Tuesday, September 17, 2013

[ER] Bu Bu Jing Xin / 步步惊心 [TV/China][2011][Re-watch]

This is a collection of various commentaries and opinions about this series under one post. If you see this at the top, this means it is updated. For more under this post, do click the Read More button. I welcome your comments and your thoughts as well so do use Post A Comment and do indicate which episode you're talking about. Since this is a threaded comment system, you can reply directly to any given comments you wish to reply to. When this is done, I will move this to Reviews Database. For previous posts on the same subject with more write ups, pictures, buying links and more, do check out the Archive Blog.


Title: 步步惊心 / Bu Bu Jing Xin
English title: Scarlet Heart (Nobody calls it this title! NOBODY!)
Also known as: Startling By Each Step
Broadcast network: Hunan TV

Produced by : Tangren
Episodes: 35
Year release: 2011
Original writing (novel): Bu Bu Jing Xin (步步惊心) by Tong Hua (桐华)
Original OST : Download here coming soon as old link is dead link


I will add to this list in terms of links to write ups on the real counterparts as I go along. Most are real.

Liu Shi Shi as Maertai Ruo Xi / Zhang Xiao
Nicky Wu as Yin Zhen/Yong Zheng (4th Prince)(Real)
Kevin Cheng as Yin Si (8th Prince)
Yuan Hong as Yin Xiang (13th Prince)
Lin Geng Xin as Yin Ti (14th Prince)
Han Dong as Yin Tang (9th Prince)
Ye Zu Xin as Yin'e (10th Prince)
Damian Lau as Kangxi Emperor (Real)
Zhang Lei as Yin Reng (Crown Prince)
Chen Jing Yu (陈镜宇) as Yin Zhi (3rd Prince)
Wang Xiao Dong (王小东) as Yin Qi (5th Prince)
Annie Liu as Maertai Ruo Lan
Shi Xiao Qun as Gorolo Ming Hui
Liu Yu Xin as Gorolo Ming Yu
Guo Zhen Ni as Lu Wu
Dai Chun Rong as Consort De
Liu Jie (刘洁) as Consort Liang
Mu Ting Ting as Lady Ulanara
Lu Mei Fang (陆梅芳) as Lady Nian (ep.27)
Deng Li Min as Li De Quan
Cao Xin Yue as Qiao Hui
Ye Qing as Yu Tan
Wang Jia Hui as child Yu Tan
Zhou Yan Cheng (周彦呈) as Wang Xi
Kang Ming Tong (康铭桐) as Yun Xiang
Hu Zhong Hu (胡中虎) as Gao Wu Yong
Qi Qing Lin as Li Fu
Shen Bao Ping as Zhang Qian Ying
Guo Xiao Ting as Suwan Guwalgiya Min Min
Ba Sen as Prince Suwan Guwalgiya
Zheng Kai as Irgen Gioro Zuo Ying
Chai Wei as Cheng Huan
Qu Ao Hui as Hong Shi
Xing Han Qing as Nian Geng Yao
Zhao Jia Lin (赵家林) as Longkodo
Gao Sen (高森) as Li Guang Di
Lian Te Yue (连特约) as Physician He
Ma Tian Yu as Huang Di (guest)

- Series of excellent opinions at Koala's Playground (scroll down to Bu Bu Jing Xin)

I skipped episodes 3, 4 and 5 and zoom straight to episodes 6 and 7. I find it  strange that I can't remember certain scenes but most are still fresh in my memory. Such as creepy brother in law aka 8th prince making a move on the young sister of his 2nd wife, and that is Ruoxi by the way. Still creepy to me. Also the scene where Ruoxi was taught how to ride a horse by the strictest teacher, 4th prince and I truly didn't remember the aftermath until I rewatch and there was Ruoxi confessing that she remembered everything 4th said and done during that funny lesson. Which means he was memorable to her. Also she remembered his answer is "Living in the moment" when she posed to him a question of someone being in an unwakeable dream in I believe Episode 2. She actually quoted him in these episodes. I never noticed these little things until now! The signs are all there; she never truly loved 8th and she was not yet falling for 4th now but there were indications. At the same time she seems so reluctant to consider 8th as prospective husband, I believe in part because she doesn't want to share a husband but mostly because you know, I think she too feels it is creepy. 

