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Completed
Candle in the Tomb: The Wrath of Time
12 people found this review helpful
Jan 22, 2020
21 of 21 episodes seen
Completed 3
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
This show was everything I wanted and more!
Seriously, by far the best season of "Candle in the Tomb", which is kinda sad considering it's a barely related prequel.
At long last the cinematography was competent, the script somewhat tight and solid, things were set up and later paid off.
Only 21 episodes 30 minutes each made me sad at first, but actually I think it might've been a great thing for the show. Nothing dragged, the pace was good from start to finish.
The characters have clear motivations and feel like people for once. (vastly superior, as everything about the show btw, to the movie adaptation of the same story, which has awful cartoony caricatures)

Really really good

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Completed
Jade Dynasty
8 people found this review helpful
May 23, 2020
Completed 0
Overall 4.0
Story 4.0
Acting/Cast 6.0
Music 5.0
Rewatch Value 1.0

Forgettable Waste of Time

+ Meng Mei Qi's character almost intrigued me and was fun to watch interact with the protagonist
+ a few shots (mostly those with less CGI) were pretty
+ evil demon cult fighters are the most interesting part of the movie, and they're on screen for like 5 minutes. Pigman ftw!
+ a cute monkey rides a dog

- main actor is overacting to the point of cringe
- story is barebones and ends up with sequel bait after almost nothing happens
- the fights are uninteresting (like the whole movie) and feel cheaper than in many tv dramas
- overused CG of people flying on swords instead of, you know, building up characters and making me care about things

TL;DR: It feels like a pilot of a wuxia tv show, not a big movie. Completely forgettable in all aspects.

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Qi Men Dun Jia 2
5 people found this review helpful
Aug 4, 2023
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 6.0

A decent sequel to a decent movie

I quite enjoyed "Fantasy Magician" and this sequel is also quite nice.
You can really feel the low budget in how the story's quite small scale, not many locations, not many characters etc.
But that's fine - what's there actually looks surprisingly good. The props, costumes even the CG are solid.
The movie's also genuinely scary in places (especially at the beginning), it's well done horror.
Yeah, I'm not sure why I was surprised, but it's pretty neat. (again.)

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Completed
Love in Between
6 people found this review helpful
May 28, 2021
43 of 43 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 4.0
Story 4.0
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 1.5

Miserable disappointment!

I'm too disappointed to elaborate at length.
The show starts off REALLY strong - the opening map-retrieval arc is fantastic. The characters are cute and interesting, the acting's solid, the music's nice and there's loads of juicy wuxia action.
I can't say for what reason this great fortune turns sour, but my guess would be lack of funding and time?
Basically once we get past the martial tournament, it all goes to hell.
Actual plot progression is replaced by "convenient" melodrama, lots of angst and awful, just awful character development.
Characters who you grew to like turn out to be manipulative and terrible to their loved ones, "because duty".
Turns out the whole show's not about fun wuxia people doing a heist and falling in love. It's about stupid, annoyingly drawn out revenge ("justice") in a courtly intrigue type plot.
I HATE courtly intrigue plots. They suck ass.
The problem is that it's not even interesting as that. The drama is TOO LONG for its own good - towards the end there are like 5 episodes where things happen off screen and we're literally watching people talk in rooms. That's it.
The excellent and cool fights from the beginning? Gone. The fights are very few and far between, and they're terribly choreographed and performed.
The weak and predictable ending is just a rotten cherry on the entire pile of garbage.
Random notes:
- the actor of Ghost Boy nailed it. Menacing and had actual depth.
- the character of Shen Man Ching deserved a better show. She does NOTHING in the second half, just cry and get rescued.
- we get a few incredibly tame kisses and at least an implication characters had sex off screen. Wowiewowowow. That's something, I guess.

I was genuinely excited for this drama at first, but towards the end I had to fast forward through it.

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Completed
Fantasy Magician
6 people found this review helpful
Sep 9, 2020
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 6.0

Not terrible!

First off - the title "Fantasy Magician" is misleading, and feels like an attempt not to get sued. Like mobile games named "Mining Creation", or "Floppy Birdie".
This is an adaptation of the Thousand Faces of Dunjia, yes like the Yuen Woo Ping movie from 2017.
I thought the tendril demon and a creepy little person with clown makeup looked familiar, so I checked the Chinese name of this. And yep.
(the little clown is a reference, as far as I can tell, to the old adaptation - Miracle Fighters, where a creepy little clown lives inside a jar. And MF is by far the most entertaining of these three movies, and has two sequels even!)

