Saturday, 26 March 2016

LOCH 1983 episode guides (eps 50-59) and final impression

The followings are the episode guides of the last 10 episodes of LOCH 1983. More screen caps will be posted later (still haven't really gotten over Yang Kang's death...).

The Quanzhen Sect's Tiangang Beidou Formation Ep 50

Ep 50: Wong Yung kidnapped First Freak Master Ke to ask him about the Peach Blossom Island massacre. GJ intervened, and Master Ke hit WY instead, and she was imprisoned. GJ asked Hong Qigong and Old Imp’s help to release WY; she was released. The three of them then went to the inn where Huang Yaoshi and Quanzhen Sect were about to have their duel (must be an expensive venue...). Master Ke and GJ also went to the same inn to side with Quanzhen. Yet, across that inn, we saw Wanyan Honglie and Ouyang Feng observing the inn.

Apparently, the Peach Blossom massacre had Wanyan Honglie et al’s fingerprints on it. Ouyang Feng wanted wuxia supremation, hence if Huang Yaoshi and Quanzhen were at loggerheads, then Ouyang would be the supreme master.  Plus YK knew the Baigu claw, hence we know that he was behind this too, that bastard!  Based on Ouyang Feng’s instruction, YK had stationed lanterns with poisonous gas outside the inn as another layer of trap.

The Quanzhen Masters preparing their fight, Ep 50
On the 15th of August, the fight between Quanzhen Sect and Huang Yaoshi broke. The fight was beautifully choreographed. Total non CGI, pure clean fight. GOLD. No – Platinum. The kind of fight that makes me root for the old 80s series. It was so pleasant to see Master Ma Yu (Cheung Ying-choi) leading the whole  Quanzhen, but Huang Yaoshi was totally amazing as well. Guo Jing then assisted Quanzhen, so that it was a more even fight. As Quanzhen and Huang Yaoshi were getting tired, Ouyang Feng suggested Wanyan Honglie and YK to release the arrows to shoot the Songs and also to release the poisonous gas inside the lanterns. All heroes jumped off the inn. Quanzhen ran away with Guo Jing while Huang Yaoshi and Hong Qigong fended off the toad Ouyang Feng. Wong Yung rescued Master Ke (first Freak).

Wong Yung fishing out the real story behind the Peach Blossom Island massacre, Ep 51

Ep 51: Wong Yung and Master Ke took refuge in a temple called Iron Spear Temple. Later, Wanyan Honglie et al (including Yang Kang) came to the temple as well to take a rest. WY hid Master Ke in the inner chamber and listened to the Jins’ conversations. She later chose to show herself despite Master Ke’s objection to fish out what actually happened in the Peach Blossom Island. WY realised that it was Nianci’s shoe that one of the Freaks took from YK. Thus, it was easy for her to deduct that Ouyang Feng and Yang Kang were behind the massacre. 

Wong Yung fishing out the real story from Idiot, Ep 51

WY had further assistance from the Idiot (who was taken from the island by YK) in reconstructing what exactly happened that day on the island. Apparently, Ouyang Feng wanted wulin supremacy whereas Yang Kang wanted Ouyang Feng’s assistance to defeat the Song and the Mongol. Thus, YK and Ouyang Feng had actually joined forces to murder the Freaks. Wong Yung didn’t stop there. She also dismantled Yang Kang’s lies about Ouyang Ke’s death. Ouyang Feng was furious that YK killed his nephew, but from Idiot he also then realised that YK killed Ouyang Ke because the latter tried to molest Nianci.

