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Thread: After 36 years, taking the SPW '84 plunge beginning Monday, 10/19/2020

  1. #101
    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Episode 25:

    Lam Ping Tze truly is emerging as a tragic hero of this story. Don't focus too much on the term "hero"; focus on the "tragic." He truly fits the definition of "tragic" in the classical, literary sense.

    What is a classical tragical hero? In literature, this archetype begins as a noble, respectable, basically decent person, but due to some deep flaw in his personality, makes a fatal decision (or a series of them) that leads to his downfall, which usually also implicates those who matter to him.

    Lam Ping Tze checks all those boxes. His desire for revenge drove him to learn the Pik Che Sword Technique, which drove him mad. Alas, it cost him everything, but he doesn't seem to realize it.

    I can't fathom Ngok Ling San's continuing devotion to him. It's even worse than Muk Lim Chi's misplaced devotion to Yeung Hong in LOCH. Looks like she's going to buy it very soon.

    I had a feeling Tzor Lang Sim wasn't done, and he isn't. Looks like he and Ngok But Kwun are on a collision course, and out there waiting in the wings is Yam Ngor Hang.

  2. #102
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    Episode 26:

    The final week begins! I'm not sure yet if I'll be sorry when the series is over or relieved that it's done. I'll tell you that at the end of the week if I have it figured out by then.

    RIP Ngok Ling San and her mom, Madame Ngok. I don't think I'm going to miss Ngok Ling San much. I don't necessarily dislike her, but her character just doesn't interest me. As far as I can tell, she's the most generic, "paint-by-numbers" wuxia female protagonist of all time...almost more of a facilitator of the plot than a character in her own right. Part of the problem is Jamie Chik: a nice enough lady, and definitely very pretty, but her acting as this character has not impressed me. To be fair, I believe this was her first leading role. Perhaps she just hadn't found her comfort zone as an actress yet.

    I will miss Madame Ngok, though. She was a classy lady who deserved better.

    Looks like we're headed to a confrontation between Yam Ngor Hang and Ngok But Kwun. One unusual thing about SPW compared to other Jin Yong stories is that the final confrontation is villain vs. villain. It's usually heroes vs. villains, but this time, it's villain vs. villain with our heroes caught in between. That's an interestingly unusual dynamic, so plus points for that.

    Either Heung Mun Teen is an even better fighter than I thought, or Ngok But Kwun even with Pik Che Sword Technique is totally overrated. Heung was able to hold his own against Pik Che-using Ngok But Kwun, and if Heung and Ling Wu Chung really went at Ngok But Kwun together, I think they would have made mincemeat out of Ngok, Pik Che or no Pik Che. I have a feeling that Yam Ngor Hang is going to kick Ngok's a$$ in their confrontation.

    SURPRISE REAPPEARANCE BY FUNG CHING YEUNG! I wasn't expecting to see him again, but he pwnd Pik Che-wielding Ngok But Kwun cold.

    These epic events get weirdly sidetracked (as only SPW '84 can) for developments about No Commandments Monk and...apparently his wife? I didn't mind because it's quite a hilarious sidetrack, but why at THIS point, near the end of the series when the major plotline is supposed to be building to a climax? This is a weird time to go on this sidetrack, which to me, would have been more suitable for the first half of the series.

