Golden Snake Sword


Reviewed by: sukting

November 03, 2004

Rating: three

Foreword
This is a sword fighting drama that Ekin Cheng was involved in during his days with TVB. How did it turn out working with Law Wai Kuen? After reading Dagger Lee’s review, I tried hard to remember the details before writing this review. Sorry if I miss out certain facts as I watched it a long time ago. Also hoping to answer some of Dagger Lee’s questions too.

Story

Lian Huan is pampered by his foster father, Shou Yi, and is deeply in love with his fiancée, Long Er. Zheng is angry that Lian Huan is often rebellious and is against him since young. Xia Hou's family is righteous on the surface but they do evil deeds. The two families are close and Yi’s daughter, Yan, is Zheng’s future wife. Lian Huan attends a feast and recognizes Sa Tian Sect Holy Maiden, Ban Wan, disguising herself as a man. He ruins her plot and makes her furious.

Po Jun’s skills are destroyed by Yi and is trapped in the cellar. Yi even forces poison down his throat, demanding him to reveal the other sects skills’ secrets but he refuses. Yan feels sorry for Po Jun and treats him well. Both become friends. Po Jun is the Ming Dynasty's descendent to the throne. Eunuch Cao brings his ‘4 top killers’ to Xia Hou's residence, wanting to seek out killers.

Ban Wan is discovered by Yi’s men when she sneaks there at night. Liu Ying rescues her. Shou Yi thinks the killings are due to the sect’s doings and is angry. Lian Huan sees that his friend is dead and wants to seek revenge with Long Er. Shou Yi is afraid that both will come to harm and gets his man to protect them. But his man gets killed by the 4 top killers. Eunuch Cao discovers that Lian Huan may be the Ming dynasty descendent so he wants to kill him.

Yi frames Lian Huan to be connected to Sha Tian Ba sect. Others do not believe him so he hopes Shou Yi will convince them. Yi instigates the 8 sects to confront them. Shou Yi forces Er to kill herself to save Lian Huan but this doesn’t convince the others. Shou Yi wants Zheng to pretend to be Lian Huan to lure them away. Zheng thinks Yi is mad and helps the other sects. Shou Yi has no choice but to kill himself. Before dying, he tells Lian Huan to look for his grandmaster, Zhi Zai, to learn of his parentage.

Zheng is sad over his family's tragedy and vows to kill Lian Huan. Yi wants to make use of him. Lian Huan is seriously injured and trapped in Sha Tian Ba sect. The women followers bully him. Ban Wan often believes that women are superior since young and treats all men as slaves. But she falls for Lian Huan. She even defies the sect rules to treat his injuries – without wearing her clothes. Ban Wan is 20 years old and needs a male slave to continue the family line so she chooses Lian Huan.

Yan tells Po Jun what happened to Lian Huan and he reacts strongly. She knows that both must have shared a relationship and is interested in Lian Huan’s affairs. The day of the wedding, Lian Huan refuses to submit. Ban Wan is afraid that he might get killed and wants to roam the country with him. Liu Ying tries to stop her but she begs her. After recalling her past, Liu Ying lets them off.

Zheng becomes ambitious and changes his name to Tian Ming. He wants to set up a more famous sect than Long Men. Ban Wan wants to spend her life with Lian Huan but his heart is only with Er. She is upset but wants him to set an oath to promise that he must never love another woman. He agrees and she leaves. Ban Wan returns to the sect and Liu Ying stabs herself 3 times to save her from being sentenced to death.

Tian Ming and Yi try to kill Lian Huan. Lian Huan gets into the golden snake cave by chance and gets the secret manual so he masters the skills diligently. Yi regards Tian Ming as his future son-in-law but he is too engrossed in practicing skills and neglects Yan. Zhi Zai returns to find Long Men destroyed and vows to seek revenge. Zhi Zai goes to Sha Tian Ba sect and demands an explanation. But upon seeing Liu Ying, he recalls how madly in love he was with her in the past and softens. Liu Ying maintains that the killing has nothing to do with her and wants him to investigate.

Lian Huan’s skills improve and he wants to wipe out the 8 sects. Lian Huan sees Yan and Wen Yi. He doesn’t know them but many think that he is the golden snake pugilist so the 8 sects combine forces to deal with him. Lian Huan kills Han Wan Li on his wedding day with Fei Xue to seek revenge on the 2 sects, wanting them to taste the agony of being parted in life and death.

