The Black Sabre


Reviewed by: sukting

February 10, 2004

Rating: three-point-five

How long
20 episodes

Foreword
It is an adaptation of Gu Long’s novel of the same title. I will not encourage viewers to read the novel as it is not highly entertaining with unnecessary dialogue. But this serial has the usual suspense of a typical Gu Long drama. And with such a good cast, you will be lured to watch from the beginning to the end. Sorry for the long list below but I feel the supporting cast need introduction since they do so well.

If you are interested in knowing about other stories about Fu Hong Xue and Ye Kai, you may try reading ‘The Moon and the Sabre’ and ‘The Condor Flies in September’. Both novels are less interesting to me, though.

Story

Fu Hong Xue is asked by his mother to look for his father’s killer after given the black sabre. He meets Ye Kai on the way and he is curious when he says that both of them have a connection. Ye Kai watches him in pity upon discovering that he walks with a limp.

A young man in purple challenges Hong Xue to draw his weapon but Ye Kai breaks his sword into two. He knows that he will be killed if he confronts him and takes on him instead. Every night, a mysterious woman sleeps with Hong Xue and he never asks about her identity.

One day, Hong Xue meets a lady on horseback. She slashes her whip on his face for blocking her way. He tolerates her but he shivers with his hand on the sabre when she leaves. She is not that lucky when she meets Ye Kai. Ye Kai nearly drags her off her horse and she flees to Bie Li’s place. She is Ma Kong Qun’s daughter, Fang Ling. Kong Qun knows that Bie Li will not visit him that night but still invites him anyway.

Ma Kong Qun invites many people to his Wan Ma Tang. His two henchmen, Hua Man Tian and Yun Zai Tian attend to the guests. Ye Kai and Hong Xue arrive with others. Murong Ming Zhu arrives with his men - all of them dress in purple. Gongsun Duan only allows Ming Zhu to go in and he needs to disarm himself.

He refuses and Duan uses his curved sabre to break a man’s sword. Ye Kai tries hard not to laugh upon seeing the person. He is the same man who tries to raise his sword earlier! The poor lad never seems to have the chance to display his weapon. The youngsters sneer at Hong Xue and challenge him to crawl under the lower pole to get into the mansion. To their surprise, he obeys them.

However, their expressions freeze upon seeing the deep shoeprint that he leaves on the ground. That means he is highly skilled and tolerates the humiliation for a purpose. Man Tian frowns upon seeing it but is calm. Duan is more reckless – he challenges him to raise his weapon. However, Ma stops him in time. Although all recognize the sabre and turn pale by its presence. They allow him in with it.

Ming Zhu is furious over the different treatment and wants to get back his sword. Man Tian says that he is digging his grave by doing so. Da Yu’s fans must watch this scene. In a blink of the eye, he throws all the youngsters’ swords on the table. Ming Zhu’s fingers stop in the midst and retreats because he is frightened!

A lady gives Ye Kai a hairpin and he puts it on his clothes. Zai Tian recognizes it as he has given it to her. Just then, they hear a noise saying that no one will survive upon stepping into Wan Ma Tang. Ma talks about the past of the elimination of Shen Dao Tang by the sabre. He suspects that one of the guests here could be the killer’s descendant. That is why the 3 are on their guard upon seeing Hong Xue with it. Shen Dao Tang and Wan Ma Tang are close so it is understandable that the killers will hunt them down too.

All are suspects because they arrive on the same day – which is yesterday when all the poultry in the mansion is killed mysteriously. The 3 think of the Chinese idiom – ji quan bu liu. This means never leave anything alive. Ma keeps them for the night. Ye Kai and Hong Xue smile at each other after both deny the killing act. This is the first time Ye Kai sees him smiling but Hong Xue adds that it might be the last time.

They hear the voice again and Ye Kai goes out in the dark. He meets Fang Ling again. He gets on the horse and holds her hands behind her back tightly. She tries to scream but finds herself falling for him. When he returns, 13 people are killed. Man Tian and Zai Tian suspects that he is the killer and challenge him to a duel. Fang Ling’s brother, Xiao Hu comes out with San Niang at this time and reveals that he has seen him together with Fang Ling earlier.

Ma brings Ye Kai to Tian Yu and Tian Yong’s grave. They are his elder sworn brothers and Ye Kai finally knows why he is known as the 3rd master. He tells Ye Kai why they are buried together with their wives in a grave. That is because when he discovered their bodies, only their bones were left and their flesh were eaten by wolves. He couldn’t differentiate them. Ye Kai’s blood runs cold.

It is not easy for Ma to have this piece of land so no one can grab it from him. He knows why Ye Kai refuses to tell the rest where he was earlier – to save Fang Ling’s name. Ye Kai refuses to leave the place because this town is his hometown. Duan and Ma have a secret – they are the killers of the Bai family! They suspect Ye Kai or Hong Xue to be Tian Yu’s son because their ages are close.

Ma is worried. If the whole family died, where did this orphan come from? How did he survive? And how do others know that they are the killers and escape their search? They must stay calm now. Ye Kai sees Bie Li. They talk about Cui Nong. She is the prostitute who gives her the hairpin. Ye Kai then discovers that Bie Li lost his 2 legs.

Ye Kai sees Xiao Hu and knows that San Niang tells him to lie. Zai Tian comes at this time to question Cui Nong about the hairpin and is embarrassed to see Ye Kai. He then adds that his other purpose is to look for Hong Xue. Ye Kai replies that he has not seen him. Suddenly 4 coffins are sent here. They are shocked to find that one contain a guest, Spider who went to Wan Ma mansion earlier. The others are missing.

Zai Tian sees the person who sendt the coffin is a martial arts expert, Ding and spars with him but he escapes. San Niang has a chat with Cui Nong in her room. Ma chides Zai Tian for running after the assassin instead of checking for the evidence in the corpse’s hands. Ye Kai must have taken it away. Duan confronts Hong Xue but he gets away. Later Fang Ling finds Hong Xue struggling on the ground, having a seizure and vomiting. This illness has tortured him for 10 over years and always hides when it happens but Fang Ling sees him like this. He stabs himself but Fang Ling hugs him to calm him down.

