Sound of the Desert (Da Mo Yao): Eps 1-6

Chinese DramasDrama Reviews

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^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.
    • Cut version: This airs on Hunan TV and has modified the story a bit by editing out some scenes.
    • Uncut version: This includes the scenes that were left out from the cut version.  Popular opinion holds that this is the better version, so watch this one!  You can find it on Viki or here.
  • 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.

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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. >_>

dmye01-5.1

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.

dmye01-4.3

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.

Overall

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.)

Opening Theme Song: The World I Pacified For You by Li Jian Qing

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heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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Sound of the Desert (Da Mo Yao): Eps 7-13
  • LOVE the music! I’ve only watched the first two episodes, so I can’t gripe about Xin Yue’s cleverness always being on display. I’m liking it so far. Eddie Peng, with the little I’ve seen so far, totally does have that oozing charisma. I’m looking forward to more of his interactions with LSS’s character.

    I think the only thing that mystified me was in…episode 2? Xin Yue was all gun ho to devote herself to helping Mo Xun with the power struggles in the city. Sure, Mo Xun gave her pretty clothes, a home, and food and apparently she’s been living with him for awhile by the end of that episode, but it just wasn’t all that believable to me. And how is it she has no idea what that value of money is at all? She lived as a normal human for six years with her “father” – surely she must have picked something up since she’s supposed to be so clever and all?

    I do understand where you’re coming from with the wolf girl thing…but six years…depending on how old she was when her father took her with him to raise her as human *may* have been enough. It’s really hard to say. It’s easier to correct and learn things when kids are younger. If she was a preteen already by that time…maybe not so believable at all. Her wolfing down food scenes make me laugh as she really is emulating her wolf brothers. And I also think I want Brother Wolf for a pet. He’s soooo handsome and loveable.

    • Yaay NeeNee another drama we can watch together!! 😀 Yes on the OST, I usually love c-drama OST’s hehe.

      Hm it’s hard to tell how old she was…in the preview she looks around 8-12 years old? She must have started living with the wolves at a super young age because she literally believed that she was a wolf. So that’s why I think it’s a big stretch. Once you watch the next eps you’ll see what I mean by all of the scenes that demonstrate Xin Yue’s smartness.

      • She was rise by the pack of wolf when she a baby… Her smartness comes from her wolf instance… Also durning her 6 yrs living with father, he make her reads lots of book on war-fare, politic.. That way she have the strength to protect herself… Also durning the time she live with her father, she is raise together with the Jie tribe royal prince… So it was not hard for her to be able to do what she did… She had all the tool enbed in her..

  • It seems to be keeping up the pace so far. There hasn’t been too much to make me uncomfortable with watching it and the uncomfortable parts so far have been largely limited… aka wolf-puppies…

  • I had the same reaction as you towards Eddie! First impression was meh but after he jumped out of the water in Ep 4 (I believe) I totally jumped on the fan girl ship haha. I also feel less silly for giggling whenever he’s on the screen now, hehe. You should totally check out the eng summary/translation of the book over at koalasplayground. It’s a relatively fast and easy read 🙂

    • Ah so I’m not the only one giggling? 😛 LOL yeah that scene was really funny. Maybe I’ll try reading the novel translation after I finish the drama. I would rather not know what’s gonna happen next.

  • I really like this drama though, having read the novel, I think the adaptation is pretty close to the book. I only watch the uncut version as it flows much better, the TV version is too choppy for my taste and they cut out important details.

    Eddie Peng is totally slaying it, he makes WWJ so much cuter than in the novel but still maintains that prideful, bossy and bold traits of the character. He makes a good pair with XY, I love their scenes together. In the novel, I was always on the HQB ship because JY’s inferiority complex grates me and he’s not as forefront as WWJ.

    HG is perfect for the role though, JY is hard to read but very gentle, he’s totally the perfect JY, can’t imagine him as WWJ anymore after seeing Eddie’s portrayal (in the beginning, there were many people who asked HG to play as WWJ). It’s true that XY in the city reminds me of Ruoxi at times (it may be also because she played XY’s character soon after BBJX finish airing, remember the delay in the DMY release?) but I thoroughly enjoy her as a character, she and Hong-Gu makes the best sistermance (female version of bromance), hahaha!

    It’s been quite some time since last enjoyed an ancient c-drama so much, I did enjoy Wallace Huo and Tang Yan’s perfect couple but I find FZQY (DMY) much more enjoyable. I think it lives up to my expectation. The only gripe I have about the casting is QX (played by Fala Chen), she totally doesn’t give me the QX vibe, I’m annoyed by her presence.

    • That’s a good point, so actually BBJQ was filmed after DMY. I had forgotten that! So based off of the novel, is Xin Yue similar to Ruo Xi? Or is it just the drama/LSS’ portrayal that makes it feel that way?

      • When I was reading the novel, I actually think that the city version of XY reminds me of RX in some ways, afterall it’s written by the same author, TongHua. However, XY is much more bolder than RX, RX simply thinks too much that made her pushes 8th prince away. XY on the other hand is much more straightforward and simple-minded when it comes to love, she pursues JiuYe and it’s rare to see a female lead of a period C-drama to be so bold.

        • Yeah I started to feel the similarities once Xin Yue went to the city. I didn’t feel it as much when she was in the desert. Ok..hopefully Xin Yue won’t over think things as much as Ruo Xi did then!!

