Saturday, June 9, 2018

Review: The Imperial Doctress

I’ve told myself over and over again not to watch any historical dramas when the male lead is the Emperor. Unfortunately, I have an extremely soft spot for Wallace Huo and zero immunity against his good looks. Thus I ended up watching The Imperial Doctress.

The result was except for Wallace Huo and the last minute of the final episode, the whole drama made me felt nothing but anger at myself. That one minute in the finale which was designed to console the audience didn’t work for me. It failed to compensate for how depressed I was while watching this 50 episodes drama.

Although I love romance, watching a man who has a perfectly good wife falls in love with another woman is not my idea of fun. With how much I love the undying and unconditional love, I loathe both the homewrecker and cheater.

I know it’s not fair to call Liu Shi Shi (Tan Yuan Xian) and Wallace Huo (Zhu Qi Zhen) a homewrecker and a cheater for technically neither Tan Yuan Xian nor Zhu Qi Zhen blatantly act on their feelings. Nevertheless, I just can’t bring myself to root for them.

I can’t condone a romance that destroys a perfectly good marriage. Nor could I love a man who lets himself falling for another woman when he is already married and there is absolutely nothing wrong with his marriage. It goes without saying that I’m extremely allergic to anything remotely related to adultery and polygamy.

When I waste my precious and limited time to watch something, I want that thing to make me feel happy and not to raise my blood pressure. But there are so many things in The Imperial Doctress that suffocate me. One of those things is the plight of Empress Qian, Zhu Qi Zhen’s wife.

Let’s try to put ourselves in Empress Qian’s shoe first.

How would you feel when your husband is in love with another woman? Yes, he doesn’t leave you, but not because he doesn’t want to. He spends every minute and every second he is with you thinking about the other woman. And you have to pretend that everything is perfectly fine when you know for sure that his heart doesn’t belong to you anymore.

Of course being an Empress we should not forget that we have no problem sharing our husband with a bunch of other women. So, knowing our husband is sleeping with other women is actually not that big of deal because we know when he sleeps with them at least the only thing that involves is his body. The intimacy between them would at most only enable those women to get some of his favours. We could still console and fooling ourselves by saying that it’s us that he loves.

But that’s not the case with this particular girl Tan Yun Xian. Although they are not being physically intimate she already owns the very heart and soul of your husband. You can see that when he is sitting right next to you, his mind is miles away with her. And when he is away he doesn’t even remember to go home, you have to send people to look for him and ask him to come back. 

To make thing worse in the most intimate moment you can’t stop wondering whether you have finally become one of those women he casually sleeps with.

All that you have now is the mere shadow of the man that he used to be. All that he gives you are no longer enough to make you happy because you are no longer sure whether they are heart felt. But all that you can do is to pretend that everything is perfectly fine, because you have no other choice.

Simply horrible.

Women have to stay in a relationship without a way out. They are forced to share their husband with other women just to have a husband. They are seen as nothing but a tool to be used either to form a political alliance or as a baby factory.

I’m not saying that being a wife and a mother is the worst thing that could happen to a woman. On the contrary, I have nothing but admiration for women who decide to choose to forsake their independence and freedom to be someone else’s wife and mother. But the key word is ‘choose’.

Being a wife and a mother carry huge consequences and responsibilities therefore they have to do it on their own freewill. Women need to choose that they want to give up creating their own happiness and success and instead letting their husband and their children to determine them.

A woman who chooses to be a wife could never be truly happy or considered to be successful unless she is being loved by her husband and succeeded in making her children worthy to be admired.

What if a woman decides she doesn’t want to let her happiness and success to be determined by other people? Too bad for her, men create a system which makes it impossible for women to be independent. Throughout history it is easy to see that inequality has been systematically built by men to oppress women.

Even now in this 21st century women are still used as a sex object. If they want to be successful they are still required to use their beauty to please men. Women are competing to be the most beautiful in a beauty pageant by showing off their assets to win with not even the slightest sense of how degrading that is.

