Word of Honor – Light Chaser

4 Apr

Ahhh… still not out of the WoH pit! How can I be when Youku is still stringing us along with the behind-the-scenes clips filled with thought, laughter, sugar and subtle knives? I’m also slowly re-watching WoH together with this reaction series with 5 (occasionally 4) guys and they have some super funny comments.

Beauty Ghost giving her work report to WKX

In Ep11 where Ah Xu’s internal injuries act up and WKX hastily moves over to transfer some energy to him.

Guy in white: Can’t WKX just play the flute?

Guy in green: Playing the flute is like wifi, it’s wireless. This is plugging in the internet cable, the transfer is faster!

Guy in white agreeing: Efficiency is more important in such critical time

They are up to ep12 and I can’t imagine their reaction when all the big knives start coming out in later episodes. Unfortunately it’s all in Chinese… but if you do understand Chinese definitely do check them out!

Re-watching this again reminded me of how I was lured into the world of WoH by our crazy beauty WKX and his shameless flirting, but I ended up a sobbing mess by the end at how Ah Xu and Lao Wen save each other. To be very honest, my heart leans towards WKX. His earlier brazen antics are just his shield against the world and as he slowly falls for Ah Xu, you can see him getting softer and smaller around Ah Xu. IMO the turning point was in ep12 when WKX realizes that Ah Xu believes he is / can be a good person. WKX had no qualms about burning with the world to get vengeance for his parents because what does it matter even if he dies? What value is there living as this half person half ghost? It is exactly because WKX had a heart, he had a family, he had love that he despises the person that he had become even more. But here someone is telling him, no, there is a path back, there is good in you.

I see the good in you.

I see you.

That’s why WKX keeps struggling with hiding his identity because while ZZS keeps reassuring WKX through words and actions, there’s always a part of WKX that believes he is not worthy of someone like ZZS. The greater his desire for light, the greater his fear of rejection.

I’ve seen some viewers go as far as to say that in the last episode WKX was disrespecting ZZS by intending to sacrifice his life for ZZS, because ZZS would hate for someone else to give up their life for this, and ZZS wanted to live free instead of being trapped in the cold mountain. Now, regardless of what you think of the plot’s progression that led to this point in the story, there is just no other way that WKX would’ve chosen. WKX literally cannot live without Ah Xu and in his mind obviously he must give Ah Xu a chance at life. Ah Xu has Cheng Ling, has Qi Ye, has Da Wu, has a host of Four Season Manor disciples waiting for him. Someone will take care of Ah Xu, someone will make Ah Xu smile again. But WKX without his Ah Xu is nothing.

So really, I cannot blame WKX for not fully comprehending how much he means to ZZS because he hasn’t been loved and treasured since his parents died. While he received some human touch from Gu Xiang and maybe even Luo Yi in his formative years, how can he not be emotionally stunted from growing up in the Ghost Valley?

I’ve always thought of the song Light Chaser 追光者 (lyrics translation) when seeing WKX look at Ah Xu, and indeed someone has made a fan MV!

你看我多么渺小一个我

因为你有梦可做

也许你不会为我停留

那就让我站在你的背后

Word of Honor – to have your heart as mine

27 Mar

My thoughts and feelings have been all over the place since I finished Word of Honor so don’t mind me just throwing out anything that comes to mind in this space. Head over to Lovefia’s post for a more coherent review of the drama!

What a ride is has been with WoH, from the initial crazy fangirling at Wen Ke Xing’s shameless flirting, to slowly getting drawn into the game of cat and mouse between the jianghu players plotting against each other, and of course journeying with Lao Wen and Ah Xu as they found light and redemption from their past in each other. Maybe the bar had been set so low for drama watching that I would have been perfectly happy with being entertained by beautiful people flirting and falling in love for 36 episodes, plot or no plot. I mean, I fast-forwarded half of Under the Power 锦衣之下 and the main couple did put a smile on my face whenever they appeared and I had no complaints about that. But but but. WoH came out of nowhere to prove that good storytelling can happen, that characters can be alive! It’s made even all the more precious knowing the restrictions the production faced from their scheduling being thrown off by Covid, lack of budget, to censorship constrains given its BL origins.

