My New Fair Princess, remake Sang Putri Huan Zhu

Well, it’s kinda a little bit late considering this one already made in 2011 dan sejak Chinese mode nya on lagi akhirnya baru tahu ada remake ini. Thanks to internet, bisa nonton yang ada English sub nya.

Left to right: Yungchi, Hsiao Yence, Cewei, Erkang in the 2011 My New Fair Princess

Left to right: Yungchi, Hsiao Yence, Cewei, Erkang in the 2011 My New Fair Princess

Versi remake ini pastinya lebih bagus dari segi efek dan sinematografi dari versi yang 1998 nya. Di episode-episode awal masih enjoy nontonnya. Setelah masuk episode belasan mulai agak bingung karena beberapa karakter yang di versi awal baru nongol di bagian kedua, di versi yang ini tiba-tiba udah nongol. Seperti Putri Qing’er yang udah nongol padahal Cewei belum buka rahasia soal jati dirinya yang sebenarnya putri Sang Kaisar.

Makin jauh episodenya, makin mix disana-sini. Ditambah lagi di versi ini ibunya Yungchi diceritakan masih hidup, sedangkan di versi 1998 Yungchi sudah ditinggalkan ibunya dari sejak kecil. Itulah yang membentuk dirinya di versi awal jadi sosok yang pendiam dan lebih fokus jadi a great prince. Dan yang lebih membuat miris adalah konfliknya lebih complicated. Well, you can imagine when your step mom, your future mother-in-law along with your step dad pair your love one with another woman. I don’t think I can take that if I have a situation like Xiao Yan Zi’s in this version. Dan juga scene antara Yungchi dan ibunya and how she threats Yungchi with being his mother and all, it’s a little bit close to home for me. Awalnya mau nonton sampai habis 98 episode, tapi lama-lama jadi ilfill.

Dan juga ada orang Inggris disini, Benjamin, yang aslinya juga namanya Benjamin. I’ve tried to google who he really is, but it’s hard. Si bule Benjamin ini amazingly lancer banget Chinese nya dan kadang dia bicara dengan English juga. Walaupun rada absurd ada bule di serial ini, tapi jika melihat sejarah, memang di era itu western sudah masuk ke China dan era Putri Huan Zhu ini sepertinya era dimana saat-saat jelang akhir dari dinasti kekaisaran disana.

Yungchi, Hsiao Yence, and Benjamin

Yungchi, Hsiao Yence, and Benjamin

Memang sih lebih bagus, tapi plotnya yang acak kadul, genrenya yang lebih komedi dibanding versi aslinya, dan chemistry cast nya yang banyak missed, jadi mengurangi banyak poin dari serial ini. Kelebihannya hanya di serial ini para pasangannya lebih eskpresif mengungkapkan cinta dibanding versi yang dulu. Saya pribadi lebih banyak skip nya liat versi yang ini, disamping gak tega liat Hsiao Yan Zi yang nelangsa terus dan Yungchi yang gak bisa say no ke ibunya, beberapa elemen yang krusial di versi awal malah gak diceritain.

Awalnya saya mengharapkan versi yang ini bisa lebih baik dari versi yang pertama (setidaknya seperti Pendekar Rajawali yang sudah diremake berulang-ulang dengan tetap pada cerita awal hanya efek dan sinematografi yang diperbarui), tapi cuma kecewa yang saya dapat. Yang namanya remake jadi benar-benar remake. Saya sampai gak kenal lagi sama Hsiao Yence yang dulu sangat saya suka.

Well, sepertinya saya balik ke pendapat awal untuk lebih memilih yang versi 1998. And a little bit suggestion for whomever who wants to make a reboot or whatever, please stick to the original one instead making a new one. It’s kind of confusing and disappointing, you know.

Between Entertainment and Religion

Since the beginning of this year, there are at least two movies which surprise all the moviegoers and also public. A movie called ‘Noah’ starred by Russell Crowe had a lot of critics not only from moviegoers, but also from the religious leaders.

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I’ve seen Noah movie and I must say it’s not really my cup of tea although it has some major plots according to some religion bibles, not to mention how he builds his ark. Even my country forbids this movie to show in theaters, but thanks to internet, I can get a peek on it.

