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Pictorial Intro to Lang Ya Bang/Nirvana In Fire

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PSA: This is not a love story.

At first, I was like pssh this show looks boring. The trailer made it look like it was 10% warfare, 10% angst, and 80% of Hu Ge pondering. That said, I am SO GLAD I ended up watching it. Actually, this is one of the few genuinely high quality and well-thought out stories I have seen in a long long time. It appears to be ‘slow’, but every scene has its purpose. On top of that, a very entertaining watch (funny too!) and the eye candy doesn’t hurt either.

Lang Ya Bang is currently the top watched TV drama in China, with over 14,628,775 views on Sohu.

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This guy looks so PEACEFUL for most of the first 20 episodes, but Read More…

“In a Good Way” (episode 7) and Starting “I Can Hear Your Voice”

Wooohooo for such random posts! I usually try to organize these posts by topic but I was getting lazy and wanted to get my thoughts out NOW. So yea here we go! 😀

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In a Good Way has unfailingly made my Fridays better – it’s like being wrapped inside a warm blanket with a fizzy soda (or cheesecake) in your hand. Episode 7 was a good way to wrap up Jia En and Liu Chuan’s cat-and-mouse chase. I like Jia En’s decision at the end of the episode. The whole 3631 search thing was getting quite dragged on and neither side was giving up. We have a bit of cute jealously on Liu Chuan’s side! AHHH CUTE. The feelings are coming out!

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Meanwhile, I have decided to begin another drama – a korean drama called “I Can Hear Your Voice”. It’s about a young man who can read minds and he protects a girl from a serial killer. (After watching Heirs….. I kinda wish Kim Woo Bin would take an awesome role like this hehe!) The show looks pretty addictive and good! I read some good things about it on Dramabeans.

Anyways, I know I will regret this , as one of my new years resolutions was to cut down on drama-watching! Maybe I can compromise and be a casual watcher? Or like, you know, just watch like 10 episodes and call it good? (because that always works) College studying and dramas always clash omg!! One way I usually deal with this problem is opting to read recaps haha.

How do you deal?

Lan Ling Wang (Ariel Lin and FSF) Episode 1-15 Thoughts

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I sense another drama-crack in the works

I love this series! There’s heartwrenching moments like Xue Wu and her granny, but more so, surprisingly hilarious ones. Ariel Lin brings out the multidimensional parts of her character; Xue Wu is clever, sweet to kids, compassionate, clumsy, and all round lovable. 7 reasons to see this show:

1. characters are refreshing and I love Ariel’s engaging portrayal of Xue Wu 

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2. even though Feng Shao Feng isn’t my ideal ‘China’s most beautiful general’, he’s good at expressing emotions via his eyes, which his other contenders can work on

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3. clocking in at about 40 minutes per episode,  and it keeps you on your toes: ugh. what happens neeeextttttt?!

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4. there’s a TON of funny and endearing moments, details of the story and the funny antics between Ariel and FSF that sells this show

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5. even the enemy generals and emperors are adorable, well, after they are menacing. My favorite supporting characters (antagonists): Yu Wen Sidekick, Yu Wen Hu, Qi crown prince, Zhou general…. the list goes on. 

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I love this guy! he’s loyal to the king and a hottie

6. Zhou emperor (played by Daniel Chan) is a total sweetie when he’s with Xue Wu and his daughter 

forgive me, I couldn't find a good pic of him in costume :P

forgive me, I couldn’t find a good pic of him in costume 😛

7. The gorgeous cinematography and pacing! One rare period drama that does not get boring or draggy (yet). 

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For me, I thought King of Lan Ling did start off a bit typical and eventless, but the first 2 episodes did set up the series pretty well. I remember skipping over all the Zhou palace scenes but somehow all the characters (plus the side characters) eventually became very interesting and I haven’t skipped an episode since!

A prophecy foretold that victory goes to the one who has the priestess’ blessing. Yang Xue Wu, the last priestess of her clan, unwittingly embroiled in a war between Northern Qi and Northern Zhou. Although she foresees the tragic fate of Lan Ling Wang, the general of Northern Qi, she nonetheless falls in love with him and helps him win the war against Yuwen Yong, the king of Northern Zhou. But can destiny be altered?

Photo sources: 1, 2, 3

Related Posts:

Lan Ling Wang thoughts on Episode 1-15 (THIS POST)

Lan Ling Wang thoughts on Episode 16-30

Lan Ling want thoughts on Episode 31-46 END

Best and Worst TV Series Set in China’s Republican Era (mid-1900s)

You are Chinese drama fan and would like to see some good Republican era type dramas – either you like flashy Shanghai nightclubs or guys wearing vests in a gun fight, or both. Jokes aside, here are some across-the-spectrum stories set in this turbulent period of Chinese history.

Definitely Would Watch

1. Romance in the Rain: if you want a classy, epic love story between good looking people. It should be on your bucket list to see at least one of Qiong Yao’s famous novels come to life.

2. The Five Secret Agents (Wu Hao Te Gong Zu/五号特工组): This is as close to a Chinese spy-action 007 as we’re gonna get. I doubt a lot of people have heard of this one, because I think it is unsubbed as far as I know, but you can find it on youku. Suspenseful and gripping episodes, with some witty and cheeky humor thrown in for good measure. One word: badass.

