I cannot even begin to describe how much Yu Zheng annoys me. The only way I can sit through his dramas is if I pretend that they are completely unaffiliated with any literature or history.
Swordsman is an adaptation of a popular Jin Yong wuxia novel. The plot basically goes like this: Linghu Chong is this happy-go-lucky disciple of the Hua Shan sect. He loves Yue Ling Shan, who is the daughter of his master. They’re childhood friends , and she sees him as an older brother figure. Once Lin Ping Zhi, the sole survivor in a massacre of his family, enters the sect, he and Yue Ling Shan fall in love.
Now here is where Yu Zheng begins to use his infamous artistic license. In the original story, Linghu Chong befriends many people from unorthodox sects. He eventually falls in love with Ren Ying Ying, who is the daughter of a deposed cult leader. Linghu Chong helps Ren Ying Ying’s father, Ren Wo Xing, to regain control of the cult by defeating Dong Fang Bu Bai, a man who became a eunuch in order to learn powerful martial arts.
Somehow, Yu Zheng has twisted this story so that Linghu Chong, Ren Ying Ying, and Dong Fang Bu Bai have a love triangle going on. Although, now that I think about it, you can’t really call it a love triangle if almost all the other female characters are in love with Linghu Chong as well (is it just me, or is this extremely common in Jin Yong novels?).
Now the problem that most people have with this plot twist is that Dong Fang Bu Bai is supposed to be a eunuch. However, Yu Zheng resolved this by making the character a girl (pretending to be a boy). This wouldn’t have been too big of a deal if Yu Zheng didn’t give most of Ren Ying Ying’s scenes to Dong Fang Bu Bai. Then the list of grievances against this adaption become: 1. fans of the novel are pissed off because this is in no way faithful to the original 2. fans of Ren Ying Ying/Linghu Chong are pissed off because their love makes no sense 3. fans of Dong Fang Bu Bai are pissed off because she’s a girl with lots of feelings 4. fans of Dong Fang Bu Bai/Linghu Chong (yes, fans of this pairing gathered somewhere along the way during the broadcast) are pissed off because Yu Zheng spends the whole drama setting up their romance and then changing his mind 5. Fans of individual characters are just pissed off because they all become so unlikable.
The love triangle also made no sense. Linghu Chong came across as wishy washy (and when the male lead is wishy washy between women, I just want to knock him in the head with a pot). He had absolutely no chemistry with Ren Ying Ying. Granted, Dong Fang Bu Bai took a lot of her pivotal scenes.
He gave me the impression that he was with her mostly because she sacrificed a lot for him. And she was easy. Dong Fang Bu Bai sacrificed so much for him but he was so quick to misunderstand and judge her. He’s so hypocritical. There was one line in the drama that stuck out to me. Dong Fang Bu Bai asked him point-blank: “You’ve been around Jianghu for so long, how can you still see things/people as black and white?”.
That’s also in addition to the fact that he’s friends with a bunch of people from ‘evil’ cults. And not to mention that his master, the leader of an extremely righteous sect, is revealed to be completely evil. Linghu Chong is such an idiot, I can’t even.
Honestly, the only things that kept me watching were Yue Ling Shan/Lin Ping Zhi and Dong Fang Bu Bai. Yang Rong was so cute as Yue Ling Shan, and she was a good match for Chen Xiao’s Lin Ping Zhi. They were adorable together.
Joe Chen’s Dong Fang Bu Bai was pretty controversial in terms of all the character changes, but she stood out among the leads as the most sympathetic character. She was so badass and was very devoted to Linghu Chong.
Sadly, Wallace Huo’s Linghu Chong was off the mark. He looked bored half the time, and I don’t think he tried very hard. The script was just terrible. Yu Zheng did his cut and paste thing with the scenes, where he takes snippets from different adaptions. He isn’t even very original with casting Dong Fang Bu Bai as a woman and having her romance Linghu Chong. That was the plot of the 1991 movie starring Jet Li and Brigitte Lin. And the ending was a complete ripoff of Painted Skin II. Why is Yu Zheng so shameless?
I have no words for Yuan Shan Shan’s Ren Ying Ying. I’m just sick of seeing her face.
Han Dong was adorable as Tian Bo Guang. He is really such a versatile actor. He could play the cold and calculating 9th prince in Bu Bu Jing Xin, the badass bro Shi Jin in Water Margins, the devoted warrior Dorgon (in another Yu Zheng drama), and the perverted ruffian Tian Bo Guang. I think he’s currently filming Tian Long Ba Bu as Xu Zhu. Awesome actor.
*Sigh* My list of favored actors has been through a rough time lately. First, Qiu Ze’s scandal makes him look like a player, and now I will forever associate Wallace Huo with this ugly drama. Okay, I take that back. If there is one good thing about Yu Zheng’s dramas, it’s that they’re pretty. Overused CGI effects and all, the people are pretty, the colors are bright, and it’s definitely got that modern feel. I wish he’d stop trying to make wuxia remakes and butchering history. Why can’t he just stick to making modern dramas? Then he can just do whatever he wants.
And what is wrong with the SARFT? They block Da Mo Yao from broadcasting, but approve junk like this? Jin Yong must be super sad 😦 Not to mention that all the young people now think this is what the original Swordsman is like. But now we all know how awesome Zhang Ji Zhong remakes are.
Note: For anyone super interested in why his/her name is Dong Fang Bu Bai (东方不败), there’s a nice phrase that explains it: 日出东方， 唯我不败 when the sun rises in the east, only I am victorious’)