Magical Needle


Reviewed by: sukting

March 15, 2009

Rating: two-point-five

Foreword
This is said to be Wan Bik Ha’s last drama. It is also the only drama that has Leung Siu Bing and Lee San San in it. With three beauties in the same drama, are they able to create miracles? Will they be able to change your minds of China dramas?

No. of episodes - 40

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Jin Cheng – Yu Bo
He is handsome and yet cold. He attacks his opponents like a wolf. He is brought up by a ruthless and heartless Lang Yue. However, he has a righteous air and regards ties important. Although he is an orphan and stays with his master in the wolf valley, his skills are very versed. However, he has poor judgment of men to get cheated repeatedly as he is closer to wolves and hardly has dealings with men.

A wolf that is closed to him is killed by a hunter. Cheng kills him – he turns out to be Ting’s elder son. Ting injures him seriously and he is rescued by Fu Er who is collecting nectar in the mountains. Fu Er uses the poisonous bee needles to cure him. Both fall for each other.

He is an innocent child but when he meets Fu Er, the passions burns in him and both become a couple after many setbacks. Cheng doesn’t want Lang Yue to kill Tian Lin so he steals the night pearl to give to Lord Ping Yue, wanting to expose Ting’s scheme. But the goldsmith breaks it easily, showing that it is a fake object and Cheng is a fraud. Qiang Qiang is in cahoots with Ting to make the switch after Cheng rejects her love.

Ting has stolen the real one to sentence Cheng to death. Lang Yue knows that her face has changed and is unable to get Lord Ping Yao’s trust. But her concern for Cheng surpasses her love to stay alive. She wants to use her life to exchange for his. She wants the others to return to the wolf valley but they insist of staying with her.

Cheng discovers that Lord Ping Yao protects Jing Xin Taoist shrine. The owner Hui Wu is in cahoots with Ting to build an army to stage a rebellion soon. Hui Wu is actually Aunt Lan’s and Lang Yue’s senior. All are the descendants of the invisible skill clan.

She is actually the sole survivor after Lord Ping Yao eliminates her ‘Yun’ clan. She steals into the palace but falls for the handsome and young him. She then pretends to be his wife to sleep with him for the night when he is drunk. She is then pregnant with Cheng and leaves him in the wolf valley as the palace and her clansmen will not allow this.

She has stayed in Jing Xin shrine for many years to want to seek revenge on Lord Ping Yao. It is said that Yun clan’s white jade, the light shone by the sun and the moon and the cave mirror will make anyone’s wish come true if combined together. Hui Wu wants to bring Lord Ping Yao and Cheng to leave this world while Ting wants to own the three objects.

The light proves to influence casualties instead. Ting is burned to death – so is Hui Wu. Lord Ping Yao meets his beloved wife and gives his position to Cheng. Cheng leaves it to Bao and returns to the wolf valley. What welcomes him home are not only the wolves but also Fu Er who is supposed to marry Tian Lin. This makes the wolf valley a warm place and is no longer cold.

Yu Bo acts better than in ‘Siu Sap Yat Long’ but China producers – please spare us from seeing leather jackets and boots again. Yu Bo dresses up just like Bu Jing Yun in ‘Fung Wan’. I believe many like me will want to watch a traditional drama with more appropriate dressing.

2. Dong Fu Er – Leung Siu Bing
She is a stunning beauty. She has a good sense of smell and can detect different kinds of pollen. She even knows how to use poisonous bee needles for acupuncture to heal the sick. She inherits her skills from her father who is a famous physician. Cheng becomes her first patient and both are close.

Fu Er cures Lang Yue’s face wound to enable her to leave the wolf valley. Being kindhearted, she will never harm others and will rather sacrifice herself. Her route with Cheng is a tough one as no one seems to approve it. She is alarmed to see how Tian Lin has changed but has no ways to change him. Siu Bing is surprisingly youthful. She acts as well as always but I have wished that her role isn’t this one-dimensional as this is so boring. How can she be so nice to her father’s killer?

3. Liu Lang Yue – Wan Bik Ha
Her real name is Yi Shui Yun. She is in her 40s but her seducing eyes also sparkles a chilling air. She loves Di but is made use by him. Her family is framed for hiding the night pearl. This results in her whole family getting killed. She escapes but her face is disfigured by the fire. Her father’s confidante, Aunt Lan takes care of her. She is an expert in making herself invisible.

Lang Yue stays in the wolf valley to use the special flowers and the cold air from the cave to heal her wound. She adopts Cheng and Bao. Yuan’s skilful hands help to sew a new face mask for her. But if she leaves the valley, her face will start to rot. So she makes use of Bao and Cheng to seek revenge. Fu Er cures Lang Yue and Lang Yue stays in Yue residence, waiting to seek revenge.

