First Look at the Main Cast of the Chen Xiao Version of Return of the Condor Heroes

How the heck does Yu Zheng manage to turn the ridiculously gorgeous Chen Xiao into an unattractive Yang Guo? I don’t get it. One way to get people riled up is to purposely mess with fandom. That is why I loathe drama producer Yu Zheng so much, because he delights in pointlessly screwing with classic wuxia novel fandom (and others) without any purpose. If he’s going to deviate so far from the narrative and the characters, why call it the same thing and instead say he’s making a drama inspired by but totally different. Except he totally does it to generate hate which equals publicity, ergo his dramas garner eyeballs and lots of hate-watching. It’s Machiavellian. The rape and plunder he did on The Swordsman was so bad even mentioning it makes me want to go cry in a corner, but he’s looking to one-up himself here. He’s confessed that he originally wanted Yuan Shan Shan (barf) to play Xialongnu, but the backlash even with the rumor that she might be cast was so overwhelming she actually turned it down because she couldn’t deal with it. Then he offered it to Angelababy but she’s so red hot right now with her acting career she turned it down because she can’t fit it into her filming schedule. So the role landed in Michelle Chen‘s lap. Any talk about Xiaolongnu being tailored for Michelle’s aura and style is BS, it might be now she’s cast but that wasn’t the original plan.

With her casting, the storyboard has shifted to Yang Guo’s true love being Li Mo Chou, who is now Xiaolongnu’s younger disciple sister, and she has been burned in love once so is scared to love Yang Guo back. That leads Yang Guo to slowly fall for Xiaolongnu, who has the same style and aura as Li Mo Chou since they belong to the same sect. Return of the Condor Heroes is about so much more than romance, but of all of Louis Cha’s many amazing wuxia novels, RoCH is the one novel that the romance bit is just as important as the hero’s journey. Yang Guo and Xiaolongnu represent the ideals of rebellious love and devotion – the way they said a big F-You to the rest of the world and just got together anyway, and the way Xiaolongnu carved the note on the stone face to keep Yang Guo from committing suicide once she died, and how he waited 16 years for her like she asked him to, and then in the end when he jumped off that cliff after the 16 years was up, their love got the happy ending that was so hard won. Yang Guo may be a natural born flirt from his smooth talking handsome daddy, but he only ever loved one woman and was true to her for his entire life. To make Xiaolongnu not his first and only love destroys a fundamental part of his character – the stubborn laser-sharp focus that Huang Rong tried so hard to change in him thinking it would lead him down the path of wrongdoing like it did his dad, but instead it made him into a true romantic hero. Yu Zheng’s narrative crap job is as bad as the horrible choice he made for the leading lady. Even having dealt with his WTF-ery before, nothing can really guard your heart when someone sets out to smash it and then cackle over your decimated carcass.

It’s amazing what photoshop can do. When Yu Zheng was saying Michelle Chen was so skinny and so goddess like in costume as Xiaolongnu, he meant after he photoshopped off half her face. And the photoshopping is terrible as well – poorly done and so obvious when placed beside her first character stills.

Even worse is seeing the first BTS still above of Michelle and Chen Xiao filming a scene, and in the harsh light of day and without any photoshopping, she’s clearly of the short, round, and soft physique. Coupled with her general aura of girl-next-door sweetness and a sense of the down in the dumps, she’s pretty much as opposite of Xiaolongnu as described in the novel.

Let me translate one passage that describes her:

小龙女 那少女披着一袭轻纱般的白衣,犹似身在烟中雾里,看来约莫十六七岁年纪,除了一头黑发之外,全身雪白,面容秀美绝俗,只是肌肤间少了一层血色,显得苍白异常。—— –抬起头来,与她目光相对,只觉这少女清丽秀雅,莫可逼视,神色间却是冰冷淡漠,当真是洁若冰雪,也是冷若冰雪,实不知她是喜是怒,是愁是乐,竟不自禁的感到恐怖:“这姑娘是水晶做的,还是个雪人儿?到底是人是鬼,还是神道仙女?”虽听她语音娇柔婉转,但语气之中似乎也没丝毫暖意。

Xiaolongnu (Little Dragon Girl) – that girl wore a white robe as whisper light as thin silk, it was like she was standing in the middle of a smoky fog. She appeared to be around sixteen or seventeen. With a head of black hair, dressed all in white, her face was beautiful beyond comprehension. Except her face was pale seemingly without blood, a eerie kind of pale. When she raised her head and one looked her in the eye, the sensation was that this young girl may be elegant and refined, but she wasn’t to be looked upon. Her eyes was ice cold and indifferent, like icy snow or freezing sleet. It was impossible to tell if she was happy or angry, sad or joyful. It led one to feel afraid “Is this girl made out of crystal? A snow woman? Is she a human or a ghost? Or a goddess from the Heavens?” Even though her voice was melodic and lyrical, but there wasn’t even a shred of warmth in her words.

If you want a bellyful of lulz, then this will do the trick. Look at the BTS still of Michelle Chen on the rope bed, and not only is the rope creaking under her mass, the poor dude holding up the rope is about to keel over. And then compare it to Crystal Liu putting on a weightless balletic display on her rope bed. That, people, is how Xiaolongnu brings it. Girl is made out of cold air.

Yang Guo’s official stills leave me speechless and dumbfounded. What is with the fire? On what alternate planet does Yang Guo have FIRE POWER?!?! This is NOT an RPG wuxia game adaptation! And Yang Guo is a swordsman. He is a freaking swordsman. Unlike other heroes like Guo Jing in Legend of the Condor Heroes or Zhang Wu Ji in Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre, those two practice a Qi martial arts, where conceptually I guess you could add some flames though that would still be lame. But this? It’s bizarre and wack.

Thanks to C-netizens who move at the speed of lightning and remember everything, the second Yang Guo’s look came out everyone pointed out Yu Zheng just ripped off Hu Ge‘s look as Li Xiao Yao in Chinese Paladin. If you put it side by side, its a carbon copy. And it doesn’t suit Yang Guo at all. My gut tells me this is just the look for late teen Young Guo, which is is the hardest part of his hero’s journey to play. It’s a man-child role that needs to be carefully balanced between big kid and young protector. I still don’t know how Huang Xiaoming played him to be so smarmy and sleazy when that was never in his personality description. He’s mischievous but preternaturally jaded after growing up on the streets as an orphan for a few years, and then feeling totally tossed aside by his parents best friends and sworn family. He’s fully grown but emotionally still a kid, which is why his entire reaction of confusion after Xiaolongnu mistakenly thinks they slept together is totally legit and understandable. He doesn’t emotionally wise up until he reunites with Xiaolongnu again.

I really don’t know how Yu Zheng could make Chen Xiao anything other than the hottest wuxia hero ever to walk the Earth. Aesthetically speaking, Huang Xiaoming’s face might be chiseled perfection, but Chen Xiao hits me harder with the pretty. The above stills are from earlier this year when Chen Xiao got all wuxia-fied to play the male lead for an RPG game. A freaking RPG game video shoot could make him that gorgeous, and instead Yu Zheng turns him into a cheap two-bit beggar for a drama of RoCH. It boggles the mind, it really does.

Little Yang Guo and little Guo Fu are adorable though! The 2006 version of little Yang Guo was unbearable. One of the worst child actors I’ve ever seen. Conversely, the child actor who played little Wei Xiaobao in the 2008 Zhang Zhi Zhong adaptation of Louis Cha‘s Duke of Mount Deer (drama was called Royal Tramp) was hands down the best thing about that drama. He was so awesome! I was seriously in love with that drama during the entire first episodes when he was onscreen. And then Huang Xiaoming showed up, LOL. Here’s to hoping these two kids bring it.

Yelu Qi played by Zhang Zhe Han. Okay, he’s pretty darn gorgeous. And I just realized that he’s playing the Infante of Guang Ling in the upcoming Yu Zheng drama adaptation of Yun Zhong Ge. He should have been picked to play the Infante of Chang Yi instead.

Li Mo Chou played by Zhang Xin Yu. She’s quite bada-bing-bada-boom if you ask me.

Guo Fu played by Mao Xiao Tong. She’s playing Shang Guan Xiao Mei in Yun Zhong Ge. Quite a 180-degree character personality swap here to play a sociopathic spoiled bitch.

Zhao Han Ying Zhi as Cheng Yin.

Sun Ya Qi as Lu Wu Shaung.

Zhang Xue Ying as Guo Xiang. She’s so…..young. She’s a 1997-er which makes her actually 16 years old! I’ve always shipped a drama Guo Xiang with Yang Guo, but that is not happening here. It would be so pedo to ship her with Chen Xiao.

Above is renderings of the character outfits for the drama. The usual Yu Zheng tasteless style.

This is a really angry fan comic strip that came about after Michelle Chen’s casting.

About Xiaolongnu.

Carmen Lee‘s Xiaolongnu is to-date the one that most perfectly captures her aura.

Gives people the impression that Yin Zhi Ping (her admirer/rapist) lucked out big time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crystal Liu‘s Xiaolongnu is to-date the most dream fantasy-esque one.

Gives people the impression that Yang Guo lucked out big time.

Gu Gu is younger and more fresh-faced than Guo Er.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The soon to come Michelle Chen version, gives people the impression that she is going to luck out big time with Yin Zhi Ping.

A spoiler: Xiaolongnu drags a crying Yin Zhi Ping into the bushes, while Yang Guo averts his eyes and hugs his Giant Condor.

The three goddesses Idy Chan, Carmen Lee, and Crystal Liu. And then there was Michelle Chen. ‘Nuff said. Of the current crop of right-age C-actresses, there are so many I can list right off the top of my head that was leaps and bounds better suited to play Xiaolongnu. Not perfect, at least they capture the ethereal quality required. If we all are Earth-bound mere mortals, as is Michelle Chen, what we want is an extraordinarily beautiful screen goddess to play an extraordinarily beautiful novel goddess

Liu Shi Shi. She made a cameo appearance as the Yellow Robe Maiden in Zhang Zhi Zhong’s 2009 adaptation of Dragon Sabre and Heavenly Sword, the final book in the Condor Heroes trilogy. We all know the mysterious Yellow Robed Maiden is the great granddaughter of Yang Guo and Xiaolongnu. Shi Shi is gorgeous and a trained ballet dancer. She has the airy lithe physique and icy face to be XLN.

Gu Li Na Zha. She’s as close as a modern day goddess as it goes. Her face is too exotic to fit Xiaolongnu look but she’s drop-dead gorgeous and rocks all-white like no other.

Tong Li Ya. I’m surprised Yu Zheng didn’t pick her. From head-to-toe she screams Xiaolongnu to me.

Li Bing Bing. I personally think she’s now too old for this role, but she is a stunning woman. But Xiaolongnu needs to look more girl than woman.

Ying Er is too lush for Xiaolongnu, but looking back she was actually quite well suited to play the soft and feminine Princess Xiang Xiang in The Book and the Sword. Too bad she was such a bad actress back then, though she has gotten better. But she still gets flack, most recently when she was picked to play Xi Shi (one of Chinese history’s Four Classic Beauties) in the period drama Hero.

I really wished Crystal knew how to act, because God made her that beautiful so she could grace our screens. I’m seriously tired of the reverse howls of outrage over being unhappy with the casting of actors or actresses that physically do not fit the part as described in a very famous novel. Looks and acting ability are always open for critique when it comes to a professional actor or actress since those two attributes are fundamental requirements of doing their job.

If Yu Zheng really wanted a Taiwanese actress, any of these will do way way WAY better than Michelle Chen.

Janine Chang. A bit school marmish but has the icy aloofness.

Ivy Chen. This was when she played Xiao Die in the recent adaptation of wuxia writer Gu Long‘s famed Meteor, Butterfly, and Sword. She’s more pixie than goddess, but she can do a mean bitch face. But it’s pretty depressing if she keeps playing wuxia heroines that get raped. Even if they always ended up with the hero in the end.

Ady An. She’s been two Louis Cha heroines now – in the Zhang Zhi Zhong 2009 adaptation of Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre, she was Mongolian princess Zhao Min. She was also Miao Ruo Lan in the 2009 adaptation of Fox Valant of Snowy Mountain. For some juicy gossip – the male lead of Hu Fei in the 2006 Fox Valant was Nie Yuan, who was supposed to be Zhang Zhi Zhong’s Yang Guo in the 2006 RoCH. And it was acknowledged that Huang Xiaoming swooped in and stole the role. I really liked Nie Yuan’s Hu Fei and he lucked out because the way 2006 RoCH was directed, there was no way Yang Guo could be played anything less than sleazy.

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Comments

First Look at the Main Cast of the Chen Xiao Version of Return of the Condor Heroes — 28 Comments

  1. wow, ockoala, such a long posting and a whole bunch of pics! thank you very much ^ ^. Probably this will make me decide whether to watch it or not, and of course if there is any english subs available. Condor Heroes got so many versions, but I think none of it can hold the candle to the original one.

  2. Oh NO! I only read the first part of the post and didn’t have the heart to go on and even look at the pics.

    Now my favorite Jin Yong novel is LOCH and favorite hero is Guo Jing all the way but I will readily admit that Yang Guo is the most interesting male character of all wuxia (I’d love him as a friend, not as a b/f). My favorite female wuxia character is XLN. She is not only strong, smart and independent but also very kind hearted.

    I can’t simply understand why they’d want to modify a perfect love story where both parties overcome such terrible hardships and never lose their love to eachother.

    I have not seen any of the adaptations to LOCH or ROCH since I’m head over heels in love with both novels so this is kind of a slap in the face for me.

    Why change a perfect story? WHY?

    • Yeah.. I was gonna say I would pick any of the other female actresses!! Why couldn’t YZ just do the same?? Can we all just say this is some biiig troll by him? 🙁 I don’t wanna see Chen Xiao ending up with that kind of XLN… orrrr MAYBE Yu Zheng will pull a Swordsman on us and just gonna have a different end game anyway… hah.

      • I read on mookies that Michelle’s backer “might” have invested 8 million on the project.

  3. I heart Chen Xiao too but his version of Yang Guo has seriously too much man-bangs!
    It practically covers almost half of his pretty face; like WTF the hair/costume stylist really needs to be fired!
    I will not join in the rabid flaming of Yu Ma Ma’s XLN. She is supposed to be an eternal goddess and his version is certainly not.
    Gotta love the C-fans and their brilliant commentary… Thanks goodness the C-government has not managed to stem the creativity and humour of its citizens through its strict censorship!

    Lastly thanks Ms K for always keeping us updated with interesting ent news eventhough I reckon u’re a busy working professional. Appreciate all the effort you put in! (:

    xoxo

  4. So Michelle Chen’s casting is like settling for not the first, nor the second, but third best available actress around. Some kind of a lazy excuse if you ask me. Anyway, let’s not worry, the production pocket seems ready on its big budget to CGI effect all still shots of Michelle to make her thin & light as an air. The fees of these art directors would be higher than the actors. Why not just produce a 3D/anime version of ROCH instead?! It might go flawlessly perfect to viewers taste than the live one.

  5. YZ will NEVER pick LSS/Gu Li Na Zha (perfect choices though) since they’re Tangren property & they hate each other. *sobs* Gotta say that Tangren has the knack for picking pretty young female talents… & YZ is good at picking the males.

    I think the only chance we may get a good casting is probably if a neutral party takes this sucker up.

      • I also feel really bad for Michelle Chen, one bad choice from her and all the hate goes to her. She used to be known to be the goddess of many guys because she brings back memories of innocent first love, girl next door vibe during the Apple of my eyes movie but now she is known as the doughy version of XLN.

        I adore Michelle, she’s cute and young-looking for her age with an easy going personality but she’s just NOT XLN. My impression of XLN has always been super pretty woman that will make every person wow over her at first look. While Michelle Chen is the type that look like a pretty friend or neighbor you have in real life (I have a friend that look so much like her and she got a truck of guy suitors during her school days. Sounds so much like the story in 那年我們一起追的女孩, haha!)

        I’ll say it’s all YZ fault and my dislike for this guy is growing ever since I watched Gong(Palace) and seeing how he brings himself in his weibo, it’s like asking for more hate. I also think that 90% of the hate for YSS is created by YZ himself.

        I know that Michelle is not suited to be XLN but the hate on her is ridiculous, YZ have already picked her and nothing can be done anymore, netizens complaining more is useless, see YSS’s case for example.

        Also, I know that this is a personal blog of Miss Koala and I enjoy reading your insights and translation of news from time to time but sometimes I feel the rants I see on this blog commenting about the looks of some actress/actors are a bit ridiculous that lowers the quality of the blog and makes me as a reader feel bad. Then again, a blog is to publish personal opinion of the author and I’m commenting to express what I feel (just treat it as a useless feedback or whatever), I’m not trying to stop anything or criticize on Miss Koala.

  6. Wokay – after reading all the posts by Ms.Koala – decided not to watch this – instead goes back to watch my one and only beloved version – Andy Lau + Idy Chan version. Yeah, effects were not that good (compares to now) but at least it is 10 times watchable than this version … >_<

  7. In the beginning I was really upset Michelle was playing XLN but then I got over it and now that i finished reading your post I’m mad all over again! It’s really annoying? Is YZ blind? Does he just cast random people to play the role of XLN?
    Michelle is pretty and innocent looking but she should’ve never been cast as XLN

    I gotta ask this though Koala if it was between Michelle and Yuan Shan Shan who would you rather pick? I know i know they both SUCK! But out of curiosity

  8. It sure looks like a disaster in the making, but this way I might give the book a go. It sounds really cool plus it’s time to take interest in chinese literature. Honestly I checked out Chen Xiao’s photos and was sure he at least will look super hot, but was not expecting THIS. completely dissapointed. Can someone at least tell me what drama/RPG game is his ‘I have long hair and I make it look sexy’ picture from? He looks so attractive I have no words to describe it:)

  9. We have ESP. WE DO! WORDing all the rants on yuma. He’s done the impossible. Just when I’ve eased myself hey whatever is sinking this ship, CX can hold his own and I can always watch his cut like I’ve always do. How on earth does one fug up a CX in a period?! Not even a yuma, we ignorantly reassured ourselves. And now we’re served.

    ARgh. I would be as batshxt if Ady was cast as XLN, and lesser an extent Ivy. They are just not the frigid drop dead goddess type (and again, frankly I do not see the talent to overcome) even if they are repeated cast as such. *shrug* BUT they would’ve been better choice than MC. Janine will be passable, ShiShi can do well at the standard of a yuma production (ie can’t really take it too seriously) But I can’t drop the criteria a XLN needs to have the exact right chemistry with CX’s YG. SS is more miss than hit in chemistry with her leads, same with Janine.

  10. Oh dear gawd. I love Chen Xiao but what is he wearing? I’m sorry but I don’t care how much I adore CX but I’m not watching this one. I grew up with ROCH and Condor Heroes ’83 ones and no wayyyyy am I going to watch this crap? I was okay with the new ROCH ’06 but stopped because I cringed so much at Huang Xiao Ming as Yang Guo I stopped.

    Honestly I get that you guys feel bad for Michelle Chen for being XLN but it was her choice. She knew what she was getting into. My gawd, I can’t believe I say this but I rather have Angelebaby as XLN than Michelle. I never thought I would say that but at least Angelebaby is slim and has gorgeous aura while Michelle……..

    Michelle is average. She’s not pretty and not ugly. She’s standard. While XLN was above standard and was so gorgeous and while Crystal Liu was not the best at acting, I can look at her face the whole day. So pretty as XLN.

  11. Koala, do you think you played into Yumama hand? The more you write about how crappy this roch version is, the more tempted I wanted to watch it. Yumama can’t seem to evoke the passion of love from you, so he evoke your passion for hate toward him. Both benefit him in the end.

    On another note, XiaoLongNu is such a dead character to me that I really don’t care about her at all. Huang XiaoMing is so sleazy in ROch 2006 I was so turned off. But Chen Xiao seem like he can pull off the mischievious-yet-protector look so I cant wait to watch this version solely for him.

  12. I have no idea who Michelle Chen is, but she is not just not beautiful enough to be the XLN. XLN has always been (imo) a goddess. When she walks into a room, your eyes and attention are instantly turn towards her to her and her only. I honestly wouldn’t look twice at Michelle Chen if she was XLN.

    LSS on the other hand, gdi why isn’t she LSS? As beautiful as Crystal Liu, I want LSS as XLN in that version so bad! I thought if there was going to be another adaptation of this novel, LSS should play XLN. WHY DIDN’T THEY CONTACT HER?!

    And seriously, what’s going with Angelababy? She’s like everywhere these days. The girl is pretty, but as far as acting goes, she’s so bland.

  13. I just wanted to comment again and say God really blessed Crystal Liu’s face because I’m pretty sure she’s going to look the same even when she turns 80. She has such a perfectly beautiful baby face. /sigh I’m so jealous and sad right now.

  14. i just want to point out something funny. Koala. Did you notice that all of the supporting actresses are actually prettier and more XiaoLongNu-like than Michelle…
    hahahah the IRONY….

  15. AngelaBaby was never approached for the role. There were tons of rumors about it; however, she said that it was false. Poor Michelle, she is really pretty though. I think she’ll bring a different Little Dragon girl out because I know she is very very pretty and cute. We haven’t even seen the drama yet and I feel like everyone is already judging her on how she is not pretty enough. 🙁 When we watch a drama, we grow on the character and they tend to appear prettier throughout episodes. To me, I think she is really pretty and I think we should wait for watch the drama first before saying negative things about poor Michelle.

  16. I just can’t believe the person who picked Michelle to be Xiao Long Nu. If I am able to kick all the production teams ass, I will. They ruined this series big time. They should know that she is not suitable for that role.

  17. OH PLEASE…MICHELLE CHEN is at least better than the first two XLN! Also, the first two are too far off to be compared to Liu Yi Fei…she clearly tops then all in terms of character, grace, etc etc.

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