The TV series “The Legend of the Condor Heroes” is produced by Guo Jingyu, a 52-episode period costume martial arts drama directed by Jiang Jiajun. Starring Yang Xuwen, Li Yitong, Chen Xingxu, Meng Ziyi, Zhao Lixin, and Wang Kuirong. It is co-produced by iQiyi, Hua Ce Films, Perfect Jianxin Co., Ltd, and Perfect World Television Culture Co., Ltd. It premiered in the Oriental TV Weekly Theater in January 2017.
The drama started its production in March 2016, with a total of 100,000 people participating in the filming. The costs of the actors were less than 1/3 of the total investment. Despite starring new actors, the drama also gathered experienced actors including A-listed actor Wang Kuirong, and overseas actor Miao Qiaowei and Lu Liangwei. Among the older actors are skilled opponents including Shao Bing, Li Zonghan, and Han Dong. Among the younger actors, the main leads of The Ferryman, Liu Zhiyang, and Xiao Yin also had surprise cameo appearances.
During production, Guo Jingyu insisted on real natural locations. In the selection of shooting locations, the drama was made to resemblance as much to the description of Jin Yong’s novels as possible. In order to present a more realistic picture effect, the crew insisted on the actual scenery for shooting. Yellow River and Shilin area of Gansu province was chosen for shooting.
When choosing the main leads, Guo Jingyu decided to select new faces knowing this decision could bring risks to the production, but he was determined to break the walls of productions that strive on just fanbases, bringing justice to the true production. It took half a year to shoot, and the production officially wrapped in August 2016. Many casts went on Weibo to express their sadness.
“The Legend of the Condor Heroes” tells the story of Guo Jing, who enters the pugilistic world and eventually becomes a “Hero” through countless journeys and with Huang Rong’s help.
During the Song Dynasty, Guo Jing and Yang Kang, whose parents are murdered, are brought up by the Seven Freaks of the South and Quan Zhen Sect’s Qiu Chuji respectively.
Eighteen years later, Guo Jing goes to the South following his master’s order. However, Yang Kang, strongly driven by wealth, fame, and glory, regards the powerful enemy as his father.
Guo Jing falls in love with Huang Rong at first sight. However, due to his previous engagement to Princess Hua Zheng and opposition from his masters, the Seven Freaks of the South, their relationship encounters various setbacks. Guo Jing leaves Huang Rong in fury after his masters are brutally killed in Huang Rong’s home, the Peach Blossom Island. The two get together eventually after many drastic turn of events.
Yang Kang eventually dies from his deed under his father’s inherited spear. Thereafter, Guo Jing and Huang Rong travel throughout the lands, acquainting and learning from top martial artists, upskilling their martial arts techniques, and eventually manage to seek revenge for the death of Guo Jing’s parents and masters. With the “Book of Wu Mu”, Guo Jing inherits his mother’s wishes to be an upright man as he helps his fellow Han Chinese counter the impending Mongol invasion and saves the fall of Xiangyang city. The plot follows the couple’s adventures and their encounters with the Five Greats. The originally dull and honest Condor Hero has transformed and becomes a great man for his country and people.
Through word-of-mouth, the popularity of the show has continued to rise since the show’s first broadcast, becoming 2017 best remake of a costume martial arts drama. By the end of the finale, the number of viewerships on online broadcasts reached 4 billion. Douban score of the show reached 8.0 points. More than 60,000 people participated in the review and more than 76% of netizens praised it with more than four stars. Positive comments include “high similarity to its original adaptation”, “quick storyline progression”, “great location background” and “smooth techniques in the fight scenes”.
Both the male and female leads, Yang Xuwen and Li Yitong won the “Best New Actors/Actress” award in the 2017 Television Series of China Quality Ceremony.
The show also received the Annual Top 10 Golden Bud award for Online Drama Series on 2017’s Golden Bud Network Film and Television Festival.
“The Legend of The Condor Heroes” Reviews
“The drama retained its originality, compact storyline, and martial arts scenes, leaving a lasting impression on the viewers.” – Huanqiu
“The remake of this drama deserves recognition. For instance, removing the novel’s minor details without affecting the essence of the storyline. Besides being applauded for keeping it original, the emotions and theme song of the drama moved the audience too.” – Shanghai Morning Post, 163.com
“The drama was not draggy and instead focused on the message of integrity and justice. It delivers the message of the chivalrous spirit and positive human impact on viewers.” – 163.com
“While keeping the original storyline, the drama showcased the story in detail, and the martial arts scenes were displayed to perfection.” – China Daily
“Not only does the drama retain the original hero’s patriotism, but it also showcased the characters’ destiny and story development very strongly.” – 163.com
“The martial art spirit was fully shown with no exaggeration and this makes the drama more natural.” – Xinhuanet
“The drama strikes a perfect balance between artistic visual and logical reality, giving it an overall “visual comfort”. It also added the themes of swordsmen chivalry and heroism.” – Phoenix New Media
“The story stays loyal to the original. Compared with the most classic 1983 edition, this new version broke through a lot of technical limitations with its aerial photography, special effects, and other integration into the series with which the proportion of special effects comprise only 5% of the entire play.” Tonight News Paper
“This version of the TV series is all faithfully presented. Compared with the content, the soul and spirit of the “Condor Heroes” run through each episode.” Tencent Entertainment Review
“No flamboyant special effects, no big-name stars of the new series which set this as a classic adaptation of the model. The audience is given a new understanding of Jin Yong’s works and to re-experience the martial arts world.” Beijing Youth Net Review