  • Hehe so many pretty screencaps! Lol we already had this conversation on twitter, so I think you already know I totally agree with you on everything, but I couldn’t help it, I just needed a place to squee a little for Eddie. I have never liked him this much before, he has such a charm and flair that he brings to Wei Wu Ji, that I actually don’t mind Hu Ge having fewer scenes? That coming from a Shi Ge shipper says much lol. I just hope they do the angst ride well, it looks like there’s plenty of tears to come. I also kind of hope Shi Shi takes it up a notch, I know probably too much to ask, I saw her in Xiu Chun Sword recently and Chang Chen pretty much owned that movie, she was only so-so hence I don’t suppose something as old as Da Mo Yao is going to show the best of her. Gosh I hate being fan girl and realizing my bias isn’t improving >.<

    • I feel like it’s been so long since we last got to spazz over a c-drama together. O: I would be fine with equal screentime for both male leads…although I do prefer the Eddie scenes I still like Hu Ge’s too! Oh how did you like the movie, was it good? And what role did LSS play in that movie?

      • So true, it’s been forever since we’ve fangirled this hard together 😀

        The movie was surprisingly really good, LSS plays a parlour house girl, who Chang Chen falls in love with and promises to buy her out, only she doesn’t reciprocate those feelings. Her role is quite small in comparison to the three male leads but she has a more noticeable presence than any other female character. I freaking loved her scenes with Chang Chen! I don’t watch movies all that often so I didn’t even know who he was but you’re totally going to love him 😀 (I think the movie is still available with subs on youtube or on a similar streaming site). Oh and the aesthetics for the movie are gorgeous, pure eye candy when it comes to LSS costumes, lighting and camera work. Only down side I found was the story does meander a little but ending is pretty nice 🙂

  • Getting that kind of intelligence takes experience, a little bit of a stretch how she acts and how much she can read into the human character after growing up away from civilization. 😀 Love the costumes though!

    • I think some Xin Yue’s costumes are better than others. Maybe it’s because I don’t like all of the colors they chose for her outfits? I generally like all of Ding Ling & Hong Gu’s outfits though!

      Exactly, with only 6 years experience in the human world (much of which must’ve been spent just learning the basics of human life), her level of understanding is way more than expected. O_O

  • I’m really enjoying this series so far. It’s the first time I’m complaining about how slow the releases are (usually C-dramas overwhelm you with quick releases). I’m not a novel reader, but while waiting for the new episodes, I couldn’t help but skim the chapters before hand. It’s true that they are very faithful to the novel, almost all the dialogues are used. The angst scenes between XY and JY made me cry buckets and I hope the episode will live up to my imagination haha.
    I totally agree Eddie Peng is very charismatic as WWJ, I love all his scenes. Although I’m very much a Hu Ge fan, I think WWJ is a better match for XY. I don’t like JY’s “reason” for pushing XY away, and I don’t thin he had the right to pursue her AFTER she’s move on.
    LLS’s not doing too bad in this drama. I like this better than her acting (and role) in “Xiu Chun Sword.” I know XY’s role came before that movie, but Xiu Chun Sword actually made me question her acting..Not a bad movie at all though, the male actors were great.

    • What Min, this isn’t fast enough for you? 😛 LOL. Well at least it doesn’t air at a snail pace of one episode per week. 😉 Oh that’s the same movie aehyu mentioned. I have yet to check it out. >_<

  • Where do you usually watch Chinese dramas? I technically need english subs to understand fully but since Chinese dramas don’t seem to be subbed that often and I’m really desperate, I don’t mind winging it and watching raws 😛

  • Nice write up Heisui. Found your blog looking for more information about Da Mo Yao.

    Binged watched for a couple days to get 1/3 through, now, it’s the slow march to the finish during my lunch hours. I hope it finishes strong.

    Eddie Peng is currently my favorite actor and Liu Shi Shi is an outstanding leading actress. Hu Ge’s kinda gone opposite of his Tian Wai Fei Xian and Chinese Paladin roles, becoming more melancholy, but a screen presence nonetheless. I wished that they hadn’t dubbed Eddie’s voice.

    I must also compliment you on the excellent screenshots. They look amazing and really bring the characters to the forefront.

    Keep it up!

    BTW – the English title of the movie LSS is in with Chen Chang is called “Brotherhood of Blades”.

  • I totally get what you mean about Wu Ji’s personality! He just dominates every scene he’s in and it makes me suspect that the confident Prince Charming is his natural personality in real life, because it looks like he doesn’t even have to think about it.

  • I’m totally late to the game. But the show is airing on TV now, and I’m totally hooked after catching a few episodes! I’m currently pacing myself so I don’t finish watching too soon.

    Eddie was the main reason I was drawn into the show. Any scene he appears in he oozes charisma. He totally commands attention and is so stately and handsome. But his interactions with XY are so cute they have me grinning from ear to ear from start to finish. I am totally on board the Wei Yue ship. Jiu Ye who?? I really don’t get what XY sees in him – I find him a total snooze fest. I understand that some girls probably like this sort of calm and refined vibe. But I’d pick a guy like Wei Wu Ji any day – he knows how to spice things up 😉

    I’m loving your reviews! Binge-reading them all now (but I shall skim the later ones so nothing gets spoiled).

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