GIVEN UP – [Drama Review] Return of the Condor Heroes starring Chen Xiao, Michelle Chen 2014

*Disclaimer: By the end of the first 20 episodes, I realized how the impossible the little details are. Hence, I decided to stop watching the drama itself, even if I am a big fan of Chen Xiao. This review is hence incomplete and negative.*

*article was written as the series was airing*

Synopsis: (via wikipedia)
The protagonist, Yang Guo, is the orphaned son of Yang Kang, the antagonist in The Legend of the Condor Heroes. The couple Guo Jing and Huang Rong put Yang Guo under their care for a short period of time before sending him to theQuanzhen Sect for better guidance in moral values and orthodox martial arts. In Quanzhen, Yang Guo is often picked on and bullied by his fellow students, and even his master, Zhao Zhijing, is biased against him. Yang Guo flees and ventures unknowingly into the nearby Tomb of the Living Dead, where the Ancient Tomb Sect is housed. He is saved by Xiaolongnü, a mysterious maiden of unknown origin, and becomes her apprentice. They live together in the tomb for many years until Yang Guo grows up. After being attacked by Li Mochou, they leave the tomb and stay on the mountain. Xiaolongnü develops romantic feelings for Yang Guo and after a while, he falls in love with her.
However, their romance is forbidden by the prevailing norms of the Confucianist society of their time. Throughout the story, their love meets with several tests, such as the misunderstandings that threaten to tear them apart and the encounter with Gongsun Zhi. Finally, after their reunion and marriage, Xiaolongnü leaves Yang Guo again, owing to her belief she cannot recover from a fatal poison, and promises to meet him again 16 years later. While Yang Guo is wandering the jianghu alone, he meets several formidable martial artists and a giant condor. His adventures gradually mould him into a courageous martial artist, whose prowess matches the Greats of his age. Yang Guo serves his nation by helping the Han Chinese citizens of the Song dynasty defeat the Mongol invaders. At the end of the novel, he is reunited with Xiaolongnü and they are recognised as heroes of their time.


Chen Xiao playing Yang Guo is the reason I am watching the show. I have been a fangirl of him since his hit drama The Female Prime Minister 2013. He had been playing supporting roles in multiple dramas including the Beauties of the Emperor and The Swordsman and have been getting quiet popular for playing such divers characters each time and having the perfect look for ancient dramas. I really love his pairing with C-actress Zhao Liying. In ROCH, he is again showing how awesome he is as an actor, playing a hero who is also a player. Quiet entertaining. Plus, he has the best look for playing Yang Guo. If it was not because of how they changed his character Yang Guo from the original work by Jing Yong, I believe he really has the potential to play the best adaptation of Yang Guo. The only thing I can complain about him right now is how his dubbed voice in this drama is annoying and sounds way too much modern.

Michelle Chen playing Xiao Long Nu is to be frank the worst casting choice made in mainland drama since like forever. Seriously. She is famous for acting a very cute girl next door image from her hit movie The Apple of our Eyes. As for her appearance, she isn’t very chubby, but she is definitely not your classic Ancient beauty. Her cheeks are very dominant when she plays XLN because, although she is not supposed to, she always smile and in this drama, her costume is horrible and just make her look fat. Plus, she said on multiple interviews that she is scared of heights. This is actually obviously shown in her fighting scenes. She is supposed to be like an Angel from heaven, always flying in the air. However, from her acting, it seems unnatural and it is quiet obvious she has no background in dancing. On the bright side, her acting is not too bad and she has a gorgeous dubbed voice. AND, I do feel bad for her because she is getting a lot of hate online.. Oh well, miscasting is miscating. We can’t change it now, right? v_v

Rest of the cast is made of very famous Chinese actors and really gorgeous eye candies: except Michelle Chen, all the other girls are really pretty. The only complain in this case is that the people who are supposed to play the old generation or the elders look like they are 30 old ish characters with a beard. Not very convincing.

Since this drama is still airing, I will try to write a review by the end, but as for now, I will only give a few notes on the drama, some reason you should watch it.

