While there were differences in aesthetics between different races, in general, there were still some commonalities.
For example, Duan Xiubo, was masculine and handsome and had the steady characteristics of adult men. His handsome facial features combined with his strong aura attracted a large number of fans in China who wanted to send themselves to his bed. Overseas, however, his popularity was still undiminished because his looks could also be appreciated outside of his race and as a result of his debut in Hollywood, his fan base was stronger than many local European and American stars.
There are not many stars like him in Asia, and those who could make a name for themselves in Hollywood were Chinese-Americans. For a long time, varied reasons, including cultural differences, have hindered the development of domestic artists. This shortcoming was not easy to rectify.
The first was language.
Nowadays, although language training was being carried out everywhere, most artists, especially those who are currently active, were mostly of poor origin. When they were young, they did not have the resources to learn more. They finally made their mark after struggling for decades in the entertainment industry. Suddenly, they will be told to learn a new language. They then take time out of their busy work schedules to force themselves to forget their mother tongue and memorize phonetic transcriptions.
Despite this, they usually still need a long period of training before they can speak a barely grammatically correct spoken English. However, just as foreigners can never find the right level of fluency when they learn Chinese, foreigners also feel the same as when listening to Chinese people speak foreign languages without sufficient experience.
The biggest impact of the language barrier was the failure to truly understand what was being said by others during interviews. One can only convey words through an interpreter. You can’t identify the real intention of the other person through the use of tone and subtlety and as such you will feel fear while answering.
In this regard no one would be spared. Luo Ding had also experienced this. When he became highly sought after in the China, he had travelled abroad and made a lot of mistakes and omissions when given the microphone to speak. When the recordings were transmitted back to China, people mocked him for being illiterate and humiliating. The reporters in the audience also could not conceal their strange looks. If it was not for his tenacity, he would not have been able to put on an indifferent expression.
Fortunately, he had an old heart wrapped under his young skin. Decades of knowledge was enough for him to handle this small occasion.
His eyes, pierced by the flashing camera lights, hurt. Luo Ding smiled indistinctly while standing in a line, hand in hand, with the crew members and bowing to the audience. Duan Xiubo, who stood on his right, held on extremely tight to the palm of his hand. When he finally released it, Luo Ding did not know whether his slowness was intentional or unintentional.
Luo Ding glanced at him while the other was introducing himself with the microphone in hand. It seemed that he became aware of Luo Ding’s gaze, so he turned around and stared at him with a gentle expression.
The audience on the stage obviously knew Duan Xiubo. In the open air, the screams of the women in the audience were particularly clear.
After hastily introducing himself, Duan Xiubo naturally reached out and put his arm around Luo Ding’s shoulders, took a few steps, and introduced him with a smile: “This is my very good friend. He’s young, handsome, talented, and has also collaborated with me on a few projects in China. I was really happy when I learned that I could work with him again.”
Luo Ding knew that Duan Xiubo was supporting him, and that his introduction was intended to warn the media in the audience not to go too far. European and American journalists were more fierce than domestic ones. This was probably a common problem in the media. Taking things out of context to draw the attention of netizens was the same across several Pacific Oceans.
“Actually.” The reporters looked at each other, and they appeared cautious. Their scripts with some questions about Luo Ding’s accent could only be temporarily put on hold. They put down their cue cards and reorganized their questions. “Mr. Luo Ding, you are only twenty, right? “
Luo Ding gave Duan Xiubo an affirmative look and motioned that he would respond. Duan Xiubo opened his mouth and closed it again.
Luo Ding looked into the questioner’s eyes: “To be precise, I’m almost twenty-four.”
A standard American-English accent, there was nothing to nitpick at, which was relatively rare among newcomers. His calm and natural attitude and slightly playful tone also made reporters realize that the other party did not seem to be as soft as he looks and could not simply be manipulated by anyone.
“How did you get this role?”
“Of course, through an audition. I am playing the role I should play.”
