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Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Sabre Review

Updated on May 10, 2020
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LJ Milan is books, movies, tv shows, anime, K drama's, history and life buff, who loves spreading his knowledge about all of those subjects.

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A couple of weeks ago when I wrote 5 Awesome Wuxia Tv Shows hub. I mentioned this masterpiece. Of course, the show I mentioned was from 2009. This is the new adaptation of Louis Cha's, or Jin Young's, seminal work. It is the last part of the trilogy which begins with The Legend Of Condor Heroes. This show came out in February of 2019, and it has 50 episodes. This show is the first adaptation that was released as a web series.

Synopsis

The story takes place in the later Yuan Dynasty. Or more accurately, it's a story of overthrowing of the said dynasty. After being stranded on Fire Ice Island. Two famous martial artists, from opposing sects, get married and have a son. They were trapped there for ten years before they finally got back to Central Plains (mainland China).


Once there they were forced to commit suicide because they didn't want to divulge where the child's Godparent is. Meanwhile, their son is abducted and tortured for the same information, but he didn't brake. In retaliation, the child's torturer's used a cursed art known as Death Palm on him. Condemning him to a short life span. From there the story of his search for the cure begins.

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My Review

I loved the previous version of this show. Funny enough, I didn't even know there was a new version of it, until I bumped on it by accident. Then I couldn't wait to watch it. I was curious to see what will this interpretation be like. And, I wasn't disappointed.


I love the decision this show has taken. They decided to focus on other details of the novel, then the previous show. And that was a welcomed surprise. Sure the gro of the story is the same, but they focused on completely different small details of the novel. Which in turn provided a much clearer story, then the previous version. As much as I love that one, they skipped some integral details that left the viewer confused. Especially if you didn't read the novel. And although the character's end was the same in this one. The circumstances of it were slightly different.


This show focused more on the kindness and righteousness of its titular hero, Zhang Wuji. From this childhood all the way to the end of the show. SPOILER ALERT: Which culminated when he turns down the offer of becoming Ming Dynasty first Emperor. He was afraid that the power will corrupt him. End of spoiler.

I love how nuanced Zhang Wuji's character really is. He never wavered in his convictions. No matter how many people called him evil. Just because they perceived his sect an evil one. Of which he was the leader.


But it has to be said that Jin Young did a great job with the description of the pugilistic world (martial arts world). Although the sects are divided into good and evil. He honestly described the pugilistic world and its heroes. That you are left wondering who among them really is evil. The creators of the show just build on that and made something really fantastic.


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Zhang Shunxi did a fantastic job as an adult Zhang Wuji. He acted with such conviction, you have no problem believing him. Han Haolin just blew me away as child Wuji. For such a young boy to play the range of emotions that well is amazing. He almost left me speechless.


The two female leads, both love interests of Wuji, played by Chen Yuqi and Zhu Xudan did a great job.


Chen Yuqi played Zhao Mon, daughter of Yuan general, who meddles in affairs of the pugilistic world. Throughout the show she tries to set up Wuji, with little success. Chen played her part masterfully. She was playful and ruthless at the same time.


Zhu Xudan plays Zhu Zhirou, a childhood friend of Wuji. Who becomes a ruthless leader of Emui Sect. Which consists only of women. She was given the most complicated role in the show and delivered it perfectly. From pure innocence to pissed off and ruthless, and then back again. She didn't slip up at all. Her performance is on a whole other level.


Here I have to mention one other actor, and that's Lin Shen. He plays Left Commander of Ming Sect Yang Xiao. Shen did an awesome job here, he acted like a master. When he shows up on the screen you can't take your eyes off him. He's a true scene-stealer. He's just so damn cool that it leaves you in awe.


As I stated before I really loved the 2009 version of this show. But, it has to be said that cinematography of this show is on the whole different level. Which is no surprise, Chinese have been upping their game in this department for a while now. Still, it's even better then I imagined.


During the years many people complained about acting in Chinese dramas. Going so far to say it's bad acting. Which, I think is the wrong assumption. It's just a different acting style focused more on their culture. We can file it under cultural differences. One example is laughing. They never laugh honestly in shows, they use a fake laugh. Which is not an insult, it's just their way. Honest laughter is reserved for family.


Now, in this show they even fixed that. I mean it's not completely gone, but its way more subtle.


And finally we come to the big thing, fights. Since this is a Wuxia show, they are mighty important. And here they are magnificently done. Choreography of them is just amazing. They will make your jaw drop to the floor.


This show actually begins with a fight. And, boy what a fight that is. It's impeccably done. It has you on the edge of the seat. It lures you into the story making you curious what will happen next. The brutality of that scene is on the whole other level. I was amazed and blown away by it.

Conclusion

All in all this show is an amazing watch. It's ways ahead of its predecessor in the story, choreography, and acting. That is almost impossible to compare the two. It's created to be universally popular. Yes, it's a wuxia story, but it does make you ask some tough questions about the condition of the human race and our society as a whole. And it will certainly leave you wanting more, so I wholeheartedly recommend it.

5 stars for Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Sabre

© 2020 LJ Milan

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