God of Sabre


Reviewed by: sukting

December 07, 2003

Rating: four

How long
15 episodes or 6 vcds

Foreword
This serial is an adaptation of Gu Long’'s novel, "‘The Full Moon Crescent-Shaped Sabre’". All Gu Long fans will know that he is very crazy over sabres and daggers. We have the Black Sabre by Fu Hong Suet in 3 novels. We also have the little flying dagger by Yip Hoi and Lee Cam Foon in 3 novels too. No exception for Ding Pang in here for having the crescent-shaped sabre. All Gu Long fans will remember the 7 words engraved on the sabre: "listening to the spring rain for a night at a small resort" (楼一夜听春雨). The observant Mr. Wong Jiem then adds the last 2 words to the themesong title.

Till now, I have not watched the VCD version. I don’t know how it can be mutilated into 5 miserable VCDs. I am glad that I was able to watch the uncut version on Singaporean television in the early 80s. Please inform me of any corrections as I have forgotten most parts. I will compare it with "‘Against the Blade of Honour’", which starred Louis Koo and Leung Siu Bing.

Story

Ding Pang goes to challenge every swordsman to prove that he is the best. Actually he only depends on a few strokes that are written on a piece of paper to win. He challenges Lau Yuk Chong to a duel. He saves a prostitute, Chun Hor Ching and starts to love her. He even reveals his secret to her and they spend the night in bed together. On the day of the duel, Ding Pang is shocked that Yuk Chong uses his own strokes to defeat him. He even accuses him of stealing the techniques from him.

It is at this time when he realizes that Hor Qing is Yuk Chong’'s wife. He has made use of his wife to cheat the skills from him. Feeling humiliated as the whole world believes Yuk Chong, Ding Pang jumps over a cliff. He survives and learns skills from Old Yu on a deserted island. The habitants lie that they are fox spirits. But Ding Pang knows that they are from a cult sect and they are there to seek a quiet life.

Old Yu is the cult’'s leader and decides to make Ding Pang his successor seeing how determined he is to seek his revenge. Here comes the beautiful crescent-shaped sabre that I like and remember so well. It is the vital attraction of the serial. We are then treated to many scenes where Old Yu trains Ding Pang so strictly that he is often hit by the cane! He marries Ching Ching but his heart is filled with hatred and revenge. So she comes to the pugilistic world reluctantly with him, knowing that this is going to change their lives.

Ding Pang returns and causes Yuk Chong’'s downfall. Ding Pang turns so evil here –at first, he makes all subdue to him by showing the power of the sabre. Many recognize it as the cult’'s signage and submit to him. Later, he causes Hor Ching to be an adulterer. She has planned to elope with her lover but is discovered by Yuk Chong. In his anger, he strangles her to death. Yuk Chong is even made a laughing stock as he doesn'’t know that his new fiance that he is attracted to is a prostitute arranged by Ding Pang. The guests are so shocked when they attend his wedding.

Later, Yuk Chong is reduced to nothing when his dirty deeds are revealed -– no more fame and glory for him. So he becomes Ding Pang’'s follower. However, he still plans his revenge secretly. Ching Ching has not trusted him but Ding Pang is too happy to make him his ‘dog’ after his success. Indeed, Yuk Chong combines with the other sects to attack Ding Pang and the cult in the end.

Old Yu doesn’'t wish to die in disgrace and before his death, he hides behind a big stone after saying his last words to Ching Ching. Ching Ching also gets killed in the end by Yuk Chong (If I am not wrong, that is after she gives birth to Ding Pang’s son).

Ding Pang avenges her death after grabbing the crescent-shaped sabre from Yuk Chong. Yuk Chong thinks that he has mastered the skills but doesn’'t know that Ding Pang still hides a few fatal techniques from him. So Yuk Chong is defeated and killed in the end. However, Ding Pang is no longer happy again.

Introduction on characters

1. Ding Pang -– Lau Chung Yan
Lau Chung Yan shows us why he was so popular as a Dai Hup when young and is still one at his age now. He is the perfect man for the role. He might not be as dashingly handsome as Tin Lok but he wins with his acting skills and martial arts ability. He moves the strokes with the crescent-shaped sabre with ease, agility and also style!!! It is really a pleasure to watch him. I have read the novel and it turns out to be the same way as described. The producer has done a great job.

