Deciphering The Title
Wo Hu Chang Lung / Ngo Fu Chong Lung means a hidden talent amongst many, like you have this special talent but you didn't show anyone and then unleash it, that sort of meaning. By the way the English title is a direct translation from the Chinese title. Very exotic.
Which is NOT a review about...
The movie version. Poor series; forever known as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (the series), in fact some till now don't even know this series exists! I myself didn't. I went to forums and saw entries like "CTHD (the series)" and I thought "Wow! Ang Lee must be so famous in the forum, people already asking about the prequel". And Seagull loves to mention that I was very excited to watch this series. True because it was such a new series, TV was going to show it so soon and I was ready to criticise it left right and centre. Boy, was I wrong! You can read the review of the movie version in Movies Database under Foreign Language Movies.
The fourth book (out of 5 books) of the same title written by Wang Dulu and also based on the highly acclaimed movie of the same title by famed director and prodigal son from Taiwan, Ang Lee.
Character - Cast
If you know the other names, please E-Mail me.
I have deliberately inserted the right graphic into this review, not to overkill the background wallpaper but to show you their faces. All of the names below are arranged in accordance to the sequence of faces in the right graphic, except for a few which I did not include.
Li Mu Bai -Qiu Xinzhi
Yu Xiu Lian - Huang Yi
Luo Xiao Hu-Peter He Ren Dong
Yu Jiao Lung-Shui Ling
Tie Xiao Bei Le (Prince Tie)- Zheng Chen Guang
Kao Lang Qiu (Master Kao)-Zhang Pei Hua
Xie Xian Niang - Chen Sha Sha
Mung Si Zhao-Tong An Ge
He Qian He-Wu Li
Geng Liu Niang (Jade Fox)-Tang Li Hua
Yu Rui (Mr Yu) - Chen Chang Hai
Mrs Yu - Jiang Li Li
Lu Jun Pei - Lu Han Bin
Der Wu Xu (5th Uncle Der)
Liu Tai Bao
Chai Xiang Mei -He Yi Jing
Mr & Mrs Yu (Xiu Lian's parents)
Jiao Lung's 2 brothers and one sister in law
Mrs Der Wu Xu (Wife of 5th Uncle Der Wu)
Mu Bai's Blind Sifu
Yang Gung Jiu
Prince Tie's Assistant
Mr Chai (Father of Chai Xiang Mei)
Late Qing Dynasty since there was a mention of Old Buddha.
And before you proceed and in the true tradition of a paranoid reviewer, let me warn you that this is a very very detailed review in terms of plots and performances and thus is very very long. In fact I have a joke for you. I was tempted to insert a "FIND" input box in my review for you to easily search for names but that wouldn't be good for you as the reader. This review is this long because I wrote it in 10 parts, each detailing each moment of the series as far as I can remember, and of course there is the Compare and Contrast section. There is a certain flow to this review and to skip will be quite a waste of my effort. Some may be repetitive but that would be because I forgot what I wrote a week ago so I do apologise for the repetition.
Download Theme and Sub Songs
Download the themesong sung by Eric Moo and the sub song sung by Peter Ho in MP3 formats. Right click your mouse and choose Save Target As.
The Intros of the Various Characters
For the introduction of the main casts, they're all in Character Intros written by yours truly who has everything about the character, speculations and questions of "what ifs", which I shall answer all of them in here. So do read them to get a better understanding of the characters. This review is concerned about plots and performances.
But I feel a need to clarify the various relationships here, because I did not write about some in the intros.
Li Mu Bai is with Xiu Lian though she is engaged to her fiance, Mung Si Zhao. Xiao Hu with Jiao Lung though she is engaged to Lu Jun Pei. Xie Xian Niang in love with Mu Bai. Master Kao is Jiao Lung's sifu, Mu Bai's friend and Mung Si Zhao & Xie Xiang Niang's partners in the war against the Prince. Later Mu Bai becomes Jiao Lung's sifu and Mr Kao becomes Mu Bai's mentor. Liu Tai Bao works for the Prince and falls for Chai Xiang Mei who is a friend of Xiu Lian and enemy of Jade Fox. Jade Fox is the estranged wife of Master Kao and she is also the so called governess of Jiao Lung and a wanted criminal in hiding. Yu Rui is the father of Jiao lung who works for the Prince. He Qian He works for the Prince and is the enemy of Xiu Lian and wife of the Jiang son. Xia Mei is in love with Xiao Hu. Yang Gung Jiu is the reason why Xiao Hu became an orphan. The Prince is the enemy of everybody else.
Ok, let's begin with what's this series about.
What's This Series About
2 men, 2 women, one sword, one lost Kung Fu Manual, hidden treasure, falling kingdom, a few good men, more bad men, a few good women, one misunderstood woman, kung fus, tai chi, unconditional love, conditional love. kindness, compassion, repressed emotions, suppressed emotions, kisses, passion, eye contacts, destiny, choices, promises, integrity, honour, greed, parents, deaths, enemies, friends, disappointments, rage, anger, hate, forgiveness, regret, pain, suffering, youth, old age, indecisiveness, decisions, choices, power struggles, heroes, thieves, rebels, societies and one heavily disputed and not very satisfying (to the fans) but logically acceptable ending (to me).
A young naive and optimistic Li Mu Bai, a beloved disciple of the masters of the Wu Dang clan summoned Mu Bai and gave him what was relatively an easy task...to deliver the famed Qing Ming sword to an acquaintance of Wu Dang, the Tie Xiao Bei Le, a prince related to the Emperor of China. Along his journey, Li Mu Bai met Yu Xiu Lian, Yu Jiao Lung (not related), Luo Xiao Hu, Kao Lang Qiu, Xie Xian Niang and the Prince himself which turned out to be a dangerous and complicated journey. Aside from the obvious love issues that Mu Bai had to face when he realised he fell madly for Yu Xiu Lian, and vice versa, it didn't help that the Prince wanted Mu Bai to serve him in his quest to be the most powerful man in the Kingdom. This was fueled on by the theft of the Qing ming sword by Jiao Lung and the real intentions of the Prince became more apparent. Mu Bai was never political and therefore sought his own destiny in what was becoming a very complicated world. From blurry eyes he began to see more clearly about human nature; love was a difficult ordeal because he was caught between his love for Xiu Lian and his respect for her fiancee, Mung Si Zhao; he knew how love could be more painful by observing the almost impossible relationship between Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung; he knew how much he could hurt someone by simply rejecting them which was what he did to both Xiu Lian and Xie Xian Niang; he joined the rebel gang only to realise this wasn't his destiny to be involved with a group of people whose only interest was to purportedly save China from the evil Qing government but Mu Bai could not condone the senseless sacrifices made by group. When the Prince decided Mu Bai was of good use to his own agenda but couldn't enlist Mu Bai into his gang, he decided to destroy Mu Bai. And the best way to hurt Mu Bai was to hurt those that Mu Bai loved. The Prince spun a web of lies to Xiu Lian, accusing him of killing Mung Si Zhao, making Xiu Lian hate him. And he caused the tragic death of Xie Xian Niang. He captured Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung, caused the deaths of Liu Tai Bao and Master Kao. In the end, Mu Bai could no longer face the realities of life and removed himself into his own little world where he thought he could let go of everything. He couldn't and he became a victim of his own innocence and optimism. Whilst Xiu Lian, Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung were in great danger, he was too busy entertaining his guilt towards the many deaths that somehow were connected to him.
Could Jiao Lung, Xiao Hu, Xiu Lian and Mu Bai come together and join forces to destroy the evil Tie Xiao Bei Le and preventing him from getting the treasure he so wanted? Can Jiao Lung and Xiao Hu be together at last? Can Mu Bai ever forgive Xiu Lian for her accusations and perhaps forgive himself for what happened to Xie Xian Niang? Could Xiu Lian forgive herself for what she had caused? Could Mu Bai and Xiu Lian face each other, ignore the past and create a future together as husband and wife? Could I stop asking questions and just get on with my review? Certainly. but one final question...
How will all this mess end?
....... SPOILERS BEGIN ......
Questions asked and answered.
I will try to vomit everything I could remember. Yes..VOMIT. Call me crude but by popular demand I shall VOMIT and I am sucker for such popular demands.
Who's the lead character?
I see this series as about Li Mu Bai. Though many would say all 4 characters share almost equal screen time, but the way the series opened and that way the actions seemed to concern Mu Bai one way or another, I see this series as ultimately about Li Mu Bai and his progression or educational journey towards the path of a wise and worldly man. Perhaps even weary man, which depends on how you see this series. The rest of characters provide for a platform of change for Li Mu Bai or even perhaps to provide the foundation of his ultimate destiny. Other than the 3 sub leads, and 6 supporting characters the rest are purely a waste of our time to watch and are here to provide for filling in the spaces. So my answer is the lead in this series is Li Mu Bai.
Which 3 sub leads and 6 supporting characters?
Not in accordance to their importance;
Sub leads - Yu Jiao Lung, Yu Xiu Lian, Luo Xiao Hu.
Supporting Characters - Tie Xiao Bei Le, Mung Si Zhao, Kao Lang Qiu, Yu Rui, Xie Xian Niang
To fill in spaces- everybody else including the limp, lifeless and a joke of a character, Geng Liu Niang aka Jade Fox, Chai Xiang Mei, Yang Gung Jiu and Liu Tai Bao except for Mrs Yu who has a minor but pivotal role to play.
How everybody met everybody?
Very long. To keep it short...
Mu Bai was on his way to Prince Tie and met Xiu Lian who was in a hurry to go home and thus stole his only means of transport, his horse though she paid but she didn't have Mu Bai's permission.
Mu Bai met Master Kao when he was chasing after Xiu Lian for his horse and had to walk all the way to town and met Master Kao who was on his way to town and Mu Bai cut cue and drank Master Kao's drink before Master Kao could say.."Thank You Waiter". Mu Bai subsequently saved Master Kao though Master Kao knew great kung fu. Master Kao just sat there and admired Mu Bai's skills in kung fu and realised they were both from Wu Dang.
Xiao Hu met Jiao Lung when she was out hunting for Ban Tian Yun (Xiao Hu's nickname), a wanted bandit/thief/criminal together with her father Mr Yu. When Xiao Hu repeatedly won in hand to hand battle with Jiao Lung, Jiao Lung went home, learned some more kung fu and went after him for revenge and ended up kissing him and falling for him.
Xiao Hu met Mu Bai when Xiao Hu was saying goodbye to Jiao Lung after the infamous upside down kiss (which I shall elaborate below) and thought that Jiao Lung who went away by flying on top of the trees was playing hide and seek with him. He punched the trees and swoosh came Mu Bai and his sword and they fought. When the misunderstanding was over, they became friends and later met again when Mu Bai was chasing after the thief of Qing Ming sword.
Xiao Hu met Xiu Lian the same way Mu Bai met Xiao Hu again, whilst in pursuit of Jiao Lung the thief.
Jiao Lung met Xiu Lian who was already a family friend of the Yus when Xiu Lian was still engaged to textile merchant Mung Si Zhao.
Xiu Lian met Xiang Mei whilst Xiang Mei was investigating the whereabouts of Jade Fox.
Prince met everybody when they all went to his house to celebrate his birthday which was where Jiao Lung met Mu Bai who was presenting the sword to Prince Tie. And he met Xiu Lian when Xiu Lian helped Mu Bai with the investigations of the lost sword.
Mu Bai met Xian Niang when she was leaving Prince Tie's house one night after some "organ playing" (no sexual innuendo intended..she was carrying a Chinese organ).
Ok..the rest are not important.
What were their occupations? You know, jobs?
Mu Bai no occupation, just deliver sword.
Jiao Lung is the 3rd child and only daughter in the family so no need to work.
Mr Yu is the Gau Moon Tai Tuk meaning roughly the Governor of 9 Provinces or something like that which is a big big position in those days.
Prince Tie is a Prince waiting to usurp power of the King, so he is working, technically.
Xiu Lian's parents work as FedEx cum Securicor cum Bodyguards delivering goods.
Xian Niang is a part time prostitute, full time rebel.
Mung Si Zhao is a part time textile merchant and full time rebel.
Master Kao is a part time tutor to Jiao lung and full time rebel.
Jun Pei is a ..roughly translated as a...I would say he is in a high position as a scholar..something like a curator or librarian in charge of examinations and paper work .
Xiao Hu used to be a bandit leader in the desert and now a full time lover boy to Jiao lung.
Xia Mei is part time medicine woman and full time lovesick fool.
Tai Bao is a full time assistant of Prince Tie.
Xiang Mei was a marshall, whose job was to capture criminals but thereafter she became Xiu Lian's employee in the delivery business and thereafter she became jobless.
Who else? 5th Uncle Der is nothing but a full time employee of Prince Tie and part time failed match maker for Xiu Lian and Mu Bai.
The rest are not important.
How did the relationship or the love affair between Mu Bai and Xiu Lian started?
Mu Bai met Xiu Lian at her worst moment; she was ordered by her father to deliver one last package to somewhere far though before that she just came back from another assignment to discover her fellow employees cum brothers were slaughtered by the Jiangs. She listened and went to deliver the sealed box since her father said "Go or I'll disown you". She went, halfway through rested to drink some water from a river where Mu Bai saw his horse and took it back without realising the box was tied to the saddle. Xiu Lian chased after him, fought a bit and the box was accidentally opened and in there was a letter to Xiu Lian. Xiu Lian read the letter where her father explained why he wanted her to deliver the non existent of a goods because he was afraid the Jiangs will come and kill them all and she will be killed as well. He told her to forget about revenge and to live on. She ran home, Mu Bai followed along after reading her letter and Xiu Lian saw her whole family died, slaughtered like pigs by the army (the government). Filled with sadness and hatred, she killed every soldier there though Mu Bai tried to stop her as best as he could. Master Kao then arrived to realise his old friend was dead, and Mu Bai and Master Kao decided to accompany Xiu Lian to find her fiancee Mung that she had not seen for a while, only to be told by Mung's father that Mung was killed by the soldier some time back. Overcame by grief, Xiu Lian didn't care anymore though there was a scarred servant who was always there to serve her. When she finally decided to move on, Master Kao was worried that the Jiangs will come after her, especially that mad Jiang's wife, He Qian He, and so Mu Bai tagged along to protect her. Xiu Lian wasn't in a good mood and when Mu Bai every now and then talked very close to her, touched her shoulders (which was a taboo then) she snapped and told him to go away. He left only to pass by some fighting sound, flew up the tree and saw Xiu Lian being attacked by that mad woman whose husband was killed earlier by Xiu Lian (I believe by accident). Mu BAi then saved the day and Xiu Lian was seriously injured and he nursed her back to health. From there on she was nicer to him.
One scene I forgot which came first; the above or this scene. But there was one where Xiu Lian was attacked by He Qian He and Xiu Lian fought and fought, wanting to die with He Qian He when both fell over the cliff, He grabbing Xiu Lian's legs and Mu Bai grabbed Xiu Lian's hands. Xiu Lian asked Mu Bai to let her go but Mu Bai said.."I'll never let go of your hands", and Xiu Lian then kicked that woman and she fell to the ground (didn't die though) and Xiu Lian was grateful for Mu Bai's helping hand. Remember that statement by Mu Bai.
Anyway, when they parted ways, Xiu Lian decided to share her food supply with Mu Bai and Mu Bai was digging through the big sack and found a piece of paper written by Mung's father which indicated an address. Xiu Lian didn't understand what it was about but Mu Bai knew and told Xiu Lian of his suspiscion that the scarred servant was Mung Si Zhao himself, as his face was badly burned but strangely his hands weren't. Xiu Lian decided to go to town to seek an explanation why Mung lied to her about his death and Mu Bai tagged along to provide moral support. When Xiu Lian met Mung again, he explained that he was now a fugitive and didn't want Xiu Lian to live in danger. Xiu Lian rather emotionally said why he would think of her as a woman who could live through good times with him but not through hardships and that she will hold true to her promise (this was an arranged marriage) and Mung finally said "Stay".
Mu Bai wisely left before Xiu Lian came back out to tell him to leave and somehow, at that moment Xiu Lian missed the comforting presence of Mu Bai. I guess that was when it really started..the feelings and the longings on both sides but they have yet to interpret that as love.
How come Mu Bai loved to touch Xiu Lian? He got itchy fingers ah?
First of all, he grew up in the mountains amongst 100% men. So he never really knew what to do in front of a woman. he was being kind, brushing off dusts from her shoulders. But Xiu Lian took that as an insult because a man can't simply touch a woman like that. And Mu Bai talked very closely with Xiu Lian not because he was deaf but because he couldn't see much. He had eyesight problems that were later, much later corrected by Master Kao. So at first everything to him was a bit blur.
Then Mu Bai left to Wu Dang mountain and end of story?
Remember, he had a sword to deliver and he delivered the sword to Prince Tie. But he couldn't leave when one night the sword was stolen and Prince Tie requested for his assistance (so to speak, though Mu Bai was ready to stay and investigate). So whilst he investigated the theft, Prince Tie tried all the tricks in his book to convince Mu Bai to work for him, by being extra friendly with him, by giving him gifts like a specs (where Mu Bai for the first time saw things clearly but perhaps too clearly because he saw things he didn't want to see so when his specs was shattered, he was actually glad to be blur again), by having long conversations and asking for his advice. But Mu Bai was determined to go home and be a priest and so Prince Tie decided that since nothing much can be done, they could be good friends.
In your intro on Mu Bai, you said Mu Bai would abandon the idea of priesthood if he could find true love?
Which was Mu Bai's ultimate aim but at that time he didn't know who could be his true love so priesthood was still a choice though not a first choice.He did mention to Xiu Lian in one of their bonding moments that his aim in life is to "find someone to build a life together and love each other even until they become old and gray". Priesthood is an option when everything is not a-ok.Xiu Lian too wanted true love but as I have said in my intro on her,she was quite confusing. I would deduce that after watching the entire series, her ultimate aim was to have a family life, a life that was completely and utterly destroyed by that mad woman, He Qian He for not good reason. There is more but I shall reveal it at the end of this heading.
So Mu Bai found the sword?
Xiu Lian who at that time was engaged to Si Zhao and promised that she will retire from Kung Fu politics fought with the masked thief the night the sword was stolen and suspected it was Jiao Lung. Mu Bai suspected it was Jiao lung because the thief disappeared into the Governor's house, though most suspected the mysterious and wanted Jade Fox. In the end, Mu Bai found the sword because Jiao Lung allowed to be discovered, which was where I missed an episode worth of information on how Mu Bai confronted Jiao Lung about the sword and so I can't really answer how and when Mu Bai found the sword. And I missed also the introduction of the character of Mei Xia and how much she loved Xiao Hu.
But you said Mu Bai met Xiao Hu again that night where...
Which was the episode after the one I have missed so I can say for sure what happened thereafter. Yes Mu Bai and Xiu Lian was chasing Jiao Lung and swoosh Xiao Hu appeared (after leaving his bandit days behind in an attempt to hopefully convince his yet to be introduced future father in law, Mr Yu that he was good enough for his daughter) and there was a big reunion. Thereafter Jiao Lung agreed to return the sword when she saw how her father was searching frantically for the thief of the sword, seeing how tired he was and how much pressure the Prince was giving him. At that time Jade Fox was living with the Yus and Jiao Lung tricked Jade Fox into giving her the Jade Fox sword to keep it in a safe place. The next day Jiao lung gave the sword to Xiao Hu together with the Qing Ming sword and Xiao Hu took these two swords to Mr Yu and claimed that Xiao Hu killed the Jade Fox who stole the Qing Ming sword. Mr Yu was very happy to see Xiao Hu who used an alias at that time to conceal his real indentity and Mr Yu gladly showed Xiao Hu to Prince Tie who was equally as impressed. Xiao Hu was offered a job with Mr Yu and reluctantly, for his woman and their future, he said yes and began his ordeal of studying and getting to know Mr Yu personally. You see Mr Yu took in Xiao Hu and Xiao Hu became his own personal pet project; to re educate Xiao Hu into an official.
Why would Mr Yu want to re educate Xiao Hu ?
At first it was a rather selfish reason. Mu Bai was getting all the attention and praises from Prince Tie and so in Xiao Hu our Mr Yu saw a glimmer of hope to salvage his own reputation in front of Prince Tie. HOe wanted to use Xiao Hu as his way to get into the Prince's favour.
Later on he saw Xiao Hu as a son. You see Mr Yu had two sons, both were scholars and knew nothing about Kung Fu. Jiao Lung was a girl who was not supposed to know Kung Fu and Mr and Mrs Yu didn't know that she knew Kung Fu. In fact nobody knew except for Master Kao, Mu Bai, Xiao Hu and Xiu Lian. So in Xiao Hu Mr Yu saw himself when he was young and he wanted very much for this young man to lead a good and decent life.
Why Jiao Lung stole the sword in the first place if she felt heartsick seeing her father worrying about the whereabouts of the sword?
She was curious because that sword had such a reputation..that it could cut through ANYTHING and so she wanted to try, since she knew the lost Wu Dang kung fu which she secretly learned after discovering Master Kao burying a kung fu manual in the grave of a dead Wu Dang master. She learned it at that time to go back to desert and kill Xiao Hu.
Wait!! What lost Wu Dang Kung Fu Manual??
Should I reveal it here? Ok.
Master Kao learned his Kung Fu by stealing the Wu Dang Kung Fu manual. he wasn't an official Wu Dang disciple. But one Wu Dang master taught him the Kung Fu and when that master died and Master Kao had with him the lost Wu Dang Kung Fu Manual (said to be stolen but I am not sure if Master Kao stole the manual) which had quite a reputation. The kung fu in the manual combined with the other 5 elements of Gold, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth (in the form of the time a person is born to therefore these 5 elements are actually people with the precise time element) could open the door to hidden unknown treasure that promised such great power to whoever who found it..meaning that person can rule the Kingdom and become the Emperor of China. But the power in the kung fu from the manual can only be fully utillised using the Qing Ming sword.
So now you know how important the manual is.
Master Kao hid it in the grave of the dead Wu Dang master and then went away to visit Xiu Lian's parents and do his stuff (which will be the info in the first part of my review). Remember Jiao Lung who can't seem to beat the crap out of Xiao Hu? Well she went to the grave and got the manual and learned it. BUT there she had one big disadvantage that caused her to nose bleed and unable to control her violently shaking hands; the kung fu manual must be learned together with the (direct translation : The Ways of the Heart but my own translation is ..) Ways of Inner Concentration of the Mind. You have to learn the Kung Fu (representing the brute force) and the meditation type of it (representing the philosophy of the power contained in the manual) to be truly successful. And when combined with the Qing ming sword, only then will one be able to cut through ANYTHING with the sword. So in the true sense of Tai-Chi philosophy, you have got to have a combination of hard and soft..ying and yang..to overcome the harshness of a certain matter, perhaps adopt a soft approach because brute force will only get you this far and the rest is about inner concentration, patience and overcoming the difficult by devising a solution that is the opposite of the force used.
My point is the sword, Kung manual and the heart thing is very important.
Jiao Lung had the manual, she had the brute force (knowledge of the kung fu) but Mu Bai was a step above her though he knew nothing about the lost kung fu. He for as long as he had lived (since he was 23 years old, I assume he started learning kung fu at 3) for 2 decades have been learning the inner concentration of Mind. So as Master Kao said, it would be easier and faster for him to learn the manual than Jiao lung to learn the concentration thing.
Why am I dedicating so much space to this one point is because you must see the logic of the whole thing, as almost the entire premise of this series is built on the notion of approaches, perspective, hard and soft. Especially the story of both Mu Bai and Prince Tie.I will explain myself later.
The Prince got back the sword, Mr Yu became a happier man, Xiao Hu the hero, Jiao Lung the naughty one..what else ? So Mu Bai went home then?
No. Because Mu Bai knew now that Xiu Lian knew the lost Kung Fu and he wanted Jiao Lung to rewrite the whole Kung Fu Manual which was destroyed in the fire that killed Master Kao so that he can bring it back to his sifus. So he had to stay and though Jiao Lung was reluctant and after many many scenes of emotional threat by Xiao Hu who really wanted to help Mu Bai, Jiao Lung agreed. But later when Xiao Hu saw that Xiu Lian and Mu Bai had that love affair that neither wanted to admit or were reluctant to admit, Xiao Hu decided to play cupid and told Jiao Lung to take all the time in the world to finish that manual so that Mu Bai can stay longer.
Xiu Lian and Mu Bai were in the same town?
Small world eh? Yep.
Wait! Wait!! Master Kao DIED?
Which was something I have already revealed in my intro on Master Kao but with a twist which I will reveal much later but you would have already guessed by now. Yes he died. His estranged wife, the well known wanted criminal Jade Fox aka Geng Liu Niang went after Master Kao for the manual. Apparently she married him because she knew he had that manual and he gave her a copy which was false. So one night she searched for Master Kao in his room, had one huge fight and Master Kao threw that manual aside. Candle dropped conveniently on the bed and the bed caught fire and the book was destroyed. Jade Fox wanted to reach for the book but Master Kao stopped her and pushed her out of his burning room and he himself was trapped in there. Later on we didn't really see his face but Jiao Lung heard him and Master Kao told her to be good and that she must learn the The Ways Of Inner Concentration of The Mind from a man called Li Mu Bai and he coughed, coughed, coughed and died. Jiao Lung listened but didn't really run to Mu Bai as soon as Master Kao died. Thereafter, the Yus took in Jade Fox (without knowing she was Jade Fox but pitited her as the widow) and she and Jiao Lung bonded. That was when Jiao Lung stole the Qing Ming sword and all of the above happened.
So did she become Mu Bai's student?
