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 Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber 2018: Review

I realized I never reviewed this, lol. It was like I updated once and never went back. The thing was, I wrote some notes down while watching and after watching yet just never returned to finish it up and post the review. So, here it is now, lol. I had to change some comments after having cooled down a bit. But the majority remained about the same. So, how was it? It was disappointing, to say the least. It started out quite promising actually. I loved every part leading up to where all the major characters finally appeared. Then it just went downhill from there. Okay, I know, I know. This is the umpteenth adaptation already, so they had to put some kind of twist into it to attract viewers. I get that. I read somewhere once (and had forgotten where actually so can’t name the source) that each adaptation represented that generation (aka what they could relate to, etc). That actually made a lot of sense because of how the stories and perspectives got changed and somewhat modernized over the years. Sometimes, it leaned more toward one side or another because of how the production team wanted to approach the story. So, yes, I learned to analyze it from different perspectives instead of just blindly following the original source like previously. But what dragged this version down to the point of frustration was that it seemed like the scriptwriters gave up and eventually just wanted to end the series. I’ll get into more details later. But the general low-energy feeling also made me want to give up on it as well. Except, I sort of wanted to see how it all turned out so I stuck around. In some ways, it was more realistic, but in other ways, it just made you want to scream because of the amount of frustration going on during the last fifteen or so episodes. Enough gloom and doom from me, right? LOL! Let’s get right into it.

Main Cast:

  • Joseph Zeng (曾舜晞) as Zhang Wu Ji (張無忌). Surprisingly passed all expectations. Not saying that I didn’t have faith in him. Yet I started watching him first in Fighter of Destiny and his role was extremely lively and bordering on obnoxiousness (initially until things got intense later on). So, I didn’t know what to expect–or if he could portray such a calm and toned down character. It wasn’t like Wu Ji didn’t have his mischievous moments, but there was an obvious constrast to that of Tang San Shi Liu. Anyway, as Wu Ji, Joseph brought out the character quite well and made it his own in this adaptation. I saw some criticism regarding how Wu Ji was crying too much or seemed weak. I didn’t think so. Because comparing all Jin Yong protagonist, Wu Ji was probably the kindest of them all, except for possibly Xu Zhu (because of his monk background). So it made sense that he was extra sensitive and all. I felt Joseph did really well in those scenes, bringing out all sorts of emotions that he went through or it highlighted the relations that he had with those characters.
  • Yukee Chen (陈钰琪) will be Zhao Min (趙敏). I was scared to death that I wouldn’t like her when she finally appeared. Serious. Because it just seemed too good to be true with me liking the casting for the majority of the characters thus far. She was the female lead yet was the last to appear–as it should be like how the story was told in the novel. Yet when she appeared, the scene just lit up tenfold more–if that was possible. She handled the character brilliantly and made it her own. I was amazed. She was gorgeous, almost fairylike yet also projected off this suspicious, cunning vibe as well. It was fascinating to watch what Yukee could do with the character. Her best scene was probably at the seaside when she told Wu Ji that one day she was more capable of cruel acts than him, which ironically caused her more trouble later.
  • Bambi Chu (祝绪丹) is Zhou Zhi Ruo (周芷若). I actually really liked her at first, which was really rare for someone portraying ZZR. I meant I know differences between actors and their roles. I know that, but I felt she was so suitable and her story made me actually like ZZR at first. I even liked her more than Sheren Tang’s version because she exuded the innocent and kind image better and how I was impressed with the way they made her skills improve bit by bit, showing us how she could become someone with such potential. What got me really upset was how she got away with everything. Sure, they exaggerated the bit about her wanting to be queen someday. BUT given all the crap she pulled, she sure got away with it so easily. I was siding with her regarding Song Qing Xu’s situation because he was an asshole to her when he was little YET only stalked her and demanded she was his because she grew up all beautiful? So I welcomed it when she used him since he totally deserved with all the suffering he caused her. But the turnaround was a joke regarding both characters anyway. It was a shame.
  • Kabby Hui (許雅婷) as Xiao Zhao (小昭). I also quite liked her. It was interesting to see that she could be kind and gentle yet also possessed this strength within her also. She was probably the one who understood Wu Ji the most (if this made Zhao Min fans sad, I’m sorry but that seemed consistent with some past adaptations too). She wanted to be by Wu Ji’s side and conceal herself, not caring if she was invisible. Yet she knew who he cared about the most hence having that talk with Zhao Min later. Although I knew others had the right to be upset with her, especially Wu Ji, for her deception at first, I couldn’t help but feel really sorry for her. It was mostly because she was always pushed forth by her mother to do all those schemes, not having a life of her own. She had to be the replacement for her mom in the end, needing to use herself to mend the gap and live a life where she couldn’t control either. People might think that she probably ascend to a role of power later, but seriously, it was all those people pulling the strings later on.
  • Cao Xi Yue (曹曦月) is Yin Li (殷離) aka Zhu Er (蛛兒). I really liked her in this version too. I felt that it was a shame they didn’t make her expose ZZR like other versions. She didn’t remember at first and then she banged her head on the pole and remembered. Yet, of course, it was too late with lots of stuff, so she chose to remain silent and be happy like how she was expected. It was indeed sad. Zhao Min knew later because she (Zhu Er) accidentally let it slip, but it was still so sad. The relationship between her and her father was mended again, because how she pretended to not remember YET I didn’t think the asshole deserved it. But I guess it was her choice. 

