Duan Yu - Prince of Da Li who dislikes martial arts but stumbles onto several remarkable pieces of kung fu; meets two heroes Qiao Feng and Xu Zhu and becomes sworn brothers with them; fell in love with many girls who are his father's daughters.
Qiao Feng - (Leung Kar Yan) Born in Qidan and raised in the Mainland; extremely chivalrous and friendly; former leader of the Beggar's Clan; possesses great martial arts; Assists the Qidan emperor in affairs.
Murong Fu - descendant of the former Yan country's royal family; puts business before family matters; is obsessed with restoring the Yan country.
Ah Zi - evil girl who grew up in an evil atmosphere; Qiao Feng's sister-in-law; loves Qiao but cannot have him; kills and hurts other people for fun.
Wang Yu Yan - Murong Fu's cousin who is obsessed with Fu at first, but later turns to Duan Yu.
Xu Zhu - (Felix Wong Yat Wa) Shaolin monk who by chance receives remarkable martial arts; groom of Xi Xia country; leader of Xiao Yao sect and Ling Jiu Palace.
Duan Zheng Chun - Da Li emperor's brother who at youth had affairs with many women; is extremely kind and welcoming.
Duan's FOUR GUARDS - Da Li's official guards who assist in important matters.
Murong Fu's two guards - Murong Family's official guards
Mu Wan Qing - Daughter of Duan Zheng Chun; marries Duan Yu but becomes his sister; loses her for Duan Yu.
Zhong Lin - (Cecilia Wong) Duan Yu's first sworn sister and his actual sister; is extremely naive; resembles Ah Zhu.
Murong Buo - Murong Fu's father; extremely wicked and evil; is the main man behind many conspiracies; is also obsessed with restoring the Yan country.
The FOUR EVIL - A group of evildoers who especially terrorize Da Li.
Ah Zhu - (Cecilia Wong) Servant of Murong Fu; Falls in love with Qiao Feng; is Duan Zheng Chun's daughter, Ah Zi's sister; has ability to disguise perfectly.
Qun Guan Qing - traitor from Beggar's Clan who precedes Qiao Feng as leader; receives help from Murong Fu.
Duan Zheng Chun's mistresses - Chun's current and ex-lovers.
Jiu Muo Zhi - Supreme monk of the Tu Fan country who comes to the Mainland for manuscripts; helps the Murong family; loses his power in an accident.
Emperor of Da Li - Kind and caring
Emperor of Qidan - Kind but firm
Emperor of Xi Xia - Weak and indecisive
Ding Chun Qiu - Ah Zi's master, past disciple of the Xiao Yao sect; wants to become the sect's leader; blinds Ah Zi.
Miss Ma - malicious woman who kills her husband and ruins Qiao Feng's life because he paid no attention to her at a party; ex-lover of Duan Zheng Chun
Bai Shi Jing - traitor of the Beggar's Clan; had an affair with Miss Ma.
You Tan Zhi - Son of a master who committed suicide; blames Qiao Feng for his father's death; thinks Ah Zi is the most beautiful girl but gets tortured and killed by her.
Princess of Xi Xia - Xu Zhu's dream lover.
Seniors of the Beggar's Clan - Some good, some not so good; all respected Qiao Feng but betrayed him after knowing his identify.
Zuo Zi Mu - Leader of the Wu Liang sect who surrenders to another sect.
Wu Ya Zi - Leader of the Xiao Yao sect who hid in a cave for 40 years in order to avoid Ding Chun Qiu, Xu Zhu's master.
Tian Shan Tong Lao - Wu Ya Zi's bigger sister who likes him; has the ability to appear younger.
Li Qiu Shui - Wu Ya Zi's younger sister who is also in love with him.