Mu Bai was so desperate for the manual he even kneeled down before the arrogant and naughty Jiao Lung and even Xiu Lian couldn't stand her unreasonable demands and her "I like I do, I don't like I don't care" attitude. Even Xiao Hu was angry with Jiao Lung. BUT nope, not so soon. She didn't become her student until much much later under very different circumstances.
So Mu Bai stayed on and so what about him and Xiu Lian?
Very interesting. They got involved, or rather Xiu Lian got involved in a lover's fight with Mu Bai, so to speak. You see Mu Bai was rather friendly with Xian Niang, a woman he met at Prince Tie's house and was instantly attracted to her piano skills. She played the song that he had always heard in his heart, the same tune that Master Kao always played using the flute. So from time to time he will meet with Xian Niang and have a chat with her. One day Xiu Lian saw him with Xian Niang walking into the brothel and she was so angry she was blinded by her own jealousy. When Mu Bai was told by Xiao Hu that Xiu Lian came and asked for him, he immediately went to the shop to find her. She was so very cold to him at that moment, Siberia would seem like a tropical country. Anyway, he didn't understand why and Xiu Lian rudely pushed him away and shouted at him to go away. Then Mung came out (at this time Mung knew Xiu Lian's heart may be somewhere else) and Xiu Lian quickly ran to him, carried things for him, wiped off his sweat on his forehead, etc whilst Mu Bai who was walking away turned his head to look at Xiu Lian. When Mu Bai walked further away from the shop and was so confused at Xiu Lian's sudden cold treatment and angry stares, Xiu Lian immediately stopped her act with Mung and looked very disappointed. Mung was extremely jealous but wisely remained quiet.
So what did Mu Bai and Xian Niang did in the brothel? Was Xiu Lian right? That Mu Bai was a lying cheating bastard?
Guess what he did? All the years of Kung Fu he learned and he used it to help Xian Niang to decorate the brothel with ribbons by flying up and flying down. Anyway, they almost did something. Xian Niang who knew Mu Bai wanted to experience love (he told her in a previous encounter and she invited him to the brothel where he could experience "love" and our Mr Ben Ben Guy followed) told Mu Bai to go to her room. in there they had a nice talk and then Xian Niang slowly approached his lips and ALMOST kissed him when Mu Bai stood up, apologised, said he wanted TRUE LOVE and left Xian Niang, who almost cried. So actually they did nothing.
Xiu Lian never spoke to Mu Bai again?
Poor guy and poor Xian Niang. Xian Niang and her fellow "colleagues" went to her shop to buy cloth and Xiu Lian rudely ignored Xian Niang. And then Xiu Lian overheard that the girls wanted to buy some cloth to make clothes for Mu Bai and Xiu Lian became jealous again. But Xian Niang, who could have taken that opportunity to further destroy Mu Bai's reputation in Xiu Lian's heart did nothing of that sort and even explained what he did there. Xiu Lian then realised she was so wrong, and went to apologise to Mu Bai who at that time was at his cutest; he was wearing spectacles/glasses, a generous gift from the Prince.
The Prince gave Mu Bai gifts?
What you expect? He wanted to buy Mu Bai's loyalty. It was that simple. But Mu Bai ain't that cheap or money minded. Instead Mu bai gained the respect of the Prince.
So Xiu Lian still went back to Mung after her moments of jealousy?
Obviously she was crazy about Mu Bai but yet she still had Mung. Unfortunately Mung did not like Xiu Lian being involved in the Kung Fu politics and out of anger (the episode which I have missed) she left Mung and helped Mu Bai with the investigation of the theft of the Qing Ming sword. One night, Mu Bai and Xiao Hu were having their "happy hour" and all of a sudden, Mu Bai asked Xiao Hu , "what does a man do to get a woman's heart" and Xiao Hu, thinking Mu Bai was asking him for ideas to woo Xiu Lian answered "flowers" and Mu Bai then asked "What a man should expect from a woman?" and Xiao Hu answered "that the woman cooks for him". Happily Xiao Hu thought he did a good thing.
I thought too. But you know why Mu Bai asked? One morning Xiu Lian received a bouquet of flowers with a letter to meet that sender of the flowers at a special place, signed by Mung Si Zhao and Mung received a basket of his favourite desert and a note by Xiu Lian to meet her at a special place. Both came, talked for a while, and Xiu Lian realised that Mu Bai was the one who patched them up. Happily Mung asked Xiu Lian to come home and she agreed.
Imagine my horror! How can? Why was Mu Bai doing so much to destroy his one chance to be with the woman that he obviously liked so much, a woman he was falling for and obviously the woman wanted him and yet..WHY?? The answer is somewhere below.
So Mr Ben Ben Guy just let his woman go? Lucky Mung Si Zhao.
Not so. One day, Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung saw Mung walking into the brothel in a very intimate fashion with the local prostitute Xie Xian Niang and immediately deduced he was having an affair with that woman. Mu Bai knew since Jiao Lung told him and everybody told him to tell Xiu Lian and take this opportunity to woo her. Being the calm Mu Bai, he said no and even went to confront Mung and asked him what was going on between Xian Niang and him. Mung replied nothing and Mu Bai let it be. Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung was so emotional that they refused to talk to him and left him alone. Poor Xiu Lian knew nothing about the supposed sordid affair.
Did Mu Bai at last revealed the secret trysts of Mung to Xiu Lian?
Not him but that noisy and painful Liu Tai Bao who saw Xiu Lian and Mu Bai together said something about the man seeing another woman and the woman herself was actually also seeing another man. After finding out who the "other woman" was, she gate crashed into Xie's room and saw both of them having a very civilised affair; neither was on top of one another but rather one was blowing his flute and another playing her organ. Ok, that didn't sound like I wanted it to but bear in mind, flute and organ..both musical instruments.
Poor Xiu Lian was rudely shouted at by Mung who turned heartless then by confessing that he loved Xie and not Xiu Lian and that he agreed to take care of her because of their parents' promise years ago. Mu Bai came in time to give him one punch, and Xiu Lian broke off the engagement there and then, left, She ran, cried, pushed, ran some more, fell and then hugged Mu Bai. When she went back to the hotel (she can't go home since she had no home to go to) she was over emotional, accusing Mu Bai of betraying her and even slapping him, and act she regretted just one second after the palm of her hand hit his chubby cute cheeks. He looked...a bit shocked but before anything could be said, Jiao Lung who was there witnessing this rather interesting event smacked Xiu Lian's back and she promptly fainted. Mu Bai carried her into his room but Jiao Lung and Xiao Hu who both saw him as a coward left him. But there were more than what Mu Bai was ready to reveal.
What was the "more" that Mu Bai wasn't ready to reveal to the public?
The moment of truth ladies and gentleman.
Xiao Hu came back to get his books, ready to ignore Mu Bai (on the orders of his beloved) when he saw and overheard Mu Bai talking to the sleeping Xiu Lian, confessing his love for her from the moment he first saw her he was in love with her and wanted to give her what he thought was best for her. Xiao Hu later was told by Mu Bai that Mu Bai was a wanderer, someone not suitable for a relationship since he had nothing to offer and Mung was the one for her. And also in his mind he thought Xiu Lian loved Mung and not him. He was ready to have a talk wth Mung and persuade Xiu Lian to forgive Mung. Very frustrating indeed because everybody could see how much she liked him but Mu Bai was too blur to see that.
So basically Mung was a two timing bastard and Xie the prostitute with two hearts? One for Mu Bai and one for Mung?
Though we all wish he was a scum, unfortunately he wasn't. After Xiu Lian left, Xie asked him if he was sure he did the right thing and he said for the sake of her safety and happiness he was sure of it. Then there was an applause from a mysterious figure who, as I have predicted in my Intro, was the very much alive Master Kao. He pretended to die because he wanted to concentrate full time on his rebel activities and he praised Mung for his bravery; though Mung loved Xiu Lian deeply, he didn't want to see her suffer and so better to let her go. Now we all know why he was always discouraging Xiu Lian from re entering the Kung Fu world; because he didn't want too much attention. A very brave and giving man, albeit a painful looking brave and giving man. Thanks to him Mu Bai now had a legitimate chance and also thanks to him we all know that Xiu Lian will have a difficult time choosing between the two of them when she knew the truth. HELL!
By the way Xie was a misunderstood woman. She too belonged to the secret society and she helped Mung with his "mission" in kicking Xiu Lian out of his life. But nevertheless she was still a prostitute. What's with rebels and prostitutes? In DOMD 1997, there were psostitutes who were rebels; probably the rebel gang needed funding.
What then happened to poor Xiu Lian?
She went back to get her stuff and was rudely kicked out (figuratively) by an Oscar worthy performance by Mung and Xie. And she cried and cried because she now had no where to go and that she said she was so stupid to honour a promise to a man who didn't honour his but surprisingly, Jiao Lung who can't stand two timing cheating bastards like Mung invited Xiu Lian to live with her and they became insatiable as best friends from thereon, though earlier Jiao Lung was very rude to Xiu Lian. She, Xiu Lian and Jade Fox agreed that women must stick together.
What then happened to poor Mu Bai?
Xiu Lian never heard his confession of love but she already forgave him. She had a soft spot in her heart for this man.
What happened to Xiao Hu?
Jiao Lung at first refused to talk to him because Xiao Hu talked to Mu Bai when she told him not to. But then she found out Xiao Hu was willing to abandon his care free life and fight for the Kung Fu scholar title (a competetition devised by Prince Tie who himself recommended Xiao Hu as one of the candidates), he studied hard, so hard that Mr Yu was impressed with his progress. Unfortunately during the exams, he before that day crossed Jiao Lung's fiancee, Pei Jun's path by insulting him (Xiao Hu was right to do so since that pest kept pestering Jiao Lung). And so Pei Jun who was one of the marker/examiner in the exam, marked him down and he wasn't one of the five finalists. But the Prince insisted that Xiao Hu's name be in the list, no matter how badly he did. And so it was done.
Why the Prince insisted on Xiao Hu's name in the list and was Xiao Hu that bad in the exams?
Why? Because the whole thing was to persuade and to give the Prince a justification to entice Xiao Hu to serve the Prince later on. Though the Prince was more impressed with Mu Bai and his honourable way of life, the Prince also liked Xiao Hu because Xiao Hu could fight and was pretty heroic. If the Prince had his way, he would want both Xiao Hu and Mu Bai. However unbeknownst to both the Prince and Mu Bai, Master Kao had plans for Mu Bai and the rebel gang.
Xiao Hu didn't do too bad in the exams. He didn't write much because Jiao Lung wasn't there. But Jiao Lung was actually rushing there with Xiu Lian but was blocked by a bunch of students protesting against the government and was almost pushed out of the horse cart when Mung who was there to supervise the whole rebel movement was forced to disrupt the whole mission to rescue Xiu Lian. But they didn't know it was him because in Xiu Lian's mind;
a) Mung was a bastard
b) Mung was a coward
c) Mung was a recluse
Anyway, since his beloved wasn't there to give him moral support, Xiao Hu was pretty depressed but Mu Bai who was there asked the Prince to lend him his pocket watch which so happened to have the same musical tune as the one that Jiao Lung's father gave him as an encouragement gift, which he gave it to Jiao Lung. When he heard that musical tune, he was motivated. Whether he did well or not I do not know.
On that day, Xiu Lian was impressed with two men; that mysterious figure that saved her life and Mu Bai, whom she saw giving the watch to the Prince and quickly realised what had happened; she even praised Mu Bai; that "He is always like that; giving and helping unconditionally, never wanting nor seeking credit for what he did". Don't tell me that isn't love? Awwwwwww...
What happened to Mung after he failed in his mission?
I didn't even know he had a mission except to stand around next to Xie, looking serious and heroic. But apparently he did but whatever he was supposed to do he didn't, which led to a very painful punishment; he had to cut his one finger. And when I said cut, I meant chop off his one precious finger, and Xiu Lian didn't even realise it. If there was really a Xiu Lian in today's world, she would be the most hated person for reasons that I shall hypothetically though logically deduce later into this already long review.
So Mu Bai is forgiven and at last Mu Bai confesses his love to Xiu Lian, issit?
The funny thing about the guys that fell for Xiu Lian is actually quite an interesting aspect of this series. Whilst Jiao Lung's Pei Jun and Xiao Hu openly confessed their utmost devotion to this girl, our poor Xiu Lian had to be satisfied with statements such as "I am leaving your for your own good" or "To leave you means I love you". Basically Mung left her because he loved her too much that he didn't want to see her hurt whilst Mu Bai until now have yet to confess his love for this woman because also for her own good. It was killing me big time because it was so darn obvious Xiu Lian was in love with Mu Bai. Remember when Mung covered his face and saved her from the mob when Jiao Lung and Xiu Lian were on their way to see Xiao Hu compete in the Kung Fu Scholar competition? That night when they slept Jiao Lung dreamt that it was Xiao Hu behind the mask whilst Xiu Lian dreamt that it was Mu Bai. Jiao Lung said whoever you see in the dream is the one that she really loves. Much later Xiu Lian dreamt the same dream and this time she saw Mu Bai's face more clearly and she woke up with a smile on her face. Of course she knew that man wasn't Mu Bai but she still smiled, like a woman in love. Mu Bai on the other hand was madly in love with her because he would protect her no matter what. When Xiu Lian said she wanted to find employment in her former job, you know the federal express cum securicor delivery service, and all potential employers shunned her because she is a woman and she could beat even the head of the agency, Mu Bai smartly advised her why not she pretends to lose a little, and give those head of the agencies some "face". Wise words and Xiu Lian was impressed because our Mu Bai has finally grow up into a rather wise man. She did as he advised her and guess what? She got the job and the first thing she did was to RUN to Mu Bai with the good news. He was patiently waiting for him outside the agency to give her moral support. By this point of the review, you would feel the same way about my review that I would have felt when I watched this series; you and I will both scream "GET TO THE POINT!!". For once, a hug! A kiss! Whatever! CONFESS!!
So Xiu Lian got her old job back, she has a new love interest, she is willing, interested and available for Mu Bai and Mu Bai is interested, available but not willing (yet)...what else can happen then?
Jiao Lung. That trouble maker finally met her match. Remember the earlier part of the review where I wrote Xiu Lian's family was killed in one day in cold blood by the He Qian He mad woman? I thought she was Jade Fox but anyway, she was more crazy than Jade Fox. That mad woman saw Xiu Lian leaving the agency, went in and hired the agency specifying that Xiu Lian be the delivery girl to deliver a package to a Li Family, then went back to a real Li family and KILLED the entire family, even drink their blood a bit, and waited for Xiu Lian with this set trap. Unfortunately for He mad woman and fortunately for Xiu Lian, Jiao Lung felt a little naughty that day. She drugged Xiu Lian into a deep sleep, wore her clothes, took her twin knives, covered her face with a cloth saying she had flu, took the delivery job, and went to the Li family feeling like a heroic woman. She stepped into the He trap that was not meant for her, she fought and fought and guess what? She lost because He mad woman used dirty tricks like spraying poison onto her face and thus our Jiao Lung was in big trouble. Many of that He mad woman's followers recognised Jiao Lung as a governor's daughter and was afraid to cross Governor Yu's path but guess what our mad He woman said? "Do as I said, we do what we must" which means KILL KILL KILL. Xiu Lian woke up and realised what had happened, quickly rushed to the Li family and on the way met Mu Bai who received an anonymous letter about Xiu Lian's trip to Li family. They went to the Li household to find blood and dead bodies everywhere but there was no sign of Jiao Lung. Mu Bai told Xiu Lian to run back to Mr Yu and get help which she promptly did. Xiao Hu went crazy with worry and was crying frantically when he couldn't find Jiao Lung. After all her father promised him her hand in marriage and she was half his woman already. Unfortunately, they couldn't find her and Xiu Lian blamed herself but super calm Mu Bai said "Don't blame yourself". When I say super calm, he was surprisingly TOO CALM. Wonder how he will react if that was Xiu Lian? Will he do a Ma Jing Tao on us? You know tears, saliva flying everywhere, destroying everything in his path, scream and rubbing his own chest?
WAIT! Mr Yu promised Xiao Hu Jiao Lung's hand in marriage? He knew?!
Funny but true. When Xiao Hu was one of the 5 finalists in the competition, Mr Yu gave him his precious sword. A sword that he couldn't give his 2 own sons because they were scholars, not fighters whilst Jiao Lung was a daughter. In his eyes he saw Xiao Hu as his son and when he gave him that sword he also promised Xiao Hu if he wins the competition, he will be quite suitable to be Jiao Lung's husband, as his status would be elevated to the same as Mr Yu's. Xiao Hu was ecstatic and I guess Mr Yu was a smart man who knew much more that he looked. BUT mama Jiao Lung didn't like that arrangement and she gave her precious family jade to Pei Jun who was there for dinner as a sign of acceptance but Mr Yu simply dismissed Pei Jun's insistence to talk about the wedding with "We will discuss later". When it was time for dinner, Mrs Yu deliberately let Xiao Hu join them for dinner, to embarrass him since she thought Xiao Hu didn't know how to use chopsticks. But this time Xiao Hu knew and Mr Yu was more impressed with his potential future son in law. Of course all Mrs Yu can do was sulk.
Come back to Jiao Lung and that He Qian He mad woman. What happened to Jiao Lung?
Luckily, and predictably she wasn't killed but was locked up in a wooden cage, screaming for Xiao Hu. The Prince saw this as an opportunity to destroy the rebel gang when the Yus received a letter purportedly written by the rebel gang that they have kidnapped Jiao Lung. Only Mu Bai and Xiu Lian could think reasonably, but Xiao Hu and everybody else went into "I don't care, I'll kill kill and kill to get her back" mode.
Why Mu Bai didn't suspect the rebels?
Simple. First of all Jiao Lung was dressed as Xiu Lian when she was delivering the goods. Whatever hurt was inflicted it was intended for Xiu Lian and not Jiao Lung. If the rebel gang wanted to kidnap her, they would have done so in another more logical situation. The attack was aimed at Xiu Lian and Mu Bai. A little girl, the sole survivor of the attack confirmed all that and more when she woke up from the coma, but not before many innocent rebel gangs were slaughtered by Xiao Hu. And an anonymous letter written by Master Kao confirmed Mu Bai's suspicion. AND more importantly, though the rebel gangs were in o cutting off own member's fingers, they're not so low so as to kidnap a supposed innocent girl who didn't know Kung Fu.
Something good must have come out from this whole mess right?
Yes, for Xiao Hu. Jiao Lung's mother was so desperate she even blessed Xiao Hu and gave him a protection mantra as long as he brings Jiao Lung back. Her love for her daughter outweighs her disgust for this "uneducated" nobody.
Was Jiao Lung at last saved? Any showdown, fierce battle, blood?
Unfortunately, all kung fu scenes in this series is so bloody short, and when it is getting better..urrghhh..the enemy keels over and dies.
Mu Bai and Xiu Lian rushed to Li Household (bodies still everywhere) when the little girl mentioned that Jiao Lung wrote something on the floor before she was taken away. They went to the house and search and found the words written on the floor, about a location. They went there but there was nobody there. Xiu Lian was frantic but Mu Bai meditated on that fact and though Xiu Lian told him to stop what he was doing, he continued medidating and remembered something that Xiao Hu said of Jiao Lung; "When she says I Hate You she means I love you. She always says the opposite" and so Mu Bai deduced that the place she wrote on the floor was actually somewhere else. They went there to find Jiao Lung missing and many men charging at them. Xiu Lian went to look for Jiao Lung in a suddenly snow filled place and found Jiao lung just in time before the mad woman was about to finish her off. In fact earlier that mad woman received a letter by an unknown leader to kill Jiao Lung, giving them more excuse to kill all rebels, though the ordinary people, when they read the news about a missing daughter of an official dismissed the whole missing incident as something frivolous, something that they really didn't care nor want to care. The people were already dissatisfied with the government.
Xiu Lian went into a fierce battle with that mad woman and thought she killed her. She carried a seriously hurt, weakened but grateful Jiao Lung on her back when that mad woman arose and refused to die. She went charging at them and seriously hurt Xiu Lian in the process. In one of the most sentimental and revealing moment, Xiu Lian said to Jiao Lung;
"You musn't die, because you have Xiao Hu"
And Jiao Lung looked at her and said;
"You musn't die too, you have Li Mu Bai".
That was it.NOW WE KNOW ABOUT XIU LIAN'S FEELINGS WHEN SHE JUST LOOKED AT JIAO LUNG, DIDN'T EVEN DENY JIAO LUNG'S STATEMENT. Hurray!
BUT they were both ready to die when that mad woman was ready to give them her almighty double palm strike when their hero, handsome Mu Bai came. He told them to be calm and he simply fought a few kung fu styles and that woman was already losing the fight. But Mu Bai didn't want to hurt her, and he kept trying to reason with her, saying she should let go of all hate but she refused and so Mu Bai had no choice but to give her a good punch and off she flew, banged against a tree trunk, spit a whole lot of blood, called out her dead husband's name and basically, died, all in the order that I have written it in.And later we will find out that this mad woman was like a walking talking angry "vampire"; she just refused to die! So at the end of the day she didn't die, disappointingly.
So everything's a-ok now?
Ahhhh..the plot thickens. When Mu Bai was fighting with that mad woman in one of the most beautifully choreographed Kung Fu moves in this series, Jiao Lung and Xiu Lian couldn't take their eyes off him. When after the fight he carried both of them to the horse at the same time, both women looked at him, as if they were possessed in their hearts and souls. When Mu Bai carried Jiao Lung onto the horse's back, Jiao Lung suddenly held Mu Bai's hand and called him her hero. She was simply in awe of him and I predict Xiao Hu's position in her heart plummetted when Mu Bai touched her face because he was concerned about her injuries.
You must watch this scene to see the way Jiao Lung looked at him. When she said;
" I realise now who my hero is, it is you", Mu Bai and Xiu Lian dismissed that statement by saying.."Ah..a little girl's talk". But I think her admiration is deeper than just little girl's talk.
Did Mr Yu found out who kidnapped Jiao Lung and apologise for killing the innocent rebels?
Yes and No. And the most missing element was the reaction of the people; why not show some about how the people feel when Xiao Hu and gang slaughtered the innocent rebels?
Anyway, the Prince who was the commander behind every action of the mad woman (except for killing or wanting to kill Xiu Lian) put all the blame on the supposedly dead mad woman and he came off as squeaky clean, and he was beginning to set a trap to bait Mu Bai into his dragon's lair.
Aiyor... ENGLISH please!
The Prince wants to tempt Mu Bai into servicing his Royal Highness.
So what happened next with Jiao Lung? Xiao Hu's out and Mu Bai's in?
Fickle minded Jiao Lung now wants a hero for a husband. From "Li Mu Bai", now he is "Mu Bai Ge Ge" (Big Brother Mu Bai). Anyway she kept holding onto his hands even when Xiao Hu came after receiving Mu Bai's news on Jiao Lung's whereabouts. Xiao Hu became jealous and the worst was when she was lying on the bed, she was crying out for Mu Bai again and again and Xiao Hu huffed and puffed and simply left. Mu Bai now became truly the "ben-ben" (idiotic) Mu Bai when he kept coming to Jiao Lung with flowers, sweets, flour puppets, etc because you see, he was just a nice guy. Xiu Lian kept telling Xiao Hu to think more clearly but even Xiu Lian was jealous when she unreasonably said to him;
"Even if I am dead you wouldn't notice"
but our ben-ben guy just so bloody blur said "You were not very seriously hurt compared to Xiao Lung (yep, he called her that) and she is after all the daughter of a governor and a lady, to have been through what she went through...".
When Jiao Lung was better she became a girl in awe again and she refused and even ignored poor Xiao Hu even when her father openly said he knew about their love affair and he would permit their union but our heroine just kept running away from that suggestion.
But the crux of poor Xiao Hu's predicament came when the Prince wanted to award Mu Bai with the Kung Fu Scholar title since he was the one who won the challenge posed by the Prince; rescue Jiao Lung. But he said no and in the end he agreed to fight the last 5 finalists in a duel and whoever wins, that person will get the title. That will be like the most impossible thing to do because Mu Bai was a highly skilled fighter but Xiao Hu swore to finish him off. Jiao Lung became even more malicious when she deliberately led Xiao Hu to Master Kao's cemetery at night so that he could see how affectionate she was with Mu Bai, and though Mu Bai was there to teach her the Kung Fu, our Xiao Hu became so enraged that he screamed that they were no longer friends. And guess what he did? Nope, he didn't go to another woman but he went gambling, got drunk and became a total embarrassment to the Yus, though Mr Yu was understanding enough to know his daughter was the problem. He even knew she knew Kung Fu!
How come Mr Yu knew Jiao Lung knew Kung Fu?
Well, the doctor who examined Jiao Lung said luckily she got Kung Fu to help sustain her life if not she would have died. And Jiao Lung herself confessed though Mrs Yu was still blur about it about the whole thing.
Poor Xiao Hu and poor Mu Bai, no longer friends?
Earlier, Mu Bai was summoned by his sifu (sifu was blind by the way) and Mu Bai revealed his confusion to his sifu. And we were then told why Mu Bai was sent for this mission and why the sword was given to the Prince when they all knew the Prince was up to no good.
In flashback mode, Mu Bai was chosen because he could fight even his own Sifu's sifu and remember that first scene where he did the tai-chi in the rain? The scene that I loved so bloody much and apparently the sifus saw that as potential that this young man had. And so they wanted him to gain experience. All the Kung fu in the world will never be able to beat the lessons learned by just seeing the world with his own eyes.
