Drama: 杨门女将

I watched this drama as a continuation to the supposed prequel, Shao Nian Yang Jia Jiang. There were some continuity in the sense that it made sense why the prequel would end that way abruptly. In the prequel, Si Lang became the consort of the Liao Kingdom, which I thought was weird that it would end that way, but it paved for the story in this drama. However the reasons for becoming the consort were vastly different, probably so that the prequel could end in that one episode without dragging it too much. It also explained why they abruptly allowed Wu Lang to become a monk, although in this drama they didn’t seem to have the same reason as to why he became one.

This drama largely focuses on the woman remaining in the Yang family. Where Du Jin Er is supposed to have joined the Yang Family at the end of the prequel, she only comes in a few episodes into the drama where she meets everyone for the first time. Somehow after watching this drama, I just feel that the woman in this family are a sad bunch. Their husbands all seem to in the battle field.

Zong Bao, who is Liu Lang’s son, died a few “weeks” after marrying Mu Gui Ying. Which was rather sad, although they allowed her to be pregnant so that the family has a heir. Ba Mei’s long loved Yang An also died before they had a chance to go back and marry. It is a rather sad story which told of the sacrifice made by the Yang family to ensure peace and prosperity in their homeland.

The story has this typical villian inside the imperial palace who sways the emperor’s judgement, and this villian is removed in the middle of the drama in a good fashion. The villian is replaced by this priest who can create weird formations that make people lose themselves when they enter it, resulting in huge losses. This might be a reason why I didn’t like this drama as compared to the prequel; they are fighting against this superstitious thing which doesn’t really exist in real life as opposed to honestly fighting a battle through wits and valour.

The ending was also abrupt, with Ba Mei and Gui Ying being conferred titles, along with the grandma She Tai Jun who is the mother in the prequel. It just didn’t feel as nice as the prequel, although less people lost their lives. Since it is a female oriented drama, the females in the show didn’t die, but I still felt sorry for them because they were all widowed at a young age.

Overall it was a great story of the Yang family, whose patriotism, sense of righteousness, and honour shone throughout. Their loyalty to the throne and compassion towards the citizens of the country were something that we should all learn from. It is this sense of honour which I thought I should seek to emulate, and ensure the prosperity and safety of my own country.

Kung Fu Panda II

I watched this movie a few days ago. This review probably came a little late since the movie is reaching the last few weeks of its theater-life. The wikipedia article has the entire spoiler for the movie, so if you would like to know the story instead, you might choose to go there.

I would actually go so far as to say that I was disappointed with the movie. Not that the effects were bad, but the plot was very predictable. As I have told some of my friends, the movie is so predictable such that I can predict the last 5 minutes of the movie from the events in the first 5 minutes. However this could be due to me being chinese, and having seen so many dramas or movies that you associate inner peace, the shifu’s taichi moves that you know that it would become a key part of the battle. Once the main evil villian is announced, and his weapon of choice being the cannonball, it is not difficult to put two and two together to realize that it should have something to do with rebounding the cannonball. This is what the ending of Return of the Condor Heroes did too.

There wasn’t much omph as compared to the first story in Kung Fu Panda I. In Kung Fu Panda I, the story revolved in finding the dragon warrior to having the sense of disbelief that the panda is a dragon warrior, to training him and finally fighting. In Kung Fu Panda II, I find that it is merely battles after battles that does not really help much to advance the storyline.

All of a sudden after the panda’s own tragic past is revealed, he attains inner peace. I find that terribly quick. There was no rage. The explanation was that the panda realized that his life was great to him after his tragedy, so he accepted his fate. That requires tremendous forgiving that seemed a little too quick. Considering how his shifu took decades to comprehend and find inner peace, it does feel a little bit rushed.

As of similar animated style movies, the duration of the entire experience was no more than 1 and a half hours, and that includes some advertisements. Personally with a story like that, I would think it wouldn’t be very worth it to watch in a cinema. However since I had a student price, I suppose I wouldn’t mind.

Drama: Shao Nian Yang Jia Jiang

I watched 《少年杨家将》 because I wanted to know the story of the Yang family. It seemed apt to watch all these interesting dramas set in the olden times, after I had watched movies like Legend of the Condor Heroes, Return of the Condor Heroes etc, comprising of the “new batch” of idols. Hu Ge, who acted as Yang Liu Lang was Guo Jing in LOCH, and Yuan Hong who acted as Yelu Xie in the drama was Yang Kang in LOCH. It seemed ironic that the enemy of the Yang family was next cast as their descendant.

As usual with the “shao nian” series, this story takes place before the main stories at a time when the characters were younger. This story revolves around how Yang Ye, the father taught his family values like loyalty and the unyielding spirit as well as a deep sense of patriotism. As with all dramas with villians, the Yang family has always met with trouble, which resulted in the deaths of Yang Ye, Yang Da Lang, Yang Er Lang, Yang San Lang and Yang Qi Lang.

