Saturday, 24 September 2016

Xuan Zhang 2016

Xuan Zhang 2016 is not your usual “Journey to the West” movie. You won’t find flying monkeys there. Instead, you’ll find a realistic journey of an amazing Tang monk across the treacherous deserts, who spoke fluent Hindi when he was already in India and addressed the Indian monks/gurus as “Acharya” in such a respectful way. Copied from my other personal blog because it relates to Li Shimin (Tang Dynasty) and it gave me a thought about LOCH 2017.

I found Xuan Zhang when I was on board Singapore Airlines from Hong Kong to Singapore (part of my lag from Washington DC to Jakarta). The good thing about flying with SIA is that you’d be guaranteed to have a wide array of Asian movies to watch. This journey was not an exception. I was weighing between Xuan Zhang and another Asian movie, and in the end, boy I’m glad that I watched Xuan Zhang.

The Chinese-Indian movie was directed by Huo Jianqi, produced by Wong Kar-wai (that name I know!) and starring Huang Xiaoming as the titular character. Never seen HXM in action before, but I was very impressed with his performance as Xuan Zhang that he’s one of my favourite Mainland actors now. HXM made me thought that he was actually channelling Xuan Zhang in the movie; his serene face and wisdom were so palpable, I wondered if he actually set aside time to meditate every day before filming. Actually, I would be glad to just sit next to him, listening to him chanting the sutras...

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

"The Dragon Dancing under the Moonlight" - a CLH 1984 fanfiction

The wedding night between the Wanderer/King of Thieves and the Princess. Shyly emerges, triggered by the very few sensual scenes between Chor Lau Heung and Song Siu Ching in the New Adventures of Chor Lau Heung 1984 (TVB Hong Kong). Rated R.

Being the 80s production, one of the very few electrifying scenes in CLH 84 is this...


Ignoring his thumping heart, the Wanderer opened the door and entered the bedchamber. A silver strand of moonlight fell into the chamber floor from the lattice window as the amber light of some candles warmed up the rose-scented bedchamber. The object of his excitements and anticipation was sitting on the bed, decked to the nines in red, glowing in the candlelight. He couldn't see her face right now, but during the ceremony a few hours ago, he did steal a glance to see the beautiful face thinly covered by a red veil. She was beautiful, like a mysterious flower; a rose or chrysanthemum, shyly smiling at him. Now, he saw her, his Princess, his Bride, his wife, her hands fidgeting with a red silk handkerchief. He realised she was nervous. The trouble was that, unexpectedly, he was too.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Barbara Yung's letters part 1: Chor Lau Heung

Barbara and Michael during a CLH 1984 press conference

I've been wondering for a while how Barbara was when she was alive. I wrote in May that she might suffer depression during her last months. But what of her in the beginning and midst of her career? What of her before that? Rob Radboud said that Barbara was a gentle person who would sacrifice everything for love. I watched a small documentary with her talking, she looked lovely and lively. But is there another way of understanding her aside from those sources?

Then it occurred to me after reading some unrelated (duh) letters of Van Gogh. Letters! Jane Austen left letters that made us understand who she was, what she was like. Also Van Gogh, and other authors/artists. Nowadays we can glimpse what a person is like through their social media postings. But letters are truer, for they are not intended for public viewing. Of course, unlike reading letters of Jane Austen or Van Gogh who had passed away centuries ago, it's more of a breach of privacy to read letters of the deceased when they passed away not long ago (Barbara is in this category). But Barbara's letters are already available online from Rob's website (previously hosted at, hence I feel okay in discussing them here.

Monday, 5 September 2016

LOCH 2008 final impressions

LOCH 2008 poster, from Crunchyroll

"A mixed bag" is what I'd call LOCH 2008. Another way would be "good in small details, bad in big pictures". I originally wanted to write part 2 of the review after part 1, but then I didn't have time (and now I lean towards the don’t care attitude, sadly). Hence, this is a compilation of thoughts while watching eps 16-50. I will also comment on some characters that attracted my attention. I've only watched the 1983 ver so far (not planning to watch other versions, thank you), so inevitably I will compare it with the 1983 ver. Spoilers below.


