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  • I have read "the romance of the three kingdoms" and there are definitely some minor differences, but most of them are understandable sacrifices in order to make the show more entertaining. Most of this show stays very true to the novel. If you have no idea about the story or just a general understanding i guarantee that this show will be enjoyable to you. however, if you are a three kingdoms historian you might be disappointed with how some of the characters are portrayed. For instance Liu Bei's character seems a bit shallow and boring compared to what i imagined, and Lu Bu is much less intimidating. but other than some minor problems with character portrayal it is a superb series worthy of being watched.

    I believe a certain fan-sub group, that specializes in Wuxia dramas, is currently adding English subs to the series. Buy the DVD and check out the sub and I ensure you'll enjoy this masterpiece.
  • curiositee2 June 2011
    (Don't be fooled by the picture posted above - it is the one for the movie Three Kingdoms that was released recently.)

    This series is simply terrific. It was quite an ambitious undertaking, for one. A whopping 95 episodes, fast-paced and intricate in many parts. It largely follows the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms though it does deviate in some parts. It's been almost 3 decades since the last notable attempt at serializing Romance, and now with plenty of Yuan and manpower to throw around, the deed has been accomplished. First, the scenery is remarkably grand and beautiful (both natural and CG) - from Zhuge Liang's hut in the middle of a forest, to gratuitous (though appreciated) shots of the Yangtze River, to the rather intimidating sights of tens of thousands of little armored men rushing forward.

    Second, I appreciated the script. Perhaps it isn't as antiquated as it could have been, but let's be honest. If the producers and scriptwriters conformed to the way scholars of 200 AD spoke, like 8 people would understand. What would be the point? Rather, the writers decided to focus on making the dialogue engaging and meaningful to the target audience. Moreover, it still sounded decently authentic to adequately serve its purpose.

    And finally, I enjoyed the acting and character interpretations. Chen caught me off-guard at first with his Cao Cao, but he's seriously grown on me. He has now become the representative Cao Cao in my mind - just devious and cunning enough, but not evil for the sake of being evil as he is sometimes portrayed...though at times of questionable mental stability. Lu Yi's Zhuge Liang is subtle, graceful, and dignified even in distress...not to mention terrific eye-candy... I digress. Zhou Yu's portrayal, though not especially flattering, was conveyed well by Victor Huang, and made me want to give the poor guy a hug (at the risk of disembowelment).

    My major complaints would probably include the portrayal of the formidable general Zhang Fei. What are we, five? Did they really need to flatten and degrade a famed general by giving him the intelligence and self-control of a petulant pre-schooler? And Liu Bei's stubborn adherence to his so-called virtue got really old, really fast, though I suspect that had more to do with the man in history/Romance than the series itself.
  • It's a rare thing these days that a show would capture my attention from beginning to end, and with 95 episodes to boot! I thought the production was near perfection with only some minor nit picks here and there, which is almost incomprehensible since I don't often say this about a TV series.

    This is by far the longest Asian drama I've watch to date, the production quality and storytelling edges neck and neck with another favorite of mine, K-drama's Jumong. Right off the bat you can tell the expense that they've put into this just by watching the first episode. The scale of the army is a great visual feat like no other television series I've seen. Sometimes TV series will give you perhaps 1-2 battle scenes with a handful of extras to make it look "epic" (ahem *cough, cough* Game of Thrones, I'm looking at you) but with Three Kingdoms, the line of armies/calvarias in the background, whether with real extras or CGI, really makes you feel like there are 50,000 men at the general's call.

    Another thing that I see other reviewers complain about is that there is too much woman in the story, since the original novel never mentions much about woman. I for one I'm glad that they expanded woman's roles in the story however big or small, to help make the times that they lived in better-rounded. Of course there are still male dominance overtones throughout the story but that's how things were back then. I appreciate that we can see a small side of the woman perspective on things. I'm just sad that they couldn't put even more in there, since my nit pick was that there was too few woman shown. Since people will wonder how in the world are there thousands of men but no woman to raise the children that grew into soldiers? Take care of the household? Guide their husbands? Have their role in the political scheming, or marriage alliances? Men might write the history books but you can't tell me that woman never had a part in them.

    Another aspect that really drew my attention was the portrayals of the characters. They are more natural and realistic and easily relatable. Okay sometimes they can be a bit over-dramatic, but that's Asian drama for ya. Overall the characters have different aspects to their personalities. They can be naïve, arrogant, stubborn, light-hearted, witty, funny, etc… and evolve as episodes progresses. I quite enjoy Cao Cao's portrayal in this series. The actor has a unique air about him that makes the character memorable. His laugh, wit, insight and dominance were what sold his character for me.