-Chen Xiao is a must watch!!
-This drama is also called Romance of the Condor Heroes and there is an obvious reason: all characters, primary or secondary get a side romantic stories. Seriously, everyone. I am not complaining too much as I love love stories xD but I do feel like we are starting to get far from the Wuxia genre.
-This drama was produced by infamous Chinese producer Yu Zheng. His dramas are always visually very appealing, but miss a lot of consistency and derivate a lot from the original work. This adaptation is no exception as there are a lot of plot holes due to his *basic* understanding on how gorgeous the story is. He changed Xiao Long Nu to an unappealing friendly and teenager romantic ish character and made Yang Guo into a player who makes everyone fall in love with him. I personnally accept that, but I know Cnetizens are way less indulgent about this kind of changes.



With 23 episodes broadcast, it is time for me to let go. This version sucks big time! The actors suck, the visual gets my head hurting and yelling to get away, the stories had been changed way too much. Seriously, I don’t want Yu Zheng to touch any Jing Yong work again. But he will because he just bought the right to adapt Yi Tian Tu Long Ji.
Let me cry. Please.

Michelle Chen as Xiao Long Nu:
She plays the most unnatural XLN since the beginning of Earth. She does not have the look. She looks chubby, smiles all the time and that haircut! Arghhhh. I know she is already getting a lot of hate for taking the role and I didn’t want to add on that at the beginning, but let’s be real, she accepted the role herself = she sought for it! Her most famous role is in Apple of My eyes where she played a teenager. That role must not demand for a lot of acting talent, because right now, she sucks at acting in ROCH. Her XLN is basically an aegyo-full teenager who always smile when she sees YG. That’s it. There is nothing to find charming in her acting.

Chen Xiao as Yang Guo:
Ok. Chen Xiao is my big crush in the C-entertainment. He is really handsome and act well. He is perfect to play YG. Beepp! Wrong. In this adaptation, he has the worst costume ever. I know he lived half of his life in a tomb, but if XLN can have gorgeous white dress, why does YG has to wear beggar clothing…? As for his acting, it is not landing very far. His character has a very annoying modern accent AND he speaks way too fast his line. I can’t shade that. I hate when I can’t even follow the stories because the main lead is just saying out his line as fast as he can instead of putting some acting in between. There are scenes where he is doing well, but in general we are trapped with a Yang Guo super annoying, speaking way too fast and trying to seduce every fcking girl he meets… (kissing them, touching them, calling them wifeys so easily). Just no. And I hate that because I know how Chen Xiao is a very talented actor as he impressed me in Legend of Lu Zhen, Swordsman and Hidden Intentions. I know he is better than this! I want to blame the producer *keuf* Yu Zheng *keuf*. But again, if he cannot even stand up to his producer to make his character better. I don’t know….

Added storylines:
While at the beginning, I thought it was nice to have an explanation for the stories of the past generations, right now, it just feel horrible to have so many love stories in ROCH, which is itself a love story. As more and more love stories are told, we are getting far from the wuxia context. And none of those stories are well written… Sad
Here is a list of love stories involving the old generation:
Li Mochou and Lu Zhangyuan
Yang Kang and Mu NianCi
Lin Chaoying and Wang Chong Yang
OuYang Feng and his Du Xuelian (his brother’s wife, the mother of Ouyang Ke)
Hong Qigong and Qiu YiNong (WTF???)
Huang YaoShi vs Mei ChaoFeng vs Feng Heng
Zhou Botong vs Duan Zhixing vs Ying Gu
DuGu Qiubai and Hexiang (WTF?????)

Other annoying things:
THE COLORS! By trying to make the story all colorful, it now hurts my eyes so bad and I just cannot even focus. Bouhhh.

I wrote a lot, so let’s say this is my farewell to ROCH. I hate that because now, I will be less anticipating Chen Xiao’s dramas for a while. Plus, don’t expect me to watch Yu Zheng dramas for a while. Arghhhh

13 thoughts on “GIVEN UP – [Drama Review] Return of the Condor Heroes starring Chen Xiao, Michelle Chen 2014

  1. Lizzie says:

    I am not familiar with jin Yong works so I actually quite enjoyed this. I thought the love stories were quite cool (since I didn’t know how it was meant to be!) and CX played his role of a hormonal youth pretty well! Again, my lack of history probably helped. However, couldn’t finish it as I could not feel the chemistry between him and XLN. Not knowing how it’s meant to be still did not detract from the fact that XLN is essentially an over emotional sticky girl with no boundaries. Personally the sifu in love with the student story makes me go ick (same reason I stopped watching HQG although am a ZLY fan) and I hate shows where the lead protagonist doesn’t go with the second lead despite the obvious reasons/logic/chemistry simply because he or she needs to end up with the male or female lead!