Supporting:

  • Lin Yu Shen (林雨申) as Yang Xiao (楊逍). I didn’t really feel his Yang Xiao vibe at first. But I wasn’t really against him either if looking at a different character. Because he was indeed enjoyable and exuded his power when needed. He was quite charming too. So I was more accepting of him later in regard to that. I guess what I was trying to say was he gave off the wanderer, vigliante vibe more than the leader of some cult. Yet I got used to him later and quite enjoyed his performance.
  • Zong Feng Yan (宗峰岩) as Fan Yao (范遙). I thought it was interesting that Fan Yao developed a real master and disciple relationship with Zhao Min in here. Especially the conflicting feelings he went through and ended up rescuing her from the execution site. However, it showed that he was using her to forgo his agenda in the end. It was indeed disappointing but not too out of character for Ming Cult. He was given more scenes near the end (versus how it was often seen that Yang Xiao appeared more in past versions) because they needed some change? I wasn’t totally against it but the asshole made me even more mad when he appeared more than when not. So yeah. Aside from that, I thought the actor did quite well with his portrayal.
  • Sun An Ke (孙安可) as Yang Bu Hui (楊不悔). And I just realized and discussed with various family members that Bu Hui would always be likable regardless of version. It was indeed true in here as well. She was so kind and lovable. Yes, she could be so stubborn and stuff too, but it was much-needed and it was who she was. But I loved her so much. She was one of the shining spots of the show. The more shame that she ended up with such an asshole. YES, they made the 6th dude even more annoying in here. He didn’t deserve her at all. So I welcomed Yang Xiao giving him a hard time at times, lol. 
  • Wang De Shun (王德顺) as Zhang San Feng (張三丰). Considering how fierce he looked in the production stills, I would expect him to uphold the sect’s rule much more. Yet it failed. The forgiveness route just didn’t jibe well with the situation. Especially it was a slap in the face and a joke to the 7th guy–who died so senselessly.
  • Kathy Chow as Abbess Mie Jue (滅絕師太). Zhu Zhi Ruo’s master. She was sure ten shades of disappointment for the role. Yes, I said it. I was actually looking forward to watching her because of old sentiments, lol. Even if she wasn’t my favorite back in the days either. The reason? The plot killed it. It wasn’t really her fault and I got it that the production team wanted to approach it a different way. Sure, Kathy’s acting wasn’t lacking. Yet the script made it really pitiful that she wasn’t as powerful as she seemed to let on. I don’t know if Jin Yong changed the third version, but I doubt it. But the first version had it that she was the one who went over to the Mongolian territority and snatched the Heavenly sword back thus earning her reptutation and ascending to power. Yet this version made it that Yang Xiao was the one doing that in order to fulfill Xiao Fu’s wish, lol. That made it a good detail for those into their romance, lol. YET it was really, really pathetic on Abbess Mie Jue’s part. The other despicable deeds she did to justify her “righteousness” and that she was from the “good side”? Yeah, that was already a given from the novel, so no surprise.
  • Louis Fan (樊少皇) as Cheng Kun (成昆) aka Yuan Zhen (圓真). Um, okay, I just wanted to laugh each time he appeared. I meant I think those days of Louis portraying serious roles are so over. I don’t know, he just looked to goofy nowadays. The details of the plot did make him dispicable. Yet that was just part of plot detail that needed to be there. That was all.
  • Zhao Chao Ren (张超人) as Song Qing Shu (宋青書). Song Yuan Qiao (宋遠橋)’s son. He got such a noble ending? OMG, anyone wanted to scream? I’m not against people redeeming themselves but I felt they were always lenient with him in here just because he was Song Yuan Qiao’s son. I was glad the scene were Wu Ji was framed was short and all. However, it was stupid to let him off so easily. It was strange that they got the manipulative bit of the other sects and cult down, but refused to commit with calling Song Qing Shu out on his misdeeds and wrongdoings. It was like they refused to condemn him for his attempted rape on ZZR, his disrespectfulness toward Zhang San Feng and the sect in general, and much, much more. It was so frustrating that you wondered if the writers were on something. It was like the 7th guy died for nothing. Anyone wanted to think about him anymore? Guess not.

Others:

  • Ethan Li (李东学) as Zhang Cui San (張翠山). I didn’t know what to make of him at first, was just going through the motion of watching the initial scenes that I’d witnessed many times before during past adaptations. But I actually enjoyed some of his performances and later grew to like him more as the character. He really lived up to the role. I really like somewhat of his mischiviousness as well. It was subtle at times but it was there.
  • Maggie Chen (陈欣予) as Yin Su Su (殷素素). I really liked her in this role. It was really surprising–yes, another surprise one. I thought she brought out the character quite well, making you think more about the character’s essence and who Yin Su Su was. She exuded the confident side very well at first and how ruthless she could be with her enemies as well. That was who she because of her father and her initial background. The things she grew up believing–or was taught. Then there was the scenes of later how she realized she didn’t want all of that, but just a normal famliy. She wasn’t naive to not understand the situation. But it indeed felt like a blessing that they were trapped at that one island. Because seriously, it was the only time they were able to live peacefully and away from all those dramas.
  • He Zi (黑子) as Xie Xun (謝遜) aka The Golden Haired Lion King (金毛獅王). Regardless how much I hated his hypocritical ass later too, the actor did quite well in his role. His fierceness was at the right touches. Then the gentle side when he was with Little Wu Ji at first was hilarious.
  • Yang Ming Na (杨明娜) as Dai Qi Si (黛綺絲) aka Purple Dress Dragon King (紫衫龍王) aka Golden Flower Granny (金花婆婆). She sure fitted the role quite well with the appearance the production laid out for her. Then her acting did the rest. I quite like Yu Ming Na, so I enjoyed her brief performance, even if I thought she was as psycho too, lol. Hey, she was from Ming sect after all. Couldn’t be too normal.
  • Ewen Sun (孙亦凡) as Wang Bao Bao (王保保). Zhao Min’s brother.