After Noah, there’s Exodus: Gods and Kings, starring Christian Bale. Mr. Bale has good reputation in all the characters he played (even being Bruce Wayne) and in this movie he plays the Moses. Unlike Noah, this movie already showed in my country, but I haven’t watched it yet. According to some online reviews I’ve read, majority like the movie. Some major histories from the religion bibles are reportedly shown in this movie; probably including Moses rives the Red Sea.

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Surprsingly, after Noah and Moses, and now it’s Isa the Prophet or the Christians called Jesus. This movie will be starred by Ewan McGregor and already in production. According the news, it will be showed in Sundance. I think it’s not for commercial.

Ewan McGregor as Jesus in 'Last Days in The Desert'

Ewan McGregor as Jesus in ‘Last Days in The Desert’

Aside from those three movies, there is also a TV series called ‘King Suleiman’ and it will be aired in my local channel. We all know who Suleiman/Sulaiman is. He is not just a king. His kingdom is the reason Europe is the centre of Moslem existence back then, and he is also the Prophet.

'King Suleiman' TV series

‘King Suleiman’ TV series

I remember back then when I was a kid during the fasting month, there were documentary series about the prophets, but they never dared showing the Prophet’s face. Only the voice. And now in the 21st century, everything is changed. I don’t know what’s wrong, but only hoping for the good.

Always remember to watch movies or series related to our belief with open-minded. And also to help us to know more about our religion’s bibles itself and getting us closer to our God. I know Noah movie is not close enough to what I’ve known, but how the movie showing ‘The Creator’ (that’s how Noah called his God) pours down the rain could give us an eye-opener on how small we are compared to the All Mighty.

 

My review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I

“Join The Mockingjay. Join The Fight.”

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Finally, I get to see this movie. AT LAST!! And the bonus is I got to see it on the big screen. I almost forgot how great it is watching a movie in the theater ehee..

Well, let’s just say I haven’t read the book yet. Hell, I even haven’t read all the books since the first Hunger Games (sorry, Ms. Collins). But, for me is a treat so I can enjoy the movie with the suspenses, surprises, and all.

Mockingjay, according to wiki, is “the hybrid bird that is an important symbol—of hope and rebellion—throughout the books”. Collins likens Katniss to a Mockingjay because both “should never have existed”.

Mockingjay is the final installment of The Hunger Games trilogy which is separated into two parts, just like Twilight and Harry Potter. In this third movie (and the final one), we won’t see Katniss trying to survive in the games, but being a symbol of rebellion instead. It’s getting complicated when she finds out Peeta is being captured by the Capitol.

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Like I said before, I haven’t read the books, but I really enjoy the movie. Not to mention Jennifer Lawrence can portrays Katniss with her emotional conflicts and her bravery to fight against the Capitol. For those of you who expect to see Gale more often, you get your wish in this movie. Even I have to say, Gale is pretty much in this one from the beginning until the end. It’s just Liam Hemsworth could’ve done better. Josh Hutcherson is beyond my expectation. I mean, I know the storyline and what would happen to Peeta (thanks to wiki), but watching it comes to life by Josh is beyond words. Director Francis Lawrence still doesn’t lose his touch. Actions, dramas, and the special effects, I love it all! Don’t forget Julianne Moore. After watching her in Map of The Stars, she gives another image of President Alma Coin. And of course, the mention of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in the credit title gives bittersweet moment.

I must say this one and The Maze Runner are the best young adult movies for this year. Oh, and don’t forget ‘The Hanging Tree’ sang by Katniss; it’s really memorable for me. Jennifer Lawrence indeed has amazing voice. She could think to become a singer someday.

Xiao Yan Zi and Yong Qi, the fictional love between the little swallow and the prince

Sorry if I still can’t keep my head away from this series especially this couple. I, once favorited this back in 1999 and after a decade, suddenly remember again and then rewatch it, brings the memory back. At first, I only focused on Xiao Yan Zi (Hsiao Yence)’s character which is a lot similar like me. But, after a decade, I can see the character from another point of view, especially her interaction with her beloved, the Fifth Prince.