3. Love At First Fight (Wu Shi Lang/武十郎) This was how I fell in love with George Hu and found Wallace Huo’s hilarious side. This should be your go-to Republican period romantic-comedy. I also liked that there’s a lot of cool martial arts in this series. When Wu Shi Lang (the female protagonist) tries to date Sheng Da and Ya Shou simultaneously, the plan fails hilariously. The ending was pretty funny too and it was romantic at the same time.

Wouldn’t Watch Even If You Paid Me

1. Bounty Hunter: I’ll say it, the only reason I watched this one was because Chen Xiao was in it. On an aesthetic level, the costumes made the entire cast gain 10 pounds and our protagonist wears a Western cowboy hat…. And the entire story was about a series of gory crimes that make no sense. Oh, and before I forget, our male lead doesn’t act in the show. If you really have nothing else to do, I mean….

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I hope 10 years later, viewers will completely forget me in a cowboy hat and this series

2. Hidden Intentions: Costumes and hairstyling was similar to the mediocrity that plagued Bounty Hunter, but at least this entertained in a ridiculously overdramatic manner. The screenwriter extended the 66 77 love story for many episodes too long – I mean it was really sweet, but Luo Jin and Jiang Mengjue‘s sparkling chemisty can only do so much. The only highlight was the unexpected appearance of a cameo at the end (hint: he’s super super eye candy).

where's the light at the end of the tunnel? Oh, my bad, there isn't one... BUT MY LOVE!

where’s the light at the end of the tunnel? Oh, my bad, there isn’t one… BUT MY LOVE!

3. Yong Chun: I literally watched it because of Nic Tse. Never found the kiss scene that they showed in one of their promotional pictures…

I wanted to know what happens between them!!

I wanted to know what happens between them!!

Borderline “So-So” Dramas That Are Guilty Pleasures

Sometimes you finish a drama, and after realizing it is crap, you end up coming back to rewatch some parts where you REALLY liked the couple, or REALLY enjoyed some key scenes. They are your ‘guilty pleasures’.

1. New Shanghai Bund: Huang Xiaoming is impossible perfect as a gangsta boss. From his vest to his expert gun shooting poses, one simply cannot finish the series without mentioning just how utterly beautiful this man is. His love story with Sun Li’s Ms. Feng is tempered by her bad guy father among other happenings in Shanghai’s underworld community.

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2. A Step-mother’s Heart in Spring: (Chun Tian Hou Mu Xin/春天后母心): This was a really addictive series. It was sweet and heartwarming as much as it was heartjerking. It’s about a woman (played by the very famous Liu Xue Hua) who unknowning marries a man who has three children. She soon falls in love with those children and accepts them as her own. They come the tribulations and stuff that she does through to save her step-children. Touching but way too sad. Although, people who watch it to the end will be happy to see Yan Kuan cameo.a5c27d1ed21b0ef44195d75eddc451da81cb3eb4

A Beauty in Troubled Times (Luan Shi Jia Ren) Review

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  • Republican era romance
  • Episodes: 44
  • Broadcast period: 2012-Dec-07 to 2012-Dec-21

In a nutshell: Cut through the plotting, corruption, gunfights, and our heroine’s three men, you really have a strong girl’s determination and will to change her destiny and her subsequent rise up the ranks in Shanghai’s upper society. Actress Tang Yan’s strongest performance by far. The story was intriguing enough, but I don’t think I could stomach it again.

Read More…

Beijing Youth 北京青年 Review

 

  • Mainland Chinese series
  • Episodes: 36
  • Genre: Urban Youth, Romance
  • Broadcast period: 2012-Aug

In a nutshell: It’s Gentlemen’s Dignity crossed with Huan Zhu Ge Ge, double dipped in a coat of Who Controls My Youth. In other words: Beijing Youth has fantastical bromance, a roadtrip adventure, and lots of clever, laugh-aloud moments, with some deeper moments of reflection of self to boot.

Keep in mind that the Chinese television industry is still new to modern Chinese serials. When Who Controls My Youth aired in 2008 with well-carved characters and entertaining dialogue, I thought Chinese modern tv series has reached the pinnacle of its brilliance. Anyways, Zhao Baogang is awesome because he decided to treat us Who Controls My Youth fans with an equally smart followup. Occassionally, the story goes melodramatic with relationship crisis and tend to over-emphasize the protagonist’s need to reclaim his youth, but the overall message of the story is inspiring.

Beijing Youth premiered on August 16, 2012 in Beijing TV, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Oriental, Anhui. This drama is directed by Zhao Baogang, and focuses on four cousins ​​born and raised in Beijing, who share a family background, but with different personalities and ambitions. Zhao Baogang considers Beijing Youth the third of his “Youthful trilogy” which included cdrama hits like “Struggle” and “Who Controls My Youth”.