It wasn’t a perfect drama and valid criticisms were made for some later episodes but for me, the world and character/relationship build up to that point have been sufficient for me to understand WKX/ZZS to fill in the blanks where the drama isn’t explicit in showing and… I’d say that’s job well done enough. I saw a number of viewers being angry and disappointed by ep31-36, and that’s fine. Drama watching is a subjective affair after all, coloured by the viewer’s experiences and expectations so I can only say I’m personally happy with WoH in its entirety, and grateful that this production with a heart wasn’t axed by the censorship board midway!

There’s 2 parts to the ep31-36 discussion. One, the way the story was presented on screen, and second, the actual plot points/development. Great care had been taken to slowly develop WKX/ZZS’s relationship up to ep30 and the plot just reached a new tension height with ZZS taken by Prince Jin, so naturally audiences were holding their breath to see how Lao Wen would lose his mind to save his Ah Xu. And… it was kinda anti climatic? I don’t have a problem with the scene in itself, I was of course swooning at WKX literally flying in with all his Demon Valley Master glory and snark to chase Duan Peng Ju away and bowing in front of Ah Xu without hesitation as his shidi. But the lack of follow up to that build up really threw me off and 31-32 was just jammed full of plot movement while not giving enough visual cues to link the various scenes together. I appreciate that WoH is a drama that leans towards showing instead of telling (we need more of that in dramaland!), but 31-32 was a lot of half showing and not telling which made me constantly go huh?? When did that happen? We will never know what went on behind the scenes that resulted in the jarring ep31-32, I can only guess that the production had to force 40+ episodes worth of content into 36 due to resource limitations and they had to fastforward the plot themselves!

Moving on to the second point, a good number of viewers are unhappy about WKX keeping ZZS in the dark about his fake!death plan which led to ZZS suicidally forcing out his nails, and by extension feeling that ZZS got the short end of the stick in this relationship given the subsequent developments. Would it have been healthy communication 101 for WKX to discuss his plans with ZZS? Sure, but our boy WKX is not known as Psycho Wen without reason and as much as ZZS has guided him on the path back to the human world, he has behind him years worth of emotional baggage and trauma. It’s partially the fault of the editing / visual presentation of plot mentioned above that makes it unclear on first viewing how much time passed between WKX/ZZS parting and WKX ‘coming back from the dead’, but going by WKX’s original plan, it should be a 1-2 day project and ZZS should still be recuperating in peace when WKX returns in his ‘human form’. It wouldn’t be out of character to me for WKX to want to do this by himself and wrap the result in a bow to present to ZZS. I can almost imagine WKX standing there proud as a peacock going ‘Look Ma Ah Xu! I did this all by myself!’ It has always been his dream to stand in front of his Ah Xu as a ‘clean’ person. As much as ZZS repeatedly showed and told him that he is loved completely and unreservedly as he is, it is WKX himself that is rejecting his own past, and therefore fears that ZZS would reject him the same way like what he tells ZZS in that (SO PERFECT) hugging scene in ep34.

And as with life, things often don’t go the way you plan even with the best of intentions and WKX returns victorious to his Ah Xu who is now going to die in days instead. 不合时宜 – untimely, it’s how WKX described his life. Always so near yet so far, and it has once again taken an untimely turn through this time it’s ZZS bearing the brunt of it. Yet, they still found something precious in return. The encounter with Ye Baiye has shown WKX that ZZS is 120% on his side but I don’t think he truly comprehended the lengths that ZZS would go to for him until he saw ZZS jumping off the cliff after him with no hesitation. And for ZZS, he sampled the immeasurable grief and rage that burned within WKX from the death of his parents. Yes, untimely indeed, but even through that their understanding of each other was deepened.

It’s hard not to feel for ZZS post ep33 knowing that he made such a big sacrifice over a lie, but even as ZZS griefs silently over the lost dreams and possibilities, he is truly happy for WKX. ZZS regrets how things turned out but I don’t think he regrets doing what he did. It is what it is. ZZS accepted it, and so do I.