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The first series tell how they meet, with Yong Qi (Yungchi)’s arrow pierces into Hsiao Yence’s chest. The Emperor mistakenly thinks she is his daughter, and so does Yungchi at first; although from his stares, we can see he likes her more than sibling. After knowing the truth, Yungchi dares to like her more than sister and slowly turns the like into care and then love. During the excursion with the Emperor, Yungchi finally tells Hsiao Yence how he feels, but the girl doesn’t give any responses yet. Thanks to Cai Lian, a girl they help during their journey who apparently has a crush on Yungchi, Hsiao Yence finally realizes her feeling for the prince. Since the Emperor still thinks they are siblings, Yungchi and Hsiao Yence can’t openly express their relationship. Although in some occasions during the trip, The Emperor rather curious on how Yungchi very attentive and protective over Hsiao Yence. After coming home to the Palace and had honorary guests from Tibet, Hsiao Yence learns the Tibetan princess is likely being paired with Yungchi. She insists to tell The Emperor the truth she’s not really Huan Zhu Princess, but the others refuse. Knowing they can’t be together, Hsiao Yence tells Yungchi to accept his father offer because she would likely lost her life or an arm anyway. Yungchi with heavy heart asks why Hsiao Yence doesn’t mind lose her life or an arm rather than losing him. When the truth finally reveals, the angry Emperor throws Hsiao Yence into jail and Yungchi saves her, declaring he would go with her and becomes nomad. After some considerations, Yungchi returns Hsiao Yence to the Palace and clears everything with The Emperor. Knowing his son already set his heart, The Emperor finally betroths Yungchi to Hsiao Yence.

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The second series tell Hsiao Yence and Yungchi’s relationship which already engaged. After meeting with a princess from Hui, Han Shiang, her life is back in danger again or “hot water”, quoting Erkang’s words. Her decision to free the new concubine brings Cewei, Erkang and of course, Yungchi ,in danger too. But, these four youngsters don’t seem mind for they know the reason why they help Han Shiang. More obstacles come from The Empress Dowager who dislikes her free spirit and attitude. The Emperor’s mother even threatens to cancel the betrothal if Hsiao Yence still acts like uneducated princess. And this forces Yungchi to make her study and in the end makes Hsiao Yence runs away from the Palace. Yungchi realizes his mistake and declares his love in front of his grandmother and father that he would follow Hsiao Yence anywhere he goes if they decide to renounce her princess rank. Hsiao Yence herself being captured with evil man in her escape wants to become a “new Hsiao Yence” for Yungchi. When they run away from the Palace after freed Han Shiang, Yungchi realizes that everything he learned behind the palace walls doesn’t apply in real world. Another step for this couple to adjust. The presence of Hsiao Cien in the group also adding another rock in their relationship for the man seems to give attention to Hsiao Yence, although in the end, the man confesses Hsiao Yence is his sister. Hsiao Cien hides the truth about the family story in order not to ruin Hsiao Yence and Yungchi’s relationship. After The Emperor comes by himself and asks Hsiao Yence to return to the Palace, the couple finally returns and then wed.

Actually, there are the third series and also the 2011 remake, but to some fans (including me), Huan Zhu Princess stops at the second series. The rest is just a “fanfiction gone wrong”, as they called.

Anyway, among the main two couples, Hsiao Yence and Yungchi have a lot of fans. Perhaps because their relationship is unique (well, not to mention the acting from the actress and actors, Zhao Wei and Alec Su) and they come from very different background. Hsiao Yence is an orphan, she used to be free while Yungchi raised in the Palace and being prince. Yungchi loves Hsiao Yence for her free spirit and attitude which also the cause of her punishment in the palace. This free spirit also the one which his people around him being objected too. I think in his confusion, Yungchi tries to protect Hsiao Yence. In the Palace, he has power to do that. Meanwhile, Hsiao Yence although not often speaks about her feeling for Yungchi, we can see with her action. Actually, it’s really kudos for Zhao Wei. I have no idea if that’s indeed in the script or rather just her improvisation. In a lot of scenes, we can Hsiao Yence kisses Yungchi’s cheek, even gives him playful shoves. She even tries to shield Yungchi from being stabbed by a sword if only Hsiao Cien doesn’t help her. Hsiao Yence also teaches Yungchi how to survive in the real world, first of all throw away his dignity as a prince. Difficult process with a lot of arguments, but in the end Yungchi finally understands. If only the Emperor doesn’t visit them personally and asks them to come back to the Palace, I’m sure both of them will continue their journey to Da Li and build their new life there.

