Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lan Ling Wang/ 蘭陵王 (2013)

Lan Ling Wang (2013)

Well, I'm rather surprised I wrote this post so quickly and so soon.  The series just finished.  *sigh*

What part of extreme disappointment do I begin at? Cuz this series started out extremely good.  Really, really good.
It was so good, then around 20th episode, it took an extremely unnecessarily crazy nose dive off the writing cliff. It got so annoyingly predictable and painful to watch I wanted to cough up blood from the internal injuries and sufferings of having to watch.

And the ending, oh gosh the ending...thank goodness the great actors and actresses still made it somewhat watchable.  It was overall so overwrought it became boring, right before they stabbed you one more time and twisted that knife a few times scraping bone.  I, personally, do not like it when people try to force emotions onto others and the ending was like one big pity-fest for everyone. 
Seriously though, what is it with these bittersweet endings in Chinese stories? I am sick of it!
 


First the good.

The acting was superb through and through.  Absolutely wonderful to watch where blinking was painful because something would be easily missed in the character's expression.  Each actor and actress was so realistic and invested.  I know a lot of people were saying that Feng Shao Feng was not exactly one of the prettiest look male actors for the role, but I have got to say...I have never seen such great acting.  His every movement and facial expression was something incredible to watch.  Simplest example, the few episodes when Lan Ling Wang was hiding his identity and only his eyes and sometimes his mouth was showing...the actor fully revealed every thought and emotion to us the viewers.  Not many people can do that. 

The other male lead, Yuwen Yong was great.  His progression as a character was almost the most consistent and much of it had to do with the actor.  He was great...they all were.

Our few antagonists, like Gao Wei and Zheng Er - their acting was equally heartbreaking and crazy where I felt equally love and hate for them because of the acting.  The characters themselves, not so much because in the end, they caused their own sadness with their personal jealousies and pettiness.  The acting was awesome though. 

Even the secondary characters, Chen Xiao Dong, An De Wang, Xiao Cui, General Hulu...the list goes on and on.  Everyone was great... The writings, stories, and visuals were nice, but nothing beat this cast.  It was incredible to watch.

Although I must painfully point out one sad thing, my favorite actress...she definitely needed to work on that pregnancy/childbirth bit. I did not come close to believe she was in labor. Otherwise, she was awesome in every other aspect.  Especially the part when she took poison...I mean, omg, she really looked like she was suffering from a seizure reaction or something...awesome.

Then...
I was beyond disappointed as the story came to a close.  This series...the story really could have been something incredible, but they chose the most cliche (and easier) path. Sad.  Let me just say: Just because all your friends are doing it, that just because it was how it was always done, doesn't mean you should do it! I found it to be full of missed opportunities.  The moment they veered off course into the unexplored woods of unique stories, something pulled them right back into the status quo.  Ok, I'm exaggerating, but you get the point.   

For me, although many of the plots and characters were nothing new in the world of fiction, everything had blended very well together.  Each character and the story they were telling were very unique and special.  It was refreshing in it's own way and was extremely addictive fun to watch.  I really really enjoyed every moment.  It was exciting and willing to make things complicated.  People had their own reasons for making the decision they made and it brought a refreshing view to some old subjects about people, fate, and choices.  Then, it got to the halfway mark.

After around episode 20, the almost ALL the characters were acting really out of character.  Their personal growth took a leave of absence.  Everything started to become cliche and really really prolonged sense of dragging everything out.  Then I found out it was supposed to be 35 episodes, but they ended up with 46 to make more money...*sigh*
It didn't help that the story was doing more "telling" than "showing".  Before, the flashbacks were good since it allowed me to invest more into the story.  Later, it's just a lot of repetitive "talk" and got me really bored/annoyed.

When a story forces the characters to act so out of character in order to move the story forward...well, you know you're in trouble.  That's exactly what they ended up doing here and that was the biggest let-down.   While this series started off with a soul-sucking addictiveness, it dragged on into a typical storyline...which just meant it became another typical show.  It was no longer as different and unique as it started out to be. 

They stayed pretty historically accurate, which was extremely surprising for me.  That's both good and bad.  Good because when I watch things, I want the writers and storytellers to be as accurate as possible, or at least attempted to do the research.  Nothing annoys me more than those wallpaper worlds where everything can be manipulated to fit into the plain flat background to showcase something or another.

Certain historical aspects were changed, sometimes timing, while other subjects and themes where integrated.   They did make some changes, like merge Lan Ling Wang, Gao Changgong (高长恭) with Hulü Guang (斛律光) in terms of importance with the upcoming battles since Emperor of Zhou mentioned of Hulü, "If he were still alive, how can I get here?"(此人若在,朕豈能至鄴!) (source).  Even though I was rather excited to see him make an appearance.  So cool.  They even killed him in the same manner, although for different reasons.  So they get major points for all the history.  I was seriously surprised by it.

