The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber


Reviewed by: XWingSuki

February 24, 2010

Rating: three

Review

I did not hesitate to purchase this drama on its release formerly due to its affordable price and also as it is another of Zhang Ji Zhong’s productions. I enjoyed watching his previous productions ROCH and TLBB. However, I was initially quite disappointed with the casting, although it grew on me as I continued to watch the series.

The series follows true to the newly modified version of Jin Yong’s HSDS. However, there are a number of significant differences as it starts with Zhang Sanfeng’s story without Guo Xiang’s presence, which explains to watchers the history of the “Jiuyang Zhenjing”, which the hero of the story, Zhang Wuji, eventually discovered and learned. Also, instead of Yin Susu, Zhang Wuji’s mother attacking Yu Daiyan for the Dragon Sabre in the beginning, it was Yin Yewang, Susu’s brother who was after the Saber. A distinct difference which proved Jin Yong’s change in the storyline was that instead of the secret of the Sabre and Sword being written in ink on loose cloth (as in Alec Su’s HSDS in 2003), it was carved on loose metal sheets.

The story

Zhang Wuji was mothered by Yin Susu, who was the daughter of the leader of the unorthodox sect Heavenly Eagle and fathered by the fifth hero of Wudang, Zhang Cuishan. Following a number of events lead to by the crippling of Yu Daiyan, the third hero of Wudang. Yin Susu’s brother injured Yu and Susu decided to hire a bodyguard service to send him back to Wudang, but near Wudang, a group of assassins in Wudang disguise crippled Yu in an attempt to obtain the location of the sabre. Yu’s crippling led to Zhang’s journey in search of revenge for Yu, and eventually he got to know Yin, but not long after that they were kidnapped by Golden Mane Lion King (Xie Sun), who wanted the sabre for revenge against his martial teacher, who is the main male villain in this story.

Eventually the three were washed onto an island during a shipwreck; and there Zhang married Yin and had a child, and later on the couple made amends with Xie as Yin had blinded him when he went berserk and tried to kill Zhang earlier on. Xie also became Zhang’s god brother and adopted Wuji as his godson; hence he named him Wuji after his toddler son, killed by his teacher Cheng Kun in an attempt to mess the entire Wulin world.

The rest of story tells about how Wuji materializes as a teenager after his parents’ suicide caused by his mother’s past misdeeds, the feud between the six orthodox sects and the Ming sect; Heavenly Eagle sect being a small extension of it only, whereby the six sects also wanted to obtain the location of the Dragon Saber and Xie, and also the truth behind the crippling of Yu; all of which were not resolved even with Zhang and Yin’s deaths.

Wuji was not expected to survive as a child as he had been poisoned and was then sent to the Ming sect’s miracle healer (shen yi), who refused to treat him as he wasn’t from the Ming sect at that time. As a child, he met Zhou Zhiruo, a boatman’s daughter who was sent by Zhang Sanfeng to Emei sect, the daughter of Yang Xiao of Ming’s sect, Yang Buhui and Golden Flower Grandma’s disciple, his cousin Yin Li aka Zhu Er (Spider).

Wuji eventually managed to purge the poison in his body by the help of Jiuyang Zhenjing and later fate had it that he became head of the Ming sect. With his aid he was able to resolve the feud of the Ming sect and the other six main sects, at the same time being the top of the Wulin world with his diverse knowledge of martial arts, unsurpassable. However, he also won the love of four girls: Mongolian princess Zhao Min, Emei leader Zhou Zhiruo, Golden Flower Grandma’s daughter Xiaozhao and his cousin Yin Li. Who is his true destiny?

Casting:

Deng Chao as Zhang Wuji: In comparison to Alec Su, he pales in comparison, but if this portrayal is right to the novel, Zhang Wuji is supposed to be a confused and yet honest young leader. Deng Chao has the “blur” look pasted often on his face and one look tells the audience he is H-O-N-E-S-T. The only disadvantage is that with his plain looks, I doubt he would obtain the love of four women. I guess Deng looks better in modern drama. (3/5)

Ady An as Zhao Min: She looks the part, talks the part, and acts well too. No further discussion. I find her portrayal similar to Alyssa Chia’s portrayal, as both have big eyes and look very intelligent, both in speech and their body language. However, I liked Ady’s costumes better than Alyssa’s. (5/5)

Liu Jing as Zhou Zhiruo: Her makeup is very thick, and she doesn’t appear to look the right age. Zhou is much younger than Wuji and Zhao Min, but she looks older than them. She looks vicious all right, but she doesn’t have the kind and compassionate look that Zhou should have had in the beginning. Gao Yuanyuan is definitely better. (2/5)

Others
He Zhuo Yan as Xiaozhao: She definitely looks the part, as she has the pure, naïve and innocent look that Xiaozhao should have.
Lu Chen as Yang Buhui: She did well as the spoilt daughter of Yang Xiao who materializes into a mature lady when she fell in love with Yin Liting, who was betrothed to her mother. She is quite pretty and willful-looking.

Zhang Meng as Zhu Er: Her Zhu Er was completely different from Chen Zi Han’s. Chen Zi Han’s was purely pity, but Zhang Meng’s portrayal was a very cute Zhu Er, in addition to her pity. Instead of being accused of killing Zhu Jiuzhen as in HSDS 2003, she personally went to approach Zhu Jiuzhen to avenge Zeng Aniu.

Yang Xiao: According to the novel, Yang Xiao was a very handsome man whom stole Ji Xiaofu’s heart. None of the recent HSDS dramas I have seen have managed to accomplish this.

Loopholes

-What was with young Wuji and Zhu Jiuzhen’s relationship if their age gap was so wide? Why did she hate him so much when he was simply a kid?

-Why didn’t Wuji and Zhao Min leave for Ice-Fire Mountain in the end, and why did Zhou Zhiruo somewhat become their ‘best friend’ and keep teasing them by saying ‘you still owe me one promise’? What was the promise actually? Hence, a weird ending.


-Why didn’t Zhu Er’s father look her up in the end, like in HSDS 2003? Did she really go crazy? Why did everyone just leave her there?
-What exactly happened during Wuji’s kidnap?


Overall Comments

I rate this series a ‘not-bad’ especially when it’s by Zhang Ji Zhong, however the ending really confuses everyone “huh? It just ends like this?” It’s an open ending and it doesn’t even tell us what happened to the Ming sect after Wuji resigned his post or whether he married Zhao Min. I really enjoyed the fighting scenes, however the CG effects at Ice-Fire Mountain made it really obvious it was all computerized. Also, the scenes between Zhou Zhiruo and Zhang Wuji when he was going to marry her but realized at that time he really loved Zhao Min, were really draggy. Never expected Zhou Zhiruo to be so pushy with Wuji, and how she continued to try to get his concern by acting pitiful and weak: even Cheng Kun could see through it! The actress looked so annoying when she played that part. I thought Zhou Zhiruo was supposed to be strong, but she even acted so childishly!
However, I like how many confusing parts were explained with the help of Yellow-Robe girl (portrayed flawlessly by Liu Shi Shi). This drama is very expressive. However, I felt that there were too much talking in the first part of the series, until Wuji grew up.


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