“Did anyone compete with you?”
“Of course,…,” Luo Ding kept staring at him with a smile and interrupted when he wanted to ask further questions. “…Of course, I can’t tell you who the other party is. He will be angry.”
There was a burst laughter below.
His generous and natural attitude won him a lot of favor. The reporters’ implied answers to him, that was different from the feedback given to ordinary actors from Asia, was also quite useful. This was how interviews worked, why speak vaguely about topics that can be discussed directly?
“People are unfamiliar with you and old fans of the franchise are very uncomfortable with Carmen’s decision to employ you for this role. Do you have any response to this?”
Luo Ding took a look at Clovis and met his gaze which seemed to ask if Luo Ding wanted him to come forward, smiled faintly, raised his lips, and said indifferently: “I’m used to it. It’s like this everywhere, I just made my debut in China and while the movie was filming, everyone was noisier than this.”
Everyone was a little surprised: “What about now?”
“Now they’re all my fans.” Luo Ding blinked at him proudly. “When I was travelling here to film “Blade Warrior III”, they were reluctant to let me leave. In a few months, you would not want me to go back.”
Their laughter suddenly grew louder.
Luo Ding breathed a sigh of relief. This is was precisely the national condition.
If these remarks were uttered to a domestic outlet, it would be strange for reporters to not verbally criticize him. No one who appears overtaken by pride and self-satisfaction will ever receive a response like this. At home, modesty and prudence have become an artist’s duty.
But that habit cannot be used indiscriminately in Europe and the United States. In the past, when faced with questions from reporters, he had said vaguely, “I can’t.” “Xx is better than me.” “I’m just lucky.”
At that time, many people took such evasiveness seriously.
Western modesty is much more straightforward than that of China. Occasionally speaking confidently will actually make people view you favorably.
Luo Ding’s appearance was convenient. He looked very young, and among Caucasians, this sort of slender and handsome appearance was only seen in immature teenagers. However, the beautiful teenage years were always short. When many entertainers first debuted, they were beautiful and slick, but after a few movies, they slowly became rough men with square jaws. So, it was pleasing to see an adult who met the aesthetic standards and still had a fresh and pleasant temperament. Most people who saw his face could find nothing bad to say.
Clovis interjected in a timely manner: “Are you satisfied with him?”
The audience members at the rear cupped their mouth with their hands and, in a loud voice, said: “Very awesome!”
“Then thank you for your confidence. In order to further reassure you, a set of makeup photos taken by the crew on the set of “Blade Warrior III” will be released tomorrow. I hope you will like it.”
How was this a launch ceremony? It was clearly a simple press conference.
But though the launch event was simple, its effect was not simple at all.
News media at home and abroad faithfully reported the live situation at the press conference. Once this news was broadcasted, film fans who had been expecting new content came out one after another. Major media headlines mentioned the movie, and Luo Ding, who had been introduced by Clovis at the press conference, naturally attracted a lot of attention.
At first people felt that Luo Ding’s appearance was unexpected.
The Asians that European and American directors liked to use, with the exception of Duan Xiubo and Tommy Lee, had many consistent features. That is, wheat-colored skin, small eyes, flat features, and high cheekbones. This was the impression that most Europeans and Americans, had of Chinese people. The more distinct the characters in the movie were, the better it was to make people associate their faces with Asians.
Further, no one was interested in searching through Chinese entertainment news for his name, so before Luo Ding’s official appearance, the image associated with in his name in the minds of most people were the stereotypical traditional aesthetics of Asians.
However, the expected wheat-skinned, small-eyed man was suddenly replaced by handsome young man … No, in their mind, it should be a beautiful young man. The huge contrast caused many objectors who saw the group and individual shots to lose their voice for a moment.
Clovis and Duan Xiubo had clearly rushed to be his backers, this, added to Luo Ding’s very concise self-expression, made it such that the news media were more careful when describing him. Therefore, the focus of their reports was to praise Luo Ding’s temperament and grace. In his humorous conversation, his “authentic standard accent” was also emphasized.