Chung Yan paves the changes in Ding Pang. He was gullible when younger. So pathetic that he wishes to die from shame. After knowing the dangers of the world, he becomes wary, vicious and is matured. But his feelings for Ching Ching are true. However, he lets down his guard after achieving success. That is why he loses his wife in the end. He can pair up well with any actress in any swordfighting serial besides Mai Shuet. With Ngar Chi, both look very compatible.

Tin Lok is good but sometimes, he overacts and his performance is a little inconsistent. I can accept that he is fair looking –- in fact Cheng Siu Chau addresses him as the 90's swordsman. I find him better in scenes when Ding Pang is more matured. The way he frowns and looks despaired wins my applause. It is said that Tin Lok was nervous here as he gave his first screen kiss to Bik Har -– all his fans must be upset.

The producer should not have arranged Ding Pang to be torn between Hor Ching and Ching Ching at first. This makes his Ding Pang indecisive and weak. Moreover, he ditches Ching Ching after knowing that she belongs to the cult. Then after his planned marriage with Siu Yuk, he realizes that he still loves Ching Ching and returns to her.

Chung Yan proves to be better as he is able to inject feelings and we can feel whether he is sad or happy immediately. Moreover, Ding Pang is devoted to Ching Ching all along. Although Hor Ching makes him distrust women at first, Ching Ching manages to melt his heart.

2. Yu Ching Ching –- Chiu Ngar Chi

She is beautiful, highly skilled and mysterious. Unlike Ding Pang, she is very alert and knows the presence of dangers earlier than him. She has wanted a quiet life but Ding Pang wants the reverse. To please him and help him in his ambition, she sets out to frame Hor Ching to cause Yuk Chong’'s failure. We can also see how she tries to help him in his training. She is so graceful in using the sabre with gentleness, unlike the forceful way he uses it. But he is still more talented than her, only using 3 years to master it while she needed 7 years!

Ngar Chi is always the pretty maiden in period dramas. She portrays the sweetness and understanding well. You will know why because she not only looks like one but acts like one too. The way she moves the sleeves and walks produces the traditional air. We find this lacking in actresses nowadays.

Leung Siu Bing’'s version is gentle but impressive -– many will be touched to see how she sacrifices herself -– even to forgive her enemies. I must comment that she is good in acting scenes where Ching Ching is blind. However, she has few fighting scenes –- I have longed to watch more as she looks so graceful with her Chinese dancing background.

3. Lau Yuk Chong –- Kwok Fung
You will certainly despise him. He can stoop so low to get his wife to seduce another man just to gain success. He knows that he has no chance to win after so many sect leaders lose to Ding Pang, so he decides to cheat. From a highly respected sect leader, he becomes a lowly servant. But this man can endure all kinds of humiliation in order to gain success -– I still have to admire him for that!

Kwok Fung is a fine actor. I really hate him so much that I can still remember him for so many years. That proves that he is successful.

Cheung Siu Fai makes a better choice in looks as he is younger. His acting is also good although not as pathetic as Kwok Fung. However, it is due to the fault of the producer -– I can’-t decide whether he became righteous or evil in the end because it is never mentioned.

4. Chun Hor Ching -– Hon Ma Lai
This woman is a vixen. She lures men with her beauty and she can ditch them any time. Be tongue-tied when she appears in the first scene near the river when Ding Pang is to scream for help. She looks so vulnerable and helpless when she runs without her shoes in a dark purple dress. That also brings out her fair complexion that makes Ding Pang attracted to her. However, in the next scene, she is so evil looking when with Yuk Chong. She doesn'’t respect her husband at all and is often involved with other men. Ding Pang is only one of her ‘play-things’ and that is why he hates her so much. Little does she know that this man planned to torture her first and planned her death without killing her with his own hands.

Ma Lai is so pretty and scheming in the role. Seeing how she seduces Ding Pang can make your blood boil. She is so convincing and yet when the truth is uncovered, she can be so heartless to stand beside Yuk Chong and ignore him completely. Later, she added salt to Ding Pang’'s wound by saying that her husband was right. I wonder why she is easily forgotten for doing so well here. Just because her role here is limited?? This is so unfair to her.

Sorry to offend Wan’'s fans but Bik Har is really bad. She likes to place her hair down to hide her baby fat and moles on her face for every serial. This makes her looks so much older than Tin Lok. Moreover, Tin Lok looks so thin and her face looks so round. Both are already a mismatch in appearance and it is a torture to see both appearing from the beginning.

