Review China

Review of Chinese Movies and TV Shows

The Qin Empire

The Qin Empire (大秦帝国之裂变) is a Chinese television costume drama that aired in 2009.

The Qin Empire

About

This is the store of how the Qin Empire restored itself from former glory by hiring outsider Shang Yang to implement a series of reforms.

This show has three seasons, we just watched the first, a total of 51 episodes.

Cast

Hou Yong (侯勇) as Duke Xiao of Qin
Born in 1967 now 56 years old, his first television appearance was in the year 2000 and then movies in 2002.

Wang Zhi Fei (王志飞) as Shang Yang
Born in 1965 now 58 years old, his first television exposure came in 1993 and in movies from 2011.

Review

This was most likely an ambitious project for the writers, actors and film crew especially to convey the scale of Qin and its army.

The story seemed solid although some left feedback that this was not quite like how things really went down.

The acting was good as it was bad. I would say 75% of the acting was good. The other 25% was really bad due to scenes of over acting which really spoiled much of the drama.

There was one actor who had an extreme character shift a quarter of the way into the series then within one episode grew up a couple of years and replaced by another actor who looked nothing like the first one. Totally bizarre.

Did grown men really kneel down crying uncontrollably when their leaders were sad or unhappy about something? Maybe they did back then but it was pretty annoying and too false.

When a large crowd in the army were starting to sing they were replaced by stock singers dubbed over them. A song that they repeated throughout the series. It was most likely impossible to organise such a large crowd singing on an outside broadcast so it may have been easier just to replace them with stock audio.

There was something wrong with the audio on the Netflix version we saw, the voices were just a little out of sync. Maybe they were dubbed but still speaking in Mandarin.

The show was definitely slow in spots with the conversation being irrelevant and I kept dropping off during those parts.

Summary

Well, despite my negative comments quite a few people did enjoy the series and overall got reviewed positively elsewhere. However, I will only give it 2/5.

Where to Watch

All three seasons can be seen on Netflix Canada but not sure where else it will be available.

2024-02-19T00:27:31+00:0019 February 2024|Review China|

Journey to the West

Journey to the West (宇宙探索编辑部) is a Chinese comedy sci-fi movie that was released on 17 October 2021.

About

Tang Zhi Jun has believed in the existence of UFOs and aliens for years, however, he hasn’t had any sightings of such. He believes there is some interstellar meaning to the static in his teleivision. The newspaper he runs with some employees is not doing well and can’t afford the heating bill. Then a mysterious film emerges online, he along with a bunch of other misfits, go to investigate. Can the teenager with a cooking pot on his head bring him hope of an encounter?

Cast

Yang Hao Yu (杨皓宇) as Tang Zhi Jun
He graduated from the Performance Department at the Shanghai Theater Academy and is a very popular actor appearing in many films and TV shows. As I write this he is contracted for 7 new TV series and 2 new films.

Wang Yi Tong (王一通) as Sun Yi Tong
Not only did he star in the movie but he was also the co-screenwriter. He is also a director and editor. Pretty impressive.

Review

This movie was shot as a “fly on the wall” as though someone was doing a documentary on the UFO hunter and his team. That was quite an interesting perspective and may have been tough to do throughout a 2 hour movie.

The actors played there parts well, virtually everyone was quite off the wall. I think they employed extra’s in talking roles to appear in the movie, anyone in a village and some were very convincing.

The story was interesting and unique, very off the wall.

I feel the actors were really into their parts, especially the main character actor.

After an hour of watching the movie we were very bored, it was dragging so much. We then fast forwarded to the conclusion and it did have a surprising end. The movie was 1 hours 52 minutes in length, way too long for this story and they could have reduced it significantly to make it feel more punchy.

Ni Ni recommended this movie on her Instagram account, so it drew some attention because she is so popular. She said it wasn’t a science fiction movie but I guess only a small part of it was.

Summary

I will give this a 1/5, not a very good score I’m afraid but I was really bored. I did try to put a more positive spin on it.

2024-01-18T05:19:08+00:0018 January 2024|Review China|

Parallel World

Parallel World (西出玉门) is a 38 part Chinese sci-fi/fantasy drama that was broadcast on Tencent from 7 September 2023.

