Andy Lau - Yeung Guo
Idy Chan Yuk Lin - Dragon Girl
Leung Kah Yan - Kwok Jing
Au Yeung Pui San - Wong Yung
Wong Yeuk Si - Tsang Kong
Everyone should be familiar with this popular Jin Yong story, which have been remade so many times, viewers tend to compare between each production. I caught this 1983 Return of the Condor Heroes (ROCH) series on cable and I was looking forward to watching it. Legend of the Condor Heroes (LOCH) 1982 was brilliantly done and I was expecting the same here.
I must stress that having also watched the 1995 series, which in my humble opinion was unforgettable and got me started on Jin Yong's other works, I had very high expectations of this series. The other reason being that this series was supposed to be a "classic".
The good things about this series first. Three people get my commendation in this series as I think they truly stood out above the rest. The first being Andy Lau as Yeung Guo. I thought he portrayed his role quite well: mischievous, bright, cheeky and finally, mature. If I hadn't caught this series, I wouldn't have thought Andy Lau could act in this kind of role.
The second person is the guy playing Chow Bak Tung. His funny gags kept me interested throughout the show, especially the part where he handed the bees with words on their wings to Wong Yung. The third person is Wong Yung, played by the beautiful Au Yeung Pui San. Her costumes in the show are the best and she gets generous amounts of costume changes in the show.
The other people who return to ROCH from LOCH like the 4 greats, Wong Yung's father (Tsang Kong), Yat Dang Tai Si, Hung 7 (Lau Dan) and Au Yeung Fung (Yeung Chak Lam) were also excellent in their limited amount of screen time. The fighting in this series is very good, old-fashioned fights.
Now onto the neutral points. Idy Chan was ok in her portrayal as Dragon Girl, sometimes overly nice, sometimes icy cold. I wish the writers of the script would be more consistent. She is not as beautiful as Carmen Lee Yeuk Tung in ROCH 1995 though.
Kwok Jing (Leung Kah Yan) could have done a better job. He has the looks and the acting ability but I feel that he over reacted at the scene when he found out about Hung 7 Gung's death and he wanted to destroy Au Yeung Fung's "ling pai".
Finally the bad points of this series. I was disappointed on their choice on Ching Ying and Kwok Seung. I feel that the girl who played Ching Ying did not convey the 'right' emotions and she looks as if she wanted to cry at every sentence she manage to speak aloud. The choice of Kwok Seung is slightly better, at least she can act more naturally but unfortunately, she seems a bit old for a 16 year old.
TVB seemed to put Dragon Girl in every scene they could with Yeung Guo since they thought they might as well use Idy Chan. The final battle scene in the show where Dragon Girl shows up to fight alongside Yeung Guo against the Golden Wheel Monk totally ruins it, but that could be because I watched the 95 version before this. I also did not like the bit where the Golden Wheel Monk died an honourable death by committing suicide because he is supposed to be indespicable.
The part where Yeung Guo decides to be sealed in the Ancient Tomb forever with Dragon Girl also gets my thumbs down. I mean, in this series, he only chose to be with Dragon Girl, not because he respected her as a teacher or loved her, but because he didn't want to see Kwok Jing and Wong Yung.
Two scenes got me confused. Kwok Jing had revealed the truth to Yeung Guo about his father in the cave when Yeung Guo wanted to kill Kwok Jing. After this, Yeung Guo seemed to believe Kwok Jing that his father, Yeung Hong, was a traitor and no one killed him but himself. But we see in the last few episodes, Yeung Guo went to the temple and asked his late father's old servants to tell him the truth about his father. That got me really confused.
All in all, this is an above average series and done quite well except for those scenes that I mentioned earlier. Because of my comparison to the more accurate 95 version, I will only give 3 stars.