Extensive storyline (SPOILERS)
The first episode begins in the royal palace of Da Li, where prince Duan Yu is nowhere to be found. Soon, we find out that he has run off to witness a contest in the Wu Liang clan. Not fond of martial arts but a faithful and kind person, Duan Yu gets in trouble for offending the Wu Liang swordsmen, and a girl named Zhong Lin comes to rescue when the swordsmen are about to harm Duan Yu. Zhong has some news for the clan: another evil clan has plans to attack. A good hearted person who knows Buddhist principles, Duan Yu tries to persuade the evil sect to give up attacking, only to be held hostage there. Zhong Lin's pet bit the evil leader, and she tells Duan Yu to go to her dad to get the cure. There, Yu finds out that Zhong Lin's father is a sworn enemy of his father, the emperor's brother, Duan Zheng Chun. Nevertheless, Zhong's mother gives Yu the cure to exchange for Zhong Lin. On the way, Yu encounters a veiled woman by the name of Mu Wan Qing.
Here is the deal with Wan Qing, as we later find out: her master is indeed her mother, who was a mistress of Duan Zheng Chun. For now, Duan Yu follows her around for a while and lives through some adventures. After a while, they rescue Zhong Lin and sends her home. Soon, #3 of the FOUR EVIL PEOPLE (who cause a lot of trouble for Da Li) wants to take Yu as a disciple, and Wan Qing wants Yu to marry her. While Yu does agree with Qing's terms, he is not about to learn evil kung fu, so #3 takes Qing away for now. When Duan Yu finally gets the chance, he takes her to Da Li, where his noble family welcomes her; even the emperor is quite nice to her. One night, #3 rushes to the Da Li palace to claim his disciple, but Yu has already acquired some top martial arts, so he uses wit to defeat #3, claiming #3 as his student!
But the positive vibe does not last long. Soon, we find out that Qing is in fact Duan Zheng Chun's daughter, Duan Yu's sister, which makes the marriage impossible. Desperate, Qing seeks help from #1 of the FOUR EVIL, which is a BIG mistake. #1 puts the siblings in a cave and gives them sex-craving drugs. Luckily, Da Li's four guards are able to switch Zhong Lin for Qing, which ruins #1's plan. Not soon later, Qing's mother/master takes her away, and that's the end of story for her... at least for a while. In fact, #1 is the son of the previous emperor of Da Li, and his ultimate goal is to replace the current emperor. However, since he is an evildoer, the emperor cannot grant him the throne. Throughout the story, #1 (alone with the other three) keeps trying to reach this goal.
A series of strange but related incidents have popped up: masters of several clans have mysteriously died, and they were all killed by their own form of martial arts. So everyone points fingers at the Murong family, who is known to be skilled in practically every style of martial arts in the world. Duan Zheng Chun decides to investigate this. Not soon after he leaves, the supreme monk of the Tu Fan country, Jiu Muo Zhi, invades the sacred temple of Da Li. He kidnaps Duan Yu and takes him to the Murong villa, where they meet Murong Fu's 2 servants, Ah Zhu and Ah Bi. Fortunately, the servants and Yu escape to the Wang villa, but they had to escape again because Miss Wang has ordered for the punishment of Zhu and Bi because they invaded her "privacy." In the process, Yu has met Wang Yu Yan, daughter of Miss Wang and cousin of Murong Fu. He immediately forgets about the women he previously met and starts to follow WYY everywhere.
One day, Yu goes to a restaurant to drink alone, but soon he found a companion, and together they drink 40 bowls of wine. They also become sworn brothers. This new brother of Duan Yu's is none other than the leader of the Beggar's Clan by the name of Qiao Feng, whose kung fu is best known in the martial world. Qiao has also come to the South to investigate on Murong Fu, for the co-leader of the Beggar's Clan, Ma Da Yuen, was also recently killed by his own kung fu. Soon, Qiao gets the Beggar's Clan's meeting underway. Never could he have imagined that his life is about to take a 360 degree turn, downhill.
