The Rough Ride

I finally watched this series though I have it on my to-watch list awhile back. Watching this series somehow affected me more than I thought. Possibly because both Barbara Yung and Susanna Au Yeung passed away already. Not to mention Anita Mui, who sang the main theme so beautifully. There were many moments that I got teary-eyed, not because of the plot, but because of seeing old faces.
Anyway, back to the plot. At first, I thought TVB was going the daring route–because they rarely do that, mostly safe within their traditional shells as not to upset the viewers. However, I was wrong. What do I mean? I thought they were letting Lau Dan and Ha Yu portray a couple who was raising an adopted child and trying to survive in society, especially one might not be accepting them. It seemed that way with some details at the beginning. Even when they were trying to explain at the police station after that one time getting into a fight and the police officers were trying to get them to tell their story. I thought from their hesitation, the whole fighting over Jian Hong’s mother was a made-up story. Yet it seemed like it was true except for some details that were never clarified, because the plot didn’t want to focus there. Even Zhou Rong’s mother was chiding him for staying with Zhou Zhang You all these years–when he came home that one time to visit her after another dispute with the latter. Seriously, I was wrong. That was okay though since they had to move on, but I felt the plot was scattered everywhere thus causing details to be muddled throughout. I liked it that they were moving back and forth among different characters, but I didn’t like it that they were so inconsistent with different characters at times. It was frustrating to say the least.
Main Cast:

  • Tony Leung (梁朝偉) as Zhou Jian Hong (周劍虹). I felt this role wasn’t that special as in part of the Tony legacy in the old days. I think it was sort of a break for him. I think his best scene was his argument with Bi Hua/Barbara Yung when she was acting distance toward him since she didn’t want to cling to him just because he became rich. It was emotional and added more to their bond, because they finally talked about some things that actually mattered instead of feeling like they were stuck in a loop of not being able to communicate like previously. I guess his passiveness at times was a balance to some people’s extremeness in here. I liked him fine, until he listened to his father Zhou Rong to try to propose to Bi Hua so he could control her. Of course, he didn’t think it in that way, but I felt the proposal wasn’t as genuine as when they finally got back together at the end. I think he finally understood Bi Hua’s importance or realized he should cherish her more, because he admitted at one point that he used to think Bi Hua was more serious about their relationship than him. It was like a pride thing for him, but he figured he was going to have to gain her confidence in him again, not just taking her for granted like before. I guess I liked him for the most part, but what I was annoyed about was how he–along with the others–treated Shao Wen like she was Tian Wei’s possession or like a sure deal (even when they weren’t together yet). He didn’t like Shao Wen romantically and no one could force him, but I didn’t like how he and the others seemed to force Shao Wen to go with Tian Wei as well. Just because Tian Wei liked her, not letting her decide at all.
  • Barbara Yung (翁美玲) as Xie Bi Hua (謝碧華). I was watching the Viet-dubbed version so the person who dubbed for Huang Rong dubbed for her in here too so it was really funny and somewhat bittersweet at the same time. She was so stubborn and probably short of all the things Huang Rong could do and get away with, lol. But I really liked her. At least she was straightforward with her attitude. I liked that she was able to go train in England and became an even better cop with her new skills later. There were times that I didn’t like it either that she was using her boss as a shield, but I felt I could forgive her somewhat since at the beginning when she was trying to get rid of that one annoying pest, she actually asked her boss for help so he knew about it. Then later, it was her jealousy getting in the way so I felt like I should cut her some slacks and she did apologize to him (her boss) later. (I think, I hope.)
  • Ray Lui (呂良偉) as Jiang Tian Wei (江天偉). I didn’t think I could hate Ray Lui for a role he portrayed. Well, in Shanghai Bund, I think I was annoyed yet wasn’t feeling this strong hate toward his character. Aside from those assault scenes toward Shao Wen, I think the rest of Ray scenes were kind of subtle. Then it seemed interesting when he was undercover for the cops. Yet I felt the ending scenes were just there to bring his character up again or trying to make him active to wrap up the show. Or trying to make up for his past wrongs, which I didn’t care for. Yes, his character for me was fine. They had to ruin it like that. When, perhaps, the writers had this mentality about “love” or “assault” was how you get a girl OR whatever. But I didn’t want to let it slide just because. The writers totally downplayed those horrifying moments and brushed if off completely later on. Anyway, I also thought his character would become the villain later since his jealousy of Jian Hong escalated after some disagreements at the company yet it wasn’t so. In fact, he was probably the dumbass of the show. Sounds mean, but he was so easily manipulated by his uncle that I eventually got frustrated too. I got where he was coming from and felt sad for him that his mom was manipulating him and pressuring him, but the others stuffs he did, I couldn’t forgive him for.
  • Barbara Chan (陳敏兒) as Lin Shao Wen (林少文). A lawyer. I liked her having an awesome lawyer role. However, some of the plots sort of brought her character down. I actually liked the approach they (script-writers) did with making her so expressive and being almost best buddies with Jian Hong and how they seemed to have this connection. Yet the writers had to bring her character down later by making it confusing and manipulative in a way. I wondered if it was so they could somehow justify Tian Wei’s actions and then bring them together. I didn’t like the pressures people were giving her, her mother and others. Yet I didn’t like how she tried to jump in between Jian Hong and Bi Hua either.
  • Lau Dan (劉丹) as Zhou Rong (周榮). Jian Hong’s father. Mixed feelings throughout. I liked it that he wasn’t greedy and didn’t care for those fortune he suddenly stumbled into. Yet I felt he was too hot-headed at times. Also, I didn’t like how he treated Bi Hua later. It wasn’t like she was backing down, but he was seriously unreasonable. Who could stand it?
  • Ha Yu (夏雨) as Zou Zhang You (鄒長有). Jian Hong’s other father. Mixed feelings throughout as well. I was surprised he was more accepting of Bi Hua later on (brushing aside the conflicts with her father previously). Yet I was glad and in a way, he gained my point in that. I also liked that he wasn’t as greedy as he seemed to project at first. He didn’t latch onto Jiang Hong or Zhou Rong to get some advantage at the Yang family.
  • Susanna Au Yeung (歐陽珮珊) as He Pei Pei (何佩佩). It was a different role for her for me. I guess it was because I mostly saw her portray mature roles in the past so it was strange. NOT that her acting was strange, because she was a natural in it. She made her character lively and relatable. Although she was supposedly “not a good role model” or “good person” as some people had said in here or at least at first, but I really liked her. Perhaps, it was because of Susanna’s portrayal. Not to mention how Pei Pei’s character was redeemable, unlike her mother and sister whom conspired with others to trap Zhou Zhang You that one time. She didn’t have proper guidance growing up, but once she broke out of that toxic cycle and with the help of the people who truly cared for her, she was able to overcome her hardships and became  her own person again.
  • Lau Kong (劉江) as Yang Zhi Jian (楊志堅). Jian Hong and Tian Wei’s uncle. I felt like he wasn’t getting a break for the villain roles he was involved in back then, lol. Because I guess he did his part, but I felt it wasn’t anything new. Have to admit the character was indeed devious and despicable. He got what he deserved. Or maybe it was still too kind? I don’t know.

