My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend (我女朋友的男朋友) is a hilarious scifi comedy about a human getting schooled by his robot roommates on humility and respect.
When Azhai purchased his love android, he thought he would be living the high life with the prettiest girl by his side.
Because of customization error, he got a perfect boyfriend Adam instead. To his infinite horror. (Adam’s perfect enunciation takes a little getting use to in the beginning. But now, I worship the way he speaks.)
More tragic still is the replacement android, Eve, incorrectly registered Adam as her boyfriend and wouldn’t let Azhai send him away. Since then Azhai has been living in a romance hellhole where he tries to woo Eve, but Eve only wants to be with Adam, and Adam only has the eyes for him.
Adam and Eve are not just different in gender. Eve is a first generation companion android with pre-programed personality matrix. She does not change and cannot empathize with her owner. Adam, on the hand, is the newest model with water-proof skin and upgradable feeling matrix. He can adapt and modify his personality according to his experience with his owner (which will come mighty handy later on when Azhai is feeling super vulnerable because of evil Eve.)
Fighter of the Destiny (择天记) has two of the best gray people. They are not the firmly-on-the-dark-side, bad guys. They are, however, good people who make bad choices.
I think the best drama villain is the one who does terrible things for the right reason. Sheng Hou massacred an entire academic branch, executed most of her husband’s family, ritually slaughtered thousands of prisoners, not to mention she sacrificed her only child in order to preserve the stability of the kingdom. In her mind, a ruler has to get her hands dirty to do what’s best for her people. The blood on her hands is a testimony to her resolve. This woman has never lied to herself. So it is especially satisfying to see her redemption after she has (almost) descended into madness.
Her exact opposite is Qiu Shan Jun. He is a good person who is always trying to do good. The one time that he act selfish and petty, he got suckered into the bad guy camp. Because he couldn’t reconcile what he wanted to be and what he actually was doing, so he lied to others, and worse of all, he lied to himself. His lies quickly snowballed into an avalanche that buried his conscience.
Eternal Love may have strove to be an epic tragic love story, yet humor still dots its landscape. It is dry and it is funny. I can’t say for other people but I found Su Su and Ye Hua’s discussion on “the proper way to care for a snake” to be hilarious. Mainly because of Su Su’s trademark seriousness. It quickly dawns on Ye Hua, while explaining to Su Su that snake ain’t like human, he is speaking to a common-sense-challenged individual who needs major hand holding to cross the street. The funniest one-liner is when Ye Hua says, “I have loads of patience for less smart people,” looking directly at Su Su. Wahaha!
And of course, I can’t forget about Feng Jiu. This girl lies through her teeth in almost every interaction with Dong Hua. Except he can spot her lies like spotting a 3 year-old kid who swears that she didn’t eat the cookie from the jar while there are still cookie crumbs on her face. Naturally, Dong Hua, being incredibly old and jaded, can’t be bothered with correcting her so he just looks at her with his unfathomable side-glance. When this happens Si Ming gives her the pity look that says, “Poor child, I feel embarrassed for you.”
It is very hard to identify why I’m addicted to one drama and not the other. But with Eternal Love aka. 3 Lives 3 Worlds 10 Miles of Peach Blossoms I can pinpoint exactly when both my analytical mind and my sentimental heart became one. That moment is when Ye Hua asked Tian Jun’s permission to remove Su Su’s eyes himself. It sounds morbidly grotesque and I would never list it under the “Most Romantic Moment in a Drama” category, but in that moment I thought, this man truly and deeply loves his wife.
The easiest thing for him to do is let someone else perform the terrible deed, then comfort his wife afterwards by painting himself as her savior. But Ye Hua is anything but a cowardly delusional man. If his wife must surrender her eyes to keep her life, then he will be the last person she sees. She will know that he is the one responsible for what happens to her. He will swallow his own shame to look her in the eyes and bear her anger, her confusion, her hurt, and her terror. And he will accept that she will hate him for it. And, THAT takes no small amount of courage.
