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Short Sabre Story

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A relatively short[1] Wuxia series from 1998, starring the fan-favourite Dicky Cheung[2] as the main character. Part of the season trilogy called "Sabre Song", though it's mostly disconnected from the other two. [3]

Shen Yu Men, the no.1 lead figure in the Pugilist Community dies from injuries during a confrontation with his arch-nemesis, head of the Qing Yi sect, Chen Shi Yuan. This is found out only by his butler, Shi Bao Shan, and the two chamber maids, the mature and friendly Shui Xian, and the playful and food-happy Mu Dan.

Meanwhile, the same day, a young but talented chef named Meng Xiao Hua - who looks exactly like Shen Yu Men - has just completed his 15-year apprenticeship as a cook in only 10-years, and has just officially started his career. The butler and the maids, while stopping by the restaurant he works in for a meal, spot his uncanny resemblance; to prevent the potential chaos that can arise in the Pugilist Community due to a sudden power vacuum, and also to prevent the Qing Yi sect from spreading evil in the absence of its only formidable rival, Shi Bao Shan decides to take him away and shape him into a perfect Body Double - against his will, of course.

Not only suddenly knocked off the path to a bright and clear future but also thrown into a lethal conflict against his will, Xiao Hua is, naturally, completely against it. Unfortunately for him, there's no turning back anymore; under the guise of injury-induced Laser-Guided Amnesia, he was sent back "home" to "recuperate". Once he arrived at "his" mansion, though, he awkwardly finds out that masquerading as the Chief under the ever-watching Shi Bao Shan is the least of his worries; in addition to his nemeses outside of his private life, Shen Yu Men was apparently awfully distant from his family members too - his younger brother hates his guts, and his wife had been practically a stranger to him for the past 5 years. And then there's the harem of beatiful girls Yu Men gathered during his lifetime in addition to his wife... To make things worse, all of them know Kung Fu are well-respected top-notch martial artists, and they're not afraid to get violent - for him or to him. At the same time, the Qing Yi sect has gotten wind about "his survival", and is planning to attempt at his life again.

We also shouldn't forget that Xiao Hua knows nothing about martial arts.

Thus begins Xiao Hua's life as a Body Double for someone who's polar opposite of him aside from the looks. What will change; himself, or people around him?

This comedic, yet heartwarming, series is quite fun and recommendable for anyone interested in Wuxia series. Since it won't leave its motherland officially, the whole series can be watched with manageable subtitle quality here on Veoh[4].

Note: All the names on this page follow the Chinese naming system: <Family name> <Given name>. As a general rule, if a name has three words, the first one is the family name.