About

Ye Liu Xi is in this world selling melons with little of her memories in tact and needs to go somewhere. She connects with Chang Dong thinks he is the only survivor of a deadly sand storm, he wants to find out what happened to the others he went on a expedition with. Along with some others they travel into a parallel world where they encounter different people and creatures to find answers to what they are looking for.

Cast

Ni Ni (倪妮) as Ye Liu Xi
We say Ni Ni in Netflix’s “The Rise of Phoenixes”, it was her first television role. We have also seen her in a couple of films.  A very popular award winning actress who studied television broadcasting and hosting. She is also quite athletic.

Bai Yu (白宇) as Chang Dong
His English name is Johnny Bai which some in the west know him as. A very popular actor who we’ve seen in numerous TV shows and films, he is one of those actors that fans swoon at.

Review

Since it has Ni Ni and Bai Yu in it, I had good hopes for this show and it was ok.

It did start off slowly so the series could have been reduced in length taking stuff out or speeding it up. The story otherwise was pretty good.

At one point they introduced a senior and a teenager who were “outside of the story”, I thought it was a little bizarre and didn’t warm up to this idea at all. Maybe that was in the original book.

Most of the special effects were good but there was a couple that didn’t quite work out. The effects were just as good as those produced by the US.

I wondered how the car could travel so far without needing a refill. At one point they didn’t seem to mind their friend had been captured so maybe there was some continuity issues.

There was a final scene that was a cartoon and I thought they did this because maybe the special effect equivalent would have been too difficult to achieve.

The chickens were the stars of the show but were they real or CGI? I will let you all decide.

Chinese “SciFi” is more about mystical things and not technology, so this show fits in the fantasy character.

Ni Ni gave a great kick-ass performance, she was the best in it. A character called Fatty was the comical one, the fact they called him Fatty when he wasn’t was a little annoying, kind of demeaning. I think Bai Yu could have done a better job with his character or maybe in the book he was without some emotion.

Summary

We almost gave up on it after a few episodes but pleased we saw it to the end. I’ll give it a 4/5.

Where to Watch

We watched it on Viki but it’s also available on WeTV and TencentVideo.

2023-12-18T00:03:08+00:0018 December 2023|Review China|

Fist and Faith

Fist and Faith (青禾男高), aka Fist Faith, is a Chinese movie that was released on 13th July 2017.

About

From IMDB:
Set during the 1930s after the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, a teacher (Jing Tian) and a group of students establish a study club to preserve their language and culture as an act of protest against the foreign invaders.

Cast

Ou Hao (欧豪) as Jing Hao
He is a Chinese pop singer and film actor. His first TV roll was in 2014 and has many series lined up.

Jing Tian (景甜) as Liu He
She appears to be best known in recent years for being fined 7.2212 million Yuan for illegal advertising endorsements, however, she has a very decent portfolio of TV series and film.s

Hayashi Kento (林遣都) as Shibata Sokichi
A very popular Japanese actor whom we’ve seen in the Ossan’s Love TV series and film. We actually watched this film because he was starring in it.  We were surprised to see him in a Chinese film.

Review

Wherever I’ve seen this listed they don’t include the category of “comedy” and it partly was. The “design” of parts of the movie was done in an anime style.

I wasn’t really too impressed with the story. I suspect it was made for a more younger audience. Also, because this is a Chinese film one knew the Japanese would not come out the better, given historical events I guess this is the way it has to be.

I’m not sure who created Hayashi Kento’s hair but it was a little bizarre and agitated me throughout the movie.

The action was the best although I noticed some suggested there was too much violence.

Summary

I would find it difficult recommending this movie so maybe just give it a go. I would rate is 2.5/5. Sorry I can’t be more positive about it.

Where To See It

We saw it on Viki.

Trailer

2023-10-24T04:32:34+00:0024 October 2023|Review China|

Say Hero Who Is Hero

Heroes (说英雄谁是英雄) aka “Say Hero Who is Hero” is a Chinese television series that aired between May and June 2022.

