Paladins in Troubled Times


Reviewed by: sukting

July 11, 2009

Rating: three

Foreword
This is an adaptation novel by Liang Yu Sheng. It is about the heroes who rise during the unstable Tang period. It is from the producer of the well acclaimed Return of the Condor Heroes and Sword Stained with Royal Blood . Curiosity comes to me upon knowing that Wei De is rumoured to come into Yi Neng Jing’s failed marriage. Moreover, I had not seen his dramas before.

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Huang Wei De as Tie Mo Le
Initially, he knows little dangers of the pugilistic world and often gets into trouble. Knowing that he is still far behind Long Ke, he practises hard. Mu Lao assists him and he improves tremedously. He helps Xiang in the military troops and becomes resourceful. Seeing the ugly side of the imperial palace, he decides to give up on them and prefers to defend his country on his own. He finds himself falling for Yan Yu and sets her free after pitying her plight. Even at the expense of getting injured by Long Ke.
He makes friends easily – regardless of males or females. He doesn’t wish to get tied down as his only wish in life is to avenge his parents’ deaths. However, his aunt hopes that he will have offsprings so he gives in. Most women end up falling for him. Seeing Yan Yu drunk pains him but he forces himself not to get close to her. But seeing her dropping to the ground, he can’t stop himself to help her up.

There is only one exception – Xuan Shuang when both really end up as good friends. Both of them are poisoned by the emperor. Although Mo Le feels weak, he refuses to put her down from his back. A royal friend indeed who refuses to desert them when they are in trouble. Kong Kong Er’s words strike him – why must he be with Zhi Fen when he is in love with Yan Yu? Kun Lun poisons Mo Le, wanting him to work for him but he refuses to submit to him. Even though Yan Yu is also poisoned, he isn’t detered.

Definitely the right man for the right job. Wei De is wild and suave with the sabre but can also do sentimental scenes excellently. His efforts in learning martial arts pays off as he does look like a swordsman. His gentleness is displayed adequately when he touches their faces or hugs them tenderly. He matches well with his female co-stars and when they stand beside him to hold his hand, they really look like a Mou Hap couple. Many will have to learn from him on how to do it

2. Shen Xiao Hai as Wang Long Ke
An ambitious and knowledgeable man who can make use of his own sister to find chances to injure Mo Le. His metal fan proves to be hard weapon for Mo Le to deal with. Despite his doings, he is concerned about Yan Yu and protects her from harm. He falls for Xuan Shuang and is determined to get her. But he gets killed while trying to save Yan Yu. When I see him, I shake my head. Please…this is the third time I see him as a villain – can’t he be a nice guy for once?

3. TAE as Kong Kong Er
He is a wanderer who doesn’t want to have links with the court or the pugilists as he is a loner. However, fate leaves him no choice when his senior turns evil. His favourite pasttime is to tease Xuan Shuang and knowing that Mo Le doesn’t love Zhi Fen, he tries to get him away – by cutting up the wedding clothes with his scissors. After knowing Mo Le and the others, he becomes a righteous person.

He himself likes Xuan Shuang and wants to marry her. However, Gui Zhang tells him that he is engaged to Hong Mei since young so he can’t break his promise even though she is missing for years. His master has never taught him the rules of life so he doesn’t see that this poses a problem. Thus he is determined to fight to get who he loves.
If Lin Chi Ying is a person who never grows old, his look-a-like Tae is also the same. He also graces the screen with his charisma although his hairstyle can be a bit messy.

4.He Zhuo Yan as Wang Yan Yu
She has no choice but to help Long Ke in his unlawful activities. She is unshy to pronounce her love towards Mo Le and this wins his heart. She later discovers that she is actually Hong Mei who is adpoted by her foster father after he kills her biological father. Kong Kong Er has her to thank when she breaks off the engagement. Although Long Ke isn’t her biological brother, she goes to his aid when he is in trouble.