I'll just quickly compare this to the YWP 2017 film.
- the story is simplified, it feels more compact and understandable.
- the actors are not as good, but the characters have some development.
- the CG and production value seems cheaper, but still very watchable.

Overall this is a fun, if forgettable little movie about the Avengers, wait no, about the Power Rangers...no, about secret demon hunters fighting aliens. Fighting demons. Yes.
It's ok.

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Completed
Tomb of the Sea
7 people found this review helpful
Dec 4, 2019
52 of 52 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 5.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 6.0
Music 4.5
Rewatch Value 2.0
This review may contain spoilers
This continues the tradition from Mystic Nine of terrible pacing, confusing story and incomprehensible plots, but sadly without the likable characters and pretty costumes.¨
Having watched this before I got into Lost Tomb 2, and after a while since I watched the first one, I felt quite lost. But that's just how the show rolls, everything is a mystery until the very end and confusion is intentional.
It's just not fun.
I'm super not a fan of these shows starring prettyboy twinks (who can't act for shit) for the fangirls, and the main character here was not an exception. I can appreciate pretty boys myself, but not when they look like an angry hamster had a baby with Jenny Nicholson, constantly pouting and acting like a brat.
This show's version of Wu Xie was honestly the most likable from all the adaptations I've watched, because he's an older guy, acted quite well.
Lieutenant Zhang was nice to see again, but the guy can't pull that much weight as an actor, his limited range really shows here. (side note: It's irritating as hell how these shows cannot depict actual romance and relationships, how grown ass adults have to act like teenagers and make do with awkward hugs instead of..you know, sex or even a proper kiss. But hey, young kids smashing beers like nobody's business is totally fine. :D China, you dumb.)
There's the usual subplots that never lead to anything, or elements that never result in anything or are ever brought up again. Boss Ma who's a major character from the beginning? Nope, gets shot and that's that. His healing treasure buried in GutongJing is never brought up again.
Snake zombies? We shall all remember them for the shallow plot device they were in that one episode. RIP.
The story picks up in the last ten-ish episodes, after dozens of eps spent wandering through the desert (twice! Because we need to go back to school, before going to the desert again. O_o) or stumbling through tunnels. Way too late.
Fatty is, as usual, the best character played by the coolest actor, and as usual he's not used a lot.

I am into these shows more for the tomb raiding than clan conspiracies/politics.
So this show had very little of interest for me.
Candle in the Tomb remains the superior tomb raiding franchise.
(go watch Wrath of Time now. Like half the episodes and much much better in every way.)

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Completed
The Lost Tomb 2
6 people found this review helpful
Jan 29, 2020
40 of 40 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 5.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
This review may contain spoilers
It's fine.
That's the most accurate and positive thing I can say about this season.
Daomu still remains the less good tomb raider series for many reasons (I'll list a few at the end), but this series is actually quite watchable, unlike Tomb of the Sea.
There's less clan politics and more tomb raiding, which is good in my book! And the tombs look quite good, I gotta say - the sets and CG are quite competent. (CG animals still look terrible, but that's just normal Cdrama stuff)
Honestly, the story is by far the weakest point - there's very little structure, no themes or character arcs, it's all plot. Stuff just happens in a mostly linear way.
And the usual bugbears appear - characters show up with 0 set up and leave the story with no payoff.
Remember Wu Xie's Gollum childhood friend? Yeah, we'll never hear from him again. Remember those rival tomb robbers? Yeah they just die. Look, it's the Shades guy from Tomb of the Sea! Why is he there? Who knows? We'll never find out, he's just suddenly there.
Can they actually resolve anything in 40 frikkin episodes? Nope. Will they end it with an out of nowhere cliffhanger? YOU BETCHA!
And what's up with that end part in the Snow Village, which is eerily similar to Eagles and Youngster?! Is it just one tomb writer ripping off another tomb writer? Or are they both based on some real world local story?! (seriously - snow village near a gold mine? A forbidden mountain area that poisons people? Previous expedition disappeared? A young local man whose sister is a great hunter against local custom?!)
The actors are...fine. Fatty is the best, which is somehow 100% legit standard in all these tomb raiding shows. Wu Xie has a very narrow range of Cheery optimistic --- Puzzled and Inquisitive --- Action boy saving his friends. He's fine.
Little Brother is...there. (honestly, not the worst actor to do this character, but also stiff as a wooden plank, as most of them are. The guy in Time Raiders remains the best one.)
Uncle guy is played by the same guy as boss Ma in TotS, which is not confusing, just weird.

