First off, the original novel was awesome. I only read the fan translations myself, but I remembered many of the storylines from my parents telling it to us as kids. Also, keep in mind this single series has been adapted 10 times, starting in 1959 with a movie. 5 movies, 5 tv series. Omg, was this series awesome. This newest one was not so much. I was talking about the original story novels by Lian YuSheng. He might has passed on, but his stories (that I could get a hold of) had begun to rival my
Legend of the White-Haired Demoness 白髮魔女傳
New Legend of the White-Haired Demoness (2012/2013)
So, where to begin? This version started awesome...and driveled off to complete and utter nonsense where it was just disgustingly disappointing!
For a story about Liang NiSang, the titular White Hair Demoness, the end almost had nothing of her. Instead of a strong-minded, hot tempered, warrior the was unbeatable...they turned her to a diseased(possessed, really), lovelorn, weak person. I'm sorry, no other way to describe her.
Why must they make her weak just for the male to seem strong? Freaking stupid idea. Also, this making women love lorn and toooooooooo self sacrificial. The 2012 TV series basically hopped onto the train of overly self-sacrificial women for the men they love and drove it into a mountain. Why not self-sacrifice for the greater good? Why does it always have to involve a man? It was so NOT like that in the novel.
The original Liang Ni Sang was more brash, straight-forward, and more selfish. Nothing like the character all over the media nowadays. None of that self-sacificing, enduring all forms of torture for their loved ones, and definitely not waiting around for people to change their minds. She was also hardcore about justice where she dealt out punishments she felt were warranted. Ni Sang loved a good fight and always worked to better herself.
What I loved about the Liang Ni Sang in the novel was that she thrived on her sense of justice and goodness. She would not tolerate any infractions. Her skills at the end was so powerful no one would've been able to beat her, minus one or two. She loved to fight. These were so different from the "usual" or "norm" of jianhu females.
Part of the novel was the point out how all of this was a double-edged sword. If a woman with all the vast capabilities and have the desire to be stronger or rule the world or save the world, then she's be cast as the villain. Even if she never went out to sought power, because she refused to follow the norm, she was cast as a bad person. Granted, in this world of jianhu, male and female characters with a lust for power tends to fall into the bad categories. I felt the novel really showcased the gender biases on top of social biases - how everyone's perception was so skewed.
Also, even at the end - the tragedy of them not being able to be together was also out of the norm. Ni Shan did not change into those overly forgiving females. Instead, even as her emotions got the best of her, she left. Avoided confrontation and continued on her life because she accepted what society (and in her mind, Zhao Yi Han) thought of her - evil. Despite not letting these labels rule her life, the tragedy was the Liang Ni Sang lost to the social pressure. It was part of her character flaw that remained and that was part of the tragedy of the whole story.
I know a lot of people were upset in the novel that NiSang would be so stubborn at the end and just left (myself included), but this was what make Bai Fa Monu Zhan so different from the stories out there. Her experiences and tragedy was that Liang Ni Sang herself was unable to see beyond the societal label of her 'demoness' to the point she easily believed her lover would think the same. It as tragic as with the other cool couple - Tie ShanHu sacrificing herself to save Lian Ni Sang (and co) and Yue Ming Ke choosing the life of a monk (which again, was so different from other male protagonists out there) as he gave up the earthly world of hate.
Here, in the novel, the men really and truly only stayed with the one person they loved. It might seem tortuously unfair that both couples were unable to be together in life and then separated by death (as I do believe that people can find love more than once), but it was also very romantic that a character/individual felt the love they had was more than enough for their lifetime and does not desire/seek/want any other love as it would pale in comparison...or even taint the memories of their love. Ok, that sounded quite odd. How about this? For some people, happily ever after did not mean they had to be with another person. Rather, having the love of their beloved was all the happiness they needed whether they were together forever or together for a moment in time.