The next minute, swoosh, the sifu left. Of course the Sifu walked away, and did I mention he was blind?! Anyway, before he left he gave a piece of paper to Mu Bai and told him to be careful of that person. That person turned out to be a chinese name that poor me can't read but later I knew the name was Master Kao. Jiao Lung and Mu Bai was surprised that he was still very much alive. One question though; if the sifus knew so much, why didn't they tell poor Mu Bai earlier rather than sending him deeper into the web of deceit and confusion? One answer;
" Mu Bai, you must learn the ways of the world for you to be wiser, and experience the world with your own eyes to gain the necessary experience to advance the knowledge of your Kung Fu which will in the end benefit you greatly. In other words, go dig your own grave.....I will there to give some long but useless advice."
Spoken by yours truly, Sifu Funn Lim.
So Mu Bai must get Jiao Lung to learn that other complimentary Kung Fu to that lost manual?
Well for once Jiao Lung was eager and she quickly called Mu Bai SIFUUUUU. And guess what? In one of the most confusing scene, she went on to tease Mu Bai about Xiu Lian. And I thought much earlier she said to Xiu Lian that she saw Mu Bai in her dreams as that hero that saved their lives and she asked a shocked Xiu Lian;
"Is it ok with you?"
And our stubborn Xiu Lian said, "Sure, whoever's in your dream is not my concern", but of course she then turned her head away and Jiao Lung smiled that wicked smile and Xiu Lian had that deadly stare. You must see that stare. Enough to kill you for the heartbreak she was experiencing. I even heard a crack!
You mean now Jiao Lung has got a "thing" for Mu Bai?
To the point of driving Xiao Hu insane with jealousy, drove him to gambling, made him an alcoholic and then swoosh, he disappeared, not wanting to participate in the Kung Fu Scholar competition, though Jiao Lung did go, saw and insulted him into believing against Mu Bai he was nothing. But really it was more of a challenge than an insult. But Xiao Hu did not change nor mend his hard drinking ways.
How come Jiao Lung was so cruel to Xiao Hu?
She was even worse with Xiu Lian. Whenever she saw Xiu Lian, she was exceptionally intimate with the blur Mu Bai, holding his hands, running her hands on his shoulders, saying words that only lovers should say like teasing him...and then she would run after Xiu Lian and gloat about her feelings for Mu Bai. Xiu Lian was even reduced to tears when she met the Prince, who previously offered her a chance of a lifetime; he will sponsor her "Sung Yian Biau Ju" which was the name of her dead father's FedEx business. She didn't want to at first but after Jiao Lung's gloating and Mu Bai's blur-blur response, she decided career was more important. And yet whenever she saw Jiao Lung, she felt hurt.
So Mu Bai's out of Xiu Lian's life and he is now officially Jiao Lung's new love interest?
Apparently, NO and NO. After being rather emotional myself, (I felt like kicking both Mu Bai and especially Jiao Lung), we will discover actually Jiao Lung was pretending to be really nice to Mu Bai. After being rescued, she really liked and admired Mu Bai but her heart was still with Xiao Hu, but she did what she did to make Xiu Lian jealous so that she will reveal her feelings to Mu Bai, since Mu Bai didn't seem like revealing his anytime sooner. Mu Bai finally understood Jiao Lung's actions and even scolded her for being so hurtful to poor Xiao Hu but has the damage been done?
Yeah, has the damage been done? To both Xiao Hu and Xiu Lian?
Xiu Lian though extremely jealous nevertheless agreed to the Prince's insistence to allow Mu Bai to stay at her office place cum house until after the fight that Mu Bai was supposed to be in. She very reluctantly agreed. Whilst staying there with the other dispatch boys with that noisy and painful Tai Bao (the Prince's man sent there as Chief of Administration) and the insignificant Chai Xiang Mei (who came to Xiu Lian for a job), Xiu Lian kept bumping into Mu Bai. Whilst Mu Bai have hurt her many times without knowing nor realising it, this man knew how to make her love him even more by eating her really tasteless food, renovating her whole house in a day and not taking credit for his contribution, cooked, doing the Tai-Chi every morning in front of her (which is a very potent and rather sensual scene , in my humble opinion), brush the dust off her pretty face (ah, surely you can feel the sexual tension there!) and even rescuing her when she fell from the ladder whilst fixing her business' plate in a rather interesting fashion. The woman was even more crazy for Mu Bai, that whatever Jiao Lung said, how many tears it didn't matter. This whole "I love you but I can't tell you" business came to an almost stop when Xiu Lian gave a fan with unknown words (by her) written by the Prince as a gift to Mu Bai. When Mu Bai saw the words on the fan, he went wide eyed and read "Tian Qiang Di Jiu" meaning "Together Forever" and Xiu Lian quickly denied she wrote it and that it was a mistake since the Prince wrote it.
And I shall reiterate what were spoken between the two to the best of my ability because this was the scene I have been waiting for 19 bloody episodes and yet.....
Mu Bai : "I wish you meant every word.."
Xiu Lian : "You are just the same as Jiao Lung, always teasing me, and look at what you have done to Xiao Hu.."
Mu Bai: " It was Jiao Lung's plan to make you angry..and I wish you were angry"
Xiu Lian : " It was Jiao Lung? I do not understand..I must ask her.."
Mu Bai :"There is no need to ask her..I will tell you; I have been wanting to tell you.."
Xiu Lian : "Tell me? What?"
Mu Bai : "Remember the promise I made?"
Mu Bai : "Together forever, till the days we are old and gray?"
Xiu Lian :" But you said you wanted to become a Taoist priest?"
Mu Bai:" I did but.....I have wanted to say..Miss Yu..that I..I.."
And AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME, THE VERY MOMENT I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR, THE CONFESSION AND THAT IDIOT OF A CHAI XIANG MEI APPEARED AND DRAGGED XIU LIAN AWAY FOR SOME UNIMPORTANT BUSINESS, but Mu Bai smiled a bit. Arghhhhhhhhhhh...............................
But what about Xiao Hu? What happened to him?
Poor Xiao Hu will have more worries to come. You see, Master Kao found out Xiao Hu was his dead best friend's long lost son (thanks to Jade Fox) and he approached a shocked Mu Bai (because Master Kao was still very much alive) and told him everything; that one powerful guy called Yang Gung Jiu became obsessed with Xiao Hu's mom and in the process of having her all for himself, he framed his father of something (murder I think) and Mr Yu, who was a minister of a different rank at that time believed the story, beheaded Xiao Hu's father with his very own hands. Xiao Hu's mom died of depression. When Mr Yu realised the mistake that he had done, he tried looking for the dead man's successors but couldn't and lived with regret all his life. How Master Kao knew because Yu told him. How Master Kao lost Xiao Hu when he was little was due to his rebel activities and he arrived home late and Xiao Hu was gone. In a way perhaps Mr Yu treating Xiao Hu so nice was a predestined fate. Anyway, Master Kao asked Mu Bai to lose in the fight to Xiao Hu (he made it sound as if it was to let Xiao Hu win and be an official guaranteed a good life but in actual fact he wanted Xiao Hu to be a spy within the government for the rebel in future) and Mu Bai agreed to do so.
So Mu Bai deliberately lose to Xiao Hu?
Mu Bai tried but how to lose convincingly to a man who was so drunk and so busy vomiting? Xiao Hu fought like a mad man and then suddenly Xiao Hu heard that familiar pocket watch musical tune and saw Jiao Lung. He quickly woke up, realised what had happened and fought with Mu Bai like a man should. Only then can Mu Bai lose convincingly.
And then the rebels attacked. You see Mung was there and so was Master Kao and Xian Niang. All of them wanted to assassinate the Prince but the Prince was surrounded by lots and lots of skilled fighters. And whilst Mu Bai and Xiu Lian was busy fighting the rebels, the rebels busy fighting them, Mung was busy shielding Xiu Lian from being hurt. And Mung got injured very seriously, ran away and Mu Bai ran after him. And then Mung fainted and Mu Bai realised it was Mung Si Zhao who had been secretly saving Xiu Lian many times. Only then did Mu Bai knew why Mung acted so heartless. Xian Niang told Mu Bai (though at this time Mung went on with his "I don't care about Xiu Lian" attitude) that Mung loved Xiu Lian very much. Mu Bai realised that whatever he wanted to say to Xiu Lian that morning when Chai Xiang Mei rudely interrupted them, must not be said.
You mean Mu Bai went home to Xiu Lian and just...?
Well, he went home and was greeted by a table full of delicious food cooked by Xiu Lian and when he turned around, he was in awe of the woman before him. He couldn't keep his eyes off Xiu Lian who for the first and last time in this series, wore a very red lipstick and a lot of compact powder on her face in her attempt to make herself "beautiful" though she really looked awkward then. Mu Bai was lost for words and just kept on staring at her dreamily and then he woke up, sat down, ate and walked away. Xiu Lian who was waiting for him to finish the sentence that he began earlier that morning asked Mu Bai didn't he have something to say to her?
He said yes. Referring to the fan that she gave him that morning and the words written by Prince Tie, he said "I hope we can be friends forever". Xiu Lian was so shocked, she couldn't say anything and silently cried in front of Mu Bai who simply walked away.
Bloody Mu Bai! Heartless Mu Bai! Stupid Mu Bai! #&*@#% Mu Bai!
My reaction at that moment was to curse Mu Bai. So giving until own GF also gave away. But Mu Bai was not just noble then, remember my low self esteem theory? I believe Mu Bai felt he wasn't good enough for her then and after discovering that Mung actually had his finger chopped off, almost killed because of her and left her to protect her, Mu Bai felt he couldn't love her much more than Mung was loving her. So he as a very noble and brave man, denied his own feelings and let things take its own course with Xiu Lian and Mung Si Zhao.
In the end, Mung got back Xiu Lian? That easy ah?
No lar! Not that easy. Xiu Lian must put up some fight right?
You see after that night Xiu Lian went into her deadly stares and ignoring Mu Bai tactics again. Mu Bai tried to explain but Mung told him not to tell Xiu Lian. But Master Kao persuaded Mung that perhaps it was time that Mung left the rebel gang and go away with Xiu Lian. When Mu Bai agreed to join the rebel gang, these guys were only too happy to let the weak one go and welcome the strong one. And then Mu Bai went home, and Xiu Lian who was still mad at Mu Bai refused to talk to him. Her back was facing him when he said, "Miss Yu, could you please turn around?", and for a moment there, her eyes as she turned went soft again and she was ready to forgive Mu Bai for rejecting her and then her eyes set on the guy behind Mu Bai and saw Mung Si Zhao. They all sat down, Mu Bai explained why Mung rejected her in the first place and her reaction was a very normal reaction for any woman in her situation;
"You think what? That I am that kind of woman that if you like you can have me and if you don't you can push me away like you did?"
Mu Bai tried to explain on Mung's behalf and even Xiu Lian was too angry to listen to Mu Bai's explanation. Mung left and Xiu Lian walked to the garden and saw, in one of the most intense scene, Mu Bai was doing the tai-chi and in slow motion, Xiu Lian walked towards him, her eyes never leaving him and when Mu Bai saw Xiu Lian, Xiu Lian walked right up to him, looked at him, stared into his eyes and perhaps into his heart and asked;
"The night when you came back, you met Mung Si Zhao on that day didn't you?"
Mu Bai answered yes and Xiu Lian understood why he rejected her that night and walked away, crying whilst Mu Bai looked disappointed that he had hurt Xiu Lian.
If he knew he had hurt Xiu Lian, why was he rejecting her again?
Perhaps he thought the guy for her was Mung Si Zhao.
Back to Jiao Lung. What happened to Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung?
Tragedy in the making. When Xiao Hu won the competition, he became the scholar and was ready to become an official when he overheard that the Prince has decided to strip Mr Yu of his Governor job, and give it to Xiao Hu. Xiao Hu being the loyal one refused the job, and ran away, leaving Jiao Lung and Mr Yu angry and confused. Jiao Lung who was so hurt by Xiao Hu's sudden unexplained disappearance told her father how she met Xiao Hu and that Xiao Hu was actually Ban Tian Yun. Mr Yu was so angry that he slapped Jiao Lung. But Jiao Lung explained that she loved him because he was there for her when she felt she was trapped and had no freedom. And later on, when she knew her father had lost the favour of the Prince and that the Prince wanted to destroy him, Jiao Lung tried to rectify the matter by agreeing to marry Jun Pei, whose family went way back in their relationship with the Empress Dowager. Even the Prince had to attend their wedding if there was one. Mu Bai knew of this and searched for Xiao Hu who went on gambling and being a thief again. When Xiao Hu knew Jiao Lung was marrying Jun Pei, he laughed and said it was for the best. But on the wedding day, he came and kidnapped Jiao Lung and instead of running away at that very moment, he and Jiao Lung who have already reconciled at that time came back to Mr Yu to ask for forgiveness. Mr Yu told them to run far away and tearfully they left. Jun Pei never found them and never knew Mr Yu let them go.
Why Mr Yu let them go so easily?
Because when Xiao Hu was in hiding, Mr Yu saw Mu Bai whom he had never liked. They had a friendly and thought provoking conversation and Mr Yu realised why everybody liked Mu Bai. Mu Bai talked reason to Mr Yu and Mr Yu realised that it was time to retire and live a simple life. He told his wife he wanted to do this and so that was why he let Jiao Lung and Xiao Hu go.
So Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung ran away? End of story?
They met Mu Bai half way (Mu Bai seemed to know where everybody was in this series) and Mu Bai became their witness and Jiao Lung and Xiao Hu married. And then tragedy struck. Jade Fox who by this time had already left the Yus and went into hiding after her identity was known came to the Yus for help as she was seriously injured. Jiao Lung promised her that if anything happened she could go to her. But Jiao Lung at that time left with Xiao Hu already and Jiao Lung's servant lied about Jiao Lung being not so sincere in her offer to help Jade Fox. Jade Fox became so very angry, that she escaped, found both Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung and told them the real truth; who killed Xiao Hu's parents.
The answer was Mr Yu himself. Xiao Hu went mad thereafter, pushed Jiao Lung away and went straight for Mr Yu and attacked him. Jiao lung couldn't save her dad because she didn't know where they were. When Mr Yu was confronted by Xiao Hu about his real identity, Mr Yu who all these years blamed himself for believing a man named Yang Gung Jiu's (who had wanted to have Xiao Hu's mother all for himself) accusations that Xiao Hu's dad was a murderer and Mr Yu killed Xiao Hu's dad and I think the mom died of depression or maybe was killed as well. Anyway, he stood very still and let Xiao Hu kill him. But Xiao Hu couldn't because Mr Yu was very nice to him all those months when he was living with the Yus. But then at that time there was a mud slide and Mr Yu who fell over after he pushed Xiao Hu away from danger was seriously injured. Xiao Hu carried Mr Yu and both promised to live in the desert, and that Xiao Hu will marry Jiao lung, etc etc etc and Mr Yu then died. Xiao Hu carried Mr Yu back home and Jiao Lung was so angry and couldn't see past her anger, hatred and grief took a sword and stabbed Xiao Hu but Mu Bai used his hands to grab the sharp edge of the sword and stopped Jiao Lung. Before Xiao Hu left, Jiao Lung screamed that she hated him. And she meant it at that time that she hated him and not the opposite. Xiao Hu blamed himself for Mr Yu's death and though Mu Bai, who believed the death was an accident tried to console him, it was of no use. The relationship was over and in the modern times, this will be the start of a divorce proceeding.
Poor Jiao Lung and Xiao Hu...Ok, back to Xiu Lian. Anything at all?
Ahhhhhh....plenty.Remember Mu Bai's hand was hurt? Xiu Lian helped cleaned the wound and looked at Mu Bai, held his hands and asked him whether he had anything to say to her? Of course he said nothing. And so Xiu Lian who wanted nothing more than a family agreed to go back to Mung Si Zhao and they both planned to leave as soon as possible.
So Xiu Lian and Mung left issit?
Oh nooooo, not when Mr Old Conniving Fox was still there. The prince who was Xiu Lian's godfather then (yes, he "adopted" her as a way to make Xiu Lian closer to him because he knew Mu Bai loved Xiu Lian and the only way to get to Mu Bai was to match make Mu Bai and Xiu Lian and so when Mu Bai married Xiu Lian, Mu Bai would be his god son in law and so he could ask Mu Bai to work for him..but alas...his plans backfired because he never realised he has got a wood which was Mu Bai for a potential god son in law) wanted to set things right. He invited Xiu Lian and Si Zhao for lunch, and thereafter sent his men to kill the rebel gangs at their secret hidings (how he knew their secret hidings, I am not sure). One of the idiots left the membership book on the concrete floor and it was then that the Prince found out that Mu Bai was a member of the rebel gang.
What was the reaction of the Prince when he found out that Mu Bai joined the rebel gang?
The Prince swore that Mu Bai will pay for his betrayal. The rebel gang thought it was Mung who told the Prince about their hideout, though Mu Bai and Master Kao thought that as ridiculous. But the rebel gang did not think so and sent some masked men to ambush Si Zhao and violently stab Si Zhao so many times he practically died of loss of blood. Xiu Lian tried to give chase and one of the masked assassin dropped a letter and Xiu Lian read the letter which was an order by Li Mu Bai to kill Mung Si Zhao. This time, Xiu Lian was truly angry.
How could Xiu Lian BELIEVED such an illogical lie? Where was the evidence?
Based solely on the letter and some conversation between the so called assassins that Mu Bai ordered them, and so she believed the lie concocted by her godfather. When Mu Bai came to see her when he knew Mung died, she was already throwing his stuff out of the house. She attacked Mu Bai and told him to leave and her eyes were filled with hatred. Mu Bai couldn't believe that she believed the lie and swore to set her right.He wanted his name cleared.
But I have a theory why Xiu Lian could have believed such a lie.
She's a woman, rejected by Mu Bai many many times. When he rejected her for the last time secretly she was angry with him. She agreed to leave with Mung to start a new life and then Mung was killed and her chance for a new life ended. Whatever came next as the cause or reason for Mung's death didn't matter.She was already blinded with grief and hatred then. She was ready to believe anything, to find some sense in Mung's death. She hated the rebels and even helped Prince Tie to kill off some. She believed the letter perhaps somewhere in her mind she was hoping that perhaps Mu Bai would do such a thing. I mean there was no reason for him to do so unless as Xiu Lian deduced that Mu bai wanted Xiu Lian for himself. But then he could have had her if he wanted to without killing Mung. So my theory is that she hoped he killed Mung for her, and the more she thought that way, the more she hated herself. By hating herself, she transferred her grief and pain towards hating Mu Bai since it is easier to hate others than to hate yourself.
Just a theory. In the series, you can see it in a simple way. Xiu Lian was overcome by grief and she will believe anything at that moment. And the writers of this series didn't know whta kind of twist and drama to add into Xiu Lian and Mu Bai's snail paced relationship and so they did something unforgivable; they make us hate Yu Xiu Lian.
So Mu Bai lost his one true love then?
Yes. Many times he tried to reason with her, and at one time, where he and Master Kao was searching for the lost map that I have mentioned earlier, and Mu Bai was blinded by a trap set by the prince. Whilst blind, he said he could see more clearly. At that time he was spending a lot of time with Xian Niang, telling her or perhaps she was telling him his innermost feelings about Xiu Lian and even said to Mu Bai; "Do you feel anything in your heart when you held her hand? If you could feel something, you love that person."
Mu Bai in one of the Most Touching Scene walked to Xiu Lian's house and Xiu Lian's back was facing him and she was fixing the slightly tilted nameplate. She didn't see him and Mu Bai couldn't see her since he was blind. But he felt her presence, placed his hands on his chest and smiled. He felt a little something in his heart and he knew that it was love for Xiu Lian. And then he walked away and she NEVER SAW HIM.
Later on Mu Bai was becoming increasingly unhappy and disillusioned that Prince Tie was getting more and more obvious in his intentions and they could do nothing to stop him. The Prince even kidnapped Jiao Lung (who at that time was punishing herself for her father's death by living in the Yu mansion alone and didn't even bother to clean herself as her brothers and mom moved away leaving her all alone....mom didn't know that her brother refused to take Jiao Lung in since brothers were very angry with Jioa Lung and Xiao Hu) and told Xiu Lian that Jiao Lung left to stay with her mom. She believed the lie because Prince threatened Jiao Lung to write letters to Xiu Lian. At the meantime, the Prince wanted Jiao Lung to rewrite the lost Kung fu Manual for him and when she refused to do so, used her mom as a threat and even took home one of her brother's head as a reminder. Jiao Lung freaked out and was so afraid that she wrote and wrote and wrote.
When Mu Bai suspected that Jioa Lung was there, he bravely walked to the Prince's house, confronted him and knowing that he was blind, the Prince agreed to let him walk into Jiao Lung's prison. In one of the Most Intense Scene in this series, Jiao Lung saw her sifu but was so afraid that she didn't make a sound. But Mu Bai knew she was there and wanted to come back later to rescue her but Master Kao said look at the big picture and she could be their spy and steal the Qing Ming sword for them. Xian Niang agreed but Mu Bai didn't want to see any more deaths for the "big picture" and so he disagreed.
In one of his angriest and most frantic moments, the only time we ever get to see Mu Bai acting very emotionally, he walked to Xiu Lian and told him what the prince was up to. But Xiu Lian called him a liar, a cheat and a scum, and she even took out the letter written by Jiao Lung and showed it to him and insulted him when we all know he was blind and thus he can't read the letter. Mu Bai even shed a tear, hoping Xiu Lian would listen but she was so full of herself at that time she told him to leave. Mu Bai left with a heavy heart and more disappointed than before. His heart was broken.
At that moment, I can't hate anybody more than Yu Xiu Lian.
Poor Mu Bai. What became of Jiao Lung?
Luckily there was Xian Niang whose real identity was still not known to the Prince. She deliberately seduced the Prince, so that she can walk in and out of his house. She went to Jiao Lung and gave her the message that Master Kao gave Xian Niang, that her family was taken care of and she must steal the sword. Jiao Lung agreed. But when Xiu Lian saw Xian Niang walking out of the house with the prince, Xiu Lian who can't seem to shut her mouth walked to the prince and said a person as nice as the prince should be careful of Xie Xian Niang who was personally acquinted with the scum Li Mu Bai. The prince knew then Xian Niang's purpose in seducing him.
That night Xian Niang came back to the trap set by the prince thanks to the most hated person at that time, Yu Xiu Lian. Jiao Lung successfully stole the sword and escaped and they all waited for Xian Niang to return. She never did because the prince kidnapped her and even beat her up. She was not killed because she still had some use to the Prince. Our rebel gang didn't even know that Xian Niang was suffering in there though Mu Bai waited for her to come out. It seems nobody remembers there was a Xie Xian Niang. And then something happened that changed Mu Bai forever.
What happened? What changed Mu Bai forever? Changed to what?
Remember that mad woman He Qian He and the story about the five elements, and the hidden treasure the Prince so wanted?
Well He Qian He knew who could teach the Prince to get a better understanding of the Kung Fu manual which he was learning and that someone was a better fighter than even Li Mu Bai. But she wanted Yu Xiu Lian as the price for the information. So the prince summoned Yu Xiu Lian, drugged her, and gave He Qian He a sack which contained what he said was Yu Xiu Lian. Happily she said the person he should seek help from was Master Kao and she left.
Midway she met Yang Gung Jiu (remember? the guy that caused the death of Xiao Hu's parents?) who wanted her to do something for him. She agreed and then she said to him that she was going to offer him a gift. He and his men could do anything to the woman in the sack and well, they all certainly did that "anything" to her. They took turns to rape the girl in the sack.
Mu Bai came to the scene of the tragedy in the making because Liu Tai Bao who saw what was going on told Mu Bai by writing an anonymous letter to him. Mu Bai thought of Yu Xiu Lian and ran there. At that time his eyesight was still blur but he could see because Mei Xia (remember her? the girl that was crazy about Xiao Hu? Xiao Hu asked her to come to act as a doctor for them) cured his eyesight.
This would have my vote as the Most Shocking Scene because I didn't expect that person to be who she was.I was expecting Xiu Lian.He ran there and he saw He Qian He and then he saw a woman whose dress was ripped and her face was bleeding and swollen and it wasn't Xiu Lian but Xie Xian Niang. Mu Bai was so angry that he made sure he killed that he Qian He who said she had 9 lives like a cat and Mu Bai said he will kill all of her 9 lives. Xian Niang walked out and Mu Bai discovered she had taken poison. She didn't want to see a doctor and told Mu Bai that she wanted to die and he should let her end her suffering. But she wanted to see a place before she dies and Mu Bai quickly carried her there. It was the place that each morning Mu Bai will practise his kung fu there and Xian Niang will stand and quietly observe and admire Mu Bai. He hugged her close and before she died, she said many things, most of them was what Mu Bai was thinking about. She called him her hero, she confessed that she was just a girl and that she loved him, that she wished he loved her but knew that he loved Xiu Lian, and before she died she asked him did he love her a little? When Mu Bai nodded, I believed him and before she died, she said she had lived a good life and she had no regrets to die like this, that she didn't regret that it was she and not Xiu Lian who was raped that she was glad that Mu Bai didn't see Xiu Lian like this. And then she died and that was what changed Mu Bai.
I tell you... I too was crying (true!) and at that moment, I hated Yu Xiu Lian so much that whatever she did later on, I still hate her.
And where was Xiu Lian when all this drama happened? Did she just stood by and did nothing?
