The Grand Canal

Phew! Finally finished this series…and possibly glad that I could finish it throughout so I wouldn’t be hanging or missed any details of it.

Excellent acting from these actors and actresses that reminds me that TVB once had really good actors and actresses:

  • Tony Leung: Even if Tony’s character went downhill later on since he was mostly dominated by his emotions rather than his mind, but his acting still carried on with portraying the emotional state his character was going through that made it convincing.
  • Felix Wong: Felix was just plain evil in here. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that his most successful villain role was this one. ‘Cause I saw some of the other ones that he portrayed the bad guy but it was just wrong and I wasn’t convinced. But this one, he managed to make me hate him and believed that his character was beyond reasoning and was just a greed driven maniac.
  • Margie Tsang: Her character was really annoying at times because she was really loud. But to look at it on another point of view, she was just very naive and wasn’t as matured as the others. To put it simply, she was just living in the wrong time period since she didn’t understand the intense situations sometimes. However, she has a good heart overall and cared for her friends and was very loyal to them. I actually like it that she was quite stubborn because she wasn’t wishy-washy like the majority of the characters in here. She knew what she like or don’t like. She was also understanding toward others since although there might be misunderstandings between parties, but after she found out the truth or others told her about it, she would forgive and forget it (also another good side of her). It was really good to know that she didn’t die in here or listened to Felix’s character near the end of the story. Maybe it was because of her strong friendship with Derek’s character that made it possible but it was really great to know she didn’t listen to his nonsense thus causing more trouble. It’s safe to say that she has this strong sense of righteousness within her that makes her character more admirable in a sense.
  • Derek Kwok: Yes, TVB viewers often refer to him as the MOST under-rated guy in TVB history. The fact that he only delivers his best make it even more frustrating since TVB is practically blind to keep casting him in supporting roles or just some role. But I’m glad that he always give it his best–whether people think it’s the best role or not. As I said before, I really love his character (and knew that he won’t last till the end of the series) and really like his friendship with Margie’s character in here. It was just a pure kiddy relationship since they both love to roam around town and explore or do any random activities together. His loyal to his 2nd brother is apparent also. A great character overall.
  • Sean Lau: I think this is my 2nd favorite role of him. At first, I thought he was not right for this role. However, he was really great as the future king. He really brought out the smart side of the character and managed to convince me of his emotional state at various points–such as being stuck in between his family and his friendship to Tony. And also various scenes with Margie. (Subtle but still touching.)
  • Jimmy Au: I don’t know if it’s his acting or the roles chosen ’cause he usually do WAY better in supporting roles vs. the ones where he starred in. Maybe the characters are more well written? Although they managed to rob his character of various talents in here but still it showed great loyalty with various people in here. Really like scenes of him and his wife also. (Not that I don’t like Rebecca, just think that he matches with Red Dust Lady more.)
  • Red Dust Lady: Old series and can’t seem to find her name after searching around a bit so I’ll just put it that. She was really great in various scenes with being calm as well as rash at times. She was very intelligent, out-shining Idy’s character in many ways. She didn’t judge anyone (like in the case of Idy, etc). Yes, she was stubborn at times too and couldn’t control herself, but it was in her personality. Her loyalty and bravery was very admirable.
  • Liu Kai Chi: Yes, he was Mr. Naive all right. Can’t blame him ’cause of his brother’s great acting and always speaking up for him when he was in trouble. I really like his performance in here as the nice and suave prince although he was badly taken advantage of by practically everyone in here. Such a tragic ending for him and he was probably the only one in his whole family that I actually felt sorry for since he didn’t deserve the fate at all. He was not the cunning or deceiving type so he coudn’t figure some things out on his own vs. his sister who has the time, intelligent, and the access to it (but failed to discover it sooner).
  • Lawrence Ng: The only reason why I even put his name in is because I think this is one of the rare series that I actually like his acting or think he is up to it – although he was portraying a villain. He made me hate him so bad that I couldn’t even blame others for being dumb (except for Idy’s character, lol). He put the show up so well with being the filial son and then the drastic change in his character later after he acquired what he wanted all along.
  • The girl who portrayed Sheung Yee. Her character ended in tragic and it was very annoying with too much of the pity thing playing into the story but I think that this actress was really great in portraying her role. It got really complex later on but she managed to pull it off very well.
  • Bau Fong and Lee Heung Kam. Love these veteren actor/ actresses. They’re only in the first part of the series but managed to convince me with their characters (even if they’re not the most wise people).

