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Literature / The Deer and the Cauldron

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Wei Xiaobao is the lazy, uncouth, trouble-making ne'er-do-well son of a prostitute who does nothing but hang around all day, whether it be the halls of the Lichun Court brothel or the streets of Yangzhou, making questionable friends. This has only bitten him in the ass on two major occasions. One day, he chances upon some educated-looking men in dire danger and offers to shield them from the bloodthirsty authorities - after which he learns that they're all with La Résistance, and ends up entangled in their plot to dismantle the monarchy. His new (unwanted) mission - find a mysterious document somewhere in the Forbidden City known only as the 42 Scriptures, by applying to be the pageboy of a high-ranking eunuch, which proves to be a little less cushy than expected. Knowing he can still survive on favors, Wei Xiaobao smooth talks his way into the good graces of everyone from the chambermaids to the captain of the guard, and befriends a young boy named Xuan Luo... then, to Xiaobao's surprise, he discovers that Xuan Luo is the current Emperor.


So begin Wei Xiaobao's life as a reluctant pawn of both the revolutionaries and the Emperor, trying to stay alive as he constantly finds himself the target of innumerable attempts to kill him. Meanwhile, he travels around China in search of great treasure and adds more and more women to his growing harem.

The Deer and the Cauldron (also known as The Duke of Mount Deer) is the second to last work of Jin Yong that plays with, if not outright breaks, quite a bit of the author's previous Wuxia conventions.

The novel has been adapted to a two part film starring Stephen Chow in 1992 and a 50 episode TV series in 2008, as well as many other adaptations.

    This book shows examples of: 
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Wei Xiaobao picks up a dagger that can cut through anything. It's even referred to as being able to "slice iron like mud" in lieu of being a Named Weapon.
  • Abusive Parents: Or foster parent in the case of Jiunan, the One-Armed Nun and her treatment of A-Ke, whom she practically raised. Training her in several known styles to mask her origins only led to her mastering incomplete techniques. It was all part of Jiunan's plan to set her loose on Wu Sangui, her father.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: When a bunch of Yunnan officers visit the capital on the pretext of seeing Wu Yingxiong, Wei's newly minted cavalry officer gets into a dispute with them over the performance of their purebred horses against the royal cavalry's own, and Wei proposes to settle it with a horse race (nearly inventing a new high-stakes game in the process)... then gets cold feet and tries to fix the race by bribing a groom into feeding the Yunnan horses something he probably shouldn't. Turns out the race was a lie and Wei inadvertently thwarted Wu Yingxiong's escape attempt, tracking him down by following the trail of horse diahrrea.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: Some live action versions deliberately bump up Shuang Er to Wei's childhood friend, most likely to ensure he has a Morality Pet.
  • Adapted Out: Due to time constraints or several other constraints, some live action versions like Stephen Chow's Royal Tramp movies fail to include all seven wives.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: It's arguable how much the Lichun Court brothel counts as a "base", but the Dragon Sect infiltrate it, take all the women hostage and impersonate all the staff to lay a trap for Wei and the royals behind him.
  • Anti-Hero: Wei Xiaobao.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: One of Wei's new friends is Shaolin abbot Chengguan, ordained as one of the Four Great Iron Monks (which would make him a martial arts authority within THE martial arts authority) trained in identifying and figuring out counterattacks to every known martial arts style. He's the first one to work out that A-Ke was trained in several incomplete styles to mask her origins (as Jiunan's disciple). Trying to figure out something he could teach Wei Xiaobao nearly gives him an aneurysm though.
  • Babies Ever After: Subverted. Three of the seven bear Wei Xiaobao's babies, but they're still on the run after Wei was outed as part of La Résistance, and the story's far from over.
  • Badass Family: The Gui family look like an elderly couple stuck taking care of a mentally impaired son who's above 40 at least, but their combined strength could beat a small army. Unfortunately, they're the ones who killed Wu Liuqi due to a Frame-Up.
