Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace 如懿传

Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace (如懿传) is loosely based on the real life of Step-Empress Hoifa Nara (1718-1766). Her fallout with Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) is one of the greatest mysteries in Chinese history. It continues to baffle historians to this day. The fallout happened suddenly, brutally, and without prelude on one regular day during their 4th vacation trip to the south. From witness accounts of that fateful day, the Emperor and the Step-Empress were having a grand-ole-time together. There were no sign of marital trouble. But when dinner time came, she was nowhere to be found. It was only later that people discovered she was sent back to the Forbidden Palace in Beijing. Soon after, the Emperor rescinded all her privileges. While she still retained the title of Empress, she was treated like a minor concubine. When she died a year later, her funeral arrangement was that of a regular consort and not the grand ceremony for an Empress. On top of that, he never granted her son a rank, as customary for an Emperor and Empress’ adult son. And, her family line was demoted back to the Bordered Blue Banner. When the court officials protested the gross injustice, the Emperor angrily explained his harsh treatment stemmed from the Step-Empress losing her mental faculty and cutting off her hair during their vacation. And because of her degenerative mental state, he found her unfit to be the Empress of Qing Empire or to be buried next to him in the royal tomb.

Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace

In Manchurian custom, a woman cut off her hair when A) her husband died or B) her parent-in-law died. Since both were alive and kicking, her hair cutting was essentially a death curse on them. As a Manchurian royalty, she knew full well the repercussions of her blasphemous act. So the million dollar question is: Why did she cut off her hair?

Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace

Unless we can travel back in time and be the fly on their Imperial chamber wall, we will never know what actually happened in that fateful afternoon which made her publicly announced her wish for the Emperor and/or the Empress Dowager’s death. What mystified me is not her falling out of the Emperor’s favor but how the Emperor treated her afterwards. Why did the Emperor take away all her powers and privileges but keep her as the Empress, if only in name? Or why he kept her Empress title but adamantly refused to posthumously honored her and her son, which he was more than willing to do for other dead treasonous royalties? Or his attempts to obliterate the image of her from all the royal paintings?

If you don’t believe the Emperor’s BS about her cracking under the pressure of being an Empress, then RRL can offer you one possible explanation.

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Bloody Romance 媚者无疆

Bloody Romance (媚者无疆) is about a pretty but dirt poor girl who was sold to a brothel but ended up becoming the leader of a government-sanctioned assassin organization. Every person she met along the way was mentally twisted. The difference was the degree: From psychopath Cha Luo who found torturing and killing to be mood enhancers, to sociopath Gong Zi aka. Prince of Ning who engineered a deadly plague to loosen his enemy’s control over a territory. To maneuver between those murderous, demented people required her blood, bones, and most importantly, her big brain.

Bloody Romance Wu Duo Li Yi Tong Gong Zi Wan Mei

I’m in love with Gong Zi. It’s so wrong but I can’t help that he is gorgeous! His eyes will hook your soul away.
Bloody Romance Wang Duo Gong Zi

Gong Zi is a complicated man and Wan Mei is right to fear him. If they compare who had the crappier life, Gong Zi wins it hands down. The saying goes, “You don’t miss what you never have.” Wan Mei never had anything growing up, so anything she has now is an improvement. Gong Zi, on the other hand, was a child prodigy, the invincible young prince general on the battlefield. People idolized him. Then, he overexerted himself and damaged his heart. Adding salt to injury, his own mother blinded him so he wouldn’t be a threat to the crown prince. He was cut down at his prime and tucked away in the corner of Guihua City expecting to live out the rest of his life as an invalid. Even then, enemies still wouldn’t let him be. His birth father repeatedly tried to get the crown prince (now the Emperor) to kill him.
Bloody Romance Bloody Romance

Of course, the man does not take a beating lying down. Gong Zi spent next few years laying the ground work for his come back. He used everything and everyone to accomplish his revenge quest. Even Wan Mei, who has a special place in his heart.

