I must say that I have never read Three Kingdoms properly so I do not know how accurate it was. But it was not that hard to tell that Cao Cao was supposed to be the villain. That was interesting to see that they showed him as an honorable person to his sons at the beginning. It also presented a different perspective on the story of the Three Kingdoms.
This focused around the Cao household and what roughly happened during the wars among Cao Cao, Sun Quan, and Liu Bei. They briefly mentioned some historical context to move the story forward but Sun Quan and Liu Bei never appeared, which was understandable since if the others were to appear, it would’ve stolen the spotlight from Cao Cao and therefore defeating the purpose of revolving the story around Cao Cao in the first place. But they managed to put in the famous ‘Battle of Red Cliff’ (Chi Bi) and how badly Cao Cao was defeated, causing his downfall (or at least made him lose the will to fight any longer).
This story began with Yan Fuk’s dream of Lok Sun being punished for causing the rift between her husband and this other god. It was all a misunderstanding but Lok Sun still got punished and the other two gods were spared of the punishment. (Because the female population was always responsible for the male population’s actions, right? Sarcasm and insert major eye roll here.) Yan Fuk was actually the reincarnation of Lok Sun.
Yan Fuk suffered the same fate as Lok Sun because she was stuck between two men–who were brothers (and incidentally Cao Cao’s sons). Yan Fuk’s only fault was that of her beauty. If that was even supposed to be a fault at all. Even Cao Cao himself had fallen for Yan Fuk at one time though Yan Fuk skillfully persuaded him that he was her respectable elder since he was her father’s friend. He finally thought it through and decided to resolve the conflicts that his two sons were going through to win Yan Fuk’s heart. Yan Fuk, of course, favored Cho Chi Kin (portrayed by Steven Ma) from the start because of their shared love for poetry and the likes. They had this tacit understanding and complemented each other very well. Chi Kin’s older brother, Cho Chi Woon, claimed from the beginning that women were trouble and those beauties only destroy men (and the country in general). He even wanted to kill Yan Fuk at first but when he finally met face to face with her, he immediately fell in love with her. That led to the conflicts between him and his brother.
At first, Cao Cao wanted Chi Kin to succeed him as the leader of the Cao/Cho household, but he later reconsidered and changed his mind, letting Chi Woon be the leader. He never knew that Chi Woon was not using his own talents to win over Chi Kin for the power. Others failed in vain in convincing him that there was some stronger power behind Chi Woon helping him. They were right and that was the pretentious Si Ma Yi. Chi Kin did not want to fight with his brother but he was driven to the wall with his brother’s despicable/underhanded method of winning that he was pulled into the conflict in gaining power as well. (Not to mention how he knew that only he could help the citizens live a better life after gaining power. Chi Woon was not a good choice where citizens were concerned because he would do anything to gain power. Chi Woon was like their father in that way.) Cao Cao also knew that Chi Woon was not the best choice so he wanted to marry Yan Fuk to Chi Woon so she could be his adviser and guide him in the right direction. However, he never realized there were other parties and forces involved so his plan was crumbling apart. Aside from Si Ma Yi’s constant schemes to get rid of Chi Kin’s allies, there was also Yan Fuk’s supposedly good sister Kwok Huen stirring things up to sabotage Yan Fuk due to jealousy.
There were too many things going on at the same time that it was hard to explain. You just have to watch it to know what really happened and understand the conflicts better. Who was the big winner in the end? Si Ma Yi, of course, since Cao Cao failed to listen to the others and gave too much power to Chi Woon that when he finally found out about Chi Woon’s beyond cure state, it was too late.
Aside from all those political conflicts and side romance stories, I found several scenes memorable–touching even, which were:
- The part where Lau Sik Sik died. I actually cried at that part because of her tragic ending. She was an orphan who was brought into the brothel to be trained as a singer and later was recruited by Cao Cao’s first wife to fight against Yan Fuk. Yet, she was not a petty person. She knew and understood that Yan Fuk was a talented person and someone whom she could befriend since they shared some common interests. I felt that she was more on par with Yan Fuk and could be considered as the good sister than that of Kwok Huen. (Since although Kwok Huen used to be from a rich family and her beauty was stressed at various times but she could not be compared to Sik Sik’s elegance or grace.) The conflicts between Cao Cao’s wives had caused Sik Sik’s death. Not to mention how Kwok Huen had sided with Cao Cao’s second wife to try and replace Sik Sik by copying Sik Sik’s singing style. Sik Sik, like Yan Fuk, only wanted to live a simple life–but it was impossible with the circumstances surrounding them. Priscilla was a good choice for the role and her voice matched one of those ancient singers.