Yi pretends to let Tian Ming stay with him because he knows the skill to break through the acupoint to increase his inner strength. Zhi Zai nearly bursts upon knowing that Tian Ming joins another sect. He hits him with a blow to signify that their ties end. Yi’s elder brother, Ren, wants Po Jun to impart his skills to him in order to save Lian Huan. Ren loses to Yi in a power struggle to lose the leader’s post and is waiting for his chance to make a comeback.

Yan finds Yi in cahoots with Enunch to get rid of Lian Huan. She realizes that Lian Huan is hiding in their home cellar but she doesn’t expose him because she doesn’t approve of their deeds. Po Jun doesn’t reveal their relationship but he still imparts his skills to Lian Huan. Lian Huan discovers that Yi is the culprit and vows to kill him. Lian Huan brings a silk handkerchief given by Po Jun to see Liu Ying. Liu Ying was in love with Po Jun and gave birth to Ban Wan. But he can’t forget his first wife and dumps her. She doesn’t give up and waits for his return. Liu Ying tries to save Po Jun but fails.

She finally gets him out but he is unmoved. Ban Wan announces that she will marry another male slave to spite back at Lian Huan. But he is firm not to marry her to upset her. Lian Huan tries to kill Yi on the wedding day and fails so he brings Yan as hostage to the golden snake cave. Yan isn’t afraid of Lian Huan and gives in to him but he doesn’t appreciate it.

It is Er’s death anniversary and Lian Hua practices his skills to forget the pain. He goes berserk instead and rapes Yan. Yan is bitter over it and he is so remorseful that he wants to kill himself. She stops him and both fall in love. Yan falls ill and he takes care of her. Yi and Tian Ming bring the 8 sects to rescue her. On the way, he retreats upon knowing that Ren wants to rebel. He defeats Ren and Ren escapes. (This part sure reminds me of what happens in ‘The Crimson Sabre’)

Tian Ming forces Yan to kill herself. Lian Huan is injured by Yi while trying to stop them and falls into the frozen pool. The couple falls into the pool and are no longer in danger. Yan decides to take care of Lian Huan. Lian Huan is determined to stay alive because of her. Tian Ming is humiliated when Yan runs to Lian Huan earlier and hates Lian Huan even more. Yi wants him to get rid of Sha Tian Ba sect but Ban Wan tricks him into getting captured.

Tian Ming is attracted by Ban Wan's beauty. She wants to make use of him to control the Xia Hou family to attack the west sects. Tian Ming is under her control after they sleep for the night. Lian Huan and Yan go to the capital to seek for the truth. Both love each other even more. Yan is labeled as a slut by others but she bears with it. Ban Wan announces her affair with Tian Ming to get expelled from the sect. This is to gain his trust but he doesn’t wish Yi to know about his misdeeds and hides her in the mountain stockage.

Fei Xue seeks revenge wherever Lian Huan goes and he is troubled. Yan feels that she adds burden to him and leaves. She meets Tian Ming on the way and he forces her to kill herself again. Lian Huan worries about her safety and saves her in time. Tian Ming is angry that he is defeated and vows to seek revenge. Ban Wan also gives the same reaction after knowing this. Lian Huan and Yan become closer after this ordeal.

Tian Ming is lured by Ban Wan to get Yi to impart the ‘9 turn skills’ to him. Yi rejects him, lying that he will lose control easily. Tian Ming is disappointed and spends his time indulging in leisure with Ban Wan. Lain Huan gets into Eunuch Ca’s room and finds out that Shou Yi is once a palace guard. Feng Xue is still angry for failing to kill Lian Huan. Yi lies that he is practicing the ‘9 turn skills’ to lure the traitor out.

Yan thinks that Yi is dead and returns to find that she is deceived. She declares in front of Tian Ming that she never regrets what she has done. Tian Ming is humiliated totally. He hates Lian Huan but is wary of his skills. Ban Wan sees the two and commands him to kill Yan, reminding him of his promise. He refuses and she moves a step back, wanting him to take Yan and her as his wives.

