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Review Being King Is Not Easy

King Not EasyWe have recently finished watching another Chinese TV show called “Being King Is Not Easy”, also known as “King Is Not Easy”, “Not Easy Being King” or by its native title “大王不容易”. The show is a historical costume drama which we enjoyed very much.

About the Show

The show is about a lady, Da Xi, who runs a popular food stand who falls in love with Shao Yong, a Royal Guard. In order to be closer to him, she becomes a maid at the Palace. Through some other uncontrollable events her soul is switched with Ji Man, the Emperor, which is when the hilarity begins.

The show had 20 episodes and was broadcast Wednesday through Saturday between 30 August to 28 September 2017 in China.

Review

Chinese humour isn’t that much different than the British variety and this show also tends to be quite slapstick.  I would say this is one of those shows that is quite a gay-friendly as we are seeing a lot of on Chinese TV right now.  Da Xi, whose soul is inside the Kings, is besotted with Shao Yong, so you see some touchy-feely encounters between the two.  In one of the episodes there is a discussion which goes along the lines of “there is nothing wrong with two men being together”, this I believe is the general Chinese view of homosexuality but the conflict is they are encouraged to have a more traditional family.

So 75% of the show is focused on the body switch situation but towards the end, it goes into another interesting direction to wrap the story up.  I won’t give anything away here.

I am also surprised by the extravagance of Chinese drama’s, for a 20 episode drama they seemed to have spent quite a bit of money on it, for example, the scale of the palace, interior palace sets, costumes and special effects.

Summary

Despite recommending the show to a number of people I think people in the west don’t want to give Chinese dramas a chance. Maybe people are put off by sub-titles or they have certain views about China, I don’t know.  I think the show would suit a younger adult type of audience and hope you give it a chance.

By |2019-05-23T17:04:27+00:00May 23rd, 2019|Television|0 Comments

Moonshine and Valentine

Moonshine and ValentineWe have just finished watching a Chinese TV Series called “Moonshine and Valentine”, this is my review.

The original Chinese name for the series is 结爱·千岁大人的初恋, the English title the show uses is “Moonshine and Valentine” but is also known as “The Love Knot: His Excellency’s First Love”. The show was made in 2018 and its 25 x 45-minute episodes were broadcast in China from 9 May to 13 June 2018.  The only actor I knew from the series was Johnny Huang who I had previously seen in the low budget but internationally popular show “Addicted Heroin”, which isn’t about drugs but a gay relationship.

The storyline can be a little complex. 900 years ago a race of hybrid foxes escaped from their collapsing planet and made home on Earth. Those aliens evolved on Earth taking human form and fit into society although over the years became secretive to whom they are. Many years ago one of the Fox Clan (Helan Xi) fell in love with a woman which never worked out but she was beset with a curse. So, Helan waited through the generations, he doesn’t age, for her resurrection who is in this era is known as Guan Pipi, a journalist. In addition to this, the Foxes split up into a South and North Clans for which there is friction between them both. In the show, there is some supernatural, super hero, sci-fi element to the story but the relationship between Helan and Pipi is at the forefront.

The first noticeable thing about the show is its pace, some people online say it’s very slow but for me, this was something that drew me to it, it did have some pockets of action but not many. The story line was pretty complex but they did well-explaining things, maybe the series could have been longer to explore it a little more. There was one episode that completely went off script and away from the current timeline, at first I was a little confused and wondered if I had missed an episode, but it actually turned out to be the best of the series, wait for episode 24. My two favourites on the show were actors Li Shen (Xiu Xian) and Leo Li (Kuan Yong) whose relationship was amusing and engaging, I’m pleased as support cast they had a lot of air time. Many people complained about the ending and although it’s not how I would have finished the show I’m not sure how they could have re-written it, I doubt if there could have been a second season which is not that common in China anyhow. The best part of the show was the opening title sequence which is a work of art, like a sophisticated comic.

Because the pace of the show is slow this makes the English subtitles more readable.  In many Chinese slow, they speak very quickly and often miss some of what they are saying. I would recommend it and hope you enjoy it.

By |2019-05-10T23:43:29+00:00May 10th, 2019|Television|0 Comments

My Neighbor Charles

My Neighbor CharlesOne of my favourite TV programs from South Korea is “My Neighbor Charles”.

Currently, there is a lot of negativity towards immigrants that I have seen and heard particularly from the United States, this is due to the fear mongering from the current administration there. It is extremely refreshing to have such positive and constructive views of immigrants in this weekly reality TV show.

Every week the program explores the life of immigrants who have moved to South Korea.  A camera crew following the guests round for 2 weeks to learn about their new day-to-day life. They then go into a sit-down studio to discuss their life with four regular hosts.

