The Legend of the Condor Heroes


Reviewed by: Dolphin_bay

July 29, 2008

Rating: four


Cast
Hu Ge as Guo Jing
Ariel Lin Yi Chen as Huang Rong
Yuan Hong as Yang Kang
Liu Shi Shi as Mu Nian Ci

Plot (4/5)

Since everyone already knows the storyline I’ll omit the summary and comment directly on the specifics, such as changes to the plot. Certain changes were nicely done but others were just unnecessary. In general, the director added more focus on character relationships than other versions of Legend of the Condor Heroes (LOCH), which is quite predictable considering he’s the director of Chinese Paladin and Tian Wai Fei Xian. However, I felt that he had a nice balance and did not go overboard like some people predicted.

Although I’m not the biggest fan of LOCH, I have to say that the plot is the most intriguing aspect of LOCH, making it the classic of the Condor Trilogy. Therefore, although changes and cuts to the plot might make the series more interesting, it'd take away from the general feeling. For example, I really did not like how the beginning of LOCH was completely rushed. Guo Jing’s whole childhood in Mongolia was cut out. I did not even see a child actor. One of my favorite scenes is the scene after Jiang Nan Qi Guai finally found Guo Jing after ten years of searching. That moment when they finally found the little Guo Jing after wasting years in the deserts was extremely heartwarming and touching. Cutting it out and jumping directly to the Qi Guai teaching the grown up Guo Jing takes away from this feeling. I was also not impressed by the five-second flashback of the night when Guo Jing and Qi Guai met Mei Chao Feng. Even important scenes after he grew up such helping Genghis Khan fight Zha Mu He were completely rushed. Perhaps the director assumes that everyone knows the story by heart so the audience can fill in the empty spaces by themselves? I really suspect whether someone who hasn’t seen or read LOCH can understand that part about Zha Mu He. Also, I was quite annoyed at how they chopped the scene where Qiu Chu Ji met Guo Xiao Tian and Yang Tie Xing into a bunch of pieces, gradually revealed in flashbacks to save time. Some other interesting scenes such as Guo Jing and Huang Rong battling the “Yu Qiao Geng Du” and Guo Jing capturing and releasing Ou Yang Feng three times were also cut out. The rest of the drama is relatively accurate to the original story, not counting the drastic changes to some characters, which I will comment more on later.

Characters

Hu Ge as Guo Jing (5/5)
Hu Ge successfully captured the simple and naïve nature of Guo Jing. He has a steady and true look in his eyes, which amazingly, is a result of his acting instead of his natural look. This version added cuteness and some humor to Guo Jing’s stupidity (especially compared to Li Ya Peng’s version). There is also a heavier emphasis on his brotherly love with Yang Kang. Although for the most part, this relationship was one sided, the few scenes where the two did open their hearts to each other were quite warm and touching. The only slight problem I have with his Guo Jing is that it has a striking resemblance to his Di Gua from Tian Wei Fei Xian. But, I guess that cannot be considered a fault and the two characters are quite similar.

Ariel Lin as Huang Rong (5/5)
I believe that Ariel Lin’s portrayal of Huang Rong is the closest to the novel. Contrary to most LOCH fans, I never particularly liked Barbara Yung’s portrayal. I always felt that her Huang Rong was a bit too mature. Although I really liked Athena Chu’s portrayal, I felt that it was very obvious that she was acting (good acting though). Zhou Xun’s version didn’t hit me either. However, Ariel Lin’s Huang Rong gives me the impression that she simply stepped out of the book. Her every expression shows her natural cuteness and wittiness. When she was sad, I genuinely felt her sorrow with her. I just have to say that Ariel Lin is a natural actress, considering she can pull off both Huang Rong and Yuan Xiang Qing. Furthermore, I think she’s the only Huang Rong who mostly wears yellow, which I have always regarded as Huang Rong’s color (nothing to do with her last name).