They did bring up an interesting question of destiny/fate vs. free will, is it possible to change your destiny?  It's not a new question, but they did put forth several different ideas. 

It's impossible: Grandma trying to change Xue Wu's fate to not be involved in the outside world and be an average normal girl, yet cannot change the fact her role as Heaven Maiden.
It still thundered, and a chicken easily led Xue Wu out to meet Lan Ling Wang.

It's possible: Xue Wu and Lan Ling Wang was not fated to be together, but they ended up together because fate changed to ensure that things still sort of qualified into fate.  Same with Lan Ling Wang as he was fated to die. 

Changing fate has consequences:  The woman that's supposed to be Lan Ling Wang's wife...well, she turned cruel and evil instead of the devoted wife, but it stayed within character (sort of).  It could just be the actress was really good. Lol.
Another consequence, Xue Wu died in place of Lan Ling Wang. 

I know the male leads have, what's the word? shippers? I don't know.  Anyways, aside from whom is better for our Tien Nu, Heaven Maiden, I rather liked the focus on the characters.  What I felt they did was a very interesting portrayal of what it took to be a true leader.

A good person does not make a good leader.  A good leader does not mean a compassionate person.  People that have similar life experiences does not turn out the same.  Just because they were good materials does not mean they can fit the roles.

Gao Wei was portrayed as somewhat the worst because even though has the capability to navigate politics, he falls easily to jealousy and doubt, thus easily swayed by those around him.

Lan Ling Wang seems the best, but even as he was admired and great skills on the battle field, he lacks the manipulative and sneaky nature needed to navigate politics and easily falls for traps.
He willingly risked his life (as a Prince) to save his brother in arms.

Emperor of Zhou, Yuwen Yong, ends up being the most suitable.  Even though he has his compassionate side for those he cares for and he's fighting for the same reason an Lan Ling Wang - for a peaceful world, but is much smarter, manipulative and equally cruel.  Whereas Lan Ling Wang willing risks his life for one person, Yuwen Yong was willing to kill his loyal friend in order to clean out all the villains in his mists...

All three "leaders" really had the exact same goals.  They wanted to be able to bring peace and happiness to their people, to be good leaders and lead their country, yet they all went about it in different ways.  Even as all three had to go through personal losses and problems, the way each individual dealt with the problems showcased their leadership abilities and we all know who the winner will be.

Mainly, Lan Lin Wang and Yuwen Yong are like mirrors of each other.  If not for being from different nations, they would probably be very good friends.  If they were in the same country, they'd probably easily until the entire place.  They're very similar, with a very obvious sector of love for Xue Wu.  Oh well, fate works in it's own ways...


The overall story archs were very tight and that was a great boon for this series. A few things that annoyed me:
Xue Wu lost some of the characteristics I adored, her fearlessness got replaced by an almost tstl moments that really annoyed me. It made her much weaker as a character and felt more like the writers changed her personality to fit the storyline.

Same with  Lan Ling Wang.  I would say his character from 1-20, 25-30, 31-40, and then 41-16 were completely different. He went through change after change after change in character and actions that did not complement each other.  It was too forced and even though the actor was great at each role, it made the character Lan Ling Wang too inconsistent. 

Favorite characters: All the grandmothers.  Omg, do I love them.  It's so tragic, but I loved all three.

A side note: Grandmas.  There were so many grandmothers in this series, it was so wonderful.  I love grandmothers in stories.  It made me miss my  Granny a lot. 

So, I most definitely recommend this series.  I personally enjoyed the costumes and actions.  The storyline was great up to a point, so I will basically skip all the parts I don't like just to rewatch. Lol.  I can't stay away even if I wanted to, but to save myself some grief and sanity, I'm going to avoid certain parts and episodes then make it a happy ending in my head. *sigh* 

No rating, but glad I watched it.  More thoughts in my head, but I'm going to go distract myself. Excuse me while I go distract myself with something happier. 

P.S. Picture sources are from www.spcnet.tv/forums and asianfanatics.net

P.P.S. I still love the music.

 

18 comments:

  1. Well good acting and half a good series is better than a lot of other drama out there! :) It's incredible how FSF became a good actor so fast. I remember his almost debut role and even then, he showed great potential... but of late, it seems he has become even more masculine and charismatic.

    by the way, isn't this drama based on a book or something?