Lord Ping Yao loves his wife deeply and steals two night pearls to prevent her body from rotting. But one of the night pearls are stolen and her corpse vanishes into thin air. Only a tear is left with the empty coffin. Lord Ping Yao hates Shui Yun for stealing it but is impressed by Lang Yue who is able to ‘communicate’ with his late wife. Thus, she becomes someone important to him. As Yuan falls into Ting’s hands, Lang Yue wants Cheng to kill Yuan. Fu Er and Cheng are tormented after this tragedy. But it is later found that he is still alive so both reconcile later.

She treats Tian Lin badly but her motherly instinct stays. After a long battle, she accepts him back and both become close. Sad to say, I can’t tell how different she can be as she looks very much the same as in ‘Gods of Honour’ and ‘Gentle Reflections’. Why is she still letting down her hair after her marriage? My neighbours still find her very slutty looking in this drama.

4. Jin Bao – Yang Jun Yi
He is Lang Yue’s another disciple. He dresses like Cheng so both are mistaken to be brothers. He is a simple man who is easily made used of. Although Lang Yue has warned him repeatedly to prevent others, he is kind and prefers to be himself. He always has a smile on his face and loves Qiang Qiang deeply. He suffers a lot because of her and has no regrets being made use by her. If Fu Er is too nice to be true, Bao is also too stupid to exist in real life. He is so easily made used of by Qiang Qiang to do all the evil deeds.

I find this man a 100% nitwit. He is already lower skilled than Cheng but he doesn’t push himself hard to improve till Qiang Qiang appears. This actor is destined to play second fiddle in dramas with his plain looks and half-baked acting.

5. Li Qiang Qiang – Lee San San
She is intelligent and comes from a rich family. Thus she is willful and thinks highly of herself because of her beauty. She sings and dances well. Her soft body is suitable for practicing ‘heng gong’. She then practices skills from Lang Yue. Jun Yi has zero chemistry with San San. They don’t spice up the atmosphere although they have lots of scenes together.

However she is rebellious and is jealous of Fu Er although they grow up together. Fu Er wins her in every aspect. She doesn’t want to admit defeat – especially when both fall for Jin Cheng. She doesn’t know why she loses to Fu Er although they know him at the same time.

Knowing that Lang Yue’s face will rot if she doesn’t take Fu Er’s medication, she steals her medicine. Lang Yue is alarmed but luckily Ren Jie doesn’t mind her looks. Fu Er manages to restore her looks later so Lang Yue is guarded against Qiang Qiang from then onwards.

She has a daughter with Bao after sleeping with him but isn’t satisfied. Her only wish in life is to win her but this leads to her own destruction. Bao has to bring up their daughter alone. I still think that San San’s facial expressions can be better. No doubt she is pretty but I don’t know why one cheek of hers seems to be bigger than the other. That is why I find her way of talking strange.

6. Yue Tian Lin – Lian Kai
He is Ting’s younger son who is handsome and gentle. He is warm-hearted since young and disapproves of Ting’s doing. He is kind but his poor health disallows him from learning martial arts. Ever since Fu Er cures him of his asthma, he falls for her. He becomes Cheng’s friend after saving him for a few occasions. Cheng is willing to teach him martial arts and he is grateful to him.

Ting has an ugly secret. He is the offspring after he rapes Lang Yue. Aunt Lan has sent him out of the wolf valley after Lang Yue faints after giving birth, fearing that she will kill him. After leaving him at a temple, Mrs Yue brings him home. Thus Lang Yue decides to use his hands to eliminate his father to create the tragedy. Mrs Yue feels shameful over Ting’s act and kills herself.

After knowing his parentage, the weak Tian Lin becomes wicked. He falls out with his best friend, Cheng to become bitter enemies. He even forces Fu Er to marry him and is after Cheng’s blood. Kai isn’t as good as I have expected, I am a bit disappointed by his interpretation. The transformation in Tian Lin isn’t enchanting at all.

7. Yue Ting – Zhang Jian
He is Lord Ping Yao’s follower but is very eager to achieve success. He is ambitious and unscrupulous to gain power in court. What he desires is to get the night pearl which he has been searching all these years. He rapes Lang Yue and attempts to kill her. He likes her beauty but status is more important to him. He kills her whole family in a fire and both are bitter enemies. Ting nearly kills Tian Lin as he doesn’t know his real parentage. He has a sorry end. This is definitely his retribution.