Relationships – romances, friendships, etc.

  • Joseph Zeng and Yukee Chen as Wu Ji and Zhao Min. I swear I loved their characters individually but together, they weren’t that compatible. Yes, their acting had me convince later that they indeed belonged together but if just looking at them at times, I wasn’t as convinced as some past pairings of Wu Ji and Zhao Min. 
  • Ethan Li and Maggie Chen as Zhang Cui San and Yin Su Su. They surprisingly shared great chemistry with one another. At least, I thought so. During their brief appearances at the beginning, they made a greater impact than the last third part of the series, which was sad–to say the least, lol. But I usually found myself enjoying Wu Ji’s parents’ story more–regardless of version. So, yes, it didn’t change for this one. Even if I liked some of the later parts too, but I felt their scenes together were the best part of the series itself. It led on a bittersweet feeling. Too bad, they had to return to reality and dealt with all of those stuff and then the inevitable happened. I could say that they were my second favorite pairing of Cui San and Su Su. Yes, over the years, only one couple made an impression on me regarding these two characters’ portrayals. Now, these two became my second favorite.
  • The friendship and trust developed between Zhao Min and several of the characters in here. What was interesting was seeing the friendship and trust that suddenly sparked between Zhao Min and Xiao Zhao. I didn’t expect some mushy talk between them before Xiao Zhao left for good. Yet it was an interesting and refreshing scene for me. Interesting how both Zhu Er and Xiao Zhao had this bond with Zhao Min that ZZR couldn’t. It was a riot for me in some ways and compensated for how terrible Zhao Min was treated somewhat. But yeah. 

Likes:

  • The majority of the main cast. I thought they matched really well with their characters.
  • Costumes. I was surprised they didn’t go for super weird combinatios and these actually looked like ancient wuxia type of costumes. It seemed like they did put in a lot of efforts with different sects and all. It wasn’t hard, but some of the past recent ones got me scratching my head for a bit. The only flaw I have to once again point out was regarding Wu Dang’s seven desciples. Thy weren’t Taoists exactly, but Zhang San Feng’s special desciples. Unlike the rest of the other Taoists, they were allowed to marry. SO, I didn’t like it that they kept repeating the same mistake for this version with dressing them in Taoist clothes.
  • Scenery. When all things failed, at least the beautiful sceneries made it worthwhile, right?
  • Xiao Wu Ji and Xie Xun were so cute. Xie Xun even forgot about his saber and went to play with Wu Ji, not caring about anything anymore. It made sense of how heart-broken Wu Ji was upon learning how blood thirsty his godfather was later on during that scene by the seaside when Xie Xun killed everyone of the Mongoalins who came to pick them up. Sure, he learned from different stories but thought the man had already redeemed himself after hearing that Xie Xun realized his mistakes of killing an innocent monk (who had been conned too to be in such a place). 
  • The humor at times between various Ming Cult members. Yang Xiao, Yi Yi Xiao and Zhou Dian were seen snapping at each other at times that it was funny. YET I couldn’t forgive of them for their asshole moves either. Too bad.

Dislikes:

  • Themesong. NOT saying I have a problem with Wakin Chou or the song. The song was a good one and suited the theme. Yet it was recycled and was a bit lazy, to say the least. The ending theme song was good though.
  • The ending, definitely the ending. NOT talking about the final scene where Wu Jji and Zhao Min reunited after so much went on. I was talking about the events leading up to it and all the wrap-ups. It was a mess and the writers definitely went all out on the killing, which made it tenfold more ridiculous than it should be. What was that word I was looking for? Overkilled. Yeah, that. It was so overkilled that I just rolled my eyes a lot while watching those parts. It wasn’t impossible because they were at war after all. But it never seemed like they wanted to stop. They just went and killed all the major characters like that. Also, I was told that there would be a heated confrontation between Wu Ji and Zhi Ruo regarding what happened to Zhu Er and how ZZR pulled all those schemes to frame Zhao Min. But I was so disappointed because it was brief and wasn’t like anyone else knew. Once again, ZZR got away with it. Even when such a misunderstanding occurred, Zhao Min got no justice. Xie Xun was an asshole for not clarifying stuff to the others either, not caring that the rest of Ming Cult hated Zhao Min even more. Thus making his becoming a monk a joke. He was still holding grudges or biases toward others. Zhao Min was right when she said Xie Xun was being really unfair to her. YES, even when he became a monk, he also wanted to force Zhao Min away. Even if it was the other Ming Cult members wanting him to do it and/or persuade him, it didn’t matter. He made his own decision in the end. Instead, he chose to be nice and gentle with ZZR and sacrificed himself for her. Yes, he was right that they were both similar in their blind hate BUT it was a joke to see him so invested in her. What made it a bigger joke was him liking ZZR so much because she was such a kiss-up to him previously. I swear, he hated those who were sweet talkers and ass kissers previously, BUT he was partial to her because she once treated him nice? Please. It made him another hypocrite among the seas of hypocrites. That brought me to my next point. This version sided with Zhou Zhi Ruo major time. It wasn’t like it was a bad thing to have another approach. But I felt like the stuff they let ZZR get away with made it frustrating to another level. Sure, she did a lot of awful stuff and was scheming YET she was from Zhong Yuan so they let her get away with stuff? This version was also very unfair to Zhao Min that made past versions so tamed down. In a way, it was more realistic, but I felt Ming Cult was really being hypocritical for treating Zhao Min like that. Yeah, they were bitter BUT so was all of ZZR’s actions toward them or Emei’s actions in general. Yet once again because Zhao Min was Mongolian and ZZR was still from their side, supposedly, so they let her off. The Ming Cult probably was more realistic in here that they showed their ruthless and scheming nature more. They used and disposed of people, especially Wu Ji in the end that made it all so frustrating that Wu Ji was that kind to them. Zhao Min was indeed right that they were just using Wu Ji’s reputation and the ability to gain trust toward the different sects already so they just let him be a puppet leader while they manipulated everything in the background. I think there were many things to consider and felt like it was more realistic in a sense rather seeing them all get along, BUT I felt they (the scriptwriters) sort of missed the mark about making everyone equally scheming one way or another. Because Jin Yong’s jianghu often implied that the supposed good side wasn’t all that good, just a front. YET in here, almost everyone had their own agenda. The first version of the novel, it was indeed revealed that Wu Ji left in the end because he overheard the Ming Cult members talking about getting rid of someone after using that person for some scheme. It was a misunderstanding, they were talking about someone in the cell next to Wu Ji, which Wu Ji was unable to see. That was why Wu Ji left. NOT sure if it was revise in the third version regarding that detail. But I felt it was too cruel to see how they  went all out with isolating Wu Ji and treating him like a puppet later on. Sure, it was more realistic, but I think it was overkilled with piling it on like that.

Recommended? I think you could watch it if you want, for the cast. It’s a different perspective for the current generation. If you like the cast, definitely check it out. It’s worth it for them. After all my ranting, you would think I don’t recommend it. But in actuality, if you don’t associate it with the original source and treat it like a standalone wuxia series, it was one of the decent ones in recent years.

The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber 2018

Yes, someone finally went through with this one although there were rumors of a certain someone doing it for years. I was glad it wasn’t going to be that person. Anyhow, I got curious, of course, so I looked it up after seeing some stills floating around on Weibo. It seemed a tad more promising. The director of this production is Jeffrey Chiang, the same director for the recent Legend of the Condor Heroes. This is supposedly 50 episodes, but not confirmed.

They just started filming recently after the blessing ceremony so only some of the stills were released. If you want to stalk them, go here.

Anyway, Joseph Zeng (曾舜晞) will be portraying the main lead, Zhang Wu Ji (張無忌).

Yukee Chen (陈钰琪) will be Zhao Min (趙敏).

Bambi Chu (祝绪丹) is Zhou Zhi Ruo (周芷若).

Kabby Hui (許雅婷) as Xiao Zhao (小昭).

Cao Xi Yue (曹曦月) is Yin Li (殷離) aka Zhu Er (蛛兒).

Sun An Ke (孙安可) will be Yang Bu Hui (楊不悔).

Zhang Wu Ji’s father, Zhang Cui San (張翠山), will be portrayed by Ethan Li (李东学).

Zhang Wu Ji’s mother, Yin Su Su (殷素素) will be portrayed by Maggie Chen (陈欣予).

He Zi (黑子), seemed recently in numerous new Jin Yong adaptations, will be portraying Xie Xun (謝遜) aka The Golden Haired Lion King (金毛獅王) aka Zhang Wu Ji’s godfather. His hair looks super orange here, lol.

Yang Ming Na (杨明娜) will be portraying Xiao Zhao’s mother, Dai Qi Si (黛綺絲) aka Purple Dress Dragon King (紫衫龍王) aka Golden Flower Granny (金花婆婆).

Lin Yu Shen (林雨申) will be portraying Yang Bu Hui’s father, Yang Xiao (楊逍), supposedly known to be one of the two most handsome gentlemen of the Ming Cult.

The other most handsome gentleman of the Ming Cult is Fan Yao (范遙), portrayed by Zong Feng Yan (宗峰岩). He had to disfigure himself to go undercover in the Mongolian forces so the picture above reflected that part of the plot.

Louis Fan (樊少皇) will be portraying Xie Xun’s master, Cheng Kun (成昆) aka Yuan Zhen (圓真). Omg, he looks too goofy these days to take on such a role. (Fun fact: Ken Chang was Zhang Cui San in the previous version of HSDS. The reason I mentioned that was because Ken and Louis had become good friends after working in Chu Liu Xiang together, and even went on to collaborate in several more projects together.)

Wang Bao Bao (王保保), Zhao Min’s brother, will be portrayed by Ewen Sun (孙亦凡).