When I first look at her, I think she looks like Zhou Xun. But her character irritates me. Who is so open to men during this period?

5.Liu Tian Yue as Xia Ling Shuang
She is a female who loves to disguise as a male. She acts as a war advisor as she knows a lot of battle methods. She helps Mo Le to know the dangers and often saves him when he is injured. Both love to compete with each other on wits and martial arts. She finally meets her match when Kong Kong Er is often fast ahead of her. She tries hard to persuade him to join their coup and this takes a long time.

A brilliant choice too as she is enchanting with her sparkling big eyes.

6. Lu Chen as Han Zhi Fen
She is a court official’s daughter who is quiet and is an introvert. She takes care of Mo Le when he is injured and she loves him through the process. Even though she knows that he loves Yan Yu, she arranges Kong Kong Er to rescue her from the execution ground. She is aware that he will not rest his mind until he sees her safe and sound. Thus, she helps him out although he is seriously injured to meet her for the last time. His aunt is supportive of the coming marriage between them. To save Yan Yu, she sacrifices her life.

7. Wang Jiu Sheng as Jing Jing Er
He is Kong Kong Er’s senior and is the head of the sect but his master shows favourism to his junior instead. Thus his junior is more highly skilled than him. He works in vain to persuade him to work for Long Ke to kill the emperor. He is jealous and wants to kill him one day. Kong Kong Er manages to force the poison out of his body and spits the poison onto his face. Since then, he has lots of red poke marks on his face.

8. Ba Yin as Yang Mu Lao/Huang Pu Gao/Tie Kun Lun As Gao, he is like Kong Kong Er who doesn’t like to be entangled with minor affairs. He roams the world and is disguised as a beggar. However, he takes a liking towards Mo Le and wishes to keep him as his disciple after teaching him martial arts. To his delight, Mo Le will rather treat him as his foster father.

He is Mo Le’s biological father. As Mu Lao, he controls Lu San. Unable to face his friends after Lu San saves him, he wears a mask as he works for him. Mo Le’s world is completely destroyed as he finds out that Kun Lun kills his foster father who brings him up. Kun Lun wants Mo Le to work for him as power matters most to them but Mo Le will not listen to him. Mo Le decides to become a locksmith as he can never go against his father. But seeing how merciless Kun Lun is, he comes out of retreat.

Mo Le protects him from being poisoned from Jing Jing Er to get poisoned instead. Seeing that Mo Le is dying, his fatherly instinct returns and rescues him. He loses all his inner strength and also his chance to be the emperor. He loses all desires and suddenly goes missing.

9. Tong Chun Chung as Tang Xuan Zong
A silly emperor who is indulged in drinking and woman. He doesn’t show gratitude towards Mo Le who saves him from Guo Zhong. He can’t differntiate right from wrong to even think that he is a rebel when he brings soldiers to save him. He hates him for forcing him to kill Guo Zhong and Yu Huan so he intends to poison him to death. Mo Le has no choice but to leave this ungrateful creature.

10. Wang Gang as Qin Xiang
He is a loyal subject and is Mo Le’s good friend despite of their age gap. Mo Le admries his guts for being daring to go against Lu Shan openly. Gui Zhang introduces them to each other. Seeing how Xuan Zong wants to kill Mo Le, he defends Mo Le by taking the emperor as his hostage. After that, he kills himself. This is pure stupidity as I don’t see why he should do this and not escape with Mo Le.

11. Chen Ji Ming as Duan Gui Zhang
He is Mo Le’s uncle and later master to help him to improve his sabre skills. He treats Mo Le as his son and pins high hopes on him. Even though his wife is abducted by Long Ke, he can still keep his cool to rescue her out later. He dies in Kun Lun’s hands although he already knows who he is when they spar against each other. Mo Le can’t help him to go against his father but he clears his mind after this ordeal. Gui Zhang is contented when Kong Kong Er finally calls him father before he dies.