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Tomb of the Sea 沙海 Part 2

In second part of Tomb of the Sea, Li Cu seems to have grown up overnight and is well on his way to become a man. Not a man child, but a real man who you can trust with your life. I thought he wasn’t strong enough to pull out Dr. Liang Wan when she got dragged into the sand by the snake tree, then he proved me me wrong by lifting her up like pulling a carrot out of the ground.
Tomb of the Sea

I gave him two thumbs up for how he comforted her afterwards. You can see from that woman’s face that her mind was about to shatter into pieces. Dr. Liang (aka. Wan-jie/Big sister Wan) was prepared for the hazards of desert crossing: Dehydration, heatstroke, bury alive by sandstorms. You know, the normal stuffs that kill people. She did not sign up to be eaten by a killer snake tree. Li Cu helped her cope with her mind-blowing first encounter with unbelievable creature, and he did it with such tact that I didn’t think he was capable of.
Tomb of the Sea Yang Rong Liang Wan Tomb of the Sea Wu Lei Li Cu
Li Cu: Go ahead and cry if you want. I want to cry myself. But ladies first.

Then again, he did learn from the best. He isn’t quite at Wu Xie’s level of dependability, his inflated ego often gets in his way, but he is steadily moving toward that direction.

Desert turns a boy into a man and a woman into a girl ~ Wu Xie

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Tomb of the Sea 沙海 Part 1

Have you heard? Zu Yi Long will be playing Wu Xie in The Lost Tomb 3 (重启之极海听雷). Him playing another main character from my fav novels, holy guacamole! I do think he’ll do well in that role too, just as he did as Shen Wei in Guardian. But right now, I am loving Qin Hao’s Wu Xie in Tomb of the Sea (沙海). His appearance may not fit the Wu Xie I pictured but he has his mannerism to the T. So far, he is the only actor who is able to bring that character to life.

Tomb of the Sea Qin Hao Wu Xie Sha Hai

Wu Xie was never a bright eyed and bushy tailed, simple-minded tag along in the “Grave Robbers’ Chronicles” series, but neither was he shrewd like his 3rd uncle or murderous like the companies they keep. In LT, he was too clever, too curious, too softhearted for his own good. In ToS, he is 10+ years older and 10+ years wiser. While he is not as calculating as his 3rd uncle, he is not far off. He has numerous dangerous adventures under his belt and the experiences have taught him to observe more and weight his words. He may seem more intimidating but he is still the same old compassionate Wu Xie inside. He is always ready to lend a hand to help others even when he knows they will just turn around and slit his throat.

Tomb of the Sea

Honestly, I didn’t expect Tomb of the Sea to be as good as it is. The drama surprises me by how close it matches the author’s storytelling style, which reignites my hope for the next installments of the “Grave Robbers’ Chronicles” franchise.

Tomb of the Sea Wu Xie Li Cu

The first episode hits the ground running with awesome visual effect. I know they can’t keep up the movie quality CGI for all 50 episodes, so I’m glad they are using it where it counts the most. I can feel Li Cu’s adrenaline pumping as he hopelessly tries to outrun a carnivorous snake tree (vine?) appearing in the middle of a desert.

Tomb of the Sea

However good their visual may be, it is their content that won me over. What ToS did better than its predecessors is humor. Not the frivolous haha funny. But the morbid black comedy funny. In one scene Wu Xie smiles at Li Cu as he explains to the insolent boy, “We’ll starve to death if we don’t find more food. If you don’t want to help, that’s fine. You can be one of our food reserve”. Yum, yum, Li Cu jerky, delicious!

Tomb of the Sea Qin Hao Wu Lei Wu Xie Li Cu

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Caught in the Heartbeat 青春警事

The first 10 episodes of Caught in the Heartbeat (青春警事) had me thinking it’s a brain-dead police drama that solve cases with kisses. However, I persevered and was rewarded with a humorous, intelligent, engaging detective drama where I could join in on the case solving with our team. Since the story is told from their perspective, I get the same clues as them, no more and no less, no earlier and no later. Which makes watching this drama whole lot of fun.

Caught in the Heartbeat Jiao Jun Yan Wei Da Xun Qing Chun Jing Shi

Just to note, the drama’s premise may sound similar to Memory Lost (美人为馅) in which a female cop lost her memory and a male cop was the key to getting it back. But that is where their similarity ends. ML is a romance drama trying to play cop. This drama, however, is a cop drama trying to do romance. The relationship between Tang Yixiu and Gu Jing is much more relatable. I can picture my friends behaving the same ways they do.

The scene where Gu Jing tests how Yixiu trigger her lost memory has me laughing so hard my stomach hurts. Good news is that she has narrowed it down to their heartbeats. Bad news is that she hasn’t figure out what it is about their heartbeats that trigger her memory.
Caught in the Heartbeat Jiao Jun Yan Wei Da Xun Caught in the Heartbeat
One woman’s memory recall technique is another man’s workplace harassment.

