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The Smiling Proud Wanderer
TVB 1984


   Chow Yun Fat                 Rebecca Chan                   Jamie Chic                        Dung Wai
          as                                 as                                 as                                   as
   Linghu Chong                  Ren Ying Ying                  Yue Ling Shan                     Lin Pingzhi

First of all, a little disclaimer. I watched this series in Cantonese with Mandarin subtitles, and I don't speak either language x) x) But I do have the novel in Indonesian and I read it only a couple of months prior to watching the series, so the story is still fresh in my mind. I even had the book in my hands while watching it. I knew the characters and their relationship with each other, I knew the plot, and with my little (very little) knowledge of Chinese characters, I knew the topic of each conversation (ok, here he's talking about his xiaoshimei, there they're talking about the Five Clans, now they're talking about the kungfu manual, etc.). Fortunately, the series follows the book pretty much faithfully, so I understood most of what's going on. But, I couldn't know what exactly is being said by each character and this of course lessened my enjoyment to some extent, so please bear this in mind when you're reading my review below.

Comparison with The Novel
SPW is 90% faithful to the novel. Added scenes are usually:

  • a visualization of something narrated by a character in the book. For example, Linghu Chong encounter with Tian Boguang and Yilin is narrated by Yilin in the book, but visualised in the series. Or, how Dungfang Bubai usurped the position of Sun Moon Sect leader, as narrated by Ren Woxing.

  • an extrapolation of an aspect of the story. For example, the book only mentioned that Liu Zhengfeng and Qu Yang are long-time friends, but the series tells about how they first met, how their friendship evolved through the years, and so on

  • just added scenes :-p Scenes to describe the relationship between Linghu Chong and his brothers. Scenes about the Sun Moon Sect, and the relationship between Ying-Ying and Qu Yang.

Chow Yuen Fat as Linghu Chong
Let me say I didn't like him from the first time he appeared, sleeping while Liu Zhengfeng came to visit. As the series progresses, I dislike him more and more. How CYF portrayed LHC just didn't match my image of LHC. In my mind, although LHC is laid-back and happy-go-lucky kind of person, he is smart and he commands respect from his brothers in Huashan, from heretic members he led in the Ying-ying rescue mission, from the Hengshan disciples... CYF didn't have all of these qualities. Also, he just didn't seem like a great swordsman (I'll rant about this later).
Oh, one other thing. Linghu Chong gets injured a LOT in the story, so a couple of times we get Chow Yuen Fat looking dishevelled, hair all out of place. Let me tell you, the words "dishevelled" and "Chow Yuen Fat" does NOT go well together x) x) and this irritates me to no end. I mean, how hard can it be to tie his hair in place? He is strong enough to walk, why not tie his hair back a little neater, for goodness' sake.

Rebecca Chan as Ren Ying-Ying and Jamie Chic as Yue Lingshan. They have this image of sweet, docile, pretty girls so they don't suit their roles very well.

Two complaints: Yue Buqun and Lin Pingzhi don't appear feminine in the final episodes like they're supposed to, Lao Denuo is too young.

I don't have specific comments for the other actors. Their roles in the Jin Yong trilogy are already imprinted deeply in my mind, so other roles they play just pale in comparison. Well, maybe I'll comment on two (or seven) more of them. Tao Gu Liu Xian (The Six Fairies of Peach Island) is annoyingly loud. What makes them funny is their mindless blabber, so my not understanding what they're saying is probably why I don't find them funny. On the other hand, I love Monk Bujie! The way he uses his shoe to fight, heehee, that's so hillarious. :D XD

Maybe I'm too used to the fights in modern kungfu films, like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, LoCH03, and such, where they are exciting, with quick moves, and sometimes spectacular to watch. The fight choreography in SPW is just plain dull. The fights are over too quickly, so they don't show the superiority of Dugu Swordplay. LHC just comes out as an ordinary swordsman who just happens to win. And what's with the Star Wars-like light-sabres for Pixie Jian Fa?

This is the most redeeming aspect of the series. I just loooove the opening themesong! I think it captures the spirit of XAJH perfectly! When I heard it, I had great expectations. It is unfortunate that the series can't live up to it.

Conclusion. An average adaptation, nothing more.

~Thanks alot to Femmy!~

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