  • Bad Boss: Quite a few, but Dragon Sect leader Hong Antong takes the cake for keeping his legions under his thumb by drugging and poisoning them.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Any time the legendary Shaolin temple is involved in the storyline, you're going to see these. In this case, the Qing Emperor's authority has summoned their best of the best, designated as the Four Great Iron Monks. Interestingly, an opposing faction of similar martial artists hailing from Tibet (yes, martial arts lamas) join the already growing violent conflict.
  • Battle Butler:
    • Fang Yi to Mu Jianping.
    • Zheng Keshuang has Feng Xifan, a boss-level martial artist so dangerous you have to wonder why Zheng isn't a more dangerous individual under his tutelage. It's all part of the Zheng matriarch's plan to keep him, the functional heir to the throne they're after, out of danger.
  • Beard of Evil: Ao Bai, something that every Live-Action Adaptation has faithfully agreed on.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Wei Xiaobao blunders his way into several historical events, including the signing of the first equal treaty between China and a foreign power and being the first to step foot on an island that later fell into dispute between China and Japan.
  • Benevolent Boss: Chen Jinnan of the Heaven and Earth sect is practically A Father to His Men.
  • Bittersweet Ending: As one of the fictional characters, Wei's final fate is to disappear into history - he ends up losing the bulk of his fortune, and he can never see his friend the Emperor again, but as the unseen proprietor of a chain of brothels, it's just as cushy as he needs it to be.
  • Blood Knight: Ao Bai is the typical "war hero in peacetime" archetype - much of his actions involve goading the Emperor into authorizing the executions of people that he can't kill with his own hands.
  • Body Horror: The Dragon Sect leader has all his followers drugged with something that they have to keep taking or else it'll cause this. The Thin Monk has already been turned into a fat guy and the Fat Monk into a thin guy, and they got off lucky.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Princess Jian Ning is one of the most open characters about her love of BDSM out of all of Jin Yong's characters... and she certainly is one of the more insane characters of the series. But at the same time, Xiaobao plays along with it...
  • Book Dumb: Wei Xiaobao, who is illiterate and constantly recites idioms incorrectly. However...
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: He doesn't want to put any effort into study or practice, as he has proven more than enough times that he's certainly smart enough to learn.
  • Broken Bird: A-Ke by the last quarter of the story.
  • Bulletproof Vest: One of Ao Bai's treasures, which gets turned over to Wei Xiaobao along with his entire estate, and literally saves Wei's skin time after time.
  • Chekhov's Armoury:
    • After Ao Bai is dealt with, the Emperor puts Wei in charge of Ao Bai's estate, which includes the cash that starts up Xiaobao's fortune, and a number of items that come into use later, like the Bulletproof Vest. Hai Dafu also leaves behind a number of drugs and powders after his demise.
    • It's testament to Wei's Brilliant, but Lazy nature that he finds use for a dozen other people's gimmicks for himself down the line, like scattering slaked lime to blind people, or just drugging them from the large pot of sedatives in his growing inventory.
    • During the final chapter, the entire "armoury" itself gets this treatment, when Wei is forced to give up the location of the Manchurian treasure, and ends up leading them to a fake location that's been filled with all of his own riches. As the dungeon finally collapses, Wei's final act is to pass the Bulletproof Vest to the Emperor.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Actual guns, a gift to Wei Xiaobao from Wu Sangui, which get separated and used in several occasions like Jianning castrating Wu's own son.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Wei Xiaobao is incredibly foul-mouthed. Of course, this is for the effect of showing the readers that Wei Xiaobao is an uneducated boy who was raised in a red light district.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The volumes of the 42 Chapters will often have punny names to assign colors to them. Some live action versions go a step further by actually coloring them that way.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Wei Xiaobao pays lip service to Jianghu ideals, but when he's fighting for his own survival or to protect someone he cares about he doesn't hesitate to use every trick in the book.
  • Continuity Nod: Most notably to The Sword Stained with Royal Blood. The "great master" that saved Shuang-er and the survivors of the Zhuang estate is implied to be He Tieshou; and one of the prominent characters, the One-Armed Nun, is a surviving Princess Changping.
