Peter Ho - Hua Ying Xiong
Ady An Yi Xuan - Chen Jie Yu/ Hua Wen Ying
Blue Lan Zhen Long - Mu Xi
Qin Lan - Mu Xiu Luo
Chen Guan Lin - Jin Tai Bao
Li Tian Zhuang - Yao Ban Xian
Liu Wei Hua - Jin Long Tou
Zheng Guo Lin - Gui Pu
Wang Jian Xin - Luo Han
Li Li Jun - Jin Ao
Alex Fong - Wu Di
Zhuang Wei - Li Qian Jun
Ma Ya Shu - Ji Si
Chen De Lie - Hua Jian Xiong
Zao Chiu Gen - Shen Nu
Dai Jun Zhu - Zhou An Na
Shun Bao Ming - Zui Lan
Director: Yang Pei Pei
Fighting Chorographer: Chen Xiao Dong
Total Episodes: 40
Plot: (Warning, spoilers!)
Set in the early 1900s, Hua Ying Xiong (Peter Ho) escapes from his hometown village in China to America after killing a baddie who murdered his parents. He leaves behind his fiancÃ©e, Chen Jie Yu (Ady An), and promises to come back for her after the tide is clear. Unknown to him, the ship he sneaks into actually brings him to a mine site in America where poor Chinese are smuggled to do hard labour. He befriends a guy named Luo Han (Wang Jian Xin). One day, he sees the mine owners bullying a frail worker and stands up for him, only to be marked and tortured instead. Luo Han secretly helps him escape while he slips into the forest and is saved by a kind man named Shen Nu (Zao Chiu Gen). The latter's master, Jin Ao (Li Li Jun) is furious with Shen Nu for bringing a stranger back but later takes a liking to Ying Xiong and teaches him all his martial skills.
However, Jin Ao's disfigured and crippled servant, Gui Pu (Zheng Guo Lin), distrusts Ying Xiong. All of them make a surprise attack on the mine site one day and free all the enslaved workers there, but Jin Ao dies as a result of battling with the gang chief, Michael, who escapes. Gui Pu and Shen Nu acknowledge Ying Xiong as their new master. Ying Xiong saves Jin Tai Bao (Chen Guan Lin) and his martial sister from Japan, Mu Xiu Luo (Qin Lan) and the former helps Ying Xiong and the rest travel to San Francisco. Meanwhile, Jie Yu befriends a doctor named Mu Xi (Blue Lan) who brings her to San Francisco in search for Ying Xiong. Ying Xiong befriends Yao Ban Xian (Li Tian Zhuang), the owner of Zhong Hua Inn and helps him overcome some problems. He also meets a skilled expert named Zui Lan (Shun Bao Ming) who teaches him martial arts but later dies saving him. Ying Xiong is finally reunited with Jie Yu when they meet one day, leaving Mu Xi jealous since he has fallen for Jie Yu. Mu Xiu Luo is furious to see Ying Xiong with Jie Yu since she fell for Ying Xiong after he saved her once. She refuses to believe that they're long engaged and vows revenge. Gui Pu falls for a prostitute named Ji Si (Ma Ya Shu) after she saves him once but afraid that she'll despise his appearance, he leaves her.
Ying Xiong and Jie Yu decide to go to Shanghai since Ying Xiong wants to seek help from wealthy people there to help the Chinese workers in mine sites all over America. Yao Ban Xian, Shen Nu and Gui Pu follow them back. Jin Tai Bo follows his father, a wealthy man named Jin Long Tou (Liu Wei Hua) to Shanghai to set up some business, he asks Xiu Luo, whom he secretly likes to accompany him. Xiu Luo makes several attempts on Jie Yu's life but to no avail. She seeks solace in the equally heartbroken Mu Xi and they fall for each other later. Jie Yu finds out that Mu Xi is actually Yao Ban Xian's long lost son but the former refuses to ackowledge his father due to some conflicts they had in the past. Jie yu tries to help them make up but Mu Xi is bent on hating his father. Ying Xiong befriends Jin Long Tou and finds out that they're both disciples of the late Zui Lan. He teaches Jin Long Tou kinship and influences the latter to change his cunning ways, to the fury of Tai Bao who has long disliked Ying Xiong since he blames Ying Xiong for Xiu Luo's indifference to him. His hatred for Ying Xiong increases after Ying Xiong teams up with a boy named Li Qian Jun (Zhuang Wei) to disrupt several of his drug dealings.