Supporting:

  • Lee Kwok Lun (李國麟) as Bi Hua’s boss. He was actually the true gentleman in here and was actually deserving of the nice guy title. But he wasn’t up in your face kind of nice guy and demanded that he should get something in return type of nice guys often seen in movies or TV series either. I felt like he was the most admirable among the young guys in here. As a cop, he was a good leader and everyone loved him. Although there wasn’t much to go on, but it was obvious with the way the other cops were reacting to him that he was a good boss and also a good friend. They really respected him during work and joked around with him when they were off work. He also liked Bi Hua, but he didn’t say it out until near the end. Yet he didn’t expect Bi Hua to accept him or anything, he was just joking that she was breaking his heart, lol. He didn’t mind that she used him to get Jian Hong jealous, but didn’t think it was good for them (Bi Hua and Jian Hong that was). People might be saying he had a doormat attitude and maybe that was why I liked him, but I felt like he was actually genuine among all the guys in here, even surpassing Jiang Hong. Perhaps, it was Lee Kwok Lun’s acting that made it so believable and not exuding any fake exterior, etc. (NOT saying Jian Hong was fake or Tony’s portrayal was poor. Just that like I mentioned above, I was sort of annoyed with Jian Hong for some stuffs too.)
  • Lau Siu Ming (劉兆銘) as Bi Hua’s father and Shao Wen’s legal assistant. Ming Sir and Barbara Yung also portrayed father and daughter in United We Stand (生銹橋王). It was interesting to see a different type of relation in here. Although he wasn’t my favorite character and was super annoying with his greedy nature at the beginning, I soon understand where he was coming from. It was so hard to earn money and all to survive. It wasn’t a good thing to do with how he was pulling his tricks at times, but I could forgive him for that, considering how he’d been trying his best all these years. Mixed feelings throughout but probably not the most hated character for me either.
  • Chun Wong (秦煌) as Da Peng (大鵬). Jian Hong and Tian Wei’s uncle. He was so cute in here, lol. He was probably the only kind person in the Yang family and truly cared for his family, unlike some others. He also was independent and had his own restaurant, pursuing his own passion. I actually thought he was the smartest because he wasn’t involved in those senseless family conflicts. And I never saw Chun Wong portrayed such a kind role before–or I might have missed it. Because he was always either too silly, stubborn, or was just plain annoying. So this was refreshing for me even though it was such an old series.
  • Bonnie Wong (黃文慧) as Bi Hua’s aunt. She was so funny and cool in here. I loved her character the most among the female side, aside from Bi Hua’s that was. She was really smart and witty. I liked it that she got guts and didn’t care what others think of her. But what sort of off with her character was how she let that annoying dude pursuing Bi Hua into the house time after time. Sure, she was just being polite, but I thought she shouldn’t let him in or give him information regarding their trip that one time. Yet that soon passed and I enjoyed her scenes majorly with Da Peng, because they both loved food and enjoyed many delicacies and fun moments together.
  • Paul Chun (秦沛) as Tian Wei’s father. He had a short story at the beginning of the story and then just phased into the background again. It was fine that no one was hogging he camera for too long, but I felt it wasn’t doing him justice. Or was it better he was one of the parties not causing trouble too?
  • Bak Yan (白茵) as Shao Wen’s mother. I usually like her role yet I didn’t really like it in here. Her acting was top-notch, but I just didn’t care for the character throughout. Yes, I felt very bad for her, having such a tragic life. Luckily, she was able to start anew in the end and knowing her family was all right again. However, I didn’t like it that she also contributed to forcing Shao Wen to get married or at least acknowledge Tian Wei. She later realized what was going on and sort of let her daughter choose, but it was sort of too late.
  • Bai Man Biao (白文彪) as Shao Wen’s father. He was sure despicable all right. They sure let him off easy later.
  • Kwan Hoi San (關海山) as Yang Zhao An (楊兆安). Jian Hong’s and Tian Wei’s grandfather. Although I understood that he wanted to protect his family and was somewhat saving face too, but I couldn’t forgive him for what happened. He knew Yang Zhi Jian was beyond help yet forbade Third Uncle to harm Yang Zhi Jian regardless. Like what? How was he supposed to help when he couldn’t take action? If he was strong enough, he could have just toss his son in prison and saved the rest of the family the trouble. Was saving face so important? Seriously. I didn’t like his miserable, pitiful acts either. Yeah, I know he was heartbroken and devastated of what happened, but I just didn’t care for him after I realized he wasn’t going to do anything anyway.
  • Felix Lok (駱應鈞) as Yang Zhi Jian’s right hand man. He was just latching on to the Yang family and only knew how to party so he wasn’t that useful. However, I thought he’d done his part of damage to the overall plot.
  • Richard Ng as a gangster boss. Well, not as much as some others in here, but he contributed in messing up other people’s lives so that counted for me.
  • Chu Tit Wo (朱鐵和) as Third Uncle. He was a gangster boss yet was somewhat too rash for his own good. He tried but he was responsible for harming Jian Hong at one point before investigating thoroughly so I didn’t blame the others for not trusting him later.

