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[Mainland Chinese Drama 2018] The Rise of Phoenixes 凰权·弈天下

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2 hours ago, skibbies said:

I want to clarify the stories you mentioned are common in manga, light novels, tv shows etc, and male protagonist ones tend to outnumber female protagonist ones. 

I actually meant cdramas that I have access to. But considering all mediums, there are definitely more male protags than female ones. But what stories are we talking about? The rise to godhood/savior-of-the-world kinda thing? Yes, it is pretty common in most mediums with the biggest difference that it usually spans from several volumes even with the light novels, so the story tends to develop where you can see the heart and soul of the character. Even female-centric ones like Akatsuki no Yona (manga) or Saiunkoku Monogatari (light novel) or my personal favorite Hakushaku to Yosei (light novel). I love female protags. 

 

Novels are easier because unless the character is doing something you totally cannot agree with, you can use your imagination at the expressions on their faces. You can also easily read their thoughts. Or if not, you can interpret it the way you like, without another person forcing their own interpretation on you.

 

I think the chinese novels are just as great, I just don't have access to them, so I cannot judge. It is not the story that actually annoys me, more on how they are told in cdramas. This is why I do not associate most dramas/movies with their novel counter parts because they will always be found lacking no matter how faithful. It is like watching someone elses interpretation of the novel you read. So I just judge them as they are, and so far, this rise-to-glory stories with female leads in cdramas have been annoying me. It has nothing to do with the novels that I have not read.  

 

And if we are talking about shounen tropes then omg there are worst kinds out there. Shounen anime especially have a lot of cliches. I steer towards seinen, but they are not perfect either, there is just more there that I like. But yeah I prefer to read...

 

Now if you meant this:

Quote

 Unfortunately, in a lot of female story lines, despite the female being the main protag and becoming almost mary suish at times, she still ends up being a damsel in distress along her journeys. And most strong female characters I have met are usually secondary characters in male-centric shows. So yes I am completely biased to my own experience.

Yes it is the same in all mediums. It just so happens that I have more to choose from in anime and novels than in cdramas as they are more accessible to me. If the tree bears more fruit then there are more fresh pickings even when some are rotten.

 

 

2 hours ago, skibbies said:

Anyways only fairly limited amount cdramas gets translated, and the ones that do are the cute light fluffy ones, which yeah feature female leads and romance focused. It has the largest interest and audience amongst drama watcher, though general audience are probably ambivalent to most of them (I am anyways.)  

You know, this makes perfect sense. I guess I am not gonna see more cdramas like tRoP in the future. But here is to hoping...

 

2 hours ago, skibbies said:

When I say they fare better, I mean the adaptations are more likely to be popular or well received. The former because women are bigger contributer to rating, and more importantly bigger part of fandom (which can get more people into the show and seem more enthused in reccing in general). I think they might be easier to adapt because they are usually romance focused, there are usually less people picking on your historical inaccuracy, occupational errors, and plot holes unless they are huge. The male protag WNs that gets adapted tend to be pretty long, or fantasy based action show, which means they run into pacing problems, action and CG being criticised on top of your usual problems. Although yeah there's more female protag adaptations, and the scriptwriters aren't very good at writing female characters a lot of the times.

Makes sense. It's just unfortunate that the things I enjoy does not have a wider audience. I actually like the glorious royal settings in most chinese stories, something that Japanese historicals lack. I liked the feel of cdrama fantasy too, I don't even care about the CG. It's the characterization that really looses me most of the time. But for some reason tRoP really has all of that. It is amazing.

 

2 hours ago, skibbies said:

Tangent, I watched a drama recently that I really liked, it started out as a episodic suspense thriller surface that has human drama at its core, then second half was scifi + conspiracy theory + super powers. The drama itself label them as two season even though there's no break between the season, the focus and pacing was drastically different that it made sense. Anyways, the director revealed that he had to forcibly insert romance and have a main plot (the focus of second season) to get funding. The audience that ended up loving the drama preferred the first season and most didn't care for the romance, l m a o. Investors, don't just replicate what you THINK is successful pls.

This is true to even Hollywood. I am so frustrated at it but such is the reality of life. Funding is everything and creativity is restricted because studios care more for profitability. Which makes sense as the reason people make movies is for money. There is nothing we can do about it. I am also a huge super hero fan, and I loved Man of Steel and BvS. But it was dark and people didn't like the interpretation of the director or the complicated story that he wove, so we got a light comedy of a Justice League which was a super failure of a movie. They wanted to follow Marvel shows which made a lot of money. But although it had higher critical acclaim, JL ended up with lower box office numbers than the first 2 prequels. And this is the Justice League we are talking about. It's the fall of a childhood dream. lol I give up on the movie industry. 

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PA, sad but true that many otherwise great stories are watered down or trashed in the effort of the sequel,  prequel,  second season mentality. JMO mediocrity  is a sin...win or lose, but go for it. That is what I  love about RotP. They took the risk. 

 

It was mentioned that the back story for BP and Dacheng  were never developed, so the viewer has a hard time investing. But isn't  that the whole point? In the drama we are shown that many of the young citizens don't  know or even remember the previous empire. Part of the tragedy is that the elders insist on having the next generation  sacrifice their love and lives to satisfy their needs...for what? Such a tragic loss.

 

As for me, I  love the flawed alpha male. Hehe I  just do. I enjoy strong female characters  if they are done well, but many times they drift into MS. So RotP is in my wheelhouse since both leads are intriguing and worthy of discussion.

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, whisper1 said:

It was mentioned that the back story for BP and Dacheng  were never developed, so the viewer has a hard time investing. But isn't  that the whole point? In the drama we are shown that many of the young citizens don't  know or even remember the previous empire. Part of the tragedy is that the elders insist on having the next generation  sacrifice their love and lives to satisfy their needs...for what? Such a tragic loss

Hmmm... I still would have preferred to actually feel something for them... I think the same point would still come out through Zhiwei's suffering... and Nanyi too if they developed him more.

 

3 hours ago, whisper1 said:

As for me, I  love the flawed alpha male. Hehe I  just do. I enjoy strong female characters  if they are done well, but many times they drift into MS. So RotP is in my wheelhouse since both leads are intriguing and worthy of discussion.

