The Rebel Princess – Episode 9 – Recap

[Previously: our heroine was kidnapped by flying ninjas, motives unknown–but her husband suspects that it’s aimed at him.]

XQ continues: if I’m the target, then she’s heading this way. He divides his forces and sends them out. And as for the guy (Xu Shou) who ordered them to do a parade?–the guy who knew she’d been taken and commands us to not go after her?

XQ says (and man, his quiet, soft voice is positively chilling here in the best possible way): entertain him well. Take very good care of him.

The sidekicks salute, beaming.

Meanwhile, A’Wu’s maidservant has gone to get Prince #3. This involves, unfortunately for him, leaving his house arrest. Oh, oh gosh. Looks like maidservant (Jin’er) has a crush on him, if her reaction to his giving her a cloak means anything. Hoooo boy.

So A’Wu’s kidnappers are sitting around discussing things. Their boss has ordered that she not be harmed. On the other hand, her being so pretty means that Xiaoye is going to torture her. Cue Xiaoye, who may or may not be a swordsgirl but definitely is someone to be careful around.

Back at home, Brother and Dad are carefully keeping the news from Mom. Brother puts on his very best face, but it’s hard on the poor boy.

And, at the kidnapping lair, the titular young master is….in bed in his underwear, being fed medicine by someone. Not an auspicious beginning. (Especially with Xiaoye, his intensely jealous female minion, still in the room.) He promptly throws XY out. A’Wu points out that a) he’s sick, b) he’s not going to kill ber, c) if he wants her to be useful, he’d better not harm her.

So this guy is from the Liupan Clan, and his grudge is against XQ because XQ wrongfully killed his family, it seems.

Back at the palace, the Emperor is awake and playing chess against himself. He’s not really in his right mind, though, it seems, and the Empress can’t get any useful help or information out of him. (He might be pretending.) She leaves, frustrated. (he is pretending, but the eunuch who is the spy for the Wangs hasn’t figured it out yet.)

A’Wu says: I heard that the Liupan had it coming when they broke their treaty oaths.

Liupan Guy promptly attempts to strangle her.

(outside, lol, one of the guys attempts to sidle up to XiaoYe, only to find a dagger in the way. She, however, is focused on her jealousy of A’Wu.)

Liupan Guy then collapses, with blood from the mouth. A’Wu grabs his knife, frees her hands, and climbs out a window. She gets to the horses, but at this point XY whacks her on the head with a stick and is about to do worse before the others catch up with them.

Empress Auntie does seem to be genuinely worried about A’Wu, because she’s asking Grand Vizier Dad for any news. He’s pieced together the information about the fake funeral/corpse, and that they are heading for the border (XQ’s territory).

Prince #2, meanwhile, has his finger in the pie to at least some degree. They think, or at least say: that Liupan Guy is working with the exiled Duke Xie and they’ll take out XQ. #2 is slightly worried at the fact that XQ dead means Xu Shou in control of the army, while he, Prince #2, still has no military support.

Meanwhile elsewhere, the Crown Prince is also upset about A’Wu being missing. He wants to issue a royal decree and mobilize massive forces, but all those old guys aren’t actually letting him. Wan’ru uses her feminine wiles to soothe and flatter him. Poor guy. He means well!

A’Wu is calm but defiant in the face of XY–which gets her a ladlefull of water to the face–but she merely goes ahead and continues to wash up anyway.

Back at the fort, some guy burns a message before XQ shows up to talk to him. XQ notices but says nothing. I’m guessing this is Xu Shou. He’s a peach.

Back at A’Wu, she’s meeting with Liupan Guy again. He thanks her for not killing him and then hits on her some more, just so she’s nice and sorry about the whole not-killing him thing. Outside, meanwhile, Liupan’s sidekicks finally hear enough that they get worried AKA jealous enough to try bursting in again. A’Wu is worried enough at this point that she’s thinking about trying the stabbing thing again. (She can’t go through with it).

XQ orders Sidekick to watch Xu Shou closely and not prevent him from doing anything. They are pretty strongly sure he’s involved.

A’Wu is still trying to keep Liupan Guy off of her, with little success. She finally tries the what would your mother think of this card, only to get slapped. But then she does stab him with her hairpin, so there’s that…..and then she threatens to kill herself and disrupt their plans that way.

The Emperor, meanwhile, confesses that despite his love for A’Wu, he’s willing to sacrifice her to save his son. And so he has…

Liupan Guy wants to change the plan, meanwhile: he wants A’Wu.

Meanwhile! The world’s most inept cavalry buy themselves a seat on a random peasant cart, rattling along to an eventual rescue.

A’Wu and Liupan Guy, meanwhile, have a bit of a chat in the carriage as they’re moving out. He’s doing this for his mother, you see…she’s dead.

AND HERE IS WHERE I STOP FOR THE NIGHT. MODERATION IN ALL THINGS, INCLUDING BINGE-WATCHING CHINESE DRAMAS, AMIRITE?

