Review: Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Saber

Dropped (sort of) – Loved the beginning 

Name: Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Saber
Writer/director: Jeffery Chiang
Date: February 2019
Number of episodes: 50
Genre: Wuxia
Based on book/manga?: Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Saber by Jin Yong

Why did I press play? This type of action oriented drama is not my cup of tea. After learning the context for the story,  intentional fighting style, and camera shots,  I watched it with the right frame of mind to appreciate it.

Thoughts: The backstory story or rather the story of Wuji’s parents and other character them, blew me away. Episodes one to eight are incredible – it’s the most blown away I’ve been in a long time, consequently greatly anticipation each episode. The opening fight scene is superb, particularly the maneuvers on the large wheel on the lake – it’s execution from a production standpoint is mind boggling. No idea how that created that whole scene. Wuji’s story as a kid, and young teenager is also pretty good. 

In episode 12, there is another incredible scene, it’s him walking up the hill as kid and walking down a young man – the music, one-take shot, and the lighting – it’s moving and a tad emotional. However with the scene the wow and captivation factor ended. This doesn’t bother me too much because the introduction is so comprehensive and exceptional, I’m okay to part with the rest of the story. Like waving watching a boat drifting away from a port into the distant ocean. 

The red light switched on when Wuji received the book of medicine and poison, and when all these fighters (including Yang Xiao) “owed him one “. Essentially a red carpet is laid out for him to have a powerful and influential, and pre-forged destiny. Throw in that all powerful fighting technique from the book in that ape’s belly and the set-up is just to good and therefore humdrum.

Good Points

  • The fantastic chemistry between Wuji’s parents and their unconventional love story. Comparing the paring to the 2009 version, I prefer the current combination.  Although Wang Yuan Ke as Yin Susu has a more seductress vibe. Depending on how the character is written in the book – this is either a good or bad thing.
  • The side love story of Yang Xiao and Ji Xiao Fu. It is a quite heartbreaking that they don’t stay together. They both clearly love each other, but due to politics, she doesn’t stay. Wish she had!!!
  • As mentioned above, the incredible fight scenes – it’s on a whole other level. 
  • The unconventional and almost dark comedy attributes. For example, people are killed left right and centre and the infinite request for duels.

Bad Points

  • I did not like the main lead. He felt weak in comparison to his parents, the other characters, and even him as a kid.
  • The actress who played Zhou Zhi Ruo – her interpretation of innocence and purity is withered down to constant silly expression of “looking innocent”. She fails to  embody the specifications of the character, therefore you’re perpetually aware that she is acting, and separate from Zhi Ruo. Compared to predecessor who had a natural lovely and innocent aura and didn’t need to try so heard using facial expressions.
  • Over the top big fighting scenes and challenges to Wuji in the cave thing.

Who are the main characters? Who plays them? 
Zhang Wuji played by Joseph Zheng (adult)
Zhao Min played by Chen Yu Qi
Zhou Zhi Ruo played by Xu Dan
Xiao Zhao played by Kabby Hui
Yin Li played by Cao Xi Yue
Cheng Kun played by Louis Fan
Abbess Mie Jue played by Kathy Crow
Yin Susu played by Maggie Chan (Wuji’s mother)
Zhang Cui Shan played by Li Dong Xue (Wuji’s father)
Yang Xiao played by Lin Shen
Ji Xiao Fu played by Wu Jing Jing

What are the themes: Life is complicated

What’s it good for: When you’re in the mood for something exciting, stimulation, and a bowl of popcorn.

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