Same here. I love flawed, morally gray, smart and manipulative, alpha males. I especially love it when they are complex characters that exhibit contradictory personalities... like kind and cruel at the same time, or selfish and altruistic, and mean yet magnanimous... I find these complexity entertaining... As for females, I like smart and understanding ones, someone who is trustworthy and dependable. Strong in terms of "battle" is a bonus but most importantly is that she is strong at heart, much stronger than the male lead in terms of emotional stability. And courageous. I found all these traits in Zhiwei until the end part... Most importantly, both has to have their own ambitions apart from the romance...

 

The part that Zhiwei really shone to me was when Ning Yi got sick and she wanted to go to him but Hua Qiong stopped her. She actually listened to her advice and wrote Ning Yi a letter instead, encouraging him to be strong. That is my vision of a perfect female lead.

 

It is something like this:

Spoiler

MZpwTix.jpg

 

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On 11/16/2018 at 10:43 PM, raziela said:

- Chen Kun = Miscast.  It is not good when I am watching the drama and thinking that that some of the other actors in the drama would have done a much better job with the lead character.  I found his portrayal of Ning Yi was wildly inconsistent, unbelievable and unsympathetic.  It almost felt like he filmed  at two different times and changed his mind on how to play the character. He is obviously a very talented actor and some of his scenes were great but at other times I thought he overacted to a ridiculous extent.  It took me completely out of the drama and had me looking at the screen thinking "what is he doing and why?" About halfway through the drama I realised that I didn't even like Ning Yi much. 

Ah, I finally get where you guys are coming from. So you felt he wasn't right for the role? And I guess some of you did feel he hammed it up or just didn't connect with his character overall. (Sorry, didn't feel like going back several pages out of laziness.) Would love to know @raziela what scenes you felt he did great in, and which ones you felt were not-so-great. Oh and which scenes took you out of the drama? I'm always curious to hear differing opinions. I promise you won't be lampooned for it, at least not by me! 

 

23 hours ago, Pollen Ainne said:

There is only a handful of us who seem to really love the show. Which is the reason why I have accepted the film to be a niche. I really just love the series so I have really strong opinions about it, but my opinions I find are in the minority. 

 

Actually, I feel it’s faring much better on Netflix and with its international audience than it did getting shortchanged on TV in China. So many people worldwide going through Yi-Wei withdrawal right now and begging Netflix for Season 2. My French and Japanese friends are currently obsessed with TRoP, and Chen Kun has been posting in English a lot recently, so I think he's aware that he has a growing fan-base outside of China right now. Also, it put Ni Ni on the map for a lot of people, as they had never seen her before. She already has an audience for her next drama. I know I'll be watching. (Though my heart isn't ready to see her romancing someone else.)

 

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1 hour ago, sonosong said:

Ah, I finally get where you guys are coming from. So you felt he wasn't right for the role? And I guess some of you did feel he hammed it up or just didn't connect with his character overall. (Sorry, didn't feel like going back several pages out of laziness.) Would love to know @raziela what scenes you felt he did great in, and which ones you felt were not-so-great. Oh and which scenes took you out of the drama? I'm always curious to hear differing opinions. I promise you won't be lampooned for it, at least not by me! 

I would like to know too. And I hope I didn't come in too strong on my last response. I do respect that not everyone has the same opinion, but I also know that I can sound a bit too strong when voicing my own opinions. Please know that I am not looking down on anyone's thoughts, just strongly expressing my own. lol

 

1 hour ago, sonosong said:

Actually, I feel it’s faring much better on Netflix and with its international audience than it did getting shortchanged on TV in China. So many people worldwide going through Yi-Wei withdrawal right now and begging Netflix for Season 2. My French and Japanese friends are currently obsessed with TRoP, and Chen Kun has been posting in English a lot recently, so I think he's aware that he has a growing fan-base outside of China right now. Also, it put Ni Ni on the map for a lot of people, as they had never seen her before. She already has an audience for her next drama. I know I'll be watching. (Though my heart isn't ready to see her romancing someone else.)

That sounds great. I mean... the series itself seem to be getting good feedback, however a lot of cdrama watchers seem to not like it at all... 

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On 11/14/2018 at 5:40 PM, sonosong said:

The guy really doesn't understand his father or his brothers. He has no real, tangible relationship with them.  

I thought Ning Qi was an intriguing villain too.  There was something so pathetic and desperate about him.  

 

On 11/18/2018 at 11:56 AM, skibbies said:

As for Ni ni, I think her debut movie The Flowers of War is the recommended work, the rest is very much ymmv, I still haven't watched them.

Thank you for the Ni Ni film recommendation :)

 

On 11/19/2018 at 12:28 AM, morganian said:

That is an interesting suggestion. I wonder how Chen Kun would have acted out one of the other roles in the show, ie one of the antagonists? He seems versatile enough. Would he have made Ning Qi more intriguing as a character?

Or the 4th Prince of Dacheng? Sometimes a show is only as good as its antagonist and, judging by the previous comments of this forum, these final antagonists weren't up to scratch. 

It's so interesting you say that because that is exactly what I was thinking whilst watching!  He could chew the scenery to his heart's content as the bad guy and it would be less distracting as he wouldn't have as much screen time nor would I be expected to sympathise with him.  The actor they chose for Ning Chuan (Crown Prince)  was great but I could see Chen Kun in the role too.

 

11 hours ago, sonosong said:

Ah, I finally get where you guys are coming from. So you felt he wasn't right for the role? And I guess some of you did feel he hammed it up or just didn't connect with his character overall. (Sorry, didn't feel like going back several pages out of laziness.) Would love to know @raziela what scenes you felt he did great in, and which ones you felt were not-so-great. Oh and which scenes took you out of the drama? I'm always curious to hear differing opinions. I promise you won't be lampooned for it, at least not by me! 

I definitely preferred his scenes earlier in the drama where his acting seemed a more nuanced and natural. I enjoyed his rapport with Feng Zhi Wei, Zhu Yin, Xin Ziyan or the scenes were he switched  in one moment from non-threatening tailor prince to clever, calculating Ning Wei.  His scenes with Ning Cheng (one of my favourite characters!) and his guards were always enjoyable too. As I mentioned in my previous post I wonder if he changed his mind on how he decided to play the character?

