The Arrogant Wanderer, the Invincible, and the Demoness

Reviewed by: sukting

May 16, 2004

Rating: four

How long/Year produced: 30 episodes done in year 1986 (can't remember the year clearly - will appreciate if someone can enlighten me)

Hua Gu Han - Yau Tin Lung
Tan Yu Chong - Lau Wan Fung
Liu Qing Yao - Ban Ban (Jing Ming in Ping Chung Hup Ying Luk)
Yu Shan Hu - Yuen King Dan ( Ah Keng in A Kindred Spirit)
Gen Zhao - Fat Liet
Gong Sun Qi - Wai Liet (a Liao general in Heroine of the Yang)
Gong Sun Yin - Cho Tak Wah (Hong Ming in Taiji Master)
Sang Bai Hong - Ding Ying
Sang Qing Hong - Tsui See Fei
He Lian Qing Bo/ He Lian Qing Yun - Chow Sau Lan (Seung Yee in TVB 1984's version of DOMD)
Qing Nong Yu - Lee Dan Dan
A full cast of unknowns but I like their acting. They really make it into a classic! All have left showbiz except Yeun King Dan and Wai Liet.

Introduction :
It is a translation from Leung Yu Shang's novel. The first time I borrowed the set from the library to read, I had a big shock. It has 8 thick volumes in a set! At first, I thought I would faint or feel bored in the midst of reading but this novel proved me very wrong. The plot can be confusing and yet interesting too. The same can be said for the serial. Although it has a full cast of unknowns, their performance is splendid

Gen Zhao is engaged to his cousin, Nong Yu and both are set to get married in the next year. However, tragedy strikes and Gen's family is killed. There is a dart on his father's body that resembles Nong Yu's usual weapon. He quarrels with her and leaves home. Nong Yu is devastated that her cousin doesn't believe her and she is forced to be a concubine of a Jin prince.

On his way, he befriends a woman, Liu Qing Yao. Liu Qing Yao is young, yet very highly-skilled. She is kind and intelligent. Except that she can be too blunt at times and gets herself into trouble. She saves Gen Zhao from being killed by an enemy who tries to seize the token of authority that commands an army. This is given to him by his late father. She analyzes his family's death and concludes that his father, a general, is too highly-skilled to be killed by his niece. Moreover, there is poison on the dart while Nong Yu has never used poison. Gen Zao is remorseful but he cannot find her when he returns home. She is already married and he is very saddened by the bad news.

Shan Hu is another poor fugitive being pursued by a group of killers (Please forgive me as I have forgotten the reason). Her father's killer even organises a rally where Qing Yao's senior, Qi, is the leader. He maintains that the killer is innocent and even injures Shan Hu. All along, Qing Yao is very close to her master, Yin, but her ambitious senior breaks Yin's heart by being too power-hungry. For the sake of mastering better skills, he even marries an evil sect's daughter, Bai Hong. That is not all -- she is 15 years older than him! Yin is so upset that he becomes ill. Qing Yao comes in search of him, hoping that Qi will change his mind. Qi refuses and Qing Yao leaves angrily with the injured Shan Hu.

Gu Han sees Qing Yao on the way. He is a humorous man whose iron fan weapon is feared by many. Like Dan Feng, he always dresses himself in a white gown. He enjoys stealing from the rich to help the poor and settling disputes with his wits. After this, he enjoys using his fan and leave words on the wall before he leaves. That is why the commoners call him the 'arrogant wanderer' as he doesn't mind having people look for him to seek their revenge!

He does not understand himself but he enjoys making fun of her. Qing Yao gets so mad with him for stealing her hairpin every now and then but she can't beat him in skills. She also befriends Yu Chong, who is of Liao loyalty. A complete opposite of Gu Han, he is quiet and he plays the flute well. The flute is also his weapon. He is considered the most highly skilled pugilist among the Liaos. Thus he is named 'The Invincible'. He is not that expressive as Gu Han. He talks little and always pleases Qing Yao with the love pieces that he has written specially for her.

Both men like her but keep their feelings to themselves as she is still very young and doesn't know how to read their thoughts. Both are eager to meet the other man after knowing each other's reputation to have a spar together.

After a few years, Yin has put all hopes on his son and imparts all his skills to Qing Yao. All along, he is hoping that Qing Yao will become his daughter-in-law. But since this wish cannot be granted, he treats her like a daughter instead. Qing Yao becomes a powerful ganglord and is well-known as the 'demoness' for her ruthless style in killing the evil. Shan Hu becomes her good helper in managing the gang.

