5 April 2015

The Four Review (Episode 2 - 12)

Yes, I gave up on recapping this. If I were to continue recapping, I’d be too busy nitpicking and not enjoying the show. I’ll be frank, the acting’s way below par and the storyline…well it’s a bit too fluffy with no substance and too much CG. After the first few episodes I thought I was just going to check in and check out once in a while but I ended up not only being caught up, I also find myself thinking about it once in a while. I think I’m a little addicted – I mean additions are usually on the bad stuff, right? I’m actually a sucker for the romance between Leng Xue and Chu Li Mo and for the backdrop of four handsome guys spinning around – I mean fighting – and solving cases.

The Men:

So the four boys. Oh how I wished they worked more on the bromance than their individual romance. You can’t put them four together and not make some snap, crackle, and pop. You’ve got so much potential to work with and you just let it go to waste. Make them argue; make them fight; make them joke; make them do something together instead of pulling them apart at every chance! When they do get together, it’s only a plot device for them to update us about other people/criminals (I separate criminal from people because I don't know whether they're humans in this drama). I swear that’s Zhui Ming’s only purpose in the show right now: to update us on behind the scenes. The four individually don’t have stellar acting – that’s the kind way of putting it btw – but I do believe (or I sincerely hope) that putting them together might compensate for the lack of acting talents.

Okay, let’s start off with Zhui Ming. He’s the only guy that knows how to have fun, thus he’s the clown of the crew. He’s way behind the rumor mill which makes him the perfect plot device to let us know what’s going on when all the characters already know the gist. He’s got a crush on the Princess for years now, since he was just half a decade old apparently. However, unlucky for him the bratty Princess only has eyes for Leng Xue like every other girl (while the remaining girls like Wu Qing). He’s basically the only guy that’s got no one crushing on him. Poor him. Fortunately, he’s also the only guy that doesn’t have a gloomy past, at least not that I know of yet. Because of the lack of a terrible past, he’s very much carefree. He’s also a pretty sweet guy because all these years, no matter how small the holiday is, he’ll be sure to buy a present for the Princess regardless of the backlash he gets from his buddy, Tie Shou.

I find Tie Shou very handsome– an actual contender to Leng Xue and Wu Qing, but his acting… ai-yah. (Btw, sorry for William Chan’s fans, he doesn’t attract me too much as of yet – I’m also not too familiar with him as an actor nor a singer). He’s good-looking and all but that doesn’t compensate for his lack of screen presence and boring acting. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember Tie Shou isn’t suppose to say much but his aloof presence is nowhere to be seen. He’s romancing Gui Gui who’s acting as Yi Yi. No chemistry whatsoever. The excuse of him treating her like a sister for now will not bypass the lack of chemistry. However, it’s not just his acting that’s affecting the chemistry, the storyline and Gui Gui aren’t helping either. The show has her popping out of nowhere and blindly loving Tie Shou. I hope you can hear me rolling my eyes. Her so called reason is because he saved her some time ago and so she decided to dedicate her entire life to him. Ugh.

Tie Shou got basically no connection to the other two Imperial Guards/Deputies Leng Xue and Wu Qing. Such a waste of potential. Meh. His backdrop is that he lost his sister. It’s a tad more touching, I think, but I remember not paying attention to that part of the narrative when he exposed his past to Yi Yi/Gui Gui. Sorry Tie Shou but I do want you to improve.

Wu Qing. I quite love his look and character; they meld very well together but I hear the actor himself is much more rowdier than he appears. His acting isn’t that much better than the other two; it’s rather lackluster and I don’t feel his pain ever so slightly. (It’s interesting to note that Raymond Lam played his character too but in the Hong Kong/TVB version, he was the main character.) Basically, he’s like his name –emotionless. His character sort of overlaps with Leng Xue except his gloomy past involved him being too emotional over a girl, Ru Yi. Although they were both in love with each other, Ru Yi had to abandon Wu Qing and marry another man; the reason for her change of heart remains unclear. However, on the day of her wedding, she committed suicide leaving Wu Qing mourning for her to this day, hence he’s called Emotionless. And his girl happens to look exactly the same as An Shi Geng’s (dead) girl, Die Wu. I don’t know what’s going on there but they’re for sure different people. However, it seems An Shi Geng currently has a girl that looks exactly like Ru Yi/Die Wu. Me thinks it’s Ru Yi that he kidnapped/brought back to life to attempt to replace Die Wu (if she’s replaceable to An Shi Geng).

Anyways, I don’t have much interest in Wu Qing (I know he’s good looking but his acting is so boring), I just want Chu Li Mo to get over her crush on him so she can move onto Leng Xue.

Leng Xue. Zheng Han leads the Four Imperial Guards with his acting. However, that’s not much of a praise since his crew is quite subpar. He’s doing what he does best: a cold-hearted prowess in whatever he does but has kind intentions that no one picks up on. It’s hard to go wrong if you’re playing safe and sticking to the same character over and over again. However, I do want to praise Zhang Han for making himself look ugly. Seriously. He’s actually very ugly when his character is overtaken by the wolf-poisoned blood in him. See below. 

Initially, I thought they used another actor but it’s actually him. LOL. I find Zhang Han more like-able (not that I didn’t like him before) when he’s willing to ruin his image like this.