Yang Kang was accidentally poisoned by Ouyang Feng's snake poison, Ep 51

Furious because Wong Yung stripped him off his last defense and his ‘perfect’ plan, Yang Yang hit WY's back. However, he hit the Soft Hedgehog Vest instead. Unknown to any of them, the vest was poisoned because the Fourth Freak touched the vest with his poisonous hand (Fourth Freak was poisoned by Ouyang Feng’s snake, and the last few minutes of his life, he desperately tried to get the snake off his mouth – eewww!!). Hence, Yang Kang actually hit a poisonous vest, and got poisoned instead. Yang Kang’s face went pale as he realised the poison had no cure (or at least Ouyang Feng wouldn’t want to cure him). He begged for his minions and his dad to stay, but everyone ran away from him (tho to be fair, Wanyan Honglie screamed his son’s name as his cronies took him away from YK). The episode ended with Yang Kang collapsing at the entrance of the Iron Spear Temple.

Yang Kang was left all alone, Ep 51

Ep 52: I just finished crying. Yang Kang died...He died due to the poison... Nianci, I mean Sharon Yang, sang the Yang Kang/Nianci love theme song for him after he died. The kind Guo Jing dug his grave. They prayed. I cried. A bucket. Until I was too tired to cry. I hope I have the energy to revisit the scene for some screen captures, for Michael Miu portrayed him so well, too well...

By the way, this Yang Kang was so lucky in the TVB version for: a) Michael portrayed him, otherwise I might not have bothered crying; b) Guo Jing and Mu Nianci were with them. In the book, YK died lonely, even rejected by his foster dad Wanyan Honglie. In the 1983 TVB, Honglie actually cried when his men took him away from his son.

The kind Guo Jing trying to save Yang Kang, Ep 52

I also have to give credit to Felix Wong’s Guo Jing. Guo Jing was always a kind person anyway, but Felix truly portrayed a compassionate GJ here. After Master Ke informed him that Wong Yung was innocent and it was all YK’s fault (and YK was dead in the temple btw), GJ ran to the temple to see if he could rescue YK’s body before the crows eat the body. GJ found YK still breathing, so he channelled his qi to sustain YK. YK then said that he had no more hope, but he deserved it anyway for all the evil things he’d done. He just wished to be able to see Nianci again, but he didn’t know where she is, nor that she wanted to see him again.

Since GJ knew that Nianci was staying at the Heart Break Valley, he ran to fetch Nianci before YK died. Yang Kang being Yang Kang, he didn’t want Nianci sad, so he pretended that he was okay when Nianci arrived. Of course she was angry when YK was acting he was fine, so she ran back home. However, just outside the temple, she realised that he was just acting. She returned in tears, just as YK was answering GJ’s question on why he lied again to Nianci (“So that our last meeting wasn’t a sad one”, or something like that).

Yang Kang and Nianci then narrated all the what-ifs scenarios if he could live with Nianci (including being a good father who properly teaches their children good things – totally reducing me to tears). Nianci asked if YK would give up the wealth and power to be with her if he could survive this ordeal. In a totally tear-jerker moment, Yang Kang looked at her and softly said without hesitance, “I’d give up anything...”.  I was thus reduced to tears...

Yang Kang was too late to realise what true happiness is... (Ep 52)
...he was unfortunately too late... 

All this time, GJ silently stood by. After YK passed away, GJ dug a grave for his sworn brother, in tears. 

Guo Jing helping Nianci giving Yang Kang the final farewell (Ep 52)

Click this post for the screen caps of the scene where Yang Kang died after meeting Nianci...

Later, GJ had to leave Nianci alone in her house after she promised that she’d be okay. GJ then searched for Wong Yung for the whole semester, but couldn’t find her.

We then learned that Wanyan Honglie, the supreme bastard, was heart-broken when he eventually found out about Yang Kang’s death. He couldn’t even care less when the Mongols invaded the Jin Empire.

So, the Mongols invaded the Jins in March 1211, the following year they invaded Hebei. Then we found Guo Jing telling Zhou Botong that he’d been searching for Wong Yung for half a year. Thus, Yang Kang would have died around mid 1211 then...not that it matters (it does, to me...).

