Viewers Say New Kung Fu Series Lacks Kick

The director of “Lu Ding Ji” acknowledged flaws in his martial arts drama but also said lead actor Zhang Yishan isn’t entirely to blame for the poor reviews.

Reviews are in for a new television adaptation of a popular Chinese martial arts novel, and they’re not good.

“Lu Ding Ji,” or “The Deer and the Cauldron,” has disappointed audiences in seemingly every way, most notably with the performance of its lead actor, Zhang Yishan. The show is so bad, in fact, that it has one of the lowest ratings on Douban, China’s IMDb-like movie review website, of any series released this year at a dismal 2.7 out of 10. Many of the angry reviews lambast “Lu Ding Ji” for its derivative plot and stereotyped characters.

“Lu Ding Ji” is the latest adaptation of a martial arts novel of the same name by the legendary kung fu writer Louis Cha — better-known by his pen name, Jin Yong. It tells the story of a witty courtier, Wei Xiaobao, who became a close friend to the Kangxi Emperor during the Qing dynasty and ultimately helped him consolidate power.

Prior to the lackluster premiere of “Lu Ding Ji” earlier this month on state broadcaster China Central Television, as well as on streaming sites iQiyi and Youku, series produced on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan had seen something of a renaissance this year. Acclaimed series like “The Bad Kids” and “The Long Night” received rave reviews for their innovative methods and fresh themes, in turn raising viewers’ expectations for domestic productions.

According to viewers’ online comments, perhaps the greatest flaw of “Lu Ding Ji” is its 28-year-old male lead, Zhang, who previously had a strong reputation as an actor. But his latest efforts are being panned as “farcical and exaggerated,” as though he’s determined to make his character, Wei, seem comical rather than clever. Continue to read the full article here


– This article is written by Chen Qi’an and Cai Xuejiao. It originally appeared on Sixth Tone.