    But my personal favorite character would be Zhuge Liang. I love how the actor portrays him, and you can believe that the character lives up to his reputation, since it's been stated over and over throughout history that he's a master strategist with a calm composure. His first introduction made me laugh, rising up after a nap and reciting sonnets right off the bat. That was the moment where I thought "I'm going to like this character" A bit silly, but I appreciate the light-hearted moments here and there amidst the chaos and battle sequences and backstabbing political scheming.

    My small nitpicks would be that the start of the series really just jumps into things during Doug Zhuo's occupation of the empire. There was only a brief summary of how things began from there. So non-history buff like myself might be a little confused as to what's going on but you quickly catch up if you pay attention to the characters and dialogue. (And believe me there's a lot to pay attention to, that might warrant a second rewatch if you miss things) Also they never really had an introduction to the beginning of Liu Bei, such a major character in the series; we never got to see how he really began his quest with his oath brothers like we did with Cao, Cao. I guess they had to cut something to keep the timeline flowing. But you get the gist of Liu Bei's major goal right away. Final nitpick was that the soundtrack didn't have a lot of variety to the music. There were maybe 5 major themes and that was it. So watching 95 episodes with the same music playing in the background gets old fast. Good thing the action and story kept my interest.

    So overall it's a wonderful adaptation to a popular novel. I'll admit I'm not a Three Kingdoms buff, so I wouldn't notice if they're far off from the story or not (which after skimming through historical facts, doesn't seem like it). The only connection I have with the original story was playing Dynasty Warriors and we all know that's not an accurate representation. But if you enjoy good story and characterization then I highly recommend this series. I can forgive if the production took a few artistic liberties, but the main thing I look for in a good series is if the story flows well, the characters are in line with the story they're telling, and it has enough visuals for my eyes to feast on.

    That said, I'm a happy camper.
  • They say that this show lacks authenticity.

    They say that it should not really have women actors, because the source material has very few women. They say that the 1995 version is better. They are wrong and misguided. This period in Chinese history (220–280 AD) is rich in material, and the series is based on Luo Guanzhong's 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms'. It's NOT the authoritative historical record. That is Chen Shou's 'Records of the Three Kingdoms'. So we're not dealing with history, really. We're dealing with a very popular account of that time. The complainers are just married to the first version they saw. Not to actual history.

    What is so interesting about this is that it's about military and political strategy. The Han dynasty had a crisis in leadership and the warring factions do battle. The clever ones survive. Everyone uses some form of strategy to get what they want. It's very much 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu and 'The Prince' by Machiavelli.
  • I've never read Romance of the Three Kingdoms, so I had no preconceptions when watching this series. I found the casting and the acting to be extremely well done, with every character believable and relatable. The story was complex and engaging, and the characters and their noble aspirations, heroism, courage, loyalty, compassion and more were simply inspirational. I found myself in tears often, deeply touched by someone's kindness, or humility, particularly Liu Bei, and I was even inspired to be a better person in my own life after witnessing such profound values. I have watched the entire series twice and am now re-watching again as it is helping me to learn Chinese. It makes me feel so deeply connected with ancient China and fills me with profound respect. If only we could see more of this side of China.
  • chlai885 January 2011
    This remake after countless remakes of the popular Romance of the 3 Kingdoms novel certainly hit all the right notes. Although it may not have the depth of its predecessors, it makes up for it by a good script, directing, artistry and production quality. The 3 Kingdoms story can be very daunting in terms of its sheer number of characters and events. So for those who're already staunch Kingdom buffs, this series may disappoint as the scriptwriters took a lot of liberties on the original storyline. But for those who're just starting their journey into the chaotic world of the 3 Kingdoms, this series is a gentle and enjoyable introduction into possibly one of the greatest Asian historical novels of all time and a glimpse into the Asian cultural diaspora.
  • Loved it. I got here thanks to the game Total War: Three Kingdoms. Tbh, I had no idea about any of this (I'm from Latin America, Chinese history is not well known, despite being vast), and the game lured me into wanting to find out some more about this Era in China. I've been watching endlessly for the past few weeks, and I became attached to this story and its characters. My son knew about Guan Yu from other games, but I feel like this is an entire universe I just discovered.

    I know this is an adaptation to the novel, and adjustments were made, etc, but I don't care, I love it.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms is probably one of the greatest (if not the greatest) pieces of historical fiction ever written. It has the equivalent appeal of the Iliad and Odyssey in Western Culture.

    Granted that there are numerous audiences who might not have read the book or understand its significance. It is safe to say that they will enjoy this TV series. The dialogue is easy to understand and the action is absolutely terrific.

    However, for anyone who holds Three Kingdoms to high esteem, this series will present a disappointment. The problem with simplifying (or modernizing) dialogue, morals, and appealing to mass audiences (when there is no reason to do so) is bound to leave the true fans asking: why? If that wasn't enough, the series is pitted against an older cousin before it was even made. A 1995 adaptation already set an impossible standard in terms of casting, authenticity, and acting. Trying newer stuff when you already have a high minimum bar is suicide, and obviously, this new series tried, and failed.