The significance of this compliment was no less than Chinese media praising a foreigner for their “fluent Beijing dialect”. In a short time, Luo Ding won countless favor from the masses.
The pre-taken makeup photos were released just when the information from the media had been fired to its highest point. Clovis had always done what he says. So, first of all the quality of the photos that were shot to respond to doubters was first-class. The lead actors first took a solemn group photo while dressed in the armor of their different characters, then, they took a group photo while smiling despite the tensions between them in the movie. This cute contrast won the first round.
Then came the individual appearances of each character.
It must be said that a good face was also a type of talent that allowed people to quickly get an advantage that others do not have on various occasions.
In the group photo, Luo Ding, who laughed at the camera, was so beautiful that people couldn’t ignore his presence at a glance. If that was from a long-range perspective, then the close-up shot was just crazy.
The beautiful boy in the picture had silky black hair flowing behind him. He was wearing the powerful golden armor from the blade army battle. The totem of the wolf in the details of the armor roared at the camera. But, while turned to the side, and holding the helmet that he had not yet put on his head, he stared distantly into the distance.
The vine-like marks that demonstrated the bloodline unique to the Eastern continent spread from his neck to his ears. The broad neckline of the armor and collar made the birthmark, with its green leaf vines, visible on his fair skin. This contrast made the young man seem to almost be filled with light and aura, like an elf leaping out of the forest.
From his profile, his facial features were exquisite and impeccable.
Women simply went crazy. He gave a totally different feeling from the beauty of a man with a muscular body. A kind of desire to cherish and possess fragile and beautiful things in nature was vividly displayed by them.
All doubts could go to hell! They could hardly imagine the picture of such a beautiful teenager changing from 2D to 3D and watching him through 3D glasses! Such a pair of pure eyes could cause them to stop breathing!
In addition to women, male audiences were also more forgiving of Luo Ding.
To most men who were looking for muscles and bronze skin, he was the epitome of a teenager who had not yet grown up! Why be so harsh on a teenager? What’s more, though he was still so delicate, he fully satisfied the aesthetic taste of straight men. Movies also need beautiful scenery!
The video of the launch conference was shown in China and naturally caused a thousand waves.
All kinds of questions were silenced by this press conference. Many had speculated that Luo Ding would be replaced before the filming, or that he just went to Hollywood to play the role of an extra. All these voices were dispelled by Clovis’ statement that he was playing an “important supporting role”. Luo Ding’s relaxed attitude at the press conference also made his fans very proud.
“My family’s son is just different! He’s fearless in the face of danger!”
Fans were good at digging out hype points. Following his impeccable face and figure and his cool dance style, Luo Ding’s spoken language, on the spot responses and general demeanor also defeated fans. The makeup photos which they brought back from over the wall attracted much attention in China. Major portals reprinted them with numerous comments. The subsequent evaluation of Luo Ding by foreign media also made him gain the favor of a group of patriots who did not pursue stars in China.
Under all kinds of expectations, filming for “Blade Warrior III” finally began.
The film, “Blade Warrior”, was set on a distant continent. The mainland was divided into four sections: east, west, south, and north. The stormy seas and oceans were used as divisions, so that the people of the four continents could safely live in their own territory. To cross these stormy seas and oceans, if there were no dragon mounts, the price to be paid would absolutely be terrible.
Of the four continents, the people of the east continent were called heretics because of their different beliefs. The missionaries of the Holy See came to the Eastern continent on dragon mounts and slaughtered the pure blooded royal family of the Eastern Continent using plots and conspiracies and turned the East into a colony of the Northern Continent.
The development of the Holy See in the Eastern Continent became more and more prosperous, and slowly the people of Eastern Continent gradually forgot the nightmare they had written in blood. However, in a corner that no one knew about, a pure-blooded royal baby of the Eastern Continent survived and was secretly taken to the Northern Continent after his birth.
