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The Many Criticisms of Yu Zheng’s “Swordman”

By on February 8, 2013

The Many Criticisms of Yu Zheng’s “Swordman” thumbnail

Above: Dongfong Bubai (Joe Chen) and Linghu Chong’s (Wallace Huo) romance take center stage in “Swordman”.

Long awaited wuxia drama, Swordman <笑傲江湖>, an adaptation of Jin Yong’s (金庸) The Smiling, Proud Wanderer by one of China’s top television producers, Yu Zheng (于正), finally made its debut on February 5. Not only did criticisms about its cast not die down, it has increased in volume over the miscast, especially that of bubbly Joe Chen (陈乔恩) as the main villain, Dongfang Bubai, as well as the subversion of the characters.

Dongfang Bubai Takes Over Female Lead

Since March last year, when news of Yu Zheng’s adaptation was reported, the online community was puzzled by his casting choice for Dongfang Bubai. Even though the villain was a castrated man who later turned feminine, the choice of the cute Joe Chen did not sit well with the public. Also, unlike the novel, Yu Zheng has included a love aspect between Linghu Chong (played by Wallace Huo 霍建华) and Dongfang Bubai, which increased the screen time of Joe Chen over female lead, Ren Yingying (Yuan Shanshan 袁姗姗). Yu Zheng explained, “We just want to include a dramatic irony in the show. Just when Yue Buqun wants to be the most formidable man in the world, Dongfang Bubai who is already one, seeks love instead.”

Yuan Shanshan’s Ren Yingying Ridiculed

Yuan Shanshan said that she is not afraid of being overshadowed by Joe Chen. Believing that every role plays an important part in the drama, Shanshan feels that the screen time for Joe Chen is justified.

Shanshan herself was not spared of verbal attacks from the online community. A netizen cruelly called her the “disfigured” version of Ren Yingying. Another said she possesses “sausage lips”. Claiming to be good at self-ridicule, Shanshan said she is equally good at filtering out the bad comments.

Subversion of Blue Phoenix

Besides Dongfang Bubai, the role of the Blue Phoenix also received heavy flak. In Swordman, the role of the Blue Phoenix is played by Kelsey Lu (吕佳容), who was a buck-teethed ugly girl, unlike the original Blue Phoenix who was supposed to be charming and beautiful. Kelsey explained, “Blue Phoenix was ugly initially. After a face lift, she will become a beauty.”

Not only that, the revised Blue Phoenix is man-crazy. Besides having a relationship with Linghu Chong, she will always act silly and crazy whenever she comes across a handsome man. Blue Phoenix will be the character to provide much comic relief, which was originally provided by another character, Tao Gu Liu Xian. She will also be taking on the characteristics of 7 other roles from the novel in Yu Zheng’s drama adaptation.

Wuxia Turned Love Story

There are also netizens who worried that the addition of the extra love scenes between Linghu Chong  and Yue Lingshan (Yang Rong 杨蓉), Ren Yingying , and Dongfang Bubai will turn the wuxia drama into a melodramatic Qiong Yao love story instead. Yu Zheng said, “There are so many fighting scenes in the series. I want to add some love elements but it’ll take up only a quarter of the whole show. So this is still mostly a wuxia drama.”

Source: QQ.com

This article is written by Karen for JayneStars.com.

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  • Readers' Comments (65)

    1. Funn Lim says:

      I am confused if DFBB is a woman turned man turned woman or a man turned woman.

      I am more confused by Joe Chen is DFBB. If you hear her real voice and accent you will feel are they doing a campy version of DFBB.

      Anyway haven’t watched yet but my feeling is I won’t like this RYY because frankly the actress.. I don’t like, at all.

      • advo says:

        I think DFBB is a woman pretending to be a man in this version. It could have been an interesting change, but you know Yu Zheng only did it so that she can have a romantic relationship with LC.

        YSS is a bad actress, in addition to having gotten so much plastic that her face can’t emote.

        I read that JY have said this adaption is the closest to his novel, LOL.

        • Funn Lim says:

          JY may be suffering from dementia. Surely he remembers his own book don’t he? No?