About

Wang Xiao Shi (Little Rock) leaves the mountains to travel the world. He makes friends with Su Meng Zhen from the House of Sunset Drizzle, Bai Chou Fei (Cabbage) and Wen Rou. Together they quash evil from mainly the Six Half Hill.

Cast

Baron Chen (陳楚河) as Su Meng Zhen
Although now acting in China this Taiwanese actor we first saw in Bromance.  I didn’t know his deceased Father was a gang leader in Taiwan. I personally preferred him in Bromance than this drama.

Joseph Zeng (曾舜晞) as Wang Xiao
He is an actor and singer, a former member of boy band Fresh Geeks Youth. He has starred in numerous television shows and according to his profile has 6 more coming in 2024 and beyond.

Liu Yu Ning (刘宇宁) as Bai Chou Fei
A pop singer and actor, he is the lead singer of the band Modern Brothers. he has released over 100 singles and TV theme soundtracks. He started as a street performer and now has a lot of fame being involved with many productions.

Review

This was a decent production with a good mix of drama, romance and action. The story line is good, enough to keep ones attention throughout the 38 episodes.

Maybe I’m not used to seeing him in a role like this but I think Baron Chen looked and felt a bit out of place.

The main female character, Wen Rou, came across as a little bit immature and screeching at first. Women are often portrayed as such in Chinese dramas I find. Thankfully the character did develop over time.

Some television and movie databases categorised this as “Wuxia” but I would say it wasn’t full Wuxia. There were some leaps and fighting that were almost super human but not over the top. I would say it’s Wuxia Light.

Unfortunately, some of the camera work made the drama look a bit silly. Some of the scenes where soldiers were running fast were sped up like a Benny Hill chase sequence. I had to laugh, I don’t think I was meant to.

One of the story lines was around the dangers of ambition and that develops throughout the series into an ending that I was not expecting. Many asian shows do not have full happy endings.

Summary

This was a very decent well produced and packaged show definitely worth the time to watch. There would have been some things I would have changed about it but overall I would give it a 4/5.

Where To Watch

I watched it on Viki but its also available on YouTube. Viki is better quality video without commercials.

2023-10-20T23:33:46+00:0020 October 2023|Review China|

A League of Nobleman

A League of Nobleman (君子盟) is a Chinese TV show broadcast between January and February 2023 by Tencent.

About

Zhang Ping is an orphan who is in Beijing to take the civil service entrance exam but due to lack of money makes noodles to sell on the street. Lan Jue is a minister who hides a secret about his youth and his Father’s death.   Zhang Ping, has a knack for his being a detective and helps Lan Jue solve a case, and their partnership, rough and smooth, takes off from there.

Cast

Jing Bo Ran (井柏然) as Lan Jue
He is an actor and singer, who formed the duet “BoBo” with Fu Xin Bo. His career began in 2009 and has taken off from there.  He is 1/8th Russian.

Song Wei Long (宋威龙) as Zhang Ping
He is an actor and model. He signed up to be a model around about 2015. Then in 2016 he was in his first TV drama; Demon Girl, Season 2.

Review

I thought this was a very well done decent drama.

The main story was good with a few story arcs within it of them trying to solve one main case and other smaller cases seemed interconnected in some way.

There was drama, comedy and some action/suspense. There was some good special effects in some of the “dream sequences”. There were people to love and people to dislike completely.

The introductory theme was mainly drum beats with some whooshing here and there, but it was short and didn’t take up too much of the show like some others. The end theme varied a little bit, from time to time.

The set seemed quite familiar, no doubt many of them are filmed in a similar location.

The last 3 or more cliffhanger episodes were quite well done and exciting as everything reached its climax.

I wish they had made the drama longer.

My Score

I would give it a 4/5. Something was missing but not quite sure what.

Where Can I Watch

I watched it on Viki but it can also be found on WeTV, Prime Video (not sure what countries) and Tencent Video.

2023-09-01T23:16:10+00:001 September 2023|Review China|

Eastern Bandits

Eastern Bandits aka An Inaccurate Memoir [匹夫] is a Chinese movie by Beijing Enlight Pictures, released on 23rd April 2012.