After six months captured by Ouyang Feng, Wong Yung were able to escape. She ran into a town where GJ and Old Imp were, but the guys didn’t see her. Instead, Ouyang Feng found her, yet again.

Ep 53: I brushed through the episode because Yang Kang had died... I know he was almost a total evil, but I also know that it was largely due to his upbringing, being brought up by a liar and a coward like Wanyan Honglie...

Anyway, the Mongols kicked out the Jins and invaded the Song Empire. Despite drowning in wine due to his sorrow, Wanyan Honglie was made the main Jurchen general (well at least he was genuinely sad about YK’s departure). Genghis Khan’s eldest son (First Prince) suggested that a defence wall is made to repel the Jurchens, so the Mongols forced the Songs to build the walls. Guo Jing asked Genghis Khan to spare the Songs, but refused. Later, Qiu Qianren tried to assassinate Genghis Khan, but GJ saved GK. Because of that, GK released the Song citizens. GJ returned to Mongolia to see Mrs Guo. Genghis Khan wanted GJ to marry Huazheng. Meanwhile, Wong Yung was able to escape from Ouyang Feng (again) by taking him to the Cloud Manor and trap him inside the Peach Blossom Formation.

Ep 54: GJ refused the marriage proposal from Genghis Khan for his daughter. GJ enlisted himself to help the Mongols fighting off Khwarezm Empire  and get Wanyan Honglie’s head. He was made a Nayan (General). Elder Lu Yaojiao from Kaypang enlisted his troops to side with the Mongols to fight off the Jins. With the help of the Kaypang elders, GJ read the Book of Wu Mu. But it seems someone was helping him secretly to interpret the book; possibly Wong Yung. The GK army had besieged Yanjing under Wanyan Honglie’s charge for a few months, but the city hasn’t fallen yet. Ouyang Feng came, telling GJ that WY had always been in the camp. GK wanted to have the New Year’s Eve at Yanjing that year.

Ep 55: After giving hints after hints (including a painting of herself through Elder Lu), Wong Yung finally showed herself in front of Guo Jing. 

The reasons she hid herself is because GJ promised Genghis Khan that if WY was still alive, he’d marry Huazheng (eh, why?? I didn’t catch this part, so I don’t know why GJ gave Huazheng such a promise) and if WY was dead, he’d remain single forever.  Later, as they tricked Ouyang Feng, WY realised that Ouyang Feng had unintentionally showed them how to breach Yanjing. Later, GJ used a large kite to fly over to enter the city. Genghis Khan’s army attacked from the outside, hence they overtook Yanjing.

Ep 56: The coward Wanyan Honglie ran away with two bundles of gold and jewelleries, but WYGJ and the Mongolian army found him. GJ finally killed Wanyan Honglie with the permission of Genghis Khan. Phew! No wonder Yang Kang turned evil; his foster dad was such a coward and a liar like Wanyan Honglie! Apparently, nurture is also very important in shaping up a person...

Later during a banquet, GK let his sons killed ordinary Jin citizens, which shocked Guo Jing. He used the gift that GK gave him (i.e., if one could penetrate the Yanjing walls, GK would give that person anything he wishes for) to ask Genghis Khan to release all Jin citizens. Although majorly livid, GK agreed. Because he’d spent his reward, GJ couldn’t ask GK to release him from his marriage to Huazheng. HZ then told GJ that she’d ask her father to release the marriage contract. GJ then said that he wished that WY was as kind as HZ. They hugged, WY saw them and got the wrong idea, and then ran away. GJ chased WY but they then attacked by Ouyang Feng who still wanted the Jiuyin Manual. WY fell into the cliff, GJ was captured by Ouyang Feng. Huazheng asked Dad Khan to release GJ from marriage, Dad refused. Mrs Guo asked Khan to search for GJ for he’d been missing, but Genghis Khan deducted that, since GJ and WY were missing anyway, the two of them must be running away together. Captured by Ouyang Feng, GJ secretly learned the Jiuyin Manual. Old Imp unexpectedly rescued GJ when he was chasing Qiu Qianren. Broken hearted thinking WY was dead, GJ returned to the Mongolian camp, had a row with Mum who still wanted him to marry HZ (cos he said they’re now happy now that Wong Yung was dead), then made peace with her. Then he made peace with Khan who was ill.