In the meeting, 4 of the 6 seniors of the clan, along with another junior, Qun Guan Qing, want to overthrow Qiao's leadership. They suspect that Qiao, not Murong Fu, is the murderer of Ma Da Yuen. Fortunately, the other 2 seniors arrive to prevent the coup de grace. In addition, Qiao demonstrates his chivalry and honesty by stabbing himself in order to make the 4 seniors innocent, which impresses everyone. Just as things were getting better, in comes Senior Xu with Miss Ma and several others. Together, they reveal a huge secret to Qiao: he is in fact of the Qidan (Liao country) race, who is at war with the Mainland right now. Furthermore, Qiao finds out the truth about his parent' identity. In fact, his parents were coming from Qidan to the Mainland, but several leaders mistook them for bad guys, so they killed his mother and made his father jump off a cliff. The child, Qiao Feng, was rescued and raised by an ordinary family.
Now the Beggar's Clan is almost completely again their leader Qiao Feng, a Qidanese. Qiao leaves in anger and in shock, to see his master at the Shaolin Temple, but as soon as he arrives, master dies from a previous attack. By chance, Ah Zhu also arrives at the same time as Qiao to Shaolin, but she gets badly wounded by the abbot, and Qiao rescues her. He later finds out that she has the skill to do make-ups to look identical to other people. During their time together, Qiao uses his inner forces to help heal Zhu's wound, which makes her think highly of him.
A meeting has been organized to wipe Qiao off the planet of Earth, and guess what, Qiao is going to attend too. His sole purpose, however, is to request that Doctor Xue heal Zhu's wounds. When he refuses and provokes a fight, Qiao inevitably hurts many warriors from the Mainland, which Qun Guan Qing uses to make Qiao look bad. Rescued by a veiled warrior, Qiao is able to safely leave the meeting. He catches up with Ah Zhu, and together they start searching for some more information about his past. Qiao knows that there was a Brother Leader who commanded on the attack on his father, and he intends to find out who. Strangely, no one is willing to tell him, and the people who know the information die one by one mysteriously. Finally, they find out from Miss Ma that Brother Leader is in fact Duan Zheng Chun, Qiao's sworn brother's father.
Coincidentally, Qiao saves Duan Zheng Chun from the FOUR EVIL, and he arranges a meeting that night. By chance, Zheng Chun and his mistress Wan Xing Zhu have just met their long-lost daughter Ah Zi, from whom Ah Zhu finds out that she is in fact the other long-lost daughter!! Greatly dismayed, Zhu cannot but accept the truth. Knowing that Qiao will not abandon the revenge, Zhu puts on a make up as her father and meets Qiao Feng at the bridge. He then hits her with his most powerful 18 PALMS OF THE DRAGON, which kills Ah Zhu almost instantly. Before she dies, she tells Qiao to take care of Ah Zi, who is a naive and evil kid raised at an evil clan, whose leader is "Xing Xiou Lao Guai" Ding Chun Qiou.
Unpleasantly, Qiao soon finds out that Duan Zheng Chun is not at all Brother Leader, and that Miss Ma had lied. So he slips into her home, where she is about to kill Zheng Chun. In fact, Miss Ma was also a mistress of Zheng Chun's, and she wants to kill him because she cannot have him. Qiao further finds out that it was Miss Ma who arranged for the murder of her husband, and she was also the one who spread the lie that Qiao killed Ma -- all because Qiao did not pay attention to her at a party. Additionally, it was Miss Ma who dug out Qiao's past, and Ah Zi did the right thing by ruining her face and making her suffer to death.
Ah Zi also deeply likes Qiao Feng, so she tries to kill him in order to get him to be around her (what an evil act!). However, even though Qiao looks after her, he only has her sister in his heart. Deeply saddened, Ah Zi throws and breaks things all day long. Still, Qiao goes to the mountains to find some ginseng for her, and by chance meets the emperor of Qidan.
Back to the story with Duan Yu. He has been following WYY everywhere, despite the fact that her heart truly belongs to her cousin Murong Fu. Soon, we are introduced to Fu, as he rescues the Beggar's Clan from troops from the Xi Xia country. In addition, Fu promises to give back several clans their kung fu manuscripts, which greatly impresses everyone. Back at his mansion, Jiu Muo Zhi has arrived again to find Duan Yu. Fu actually lets him stay. When Miss Wang comes to claim her daughter back, Fu brings out Jiu Muo Zhi, who scares her away. So now WYY gets to be with her beloved cousin all the time.
