Fangirling Chinese Novels

Swordsman (C-Drama 2013)


XAJH 2I know that after this post, you are all are going to lose respect for me but I have to confess: I am hooked on Yumama’s Swordsman. On so many levels, it’s one giant mess of Epic Fail (umbrella parachutes, Kong Ming lanterns as levitating devices, a female DFBB and CGI effects that are considered bad 10 years ago). On the other hand, we have decent acting. I think if you manage your expectations (ie don’t even think of it as a Jin Yong adaptation, but rather as an alternate reality fanfiction), you might actually find yourself enjoying the ride.

XAJHWallace Huo actually makes me want to continue watching this f-ed up version of Jin Yong’s The Smiling, Proud Wanderer. I mean, he is making me like Linghu Chong. The only other version I’ve watched is the 1996 TVB version. That one left me with the impression that LHC is just a wishy washy guy that plays a really awful reluctant hero. But in this version, LHC is actually consistent. He doesn’t really see himself as a hero; he’s just doing what he’s been taught is right. You can see that he’s smart (in the 1996 ver, I feel that LHC is a bit derpy), resourceful and ethical. He is a sharp one when judging people, which creates conflict when his judgment (often right) departs from that of his peers. His playful nature and rather unconventional ideas do not help either.

For the first time, I get the title xiao ao jiang hu: LHC isn’t interested in being anybody’s boss or anybody’s hero – all he wants is to be free to do as he please. As long as his actions don’t hurt anybody, he doesn’t really see why it’s anyone’s business but his and other than those he cares about, he really doesn’t give two hoots about what others think about him. His character screams: “Yeah, I might not be able to escape the entanglements of jiang hu, but hell, I’m sure going to do things my way.” And because of this, I do feel that LHC’s greatest unhappiness stems from him trying to live up to his Master’s and peers expectations. It is like trying to fit square pegs into square holes. He does it because he cares about them, and thus values their opinion. So when they misunderstand, doubt and mistrust him, he feels the pain all the more acutely. Its only when he learns to let all of that go, he achieves the state of xiao ao jiang hu.

Han Dong is SO smarmy funny here. I love him. I mean, I’ve seen him in a lot of stuff recently – he’s the poisonous Ninth in BBJX, angsty Prince Dorgon in In Love with Power, the gentlemanly second brother in Cuo Dian Yin Yang – but I think this is the first time he has attacked a comedic role with such vigor. I mean, its rather over the top at times, but he commits to the role of the Pervert, Tian Bou Guang, complete with the crazy smarmy facial expressions. Totally uncool but that’s what the role really calls for.

DFBBOn the other hand, you a whacked out alternate universe fanfiction-like storyline going on. DFBB is a woman. And when Chen Qiao En goes uber ebil on us, I roll my eyes so hard they sometimes get lost in their sockets (which is okay, because some of her wardrobe choices are really quite…. interesting). She’s cute, but I’m not buying her evil dictator looking for love. I mean – in some scenes, she’s cackling like a maniac while twirling around in a red dress and give us expressions that I feel even prostitutes would hesitate to wear (actually, in some scenes, she does pretend to be a prostitute) – and in others, she’s a lovesick crybaby replete with cheesy “why do you make me love you” lines. So much potential wasted – I mean, you’re going the way of a FEMALE DFBB (who must be at least 5 years older than LHC in this story) and you’re making her a weeping willow that reaches out to give backhugs whenever she can. CQE does have incredible chemistry with WH though – its just that I’m not buying her as a ruthless evil overlord.

Verdict: This has given me new perspective into LHC’s character and I get to see a different side of Wally. I mean, in most other shows he NEVER smiles because he’s the angsty tragic character, but here he does even when the odds are against him and you see a different side to him.


6 thoughts on “Swordsman (C-Drama 2013)

  1. Wow, another person who complains about CGI but never explains why. I must be going crazy here, cos I don’t see how the CGI is considered bad, it looks amazing. I wish when people say something is bad, they could explain it for those idiots like me who has no idea what you’re talking about, but seriously, what is wrong with so many people’s eyes? What IS considered good to them? Why is it that nothing seems to please people these days? I don’t agree that it’s F-up, it’s a great series and it’s only a pity that so many people has to be so negative about it. But seriously, one thing that befuddles me greatly is everyone’s complaint about co-called bad CGI. In my opinion, it’s those people that needs to check how well they can see, because obviously they’re expecting way too much. Geez, hate complainers like that.

