Royal Feast Review

Royal Feast ArticleRoyal Feast (尚食) is a Chinese TV series that ran from 22 February to 26 March 2022, broadcasting 6 days a week on Hunan TV and Mango TV.

About

A young girl named Zijin enters the palace to become a maid in the food bureau. Through her excellent cooking skills, she works her way up the ranks. However, she has trained to become a Concubine, learning a lot to be able to become entertaining to the future Emperor.

Cast

Xu Kai (许凯) plays the future emperor.
He has numerous awards, first known for print ad modelling. He has starred in a couple of films and numerous TV shows. As I write this, he has been earmarked to be seen in three other TV dramas.

Wu Jin Yan (吴谨言) plays Zijin.
She studied in Ballet and joined the National Ballet of China where unfortunately suffered from a number of fractures to her feet. Unable to continue with her Ballet career she joined the Beijing Film Academy to study as an actor. She has been in numerous TV dramas and films. Her politics…hmmm.

Wang Yi Zhe (王一哲) plays You Yi Fan.
He studied broadcasting and acting but as a result of starring in the “King of Pop” reality show, he started acting in TV shows.

He Rui Xian (何瑞贤) as Yi Zi Ping.
Probably the best and most comical character. Right after Royal Feast aired she starred in another food orientated drama, “Delicacies Destiny”, the set for which looked very familiar.

Review

If it wasn’t for the food I may have dropped this how. In many of the episodes, they cooked marvellous meals. I don’t know if any of them are really traditional Chinese dishes or if they just made them up. A small number of them I had actually heard of. I wish there was a cookbook that would accompany the series, it would probably sell well, even if few people wanted to cook the meals.

The story could have been completed in less than 40 episodes, it did drag on. It wasn’t complex. Some of the characters were annoying, quickly switching from being a buffoon to something else, others were miserable throughout the series. He Rui Xian had the best role, at least her role was quite amusing now and again. The last two episodes were the best, not just because I was pleased to see the end of it, but they did wrap things up nicely, some of which were unexpected.

There was mainly a strong cast of female actors, which is good to see. One of the issues it addressed was being born into a certain role and there is no way of escaping it.

The costumes were pretty different, more Thai looking than Chinese.

I wish we had fast-forwarded parts of the show to get to the cooking. I did drop off to sleep halfway through some episodes.

So, my score is 2.5 out of 5. I can’t give it anything more than that. Others seemed to enjoy it more than I did so it’s worth giving it a try.

Where Can I See It

The episodes can be found on YouTube, however, some of the subtitles are machine produced and confusing.

Trailer

2022-05-14T04:37:53+00:0014 May 2022|Review China|

Do I have COVID?

I’ve done everything by the book and beyond to protect myself from catching COVID but it looks as though I now have some of the symptoms. Drat.

I took the British Colombia Health Self Assessment tool and it said I don’t need to get a test, most likely because all the symptoms are very mild and can get over them quickly.

I kind of suspect how I got it, but I’m not going ever to be 100% sure. I guess it’s tough to avoid catching it with so much going around.  Our local community is rife with it with others just suffering mild symptoms.

My mild symptoms are:

  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Sneezing
  • Tired
  • Fever, mainly feeling cold

I am determined to keep on working to keep my brain going, luckily I work from home. I am much slower than usual but I’m not making any errors which is good.

I haven’t lost my appetite, luckily we have tons of food indoors.

I am lucky though since the number of hospitalisations has increased recently in this province, I wonder if its because people are starting to get back to normal, whatever that is now.

2022-05-13T17:33:01+00:0013 May 2022|Health Care|

An Inspector Calls Review

“An Inspector Calls” [浮華宴] is a Hong Kong comedy movie that was released on 19th February 2015.

An Inspector CallsAbout

The official summary of the movie is “Hours before a family’s party being thrown for daughter’s engagement an inspector shows up at the house. He is investigating the cause of a woman’s suicide.”

It is based, very loosely based, on a play written by J. B. Priestley which premiered on 6th July 1945 in Moscow.

Cast

These are the cast members I recognized from other TV shows and films.

Louis Koo [古天樂] Once well known for the TV performances he currently has a ton of films coming up that are in the works. We’ve seen him in films, some have been good, some have been quite bad.

Out of the main cast, that is all I remember, but there were some famous guest performances.

Donnie Yen played all the characters in a band. That part of the movie was totally hilarious, it was just worth watching it for that scene.

Raymond Wong also played a support role but I have no idea which part. I will have to go back and try to find him.

