Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Remarkable Twins - Gu Long

Published in 1967, The Remarkable Twins is one of Khu Lung's best works.

As the story began, two characters were introduced: Kang Hong, the most handsome man in the world; and his sworn brother Yam Lan-thian, the number one swordsman. Kang Hong had been wounded dan the two beautiful mistresses from Ih-hoa-kiong saved him. They fell in love with him but he ran away with their maid. Knowing the mistresses from Ih-hoa-kiong would never let him live in peace, Kang Hong planned to go somewhere far away with his new wife. His servant, Kang Khim, betrayed him by telling a group of robbers about his flight. Thus on the way, Kang Hong and his wife were robbed and gravely wounded. The two mistresses from Ih-hoa-kiong arrived, killed the robbers, and with hatred watched Kang Hong and his wife died. They wanted to kill the new-born twins as well, but came with a perfect scheme of revenge: to make the twins kill each other. They took one of the babies and raised the boy in discipline and cold heart. They named him Hoa Bu-koat.

Yam Lan-thian arrived too late. He took the other baby, who had got a sword scar on his cheek. He heard a rumor that Kang Khim, the traitor, had hidden in Ok-jin-kok, a secluded village where the most dangerous criminals gathered. At Ok-jin-kok, Yam Lan-thiam was trapped and became paralyzed, he was neither dead nor living after they had tortured him. They sent him to their physician, to be his guinea pig. The baby boy was raised by the criminals. They named him Kang Hi. Hi means 'fish', so he was nicknamed Siau-hi-ji (little fish).

Siau-hi-ji was very smart, but very naughty. He practised practical jokes to everyone that when he was old enough, they sent him away from the village to the outside world, so he could leave them alone and annoy other people instead.

When Toh Sat (the most feared man in Ok-jin-kok) taught Siau-hi-ji to kill a puppy for the first time, I was afraid that the boy would grow up to be a serial killer. However, the boy basically had a kind heart and he survived although he grew up among the worst of criminals. One of them was a cannibal who killed his own wife and ate her. After puppies, Toh Sat taught the boy to kill dogs and tigers.

Hoa Bu-koat was also sent out. His teachers told him if he met a young man named Siau-hi-ji, he must kill him with his own hand. His martial art was far above Siau-hi-ji. Twice Siau-hi-ji escaped him, but finally Siau-hi-ji made a pact with Hoa Bu-koat. They agreed to fight until one of them was dead three months later, but in time between they could became friends.

Thus in three months they became the best of friends. They saved each other and helped each other. Basically Hoa Bu-koat didn't know why he must kill Siau-hi-ji and as time passed, he didn't want to kill him.

Only the two mistresses from Ih-hoa-kiong knew the secret, but they only would uncover the truth after one of the twins had been dead. And if one of them was dead, the other one surely couldn't live any longer.

One of my favourite parts was when Siau-hi-ji tried to evade Hoa Bu-koat (before they became friends) and had to live first as an acrobat, then as a cook and as a pharmacist. He was successful in each job.

The ending of this story was a happy one and very moving. Reading this book was like sitting on a chair, listening to other people try to outsmart each other. There were parts which seemed longer i.e. parts where Siau-hi-ji was not involved. He had many enemies, but in the final duel, everybody wanted him to live. It seemed that no one wanted poor Hoa Bu-koat to win the duel, not even his girlfriend. In the end, not only the characters inside the book love Siau-hi-ji, the readers also love this little devil... or little fish.

There are several movie adaptations based on this book and I unluckily have never seen even one, but I'm sure none of them would surpass the book.

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