The Legend of the Condor Heroes

Reviewed by: saranghaeyo

July 26, 2008

Rating: five

"The Legend of the Condor Heroes" can be considered the most "epic" out of all of Jin Yong's works not only because it is the one most people are familiar with, but it also marks the beginning of a legendary trilogy - “The Condor Trilogy”. The story revolves around a gullible but noble protagonist, Guo Jing, his witty and sassy partner, Huang Rong, and their various adventures in the world known as the “Jiang Hu.”

The first time I saw LOCH was the 1983 TVB adaptation starring Barbara Yung and Felix Wong. When I finished this 2008 China version of LOCH, I couldn’t help but compare the two versions. The result was: I couldn’t figure out a favorite one!
So please stay with me while I give my 2 cents.

Warning: Spoilers

Main Characters:

Hu Ge as Guo Jing (5/5)- I was extremely impressed with Hu Ge in this role. He portrayed the role of a naïve, gullible, sometimes stupid (but very cute) protagonist very well. Hu Ge embodied MY vision of Guo Jing with his stumbled/naive and honest way of speaking, the sincerity in his eyes when he speaks to his friends and teachers, and the variety of expressions on his face. I was impressed with how Hu Ge was able to portray Guo Jing’s growth and maturation from naïve to experienced in the last 7-8 episodes. I must admit, throughout times I was annoyed with the dumbness of Guo Jing when dealing with his no-good-brother Yang Kang, but when he “grew” from the loss of his teachers, possibly Huang Rong, and his mother, I fell in love with this man.

Ariel Lin as Huang Rong (5/5)- I have to admit. When I looked at the poster for this series and saw Ariel Lin, my heart died. From seeing 3 episodes of “It Started with a Kiss” where Ariel acted as a stupid F student with almost no common sense, I did NOT think that Ariel Lin could pull off the role of a witty, sassy, and adventurous Jin Yong heroine. However, the moment I saw her acting and her interactions with each of the characters on screen, she immediately earned my respect. She was the Huang Rong I had envisioned! I have always loved Barbara Yung’s version of Huang Rong, but now I can’t pick a favorite one! She portrayed a witty, sassy, adventurous, and quick-tempered young girl perfectly while bringing out the romantic emotions and feelings Huang Rong harbors for Guo Jing. There were countless times where I teared up because of Huang Rong’s famous, “if you die, I’ll die too. We’ll die together” line during times of distress. I really respect Ariel Lin's versatility as an actress from this show.

Yuan Hong as Yang Kang (4.5/5)- He is a good looking actor with sharp and sculpted facial features perfect for depicting a charming, clever, yet cruel person. His infamous “evil look” (think of his eyes and his smirk) was very convincing as Yang Kang is a very calculating person. There were times where I hated him, absolutely abhorred this man who dishonored his dead parents, betrayed the woman who loves him, betrayed the sworn brother who cares deeply for him, and killed/tried to kill countless innocent people. But at the end, where Yang Kang realized his faults and changed for good, I was so glad but at the same time, very sad, because I know he’s going to die anyways. He is probably one of the most complex and developed characters in this show. The only reason I’d take off .5 for his rating is because of the “over development” of Yang Kang’s story. I feel like Yang Kang’s story was more developed than the main male lead's! How does that work out?! Also, I was slightly irritated when Yang Kang’s death was prolonged to the very last episode.

Liu Shi Shi as Mu Nian Ci (3/5)-
As good as the actress is, I just don't like Nian Ci as a character. Imo she's meek, weak, and too dependent on Yang Kang to make her happy. I guess I'm more of "Huang Rong" type of girl. :) Honestly, I really really really dislike the 2008 version of Nian Ci. She's so stupid. Dumb. No common sense. Blinded by love. I always end up wanting to fast forward whenever it shows her. She cries too much. She mopes too much. She's so dependent on Yang Kang that she's blind to his betrayals and lies. I hate girls like that. Stupid. Stupid Stupid. Also, my impression of her got 100x worse when she helped in killing Oh Yang Ke, whom I really love as a character in this series. Then with OHK’s dead body less than 5 feet away, she did the deed with Yang Kang! What in the world? I find that immensely disturbing.

