Having previously watched numerous adaptations with the same ending, I’m glad New Kung Fu Cult Master 2 opted for a heavy rewrite.
New Kung Fu Cult Master 2 (倚天屠龙记之圣火雄风) Synopsis
With the capable assistance of his Ming followers, Zhang Wuji successfully liberates all six Wulin sects from Yuan captivity. Later, to fulfil his promise to Zhao Ming, he also brings the princess to the far north to meet his godfather, “Golden Lion King” Xie Xun. The expedition, however, ends in mystery, with Zhao, Xie, even the Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre missing. Is Zhao Ming truly in love with Zhang? Or is she purely after the two precious armaments all along?
I begin with a rundown of what I wrote when reviewing Part 1 a fortnight ago.
- I found Part 1 very “rushed,” and a constant case of just “going through the key events” of the source material.
- With the exception of the Dragon Claw fight, I didn’t find any of the fights memorable.
- Whatever my disappointments, I would still watch Part 2, because I’m that big a Jinyong fan.
Yeah, I headed to the cinema this afternoon purely out of obligation as a Wuxia, Jinyong fan. To be honest, with more scorn poured on both movies over the past week, I thought I was going to be bored silly too.
Didn’t happen, I’m happy to say. While I can’t claim I ended up loving every second of this concluding episode, I at least didn’t find it tired in the same way as Part 1. In fact, there were even moments when I felt swept up in the action.
Why did this happen? Well, I would attribute it to two reasons. First, the story was significantly trimmed. Second, the ending was completely changed.
Allow me to elaborate. By retaining only the bare skeleton of the second half of the novel, that “rushed” feeling that I so disliked was tempered. To be clear, it was still prominent in some parts, such as the glossing over of complicated relationship between Zhang, Zhao Ming, Zhou Zhiruo, and Xiao Zhao. (Some many Zs, huh) But at least events weren’t jumping from one to another. The leads each even received different quieter moments for their characters to sink in.
By changing the ending, well, a lot of fluff and complications were also removed in favour of a more dramatic ending. Now, I’m sure purists are going to be appalled. In other reviews, I myself have criticized such heavy-handed plot rewriting too.
But in this case, I feel it works because the Yitian Tulong Ji story has simply been adapted too many times since the 1980s. Remember what I wrote in my earlier review? There are now 14th adaptations. As someone who have watched 10 of these adaptations, the latest version just two years ago, I really had little interest in seeing things played out the same way, improved presentation/special effects, or not.
And while the new ending loses the literary finesse of Jinyong’s saga, it was at least something new. Something different too, and the frame for a high-energy fight.
The summary: I’m glad the producers went a little bolder, a little wilder with this second part. I wouldn’t have minded too, had they gone further with the changes.
Come to think of it, the one thing that I did like about Part 1 was how they amended Zhang Wuji’s backstory. I felt the revised version was more logical.
Argg, if only such tweaks extend throughout both movies! But oh well, I suppose it wouldn’t be too long before the 15th adaptation comes.
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