Most of the guests have really inspiring stories of how successful they have been since landing in South Korea and how they have fit in with society. From the show, locals seem very welcoming to new visitors and keen to learn about new cultures.  The most rewarding part of immigration is that culture arrives in your neighbourhood and can learn many things from the people who have settled there. If only this happened everywhere.

Most of the episodes are placed on YouTube by the broadcaster the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS).

By |2019-01-11T05:06:34+00:00January 11th, 2019|Immigration, South Korea, Television|0 Comments

Circle Two Worlds Connected Review

Circle: Two Worlds Connected” was a sci-fi/mystery television show from South Korea created by broadcaster TvN which aired in 2017. We have just finished viewing all 12 episodes and I really recommend people watch it.

This sci-fi mystery was very unique and innovative, it was set in two time periods; 2017 and 2037. In 2017: It starts off with young twin brothers and their father witnessing an alien arrival, the family take in the woman although would rarely say a word. The twins grow up, while at college a number of suicides occur with fellow students which appear to be linked to one of the twins and possible sightings of the missing “alien”. In 2037: South Korea is divided into General Earth, a heavily polluted place where crimes are common and Smart Earth, a clean and beautiful city/island where no crimes occur until one day there is a murder.

Each episode is 60 minutes in duration with the first 30 minutes set in 2017 and the last 30 minutes in 2037.

Review

The storyline is quite complex in the first episodes and can be tough to keep up with the plot, however, one does become totally transfixed so it’s worth being patient with. There are many unexpected twists and turns that will continue to surprise the audience. The special effects and sets in the 2037 scenes are extremely well done and thought through, especially how technology might evolve by that time period. The acting is very good, the actors put a lot of effort into the production. In many other Korean shows you would see a lot of romance but there was very little of that at all. The music score was quite dramatic, probably too much so at points. There were quite a few unanswered questions which would lead into an interesting season 2, I’ve heard rumours about the studio wanting to make more episodes which I would really encourage them to do.

I really would like to have seen this drama shown in the west, I think it would be popular in the US, Canada and the UK, however, subtitles is not something those countries have the patience for.

DVD

Circle Two Worlds Connected is available in DVD format via YesAsia.

By |2019-01-09T21:53:54+00:00January 9th, 2019|South Korea, Television|0 Comments

Lost in Space Review

Netflix LISThis year Netfilx released an updated version of the classic 1960s TV Series Lost in Space. There was a lot of apprehension among fans whether it would meet their standards especially as word got out that it wouldn’t be that familiar with the original.

From what I gather the writers and producers wanted this version to reflect how the original series would have been written in 2018 and taking out the pop-art/camp feel out of it. They thought some of the 1960s storylines just didn’t make sense, for example, why would Earth send just one family into space to colonize Alpha Centauri and not many of them. They also wanted a non-traditional family who have modern day issues, even though events are set into the future.

I have only seen 5 out of the 10 episodes so far but this is what I think of the series to date.

The Good Stuff

  • It was great to see Bill Mumy make a small appearance as Dr Smith.
  • The special effects and location filming were very well done. I am so pleased they chose British Columbia, where we live, to film the series.
  • The actors who played the children were very believable and played well.
  • The theme music from the 3rd series of the original was re-used in part.

The Not So Cool Stuff

  • The character that replaced Dr Smith, who was now a murderer rather than a petty criminal like the original, was not that believable and quite annoying.
  • The Maureen Robinson character was extremely annoying, just 3 episodes into the series and I was hoping they would kill her off.
  • Some of the science was a little bit bizarre but I guess the 1960s version of the show was as well.
  • The robot being an alien rather than originating from Earth was a little disappointing but I guess the producers thought the technology to build one in that era wouldn’t be possible.
  • Instead of Debbie being a monkey type character, or the Bloop as they would call it in the 1960s, it turned out to be a chicken. I did cringe a lot at that and wished they had just left it out.

Overall, I didn’t feel engaged with the series and they failed to get me emotionally attached to it. It felt like a completely different show which they didn’t really need to brand it as “Lost in Space”. Many companies are trying to re-launch established brands with an existing audience but this didn’t quite work out.

Other Reviews

I think I am more alone in my thinking that I wasn’t impressed with the series, from the fans the majority of them do like the new series. I would say there is about 15% of those that were not impressed, but I could be wrong.

What’s Next

The show has been renewed for a 2nd season, not sure when that will be shown on Netflix, it took quite a long time to develop and film season 1. Often the 1st season of a show isn’t that great so I will look forward to how they develop the show.

By |2018-08-08T04:45:52+00:00August 8th, 2018|Television|0 Comments

Fabulous Boys Review

Fabulous Boys

Fabulous Boys is the Taiwanese version of the Korean TV Show “You’re Beautiful”. This is in the top 3 of all the Asian shows I have seen so far.