Yuan Hong as Yang Kang (3.5/5)
Contrary to a lot of people, I never understood what the big hype over Yuan Hong was about. I never particularly liked his Yie Lu Xie in Shao Nian Yang Jia Jiang nor do I think he is good-looking at all. He is incomparable to Miu Kiu Wai’s portrayal of Yang Kang. However, I cannot blame him for not having Miu Kiu Wai’s good looks or having a good script for Yang Kang. The director sure put a lot of focus on Yang Kang’s character, but most of the effort gave a negative effect. I do agree that selective scenes inn the beginning between Yang Kang and Mu Nian Ci and Yang Kang and Guo Jing were quite touching, but as the series progressed, Yang Kang’s character just became more and more annoying. First of all, I did not like how the director made Yang Kang’s jealousy towards Guo Jing a major aspect of his overall wretchedness. Personally, I never had a problem with Yang Kang returning to Wan Yan Hong Lie’s side although I disliked what Yang Kang did after returning to Wan Yan Hong Lie because he and Wan Yan Hong Lie really did share a true father and son relationship and he was born and raised on the Jin side. I only blame his mom and shi fu for never telling him that he was a Song descendant. I also disliked how the director delayed his death to the last episode (and the way he died was equally disturbing). I suppose the director totally doesn’t care about the fact that LOCH is part of a trilogy and that Yang Kang’s death is supposed to have a great effect on Yang Guo’s death. So, Huang Rong did not cause Yang Kang’s death, but instead saved him. So how will Yang Guo attempt revenge later on? And the Godfather that he loves so much turns out to be the one who killed his father. What will poor Yang Guo do?! But I guess, I should thank the director for being considerate enough to at least let Yang Kang die, considering how much he seems to like Yang Kang.

Liu Shi Shi as Mu Nian Ci (2/5)
Liu Shi Shi had the potential for being a very good Mu Nian Ci. She has the look, the atmosphere, and I believe, the acting skills. However, Mu Nian Ci was heartlessly butchered by the director. First of all, she seems to be the most gullible of all the versions Mu Nian Ci. When she finally stepped out of her gullible stage, she became the only Mu Nian Ci who willingly lied to herself about Yang Kang’s treachery. And, when she finally stepped out of that stage of voluntary denial, she entered the new stage of letting Yang Kang be and helping Yang Kang achieve “the life he wants.” (sigh) Although I’ve always regarded Mu Nian Ci as a boring character, I’ve always respected her for her strong will against Yang Kang once she found out that Yang Kang was a treacherous man who was willing to sell his country. This version of Mu Nian Ci did not have this quality at all. Furthermore, the director added more unnecessary scenes that just made me hate this character more. One of them was when Mu Nian Ci (partially willingly) became Wan Yan Hong Lie’s hostage in order to test whether Yang Kang loved her enough to retrieve the Wu Mu Yi Shu for Wan Yan Hong Lie in exchange for her. First of all, like I mentioned about, the real Mu Nian Ci would not put her own selfish love above her country’s well-being. She would definitely not allow herself to put her country in danger. Further, what I found funny was that she suspected that Yang Kang was working on Wan Yan Hong Lie’s side but yet, she’s trying to test whether he loves her by seeing whether he’ll give the Wu Mu Yi Shu to Wan Yan Hong Lie. lol. I seriously don’t doubt Yang Kang’s words to Wan Yan Hong Lie, claiming that he would have given the Wu Mu Yi Shu to him regardless of whether Mu Nian Ci was in his hands or not. Talk about stupidity. Second of all, what was with that scene with Yang Kang and Mu Nian Ci killing Ou Yang Ke. This shows that Mu Nian Ci is not only willing to blind herself for her love, but also go against her morals. Even though Ou Yang Ke is not exactly a good person, he did not deserve to be killed like that either. When I saw Mu Nian Ci and Yang Kang kill Ou Yang Ke, I seriously thought they were a pair of “jian fu ying fu.” Their kiss and “night” after wards really disgusted me as well. It pains me to think that Yang Guo was supposedly created under such circumstances. I don’t know why the director would do this to Mu Nian Ci.

Li Jie as Ou Yang Ke (5/5)
I started watching this Ou Yang Ke with a disgusted impression due to Li Jie’s previous portrayal of Ling Ping Zhi in Xiao Au Jiang Hu 2001. However, he reverted this impression within a few appearances. Although he is not what I call good looking, he successfully portrayed what Huang Rong calls “feng sao nan ren” (flirtatious man) in a very charismatic manner. His yearning for Ou Yang Feng’s love added a new layer to his character. I felt so sorry for him watching him treasure every moment Ou Yang Feng showed a little love towards him as a father, only to have it trashed again a few moments later. And what was with that horrible attitude Mu Nian Ci treated him with after finding out that he liked her. I wanted to tell her that you don’t treat someone like he has a disease just because he likes you and you don’t like him. Actually, his love for Mu Nian Ci baffles me because in the original version, I’m pretty sure he loves Huang Rong and was only playing around with Mu Nian Ci. However, in this version, he seems to genuinely love Mu Nian Ci, but at the same time, he definitely had something for Huang Rong as well, especially that night when he was outside the cave, trying to evoke some sympathy from Huang Rong. Perhaps he likes both, and I guess he can’t be blamed for that considering all the Jing Yong male characters that have a million ambiguous lovers.

