Legend of the Condor Heroes (2003) Review


Rating: 7.7/10

 So a couple days ago, I just finished watching Legend of the Condor Heroes, 2003 version. If you’re not into Chinese kung fu/romance dramas, I wouldn’t quite recommend this drama, but I think that the graphics, considering the time it was filmed and edited, were pretty good and the acting was decent. It’s about 42 episodes, so I want summarize and review every single aspect of it, but the major parts that I thought were important, otherwise I would be here for hours. J

The basic setting is during the early and mid 1200 and is about the conflict between the Jin Empire and Genghis Khan, who is a leader of the Mongolian clan. Yuan Tian Xi and Guo Xiao Tian were sworn brothers that each had a wife who was pregnant, but before the children were born, both brothers were supposedly killed by Mongolians led by Duan Tiande (not really sure who killed them). The two wives were separated; Guo Xiao Tian’s wife was taken to the Jin Empire and became the empress. Yuan Tian Xi’s wife was taken in by Genghis Khan. Guo Xian Tian’s son was named Yang Kang and Yuan Tian Xi’s son was named Guo Jing. Yang Kang grew up thinking that he was the true son of the emperor and learns kung fu from Qui Chuiji. Guo Jing grows up in the Mongolian clan of Genghis Khan and learns kung fu from the 7 Weirdoes of Jiangnan. Qui Chuiji had just befriended Guo Jing and Yang Kang’s father before they were killed and vows to get revenge, so he makes a deal with the 7 Weirdoes of Jiangnan that in 18 years they will have Yang Kang and Guo Jing compete in kung fu skills and see who had the better teacher. Eighteen years later, Guo Jing he meets a girl called Huang Rong or Rong’er and falls in love with her. Rong’er’s father is the chief of Peach Blossom Island, a magical island that no one can enter or escape without the approval of the chief. Guo Jing goes through a lot of trouble to get the approval from the Chief to marry Rong’er. Then, Guo Jing’s 7 teachers mysteriously die in the tomb of the Chief’s wife. Bound to get revenge, Guo Jing tries to kills the Chief, but is stopped when Rong’er reveals that her father is innocent and that Yang Kang killed the 7 Weirdoes of Jiangnan. Yang Kang meets a girl called Mu Nanci and falls in love with her. It turns out that Nanci’s adopted father is Guo Xiao Tian, who didn’t die during the attack eighteen years ago and when he finds out whom Yang Kang’s mother is, he reveals his true identity. Yang Kang is told that Guo Xiao Tian is his real father, but Yang Kang refuses to believe the truth. Shortly after their reunion, Yang Kang’s mother and Guo Xiao Tian commit suicide and Yang Kang sort of turns evil. Another kung fu master comes into play called Ouyang Feng who is also known as Old Venom because he specializes in using poison to kill his enemies. His nephew Ouyang Ke’er is in love with Rong’er and wanted to marry her, but loses to Guo Jing in a competition set up by Rong’er’s father. Yang Kang wants to become Ouyang Feng’s disciple, but is unable to because Old Venom has already vowed to only take in his nephew as his disciple. Hence, Yang Kang kills Ke’er and in revenge, Old Venom kills Yang Kang. In the end, Guo Jing and Rong’er are together.

This is a really sketchy summary, but just for those of you who haven’t watched the drama to get the general storyline and my review probably won’t be as long as the summary. Of course there was a lot of kung fu fighting because the entire dramas revolves around kung fu. I was really lenient towards the graphics because of the time the drama was filmed and edited, but it was pretty good, even in today’s standards. There was a fair amount of romance between the four main characters although I find that Guo Jing and Rong’er’s relationship was much cuter, although the hand-holding scenes were pretty random most of the time, but nonetheless sent butterflies to my stomach. Nanci and Yang Kang’s relationship was really sad yes, but also pretty unrealistic. The relationship started off on a bad foot because Yang Kang was playing with Nanci in the beginning and even after their relationship had started, Nanci was still trying to kill Yang Kang for causing the death of her adoptive father. So it was pretty crazy watching her love him and try to kill him at the same time. Complicated love… and somehow she gets pregnant with his son at the end which was really random…As for the factor that really upset me was that at the end, the fight between Yang Kang and Guo Jing never happened because Yang Kang died and the 7 teachers of Weirdoes of Jiangnan died which side-tracked the entire story. The whole suicide act between Yang Kang’s mother and biological mother was okay, although it was really histrionic with the slow motion twirl and the fact that it took both of them like 10 minutes to fall to the floor. Just think Stairway to Heaven version, except stabbing. Brownie point again to Guo Jing and Rong’er’s relationship because it was really too cute. I really liked Rong’er for her wit and cunning and her care for Guo Jing even though he wasn’t the smartest guy of the planet. There was scene were Guo Jing was stabbed by Yang Kang and Rong’er was freaking out (but of course in a composed way) and it was just really cute. Even though I didn’t mention her in the summary, for those of you who did watch the drama, Mei Chao Feng was probably the creepiest woman I have even seen in my life… with all the cracking of the skulls and the extending fingers (or fingernails) was really graphic and gross, but an interesting element. Of course in a drama this long, there was a period of dragging in both love relationships, but nothing too bad.

In the end, I recommend this drama for fans with a taste for old school kung fu fighting with tad of love added in. Hope you enjoy!

** For those of you who are curious, the son of Nanci and Yang Kang I believe is adopted by Guo Jin and Rong’er and become the main character of the sequel to this drama: Return of the Condor Heroes.

Watch with English subtitles @ Youtube: blu3g


~ by zaizai00 on September 8, 2008.

3 Responses to “Legend of the Condor Heroes (2003) Review”

  1. I think you got this series wrong on many counts. 1) It is perhaps the best adaptation of Jin Yong’s novel. It is faithful to the events in the book. 2) The casting is spot on for each of the characters (Ok, some might argue a better looking Guo Jing). 3) Yang Kang’s dad is Yang Tie Xin, not Yuan…. 4) Overall production standard is pretty high and consistent, as is the tempo in direction. 5) The slow mo is not like 10 minutes, but necessary to depict the at-long-last union of two love-torn spouses. 6) There are many outstanding actors in this series (see comment on casting above).

  2. As noted above, there’re a couple of mistakes in your review. Notably, is that you’ve got the parentage of the main characters wrong! Guo Jing’s dad was Guo Xiao Tian, and Yang Kang’s was Yang Tiexin, you’ve got them turned around 🙂

    Oh and among the TV adaptations of this wuxia novel that I’ve watched, this is one of the better ones in terms of faithfulness to the original plot, casting, and general production quality. There’s not too much cheap CG effects to spoil the mood, and they actually use real boats on a real sea! Instead of a prop boat on CG water like in the latest adapatation

  3. I love the series that was made in 1982. I just love it. The charcters, the fights, the music, everything. Sadly the actress that played the charcter of Ronger is no more.

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