The Legend of the Condor Heroes (2017) – Review

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 27mm, f/3.6, 1/120 sec, ISO320
“Huang Rong” Cedar Park, 2022

I finally watched all 52 episodes of the 2017 Chinese television series “The Legend of the Condor Heroes”. I enjoyed it quite a bit!

After reading the books (which I loved), I was curious to see how this latest re-telling of the Condor Heroes story would be. I was pleasantly surprised that the first episodes’ characters, plot, and overall feeling matched with what I had imagined in my mind when I read the books.

The kung fu moves were excellent and they spent a lot of effort in the flying effects, the spinning moves, and the choreography in general. It was interesting to me that in the books and also the live-action series, most of the kung fu is not meant to deal lethal blows. Even when fighting with weapons, the conflict was to show superiority, and trying to kill someone is a serious line that only the villains were willing to cross.

Speaking of the kung-fu, many of the moves has specific names, and in the tv show, they flashed subtitles when the person used the move. Pretty cool!

One criticism of the TV series I have is that the special effects were sometimes horrible. Laughably so! In fact, they were so bad, didn’t mind it so much after a while. They did their best! And the fighting was awesome, after all.

This adaptation stuck close to the book’s plot, but at the end I think they skipped over a lot. For instance, when Viper Ouyang was harassing our heroes in Mongolia, he suffered some hilarious indignities, however the TV show only showed one of them, and even that was toned down.

Overall, though, I thought the 2017 series was excellent. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of the legendary wuxia series.

Pompo: The Cinéphile

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 27mm, f/2.8, 1/125 sec, ISO5000
“Pompo-san” Austin, 2022

My friend and I went to see Pompo: The Cinéphile at the theater as part of our anime-watching habit. Whenever GKIDS has a special screening, he buys the tickets, and I buy the beer (the theater has beer on tap!). It’s something I really look forward to!

Anyways, I thought the movie was excellent. The plot is basically the making of a movie, but there are so many little inspirational nuggets thrown in that I was kind of blown away and even got a little emotional. What a movie! And maybe it was the beer too. But regardless, Pompo: The Cinéphile left me with a positive attitude and life seemed just a bit brighter.

A very nice little gem of a film. Go see it!

Watched Garden State

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO1600
“Watching Garden State” Cedar Park, 2022

While browsing Amazon Prime Movies, Garden State popped up in the recommendations. I have kind of known about this 2004 movie for a long time and have been mildly interested but not enough to actually watch it but since i had a couple of hours, today was the day!

Although I enjoyed Garden State, I think it is more suited to a younger version of myself. I think I would have been really into if I saw it when it first came out, but now it felt a little naive and lacking. Still, I am happy I watched it.

One thing I am happy about is that while reading the movie’s Wikipedia page, I learned about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. I think that bit of info was worth watching the movie for. 😀

I Finally Watched La Dolce Vita

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 27mm, f/4, 1/15 sec, ISO320
“La Dolce Vita” Cedar Park, 2022

This afternoon, I watched Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita”. What an odd movie! Watching the 1960 film in 2022 added another disorienting dimension for me and I couldn’t tell which parts were truly indicative of the times, and which were more fantastical versions. I suppose that added to the charm and mystery.

My favorite part of the film was when Marcello’s father came to visit. He seemed like the character who was most grounded in real life, which is probably why I enjoyed his scenes.

Overall, I am happy I watched to have finally watched this cinematic masterpiece, but I felt like I was watching from a great distance, both culturally and artistically.

Legends of the Condor Heroes

Jiang Yun Xing /Quercus Books

I’ve been enjoying the classic series Legends of the Condor Heroes by Jin Yong so much. I just started book four, A Heart Divided, which is the final book of the translated series. The story is so much fun!

The story is Wuxia, or ancient martial-arts heroes genre. Do you know the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? That is a good example of Wuxia.

When I started the first book, A Hero Born, I was a bit overwhelmed by the list of characters at the beginning. What was I getting myself into? But soon, I was caught up in the story, and the character list came in handy to refresh my memory.

I was very curious as to how they could describe the fast-paced action of the wuxia movies, but Jin Yong (and the book translators) do an amazing job of imaginatively describing and naming the different moves and it’s incredibly fun to follow along. I love the heroes, and love to hate the villains. My favorite character is Cyclone Mei, who is featured in the illustration above. She’s one of the villains, but… it’s complicated! 😀

I read the popular She Who Became the Sun by Shelly Parker-Chan, but didn’t enjoy the story or characters at all. The Legends of the Condor Heroes is way more my type of book.

There’s a Chinese television series from 2017 that I will watch after I finish the books. Besides spoilers, I don’t want my imagined versions of the characters to be influenced by the actors in the drama. I prefer to look to the illustrations (which are sparse) from the book.

For more info, you can read this article from Alan Yu at NPR about Jin Yong and his amazing series.

Okay, back to A Heart Divided!