          How convenient eh. And how would a tiny little woman pretending to be a castrated man can have so much power? And so the kung fu will turn her from she to he issit? I wonder how does one grow.. never mind! Yuzheng, I HATE YOU!

        • skinnymocha says:

          ^ Haha, why would you grow one just to lop it off? Ooph, I would save myself the pain. Anyway, this is one messed up storyline. At least Yuzheng is keeping up his reputation…

          —————-

          “I read that JY have said this adaption is the closest to his novel, LOL.”

          Eh, really? The same man who banned TVB as they deviated too much from his books?! How could he…

          I still like the 96 version best.

        • Fox says:

          JY lost his mind recently, really so. He edited to make Yang Guo and Xiao Long Nui nothing but a romansick couple, and many freaking funny things. Read the new versions of the novels, they are so laughable

        • sorrow says:

          DFBB should be a man after he manage the power/kungfu (whatever you call it), he becomes feminine

      • HeTieShou says:

        I thought he was a man but he learned that kung fu that made him castrate himself so he turned into a eunuch type of character?? But hey, I can be wrong since I am not fond of this story so did not read it.

        • Fox says:

          Yup, he learned that kungfu that required him to cut his “asset” and turn a transexual. Lin Bing Zhi also cut his “asset” but dun turn transexual.

        • Funn Lim says:

          That is because DFBB was gay to begin with because I read he has a male lover?

        • Fox says:

          DFBB isn’t really gay, he has the mind to think of himself as a lady after practicing this kungfu. Maybe the kungfu of Lin Bing Zhi hasn’t reached to this standard.

          DFBB is called wat in ancient term? Evil-human?

      • ita says:

        I only watch one episode and just realize how bad Joe Chen acting is. In the past she can pass for idol drama. But in XAJH, OMG, she just ruined DFBB.

        • HeTieShou says:

          I don’t think Joe Chen is a bad actress but maybe she is just not fit the role of DFBB… Some are more suitable for certain roles than others…

        • Funn Lim says:

          She is not a bad actress but she is a total miscast as the DFBB we all know. And even we see DFBB in a sort of YZ updated DFBB, I am not convinced at all she is a highly skilled, ruthless kung fu fighter AND a very very powerful person that people are scared of. It was like a pretty girl playing dress up.

          So far everyone’s acting is like expected and I am not impressed. It didn’t feel like a wuxia series.

          And I am wondering what does JY feel about this one or is he being fed with love potion by YZ?

          YZ ah YZ… every production is between very good to total crap which is far ranging but when he is 100% into production (meaning no outside interference) it is undeniably 100% crap. However I will shift my focus and enjoy this series as a fantasist sort of series instead of any deep emotional impact. The bad dubbing, echo and the casting decision stripped off those impact for me.

        • Yu says:

          I think people are more annoyed at the fact that a female is playing DFBB. But has anyone seen the movie version with Jet Li and Bridgette Lin? Though BL was a female, I thought she pulled off the role of DFBB well despite being a lady.

        • vhe says:

          Saying Joe Chen a bad actress is seriously harsh, do you really give her the opportunity?? do comments after see her entire performance!!
          But hater always a hater. -Note this Joe maybe not the best choice but she is a undeniable talented actress.

          I agree. I think there was a lot of criticism around Joe Chen when they changed DFBB into a female in this version. But I honestly don’t think she should be judged because of that. I think she is doing a great job so far in the role. I’m really impressed. There are definitely some scenes in the trailers I’ve seen that give me goosebumps, her chemistry is definitely working really well with Wallace. If anything, I’m looking forward to her scenes with with LHC, more than RYY.

          There was a interview clip I saw where the director talks about LHC and his relationships with the three female leads:
          -He says that Yue Ling Shan is LHC’s first love, which is sweet, innocent and naive.
          -Then he says DFBB is LHC’s biggest love, the most dramatic. Where he falls in love with her and hates her at the same time, and they have a bittersweet relationship. They love each other, but nothing else is compatible between them.
          -Then RYY is his third love, which is the best matched and mature. He describes RYY as being the most ‘wife’ like, and someone that LHC can marry.

        • Funn Lim says:

          So a wuxia turned into a melodramatic love story. I wonder how does hard core fans of the book feels about this since JY himself approved it?