Guo Liang as Wan Yan Hong Lie (4.5/5)
He is my favorite Wan Yan Hong Lie so far. Just like I’ve said for Yang Kang, I’ve never blamed this character for anything he did, except attack the Guo and Yang family simply because he fell in love with Bao Xi Ruo. This version also portrayed his heroic side that is loyal and courageous to his country, the hero that his men are willing to die for. Even Mu Nian Ci and Ou Yang Ke couldn’t help but stay on his side during that battle against the vast Mongolian army. My only complaint is his constant distrust and testing of Yang Kang. It proves that he is right to not completely trust Yang Kang, but it takes away from his fatherly figure. I’ve always admired how the other Wan Yan Hong Lie’s have always loved and trusted Yang Kang under all conditions, even begging Ou Yang Feng to save Yang Kang after Yang Kang attempted to kill him before his death. But of course, Yang Kang did not even die in that scene, so what can I say?

Kathy Chou Hai Mei as Bao Xi Ruo (4.5/5)
Her Bao Xi Ruo was pretty decent, not to mention beautiful, but I prefer He Qing’s version of Bao Xi Ruo. However I believe that this mostly due to the script. He Qing’s version of Bao Xi Ruo was much more endearing and tragic. Bao Xi Ruo’s character is a good model showing how this director’s changes are often both good and bad. In this version, unlike the original novel, Bao Xi Ruo and Yang Tie Xin did not immediately accept each other after finding out about each other’s existence. This kind of took away from the trusting relationship Bao Xi Ruo and Yang Tie Xin had for each other. To immediately accept each other under such dangerous and doubtful circumstances after eighteen years of separation must require a great deal of trust and chemistry, which goes beyond love. This version’s Bao Xi Ruo and Yang Tie Xin both had a great degree of awkwardness towards each other after their reunion. However, I have to say, this makes their characters more realistic, though less idealistic. It also made their eventual reunion all the more touching.

Ong Jia Ming as Yang Tie Xin (4.5/5)
Like Bao Xi Ruo, he is also a pretty decent Yang Tie Xin. My praises and complaints about this character are pretty much the same as that of his wife. He is also the Yang Tie Xin with the best life, considering he had quite a few days of happiness with his family before their tragic ending.

Anthony Huang Qiu sheng as Huang Yao Shi (5/5)
I’ve watched this series with high hopes for Huang Yao Shi after hearing that he would be played by Anthony Huang. He did not let me down. He totally grasped Huang Yao Shi’s aloofness, peculiarity, and sorrow perfectly. He portrayed every aspect of Huang Yao Shi, from his ignorance of others to his love for his daughter, to perfection. Many say that he was too polite, but I felt that he was impolite enough and though his impolite was toned down, it only made him more lovable.

Liang Jia Ren as Hong Qi Gong (4.5/5)
I don’t think it is his first time playing Hong Qi Gong, so it’s natural that he’s pretty good at it. This Hong Qi Gong was well portrayed, but with no surprises. Everything was just as I expected. I would much rather see Hong Qi Gong portrayed by Sun Xin who was initially casted for the role, but had to leave due to scheduling conflicts.

Xu Jing Jiang as Ou Yang Feng (3/5)
Perhaps it’s because this actor has acted too many different types of characters, ranging from funny and stupid ones like E Tong Tian from Amazing Twins to evil ones like Bai Yue from Chinese Paladin to rough ones like Jing Mao Shi Wang from Heavenly Sword Dragon Saber, I’ve ceased to feel anything for any characters that he acts. It’s weird how versatility can hurt an actor (I feel like I’m not quite making sense). It’s more likely that he’s just a versatile actor who cannot leave a deep impression for his audience. Therefore, his Ou Yang Feng takes the middle course as well.

Kong Yi Shan as Mei Chao Feng (4/5)
She surely has the look of Mei Chao Feng. The actress is quite pretty without Mei Chao Feng’s weird makeup. She really brought out the different sides of Mei Chao Feng extremely naturally, portraying a Mei Chao Feng who can be ruthless towards some but loyal and caring to her shi fu, shi mei, and even Yang Kang.

Xie Na as Hua Zheng (3/5)
I didn’t feel much for this character. Her happy-go-luckiness annoyed me at times, especially when she was able to happily marry Guo Jing even though she knew that he loved Huang Rong.

Other Characters

Zhou Bo Tong (4/5)
He’s a pretty good Zhou Bo Tong, but I feel that besides the Zhou Bo Tong in the LOCH 83 version, none of the versions of Zhou Bo Tong are naturally cute.