Eternal Love (三生三世十里桃花) aka Three Lives Three Words Ten Miles of Peach Blossom aka San Sheng San Shi Shi Li Tao Hua does cliché like nobody’s business. Amnesia, missing body parts, deaths, resurrections? That’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The lovey dovey pillow talks? That’s dessert with extra whip cream on top. I love every moment of it.
To say nothing about the show’s just-the-right-level melodrama, it impressed me with how well they use the special effects, costumes and makeups to create their epic universe. Those elements successfully enhanced the show instead of crippling it as they did with many of its fantasy drama peers (I am looking at you, xxx Aspiration and xxx Flower). It’s a pity they can’t maintain movie quality level for all 58 episodes. I can clearly see where they spent the big bucks and where they skimped out. The difference is a bit jarring.
Good thing the show is so good I can overlook their inability to seamlessly merge high tech with low tech effects. This drama’s world makes sense. There is internal logic to explain the outrageous things they do (finally in a Chinese fantasy drama!) And most importantly, I am 100% invested in the main couple and their many reincarnations.
Ye Hua’s behavior toward Bai Qian reminds me of a poem by Margaret Atwood: I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary.
I love Ye Hua to pieces but I blame him for most of the crapazoid things that befall on them. He is a great man. A man of few words. A man who really needs to stop sheltering his wife and keeping vital information from her. If only he had talked to her about the things that was going on around them, she wouldn’t have broken his heart the way she did.
Candle in the Tomb (鬼吹灯之精绝古城) follows a recently retired army man on dangerous tomb raiding adventures through snowy mountain of Kunlun to desert of Xinjiang. Zombies, ghosts, critters, 80s hairstyles, quotations from Chairman Mao, you name it, we got it.
I have reasons to believe this show passed the stringent Chinese censorship unscathed solely on their strategic placement of Mao and Deng. No self-respecting CC bureaucrat would take a scissor to a show that quotes the little red book and displays a healthy respect for local officials who voluntarily surrender ancient treasures to the government. We, the audience, understand perfectly the show is in no way mocking the establishment. And, it is most definitely not doing verbal eye rolling every time the characters express their patriotism to the motherland.
Now that we got the disclaimer out of the way, we can move on to the show itself.
To truly appreciate the show, one must watch the first 5 episodes in one sitting. The first 2 episodes build up your tolerance for crime against fashion and political brainwashing. The 3rd episode introduces you to the eeriness reserved for places devoid of human activity. The 4th episode scares you into turning on all the lights. I did not scream when I watched the scene-that-shall-not-be-named. At most, I yelped then politely invited my mom to watch the rest of the episode with me. The 5th episode brings you back to the wonderful land of open space and bright sunlight.
For the scene-that-shall-not-be-named, I will not post any picture or give any description because that is the only thing in horror films that unnerves me. A survey on weibo showed most viewers chose that scene as the “most memorable” scene in the first 6 episodes. You will not miss it when you see it.
Moving on… Continue reading
Bonus episode of The Ferry Man (灵魂摆渡) has everything I love: Murder mystery, supernatural, reincarnation, and enough creepiness to give me the goose bumps. Our amnesiac ferryman’s obsession with doleful college student Xia Dongqing is a running joke/mystery on the show. The reason is finally revealed in the episode “Magnificent (风华绝代).”
Almost a hundred years ago, our ferryman Zhao Li was experiencing a major case of depression. Since he couldn’t die (being a living dead and all), he decided that blindness was his next best option. The less of the despicable world he had to see the better. Then he met Ajin, a young soldier going off to war. Although the soldier was terrified of dying, he optimistically saw a better future for those he left behind. Our ferryman decided right then and there that the young man was his salvation, the bright spot in his dark, despairing existence. He could not let the soldier die.
While he could keep the man from being dead, it was not the same as being alive. His quest to restore Ajin to his living state brought the ferryman to a supernatural black market where he found a rare object that could show him a way. The object, in the form of a woman, had lost part of her memory. Her owner was dead and, for inexplicable reason, she couldn’t remember how that happened (this is particularly vexing because she is the personification of “wisdom and knowledge”). She asked the ferryman to solve the mystery in exchange for the information he desired.