Ep 57: GJ invited Taoist Qiu to heal Genghis Khan. Yet, Taoist Qiu only imparted some words of wisdom from Tao Te Ching on the importance of peace within to one’s health. I do agree with it. Taoist Qiu then told GJ that Genghis Khan was not a truly good guy for en route to Mongolia, Taoist Qiu had seen the way the Mongolian army treated the innocents. Once he’s done with the Jurchens, he’d surely invade the Song. Genghis Khan later discussed the Da Liang invasion (that’s the last fort of the Jins apparently) with GJ and his sons. Genghis Khan also gave GJ and his two sons secret orders not to be opened before Da Liang was defeated. Mrs Guo got suspicious and opened the secret order for GJ. They found out that GK actually wanted to invade the Song after the Jurchen’s defeated. GJ and Mum ran away, but were captured by GK’s army.

Genghis Khan then interrogated Guo Jing, telling the Song warrior that he was a traitor. GJ shout back, asking why GK backed off on protecting the Song after they collaborated to attack the Jins. GK ordered GJ’s demise, but Tuloi, HZ et al begged for him. GK used Mrs Guo as a hostage to force GJ to side with the Mongols. To prevent GJ making the wrong decision, Mrs Guo killed herself. GJ was so angry, he left the camp without anyone disturbing him. After burying his mother, he later met Taoist Qiu and asked the Taoist why they bothered to train in martial arts if they couldn’t protect the innocents and the people they loved died as well. Taoist Qiu couldn’t answer that. But he managed to coax GJ to look for Hong Qigong to support the North Beggar to win the Huashan contest. En route, Taoist Qiu fought with Yang Kang’s old cronies (Yang Kaaaaang!!! I miss you!!!). GJ saw Ouyang Feng, followed him, and found Wong Yung alive, captured by Ouyang Feng.

Although Wong Yung still had a misunderstanding and a chasing scene with Guo Jing (in which she actually had time to change clothes, haha!), they finally made up.

By the way, according to history, Taoist Qiu actually was in a rather good term with Genghis Khan, such that the Tao was still practiced during the Yuan Dynasty. I mean in a good terms, in a good way, to protect the Song citizens.

Ep 58:  Wong Yung and Guo Jing met Southern Emperor, Old Imp and Yinggu, the latter wanted to kill Qiu Qianren. In a very soap opera scene, Qiu Qianren turned a new leaf after being lectured by Qigong. Seriously? He turned a new leaf just like that?? That scene is not even a tenth of Wanyan Honglie’s regret when he learned Yang Kang had died; don’t compare it with the scene that YK realised his demise and was about to die. Totally a wasted scene, this Qianren-turned-Buddhist scene! Nothing against someone turning a new leaf, be it into Buddhism, Taoism or other religions. But to me, it should be carried out convincingly, and this was just not it.

Anyway, later Wong Yung devised a plan to make GJ the top pugilist. In the pretext that North Beggar and East Heretic shouldn’t injure themselves, she made GJ fought East Heretic in 300 moves, and then GJ fought North Beggar in 300 moves as well. If the elders couldn’t defeat GJ in 300 moves, then GJ was the winner. But if one of the elders defeated GJ in fewer moves than the other, then that elder won. North Beggar and East Heretic couldn’t defeat GJ in 300 moves, hence GJ won. But then, none of them could defeat Ouyang Feng, for the latter had increased his prowess despite losing his mind for practicing Jiuyin Manual backwards (courtesy of WY’s tricks). Later, as WY, GJ and Huang Yaoshi were on their way to Peach Blossom Island, GJ received a visit from Huazheng. The Princess informed him that Genghis Khan was going to attack Xiangyang.

