The Legend of Condor Heroes


Reviewed by: kissofnight

February 20, 2004

Rating: five

She Diao Ying Xiong Zhuan (aka Legend of the Condor Heroes)

Cast
Guo Jing: Li YaPeng
Huang Rong: Zhou Xun
Yang Kang: Zhou Jie
Mu Nian Ci: Shui Ling

Cast information & pictures can be found at http://www.spcnet.tv/china_lochintro.shtml

Background Information about the Review:
I have not watched the 83' production by TVB, so I'm reviewing this series on a level without any comparisons.

Onto the review: (SPOILER WARNING)

Story & Plotline: 10/10
In a lot of movies/series such as (American ones) "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "A Walk to Remember" and (Chinese ones) "Xiao Ao Jiang Hu" and "Huang Long Meng", the series *fidget* somewhat with the actual story. While some are rather faithful, others completely rewrite the story and leave watchers who've read the novel utterly confused. This adaption was cut out very well. Seeing the length of the series (42 disks, about 45 min each) many of the story's details are included, which gives the series a nicely-rounded feel.

Acting:
Guo Jing (played by Li Ya Peng): 10/10
I have watched many Li Ya Peng series/movies, etc. and I'm happily surprised at how well he fits the part as (of course) the "hero" -- but also how well he fakes the blank, dumb voice. While some complain that his voice was very fake, I personally think it was very realistic. I actually do know some retarded people and their voices have the same dull quality Li Ya Peng portrayed. His facial expressions were heartwarming, especially the part where he decides he will marry Hua Zhen use he already said he would -- his sadness and confusion and desperation were beautifully played out. While in the series he is not on par with the handsome Felix Wang (I haven't seen the 83 series but I've seen the pictures) his ingenuity and honesty and tenderness quickly allow you to make room for him (off-screen I find him rather dashingly attractive ^^). His on-screen chemistry with Huang Rong is absolutely astounding, especially how they seem to mold together. Sometimes I wonder if they are actually together off-screen. My only complaint is his outfit in Mongolia, where his hair is neatly tucked in behind his fur hat. While I liked that outfit very much, it makes Guo Jing look very "professional" next to his friends. I think the designers should have let him leave his hair loose and scraggly.

Huang Rong (played by Zhou Xun): 9/10
A spoiled, playful, energetic 16-year-old, Zhou Xun acted very well in her part. When doing tricks and joking around she has a sweet yet wicked look on her face that is *adorable*. Her voice is rather scratchy, however, but later you get used to it. When she pouts (which is often) and when she cries, Zhou Xun looks amazingly realistic. Some movies/series have females crying their hearts out every scene, wallowing in sorrow and looking like Opera singers whose mascara has run. However, when Zhou Xun cries she has a helpless look upon her face, and it's heart-wrenching. For instance, when Guo Jing is burying his teachers (the 5 weirdos that died on Peach Blossom Island) the way she hastily wipes away her tears is beautiful. One problem is her character's outfits -- on Peach Blossom Island, I believe, she was wearing a halter-top. I do not think in the Sun Dynasty there was something that even looked relatively *like* a halter-top. And finally, I only gave her a 9 because when she should be very angry at Guo Jing, she looks merely upset rather than *mad*. For instance, when the two are on a mountaintop and she tells him to "kill himself to prove that he's being honest" she stops him too fast. Her facial expressions were also not on par with her usual ones, her anger not thoroughly visible. Yet that was only one scene, and I'm just nitpicking. Other than that, she was great.

Yang Kang (played by Zhou Jie): 7/10
I have watched Zhou Jie in "Huan Zhu Ge Ge I & II", and more often than not he looks too desperate in his acting. He looks, to say bluntly, that he is ACTING rather than actually feeling. When he confronts his father (the prince of Jin Guo) after his mother tells him Yan Tie Xin is his actual biological father, he looks rather shifty -- distracted. His "yan sheng" or the way he looks at the screen has this unnatural quality to it. It's wavery and rather unnerving -- nothing like the charming, believing way Yang Kang should act and look. Of course, in the most shallow way, Zhou Jie has none of Yang Kang's handsomeness. His on-screen chemistry with Mu Nian Ci is also rather strained, though usually pretty good. Though he's got faults, Zhou Jie acted the "spoiled" and "tricky" part of Yang Kang very well. His cleverness in killing Ou Yang Ke and using it to get closer with Mu Nian Ci is perfectly played out. Don't get me wrong -- Zhou Jie is good at acting deceiving, but when he tries to be "emotional" and "heart-wrenching" his acting falls short.