Gen Zao becomes a general but he still maintains a close friendship with Qing Yao whom he regards as an elder sister. One day, his army food reserves are stolen by Qi's man, Meng Zao. Shan Hu is shocked to know that the man she always loves along -- Meng Zao -- is doing is that so she breaks all ties with him.

Knowing that her senior is evil, Qing Yao confronts him with Gen Zao. Qi is stunned by her beauty and starts to blame himself for not noticing her when she is young. When comparing Bai Hong with her, he begins to detest his wife more and more. AND seeing her with Gen Zao together is enough to make him jealous. He reveals his feelings to Qing Yao only to get rejected in the end. She tells him to be faithful to his wife. In a rage, he secretly injures Gen Zao and wants him to die a slow and painful death.

Luckily for Gen Zao, he is saved by Bai Hong's sister, Qing Hong. She has all along known her evil brother-in-law's intention to learn her sect's skills. In order to spite him, she locks Gen Zao in the dungeon and Gen Zao has no choice but to follow the methods inscribed on the wall in order to save himself. In this process, she falls for him -- also to get rejected as he only loves Nong Yu. Moreover, he is saddened by the fact that he comes from a well-known pugilistic family and yet he learns the evil skills. Luckily, Yin knows about this and imparts his skills to him to curb the side effects. While treating him, he thinks of his own son and knows that Qi is too deep in learning evil skills and most likely he is unable to live for long.

True indeed, Qi is now feeling terrible after mastering the evil skills for a few years. He is alarmed to learn from Bai Hong that his father-in-law died in a horrible way due to the evil skills. He starts to feel panicky as the pain is becoming unbearable. In one of the attacks, he loses his senses and tries to rape Qing Yao. Qing Yao dodges him with her new skills and escapes. Qi is growing with rage and jealousy in seeing her displaying the skills with makes her at par with his standard. He starts to blame Yin for being so impartial to impart skills to outsiders and not to his own son. And also chiding himself for looking down on his own sect's skills. Unknown to him, Yin only invented the skills after Qi leaves home.

Qi starts to keep a mistress. This woman, Qing Bo, is not ordinary as she can help him in his career. She is an adopted daughter of a Jin prince. Qing Bo is a vicious woman who is the one always coming up with evil plots to control the Song dynasty. She is notoriously known as the 'beautiful vixen' as she is pretty as well. Knowing that Qi is sick of his wife, she instigates him to poison her to death to get the pugilistic manual. Qing Hong grieves over her sister's death but in order to seek revenge, she keeps quiet. She pretends to be as gullible as before and helps him master the skills in the manual. In fact, she gives him all the wrong facts to push him nearer to the door of death.

Gu Han and Yu Chong's reputation are well-spread far and wide. They are becoming too well-known that people give them no peace. Gu Han still has an enjoyable life travelling around the world. Yu Chong is regarded a thorn in the flesh by the King as he is very intelligent and highly-skilled. Afraid that Yu Chong will seize his throne, he instigates killers to pursue him. Some respect him and try to avoid him while some are evil and always appear in groups for ambushes with poisons and traps. With his wits, he manages to dodge all attacks and escapes. He comes to the Song country and becomes very haggard as he is very upset to leave his country. Both men meet up and become good friends after a spar.

Gu Han is delighted to see Qing Yao again. Qing Yao finally knows that he is the one who helped her in secret in saving Shan Hu the other time. She starts to have a better impression of him. After that, she meets Yu Chong. Yu Chong plays a music piece for her on the flute, revealing his feelings towards her. Qing Yao is confused over who she likes. Gu Han and Yu Chong finally know that both are love rivals but their friendship bond remains strong. They agree to let Qing Yao choose.

Qi instigates Meng Zao to drug Shan Hu and rapes her. He thinks that Shan Hu will give in and help in building his reputation in persuading Qing Yao to help him. Well, he is totally wrong. Shan Hu has loved Gen Zao secretly and after the ordeal, she kills Meng Zao, causing Qi to lose a good henchman. She tries to drown herself but later calms herself after Gen Zao's consolation. Nong Yu is unhappy after her marriage and dies after stealing the Jin army map for Gen Zao. Gen Zao is devastated over her death and later accepts Shan Hu. Qing Hong is furious that her love is rejected and she finally plans a sad fate for herself.