Review

Well, all I can say is the film was total madness. It felt as though the actors just turned up at work one day and they just did anything they want.

It wasn’t like some of the older Hong Kong comedy films, it didn’t grab the essence of those films way back when..! There were some amusing bits here and there but generally, I was getting bored with it.

I agree with some of the reviewers who said “what is the plot of this movie”! It just felt like a bit of a pickle overall.

So, I will rate it 2 out of 5.

Where Can I See It

The movie can be found on Netflix, at least in the region we are in.

Trailer

2022-05-05T22:05:45+00:005 May 2022|Review Hong Kong|

Customer Service Update April 2022

As you can see from the length of this blog entry I’m not having a good time with companies right now. Some are minor issues and some are more serious. I keep forgiving them due to the pandemic and the lack of finding staff to do work these days, but to a certain extent, it really isn’t my problem.  If they make promises, they should keep them.

Restoration Work

I won’t name the companies yet for this work. An upstairs neighbour had a water leak which came down two floors into our apartment. It caused some minor damage. Going through our insurance company it took a little while for them to agree to pay for the damages, however, they said they wouldn’t chase after the insurance company of the household that caused the damage, they should have done.

The restoration company they are using to do our work is next to useless.

The first thing their project manager said to use “we always get bad reviews”, well, I can see why:

  • Their project management is non-existent.
  • Poor communication with us ignoring emails and requests for answers.
  • There is poor communication between their company and sub-contractors.
  • Suggesting we should pay for something which their sub-contractor said is not needed.
  • Promised work would start within 2-3 weeks yet it’s been 2 months now.

We were told this is not an unusual practice and performance levels from restorations companies in this area. Sigh.

Amazon

I had previously complained that their drivers are speeding in our neighbourhood. Well, they keep on speeding. Just like other complaints Amazon just pushes out a copy and paste message.

The company are now raising their Prime subscription by $20 which is quite a jump. Is it worth continuing with that subscription based on the poor performance of the company, I have experienced:

  • One-day delivery is rarely that, usually three days minimum.
  • Their TV offering is poor compared to other services.
  • The continuing poor behaviour when driving in our neighbourhood.
  • Poor treatment of staff; anti-union and more.

Beezer

This is the company that my data might have been uploaded to as a result of a hack at our property management company. Since this was a GDPR request they should have responded within a month, but they failed to do so. I will have to investigate my next steps.

Costco

I had quite a lot of issues with them this past month, in particular getting repeat medication. They were constantly faxing back and forth to obtain authorization from the doctor. In one conversation they mentioned my “wife” making the assumption I was straight, yes, it seems some people still do that which is extremely tiring.

On my last visit, they said they still hadn’t got anything back from the doctor despite him faxing them 2 days prior. A whole bunch of their staff got involved and they eventually found it in their system, they had received it. What a mess.

Netflix

They finally notified me of a change in fees. They should have informed customers when they announced it to the media, Amazon did this.

SkyNews

This UK TV channel had been broadcasting over YouTube until a message appeared saying it wasn’t available for my region, meaning Canada. I noticed on Twitter that people in other parts of the world experienced the same issue, including South Africa and Cyprus. The service is still available in the US, India and other countries, I VPN’d to check.

Contacting SkyNews was problematic. It took a stream of tweets for them to respond. When they did they provided me with an email address. Someone responded with a non-answer as though they performed zero research, sounded as though they just wanted to get rid of me.

Staples

Since Amazon had issues obtaining ink cartridges for my printer I thought I would try elsewhere. Despite being $20 more expensive Staples was the cheapest of the bunch. I checked on their website and they had 8 in stock at the local store so we drove there.

When we got there they said they had none in stock. I asked why it stated 8 on the website and they gave no comment. I tweeted about it, the usual copy/paste comments back from Staples, I didn’t want to get into another back and forth with another company. Eventually, Amazon delivered the cartridges which is good news.

Telus

As our community of 400 homes are all with Telus Home service we eventually got our 25% discount. Not only good for us but also the majority of people living here are seniors on a limited pension.

Telus hadn’t responded to my multiple reports of poor mobile signal in our area. I called them again and after being transferred from one person to the next I finally got to speak to someone who could help. Well, they couldn’t help much but they did try and at least they were friendly.

Eventually, I decided to buy their home telephone service. I had no choice given their poor mobile signal. The setup wasn’t without issues but eventually got it in. Of course, the phone is connected to fibre, so if that goes down our internet, TV and phone will experience downtime.