He tries to frame Ying Xiong time and time again but to no avail. Jin Long Tou finds out that Qian Jun is his grandson and dotes on him, making Tai Bao jealous. He is further infuriated when his father tells him to learn more from Ying Xiong and to stop his corrupted ways. Ying Xiong meets up with Luo Han again but finds the latter doing assassinating jobs for a living, he manages to sway Luo Han back onto the right path. Tai Bao accidentally kills his father and goes insane, blaming Ying Xiong for his father's death. After failing to kill him, Tai Bao secretly plots revenge. Luo Han dies after he follows Ying Xiong and the rest for a rescue attempt in a mine site. Ying Xiong defeats a Japanese swordsman named Wu Di (Alex Fong) and promises to duel with him proper another time. Meanwhile, Mu Xi reconciles with his father but the latter dislikes Xiu Luo. He fights with Xiu Luo and Tai Bao secretly causes Jiu Ban Xian to fall off a cliff and die, leading Xiu Luo to think that it's her fault. Mu Xi falls out with her. Gui Pu accepts Ji Si and later has a child with her, while Ying Xiong finally marries Jie Yu and she gives birth to a pair of twins, a boy and a girl, named Jian Xiong and Wen Ying. Jie Yu is devastated when she discovers that her parents are poisoned and killed by Tai Bao, who kidnaps Wen Ying. Ying Xiong fails to save his daughter and thinks that she and Tai Bao have perished in a fire. He suffers a blow when Jie Yu dies due to the poison she came into contact with her dead parents and leaves Jian Xiong in Mu Xi's care while he goes back to San Franciso.
Eighteen years go by and Jian Xiong(Chen De Lie) learns martial arts under Xiu Luo. He tries to bring Mu Xi and her back together. Mu Xi decides to bring Jian Xiong to San Francisco in search of his father and the latter meets Wu Di's daughter and a girl named Chou Li, who unknown to him is his long lost sister, Wen Ying (Ady An). Tai Bao actually escaped the fire and brought up Ying Xiong's daughter to loathe him. Jian Xiong finally meets his delighted father but Ying Xiong is stunned when he meets Chou Li since she looks exactly like Jie Yu. He finds out that Wu Di has gone mad, abandoned his family and blind himself to prepare himself to duel with Ying Xiong. Tai Bao kidnaps Xiu Luo and forces her to do his bidding by threatening to harm Mu Xi. He makes use of Wen Ying (Chou Li) to kidnap Jian Xiong and kill Ying Xiong. When he thinks that Ying Xiong is dead, Tai Bao mocks Wen Ying by telling her the truth of her birth. Ying Xiong escapes death with his son and comforts his remorseful daughter. Wen Ying later poisons Tai Bo and saves Xiu Luo and Mu Xi, while Ying Xiong prepares to fight with Wu Di.
The series is adapted from a popular comic series, which also saw the Hong Kong movie adaptation starring Ekin Cheng as Ying Xiong. I haven't read the original comics before so I'm not sure whether the series followed it closely but I must say that the overall plot is rather messy, incoherent and inconsistent. For example, it was tough keeping track where the characters were since there were too many shifts in setting from America, to Shanghai to Hu Bei to other parts of China etc., and all were done really abruptly and rushed. And characters seem to pop out of nowhere, for example, Xiu Luo (or was it Jie Yu?) who was in San Francisco and the next moment, without any mention, we see her in Shanghai. And the upright Luo Han was suddenly bad, without any proper flow or explanation and same goes for how Jie Yu contracted the poison from her dead parents as well as how Tai Bao suddenly appeared from nowhere in scenes here and there; things like that which can be rather frustrating to the viewer. In addition, certain CGIs used were so obviously fake and comical, the most prominent one being the ship model they used to travel to and fro China and America, it was so badly done that it looked like some cheapskate cartoon.
Certain unnecessary scenes also seemed to drag on and I found myself fast-forwarding quite a bit, especially in the middle. Another complaint I have for is the costumes and styling of the characters which were absolutely horrendous, especially in the case of Ying Xiong, Xiu Luo and Jie Yu (It's like a replica of the dressing disaster in 'wind and cloud'). Ying Xiong looked more like some modern punk with his slip shot tops, baggy pants, boots and hiphop cap. My Goodness, where did all that stuff come from? Especially when he's supposed to be a heroic Chinese instilled in traditional values, it seems ironic that his dressing style was tilted more to the Caucasians' side. I almost fainted when I saw how he looked like at the end (a badly copied matrix style rendition with boots, a long leather jacket, silver accessories which made him look like some gangster rapper, leather belts and terrible drug addict hair). And Xiu Luo, who is supposed to be a pretty Japanese girl looked like a walking corpse with that pale ghastly make-up on her and did they pick up that terrible wig from the bin? Jie Yu who is supposed to be a traditional Chinese girl had costumes mixed and matched from Chinese and Western cultures, and really messy and complicated plaits. The list goes on with the terrible hair and dress on Wu Di'sdaughter (who looks like a freaky bird instead of a Japanese) and Jian Xiong's dressing which is as bad as his dad's..
