Part 1 – Iron Blood of the Loyal Hearts
Hi guys, I hope all your septembers are going well. Whether you’re starting school or going back to school, I can relate. Today I’ve decided to upload the first of a three part review of a Chinese series that I hold very dear to my heart. Originally this was something I ranted simply because, well, I had things to say and needed to get them out. But after some thought, I have decided to post my thoughts…
This series is and isn’t part of my generation. It’s definitely an old adaptation and screened when I wasn’t even born yet! So everything I’m going to mention in this review is entirely my thoughts and my opinions alone. If you have seen the series or are familiar with the story, I would love to hear your ideas in the comments.
Now, without further ado…
Legend of the Condor Heroes can be called my favourite story of all time and because it’s been remade and retold so many times by so many different directors and casts, I’ve decided to take a look at TVB’s 1983 adaptation of Louis Cha AKA Jin Yong’s famous novel. This series stars Felix Wong as the honest and naïve Guo Jing and Barbara Yung as the mischievous and clever Huang Rong. Michael Miu plays the cunning Yang Kang and Sharon Yang is the kind-hearted Mu Nianci.
What I liked about this adaptation is that even though it was shot over a decade ago, the storytelling is still l well paced and lively enough for a re-watching in 2013. Don’t even get me starte about the music. Sung by the two greatest singers of all time, Roman Tam and Jenny Tseng (silently kow-tows), I’ve heard the songs play in my parents’ cars and around the house since I was a kid. These aren’t songs that you get tired of after one listen, these are flawless and timelessly poetic songs (that I’m tempted to rant about in a later post).
The first part comprises twenty episodes, centered on Guo Jing’s childhood in Mongolia, his encounter with the Seven Freaks of Jiangnan, Mei Chao Feng and his first steps back onto his homeland – Jiangnan. The latter part of the twenty episodes focuses on Yang Kang’s family issues, his parents’ back story and the implications of the past on the present. I didn’t imagine the first part to drag on this long. Since the series is so old, I’m not going to criHtique any of the animation and special effects, but review plot development and closely examine the characters.
Because the series is originally produced by TVB, we see a lot of familiar faces, especially if you’re like me and you’ve been watching TVB before you even know what Treehouse was. Ha Yu is cast as Qiu Chu Ji and does a fantastic job playing the pedantic and strict Taoist. However, I get the feeling if Wang Chongyang ever saw how rash and quick to jump to conclusions his student was, he wouldn’t be very pleased. Shouldn’t Taoists be as calm as a lake? Qui Chu Ji is anything but mellow.
The heavy role of the Jin Lord Wanyan Hong Lie is brought to life by Lau Kong with Yeung Tie Xin/Mu Yi and the beautiful Louise Lee serves as his counterpart Bao Xi Ruo. I have to admit that I’ve really grown to love Louise Lee as Bao Xi Ruo. We usually end up seeing Bao Xi Ruo mope and weep over the tragedies that have befallen her, but this one has more of a brain. At one point, she catches on that her son is capable of doing quite malicious deeds but because Yang Kang is still her son, she’s unable to cut all ties from him. Yang Tie Xin is also a bit more believable than the 2008 adaptation. He has no qualms about forgetting Yang Kang seeing his son has already deferred to the Jins, he doesn’t care for a son who has no love for his true country.
I wasn’t a big fan of how they cast the Seven Freak of Jiangnan, I think I prefer the actors from the 2008 adaptation because I think the eldest Master, Ke Zhan E in this series looks really breakable. If some giant came along and picked him, he’d surely snap. Also, the Ke Zhan E in this version of LOCH is really stubborn and proud. He never seems to listen to Guo Jing AT ALL. I have to admit, that being the simpleminded person he is, Guo Jing doesn’t offer a lot of helpful ideas but his heart is in the right place. The other Freaks of Jiangnan seem more inclined to sympathize with Guo Jing when Ke Zhan E punishes him for failing at martial arts and when he threatens even disown him as a student.
Usually my mom’s not very good at remembering the plot events of series and movies, but she was pretty accurate when she told me that this Mu Nianci is kind of useless. Like the Mu Nianci in the 2008 adaptation, she is wholeheartedly devoted Yang Kang, saving him time and time again despite his evil ways, but she either has no sense of her identity as a Song citizen or she’s unaware of the strenuous politics taking place around her. What made me love Liu Shi Shi as Mu Nianci in the 2008 adaptation was her patriotism for her country and her unyielding perseverance to change Mu Nianci, especially in that powerful scene where she’s preaching the truth to Yang Kang, “Even if you kill me, your surname is still Yang. Your name is Yang Kang. Your father is Yang Tie Xin. You can’t call an enemy your father!”
Overall, I thought the death of Yang Kang’s parents were a little anti-climactic. After almost twenty episodes of running away, patriotic drama and family hoo-haw, Yang Tie Xin just stabs himself! And his wife follows through. The first part ends each of the characters going their separate ways, Yang Kang, tempted by greed and fame returns to Wangyan Hong Lie’s side. Mu Nianci returns to the Ox Village and Guo Jing and Huang Rong can finally begin their adventure!
I hope you wuxia fans enjoyed the first of my three-part review. The next part will better dissect the characters Guo Jing, Yang Kang, Huang Rong, Ou Yang Ke and other notable characters that appear in the Jiangnan martial arts world. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for part two coming soon!
What are you pondering today?