23 March 2015

The Four Episode 1

My first exposure to The Four series was with the TVB version and I loved it. I’m delving into this one hoping it’ll be even better.  Don’t disappoint me!  Although I’m a bit wary of why this took so long to see the day of light when it was filmed ages ago. I’m hoping that having a longer shelf life means better quality and not the opposite. Did I jinx anything?

If I were to summarize episode one right here I’d say it was divided into two parts: the first chunk was purely to show off it`s CGI skills; the second part was dedicated to Janine Chang. 

How do we start off an ancient series? Of course, it’s with the storytelling of legends.

There once was Four Vicious Villains that did anything horrendous you could think of and they were powerful to boot. Thankfully, Lord Zhu Ge was able to contain them in Tian Shan Di Lao (Sky Mountain Dungeon) which is impossible to escape from. But we all know what that means; they escape from it.

And so the Four Vicious Villains, under the commands of An Shi Geng, take revenge against Lord Zhu Ge’s disciples: the Four Imperial Guards.

Cue the Four Imperial Guards: Leng Xie (Cold blood), Zhui Ming, (Chaser), Wu Qing (Heartless), and Tie Shou (Iron Fist).

And so the battle commences with Zhui Ming against Tang Chou, Tie Shou against Zhao Hao, Wu Qing against Tu Wan, and Leng Xie against Yan Zhao.

Zhui Ming (Chaser)
Tang Chou
Some cool wind-blowing going on here. 

Tie Shou (Iron Fist)
Zhao Hao (right corner)

Lots of spinning going on here.

Wu Qing
Tu Wan

Really scary water droplets here.

Leng Xie
Yan Zhao
And the final match up: Ching Ching Cha Cha, Xiiiiing,Gurgle Gurgle. Cruuuush

As we transition between the fighting scenes:
  • First match up is messing with space-time continuum with all that force-field and teleportation.
  • Second match up – Iron Fist: who needs weapons? Hands are the new weapons.
  • Third match up – Hui Hah Hi!

But as Wu Qing defeats Tu Wan, the Six Instigate Department comes and snags his prisoner.

The fight continues on for the other three imperial guards but it suddenly snows and everyone’s alert. 

An Shi Geng
Okay now here’s the real deal: slow-mo magic. No he’s not stretching. An Shi Geng now summons his four cloaked men. They appear from under the ground to attack Leng Xie but they’re not normal men anymore; they’re snow. I KNOW. So, how are they supposed to attack now? I mean they’re fluffy snow. But turns out they don’t need to. They can just freeze Leng Xie. So nice….

Leng Xie’s is frozen from top to bottom – but wait, there’s red light in his eyes.

Yan Zhao takes advantage of his frozen opponent and decides to deliver the fatal blow. On cue, the other three Imperial Guards come to save Leng Xie but then they get frozen too. 

But of course Leng Xie can use his inner hot bloodedness to overcome the ice (regardless of his name meaning cold-blooded) and thaws his buddies too. A fire aura is oozing out of his body and with one blow, seriously one blow, the four cloacked men are simultaneously down. That move has a name: Tian Lang Bian Hua Shou (Sky Wolf Hand). Oh I’m going to have so much fun with these translations. It’s a move that Leng Xie had wanted to master but couldn’t because his blood was too warm (what irony) hence being frozen aided him in enabling that move.

Its sunrise and An Shi Geng oversees his men’s defeat one by one but is totally cool about it as he checks himself out in his pocket mirror.

Flying in, Nine Tailed Fox curtly greets the Royal Lord. She tells him that she’s completed his orders and asks about her request. An Shi Geng firmly tells her that until she’s completely finished her assignment then does she have the right to even bring up her request.

As the Four Imperial Guards defeat the Four Vicious Villains, Commander Han of Liu Shan Men comes to steal the credit. They proclaim their rights to capture the defeated criminals because they’re the official governors of the capital city under the Majesty’s edict.

Ji Yao Hua (on left)

Before the hot blooded Zhui Ming can argue any further, they get informed by Ji Yao Hua, another Imperial Guard, of four other brutal cases elsewhere in the city in which each has left an entire household slaughtered. It’s only now that they realize they’ve fallen for the enemy’s trap: they were distracted by the fights here rendering them incapable of protecting the households that have now befallen.

