Sunday, 29 January 2017

LOCH 2017 commentaries for Eps 9-16

Highlight of past week: the death of YTX & BXR for me

Happy New Year! Fire Rooster, hoping all the best for us hard-workers (that should include me, I hope…), but in general, may we all be happy, healthy and prosperous. Since iQIYI has released episodes 9-16 last week for the VIPs (which then leaked to YouTube), I can review those episodes for us this time. I do find 8 episodes per week too much to watch, hence I’m glad it’s back to the 4 episodes per week next week onwards. I have indeed subscribed to iQIYI VIP, but it’s just $6 per month, and I made a one-off purchase.

I’m also happy that other people can watch Ep 9-16 as well through YouTube, though I do suggest you watch Ep 9-12 from iQIYI to help the rating. So far, the 2017 LOCH is competing with a series called “The Tomb” something or other for rank 2-3, while Angela Baby’s “General and I” is at Baidu Baike rank 1.

Generally speaking now, I love this series. I did watch it earlier because of Michael Miu, but along the lines, I fell in love with Genghis Khan, Jebe, Ouyang Ke (!!), Mu Nianci, Yang Tiexin, Bao Xiruo, Wang Chuyi, Qiu Chuji, Ma Yu... n the two main leads of GJ HR. I’m okay, but not ecstatic over Chen Xingxu’s Yang Kang, but I am totally irked at the choice of Hong Qigong. The actor may have won a movie award in China, but that doesn’t make him the HQG I hope for.

Action-wise, they utilized less and less CGI, which is great. Sure they still use it, but instead of using lasers or thunders, they used vibrating air and dancing leaves for the 18 Styles Dragon Palm and Huang Yaoshi’s strikes. Neat. The use of wire-fu and slow-mo have been reduced to minimum (except when the Six Freaks are involved cos apparently they didn’t know kungfu…). The highlight of last week was definitely the death of Yang Tiexin and Bao Xiruo for me, although I was indeed happy that Michael appeared as HYS. Some episode commentaries are below, after this very apt cartoon of GJ trying to appease HYS!

Episode 9

The episode covers the reunion of YTX and BXR, GJ meeting Mei Chaofeng again, YTX, BXR and MNC running away from the Zhao Palace and YK (who had learned that YTX was his dad) requesting Ouyang Ke et al to help capturing YTX and BXR.

Total tearjerker when BXR realised that YTX was indeed her husband. I really love this couple. Li Zonghan and Crystal Lui made a great on-screen couple here, their pain and love were very apparent in their faces and body languages.

Mei Chaofeng appeared again as per the novel; staying inside a cave in the Zhao Palace (this one is an underground cave). Did YK supply make up for MCF while she lived in the cave?? She still had her deep red lipstick and was obviously aware of her hairstyle… despite being blind… MCF's act was good, though. I just can't stand her make up.

Glad OYK appeared again, and that GJ was jealous of him! This indeed is the first time I actually cheer over the rivalry between GJ and OYK! I do like William Yang’s GJ, it’s a believable GJ, and I actually like him better than (gasp) Hu Ge’s GJ!

Episode 10

This episode covers Yang Tiexin’s and Bao Xiruo’s death and GJ’s subsequent betrothal to MNC.

Amazing last fight of YTX!! He did some roundhouse kicks that were just amazing. The three Quanzhen (Ma Yu, Qiu Chuji and my new fave Wang Chuyi) were also amazing... Total tearjerker for the last curtain call for YTX n BXR, the storyline totally made it very plausible for YTX to sacrifice himself rather than watching the Quanzhen sacrificing themselves for him and BXR. My heart fell for YTX cos YK didn't even want to acknowledge him in his last moments....

Meng Ziyi's Mu Nianci was a treat to a wuxia fan!

Mu Nianci also gave an amazing fight during YTX-BXR last fight... MNC was amazing in her fighting style; minimum amount of slow mo unlike in ep 6 when she first met YK. I don’t know if it was Meng Ziyi or her stunt; but this MNC actually climbed a tree and back-flipped from the tree. Even with a wire, that move was performed admirably, definitely needing some core-strength, hence my applause.

One thing that I wish they’d do here: Including HR in the scene where YTX-BXR died. I like the 1983 ver that it included Barbara Yung's Wong Yung in that scene. I understand that in the novel (CMIIW) HR was not in the scene when YTX-BXR died, but somehow I wanted HR to witness the sad scene...