TL;DR: If you're watching these to find out what the big mystery is, don't waste your time and just watch Tomb of the Sea. (and even then, I don't guarantee it'll make much sense)
It's solid tomb raiding for most of the time, with a decent dose of humour and mostly silly action.
It's fine.

(PS: Reasons why Candle in the Tomb is better than Daomu? This series once again reminded me how differently the two franchises treat local people and ethnic minorities during these tomb raiding adventures. See, in Daomu they're mostly portrayed as superstitious country hicks, weirdos or outright idiots. They also betray or mistreat the main characters most of the time.
In CitT? They're shown as interesting cool and caring people who just live differently. They have actual character instead of insulting caricatures.
I think this ties into the whole framing of the two stories - where in CitT the main characters are underdogs with barely anything to their names, the guys in Daomu are members of rich gangster clans who own massive houses, drive expensive cars and dress like clowns in what's supposed to pass for high fashion I guess. Like Wuxie is kind of a sweet boy, but his idea of a problem is "How can I afford this massively expensive artifact at this auction? Oh I know, my friend will sell one of his multiple mansions.".
I could go on.)

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Completed
Joy of Life
15 people found this review helpful
Jul 24, 2020
46 of 46 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 4.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 3.0
Rewatch Value 6.0
This review may contain spoilers

Could've been great.

Joy of Life's premise is silly, it's the kind of scifi YA nonsense you'd write in highschool.
Which is ok, I'm not expecting a masterpiece.
The series however relies on its story way too much, to its own detriment.
Put simply - the show is all about intrigue and plots, with a side of romance and mystery.
Trouble with this - the intrigue is not very clever or engaging, character motivations are shallow or terribly overcomplicated. It's written to work only as long as the plot rushes forward, so you don't notice how flimsy it is.
It also uses the "character decides to do the last mission before retirement, oops" cliche, and it's unfortunately very important to the overall story.
On the technical side, the show looks very nice in a few places. Mostly it's "ok" to watch. There are some fights, especially in the second half, and they're pretty well done.
One aspect where the show really dropped the ball is music. It's weirdly western sounding, like from a 90s/early 2000s sitcom. Quite distracting.
(side note: There's a bunch of talk about chi, levels of mastery etc., but it hardly ever matters. It's a device to lock certain plots into evolving certain ways. This is tied to the characters, which I'll get to now.)
The main reason to watch the show, to me at least, are the characters. They chose very good actors, there are hardly any weak links.
The problem is - the characters are slaves to the story and they come and go only in its service. If you happen to not care about the story, about the secret police stuff, about court intrigue and "The Mystery" of who Fan Xian is, you'll be constantly pissed off by what happens to these characters you like.
I wanna watch Fan Xian and his brother run a book shop, or do poetry battles and flirt with pretty ladies. I don't care who his parents were, or what the two princes are secretly plotting.
Speaking of Fan Xian - he's borderline unlikable. A very special Marty Stu boy who gets away with everything, either because of his super cool fighting skills, photographic memory, or because seemingly everyone in power (with a few exceptions) keeps him protected.
It heavily reminds me of young adult fiction novels, or perhaps Harry Potter.
The romance is interesting at first, because it largely skips the wooing stage, and the whole "will they or won't they", which is refreshing. But then when they are in fact together, it very quickly separates the couple, to introduce two new romantic interests for Fan Xian to flirt with.
The first season ends, of course, with a massive twist, AND a cliffhanger twist. Both are completely pointless and are not really foreshadowed, so you can't be satisfied you called it. (unlike the revelation of who FX's parents were, which was at least decent.)

TL;DR - mediocre to slightly bad show with really good actors and fun characters.

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Completed
Candle in the Tomb: The Lost Caverns
5 people found this review helpful
May 9, 2020
18 of 18 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
Candle in the Tomb continues its winning streak, by being the superior tomb raiding series and leaving its competitor(s) in the dust.
After the excellent Wrath of Time, I was delighted to find the same production team was working on the next main series. The Lost Caverns (TLC) is a very different, yet similar show (in a few aspects).
The good cinematography, decent writing and good acting are still there, but the feeling of the show is closer to the other main seasons. The characters are the same after all, continuing in the lengthy main plotline.

