The Legend of the Condor Heroes 2016: Review

(image credit: as marked)

Interestingly, I never reviewed this either. Or at least, I didn’t care to go back, lol. I just didn’t feel like doing that at that time. I don’t know. I guess I might as well since I had some notes and all. How was it? Mixed feelings throughout actually. I guess it was inevitable–due to the fact that this wasn’t the first version ever to be made. But there were some things that stuck out, which were hard to ignore. I’ll start with the usual, of course, before diving in deeper.

Main Cast:

  • Li Yi Tong (李一桐) as Huang Rong (黄蓉). She was adorable. If you could say that about Huang Rong, that was. She could be so mischievious at times too. If you read the novel or watched past adaptations, you get the idea. I don’t need to say it anymore. But what made her different and stood out for me was how the production team didn’t cut back on her martial arts scenes. I don’t know. In the past, only one person who portrayed Huang Rong made an impact for me during fight scenes and that was Athena Chu. (Yes, I loved Barbara Yung and she’s irreplacable and made an impact and was also my favorite Huang Rong but the production team cut back and downplayed her fight scenes so she didn’t shine in that area for me. There was a lot of awesomess about her, so that part could be overlooked.) Yes, I said it. But Athena’s fight scenes (especially the part they snuck into the enemy’s camp to investigate at the beginnning and she used various martial arts techniques to fend off her opponents. That was one of the scenes that defined her character but past adaptation had failed.) Anyway, back to Li Yi Tong’s scenes, I loved her martial arts scenes even more. Although, the production team did exaggerate at some parts, but it actually enhanced Huang Rong’s martial arts skills and made up for all the versions that downplayed her skills. I meant we heard from other characters about her background and having inherited all her father’s skills–and much more. Yet it was like she didn’t get the chance to demonstrate her skills. This one, it gave Huang Rong plenty of space for that and Li Yi Tong carried out her role wonderfully throughout. She was witty, she was intelligent and could be so cunning time called for it. Other times when she was with Guo Jing, she let her innocent and gentle side came out, which was a nice touch because it showed a different side of her when she was with the one she loved.
  • William Yang Xu Wen (杨旭文) as Guo Jing (郭靖). He was surprisingly impressive. Yes, it was mostly because he was brand new (or almost) at that time. No one really knew what to expect of him. Yet he delivered. He became my second favorite Guo Jing. Yes, I’m picky. Granted, Guo Jing is really hard to portary. He could be so noble and firm in his beliefs (mostly influenced by his upbringing) but could be so clueless about other stuff. It could be said that he was just simple-minded, uscheming and had a kind heart. William did really well potraying those characteristics. What made him a success for me was how he managed to portray the character in a normal sense, not slow his motor skills. What do I mean by that? Some of the past adaptations seemed to let on that just because Guo Jing was a toned down character and simple-minded (unscheming), he should be slow when it came to his motor skills too. (Well, unless it was during the fighting scenes, of course.) That was not the correct approach–just because some people thought that was how a simple character should be. William portrayed it in a way that was much more normal for Guo Jing’s age, considering how he was indeed exploring the various environments when the others led him back to the mainland. Then there were lots he had to learn about human mind, instead of his somehwat safe bubble since little. His reactions were normal and relatable, not just super slow and disorganized like some had portrayed previoulsy. So, yes, I credited him and the production for noticing those details and wanted to humanize his character even more instead of the robotic ways some had chosen to portray the character. Some ended up abandoning the approach halfway, which made the character even more contradictory thus failing. (That was why, aside from Felix, I hadn’t liked anyone who potrayed this character before.) The little details mattered. That was why William became my second favorite after watching.
  • Zoey Meng Zi Yi (孟子義) as Mu Nian Ci (穆念慈). Unfortunately, she was a major disappointment as Mu Nian Ci. I actually liked her style at first with her powerful moves and her vibrant appearance at times. I felt it was a different type of character since to be honest, I never thought Mu Nian Ci could be a sexy type of character before and she brought that forward. It was a different feeling and I won’t stomp on that bit. However, her lack of participation in the main plot made me frustrated. Not like I wanted her to steal everyone’s spotlight by appearing at the wrong time—unlike a certain adaptation, but she was so inactive with helping Huang Rong and Guo Jing that I wondered what her role was in there. That scene when Guo Jing was attacked in the palace? She ended up running away and committing suicide instead of confronting Yang Kang and helping the other two. Sure, it was devastating for her to find out the truth about the man she loved, but I felt her lack of reaction made it frustrating. What about her friendship with the other two? Not to mention Guo Jing was on the brink of death. They actually somewhat reinvented her character, I wished they had thought it through carefully, considering how well they did to uplift the other two with some details I had mentioned.
  • Chen Xing Xu (陈星旭) as Yang Kang (楊康). He wasn’t bad, but wasn’t the ultimate Yang Kang either. Yeah, I guess having Michael in the production made it a tad unease. I thought his best scenes were after he thought he lost Nian Ci and then eventually scheming against everyone, including Wanyan Honglie. He possibly gave his stepfather the creeps too sometimes because how the man stared at him from time to time, wondering what was going on in his head. It was near the end how he was going to go to the max with his evil plots. Because the rest didn’t make he feel he was Yang Kang. Just a casual villain. 

