Invincinble Shan Bao Mei 7: The Onset of A Crisis

Without further ado, the BBQ Toro Contest commences session — Wu Di-Shan Bao Mei team VS. the 15 years consecutive winner: Da Yan couple team. (You wonder why the Da Yan couple continues to win the contest? Well, because there’s no other competitors!)

Jay Chou’s Where’s the Promised Happiness? from his Capricorn album

While that’s taking part, a group of patriotic citizens are congregating in front of Tian Xiang Lou, cordially welcoming the four Kung-Fu-Master-dressing chiefs who are to be the saviors of Tian Xiang Lou and Asian Cuisine from the abominably berating Europeans. (Since when do the Taiwanese care so much about Chinese History? Aren’t they so adamant about differentiating themselves from Mainland China and become a country of their own?)

The four masters are: Huang Fei Hong (AKA Chief Guang), Bruce Lee (AKA Xiao Sa Ge), Huo Yuan Jia (AKA Hu Da Dao) and… and… er, Pork Rong (AKA Chi Xin Jie).

[Irugnotmis’s historical lesson: This guy, Pork Rong, his real name is Chen Xiang (陈享), he is a student of Huang Fei Hong and fonder of a set of martial arts called Choi Lay Fut. These martial arts references have historical significance. Huang Fei Hong, Pork Rong, and Huo Yuan Jia are all historical figures whose fame arisen from their resistance against oppressive European and Japanese invaders, ambassadors, and businessmen on Chinese soil. Invincible SBM is making the parallelism between actual historical events and Eight Nation Alliances’ call for war on Tian Xiang Lou.]

Unfortunately, despites Martin Luther King’s effort, prejudice still exists everywhere, donning various disguises. The welcome soon turns into a bitter discussion when the crowd realizes that the chiefs are from the roast meat shop where the flat-chested ghost haunts. Mistrust infuses the site — after all, what credential can these four people whip out of their grease stained sleeves?

While Wu Di and Shan Bao are enjoying a floppy version of tango where they bodies and arms entangle… or a flamboyant way of BBQing fish, Eight Nation Alliance and the judges have arrived at Tian Xiang Lou.

After 30 years, the wig wearer still remembers the milk tea event and challenges Chief Guang in a one-on-one. (Its significance is still beyond me, at least Shan Bao and Wu Di earn some time to make back to Tian Xiang Lou with toro. If they win that is. Or if a piece of toro just falls from the sky.) Chief Guang is being poisoned by the wig wearer and Wu Di lost the toro competition. Lose lose situation for Tian Xiang Lou.

Don’t fret yet, because the fortunate thing is, this is just a drama. 😀 So, after Shan Bao prays to the sky for a piece of toro, it really falls into her lap, all cut up and packaged. Except that’s no God or superior beings that throw them the fish out of generosity, it’s the Da Yan couple. The couple believe that Wu Di and Shan Bao Mei have poteital to become the next ‘Da Yan’ couple. (Then they must master the lession of being shameless lovers with lots of PDA first.) Once receiving the toro with inexplicable gratitude, they are on their way back to Tian Xiang Lou.

The competition has already started in Tian Xiang Lou. The Western side starts first since the Eastern side is still waiting for Toro. The topic, as established earlier, is love. To incorporate the feeling into the cuisine, the Western side chose the tragic story of Apollo’s unrequited love for Daphne. While the wig wearer is chanting the story in an out of tune, out of key version of The Phantom of the Opera, Chi Xin Jie and Xiao Sa Ge take part in reenacting the story. And the other chiefs are chopping every single vegetable on display, fish, crab, AND lobster and dumping them into hodge podge of a soup. When the story developed into the point where Daphne transforms herself into a laurel, the hodge podge turns completely red. (You would think it’d turn brown, nope, it turns blood red.) When the story is finally done recounting for the nth time, the soup has indeed turned brown. (Imagine how gross it would be to drink something that color. The vegetables are bound to turn bitter from being boiled extensively.) Just to be congruent with the phony, tragic mood, the chief completes the soup with a drop of tear to demonstrate Apollo’s broken heart. (Well, at the very least, we know the soup is going to be salty.)

