Watching the live-in action drama actually got me curious about the animation series and that’s why we are here! Lord Critical World is an extended version of the animation series and although it has its own disadvantages, this show surely piqued my interest in this fantastical world, which is so unlike the conventional wuxia dramas that focus on “Cultivation Magic”.
Directed by Jingming Guo (who has adapted his own series of novels,Tiny Times), L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties might seem like a catastrophe of mixed plotlines and hasty fight sequences, if you aren’t well acquainted with this mythical Universe. I have read quite a few reviews criticizing this movie and although I understand their concerns, I truly enjoyed experiencing this visual delight, that is credited to be the “First CG Animated Film from the Chinese Shores”. So while the animation series is definitely ridden with flaws that are prudent to criticism, ardent fans of this franchise will find it riveting!
Qi Ling/ Chiling
Cheney Chen plays the character role of Qi Ling. He is the Disciple to the Lord of the Seventh Degree, Silver.
Kris Wu plays the role of Silver, Lord to the Seventh Degree or the Seventh Lord. He has to power to revoke multiple weapons (horcruxes).
Fan Bing Bing portrays Guishan Lian who is the Disciple to Lord of the Fifth Degree, Guishan Feng Hun. She later becomes the first Double Lord in the history of Aslan .
Nether “You Ming”
William Chan plays You Ming, Lord to the Second Degree. He is merciless and violent. He also involved in a romantic relationship with Lord Thalia.
Yang Mi portrays the role of Shen Yin, Disciple to the Second Degree. She is You Ming’s Main Disciple and as such carries off major assassinations as per her Lord’s orders.
Tianshu You Hua
Jelly Lin plays the role of Princess You Hua, the Disciple to the Sixth Degree. Her Father, Lord Sixth was the Marquis and as such, she has inherited his royal titles.
Amber Kuo plays the role of Thalia, the Lord to the Fourth Degree. She is very crafty and sinister.
Guishan Feng Hun
Kevin Yan plays the role of Feng Hun, the Lord to the Fifth Degree. He is Lian Quan’s Elder Brother and can control Soul Beasts.
Aarif Rahman plays Ni Hong, the Disciple to the Fourth Degree.
Wang Duo plays the role of Qi La, the Lord to the Third Degree. He is the Keeper of Portals and can manipulate time as well as space according to his wish.
Roy Wang plays the role of the escaped Priest, who reveals their true nature to Feng Hun and Silver.
This story takes place in a sacred mainland of Odin (or Wotan), separated into four counties based on the four elements – water, fire, wind and earth. The published book(s) in this series mainly focuses on the water county, also known as Atlantis/Aslan Empire, with references to the other counties. There are 7 Lords and one Disciple for each lord, working with the Priests, to carry out their assignments. The story begins when the Silver Priests of Aslan selects an ordinary bartender, Chiling as Lord Seven, Silver’s Main Disciple. As their relationship develops further, Chiling learns to appreciate his Master and follow into his footsteps. He also befriends the other disciples and develops a close bond with all of them. As Chiling begins his training with Silver, both of them stumble across some shocking secrets related to the Monster Origin. Will Silver be able to train his native Disciple or will time separate them forever?
Chiling and his Soft Hearted Lord
There are invariable differences between the drama and the animation as related to the main character’s relationship. As compared to the drama, where Yin Chen majorly comes across as a cold-hearted and disciplined Master, Kris Wu’s Silver carries hints of softness and subtlety. Cheney Chen on the other hand portrays Chiling in an entirely different manner than Zhang Ming En’s Kylin (Lord Critical World). While Kylin spends a considerable amount of time resisting his destiny (as Lord Seven’s Disciple), Chiling is demure. He easily accepts Silver as his Lord and they make a compatible pair. Unlike Yin Chen and Kylin who spent their major disagreements most of the time, Chiling and Silver understand each other well. The soft looks and longing stares these two share are a classic case of homosexual romance and I’m honestly surprised how this movie surpassed the Chinese Censorship. The scenes where Silver explains that the “Exchange of Soul Route” between a Master and a Disciple makes the Disciple feel “charmed” by the Master’s aura, is quite similar to the drama.
