Demi Gods and Semi Devils

Reviewed by: spcnet

November 05, 2003

Rating: four

The Demi Gods and Semi Devils series make in 1982 was one of the most memorable Jin Yong TV series, remembered for its range of actors and actresses, beautiful costumes, and storytelling. "Demi" is one of Jin Yong's most large and complex works, where there is at least four main male characters, where characters come and go with their own stories and somehow everything just fitting together in the story that is "Demi". The huge cast includes Leung Kar Yun, Kent Tong Zhen Yip, Idy Chan Yuk Lin, Cecilia Wong Hung Sau, Felix Wong Yat Wah, Sak Sau, and Yeung Pan Pan.

The series is divided into two parts, the first beginning the tale with the prince Duen Yu (Tong Zhen Yip), who ran away from home because he was forced by his father to learn martial arts. An avid reader of Buddhist scriptures and preacher of non-violence, Duen Yu, ironically, finds himself learning some of the world's greatest martial arts. In the romance terrain, the many women he meets turn out to be his half-sisters who share the same father--no luck here. In the course of his escapades, Duen swears brotherhood with, lo and behold, the leader of the Beggar Clan, Kiu Fung (Leung Kar Yun). The story then switches to Kiu Fung, how the secret of his identity is revealed to be of the then all the hated "Siet Dan" race. Kiu Fung, the once revered Han hero, becomes everyone's hated enemy as he is wrongfully accused of murdering his foster parents and his teacher. In his quest for the true culprit, Kiu Fung, instead, finds his true love, Ah Chu (Cecilia Wong Hung Sau) but tragically kills her by mistake. The second part of "Demi" introduces the monk, Hui Jok (Felix Wong Yat Wah), who also like Duen Yu, acquires very powerful martial arts by the stroke of chance.

People are usually surprised to hear that Leung Kar Yun played the tragic hero, Kiu Fung (later Siu Fung) as his later series often showcased him in a comedic light. Despite all disbeliefs though, he played the role of Kiu Fung quite well, perhaps even better than the '97 version that casted Felix Wong in the same role. Leung was quite effective as the heroic Kiu Fung and of course it did not hurt that he knew his own martial arts to portray Kiu Fung's prowess.

Cecilia Wong starred in the two roles of Ah Chu and Zhong Ling and played both quite convincingly. What was impressive about her performance was that she played these two characters who were quite different with a whole different feel. Though Ah Chu and Zhong Ling were of the same father, they were certainly not supposed to look exactly alike. However, TVB deviated from Jin Yong's story to Kiu Fung's (and the viewer's) delight because Cecilia was just so stunning.

Idy Chan was casted as Wong Yu Yin, the beautiful cousin of Mo Yung Fok (Sak Sau), who Duen Yu fell head over heels for. Idy gave the role a pretty good shot considering it was her first time as a lead in an ancient costume series. A lot of people had complained that Sak Sau was too old to play the young Mo Yung Fok but his acting compensated more than enough of the deficit. TVB's '97 version that gave Cheung Kwok Keung the same role was definitely more unfit.

Upon rewatching this series recently though, I have to admit that the plot of the '97 was much more faithful to the plot and flowed a lot quicker. At some points, I was even a little bored with the slow pace of this version and was hugely disappointed by what I thought was a major scene in the novel--where the three sworn brothers, Siu Fung, Duen Yu, and Hui Jok, fight against different opponents and Siu Fung's father finally reveals himself at Shaolin. However, the older version has the advantage of many acting talents of TVB back then and that alone, makes it one of the classics.


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