Despite Fierce Criticism, Michelle Chen Does Not Regret Little Dragon Girl Role

Yu Zheng‘s (于正) new drama, The Romance of the Condor Heroes <神鵰俠侶> has been fiercely criticized for its departure from Louis Cha‘s (金庸) classic wuxia novel.

In particular, an unorthodox spin has been put on the two protagonists – Yang Guo, an earnest and steadfast character in the book, is depicted as cheeky and flirtatious, while Little Dragon Girl, who is meant to be cold and aloof, becomes bubbly and cutesy. Many fans found this unacceptable, and have singled out Michelle Chen (陳妍希) as being fundamentally unsuitable for her role as Little Dragon Girl. Michelle has been a perpetual target of vitriol for the past few months. In a recent interview, she defends the production and expresses confidence in her appearance.

Michelle Did Not Expect to Land Role of Little Dragon Girl

Michelle admits that she is a big fan of Louis Cha, owning his entire collection of novels and often re-reading his books. “My favorite novel was actually The Legend of the Condor Heroes and I always wanted to play to the role of Huang Rong. I never even dreamed that I would star as Little Dragon Girl, someone with such ethereal beauty. But I gradually came to fall in love with this role, and the current adaptation in particular.”

Michelle added that her favorite version of Little Dragon Girl was Carman Lee‘s (李若彤) depiction in TVB’s 1995 drama adaptation. However, after watching that adaptation, Michelle had to consciously stop herself from modelling her mannerisms after Carman, as the new depiction of Little Dragon Girl is meant to be radically different.

Defends Her Appearance

On the subject of her girl-next-door appearance being incongruous with Little Dragon Girl’s stunning, ethereal beauty, Michelle remained calm. She said, “I have seen all the criticism and most of it is tongue-in-cheek. Many of the critics nicknamed me xiao long bao (soup dumpling), and I don’t really mind, as xiao long bao is pretty good. It is yummy and cute.” Michelle added that the controversy is a good thing, as it shows that people are watching the show and thus have an opportunity to fall in love with it.

Much of the criticism was aimed at Michelle’s weight, especially her chubby cheeks. Michelle admitted that it was slightly frustrating as her body naturally has high water retention, giving her a chubby appearance. She revealed that she went on a strict diet to reduce her sodium intake and jogged every day to slim down her appearance.

Despite the criticism on her looks, Michelle will not consider cosmetic surgery, although it is commonplace for many actresses seeking to look perfect on camera.

Michelle Enjoys Romantic Elements of the Production

Michelle asserts that The Romance of the Condor Heroes has made the relationship between Little Dragon Girl and Yang Guo more interesting, without diluting the wuxia spirit of the original novel.  A particular scene where Little Dragon Girl requested Yang Guo to “think of her 600 times a day”, has been criticized as being excessively cheesy. Michelle said, “These scenes are necessary to show how love blossomed between two people who spent a long time together underground. These interactions between them make their relationship more believable.”

Michelle added that her biggest takeaway from the production was the opportunity to experience love on an epic scale, “Playing Little Dragon Girl allowed me to experience a type of love that cannot be found in reality. Yang Guo is a man adored by many, yet he only has eyes for me, and he loves me with undying fervor. This is the kind of love I can only dream about.”

Wishes to Break out of Her Mold

Since her breakout role as a pretty and innocent student in the 2012 film You Are The Apple of My Eye <那些年,我们一起追过的女孩>, Michelle has been typecast as a sweet, girl-next-door actress. Michelle said being typecast was frustrating, “I really want to break out of this mold, which is why I have been taking different roles. It is important for me, as an actress, to have variety and never stop trying new things. Take my role as Little Dragon Girl, for instance. Regardless of whether I succeed or fail in playing this role, I will keep learning and consolidating what I have learned, to prepare for future challenges.”


This article is written by Jingles for

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  1. How does Yu Zheng has the license to change the personalities of YG and LDG!

