The first 3 episodes of KO ONE: RE-CALL (終極一班5) ain’t so bad. They got the right level of humor, solid fighting choreography, and decent special effects (tho’ I do think they used it too liberally.)
I’m particularly psyched that Wes Luo is making his comeback after a year hiatus to convalesce from his foot fracture. I’m mighty grateful that the show wrote in his leg injury as part of the story, cuz I do not want this boy to be jumping up and down, kicking left and right, or putting any kind of pressure on his fragile leg. Please, keep him in a wheelchair for as long as possible. As such, I can forgive that most of his scenes are done in front of a green screen and/or with a stand in.
I don’t know if I’m going to watch the latest installment of Zhong Ji Series, KO One: Re-Call (終極一班5). The joint Taiwan/China production had, so far, been a total disaster. KO One: Re-Member couldn’t strike the right balance between comedy and drama. It was either obnoxiously frivolous or depressingly heavy. I dropped it when the crying and the angst in the latter half of the show became too much. Then there was K.O. 3AN-GUO New Ultimate 2017. Sigh… Fancy special effects couldn’t hide the fact that it was a direct copy of the original, but way less adorable and whole lot more annoying.
Then again, I should give the new class a chance. Maybe it will surprise me by bringing something new to the franchise?
Before there was the righteous Justice Pao (包青天) (1993) or the cunning Sima Yi in The Advisors Alliance (军师联盟) (2017), there was The Legend of Liu Bowen (劉伯溫傳奇) (1992). Liu Bowen was one of the founding members of Ming Dynasty, who was wise enough to retire before the newly crowned Emperor began to prune his court by killing the founding members. His retirement gift from the Emperor was a sword that grant him the authority to investigate and execute bad guys he encountered during his cross country sightseeing.
Liu Bowen’s smiling face, his wisdom, and his fortitude left such a strong impression on my young mind that I continued to associate the actor Zhang Fu Jian to that character. To me, his face is synonymous to warmth and safety of a father figure. As long as he’s around, everything is going to be A-OK.
Dramas that incorporated Buddhist ideology have a special place in my heart, especially when they touched upon the concept of “渡 (du / save)” and “轮回 (lun hui / reincarnation).” In one episode of The Ferry Man (灵魂摆渡), Zhao Li and the gang went to a village where many residents died of unnaturally causes. After seeing the spirits trapped in an unending torment, Zhao Li tried to alleviate their sufferings by reciting Buddhist scriptures (du). For a brief moment, he forgot he was a Ferry Man, and he unconsciously act the way he was when he was alive, a devoted Buddhist monk who tried to save others from spiritual agony. Although he didn’t succeed because of what he was, his single-minded sincerity brought tears to my eyes. Compare to the ferry man’s tangential relation to Buddhism, Faithful to Buddha, Faithful to You (不负如来不负卿) has very strong Buddhist presence. It contains no supernatural element to soften the message and can be preachy at times.
I kept watching because the teenage monk is super cute. I kept watching because of the taboo love and the mystery of why she time traveled to that period.
My obsession with Buddhism related romance dramas started with Continued Fate of Love (再世情緣) (1992). The drama began with a spoiled princess harassing a handsome monk. We later discovered that their connection was more than skin deep. In their past life, they were lovers but their love was renounced by everyone. Simply because she was a beautiful gentle lady. And him, a disfigure hunchback outcast who was fortunate to be saved by her and nursed back to life. When their love came to light, people accused him of being an ungrateful, ugly beggar who abused the lady’s kindness. Self-conscious and ashamed, he cut off his tie with her and became a monk. But her love for him was true and she died waiting for him. Reincarnated centuries later, they picked up where they left off. While appearance was no longer their obstacle, other factors continued to prevent them from being together.
Their opening theme song was selected at every karaoke gatherings.
It’s end of the year and I’m feeling a bit nostalgic for the dramas I grew up watching as a kid. Number one of my short list is TV musical The Legend of White Snake (新白娘子传奇) (1992). A classic that no other versions have yet to match in its addictive nature. Between the singing and the villainy good guys vs. virtuous bad guys, it exposed my childhood to a land of “grayness.” Because of this drama, I grew up with a mental flexibility of recognizing that people have multiple sides to them and actions speak louder than words. The downside is I tend to identify with the bad guys in Wuxia genre. I found them to be refreshing in their honesty about who they are and what they do. As oppose to those hypocritical good guys who do wicked things under the table.
I still get goosebumps whenever I hear their theme songs.
Taiwan became the first Asian country to lift the ban on same-sex marriage in May 2017. As result, I expect there will be many BL/GL Taiwanese dramas going mainstream. BL webdrama gets a bad rap for having super cheesy, pretentious, terrible acting and/or plot that is awkward if not painful to watch. However, HISt♂ry series’ Obsessed (著魔) came highly recommended. Granted, it contains many of the pitfalls of small production and their storyline is nothing to write home about, their main characters, however, more than make up for the drama’s shortcomings with their sizzling chemistry. I can watch them all day long doing whatever-it-is-they-do-together.
The chemistry mostly comes from Shao Yichen trying to deny his attraction to Jiang Jinteng. Not because he is playing hard to get. Rather, he is a man on a mission to not fall in love with his ex again. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
I thought A Boy Named Flora A would keep the dark comedy going. But they sneaked the hearts in there and caused me to cry a river of tears. I didn’t understand why Huajia was so upset when Awei suggested that he throw away a broken bike. It became clear with him sitting on the doorsteps, looking at it. It’s not the bike itself that got him upset. It’s the idea of losing grandma and all the memories they shared. The scenes with small Huajia riding with big grandma, then small grandma riding with big Huajia really got to me.
Huajia’s sister and her boyfriend also had me in tears. She had the most awesome boyfriend: Kindhearted, considerate, supportive, understanding, responsible, emotionally stable. Nothing like the men in her family. Since the day she ran away with him, they had always been each other’s rock. The hardest part was not him dying but to stay strong when he was no longer with her.