Mandarin Duck Blades

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"Mandarin Duck Blades"
Mandarin Duck Blades.jpg
Book cover
Author Jin Yong
Original title "鴛鴦刀"
Country Hong Kong
Language Chinese
Genre(s) Wuxia
Publisher Ming Pao
Media type Print
Publication date 1961
Mandarin Duck Blades
Traditional Chinese 鴛鴦刀
Simplified Chinese 鸳鸯刀
Literal meaning Mandarin Ducks Sabers

Mandarin Duck Blades,[1][2] also known as Blade-Dance of the Two Lovers, is a wuxia novella by Jin Yong (Louis Cha). It was first serialised in 1961 in the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao.[3]

Plot[edit]

The story is set in the Qing dynasty. A pair of precious blades known as the "Mandarin Duck Blades" are being transported to the Forbidden City by an escort agency commissioned by provincial officials. The blades are highly coveted by many martial artists in the jianghu because they are rumoured to hold a secret to invincibility. The officials have also detained the escort agency chief's family members under the pretext of offering them protection, so as to ensure that the escort agency chief does not keep the blades for himself.

In the midst of various attempts by different parties to intercept the convoy and seize the blades, eventually, through serendipity, the weapons end up in the hands of two couples: Yuan Guannan and Xiao Zhonghui, and Lin Yulong and Ren Feiyan. They are defeated by Zhuo Tianxiong, a highly skilled imperial guard who disguises himself as a blind man and hides in the convoy to protect the blades. The couples are forced to seek refuge in a dilapidated temple while attempting to evade pursuit by Zhuo and his men. Out of desperation, Lin Yulong and Ren Feiyan teach the younger couple, Yuan Guannan and Xiao Zhonghui, a saber movement known as the "Couple's Sabers" (夫妻刀法). The saber movement covers the two partners' weaknesses while multiplying their combat lethality, making them virtually invincible. Yuan and Xiao defeat Zhuo with this new technique.

Later, Yuan Guannan visits Xiao Zhonghui's manor during her father's 50th birthday party and receives a warm welcome. He meets Xiao Zhonghui's father, Xiao Banhe, and his wives, Madam Yang and Madam Yuan. At the dinner, Zhuo Tianxiong and his men show up to seize the blades. At the same time, a group of soldiers show up, but they are there for a different purpose: to arrest Xiao Banhe, who is revealed to be one of the government's most wanted renegades.

While fighting their way out, the young couple's combined prowess is seriously compromised when Yuan Guannan is revealed to be Madam Yuan's long-lost son – which makes him Xiao Zhonghui's half-brother. The group takes refuge at a nearby cave, where Xiao Banhe tells his story.

Xiao Banhe reveals his true identity as a former rebel who infiltrated the palace by disguising himself as a eunuch. In the palace prison, he encountered Yuan and Yang, two other rebels who were captured and imprisoned along with their families. After Yuan and Yang were executed, Xiao broke into the prison and saved their widows and children. Yuan's son (Yuan Guannan) was separated from the group while they were escaping. Xiao Banhe took care of the two widows and pretended to be their husband all this while. He also raised Yang's daughter (Xiao Zhonghui) as his own child. This means that Yuan Guannan and Xiao Zhonghui do not have any blood relations, so they can continue their romance.

Zhuo Tianxiong is coincidentally captured by the "Four Heroes of Taiyue" – four lucky and not-so-highly skilled comical martial artists – and the soldiers retreat. Xiao Banhe reveals the blades' secret: an inscription which says "the merciful are invincible".

Main characters[edit]

  • Yuan Guannan (袁冠南; Yuán Guànnán; Jyun4 Gun3-naam4)
  • Xiao Zhonghui (蕭中慧; 萧中慧; Xiāo Zhōnghuì; Siu1 Zung1-wai3)
  • Lin Yulong (林玉龍; 林玉龙; Lín Yùlóng; Lam4 Juk6-lung4)
  • Ren Feiyan (任飛燕; 任飞燕; Rén Fēiyàn; Jam4 Fei1-jin3)
  • Xiao Banhe (蕭半和; 萧半和; Xiāo Bànhé; Siu1 Bun3-wo4)
  • Zhuo Tianxiong (卓天雄; Zhuó Tiānxíong; Coek3 Tin1-hung4)
  • Zhou Weixin (周威信; Zhōu Wēixìn; Zau1 Wai1-seon3)
  • "Four Heroes of Taiyue" (太岳四俠; 太岳四侠; Tàiyuè Sì Xiá; Taai3-ngok6 Sei3-haap6):
    • Xiaoyaozi (逍遙子; Xiāoyáozǐ; Siu1-jiu4-zi2)
    • Chang Changfeng (常長風; 常长风; Cháng Chángfēng; Soeng4 Coeng4-fung1)
    • Hua Jianying (花劍影; 花剑影; Huā Jiànyǐng; Faa1 Gim3-jing2)
    • Gai Yiming (蓋一鳴; 盖一鸣; Gài Yīmíng; Goi3 Jat1-ming4)

Adaptations[edit]

In 1961 Hong Kong's Emei Film Company produced a two-part Cantonese-language film based on the story. The film was directed by Lee Fa and starred Lam Fung and Chow Chung as Xiao Zhonghui and Yuan Guannan respectively.[4][5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Huss, Ann; Liu, Jianmei (2007). The Jin Yong Phenomenon: Chinese Martial Arts Fiction and Modern Chinese Literary History. Cambria Press. ISBN 9781934043080. 
  2. ^ Hamm, John Christopher (2006). Paper Swordsmen: Jin Yong And the Modern Chinese Martial Arts Novel. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 9780824828950. 
  3. ^ The date conforms to the data published in Chen Zhenhui (陳鎮輝), Wuxia Xiaoshuo Xiaoyao Tan (武俠小說逍遙談), 2000, Huizhi Publishing Company (匯智出版有限公司), p. 58.
  4. ^ Twins Swords Part 1 at the Hong Kong Movie DataBase
  5. ^ Twin Swords Part 2 at the Hong Kong Movie DataBase