While no official confirmation has been released thus far, the chatter on Weibo have pretty much confirmed that Tangren Production‘s next drama will be an adaptation of Louis Cha‘s (Jing Yong) last and most iconic novel Duke and the Cauldron (also known as Duke of Mount Deer). While Tangren’s completed Qing dynasty time travel drama Bu Bu Jing Xing remains mired in an uncertain fate due to the glut of time-travel dramas to hit the C air waves, most of which stomp all over historical accuracy and them poop on it a few more times for good measure, it’s decided to move ahead with an even more ambitious drama in the meantime.
While Duke is merely my second favorite LC novel, even I concede that it was his crowning achievement, the most dense, rich, and sophisticated novel to come from his pen. Other than the 1984 TVB adaptation of Duke with Tony Leung as rascally protagonist Wei Xiao Bao and Andy Lau as youthful sovereign Emperor Kangxi, no other Duke adaptation has managed to find actors suited for the roles and produced a drama as gripping as the novel. I thought the latest Duke adaptation, Royal Tramp 2008 starring Huang Xiaoming as Xiao Bao and Wallace Chung as Kang Xi has the most magnificent visual scenary but the acting and execution was a middling mess. So when I heard who Tangren cast, I did a headdesk and then started swearing – Hu Ge as We Xiao Bao and Nicky Wu as Emperor Kang Xi.
While I genuinely like Hu Ge, and have a soft spot for Nicky, the two of them are so utterly and completed miscast here I don’t even know where to begin. I can see Hu Ge as Kang Xi, actually, but Nicky is all wrong for either character. He’s just too old now. Huang Xiaoming mugged his way through Royal Tramp 2008, mistaking exaggerated facial expressions for acting, and I worry Hu Ge will resort to the same methodology since he’s just not convincing as either playful or sleazy, and Xiao Bao is both. Sigh, this news makes me so disappointed you have no idea. Liu Shi Shi is also onboard (my bet – Ah Ke), and expect to see most of the cast from Bu Bu Jing Xing back together for this DoMD adaptation.
Tony did it best – the role which launched him into super-stardom.
Jordan Chan was serviceable, but he never became Xiao Bao.
Dicky Cheung was just doing what he does best – using physical comedy in lieu of emoting.
Huang Xiaoming was simply too handsome to have been Xiao Bao, also lacking in acting subtlety, though he did sell the sleazy part quite well.
And lest you think I hate on Hu Ge, I think he was brilliantly cast as Guo Jing in Tangren’s adaptation of Legend of the Condor Heroes 2008, and I think Hu Ge could perhaps play other LC characters, such as Zhang Wu Zi or Hu Fei. But as Wei Xiao Bao – I cannot for the life of me see that working out.