Qing Yao notices Qing Bo eyeing on her food reserves and they come to blows. Knowing that she is very crafty, she commands her subordinates to be on guard at all times. Qing Bo tries all sorts of ways -- poisoning, burning and even stealing but to no avail. She meets up with her younger sister, Qing Yun, who is also Yu Chong's junior. She has a wooden flute as a weapon which is different from Yu Chong's jade flute. Qing Yun is kind-hearted and sweet. Both sisters are of Liao loyalty and, of course, Qing Yun is unhappy with her working for the Jins. Qing Bo refuses to heed Qing Yun's advice and makes her very upset. Both have a big quarrel and Qing Yun leaves.

Qing Yao meets Qing Yun. Thinking that she is Qing Bo, she fights with her but she stops after realising that her skills are completely different and yet similar to Yu Chong's skills. She brings her to him and both get along well. Qing Yun begins to like Yu Chong but keeps her feelings under wraps when she notices that Yu Chong always blows the music pieces that Qing Yao likes. She guesses that he likes Qing Yao but she still keeps him company.

At this time, Qing Yao decides that Gu Han is more suitable for her as both of them belong to the same country and she also knows that Qing Yun likes Yu Chong. She decides to pair them together. Yu Chong senses her decision although she does not tell him anything and becomes ill. He has been tired and feeling sick after a long journey. Moreover, the Liao soldiers have not let him rest a single day after his departure from the Liao state. They have been pursuing him all along and he has been putting up a forced front in order not to worry his friends. But after knowing Qing Yao's decision, the setback is too much for him to bear and he falls critically ill. Qing Yun is very upset upon seeing him still playing the music by the beach although he is unwell.

One day, Yu Chong is having a good nap when his enemies appear again. Qing Yun lures them far so as not to disturb his rest. However, she has a hard time dealing with them. But Yu Chong still awakens as he is alert at all times and finds her fending away his enemies by herself. Although he is unwell, he comes to her rescue and both make a remarkable pair that scare all of them away for good. Under her tender care, he is nursed back to health. He is touched and accepts her in the end.

Qing Bo sneaks into Qing Yao's place and pretends to be Qing Yun. She gets caught by Qing Yao but Qing Yao's food reserves get into her hands. And this time, her plan backfired. Qing Yao gets Qing Yun to pretend to be Qing Bo to be a spy. Qing Yun agrees to it. Worrying over her safety, Yu Chong disguises himself as a guard to protect her in the Jin palace. However, their plot is discovered and both escape. Why? Qing Yun is uneasy and is different from the usual sexy vixen in Qi's eyes. Qing Yao demands an exchange for the food reserves and the Jin prince agrees to it. Qi is in charge of the exchange. I can't remember the exact details how it happens but both sides have a duel. Qi ends up killing Qing Bo accidentally. Qing Yun is very upset over her death and Yu Chong tries her best to comfort her.

As for Gu Han, this man is often disappearing and Qing Yao doesn't have a chance to tell him about her feelings. She enjoys getting the little gifts and love letters that he often sends her. Actually, Gu Han is afraid of facing her of being possibly rejected. He doesn't know that she has chosen him.

Until one day, Qi invites Qing Yao out for a drink, which is poisoned, and she manages to spit the wine out on time. However, she is still poisoned but Gu Han manages to save her. He transfers the poison into his own body. Knowing that he will be in a state of madness soon, he quietly leaves. And sure indeed, in a few days, Gu Han is no longer the handsome man that all used to know. He wears tattered clothes and doesn't shave himself.

Qing Yao manages to find him although he tries to hide from her. After examining his pulse, she brings him back to her master to seek a cure. All are amazed in the first second, he looks so haggard and in the next second after meeting Qing Yao, he is back to normal his self -- sitting handsomely in a sedan. Yin tries his best to save him as he feels remorseful over his son's act. The couple is very filial to him and knowing that he is lonely and they are orphans, they acknowledge him as their foster father. Yin is overjoyed in getting two children.

In order to seek her revenge, Qing Hong marries Qi. They have a son and Qi is dying. He finally knows that Qing Hong has tricked him. He tries to kill her right after his son's birth. Gen Zao and Shan Hu stop him in time and Qi dies of an inner attack. Qing Hong is too weak to survive but she dies peacefully in Gen Zao's arms before her last breath. She tells him that she wants the baby to carry her surname.

Gen Zao tells Yin the sad news. Yin is very upset over it and decides to devote to bringing up his grandchild but he insists that the child should carry his surname. Only his great grand children will carry separate surnames. Knowing that the old man is too grief stricken, Gen Zao does not insist on it. Gu Han and Qing Yao leave their careers to Shan Hu and Gen Zao to handle. They do not want Qi's child to end up like Qi. Yu Chong and Qing Yun roam the world and finally have a quiet moment to themselves.

