As both a reader and a watcher of several adaptation of this very popular Jin Yong novel of the same name, I have very high expectation coming in. There was an era when only big name actors and actresses (like the cream of the crop) get these roles, or landing even a support role in one of Jin Yong novel adaptation meant big success! For example Yang Mi became known after portraying Guo Xiang in Return of The Condor Heroes (2006). Times has change, for better or for worse…
Let’s get a quick recap of the story alright, it’s the last book in the “trilogy” that is Legend of the Condor Heroes and Return of the Condor Heroes. Basically the story begins with an opening line that runs like this “Dragon Sabre is the symbol of power in Wulin (the martial arts world). If Heavenly Sword does not appear, who dares challenge it?”. As you can guess, a lot of people wants both the Dragon Sabre because of course they want to be number 1. A lot of people also want Heavenly Sword because it is fabled as very sharp and durable and no weapon can break this sword (beside well Dragon Sabre). Both the sword and the sabre is forge from Yang Guo (the protagonist of the second book in the trilogy) black iron sword by Guo Jing (protagonist of the first book in the trilogy) and his wife Huang Rong who saw the collapse of the Song Dynasty and in a last ditch attempt to give future generation something to fight off the “barbarians” (mongols). Inside this precious sword and sabre lies a war manual (Book of Wu Mu by Yue Fei), a martial art manual (Nine Yin Manual), and as limited time when you you get two you also get the complete “18 Dragons Subduing Palm” as a complimentary offer! This is actually what truly makes the sword and the sabre so coveted. Now during this time (Yuan Dynasty) nobody actually knows that these manual are found inside the sword and sabre except for Emei Sect. They are like “uh the previous generation said these were OP. So uh… they OP” without actually knowing why…..
The book begins with the Heavenly Eagle Sect successfully getting the Dragon Sabre. The Heavenly Eagle Sect is basically an offshoot of the Ming Sect/Cult, a sect/cult that is condemn by the whole Wulin world as evil and herectical, after its founder Yin Tian Zheng fail to become the leader of the Ming Cult and turn spicy “Ima gonna go make my own sect where I can be the leader! HAHA! Jokes on you!”. Now of course Heavenly Eagle Sect wants some street cred, so they basically announce it to the whole world that they got this sabre. As a result a lot of sect wants it but of course they are totally orthodox so they are going under the guise of “eh we want to destroy this evil heretical cult. Not because we actually want the Dragon Sabre or anything!” The only true orthodox sect in the series, Wudang (ok and Shaolin sort of and Emei..) leader Zhang San Feng (a real life figure! Also the most OP person in the book known as the “Northern Star of the Wulin World”) dispatches his trusty disciple Zhang Cui Shan (there are 7 disciples. This manz is the 5th) to the scene to check it the commotion in Wulin world. The first epic scene of the whole book culminates in everybody attacking Yin Su Su (the daughter of Yin Tian Zheng) because she’s overseeing the transport of the sabre. Of course she has to use some very underhand methods (she is a wild girl man. She doesn’t care much for the law) to deal with people trying to get this sabre and in the end when she was just about to lose it to those thirsty orthodox people, Xie Xun (one of the more OP member of the Ming Cult nickname something like the Golden Manned hair King. He looks like a lion) shows up, grab the sabre and uses his internal energy in his special skill “Golden Manned Lion Roar” which burst everybody ear drums and then turn them into basically stupid people. He became hated by almost every sect after this event. So here Xie Xun was, about to use his skill on Zhang Cui Shan, but wait Xie Xun says “I’m merciful. Why don’t we have a competition and if you lose, I blow your ears off!!”. Zhang Cui Shan is nickname “Silver hook, Iron pen” because his martial arts incorporate in beautiful calligraphic writing, so he’s like “ok, I challenge you to a calligraphy competition”. He goes and carve on the mountain, beautiful Chinese characters, and Xie Xun admits that this was something he couldn’t do. But no time for rest, the orthodox sect has dispatch backup! Xie Xun grabs Yin Su Su and Zhang Cui Shan and goes on the run cause he doesn’t want these two kids to blabber mouth that Xie Xun has the sabre (but then again everybody pretty much know it…). They escape using a ship, and Yin Su Su and Zhang Cui Shan is strap on a boat together. Zhang Cui Shan at this time totally see how flaming hawt Yin Su Su was and how wild she is, and Yin Su Su at the same time totally was like “man I didn’t expect a freaking law abiding loser to be so…. handsome”. After spending some very intimate time on the ship where they got to know each other better, they are like “man is she/he the match for me!”