Supporting:

  • Five Invincible Beings
    • Michael Miu as Huang Yao Shi. LOL! When the news came out, I laughed for half an hour straight. Okay, exaggerating here BUT seriously! He was Yang Kang in the past, so it took a lot of convincing to see him in the role of Huang Yao Shi. (Initially, because I changed my mind when I finally watched.) If I had to admit, he was the handsomest Huang Yao Shi. (Yeah, I said what I said, NOT sorry.) Okay, for real, though, it wasn’t surprising that Michael pulled it through with his acting chops. He might not be your typical Huang Yao Shi that you had in mind, but he sure delivered with his own version and made it convincing. His attitude was sure stingy and could be arrogant at times, lol. But he delivered.
    • Hei Zi (黑子) as Ou Yang Feng (歐陽鋒). I thought he would have nailed this character without a doubt. But I was wrong. Considering how he had several similar roles where he was quite stingy and stubborn. Basically, hard to get along with and all. Perhaps, the scriptwriters wanted to dial it down a bit and make it different. Yet, it was the wrong call. Because he seemed much more reserved and polite that it made him less powerful in the grand scheme of things. Why would he be polite to those Jin royalties? He was a famous martial arts master after all. Wherever he went, he caused fear and havoc. He didn’t need all the decorum act. Yet those scenes where he was actaully polite to those people made me feel unease. It was so out of his character for someone like Ou Yang Feng. If he was being polite, it was just a facade. Like how he would do with the five invincible beings on the same level as him (because he was testing the water and didn’t want to rock the boat with them until he could beat them all). Yet this one showed genuine respect for some parties that made it hard to endure. To top it off, it seemed like he was getting chummy with the others whom the Jin royalties recruited to help their agenda. It was unbelivable. Seriously. (Yeung Chak Lam still the best, lol. Sorry, but he totally nailed the role.) But maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on the actor himself here. It was possibly due to the fact that the scripwriters wanted him to be different yet missed the mark on their experiment.
    • Ray Lui as Reverend Yi Dang (一燈大師). After having seen him portrayed Bodhidharma, I had no doubt about it and he delivered. I know it has been a really long time since that past role. But this was considered a safe role for Ray. So, I didn’t think he needed a crash course or anything, lol.
    • Zhao Li Xin is portraying Hong Qi Gong (洪七公). I surprisingly liked him much more than I expected. Mostly, because I didn’t know what to expect with some pictures and initial trailers. I really liked his humor, his mischievousness but also his serious side. The actor did really well to make the character likable and lively all around.
    • Han Dong as Wang Chong Yang (王重陽). It was a brief and interesting appearance. He delivered. It wasn’t that hard, lol. But he made the character seemed serious and respectable enough for what was relevant to the story.
  • Seven Freaks of Jiangnan
    • Wang Kui Rong (王奎荣) as Ke Zhen E (柯鎮惡). The leader of the group.
    • Ji Chen Mu (姬晨牧) as Zhu Cong (朱聰). The brain of the group.
    • Wang Chun Yuan (王春元) as Han Bao Ju (韓寶駒).
    • Ma Jing Jing (马京京) as Nan Xi Ren (南希仁).
    • Xin Peng (信鹏) as Zhang A Sheng (張阿生).
    • Long De (龙德) as Quan Jin Fa (全金發).
    • Xiao Yin (肖茵) as Han Xiao Ying (韓小瑩). The only female member of the group.
  • Mi Lu as Mei Chao Feng. She delivered her character well. No doubt about it.
  • Zong Feng Yan (宗峰岩) is Wanyan Honglie (完颜洪烈). I thought he did a good job for his role. He was convincing.
  • Liu Zhi Yang (刘智扬) as Ou Yang Ke (歐陽克). I got used to his image as I watched further into the series. I realized that since he came from a different place, it made sense that he was dressed differently. However, his character, that was a different story. All right, the background story was the same for the most part. It was different in a sense that it allowed us to see more into his character than what was on the surface. We got to see his vulnerable side and his emotional state with his abandonment issues and his struggles growing up. I welcomed those different interpretations. It made sense, considering where he came from and how he must have suffered because of his uncle’s techniques, etc. Yet that sort of presented this tricky situation and became a double-edged sword in the grand picture. How? It became an excuse for his behaviors later and how it projected this rapists apologist vibe major time. How in the world did I jump to such a conclusion? Ou Yang Ke was a serial rapist. Yet having him so relateable distracted some viewers major time and sympathized with him, even siding with him in some situations. There were comments circulating about how Huang Rong was cruel to him. It was disturbing, to say that least. Once again, I need to clarify that I’m not picking on the actor. I felt he did a good job portraying this adaptation’s version of the character and I could feel his pain at times with being abandoned by his father when little and was forced to be tough. However, the scriptwriters glossed over the fact that all the women that he kidnapped and raped didn’t do a thing wrong. He was a dangerous person, why should Huang Rong show him mercy? If he captured her, she would be Victim # who knows what. (Which didn’t make sense during the ship explosion incident that she entrusted her master to him. It was a ridiculous bit. It showed Huang Rong’s vulnerability at that point and she wasn’t thinking straight but I didn’t like that bit.)
  • Ning Wen Tong as Zhou Bo Tong (周伯通). I thought he was funny at first and didn’t mind his over the top jokes. It was his own portrayal. However, I felt the script failed when he said that they might as well give the manual to Wanyan Honglie. Even that was a ridiculous comment no matter who said it, because although Zhou Bo Tong loved jokes and all, he was patriotic in his own way, knowing what was important and serious. He wouldn’t insist they hand the manual over. 
  • Zhang Kai Yi (张楷依) as Ying Gu (瑛姑). She was so beautiful and fitted the role so well. I actually really enjoyed watching her. Yeah, I know she went overboard with some stuff, but honestly, try to lose a kid and no one was on your side regarding situations, you would go psycho too. I seriously was floored that Huang Rong (regardless of versions) wasn’t on her side regarding what happened. Just because Yi Dang repented didn’t make things better (and possibly because he was her father’s friend). But seriously, Huang Rong was one of those characters that went against the general public’s opinions. Sure, it wasn’t Yi Dang’s fault technically because he didn’t attack the kid (and he indeed was in a hard situation, knowing possibly the enemy created a trap for him) BUT he didn’t save an innocent child when it called for it. He put his pride above all else. (So yeah, he was lost in my book anyway–regardless of version.) Anyway, back to Ying Gu, I felt she was once again blamed (just like Xi Ruo) because she was a beautiful woman. Sure, she committed infedility BUT it wasn’t like she could leave the royal palace and divorce the king and get out the relationship. (It was all right that the king had lots of wives though, let’s overlook that bit. Yeah, sarcasm here. I don’t care if they didn’t show every one of the king’s wives in here, you have to be crazy to think he was one loyal king to have only one wife.) You must be like, “But two wrongs don’t make a right.” If there weren’t so many double standards going on, I would have reconsider. But this? Also, Zhou Bo Tong was a coward and I hated him even more in this version than ever. He ran away and left her just like that because he couldn’t deal with his own problems. (Sure, it was fun watching him at times but to think about it more seriously, he wasn’t that likable either if considering all angles.)
  • Xia Zi Tong (夏梓桐) as Sha Gu (傻姑). The actress was convincing in her role. She was kind of adorable too.
  • Tay Ping Hui is Temujin (鐵木真) aka Genghis Khan (成吉思汗). No one could beat Paul Chun in the role, but Tay Ping Hui came to a close second with his portrayal.
  • Dai Wen Wen (代文雯) as Hua Zheng (華箏). It was really hard to like her, regardless. I did consider all that they’d been through. But seriously, not much difference. Technically, she was the legit wife and Huang Rong was the third-party. However, the fact that Guo Jing never liked her and treated her like his sister and only reconsidered because of his supposed duties and gratitude toward her father said it for me. Sure, it wasn’t her fault she liked him, but the advantage was in her court when her father was so powerful.
  • Fu Tian Jiao (傅天骄) as Jebe (哲別). Guo Jing’s archery master.