    • *Shrugs* Maybe I would just like not to be able to tell that the actors worked in front of a green screen most of the time. Or that I would like them not to be so lazy that LHC’s swordsmanship is “so good” that all you see is a blur, some random cgi or what appears to be Wallace Huo waving something in the air while jumping around on a trampoline. So I like for there to be some quality in the production. I’m watching a wuxia drama for the fight choreography, which I thought was pretty decent till they decided to take the lazy way out with the cgi. Yumama already cut budget by using cgi… at least give us some decent cgi that doesn’t look so amateurish? It’s not exactly a small production either, so… I don’t think I’m being too unreasonable. Anyway, this is just my opinion and my expectations, which I am expressing on MY blog. So please chill out on your over-reactions.

      On the subject of umbrella parachutes and Kong Ming lanterns, I just find the idea ridiculous. At first, I accepted it when RYY’s mother descended from a cliff with her umbrellas – maybe they have special aerodynamic properties. But when YLS and LHC sailed down with a very ordinary looking umbrella which was carrying the weight of two persons… Look, if you intend to go jump off a cliff with nothing than a wax paper umbrella next time, I won’t stand in your way. As for the lanterns – let’s not even go into WHY it won’t work – but there’s NO PURPOSE to it as far as I can see. It’s not like they’re floating above walls, people or even the trees. They are floating 3 feet above the ground in the forest on their own turf… and they seem to be moving SLOWER than walking.

      I think compared with majority of the other viewers, I’m very accepting of his version.I recognise that there are some entertainment value here as long as you don’t take it too seriously. Sure, I disagree with some of the creative choices and I think the execution is quite ham-handed, but by no means am I saying it should just burn in hell.

      If you enjoy the cgi, pointless scenes of people sailing around with umbrellas and kong ming lanterns, by all means, do continue to enjoy them. But I hope you can respect the opinions of others as well.

  2. And if you consider umbrella parachutes, Kong Ming lanterns as levitating devices as epic fail, then I have to say, you guys are too close minded. How on earth are they epic fail? They’re very interesting ideas. Freaking people these days, always have to complain about something.

    • Hi, I think hui3r can express her opinons in that this is her blog. She’s just stating what she thinks and I feel the way you went to express your anger or annoyance is kinda rude. There are ways to say you don’t agree with someone else opinons but I get the feeling from the way you said it, it’s kind of disrespecting hui3r. I’m not saying you can’t express your opinions either but please be mindful and respecting of others opinions as well.

      That being said. I actually think this series is very pretty and I do see the CGI but it doesn’t bother me that much. It has a very mmm 2013 graphics these days compare to back in the 90s and 2000s when they do a lot of wire actions and stuff like that.

      • Bravo and Thank you! I spoke with Peanuts and we’re against censorship – that’s the only reason why the rude comments are still up. I have absolutely nothing against the content of wandererswordsman’s opinion – just the delivery.

        Having said that, this series is pretty in its own way. It’s just that I feel that there is an excessive use of CGI, which detracts from the artistry. I watched Yi Zhi Mei concurrently ( you can tell that I am on a WH binge here) and I know that there were quite a fair bit of CGI… (especially in the plum blossom forests), just that its not so in your face? It doesn’t physically pull me out of the story the way the cgi in swordsman does… I think that’s my biggest gripe with the CGI… it’s so obvious that i go… “what the…?”

        I think the thing about 90s and 2000s is that they’re less lazy with the choreography. There’s a lot of wirework, but that’s a type of art to itself. I guess also in a way, the influx of martial arts movies in hollywood has kind of spoilt me when it comes to choreography.

        Anyway, thanks for dropping by!

  3. The series is fcked up beyond recognition. I’d rather the producer created new series completely. You know when you try to patch big holes in your pant? it just looks bad. A lot of twist and plots regarding DFBB just feels so forced and shallow.

    You know what should have been special about this series as the title implies “swordsman”….which is swordsmanship and Dugu Qiu bai’s swordsmanship. Technique with no specific technique or some cool shit like that. When I am watching the fights in this series, it feels like watching a fcking anime series. WTF?? seriously.


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