Top 10 Martial Arts ATV Dramas of the 80's

*Written by sukting

ATV realized that in order to survive, they had to do something different from TVB. They shifted their focus to shoot historical dramas or other martial arts works under the management of a new boss. I am sad that ATV has declined this past decade and resorted to either showing other countries' works or repeating the old dramas - there is no way to restore its past glory now. In addition, as TVB shot almost all Jin Yong works, they looked for Liang Yu Sheng or Wen Rui An's works. Most dramas turned out fine as they are also memorable today. The most successful screen mou hap couple was Lau Chung Yan and Mai Shuet/Mai Shuet and Man Tse Leung. Most songs were sung by Yip Chun Tong, Cheung Tak Lan and Lau Ying Hung. Lo Kar Leung also lends his voice to two ATV dramas which were also hits then. All songs are still well-remembered today.

10. Taiji Master II 1981

A continuation from Taiji master that settles the feud between Cheung Sam Fung (Man Tse Leung) and Fok Du (Yueng Chak Lam). It also centers on Prince Chu Yee Mun (Cheung Kok Wing), a rich lady Sam Sheung Sheung (Chan Sau Mun) and pugilist expert Far Man Chi (Lee Ying).


9. Princess Chang Ping 1981

It tells of the sad story of the fall of Ming Dynasty. Princess Chang Ping (Mai Shuet) was engaged to Chow Sai Yin (Lau Chung Yan) but a swordsman Yuen Yok Fei (Chiang Dai Wai) also likes her instead of her sister Chiu Yan (Yu On On). So the confusing love-hate relationship continues.


8. The Young Dowager 1983

It shot Lau Suet Wah to stardom as Wai Yuk Lan. Ng Wai Kok as Prince Yik Sam was also memorable. It tells of how Ci Xi struggles in the palace with the help of Empress Chi On (Mak Chui Han) against Su Shun (Wong Wai) after the death of Emperor Xian Feng (stage actor Wong Chiu Yee)


7. Empress Wu 1984

It also revived Fung Bo Bo's stagnant career then. TVB had underestimated her trying to make a comeback and did not expect this drama to be an instant hit. Empress Wu (Fung Bo Bo) had Yu Mun Chun (Poon Chi Mun) and Ming Chung Yin (Lau Wing) as advisers to pit against Sheung Goon Yee (See Ma Wah Long), a faithful official of Emperor Lee Sai Mun (Kong Hon). Lau Wing's role was later switched to Tsang Wai Kuen's hands as he had trouble with his divorce to injure his ex-wife's face and had to flee to Taiwan. Viewers did complain that there was a gap in acting but I feel that it was unfair to Tsang as he was a newcomer then.


6. Taiji Master 1980

It tells about the rise of Cheung Sam Fung (Man Tse Leung) after he is expelled from Shaolin. He befriends the twin Mongolian princess sisters, Tou Choi Yee and Kam Mei Nai (Mai Shuet). In order to save the Ming dynasty from turmoil, he has to agree reluctantly to spar with his Mongolian friend Ko Mai Lai (Mak Tin Yan) and enemy, Ha Chi Yee (Cheung Lui).


5. Young Wong Fei Hung 1981

If you like real punches like the drunken fist, you will like this drama. It has a strong cast. Wong Fei Hung (Wong Yuen Sang) is often in mischief and trouble till his father’s death. He becomes more scholar-like and focuses on medical healing to inherit the medical hall left by his father. The death of his ex-beloved Tam Jing (Cheng Mun Ngar) triggers his fight with 5 opponents for the final showdown. Lau Ying Hung sang the themesong and subtheme songs besides making a cameo appearance as one of the villains who knows how to hypothesize in order to defeat her opponents. You will miss a lot in mou hap dramas if you miss how Wong shows off his powers here.


4. Emperor Qin 1986

Lau Wing made a comeback after his divorce was settled. TVB suffered a big setback when this drama was shown. ATV really splurged in their resources this time to shoot it in China, which subsequently to many other ATV dramas to be shot there too for the natural scenery. The beginning shots of Lui Buk Wai (Wong Wai) and Chiu Kei (Bao Hei Jing) were already engaging as they tried to keep their affair a secret but later they discovered that there was no need to hide the pregnancy as their baby was born after 13 months. Lui got Kei to marry the crown prince so that their son could become the emperor and he could be the prime minister. Emperor Qin (Lau Wing) rises to power but had a lonely ending when he catches a glimpse of the great wall which he has built before his death. Song was by Lo Kar Leung and he worshiped Wong Wai for his acting and waited for a long chance before they worked together in TVB.


3. The Four Constables 1984

It was the first time ATV adapted Wen Rui An’s work on the four constables. Up to this day, many find Mou Qing (Ng Wai Kok), Tsui Ming (Leung Siu Long), Tiet Shau (Cheung Yik) and Lang Huet (Lai Hon Chi) unforgettable. Each has something special as a weapon – the metal fan, leg, fist and sword. And yes, their master, Marquis Chu Kot (Tung Piew) is their mentor to solve problems together with them. Ho Kar King came in as a cameo appearance as Lek Gun as he injured his leg and could not act as Tsui Ming. But he was adamant to be part of the drama as he did not want to miss this precious opportunity with such a fine cast that ATV came up with this role to satisfy his wish.


2. Ping Chung Hap Ying Luk 1985

TVB was slower than ATV in shooting dramas adapted from Liang Yu Sheng only in the 90s. ATV bought the rights to shoot 'The Bride With White Hair', 'The Jade Bow' and 'Ping Chung Hap Ying Luk'. Liang was repeatedly satisfied with the effects as they are truthful to the novel. He loved this version of 'Ping Chung Hap Ying Luk' most. Who doesn't like the pair swinging their swords together as one? Cheung Dan Fung (Lau Chung Yan) and Wan Lui (Mai Shuet) are lovers and also enemies. They face a lot of obstacles in order to forget their family feuds and country disputes to be together. Song was memorable by Lo Kar Leung and Chow Ying.


1. Dynasty 1980

This is my top favourite drama of the 80s. Many might be surprised by my choice - why not a drama by Mai Shuet and Lau Chung Yan? Because this drama really describes well the love hate relationship between Lui Sei Niong (Mai Shuet) and Yung Cheng (Man Tse Leung). Throw in Tsang Jing (Chiang Dai Wai) and Bak Tai Gun (Ling Mun Hoi) - it becomes a complicated love rectangle. Plus the fourteenth prince (Ng Wai Kok) - they also attribute to the power struggle in court. Hon Chong (Leung Siu Long) is in love with Yuk Yin (Ngai Chau Wah) but she is married to Nien Gan Yiu (Yeung Chak Lam). This drama has the most cases of unrequited love. The flying guillotine is a legendary Chinese ranged weapon used during the reign of the Yong Zheng Emperor in the Qing Dynasty. It is put to maximum use here to show how it is so fearful to all. Although it is a whole length of 60 episodes, it is not like the long-winded Chor Lau Heung but is thrilling from the start to the end. Coincidentally, Mai Shuet's other onscreen lovers are also in this drama. That makes it unique from the other dramas.


Check out the Top 10 Martial Arts ATV Dramas of the 70s!

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