I’d say I’m a big bookworm when it comes to webtoons and online novels. Webtoons just has this magic where your eyes look at images and texts and somehow three minutes later you’re angry at a drawing of a fictional character. Of course, it’s the same with novels. We read texts, next thing we know we’re getting kilig from the imagery of characters in our mind doing what the book tells. Fascinating, right?
As a bookworm, we tend to look for more stories that make us entertained or take our interest, and that’s exactly what I did a year or two ago. I came across an online manhua titled “Mo Dao Zu Shi” or “Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation”. Mo Dao Zu Shi is adapted from a Chinese novel written by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu with the same title. It’s a Xianxa, Adventure, Mystery, Drama, and Supernatural novel.
I find it very interesting, since in my years of reading online novels and webtoons, this is by far the most unique one I’ve read. And just around the end of June, I started to watch its live-action adaptation on Netflix titled “The Untamed”. And oh boy, it’s AMAZING. I would blabber about how good it is right now but I’ll save it for later in the blog.
With that said, let me tell you what The Untamed is about, that it’s good, and why YOU should watch it.
16 years in the past, the jianghu world is ruled by the powerful Wen sect, which dominates over the smaller Lan, Jiang, Nie and Jin sects. The cheerful, mischievous, carefree Wei Wuxian, adoptive son of the Jiang clan, becomes fast friends with the righteous and duty-minded Lan Wangji during an educational seminar hosted every year at the Lan clan's compound. Things become complicated when, during their adventures, the pair find out that the head of the Wen sect is the evil mastermind behind a series of plots that would wreak havoc upon the lands.
In the present, Wei Wuxian is universally reviled as a practitioner of the dark arts; despite having been presumed dead for almost 16 years, he is portrayed as a vicious, bloodthirsty monster and his name is used to frighten children. Mo Xuanyu, the badly-abused nephew of the Mo clan head and the only cultivator in his otherwise mundane clan, uses a dark ritual to summon the spirit of Wei Wuxian into his own body and bind him with a curse that forces Wei Wuxian to punish Mo Xuanyu's enemies. While Wei Wuxian struggles to figure out what has happened in the world since his death and complete his curse-enforced mission, he ends up encountering Lan Wangji. The two work together to solve a series of murder mysteries, eventually finding and defeating the true culprit.
The story itself is interesting on its own. It has great fantasy, suspenseful action, and a heart-aching drama. I honestly can’t say much about the story or else I might end up spoiling it. The story does not just revolve around Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. It includes a lot of backstories that might seem unnecessary, but as the story goes on, these are small pieces put together to make one big image. There’s a lot of plot twists and unexpected relationships between characters which surely will catch you off-guard. The Untamed tells the story about family and friends, foes, justice, and oneself. It might not look like it at your first watch but there’s romance between Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji, but it has never been emphasized due to media censorship. Despite that fact however, the producers of the show managed to tell their love chemistry.
Although different in their own ways, actors are able to capture their character’s identity. It’s almost as if it’s real life rather than a show. But of course, it’s not, because duh, it’s a fantasy. It has magic things. The main actors Sean Xiao and Wang Yibo depicted Wei Wuxian (Sean Xiao) and Lan Wangji (Wang Yibo) perfectly. Both actors portrayed their characters very well and accurately like in the novel. Even if both character’s traits are opposite, Sean Xiao and Wang Yibo made it seem like they are partners-in-crime.
As much as I hate the antagonists, I can’t deny that the actors that played them are good. They really became the pests of the show and they’re so irritating that you’ll despite them until the end, because that’s their role as an enemy, to make you feel irritated, angry, and annoyed.
The Untamed’s dramatic scenes arise when the story is focused on the character’s emotions, usually main characters’. If I’m going to be honest, it’s hard to not cry while watching if you’re a crybaby, especially on scenes and stories that you’ll most likely relate to. As I said, it tells a story about family and friends, and—lowkey—love.
Fight scenes are common scenes throughout the show and it happens to be my most favourite scenes. I have no exact word of explaining this, but gravity physics is different in this show. Its fight scenes are not your typical sword to sword fight scene because there’s no fight scenes as graceful as the ones in The Untamed. No matter how gruesome it is, it will always be graceful, as if they’re dancing instead of fighting but somehow still give the vibes of suspense, agress, and domination.
II. Cinematography and Settings
I’d be lying if I said that The Untamed’s cinematography is not the best part of the show. Not only that it is smooth and well done, it captures the beauty of the settings as well. The Untamed is mostly filmed in a lot of Chinese provinces where there are countless mountain views, beautiful waterfalls and lakes, and historical villages and structures.
The breath-taking cinematography captured all its beauty, but still focused on the story. I just really love how they directed the cinematography, as it’s one of the elements that keeps the audience watching. The cinematographers took their time in making this element perfect.
III. Costumes & Props
When it comes to costumes and props, The Untamed’s producers aren’t here to play. Each character’s costumes have their own unique style, it depends on what state they are in the story. The costumes have around 5-6 major themes, each corresponding to the clan they belong in.
JIANG CLAN (Wei Wuxian’s Clan)
LAN CLAN (Lan Wangji’s Clan)
Another gem that The Untamed has is its props, one of which is the character’s signature weapon or instrument.
Lan Wangji’s sword ‘Bichen’
Wei Wuxian’s flute ‘Chenqing’
IV. Music and Original Sountrack
The Untamed’s OST is heavily influenced by traditional Chinese music. The music is soothing and peaceful yet still fitting in the show, especially the time it's set. The show’s main OST is titled “Wuji” sung by the main actors Sean Xiao and Wang Yibo.
I cannot stress this enough: the efforts put into this show is amazingly huge and well thought over. It’s not that type of fantasy drama where they’re just in one studio and overuses greenscreen. The Untamed really went on their way filming on different settings, making well-designed costumes, composing music, and making fiction feel real to make the fantasy its best version. This is one of the reasons I enjoyed watching The Untamed, it’s because the efforts of the producers, cast, and anyone who contributed to this show is impossible to disregard. But of course, that’s my opinion. Go and see it for yourself, let me know your opinion!
The Untamed is by far my most favourite show ever, even if it’s a completely different genre from what I usually watch. The story is long yet it gets more and more interesting as it goes on, it’s fantastic in terms of production, and also because the actors are cute (just kidding, but they really are talented). One thing to keep in mind though, if you’re afraid of massive amounts of blood, maybe The Untamed is not for you. Though, if you don’t mind being scared of blood just for the story, suit yourself.
Now, stop reading this and go watch the show here!! : https://www.netflix.com/title/81200228
Lana is a Founder of HDA and is editor of this blog, there are many contributors on this blog, if you would like to be a contributor please contact me!
Edited by: Vibrational