8. Yue Di – Liu Pei Zhong
He is Ting’s younger brother who views loyalty most important in life. He is Ping Yao’s no. 1 warrior. He is married but loves Lang Yue. Ting leads him to think that Lang Yue kills his wife to separate them so that he can have Lang Yue. He is badly affected and doesn’t care about the court affairs.

But he still stays in Yue’s residence to be his follower. He hates and loves Lang Yue as he can’t forget her. He is simply foolish to follow whatever Ting tells him. Although he is not close to Ting, he is close to his two nephews. This uncle can be so trendy to have a long fringe – just like them.

9. Ji Ren Jie – Li Zheng Qi
He has the guts but he isn’t wise. He sets lots of credits for Ping Yao dynasty. He is hungry for Ting’s position so he vows to eliminate him. He is married with a grown-up daughter but falls for Lang Yue to get her as his concubine. Only his daughter supports his act as she thinks of her as a kind person (she is completely deceived by her as she wants to get into her family.)

He has no sons so he adopts one. He loves to go hunting with his bow and arrow. He is very accurate in his shooting. He has initially dismissed his daughter’s words on how extraordinary Lang Yue is but is later stunned by her beauty when she pretends to protect him from an attack. (She conspires with Aunt Lan to stage the attempt.) He obeys to her in everything after their marriage – that includes always going against Ting openly.

10. Dong Yuan – Song Lai Yun
He is Fu Er’s father who is a well reputed physician. He is upright and is implicated into a fire arson case in the past. He protects Fu Er from getting harmed to change his name to live in a small village with her. He later becomes blind and is separated from her. He is calm and finds all ways, wanting to reunite with her again.

Favourite character
Cheng, he is self-sacrificing to do so much for others. A close second will be Fu Er who is so sweet but I doubt such a person will exist in the true world as she is too perfect.

Most hated character
Lang Yue, all in her mind is only revenge and nothing else. She risks her disciples’ lives – treating them as her tools. So is her natural son, Tian Lin, too. And to think that she doesn’t mind marrying another man for this reason! A close second is Ting who is utterly selfish.

Interesting facts

We seldom see dramas that combine ‘invisible’ skills and how to treat patients with bees. This drama is an eye opener. When it was shown in Canton, it garnered top ratings at 10.1%.

This was the first time Bik Ha acted as a master and also a mother. She was torn between her filial disciple and also the son whom she hates and also loves. Many said that it was a big breakthrough for her as her gentle outlook also induced a wild but yet strong air in her.

This was also San San’s first attempt to shoot a period drama and this was her first chance playing a vicious role. Yu Bo graduated from Beijing Acting Academy and this was his first time acting with so many Hong Kong actresses so he treasured the chance.

The fighting scenes were designed by Lee Tat Chiu who was among the first batch to include computer technology into dramas. His famous movie work was ‘Fung Wan’. China viewers loved it and it won praises. (But I myself find it the same as the Taiwan ‘Fung Wan’ to rely too much on unreal effects so they look terribly awful.)

Conclusion

I do not have high hopes for China productions as many are too modern. But since it is shown free on local television, I watch it for a while. This drama is one typical example – totally invisible? This is like the invisible man as in many western movies. The scriptwriter has definitely stretched his imagination too far.

Luckily, the artistes are in traditional clothes although they have trendy hair colour or I would be mistaken watching a science fiction drama. The special effects are very cheesy and I don’t really enjoy them. What a waste when the cast have very oriental looking faces.

Acting wise, it is kind of strange to see Lang Yue touching Tian Lin’s forehead, they look more like a pair of lovers than mother and son. And ironically, both senior and junior abandon their sons at birth. Both women do not really love the men they want. When the two younger guys address her as ‘master’, I still feel queer as she doesn’t attempt to look older.

I can hardly stomach China actors’ opera or stage like acting. It is the same for this one as the plot can also be unreasonable at times. How can Ting not know Lang Yue’s whereabouts since he has so many men to seek her out? Even though he knows that Lang Yue is staying with Ren Jie, he should pluck up his courage to demand for her arrest as she is a refugee. I also scratch my head over how Lord Ping Yao can’t recognize Lang Yue. She has given too many clues away!

The younger actors are convincing in looks and compliment the actresses well. But the older artistes dominate the large portion of screen time and ‘torture’ us with their acting. This drama is not that worthy to watch as it is easily forgettable. It is a pity as the actresses are at top form. It has neither a attractive start nor ending so I tend to frown at the messy plot. You may stay away from it as you will not miss much.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : *** (Scale of 5)

On story : **1/2 (Scale of 5)


Add your own review and become a featured critic on spcnet.tv!

Or, add your comments below:





Advertise on SPCNET.TV


Buy DVDs
Magical Needle

Shop Asian Fashion at YesStyle