Turbulence Within the Mu Clan: My Thoughts from 2012 (木府风云)

September 01, 2012

Choo Ja Hyun as Aleqiu
Zhu Xiao Yu as Mu Zeng
Ray Lui as Mu Qing
Yu Rong Guang as Mu Long
Pan Hong as
Sun Wei as Mu Kun

The Mu Saga tells a story that happened in Naxi, Yunnan. During the reign of Mu Chieftain, Mu’s family members were fighting with each other for the power. Actress Qiu Cixuan played A Leqiu, the hostess of Mu Family. She came to Mu Family over 20 years and had her reprisal hidden deep in heart. However it never changed her as a pure and kind woman. She was in love with the heir of Mu Family but being forced to give up. They were trying to commit suicide because of the separation. At the very last moment, she changed her mind and saved his life. After undergoing all kinds of tribulations, she finally married Mu Zeng. After that, she had to deal with variety of challenges from different people and power. Eventually, she lead Mu Family out of hardship and earned their trust and respect. With reprisal being solved, she also became the head of Mu Family. It is a legend of a woman's love and hatred.

Source: Chinese American Film Festival

After finishing up the whole drama for five consecutive days, I cannot stop thinking about it. I am actually quite depressed. This 40-episode drama, through the recommendation of a blogger, kept me isolated from human interactions for quite a few days. So why am I not wowed? More of a disappointment, I have say. The first 30 episodes were superb! The last ten episodes ruined the fifth day which I spent the day skimming through the episodes with the fast-forward button.

My Rating: 

☆1/2 7.5/10 stars
It reminds me of all the trendy palace-themed series but in another context. I really liked learning about this small clan (that actually existed in Chinese history) and seeing these beautiful costumes and real sceneries (not filming sets). I really enjoyed the beginning half while the last ten episodes, I skimmed through because at that point I couldn't stand the female lead anymore. It might have been due to the fact that I watched over 10 episodes each day so I've become tired and impatient. 

I thought marathoning a series is an easy task but I realized you would get tired at some point because either the plot is getting boring or the leads are stupid idiots. It just so aggravates me so much that I wanted to rip my hair out! I mean the drama is perfect to end it at 30; I care less if it is not wrapped up!

My Thoughts:
1. I was hoping that the main villain Xi He will die at or near episode 30, which leaves the rest to focus on Mu Zeng and Aleqiu's life and their reign over the Mu clan. However, Xi He didn't die until the very end. The character is so despicable that I think ONE arrow was insufficient to end his sick life --- he should be tortured, like the old Chinese saying: 让他求生不得求死不能, can't seek to live or die.

He harmed Ayuela; he instigated the death of Mu Ching; he planned the death of Mu Wang. Like Mu Wang, he should suffer "a million arrows plunging deep into his heart" 万箭穿心 in addition to being burned to death (like how Mu Ching died). Although his character is so evil, I have to give props to the actor who played this character. He did an excellent job.

I think the way the character was styled also played a huge role in making the character despicable. In real life, he seems like a pretty nice guy!

2. All these unfortunate tragedies are not necessary! All the characters that were harmed are my favorite characters. This actually shows how developed these characters are for me to miss their presence on the screen. However, scriptwriters have to make everything DRAMATIC because AFTER ALL, this is NOT A COMEDY ...

3. Aleqiu is the main female protagonist. I enjoyed watching her character in the beginning 30 episodes. However, her character absolutely lost my support the 8 episodes following the 30 episodes. She has this secret kept from her husband. If she loves her husband that much, how can she not expose her uncle and allow him to ruin the Mu clan. The scriptwriters should be blamed for this!