As for some viewers being upset over WKX apparently not doing enough for ZZS, I can only say that love is not a neat 50/50 split in giving and receiving the exact same things. ZZS is WKX’s light, and I’d like to think that WKX is ZZS’s warmth. ZZS left Tian Chuang as a man disillusioned with the world, a lone wanderer in this vast jianghu counting down his days on earth. But then WKX happened and ZZS found a person to drink with, a person that calls him Ah Xu Ah Xu Ah Xu incessantly, a person that makes him feel that living can be such a good thing.

After finding out about ZZS’s nail situation, WKX accepts ZZS’s attitude about not wanting to be treated at the cost of losing his skills but he constantly keeps this at the back of his mind and asks about treating Ah Xu whenever there appears to be a chance. Later when they returned to the Four Seasons Manor, WKX literally cooked and cleaned for Ah Xu! XD Oh yes, when they fell off the bridge at Long Yuan Ge it was also implied that WKX used his body to break the fall for his Ah Xu. These are all kept in ZZS’s heart, hence he can say confidently to WKX, I don’t know when you are coming, how you are coming, but I know you will come. I don’t believe ZZS ever felt he was loved less by WKX, in fact I think ZZS felt equal parts joy in loving WKX and being loved in return.

And therein lies the beauty of WoH for me.

相见恨晚幸未晚 幸得君心似我心

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Word of Honor musings

4 Mar

Ah, Word of Honor 山河令 . It’s been a while since a drama got me fangirling this hard, enough to get me writing again! If you aren’t watching it yet, head over to AvenueX’s video to get a summary of what the fuss is all about.

Leading man Wen Ke Xing had me hooked from the first moment he appeared, with his charming smile and shameless flirting with our other leading man Zhou Zi Xu. While he has me all heart eyes over the 10 episodes I have watched so far, the appeal of WoH for me is more than that. It’s been a long time since I had a good ol’ wuxia drama that is not yet another remake of Louis Cha’s novel. 仙侠 xian xia (genre featuring magic / deities / demons etc) has been pretty popular in the last few years, why so hard to give me more wuxia?? Ancient Detective 侠探简不知 was a pretty decent effort considering their budget constraints, though it was held back somewhat by lead couple’s acting and their relationship got a bit meh towards the end after a strong start. And my Listening Snow Tower 听雪楼 … sigh. I really enjoyed the novel collection (I even loved the novel sequel which book fans seem to hate on lol) but in the drama adaptation, the scriptwriter changed the female lead set up so much she was practically a different person and I couldn’t bear to watch the drama. Anyway, point is WoH is giving me a new jianghu to indulge in as we uncover WKX’s plan but by bit.

In terms of the characters, if the online comments are to go by everyone is losing their minds fangirling over WKX and his Ah Xu, and who could blame them? Haa, but I also love WKX’s relationship with Gu Xiang. We haven’t gotten the back story to their history in the ghost valley, but while WKX controls the rest of the ‘ghosts’ by fear, he clearly has a close and trusting relationship with Gu Xiang. If they hadn’t cross paths with ZZX, it would have been them against the world in the execution of WKX’s revenge plan and I’m glad at least WKX had the faithful Ah Xiang by his side all those years before.

While they are technically master and servant, he indulges her whims and gets big brother protective when he sees her with another guy haha.

Do you think I’m crazy? Aren’t you scared I’ll go crazy one day and kill you?

I’ll follow you even if you’re crazy. And if you kill me, I’ll follow you as a ghost!

They have probably walked a long and difficult path together to get where they are today, and Ah Xiang has embraced her master for all of his beautiful façade and hidden demons.

But for all that Ah Xiang is to WKX, she is not his equal. For that, we have ZZX.

Looking forward to see their relationship develop as more secrets come to light and for these two lost souls to find their redemption together.

Watch Word of Honor here with Eng Subs! It pains me a little to spell ‘honor’ the American way but most people are spelling it that way so … XD

Thai dramas finally airing in Singapore!