The guy who was really obsessed with Zhu Zhi Ruo, Song Qing Shu (宋青書) aka Song Yuan Qiao (宋遠橋)’s son, will be portrayed by Zhao Chao Ren (张超人).

Guess what? Kathy Chow will be in here as Abbess Mie Jue (滅絕師太), Zhu Zhi Ruo’s master. What’s soooo special about it? She portrayed Zhou Zhi Ruo in Steve Ma’s version of HSDS ages ago.

And last but not least, the awesome Zhang San Feng (張三丰) portrayed by Wang De Shun (王德顺).

I’ll stop here until people update with new stills. But I’m willing to see what else. Hey, I’m curious.

*All images were collected around the net hence belonging to their rightful owners.

The Legend of the Condor Heroes 2016: Other Characters

The drama actually wrapped up already but I got lazy with updating. So back to share the rest of the characters that were revealed.

Ying Gu (瑛姑) is portrayed by Zhang Kai Yi (张楷依).

Xia Zi Tong (夏梓桐) is Sha Gu (傻姑).

Zong Feng Yan (宗峰岩) is Wanyan Honglie (完颜洪烈).

Next, major characters within the Mongolian empire. Tay Ping Hui is Temujin (鐵木真) aka Genghis Khan (成吉思汗). His daughter, Hua Zheng (華箏), is portrayed by Dai Wen Wen (代文雯). Fu Tian Jiao (傅天骄) will be Jebe (哲別), Guo Jing’s master–the one who taught him archery. (I’ll circle back later since the fancy writing is killing my eyes, lol.)

*All images were collected around the net hence belonging to their rightful owners.

Legend of the Ancient Sword

I finally caught up with this one. Yeah, because mostly I never watch stuff in order and don’t want to be going with the majority just because. I finally watched because I really want to see Qiao Zhen Yu and Ken Chang. So, how was it? In a way worth it, in some ways, not so much. Yes, mixed feelings.

Main Cast:

  • Li Yi Feng (李易峰) as Bali Tusu (百里屠苏). Originally named Han Yun Xi (韩雲溪). This is my second drama of watching him. The other one, I put aside because I got bored, lol. (I actually finished this one before watching The Lost Tomb but finished the review for the other one first hence posting out of order.) Anyway, his character was initially quite lively but had turned quiet and repressed for the latter part of the drama. It was understandable since he had a lot going on and needed to control himself at times or be controlled by the evil thoughts. There were many frustrations going on around him and it was hard to focus on the goods. Later on, though, he learned to loosen up a bit and joke around. Yet, of course, he couldn’t escape his fate. Indeed tragic. In a way, I guessed that he had to die to end the curse, but I silently hoped that they would find a way. Yet they couldn’t, especially what happened near the end.
    • Huang Tian Qi (黄天崎) as young Bali Tusu. The kid was sooooo cute! I enjoyed the little scenes of him.
  • Yang Mi (楊冪) as Feng Qing Xue (风晴雪). I liked her, but she annoyed me when she got into the schemes with forcing Xiao Lan to marry Yue Yan. I clapped when Xiao Lan asked her what if someone did the same to her so yeahhhh. (She didn’t like Hei Yao either so why was she forcing others? Even if Yue Yan was her friend and she wanted to help, that was low, using her magic and all.) I eventually moved on since they were dealing with more crucial situations. I did sympathize with her when she was left alone to roam the earth, searching for Tusu to one day appear (if possible) and hanging on to a thin shred of hope. She was one of the few characters who had a lot of outfits to change out of in here, which was cool.
  • Qiao Zhen Yu (乔振宇) as Ouyang Shao Gong (欧阳少恭). He was seriously soooo awesome in here. His acting was top-notch. His character was mysterious from the start. He turned out to be cunning. However, I felt it was justified in many ways. Having suffered so much from backlash and surviving all these years, it was too much. There was too much anger within him. He wanted to win, even risking all those lives. But in a way, he was less fortunate than Tusu, because Tusu had so many people around him to encourage him on hence not turning evil completely. Shao Gong kept having to deal with all those lost and he only had Xun Fang. So after he lost Xun Fang (or thought he lost her), how could he maintain his sanity? He was the other character who had lots of outfits to change back and forth in here. What irked me (and possibly the majority of his fans) was how they used that hideous red outfit for him near the end. Seriously? Over-killed of recent–whether guy or girl. Yet the person who designed it wasn’t really paying attention either. Ugh.
  • Gillian Chung (鍾欣桐) as Princess Xun Fang (巽芳公主). Gillian had to portray two characters in here. Although it was only one, she had to act as the fake Xun Fang as well. Gillian did a nice job in here. She was convincing as both the gentle and kind Xun Fang as well as the cunning, fierce fake Xun Fang. Although I usually kind of find it unbelievable and often tend to roll my eyes at characters that seemed too good to be true aka goddess type, but I actually quite liked her. Not just because of Gillian. But more like only she seemed to understand Shao Gong and his pain. She was patient and caring, trying to get him to see the better side of the world. She couldn’t really change him (obviously), but wasn’t like others just looking at him with the ‘good vs evil’ concept and all those conscience lectures BUT she truly understood him. She wanted him to live happier for his sake, not for others. That was why I liked her, even more than Qing Xue (though Shao Gong had said that they were both similar in their kindness, etc).
  • Ray Ma Tian Yu (马天宇) as Fang Lan Sheng (方兰生). First time watching him and finally realized what he was all about. He was seriously hilarious in here. He was teased by others a lot both because he was the youngest among them and how he was spoiled by his sister. However, he later learned a lot and was able to help them. They still teased and joked around but had come to appreciate him.
  • Zheng Shuang (鄭爽) as Xiang Ling (襄铃). Cute. At first, I didn’t realize she portrayed one of my favorite characters from The Four, but after looking information up, I felt she was really good. She was matured and exuded a serious vibe versus the cute and innocent little fox in this one. Well, there were at times I was annoyed with her initially for causing troubles. But it was because she didn’t get it and thought she was helping. Later on, she became more and more likable. I felt so sorry for her for the ending. Perhaps, it was for the best since she didn’t have to suffer through the same trials as her parents. Yet that was soooo sad.
  • William Chan (陳偉霆) as Ling Yue (陵越). Before watching this, I heard good things about him. Or should I say fangirls were drooling over him? Now that I already watched, I finally get it. Not to the point that I’m drooling over him too. But I felt I understand why there was such a hype over him and how it became William’s breakthrough role. Ling Yue da shi xiong was awesome. Not just because he was good looking, lol. But he was seriously exuding this powerful aura. He convinced us that he was a capable leader. He was responsible and just in his actions. He was also quite protective of his junior, Tusu. He also wasn’t unreasonable (especially regarding Xiang Ling and mending his way after realizing she wasn’t evil, etc). All in all, a very likable character with many sides of him.
  • Ken Chang (張智堯) as Reverend Zi Yin (紫胤真人). He didn’t appear much and the cuts so yeah. But he managed to exude a powerful and mystic aura about him. Probably one of Ken’s dashing characters. His lack of appearance didn’t cause him to lose out with others. In fact, his lack of appearance had caused the audience to be even more curious about his character.