Yep, she was still thinking Prince's the best, Mu Bai's the worst. When Mu Bai ran to her and told her to leave with him she still scream at him. When he told her Xian Niang died because of her, that she took the fall for Xiu Lian, Xiu Lian looked...well...she looked like she believed him. Now, that was when Mu Bai really really changed. He became disillusioned and everyday he sat by Xian Niang's grave, practising kung fu in front of her because Xian Niang said that she loved to see him practising Kung Fu as he looked very stylish - my vote for one of the Most Touching Scene), ignoring people and in the end, like Seagull said, he became a zombie. He even looked like one. And at the meantime, the Prince beat up poor Liu Tai Bao and when Tai Bao escaped and went to Xiu Lian, only then Xiu Lian knew how stupid she was and all the wrongs she had done to Xian Niang and Mu Bai. She swore that she will kill herself after she had broken off her relationship of father and daughter with the Prince, kill the Prince, save the now kidnapped Jiao Lung and Xiao Hu, and Mei Xia was there to concoct potions to make Jiao Lung remember the past again so that she could tell the prince what the map that he had, meant.
Jioa Lung had amnesia??
Remember she escaped with the sword earlier? Well Mr Old Conniving Fox knew she would do so and when she drew the sword in front of Master Kao, Xiao Hu and herself (Mu Bai was still waiting for Xian Niang at the front of the the prince's house), they were all poisoned by the powdery poison that our Old Fox put in there. Mei Xia quickly saved Xiao Hu first but Jiao Lung was seriously injured and went into a coma. Then the Prince's men attacked but obviously failed because Mu Bai was still there, alive and kicking. Out of desperation, when Master Kao knew that the Prince was looking for him, he and Xiao Hu went to the Prince demanded for the cure for Jiao Lung in exchange for the condition that Master Kao remain to teach the Prince the last page of the Kung Fu manual. Xioa Hu didn't suspect anything and so happily left. Later Xiao Hu knew that Master Kao did explain a bit about the manual to the Prince and thereafter killed himself. In one of the Most Dramatic Scene, the Prince screamed and realised he could do nothing to stop him but swore that he will pay for this!!!
But what Xiao Hu didn't know was Master Kao died with a SMILE.
Anyway, Jiao Lung woke up from the coma and said to Xiao Hu that she hated him (this time she meant the opposite) and in one of the grossest scene, he kissed Jiao Lung who had just seconds ago vomited blood. Anyway, Mei Xia couldn't stand it and concocted a "Forget Your Love" potion and when Jiao Lung woke up,. she was like Jiao Lung in episode one. She could remember everythiung but not Xiao Hu
If you ask me, quite a ridiculous twist in the already overblown story of this pair of young lovers.
What then changed Mu Bai back to his old self again?
He didn't really changed back to his old self but well, at least he wasn't a zombie anymore.
Not even Master Kao's death could chang Mu Bai. Master Kao left him a letter which he did not bother to read. Not even Xiu Lian's appearance changed him. It was rather a pep talk by his blind sifu and his own self that changed dirty Mu Bai to handsome Mu Bai again.He realised that he should live for himself and nobody else. He realised that by doing what he was doing it was not very fruitful and in the end he shouted to the heavens for guidance and he finally understood the tragedy that happened around him. He simply stood up, (in between I believed he shaved, showered, comb his hair, changed to new clothes) and went to Xiu Lian to help set things right.
What happened to Jiao Lung and Xiao Hu now that they were kidnapped by the Prince?
Not that I cared much about them. But if you must know, Mei Xia agreed to cure Jiao Lung's amnesia with the condition that she will have Xiao Hu all for herself. But slowly Jiao Lung was remembering things but Xiao Hu, who didn't want the prince to win, repeatedly reminded her that he killed Mr Yu. But at last she remembered and when the prince kidnapped Xiu Lian also, he had almost all that he needed to find the treasure. On the way to the treasure using the false map that Mung switched earlier (the real one was with Xiu Lian and Xiu Lian gave it to Mu Bai), Mu Bai came and attacked the prince. By the time the Prince knew a whole lot more Kung Fu. Mu Bai could have won but was distracted when Xiu Lian said Jiao Lung and Xiao Hu were forced to take poison before they began their journey and swoosh! Our Prince got the better of Mu Bai as Mu Bai was stabbed, seriously injured and fell to the ground, bleeding and dying. They moved on but if you really wanna know, Xiu Lian was crying like nobody's business then.
Why did the Prince wanted Xiu Lian, Jiao Lung, Xiao Hu, Qing Ming sword and the treasure?
Remember the 5 elements I talked about? you see Chinese believes that a person is born of a certain element in them, this will have to depend on the time and date of birth and your fate. And everything thereafter will be affected by whatever is your element. Xiao Hu, Xiu Lian, Jiao Lung all were born of those certain elements, the Qing Ming sword being the fourth element. To open the door to the treasure, the Prince need these five elements to combine power, and all 5 must have some connection to the Wu Dang kung fu manual. All of the , including the sword had some Wu Dang in them so to speak. They all thought that the Prince wil never be able to succeed since he lacked the element of Water, which was Li Mu Bai who was dying somewhere at that time. But then they found out the Prince didn't need Mu Bai because he was of the element of Water. Some fight ensued, and instead of killing the Prince, they accidentally combined power and the door to the treasure which was in a cave was opened and in there was something like a concrete block that was shining with the colour of gold but no gold in sight.
So did the Prince succeed in getting what he wanted?
Depends on what he wanted. I thought there were treasures but apparently the treasure were some glowing light which later faded away when the Prince touched it. I guess even the glowing treasure didn't like his face.
What happened to Mu Bai? Really dead ah?
No way! He told himself to stand up, he walked to the cave and even managed to fight intensely with the Prince. He almost lost but Xiu Lian, Xiao Hu and Jiao lung who were all seriously injured gave moreal support and the Prince who was very angry at that time (well you see, glowing treasure didn't shine for him no more ) swore to kill Mu Bai. Mu Bai practised his deep concentration and meditation, said some philosophy and when the Prince attacked, he successfully used Tai Chi and all that he had learned and manipulated the Prince's hand and the Prince in the end stabbed himself. The Prince couldn't understand..
"How can I lose?"
And Mu Bai simply looked at him and explain he lost because he wasn't meant to win in the first place. To get the treasure, he must have the people's support, the loyalty of friends, the capabilities to rule and the integrity of a sage which he had none. Mu Bai said he should have let go when he could. By not letting go and being so keen on getting what he could not have and not meant to have, he was actually losing everything. By letting go, he will gain everything.
The prince after listening to Mu Bai finally understood why he lost. He asked Mu Bai a simple question;
"Is it too late for me to turn back?'
And Mu Bai simply answered he could if he wanted to and the Prince fell to the floor and onto the arms of Mu Bai and confessed his guilt and expressed regret for all his wrong doings. He realised at last that the heavens wasn't really unfair towards him and his life had been good, if only he took the right path to righteousness. He told Mu Bai that he knew Mu Bai was a special man from the moment he met him and he was right about Mu Bai's integrity and righteousness. And before he died, he said to Mu Bai;
I tell you; the most successful hero would be those types where they have the ones they killed saying THANK YOU to them before they die.
In the end what happened to all of them?
Xiao Hu carried Jiao Lung, Mu Bai carried Xiu Lian out of the cave but Xiu Lian was seriously injured. She laid in Mu Bai's arms, crying and regretting all that she had done. She told Mu Bai all she wished was for Mu Bai to love her, to care about her, to reveal what was in his heart to her and all she wanted was for him to love her. That he hold true to his promise that he will never let go of her hand. Mu Bai was crying now, saying he never will but then Xiu Lian.....Xiu Lian.....She....she......let's just say I was so shocked with what happened to Xiu Lian then, that I almost forgave her but I still hated her.
Aiyor...tell me...WHAT HAPPENED?
I thought she died.
NOOOOOO!! SHE DIED?! XIU LIAN DIED?!?!?!?
Well the scene after was ambiguous because Mu Bai was standing in front of the ancestral wodden tablets of Xiu Lian's parents and Mung Si Zhao, praying. But Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung looked too happy and I knew it couldn't be. No, she didn't die. She was in coma for quite some time before she woke up, Mu Bai never left her side.
Yeah! So what happened to Jiao Lung and Xiao Hu?
Mu Bai's blind sifu gave Mu Bai his last intsruction and thereafter he could return to Wu Dang and the instruction was to deal with Jiao Lung. But the sifu said it will be entirely up to Mu Bai's discretion of what he really should do. Jiao Lung understood and surrendered herself to Mu Bai but Xiao Hu couldn't and fought with Mu Bai. In the end, Mu Bai didn't kill Jiao Lung but instead helped her to attain the highest level of the Kung Fu Manual and she successfully broke into half the thing that she had tried many times earlier with the Qing Ming sword. What thing you go see for yourself. In the end, Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung left for the desert, happily and together at last.
What about Mu Bai and Xiu Lian? Did they end up together?
This will be the most heavily disputed ending, many thought there should be a sequal., But I believe the ending was the most satisfying of all endings because it was very logical considering everything that happened prior to that.
Xiu Lian woke up and looked for Mu Bai who was about to leave when he turned back for one last look at Xiu Lian. Xiu Lian held his hands and said what she had wanted to say for 34 episodes, something that I have been waiting for her to say as well..that she didn't know whether he felt the way she felt about him and Mu Bai said her feelings were accurate. So there you have it..the bloody confession that we have been waiting for 34 episodes.
And guess what? Mu Bai said he wanted to leave. Xiu Lian said since he loved her why don't he stay with her? But Mu Bai looked at her and said he needed to leave to see the world, to seek knowledge. Xiu Lian asked him is he going back to Wu Dang and he said no. Will he come back and he said yes. And so Xiu Lian let him go and they promised that:-
Mu Bai will return one day; and Xiu Lian will wait for him there until he returns.
Why can't he just stay? Why must he leave? Why must he make her wait?
When Xian Niang died, I told Seagull I am glad the ending will be as such because this woman deserves to be punished for what she did to poor Xian Niang and the accusations she hurled at Mu Bai.
But this series had a different type of ending.
He didn't want to punish her; he never hated her in the first place. You see if after everything and Mu Bai quickly run back to Xiu Lian and marry her, I will lose my respect for Mu Bai. How can he do that after all that happened?
By leaving Xiu Lian, he was actually leaving for a while, to seek a better understanding for all that had happened, to see more of humanity and perhaps to gain more knowledge towards the path of righteousness and knowing what others are thinking. As Mu Bai said to Xiu Lian, the world is a much bigger place than just love and relationships. It is more than that and Mu Bai wanted to experience all that though he still want to grow old with the woman he loves that is Xiu Lian but not right now and not immediately. He needs to reason with perhaps his guilty conscience; perhaps he needs to find solace for all the pain and suffering that he had seen and felt by seeing more of what's out there.
Look at it this way.
He is a guy that holds true to his promises. He said he will come back so he will come back. He is not running off to Wu Dang to be a Taoist priest. He didn't say to Xiu Lian when she said she will wait for him that "please don't waste your time and wait for me". In fact he said he will hold true to his promise to her and HE WILL RETURN.
I take that as a HAPPY ENDING.
Additional Questions Asked And Answered
Some more info that I did not include in the above written comment because they don't quite fit in there.
Will there be a sequal??
Let's see.....whoever's dead is dead. Whoever is happy is happy. Whatever needed to be said has been said and dealt with. Jiao Lung and Xiao Hu are of to the desert. Mu Bai said he will return. Xiu Lian will wait for him.
WHERE IS THE SEQUAL???
I mean it's over people. 34 episodes and THE END. NO MORE. FACE THE FACT. However much I want to see Li Mu Bai again...however much I shall miss his cute smile and cute face and the kung fus and all..however much I shall miss the themesong...I must admit and you too must admit and accept this truth...you must face the truth people...face it....
IT IS OVER !!
Who the heck are these people??
I did not include them into the character intros because, well as you can see that relationship chart did not include them. Anyway, here goes....
Liu Tai Bao: The Prince's man, who later became Xiu Lian's assistant and the most insignificant character in this series that you can simply ignore his existence.
Chai Xiang Mei : A female marshall (according to her intro when she entered into the scene but somehow later this little fact was lost in the storyline when she went and work for Xiu Lian) whose father was poisoned by the Jade Fox and she made it her life mission to kill Jade Fox. She disliked Mu Bai and became great friends with Xiu Lian. Liu Tai Bao's love interest and another character that you can ignore since her character was insignificant.
Der Wu Xu (5th Uncle Der) : A family friend of Xiu Lian. Mu Bai knew him through Xiu Lian. He secretly worked for the Prince and tried many ways to unite Xiu Lian and Mu Bai on the Prince's orders but failed most of the time. A character that plays some part in the story.
The rest of the Rebel Gang : Their duties were cut people's fingers, sit during meetings and act like they were discussing important measures to overthrow the Qing Dynasty when most suggestions came from Master Kao, Mung and the Prostitute Xie.
Why's the sword called Green Destiny?
Direct translation from the Chinese name; Qing Ming Jian. Qing I guess the translator translated it as Green, Ming as Destiny and Jian as sword. But somehow, I feel it's not quite right. I do not know Chinese so what was the Ming and what was the Qing used I do not know. But from the words, I would rather translate it as "Pure and Righteous Sword" or perhaps "Honourable and Righteous Sword" but admittedly Green Destiny is much easier to spell.And the sword supposedly made about hundred years ago to perfection by a certain blacksmith that did not pass down the technique and as such it was prized as a collector's item because it can cut through anything and nobody has the technology to make such a sword anymore. In the movie, Mu Bai gave the sword away because the sword has seen enough of bloodshed and thus it was time for him to retire and parting with his sword symbolises that Mu Bai was ready and willing to leave the world of Kung Fu politics, a world that he was very much immersed in. Therefore the sword had a personal importance. But in this series the value of the sword went further than what the movie gave it. If combined with Kung Fu from the lost Wu Dang kung fu manual, the sword and the owner of the sword could conquer the empire. But this series wasn't about the sword actually. It was about people. I'll do the comparing with the movie at the end of this review.
Why the heck the Wu Dang gave the sword to Tie Xiao Bei Le (The Prince) when they knew he had this big ambition and that the sword when combined with the lost manual will almost guarantee supremacy for this old fox??WHY?!
I thought it was merely a gift, though I knew for sure, Wu Dang was never political and thus it was impossible they supported and want to support the Prince's big ambition. And so in the episode where Mu Bai's sifu appeared and gave him some sound advise, we were told why as Mu Bai himself asked why.
The Prince is a very public person, and by giving this sword to this very publicly known person, the Wu Dang clan hoped to create a publicity buzz and attract the person who has the lost Wu Dang manual to steal the sword, so that the WU Dang clan can then grab back the manual. It was more of a trap than a genuine gift or as the Prince interpreted it, Wu Dang's support in his quest to be Emperor of China. And all this rest in the shoulders of Mu Bai. And even the sifu said if he found the person who knew the Kung Fu, Mu Bai must bring him/her back to Wu Dang, because learning the kung fu without learning the Ways of the Inner Concentration of Mind will create a disastrous results, what disastrous results I have yet to see since Jiao Lung is happily in love right now. Poor Mu Bai, so much to do and he had only his own genuine heart to assist himself.
Why the heck Wu Dang chose a naive Mu Bai for such an important mission?? WHY??
Because the sifu saw him doing the tai-chi in the rain, tested him and knew he was perfect for the mission; honest, reliable, trustworthy and I personally feel he was the only one who could teach Jiao Lung a thing or two about responsibilities.
Why the heck the Prince liked Mu Bai soooooooo much?? WHY?!
Because the Prince wanted a good right hand man, his head honcho, his assistant and he saw all the potential in Mu Bai. And because:-
1. Mu Bai was a very skilled fighter
2. Mu Bai could get along very well with the Prince
3. Mu Bai belonged to Wu Dang clan
4. Mu Bai played hard to get and to the Prince that was a challenge to this Prince
5. Mu Bai was polite and courteous, educated and refined.
6. Because there are other more important reasons, which I have elaborated in the above Questions Asked And Answered.
Why Mu Bai seemed to know the rebel's song??
Which was how he became good friends with Master Kao and Xian Niang. They all played and heard the same musical tune, which by the way was a very nice tune. I hope somebody makes it into a Midi format. Anyway, according to Master Kao, Mu Bai was born a rebel. Which was why in Wu Dang he could hear this music. But the series did not elaborate on that possible plot. In fact Mu Bai just joined the rebel gang and practically did nothing except for signing his name into the members registration book.
Why Jiao Lung seemed to hate Xiu Lian at first and what changed her mind about Xiu Lian?
Jiao lung was jealous because in her parents' eyes, Xiu Lian was perfect, everything that she wasn't. And she became good friends with Xiu Lian because of how Mung treated her and as a woman, Jiao Lung felt a need to protect Xi u Lian.
Why the heck Mu Bai let Jiao Lung tease Xiu Lian and yet he did nothing? Why the heck he let that Xie prostitute cum rebel kiss him and did nothing? Why he let Mung get Xiu Lian and did nothing? Why did he never do anything and expect Xiu Lian to run to him?? WHY?!
I guess we could have hated this man in different circumstances. But he is a gentleman. One of the more frustrating scenes would be the earlier ones, where Xiu Lian was still with Mung. I guess that explained his character in a nutshell by his reluctance to act on his heart.
It wasn't because he had so much honour he can't bring himself to take Xiu Lian away from her fiancee Mung. It wasn't really that though we assume it as such. In one scene he explained to Xiao Hu why..he is a nobody with no fixed home and therefore he considered himself a wandarer who will not be able to provide a secured home and security to Xiu Lian. And he wasn't really sure about Xiu Lian's feelings. When at last he realised Xiu Lian's extent of affection for him, he confessed.
Why the heck Xiu Lian didn't just TELL him?? WHY?!
Actually she did, by her actions and bouts of jealousy. But do remember; this was late 1800s, and SHE IS AFTER ALL A GIRL. If you find difficulties in confessing your love in the 90's to a man, try being back there. And she wasn't sure about Mu Bai's feelings for her.
Why the heck the Prince gave Xiu Lian the money to reopen her family business??WHY?!
The Prince's ultimate aim was actually Li Mu Bai. He knew from the start these two log of wood loved each other but were reluctant to confess. And the Prince knew if he could make Xiu Lian stay, unite these two love birds, adopt Xiu Lian as his god daughter, and make Mu Bai marry her, Mu Bai will then be his god son in law, and Mu Bai will then be his family and be the Prince's man. With Xiu Lian by the Prince's side, Mu Bai can never leave.
Very shrewd old man.
Why Xie the prostitute so keen on kissing Mu Bai?? WHY?!
Frankly, I myself want to kiss him. For one very obvious reason; loooooove. And she almost kissed him. In fact her lips brushed his lips for like a mili of a second and then Mu Bai snapped back to reality and said; "I am in love with someone else" and Xie even asked; "Miss Yu?"
Isn't it frustrating? Everybody knew they liked each other but yet they themselves did nothing.
Why when Jiao Lung was running away from that mad woman she ran from green fields to snow filled fields??WHY?!
I don't know. Perhaps climate changed. I really do not know.
Why Master Kao taught Jiao Lung kung fu when he belonged to the rebel gang and her father an official?? WHY?!
I also do not know. I can't see the logic why. In fact this is the weakest link in the plot. How come Master Kao was the tutor of Jiao Lung? Perhaps they should have elaborated on that. Perhaps Master Kao was a spy and the best way to be a spy would be to spy on the Governor?
Why Jade Fox later left Yu household and disappeared??WHY?!
Because one night she tested Jiao Lung and realised she knew the lost Wu Dang kung fu and felt betrayed and used and thus she left and stole lots of jewelry before she left.
What was the ending for Jade Fox then? What?!
Chai Xiang Mei ambushed her and Jade Fox threw a poisoned dart at her but that poisoned dart hit Jade Fox herself. She was rescued by Master Kao and Mu Bai and both wanted to find a cure for her but she said no. She realised all her life she was selfish until she met Jiao Lung. With Jiao Lung she saw herself as a mother who is capable of love and she could not forgive herself for what she didn to Jiao Lung and Xiao Hu and she wanted to die. Before she died she made a request that her head be choped off and given to Chai Xiang Mei. And then she died a horrible death as the poison slowly spread trhough her body. Quite a painful death.
Why the Prince seemed so nice to Governor Yu and yet he wasn't? Why?!
The Prince actually did not like Yu anymore and wanted to get rid of him but then, considering the close relationship between Xiao Hu, Mr Yu, Mu Bai, Jiao Lung and Xiu Lian, the Prince's hands were tied actually.
Who the heck is Yang Gung Jiu? Who?!
The man who caused the deaths of Xiao Hu's parents.
Tell me..how did Xie Xiang Niang really died? How?!
Like I said she was gang raped (though Yang Gung Jiu came out of the shack, some men went in but a few second later Mu Bai was there so technically she was raped by one man). But she died by poisoning herself.So it was a suicide.
Did that evil mad woman He Qian He really died in the end? Huh? Huh?
Yeah yeah yeah. She died.
One more question..what the heck happened to Mrs Yu, the brothers, Xiang Mei and that Jun Pei guy? Huh? Huh?
Mrs Yu and the brother...I don't know. Xiang Mei went back to her village and then we never heard from her again except from Liu Tai Bao's occasional mention of her. Jun Pei guy? Simply disappeared from the face of this series.
Wait..Wait..So who did Xiu Lian really really really loved? Mu Bai or Si Zhao? WHO?!
With Si Zhao it was only gratefulness, like he so happened to be there so she just grabbed him. She wanted a family you see, after all she had none of her own and she is a woman. But she felt little when she was with him.
But with Mu Bai, she felt everything. I have a feeling she gets a bit high watching Mu Bai doing the morning tai-Chi exercise. Well who wouldn't? Would it be too much for me to say that Mu Bai is at his sexiest when he does that tai-chi? If I were Xiu Lian I too would just stare, like even Xie Xian Niang. If a man who is capable of stirring so much emotions in a woman, believe me, that woman is crazy about that man.
So to answer any doubts in your mind, Xiu Lian loves Mu Bai. End of story.
One more..one more..So who did Mu Bai really really really loved? Xiu Lian or Xian Niang? Who?!
A bit difficult to answer.
You see, Mu Bai sees Xiu Lian as his true love. But yet whenever he's down and unhappy, it isn't Xiu Lian who does the consoling and offering her shoulder for him to cry on. It is Xian Niang. He rarely seeks her advice, in fact i see more of a thought provoking and deeply intimate conversation between Xian Niang and Mu Bai in the last few episodes than Mu Bai had with Xiu Lian in the entire series! When Xian Niang died he said his hearts has a bit of Xian Niang in it. I believed him because perhaps he did.
Maybe the writers didn't mean it that way but I believe Xian Niang is actually Mu Bai's true love. She never doubted him, she understood him, she knew him, he respected her despite her occupation, he treated her like a lady should be treated, he knew how she felt and what she was thinking and vice versa...it's just tragic that Xian Niang died because I believe in real life given more time a real Li Mu Bai will fall for a real Xie Xian Niang.
But Mu Bai wanted true love. Is true love passionate love or companionship love? I feel Xian Niang fit into both which was also sad because quite a pity Mu Bai met Xiu Lian first. I like Xie Xian Niang and I believe a good man like Mu Bai deserves a good woman like Xian Niang.Of course Xiu Lian is a good woman herself but read my analysis on Yu Xiu Lian and you'll know why I said..Xian Niang is a woman that you can't find nowadays. She is too good to be true and a pity...if you're a Li Mu Bai (give me your phone number!) and you meet a Yu Xiu Lian and a Xie Xian Niang, ignoring whatever their occupation may be, I do think you should go for Xie Xian Niang. Because Xie Xian Niang is a woman who believes in you, trusts in you, never doubts you and more importantly, she is always there for you.
But in this series, I believe Mu Bai loved both but in the end, he felt more for Xiu Lian. Like Xian Niang said before she died;
"If this had happened to Miss Yu, you wouldn't be able to take it....I am glad to take her place in this ordeal.."
So why the crappy ending? Why didn't Xiu Lian and Mu Bai end up together, happily ever after? Why?!
Still not happy ah? Well at least this ain't the movie version. Imagine..I know it is something we wouldn't want to imagine but imagine..
what if Li Mu Bai died like in the movie?
I tell you, I'll scream and kick and write hate mails to the producers. I like the ending. It is something I didn't expect (well you know Taiwanese series, either one of the lovers die or they have one big happy ending) and yet when I knew the ending before I saw it, I reasoned it was a good ending for a very different reason. But now that I have seen it, I believe the ending was perfect.
But...I shall miss MY MU BAI. You know when this series ended, I felt a bit of emptiness in me. No more can I rush home to watch it episode by episode, or record it for viewing later..wait a day for the next episode..never can I see Li Mu Bai's face again. I confess, if I were Yu Xiu Lian, I would fall for Li Mu Bai. In fact let me admit this much....as Funn Lim, if there is a Li Mu Bai, I will kick and wrestle to get his attention. My idea of a good man, on equal grounds with Shinji Takeda's husband role in Your Hands Are Whispering and Wan Yeung Ming's Miu Yan Fung in Flying Fox On Snowy Mountain.
Ahhh..why can't it be longer? You know this series is pretty short for a Taiwanese series.
Oh my, I think I should join the Obsessed With Li Mu Bai therapy group. I need help.
One final question..what happened to the sword?
I am not sure. Since Mu Bai wasn't going back to Wu Dang...hmmmmm...I wonder too...
... SPOILERS END ...
Mosts .. Favourites .. Bests ..What Ifs ...What To & Not To Expect
Categorised it as below for your easy reference.
Most Interesting Characters
Which is very different from Most Favourite Characters, because I may not like these characters but I find them interesting, fascinating and insightful into the human nature. Below has nothing to do with performances, I am strictly looking at the characters, how they were written and presented by the writers. I admit it is hard to draw a line between the character and the actor because one is shaped by the other. but I'll try.