 

One of the cringeworthy scenes for me was after his father makes him remove his his outer robes in front of the officials when Zhi Wei gave him the potion from Prince of Yan.  There is a scene later on where he is crying about it and also implicitly threatening his brother.  Of course I know Ning Yi was purposely overacting during the scene but Chen Kun overacted so much and played it so childishly like Ning Yi was 5 year old or mentally challenged. That might have made sense at the beginning of the drama but made no sense at this point of the drama where everyone knows he is smart and potential threat.  It was like when children purposely throw a tantrum for attention and it's obviously fake because they keep sneaking glances to see if you are paying attention and there are no actual tears even though they are wailing far all their worth.  It was just a weird way to play the scene at this juncture in the story.

 

Also given all the focus of the story on his feelings towards his mother I didn't think his grief or anger after death was at all convincing (but that whole storyline was botched and rushed, IMO). He was acting out  the grief but i didn't believe his emotions at all.  On the other hand, the actor playing Ning Qi nailed his acting after his mother's death: I could feel his grief, resentment, fury especially in the family dinner from hell in episode 68. 

 

Another scene was in episode 32 where Chen Shao lies about knowing Lord Minhai and then Chen Kun reacts by spending ages contorting his face and gasping.  He did this contorting his face, jutting his chin and gasping far too much in the drama.  I know it was supposed to convey emotion and inner turmoil but most of the time it just looked ridiculous like he was constipated or a fish out of water.  Another example being episode 64 where he pleads to be reunited with his mother in a showdown with his father which should have been emotional and climactic moment but with all his shouting and that weird gravelly Batman voice he would randomly use (and more of the gasping and odd facial contortions) I just wanted the scene to hurry up and end.

 

The director really should have reigned him in a bit more. I felt like Chen kun would frequently make his scenes a lot more overwrought than needed. He was always acting with a capital 'A' even in scenes where it wasn't necessary.  Then for the really emotional scenes he would dial the performance up even further to 11.  It was just too much and diminished any real emotional impact. 

 

10 hours ago, Pollen Ainne said:

I would like to know too. And I hope I didn't come in too strong on my last response. I do respect that not everyone has the same opinion, but I also know that I can sound a bit too strong when voicing my own opinions. Please know that I am not looking down on anyone's thoughts, just strongly expressing my own. lol

 

Not at all!  Your response was very civil.  It's nice we can have civilised discussions on this thread even if opinions differ. :)

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11 hours ago, raziela said:

I definitely preferred his scenes earlier in the drama where his acting seemed a more nuanced and natural. I enjoyed his rapport with Feng Zhi Wei, Zhu Yin, Xin Ziyan or the scenes were he switched  in one moment from non-threatening tailor prince to clever, calculating Ning Wei.  His scenes with Ning Cheng (one of my favourite characters!) and his guards were always enjoyable too. As I mentioned in my previous post I wonder if he changed his mind on how he decided to play the character?

 

One of the cringeworthy scenes for me was after his father makes him remove his his outer robes in front of the officials when Zhi Wei gave him the potion from Prince of Yan.  There is a scene later on where he is crying about it and also implicitly threatening his brother.  Of course I know Ning Yi was purposely overacting during the scene but Chen Kun overacted so much and played it so childishly like Ning Yi was 5 year old or mentally challenged. That might have made sense at the beginning of the drama but made no sense at this point of the drama where everyone knows he is smart and potential threat.  It was like when children purposely throw a tantrum for attention and it's obviously fake because they keep sneaking glances to see if you are paying attention and there are no actual tears even though they are wailing far all their worth.  It was just a weird way to play the scene at this juncture in the story.

 

Also given all the focus of the story on his feelings towards his mother I didn't think his grief or anger after death was at all convincing (but that whole storyline was botched and rushed, IMO). He was acting out  the grief but i didn't believe his emotions at all.  On the other hand, the actor playing Ning Qi nailed his acting after his mother's death: I could feel his grief, resentment, fury especially in the family dinner from hell in episode 68. 

 

Another scene was in episode 32 where Chen Shao lies about knowing Lord Minhai and then Chen Kun reacts by spending ages contorting his face and gasping.  He did this contorting his face, jutting his chin and gasping far too much in the drama.  I know it was supposed to convey emotion and inner turmoil but most of the time it just looked ridiculous like he was constipated or a fish out of water.  Another example being episode 64 where he pleads to be reunited with his mother in a showdown with his father which should have been emotional and climactic moment but with all his shouting and that weird gravelly Batman voice he would randomly use (and more of the gasping and odd facial contortions) I just wanted the scene to hurry up and end.

 

The director really should have reigned him in a bit more. I felt like Chen kun would frequently make his scenes a lot more overwrought than needed. He was always acting with a capital 'A' even in scenes where it wasn't necessary.  Then for the really emotional scenes he would dial the performance up even further to 11.  It was just too much and diminished any real emotional impact. 

Wow! It is definitely enlightening to hear your views. I had to go re-watch some of the episodes after you mentioned them because I felt I saw a totally different actor... Maybe I am biased because I am partial to the character he created. I was captured by it since episode one and I had gotten really attached to the character of Ning Yi at that point that I actually bought it all.

 

I find that his character was consistent throughout and the only time he really changed was when he lost Zhiwei. But then he would go back to the old Ning Yi when dealing with Jin Siyu.

 

I loved the scene where he was complaining about being humiliated. Had he just accepted it, everything would have ended as a simple mistake. He was basically seeing how much he could push the issue whilst at the same time mocking Ning Sheng at his failure. He was giving his father an opportunity to punish Ning Sheng. It was super entertaining to watch. It was such a performance, not of Chen Kun but of Ning Yi. But I get how people might not like it.

 

As for his mother's death, that was at the part where everything was rushed with one misunderstanding after another and I got completely disconnected to all the characters as a whole. At this point I hated everyone except for Ning Cheng, who keeps on being the person who had to be reason for the misunderstandings when it is totally no fault of his. I pity him. I hated the rest, including Nanyi and Ning Yi and Zhiwei... but as they say, hate is not the opposite of love... and I could not be indifferent.

 

Episode 32 is one of my favorites because of how it played as a courtroom drama. The Lord of Minhai did come prepared and he was awesome. I loved how he destroyed Ning Yi's evidence bit by bit. I love seeing my heroes succeed, but a worthy adversary is just as exciting.

