Now that I’ve finished all 50 episodes and am at a lack things to do, I’ve decided to write down some of my reflections on the 2008 version of LOCH. Let me know if you agree or disagree!
The Plot & the 2008 Version
The original plot of the book is worshiped by generations of readers of Wu Xia novels. The new version has a couple of twists to keep everyone interested. Also, the 2008 production has a cast targeting a younger audience (i.e. Hu Ge and Ariel Lin). The long history of the dynasties and fueds, that cover a good deal of Jin Yong’s novel, are quickly covered in the first couple of episodes. A big ‘Thank You!’ to the director and screenwriter. Huge changes were also made for the character Yang Kang but you’ll have to scroll down to the spoilers section to read about the specifics.
As for casting for the four lead character, I have some accolades and some grievances. I really appreciate that the 2008 version has the hottest Guo Jing to date. His first appearances, mostly his hair, has the viewers (including myself) questioning the costume director. Please get that dreadful curtain of frizzed bangs away from Hu Ge’s gorgeous face! However, his lookdoes improve significantly in a couple episodes of part 2 of LOCH. He even picks up a cute unshaven look near the end.
Ariel Lin is also probably the cutest Huang Rong. We’ve had some really gorgeous Huang Rongs in previous version of LOCH but I think Ariel Lin did a wonderful job in this adaptation. Her bouncy and mischievous personality really grabs the screen. Love the little movements and habits that Ariel used to create this character. I watched LOCH because of Ariel Lin and she doesn’t disappoint. As reported, she has lost a lot of weight for the shooting of LOCH. You can tell by looking her body but her face didn’t loose that innocent childish look. However, the way she uses her eyes and the way she moves really brings Huang Rong to life. The dubbed voice also helps since a Taiwanese accent is hardly convincing in a Wu Xia drama.
The chemistry between Guo Jing and Huang Rong is quite convicing even though they do not kiss even once in all fifty episodes. Their relationship feels a lot more innocent compared to that between Yang Kang and Mu Nian Ci
I’m not a big fan of Yuan Hong who plays Yang Kang here. I’ve seems pictures of the actor promoting LOCH and am convinced that it’s the fault of the costumes director again. What is up with Yang Kang’s hair? It looks like he combed his super long and overgrown sideburns together with the rest of his hair into a huge ponytail at the top of his head. How did costumes manage to attach the extentions with perfect symmetry? I don’t think I can be an unbiased judge of Yuan Hong’s performance since I have a deep rooted hatred for his character. Sorry, Yang Kang but you just piss me off. Maybe Yuan Hong could have done of better job of redeeming Yang Kang for the audience. He’s really good at playing the villain but not so much for the good side of Yang Kang.
As for Liu Shi Shi’s performance as Mu Nian Ci. I have to say she’s inconsistant. There’s some really good momments; she plays the helpless young woman in love with a monster very well. But you can often find her with a very blank expression at very important momments when she is expected to perform. Her expression for internal struggle needs some work. Overall, I respect her character and approve of Liu Shi Shi as Mu Nian Ci.
The Supporting Cast
I think one of the main reason LOCH 2008 rocks is not only do we have a great cast for the major characters but the supporting cast is even more amazing. The variety of mainland, taiwan, and HK actors brings a broad group of viewers. I love the performances of all the older characters like Huang Yao Shi and Hong Qi Gong who are both played by Hong Kong actors. Here are some of my favorites:
from left to right: Li Jie 李解 as Ouyang Ke, Bryan Leung 梁家仁 (from Hong Kong) as Hong Qi Gong, Xu Jin Jiang 徐錦江 as Ouyang Feng, Li Yu 李彧 as Zhou Bo Tong, Anthony Wong 黃秋生 (from Hong Kong) as Huang Yao Shi, and Weng Jia Ming 翁家明 as Yang Tie Xin
A Complete List of Major Casts
(in the order they appear in the ending theme)
Guo Jing – 胡歌 Hu Ge
Huang Rong – 林依晨 Ariel Lin (Taiwan)
Yang Kang – 袁弘 Yuan Hong
Mu Nian Ci – 刘诗诗 Liu Shi Shi
Huang Yao Shi – 黃秋生 Anthony Wong (Hong Kong)
Ouyang Feng – 徐錦江 Xu Jin Jiang
Hong Qi Gong – 梁家仁 Bryan Leung (Hong Kong)
Hua Zheng – 谢娜 Xie Na
Mei Chao Feng – 孔维 Kong Wei
Ouyang Ke – 李解 Li Jie
Bao Xi Ruo – 周海媚 Kathy Chow (Hong Kong)
Yang Tie Xin – 翁家明 Weng Jia Ming (Taiwan)
