Old TVB series and one of those should watch ones. I think this was one of my very first TVB series OR even one of the first series that I remember watching OR focusing on, considering how I did not care to watch series or TV too much when I was younger. It was also this series that I began to know of Roger Kwok and became one of his fans.
What was so good about this series? Lots of reasons actually.
- Jacky Cheung sang the theme songs. The series started out with the powerful song “Hong Ye Wu Qiu Shan” (紅葉舞秋山) by Jacky Cheung. (Though I did know of his popularity at that time BUT it wasn’t hard to figure out he was an awesome singer when listening to the song.) Anyway, the song really fitted in with the theme of the series, considering how it described the conflicts in the story perfectly. (Hong Ye and Qiu Shan used to be one sect, which was called Qiu Shan Hong Ye. It was split up after Bau Fong (the master)’s death. Qiu Shan was considered as the righteous and good sect with Bak Piao leading it while Hong Ye was led by Law Lok Lam who did the opposite just to go against his senior. Therefore, the song Hong Ye Wu Qiu Shan was hinting at how both could not coexist, considering the conflicts between the two leaders. Very meaningful, huh? It also made sense that Jacky sang the song since he was able to bring out the powerful message and made it even livelier with his voice.) The title of the main theme is translated literally as ‘red leaves dancing on the autumn mountain’, which described the ruptures and changing of events thus fitting in with the overall theme of the series anyway. Double meaning, great or what? Or at least I like to think of it that way. And then I just thought of something else as I was trying to interpret the song and incorporate it into the series itself. What if it also meant that if Qiu Shan and Hong Ye were united, then it would bring harmony to mankind but if it was separated, it would become unpredictable and bringing forth an earth-shattering storm? Too many possibilities or perhaps I’m just reading too much into the song itself. Still…a very complex song. The sub-theme was sung by Jacky and Karen Tong, which was an equally memorable song. (*NOTE*: I just found out through llwy12 that the theme song was actually from a Jacky Cheung album titled “真情流露” SO it wasn’t actually made for this series. It was just that TVB managed to find the right song for the theme of the series in general–with how the jianghu world was complicated with many conflicts and change of events; and how one would rather live a carefree life than being involved in those conflicts.)
- Roger Kwok. Come on now! Even IF that was my first time watching him, I knew he could act. I remember laughing at the parts where he was super clueless and was too honest for his own good and crying at the scenes where he was suffering so badly for the faults of the others.
- Alvina Kong. The only actress I could remember watching that has a natural performance of portraying a guy role. I meant she DID NOT know she was a girl at the beginning and her character grew up under the impression that she was a guy SO she did an awesome job portraying her character. She was comfortable and convincing. It made me believe she really thought she was a guy. She maintained that characteristic throughout, even when after she learned that she was a girl. She was slowly adapting to being a girl, but it was hard for her and she still preserved those obvious traces and/or bad habits of being a guy.
- Roger and Alvina as a couple. Perhaps this will be my favorite collaboration ever and probably will remain my favorite Roger pairing since it was my very first time watching them both. They matched wit per wit and did a splendid job as good brothers at the beginning and then later becoming a couple.
- Michael Tao. Perhaps I did not appreciate him much in the old days BUT I do realize he has the potential to portray the bad guys OR the serious roles more than comedic ones. (I only remember liking him in one humorous role, which was with Michael Miu and Barbara Yung in United We Stand.) Anyway, he made me hate him so bad I was convinced he was none other than evil. Evil characters were much more complex back then and DID NOT try too hard to draw attention. They were there for the essential element to drive the story forward, NOT meant to portray a certain role to shine. Michael did his part and it contributed to the story.
- Bau Fong. He had a brief appearance at the beginning as Bak Piao and Law Lok Lam’s master. He often portrayed roles of the enlightened ones and he was excellent as those. (Though there were times he was seen as the villain, which he was able to deliver as well.) Anyway, his cleverness was seen near the end of the story (though his character already passed away) with the trap he planted at the supposed ‘treasure’ site. His words, which was supposed to be a premonition for the future was very powerful and was really something. It actually ties with our minds in real life–with each of us longing or searching for something. Sometimes, it just takes simple things to be happy about and maintaining a satisfied mind. Sometimes, some of us are not able to stop ourselves because we could never be satisfied with what we already have, making us sink deeper into the pit. It really gets us thinking what life is all about without making it too cheesy. (In case anyone wants to know, the phrases are: “There are no treasures in this world. The treasures really lie in our hearts.” Deep, right?)