 

Anyway, I do not see any contorting or gasping or chin jutting. I just re-watched it too to see if I missed it. But all I can see is Ning Yi's brain working overtime to understand the situation. With his expressions alone, I can see the thoughts running through his mind without help of any flashbacks. In fact the flashbacks at that point was completely unnecessary, but oh well. He ran through everything that happened and could not believe that Chen Shao was not truthful with him. He believed that Chen Shao really wanted justice. So there must be something else. But dang, Ning Yi was totally defeated. But it was an awesome defeat. This drama is just great. lol

 

And oh, I love the changes in Ning Yi's voice. :D

 

The fact that I love watching anime might be the reason I loved Ning Yi's character instead, including all his dramatic effects. His character really is something that can exist in an anime. In fact, I would like to see an animation of tRoP. :D

 

In any case, I don't think the director would have reigned in Chen Kun, because they were the ones who really wanted him in the show. And in one of Chen Kun's interviews he did say that before he would have to setup the character but that now he was more thick skinned... since they chose him, then they don't have another option. lol. I love how honest he is at his own arrogance. He is something else!

 

 

 

 

 

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26 minutes ago, Pollen Ainne said:

Wow! It is definitely enlightening to hear your views. I had to go re-watch some of the episodes after you mentioned them because I felt I saw a totally different actor... Maybe I am biased because I am partial to the character he created. I was captured by it since episode one and I had gotten really attached to the character of Ning Yi at that point that I actually bought it all.

 

I find that his character was consistent throughout and the only time he really changed was when he lost Zhiwei. But then he would go back to the old Ning Yi when dealing with Jin Siyu.

 

I loved the scene where he was complaining about being humiliated. Had he just accepted it, everything would have ended as a simple mistake. He was basically seeing how much he could push the issue whilst at the same time mocking Ning Sheng at his failure. He was giving his father an opportunity to punish Ning Sheng. It was super entertaining to watch. It was such a performance, not of Chen Kun but of Ning Yi. But I get how people might not like it.

 

As for his mother's death, that was at the part where everything was rushed with one misunderstanding after another and I got completely disconnected to all the characters as a whole. At this point I hated everyone except for Ning Sheng, who keeps on being the person who had to be reason for the misunderstandings when it is totally no fault of his. I pity him. I hated the rest, including Nanyi and Ning Yi and Zhiwei... but as they say, hate is not the opposite of love... and I could not be indifferent.

 

Episode 32 is one of my favorites because of how it played as a courtroom drama. The Lord of Minhai did come prepared and he was awesome. I loved how he destroyed Ning Yi's evidence bit by bit. I love seeing my heroes succeed, but a worthy adversary is just as exciting.

 

Anyway, I do not see any contorting or gasping or chin jutting. I just re-watched it too to see if I missed it. But all I can see is Ning Yi's brain working overtime to understand the situation. With his expressions alone, I can see the thoughts running through his mind without help of any flashbacks. In fact the flashbacks at that point was completely unnecessary, but oh well. He ran through everything that happened and could not believe that Chen Shao was not truthful with him. He believed that Chen Shao really wanted justice. So there must be something else. But dang, Ning Yi was totally defeated. But it was an awesome defeat. This drama is just great. lol

 

And oh, I love the changes in Ning Yi's voice. :D

 

 

 

On this we perfectly agree although I also undestand all of the criticisms raziela pointed out.

 

I understand them because we usually don't see that kind of acting in a drama. I mean, the male lead is often handsome, tall, muscular but on the other hand he acts poorly or doesn't give any depth or intensity to his character (except very few actors). I found Chen Kun's acting more theatrical in that regard. It is all focused on the gestures, on the miming. With a single look, you know for sure how he feels, he's able to change expression in the blink of an eye. That is the reason why he seems too extreme at times. Most of the scene could have been staged in a theatre.  In my opinion, that is a plus to watch a show when you don't need nothing more than the acting to be completely absorbed by a story.

 

Let's also say I don't find Chen Kun particularly attractive as a man but at the end of the show I was  in love with Ning Yi. Well, to me this is a win win situation for the production.

 

That said, everyone is different and so we can have divergent opionions... in order to discuss them on soompi! ^____'

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Thanks, @raziela for the in-depth response! The most hilarious thing I found is that all the things you disliked were things I absolutely loved. So it really just boils down to our personal preferences. No harm done. :)

 

10 hours ago, raziela said:

Also given all the focus of the story on his feelings towards his mother I didn't think his grief or anger after death was at all convincing (but that whole storyline was botched and rushed, IMO). He was acting out  the grief but i didn't believe his emotions at all.  On the other hand, the actor playing Ning Qi nailed his acting after his mother's death: I could feel his grief, resentment, fury especially in the family dinner from hell in episode 68. 

Ah, as someone who has experienced loss myself, I just thought of it as people dealing with grief differently in front of other people. But I do agree with you that Ning Qi's grief felt real. I honestly felt so bad for Ning Qi losing his mother as she is also the sweetest character (next to his wife) in the show. We've also seen more scenes of them together, so there was a bond built there. But then I blame him for resorting to underhanded methods such as kidnapping Ning Yi's mother. My ever emotional sister burst in tears next to me when Ning Yi's mother was taken away. She was like, "Oh my god, not his mother!"

 

4 hours ago, mspilgrims said:

I found Chen Kun's acting more theatrical in that regard. It is all focused on the gestures, on the miming. With a single look, you know for sure how he feels, he's able to change expression in the blink of an eye. That is the reason why he seems too extreme at times. Most of the scene could have been staged in a theatre. 

Just wanted to point out that it's not easy to capture these slight nuances in facial expression on a theater stage. That's why they usually bring stage plays to the silver screen. Unlike in film, those emotions like the ones Chen Kun are essaying in his character, cannot be slowed down frame by frame for the audience to see. I don't feel like this is theater acting at all, but I do get where people find him "theatrical."  I've probably mentioned this a dozen times before, but my takeaway from this is that it was completely in line with his character. Others will beg to differ on this, I suppose. Had he not experienced the death of Ning Qiao, get locked away for eight years, grow up without real, parental affection, and had people try to kill him left and right the moment he got out, I doubt I could buy into his grandiose ideals and his quest for justice.

 

For me he's not a true hero or antihero. He straddles the divide. He's also a little crazy. I find this character so fascinating. But I can see where it would turn some off.

