Chu Han Contention: A Few Words

Two episodes in, I’m disappointed.

Peter Ho can not reign his OTT in, his every expression, his eyes and flaring nostrils are constantly screeching on my screen, that’s why he’s fine as the dumb peacock of LuBu in 3K but here, so out of place as a wise conqueror to be, one truly with the credentials to be The Contender to rule the newly unified land 3rd century BC, in a proper period drama.  That is nothing new, no surprises there (but still I was hoping for some miracle).  However, there won’t be any character growth for XY then, he’s done nth to veil he is threateningly eye-catching screaming ‘here to AVENGE my Grandpa!’ to the entourage of Emperor Qin touring the empire.  My disappointment lies mainly in my ahjusshi crush Chen DaoMing.   He puts in the theatrics, too showy for his every worth in every twinkle of his eyes, too assured, too grand, too know-it-all, too kingly for a slimy ruffian nobody early LB. :/  It is like he’s already ascended to his throne 3 seconds after we’ve met him in his rags and all.  That is spoilsport.

Plus, the production does not look one bit the most expensive Cdrama production ever, granted there is no money scene of battle yet, but there are little touches of the extras, the soldiers that are very thrown together, nth of the meticulous of Three Kingdom.  *netizens have already caught GXX reusing entire army scenes fr 3K*. I welcome the familiar alumni of 3K everywhere here, but they are also harsh reminders on how shabby, or a half-assed photocopy this compare to the masterpiece.

Remember the Liu Bei in 3K, he’s here as Emperor Qin.  I did not feel his LB at all, and I really do not know what GXX sees in him to play the fearsome dictator.

Granted I’ve sniffed something smelly earlier on when CDM is all diva-like no show on any promotion, writers have jabbed GXX for robbing them of credits, as if he is the only mastermind of the production.  It doesn’t sit well with me when wind is out GXX is going to cut a 2 hour movie version of the 80 ep drama, it looks every bit a money making venture only at that point.    Most C netizens have been disappointed with CDM in the trailers, he’s the reputation of C acting god, however he’s like phoning in his numerous previous renditions of kings and princes when LB was so not.

I’m also underwhelmed by the themesongs, I love the music of 3K, it is perfect and necessary to set the tone, here it’s long-winded whiny gaudy operatic pageantry.

One is romance-focused:

The other is screaming GRANDEUR:

The there’s the Peter Ho pop song, which is fine on its own but just so odd for a C historical:

Here Peter is pervie over his first sight of the horse of his later consort Yu:

*I have to make peace I will never ever see his pretty with my Chinese aesthetics*

It’s still a better C period, but it’s GXX with a bloated bighead disease and it ends up a product not even too glitzy but quite annoyingly pretentious.

8 thoughts on “Chu Han Contention: A Few Words

  1. Hi Mookie, it’s been a while! 🙂

    Thanks for the review! I was gonna check this out when I first heard about it, but after your review I don’t think I’ll be watching this, for all the good reasons you’ve stated. Which is a shame, really, because I loved Three Kingdoms and had high hopes for this ChuHan epic *sigh*

    LOL I have a hard time picturing Liu Bei as Emperor Qin – such opposite roles they are…

    Three Kingdoms had awesome theme songs. I really loved the opening theme. It was so epic. Speaking of epic theme songs, All Men Are Brothers had AWESOME theme songs too, especially the 2 opening themes!

    1. Oh do not listen to me! I’m the most silly and finicky fangirl ever! It is just that my expectation was ridiculously high, as Three Kingdom gave me so much hope sth can be adapted by the classic with respect and be popular with the critics and the masses. imo GXX, CDM r suffering fr their namesake, they r in for getting the massive paycheck without a drive to better themselves. Check a bit out and see if I’m just being cranky and delusional. If you can read Chinese, this is sadly a review I’ve read every word and nodding my head off except its purpose is to dissect the lower than expected ratings as if it is any true litmus of quality at all ( it means nth to me esp for Cdramaland since the rating King is 美人无泪/In Love with Power and GAWD is that an offensive awful piece of pure braineatingvomit): http://yule.sohu.com/20130103/n362279029.shtml

      Ohh All Men Are Brothers is another of my favorite! It was my favorite of the 4 classics actually when I first read them. Yup, agree! That theme song is awesome, it is slightly less meticulous a production than 3 Kingdoms (some editing can be better, and there were to many crazily plastic questionable actresses) BUT it’s still awesomesauce.

