The Legendary Swordsman


Reviewed by: sukting

January 28, 2008

Rating: three

How long/Year produced
30 episodes /2000

Cast
Linghu Chong - Ma Jin Tao
Ren Ying Ying - Fang Wen Fang ( Xiao Long Nu in TCS version of Return of Condor Heroes)
Yue Ling Shan - Li Jin Mei
Tian Bo Guang - Chen Tian Wen
Yi Lin - Zeng Shi Mei
Lan Feng Huang - Chen Xiu Li (Guo Fu in TCS version of Return of Condor Heroes)
Lin Ping Zi - Chew Chor Meng
Dong Fang Bu Bai - Zheng Xiu Zhen

Introduction:
I didn't really set high hopes after looking at the names of the cast for this series. All along, I didn't think TCS can do well in making Jin Yong serials. The earlier Return of Condor Heroes has received many negative comments. As for this one, many are still very dissatisfied with how it is done, especially on the hairstyle of Ma Jin Tao.

Story
I think the story is familiar to all so I will not be focusing on it much. Anyway, the story is about 80% faithful to the novel. So there's nothing much to complain about the storyline.

Except for some subplots - One day, Tian Bo Guang is injured and accepts a cart of salt from the village headman where he stays to recuperate from his injuries. Unknown to him, this is their custom of marrying off the daughter. When he knows about it, he escapes. His poor wife-to-be, Lan Feng Huang, is than considered a jinx and no other man dares to marry her. Out of rage and desperation, she leaves her village, hunting him down and gives him endless rounds of torture.

First is drugging him to make him return to Black Valley with her. Tian turns into a zombie and does stupid things for her. But later he recovers and finds her actually a nice person, he falls for her and even helps to steal the antidote which Ren Wo Xing has poisoned her with. He gets it in exchange for his life. She is so depressed over his death that she burns herself with his dead body.

Can you accept the fact that Dong Fang Bu Bai pretends to be a damsel in distress by feigning to be a prostitute in a brothel -- so that Chong (Ling Wu Chong) can save 'her'? And Ren Ying Ying coming here to search for them? Well I can't. How can Dongfang be so desperate to get so involved over a man? To leave Black Valley at this time and allow Ren Wo Xing to grasp his power back is a stupid arrangement.

The amusing part is Chong thinks that he is poor, settles him in a village and gives him some money. Later he goes back to the Black Valley to be with Ying Ying. Dong Fang is so filled with jealousy that he creates disasters for both of them. He poisons Ying Ying on their wedding day and demands Chong to marry him -- both at the altar. It is only at this time when Chong discovers that he has the WRONG bride. How interesting this part is!

Chong has a duel with Dongfang and finally kills him. He does not tell him where he hides Ying Ying but tells him instead that he wants Chong to remember him forever. Later after a long search, he finally finds Ying Ying in a coffin in their 'loveplace'. This place has a lot of sentiments for Dongfang as Chong has mentioned that he will like to retreat here after retiring from the pugilistic world. A weird ending!

Comments on cast
This is the first time that I see most supporting roles surpassing the performances of the main cast. How unbelievable! Most of the time, I look out for all the rest and not Chong and Ying Ying!!

You may have expected Ma Jin Tao to shine. But alas, my answer is not. He is still delivering his role exactly in the same way that he acts in all other Qiong Yao serials. Although he is more reserved now, you can see that all his actions and expressions are still very much the same as in his earlier works. His role is ruined by an ugly Maggi instant noodles hairstyle after his ordeal of being expelled from the Huashan sect. I wonder why -- his intial image of the usual hairdo is so much better. But this one really makes you puke!!! Is it to show that he is struck by lightning, terror, and shock because his teacher expelled him????

