Monday, June 22, 2015

The Legend of Lu Siao Feng - Gu Long

I remember seeing the poster of  Luk Siu Fung TV series in early 80's (but I never had the opportunity to watch the series). Liu Sung Ren (Damian Lau) played Luk Siu Fung (or Lu Xiao Feng or Liok Siau-hong). The TV series was made in 1976 - the same year as the books (if the notes I found are right); it shows how popular Khu Lung was, if his books were straight made into films.

I just finished reading the first 3 books, and among the 3, I think The Bandit Who Did Needlework is the best. The detective work really stands out (at least compared to the other 2). The 3 books should be read together and in the right order. A very important key to enjoy these books is they have to be translated by a right person.

Liok Siau-hong (siau = little, hong=phoenix; Siau-hong means 'little phoenix'. Usually it's a woman's name.) was well-known for his 4 eyebrows: two above his eyes, two above his mouth or moustache. His great skill was his ability to catch a sword, no matter how fast it was, with his 2 fingers. Like Coh Liu-hiang, he was very smart, liked beautiful women and wine, poking in other people's business, and already became a legend while still alive. One of his good friends, Hoa Ban-lau, was blind. Liok Siau-hong taught Hoa Ban-lau how to clamp a sword using forefinger and middle finger.

[The differences - between Coh Liu-hiang and Liok Siau-hong - were: 1) Liok Siau-hong was lazier. There were times he wouldn't get up from bed, not even for a cup of wine. He lied down, put the cup on his chest and sucked the cup (without raising his head). The cup would move towards his lips, then he drank the wine without spilling a drop. 2) Coh Liu-hiang never killed. He didn't have the heart to hurt other people. In The Trush, when Li Giok-ham was attacking him, if Coh Liu-hiang using his inner force to block the blow, Li Giok-ham would be dead. He did not want to hurt Li Giok-ham, so he himself got kicked and tumbled down. 3)Coh Liu-hiang was more patient. In all five books, I think he only got angry 3 times: when Chiu Ling-siok told him about Lamkiong Ling's crime, when a Kaypang elder didn't believe him that Bu Hoa had been dead, and when Kionglam Yan slandered him as Sutouw King's killer.]

In the first book, the emperor from The Kingdom of Golden Bird, who had been living in exile, asked Liok Siau-hong's  help to find 3 men who had stolen the kingdom's treasure and return the treasure to him. The 3 men had been 3 high officials and after years they had became big names in the martial world. To confront them, Liok Siau-hong sought a famous swordsman's help. His name was Sebun Jui-soat. Sebun Jui-soat agreed to help if Liok Siau-hong shaved his famous moustache.
Like in any good detective stories, of course the matter was not as easy as it seemed.

The 2nd book: The Bandit Who Did Needlework. A mysterious bandit did big 60 robberies in a month, including the robbery of the Palace's Treasure Room which had been guarded very tight. No one could see the face of the robber and at first sight, he bowed down his face while he was doing a needlework; then after he mentioned his intention to rob, he did needlework to the guards' eyes, made them blind. Becoming blind was hard to endure, but thanks to Hoa Ban-lau, Liok Siau-hong's friend who was blind, the victims regained their spirit to live. The investigation of the bandit led Liok Siau-hong to a mysterious group which all of its members wore red shoes.

The 3rd book: Before and after the final duel. Liok Siau-hong had 2 friends who excelled in swordplay: Sebun Jui-soat and Yap Koh-seng. Both liked to wear white clothes. These two had made a promise to duel on the rooftop of the Forbidden City. People made bets on who would win, but then they heard that Yap Koh-seng had been critically wounded. On the other hand, Sebun Jui-soat had recently been married, and this had made him human. If he had become human, it would be impossible for him to defeated Yap Koh-seng. However, there was another reason why the duel was to be held in the Forbidden City. Like its name, the place was forbidden to enter. The palace's guard gave Liok Siau-hong six silk belts. Only those who wore the belts could enter the palace to watch the duel.

The silk belts part was used in Chu Liu-hsiang 1995 TV series. Chu Liu-hsiang was going to have a duel with a Japanese swordsman in the palace and only those who wore the special token could enter. I think they had replace the belts with brooches. The last part in the same book was also used in the Chu Liu-hsiang 1995 TV series: Chu Liu-hsiang and the emperor were having a private meeting and his friends outside were curious what they were talking about. They only heard that Chu laughed very hard ("In front of the emperor he dared to laugh like that?") and that the emperor would grant whatever he wanted. They all wondered what he asked.

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