After watching this serial, I realise that ATV can produce a masterpiece if they set their heart to do it! With a good script and the right people to play the roles, this should not be a problem. I adore the original story but I find it too long-winded. I'm actually glad that the producer omitted unimportant facts and characters as the plot is confusing enough. I hope readers will not get confused over the different characters after reading my review.

One thing I feel like asking Leung Yu Sang, though. He likes the word 'Qing' so much that I feel giddy after reading the novel. Some has the 3 extra strokes in the Chinese characters while others don't. One viewer has lamented luckily there are differences after all, otherwise, all of us will watch till our faces turn green in the end. Luckily in the serial, ATV picked quite a number of beauties to play the roles. Although most are unknowns, they have managed to do very well. I wonder why they didn't become popular as they deserve recognition after all the hard work?

Actually, I don't know why that although the main attention is on Gu Han and Qing Yao, I prefer the romance between Yu Chong and Qing Yun. Both are more reserved and with fewer scenes, their story managed to capture the audience more! Although there are more scenes between the former pair, I don't seem to remember them. Probably, they aren't romantic enough or there isn't enough chemistry among the two..

Comments on acting
I must say that most of them have done a wonderful job. Thumbs up for the actresses. Ban Ban is better in the later part of the serial. She isn't young enough to play a teenager at the beginning. With Yuen King Dan, Yuen is obviously so many years younger than her! Yuen is so pretty in a simple gown and two tiny plaits by the side of her hair. She plays a sensible, calm and strong woman well. Many will pity her role as Shan Hu after the rape ordeal. She jumps to the lake, crying her heart out that touches everyone.

Tsui See Fei and Lee Dan Dan are equally good although their scenes are limited. I heard Tsui was formally from TVB and thus her acting was quite good. Especially the determined look in her eyes in plotting her revenge could make everyone shiver just by looking into her eyes. Lee, on the other hand, plays an innocent/happy and later an unhappy person well too.

But who is the real actress that steals the show? She is definitely Chow Sau Lan! She is so pretty and convincing in her two roles here. I have seen serials of actresses playing twins but Chow does it in her unique way. Similar to Mai Shuet's role of Mei Nai in Taiji Master but her role of Qing Bo is definitely more vicious than Mei Nai. Many will marvel at how elegant she looks as a princess, not losing out to Mai Shuet. Her clothes are very colourful and pretty. The evil shine that she has in her eyes is so noticeable.

And how ordinary she is as Qing Yun in simple roughly ragged clothes. Yet she still shows an air of loyalty here. The way she portrays her love is so touching. Just look at how sad she is when seeing Yu Chong playing the flute is enough to melt our hearts. Both look so distant and lonely in the beach scene where the waves keep on splashing onto the shore. I like the scene where she tries to protect Yu Chong from danger. Both really look perfect as a wonderful pair when fending off the enemies with their flutes. So touching that no wonder he likes her in the end.

The same cannot be said for all the actors, though. Yau Tin Long stands out from the rest with his looks and agility. When he smiles, there are dimples on his face. He handles all the fighting scenes well. His acting is also good as Hua Gu Han. It is conveyed in the likeable way that Lau Chung Yan acts as Dan Feng too. I still wonder why he doesn't get popular after this serial. This is the only serial that I've ever seen him in here but he leaves such a deep impression in my mind.

As for Lau Wan Chung, he is also okay as Tan Yu Chong. Except that he looks too haggard acting as a fugitive which makes one wonder how his beautiful junior can fall for him in the first place. Wai Liet is good in his acting as the villain but his looks are a bit ordinary which falls out of expectations in the book. From this serial, we can see how lacking of good-looking and versatile actors are at ATV since the leaving of Ng Wai Kok and Ho Kar King.

The character I hate most isn't Wai Liet as Gong Sun Qi but Fat Liet as Gen Zao. ATV finds an ugly man for the role -- with bunny teeth and is short too! I can't bear the sight of seeing 3 beauties fuss over him. He is also a stupid man who doesn't make a good general too. I really don't know what they see in him -- he has no looks and no capability while the 3 are the opposite of him.

Don't miss it if you get the chance. Sometimes, ATV is capable of producing a masterpiece. 'Ping Chung' has proven to be a success so ATV tries this too. Although some artistes are a bit raw in their acting, I can overlook these minor details as the main cast has given their best. You will like the story and the fighting scenes, which are quite original and follow quite close to the novel.

sukting's Ratings:

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

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