BLAST FROM THE PAST: Sneak peek at A Quest to Heal’s Ming dynasty looks

How do Carrie Wong, Xu Bin, Qi Yuwu and more look in their ancient Chinese costumes?

Qi Yuwu, Carrie Wong, and Xu Bin in their Ming dynasty costumes
Qi Yuwu, Carrie Wong, and Xu Bin in their Ming dynasty costumes
07 Nov 2019

Qi Yuwu, Carrie Wong, and Xu Bin in their Ming dynasty costumes

We were sitting in the Mediacorp imaging studio yesterday morning (Nov 6), waiting to speak to the cast of A Quest to Heal, when a bearded figure in traditional Chinese robes walked in, lamenting about his facial hair.

Executive producer Leong Lye Lin must have caught us staring in confusion. “That’s Xu Bin,” she grinned.

Indeed, the usually clean-shaven, youthful-looking actor was virtually unrecognisable in his role as Li Shizhen, the famed Ming dynasty physician who is considered the father of Chinese medicine. We even thought he was Tay Ping Hui for a split second (or is it just us?).

About seven out of A Quest to Heal’s 30 episodes take place 400 years in the past, making this the first time a Channel 8 production has major scenes set in such an ancient era since - cue drumroll - 2000’s The Legendary Swordsman (last year’s Till We Meet Again - The Prequel was also a period drama, but aired exclusively on Toggle). Filming in Hengdian, China commences later this month.

Also donning ancient Chinese threads were Carrie Wong, Qi Yuwu, Bryan Wong, Ya Hui, and Jeffrey Xu. While Xu Bin and Ya Hui play two different characters (one from present-day Singapore and the other from the past), the rest star as Ming dynasty denizens who get to experience time travel.

(Continued on next slide: Carrie Wong is worried about her martial arts scenes)

Carrie Wong is worried about her martial arts scenes
Carrie Wong is worried about her martial arts scenes
07 Nov 2019

Carrie Wong is worried about her martial arts scenes

As the show’s Chinese title - which literally translates to Swordswoman Luo Ming Yi - suggests, Carrie will have quite a fair bit of action scenes as the titular character.

“I’ll have wire stunts, sword-fighting, and horse-riding,” she shared. “To be honest, I’m a little bit worried that I won’t be able to keep up with all the physical activity because I don’t have experience with martial arts and I don’t usually work out very often.”

In fact, the 25-year-old has already had a taste of how tough things could get. “I just filmed a scene where I’m practising my sword-fighting skills using a metal rod,” she recalled. “It was a very brief scene, but I shot it for over two hours under the hot sun and I got quite dizzy at the end.”

Fortunately for her, the choreography will focus on looking good for the cameras instead of demonstrating actual skill. “According to one of our directors, you need years of practice in order to master proper fighting techniques, so he will only teach us simpler things like getting the right posture.”

We admire dedication, but please don’t overexert yourself, okay?

A Quest to Heal premieres May 18, 2020 at 9pm on Channel 8. Watch it for free on Toggle.

Carrie Wong
Carrie Wong
07 Nov 2019

Carrie Wong

Toggle: How do you feel in your traditional robes?
Carrie: I actually feel really good in this - I think I look handsome! (Laughs) My only issue is that it’s very, very thick because of the multiple layers (there’s at least seven). This makes me not look forward to wearing this while filming in Singapore. I’m already feeling very warm right now!

This seems like quite a masculine look.
This is one of my “manly” outfits. A majority of my costumes are like this because Luo Ming Yi is someone who is very adventurous and finds women’s clothing inconvenient to move around in, so she usually dresses up like a boy.

But she’s not actually disguising herself as a man like Mulan, right?
I don’t go around telling people that I’m male or female, but in the show, Ya Hui’s character can’t tell that I’m a woman. There’s a scene where I have to do a medical checkup on her, but she doesn’t want to be touched by me because she thinks I’m a man, so I have to let down my hair to show her that I’m actually a woman.

Are you looking forward to filming in China?
Yes! The production team did warn us that we would get very tired because of the tight schedule and action-packed scenes, but it’s quite exciting because we’re all going there together so I believe it’s going to be very fun. We have been Googling for good places to eat, but I doubt we would even have time to go out for hotpot. (Laughs)

Xu Bin
Xu Bin
07 Nov 2019

Xu Bin

Toggle: We heard you complaining about your fake beard just now…
Xu Bin: I was pointing out that it makes me feel quite restricted. I thought I wouldn’t be able to open my mouth too wide or it would fall off, but then I realised that it’s quite secure and I’m free to do whatever I want.

Is this your first time filming in ancient Chinese costumes?
Yes, and I’m very, very excited about it. I’ve worn traditional robes in variety shows before, but never for such a “serious” project.

Are you excited for filming in China as well?
Of course! Come on! It’s a rare opportunity, and I’m thankful to the producers for giving me this chance. Plus, we don’t know when we’ll get to film a period drama again. Who knows, maybe the next time, I won’t even need to put on a fake beard to play an old man, because I’ll really be an old man by then. (Laughs)

Carrie mentioned she has a lot of fighting scenes. What about you?
No, I’m a physician. I do things like take your pulse. (Grabs our wrist to demonstrate) My challenge is to memorise my script, which is full of complex terms such as the names of medicines and herbs. That’s the kind of homework I need to do, not training to fight.

Qi Yuwu plays Bizheng, a member of the secret service for the Ming emperor’s court
Qi Yuwu plays Bizheng, a member of the secret service for the Ming emperor’s court
07 Nov 2019

Qi Yuwu plays Bizheng, a member of the secret service for the Ming emperor’s court

Jeffrey Xu plays Lord Gong, the emperor’s brother
Jeffrey Xu plays Lord Gong, the emperor’s brother
07 Nov 2019

Jeffrey Xu plays Lord Gong, the emperor’s brother

Jeffrey Xu plays Lord Gong, the emperor’s brother
Jeffrey Xu plays Lord Gong, the emperor’s brother
07 Nov 2019

Jeffrey Xu plays Lord Gong, the emperor’s brother

Bryan Wong plays the evil Eunuch Sun, who intends to help Lord Gong seize the throne
Bryan Wong plays the evil Eunuch Sun, who intends to help Lord Gong seize the throne
07 Nov 2019

Bryan Wong plays the evil Eunuch Sun, who intends to help Lord Gong seize the throne

Bryan Wong plays the evil Eunuch Sun, who intends to help Lord Gong seize the throne
Bryan Wong plays the evil Eunuch Sun, who intends to help Lord Gong seize the throne
07 Nov 2019

Bryan Wong plays the evil Eunuch Sun, who intends to help Lord Gong seize the throne

Ya Hui plays deaf-mute maid Yasan in the Ming dynasty and Yan Tingting in the present day
Ya Hui plays deaf-mute maid Yasan in the Ming dynasty and Yan Tingting in the present day
07 Nov 2019

Ya Hui plays deaf-mute maid Yasan in the Ming dynasty and Yan Tingting in the present day

Dressing up took longer than usual thanks to the many layers and complex details
Dressing up took longer than usual thanks to the many layers and complex details
07 Nov 2019

Dressing up took longer than usual thanks to the many layers and complex details

Dressing up took longer than usual thanks to the many layers and complex details
Dressing up took longer than usual thanks to the many layers and complex details
07 Nov 2019

Dressing up took longer than usual thanks to the many layers and complex details

Dressing up took longer than usual thanks to the many layers and complex details
Dressing up took longer than usual thanks to the many layers and complex details
07 Nov 2019

Dressing up took longer than usual thanks to the many layers and complex details

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