Fu has noticed that there is a vibe between his cousin and Duan Yu. He gets jealous, but the only true thing on his mind is his responsibility to restore the Yan country, and he will do anything to get there. So he asks WYY to persuade Duan Yu to write out a copy of Liu Mai Shen Jian, the most powerful form of martial arts of the Duan family. Yu refuses, and Fu gets mad at WYY. Secretly, Fu is helping the evil Qidan prince overthrow the emperor, who has just become Qiao Feng's sworn brother. So the plan doesn't quite work out, since none of the warriors is Qiao's match. Grateful, the emperor makes Qiao the Secretary of Defense (or something like that) of Qidan, and Ah Zi also gets to stay in the palace.
Duan Yu soon gets kidnapped by #2 of the FOUR EVILS, but by chance a monk named Xu Zhu rescues him. They meet the Beggar's Clan, whose new leader is the vicious Qun Guan Qing, whom Murong Fu helped to become the leader. Anyway, Ah Zi's master Ding Chun Qiou comes to look for her and Qiao Feng, and since the Beggars were in the way, he easily defeats them. But Xu Zhu humiliates him for cheating, so he is determined to kill Xu Zhu. His masters come to defense, but Ding wound them badly, forcing Xu to take them to Dr. Xue.
A jianghu veteran has invited many heroes to figure out a chess game, whom everyone fails miserably, including Duan Yu and Murong Fu. Furthermore, Dr. Xue dies because of the game. By luck, Xu Zhu finds the trick, and gets the greatest gift of his life -- 70 years of kung fu from the master of the Xiao Yao sect (Wu Ya Zi)! The fact is that Ding Chun Qiou was a former member of the sect who was driven out due to his betrayal and evil acts. The master had to hide in a secret cave to avoid death. So the first person to figure out the chess game gets transferred all the Xiao Yao skills, which is a pretty good deal for Xu Zhu, who previously knew very little kung fu.
Murong Fu is constantly recruiting martial artists for his Yan country, and he has just gotten Ding Chun Qiou, with the promise to make Ding the master of the Xiao Yao sect. Xu Zhu, by chance, meets Wu Ya Zi's sister, who is being hunted by a group of bandits. So he rescues her and gets her skills as well. Later, upon her death, he also becomes the leader of her legacy, the Ling Jiu Palace. But since Xu Zhu is not interested in fame at all, he just wants to go back to Shaolin to be a monk again. So he does and only gets rejected by the abbot, for he has committed all the prohibited acts by the temple. He has killed, eaten meat, and has thought about sex. As far as the last part, Wu's sister brought in Xi Xia country's princess to an ice room with him, and they dreamed together, calling each other definite names. Soon, news gets to the temple that Jiu Muo Zhi is there. And he has come for Shaolin's manuscripts. Only Xu Zhu was able to match Jiu's kung fu and make him retreat.
Ah Zi is still as evil as ever, stealing Ah Zhu's only legacy to Qiao Feng and hurting people for no reason. Qiao confronts her but she does not listen. One day when both are out, they encounter a person named You Tan Zhi who tries to assassinate Qiao. In fact, Qiao had provoked You's father's suicide back at the meeting with Dr. Xue. Ah Zi wants to play with You a little bit, so she ruins his face and puts on him a iron mask. In addition, Zi uses You to get her some recipes for a special kung fu, at the expense of HIS LIFE! Furthermore, when he is dead and she got her wish, she simply ordered for his body to be dumped outside, without any burial. Now, you would think that You would want to get her for sure, but NO, You is crazy for Ah Zi! In fact, it is he who saves her from her master, who has finally found her and has blinded her. Zi and You meet Murong Fu, who helps You get the iron mask off his head. As usual, Fu recruits You to help him out. Once again, we see Qun Guan Qing doing evil things to the Beggar's Clan. This time, he has become unstable as the leader, so he kills the only two possible candidates.