19 Apr

Hey guys, hope everyone is doing well under the current Covid19 circumstances. I’ve been staying at home mostly since the start of the ‘circuit breaker’ in Singapore and have lots more free time during the weekends since no more meet ups outside! The drama front has been kinda meh for me, I ended up re-reading an old copy of ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ I found at home last weekend, and this week I’ve started on the Chinese web novel ‘Chenghua Fourteen Years’ (成化十四年). It’s a detective novel set in the Ming dynasty and while it’s technically a ‘BL (boys love)’ novel, the love line between the OTP is pretty subtle and focus is still on the cases and sleuthing skills of the main character. The current airing Cdrama ‘The Sleuth of Ming Dynasty’ is based on this novel (which was how I found out about it) but reviews of the drama thus far have criticized the scriptwriting so I’ll leave it for now unless the tide turns for it like how it went for ‘The Untamed’.

In other news, Thai dramas are finally on Singapore’s free to air TV channels! It’s been what, 10 years since I started watching lakorns but it’s remain a pretty niche drama choice in Singapore, I don’t even know anyone personally in real life that watches it! Please do leave a comment below if you are a fellow Singaporean who enjoys watching lakorns!

I saw an ad for ‘Buppae Saniwaat (Love Destiny)’ airing on Channel U, I think it’s the weekday 9pm slot? Hopefully this means more lakorns to come on prime time slots. Mediacorp (SG’s official broadcaster) has some tie up with another entertainment company and now has a few lakorns on their free streaming site. The choices don’t look super updated? But guess we gotta start somewhere.

mwl

Maybe it’s time to start poking around for new dramas to watch and get this blog active again! Please send your recommendations my way!

The Eternal Love 双世宠妃

19 Sep

So I ended up dropping Cheewit Puer Kah Huajai Puer Tur after ep8 cos as delicious as Jespipat was as Wayu, I found it hard to believe that Rin could fall in love with him so easily when she barely knew the guy. I re-watched a few old lakorns instead and wonder if it’s a sign that I’ve been watching lakorns for too long when I think they don’t make lakorns like they used to. lol

the-eternal-love

After starting and stopping on a few new dramas, I finally found one which I couldn’t stop watching. The Eternal Love 双世宠妃 – not to be confused with Eternal Love aka Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花, gawd cdramas need less repetitive English titles – is a low budget web drama with a very Mary Sue-ish plot and starring new faces. Doesn’t sound like much but it all came together to form a very addicting show … kinda like opening a giant bag of potato chips, once you start you can’t stop. If you’ve watched Go, Princess Go! 太子妃升职记, The Eternal Love is pretty much in the same vein. While both are about time travel, they each have their own unique spin on it. GPG had a guy who ended up in the body of a crown prince’s consort after travelling through time, while in TEL, a modern lady travels back in time and wakes up as Qu Tan Er in ancient China but the original consciousness of the body she now inhibits is still present, so we have 2 souls sharing the same body! This set up is not spelt out upfront and since I didn’t read the synopsis before starting the drama, I got a bit confused initially but it was easy enough to pick up after one ep. Zhang Tian Ai wowed me at first sight in GPG (she was so perfect as Zhang Peng Peng I feel her performance alone warrants watching GPG) but I was mildly irritated by Liang Jie in the first few episodes especially when she’s playing Xiao Tan who’s from the modern era. It’s surely not easy playing 2 different characters in the same drama and maybe that’s why she plays up the differences by making Xiao Tan very brash but it feels a bit forced? That said, I got used to how the characters were presented after a while and thanks to the love story developing at lightning speed, I was soon swooning over the oh-so-sweet main couple and was ready to ignore everything else. There were so many real kisses omg! and save for a short misunderstanding, the OTP’s love was unwavering. After the head banging experience watching Yu Wen Yue and Chu Qiao in Princess Agents ALMOST GETTING THERE BUT NEVERRRR FOR 58 EPISODES, this was such a joy to watch. TEL’s male lead Mo Lian Cheng is played by Xing Zhao Lin who also acted as Yue Qi in PA and it was hilarious reading the many comments asking ‘Yue Qi’  to go teach his master Yu Wen Yue some moves on how to get the girl.   Continue reading

A love to die for

23 Aug

I struggled through a couple more episodes of Fun Rak Fun Salai but with the various relationships making less and less sense, I finally decided to throw in the towel for this one. It’s a shame really, FRFS had potential but it sputtered out after a promising start. Anyhow, I have plenty of lakorns to catch up on since I was pretty out of touch for the last couple of years so I’ve now started on Cheewit Puer Kah Huajai Puer Tur.