About

Set during the Japanese invasion of China, Gao seeks revenge trying to assassinate a visiting commander. Gao encounters a local mafia, a group of bandits, lead by Fang. Fang has a devoted band of followers, who are also his friend, including his sister. They work together to infiltrate the Japanese.

Cast

Huang Ziao Ming [黄晓明] as Fang
A popular actor with a long list of movie and TV show credits although I don’t recall seeing him before. On the gossip side, he married Angelababy (not sure who she is) in 2015 and they were divorced by 2022.
Not sure if this old “official” Instagram account belongs to the actor.

Yi Zhang [张译] as Gao
I recall seeing one movie he was in before, One Second. He has a long list of films, TV series as well.

Review

The opening was fine and I initially had high hopes for the movie, however, it went downhill after a short wile.

On the positive side there was a good balance of drama, action or comedy.

The cinema photography was good, especially with the overhead shots of the view of the mountains. The acting was pretty good, at least thats how they all came across.

It’s biggest let down was the musical score, in my opinion, it just didn’t match what was going on. It felt as though it was trying to be a Chinese cowboy movie which totally didn’t work.

The saving grace was the comical scenes.

I will give it a generous 3/5.

Where Can I Watch

The movie can be found on Tubi. Not sure where else.

Trailer

2023-08-15T21:49:47+00:0015 August 2023|Review China|

New Fong Sai-yuk: The Beginning

New Fong Sai-yukNew Fong Sai-yuk: The Beginning (新方世玉前传侠者无畏) is a Chinese film that was released in 2020, it is 1 hour and 25 minutes long, or kind of short really.

This film has a number of English-translated titles such as:

  • New Fong Sai-Yuk Prequel
  • Fang Shi Yu
  • New Fong Sai Yuk: Battle In Cliff City

About

Fang Shi Yu and his father Fang De visit Hangzhou City to buy goods, however, gets into a fight with the overlord’s assistant and then goes into hiding with Qui Ming in a fabric store until the dust settles. However, the situation escalates when the overlord’s demands on “taxes” go too far.

Actually, the above is my version of the film description but other summaries I’ve seen appear to be much more complex.

Cast

Narisu Bai (白那日苏) as Fang Shi Yu
Not seen him in any other products but appears to have a steady stream of acting jobs.
He studied martial arts since childhood and studied in Japan for 5 years. Fluent in Japanese, English and Mongolian. He is very sporty.

Su Yue (苏月) as Qiu Ming
She appeared in The Untamed, which I’ve heard of, but also Moonshine and Valentine which we saw quite a few years ago.

Norman Chui (徐少強) as Fang De (Shi Yu’s father)
He is from Hong Kong and has appeared in many productions including ones we’ve seen like The Enchanting Phantom, Word of Honor, and Fights Break Sphere

There were other great actors in this film, too many to mention here. The actress who played the Mother (Whirlwind) was brilliant although I can’t find out who she is, she is awfully familiar though.

Review

The film is only 88 minutes in length and I have the feeling it might just be a “Made for TV” one, if it is the case it’s one of the rare good quality ones.

There was martial arts, action, drama and a lot of comedy. It probably has something for everyone. The fight scenes were actually pretty good, and not too overtly violent which is more towards my level of things. Narisu Bai knows martial arts so I suspect this might be one reason why he was chosen for it.

I enjoyed some of the tech items of this century and how they made Flintstone versions of them in the film, such as the telephone and scooters.

Its one downside was the incidental music which at some points was boring and repetitive.

I will give this movie a 4/5.

Where Can I Watch

I watched over Viki but it’s currently uploaded to YouTube.

2023-07-31T21:15:41+00:0031 July 2023|Review China|

Fatal Mission

Fatal Mission (怒江之战) is a Chinese television show consisting of 43 episodes and was broadcast from June to July 2016.

About

It’s 1942 and the Chinese government receive intelligence that the Japanese may be developing a dangerous biological weapon in a remote part of Burma. A special squad is dispatched to the region to stop the Japanese.

The TV show is adapted from the novel “Nu Jiang Zhi Zhan” by Nan Pai Shu and Qian Kun, see the Internet Archive.

Cast

Sean Sun or Sun Yi Zhou (孙艺洲) as Zhao Ban Kuo
He is best known for his appearance in the high-rating show iPartment, I had to look back at an episode to recognise him.