Ep 59: Huang Yaoshi instructed WYGJ to depart to Xiangyang to defend the city. En route, WYGJ saved Mu Nianci from being harassed by Elder Peng et al. Later, GJ named Nianci’s son Yang Guo, as in “to correct the wrong ways” of his father Yang Kang. 

As they left Nianci, Wong Yung commented that she felt that Yang Guo would grow up hating her. GJ dismissed that thought for it wasn’t WY’s fault that YK died.

Later, WYGJ helped defending Xiangyang despite the helpless situation there (incompetent leader and almost everyone running to save themselves). They even sneaked into the Mongolian camp to kill Tuloi. However, GJ changed his mind when he found out that Genghis Khan was ill. GK and GJ had a talk where GJ told GK how useless his ambitions were. 

Later, Genghis Khan died. Wong Yung and Guo Jing watched the aftermath of the Mongol and the Song battle. Saddened, they returned to the Peach Blossom Island, where no blood and anger await them. 

Final impression:

The LOCH 1983 series is good, and it kept me entertained. Barbara Yung certainly delivered as Wong Yung, although some LOCH novel readers said that the novel version of Wong Yung was not as ‘nasty’ as the 1983 Wong Yung. What I mean by nasty is, well, just like the first times she treated Mu Nianci and Hong Qigong. I haven’t read the Qigong part, but I actually think the 1983 Wong Yung originally treated Nianci pretty much like her novel counterpart did. That is, pretty much with a jealous heart. Barbara also had very good chemistry with her fellow actors. Her chemistries with Huang Yaoshi (Kenneth Tsang), Old Imp and Hong Qigong (Lau Dan) were amazing.

Some people also say that Barbara’s later portrayals were Wong Yung-like. I beg to slightly differ. True that Barbara’s later characters such as Song Siu Ching (Chor Lau Heung 1984) and Lam Chor Yin (Fearless Duo 1984) had that WY sparks, but they’re not the same. There are nuances between characters that Barbara delivered. Siu Ching is more mature than Wong Yung; you’d never seen Siu Ching lifting her nose in front of others the way Wong Yung or Chor Yin did. Siu Ching also argued, but she didn’t argue with Chor Lau Heung etc the way Wong Yung would. Siu Ching was also more considerate to others not related to Chor Lau Heung (e.g., the way she cared for Fell Cut Yat Dim Hung when the assassin was injured). Wong Yung wouldn’t do that, at least during the good ¾ of the series. Almost everything she did, she did it because of Ching gor-gor.

Fearless Duo’s Lam Chor Yin is more similar to Wong Yung in some ways than Siu Ching to Wong Yung. Chor Yin had that funny habit of pretending to bite someone’s finger (preferably poor Big Mole’s) or lifting her nose to hit the ceilings to show her superiority. However, throughout the series, Chor Yin matured much more, even surpassing Siu Ching’s demeanour, although not quite like Chun Sik Sik (The Foundation 1984). Speaking of Sik Sik, I’m certainly glad that Barbara played this character, for Sik Sik was definitely a different character altogether from the WY/SC/CY stereotype (and I say stereotype in a good way, cos I love this type of girl). All these nuances, Barbara delivered to us.

Michael Miu, do I even have to say it? He coloured LOCH 1983 for me, despite portraying such a lost case like Yang Kang. His evilness, his sadness, his anger, his frustration, his mischief... how can I see another Yang Kang without comparing him with Michael’s Yang Kang??

The truth is, the combination of Babs as WY and Michael as YK was the reason I kept watching it. Even after YK died, I still watched it because I want to see WY and her sassy intelligence. Then I saw that few seconds of GJ dreaming YK killing his teachers, and I lit up! Not to see a killing spree, but to see Michael Miu’s YK again! Palm/face... Truly, I am bias.