When he knows that she is Ma’s daughter, he starts to tear her clothes and nearly rapes her. Ye Kai stops him in time and takes care of him. Fang Ling cries and return home on her own. Ye Kai waits for him to recover and assures him that it is not his fault. Ye Kai admires his skill when both try to seek the killer – his movements aren’t slow although he is limping. They discover that Ming Zhu and his attendants are dead. Ye Kai takes a piece of purple cloth out from his pocket to match Ming Zhu’s clothes. He has removed it from Spider’s hand. Spider is killed by Ming Zhu so who killed Ming Zhu to end the clue?

Hong Xue feels remorseful for committing the offence. The woman comes to look for Hong Xue again and disallows him to light the light. She assures him that she will let him know in future. She tells him that she has borne the pain for 7 long years just for him to seek revenge. She knows that Ma is the culprit. San Niang goes to see Cui Nong. Sai Niang gets badly beaten up by Duan. It is strange that she doesn’t resist because earlier we know that she is a martial arts expert. Zai Tian comes to see Cui Nong and can’t find her in her room.

Ye Kai is shocked to know that Bie Li is involved in the killings as he sees him with Ding. He even gives Ye Kai money to look for Hong Xue to kill Ma together. Ye Kai is curious to know who is the real mastermind but has no answer.

San Niang’s identity is uncovered. Ma says she is Bai Feng’s younger sister. Ma knows she helped him build up everything to ruin it later to upset him. Ma has seen her with Tian Yu and Bai Feng when she was younger. Bai Feng was pregnant with Tian Yu’s child then. After Tian Yu’s death, he tried finding them in vain. Despite knowing her identity, he keeps her by his side because he needs women and she is for free!

She feels humiliated – all her 7 years are sacrificed for nothing. The missing Cui Nong is here. He knows that she is her accomplice in exchanging news. He lets them off. Ye Kai informs Ma about Bie Li’s plan and he wants him to take Fang Ling away. Duan runs after San Niang and Cui Nong. Cui Nong meets Hong Xue on the way and reveals her identity.

He is delighted and later heartbroken to learn from Duan that she is a prostitute. He kills Duan in a rage. Zai Tian informs Ma that all their men are being killed. Duan’s dead body is sent back and Ma uses his sabre to injure Zai Tian. He knows that Zai Tian is one of the culprits. Man Tian’s sword strikes into his chest and he dies. Ma knows that Ming Zhu is here to help Zai Tian kill the people to force him to leave.

Spider is actually engaged by Ma to find out who are Tian Yu’s descendants. Zai Tian thinks that Cui Nong is his woman and he tells her everything. So Hong Xue comes at this time after being informed. Zai Tian doesn’t bother to see Spider’s hand because he already knows Ming Zhu is the killer. But he never expects Ye Kai to know it. So he kills Ming Zhu. Ming Zhu is here because he is interested to control the ranch. But Zai Tian isn’t the person to kill Man Tian’s 13 men on that night.

This man must be having a high position to make Zai Tian work with him and the 13 men trust him too. And because they do not expect him to kill, they are caught unprepared. So Man Tian must be the killer! Man Tian is unhappy that he is not recognized for working long. They have a duel and Ma kills him too. He is firm that no one takes his success away from him.

Ye Kai chases after a woman and discovers that she is San Niang. She reveals the past to him. Ma was jealous over Tian Yu’s success because Shen Dao Tang was doing much better than Wan Ma Tang. So he enlisted 30 experts to deal with him.

20 years ago, Bai Tian Yu and his 11 family members were killed in the snow when they were on the way to visit Kong Qun. They were supposed to admire the white snow at a Mei Hua nunnery and didn’t expect to see red blood instead. Ye Kai is puzzled that even nuns prepared the wine and food – that means that they are not complete devotees.

Ma’s 3 fingers were cut by Tian Yu’s sabre. He injured Tian Yu’s strong arm by surprise to weaken his grip on him. If not, he could have been killed. One killer was remorseful because Tian Yu let him off after discovering his identity. He confessed the crime to Bai Feng. No one knows the other 6 killers who escaped because they were contacted by Ma directly. They even changed all their weapons that night so no one knew them. They were too nervous to look at each other as they were focused on killing Tian Yu.

The cult’s First Princess, Hua Bai Feng fell for Tian Yu. She still loves him despite his married status. He respected his wife and was unable to part with her. Bai Feng didn’t mind it and left the cult because her father objected to it. She was the cult leader’s only daughter and her father hated Tian Yu for defeating him. She spent her time training their son, Hong Xue instead and was stubborn to refuse help from the cult.

San Niang requests Ye Kai to take care of him. She doesn’t know when he is going to have a relapse again. It happens when he is too nervous. Moreover, he lacks experience in killing. Ye Kai gives her his consent.

San Niang is not Bai Feng’s sister but her maid. She is grateful to her mistress for treating her so well and thus she is willing to spend her 10 precious years with Ma. Ye Kai returns to town and knows that the villagers have engaged a swordsman, Lu Xiao Jia, to deal with Hong Xue. They find Hong Xue a jinx as too many killings happen lately.

Ye Kai meets Ling Lin and Xiao Jia picking on each other. Xiao Jia’s sword has no cover so that he can kill any time. Xiao Jia requests to have a bath in the middle of the street. Ling Lin has lots of bells on her that gives martial arts experts lots of headaches but Ye Kai is not afraid of her.

Many think that she is jealous of Xiao Jia. They don’t know that she has chased Ye Kai for 3 months and is jealous to see him with Fang Ling. Fang Ling offers herself to Hong Xue to let her father off and gets rejected. She is worried because Ma is getting old and he is definitely not his match. When she sees Ye Kai with Ling Lin on the street, she gets jealous. She then looks for Xiao Jia to kill Hong Xue. He wants her to use a towel to massage his back. She bears with the insult.

Hong Xue comes. All have a surprise when Xiao Jia kills all his creditors with a stroke. He knows that they are going to attack Hong Xue secretly when they are fighting. Ding is hiding under the bathtub but he is slower than Xiao Jia to get killed. This scene is sure cool and top experts Hong Xue and Ye Kai are impressed with his swift action. He is as fast as lightning.

Xiao Jia likes money but he dislikes being made use of. He wants to use his own hands to handle a deal. Fang Ling cries and scolds the ranch workers for leaving the ranch. They reply that they have no choice but to leave because Ma tells them to do it. Suddenly the ranch is on fire. Ma will rather destroy his property to flee with San Niang. He leaves Xiao Hu to wait for Ye Kai, telling him to look after his children. He knows all will not miss the duel so he flees.

