The Righteous Guards


Reviewed by: sukting

March 09, 2008

Rating: four

50 episodes

Cast :
Zhao Tian Hao - Di Lung
Zhao Qi Ying - Ying Xiao Wei
Zhao Meng Jiao - Lin Xiu Ling
Sima Bu Ping - Yuen Biao/Long Shao Qiang
Zheng Qing Shan - Yeung Chung Yan (formerly from ATV)/ Li Zhi Xi
Xin Lan - Yu Ke Xin (Lau Tak Wah's ex-girlfriend)
Yang Yun Yi - Long Long
Hu Tu - Wu Ma

Others - unknown although I long very much to know them

Introduction :

This Taiwanese production sparkled my interest in watching Taiwanese period dramas. Unfortunately, I can't find the VCDs in Singapore. I really like the story although many parts are longwinded with flashbacks, with the artistes unknown and also a limited budget causing extras to appear repeatedly, even after death. Hopefully this can answer some of Tammy's questions too in her review.

This serial's VCDs are difficult to get and thus the long review/synopsis below. Hopefully Tammy will not blame me for spilling the beans.

Story :

The Rise of Yan Ling

Zhong Yuan Agency is set up by three sworn brothers, Zhao Tian Hao, Lei Da Gang and Yang Yun Yi. Zhao Tian Hao has 3 daughters, Qi Ying, Meng Jiao and Yan Ling. Da Gang has an orphan, Qing Shan from his childhood sweetheart but nevertheless treats him as his own. Yun Yi and his wife Wan Xia are childless as Wan Xia is very weak. Nevertheless, they treat the four as their own children. The three sisters have different personalities. Qi Ying is mature, quiet and wise. Meng Jiao is outspoken, bad-tempered and reckless. Yan Ling is neglected since young and is never taught martial arts.

As expected, Qing Shan falls for Qi Ying while Meng Jiao likes him. However, Qing Ying is still waiting for her fianc� to fetch her all these years and has not given up the hope of seeing him. Tian Hao has already arranged her to marry a friend's son, Cai Han Yin but this man still doesn't turn up till now. Qing Shan has hoped that he will NEVER turn up so that he will get his chance. Too bad, Da Gang always has the wrong impression that Qing Shan likes Meng Jian and tries to match them together. This act is done to Meng Jiao's delight and Qing Shan's dismay.

Yan Ling is not given the chance to run the household. Why? Tian Hao blames her for causing her mother's death to go through a difficult labour. Moreover, his late wife, Xin Mei, has wished their third child to be a scholar and lead a safe life unlike the elder sisters who have to brave dangers with their father. But alas, Tian Hao is so disappointed that their last child turns out to be a daughter but still tries to fulfil his promise. He engages a tutor to teach her poetry. He even tries to avoid Yan Ling every now and then because she resembles Xin Mei so much in looks. Firm as he may seem, Tian Hao still misses Xin Mei all these years and often takes out her flute to admire to rekindle his memory. However, Yan Ling has no interest in this area and longs to learn martial arts.

Her health was weak since young but her aunt Xin Lan gives her a manual in Qinggong that helps to build up her foundation. Knowing that her father will never agree to it but seeing how Yan Ling longs to learn, Qi Ying lures her to the forest daily and pretends to practise skills on her own. In actual fact, she goes through every stroke in detail to make her understand. To her surprise, Yan Ling is talented and soon she masters most of her skills. Qi Ying is happy and she is not jealous that Yan Ling may surpass her.

Here comes a young pugilist. Sima Bu Ping is a nosy fellow in upholding justice who can't tolerate unfairness in the world. That is why many dislike him so much as he shows no mercy in killing or destroying their skills. He is an orphan and is brought up by his uncle, who is good in marital arts. However, his uncle dies due to an illness. He is always unhappy that he loses to Tian Hao in a duel and presses Bu Ping to work hard. On one occasion, Bu Ping can't stand Meng Jiao's arrogance and breaks her hairpin.

