The New Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber

Reviewed by: hkopinions

April 01, 2007

Rating: five

Co Gai Do Long 1986 (Vietnamese Title)

***Names in parenthesis indicate Vietnamese name***

Tony Leung as Cheung Mo Kei (Truong Vo Ky)
Kitty Lai as Chiu Ming/Zhao Min (Trieu Minh)
Sheren Tang as Chow Chi Yuerk/Zhou Zhiruo (Chou Chi Nhuoc)
Maggie Siu as Siu Ciu/Xiao Zhou (Tieu Sieu)
Simon Yam as Cheung Chiu San (Truong Thuyet Son)
Carol Dodo Cheng as Yin Susu/ Yan So So (So So)

This version of the "New Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber" (NHSDS) is the best version. Although this version was made in 1986, I could still watch it over and over again. When I heard that a newer version was to be made, "The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber 2000", I was very excited. However, when I saw that Lawrence Ng was to be cast as Cheung Mo Kei, I was disappointed since he is too old. The 1986 version still outshines all of the other versions unlike the "Legend of the Condor Heroes 1994" (LOCH). In this version, almost every character performed their best and the story follows closer to the novel than other versions.

The story:
Probably everyone knows the story already. NHSDS is the final part in the Condor Trilogy following LOCH and Return of the Condor Heroes (ROCH). This summary is very brief and skips many details. The story is about the possession of two treasures, the Dragon Saber and the Heavenly Sword, which had belonged to the hero in ROCH, Yang Guo. The series starts out with the parent generation of Cheung Mo Kei. Simon Yam portrays Cheung Chiu San and Carol Dodo Cheng portrays Yan So So. Simon is part of the ?Seven Swordsman of Mo Dong? and Carol is part of the Ming Sect. By chance, the two meet and fall in love. They meet the Golden-Maned Lion, Tse Sun, and become stranded on Fire-Ice Island with him. Simon and Carol get married and Tse Sun becomes the godfather of their son, Cheung Mo Kei. The four are stuck on the island for 10 years. Simon, Carol, and their son leave the island and return to China. Tse Sun didn?t want to leave because everyone wanted to kill him since he murdered many before in the past. When they return to China, everyone wanted to know the whereabouts of Tse Sun so they can get the saber. Simon and Carol commit suicide because of some misunderstanding. Mo Kei gets wounded and is in critical condition. Mo Kei is taken to be cured by a Ming Sect member.

Years later, the doctor that tries to cure him dies and Mo Kei is chased into a cave by some people who wanted to know where his godfather is. Tony Leung now plays Mo Kei. While in the cave, Mo Kei finds a powerful kung fu manual that helps cure his poison. Tony leaves the cave and meets Chow Chi Yuerk (Sheren Tsang) and his cousin. He later encounters Siu Ciu (Maggie Siu) and the two are stuck in a hidden cave. There, Mo Kei learns the powerful kung fu of the Ming Sect. He stops the war between the sects and becomes the Ming Sect leader. Later on, Mo Kei meets Chiu Ming (Kitty Lai), a Mongolian princess, and falls in love with her. Meanwhile, Chi Yuerk steals the Dragon Saber and Heavenly Sword and opens the treasures inside. Chiu Ming, leaves her home and follow Mo Kei. At the end, Mo Kei chooses between four girls: Siu Ciu, his cousin, Chi Yuerk, and Chiu Ming. Of course, he chose Chiu Ming. Mo Kei leaves the Ming Sect and lives happily ever after with her.

This version follows very closely to the book, so the story flows smoothly. The plot is great and easily followed with some background of LOCH and ROCH.

Tony Leung
Tony Leung did a great job has Mo Kei, probably the best out of all the other versions, not counting the movie starring Jet Li. Tony portrayed a character pulled into hatred because of misunderstandings from the past. However, Tony shows very little emotions since Mo Kei is a very simple character. Mo Kei has the weight of the world on his shoulders and always wants to do the right thing. He is loyal, intelligent, but at the same time gullible about women. He has great chemistry with Kitty, although not with Maggie.

Kitty Lai
Kitty Lai did a wonder job as Chiu Ming. She portrayed a spoiled, smart, and beautiful girl who falls for Mo Kei. Their chemistry was great. Romantic scenes of Chiu Ming and Mo Kei are very funny and heartbreaking. Kitty portrayed the playful and cunning side of Chiu Ming, but at the same time shows that Chiu Ming is indeed a romantic and can become righteous.

Sheren Tang
Sheren also did a great job of being Chi Yuerk. At the beginning, she is the kindest girl in the entire series. She was sweet and innocent, but as the story progresses, Sheren turns to evil because of her love for Mo Kei. The ending of Chi Yuerk is very sad. I can?t help but feel sorry for her.

Costumes, scenery, and special effects:
Back in the 80s, I can?t say there were any good special effects. Although the series can?t match up to the 2000 version in special effects, the 1986 version outshines it for any other reasons. The costumes were very beautiful, especially Chiu Ming?s clothes. The scenery was quite disappointing though if compared to newer versions. Most of the sceneries were fake with a fake sky in the background. I guess it was hard for them to film the series outside. There were many good fighting scenes, especially scenes with Tony. The themesong was pretty good. It had that certain vibe to it and matched perfectly with the story. The sub themesong was also very moving.

A little history:
The "New Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber" is the final part of the Condor Trilogy. It takes place about 1330-1360. In part one of the Condor Trilogy, Legend of the Condor Hero, Kwok Jing helps protect China from Chingis Khan. In part two, the Return of the Condor Hero, Yang Guo becomes a famous kung fu master and unearths the treasure of Kim Mo Dok Gu Kau Bie. The sword was very heavy but helped Yang Guo become stronger when he lost his arm. At the end of ROCH, China falls to the Mongolians. Yang Guo and Xiao Long Nu disappear to live a normal life. Yang Guo?s sword is given to Kwok Jing and Huang Rong. They make two weapons out of it, the Dragon Saber and the Heavenly Sword. In the Dragon Saber, Kwok Jing hides war tactics and formations. In the Heavenly Sword, Kwok Jing hides the most powerful kung fu pursued by everyone in LOCH. The Mongolian rule started in 1260 AD. Many years later, the two treasures passed from one owner to the next and finally come into the possession of Tse Sun.

Mo Kei becomes the lucky guy to possess these treasures at the end. Mo Kei becomes the Ming Sect leader about 1340s or 1350s. The Ming Sect is united and wages rebellions against a collapsing Yuan dynasty. Mo Kei gives up being sect leader to be with Chiu Ming. He would have become emperor of the China?s dynasty if he stayed. A new Ming Sect leader was chosen and in 1368 he chased out the Mongolians and established the Ming dynasty. Although most of the characters of the Condor Trilogy were fictional, Jing Yong did a great job of tying the heroes to historical events making the Condor Trilogy the most popular series of all time.

Watch it or forget it:
Definitely watch it. Even if you are not a fan of the Condor Trilogy, this series is most likely the best Kung fu/sword fighting series of all time.

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