Produce Director Zhang Ji Zhong has taken to social media to announce that his upcoming wuxia adaptation of the Jin Yong novel Ode to Gallantry is finally scheduled to air on the small screen on July 7, 2017. ** we have paraphrased parts of his weibo post below **
It is my eighth Jin Yong drama adaptation and my reason for choosing this particular novel is because it explores the simpler and deeper meanings behind a person’s growth. The story revolves around Shi Po Tian and Shi Zhong Yu, two brothers who look exactly alike yet are exposed to entirely different environments. The brother that is blessed with all the luxuries cannot compare to the one who was left to fend for himself on the streets in the companion of a dog.
The brothers differences are worth contemplating as it raises many questions. “What kind of environment should people grow up in? How do we keep our hearts pure? What kind of person should we become? Should we be like Shi Zhong Yu who tries to outsmart others through trickery and cunningness or be like Shi Po Tian who is an honest man through and through? Ode to Gallantry has even more morals to share. For example, the world fears Xia Ke Island but the only thing keeping the people trapped in the island are their own desires as the island is just a symbol.
My appreciation for Jin Yong began in 1987 when I read a pirated copy of Smiling Proud Wanderer. I was an actor in Shanxi and was intrigued to the point of no return, becoming a diehard Jin Yong fan. Before that, I used to read wuxia classics like Water Margin, Three Heroes and Five Gallants, etc.
Jin Yong’s work represented the new generation of wuxia, it was gracefully romantic and majestic in stature, traditional yet carefree. Every time I read a chapter, it was like being fully immersed in the moment. Mr. Jin Yong’s incredible understanding for Chinese traditions and culture and his sharp observations and interpretations of human nature led to the creation of the men and women of jianghu whose values are inherently ingrained in Chinese culture. Every person can see a shadow of themselves and it reverberated with my outlook on the world.
During those years, the Jin Yong dramas that we saw were Hong Kong productions, but the sceneries can be limited. At that time, I thought of creating a Chinese style wuxia. Maybe it was a meeting of the minds but after filming Water Margin and Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Mr. Jin Yong said this on the newspaper, “If China can film my works in the same way that they made Water Margin and Three Kingdoms, I am willing to give away the rights for one dollar.”
Upon seeing the news, I was ecstatic and I immediately wrote Mr. Jin Yong a letter to convey our intentions. Mr. Jin Yong responded on the second day and we met in Hanzhou to sign a contract that is historical in significance. As promised, Mr. Jin Yong gave the rights to Smiling Proud Wanderer for one dollar and one year later, the drama adaptation aired on CCTV, earnings ratings of 19%.
Since then, armed with the utmost respect for Jin Yong’s wuxia novels, I have been continually making drama adaptations, hoping to turn it into a series. Coming from the viewpoint of a fan, I try to be loyal to the original, to keep the romantic and heroic spirit of a Jin Yong wuxia and to share it with the viewers of today.