  • Cool Old Guy: One of Wei Xiaobao's earliest allies is Duke Kang, the Emperor's own uncle. Shuang-er's foster father Uncle Guang is a subversion as Wei is constantly keeping him out of trouble and gambling debt until his connection with Hai Dafu is revealed.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Liu Yizhou, who pursues Wei Xiaobao in rage after overhearing Fang Yi's conversation, who mentioned herself spending the night with Xiaobao. It doesn't end well for Yizhou.
  • Dark Action Girl: Wife of the Dragon Sect leader, Su Quan, who's far more well-versed in the odd clawing-based martial arts that Empress impersonator Mao Dongzhu nearly killed Wei with at least once. A-Ke veers into this, being trained as an assassin since young, but ultimately subverts it as her sensei Jiunan was just using her for revenge.
  • Decadent Court: The Imperial Court.
  • Dented Iron: Chief Hong of the Dragon Sect is well past his heyday, and still takes the combined betrayal of all his surviving cult members and Wei's usual dirty tricks to bring down.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • Our first real look at what Liu Yishou is made of, when he leads a sneak attack on the palace to Frame-Up the visiting Wu Sangui, only to duck into a corner and avoid the actual carnage. He still gets captured for it.
    • Zheng Keshuang turns out to be an even more flagrant one. He falls for A-Ke immediately and agrees to follow her to the temple to hunt down Wei Xiaobao, but then realizes they're greatly outmatched when a Shaolin monk (yes, one guy) can hold them off. The next thing he does is wait till A-Ke is beaten and laid out cold, then flee.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The seemingly unkillable General Ao Bai, whose death ingratiates Wei Xiaobao to the Emperor and kickstarts the plot.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Liu Yizhou to Fang Yi (Latent Jealousy type), Zheng Keshuang to A Ke (Evil All Along type).
  • Disposing of a Body: They actually predate Breaking Bad with a powder Hai Dafu uses to melt down dead bodies by applying to the fatal wounds.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: One of Wei's "treasures" acquired on his trips is apparently Japanese shunga art, which he uses on Qing officers while he substitutes the captive Mao Shiba, moments before his execution, for living loose end Feng Xifan.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Xiabao ends up with so many conflicting loyalties (some genuine, some forced on him) that he ends up deciding to run away from it all rather than try to figure out who he should really serve.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Shuang-Er's faithfulness to Wei Xiaobao has led to several of his new friends asking her if she has any more like her at home. She's actually a war orphan, so the answer is a very pointed no.
    • In order to suck up to Chen Yuanyuan since his real target is her daughter A-Ke's hand, Wei Xiaobao starts pointing out all the times in history when the downfall of civilizations were wrongfully attributed to famous women. Then he has to eat his words really fast with The Reveal that a woman, the One-Armed Nun is responsible for setting up A-Ke to kill her own father.
    Wei: What doom hath women wrought upon history - when they actually start trying!
  • Evil Cripple:
    • Hai Dafu, an old eunuch with some terminal conditions (only made worse when Wei tries to poison him and just leaves him blind instead) and the lethal Bone-Melting Palm skill, Bad Boss to boot, and not even the biggest threat in the story.
    • Dragon Sect leader Hong Antong needs a little help getting onto his feet due to his advanced years... but is powerful enough to kill someone from the comfort of his seat anyways.
  • Fallen Princess: Jiunan, formerly Princess Changping, daughter of the last Ming emperor Chongzhen. Her younger self is a major character in Sword Stained with Royal Blood, another work of Jin Yong.
  • First Girl Wins: Played With. Shuang Er was not the first girl Xiaobao met (Mu Jianping was), but the first to return his affections, and though Xiaobao ended up marrying all of his love interests she remains the most loyal to him.
  • Frame-Up: Corrupt official Wu Zhirong sets up the head of the Zhuang estate for possessing artifacts from the fallen Ming dynasty, and has the entire family and any followers and servants imprisoned, just after Shuang-Er became one of their maids.
  • Gambit Pileup: Grabbing the 42 chapters is just the one goal that the dozen or so different factions are after at the same time - there's also the death of Wu Sangui, the restoration of the Ming dynasty, as vague as it seems since there's like three estates after said throne, and ultimately control of all China is at stake. Wei Xiaobao is responsible for damage control at an international level (as well as some of the damage considering he holds several conflicting positions of power) as he has to prevent them from even knowing each others' existence, but as the Chinese saying goes, you cannot use paper to wrap a fire...