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6 hours ago, mspilgrims said:

I found Chen Kun's acting more theatrical in that regard. It is all focused on the gestures, on the miming. With a single look, you know for sure how he feels, he's able to change expression in the blink of an eye. That is the reason why he seems too extreme at times. Most of the scene could have been staged in a theatre.  In my opinion, that is a plus to watch a show when you don't need nothing more than the acting to be completely absorbed by a story.

 

2 hours ago, sonosong said:

Just wanted to point out that it's not easy to capture these slight nuances in facial expression on a theater stage. That's why they usually bring stage plays to the silver screen. Unlike in film, those emotions like the ones Chen Kun are essaying in his character, cannot be slowed down frame by frame for the audience to see. I don't feel like this is theater acting at all, but I do get where people find him "theatrical."

 

I just have to highlight this. I do theatre (not professionally) and it's nothing of the sort. Expressions are great and all but as sonosong pointed out, even with the heavy make up, it is hard to convey anything with expressions alone in theatre. Ning Yi doesn't really gesture that much. Extreme gestures is what makes a play. We have to make wide gestures with our hands and move our body along to emphasize most feelings. You convey your feelings more with your body than your face. Movements are completely exaggerated.

 

However, I would say that Chen Kun's acting would also not fit the norms. It was good for tRoP because although it didn't have magic, it still had a fantasy setting. It would look completely out of place in a modern practical setting. Like for example... if he brought acting like that in a tv series like Suits (which I love btw)... I would roll my eyes too.

 

But what he did in the show was create a completely fictional character. One that cannot possibly exist in reality. So I just enjoyed it.

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11 minutes ago, Pollen Ainne said:

However, I would say that Chen Kun's acting would also not fit the norms. It was good for tRoP because although it didn't have magic, it still had a fantasy setting. It would look completely out of place in a modern practical setting. Like for example... if he brought acting like that in a tv series like Suits... I would roll my eyes too.

Somebody on Reddit pointed out that there are magic elements but characters mostly hide it? Like wasn't Gu Nanyi practically flying at certain points? And that spell that binded the Emperor with Ning Yi was real too. At first, I thought Yale simply poisoned them.

 

I'm currently watching him in TVB series, C'est La Vie, Mon Chéri (2008), and his performance is a lot more restrained there and fits the modern setting. I can’t judge by his voice because it’s dubbed over. But, yeah, I think this is strictly how he performed for this series in particular.

 

Also, I'm sorry, but not enough is being said about Ni Ni’s acting from me. Girl needs some love, especially since she did a spectacular job bringing Zhiwei to life for me. I heard some people call her a Mary Sue type, but I don’t get where they're coming from at all? She's such a strong female character. Every time Ning Yi wants to help her, she’s like, “Excuse me, but I got this.” Like the time he told her to stay put at his residence, but she writes him a letter and takes off.

 

Two scenes that I found to be incredibly high performances from her is the scene where she’s turned away by her mother at the beginning and gets drunk, and the heartbreaking prison scene where she cries herself to sleep on her mother’s lap. She was so adorable in the romantic scenes as well. I still get super giddy thinking about that wounded-shy look she gives Ning Yi in the cave at Ep 45 when she's exhausted all (innocent) effort to keep him warm and he still wasn't satisfied. *melts*

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1 hour ago, sonosong said:

Somebody on Reddit pointed out that there are magic elements but characters mostly hide it? Like wasn't Gu Nanyi practically flying at certain points? And that spell that binded the Emperor with Ning Yi was real too. At first, I thought Yale simply poisoned them.

Oh yes, there definitely are some supernatural aspects like the curse. But I think that was about it. The martial arts gliding I would not really count as magic, but yeah it brands the story as fantastical. The setting and tones in itself brands the movie as a fantasy. Even though I have no knowledge of historical China, I can clearly tell it was not going to be some practical adaptation of a real dynasty. It was too glittery, although in a really high quality kind of way. The story also started off with a discussion about a town saved by an imprisoned prince who weave clothes. That already set the tone of fantastical elements to me. Hence, I also adjusted my expectations.

 

1 hour ago, sonosong said:

Also, I'm sorry, but not enough is being said about Ni Ni’s acting from me. Girl needs some love, especially since she did a spectacular job bringing Zhiwei to life for me. I heard some people call her a Mary Sue type, but I don’t get where they're coming from at all? She's such a strong female character. Every time Ning Yi wants to help her, she’s like, “Excuse me, but I got this.” Like the time he told her to stay put at his residence, but she writes him a letter and takes off.

 

Two scenes that I found to be incredibly high performances from her is the scene where she’s turned away by her mother at the beginning and gets drunk, and the heartbreaking prison scene where she cries herself to sleep on her mother’s lap. She was so adorable in the romantic scenes as well. I still get super giddy thinking about that wounded-shy look she gives Ning Yi in the cave at Ep 45 when she's exhausted all (innocent) effort to keep him warm and he still wasn't satisfied. *melts*

There is no way Zhiwei in the tv series is a Mary Sue. I think the Mary Sue comments come from us talking about novels. Although her strength in character does not eliminate her from being a Mary Sue of course. But she definitely isn't one.

 

I do not see any flaws to Ni Ni's portrayal of Zhiwei actually. She had a really controlled execution and yet manages to shine even at the face of Ning Yi's dramatic performances. Although some might think otherwise, I didn't really see a moment that Chen Kun's acting overpowered Ni Ni's. In fact, they complemented each other really well.

 

Her acting isn't much of a controversy as I think everyone agrees that she was brilliant, hence there isn't much talk about it. :D

 

Oh btw, as for Ning Yi being dramatic, I remember when he first became head of the Censorate and he was checking out the records. I remember the dramatic way he flung the scrolls into the floor. And then did it again afterwards just for good measure... the guy is really something. But instead of being annoyed by his antics, I really enjoy it instead. And different from theatre, he was not trying to convey rage when he flung the rest of the scrolls, he was just being true to the character of Ning Yi, who is a drama queen. :D

 

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I can't  get off this train,lol.

NY

 Presents initially as a drunken unable to pay his respects, returning  before the court to play some very calculated moves. First he presents as humble, respectful, non threatening, asking for no reward other than release of a prisoner,  tearful and repentant. Who can accuse him of plotting, he is established as a useless prince, but his father sees through this ploy but is unable to find fault. Emperor  rather then heap sympathy he says something like NY IS HARD AS NAILS. 