Lian Huan replies that he will rather die than doing this. She is so angry that she joins forces with Tian Ming and wants to kill him. Lian Huan discovers that Yan is pregnant with his child and brings her back to golden snake cave. Yi forces Po Jun to tell him the secret of ‘9 turn skills’ but he refuses to say a word. Liu Ying manages to move Po Jun but he wants her to do something for him.

Tian Ming becomes the sect leader but is controlled by Yi. He decides to dispose him secretly to get away from his control. Yi finds Lian Huan’s whereabouts but Po Jun and Liu Ying save him on time. Liu Ying thinks that she can have a peaceful life with Po Jun after this but he rejects her. Po Jun is poisoned and Liu Ying cures him. Zhi Zai is trapped by love but he forgets his hatred to help her to heal Po Jun.

Tian Ming seizes Yan and wants to torture her. Lian Huan saves her in time but Ban Wan pretends to give him a satchet as a gift. It is poisoned and he loses his skills. She is about to give herself to him when Zhi Zai stops her to reveal that both are half-siblings (This part must have been borrowed from ‘Reincarnated’). Shou Yi adopts Lian Huan but has regarded him as a prince so he doesn’t complain about sacrificing just to keep him alive. He is Po Jun’s son.

Liu Ying stops Ban Wan from killing Lian Huan. Ban Wan can’t accept this harsh reality and hates everyone. Lian Huan reunites with Yan and notices that she is weak. She suffers from serious inner injuries and all advise him to look for the medicine king for a cure. Po Jun recovers and leaves with Zhi Zai. The medicine king agrees to help the couple upon seeing the two being so much in love with each other. Lian Huan discovers that Fei Xue has the antidote and begs her for it.

She wants him to take a poison in exchange and he agrees. Po Jun wants Lian Huan to seek revenge and lures him away to kill Yan to frame Tian Ming. Po Jun learns that Yan is pregnant before he wants to kill her. He is later captured by Tian Ming while trying to protect Yan. Po Jun is trapped in the cellar and sees Liu Ying being tortured by Ban Wan. He can’t swallow this but has no way to stop her.

Tian Ming uses Po Jun as a bait to lure Lian Huan to Sha Tian Ba sect. Tian Ming doesn’t want him to die easily and wants Ban Wan to kill him but Ban Wan lets him off because she loves him. Yan is tortured but believes that Lian Huan will save her so she endures the torture. Lian Huan meets Ban Wan and she begs him to be with her (this is disgusting, right?) but he is firm to be with Yan and upsets her again.

Zhi Zai comes to Sha Tian Ba sect and sees Liu Ying in a coma. He saves her out but she still asks him to save Po Jun before she dies. Po Jun wants to stop Lian Huan from being trapped by killing himself but it is too late. Zhi Zai saves Lian Huan but is seriously injured. Lian Huan is maimed on the hands and legs. Tian Ming forces Ban Wan to kill Lian Huan to make himself happy. But Ban Wan is so remorseful over Liu Ying’s death that she becomes mad.

Yan sees Lian Huan’s ‘body’ missing but believes that he is still alive. Tian Ming is commanded by the court to eliminate the Xia Hou family and Sha Tian Ba sect to prevent Lian Huan’s parentage from being leaked. Ban Wan is the sect leader but Tian Ming is reluctant to hurt her so he destroys her skills to keep her beside him. Ban Wan is mad and often reveals how much she loves Lian Wan (This woman is surely mad!). Tian Ming is pained and transfers his grief to torture Yan.

Tian Ming is trapped by his own evil nature. The pugilistic world suddenly has Lian Huan appearing everywhere. Xia hou family becomes wary and gives Tian Ming a lot of discomfort. He can’t even recall what he has done. Tian Ming wants Ban Wan to acknowledge his presence but she is cold to him. Tian Ming turns to be mad like her. Lian Huan is seriously injured but Zhi Zai and Fei Xue save him.

Tian Ming becomes the pugilistic world leader. On his coronation day, Lian Huan appears to disturb him and he reveals all his wrongdoings. The 4 killers want to kill him but get killed instead. He becomes mad and wishes to kill Lian Huan and Ban Wan. Well, as much as you have guessed, Tian Ming and Ban Wan die while Lian Huan and Yan are reunited.

