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Sunday, February 10, 2013


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10.02.2013 - EPISODE 1
I have never read the novel, never seen the Jackie Lui version but only seen the Jet Li version which deviated a lot from the book. So I am ok with Dong Fang Bu Bai as a cross dressing castrated power hungry mad man looking like Bridgitte Lin which Ling Huchong sort of fell for. But I find Joe Chen, as DFBB very unconvincing. And I find even more unconvincing is his/her rise to power, all in 1 episode. And Yu Zheng the producer said DFBB in this version is a woman, so I assume a woman disguised as a man, so I suppose all those controversies of Ling Huchong being potentially gay is redundant. Also made redundant is the obsession with the kung fu manual which requires a man to do the worst act on himself; castrate himself. I see this deviation as making the wonderfully complex (but brief) character of DFBB and ultimately Li Pingzhi redundant doesn't it? The whole evil sect vs good sect is also downplayed in here. The entire 1st episode is about deafening sound effects, blindingly colourful screens and wholly unnecessary CGIs. I would think TVB's Demi God And Semi Devil more of those wuxia than this mess of a series. Even the kung fu is downplayed and we have a lot of flying here, flying swords there, hand movements but no real contact. It is more Storm Riders than the usual wuxia series. But there are still a lot of people in any scene, typical of Jin Yong series. So how does Jin Yong feel about this series? Apparently he approved which means he must be suffering from dementia. Why? He banned TVB for playing around with his story but the biggest "playing around" is actually Yu Zheng who decided to turn the entire wuxia setting into a love story in a wuxia setting, hence throwing away the moral dilemma and all that sort we have come to love in a Jin Yong story/series. Since DFBB here is a woman, and I will not dispute a woman's ability to dominate, to be evil, etc but it doesn't make any good sense as to why she would want to advance her kung fu by learning that.. that kung fu that requires ultimate sacrifice. So my guess is that focus is shifted to Ling Huchong killing her or rather she sacrifices herself to save him with a whole lot of misunderstanding as to her goodness vs her evilness. Politics is not in this in my guess. It is ultimately a lonely bad girl gives her heart to the happy nice guy who rejects her because she is a bad girl. It makes for far too simple a dilemma and too usual of any kind. In this way I suppose DFBB is screwed from day 1, whether in this adaptation or even if you ignore adaptation, in this rewrite. I already pity DFBB.

As for the series itself, too colourful that my eyes hurt. But not as bad as I would expect. I have more problem with the story itself which I almost fell asleep half way through it. It was just a meandering mess. Hopefully Wallace Huo will save it from disaster.

Now a speculation; DFBB here is a good I suppose 15 years or more older than the young Ren Yingying since

a. DFBB (he/she/not confirmed yet so I shall stick with DFBB) is her father, Ren Woxing's 2nd in command

b. she calls DFBB "uncle". If "uncle", that denotes more than 15 years of age difference because any lesser would be "ge ge" aka "brother".

c. LHC is much older than RYY? Which makes DFBB perhaps about a decade older than LHC so I suppose that is the whole dilemma? A much older woman with a much younger man? I read LHC is one of JY's oldest hero in his books. But in this series obviously DFBB is older than LHC, question is how much. If not much, then the whole DFBB being leader of Sun & Moon sect is ridiculous isn't it?

d. LHC will fall for DFBB but will feel betrayed when DFBB is actually that DFBB so he will leave her and she will go power crazy as he will fight her to the death but she will die saving him or rather fell off the cliff not wanting to be saved ala Jet Li version except in this version DFBB is a woman to begin with so the entire LHC dilemma is he is good guy, he can't elope with a bad girl to the core

A mess isn't it? A  mess not because it is messy but a mess because for an incredibly complex story of good vs evil, sacrifice vs selfishness, all these so neatly compartmentalised that the entire story sound in the end rather shallow.

Since this is only episode 1, I hope not. But it seems to be Yu Zheng will win big with ratings but the ratings is probably due to more people wanting to know how he screwed things up rather than make good changes. He is still a terrible storyteller in my opinion.

