Sound of the Desert (Da Mo Yao): Eps 1-6
^Main characters: Mo Xun (Hu Ge) / Xin Yue (Liu Shi Shi) / Wei Wu Ji (Eddie Peng)
When I first found out that Sound of the Desert (better known as Da Mo Yao) was going to start airing this fall 2014 season, my only thought was “It’s about time!!!”. We have been tortured by the gorgeous stills, trailers, casting rumors, title/character name/script changes for TWO YEARS. T_T” The drama had a lot of difficulties getting approved by SARFT and finding a broadcast slot, which is why it took so darn long for it to air. Nonetheless, even after the long wait, the hype over the drama is still going strong. I think a lot of people are hoping that Da Mo Yao will be like the next Bu Bu Jing Xin. After all, the drama has the same production team (Tangren), leading actress (Liu Shi Shi), and is based off of a novel by the same author as BBJX (Tong Hua). On top of that there’s the eye candy male leads Hu Ge–who has long been shipped with LSS– & Eddie Peng. So of course people’s expectations for this drama are way up there.
So, does Da Mo Yao live up to the high expectations? Well, it seems like the general reception of the drama has been positive despite all of the worries over the name changes and casting. There are already a lot of fans who are addicted to the drama and bracing themselves for the angsty love story to come! Based off of the first six episodes, I think the drama can be entertaining and it’s a rather easy watch. The best part about it so far is its scenes with the OTP’s. However it lacks the addictive quality for me, and it’s not a must-watch. [*edit* After watching up through ep13, I confirm I am addicted. I take back what I said.]
Before I get into the review, there are a few confusing parts about the drama that I need to clear up:
- The drama has tons of titles. I’m referring to it by the alternate title Da Mo Yao because it’s more recognizable.
- Official titles: Sound of the Desert, Feng Zhong Qi Yuan
- Alternate titles: Da Mo Yao, Sound of the Desert, Xing Yue Chuan Qi, Legend of the Moon and Stars
- There are two versions of the drama. I’m watching the uncut version.
- There are some changes from the original novel.
- I haven’t read the novel, so I can’t point out all the changes. However, I do know that all the character names & the city names have been changed. They did this to comply with the SARFT guidelines so that the story here would not be confused with any true historical records. Yes everyone, this is a fictional story.
Liu Shi Shi is back again as the leading lady, this time playing the role of the heroine Xin Yue. The interesting thing about Xin Yue is that she grew up as a feral child, or a ‘wolf girl’. She lived with a wolf pack until a man brought her out of the desert and taught her how to be human. Episode 1 opens with showing Xin Yue roaming the desert alongside her animal companion ‘Brother Wolf’ who..is supposed to be a wolf but is actually a Husky doggy. LOL. I don’t mind that we have Huskies in place of CGI wolves, because 1) I know the CGI would suck 2) BROTHER WOLF IS SO ADORABLE!!! I love all his scenes. 😉 The only problem is that I couldn’t really take the wolves seriously because they look so cute and not threatening at all, heheh. The concept of a wolf girl heroine in a c-drama is new and entertaining since I haven’t seen it before. (although there are already books about wolf children) It’s fun seeing Xin Yue doing her wolf howls and ruling the desert with her wolf pack.