Introduction on characters

1. Xie Lian Huan – Cheng Ekin
As usual, you can expect Ekin to look chivalrous and unfeeling as the swordsman. But I like the new pair up of him with Kar Lai. It can be boring to see him either with Chung Ling or Siu Bing in period dramas. Surprisingly, they pair up quite well.

2. Long Zheng/Ying Tian Ming – Yin Yeung Ming
Besides Ekin, he is the only other person who acts well in here as the villain. Who doesn’t hate him for changing his surname and staying with the Xia Hou family? Revenge has clouded his mind and it is understandable that he hates Lian Huan as he has taken two women away from him who should belong to him. What more humiliation does he need to put up with?

3. Xia Hou Yi – Cheung Yik (Tiet Shou in ATV version of ‘The Four Constables’)
His evil side isn’t shown properly so I don’t really like it. It’s simply too superficial.

4. Long Shou Yi – Chu Tiet Wo
To save his young master, he does all he have done. Bringing up this spoiled master is no easy task but to end his life and Long’s life to save him, I don’t see the need. What is wrong is he doesn’t explain his intention so Er dies without knowing why while Zheng makes a drastic change.

5. Xie Po Jun – Liu Jiang
I find him very selfish. He only thinks of restoring his own authority and makes use of the others around him. From Liu Ying, Zhi Zai and even his own son Lian Huan! But at least he has done one sensible thing in trying to protect Yan from harm – otherwise he will lose his grandchild.

6. Ren Zhi Zai – Choi Kok Kuen (as Superintendent Chen Gui in "Criminal Investigators 2")
I never expect him to be in a period drama so my eyes nearly popped out upon seeing him. He is only passable here, I guess he is not used to acting in a period drama.

7. Eunuch Cao – Lee Shing Cheung
Fantastic! Convincing! What else can I say – he delivers such a fine performance.

8. Yue Ban Wan – Law Wai Kuen
She is not just willful. She is simply impossible. She should stop once Lian Huan is uninterested in her. To use a male slave to arouse his jealousy only invites more displeasure from him. To pester him non-stop and force him into bed with her is another disgracing act. Not knowing when to stop even after knowing that they are siblings leaves me speechless – is this possible? I feel totally disgusted although Wai Kuen still looks pretty in the costume.

I am surprised that Wai Kuen plays a supporting role here. This is the last serial that she made for TVB. Many adore her periodic look and I thought she would make a wonderful couple with Ekin. I expected to see chemistry between them. But it turns out that the producer only wishes to make use of her overseas popularity to promote this serial. I will not deny that she acts well with Yeung Ming. But I can’t help feeling sorry that she is here just to guide Kar Lai to be the lead.

9. Long Er – Leung Pui Hu
Er is pretty and gentle. Unlike Zheng, she is very understanding and forgiving. Pui Hu is amazingly pretty and acts quite well, although it is only a brief show of her face. Her periodic look is quite sweet and her tragic death spells sympathy. No wonder Lian Huan can’t get over her and turns berserk when he practices his skills because he simply misses her too much. This is the second time that I see her acting with Ekin as a couple. The first was ‘Fan Dou Wai Lung’ which Siu Mei Kei also acted in it as his love interest. But what a pity as both don’t end up together in both dramas!

10. Feng Fei Xue – Choi Kar Lei
She is a victim who became a widow because of Lian Huan's hatred. She is out for his life from then onwards. Lian Huan is remorseful to her and gives in to her. To seek her help to save Yan, he is willing to give up his life. She forgives him and even helps him when his skills are destroyed. Her acting is okay.

11. Xia Hou Yan – Pang Kar Lai
She is the lead in the serial but there is nothing to say about her. Her character is the same as Wen Yi in ‘The Blood Btained Sword’ – defying her clan to be with Lian Huan and getting pregnant out of wedlock. And also she knows no martial arts – how can there be so much coincidence? The only difference is that she suffers a lot more under Tian Ming’s hands before she can be together with Lian Huan.

Kar Lai is a singer and many feel that she has the flair for acting. However, she is not used to playing a period maiden – what’s more as a demure lady? She is quite tall and it also takes time for her to warm up to her role with Ekin but I must confess that they look matching together. She does have the periodic look and fortunately, Ekin has a tall build. If not, who will believe that Yan knows no martial arts??

