Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time (2017)

6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 67 users
Reviews: 7 users

Three hundred years ago, Bai Qian stood on the Zhu Xian Terrace, turned around and jumped off without regret. Ye Hua stood by the bronze mirror to witness with his own eyes her death.

Three hundred years later, in the East Sea Dragon Palace, the two meet unexpectedly. Another lifetime another world, after suffering betrayal Bai Qian no longer feels anything, yet she can't seem to comprehend Ye Hua's actions. Three lives read morethree worlds, her and him, are they fated to love again?

Based on the novel by Táng Qī Gōngzǐ

  • Native title:

    三生三世十里桃花
  • Also Known as:

    San Sheng Sanshi, Shili Taohua; Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms; 三生三世,十里桃花; San Sheng San Shi Shi Li Tao Hua

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MusicalVeggies
11 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
9 days ago
  • Overall 3.0
  • Story 3.0
  • Acting/Cast 5.0
  • Music 5.0
  • Rewatch Value 1.0
After having watched it, I can understand why this movie is receiving a lot of flak from its viewers.

As a stand-alone movie, the way the story was told was choppy and incoherent - there was often little connection from one scene to the next, and from one character's actions to the next, so the viewer is often left confused and dis-oriented with what is happening and why the characters are behaving read more the way they do. Therefore, in terms of story-telling, this movie falls down pretty hard. For those who don't know the story behind the movie beforehand, the film would come across not making any sense whatsoever, which, I can imagine, would be a very disturbing and disappointing watch.

Those who do know the story beforehand are generally able to fill in the blanks and insert all the backstory in between scenes, but even speaking as someone who knew the backstory beforehand, I still found myself trying to figure out what was happening on screen and where the scene fitted in within the whole. It was terrible because your mind is having to adjust and place the characters and circumstances in the right place as each scene flashed by, so you're always playing catch-up and whatever emotional connection you had with the characters ends up getting lost. You're no longer feeling the story or the characters any longer, you're playing catch up to what's going on.

It is worth noting that as the movie attempts to condense and reduce a very lengthy story into a 2-hour telling, the production team naturally had to make some changes to some characters and events which will inevitably differ from the original source material. While this is entirely understandable, it can also hamper the watch experience because in addition to the 'playing catch-up' process, the viewer is then also having to make sense of the changes within the movie-context in itself.
I personally found some changed plot-lines and new scenes baffling and bizarre, and to this day, still have no real idea why certain things happened, or what the director was trying to tell. A good example was the way the movie ended - haphazard, chaotic, baffling and bizarre.

In terms of pacing, the film was rather inconsistent. Some scenes were given plenty of space and air-time while other scenes flashed by so quickly that just before the viewer had time to absorb who was on screen and what was happening (especially for those having to read subtitles), it has ended and you're confronted with a completely different and new scene and your mind is having to adjust from the whiplash.
It made for a very scattered and dis-connected viewing experience and I can't help but think that if the director or editor had spent less time dwelling on certain scenes (the long pan and introduction into Qing Qiu being one of them), there might have been more time to allow other scenes to breathe better.

I also found myself wondering why the director chose to use or dwell on certain scenes which do not really add value in advancing an already fast-moving plot e.g. there was an extended sequence of Ye Hua cooking for Bai Qian (let's not even go into how that scene was depicted). Precious minutes spent on a cooking class when there is still so much ground to cover.


ACTING/CAST
The choppy incoherent story-telling and inconsistent patchy pacing issues probably did not help (maybe even compounded to) the perception of underwhelming acting from the cast. Characters were not given enough time to establish their roles and personalities, what more for them to show us their evolution throughout the movie. As a result, it made it difficult for the viewer to understand their motives and their actions as the movie progressed. With the lost emotional connection, it is easy to pan the actors/ actresses for bad portrayals of their characters. Perhaps some of it can be put down to lacklustre acting ability, but I do also believe that another part of it was down to poor scripting of the characters, and to poor directing and editing of the movie.