Other Good Points about this series:

  • The friendship between Tony and Sean. It was known and proven many times that they’re a great team at times and thus leading to jealousy from various parties and causing more conflicts between both sides.
  • The brother/ sister relationship between Tony, Jimmy, & Red Dust Lady. There were misunderstandings at times but they managed to resolve it and stay true as friends till the very end. I love it that they have different views at times but still manage to stay true to each other, not giving in to power or some other forces.
  • Sean & Margie as a couple. To elaborate a little more on this, I didn’t like the idea of them being a couple at first either but it really grew on me. (And I was waiting for sparks to fly between Tony and Idy instead.) This is actually my other favorite pairing–if it’s even relevant to discuss in such an intense series like this. He was probably what people call book smart while she was the street smart kind. They compliment each other really well. She might not be helpful to him at various times, but could help him relax a bit with taking him out to various place to relief some stress or talk nonsense so he could laugh. (LOL)
  • Derek & Margie as friends. I really thought he liked her romantically at first since he loved to hang out with her, etc. But it was just this pure and innocent friendship between them. He liked to roam around and play some senseless games once in awhile so she made the perfect candidate as his close friend because of their similar interests. They were really funny when together as said many times already. They have this strong bond of friendship which others couldn’t understand (’cause most of them were so serious) thus leading to Margie having a very strong reaction toward his death. (Glad like I said before so she wouldn’t back down to believing Felix’s character.)
  • The costumes/ hairdo. If you watched the majority of the ’80s series, you would know that they re-used some of the costumes, but it was all right. Still nice to look at for the main cast and great hairdo. I especially love those they did for Rebecca’s character at the beginning of the story. It looked really sophisticated and nice–unlike those weird, bulky hairdos they did for ancient serials nowadays.

The Bads:

  • Idy Chan’s acting. I’m sorry to pick on her yet again but I couldn’t even see her shine in here even IF it’s the highest peak of the series or the lowest point. Her character was tolerable near the end but her acting cease to impress. The majority of the script was to be blamed but her acting didn’t amount to much either.
  • The dragginess of the plot and/or lack of development of both characters and plot. This was said over and over again but I thought I should include it one more time to get the point across. They have a lot of great characters to work with, yet they kept shuffling back and forth with only certain characters at times and dragged it out too much. They should’ve developed more of Chun Wong’s side-kick’s character in here. He was a great character from the book–or so I was told. Why did they make him fall so behind in the story? It just defeated the purpose of putting him in the series in the first place. That goes for the other characters as well. Tony’s character was a very intelligent person yet his indecisiveness caused more harm than help people in general. It got really annoying and was quite repetitive. Same for Idy’s character ’cause she was supposed to be smart (like how the script-writer led us on to believe), but it took too long to solve problems, etc. They managed to give characters good background information and show off their skills at the beginning, but failed to develop it later on.The beginning of the story was developed quite well with the plot also but it just dragged on so much in the middle that only the last 10 episodes were worth watching.
  • The fact that the majority of the female cast in here were annoying. I only managed to endure Margie’s character in here because it was Margie and she made it so charming with her character without being as annoying. However, only the lady who portrayed Jimmy Au’s wife–Red Dust Lady–was the most intelligent as far as I see and the most understanding also. Although she did have her moments (like mentioned before) but it was understandable and relevant – unlike some other characters in here. The 2nd to her character that wasn’t as annoying was probably Rebecca Chan’s. Although she was a third-party at one point of the story but I pity her more than hate her. I couldn’t help but come back to thinking that the script-writer must have hate women a lot or was trying hard to make Idy’s character shine that he/ she wanted to sink the rest of the female characters in here. (Because honestly, making the female population super whiny and annoying wasn’t the way to “charm” in case the definition of “charm” had changed. It had to be on purpose or someone was really dumb.)

So on the last few notes, I would like to say that this series actually reminds me of The Yang’s Sagas ’cause of the political elements and the conflicts in between. However, The Yang’s Sagas was WAY better because of its length and well thought out story-line. (It was also sad but wasn’t draggy or annoying.) I wouldn’t recommend this series even if you really love any of the cast, but watch it at your own risk since it’s really long. But if you skipped just one episode, you missed some major detail stuck in between. To say it simply, each detail is essential to the overall plot and would help you understand the plot better but it’s not necessarily well written.