      I never warmed up to the actor of Liu Bei in 3K till the end, but still he’s ok-ish and it could be an interpretation of the historical figure, given everything else, esp the writing is so good in 3K I can tolerate. Here he’s approaching Emperor Qin the same old as mousy LiuBei. Argh. I mean my dreamcast for XiangYu is ChenJianBing (CaoCao), and even though that falls through, he is one perfect Emperor Qin! This is like one big 3K alumni gettogether anyway!

      And most of all I do not understand the glorification of plasticity running amok in Cdramaland as with Consort Yu here, I have to live with it in say Kdramas because there is one scattered few pool of non-PS’d actresses there, but in Cdramaland?! I feel like I’m watching a horror show of claymation with stuck on moving alien matter so visible as if it’s forcefeeding me this is the new token of beauty, take it! And the biggest offense: they can not act, at all.

      1. OMG. It’s amazing every time I read your comments about dramas and actors because it’s like you put all my thoughts into eloquent words! Thanks for the review link! I try my best to read through it and worse case scenario I’ll try an internet translator or something (or ask my parents haha).

        My whole family watched Three Kingdoms together and we became huge fans of Cao Cao (and the BRILLIANT actor who plays him) overnight! Seriously, every conversation we had for months afterwards was how awesome he was and how he should get all of Liu Bei’s screen time because Liu Bei pissed us off so much. My written/reading Chinese is quite poor, so what I know of the Three Kingdoms novel comes from bedtime stories from my parents what other information I can find, but I always found Liu Bei’s character annoying (poor Kongming, putting up with him for all those years) and seeing him on the TV screen doesn’t help! Three Kingdoms was an AMAZING production: epic battle scenes, great cast (particularly Cao Cao who stole the whole show TBH), epic story. This may be personal preference, but I always found the history being Three Kingdoms much more interesting than that of ChuHan. The fact that ChuHan has been done so many times before doesn’t help matters any.

        All Men Are Brothers is one great epic story. I love how all 108 heroes had their own sad tales behind why they ended up on 梁山, and then banding together to fight against the corrupt officials of the (failing) Song dynasty. The drama was a very good adaptation IMHO, even though I felt sometimes the pace was a bit too slow and some scenes/chapters were kind of choppy… That said, the fight scenes were beautiful to watch, and there are so many character I love, like 花和尚, 浪子燕青, 柴大官人, 花榮, and 吳用. Not to mention 林沖 and 武松 kick so much ass that I can’t help but smile every time some bad guy decides to mess with them (bad guys never learn LOL). Oh and Yan Kuan was great as 燕青! 😀

        TBH I didn’t really pay much attention to the female characters of All Men Are Brothers because most of the women there (especially the wives) are portrayed as indecent, evil, etc. The only exceptions were the women who are part of 108 heroes and Li Shishi who helped the 梁山 bandits’ cause…

        And oh don’t even get me started on plastic surgery. I can’t for the life of me understand why actors and actresses spend so much money and endure so much pain to pump their bodies full of plastic parts that (usually about a decade down the track) totally destroys what natural beauty they already had. Whenever I see pictures of actors (Hollywood, Asian, etc.) ravaged by plastic surgery I feel horrified and sad at the same time. I mean, they may do a bit of nip tuck here and there when they were young, but then as they age and bits don’t age along with the rest of their natural face, or bits start to deform, they go and get more plastic surgery, which basically becomes one endless, vicious cycle.

        I’m not saying plastic surgery is evil or anything like that. On the contrary there is a real need for it, for unfortunate people who have birth defects or for victims of tragic accidents. But when I see people who are already blessed with natural beauty destroy their faces/bodies like that, it just makes me sad…

        IMHO, no amount of plastic surgery can replace acting skill. I will gladly watch actors who can act wonderfully and not have perfect bodies/faces than watch plastic Barbie/Ken dolls who are the epitome of what society deems beautiful, but are as dull as watching paint dry and can’t act even if their lives depended on it.

        1. Like minds! i’m nodding my head off at your comments as well. I think ChuHan will be a much more interesting character study though, on one end we have a slimy scumbag ascension to the throne and created one of the greatest dynasty ever in middle kingdom. WE ended being his offsprings and our ethnicity originated by his dynasty. OTOH we have a young warrior with all the proper bringing and potential, promises of greatness failing. I mean up till this day, South=barbaric, North=superior and I will say if the tables r turned and XY’s Chu empire won it all, the world will be upside down. It can’t match 3Kingdoms in epic battles and warring strategies, but the inner human battles and the thin line of what make or break a hero is still lots to tap into for an epic drama. But this is not GXX sets out to do, he’s just throwing in elements to make do.