Knowing it is her uncle who is the mastermind behind Mu Wang's death and who is the cause of the execution of her tribal family, she still lets him continue with his vengeance because he is the only family she has left. Are you kidding me? Even though he is your only family left, he is a lunatic! He's trying to wipe out the Mu clan which FYI also mean say BYE-BYE to your husband.
    • Her character reminds me of Lau Sam Ho in Hong Kong TVB's Beyond the Realm of Conscience. However, Aleqiu's character has flaws unlike LSH. Her generosity and kindness are actually her weaknesses. Such beautiful traits can truly make one hate her especially the actions that occurred due to her flaws.
    • I have to admit though she is a strong heroine. Another reason she chooses not to expose her uncle's plot is because she thinks she can stop him; she believes she can annihilate the vengeance he possesses. She is wrong. Not because the idea is wrong to begin with but because the person whom the idea is applied to is wrong. Well, at some points in the series, I do enjoy watching Aleqiu outsmart Xi He though. 
Even though the last ten episodes are a disaster, the beginning is really well-executed. I love every bit of the beginning. It is intense and addictive. I wish the director would have ended it at episode 30. 

4. The historical context of the story is truly something "fresh". Instead of watching a deluge of palace dramas that are being heavily released into the Chinese dramaland, I decided to give this a try. The accessories, the headsets, and clothing are all so beautiful and astonishing. The costumes and props can rival Chinese drama's Beauties Without Tears.