The judges take a sip of the soup and start praising Eight Nation Alliance to no end. From their food material to the way the cutting was done (Um HELLO! that’s how you’re SUPPOSED to cut crabs and lobsters. Let’s stop being so novice and try sound a little more sophisticated.)

Now it’s Eastern cuisine’s turn to impress the judges. But Wu Di and Shan Bao are still on their way. As if on cue, the Eight Nation Alliance’s pre-ordered banner are carried in. Unveiling the dang thing, it says “Sick Man of Asia” — the historical term Europeans, especially the Japanese used to berate Chinese.

Immediately, feet are thumped, arms are waved, heads are shaken, any Chinese literate person on site is exchanging angry words with each other at the sight of the banner.

Fortunately, the farce is over the moment Shan Bao and Wu Di step into the room. (Thank goodness.) Judged by the way the two of them walk into the room together and proclaim their arrival as Wu Di Shan Bao Mei (Invincible Shan Bao Mei), they are unofficially an item. (It just takes a matter of time for them to become official.) Their arrival are welcomed by the crowd’s cheer but time isn’t on their side.

No worries, because Sun Wu Di has the perfect dish in mind. BBQ toro. Yup, they’ve just done it. The last one is just a practice, the real one is coming. Watch, watch! Sun Wu Di pulls Shan Bao close, he bends down and… kisses her. A long kiss it is. While Shan Bao’s family cover their eyes in disbelief and Wei Qing simply enlarges his eyes out of shock, Wu Di pulls Shan Bao up and says, “You are a real woman.” “I AM a woman! Only, I don’t have very large boobs.” (Oh yes, we’re back at that.) “My woman.” Wu Di adds, “Hu Shan Bao, from now on, let’s forget about our status and boy and girlfriends. You are only a woman and I a man. Watch me, trust me, and I will lead you to finish Toro Inseparable (or what I call BBQ toro, just less poetic and more practical).”

Time is reducing constantly. But Wu Di and Shan Bao are ready to cook. Wei Qing is on the side wiping his knife. (Some perverse juxtaposition, but definitely a gloomy omen.)

The real one starts… NOW! Under the soft background of the advised and much slowed opening theme song, the lovers start to cook. The song tells the story of their entire meeting, re-meeting, the little farce, and the countless rescuing. They dance, sway, swirl with the music until completion.

the finished product
the finished product

Under the sound of clapping, Wu Di turns to Shan Bao and confessions, “Hu Shan Bao, I’m really in love with you.” Then, bending down, he presses his lips onto hers…

Wei Qing watches cold eyed, still holding the glimmering knife. He starts to cut the rest of the cooked toro meat. *dung dung dung*

Toro Inseparable’s portrayal of the sweet sensation of first love prevails the bitter unrequited love of Apollo, marking Eight Nation Alliances’ first defeat. Enraged, the four men decide that this competition doesn’t count. (What a bunch of losers.)

With Tian Xiang Lou’s celebration, all major news stations broadcast the result of the competition on air. Each anchor delivers half of the news and expresses an unprofessional cheering, then recollecting their composure, and continue with the news. (The first time seeing it may be interesting, but three in a row, it gets a little old. Give me some creativity and I shall change my views about the drama!)

Defeating Eight Nation Alliance has induced a shift in Wu Di’s attitude. He calls uncle and asks him to come back to Tian Xiang Lou, agreeing to let go of the kidnap event. (Despite the change, he’s still the vain egotistical person that he was a day ago.) The uncle is moved by Wu Di’s change, yet he is not about to let go of the ownership he obtained through illegal means.