The ambitious Fu has arranged a big meeting at the Shaolin Temple. His purpose is to get everyone at war, and he would claim victory. Invited to attend include the Duan family, You Tan Zhi, Qiao Feng, Beggar's Clan, Ding Chun Qiou, and the FOUR EVIL. You Tan Zhi starts to fight with Qiao. Although You has been practicing Shaolin's YI JING JING manuscript, his kung fu is nowhere near as good as Qiao's. In fact, no one is. Even Fu gets beaten by Qiao. However, several important news are revealed in this meeting. First, we learn that Fu's father, Murong Buo, long believed to be dead, is still alive. Second, we learn that Xu Zhu is the son of #2 of FOUR EVIL (Mother Ye) and the abbot of Shaolin. Third, we learn that Qiao Feng's dad, Xiao Yuan Shan, is also alive, and he is the one who killed everyone who tried to hide the truth from Qiao. Last, we finally learn who the Brother Leader is, and it turns out to be (GASP) the abbot of Shaolin, who dies after 200 beatings. #2 also commits suicide. So although Xu Zhu found out his parents that day, he lost them instantly. But the real bad guy that caused nearly every conflict is Murong Buo, and Xiao Yuan Shan seeks to settle the vengeance with him. Surprisingly, both of them give up their revenge and become Buddhists after a duel.
Jiu Muo Zhi, always on the lookout for manuscripts, knows that You Tan Zhi has Shaolin's YI JING JING, so he kidnaps Ah Zi to get the booklet, but Fu comes in a takes it. You then grabs Wang Yu Yan, but Fu expresses that he will not let feelings interfere with his "business." Luckily, Jiu manages to take the booklet and WYY is fine. She still forgives Fu and is still in love with him, although the one who is really good to her is Duan Yu. Not that she doesn't care for Yu, it's just that she has been committed to Fu since forever ago, and she is not so quick to change that commitment.
Suddenly, the hot news becomes that the princess of Xi Xia is looking for a groom, and literally everyone who is anyone goes to attend. This is where Mu Wan Qing comes in again. She meets his family (the Duans), who has selected Duan Yu to be the choice for groom. However, Yu only has WYY in mind. On the other hand, things are finally turning better for Duan Yu in terms of WYY, as she has just found out that her cousin is also going to be a candidate for groom. Greatly disappointed, she leans towards Duan Yu just a bit. But things really start to change when Fu pushes Yu into a well. WYY at last realizes that Fu will always prioritize restoring Yan over her, so she jumps into the well at all. Well what do you know, Fu gets into a fight with Jiu Muo Zhi; Fu loses, and he gets sent down the well as well. Now, this is where he shows his absolutely shamelessness. WYY had already promised to be with Duan Yu, and here comes Murong Fu from above. Yu, being the kindest person there could be, offers WYY to change her mind if she wants to be with her cousin. She hesitates, and right now Fu is just saying the sweetest things and offering his regrets. It really sounds like Fu is going to change for WYY. But when Jiu Muo Zhi drops the Shaolin manuscripts down the well, Fu instantly becomes excited again (he had temporarily lost his kung fu, so that is why he was willing to go so low as to beg WYY) and begs Yu for the booklet. He starts talking about restoring Yan again, making WYY truly disappointed. From this moment on, she is 100% sure that Duan Yu is the right person for her. Fu, on the other hand, actually threatens to kill BOTH WYY and Yu if he didn't give him the manuscripts. Of course, Yu intends to give it back to Shaolin.
With everyone competing for the groom, how ironic is it that the person who wins is not a competitor at all. Indeed, Xu Zhu had no wish to be the groom when he came with Qiao Feng, but it just so happens that the reason the princess was looking for a groom in the first place was to find Xu Zhu. He and she spent some time in a ice room a while ago, calling each other "dream lovers." They were separated but this chance brings them together. The emperor puts on a ceremony to thank all the competitors, but Jiu Muo Zhi forces the emperor to sign a contract with Tu Fan country; luckily Qiao Feng drives him away. Murong Fu identifies the weak emperor and forces him to abdicate the throne to Fu; luckily Zhong Lin (who hasn't appeared for nearly 35 episodes) leads her snake to defeat Fu. How unlucky for Zhong, though, she loves Duan Yu but soon finds out that she is another sister of his. So she runs off with Qiao Feng, who sees Ah Zhu's beauty in her, to Qidan.