Others:

  • Shao Bing as Guo Xiao Tian. Guo Jing’s father. Not much to say really except he sure was unlucky, lol. Shao Bing portrayed him well as an honest and patriotic character though.
  • Zeng Li as Li Ping. Guo Jing’s mother. I like Zeng Li, really like her as actress and thought she did quite well in this role. However, character-wise? NOT really. Am I being petty because of how the plot favored her and paved her out to be an enduring mother, bringing up her son without needing to remarry? No, I just never liked her because of how hypocritcal her character turned out to be. Yes, I said it. I actually wrote the character analysis for Xi Ruo first before circling back to this one. Given the situation, do you think she wouldn’t choose the same thing as Xi Ruo? I swear! You’re all like, “But you don’t like what ifs and thought it was unfair if the plot picked on Xi Ruo.” Yes, I do. But there was a pattern to based it on. She didn’t have a problem with pushing her son to marry Hua Zheng. It was all right that she liked Hua Zheng as a person, but wanting to push her son just because she liked Hua Zheng? Was it to repay all those gratitude? But seriously, if given a chance and if Genghis Khan had picked her, would she turn him down? She might not love him, but she could have done it out of gratitude, just like how she pushed her son to do so. (Of course, things change later, but seriously.) Stop making it like the hero’s mom was all superior to the villain’s mom just because. AND I’m not trying to pit the two women (Li Ping and Xi Ruo) against one another by doing the comparison or getting into this ridiculous debate that probably no ones cares about (because it is all fictional), but the plot did that.
  • Li Zong Han as Yang Tie Xin. Yang Kang’s father. I never really liked him regardless, so not much to say really. It was interesting to see him portraying this character though.
  • Crystal Liu Qian Han as Bao Xi Ruo. Yang Kang’s mother. I surprisingly liked her a lot more in this version. I thought it was a matter of perspective and I welcomed it more, actually. Some of the past versions made her out to be the villain straight away, no thought process whatsoever just because she followed another man. Yet, this one allowed us more time to explore her character individually than was just the surface of the plot with laying out the sequence of events unfolding. I thought the scenes of how they gave equal time to both of the widows and to-be-mothers’ struggles and journey after the tragedies made it better. Yes, some of the past adaptations also did that, but they highlighted and elevated Li Ping more because she was the hero’s mother. However, this one showed us how vividly Xi Ruo felt after the tragedy and the hardships she went through. She didn’t ask for all of the tragedies either, how the world was she supposed to know she saved the wrong person and thus unleashed a chain of events unknowingly? They glossed over the fact that she was also a vulnerable, pregnant woman all alone as well, NOT just Li Ping. Just because one was considered stronger physically didn’t mean that the other deserved all the hate because she was less capable. So, she remarried, but her thought process at that point was to protect her child. The safety of the baby was her priority and she might or might not made the best choice by following that dude. But she was in a very vulnerable state. Also, other versions totally hating on her for being beautiful (thus causing tragedies like that stupid old saying I hate). It wasn’t her fault she was beautiful. Besides, her beauty wasn’t forever, she’ll grow old one day too. Oh yeah, anyone felt like they should blame the dude who couldn’t control himself thus causing all these tragedies? Or her husband for knowing she was beautiflu and married her? (If she was so much trouble, why don’t you pick someone you don’t consider “beautiful” then? Then no tragedies. Yes, I’m on a roll, I’m not letting anyone off. Also, I’m sorry you’re so perfect, you know exactly what to do at the exact moment if you were to be thrown into the exact obstacle as hers.) If you’re like, “But they did condemn Wanyan Honglie.” Um, they hated him because he was part of the Jin empire and wanted to take over the Song dynasty. They didn’t focus as much on how he should be blamed for lusting after Xi Ruo, not being able to control himself. Yes, they did acknowledge he caused the deaths of Guo Xiao Tian and Yang Tie Xin (initially), but still acted like Xi Ruo was “the beauty causing the tragedies.”

Relationships – Friendships, romances, etc.