By the way, whatever's under this heading contains major spoilers so be forwarned if you don't want spoilers..SKIP!
Li Mu Bai
My Most Favourite Male Character this series. Let me explain why.
But I must admit; I can't take away Qiu Xin Zhi's face from Li Mu Bai but I'll try.
First of all, I find this to be the most interesting character in this series. Two reasons. One is because I am a woman and I appreciate a cute good looking guy with an irresistible smile. Secondly, as someone who appreciates a good solid character, Li Mu Bai is like heaven sent to someone as picky as me but the characterisation of Li Mu Bai is not flawless. No character is flawless, more so when there's editing involves. But from what I could see, Li Mu Bai is a very good character to portray because of the restriction that the actor is bound with and because he is the lead in this series; everything revolves around Li Mu Bai. The series began with him, fueled on because of him and ended with him. To me Li Mu Bai is the lead character whilst the rest are semi-leads.
The basic characterisation of this Li Mu Bai from episode one is very promising. I wanted to see more in terms of emotions and actions and in this respect this series never fails. As the series progresses on, this character comes even more alive because so much details has been inputted into this character and frankly, I have a confession to make, not that you would care about my confession.
I am a bit like Li Mu Bai when it comes to eyesight. My eyes is a bit blur and I wear specs when I study or work or watch movies in the cinema but never wore my glasses when I was watching the TV. Not even during my favourite series or everything else. But Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (the series) was the first that I wore my specs to watch every episode (episode 2 onwards) for one simple reason; I wanted to observe Li Mu Bai. Sure you can say I was actually observing Qiu Xin Zhi, true but at the same time I was observing Li Mu Bai and all of his mannerisms and everything about him. So whatever I say below I can say with great certainty; I was right. Perhaps the actor or the writer never made it that way, and any performance is for us to interpret why he does a certain thing and so below is my interpretation of what makes Li Mu Bai and what ticks Li Mu Bai. Believe me when I say I was listening to his every word, because my eyes and ears were practically glued to the TV, whether the series was dubbed or otherwise, a point which I shall elaborate somewhere below.
Li Mu Bai has so much layers it will take me the length of 10 reviews to simply decipher and analyse him. If such a person exists, I guess I'll love and hate this guy. I'll love him for his compassion, his kindness; his give give give attitude, his politeness, the fact that he is a perfect gentleman (especially towards Xian Niang) and because he seems so innocent and there he still has that certain cuteness and eagerness in the world that we may already be weary off. He is one exciting person to meet because of his eagerness at seeing the world through such innocent eyes are addictive. Perhaps we should dream a little, see the best in people and try to reason the worst. For these reasons I love him.
In the movie, I cared nothing for Chow Yun Fatt not because he wasn't handsome enough for me to care. Hey I cared a lot for Wong Hei's character in Burning Flame. I didn't care because he wasn't my idea of Li Mu Bai. Jet Li was. So I just ignored that sulking old man who looks clumsy when he fights. But in this series, Li Mu Bai will create a certain affection for all fans of this man. Seagull said he was a bit "ben-ben" to her at first, meaning a bit stupid, but cute stupid. I agree but after a few episodes when we are settled comfortably into the story of this series, that's when the affection starts to slowly seep into you and in the end, you just love this "ben-ben" guy. I feel the highlight of this series is every time he appears. I could be biased since like in my intro to the actor, I am a quasi-fan of Qiu Xin Zhi and that was because I saw a few episodes of this series when I wrote that intro. Perhaps I am prejudiced because I kept seeing the opening scene in my mind. But there is no denying the intensity (or maybe the intense calmness) that this character posses and the feelings of wanting to hug and pinch his cheeks will appear every few episodes or so. It does help that he is such a nice guy which is of no surprise that Xiu Lian loved him. And when he was wearing that glasses, super cute! His good moments were always those where he sees Xiu Lian. His eyes would be so soft, his stare so affectionate.. you know the calmness thing was just an act. He was in love with that woman.
But the one scene that I thought was the cutest was the one scene that showed his inner child, you know that grown up but still like a big boy type of inner child. That was when he bought a "gasing" (I am not sure what you call it in English, is it a Spin Top or a Spin Off or what?!) and played with it on the street and Xiu Lian saw him and smiled that ever pretty smile.
And yet I could hate this lovable and hard to hate guy for one simple reason; he is way too nice that sometimes it is rather frustrating, because this guy knows that he is getting the bad deal here but he still let himself be denied of the goodness that he deserves.
One good example is the woman that he clearly loves; Yu Xiu Lian. He could have had her months and months ago, married her and lived happily ever after. but he didn't as I have mentioned above in the Questions Asked And Answered. Perhaps he felt duty bound by his deep sense of honour; that he can't take away Xiu Lian from Mung Si Zhao. He is a gentleman. But I believe it goes far deeper than such a trivial reason. Many times he had mentioned and intimated why but you have to really pay attention to catch his meaning.
He perhaps felt he wasn't good enough for Xiu Lian. After all, he had nothing. No house, no fixed income, no place to stay and no fixed aim in life that can accommodate a woman (his wife). He is a wanderer as he has said somewhere early into the series. When he saw Mung Si Zhao who had everything, he felt Xiu Lian has got herself a better deal. Why let her live with a wanderer when there's this stable guy who can provide her with security in life? That was why he kept rejecting her. But when he was ready to confess his love, because Mung was out of the picture, and he felt he was the second best, in came Mung the heroic guy. Mu Bai couldn't take away Xiu Lian from a man who would die for her. But the funny thing was Mu Bai too would die for her. I believe it is a question of self esteem. He simply felt he couldn't give her what Mung Si Zhao could.
For that I hate him. Because he is in every bit a better man than Mung Si Zhao, but perhaps less forthright with his feelings towards Xiu Lian.
As the series progresses, Mu Bai became disillusioned with the world. I predicted this in my Character Intro and I am glad it went that way. To start the series with such a happy guy, there must be something dramatic to make him unhappy and angry and later when he woke up from his anger and despair, he became the real Li Mu Bai; the man who saw through everything, saw through pain and love and hate and anger and stripped away all such feeling and went back to basic human nature. Those that does not hope for much and will take each day as it comes, without predicting to much of the future. Perhaps you might say he became disillusioned; I would say his innocence died and thereafter he grew up and became a weary and worldly man. I do not which is better; innocent and forgiving or wiser and hardened; caused by tragedies.
Often when one faces a certain amount of tragic deaths of their loved ones they will have a big change.
In here Li Mu Bai went through that change, not through the deaths of those he had met and called his friends but through the death of one woman whom he respected and perhaps loved, but he may not have realised it.
We first met Xie Xian Niang as a prostitute who was nice and kind. But then we realise she was more than that; she was honourable, clear headed when it comes to certain matters and she stood by Li Mu Bai no matter what. Everything that Xiu Lian should have been but never was. Funny though that whenever Mu Bai was down and unhappy, at the time where he was beginning to be frustrated by the events that took place, Xian Niang was there to provide comforting thoughts and advise or simply to listen. When he needed a friend and a confidante, Xian Niang was there but not the frequently absent Xiu Lian who was too busy entertaining her own jealousy and anger over all trivial matters.
So when Xian Niang died in a way that no woman deserves to die, Mu Bai snapped. It was at that pivotal point that Mu Bai became disillusioned and became angry with everything. He couldn't understand why a good woman like Xian Niang would die the way she did and the bad ones like Tie Bei Le kept getting away. Perhaps then he realised life is unfair. Especially when Master Kao kept talking about looking at the bigger picture; a few sacrifices are a must to achieve the bigger picture. But Mu Bai was never concerned about bigger pictures. He went after Tie Bei le not because he was concerned about who should or should not be king; to him Tie Bei Le is not a good man and so he must be stopped. He joined the guerillas for one very obvious reason; so that Mung could leave and live happily ever after with Xiu Lian. In a way his actions were because of her.
But after a while after seeing many things a man who was said to be destined for such revolutionary work realised he doesn't fit into their bigger picture. When Xian Niang died, and Master Kao before he knew of her death chastised Mu Bai for running into a possible trap set by the Prince, Mu Bai became angry. How can Master Kao belittle the contribution of Xian Niang? How can her death mean so little? Why must the bigger picture supersede the value of one human life? No lives should be sacrificed for the bigger picture.
I have always been an advocate of "Look at the big picture" but seeing the failure of the revolution and the heartlessness of those "bigger picture" guys, I emphatise with Mu Bai's bitterness. Was Xian Niang's life of so little value that not one shed a tear?
That was when we see the disillusioned Mu Bai. He sat for days at the front of Xian Niang's grave, growing beard and cared about nothing, not even Master Kao's death. he says things like "Let it be".."Why hope for so much".."It's fated"..as if he let go of everything, all human emotions and became an enlightened person. Perhaps he got away from suffering and became invincible to pain and love. All those that made us mere mortals.
But the truth was, he was always sitting next to Xian Niang's grave. He looked at her grave with bitterness in his eyes. I would say he was angry not at the world but at himself. All the kung fu in the world and yet he couldn't save one woman from being raped and humiliated to death. I believe in his heart he loved Xian Niang more than he realised; a fact which he tearfully admitted when she died in his arms.He loved her, he couldn't save her from the torture, he couldn't safeguard her memory in others and thus he was actually punishing himself. He didn't let go at that moment; he was still very much into his own world of anger, despair and pain.
If such a good man becomes such an irresponsible man, I could hate him. Xian Niang died saying she loved seeing him practising his kung fu, because he was like a hero to her. She admired him for everything that he was, everything that he could have been. But spending days and nights sitting in front of her grave and ignoring Xiao Hu's pleas for help and belittling the noble death of Master Kao were not the traits of a hero that Xian Niang saw in him. At that moment I felt perhaps Xian Niang's death was perhaps meaningless and what she said was of little meaning because Mu Bai was simply a useless man at that moment.
But then after his sifu's pep talk, he stood up again. Like in one review I read (you know where right?), was Li Mu Bai going mad?
Nope. I like that scene. Because you see, Li Mu Bai couldn't stand the pain and suffering so he became a recluse. But then he realised he lived for himself. When he was dying, he told himself..
"Li Mu Bai...you can end all suffering now..you don't have to care anymore..you can leave this world and all will be how it used to be again..."
and yet he told himself;
"Li Mu Bai...if you die now, if you didn't fight one last fight...the life you have lived will be wasted.."
And he realised he didn't want to waste his life just like that. It was far easier to give up but those are not what we should strive for. We live not to die but we live to live. Whatever we face, be it pain, joy, hurt, suffering, even death, they're a one big package bundled up in a package called life. It may be an ugly package but at the end of the day, we rather lived to try and tried to live than just die without living at all. Whatever Li Mu Bai was going through, those are phases in life that everyone will go through, maybe not as dramatic as Li Mu Bai's life but somewhere near there. When Li Mu Bai woke up, stood up, he forgot about his own physical pain. At that moment he was invincible. he regained his confidence and his will to live. he knew what must be done and he knew he could do it. Simply put, he wasn't going mad...he was living again and I love that scene. Because that was when we see the real Li Mu Bai, the Li Mu Bai I wanted to see and expected to see from Episode One. The growing up phase is now complete. Li Mu Bai has truly become Li Mu Bai.
This is one character that I could go on and on about but I'll just stop here because I have plenty more to say about everybody else and this review is getting way too long. But just let me say this; whoever's the actor that got the role of Li Mu Bai, and if he did it well, is blessed. You won't get to see a role that goes through so much in so little time and this is an actor's golden opportunity to excel because the character of Li Mu Bai is actually..well you may see him as simplistic because he went through very little emotional changes in his faces but I see him as a very deep and thought provoking character to portray because he has tons of emotional changes but the real deal is Li Mu Bai is a calm man. So the actor has to act out the calmness and yet portray enough of other emotions within the boundaries of the calm element to show us what Li Mu Bai is all about. A lousy actor will screw up Li Mu Bai by portraying him too emotionally or too wooden like that you'll see that character as an emotional crippled guy. Something like a 2 dimensional cardboard. Li Mu Bai is actually a very rich person emotionally but he just doesn't show much. Only the good ones will be somewhere between these two extremes. It helps that the writer practically channeled all his efforts in making Li Mu Bai as detailed as possible in writing but it is a good actor who will input everything else to make Li Mu Bai come alive. To me, Li Mu Bai is so real to me..he deosn't seem like a character. This has every bit of connection to the actor who played Li Mu Bai but let me sing more praises for him under Performances Rated.
Kao Lang Qiu
A very interesting character in the sense of his Big Picture philosophy. All his life he fought for the rebel...ready to sacrifice his life...imagine his disappointment when the rebel themselves were not united. They were doomed to fail but I have to say, this is one character with so much integrity that you can't say he was selfish when he wanted Jiao lung to be his spy. Little is known of his past, lesser is know as to why he chose Jiao Lung as his student. We know nothing about his wife and him but yet we know enough that Li Mu Bai will grow up to be just like him..honourable..with intergrity and righteous.
Xie Xiang Niang
Not very interesting alone but very interesting when she was with Li Mu Bai because she displayed so much of longing for that man and yet she couldn't have him, not even physically. I see her as a very sad person. Imagine being rebuffed by the man you love repeatedly and you know whatever you do for him will never measure up to what the other woman will do for Mu Bai. Perhaps when she died she knew by taking the fall for Xiu Lian, she was a bit foolish but in her own foolishness and by ending her own life, she was actually making a powerful statement. She would do anything for him. She did so much for him and in the end, though she didn't get what she longed for, but she did get what she had hoped a little for; to be held by Li Mu Bai. She was satisfied that he cried for her and I am sure she will be glad to take Xiu Lian's place in this nightmare for a woman. Why would she do so much for Mu Bai? Imagine all your life you have been a prostitute and then this man treated you like a lady. A perfect gentleman that insisted on serving you instead of you serving him. He treated her with respect and he repayed him with her life. A bad bargain but I find it interesting that at the moment of death, she felt it was all enough. Poor woman..she hoped for so little by giving so much. I really pity her and she is my Most Favourite Female Character in this series.
Yu Xiu Lian
I find it interesting that this girl actually has a temper. Don't ever cross her path, especially if you've killed her entire family. Anyway, horrifying for me because such a sweet looking girl, she can be very rude sometimes. One minute she looks at you with these sweet understanding eyes, the next she looked away and her eyes was staring that deadly stare. I do not like the way how they show her jealous; when she is jealous she became unreasonable ( actually quite a logical reaction) AND extremely rude. She would scream at Mu Bai (of course technically she wasn't screaming but she raised her voice), said mean words (like "Would you care since I could as well have died"), blatantly ignore people (like Xie), push people away, give Mu Bai that sulking looks...Of course all these concern Mu Bai himself. Funny though; when her fiancee dumped her she was crying because she couldn't believe he dumped her and yet she wasn't staring that deadly stare. All those stares were reserved for Mu Bai when she was in a fit of jealousy. She could be one scary lady sometimes. I would expect such mood swings from Jiao Lung but even Xiu Lian has them; so I guess she is only a woman at the end of the day, in love.
Remember I said that in modern times she would be disliked? True. Because if this is one woman, (if you just take away Huang Yi's face and make it a different face), who talks about honour but it's all just words. Modern times we would yell at Mu Bai for not confessing his love for Xiu Lian, which is quite normal at that time because people don't just say everything. They're not very open emotionally especially the cirsumctances they were in, like in the movie version.
But in modern times, we will scream at Mu Bai but we will also call Xiu Lian many derogatory names. Look at it this way; when she was with Mung, she frequently ran to Mu Bai, quite affectionate with him, any problems it is always Mu Bai and not Mung and yet when Mung repeatedly asked her "Are you sure about us?" she would answer with such certainty "Yes" that you almost believe her. We will probably not like her if this is a modern series because she say one thing and does another. Her words does not correspond with her heart. But because this is a costume series AND we have Huang Yi in it, we don't really care much for Mung and we believe in her holding on to her promise. But at the end of the day she was being quite unfair to poor Mung though I still want Mu Bai as her guy and not Mung.
And then the story took a ridiculous turn; that she hated Mu Bai. How could someone as wise and as calm and mature as her could believe such a lie when she knew Mu Bai? Even Mu Bai couldn't understand. Like I said above in the spoilers, perhaps whatever i have said could be true. I didn't like how the writers dealt with her character but it was interesting to see a change in her. Perhaps this is the reaction of a jilted lover. The funny thing was they never started at all as lovers. In most series they were just bystanders, in love with each other. There was no relationship to begin with and yet she could harbour such magnitude of emotions for this man, including hatred, I find her as scary as He Qian He the mad woman. Such a woman would not be termed as mature and calm. I would say she is emotional and unreasonable when she gets angry. When she is angry her judgment is clouded and her conscience haywire. All she is left with is purely a woman's intuition. She doesn't have those kind of sharp intuition. Though she appears to be knowledgeable, even Jiao Lung was more street smart than her. Xiu Lian is a woman who knew little but been through a lot. So when something big happens, she doesn't know how to handle it and resorted to her instincts which were defective, especially how she treated Mu Bai and her godfather.
I find this character as interesting as I find it destructive. Even from Episode 1 she had such destructive nature in her and her ability to hate could be seen from episode 1 but she kept in under control. But when she couldn't, everything went haywire and I believe she is far more destructive than Yu Jiao Lung, though Yu Jiao lung is guilty of rash actions. Which is worst? Ability to hate so much that there's not more ability to judge what is right and what is wrong like Yu Xiu Lian or unreasonableness to the point of acting without thinking like Jiao Lung?
For me Yu Xiu Lian is far more frightening and there are times I wonder what did Mu Bai see in her?
Yu Jiao Lung
This is definitely one woman that we will hate if she is in a modern series' context. Fickle minded, malicious, mean, sometimes you would wonder what Xiao Hu a nice guy saw in her? She can be very unreasonable, uncontrollable and even a bit destructive and in modern times her behavior, though normal but many conservatives will still shake their head in disapproval. Some might say she is a rebel, sometimes with cause but most times even with cause she was malicious in her approach though she may not realise it. She tried to be nice, by helping Mu Bai and Xiu Lian but she never think before she acts and thus always someone will be hurt. What she needs is one tight slap. People might find her cute but I put her here under this heading, and specifically under Insulting Aspects because this is another stereotyped role; rich girls just wanna have fun, got the fun, then dump the fun using any means. And funny though, Xie acted more like a lady and she was a prostitute. Which is why in my compare and contrast with the movie version, I like that persona of Yu Jiao lung because that is more logical. Anyway, rich girls aren't all unreasonable, rowdy and rude, like both Huai Yu and our Jiao Lung.
Anyway, one scene Jiao Lung confessed that she was most afarid of one thing; that no one will control her. I find that interesting.
Though she hated the life she had when Mr Yu was around, she couldn't breath an when she met Xiao Hu he was like a chance for freedom to her, and yet she longs to be controlled. Perhaps she knew that she isn't that good as a person though this is one woman who could see more clearly than our Yu Xiu Lian. She knows her weaknesses. She knows what is right and what is wrong and yet she still choose as she wishes. She acts on her own whims and fancy and when trouble begins, she realise she had caused too much trouble for the people she love. She is not a rebel in my definition but a passionate girl. Passionate about love..passionate about life..passionate about her family. She is a girl of extremes and yet she is far more clear headed than Xiu Lian. Xiu Lian harbours an ability to hate to the extreme but Jiao lung does not. She hates and yet she has an ability to see through her hate and find forgiveness like she did with Xiao Hu. I would say Jiao Lung has an ability to love and live to the extreme.
Tie Xiao Bei Le
My vote for the Most Pitiful Villain in this series. I really do pity him. Such ambition and yet none of the luck to achieve that ambition. In my intro I wrote that I wished the writers develop more on this character, give it a more deeper personality and I was not disappointed. Sure we knew nothing of this man's past nor his relations with the King. We never get to see the King but from the conversations that he had with his men we would know that the King hates him, he has lost favour amongst the officials in the court. Basically he is a Prince with no power and is desperate for power because he wants to be King. Ignore the ending where he found the treasure. That is not what I am talking about but rather the whole process of it. Why is he so keen on getting his hands on the treasure? Like Mu Bai said if he let go he will have everything. True because by pursuing on this ambition of his, he in the end loses everything. In the first place the Heavens isn't on his side at all. When he found the so called treasure, it stopped glowing. When he tried to enlist men into his little devious scheme, none ever really worked for him. Mu Bai was never his men, Master Kao rather die than serve him, even Xian Niang couldn't stand him. Some may say he is evil with the way he treated Liu Tai Bao, the way he hurt Xie Xian Niang, or even the way he forced Master Kao to his death. He helped He Qian He kill off Xiu Lian's family and he will stop at nothing to get his hands on the treasure.
Was he evil?
I would say he was desperate. Many times in this series he has made statements like finding a friend. I am not sure if he has a wife or children. But when Mu Bai walked into his life, he thought he found a friend. When Xian Niang showed interest in what he does, he'd rather talk to her than sleep with her. In Master Kao he thought he found a friend and an ally. He could have given Xiu Lian to He Qian He but he did not. Perhaps you might say he is using Xiu Lian to get to Mu Bai. True. But I believe whatever we see on the surface,. deep down this Prince is a very lonely man. Lonely and desperate; two very potent combination that could drive a man towards the path of self destruction.
In the cave before he died, after what Mu Bai said to him, he realised perhaps Mu Bai was right. Innately he knows that whatever he was doing before were wrong and yet he still did it anyway. Chinese has this saying for this kind of man; he simply felt he was the loser in life and he didn't want to keep on being the loser. He wasn't satisfied and so he wanted more. What Mu Bai told him was that more shouldn't necessarily be materials wealth. The Prince before he died realised that and he was hoping and asking for forgiveness. Mu Bai gave him such forgiveness and he died a happy man, realising his life was actually quite a good life. And I believe secretly he admires Mu Bai for Mu Bai's simplicity. The Prince made his own life way too complicated but Mu Bai sees thing beyond what is on the surface and appreciate life for what it is or for what it offers.
I am not saying having ambition is bad or that you should be discouraged from pursuing your over the top ambition. But I guess Taoism is about going back to the basics; life at its simplest and I am not sure whether they advocate this but I was told they do not welcome changes in terms of advancement of technology. They believe in that natural order of things as I was told.
Which will lead to what I said before. Remember my statement on the Ying and Yang thing; hard and soft. To overcome the brute force we take the soft approach instead of using more brute force. The Prince didn't believe in that. Sure he tried to be nice to get his men but in the end his approach is all wrong because his objective was wrong.
So my point is if a person has a certain big ambition, perhaps the first that must be looked at is the objective. What is the basis of the ambition and why? The Prince's basis was all wrong. Mu Bai said he didn't have the love of the people, the loyalty of his men, the support of his kin which was why he failed big time. I believe that was why the treasure stopped shining for him. Because he wasn't the right person to utilise the power that the stone offered. I guess we can say life is a bit fated. if it is then the Heavens must be playing a big joke on this Prince, since the Heavens already pre determined that he will not get what he wanted, so why give him the glimmer of hope?
Should the Prince be forgiven? The funny thing was I hated Yu Xiu Lian more than this Prince. But when Liu Tai Bai died, perhaps the Prince was beyond forgiveness. Like for Xiu Lian. But Chinese has this saying; "Fong Ha Tou Dou, Lap Dei Sing Fatt", which means put down your swords and become a Buddha. The first step towards forgiveness is to let go of all hate and forgive yourself. Mu Bai did just that before he killed the Prince. Perhaps he let go of his own guilt on Xian Niang's death and was able to smile again. Clearly it wasn't his fault. The Prince did that in the end and all the burden was lifted. Burden as in the package he carried with him all his life and he could die in peace. Whatever is this Prince's punishment, there's always HELL to deal with his past life's actions.
I find the Prince to be a very thought provoking character. In modern times, I would say this Prince harbours a feeling for Mu Bai which was why he reacted the way he did when he discovered Mu Bai betrayed his trust by joining the rebel gang to fight against him. But of course not in a white washed and politically correct TV series.
Most Favourite Aspects / Best Aspects
I narrowed it down to 5.
The Progression of the relationship between Mu Bai and Xiu Lian
If there is one thing that is both frustrating and exhilarating at the same time is the rather slow-mo relationship of Mu Bai and Xiu Lian. You knew they are meant for each other but it will take them the entire series to confess their love for one another AND still they end up being apart, but with a promise of a possible future. Not a bleak type of ending but still not very satisfying for fans. But what it lacks in being the most fans pleasing ending it makes up for its poignancy and it's hidden true heartfelt ending.
Why I love the performances is the way the actors portray their character.