As for the actors, too little to comment except for Joe Chen who is unconvincing as a powerful evil manipulative bitch/bastard/bitstard (until determined later) and whilst Yuan Shan Shan is a likable girl off screen, on screen she is always one note actress. In fact Joe Chen looks like a little girl playing dressing up. I do not find her confident nor convincing as someone on the cusp of being very powerful, more so with a bombastic arrogant name like Dong Fang Bu Bai (The East Will Not Be Defeated in literal meaning whilst The Invincible East or East The Invincible the poetic meaning).

Apart from the story, the 2nd worst aspect is the terrible dubbing. The voices don't match, at all for some key characters.

I never expected better from Yuzheng, I just expected something not like a train wreck. So far too early to tell but the train is sort of in the right track towards a train wreck.

Have you read the book? Perhaps you can tell me more about DFBB's background. I read here that so far the series in episode 1 did tell DFBB's background as per the book. So DFBB would have known Ren Yingying. However again this series changes a crucial aspect; his original gender and the size of DFBB's role by creating a love story. Anyway if you read the book can you enlighten me on DFBB?

As for Yu Zheng answering the many criticisms of his past production and the present one, the following is a very good interview. I admire his ambition but surely any blind person can see some were plagarism.

One part where accusations said he plagarised from BBJX and Empresses In The Palace, he answered that for Gong, it was released before BBJX so how can there be plagarism he says. Well Mr Yu Zheng, you may release your garbage Gong first, in the end it is for all to see and it was looking like a rushed production. As for Gong II, same answer. And he is making Tong Hua's sequel to Da Mo Yao but changing the setting to a wuxia setting instead of emperor dynastic setting to get the censorship board of China's approval. Again wuxia and dynastic world are totally different and even in wuxia world, they are bound by their emperors and such. So again a train wreck in the making with shallowness in its content. I am sure Tong Hua will vomit blood. Since Yu Zheng is ruthless in changing the stories to meet the requirements of the board, it does say a lot why he is such a popular and successful producer but with zero integrity towards the original contents of a book.

Tell me again why his series are so popular?

And in another portion of the interview he was asked why he was so curt to some actresses whom he labeled as ugly when he was doing casting call for Schemes Of A Beauty I think. He gave a good answer.But the joke is his personally managed actresses are all rather ugly themselves or not as naturally pretty as others. Even his personally managed lead actors suffer from the same non-attractiveness. He does have a weird sense of beauty I suppose. Problem is the non-beauty is not always substantiated with loads of talent so I am confused as to his tastes in his artistes.

Anyway my strategy is to watch this series very slowly so do expect a blow by blow episodic review.

By the way it is officially SWORDMAN which is really wrong English so I decided to do Yu Zheng a favour and correct it as SWORDSMAN. Or he probably just forgot about changing the wrong word in his series' opening but I read fans have reminded him via weibo. I cringe at that but seriously the spelling mistake is a minor issue. The bigger issue is to narrow Jing Yong's wide vast scope of a story to that of a triangular love affair. That is blasphemy.

Please let episode 2 be better. Please!!

P/S Did I see Feng Shaofeng in a cameo in the scene as the doctor advising Ren Woxing??

Just found this at a fan forum of Wallace;

DFBB met Master Du Gu at the age of 16, seized the throne at the age of 18. At that time RYY aged 10 and LHC aged 15

How convenient. Now even more unbelievable that Yu Zheng is asking me to believe DFBB was DFBB. Even if the book says so, the image does not seem to be in line with this plot fact. And you don't call someone 8 years older than you are as "uncle". So now I am even more curious. Did Yu Zheng mess with the timeline or he just had poor taste in casting?


  1. I'm watching this also. Is DFBB really supposed to be a woman in this version? The character never actually said she is a he or she. Really confused..

  2. At this point we are supposed to be confused but the interview with Yuzheng confirms she is a she. Hence the whole romance thing.

  3. Ooh got it. Thanks!


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