Directors: Xie Min Yang, Fok Chi-kai
Cast: Lawrence Wong, Qi Yu Wu, Kate Kinney, Jeanette Aw, Tay Ping Hui, Debbie Goh, Jojo Goh and Koe Yeet
Language: Mandarin with various subtitles
Streaming on iQiyi from 24 August
3 out of 5 stars
This review covers the first eight episodes of The Ferryman: Legends Of Nanyang.
A remake of iQiyi’s 2014 drama of the same title, The Ferryman: Legends Of Nanyang shifts its setting to Singapore and features ghosts from a range of folklore and myths. It stars Lawrence Wong as a convenience store worker Xia Dong Qing, who has been gifted with “Yin Yang eyes” by the "soul ferryman" Zhao Li (Qi Yu Wu). The special pair of eyes allows him to see ghosts and communicate with them. Together, they help souls with unfinished business to move on from the living world.
Legends Of Nanyang is a rather faithful remake, with each episode illustrating a different ghost story. All the first eight episodes, except episode five (more on that later), have the same stories as the original The Ferryman, although the sequence may not be exactly the same. It is quite literally changing only the setting to Southeast Asia, and adding regional cultures like Nonya and Indian traditions. This is a little disappointing as I thought they would feature more regional ghost stories, rather than popular myths like the nine-tailed fox.
If I were to choose the best episode out of the eight, it would be episode three, titled Ghost On The Bed. It is a well-developed story that maintains a level of spookiness and suspense, with subtle hints dropped along the way. In fact, it also packs a tear-jerking revelation towards the end of the episode.
The only entirely new story (so far) with more regional flavour is episode five, titled Meeting, which focuses on the Japanese occupation of Singapore. But one thing to note is that the original The Ferryman has 20 episodes, while Legends Of Nanyang has 36. This means that we may be able to see more regional stories in the upcoming episodes.
As for the plot, there seems to be a lot of mystery surrounding the character Xia Dong Qing. While it is a way to build suspense, the plot does not have a strong enticing factor, such as an ultimate goal or a nemesis, to keep the audience hooked. The drama may lose some of its audience before anything substantially intriguing, for example the dragon spirit played by Tay Ping Hui, kicks in.
The mystery also resulted in a vague relationship between Xia Dong Qing and Zhao Li. Although they are supposed to be partners, it is unclear why Zhao Li chose Xia Dong Qing and what he needs him for. Zhao Li seems to do his job as a ferryman perfectly well without Xia Dong Qing in the first place.
The Ferryman: Legends Of Nanyang may not be captivating in the beginning, but hopes are still high for its upcoming episodes. Two new episodes will be added each day from Tuesday to Thursday each week at 8pm (SGT). iQiyi VIP members can get early access to six more episodes.
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