Chinese · Drama · Episode Recaps · Mainland

Candle in the Tomb (鬼吹灯之精绝古城): Episode 1 Recap

Thought I’d give this recapping thing a try since this drama is next on my t0-watch list and also it’s pretty short (for a china drama) so why not!


The drama starts off with soldiers on a battlefield exchanging shots and explosions. After firing a rocket launcher, the enemy’s base is completely destroy. The soldiers start surveying the area and leaning up. However, they didn’t eliminate all enemies and shots are fired towards Hu Ba Yi as he’s walking around. A man named Xi Zi covers him and ends up taking the fatal shots. Hu loses it and starts shooting randomly in grief.

The scene shifts and we’re in a train compartment with the occupants staring at Hu, who wakes up and realizes it was just a dream. He reassures them that he was just having a dream and gets up to walk around.

Soon they arrive at Beijing station where Hu encounters a man and the two exchange coded phrases before hugging it out. Turns out he’s an old friend from his army days. This man’s name is Wang Kai Xuan, but Hu calls him Fatso. The two friends catch up and Hu finds out that Fatso is now selling cassette tapes but notices business isn’t going that well with all the inventory Fatso has in his one-room rental.


After settling in, the two decide to go out for dinner. At the restaurant, they run into a man named Gold Tooth, who is trying to sell a piece of jade to a Caucasian foreigner. Fatso tells Hu that a while back he ran into some trouble and his bicycle/cart got towed. In order to get the cart back, he was desperate for money so he sold a piece of jade (that was given to him by his father) to Gold Tooth for 200 yuan. He later found out that Gold Tooth completely swindled him and that the real value of the jade was 3000 yuan. Hu gets up and heads towards Gold Tooth with the intention to get the heirloom back.


He interrupts the antique seller’s transaction and has them reschedule it for another day before calmly talking to Gold Tooth about getting the jade back. Hu gives Gold Tooth 200 yuan back in exchange for the jade however Gold Tooth refuses to budge for anything less than 3000 yuan. Eventually, he does give in and the two leave the restaurant with the jade.


The next day Gold Tooth comes knocking at Fatso’s place with a few other thugs. Hu gives Gold Tooth the rest of his money – which amounts to 600 yuan – but he’s not satisfied and gestures for his thugs to get to work. However before either side could make a move, Gold Tooth’s eyes catch sight of a compass among Hu’s possessions and asks to take a look at it. “Eight Trigrams in Book of Changes, feng shui positioning…” Gold Tooth now decides that the amount is sufficient. He invites the two to have hotpot the next afternoon, insisting that they must show up before leaving.


When Hu and Fatso arrive at the restaurant the next day, Gold Tooth starts telling them about how his father used to be in the army, did a bit of tomb raiding, then settled in the antique business. He asks Hu about his experiences with tomb raiding and the topic of finding a ‘big dumpling’ comes up. A big dumpling refers to a corpse that is well-preserved without decomposition; coming across a big dumpling means you’re in trouble.


Then he talks about the gold tooth in his mouth. He brags about digging it out of a tomb. Says its enamel gold from the Ming dynasty and that because he couldn’t bear to sell it, has one of his tooth removed to insert it in. Hu and Fatso look slightly disturbed.

They discuss more on the topic of tomb raiding and the skills for it. Gold Tooth tells how people before used to find tombs based on their sense of smell. Then with the invention of the Luoyang shovel, they were able to determine what was located underground based on the dirt that was excavated. Hu shares that the truly talented tomb raiders were people who could tell if a tomb was underneath them just by walking around. This is called “Positioning of Metal Divisions” aka important tombs are always in great Feng Shui positions. When Gold Tooth asks if Hu has studied this technique, Hu humbly acknowledges that he knows a thing or two. Impressed, Gold Tooth invites the two to his shop after their meal.


At Gold Tooth’s antique shop, he gifts the two gentleman with a Mojin amulet and tells them of a story how a Chinese warlord had an army that raided tombs to supply their rations. Everyone in that army had a Mojin amulet and were given the official title of Captain Mojin, which lead to an ancient tomb raiding school of Mojin. Gold Tooth suggests how nice it would be for Hu to have such a title. Hu in turn replies that his only knowledge comes from a secret manual of Feng Shui passed down from his grandfather. Admittedly, his grandfather was a Captain Mojin but he encountered a big dumpling and almost lost his life. Because of such incident, Hu refuses to partake in the immoral act of tomb raiding.

Gold Tooth continues to try to sway Hu by telling the two the value of each artifact he possesses in an attempt to persuade Hu into tomb raiding. He even offers to help them find buyers for the goods they uncover, only asking for a commission in return. Hu declines and leaves.

Fatso was taken by the amount money they could make from listening to Gold Tooth’s words and tries to convince Hu to go to Niuxin Mountain to visit their old army friends and “collect” the artifacts they’ve seen there. Hu finally agrees. They sell everything Fatso owns, Hu’s watch is included, in order to have enough funds for this trip and sets off.


Not bad for a first episode. The pacing is good and I like Jin Dong’s character. Other than that, I don’t really have much to say about it. But there’s the fact that that Gold Tooth dude is brave as fuck. Who the hell would take something from a tomb and stick it in their body?! That’s gross and asking for it. Ugh. But anyway, judging from the first episode, I have a strong feeling Fatso is gonna be the reason why bad things happen to Hu in the future…

Next Episode: 02 →


One thought on “Candle in the Tomb (鬼吹灯之精绝古城): Episode 1 Recap

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