damsel in distress!
MU LIAN: FYI, damsels in distress who lead you off alone into the forest tend to be demons. Anyway, you're weird, and I'm off.
YU DIE: But I wanted us to be partners and travel the world together having adventures! Oh look, a damsel in distress!
MU LIAN: What are you, a demon magnet? I JUST WARNED YOU ABOUT THIS!
YU DIE: I can't help myself. Also, did I mention that the lechery is just an act and that I'm secretly a crossdressing runaway princess?
MU LIAN: Oh, in that case, we can totally be BFF and spend our lives having adventures together.
YU DIE: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
RANDOM DEMONESS: For reasons that don't completely make sense in this version, I must steal Xian Yue's body.
WEI LIAO and TING QIN: We were just having drinks and noticed commotion and HO BOY THE CORPSE IS GONE AND THE GUARDS ARE UNCONSCIOUS. This will be bad.
THE KING: NOOO THE CORPSE IS GONE MY LIFE IS OVER! KILL ALL THE GUARDS!
WEI LIAO: But...that's 24 men...
THE KING: KILL THEM ALL!
WEI LIAO: Uhm, bro, I'm trying to be diplomatic about this, but that's the kind of thing that leads to rebellion and you probably shouldn't-
THE KING: OMG BACKTALK! FIFTY LASHES FOR YOU!
WEI LIAO: You do realize that all your generals and soldiers like me better, right? Actually, I'm not sure anyone likes you except for Mo Yin and I. And I'm obligated by genetics.
MO YIN: Oh, crap, major damage control time. Ting Qin, take this medicine to Wei Liao and say it's from the king. Hopefully it'll offset the couple dozen officials that are about to beg him to rebel.
WEI LIAO: It's a sweet gesture and all, but I can see right through it.
THE KING: I am drunk at my true love's empty pedestal. How will I survive! For years I have subsisted on nothing but ogling the beautiful, perfectly preserved corpse of my beloved!
MO YIN: You know, maybe this is for the-
THE KING: I CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT GAZING AT HER PERFECT BEAUTY! I know! We shall gather all the finest jade in the kingdom and create a perfect jade replica for me to ogle every day!
MO YIN: But that's...kinda maybe a REALLY BAD way to use the country's resources and your people won't-
THE KING: DO IT! Do it do it do it!
MO YIN: Look, writers, why couldn't you have me in love with the other brother instead?

For the record, if you are only reading this post because of LIVE ACTION INU YASHA, I feel I should mention that except for the time travel (which is actually kinda popular lately) this is all pretty standard wuxia so far.

So, pretty fun. I admit, I think the overall idea actually is very well suited to wuxia, though it certainly isn't particularly faithful. My main issue so far is the fact that while the king is portrayed as obsessive, I think we're still meant to view him as sympathetic, and that's just not happening. There are things in the official description and potential plot developments hinted at in the credits that I'm leery of, but i'll see how they play out before complaining about them.

Also, while there are ceratinly more women in the core cast than in the manga version, I can't help but notice some less-than-pleasing alterations to the families. In the manga, Kagome lives with her mother, who packs her lunches to share with her friends while she has adventures in feudal Japan. It's been a while since I read or watched any of Inu Yasha, but I'm not sure her father was ever mentioned. Ding Yao has a father who wnts to rescue her, and dead motherangst. Actually, most characters seem to have dead mother angst, come to think of it. The big one, though, is how the close and loving relationship between Kikyo and Kaede is...significantly less so with Xian Yue and Mo Yin. The series descriptions hold that Mo Yin is evil and responsible for Xian Yue's death, though so far, she's...less than nice and was envious of Xian Yue, but is largely sympathetic (andthe most interesting character so far) and hasn't shown herself to be evil yet.

Meanwhile, Wen Tian has already admitted that he actually loves Wu Dao and wants Wu Dao to accept him and let him help Wu Dao lead to dragons to ascendancy, and Wu Dao...is still anti-crossbreeds and anti-human, but far less stringent on both counts. Mind you, I actuslly approve of this IN GENERAL, but not so much when i compare it to the changes with female relatives.

Anyway, fun and cracky so far. Hopefully the subs won't be too slow.
meganbmoore: (paladins: yan yu/mo le: pre-angstplosion)
Has anyone seen this wuxia from 2007? It's only just now getting English subs, and there are only a few episodes out. I just watched the first episode and all I have to say is that the heroine has kung fu cooking skills and there's at least one case of secret parentage.

And also apparently heroine/angsty-semi villain (which, despite having little patience for in Western media, I am typically all over in wuxia and sageuks, requited or otherwise):



(All but the last bit is from the first episode.)

Did I mention kung fu cooking skills? This looks to be one of those wuxia series where friends are supposed to eventually be enemies because of the previous generation, but I'm not sure as I can't find much info about the series.

I hope for crossdressers and cross country trips and weird family units.
meganbmoore: (shyzm: shameless!)
Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei or Vigilantes in Masks (I prefer the former version myself) is something of a wuxia version of Robin Hood, but actually reminds my a lot of Leverage. The main character, Le Ge Xiao, is a former government official who Tragically Lost A Loved One because of his employers and is now a drunken bum. A Super Upstanding Dude Worried About the Little People asks him to undertake a Very Important mission to save…uhm…I think it was flood victims? Anyway, to save people! To do so, LGX recruits Totally Not Evil Shady People from his past (and who he’s encountered in his drunken bum phase) to help him, but whoops! Super Upstanding Dude Worried About the Little People is actually Evil and frames them for crimes. And then they go around the country helping people and hatching elaborate schemes that involve subterfuge and fake identities. Oh, and the heroine, San Niang, is on a one woman mission to save LGX from his self-destructive tendencies (boy does he have them) and potential liver poisoning.