As for Fan Wen Fang, she is still a pretty face that can't act to me. Ying Ying is a role that commands a lot of willfulness and wildness. To me, she's too gentle. The worst is she isn't fierce even to her subordinates. When comparing her with Leung Pui Ling and Yuen Wing Yee, she is a major letdown. There is too much stress on her clothes instead. Her costumes are no doubt beautiful but they are too much attention off from her. What I can't stand most is that her make-up is too thick and modern -- can you visualise Ying Ying having eye stickers over the eyelids? Very poorly done....

I'm very impressed with Chen Xiu Li. She has done very well. She can show many faces of Feng Huang - from evil, hateful to demure and witty. I can't help feeling that she is the best person to play Ying Ying. No wonder she is nominated for her role as a supporting actress in the year 2000 tv awards.

As for Zheng Xiu Zhen, she has also done her homework. But she is better as the lady Dongfang, looking stunningly beautiful and sweet. No wonder Chong can fall in love with her for a while. The last part when she looks at Chong with loving eyes before her death is appropriately depicted. The way that she sinks into the sea is done with grace.

As the male Dongfang, she is too thin and the armour looks heavier than her pathetic thin frame. Many are not convinced and say that she doesn't look like a man. She looks more like a transvestite and a Japanese warrior instead with the gold-coloured and big headgear .

She is nominated for the best actress award too in the same year. Fan's fans have grumbled that she outshines Fan which shouldn't be the case since her scenes are less. I think that this shows that a great actress can always make an extra mile if given the right role to present himself/herself.

Li Jinmei is quite convincing as the junior Ling Shan. But there is one major flaw here. As a sect leader's daughter, she should be having lots of clothes. But from the beginning to the end, we only see her in a pink dress! We wonder whether she is too poor or is this the Huashan sect's uniform????

Chew Chor Meng is okay as Lin Ping Zhi. But we can't help feeling that his childish face has hindered his acting. Many has thought that he looks like in the early 20s but in actual fact, he'a already in his early thirties. He has put in a lot of hard work in scenes when Lin is facing a dilemma on whether to master the 'Bixie skill'. And the Huashan 'uniform' with a ghostly looking hat really looks ugly on him. I must say that he has done very well.

Chen Tian Wen is very good as the cheeky and highly skilled Tian Bo Guang. In TCS, he is known as the swordsman because of his trained-in-martial-arts background. He has a role in 90% of the period dramas that TCS has produced. And he has improved from a raw to a mature actor. Many like this role as he has shown many faces of Bo Guang - from happy, mischievous to sad and mature. A very versatile actor.

Zeng Shi Mei is a newcomer so we can't blame her for acting raw in emotional scenes. But I must say that she has tried her best in showing the gentle side of Yi Lin.

Songs
Just like Fan herself, she sings too demurely. We can't help shaking our heads -- is it supposed to be the swordswoman in the serial or just another pretty/gentle face??? But her singing is more than satisfactory for both the theme and sub-theme songs. But another sub-theme song by Singapore singer Wu Jiaming is a plus point. He delivers the song well on the friendship between Chong and Tian over a drink. I bought the CD at a 2nd hand store for S$5 as I've no confidence in Fan's singing. It turns out to be a surprise, though as the music arrangements for certain pieces are really nice but too short.

Conclusion
If you're not fussy and is a fan of Ma or Fan, this serial is right for you. But you'll somehow be disappointed with their acting. I had hoped that Chong is at least properly dressed for his big day for the marriage but he is still the sloppy looking person that we've tolerated for the majority of the episodes. They are a mismatch when standing together. One is untidy while another is neat and pretty! All others outshine them! We don't feel the emotions between them. Instead, you will feel more between Ma and Li who's supposedly to be his junior -- in scenes when they're practising the Chong Ling sword display !! And also be touched by the endless love between Tian and Lan. What a letdown! I would suggest viewers to watch The Legend of Eight Immortals instead. It is much more better than this serial.

sukting's Ratings:

On acting:* * * * (Scale of 5)

On the story: * * *(Scale of 5)


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