Yang Yang and Crystal Liu were suitable for their roles, looks-wise. I thought Crystal was serviceable as Bai Qian but some key scenes which required her to exercise her haughty authority as the Queen of Qing Qiu did not have as much impact as I would have hoped for. Yang Yang portrayed a rather different Ye Hua from the original source material, in terms of personality and attitude. Some viewers might enjoy this fresh take on Ye Hua's character, while others like myself might have found it off-putting and borderline disturbing.
The rest of the supporting cast had too little airtime to really provide them with proper personalities, therefore a lot of them came across as one-dimensional one-note characters with a very set purpose to fulfil in advancing the plot along. They were there to do this, or do that, or say this, or say that, and their job was essentially done.


MUSIC
As I was too focused on trying to follow the plot and the happenings on-screen, I had very little time to appreciate the music score, except during that long pan of Qing Qiu.


RE-WATCH VALUE
Unfortunately, all things considered, I have to say that it was an unpleasant watch for me. There was very little I enjoyed or liked about this movie, therefore a re-watch is not even a consideration.
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erica
10 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
14 days ago
  • Overall 7.0
  • Story 6.5
  • Acting/Cast 6.5
  • Music 8.0
  • Rewatch Value 4.0
i was able to catch the movie in our local cinema. while i will not go to the extent of calling this a bad movie, ultimately it is quite mediocre.

First..for the good parts, the special effects are well done and much better than the obviously fake CGI animation in the tv drama. i also prefer the lead actress liu yifei in the movie. For me she looks more endearing than yang read more mi in the drama. It took a bit of time for me to warm up to TV yang mi. The pacing is fast (sometimes too fast) so you will not get bored watching.

now for the bad parts. whether or not you've seen the TV drama version, this movie has fairly significant shortfalls.

if you've not seen the drama, the plot will be baffling. Special effects cannot make up for lack of cohesive story. The idea to constantly go back and forth from the present to the past was initially ok, but later robbed the impact and I suspect will make it confusing to moviegoers with no background. And while i understand and support the need to cut many characters and side story, there was lack of explanation on important parts. On the positive side, you will likely find the acting passable, though not brilliant.

if you've seen the drama, the story will be understandable (thanks to your pre-knowledge), however the movie itself will be disappointing. Chinese netizens are diligently posting ludicrous parts e.g. the audience actually laughed the first time some of the supporting characters costume came on to the screen - not the reaction you wanted! Thankfully, the lead actors qian qian and ye hwa are (mostly) costumed nicely, however even qian qian elicited another laughter on one supposed to be dramatic scene, again due to over the top costume. But to me costume can be overlooked. What made it unsatisfying ultimately is lack of emotional connection. The actor yang yang is not so bad, but if you've seen the drama, you can't help but compare to mark chao. Whether it is the fault of the story pacing or the deficiency of acting skills, many dramatic scenes felt flat. One of the highlights of the tv drama was when lead actor and actress met again after a period of separation. In the movie, it was more like "boy meets girl for first time" romcom type of vibe.

For fans of the novel/series, don't be discouraged by this review. Do go ahead and watch. Arm yourself with low expectation and you will enjoy the movie more with its beautifully shot scenes and relive the story. Certainly the ~2hrs flew by quickly. For non-fans, I recommend stay away, it will leave you baffled on what the fuss is all about.
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Same story from same novel. One is a 58 episodes drama and one is a movie. Both drama and movie have amazing cast
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Comments (196)

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  • Reply
    Lin 3 days ago - edited

    WAIT STOP AND READ

    Just to let you guys know the original movie length was 140 mins and the one we got to se in the theaters is actually only 109 mins. If the movie felt really fast and choppy, that's probably the reason why. The producers of the movie released a clip that talked about the whole filmmaking process (53 mins long) and from it, at least 6 scenes were deleted. I'm waiting for the DVD to come out so I can see it before I leave any final thoughts.