Memories of the Sword (2015) – Movie Review

memories_of_the_sword-p1So, Memories of the Sword is an attempt to put an entire twenty episodes’ worth of plot and drama and twists and emotion and grandiose sets and elaborate costumes into a two-hour movie. And it’s actually mostly successful. At least, it held my attention all the way through. Or at least, held parts of my attention from the background whilst I was, well, doing whatever it was I was doing that day.
(What day is it, anyway?)

Plot? It’s impossible to discuss, even in brief, without SPOILERS.

There’s this swordsgirl, and there’s her not-mother swordswoman who raised her as an instrument of vengeance to kill her father, oh wait he’s not her father (except that he totally is and her identity is faked down to the distinguishing scars on her back) and that is also her mother. She bumps into a handsome young swordsman who happens to work for not-Dad and they spar. I mean, with kung fu. Anyhow, why not-Dad has incurred the wrath of not-Mom is about eight episodes worth of plot in and of itself, and it’s really a mark of great skill and also enormous restraint on the filmmakers’ part that they restricted it to as concise and brief flashbacks as they have. Why he deserves killing in the present is mostly because he’s taken the “then let me be evil” path and is gunning for the throne itself. One of the things that could derail his plans–is the reappearance of a few people from his past. So Swordsgirl, as things proceed along their path, has a set of choices to make. Will she carry out a revenge in which she really has no part? Will she kill the woman who raised her or will she turn her back on everything she has been taught? Will she choose freedom, or will she choose duty? And what the hell is your duty, anyway, under circumstances like this?

Personally, I feel that killing absolutely everyone, setting the palace on fire, setting the city on fire, and walking off into the sunset with the flames at your back and a sword in your hand is a fine idea, but that might just be my biases speaking.

What I liked:27550676_memoriesofthesword_still3
– The fact that the young heroine was actually able to keep up with and inflict damage on the (conflicted and distraught and unarmored) villain, even after their connection was uncovered. Usually you don’t see girl heroes being able to actually win Fights To The Death For Vengeance. Vengeance is usually men’s business.
– I didn’t see the final twist (an actual spoiler): that Hong-yi the dead swordsman’s daughter is actually Sul-hee the live swordwoman’s daughter, just because the logic behind it is bonkers but, y’know. Kdramas.
– Actually the heroine was quite good, both from the characterization standpoint–starting out as a happy-go-lucky swordsgirl to whom Bad Things Happen, but who manages to a) retain her personality, b) stay consistent within that personality, c) accomplish her goals–and from the fact that she starts out quite badass, continues her training and becomes more so, and then fights the villain on almost equal footing and ends up defeating him. Oh, and she outfights her putative love interest, too. Oh, and the young-love story was kept to a minimum and did not overpower the rest of the plot, which was nice.
– I did like the villain, surprisingly enough. Most Kdrama villains are Evil with a capital Moustache Twirl. This one was just conflicted and self-hating enough to be sympathetic, effective enough to be admirable (well, aside from killing random craftsmen and their familes), and he was charismatic enough that it made sense people (such as Love Interest Kid) would prefer to work for him rather than Other People In Silly Hats. And also, pretty badass.
And also good-looking.

Note: Effing WordPress will not allow me to insert the effing picture where I freaking want it to go. You’ll have to take my word for it on the last one.

– Oh, and the colors/shots/scenes were very pretty.

What I didn’t like was:
– The Koreans just can’t do fight scenes all that well, or at least they’ve been severely not up to snuff in the last few movies and all of the dramas I’ve seen. They rely heavily on slow-mo and have very simplistic choreography and fixed cameras. The pace of the movie tends to slow down around these scenes, too, which are too-obviously intended to show that the hero Is Cool, watch him kick ass (very, very slowly). That said, the other cinematographologic (or whatever the word is) fixation with pretty faces and pretty costumes and pretty colors almost makes up for it. Not quite, though.
– That’s about it. It’s not half bad.

Rated: Blood on the snow. Lots of blood on the snow. Continue reading “Memories of the Sword (2015) – Movie Review”

The Song of Glory – Episode 4 Recap

SoGe4 So we start off in the throne room at a meeting, and they’ve just gotten to the “Any Other Business? No, good, because I need a drink, anyone else up?” part when someone actually does come up with some other business. To whit: the stuff with the military stuff last episode. So the army ordered three boats’ worth of arrowheads, but somehow five boats turned up.

Lord Lu eyeing the guy who said it, heh.

It’s a ruse. They’re pinning the blame on the guy in charge of the armory–the one who immediately spilled the beans on Lord Lu!–and trying to take the heat off LL so he’ll relax, or something. Right? Well, that’s Prince Peng Chang’s plan, it seems like but–Oh, no, HAH–Hat Guy says that Lord Lu is involved also!

Lord Lu steps up and proclaims his innocence and implies that Hat Guy probably tortured a confession out of him.

Pai Ruhai (framed guy) is dragged in. He appears to have been tortured.

LOL IT WAS LORD LU’S MEN WHO SWITCHED THE GUARDS AND BEAT THE STUFFING OUT OF HIM.