On the other hand, it feels like Tong Hua just made Xin Yue into a wolf girl to make her into an interesting and alluring character, not to humanize her into an empathetic person. I’m not expecting accuracy from Da Mo Yao, but I do wonder how much research and thought Tong Hua put into this aspect of Xin Yue’s character considering all the inconsistencies. For example, we’re supposed to believe that Xin Yue learned how to fluently write, speak, and read Chinese all in a matter of 6 years. This is hard to believe considering that Xin Yue was likely unexposed to language for a good 9-12 years of her life. She grew up with no human contact in the desert, and thus she probably skipped over the early stages of language development. On top of that, we can assume that when she was a feral child, she had no concept of self-identity or human social relations. And yet in the present-day, she is totally socialized into society and highly proficient in language. =_= I just don’t see how we are expected to believe that a feral child has been able to reach the state Xin Yue is in today within 6 years. Furthermore, Xin Yue’s background as a wolf girl doesn’t have a big influence on her personality and isn’t very relevant to the story yet. Sure, we see some wolf-like behaviors such as her wolf howling, her way of eating, and her occasional references to how life is like as a wolf. But other than that, the drama doesn’t show how her experience as a feral child has influenced her mindset and world views. She seems just like any other c-drama heroine, except that she grew up with wolves. *sigh* I know all this sounds like nit-picking, thanks for bearing with me. >_>
As for Xin Yue’s personality, she’s fiercely independent, smart, and spunky. She’s great at strategizing, outwitting her opponents, and smooth-talking her way out of a jam. Xin Yue tends to be carefree in the desert, whereas she’s more restrained and clever in the city. Every episode from episode 2 onward in the city is like *Ruo Xi mode = ON*. I like me a smart heroine but I think the drama is focusing too much on showing off Xin Yue’s genius intelligence rather than further developing other parts of her character. There are tons of scenes that follow the same kind of scenario–Xin Yue saves the day! Xin Yue wows everyone with her brilliant plans and wisdom! Xin Yue outwits everyone! No joke, there’s even a sidekick character who constantly praises Xin Yue’s brilliance. We get it, she’s smart. We don’t need every episode to show her outwitting someone to know it.
In this sense, I think Liu Shi Shi is limited in this role. For one, it’s the kind of character she usually plays, (super smart, spunky) so it’s nothing new. Plus there aren’t many opportunities for her to portray deeper nuances of the character. Hopefully the future episodes will give LSS more chances to really delve into Xin Yue’s mindset. I liked LSS’ acting in ep1–particularly in this one scene where she recalls her adoptive father and holds back her tears–but eps 2-6 are her usual Ruo Xi expressions.
By the way–I loveeee LSS’ blue costume in ep1!! It’s so gorgeous and detailed! I love the headpiece and headscarf! Her later costumes & hairstyles are ok. I don’t think they flatter her as much as the blue costume in ep1, possibly because she wears more muted colors. There was a lot of hullabaloo over how her hairstyle & Han clothes looked bad, but IMO they are passable.
So, why am I still watching the drama even with all my gripes? THE MALE LEADS OF COURSE.
First of all, Hu Ge largely overshadowed Eddie Peng in the promotions and the hype leading up to the drama. He has forever been shipped together with LSS so of course all the Shi Ge fans were already jumping onto their ship in Da Mo Yao. Hu Ge plays the role of Mo Xun, also known as Jiu Ye. He’s a powerful man who controls many businesses in his city. Mo Xun is very enigmatic and reserved. It seems like he must have had a sad past because he always has a melancholic, lonely air to him. I like the way Hu Ge portrays Mo Xun; we can see how benevolent and caring he is, but also how he can be unforgiving in his business decisions. Currently he is Xin Yue’s #1 love interest because she’s already crushing on him. I can’t picture them together though because Mo Xun kinda gives off this fatherly/brotherly vibe. There’s even a scene where Xin Yue says that Mo Xun reminds her of her adopted father. Erm…
Sorry Hu Ge, I think even the Hu Ge fans will have to admit that Eddie Peng is totally OWNING IT as the other male lead, Wei Wu Ji. Wu Ji is like the opposite of Mo Xun–he’s bold, flirty and very confident. Some say he is arrogant and overconfident; IMO he’s not arrogant, he just has a big pride. My first impression of Eddie’s appearance is that he just looks ok, not as attractive as Hu Ge. But once he appears in episode 1 for the first time, he somehow looks super handsome!?!? *shocked* I think he has certain angles where he looks amazing…….PLUS it’s paired with his awesome screen presence. He is oozing with charisma in every scene even though he doesn’t have much screen time to begin with. I am always giggling whenever he’s on screen. HEHEHE. So I’m currently on Wei Wu Ji’s ship because his chemistry with Xin Yue is undeniable and he’s so much fun to watch.
I think I’m well on my path to doing strategic watching for the male leads. I don’t find myself waiting in anticipation for every episode, but I AM looking forward to all of Xin Yue’s scenes with Mo Xun & Wu Ji. A lot of the episodes focus on Xin Yue’s endeavors at her performance theater (she becomes the boss of the business), but of course, I’m way more interested in her love triangle!!! Forget the business! (I think the business will be important in the story later on..so I doubt it’ll leave the story anytime soon..hmm.)