Yu Zheng Trolls Michelle Chen with Gorgeous Supporting Actress Cast for Romance of the Condor Heroes

The 2014 drama year in C-ent didn’t just end with hilarious Cleavage-gate around The Empress of China, the much dreaded Yu Zheng adaptation of Return of the Condor Heroes (English drama title of this version is called Romance of the Condor Heroes) arrived and promptly confirmed the validity behind all the casting hullabaloo last year over Michelle Chen being cast as Xiaolongnu, the C-literary world’s undisputed “most beautiful woman in the entire wuxia world“. Even the few “wait-and-see” folks find it hard to claim Michelle was rightly cast for the role once the actual drama has now hit the airwaves and the miscasting is front and center.

Reportedly the entire drama is a hot mess so terribly written and directed it defies description, most of which comes from Yu Zheng rewriting characters and events, but also from Michelle standing out like a sore thumb with her visuals and acting interpretation, turning cool lissome Xiaolongnu into an aegyo-prone giggly teenager. The media and netizens are having a field day digging into what makes her so wrong for the role, compounded by Yu Zheng packing the rest of the drama cast with a veritable eye-popping collection of C-actresses who all exhibit the classical Chinese beauty that Michelle’s style doesn’t convey. Whatever Michelle wanted to do in picking a challenging different role, she maybe wasn’t signing up to be thus trolled by Yu Zheng in her supporting and cameo actresses.

I wrote about this drama casting and filming last year and shared my opinion then, so take this post as a conclusion to that saga now that the drama has aired. I did watch one episode and laughed so hard I snorted tea up my nose. It’s not just Michelle that is bad, handsome sparkling Chen Xiao as Yang Guo is also a ridiculous joke even if he has the looks to pull off the character’s visuals. The C-media and netizens are all laugh-watching the drama and laughing at it, with weekly updates about which new supporting or cameo actress has arrived onscreen to outshine Michelle yet again.

I would feel bad for Michelle except she accepted the role knowing what the literary requirements were for portraying the character. The consensus isn’t that she’s ugly or objectively unattractive, the feedback remains that Michelle’s looks and aura are normatively not suited to be Xiaolongnu, much like C-fans also think renowned C-actress beauty Fan Bing Bing (currently the busty Empress of China) would also be wholly miscast as Xiaolongnu. Check out all the other ladies in Condor Heroes 2014 to see what stable of beauties Yu Zheng surrounded Michelle with.

Zhang Xin Yu as Li Mo Chou.

Yang Rong in her cameo as Mei Chao Feng.

Tong Xuan in her cameo as Lin Chao Ying, founder of the Ancient Tomb Sect.

Zhao Li Ying’s cameo as Yang Guo’s mommy Mu Nian Ci.

DId Yu Zheng intentionally miscast Michelle Chen as Xianglongnu, then compound the miscasting by surrounding her with gorgeous supporting and cameo actresses, in order to garner negative attention for the drama as a selling point? It sure looks like it.

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Yu Zheng Trolls Michelle Chen with Gorgeous Supporting Actress Cast for Romance of the Condor Heroes — 52 Comments

  1. why do they kept on remaking this story?nyway i really love michelle chen i you are the apple of my eyes..and she really looked so young in that film..I hope she can choose much better films…

  2. i really love return of the condor heroes, it’s the firstchinese drama that i watch, for me yang guo is forever andy lau n the lady is her partnert in that drama i don’t know her name, i couldn’t see another cast

  3. There were comments about it last year saying that Michelle Chen was locked in as XLN, as her company funded the drama production. If true, maybe casting all these actresses exhibiting the classic Chinese beauty, is a subtle or underhanded form of revenge or opposition. hehehe 🙂

  4. I won’t say she’s objectively unattractive, but she’s not attractive either. The thing is for this particular role you definitely have to look ethereally pretty. And considering that the previous XLN is Crystal Liu, people are definitely going to make comparisons. Honestly, Chen Xiao looks too feminine for the YG role as well (and I personally don’t find him good-looking), but he’s not getting hate because Michelle is a bigger miscast. The funnier thing is that Yu Zheng claimed that she totally looks the part when the stills were released.

  5. Lol, Michell Chen looks like the chamber maid amongst the bevy of aristocratic beauties.

    I got no sympathy for the stubbornly deluded. She and the production team should have known better.

  6. Wow. Zhang Xin Yu is really pretty, as are the other girls. I feel bad for Michelle but if she’s bad (not just because of her looks) then that’s on her because this is an iconic character, not a new role. I can’t imagine Xialongnu has aegyo-ish in any way, ever.

  7. Return of the Condor Heroes had always been my top favorite series. When they cast this drama, I knew right away it was off. Michelle was horribly wrong for the role. When I started watching (only for the sake of ROCH), I was astonished in all the mess they did. Flashbacks, giggly Xiao Longnu, and a misscripted plot that even made the previous banned(?) TVB version (the one with Black-dress Xiao Longnu) better in comparison.I feel bad for the whole supporting role and the production team (minus the director) because their abilities were wasted in this one. 🙁

    • Return of the condor hero is one of my favorite series. But this time Michelle ruined it. I am not going to watch this series. She is not suitable for the role of xiao long nu. She is to ulgy for that role. The production teams are mess up.
      I just can’t believe it. Hopefully the up coming one in the future they don’t pick someone like Michelle.

  8. Wow… All the other ladies r so much prettier than Michelle. Sad.
    I actually watched a little bit of the show and Michelle looks homey n pale. She’s forgettable. Kinda blends into the background.

  9. I couldn’t even bring myself to watch an episode of the drama. Looking at this video, I’m glad a stayed away. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4_iMjCz2HI

    It doesn’t take much acting prowess to play Xiaolongnu, but you have to have this icy aura to pull it off. I remembered watching the different versions of RotCH and it was always such a treat to see her smile. Xiaolongnu is not aegyo. Can’t tell if it’s Michelle or Yu Zheng’s fault for totally misinterpreting the character. Someone needs to make a 2015 version to cleanse us of this awful adaptation.

    • throughout all the negative remarks and stones throwing episodes beginning from news of the casting, i have tried not to judge Michelle Chen and refrained from adding to the negativity.

      however, watching that youtube vid just split my sides.

      and yes, i feel very sorry for Michelle – she’s been miscast (and maybe deliberately by Yu Zheng, the @@@h@le, for the purpose stated by OCK) and does not deserve all the humiliation heaped on her.

      The characterization in this version of ROCH is not Michelle’s fault either, it’s in the script and follows director’s orders.

      poor thing.

    • I refuse to watch this so-called “adaptation” of a Jin Yong classic, but I’ve heard a lot about the changes made by Yu Zheng. The rape scene is still included, as it is an event that moves the plot, but the rape scene was portrayed as romantic and as something that Zhen Zhibing was “forced” to do as he was somehow given an a aphrodisiac.
      Yu Zheng also included a bunch of love stories for all the major martial arts leaders, which was totally unnecessary. For example, he brought in Mei Chaofeng, who is not related to RoCH at all, and made the arc that Huang Yaoshi and Mei Chaofeng had feelings for one another. Huang Yaoshi deeply loved his wife, and Mei Chaofeng loved her husband Chen Xuanfeng greatly. Why would Mei Chaofeng have a relationship with Chen Xuanfeng (which is against Huang Yaoshi’s rule of his students not having relationships), leave Peach Blossom Island with him, and steal the Nine Yin Manual if she had feelings for Huang Yaoshi? He also changed Mei Chaofeng’s background to that she was a girl raised by wolves (“Sound of the Desert” much?). According to LoCH, she was a maid who was saved by Huang Yaoshi when her master tried to rape her.
      I can kind of stand Yu Zheng and his romance dramas like “Female Prime Minister”, but his degradation of Jin Yong’s classics is almost criminal.

  10. I didn’t expect too much from this drama but thought I’d try an episode or 2. Now @ ep 24, I’ve grown very fond of this show. I can finally see why they chose Michelle for little dragon maiden. She can hold her own amidst the many other nice faces. She actually stands out as someone who grew up secluded & surreally innocent. Her dimples help too. The show held my interest far better than “Love in the Desert” which I quit after 14 or so eps.

    I really enjoy watching this new remake of Condor Heroes. (Although I wish Yanggwor should be more handsome.)

  11. I personally think she’s real pretty. However the aegyo is a terrible idea but I blame the director for that foolishness

  12. I feel bad for Michelle, yes she’s an actress, yes she chose this role, and perhaps she even knew the outcome. But national ridicule and the reality that she was seen as a failure before she uttered a sentence is just sad. The idealized XLN does call for an ethereal icy beauty and the fact that she couldn’t overcome that image with the caliber of her acting (which I wouldn’t know or be able to judge because I couldn’t give zero Fs for Yu Zheng’s fiasco) is disheartening. But hey, she had the balls to try, so that’s commendable.

  13. hmmmm after watching i actually find michelle chen beautiful though.
    She has this pure beauty aura and will be more suitable for Xiao Long Nu if her hairstyle wasn’t so ridiculous and given more beautiful costumes.
    I find it unfair that the other women in the drama were given nice hairdos and outfits while Michelle Chen was given the servant like costumes.

    Although in my opinion she should be cast as Rong Er in Legend of Condor Heroes instead cos she is cute and pretty

    • (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`) lemme cry some bloody tears. ‘Cute’ and ‘pretty’ for some is not most crucial for a RongEr, it is the oozing of wit from just a flick of lashes, not nailing which will break a RongEr MC is sooooo clumsy in her period mannerism she can’t even walk elegantly even in a back shot of her bubbling around the tomb. Let alone passably doing any, any wuxia moves. It takes so much rare skill I’ve seen no hint of fr her to be able to play a 16 yo as a 30sth convincingly without coming across as retardedly delusional as she did.

  14. the best xiaolongnv is Hong Kong TVB 1995 version’s Carman Lee. She is the most beautiful XLN and resembles the novel the most in my opinion and also in most people’s opinion as reported often in news. Crystal Liu, Idy Chan and Fan Wen Fang’s versions are not bad too, they have their own supporters.

  15. I think the main problem here is how Michelle wasn’t able to capture the role of XLN and completely misinterpret her role. Having watch many adaptations of this, I am very tolerable of each versions and try to find something good to take from it. But this one, she completely butchered my XLN. I felt like she didn’t even try. That’s the sad part.

  16. ROTCH was one of my favorite classics. I actually really like the role of XLN. She has has so much class & dignity that not even born royalty can be compared to her. She may be sheltered & naive of the outside world, but she’s not stupid. Her out-of-this world beauty is part of the package. If you take any characteristics out the character, then that is no longer XLN. I have loved both of TVB, & Crystal Liu’s version. I tolerated the Singapore version & barely tolerated Richie Ren’s version. But I can’t stomach this latest version. XLN is just all wrong, from the looks to the personalities. She’s more like a lovesick infatuated teenager that you find in today’s idol drama. Ugh – makes me cringe. I have nothing against Michelle. I like her in other dramas but not in this.

  17. Yeah, I definitely agree she’s a big big miscast. She isn’t unattractive, but isn’t on the “gorgeous”, “breath-taking” side, and most definitely the thing about her aura just doesn’t match Xiaolongnu. She has a cute look to her no matter how they try to style her, which just doesn’t suit the character (for me anyway). When I saw that she was leading the show, I was like…what????

  18. The saving grace here is Guo Xiang. She’s gorgeous; and as always very spirited.

    The other character I watch for is Lu Cheng Ying.

    Finally, Li Mo Chou is actually delightful this time around.

    So, yes, I watch ROTCH only to watch these three characters. (Sorry, XLN, you got outclassed.)

  19. her hairstyle is so fugly!!! i feel so bad for michelle chen. she will look so much better without that stupid hairstyle and her outfits are too plain. she’s actually a good actress. i’ve watched until eps 22. it’s actually not that bad but some scenes are really hilarious XD

  20. Well, from Michelle Chen’s perspective of course she will take this role since it was offered to her. Who else would cast her as “Little Dragon Girl”? If you were an actress and someone offered this coveted role would you not just jump at the chance and say the heck with the media?

    I do have to say, I tried watching Michelle’s version, but it was too bad. Unfortunately, I still think the Andy Lau version is much better than any other version that came after.The “Litte Dragon Girl” in Andy’s version was the prettiest and captured the role the best plus the songs from Andy’s drama captured the ROCH so well!

    The next would be Crystal just by looking at the photographs since I never saw her version, everyone else just didn’t look right. I didn’t feel Carmen was right for Little Dragon girl either, she looked so…European or more western and didn’t look right in a ancient drama. I stopped following all other remakes of ROCH since no one ever seems to look right.

    • Yes, I know of one actress who would have turned down the role—Gao Yuan Yuan; and she’s only two years MC’s senior, yet, look so much better in ancient costume than MC.

      I wouldn’t have minded at all if ZY chose a relative newcomer like Zhang Xue Ying as XLN. Anyone is less ‘enhancement’ over MC.

  21. i’ve never watched previous roch adaptations before so this is the 1st time watching and knowing the characters… i actually find michelle chen the 2nd prettiest in the cast, with the 1st one being zhang xin yu, she is really breathtaking and is a scene stealer. ofc her outfit and hair helps. the other girls (besides yang rong) does not really match up to michelle chen’s visuals imo, either they fall short somehow (avg looks) or bc they look somewhat plastic-y. i am actually enjoying michelle chen’s role in this show and look forward to her scenes (i saw the happy camp ep with the cast and i would say she looks the best out of costume among the other women), i do agree with others that say she is not icy or a stunner. if that is what XLN really is, then she is miscast and they should’ve gave that role to zhang xin yu. bbbbut i am watching this as a standalone so i don’t mind

    • Let’s see, Zhao Li Ying certainly beats out Michelle Chen on the beauty front, so does Dong Xuan.

      In fact, any of the supporting actresses would have been a better choice for XLN than MC; and while we’re at it, especially since MC is 33, I would have preferred Gao Yuan Yuan as XLN.

      (I bet if approached, GYY would have turned down the role because she is more classy and humble than MC.)

  22. I’ve watched almost all versions of ROTCH and felt that no one fits better into the character of XLN as Liu Yi Fei (Crystal) did. People who said that she was too emotionless for that role have no idea what they are talking about? Like someone argued here, XLN’s character is supposed to be icy cold, sort of emotionless to everyone save YG, – LYF played the character impeccably. Also, it bugs me when people say LYF was too young as XLN. In the novel, XLN supposed to be only 4 years older than YG but should look younger than him. XLN possess an 18-year old maiden look throughout the whole novel because she sleeps on the jade bed, which preserves or even enhances her youthful beauty. At that time, LYFwas 18 year old playing the role, so that was PERFECT! ROTCH is my personal favourite classic, I’ve been watching the 1983 version since I was a little kid, story and acting wise, I would prefer Andy Lau’s version any day but in my opinion, Crystal Liu is by far the best XLN. I agree with many that while Carmen may be the prettiest XLN ever, she doesn’t portray the character as well as Crystal (and again, its my personal opinion).

    On point about Michelle Chen, however, while I won’t go as far as to call her ugly or fat, she is certainly no XLN in my books. I went into the series trying my best to be positive, considering my love for ROTCH, but hey… every episode with Mich Chen was so unpleasant to watch that it offends every fiber of my aesthetic sensibilities. Now that I’ve, barely, dragged myself through the end of the series, I believe I’ve earned myself a right to say this: Yu Zheng’s decision to cast Michelle Chen was beyond stupid. It show a derivative, illogical, and ultimately lazy effort whose script is about as subtle as a swinging butt of a rifle to your head. Michelle Chen is easily the worst XLN ever, period. (never thought I would say this, considering my hate for Jacklyn’s black-dressed XLN). I am one of those guys who would never stop loving ROTCH and always dreamed of a better remake in future. Back in 2006 when the Crystal Liu’s version was released, I was weeping with joy and purring in ecstacy, despite feeling that they could’ve done a better job with the series. It took approximately, 8 years for me to witness another remake and you can only imagine my comfort and delight when I first heard about it on news. But hell, I was so wrong. Given the choice, I wish this version never get to see the light of day but now that it has.. I pray to the stars and moon and sun, please for the love of God, some kind-hearted soul out there would pick up this series and make a better adaption soon.

    Personally, I would rank LYF>Idy Chan>Carmen>Fann>Jacklyn>Michelle.

    People should really understand the character of XLN before jumping into conclusions.

    Sincerely,
    A Huge Fan of ROTCH

    My curriculum vitae (CV):
    The Return of the Condor Heroes 1983: Watched 6 times
    The Condor Heroes 1995: Watched Once
    The Return of the Condor Heroes 1998 (SG version): Watched Once (barely)
    The Return of the Condor Heroes 1998 (Taiwan Version): Couldn’t bare to finish
    The Return of the Condor Heroes 2006: Watched 3 times
    Romance of the Condor Heroes 2014: Watched once (agonizingly)

  23. I got a chance to watch this drama series just weeks ago. Comparing the different version from years ago to now, I must say it still never fail to excite me.

    If we look at it in a objective way, the Yu Zheng version does have it’s own merit. Similarly, I believe his choice to have Michelle Chen as XLN is not a bad choice either. The mass negative comments on choosing Michelle Chen as XLN being is simply too harsh and overboard. Whoever dictate that XLN must be projected as absolute cold? The perception of beauty is also a very subjective matter. From her acting of the role of XLN, she has brought us to another dimension of what XLN might be if not sterotyped. Hence, it provided a total fresh feeling about this character. I love it! For that part, I think she has succeeded.

    On the whole, this serie is worth your time watching.

  24. I have always always admired the Condor Heroes series, especially the first two, where by Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre did not appealed to me more than the first two did.

    Main reason i watch them was for the action and acting. i never ever had complained about how a characters look like in all the adaptation i watch. but this one, i just cant. its like a mindfuk to me.

    seriously, when the people inside said this very phrase of “how could such a beauty still exist in this world” i was like, what? come on, that look do not deserve that title. even li mo chou could easily take it away from her if you take away her evil eye brows and her hair style.

    but non the less, i’m watching it and i’m abit disappointed on the casting and some of the CG. the boat riding part is damn fake, condor could be done better, ice lake is like so freakin fake, its 2014 and i expect a better CG to be done.

    the story itself is always good, thanks to the author of the series. best part about this is Guo Jing. totally loves him.

  25. Well I dont know why there are so much negative comments on Michelle Chen. Must a remake be the exact same as the previous one? I am not chinese but I’ve watched the 1995 version. It is true that XLN should be icy cold except for YG. But watching this new version is refreshing. Well XLN is a teenager, and so is YG..so how long can XLN must be icy cold? She should be more like a young girl, i think. I personally like their acting. Maybe other supporting actress can do better, but I will watch them anyway. Theres a positive side in everything. Chill.

  26. Well.. it pains me to watch Michelle Chen at the beginning.
    I love Michelle. And she is so out of depth here.
    Even Huang Rong looked more refined than her.

    But as it became clear to me that this version has no intention to honor the original story, I began to see her portrayal of XLN as a standalone version that does not need to be compared to others.
    And among all the other classic beauty type of supporting characters, she was different in her own way. Yeah maybe I am biased lol.

    I thought the series improved towards the end when Guo Xiang appeared.
    Michelle looks better after 16 yrs. So does YG (who used to irritate me big time every time he speaks).
    The melancholic palm did him wonder.

    Zhou Bo Tong was really good! And Guo Jing was charismatic.
    Always love seeing Christopher Lee. It must be nostalgic for him. If only Fann Wong also have a role here.

    And as far as troll is concerned, I must say Guo Xiang aka Da Long Nu, for me, was the ultimate troll. This 18 yrs old actress is a joy to watch.
    What a little east heretic.

    Had she been born 20 yrs earlier following her wish, she would have given Michelle’s XLN a bloody good run for her money.

  27. for the first time in condor heroes, li mo chou is more beautiful than xiao long ni. how could this happen ? Zhao Li Ying is more suitable to be xiao long ni

  28. Romance was the driving force of this version. It shows some of the supporting actresses’ characters having romanctic feelings for Yang Guo. This leads to them helping him, most notably Cheng Ying played by actress Zhao Hanyingzi. Gosh I adore her.

    Romance shows itself in many of the other characters. Yang Guo encounters these characters and listen their stories. This makes Yang Guo realize how important love is and it makes him defy the traditionalistic world in order to be with Xiaolong Nu.

    I like this version’s Yang Guo and Li Mo Chou more. I also warmed up to Michelle Chen’s Xiaolong Nu. I don’t know what the hate is all about but damn, some of you guys up there need to get over yourselves.

    The ending scenes were given justice unlike the 2006 one. Overall i enjoyed it because was a different take for this novel. It made me warm and bubbly inside and it gave me closure.

  29. I have watched the two TVB versions of ROTCH, the 2006 China version, and about 10 episodes of this version. Crystal Liu in the 2006 version is definitely the best XLN, in terms of looks and the mysterious aura she portrayed in the way she fought. There will never be a better YG than Andy Lau in the 1983 TVB version.

    I usually don’t mind back stories, but the one I saw in this version were too different. Li Mochou was supposed to have left the Ancient Tomb to seek out her lover who she already met, against the wishes of her master, and was kicked out. She didn’t sneak out to have fun. Also when she went to seek out Lu after 10 years, Lu and his wife had already died. Li Mochou killed Lu’s brother and sister in law. The two young girls were the brother’s daughter and a cousin.

    Viann Zhang is very beautiful playing Li Mochou, and is a pretty good actress. She probably would have been a better XLN. Her sexy reputation as model, and negative news about her personal life may have affected people’s perception of her being an innocent XLN, so they cast her as the villianous Li Mochou. I like Michelle Chen, but she was definitely miscast as XLN. She seems more suitable for modern dramas.

    Read there are some other outrageous back stories in the comments. Got to see how bad it gets. The special effects during fights turn off some people, but it keeps me interested. I got to admit, the fight scenes with XLN in this version are not close to the dance like fight scenes that Crystal Liu (a dancer since youth) had in the 2006 version.

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