Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre (Yi Tian Tu Long Ji) 2009

 Rating: ***

Genre: Wuxia, Romance, Drama
Episodes: 40
Cast: Deng Chao, Ady An, Liu Jing, He Zhuo Yan, Zhang Meng, Lu Chen, Wu Xiao Dong

"Based on the popular novel by Jin Yong Kam Yung, he also wrote Legend of the Condor Heroes and Return of the Condor Heroes, the Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre takes place during 14th century China during the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty, roughly 100 years after the events of Return of the Condor Heroes. After decades of struggles, famine, and bitterness which the Chinese citizens blamed on the Yuan Dynasty's misgovernment, the Martial Arts sects have begun to rebel. Prince Ruyong asks Cheng Kun, a Shaolin monk with an ulterior motive, for a plan on how to deal with the rebels."

For this drama, I really want to give it a lower score but I am trying my best to be nice.  Now, I will admit that it was a show that got me addicted, but the production did not give the story justice.  It was quite obvious with the props that they were stretching the budget a bit.  I mean, did you see that stuffed polar bear they used?  There were so many problems with the special effects, props, and acting that I really don't know where to begin.  However, since "A" is the first letter of the alphabet, I guess I should start with the acting.

I may not know much about acting, but there are some universal expressions that can be distinguished no matter the culture.  Many of the actors didn't do well in expressing pain, and it really annoyed me.  It kind of made me want to repeatedly bang my head against my desk.  It wasn't so bad once the main character was old enough and the main story started, but by then I was about 10 episodes in.  In all honesty, I think that's why it was so bad.  If you're going to pick bad actors for the historic scenes, you should probably use "flashback" orders.  What I mean is that some writers choose to start the story off a quarter of the way through the story and do flashbacks of past events to let the viewers understand what previously happened in the main characters' life.  This works better than having to sit through 10 episodes (7.5 hours) of bad acting before the main story even begins.

The next main point I have is the special effects.

1. The snow land looked like desert sand.  It's as if they filmed at the beach and then digitally whitened the sand to make it look like snow.
2. Whenever they did an aerial view of the Fiery Ice island (or whatever they called it), I could see a sail boat in the shot.  (Maybe I'm seeing things?)
3. They use the same aerial shots over and over and over again.  Like the scene with the birds flying or the aerial view of the island.
4. The change in scenery was way too often on the snowy island.  It looks like various artists created different view points for the backgrounds but never compared notes so the color of the sky/ground and general area goes back and forth during the scenes.
5. They get out of the water and the next moment they are completely dry.
6. Episode 4 - 12:02 - In this frame, you can see that they forgot to use the special effects.  You can actually see the raw footage, including the green screen in the background.  I have to say, though, it's a nice green screen they have there.
7. Although I didn't notice it myself, I heard there was one instance where you could see the wire pretty clearly.  If anyone knows the timing for that, I'd really like to know as I'd like to see what I missed.
8. When they did an aerial view of an iceberg, the water didn't react with the ice at all.  A professional would use visual effects to make it look like the ocean was reacting to the iceberg.  Because of that, it looked extremely fake.  I won't even start on how it looked like styrofoam.
9. An iceberg usually has at least half of it's volume under water.  They obviously didn't know that, though, as some of the shots didn't reflect that fact.

I also have a few micellaneous comments I'd like to discuss.  For instance, why doesn't she call him a hubby-type name instead of "Ge"?  They are married, yet she calls him that.  It's just kind of odd to me, you know?  I'm sure that even in that dynasty they had words like "husband" or "dear" to describe their spouse.  "Ge" is fine for very good friends or lovers, but for your husband?  Secondly, do you want to know how Eskimos came about?  The married couple had a few more kids, but they abandoned them on the island.  (Ha ha ha, I'm just kidding.) Thirdly, and maybe I'm wrong here, the main character completely forgets about one of the girls for like ten episodes.  He goes to save her, but ends up getting distracted and never mentions her again until she finally shows up.  What's up with that?  Last, but not least, I never would have thought I'd read the word "Lion King" in this series.  I don't know why, but I found it comical.

Looking back, I really did enjoy the series.  The only problem is that they didn't produce it well enough to really make the story shine.  I can't really say if the reason the effects were so bad was because they didn't have enough money, or they just didn't hire the right people to do the work, but I guess it can't be helped.  If you have already read the novel before, I'd suggest that you just skip the first 10 episodes in order to save yourself the misery of having to notice all of the acting and production problems that it had.  The last 75% of the drama was very good, but they kind of botched the first quarter of it.  I probably won't watch it again mainly because I cannot stand watching all of the mistakes, but it's a decent show to watch if you are bored.

What did you think of this drama? Comment below!


1 comment:

Heaven and Earth said...

I consider this drama as pretty good or else we would not have sub it.

Now regarding the budget...it is really low budget and as this is an epic drama that requires tons of special effects, locations, settings, actors, customs, etc...the drama has done a great job in stretching its pennies to the max.

As for the us of Ge or GeGe...
General meaning is older brother. But it is used for any male. You can call a younger male GeGe as a form of respect, compliment, joke, etc. You can also use in a relationship as a form of endearment for your boyfriend, husband, any male you are romantically interested in, etc. Basically you can use gege for any males or even female leaders depending on the situation lol.