Da Mo Yao, the show that I’ve been waiting years to watch, finally aired on Hunan TV on October 1st. The show is based off of my favorite Chinese novel written by Tong Hua.
Expectations were high since I love the cast and thought they would suit their roles perfectly and of course, the production company is the same one behind the beautifully written, directed and acted show that was Bu Bu Jin Xin (Startling By Each Step), based on another book by Tong Hua. However, when I finally watced the show, something was missing. It’s still an enjoyable viewing experience, and I’m glad that I can see my favorite book manifest itself as a television show, but it’s not a tightly produced as I would have hoped. The costumes and hairstyles are decent but the set itself, while gorgeous, continually reminds me that it is still just a set thus I am unable to truly immerse myself in the show. Of course the Han dynasty is a harder period to depict than a drama set during the Qing dynasty with the Forbidden Palace as its backdrop. And don’t get me started on the atrocious CGI employed in this show *shakes head*.
Another criticism is the fact that there’s a lot of exposition which tells us things instead of showing it to us. I understand there’s a limitation when trying to portray what would have been Xiao Yue’s thoughts and memories onto the screen for viewers that have never read the novel. Also, although I love Liu Shi Shi, she still has difficulties playing youthful, carefree characters but I hope she’ll get more into the character as we delve deeper into the love triangle and the political intrigue that made the novel so fascinating to read. Finally, it probably doesn’t help that since I read the novel many times over, I constantly critique the moments where the show deviates from the book. I know I’m being overly critical and am trying really hard to appreciate the show as it’s own separate entity and give it some freedom for creativity.
Although the show didn’t meet my extremely high expectations going in, I still like it a lot (hopefully it’ll become love soon) and I will definitely be writing about it here and there, mostly by presenting my favorite scenes from the show as we move ahead. In full disclosure, I’m a fan of the Huo Qu Bing aka Wei Wu Ji–Jin Yu aka Xin Yue pairing so my posts will be biased and lean heavily towards that couple. And probably Eddie Peng and his abs…
Here is the cast and the role they play:
Liu Shi Shi as Xin Yue (Jin Yu) aka Xiao Yue aka Yue Er
Eddie Peng as Wei Wuji aka Xiao Wei
Hu Ge as Mo Xun aka Jiu Ye
Kristal as Hong Gu
Maggie Cheung as Wan Yu Jin
Fala Chen as Qin Xiang
Han Dong as Li Ji
Episode 3: Duo Flute Playing
Although mostly a wordless scene, I thought it was beautiful how Xiao Yue and Jiu Ye managed to synchronize their flute playing . It also helped that the song in question was “White Hair Ballad” by Della Ding (below), which I have been playing on repeat recently.
Episode 3: Elevator Scene
A sweet moment that really shows how much thought and consideration Xiao Yue approaches Jiu Ye with.
Episode 3: Reunion
Xiao Yue: Master Wei’s presence, our Luo Yu Fang suddenly became colder.
Wu Ji: If the real General Wan is like this, then he won’t be killing the fierce tribes, they’ll be killing him. But the Princess’ dance routine is quite good. We can just ignore the rest. Also, I have a question for you
Xiao Yue: Please ask, Lord Wei.
Wu Ji: You’re not upset with me? That time in the desert, I didn’t give you my real identity. But you can still call me Xiao Wei.
Xiao Yue: You believe I’m from the Southern Dynasty now?
Wu Ji: I don’t know. Your appearance was very suspicious and you were very familiar with the desert landscape. You call yourself a citizen of the Southern Dynasty but you do not know the land of the Southern Dynasty at all. Don’t you think it’ll be strange if I’m not even a little suspicious? But I realized you indeed do not have evil intentions after traveling with you. But I had important business so it was not convenient to give you my real identity. Xin Yue, can you accept my explanation?
Xiao Yue: I am familiar with the desert because I grew up with wolves. We have the ability to never get lost in the desert.
Wu Ji: Even though you’re from the Dynasty, you never lived in the main cities
Xiao Yue: Therefore, I’m unfamiliar with everything. But maybe I am from nowhere. My home is with the wolf pack. This is all I can share. Do you believe me?
Wu Ji: I believe. Whatever you don’t want to share, I believe you will one day share it with me while holding my hand.
Xiao Yue: You really are a very overconfident and arrogant person
Wu Ji: It’s not arrogance. I have an ability, as long as I look into the other person’s eyes I can read the other person’s intentions. You’ve been in this city for over half a year, making a living off of song and dance. If you know my identity, why not seek me out? What if I had not come here?
Xiao Yue: When I wanted to find you, I didn’t know where you were. By the time I found out, I didn’t think meeting you would make that much of a difference.
Wu Ji: Then what is your goal in writing this play? To enter the palace? I had thought you were a desert miracle. Or do you want to become empress.
Xiao Yue: I’m doing fine right now, why would I want to seek out that kind of place?
Wu Ji: Is it for her? (points to actress on stage)
Xiao Yue: Her aspirations are innocent, just want to take this chance and help herself find a good destination or at least to live comfortably. I don’t force others to do what I would refuse. I also don’t think she would be happy in that kind of place.
Wu Ji: Then what exactly is this for?
Xiao Yue: The person I’m doing this for…is her.