12. He Si Rong as Dou Xian Niang (Madame Duan)
Her own son is lost in the war and she misses him. When Mo Le comes to her, she bursts into tears as he reminds her own son who is about his age. Mo Le jokes that Kong Kong Er can marry Xuan Shuang after saving her from Long Ke. Kong Kong Er quickly takes out a hairpin and proposes to her. She is delighted to know that Kong Kong Er is actually her son, Ke Xie when she sees her hairpin.

13. Tu Men as An Lu Shan
He is an evil man who wants to be the emperor. Mo Le tries very hard to expose his scheme to the emperor. He enlists Jing Jing Er and Long Ke’s help so Mo Le is often defeated by the two of them. The most risky time is Mo Le being poisoned by Long Ke but Yan Yu saves him. He then tries to send the dragon robe and imperial seal of Lu San’s scheme but he is stopped on the way. If not for Mu Lao who saves him on time, he could have been killed.

14. Liu Pei Zhong as Yang Guo Zhong
He is Gui Fei’s elder brother who controls the emperor as a puppet. Bearing a grudge against Mo Le who takes him as hostage to see the emperor, he tries to find ways to kill him. Mo Le gets locked in jail but he is smart to get out. Guo Zhong is killed instead when he wants to overthrow the emperor.
15. Gao Yuan as Yang Gui Fei
She is a beauty but is too much to want lychees to be sent to her fresh daily. Thus many have to travel on horseback to get for her. Thanks to her, Mo Le finds his way to knock out her servant to find a chance to meet the emperor. Fearing that she will seek revenge on the emperor after her brother’s death, the court officials force the emperor to kill her too. Xuan Zhong then bears a grudge against Mo Le after this.

Favourite character
Mo Le, although he can be deterred by setbacks, he is never discouraged. We never see him indulged in drinking. He is very determined to get his mission accomplished – no matter how hard it is. He may seem to be a man who doesn’t know how to love but in reality, he is a sweet lover who will show his concern not through words but through actions.

Most hated character
Xuan Zhong – what is the point of so many people dying for him when he doesn’t treasure them? I feel sorry when Xiang dise and Guo Zi Yi works for the wrong man.

Song
The title is Zhen Ai (真爱) True Love by Bo Wen (柏文). Only passable.

Interesting facts

Two-thirds of the drama was focused on Wei De. He had to film fighting scenes in the rain. He injured his back and the doctor warned him to rest for 6 months or he might be paralysed. Not wanting to delay his work, he sneaked out of hospital and earned praises from the rest. For the rest of the year, he was given ‘effortless tasks’ with no risks involved so he had no complaints over it.

Zuo Yan loved acting with him. They frequently joked with each other. He was concerned when the horse injured her face. Her parents tried hard not to mention it as her bruise was obvious. She was pressuized when taking up this important role. She also took lessons with him to become a pugilist in the drama.

Conclusion

It has been a long time since I read this novel so I can only remember bits and scraps of the story. The novel is too complicated with too many people which can turn many people giddy. I usually stay away from his novels as there are too many tragedies. There is no exception for this one but luckily the final ending is a happy one.

The main story is actually on Duan Ke Xie and Tie Mo Le. Ke Xie is indeed engaged to someone else and most parts in the book is on how he looks for her. Kong Kong Er is another character. The producer is smart to cut down the number of characters. It is definitely hard to shoot a Liang Yu Sheng drama.

It will be unfair if people just ignore Wei De’s acting because of the rumours. He proves to be a fine actor. His Mo Le is like Kiu Fung from ‘Demi Gods, Semi-devils’. Chilvarous and never asks for anything in return. The pain and hesitations that Mo Le needs to go through is so life-like. Although he is from Taiwan, he blends well with his counterparts which makes up of many newcomers and they deliver a starlit production. It is like going through a huge battle after 30 episodes.

Sukting’s ratings :

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

On story : *** (Scale of 5)

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


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