    I agree with most of the opinions of the goods and bad of this movie, and I say it's worth a watch. It's not bad and if you were to watch it, watch it at least 2 times. Cuz the first time you're going to be overblown at everything they show ESPECIALLY by the pacing of the movie, the rewatch will be a lot better when you start picking things up that you didn't understand or feel rom the first watch. Definitely try a rewatch, and if you don't feel anything different then maybe that's just me that's overthinking about things. Comment below if you actually tried a rewatch

  • Reply
    steph_ravita 3 days ago
    Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    Dramaaddict07 3 days ago - edited

    CGI was great and all but the movie was choppy that even knowing the story beforehand, I was still confused at times. I guess that is what happens then you try to squeeze a long story into a 2h long movie. But there are good points too! The actors were good! And the movie managed to capture the main parts of the story :)

  • Reply
    JownO 3 days ago

    I really need to state my opinion after watching this....
    ====for the story====
    =>I think they followed the beginning of the novel where Bai Qian doesn't remember anything from her mortal self 300 years ago and the events from the past were just flashed back (I actually expected this since it's just a 2 hour movie).
    =>Yeah, I think I would agree that for someone who have not watched the drama or read the novel, it would be quite confusing especially that characters just appear from nowhere and disappear without introduction on who they are... then they will just be introduced sooner in the later parts of the movie. (Did they actually forget that nobody is narrating in the movie?)
    =>Some events in the novel/drama that were fused together was just an okay with me. It didn't really bothered me, but I felt that scenes were cut and the movie looked like its jumping from one scene from another (like Bai Qian was 'there' and now she's 'here' or like Ye Hua was 'here' and now he's gone xD)....
    =>Everything felt like it happened too fast that I was not really able to grasp the emotion that the story is suppose to convey to the viewers.

    It's just a movie with an amazing CGI and beautiful actors--- and nothing more.

  • Reply
    RuRu 4 days ago

    Okay so like you shouldn't watch this movie if you haven't read the novel or watched the drama. There are a lot of parts missing, so you'll be very confused if you watched it first handed. And though the actors were incredible, it doesn't make up for the unbalanced flow of the plot. It was sudden changes that led from one event to another, basically the movie was choppy. The graphics were applaud worthy though. But on a scale of 1 to 10, I'll give it a 4 or 5 and that's only because of the actors and effects. I recommend the drama wayyyy over this.

    I had really high expectations for this movie since the drama was a big time favorite of mine, but I ended up being disappointed. But no fear, an hour and fourty two minutes of Yang Yang made up for it.

  • Reply
    Tongko 4 days ago

    wtf..!?

  • Reply
    NEPNamstar 6 days ago - edited

    if i didn't watch the drama n read the novel first then i never get the story from this movie...
    Just it! ^^

  • Reply
    Meg 6 days ago - edited
    Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    displacedmoon 6 days ago - edited

    There were a lot of aspects that I enjoyed in the movie that I felt were on par if not better than the drama -- the camera work, visuals, vibrant colors, costumery, and CGI effects. I was especially happy to see Bia Qian’s nine-tailed white fox given more screen time, something the drama rarely did. And while I really enjoyed the chemistry between Yang Mi and Chao Mark, the one between Crystal and Yang Yang often felt more palpable, more earnest. I’ve also read comments about folks not liking A-Li’s “fat face” -- pretty harsh. I thought the kid was cute and did well in his role. That said, there were aspects I didn’t enjoy – the choppy editing, rushed feeling, confusing story flow, lack of backstory for some of the characters, and added chunks of dialogue/scenes that did little to further the story along. Even having seen the drama and read the book, I was often left confused as I tried connecting the dots from one scene to the next. There’s a lot of decisive plot to cover, and two+ hours of movie means that every minute has to count – which unfortunately didn’t happen with Once Upon a Time. The movie wasn't quite what I had hoped for as expectations after the drama were too high, but it was still an okay watch.