Storyline

The story is about the management company of the boyband A.N.JELL insisting on adding a new singer to the group as the lead, Tai Jing, due to problems with his voice. However, the new member, Mei Nan, had to go to the States to repair an eye operation failure just before signing the contract. His agent came up with the idea of having his twin sister, Mei Nu, to stand in for him and pretend that she was her brother. The two of them grew up in an orphanage and Mei Nu, who was all set to become a nun, agreed to this charade as she didn’t want to spoil her brother’s chance of fame which would make it easier to look for their mother.

Actors

Where to Watch

I think there are many online video services you can view this but I watched it on DramaFever which is a great resource of many other Asian shows.

Review (SPOILERS)

I have noticed quite a few, what they call, “gender bender” type shows in the Asian peninsula which I believe allows the producers to address some sexuality issues in a hidden kind of manner. The most interesting part of the show is where Jeremy, one of the band members, fell for Mei Nu suggesting he is gay but upon finding out her real gender, being female, also liked her a lot – this suggested that he is in fact bisexual.  The bisexuality was never addressed head-on but knew that is what the writers were suggesting.

Like some other Taiwanese shows, the script was fluffy, thoughtful, emotional, and hoped for happy ending throughout the series. There weren’t many characters I disliked, all were lovely in their own way with exception to one who turned out to be adorable at the end.  This show also felt emotionally intelligent from the perspective that everyone has feelings, can be hurt and some people are going through issues that other characters would understand but wouldn’t give up on their friends just because they were in a tight spot.

Apart from the actress who played Mei Nu the other three actors that played band members are successful musicians in their own right which made the music sound great too, they released an album to along with the series as they do many Asian dramas. Jiro Wang and Evan Yo were particularly good in their musical roles.

Summary

I will likely re-watch this series at some later date as I enjoyed it so much.

My rating: 5/5

By |2018-08-08T04:13:39+00:00July 17th, 2018|Taiwan, Television|0 Comments

Chinese Television

Since my husbands family watches a lot of Chinese Television I have just started exploring what the country has to offer and some of shows are pretty exciting.  I would recommend the following.

Tribes and Empires: Storm of Prophecy

This is one of the most elaborate television shows I have ever seen with amazing production quality, gorgeous sets, stunning backdrop and great acting.  It makes Game of Thrones look like a home made movie. The story line is fairly complex and in some episodes you have to pay close attention.

The 75 episode series is an adaptation of a book written by Jin Hezai, the series cost US$45m+ to make, filmed in both China and Japan, and filming the series started in August 2015 ending May 2016. It started broadcasting in China in November 2017 and DramaFever in the US which means they had spent quite a few months in post-production. English subtitles are provided over DramaFever.

Addicted

Due to the human rights situation in China the country is unknown to have any gay-related dramas, however they are not unknown.  One that has received international interested is called Addicted, and yes, people round the world are addicted to this show. I was extremely impressed with the show.

Addicted is an online based web serial based on the novel “Are You Addicted?” by Chai Jidan. Filming spanned from November to December 2015, airing between January to February 2016, with an extremely small budget of US$794k. The actors on the show were virtually unknown but have become quite famous now. The show lasted 15 episodes in its first season and there were plans for a second, however Chinese authorities, from what I understand, banned it. Viewers were mainly female who evidently have a keen interest on gay relationships.

In The Name of the People

Haven’t got too much into this drama so far but many are calling it China’s “House of Cards”. Well, that is not true but it is a pretty good show full of suspense and drama. Online the show is sometimes called “In The Name of People” dropping “the” for some reason, maybe this is a lost in translation moment.

Like the above shows its based on a novel, the author is Zhou Meisen. It is based around a prosecutor’s efforts to uncover corruption in a present-day fictional city in China. The show is very popular in China as there are some story lines which are very coincidental to real life. I think the show receives some government funding therefore it virtually untouched by censors so it can get away with more than other shows I suspect. The show has won numerous awards and nominated for many others. So far 55 episodes were broadcast over a month between March and April 2017, not sure if there are any more in the works.

The Lost Tomb

This is another show we have been watching, not as good as the above but it is quite amusing none the less. We are half way through season one and its quite watchable.

The show aired in 2015 and is a web series based on a novel by Daomu Biji. The first season had 10 epsiodes and a further 7 seasons will be made, as yet I haven’t seen them come to light. The show was the most watched online drama in 2015 with 2.8 billion views, that is quite amazing. I would say the show is a close approximation to Indiana Jones.

Summary

There are some really great Chinese drama’s out there absolutely worth looking up, many have subtitles if you can if you don’t know Mandarin or Cantonese. I have looked at other Asian drama’s too from countries like South Korea which also look amazing. Happy viewing.

By |2018-08-06T17:14:55+00:00February 1st, 2018|Television|0 Comments