    I think I'm going to wait for subs and see if I want to embark myself into it. Guess I haven't really been in the mood for dramas lately :P

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    1. Honestly, if it wasn't for the great acting, I would've stopped around ep 20 and called it a day. The second half of the storyline was just too absurd, messing and counter to the previously established storyline. Ex would be the antagonists. As characters, they were completely lame and unrealistic, but the actor and actress were sooooooooooo good you just can't look away. Lol.

      Sadly, no, it's not based on a book, but it did spawn a book. Lol.

      Oh noes, no dramas for you lately? How about some books? :D Honestly, not many good ones out lately. I think subs are in works, but not out yet.

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  2. Hey Little Alys thanks for sharing your comments. I came across this TV serial while randomly flicking through the TV channel in Beijing and instantly fell in love with it. In fact I am now re-watching my favorite bits…Have also downloaded the 2 main songs on i tune. Are there any similar TV serials that you would recommend?

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    1. Hi - Thank you for commenting and I am so sorry for the late reply! It's been so busy lately, but that's no excuse. First off, what kind of series do you watch? Chinese, Japanese, Korean? Do you like more comedy or drama?

      If you haven't already, definitely watch The Legend of Zhen Huan (Hou Gong Zhen Huan Zhuan, 后宫甄嬛传, 後宮甄嬛傳). This series is a lot more serious, but it is definitely a favorite.

      I would need to think some more about recommendations. I've been behind on a lot of shows, sadly.

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  3. Awww thank you so much for the review. I found out this series as a friend of mine quoted the cute conversation between LLW and XW when they first met. I rarely (or never i guess :p) watch historical dramas but this one is so cute (at first?:(( ) I've finished the first 20 eps now and so debating on whether to watch the rest or not. I accidentally found out the ending and it became a huge shock to me T__T

    Btw, can you recommend me any good historical drama?:) thank yoou and merry xmas :X

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    1. Hahaha, LLW was very cute and yes, I totally recommend to stop watching. For the next few episodes after 20, LLW become really stupid and XW not that much better. On top of that, the ending was sad.

      Hmmm, there are not too many funny and comedic historical dramas. There is a serious drama I love, The Legend of Zhen Huan (後宮甄嬛傳), but it's very serious and intense. An old show is 李卫当官 (Li Wei). 美人心計 (Schemes of a Beauty) is pretty good too, but not the funny. Hmmm, I'd have to think some more. I don't watch Historical Dramas that much either. Lol.

      For comedy, some modern stories, Fated to Love You and It Started With A Kiss. Both are romantic and cute. :D

      Happy Holidays to you too! And have a happy new year! :)

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  4. Honestly, I want YXW to end up with YWY. his love for XW is too selfless. he is willing to throw away his throne in order to be with XW. It's true that LLW loves XW. but XW always come after his political things.see the difference? LLW's love made XW suffer through pain by pain of losing him. While YWY chose XW over his throne. I think he deserved XW more than LLW :( too bad they both die in the end.

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    1. Honestly, I just end up blaming the writers and directors. Seriously, they wrote all of them so weird. XW never matured or grew up until the very very end, and then they killed her. LLW went through like 5 different character changes. The actor was awesome at all of them, but it's not even like a single character. YWY was the one that grew the most, but even so, his ending was also a complete cop-out. I mean, seriously, he grew so much throughout the series and then he ended up just blah. Freaking writers don't know what they want to do. I love all three actors/actress though. Especially the two guys.

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  5. i totally love this series.i think he's freaking hot.sigh so much to say about him in this series.anyway i have a question did xue wu have a kid with Yuwen Yong because i saw a scene where she's with him and the little girl around 7-9 years old watching firecrackers.did xue wu felt in love with Yuwen Yong because like i said before there some scenes they're together.

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    1. Yes, they are all wonderful to look at. Lol. That was half the fun. :D
      Oh, the little girl was actually Yuwen Yong's niece. She was his older brother's daughter and Yuwen Yong promised to take care of her. Xue Wu was the little girl's tutor/doctor.

      Xue Wu only loved Lan Ling Wang, not Yuwen Yong. Later on, because Lan Ling Wang was to be executed, he asked Yuwen Yong to protect Xue Wu, so that's why the two were together.

      Hope this helps!

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  6. Yea this drama was really good and addicting but after ep 20 everything was really annoying and gets me so angry. I didn't like any eps of zheng er's evil plan to get LLW and desperate moment for him:( but after ep 34 the drama hook back in. This was my first time watching a Chinese historical drama and gotta it's pretty awesome. FSF was just so charming and good that I couldn't take my eyes off him :D overall love every moment with the two main leads.