          Yes, All Men Are Brothers is a great adaptation as well. I love almost all the 108 bandits and every one of their stories are interesting, with insights and food for thought. There are bits of draggy parts though, so I watched it on and off, it’s good and great entertainment but I didnt go rabid. IF I do not need sleep and sustenance , I could’ve watched 3K in one sitting, it was that tight and addictive for me.

          Are you familiar with JiangXin from 甄嬛传? I finally marathoned the baby with my parents, she is my new Cdrama ladybias. It saddens me the spazzing about her awesomeness and brimming of acting talent, netizens are always adding the adage she has a flawlessly pretty round face of our traditional aesthetics and screw those pointy chins,praying and frankly scared she would be pressured to do some tweaking. The problem I have with the C actresses’ PS are 99% of the time it’s HORRIFIC and gaudy, it does not beautify at all, instead they are always so much more naturally good looking prior. All it is doing is just screaming on my screen, ‘Look! I’ve done some PS and therefore I’m serious with the biz and PRETTY.’ Nope. It truly is not pretty, esp when they are emoting and the silicon and botox refuses to move along with the rest of the face. It is esp traumatizing in periods when the PS seriously gives me hives of adsurdity and disharmony from the whole milieu. Argh. I do not mind PS (I love Park Shi Yeon, fr Nice Guy and she is as obvious as visible PS as there is), I just mind that is the only thing I’m made to look at.

          1. Thank you for summarizing the story of ChuHan and the effect on our Chinese history in such straightforward words! When my parents told me the story about Xiang Yu, Liu Bang and the Han dynasty, it always amazed me that someone so unscrupulous and dishonorable like Liu Bang ended up founding one of the greatest Chinese dynasties in history, while someone who was honorable like Xiang Yu failed so tragically. Which is why this lukewarm adaptation of the Chu-Han story is disappointing – as you said, the focus of the story is different from 3K but there’s definitely lots of potential, and it could’ve been another masterpiece, if only they paid more attention to the script and story…

            My parents marathoned 3K till morning when they normally don’t do that for other dramas. That’s how great it was. I found some parts of All Men Are Brothers more interesting than others. It really depends on which characters they were showing at the time…

            I never heard of Jiang Xin before, but I googled her and wow, she’s pretty! I LOVE the fact she doesn’t have those pointy plastic chins! FINALLY! I hope I don’t sound too exasperated but I’m so sick of seeing pointy plastic faces! For goodness sakes, ANY face shape can look beautiful! Ruby Lin for example has a round face and round features, and she’s widely regarded as beautiful! For some reason, many Chinese people regard round or square faces as not beautiful, but I can think of some beautiful actresses like Angelina Jolie, Keira Knightley, Penelope Cruz, etc. who have square faces. I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I just can’t really understand why there is such pressure to plastic surgery everything and end up having everybody looking the same (high nose, small jaws, pointed chins, etc.)… *SIGH* I really hope she doesn’t bow down to the pressure. It’ll be a shame to see horrific plastic surgery ruin yet another naturally beautiful face….

            I’m cool with plastic surgery being used to fix actual problems, but for the full blown Barbie doll faces, I just can’t see the appeal…

            1. Oh JiangXin is a feisty lovely thing!! She is actually quite chubby and knows it. I will say she’s bigboned. She is quite tall (170cm+) and blessed with a disproportionally tiny head. haha she’s already said out loud no way is she going to do PS, she likes her flaws and all. I just love the fact instead of ‘shortcuts’ in the biz, she duly paid her effort in honing her craft and have been working in supporting roles diligently and improving steadily till she’s literally ready for her big break in Zhen Huan Legend.

      2. PS. Haha if I get around to it, I’ll check out ChuHan and see if it’s really as terrible as reviews say it is, but I don’t have much high hopes for it now TBH. I totally agree that with the fame and promise of $$$ behind GXX and CDM, it’s taken away some of the motivation that will push them to improve. Another reason could be because Three Kingdoms set the bar so high, it’s hard for something like ChuHan to top that…

        1. My alarm went off when GXX said he is going to cut a 2 hr movie out of the 80ep drama. 1) I do not feel any scene is filler nor an ep can be left on the editing room in 3K, WHAT is going on with the 78hours he’s cutting off?! Fishy.

          I really put CDM up the pedestal as comparable to Tony Leung, I’m wrong. Tony is still striving to challenge himself, not for the sake or fame or fortune no more, but simply he still has the passion in his craft. I do not see it in CDM. HE was soooooooo awesome in Chinese Style Divorce! Just to name one. T___T

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