Three Body (三体) is a Chinese SciFi TV show that was broadcast between January thru February 2023, there were a total of 30 episodes. The alternative title is Three Body Problem.
Actually, I’m not qualified to review it since I dropped it after episode 6.
I dropped it as it was dragging so much that I fell asleep during parts of the last episode I saw. Then, I lost the plot. Other people said it was painfully slow up to the middle of the series.
From what I saw it was a unique show and had an original presentation and storyline.
Just because I didn’t care for it I recommend giving it a go, it might be up your street. Many reviews I’ve seen give it good scores, around 8.1 out of 10. It received 7.8 on Internet Movie Database. It won 3 awards including “TV Series of the Year” by Weibo.
This is one of the few shows I’ve dropped, I’m quite selective about what I watch.
Where to Watch
It’s available on Viki, and some other streaming platforms.
Da Peng (董成鹏 as Zhuge Qingyun He seems very familiar but as far as I can tell we’ve only seen him in a brief appearance in Detective Chinatown 1.
This is mainly a martial arts action movie so don’t have high expectations about a sophisticated script. The Internet Movie Database description, above, is probably all one can say about it, for me. It was rated fairly badly on IMDB and some other websites.
The CGI was great and seemed pretty advanced, must have spent some time putting it together. The fish was the best, I gave it an extra mark because of that special effect. I also liked the way the text was embedded into the movie, quite a unique concept, I’d like to be able to replicate that somehow.
The film was saved from worse reviews with the humour, and actors Ni Ni and Da Peng who were a definite draw.
There is a sequel, Fantasy Magician, which receives the same reviews as the first one, although we haven’t found it anywhere to watch it. It doesn’t star Ni Ni or Da Peng, it wasn’t directed by Yuen Woo Ping.
I would give it a 4/5, I appreciate the hard work they put into this product.
The movie can be found on Viki. I understand it might be on Netflix but certainly not here in Canada.
The Sleuth of Ming Dynasty (成化十四年) is a Chinese TV Show broadcast on the iQiyi network in 2020.
“In 15th-century China, a quick-witted government official named Tang Fan takes a break from his routine activities in order to investigate a murder, teaming up with martial arts specialist guardsman Sui Zhou in a bid to solve the case.”
Darren Chen aka Chen Guan Hong (官鴻) as Tang Fan
Darren is from Taiwan, an actor and singer, who made his acting debut in 2016 on the fantasy drama Proud of Love which lasted two seasons, he then went onto the Chinese remake of Meteor Garden. Now he seems very much in demand. Instagram
Fu Meng Bo (傅孟柏) as Sui Zhou
He is also born in Taiwan. He did military service, and then started filming commercials. He went on to act being nominated and won numerous awards, he won the 52nd Taiwan TV Golden Bell Award with “The Last Poem” movie. He has played the main role in the majority of TV drama’s he’s been in. He wanted to be a photographer which is reflected in his Instagram account. Instagram
Liu Yao Yuan (刘耀元) as Wang Zhi and Yang Fu
He is an actor and singer who graduated from the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Opera. Baidu
The show was produced by Jackie Chan, and many reviewers have commented that he left his mark on the show.
The novel of the same name, by Meng Xi Shi, was supposedly more gritty that the TV series. It also contained elements of a closer relationship between Tang Fan and Sui Zhou but of course, Chinese censors wouldn’t allow such a thing. There were, eventually, signs of more mutual respect for each other.
It contained all the elements of a costume drama but this show was different. There appeared to be more emotion and I really appreciate how they dealt with some important issues notably PTSD, other mental health issues and veterans’ affairs. They didn’t quite get everything right, especially with Dementia, but it was a good effort.
On the negative side, Darren Chen’s character was quite annoying at times. For fans, I don’t think the actor can go wrong with whatever he does.
There was a good combination of a great story, humour, drama and action. There were some unique things in there, like the bombing of the city. The bombs seemed very sophisticated for that time period. Then there was the flying machine…!
The show wasn’t categorized as wuxia but there was certainly some of that as action sequences included flying onto roofs and so on. I wonder if Jackie Chan had a hand in the action choreography, some of the scenes appeared to be very unique.
The show is absolutely worth watching, I will give it 4.5/5.
Where to Watch
It can be found on iQiyi, Viki and I understand it might be on Apple TV USA.
The Teahouse (茶馆) is a movie from China that was released in 1982.
Taken from Internet Movie Database (IMDB):
“An old teahouse in Beijing serves as the stage for a drama that unfolds over several tumultuous decades of modern Chinese history, from the waning days of the Qing dynasty to the eve of the People’s Republic.”
The film was adapted from a book/theatre play by Lao She.
There is also a TV series of the same name produced by CCTV that aired in 2010.
I’m not confident about who played which character in this film so I will keep this section blank.
The film felt like a theatre play with some bells and whistles attached to it.
It was almost biographical in nature as they take us on a journey of one man’s life owning a teahouse and the numerous colourful characters around him. I noted how the teahouse started as a bustling and ornate establishment then fell into hard times over the years until I guess, after the time span of the history of the film, these kinds of places closed down for good.
The characters were over the top with the possible exception of the teahouse owner. On display was the corruption of officials, paying them off or working with them to leave the owner and others alone. It covered how poor people sold their children for next to nothing, doing business in the tea house itself. Also, how explosions were heard nearby during unsettled times and how the tea house handled those situations.
Despite the pressure, the tea house owner wasn’t going to move out despite the pressure, saying he lived and would die there. We never get to see what happened to him in the end.
The make-up department did tremendous work ageing the actors, so realistic. The actors really got into their roles as old geezers too.
I would rate this film as a 4.5/5, it’s worth seeing if you can sit through a theatre play-type production.
Where To See It
The movie and translation are difficult to find but are available on DVD if you can find a copy.
Detective Chinatown is a series of movies where detectives are challenged by cases in different Chinatown’s round the globe. The second instalment is based in New York City, USA, here is a review of Detective Chinatown 2 (唐人街探案2).
Detectives Qin Feng and Tang Ren fly to New York when the Chinatown godfather Uncle Qi’s missing son turns into a murder investigation. It is up to them to track down the killer but in competition with members of the International Detective Alliance as the winner will receive $5m.
Liu Hao Ran (刘昊然) plays Qin Feng
Best known for entertainment shows and movies. A very busy actor with confirmed contracts for 7 upcoming movies and 3 entertainment TV shows. He is one of three Chinese celebrities listed for Forbes 30 under 30 Asian celebrities. He is best known for the Detective Chinatown series. He is often known as Turbo Liu. Instagram
Wang Bao Qiang (王宝强) plays Tang Ren
Best known for movies, he is also a singer and has won numerous awards. They have certainly put a lot of makeup on him in the film, he is hardly recognizable from his true self.
The thing about this movie is that they must have a lot of cooperation with US government entities to make it happen. I would have thought they need immigration clearance to bring in such a large crew. Also, closing down some streets in New York for filming is something you don’t see that often. There is a mix of mainly Chinese actors but quite a few US-based ones too, it was good to see them all work together.
When I see the reviews some say they have a lot of stereotypical roles on the western side but I’m not sure it was racist as some suggested. At times they did portray Americans as being stupid but there was a very positive US-orientated song!
The movie itself was pretty outstanding. Sometimes slapstick but most often completely ridiculous and hilarious. It is escapism. We have a super-brain detective and his sidekick who is a complete buffoon, but the team-up works well.
There is a lot of CGI and some of the bystanders must have thought “what the heck is going on” as Liu Hao Ran waved his arms while being filmed for the special effects to be added later.
In one street scene, you could see at the end of the block that NYPD has closed off the street for the filming. There weren’t many errors like this but when one was made it stood out like a sore thumb.
The script, well, was very simple. There was nothing profound about the story, just fun and antics. The “routine” in Time Square at the end was brilliant, very jolly. There were some continuity issues in parts of the story, like transition mishaps between scenes.
This movie is absolutely worth the watch. I would give it a 4.5 out of 5.
Detective Chinatown 3, in Japan, has been released a couple of years ago and the actors have signed up for 4 and 5 already. It’s turning into a franchise.
Where To Watch
It’s available on Viki. I watched it on Tubi. I think it’s supposed to be on Netflix but certainly not in Canada. See this page to review a list of places you can see Asian programming.
The Four (四大名捕) is a Chinese movie released on 12th July 2012. The film was due to be the first part of a trilogy, I notice parts 2 and 3 have also been released.
Counterfeit money circulating around the capital of the Song Dynasty and The Department of Six Constabulary and Divine Constabulary are sent to investigate. However, there is a conflict between the two constabularies and eventually, the Divine one is suspended, however, they do continue with the work in an unauthorized manner.
Crystal Liu (刘亦菲) as “Emotionless”
I have not heard of this actress before however she was chosen by Disney in 2017 to play the role of Hua Mulan in the 2019 remake.