The Young Prince steps in to say that they should interrogate PR later, and punish Lord Lu now.

Lord Lu very reasonably says: exactly how just is is it to convict and fire a man based on zero testimony or evidence?

Sooooooooooo instead of firing Lord Lu, PR’s family is going to be executed to three generations. JUSTICE HAS BEEN DONE. (It hasn’t. It really hasn’t.) Hat Guy and, I dunno, Other Hat Guy, look dissatisfied. Lord Lu looks smug.

Prince Peng Chang is facing off with him, but then some military guy comes in–

OK. So, Pointy Chin Guy’s father was an army general, right? Well, he’s just won a great victory and is coming home in triumph.

Prince Peng Chang says: Nice. Also, in order that Lord Lu doesn’t slip up again with so much on his mind, we’ll give Pointy Father the Ministry of Defense job. Peace out (cough, cough.)

Outside, everybody is kind of hyped that Lord Lu has been taken down a peg, including Young Prince. But then Lord Lu ambles over to him and asks what he thinks of the theater performance they just witnessed. He’s happy, he says! Lord Lu says: brothers kill brothers who are too forward and ambitious. The Young Prince says: neener neener. Lord Lu says: I’m trying to play nice here.

So, back in the House of Pointy, I am never going to think of this woman as a heartwarming motherly figure, and why is LiGe hanging on to her arm like she’s an octegenarian who can’t walk? She’s not, she can just fine. The woman is mentally unstable to react the way she has and it’s creepy. You know nothing of this girl , you don’t even really know she’s your daughter, and you’re throwing away the kids–the daughter–that you actually have raised and that you do know. She makes Not Sister Girl give LiGe her makeup. Sheeeeeeeesh. Like, I get the rest of the family being welcoming because they’re also slightly reserved and suspicious, too. I get Not Sister being jealous–because HER MOTHER is pushing her down HARD in favor of a girl who just showed up who is sullen and unfriendly and unresponsive–but still trying to be kind and friendly. I do not get the mother’s reaction to this, I don’t get why no one else finds anything wrong with it, and she creeps me out.

OK, back to the people I do like. Lord Lu Senior is upset they lost the Defense Minister position, because that meant money. Lord Lu Junior says: it’s not a big deal.

Green Sidekick comes in to report that Pointy Father has, however, been cleaning house. All of their people have been removed.

Lu Senior says: it’s kind of weird that Prince Peng Chang is starting to throw his weight around now, isn’t it?

Lu Junior Says: Let’s go check on our prisoner.
…He has one of the assassin girls there!–he switched her with a dead body and brought her there. She hasn’t said a word yet, though….except to swear that she’s going to kill him. He shows her LiGe’s mask and crossbow and asks about that person….fade to black. That was unsatisfying.

I would prefer a nice villain monologue, or if he was able to Break Them By Talking. That would be badass.

Outside, LiGe is shopping and blah blah, a (fake) injustice happens in front of her. And, OH. Prince Peng Chang (with his fake moustache) wanders up. He recognizes LiGe as the assassin girl. LiGe is calmly dealing with the situation, but Peng Chang nee Boat Guy comes over to enact a wholly unneeded “rescue.” LiGe ignores him. so he has to take desperaste measures (grabbing her wrist and dragging her away, which as we all know is a sure sign of true love and romance.) Needless to say, gah, ugh, I DO NOT ACTUALLY LIKE THIS ROMANCE OR THIS GUY. I LIKE LORD LU.

Heh, she tells him to stop stalking her or she’ll beat him up. I DON”T CAAAAAARE. Also there has been a complete lack of stylish kung fu and our heroine killing people lately. I AM HIGHLY DISAPPOINTED.

Ok, so meanwhile. The Young Prince is out at a pavillion somewhere. And there’s a GIRL there! playing a dulcimer. Young Prince quotes poetry at her and she beams. And then they bow at each other. And they chat about how they both seem to be in a good mood today. And then they have a drink together. BOOOOOOORING.

OK, meanwhile. Back in the palace, Prince Peng Chang is drinking tea with his mother (mother? he calls her Mother Consort and says she’s saved him and his mother?)–she brought him medicine, and the servants look very shifty. But she’s also wondering about what’s up with Lord Lu. Is it because of that whole assassination thing?

So Lord Lu is her nephew on the maternal side. Prince Peng Chang says: of course I haven’t got anything against him, it’s just I was making sure he paid for an actual mistake. How could I do anything to my own relative? Mother Consort smiles and goes “Huh.”

Meanwhile, Pointy General Father is riding into town in triumph. Not-Mom is hovering over LiGe, who is getting her hair done. Not-Sister has arranged matters: LiGe is going to sing/dance/whatever (a song, we point out, that Not-Sister wrote), for Pointy Father at the banquet. Not-Sister is being entirely too cheerful and kind….I have suspicions.

So Pointy Father arrives at home, only to be attacked at the door by Little Brother. Without much success. Dad disarms and then compliments him. But overall, he’s also very anxious to meet his new/returned daughter.

