I have not finished the English recap of “King Rouge” (KR) because I was so busy when it was finally released back in 2013. And when I finally found the time to work on it again I encountered problems about video availability. Now that I have solved my 2 problems (my schedule and availability of the drama online) I have decided to work on the drama again while we are waiting for Jo Hyun Jae‘s next acting project.
This post was originally published in this blog on February 28, 2013, I am publishing it again to incorporate the explanation regarding some scenes that were contributed by Chinese fan Charlene.
“King Rouge” has finally landed!
It has been more than a year already since Jo Hyun Jae finished filming KR in November 2011, and after so many ups and downs, changes in schedules and broadcast stations, KR has indeed finally landed on Hunan Satellite TV (HSTV) last February 23.
I have already watched episodes 1-2. So far the story seems simple enough that even if I don’t understand what is being said, I can still follow most of the story. I know that recaps are supposed to clarify the story, but since I don’t understand Chinese I have another goal for this recap – I will raise questions about some scenes and dialogues in the drama which I don’t understand in hopes that JHJ’s Chinese fans who visit this blog will answer my questions to help us to fully appreciate JHJ’s drama. The text in red are the parts which I don’t understand, and which I hope our Chinese friends will explain to us.
“King Rouge” begins on the day Xiao Wu Kui (Jo Hyun Jae) and Lei-er/Thunderchild (Yang Zi) are born. (Editor: They are born on different years, but the scenes are juxtaposed with each other to show that there is a thunderstorm during the birth of both characters.)
Thunderstorm! There is a a group of people travelling in a caravan on a deserted road. We meet our first 3 important characters in this drama- Xioa Ding Bang (Danny Lee), father of Xiao Wu Kui; Hu Da Cheng, the right-hand man of Xiao Ding Bang; and Aunt Gui (Liang Li), Wu Kui’s aunt.
Ding Bang is the owner of Xin Yi Biao Ju, a safeguard escort agency. The agency escorts traders and their goods as they travel through the lawless land of China in the 1940s.
The caravan stops due to the thunderstorm. Aunt Gui peeks out from one of the caravans and Ding Bang sees his baby boy. Ding Bang’s wife got scared of the thunderstorm and died giving birth to Wu Kui. Wu Kui got scared of the storm and becomes a sickly/physically weak child.
Then we move to another location 6 years later – a cornfield where a woman is pouring some drinks for her husband, then thunder struck them right on the spot! They both die, but next thing we know Nana (Grandma) is running through the cornfield and sees a baby. When Grandma tries to touch the baby she is thrown off by an electric charge that comes from the baby.
Fast forward to a few years later… Lei-er is now a teenager of uncommon strength. She is a helpful and cheerful girl, but her strength always gets her in trouble. Flashback to when she was a young girl and we find out that even then she was already strong, and that she can be struck by lightning without getting hurt. Because she is different, people think she is a monster thus become afraid of her. Their fellow villagers drive her and Grandma out of their hometown.
In another place, we see teenager Wu Kui lying on his bed. He is a sickly lad, Father and Aunt consult with medical experts on what to do with him to improve his health. (Ha! Ha! The moment Wu Kui blew his hair while lying down, I know that our boy is going to be a bit of a smartass.)
But even though Wu Kui is physically weak, he still eats a lot.
Lei-er helps a trader whose cart goes off the road. She carries the cart back to the road by herself. Ding Bang and Da Cheng see this and are impressed by her strength.
Lei-er asks for 2 cents from the merchant as payment for her services. The merchant, instead of being thankful for the help, tries to get out of paying her by pretending that Lei-er broke one of his vases while righting the cart. Ding Bang and Da Cheng intervene and reveal the merchant’s scam. The cracks look old, if Lei-er caused the damage the crack should have looked new. Ding Bang also argued that since the vase is an antique (expensive) then Lei-er’s payment should be 10 cents.
After she received her payment, Lei-er thanks Ding Bang. Ding Bang lamented the fact that she is a female, if she had been a man with that kind of strength she would have been very successful. When asked how she became so strong Lei-er replied she was born during a thunderstorm. Ding Bang laments why WuKui suffered the opposite when born under similar circumstances. After Lei-er returned home, Grandma criticizes her for not asking Ding Bang to recruit her as an escort right away.
As Ding Bang and Da Cheng continue on their journey they reminisce about Wu Kui’s younger days. Wu Kui is so weak that his family is concerned about him. He cannot even take out the chicks from the mother hen without being scared. (Toddler Wu Kui is so cute!)
More scenes of a physically weak Wu Kui during his younger days.
Scenes of Lei-er and Grandma being driven out of the place where they are staying, I think the group that drove them out is led by the merchant who tried to scam Lei-er. That scene is a bit sad because the people were cheering while Grandma and Lei-er are leaving, they even had fireworks! Because of her strength, people think Lei-er is a monster, so they reject her and drive her and Grandma away from their hometown.
