This was one of the rare ancient series that Chow Yun Fat participated in ages ago. It started out quite promising with the mystery and suspense building episode by episode and the major characters appearing one by one. But then it deteriorated because of some inconsistency. However, I think after watching some other series that I will not mention right now, I think this had somewhat gone up on my list. Moving along, lol.
- Lau Kong (劉江) as Shui She Wo (誰舍我). The reason why I placed him first was because of how he appeared first. He was the storyteller and ended up being their leader for the majority of the story–with his vast knowledge and all. So I thought it was suitable. Not to mention he also closed the story with his narration. He was the level-headed one throughout and tried to guide them along as much as possible. Well, he was seen upset at one point or another, but it didn’t lead him into doing some stupid stuff like some characters in here. He was just blaming himself for not seeing things faster or stopping some events from unfolding, but that was like impossible to stop or predict. He wasn’t only their leader, but also the glue to their group since he kept them focused and reminded them what the purpose was, etc. He was the voice of reasoning for most of them.
- Chow Yun Fat (周潤發) as Liu Chi (柳迟). A mysterious wanderer who had a mission of helping the weak and solving various conflicts in the name of righteousness. The story didn’t start with him, obviously, but he became one of the major characters throughout. In fact, he was the key to the puzzle all along–whether it was because of some superstition that had paved the path of the story. CYF showed his acting abilities throughout, no doubt about it. His character was a mixture of humorous moments (mostly at the beginning) and intensity. He had his intelligent moments as well as rash moves. With all that said, I didn’t think his character was boring at all. Far from it. It wasn’t like a one-dimensional hero kind of thing that other dramas often depicted. He wasn’t the type of hero that was hogging the screen from episode 1 to episode 20 either. He was indeed absent from the main conflict at various points of the story, which made his character less “showy” and in a way more realistic.
- Susanna Au Yeung ( 歐陽珮珊) as Tang Lei (唐蕾). A strong, hot-headed character and then later turned into a very understanding, level-headed person. I think this was probably one of my favorite characters of hers–outside of the Condor trilogy realm, that was. She appeared mysterious and intelligent during the initial scenes because of her background and how she was on her way to investigate matters to clear her family’s name. Yet later it somehow showed she was more rash than the character appeared to be. That was all right since it showed her own personality unfolding and how she was different when not carrying out assignments for her father. What made her character real for me was how she was really jealous at first and was persistent to cut herself off from Liu Chi–not all talks; then later when she realized what was going on and all the misunderstandings were resolved, she owed it up to her past behaviors and apologized to Die Yi (although I didn’t think Die Yi was that innocent in the whole matter–or even Liu Chi was that innocent).
- Oscar Lam (林偉健) as Hu Bu Xiao (胡不肖). An inexperienced wanderer who was really ambitious with proving himself and becoming the best of the jianghu realm yet later learned to curve back his impulsive nature. He was probably the comedy relief in here–along with Zi Jun later on. Yet what was so unexpected was his death near the end. It was like totally uncalled for and only wanted to create some hype and/or frustration toward the main villain in the end. I mean, I already hated that other dude, no need to pile it on. What was ironic about Hu Bu Xiao’s death was how I didn’t really like him in the beginning. I meant, I thought he was funny but I didn’t like how he was so rash in interfering with other sects/clans conflicts at the beginning when he didn’t understand the rules. But his character slowly grew on me, especially how he’d become an odd team with Shui She Wo along the way.
- Shirley Yim (雪梨) as Ou Yang Zi Jun (歐陽紫君). Liu Chi’s half-sister. I liked her the moment she appeared. She was brilliant and charming with her acting and her character helped heaps with a mixture of maturity and immaturity at times. Although I must admit the hype sort of died down when it went on and on with the family conflict and how I realized this was going to be a battle within the resident, with her being edged out because she was the only girl. However, she managed to shine past all her siblings, because her father finally realized she was the only capable one among all her siblings (minus Liu Chi since they didn’t know about his existence or relation to them until way later).
- Kwan Chung (關聰) as Ou Yang Meng Fei (歐陽夢飛). He appeared to be weak (according to most people) at first, then progressed to possess a lust for power, wanting to conquer everything regardless of techniques. One could explain that he was driven to insanity by others around him. His master didn’t help either. Yet some of the flow of his character didn’t make sense. It was like they were convinced to make him the bad guy already so the other main characters could go ahead with their plan to take him down. Or perhaps, it was Kwan Chung’s lack of acting, I swear, lol. ‘Cause I do feel for his character at times, but the lack of emotions made it hard to relate. Or maybe the scriptwriters/directors/whole team wanted to rush the plot along, not working on some minor details that could impact the whole picture.
