The Legend of the Condor Heroes

Reviewed by: hkopinions

January 29, 2008

Rating: three

Julian Cheung as Guo Jing
Athena Chu as Huang Rong
Gallen Lo as Yang Kang
Emily Kwan as Mu Nian Ci

This adaptation to Jing Yong's Condor Trilogy is not that bad, although compared to TVB's 1982 adaptation of "Legend of the Condor Heroes" (LOCH), it falls a bit short. The 1982 version, starring Felix Wong and Barbara Yung, is embedded into viewers' eyes. No matter if this series portrayed the characters to perfection or not, the performance by Felix and Barbara can't be matched. TVB took a big step in reproducing LOCH, especially with a relatively unknown cast of stars. In this version, Julian Cheung plays Guo Jing and Athena Chu plays Huang Rong. Julian and Athena, although not completely new to the entertainment business, were quite new to the business. However, LOCH94 brought Julian and Athena some fame and jump-started their careers even though LOCH 1994 was a total failure.

The cast
Julian did a great job in portraying Guo Jing. He was a lot cuter than Felix as Guo Jing, allowing the younger audience to accept LOCH 1994 more than LOCH 1982. However, Julian did not seem as dumb as Felix in the part of Guo Jing. I think it is probably his eyes or dimples that make Julian seem a little too smart to be Guo Jing. Athena had an even more difficult job in trying to outshine Barbara. I guess it is hard, since Barbara did such a great job as Huang Rong. Athena looked the part but she lacked chemistry with Guo Jing. Athena just didn't portray the playful Huang Rong in LOCH 1982. On the contrary, Athena and Julian did do a good job despite what critics have said about them. They had some chemistry and did do what they where told by the directors. The problem is that LOCH 1994 is much shorter than LOCH 1982. This did not allow character development for Julian and Athena. They rarely had any romantic scenes together like Barbara and Felix did. Although LOCH 1994 is much shorter, it sticks a lot closer to the book than LOCH 1982. The other cast members made the series a failure due to too many miscast. Most characters were either too old or too young to play the part. The only notable character is the guy who played Genghis Khan. He looked the part and out shined the Genghis Khan in LOCH 1982.

The story
I don't really want to retell the story since LOCH is such a popular series. Most people already know the story so I won't summarize it. LOCH 1994 follows closer to the book than LOCH 1982 did. This makes the scenes move faster and the scenes don't drag too long as in LOCH 1982 with 59 episodes. Since the series is much shorter, it is hard for the main characters to develop and the audience has a harder time adjusting to the changes. Overall, the story is better than LOCH 1982, because it is shorter with 35 episodes.

Music and special effects
The theme songs of LOCH 1994 was not as good as LOCH 1982. It was boring and too sad to listen to. The special effects were of course better than the older version since technology changes, but this version did not have an adequate budget to work with. You will be disappointed because there are very few scenes with special effects.

Budget problems
There were many setbacks that made this version of LOCH fail to win viewers: low budgets, miscast, and criticisms before the series was even released. LOCH 1994 did not receive an adequate budget compared to LOCH 1982 and other TVB series. Most scenes in LOCH 1994 were at the same location. For example, the same outdoor background, where there is a very big tree, was used over and over again. All the boat scenes were on the same boat, making LOCH 1994 repetitive, since viewers see the same scenes over and over again. Budget problems caused meager artistic creativity for the costumes. If you notice carefully, Athena only has three or four different costumes: the pink one, the green one, and the beggar costume. You can also count the overcoat Julian gives Athena as the fourth one. Even worse, costume changes were half way through the series. Julian had more costumes than Athena because he keeps changing his overcoat. Other characters had one or at most two costumes; this just shows the low budget that TVB had to work with. Another setback was that the same city street was just over and over again, just a different angles. The special effects were okay, but of course there were only two or three scenes: Julian learning kung fu and the condors.

I didn't think Julian or Athena were miscasted for their roles. They did a good job in doing what the director wanted them to do. The fault is of the other characters. Gallen Lo as Yang Kang was a miscast. He just didn't look the part especially since he didn't look like he was 20. Other miscasts include the Four Weirds, Zhou Buo Tong, and Emily Kwan. The Four Weirds and Zhou Buo Tong were supposed to be much older but TVB just create that image.

Well, even before the series aired, LOCH 1994 had many criticisms. Critics kept on comparing it to Felix's and Barbara's performance. Critics did not allow LOCH 1994 to create its own image before criticizing it. Athena and Julian had a tough time matching up to Barbara's and Felix's performance. They did not have the same chemistry as Barbara and Felix did.

A little history
Genghis Khan's real name is Temujin. Chingis was a small chief but rose into higher ranks and conquered the Steppes. The fictional character of Guo Jing was probably born around 1200-1205 AD. During this time, Guo Jing watched Chingis rise into the Great Khan of the Steppes before Guo Jing was 20 years old. Guo Jing becomes sworn brothers, andap, with Chingis' youngest son Tolui. During the time of LOCH, Chingis did not attack China because he was busy regaining control. Near his Chingis' death in 1227, were their campaigns to attack China. Guo Jing attends Chingis' funeral and makes a pack with Tolui that China won't be attacked as long as Guo Jing and Tolui are andap. China holds on to most of its borders because of Guo Jing. In the second part of the Condor Trilogy, Return of the Condor Heroes, Kubilai Khan, son of Tolui, makes an appearance and takes over China at the end of the story.

(The actor who portrayed Tolui in LOCH 1994 plays Kubilai Khan in Return of the Condor Heroes 1995.)

Best supporting actor
? as Genghis Khan

Best supporting actress

Best villain
Lam Wai as East Posion's nephew

Worst character portrayal
Lai Yui Chueng as Zhou Buo Tong ? as the Four Greats

3 out of 5 stars

Watch it or forget it
Well, if you want to see a better looking Guo Jing and a shorter interpretation of Legend of the Condor Heroes, you should watch this version. If you are a hardcore fan of the LOCH 1982, you should just skip this movie.

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