Ye Kai finds Fang Ling missing. Hong Xue wants to go after the couple on a horse. He softens upon seeing Cui Nong and brings her with him. She tells him that she only belongs to him despite the things that she has done. Ye Kai discovers that Bie Li is one of the killers. He is the son of ‘man of a thousand faces’. His father is superb in disguise and has passed all his skills to him. But he also leaves a burden of hatred. He is killed by Tian Yu and Bie Li has to seek revenge although he doesn’t know Tian Yu. He believes Hong Xue will understand him as both are in the same shoes.

That night, Bie Li’s legs are being chopped off by Tian Yu. He can never forget the devil sabre. It is not that Tian Yu spares his life. It is the snow that freezes his broken legs and keeps him alive. He can never forget the nightmare – so many are killed by Tian Yu. He believes it is cursed and can only bring death plus tragedies.

He has tried to test Ye Kai by telling him to kill Ma. Bie Li throws the fortune tablets away. Ye Kai brings Xiao Hu to Tian Yu’s grave and tells him not to be enemies with his children. Cui Nong dares not walk beside Hong Xue in his search for Ma. She knows that he despises her. Yuan Qing Feng approaches him and demands to duel with him. His family is a friend of Wan Ma Tang.

However, he never manages to see how fast the sabre moves and it is back inside its cover. Qing Feng sweats in horror. Later Cui Nong is captivated by Hong Xue’s smiles but he tells her that he will only do more of that after his revenge. Why is Fang Ling missing? She tries to seduce Xiao Jia and he brings her to his friend, Qing Feng instead. Qing Feng brings her on a lake tour and both land up falling into the lake (This scene is sure romantic when he saves her from drowning.)

Later, both dry their clothes at a rundown temple. Qing Feng places his outer clothing over her to prevent her from catching a cold. Fang Ling is unmoved but agrees to marry him so that he can help her to kill Hong Xue. Qing Feng is delighted and prepares for their wedding despite his father’s objection. Ye Kai leaves Xiao Hu with a friend. His friend has no children and treats Xiao Hu like his own son.

Hong Xue quarrels with Cui Nong. He refuses to use her money although he is going to finish using his money. Cui Nong leaves in tears but returns when he has a relapse. Xiao Jia comes not to kill him but to convey a message to him and Ye Kai that there is a meeting at Bai Yun mansion on the 15th of the 9th month. Hong Xue hates himself for letting Fang Ling and Xiao Jia see his weak side.

Ye Kai goes with Ling Lin to the wedding. They are astonished to know that Qing Feng is marrying Ling Lin. Ye Kai regrets not bringing Xiao Hu along. Hong Xue comes in and kills Qing Feng. His father turns pale when Hong Xue mentions about the killing. Hong Xue kills him too. Qing Feng’s uncle, Liu Dong Lai says that Hong Xue has made a mistake. Qiu Yun was with his wife when she died due to difficult labour on the fateful day.

Hong Xue feels that he has been stabbed because he has wronged the two and he has made a fatal mistake. Yuan Qiu Yun knows about the incident because Liu told him. Liu was one of the killers. Actually Qiu Yun chided him for the killing because of one woman. But he never regretted his choice. Bai Yu has used his power and riches to seduce his woman.

Hong Xue kills him for humiliating his father for being a womanizer. He doesn’t believe this truth. Fang Ling scolds the guests for not seeking revenge. They don’t wish to get involved because there is no rule that they must get into the dispute since it is natural to seek revenge. Fang Ling runs away.

Ling Lin’s eldest brother, Ling He comes to bring her home in vain. Hong Xue is sad when Cui Nong leaves. She is angry with him for leaving her alone, thinking that he is selfish not to bring her along. In reality, he loves her too much and doesn’t wish her to get hurt. He gets drunk for a few days. Cui Nong returns to his side.

He looks for Xue Bin. He is indeed one of the killers and still has a long scar that reaches from his throat to the stomach. But he stabs himself to prevent him from seeking revenge on him. Before dying, he says that Tian Yu is not fit to be a human and he will still do it if given the choice. Now Hong Xue starts to doubt Tian Yu – is he bad? Why do so many people wish to kill him despite the risk of ruining their reputation?

Ye Kai comes to examine the body and declares that he is poisoned by the wine he has just drunk. The stab wound is too shallow to kill him. Someone has killed him before Hong Xue. The two man suspect that there is another mastermind besides Ma. The person can be someone that he trusts.

Hong Xue is tricked by Yi Da Jin and nearly comes to blows with Wu Ming. Yi Da Jin wanted him to get killed by Yi indirectly in another person’s hands. Fortunately, Ye Kai stops him in time and Hong Xue searches him out. Yi confesses that he will still do it again. Tian Yu has forced him to join his Shen Dao Tang so he has no choice as he isn’t willing to do it.

Tian Yu is a hero. He will help those in need but he is hard to get along. He doesn’t want anyone to oppose to what he does. He doesn’t think for others. They have to listen to his command and to regain their freedom, they have to kill him. Ling Lin notices that Ye Kai’s expression is as sad as Hong Xue. Yi chops off his leg to repay the debt. Hong Xue forgives him but he will not let Ma off.

Ye Kai suddenly asks Ling Lin about Ling Zhong. He knows that Ling Zhong is Yi’s friend. She replies that he is smart, crafty and likes to seduce women. Her father, Ding Cheng Feng is a serious man who doesn’t smile in a year. But he’s faithful to his wife. He has not looked at other women after her death. Ling Zhong comes to remind her to return home soon. Otherwise even their aunt is unable to appease his anger. Ling Lin tells Ye Kai that Ding is strictest with Ling Zhong but also dotes on him the most.

Ye Kai asks if Ding has friends – does he know Xue Bin and Yi? Her answer is no, so he looks relieved but also disappointed. Ding says only two people are qualified to be his best friends. One is Li Xun Huan because he has done the impossible. Surprisingly, the second one is not Ah Fei because he thinks he never achieves much in life for being too lonely and proud. Ye Kai is shocked to know that the second is Tian Yu. Unfortunately, he dies young. Now he is close to his only younger sister, Bai Yun.

Ye Kai knows that she is unmarried because she sets her expectations too high. When she was young, many flocked to see her as she was a beauty. But she said men are like pigs and even encourages Ling Lin to stay single like her. So it is difficult to find someone to persuade Ding to accept Ye Kai as his son-in-law. Ye Kai asks if Ding is an expert. Ling Lin only knows that although all of them learn from him, none of them learn all his skills completely. Even her 3 brothers have not reached half of his standard.

