After watching Lan Ling Wang, I am no longer that unappealed by Ariel Lin and hence decided to give the 2008 version of The Legend of The Condor Heroes 射雕英雄传 a try where she starred as Huang Rong, the female lead. I’ve always liked wuxia and period dramas which have themes of heroism, and usually characters with complex personalities. I will never ever get sick of watching such dramas even if I am already quite familiar with the storyline.
Though I wasn’t really harbouring high hopes, I have to say I was really blown away by the rendition of Huang Rong by Ariel Lin! It is not easy taking up such an iconic role by Jin Yong, whereby everyone already knows Huang Rong’s personality and have their own mental image of how she should look or act like.
Huang Rong is a really interesting character: intelligent, quick-witted with a hint of evilness, yet pretty bubbly as well, and extremely protective of Guo Jing. I am quite used to seeing Ariel Lin act in a slightly cutesy way in idol dramas and I’m pleasantly surprised that she can act in a serious drama as well. Her rendition of Huang Rong was still cute, but not in a act-cute way. She makes me believe that Huang Rong is genuinely quite cute. Not just so, she really gave life to this character. I’ve never read the novel before, so my idea of how Huang Rong is like is based on short excerpts from the novel, internet descriptions and how I’ve seen other actresses portrayed her. And Ariel Lin made me feel that she is Huang Rong! An impish girl doted by her dad and thus quite used to getting what she wants, but protective and loving towards Guo Jing and always there to help Guo Jing get out of trouble with her quick wits.
Guo Jing was blah in comparison. While I really like Hu Ge, well or at least I like looking at his handsome face haha, I feel that he was quite unnatural in his portrayal of Guo Jing. In fact he made me feel that he was just trying hard to look slow and dim-witted. In the first place, I don’t think Hu Ge looks like Guo Jing. Guo Jing is supposed to be someone who is very honest and kind, someone with brawn and not really a lot of brains, though he has his heart in the right place. A pretty Taurus personality.I will imagine this character to be slightly bulkier in stature, and with less refined features. But Hu Ge is such a beautiful man! Someone who looks more suited to be a good-looking scholar in the ancient times.
Meanwhile, Yang Kang is a wonderful wonderful surprise. Firstly, I really like how the scriptwriter developed his character throughout the episodes, even if it means changing some of the original parts of the story. When I watched 射雕 in the past, I just remembered Yang Kang as a rather annoying person that you want to throttle. But in this rendition, you see his character arc. You see how he goes from a proud person, to someone beaten by circumstances, then choosing the dark side so as to survive and carve a niche for himself. You see his struggles and the complexities of his nature. His jealousy, his pride, his competitiveness etc. Yuan Hong was fantastic in his portrayal of Yang Kang. I’ve always known who Yuan Hong is, and have watched his dramas before, but I’ve never really taken much notice of him. I never knew he can act this well until I saw this 2008 drama!
I like that this drama is quite serious, as in there were no comedic scenes which I dislike, and I think the casting was done really well. No one stuck out like a sore thumb due to bad acting. Everyone acted pretty well, including the side characters. And I am also quite impressed by Singapore’s Guo Liang who acted as Wan Yan Hong Lie. I always thought of him as a host, but he acted pretty well too! Multi-dimensional acting.
I heard that there will be a new version of Legend of the Condor Heroes soon, probably airing next year? Sure hope the actors can act well, to do justice to the story .The 2014 version of Return of The Condor Heroes was quite a joke.