  3. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    Looks like we're headed to a confrontation between Yam Ngor Hang and Ngok But Kwun. One unusual thing about SPW compared to other Jin Yong stories is that the final confrontation is villain vs. villain. It's usually heroes vs. villains, but this time, it's villain vs. villain with our heroes caught in between. That's an interestingly unusual dynamic, so plus points for that.
    This part was made up by TVB, and was not in the original novel.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    Either Heung Mun Teen is an even better fighter than I thought, or Ngok But Kwun even with Pik Che Sword Technique is totally overrated. Heung was able to hold his own against Pik Che-using Ngok But Kwun, and if Heung and Ling Wu Chung really went at Ngok But Kwun together, I think they would have made mincemeat out of Ngok, Pik Che or no Pik Che. I have a feeling that Yam Ngor Hang is going to kick Ngok's a$$ in their confrontation.
    In the novel, LHC fought YBQ alone, and defeated him after figuring out the weakness in his Bixie swordplay. But then he turned around to free Yingying, and got stabbed from behind (surprise, surprise...). By the way, this was one of the times where his superior inner strength protected him by deflecting the path of the sword, so he wasn't injured too badly.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    SURPRISE REAPPEARANCE BY FUNG CHING YEUNG! I wasn't expecting to see him again, but he pwnd Pik Che-wielding Ngok But Kwun cold.
    TVB.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    These epic events get weirdly sidetracked (as only SPW '84 can) for developments about No Commandments Monk and...apparently his wife? I didn't mind because it's quite a hilarious sidetrack, but why at THIS point, near the end of the series when the major plotline is supposed to be building to a climax? This is a weird time to go on this sidetrack, which to me, would have been more suitable for the first half of the series.
    Now this was in the novel. It felt a little out-of-place in the novel too, but it keeps with the overall tone of the story, which is still upbeat and humorous, despite all the tragic events that have occurred. SPW '84 by contrast feels all grim and dour, with the humour forced.

  4. #104
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    Episode 27:

    Well, the first half of this episode might be the best part of the series overall. The whole story of the No Commandments Monk and his wife was a delightful farce, and it seemed like the actors actually enjoyed performing this sequence.

    No Commandments Monk's wife's martial arts seem quite formidable. In the last two episodes, she was able to get the drop on and neutralize her husband, Tian Bak Gwong, Ling Wu Chung, and Yam Ying Ying. Not an easy feat to pull off. Of course, Ling Wu Chung and Yam Ying Ying were able to turn this same trick on her later on.

    I laughed my a$$ off throughout this part, and I was almost disappointed when the episode returned to the main storyline halfway through.

    Yam Ngor Hang offered Ling Wu Chung the position of Deputy Cult Leader of the Sun Moon Sect (Ling Wu Chung certainly gets big jobs easily; by the end, I expect that he will have taken or been offered leadership positions in at least three different wulin sects). For reasons that only wulin heroes fully understand, he declined...much as Gwok Jing once declined to become the "Lord of Sung" when Genghis Khan offered him Princess Hua Jeng's hand in marriage. It's a principle thing, I get it...but in Ling Wu Chung's case, if he thought bigger, this was great opportunity to reform the Sun Moon Cult and establish better relations between the cult and mainstream wulin's sects, much as Cheung Mo Gei did with the Ming Cult in HSDS. Yam Ngor Hang was an old man; his demise wasn't far off. Once Yam dies, Ling Wu Chung begins the new Sun Moon Cult Leader. In the short run, it could be embarrassing for LWC as the mainstream wulin sects would misconstrue him for a traitor, but as soon as YNH dies and LWC becomes the Sun Moon Cult Leader, he can reform the cult in his own image and establish better relations with mainstream wulin. Of course, time wasn't necessarily on LWC's side: YNH was old, but not on his deathbed just yet, and he was about to lead a major offensive against the Five Swords Alliance and even mainstream wulin powerhouses such as Shaolin and Mo Dong. Quite a dilemma...and quite similar to what Gwok Jing was up against in LOCH when Genghis Khan made him that offer he couldn't (but ultimately did) refuse.

  5. #105
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    Episode 28:

    A solid episode with plenty of action and, for once in this series, a pretty straightforward narrative that doesn't go to any strange places. Continuity editing, however, looks like it's going to be the defining weakness of this series.

    I sometimes wonder if Chow Yun Fat was being paid a heavy rate by the minute for his appearance in this series, because it sure goes out of its way to limit Ling Wu Chung's scenes.

    Anyway...

    Heung Mun Teen is an honorable guy, but his loyalty to Yam Ngor Hang is misplaced.

    Speaking of which, if there's a moral to SPW, it seems to be that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Dung Fong But Bai, Yam Ngor Hang, Ngok But Kwun, Tzor Lang Sim...they all lusted for power and betrayed all ethics to acquire it, and they all turned out to be terrible people

    So we got our Yam Ngor Hang vs. Ngok But Kwun confrontation (two episodes before the finale), and Yam Ngor Hang proved to be the superior fighter (Pik Che Sword Technique looks flashy, but it hasn't won a single fight yet against truly elite fighters). Unfortunately for him, an untimely solar eclipse caused some kind of fire deviation in his Kup Sing Dai Fat, snatching victory out of his hands.