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Guardian 镇魂 Part 5

This article is a rambling of a novel fan. Guardian is the only show I would ever recommend that you watch the BTS clips or fan made videos and skip the actual drama. If you must watch the show no matter what I tell you, please strictly follow this order:

1) Watch Guardian-the-drama (DG)

2) Watch fan-made vidoes

3) Read Guardian-the-novel (NG)

Guardian Bai Yu Zhu Yi Long Zhao Yunlan Shen Wei Zhen Hun

If you reversed the order and read the novel first… You have my condolences.
Weibo tag #diss镇魂编剧# (dissing Guardian screenwriters) shares your pain.


I survived the train wreck that was DG because of the talented meme creators/commentators on weibo’s #剧版镇魂#. Whenever DG got me down, they had me laughing like a hyena. I believe you can still find some DG memes at #镇魂沙雕表情包#.

[Update 08/07/2018: It appears Almighty-CC is doing another round of crack down on Guardian. This time is more comprehensive than the last one. I can’t find any contents from aggregated search results. And the drama is removed from the Douban listing.]
[Update 08/17/2018: The ban is lifted! Weibo tags are functioning again.]

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Guardian 镇魂 Part 4

This article is a rambling of a novel fan. If you have not read the novel, please don’t let my criticism turn you against the drama Guardian.

Ep31 is a good episode. With no embarrassing acting to distract me, I watched the entire episode without fast forwarding even once. Which makes me wonder why Guardian-the-drama (DG) couldn’t be like this for every episode?

I’ve been complaining about how bad DG was but I missed the mark by couple inches. One viewer actually hit the nail on the head. DG sucked because it failed the logic test. It discarded Guardian-the-novel (NG) worldview without replacing it with something equally comprehensive to explain the characters’ motivation and why they did what they did. DG might seem logical at bird’s-eye view, it failed spectacularly at street level. And the detail is what makes and breaks a web drama.

The Stake of Mountain and River segment has the most logic offenders (which explains why I didn’t like those episodes). One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing a heart-shape love sign in a period drama. First of all, the heart-shape sign didn’t become common practice until after 1910. So I’m pretty sure a secluded Asian tribe in the 1700s, such as Hanga, would not have seen or chosen the heart-shape to display their love. Eye rolling in progress.

Then there is Sang Zan’s speech impediment. In the flash back, he spoke fluent Chinese. After he got out of the rock, he stuttered like a stroke patient. What happened to him? NG has the logic. Back in the days, Sang Zan and Wang Zheng spoke Hanga (the language). After they parted ways, Wang Zheng left for the outside world and was immersed in the Chinese language for the next couple hundred years. Sang Zan, on the other hand, was stuck in the rock and never heard of Chinese, never mind speaking it. He had to learn the language like a foreigner, stuttering over each word and getting the tone wrong.

Guardian Sang Zan Wang Zheng Zhen Hun

And what’s up with the “Guo Changcheng electrocuting Chief Zhao” incident? NG, again, has the logic. Changcheng is a scaredy cat. Every little thing makes him jump. He also suffers from low self-esteem with debilitating social anxiety. He gets panic attacks just from looking people in the eyes. Prior to the incident, he was already shaking like a leaf after Zhao Yunlan berated him for buying a cheap sex doll to house Wang Zheng (the spirit) for their trip. He didn’t get his equilibrium back before they entered a dark, menacing cave. Group dynamic dictated Yunlan walk the front to scout for dangers, Chu Shuzi cover the back, and him, the useless new guy, walk in between them. Since everyone had their weapons out, it made sense that Changcheng’s stun gun would be pointed toward the front with his eyesight falling naturally on Yunlan’s back. It was a tense situation for everyone, doubly so for him. His racing mind imagined all kinds of monsters and critters crawling in the darkness. Once his overactive imagination reached its terrifying peak, the supercharged stun gun shot out an electrical beam, toward the front, at Yunlan. See? A perfectly logical explanation for electrocuting one’s boss.

Since it’s rare to see a good episode (or segment), I’m devoting this post to what I like in DG.

Guardian Shen Wei Zhu Yi Long Zhen Hun

Possible spoilers ahead, read at your own risk.

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