Meng Jiao informs her father about Bu Ping's presence. Tian Hao warns all not to fight with Bu Ping as he is superior in skills. Yan Ling doesn't join in the discussion and doesn't know this story. She still practises the skills on her own but fails. Bu Ping passes by the forest and tells her the mistake, being the nosy fellow he is. Yan Ling scolds him when he is there but follows his instruction when he leaves (Actually he still hides himself behind a tree to observe her and praises her in his heart for being a rare talent). Slowly, he realises that he has fallen in love with her.

Bu Ping has a duel with Tian Hao. He injures Tian Hao's arm but he is unhappy as Tian Hao deliberately does this. Bu Ping doesn't know that Yan Ling is Tian Ho's daughter although he looks for her in the forest daily. These parts are sure hilarious. When he doesn't show himself, Yan Ling begins to miss him. But when he is there, she becomes frustrated and tries to chase him away. Of course, she fails in every attempt and Bu Ping even teaches her his special stroke.

One day, Meng Jiao discovers her practising secretly and challenges her. Yan Ling uses Bu Ping's stroke which makes Tian Hao know about this. Tian Hao is very angry after knowing this and Yan Ling is upset to keep calling herself as the 'redundant' child. She questions him why he treats her so harshly even though she tries so hard to please him. Qi Ying and Xin Lan beg him to let her off. After looking into her face that reminds him of his dead wife, he weeps and let her go. After Yan Ling saves a servant from a fire with him, Tian Hao changes his mind and teaches her martial arts personally.

Bu Ping is upset upon knowing that Yan Ling is his enemy's daughter after he asks her about her name one day. He decides to leave the city but later stays to help Tian Hao in secret after knowing the presence of his assassins. When Yan Ling knows that he injures Tian Hao before this, she is very angry with him and chases him away. How does she get to know about his identity? She is attacked by Tang Shan Shan's maids. She is at a losing end so Bu Ping hurries to her aid. Both women tell Bu Ping to mind his own business before fleeing. She is so mad that she has told him everything about her identity but he isn't frank with her. Xin Lan comforts her and tells her about her past. She does the same to her lover and he is killed in a duel. He never gets to see her again and now she only has his secret manual for company.

After his departure, another guy, Ouyang Wu Di comes along. This man is equally arrogant as Bu Ping with his skills - from his name invincible. He points out Yan Ling's weakness and offers to teach her his skills - that is to fight with opponents from behind without looking. However, Yan Ling treats him differently from the way she treats Sima. She will follow Bu Ping's advice but simply ignores Wu Di!

When sparring with her, Wu Di smiles when she is at the losing end but he turns stern when he can hardly avoid Bu Ping's stroke. Yan Ling then replies that since she can fend herself with his stroke, there isn't any need for her to learn other things. Wu Di is amused but knows that she masters this from someone and longs to meet the person. I really laugh at the way that he tries several times to lure her with his flute music but she keeps on practising her skills in the forest, knowing his tactic and ignoring it!

Bu Ping leaves the city sadly because he has helped his 'enemy' and also loves his daughter. He feels that he has betrayed his uncle's trust in him. But he is ambushed in an attack and is disfigured. He is saved by a priestess and his face is changed to another. (This extra simply lacks the ability to be the lead). Later Bu Ping returns as Sima Wu Qing ( I don't know why he must change his name- I like the name Bu Ping better) because he can't suppress his feelings for Yan Ling anymore. Of course, he is dismayed that he has a love rival, Wu Di, this time. However, both still maintain good ties.

There are a number of adventures which I will describe below. Do let me know of any mistakes as I watched it long ago. Some are long-winded so I cut them short.

Revenge - the flute mystery


Yan Ling befriends a man, Hen Xiao Ke, who is in search of his brother Yun Fei. He becomes a friend of hers after teaching her certain skills. A few people are killed by the flute killer and Tian Hao gets so angered that he breaks Xin Mei's flute as well. One day, Da Gang is poisoned and is dying. Tian Hao has no choice but has to go for a duel with the master of the Gold Sword mansion in exchange of the antidote. Yan Ling worries about it and asks Bu Ping for help. Bu Ping is glad that Yan Ling forgives him but he is hesitant as he has no right to stop it. Both men still continue the duel and Tian Hao wins. Anyway, Yan Ling is thankful for Bu Ping's warnings and both still reconcile in the end.