Actually I was so happy thinking that Hor Ching is dead for good after jumping off the cliff and dismayed when she is back. I am so disgusted with the arrangement of Hor Ching liking Ding Pang during the process of deceiving him. This arrangement to makes Hor Ching likable and to arrange for her to learn a powerful skill is a big mistake. She lacks the agility to make us believe that she is a martial arts expert too. Her death in Ding Pang’s hands doesn’'t move me -– I am more than glad to watch it. Her expressions never change and she is so wooden. How can she be popular for so long?

5. Ah Gu –- Tsang Wai Ming
This character only appears in ‘God of Sabre’. He is Ding Pang’'s deaf and mute servant who is loyal to him in protecting his mistress and master.

6. Old Yu –- Shek Kin
He is an elderly man who is strict but also a doting grandfather to his only granddaughter. I am very touched by the last scene when he lets down the big stone to separate from her despite her pleads.

Cheung Yik’'s version of the old man who turns into a vicious man hungry for power isn’t that impressive.

7. Heung Yee –- Liu On Lai
She is Ching Ching’'s maid and is loyal to her mistress. However, she is killed in the attack in the end and can'’t be with Ah Gu. I think both are quite a loving couple as she understands him so well despite his inability to talk at all.

8. Jing Mou Ming –- Chan Kar Fai
This character only appears in ‘Against the Blade of Honour’. He tries to challenge Ding Pang but loses in skills. He then turns to become a physician after hurting Ching Ching’'s eyes. The family is even with him when they retreat in the wilds. I can’'t tell whether he is in love with Ching Ching or not. Kar Fai’'s role is quite redundant as he doesn'’t help much in the story development.

9. Tse Hiu Feng –- Wong Wai
This character only appears in ‘Against the Blade of Honour’. Another change in the story as this character should not appear at all. Tse Hiu Feng is the top swordsman in the pugilistic world who causes Old Yu to retreat. But he doesn’'t expect the righteous sect to wipe out the cult by deceiving them so that they will forgive them. He is so remorseful that he stays in reclusion, pretending that he is dead. But Ding Pang comes to harass him to force him out of retreat. He has to appear to have a duel with him. Later, he dies in his hands after knowing that he can take care of his daughter.

I notice that Wong Wai lacks confidence in acting swordfighting dramas as he can’'t handle fighting scenes well. Same as this one -– he is still better in historical dramas.

10. Tse Siu Yuk –- Lee Wing
This role is deemed unnecessary and luckily she only appears in ‘Against the Blade of Honour’. She is Tse’'s daughter who is innocent and but has not inherited either his skills or wisdom. She is stupid to marry Ding Pang and is the worst person to watch as she can'’t act at all. I don’t think Tse’'s daughter should be gullible and weak. The novel portrays her as evil and scheming. She hates Tse for being unfaithful to her mother and thus she tries to frame him. This arrangement is more acceptable.

Most favourite character
Ching Ching, for her understanding and sweetness to please and help Ding Pang every now and then.

Most hated character
Yuk Chong, for being so despicable to achieve his aim through evil deeds. A close second will be Hor Ching. She is evil but we still pity her because Yuk Chong only concentrates on practising martial arts and neglects her. She looks for other men because of loneliness.

Song
All will be captivated by the song by Jenny Tseng. It is ‘the crescent-shaped sabre in the autumn rain’ (春雨弯刀) which is so well known till today. It is considered to be one of Tseng’'s classics. I like it very much – I have heard her sing this song ‘live’ in Singapore during the ‘Fai Wong’ concert in 1998. It was touching when she delivered the song with her strong voice. The audience nearly turned crazy too as all recalled this serial fondly too.

Ng Wing Mei’'s new themesong for ‘Against the Blade of Honour’ sounds boring and bland.

Conclusion
Those who need a break from the usual special effects swordfighting dramas can watch this serial to have a different feel. Chung Yan’'s presentation of the skills using the sabre is simply extraordinary. No other serial can offer the same satisfaction.

I don’'t like the ending, though –- it is too sad. Why arrange Ding Pang to part with Ching Ching? I also hate the same arrangement in ‘Against the Blade of Honour’. I am so puzzled –- the novel has a happy ending – why not preserve it? It has Ding Pang happily married to Ching Ching. They have twin sons and decide to raise one as a scholar while another will inherit his skills. Ding Pang even manages to kill Yuk Chong with his own hands. Does TVB enjoy producing tragedies?

On acting : * * * * (Scale of 5)

On story : * * * * (Scale of 5)


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