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of Wuxia.
  • Genre Savvy: Wei's supposed street smarts is really the culmination of everything he's learned about the history of China. Mind you, all of it was in spoken-word form.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: The 42 Chapters (fortunately it's less than 42 parts that have to be found).
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Wei Xiaobao learns, sometimes firsthand, that both the royal court and the revolutionaries are ready to do some very terrible things for what they believe in. And that's not counting the number of outside forces that have China in their sights...
  • Groin Attack:
    • Imperial eunuchs play a huge part in this story, which already says plenty. What this means is that Wei, impersonating a palace eunuch half the time, has had to escape this at least once by the skin of his teeth (and certain other body parts, we're sure).
    • Wei Xiaobao convinces Princess Jianning to go along with her unwanted betrothal to the son of Wu Sangui, by getting her to set him up for rape on their wedding night. To sell it further, he passes her one of the two guns gifted to him, which she uses on her new husband the best way she can.
  • Handicapped Badass: Jiunan, the One-Armed Nun. Says it all, really.
  • Heroic Bastard: Wei Xiaobao.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Despite growing up in a brothel, Wei Xiaobao has remained savvily immune to all the prostitutes' charms, saving all his genuine affection for... okay, there's seven of them, but the point still stands.
    • According to Shaolin abbot Chengguan, A-Ke has the potential to be a martial arts prodigy if she was able to learn enough techniques from different schools to mask her origins (just not well enough to evade his analysis). Unfortunately it's really the result of her sensei being irresponsible.
  • Historical Domain Character: The Emperor Kangxi and several prominent members of the imperial court.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Being raised by the mostly resentful and at best indifferent Jiunan has turned A-Ke into one.
  • Hot-Blooded: Fang Yi of the Mu estate, considered especially so for women of her time.
  • I Am Not Your Father: Turns out Princess Jianning is really the child of the woman impersonating the Empress and the Thin Monk, which would make her... nothing, really.
  • I Gave My Word:
    • When attacked in mid-travel by Zeng Rou and the Wangwu soldiers, Wei manages to turn the tables on them, but gives them a shot at their freedom by joining the gambling table already laid out. And he does set them free when they win. Zeng Rou is won over this way.
    • Towards the end of the story, Chen Jinnan is backstabbed by Zheng Keshuang and dies, but due to his Undying Loyalty to La Résistance he makes Wei promise him not to seek revenge. It doesn't extend to Feng Xifan though.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: At some point the "slice iron like mud" knife started getting treated like one. The most telling incident is when Wei is forced to stab the Qing captain of the guard Duolong in the back, to let the Heaven and Earth sect escape... and apparently the wound is so clean that Duolong survives.
  • The Ingenue: Mandarin princess Mu Jianping.
  • Indy Ploy: Not surprisingly, Wei has to rely on these on every other occasion.
  • In-Series Nickname: The aliases used by Wei Xiaobao and Emperor Kang Xi to sneak around the Forbidden City under the radar, Xiaoguizi and Xiaoxuanzi respectively, get recycled into this eventually.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Princess Jian Ning and Wei Xiaobao's relationship. With a whip. And candles. Yikes.
  • Kavorka Man: It's easy to forget that Wei Xiaobao is foul-mouthed, uneducated, a massive coward who seldom leaves a good first impression, yet he has rightfully earned the genuine affection of seven women. The Adaptational Attractiveness from some of the China-made series doesn't help.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Corrupt official Wu Zhirong has been claiming familial relations to one Wu Sangui (note the identical surnames) well before he set up the Zhuang estate for colluding with Ming loyalists, and executing all their menfolk - making it pretty easy for Wei to set him up for treason, then literally stringing him up to present to the surviving Zhuang womenfolk.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: One underrated aspect of Wei Xiaobao is the ever-growing number of useful items he "picks up" in the course of his adventures.
  • La Résistance: The Ming loyalists during Qing rule are actually a recurring trope in many literary works set in this period. In this case, they're apparently the first major one given how early the Qing dynasty is, and they're named the Heaven and Earth Sect.