The first story focuses on the disputes between two other continents. The people of the western continent resisted the Holy See’s aggression which was waged in the name of cleaning out Heretics. The story of the Eastern China Sea was only briefly mentioned here. The baby appeared in the second story, and it was the protagonist of the second story, Alston.
This is how their story began.
Alston grew up in the Holy See. Although his pure eastern continent ancestry made him look different from the people of the northern continent, he did not have the vine pattern that appeared in moments of emotional excitement so he was no different from the mixed race people who had immigrated to the Northern Continent and did not arouse the vigilance of others in the Holy See.
However, there were still people in the world who found him disagreeable to the eye. Alston was tricked and forced to join the expeditionary army to destroy the blade army of the western continent. However, he was accidently rescued by the blade soldiers in the middle of the expedition. Under various circumstances, he and the people of the blade army forged a deep friendship, and when he was finally found by the expeditionary forces, he could no longer bring himself to kill the members of the blade army. After a fierce battle with some villains, the people of the blade army, not only for their own protection, but also to protect Alston, collectively surrendered to Alston and returned to the northern continent with him.
The ending was very happy. The Pope was extremely satisfied with the surrender of the Blade’s Army and even granted Alston a noble title, allowing him to rise to the upper ranks, and push his opponents to the bottom.
However, in the middle of that story, he had learned of his pure Eastern bloodline and about his personal history. The blood and deep hatred between the tribe and the Holy See made his sense of belonging to the Holy See turn to nothing. Thus, the conflict between him and the Holy See would undoubtedly erupt violently one day.
This foreshadowing made many people feel thrilled. The influence of the Holy See had become more and more prominent among the several continents. The people with mixed ethnicities from the Eastern continent had been at the bottom of society for many years and had become accustomed to being constrained and violated. Alston was also considered by many to have Eastern ancestry, so his road to a title had been extremely difficult. Apart from the blade warriors guarding him, he had no other help.
The plot of the third part was naturally directed at the contradiction between the Holy See and Alston. With his title, Alston had become a thorn in the eyes of many people, and every step was extremely difficult. Even bigger opponents pursued him, including Moulin Gree, who was one of the bishops of the Holy See that had launched the massacre in the East.
Alston’s bloodline was discovered by mistake, as such, he and the soldiers of the blade army embarked on a journey to escape being hunted and to search for the original allies of the Eastern Continent. But the elves rejected his request for help. Moulin Gree sent almost all available hands to pursue him, and on the way, Alston’s friends all died one by one, until finally it was time to grieve over Alfred.
Spurred on by the huge grief that resulted from the death of Alfred. The magical talents from the Eastern continent awakened in his bloodline. He repulsed the pursuing troops and retreated. The elves, who had changed their minds after Alston’s magical talent revealed itself, united all other races with the exception of humans in the Northern Continent to fight back against the Holy See. People who had been oppressed for years and who also had Eastern ancestry also joined the cause without hesitation and finally caused the Holy See to hold up a white flag.
The war was won.
That’s all the movie was about.
As for how Alfred survived that initial massacre in the East, this did not matter.
The plot may seem easy, but there were many fight scenes and special effects. Dragons, Elven forests, magic, crossing the sea of storms, etc., all the effects, in addition to the death of the protagonists, were sensational when placed together.
A few days before starting up, as usual, the crew chose some simple scenes to shoot.
Luo Ding was lying on the bed, and the paint brush behind him was itchy. But no matter how it itched, he could only twitch his muscles a few times without moving.
The painter smiled and painted a thick green line: “Wait a minute, there are still a few vines left on the shoulder, just stick with it.”
Clovis chose the scene where Alfred was discovered by Alston as the first shoot.