Others:

  • Bobby Au Yeung (歐陽震華) as car owner at the beginning. He was the guy who had his car inspected in the beginning yet was yelled at, lol. It was funny seeing him in there like that. He appeared later as well, but I wasn’t sure if it was the same role or just some random second role.
  • Tony Leung Hung Wah (梁鴻華) as Jian Hong’s friend. I liked him in The Return of Luk Siu Fung and Duke of Mount. Deer yet I couldn’t find anything to like him for in here. He was annoying. He was a terrible friend, having thrown Jian Hong under the bus too many times to be considered a friend. He also pestered Bi Hua to the point of excruciating that made me want to jump into the screen and slap him. He was basically like Tian Wei, except he wasn’t main so it was easy for people to hate him versus Tian Wei, but I felt they were almost the same. If Bi Hua wasn’t able to fend for herself and had others to help her, he would progressed to the point of Tian Wei too. Sure, he liked her and wanted to pursue her YET when he finally got turned down with a strong “no”, he didn’t get it and thought she was playing hard to get or whatever else. Bi Hua wasn’t that type of person and made it clear. (I didn’t like that one time she used him to extract information regarding Jian Hong either since that was seriously poor taste.) He was just trying to wear her down (like he admitted at one point). The fact that he tried to use suicide to get to Bi Hua was equally pathetic and somewhat hit too close to home. (Coincidentally, Barbara committed suicide at that time the drama was in the middle of airing using gas so that got me even more annoyed. Although I know TVB didn’t know and no one knew either regarding that, but that scene just added to the things that rubbed me wrong in here regarding the character.) And no, I don’t hate the actor, but found him exaggerating somewhat in here too versus his more natural act in other series.
  • Amy Hu (胡美儀) as Zou Zhang You’s on and off girlfriend. She appeared at the beginning of the series and then somehow disappeared and then appeared again near the end. I liked her, she was cute and funny in her own way.
  • Maria Chan (陳立品) as Jian Hong’s grand-aunt. I got where she was coming from but I didn’t like how she was acting high and mighty at times. Well, Yang Zhao An deserved it, but I didn’t think Pei Pei or Bi Hua deserved her rants at all. I got it that she was following her traditional ways or whatever, but that was so judgmental and so hard to relate to. Especially how she thought Bi Hua was jinxing her grand-nephew and how she wanted Bi Hua to quit her job just because Bi Hua was getting married to Jian Hong.
  • Kenneth Tsang (曾江) as Pei Pei’s rich boyfriend. Was that him? LOL! I swear it looked like him when he appeared briefly. The fact that he wore sunglasses didn’t help.
  • Michael Tao (陶大宇) as Bi Hua’s younger brother. I was initially annoyed with him because how he was so lazy and all. Yet I found him hilarious later.
  • Hui Kin Bong (許建邦) as Tian Wei’s assistant. I wasn’t sure if he was an analyst, a lawyer or another assistant at the office since he only appeared twice. But I thought his character had more potential for development than some in here.
  • Sandra Ng (吳君如) as Yang Zhi Jian’s lover. That was a surprise but that was back then so it wasn’t too strange to see Sandra appearing a little.
  • Shik Kien (石堅) as gangster boss. He was the real deal with all the badass gangsters in here since even Third Uncle was afraid of him.
  • Maggie Siu (邵美琪) as Anna. She owned a bar and was into Tian Wei when he was acting as a mole for the cop. Maggie was so gorgeous in here, and the role was mischievous yet playful that I felt it was too bad she wasn’t taking on some major role. What a shame yet I guess it had to be that way. Not to mention what surprised me was how it departed from her usual pitiful and/or tragic roles of back then. Yes, although her character was supposedly bad and didn’t care if Tian Wei was married or whatever, but I felt she was more honest about her motives than some people in here.
  • Wong Yat Fei (黃一飛) as boat owner at the pier. He was around at the second last episode where Yang Zhi Jian was trying to find a boat to escape. It was fun seeing him at long last. He was like Waldo of TVB, lol. You have to find him because he might not be getting an important role at times yet he was fun to watch and locate.