    • A secret night meeting reveals that there's quite a few such like-minded groups - the Zheng estate from Taiwan, the Mu estate, the Wangwu group and some smaller ones. Unfortunately they can't work together without snapping at each others' throats.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Invoked - Wei Xiaobao ends up dragged into an affair with Princess Jianning for a good long while without anything ever happening, up until the Siege of Lichun Court chapter, easily the worst possible time for one of the seven to get pregnant considering he hasn't formally won them all over at the time. Also worth noting at this point is that Wei has gone from being poisoned by Hai Dafu to being hit by Mao Dongzhu's Dragon Sect martial arts, to being extra-poisoned by Chief Hong, making it a miracle that he can have children at all!
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Wei Xiaobao figures out that Hai Dafu's corpse-melting powder can remain active for a while, and gets the idea to bait one of the pursuing Bare-Fisted Monk lamas with one of the 42 Scriptures still covered in it. By the time the lama figures it out, his finger bones are already visible, and he has to lop off the whole hand.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Several, from the classic '70s Pragmatic Adaptation that turned Tony Leung into a star to the movies starring Stephen Chow.
  • Living Macguffin: One of Ao Bai's political prisoners is actually a Russian friar-cum-scientist, credited with researching Chinese fireworks and channeling them to create the handgun.
  • The Load: Mu Jianping and Princess Jianning out of the seven wives. Jianping is utterly reliant on Fang Yi and Cannot Tell a Lie, while Jianning can go along with Wei's scams but at other times comes across as Too Dumb to Live.
  • Love at First Sight: Wei Xiaobao's reaction when he meets A Ke at Shaolin Temple.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: A-Ke was the child of Chen Yuanyuan and Wu Sangui, the man she was raised to kill. Or be killed by. Jiunan didn't really care either way. At least until the truth got out... that A-Ke's father was actually Li Zhicheng, the man who abducted Chen Yuanyuan and caused Wu to ally with the Manchu empire in the first place. Jiunan literally cast her out on the streets when she found out.
  • MacGuffin: The 42 Scriptures again. On the surface, they're a geomancy guide to the leylines and other geographical mumbo-jumbo supposedly responsible for the strength and longevity of the Qing Empire, but uniting all the chapters (or rather, the sheepskin map fragments hidden in the covers, something Wei figures out ahead of time thanks to the One-Armed Nun) will reveal the location of a much more mundane source of power - ancient buried treasure.
  • Marital Rape License: Despite quite a bit of Values Dissonance elsewhere, this one is apparently invalid on the actual wedding night, as Princess Jianning not only sets up Wu Yingxiong for rape, but blasts his parts off in "self defense".
  • Marry Them All: What Wei Xiaobao had in mind, pretty much ever since the beginning. With all seven of his love interests. In his defense, people in those days could do that, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Subverted as Chen Jinnan never really found the time to give Wei formal lessons, but dies anyway. The One-Armed Nun, on the other hand (ugh, sorry) is responsible for the only martial arts lesson Wei fully sat through, but her eventual fate is to disappear into history.
  • The Mole: Wei Xiaobao has gotten out of one scrape after another by claiming to be one for whichever is convenient at the time. He ends up holding several official titles; but it's a lot less funny considering the number of actual moles out there. One is eventually responsible for outing Wei to the Emperor, starting the refugee chapter.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Drinking and gambling tend to follow Wei Xiaobao around well before his seven wives did.
  • Mundane Utility: In order to suck up to the One-Armed Nun and win A-Ke's favor, Wei Xiaobao briefly uses the Absurdly Sharp Blade to prepare dessert. Let's hope he cleaned it first...
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Wei Xiaobao often receives terrible reminders that he's not Born Lucky like much of the text would have you believe. He brings up Uncle Guang in front of Hai Dafu without knowing anything of their shared history, and this leads to Uncle Guang's death.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Fat Monk, who is thin, and the Thin Monk, who is fat. Wei Xiaobao lampshades this. It turns out a drug's side effect caused those changes to their appearances.
  • Numerical Theme Naming: Wei Xiaobao's first three children are born during the refugee chapter, and he ends up naming them with dice throws. We're not even kidding.