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Aside from his arrogance and selfishness, we can see Yungchi is basically has gentle heart. He is kind, devoted and everything from a man you can hope for. All the concubines dislike him because they know he is the favored son, the one who will take the throne. And everything turns upside down after he meets Hsiao Yence. The girl doesn’t care about wealth, status and even philosophy, adds with treating the servants as family teaches Yungchi to become more human. In the second series, we can see he doesn’t protest when Hsiao Yence’s maids and servants play along with them. His devotion to Hsiao Yence makes him realize he can’t be the heir, for being the Emperor would likely will have more than one wife. I admire his patience over Hsiao Yence’s childishness. I even admire how he afraid of losing her causing him makes Hsiao Yence promises to never threaten leaving him again no matter how angry she got.

As the third series don’t count, I always wonder how they will survive their marriage aside from the real history in which Yungchi has 3 wives. But, hey…this is fiction and love will conquer all, right?

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My random thought

Setiap manusia memang memiliki sifat dan karakter yang berbeda-beda. Tidak peduli dia itu teman, kerabat bahkan saudara. Salah satu alasan juga kenapa dulu saya tertarik dengan Psikologi, tapi tidak kesampaian kuliah di jurusan itu.

Sejak buka usaha yang berhubungan dengan orang banyak (baca: dagang), surprisingly jadi malah tahu karakter orang. Dari mulai yang baik hati, pengertian, sampai yang gak bisa diajak kerja sama dan ndablek. Asiknya lagi karakter negatif ini justru terlihat dari orang-orang yang mestinya memberi contoh yang baik kepada orang lain. Tak perlu disebut karena nanti saya bisa dibully efpei.

Kalau sudah bicara karakter memang hal yang palng susah karena itu sudah bawaan sejak lahir. Seperti saya yang punya karakter keras. Mau coba dirubah pun ya gak bisa. Jadi, ya yang mau berteman atau mau berbagi hidup dengan saya harus bisa mengerti karakter saya ini. HIdup itu take and give, yang lain harus bisa mengerti saya, begitupun saya harus bisa mengerti orang lain yang karakternya mungkin ada yang sama atau malah berbeda sekali dengan saya.

Kembali ke bahasan awal, intinya saya jadi mengenal karakter orang-orang yang dulu mungkin buat saya sekedar lewat saja. Beberapa bisa ditebak, tapi beberapa bikin heran juga. Saya pribadi orangnya tidak mau ambil pusing dan tergantung bagaimana orang itu memperlakukan saya. You treat me good, I’ll treat you good. You treat me bad then you’re an a****le. Dan karena dagang saya juga termasuk usaha jasa, so seperti kata si Caesar, and smileeeee….

 

 

Huan Zhu Ge Ge (Huan Zhu Princess/Princess Returning Pearl), Cinderella Chiung Yao’s version

Every girl’s dream is being a princess. Well, I guess every woman in their youth even dreamed to become a princess. Disney has several princesses, even Mulan presents Asian culture. But, there is another princess from Asia’s land. She is Huan Zhu Princess.

I’ve written about this story which turned into the phenomenal series back in 1998 until 1999 on the previous post. But, in this post, I’d like to discuss deeper.

Huan Zhu Ge Ge is written by Chiung Yao and inspired by a story about Emperor in Qin Dynasty who adopted a commoner to become a princess. Ms. Yao was so impressed when she heard about this commoner princess and based on the folk story, she wrote Huan Zhu Ge Ge.

Xiao Yan Zi, Huan Zhu Ge Ge

Xiao Yan Zi, Huan Zhu Ge Ge

In her version, Huan Zhu Ge Ge is Xiao Yan Zi (Hsiao Yence in popular pronunciation, means little swallow), a commoner who mistakenly recognized as The Emperor illegitimate child. The truth is Hsiao Yence is only helping Xia Ziwei (Hsia Cewei), the real Emperor’s daughter to deliver the message. By accident, Hsiao Yence was shot by an arrow from the 5th prince, Yong Qi (Yungchi) or Wu A Ge. Yungchi feels guilty and helps Hsiao Yence to meet with the Emperor. Being an orphan since young age, Hsiao Yence enjoys the attention given by the Emperor. But, life in the palace is not that simple. There are rules and also politics. Hsiao Yence struggles to adapt. From the male part, Hsiao Yence’s free and naïve behaviors quickly attracts the 5th prince and his classmate, Fu Ertai. Yungchi even already attracted to Hsiao Yence the moment he met again with the girl, already wore the princess dress, but holds himself because he thinks she is his sister. By the time he knows the truth, the prince turns into a man who fights for his love. Meanwhile, Cewei waits outside the palace wall and attracts Fu Ertai’s older brother, Fu Erkang.

