what about the large scale cinematography, lack of newtonian physics (part of the fun once you get it that the heroes are larger than life with some semi-supernatural powers), musical score....
I saw it on the super big screen and thought of the great classic epics...Spartacus, Ten Commandments......
According to Michelle Yeoh in her interview on the DVD, Li Mu Bai and Yeoh's character Shu Lien do not act on their love because Shu Lien had been engaged to someone who died, and because in that society the woman was then supposed to live the rest of her life as a widow. I saw no indication of her engagement in the movie, but it is based on a five-volume novel, so I guess some compression and shorthand is to be expected. Maybe this relationship will be explained in the prequel.
I just watched the film again last night and there is evidence of Liu Shien's earlier engagement, in one of her conversations with Jen. It's only a few lines though, but it's there.
Lo's telescope dates the action sometime after 1608.
This statement didn't add much information because the movie was set in the Qing Dynasty according to the hair style and clothings. Qing Dynasty didn't start until 1644? Of course, the telescope was available then.
WARNING: may contain spoilor.
Starting Oct 31, 2001, Channel 26, KTSF of San Francisco is showing a Taiwanese TV drama series of CTHD in Mandarin. The show is run Monday to Friday from 10pm to 11pm. Those who live in the San Francisco Bay Area and understand Mandarin can enjoy a different rendition of the story. Since this is a long series, the story is actually stretched out with a lot of details than the movie version. Obviously, the series is based on the same Chinese novel that the movie based on. I have watched the first 2 episodes so far and already seen a lot of differences in the story. For example, Lon-Ur's (the little dragon) master is a man instead of the female Jade Fox as in the movie.
The story started at a point where Li and Yu met as strangers. By the second episode, Yu's family was already massacred. Her father sent her away on a courier mission in order to spare her from the killers. She ran to his father's best friend (Meng) for shelter and found out her husband-to-be was already 'killed'. Apparently, his face was badly burnt and he disguised himself as a servant and lied to her that the marriage arrangement was off due to his death. Since they have not seen each other since childhood, she was not aware of the lie. Li was a young man just stepped in the Jiang Wu for the first time. He tried to help Yu deal with her mourning while protecting her from the killers. As of today's episode, they were still at a great distance. In fact, those who have seen the movie know that they kept the distance until death.
(added notes on Dec 15, 2001)
The TV series ended on Dec 14 with 3 double hatter episodes on the last 3 nights. There were 34 episodes in total. A 34 hours drama series of course covers much much more of the original novel than the 2 hour movie version.
In the TV version, Meng gave up his marriage engagment with Yu because he joined the revolution against the government and he didn't want to mix personal love affair and his secret role in the underground. Li knew Meng's secret identity and tried to bring Yu and Meng together. Li felt for Yu, but being a Taoist student, he sublimed his love for Yu's well being and happiness by helping Yu to get back with her childhood lover. The love triangle went on with several unexpected turns and reversals. Meng was eventually killed by Te and Li was framed for the killing. Yu being a brainless idiot fell for the setup and became Li's enemy for a while.
The role of the Jade Fox in the movie is actually combining 3 characters from the novel. Among the 3 characters, Jen's master was a good guy, a hero. The other two, including the Jade fox, were villains.
The fatherly figure, prince Te, in the movie is actually the most vicious villain in the novel. He was an ambitious guy who plotted to take over power to became the ruler of China. He used Yu as a pawn with many plots. And the pea brain Yu failed to see the dark side of Te, didn't know Te was responsible for her family massacre, loyal to him, called him "godfather", and turned against the other heros in the story.
Jen and Lo's roles are similar to those in the movie except that Lo hid his bandit identity and gained trust from Jen's father. Jen's father actually tried to help Lo become a government official. But Lo gave up his position after he discovered Te's plot to subsititue Jen's father position with Lo's position. Being moved by Jen's father's genuine support for him, he ran away to ruin Te's plot.
At the end, Jen's master sacreficed himself to save Jen from Te. The other heros in the story united to fight Te and killed him at the end. Li didn't die in the novel. He went to experience life and explore taoism by travelling different parts of the country. But he promised to return and asked Yu to wait for him. Jen and Lo returned to the desert at the end.
The ending of the movie is totally different from that in the novel. The Jade fox role was eliminated quite early because the main plot was about Te's hidden agenda. Towards the end of the series, the green destiny sword led to a pool of Qi cuminated for hundreds of years, Te wanted to take the qi to become invincable so that he could complete his ambition to take over the country. This plot would be too crazy and foreign to the western audience.
Though the movie script was pruned so severly from the original story, I personally think the shorter story had a better theme and plot. The focus on three women's role (Jen, Yu and Jade fox) in the traditional Chinese society, actually gave the movie a totally different feel. The original novel is a typical Wu Xia story about killings, revenge, power struggle etc. and with so many weird concepts uncomprehensible by the western audience. But the rewritten screenplay added much more depth to the story which led to the good box office results.
The love triangle between Li, Yu and Meng were quite boring in the TV series. I wonder if they plan to make the prequel to the movie, they probably would not base on the original novel. The sceenplay of the first movie did wonders in deviating from the original story, I think it would be unnecessary to stick to the original novel in the prequel.