  • One-Man Army: Any of the boss-level martial artists can claim this. Ao Bai in particular can back up the 'army' part, having been in an actual war.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In universe, Xiaobao has a tendency to slip into his native Yanzhou accent, especially when cussing.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Kang Xi does come across as too young to be Emperor, specifically because his father, Emperor Shun De abdicated the crown directly to him before disappearing. Tracking him down forms its own story arc as Wei has to (very unwillingly) infiltrate a monastery. As a monk.
    • Some takes on the story have Wei's mother telling him his real father walked out on them (and that's assuming she knows who that is.)
  • Parental Substitute: Having eked it out with just his mother in his life, Wei has been subconsciously latching on to these just as much as his seven wives, from Uncle Guang to Chen Jinnan, Duke Kang and particularly the One-Armed Nun.
  • Pragmatic Hero: Xiabao, though he's more of a pragmatic anti-hero given that he mostly does things out of self interest or self preservation (though he does have his moments of genuine heroism).
  • The Quisling: Wu Sangui, one of most prominent examples in China's history.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Liu Yizhou makes another attempt at taking down Wei Xiaobao, this time by allying with Wu Sangui against the entire Mu estate. Considering Wu Sangui's personal and relevant experience in the matter, all it takes is for Wei to out Liu as having sold out his people before to turn the tables.
  • Running Gag: Xiaobao hits on the women he's into by calling them his wives, and when the more temperamental of them hits him for his verbal (or physical) sexual harassment, he makes a stink about them wanting to murder their own husbands. (This pays off as one final darkly humorous Brick Joke when Xiaobao decides to wash his hands of the mess he's in by pretending that, what else, one of his wives actually murdered him.)
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Wei Xiaobao, Wei Xiaobao... pretty much the only thing that keeps him in line is the Emperor himself.
  • Secret Test of Character: Wei needs a genuinely competent military officer on his side when the Qing empire resorts to power plays, and summons a bunch of officers for no apparent reason, picking out the only one with the backbone to stand up to him... Except it's all a massive excuse, as Wei had met the guy once but only remembered him having a Badass Beard, and summoned every bearded officer in the off-chance he could still identify the bugger.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The revolutionaries themselves, making them Fanfic Fuel of sorts when Wei Xiaobao spins tales about them as a sort of standup routine in the brothel. He earns revolutionary leader Chen Jinnan's respect this way, as any mention of the revolutionaries when royal courtiers are a part of your clientele can be a very bad idea.
  • So Beautiful It's a Curse: Chen Yuanyuan in the backstory of the Qing empire itself. That's not an exaggeration - she was a concubine of Wu Sangui, a Ming official who thought he could get her back by allying with the growing Manchurian empire and basically selling out China. As her child A-Ke later proved, it's practically In the Blood.
  • The So-Called Coward: While Wei Xiaobao's first instinct is to run away (he even learns a martial art based entirely on running away), when push comes to shove he can be incredibly heroic.
  • Son of a Whore: Wei Xiaobao again.
  • Spoiled Brat: Princess Jian Ning, although she also tends to like being mistreated, since she's a masochist.
  • Stacy's Mom: Chen Yuan Yuan, who despite being a middle-aged woman still manages to be the most beautiful woman in any room (even outshining her own daughter). Wei Xiaobao tells her in all earnestness that she is most definitely a woman worth throwing away a country for.
  • Stronger with Age: For some reason all of the strongest martial artists are some of the oldest characters as well. Hai Dafu is a mostly blind old eunuch with a martial arts skill that only ever has a lethal setting; Ao Bai is a war veteran with a combat record dripping in blood and a bristly beard; the One-Armed Nun is secretly the princess of the former monarchy and last living remnant of a dead dynasty. Dragon Sect leader Hong Antong could suppress a room full of people with just his Battle Aura in his heyday - in present day he can kill someone while under the effect of crippling poisons.
  • Stuffed in the Fridge:
    • Wei makes friends with Yang Yizhi, the Token Good Teammate in Wu Sangui's camp - it's not till Princess Jianning's bethrothal in Yunnan that Wei finds out that Yang has been being tortured to death by Wu Sangui because the paranoid asshole thought Yang would eventually betray Wu.
    • Wei is in the middle of dragging Wu Zhirong to his comeuppance when they're stuck with dealing with the Gui family, and Wei decides to drug all of them and sort things out later. It's not until he goes through their stuff that he learns they were carrying the head of Wu Liuqi the whole time.
    • Male or female, it really sucks to be a nameless servant: they often end up as casualties when intrigue happens because either they just happen to be in the way or they saw/heard something they shouldn't have.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Whichever of the seven wives that are already with Wei often have to keep under the radar this way. Sometimes repeatedly.
  • Time Skip: The refugee chapter. After Wei and the seven wives find the original uncharted island that was his forward base to hit the Dragon Sect, the story jumps ahead a couple of years to the Emperor's search party catching up to him.
  • Together in Death: The final fate of Li Zhicheng and Chen Yuanyuan.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Shuang Er, under the tutelage of someone implied to be He Tieshou. With so many boss-level martial artists out there, she still rates a 4 out of a scale of 1 to 10, but in the time it took that's plenty.
    • Wei Xiaobao's time with the One-Armed Nun apparently taught him to find his courage, or failing that a good workaround - after the One-Armed Nun is incapacitated by a pursuing band of Bare-Fisted Monk lamas, Wei relies on his own quick wits and admittedly cowardly backstabbing, and kills off most of them!
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Liu Yizhou tries to sell Wei Xiaobao out when encountering some goonies from the Mystic Dragon Cult, who were seeking the latter, resulting in risking the lives of his lover and companions. Fang Yi decides to leave him afterwards.
    • At the end of the refugee chapter, the Emperor welcomes Wei back with open arms, having learned of the death of Chen Jinnan, which should resolve whatever responsibilities Wei had to the Heaven and Earth Sect, and even awards Wei the titular Duke of Mount Deer rank... and then it's revealed that the promotion is for the merit of killing Chen Jinnan, which the Emperor made sure to make public. That lovely mansion he built to house all seven wives? They're functionally his hostages now.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: The ultimate example might very well be Princess Jian Ning. Wei Xiaobao hits her, and she likes it. She's very explicit in her adoration of BDSM.
  • To the Pain:
    • The Manchurian empire supposedly carries out this form of torture, which is on record as having existed about two dynasties prior, and extends to lopping off the limbs. Wei is able to freak out a captive assailant this way, and it helps when you have an Absurdly Sharp Blade that can carry out said lopping off at a moment's notice. Of course Wei's too much of a wimp to do it for real, but it's the thought that counts.
    • After being suspected of treason and tortured for months on end on top of having his limbs cut off, tongue pulled out, and eyes blinded, poor Yang Yizhi finally died of his wounds shortly after Xiaobao found him.
  • Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: Deconstructed as Wei winds up bearing several opposing titles - Yellow Horse Envoy for the Qing Empire, Greenwood Hall leader for the Heaven and Earth Sect, White Dragon Emissary of the Mystic Dragon Cult, and those are just the top three.
  • Tsundere: A Ke, who is very hostile to Xiaobao initially, due to her not-so-good first impression of him.
  • Tyke Bomb: A Ke, who was kidnapped as an infant by her master, Jiunan, a former Ming princess, and raised as a tool to help her master get revenge on Wu Sangui, her real father.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • Shuang-Er to Wei Xiaobao. No contest.
    • Quite a few Qing officers that made friends with Wei end up letting him flee after he's outed as part of the Heaven and Earth Sect, at massive risk to their own lives.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The revolutionaries are split among which of the surviving Ming royals to return to the throne (some are secretly plotting to take over for themselves, whether directly or as The Man Behind the Man); when Xiaobao first meets them, they're trying to clear up a dispute that started over an argument along this vein and ended with one revolutionary dead and another grievously injured.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Wei Xiaobao doesn't care for chivalry when his own life is own the line.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Xiaobao is a preeminent expert of crocodile tears, having used them to get out of trouble ever since he was a young child. This ability also makes it really easy for him to make scapegoats out of anybody he doesn't like or wants to get into trouble.