- Helena Law Lan. She had a comedic role in here–unlike her usual serious or spooky roles. But it was interesting and enjoyable all the same. Her presence made the series livelier and created a comedic atmosphere each time she appeared. It was interesting to see that she was actually Roger’s sworn sister in here, lol.
- Bak Piao versus Law Lok Lam. They are probably two of my favorite veteran actors and it was interesting to see them together. Though not sure which one was the worst with how their characters were at times, but must say they did well with their roles. Probably Law Lok Lam’s character was a tad better since he admitted in being the evil one while Bak Piao’s character was too fake with claiming to be the ‘good, righteous’ being, vowing to destroy all evils. Too bad they were outwitted by Michael’s character. It was interesting that they did not die but ended up following their little sect sister into the temple at the end. At least they finally came to terms with their own selves and was able to let go of everything. It was not about winning or losing anymore, but about letting go of their hate for one another.
- Lau Kong. One of his very rare roles of portraying the good guys in the old days, lol. But he did a good job all the same. I actually pitied him very much the first time watching and the rewatches were as emotional. He was tricked by his senior (Bak Piao) and was forced to flee civilization to hide his senior’s kid and protect her. Not to mention his kind nature of rescuing Roger’s character also. He was an honest and heroic character in his own way. I remembered crying at his death scene–with much help from Roger and Alvina’s actions during the scene.
- The bond between Lau Kong, Roger, and Alvina. I totally feel their bond as one family at the beginning. Therefore, it was really convincing with Lau Kong’s death scene later and the other two’s reactions. It was totally worth it after all since the two really respected and loved him for who he was, appreciating him–though Alvina was obnoxious at times. It also showed their love for him when they remembered him at various times later on, especially when Roger was missing him and actually wanted to cry at times. And how Alvina never trusted anyone, even her own father when he (her real father) tried to get the jade piece from her. There was also the fact that Alvina remembered Lau Kong’s words and truly believed him when he said that she was a guy, not questioning him at all (even if she was the cunning one of the two kids). The part where she totally broke down and cried and even cursed him when she found out that she was actually a girl made it very emotional as well. It was the part in the temple when she hid from the others and confronted him, asking why he lied to her and tricked her saying that she was special, BUT she found out the real reason why she was different from Roger was because she was a girl.
- The rest of the cast. The ones that I did not mention yet but contributed majorly to the story regardless of their roles. They were considered the supporting team or just average characters but I felt it would not be the same without them. But I had the feeling they blended right in with the rest of the cast and no one shine over the other. They were a team working to make it happen. It was really enjoyable watching everyone get along, especially their group of friends traveling along the way that one time, vowing to get away from the turmoil of jianghu and seek for their own peaceful destination to live.
- The just right comedic moments. I was impressed and probably am still used to the mixture of humor and NOT over top humor like in series nowadays. (Yes, those corny, random, lame humor of nowadays DO NOT amuse me with it trying too hard in those ancient ones.) The charm led on by several parties drove the series along just at the right times, making it not too hectic at times. One of the most interesting scenes was seeing how three other girls were fighting over Alvina’s character at the beginning, considering how Alvina had quite a mouth when she was still a guy. Alvina was really convincing (as I said before) and it made sense that the three girls should cling to her like that. There was also the scene of seeing how Alvina was seen as the love interest of that one guy who bullied her and Roger at the beginning.
- The mixture of fighting and talking scenes. I did not feel the drag of things even IF they were talking too much at times. Maybe because it was much more interesting back then with the plots or details. There were times when you could see they were switching the actors/actresses to the stunt double BUT it did not matter that much. I rather see that than the blind effects (aka CGI).
- No over-hyped feeling. I did not feel the hype of the series or the ‘try too hard’ element like series nowadays. It was just right and no one was trying too hard to shine. They did their part and the series was a success. No one was hogging the camera and seemed to want a ‘breakthrough’ role. It just happened.
- The ending. It was really well done and DID not seem rush like most TVB series nowadays. It was really good. There were closures here and there. It did not answer everything but it was relevant to leave some things hanging. It was part of life, not everything had to be answered, and it made sense.
I totally recommend this one for those who love the cast and love old TVB series.