See? Leverage.

I like it a lot, but there are too few women in the main cast (only San Niang) and it’s way too fond of reminding me that LGX’s wife was fridged for two men’s angst without giving her much characterization beyond the Beautiful and Perfect pedestal they have her on in flashbacks. Give her something to do already show. You are a Guo Li series, and so I know you can do much better on this front.

Anyway, the last few episodes are my favorite so far, as they’ve been all about San Niang’s past and her fraught relationship with her shifu/mother-but-she-claims-not-to-be-but-they-know-better (I’m fairly certain San Niang’s father is going to be revealed to be the main villain.)

Also, for a show that technically has no romance in the main plot, the writers ship San Niang/LGX to a ridiculous and shameless degree. We’ve already had two fake marriage plots and I’m losing track of the excuses they’re coming up with for San Niang to hold/cradle LGX’s bloody, half dead body, or just holding each other in general. We’ve even had hijinks in the dry ice fog that I think were supposed to be it’s-CPR-no-really despite not even pretending to look like CPR and having to apparent reason for it. (It actually played out more like the “you stay here, Delicate Damsel, while I go save the day” with LGX as the Delicate Damsel. For various It Only Happens In Wuxia reasons, he is blind and poisoned.)

Just look at the extending ending credits!



I haven’t seen wuxia credits that devoted to shipping since Return of the Condor Heroes. (I like them because it’s the fun kind of shamelessness, and because LGX seems to think she’s some kind of superwoman who can handle anything and everything and has to have it pointed out to him that even super awesome people have their limits.)

Sadly, the remaining 17 episodes don't have subtitles yet.
meganbmoore: (flz: demon tricks)

So, in Strange Hero Yi Zhi Hei, Guo Li is basically cutting through his normal dozen or so episodes of fluff and cuteness that lures you into your comfort zone, and is just cutting straight to the Angst and Doom and Dead People?  Because it usually takes a bit in his wuxia series before his characters are wandering around dripping blood and sweat and hallucinating about dead loved ones, but that took about two minutes here.
meganbmoore: (paladins: wuxia borgias)

I am deeply saddened to report that there was no resolution to whether or not wuxia medicine can actually make you regrow bodyparts.  But at least you get to see someone bite off their own finger to get the emperor to listen to them?  (If I were to trust wuxia on this front, I would be forced to believe that China has never had even a semi-competent ruler.)

Anyay, the climax included this scene:

MAN:  I shall be strong and manly and lift this giant rock door with my bare hands!  I've managed 6 inches.  Quick, grab a rock to hold it open for me!
WOMAN:  How about I bring you this thick wooden pole I conveniently found over there, and we use it as lever.  That way, we don't risk losing our fingers and it'll go way faster and take a lot less effort.
MAN:  I am glad we had the discussion about how you have all the brains in this operation a few episodes ago.

I only have one serious problem with this series, and it's under the cut.
 

 

spoiler cut for annoyingly common trope )


I should find a series where Victor Huang is playing a more age appropriate character.  Also, Yan Yu's actress is to this director (name escapes me at the moment and i'm to la to look it up) what Liu Shi Shi is to Guo Li, because it looks like almost every series she's in is from him.

meganbmoore: (paladins: wuxia borgias)

1.  I think someone in wardrobe went "Gosh, Mo Le is kind of going to be really REALLY annoying for a bit.  Well, if nothing else, we can attempt to distract those in the audience whose sexual orientation includes tall men with well-defined muscles, nearly bronzed skin, and long dark hair by having Victor Huang with bare arms (the closest we get to shirtless in wuxia unless it involves TOTALLY PLATONIC AT THIS POINT AND COMPLETELY NECESSARY NO REALLY naked kung fu practice in a meadow with your hot young master of the opposite sex who will look 20 forever...that was by the same director we have here, come to think of it...) and lots of sweat.  Who wants to apply the oil?"

2. WUXIA BORGIAS have now been joined by WUXIA DARTH VADER.  By which I do not simply  mean "Luke, I am your father," (which I guessed in, like, episode 3) but:

WUXIA DARTH VADER:  Luke, I am your father!  Join me in my reign of darkness, terror, and oh yeah, EVIL and we will subjugate the entire world and I will hand it to you on a silver platter and you will be KING OF THE WORLD.
WUXIA LUKE SKYWALKER:  Nnnnoooo!  You aren't my father!  My father was a hero!  And is dead!  Also, I adhere to a strict heroic code to the point where I'm sometimes kind of blind to all else, and it does not allow for helping evil fathers take over the world!
WUXIA DARTH VADER:  Foolish boy!  I must teach you the true meaning or pain and suffering so that you will understand that evil and world domination is the only true way!
*insert much pain and suffering*
WUXIA LUKE SKYWALKER: ... ... Well, at least I didn't lose any of my body parts there.  If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go be emo for a bit.

3.  I am so happy that this is the kind of show where female love interests like each other (and chew out the object of mutual affection for not thinking about how his actions might hurt the other) and team up to go rescue the guy, with crossdressing, bar fights, and prison raids along the way.  Then again, it's also the kind of show where every single character is totally fine with the fact that Ling Shuang figuratively "wears the pants" in any room she's in, and has generals for BFFs.

4.  I think they just made it canon that KongKong'er has a 6th "my girlfriend is within a 20 mile radius and I must go see if she needs help taking on a small army/is lonely/needs her sword polished/needs a shoulder massage/needs a message carried to the other end of China/needs my shirt thrown across a puddle in her way" sense.

In conclusion:  Ladies being awesome, WUXIA DARTH VADER, wuxia-style monomania, and gratuitous eye candy.

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