Jia Qing (贾青) as Liao Yi Fang
Appeared in multiple productions but nothing we’ve seen before from what I can see.

George Christopher Tronsrue as “Old Jay”
He is a bilingual American actor from Chicago who played a contingent of the US Forces. His performance was actually pretty good despite the storyline. Even though he is taller than me he looked shorter than the others on Fatal Mission.
IMDB – https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3540596/

Review

This show received fairly good reviews, it had action, romance and a lot of heartache. The message I got from the show, which is familiar for Chinese shows of this type, is that the people are willing to sacrifice everything for the love of their country. However, my preference would be if people came back alive.

Fatal Mission Sassy Picture

There were numerous issues with this show:

  • I very much doubt that women in the Chinese military in the 1940s wore mini-skirts
  • The ending theme gave away major plot lines, so you knew what would happen, to a certain extent, to two main characters.
  • Sean Sun had a lot of love entanglements.
  • I didn’t think the US military wore berets until Vietnam.
  • I swear they had more hair gel with them than arms.
  • During their mission, they were only carrying backpacks however a huge amount of equipment was seen during their trek like tents, weapons, transmitters
  • One minute Gusika couldn’t speak Chinese and the next she could, I don’t think there were any language schools in the jungle.
  • When Knife spoke the aboriginal language someone else with a totally different voice dubbed over him. It was bad.
  • So many episodes they were dealing with irrelevant issues, it became tedious after a while.
  • Towards the end of the season, it was a mistake to let Long Hair blow up the corridors, no good military mind would have let that happen.

It was good to see an actual American actor on a Chinese show just like the Longest Day in Changan.

I think the actors did their best with what they were given, some parts of the storyline were daft.

The ending, well, I would have written it differently. However, I have seen endings like this in other Chinese TV shows and films.

I give this show a 2/5, they scored a point for the explosions.

Where Can I Watch

I saw this show on Viki, a poorer-quality version can be seen on YouTube.

2023-07-23T20:54:30+00:0023 July 2023|Review China|

Eighteen Arhats of Shaolin Temple

Eighteen Arhats of Shaolin TempleEighteen Arhats of Shaolin Temple (少林寺十八罗汉) is a Chinese movie that was released on 20 February 2020.

About

18 Shaolin Kung Fu monks head to take off to the south to help defend the empire’s shores against the Japanese Pirate invasion. Shortly upon their arrival on the Jiangsu-Zhejiang frontline the monks encounter the enemy and attempt to rescue the civilians held hostage by the enemy.

Cast

I don’t know much about the cast in this film.

Xie Miao (谢苗) plays the lead character/monk
I don’t know anything about this actor but he has a very busy resume, especially with films. I don’t believe we have seen him in any other production.

Justin Hu (胡世群) plays Wu Yuan
He has been in a lot of movies but I don’t know anything about this actor either.

Xu Shao Hang (徐绍航) plays Cao Xiao Wei
He is best known for his role in the sci-fi drama “Anti-Japanese Hero” but he is in a show that we are currently watching called The Fatal Mission.

Long Yang Yang (龙杨杨)
He played the comedic character in the film. We haven’t seen him in anything else but would like to as he was very engaging on screen.

Review

This film receives very decent reviews and I thought it was very good and well worth watching. It was only 1 hour and 30 minutes long, I could have watched it for longer and there might have been ways to lengthen the story.

This is basically an action film. I will give full marks for the martial arts which is very well done, it must have taken them weeks to film.

There was quite a bit of comedy which mainly comes from Long Yang Yang but he played a big role in the action and martial arts too. It was very wise to put in the comedy.

The storyline was particularly good especially when the movie is over and you realize what the aim of the storytellers were trying to get across. I won’t hint at what happens.

Summary

I will give this film a 4.5/5. Very good indeed.

Where Can I Watch

I watched this film on Viki, it’s also on YouTube via Q1Q2 Movie Channel and TubiTV. The best-quality version is on Viki as always.

Music

I don’t have a trailer but here is a theme song:

2023-07-13T04:13:18+00:0013 July 2023|Review China|