My favourite part is when Chu Li Mo is the only one that can contain the monster in him. Again, I’m a huge sucker for romances like these (hence why I fell in love with Twilight but then fell out of love with all the annoying hype and the utter disaster of the movie). So that goes without saying that Episode 12 was my favourite because of this one particular scene (Beware of episode counts, there’s two versions out there and the one I’m watching does not consistently cap the episodes at 45 minutes).

This whole wolf-poisoned blood business is traced back to his past where his entire family is destroyed overnight and to this day he doesn’t know who the criminal responsible for their deaths is. So Leng Xue is the only survivor of the Wolf clan/cult/whatever. However, his distinct wolf-ish nature is also slowly killing him if he doesn’t suppress the hate/revenge-feels he has.  

Now then, I’d like to take a moment to commend An Shi Geng, in other words, the best character to grace this show yet. Mickey He really showcases his excellence and years of experience over the younger cast. He seems to have adopted a eunuch-like character into his portrayal of An Shi Geng and its perfect. His voice actor also captures his rather transgender feels quite well. I loved it in Episode 1 where he pulls out a mirror randomly. His expressions, I’d like to say are on point, but they’re more like beyond my expectations.

He adds more depth to his character when we see that he’s a pretty timid (normal) guy through his past with Die Wu. He’s the King’s brother and was doing fine on his own with his lover until the King summoned his lover, renowned for her beautiful dances, to perform for him. So, Die Wu was sent to the palace but never returned. An Shi Geng, mourning for Die Wu, basically goes crazy and his hair completely whitened. Yes, he had black hair oddly enough.

The Women: 

Chu Li Mo. I never saw Janine Chan as a weak actress but seeing her trying to act the clever and happy-go-lucky girl by overacting slightly pains me. However, she does ace the crying scenes. Tears just come out so naturally and touching for her. I’m just going to go with the fact that since Leng Xue doesn’t have much emotions, her overacting will somehow compensate. Screw logic.

There's also Yao Hua, acted by Jia Qing who I'd like to argue has the most acting talent amongst the female cast. She's devoted to Leng Xue but I can't wait until she turns evil when she realizes Leng Xue's heart lies with Chu Li Mo only.

The Romance:

Chu Li Mo is from a rich family but because she ran away from being a court maiden, she is wanted (as a criminal) and almost beheaded if it weren’t for the Four Imperial Guards. Initially, the Four were supposed to capture her but they all admired her bravery to escape from her dismaying fate – that is, except Leng Xue. However, it’s three against one and Leng Xue is coerced to aid in trafficking Li Mo to safety. Hence she’s now a maid for the imperial guards. Shi Zhu Ge Zheng Wo, the master of the all the imperial guards, discovers her ability to read mind(/heart). And thus, oh so conveniently, she becomes the key to control Leng Xue’s wolf-poisoned blood from taking over his body. Her powers also allow her to become Leng Xue’s personal maid. Now, that’s the fun part! For now there’s just a few scenes I like that the show took advantage by making them share a room. However a few of them are Chu Li Mo’s imaginations. So not cool, show. I do like Chu Li Mo getting to talk to him while he’s sleeping but you can do so much more while he’s sleeping, LOL. However, please don’t give me another scene like the one where he saves her from the Princess’s arrow. I mean I like getting the two together but that was way too fake.

Being the superficial me, this is the sole reason gravitating me towards the show. Heh (:

The Loophole:

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to swallow the loopholes the show is force-feeding me with.  Much of the loopholes falls onto Chu Li Mo and her mind reading abilities. Twilight anyone? I think I'm alone on this. If she can read everyone, then at the test centre, shouldn’t she be able to pick up on the reason why the girl needed to cheat? Even before that, Chu Li Mo should have detected why Yao Hua wanted her to butt out. But no, she doesn’t. She only finds out when someone verbally tells her. So let’s just say she hasn’t quite mastered her powers yet, but what about the annoying spy that An Shi Geng sent to spread magic powder that overboils Leng Xue’s wolf-poisoned blood (in Episode 12). She saw someone suspicious but she didn’t report it because she was emotionally traumatized from what happened at the test centre for revealing the thoughts of one person. Hence she decides to not report this guy’s thoughts even if they were about destroying Leng Xue or something along those lines…
The show simply can’t handle Chu Li Mo’s mind reading abilities. They should have limited her powers to the presence of eye contact only and not be powerful enough so that it works even when she closes her eyes or is just passing by. At this rate, I feel like this loophole will only continue to expand and they’ll need to find excuses upon excuses to explain why she can’t read/reveal the thoughts at one time or another.

The Big Evil?

At the moment, I don’t exactly know what the Big Evil is the Four Imperial Guards are up against. They’re just  fighting whatever An Shi Geng is throwing at them but they’re only little squids for now. We’re 12 episodes in but the show seems to have opened a lot of endeavours for things to go wrong. I just hope there’s enough episodes for them to solve it and have CHARACTERIZATION along with the resolution. Please. 

Last Comment:

Given all the bad (and there’s quite a lot), I’ve fallen victim to the show for its superficiality and backdrop. I think I do quite well glossing over the bad with the few amount of goods when I’m watching. I think I did the same while reading Twilight as I was absorbed with the romance I saw no flaws. (And I might be a lone wolf in hoping that it'll ignite my Twilight feels.) However, if I’m writing, all wrath shall be unraveled. Thus, let’s stay away from that and just enjoy the show while I numb my brain of logic and open my heart to romance.

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