The first season is a phenomenon in China for being the first series which has global audience around the world. It’s such an achievement considering the low budget and the actors and actresses are new comers. Zhao Wei who portrays Hsiao Yence just graduated from art school, while Alec Su already famous by being a boyband member. Huan Zhu Ge Ge is the first time for both of them to act, and it came out very good.

In the sequel, Hsiao Yence and Cewei along with Yungchi and Erkang meet with new people and also struggle to live in the palace after Empress Dowager comes home from her spiritual trip. The difference from the first part is in the second series, the four of them are already engaged and we can see how they try to maintain the relationship, especially for Hsiao Yence and Yungchi. The difference between them is so deep. So many arguments, but in the end, we can see how much they care for each other to bridge their differences.

The sequel is also a hit. Not only made fans idolized the couple, there were also rumors along them. At one point, it said Alec developed feelings for Vicki due to the intense working hours, but he can’t because Vicki already had a boyfriend. And then, when they meet again for Romance In The Rain, Alec suddenly pay attention to Ruby Lin, the one who portrays Cewei. I don’t know which one is correct, but when Alec finally reunites with Vicki to become judges for China’s Got Talent season 5 he told Vicki they can have so many on-screen partners, but the first one is still the most special. I guess the truth is Alec still holds his admiration for his former co-star.

Zhao Wei and Alec Su as Hsiao Yence and Yungchi. They are the classic couple for the fans.

Zhao Wei and Alec Su as Hsiao Yence and Yungchi in the first and second season. They are the classic couple for the fans.

Hsiao Yence and Yungchi in their Han clothing. They wear the clothes when they go out from the palace.

Hsiao Yence and Yungchi in their Han clothing. They wear the clothes when they go out from the palace.

In the third part, so many fans think the story is a downfall. Not only the series left by the three main casts, Chiung Yao also made Yungchi has to marry another woman in order to save his wife’s brother’s life. Even Yungchi’s decision to finally say goodbye to the palace and left his second wife to follow Hsiao Yence as he promised couldn’t cheer up the fans.

Louis Khoo and Huang Yi replace Alec Su and Zhao Wei as Hsiao Yence and Yunchi in the third series

Louis Khoo and Huang Yi replace Alec Su and Zhao Wei as Hsiao Yence and Yunchi in the third series

If I recall Chiung Yao’s works before Huan Zhu Ge Ge, she also made some characters become second wife and even I remember one story where the lead male character falls in love with his sister in law (Belenggu Pintu Cinta in Bahasa translation). Reading Chiung Yao’s works is like asking to ourselves what kind of love we do prefer. The easy one or the hard one.

It’s just really shocking for the fans after watching how deep Yungchi’s love is for Hsiao Yence from the previous two series and then he easily agrees to marry another woman. Alec Su who portrays Yungchi in the first two seasons said he respects how Ms. Yao wrote about Yungchi in the third installment even though he didn’t take the part anymore (Louis Khoo replaced him for the role), but if he could give his opinion, Yungchi would never do that to Hsiao Yence.

Speaking of casts, the third installment has major replacement casts. I only recognize Huang Yi who replaced Zhao Wei as Hsiao Yence and Louis Khoo whom I recognize from Romance In The Rain series. I saw Huang Yi in Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon series while Louis Khoo, either coincidence or not, has work alongside the three main casts from Huan Zhu Ge Ge in Romance In The Rain. And one of them is Alec Su who is Wu A Ge himself. Well, that’s how showbiz goes, I guess.

Despite the fictional stories, some of the characters are real like The Emperor Qianlong, The Empress and the 5th prince. Even Chiung Yao included the real background family story. In real history, Yungchi is the son of a concubine, Yu Fei. His mother is not a favorite, but Yungchi is a hardworking and dutiful child, so he and his mother have a relatively good life. Yungchi lost his mother when he’s still young and he turns into a quiet and introvert boy. This trait is also used by Chiung Yao for her Yungchi in Huan Zhu Ge Ge. Her Yungchi is luckier. In real life, Yungchi never had a romantic relationship, while in her story, Yungchi is deeply in love with Hsiao Yence.

As for myself, I prefer the first and second season and for the third season, there are many fanfictions which taking Hsiao Yence’s side. I guess in the end, fanfiction made by fans or even Chiung Yao, Hsiao Yence will come out from the palace eventually and Yungchi will follow her (to match the real history in which Yungchi only lives until the age of 25). Just like the Empress said in the third installment, “The palace can hold the Emperor, wives, concubines, maids, servants, princesses and princes, but never a little swallow bird.”