Not-Sister leads LiGe out, all dressed up, and is promptly ignored by Dad as well. You know, I’m not even going to blame this girl when she betrays them all.

OH GOSH THIS IS SOOOOOOOO FREAKING UNCOMFORTABLE. Yowch.

Fortunately, The Young Prince arrives. He’s got a nice big sign that says “Pointy General Is An Important Person!” (Not literal translation.) More importantly, he recognizes LiGe.

So, with an oddly not-smooth transition, the next cut is Young Prince walking somewhere else, alone, and a piece of paper falls down in front of him. LiGe dropped it, because she’s walking by with a dulcimer. She gets directly to the point: why did you help me?
He says: I ain’t like Lord Lu. I’m a prince! I’m a good guy!
She says: It has nothing to do with the family. I only joined the family recently. My grudge against Lord Lu is personal.
The Young Prince says: I’ll keep that in mind. BTW, are you ever going to assassinate anyone other than Lord Lu?

(Huh?)

One thing I have to say: the actress really is gorgeous, and the lighting/costumes/sets/her are really, really filmed to perfection.

So anyway, Not Sister is being faced with another round of My Family Is Ignoring Me In Favor Of Some Girl Who Just Showed Up (and is playing a song I WROTE for MY dad).

But, heh, LiGe breaks the dulcimer string on the first note. HAH. And then she walks over and slaps Not Sister. Eh? She is claiming that Not Sister taught her the wrong song?–instead of “Crane Song”, it was “Ghost Song,” something which would surely hurt Hysterical Idiot Mom (BWAH, AT LEAST SOMEONE RECOGNIZED IT), and thence get her, LiGe, in trouble. Oh, BTW, The Young Prince was the one who warned me about it!

The Young Prince backs her up, because of course he does.

Not Sister defends herself: after EVERYTHING that she’s put up with for the sake of her new sister and all the things that the family has been doing to her, has she yet done anything to LiGe? And indeed, it looks like she hasn’t, because the music score was “Crane Song” after all.

Not Sister says: Daaaaaaad something is going on here and it’s weird and wrong.

Pointy Chin agrees.

But The Young Prince says: Hey, uh, she was with me. She was, uh, saving some bullied children!

LiGe pulls out one of the maidservants and accuses her of switching the music score. And threatens her with a scorpion….

OK, I’m done. These people are stupid, boring, unrealistic, morons, and the plot I liked–KILL PRINCE PENG CHANG! BROTHERHOOD! LOYALTY! ASSASSINS!–has ground to a halt. I’d be happy if the hysterical moronic mother died. I’d be happy if it really was Not Sister who was trying to murder people. I’d be estatic if the heroine did murder someone, because she’s A TOUGH ASSASSIN BABE HELLO THIS IS HER JOB.

I may check a few more of the later episodes, but this is officially a pass for me, now. What can I say? I don’t like the hero, because he has done nothing that gains my interest or sympathy. I do like the villain, because he has done nothing that hasn’t gained my interest or sympathy, and he was also really badass in the first episode. I did like the heroine when she was a tough assassin babe running around DOING THINGS. I liked the plot when it seemingly had a direction and there were people like Eyepatch Guy who had duplicitious motives and hidden agendas. And I do not like the Pointy Family because they creep me out.

ERGH. DO I HAVE TO WRITE THE THINGS I WANT ALL BY MYSELF?

The Song of Glory – Ep 3 – CDrama Recap

songofglory3sc

I’ve got to say, I’m losing interest fast, here. We start off with almost ten bloody minutes of Li Ge the Heroine having her Mom Lady hovering over her, Not-Sister Girl being slightly jealous but hanging on to her smile gamely, and Heroine feeling weird and guilty about it all. So…I skipped ahead.

OK, so: Pointy Chin Guy (LiGe’s possibly-not? older brother) has been given the order to go somewhere and do something. SIR YES SIR! Something’s gonna happen, and that’s exciting enough for me!

Back at the house, Miss Not Sister is trying not to let it get to her. She’s been made to fetch snacks for her not-Big Sister, but LiGe is somehow gone. How mysterious.

Somewhere else, Assassin Big and Little Bros are running a pharmacy/medicine shop thingy and also passing messages to people? I wish the subbers would translate the written messages, too, y’know, ’cause that note looked important. She’s gone to check out the situation, but isn’t happy to hear that they should be leaving soon–without accomplishing a) the mission, or b) vengeance.

Meh, you guys are pretty useless, you should just go and do something somewhere else.

Assassin Big Brother isn’t interested in helping with b), since they have more important things to do (assassinate Prince Peng Chang.) LiGe demands information on Lu Yuan, and stomps out when he doesn’t. Turns out, he was supposed to be helping her infiltrate the family (you know, that family), but for some reason he doesn’t tell her that this is the official plan.

Assassin Little Brother makes sure that his Assassin Big Sis doesn’t leave without her medicines (and the wrapping paper…with a nice note on it).