  • You Go, Girl!: Zeng Rou, who's often confused with Fang Yi for their parallel origins (she's from the Wangwu group, founded by a Ming officer, as opposed to the Mu estate which is headed by a Ming aristocrat), down to heading sneak attacks alongside the men.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: When Hai Dafu suspects Wei Xiaobao of killing the guy who would've been his pageboy in his place, he keeps Wei under his thumb by hitting him with a supposedly slow-acting variant of his Bone-Melting Palm, with Tainted Veins and everything. The combined efforts of Wei's backers in La Résistance and whatever else Wei can scrape together to rectify this can take up their own arc.

As I was walking to St Ives, I met a man with seven wives...

    The 1992 Film version contains examples of: 

  • Adapted Out:
    • Instead of Wei's mother we get an older sister, played by longtime Chow collaborator Sandra Ng.
    • Mu Jianping, Fang Yi and Zeng Rou do not appear in any form this version.
  • Ass Shove: Wei's sister teaches him how to hit a certain acupoint down there to undo a hernia. Of all things, THIS is used as a Chekhov's Gun.
  • Badass in Distress: In the second movie, Chan Jinan is defeated by Feng Xifan and imprisoned in the Qing Empire. Xiaobao rescues him after the climatic battle.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Long'er, after transferring her powers to Xiaobao, becomes significantly weaker in combat and instead mentors Xiaobao in how to use the new powers in the climatic battle of the second movie.
  • Butt-Monkey: Xiaobao gets the receiving end of comedic misfortune a lot throughout the movies.
  • Composite Character: This movie started a recurring tradition in later adaptations to turn Dragon Sect queen Su Quan and Empress impersonator Mao Dongzhu into one person.
  • Crotch-Grab Sex Check: Invoked as a plot point - it's the fastest way to expose a not-eunuch after all. Then Hai Dafu imparts some martial arts to Wei, who starts using this to gain the upper hand... so to speak.
  • Decomposite Character: Shuang Er's name is taken literally, as she's replaced with a pair of Corsican Twins here.
  • Denser and Wackier: Since it stars Stephen Chow, there's bound to be sexual humor to go along with the story.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Princess Jianning and Xiaobao's first time is deliberately done in the style of 70s' Chinese melodramas, making it look for all the world like she deflowered him. (Which isn't that far out of character, honestly.)
  • Gorn: Within the opening scene there's Aobai knocking heads off of assassins. And then there's Hai Dafu's Bone Crushing Soft Palm attack....
  • Groin Attack: The Emperor gets his pubic hair torn off by Xiaobao.
  • Nature Abhors a Virgin: In the second movie, Long'er inherits her master's sacred martial art powers, and once she has sex, 80% of it's power will be transferred to whoever she sleeps with. Said person ends up being Xiaobao, who she resents at first.
  • Non-Action Guy: Xiaobao for most of the two movies, until the end of the 2nd movie where he goes one-on-one against Feng Xifan. The Emperor and Duolong are more straighter examples.
  • Pragmatic Hero: Chen Jinnnan is a much more cynical character in this version, as he uses the Heaven and Earth Sect as a tool for political power and personal gain rather than a genuine desire to restore the Ming dynasty. He even tells Xiaobao point blank that the motto of "Overthrowing the Qing and Restoring the Ming" is not worth the paper it's printed on, since what your average person really cares about is social and economic stability that the "rebels", being little more than thugs wrapped up in nice-sounding ideology, can't provide.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: In both movies.
    • First one was when Princess Jianning begs to Xiaobao to hit her and once Xiaobao uses the Breast Grabbing Dragon Claw on her, the camera cuts to thunder outside, then next scene has Xiaobao shirtless in bed while Jianning puts a dress on.
    • Second movie has Long'er, after being poisoned by Feng Xifan, has to sacrifice her virginity (as well as her martial art powers) to Xiaobao in order to stay alive by forming a ball around them using leaves. We see her undressing and then it cuts to the next morning.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Chen Jinnan, though he loses an arm.
  • Tomboy Princess: Jianning is very brash and upbeat, and is even first introduced wearing masculine clothing.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Chunhua is last seen with Xiaobao's wives in his private quarters and is absent when he flees the land along with Chan Jinan and his five wives.


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