No one spars with him and he doesn’t offend anyone. Ye Kai wishes to meet him after visiting Mei Hua nunnery which is nearby. An old nun attacks Hong Xue but she is not his match. She hated Tian Yu – she ditched other men to be with him but she was ditched after 3 days. She was ridiculed till now. He finds out that she was outside the nunnery at that moment. There were two inside. One was Ma but who was the other? She shows him her sabre wound on her chest. This was her everlasting memory. Tian Yu had recognized her when he injured her and let her off. But she hates him for this. She has aged so much although she is only 39 years old. He walks away. Ye Kai arrives just in time to see her coffin. She stays here to wait for his son to seek revenge. But after this, she has no will to live so she kills herself.

Ye Kai recognizes her as Madam Tao Hua. She has the beauty of a flower but she is as wicked as a scorpion. She disappears after the killing and Ye Kai is sure that Tian Yu will not kill his lover. Ye Kai knows her identity because he picks her secret weapon, a plum flower petal metal piece in the hall. He guesses that Hong Xue was here earlier and sparred with her.

He has wanted to ask her more questions. Ma removed all the killers’ bodies so that no one can seek revenge on their future generations. He is only concerned about himself. To prevent others from suspecting him, he pretends to vow to seek revenge to clear the clues. So what was left in the snow only belonged to the Bai family. Tian Yu’s head is missing and he guesses that Madam Tao Hua may have taken it.

She could be the only surviving woman among all and she hates him so much. Others only want to kill him but she wants him to accompany her forever. Since she can’t get him when he was live, she can have him when he is dead. Ling Lin feels that if that is the case, they should have found his head in her coffin earlier.

Hong Xue meets Guo Wei – another killer. He has brought his whole family there. Hong Xue stops upon seeing the young and the old together. Suddenly a dagger appears from nowhere and kills Guo’s grandson. The whole crowd goes mad and starts attacking Hong Xue. They think that he has killed the child. He takes out the dagger and starts killing all blindly. Later, he is so remorseful that he runs till he faints. When he is conscious, Cui Nong is beside him.

She is married and introduces him to her husband, Wang. He sees through her lie and regrets his decision. He wants her now. They hug each other and suddenly Wang attacks Hong Xue with a sword. Cui Nong senses the danger and shields him to get killed. Wang is here to seek revenge for Guo. Hong Xue uses his hand to catch the sword and forces him to tell who wants him to attack him when he is without his sabre but Wang is killed by a dagger – the same one that killed the child.

Hong Xue is angry and suspects Ye Kai to be the culprit. He buries Cui Nong in the mountains. Fang Ling pretends to be a peasant girl and names herself, Li Fen Fang. She meets Ling Lin’s 2 brothers, Ling Zhong and Ling Jia. Her second brother, Ling Jia falls for her and decides to bring her home to meet his father. Ling Zhong leaves them as he wants to go home first. On the way, he meets Ling Lin and Fang Ling’s identity is revealed when they meet Hong Xue.

Fang Ling questions Hong Xue where her father is but he tells her to convey his message to him to live longer for him to kill. She then sneers at him for not knowing that Cui Nong is Ma’s woman too. Why bother to get upset over her? At first, Ling Jia is shocked and is very upset. Still, he forgives her. Ling Lin nearly tears her hair. This spider lady already causes Qing Feng’s death. How can she let her harm her second brother? But to her dismay, Ling Jia still agrees to kill Hong Xue for her. Both have a match.

Fang Ling is dismayed that he loses the duel and even loses an arm. Ling Lin is angered and spars with Hong Xue to get hit on her acupoint. Hong Xue abducts Ling Lin to lure him out. Fang Ling is so cruel to leave Ling Jia alone, sitting on the ground, crying over his tragedy. This is really a very sad scene when he shouts aloud to himself - how can such a dreadful thing happen to him?

Xiao Jia tries hard to talk Hong Xue out of it upon seeing him carrying Ling Lin over his shoulder. He quickly gets Ye Kai to save her. Xiao Jia brings Ling Jia home. Notice that Ding is happy to see him? There is a secret behind it. The old man even softens to hug his shoulder. Ling Zhong wonders why ‘Fen Fang’ isn’t with him. He is enraged that Fang Ling makes use of Ling Jia and decides to capture her home.

Ling Lin is sad to see Cui Nong’s grave but she is sure that Ye Kai isn’t the killer. She turns pale upon seeing the dagger – she recognizes Ye Kai’s weapon. She suddenly faints upon seeing blood over her shoulder. When she is awake, she finds him roasting a rabbit. Hong Xue tells her to remove her clothes as she is wet.

She refuses and asks him whether he has tried raping Fang Ling before. He confesses to it, asking her whether she is reminding him. He is angry and tries to rape her. Suddenly, he has a relapse and has a seizure again. Luckily Ye Kai comes to clear the air. They find Ma’s tracks but miss him again.

Ma is on the run with San Niang. He leaves her when she is hit on the back by a dagger. The masked man threatens to main her and sell her to the brotherl if she doesn’t tell him where Ma keeps his riches. He flees upon hearing Ye Kai’s voice. Hong Xue is with them and turns pale upon seeing the dagger. Sometime is trying to create discord between them.

Ye Kai initially thinks the culprit is Ma but is surprised to know that he is not even 30 years old from San Niang. He notices that San Niang looks at Ling Lin with an odd expression. She tells him that the man must be coming from the north. When he says man – ren, it sounds like neng – can. Just like the way Ling Lin is talking. Ye Kai then realizes the reason. Ye Kai suddenly turns pale as he recalls the mastermind has asked if all the men are there. The word ‘ren’ strikes him and he jumps.

Ling Jia recuperates at home. He lies in bed and becomes ill as he loses his appetite. Ding is annoyed to see him so dejected that he knocks sense into him. Ling Jia picks himself up again to master his skills. Ling He is glad and helps him in his practices. Ling Zhong finally gets Fang Ling home. He warns her not to hurt Ling Jia again – if not, he will not spare her life. Fang Ling guesses that Ma has no other friends and he might approach the Dings so she stays on. However, she is too remorseful to face Ling Jia.

