New footage of Liu Yifei’s choreography in The Return of the Condor Heroes

Imagine doing this while also whipping your 1.6m (5 feet) wig around.

Someone recently uploaded the DVD behind the scenes for the Zhang Jizhong version of The Return of the Condor Heroes here and people are once more struck by how well the choreography and its execution by Liu Yifei fit the character of its lead Xiaolongnv. XiaoLongNv’s sashes are probably right up there with  Yang Liping’s ““Nine Yin Skeleton Claw 九阴白骨爪 as my top two Jin Yong choreographies that are both beautiful and perfectly reflect their characters.

In the book, Xiaolongnv’s fighting style is described as “a fairy or angel dancing”. Action directors Zhao Jian and Lin Feng worked to achieve this by combining elements of dance with martial arts. In designing her signature white sashes, the choreographers borrowed heavily from water sleeves of Chinese dance. While she only used white sashes a few times in the novel, her sashes become prominent here to emphasize her etherealness.

In designing her signature white sashes, the choreographers borrowed heavily from water sleeves of Chinese dance. While she only used white sashes a few times in the novel, this became her main  weapon here to emphasize her etherealness.

The documentary also talks about the set design for the ancient tomb, notably the innovation of putting water in it as an extended metaphor to use water to represent Xiaolongnv’. The use of the fluid-like sashes also fit in with the water analogy.

Lin Feng is the main director for the upcoming remake. It’ll be interesting to see how he’ll try to improve on one of the most perfectly choreographed Jin Yong characters.

gifs from 爱江山更爱美人随时改名-5@Weibo

Catching  not-yet-CGI’ed-in sparrows with the power of dance. Each pose is her catching new sparrows.

More dance poses in the sparrow-catching scene.

Look at her perfect form.

9 thoughts on “New footage of Liu Yifei’s choreography in The Return of the Condor Heroes

  1. i’m a huge fan of legends and their leads. I feel their acting is amazing for fairly newbies. I never really liked Liu yi fei other than acknowledging that she is a pretty face. However after looking at this, I can see why she is famous and deserves the recognition and hardwork that has brought her to this level.

  2. Amazing.

    Unfortunately that era of “martial arts” is gone. The current generation of actresses and actors will never be willing to train as hard and count on CGI and slow mo it’s a joke.

  3. Gloriously beautiful! I think she’s only 18ish at this point, which makes this even more impressive. I do think there’s room for improvement with regards to her acting, but I don’t think anyone can say she isn’t dedicated or hardworking. Looking forward to Mulan and its martial arts choreography!

  4. OMG, Liu Yifei looks so sharp in her choreographed fighting! The production company or actor agency need to send their new actors to wuxia training school to get their form right. I feel vicariously embarrassed for many of the wuxia/xianxia fails (I’m looking at you, The Legends).

    • The comparison isn’t fair to the other actors/actress. The Legends was a good drama. You need to remember that Liu Yi Fei has a Classical Chinese background since she was a kid. Which means that it is a combination of dance technique and a bit of Martial arts rolled into one. A few months of Martial Arts training will not get them to the level that Liu Yi Fei who is a professionally trained Classical Chinese dancer since young.

      Most Chinese Ancient/Wuxia productions will use slow motion to make up for their weakness in real martial arts. This was actually said by the guy who played the prosecutor/general for Bao Qing TIn — He Ga Ging (Cantonese Pronunciation)/ He Jia Jing? (Mandarin).

      This is why most of veteran martial arts actors went to China to work, more money and not as hurtful on their bodies.
      Although, the productions should really ask those that trained with Bruce Lee, I think it was a group of 7 or something , that group of Martial Arts experts to help choreograph all the martial arts. It made the ’83 condor heroes famous for their Martial arts choreo and other TVB dramas.

      Then again, all dramas are now relying on CGI and not real kungfu….

      • You are right, it wasn’t a fair comparison between Liu Yifei and the cast of The Legends. Liu Yifei is obviously in a different league, which is League Amazing! All I’m saying is, while I can live without real Kungfu in dramas, I expect the actors, at the very bare minimum, know how to do a proper “superman” pose when they fly around. I got to say Goodbye My Princess definitely was better in the action department then The Legends ever was.

    • I feel like the main problem is the production companies. It takes experience to design all these moves and to film them. You also need to give the actors enough time and takes to get it correctly.
      For example, both Song Weilong (including training at Shaolin Temple for a year) and Zhang Yijie (is visibly better than Song Weilong) actually have martial arts backgrounds, but you would never guess by their fighting scenes.

      • I thought Song Yilong’s sword scene in Untouchable Lover was decent. He wouldn’t be able to convince me that he was the greatest swordsman in Jianghu, but I could honestly believe that he was a combat trained nobility.

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