          Bridgitte Lin’s version is different. To me the better version when it comes to the dilemma of DFBB.

          And since LHC will love or may love DFBB clearly she can’t be a he.

        • skinnymocha says:

          Well homosexuality has been around from time immemorial, so LHC could potentially swing that way… But yeah, you’re right; it’s most likely that he sees DFBB as a woman.

          Wow, I hope he doesn’t treat RYY as some sort of consolation.

        • Cara says:

          i agree. Only Lin Qing Xia can play the role of DFBB and still pull off the beautiful, handsome, and ruthless character.

        • Funn Lim says:

          You can watch the interview here which states DFBB in this version is a woman so I assume a woman in disguise as a man. Which makes the whole dilemma of DFBB utterly redundant.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZIbABCNxYA

          And he also answered allegations of plagarism and I find his answer as unconvincing as DFBB’s rise to power or Joe Chen’s performance.

        • skinnymocha says:

          Thanks for sharing the link~ Meh, he may as well have scrapped the character of DFBB altogether and come up with a new one instead. Now we may have to contend with a whole host of female in disguise tropes and clichés. Like bathing scenes!

      • DFBB says:

        Funn Limm you are an idiot with an iq of a fly. Obviously in this version it was always a man.

        Yuan Shan Shan / Ying Ying is an useless girl she deserved to be alone.

        I pity DFBB she deserves LHC, she just want recognition, that’s all.

    2. cc says:

      I saw first ep of it and was not really impress. Everything was too colorful, I went blind for moment and I feel that all the actors are trying too hard to be their character and im not feeling it, also I feel like im watching an idol series
      It doesnt even feel like wuxia but for Wallace I will continue to watch….

    3. HeTieShou says:

      I had a feeling this version would not be so great and would not be a good adaption. I think turning it into a love story already sounds odd and not good at all… They are really running out of stories and ideas so have to keep on remaking the same old novels over and over again…

    4. Fox says:

      Only the square love with Wallace as Linghu Chong and DFBB’s lover (Lian something) while Joe as both DFBB and “his” sister is complicated enough, but Yu mama also made Goddess and DFBB switch soul and some blah blah thing. It has the potential to be a comedy.

    5. Lee says:

      I hope this show seals Yu Zheng’s coffin -what a talentless hack.

    6. Little fishy says:

      It sounded like a train wreck from day 1, still don’t like YSS, not going to even bother watch 5min of this series, and yup, still like the 96 version the best lol. The actress play RYY totally charmed me the second her veil got removed xD and I’m a girl

    7. Megamiaow says:

      I hate Taiwan dramas for doing this to classic Wuxia stories. They have mangled it into something completely not recognisable from it’s former self. What’s the point in using it’s name in vain?
      The whole concept of Dongfang Bubai as a true girl strips the former character of any flair it had (well, I do think it’s quite original still), all so they can add more lovey dovey content.
      I think the only good adaptation Taiwan did of Wuxia series was Condor heroes with Huang Xiao Ming because it stuck to the story. I vaguely remember the prequel with Hu Ge and Ariel Lin being over-romanticised and idolly too.

    8. Raina says:

      Isnt this a mainland series?

    9. Perfect world says:

      LOOL lot of haters here

      Yuan Shan Shan is a GREAT @ AMAZING ACTRESS…don’t waste u time if u have not open mind…

      stay always old…
      for the others …Enjoy the show is a Great
      Wuxia…the colors are superbs…no need to say anymore…

      • bhu says:

        Someone finally stands up for this series. I had enough of this blasphemy…just kidding. everyone has their own taste in nerdy stuff. Unfortunately, I don’t believe I will care for YSS when she appears, but you’ll never know. I’m more interested in DFBB and LHC’s characters. For the most part, fight scenes are pretty decent (relatively speaking when compared to other series). Once in a while, there are some unacceptable fake looking scenes, but that stuff happens in all JY adaptations. If you like it, enjoy. If you hate it, continue hating. It’s just a series.

        • HeTieShou says:

          I think IF it was just any series the people may not say much but sadly, it is an adaption of a famous wuxia novel that has been remade many times.Therefore, it is hard not to criticize and compare it with other adaptions.