Collin Chou (邹兆龙) as “Iron Hands”
He appears to have started his film career in 1988 playing the main role in “Shy Spirit”. He is a Hong Kong based Taiwanese actor and martial artist. He played Seraph in the Matrix films. He studied at Pierce Community College in Los Angeles. Official Website
Ronald Cheng (郑中基) as “Chaser”
He is a Hong Kong Cantopop singer and movie actor. We have seen him in one of the “All’s Well, Ends Well” movies. Instagram
Deng Chao (邓超) as “Cold Blood”
He is a popular Chinese actor and singer, who has directed 4 movies and will do the same with “Ping-Pong of China” which has an unknown release date. We have seen him in a few productions including “My People, My Homeland”, “Midnight Diner” and “The Mermaid”.
Sheren Tang (鄧萃雯) as Aunt Poise
We were really surprised to see Sheren pop up in this movie, playing a support role. Of course, she is an amazing Hong Kong actress who we’ve seen in a number of TV shows.
Even though this movie is based on the novel “Si Da Ming Fu” by Wan Rui An, we feel it was similar to a superhero movie with characters having superpowers that of the X-Men, Fantastic Four or Avengers.
The production company was really lucky to have the cast they had, what the movie lacked the actors made up for. The film was about the cast and the action.
The action scenes were done really well, very exciting, with great special effects and well coordinated.
The script wasn’t thought-provoking or artistic in any way, as I said it was an action movie not comparable to the work of Shakespeare.
Some of the “tech” in the movie was quite interesting, for example, the wheelchair that would move by “thought control” rather than using your arms.
The movie has quite a bit of wuxia in it and for 2012 it was very well done for back then. Actually, I wasn’t expecting the wuxia part but it was very welcome.
Internet Movie Database users only scored it 5.7/10 and it was much much better than that. Not sure why Asian movies get rated lower on that platform. On Asian-based sites, it had much better reviews. However, according to IMDB, it did make US$30m which sounds pretty decent, although I don’t know how much it cost to make.
Strange Legend of Tang Dynasty is a Chinese 36 part TV series that was broadcast between 27 September thru 12 October 2022.
It is also known as “Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty” and is based on a novel by Wei Feng Hua.
Ling Feng, General of the Jin Wu Guards and Su Wu Ming, a disciple of Di Ren Jie, work together to solve numerous mysterious cases including that of a strange fountain of youth herb named the Black Tea in which those who take it die after a short period of time.
Yang Xu Wen (杨旭文) as Lu Ling Feng
Officially entered show business in 2014 he has become one of those “in-demand” actors with 8 upcoming contracts. As far as I can see he has only done 1 movie and the rest TV shows. He was billed first in this drama although I thought it was initially about Su Wu Ming.
Yang Zhi Gang (杨志刚) as Su Wu Ming
His sibling is a famous screenwriter and producer Guo Jing Yu.
A decent list of TV shows to his name, but no movie productions. He will be the Chief Producer of the upcoming drama Hua Xin Wang Ye Gong Lue (花心王爷攻略), which is supposedly a time travel web series in the comedy romance genre.
Strange Legend was one of those surprise shows I didn’t expect to be so good.
There was a great mixture of fantasy, wuxia, mystery and comedy. If you are a fan of Detective Dee then this show is a must for you.
There appeared to be great chemistry between the cast, in the “making of” videos plus within the shows. Then there were the little pockets of really funny moments, especially in the final moments of the last show where they just seemed to make fun of themselves, reminding me of Stargate SG1.
The script was often a little complicated with the mysteries but was probably done on purpose as you saw Detective Dee’s disciple figure everything out while putting all the threads together. I don’t think it’s the purpose of the show for the audience to figure it out as I think it’s impossible. Over the 36 episodes, there are various mysteries they are challenged with, like different story arcs and one central theme.
Looking through how people are commenting on the show they 1) hope there will be a second season and 2) are looking for shows that are in a similar style. I think it would be difficult what they captured in this show.
One of the genres it was classed under was “Horror” and I didn’t think it was, more like fantasy, wuxia, mystery, thriller and comedy.
I will give this a 5/5, an absolute must-see show.
Where Can I Watch
You can see the show on either the official iQiYi website or its YouTube channel. Note that there are only a few of the first episodes available for free and the rest are pay-per-view.
Really? [我说的都是真的] is a Chinese Movie released on 30th March 2018. It is also known by several other titles including “All I Say Is True”.
Han Zhi Gang exaggerates, or lies, about many things including his potential hunt for treasure in Iraq. He then witnesses what he thinks is a kidnapping and the victim’s death. He is then chased by the criminals as they try to kill the witness. As he is a compulsive liar no one believes his story except his daughter.