  • William Yang/ Guo Jing and Li Yi Tong/ Huang Rong. They were so adorable and I loved them from the start. They were probably my favorite Guo Jing and Huang when focused on and I actually rooted for them throughout. (Once again, loved Felix and Barbara, but I actually loved watching Yang Kang and Nian Ci more in that version, lol. Don’t ask, blame Michael and Sharon.) Everything they went through–although the majority were almost the same because the creators of the series needed to stick with the original story, but some of their additional scenes were so cute. I could watch them forever, which is unrealstic, I know. But they were one of the rare few on screen couples of recent that made me feel excited to ship any pairing–for that matter, lol. Their chemistry were seriously off the charts for me. I looked forward to all their scenes together and hated that they had to be apart at any moment of the plot (didn’t matter if I knew that was how it was supposed to be). What was even more adorable? Not sure who posted it (possibly the production team or the actor/actress themselves), but there was there were several pictures floating around capturing a scene they were getting ready for the shoot. William helped Yi Tong combed her hair and all. It was so cute!
  • Chen Xing Xu/ Yang Kang and Zoey Meng/ Mu Nian Ci. I don’t know. I saw some off screen pictures of them at different promotional events and they looked quite compatible, but on screen, not so much. It was possibly because they made her look older or something. NOT saying she’s old, lol. The image for her in there made her much more mature than his image in there. When I brought it up, someone said it was possibly they showed how she had traveled far and wide with her godfather and had endured a lot hence showing her more matured and experinced versus his having been in a royal bubble for all his life. That made sense and gave me something to think about. Anyway, together? Sometimes, I was convinced. I don’t know. (Once again, blame Michael and Sharon, lol. They made a strong impression on me ages ago and even overrode my focus toward Felix and Barbara, so what made you think these two could convince me otherwise?) I thought their acting individually and how they showed they cared about one another was convincing. But together, it seemed only so and so. Maybe it would have nice to see them in a modern background? LOL! Just a thought.
  • The friendships between all the four major characters. I thought they had more foundation in here thus making the betrayals of later more heartbreaking. There were some scenes that was extended and showed us how the four of them shared a bond before things got even more serious with all the conflicts and complications that forced them all to pick sides. It was also interesting that they developed a separate friendship for Huang Rong and Nian Ci as well, not just somewhat interacting because their signicant others were sworn brothers. Well, they didn’t have a problem at all in some of the past adaptions. But sometimes the elders made it harder by pitching them against one another. Their genuine friendship in here made me felt their characters were also independent from their significant others as well, allowing them their own space. Like they weren’t mentioned just because of the other two characters. That was also one of the top reasons why I felt it was a joke regarding Nian Ci’s inactiveness in defense of Guo Jing and Huang Rong as said above. Perhaps, the writers gave up near the middle after they were done developing the initial scenes? I don’t know. I know, they had to make it different and gave us something else to think about. Yet it was hard to swallow.
  • Shao Bing/ Guo Xiao Tian and Zeng Li/ Li Ping. Despite my criticisms of her character and all, I loved them as a couple. They sure had chemistry and showed their bond well during their brief appearances together.
  • Li Zong Han/ Yang Tie Xin and Cyrstal Liu Qian Han/ Bao Xi Ruo. They matched and seemed like a model couple and all.

Discussions:

  • Tribute to TVB’s ’83 version? I’m guessing but it seems so. Because they used to the theme song for the other version as a basis. They made it a softer version with music only. It was suitable though and a nice touch. One of the rare remixes that I liked.
  • The parents’ stories were brief. Despite some extensions of scenes and exploration of characters added here and there, I felt it was nicely brief. Because TVB’s ’83 version sure dragged it out with the parents later on and the unnecessary back and forth. This being the umpteenth adaptation sort of helped pushing it forward and not dwell too long. But It was nice that they stuck through with making it brief instead of dragging it out on purpose so the actors and actresses had more scenes.
  • Guo Jing actually apologized to Huang Yao Shi after the misunderstandings were resolved. I don’t remmeber what happened in the old versions anymore. Possibly he did and Huang Yao Shi just brushed it off as one of those polite stuff that he rather do without. But this one made it tenfold more sincere when Guo Jing tried to apologize for all the terrible stuff he did during the misunderstandings.
  • Mu Nian Ci fallen down a cliff and still managed to NOT miscarry. Um, okay, I have to clarfiy, I have nothing against Little Yang Guo, okay? But that was one of the most unbelivable scenes ever. It was really hard to overlook. You know how high that cliff is? So yeah. That one dude fell off to his death while trying to grab onto Huang Rong’s condor. How could Nian Ci survived? You could say she fell where the trees were so she must have been saved by the branches versus the other dude falling down the rocky area. Even if she had fortunately survived, how could she not miscarry?
  • Comments. This was one of the sole reasons why it took me forever to watch this. I didn’t finish until two years actually, lol. Because it got locked and then I sort of came back when it was unlocked. When I watched it while it was airing, I couldn’t turn off the comments at all and it was flying across the screen. It was so annoying. But those comments are seriously ridiculous and a good reason as to why I stop searching around for discussions in recent years. Why? Um, an example would be people picking on Guo Jing and Huang Rong for holding hands all the time when they were together. (If it was up to me, I would have cut all scenes without them and have them hold hands all throughout, lol. So, who needs the haters? LOL!) The thing was the people who picked on Guo Jing and Huang Rong for holding hands were the same ones who cheered for Yang Kang to impregnate Nian Ci so Yang Guo could come into existence. NO, I’m not jealous with them for cheering for their favorites. BUT seriously, read the line carefully again. It’s WAY up there and much more intimate than the whole holding hands bit. Seriously. I initially didn’t want to put this in here but had to get that off my chest.

Recommended? I think it’s up to you. Considering how this is the umpteenth adaptation now, I think it’s reasonable to opt-out, lol. It actually rings true for other series as well, lol. It’s all up to preference. I would say there were ups and downs of this version, like others as well. But the most important thing is you have to like the cast to enjoy it. Or you can just skip around, lol.

The Flame's Daughter

(image capped by DTLCT)

I finished this a while back but was waiting until I finished reading the novel as well before I actually review it. Yes, this was one of those rare adaptations of recent that I actually went to read the novel while watching. Then I just finished watching before reading so I had to wait. Anyway, I thought this was 70% accurate. Although there were some scenes being shuffled, some changes being made, and some additions that were needed to make the story more coherent, I felt the consistent dialogues and the majority of the characterizations were reserved. I actually preferred the series over the novel. Yes, this coming from someone who fought bitterly in the past regarding novel accuracy. I felt the production team did their best. Some of the stuff that was changed, I understood why and it made the flow a tad less confusing. I understood the way it was written, but I think when transferred to the screen, they had to refine the timeline more so it would be less confusing for viewers.

