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roddy

First Episode 45: 秘密图纸

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roddy

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

秘密图纸 Secret Map, spy drama, remake of a 60s movie

Emule - youku

Summary - Vocabulary

This wasn't bad - certainly much better than yesterdays 雾都魅影。You've got secret agents running around (after dying, no less), a haunted village, military investigators with tragic pasts, and of course a 秘密图纸. Although nobody knows what it is yet, as it's a 秘密.

It's got a handheld wobbly feel to it which could get annoying, but this first episode at least is well paced and has got me curious to see how it pans out.

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Edited by renzhe

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roddy

Just watching the second episode of this now - quite enjoying it. Bit of a spooky feel to it, and you've got a few separate threads - missing secret documents, a secret agent going about his as yet unknown mission meeting and killing contacts, and a mysterious doctor turning up in odd places. The handheld camerawork is definitely annoying though.

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roddy

I got up to about episode 18 of this before giving up - it's not too bad, but over time the combination of soap opera content and . . daft content . . made me turn off.

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renzhe

youku

Language difficulty level: Intermediate

Wow. The intro sequence is really... intense!

We start with a Taiwanese (?) spy visiting his godfather (干爹) in Japan before heading for the mainland to perform a mission he might not be coming back from. But it's a trick to kill the old man. Then he appears swim over to the mainland (???), where he gets captured.

Then we have a commander 陈亮 visiting the grave of his deceased wife 刘梅, where he meets his current wife, 石云, and his son from the first marriage, 毛毛. This here is a tricky part: 媳妇 means daughter-in-law (son's wife), but it can also mean wife, especially when pronounced媳妇儿. Here it clearly means wife (前妻). Confused the heck out of me the first time around.

石云 gets briefed on an intercepted enemy communication talking about a secret map. They think that they are after some maps detailing current large-scale engineering projects (maybe a dam or something similar), and she should look into it by questioning the captured spy. The captured spy gets a message with those four characters (秘密图纸).

Meanwhile, our commander is searching through a village where strange things have been happening. An old lasy tells a story about a 金花婆婆 who sings at night, and comes to take people's bodies. The villagers are afraid, but our hero thinks that somebody is pretending to be a ghost, so they will stay and investigate.

The spy is a tough nut to crack. He knows a name 石云 doesn't like hearing, which throws her off, and she orders him into solitary detention, to be questioned daily. On the way back, she has doubts and returns for more questioning, but he is convulsing and lapsing into a coma after being poisoned. The guy who

gave him the food is found dead.

At night, officer 陈 from the ghost-busting expedition follows a young woman onto a roof. She looks like his former wife 刘梅 and he slips and falls and is injured. At the same time, our spy wakes up in the morgue - a cool trick. Nobody believes the drunken morgue guard's story. 石云 found barefoot footprints and thinks that he walked away. She saw him die, so she can't explain it. She thinks there are moles inside the prison.

I actually enjoyed this very much. When it comes to military spy shows, it's not as silly as 雾都魅影 and 5号特工组, and not as daft as 狂花凋落. I think the jerky camera is more due to encoding of the verycd version than the camera. An interesting story, interesting characters, and a bit of a gritty Tom Clancy atmosphere, without models-come-singers-come-actresses looking cute for the camera.

The language is around intermediate level, but it's really not too hard to follow in terms of vocabulary, other than the few spots where they have a briefing with lots of technical vocab piled on top of each other.

I think I'll watch some more of this.

Edited by renzhe
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roddy

Don't think he was meant to have swum in from Japan - either Hong Kong, or off a boat. Mainlanders used to swim to Hong Kong if they were bored of all that Communist stuff.

Will be interested to see what you make of this one - it definitely starts a cut above the rest, but I found it got both implausible and annoying when they started using the kid (毛毛?) too much. I gave up shortly after that I think. Keep on meaning to watch the original film.

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renzhe

I actually thought he had swum in from Taiwan :mrgreen: It can't be a boat, as you see him diving in from a cliff, so I guess it must be Hong Kong. or some neighbouring country.