In the beginning, Xiu Lian doesn't even let Mu Bai near her, and Mu Bai stands very near her because he couldn't see and he meant well because he is naively childish when it comes to what is proper conduct with a woman. I am not saying he acted like a complete jerk or his hands were everywhere but in those olden days, you're not supposed to brush the dirt off a woman's shoulder without her permission. But when she began to like him, and he began to like her, their proximity became more apparent; they get closer and closer, and there began the start of the unconscious romance; where he combed her hair, she touched his hands, she cooked for him, he advised her, he consoled her, and their faces kept getting closer and closer. It was because Xiu Lian let him to be close. Remember the scene where Xiu Lian was angry with Mu Bai going into the brothel with Xie? How she treated him? He was playful and he walked near her and talked to her the way they always did and she turned around, saw him face to face and then pushed him away? That was because she didn't like him anymore and so the privilege of being close to her is gone. Though Mung had the opportunity to hug her, it wasn't an affectionate hug. But when Mu Bai looked at her, only centimeters away from her face, the proximity was close, you knew there were some suppressed emotion between the two. And then when Xiu Lian was hurt by Mung's declaration of love for Xie, she let him hug her and she cried on his shoulders. Whenever there was something happy to announce, she ran to him. Whenever he heard her name, he smiled a little. She even let her touch her shoulders! Though they have yet to outright hug in the middle of the series, you could feel their devotion to one another. Mu Bai called it friendship, Xiu Lian could not find words to describe that proximity, I would say it is love. The best portrayal of a love relationship isn't always about hugs and kisses, like the earlier part of Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung's stories. That's only physical. Later Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung's relationship shifted to open flirtation. But what is classic in this series is the flirtation that exists between Mu Bai and Xiu Lian without them realising it. And I just love these few scenes as I shall elaborate below because I find them very well acted. Everytime I thought Huang Yi didn't do a good job she would give such stares to Mu Bai that well...I thought she was pretty good.
For example, every morning our hero will do the tai-chi as exercise. Xiu Lian would just stare at him to the point that she would follow his movements and even knocked down the table and still she would still stare. Or she would walk slowly observing him, her eyes never leaving him. When he was walking up to see her, she would panic because she didn't know what to do. She was too in love with Mu Bai that when she was around him, she was a bit mushy. Well, that was before the story shifted its focus and made us hate Xiu Lian. As for Mu Bai, he too would stare at her. One of the best scene was where he looked at a Xiu Lian who was wearing lipstick. his eyes spoke volumes. You knew whatever he said after that was just plain lie because he clearly adored and worshipped this woman. I would say the best scenes are always those where they just stare at each other.
The success is the chemistry of the actors. I have rarely seen such great chemistry and in this series, Qiu Xinzhi and Huang Yi has such great chemistry together, even if they were to stand 10 feet apart, you could feel the intensity between the two of them. And it is only in such a relationship with such good performances that will have fans begging that they hug, kiss and be together and when the ending wasn't what they expected, they would curse and ask for a sequal for a definite ending. I feel this is the greatest success a filmmaker and an actor can achieve.
The often emotionally intimate relationship between Xie Xian Niang and Li Mu Bai
I think I have said enough about these two that you will know why I put their relationship as my favourite aspect. You know, I just realised that Li Mu Bai revealed more of himself in terms of his emotions to Xian Niang than to Xiu Lian . He hugged Xian Niang more and she even got to kiss him on the lips twice (both failed) and one time on his cheek. He held Xian Niang's hands more than he did with Xiu Lian. He could easily take her hands into his own protective hands and yet he was reluctant when it comes to Xiu Lian. Perhaps when a man is in love, it would be far more difficult for him to hold the hands of a woman that he loves. but I truly believe in his heart he has Xian Niang .
The Kung Fus
Generally the Kung Fus were great in this series. I dare say they're the best I have seen on TV series, be it TVB/ATV/TCS/Taiwan/China. They're not so impossible that it is logically unacceptable and yet not too bland until it is boring to watch. The one scene that killed my interest in CTHD the movie was the flying on top of the trees scene between Chow Yun Fatt and Zhang Ziyi. That was a really stupid scene. And those flying on top of the rooftops scenes. If you're trying to make a social statement with a very real love relationship problem, never ever adopt the mythical and magical type of Kung Fu. The redeeming factors were simply Cheng Pei Pei and especially the great Michelle Yeoh's Kung Fu scenes. If not I would have switched off my VCD player.
In the series, we have the obligatory flying on top of the trees scenes but it wasn't really flying, but running on top of trees with the top of the trees as a platform to stand/run on. It was a marvelous scene where Mu Bai swoosh down to attack Xiao Hu who punched the tree trunks thinking it was Jiao Lung playing hide and seek. Very funny scene. And there were Xiu Lian's and Jiao Lung's fighting scenes, Xiao Hu's scenes.. all were done logically and tastefully. Nothing over the top and yet nothing too timid. Very imaginative and in the end quite a sight to behold.
Do try to ignore those far shots where we have stunt persons doing the Kung Fus. To me it didn't matter. The Kung Fu moves were splendid.
I love the themesong sung by Eric Moo. You can download the MTV version and even the song in Gallery--> Trailers BUT I beg you to download the song from the link above. This is the original full song, complete with beginning and ending. The series opened with the middle of the song and though were very good, it was the song in its entirety that makes me say; "The best song I have heard from a TV series", and even better than JTTW I/II, Time Off and Hope For Sale, though JTTWI/II will win hands down for the most original background musical score.
I just love the MP3 version and I really thank Mai Nguyen for the song. So very clear. The song you'll be downloading is actually provided by a person named Greenhope from a Music Discussion Forum. I love the beginning where it was only Eric and a guitar, then came the drums, then the backup voices, then the electric guitar and more drums and then I could hear influences from nomadic sounds, or even African sounds. The ending was even more wonderful and I have never really liked Eric Moo though I remember his first real hit, Kopi-oh, kopi-oh song, but now I am beginning to like him. His voice is so clear and the way he sang the song was just right. I could listen to the song again and again and I am still not bored with it. And the lyrics are very meaningful, almost about Mu Bai and the rest of the gang. I didn't really hear the song at first but I am glad I did. Simply marvelous and Mr Ang Lee, this should have been your movie's main theme. Not that one sung by the screaming Coco Lee, and definitely one that you can't modify into an English. But I admit, this song would not fit the mood of the movie.
Ultimate Classic Scene(s)/All Time Favourites
More than one and they are also my favourite scenes and I feel the highlight of this series. All involved Li Mu Bai and when he is fighting or doing the tai-chi. Be it the scene where he fought the mad woman, swooshing down the tree to attack Xiao Hu, fighting the small fights, doing the tai-chi whilst standing in a shallow river, take note of the way he killed the Prince (the computer graphics were tastefully done)...all of his fighting scenes.
I must give Qiu Xin Zhi the credit he clearly deserves for being so convincing. Though we all know the far shots is somebody else, the stuntman doing the back flips and all, but we get to see plenty of close shots. I thought when he did the tai-chi moves, he was so real, like he really knew tai chi as an art of kung fu. He is very agile and light in his movements, though he may look pudgy or even fat to many. His gracefulness compliments the backdrops where his scenes appear in, and it does help when there are beautifully choreographed movements. I mean whilst you're concentrating on Huang Yi, or Shui Ling, or Peter Ho or even Qiu Xin Zhi, why not try to observe his graceful movements as well. I would say all of his fighting scene were great, including the scene where at the beginning, he was fighting a bunch of people and there he met Master Kao or when he was rescuing a father and daughter being attacked in the earlier part of the series, using a wooden sword. Very very memorable. BUT TWO stood out as the best of the best, the most classic ones that I feel I will never ever forget as even as I write this comment now, could remember them clearly, in a visual sense. The choreographs are so visually rich. If you're only about to watch the series, notice these two few seconds of a scene, which occur in the earlier episodes.
The Opening Scene
This is my most favourite scene of all favourites, IN ALL KUNG FU SERIES. Nothing spectacular, no flying around but it's just the way it was visually presented and it is the very first scene you will see in the series, where we were introduced to Li Mu Bai and this one scene explain all; what kind of a man he is, how much of possible wisdom he may have, his level of concentration, his potential for greatness as the future jaded, weary but nevertheless experienced, wise and respected great hero, Li Mu Bai. If you watched the movie, imagine Chow Yun Fatt as an older Qiu Xinzhi's Li Mu Bai and you almost have a sort of a prequel in here.
The series opens with a narration, and the scene of Wu Dang disciples learning kung fu in unison. Then it rained all of a sudden. Any normal human being would do what 99% of them did, ran for cover, including the sifu. But one student remained standing in the rain, eyes closed, face full of concentration and yet peace, and slowly continued with his tai-chi exercise with a half smile. The camera zoomed behind him and his sifu and brothers looked at him in awe. In awe because this guy was so deep into his exercise, that he ignored the trivial thing like getting wet in the rain to continue with his path towards perfecting his art. We know he was concentrating hard but he made it as if he was simply enjoying the whole exercise, moving to the rhythm of the rain, slowly and gracefully.
This was just 1 minute tops of a scene, but I can never ever forget the visually rich and beautiful surroundings. I felt so at peace looking at that scene and Qiu Xin Zhi was so graceful in it. This one short scene held so much promise for this series, and of course thereafter we have Jiao Lung running after Xiao Hu which was quite a let down for me. But I told myself; that one unforgettable scene is enough for me to forgive any mistake or blunder that this series makes (though I may not shut up about those mistakes), and I will watch it with an open mind because that scene was set in my mind. And I could appreciate this series more, because it was so logical to open with that classic scene, where we have a happy and contented Mu Bai and how else will the writer end it but with a weary and jaded Mu Bai? That one scene was like a promise of better things to come. Though later scenes were not as meaningful and visually enriching as this scene, they nevertheless held to the promise of complete entertainment.
You'll find the same scene in the later part of the series. The picture is as below and doesn't he look a bit like Kenny Ho?
The Flying Onto The Top Of The Tree Scene
Not the one with Xiao Hu in it but earlier, in Episode 2 I think. I can't remember exactly where.
This is also my ultimate favourite scene and it was just 30 seconds tops. Also involves Mu Bai and Kung Fu, but not spectacular Kung Fu, just the way he flew up the tree. Very beautifully choreographed though I would have wished for a less over zealous cameraman.
Xiu Lian has just argued with Mu Bai for the way he was looking at her and brushing her shoulders. He didn't mean any harm but she felt insulted. And so she rudely told him to leave her alone right after, and if I remember correctly, they left the Mung residence. He obidiently left and she went on her own way. But later Mu Bai walked and heard some fighting sound, and flew up and saw Xiu Lian being attacked by that mad woman.
Not that scene but notice the way he flew up the tree, such grace, such ease. Maybe not Qiu Xin Zhi but kudos to the choreographer. The usual flying onto the top of the tree to get a better view type of scenes will involve the possible following moves;
1. simple and straightforward flying into the top of the tree and holding the branch for support.
2. walk up on the trunk, which Mu Bai later did in one other scene.
3. Fly and step ONCE on a tree trunk for some sort of a base support and thereafter hold on to a branch for support.
4. Same as 3 but step on the trunk TWICE.
5. Fly straight up like i but do it in a twisting style, common in all TVB series.
6. Step on a trampoline and jump up, though we are not supposed to know there's a trampoline.
BUT this series gave a new meaning to flying on top of the tree. I am sure it was done before somewhere else but I never noticed them until now, more so when I was wearing my glasses of course.
Li Mu Bai step on the tree's trunk once, twist around whilst lightly touching the trunk, then step on the tree trunk's once again, twist around the tree trunk again whilst repeating the steps until he was high enough to hold onto the branch to see someone being attacked, that was Xiu Lian. My power of description is very poor and so I did no justice to that scene. Just watch it and you'll see what I mean. If you missed it, do download the opening theme MTV in Trailers, fast forward it to almost the end and you'll have 2 seconds segment on that scene.
It was such a memorable scene that becomes my all time favourite, along with the other one I have mentioned for their simplicity in their movement and yet visually rich in their execution. Excellent!
Most Disappointing Aspects
Apart from the obvious, like Li Mu Bai's wardrobe (Wu Dang clan must be really really in dire need of funding) which is all WHITE OR DIRTY WHITE or dirty grey, Jiao Lung's hairstyle which looks more like ready for bed than ready for an outing, Xiu Lian's dresses which is either too plain, too pink (but that makes her looks sweeter but Xiu Lian is not supposed to be sweet) or too green, the Prince's wardrobe which was like all black or all red, Xiao Hu's dresses which were too clumsy, what else?
All my disappointing aspects are to the wardrobe selection though Qiu Xinzhi does look good in white and Huang Yi very sweet looking, Shui Ling's make up is very exotic and Peter Ho's look very rugged and nomadic (albeit a bit too colourful and he is very very clean looking). Ok so it is logical that they dress down the actors, this series is not a fashion show nor are the characters, save for Jiao Lung very rich and could afford HZGG type of wardrobe.
But my biggest disappointment is the one thing that kinda holds this whole series together; the Qing Ming sword.
It reminds me of a dagger with identity crisis. Too short to be a sword and too long to be a dagger. The pattern is nothing fantastic, no sound effects when the sword is used like "swoosh..ching..ka-ping.." and after a while the sword losses its importance in the storyline. I find the sword too ordinary looking. Sure it's supposed to be extraordinary but I like the sword in the movie version, with dragon patterns and all the sound effect. That is a beautiful sword but the series' sword, it's so disappointing. Nothing magnificent or magical. It's like when you want to kill the enemy you must walk ten feet closer for the tip to touch the victim. So bloody short!
The overzealous Cameramen
I love the kung fus and the choreographs of it, some scenes were beautifully filmed BUT most are like over the top. When I say over the top I am talking about the cameraman. He seems to go into an overdrive when he films fighting scenes. Slow mo kung fus aside for some scenes (which was stylishly filmed), most involve a technique called "Headache Inducing Camera Work". The moment they fight, the camera would swoosh left, swoosh right, upside down, inside out, 40 degrees to the left, 80 degrees to the right, swirl around, you name it they have got it. Why can't the bloody camera just stay still so that we can enjoy some scenes in its full glory? Some fighting scenes had long shots which was great because you get to see both sides but too many scenes involve camerawork in very close proximity, which was frustrating because the choreograph was so good. I guess we have a mathematics degree holder as the cameraman or the director because this person seems obsess with 60 degrees to the left shot, 30 degrees to the right shot...
The Beginning, middle and almost end of The Relationship Between Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung
I confess; I am not a prudish type of woman. I have read and have watched Kama Sutra, I have seen plenty of naked women and men doing far more things on screen. So when it comes to kissing scenes, I am very ok with that, if it is done with style and just enough of affection. In ATE the kissing scenes were a torture to watch because the actors kiss like they both have ulcers in their mouths, and I have yet to see a French Kiss on the small screen. In this series, the kissings were quite ok, very affectionate but there is such a thing as too much kissing. Reminds me of the American movie, Showgirls. I feel asleep half way because the lead taking off her clothes too often is rather boring to watch. How many naked bodies do I need to see before the really good story begins, which was none in this sorry excuse of a movie?
In this series, the first few episodes were the worst. We have Jiao Lung kissing Xiao Hu, often twice in an episode, and the kiss gets more and more daring, from a simple kiss (not so simple actually but it was a painful kiss since he had a dagger stuck on his shoulder), to upside down kiss, to kissing on the neck and the rest is up to your imagination, not because I am refusing to describe it but they didn't show what happened thereafter. I do know they haven't sleep with each other yet but the kissing scenes were boring because too many, and the novelty of watching them kiss was wearing thin by the 5th episode or so. The one pair that I wanted them to kiss never did, which was frustrating and the one pair I wished they stop kissing, luckily and fortunately for us, they did when the story shifted in its focus. So we have so many kisses that we know they adore each other. Once that was established, we get to see a more affectionate couple, in terms of the way they look at each other, tease each other, etc.
Kisses are good but hey, romance is better!
The Snail Paced Relationship Between Xiu Lian and Mu Bai
It was one of the highlights of this series AND yet it was the worst because I wanted More MORE MOREEEE. A kiss, a hug, something more passionate but nope. No romance either! Urrghhhh..all these suppressed emotion could make an interesting storyline, in writing! I want visual stuff, I want at least a KISS but NONE! Not even one small tiny weensy teeny peck on Xiu Lian's cheek. At least Xie was like almost a millimetre away from Mu Bai's virgin lips!.So I could safely conclude, both are virgins, both are willing, both are in love, both are waiting, both as reluctant equals FRUSTRATION to all fans of this couple who technically isn't a couple. I don't care! Give me a sequal! I WANT THEM TO KISS!
The Character of Yu Xiu Lian
I can't really understand why the writers did what they did with this character. I really like her at first but in the end, I hated her. Can't find it in my heart to forgive what she did. Perhaps they wanted more drama for this character, to create tension between Xiu Lian and Mu Bai. But there was already lots of sexual tension, I don't need such emotional tension. I find it amazing how the writers tried sop hard for us to believe that Xiu Lian would believe the Prince's lie. I thought perhaps she was just joking or perhaps was actually an undercover spy for the rebels. But nope. She really hated him for 3 whole episodes. I was hoping when she saw the blinded Mu Bai, he heart would go soft. But nope. She was glad he was blind. How can such a nice person change to this? I tried to reason as I have in my comments above but I still find it ridiculous at how her character become. Believe me, you'll hate her.
The Plot Of Jiao Lung losing all her memory
I think Shui Ling handled these few scenes pretty badly. She forgot about Xiao Hu and so she acted like she was; spoilt and unreasonable, loud and naughty, playful and plain dumb so to speak. But she remembers her father's death, Master Kao's death, she remembered everything except for Xiao Hu and her feelings for him. And she could still sit the way she sat, eat the way she ate and talk the way she talked? Excuse me but this just doesn't compute in my mind. I find this plot plain ridiculous and purely for drama only.
The Ke-Le-Fes (Colourfares) At The Back Of Xiu Lian
I laughed at how silly those scenes could be. I have watched this documentary on Jackie Chan who revolutionised the choreography of a Kung Fu scene, where in the olden days, we have one guy fighting with another guy, and the 50 others will jump left and jump right waiting for the moment to attack. Many just stand around pretending to be a threat to our hero but always, our hero fights the bad guys ONE AT A TIME. Jackie Chan intelligently adopted a more realistic style where 10 enemies come to fight our hero, ALL TEN attack at once. I mean you want to beat up a guy, would you wait until your turn? There's a number to take issit?
Well in this series unfortunately we have both version. 10 people standing there, and 4 or 5 will attack at one time against our hero. No complaints here.
BUT one scene, where Xiu Lian was trying to find a kidnapped Jiao Lung and she walked into a garden of some sort and about 7 to 10 men were there, all holding swords. The cameraman should have did the maths thing this time because if he did, I would not have noticed what the ke-le-fes were doing behind Xiu Lian. Do notice the scene and stop looking at Xiu Lian for a while. Whilst she was fighting about 1 or 2 at a time, the guys at the back were jumping left, jumping right, waving their swords waiting for their turn to fight but never moving forward one inch towards her. That was such a funny scene because it was such a bad scene and so 60's.
The characterisations of certain characters
I have grouped all my comments under the heading of Biggest Complaints cum Compare & Contrast.
The Ridiculous Plot Of The Treasure And The Connection Between The Famous Four and Mr I Want It All Bei Le Yeh
I find the treasure plot the weakest plot in the series. in the end I didn't even know what was the treasure though I deduced it to be a power of some sort. We never know why the treasure stop shining for our Prince but I deduced that the treasure didn't like the Prince. The treasure is more of a concrete block than treasure. I was hoping for gold and what nots but nope. The cave looked fake, I mean can't they find a decent cave in China? Must they use studio's cave? The way they found the treasure was way too easy. The way they dealt with the treasure plot was way too fast and simplistic. in the end the treasure plot was just a lame excuse to get all of then together to kill the Prince. I find that disappointing.
And the 5 elements thing in this series. Also a weak point. Did Xiu Lian knew Wu Dang kung fu? I don't think so. So was Xiao Hu and yet they were all connected by their elements and their Wu Dang kung fu. I find all of a sudden this series took a silly turn. If not for the consistency in the Prince and Mu Bai's character, the last few episodes were laughable in its plot.Very inconsistent.
The Inconsistency of the Music Of The Pocket Watch
One minute it was that very sad musical tune the next another tune. That irritated the hell out of me. Why can't they be more consistent? The pocket watch is like a CD changer isiit? You can choose what songs to play issit?
The Ultimate Biggest Disappointment
Wrong English for the above title but who cares?!
Anyway, the worst had to be the fact that 100% of the voices are dubbed or voice overs. I can't give a thorough evaluation so all I had was the voiceovers and the facial expressions. I believe if their voices were used, this would be an almost perfect rating for the series, since I do know how Qiu Xinzhi, Shui Ling and Zheng Chen Guang sound like. Shui Ling has this quaint Beijing accent, reminds me of Fan Bing Bing which is quite ok. Zheng Chen Guang has this soft voice and he always whispers his lines to an almost hypnotic effect. Qiu Xinzhi has this way of pronouncing his words, which reminds me of Kong Wah, very clear diction and quite a nice deep voice, which I have heard from his other series, Zhen Zhu Cai Yi. I am sure Huang Yi has a lovely voice, or even if she had a voice like Charmaine Sheh, I think I could tolerate her voice because she has plenty more to cover for her voice, if it is THAT bad. Even Peter Ho sounds ok to me. But why must they do so? Cheapskate producers. The only flaw, ok the only other major flaw of this series is the dubbing thing.
The voiceover used for Mu Bai and Xiao Hu were ok, very...manly but young. For Jiao Lung, it's a bit young and playful, a very excited voice acting, in fact sometimes over the top voice acting which can be irritating. But for Xiu Lian, it's mature and even sound a bit old for the obviously young Huang Yi. Very suitable voices and they did quite well. But I am always against dubbing, especially when you're dubbing Mandarin with Mandarin. Unless you're dubbing Japanese with Mandarin. Such a waste because I am very sure Zhen Chen Guang would not have delivered his lines the way his Prince voiceover did. It would be lower, slower and more of a menacing whisper. And Qiu Xinzhi rarely scream his lines in ZZCY and so I doubt he would speak so loud like his Mu Bai's voiceover did in some scenes. Even Shui Ling I think, but I am not sure since I only saw her in her real voice in an episode of Tears In Heaven (she sounded a bit like Fan Bing Bing) and that interview in our Trailers page. Her voice is very mature which I guess is logical to have her voice dubbed but perhaps she might be able to mold it into a younger voice, who knows? Peter Ho surprisingly speak very good mandarin and he has a nice voice. The thing is, I strongly disagree with dubbing the actors' voices and somehow with their voices dubbed, something is missing and therefore this series feels incomplete.
Most Insulting/Horrifying/ Perplexing/Confusing Aspects
This series should be rated an "R" for some its contents. The writers made it seem ok but I was horrified because this series contains many many hidden and not so hidden dark aspects to it.. Like Crouching Horror, Hidden Meaning.
Abuse to Animals
Specifically horses and birds. The first scene we see Xiu Lian was her riding her horse so hard (eh! Literally riding on the saddle ok?!) that the horse died of exhaustion. Maybe I didn't write it like I should but get my meaning right? Then we see the kind hearted Mu Bai actually climbing up the tree to steal bird's eggs! And he even apologised for wanting to eat the eggs!
I see that mad woman He Qian He as a serial killer. She just loves to kill kill kill and licking the blood of the poor victim's like an act of a vampire; very scary woman.
What is necrophilia? It is when a living human being becomes obssessed with a dead body (not just person but BODY as well) and would even do indecent acts on the body, wife or otherwise it doesn't matter. It was a horrifying scene for me because it was very unexpected and the reaction of both Mu Bai and Xiu Lian was classic; they see an old man hugging his dead wife's dried corpse as TRUE LOVE. I mean what?! This is soooooo shocking to me man! The corpse is so dead! And so dried. For God's sake, bury her!
At this moment in time let me torture you with some non related to this series' stories about such obsession, a tale which I've told many and many almost vomited.
I saw this documentary on dead bodies and a long long long time ago in America, there was this old doctor who met a young pretty patient, tried to save her but she eventually and sadly died from TB. The doctor paid the family to build a mausoleum which will contain her coffin out of what the family saw as genuine concern for the death girl. Witnesses kept seeing him walking in and out of the mausoleum almost every day, then night, then for days and nights, until 2 years later he disappeared together with the body. He moved to a quiet area where neighbours said he will buy lots and lots of perfume and even plays the organ at night. Many years later the sister of the dead girl came to see him and demanded to know where is the body. He led her into the master bedroom and the sister almost fainted and quickly called the police after she saw her dead sister, dressed in a wedding gown, with a wig on her skull and her face hardened and painted like a China doll with glass eyes, just lying there. An autopsy was done and more horrifying and vomit inducing elements were found. She has for a very long time lost that face of hers and so he made a mask, covered her face with it, tied her bones together using the piano strings, made a wig out of her fallen hair and the perfumes were used to cover the smell of a decomposing body. In other words he just made himself a mummy. And then they found a vaginal tube under her..what was formerly her genital area and guess what? He was sleeping with her all these years! He wasn't jailed because they found him insane and even when he died decades later, he was hugging a doll with the girl's face on it (he made a mold out of her face years ago) and wrote in his diary;
"I do not understand why people can't understand our love for each other"
Everytime I relive the scene where Mu Bai and Xiu Lian watch the man hug his dead decomposed dried corpse of a wife, I just kept seeing that sick old man. It was a horrifying scene and the worst was Mu Bai and Xiu Lian thought of it was true love. For God's sake, bury her and live by her memories, not her corpse!
By the way, that poor dead girl in the story I just told you was exhibited like a piece of antique. Talk about human decency.
The Rebel Gang's Way of Punishment
I tell you, why join the rebel gang when you did something heroic like saving two girls' lives and all they cared about was their mission and then as punishment they chopped off your fingers? And they even forced Mung to do it himself? I find that scary, like joining a gangster or a mafia. What happened to honour? What happened to bravery and compassion? Even when the woman he saved was the daughter of an official, does it make her life less precious than theirs? And when they killed Mung, wow one stab not enough. they must use small knives and three or four men repeatedly stabbed him to death. How can such a rebel gang succeed in overthorwing the Qings?
Pre Marital Foreplay
I am pretty sure Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung didn't really do it YET but this series boasts of plenty of hard core foreplay, at least hardcore in an otherwise PG Rated series. Kissing here, kissing there and the one that had my eyes so wide because of two factors; our censorship board somehow did not cut it out and the place where it took place in.