Tang San San, impersonates as a man pretends to be 'Hao Xin Ren' but she actually wants to kill the whole Zhao family for wiping off her own family. However, the culprit is her foster father, Tang Da Qian (by Li Zhi Qi). Tang likes her mother all along but hates her for marrying his cousin so he kills both. Tang is formerly Tian Hao's friend who is a handsome and talented man. He plays the flute and zither well. Moreover, he is also skilful in calligraphy. On the day of Tian Hao's marriage, he even composes a musical piece for the couple. Later he is surrounded by the sect leaders and has no means of escape.

So Tian Hao thinks that he is dead after Tang falls from a cliff. Xin Mei even recomposes Da qian's lyrics to remind Tian Hao to be cautious in making friends in future. Tian Hao knows Da Qian before knowing his sworn brothers and thus the two doesn't know the presence of Da Qian. Da Qian survives the fall but he is disfigured and becomes a hunchback. Shan Shan gets 'Hen Xiao Ke''s brother Yun Fei to play the flute so that he can distract them for killing. After knowing the truth, all combine efforts to kill when Tang tries to rape Shan Shan. Yun Fei dies while trying to protect his brother and Shan Shan becomes a nun.

Revenge - the tragedy

A boring story on how an orphan Yuan Xiao Die tries to look for her father's killer with Zhong Yuan Agency's help. She is dismayed to find that her mother is still alive and staying with her enemy, Gong Sun Tai. Gong Sun Tai has pretended to be a friend of her family and kills her father so that he can get Mrs Yuan. Their loyal servant manages to save Xiao Die and brings her up. Mrs Yuan even falls for Gong Sun Tai and kills herself upon knowing the truth. During Xiao Die's stay with the Zhaos, Yang Yun Yi and Wan Xia really adore her and later keep her as their daughter.

The story is predictable and boring but there are twists in the plot, which will interest many. Gong Sun Tai gets many to help him out to harass Zhong Yuan Agency to stop them from uncovering the truth. One of them is the old Swordsman Qing Ping. He has owed Gong Sun Tai a favour and has to help him unwillingly. His young wife - so young to be his granddaughter, gets along very well with Yan Ling. Yun Yi knows that he is in a dilemma and he helps to nurse his sickly wife back to health. Being grateful, he decides not to help Gong Sun Tai anymore.

Another will be the ruthless white vixen. She is well versed in poison and many have fallen into her traps repeatedly. Even Wu Qing and Wu Di are tricked. Wu Qing manages to throw himself into the sea in time to disperse the poison but Wu Di only gets to find a small stream. He has no time to force out the poison when the enemies come close to attack him. Fortunately, Yan Ling passes by and tries to defend him with her weak skills. Later Wu Di manages to save her in time and is grateful to her.

Wu Jian mansion organises a meeting with all the sect leaders. The three leaders from Zhong Yuan Agency try to unmask Gong Sun Tai's evil mask but this cunning man manages to cover all his tracks. They head for home unhappily, are poisoned and lose their skills. Da Gang is seriously injured when trying to protect his sworn brothers. Enraged, Tian Hao suppresses the poison, runs after one of the culprits and kills him. But alas, on his return, he finds a grief-stricken Yun Yi beside Da Gang's body. Both men are so upset. On their way back, Yun Yi even kneels and asks for Tian Hao's forgiveness for causing Da Gang's death. Tian Hao is also remorseful and doesn't know how to break the sad news to Qing Shan.

This part is weird - I am astonished and confused to find Li Zhi Qi here as Qing Shan instead of Yeung Chung Yan! Isn't he supposed to be Tang Da Qian earlier�but never mind - who cares as long as he acts well???? Qing Shan awakens from his sleep as a nightmare bothers him. The next day, he still practises his sword skills in the garden as usual but somehow he feels uneasy. Normally he is never worried when his master goes on trips. This time round, he has a feeling that something tragic will happen.