The ensuing striptease to showcase the power route is even more alluring, the only difference is Chiling’s easy acceptance again (as against Kylin who spends quite alot of time resisting Yin Chen’s charms). I wholeheartedly enjoyed watching Cheney Chen portray Chiling’s vulnerability and naive characteristics. Chiling is quite different from Kylin. While Kylin throws tantrums fervently and has a mini breakdown when faced with tough realities, Chiling happily accepts the underlying challenges. The animation version heavily focuses on the development of this relationship. It could be the scene where Silver empathizes with Chiling’s lonely childhood or when he explains about the mythical “Golden Fog”. Silver might be cold-hearted, but his entire demeanor changes when it comes to Chiling. The animation doesn’t attempt to disguise this romance as “Bromance” and that’s a major plus point in my book!
The Missing Sismance Which Turned Volatile
Fan Bing Bing’s depiction of Lian Qian is quite different from Xiong Nai Jin’s Lotus (Lord Critical World). The ensuing subtle romance with You Hua is also missing. I was truly disappointed by this turn of events as Lotus and Rosemary’s Sismance was my favorite part of the drama. While Lord Critical focused on their character development and resulting closeness, Legends of Ravaging Dynasties has majorly failed on banking on this beautiful love story. Instead, we have an entirely infatuated You Hua spending most of her time trying to rein in control over Chiling. You Hua as such is used as a defensive front to lighten the blow of the homoeroticism between Silver and Chiling. It seems like a fraudulent attempt to undermine their relationship and You Hua’s arrogant demeanor makes it even worst.
Lian Qian and You Hua’s romance is thus sidelined to make space for displaying their close friendship with Chiling. Although that seems misleading and You Hua acts like a bratty Princess most of the time, you learn to appreciate their strong friendship. The animation did detour from the obvious when it comes to Lian Qian and You Hua’s relationship, but their bitter breakup and ensuing enmity is similar to the drama version. Fan Bing Bing’s depiction of Lian Qian’s apparent heartache will leave you shattered. Watching her brother get killed and then trying to control her new powers isn’t an easy job but Fan Bing Bing’s easy portrayal surely heightens the tension.
The resulting devastation and death toll were brilliantly executed and the grandeur surpasses the minimal expectations. The accompanying CGI effects magnify the experience and I surely missed watching these stunning effects in the drama version.
There are quite a few viable differences between the drama and the animation version which I found intriguing. While in the drama, Spectre receives the Red Order to kill Feng Hun, the animation focuses on him trying to kill the teenager under Feng Hun’s protection. The ensuing battle is coupled with stunning CGI effects and translates into a real life experience. The teenager’s real identity is kept a secret until the end of the movie and that raises the mystique quotient. While the Silver Priest in the drama gives a half-baked explanation for exiting the Crystal Coffin, the animation gives us a more extended dialogue and helps us understand the situation better.
Lastly, although the second half heavily leans on undermining the relationship between Chiling and Silver, Chiling’s absolute resolve in the ending credits redefines their romance.
“He is my Family. He will never abandon me”.
The fact that Chiling understands his Lord’s sudden need to protect Lian Qian displays his maturity and trust in their relationship. I was absolutely floored, because these minute changes make a world of difference to the lackluster script.
L.O.R.D Legends of Ravaging Dynasties is innately based on the concept of lifelike facial animation. With a stellar cast like Fan Bingbinn, Kris Wu, Cheney Chen, William Chan, Amber Kuo, Yang Mi, Lin Yun, Yan Yikuan, Aarif Rahman, Roy Wang, Wang Duo; the stakes are clearly weighed quite high. The motion capture feature enable real life portrayal of their minuscule emotions and that certainly makes this film “A Virtual Delight”. There is some ensuing confusion as the plot thickens and those who are unaware of this mythical universe might find it difficult to digest. Despite that, the storyline keeps you hooked enough with sudden revelations that are on par with the live-in action drama. Overall, Guo Jingming has tried his level best to introduce the character in an uncanny manner and set the stage for future confrontations. Totally worthwhile watch!
Rating- 3.5 out of 5