So, after all that rant, how was it overall? I thought Tony and Barbara Yung were cute together. Even though my mom mentioned that Barbara looked older than him, but I thought they were still cute. (Note, my mom loved Barbara too so it wasn’t like she was picking on her.) If the tragedy didn’t occur, I wonder if they had collaborated more for future series. It was one of those what-ifs in life. Second favorite couple in here must be Chun Wong and Bonnie Wong because they made me feel hopeful about humanity in general in the series’ world–at least. Aside from that, I felt that Susanna and Lau Dan weren’t that bad of a couple but their triangle involving Ha Yu really dragged the pace at one point and made me feel frustrated with the two men’s childish antics. Though I found it interesting that Susanna and Lau Dan also paired up in ATV’s The Ghostbuster Gang (捉鬼家族) years later, but I had watched that one first.
What about Ray Lui and Barbara Chan? I felt their characters ruined it for enjoying their chemistry–if at all. I got it that Shao Wen later realized with worrying for Tian Wei that she did love him, etc. (That was near the ending that she had the conversation with Jian Hong in the hospital during her mother’s operation.) Yet I didn’t like their initial start or the in-between at all. I didn’t like the emotional tortures that she had to go through with his pestering (and it was like how I mentioned it was with Bi Hua being pestered by that one guy as well). The fact that the assault scene happened and also bordering on rape (it wasn’t shown so I didn’t want to assume). I’m talking about that one time he was super frustrated and wanted to get her to talk BUT ended up force kissing her and she was terrified and yelled for him to stop and then the scene just jumped to the next day that she seemed to accept him. It was a terrible plot device and it totally thrown his character toward the hateful zone for me, even if it wasn’t before. I didn’t like that the writers used that type of setup for the characters to eventually get together and forced her to re-think. I already said that above when discussing their characters, but I felt like I need to put it here once again. The script-writers were downplaying assault and/or rape, not taking it seriously at all. What was even more terrible was how Tian Wei kept uttering out that she didn’t have to love him but couldn’t stop him from loving her. He could love her, BUT directly attacking her like that and forcing her? Even if the world was different back then, it still didn’t make it right AND I don’t have to accept it regardless. I thought it was best if they let the characters take it slowly and understand each other instead of forcing her like that. That scene was so traumatizing that it left a very bad impression on him throughout. The ending had a better setup. It seemed lame that she accepted him for saving her mother, but it wasn’t so since she realized when he disappeared that she cared for him. Why didn’t they go with that approach first? I didn’t like it either that there was plot inconsistency with people assuming they were together just because he liked her–at first. Then they dragged her character through the mud with her getting in-between Jian Hong and Bi Hua just to downplay Tian Wei’s assault scene–or all the things he did in general toward her.
Anyway, there were gaps and inconsistency at various points (as I said at the beginning of the review), like how some characters already knew each other or already got introduced yet was expected to be introduced again later. Or one of those like they seemed to have a gap. Other things, I already mentioned above so do not want to be too repetitive. But what was too obvious was the aqua/green dress with pink and yellow rims around the neck Barbara Yung wore at one episode near the beginning ended up being Barbara Chan’s sleepwear near the end. It was hilarious really.
What was fun to watch about this series that I have to admit was the majority of the cast–whether major or minor–were linked to the Condor trilogy one way or another. However, I still wouldn’t recommend as much for the plot. To me, it was one of Tony’s weaker series because I think the majority of Tony’s old series were quite good or considered good overall. It was just some details were inconsistent and frustration that I didn’t like it as much. It wasn’t the worse series of back then, because if you’d seen my reviews of my back-watching, some were worse.

