Deng Chao never fails to impress, and now in addition to his acting, I’m quite enjoying his singing, especially since I know he does good lives too. His series, the Zhang Jizhong-directed Heavenly Sword Dragon Sabre, has suddenly begun airing in China without any press and indeed it seems to be a bit rushed through post-production. But it’s the first wuxia series that I’ve gotten into because Deng Chao is just that good of an actor. And he’s no Jane Zhang (who sadly, only gets crappy themesongs now that she’s no longer with Hua Yi), but I think he makes the themesong quite nice to listen to.
Opening Song of HSDS, sung by Deng Chao
You can watch all aired episodes here. I’d skip 1-10 because the quality actors (Deng Chao and Ady An) don’t appear until after that. All four of Zhang Wuji’s loves seem to be decently acted too, so if you’re like me, and you don’t want to feel ashamed anymore for not knowing what the hell Jing Yong writes about, give it a go.
I feel like the promotion of everything else should be done only when it does not harm the product itself. Yes, putting the Meteor Shower cast will promote the company’s existing products, but it will not show the company in a good light if the acting is not right. Similarly, the focus on scenery should be done only in need.
On the other hand, I’m enthralled by Zhang Jizhong’s use of scenery to depict mood and beauty, especially in RoCH. There were scenes that were art pieces by themselves. I can just stare at those scenes and fall in love with the drama. But at the same time, I do think there are times I wish he focused more on costumes (here and in LoCH), actors (here) and pace (which has been too slow for many people in all but Semi Gods).
I’m still a fan of Zhang Jizhong, though. He has a distinct way of filming series, one that is focused on slow savoring of every scene rather than on a suspense-driven action.
But the scenery is not just about shooting it for the sake of shooting it. He helps boost tourism in any place he shoots at, and furthermore because of his ability to get it labeled as a tourist attraction, it helps preserve the beauty of the place, and thus is environmentally friendly. He is a Hua Yi employee, and this coincides with Hua Yi’s strong stance on environmental protection which I love, love, love about them and must write about one day. They are my ideal model of an entertainment company, minus a few aspects.
And ZJZ may use quite a bit of money to build sets, but reaps in far more, and not only that, but the profits involve many sectors of the business world. A successful director should be able to encourage further interest in helping to develop new projects, to get capital flowing and he certainly does that. He has his faults,obviously, but his unique merits are unique and admirable enough to where I would rather have one of him in the entertainment industry than many other directors who are better at the technical aspects of directing and editing.
From the viewer’s perspective, I can definitely understand your complaints; They’re absolutely logical, and do highlight one of the benefits of dramas – getting to know the characters intimately in a way that film doesn’t provide, that should be emphasized by any drama director. However, I just don’t know if they’re universal complaints. There are many others that have been mesmerized by the beautiful landscapes, and certainly aren’t put off enough to want to stop watching.
I really should have majored in something remotely similar to business…I don’t understand why I think of the economics all the time. Comes from reading too many articles about China. If they’re not badmouthing China, they’re talking about China’s economics.Sometimes they manage both.
As I have learned from the males in my life…the action scenes are a big draw for them (so is Wei Xiaobao, apparently, even though he’s my second least favorite Jin Yong lead)
I really liked YWYC. I couldn’t get past the first ten episodes the first time, but it really grew on me. Nonsense is pretty much necessary in all dramas.
And plus, I think most Jin Yong novels do a great job of making perfect sense in terms of human emotions and actions, hence the creation of Jinology. He may write in a ficitional world with impossible powers by fantasical characters, but the emotions he depicts are very humanly real.
Perhaps you are right, idarklight, and I’m only being really biased towards one director. But it completely sucks that he’s the director of so many popular/blockbuster dramas. Can’t they find someone else to do it?
I did watch YW of the YC, but I felt the story was too rushed, and though some scenes were heartfelt, the momentum of the story was awkward. Some of the plot was even outright just nonsense.