12. Chu Liu Ying – Mah Ching Yee
Sha Tian Ba sect’s leader. She loves Po Jun all her life and thinks that she can win his heart. But alas, this man only loves his first wife and has no space for her in his heart. This is still so despite her saving him repeatedly. He leaves her to let her bring up Ban Wan alone. This woman is too perfect – she doesn’t blame Ban Wan for torturing her till death. Even before dying, she still worries about Po Jun’s safety. It seems that she only lives for others. This is not possible.

Most favourite character
Lian Huan for not succumbing to failure easily.

Most hated character
Tian Ming for forsaking everything to seek revenge. He is sure spineless to depend on others!

Songs

The theme song is ‘a verse without dreams – wu meng de shi’ by Kar Lai and Cheung Chi Kong (He acts as the silly lawyer in ‘War of the Genders’ and the deaf lawyer Eric in "Files of Justice"). The subtheme song ‘float - piao’ is by Kar Lai while ‘only thinking of her – Zhi xiang yi ge ta’ is by Ekin. I like the themesong very much. Kar Lai’s singing is quite good. But I feel that Ekin should stick to acting or probably this song is unsuitable for him. It is simply too modern.

Interesting facts

This serial was shown after midnight in Hong Kong. It was said that it was only made to let viewers overseas to rent the tapes and it doesn’t matter when it was shown in Hong Kong since Wai Kuen left TVB. The rating wasn’t good because many disliked the story. Many complained that it was illogical. I felt the same as the producer really did a bad job too.

Comments

I would say that this serial tests all Mou Hap fans on their memory on all Jin Yong on Gu Long serials. Why? Because the producer is so lazy and simply gets pieces and patches from here and there! What has actually gone wrong with such a wonderful cast? Let’s see below:

The part where Lian Huan grows up with Er and arouses Zheng’s jealousy to involve external forces to crush Long Men. This is the same as ‘The Smiling Proud Wanderer’ where Ping Zhi does the same to Chong and Ling Shan. Yi’s character is similar to Yue Bu Qun in ‘The Smiling Proud Wanderer’.

The fued between Po Jun, Liu Ying and Zhi Zai reminds me of the complicated relationship of Monk Yi Deng, Zhou Bo Tong and Ying Gu too. Po Jun being forced to reveal the martial arts secret in the cellar is the same as Xie Xun’s adventure too. The way he reunites with Lian Huan is similar to how Xie acknowledges Zhang Wu Ji too in ‘Heavenly Sword, Dragon Sabre’.

The love hate relationship between Lian Huan and Ban Wan makes me recall how the twins face in ‘The Twins’. The difference is that both of them belong to a different gender. Lian Huan abducting Yan to fall for her later is a total copy cat from ‘The Blood Stained Sword’ where Xia Xue Yi does the same to Wen Yi. Sigh – it is no wonder that after the 90s, TVB reduced period drama productions because they lack confidence.

Conclusion

I was completely tricked by the title. ‘Jin She Lang Jun’ means the golden snake swordsman and I thought it refers to Xia Xue Yi. Lian Huan has nothing to do with him – not even with the sword but only the manual! Isn’t this absurd?

There is no creativity in this drama at all. At first, I thought a good cast might be able to save a good plot. This serial proved me wrong with all the nonsensical facts. This was the time in the 90s where most producers push the blame to all the characters to do all evil deeds by claiming that they are mad – regardless of modern and period dramas. Let’s recall – some examples are ‘The Link’, ‘The Intangible Truth’, ‘Racing Peak’ and also ‘The Edge of Righteous’.

This is no excuse – or rather a lame reason if you ask me. It is unexplainable on why the villains turn so bad. The transformations in Ban Wan and Tian Ming are simply stupid. Becoming half-mad or totally mad doesn’t imply that their feelings are completely immune to do something so brutal and inhuman. Especially Ban Wan who tortures Liu Ying because she hates her for bearing her as Lian Huan’s sister.

I must say that it was a bad period for me to watch all these (or perhaps many more) dramas which run in the same pattern. That is why I don’t feel like writing reviews for them. This serial is exceptional because Ekin is in it. Ekin’s fans might be interested to get it if they are eager to see him in action as he seldom does or only makes cameo appearances in period dramas now.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : ***1/2 (Scale of 5) (for the sake of the cast who worked so hard but tried in vain to save this failing story)

On story : **1/2 (Scale of 5)


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