Back at the house, Miss Not Sister actually sees LiGe come sneaking back into the house (for a given value of “sneak,” AKA SHE FLIES IN OVER THE BLOODY ROOF IN BROAD DAYLIGHT.) Anyhow, they also get to watch Pointy Chin Guy showing up with a treat for his possibly-lil-Sis. He also offers to spar with her sometime. I don’t really get why the family all fired hung up on this girl, and for her part, LiGe is incredibly low-key and nonresponsive towards them. It’s just…weird. I mean…I mean, establishing a relationship with her, fine. Moving her into your house, making your other daughter move out of her rooms, and being alllllllll over her as much as they are? Creepy and overbearing. Seriously.

Anyhow, that night at the place where Some People Are About To Do Something….there’s a guy on a barge peeking out through a window, an imperial prince standing off to the side, and then Pointy Chin Guy and his men march by and arrest someone. Huh?

OK, so this prince is one of the ones who thinks that Something Must Be Done! About Lord Lu! While his older brother, Prince Peng Chang, just keeps coughing and reassuring him, lol. Prince Do Something is disappointed.

OK, so, at the docks, Lord Lu’s Green Sidekick has shown up and is waiting for their buyer.

So.

On the barge. LiGe bumps into the guy who was peering out the window and ends up putting a knife to his throat. He seems to be investigating Lord Lu, too. Meanwhile, some boats are poling their way up river (it’s a traaaaaaaaap….)

Boat Guy is somewhat snarky. Is…is that Peng Chang with a fake moustache?

Meanwhile, Lord Lu is somewhere else by himself, being smug. But he stops being quite so smug when he hears that their contact got arrested and Green Sidekick is being detained at the docks by the Minister of Justice, or at least by some guy who stole his hat.

Lord Lu strolls up before Green Sidekick attacks Hat Guy. LiGe ducks down (basically into Boat Guy’s lap and definitely on Boat Guy’s foot. And yes, it is Peng Chang.) Lord Lu threatens Justice Hat Guy and stroooooolls off.

LiGe triggers her trap! She dumps all the cargo into the water! And then launches herself at Lord Lu! FIGHT SCENE! YAYYYYYY
noo just fight shut up and fight.
GREEN SIDEKICK THROWS HIS BOSS A SWORD WOOOO Loyal sidekicks are the best!

Lord Lu is just about as good as she is, though, so they just end up kicking each other into walls, and then his men start shooting. But then she kicks him through an awning and Sidekick pins her arm to the wall with an arrow and then the rest of them start shooting in earnest so she has to make an escape, stage left, pursued.

Boat Guy is watching from his hold. And, yes, it was Prince Peng Chang. DUH, GAH.

Meanwhile, the other prince guy is heading home in a coach and LiGe collapses on the road, black hat with assassin veil and all. For some reason, his guards let him trot over and go “Miss?” at her. AAAAAND FOR SOME REASON HE PICKS HER UP AND TAKES HER INTO HIS COACH?

So, when a very pissed-off Lord Lu and his men arrive two seconds later, there is no trace of the assassiness. The Prince Guy is also suddenly extreeeeeemely drunk, but Lord Lu doesn’t really buy it. Prince Guy also lets Lord Lu search the carriage….it’s empty…and Lord Lu continues having the same smug/annoyed face the entire time, so I’m not sure what the point of all this was.

Turns out they stashed her in a random box off to the side of the road, heh.

But LiGe wakes up in the coach and LOL THE PRINCE JUST ASKS HER IF SHE’S THERE TO ASSASSINATE LU YUAN. PWAH. She promises to repay and skins out, almost collapsing but making it anyway.

Prince Guy is inspired by her example! (nice.)

Back at Assassin Medicine Hall, Little Assassin Bro is kneeling in punishment and Big Bro doesn’t really have much to say anyway. He says that instead of focusing on the low-level hoodlums, she should be looking at the big fish ((WHOM SHE CAN’T POSSIBLY KILL ALL ON HER OWN.)) Totally inaccurate, BTW. This scene was kind of weak.

OH GOSH. OK, I’m officially in love with the villain. He’s just so much more interesting than the others! I DON’T KNOW WHY?! He’s barely even a villain! He hasn’t done anything! He’s an underdog! If you gave this plot a slight tweak he could easily end up as the romantic lead! Really! (He’s also getting his wounds tended.) I think it’s just because his actor is just that much better/more charismatic than the heroes?

Anyhow, Green Sidekick comes in to report his total and utter failure, because sidekick. Lord Lu then inquires about their weapons dealer guy. Green Sidekick thinks they’re going to be OK, but Lord Lu recognizes that they are in a bad spot, because a) their weapons dealer is in jail, b), who exactly gave the justice minister the guts to go up against the Lu Family?

Cut to: Weapons Dealer Guy getting interrogated by the Prince Peng Chang.

AAAAaaaaaand he spills it immediately. Pwah. And also that was weirdly easy.