I’m just so sick of China trying to produce pretentious period drama that are completely devoid of logic and pacing. And paying bushels of money on stupid action scenes that are not only not necessary, but also detrimental to the story at hand.
The reason why the “countless mainland ancient dramas” focus so much on cinematography is because all the ones you’ve mentioned are by the same director – Zhang Jizhong. This is not the truth with all the other ones. For example, Li Guoli, who did Young Warriors of the Yang Clan and LoCH 2008, does a great job with capturing romance and friendship of the characters.
The only drama I really loved from Zhang Jizhong was Semi-Gods and Demi-Devils, in which there was a great blend of actors/actresses, clothing, music and story. RoCH was really well done because of its beauty, which is what the mood of the book really needed.
According to what I heard, the TV station cut up this series and made it messed up…and to be honest, I really disliked Zhang Jizhong’s “minor casts” for this series. He usually has great supporting actors – Yang Mi, Yang Liping, Gao Hu, Guo Jing’s mother, etc. but this time, his supporting actors are so disappointing.
*Oops, posted this comment on wrong news section, but here it is as well*
Just like Cfensi had said, I would skip the first 10 episodes as well. The introduction is nothing but pointless filler. This is sad for me to say, as I only wish the best for Chinese mainland dramas, but this series is turning into a total disappointment. The only reason I even considered watching is because of Deng Chao who is hands-down one of the best actors in this genre.
The main reason why the intro is so annoying is because the show focuses so much on cinematography, that it completely detracts from the storyline. This is a fault that I’ve seen countless times in mainland ancient dramas, i.e. ROCH, DMD, etc. I understand the aesthetic value of making scenes look good, but logically, people don’t watch dramas because of the scenery/setting. They watch it for interaction factor between the show and themselves and whether or not it relate to them. With sterile but beautiful settings, I find that it makes bonding with characters and the storyline harder. And to be honest, a cinematographer should not have conflict of interests when taking up a role as a director. He should only focus on directing actors not directing scenery. He’s a total fail in this department.
As to the actual acting, I’d say it’s above standard…sadly, the directing is sorely lacking. I hope it gets better as the show progress.
Thanks for commenting!
LOCH seems very good as a book, but I think the stories can get diminished by their portrayals, if they are not very good ones. And conversely I think that the stories can be improved on with very good acting. Deng Chao, I think, has made his ZWJ very manly, and very respectable and capable. A guy girls fall in love with, and liked by other guys.
So I think HSDS 2009 will be a very good gateway for me into wuxia (or at least Jing Yong) even if the book itself isn’t.
Hi! This is my first time leaving a comment, but I’ve been creeping around for a while, lol. I love your site, and how it focuses on mainland news!
Jane Zhang’s theme song for ZJZ’s ROCH was amazing. AH-MAZING. :) This sounds really good, and as usual, the scenery is BEAUTIFUL. ZJZ is amazing at making his series aesthetically beautiful. I love Jin Yong wuxia; my favourite is Legend of the Condor Heroes though. ROCH’s characters are really annoying, and I tried to watch the HSDS ’03 version with Alec Su and never got through the entire thing lol…I kept skipping around. I agree with idarklight…HSDS is not nearly as amazing as LOCH lol.
That being said, this version looks promising…except for Zhou Zhiruo; bad casting choice imo. I miss Gao Yuanyuan. :( Alyssa Chia was really good in HSDS ’03, but Ady An will probably do a good job. Anyhow I probably won’t watch…not interested enough in HSDS lol.
Which of the four girls is your favourite, btw? I always loved Yin Li for some reason. I usually like the main girl (ie. Huang Rong!), but not this time…
Anyhow, I’ll shut up now. :D Thanks for posting this, cfensi!
PS. I wish they showed Guo Xiang. And had Yang Mi as Guo Xiang again.
She doesn’t even get the theme song, though…Stephanie Sun got it.
Aw, but I actually quite like Jane Zhang’s Mulan theme song… : (
Woah, Liu Jing…total disappointment in the first 5 seconds. She looks like a stringent headmaster…what happened to the sweet, kind-hearted and beautiful Zhou Zhiruo that Gao Yuanyuan portrayed so well?