The ending few episodes of the drama was most touching and heart wrenching. When the Prime Minister told tales to the Emperor, you just feel so angry, but then you felt angrier because the Emperor couldn’t discern who was his loyal subject and who wasn’t. Just because he lacked faith in the Yang Family, five men died.

When the wife of Wu Lang knocked him unconscious, resulting in him being unable to go to his father’s and brothers’ aid, I felt a sense of disappointment and anger. It was as if the person who was his wife could not understand him at all. That he would rather go into battle and die with his family than to run like a coward knowing that his family was being killed off one by one. I could understand how he couldn’t forgive her after that.

The accumulation of emotions from intensity of the battle and what seemed like a slaughter, coupled with betrayal, mistrust, capture of the upright people and finally the scene where they brought the bodies back to the capital just seemed to make it even more upsetting. But then you develop a sense of how evil war is, and that sometimes the soldiers from both sides are innocent, but they die all the same. Plus they die so fast and in such huge numbers, it’s impossible to bring their bodies back to their family.

The only gripe I had is that the upright people die so epic-ly but the evil villians just die in a simple painless manner. Is it really that easy to catch the Prime Minister and convict him?

The video below is the theme song for the drama. I liked it very much. I like how the way chinese words can be strung together to form longer meanings but the number of words used is very minimal. Enjoy.

出鞘劍 殺氣蕩

你的笑 活著怎麼忘



Kdrama: Secret Garden

I watched this Korean drama last week, and this is one of those romantic dramas where you go through the ups and downs with the couple and see how they sacrifice for each other and then make you feel so sad and emo about it. The feeling of seeing them together is just like how one would feel watching Boys over Flowers, although I thought Boys over Flowers seemed to have more originality, perhaps cause the storyline came from a Japanese manga?

It feels really typical of dramas where you have a rich guy who usually doesn’t date the poor girls who are not those pretty doll-like type of girls. Add in the evil mother who doesn’t wish her son to marry downwards and keeps finding girls to matchmake to her son as she thinks that the marriage is like a business transaction. Sounds really like Boys over Flowers too huh. And that the rich guy has this obnoxious attitude that just puts people off but feels so weirdly cute when he finishes off his words with a very touching sentence? And add in the fact that the Korean language sounds so coarse at times, you wonder if you have met “My Sassy Girlfriend”.

But there are other less typical parts of the story. The main story revolves how their body swap actually made them learn more about each other and the people that the other half interacts with daily. It is not original but at least you have some fun laughing because the character totally changes and hence weird stuff happens.

The ending is a little cliche. Turns out that the whole body swapping thing is due to the firefighter who saved the rich guy’s life 13 years ago, and the poor girl is the firefighter’s daughter. What a coincidence but it would probably make the girls feel that it’s a really beautiful story. 🙂

Overall I thought it was still a great drama to catch. Fun to watch and it gave me many laughs too. Good for destressing and it is only 20 episodes!

JDrama: Bloody Monday 2

I realized I never blogged about Bloody Monday Season 1. I forgot when I watched it, it might be last year I guess. Bloody Monday 2 is a continuation of season 1 only in the sense the characters are ported over, even the antagonists, but in this drama, the main antagonists are a different bunch of terrorists waiting to destroy Japan using a hydrogen bomb.

I enjoyed Bloody Monday 2 lesser than Bloody Monday 1, as I thought there were some fundamental flaws. I didn’t see the point of having the kids obtaining guns when they don’t really do anything to contribute to the main storyline. Neither did they inflict much damage to society.

Bloody Monday 2 continued on Bloody Monday 1’s suspense by continually making you wonder who the mole in the police force is, who the mysterious Spider is etc. But they first bring you through scenes that make you strongly feel that person A is the bad guy but in reality she is not. Then once you realize she is not, you wonder questions like “So why did she react this way at that point in time”, and you get confused.

But the main storyline is interesting, with many twist and turns as to what the real objective of the terrorists are. As usual, the key ingredient of the show is the hacking skills of Falcon, acted by Miura Haruma. It does seemed that everything can be hacked in this world of computers, and it questions on the capabilities of those who built the system in the first place. How can you have a Nuclear Facility that is not properly guarded and terrorists can just over-run it easily? And then from the nuclear facility, hackers can take over the control systems of other facilities? But I guess this is why the story is fiction. In reality it is much harder to achieve the same objectives using such a simple plan.

I am most disappointed with the ending of this drama. Many questions were left unanswered. Suddenly the mastermind of the whole terrorist plot is the main antagonist of season 1, and one of the terrorists of season 2 is loyal to him when all the other terrorists are killed either in an internal struggle or by the police? I do wonder if they are planning to release Bloody Monday Season 3 or at least a special episode to explain the loose ends.

It is still an interesting drama to watch when you have the time. 🙂

JDrama: Lady Saigo no Hanzai Profile

After my exams ended, this is the first drama that I watched. Ok lah, this is the only drama I have watched so far. Anyway the title of this drama is “Lady: Saigo no Hanzai Profile” (最後の犯罪profile), which loosely translated means the “last crime profile” The “Lady” part didn’t make sense to me until the final few episodes, as the key bad guy is dubbed the “Lady Killer”.