And the thing, which irked me a lot, was Peter's bad, unpolished and unnatural accent, which sounded so westernized more than anything. It was a total mismatch for his Chinese character and I don't know why the editors are stupid enough to not dub his voice. The quality control for this series is just bad. The music wasn't that good and I became fed-up listening to the same old boring tune for the opening, ending themes and the series itself. Can't the music producer at least come up with a song or varieties of different themes at least? One more disappointment was that there was absolutely no chemistry between the main two couples and the relationships are just the typical messy and boring ones. In fact, I thought Blue looked better with Ady and Peter with Qin Lan.The only couple I like and thought was interesting was that of Gui Pu and Ji Si, there was at least some humour between them to save the series from a downright gloomy atmosphere.
I thought the fighting was good at first but it just degraded somehow and although there are tons of fight scenes, it became boring since they kept reusing some of the styles. But overall, the fighting chorography was okay.
Hua Ying Xiong - Peter Ho
He is a total miscast for the role of the upright, bold, smart and cool Ying Xiong. Peter just isn't cut out for period series and had zero presence and charisma as Ying Xiong. I thought Ekin, who isn't a very good actor, had more presence than him as Ying Xiong. All Peter does is look emotionless or frown and look moody, which is probably his definition of being cool and calm, judging from his other period dramas. This guy has been given tons of good, leading roles and yet hasn't improve much at all which is bad, really bad in this case since he is the main lead and the whole series centers around him. And with the exception of his average fighting skills and rather convincing crying and yelling scenes at times, his unnatural, poor acting and lack of presence just kind of spoiled the whole series for me.
Chen Jie Yu/ Hua Wen Ying- Ady An Yi Xuan
Ady did an average job as Jie Yu and was nothing spectacular since the role is downright boring, bland and seems to fade into the background. Jie Yu is the typical flower vase who is kind, unselfish, loving, caring etc and serves nothing more than a woman beside Ying Xiong. This is quite a disappointment since Ady is a good actress but the role didn't require her to do much, I think it was an easy one for her to just act soft and nice (her acting here is rather similar to 'The Outsiders' though her role in that series was tons more interesting). But her Jie Yu was no doubt better than Kristy Yang's 'dead' one in the movie. I thought Ady's second character, Wen Ying was a much more complex one which gave Ady more to work with and I'm glad that she grabbed the chance to portray Wen Ying convincingly as a cunning young girl full of hatred and vengeance and later, full of remorse. The contrast in they way Ady acted for both characters showed her versatility and it's a pity that Wen Ying only appeared for the last two or three episodes.
Mu Xi- Blue Lan Zhen Long
I have a feeling that Blue is stereotyped to act in fierce, cold and moody roles and this one's no difference. I was hoping that his character in here was different from his past roles but it is not. It gets somewhat boring seeing him as this type of character again and again but his acting does improve in here. His scenes where he shows hatred for his father, anger and stubbornness are well done and convincing and you may even feel sad for his character at first and even dislike him for being so mean to his father later. The way he acts worried and concerned about Jie Yu is also so much better than Peter.
Mu Xiu Luo- Qin Lan
With the exception of the bad hair, make up and costumes I thought Xiu Luo was an okay character, though somewhat annoying at times with that crazy attitude of hers. Qin Lan did a good job with Xiu Luo and was natural with all her emotions, be it crazy, agitated, sweet, sad or depressed ones. She was even better that Ady in terms of acting since her character gave her a lot of emotions to work with. Though She made Xiu Luo seem a cold and unfeeling girl on the outside, her sweet voice and vulnerable expressions also showed us the kinder and warmer side of Xiu Luo, which is tons better than Shu Qi's Xiu Luo in the movie.
Jin Tai Bao- Chen Guan Lin
This is the first time I'm seeing Guan Lin on screen and I thought he did a marvelous job in being the villain. He cunning smirks and arrogance will make you hate him so much, but partly also because the script made him out to do so many evil deeds. Even when he's painted so evil, Guan Lin is still able to show us how much he loves his father, though selfishly and how much he detests his previous life of poverty. His frustration with the people he loves is portrayed well and I think he is one of the few actors who can actually cry convincingly. When he cries, it's just so real and his eyes actually turn really, and I mean really red. On top of that, he can still manage to instill anger or hatred or disbelief into his eyes.
The other characters did good, if not average, jobs. Liu Wei Hua was alright as Jin Long Tou and I especially liked Zheng Guan Lin who played Gui Pu, a really cool and likeable character. A pity that he had plays a disfigured character since he's quite good-looking. His acting was really good and fitting as the mysterious Gui Pu and so was Ma Ya Shu, who played his wife, Ji Si, a very pretty actress. Alex Fong who made a special appearance as the crazed Wu Di was also a refreshing sight and needless to say, he did a normal, good job since he's a very seasoned actor. The only other person who was really bad, besides Peter, was the actor who played his son who was an exact replica of Peter. He was just as unnatural as Peter and had the same kind of western accent like Peter which they didn't dub, maybe to make them seem more alike, since they're father and son?
Even though there's good acting and fighting here and there, I don't really like this series much since there are quite a number of flaws, which shouldn't haven been there given that it's a high budget production. And the fact that the plot is not that good and the main lead is a miscast (even though the rest of the cast are good) really lessens my liking for the series.