The incidents of overacting, hyper outrage, tearful humiliations IMO are to satisfy  the emperors expection of a "passion play"

One of my favorites is NY reaction to finding FW is the love obsession of his sister. In a serious moment his "hammy" the man Sao ning is in love with is a women made me giggle during a serious situation. 

As size from the bother pacing and cutting of the final episodes I really can't  find fault.

 

GuNanyi shows growth and charm from monosylabic robotic gun to a man capable of caring, concerned, even tearful man. Would have loved to have had him hook up with the little princess. 

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I like both Chen Kun's and Ni Ni's acting. They are very good at bring the characters to life and performing the nuances of social dynamics back then. As a person who used to live in China as a foreigner and learning about the history and cultural of symbols of ancient China, I think they did a real good job depicting the elaborate and rich culture of ancient Chinese Empire, many of the props are very similar to some of the pieces of furniture that my family got to appreciate Ancient Chinese arts, some being carved and painted with traditions lasting from the times of the dynasties (wait, it's not  stuff from an Emperor's palace, the art form is from that era). Although Tiansheng is a fictional dynasty, I believe it is during the times of the Tang Dynasty, since they reference Zhuge Liang from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms a lot, even as to say that Ning Yi's mentor as a reincarnation of Zhuge Liang. According to my studies, this dynasty is the only one that allowed females to hold high status in terms of holding occupations that are traditionally given to men. Of course, it's not like present America, but it was more progressive in comparison to other societies that were going on during that time. I like that the writers and actors made sure to be really rigid regarding the 'honorifics' and their levels of power, because it is what powers the dynamics and dilemmas that the characters are facing. Without the awe and reverence that the characters have for the emperor they wouldn't be so 'trapped' in their fates and destinies. I love the show and got really obsessed with AFTER the show. And I wished there was a better ending because in my modern eyes, I didn't like the ending for Ning Yi and Fang Zhi Wei, because Ning Yi sacrificed so much for her (remember the part  his eyes were tearing up when he was pleading for her life in front of his father, and then he gave her two ways to get out of the mess with the first way was to have her claim that she was pregnant with his child) and even risked his own life many times to save her life, only to see or find out that she dies in the end (it looks like the gift he gave her - that is an extension of her life was eventually no appreciated because she chose to end it). 

 

I find it interesting that Ning Yi's name literally means 'Tranquil Chess' - chess here meaning the Chinese Chess 'Go', while Fang Zhi Wei's name literally means 'Phoenix Knowledge Diminutive' and 'Diminutive Knowledge' (Best translation I could get from my understanding of Chinese Characters). The original novel title 'Huang Quan' means 'Phoenix Power (Right to Authority)'. At first, I thought the phoenix refers to Ning Yi, but it actually refers to FZW because her name, Feng is a part of Fenghuang - phoenix. In Chinese culture, the phoenix represents justice, prosperity, knowledge and other noble virtues. It also represents the power of an Empress. As the phoenix in Chinese culture is a bird that never dies, it represents immortality, meaning that her death is only the beginning of her legacy and memory that never dies - that is her influence on Ning Yi would be always be in his rule over Tiansheng and passed on over the generations. 

 

Ning Yi is manipulative and calculating, but almost everyone else is manipulative and it seems to be the only driver of influence in this society and other ancient societies ('truths are not meant to be investigated'), but the moral code that Ning Yi follows and the show heralded does not just involve loyalty  - which is what almost everyone had (someone is always loyal to something, Gu Nan Yi to Master Zong, Ning Ji to Ning Yi, Shaoning to Ning Chuan, etc.) - but also to justice. The reason that Ning Yi deserves to be emperor is because he pursues justice for his mother and the brother who he believes to be just, eliminated or penalize the brothers who killed innocent people just for power, and fought for the life of the woman he loves. He did not care much for a slave trading and wanted to punish them for going against Tiansheng and killing his mother, and even possibly for slave trading. Ning Qi was greedy enough to kill his own half-sister for the throne, Ning Chuan was heartless enough to kill his half brother - Ning Qiao, and Ning Yan and Ning Sheng helped Ning Chuan with the unjust killing of Ning Qiao, Ning Ji does not want to be emperor and was not qualified, so Ning Yi is the only one who deserves the throne, despite the fact he was the sixth prince and probably fifth in line.  None of the Da Cheng princes deserve to have their empire back because both were horribly selfish, especially the fourth prince.  As FZW is the only one who held on to this moral code, she was the only one by fate was given titles and eventually the empress of Jinshi. Starting at the point where she was asked to marry Shaoning, she started to lose it, and that's because she did not stick to the moral code of justice (''poisoned Ning Yi). This is when she started getting into trouble and getting captured and not being able to get out of trouble. 

 

The only thing that I did not get  is the part where FZW was given this potion where she lost her memory. She agreed to it because Ning Yi wanted her to in order to escape the captivity of Prince of An, but did Ning Yi know she was going to be married to the Prince of An and therefore distracted him and allowed Ning Yi to cause the explosion to the extent of  destroying the palace?  

 

 

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14 hours ago, nerdybug said:

The only thing that I did not get  is the part where FZW was given this potion where she lost her memory. She agreed to it because Ning Yi wanted her to in order to escape the captivity of Prince of An, but did Ning Yi know she was going to be married to the Prince of An and therefore distracted him and allowed Ning Yi to cause the explosion to the extent of  destroying the palace?  

Did either she and Ning Yi really know about the side effects of the potion? I thought Prince of An forced her to drink it, but Ning Yi wasn't aware that it was given to her, and she didn't know what it was that she took. Didn't Ning Yi ask her if she ate anything different or something along those lines? I always assumed he didn't know or else he wouldn't have accepted that cure-all from her for himself. I also thought he only knew about the marriage plans after he was told, but it wasn't part of his original plan. I'd like to know if anyone caught onto this. 

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18 hours ago, nerdybug said:

I love the show and got really obsessed with AFTER the show.

Yes! More victims. lol

 

18 hours ago, nerdybug said:

And I wished there was a better ending because in my modern eyes, I didn't like the ending for Ning Yi and Fang Zhi Wei, because Ning Yi sacrificed so much for her (remember the part  his eyes were tearing up when he was pleading for her life in front of his father, and then he gave her two ways to get out of the mess with the first way was to have her claim that she was pregnant with his child) and even risked his own life many times to save her life, only to see or find out that she dies in the end (it looks like the gift he gave her - that is an extension of her life was eventually no appreciated because she chose to end it). 