Sooner or later, Duan Yu had to find out that WYY is too his sister. This almost kills Duan Yu and certainly has the same effect on WYY, who apparently chooses to become a priest. In addition, #1 of the FOUR EVIL befriends Murong Fu. They arrange for all of Duan Zheng Chun's mistresses (except Miss Ma; she's dead) to come to Miss Wang's mansion. They try to make Chun abdicate the Da Li throne to #1, but he refuses. Fu shows his most vicious side by killing ALL of Chun's past and current lovers, not sparing one. Deeply saddened, Chun moves on to become a monk at Da Li's holy temple. Duan Yu, at the same time, finds out that #1 is in fact his REAL father. He rejects #1, but #1 says no one can deny this fact, which is true. Duan Yu immediately runs to tell WYY the news, and they can finally be together now.
Or not. Mu Wan Qing, who swore that the first person who sees her face will marry her, is now also not Duan Yu's sister, and she wants a piece of him too. Thankfully, Zhong Lin and Ah Zi rush in with the news that Qiao Feng has been imprisoned by Liao's emperor. Apparently, a lot has happened over there. First, Ah Zi was able to recover her sight by taking You Tan Zhi's eyes. Once he is the blind one, she leaves him alone in a dark house. When he comes to find her in Qidan, she kills him herself. Poor guy! At the same time, Liao's emperor has decided to soon attack the Mainland, which greatly worries Qiao. So he takes Ah Zi (who has become extremely jealous of Zhong) and Zhong Lin to run away, but he gets poisoned so he told them to run to Duan Yu for help. In fact, the emperor has decided to attack Xi Xia first, so Yu, Mu Wang Qing, WYY, Zhong Lin and Ah Zi go to Xi Xia to tell Xu Zhu the news.
Not soon before, Xiao Yuan Shan and Murong Buo both became Buddhists in Shaolin under a sweeper monk. Buo had been looking at manuscripts and improved his kung fu. With some help from Jiu Muo Zhi, Buo knocks out the sweeper monk and Xiao Yuan Shan. They soon took Shaolin completely. Not slowing down their conquest, Murong Fu, Murong Buo and Jiu Muo Zhi took control of the Beggar's Clan as well. With Mainland's two biggest sects in their hands, the three evildoers go to Qidan to ask the emperor to attack the Mainland, further expanding the emperor's determination. Jiu also creates conflict between TuFan and XiXia, but he lost all his power in an accident, and it is Xu Zhu who saves him. Finally knowing peace, Jiu resigns and goes to study Buddhism.
Duan Yu, Xu Zhu and others finally get Qiao Feng out of the prison. But Murong Fu's got something in stores for Duan Yu. When Yu and WYY are alone one night, Fu kidnaps her to a house in the middle of nowhere, and the path contains many deadly traps. Duan Yu comes to rescue but obviously is no match for Fu. Mu Wang Qing, in saving Duan Yu, loses her life, and Murong Fu finally dies too. Feeling guilty, Duan Yu makes Qing the queen of Da Li (Yu being the soon-to-be emperor), with support from WYY. The next mission is to find the treasures from Shaolin and Beggar's Clan, which Murong Fu had hidden in a secret place. After many frustrating days, the heroes finally locate the treasures. However, in the process Qiao Feng had wronged Ah Zi for poisoning Zhong Lin, so Zi decides to make everyone suffer. She switches the treasures with two plain sticks, and when Qiao Feng opens the case in front of Liao's emperor, sticks are exactly what they see. Qiao figures Ah Zi did this, but first they get knocked off a cliff by Murong Buo, who swears to get his son's revenge. After a few days, Ah Zi comes to them, with the term that she will only give back the treasures if Qiao Feng marries her. Qiao of course hesitates, so she runs off again. Ever notice how many times she actually runs off in the show? They must be used to it now.