Why does Ma run so fast upon seeing the dagger? He recalls the past. Tian Yu showed them Li Xun Huan’s dagger. It has the word ‘endurance’ on it. He tells Tian Yu that he has survived till now because he understands the meaning of the word. Li even promises him when his 3rd son is born, he will teach his son. Suddenly he sees San Niang’s clothes on the road. He becomes frightened and feels a sword touching his skin from the back. However, he is relieved that it is not a sabre. But he turns pale again when the man chides him for being so thick skinned to use Tian Yu’s money to open Wan Ma Tang.

How does he know the secret? The man even knows that he is the only person who grabs the riches. Only one other person knows about it. However, Ma has guessed his origin and blackmails him instead. Ma sneaks a chance to injure his rib but the man suddenly throws a dagger at him. Ma’s shoulder is injured but runs after him. The man knocks into Hong Xue on the way and informs him about Ma’s presence.

He tells Hong Xue that Ma is Hong Xue’s enemy and also his enemy. So Hong Xue can’t believe whatever he says. This is his fatal mistake – Hong Xue wants him to repeat his words. The man says ‘chou ren’ – enemy again. Hogn Xue recalls San Niang’s words and his pale face turns red in anger. He challenges the man to take out his dagger. The man relents and Hong Xue’s sabre is at his throat.

The man lies that he kills Cui Nong because she is Ma’s daughter. She is Fang Ling’s half-sister. That is why she betrays San Niang and Zai Tian but she is loyal to Wan Ma Tang. Hong Xue is too shocked and the man flees after pretending to remove the cloth from his face. However, the dagger misses Hong Xue and he keeps it in his hand. The man drops a golden pendant and Hong Xue exchanges it for money.

A man, Nangong Qing comes to ask Hong Xue where he found the pendant. He happens to pass the pawnshop and sees it. He has given it to his friend and he is sure he will not give it away. This is the wedding present that he prepared for his younger sister.

He tells Qing to get another husband for his sister. Qing then recognizes the sabre and challenges him. He aims to pierce him in vain and gets hit badly. All must watch this scene. At first, Hong Xue only hits him with his sabre still in the cover. But he refuses to admit defeat and sneers at him for being an illegible son. He has no right to seek revenge since Bai Yu doesn’t acknowledge him.

Hong Xue gets angry and cuts his ear. The man gets so frightened and admits defeat. All dare not look down on him although he limps. Hong Xue returns to the pawnshop with the pendant. He laughs when the owner mistakens him as a robber to give him all the money he has in the shop! He has a shock upon knowing the future bridegroom’s name – he is Ling Zhong! Suddenly, everything turns as clear as crystal.

Ma gets onto the rooftop of a big mansion and tells one that he is one of the Mei Hua acquaintances. The person chides him for not keeping his promise. Both have not wanted to see each other after the ordeal but Ma points out that he breaks the promise first. If not for him wanting to kill him first, he will not be here. He has heard that Ling Zhong is the most capable among the 3 brothers. He not only learns all the skills and even knows the dagger skill.

The person is silent. The person has taken 2 things on the fateful day – one of them is the dagger. Although Li is famous, not many get to see him. Only the person can make imitations of the dagger. But his skills are still not good so he can live till now. The person suddenly turns harsh – is Hong Xue so capable to cause the downfall of his ranch? Ma replies that his skills are not inferior to a young Tian Yu. The person guesses that Tian Yu has passed his Shen Dao skill to Bai Feng and is jealous.

Ma lies Ling Zhong is no match for Ye Kai and he dies in his hands. The person says that Hong Xue might not find his way but Ye Kai is coming to get married to Ling Lin soon. Ma laughs and says why the person is giving the consent since nobody gives in when younger. He suddenly collapses after drinking wine from the table. San Niang kills herself as she believes that Hong Xue can take care of himself now.

Hong Xue, Xiao Jia and Ye Kai come to Ding mansion. Ling He and Ling Zhong attack Hong Xue with 81 strokes with their swords. Xiao Jia and Ye Kai sense that the inventor doesn’t wish to give Hong Xue the chance to get his weapon out of the cover. The person must have hated Tian Yu very much. Ye Kai deduces that the person must have seen Tian Yu display his skills to know him so well. They see that the two display the skills again after the 81 strokes.

Most probably they even spar with each other outside the nunnery. Can he be Ding? Ling Lin’s face turns completely pale. Hong Xue seems helpless but the two have no intention to help him because he doesn’t want it. Suddenly, Ling He’s chest has a sabre wound. Xiao Jia laments that Ding family’s 81 strokes is nothing compared to Bai’s one stroke. Hong Xue has found out that Ling Zhong killed Xue Bin. The poison that he drinks has the same poison on the dagger that killed Cui Nong.

Ye Kai doesn’t mind Ling Zhong for framing him but he should not have killed the child. He guesses the culprit should not say the sentence so Ling Zhong is sent to silence all. Hong Xue asks if it is Ding. Ling Zhong doesn’t answer – it is likely that Ding does it to seek for the rights of his younger sister. Xiao Jia denies it but Ding asks to see Hong Xue now. He also stops Hong Xue from killing Ling Zhong. He reveals that both are half brothers.

Ding admits to the killing but states that Ling He is injured while Ling Jia is handicapped because of Hong Xue. Ding’s future generations will seek him out then. Is it fair then? He hopes that their feud ends here. He wants to drink the poisoned wine but Ye Kai stops him. The truth is finally uncovered. He is not the killer as his right leg was injured. Till now, he hasn’t recovered and still walks with a limp.

The one who injured him is Wu Ming. It seems that both had a duel and started to admire each other’s skills. So Wu Ming imparted his skills to Xiao Jia and brought him up like his son. Bai Yun admits that Ling Zhong killed for her.

20 years ago, Ding’s sister, Bai Yun dislikes men as she thinks highly of herself. But she falls in love hopelessly for Tian Yu. She even believes that he will forsake everything to be with her so she sleeps with him. But he is a womanizer and has slept with many women. One of them is the cult’s princess, Hua Bai Feng. She gives birth to Hong Xue later. Bai Yun is pregnant and Tian Yu has forgotten her.

However, she is unmarried and Ding has to cover the shame. She gives birth to Ling Zhong. Ding’s wife also gives birth at the same time. He tearfully gives away his own son, Xiao Jia to Wu Ming while Ling Zhong stays to be his third son. In this way, Bai Yun can get to see her son often. Even Ling Zhong doesn’t know this secret. Xiao Jia knows it because he is the third son being given away.