      • Sapphiresky says:

        ABSOLUTELY TRUE!! YOU ARE THE GREATEST for defending the show, the colors ROCK! This is the reason why it’s SOOOO AWESOME! Why do people seem to just like dull stuff? and plz, give Yuan Shan Shan a break, she’s a very talented actress. I’m so sick of people complaining that she doesn’t look good enough. This is a GREAT adaptation! Haven’t enjoyed a Wuxia series like this for ages.

    10. YangGuo says:

      I’m probably the one of the few who liked this version, although I do find various flaws in this version. All my life I’ve watched 3 version of 笑傲江湖. The 1996,2000,2001 and I can proudly say my favourite one is still 2001 starring Li Ya Peng and it too had deviated from the novel.

      I think this is a refreshing change, many of you had already watched the past series so many times already. Even I have already gotten tired of all the Jin Yong remakes featuring the same characters and the same events. The whole thing just feels like deja vu to me.

      I feel the audience reaction will always be mixed regardless: If it stays too accurate to the book then it is all too predicable, If it deviates too much from the book then it feels too foreign. I think we should give it a chance at doing something new, or at the very least wait for the conclusion, cause if it’s just a repeat then there is no point watching it again in the first place.

    11. llwy12 says:

      The latest “criticism” isn’t about the cast (for once), but about Yu Zheng himself – there are claims that with this new version of Swordsman, Yu Zheng practically “copied” portions of TVB’s 1996 version of the remake “State of Divinity” (the one with Jackie Lui and Fiona Leung). A netizen actually did scene by scene comparisons of both series and actually found that the setup as well as dialogue was practically identical for quite a few of the scenes (in the episodes that aired so far that is) -the real ‘kicker’ is that some of the ‘similarities’ actually weren’t in Jin Yong’s original novel because in TVB’s adaptation, they took some liberties and changed a lot of things – some of these same ‘changes’ that were supposedly ‘exclusive’ to the TVB version (since TVB made up those segments) are also ‘coincidentally’ showing up in Yu Zheng’s version as well, which is leading some fans to cry ‘plagiarism’….so basically, Yu Zheng is being ‘bashed’ on-line right now for ‘once again’ copying other people’s works (which seems to be a common thing with him from what I’ve read?).

      Since I haven’t watched this new version (and don’t plan on watching it either), can’t really comment on whether the netizen’s ‘claims’ are true or not. All I’m going to say is that for me, the 1996 TVB version will always be the best one – absolutely loved Jackie Lui as Linghu Chong and Fiona Leung as Ren Ying Ying (and loved the chemistry between the 2 as well)…the rest of the casting for that series was great as well. Also liked the 80s version as well as a few of the movie adaptations…outside of that, haven’t really been able to stomach the other versions….

      • Jayne says:

        llwy12,
        Enjoyed Jackie Lui’s performance in “State of Divinity” very much as well. I was a bit disappointed that his TVB career started so promising, yet didn’t seem to reach past the heights of “State of Divinity”.

        Although he had several leading roles subsequently, he didn’t seem to be immersed in character as much and appeared distracted.

    12. Kidd says:

      Yu Zheng, remember you said in the beginning that your version will be the most faithful and true to the essence of the novel version?

      How is this true to the novel?

    13. Nori says:

      I’m not a fan of this wuxia novel but I’m so disappointed at the cast. Is there something between YU MAMA and Yuan Shanshan? I have had enough of her starring as female lead in Yu Zheng series. Not to mention that she’s not pretty enough to make a good impression. Take the series “In Love With Power” as a sample. YSS starred as Da Yu Er, the most beautiful girl of the Mongo Clans, but I found that she can’t even compare with Zhang Meng who was playing Hajol. Anyway, this is just my opinion not my intention to create a fight in here.

    14. P. Tan says:

      I am thoroughly lost by most of the comments but can’t say I didn’t enjoy the things you said. I’m learning!

    15. iawnaek says:

      Brigitte Lin is forever Asia The Invincible in my mind.

    16. vhe says:

      WOW so many haters here. Saying Joe Chen a bad actress is seriously harsh, do you guys really give her the opportunity; do comments after see her entire performance!!
      But hater always a hater. -Note this Joe maybe not the best choice but she is a talented actress.

