I’m at the midpoint, ep20 of this 2005 C wuxia. I think I MAY hang on till the end (shocking for me)…or drop it. Dropping it because I’ve been ff-ing constantly except for 2 or 3 characters. The rest, I can poison them all myself with soapsuds and they r collectively dumb enough to drink a gallon of it unknowingly, repeatedly.
I’m watching NiShuiHan because I have a killer itch to scratch… finding out what’s the big deal with Wallace Chung. I knew of him as a young bit role TVB actor back in the early 90s, nowadays he’s here and there more frequently in Cdramas I’ve checked out, many dropped. He’s decent but nothing memorable (to me anyway). I’m very neutral towards his looks and talents. In NSH, he is the antagonist Gu XiZhou, whom we know we should sympathize and is touted as having a 100% fangirl-flailing rate.
I don’t get it, someone please kindly explain to me. While I’m impressed with him able to carry the flowy big curls a la JoeCheng in The Rose, I doubt every fangirl is his captive because of hair envy. This is a guy with enough knack in wuxia, did not achieve his desired hero-dom and thus is craving power in Court, with his Dad-in-law as the evil minister; a ‘hopeless romantic’, in the name of loving his wife, slaughters innocent valleys of people whenever he is snagged at snuffing out Hero-in-hiding+Precious Sword per Dad-in-laws’ orders. Hero is literally a piece of silken tofu, so prone to injuries damsel, in constant need of rescuing fr every character, and for our baddie to fail time after time in this scummy quest after extensive plotting, I conclude he’s not all that either. I dunno, the sad childhood (come on, there is NO wuxia character without that token woe), the hunger for power, for recognition, for making himself worthy for his beauty or even the angst of me a sad substitute for Wifey’s Love of Her Life, do not make mass murdering pallatable. I’m a bit impressed with his acting, just not enough to turn me a fangirl, especially if this is his shot to cult fangirldom role, I’m underwhelmed.
The Hero is played by Julian Cheung, very pretty eyes, and a face that should be on every anti-aging ad campaign. I’m already looking older than him, too bad he’s been acting as his sweet (boring) self in everything. His Qi ShaoShang is as uninteresting as tepid tap water. He resembles an angelic cherub overcompensating with fierce fur trying to sell it he’s the #1 wuxia hero of his woods. All I get is: ignorant, naive, dumb, clueless, slow, gullible…. His OTP, the greatest beauty on earth he’s willing to give up everything for is a big let down. I suspect the character should be FIERCE and fiesty, actress Li Xiao Ran gives me an annoying diva: insufferable, petty and temperamental. The time apart is fine for the initial misunderstanding btn the pair, but when it goes on in circles for episodes and she’s not getting down fr her high horse, she doesn’t deserve any of it, or maybe they really deserves each other. Either way, I can care less.
There are a number of things hooking me:
The music is FINALLY thematically, tonally befitting a wuxia. I LOVE all the chinese instrument pieces/sizhu (instruments made of silk and bamboo, their timbre yin and yang, delicate nuances fr the natural properties of material it’s born fr.) ErHu, PiPa and Guzhang are absolutely necessities in wuxia many times woven into crucial themes in the writing (eg LoCH and Proud Smiling Wanderer) the instrument itself embodies an intrinsic mood, enhancing the plaintive internal struggles of the characters in the dire, urgent, physical fights. I missed most dearly the apt, deft use of score and theme songs in 80s wuxias. NSH’s titles songs r not nearly as terrific, but the instrumentals r mood enhancing. The touches of beloved PD behind my forever LC classic adaptations in the 80s.
The art direction is absolute my thing. FURRRRSSSS!!, the costumes and makeup, the bare, crude grittiness of the set with its sand and gusts, all breathtaking to me. I love how the sum of it all creates the semblance of the exact world somewhere in the past I can visualize when reading a wuxia novel, giving the inhabitants a realness within the confines. I haven’t spot any headdesky line that I can’t picture someone fr Song dynasty would utter. I bet I wont be able to appreciate this as much in 2005, but how a couple yrs of intoxication by the current wave of horrors in C pseudohistoricals have done to the sad genre of wuxia! I read a critique of the new movie Lady Generals of the Yang Family, the writer pointedly said, ‘for a country with 5000 years of history distilled, our movies are stymied in showing off hollow action sequences with no cultural substance or historical significance. Ordinary citizens in the past can not be as dumb as the lines these characters are forcefed, which make them certifiable retards in our times, let alone legendary heroes.’
Song Jia. I like this actress very much, she is a league above the rest, and never disappoints (me). I don’t think she’s breathtakingly beautiful, but in everything I’ve seen her in, she manages to grab my attention (even in Tian Di Min Xin with Loverboy, she’s lovely and I’m emotionally attuned with her character every bump of the way ). In NSH, it helps a lot that her character is someone I don’t think is dumb, I understand where she’s coming fr, I’m sympathetic with her and the way she acts let me get into her mind with all the struggles she’s going throughBonus, her story is up to neck in angsty romance every turn of the way it’ll only happen in the wuxia world. She and Gu loves each other very much, maybe too much and we can smell the doom all along. Without her, Wallace’s Gu XZ is absolutely unredeemable, she brings out the human in him…and a bit of pity (but yeah, not enough for flailing over a self-servicing mass murderer)
When we met her she’s already Mrs. Gu. They haven’t consummated their marriage yet, Mr Gu was sent off for an urgent secret mission (to kill ‘traiter’ Hero and get back Sword with a lot of Secrets) their wedding night. Mrs. Gu went on her little trip to join her Hubs unannounced. She then meets many fans of Hero and is told of many bloody deeds commited by her Hubs, she’s genuinely in love with Gu, but she is having moral struggles. All she can do along the way catching up with him undo his evil any way she can. Wash, rinse, repeat.
But then we learn more about her past. Although of a very noble birth, she has a fasination with real wuxia heros. She fell in love with one of the Big Four Constables IronFist, he loves her but refuses to ask for her hand. Her Daddy and his Sifu are enemies in the court. Heartbroken, she wanders the streets and bumps into Gu, scraping by doing street acts throwing swords at ‘volunteers’. She volunteers, hoping to be killed, instead, Gu falls in love with her instantly and after he climbs up the ladder as one of her Dad’s minions, he askes for her hand to marry him. Gu finds out and eavedrops pieces of her love history here and there, like daggars to his heart. She genuinely loves her husband now, but it’s getting harder when she learns of his deeds, AND he does it to earn her Dad’s trust and goodwill in the hope to make himself truly worthy for her. Things get more messy with Iron Fist in the picture again, ordered to capture Hero, but after investigation is after Gu as well. We see her constantly in a heartbreaking balancing act btn the 3 guys and most of the times she’s the one most sensible and constructive.
A slightly spoilerish MV of the Gu CP: