So I finally finished watching 天龍八部 (Tian Long Ba Bu), also known as Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils. This is story written by 金庸 (Jin Yong) and adapted into TV series multiple times. The one I watched was the newest one adapted by China in 2003. It consisted of 40 episodes due to the fact the story is just that long. At first I wanted to watch it at 1.5x speed given that I was busy with work and wanted to complete the series quickly, however my Mandarin skill wasn’t good enough to comprehend it when they were speaking that quickly.
I honestly think this adaptation was poorly done. The acting was okay, but the directing was horrible. The storyline just didn’t flow that well and it felt like it was stitched together chapter by chapter. The ending was also really abrupt and left me with a feeling of incompleteness. If this story is like the other masterpieces that 金庸 (Jin Yong) has written, the only reason I can come up with for this being poorly done is the directing. The sceneries were really pretty and the fighting choreography was pretty good, but the acting and directing was just not that great.
Anyway, the story left several plot holes which I’m not sure if it ever got explained in the original novel.
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慕容復 (Murong Fu) had 2 followers: 包不同 (Bao Butong) and 風波惡 (Feng Boe), and they are respectively 3rd brother and 4th brother. Assuming 慕容復 (Murong Fu) is the 1st brother, who was the 2nd? (Brothers in this context need not be blood-related)
無崖子 (Wu Ya Zi), head of 逍遥派 (Xiaoyao Clan), apparently was married to 李秋水 (Li Qiushui), his younger disciple sister. However, it was later revealed that he was in love with the sister of 李秋水 (Li Qiushui). 李秋水 (Li Qiushui) and her sister look very similar. 無崖子 (Wu Ya Zi) kept a drawing of a lady by his sides at all time till his death. However since the drawing had a mole on the lady’s face, it was revealed that 無崖子 (Wu Ya Zi) was indeed in love with the sister of 李秋水 (Li Qiushui). Before 無崖子 (Wu Ya Zi) died, he had told 虛竹 (Xu Zhu), the next head of 逍遥派 (Xiaoyao Clan) to look for this lady and ask her to teach him martial arts. However, this lady never appeared in the story and that just felt weird…
There’s this monk in Shaolin Temple only known as the Sweeper Monk. The only thing we know about him is that he’s been hiding hiding in the Shaolin Temple for over 40 years (even longer than 蕭遠山/Xiao Yuanshan and 慕容博/Murong Bo) and has awesome martial arts skills. However, the back story of the sweeper monk was not revealed and my only guess is that it’s revealed in one of Jin Yong’s other stories.
Near the end of the story, 游坦之 (You Tanzhi) also known as the Iron Clown (鐵丑/Tie Chou) donates his eyes to 阿紫 (A Zi) to give her back sight. However, being childish and immature, 阿紫 (A Zi) doesn’t realize the sacrifice the Iron Clown has done and she runs away from him. 蕭峰 (Xiao Feng) tells her that she is now forever indebted to this young man and has the responsibility to take care of him. The story ends with 蕭峰 (Xiao Feng) committing suicide to prove his loyalty to the Liao Empire (Qidan people). 阿紫 (A Zi) decides to commit suicide with him, but before she does, she pulls her eyes back out and throws it to the Iron Clown and says she does not want to be indebted to him anymore and jumps off the cliff. The Iron Clown, unable to take this, commits suicide by bashing his head on the side of the cliff. The story ends with everyone crying… WHAT!?!?! WHAT THE HECK!?!?! HOW CAN YOU END THE STORY LIKE THIS!?!?!? I would’ve been mildly fine with the story ending with 蕭峰 (Xiao Feng)’s suicide, but how can you end the story like this?
Another thing I didn’t get was at the beginning where a bunch of high level martial artists had to hide their identity. I understand they were tricked by 慕容博 (Murong Bo), where he hopes by creating a conflict between the Song and Liao empire, it would make taking a chunk of the Song empire and rebuilding his Yan Empire easier. I also understand those high level martial artists were tricked into believing that a high level martial artist 蕭遠山 (Xiao Yuanshan) from Liao empire was going to sneak into Shaolin Temple and steal all their martial art manuscripts. However, what I don’t understand is, why did they have to hide their identity? Why did they have to dress up in all black and cover their faces (like ninjas). What they were doing wasn’t something sneaky… And worst of all, you’d think as a high level monk, you wouldn’t attack a defenseless mother carrying a baby, while the others have occupied the father from protecting them.
— END SPOILERS —