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Huan Zhu Ge Ge

Oh yes, I’m still on my Chinese-mode hype. Perhaps it’s the influence of some Chinese blood in my family. Actually, after watching those Wong Fei-Hung series and seeing his hairstyle, the long and braided, reminds me to this classic Chinese TV series, Huan Zhu Ge Ge (My Fair Princess/Princess Pearl in some translations).

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This TV series based on the romance books written by Chiung Yao, the famous author in China. She’s famous in writing those romance heartwarming stories. Chiung Yao wrote Huan Zhu mixing between the fictional and the real characters during the Qin Dynasty. It has so many viewers both in China and worldwide and it’s a surprise to see there are a lot of Huan Zhu fans out there despite this series aired 16 years ago.

Huan Zhu tells a story about a commoner, Xiao Yan Zi (Hsiao Yence in some translations), who in some unexpected events meets a girl who claims to be The Emperor’s daughter, Xia Ziwei (Hsia Cewei in some languages). She wants to help Ziwei to tell the Emperor that she’s his daughter. But, in the day of the emperor’s family hunting trip, she gets hit by an arrow which shots by the 5th Prince (Wu A Ge/ Wu Ake) or Yong Qi/Yungchi. When she wakes up, the Emperor thinks Yan Zi is her daughter and gives her the title “Huan Zhu Ge Ge”. She decides to play along for a while, not realizing the real Huan Zhu Ge Ge is waiting outside the palace wall.

Vicky Zhao as Xiao Yan Zi

Vicky Zhao as Xiao Yan Zi

Ruby Lin as Xia Ziwei

Ruby Lin as Xia Ziwei

Alec Su as Yong Qi/ Wu A Ge

Alec Su as Yong Qi/ Wu A Ge

Zhou Jie as Fu Erkang

Zhou Jie as Fu Erkang

This series categorized as Wuxia, a genre which has period setting of China and mixed with kungfu. The series have 3 seasons. The previous two are playing by the same main casts while the third with whole new casts. The third gets a lot of negative critics because the story is so different than the previous two, not to mention the different casts. The only cast who still appears is Zhou Jie who plays Fu Erkang, the member of the royal guard in the previous two series.

Huan Zhu basically focused on the two “princesses”, Yan Zi and Ziwei, and their romance with the 5th prince and Fu Erkang. Romance and heartwarming scenes are all over the episodes. My fave character of course is Xiao Yan Zi. I always feel I’m more like her in a lot of things. The difference is she got a prince while I didn’t hehe…

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Yong Qi and Yan Zi

Ziwei and Erkang

Ziwei and Erkang

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The two young couples

The two young couples

Huan Zhu Ge Ge is really a high fiction because at the time, it’s very common for a man to have more than one wife. The term “you’re the only one in my heart” is really a high fantasy. But, hey…we need it as a distraction from real life, right?

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Once Upon A Time In China, Jet Li before being a Hollywood star

Jet Li is recognized internationally after his role in Lethal Weapon 4 as the Asian Criminal Lord. Thanks to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hollywood finally glances to the talents from Asia. But, I’m sure not many people know about his iconic roles before he becomes Hollywood star. And one of his iconic roles is Wong Fei-Hung, a Chinese folk hero around 19th century when foreigners from Europe started to come to China, in Once Upon A Time In China series. I watched this series again and almost forgot how great he is and how cute his character is with his romantic interest.

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In reality, Wong Fei-Hung married 4 times in his life, but in the series, we can see he has one romantic interest who he calls “13th aunt”. In Chinese tradition, it’s a very respectful family line. Fei-Hung and his aunt are around the same age and not blood related, although he calls her “aunt”. 13th aunt’s father (her name is Siu Kwan in the series) is sworn brother to Fei-Hung’s grandfather, so she considers as Fei-Hung’s elder and their romance is strictly forbidden. But, when love speaks, you can cross the boundaries.

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Once Upon A Time in China has 6 movies, but to me (and I guess for Jet Li’s fans), it’s only 4 of them considered as the real series which is Once Upon A Time In China 1, 2, 3, and 6. Jet Li and Rosamund Kwan who portray Fei-Hung and Siu Kwan were absent in the two movies, but Miss Kwan is portray the 13th aunt in the fifth series without Jet Li.  They are teamed together in the last movie despite the absurdity of the story.