After a few days, Ah Zi comes back to pursue Qiao again. He finally agrees! However, it is too late. Qiao was going to use the treasure to show Liao's emperor that Murong Buo is not in control of the Mainland's two strongest sects, which would then make the emperor retreat the troops. However, when Ah Zi agrees to get the treasures, the emperor had already ordered the attack. So Qiao, Yu and Xu Zhu rush to stop him. Seeing that there is no way emperor is going to listen, Qiao takes his sword and kills himself. This finally makes the emperor stop the attack. Ah Zi comes back, only to find that dear brother-in-law has passed. She remembers all the evil things that she had done, and it was she who triggered his death, so she sobs and jumps off a cliff (and dies). Murong Buo and Qiao's sworn brothers (Yu and Zhu) set a date to settles the "matters" between them, but the wicked Buo gets Xu Zhu alone and nearly kills him; thankfully Ling Jiu Palace's servants rush to save their master (that would be Xu Zhu). Duan Yu thinks of getting his real father, #1 of the FOUR EVILS, to assist in the duel, but Buo gets his hands on the FOUR EVIL first and kills all of them. Just before his last breath, #1 finally hears Duan Yu call him father.
With #1 gone, Duan Yu and Xu Zhu are ready to die with Murong Buo. To their luck, WYY has brought Xiao Yuan Feng, who was rescued by a passing farmer. Now the three of them have a solid chance against Buo. All three have life-or-death matters to settle with Buo. On the night of the duel, the sky makes thunder and rain, calling for the ultimate fight. Xiao Yuan Shan sacrifices his life so that Yu and Zhu can defeat Murong Buo, and it finally happens. The series ends with Xu Zhu, his dear princess, Duan Yu and WYY looking at three joint graves, those of Qiao Feng, Xiao Yuan Shan, and Ah Zi.
Thoughts on acting
This show is so cool. Not many of them can hold up after more than twenty years. It looked great then and still looks fantastic today. In addition, this is the first series that I remember watching as a child, and it truly opened the passage for hundreds of more movies and series that I would watch in the years to follow. Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils 1982 initiated my affection for the martial arts/wuxia genre, and being so it will always hold a special place in my heart.
However, I am not going to deny the flaws in this movie. Being made in the early 80s, this show was definitely ahead of the era, but it certainly is not flawless. The acting is very good here, but I have noticed a few times that Leung Kar Yan (as Qiao Feng) almost could not wait to deliver his lines. It shows that he knows exactly what was going to be said and just responds readily without thinking. I cannot call this good acting. But most of the time, Leung is excellent. In fact, he just about played Qiao Feng flawlessly, if it weren't for those lines. Leung's martial arts ability is very good also. He is quite popular to the fans of martial arts films. Many outstanding performances come from other actors -- too many to name. However, there are also long, awkward pauses for no reason. It just becomes very awkward and flawed if no one talks when he should. This does not happen as often in recent adaptations.
Thoughts on characters
My favorite characters include Duan Yu, Murong Fu, Duan Zheng Chun, Mu Wan Qing, the FOUR EVIL, Qiao Feng and Ah Zhu. Let's get the last two out of the way first. I don't think it is possible to watch this series without liking Qiao Feng. He is one of the most popular heroes ever portrayed in wuxia novels and shows, certainly the most popular in this series. I initially did not like him 12 years ago when I first watched the show, because he overshadowed my favorite character Duan Yu, but now that I have had a chance to revisit his character, I find him most noble and chivalrous, and everyone I know agrees. Ah Zhu is also the ideal girl in love. She is sweet, caring, kind, and understanding. She does not cry like a baby and run away when bad news come; she considers others before herself; she even died for the people that she loves -- that was a mistake, but these things show exactly what kind of a person she is. I love her character. She is someone special.
