I recently stumbled upon this series. I am a fan of Law Lok Lam so of course I dived in and watched. I must admit that it was disappointing for an ATV series. Yes, I usually liked it for most ATV series that I watched in the past. There were exceptions, but not by much. This time, I went from excitement to disappointment so fast it wasn’t even funny. I got it that back then some effects weren’t that good yet for the fantasy/folktale themes. It was 1988 after all. Yet what I was disappointed in was the plot. All the cast involved, I thought, did really good. However, the plot was getting repetitive after some of the initial stories. It just deteriorated after like the first three cases and then stretched out the main plot to the point of excruciating. Not to mention the character developments seemed non-existent. Then near the end, they just wrapped it by making some fast changes. The series as a whole crashed and burned just because of the lack of development and poor planning on the pace as an overall.
I liked the Zhong siblings’ closeness throughout. They were both so stubborn, so like one another–yet it was because they cared for one another. Considering how both of their parents passed away when they were so young. They only had each other. I also liked it that she wasn’t easily pushed around like I initially thought she would be the weakling, crying girl waiting for people to save her. It passed after some initial scenes. It was understandable that she was freaked out coming into contact with some paranormal beings. I liked it that she was able to fend for herself afterward–more or less.
The other relationship or bonding I liked in here was Zhong Gui (鍾馗) and Du Ping (杜平)’s friendship. At first, Du Ping was also scared of Zhong Gui–because of his appearance–like everyone else. However, he later became a loyal friend and even put down his pride to accept lesser payments for his drawings so he could bring Zhong Gui’s body back home. After learning that Zhong Gui got revived to fulfill his new destiny in slaying ghosts/demons, he stayed and helped. At least, it was as much as he could. He wasn’t doing it just because of Zhong Gui’s sister either. He was serious about it.
Now, what I had a beef with was how sloppy it was with character developments. The only person consistent throughout was Zhong Gui since he was stubborn at times, righteous at others, and have his weaknesses yet he was a good person overall. I couldn’t say the same for Du Ping and Zhong Ling (鍾靈). Du Ping seemed to like Zhong Ling at first–or so I thought. Yet it wasn’t so, which I wouldn’t want to force him either. Then he went on his journey and met his destined lover (or so it seemed), then a tragedy happened so they weren’t able to stay together. It was clear. Yet what lacking for me was how eventually he accepted Zhong Ling as well. I got it, he had to move on eventually and I didn’t want him to stay sad and miserable and moping over her all of his life either. But he claimed so persistently in the past that he wasn’t interested in Zhong Ling, he just didn’t feel it. Then all the sudden he accepted her just like that? The plot was a mess. It didn’t make sense. I got the argument with how Zhong Ling was hurting so much that she wanted to pretend he was dead so she could move on and how he was upset that she would treat him as if he was dead. Yet I didn’t get how fast they got together just after that brief argument. It was like the script-writers just wanted to give up.
Now, with Zhong Ling, it was also a mess on her own story/character, not just in relations to Du Ping either. Like I said, I liked it that she managed to take care of herself for the most part, considering how she also knew martial arts. It was something her brother didn’t have to worry about as much–although he couldn’t stop worrying completely. However, I didn’t like it that the script-writers kept moving her character back and forth between being reasonable and unreasonable. I got it that some of her reactions were due majorly to her stubborn nature. Like how she didn’t understand how Du Ping didn’t like her. It hurt her pride. However, it made her character reasonable when she finally met Du Ping’s beloved and realized the other lady wasn’t what she made her out to be. I liked it that she was upfront about it too and apologized for misunderstanding the latter. I also got it that she was upset when she found out the other lady was actually a ghost and was possibly conning Du Ping. The worst part was that Du Ping didn’t believe her, even misunderstanding her for making up a story so Du Ping would change his mind. Yet what bugged me to no end was how she jumped from sympathizing with Du Ping and his lover’s fate to aggressively chasing Du Ping again briefly after the other lady’s death. It was uncalled for. Or again, the writers just wanted to give up. I know they wanted to get those two together yet still include the tragic romance with the ghost lady. It was all right with me, but they didn’t pace it right. Then made Zhong Ling too desperate that it became annoying. They totally threw her character under the bus, thinking that was the way to go. I clap her feisty nature, but I didn’t like how the script-writers killed it with pace. They should have planned it better. They had plenty of time to waste on episode fillers for the later stories–which was non-existence with the development until the last episode. Did they rush the story just to ruin Zhong Ling’s character completely? She didn’t need to be a doormat character, but there had to be some balance with the pace. It made her really unreasonable–like said before.
I think the later parts of the story, even the demons’ side had more story developments–with their scheming and all–than the supposedly good side. What irked me even more was how they allowed Du Ping’s character to grow and even learned some martial arts and also some abilities to help Zhong Gui later yet didn’t do anything to Zhong Ling’s character. She was just there to fight over a man? That was it? Sure, she did some stuffs near the end that the script-writers wanted to make it seemed epic. But that was so anti-climatic to me that I just wanted to roll my eyes at them. They just made her character appeared useless by the end.
Perhaps, the reason why I was so upset with the way things turned out with the series was because I am a major fan of Law Lok Lam and also Choi Sin Yee. They portrayed a couple in The Four Detective Guards, which I really liked them for in that series yet they had a tragic ending. Of course, because of their roles in this story, it would be too weird to think of that. But I liked Choi Sin Yee and would have loved it if they gave her some other things to do besides throwing tantrums because she didn’t get the man. Or worse, making her appear so brainless at times, although she meant well for the most part regarding her concerns for her brother. I wouldn’t want to her to hog the scene too much since Law Lok Lam was the main character after all. But she was indeed one of the main cast and they did somewhat made her seemed like an important character yet didn’t let her contribute in a meaningful way at all. It was just romances throughout and somewhat of a loose contribution in the finale.
So recommended? NOPE. One of the rare times I don’t recommend an ATV series.