I love this series more than The Legend of Fong Sai-yuk where Jet Li is also played another Chinese folk hero. Not only the series have it all; romance, humor, and action; but, we can see how deep Fei-Hung’s feeling for his 13th aunt. Unlike Sai-yuk who has two wives (damn, I hate polygamy!), through the series we can see the development of their relationship. From seeing each other again when Siu Kwan returns to China after studying abroad (explaining the western clothes she often wears), travel together (with chaperone), and finally Fei Hung follows his heart to finally propose to Siu Kwan. There are no movie which shows them getting married, but I’m sure it will be interesting to see them as husband and wife. They are more like yin and yang. Complete each other.

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I like a strong woman character, so it’s kind of different take here in Siu Kwan. She doesn’t know kungfu, more being saved often by Fei-Hung and his students, but I guess that’s the cute part of the story. For a woman who has no kungfu and being dragged into the world because the man you love is one of the kungfu masters, Siu Kwan has strong personality. During the series, she’s been kidnapped and seeing the brutality of battles, but in the end she always be in Fei-Hung side. And Fei-Hung himself doesn’t seem mind being her protector. It’s cute to see how he protects Siu Kwan in the series. Her safety is his top priority.

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So, go watch this series and see Jet Li performs one of his iconic roles (and iconic theme. Do you know he performed some of Fei-Hung’s moves at Hongkong Handover Ceremony back in 1997?) way before he kicks some ass in Hollywood.

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Pic source: Google and screencap

War, make a new life

According to Jet Li’s Wikipedia page, this movie is the lowest in revenue in the history of his career. And that’s the reason I want to watch this too.

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War opens with duo detectives, Crawford (Statham) and Tom Lone (Terry Chen). They investigate a crime scene which suspected owned by Yakuza. After some gun fires, Crawford is cornered by a mysterious guy and then Lone saves him. Crawford suspects the mysterious man is Rogue, the Yakuza lethal hitman.

The next day, unexpectedly, the hitman give Lone a visit and kills his wife and daughter. Crawford who arrives in Lone’s house, burnt with three corpses, is very shocked and becomes obsessed on finding who the hitman is. Three years later through some cases, finally Crawford is face to face with Rogue (Jet Li). But, there are more than just an assassin in Rogue. After the killings and killings, Crawford and Rogue are in the middle of war between Triads and Yakuza.

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On plotline, this movie has good twist and keep us guessing what the hell is Rogue doing. Statham is quite good while Jet Li is really impressive as always. I like how Jet Li dresses from the beginning until the end of the movie; black shirt, suit, pants, nice car and great bike. I love how he can become cold-hearted when he kills the people from both the Triads and Yakuza to get revenge. Oh, I shouldn’t have said that because it’s part of the movie.

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As a moviegoer who already watched most of Master Li’s works, I must say I like this one too. I just don’t understand why this movie is flop in the box office. Jet Li brings another performance as a man in the grey area. And the way he wears those expensive suits, he could be an agent or something for future projects (note to Hollywood).

Just like Danny The Dog, prepare for the gory scenes of revenge from Rogue. I can’t say I blame him though. In the end, he just wants to make a new life.

The Sorcerer and The White Snake, the new take from the legendary myth

Another Chinese folklore starred by our master Jet Li. The story about The White Snake and her mortal lover.

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This story is quite popular. Just like The Monkey King, it’s also has some versions, The one that I saw when I was in junior high is focused on the love story between Pai Su Chen and Han Wen (Xu Xien in some versions).

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And don’t forget Siau Ching (Qingqing), the green snake, Pai Su Chen’s sister.

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The myth itself tells a story about a snake demon who falls in love with a mortal. Their love is breaking the rules and from the other side, there’s Fahai, the powerful monk, who his duty is to maintain the order of the mortal world against the demons. When Fahai finally meets Pai Su Chen, the legendary battle happens.

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This movie is more or less close enough to the myth itself. It’s balance between Pai Su Chen and Master Fahai’s point of view. Unlike the TV series I watched years ago, this movie makes us to choose either to sympathize for Pai Su Chen or support Master Fahai in destroying demons. Added with the amazing music scores and the special effects which way much better than the version I watched in the 90s. It’s great to see Jet Li doing his moves, and as a monk. A powerful one, that is. And, I guess it’s hard not to sympathize for Jet Li, right?

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