Wanyan Hong Lie – 郭亮 Guo Liang
… Zhou Bo Tong – 李彧 Li Yu
A lot of the cast seems to have worked together before. Ariel and Hu Ge in Tian Wai Fei Xian which can not compare to LOCH at all. Then a lot of the older actors like Xu Jin Jiang and Guo Liang were in Chinese Paladin with Hu Ge. Also, I found Hu Ge and Xie Na in a mainland drama together. The Chinese title translates to ‘Don’t Love Me’. I skimmed the first episode. They are in modern clothing and it seems Xie Na and Hu Ge play another unrequited love relationship. Hu Ge and Yuan Hong are also in The Yong Warriors which focus on the members of the Yang clan, the same family that LOCH’s Yang Kang decends from. Weng Jia Ming and Liu Shi Shi are also in Young Warriors and play similar parts in both LOCH and YW. Weng Jia Ming is again the head of the Yang family and Liu Shi Shi, his daughter in law. Coincidence? Ironically Yuan Hong (who plays Yang Kang in LOCH) plays the villain in The Young Warriors, where as Hu Ge plays a son of the Yang clan. So if you love a certain cast member of LOCH, these are some Wu Xia shows that you can check out.
Costumes & Set
The costumes for the 2008 version are amazing compared to previous versions of LOCH. Maybe they have a bigger budget this time around. They seem to have chosen a color theme for some of the characters: pink for Nian Ci (really suits her character), yellow for Huang Rong (because of her last name?), gold for the Jing people (because Jing means gold and they are royalty?), and blue for Taoists. Guo Jing seems to wear a lot of blue also. Oh and how can I forget, white for Ouyang Ke and his female groupies. Everyone else seems to wear a mixture of earth toned fabrics that somehow twist together into wearable clothing.
As for the sets, I’m also really impressed by this production. My favorites are:
1. Taohuadao 桃花岛 (Peach Blossom Island, home of Huang Yaoshi and Huang Rong) I love the blossoms. They viberant without looking fake. Also, the hall that Huang Yaoshi greets his guests is gorgeous! The indoor pond is filled with water with a magical green tint and topped with beautiful flowers and wonderous water plants. So in my plans for my dream home, I now have an atrium with a pool just like that.
2. Mongolia. I’m so glad the crew travelled to actual Mongolia to film that part of the series. The sky and span of grassland is gorgeous even on my small computer screen. Really appreciate this! Thank you!
3. Mountains. China, you are absolutely and naturally gorgeous!
4. Buildings. All the buildings are very architecually pretty. I even adore the simpleness of Liu Jia Chuen 牛家村, the village that the Guo and Yang family lived together.
One problem I have with the set production are the scenes inside caves. Can we be a little more realistic? How likely is every natural cave going to have perfectly smooth floors? I won’t complain if they actually used real caves. But those scenes were just not realistic enough for me.
I love all the the instrumental backgroud music especially one that resembles the Pirates of the Caribbean theme. It sounds extremely heroic and I love it when they pair it with Guo Jing’s fight scenes!
The lyrical background songs come from a limited selection. The three that are most played and well reconized are…
The opening theme, Ying Xiong Mo 英雄寞 by Ronald Cheng 鄭中基 which is also played a lot during fight scenes. It showed up first in the background in episode one when the historical background is being set up by the narrator and couple more times during Guo Jing’s heroic momments. It also showed up unexpected in episode 19 when Huang Rong and Guo Jing are confessing their feelings under the bridge. Thank you for not using:
The insert song, Zhi Neng Ai Ni 我只能爱你 by 彭青. Listen here
The ending theme, Wu Yun Ran 乌云然 by Hu Ge. Listen here
The first scene with Guo Jing. His eagle shooting stance totally makes up for his awkward Mongolian hairdo. Here the picture shows the actor Hu Ge being holstered on strings to create that shot.
I also love the the introduction of Huang Rong when she shows up in her beggar costume. Sitting on the rooftop in the rain… very cute!
*Spoilers* Huge changes were made for the character Yang Kang. He lasted a lot longer in the drama than most people would like. Perhaps this was in order to have this character redeem himself before his final scene. I do appreciate the new ending where Yang Kang galliantly steps out to face his death, showing that he has really changed. But long before *Spoilers End*