Anyway, those blue+white uniforms look very fashionable. Does anyone know if they are official uniforms of some sort, or did the filmmakers take some creative license here?

EDIT: A few episodes in, and I'm enjoying this very much. After the last few secret agent shows which were... well... corny, this is a breath of fresh air. It's a shock to see a Chinese spy show where the intrigue is actually..... intriguing. Though I have a nagging fear that they will blow it :mrgreen: As long as it stays like this, it's worth watching. the characters are also more interesting than usual in series like this one. 陈亮 is an interesting combination of a good guy and a charismatic 流氓, and 石云 is definitely more interesting than the usual pretty-face they put in spy shows. A nice combination of determination and compassion.

It's also really cool to watch a show without needing subtitles :clap

Edited by renzhe

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roddy

I would assume they're the right uniforms, although I couldn't actually confirm.

The two leads are good value, and there are a few good scenes later on when they both go up against their superiors. As I said I bailed out after a while, but if you manage to get further and keep enjoying it I might come back to it. I won't give the details away, but it's certainly worth watching until the 'Oh my God, I can't believe they did that' moment.

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renzhe

I think I know what you're referring to, but I can assure you that the part where 毛毛 is a central character is quite short-lived, so if he annoys you, you shouldn't worry about it. I think it is more about showing how emotionally wrecked 米雪芳 was becoming than about 毛毛, anyway. The few episodes starting with the 15th are a bit emotional and melodramatic, and there are a couple of things that are a bit much, but it soon goes back to the way it was before, and the plot keeps moving.

I have to say that I'm quite surprised that the initial black-white, good-guys vs. bad-guys approach to history is shaken around a bit in the last third of the series, giving a more mature look at the issue than I'm used to seeing.

I'll write things up when I'm finished, but so far, I'm really recommending this as miles above other spy shows we've seen. This one has character. Several of them.

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roddy

Yeah, that whole section - 毛毛's brief career as a PLA prop, and all the wailing and gnashing of teeth from 米雪芳 in particular - I found a real drag, and not knowing if it would get better I chose to bail out. Sounds like it does get better though, so I'll move this onto the 'maybe come back to' list.

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renzhe

Finished.

When this show first started, I was quite shocked that it was a mainland Chinese show. Shocked because it just seemed too perfect, from the technical and artistic point of view. As it went on, the minor annoyances started adding up, and there are a couple of major lapses where implausible stuff piles up and the show looks like it will fall apart in the worst possible way. Roddy mentioned one, and there's another one near the end of the show. The show recovers quickly, but this sours the experience somewhat. Also, despite my initial impression, it doesn't manage to avoid the typical political preaching.

Having said that, I loved it. Among the 50 Chinese shows I've had a look at, this was one of the roughly 5 that I watched basically in one breath and enjoyed from the beginning to the end. The main actors give really good performances (黒桃Q is just awesome, he steals every scene he's in), the music is good, the camera work is really good despite managing to annoy roddy -- there are nice shots involving shadows, and the action sequences use very dynamic camera shots that were obviously very carefully planned. It's not very predictable, either.

One of the best Chinese shows I've seen, and I recommend it to everyone. One to just lean back and enjoy.

P.S. You will NEVER guess how old the actress playing 石云 is.

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renzhe

And here's the wordlist for the first episode, so nobody has an excuse not to watch it.

