The Water Margins iTV4

chrome307

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In this TV adaptation of a famous Chinese folk legend -- a kind of 'Robin Hood in China' -- hero-outlaws fight a corrupt government "in a world very different from our own", with minor fantasy elements (set in China, made in Japan, dubbed into English) -- it's now available on iTV4 on Saturdays (started yesterday). Originally on BBC-2 and premiered January 1, 1976.

Gradually, over the 26 episodes, wicked Kao Chui forces each of the 'nine dozen heroes', one way or another, into outlawry, thereby sealing his own fate. For they go to join the rebel band living in the water margins of Liang Shan Po, forming a steadily growing force of opposition to Kao. After numerous adventures, sword fights, complex plots, counter-plots, sub-plots, and gobs of opaque oriental philosophy, the heroes eventually overthrow him.

Every episode features at least one set-piece sword fight, as our heroes carve their way through ever-increasing numbers of soldiers, bandits, or whoever else is in their way. But it's not just the fighting, fun though it is: the characters develop -- Lin Chung grows from a conscientious army officer into a great hero -- Kao Chiu descends from a small time bully to a terrible tyrant. The complex story of how various law-abiding, upright citizens are forced onto the wrong side of the law -- but manage to keep to the moral high ground -- how they are forced into rebellion against the corrupt government, holds the attention.

The dubbing is exquisite, virtually lip-synched throughout, so you can easily forget it is dubbed. This does force the dialogue to be a bit bizarre and disjointed in places, but that's just part of the charm. Also, the dubbing uses (mostly fake) Chinese accents, greatly helping the realism.

Episodes:

1 Nine Dozen Heroes and One Wicked Man
(Hajime Takaiwa, Toshio Masuda/Toshio Masuda)
2 None Ever Escape Alive
(Hajime Takaiwa, Ichiro Miyakawa, Toshio Masuda/Toshio Masuda)
3 Both at Last Will Reach the Sea
(Ichiro Miyakawa/Shigeo Takahashi)
4 Ever Busy are the Gods of Love
(Ichiro Miyakawa/Shigeo Takahashi)
5 A Treasure of Gold and Jade
(Kaneo Ikegami, Toshio Masuda/Toshio Masuda)
6 Bandits who Steal are Executed
(Kaneo Ikegami, Toshio Masuda/Toshio Masuda)
7 How Easy to Die, How Hard to Live
(Ichiro Miyakawa, Nobuo Nakagawa/Nobuo Nakagawa)
8 A Man's Only Happiness
(Ichiro Miyakawa, Nobuo Nakagawa/Nobuo Nakagawa)
9 A Dutiful Son and the Love of a Brother
(Kaneo Ikegami, Toshio Masuda/Keiichi Ozawa)
10 Escape is Not Freedom
(Kaneo Ikegami, Toshio Masuda/Keiichi Ozawa)
11 The Girl Who Loved the Flower Priest
(Ichiro Miyakawa/Katsumi Nishikawa)
12 Kao Chiu Loses His Heart
(Ichiro Miyakawa/Katsumi Nishikawa)
13 When Liang Shan Po Robbed the Poor
(Kaneo Ikegami/Yasuo Furihata)
14 A Death for Love, More Deaths from Greed
(Kaeno Ikegami/Yasuo Furihata)
15 The Bravest Tiger is First Killed
(Ichiro Miyakawa/Sokichi Tomimoto)
16 Heaven Aims the Master's Arrow
(Ichiro Miyakawa/Sokichi Tomimoto)
17 The Traps of Love and Hate
(Kaneo Ikegami/Yasuo Furihata)
18 A Foolish Sage Who Got Involved
(Kaneo Ikegami/Yasuo Furihata)
19 Mourn the Slaughter of So Many
(Ichiro Miyakawa, Sentaro Murano/Sentaro Murano)
20 The War to End All Wars
(Ichiro Miyakawa, Sentaro Murano/Sentaro Murano)
21 Death of a Great Man
(Toshio Masuda/Keiichi Ozawa)
22 Lin Chung is Beaten
(Toshio Masuda/Keiichi Ozawa)
23 A Concubine's Dowry
(Ichiro Miyakawa/Katsumi Nishikawa)
24 Liang Shan Po and the Millionaire
(Ichiro Miyakawa/Gyo Komata)
25 Knight of the Long Sword
(Kaneo Ikegami/Daisuke Yamazaki)
26 The Dynasty of Kao
(Kaneo Ikegami/Daisuke Yamazaki)

Available from Amazon as a complete set DVD for £54, released 7 Feb 2005.

Code:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00073I8M2/026-3266477-5301233
 
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