  2. This remake is definitely the worst remake in history of all the ‘Condor Heroes’ remakes. It is nothing but vivid colors and dramatic CGI. I cringed so many times during the first few episodes I couldn’t even force myself to keep watching. Nothing against Michelle Chen, I loved her in Apple of My Eye, and I am a fan of Chen Xiao’s acting, but this remake is one that should have never happened. Yu Zheng’s works have reached a new low, because I’ve at least been able to get through some of his previous dramas, but this time is impossible. But of course who can stop the man known for ruining great works of art.

  3. Still the worst Little Dragon Girl. She doesn’t have the aesthetics for the role. not even close. Her hairstyle is also ridiculous. YZ needs to stop ruining classics and copying people. Someone lock him away please!

  4. She’s stiff like a block of wood, no? Might as well have renamed the whole thing, this version of XLN is like the typical “poor-but-optimistic-and-bubbly girl” you get in idol dramas, only in an ancient costume.
    Viann Zhang is carrying this so hard it should be retitled to “Legend of Mo Chou”.

    1. Yes, watched the first 2 ep just to see and make my own judgement. I agree, it’s legend of mou cho so far! I’m just fingering that Yu Cheng ruined such a good classic. I need to go back and watch a few ep from Andy Lau’s version to de-traumatise… Still the best.

    2. I’ve only watched the entire series of the version that Carmen Lee played with Louis Koo. I’m not a fan of this series. LDG’s character is stiff to me from the Carmen Lee version to the Liu Yifei version. I couldn’t even finished the Liu Yifei version. For Condor Hero series, I must say that The Legend of the Condor Heroes 1994 played by Annita Chu and Julie is the best of all.

  5. As an actress, she should know what role is suitable for her. She’s obviously not the type to play the character of XLN. Why even bothered to justify when you’re obviously a miscast? Plus, this is remake is not ROCH. It’s just about romance and relationships. That’s all! Meaningless work

  6. Now…that’s why Angela Baby hesitated to accept the role, lol

    Man, I thought the other remakes after Carman’s were terrible. But…you can count on YZ to ruin the classics.

  7. XLN in this is exactly like a poor-but-optimitic-and-bubble girl from an idol drama, only dressed in ancient clothing. She’s stiff like a block of wood.
    Viann Zhang is carrying this hard. It’s all about Viann and Li MoChou.

  8. “while Little Dragon Girl, who is meant to be cold and aloof, becomes bubbly and cutesy.”

    I wonder which come first. Did Yu Zheng change the personality of LXN to fit Michelle Chen or he chose Michelle Chen to fit his revised version of XLN?

  9. Good or bad, taking up this role made her more well known then before, Honestly I had no idea this actress existed until she became XLN.

    1. You got that one right. She’s on top of the chart with most searched in the Chinese engine. Though the reason was mostly negative, but she’s gotten more famous for sure because of it.

  10. I think it’s time Louis Cha let TVB take a spin at his work again. He let Yu Zheng butcher his works inside and out already can’t see why not let TVB take another stab.

    If Michelle was truly a fan of his work then she should be outraged for all the drastic change. This is like an over-glorified teen fanfiction.

    1. Would have to agree. If Louis Cha’s original intent was to stop tv stations butchering his works through crappy adaptations then clearly he needs to end or re-negotiate the current rights to his body of work again.

      The other problem obviously is that they are re-making them with such frequency that producers must feel they have to do something different and move away from the source material.

  11. “Yang Guo, an earnest and steadfast character in the book, is depicted as cheeky and flirtatious”

    Isn’t YG supposed to be cheeky and flirtatious? I certainly got that idea after watching the 2 TVB adaptations as well as the 2006 mainland one. What’s his personality really like in the book?

    I have seen 4 episodes of this remake already and I think I only saw Michelle in one scene, and Chen Xiao in one or two. Obviously, Yu Zheng regretted his choice of Michelle for LDG and decided to make Viann Zhang the star.

    However, I do have to say Christopher Lee who plays HYS is super cool, even though he’s way too young to be WY’s dad and then a granddad! But he looks great. The best looking, coolest HYS I’ve seen so far.

    The 95 remake is my favourite adaptation too, with the best LDG and YG.

    1. Yes, It’s kinda funny to see Christopher Lee playing HYS because in the Singapore remake, he played YG and his wife, Fann Wong, as XLN. I really did enjoy the series. I also saw the one that had Richie Ren as YG. Although I think the girl who played XLN was ugly, she was better than Michelle Chen. I couldn’t stand the two horns.

