State of Divinity

Reviewed by: liubang1992

December 23, 2009

Rating: four-point-five

So this is my first T.V. series review. I wanted to do one for a while and I just recent watched State of Divinity so and totally loved it. Basically, this was an adaption of a Jin Yong novel that reflected and satirized political figures of China. Jackie Lui plays the protagonist Linghu Chong, and Fiona Leung plays the role of Ren Ying Ying, Chong's ultimate love.

SOD's story basically takes place in the martial world where various struggles for power take place. The story tells of the various roles that the characters and Linghu Chong takes place in the struggle.

1. Linghu Chong-Jackie Lui
Linghu Chong is the eldest student of the Huashan Sect. After some incidents early in the story, he is punished by his master to reflect on himself in the back caves of Huashan. Here he learns some great techniques from an elder of Huashan; however, he promised the elder not to reveal this fact. Because of this, many were suspicious of the origin of his new found skills; thus, misunderstands follow. Jackie Lui did an amazing job here as Linghu Chong. He effectively expresses Linghu Chong various emotions well. For example, when the Huashan sect was under attack, Chong glances over at his martial sister and sees her holding Lin Pingzhi's arm. His jealously and anguish is evident. On the other hand, Jackie Lui flawlessly nails the playful Linghu Chong under disguise as the general (probably one of the most hilarious scenes in the series). Basically, Jackie did an amazing job.

2. Ren Ying Ying-Fiona Leung
Ren Ying Ying is the daughter of the Son Moon Holy Cult’s former leader. She ultimately falls in love with Linghu Chong. She loves him to the point where she allows herself to be imprisoned in Shaolin to help save Linghu Chong’s life. Later she even disobeys her father due to her love for Chong.

Fiona Leung did a good job here as Ren Ying Ying. She portrays her love for Linghu Chong really well. After Linghu Chong suddenly kisses her, she slaps him; nevertheless, he couldn’t help but smile due to his charm. In short, Fiona Leung got the character down and nicely played her part well.

3. Yue Ling San-Cherie Chan
Yue Ling San is the martial sister of Linghu Chong and daughter of Yue Bu Qun and Ning Zhong Ze. Our protagonist loves her, but she only looks at him as an older brother. She ultimately falls in love with Lin Pingzhi; however, she ultimately dies a tragic death trying to prevent conflict between her husband and martial brother.

Cherie Chan disappoints here in this role. Being the woman that Linghu Chong loves so much in the beginning, her acting was just not good enough to embody that. She did not manage to capture the gracefulness that SPW 1984’s managed to do. She was never able to convince me that she was the woman that captured Linghu Chong’s heart.

4. Ling Pingzhi-Timmy Ho
Ling Pingzhi is the only son of the Ling family. His family is massacred by Yu Canghai, so he joins the Huashan Sect. He then discovers that Yue Bu Qun was only using him. He managed to obtain his family’s sword skill the Bixie Swordplay and enact revenge. He is blinded in the process and accidently kills his wife. At the end, he was imprisoned by Linghu Chong.

Timmy Ho does a satisfactory job here as the scholar turned ruthless avenger. He did fine in his acting, but he never pulled of the threatening but feminine character that Lin Pingzhi ultimately becomes

5. Yue Bu Qun-Wong Wai
Yue Bu Qun is the leader of the Huashan Sect. He is nicknamed the “Gentleman Sword”. He appears good at the beginning, but he ultimately is evil in his attempt in obtaining power. He frames Linghu Chong and even kills one of his own students in an attempt to obtain the Bixie Swordplay. He ultimately becomes leader of the Five Mountains Alliance but gets killed.

Wong Wai acted the part extremely well. One thing though that I did not like about his acting was that at certain points, it was really obvious that he was evil through his cold stares at Linghu Chong. Other than that, Wong Wai did an amazing job as the evil hypocrite.

6. Ning Zhong Ze-Lily Li
Ning Zhong Ze is the wife of Yue Bu Qun. She serves as the motherly figure to Linghu Chong. She believes in him even when all others thought that he stole the Bixie Sword Manual. She discovers her husband’s crimes but she tries to persuade him to get back on the right part; however, he doesn’t and leads to her suicide.

Lily Li did an adequate job as the wife of Yue Bu Qun. Although not outstanding, she did a decent job showing her motherly love towards Yue Ling San and Linghu Chong.