Anyway these 2 episodes boasted some of the best Kevin Cheng scenes. I love how he lit up when Ruolan agreed to ride a horse, I love how he described meeting Ruolan to Ruoxi, you can see this was a man deeply in love with his wife but alas, his wife I think resented him, rather than pure hatred. That scene was a little sad as well because I remember quite clearly how he described seeing her for the first time, and the words he used were very romantic, very poetic and descriptive. When Ruolan denied him yet again (I believe she did not deny the conjugal visits but I suppose she was like a dead log of wood in bed), he decided to pursue his happiness in her lookalike that is Ruoxi. I believe he never loved Ruoxi as deeply as he loved Ruolan. Ruoxi was a substitute much as 8th was a stepping stone to 4th for Ruoxi although not deliberately. Love that scene and Kevin was wonderful in there; those dreamy eyes, small smiles, etc.

And I realise I can't stand Ruolan's stand in all these. She knew in her heart it wasn't really 8th's fault. Her father was the ultimate bad guy. She too in her own way contributed to her lover's death by her cold attitude to 8th in the beginning. She was banking on a guy whom she knew she will have no future with because her father would not allow it. She was actually married off to I feel the best of the princes in terms of temperament, looks and nature. But she was never appreciative of that fact. She mourned for her dead lover and because of that, in her own way as 8th puts it, she too was punishing him. At that point of time, it was 5 years of marriage. Minghui, the 1st wife aka difujin of 8th came into the family later and already has a son. I believe 8th had more wives because one scene one of the maids or someone mentioned about 8th's wives that was beyond just Minghui and Ruolan. He can't just have 2 wives. Same goes for everyone except for 10th as he was a late bloomer. Anyway Ruolan is too stubborn to realise happiness was within her reach and she survives by wallowing in her grief for someone she never had a chance with, at all. How silly. Poor 8th. I felt for him when I first watched this series and I feel for him more even now. I can understand why he looks to Ruoxi because Ruoxi looks like Ruolan. One scene, much earlier when he and 10th took Ruoxi to ride horses and he looked at Ruoxi expectantly when she was told to get up on the horse and she admitted she doesn't know how to ride one and I swear I saw a crestfallen 8th. That was how obvious and yet subtle Kevin's performance was.

Basically these 2 episodes I watched show to me how a good role can benefit an actor usually known to be mediocre. Kevin's movements (without much energy which translates well into being soft spoken and well mannered, not a sign of weakness), the way he looks, the way he stares, etc. Fantastic stuff. Compare that to Nicky's 4th prince, look at the way he walks, like BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! with force and purpose, the way he stares, usually with skepticism. Again fantastic stuff.

Problem is our dear Ruoxi herself. I find the way she jumps in character is as jarring as the time jump in this series. Oh yes, I still dislike her or Cecilia's performance. As much as I detested 14th's chauvinistic ways but then he was a man of his time. I also hate how he distrusts his own full brother and goes running after a half brother. Lin Gengxin is wonderful for his debut performance by the way.

Damien Lau is weak as Kangxi, mainly because I don't expect Kangxi to behave that way.

Anyway nothing is as jarring as the time jump, like I said above. I hate how the time just moves forward to 2 or 3 years later without any indication except for falling leaves and minute change of seasons. But again I now noticed the little things; like how 8th ignored Minghui for probably 2 years after she botched his arrangement for Ruoxi in the palace. I would have wished for narration of how much time actually flies.

I will be skipping episodes 8 and 9 since I don't want to watch the worst 2 episodes in this series; where 14th goes into disguise and Kangxi is the world's biggest hypocrite in light of how he will in the end treat 13th as opposed to how he reacted to the news of a dying son, 18th prince I think. 

