Thursday, 7 April 2016

Interim impressions for the Return of Condor Heroes 1983

The Brave Archer and His Mate, by Hiliuyun

I started watching the Return of Condor Heroes (ROCH) 1983 last week, mainly because I want to see the plight and victories of Yeung Hong's son Yeung Gor (Yang Guo, Andy Lau). I've watched the series when I was like 11/12... and then also when I was already at second year at uni, but I've forgotten most of the details. I'm in Ep 17 now and so far, I like it. I decided not to do episode summaries this time for it's not an MB series, but you can check Wiki for this. So this post is mostly for my interim impression up to Ep 17. Romanisation is mostly Cantonese. Click here to watch the series in Dramanice. Major spoilers for those who have not watched the show (trust me; there ARE people who haven't watched the series...), so proceed at your own risk.

To start with, I like the fact that most LOCH cast members also appeared in ROCH, for it gives a sense of continuity. All the Five Greats were played by the same LOCH actors, which was great. Notable cast exceptions are Brian Leung and Susanna Auyeung for the grown up, mid 30-40 years old, Kwok Ching/Guo Jing and Wong Yung/Huang Rong respectively. They also replaced Austin Wai with another actor to play Luk Kuanying, another actress also replaced his LOCH "wife", but the new couple was hardly half as cute as Austin and his LOCH "wife". Some Quanzhen priests were also replaced, but the main masters including Master Ma Yu (yay!), Qiu Chuji (well...) and Sun Bat Yi (hmmm) remained. The guy who played as Yeung Gor's Quanzhen teacher also remained (he played as the love rival of Michael Miu's Szeto Man Mo during eps 4-6). 

Yet, though ROCH was the sequel of LOCH, I'm slightly disappointed that ROCH didn't show Michael, Barbara, Felix or Sharon during flashbacks. Like, when Hung Tsat Kung (Hong Qigong) met Yeung Gor, the North Beggar thought the young man looked like Yeung Hong, but we weren't shown a flashback of Yeung Hong when Yeung Gor was laughing. I feel that was a big opportunity lost to further connect ROCH with its predecessor, but perhaps because it would blow the budget to have the cameo of YH, WY, KC or MNC?

Now the main characters Yeung Gor and Little Dragon Girl. I like the fact that Yeung Gor was very jovial and carefree up to the point where I watched the series (Ep 17). Even when he was mistreated by Kwok Fu (WYKC's daughter) and Quanzhen Sect, even when Aunt Wong Yung suspected him to be the second Yeung Hong without bothering to give the 11 years old kid the benefit of doubt, YG was still a cheerful person. Andy Lau portrayed the mischief nature of Yeung Hong, adding it with the consciousness of a good boy raised by a single mother, a good single mother. As a result, Yeung Gor became what Yeung Hong could have been had he been raised properly.

As for Little Dragon Girl: I find Idy Chan a truly beautiful woman; she definitely portrayed the fairy quality of LDG very well. I never saw other versions of ROCH, but I've seen the photos of other Xiaolongnu. I think Idy's LDG is by far the most ethereal of them all. I hate the raping of LDG when YG was practicing Toad Stance with West Venom Auyeung Fung. Jin Yong actually also wrote another rape scene in LOCH edition one where Yeung Hong raped a woman who looked like Nim Chi (this woman, instead of Nim Chi, later bore Yeung Gor). I'm glad that Jin Yong excluded this event and this woman in the second LOCH edition.

I love the interactions of YG and LDG from the start. I like it that LDG started to melt around YG, yet YG remained the innocent teenager who couldn't understand that he actually saw Aunt Dragon as more than a teacher and an "aunt". I think that is more natural than making them directly falling in love and getting emo all the time. Cos I remember that emo is definitely what I will get from these tho lovebirds in the next few episodes...I'll definitely write what I think about their interactions later. For now, enjoy the beautiful "Undying Love" gorgeously sung by Teresa Cheung below.

Speaking of another couple, Brian Leung's Kwok Ching hit the tone for a respected, mature, highly skilled swordsman. I love this Kwok Ching. I like Felix Wong's KC, but I love Brian's KC. I think Susanna Auyeung was an amazing grown up Wong Yung, but I missed Barbara's antics. Guess a girl needs to grow up, hence Susanna, which was a perfect choice. I just dislike WY's distrust to YG even when the boy was still young. WY seemed to decide that "like father, like son" is definitive, which I think is not fair. But I do enjoy Brian/Susanna pairing for WYKC; I think they portrayed the couple well.