  2. archidisign says:

    Jin Yong’s stories are really good (lots of development for the characters and the plotline is like … flawless!) Yop, I watched a lot of dramas based on his work (although I watched the newer version, like the after 2000s). For instance, since I watched the 2006 version of ROCH, I really had a hard time to adapt to Chen Xiao’s Yang Guo. Based on the original story, he is supposed to really only have eyes for Xiao Long Nu. However, in this one, it feels super weird to see him act romantically with everyone (even if it is just playin around): hence, I decided to give up (that on other reasons mentionned above). Michelle Chen is a great person I am sure, but it is just 100% wrong to cast her as a fairy like character. And yes, XLN character has so many flaws, but as a novel fan, I still like her because she is so pretty (yes very shallow reason). HOWEVER, she isn’t very pretty here…
    Me too! I hate two type of storylines in dramaland: 1) student loving their shifu and 2) siblings loving each other. I want to puke. However, I am watching HQG, just because, I am such a big fan… xD
    And for the male/female leads OTP problem: that’s why I only watch dramas where I like both leads. hehe


    • Lizzie says:

      That’s why I couldn’t finish Destined To Love You. Do not like Jia Nailang’s character and when it was clear they were the OTP and not Bosco Wong’s character, kinda lost the fizzle for me. Immature boys really do nothing for me!


      • archidisign says:

        I don’t like immature boys either! High 5! But for me, as long as I learn to like the male lead, I will try to watch a bit more to see if yes or no, he will be able to evolve. Was Jia Nailiang that bad in DTLY? :O


      • archidisign says:

        Omg, Yes, he does give up that vibe. Did you watch Ice and Fire of Youth? Apparently, he is actually good in that drama.


      • Lizzie says:

        i watched 10 mins of the first episode and stopped. Give me Zheng Kai anytime in that role – I think the fact that Zheng Kai is less good looking makes him a better actor in showing himself as a charismatic ambitious rich kid rather than Jia Nailiang interpretation which is usually not-so-intelligent but good-at-heart spoilt rich kid.


      • archidisign says:

        Now that you said it, Zheng Kai does fit the role more. I think that ZK can really play a playboy gone good really easily! I don’t really mind JNL’s acting, but he just doesn’t give the feeling that he is into his character, which of course runs the drama.


  3. Maureen Michella says:

    wow! I can’t believe there are more negative review than my own review.. hahahha.. so lucky you don’t get as many hate as I do.. LOL

    I totally agree with you XLN is miscast. period.. the series will be better if they change the cast and the director…


    • Haha, now I am curious about your post xD Well, honestly, it was not a good drama and I don’t think anyone would say they enjoyed it (unless they never tried the past adaptations and like Yu Zheng’s type of directing a lot).
      Xiao Longnu was such a bad cast, but honestly, there were many many points wrong with this adaptation (the dubbing, the action scene, the color, the love lines, etc..) What a mess…


      • Maureen Michella says:

        Hahahahahhaa.. yes.. but all the hate comment not in english.. the newest adaptation just popular in my country (indonesia) they never saw past adaptation and even read the novel.. they mock me because I said Liu Yi fei and Idy chan is better.. they like Michelle better because they think she cute and energic.. for jin young sake.. how come!. Hahahhahha.. bottom line I strike back all the hate comment and keep my opinion.. hahahahah


      • xD I see. On the bright side, it is nice to know Chinese dramas are being watched in other Asian countries! ^^ No, Liu Yifei is definitely better than Michelle for this role (actually, most actresses are better than Michelle Chen for this role xD). I am not doing any fat shaming, but the role description just don’t fit! Cute and energetic is NOT Xiao Longnu! Stick to your opinion and know that a lot of people share it too😉


      • Maureen Michella says:

        Indeed! Review is our own flavor.. hahahha.. wait for another c-drama.. my new fave is Viann Zhang.. she is indeed the next fan bing bing 😄😄😄


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