Many people consider Murong Fu the most evil in the show and few likes him, but I feel the opposite for both things. I don't think he is the most evil; his character is too calm and cool to be so evil. If Jing Yong intended for him to be evil, that's fine, but that is in his novel and we are only talking about this show. Honestly, Murong Fu was magnificently portrayed here. I have hardly seen a character so cool, so determined and obsessed with "business." I admire this passion very much. Although he is willing to reach his goal at all cost, it is not as if he is the only one who has done so in history. I admit that he is very cruel and wicked as well, but I prefer to look at his cooler, more determined side.
I think up till the time Murong Fu and Ding Chun Qiu started murdering the ladies of Ling Jiu Palace, Fu had been portrayed as a calm person. He was introduced as a person who had been wronged. Although in fact he is more evil than most people could have imagined at first glance, the show did not reveal his vicious side until much later. Of course, I think the most cruel thing he did was killing all of Duan Zheng Chun's lovers. That was just uncalled for.
Again, many people say that Ah Zi is not one of the evil people, but they obviously are coming from reading the novel rather than from watching this show, because Ah Zi was not portrayed as anything less than a heartless monster here. She was introduced taking the life of her brothers and giggling, and she is the cause for several major deaths, not to mention she killed many people with her own hands. I absolutely loathe her. The way she does things reminds me of the injustice in this world. People like her actually get to live in Qidan's royal palace, while so many kind people starve to death everyday. A sick person like Ah Zi does not deserve to live, let alone being cared for by Qiao Feng and all these other people. Qiao Feng has every right to smash the brains out of her, but he didn't. Instead he took care of her, like Ah Zhu told him to do. But she just does not know how lucky she is. She lies all the time and blames Qiao Feng for wrongfully accusing her, which happened for real ONCE, but she deserved it. She always compares herself to Ah Zhu. Well little sister, you're right, you are nothing compared to her. Still, when she jumped off that cliff in the last episode, one couldn't help but feel sorry for her.
I feel that the most tragic and unfortunate character has to be You Tan Zhi. I mean, the guy is introduced as a no-talent son. Then his father gets killed and he must get revenge. Instead, he gets captured by Ah Zi, who tortures the living crap out of him. Still, he loves her with all his heart. He even changed his name to be with her. As if saving her multiple times and taking care of her wasn't enough, he even gave her his own eyes so that she could see again. What does she do? She dumps him immediately and runs back to Qian Feng. One has to see what a cold-hearted person she is. But the most heartbreaking thing she does is taking You Tan Zhi's life with her own hands when he came all the way to Qidan to search for her. He must have gone through a lot to get there, blind and alone, and she does nothing but call him names and blame him, followed by killing him. One does have to admit, though, You Tan Zhi was just too crazy about Ah Zi, but he certainly does not deserve this kind of treatment from her.
The Duan family, on the other hand, is a collection of some of the nicest, kindest, and most caring people. Even though Duan Zheng Chun slept with many women, causing a lot of grief for his "son," he was just so understanding and cool about everything. Most fathers, not to mention emperor's brothers, would kill their son for running away and bringing back an unknown person as a wife, but Chun simply welcomes his son and his new wife, making them feel at home. One can also see that many times Chun shows his passion for the Da Li people. Even when Duan Yu gives up the groom-ship of Xi Xia, he did not blame his son, but pats him on the back and says, "WYY is a good girl; take care of her." I cannot think of a more ideal father and a leader. But Chun is not the only one, certainly. Duan Yu is much the same way. He helps literally everyone out, whether they deserve help or not. He is even kinder than his father. As for the emperor of Da Li, he is just as caring and understanding.
This is one of the stand-outs from the era. You see wuxia series after series, but none I have seen has this level of complex but related stories, immense amount of (mostly linked) characters, and such an optimistic effect. Truly, this is a masterpiece from Jin Yong that is full of surprises, which is the best part about the show. Characters that you thought would never appear again actually appear randomly throughout the show, while others you thought would stay onscreen forever disappear shortly. I could not keep the smile off my face whenever I saw a character re-enter the screen. Trust me, there will be many surprises. In addition, the plot twists are for the most part unpredictable (unlike most other series), and although this adaptation isn't 100% the same as the novel, the content will intrigue and satisfy any fan of the wuxia genre.