Mu Nian Ci (played by Shui Ling): 8/10
Despite that I never actually liked her character (which is very gullible) in the first place, Shui Ling played Mu Nian Ci very well. She had all the beauty, the hesitation to believe Yang Kang, and the desperation set down very well. Why only an 8 then? Because she does not seem to fight Yang Kang at all. Mu Nian Ci, while very docile, still is very set in her morals -- yet after every argument Yang Kang can always win in a rather disgusting manner. It is true, Yang Kang does win about all the arguments in the book, but less easily than portrayed in the series. Also, by the time she runs off to be a nun, her acting is not as fresh as earlier in the series. However, she still is a very good actress and her performance made the whole series more enjoyable.

Supporting Characters: 10/10
Every single one of the supporting character were memorable. Of the 7 freaks (all acted out very nicely), I liked #2 best -- with his fan and ponytail he looked witty and jovial which was absolutely wonderful; #1 was also great: whether he is actually blind in life or not, he acted as a blind man wonderfully well. Mei Chao Feng was also very well acted out; even with her "wicked" practices the directors made her more than an evil character, but rather one with feelings and loyalties and a hidden sort of sweetness that was astounding. Zhou Bo Tong has probably got the be my favorite supporting actor. With his childlike mannerisms it was hard not to love him instantly; when he was talking to Ying Gu his nervousness was wonderfully realistic.

Presentation
Scenery: 10/10 The scenery was beautiful. The flora were all actually planted so its delicacy added a sweet touch to the scenes. The Mongolian plains look commanding and huge, dry and rocky; the aerial views were breathtaking. Though this may not be really "scenery" but the houses and the gardens were also very exquisite -- just what an imperial palace should look like. The commonplace streets were noisy and dirty and uber-realistic.

Music 10/10 Personally, I loved it. The first theme song added a punch and set you up for an action series, so you're all ready for adventure. The last song is more mellow and melancholy, leaving you with a wavering last note. The theme songs for Mei Chao Feng and the sweet pieces for Guo Jing and Huang Rong, Yang Kang and Mu Nian Ci are also lovely. The upbeat, lively theme for Zhou Bo Tong added more humor in the situation. All melodies were definitely crucial for the series. However, if you do not like traditional music, you most likely find the music to be extremely trying.

Fighting Sequences 9/10 Most were great. While I disliked how they showed the spiky sword slashes and smooth sword slashes for certain people, Mei Chao Feng's bone-fingers were very nice. I liked how the technology used to enhance fighting scenes were not too much, enhancing the scenes rather than changing them. The music in the scenes added a definite pounding beat, which was good. Of all the scenes, the only one I truly disliked was the showdown of the 7 disciples (not the 7 freaks) and Mei Chao Feng. That one was just too computerized. Many have complained of Guo Jing's 18 Dragon Palms to be "computerized" but personally I thought it wasn't all too bad.

Costumes: 7/10 While the more basic costumes such as Guo Jing's travel costume and Huang Rong's hobo costume were all very in-place, some costumes like Huang Rong's halter-top (as I mentioned earlier) were sickly. It's a pretty outfit, but not in place for the time period. However, some details I liked in the outfits were the fur hats of Jin Guo princes and the black veiled hat of Mu Nian Ci. Those were very theatrical and nice.

Other: I enjoyed how the armies looked big and commanding, rather than a jumble of computerized men on a hill. Also, the details added in this series truly made it an unforgettable adaption. One thing I did not particularly like was the way those who fell down cliffs had a sliding background as the two "falling" conversed - such as when Guo Jin and Huang Long fell on their way to see the Monk. Overall, this is one of my favorite Chinese series.

Conclusion
I give this series a 5 star rating as it was one of the most wonderful series I've seen in Chinese. Some Chinese series has a knack for upsetting me thoroughly (take Shen Chu or Magical Chef, for one), but this series was definitely a plus part of my life.


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