I really get what you are saying. And I totally felt the same until I realized that the second vow she made was about her own soul and not her mother's. And I know it is mean of me to not care about her initial vow, but the second one is devastating. If she went with Ning Yi now, then it will be the only lifetime they will be together. And Ning Yi did tell her he wanted to spend all his lifetimes with her. And it does not matter whether reincarnation is true or not, because they believe in it. In which case, it bothers me that Ning Yi just conveniently forgot about it, or intentionally ignored it. IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE! He should have offered her something else... being his Empress was out of the question!!! SMH!

 

Although, I think, she should have just disappeared instead. Or faked her death or something. A survivor like Zhiwei committing suicide leaves a bad taste on my mouth.

 

18 hours ago, nerdybug said:

I find it interesting that Ning Yi's name literally means 'Tranquil Chess' - chess here meaning the Chinese Chess 'Go', while Fang Zhi Wei's name literally means 'Phoenix Knowledge Diminutive' and 'Diminutive Knowledge' (Best translation I could get from my understanding of Chinese Characters). The original novel title 'Huang Quan' means 'Phoenix Power (Right to Authority)'. At first, I thought the phoenix refers to Ning Yi, but it actually refers to FZW because her name, Feng is a part of Fenghuang - phoenix. In Chinese culture, the phoenix represents justice, prosperity, knowledge and other noble virtues. It also represents the power of an Empress. As the phoenix in Chinese culture is a bird that never dies, it represents immortality, meaning that her death is only the beginning of her legacy and memory that never dies - that is her influence on Ning Yi would be always be in his rule over Tiansheng and passed on over the generations. 

Unfortunately, the novel and the series went completely different directions, and although the title of the novel was perfect for it, the series had really nothing to do with Zhiwei being a phoenix anymore... to be honest, they should have changed the title. Or better yet, not associate themselves with the novel at all, and maybe just place some credits that the story is loosely based on it. It might have gotten a better reception from the novel readers. But your idea sounds great.

 

18 hours ago, nerdybug said:

The only thing that I did not get  is the part where FZW was given this potion where she lost her memory. She agreed to it because Ning Yi wanted her to in order to escape the captivity of Prince of An, but did Ning Yi know she was going to be married to the Prince of An and therefore distracted him and allowed Ning Yi to cause the explosion to the extent of  destroying the palace?  

3 hours ago, sonosong said:

Did either she and Ning Yi really know about the side effects of the potion? I thought Prince of An forced her to drink it, but Ning Yi wasn't aware that it was given to her, and she didn't know what it was that she took. Didn't Ning Yi ask her if she ate anything different or something along those lines? I always assumed he didn't know or else he wouldn't have accepted that cure-all from her for himself. I also thought he only knew about the marriage plans after he was told, but it wasn't part of his original plan. I'd like to know if anyone caught onto this. 

From what I understood, they both didn't know she was being poisoned until she went to Ning Yi while he was removing the curse made by his mother. They investigated it, but it was already too late. They both decided to continue as planned and Zhiwei entrusted Ning Yi with waking her up. The later parts are just seen in flashbacks because at this point the movie is rushing so bad that important dispositions are left to flashbacks. GREAT IDEA EDITOR! (I still can't forgive them for relegating the "real" confrontation between Ning Yi and Zhongxin to a flashback).

 

None of them knew what the Prince was going to do at all. She was supposed to just loose her memories and they just planned to rekindle them. I think Ning Yi was somewhat confident they could do it because of their relationship. But he was taken aback that she re-associated her memories instead and started to hate him, and that the Prince would actually pretend to be married to her and then marry her for real afterwards. The perfect thing about this story is that there are no Mary Sues and Gary Stus. The leads can't see everything and thus make a lot of mistakes. Like A LOT! You have got to be blind to associate Zhiwei to a Mary Sue.

 

I don't know about the explosion though... I didn't know if they planned that much destruction...

 

 

===========================

 

Soooooo, I am trying to make a "real" MV with work being slow and all due the holidays. Have a blessed Thanksgiving to everyone btw. But while I'm cutting and editing clips, I end up watching the entire thing instead so it is a long process...

 

Anyway, I was watching the scene where Zhiwei was revealed as a woman and Ning Yi was on his "overacting" (as others want to put it) mode again, and it amazes me how you see glimpses of his real feelings. It was such a wonderful idea to place Helian Zheng there on the scene. With Helian Zheng disrupting his act. Ning Yi's frustration while trying to still look indifferent... it was so fun to watch. He knew of course that begging for her life would just mean a swift death for her. But Helian Zheng... lol... He is a really great guy but... I wonder if he is fit to rule... lol

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19 hours ago, nerdybug said:

The original novel title 'Huang Quan' means 'Phoenix Power (Right to Authority)'. At first, I thought the phoenix refers to Ning Yi, but it actually refers to FZW because her name, Feng is a part of Fenghuang - phoenix. 

 

Starting at the point where she was asked to marry Shaoning, she started to lose it, and that's because she did not stick to the moral code of justice (''poisoned Ning Yi). This is when she started getting into trouble and getting captured and not being able to get out of trouble. 

Sort of trivia, I believe Feng is a male phoenix and Huang is a female phoenix, which is why it's Huang Quan, also because Huang's homonym is royal, lol. Zhiwei's last name has to do with the book being linked to Fuyao (which was written first), although the phoenix meaning in both case is probably fully intentional.

 

I don't think she ever lost her moral code of justice? She was tempted, for sure, but never put it to action. I think her losing it have more to do with her feeling responsible for more deaths and potential deaths. The poison thing, you mean when Shaoning made her poison Ning Yi? She was hesitant but reassured it's harmless, she still wanted to pull back but Ning Yi chose to take it.

 

Re: Jin Siyu's plot. Neither of them were aware of the potion in the beginning. Ning Yi suspected he might tried something, and Zhiwei in a flashback asked for a way to remember him (via acupuncture!). He was definitely taken back by the amnesia and hurt, they were so compliant because they were in Jin Siyu's territory. The marriage bit was definitely not part of the plan (Zhiwei woke up in the middle of it, like just before they exploded the lake, which is convenient). Jin Siyu used it as a way to taunt Helian Zheng and Ning Yi I think? Waiting for either of them to get impatient and do something drastic so he can gain upper hand? idk. The explosion was planned though, Ning Yi grabbed the floor plans of the place from Crown Prince (or was it spies? I can't remember, it's a one liner) for it. I think they might have hastened the explosion due to marriage.