Ding has missed his own son as he has not met him and that is why he is so overjoyed to see Xiao Jia. Xiao Jia already knows his identity so both finally acknowledge openly. Ding has wanted to tell Ling Zhong his parentage. But upon seeing how close the three brothers are to each other, he decides against it. Bai Yun collaborates with Kong Qun to kill Tian Yu and his family.

The flying dagger Lee has given one dagger to Tian Yu. Bai Yun manages to pass the skill to Ling Zhong. In a rage with Tian Yu for ditching her, she disfigures herself with 77 scars. Each scar signifies a day that he stayed with her. She says that Bai Feng is equally torturing herself too. Sure indeed, Hong Xue understands her because Bai Feng stays in a black home and dresses in black too.

Bai Yun has a husky voice now too. Not because she says something wrong but her voice is as beautiful as her face. It is too obvious as an answer to all. Ling Zhong is obedient to follow her instructions. So Ling Zhong is the real killer of Cui Nong. However, why hasn’t Hong Xue mastered the dagger skill? That is because he is only Bai Feng’s adopted son – her real son is Ye Kai! However, to be fair to him, she imparts Tian Yu’s sabre skills to reduce her guilt. Bai Feng has left Ye Kai to Lee Xun Huan to pass the skill to Ye Kai. He is brought up believing that being forgiving can solve the feud.

Bai Yun brings Kong Qun out and says that she has poisoned his mind to be a retarded person. But Kong Qun strikes at her and tries to escape. He has not drunk the wine at all. But no one expects him to die in Bai Yun’s hands. She also kills herself and is content when Ling Zhong finally addresses her as ‘mother’. She asks Hong Xue whether the feud ends with her death and Hong Xue nods. Fang Ling buries Kong Qun. She is unable to forgive the Dings for killing her father. Ling Jia still loves her and is willing to retreat into the wilds with her. Feeling touched, both are finally together.

Hong Xue is devastated upon knowing the truth. Losing his love is bad enough. Why is he being made used of as a killing machine? Hong Xue has a duel with Xiao Jia and Wu Ming is the judge. Xiao Jia loses again. Hong Xue returns to Bai Feng and is upset to know that she is only treating him as pawn for revenge. She has never considered him as her son. But when he turns away, she starts to melt. He leaves, feeling very dejected after losing his love. (Those who pity him should watch ‘The moon and the sabre’ as he has a happier ending in there after finding his love.)

Actual story in novel

Ling Zhong is too shocked to accept the news that he stabs Xiao Jia. However, Wu Ming saves him. Bai Yun tries to poison herself to death after tricking Kong Qun to drink the wine. However, Ding changed the wine beforehand and thus she survives. So does Kong Qun, who pretends to be retarded. But Ye Kai forgives both of them. The most innocent parties are Hong Xue and Bai Feng.

Mrs Bai knows of the affair long ago but she doesn’t want a Bai member to be incompetent. She is scheming but not wicked. She exchanges Hong Xue with Ye Kai at birth – Bai Feng doesn’t even know it because she was in labour then. She then sends Ye Kai to be adopted by her friend. But knowing that her friend’s skills are mediocre, she requests Xun Huan to impart his skills. She feels remorseful. He agrees to it while Mrs Ye reveals his parentage to him since young.

Wu Ming admits defeat. He is too proud of himself and is never as forgiving as Ye Kai. Bai Yun decides to live on – since Bai Feng can stay with her adopted son, why can’t she? Actually, Bai Feng is more pitiful than her for not being with her real son for 20 years. It is not explained where Fang Ling went after ditching Ling Jia and what happens to Ling Jia in the end. She is still as vicious as ever. Did Gu Long forget about her? I still prefer the serial’s arrangement.

Introduction on characters

1. Fu Hong Xue – Ng Doi Yong
He walks with a limp and carries a black sabre with him. However, all do not dare to look down on his man because he is highly skilled. He often kills his opponent with a stroke. Being brought up by Bai Feng to seek revenge, he is very unfeeling and revenge is only in his heart. He is very proud to be Tian Yu’s son and the harsh truth gives him a hard blow. Even more than Cui Nong’s death. However, he can be very gullible to think that Ye Kai killed Cui Nong. He still lacks experience in the pugilistic world.

Doi Yong fits into the role in top form. Looking pale and cool in black, he sends a chill down your spine even while he smiles. Some comment that he tries to look old despite his youthful looks but I think that he has managed to bring out the character’s aloofness and loneliness. It is also not easy to act like someone who has seizures but he does it so real. Thumbs up for his acting!

2. Ye Kai – Cheung Siu Fai
He is the flying dagger Lee’s successor. Unlike Hong Xue, he is cheerful and talkative. Being skilful, he believes in love and not hatred. Although he knows his parentage all along, he never wishes to find out the truth. Even though he and Hong Xue are not real brothers, both become as close as real siblings.

I don’t find Siu Fai good in here. He seems too expressionless, serious and bored for many scenes – looks like he isn’t interested in this role at all. I wonder why? Do watch Lau Chung Yan’s version in ‘The condor flies in September’. Siu Fai seems overshadowed by the weapon but Chung Yan is the reverse.

3. Ding Ling Jia – Oi Wai
He is the second son of the Ding family. He is very obedient and seems that he doesn’t have a mind of his own. He often gives in to his father. That is why Fang Ling can’t accept him although she likes him. To help her, he sacrifices one arm for nothing! But instead of hating her for his ordeal, he still misses her. After knowing that she cannot face his family that kills her father, he decides to give up everything to be with her.

This actor is quite good in acting. Although this is a supporting role, he still does it well. The scene when he sits and cries alone in the forest is so heartbreaking – many will sympathize him for suffering so much.

4. Ding Ling Zhong – Ng Kai Ming
He is the third son of the Ding family. He is skilful, ruthless and also spoilt. However, he treats all his siblings well and is especially close to Ling Jia. He is actually a pitiful pawn for revenge. He kills under Bai Yun’s instructions without knowing why. After knowing the truth, he is so upset.

We know that Kai Ming resembles Kai Wah in looks. But many don’t feel his presence as Kai Wah steals all the limelight. However, his acting as a villain is very memorable. You can find and see the evil twinkle in his eyes even when he covers his face. It is a pity that he leaves show buzz. He is really a fine actor in here – making you feel that Ling Zhong is definitely a scum but sincere to his brothers.

