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First Episode 10: 康乾盛世秘史


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A part of the Grand First Episode Project -- See this thread for more info.

Drama/Comedy aboot the Jesuit Castiglione becoming the court artist in Beijing. Stars Dashan (who's also appearing on the side of buses in Dalian just now)

emule - youku

In the first episode, we follow the Jesuit Castiglione who, inspired by Marco Polo's writings, decides to go to China with a buddy of his. There, he passes a test of some sort required to allow them entry (by showing his drawing skills to a court official). He also draws a portrait of the pirate who stole their gifts intended for the emperor, which leads to his arrest.

This wins them support from the local court official, who teaches them Mandarin and takes them to Beijing to meet the (very sick) emperor. There, the pirate escapes. Then they get surrounded by a bunch of souvenir sellers before getting dropped off at a Jesuit monastery and locked there. However, when the emperor's men find out that one of them is a doctor, they get invited to try to cure him.

The language is very easy and about a third of the show is in (bad) English or (bad) Italian with Chinese subtitles. I'd put the whole show at about lower intermediate level, but the very first episode is even easier, because much of the Chinese that actually gets spoken is spoken by two Jesuits whose Chinese is very basic, so most of the conversations are very simple.

From a language level, a great one to try for beginners, especially since the show is easy to follow and doesn't require too much effort. From a drama point of view, this is a catastrophe, and those hoping to check out Da Shan's Chinese skills will be disappointed, as he's either speaking very bad Mandarin, very bad English or very bad Italian. The acting is very bad overall. But it's not bad as popcorn entertainment.

Edited by renzhe
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As I commented on an earlier thread (getting a bit ahead of myself):

I found 康乾盛世秘史 to be a lot easier than Di Renjie (especially the bits where they were speaking in English!). Part of this may be the quality of the subtitling which was really good - clear and easy to read.

However, the plot, acting and characterisation were just woeful. I had a look at Dashan's website, and under performing arts (apart from Xiangsheng) he lists performances in 康乾盛世秘史, Red Star over China and Le Diner de Cons. The last two have several extracts from apparently glowing reviews and for Le Diner de Cons he even won a "White Magnolia" which seems to be the Chinese equivalent of a best supporting actor Oscar. However, there are no reviews for 康乾盛世秘史; I'm assuming that this is because everyone thought it was crap.

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Ok, let's give this one a shot . . .

The credit sequence alone is impressive. The hair, the mustaches, the beards. The trouble is that with so much fake stuff floating around I'm having trouble telling if all these people are Dashan at different stages of his journey, or just different people.

God, this was made in 2004?

Ah, I might have seen some of these gravestones - some at least are in the stone-carving museum at Wutasi in Beijing. Not sure how many, or even if they're the originals.

My God, it's the Spanish Inquisition. Didn't expect that . . .

Break to eat lunch . . .

Could they not at least have found a MAN'S wig for Dashan's mate . . .

All I've got on my chest is hair, ha ha ha

Why doesn't he just whip out his electronic dictionary and wow them with modern technology . . .

Ah, those first happy days of China. Wonder if anyone has told him that the word for 'good' is a woman next to a child?

Isn't that the same street as in Guangdong or wherever.

Meh. Finished it, but think I'll give the rest of the series a miss :mrgreen:

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