The royal family of the eastern continent had magical talents. As a reference, pure blooded people of the royal family will have gorgeous totems on different parts of their body. This totem was like a pigeon blood tattoo. It appeared when they were emotional and in distress. In order to keep his secret, Alfred’s foster father had him drink the holy water from the fountain of Pontifical Square every day. However, eventually Alfred’s adoptive parents, after discovering Alfred’s abnormality expelled Alfred from their home out of fear. However, they did not publicize Alfred’s secrets anywhere. After all, their discovery of Alfred’s life history was also a disaster for them.
Alfred’s archery was powerful, which was why he was able to join the Blade’s Army. His eastern features made Alston feel very close to him. Initially, Alston had no intention to uncover Alfred’s history but after spotting certain clues during a martial arts competition between himself and Alfred, he broke in while Alfred was in a bath and pretended to attack him with a big sword, forcing the complete pattern on Alfred’s back to emerge and for them to recognize each other.
Though he was puzzled, Luo Ding was not unhappy that his semi-nude scene had been chosen as the first shoot. As a professional, he had long been used to these petty little issues.
In order for it to be waterproof, the paint needed to be sprayed with a layer of liquid that will be waterproof after drying. Wu Fangyuan who was afraid that Luo Ding might catch cold after he getting off the bed, quickly brought a bathrobe to put on him from back to front. It was better to not touch the decorative pattern before the painter gave go ahead.
Wearing low-waist jeans, a bathrobe, and his back naked, Luo Ding went out of the dressing room.
The crew was preparing for the scene, and the specially built bath pool had been cleaned up. Though the weather had turned cool, there was no steam coming out of the water. Luo Ding determined that it was a pool of cold water.
Going to the pool, he kicked off his slipper and dipped in his toe. Fortunately, the water was a bit warm. Clovis was not too inhuman.
For the sake of filming, of course, it was impossible to actually use hot water, and the effect of water vapor could be replaced by carbon dioxide.
“You’re here.” Clovis looked serious when he saw Luo Ding. “Turn around and let me see how it looks.”
Luo Ding turned his back to the crowd generously, and immediately caused a small exclamation.
“Very good.” Even Clovis’s eyes brightened. He stared at Luo Ding’s back. Luo Ding’s body was much stronger than he thought. Although he was thin, his delicate muscle lines were quite beautiful. Originally, he thought that the other party would have the unsightly chicken figure that would not look good on camera, but now it seems that he had underestimated Luo Ding too much.
The deep and light green lines drawn on the delicate skin meandered and twisted and was amazing when compared with Luo Ding’s complexion, which was exceptionally fair because he did not see the sun.
“Hey, Clovis, where is the prop master? My scabbard …” Duan Xiubo frowned and walked over wearing Alston’s gorgeous long robe and holding his big sword. After coming over, he looked down intently at the gap in the scabbard where a jewel was missing and walked closer to the camera. Realizing that he had been ignored he then subconsciously glanced at the direction of everyone’s gaze.
Then he paused.
His eyes were stuck on Luo Ding’s back, and he could not tear them away. After the shooting for the inside pages of “Fashion” magazine, this was the second time he was seeing Luo Ding’s body so clearly in the sun. After a few months, the lines on Luo Ding’s waist were thinner and more beautiful than in his memory. His shoulder blades were raised because of his straight back, and the arcs were amazingly beautiful. The long wig had been thrown across his chest, and the line of his entire back stretched up and down so smoothly from his thin and long jade neck to his light-colored low-waist jeans.
Even more attractive were the pattern of vines that had been carefully drawn out on his skin.
Duan Xiubo had forgotten for a moment what he wanted to say, and it was Clovis’ actions that drew his mind back.
Clovis excitedly pulled Duan Xiubo’s wrist and walked towards Luo Ding. He then pointed at the pattern on Luo Ding’s back and said to him, “For a while, you need to remember your movements. First you need to chase him fiercely with your sword. Remember that your actions must be a bit fierce. The vines will grow out of thin air in the next shot. In short, after you discover his secret, you must turn him over and press him against the wall of the pool in surprise, and then, Remember, you should use your fingers to gently, very gently touch these patterns. Be sure to be light and gentle! In addition to showing your emotions, you must remember that although this pigment would not wash off, it will fall off easily if you rub it casually.”