Why don’t we have a beauty pageant for men so we could see them parading on stage wearing only a pink speedo for our pleasure? Well, because we don’t rule the world. But even if we women rule the world I don’t think we would want to demean our men into a sex object. Women don’t lust after men like men lust after women, therefore women never see men as an object to be collected and used for their own pleasure.

We would never think to brainwash our men into thinking that using their body by parading half naked in front of us to gain our favours is actually an honour and a sign of how powerful they are. No men would buy that argument. Only women would believe that by giving men what they wanted for free is a good bargain and an honour.

Men might not want to admit it but their oppression of women is driven partly by their lustful nature. If they want to treat women as a sex toy then it is in their interest that those women stay stupid and powerless. Stupid women would never realize that they have lost their human rights and that men have turned them into objects. Powerless women could do nothing even if they are smart enough to realise that they have been robbed off of their rights and have become a second class citizen if not even worse.    

Now, let’s take a look at Tan Yun Xian the female lead. 

This is the first time that I don’t get jealous of the female lead who gets the love of all the male characters in the drama because I would find it extremely offensive if a married man who already have numerous wives and children confessing his love for me or wanting me to be a member of his harem. 

But men are blessed with thick skin or incredible sense of entitlement that make them feel that there is nothing wrong in wanting another woman to add into their collection.

Zhu Qi Zhen the Emperor of Ming Dynasty already has an Empress that he loves. No matter how much he loves Tan Yun Xian he can’t make her his Empress. She could only be one of his concubines, sharing the man she loves with other women. And he feels no shame in admitting that he already has a wife.

Zhu Qi Yu who loves her marry another woman in order to replace Zhu Qi Zhen as the Emperor. Not only he marries her for power, he also intentionally uses their intimacy as a tool to hurt Tan Yun Xian. He puts other woman as his Empress and gives Tan Yuan Xian no option but to be his lowly concubine. She becomes nothing but an outlet to vent his lust and temper. And a punching bag for both his Empress and mother.

Ye Xian the ruler of Northern Yuan who also wants Tan Yun Xian already has his own Empress as well as numerous concubines, again, the female lead could be nothing but another lowly concubine.

I feel nothing but pity for Tan Yun Xian. She is without a doubt one of the most pitiful female leads in drama land. Other male leads in other dramas compete to make the female lead their one and only true love, but her male leads only want her to be one of their women. Not only they couldn’t give her their full heart they couldn’t even give her the exclusive right to their bodies.

What makes thing more ironic is that she actually doesn’t need to depend on men to live. She is capable enough to support herself with an admirable profession. Unfortunately, the world she lives in doesn’t treat women of her profession kindly.

The same thing still happens in the 21st century. Women who try to work in the field which traditionally belongs to men face more hardship and challenges than men themselves.

The Imperial Doctress has royally screwed up in the romance department. Therefore they should have at least tried to be good enough in other department, for example in building the female lead character into a carrier oriented one. They should have expanded more effort in showing how she builds her carrier to become one of the best female physicians in the Ming Dynasty. The Imperial Doctress also fails to do so.

I might be a little bit too harsh in my assessment because of how disappointed I’m with this drama’s romance but at least for people who look either for romance or another Dai Jang Geum I could say that this one would not satisfy you.  

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Gift of Ramadan

To celebrate the Holy Month of Ramadan and the first posting of the year I’d like to recite the most precious surah in the Qur’an, Al Fatihah:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

الرَّحْمـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ

اهدِنَــــا الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ

صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنعَمتَ عَلَيهِمْ غَيرِ المَغضُوبِ عَلَيهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّالِّينَ

1.    In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

2.    All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the Alamin (the mankind, jinn and all that exists)

3.    The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

4.    The only Owner (and the only Ruling Judge) of the day of Recompense

5.    You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help (for each and everything)

6.    Guide us to the straight way

7.    The way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray

Al Fatihah as the first surah in the Qur’an is quite different from other surahs. Other verses in Qur’an are about instructions, commands or admonishments from Allah to His servants. Except for Al Fatihah. With Al Fatihah Allah teaches His servants how to talk to Him directly, how to beg His Grace and Guidance in person. He teaches His servants that although He is their Lord they don’t need a mediator to talk to Him or to mediate for them.