Back to Wu Kui, who is again being examined, this time by Yuan Tou Daoren/Round-head Taoist (Gou DeGang) who is a friend of Ding Bang. Master Yuan Tou says that he can cure Wu Kui but it will take a long time so he asks DingBang’s permission to bring Wu Kui with him to Fo Shan, a modern city at that time in Southern China.
One night while they are travelling, Master Yuan Tou and Wu Kui are caught in a storm and have to take shelter in a rundown building. Grandma and Lei-er also take shelter in the same place. Grandma is sick and seems to have lost consciousness. Master Yuan Tou tries to help, thunder strikes again! Master Yuan Tou ends up kissing Grandma, and Wu Kui ends up kissing Lei-er. Both men get pushed out of the shelter. So this is the first encounter of our Wu Kui and Lei-er, also their first kiss.
Next scene, traders are complaining to Ding Bang about the bandits who have been stopping and stealing their goods during their trading trips. But this band of bandits don’t kill, instead their victims end up laughing helplessly during the fight and while their goods are being taken away. We meet another important character – Ya Lang/Dumb Wolf – he’s the one in the middle in the picture below.
Ding Bang receives a letter from Wu Kui. In his letter, Wu Kui tells his father that he is working hard every day with his Master to improve his Kung Fu. Wu Kui goes on to lie that whenever they practice with people from various schools of Kung Fu, he demonstrated excellently that everyone applauded and praised his skills. But, in reality, both Master and disciple spend their days partying with foreigners dancing, eating and drinking wine. The applause that Wu Kui receives is actually for his dancing …. (Comment: JHJ is really not a good dancer… hehehehe, but he is still so cute.)
Master Yuan Tou tells Wu Kui of the shame he feels for lying to his friend DingBang about Wu Kui’s progress.
Lei-er wins money from a show of strength challenge. Grandma gets mad after finding out that Lei-er showed her strength again.
Wu Kui performs martial arts exercises in front of Master Yuan Tou. He knows some moves, but he is still not strong enough. He gets tired easily, he is not steady on his feet and easily falls down when hit.
Master Yuan Tou has taught Wu Kui all the moves for Kung Fu but Wu Kui is so weak that he can only survive up to 3 moves. His weakness cannot be cured despite all the acupuncture treatments given to him by Master Yuan Tou. But Wu Kui gained a lot of theoretical knowledge including the acupuncture points to make people laugh which he successfully applies to his Master. Master Yuan Tou is fast too, he is able to stab Wu Kui in the right place and they both end up laughing.
Wu Kui and Master Yuan Tou receive a letter from Ding Bang, In it, Ding Bang tells Wu Kui to return home as he is getting old already. He also wants to pass the leadership of the Xin Yi Escort to Wu Kui since he believes Wu Kui has already succeeded in learning everything he has to learn from Master Yuan Tou and has already attained great achievement.
Mater Yuan Tou tells Wu Kui that he plans to write to his friend to tell the truth, but Wu Kui convinces his master to put off telling the truth as this will upset his father. Master Yuan Tou regrets lying to his friend for such a long time, so Master and disciple finally agree to go back to Shanhai Town (Xiao family’s hometown) to apologize properly to Ding Bang.
Master Yuan Tou and Wu Kui begin their journey home to Shanhai. They hear and see explosions on the side of the hill while they are passing. Wu Kui is afraid to hear explosions as they remind him of thunder.
Lei-er convinces Bearded Man to take her on as assistant. The Bearded Man was the one who started the show-of-strength challenge the day before in which Lei-er won.
Wu Kui and Master Yuan Tou arrive at their new lodgings in Guangzhou. The tea Wu Kui ordered arrives and it is not to his liking. He goes out to buy better food and comes upon a crowd watching the Bearded Man trying to sell a miracle drug. He bumps into Lei-er.
END OF EPISODE 1
This is only episode 1 but I feel as if so many things have happened already. The pace is quite good, establishing the characters and the relationships quite fast.
I like Lei-er’s positive attitude towards life despite her dire circumstances. It seems she has no life goal at this point in the story, just taking on whatever job she comes across so that she and Grandma could survive. I wonder when she will begin to dream of becoming a female escort?
JHJ is a delight to watch in “King Rouge”. Right now I see Wu Kui as this naughty and careless young man, but I don’t see him as a mean/cruel person.
I like that our main couple is not your stereotypical hero and heroine. Lei-er is not pretty and she is much stronger than a man. Wu Kui may be rich, handsome and intelligent, but one thing that makes him different from the usual hero is his physical weakness.
I also like that the drama is light and funny, so easy to understand. The drama may seem childish at this point, but I am sure the story will become more meaty as Wu Kui and Lei-er go from one adventure to another, and in the process gain wisdom and maturity.
I am happy that the voice used for Wu Kui is not annoying. The voice matches the character quite well.
So far the story seems coherent, the characters are engaging and lovable.
I am looking forward to watching Wu Kui and Lei-er’s adventures and love story unfold.
Credit: Video as labelled. Thanks to Charlene for help in the recap.