So LiGe is running over the rooftops and stumbles across Peng Chang leaving wherever it was that he was leaving (it’s the family house, OK, OHHHHH, he’s using their house as a secure base?) And she gets inside, only to be immediately attacked by Little Family Bro. Little Not-Sis also shows up immediately. Everyone wants to know where she’s been….

…because Mom Lady got worried she’d run off, and fainted. Wow, manipulative much?

Pointy Chin Big Brother shows up, and is, of course, not happy to hear that his new sister’s disappearance triggered this state of affairs. Also, LiGe has a scratch on her hand. Also, Little Bro testifies about her martial arts skills. Pointy Chin Big Brother has Questions.

Fortunately, Mom Lady wakes up (but isn’t happy that Not Little Sis is the one at her bedside.) She shoves her away and runs over to LiGe. What the hell, people? No, seriously, what the f*ck? No one is acting like a normal person in any of this situation?! This family is kind of seriously creeping me out.

Mom Lady gives a tearful speech to Pointy Chin Big Brother about not trusting his sister (oh if only you knew), because she’s his sister damnit (oh if oooooonly you knew) and they should stand with her! (Gah.) And reasssures LiGe that Mom will be on her side.
Not Little Sister watches with dissatisfaction.

CDrama review – The Legends – This one was AWESOME

poster2bthe2blegends[Note: I haven’t finished this one yet…I’m slow-rolling the last couple of episodes because once I finish watching it, then it’ll be done and there won’t be any more. This one is good and I like it. Also, since I read some detailed spoilers, I’m cutting it off at about episode 30 as advised instead of following it all the way to the end. Nothing is going to ruin it like An Oriental Odyssey was ruined.]

So this one! This one is really good! It’s got a female lead who kicks ass and doesn’t bother with the names and by episode four she’s taken over the jiang hu world and taken her reven–wait, what? Huh? How many episodes is this thing?! That’s one heck of a timeskip and an evilness upgrade for the fourth episode when five minutes ago she was saving someone because it’s the right thing to do!

But, although abrupt, it’s still understandable and at least doesn’t waste our time dragging out Zhaoyao’s fall to the dark side. Being naive and kind person who is brutally betrayed in every way possible by someone you trusted and admired and were a bit in love with–and then being made a permanent pariah because you were doing what you knew damn well was right and what you also thought they’d understand if it was honestly explained to them–oh, and then having your beloved Grandpa killed before your eyes after he rescues you from being tortured by the guy you were naively but happily in love with…well, it’s understandable.

So: the heroine = Lu Zhaoyao, whose family hereditarily guards the Demon King’s Son who has been locked in a cave until his father can come back and cure him (but disappeared without a trace centuries ago); the guy who betrays her = the Golden Immortal, who breaks into said cave in order to kill the demon prince on the FAULTLESS LOGIC that someone who literally has never done anything wrong or been able to leave his cave might someday escape and then do bad things, which would be bad. Golden Immortal does not succeed in killing the kid. In fact, all he ends up doing is letting the kid out of the cave. Great job. Zhaoyao and her grandfather aren’t particularly mad about this–mostly they’re glad to get off the mountain into the regular world. She’s especially excited about being able to go visit Golden Immortal at his own place, but gets a little sidetracked after finding out that the jiang hu sects have captured the kid (Chenlan) and are planning to execute him.

Chenlan has literally never harmed anybody or anything. He’s been locked in a cave his entire life. He’s the definition of innocent. Zhaoyao might be new to jiang hu, but don’t heroes protect the innocent? So she shows up, and in one ultra-badass scene, beats up everybody who stands in her way and gets to walk away with him….that day. The next day, everyone in the world is coming after them (necessitating more thrashings). It might bear mentioning at this point that Zhaoyao has won the utter and undying adoration of Chenlan and his entire heart and soul. Y’know, because it’s plot relevant.

So a number of random ambushes later, Zhaoyao is getting tired of being chased around. She decides to go see her friend the Golden Immortal to explain things and get everything straightened out.

Yeah…

Anyhow, after the timejump, our heroine is now The Most Powerful person in jiang hu, but at the expense of her earlier kind and chipper personality. She steals candy from little kids now (literally, LOL). Oh, and slaughters a room full of people who were trying to assassinate her. (Badass.)

Pride goeth before a fall, however, as she is ambushed while trying to retrieve the fabled Wanjun Sword and mortally wounded. The last thing she sees before going under is Chenlan (whom she’s more or less forgotten about in her quest for revenge and power) claiming it instead. She doesn’t get to see him desperately digging through the rubble for her, or attempting to commit suicide when he can’t find her, or entirely excavating the cave over the next five years in search of her missing body.

Her body’s missing because…?….So there’s another timeskip, of five years, before Zhaoyao wakes up in an ice cave somewhere else. Our heroine ends up sharing the appearance of Wimpy Chick, whose father has been killed by {plot relevant happenings related to the Golden Immortal} and who joins the Wan Lu sect to seek revenge.