Duan Xiubo’s mouth was dry and he stroked the pattern gently for a while.
His eyes reluctantly moved from Luo Ding’s back and swept towards the other’s face. Luo Ding turned his head and tried to see his back. Because of his strong movement, the blue vein protruding on his neck made the lines on his neck and face tighten to the extreme and revealed the delicate fragility of luxury goods.
Duan Xiubo couldn’t restrain his actions. With Clovis’s words, he reached out his hands and slowly stroked the skin on Luo Ding’s back.
The gentle caress of fingertips rubbing against skin made people think of something very strange so Clovis paused for a moment and looked closely for a while, but he felt that the strength and curvature were in line with his requirements, so he nodded.
After hearing Clovis’s request, Luo Ding was a little speechless. He thought about Duan Xiubo’s eyes that could not wait to swallow him alive and thought that indeed this was what he was really afraid of.
But how could he know that Duan Xiubo was so brave? !! The place was so full of people and he still touched him!
Luo Ding was almost scared enough to jump away. He barely resisted after hearing Duan Xiubo’s question to Clovis. The muscles on his began to twitch frantically because of the other’s touch. God knew how much perseverance he lost before he could evade it.
Clovis returned to the director’s shed to prepare. Duan Xiubo’s hands had not been retracted. He lowered his head and traced the top-down pattern with a serious attitude. He felt Luo Ding’s muscles tighten and he drew closer to his back.
“Ticklish?” Hot breath poured into Luo Ding’s ear.
Luo Ding smiled and said: “Yes. How can I not be ticklish. But are you not afraid of pain?”
Luo Ding turned around and grabbed Duan Xiubo’s wrist with a smile. While laughing, he twisted the skin hard inside the latter’s arm.
“Does it hurt?”
“…” Duan Xiubo found that the other party seemed angry, and his momentum suddenly wilted a lot, and nodded weakly, “It hurts.”
After changing into another pair of pants, Luo Ding walked barefoot into the bath with his bare feet and slid to the side of the pool with the slightest movement and lay on his back.
The water had completely cooled from the prior lukewarm temperature, and the chill penetrated through his pores, but he did not even tremble, and his expression was very quiet.
The machines and staff were on standby, Clovis was not on the scene and stared at the monitor in the shed outside the set and directed remotely.
Luo Ding adjusted his expression, changed his posture, and then was completely motionless.
“Ok! 3! 2! 1! Action!”
Almost as soon as his words landed, the door of the bath was kicked open.
After the Shangchi trailer was released a week or so ago, there was a big hoopla about the lead characters, Simu Liu and Awkwafina. Apparently Chinese audiences did not like the trailer much, because the leads did not fit their aesthetic preferences (this is aside from political issues i.e. the original comics being based on “Fu Manchu” a character that embodied the west’s historical Sinophobia, read about the “Red Scare”).
So, reading this chapter again, the author’s description of thoughts regarding Luo Ding’s looks feels even more accurate in light of the ShangChi fall out.
That said this chapter was quite tedious to translate because the author was rather effusive and overly descriptive throughout. -__-
Finally, a big thank you to all who have donated on Ko-Fi since my last post. Alice, McJohnston, Lenette, unnamed Kofi-Supporters 1 and 2, Amudo Bun and Susan. I really appreciate you all.
P.S I could not proofread too closely today. Please let me know if you find any errors. Thanks
 This is in reference to the internet blockade in china where foreign news is generally not permitted in. This blockade is informally called the great wall of china. So, fans using VPN often “climb over the wall” for content and vice versa.
 Alfred is played by Luo Ding, Alston is Duan Xiubo.
 Also known as an invisible tattoo technique that apparently appear after drinking pigeon blood (TN: shocked face)