I find that the pacing is better in this series than the 1983 version. If you read my episode recaps of 83, you'll know that I complained about the almost two episodes devoted solely for the Dali story. This pacing wastage didn't happen in 08. They only spent about 15 min to explain the whole story between Southern Emperor, Yinggu and Zhou Botong. Which is great, cos I cannot relate to this ZBT at all. I find him annoying instead of endearing the way I feel for the 83 ZBT.

However, the compact storyline also sacrificed some aspects of the series, some of them major. As some past reviewers have commented, Guo Jing's childhood was skipped entirely. I'm not a fan of the 83 ver of having the eight first episodes dedicated to GJ's life in Mongolian; two episodes would do, I think. But I don't advocate wiping it out altogether either. Also, some crucial elements about Huang Yaoshi wasn't shown here, e.g. we didn't see the adorable Huang Yaoshi (Anthony Wong) looking for HR after she left the island after the contest between GJ and Ouyang Ke. Hopefully in 2017, we will be treated with that scene, for we have  a photo of Michael Miu's HYS on the lookout for HR onboard of a boat, just like in 1983.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Line Walker (TVB 2014)

A few days ago, Michael Miu posted a series of photo on his Weibo account, informing us of his new series, from TVB Hong Kong no less! He’s reprising his role as Cheuk Sir, a detective at the Hong Kong police squad, a role he had done superbly back in the well-received 2014 Line Walker. The new poster of Line Walker 2 is near the end of this article. The rest of the article is something I’ve written back in June when I watched Line Walker 1 cover-to-cover in less than a week (Cantonese version, yo!). Talking about addiction...I never got to post this commentary, but since Line Walker 2 is coming up, there's no better time than the present to post it! Apologies if it is rather incoherent; it was really a running commentary as I watched the series. 

I once said I wanna see Michael playing a modern hacker or "thief" to mirror his Chor Lau Heung. Well, we don't have Barbara now, so it won't be the same (her birthday and death commemoration are coming soon), and Michael never played that modern Chor Lau Heung before he retired in 1987. Besides, technology in 1987 wasn't that advanced yet for him to play a convincing modern CLH.

But now we have excellent IT etc. And Michael had returned to us more than a decade ago. Though he wasn't playing a hacker in Line Walker, the series gave him very sufficient screen time to display his excellence as a hacker (policemen can hack too), a detective (love it when he solved cases!!) and an efficient fighter (he knocked out several bad cops without a sweat, but he did really fight...not those annoying CGIs!). And to see him in suit is always a lovely sight...And his voice was still awesome. Almost unchanged. His voice... (to think that I won’t hear that voice in the Mandarin version of the LOCH 2017!).

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

LOCH 2008 first impressions

LOCH 2008 poster from Clapanuelos

In preparation of LOCH 2017, I thought I'd better watch LOCH 2008 to acquaint myself with the 21 CE wuxia style, particularly that of Jin Yong. I watch LOCH 2008 through KissAsian Jianghu. This post is for episodes 1-15 and I posted it with my iPad, so please excuse the brevity and mistakes.

I find the 2008 version having an interesting story telling with flashbacks. Sceneries, the grand scale of Heng Dian studio and cinematography definitely win against 1983. However, I still prefer the costumes of 1983, although they would be recycled later for other series (e.g. The Foundation 1984). And most definitely, the original voice wins against any dubbed versions. This is not just for the Mandarin-dubbed HK series, but also for Mainland dubbed series. I really don't get it. What's wrong with using Ariel Lin's real voice? I can see and hear how Huang Rong's voice was dubbed, for it's just too cute (in an annoying way) and too high pitched oftentimes.

