Xiao Ao Jiang Hu

Reviewed by: fridaythe13th

December 09, 2007

Rating: five

When you want to talk about a series that this worth the five star rating, this has to be the series. CCTV's 2001 serial of "State of Divinity" (SOD), Jin Yong's Xiao Ao Jiang Hu novel, is one of the best series I have seen. Remind you, my favorite is still 1987's "The Condor Heroes".

Anyway, I won't go into too much detail about the plot. For those who haven't watched it, State of Divinity (SOD) is about the pugilistic world of martial arts, wanting to be number one. The world of martial arts wants to get their hands on "Bi Xie Jian", the manual of the Evil Sword. During the chase, people get killed, people turn from good to evil, people fall in love, and people achieving their goals.

Ok, I have to say that the plot was a bit too "off the edge" compared to the novel. However, I think that some parts that they changed are actually pretty good. The plot, or the main plot, is unclear. There are too many subplots that it's original plot is lost. But it is not confusing.

So the two main themes of the plot are differences and change. Linghu Chong falls in love with Ren Yingying. One is from the righteous sect, the other is from the so-called Evil Cult. Their love is strong, even though they are faced with many obstacles. It shows that differences in background, religion, doesn't matter, it's the personality that does. Change is a very important aspect of the plot. Yue Buqun, Lin Zhiping, Ren Wuxin all changes throughout the story. They change from good to evil, likeable to unlikeable.

Overall, I have to say that the plot sticks mainly to the original plot, unlike the other ones from Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

Li Yapeng's impression of Linghu Chong is likeable but lacks the strength Linghu Chong really has. He is good when it comes to playing around and joking but he lacks the courage and chivalry Linghu Chong has in the novel. Xu Qing as Ren Yingying is a superb choice by the casting crew. She have that stubborn personality with a kind heart. Her playfulness in the role is fantastic. SOD doesn't have a lot of on-screen chemistry. There isn't much kissing and hugging. Rather, the love is seen through words and more importantly, expressions. Li Yapeng and Xu Qing's expressions are just profound in meaning. Excellent!

Li Jie(Lin Pingzhi), Miao Yiyi(Yue Lingshan) and Wei Zi(Yue Buqun) are great supporting actors. I especially like Miao Yiyi's liveliness as Yue Lingshan. Also, special mention of Wei Zi's role as Yue Buqun. I think his acting of a hypocrite is very good, so believable and along with Li Jie and Mao Weitao(Dongfang Bubai), they were excellent at playing three transsexual men of the movie.

Also, before I forget, I loved Tao Gu Liu Xian (Six Peach Valley Fairies) because they had the best sense of humour. Very hilarious.

This is the best part of the series. SOD actors have put a lot of effort in creating the best fighting scenes in SOD. And they did. I love the way the skills of the martial arts are well-organised and so neat. Keep it up guys! Some of my personal favorites of fighting scenes are:

* If Dongfang Bubai's needlework doesn't impress you, I don't know what will.
* Ren Yingying's qin (musical instrument) spin as she flies outside to help Linghu Chong fight the enemy outside the bamboo hut.
* Zuo Lengchan and Ren Yingying's swordsmanship in the bamboo forest.
* Ren Yingying's first appearance. Eerie but cool.
* And I could never forget the fight between Zuo Lengchan and Yue Buqun on Song Shan.

The setting of SOD is one of the best setting I have ever seen. They were real, breathtaking and eye-catching. The best scene in the whole series was the last scene. The mountain peaks were green and mist was filled around it. Linghu Chong and Ren Yingying playing "Xiao Ao Jiang Hu" (also the title) on the mountain. So touching and so peaceful. It is the best ending scene anyone can possibly have.

I have to say, even though the music in the series wasn't that good, this series is definitely a must-see. Keep up the good work, Huang Jianzhong (director) and Zhang Jizhong (producer)! Anyway, the conclusion is that STATE OF DIVINITY is a TWO-THUMBS UP.

One Word Summary: magnificent
Best Scene: the ending

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