Xiao Hu in one of the earlier episodes sneaked into Jiao Lung's room and kissed her until she fell onto the dressing table. What surprises me was how easy Xiao Hu walked into her room and what a commotion they made. By that time I was sick of their kissings but luckily they stopped after that episode, except maybe for that upside down kiss, I can't remember which came first .
That Kamasutra and Yoga-like Kiss
One kiss unfortunately is still very much embedded in my mind though I don't want to; that UPSIDE DOWN kiss. That is the most scariest scene, to think that people might actually try it for real. Let us disregard the law of gravity, the law of physics and even suspend our logic for one second; WHAT WAS THE DIRECTOR THINKING ABOUT?
I know, if they can fly on top of trees they can kiss like that. I would assume Xiao Hu was riding the horse at normal speed, I would assume he slowed down a bit when he reached her but it was amazing and laughable that their lips could meet so perfectly. I can't buy that. I refuse to believe that. I was shocked. But this was fiction, of course there were no broken facial bones and that Jiao Lung's head did not bang into the horse's head. Just when I thought they kissed enough, here came this scene which will go down as the most memorable scene in this series for it's over the top kiss and it's silliness. Look at the picture below and you'll know what I mean.
The Notion of Physical Perfection
This I find to be the most disagreeable of all.
Lots of beautiful people in here with nice healthy SLIM bodies. And the one guy that was fat was Jiao Lung's fiancee. I find that insulting to vertically challenged people, especially when the series made it as if fat people are undesirable. Eh! Lady Yang Gui Fei was very fat ok?! Anyway I think I have said this millions of times by now; why not a good looking guy? I admit the fiancee is not handsome and even dumb. But to make him fat was as if being fat alone was undesirable and therefore Jiao Lung's obsession with Xiao Hu and Mu Bai was justified. That is wrong. It is different from getting a good looking, tall and slim actor to play this role. Making the character fat can only mean one thing; fiancee is undesirable because he is fat. What if this fiancee is learned, rich, skilled in Kung Fu, powerful and good looking as well? Wouldn't that make the series even more interesting? The writer I think was trying to create an obvious though insulting fact; fat people are undesirable therefore Xiao Hu is the perfect man for Jiao Lung who is pretty and slim.
Mu Bai's sifus
One question; why Mu Bai has that Ching hairstyle whilst the sifus the typical taoists priests hairstyle? Strange.
The feud between Yus and Jiangs
I hope I got the surnames right because I was very confused as to the feud between these two families. I heard the part where someone explained that Xiu Lian's dad and several of his "brothers" were once working together and then their partnership fell apart, one became the one armed corpse loving sicko in hiding from the rest of the world, the Jiangs had that mad woman in it and the Yu's became dispatch boys. The Jiangs still fought with the Yus for reasons that escapes me. Something about killing somebody else, ala Flying Fox On Showy Mountain; Oh yeah, Xiu Lian's father was accused to killing the Jiang's old man, right? Confirm please. Anyway, very confusing and at the end of the day. you wouldn't even remember why they all were killed so senselessly. It was I guess just a way to get the story rolling and an excuse to pair both Xiu Lian and Mu Bai.
Most Favourite Couple
Some said Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung. I think they're ok after some more viewing of the series . Most said Mu Bai and Xiu Lian. I like the progression of their relationship and the suspense was killing me. And I enjoy their part of the story more because I almost vomited blood due to my frustration of their reluctance. But in the end, I like Xian Niang and Mu Bai more. So they're my most favourite couple in this series.
Funny thing was Mu Bai an Xiu Lian was never truly a couple until the last one minute and Xian Niang and Mu Bai was never a couple at all!
Most Hated Character(s)
No, not Xie Xiang Niang. I like her for being so honourable eventhough she is a woman and a prostitute.
I really really hate that mad woman, He Qian He . I mean what is her problem anyway? So Xiu Lian might have killed her husband, and it was because she was defending herself, and by accident if I remembered correctly. Moreover, didn't she kinda remember she and her hubby kinda like killed the entire family of Xiu Lian? Noooooooo..
Funn : "Madam, do remember you killed her entire family and you wanted to kill her"
Mad Woman:" I don't care. She killed my husband and I must avenge for my husband's death"
Funn : "Yes, but YOU killed her entire family, and many more other families for what? A dispute between your hubby's ancestors and hers?"
Mad Woman:"I don't care. She killed my husband and I must avenge for my husband's death"
Funn : "I understand, but YOU KILLED HER ENTIRE FAMILY. DOESN'T THAT COUNT FOR SOMETHING? AND YOU KEPT WANTING TO KILL HER FIRST!!!"
Mad Woman:"I don't care. She killed my husband and I must avenge for my husband's death"
You see, some people just never listen.
And Yu Xiu Lian.
Most Hated Factor
The writers for screwing up Xiu Lian's character.
Most Irritating Character(s)
Almost put her under Most Hated Character but that mad woman beat her hands down. I don't really hate her but watching and her actions troubles me deeply, that if such a person exists I will probably slap her.
Yu Jiao Lung for everything mean and malicious she did. She was beyond playful, she was malicious and almost evil. You don't need to really kill someone to be called evil but she is one destructive force that needs to be controlled, like Master Kao said. But when she was kidnapped, trapped and almost killed we would realise that she is still a young childish immature little girl but she still irritates me for being so uncaring and so careless with other people's hearts and so ruthless in achieving what she wants. She has her redeeming qualities but I am afraid I do not have a magnifying glass nor the patience to find them.
Most Forgotten Description of a Character
Master Kao always said Jiao Lung is good but she needs to be controlled if not she will be a menace to the Kung Fu world. Like in the movie. BUT halfway through the series, everybody including the writers seemed to forgot about that description and in the end I didn't see Jiao Lung as any threat at all.
Most Unreasonable Character
Yu Xiu Lian.
Most Heroic/Admired Character
Plenty. Mu Bai..Xian Niang..Master Kao and in the end Jiao Lung herself.
Most "Really I Don't Care ABout This Guy/Girl" Character
Chai Xiang Mei, 5th Uncle Der and Liu Tai Bao though the way he died was pitiful.
Good people don't deserve to die the way they did. Liu Tai Bao was beaten to death, and Xian Niang was practically forced to die. I find Xian Niang the saddest character of all. And in a way I feel a bit of sympathy for Tie Xiao Bei Le too.
The Dumbest Character
You know, Mrs Yu reminded me of a woman whose pretty and dumb. Like an airhead if you must know. Whilst the father understood the daughter's pain, even looked like he understood and obviously Jiao Lung was crying inside in her heart when she agreed to marry Jun Pei, Mrs Yu was busy shedding tears at how happy she was. Was she blind or was she...blind? The way she talked and walked and responded to Jiao Lung's suffering was classic in this series..classic because she really reminded me that she is just all looks and no brain. You have just got to see her to know what I mean. And shouldn't Mr Yu be angry with her when mommy says that Jiao lung must marry the parents choice and that love isn't important as long as she has a comfortable living? Wow! Poor Mr Yu! So Mrs Yu married him not because of love but because of parental pressure issit? Classic.
Most Redundant Character(s)
The rest of the ke-le-fes. Waste of time to watch them. Especially Chai Xiang Mei and Liu Tai Bao. I shall elaborate on Liu Tai Bao. He knew Mu Bai a was framed, he knew the Prince was up to no good but it took him 32 episodes to tell Xiu Lian the truth.
Most Deserving Of A Kiss For A Job Well Done
Other than some of the actors I would say the cinematographer and also the choreographer. Give them an award, please! And to the make up department for those make ups of bruises, poisoned faces. They all looked very real and you have to look at poor Xian Niag when she died. look at her and you know why she said she had suffered enough.
I think I have said enough on this one. Simply put, every time Mu Bai appears.
First few episodes with Jiao Lung and Xiao Hu, the scene where she lost all her memory, the last few episodes on the treasure .
Mu Bai and his glasses. Especially when he was being asked whether could he see any of the alphabets on the wall. Cute scene. You can find the sceneshots in our gallery.
And one very important question which I find it very funny.
Where does Mu Bai got his money? I am sure by then he had spent all the money given by his sifus, so what money he uses for his travel around China at the end of the series? Beg for food? He didn't even take his cloth along with him. He just walked out.
And one scene which was funny not because it was meant to be funny but because of the way Qiu Xinzhi handled it. Perhaps that was his only flaw in this series.
One scene had him holding a pot made of steel or something. Mind you, supposedly very big and very very heavy. After all was done, he didn't put down the pot immediately but kept holding it whilst having a conversation with Xiao Hu and Jiao Lung. I find that very funny.
If I am not mistaken, throughout the series, our Mu Bai called Xiu Lian as Miss Yu, never once Xiu Lian whilst Xiu Lian called Mu Bai Li Da Ker but never Mu Bai. I find that amazing. Even when they were about to confess their love for one another, it was always Miss Yu and Li Da Ker.
And ever notice it was always Xiu Lian who did all the confessing? Lucky man, two women confess their live and devotion for him and all he had the power to accept or reject.
If I Were The Scriptwriter I Would...
Write a better plot for the treasure part, avoid those scenes where Jiao Lung lost all her memory, decide what I want to do with the series that is love story or politics, explain some more scenes, make it longer to explain the unexplained, show some scenes of the Emperor, perhaps make Tie Xiao Bei Le a powerful man who has great influence on the King, perhaps give much more things for the rebels to do instead of complete and utter failures, write a better storyline for Jade Fox and stop making us hate Xiu Lian. The only good thing that the writers did was to give such a concrete character to both the Prince and Mu Bai that for once, we have exciting, interesting and good characters to watch. It helps that the actors were also very good.
If I Were The Director I Would..
Stop myself from being an overzealous cameraman, find better actresses, find better hairdressers (look at Jade Fox's hair!) and find a real cave for the ending scene.
What To Expect
Amazing and breathtakingly beautiful sceneries. All on location scenes were like postcard scenes to me, idyllic, clear and so clean. The forest scenes were great, the river scenes were amazing, the mountain scenes were breathtaking. If you thought DOMD 2000 had beautiful sceneries, this one is better. DOMD 2000 was 90% snow but this one, had everything. Even the desert looked tempting. I wish I could capture some scene where the actors stand in front of a mountain, bridges, ponds, rivers. The camera would zoom back for a bigger view. Smart for the director to do so because you will realise the world is big place and it is such a beautiful place. I love the sceneries.
Kisses and love
Frustratingly slow love affair and really fast lightning speed love affair
Top notch performances by some
Interesting storyline for most of the series
Amazing and imaginative Kung Fu styles
Excellent themesong and a very good background music though some were quite familiar and obviously recycled background music
Be entertained in most parts of the series
What Not To Expect
A full proof and multi-layered storyline
Great performances by everybody
Lovely costumes. The worst was Huang Yi's costumes, the one in green.
Logical make up
The actors' real voices, be it Mandarin version or otherwise
CTHD the movie type of storyline
A happy and definite ending, though it is happy and it is defnite to me unless you see this as a prequel than this series in a way has a sad ending.
A sequal. Perhaps look at the movie as a sequal, which means Mu Bai will die. If not, look at it this way. Mu Bai went away for some quiet time; he did not run back to be a taoist priest. Xiu Lian said she will wait for his return, and he did not openly say "Do not wait for me". There was no denial of a chance and perhaps, he simply needed some time. One man who needs time and a woman who will willingly wait for eternity; that is a happy ending to me. Why am I repeating myself?
Compare & Contrast : Biggest Complaints
Below are not major disappointments but nevertheless still a complaint.
Most of my complaints, big or small are with the characterisation of this series, compared and contrasted with the movie version. But before I proceed, perhaps I should talk a bit about which version is better, since I am sure you're asking yourself that too.
Is One Better Than The Other?
Many have said, mostly in Taiwanese series forums and even in short articles introducing this series said the series is better than the movie, that it has more to offer to the viewers, every aspect is better. The fact that the movie made such a huge impact worldwide must mean something; either the gwailos have no taste or Ang Lee did such a marvelous job. I would say "which aspect you're talking about?". Same with this series.
My family is a huge fan of Ang Lee's version. I wrote a review about it in Movie Database, acknowledging Ang Lee's greatness in certain aspects but dissing him in his casting decisions, THAT Kung Fu scene and the flow of the story. I am not exactly a fan but I will acknowledge a good movie/series when I see one.
This series is a good series, in fact the best Taiwanese costume drama that I have seen, in many many aspects. Amongst all Taiwanese series, there is no denying that this series will be the standard for future costume kung fu dramas must follow and it has set a pretty high standard, with its nice blend of kung fu, love and drama. Just look at other Taiwanese series and you'll know why I give this series such a high praise, though I have yet to watch Fei Lung Zai Tian. But compared to the movie version, it is a series that makes me into a schizophrenic; I love it and yet I hate it. It's a love and hate relationship.
When I wanted to record this series (because everybody else in my family wanted to watch ATE II), and watch it later in the night, the first reaction I got was "Oh no....not again!!!". Can't blame them. Because when I saw Li Mu Bai so young I was laughing and complaining myself. But after a while their reaction got to me big time. What was wrong with me watching this series? They made me feel guilty for even liking it, more so me hoping the next episode will come quickly. I was chasing this series every night, and I have never done that with Taiwanese series. So what I could deduce from all this "Oh no not again" reactions is that:-
1) people are prejudiced against Taiwanese series. They think CTHD is about love tears screams but it has more to offer than any typical Taiwanese series.
2) fans of TVB, fans of junk Hollywood movies, fans of same old Japanese series but never a fan of Taiwanese series for one simple reason; they never watched one in its entirety.
3) They loved CTHD the movie and so any other versions is just a joke and a poor man's CTHD.
4) They do not know nor give a damn as to who is Qiu Xinzhi, Huang Yi and gang, which is quite unfortunate because there's more to Taiwanese and HK artists other than TVB's artists and Chow Yun Fatt.
My point is, when people give you that reaction, just tell them that it's their loss and keep watching. Because in the end it's their loss and your gain as you will be entertained.
But is their reaction of "Oh No not again" justified? Depends and I must conclude, perhaps, if you look at characterisation wise of certain characters and the flow of the story, which I shall discuss one by one. I will not conclude my comparison until I am finished with the comparisons of the characters, to better justify my conclusion.
Yu Jiao Lung
Many said the series was far more superior in its storyline, than the movie. Apart from Love relationships and the story of Li Mu Bai, I totally disagree with this statement. The movie is rich in its story. Ignore the desert romps and the character of Xiao Hu in there and just concentrate on Xiu Lian, Mu Bai and Jiao Lung. I find the character of Jiao Lung the most complicated of all. From why she stole the sword to why she rode after Xiao Hu to why she killed herself. The series hits two out of 3 but for very different reasons.
In the series, she is playful, emotional, spoilt and unreasonable. And all these she very openly show them, and never cared for consequences until and unless her father is affected. In a way her flaw is she is too playful. The series start with Master Kao who kept reminding us that she is a good girl and she needs to be controlled if not she will be a menace to the kung fu world. Funny thing was all this girl needs is a good spanking and a man to control her. That she has Xiao Hu. I do not see her as a menace but rather a pest. I believe somewhere this description was lost as this series moved deeper towards the focus on the relationships rather than individual, though all characters were well developed.
In the movie, she is very very different. In the public's eyes, she is beautiful, educated, poised, sophisticated and truly a Governor's daughter. So it is logical if no one suspected of her knowing any Kung Fu. She cared little for her parents who were cold and manipulative (and rarely seen) and she fell for Xiao Hu because he could control her. But you would know that somewhere in hidden in this girl's life that is completely filled with rules etiquettes and social status is a girl wanting to break free, wanting a life that Yu Xiu Lian has. That is why when she first met Yu Xiu Lian, already a famous dispatch woman she was in awe of Xiu Lian because Xiu Lian has complete freedom to travel and see the world. What Jiao Lung didn't know was Xiu Lian was physically free but she herself used the code of honour to bind her own heart. When Jiao Lung asked her for advise, Xiu Lian was the first to say, rather naively that Jiao lung should discuss with her parents. Jiao Lung can't reason with her parents. At last when Mu Bai died and Xiu Lian realised how many years she has wasted waiting and not acting on many missed chances, She told Jiao Lung to run away with Xiao Hu. Jiao Lung did but she knew she can never escape her parents. Remember the first time she ran after Xiao Hu for the comb? it shows how relentless and stubborn she is. One comb and she rode all the way to get it back, meaning she is a very free spirited woman trapped in a wrong world. The desert is big but her father's men were close to finding her and fearing for the safety of his men, Xiao Hu told her to go home. And she did. Now the second time she ran away, she can't escape because now she has her father's men and her husband's men looking for her. So in away she was desperately clinging to the tale that Xiao Hu once told her; make a wish, jump off the cliff and you might live to fulfill that wish. She simply had to die.
In the series even if Jiao Lung dies it woudn't create such an impact that the movie version has. There are so many layers to the character of Yu Jiao Lung, I must admit the arrogant Zhang Ziyi tried her best to portray all of them but I personally thought she was inadequate for such a role of such magnitude. The series had none of these layers and in the end, Jiao Lung comes off as just one immature, playful, spoilt and juvenile brat. The movie's version contains a much more malicious Jiao Lung because it has one character that the series has but is not the same...
The Jade Fox
In the movie we all know that Jiao Lung grew up being taken care of by her nanny/governess the Jade Fox in hiding. From the age of 8 Jade Fox asked her to translate the text of the stolen Wu Dang Kung Fu into pictures, because the mad kung fu enthusiast Jade Fox, logically can't read and Jiao Lung naturally could. Along the way Jiao Lung learned the right Kung Fu but from the wrong person. With such a kung fu skill, she could have made good use of it but she didn't. Mu Bai naively thought she could go back to Wu Dang with him but clearly she can't. Imagine an evil person like Jade Fox, what sort of an influence she could have on a young girl like Jiao Lung? Jade Fox is a very intriguing character played magnificently by Cheng Pei Pei. When the movie opens, we see a very cold Jiao Lung whenever she talks to her governess. We would wonder why and at the end we know. Jiao Lung knew deep down this woman is horribly wrong, something weird and her heart is not pure. In a way that is one redeeming quality that Mu Bai saw in Jiao Lung which made him say she could still be taught towards the path of righteousness. But she cared deeply for Jade Fox who was like a mother to her since she taught her many things, but Jade Fox hated her when she realised Jiao Lung did not translate the one last kung fu move which is why Jiao Lung is more powerful than Jade Fox. In one of the best scenes in the movie, Jade Fox was fighting like a mad woman. I have heard and seen a lot of those scenes where people go mad learning some kung fu but Cheng Pei Pei's interpretation of the mad Jade Fox was the first that I have seen; her kung fu was so forceful, so merciless and everytime she fought, her hair flew everywhere and you could hear sounds like "ohhhh...ooohhh..aahhhh..urrrghhh...hahhhhhh", which shows how much force she is using. I love the Jade Fox and when she tried to kill Jiao Lung but got Mu Bai instead and she was subsequently killed by Xiu Lian, in her dying moment she loved and hated Jiao Lung. Jiao Lung even cried even when she knew the target was her and not Mu Bai. This is a very disturbing character and is of dangerous influence on the character of Jiao Lung.
The series had none of the above complexities.
I find this character the most disappointing of all.
In the series we have a Jade Fox who became the wife of Master Kao and when her husband supposedly died, she lived with Jiao Lung. The writers even tried to make her in to some sort of a comic relief, like she is cute for her little misadventures with Jiao lung and I find all that annoying and the worst characterisation ever for a series, having seen the movie. And it was made worse when the actress had red lip gloss on and her hair is so young in its hair style. The deeper meanings and the wonderful complexities that made Jade Fox such a fun to watch and such a terror to behold was lost. If this Jade Fox tries to even influence Jiao Lung I won't buy it because there is no foundation to their relationship. In the end I find the series' Jade fox materialistic and harmless. Doesn't behave nor act like the purportedly evil and black hearted Jade Fox.
Mr and Mrs Yu
In the movie we rarely see the parents of Jiao Lung. And when they appeared, the mother is either so cold looking or emotionless. There are no mother-daughter banter and it was logical. The father was alwasy seen examining the sword with the Prince Tie, and never banter with the daughter. Perhaps he has more wives than just one so he coudn't have felt anything for Jiao lung, more so accept Xiao Hu as his son in law. We rarely see him talk, but through other' actions, we know the father is using his daughter as a pawn in his political advancement,by marrying her off to an even more important and powerful family. That was why he was relentless in searching for her the first time, and the second time, if there were a sequal, I am sure the father who would felt he was humiliated by his daughter's disappearance would have killed her himself. That is the harsh reality of those times and I find the movie version richer in that sense.
In the series, Mr and Mrs Yu are more accessible and more humanised. We see parents-child interaction and more importantly, we are told of Mr Yu's poor background. We get to see him interact with Xiao Hu (something that never happened on the movie and will never happen) and treating him like a son. We see genuine concern from him for Jiao Lung and Xiao Hu's well being. It could be a good thing if I hadn't seen the movie because though they were rarely seen, we know in the movie Jiao Lung feared her parents, especially her father. The series Mr Yu looked pathetic and being too humanised, he doesn't have that look for such an important position as the Governor of 9 provinces. He agreed to the marriage of his daughter and Jun Pei in what seems like a gesture out of fatherly love, like he wanted the best for her and in fact he even indicated that Xiao Hu could be his son in law. Being so humanised somehow the effect is lost. I don't like the series' version of a concerned father and a loving mother and I see it was a flaw because it doesn't fit into the schemes of things. Which I guess it is why it is more appropriate to make Jiao Lung into a loud, spoilt brat because it is easier to justify the parents' concern and love for her.
The Fiancee of Jiao Lung
In the movie, we never see the fiancee but we know he is from a powerful and influential family, if not why Mr Yu was so frantic? Again, the whole deeper meaning thing was lost in the transition to the small screen. It is possible to not appear and yet everybody could feel your influence in their actions. The movie was very successful in that.
In the movie I think we only get to see him once in a far shot, so he was a presence felt but not seen nor heard. In the series we have a fat stupid Jun Pei whose position in the government service is an honourable librarian of some sort. not very powerful which is strange because I got the impression the father might want this marriage as a merger of two powerful families. But in the end it isn't. One look at this fiancee I myself would want Xiao Hu.
my question is why must they find such an actor to play this role? Can't he be handsome, tall, powerful, rich to give some competition to Xiao Hu and to provide for more suspense in the story? I especially felt those scenes where he chased after Jiao Lung and Jiao Lung running everywhere as a complete waste to time to watch. This could have been an interesting character but the writers preferred to stereotype it and give many more justification why Xiao Hu should be accepted or why Jiao lung should admire Mu Bai. If only they show her engaged to a very conniving character, that would spice things up.
The Fiancee of Xiu Lian
In the movie all we knew was he died saving Mu Bai and this was why that pair of lovers took forever to confess their love for one another. In the series he was given a face, an identity, a past and a whole lot more of things to do. I'd just wish they gave him a personality.
Tie Xiao Bei Le (Prince Tie)
Some wrote his name as Prince Tai. This is also one character with a drastic change from the movie version. in the movie he was indeed a long time friend of Li Mu Bai and Governor Yu. Li Mu Bai gave him the sword (which belonged to Mu Bai and not the Wu Dang clan) as a gesture of a gift and also to signal the end of his career in kung fu politics. The Prince in the movie was friendly, and he was the one who told Mu Bai (or was it Xiu Lian?) that he thought they were together and even advised them to be together and forget about the past.
The Prince in the series was the direct opposite of the Movie's Prince.This is probably the only change that I welcome, because being a TV series, we have got to have a villain to curse at, and having 100% love love love will not be too fruitful. Look at what it did to Princess Huai Yu.
Liu Tai Bao & Chai Xiang Mei
I believe these two characters were in the movie but had little to do. Like in this series. But in the book, i was told that the character of the Marshall was the guy who narrated the story. I think he was Liu Tai Bao though I am not so sure.
The Storyline and it's structure
First of all, the movie did not have plots about treasure, rebel gangs, etc.
Was the movie that boring that some blatantly said "It was soooooooooooo boring?".
I will say no.
The movie is confusing, complex, dark, slow moving, snail paced, disappointing, laughable but not boring. I have made enough of comparisons that I am sure you will realise the characters in the movie version are more complex and more layered, emotionally and characterisation wise. The series aimed to be as such but fails at some point because it simplifies the characters, put in a whole lot more of characters and situations to make it look complicated but in the end, it does not have those conflicting emotions or suppressed emotions that we see and feel so much from the movie. Both versions basically have the same outline or structure but in the end, they're as different as day and night because of the emphasis. I have mentioned in my CTHD Movie review in Movie Database that I didn't enjoy it as much as I should because it was a confusing watch. One thing that can be said about the movie's story structure is perhaps there were at most 5 characters that were seen but there were many others unseen but bore a heavy influence on the outcome of the movie. The series simplified that by giving your the characters in flesh, to let you see them smile, see them cry, in a way humanise them so that you can see them and then perhaps feel their presence. But that is what makes the movie so very deep and so bloody good. Ang Lee didn't really need to draw until the intestines and yet we can "see" every part of the other characters by feeling their presence. We can understand why Jiao Lung jumped (if you don't, I have tried to explain it from my point of view in Movie Database) or why Mu Bai and Xiu Lian were so tortured and so torn and yet so in love but we never see the characters of the fiancees, or even get to know the fathers, mothers or even see affectionate moments or interactions between these unseen and seen characters.