I still much prefer the old 80s with minimum cables and real fist fights, somersaults and backflips from the actors and actresses. Exceptional mention is the Temujin vs Jamukha fight in Ep 2 or 3 win just fists and wrestles; now that was pleasing to watch! The theme song for that scene was great too. When Brian Leung's North Beggar arrived on screen, we then start to enjoy the older classical fighting scenes, cos Brian had solid kung fu, like those of the old TVB era. They actually even showed a Hong Qigong double doing sommersault, to my glee! I also like YK/MNC and YK/GJ close-distance sparring/fighting. It seems when it's not involving flying off the roof scenes, modern wuxia series actually can pull quite good fighting scenes. But once it involves anything resembling rooftop or height, it paradoxically falls to the ground.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

"Eyes on Me" - a Chor Lau Heung 1984 MV

"Eyes on Me" - a Chor Lau Heung 1984 MV from Icha74 on Vimeo.

I have loved "Eyes on Me" from Final Fantasy VIII since I found it in 2014. Then I stopped listening to it until recently, when I thought the theme would suit Song Siu Ching's feelings for Chor Lau Heung. I think I was right. "Eyes on Me" by Faye Wong, music composed by Nobuo Uematsu, English lyrics by Kako Someya. The English lyrics are below the break. I also included the original MV of "Eyes on Me" for FF VIII here. 


Update 15 Aug'16: The Dailymotion version has been deleted by Dailymotion; I guess because of the song (Final Fantasy copyright?), not because of TVB. Dang... This is not a problem for those with access to Vimeo, but readers in Indonesia will have a problem with that, because Vimeo is banned in Indonesia (palm/face). Perhaps I need to make a Tudou account to upload this video? YouTube is out of question cos this is a video, not a collection of stills. Dang...

Monday, 8 August 2016

Yang's Saga 1985 review

Directed by Johnnie To, Raymond Lee and Siu Kin-hing, “Yang's Saga” is star-studded with important actors and actresses, minus my dear Barbara who passed away around the time of the filming or editing of this movie. Even the first scenes in Heaven had Dodo Cheng as Immortal Woman Ho, Mr Cheung Ying-choi (Master Ma Yu in LOCH 83 and the Emperor in CLH 84) as Royal Uncle Cho, Chow Yun Fat as Lui Tung-ban (Lu Dongbin), and Maggie Cheung Man-yeuk (Chang Man-yi) as the Divine Lady of Nine Heavens. We have Lisa Lui as Empress Li of Song and Margie Tsang as Tony's apsara girlfriend who was banished to the Earth because she was dating Tony Leung the Thunder Boy. Michael Miu was the Fourth Young Master Yang (Yeung Yin-fai, Yeung Sai-long), Mimi Kung (Wah Jan-Jan in CLH 84) played as his Song wife. Felix Wong was the Fifth Young Master Yang (Yeung Ng-long). Any Lau was the Sixth Young Master Yang (Yeung Yin-Chiu/Yang Yanzhao). Tony Leung was the Seventh son (Yeung Chat-long). Michael Tao was one of the brats in the nemesis Poon family. Kent Tong was the Eight Prince of the Song (Prince Bat Ying, or Zhao Defang). Chan Wing-chun (Wu Tit Fa in CLH 84) and Chun Wong (Old Imp, LOCH 83) were the two Yeung generals. Check this Wiki link for other casts.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Visiting Barbara's grave

Barbara Yung's grave, Cambridge 28 July 2016

Since I started writing posts about Michael and Barbara last year, I had wanted to visit Barbara's grave in Cambridge UK. I finally had my chance when the UK immigration finally granted me a tourist visa for a visit this July.

I went to visit Barbara's grave in Cambridge last week on Thursday (28 July). It was raining when I arrived around 2 pm at the Cambridge City Cemetery. I had with me two bouquets of roses: 10 yellow roses and 10 red, pink and white roses. I also brought a pot of small red roses, all for £10 in the Thursday Cambridge market.

Located at Lot 29, at the north corner of the Cambridge City Cemetery (diagonal from the main parking lot), Barbara's grave wasn't looking as sad as when Rob Radboud came in June 2012. Back then, a yellow rose bush was growing unattended, blocking the grave. Rob had to hack the bush with his own hands without garden scissors or a knife, for he wasn't expecting that the grave wasn't attended. This time, last Thursday, I saw "only" two bunches of flowers wrapped in plastic, half a bottle of mineral water that someone used as a vase, and growing weed. Still a mess though, which made me sad...