Through Al Fatihah He reveals how He actually feels towards His lowly servants. His feelings for them are full of grace, mercy and love. What He wants the most is for all of His servants to be able to successfully passing the trials He has given them.

Abu Hurairah said that Prophet Muhammad explained that when we say:

‘All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the Alamin’, Allah says ‘My servant has praised Me’. When we say ‘The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful’, Allah says ‘My servant has extolled Me’. When we say ‘The only Owner (and the only Ruling Judge) of the day of Recompense’, Allah says ‘My servant has glorified Me’ and on another occasion the Prophet said, ‘My servant has submitted to My power.’ When we say ‘You (alone) we worship and You (alone) we ask for help (for each and everything), Allah says ‘This is between Me and My servant and My servant shall have what he has asked for’. When we say ‘Guide us to the straight way, the way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray’, Allah says ‘This is for My servant and My servant shall have what he has asked for’.

In Al Baqarah 186 Allah says:

‘And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them) I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me, and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright’.

Narrated by Abu Hurairah Allah’s Messenger said, ‘Allah said, ‘I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshipper of Mine. And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me is what I have enjoined upon him. And My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him. Then I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks. And if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My Protection (Refuge), I will protect him and I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer, for he hates death and I hate to disappoint him.’

Narrated by Abu Hurairah, Allah’s Messenger said, “When Allah completed the creation, He wrote in His Book which is with Him on His Throne: ‘Verily, My Mercy has overcome My Anger’.’’

That is how much Allah loves the insignificant us. The problem is most of us don’t seem to want to be loved by Allah. Most of us prefer to love other things or be loved by people that could not do a thing for us. We tirelessly spend all of our energy and love on useless things. We spend our life time chasing and accumulating things, things that we could not even bring to our grave.  Things that will harm us or lead us astray.

Since we all shall die, why don’t we try to be a little bit smarter. Live our lives like we’re going to live forever but prepare for the possibility that we might die tomorrow. If we want to be on top while we are alive we should even be more determined that we shall not be a loser once we are dead.

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

Allah's Messenger said, "Allah said, 'All the deeds of Adam's sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.' Fasting is a shield or protection from the fire and from committing sins. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarreling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, 'I am fasting.' By Him in Whose Hands my soul is' The unpleasant smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. There are two pleasures for the fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord; then he will be pleased because of his fasting."

Ramadan is the best month to accumulate rewards that could determine whether we will become one of those successful people or one of those losers who have nothing to show in the hereafter. The fact that we have been given a chance to meet another Ramadan is a blessing in itself. I’m extremely grateful to Allah for it and pray that He’ll give me many more rewarding Ramadan.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Review: Library of Heaven’s Path

Ideally review should be written only after one has finished reading or watching whatever one wants to review. However, since it becomes harder for me to actually finish any dramas/series I watch I’m going to completely abandon this wisdom.  

And since my reading interest has shifted to translated on line wuxia/xianxia stories which go on and on for hundreds/thousands series it’s more convenient and practical to write a review as I read. (Just for your information, it takes years for a series to be fully translated.)

Currently, I’m reading a number of series but I’m actually addicted to Library of Heaven’s Path by Heng Sao Tian Ya.

If you want to know what is so great about Library of Heaven’s Path, I really don’t know what to say. It’s rather embarrassing to admit that there is really nothing outstanding about this particular series especially if we want to compare it to great series by I Eat Tomatoes like Coiling Dragon, Stellar Transformation, Desolate Era etc.