Main Cast:

  • Dilraba Dilmurat (迪丽热巴) as Lie Ru Ge (烈如歌). She was amazing. I first watched her in Legend of the Ancient Sword and liked her–even though she only had a small part in there. Anyway, I thought she was perfect for this role. At first, I didn’t like how the red outfit was popping up again–yes, due to the overwhelming usage of red robes over the past few years. However, because I learned of her character and the reasons behind her liking red, it made sense. I tried to put that aside and enjoy the series. It wasn’t until I read the novel that I accepted it. This was because in the past years, even if the characters wore it, it was changed from the novel just for whatever reason they felt like it. Since the author chose it, I respect her choice on that. Character-wise, I liked her in the series better. I know she was still very young and inexperienced in a lot of matters and it was normal to react like so and so. However, I felt the organization of the series made her character stronger and smarter. Her stubbornness and determination and the elaborate schemes that she conjured up along with the others. It made her character so full of capabilities. Not to mention how they took her martial arts to another level, showing more and more how she was indeed suitable as the leader–if she wanted it. I think her character grew to another level with what had happened. I thank the author for creating such a story because the novel focused on romances more than wuxia/jianghu theme, I had to choose the series because it had more balance (although they did toss in a bunch of romances too, it was for the others, not just Ru Ge only).
    • Amy Zhang (张茗灿) as Childhood Ru Ge (小如歌). She was so cute. I could see the transition so nicely with the childhood version of Ru Ge and the older version.
    • Li Yi Xi (李羿希) as Baby Ru Ge (婴儿如歌). What can I say?
  • Vic Chou (周渝民) as Yin Xue (銀雪). At first, I felt kinda awkward because I didn’t understand his character. I thought it was supposed to be a serious role (mostly from the beginning scene and how he was chased down by a bunch of groups before meeting Ru Ge in the present time). Then I thought Vic was uncomfortable with the role hence the character not being consistent–and sometimes broke out into being silly. But I loved watching him regardless so I ignored that part and his character eventually grew on me–more or less. It wasn’t until I read the novel that I realized they (the scriptwriters) already toned down on his crazy side. He was seriously too silly in the novel and possibly couldn’t become the main lead if they kept everything, lol. Instead, they chose to portray his humorous side differently and kept his mishaps on the lower end. I actually had mixed feelings toward Yin Xue in the novel. I didn’t like it that he forced Ru Ge to like him throughout and kept pestering her. My favorite part of him in the novel was when he was crying and pretending to be wounded (or was he seriously just dramatic?) that she looked down upon him because he used to be in a brothel. It was funny and cute in a way, lol. Yet the rest of his tantrums, I didn’t care for. The series brought out some of his jealousy by coming up with different scenes than showing his tantrums, which made sense. I didn’t like it but felt it was a tad better. As for screen time, I thought his presence was severely lacking and was somehow doubting that he would end up with Ru Ge at the end. I was prepared for it. Yet when I read the novel, his appearance was even more lacking than ever. In fact, the scene when they were at that one town selling cakes, the novel completely glossed over that part. I felt robbed. (Not just that particular scene either but a lot of scenes throughout the novels were like barely being highlighted.) What was interesting was how the author mentioned she actually quite liked Xue yet killed him off anyway. So yeah.
  • Vin Zhang (张彬彬) as Zhan Feng (戰楓). The author actually wanted to kill Zhan Feng in the novel, but it didn’t work out so she didn’t force it. Anyway, I felt Vin was so perfect for the role that I thought I saw the character walked out of the novel. (I thought that was the same for the majority of the cast in here.) The scriptwriters actually wanted to spare him of such a tragic ending so they eliminated some details and tossed it to Yi Lang. For one, he actually killed his own father (and Yi Lang was spying but didn’t interfere like in the series). Although at times I didn’t understand his action (while watching), but I felt Vin’s acting was very convincing. His eyes were full of emotions and they held a mystery that was to be revealed later. Yet it was frustrating (in a sense of the plot).
    • Wu Ze Jin Xi (武泽锦熙) as Childhood Zhan Feng.
    • Ji Zi Xuan (纪子轩) as Baby Zhan Feng (婴儿战枫).
  • Wayne Liu (刘芮麟) as Yu Zi Han (玉自寒). I think I liked watching Wayne portray the role more than the character itself. Not that I was bitter about how it turned out in the novel, but I often steered away from too good to be true characters. He indeed exuded all of the auras that the author mentioned, royalty and stern vibe even if he seemed so fragile on the surface. Wayne’s expression was on point. There was a gentleness and kindness within him whenever he was with Ru Ge. Then there was a fierce, stubborn side of him that was seen at various points. He was actually a complex character, but maybe more so in the series than the novel. Or maybe the novel focused too much on his love for Ru Ge that made it sort of one-dimensional for me.
    • Dong Li Wu You (董李无忧) as Childhood Yu Zi Han (小玉自寒). Consistent enough for the younger version and the context of the story.

Supporting:

  • Jang Hyuk (张赫) as Lei Jing Hong (雷惊鴻). He was seriously obnoxious. But there was this side of playfulness and kindness that was hard to hate. In fact, he was one of the fun characters in here. Yet it turned out quite tragic for him. That was only for the series though. Sure, he’d gone through some hardships with Yi Lang’s schemes and all, but it turned out quite well for him. He was my favorite supporting character in here–aside from You Qin Hong.
  • Dai Si (代斯) as Dao Lie Xiang (刀冽香). She was only mentioned briefly in the novel as it was relevant to the Dao family’s link to Zhan Feng. She was never mentioned again after the wedding with Zhan Feng. The series gave her a bigger role since they did extend quite a few characters in here. Anyway, regarding the series, I think she was all right for the most part, especially how she was secretly helping them at first–mostly because they helped Yin Xue. I didn’t like it that she tricked and captured Lei Jing Hong that one time. Yes, I got it that those other dudes were her brothers and she was really conflicted. However, it was really painful to watch with her forcing him like that. I also got it that she thought that was the best in trying to save his life but that part with him being humiliated by her brother was really frustrating to watch.
  • Long Zheng Xuan (龙政璇) as Feng Huang (凤凰). The scriptwriters extended her role to that of a major one since she was only a minor character in the novel. It was mentioned when Ru Ge returned to Wan Hua Lou later that she became a rich dude’s ninth wife and didn’t really get along with the others within the resident. I was fine with the extension since it created a more complex plot and added some more characters to the overall plotline. But I think it cut a little into another character’s territory. Yet it wasn’t like I could do anything about it anyway.
  • He Suo (何索) as You Qin Hong (有琴泓). I think I felt for him the most out of all the characters that suffered throughout, at least with the supporting or minor characters. He’d been through betrayal and then Yin Xue took him in and guided him, helping him start over. Yet later, he sacrificed himself and all. It wasn’t too bad. His sacrifice seemed all for nothing but it wasn’t so later. He was very kind and loyal to Yin Xue. Yet in the novel, he turned out to be a spy planted by An Ye Luo–although it was shown he didn’t care much for An Ye Luo either at the wedding scene near the ending. Luckily, the series edited that part out and made it less tragic in that sense.
  • Gong Bei Bi (龚蓓苾) as An Ye Jue (暗夜绝). She was crazier in the novel–if that was even possible. The series, although gave us a bit of doubt or created a gray area for her character-with how she was hesitant to kill Lei Jing Hong at times and seemed to keep her words with her supposed husband. However, she seemed to treat Xun Yi about the same in the series and the novel. She manipulated to get her way or just plain ignored Xun Yi. The series sort of gave her a much better ending, even though she died in both versions. In the series, she died after being captured in a battle versus committing suicide because she was obsessed with her brother (the same way her brother was obsessed with his other sister). It was pretty pathetic, seriously. (And very gross too. Either way, not just her but An Ye Luo too.)
  • Lai Yi (赖艺) as An Ye Luo (暗夜罗). A lot of gross stuff going on, both because of his creepy appearance and because he was in love with his sister. I think it was mentioned in a flashback scene that they weren’t blood-related? That was the series, not the novel. Because in the novel, it said that she was really his sister. (Ewwww…) But he was really broken. Their parents were never mentioned? So I wasn’t sure how that worked into the whole thing. Or I just plain forgot since I was trying to block the images out of my head.
  • Ma De Ya (马德丫) as Xun Yi (薰衣). She played a bigger role in the novel regarding Zhan Feng than the series let on. The series let her off easier (like it did with Zhan Feng in some sense) because it said that she suspected or knew she was Lei Jing Hong’s sister early on but wasn’t involved with schemes of her mother until later. Also, it was emphasized that she had no choice but to comply because her mother had used Ji Jing Lei’s well-being against her. However, that didn’t seem to be so in the novel. She was actually the one who handed the manual to Zhan Feng when he was practicing An He Gong’s martial arts. She was pitiful either way because, in the novel, she didn’t even have her mother’s acknowledgment at all, considering how her mother didn’t think of her father as having any importance. He was just a tool to her and a sacrifice she needed to make to help her brother further his agenda.
  • Chen Ye Lin (陈烨林) as Ji Jing Lei (姬惊雷). They extended his role more in the series, which made sense because they needed to develop the stories more and give it better context regarding the big picture with the battles and all (not just mentioning it happening briefly like in the novel). I was really annoyed with him at first for attacking Ru Ge (or seemed to) and really supported Zhan Feng with being the leader until the point that he argued with the others. After he explained what Zhan Feng did for him that one time, I understood him more yet still was quite annoyed with him. Yet he gained my trust in him when he supported Ru Ge throughout the aftermaths after Lie Ming Jing’s death. Not just because he supported Ru Ge, but because he respected his master’s last wish. He argued and appealed to his master when the man was alive, but respected his words and even made sure it got carried out after the man was gone. It was tragic that he lost his sight. At least, in the end, he overcame his worst fears and had a new start.
  • James Li (李东恒) as Zhong Li Wu Lei (钟离无泪). He wasn’t supposed to have such a big of a role in the novel. In fact, he was the one who died the night Yi Lang set Lei Jing Hong up, not Die Yi. Yet I think they extended his character because Ru Ge needed another ally within Lie Ruo Shan Zhuang and needed more stories for the series to work. I sometimes suspected him, but he sure lived up to his reputation.
    • Zhang Ming Xuan (张铭轩) as Childhood Zhong Li Wu Lei (小钟离无泪).
  • Fan Yi Ning (樊驿宁) as Yi Lang (裔浪). He was already a power-driven maniac in the novel, I didn’t need the scriptwriters to pile it on anymore for me to hate him. However, they had to use him as a scapegoat for Zhan Feng and reduced his tragedies in the series. Even so, I felt I liked his ending in the series more, even if it seemed cruel to some people. Because seriously, he got away with it in the novel. It was mentioned briefly after Zhan Feng returned to Lie Huo Shan Zhuang and took over again, Yi Lang disappeared and was never seen again. Seriously, the person responsible for the ruptures and what happened to Lei Jing Hong’s sect got away with it all?
    • Huang Yi Kai (黄溢凯) as Childhood Yi Lang.
    • Zhao Jun Ze (赵俊泽) as 4 years old Yi Lang (4岁裔浪).

Others:

  • Qi Hang (亓航) as Dao Wu Xia (刀无暇). Dao Lie Xiang’s oldest brother. I didn’t know what to make of him at first, but he sure made up my mind soon after. And so NOT how he was described in the novel. If anyone felt offended, I think most novels are unrealistic with people’s appearances anyway.
  • Gao Yang (高阳) as Dao Wu Hen (刀无痕). Dao Lie Xiang’s second brother. Not what was described in the novel either.
  • Yuan Yu Xuan (袁雨萱) as Die Yi (蝶衣). She was sure cute. At first, I felt she was too loud and felt she was pestering Ru Ge too much. I was afraid she would be causing trouble when she snuck out that one time. However, it turned out she was the stubborn yet really caring type, unlike some other fake person. She wasn’t supposed to die in the novel but she was never mentioned again after Ru Ge left Lie Huo Shan Zhuang after Lie Ming Jing’s death.
  • Jin Bo Han (金泊含) as Ying Yi (莹衣). The majority of her scenes were accurate, including the part where Ru Ge promised her that she could leave after she told the truth regarding what happened. However, what veered off was how she followed Zhan Feng that one time and even got captured along with him, and then died later. She was never mentioned again after Ru Ge let her go and that was that.
  • Wan Mei Xi (万美汐) as Madame Hua (花大娘). She died in the series and that was why Feng Huang later became the new manager of Wan Hua Lou, but in the novel, she didn’t die. In fact, she wasn’t mentioned after Ru Ge and the others left Wan Hua Lou the second time around.
  • Xiao Rong Sheng (肖荣生) as Lie Ming Jing (烈明镜). Lie Ru Ge’s adopted father, Zhan Feng’s real father. He looked fierce upfront but was kind and gentle and a caring father behind it all. He was indeed patient and forgiving in the series. However, in the novel, he even mentioned to Ru Ge at one point that if Zhan Feng was a threat to her, just eliminate him (Zhan Feng), which was so cold to me. It was also quite cruel to Ru Ge hence her choosing to shield Zhan Feng from An Ye Luo’s final attack and not Yu Zi Han like she wanted to at first.
    • Zhang Hao Cheng (张皓承) as Young Lie Ming Jing.
  • Shao Feng (邵峰) as the king.
  • Wang Ren Jun (王仁君) as Prince Jing Xian (景献王).
  • Li Guang Xu (李广旭) as Prince Jing Yang (敬阳王).
  • Xu Min (徐敏) as Old Master of Piao Miao Sect (缥缈祖师).
  • Luo Si Wei (罗四维) as Xiang Er (香儿). Used to be at Wan Hua Lou, but was saved by Dao Wu Xia and stayed at the Dao resident as his servant.
  • Yan Jing Jie (颜敬杰) as Xuan Huang (玄璜). Loyal to Yu Zi Han and a reliable person. He was somewhat hot-headed at times but it just showed that he cared.
  • Sun Xiao Lun (孙晓伦) as Huang Cong (黄琮). She was so cool. I liked her regardless if I learned of how it was in the novel or not. Because she was very reliable and powerful.
  • Ge Shi Min (葛施敏) as Bi Er (碧儿).
  • Chen Kai (陈凯) as Mu Rong Tang Zhu (慕容堂主). He was indeed an important force of Lie Huo Shan Zhuang and one of the consistent characters throughout, unlike some in here that ganged up on Ru Ge and didn’t understand the situation. (They were deceived, but seriously.) I actually quite liked him–along with Zhong Li Tang Zhu–because he was smart and also an easygoing person–if time allowed.
  • Chen Yue (陈玥) as Ling Tang Zhu (凌堂主). Seriously, wishy-washy. I can’t blame him for falling for Yi Lang’s tricks but he didn’t help with the situations at times either.
  • Chen Ji Ming (陈继铭) as Lei Hen Tian (雷恨天). Lei Jing Hong’s father.
  • Wang Gang (王岗) as Xie Hou You (谢厚友). He was seriously unlucky.
  • Anson Shi (石悦安鑫) as Xie Xiao Feng (谢小风). At first, I was somewhat annoyed with the kid, but later enjoyed his arguments with Lei Jing Hong. They were indeed like a family at that part, just enjoying the simple life and all.
  • Fang Xiao Yue (方小月) as Huang Sao (黄嫂). Yi Lang’s mother. Perhaps, it was for the best that she didn’t know of Yi Lang’s fate? Because it would break her heart completely.
  • Wang Lu (王璐) as Zhan Fei Tian (战飞天). Believed to be Zhan Feng’s father, Lie Ru Ge’s real father.
  • Zhou Qi (周奇) as Eldest Student of Piao Miao Sect (飘渺大师兄).

Relationships / Pairings / Whatever:

  • Dilraba Dilmurat / Ru Ge and Vic Chou / Yin Xue. I didn’t feel their chemistry at first. I was intrigued as soon as I watched the opening scenes. However, I wasn’t feeling them until way later. Okay, possibly around the time they were at that one town, opening the shop and all. I didn’t like it that he kept placing his hands around her and trying to be as intimate as possible at times, taking advantage of the situation. Yet when their bond improved later, I decided to cut him some slacks, mostly because he had been waiting forever (almost) to be reunited with her after their fate was cut short in her previous life. There were actually quite a few fun and touching scenes between them.
  • Dilraba Dilmurat / Ru Ge and Vin Zhang / Zhan Feng. I thought they really had chemistry. It was that was the way the plot was so they couldn’t be together. It was kind of cute watching their younger versions interacting. Too bad, huh? But I think fans of the pairing shouldn’t be too disappointed since they starred in The King’s Women (秦时丽人明月心) together. (Although I think it’s another tragic drama, lol.)
  • Dilraba Dilmurat / Ru Ge and Wayne Liu / Yu Zi Han. They totally exuded the brother and sister vibe throughout the series so I was not torn that they didn’t end up together. Sure, they could work (like how it was in the novel) and there were some cute moments together. But I think their boundaries were clearly established in here (except for a few scenes), unlike how it was in the novel. They were much more intimate in the novel and it showed that they would eventually end up together.
  • Jang Hyuk / Lei Jing Hong and Dai Si / Dao Lie Xiang. They had really good chemistry and their story aided majorly with the scenes. I thought she was going to die–based on the main theme. Yet it turned out all right, despite all the tragedies happening between their two families. The ending was kind of funny and I was surprised how things turned out, but I was glad in the sense that they could mend their relationship. It wasn’t too out of the ordinary since he explained during the battles with An He Gong, he admitted that he finally realized of Lie Xiang’s situation and how he was being harsh on her. He went on to elaborate that his situation with An Ye Jue was complex as well, at times hating her for the schemes yet couldn’t help but thought of the times she let him go and possibly about the times she actually raised him. So yeah, not too out of nowhere with trying to get them back together at the end. However, I think the scriptwriters turned them into Romeo and Juliet just for dramatic purposes. Because in the novel, he ended up with Huang Cong. Yup, he and Huang Cong bonded and fell in love after that one time she escorted him back to Jiangnan–after the happenings at Lie Huo Shan Zhuang and Ru Ge had to break him out. That was why he became an active force in the final battles on the outside. I also think the scriptwriters transferred some of Huang Cong’s personalities to Lie Xiang because there was one particular scene that stood out (in fact, the second rare scene mentioning them together) that showed and somewhat explained their relationship. That was when Huang Cong snapped at him for wanting to use explosives to blow up An He Gong since that could possibly harm Yu Zi Han as well since they weren’t sure of his location, which Jing Hong stayed quiet because he didn’t want to upset her further. It was explained that he wasn’t the doormat type nor would easily give in to others yet he couldn’t do anything in regard to Huang Cong–because of his love for her, lol.
  • James Li / Zhong Li Wu Lei and Yuan Yu Xuan / Die Yi. Their story was so cute yet tragic. I thought they would make it through yet it wasn’t so. Wishful thinking really.