Tropes presented by Short Sabre Story: Edit

  • The Ace: Shen Yu Men.
    • Xiao Hua definitely counts in a kitchen.
  • Acting for Two: Dicky Cheung plays both Shen Yu Men and Meng Xiao Hua.
  • Action Girl: Shui Xian and Mu Dan.
    • And Yu Men's whole harem.
    • Heck, even his wife.
      • Generally, everyone with a name. Period.
  • Battle Butler: Shi Bao Shan.
  • Big Bad: Chen Shi Yuan, of course.
  • Bishonen: Yu Men/Xiao Hua
  • Body Double: Xiao Hua
  • Brilliant but Lazy: Priest Wu Xin from Wudang. All he wants to do is... well, doing whatever he wants.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer(?): Xiao Hua.
  • Casanova: Shen Yu Men, in bold, gilded letters.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The "3-6-9" poison.
  • Chew Toy: Poor, poor Xiao Hua. Just take a look at everything the first 2 episodes bring him read the introduction text.
  • Chick Magnet: Yu Men; thus making Xiao Hua qualify by extension.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Sun Shang Xiang, the younger sworn brother of Shen Yu Men. He usually shrugs off any clue pointing to "Yu Men"'s strange behaviour, small or big, with a confused headshake.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Sun Shang Xiang and Tang San Mei pulled this off against each other spectacularly in episode 5. San Mei drugged him with a non-lethal poison "1-4-7"[5] for trying to trick her into going home as per Yu Men's request. Ashamed to face his brother for the failure, and the only two free rooms in the inn standing right beside hers, Shang Xiang lodges in one of them and mutters curses to her without pause.
    • And the poison has an upgrade: "3-6-9".
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Give Xiao Hua a knife, a kitchen and some ingredients, and he'll make you the dish of your life. Anything else? Don't bother.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: Xiao Hua's rebuttal to Shi Bao Shan's "The Reason You Suck" Speech in #9.
  • Crowning Moment of Funny: A lot. Given that the Dicky Cheung is in it, it's pretty much a given.
  • Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: #10: Xiao Hua and the captured Fast Blade leader in the dungeon. Xiao Hua treated Fast Blade, who was being tortured bloodily, to a delicious meal he cooked up himself. And after a short conversation, proved that he's not an evil person at heart after all. Finally, he let Fast Blade go free by showing him a secret passage himself. What did he get in return from Fast Blade? His returned respect, a promise that he won't harm anybody again, and a valuable piece of information revealing that they have a mole on their side.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Xiao Hua; he's not much of a deadpan though, and instead a straight-man to his highly problematic new life.
  • The Ditz: Mu Dan. Sun Shang Xiang isn't far behind by any means either.
  • Dramatic Irony: Xiao Hua is made to masquerade as someone who's his opposite; also acknowledged by some characters in-series.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: This shouldn't be a surprise, given the series' overall tone.
  • Eureka Moment: #11: "Beneath the ground". It immediately becomes a vital idea for Xiao Hua to reconcile with Yu Men's mother, whom Yu Men himself locked up because of an inheritance dispute.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Naturally for Wuxia.
    • Except for the protagonist.
      • Subverted just near the series finale.
  • Evil Laugh: Chen Shi Yuan. Again.
  • Face Palm: Xiao Hua. Repeatedly, given his situation.
  • First Episode Death + Resurrection: An interesting play: Shen Yu Men dies in the series' first battle scene, and Meng Xiao Hua takes over the spotlight for the rest of the story. However, Yu Men's life and personalities are unfolded bit by bit to the audience through Xiao Hua's experiences.
  • First Girl Wins: Hong Mei. It'd be a bit spoiler-worthy if not for the opening itself spoiling it.
  • Fish Out of Water: Esentially the premise.
  • Foil: Xiao Hua and Yu Men, aside from the resemblance, lived completely opposite lives, and have near-polarizing personalities.
  • I Owe You My Life: The Fast Blade leader to Xiao Hua.
  • Knight Templar: Shi Bao Shan isn't an evil person per se; he just wants to maintain peace in the Pugilist Community by all means. Naturally, Xiao Hua finds him annoying.
  • Meaningful Name: "Xiao Hua" literally means "Little flower"; given his overall personality, it fits him perfectly despite the possible confusion.
  • The Messiah: Xiao Hua, being an innocent simpleton, naturally doesn't want any conflict or bloodshed.
  • The Mole: Cheng Jing Tai.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Yu Men locked up his own mother in a run-down shack for eight years because she wanted his younger brother to inherit the family fortune. Xiao Hua eventually set things right again.
  • Ninja Maid: Shui Xian and Mu Dan.
  • Onee-Sama: Shui Xian; also literally, since Xiao Hua and Mu Dan both call her "Sister".
  • Phobia: Luo Jin Feng, daughter of two renowned and accomplished martial artists and also one herself, squeals like a little kid at the sight of a bedbug.
    • Tang San Mei isn't any better in the face of the same bug.

  "Look! Look at that big bug!"

  • Poisonous Person: Tang San Mei's specialty.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Qing Yi sect's Fast Blade, Ghost Whip, <...> and <...>.
    • They previously had thirteen; nine fell to Shen Yu Men prior to the series.
  • Running Gag: Xiao Hua getting slapped by the female leads, mostly mistaken as Yu Men.
  • Spoiler Opening: It should be noted, though, that it's quite common in Wuxia TV.
  • Theme Naming: "Shui Xian" and "Mu Dan" mean "Daffodil" and "Peony" respectively.
  • True Neutral: Priest Wu Xin; a comical version.
  • Touch of Death: One of Tang San Mei's tricks of the trade.
  • Tsundere: Xie Hong Mei looked like one at first glance, but she was just sour towards Yu Men for injuring her father in a duel years ago. Once Xiao Hua's repeated pleas about him not being the real Yu Men sink in, she starts to soften up a bit.
    • Tang San Mei, on the other hand, is quite a straight example, being a sassy lass and all.
  • Unwanted Harem: Played absolutely straight: Xiao Hua finds out about it one girl at a time, all in very awkward situations.

  Xiao Hua: "Your master? He's sinned all the way to his grave, happily leaving behind a gigantic mess for me to clean up!"

  • Warrior Monk: In the series' context, the whole of Shaolin and Wudang sects.
  • The White Prince: Duke Huo. And it shows too.
  • Woman Scorned: The harem's participants don't really take it well when they finally learn that they have peers. Luckily for Xiao Hua, the scenes are mostly comedic, thus not much violence.
    • The young Duke, <...>, counts as a male version, but his target is Shen Yu Men, whom he blames for whisking away his fianceé.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Luo Jing Feng. Chinese version, of course.
    • Yu Men's wife is also one coming from a high-class family herself.
    • According to Mu Dan, Shui Xian knows enough subjects - tea-making, flower arrangement, etc - to be a full-fledged Nadeshiko herself.

Notes

  1. The series has only 15 Dramatic Hour Long episodes, which is quite short in comparison to many series that usually lasts around 25~30 at least.
  2. Who became a household name as the Monkey King Sun Wukong in 1996's Journey to the West adaptation.
  3. The series is sometimes also known as "Swordsman I" or just "Swordsman", usually on the non-Chinese market.
  4. Veoh Web Player required.
  5. Scream for 1 hour, groan for 4 hours, moan for 7 hours.

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