      I agree. I think there was a lot of criticism around Joe Chen when they changed DFBB into a female in this version. But I honestly don’t think she should be judged because of that. I think she is doing a great job so far in the role. I’m really impressed. There are definitely some scenes in the trailers I’ve seen that give me goosebumps, her chemistry is definitely working really well with Wallace. If anything, I’m looking forward to her scenes with with LHC, more than RYY.

      There was a interview clip I saw where the director talks about LHC and his relationships with the three female leads:
      -He says that Yue Ling Shan is LHC’s first love, which is sweet, innocent and naive.
      -Then he says DFBB is LHC’s biggest love, the most dramatic. Where he falls in love with her and hates her at the same time, and they have a bittersweet relationship. They love each other, but nothing else is compatible between them.
      -Then RYY is his third love, which is the best matched and mature. He describes RYY as being the most ‘wife’ like, and someone that LHC can marry.

      • skinnymocha says:

        Wow, “so many haters here”… You got all that from one comment above?

        Most – if not all – great actors have poor performances, and this *may* just be one of them for Joe Chen. (I’m not sure; I’ve yet to see the show.) She’s not the first woman to play DFBB anyway (and there have been several instances where females are cast in male roles – take Fung Bo Bo, for instance). I’m not sure if the article is being deliberate, but it did describe Joe as being “bubbly” and “cute”. This doesn’t quite fit in with people’s image of DFBB, so it’s probably not (just) the gender factor that’s getting in the way.

        ————–

        “Then he says DFBB is LHC’s biggest love, the most dramatic. Where he falls in love with her and hates her at the same time, and they have a bittersweet relationship. ”

        Oh, here we go with the melodrama. So DFBB is a female? Homosexual? I’m confused.

      • Sapphiresky says:

        YESSSS someone who also thinks Joe Chen is a great actress. I am absolutely blown away by her performance, she makes this villain SOOO INTRUIGING! I just love it, I would say she’s so far, besides Wallace Huo, the highlight of the series, not that I don’t like the others, mainly cos I haven’t seen them yet.

      • DFBB says:

        RYY is just annoying in this series. I hate her.

        DFBB needs to be with LHC!!!!!!!!

        LHC’s sifu is so fake and his wife too, fake people will deserve to have bad ending.

    17. Perfect world says:

      It’s a great challenge to make a remake and make new innovations…this is the reason for this show…and Joe Chen @ Yuan Shan Shan are very talented in this show…
      How can some people judge a show before to watch it…it’s like to criticize a book before to read it…
      How give credit to someone who has never see the show…even there are several adaptations…
      Some people need to be more open mind and to grow up…it’s more easy to make a traditional adaptation than a new version with lots of new ideas…
      There is a thousand ways to love, to like or dislike a show…
      but there is only a way to hate…

      So stay in the light…

    18. xxx says:

      yeah some people just like to stay “in the box”; and doesn’t want to try a new things and a new ideas.

      Please remember DFBB is BORN A GIRL and ALWAYS A GIRL in this version.

    19. jjding says:

      I watched the first episode. So it may be too early to judge! However, I do feel Joe Chen is not suitable as DFBB. Her small frame is her biggest problem! She doesn’t look powerful/mighty! To me, Brigitte Lin is the best DFBB. I am not expecting Joe to be as good but at least look strong..not a weakling!

      Btw, I am not a hater. I like JC in other drama but just not this!

    20. E says:

      Just saw the drama, please give/watch it before assume.

      Joe Chan acting is pretty good in this drama actually, but Wallace acting in this drama is a bit too boyish and blank for me.

      I’m just not getting the Fu Ren woman die by Joe Chan, but the daughter live. Then the daughter die because she stab herself for ‘love.’ Then who is that last girl who Wallace love later on???? So did she die or what?

    21. A says:

      I actually love Joe Chen as DFBB. I can’t stand YSS as RYY though… I think she’s pretty but her face is so emotionless and when she cries it’s just ugh.

    22. DFBB says:

      DFBB deserves LHC!

    23. DFBB says:

      YSS is annoying and the character of RYY in this show is also annoying.

      I only want to watch DFBB.

    24. DFBB says:

      DFBB has done what is right.

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