Saturday, 24 September 2016

Xuan Zang 2016

Xuan Zang 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 Zang 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 Zang and another Asian movie, and in the end, boy I’m glad that I watched Xuan Zang.

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 Zang that he’s one of my favourite Mainland actors now. HXM made me thought that he was actually channelling Xuan Zang 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.