    First is the casting: Many claim that casting is unimportant, but when many views have preconceived notions of the majority of the characters, it is absolutely vital. Looks are the first thing that comes to mind, but voice is equally important. For example the cast for Zhang Fei has the "look" but the man was suppose to sound violent and intimidating, a feature the actor didn't have. Guan Yu, not only does he not look like the generic Guan Yu who had really intimidating eyes, thick eyebrows and a beautiful beard, he also completely lacked the deep and booming voice that echoes his presence (he is suppose to resemble a god of war). The list goes on and on for the major characters.

    Second is Authenticity: A lot of this series is completely made up. It doesn't follow more historical sources or the romantic novel. I'm not going to spoil anything but do expect some good confusion from time to time.

    Second is the fact that so much screen time has the presence of women in this series. The romantic novel mentions women by name and what they did; if they had dialogue, it was spoken in a very direct and feminine way. The historical writings features even less women. So naturally what one expects from Three Kingdoms TV series is a minor presence of female characters. Instead what we get is long and tedious scenes of made up soap opera dialogue that not ruins the pacing, but also any authenticity of the misogynistic society of that era.

    I could go on about weapons, armor, building designs, and more, but I think most people get the point that if you don't make novel adaptation authentic, it defeats the purpose.

    And finally the acting: This is the worst part of it, and I envy those that don't understand mandarin Chinese that can ignore it. I mentioned earlier that Zhang Fei and Guan Yu didn't even sound like their roles; well while you can argue that looks can't be changed, certainly the intensity and tone of voice can. It is probably easier for an actor with a deep voice to play the role of Guan Yu, but this actor doesn't make any attempt to bring out that godly character. The same is with everyone else, who recites almost everything with monologue, and when they do yell or scream it becomes obvious that it was part of a script.

    Keep in mind that in the novel the characters are sometimes mad, sometimes desperate, sometimes overconfident; they are not going to talk in the same tone of voice. A key element of the 1995 series was that the characters had depth because they had a lot of emotion in their voice. While some can argue that the characters are keeping their cool at all times (what men those days tried to do), it is just a sorry excuse.

    And a note about the action sequences: I was actually one of those who enjoyed the action in the 1995 series more than the action scenes in this series. The reason is that all of the action in the 1995 series was live action, and although the producers did their best to make it "cool" what they actually came up with is something very realistic because well: everything was real (no-one gets thrown 30 feet in the air, no-one is super-fast with 100 kg weapons etc). This is especially evident in the duels, which were usually shot from a distance. This series seems to keep the camera on the character's faces at all times when they are dueling… why? However the action scenes of the grunts storming castles, the field battles, and especially the fire attacks are very cool spectacles that even the most zealous hater would like.

    In conclusion: All in all this series is catered to the masses and has delivered. However it has great massed action scenes that even the most disappointed fans can enjoy.
  • No statistics, my gut feeling, Three Kingdoms is definitive the most read novel in China, especially by the Chinese males, partly due to the fascinating heroism and intelligence described in the book, partly thanks to the Japanese game industry (companies like KOEI make games around this book for decades). It is fair to say, a lot of people in China have learned the stories by heart. Lots of Chinese males, including me, have read the book symbol by symbol at least three times.

    There is also an abundance of film, TV and game adaptation of the story in China (Look at this the other way, how poor is the creativity in those Chinese script writers' heads, out of the 3000-year-long Chinese history they can only fix their eyes on this 100 years, which is largely based on this half-fiction half-truth novel). The popularity of the novel makes it difficult for any of those videos to satisfy the critical readers. Honestly, to make a film letter to letter based on the original text without any artistic recreation is a daunting task, a lot of dialogs, scenes and actions have to be filled in to make the story-telling to flow. Too many artistic recreation, the die hard readers are going to scream. See, there should be a balance here.

    The old 1994 version, in my opinion, is quite an authentic account. True, the fighting and some other things in it were not that jaw-dropping, but they at least obeyed physic. This new 2010 version in contrast, fails at many aspects. The recreation is just a bit over the top and "Hollywood". The action is just a bit too like in circus. The demeanor of the actors were just too modern and "Taiwan" (Young actors pretended to be cool, old actors were way too stiff). And, the music sucks, the same pieces repeated again and again without any variation.