When Meng Jiao informs him that they are back, he hurries to the hall with her, thinking that his fears are unfound. To his dismay, he finds the two old men and Qi Ying in tears. There lies Da Gang's coffin with his weapon on top of it. Qing Shan can't accept the harsh truth and kneels to cry, clinging over the coffin until he nearly faints. Normally I will despise men who cry but there is an exception for this scene. It really shows the sworn brothers' and disciple's love towards Da Gang. The three actors have done an excellent job. All vow to seek revenge for him.

The level-headed Qing Shan starts to seek the killer gang rashly. Meng Jiao is worried and follows him. They do meet up with the gang and are outnumbered. Meng Jiao is dismayed as she sees Qing Shan dropping his sword and tying himself up calmly but she follows. When the killers are caught off-guard, he surprises them and attacks them secretly. At first, the two old men tail the young secretly as they are afraid that they will get into trouble. After seeing that Qing Shan has matured (but Meng Jiao has not), they are relieved that he hasn't lost his senses and is able to analyse calmly during difficult situations.

Wu Di and Wu Qing meet up and become friends. But still they are so interested in sparring with one another to see who will get the enemy first. I really laugh at the part on how they pursue the white vixen. The poor woman stands at the centre of them like a bait. Both wait for her to cross to one of the sides to see who will get to attack her. She keeps on moving in both directions, making them happy and then frowning! This is very hilarious! Later, Wu Qing subdues her and is taken aback when he uncovers her veil. She is the priestess! The white vixen attacks him unexpectedly. But later the priestess manages to save him when he is too shocked and not prepared to deal with the attack. Both women are actually twins so both men decide to destroy her skills to repay the priestess's kindness.

Rivalry between Han Yin and Qing Shan

This part is also weird. The dead Yun Fei comes alive again as Cai Han Yin. This TV station is really lacking of people. Han Yin has wanted to spend more years to master his skills. So he tries all means to make up excuses not to visit his fianc�e to propose for marriage. His servant, Hu Tu, is getting old and is angry with his young master. He finally drags him to Zhong Yuan Agency. All welcome him with open arms, except Qing Shan. His hopes are completely shattered and he is of course impatient with Meng Jiao who nags around him constantly about the pair. Han Yin finally meets Qi Ying and regrets not meeting her earlier.

Tian Hao decides to pick on the top escort for the agency. Qing Shan and Han Yin get into the final round. Being impatient, Qing Shan hurts one of his colleague accidentally with his sword. He feels remorseful but upon knowing that Han Yin is his next opponent, his anger returns. He uses all the deadly strokes but both still end up in a draw. They become the top escort together. Han Yin doesn't mind, the sisters are pleased but Qing Shan is not. He is disappointed for having to share the honour with him. Meng Jiao is usually very hot-tempered but seeing that he is in a foul mood, she tries to be gentle to him under Hu Tu's advice.

The Blood Palm Gang

One rich woman hires Zhong Yuan Agency to escort carts of gold. In the midst, they are being attacked. Han Yin shows up a medal that Hu Tu gives him before they set off. Surprisingly, all flee quickly and all don't know the reason why. They return home with a confused mind. Han Yin tries to get the details from Hu Tu. Hu Tu says the medal is given to him by Swordsman Wan. Wan is a well-known top pugilist who is well respected by all. Wan owes him a favour and gives him the medal for protection.

Hu Tu plays catching with Yan Ling in the garden. She is dismayed that she can't get him. With his hints, she manages to understand some of the doubts in the skills that she has been practising. Both become good friends. But somehow, Yan Ling feels that he knows martial arts and tells Xiao Die her doubts.

Tian Hao finally checks that The Blood Palm Gang is the mastermind of the trouble. However, he finds the leader, Old Jin an upright man and doesn't understand why this happens. His son, young Jin is a man of lust who is very arrogant. One day, he set eyes on Yan Ling and wants to marry her. Enraged, Yan Ling and Xiao Die wound him and cause him to suffer from minor injuries. If not for yun yi, he man will suffer more. But his henchman, Yn Peng comes at this time to add another blow to maim his young master. Why? To create discord among the two sects.

