Savior of the Soul


Reviewed by: Floo..

December 21, 2007

Rating: three-point-five

AKA: Modern Condor Heroes / Return of the Condor Heroes

How can you 'adapt' a wuxia story into modern setting? Should you 'cut' the plot and just 'paste' it in the modern setting? Or are there any changes that should be made? Which aspect that is better left unchanged? These questions are more difficult to answer as the wuxia story is a very popular one.

It dominated my mind as I first saw the advertisement for Savior of the Soul / Return of the Condor Heroes (ROCH) '92, that in Indonesia, first titled Modern Condor Heroes. ROCH 83 is one of my favorite wuxia adaptations, I love the novel, and Andy Lau is my biggest idol (at that time). So, how good could this movie be, even if it is starred by ROCH 83's Yeung Gor / Yo Ko?

While my friend said that she didn't find any similarities between Modern Condor Heroes and ROCH, I think the movie is a brilliant cut of the 'essence' of ROCH. Instead of copying the length of Yeung Gor / Dragon Lady love story, the movie focused on the leading lady's willingness to hide from her lover in order to save his life, and how the leading actor copes with it.

=== Short Synopsis ===
Mercury (Andy Lau), Paradise (Anita Mui) and Chun (Kenny Bee) were three assassins that grow up together. Both men were falling in love with her, but she secretly fancied Mercury.

One day, as the three of them went to the station to pick up Chun's little sister, Hua (Gloria Yip), Paradise was ambushed by Silver Fox (Aaron Kwok) who planned to take revenge for his master. Chun died protecting Paradise. As Silver Fox vowed to kill whomever close to her, Paradise decided to keep a distance with Mercury to save his life, leaving him heartbroken.

Mercury, who later adopted Hua as his little sister, never gave up in searching for Paradise. One search brought him to Princess Toyboy (Carina Lau). He finally succeeded in finding Paradise by eavesdropping her conversation with her wacky twin (also played by Anita Mui). He arrived in time and managed to save her life from Silver Fox's attack, yet Paradise was badly injured by Silver Fox's 'Terrible Angel' poison.

A touching scene depicts how badly Mercury tried to cure Paradise. He went to Princess Toyboy's palace and begged her to cure Paradise. Being jealous, Princess Toyboy asked him to kneel down and walked through glass scatters. I don't want to go much into details, so only after the final duel with Silver Fox did this couple manage to find their happiness, and left Hua alone saying the lines of Guo Xiang, "After this day, I never saw them again. I have looked for them in the mountain and in the sea, yet I never found them..."

Sounds dramatic? Wait until you see it. It is a very dramatic movie, with dramatic costumes (those long overcoats seem a bit like robes in wuxia series), dramatic music (sung by Andy), dramatic setting,.. I am so glad that they didn't make the setting too 'modern' or ordinary, but opt to fascinatingly use colors and lighting. The result is what I can say as 'candy for the eyes'.

And the fighting scenes are just amazing! It is purely wuxia series style, with the flying and swordplay scenes. Andy Lau's sword-practising scene is also very pretty. The weapons--a hybrid of sword and yoyo for Mercury, exploding knives for Paradise--are also innovative and cool. I became itchy to show this movie to every action flick. Hey, duels can be this cool!

The actors/actresses are also great, which is not strange, considering how well-known they are. But the one who steals the light must be the very cute and very adorable Gloria Yip. As Hua, Guo Xiang of this movie, her unreciprocated love to Mercury is so touching and sweet. One very memorable scene is when Mercury promised her that he would take her dinner on her birthday. Yet he forgot and went looking for Paradise in Princess Toyboy's palace. Hua, refusing to believe that Mercury forgot her, stood all night in front of a mechanical shrine. And when he finally arrived, she ran and hugged him. And my heart bleeds for her...

The only (and fatal) down point for this movie is its slapstick comedy, which in my opinion, ruins the dramatic effect of the series. Why, why, why, oh why the producer let the movie being tattered by dumb humor?


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