    • Reply
      Alice 6 days ago

      Yeah, I agree while I do not believe that the movie was better than the drama there were some aspects that I really liked. For one thing, the movie begins like the novel if I am remembering correctly and this movie unlike with the drama, focuses more on Su Su / Bai Qian and rather than on Ye Hua character.

      Aso for A-Li's 'fat face' he is a CHILD they have rounded faces, people need to get over themselves...really. I also really enjoyed the CGI, although at first, I thought it was going to take away from the movie, it didn't and I really enjoyed it. I do agree that the editing could use also of help tho.

      All and all I don't really see why people are mad at this movie, I think that it may just follow truer to the written material and the writer and director could have used some help but it was an enjoyable movie.

  • Reply
    HerWitch 7 days ago - edited

    I just finished watching Once upon a Time today. Wether I read or not the book or watch the drama or not, this movie is 100% Chinese typical type of creation to everything and I'm saying it as positive, meaning it was a great movie. (Been a fan of Chinese wuxia, hua xia, etc. movies and novel)

    SPOILER ALERT!
    Forget the comparison between the drama the movie versions I think this movie is a stand alone concept, worth of movie type show. Different potrayal/vibe/aura of cast, plot/story and production especially the highlight of CGI here. The movie gave it a life to everything and it gave justice too wether the characters or the story or the production, that IT MADE ME WANT MORE! I was into it, it was not kind of childish or bubbly but a balance of maturity however it really kind of shorten that what about that Mo yuan awakening as Ye Hua? o.o

    Anyway to shorten this message/comment also (lol) it seems like China netizens and those international fans who have watched the drama are Eternal Love forever, BUT for me this is a great movie it passed a great deal. I will say it twice its a movie so everything was shorten/summarize important events PLUS unlike a series/episodes the characters INDEED did a splendid work potraying 3 different characters in less than 2 hours like omg.

    It's one of my type of movie created but if you guys don't like it then don't make it a bad movie for everyone, it's kinda unfair. Thank you for the director and everyone that made this movie alive and great. Thank you.

  • Reply
    RougestoneC 7 days ago

    I watched this in theaters and honestly it wasn't worth it. The storytelling was not fluid and the same scenes were replayed and overused. Also what's up with the rewind section at the ending? I think it would have been a more enjoyable watch if the scenes were in chronological order instead of the past being shown as flashbacks with narration. Overall very disappointed and not recommended especially for those who haven't read the book or watched the drama.

  • Reply
    hello 7 days ago - edited

    Let's just say you can't make a 2 hour movie from a 50+ episode drama and expect it to be the same quality...especially this drama which has like 2 back stories.

    • Reply
      MusicalVeggies 7 days ago

      I don't think everyone expects the movie to be of the same quality as the tv drama. But I think everyone has a right to expect a good quality movie all the same - especially since you're paying good money to watch it in the cinema. You'd expect it to at least be able to string together a coherent story, as a bare minimum. Surely that's not too much to ask?

    • Reply
      hello 6 days ago

      Right. Apparently it was too much to ask xD

  • Reply
    Palani 8 days ago

    watched the movie in a big screen - 3D, like mentioned by other users, the movie isn't great. Visually pleasing background location is the only plus of this movie.

  • Reply
    Pinocchio 8 days ago

    Pretty bad things didn't make sense n you don't really connect with the characters since it hopped from one scene to a completely different one

  • Reply
    reinie 11 days ago - edited

    Wow, this is so unfortunate....it's getting such a bashing by the Chinese media. And fans too it looks like (Yang Yang and Liu Yi Fei's fans are apparently doing crazy things to avoid this being a flop) T_T so sad.

Details

  • Country:

    China
  • Type:

    Movie
  • Release Date:

    Aug 4, 2017
  • Duration:

    1 hr. 40 min.

Statistics

  • Score:

    6.8 (scored by 67 users)
  • Ranked:

    #8500
  • Popularity:

    #427

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