12 years ago, Yin Peng is a handsome man working for Zhong Yuan Agency. He is very scheming and vicious. He kills some of the agency's men for the gold and money that they are supposed to escort. Enraged, Tian Hao disfigures him and leaves a very deep scar on his face. With his good looks destroyed, he plans for revenge. Tian Hao plants a spy in Blood Palm sect but his identity is discovered. He is killed and Yin Peng sends his head back to Tian Hao. Tian Hao is so upset that he decides to attack them.

Upon arrival, Tian Hao sees Yin Peng and regrets not killing him 12 years ago. Both sect clash and Yin Peng loses. Yin Peng runs for his life and pleads for mercy when he loses to Wu Qing and Wu Di. Both men are careless to let him off - this man creates so much trouble later for all.

Young Jin is so seriously injured that he becomes a cripple and can't walk or talk anymore. Old Jin thinks that the two women are the cause of his plight under Yin Peng's information and confronts Tian Hao. He demands Xiao Die to marry his son as compensation. The two women, deny, of course for injuring him seriously and are puzzled why this happens. Yan Ling even remarks that he must have offended other women to end up in sorry state. Xiao Die refuses the proposal.

Old Jin challenges Tian Hao into a duel. Strange that he accepts - as Yun Yi should be the one as he is the father. Maybe he doesn't wish to belittle the old man. In the midst of the duel, the gold medal appears again. Swordsman Wan doesn't appear despite their requests. The dispute ends here. Han Yin questions Hu Tu again but he says that he can't recall where he keeps the medal.

Change in Qing Shan

Qing Shan finds Han Yin a nice man but jealousy clouds his mind. Han Yin marries Qi Ying. Qing Shan is devastated and gets himself drunk. He mistakens Meng Jiao for Qi Ying and spends the night with her. The poor man wakes up and regrets what he has done. Meng Jiao doesn't know his love for her sister and promises to change for the better.

Qing Shan pours out his grief near a stream. He throws the marble that Qi Ying has given him as a child which he has kept for so many years. After that, he practises his skills there. Unknown to him, Yin Peng is hiding and sees how Qing Shan has decided to make use of Meng Jiao to spite back at Qi Ying. He is impressed with his ruthlessness and martial arts skills. Tian Hao actually knows that Qing Shan likes Qi Ying and he discusses with Yun Yi.Yun Yi is stunned as he never knows that his sworn brother can be so observant. But upon seeing how well he gets along with Meng Jiao, Tian Hao thinks that Qing Shan has placed the past behind him. Yun Yi is still doubtful and is worried although Wan Xia chides him for being over suspicious as Qing Shan should be righteous as he is brought up by Da Gang.

After seeing how much Tian Hao trusts Han Yin now, Qing Shan betrays Zhong Yuan Agency. Citing an excuse to bring Meng Jiao to see his friend in another province, he secretly gets his friend to steal the goods from Qi Ying and Han Yin. However, before they can strike, Yin Peng's gang grabs half the lot as he tails the couple. They manage to get hold of the other half. Qing Shan even writes a letter to Castle Sha under Han Yin's name to create discord among the two sects. Master Sha's disciples find fault with Han Yin and Qi Ying. They injure them slightly but both are dead later. The two men are killed by Qing Shan to frame Han Yin again. The couple can't do the explanation and flee. Master Sha demands an explanation from Tian Hao. They finally agree to give him 3 days to find out the culprit.

All set off to find Yin Peng. Worrying about Yan Ling's safety, Wu Qing and Wu Di follow suit. On the way, they are stopped by Madam Sword. She demands them to stay away from the city for 100 days. Madam Sword is very skilful and those who get comments from her will benefit. She points out their weaknesses and they are impressed. But still, they refuse to leave the city as they suspect her to be a foe of Tian Hao. All can't find Yin Peng so Hu Tu tells Yan Ling and Xiao Die how to deal with Castle Sha's men later. They have a duel with two top opponents and are at a losing end. Suddenly, they hear someone's voice in telling them the strokes to use to beat their opponents. Master Sha is angered but still gives an infinite date for them to solve the mystery.