c31

Jespipat plays Wayu, a reticent hitman with a bartending day(night) job who feeds pigeons in his spare time when he’s not out there shooting people for cash. As of ep3 we are not privy to Wayu’s past and what led him to this lifestyle but money is clearly not the motivator as he only takes enough for his living expenses and has his boss save the rest of his cut. Contract killing appears to be the only life he knows, and it’s a reclusive if occasionally violent one he leads.

c11

On one of his regular pigeon-feeding trips at the park, Wayu meets Rin, a girl whose sketching session of the pigeons was disturbed by him throwing bird feed in their midst. Rin, a cheerful and sociable girl strikes up conversation with Wayu and as they meet again in the following days, she is like a warm breeze that has unknowingly started to blow into his cold heart. Unbeknownst to Wayu, Rin is actually the daughter of Thanatat (Willy), a drug lord and a regular patron of his services and only finds out when he sees her at the scene of his next hit. I don’t have time to delve into all the plotty bits (need to catch up on more ep!) but as of ep3 Wayu and Rin haven’t gone Romeo and Juliet yet since they are technically on the same side (for now) … only slight problem being Rin has no idea of either Wayu or her father’s actual ‘occupation’.  Continue reading

Fun Rak Fun Salai 7 – 18

9 Aug

After Pakorn brings Meili home, we get to see them interact as individuals instead of police vs illegal immigrant.  Meili slowly realises that Pakorn sincerely intends to help her achieve her goal of going to America while Pakorn starts to see her as Meili the person with her hopes and dreams instead of another illegal immigrant to send home. And of course I have to thank ep8 for this scene.

Does it add anything significant to the progress of their relationship except to dazzle Meili with his pecs? hmm, not really? And Meili doesn’t even notice Pakorn’s bod unlike me lol but it was a nice moment.

Worried that habouring an illegal immigrant will destroy her son’s career, Pakorn’s mom sent Meili packing while he was away at work and she wanders the streets lost and afraid, calling the only other person in this world she could depend on, my dear sweet Chang. I liked how the shots framed Meili against the towering sky scrapers behind her, surrounded by prosperity in this city yet here she was alone with only the clothes on her back and a bit of cash in hand with no where to go nor return to.

That said, by now I could not help feeling sad for Chang cos Meili barely thought of him while she was safe at Pakorn’s house. Yea, the very first night she thought of using Pakorn’s phone to contact Chang but she didn’t exactly try very hard and she didn’t attempt to do so again until she got kicked out. Meili is definitely very grateful towards Chang but it’s clear one means more to the other, no prizes for guessing who.

I really enjoyed FRFS up till ep8 and thought the plot/character setting was a refreshingly different one but unfortunately it gets progressively shaky from there. It’s not bad bad but there’s not enough development in the characters or their relationships for the next 10 episodes to get me behind them. I wasn’t expecting Meili’s time with Pakorn to be so short. Meili probably stayed for a week at most? Then she goes back to Chang and we start all over again. Then after Captain Wu catches up with Chang and shoots him, she goes back to Pakorn’s house and he’s swearing eternal love? Granted he witnessed her breaking down and attempting to kill herself after hearing news of her family’s death and I’m sure that ellicited an outpouring of sympathy but immediately after that we got the love declaration and a willing? And the next morning Pakorn decides to marry Meili!

From how the story played out, I’m not convinced of deeper feelings between them beyond sympathy from Pakorn and gratefulness from Meili. I actually feel more for Chang’s wholehearted devotion to protecting and caring for Meili despite having so little himself, it’s more believable if they ended up together. It was a pity so much screen time was wasted on Om being a stalker and Captain Wu chasing Chang and Meili around instead of giving Pakorn/Meili the necessary development in their relationship.

Speaking of Om, she’s the no.1 nonsensical character here. She goes from wanting to quit because boohoo Captain Pakorn wasn’t nice to me to suddenly, SUDDENLY crushing so hard on him that she secretly follows him (multiple times!!) to see who he is with and her only purpose from then on seems to be to get Pakorn. I don’t have a problem with her liking Pakorn (I like Gade, Parkorn’s neighbour who’s also crushing on him) but it came out of the left field with no apparent reason and the way she went about it was so annoying and disturbing. Oh, the other villain Captain Wu from Meili’s hometown was unexpectedly killed by Pakorn. I never did figure out what why/how he was able to terrorize the town like he did and why he was so intent on catching Chang & co.