Wu Ji: The princess? You say you were raised by wolves; I think you meant foxes. Pour me a glass of tea.
Xiao Yue: Why should I?
Wu Ji: You should, because the princess will ask me, ”Wu Ji ah, have you seen that play at Luo Yu Fang? It’s called Hua Yue Nong” and I’m really not sure how to reply…
Xiao Yue: Mr. Wei, is there anything else you need? I will prepare it.
Wu Ji: This play you’ve written, has been planned out carefully. Every sentence has been scrutinized. But you left me earlier without a second thought and went to welcome the Master of Shi House. Are you not afraid I would be angry?
Xiao Yue: He is my superior, if my superior came, would I not go and welcome him?
Wu Ji: Is that so? Then you’re saying I can’t even compare to a superior.
Servant: Young Master, Aunt Hong requests an appearance.
Aunt Hong: Mister Wei, I’m sorry.
Wu Ji: If there’s something, just say it.
Aunt Hong: Yue Er, Jiu Ye is angry. He’s scolding Lord Wu right now.
Xiao Yue: I know. I will go there immediately.
Aunt Hong: Alright.
Xiao Yue: I have to leave first. Looks like you’re not a petty person so don’t intentionally make things hard for me anymore. I have to go plead for forgiveness. The situation is already miserable.
Wu Ji: You’re pretty bold as an employee. Without the employer’s consent, you dare to arrange a play based on the Royal family’s personal affairs. Do you need me to accompany you? Don’t be so hard on yourself. If Shi Fang doesn’t want you, my mansion wants you.
After arriving in Jian An City and knowing nobody there, Xiao Yue hoped that she would see Wei Wu Ji at the end of the corridor, but it just meant to be and instead it was Jiu Ye that greeted her and since then, she has given her heart of him. But Wei Wu Ji has also finally managed to track her down and makes no attempt to hide is liking towards Xiao Yue and the lengths he’ll go to protect her.
Episode 5: Soaking Wet Wu Ji
Xiao Yue: I said so. Go along the water road and the wet chicken will be found! In Jian An City, the Emperor at the top, commoners at the bottom, all pay attention to clothing. They’ve always said that Mister Wei, which is you, always has a Yu Guan hairdo, and with an extraordinary tolerance. And yet, you’ve come to this fate, making a laughingstock out of yourself. Maybe you’ll become a joke in the Royal court. It’s really pitiful.
Wu Ji: Thank you, house master, for your passionate hospitality.
Xiao Yue: You’re welcome, you’re welcome. It’s what I should do.
Wu Ji: But, I don’t think anything is funny. Please don’t laugh so exaggerated. I’ll take my leave. (Directed towards crowd that have gathered) What is so funny? This is called a moist outfit. It’s the most fashionable right now. As long as it sits upon a horse, it will spit out water. I believe that this set of moist clothes, will lead the style in the Royal court, making all the officials fight to follow it. (To Xiao Yue and Aunt Hong) At that time, I’ll gift each of you a set.
Aunt Hong: Thank you.
Just thought this scene was hilarious. Love how Wu Ji just plays off the fact that he’s soaking wet as if it’s the en vogue style. Also shows Wu Ji and Xiao Yue’s bickering rapport and how he let’s her get away with so much stuff as long as she’s happy.
Episode 7: Wu Ji Takes Xiao Yue to an “Ethnic” Dance Party
Wu Ji: It looks like the relationship between you and Jiu Ye isn’t shallow. It doesn’t seem like you’re just friends.
Xiao Yue: Jiu Ye treats me very well. Honestly, he is not just a friend. I feel like I owe him.
Wu Ji: Owe him what?
Xiao Yue: I don’t know how to say it. In any case, without Jiu Ye, the me right now wouldn’t exist.Actually when I first came to Jian An, I always hoped I would encounter you. In the end, Jiu Ye found me first.
Wu Ji: There are so many things, if it’s missed, then it’s missed.
Xiao Yue: Whether it’s a loss or gain, right now, haven’t I still encountered you?
Wu Ji: Even though the difference is small, but what I lost is huge. But it doesn’t matter. Even if it’s fighting in war, there’s also times when mistakes happen. As long as it’s corrected in time, rush on a fast horse, and continue on a restless journey, going towards the correct direction, anything can be taken back. Do you understand my meaning?
Xiao Yue: I don’t want to understand.
Wu Ji: I can say it again. Battling…
Xiao Yue: Not that I don’t understand, it’s that I don’t want to. I don’t want to understand.
Wu Ji, knowing how much Xiao Yue likes to play, brings her to a Hu party to dance, eat and drink. There, they run into Jiu Ye and Wu Ji gets super passively competitive. After Jiu Ye leaves, Wu Ji asks Xiao Yue about her relationship to Jiu Ye relationship. Sometimes an opportunity once missed is gone forever, but will that be the case for Wu Ji and Xiao Yue?
Episode 8: “You are not alone”
Wu Ji: Xiao Yue, no matter what happens in the future, you can always come to me. In Jian An city, you are not alone.
This scene made me swoon~~~
Episode 10: A Sendoff
Wu Ji goes to war for the first time and Xiao Yue sends him off. But what is it that she’s feeling…?
Da Mo Yao OST-White Hair Ballad