- The part where Yeung So died. Yes, death was an unavoidable thing around the Cao household since Cao Cao was a very suspicious person, always thinking that others were plotting against him if they did anything out of the ordinary–according to him. Yeung So’s death was caused by his stubbornness and unwilling to let go and some traces of arrogance that had made others feel threatened by his talents thus wanting to get rid of him. Perhaps he should’ve listened to his master before taking actions or at least be more cautious toward what was going on. However, he should not be blamed in totality since he was desperate to help his good friend, Chi Kin. In fact, he was a loyal friend. He had never shown jealousy toward Chi Kin or Yan Fuk considering how others had compared them to him with their ability to solve various problems. His death scene was really tragic considering how they showed Chi Kin and Yan Fuk remembering back to the past about their group of friends going to the inn to drink and talk about various matters. Also, the poem he uttered out before his death and the song version came on accompanying the whole scene was very well done. A very touching moment. (Not to mention the letter that Yeung So left behind for Chi Kin.) Though lack of screen time (or what it seemed like), Gilbert did very well in portraying his character with his brilliant side and the somewhat stubborn side as well.
- The part where Chui Fau died. Though ironic since she was an annoying character throughout with her petty antics in trying to get rid of Yan Fuk yet she turned out all right in the end. Her only fault was her stupidity since she did not understand Cao Cao’s plans yet only wanted to support her husband throughout. It was really pathetic and beyond frustrating that when Chi Kin was telling Cao Cao how he did not like Chui Fau but Cao Cao did not listen. He brushed it off and proceeded with their marriage anyway. However, when he discovered why it was a big mistake in letting Chui Fau marry Chi Kin, he immediately sought to eliminate the obstacle (or so he thought) for Chi Kin. I felt that it was very ironic since Chi Kin finally learned to accept her and she finally learned how to become a good wife (minus the whole high dreams of wanting to be a queen one day). What was even more tragic was leaving behind their son without a mother. I felt that scene was equally memorable with the other two death scenes since it highlighted the conflicts and enhanced the rift between Chi Kin and his father. She did not deserve to die however stupid she was.
- The part where Yan Fuk died. It was sad yet frustrating at the same time though I knew from the beginning that she would die. It was probably her fate and if tying in with her Lok Sun identity, it could be explained that her time in the human world was done and she had served out her sentence after learning all the things about the human world. Yet it was giving Kwok Huen and Si Ma Yi the satisfaction of her death since they eliminated the biggest obstacle of their lives.
What I found the most frustrating and pathetic was Chi Woon knew from the start that Chi Kin and Yan Fuk was the real couple yet he kept wanting to win over Chi Kin and marry Yan Fuk. Yet afterward, he would blame Yan Fuk for being unfaithful when she had tried her best to make it work–because of what she could not change with the forced marriage. It was probably Cao Cao’s fault also for thinking that he could just plan anything and it would go accordingly. However, I just felt it was really dumb to blame everything on Chi Kin and Yan Fuk when Chi Woon was the one being unreasonable and unfaithful throughout. Chi Woon never loved Yan Fuk to begin with, he was only obsessed with her beauty and how badly he wanted to win over Chi Kin. (If not, why would he fall for Kwok Huen’s schemes?) But in a way, it emphasized Cao Cao’s downfall and how his family would never gain power for a long time so that was their deserved fate. But I felt Chi Kin and Yan Fuk were the victims of time, considering how they only wanted to have a simple life yet were forced into such conflicts.
