This adaptation of Legend of the Condor Shooting Heroes is based on Jin Yong’s famous book first published in the 1950s-60s. This story of adventure, friendship, love and justice spans fifty episodes almost an hour long. With an amazing director, crew and cast debuting outstanding acting, it’s no wonder the series was well received when it was released.
The story follows a young boy named Guo Jing who, having his family torn apart by struggles between the Jin and Song and its pugilist world, is raised by his mother under the Great Khan’s protection in the Mongolian desert. Having been taught martial arts by the Jiangnan Six Freaks, who hopes to reunite with his long lost sworn brother Yang Kang and take revenge on his father’s conspirators against the Jin. However, the burden placed on Guo Jing’s shoulders is weighty and a long journey awaits him as he travels south to his homeland. Guo Jing soon meets Huang Rong, a clever and mischievousness girl with an… interesting background. The two of them encounter many great heroes and villains, undercover pugilist and political secrets, level battlefields and even fall in love. Through struggle and hardship, Guo Jing comes to understand the importance of power, the difficulties of justice and what it truly means to be a hero.
Of all the ancient Chinese series that I’ve watched (and I’ve watched a lot of them), this one, by far, outshines the rest and for a number of reasons. First of all, the cast is incredibly well assembled. Hu Ge truly captures the essence of Guo Jing’s simpleminded naiveté and expresses his character’s change from a silly lad into a man of integrity and honour. Hu Ge’s acting is simply flawless. Likewise, his leading lady Ariel Lin truly steps up to the role. With her subtle glances, nuances, and impish expressions, she casts a new and lively dimension to Huang Rong playful character without overshadowing the maturity of her intelligence and capabilities of her skills. Though there have been many adaptations and many Guo Jings and Huang Rongs, I feel that Hu Ge and Ariel Lin provide a truly new and refreshing interpretation on the characters not seen since the days of black and white adaptations.
As well, Cecilia Liu has gained popularity since her role as the kind-hearted and honest Mu Nian Ci. Justin Yuan, cast as Yang Kang, the character that foils Guo Jing, portrayed him immensely well. I don’t think anyone else could have exposed Yang Kang’s personality as well as Yuan did, especially with the changes to the plot and his character. The story modifies Yang Kang’s character into something of an anti-hero archetype, struggling to find his own place in the world of heroes and villains, trying to identify himself with his world that has come crashing down piece by piece after the shocking reveal of a truth hidden away for eighteen years.
There are many debates on the modifications of the storyline but the characters themselves but I cannot stress enough the cast. Other notable performances include Bryan Leung as the Northern Begger Hong Qigong, Li Yu’s fun-loving but loyal character Zhou Botong, Li Jie as the suave and stylish Ouyang Ke, and Anthony Wong as Huang Yaoshi for his eccentric but epic moments.
This is my favourite Jin Yong story not only because of its classic adventure plot, themes or cast but also because of the production company. Chinese Entertainment Shanghai always produces amazing ancient Chinese and wuxia adaptations of Chinese stories that recently include The Vigilantes in Masks (or Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei), Scarlet Heart (or Startling Each Step), Xuan Yuan Sword: Scar of the Sky and many others. If you understand mandarin and watch the original version you’ll get the original performances of cast with their rightful voices. If you don’t understand mandarin, popular ancient Chinese series have been fan-subbed and are available online. If you want the Cantonese version it will be slightly harder to find but not impossible.
This is the sixth time that I have watched this series and if you’re a history buff like me, I highly recommend you to give it a try.I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it! Since this is my favourite series, you can expect more LOCH-related posts and rants to come! Till next time!
What are you pondering today?