Of Monks and Masters – Round Two

There are shows I like a lot. There are shows I re-watch from time to time. Then there are those elusive shows I re-watch… no, I’m almost compelled to re-watch right away, after I’m done with the last episode. That is a very rare unicorn indeed. Of Monks and Masters is one of those. Which is why it’s more or less the only drama I’ve watched since before Christmas. I’ve been totally captivated and nothing else compares.

Of Monks and Masters is as perfect a trifecta of writing, directing and acting as you may hope to find these days. It’s intelligent, thought provoking and feels surreally real, an AU Song Dynasty China set in a wuxia world, populated with interesting, flawed characters – some more than others. These are not a bunch of pretty people overly made up so they look like something right out of a wax museum. There’s enough blood, sweat and tears to make them seem like people who actually exist. The cast is absolutely wonderful! There are no weak links. I don’t know where they found Han Shu but I’m glad they did. He makes Shao Bai’s journey such a compelling watch, bringing the character to life from start to finish, through all the life-altering trials. I’m pretty sure I’m now crushing on SB almost as much as missy LingEr. The plot is intricate and you wait with baited breath what each episode brings along. This story packs a hefty punch, it doesn’t let the viewer off the hook easily and even after the final curtain falls, the effect lingers. I’ve now watched the final episode about 4 times and it still affects me in some profound way. It’s like being hit hard by one of those fabled Wulin Masters. The impact leaves you reeling. Halfway through the latest re-watch I suddenly started to well up, tears falling for no obvious reason. Maybe it was my subconscious mourning… for what, I couldn’t tell. Wŏ bù zhīdào.

As I said in my initial intro post, there are no subs, so it was inevitable that to get a full version of the story I would need some help. Thankfully my wonderful internet chingu Mookie has graciously helped out by answering countless questions and by transcribing parts of the drama for us linguistically lacking in the comments section @ this post. (episodes 1-4, you may want to hop over some MAJOR spoilers for the finale in the first comment-string though and avoid the later discussions for ep 5-8 as well, while you are at it). Well, I did get a little help from Mr. Google and an online dictionary as well, painstakingly translating each of the episode summaries I found. Some of the sentences proved to be too tough to crack and some of the stuff written made no sense what so ever. And sometimes I just guessed, ha. Anyways, the “translations” were helpful during the re-watch, giving me a better idea about some of the things going on.

Of Monks and Masters is one of those dramas best watched without spoilers. If you are interested in checking it out and want to experience the full impact, it works incredibly well even if you don’t understand Chinese. Luckily the director is very, very good and has the ability to tell the story visually in such a way that you catch a lot even without the help of the dialogue. Then you can just hop over to Mookie’s blog to find out what you missed. She has started to re-cap the drama from EP 5. The post I linked in the paragraph above also has a segment of background info (from the point of drama’s name in red, up to the “laughing man” screencap), which a is very usefull, non-spoilery read.

5 thoughts on “Of Monks and Masters – Round Two

  1. Pingback: Drama Grab Bag – A Touch of Drama

  2. I accidently found Of Monks and Masters on youtube and there was a subbed episode 6. I was totally hooked! But sadly, that was the only subbed episode. I am now hopping over to the link you provided for the recaps of other episodes. Thank you so much!

    • Oh, welcome to the wonderful world of well made wuxia.😉 Of Monks and Masters is still my fave cdrama and I don’t think it’ll topple from there in a hurry. Sadly Mookie morebor less stopped updating her blog around that time, so ep 5 is the only recap. Hope you can still enjoy the drama and if you feel like talking about it, I’m more than willing. ☺

  3. WOW. What a rare unicorn indeed!! I am amazed at how this show has captured you, my dear!! 😀 I’m still not ready to dive in (no subs! T.T) but I’m pretty convinced that this one is special, thanks to just how much you love it! ^^

    • Yup, that it is. I don’t even remember when I last watched something that caught me totally awares and then grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go. The funny thing is how glad I am. 🙂 Truly great shows are hard to find and I love that this one challenges me, makes me think – really hard at times. There is also so much visual info packed in each epi, that sometimes it feels like a sensory overload. I’ve watched some gorgeously filmed pieces but Monks is something else entirely. I’d almost call it brutally beautiful as the world the drama is set in also has a darker underbelly. It goes with the theme, I guess; good/evil, Budha/devil – all life has both darkness and light. The path you choose determines a lot of what you become but… what if fate/destiny has a say too?

      Go for it!^^ The story and how it’s told does carry you through surprisingly well and Mookie’s explanations/answers cover the rest. Give the first two episodes a go, they are a pair as the 2nd one is sort of a continuation for the 1st, and see what you think after that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.