I am watching Bu Bu Jing Xin, again after a long time. But since I know the episodes by heart, I will be skipping about 3 episodes so that I don't need to go through those draggy moments in the beginning. My opinion of the first 2 episodes is still the same. I love them, costume, dialogue, everything. I am however still not happy with Cecilia Liu's performance, then or now. If it had been a better actress, perhaps this series will be even more memorable than just a pretty young girl surrounded by hot looking princes, most of them much better actors, 2 of them giving breakthrough performances. I have yet to reach Damien Lau's appearance as Kangxi so I can't say I feel the same way as I did before but since I am a staunch fan of the CCTV series which Bu Bu Jing Xin was clearly inspired by, that is Yong Zheng Wang Chao's version of Kangxi, I don't think my feelings have changed much at all. Now, the great news with watching this series this time is I found a good fansub version online. There is even a crappier version in terms of video but excellent English subs, thanks to Mediacorp, Singapore in Youtube. The bad news is the English title, Scarlet Heart is still crappy. But to some fans, perhaps that title is apt to describe Ruoxi's indecisive heart. Or rather her heart is decisive but her mind is never decisive. The sequel which I hope is not a direct sequel is coming soon, to milk the honey rather than to create a sequel worthy of this series. I have always hoped this series will end the story of Ruoxi/ Zhang Xiao at the end of episode 35. More poetic, a final end to a miserable beginning. Yes, I still hate Zhang Xiao/Ruoxi. Anyway let's see if my perspective change as I watch this series, again. Sometimes it will.

Anyway still love the various introduction to the princes, especially 4th Prince. Very mysterious and all that. Can hardly believe this was in 2011!! And guess what? I just realised I never wrote a review for this series! How can that be?! Sacrilege! I must rectify that, so just assume this [O] aka Opinion as a semi review!

And here is my review for the first 2 episodes.

I am still confused if Zhang Xiao sees Ruoxi with her own face or another face. We do know she was mid 20s and Ruoxi was 16 years old. And unlike the crap known as Gong, she did not get transported wholesale. She was in fact electrocuted and her soul left her Zhang Xiao body in Beijing and traveled back in time into Ruoxi's body. You can say her consciousness got transported if you don't believe in the soul thing. So I was very confused, even now, when she saw herself in the mirror, as she was shocked by the length of her hair, who she saw? Was Ruoxi her lookalike? But she was never shocked at the fact that even if they were lookalike, she was a good 10 years younger than her modern self. The book I believe addressed that; clearly she was someone else since in the book she was 13 years old. But the series? Skipped. Not one word.

I also would have loved a bit more background on her modern self. In fact since the entire series is her modern sensibilities versus her ancient practicalities, it would have been nice to see how she was back in modern world. We see a tiny glimsp of a modern independent woman pissed off with her cheating boyfriend. But that was it. So along the way I wouldn't blame you if you kinda get detached from the fact that this girl time traveled.I also don't like the fact that her modern sensibilities so readily accepted the fact that she time traveled, all within 1st 10 minutes of the 1st episode. There was no questions, no doubt, no denial, no slow acceptance but straight into "Oh yeah I time traveled because I got hit by a car and got electrocuted in the process!" I also feel perhaps a bit on how she adapts to life in the past would have been great instead of the short snippets of crying for ice creams, air conditioners and what nots. How about toilets? Bathing? All personal hygiene stuff? Would have been nice to see her struggled at life in the past, even if she is living as the sister of a well married and well to do wife to the 8th prince. Of course the book may have skipped this part but then a bit more on this would have made me sympathise with Ruoxi rather than feeling a bit overwhelmed that she was not overwhelmed at all. I feel one episode of modern world, 2 episodes of denial and then launch into the whole adapting to lifestyle in the past for 2 episodes would have made this series more complete.

I am still annoyed by Cecilia's performance of the immature or child like Zhang Xiao when in the modern world she wasn't so child like, at least not for the 8 minutes or so. Back in Qing time, suddenly not only was she running after rabbits because she was bored, she ran after the rabbits in an age appropriate child like wonder, same like how she ran to her sister, Ruolan. I find that very inconsistent. I feel there should be an old aura to her already, after all I do believe at the start her soul is same age as 4th prince and she is older than the rest of the princes.

That aside, I noticed some details in the 10th prince birthday celebration party in episode 2. Like there was a 12th prince who had some dialogue but disappeared later on and there was another unnamed and unnumbered prince IN yellow so he must have been higher ranked than 4th? Except everyone deferred to 4th so I wonder who that young man was? And I love how everyone deferred to 4th. The hierarchy is clear.

Other than that, not much to say so far. I still don't like Zhang Xiao/Ruoxi.

1 comment:

  1. I like your Bu Bu Jing Xin post, but I disagree that Ruo Xi was childish in the Qing Dynasty. I If Ruo Xi was as mature as Zhang Xiao in the Qing Dynasty, it would have been creepy because Ruo Lan was supposed to be the older sister. Some people believe that Zhang Xiao started to have Ruo Xi's personality at some point in the series.