Wallace Huo’s (霍建華) newest television drama, Swordman <笑傲江湖> for Hunan STV, has generated mixed reviews from the public. As a loose adaptation of the wuxia epic The Smiling, Proud Wanderer, one of Jin Yong’s (金庸) most celebrated novels, Swordman had been undergoing tight critical scrutiny since producer Yu Zheng (于正) first announced of its production in late 2011.
As one of the most successful producers on romantic idol dramas, Yu Zheng’s announcement on penning the ambitious wuxia epic collected much negative feedback from Jin Yong fans. Loyal fans of the original novel were quick in jumping to the conclusion that Swordman would eventually become a drama that would “be so bad that it is good.” Other reluctant fans blatantly expressed that the adaptation would be a disgrace to the novel.
And as expected, Yu Zheng has kept up with his reputation as a romantic writer in Swordman, which is conspicuously shown through a rewritten love triangle between protagonist Linghu Chong, his primary love interest Ren Yingying, and antagonist Dongfang Bubai.
Despite all the attacks and disappointment, Swordman still became one of Hunan STV’s most-watched television shows for prime-time. Surely, something must have drawn audiences into watching the show.
Wallace Huo, who portrays Linghu Chong, expected such criticism to arise when he first took on the role. However, the Taiwanese actor made it very clear that Swordman is meant for a different audience. “I am personally against adaptations that are very different from the original work, but despite its changes, I was quite impressed with the Swordman script. The relationships between the characters are splendid. I believe that many younger audiences are not very familiar with the original, so [Swordman] should be able to serve these younger audiences.”
The drama’s main love story arc – in which Linghu Chong is torn between his loves Dongfang Bubai and Ren Yingying – is a highly popular topic of discussion between the fans. Although it is a given that Linghu Chong and Ren Yingying are endgame, thousands of fans commented on Yu Zheng’s Weibo requesting for Linghu Chong to choose Dongfang Bubai in the end.
Wallace said, “I know many fans cannot understand to why Linghu Chong doesn’t respond to Dongfang Bubai’s pursuits after everything she has done for him. But the ending is set, and nothing can change it. Linghu Chong has to end up with Ren Yingying.” However, Wallace expressed that he finds Linghu Chong and Dongfang Bubai’s relationship to be fascinating, as the extent of their relationship cannot be simply written down into paper.
If his love interests Dongfang Bubai, Ren Yingying, and Yue Lingshan were animals, what would they be? After a moment of thought, Wallace said, “In my point of view, I’d say Yue Lingshan is a bit more cunning than the others. She is a very smart cat. Dongfang Bubai, in my opinion, is like a tiger mom. First off, she is very powerful, and second off, she is very passionate, which makes her appear very aggressive. Ren Yingying, to me, is like a sheep. She is very docile, patient, and easy to talk to.”
On Joe Chen
The popularity of the Linghu Chong and Dongfang Bubai relationship brought back old love rumors concerning Wallace and Joe Chen (陳喬恩), who portrayed Dongfang Bubai. Wallace and Joe fell in love on the set of the 2004 Taiwanese drama, 100% Senorita <千金百分百>. Though the pair separated several years later, their relationship did not end on bad terms.
Weeks ago, Joe posted an ambiguous post on Weibo, which read, “Up at 6 in the morning. I think of the cat, and [I] think of you.” Attached to the post was a photo of her watch. Fans believed that Joe was referring to Wallace, and wondered if the ex-couple had rekindled their once-extinguished love flames on the Swordsman set.
Looking shy, Wallace explained, “That was when we were young. We are now old and even our wrinkles have appeared. Many things have changed in the past few years. I’ve gotten older. She’s gotten older. There have been big changes. Both of us have experienced different setbacks and different matters, so we have both changed dramatically.”
Wallace admitted that he has not read Joe’s Weibo post. When the interviewer showed Wallace the post, Wallace looked down at his own watch and said quizzically, “It wouldn’t be this one, right? I need to give her a call. I need to ask her who she was talking about. Don’t drag me into this!”
Ren Yingying as Ideal Wife
Wallace does not take pleasure in sharing his private life, and dryly said, “That’s because I have such a boring life. It’s not interesting.”
Currently single, Wallace was asked if Joe Chen remains to be his ideal type. He apathetically answered, “Not bad. She’s good, and a pretty girl.”
Not wanting to be drilled about questions concerning Joe Chen again, Wallace decided to reveal his ideal type, “I like docile and low-profile girls. I also like those who are pardoning and forgiving, and someone who I can take out with and manage a house. These requirements shouldn’t be too high, right?” Wallace laughed.
Wallace’s description of the ideal girl is exactly like Ren Yingying. To this, Wallace agreed.
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