      I like the 83′, 95′ and the Sing adaptations.

      1. I think the Christopher lee fan Wong version along with the 95 version had the best 16 year reunion. It was so touching in both version. I didn’t feel that with the other versions. Hehe yes and Chen Zi Han who played Gou Fu is in this new adaptation too, not to sure of her character, but she ends up having white hair lol. So three ladies will have white hair because of love in this adaptation. Chen Zi Han’s Character, XLN’s teacher, and Zhou Butong’s lover.

      2. The Taiwanese of ROCH 99′ was worst ever. Richie Ren, Jacklyn Wu & the rest of the cast are worst either. As for New version of ROCH, there no problem of Michelle Chen as XLN because Yu Zheng have the right to chose her. So there is no reason to complaint it.

    2. He is cheeky/playful but not flirtatious and keen eyes for other women, he pretty much is devoted to Siu Long nu.

      1. i see. but he does flirt with girls before he falls in love with LDG, doesn’t he? and he did go around kissing all these different girls’ eyes during the first time he and LDG were separated?

      2. “and he did go around kissing all these different girls’ eyes”

        I remember he asked to kiss the girl’s eye because she has LDG’s eyes. He missed LDG. So, he’s attached to girls that have LDG’s features.

  12. Little Dragon Girl need to look tougher and older than Yang Guo. They keep casting younger and younger teenie girl for the role. Already the whole plot is turning into ****.

    1. Yep, that’s why ’83 is the best in my opinion and the only version that did not make me cringe. Carmen’s version made me cringe because they had Louis Koo play the child Yang Guo. Crystal’s version was awkward because of the age different and her acting was a little stiff.

      1. oh yes, i had the same complaint with the 95 version. all the actors and actresses played their own characters in their childhood, which was very cringeworthy. the producers were probably too cheap to cast child actors, though actually, hong kong child actors are rarely good.

      2. I really loved Fung Chi Feng as the young YG in the 80s version. He was my most favorite child actor of the 80s. Yes,I did not like how the 90s version had no child actors in the roles. It was strange to see them act as kids. It is sad that remakes seem to get worse and worse instead of better and better.

      3. That was also always my gripe with the ’95 version. And surely it wouldn’t have costed tvb much to actually cast kids for the first part of the series. I mean, we read constantly about the crappy pay that the adult actors get paid anyway. It would have made the series so much better.

        Having said that, despite enjoying the ’83 version more as a whole, I have to say that Carmen is still the definitive XLN in my opinion. She had that cold aloofness that Idy didn’t quite pull off.

    2. XLN is not supposed to look older than Yang Guo. Yes, she is older in age than Yang Guo, but because she eats honey and other healthy food in the cave and doesn’t stress with other worldly stuff, so she always look young.

      Same goes for the 16 years later part. Yang Guo constantly stress out thinking of XLN and doing his heroic deeds. XLN, on the other hand, eats healthily (fish and honey) and doesn’t care much anymore since she thinks she’ll die from the poison. Thus when Yang Guo came down to meet her, he is A LOT older with white hairs while she still looks almost the same.

  13. At least she’s not one of those Asian actresses with plastic surgery to look good on screen.

  14. Michelle Chen is cute, but pushing aside the change in her XLN character, her martial arts or lack of it makes me realize that Liu Yi Fei was more than a cute pretty face.

  15. Well Michelle Chen is not pretty as Little Dragon Girl. But she is cute in Mainland China.

  16. I think Michelle Chen looks fine, she’s a good actress and I think she’s a very pretty woman, but she would probably stand out more in modern clothing. I do agree that this is not the best remake and I hope they hadn’t give her that hairstyle, however I don’t think people should be hating the drama just because they think Michelle doesn’t fit the role. She has a baby face, but she’s not fat. I think people should really be looking at the quality of the story rather than the looks of the actors.

  17. Michelle Chen is cute but she is not good enough to be XLN. XLN is supposed to be stunning.

    This is definitely the worst remake ever! Yu Zheng changed so many things that it is soooooooo bad especially those crappy colors of the clothing!

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