2022-04-10T05:23:35+00:0010 April 2022|Customer Service|

Time Tunnel 2022 Parody

Below is another video I created to practice my Adobe Premiere Pro skillset.

The short video is based on the 1960s TV Series Time Tunnel, in the show there are two employees of a secret project that become lost in time. More than often they never know when they are going to end up. So, I thought of a small video, a kind of “What If” the two of them ended up in 2022! Since this year is another momentous year regarding Russia’s invasion/war on the innocent people of Ukraine.

2022-03-30T20:57:34+00:0030 March 2022|Television, Video|

Champions Reivew

Champions FilmChampions (奪標) is a Hong Kong movie that had a release date of 13th November 2008.

About

This is the official description of the film:

“Inspired by real events. When China announces that it will field its very first Olympic team, which will include a handful of martial artists to demonstrate Wushu to the world for the very first time, millions across the country compete for the honor of representing their national sport. With so many diverse styles and so many skilled, determined fighters, the elimination bouts are grueling. A select few are chosen, amongst them street hawker and scallywag Zhang Feng and earnest patriot Bao, who’s dreamed of going to the Olympic Games. However, the road to the games is fraught with hardship and heartbreak, and in getting there Zhang Feng and Bao embark on a journey that will test their strength, skill and spirit to the limit, and their willingness to sacrifice in ways they could never have imagined”

Cast

The only cast member I recognized was Dicky Cheung who played the main character Cheung Fung. I actually didn’t recognize him at first until I saw the cast list after the film then it suddenly dawned on me. Of course, Dicky is very famous in Hong Kong and has appeared in many film and TV productions.

Review

The public reviews on this movie weren’t very good, in the 6/10 region, so I wasn’t expecting a whole lot out of it. However, it was much better than anticipated.

Screenwriter and Director Tsui Siu Ming did a brilliant job with it. I have to mention Lincoln Lo for the music which I found to be equally uplifting as the movie was. The fight scene choreography was amazing with some going on for a very long time, it was very well executed.

There appeared to be some CGI in the movie, in particular movie up ahead around the city. I think parts of the ship were CGI but not all the scene, it was difficult to tell. Parts of the film had fantastic cinematic quality, one part of it reminded me of the film Oliver although much scaled down.

There wasn’t a dull moment in the movie, it was quite fast paced, with something happening all the time. Parts of the storyline got a bit muddled for me here and there but maybe it was because some things got lost in translation.

I will rate this film 5/5. It seems I haven’t given this score in a while.

Where To Watch

The film can be found on TubiTV, they have a lot of interesting Hong Kong movies there. Tubi had it listed as a 2011 release, but I think it was 2008, maybe the later date was when it was released elsewhere?

2022-03-28T16:15:57+00:0028 March 2022|Review Hong Kong|

Trump’s Angels

The way I learn most computer programs is by setting myself a challenge. The challenge I set myself was to do a political parody of the Charlie’s Angels TV show but with Donald Trump and three of the oddest legislators of all time.

The video was created using Adobe Premiere Pro.

2022-03-29T23:38:32+00:0024 March 2022|USA, Video|

SkyNews No More

SkyNews is a popular channel in the UK that used to broadcast an international version over its YouTube channel to the world, that is until recently.

About The Block

The channel was IP blocked to a number of countries including South Africa, Cyprus, here in Canada and many more. It isn’t blocked for countries like the USA, India and others.

SkyNews Unavailable

There are many Expats who watch SkyNews around the globe who are very upset about the block, according to what they are saying on Twitter. Despite reaching out on SkyNews on Twitter none had received a response, so I decided to have a go.

It was labour intensive to communicate with SkyTV to try and find out the reason for this. After a few tweets back and forth they finally gave me an email address to write to. I received a response fairly quickly but they didn’t really shed any light on the block and didn’t know which countries were affected and why. SkyNews in Australia was recently temporarily banned from YouTube for a while due to relaying fake news, so I am guessing SkyNew UK might have been hit by a similar reason.

I understand some have just started viewing SkyNews on YouTube via a VPN.

Alternatives

There are many live news broadcast channels on YouTube that can be viewed as an alternative. Note, some of these might not be available at your location, they are all available in Canada though.

  • France24 – I have to say this is one of my favourites
  • DW – from Germany
  • Al Jazeera – A Qatar government channel
  • ABC News Live – from the US
  • MSNBC Now Live – from the US
  • BBC World News – this would be available through your cable provider, not through YouTube
  • EuroNews – this might be available through your cable provider, a great channel
  • GB News – from the UK, I don’t watch this channel, too right-wing, but an odd interesting snippet now and again.