Posted (on Xanga): January 28, 2009

Posted: April 27th, 2010

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3 Replies to “The Grand Canal”

  1. Ok…here are my comments (may be as long as your post…lol!):

    I totally agree with your assessment of each of the characters — perfectly on the dot! My 2 favorite characters were actually Derek Kwok and Sean Lau – for precisely the reasons you stated! Derek’s character was a lot of fun – he didn’t take things too seriously, but yet at the same time was very righteous (and part of it was because of his unwavering loyalty toward his 2nd brother Sean). When his character died, I must admit that I got a bit teary eyed (the ONLY moment worth getting teary eyed for in the entire series). Even though I knew that his character would die, I kept hoping that by some miracle, he wouldn’t (because his character was very endearing). Goes to show how great his acting was. And yes, he is absolutely underrated, though not too surprised because TVB is always like that when it comes to actors with talent. I also loved his “kiddie” relationship with Margie – the scenes with the 2 of them goofing around were some of the funniest ones in the entire series (and much needed too with how long and draggy – and at times overly serious – the series is).

    As for Sean, I’ve always liked his acting and I really liked his character here. Smart, educated, reserved, good decision maker and leader, skilled in martial arts — definitely perfect person to become the future emperor. And loved his friendship with Tony as well – so much so that I was a bit saddened at the part where Tony’s ship was blasted to pieces (resulting in his “sidekick” Benz Hui being killed) and he was led to believe that Sean was behind it – therefore threatening their friendship. Of course, the truth was revealed afterwards, but seeing Tony and Sean going against each other in that battle scene was painful.

    Liu Kai Chi – have to mention him, since he is one of my favorite “green leaf” actors (in addition to Benz Hui and Ram Tseung of course). He was in a lot of series in the 80s and 90s (majority of which I have seen) and his acting is absolutely brilliant and convincing – not to mention that he is one of the nicest, most down to earth actors you’ll ever meet (in real life) – very humble and very hard-working.

    In terms of female characters, I absolutely hated Idy Chan in this series – yes, her character was supposed to be a rude, stubborn, conceited, arrogant, etc. because she is a “princess” after all, but I just didn’t like how her character was soooo dumb! I really wanted to slap her several times throughout the series – and she made me dislike Tony’s character at times as well because of how he kept believing her and standing by her, even though she is so annoying (though his indecisiveness had a lot to do with it as well).

    Btw, the name of the actress who played “Red Dust Lady” is Wong Yee Kum and the one who played “Sheung Yee” is Cheng Yim Foong. Both of them came out of the “TV New Stars” contest back in 1985 (or was it 1984?) – in any case, it was the ONLY year that TVB had that particular contest (wonder why the show never took off? Oh well). Anyway, I actually liked Wong Yee Kum and Jimmy Au as a couple in this series – don’t know why, since I didn’t know either of them prior to this series and rarely watch the other series they’ve been in – but maybe because of the lack of “favorable” couples in this series (except for Sean and Margie of course, which I also liked), I sort of got attached to them. Plus, I’m sorry, but the Tony / Idy pairing didn’t work for me at all…..

    I must say that Felix Wong’s character surprised me – of course, like most people, I watched the Condor Heroes trilogy before I watched Grand Canal, so I got way too used to his famous Kwok Jing character….so it was very difficult for me to accept him as evil. But he did a good job and was very convincing – I also hated his character and was actually glad when he met his fate at the end (death).

    Bau Fong and Lee Heung Kam – agreed regarding your comments (I love veteran artists – whether it’s the older generation ones from the 70s/80s or the middle generation from the 80s/90s). So sad that we will never get a chance to see this pairing again, since Bau Fong passed away years ago….

  2. Thanks for the two names of the actresses. Also, I was glad that you agreed with me on Idy’s character ’cause that was what made it so torturing to watch the whole time. I did not mind the length since there were lots of things going on between the major characters in here, however, Idy’s annoying character rarely got any development. I think they did that on purpose to drag out the series even more? BUT that was too much with her so clueless. I meant if everyone around her had the same story going on, she would thought to investigate BUT kept blaming others for bad-mouthing him. Though it did explain later that she was keeping it under wraps with her investigation and how one of her brothers was being her secret contact, but that did not make up for anything. It was too late to compensate for the rest of the plot.

    And I totally agree with you on the Sean and Margie pairing, also Jimmy and WYK. (As I mentioned in the review.)

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