Return of The Condor Heroes ( 2014)- a return that was worth it.

March 20, 2015


It’s been awhile since I’ve revisited this blog, I seem to only revisit when I have something to say about a show. Well, I finally finished the 54 episodes of Yu Zheng’s latest ambition- The return of the condor heroes, one of my favourite Jin Yong stories. Also because I was a big fan of the comic book series when I was a kid- It’s amazing how vividly memories of my childhood hobbies remain in my head even though it’s been at least 10 years on but I can barely remember the contents of the book I last read.

So anyway, I was really excited about this latest adaptation despite the disappointment that 笑傲江湖 was because of the promising cast. Aside from the skepticism about Dragon Girl, I was so glad that Chen Xiao was playing Yang Guo. He is, by far the most ideal Yang Guo that I’ve seen so far. He is pretty close to the image of Yang Guo I had in my head! Li Mo Chou too-  so pretty! as she is supposed to be. So those promo stills got me all excited. I was pretty worried though, given all the things Yu Zheng had been saying- that he had changed the script and tried to put a new twist on the story. ( The nightmare of 笑傲江湖….)

Well as I watched the show, I was pleasantly surprised to find that much of the scenes of the show were EXACTLY as depicted in the comic book that I read! It really felt like the comic book had come to life for me. I’m also strangely inclined to feel that the colour of Yang Guo’s clothes are inspired by the cover pages of the comic book. ( could be just me though….) Sure, there were some changes that were made like Ma Yu disappeared altogether and love stories were inserted in for ALL the martial art experts. I can’t say that it was necessarily a bad alteration but it got a bit too staged when each love story from each 武林前辈 turned out to be a small love lesson for Yang Guo. Some stories were pretty interesting though such as Ouyang Feng’s but Huang Yao Shi’s was a bit too crazy for me. Other than that the main plot of the show was largely very dedicated to the book which I was really happy about. I also liked the first part on how all of them met as kids. Yes, it is coincidence only found in stories/ dramas but it was pretty nice to see their childhood fleshed out and see how they’ve changed/remained the same since children. By the way, kudos to the kid actor who played Yang Guo- really good acting.

This was definitely a very visually attractive version of the return of the condor heroes from the costumes, to the sets, to the CGI, to the actors, it was all very pretty. The entire cast was young and attractive and I loved all the characters. The actors, including the supporting actors all looked the part and acted their part pretty decently such that I more or less enjoyed watching everyone.  I was exceptionally pleased with Guo Jing and Huang Rong, for the first time, Guo Jing truly had the 大侠 feel I always imagined him to have- Upright, brave, principled, a big heart for the country and a loving but strict father. In other versions I don’t think I ever had any notable impression of Guo Jing. That character, despite how admirable he’s supposed to be, always came off lukewarm and semi retired for me in other versions. I also really liked Huang Rong. I liked how she was portrayed as brilliant but still human and how she and her husband really complemented each other in their strengths and weaknesses. As much as she made up for Guo Jing’s lack of intelligence, his big heart made up for her selfish one as a mother who fiercely loves her own family and children above all. Together, they’re a powerful combo and a star couple only to be rivalled by of course, the leading Yang Guo and Dragon Girl.

I must say I was pleasantly surprised to see chemistry between Chen Xiao and Chen Yan Xi. For all the backlash that she was given for being not pretty enough as Dragon Girl, she was actually okay. It did take a few episodes for me to get used to her, but in the end she did do a commendable job. She failed to grab my attention when she was away from Chen Xiao which was a weakness but as a couple, they worked. They were sweet and adorable together which made me sympathise with their struggle to be together. I guess in contrast to the usual portrayal of a cold and beautiful Dragon Girl, Chen Yan Xi’s Dragon Girl was more sweet and likeable. She wasn’t amazing but she was surprisingly not off putting either.  As for Chen Xiao….man I couldn’t be happier with his casting. He more or less brought to life the Yang Guo I had always imagined. Handsome, Smart, funny, slightly mischievous but at the same time sincere and chivalrous. enough said 🙂

So at the end of the day, I really don’t have many complaints with this comic book come to life adaptation. Yu Zheng actually did do a pretty good job this time round despite everything. I mean, what more could a reader ask for than to see their beloved book play out right before their eyes? Despite the flaws of being draggy at some parts  ( parts that could easily be fast forwarded without making much of a difference), too many flashback love stories along with the slightly ridiculous Li Mo Chou love story and a slightly lacklustre Dragon girl, it was overall, I think the most satisfying and entertaining version of the Yang Guo and Dragon Girl saga for me with an attractive cast and beautiful visuals.


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