I guess my biggest problem with this 2013 television series was how it changed from the novel (the tragedy of a strong independent woman) to some same-old-same-old drivel about self-sacrificing love, because in my opinion, it was not (self sacrificing love, that is). I think the one part that really really exemplified the problems with this show was literally in episode 9. Let me look for the scene...anyways, basically it was this:
Liang Ni Shan said that her sifu/master was correct, that men's love were selfish - the only way for them to be together was for her to make the sacrifices and leave to go with him...she goes on to say that if he truly loved her he would be able to leave behind everything (much like he asked her to do) and they would leave together and not tell her to go back to his cult/clan to explain herself and her cult. It might not make much sense like this, but I felt like it really showed a lot of problems many series had.
For this 2013 version, this speech was correct was what exemplified the key biggest problem of the characters. The Zhou YiHang of this series only ever loved selfishly. Even in the end, as he sacrificed his life to save her, he made the decisions without her input.
His love for his country, for his clan/family was greater than his love for her.
He had to finish HIS business first, even if he blackened her name in the process to protect her so she wouldn't get hurt...as if she was incapable of her own thoughts and strength. Even as he thought of her, he made the choices for her. Until all his stuff was done, rather than work together and be together, he then made the decision again to not tell her what to do and saved her life...cuz apparently he was supposed to be more powerful.
It's like, who cares your friends were the ones being held captive with knives to their throat, I won't let you in on what I'm doing because I can save everyone, including you...but oh noes, people were dying because there's no communication...
At one point, YiHang was told by one of the priest why he doesn't clear NiSang's name (she was accused of killing someone) and Yi Hang, our hero, actually said he does not want to at the moment because he doesn't want her to get involved and hurt. You. Arrogant. Selfish. Moron.
I was completely disgusted by this because it only showed how he not only does not trust the woman he supposedly loves more than his own life, but that he does not respect her at all. He'd rather the world hate her and ALL WANT TO KILL HER, rather than CLEAR HER NAME because evidently that'll protect her more than her being already involved with the politics...like her subordinates being captured and killed. As if she needed protection from herself and cannot make decisions/choices like the capable adult she was?!!!!
That's not love.
That's pure patronization. He did it again near the end when she asked him point blank and he's all, "you've done too much" blah blah blah all because he felt there were other things he needed to do and protect from it so he hates her, more blah. I was near head-explosion anger at that point.
In the end, this was his love - full of selfishness. Was sacrificing his life at the end supposed to wipe out all the pain she had to go through? That his final act after dealing with all the people he felt was more important supposed to make me feel better? If this was love, than I don't want any part of it. No one that truly loved each other would be so unwilling to communicate and make decisions together. So, as much as I repeated listen to the ending song and enjoyed this series, I cannot help but yell at the screen every so often (more so towards the end) at what'shisname to "get off your effing high horse! you're not doing anyone any favors you selfish piece of crap!!!" Then I start yelling at NiSang "he doesn't love you! get over him and take care of everyone one else you idiot!"
And I'm supposed to think he's cool? Um, no. He might have lost all his nerdiness, but he was not cool. Just annoying.
Just as she lost all get individuality and strength...
Also, what's with all this people loving people that don't love them? After a while, it just gets annoying. Then, suddenly, they love another. WTF?
I kind of get it with Tie San Hu and Yue Ming Ke since their romance was like a traveling romance. Their relationship built and grew. It kind of maintained that in the film, but at the same time...it was also more - I don't even know how to describe it - playful? It didn't feel as serious or as in depth as the novel. I mean, the original was rather tragic! Ok, I get that it would be weird visually with the flute and all as a distraction, but the Novel Tie San Hu had very high martial art skills. I really don't understand why that had to be changed. Also, Yue Ming Ke was never a part of the government. He was also never in love with Liang Ni Shan, thus leading me to...
One extra thing that really REALLY bothered me was all the weird additional love triangles. I don't even begin to understand the obsession, because it was obsession not love, that was being shelled out to all these people. Maybe it's just me (probably), but a lot of these relationships were very...um...unbalanced. How would all the weird love triangles do anything? What purpose did it serve other than physical (forced) conflicts?
Plus the part where it was akin to rape, but was masked as a unknown drugging by both parties. It wasn't even fully dealt with and was still somewhat glossed over at the end because all of the sudden, this woman had now fallen in love with this guy. Also, the discussion of aborting child from said act. So many weird problems I couldn't even begin to account for and I got so tired trying to figure out the current problems, I stopped attempting to tackle any new stuff.