7. Zuo Leng Chan-Chan Hung Lit
Zuo Leng Chan is the leader of the Songshan Sect. Even with his skills, he still lusts after the Bixie Sword Manual. He obtains a fake version and is blinded by Yue Bu Qun; nevertheless, he doesn’t give up and attempts to ambush and kill the Five Sects students in the caves. He ultimately dies at the sword of Linghu Chong.

Chan Hung Lit did an outstanding job as the evil leader. According to the story, it was obvious that Zuo Leng Chan’s goal was absolute power. Chan Hung Lit expressed his desire very clearly and obviously. He seriously scares me at points, which is not easy to do in a 90s TVB series. By the way, I recently heard that this actor died. So RIP.

8. Yilin-He Mei Tian
Yilin is a nun that Linghu Chong saves. She loves him but she restrains herself due to her status as a Buddhist nun. She understands Linghu Chong well and saves him from the hands of Yue Bu Qun.

He Mei Tian’s portrayal is another disappointment. Although not as bad as Cherie Chan, she overemphasizes Yilin’s shyness and timidity whenever facing a situation. Not only does she do this, but she uses the same expressions. For instance, she used the exactly the same expression when Tian Bo Guang makes rude remarks at her and when he calls her sifu later on. I mean it’s one thing to be shy, but you can’t use the same expression when a guy makes comments about raping you and calling you a sifu.

9.Ren Wo Xing-Law Lok Lam
He is the leader of the Sun Moon Cult. He loses to Dongfang Bat Bai in a power struggle and is imprisoned. He escapes from prison and takes his position back. He attempts to take over the martial world but dies before his plans come to fruition.

Law Lok Lam does a good job here as the intimidating leader of the cult; however, like all others that acted as Ren Wo Xing, he placed too much emphasis on Ren Wo Xing’s intimidation factor and less emphasis on his inner warm side.

10. Xiang Wen Tian-Lau Kong
He is Ren Wo Xing’s right hand man who helps him escape imprisonment. He later becomes the leader of the cult with the death of Ren Wo Xing.

Lau Kong does a great job as Xiang Wen Tian. Being an experienced actor, he effectively portrayed his friendship towards Linghu Chong and shows his guile in his role of Ren Wo Xing’s release.

11. Tian Bo Guang- Zheng Bai Lin
Tian Bo Guang was a rapist who befriends Linghu Chong. He later gets castrated and becomes a monk.

I thought I would put this character in because I was seriously impressed by him. At the beginning, I thought his rough nature was average. But he started to shine as the monk. As the monk, he had a much more humorous side to him. My favorite part was when he was trying to rescue the nuns with his nose. According to him, he had a natural talent for smelling and hunting out women, and that the nose never failed him before.

Faithfulness to Novel
The series adheres to the novel’s original story by more than 90%. Even a lot of the dialogue was taken from the novel. Only some things I didn’t like about it was once again it was pretty obvious Yue Bu Qun was evil. But that aside, the series stuck to the novel very closely; thus, it managed to capture and project the power and characterization that the novel had.

Oh boy here it comes. Being a typical TVB series of the 90s, fighting tends to revolve on shiny lights, jumping around, and apparently electricity(Star Sucking Skill) to display the “power” of the characters; however, I did appreciate it greatly at parts where it had Linghu Chong thinking about how to counter the moves his opponents were using because that’s what his sword technique is all about.

The background was mixed well between typical TVB music and music from Ashes of Time. While the typical TVB music lightened the tone of the series with its upbeat and happy tune, the Ashes of Time music emphasized the dark mood of the series. The opening song was not great, but it was good enough. The best though was the ending song which pretty much reflects the happy and aloof attitude of Linghu Chong.

TVB gave each of the sects and cults their own unique uniform. Although it was nice, it wasn’t exactly the most beautiful thing ever on the planet. But then again, it’s TVB in the 90s. Although plain, I preferred Linghu Chong’s costumes later in the series over his baggy Huashan uniforms.

I’ve watched a lot of TVB wuxia series. Most of the new adaptations nowadays are horrible such as Crimon Sabre which butchered the plot. Although the old series killed the plot a little, it had unrivaled acting back in the day. State of Divinity 1996 had the nice balance of good acting and faithfulness to the novel. Although the fight scenes aren’t the best considering it’s a wuxia series, this is easily overlooked considering the series managed to capture both the dark and light mood of the original novel. Although not the best TVB wuxia series, it is the best adaption hands down. I give it a 4.5

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