5. Ding Ling He – Chan Wing Chun
He is the first son of the Ding family. However, it is not known why he decides to become a Taoist priest. Unlike his other brothers who love to spar with weapons, he prefers to play chess. But I don’t think he behaves like a priest as he often returns home. Being good-natured and mild tempered, he is an advisor to his younger siblings in solving their problems.

6. Ding – Chu Tiet Wo
He is a loving and yet strict father to all his children. Although he misses Xiao Jia, he doesn’t show it. He finds himself owing him too much as he is deprived of parental love from young. One scene is very memorable. He is so angry to see Ling Jia return with one arm missing that he sends Ling Zhong out to capture Fang Ling immediately. However, upon hearing Xiao Jia’s introduction when he comes with Ling Jia, he is so overjoyed. All along he keeps a straight face, but he can’t stop smiling and his eyes following him around. He is contented that his real son has grown up to be a righteous man.

He is also a caring elder brother. He knows of Bai Yun’s crime all along. To protect her, he keeps mum and tries to hide the secret even though Ling Lin presses him for an answer. He is willing to shoulder the blame for her to the extent of killing himself. Although he is sad that Bai Yun dies, he is still happy that Ling Lin has chosen a suitable man.

7. Lu Xiao Jia – Lee Kar Shing
He is Jing Wu Ming’s disciple and is skilful with the sword. He is very interested to spar with the number one sabre, Hong Xue. However, he has a heart of gold and treats everyone as friends. This is quite different from the novel as he is supposed to be cool.

8. Yuan Qing Feng – Au Sui Wai
A poor soul who dies for nothing. He is attracted to Fang Ling and is willing to do anything for her, going against his father’s advice. Once, Fang Ling falls into the sea and he gets so worried. I am so touched that he jumps into the sea to rescue her! However, it is upsetting to see him die on the wedding day. This man doesn’t deserve such a sad ending.

9. Ma Kong Qun – Chun Pui
He is called ‘3rd master’ after his two elder sworn brothers, Tian Yu and Tian Yong. He is ruthless to kill his sworn brothers. But he can stoop so low to enlist help from a woman to kill them. He is also so capable to forsake his loved ones when he is in trouble. He is also selfish. Marvelous acting from this veteran actor.

10. Gong Sun Duan – Chun Long
He is a very impatient man. When he first steps out, he doesn’t look like a housekeeper to me. He looks more like a butcher. But is there anything wrong with him loving Ma’s beautiful mistress? However, he could have closed his mouth instead of offending Hong Xue so as to stay alive longer.

11. Yun Zai Tian – Lee Sing Cheong
He is an ambitious man. Unfortunately, he is killed by Man Tian in the end by surprise as he trusted the wrong person. Very expressive acting as a villain.

12. Hua Man Tian – To Dai Yu
Equally attractive as Yun Zai Tian but he is greedier and more scheming than him. One will never expect such a fine-looking and humble man to be capable to create so many killings!

Dai Yu may not be confident of his periodic outlook but I find him very presentable in here. In fact, I really wish that he can replace Siu Fai as he has the attractive looks and also the air of a swordsman! It is such a pity to get him to be a villain in here.

13. Jing Wu Ming – Chan Tik Hak
He is proud and arrogant to be a well-known swordsman but he really treats Xiao Jia like his own son. He teaches him everything he knows.

14. Murong Ming Zhu – Fung Kok
He tries to throw his weight around because he is rich. He likes making a loud appearance with his 9 attendants. All of them wear dark purple costumes and hold long swords. His sword makes a difference as he places a BIG pearl at the handle to indicate his name. But soon, we will know how poor his skills are. Just some words from the other experts will make him retract from his sword.

15. Xiao Bie Li – Kwan Jing
He is a fortune teller that tells other people’s fates accurately. He becomes too famous and soon there is nowhere that he can hide. His past is a surprise. Unfortunately, he can tell his own fate and dies in the end.

16. Bai Tian Yu – Ko Hung
Only a camero performance but he looks so lustful and successful although the number of scenes combined is not enough to give an episode. He is very good – showing why Tian Yu has a way with the women. Not only good in winning their hearts but also breaking them in the next moment! But I am captivated by the scene where he's being killed. He is so formidable on screen and shows why he is feared by all. Short but memorable – this is what I call great acting!

17. Chen Cui Nong – Tse Ning
She is a courtesan who is quiet and proud. She is actually working under San Niang’s instructions to gather information for Hong Xue. Hong Xue looks down on her profession. She has tries so hard to please him and even sacrifices her life to protect him when he has a seizure attack. She is killed by a flying dagger and is content that she is forgiven.

Tse Ning is still wooden in the role. It seems that she can’t handle emotional scenes. Maybe it is good for all of us when she quit showbiz as she really can’t act.

18. Ding Ling Lin – Tsang Wah Sin
She is willful and stubborn because all her family members dote on her for being the only female and the youngest in the Ding family. She uses the rings on her as weapons. She often creates problems for Ye Kai too. This reminds me of Xiao Yan Zi in HZGG.

Wah Sin has overacted in many scenes. Ling Lin is already talkative. Moreover when she walks, the bells on her make a lot of noise to make her more irritating. I certainly detest this role although I can’t deny that she looks as pretty as always.

19. Mah Fang Ling – Leung Pui Ling
She is the elder daughter of Kong Qun. She is cunning and also eager for success, not willing to admit to failure. She is in love with Ye Kai but love turns to hatred when he doesn’t love her.

The way she tries to whip Hong Xue on the road with her horse whip shows how arrogant she is. The whip is actually a symbol of her father’s success but to Hong Xue, it is really nothing. The transition from love to hatred is convincing. I dislike her to be so reliant on others to seek revenge on Hong Xue. Especially when she uses her beauty to coax two men to kill Hong Xue for her – you will feel that she is no longer the innocent and kind person that we know as before. But in the end, you will be glad that she finally returns to her own self.

She is good as the unreasonable woman. But she can endure all kinds of hardship to seek revenge or to beg enemies to let go of her father. Leung proves why she is one of the better known actresses in the early 90s.

20. Shen San Niang – Ko Miu See
She is Kong Qun’s mistress but Kong Qun’s children still adore her and treat her like their late mother. She is very caring to them but they are taken aback upon knowing her actual identity. She is an agent planted at Kong Qun’s side to monitor his movements under Bai Feng’s commands. However, she stupidly falls for him. Many will feel sad over her fate.