To some extent, the characters brought it down in some places for me, because they're not as exciting and new, since we've been with them for a long time. And while character development is welcome, here and there those scenes dragged for a bit too long. (especially for an 18 episode series)
While I appreciate the show for being funny, at times the humor was a bit forced and went on for too long.

I don't really have any serious complaints - the tomb raiding itself is wonderful, the acting is solid and the story mostly makes sense. I especially enjoy that unlike some other tomb raiding shows I won't name, TLC was not afraid to cast older and less than perfect looking actors. (who then give great performances)
As individuals, they are not my favourite picks for the roles (Hu Ba Yi si good, but a bit flabby. Fatty is..just a bit whiny. And Shirley is a bit boring in this one, to be honest. The actress seems nice and she does a decent job, but her portrayal is too timid and not fiery enough. Gold Tooth is a sweetheart though.), but their performances are consistent and they work well together.
And they get hurt and dirty and torn up and it's all so relatable, unlike characters in other *cough cough* shows.

Overall Wrath of Time is still my favourite, but I'm very happy with where the main series is heading.
It seems to be in good hands.

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Completed
Luoyang
5 people found this review helpful
Jan 20, 2022
39 of 39 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 6.5
Story 5.5
Acting/Cast 7.5
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 5.5

Disappointment

Man, I don't even wanna talk about it.
The show starts goodly and then proceeds to drag and descend into poopoo mediocrity.
Some notes:
- Huang Xuan good. Love him. Wang Yi Bo whatever, he's just there. Victoria Song is amazing - a good range of badass to vulnerable and emotional. I hate Song Yi playing meek and devoted waifu characters, she's too good for this nonsense. Zhang Li as the casino owner was a nice surprise.
- Unexpected GOAT award: Zhang Zhi Lin as An Bai Tan. 11/10, would love to have her angrily scowl at me, step on me...ehm.
- everybody probably mentions it, but the action scenes started great. Mainly because they entirely ripped off the choreography shot for shot from a CG animated show. Not cool, man.
- It's too long for its own good. The mystery is kinda crappy, but it would've worked much, much better in 25 episodes rather than 39.
- It's pretty, yeah. Doesn't save the show unfortunately.
- The story gets dumber as it goes on.
- The villains are bad, just everything from writing to direction to performances, they're cartoony evil.
- Overall it's a fail. I'd say watch it for Victoria Song, or Huang Xuan if you must. (if you're a Wang Yi Bo fangirl, you've already watched it, so..)

(An Bai Tan, mommy, choke me!)

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Completed
Word of Honor
5 people found this review helpful
Jun 15, 2021
36 of 36 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 5.0
Rewatch Value 7.0

Pretty good.

It's fine.
It's quite nice.
It's also super overhyped.
-Visually I'd say it's ...charming. Kind of like the old Shaw Bros movies, splitting at the seams, but serviceable.
-The music is annoyingly saccharine and it could've done without the many slowmo compilations set to awful syrupy ballads.
- I'm not a fan of plots and schemes, but this was an ok story. Reminded me of Love in Between what with all the betrayals and secrets of the older generation, but it wasn't as badly done as in LiB. Things were set up and paid off later, it wasn't as long and drawn out as it could've been.
- The actors were good, with some exceptions. I liked the main duo, but Zhou Ye as Gu Xing was insufferable.
- The main romance varied. In places it was quite nice and enjoyable, in other it was the annoying kind of gay romance written and shot for women who enjoy looking at two pretty boys staring at each other or twirling around. It CAN be done in a way that's reasonably plausible as an actual relationship, or it can be done as pure obnoxious fujoshi fanservice.
This show kind of oscillates between the two.
- The fights are decent, if a bit floaty. (comparing recent wuxia shows - LiB is worse, Ancient Detective is VASTLY superior.)
If I ever rewatch this, it'll be for the story, which is unusual for these types of dramas.

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Nov 8, 2020
30 of 30 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
This review may contain spoilers

Yeah, best Daomu, for what that's worth.