As for Felix Wong, well, he’s a good actor. Guo Jing is a noble character. However, TBH, if it’s not for Wong Yung, I wouldn’t continue watching the series. Felix is good, but he’s not my cup of tea. I remember I watched the Sword Stained with Royal Blood... and I was more interested in Ha Su Yi’s scenes (Michael Miu played this character, Felix’ teacher) than watching Felix’s character. I guess, even when I was 11, I was already taking side...
So no offense to Felix Wong fans, he’s a great actor. He’s just not my cup of tea. Felix doesn’t stir me, he doesn’t make my eyes lit in surprise and glee to see him entering the scene. He just doesn’t; but it doesn’t reduce his greatness. Adding to that, perhaps at the end of the day, I want my hero to be kind (duh) but also with a bit of spark. Like Chor Lau Heung. Or Chris Evan’s Captain America (kind and heroic, but with a lot of spark and passion in his eyes). Guo Jing is... well, he’s very simple and kind, but he just doesn’t stir my interest in him. There’s a way for heroes to be kind but not boring, and to me, Guo Jing is the kind yet boring type of hero. Again, just me. Surely there are many fans out there who just love Felix and Guo Jing and don’t think so highly of Michael or Chor Lau Heung, so I guess this is a fair game...

As for the story, Jin Yong definitely chose a “good” era for a story. “Good” in apostrophes because a warring period is never good for humanity... Such is that the story itself reminds me how useless war is. How feeble power is. It makes me sad that we’re still at war with other countries, neighbours or not, instead of living in peace (e.g., the South Sea China Sea conflict, cough-cough!). Have we not learned enough from the history? Apparently not. Apparently, some of us just like to live in bloodshed.

However, I do have some quibbles, though. Some posters at SPC said that the stories in LOCH 1983 can be draggy, and they’re right. Perhaps because it wasn’t written for modern audience, the series thus can drag to no end. I’ve mentioned it before; the first episodes in Mongolia could have been compacted I guess (or again, I am just not into Felix). Then the love triangle between Southern Emperor, Old Imp and Yinggu; that can be made more concise without losing the plot either.  But afterwards, the story went faster. When it came to the Kaypang overtake by Yang Kang and the Peach Blossom Island massacre, the story was very interesting; I glued myself to the screen.

I’m also glad that they made Yang Kang a less evil version than the novel version, and they chose Michael to portray this YK. I can’t see another actor playing Michael now. Okay, perhaps I will one day see LOCH 2008 just to see Yuan Hong playing YK, but I will still compare him with Michael. I might just fast forward the Hu Ge/Ariel Lin scenes tho, cos if I watch the 2008 ver, it’s really just for Yang Kang (they made him alive long enough to raise the baby with Nianci; that’s rather interesting).  But I won’t see the LOCH 2008 soon. I prefer to return to my Michael/Barbara MVs and fanfictions and screen shots...

Overall, I’m glad I watched LOCH 1983, despite 33-ish years late. The story was great, and perhaps thus I should force myself to finish reading that English translation of the Legend of Condor-shooting Heroes (thanks, translators!). LOCH 1983 was full of strong supporting characters, tho some characters like Qiu Qianren could definitely be upgraded.  LOCH 1983 also gives me the understanding how versatile Michael was (still is), and how amazing Babs was as Wong Yung (wish I can still say “is”). They absolutely had no inkling of bromance in the LOCH, but I bet they actually developed good camaraderie off screen, such that they were then cast in four other series as the main couple in the respective series.

Would I watch the series again? Yes for some Yang Kang-Nianci scenes, for some Wong Yung mischiefs, and also for some screen caps. But, unlike watching Chor Lau Heung 1984 and Fearless Duo 1984, I don’t think I will watch LOCH 1983 from cover to cover again... and it’s just my personal preference.  

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