Tian Yong City (天墉城)

  • Chen Zi Han (陳紫函) as Hong Yu (红玉). A sword spirit. She followed Reverend Zi Yin after he granted her a human form and helped him guard various swords in the swords tower. Being thousands of years old, she was quite powerful and talented. She was also smart. She was probably one of the two people who suspected that Shao Gong had a hidden agenda from the start. Although she didn’t want to say it out loud at times, especially Tusu who was quite fond of Shao Gong. Yet her hunches were right. She was right about the traps for them. Oh yeah, since I complained up and down about QZY’s red outfit near the end, I have to comment on her red outfit too. Okay, going to sound ironic, but I actually felt she was the only one not being too over with wearing a red outfit. It had to do with her swords spirit and her name. So there, it was justified and it was nicely designed.
  • Dilraba Dilmurat (迪丽热巴) as Fu Qu (芙蕖). Liked Ling Yue and treated Tusu like her younger brother. She was the other one that didn’t bully Tusu during his stay and even aided him greatly. Although she did have her attitude at times yet wasn’t annoying. It was who she was, sometimes rash in her ways yet didn’t mean any harm.
  • Zong Feng Yan (宗峰岩) as Reverand Han Su (涵素真人). I felt annoyed with him at the beginning. Mostly because he listened to Ling Duan and didn’t really investigate stuff thoroughly. It was like he had too many disciples and didn’t care or something. But later, he finally yelled at Ling Duan for causing trouble, etc.
  • Hanson Ying (应昊茗) as Ling Duan (陵端). Annoying and despicable. He was even more annoying than some of the demons in here. He contributed to the majority of Tusu’s suffering in here. All that bullying and causing trouble all around. He so got what he deserved later on.
  • Cai Jun Tao (蔡俊濤) as Ling Chuan (陵川). One of the disciples that were in schemes with Ling Duan to bully Tusu, but later somewhat backed down.
  • Dai Zi Xiang (戴子翔) as Zhao Lin (肇临). Got killed off by Shao Gong when he was in the book tower with Tusu.

You Du and Wu Meng Spirit Valley (幽都與烏蒙靈谷)

  • Vengo Ko (高伟光) as Feng Guang Mo (风广陌) / Yin Qian Shang (尹千觞). One of the dark characters. Yes, he was funny in many ways, but he also had his own baggage to deal with. I felt really bad for him to have endured such punishments later on when he finally returned to You Du to hand the sword over at long last.
  • Liu Fang (刘芳) as Granny of You Du (幽都婆婆). I didn’t like her at all. Yes, not one bit. Even if she meant well and it was her job, but I find her infuriating in many ways. Once upon a time, she wasn’t able to keep her words and ended up wanting to kill Yun Xi. Then they weren’t able to defeat Reverend Zi Yin YET later she claimed that it was because they were reassured that he could find a way to restrain the sword hence not going after him for it until now. Really? Then there was the part at the end when Guang Mo returned to hand over the sword, asking for his punishment with being gone for so long. She punished him by making him stay forever to guard the sword. Really? It wasn’t like he lost his memory on purpose.
  • Jacqueline Li (李小璐) as Han Xiu Ning (韩休宁). Bali Tusu’s mother. Luckily she only appeared a bit since she wasn’t one of my favorite actresses since ages.