Likes:

  • Music. That was the first thing that popped up in my mind when I thought of this section. Most of the songs in here were unique and addicting in their own way, which tied back to the story in some shape or form.
  • Casting. I felt all the cast did quite well with the portrayals of their characters. I liked them even better after reading the novel, because like I said above, it looked like they walked out of the novel. Well, for the majority since I did make some comments above about it.
  • Costumes / Makeup. It was almost exactly how it was described in the novel, which was really surprising.

Dislikes:

  • Flashbacks. Yes, this was unavoidable, especially for recent dramas. But I was getting really annoyed at times with the flashbacks. I felt it was overused. Because some scenes were shown over and over again. I got that flashbacks were necessary in a sense and seriously don’t mean the flashbacks to when they were little at times. But the ones that were in the present timeline or already happened but kept being shown throughout. Moreover, the over usage of flashbacks stuck out like a sore thumb because I knew it was a way to extend the episodes. Not to mention to promote the songs, lol. I loved the songs, but seriously, they were pushing it.
  • Length. I think the previous point was responsible for the dragged out episodes. I thought the majority of the plot was all right. The pace was enough–although I didn’t like some of the stuff. It’s impossible to like everything in a series-regardless. Yet what made it a stretch for me was when it hit the 40-mark. Some parts could do without the repetition. If they need to make it to the 50th mark, I would say stop right there. The last two episodes were full of flashbacks and only dedicated a little toward explaining what happened to Yin Xue. Because in the novel, it actually ended at the part where Ru Ge made the cakes for Yu Zi Han so it seemed off with the last two episodes. (I felt the stretch even before finishing the novel.)

Discussions:

  • Zhan Feng lost either way. Yes, I saw some outrage when I was doing light searching for information about the drama. Many felt Ru Ge should have ended up with Zhan Feng since he never changed. How soon (52 episodes later more or less) they’d forgotten that he hurt her so badly–even if he had a good reason (or so he thought). It was even worse in the novel because he actually impregnated Ying Yi and caused her to miscarry. Even if it was her desperate attempt to stop the wedding that one time, but his actions showed where he stood on that. Anyway, either way, Zhan Feng wasn’t going to win. Like I mentioned above, the author disclosed in the afternote that she wanted to kill Zhan Feng at first, but because she felt that Ru Ge owed him (or more like that was how Ru Ge felt because of the switch), she didn’t want to kill him off just like that. Then the wedding scene near the ending was supposed to be set for Ru Ge and Zhan Feng, but again, the author wasn’t feeling that either so she scratched the idea. In the series, the scriptwriters (and the production team) favored Yin Xue and the novel favored Yu Zi Han. I side with the series because I felt the ending of the novel was unfair to both Yin Xue and Yu Zi Han. I liked it that Yu Zi Han was able to restore his sight and still reserved his abilities to walk and hear again. However, I didn’t like it that he was going to be stuck with the essence of Yin Xue inside him. Was Yin Xue going to pop up from time to time to disturb them? Seriously? Actually, even if they decided to let her be with Yu Zi Han in the series, I would be fine with it, but I didn’t like the merge. Regarding Zhan Feng, I preferred him in the series over Yu Zi Han, mostly because Yu Zi Han was just too perfect.
  • The author was influenced by Gu Long. I just noticed this and guessed. Not sure. Just want to discuss here. The reason was Gu Long was famous for writing short phrases and describing scenes. It made me think of him several times. Then there was also the whole theme behind using a brothel as a front for other activities or reasons. Not that only Gu Long used that direction in his plot, but he was known for a lot of daring plotlines.

Recommended? I think it was worth it. If you’re a Vic fan, it’s a must-watch because he portrayed a completely different role–once again. There were some hints of mischief like some past roles, but this one took on another path. Even if it seemed he appeared so little but it was worth it for me. In fact, I think the majority of the cast did quite well. The story lived up to it. Sure, I complained about some stuff but overall, it was a decent series.

The Legend of the Condor Heroes 2017: First Impressions

(image credit: as marked)

So, how was it? After watching just two episodes, I will say that it has potential. At first, I was nitpicking and was wondering why they were fighting soooo slow during the snow scene at the beginning. It was like in slow motion instead of real-time. Yet when it moved on to the later parts, they were fighting in real-time so I was reassured. Why am I picking on the fighting? Seriously, this is wuxia after all, so I think it’s justified to be worried. And indeed, some of the fighting scenes were quite exaggerated, but I think it made me believe some characters were actually worth their title or reputation within the jianghu realm, instead of some short fighting scenes and some lame compliments to convince that they were actually good in their martial arts techniques or whatever.

Anyway, I will say I like it so far. The pace is just right. However, I know that the drag usually happens with later episodes, considering how they just managed to work out the story of the older generation.

What else? Oh yeah, they used the music of TVB’s ’80s version. Usually, I will say it’s a bad idea (because I did laugh at some people for using music from old adaptations by replacing new singers to sing, etc). But in this case, I felt it was nicely used. They, of course, changed the mix and it has become like a softer version.

(Credit: HuaCe)