5. I absolutely fell in love with the romance story as well as the main hero Mu Zeng. I am a big fan of romance; whether it is in dramas or in novels, I cannot endure a whole work without romance in it. I have become a true fan of the actor who plays Mu Zeng. He did an excellent job! The obstacles that Mu Zeng and Aleqiu have to face were well-written that their love can be understood as to why they are unbreakable. They are an inseparable couple.
    • First off, Aleqiu saves Mu Zeng two times which cause Mu Zeng to develop a friendship with her. 
    • The Mu matriarch Luo Xi Ning attempts to kill off Aleqiu a few times, however fails due to Mu Zeng's protection. When a bandit Ah Fu is hired to kill her, Mu Zeng rather be killed himself than give her up. His kindness to Ah Fu though helped him made a friend. Ah Fu actually prevented an attempted assassination of Aleqiu after they arrived at the gold mine. 
    • Mu Zeng is arranged to marry Ashiyu but he refuses. Eventually, he is forced to through his grandmother's schemes. He becomes cruel to Aleqiu which broke my heart. However, afterwards knowing that he plans to elope, I love his character! He plans to elope to the mountains and die with Aleqiu so the Mu clan will not have to go to war with Ashiyu's father (which is part of Luo Xi Ning's scheme). Understanding his grandson's stubborn personality, Ning allowed him to marry Aleqiu as his concubine on the very same day he will marry Ashiyu. 
    • When Aleqiu sees Mu Zeng's hands and thinks he has a plague, she does not show fear. Rather, she continues hugging him since he is her husband. She misses him so much after the war ended. 
    • Even when his grandmother tells him to marry Ah Jiao according to the Mu's rules, he refuses and rather gives up his position. He knows he loves Aleqiu only so he will not allow anyone to intercept their love for one another. 
    • Aleqiu's secret is revealed however Mu Zeng still loves her. He will not execute her or let her leave according to the Mu's rules. No matter what their love is, as I mention before, inseparable and pure.
6. I actually like a lot of the characters unlike other dramas which I despised many characters except for the OTP.
    • Mu Kwun: He is the cousin of Mu Zeng. He falls in love with Aleqiu after he saves her. However, he is arranged to marry Ayuela. His character is cute especially when all three of them are still immature. He eventually understands that he truly loves Ayuela who is the one that is always by his side. 
    • Ayuela: Although she likes Mu Kwun but Mu Kwun likes Aleqiu, she does not harbor any animosity towards Aleqiu. Ironically, she treats Aleqiu like her sister. When Mu Zeng is not there to protect Aleqiu, Ayuela will be there. I really hate the writers for making Ayuela become harmed by Xi He. Although she does not die, she needs time to recuperate. 
    • Mu Ching: Unlike Mu Long, his young brother, Mu Ching is calm and rational. He is an erudite. He spends his time near the lake. Many overlook him; they believe he is unfit to be the next ruler. However, he is rather intelligent and wise. He is the first one to suspect Xi He. 
    • Mu Long: He is impulsive and rash. I actually believed at the beginning that he wanted to take the position of ruler. However, that is not it. He is adept at martial arts; he basically wants to take control over the military. I have to say, he is really dumb to listen to Xi He all along. 
    • Luo Xi Ning: I love her character the most! She is clever, manipulating, and incomprehensible. As the controller of the family matters, she exerts strength and elegance. Like her son Mu Ching, she remains in the Mu place but she seems to know everything that happens outside. Her plans are well thought out. 
    • Ashiyu: She is at first courteous and kind. However, after being lied to by Aleqiu and Mu Zeng, she intentionally schemes against Aleqiu. But she does eventually turn into a better person and finds her true love. She is quite smart though she cannot outsmart Aleqiu.
    • Ah Jiao: She is Aleqiu's personal maid. She helps Aleqiu hoping to possess power and position in the future. Her greed ruins her relationship with Aleqiu. However, she is not truly an evil person; she is blinded by power. I thought she won't become evil which is a contrast to today's palace dramas. But she does eventually betrays Aleqiu.
7. I enjoyed the tiny plots included in this drama. It reminds me of HK drama Face to Fate. Mu Zeng goes on a short adventure in which he befriends others. I actually quite enjoy watching the adventures of the main protagonist especially since I know the people he meet will eventually aid him in times of despair. 
    • Ah Fu: He is hired by Luo Xi Ning to kill Aleqiu. However, his mission fails after Mu Zeng rescues Aleqiu. His life is spared by Mu Zeng and so he secretly follows them on their journey hoping to return a life to Mu Zeng. Mu Zeng spared him mainly because as a bandit he does not harm and rob the poor. 
    • Mu Law: The secret he is hiding is truly an exciting mystery. I keep guessing however none of my guesses are correct. 
    • Luo Xi Ning's godson: He acts dumb hoping others will disregard him. Like Mu Ching, he is actually really clever. He plans to take control of Mu property if the next-in-line rulers are incompetent. 
    • Ashiyu vs. Aleqiu: Ashiyu continuously tries to harm Aleqiu but fails 'til the end. But I have to say she is really clever. Her schemes are so much more clever than the schemes I have seen in palace dramas. She intentionally sets two traps for Aleqiu: 1) Stealing the stamp that controls the gold mine and 2) Promise conciliation. She knows Aleqiu will go to her and use the stamp plot to mend their relationship. So her real scheme comes into play when they meet at the Mu temple. However, Aleqiu is not as dumb as she thinks since Aleqiu knows something is wrong when she changes 180 degrees. I wished Aleqiu would have been as clever when she faces Xi He. 
    • When Aleqiu has to persuade the merchants to lower the price of their products, Aleqiu's character reminds me of Sheren Tang's character in Rosy Business. Aleqiu's strength is accentuated by her ability to stand without water with the merchants for hours. Her ability made Luo Xi Ning realize that she is the perfect one to receive control over the family. 
    • The Secret Military: No wonder Mu Ching, Luo Xi Ning, and Mu Wang know everything that happens in Li Gong. Whether it is true in history or not, the water passage as a message carrier is indeed clever. That is why Mu Ching enjoyed reading and writing near the lake. The water carries messages from guards from the secret military into the Mu property. This is also a secret hidden power behind the whole Mu history in which the rulers and next-in-line rulers know. 
    • Even though I hate the last ten episodes, I enjoy the last two since it is finally getting its closure. Like many other series, the drama climax to its resolution. Aleqiu is finally intelligent once again by tricking Xi He. What I hate the most is still the fact Xi He survives for years and ends up not being Aleqiu's uncle but a spy for an outside clan. I am joyous that Mu Long is the one that shot Xi He with an arrow pierced heart. In many ways, Mu Long deserves this moment since he is manipulated by Xi He, caused the deaths of his family, and almost instigated war among his own homeland Li Gong. 

As a closure to my rant, I want to adulate the casts of this grand 40 episode production. All cast members accomplish their jobs. Even though Choo Ja Hyun who played Aleqiu speaks Korean, other actors and actresses especially the actor who plays Mu Zeng did not use this as an excuse to not play their role up to par. Mu Zeng's expressions and gestures reveal his love towards Aleqiu is true. I still love this drama especially rethinking about the beginning. A love this pure is something I hope to find in today's modern world. 

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