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

“You’re the best in this world” MV (Michael Miu as HYS 2017) & LOCH 1983 OST 3 translation

I just made this MV since we have now enough photos to make just one MV of Michael as Huang Yaoshi 2017. Since Michael played as the very memorable villain Yang Kang (Yeung Hong) in the 1983 ver of LOCH, I think it's apt to have the LOCH 1983 OST used for this piece. The OST is titled "You're the best in this world" 世間始終你好 sung by Roman Tam and Jenny Tseng. I have the YouTube, Vimeo and Dailymotion versions for Michael as Huang Yaoshi here. 

Since I'm also doing the translation of the LOCH 1983 OST, this post is also for that. Hence, the translation of "You’re the best in the world" (世間始終你好) is after the break. The MV of LOCH 1983 OST part 3 with Barbara Yung as Wong Yung and Felix Wong as Kwok Ching is after the translation. Romanisation is Cantonese Yale (converted from Jyutping using this site), translated into English and Indonesian.

I love this song so much, I think it's just slightly below the iconic part 1 (Iron Blood, Loyal Heart) theme song, so I enjoyed making the MV. I hope you like it too. Translation of 2nd LOCH 1983 OST will be done next week or so...

Monday, 25 July 2016

Legend of Dik Ching 1986 eps 11-20

Click this link to see the raw Cantonese episodes of Dik Ching

Seung Seung and Dik Ching shared their hearts, Ep 11

Ep 11: SS went to see the imprisoned DC and made up for their fights earlier. DC produced the jade arhat that SS once gave her, thus she knew that he truly loved her. Although her brother still dragged her away, she appeared again just before DC and his friend were guillotined. She threatened her brother that she'd commit suicide if DC was still killed, but the silly girl took a misstep and actually truly stabbed herself. She was still okay, but the Prince delayed the death punishment for DC. The next bit, I don't really get, but I think the Prince then offered DC freedom and gave his permission to marry SS if DC would reside with the Mongols. Or something like that, cos later the word "Fuma" (prince consort) was spoken by Chung tai-gor’s sister. DC refused, so he was imprisoned again. Then A Fuk and the girl came to the camp, and somehow managed to talk to DC. This is when DC asked the girl to talk to SS, I think telling SS that his refusal to be a Fuma (prince consort) doesn't mean he didn't love SS. That night, DC's colleagues tried to rescue him, but the idiots failed... 

Saturday, 23 July 2016

More photos of Michael Miu as Huang Yaoshi

Michael Miu has uploaded more photos of him as the East Heretic in his weibo. Rather than putting them in the older post, I'd put them here instead. I will also make an MV of him as Huang Yaoshi, if not this weekend, then next weekend (a very tiring week this week...), so watch this blog please...

The above is my favourite due to the saying. The right bottom corner says, "Travel somewhere new each year, and you just might find yourself along the way". On the left upper corner is Huang Yaoshi's name written in the traditional Chinese characters 黃藥師 (love it! I much prefer traditional than simplified characters due to the former's deeper meanings). Michael also wrote "If not now, when?". I think these simple sayings are very profound, it shows how much he was willing to explore by taking the role of the iconic Huang Yaoshi.

(or perhaps because he is already 58 years old now, he was concerned that he would not get the chance again in the future. Or both.)

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Legend of Dik Ching 1986 eps 1-10

Update: Have updated some aspects in the synopsis based on Wina's explanations and her great childhood memories!