The two ladies pester Hu Tu to let them meet Master Wan to thank him personally. Hu Tu says bitterly that tragedy will strike when Master Wan shows his face so both do not probe further. Their conversation is overheard by Qing Shan. Qing Shan is angered that Han Yin has such strong support from Master Wan.Yun Yi checks on who may be the traitor from the agency. He finds out 2 suspects - one is an escort who hasn't return from his hometown. Another will be Qing Shan who is away at the same time and Wu Xi is near the province Han Yin and Qi Ying escort the goods. Yun Yi tells Qi Ying his suspicion and wants Qi Ying to sound Meng Jiao out.

Meng Jiao replies that Qing Shan is with her all the time. But later, she recalls that he isn't with her for 2 days. She asks Qing Shan and he gives an excuse. However, he is alarmed upon knowing that qi ying asks her about their trip. Yin Peng blackmails Qing Shan. Qing Shan tries to kill him but he is no match for him. He has no choice but to work with him. With revenge burning in his heart, he starts killing more people and framing Han Yin. Tian Hao is very puzzled over this as Han Yin just joins them and who will bear a grudge against him? Many think that Yin Peng is involved in this.

Seeing how much trouble has created, Wu Di and Wu Qing decide to track Yin Peng down but on the way they keep crossing swords with Madam Sword's men. Madam Sword has 12 pairs of sword attendants and they have met 3 pairs so far. Both men are puzzled that the 3 pairs still lose to them as Madam Sword has definitely mentioned their weaknesses to them. However, they have no answer.

Later Madam Sword visits Zhong Yuan Agency. She and Tian Hao are lovers in the past and she bears a grudge against him for forsaking her. She has intended to create trouble for them at first. However, she is impressed by Yan Ling's nice personality and her sword skills. This helps to end their dispute.

Upon knowing Qing Shan misdeed, Yun Yi is heart broken when Qing Shan even tries to kill him with Yin Peng's help. Luckily, he manages to use his wits to escape from them. Yun Yi knows Qing Shan's feelings for Qi Ying. But as Da Gang tries to bring Qing Shan and Meng Jiao together repeatedly, he doesn't want to dampen his sworn brother's spirits and simply ignore this. Upon mentioning this to Tian Hao, both men are remorseful for only knowing how to accommodate Da Gang. They have no choice but to give orders to pursue Qing Shan. Qing Shan escapes and leads a fugitive life with Yin Peng.

Later both are cornered by Zhong Yuan Agency, Wu Qing and Wu Di in a mountain. Both men are at their wits' end as they don't have food and water. To save his own skin, Qing Shan kills Yin Peng. He later tries to persuade Meng Jiao to let him off. But Meng Jiao feels the anguish by his betrayal that she kills him with her own hands. Qing Shan doesn't expect this and dies in front of her. All are alarmed by this act when they see his blood over her face. The two sworn brothers regret not showing him enough concern. It is still a consolation for her as she doesn't know that Qing Shan doesn't love her at all and the rest decide to keep the truth from her in order not to upset her further.

Tian Hao in jail

Xiao Die watches Hu Tu in secret. But the alert Hu Tu gets caught by Yan Ling this time. He doesn't wish to show his skills in front of her. Xiao Die practises her skills, gets seriously injured and loses all her skills in the end. Yan Ling is very upset as there isn't any cure.

Tian Hao offends Yan Song and his son. As a result, he is thrown into jail. Yan Song's son, Yan Ping is very highly skilled - even Wu Di or Wu Qing isn't his match! His soft snake sword proves to be a very powerful weapon that both can't subdue him. They even try to think of ways to deal with his strokes before they sleep but to no avail. Both men are troubled as they foresee that something drastic will happen to the agency. The Imperial bodyguard, Wang is out to wipe out Zhong Yuan Agency. He uses unscrupulous methods - poisons Yun Yi's palm and Yun Yi loses his skills in the end. Yan Ling is enraged and has a duel with him. Swordsman Wan helps her secretly and Wang loses. He flees but vows to return. Yan Ling decides to find her own ways to save her father. All in the agency assist her and accompany her to the capital. Well - sorry to disappoint all but I really don't know how Tian Hao is out of prison because the story ends here! There should be a part 2 but I haven't watched it. What a pity!