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The Return of Wong Fei Hung

After watching this, I had to re-analyze all Andy Lau dramas back then when he was still with TVB. I used to think that Felix Wong was the one who got the short end of the stick, but Andy wasn’t too far behind. I have watched the majority of Andy’s TV series so I think I could say something about that. Anyway, back to this series–before I get too side-tracked. It wasn’t like that terrible, comparing to some other supposedly Golden ’80s series I watched before. However, it was so disorganized that I didn’t know what to think of it, except to treat it as one of those series where you watch for the stars only, not caring much about the story. (It’s like people make fun of Taiwanese idol dramas for having pretty faces only but nothing else. That was what I felt about this and some other TV series back then. They just came up with a loose story so we could stare at beautiful people.) The overall story wasn’t that bad, but I was talking about the focus at times and then the wrap up. It wasn’t doing anyone justice.
First off, the English title was misleading to say the least. The Chinese title was more accurate–Po Chi Lam (寶芝林), because it was the story about all of Wong Fei Hung’s disciples, not just him. The story was all right with how Wong Fei Hung met his disciples and how they eventually became his disciples. It was in a sense, they did have good and bad times and it wasn’t too cheesy that they were so perfect or always doing good. They had their moments and when it mattered, they stuck up for one another. Yet I had a feeling throughout that the disciples would lead to Wong’s downfall. But that wasn’t so. His son (portrayed by Lee Kwok Lun) was the one who died, and what a tragedy too. Not to mention so frustrating.
What got me mad about the whole story was like they had a good story about Wong Fei Hung’s side and the other local sect competing, but didn’t develop it well. It was like they wanted everything in the mix but wrapped up poorly. Like how there were different story arches with Kent Tong’s character helping his master with overthrowing the current king but also wanted to focus on the triangle with him, Yammie and Andy’s characters. The triangle annoyed me to no end. The fact that Andy and Yammie weren’t paired off was frustrating to me on many levels. I understood why and the fact that Heir To The Throne Is… (真命天子) was after this made it funnier since I watched the other one ages back already.
I actually quite like Yammie’s character, Au Yeung Ching Ching. She was very independent, even for women back then who were not allowed much freedom or rights. She worked hard and helped her mother to maintain a living by doing what she could. She knew the reality of situation and did not complain about the hardships her family had endured. She was also very understanding–as far as can be–regarding Lam Sai Wing (Andy Lau) and what he had to do. She knew everyone have their jobs to do and they were all trying to make the best of their lives. Yes, she did throw some side tantrums and was jealous of the attention his sister was getting at one point, but was reminded of that. She soon redeemed herself, trying to be more understanding. She came from a rich family at first too, so I thought she was already adapting quite well with not being a spoiled, rich snob. So as much as I didn’t like that she accepted Kent Tong’s character (since I knew he was in cahoot with his master in a lot of stuffs and I hated his fake attitude and how he jumped in the middle of Ching Ching and Lam Sai Wing’s relationship), I didn’t blame her–unlike most of the men around Lam Sai Wing. (I understood that they were his friends and sided with him and was being supportive of him yet they totally let him off so easily with blaming everything on her and saying she was just following some rich dude or whatever. Again, just because that was how it was back then didn’t mean that I have to accept it.)
As I was saying that everyone was working hard to make their lives better, so they only have some time to spend together, that included her and Lam Sai Wing. So I was really annoyed for her that he ended up not paying attention to her when she was playing her music for him or try to talk to him. She couldn’t really learn martial arts or mingle with the guys–that wasn’t what she was taught or used to. So the only way she knew to share with him was her music, but he went outside to practice his martial arts instead? That was just one example that got me annoyed. I didn’t want either of them forcing each other into pretending about their interests or anything. But I thought he at least made the effort since she was very supportive of him when knowing he was going to spend more time with martial arts practice and their time spent together was less. The fact that he seemed clueless or oblivious to her interests or didn’t at least try to understand her attempt to help him relax with her music annoyed me even more. Again, he wasn’t showing the least of effort. Yeah, I got it that it was back then, guys just assumed once the girls liked them, they were hitched forever and she supposedly belonged to him (major eye-roll here) so he didn’t feel the need to exert energy to try anymore. I know he wasn’t a terrible human being, but the way he was going, I was really frustrated for her. I loved the times they spent together, going on adventures–at least mini ones, like the time at the beach or whatever. I know they couldn’t just be happy forever and need to live in reality too, but I was disappointed that his initial care was so short-lived. It was like he was sure she liked him,  so he was done impressing her. I didn’t need it to be a game. I just wanted him to try as much as she did.
Now regarding Andy’s Lam Sai Wing. What was off for me from the start and played against Andy for me was the fact that I watched Sammo Hung’s Lam Sai Wing first, lol. So it was super weird seeing Andy portraying the role. After temporarily putting it aside, I liked his character. But I realized it was just because he was Andy and I tolerated it. Sure, he was righteous and very caring toward his sister. He was also quite kind at heart–if he didn’t let his temper get to him. Yet those didn’t make up for his stupidity at times and also causing trouble for the others. Sure, it was Nap Lan (Kent Tong) who did most of the scheming with his master to take Lam Sai Wing and Wong Fei Hung down, but Lam Sai Wing didn’t help with half of his actions throughout. Just because I hated Nap Lan didn’t mean that I would let Lam Sai Wing off easily. It was like he was pitiful on purpose so the others could sympathize with him or something. I didn’t want to force him into liking Ah Fong (Marylinn Wong)–like how the others tried to get them together, but I didn’t like that it was so his fault she had to marry that one dude. Sure, it was her choice and he was very devastated and angry after learning of Wong Chun Yee’s death. But he made it worse, not allowing her the chance to escape–if there was some sort of hope. Then it was like the script-writers decided that he just escape and return to Guangzhou, not caring if Ah Fong was forced into the other marriage situation. Yeah, I got it that the other guy was soooo powerful and he probably couldn’t do anything anyway. But he tried a lot harder when he found out Wong Chun Yee was dead. Why wasn’t he trying for Ah Fong? Again, it gave me the impression that women in here were disposables so it didn’t matter. So they could just move on. And here, I know he had to take Wong Chun Yee’s body back home to his master, but it was so cold to not try to save Ah Fong. Even if he didn’t like her in that way or whatever, but his righteousness was shown at one point in trying to save her from being sold into the brothel. That was when they barely knew each other. So what changed? That was one of the reasons why I was frustrated with the plot. The transition at times just didn’t make sense.
What was kind of off and/or confusing for me was how Ching Ching was torn at times after she found out what her husband had done (which in no way was her fault) and sometimes seemed to accept it? I don’t know. The script-writers were trying too hard to drag the episodes out or something. Or they were trying to drag her character through the dirt too so the men would look better. I don’t know. I just had that feeling. I tried to be fair to all characters but they were disappointing and it was going downhill even more as the series progressed. Even Chu Siu Bo’s character, even more sheltered and naive than most of the female population in here, managed to wake up from her obsessed mode and realized she was con hence redeeming herself. Yet Ching Ching was left to become a wishy-washy character in the end? Sure, I got it that Ching Ching didn’t want to exposed her husband. I liked her stubborn personality with how she didn’t put up with Nap Lan’s tantrums at times and his jealousy. I liked it that she pushed back and didn’t just cry away. She worked really hard at making her marriage work too, considering how she mentioned that she wasn’t forced to marry him, she accepted him on her own. So she tried. But it was like she was once again disappointed. I got it that he became paranoid that she snuck out and helped Lam Sai Wing escape that one time so it worked against her. But the other times, she already put him on top of everything, what else did he want? It was like the men in here didn’t want to try. Sure, he tried to impress her by learning music and the instrument that she played, etc. But that was initially and after they were married, he did try to make her happy, etc. Aside from that, he just expected it to be that way and frustrated when things didn’t go his way. It was mostly a control thing for him hence me not being sold on this couple either.
I think among all the couples in here, Leung Foon (Stephen Tung) and Chan Ying (Lau Suk Yee) were the luckiest. I thought they wouldn’t work out because of what happened with her brother. The fact that he almost died made it nerve-wracking too. I also felt frustrated that they threw in the whole jealousy thing with Leung Foon not accepting the fact that Wong Fei Hung taught Lam Sai Wing the special techniques first. It was like they were throwing Stephen Tung under the bus and making his character so cliche like his other series. And the script-writers had to go and stick it at the end too. Yet he redeemed himself and almost died trying to protect Lam Sai Wing. He and Chan Ying were a bickering couple. They were funny to watch at times and possibly the comedy relief of the show. I thought she would have followed her brother yet it wasn’t so. Sure, she cared for her brother, but also knew how well the others treated her. I thought she was quite brave, not caring that she was going to die when she was captured. When Lam Sai Wing came to save them, she yelled for him to not worry for her and just focus on Nap Lan. I was surprised, but that was when she became my favorite character in the series. I was done with other wishy-washy characters in here–or the too good to be true types. Her character was more grounded here. Luckily, it wasn’t destroyed like some others. Although I was also mad at Leung Foon for blaming Ching Ching regarding Lam Sai Wing too, but I just had to let it go and let him and Chan Ying be my favorite couple.
What else? Was this the start of Liu Wai Hung and Chan On Ying’s pairing? Because he later starred in Being Rich (富貴超人) with her, along with Roger Kwok and Margie Tsang. Interestingly, both series had her liking him first and then later him accepting her. He initially liked Chan Ying, but that went nowhere. It was funny to see how the other Po Chi Lam people tried to sabotage their date that one time at the opera event.
Aside from that, how was the ending? Like I said before, it was a mess. I thought the ending should have been saved for the face off between Wong Fei Hung and Yeung Chak Lam’s character, Duen Bo Tin. Yet they had to rush the face off and then forced us to endure the triangle again and then finished on a lame note. I got it how and why things were that way. I knew it was impossible for Lam Sai Wing and Ching Ching to ever be together again. I knew those things. I just wish the script-writers knew and just moved on. Letting the face off between Wong Fei Hung and Duen Bo Tin be the last moment of the series made more sense, because it tied in with the situation of their country. It tied every character together on a larger scale.
So recommended? If you want to watch for beautiful people, go ahead. I wouldn’t recommend it for the plot.