. Well the ship is wreck on a mysterious island. Cui Shan and Su Su saw their chance to escape from their captor Xie Xun cause he was now busy killing all the ship crew cause he can’t have them surviving and telling everybody where he was. So Cui Shan and Su Su went and hid in a cave with Xie Xun hot on their tails. Luckily Su Su had some silver needles that she flung at Xie Xun when he was about to kill them. These needles blinded Xie Xun and he comes running out of the cave and is afraid to go back in. Su Su and Cui Shan agrees to become husband and wife (which all you needed to do was bow to heaven and earth and your marriage is like official. You might laugh at this ceremony but at least these were real marriages and not the 24 hour I’m totally gonna divorce you now marriage you see in american society). Soon the cave became sort of their home, Su Su was very good at knitting and stuff and Cui Shan of course hunted and was very careful not to touch the Xie Xun. With abundant amount of free time, Cui Shan and Su Su… made love….. When Su Su goes into labor though, Xie Xun suddenly violently attacks the pair, Cui Shan surving because Xie Xun was blind so he was hacking randomly. Then Xie Xun was about to kill them again, when he heard a baby cried which soothed him and from then on the baby name was Zhang Wuji and Xie Xun was assigned to be his godfather. Well Xie Xun gradually became kind and open up to the pair after this incident, saying he’s been killing people in the Wulin to bait out his teacher, Cheng Kun from Shaolin, who try to rape his wife and then kill everybody from his family from father and mother to his sons and daughters. Xie Xun eventually became sworn brothers with Cui Shan, and this goes on for about 10 years until Cui Shan and Su Su was like “let’s go back to the mainland!”. Xie Xun says “I’ll pass a lot of people has it in for me…”.
Cui Shan and Su Su landed in the mainland and is welcome by a battle between Wu Dang and a bunch of other sect who wants to know where Cui Shan was (because that is where Xie Xun was to be. AND the Dragon Sabre!!!). Cui Shan learns that it’s his master 100 birthday and that his 3rd brother is cripple from an attack of a mysterious attacker 10 years ago (uh oh…). Well the second epic scene of the book is when Zhang San Feng has a big 100th birthday celebration in which other sect came and offer “presents” but their main purpose was to ask Cui Shan where in the world is Xie Xun (to take revenge, and the dragon sabre). Cui Shan is put in a tight spot, he doesn’t want to betray his sworn brother but he doesn’t have a satisfying answer for these people that want revenge. He is shatter by the (reveal to be fake later) revelation that it was his wife that cripple his 3rd brother (EH FAKE!) and couldn’t bring himself to kill the woman because well…. he loves her. Also he is put under further stress as the mongols kidnap his son so that they too can force Cui Shan to reveal the whereabouts of Xie Xun. In the end he kills himself and his wife follow suit leaving Zhang Wuji an orphan at an early age…..
The rest of the book follows Zhang Wuji (acted by Joseph Zheng) and his adventures with the Ming Cult and how the Ming Cult became renown under his leadership. It also details Wuji romantic exploits with Zhou Zhiruo (an Emei sect disciple. A girl that also took care of him by the Han River that one time, and he keeps her freakin… handkerchief for like 12 years… Acted by Zhu Xu Dan), and Zhao Min (a Mongolian princess from the Yuan Dynasty who is sly and devious but very very adept at strategy… Acted by Chen Yu Qi). There’s also like two more girls but like they are IRRELEVANT, these are the main 2, and the OTP at the end is heavily disputed…. The book ends with the establishment of the Ming Dynasty (see Ming Cult? HAHA Jin Yong be clever) and the end of the Yuan Dynasty.
This was a very long summary… I apologize 🙂
Joseph Zheng as Zhang Wu Ji. “I really love america, I will just use divorce in order to marry everyone!”
Chen Yu Qi as Zhao Min. “Oh man do I love some DING(y) of the Ming”
Zhu Xu Dan as Zhou Zhiruo. “I am one of Ariana Grande past lives”
Cao Xi Yue as Yin Li. If Jay Gatsby was a girl…
Kabby Hui as Xiao Zhao. “Mommy said I am not allow to HAVE FUN……”
Kathy Chow as Miejue Shitai the bit**
Hei Zi as Xie Xun. “AXE shampoo actually works!”
Zong Fen Yang as Fan Yao. “Sorry people, gonna take a break from being evil”
Yang Ming Na as Dai Si Qi. You think your mom was a bad mom?
Louis Siu Wong as Cheng Kun. “Hey the guy who fucked your wife was ME”
Lin Yu Shen as Yang Xiao. “I am actually preparing to star in a Lu Xiao Feng adaptation”
Wang Deshun as Zhang San Feng. “Come at me brah!”
Zhang Chao Ren as Song Qing Shu. “Hey can I be forgiven since I did it for LOVE??”
Photo courtesy of Drama Panda (where I got them from)