This is not a news article. Purely my thought. Prereqs: “Legend of the Condor Heroes”, TVB 1994, Athena Chu, Julian Cheung, Gallen Lo; “Golden Faith”, TVB 2002, Jessica Hsuan, Gallen Lo, Deric Wan, Raymond Lam.
I once asked myself, if Yang Kang had not been born into the Sung dynasty, what would have happened? What if the setting for “Legend of the Condor Heroes” had been moved a few hundred years later where the Jin-Sung conflict might have come in some other form, such as in the case of a big bad greedy corporation being battled by a few good men who stand by the law, what would we have had, then?
Taken the character out of his social and historical backdrop, and what do you see? We see a son and a foster home. We see a devoted foster father to whom the son looks up with respect and admiration. We see, in the mind of the son, the idealization (or rather, the idolization) of how a man should be, stemming directly from the father.
Would that description fit quite a few others such as, say, Ivan Ding of “Golden Faith”?
In Ivan, we also see a son who is torn between his foster home and what are defined by the society as being the right things to do. Just like Yang Kang assumes the risk of becoming a traitor to his country, Ivan assumes the risk of becoming a criminal by sticking by his foster family. The moments the two break away from the only thing they have known in their lives so far as families, they become miserable in quite many ways. One being the inability to soar with their strengths. The foster homes provide them the much needed platform where their talents, in both cases here the ability to strategically lead, could be powerfully displayed. Regardless of whether it is the present Ding Fung or the Sung’s Jin, there our characters feel the need for their presences the strongest. Their “homes” give them somewhat a sense of being appreciated.
But that’s where the parallel lines diverge. While Ivan comes back to Ding Fung with an almost impossible, self-assumed mission on his shoulder, Yang Kang comes back to Jin for comfort and because of greed. The equivalent of Ivan’s mission to straighten Ding Fung’s business would be for Yang Kang to be true to his promise he makes to his lady Nianci, to persuade the Jin to stop invading Sung’s land, and to lead Jin the right way.
Aside from the lack of integrity in Yang Kang, other factors which force Yang Kang’s path to stray so far away from Ivan’s might include their significant others. While both Rachel and Mu Nianci hold their principles absolutely rigid, they execute them much differently. Rachel, though still loves Ivan dearly, cuts short their relationship and hence makes a very strong statement. Nianci, on the other hand, fools herself into believing Yang Kang’s excuses (read: lies) every time without failing. Nianci, in a way, greatly encourages the “duality” in Yang Kang’s personality. She is truly the lifeboat for his creative lies. This is a confusing analogy since removing this lifeboat and this Yang Kang who is willing to lead Jin the right way will drown and die. That’s true, but one never knows. He might keep trying to survive on his own and hence kill his alternate, evil persona – the Yang Kang we know. Oh well, it is just wishful thinking on my part. Afterall, the biggest problem with Yang Kang is still his lack of integrity, and we do need an antagonist for “Legend”.
Now for the sake of completeness, we can also think of some ways to turn Ivan into a baddie. But wait, isn’t he already one? Remember, Ivan kills (or thinks he kills) his foster father’s long-time business partner. If Ivan’s action can be justified and redeemed by saying he is forced to pull the trigger because his younger foster sister’s life is on the line, then Yang Kang’s killing rage toward Ouyang Ke after the later insults Nianci may as well be sympathized. Ivan also lies. He lies under oath, obstructs justice and inadvertently helps tossing Rachel’s career out of the window. Ivan’s lies, however, are for the purpose of saving other people’s reputations and lives but never his own. And I guess that makes all the differences.
Still, I want to wonder what kind of fate Ivan would have faced had he been adopted into not the Ding, but the Jin royal family, almost a thousand years ago.