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: (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.


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