Most of what I wrote for "season 1" holds for this one too.
It's without a doubt the best adaptation of the Daomu Biji series, even a bit more enjoyable than Time Raiders.
This time they really worked on the main characters and they did feel more three dimensional, it genuinely felt like Fatty and Xie had a relationship.
The actors had really good chemistry, almost all of them.
As is quite typical, the actor for Zhang Qiling is stiff as a plank, with about as much acting ability. He's not the worst Kylin there ever was, but it's close.
Newcomers like Bai and Liu Sang were wonderful. This "season" even gave me a drinking scene with drunk Bai, which is a huge plus.
The cast of characters is quite large and unfortunately that means some of them sometimes don't have anything to do, so you get crowds literally standing in the background of many scenes as the main characters do the acting.
But for the most part they really try to give people something to do.
Sometimes it's a bit silly how Shades and Zhang Qiling suddenly disappear, or are somehow held up, so they can't solve the current problem with their superhero fighting abilities. But that's what you have to do when you have characters this powerful. If you want to keep any tension and conflict that is.
The story is a story this time, I wouldn't call it just barebones plot this time. There's set up, there's payoff. They mostly remember to tie off loose ends! (more or less successfully)
There's a mystery that gets solved, explained and is quite clear. This is unusual for Daomu.
There are several villains and all of them have proper motivation and their arcs are resolved by the end. Honestly, from the story standpoint this is shoulders above any of the other Daomu adaptations.

One thing I didn't care for were minor characters who get killed off in oddly unsatisfying ways. There are TWO different girlfriend characters who get fridged pretty much, with one of them being only hinted at surviving at the very end of the show.

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Completed
Squid Game
2 people found this review helpful
Oct 14, 2021
9 of 9 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 5.0
Rewatch Value 7.0

Decent entertainment.

It's competent in most aspects.
The hype honestly makes it a worse experience, because you expect something mindblowing and genre breaking.
It's not that.
It's Battle Royale Fall Guys.
It's mostly enjoyable. The social commentary is a bit heavy handed at times, but it's nice to have it there.
It's not that original, it's not perfect.
It's fine.

(random note: The scenes with English speaking foreigners were hilarious. The writing was mostly ok, but it didn't come off as entirely natural. And combined with not-stellar acting it felt odd. I guess like Asian scenes feel in western movies maybe.)

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Completed
Candle in the Tomb: The Worm Valley
2 people found this review helpful
Sep 15, 2021
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 8.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0

GBotC continues being good

The formula still works.
If you enjoyed the previous series, you'll like Worm Valley.
Most of my other review points still apply - the writing is tight, the story has structure and the pacing is mostly very good. The short length really helps.
There's not a whole ton of character development, because the heroic trio are more iconic than dramatic characters. So Old Hu does his feng shui, Shirley kicks and shoots things and Fatty is greedy and annoying. For the most part it works, but sometimes it was a bit frustrating how one note they could be. (Fatty especially could use SOME development)
The production value is great. I'm not sure this even cost that much money, but it looks excellent - everything from sets, CGI to shot composition are well thought out and executed.
This season we even get wonderful rubber monsters (not a spoiler since they're in the trailer) and more!
The treatment of indigenous people was also mostly ok - they are humanized and act both heroic and villainous depending on character. Cool stuff!
It looks like the story is taking us to snowy freezing Kunlun next, and I can't wait!

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Completed
My Heroic Husband
2 people found this review helpful
Jul 4, 2021
36 of 36 episodes seen
Completed 3
Overall 7.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 6.5

Wife guy saves everything

It's Joy of Life, but a bit different. There, that's the review.
It has all the cool actors from JoL, it has the same approach to humour, the characters are nice and the story is competent if a bit predictable.
In my JoL review I wrote:
"Put simply - the show is all about intrigue and plots, with a side of romance and mystery.
Trouble with this - the intrigue is not very clever or engaging, character motivations are shallow or terribly overcomplicated.
....
I wanna watch Fan Xian and his brother run a book shop, or do poetry battles and flirt with pretty ladies. I don't care who his parents were, or what the two princes are secretly plotting."

MHH improves on this, somewhat. There's no mystery and the annoying courtly intrigue only takes over about half way into the drama. Before that we do get the fun characters doing fun things. And yeah, the second half is suddenly about "Serious Matters" and I immediately liked it a lot less.
The main couple has great chemistry and I loved seeing them together.
The show leans heavily into the girlboss thing, but it's more lip service than the plot actually reflecting that girls can do it too. Like there's a whole huge chunk where the wife is not even present (because we need space for another love interest, which is the same thing I complained about in JoL). And in many other episodes she doesn't really do anything clever or competent, she's just there.

It's fine. It's ok to binge and skip the boring parts. It's fun to watch the many wife guys be cute and a bit useless, it's cute to see the main wife guy's dynamic with his cool wife.
The story I could not care less about. Of course there's a big "twist" at the end, because this is Joy of Life But Different (tm). Whatever.

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