And Zhu’er is too cute. She’s like the Ariel Lin version of Huang Rong.
There are some beautiful scenes, though. Wu Dang Shan is so gorgeous.
I hope you won’t dislike wuxia dramas because of this one. It’s actually one of my least favorite Jin Yong books.
Yeah, It does eh? The story isnt treated nearly as seriously as the classics. Its like how some of the characters overact to the point that its almost cartoony. I personally dont like it. Yeah I know! His Monkey King series is looking like its gonna be on par with both the new big budget Hong Lou Meng and Three Kingdoms series. These three are probably my most anticipated Chinese language TV dramas right now. Oh yeah, Water Margin isnt looking too bad either. Not too many photos up yet but the costumes dont look bad. Not sure how its going to turn out yet as there arent any real production photos like Hong Lou Meng as they just started shooting. Heres the official website I believe
Also, heres the one for ZJZ’s Monkey King series
It kind of sucks for Jing Yong. After all that talk about giving his novels the same treatment as the 4 classics, he still got ditched for them. Journey to the West does look good though. I hope the same quality is given to Water Margin. Then we’d have high-budget versions of all the four classics to last for a while.
Yeah Cfensi, thats what I was thinking as well. The whole Monkey King deal. I knew I couldnt be the only that noticed that the CG looked absolutely atrocious considering all the hype about the series. Im just kind of dissapointed considering its ZJZ directing it. Oh well.. I guess he decided to put all his effort into the Monkey King series, which so far looks pretty darn good! The costumes and makeup look great and they apparently are spending alot of resources on the CG aspect. Now if the CG for Journey to the West comes out like HSDS then that will be a disaster,haha
Hmm, well I think the CG gets to the point that it is visually ruining my enjoyment of the series. I mean, at some points it looked so apparently bluescreen that it looked like one of those bad early 90s movies with cheesy CG. It really does ruin the whole feel imo. Maybe they rushed through post-prod because Zhang has much more important stuff to deal with right now like his huge budget Monkey King series.
^This doesn’t look like it went through much post-editing is why. Like everyone just forgot about it because ZJZ is busy with that Journey to the West series. The CG is poorly edited, and there’s some stuff that doesn’t make sense, like it was cut out or forgotten about.
Like I said…skip the first 10 or 12 episodes. Deng Chao makes the ugly CG bearable. Well, for me at least. Ady hasn’t come on, but her acting has always been charismatic.
And you guys!!! I’m finally watching a Wuxia drama!!! This is so exciting. I know who Zhu er, and Zhang Wuji, and Zhao Min and Xiao Zhao are! I can finally stop feeling like an uncultured idiot when people discuss Jing Yong characters at length. Before I could never get into them.
I don’t really care about the CG that much. I love Zhang Jizhong’s scenery. He used to be a cinematographer before directing, and it shows.
Aww, they cut out the Guo Xiang part but had mini Zhang Sanfeng. Did Zhang Jizhong not want to explain the relationship between the two and how they both stayed single for the rest of their lives partly because they were in love with one that loved with another?
Dont let the MV fool you, the new Dragon HSDS looks pretty awful imho. The CG looks absolutely horrible. I couldnt make it through a whole episode. Really quite disappointed with this. Hopefully the new Dream of Red Chambers and Three Kingdoms will be good.
You didn’t know it was out because there was no news about it. At all. I have no idea why really.
And shut up. Deng Chao’s perfect for the song. I have never fallen so hard for an actor. If Sun Li wasn’t such an animal welfare advocate I would be jealously thinking, “How’d she get so lucky?”. As it is, I can only begrudgingly think she’s just awesome like that.
Despite the video quality, the drama looks so beautiful. How did I not know this was came out?
They could’ve given the song to Chen Chusheng….or Yu Quan…Zhang Jie would’ve been perfect for epic wuxia songs.