Friday, 15 April 2016

ROCH 1983 second interim impression

Yang Guo and Xiaolongnu by Hiliuyun Deviantart

I’m off for a week’s holiday (yay!), but I want to write about my second interim impression of Return of Condor Heroes 1983 before I go. This review is going to be short; I basically just want to jot down my thoughts before finishing the series. I will still put the review under the break due to spoilers, just in case someone hasn’t seen this series and would like to. My review is from episodes 18 to 35. Also a forewarn for those who like the main romance for this series, for what I will say may very likely upset you.

The high points of these episodes: most definitely Wong Yung and Yeung Gor made up and became more civil to each other. Even after YG refused to marry Kwok Fu, after overcoming her surprise and disappointment, WY still praised YG for his talents and also talked with LDG (Little Dragon Girl, Xiaolongnu) about the weirdness of student-teacher love relationship. I like it that WY and YG patched things up. I really wanted WY and Yeung Hong to at least be friends, so I’m glad that she started to be in a good term with Yeung Hong’s son.

Another highlight: Kwok Ching/Guo Jing. In LOCH 1982 I acknowledged that KC was a decent man. I was particularly impressed when he helped Yeung Hong yet again during the latter’s final moments. But in ROCH 1983, Kwok Ching was already a mature man, a 40-ish years old man who knew his responsibilities. To me, he was the main tai-hap (knight errant) for this series. Not Yeung Gor; Kwok Ching. And I will explain later why not Yeung Gor.

Now, a hiccup: Yeung Gor finding out a partial truth about Yeung Hong’s death. Ep 20 started with the flashback of the event at the Iron Spear temple Which resulted in Yeung Hong's death. No flashback really. Just a replay of the original sound. I watched the Mandarin version (arrghh!!) hence I couldn't tell if it was really the original voices of Michael and Barbara. I couldn't read the traditional script either (nor the simplified) but they had a script on the screen, possibly telling what happened at that Temple 20 years ago.

Then YH & LDG arriving at the Iron Spear Temple. There was a fight outside the temple and they tried to rescue the villagers but failed. Then they left their burned lantern outside, not realising that the lantern was right at Yeung Hong's tombstone. Btw, YG didn't know till now where his father was buried. Weird. YG had been to the temple before, surely he could find the tombstone earlier? Oh, and they used the Star Wars OST when the tombstone was shown, hehehe...

YG later found YH's tombstone in Ep 21. Qiu Chuji/Yau Chu Kei had inscribed new words in it, which according to wiki is "unworthy student, erected by his unworthy teacher". YG flared, had the tombstone replaced and also asked the mason why such words were at his dad's tombstone. The mason said that a Taoist ordered it, and that the corpse was left there unattended for days, already devoured by the birds of prey. Ewwww...

Now this description almost stayed true to the original Jin Yong novel, for Kwok Ching actually found Yeung Hong’s body too late, already devoured by the birds. But KC did then bury YH's body properly. Not sure if he erected a tombstone there, my guess he did. Later, Taoist Qiu would replace the tombstone and the wordings. Yet, this event deviated from LOCH 1982 which was supposed to be the prequel of ROCH 1983. We know in LOCH 1982 that YH was found alive by KC, and that KC and MNC later buried YH respectfully. No wonder MNC didn't tell her son the whereabouts of YH's grave in ROCH 1983, for she might have been in the dark as well (she was in the dark I think, according to the novel). Nim Chi would have buried YH's remains and gave him due respect despite his mistakes had she found his body. Thus, despite the obvious loyalty to the novel, I think it's a mistake to bring the story like this in ROCH 1983, for it disrupts the continuity with LOCH 1982.

Anyways! Another highlight after the Yeung Hong tomb hiccup. In Ep 22 I finally met East Heretic again, with Shagua tailing him. They arrived at the Iron Spear Temple and Idiot freaked out when she found YH's grave. YG finally found out from idiot that Wng Yung and Kwok Ching were involved in YH's death. Given that the info was from Idiot, Gor misunderstood it and thought that aYKC killed Yeung Hong. 

