And I bring another Chinese mystery drama based on another acclaimed novel. And supposedly the drama again did not live up to the expectations of novel readers (At this point of time, I am not sure if the novel for this drama exists or not. But its sequel does have one, for sure! It might be that there are references of this story in the actual novel of the sequel but still, I need to do more research).
This time it’s just a review because of too many loopholes in the plot and lack of good graphics. But the sequel, which I’ll review next week, suffers from the latter problem so much I would rather appreciate the graphics of Mystic Nine, lol. So, review is mainly because of the plot. Also, I am suffering from the drama withdrawal symptoms even after all the rant I am gonna write. Gimme novel, or next season or whatever, just give me something ;-;
Plot: If I am going to write the plot out, it will take too much of space, because it is mystic ‘nine’ after all. So, I’ll try to be as precise and understandable as possible. The mystic nine is set in early 1900s. Changsha is ruled by 9 families called old 9 gates. The head of these nine gates Zhang Qi Shan, also called Fo Ye (The Head of the First family, played by William Chan) is also the defense chief of the city.
The supercool mysterious guy, Fo Ye, perfectly portrayed by William Chan
One day, a mysterious train stops at the station of the city with dead bodies of Japanese people and coffins inside the train. He researches and finds out that this is related to the peculiar mines just outside the city. He wants to enlist the help of Er Ye (The head of the Second family, played by Zhang Yixing), because his family has a history of tomb raiding and the knowledge of those unknown secrets runs deep in their family. But Er Ye has given up that family business in order to receive good blessing for his ill wife Ya Tou. Hence, he works as Chinese Opera singer these days. They come across a magical medicine being auctioned at some other place which might save Ya Tou. So, Fo Ye helps Er Ye to get that medicine, staking his family fortune so that he could convince Er Ye to help him with regards to those mines. Er Ye indeed helps him uncover the truth, but the truth is far more complex than it seems.
The sad and dragged part of the series
The mines are not only ancient tombs of some of the greatest poets of China but they contain something which Japanese people want and hence, they have been doing some experiments in and around the caves. Fo Ye, with the help of Er Ye, and other gates, tries to find out the truth behind the mines and the Japanese conspiracy.
Now, the plot is what actually drew me in. I have never seen anything related to tomb raiding. It was scary but exhilarating to watch. I actually watched the sequel to this drama called The Lost Tomb first. Although I did not like that one much owing to non-existent plot just like this one and horrible graphics, just the tomb raiding part kept me going on with these two. Not to mention the handsome guys to fangirl on ❤
However, the plot has so many problems with it, I cannot even count. I’ll explain those later in the post.
Characters: Characters are amazing but not so amazing. Fo Ye is the ultimate person and sees the most character development. From the most rigid personality who keeps the country above anything to the warmest of husband after he falls in love with Yin Xinyue (played by Zhao Liying), William has done quite a good job. My favorite character however is Lieutenant Zhang, right hand man of Fo Ye. His one smile melts the heart of girls in an instant. Oops, fangirling mode on again. His character is loyal and intelligent.
THE Lieutenant Zhang ❤
Er Ye is proficient in martial arts but is too blinded by his love for his wife. So much that major part of the 48 episodes goes into his reminiscing about her after her death and his hallucinations about her. And that gets boring, like really boring. Anyway, next character is Ba Ye, the head of eighth family in nine gates. He is a great fortune teller and becomes a kid in behaviour when he is near Fo Ye. Some times, you as an audience feel like sewing his mouth shut so that he could not whine. However, he is as helpful in the whole series as Er Ye. He is not shown with any family attachments in the series.
Ba Ye, the fortune teller
Now since, this is about nine families and is set into war period, it’s natural to have tons of important characters, nine being the heads of the nine families. I am pretty sure, given the popularity of the novels, too many cooks did not spoil the broth here after all. But drama does not do justice to all the characters. While the title is nine gates, the other gates gain importance only in last few episodes. Except that the evil disciple of Er Ye forcefully takes up the seat of Si Ye (The Fourth) and the seventh gate, the shrewd Huo girl, joins hands with Japanese earlier in the series, only to find her family reputation in jeopardy because of her actions.