Even after the success of Toro Inseparable, our protagonists still choose to deny their feelings for each other. Playing hide-and-seek with the anomalistic sudden surge of emotion. But it’s ok, they’ll come around in no time.

Wei Qing leaves the rowdy celebration party to visit his little princess in the dark, cold hospital room. His angel is having a nightmare dream in which her mother partakes. Wei Qing watches her and lets his thoughts wander back to the past (which is actually cute.)

Wei Qing was working as a waiter then. One day, his wife comes to him during work. She sees him serving other people and knocks on the window to get his attention. He looks up, sees her, and smiles. She mouths to him that she’s pregnant. He is confused, misreading it as flower and starts to gesture. She smiles and shakes her head, presses closer to the window, she mouths again, slower this time, “I. Am. Pregnant.” He mouthes the same words after her to decipher the meaning and it hits him, his wife is pregnant, he is going to be a father! A wide smile spreads across his face. She smiles back in return. Wei Qing is so immersed in his own happiness, he takes no notice of the fact that he is spilling the water onto a customer’s arm. She watches him as he clumsily wipes the customer’s arm and laughs widely at his shock…

But she’s no longer there. He rests his head on his hands and starts crying. How am I ever going to get use to living without you by my side? He wonders to himself in pain. Even if he misses her dearly, there is absolutly nothing that can fill up the emptiness in his heart. (So now his favorite pasttime is to inflict pain on other people and flirt with rich women.)

However much Wu Di wants to stop himself from falling for Shan Bao, it’s however much he wants to see Zu An. Because her presence reminds him his proper girlfriend is still Ji Zu An, not Hu Shan Bao. Zu An comes to the top of Tian Xiang Lou to find Wu Di. After pressing the doorbell n times, she lets herself in. She calls for him but no one answers, so she traverses across the rooms to make sure he isn’t hiding in a corner, curled up all drunk and depressed. Walking into the bedroom, she sees the portray of herself next to Wu Di, then a wall of pictures of the two of them. She reminiscences a bit, then her phone rings. Picking up, Wu Di’s voice transmits across the receiver. He starts singing to her and asking her to stay for the night. She questions the reason he had kept Eight Nation Alliance’s declaration of war from her, emphasizing that she wants to be there for him during hardships. (I thought they were over. Oh I forget, it’s common for couples to split and get back together, split again, and make up again. Each split is its own drama.) New promises of Us are made, and the talk of marriage are agreed upon. Sun Wu Di went as far as to give Zu An the stamp with his name on it. (In TW, the stamp is equivalent to the signature, which is a rather insecure way to handle legal documents. IMO. Dear Sun Wu Di, you had just given up your ownership. God knows if Zu An’s ambitious father won’t “take” the stamp from her and use it on documents for his own good.)

She is taken aback by the gesture of the absolute trust, as if all of the discussion of marriage and what it means is nothing but playful flirtation between the lovers. He assures that by giving the stamp to her, he has committed the rest of his life with her. She accepts it, but leaves time to testify the sincerity of his gesture.

That night, when Zu An returns home, she hands her father the stamp and says, “You won’t believe it, he actually gave me this.” (I was right! *headdesks*)

The following morning, the horrific yet inevitable news comes out of incubation — the spectators who have been present for the cook off against Eight Nation Alliance have all been sent to the hospital for food poisoning. Sun Wu Di is in deep doodoo.

This is a comedy, so if you look at it as an avenue of media whose (sole) purpose is to transmit the viewer with 70 minutes of positive energy, then the drama becomes languid when it comes to the vitality of the plot and execution (especially execution) — that is not to say that this drama lacks merit. It does. But its merit lies in the creativity of the review set at the beginning of each new episode — only if dear Shan Bao screenwriter can apply a fraction of the same creativity to the actual episode, the drama would be a lot more watchable.

BUT (notice the big but!) this episode is a better than the last two (certainly more bearable). Hence the quicker recap. 🙂

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