What I found the most admirable was the friendship among Chi Kin, Yan Fuk, Shik Shik, and Yeung So. They knew each other’s talents and capabilities and shared interests thus becoming good friends yet they seemed to live in the wrong time (as mentioned above). They were so comfortable with one another and was really happy at that one inn where they would meet and talk about various topics, composing poems, or drink to their friendship. Their bond was what made Shik Shik and Yeung So’s deaths even more tragic and touching. No one was able to stop it from happening, especially in Yeung So’s case. Shik Shik was unexpected. But Yeung So’s was predictable considering how he was taking such actions but he chose it anyway, knowing it would bring him trouble. The others did not have any power to prevent it from happening and could only witness it in frustration or sadness. The scene with Yan Fuk reminiscing about the past and Chi Kin practicing his swords skills while Yeung So was being transported to the appointed site for the beheading process reflected their state of emotions well. Each time, it was like the ones who were left behind would hurt more with continuing to carry on no matter how hard it was. It was like until the end that Chi Kin finally died as well that their bond finally broke. Though their story would probably remain behind with those who knew them.
What was a bit interesting and amusing all at once was the relationship between masters and servants in here for several cases. What I meant was Yan Fuk and Yau Seen versus Kwok Huen and Song Yau. Both servants were loyal to their masters but one out of gratitude and respect contrary to the other with blind trust/beliefs. It was interesting how Kwok Huen was able to brainwash Song Yau into helping her throughout with the various plots. It was ironic that Song Yau said Kwok Huen saved her so she would do anything to protect Kwok Huen yet if it wasn’t for Yan Fuk saving Kwok Huen in the first place, none of that would’ve happened. But Song Yau got what she deserved in the end for being so blind with helping Kwok Huen. I also felt that June was better in portraying her role so her character was more convincing and May Kwong was not as good so it was hard to understand how her character was becoming that way.
Acting? Honestly, Steven and Ada were the ones that I was really impressed with among the four main cast. Moses was all right but I thought he could not make me sympathize with him even when he was being underestimated by his father. I guess it was mostly due to the fact of his ironic character, stating that women were trouble but he just dived right into it and could not resist temptation and just turned around blaming them in the end. It was pathetic. And for some reason, I could not feel the bond between him and Steven as brothers but could feel more with Steven and Evergreen Mak’s. Maybe it was because how Chi Woon had always been so calculative (aka keeping scores) and had been silently jealous of Chi Kin that made it hard to see their brotherly bond. Yes, there were traces of their bonding with how they played that one game at the beginning of the series, but I felt it was always Chi Kin/Steven pulling the weight or effort to mend things with Chi Woon/Moses. Evergreen’s acting seemed stronger than Moses’ though he was not placed into one of the lead roles. He still delivered his part and made his loyalty toward Chi Kin/ Steven convincing and admirable. He was an honest person but he knew the importance of family–unlike Chi Woon who was blinded by jealousy. Perhaps, putting Moses alongside Steven was a bad idea since Steven would shine without trying. Ada probably looked more compatible with Moses than Steven (or what I thought of at the beginning) but Steven and Ada’s acting made up for it with their chemistry and interactions throughout. What about Sonija? Let’s just say that she did better in her recent roles. Because honestly, Sonija was what made it hard to see what was the fuss about her beauty. Maybe it was only Chi Woon who was blinded by Kwok Huen’s words and seduction method but there wasn’t anything important about her. Possibly that was why Kwok Huen was so jealous of Yan Fuk and wanted to get rid of her. Even Irene Wong did WAY better than Sonija in portraying her role. Although it was a different type of character considering their characters’ personalities, Sonija failed to capture the essence of the character thus making it unconvincing or show any signs of significance.
However frustrating that was, I still find it one of the better TVB series since it managed to capture an interesting side of the story. It was another perspective to consider since we were always told from the point of view of the other two famous figures, Sun Quan and Liu Bei. What I wanted to complain about was the makeup for the cast. The guys were all right but the girls were more noticeable. Except for Priscilla’s makeup, the rest of the female population seemed too pale or too old somehow. I’m not saying that they’re old, I’m just saying that the makeup made them look that way. All the female cast chosen were not ugly at all yet the makeup failed to bring out their beauty. Even though Ada looked stunning in her costumes but she still looked like she was too tired or something.