Tales From Beyond

Being a semi-fan of ghost/supernatural stuff, I had to give this a try. Not to mention it was considered an old TVB series, right?

First Story: Romance Between Human and Ghost (人鬼情)

  • Sam Tsang and Elaine Ho. I always liked their “Still Friends After Bidding Farewell” (再 見亦是朋友) and was interesting to see them collaborate in here. Even if it was one of those ghost stories. Creepy in a way but still sad. And a song from them at the end of the story.
  • Gordon Lam as one of the guys. So funny to see him back in the old days.
  • Comedy. Okay, that was interesting that they added the comedy bit into the story though it was supposed to be a romantic one or so I thought. With Gordon and the others attempting to get rid of the ghost was really funny.
  • Possessed or psycho? It was interesting at how others thought he was suffering from multiple personality disorder. AND then it got me into thinking if he really encountered a ghost OR was suffering from psychological problems. Still, it was something to think about.

Second Story: Smoking Prohibited (不准吸煙)

  • Gordon Lam as a cop. It was funny to see him yet again BUT this time as a cop.
  • Ha Yu. I miss the older days of him. For some reason, I thought he was better back then. OR perhaps the roles.
  • And more comedy. Yes, it was continuing and it wasn’t that corny for once.
  • Ghost’s smoking territory/ Multi-dimensional world. Interesting concept OR at least I thought what it was. Was that the creator’s way of interpreting where people go when they die? Like how they would go to the same place IF they smoke (in Ha Yu’s case). AND it was even more interesting that he didn’t smoke when he was in that world. It was like they were portraying another dimension. It got even more interesting as it progressed so it was hard to understand OR seemed unpredictable. But was still something to think about. It probably aimed to educate and scare people to quit smoking BUT still too funny and exaggerated.
  • Adam Cheng song. One of my favorite songs and felt it was suitable for this situation.

Third Story: Men Have Responsibilities (男子有責)

  • Liu Wai Hung. I miss this guy! His sense of responsibility was too strong so he could not leave the world just like that.
  • Helena Law. It wouldn’t be a ghost story without Helena, right?
  • It was ironic that he didn’t die because of the other guy BUT because of the woman who knocked the plant pot down.
  • Also, something to think about with the power of the mind. It was like he was able to control himself and his mind was concentrating hard on stopping the event from happening and not leaving the world at all

Fourth Story: A Belief of Revival (再生的信念)

  • Another interesting story and another interesting concept.
  • Wong Wei and Maggie Chan. Interesting pairing. They did have chemistry. Even if they were an older couple but still enjoyable to watch.
  • Carol Yeung. Freaky…
  • The plot. I knew it! It was too strange and unbelievable. NOT that those stories DO NOT happen but it was a conspiracy. Yet what was even more chilling was that Maggie’s character, Jun, actually returned later. That was really, really sad that they made him believe so he went and try to make another miracle happen. That was freaky.