Speaking of the Wan Lu Sect: Chenlan has taken over leadership. AND HE’S LITERALLY TURNED THEIR SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES AHAHAHA, much to the disgust of the more martially-minded sect members and to Zhaoyao’s utter horror when she returns. (He’s put up a cenotaph for her. It’s blank. She’s more outraged that he couldn’t even put carve the few words, “Lu Zhaoyao, Supreme Demoness of Wan Lu Sect, Invincible in Heaven and Earth.” HEHHHHHH.)

Also, Zhaoyao has lost her kung fu powers (OF COURSE SHE HAS CDRAMAS HATE POWERFUL WOMEN GRHH! OK quick note: she’s lost her powers but not her skill. Her skill level is noted as being comparable to Chenlan’s….but without power to back it up she can’t do squat.) However! There is a solution. She can go to the Land of Sojourn and get a Recovery Pill to rapidly return her kung fu. Problem: the currency in the Land of Sojourn is “good deeds.” Remember all that candy-stealing? Yeah, also with all the murder and revenge and casually bullying Wimpy Chick and everybody else on Planet Jiang Hu, turns out she only gets 10% credit for each good deed. Also! The 100 coins she’s earned by being a magical-medical research guinea pig (lol) come with the side effect of turning her invisible by day. (This turns out to be useful, since Zhaoyao and Wimpy Chick have about 180* opposite personalities, and it’s hard to get stuff out of Li Chenlan if you’re abjectly terrified of him. But, on the other hand, Zhaoyao is completely intimidated by Wimpy’s Hot Uncle, so…)

…aaaaand, thing is, “doing good deeds” doesn’t come all that easily to Demoness Lu Zhaoyao, Invincible in Heaven and Earth, even with most of the effort farmed out to Wimpy Chick. (LOL)

But, slowly–and with most of it predicated on dragging Wimpy out of whatever trouble she and her really irritating boyfriend get into–our heroine gets back into the swing of being a hero. Mostly.

Zhaoyao blames Chenlan for her death, but needs to up her inner power by a couple orders of magnitude before she’s able to take him on. Meanwhile, the peace of jiang hu is being threatened by a new player on the scene: Red Murder Guy, who is enough of a nuisance that Chenlan joins forces with Wimpy Chick’s Hot Uncle to take him down. They don’t, but they do force him underground. Now, Hot Uncle turns out to a) be a pretty decent person with a mostly-pure heart, b) have his own reasons for wanting Red Murder Guy taken care of. (Red also develops a crush on Zhaoyao, which is hilarious because they have the exact same personality and also because Chenlan keeps interfering.)

Chenlan, as we mentioned, utterly adored Zhaoyao, and is actually pretty quick on the uptake to recognize that she’s returned. And he knows she blames him and that she’s planning/actively trying to kill him. And he….accepts this totally. ‘Cuz he loves her and never expected to live a long life, anyway. Not the most realistic of reactions, but in context and with these actors, it works. Also, the fact that she keeps failing miserably at the whole murder thing is pretty funny. Now, the Viki commenters were utterly enamored of the actor (Xu Kai); he’s OK. I’m guessing they chose a baby-faced guy to make him less threatening when he does have a position of power re the heroine. So, that’s fine.

(I’d like to praise the two female leads more: Bai Lu as Zhaoyao and Shane Yan asĀ both Zhaoyao and Wimpy Chick utterly nail their roles and are great.)

Anyhow, meanwhile, we learn why Wimpy Chick’s father died: there’s this Evil Bitch who wanted to use his blood to resurrect/waken the Golden Immortal dude, who, AHAHAHA, Zhaoyao killed on their wedding day. It didn’t work, so she’s going to settle for either Wimpy’s–and when this falls through due to their agent ending up with Zhaoyao’s blood instead–she decides on using Uncle’s. But getting blood from a powerful Taoist master is very different than getting it from a wimpy girl with weak kung fu. And thence falls plot and schemes galore.

Oh, oh, ooooh, and! There’s an actual epic battle! It’s hugely low-budget and mostly CGI, but it’s an actual epic battle, it has actual high stakes, there is solid emotional investment in heroes we love defeating enemies we hate, suspense regarding the characters we kinda like who are under mind control, our heroes are actually in credible danger and fighting for their lives, and their victory recognized as an awesome win by both them and their enemies and random passers-by. And they look very cool while doing it AND THEY WIN. Mind blown. It was really seriously epic. Maaan, I want to watch that episode again. It was cool. Oh, oh, oh! And! They do it while they’re both depowered and/or badly injured! I REALLY WANT TO SEE ZHAOYAO AND CHENLAN TAKE ON THE REST OF JIANG HU WHEN THEY’RE AT FULL POWER. Please, please, please let that be the finale. Ohmygosh I’d love that so much.

And that’s up to about episode twenty-fiveish, so that’s what I’ve got. I love the heroine being a ruthless badass (who is being forced to soften up into a ruthless but righteous badass instead); I like the hero being stoic and tremendously powerful and also putty in the heroine’s hands….not that she actually realizes it at first. I really like Red Murder Guy, even though he eats human souls for strength, just because he’s such a hilariously dense psychopath who has marvelous chemistry with everyone else. I even like Wimpy Chick–her actress does a really great job portraying both a wimpy girly-girl and a smirking, ultra-confident badass. Oh, and the Hot Uncle is hot, especially since he seems to be a genuinely good good guy. You can talk about your bad boys, but there ain’t nothing better than a good guy who can kick ass and be serene while doing so.

