The Disguiser: Sequel News, and A Wonderful Thing

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If there was an award for best line delivery, this gets my vote.

First up – the script for the film has been completed. I was super excited for it, then  super against it, and now just conflicted.  (In the “drama version of the book” that advertised itself as “how the scriptwriter wants to present the story” , Ming Cheng was repeated kicked by the Ming’s and at one point felt ashamed that as a servant, he would dare to make fun of the young master. Yes, the USSR-trained and French-educated communist felt like he was acting above his class, and a family of righteous protagonists made a habit of abusing an abused child.  I’m counting on my suspicions that these parts were written by a ghost writer, otherwise I take back every nice thing I’ve ever said about Zhang Yong.)  

Now to the Disguiser series. I’ve done a painting, a dialogue, a line, and now – an expression. 

A lesser actor would’ve found it hard to express one emotion at a time, but  Wang Kai told Ming Cheng’s entire life story in 2 seconds in this scene here as he finds out the true identity of Ming Tai’s father.

Somehow Wang Kai is able to show that Ming Cheng feels genuinely happy for Ming Tai and his father  while  expressing emotions that are clearly not all joy.  While the first half of the sentence was intended to comfort Ming Tai’s father, as he shifts to the final phrase, his expression and tone of voice changes. The concerned, comforting voice of “this is a good thing” becomes distant in “A wonderful thing” as he is lost in his own thought. At the same time, his eyes also look away from Ming Tai’s father to the distance, perhaps to the father he had never met.

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The Disguiser: Which Mr. Ming?

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Complex yet never out of character, Yue Yao’s Liang Zhongchun is one of the best characters of the year.

This is a series of posts of me over-analyzing The Disguiser. This one’s really short since I had originally planned to talk about it with the next post, but that scene deserved its own post so I kicked this one out. I’ve looked at a painting, a conversation, next time it’ll be what I consider the best acted scene of the entire series.  Can you guess which one it is? 

Aristotle once said the key to good dialogue is to “Speak as common people do, but think as wise men do.” See how in this example here, Ming Cheng took exactly one line to hint to Liang Zhongchun of his ambitions upon their first meeting.

Liang Zhongchun, somewhat synchophantly: “I’ve long heard the fame of Mr.Ming.”
Ming Cheng, with a slight raised tone and eyebrow: “Which Mr.Ming?”

Posing as a simple question, the subtext is Ming Cheng’s hint to Liang Zhongchun of his own (faked) ambitions and wish to be distinct from Ming Lou, luring Liang to eventually join Ming Cheng’s camp.   And if you read too much into it, it defines Ming Cheng’s ambiguous status and relationship in the Ming family that became essential to his multiple disguises.

This line would’ve been perfect if it was somehow tied in with the recorder at the ending when the question of which Mr. Ming is on the tape becomes one of life-and-death.

The Disguiser: Dissecting a Dialogue

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Rule #76 of drama-verse: Although check your surroundings for paparazzis, because this hug could incriminate you for life.

This is a series of posts of me over-analyzing The Disguiser. Last time I looked at a painting, this time it’ll be a conversation, next time it will be exactly one line. Can you guess which one?

When a sample of Nirvana in Fire 2’s script was put up by producer Hou Hongliang last week, he got so many complaints about the awkward dialogue and requests to have a co-writer to work with author Hai Yan that  he deleted the post. With so many book adaptations, one of the worst aspect of many recent dramas is their inability to translate descriptive writing into scripts. Luckily, The Disguiser did not fall into that trap.

Here is a closer look into one of my favorite dialogues in The Disguiser, the reunion of Ming Lou (Jin Dong) and Wang Manchun (Wang Ou) here in episode 1. See how natural the dialogue flows while setting up the story and revealing character at the same time, and how much better it is than the lazy method of using a random bystander conversation to introduce the characters.

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The Disguiser: No Guns Unfired, aka The Importance of Home

Warning: this entire post is about a painting.
Warning: this entire post is about a painting.

This is part of a series of posts that still overly obsessed yours truly is going to write on the Disguiser, aka my favorite Chinese drama in the past five years. 

In Chinese, a common word for country is literally translated as  nation-home.  It’s only fitting then that the painting by Ming Cheng and Ming Lou is named Home, for it captures  the two major themes of The Disguiser –   family and country.  It’s one of many examples of how the series by scriptwriter Zhang Yong and director Li Xue is a rare Asian drama that actually tries to uses dramatic principles like  symbolism and foreshadowing and Chekhov’s gun.

The scene of the painting of Home seemed like just another day of Lou-Cheng cuteness at the time, but it actually set the stage for two major plot points and became a reoccurring symbol.

"If Mr. Ming knew, he would skin me." Oh, he knows.
“If Mr. Ming knew, he would skin me.” Oh, he knows.

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