There is a saying that if you want to watch martial arts dramas of the 70s and 80s, go for ATV productions. What actually went wrong as they are top notch in today's standard with no special effects? As you can see from the list below, they acted well and also their periodic looks also suited the parts. TVB's periodic dramas place emphasis on love relationships and the stances were only passable.
But for the ATV artistes, they had to sweat for their roles as the martial arts director, Cheng Siu Dong was demanding. Luckily, most had martial arts backgrounds and not deterred by this. They were just not lucky to get many viewers to appreciate their efforts as ATV was a weak station. Many became household names that are still fondly remembered now. Like TVB, Gu Long's novels were also adapted to shoot most dramas. Director Tsui Hark's wife, Madam See Nam Sang, signed the rights with Gu Long.
Most songs were sung by the late Cheng Kok Wing, Lee Long Gei and Kwan Jing Kit. Many were memorable till this day. Shooting was done by Siu Sang, Cheng Siu Dong, Tsui Siu Ming and Tsui Hark. Unfortunately, I had not watched almost half of the dramas as listed here but my parents and neighbours gave their strong recommendations. I hope to write the reviews one day if I manage to watch the dramas again. To me, they definitely surpassed TVB productions.
10. Third Master’s Sword《三少爺的劍》1977
It had 20 episodes. It was Gu Long's first novel translated into a drama by ATV. It was not considered successful as the story was not connected well.
However, the director was daring to get most graduates just out from the acting class. Those include Wan Tse Leung as the lead swordsman Tse Siu Fung who was also the owner of Divine Sword Mansion. Tsui Siu Keung acted as his rival Yin Sap Sam. Other supporting cast were Lau Ying Hung (as Muk Yong Chau Dik), Dong Piew, Eddie 艾迪 and Lo Yuen Yan. Song was by veteran actor, Leung Tin himself.
9. Seven Weapons《七武器》1977
Another adaptation from Gu Long's novel. It was about 7 weapons and it was weird that the last weapon was the fist. It is strange that I can't even find a photo online. There are 7 stories with 5 episodes in each – a total of 35 episodes. Applicable for viewers to watch if they like different stories.
Cast included Man Tse Leung, Mun Chin Sui, Kwan Wai Lun, Lee Ying, Lam Kam Tong, Ou Yeung Pui San, Kwok Fung, Poon Chi Mun, Leung Tin, Tam Wing Kit and Eddie.
8. Nu Kiem Ming《怒剑鸣》1979
It had 60 episodes on how a Han tried protecting his country from the Mongols. Actually parts were copied from Ming Kiem Fung Lau. Shot by Tsui Siu Ming, it had Poon Chi Mun wavering between three beauties – Choi Keng Fai, Yuen Pui Chan and Yung Wai Mun. Tsui gave Yuen a meat role although she just graduated from acting class then. The theme was done by Lee Long Kei. Chan Sau Mun’s husband, Lam Kok Hung had a supporting role in it.
7. Lovers Arrow 《情人箭》 1979
It had 10 episodes. It was about how Chin Mong Pak tries to seek revenge on those who cause his father’s death. His father is hit by a poisonous lover arrow and dies miserable when friends reject help and a physician refuses treatment as Mong Pak offends him.
Siu Sang was very badly affected when viewership was low. ATV later gave up shooting Gu Long dramas after this one. The cast included Lo Lok Lum, Lao Kong, Lao Wai Mun, Cai Keng Fai, Mun Suet Yee, Miu Hor Sau, Bak Yin, Lau Ying Hung, Miu Kam Fung, Yeung Chak Lam, Cheung Ying and Mun Chin Sui. It was Lo Lok Lum’s debut drama. Cheung Kok Wing sang the themesong.
6. It Takes a Thief《侠盗风流》 1979
ATV shot this drama to pit against TVB’s Chor Lau Heung. It was translated from the same novel but only had 8 episodes. They changed the names in the drama although the plot was the same. Cast included Poon Chi Mun as the fragrance thief, Cheung Ma Lei, Ngai Chau Wah, Yuen Pui Chin, Mun Suet Yee. Guest stars included Chun Pui, SitKar Yin, Ma Mun Yee, Yung Wai Mun, Man Tse Leung and See Ming. The themesong was by singer actress, Chan Sau Mun.
5. Story of the Three Kingdoms 《三國春秋》 1976
It had 20 episodes that took all to act. Even TVB was not daring enough to shoot a historical drama then. Applaud ATV’s effort for doing that. TVB’s present acting class teacher and actor, Chung King Fai was one of those helping in the script of this drama.
A fan emailed me to notify me that this drama was shot in 1979 and not 1980. It was a continuation of Reincarnated. Some did complain that Wan Dai Hup was not the lead but Siu Chi (Leung Siu Long). The storyline was exciting on the lotus sect, court struggles and Nam Gong family. Song was done by Kwan Jing Kit. It was later turned into a novel by Wong Ying.
3. The Spirit of the Sword 《浣花洗剑录》 1979
This drama totally changed the viewers’ perception of ATV. It was shot by Siu Sang. Mun Suet Yee and Cheung Kok Wing were paired up to act here. Mun Suet Yee is the little princess who often deceives Fong Bo Yuk(Cheung Kok Wiing). They part when young and he doesn’t know that she has changed evil. Their common enemy is the purple marquis
(Wong Wai). Wong Shu Kei acted as the child Bo Yuk. Lee Long Gei sang the theme song. Cheung also sang this song to include in his album.
All MUST know this drama – it tells the ups and downs of Swordsman Wan (Tsui Siu Keung). His path was extremely rocky to lose his skills entirely to master the Tin Can skill. He is the most miserable hero – to be unable to be with the women he loves (by Ma Mun Yee and Miu Hor Sau) and to watch his beloved ones die one by one. Novel was also by Wong Ying.
Many love Reincarnated but I adored this drama most. With marvelous fighting scenes with swift moves and compelling storyline, Mou Hap fans must have this drama in their collection. Tsui Siu Keung was in top form in this drama as Sam Sheng Yee. Novel was also by Wong Ying. Song was by Cheung Kok Wing.
Check out the Top 10 Martial Arts ATV Dramas of the 80s!