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Great discussion. Prince An... what a player! Wonderful  scene as he takes advantage of the drugged FW and seems to fall in love with her himself. I thought we would see him leading her to bed!  Of course he knew she was expressing her love for NY, but I  don't  think he cared. I would have liked him to have survived to fight another day.

7 hours ago, Pollen Ainne said:

Yes! More victims. lol

 

I really get what you are saying. And I totally felt the same until I realized that the second vow she made was about her own soul and not her mother's. And I know it is mean of me to not care about her initial vow, but the second one is devastating. If she went with Ning Yi now, then it will be the only lifetime they will be together. And Ning Yi did tell her he wanted to spend all his lifetimes with her. And it does not matter whether reincarnation is true or not, because they believe in it. In which case, it bothers me that Ning Yi just conveniently forgot about it, or intentionally ignored it. IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE! He should have offered her something else... being his Empress was out of the question!!! SMH!

 

Although, I think, she should have just disappeared instead. Or faked her death or something. A survivor like Zhiwei committing suicide leaves a bad taste on my mouth.

 

Unfortunately, the novel and the series went completely different directions, and although the title of the novel was perfect for it, the series had really nothing to do with Zhiwei being a phoenix anymore... to be honest, they should have changed the title. Or better yet, not associate themselves with the novel at all, and maybe just place some credits that the story is loosely based on it. It might have gotten a better reception from the novel readers. But your idea sounds great.

 

From what I understood, they both didn't know she was being poisoned until she went to Ning Yi while he was removing the curse made by his mother. They investigated it, but it was already too late. They both decided to continue as planned and Zhiwei entrusted Ning Yi with waking her up. The later parts are just seen in flashbacks because at this point the movie is rushing so bad that important dispositions are left to flashbacks. GREAT IDEA EDITOR! (I still can't forgive them for relegating the "real" confrontation between Ning Yi and Zhongxin to a flashback).

 

None of them knew what the Prince was going to do at all. She was supposed to just loose her memories and they just planned to rekindle them. I think Ning Yi was somewhat confident they could do it because of their relationship. But he was taken aback that she re-associated her memories instead and started to hate him, and that the Prince would actually pretend to be married to her and then marry her for real afterwards. The perfect thing about this story is that there are no Mary Sues and Gary Stus. The leads can't see everything and thus make a lot of mistakes. Like A LOT! You have got to be blind to associate Zhiwei to a Mary Sue.

 

I don't know about the explosion though... I didn't know if they planned that much destruction...

 

 

===========================

 

Soooooo, I am trying to make a "real" MV with work being slow and all due the holidays. Have a blessed Thanksgiving to everyone btw. But while I'm cutting and editing clips, I end up watching the entire thing instead so it is a long process...

 

Anyway, I was watching the scene where Zhiwei was revealed as a woman and Ning Yi was on his "overacting" (as others want to put it) mode again, and it amazes me how you see glimpses of his real feelings. It was such a wonderful idea to place Helian Zheng there on the scene. With Helian Zheng disrupting his act. Ning Yi's frustration while trying to still look indifferent... it was so fun to watch. He knew of course that begging for her life would just mean a swift death for her. But Helian Zheng... lol... He is a really great guy but... I wonder if he is fit to rule... lol

I agree that was a wonderful scene. As to your point about his fitness to rule it seems like apples vs oranges. His character is so rough and tumble compared to NY. The deep conspiricies of NYs court seem very different from his world. He may have made a good ruler in Jinsei but would have been outplayed in T. He was a wonderfully enjoyable character, and he learned a lot from his time in Tiensheng.

 

I reached the last 10 episodes and I  have to admit they desperately needed a few more episodes  to land that plane. Originally  I  tolerated the ending but now I  just cannot fit the suicide in an acceptable context given the scope of the drama. Not looking for a HEA ending, but I  could have accepted almost anything else. Ran off to join the circus, joined a nunnery, joined the girl scouts and sold cookies....but suicide? 

Ultimately  it was her mother's  fault! Lol but not really laughing. 

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JMO 

Best opening shot, NingYi in the temple surrounded by his patterns was outstanding.

Best Expression of Love, after the epidemic his halting admission, so shy, so swoonworthy. Reminded me of Mr. Darcy, very JA.

Best Villain,  Ning Qi, first he sets up his own mother to be ousted as the Emperor s favorite, then he kills his own half sister, along with his plan to murder and assume the throne.

Favorite costume  combo, NY and FW at the wonderful birthday party or sitting together after they admit their love.

 

Feel free to add more, loving the observations. 

I have a few more but I  have to get my sweet potatoes  on. Happy Thanksgiving  to all. 

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8 hours ago, Pollen Ainne said:

Unfortunately, the novel and the series went completely different directions, and although the title of the novel was perfect for it, the series had really nothing to do with Zhiwei being a phoenix anymore... to be honest, they should have changed the title. Or better yet, not associate themselves with the novel at all, and maybe just place some credits that the story is loosely based on it. It might have gotten a better reception from the novel readers.

They changed the Chinese title, it's Song of Tiansheng or something. I think it was around June or something, probably last time they went through SARFT, it's definitely to get pass it, but also probably they knew they cut out enough that the focus will mostly on Tiansheng and Ning Yi. As for not associating, investors picked up the project, directors and scriptwriters were bought in later, they might not have enough control over the project to do so. No matter what they do, there will always be complaints from novel readers, because you are adapting their favourite book! The team + Ni ni both mentioned that they changed 90% of the book before it aired I think. Loose adaptation will get more hate IMO. 

 

I think it'd be nice if they could create something like this from scratch, but they didn't. Investors probably doesn't want to invest so much time and money on a project that doesn't have a safety net. Advisors Alliance is the most recent relevant successful example I can think of, and that has history as a base, sort of safety net but also subject to more intense scrutinisation. Story of Yanxi Palace is relevant in that it's a costume drama, but it relies heavily on harem drama tropes, and the producer excel in creating media buzz, just really different genre and MO.

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