干爹 gān diē * godfather

前程 qián chéng * future (career etc) prospects

安度晚年 spend old days peacefully

代号 dài hào * code name

黑桃Q queen of spades

吉利 jí lì * auspicious / lucky / propitious

特务 tè wu * special assignment (military) / special agent / operative

参谋 cān móu * staff officer / give advice

媳妇 xí fù * daughter-in-law / young married woman / young woman

公安局 gōng ān jú * Public Security Bureau

战友 zhàn yǒu * comrade-in-arms / battle companion

反映 fǎn yìng * to mirror / to reflect / mirror image

武装部 armed forces

民兵 mín bīng people's militia / militia

巷 xiàng * lane / alley

局长 jú zhǎng * the chief of a bureau

截获 jié huò * to intercept / to cut off and capture

情报 qíng bào * (spy) intelligence / information-gathering

分析 fēn xī * to analyze / analysis

图纸 tú zhǐ * blueprint / drawing / design plans

建设 jiàn shè * to build / to construct / construction

社会主义 shè huì zhǔ yì * socialism

招呼 zhāo hu * to call out to sb / to greet sb / to inform sb

密接 mì jiē * closely connected / inseparably related

提审 tí shěn * to commit sb for trialto bring sb before the court

共产主义 gòng chǎn zhǔ yì * communism

唯物主义 wéi wù zhǔ yì * materialism, philosophical doctrine that physical matter is the whole of reality

甘心 gān xīn * to want to do sth / satisfied

替身 tì shēn * stuntman (in theatre) / to work as substitute for sb else / scapegoat

迷信 mí xìn * superstition

耳背 hard of hearing

资本家 zī běn jiā * capitalist

剥削 bō xuē * to exploit / exploitation

压迫 yā pò * to oppress / oppression

受害 shòu hài * to suffer damage, injury etc / damaged / injured

顽固 wán gù * stubborn / obstinate

政府 zhèng fǔ * government

抵抗 dǐ kàng * to resist / resistance

单独 dān dú * alone / by oneself / on one's own

算术 suàn shù * i think this refers to his ability to guess

缘分 yuán fèn * fate or chance that brings people together / predestined affinity or relationship / (Budd.) destiny

关押 guān yā * put in jail

防线 fáng xiàn * defensive line or perimeter

勤恳 qín kěn * diligent and attentive / assiduous / sincere

严格 yán gé * strict / stringent / tight

政治 zhèng zhì * politics / political

领导 lǐng dǎo * lead / leading / to lead

示众 shì zhòng * publicly expose

汇报 huì bào * to report / to give an account of / reporthuì bào * to report / to give an account of / report

任务 rèn wu * mission / assignment / task

尸体 shī tǐ * dead body / corpse / carcass

尸房 morgue

特殊 tè shū * special / particular / unusual

诈尸 zhà shī * feigned corpse (who suddenly springs up) / fig. sudden torrent of abuse

痕迹 hén jì * vestige / mark / trace

发现 fā xiàn * to find / to discover

赤足 chì zú * barefoot / barefooted

侦察 zhēn chá * to investigate a crime / detection / a scout

专家 zhuān jiā * expert / specialist

脚印 jiǎo yìn * footprint

形状 xíng zhuàng * form / shape

判断 pàn duàn * to decide / to determine

确实 què shí * indeed / really / reliable

自相矛盾 zì xiāng máo dùn * to contradict oneself / self-contradictory

As you can see, mostly simple stuff, some spy vocab that will come in handy in the following episodes.

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realmayo
P.S. You will NEVER guess how old the actress playing 石云 is.

 

Okay I'm 6 episodes into this and like it a lot but every time I see 石云 (i.e. about 100 times so far) I keep wondering how old the actress is! Frustrated googling it so come on Renzhe, help me out here please!

 

Thanks for First Episoding it, R&R.

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realmayo

Also: there's something super atmospheric about the sets, I guess it's the era and the location, such a nice change from contemporary TV set in, well, whatever you'd call a rectangular strip reaching from Beijing down to Shanghai.

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renzhe

I can't seem to google-fu it again, but she was something like 22 or 23 when she recorded it.

She certainly conveyed an older, more mature impression in the show, especially when you look at how 23-year old actresses typically act (iPartment and the like...)

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realmayo

Wow, I thought you were going to go the other way and tell me she was 50+!

Thanks.

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realmayo

I stopped this half way though but picked it up again for 2015 and have just finished it: excellent TV series, there were a couple of episodes towards the end where I was really glued to it, great stuff.

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roddy

Wow, had forgotten about this one! Is it the one where there's some PLA guy who's an elite barefoot runner, so everytime a bad guy runs away he gives them a head start, takes off his shoes, then chases them down?

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realmayo

No, everyone runs fully-shod.

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