The Black Sabre

Ugh. I watch maybe like the first 15 minutes of Border Town Prodigal, and I went right back to watch The Black Sabre.

The Black Sabre (1989) - MyDramaList

Border Town Prodigal has the best costumes, etc. It’s a work of art, but with all that, it didn’t save the screenwriting. TVB may not have the best resources in the past, but one thing they did well was to let their employees be creative and trust them to get things done. Looking back, I think Hugo Ng is the best-cast Fu Hong Xue.

Time Story

Time Story: Taiwan’s Reply 1982?

Before there was Reply 1988. Before there was Reply 1994. Before there was Reply 1997. Taiwan has this drama called Time Story. (More like Taiwan’s Reply 1982?)

Is South Korea copying? I highly doubted. Every culture has their own nostalgia, and it has its unique flavor.

Time Story did not shy away from the issues of the day: Remarriage, step families, parental abuse, young people competing for resources. The romantic leads are well done and felt like second nature. The relationships came together like any other people off-TV living their real lives. They didn’t do the who’s the husband mystery. It was just people living their everyday lives.

ChinaTimes

For bonus round, go check out Tammy Chen, Tender Huang, Megan Lai (from Bromance) and Weber Yang before they were famous.

Love and Destiny

I watched The Pillow Book, and I’ve been avoiding watching this because the two shows were based on the same universe. Until now.

Let’s be honest. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so if we are talking about whether or not the actors and actresses are good looking, it’s moot for me. I can share a few observations regarding the difference between the two shows:

  • For Love and Destiny, the make-up looks more natural. In The Pillow Book, Vengo Gao was painted white all over, DongHua’s skin just looks unnaturally pale. There were reviews commenting on bows on Chang Chen’s waist, but that never made JiuChen the God of War less intimidating.
  • Love and Destiny brought on board the legendary and award-winning production designer William Chang, specifically to design the looks of LingXi and JiuChen. The rest of the production design aligns with Chang’s vision, giving Love and Destiny a different look and feel from Peach Blossoms and Eternal Love of Dream.
  • Speaking for myself, I have been spoiled with Hollywood productions such as MCU movies and Lord of the Rings franchise. I am just glad that SFX is not overly used, the only SFX that was really off was baby BaiZhe, other than that, special effects makeup and the major monsters are on point.

I don’t favor one show over another, each have its own merits. Overall, I enjoy watching Love and Destiny. Recommend.

Back to the Past Trailer

YT: Gabriel Thum

I haven’t been this excited for a while. Like many people growing up watching TVB, “A Step into the Past” is one of my favorites, maybe even one of my last TVB favorites.

Looking at the trailer alone, I already liked the idea that the production decided not to de-age and artificially make the actors younger, but fast forward the story line to match the actors’ ages. People who are fans of the series would know enough to take a guess at the source of the conflict, and would be excited and want to know how this would end.

The only disappointment I have is that they didn’t bring back Jimmy Au who played Butler Tao (it was on the news though he is listed on Wikipedia, interesting), but I am excited that Hsuan Jessica Hester, Sonija Kwok, Joyce Teng, and Michelle Saram are reprising their roles.

Can’t wait.

The Devil Punisher

Okay I’ve been Netflixing and chilling.

It’s Taiwan’s turn to take a page from Korean Drama playbook and make a show their own. The show has an interesting premise: The Ghost Hunter Zhong Kui has a past with Lady Meng Po, the goddess in charge of erasing past memories of the dead before reincarnation. This sentence only makes sense to people who knows Chinese mythology. Wikipedia can help.

Armed Reaction

The classic is better than the reboot.

Dang, I really miss the year 1998. I spent the entire summer in Hong Kong at a first grown up summer job, met friends that became my old friends. It really was one of the best years of my life.

Which makes Armed Reaction 2021 so hard to watch. If the “reboot” is mean to be a comedy, then Jessica Hsuan and Moses Chan are not good casting choices, leave those two roles to newer comers e.g. Jeannie Chan and Carlos Chan. I understand the writers want to balance out heavy scenes with comedy, but when I see Jessica and Moses I’m thinking about more dramatic roles, e.g. Moses from Healing Hands and Jessica from Detective Investigation Files.

It’s either that, or the screen writings were supposed to be two different shows.

Alright, going back to relive 1998…

Sweet Home

Sometimes, Sweet Home happens under extreme circumstances.

HeavenOfHorror.com

Took me a few months to get used to the new normal, but I’m finally ready for the horror genre.

Korean drama has not disappoint. I have been watching Kingdom seasons 1 and 2. Netflix has freed productions from restraints of Korean network TV where censorship is so strict, even knives are blurred out during airtime.

Like many recent dramas, there are many social commentaries made: election, the Korean patriarchy, the pandemic. Since Korean censorship is not as strict for Netflix series, the drama can show gore, blood, and issues that are more human: spousal abuse, generational conflict, the socially withdrawn.

I’d recommend to anyone who’s okay with some gore show on screen.

The Undateables

My heart is filled with joy when these two reunite!

Back in Korean Drama Can You Hear My Heart in 2011, I had the most severe second-lead syndrome for Namkoong Min. I honestly believed he had more chemistry with Hwang Jung Eum than Kim Jae Won.

A scene from Korean Drama Can You Hear My Heart. In photo, from left to right: Namkoong Min, Kim Jae Won, Hwang Jung Eum
crazyforkdrama

Fast forward to 2018. Namkoong Min reunited with Hwang Jung Eum on another Korean Drama The Undateables. This is a lighthearted romantic comedy, unlike Can You Hear My Heart? where there was so much angst. Both leads are fluffy and cute, with a down-to-earth premise of “Can we all find love?”

Promo Poster of The Undateables. On image, from left to right: Namkoong Min, Hwang Jung Eum.
yahoo 娛樂圈

I think my new problem is I may have second lead syndrome for the second lead Choi Tae Joon.

The Duke of the Mount Deer 1998

The first of Lee Tim-sing’s production. More to come.

myvideo.net.tw

So I got my family to hop on YouTube and watch some old TVB shows.

Mr. Lee Tim-sing in the 90’s remade a series of shows based on Mr. Jin Yong’s novels. The first one we are watching is The Duke of the Mount Deer 1998.

I honestly still question the casting decision of Jordan Chan as Wai Siu Bo, since Tony Leung was deeply embedded in my mind in the 80s. The upside is, Mr. Lee is very consistent with screenwriting. The budget restrictions actually empowered the writing team not to put the entire book, word for word, on the screen. The rest of the cast, especially the 7 wives, are well chosen. The result is, this is its own version that can be hold up against the series starring Andy Lau and Tony Leung in the 80s.

Family is binging this series as I’m writing this. Highly recommend this YouTube playlist.