YG then almost killed Kwok Ching during the Xiangyang defence, but KC told him everything and Gor then finally realised it was his father's own mistakes that brought his demise. YG also witnessed how KC was a true hero who would not hesitate to sacrifice himself to protect the innocents. The Dramanice link of the crucial episode where YG and KC finally saw eye to eye was corrupted, hence I couldn’t see this moment.

Now the mixed bag: Original Sound Track. Or rather, original and non-original. The OSTs of ROCH 1983 are lovely, particularly the "Undying Love", but I have to say that the opening theme is not as uplifting as the LOCH 1982 OST. Heh. Even for the Xiangyang attack scenes, they used the OST from LOCH 1982, and I have to say that it befitted the theme better. Also, the music editing could've been improved as well. Some scenes have music abruptly ending or two back to back music scores weren't seamlessly edited.

Also, what's with the Kitaro music? I like Kitaro, but I prefer original compositions for a wuxia series. Oh and they have some Star Wars themes in some scenes. Would prefer not to have them. CLH 1984 had one Star War theme as well for the scene where CLH was injured in Ep 11, and that was a palm/face moment. Good thing it was only one, and the remaining themes for CLH were original. Well, there is this funny chasing scene usually reserved for Chow Pak Tung and Hung Tsat Kung that sneaked into CLH Ep 6 when CLH and Wu Tit Fa were bathing in the river, but that was it (this track was mostly used in Fearless Duo 1984, mostly Supreme Master scenes).

Now the whinging part.

For the love of me, for my love towards 80s wuxia series, I just don’t get the Yeung Gor/Dragon Girl (YG/LDG) love story. I thought I liked it when I watched it as a little girl 30 ish years ago. I thought I bought the romance when I watched it again about 15 years ago. But not anymore. Either I did like them but I don’t like them anymore, or I never did like them.

Perhaps not “don’t like them”. I think it’s more “I can’t relate to them”.

Give me the interactions of Wong Yung and Li Mok Sau any given day...

There's one reason I am lukewarm at best towards YG/LDG love story. Sure they’re gorgeous, drop dead gorgeous. That’s NOT why I don’t like them. I don't like them, or, shall I say I don't relate to them because they're too perfect. They almost never fought with each other. I prefer more realistic couples like Wong Yung/Kwok Ching, Chor Lau Heung/Song Siu Ching and Szeto Man Mo/Lam Chor Yin.  Heh, I even much more prefer the star-crossed Yeung Hong/Muk Nim Chi pairing! Sure YH/MNC had that tragic streak in their love story, but they have their own dynamics that are far from boring. These pairings I mentioned just now had their arguments, they fought, and they patched up. In short, they were like normal couples.

On the contrary, YG/LDG almost never fought. They almost always agreed with each other. Perhaps YG/LDG is too romantic for my modern palate with their lovey dovey eyes...

The thing is, I don't necessarily want dramatic love story. I want healthy arguments, where each party has their own views and they don't have to share those views but they can reach a healthy agreement to disagree, or to come up with an agreement that accommodates both sides of the story. This doesn't happen very often to YG/LDG, and I find it too unrealistic for me. I only recall one instance where LDG misunderstood YG, that was when he was hanging out with Miss Luk, but that was it.

Sure, it’s good to sacrifice yourself for your love, but if the whole story is about them suffering and can’t live without each other and almost always put their love above other people’s concerns... that’s getting old too quickly in my book. Oh, what do I mean by that? Well, for example, Dragon Girl almost never cared about what happened with people, except if it concerned her Yeung Gor. Vice versa for Yeung Gor, at least till ep 35.

And how many times can these two got poisoned and almost died but still cheated death? I get that; it’s for the dramatic effect, but it’s getting tiring. I haven’t even finished watching the series now, and largely it’s because I find YG/LDG too boring to watch.

Anyway, I’m wary of posting this review, because I find myself ranting about the main couple. But truth be told: I prefer watching Susanna Auyeung and Brian Leung exchanging glances as Wong Yung and Kwok Ching, or even the banters and fight between Susanna and Lisa Lui as Li Mok Sau. And when I am disinterested with the main characters and when find that the supporting characters are much more fun to watch, there’s a high likelihood that I don’t rate the series quite high. It seems, sadly, it is what happens with my relationship with ROCH 1983. But not all is lost, for I still have about 15 episodes to watch, and I might change my opinion about the main pairing later. 

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