Qin Chuan (琴川)

  • Zhang Meng (张檬) as Fang Ru Qin (方如沁). I didn’t like her a bit in here. Even if I understood her perspective. It was just that it was so hard to sympathize with her. Especially the whole forced marriage schemes. It was beyond annoying. She didn’t like it that that one dude took her and forced her into marrying him anyway, why do the same to her brother? What was the difference really?
  • Zhang Na (张娜) as Sun Yue Yan (孙月言). I liked her initially. Until she caved in and allowed the others to trap Xiao Lan as well. So I didn’t care if she ended up alone or not, which wasn’t so.
  • Ji Yang (吉阳) as Cha Xiao Guai (茶小乖). Funny character. However, he showed to be quite righteous later on. One of the characters I was glad didn’t die.
  • Qi Wei (戚薇) as Ye Chen Xiang (叶沉香). Okay, maybe I felt sad for her for being used for revenge. But what about the other family that got killed off by her father? Did she know?
  • Yue Yao Li (岳跃利) as Father Ye (叶父). Ye Chen Xiang’s father. Again, he killed off the other family. What was he crying about? What made it right for him to kill them off and cry victim when others do the same to him?
  • Fan Cai Er (范彩儿) as Ji Tong (寂桐). The injured and aged Princess Xun Fang. I knew there was something mysterious about her from the start. However, I didn’t even put the connection together. I meant she mumbled some stuff from time to time after Xun Fang returned. I just didn’t put it together that she was actually Xun Fang. It was too obvious the other one was fake, it was just less obvious with her being Xun Fang. Yet it made sense when it was revealed.

Others:

  • Marco Li (李耀景) as Lei Yan (雷严). Okay, this is his umpteenth villain role so I’m not surprised. What I found really funny was how he thought he was in control of everything yet it wasn’t so. He was just a pawn for Shao Gong.
  • Jia Qing (贾青) as Chou Xin Rui (仇馨蕊). It was hilarious to see her in here. At first, that was. She was sooooo dreamy and made the scenes tenfold lively. It was hilarious to see her trying to teach Tusu acting when she handed him the paper, LOL! Then things turned tragic when the truth came out. Sad, indeed. But her appearance really contributed to the overall story. Hey, she made Tusu realized what he had with Qing Xue and to cherish those moments.
  • Wang Yi Miao (王一淼) as Su Jin (素锦). She worked for Lei Yan and tried to pursue Shao Gong by posing as Xun Fang. However, she so didn’t see it coming that he knew all along and was just using her.
  • Leon Chang (张云龙) as Hei Yao (黑曜). A cat demon, had a crush on Qing Xue since she fed him that one time.
  • Hao Ze Jia (郝泽嘉) as Hua Chang (华裳). Yin Qian Shang’s lover. She got killed by Su Jin after discovering the latter’s secret. Tragic.
  • Jess Zhang (张茜) as Jiang Li (姜离). Xiang Ling’s mother. Nice to see her guest star in here. I enjoyed her little performance.
  • Tong Tong (童彤) as Sun Yue Yue (孙月月). Sun Yue Yan’s nanny. Hated her. So annoying.
  • Yu Yu Ang (于宇昂) as Yan Mei (延枚). Hilarious. Appeared to be one of the town bullies YET it turned out he wasn’t so bad. He was actually a demon but got adopted by Xiang Tian Xiao so they ended up being sworn brothers, etc.
  • Tian Zhen Wei (田振崴) as Xiang Tian Xiao (向天笑). A town bully but turned out quite nice and righteous. He was quite hilarious too. His competitive nature drove him to accept the challenge in going with them twice on different dangerous journeys.
  • Ma Wen Long (马文龙) as Luo Yun Ping (洛雲平). He was a demon yet because he loved his adopted parents too much that he used the wrong method to cause others grave danger. Later, he ended up giving Tusu his special orb and died with his parents. Tragic, but an honorable character overall.
  • CiCi Liu (刘庭羽) as Nu Wa (女媧). Brief appearance but contributed greatly to the story.
  • Ren Han (任晗) as Octopus Demon (章鱼精). Hilarious! Okay, she was evil for wanting to eat the others, but what was hilarious was the part where she said the others were bullying her. (She had used the term ‘human’ YET had to correct herself and used the term ‘demon’, lol.)

Friendships / Romances / Others:

  • Li Yi Feng/Bali Tusu and William Chan/Ling Yue as friends/brothers/much more. They were one of the relationships I enjoyed watching in here. They looked out for one another and had this strong bond since little. Perhaps Ling Yue was making up for the fact he had lost his brother. But that didn’t mean he was replacing his brother. He truly cared for Tusu as a junior and had helped a lot throughout the years. In fact, he had been the one training Tusu all those years that Reverend Zi Yin had to meditate in seclusion. Tusu also looked up to Ling Yue like a brother and not just because he had to. Being under the same master helped because they only had one another. Even when they were out and about, they looked out for one another.
  • Li Yi Feng/Bali Tusu and Qiao Zhen Yu/Ouyang Shao Gong as friends/brothers/much more. They were each other’s other half–literally. Both suffered greatly, teased, etc. Yet one had more support than the other hence their chosen paths. The reason why they understood and sympathized with one another so much was that connection. I think that out of all the ones Shao Gong lied to and betrayed, Tusu was the one who didn’t deserve it at all. I’m not saying the others did. I’m saying that Tusu never suspected Shao Gong, not even an ounce. Yet he got this? So yeah.
  • Li Yi Feng/Baili Tusu and Yang Mi/Feng Qing Xue as a couple. I felt their chemistry was likable. It wasn’t strong like how I felt about their other pairings, but I thought it was likable enough that I thought it was cute in a sense. Their relationship was too emphasized using flashbacks so that sort of got me irked. Only the flashbacks near the ending were justified since it was their memories. However, some other parts were driving me insane. But I do get their relationship and felt it was touching. It was too tragic how things turned out for them.
  • Yang Mi/Feng Qing Yue and Vengo Ko (高伟光)/Feng Guang Mo as siblings. It was touching with their bond. She tried to find him (aside from Tusu) so when she found him, she wanted to believe it was him. Well, it was him, it was just that he didn’t remember. He kept turning her down until later. At least when he realized what was going on and said he didn’t mind being her brother if that was what she wanted. It turned out, they were indeed siblings.
  • William Chan/Ling Yue and Ray Ma Tian Yu/Fang Lan Sheng as brothers. It was hilarious. And touching. The moment when Ling Yue realized his brother wasn’t dead was quite emotional. Well, there wasn’t much proof yet but when he finally found out, he was more at ease because his brother didn’t get eaten by those men that he found near their campsite years ago. It was interesting how Xiao Lan was so attached to Ling Yue even before knowing of their relations. However, it wasn’t too over since he heard a lot about Ling Yue from others so he wanted to learn from the best. The funniest part must be when Xiao Lan made Ling Yue carry him. LOL! He had to make up for the lost time of not spending all those years with his brother, lol.
  • Ray Ma Tian Yu/Fang Lan Sheng and Zheng Shuang/Xiang Ling as a couple. They were funny and cute together. Perhaps she was just too innocent and only wanted to tag Tusu (but I didn’t think it was romantic feelings that she held for him since they were more like childhood friends–even if briefly). Even if she didn’t like him initially, but still managed to save him or try to help him at times. It wasn’t way later that she ended up tagging him instead yet he made the decision to be with Yue Yan. Their last conversation before going on the trip was really sad and touching. It was worth a few tears. OR maybe a lot.
  • Ray Ma Tian Yu/Fang Lan Sheng and Zhang Na/Sun Yue Yan as a couple. I liked them as in their previous life. That was it. It wasn’t because she wasn’t one of the main characters that I dislike her or anything. But like I said before; after she followed along with the others, I just plain forget about her. I usually like those ‘cool’ fate things, but this one, I didn’t care much for. Yeah, the ending turned out the best for her but I was choking too much to care. He was probably feeling guilty for letting his sister down and how it occurred to him that it was fate that he ended up with her again and how her jade piece had pulled them together and all. YET I felt like it was too forced. They (the script-writers) didn’t even develop a proper start for these two. Not that I wanted the story to drag even more. But was some vague past incarnation connections and some guilt enough? I guess it was since people back then were in an arranged marriage for so long that it didn’t matter anyway. I just expected more of Xiao Lan and how he finally was accepted by Xiang Ling, etc.
  • Qiao Zhen Yu/Ouyang Shao Gong and Gillian Chung/Princess Xun Fang. I don’t know this is their which # of collaboration, but I remember watching them in The Spirit of the Sword. They weren’t paired off in there but he liked her. They so matched in here yet their story was quite tragic. She didn’t appear much yet their chemistry was undeniable. They were the other tragic couple. Even though Tusu and Qing Xue were considered a tragic couple as well yet I felt they were luckier in that they still got to spend plenty of time together versus Shao Gong and Xun Fang. Although from their recounts, Shao Gong and Xun Fang spent a good amount together but still endured a lot more. These two weren’t really approved by others and having friends giving their blessings, etc. They only had one another. Okay, so that was probably more than enough but they were easily misunderstood. (Talking about the real Xun Fang, not fake one here.)
  • Ken Chang/Reverend Zi Yin vs. Li Yi Feng/Bali Tusu vs. William Chan/Ling Yue as master and disciples. I saw many fans drew pictures of them and all. It was fun to see. It also illustrated these three special characters and their relationships. I felt it was touching on many levels–though could be subtle at times, especially how some didn’t appear as much. I liked how Reverend Zi Yin only had two disciples, and how Tusu was an exception. It wasn’t like I wanted Tusu to endure the curse to be taken in by Reverend Zi Yin eventually. But I felt their relationship as master and disciples genuine since the leader had like hundreds of disciples but couldn’t keep charge of them all. This showed that quality trumped quantity. Their interactions were also quite real and didn’t lean toward overly dramatic either.
  • Best Scenes Ever: It was probably the part where they entered the Qin emperor’s tomb and encountered many traps and trials. It showed that each and every one of them had talents. It also showed their companionship and loyalty toward one another. Not to mention their bravery throughout. Their persistence and trust in one another were unbelievable. Yet it was quite powerful as well.

Recommended? There was indeed a good mixture of talking, fighting, and romances so it wasn’t too over. The variety of stories they learned of along the way sort of moved the story along as well. The soundtrack was just awesome and accompanied the series quite nicely. It helped majorly when the flashbacks were getting quite repetitive and too much. Although it was super sad with the ending for several parties, I guess it wasn’t the worst. At least the overall was enjoyable enough.