    Here I just want to spill my guts about one thing, Cao Cao. This guy is the one of the two central figures in the whole story, the other is Zhu Ge Liang. Besides being an erudite writer, highly competent leader and great strategist, he is traditionally depicted as a cunning SOB, usually gets what he wants by hook or by crook, more or less like the young Bill Gates. The book author Luo Guang Zhong wrote a lot about his achievement, at the same time, he put a lot of negative color on the very same person. This conflictive treatment only makes this personal more fascinating and attractive. Such a controversial and multi-facet person is easy to admire, hard to acted as. Additionally, Cao Cao was somehow a handsome charming guy. Put these together, you get the picture. The Cao Cao in 1995 was very OK. This 2010 was not. The actor Chen Jian Bin failed to compete with his precedent by all account. Not cunning, not pretty, too smart-ass and is downright annoying when he laughed, or pretended to give us a fake laugh.

    Try to grab the 1995 version instead.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Three Kingdoms (2010) tells the epic, drama Chinese tale from literally a dramatic point of view, this show lacks that stylistic charm that the 94' version had however somehow this dramatic and a sense of a 'real-world' setting with the world, the people in it makes this version more enjoyable than the 94' version because it feels i guess you can say 'proper' for it's time The downside of telling this side of the story again like the 94' version is how much you can put in, your favorite moments like Dian Wei sacrificing himself to protect his lord, Sun Ce's invasion of the Wu territory, Zhuge Liang's Nan Zhong invasion, the Yellow Turban Rebellion, He Jin's downfall, and Sun Quan's failed He Fei invasion and Shi Ting those stories and more aren't in this version of the tale.

    Also another major downside to this show is how 'over the top' some of the characters are in the show for instance Zhao Yun is literally like his Dynasty Warriors character a major badass just owning the enemy, Zhuge Liang acts like he is a classical over the top genius. The acting as well can count for being over the top but some characters in this version makes it look good enough to enjoy Another thing is that many of the characters doesn't have that much relevance as the 94' counterparts for instance Ma Chao is in like only for 5 episodes total (I believe) and once Ma Chao becomes Tiger General he literally ceases to be, also Xiahou Dun he only has ONE role and that was to fight Guan Yu for slaying the gate guards, and another character is Sun Ce as soon as he plays out his part in being with his father during the Dong Zhuo wars, asking for a truce with Liu Biao after Sun Jian (Sun Ce's Father) was killed, leaving Yuan Shu and having Zhou Yu tagging along, meeting the Qiao Sisters, going on a hunt and then dies. That's it no invasion of Wu Territory or anything of the sort.

    Lastly some important characters like Dian Wei, Taishi Ci, and Meng Huo don't make an appearance now if this was because of budget or not finding the right actor then i understand All in all despite some major flaws and some characters getting more screen time, less screen time, relevant screen time and none at all either way this dramatic tone that the director went with makes this show enjoyable.

    If you want a stylistic charm and grace stick t0 94' but if you want a 'real world' sense of tell an epic drama then 2010 is definitely for you
  • Depicts the constant tension between personal ethics and statecraft, ambition and moral considerations. Fascinating series. Greek myths will seem psychologically simplistic after this. Only negatives are the simpering females - did they really all simper like that? - and bad subtitling. The English subtitling does no justice to the nuances in the Chinese original. Characters sometimes express themselves in very poetic terms, and this is not at all properly translated. Similarly, words ('gonna', 'wanna')more appropriate to cowboys are used to translate courtly language. The series is a selection of major actions in the very long novel of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the selections differ somewhat from the 1995 CCTV version. However, I much prefer the acting in this one, which is less stylized and more natural.
  • Considering the shoestring budget the director had to work with. Especially being 80+ episodes. It's a masterpiece of a drama. No, it isn't 100% accurate to much of the ROTK lore but really what is? Even the novels are fictional to a point. It's a great drama, rich characters and thoroughly enjoyable.
  • for music. and cast. for landscapes. and inspired script. but, more important, for the science to present a very old story and a slice of China past in a wise manner. it is an ambitious project. and the ambition is not a word in this case because out of technical tools or great performance of actors it is the propaganda interests. and this is secret ingredient of series. not a demonstration. only a realistic atmosphere and impressive fight scenes. and nuances of each character personality. a mixture of force, delicacy and sweet shadows. a fresco of China roots. and, in same time, a nice fairy tale. a large puzzle and crumbs of tradition. short - just impressive. that is all. total show.
  • it is one of my favorite series. sure, as inspired adaptation of a remarkable book. for realism. for the portrait of characters. for the fight scenes and for the poetry of image, for the exploration of the essence of power and its fruits, responsibilities, for the vulnerable victories and for the great cinematography, off course, I am profound subjective about it. but , maybe, one of the reasonable explanations, is the flavor of the stories/fairy stories from my youth, discovered in this impressive series. because it is not an answer to Hollywood blockbusters or to historical European series. it is not one of too touching and small Larousse like the South Korean series or demonstration of the seductive honey of the Ottoman past like the Turkish historical series. it is...Chinese. in each scene, detail, dialogue, refreshing air of a classic story in the right manner presented.