Fifth Story: Manipulating the Universe (運轉乾坤)

  • Benz Hui. Poor guy. Honestly, that was WAY over with how he was bullied. But that was typical of those situations.
  • Amy Hu. Haven’t seen her ages so watching old series had its benefits.
  • Benz and Amy. Funny how they were having that conversation at the beginning. He was so kidding about running/walking to work AND she was like “Good idea.”
  • Law Lok Lam. Aww…look at him in the good old days.
  • Josephine Lam. Wow…
  • Law Lok Lam and Josephine? Wow…Yup, was interesting BUT I guess they were portraying how he was successful and marrying a beautiful young wife.
  • Benz and Law Lok Lam as friends. Cool. I don’t know. All I can say is I love those collaborations between my favorite veteran actors. But poor Law Lok Lam, only got to portray the rich, successful guy for like 10 minutes.
  • This really shed light into how the rich became successful in the first place since it wasn’t as easy with all the fame and fortune as people saw BUT there must be a lot of effort going into it with a hardworking attitude combined with talents and/or abilities
  • That was hilarious that he tried to fall again BUT it didn’t work. Guess it was implying that once you made a decision, you can’t turn back

Sixth Story: The Happy, Crazy Fowl (快樂癲雞)

  • Freaky ghost house theme
  • Know some of the cast but do not know their names
  • This story actually reminded us to respect others–whether alive or dead. I totally agree–whether they believe OR NOT. But it was a given that respect should be given, especially in the situation where the girls were at the other people’s place.
  • David Siu. Wow…didn’t expect him to be in here but not impossible since it was in the old days.
  • Wayne Lai. Honestly, I did not know it was him until later when he was eating the banana and making a face.
  • Ken vs. Ryu. Hahahaha. Although it was supposed to be really hectic, I found it funny that they were fighting through the game.
  • Okay, that was a surprise ending since I thought that it was about love BUT it was because he was her father. So that was why he felt responsible for her safety.

Seventh Story: Variation of Kindling (變異的火種)

  • Lee Kwok Lun. I always have the feeling that he looked like Felix Wong. (I swear!) Anyway, always liked him and good to see that he was leading in this short story.
  • Creepy footsteps and sound effects. I think the hallmark of those ghost stories since that scared the world out of me.
  • The suspense. Another important formula since it made it creepier–IF the sound effects didn’t get to you already.
  • Blast from the Past. Wow! I miss these types of things. I meant this kind of thing how the main lead thought he was able to save everyone and undo the past. What was even more appealing was he succeeded. It was confusing YET he sacrificed his present self to save his past self.

Eighth Story: Demons (魔)

  • Gordon Lam and some others. Well, at least they appeared at the beginning of the camping trip place.
  • Gallen Lo. Gallen in those old days. (NOT that he doesn’t look good now but still good memories.)
  • This reminded me oddly of Psycho. Thanks to my mom for reminding me once again!
  • Joey Leung was the crazy kid? Really? Didn’t realize it. It was clearer when he was arrested though.
  • So was it multiple personalities OR was he possessed? Such a tragic story. Gallen delivered with both personalities and its extremes.

Ninth Story: A Flourishing Journey (發達之旅)

  • Hugo Ng. I just realized that he looked better in modern series than ancient ones. (Or perhaps those roles he was given was too morbid or tragic that it was hard to smile?) Anyway, he did have charm in here and I wouldn’t mind watching him in something else since this was a creepy one. (He honestly reminded me of Lam Lei! LOL! They looked like each other from some angles.)
  • Bau Fong. Creepy! Chilling all right. Man, he scared the world out of me, especially with his waving hands and the laugh.
  • My mom just reminded me this seemed like Early Edition. (Just that the newspaper for the other one was used to help people AND not used for other benefits.)
  • I would love to know the song used in the episode. The one where they were singing and cheering for their newly acquired fortune.
  • This definitely was a lesson NOT to be greedy. And also sometimes knowing the future beforehand wasn’t a good idea.
  • Here they were promoting Hacken Lee again! NOT that I mind. I miss that song. Sort of.
  • The ending showed how it was an endless, unbreakable cycle. Since we will always continue to ponder and be curious about things.
  • The scariest story so far!

Tenth Story: Entering Dream (入夢)

  • Ekin Cheng.
  • I won’t comment on the political status since I DO NOT know much to discuss it and wouldn’t want to offend anyone.
  • The concept of vampire/zombie. That was creepy. At first, I thought nothing was happening and was wondering what was going on. However, that was scary all right. Suddenly the bodies were just popping out of the ground like that.
  • Wolf sounds. Another essential effect to achieve fear. And could only be done at night OR no one would fall for it.
  • Ghost world/ Zombie-land. Ooooohhh…
  • The world of imagination. So that was it? No wonder he was mentioning about how that one guy wanted to live in his own dream world. He also wanted to live in that world since he was not able to escape from the real world. Ironic?

Eleventh Story: Searching (尋)

  • Jimmy Au. One of those worth-watching roles of Jimmy since he was both hilarious and clever. His trademark was shooting six bullets into suspects/murderers.
  • Another hilarious one.
  • Gordon Lam. Whoa! He came back as the other dude. NOT really since Jimmy was imagining it.
  • That was creepy all right.