Best Actor

Li Zhi Qi is the winner. The change in Qing Shan is very dramatic and he has so many episodes to show off his powerful acting. He shows his jealousy and hatred so well. The main obstacle is that he has an ugly long fringe. I don't know why I miss him more as Tang Da Qian. He is excellent as the handsome but revengeful man - more charming with a flute and dressed in white. With a smile that shows his pearlish white teeth, all are puzzled on why his cousin doesn't marry him. Many will simply love his Dai Hup look upon seeing it. Of course, he also tricks our eyes being a successful old and ugly hunchback later!

A close second is Yuen Biao. If not for the less development of the role because of him leaving the scene, he is my first choice. I simply adore the playful smiles that he throws at Yan Ling when teasing her. With others, he is so cool but with her, he can't stop making fun of her! His stances are swift, steady and powerful that simply mesmerizes me. His reserve, Long Shao Qiang is sure bad - plain looking, too serious and is boring!!!! How I miss him. If he still appears to the end, he will make a strong love rival!

The third will be the actor as Ouyang Wu Di but I don't know his name. He is equally playful and yet witty as Wu Di. Many will find him as formidable as Bu Ping in his swordsplay. No wonder - at first Yan Ling only likes Bu Ping. Later she finds herself liking Wu Di too. Well, what to do - Wu Qing isn't as impressive as Bu Ping in the first place!

Best Supporting Actor

Many may say that Di Long is the one but I like Long Long in here. He is more natural in showing his wits and chivalry. Who can deny his presence when he is always there to answer questions? With a fan, he looks like a well-versed scholar. Di Long tends to look fake at times in being upright.Moreover, he should attempt to lose some weight before taking up the role.

Best Actress

Yang Li Qing is simply perfect in this role. Beautiful, cute, playful and smart, she makes us forget her age - she should be in her 30s but she looks so young here! Many emotional and fighting scenes don't pose a threat to her. Too bad she isn't as famous as Michelle Yeoh Chi Keng.

Best Supporting Actress

Lin Xiu Ling as Meng Jiao. I find her acting out Meng Jiao's fiery temper and her trying to accommodate Qing Shan well. There is an unforgettable scene of her practising her skills in the garden by herself. She recalls how she practises with Qing Shan and she nearly goes berserk. Luckily, she is stopped by Qi Ying and both hug each other, crying. Many will feel sorry for her plight to kill Qing Shan with her own hands.

Another will be Ying Xiao Wei as Qi Ying. She is very likeable as the caring and understanding eldest sister.

Who can't act?

The extras - they are so bad that you will know why they are MEANT to be extras.

Interesting/Exciting scenes

All scenes of Yan Ling with Bu Ping together (not Long Shao Qiang definitely but Yuen Biao as him). Both have good chemistry together. Yuen Biao has placed in his best for the role - his stances are very good - not losing to Chiu Mun Chiok. Even Yan Ling tries to chase him away, he is concerned over her learning progress and will hide behind a tree to observe her. Many moments, Yan Ling is impatient in waiting for him, half-wondering whether he will come to meet her. However, all will laugh till they roll to the ground upon seeing how this usually cool and ruthless Dai Hup rushes to meet her. Yan Ling will then pretend to be angry with him but will smile at him later. How sweet it is!

The scenes where Yan Ling masters her skills. To train her as his successor, Tian Hao gives her tough assignments to accomplish. First to separate the red beans from the green beans with a pair of chopsticks. Later to split all the beans into two using a sword when the beans are released from a bamboo. Yang Li Qing is very impressive and shows her stances gracefully as she has Chinese dancing background.

