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The Legendary Swordsman
MediaCorp/TCS 2000


  Steven Ma Jing Tao                Fann Wong                       Ivy Lee                 Chew Chor Meng
            as                                   as                                as                             as
     Linghu Chong                    Ren Ying Ying                  Yue Ling Shan               Lin Pingzhi

Jacelyn Tay as Dong Fang Bu Bai
Florence Tan as Lan Feng Huang
Chen Tianwen as Tian Bo Guang
Priscilia Chan as Yi Lin
Zheng Geping as Yue Bu Qun
Hong Huifang as Ning Zhong Ze(Mrs. Yue)
Liu Qianyi as Ren Wo Xing

After Return of The Condor Heroes 1998, starring Christopher Lee and Fann Wong, Television Corporation of Singapore (now known as MediaCorp), made a second attempt to film a serial based on famous novelist Jin Yong's works, this time choosing The Legendary Swordsman(State of Divinity).

During the period of filming, this show was widely publicized and much fuss was made over it. This serial bore great casts, where the TV station specially invited Taiwanese popular actor Ma Jing Tao to act as Linghu Chong, TCS 'er-ge' (No. 2) Chew Chor Meng, top 10 TCS actresses, Jacelyn Tay and Ivy Lee. And of course, not forgetting our local 'er-jie' (No. 2), Fann Wong who has hordes of die-hard fans here.

Touted by the local media as the mega blockbuster of the year, this show received high ratings for it's opening especially as people were curious about it. But then, as I watched on, I must say it's really a disappointment. No wonder the ratings went down subsequently. And criticisms kept pouring in....

Firstly, it was the costumes and hairstyles. I am sure those who have watched this serial can remember the noodle-hairstyle of Ma Jing Tao. Isn't LHC supposed to be dashing and carefree? But that look-like-spaghetti hairstyle...yucks!! Casting Ma Jing Tao as LHC is really a wrong decision. He tries too hard to act fun-loving, humorous but alas! Before this show was released, I remember reading in the newspapers, that Ma Jing Tao mentioned he will definitely be the best LHC. My god! So arrogant, I have thought. Wonder how did he feel when this serial received lots of criticisms. Although I don't really think highly of him, I do like his portrayal of Lu Dongbin in The Legend of the 8 Immortals and Green Grass by the River. This show(Green Grass) portrays an extremely young Ma Jingtao. In fact, I feel his best performance is in that Taiwanese serial.

Choosing Fann Wong was also a miscast too. Although she is quite-good looking, nonetheless, she looks too fragile and does not look devilish at all. And this is supposed to be one of the main characteristics of Ren Ying Ying. There are also no sparks betweem her and co-star, Ma Jing Tao. I felt nothing for their love. Seems so fake. In this serial, Ma Jing Tao even had better ( but only slightly)chemistry with Ivy Lee(Yue Ling Shan) or even Jacelyn Tay(Dong Fang Bu Bai).

In this serial, much emphasis was in fact placed on DFBB(the main villain here) who seems to be the third main character(after LHC and RYY). The opening scene showed DFBB fighting, or maybe I should say, just the blasting of rocks which make people dizzy. The producer also arranged for DFBB to have a special relationship with LHC. A love that never really started nor ended.... Jacelyn's acting was quite good just that she seems too skinny....

Actually, I was pretty upset that Chew Chor Meng, my favourite local actor has been cast as Lin PingZhi. I feel that with his status in S'pore, he should not have been given a supporting role only. All I can say now, there are no surprises in his performance. He seems so stiff in his acting here, unlike his other shows. Ivy Lee was convincing as the cute and a bit spoilt xiao-shimei. Its hard to tell that she is already a married woman with a son in real life. On a personal note, I actually hoped that the role of Yue Lingshan would be played by Ann Kok not because Ivy was not good but because I wish to see the onscreen pairing of the compatible Chew Chor Meng and Ann Kok again. (Hehe...they are one of my favourite local screen partners.) Priscilia Chan as Yi Lin was not bad too, given that she was only a new-comer at that time.

The producers practically twisted the whole storyline, making DFBB, Lan Feng Huang and Tian Bo Guang important characters, arranging for RYY to appear so fast(in the first episode!). I guess that's the way that TCS do just like in ROCH '98, they also arranged for Xiao Long Nu to appear so early. Because of Fann Wong?

The themesong, Hao Qing Xiao Jiang Hu, sung by Fann Wong has a not-too-bad opening tune. But I feel Fann Wong's voice is too weak and thin to bring out the wuxia feeling. The fighting scenes are horrendous too! As I have mentioned, there is only the blasting of rocks and people flying around. In a moment, someone just falls on the ground. I can't even see what is happening. But then I do like the special effects used when LHC displayed Dugu Swordplay. Whenever he displays the strokes, there is always like 9 blue swords appearing. Quite spectacular.

As for the Kuihua Baodian and Pi Xie Jian Fa, which every pugilist seems to be vying for, I see nothing special about the strokes. Perhaps the production crew should have done something about it.

The Legendary Swordsman - on the whole, a total let-down! I have thought TCS would have learnt a lesson from the previous adaption Return of The Condor Heroes '98 (ok, in fact, I think ROCH is better than this), but they repeated the same mistakes!! Miscasts, the inability to create the appropriate atmosphere, too much twisting of the original plot and the TERRIBLE fighting scenes! Could feel no excitement. No tension. No feelings for the characters portrayed.

All in all, this TCS production is one of the worst Jin Yong adaptations I have ever watched.

FACTS on The Serial

  • This serial garnered many nominations at the Annual Stars Awards 2000 (hong xing da jiang). It also received the highest viewership (still not impressive, though)for that year.

  • TCS 'san-jie'(No 3) Ann Kok was reported to have been offered the role of Yue Lingshan first. But she declined this offer as she don't want to be a supporting actress only. Thus in the end, this role was given to Ivy Lee who was also a bit apprehensive at first too. Coz she is already married.

  • During the period of filming, Jacelyn Tay who acted as Dongfang Bubai wanted to quit halfway, saying she had a personal reason. The whole crew was put into chaos. Steven Ma Jingtao ( a good friend too) was even said to have chided her for being irresponsible. Later, we all know that the 'personal reason' was that she had been declared bankrupt by the government due to dabbling in shares. Luckily, TCS managed to persuade her to stay on to try to settle her debts. Or else, they would have lost a good actress.


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