Pakorn’s mom didn’t exactly jump for joy at his decision to marry Meili so they moved to an apartment while sorting out Meili’s documents (I think) … and voila, she gets a perm job overnight when she supposedly does not leave the apartment at all to avoid getting caught.

I’m not sure how many more ep FRFS has to go and I’ll probably see it to the end considering I’ve made it this far but by now I’m not holding my breath.

SCREENCAPS: Behind the Scene of Praew Shoot (Ken Ann) —

30 Jul

Wow! It’s been forever since these two did a cover for Praew and I’m definitely shocked to see Ken and Ann shooting a mag together. Didn’t think they’ll ever going to cooperate together again, but I’m glad they did. I can’t wait for this issue to go on sale! I’m definitely getting a copy! Now […]

via SCREENCAPS: Behind the Scene of Praew Shoot (Ken Ann) —

Fun Rak Fun Salai ep 4 – 6

22 Jul

Finally caught their character names: Navin = Pakorn and Bua = On.

frfs10

Maybe cos lakorn villains tend to be OTT and not very clever, I generally don’t take them seriously and find them more of a mild inconvenience to the main characters. I mean, in Talay Fai the bad guys tried to kill the pra’nang in almost every single episode and manages to fail every time! So it’s been a while since I was this anxious for the well being of a lakorn character.  While I know Meili is obviously not going to die or be repatriated at this point in the lakorn, she feels trapped at every turn and I keep wondering if the triad or the police will catch up with her first and neither option is appealing. Meili was caught by Pakorn at the end of ep3 but managed to escape with the help of Chang.

They get an extremely brief respite and Chang gets a job for Meili at the restaurant he works at. They are so precious together I wish the world could leave them be, just quietly working hard and living their simple life.

But things go south very soon when Pakorn coincidentally spots Meili, and Jiang also finds out where Meili was staying from Chang’s friend so the world ends up back at her heels again. This time Chang wasn’t around to save her and backed up on the roof top with Pakorn blocking the only exit, Meili threatens to kill herself if Pakorn insists on arresting her. Pakorn tries to convince Meili that sending her home is the best option since she will be forced into prostitution or killed if the triad catches her again but Meili tells him that if she had food and a good life back home, why would she waste her life coming here in the first place? To Meili, dying was a better option than being sent home. Moved by Meili, Pakorn hides her and lies to his disbelieving colleagues that she escaped (from the roof top!) and brought her home instead to his bewildered mom.   Continue reading

Fun Rak Fun Salai ep 1 – 3

19 Jul

FRFS2

From the light hearted Nang Rai Summer I moved on to Fun Rak Fun Salai which is very much sombre in tone. P’Fia’s post piqued my interest in this lakorn but after poking around it appears there’s no interest in this by any subbing groups out there so I went ahead and watched it raw, wondering if the Thai I picked up from all these years of lakorn-watching will be sufficient to see me through. So far (3 ep in) I could catch the gist of the dialogue so if even if your Thai is lakorn-level, you can still consider giving this a shot.

FRFS deals with a subject very different from what I’ve come to expect of lakorns. Charebelle our n’ek plays Meili, a young lady facing abject poverty in her hometown. I’m not sure if Meili’s hometown is in a fictional or real country bordering Thailand, but it appears to be under some kind of military control? After seeing pictures sent home by her neighbour’s daughter of cozy life in America with food aplenty, Meili decides to risk following human trafficker Jiang into Thailand and onward to the promise land of America. After an almost deadly trek across the border, Meili reaches Thailand only to find out that she has been sold into prostitution by Jiang. Meili manages to escape and is subsequently picked up by fellow illegal immigrant Chang (First) when he finds her eating leftovers from the rubbish bin outside the restaurant he works at. Though she now has an ally,  things are not all that much better for Meili because she has to escape both the triad who wants to catch her back and also the police who will deport her.  Continue reading