All the healthy competitions between Wu Qing and Wu Di. I really laugh at them. When they eye on someone, the poor villain is taken as an item to see who is higher skilled. When one spars with the opponent, another will watch by the side with hands getting itchy every minute and saying, 'You had your turn, now it's mine!' They don't quarrel on who should start first. Very often, Wu Di will tear two pieces of grasses into his hand. The person who gets the longer one will start first. Very amusing indeed!

And what happens to the poor pawn in the end? These two men are forgiving most of the time to the servants working their inhuman masters to let them off with minor injuries. But when they meet villains, they will not hesitate to destroy their skills or main them in the end. (They usually end up losing an arm or send the fellow crawling all the way back).

How they sleep is also an eye-opening scene. Wu Qing will sleep on benches which are only placed horizontally below his head and legs. Wu Di sleeps with his legs tied to the ceiling! No wonder their sword skills are equally weird.

They walk side by side and yet when they eat in the inn, they sit back to back at different tables. But their anxiety for Yan Ling's safety is so clearly shown. When she deals with Wang on her own, they get very worried and are always on guard, holding their hands on their swords. When she is nearly hit by his stroke, both really warn her at the same time to be careful!

Flaws

Too many flashbacks in talking about the past. I get so bored with the long conversations at times. Why must they chit-chat for so long before crossing swords with each other?

Another will be the confusion of the replacement of new actors over the initial choices. It looks weird that some extras come alive again as new characters. I took some time to get used to the change. But the most eye-opening part is the replacement of Yuen Biao and Yeung Chung Yan. Li Zhi Qi is good but Long Shao Qiang for Yuen Biao is obviously a bad choice! He is too plain looking and whenever he stands beside Wu Di, I feel the urge to tell Yan Ling to choose Wu Di instead and she needn't be troubled over the two men. Wu Di is playful, comical and also better looking. Wu Qing is too serious and plain! Sigh - it will be better if the producer can rope in Ho Kar King to star as Wu Qing. He will be an excellent worthy love rival with superb skills plus acting.

I think they also owe Yu Ke Xin her acting fees too. How to explain her disappearance suddenly? Tian Hao says that upon seeing that has Yan Ling grown up, she decides to return to her old village.

Interesting Facts :

There is a version shown made in 1976 which became a direct hit with viewers in SEA. But it is very longwinded with 265 episodes! Viewers were at first attracted to Zhang Ling as Yan Ling. However, when it became a trend that people talked, fought a little and fled most of the time, all ended up complaining. TCS had to stop screening it then.

The same song was aired in the new version. It rekindles memories of the old version for the older viewers.

Di Long lost some teeth when he fell from the horse in some horse riding scenes. The horses were too wild and he found it hard to subdue them.

Wonder why Yuen Biao and Yeung Chung Yan didn't carry on acting? That's because the producer owed them their acting fees! Yuen Biao was so angry that he left right after 10 episodes. So we had missed our chances to see him as Sima Bu Ping in the later part of the serial.

Yang Li Qing got back her money but this serial took her 8 full months to complete it. She refused to star in Part 2 and the director threatened to kill all her means to survive in Taiwan. He even wanted to sue her. Yang Li Qing didn't feel that she was wrong as she didn't sign any contract. Moreover, her working schedule on other serials still carried on as usual. The director was just giving her a hoax.

Many Singapore viewers thought Part 1 was incomplete and requested for Part 2. TCS replied that they were skeptical of the quality for Part 2 and were hesitant on buying. Well, till now, I am still curious to know who are in Part 2 but I can't find the VCDs in the market.

Conclusion :

Although this serial skimps on engaging popular artistes and gets the extras to act repeatedly, it doesn't skimp on the costumes. The costumes are well tailored for everyone with striking or cool colours. It is hard to find artistes so well-dressed these days. With soft silk material and NOT those thick, rough materials that TVB artistes wear today.

Although the fighting scenes are traditional and more basic with little special effects, they are well shot at all angles. It's quite comfortable to see how they display their skills with ease. This part never disappointment 'Mou Hap' fanatics.

Sukting's ratings :

On themesong : * * * *(out of 5)

On the acting : * * * *(out of 5)

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


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