I have to say again that I love it here that YTX, despite knowing how rotten Yang Kang was, still extended olive branch at his long-lost son. My new hero is definitely Li Zonghan’s Yang Tiexin. What a hero! What an apt hero for a hero like Yang Guo later… despite me not liking Yang Guo’s overdose romance with Little Dragon Girl.

Episode 11

This episode still covers GJ’s betrothal to MNC, which he later refused. Then we saw YK was convinced by MNC to leave his princely life, but then as YK and MNC approached the city gate, WHYL came and talked to his "son". YK faltered and returned to his princely life, yet he still had time to lie to MNC, saying that he was going to be the mole inside the Zhao Palace to look for the Book of Wu Mu. Then we also saw HR trying to outsmart Zhu Cong (Second Freak) in order to rescue GJ from his teachers, GJ escaping from his teachers with the help of the Seventh Freak, GJ learning how to swim, and Hong Qigong’s first appearance.

I like it that they showed YK's faltering heart, but he didn't go as far as leaving the Palace to be like the 2008 Yang Kang (which was a total palm-face for me).

Very cute scene of GJ learning how to swim. GJHR are definitely my darlings these days in this series.

IMO, William Yang's GJ was appropriately awed at Li Yitong's HR, which was nice...

Not to mention that these dishes (as HR waited for GJ) looked AMAZING!! I'm so craving for good Chinese food here, which is NONEXISTENT! Arrrghhh!!!

Being a semi-vegetarian, the tofu and green dishes look DELICIOUS to me!

OTOH, this HQG is not my HQG... yet. He's too... strict for the darling North Beggar that liked to allow HR to play prank with him... And what's with his WIG??? Looks like a cheap cosplay wig that was bought at the last minute. And no wrinkles despite his white hair and eyebrows?? It seems that this series has at least two costume designers. One very capable, creating the Mongolian garbs (including Jebe's, Temujin's, Tolui's), the older Yang Tiexin, the Seven Freaks, and also Michael Miu's design. The other one... total hopeless, creating Hong Qigong and I bet, Yinggu...

This inconsistency can only be explained by having two people at least handling the costume department...

A very cute cartoon of GJ counting HR's eyelashes for Ep 11

Episode 12

This episode still covers GJHR and HQG. GJ mastering the 18 Dragon-subduing Palm from HQG. 

Still NOT feeling for this HQG. What a disappointment!!

But, Ouyang Ke appeared almost at the end of Ep 12, which made up my sore eyes for watching Hong Qigong. OYK tried to court HR again, but HQG intervened. This Ouyang Ke (Liu Zhiyang) had some strands of his hair disarrayed when HQG hit his hand with the Dog-beating Stick, hence creating a beautiful effect on OYK's otherwise very neat hairstyle.

Just a different hair parting style made this OYK looked different!

Episode 13

This episode covers HR kidnapped by OYK, but she was then rescued by GJ and HQG. Oh, I know OYK is a bastard, but he’s so adorable here that I actually enjoy his screen time! Then HR starting to see MNC eye to eye and YK sweet-talking poor MNC.

HR misunderstood MNC for she saw the Mu girl carrying GJ’s dagger. HR picked a fight with MNC, also involving a knife just like in the novel. When MNC called her “sister”, HR said “What sister?!” and continued attacking the older girl. But HR didn’t pretend to slash MNC’s face with the knife. Too bad, that would have been excellent. I think Barbara’s Wong Yung actually did that with Sharon Yeung’s Mok Nimchi. The girls (MNC/HR) eventually made peace and MNC gave HR Guo Jing’s dagger.

Oh, for Ep 13, I LOVE it that Jebe had a short appearance there! God I miss him! And Tolui too!! They came to the Song territory to talk about a collaboration to defeat the Jurchens, which irked WHYL.

Ah, Jebe, SO good to see you again!

Episode 14

This episode covers GJHR and Yang Kang in the Lake Manor. GJHR decided to travel on a lake (forgot the lake’s name) and then met Lu Chengfeng (former student of HYS). YK was captured by Lu Guanying et al; MNC came to rescue him, YK asked her to fetch Mei Chaofeng instead.

Love the short fight between OYK n MNC. I can't detect slow-mo there (perhaps there was, but very little). And i love MNC's fuschia sabre scabbard.

Does MNC use a sabre or a sword? I like it that she uses a sabre here, seems tougher than if she's using a sword, despite it having a pink hilt and scabbard.