- Patricia Chong (莊靜而) as Die Yi (蝶衣). I seriously thought that this would be the second role that I would like from her, but I was majorly disappointed after her initial appearance. She showed a promising start when she appeared to be knowledgeable of various subjects and her endurance and patience of others. Her analysis of Ou Yang Meng Fei was also spot on when he tagged her at the beginning. But I lost all respect for her when she tried to tag Liu Chi knowing that he was married. (NOT blaming just her since I thought Liu Chi was over the line as well, even if he had said it was nothing.) I didn’t care if she tried to cover it up by being extra helpful to others.
- Samuel Kwok Fung (郭鋒) as Tang Kai (唐開). Tang Lei’s older brother. It was funny to see Samuel and Susanna together as siblings like this, knowing their real-life relations. But I thought they weren’t a bad team. As far as the story went, I thought that Tang Kai was far nicer than what others depicted of him. Of course, that also had to do with all the fake stuffs Shan Zhong Lao Ren tried to pin on him by sending out different people to impersonate him. He was a really good brother to Tang Lei and really cared for his family. Such a tragic ending, but was glad others solved the mystery of his death.
- Chu Tit Wo (朱鐵和) as Guo Da Yu (郭大愚) aka Shan Zhong Lao Ren (山中老人). Very cunning from the start. However, his supposed “intelligence” had pushed him too far hence not seeing what was coming. Then I wonder if his name was on purpose, lol. He was the one who tried to drive Ou Yang Meng Fei insane and pushed him to the other side. Even if it was Meng Fei’s choice, but I thought he didn’t help at all with the constant pestering. He miscalculated because he thought he had everything under his thumb, thinking he could control Meng Fei yet it was too late. He lost the battle.
- Andy Lau (劉德華) as Xiao Sha (小煞). He appeared in episode 14 and then a little more in episode 15. He was obsessed with wine and somehow got drawn into the mysterious place. He wasn’t mentioned again as the story moved on. But I had a feeling he had been used for other causes in that weird place. He was very easy to spot and Andy’s early acting roles showed great potential. I was almost reluctant to see that he was only appearing a bit, lol.
Relationships/ Pairings/ Friendships/ Whatever else:
- Chow Yun Fat and Susanna Au Yeung. I think it was an odd pairing at first yet they grew on me. To think of it, they weren’t the worst pairing of one another, because they had worse. I thought their acting made their chemistry work since they were quite compatible as characters. Although they were hot-headed and unreasonable at times, they were indeed a match made in Heaven. I was glad they didn’t break apart regardless of what happened. Sometimes, I question if he really loved her and missed her or was just feeling sorry for her, considering he did cause her to lose her family at the beginning (by leaving them) and later how tragedies fell upon her whole family. Yet CYF’s acting had convinced me that he did indeed love her and miss her and later appreciated her for who she was. In a way, they matured–for the better, because they truly understood what was more important–and not because they forced themselves to change to get along with one another. So all the time they were apart wasn’t for nothing.
- Chow Yun Fat and Patricia Chong. I will have to admit that he matched more with her appearance-wise hence it made me feel that he didn’t really love Tang Lei but felt sorry for Tang Lei. But later, I realized it was different. Sure, he probably liked Die Yi at one point and got along with her well. Yet Tang Lei’s absence from his life probably made him realized where his heart truly lied.
- Kwan Chung and Patricia Chong. I don’t know what to say about them since they were probably a match on the surface yet were so different on other levels. I think what irked me was how it seemed like she was settling for him since she realized it was hopeless it was Liu Chi. Forgive me for receiving the wrong message, but her actions made me doubt her in many ways. Regardless of how he turned out later, I didn’t think it made her any more likable by turning him into a complete asshole. I think I’m better off blaming the scriptwriter because the characters were so inconsistent. Or perhaps, it was because he really wanted to win her over, it was more of a challenge for him than loving her. Since it was like suddenly he wasn’t so into caring what she thought of him anymore, but just did whatever he wanted. It was explained many times that he changed, etc. But I think it was hard to convince. Again, inconsistency.
- Oscar Lam and Shirley Yim. They were obviously the fun, bickering couple of the group. I loved them since their first meeting. They helped me get through all the boring scenes of Die Yi and Meng Fei. Also the frustrating parts as well. I thought they were the most convincing couple in here, because of how their story was. It was sort of typical that he wanted to prove to her and the others that he could be the best, etc. That was also his downfall throughout the story. When he finally was fighting for something worth it, he ended up losing his life. It was indeed quite tragic for them. The reason why I was so mad by the end. It was so sad for her, having to face the world alone after all they’d been through.
