If you enjoy sword-fighting epics with a flair of fantasy, this 40 episode drama will be a delight. It has a good "wu xia" story line, characters, color, sword fights, kidnapping, intrigue, betrayals, vengeance, armies, contests, assassinations, romances and comedic moments. The characters range from kings and princes to sword fighters, monks and beggars, both among the heroes and villains. (Women are also among the rulers, sword fighters, servants, heroes and villains.) The characters use their wit, intelligence, disguises and talents to reach their goals. It is slightly choppy because of its length since there are several stories being told. Sometimes I wanted to know more about what was happening with the other characters.
The story evolves around Qiao Feng and 2 of his sworn blood brothers, Duan Yu and Xu Zhu. It begins with the tragedy that befell his parents and his rise to the leadership of the Beggar's Guild at the age of 30. An intelligent, honorable rough young man who loves his people, he enjoys drinking with friends. He becomes famous for his skill in the martial arts and for his deeds. When the secret of his parentage comes out, it causes a division in the Beggar's Guild. He decides to leave to make his way in the world. When it seems everyone has deserted him, he discovers his true love and friendship. He gains the friendship of the king of his people and rises to power in another land, only to be faced with a test of loyalties at the end -- to stick to his principles and to the people of his former land or to his oath of allegiance to the king of his people. His friends rally their resources as they come to his side.
Duan Yu, 21, is a scholarly rich young nobleman who prefers studying the Classics to mastering his family's famous martial arts skills. Somewhat naive in this society that honors the martial arts, he believes that discussion rather than fighting is the best way to settle arguments. The unintentional results of his father's many affairs continue to surface and periodically impact Duan Yu's life. Along the way, he also acquires unusual skills that help him master some of the forms of the martial arts in unexpected ways. He falls in love and you want to cheer him on in this very Confucian and proper society (eg. kissing scenes are missing and for a woman to be touched by a man is definitely not proper). Despite his family's pressures, he follows after his own heart. When he finds the woman of his dreams, complications ensue.
Xu Zhu, 24, who was abandoned as a baby, has grown into a humble young monk whose whole life evolves around the Shaolin Temple. A godly young man who strives to overcome his temptations, he is not that skillful in the martial arts. With the best of intentions, he interferes with an unusual chess game to which the renowned heroes of the martial arts world have been invited with unexpected consequences for him. He acquires skills in the martial arts, faces temptations, is offered leadership of a clan, learns more about the world than he ever wanted and falls in love.
Although It is normally available in Mandarin with simplified Chinese subtitles, I did find one that also had English subtitles.
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