Kitty Lai (Princess Seung Seung) and Michael Miu (Dik Ching) in DC 1986

The Legend of Dik Ching (狄青)was the Northern Song rom-com featuring Michael Miu and Kitty Lai as the leads. This was one of the first series Michael played after Barbara's passing in 1985 (the other one was Yang's Saga), which makes it paradoxically sadder to me due to its rom-com nature. However, Wina recommended the series to me. Since it's a Michael Miu series, I thought why not watching it. Plus, I love Kitty Lai as well since I saw her as Zhao Min in HSDS 86 three decades ago. The problem is that there is no English sub for DC, hence I had to just watch the raw version. I still opt to watch the Cantonese version though, at least I still can hear Michael's real voice. Now, the trick is, Youku does not have the complete DC episodes. Luckily, my persistent to view the Canto ver paid off, for I found this Yueyuyy website. Yueyuyy actually airs the Tudou and Youku links, but only Tudou links work. It doesn't have the sub, but that's the only complete collection I can find in Cantonese, so you better watch it soon if you are interested. Click here for the summary in the TVB channel (spellings are Mandarin Pinyin, mostly).

DC was the Northern Song version of Szeto Man Mo. DC's family held exclusive rights to trade salt and rice in the Song kingdom, and they had been doing a fair trade with the consumers. DC liked to prank and a bit good-for-nothing in the beginning, but actually had a golden heart. He had a childhood friend named Yeung Chiyan (Shalin Tse, the yellow-dressed maiden in HSDS 86) who loved him so much. DC worked for the Magistrate or something like that, I suppose after his mother rebuked him for being a lazy bone. Mum was Felix Wong's Kwok Ching's mum (Li Ping) in LOCH 83. DC had a loyal servant named A Fuk (who often became DC's sandbag in the earlier episodes or became DC's unsolicited adviser, though the results were not always guaranteed). DC's nemesis was Pon Sau, another royalty portrayed by the cute Michael Tao (Right Emissary Fan Yao in HSDS 86). 

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre 1986 Eps 23-40 (End)

Wina supplied all photos for this post for me, hence, thank you, Wina!

Zhao Min (Kitty Lai) was the highlight for this series for me

Sorry for the minimum post this week, have been having three deadlines until next weekend. This post picks up from the HSDS part 1 (eps 1-22) where Zhang Wuji (WJ, Tony Leung) finally met Zhao Min (ZM, Kitty Lai). At first, WJ didn't realise ZM was a Mongolian royalty. He was just attracted to her the way she was to him. WJ had collected three "girlfriends" at this stage: Zhou Zhiruo (the Emei student), the Spider-Girl Yin Li (his cousin from mother's side, actually) and Xiao Zhao (a servant girl who would be the Persian Ming Cult leader later). Dressed as a handsome young man (Kitty was as handsome as Barbara Yung when dressed as a guy), ZM was intrigued at WJ. It didn't take long for her to reveal to WJ that she was a girl, and soon after, she bestowed him a hairpin inside a golden box. 

Innocent/ignorant WJ gave the hairpin to Xiao Zhao, which flared ZM when she realised that he'd wasted her intentions. She still managed to make him promise three things in return of a healing paste for Third and Sixth Uncles (the healing paste inside the good box, the ingredients inside the hairpin). WJ promised that he'd do the three things, as long as they were righteous deeds and within his means. The first was that he'd take her to the Fire and Ice Island to see the Dragon Sabre. ZM kept the second and the third promise till later.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

The Rivers and Lakes stats

Update 11 July 2016: I now include the truncated calculation to examine the page view per day (down to the bottom page); the result is slightly different from the total page view analyses. Update 16 July 2016: I add the visitors' countries based only on Rivers and Lakes stats.

This post is the 100th post of jianghu-related articles of mine, thus, I’d like to look at some statistics of the jianghu/wuxia articles that I’ve written so far. You can skip this post if you want (duh!), but it actually provides a lot of interesting information for me...

There are important notes to be made though. First, I count the 100th post from all wuxia/jianghu posts combined from my personal blog and this Realm of Rivers and Lakes blog. If I count just the jianghu articles from this blog, this post would be the 66th, but since I started this genre talking in my personal blog, I think it’s fair that I include the personal blog counts in this statistics. Second, I exclude my first ever wuxia post about Nicky Wu’s and Liu Tao’s Li Hou Zhu series, since it has gained a lot of momentum since it was written in 2009 (it’s now at 5,415 page-views). Plus, the current blog is focusing more on Michael Miu and Barbara Yung wuxia series, thus I think excluding Nicky Wu’s series is okay.