- Lau Kong and Oscar Lam as master and student. Perhaps, it was a jinx that Shui She Wo finally accepted Hu Bu Xiao as a disciple near the end? Well, Shui She Wo did say that he would never accept anyone as his disciple. Like I said in the other section, I found their relation funny and enjoyable along the way. I thought it was odd that Hu Bu Xiao was suddenly listening to Shui She Wo, but it made sense that he wanted to survive and learned from the best. Their scenes were comic relief for the series (along with Bu Xiao and Zi Jun’s scenes).
- Lau Kong and Chow Yun Fat as friends. Well, the former was more experienced in the jianghu realm and the latter relied on him for information–like the majority people in there would. However, I think their relationship was of equal, more like friends than an elder trying to pass on some knowledge to the younger generation–like how it was with Hu Bu Xiao. I felt like they were best friends or tea buddies, lol. They trusted one another throughout, not second-guessing the other. Even if the other wasn’t around at the moment, but they stuck up for one another throughout.
Discussions / Questions / Others:
- Did Liu Chi really loved Tang Lei or was that just out of gratitude for all she’d done for him? Was the person he loved actually Die Yi? These two questions had been circulating in my head throughout the series. And I did mention this several times in the other sections already. I just wanted to put it here again to bring some attention on its own. Anyway, I couldn’t shake it off, considering how he was so interested in Die Yi at the beginning, like even neglecting Tang Lei to go talk to Die Yi. They indeed clicked and seemed to have an understanding. It seemed like he was really feeling responsible for Tang Lei and how he’d caused her to lose her family so I felt it wasn’t as strong. However, I think I believed him when he realized how he couldn’t live without Tang Lei after she left that one time–what was with their misunderstanding regarding her brother and all. Or perhaps CYF’s acting was so convincing with his longing for Tang Lei. He really tried to stay away from Die Yi from then on or didn’t seem as interested in her anymore. Perhaps he felt bad for leading her on so he actually was gentle toward her that one time when she was chasing after him to get him to talk to her when he was hiding from them all (after he chopped his own hand off).
- Was the plot getting lame or what? I thought it was. It was like near the end, the writers didn’t want to try anymore. I meant like how it was super lame that Liu Chi killed his father just like that. Okay, so he saw the masked man revealing himself as Old Master Ou Yang and it was his right to get mad–if he was really deceived. Then he rushed back to confront the old man. Usually, I would laugh at people for talking too long with confrontation scenes since it would lead to the other party escaping. But this time, I think they cut it TOO SHORT. It was like, “How dared you deceive me!” and then chop chop. I got it that his anger was getting the better of him, but considering how he was really intelligent in the past, I would expect him to ask first and then kill. Regardless, the old man couldn’t get away anyway. Not like that guy was that innocent anyway, BUT that didn’t justify the really lame, short scene. If it was excuses, hear him out first. What else? I wasn’t surprised that Die Yi died since Ou Yang Meng Fei was getting more and more temperamental, but it was REALLY short too. Again, usually, I roll my eyes at really long lovey-dovey goodbye/death scenes. But this time, it was really, really short too. Like she didn’t struggle, he didn’t struggle either, just “wham” kill her and get it over with. Even if he killed her in the heat of the moment, it would make sense to at least show some sort of like, “Omg, did I just kill the girl I love?” Or like, an emotional/over-dramatic, “Why did you make me kill you?” But NOPE. I didn’t feel anything. I think I felt more when Liu Chi had the funeral for Die Yi, even though I didn’t cheer for them. Which comes back to me pondering was it just Kwan Chung’s terrible acting or was it the script? But once again, another scene involving him proved my point. (OR so I like to think, lol.) That was the part when Hu Bu Xiao died. Again, NO major reaction, just the whole, “You want to die? I’ll kill you.” Then he beat him to death right in the cell. Um, he was waiting for Liu Chi to come. Sure, he didn’t need to keep his promise. But what kind of villain wouldn’t keep a bargaining chip around so he could make the main dude reconsider about going against him? Sure, one could argue he has no emotions so no emotions are needed along with his reactions, BUT I felt everything he did was in monotone.
So recommended? I will say it could be worse (after seeing a certain series), but I think you have to be a fan of the people mentioned here to watch it. It is one of CYF’s rare ancient series. The beginning was sort of worth it with the mystery and all. By my rant, of course, by the end it had deteriorated. But up to you really.