OH! [edit from episode 28,] there’s also Zhaoyao’s other sidekick, “Seventeen,” whom she raised and taught kung fu. Seventeen is also a hilarious and awesome character, because she’s a cheerful hellraiser who fights hard and loves doing it. Also: “I can’t believe she actually molested my uncle.” “Oh. Seventeen doesn’t know the difference between men and women. I raised her but I forgot to teach her about that.” AHAHAHAHA.

Anyhow, some commentary. The thing is: it’s actually pretty morally gray here, since the Wan Lu sect is comprised of self-admittedly vicious people who are redeemed only by their adherence to a creed (Zhaoyao defined it as “NOT BEING A F*CKING HYPOCRITE,”), while of the other “righteous” sects, there are individuals who seem reasonable and moral…but they’re all insufferably self-righteous and stuck-up. (It needs to also be pointed out that there are a lot of happy-go-lucky slash fairly bad but not if you put them up against a common enemy-type guys who liked Zhaoyao and agreed with her way of doing things, i.e., “some people just need killing.”)

The only one who seems actually morally sound is Wimpy Chick’s Handsome Uncle, who stays out of jiang hu politics but is willing to work with the Wan Lu sect against Red Hair Murder Guy. Point being, it’s not a black and white issue of which Sect is good and which is evil. The Immortal Sect people are vile because they’re hypocritical and dishonest; the Wan Lu Sect is good not because they are righteous but because they actually keep to their words and their creed. (There’s a chilling scene where Red Murder Guy gives a squad of Wan Lu mooks the option to kill each other and let one go free. Instead of slaughtering their brothers, they all kill themselves–depriving him of his next meal. It doesn’t sound very nice, but it’s pretty awesome in context).

So: Watch this one (but stop at episode 30)! It’s got a kickass heroine and a hilarious plot and epic battles and some gooey romance, and it’s really good.

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Random notes:
– Thirsty Viki commenters = pretty infuriating. It’s amazing how quickly people turned against Zhaoyao when she started going after their imaginary boyfriend; but their constant nicknaming characters is also very funny. I’m a fan of Buddha Daddy myself…
– Wan Lu Sect mooks gossipping about the boss’s game technique = gold. “We can pick up girls and then we can go kill bugs with them!”
– The “Death God’s Enemy” physician being pissed that Chenlan might die and ruin his reputation = awesome. The physician swearing that he’ll cut his own hand off if Chenlan disobeys his orders again and requires saving = hilarious. (AND THEN FACING THE FACT THAT HE MIGHT HAVE TO ACTUALLY GO THROUGH WITH IT?!!!!) And getting mad because his not-girlfriend is taking prescription medicines from a different doctor? I love this guy.
– The Death God’s Enemy physician was a pretty cool character, overall. Giving minor characters actual personalities and interesting character arcs (even if most of them revolve around romances) is always a winning move.
– Red Murder Guy keeping his buddies safe from a hallucination-cave….by literally tying them on leashes. “Woah boys, woah.”
– Red Murder Guy trying to write a letter to Zhaoyao. “Guys, help me out. What can I write to make me look cool and impressive and still communicate my feelings of fondness for her?” (beat) “…without sounding desperate.” And then BOTH OF THEM END UP DELEGATING THEIR SIDEKICKS TO WRITE THEM POEMS LOOOOL.
– AND THEN CHENLAN STARTS INTERCEPTING THEIR COMMUNICATIONS AHAHAHA
– UNTIL HE GETS MAD AND THEN JUST SHOOTS THE MESSENGER PIDGEON LOOOOOL
– “How much do you love me?” “More than eagles love the sky. More than horses love the prairies.”
– Zhaoyao’s initial efforts to do good deeds failing utterly miserably….in no small part because Red Murder Guy is “helping.” AHAHAHAHA
– Zhaoyao’s reunion with her South Hill Master/her former right-hand man, is touching and meaningful even when she hasn’t realized that he knows who she is and that he’s asking her for forgiveness. He blames himself for her death, since he had information about the ambush but was unable to warn her due to being involved in a tragic romance and getting both his legs broken and his lover dead at the time….
– Lu Seventeen. Just Lu Seventeen. Girl is awesome and hilarious.
– There’s a scene where Chenlan is convinced he’s going to have to go rescue Zhaoyao and Wimpy–using his powers, which he’s not supposed to, has been consistently doing in defiance of doctor’s orders, and been making his injuries steadily worse–while the doctor, doctor’s assistant, and his chief bodyguard all beg him to take his medicine first instead…and then he discovers that the girls have managed to get themselves back just fine on their own. That was kind of satisfying.

Rated: More than horses love the prairies.

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