Summary

It’s always good to view the news from different perspectives especially when a war is ongoing so hopefully, the above channels are helpful. It is disappointing that SkyNews take down this service at this time.

2022-03-19T17:19:04+00:0019 March 2022|Television|

Ice Fantasy Review

Ice FantasyIce Fantasy [幻城] is a 62 episode TV series from China that was broadcast in 2016 on Hunan TV.

About

A fight for power between the Ice and Fire Tribes, the Fire being evil. Also, a challenge for power to be the King between Prince Ka Suo and his younger half-brother Yong Kong Shi. Ka Suo doesn’t want to be King but to live carefree with his love Li Luo.

Cast

Feng Shao Feng [冯绍峰] (or Feng Wei) plays Prince Ka Suo
A very popular actor with a very decent list of TV shows and movies. Evidently, he likes British crop circles!

Ma Tian Yu [马天宇] plays Prince Ying Hi
A mando-pop singer and actor. A long list of TV shows on his resume. His mother died when he was 5, his father left due to debts and was bought up by his grandparents.

There are a lot of characters of note but I have to make a special mention of:

Cheng Pei Pei [鄭佩佩] who plays Feng Tian (Grandma)
She lived in Hong Kong, trained with Shaw Brothers, best known in the movie Come Drink With Me. She moved to California to raise her children, attended business school at the University of California and taught Chinese dance. She starred in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and also had a Mandarin-speaking talk show on Los Angeles TV station KSCI. I think she is quite a catch for this TV show.

Review

The sets on this show were artistic which, for me, was the main draw. The Ice world was done the best, the Fire world was like hell but not so good.

The special effects are very similar to that on US daytime soaps,  similar technology.

So, there are some points about the sets and special effects. It was 62 episodes and must have been quite a struggle for the staff involved to keep the quality going, which they didn’t. Most of the work was done by green screen, the actors would move around but not in tandem with what was superimposed on the green screen. There were simply too many special effects so they seemed to get more amateur as the show progressed.

They obviously had a library of incidental music to use with the series, like a similar tune for the action sequences. Some of the music was exciting, some a little annoying, some just didn’t match the scene. They seemed to have reserved some original score for the last few episodes.

“Flame”, head of the Fire Tribe, actually looked like the lead character from Pirates of the Caribbean. Generally, the costume department did really well with the outfits.

Although there was one story throughout the series there were arc’s throughout. This cut this up into manageable chunks for the viewer. In parts, they would jump from one part of a story to the next without any explanation. The continuity was all over the place, something would happen and I would think “did I just miss something”?!

This was probably a difficult show for the actors as they had to use their acting skills but also work with so much green screen and position their bodies for the special effects. For 62 episodes this was probably quite exhausting for them. All the actors did quite a good job, I think the best performance was by Alina Zhang who played Princess Yan Da of the Fire Tribe.

SPOILER
The ending? Well, I didn’t expect everyone to be knocked off but 3 of them came back from the dead. I thought at that point it got a bit daft and pleased it was over.

There is a season two, called Ice Fantasy Destiny, which appears to be set in the future. It’s only 16 episodes so I might give that a go at some point.

Final Score

I would give it 2/5. It lost points on the script and struggle with the special effects. Reviewers gave it anywhere between 7.7 and 9.1 out of 10.

Where to Watch

Netflix had it for a while but it vanished from their library, for some reason. However, it’s currently on Viki. I notice Viki doesn’t have Ice Fantasy Destiny.

Trailer

2022-02-24T17:52:04+00:0024 February 2022|Review China|

Pho Zen

We went to a Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Zen, it was pretty awesome.

From the street, it was a little awkward getting there, depends which direction the car is coming from. I originally thought it was quite a small place but turned out larger than expected.

It was a decent looking very clean looking place, not very cluttered and very spacious.  The “plenty of space” look may have been for the pandemic.

The staff were friendly, not very talkative, and the service was very quick.

We had the following items:

  • Vietnamese Spring Rolls
  • Beef Stew With Rice Noodle Soup
  • Roast Pork Vietnamese Sub
  • Vietnamese Iced Coffee

All the items were great, the spring rolls appeared more Chinese than Vietnamese.  There was a lot of food for just two items and half of it we had to take home.

2022-02-24T00:28:32+00:0024 February 2022|Photos|