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.
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.