Profiling is basically something like a statistical tool of some sorts, where you try to predict the actions of the bad guy, or the place he would appear. This is highly dependent on the amount of information about the person, as you have to have some degree of understanding of the person to be able to profile him accurately. For example, in one episode, they estimated the places a runaway prisoner would go to, given that he was spotted in a place. It worked based on the probability that the fugitive will not run away too far from his nest.

Another example would be getting data from the previous few murders and the places the victims were abducted. By analyzing the order of which the abduction is performed, one is able to generate a prediction of the next location. This works on probability, hence the probability of error is always there. Profiling is not a 100% accurate thing.

The other side of profiling, a less statistical one, is performed by the main lead actress Kazuki, acted by Kitagawa Keiko. As a talented profiler trained with the FBI, she visits the scenes of the crime and tries to understand the criminal by imagining herself in their shoes. Since certain clues can be found in the scene of the crime, she is able to reconstruct some parts of what the criminal did, and then predict the possible actions.

Naturally I was quite skeptical of the profiling performed by CPS, the fictional department in the police force. It can’t be that accurate, can it? But maybe it can, since data could have been collected for many criminals and analyzed. Perhaps by leveraging on previous crimes, one can indeed model a criminal mind and guess, with some degree of accuracy, what a criminal might do.

There are a few things I learnt from this drama (sarcasm coming up)

1. Scenes of the crime are usually left alone in the original form. The tables that were overturned are untouched, and profilers can go back to see the original state and do re-profiling. Yes, even for crimes that happen 5 years ago.

2. The Japan police force is quite stupid 10 years ago, and the introduction of profilers suddenly made it easy to capture one criminal. I must say I was quite disappointed with the anti-climax ending, as I thought the police should have figured it out instead of dragging it till 10 years.

3. When criminals come back and hit the policeman who is pointing a gun at their comrade, the policeman will faint and they will run, but somehow their comrade does not follow immediately. As such a girl can take up the gun of the policeman and kill the comrade, and the runaway convicts will not hear the gunshots and hence does not come back.

But other than that, the drama is quite entertaining since it is something new that isn’t seen often on television. Makes me wonder why Mediacorp doesn’t record such shows that actually glorifies the work done by our police officers. The cases are pretty memorable, with many bizarre kind of murders. But deep down every murderer has a sad story. It is usually society that does not accept them properly, causing them to have mental disturbances and go the wrong way.

Perhaps as a society we should always be encouraging towards all members of society, making sure they don’t fall through the cracks in our system, so everyone can live a dignified life. We would then have less people going mentally insane, and hence less chances of seeing such sick murders. Ok this paragraph sounds not simple. Haha.

Inspirational Steve Job’s Commencement Speech 2005

I heard it then a few years back, and I came across this video again. In a strange way, it seemed to be God’s way of reaching out to me, after I cried for him to save me from the depths of despair. It is like how he wanted me to listen to this again and pick myself up from where I was.

It made me realize and remember that I was a failure once before. Maybe to many people I wasn’t. I went to a decent secondary school, and I had a PSLE score of 247. Just 3 points short to making into a SAP school. Many people would have wished they had my score, but to me that was one of my down moments of my life. And I climbed up. I made it into NJC, I made it into NUS. For someone that is not classified as the top 10% of my cohort, I eventually climbed up to get Dean’s List twice. That’s top 5% of the cohort in two semesters. I climbed all the way through my own effort.

And so this time I would meet with another failure. I might lose my first class honours. I might do so badly for my FYP that I wouldn’t have a high CAP, but still a decent classification of honours. I might be a failure in some of high society’s eyes, someone who fell from grace from a first class cap to a 2nd upper class honours. It is not as if I have never fallen before, and it is not as if I won’t pick myself up again. It is not as if it is the end of my life.

I might fall now. But the fundamental character that has been built in me will rise again. That mental tenacity that says never to resign to fate, that brain where all dreams are stored and visualized, that raging part of me that wants to start a side business. These are the qualities that won’t die with this small failure. Guards taught me that a skinny and small sized guy like me can become an elite infantry soldier. Guards showed that although I failed to make it into Officer Cadet School, I ended up becoming a PS, controlling just 1 less person than a regular PC, which is me.

I might not get what what I have always wished for in my life, but hey, I always have a plan B to make things work out. And no matter how many times I fall, I will climb again. This setback of not achieving the highest class of honours will not destroy me. People like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates never graduated from college; yet they have achieved success beyond the reach of most graduates, not to mention that my eventual class of honours would still be considered decent.

At least I know where my dreams lie. At least I know where I want to go. One day, I would be there in the parade square standing proudly, telling the whole world, hey, I still made it to become an officer after all. And eventually I will achieve success beyond my wildest dreams. A 2nd upper isn’t going to cripple me. In fact, it is as Steve Job’s said, it would be liberating. Free from the stress of academic success. And I will go on to conquer new heights.