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  7. I literally started to break down when she died. And I'm still crying. You know what, happy ending in my head. OMG. THINK HAPPY THOUGHTZ.

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  8. From: Mei-Ling Delilah Tong


    Feng Shao Feng is quite handsome, is not so beautiful that he has to wear a mask to battle, that is too conceited and not in a cute way either. Although William Feng is a good actor in Lan Ling Wang, William is not so great at acting such that you have never (no) seem such great acting in this drama. Chinese male actors that I like are more handsome than Feng Shao Feng.

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  9. Other Chinese dramas that I like are consistently really good from the beginning to end of the drama. Meanwhile, Ariel Lin is a pretty Chinese actress. In episode 12 or 13 and/or14, the screenwriters are so inconsistent and incorrect to have the fat and ugly "old old grandma" wrongfully and intensively insult Ariel Lin who got bullied by the intruder. Other younger grandmas are nicer and are not mean like this “old old grandma” who was not related by blood and was cleaning and making up Ariel’s bedroom and house. Since Ariel Lin is a lovely Chinese actress in Lan Ling Wang, and obviously is not ugly, that is totally unreasonable for these screenwriters. Those screenwriters make no sense at all to write than this ugly and old grandma with the fat white wig incorrectly and offensively say that Ariel Lin (no) does not look good and looks bad but she looks great . Yang Xue Wu has lovely black hair which is the most beautiful.

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  10. I was watching Prince of Lan Ling Wang and then I stopped viewing Lan Ling after episode 14 or 15 for the previous 17 months so far, because in episode 12 (or 13 or 14) the screenwriters used the “fat and old grandma” in such a horrible and disgusting way to incorrectly and negatively insult the lovely Ariel Lin, the leading Chinese actress Then during either the same episode or another episode (before chapter 17) unless Ariel Lin cheats on Feng Shao Feng and tries to beat him up or something worse, that is wrong of Lan Ling Prince to compare Ariel Lin (his girlfriend and future wife) unfavorably to Feng Zhao Lin (Mao Nikita Lin). Lan Ling Wang does not act like he loves only (not) Yang Xue Wu. Although Feng Zhao Lin (Mao Lin) looks lovelier than some of the other girls who were competing in the contest to become Lan Ling’s wife, Mao Lin is NOT more beautiful in the horrible way that Feng Shao Feng said it, comparing and favoring Mao Lin’s appearance over Ariel Lin.

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  11. As a Chinese Asian girl, I have a much more beautiful figure and lovelier face than Feng Xiao Lian (Mao Lin’s role) The directors dressed up Feng Xiao Lian who was wearing beautiful Chinese clothing but more expensive clothing in a conceited way (not a nice way) to get a highly unfair edge over Yang Xue Wu wo wears cheaper but nice clothing in that episode. Other Asian Chinese male actors in dramas that I like can act much better than Feng Shao Feng although Feng is a good actor. The supervisors and directors in Lan Ling Wang should have NOT done that to the leading female actress and should have chosen an actress who is not pretty or somebody else who looks ugly to get insulted so much by Shao Feng. Lan Ling’s (Feng Shao Feng) was acting conceited (not in a nice or cute way) and Lan Ling’s love was NOT too selfless at all even though I have watched up to episode 17 and there are 29 many more episodes to watch until number 46. To: Anonymous December 31 2013. Yang Xue Wu (Ariel Lin’s role) practically worshipped the ground he walked on and was willing to be incorrectly insulted by Lan Ling when he was choosing a wife in episode 12 or 13 or 14 or 15. Being a prince (or princess) does not necessarily mean somebody is handsome (or not lovely if a female), and those are two different things. Other princes may look okay, some may look handsome or decent while other princes may look ugly.

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  12. To: Amor fati of alys, re: Peaceful days/dreamy nights August 31, 2013 Lan Ling Wang 2013
    90% of Chinese guys who are dating and/or married to Asian Chinese girls (if they are smart and not stupid, should be complimenting their own Chinese Asian people they like in dramas. Asian Chinese people and Asian children should not be taught to become whitewashed and should NOT be making false compliments about the physical appearance of ugly western female actresses who may be rich and spoiled in a bad way. Also, those loud and annoying and bad western advertisements should be deleted if on some other websites and have nothing to do with these Asian websites.

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  13. To: Paying Yang

    Feng Shao Feng is quite handsome, is fairly handsome but William Shao Feng is not freaking hot like that. Feng Shao Feng is NOT so beautiful that he has to wear a mask to battle, that is too conceited (and not in a cute way either( in this Lan Ling Wang drama. Other Chinese Asian male actors that I like, those Chinese male actors are more handsome than Feng Shao Feng.

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