Nan Di (4/5)
He’s pretty decent. I have to commend him for have two totally different looks and atmospheres before and after becoming a monk.

Ying Gu (4/5)
Again, nothing striking, though the actress is considered pretty, compared to the other versions of Ying Gu. She seriously matches that line “ke lian wei lao tou xian bai” (it’s a pity that her hair is white before she’s old) the best.

Wang Chong Yang (3/5)
It seems weird to comment on a character who just came out a few times, but Wang Chong Yang is almost like a godlike character in LOCH, one reason some versions choose to not let him be seen by the audience. This version of LOCH let him appear and it did indeed take away from his godliness.

Jiang Nan Qi Guai (5/5)
I really loved this crew of Jiang Nan Qi Guai. They had such great chemistry with each other and Guo Jing. I could genuinely feel their love and adoration for Guo Jing and this is the only version where I could distinguish every Jiang Nan Qi Guai, which shows how they stand out. I was especially impressed by the actress who played qi shi fu because I was initially skeptical of her because she’s acted a number of yao guai (demons) in dramas such as Liao Zhai Zhi Yi. I was surprised that she could pull off the kind and caring qi shi fu.

Favorite Scenes (in relative chronological order)

The scene when the beggar Huang Rong was telling Guo Jing about her childhood: “My mom died when I was one year old. When I was three years old, I made my dad so angry he died. I grew up crawling around in the forest eating twigs.”

The scene when Mu Nian Ci went to ask Yang Kang back for her shoe and he gave her a flowery foot bath. As much as I dislike this couple, that scene was very warm and touching, especially when Yang Kang said: “If it were someone else, I would mind doing this” (not exact translation). Considering that he’s a prince, he must be really attracted to Mu Nian Ci to do that for her.

The scene when Huang Rong was pretending that she was Mu Nian Ci and crying about how Yang Kang dumped her.

The scene when Bao Xi Ruo first found out that Mu Yi was Yang Tie Xin and begged him to not leave her. I found that scene very heart wrenching. It was touching to see Bao Xi Ruo choose Yang Tie Xin without second thought after finding out it was him.

The scene when there was lightning and Guo Jing was frantically forcing Huang Rong and Yang Kang to both eat noodles because people who have done bad deeds need to eat noodles during lightning nights in order to not get struck. lol. A great way to flatter his beloved lover and younger brother.

The scene when Yang Tie Xin and Bao Xi Ruo finally made up after slapping and blaming each other, like family members are allowed to treat each other when they’re upset.

The scene where Guo Jing was telling Yang Kang that he knew that he was not fit to be Yang Kang’s older brother, but would work hard to be worthy of being his older brother one day and Yang Kang called him “Da Ge.”

The scene when Huang Rong told Guo Jing that she knew about Hua Zheng and only wanted to spend every day of the few months they had left happily together.

The scene when Huang Rong pretended to be angry at Guo Jing because he gave her favorite food to Yang Kang instead of saving it for her in order to get away from Yang Kang. Her expression and voice were both hilarious.

The scene when Ou Yang Feng was baking food for Ou Kang Ke, which turned out to taste pretty bad, but Ou Yang Ke said it was tasty and insisted that every one has different tastes.

The scene when Huang Rong was trying to make Guo Jing laugh after he thought that Hua Zheng died and afterwards, decided to slap him to make him cry after realizing that he needed crying.

The scene when Guo Jing and Ou Yang Ke were competing to marry Huang Rong. It was done very well.

The scene when Guo Jing told Huang Rong that he was going to marry Hua Zheng but would only love Huang Rong forever and Huang Rong said: “If he marries someone else, I’ll marry someone else as well, but in his heart, there will only be me and in my heart there will only be him.”

The scene when Wan Yan Hong Lie was battled a huge Mongolian army with only a few people and Mu Nian Ci and Ou Yang Ke couldn’t refrain from helping him after all his men sacrificed their lives for him.

Music (4/5)
The opening song is really not that great. It’s a pretty pop-like and catchy song, but I don’t think it sounds very nice. The ending song is very beautiful and appropriate. The side theme “Wo Zhi Neng Ai Ni” is also a very touching and beautiful song. My only complaint is that there are only three songs in this drama, not counting the one that Huang Rong sang on the river. The background music is also very beautiful, especially the instrumental that plays during sweet scenes.

Conclusion
For the most part, this is a pretty successful remake of LOCH, minus the unnecessary changes to the characters and plot. The characters in general, all had great depth and were interesting to watch. Those who like Wu Xia series that focus a lot on love will probably be even more impressed. Thought this series does have its faults, its definitely a series you shouldn’t miss.


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