The Story: Each of the 4 cousins names are literally translated as cardinal directions, from eldest to youngest: He Dong (Li Chen), He Xi (Ren Chong), He Nan (He Gang), and He Bei (Du Chun). The first episode gets off with an bang. The eldest, our protagonist He Dong decides to dump Quan Zheng on the day they were to finalize thier marriage certificates (this is how they make marriages official in China). To make things worse, He Dong gives Quan Zheng a ridiculous excuse why they cannot get married. The fiancee is just as baffled as the audience. You want to do what? He Dong said he wanted to “revisit his youth”. Turns out, He Dong hasn’t been a happy camper these years after graduating from college and landing a good job. He was a guy, like many other youths in China, who had parents tell him what he should major in and determine the job that he should get to succeed in life. He didn’t have a choice. To dump his fiance, in his mind, was a way to rebel from his controlled life.

But…It’s not as easy as He Dong thinks it is to get rid of his filial obligations because OF COURSE mom and dad get mad. Plus ex-girlfriend isn’t over him yet, and tries to win He Dong back. Then our protagonist drops another bomb on the family. He Dong actually resigns from his cushy job as a civil servant to explore across China, beyond the life in Beijing. Meanwhile Xi, Nan, and Bei – his 3 younger cousins – all run into their own problems and want to “relive their youth” too. So all of them set off on a roadtrip and finding love along the way, they reach the southern port city of Shen Zhen where they began searching for the paths they truly want to take in their lives.

Reasons to Watch: What I like about this series is the juxapostion that Beijing Youth explores – ideal vs reality, normal vs crazy, love vs desire, filal obligations vs individual self, and finally, lighthearted vs philosophical. Du Chun and the rest of the leads each brought stellar performances to the table. Almost every character’s dialogue brilliantly fit their personality. If anything, the story is hilarious and witty!

It is fascinating that four cousins’ stories are related in some way, and take turns unfolding. Of course the ladies of this show are apart of the fun too! Quan Zheng (played by Ma Su) is He Dong’s ex-fiancee who doesn’t give up on him even though he pulls a douchebag move on her. Quan Zheng is a professor who is quite accomplished academically and careerwise. What I liked about her the most was her change from a clingy girlfriend to a powerhouse woman who can stand up for herself. Ma Su made the character development on the character well. I was rooting for Quan Zheng when she tries again and again to mend the gap between He Dong and herself. QZ grows on you as she changes herself, first for the sake of He Dong, then for herself.

He Xi, #2 cousin, has a complicated lovelife. At first he is enamoured of a gorgeous psychatrist with a past. She is Ding Xiang (played by Zhang Li). This icy princess type of girl continuously pushes him farther away, and he becomes entangled with a responsibility, which inevitably turns into love (abeit ambiguious), for another girl when he rescues her in Yantai, the capital of Shandong province, where the group stayed on their adventure. This second girl that He Xi meets is Ren Zhiliao (played by Wang Li Kun). Ren Zhi Liao has the mentality of a child after a traumatizing betrayal from her previous boyfriend, who is never shown on the show. He Xi takes sympathy on RZL, so he convinces the group to help take care of this girl while they embark on their roadtrip…

He Nan, #3 cousin. Are you keeping up? He Nan just came back from studying overseas in Canada (or was it America). This guy is pretty darn naive… about everything, girls, love, and business. He Nan is the creative cousin who designs a glorified walking cane. He wants to sell it and earn enough to make a living back in China, except he is swindled by many companies and fake representatives of companies. Devastated, he joins his cousins in their roadtrip. Meanwhile, his wealthy, Chinese-overseas “girl friend” Ye Tan (Zeng Yong Ti) who secretly likes He Nan.

Almost done!! Let me introduce He Bei, the youngest cousin, #4! His story is the funniest and I love his sense of sarcastic, little bro sense of humor. Whereas, his girlfriend, Tang Jiao (played by Yao Di) who is a character I initially despised the most. She is a very controlling girlfriend. Everytime her boyfriend He Bei does as much as talk to another girl, Tang Jiao gets crazy. Though, as you will see, Tang Jiao becomes more emotionally secure in the latter episodes, so she becomes a much likable character in the series.

My favorite characters are definitely all the “brothers”, fiancee Quan Zheng and mentally-unstable Ren Zhiliao. Ren Zhiliao’s character is so well-written and adds so much comedy to Beijing Youth! I just love her. Beijing Youth is an enlightening, growing-up story about Chinese youth trying to figure out their aims and life amidst everything else, ya know, pressures of society.

You can watch Beijing Youth on Youku, with little commercial interruption.

Here’s a quick review in Chinese:

“我的青春谁做主”的导演今年暑假再次带给中国的观众一个惊喜。“北京青年”已经变成我的最爱。无论是剧情或人物,非常出色!我们的主角绝对是亮点。他们就是我们可爱的4位堂兄弟。这个故事就讲关于80后的青年们,包括他们想要追求的人生道路还有理想。杜淳的’何老4‘还有 马苏的‘被摔的未婚妻’ 还有王丽坤演的‘神经病疯子’ – 都是“北京青年”里最佳的人物!最爱看他们了!我觉得这部连续剧远远比得过中国播出的都市电视剧。很有趣的台词,还让我看得满地打滚地大笑。你如果没有看,真是错过了好的!