  6. #106
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    Episode 29:

    Penultimate episode.

    I've mainly got one thing to say about this episode: Director. Clarence. Fok. Has. The. Worst. Case. Of. A.D.D. Ever.

    The director of this series is better known for the movie THE NAKED KILLER (1992). I've never seen that movie, but if it's directed like this series, I don't think I'll ever want to.

    Notes: we finally find out what happened to Tzor Lang Sim and Lam Ping Tze.

    Tomorrow is the final episode. Not that there haven't been any fun moments with this series, but I think I'll be relieved that it's over. I can't handle any more of this broken, extreme A.D.D. continuity. NO WONDER the actors didn't seem into their work with this series.

  7. #107
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    Episode 30:

    Well, the not so grand finale.

    The final episode seemed to be an extended stalling operation for the final confrontation between Ling Wu Chung and Ngok But Kwun, which was far too short, and in the end, the kill shot was taken by...Yee Lam (of all people)?!

    A disappointing end to a disappointing series.

    I don't feel that I wasted my time watching this series. It was worth going through once, but ONLY once. I do not foresee myself revisiting this series. At some point, I will likely try out the 90s version just to get a (reputedly) more proper treatment of this story.

    Notes:

    Chief Abbot Fong Jing said that the Qwai Fa Bo Deen was originally Shaolin property. Was it really? It was created by a palace eunuch who didn't have squat to do with Shaolin. It's just like the 9 Yeung Jen Ging being "Shaolin property." Shaolin didn't invent that either, how do they claim it as theirs? At this rate, Yik Gun Ging (OK, that one is legit), 9 Yeung Jen Ging (?), and Qwai Fa Bo Deen (?!) are all Shaolin property...more or less.

    Final Grade for this series: C-/D+

    As benchmarks, LOCH '82 was an A, ROCH '83 was a B+, HSDS '86 was an A-, and DGSD was a B+, so yeah, SPW '84 was pretty dire.

  8. #108
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    One final note: the story of Kuk Yeung and Lau Jing Fung and their musical composition, which gave this story its NAME, ended up having to do JACK ALL with the main plot of the story. I thought that would eventually have some payoff somewhere at the end, but nope...it was totally irrelevant at the end. If that whole subplot and the Kuk and Lau characters didn't exist, this story essentially wouldn't be any different.

  9. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    One final note: the story of Kuk Yeung and Lau Jing Fung and their musical composition, which gave this story its NAME, ended up having to do JACK ALL with the main plot of the story. I thought that would eventually have some payoff somewhere at the end, but nope...it was totally irrelevant at the end. If that whole subplot and the Kuk and Lau characters didn't exist, this story essentially wouldn't be any different.
    The composition itself wasn't that important - it was the symbolism that mattered. XAJH's main theme is politics, but there is also the struggle between politicians and what Jinyong calls 'yinshi' (隱士) - those who want to live apart from politics and just want to spend their time with people of similar interests. This pervades the entire novel - e.g. Liu Zhengfeng and Qu Yang became friends despite being on opposite factions due to their common love of music, but were torn apart by ZLC's machinations. The four friends of Jiangnan wanted to live quietly pursuing their hobbies away from all the power struggles of the cult, but were ultimately drawn back in. Linghu Chong and Ren Yingying were also 'yinshi' who wanted to live their lives freely apart from all the politics, but unlike the others, they actually managed to overcome the odds despite being from opposite factions and become a happily married couple. In effect, they fulfilled the wishes of LZF and QY when they composed the tune - to be able to live life according to their own desires free from the influence of politics. They played the tune at their wedding (with many guests from both 'good' and 'evil' factions), effectively closing the circle started near the beginning of the story. SPW '84 royally screwed this part up - it is obvious that the producers and screen-writers had taken only a very superficial look at the original novel.

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