Li Jie as Oh Yang Ke (5/5) –
The 2008 version of Oh Yang Ke stole the show for me. He's charismatic, handsome, witty, and is extremely gifted martial art wise. This series gave him a good, soft side when it portrayed him actually falling for Nian Ci. This series also gave him more "flesh and blood" and emotions and therefore made him more human. I actually feel so sad for him and his upbringing without familial love and care...and his desire of attention and some form of affection from his "uncle", Oh Yang Feng was just plain heartbreaking. It was so good to see him smile a GENUINE smile (not a smirk) when Oh Yang Feng treated him somewhat like a son on that island. I cried for him when he realizes that Nian Ci had tricked him and he knew that he was going to die (that was also the moment I decided that I hated Nian Ci and Yang Kang). Li Jie is an amazing actor. His expressions and acting blew me away. This is my dream Oh Yang Ke- evil, but with a soft place in his heart. I seriously disliked the 1983 version of Oh Yang Ke. That version made OYK into a pervert. But the 2008 version is just perfect.

Guo Liang as Wan Yan Hong Lie (5/5)-
I thought I’d hate this man because he tore apart the Guo’s and Yang’s, but I realized I couldn’t. Guo Liang is simply amazing. Amazing. There’s so much to say about him but the most important thing is that he impressed me with his love for his son and Xi Ruo even though she doesn’t love him. He is very merciful and forgiving even though sometimes his desire for other things temporarily blinds him (such as Wu Mu Yi Shu). When he died, his last words to Guo Jing and Yang Kang branded forever on my mind- “One of you is risking your life for the Mongolians, and the other is a traitor to everyone and himself. Only I am dying for my heritage, the Jin.”

Anthony Wong as Huang Yao Shi (4.5/5)-
The 2008 version is a very, very different “Eastern Devil” from the 1983 TVB version. Huang Yao Shi is known for his strangeness, hatred of strangers, hatred of ANYTHING polite and well-mannered b/c he considers all formalities fake. The 1983 version of Huang Yao Shi PERFECTLY embodied a strange man with an aloofness for the mortal world, yet have enough affection and love for his family- Huang Rong and his dead wife. The 2008 version of Huang Yao Shi by Anthony Wong was convincing in his strange temperamental and unpredictable ways, but he was too tame and too polite. If you saw the TVB version of Huang Yao Shi, you would know what I mean.

Xu Jin Jiang as Oh Yang Feng (4/5)- What in the world happened to the 2008 Oh Yang Feng?! The actor who plays him usually acts in FUNNY and COMEDIC movies/dramas such as 009’s gambling buddy in "The Duel". I was in shock when I saw the actor. While the actor was able to bring out the essence of “Western Poison”, I feel like he was trying too hard to be evil all the time. Towards the end, where Oh Yang Feng became insane, was the best part for me, because I thought the crazy/funny role was more fitting for the actor. I hated Oh Yang Feng because of his cold hearted-ness towards his Nephew/Son. I hated the way Oh Yang Feng uses and dumps people based on his needs. So I’d say the ending, where he goes insane and jumps off a cliff, was the best punishment for him.

Other Characters:
Cong Yi Shan as Mei Chao Feng (5/5)- This Mei Chao Feng I really really adore. The actress who plays her is drop dead gorgeous with a really sculpted face. I loved the scene where Mei Chao Feng was still young and beautiful, and went back to Peach Blossom Island to see her Master's Wife, but to find the wife dead. Then she hugged a little Huang Rong tightly and cried. That got me. I loved Mei Chao Feng's character since then despite she represents one of the antagonist in this show.

Other snippets:

1. Costumes for the show- 4/5. While there were some really good costumes (such as Yang Kang’s various “imperial outfits” and Guo Jing’s uber sexy fox-trimmed cape during those scenes in Mongolia), I feel like there was not enough changes in costume for some of the major girl characters. I don’t think Huang Rong had more than 3 outfit changes, and same with Mu Nian Ci. Huang Rong comes from a wealthy family in the series, so I’d think the costume design would come up with more outfits for her…

2. Soundtrack (4.5/5)- Even though there were only 3 main songs (beginning theme, ending theme, and “love scene” song). Those songs were very good and appropriate for this series! I tear up every time they play that “love scene” song…usually it’s during those dramatic romantic scenes between Guo Jing/Huang Rong and Yang Kang/Nian Ci.

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