Also, what was the point of changing the marital status of the Masters and their background? I enjoyed the pettiness of the original because it showed a rivalry in a married couple instead of the usual, where the wife always takes a back seat. Instead, it was turned on it's head into some weird love triangle, which didn't make much sense either. You see what I'm talking about? All these changes that no only didn't make sense, but make the story worse - like a really bad fan-fiction.
Now, let's tackle the very big and obvious one...the Demoness part of the series. Um, no it wasn't because she had a disease or her qi went wrong during martial arts training that made her a demoness. It was originally a critic on society, how they easily labeled a strong woman as a demon because she would not conform...would not fall into the accept world. The tragedy of it was she was just her, an independent strong woman. She was straight forward with her emotions and was able to back up herself. She would critic any wrongs she saw, including in the purglist society...those that said they were good people but acted in vain and horrible ways. Thus, she's a demon.
Here, they just made it some outside source of a "disease" condition...what. the. ----? So, let's remove the social commentaries and underlying depths. Instead let's make her some pitiful sad lonely woman that turns into a killing machine/demon to excuse her brutality in the series. They (new directors/writers/adapters) literally changed the entire end part into some fan-fiction. I mean, what. the. heck.
I am seeing that more and more, these writers/directors doing their own fan-fic of well beloved stories to fit into their ideologies. Get over it. You're not the writer of these characters. However good or bad, the changes were up to the original writer. You might be able to update it a little, but seriously, this was too much for me.
Why, you ask? (Probably not, but I don't want to shut up yet).
Basically all the characters were changed. Even some of the originals that were males were changed to females. People were giving elevated status or diminished status. A single character was split into two characters and turned evil, or depowered. Situations where the original characters were once very sympathetic became simply evil. A character that was a rapist and evil was turned into a bumbling idiot. A lot of the political aspects also felt overly simplified since it was completely changed. Different parts were downplayed and the timelines felt really weird. What a waste, was all I could think of.
As mentioned above, there was the whole change between character pairings, weird love triangles, etc.
I wanted to talk about the other couple major couple in the story - Tie Shan Hu and Yue Ming Ke... I totally understood why they made certain changes. They were the deeply tragic couple in novel. Yue Ming Ke was also much much cooler in the novel. Tie Shan Hu...well, they made certain changes where she no longer knew martial arts and she became like a damsel in distressed. Good thing they kept her keen mind, although she was more manipulative and much more of a pity party in the TV series. Especially towards the end. The writers and directors had such desires to show how Tie Shan Hu had changed and tried so hard to made her sympathetic, it just ended up making her sound like a selfish little girl halfway through. Which was kind of disappointing. The end kind of made it better, but still...as much as I wanted them all happy and alive and together, there were certain parts that should not be messed with.
Ah, such conflicting feelings and thoughts.
Let's end on a good note. No matter the weirdness and changes, it was still very well made. All the actions were very VERY good. You could tell that a lot of the martial arts were very real and the actors and actresses all worked very hard. There was no doubt the actors and actresses really put in the work for the martial art actions and sequences. It was seriously one of the better aspects of the show. I believed during interviews to promote the show, they were discussing on the main actor, Nicky Wu, would dislocate something, pop it back in himself and continued acting!!! O__o He would have to be forced to the hospital and the doctors would be like "this x-ray looks weird" before the doctors would even find out that it was self-relocated. X___X Talk about dedication!!!
Everyone was very dedicated and there were clips of behind the scenes of everyone practicing while they were on a break. So, no matter how terrible the storyline ended up being, I really appreciated and enjoyed the action. All the actors and actresses were very invested and I enjoyed it for the most part. I just needed to shut off part of my brain, hahahaha. It's a wonderful show to watch to just enjoy the actions, acting and costumes. I also enjoyed a lot of the scenery. The CGI was also pretty seamless for the most part. The ending song was so lovely, I still repeat it every now and then.
If I had to rate it, I'd rate 8 on the most part (acting, actions, costumes, scenery, etc.), and 2.5 for the storyline, so a solid 5. Yeah, I rated it. I rarely rate, but it warranted a rating.
Here's a link.
Here's the ending song.