Twelfth Story: Debt of Sin (孽債)

  • Michael Tao and Ada Choi. Wow, interesting collaboration, considering it was a ghost theme.
  • Power Chan. He wasn’t around all the time but really enjoyed his scenes.
  • A creepy story about curses and whatnot.
  • Moral of the story: IF you promise something, KEEP it. The price of having to pay for broken promises.
  • AND oh yeah, DON’T mess with those people who know how to do those curses. Honestly, she was creepy all right.
  • Who was the smartest one? Power Chan of course! He warned Michael against it BUT he (Michael) didn’t listen and fell into Ada’s trap.
  • I just realized that she didn’t really love him OR wasn’t really serious about it. It seemed like she was setting up this trap of seduction and other dramas just to find a way to steal his youth and his girlfriend’s too. Well, Michael should’ve listened to Power about it and be careful.

Thirteenth Story: Portrait Within A Person (相中人)

  • Know who they are but don’t know their names
  • Gordon Lam. He’s back for the last one! Great or what?
  • Darn, that was creepy…
  • Moral of the story: DO NOT take anything that isn’t yours
  • Passing it on, huh? Indeed it was another endless cycle where greed would always exist

Why did the narrator look so familiar? (Oh yeah, he was in The Hunter’s Prey as the undercover agent. Just realized it after watching him more closely.)

Anyway, missed those old days when things were more creative and seemed like there were lots to explore. A lot of interesting concepts being introduced. Short stories were always better than the draggy ones they do nowadays.

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 reminded 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. Because I saw some of the other ones that he portrayed the bad guy but it was just wrong and I wasn’t convinced. For this one, he managed to make me hate him and believed that his character was beyond reasoning and was just some 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 mature 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 had a good heart overall and cared for her friends and was very loyal to them. I actually liked it that she was quite stubborn because she wasn’t wishy-washy like the majority of the characters in here. She knew what she liked or didn’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 was safe to say that she had this strong sense of righteousness within her that made her character more admirable in a sense.
  • Derek Kwok: Yes, TVB viewers often refer to him as the MOST underrated guy in TVB history. The fact that he only delivered his best made 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 gave it his best–whether people think it was the best role or not. As I said before, I really loved his character (and knew that he won’t last till the end of the series) and really liked his friendship with Margie’s character in here. It was just a pure kiddy relationship since they both loved to roam around town and explore or do any random activities together. His loyalty to his second brother was apparent also. A great character overall.
  • Sean Lau: I think this was my second 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 was his acting or the roles chosen because he usually did WAY better in supporting roles vs. the ones where he starred in. Maybe the characters were better written? Although they managed to rob his character of various talents in here, he still showed great loyalty with various people in here. I really liked scenes of him and his wife also. (Not that I don’t like Rebecca, just think that he matched with Red Dust Lady more.)
  • Wong Yee Kum (Red Dust Lady): She was really great in various scenes with being calm as well as rash at times. She was very intelligent, outshining 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 were very admirable. (Thanks to llwy12 for helping with her name.)
  • Liu Kai Chi: Yes, he was Mr. Naive all right. Can’t blame him because of his brother’s great acting and always speaking up for him when he was in trouble. I really liked 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 nor deceiving type so he wasn’t able to figure some things out on his own versus his sister who had 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 was because I think this was one of the rare series that I actually liked his acting or think he was 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.
  • Cheng Yim Foong (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. (Thanks to llwy12 for helping with her name.)
  • Bau Fong and Lee Heung Kam. Love these veteran actor/ actresses. They were only in the first part of the series but managed to convince me with their characters (even if they weren’t the wisest people).

Other good points about this series:

  • The friendship between Tony and Sean. It was known and proven many times that they were a great team at times thus leading to jealousy from various parties and causing more conflicts between both sides.
  • The brother/sister relationship between Tony, Jimmy, and Wong Yee Kum. There were misunderstandings at times but they managed to resolve it and stay true as friends till the very end. I loved it that they had different views at times but still managed to stay true to one another, not giving in to power or some other forces.
  • Sean and 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 was actually my other favorite pairing–if it was 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 complemented 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 places to relieve some stress or talk nonsense so he could laugh. (LOL)
  • Derek and 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 a while 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 had this strong bond of friendship which others couldn’t understand (because 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 and hairstyles. If you watched the majority of the ’80s series, you would know that they reused some of the costumes, but it was all right. Still nice to look at for the main cast and great hairstyles. I especially loved those they did for Rebecca’s character at the beginning of the story. It looked really sophisticated and nice–unlike those weird, bulky hairstyles they did for ancient series 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 was the highest peak of the series or the lowest point. Her character was tolerable near the end but her acting ceased to impress. The majority of the script was to be blamed but her acting didn’t amount to much either.
  • The dragged out 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 had 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 sidekick’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 went 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 because she was supposed to be smart (like how the scriptwriters 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 was 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, Wong Yee Kum 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 second 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, I pitied her more than hated her. I couldn’t help but come back to thinking that the scriptwriters must have hated women a lot or was trying hard to make Idy’s character shine that they 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 reminded me of The Yang’s Sagas because 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 storyline. (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 was really long. But if you skipped just one episode, you missed some major detail stuck in between. To say it simply, each detail was essential to the overall plot and would help you understand the plot better but it wasn’t necessarily well written.

Posted (on Xanga): January 28, 2009

Posted: April 27th, 2010