In fact you might really hate it once you notice the extremely blatant copy paste formula that is being used over and over again throughout the series. It’s plain to see that the writer is only filling in the blanks with different names, locations and times. All the dialogues and the reactions of every supporting character are exactly the same. I mean exactly the same. Verbatim.

But, strangely enough, although I felt like screaming ‘Why are you doing this shameful thing Mr. Writer?’ I kept on reading and not quitting.

If I have to give excuses for my lack of taste then I’ll try to justify my addiction to this shameless series.

First of all there is no harem in Library of Heaven’s Path. If you’re familiar with wuxia/xianxia you would know that in this genre if you want to find a non harem series it is even more difficult than trying to reach the stars. As someone who is allergic to harem story this Library of Heaven’s Path has automatically become a precious gem to me.

Secondly, if you love shameless, thick skin, money grabbing lead, this one is for you.

As a teacher Zhang Xuan has a rather even temper and quite dedicated. Unfortunately, he is a scrooge and he couldn’t let those who intentionally step on his toes to go without paying.

Hence, if you love face slapping, Library of Heaven’s Path is definitely your thing. It has major face slapping scenes to make your day.

In case you love reading about male lead that is equipped with a super cheat tool, you will love this one. Zhang Xuan’s Library of Heaven’s Path gives him a super power. Comparing him to other cultivators is like comparing Superman to ordinary citizen of Earth.

Other people have to work hard to increase their cultivation. It takes them years and decades to advance. But for Zhang Xuan it’s as easy as breathing. The only difficulty that he has to face is paying for things that are needed by his students. And finding books to fill his Library of Heaven’s Path.

What I find most interesting in this series is how coherent the story really is despite all the copy paste things. The build up of Zhang Xuan’s career as a super teacher is quite clever and entertaining.

Despite making slapping people left and right his side career, the highlight of the series is actually Zhang Xuan’s ‘hardship’ in promoting and developing his students right into the top.

I love seeing how every time Zhang Xuan the scrooge finally thinks that he has struck it rich, he ends up realizing that he actually doesn’t even have enough money to buy a mere pill for one of his students.

I love seeing the self proclaimed ‘low profile’ Zhang Xuan works hard to earn money to buy things for his students. Other people work hard to increase their cultivation but Zhang Xuan works hard to be rich.

Later on as his own cultivation increases he realises that not only his students, but he himself needs a lot of money to increase his cultivation and thus he becomes even more obsess with money.

I like seeing how he slowly learns how to be a teacher. A real teacher. I also like seeing how he learns to love his students not because they could bring him some benefits but because they are his students. I like seeing how he unintentionally influences the lives of the people around him for the better.

I also like seeing how he views the ticking bomb inside his body. Yes, he might die, but not now, so he might as well go on living his life like there is nothing wrong for the moment.

At this moment this is my crack, the one that I’m looking forward to reading the most.

Monday, June 12, 2017


I did not know that Wuxiaworld existed until Coiling Dragon. Since then Wuxiaworld has become an important part of my life. In the early days I had no idea what RWX or Ren (Lai Jin Ping) the founder of Wuxiaworld looked like or what he did before Wuxiaworld. He was shrouded in mystery like a reclusive expert on the top of a cloudy mountain.

But he finally decided to end his reclusiveness and come down from his mountain top to mingle with the mortals and did many great stuff for them. He let us know not only himself but also the famous authors like I Eat Tomato, Tang Jia San Shao, and Er Gen. And last but not least the chance to see the legendary Death Blade who is the awesome entity responsible for the translation of I Shall Seal the Heaven!

I was planning to post something else this Ramadan. But I just can’t help myself after seeing the latest announcement from Wuxiaworld. A paid visit (free trip) to China to meet Er Gen! Awesome is not a good enough word to describe it!

Wishing all the best for Wuxiaworld that has grown so much in recent years.