Another thing that I like about ROCH is the closing of karmic circles for several people. I like it that Auyeung Fung and Hung Tsat Kung made their peace (although ended in death). Auyeung Fung met Yeung Gor and liked the boy instantly without knowing that the boy was the son of Yeung Hong who killed West Venom's son and who he latter left to die. It's like West Venom made up for his cruelty of robbing Yeung Gor of his father (tho Yeung Hong definitely deserved his fate...). Yeung Gor himself loved Auyeung Fung as his adopted dad without realising the latter's role in the demise of his biological father. He respectfully buried West Venom together with North Beggar (can't believe their deaths came this early!!); he lashed at Kwok Fu for being downright disrespectful to Venom's mourning tablet. I'd like to know what Yeung Gor thought later when he realised the role of Auyeung Fung on Yeung Hong's death...

Speaking of Fung's mourning tablet, i was surprised to see that the spoiled Kwok Fu started to like Yeung Gor after the latter slapped her for intentionally stomping at Auyeung Fung's tablet. The pretty yet cruel brat actually started to like Yeung Gor after he defied the Quanzhen masters in front of Kwok Ching, but I think the slapping was the definite moment where she realised she had enough of the "yes, milady" Mo brothers.

In this series, we also have Simon Yam playing Ye-lut Chai, a Mongolian Prince living in the Song territory in this series too. Ye-lut Chai became good friends with Yeung Gor pretty easily. Will be interesting to see how their friendship developed, cos YG would help the Song Resistance later to expel the Mongols. I see a snippet during the opening credit of eps 16-17 that Simon's character conversed with Kwok Fu... but Ye-lut Chai actually liked a Jin Princess (played by the actress who played Zo Hing Hau's daughter in CLH 1984), so perhaps it was just Ye-lut Chai politely telling Kwok Fu to behave. Politely, cos this Mongolian Prince is a very polite tai-hap.

[Edit 8 April 2016: it seems that Ye-lut Chai will eventually marry Kwok Fu. I actually like the two of them, so I'm happy for this. Although I still think Kwok Fu is really annoying for being too spoilt, I think she would grow up as well.]

Oh, we also have Ken Tong playing Fok Do, a Mongolian womaniser Prince who coveted Little Dragon Girl from the moment he heard about her. Ken Tong's performance here reminded me of his performance as the Third Prince in The Foundation 1984, for the Third Prince was also evil-reincarnated (don't ask me to comment on Li Sai Man, I'm a hopeless bias...). Ken Tong was a convincing baddie as Fok Do, and I think his character lasted until almost the last episode. Wow, what a baddie.

There's another character I'd like to comment on, which is Li Mok Sau. She was LDG's senior in the Ancient Tomb Sect. Total evil triggered by a heart break. Lisa Lui Yau Wai played Li Mok Sau; and she also played as Madame Li who often council Chun Sik Sik in The Foundation 1984. I love Lisa since I saw her at TF. I originally thought that she was Susanna Auyeung who played Wong Yung in this ROCH, and I think it was because when I saw it 30 years ago, I remembered the Xiangyang battle scene where Li Mok Sau kidnapped newborn Kwok Sheung (Guo Xiang) from Wong Yung. I got the two women mixed up; hence I thought Lisa Lui was Susanna Auyeung who played Wong Yung.

I have been waiting for Kenneth Tsang's East Heretic Wong Yeuk Si, cos we've seen some scenes of Peach Blossom Island... But I haven’t seen him up to ep 17. Not sure if he'll be there in Ep 18, but when he does appear whenever that is, I'd definitely be excited about it. I will, however, miss his interactions with Barbara Yung's Wong Yung though...

Last but not least: the soundtracks! Man, the songs brought out childhood memories too, although admittedly not as strong as the OST of CLH 1984 for me. Not that 'Undying Love' and the main theme of ROCH 1983 don't stick with me, oh they do, they do...

Will post my next impression around Ep 35. The series has a total of 50 episodes, btw.


Tamuyen Truong said...

Yes, ROCH is a nice series to watch if you want to see the turnout of Yeung Kang's son Yeung Guo. I love the them song and the acting of The cast! It is a great movie even though it is not an MB series. Enjoy Icha!

Icha said...

Tammy, sorry for the very belated reply... I have posted my second interim impression of ROCH 1983 here:

However, I have more qualms about the series more than I thought I would have, so we might have differing opinions here about what I think of the series. But that's okay, for we still have a big thing in common, namely MB! ^_^