Episode 15

This episode covers the arrival of “Qiu Qianren” (well, his liar twin actually) at the Cloud Manor and the fight between GJ and Qiu Qianren. The episode opened with Huang Yaoshi defeating Ouyang Ke’s flute when the latter tried to kidnap MNC and had defeated Mei Chaofeng. I love the flute battle between OYK and HYS. And of course, I say this again, this OYK has managed to make my heart aflutter, hence watching him on-screen is always good.

Episode 16

HYS unmasking himself is still a very heart-fluttering scene for me

This episode covers the fight between Mei Chaofeng and the Six Freaks and Huang Yaoshi’s first complete appearance. WHY OH WHY did they choose to dub Michael's voice??? His Mandarin is good! Is that because of his Cantonese accent, if any? I am NOT happy about this decision!

 I’m warming up to MCF despite her heavy make up for a blind woman living in the wild.

I still prefer HR running away from the island (jumping into the lake like in the novel, perhaps?), refusing to go with Daddy to Peach Blossom Island, but I'll live with her flying (palm/face) away with Daddy Heretic for now.

Oh, and totally love the short scene of OYK in ep 15! I know he's supposed to be despicable, and his actions by nature is immoral, but this OYK is very interesting that I actually like his appearances.

My interim impressions of Michael Miu’s Huang Yaoshi

I love Michael's HYS so far, but the scenes are so few to make a thorough judgement. I'm disappointed that he had no action scenes at all... what a waste of the first scene without the HYS actions. Still SORELY disappointed at Michael being dubbed... but I love the short father-daughter moments with HR.

I question the unexpected appearance of HYS in rescuing MCF from Seven Freaks, to me it reduces the effect of his arrival in front of everyone.

Too much nei-gong show for HYS (good thing they used gently vibrating air and swirling leaves to indicate the nei-gong, instead of some neon colour blasts…). Michael can do kungfu, somersault etc, so I was expecting more when he examined whether Lu Guanying had the Taohua kungfu or not. I wasn’t being hard on Michael; I just missed his wuxia so much that I want to see him doing real kungfu like before. But as Mandred from SPCNet reminded me, Michael is almost 60, so I shouldn’t be so pushy perhaps…

Having said that, I'm actually waiting for the Taohua Island episode, for it will bring me HYS, OYK, and also the Old Imp Zhou Botong that I have been anticipating... plus, I like the rivalry between GJ and OYK, so I think it will be an interesting chapter...

Unless they go with the vibration effects again for HYS's neigong...

Oh yeah, for the last scene of Ep 16, I don't like seeing HR flying away with HYS. I prefer HR diving into the lake like in the novel (and that HYS didn’t fly away. Just sommersaulted away). But I find Michael’s HYS true to novel so far. He displayed the ego, regret, fearsomeness and love (to HR) in the Cloud Manor as he was written in the novel. The bit where he threw off the piece of paper (containing the new style for Lu Chengfeng) to LCF was pretty accurate; the paper didn't flutter cos it was supposed to be thrown at LCF with a very good nei gong. HYS also displayed regret as he saw the crippled LCF crying over HYS' forgiveness, before HYS switched back to being stern to MCF.

And I love HYS's interactions with HR when they were alone. He chuckled and tried her cake, but then lost his appetite again when GJ was mentioned.

MM's HYS reminds me a lot of Kenneth Tsang's HYS, and I'm very pleased with the direction.

Of course I want him not dubbed (not sure I buy the possible explanation that his Mandarin might have a weird accent), but I’ll just have to live with that. And I want to see him in action, but as far as I have seen so far, Michael showed very good kungfu stances in the limited space and time he had. The way he threw off Lu Guanying showed that Michael still had those kungfu with him.

I am looking forward to Michael’s HYS. For the first time since I watched LOCH 1983 (and also LOCh 2008), the Tao Hua Island will be an awaited episode for me, cos I can see Ouyang Ke (!!) sharing the same scene with HYS... and not to mention the slow-witted GJ starting to outshine OYK!

Update 4 Feb 2017

Kaypang Gallery moderator made me realised that the scene in Ep 16 where HYS flicked the stones to cue MCF was actually in the 3rd edition of the LOCH novel. Will check if it's in the 2nd edition as well. Pangchu said that the style HYS used was called 'Deathly Flickering Finger', or perhaps 'Deathly Flicks' (Tánzhǐ Shéntōng). Thanks, Pangchu!

Also see below the new manga of Michael Miu's Huang Yaoshi:

And for those who want to vote for Michael's Yang Kang/Yeung Hong as the best Jin Yong male character, click this link. I think you don't need Weibo, cos Hannah could vote without Weibo.

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