Wu Yue [吴樾] plays Han Zhi Gang
He has a long list of credits both in TV and film, we may have seen some of the films, like IP Man 4, that he’s been in.
There weren’t many others we recognized but I will give a special mention to:
Shao Bing [ 朱云峰] who played Ma Shuang
The reason why he gets a special mention is I think he was the funniest character in the film. Baidu Profile
The film was enjoyable but it wasn’t great. The actors and crew obviously worked hard on this project.
Some of the CGI and artwork in this movie were unique, I enjoyed it for that alone, it was very well done. We thought the plane landing in the opening sequence was animated at first, but I suspect it was some fiddling with the camera view.
The script, well, there was nothing really new in it and there were spots in the movie that was a little bit boring, maybe a good time to go make a cup of coffee.
I would say it was very “slapstick” in style, a comedy of errors, especially the parts where the criminals tried to kill the kidnapping witness.
The moral of the story was of course “if you keep lying no one will believe you when you are telling the truth”.
I think the movie is good to have in the background and turn your attention to it when something exciting happens. I give it 2.5/5.
There was a small clip of Hillary Clinton towards the end of the movie. I believe it was from 2016, so that was 2 years prior to when the movie was made. It didn’t appear derogatory in any way unless I missed something.
Ying Yang Master (侍神令) is a Chinese movie that was released on 12th February 2021 playing on and commissioned by Netflix.
Part of the official summary of the movie:
“Captain of the City Guard Yuan Boya is stripped of rank after the imperial tribute he was guarding is stolen. Unwilling to let things lie, he searches for the thieves, only to end up entering a mystical world of demons.”
There is a sequel called “The Ying Yang Master: Dream of Eternity” but not really related to the first and has a different cast.
Chen Kun (陳坤) as Qin Ming
I immediately recognized him as he played Ning Yi on The Rise of Phoenixes, also commissioned by Netflix. A popular actor with a long string of TV shows and Movies. Instagram
Zhou Xun (周迅) as BaiNi
Don’t think we have seen her in anything else but she is also a singer as well as an actor, and internationally recognized.
Qu Chu Xiao (屈楚萧) as Yuan Bo Ya
Started his acting career in 2016 and appears to be gaining in popularity. Instagram
This movie generally receives very good reviews, from reading comments Chen Kun was one of the main attractions with a huge fan base.
I will sum up my thoughts; this movie is about special effects and not really about the story.
The special effects were very well done and it must have been quite a task to put this movie together. However, there was really too much going on-screen throughout and I diverted my eyes through quite a few moments. At one point I almost fell asleep.
It’s great that they are so advanced now with CGI but the story has to be the main focus which this movie severely lacked. So, unfortunately, I will rate it as 2 out of 5. If action and special effects are your things then this is the movie for you.
Where To See It
Seems that this movie is only available on Netflix given that it was commissioned by them.
This is a review of the Chinese movie The Ark of Mr Chow (少年班) which was released on 19th June 2015.
Xi’an Jiaotong University has a gifted student program. Its director takes on students, who are geniuses but are also misfits. How will the students get along there? Will they be ready to take part in the international competition to solve tough maths questions?
The following are actors of note, to me:
Honglei Sun (孙红雷) plays Zhou Zhi Yong
Always wanted to be in acting, started break dancing, gave up studies to pursue dancing, then got into acting with many TV and Movies under his belt.
Wang Lixin (王栎鑫) plays Mai Ke
He looks awfully familiar but I don’t think we’ve seen him in anything. He is a pop singer and actor. The YouTube video below show’s his singing abilities.
Liu Xi Long (柳希龙) plays Wang Da Fa
He seemed to play the oddest of the oddballs in the film. I can’t find much about this actor, The Ark of Mr Chow may have been his first performance on screen. He has also done a TV series called Tientsin Mystic, seasons 1 and 2.
I thought this was quite gritty and open for a Chinese film. it felt like the antics I might see in a US film but with clearly Chinese themes.
None of the students fit in, they were completely out of place in that environment, and emotionally not quite with it. They were definitely like geniuses without direction.
The actors were very good in their roles. Each of the students had distinct personalities that the actors could get their teeth into. The role that stood out among all of them was the child actor, he got all the love. Wang Li Xin’s role stood out for me.
There was a lot of laughs, many dramatic scenes, some CGI and fairly good cinematography. I don’t think the camera work stood out, I don’t think that was the vocal point in the film.
The film is categorized as a comedy/drama, but I don’t think I would use the word comedy at all, I would just say there were some amusing moments.
This is another film that is under-rated, I would personally give it a 4.5/5.