What makes the series so enjoyable is undeniably the main casts, all very young, energetic. The movie looks tired, weary but that is because it is supposed to be as such. The series' plus point is its simplicity in the whole matter, stripping away the hidden layers and adopting the "what you see is what you get" method of storyline. Those that felt the movie was inadequate in this aspect would agree that this series is more than adequate in this aspect. I enjoyed the series because it is an entertaining series with a believable storyline. The movie was a difficult watch at first because many tried to promote it as a Kung Fu movie and may were disappointed by the lack lustre Kung Fu though many admitted the brilliance and gracefulness of Michelle Yeoh's kung fu scenes. In my Movie review, I said the movie is more of a love story, and yet that is not quite so accurate. The series is a love story. Period. Anything else are just dramas and ways to make things difficult for our two pairs of lovers to be with each other. Everything revolved around the love they feel for one another. Which is why I said it is in the end a typical Taiwanese love story but on a higher standard of filmmaking.
The series is also too ambitious, trying to be political and yet trying to be a story about love, friendship and loyalty all at the same time. Only a good writer and an even better director could balance all that but this is not this series. Often I find myself lost in the flow of the story because there are quite a number of inconsistencies when it comes to the political aspect of it. The ending is not what many expected. I for one expected Mu Bai to die but he didn't. I was told in the book Xiu Lian dies but she didn't. I was waiting to see Jiao Lung die, but she obviously couldn't. So in the end the series try to make the whole series into a poignant tale and a bit more elusive, a bit unexpected, a bit not so typical by giving us a hand type of ending. But that was only to compensate for the fact that Jiao Lung was supposed to die but she didn't, Mu Bai was supposed to die but he didn't. They were trying to be different from the movie and the truth is both versions are as different as night and day. Different focus, different emphasis. mentioned below that this series is also very ambitious, trying to squeeze so much into such a short time frame. Even at its most ambitious moment it is still lacking in the depths that the movies has.
You can accuse the movie of many things, but you must admit it is not a movie you can understand at first watch. For example, a friend of mine asked me; "Eh, who did Chow Yun Fatt loved ah? Michelle Yeoh or that Zhang Ziyi?". Clearly she wasn't paying much attention. Perhaps people expected such storylines but the movie isn't about that. It's more about human emotions more than human actions, something that I did not see when I first watched it.
I admit, I was very disappointed when I first watched the movie but on second viewing, I tried to ignore Chow Yun Fatt and put aside my dislike for Zhang Ziyi and snored through the desert scenes and I discovered that the movie had much to offer, philosophically. I loved the character of Jade Fox and the interaction between Jade Fox and Jiao Lung for many reasons. Perhaps if you didn't like it when you first watch it, try watching it alone, and try to concentrate on the flow of the storyline, skip those boring desert scenes and ignore the Kung fus and look at it as Ang Lee's trademark movie; suppressed emotions and the domino effect of it.
The series had the tagline that is the same as the movie as I read the intro in my ASTRO subscription book. It is about 2 women, one who abandon it all to follow her heart's desire and another bound buy her honour. Not quite accurate because I see the series as the story of Li Mu Bai and his experiences towards the path of wisdom. The series concentrated on him. That tagline belongs to the movie and Li Mu Bai in there is just a catalyst for Xiu Lian's future actions. The movie was mainly about Yu Jiao Lung.
My point is you can't compare both of them because they emphasised on different elements. To blatantly say the series is so much better than the movie means only one thing; we are so tuned in to stories that show us everything we are no longer able to appreciate stories that tells little but means much more. Perhaps we weren't concentrating, or we expected something else. Try watching the movie 5 years down the road and it will look different to you. Looking at the viewpoint of the effectiveness of the storyline and shock value, I would conclude that the movie is much much more deeper and much more satisfying than the series, though I am hardly a fan of art-ty movies. But Ang Lee's best movie isn't CTHD and CTHD should not have been the movie that introduces Chinese martial arts kung fu movies to the foreigners, but it should have been the showcase of the brilliance of story telling by a gifted Asian Director with 100% Asian actors.
But looking at the crowd pleasing aspect, the series is definitely a cut above the movie and as I have said above, this series is better than all previous Taiwanese costume dramas but it is not a cut above the movie.
I have this feeling that the series followed the book more than the movie did though in the end not one of our 4 leads dies.
In my conclusion, I feel that the series is an entertaining series whilst the movie is a thought provoking movie. And I myself believe that the series is in a way a prequel to CTHD the movie when it comes to Li Mu Bai's story, and for that alone I feel this series is new and interesting enough to watch. And I maintain my verdict below, however much I have said about the series being a bit too simple, because I was truly entertained.
Performances Reviewed & Rated
I am sure by now you would have guessed who is under which heading. But let me warn you; this is a series with good performances but many were really bad, and below are my biased comments on the ratings. Yes, BIASED. Because you might feel otherwise and being way too paranoid after getting my share of hate mails screaming at me for insulting their idols and I myself was insulted in the letters, I have to be extra careful, if not the next time when I walk and fall down, I would know it's because of your "I hate you Funn, you hurt my feelings Funn...". Anyway, I have a feeling you will not disagree with me since your 4 major actors and actresses will not be criticised, well, not that much anyway. Anyway, I'll only be talking about the major characters.
Zheng Chen Guang: If his voice were used I am sure I'll give more praises for him. This man, as I have written in my co-stars comment in my MAIN Yue Ling page can play all roles decently, except comedies. He is especially good when he is required to play a character of many layers. Peel one layer away and still there are many more. I am not his fan, nor do I look forward to his series but it is quite a pleasant experience to watch him act, with or without his voice. I was surprised to see him here since I didn't know he would be in here. However mean or evil his character may be, he often brings and inputs a certain integrity and honour into all his characters. It's just the quality that this actor has, and his best moments are often when he sits quietly contemplating things or when he is discussing something with a person. He shares great chemistry with the younger Qiu Xin Zhi and his Prince, though not evil enough was nonetheless a very interesting character to watch; devious, shadowy, dangerous. It just shows that you don't need an over emotional actor nor an outright screaming actor to portray a character of great danger to many; Zheng Chen Guang could simply just stand there and just speak his lines and he is the character. Pity though this series was dubbed, so we can't see the full effect of his Tei Xiao Bei Le.
Shui Ling : I didn't like Yu Jiao Lung and I feel, as I have adequately explained above that her character is all wrong, and incompatible to the feel of the whole theme of the series. Even the slogan for the series was wrong. I didn't like how her voiceover screams her lines, and I didn't like the first few episodes where she is so good at staring at someone. In fact I do not like her character at all. I do think she is too old to play Jiao Lung because they found a too young Xiu Lian. But it is undeniable that this older actress was much more expressive. It helps to have a role that demands for her to be extra expressive and so her Jiao Lung was never understated in her expressions. It could be a bad thing but I have seen this actress in another series where she acted demure and ladylike. I thought what a transformation, because her Jiao Lung is a terror. Expressions and performance alone, I would say she is a cut above the rest of whoever I have listed below but she is not the best because of the flaws in the characterisation of her role. Perhaps if she had followed Zhang Ziyi's interpretation she could be more of the Jiao Lung I expected but nonetheless, she did a very good job in being the spoilt brat. Even if I didn't like that brat one bit. The only falw was when she lost her memory. There she was very inconsistent.
Wu Li : who plays the mad woman, He Qian He. She is quite ok, especially when the camera zooms onto her face really close she does look scary. But the problem wth her is actually her make up.Don't you think her dresses are a bit too bright for someone so consumed with hate and so evil? Isn't her mascara a bit too much? Her hair a bit too nicely tousled, more so when her husband was murdered (in her eyes) and she so wants to kill Xiu Lian, so much so that she has time to apply make-ups? And aren't her dresses a bit too silly, especially the one with leaves on her? But the actress was ok in her performance. Especially when she licked the blood off her twin hook blades. Her voiceover was ok.
Chen Chang Hai : who plays Yu Rui, Governor Yu. He is ok though his character is very very wrong, in my eyes. Something not quite right to humanise this character as I have said above. But the actor did a respectable job.
Jiang Li Li : The woman who plays Mrs Yu. Ok though I can't quite understand what she wants. Like I've said above. A respectable performance but her voiceover was really really bad.
Zhang Pei Hua: He plays Master Kao. He has this rather dignified face though this is also the very same face that can play villains. A very good performances.
Chen Sha Sha : She plays Xie Xian Niang. I would call her the prostitute but many simply refused to acknowledge her existence. They hated her.Anyway, I feel this is quite a good character but they found a very undesirable actress. She is not pretty enough and may I be permitted to say I hate the way her mouth looks. Personal attacks aside, her performance lacks lustre. If she feels bad for what Mung did to Xiu Lian, she didn't show enough. If she was crazy about Mu Bai, her eyes showed very little of that certain feeling for Mu Bai. In the end her performance was quite amateurish, though I do like her character which I would say a very misunderstood character. However one scene she did quite well was when she died.
Tang Li Hua : who plays the Jade Fox. First of all she had quite a shoe to fill. Cheng Pei Pei was the best in CTHD the movie but then she really had no shoes to fill since her character, though Jade Fox in name looks and behaves more like a materialistic limp fox. She comes of as shallow, and I don't exactly see her as menacing, bad , mad or even manipulative. Just one greedy woman. I blame it on the character and this actress' performances. Very lack lustre.
Lu Han Bin : who plays Jun Pei. First of all the actor had quite a boring and bland character to play and it didn't help when he made his character seemed like a big fat stupid fool which is very derogatory in my opinion. His Jun Pei was an ok guy, and supposed to be very good in calligraphy. Unfortunately having him walk around with a handkerchief 100% of the time did not really make me see this character as someone smart. What makes me the more angrier apart from the stereotypical role of a fiancee is that his voiceover sounded equally as dumb and "duh". So perhaps it wasn't the actor's fault but it does affect his performance, or you might say limit it to a certain extent.
Tong An Ge : He plays Mung the fiancee. He is supposed to be one hero rebel in the hiding, which explains for his reluctance to be in the limelight and why he discouraged Xiu Lian from being in the limelight. But the actor looked like he was in pain or reluctant pain all the time. Though he is supposed to look like someone who you never expect nor suspect to be in a rebel gang but there must be some honourable streak in him. In this actor, based solely on looks I saw nothing. Based solely on performances, I felt nothing. Based on both looks and performance, he was too old for this role. In the end this is one lack lustre performance for quite a potentially interesting character.
Peter Ho : Peter Ho who plays...well you know who he is. He is still raw but he seems very excited, like he is thrilled to be in this role. A very energetic performance but he is not very good in more dramatic scene. But his Xiao Hu is likeable, albeit rash and doesn't think before he acts, and a bit rowdy, and totally unbelievable with his clumsy dresses, as I have commented above . His worst moments were the last few episodes. That is why his name is in here. Overacting and too emotional. You could say Xiao Hu is a very emotional man but NOT THAT EMOTIONAL.
Huang Yi : Her Xiu Lian is in my opinion is very interesting to watch in here though I must admit, her performance is still raw and quite limited in her expressions. Probably because Xiu Lian is supposed to be a very serious and well grounded woman. Her worst moments had to be when she cries and her best would be when she fights (very convincing), she stares with hatred and when she is with Qiu Xin Zhi's Mu Bai. Her eyes speaks volumes, especially the way her Xiu Lian looks at Mu Bai but her expressions didn't say much. At times she made Xiu Lian seem girlish and immature , not like the independent Xiu Lian we saw in the movie. But yet she was appropriately girlish when with Qiu Xin Zhi's Mu Bai because after all, Xiu Lian is 18 and is crazily in love with Mu Bai. Maybe that is the problem; they simply made Xiu Lian too young that it was unbelievable to believe she was supposed to be older, wiser, and much more grounded than Jiao Lung. Being someone so very young (22 only) in a way hampers her performance because she didn't have the maturity nor the experience to play the mature Xiu Lian.But she is a talent to look out for because she though didn't do well in her performance, she certainly made the best with what she had and came out with a respectable but yet inadequate performance. Plenty of room for improvement though and I shall look forward to her future series and watch how she progresses. And I must admit; she is very pretty with a very kind looking face. She also projects elegance and sophistication, all in her face a face that the longer you look the prettier she becomes. But admittedly, she is not drop dead gorgeous.
The actor that plays Li Tai Bao. Can't stand him, and he looks way too painful, and his voiceover didn't do that well a job either. i had to cover my ears everytime he speaks and the most painful moments were 2 episodes dedicated to Mu Bai investigating the whereabouts of the lost sword, because he was in all the scenes. Talk about overacting, his character had almost a animated cartoon type of effect which was a thorn in this rather serious series. Please spare us the pain, why include such a useless, pointless and uninteresting character into an already over crowded series?
Most Excellent Performance
Qiu Xin Zhi : I am sure by now you know whose name will be in here. If Zhen Zhu Cai Yi made him noticeable, this series will make him a star. Very rare to have a combination of a good character and a good actor giving a great performance. This is the series that I guess people will forever remember Qiu Xin Zhi in, and I believe this series is such a success because of many factors, and he is the main factor. His expressions seem wooden at times but that was because our Li Mu Bai could be a log of wood sometimes. I have made some really frank comments of him in my ZZCY review and also my comment on him in my Yue Ling MAIN Co-Star page, where I have included many other things. I think he deserves a site of his own and thus I'll be moving all my comments on him into my site called ALL ABOUT QIU XINZHI . The thing about his performance is the details. He is the direct opposite of Peter Ho and Shui Ling's interpretation of their respective roles, almost a Huang Yi but better. Huang Yi can be accused of being wooden or tired at times but you can't say the same thing about this man because his acting isn't stiff or wooden. In fact it was rather energetic and almost seemed effortless. I beg you to notice the details when you watch this series. I must applaud this actor's attention to the minor characteristics of the character of Li Mu Bai and I believe he himself inputed quite a number of characterictics into the character. One of defining moments as to why I give him such a glowing review is this one scene; he was new in town, he just met Master Kao and he was having his first alcoholic drink. I noticed the way he held the bottle of wine, almost afraid to spill it, being extra careful when pouring. And when the series progresses on, the way he held the cup and pouring the wine was totally different. He poured it without much thought, and as such it indicates how long he has been there, and how an expert he is becoming. From unconfident to confident in such a minor way, only a talented actor could input such details into his role's characteristics and is able to magnify it for us to notice them. His best moments are often standing there, looking, pondering, wondering with not one word spoken. When he was slapped by Xiu Lian, his face was the usual but his eyes spoke of hurt, confusion. When Xiu Lian approaches, his eyes shines. It's all in the eyes. The way he so convincingly fought, his movements, he is one actor that can move gracefully though when he walk he seemed a bit too heavy. And one more thing that I like about him; he rarely moves his hands or head when he is talkng, so no irritating behaviour. Luckily he didn't have to cry in this series because he is not good with really emotional scene. He is not an emotional actor but he is those that excels by being understated in his emotional output.
I admit that I was furious when they found such a young Mu Bai in the same timeline with an equally young Jiao Lung. It didn't quite fit because I had the movie version in mind. But he was so good, and portrays the honourable and naive Mu Bai so well, it was quite an experience to watch it. I watched the first episode because I was curious how the story will be filmed, I was bored with all those TVB dramas, this series is very new and shown over TV for free (well, we do pay monthly subscription since it is a cable TV but I am not the one paying) and mainly because I have just finished Zhen Zhu Cai Yi so I was curious how Qiu Xin Zhi was in other series.
And for these reasons, I shall conclude watch this series for this man and believe me, you'll be a fan. If his performance didn't move you one bit, at least his cuteness will.
Zhen Zhu Cai Yi Vs CTHD : Which Of His Performance Was Better?
I think by the time my review is available for all to read, Qiu Xin Zhi would have completed 3 more new series, 50 more reviews of CTHD will be available for all to read and this series will be replaced with another new hit. And Zhen Zhu Cai Yi would have been old news.
The first ever review that is ever written for this CTHD series, (excluding all other summaries or short intros) is in SPCNET written by a TKL, someone who wrote something on Zheng Chen Guang in my Yue Ling site. I read with great interest on the plot summary which revealed the basics. But I am more concerned about his comments on the characters and performances, especially Li Mu Bai and Qiu Xin Zhi. I never planned to do a comparison between these two series and performances but at quick glance I sa the stars awarded for both series; to my surprise, CTHD is of half a star than ZZCY and Qiu Xin Zhi's Shou Shan was said to be a better performance as the acting required for Shou Shan is more than the ever calm Li Mu Bai. Reading those few paragraphs prompt me to write this paragraph and I apologise if TKL does not like this little exercise of mine; but I had to say something, I must.
Personally I think very little of ZZCY's storyline, but the performances were, I feel generally better than CTHD, because if I were to take also the ke-le-fes' performances, ZZCY will have the best overall performances. Story wise, ZZCY had quite a lot to say but CTHD had a whole lot more to tell, on a more deeper level. In both series you will feel for the characters, probably equally as much. Moreover I liked ZZCY because of the real voice thing, which CTHD disappointingly did not have.
But was Shou Shan a better character to portray than Li Mu Bai?
On paper, Shou Shan would seem like a very interesting character to portray. He would go from nice guy to devious guy to heart broken guy to a happy guy, all in the space of 41 episodes. The emotional range is so huge and wide, perhaps Qiu Xin Zhi did do a very good job in successfully portraying 4 out of 5 of these emotions. The one he did not do well were the crying scenes. It would take a schizophrenic to do so much in 41 episodes, considering the fact that every 5 episodes Shou Shan has a new facial expression.
Li Mu Bai on the other hand on paper seemed like a very boring character to portray. He doesn't cry, he doesn't scream; all he does is to stand and look heroic.
Perhaps the comments were justified.
But I find Li Mu Bai a much more spiritually deeper character and a much more difficult character to portray. Anybody else could have made him into a wimp but Qiu Xin Zhi injected just the right amount of integrity that makes Li Mu Bai heroic. He made him naive but like I said, there was a progression in the character. Naive to weary. It has to start somewhere, more so since Mu Bai grew up in the mountains. This will explain why Xiu Lian loves him so much; because this guy is a naturally and 100% bona fide good guy, a guy that everybody will care and will cheer for. CTHD is not a feel good series; it is rather a series about relationships, love or friendship. You might say, that by stripping all those love and ridiculous plot, CTHD is a series about human psyschology.
I always believed it is far more difficult to stand and act with a constantly same expression than to scream, kick and cry. The best moments in ZZCY in my humble opinion were always those quiet moments that Shou Shan would be placed in, contemplating. Which was rare. If you have been to my ZZCY site, and if you have been asking yourself why so few sceneshots of Shou Shan and that is because I had a hard time capturing those smiling or quiet moments. He was always crying, looking worried, looking painful. In fact his real name Yau Sam Chee suited him;his name could be "A Thorn In The Heart" or as my friend suggested this one; "Worrisome Heart". I find Shou Shan should be the character that introduce him but I hope he will not act in such a badly written character anymore (with severe inconsistencies), though I would love to see him in such a wide ranged character, emotionally.
In CTHD, his performance was almost flawless, though any fault would be the script. he made Li Mu Bai interesting by being naturally cute of course. But if you notice, after 10 or so episodes, he stopped being cute and he became rather serious. There are changes, and I believe the changes are more than Shou Shan in ZZCY but it was more subtle, because Li Mu Bai is a very subtle man. He doesn't do many things openly, and this series is made even more interesting by focusing on him. You cared for Shou Shan but after a while his crying and moaning and pining is really tiring and even boring and you would wish he would move on. Probably because we knew he will get Ming Zhu somehow.
In CTHD, you would also wish his character would move on, but at the same time you would care and love to see how he moves on. The art of watching this series is to concentrate on the character of Li Mu Bai and then look around of the effect he has on others, especially Yu Xiu Lian and the Prince.
If I must conclude with some certainty, I prefer subtle acting rather than bare it all acting. Because though Qiu Xin Zhi was good as Shou Shan, he was superb as Li Mu Bai as he was pigeonholed into a character that can't reveal much; and in the end he had to rely on his body language and his expressive and intense eyes. You just have to look and concentrate, which for girls won't be too hard but for guys...now that's a tricky part...
I'll elaborate much more in my comments on him in my site called ALL ABOUT QIU XINZHI.
Verdict..Recommendation ..Extra Comments
No need to buy the song but do take your time to download the song by Eric Moo.
I admit, I watched this series for the reasons I have stated above and more. I could be quite malicious when it comes to Taiwanese series. The last I watched was Zhen Zhu Cai Yi and I didn't exactly praised it. I could take each element out and write a thesis on why Zhen Zhu Cai Yi screwed up big time. If I want to I could do the same to even a good series like Huan Zhu Ge Ge part I because every Taiwanese series has major faults. I always write a better review when I could be mean and sarcastic and taiwanese series brings out the best in me.
But not this series though it is far from perfect.
The problem of this series is basically two fold.
First problem; Strip away all those kung fus and mumbo jumbo about suppressed emotions, it is stilll your typical Taiwanese drama BUT on a higher and more superior standard. In a way it is far more stylishly made than Princess Huai Yu and even HZGG. I am a bit surprised with the presentation of this series as you can see quality writen all over it, which is very rare for Taiwanese series which is so used to love love love in the most ridiculous fashion, Zhen Zhu Cai Yi and QSSYMM included.Most Taiwanese series are quite juvenile in its approach but surprisingly, the relationships in this series was approached in a rather mature and stylish way. There seem to be a vision in this series, a certain aim and that aim/vision isn't childish. Which is why it is of a higher standard than the rest.
The second problem with this series is the fact that the movie came out first. Of course the series was made because of the movie. And it was done quite fast and I was surprised when the movie was announced as a worldwide hit out pops the series. But not much promotion was given to the series, the fact that I heard about it in forums and not some entertainment news. I still have plenty to say about this series mainly because I saw the movie and I was always reminded of the movie when I watched the series. What the movie doesn't have you have it here but what this series doesn't have, the movie has much more. Maybe it is unfair to compare them since I have done enough above. My verdict is simple. I can't be sarcastic in this review and I can't write like I really hated it because I don't. I loved it. I even recorded it everynight, so as not to miss a single episode. I have never chase for the episodes of a Taiwanese series but this one was an exception. I waited eagerly each night to watch the recorded taped. In fact this is the BEST Taiwanese costume drama I have ever seen, in fact the best amongst all costumes dramas, of whatever country it may be from because I fell completely head over heels for its charm and of course it casts. It boasts of really good performances by some, excellent kung fu, breathlessly beautiful sceneries, beautiful leads, handsome heroes, what more is stopping you from watching this series? this series isn't just pretty good, it is very very good, if you disregard a whole chunk of irrelevant stuff. I had to close one eye when I wrote this review as I have said, for the opening scene alone, I can forgive any glaring inadequacies that this series may have. If not I wouldn't be able to praise it, because story wise and characterisation wise for some characters plus the flow of the story is still the typical Taiwanese drama series, which means a lot of frivolous and unnecessary stuff meant to perhaps to make this series richer, fuller. Perhaps they thought the more characters would mean a complicated plot which would mean a different series but the fact it is is only more confusing.
Confession time. I simply adore Qiu Xinzhi in here. Enough for me to swear that I'll build a site for this guy. So the real reason why I watched this series was at first trying to be mean, wanting to criticise it before I watched it, then it became such that I was interested in the storyline but in the end, it was because of Qiu Xinzhi. In the end, I see it as the best Taiwnase series I have seen thus far. And so I humbly ask you to take my advise.
Watch this series as if the movie never existed and expect to be entertained. You'll love this series for, like I said in my comments somewhere before, it's simplicity. However if you adored the movie or if you're a working professional, or a mature person, you might find this series juvenile and a poor man's CTHD.
I haven't watch Fei Lung Zai Tian so which is the better series is still an open race.
Interesting ... Facts...Fictions..Downloads...Sites..Reviews
This series was one of the biggest hits in Taiwan winning top ratings BUT still lost to a modern day cop drama.
Qiu Xinzhi is a very very busy man nowadays. He is fully booked as an actor even until the end of this years and guess what was his reaction? He was laughing like he should be. For more on this news, go to my ALL ABOUT QIU XINZHI under news. By the way very rare do I see a piece of news on him. But I do know he broke up with his GF and who is the GF? I don't know. And that he flirted with his co-star in his new series. I think the girl is Hsu Lu, the same girl in QSSYMM playing Ke Yun.
I thought he looked familiar and thank you to Jade*H for confirming this. That guy who plays Master Kao, Zhang Pei Hua, he is the very same guy who was often partnered with Liu Xue Hua in those Qiong Yau series, for example Xue Ker (the one with the ever cute Jin Ming and over emotional Ma Jing Tao) and the one about 3 sisters where Liu Xue Hua killed herself (I think). Looks older now but still has that face. Ahhhhh..how time flies eh?
In the book, there was a prostitute who became involved with Li Mu Bai. Xiu Lian died of some disease in the book. Jiao Lung did jump at the end of the book but instead of dying, she survived and even had a child with Xiao Hu. Later she died tragically when Xiao Hu disappeared into the desert for reasons unknown to me. There were other characters but I do not know the timeline. The story continued with Jiao Lung and Xiao Hu's child. I was told out of the 5 books, only one book had a happy ending.
Interesting Sites / For More Info
Seagull did some profile pages for Huang Yi, Shui Ling and Qiu Xinzhi under her Starz Galore, whilst a long long time ago I have written some really long comments on these three people. But my sites are under renovation so to speak and coming soon will be my All About Qiu Xinzhi. For his links you can go to my site on him, or to Seagull's site. But if you know how detailed my links are for Yue Ling, you should come by to my site because I plan to list all the links that I can find out there for this man.
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