The imperial guards all retreat to the households and asses the crime scene. The cause of fatality was strangulation but miraculously not a single mark was left behind. The murderer was none other than the Nine Tailed Fox using her magical tails to fatally ensnare her victims’ neck.

And then with some mist all the corpses disappeared.

Unbeknownst of the identity of the murderer, they all believe it’s the doing of a demon. That is, everyone except Leng Xie; he doesn’t believe in demons, rather its only humans that blame it on demons.  

So that’s it for the first part of episode. Phew. We’re finally done with all that CGI overload. 

Chu Ying Xue

In the normal world without CGI, Chu Ying Xue is being chased by a herd of men. She diverts their effort by tossing all her jewellery to create a havoc. As the crowd block that herd of men, she runs away but ends up running straight into her dad. Her dad’s furious as he catches her.

However at home, he’s on his knees begging for forgiveness. Or more like he’s pleading her daughter to not run away and obediently enter the palace because she was chosen to become an imperial maiden. Otherwise, if they were to decline the royal edict, their entire family will be punished fatally by His Majesty. However, Chu Ying Xue fervently refuses. Her step mother pitches in to convince her too. Chu Ying Xue refuses to listen and suggests to her stepmother why doesn’t she offer up her own daughter to his Majesty instead. The mother-daughter pair both insist that the Majesty’s too old for her. Even the dad agrees. And yet he’s not too old for Chu Ying Xue who’s (19 and) only one year older than her step sister.

The dad continues to persuade Chu Ying Xue by guilt-tripping; he brings up Chu Ying Xue’s birth mother who ran away from home. The logic is like so: with the lack of motherly love, the dad doesn’t know how to nurture her so the palace will nurture Chu Ying Xue for him. Chu Ying Xue falters at that, oh god. However, she shakes off that moment of falter and stands her ground; she threatens to commit suicide

The stepmother pretends to retreat and offer a cup of tea as an apology. Guess what? It’s drugged and Chu Ying Xue faints. What else did you expect? I like that before she faints, she lifts her elbow up to cushion her fall.

When she wakes up, she’s in a carriage with a group of other girls also entering the court to become maidens. Poor girl. No one wants to enter the court because that essentially means the end to their freedom. Being an imperial maiden means that they exist only to be chosen among thousands by the Majesty to become consorts and even that is often scarier than rotting their lives away. 

He Xiao Yu

One of the girls, He Xiao Yu, ran away but is caught within minutes. Her punishment is to be bestowed to Eunich Zhang. I guess that means atrocity to the nth degree. However, Cue Ying Xue comes to rescue – she is our leading lady. She flatters the guards then convinces them that they should look to the future and deter He Xiao Yu’s punishment. This is her logic: the girl’s chances of being a consort is high because she’s so beautiful thus once she gains power she’ll benefit the guards because she’ll be forever grateful to her saviours today. The guards suck it all up and hold back on He Xiao Yu’s punishment.

Back in the carriage, Chu Ying Xue learns why He Xiao Yu was so intent on escaping: she is betrothed to Young Master Zhang who has now become mentally ill after learning of her enlistment to the palace. What a weak guy. Chu Ying Xue pities her and plans their escape.

A feast is held that night and Chu Ying Xue happily announces to the guards that she handpicked all the dishes. The guards cheer. But it’s not like she’s paying for them… She also prepared a performance with her sisterhood (without any practice that is). Finally, she provides alcohol for every table. So being drugged wasn’t enough, she decides to drug the Majesty’s guards. Almost simultaneously, all of the guards pass out. The girls take the chance to leave but will they succeed?  


After watching the first episode I pretty much know nothing about the Four Imperial Guards. I feel like I’m lost at what’s to come. Janine Chang’s acting was slightly overdone but I am impressed with her ability to cry on the spot; she really did seem pitiful in that carriage scene. Other than that there’s not much for me to judge. Well there is that awesome CGI… I wonder how much more of that I have to absorb. I think I’ve had a slight overdose already.

Related links:
The Four Episode 2-12

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