Speaking of females, the two most important females of the series are Ya Tou and Xin Yue. Ya Tou is wife of Er Ye and is sick with an unknown illness for the major part of the series. Not much to her character. Xin Yue is daughter of the hotel where the auction for that magical medicine takes place and is really irritating in the beginning. As the series goes on, she becomes one of the most likable and clever character. There are more pretty female characters essential to the plot.
Aiyo, the chemistry between them ❤
Though, I think she’s the prettiest in the drama
When there is so much evil in the series, there are definitely evil characters. There is this whole Japanese part to the series. And these characters have their own share of screen time, unnecessarily so. I skipped most of the part of their discussions, which saved me almost half of the time I spent on the series watching. And I advise the same to everyone who is watching or planning to do so, especially in the second half of the series. Not gonna spend time on explaining those.
Bloody useless villians
Bad things: My biggest complaint is with the plot. The problem is, the story is all over the place. As with ‘Decoded‘ some side plot is started, and it gets lost somewhere, starting another story, just to abandon it again. Viewers are left with so many whys and hows at the end, it’s unbearable. The mystery of mines isn’t solved till the end, for obvious reasons since it sets the premises of whole story. But in the last episodes they just mention it once, and lo, finished. Similarly, there are supposed to be thousands of traps inside the mines, but in the end, anyone could enter them just like that like where did the need of Er Ye’s family go now? And this is just starting of the list.
Also, some of the graphics are like those kids shows with fairies and magic of the 90s. Heck, even their graphics were better than some of the tomb stuff shown in here. And this drama was made in 2016. I expected more, but given the intricate details of mines and caves, I wouldn’t complain much here. Those rants I’ll save for next week.
Good things: I should start writing good things first. Anyway, I was about to give up on the series halfway through after reading all those awful comments from hurt viewers. But I persisted. So, I guess it’s best if someone reaches the good things after my whining about the flaws. It would mean the series is for you. I loved the tomb raiding part. I kept watching the series because I knew more adventures were coming. They had to enter that mine again and again anyway.
The suffocating mines enough to make you claustrophobic
I also liked the usual politics and games. However, there wasn’t much evil in the evil characters to be honest. Not much psychological warfare either. Ugh. Another good thing for all the females is number of good looking males in the series, and I am not even talking about Zhang Yixing.
This was the first series I watched starring William Chan and he suited the character well. And the rare occasions when he smiled *melting away*. Same with Lieutenant Zhang. To think that guy is just 22 years old in real life! Zhang Yixing needs to be just Zhang Yixing, he’s perfect like that. The beauty when he transforms into the opera singer, I was mesmerized. Ba Ye is not bad looking either but well, his character is a bit maddening.
That smile ❤
Music! Music is incredible as well. I am still listening to the opening and ending themes, and plan to do so until some new song grows on me. Background music is not as dramatic to make an impact but goes well with the situations. And costumes! I love this thing about period dramas, you get to see those historical elegant dresses, not only for women but men as well. Also, the mansions! The amazing stuff!!
And of course, action. Being from Wuxia genre, it has plenty of martial arts scenes, amazing stuff at that. Probably people who are familiar with wuxia genre, might find it bland, but this being my one of the first series in the genre, I loved it. It was not over the top, so felt a bit real at least.
Other things: I am still so furious that I did not get to see this through the end, like every fan who is patiently waiting for a season 2. But the demand is the same characters which is next to impossible. The ending was ok, people who have read the novels know better. Which makes me want to read them as well. Again, as a standalone drama, its ending was an open ended one.
I love it but I hate it! These bloody villains again >.>
You can watch the drama with English subtitles here: The Mystic Nine Eng Sub on Facebook
Today’s song(s): I am gonna post my newest obsession(s) here:
Happy tomb raiding everyone!