21. Ding Bai Yun – Hu Mei Yee
She is initially a very arrogant woman who thinks that all should fall for her because of her beauty. Indeed she is but she is unable to keep Tian Yu near her. I remember the bed scene that she has with Tian Yu. After Tian Yu wakes up, he is adamant to return to his wife as he is truly devoted to her. He only treats other women as his playthings and he confesses this to her. Bai Yun is very revengeful and thus arranges the killing with Kong Qun’s help. She looks so demure in the first minute but can look so scheming in the next instant!

She hates her face from then on. It is this face that has caused her to be an unwed mother. So every night, she will use a knife to carve on her face, disfiguring herself. But she still wears a mask. All her nephews and niece only think that she sets very high expectations on men so that is why she is single. They never know that she has accumulated so much hatred in her heart.

This actress is outstanding. We’ve seen her as a vicious ‘Kum Far Grandmother’ or Dai Yi Si in 86HSDS. A pity that TVB let her leave. It is comforting to see her in a comeback in the ATV drama ‘Millions lights of Joy’. She is too good to be missed.

22. Hua Bai Feng – Ma Hoi Lun
Another woman ditched by Tian Yu. But unlike Bai Yun, she is grieved over his death. But she can be very ruthless. She is afraid that Ye Kai will be in danger if all gets to know his identity. So she adopts Hong Xue and acknowledges him as her own. She only makes use of him to fulfill her wish to dispose Tian Yu’s killers. I wonder – since she is so highly skilled, why not do it herself? Doesn’t she know that Hong Xue will have a relapse anytime and she can place his life in danger anytime? This is totally selfish!

Favourite character
Hua Man Tian. Why like an evil role? To survive in a harsh role and unsatisfied to be a sidekick, I can understand why he must do all the despicable acts. He is simply forced to do them.

Most hated character
Ma Kong Qun. He claims over his sworn brothers’ fortune by murdering them but has the cheek to say that he is seeking redress for them. And the way he kills for survival is really ruthless.

Stupidest character
Undoubtedly Yuan Qing Feng who believes everything that Fang Ling says. Another close second will be Ling Jia. He has explored the pugilistic world long enough. How can he not know Fang Ling’s identity? To think that Ling Lin has to tell him in the face?

Most intelligent character
Many will say that it is Ye Kai. But I feel Ma Kong Qun is the one. Why? Even Ye Kai is tricked by him!

Song
The song ‘There is still tomorrow’ is sung by Kwong Mei Wan. It is a very slow, sad song which is very touching. I like it very much. The background is music made from Chinese musical instruments which is agreeable to all. It should be in one of her many compilation albums. I just bought one at a sale at S$10 at a sale. The cover is dark purple in colour.

Comments
The scene where Kong Qun invites all into the ‘Wan Ma Tang’ (a million horse mansion in Chinese) should be grand and magnificent. But my friends and I feel that it looks more like a ‘Ci Tang’ (a canteen in Chinese). The red carpet and a few sedans aren’t enough to represent the mansion’s luxurious and grand position. The number of bodyguards and followers are few. The heroes who come belong to the category of having evil outlook.

I also feel that the enemy will find it very easy to seek revenge on this empty shell (direct translation from the Chinese saying.) Even easier than having a meal – is there a need to do any groundwork? The part where Hong Xue climbs into the mansion in humiliation is deemed unnecessary – this lowers his status. Ma’s 3 followers do all the talking for their master – that should not be how servants should behave.

One part is highly questionable as once we have seen how terrible the state his mansion is in, Ma is still so daring to invite ALL the heroes to his home? If they combine forces, they will kill him. And he is so open to ask them to stay overnight! He has been harping all night that someone among them is against him. If so, just find the culprit and kill him. Why make his own life so complicated?

The ghost cries at night are done too openly and daringly. If he can’t handle this, how can he handle any unforeseen attack from his hidden enemy? The most absurd part is all guests are treated as suspects and they are willing to stay??? Doesn’t this humiliate their high status? Or they are just curious?

The more I think or reflect, the more loopholes I find in the story. All the magnificent scenes in the novel become so shabby in the eyes of the audience. Maybe my mind is too complicated?

However, the fighting scenes are really good and cool. It seems that every martial art expert is given a nice weapon for representation. Hong Xue has a sabre, Ye Kai has flying daggers, Xiao Jia a sword, Ling Lin the bells and Fang Ling the horse whip. What more can I ask?

The supporting cast is very good. I find no faults and complaints. Lee Sing Cheong, Chu Tiet Wo and To Dai Yu are very outstanding in here. All should not miss their remarkable performances. My only complaint is Sing Cheong and Dai Yu’s appearances are too few! Even Kai Ming shines too. All the actors are impressive but I don’t really like Xiao Jia to turn out to be a cheeky fellow. He should be a serious person who is wise – not a hooligan-like man who often cracks jokes. His master is the no-nonsense kind – how can he allow his playful disciple to learn his serious skills from him?

As for the actresses, they are pretty but I am a bit disappointed as they can do better. Only the 3 veteran actresses as Tian Yu’s mistresses prove that they can act – especially Bai Yun and Tao Hua! They really show why they hate him so much.

Conclusion

Reading Gu Long’s novels require a lot of patience. He likes to create confusing dialogues or beat round the bush. Many will make you giddy but when the serials simplify them, you will start to feel that something is lacking. There is no exception for this one. Too many twists and turns and you will get lost in the maze if you don’t follow closely.

However, the ending is quite unexpected. All along, we have been looking at how all try to seek revenge. Hong Xue for Tian Yu, Tian Yu’s mistresses for themselves or Fang Ling for Ma. No one expects the real victim/successor to be Ye Kai. But I marvel at how wicked Tian Yu’s mistresses are. Blame on him for being involved with so many women. If not, the tragedy could have been avoided.

It manages to retain most parts of the novel and the personalities of the characters are still close. On the whole, the story isn’t that confusing if it is enjoyable to you. If given the choice, I will still watch it again.

Sukting's Ratings :

On acting : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)

On story : *** 1/2(Scale of 5)


Add your own review and become a featured critic on spcnet.tv!

Or, add your comments below:





Advertise on SPCNET.TV


Buy DVDs
The Black Sabre

Shop Asian Fashion at YesStyle