Hong Kong Entertainment, Paul Chun, Tony Leung

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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Andy Lau, Hong Kong Entertainment

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.

Andy Lau, Chow Yun Fat, Hong Kong Entertainment

The Maverick

This was one of the rare ancient series that Chow Yun Fat participated in ages ago. It started out quite promising with the mystery and suspense building episode by episode and the major characters appearing one by one. But then it deteriorated because of some inconsistency. However, I think after watching some other series that I will not mention right now, I think this had somewhat gone up on my list. Moving along, lol.

Main Cast:

  • Lau Kong (劉江) as Shui She Wo (舍我). The reason why I placed him first was because how he appeared first. He was the storyteller and ended up being their leader for the majority of the story–with his vast knowledge and all. So I thought it was suitable. Not to mention he also closed the story with his narration. He was the level-headed one throughout and tried to guide them along as much as possible. Well, he was seen upset at one point or another, but it didn’t lead him into doing some stupid stuffs like some characters in here. He was just blaming himself for not seeing things faster or stopping some events from unfolding, but that was like impossible to stop or predict. He wasn’t only their leader, but also the glue to their group since he kept them focused and reminded them what the purpose was, etc. He was the voice of reasoning for most of them.
  • Chow Yun Fat (周潤發) as Liu Chi (柳迟). A mysterious wanderer whom had a mission of helping the weak and solving various conflicts in the name of righteousness. The story didn’t start with him, obviously, but he became one of the major characters throughout. In fact, he was the key to the puzzle all along–whether it was because of some superstition that had paved the path of the story. CYF showed his acting abilities throughout, no doubt about it. His character was a mixture of humorous moments (mostly at the beginning) and intensity. He had his intelligent moments as well as rash moves. With all that said, I didn’t think his character was boring at all. Far from it. It wasn’t like one-dimensional hero kind of thing that other dramas often depicted. He wasn’t the type of hero that was hogging the screen from episode 1 to episode 20 either. He was indeed absent from the main conflict at various points of the story, which made his character less “showy” and in a way more realistic.
  • Susanna Au Yeung ( 歐陽珮珊) as Tang Lei (唐蕾). A strong, hot-headed character then later turned into a very understanding, level-headed person. I think this was probably one of my favorite characters of hers–outside of the Condor trilogy realm, that was. She appeared mysterious and intelligent during the initial scenes because of her background and how she was on her way to investigate matters to clear her family’s name. Yet later it somehow showed she was more rash than the character appeared to be. That was all right since it showed her own personality unfolding and how she was different when not carrying out assignments for her father. What made her character real for me was how she was really jealous at first and was persistent to cut herself off from Liu Chi–not all talks; then later when she realized what was going on and all the misunderstandings were resolved, she owed it up to her past behaviors and apologized to Die Yi (although I didn’t think Die Yi was that innocent in the whole matter–or even Liu Chi was that innocent).
  • Oscar Lam (林偉健) as Hu Bu Xiao  (胡不肖). An inexperienced wanderer who was really ambitious with proving himself and becoming the best of the jianghu realm yet later learned to curve back his impulsive nature. He was probably the comedy relief in here–along with Zi Jun later on. Yet what was so unexpected was his death near the end. It was like totally uncalled for and only wanted to create some hype and/or frustration toward the main villain in the end. I mean, I already hated that other dude, no need to pile it on. What was ironic about Hu Bu Xiao’s death was how I didn’t really like him in the beginning. I meant, I thought he was funny but I didn’t like how he was so rash in interfering with other sects/clans conflicts at the beginning when he didn’t understand the rules. But his character slowly grew on me, especially how he’d become an odd team with Shui She Wo along the way.
  • Shirley Yim (雪梨) as Ou Yang Zi Jun (歐陽紫君). Liu Chi’s half-sister. I liked her the moment she appeared. She was brilliant and charming with her acting and her character helped heaps with a mixture of maturity and immaturity at times. Although I must admit the hype sort of died down when it went on and on with the family conflict and how I realized this was going to be a battle within the resident, with her being edged out because she was the only girl. However, she managed to shine past all her siblings, because her father finally realized she was the only capable one among all her siblings (minus Liu Chi since they didn’t know about his existence or relation to them until way later).
  • Kwan Chung (關聰) as Ou Yang Meng Fei (歐陽夢飛). He appeared to be weak (according to most people) at first, then progressed to posses a lust for power, wanting to conquer everything regardless of techniques. One could explain that he was driven to insanity by others around him. His master didn’t help either. Yet some of the flow of his character didn’t make sense. It was like they were convinced to make him the bad guy already so the other main characters could go ahead with their plan to take him down. Or perhaps, it was Kwan Chung’s lack of acting, I swear, lol. ‘Cause I do feel for his character at times, but the lack of emotions made it hard to relate. Or maybe the script-writers/directors/whole team wanted to rush the plot along, not working on some minor details that could impact the whole picture.
  • Patricia Chong (莊靜而) as Die Yi (蝶衣). I seriously thought that this would be her second role that I would like of her, but I was majorly disappointed after her initial appearance. She showed a promising start when she appeared to be knowledgeable of various subjects and her endurance and patience of others. Her analysis of Ou Yang Meng Fei was also spot on when he tagged her at the beginning. But I lost all respect for her when she tried to tag Liu Chi knowing that he was married. (NOT blaming just her since I thought Liu Chi was over the line as well, even if he had said it was nothing.) I didn’t care if she tried to cover it up by being extra helpful to others.

Others:

  • Samuel Kwok Fung (郭鋒) as Tang Kai (唐開). Tang Lei’s older brother. It was funny to see Samuel and Susanna together as siblings like this, knowing their real life relations. But I thought they weren’t a bad team. As far as the story went, I thought that Tang Kai was far nicer than what others depicted of him. Of course, that also had to do with all the fake stuffs Shan Zhong Lao Ren tried to pin on him by sending out different people to impersonate him. He was a really good brother to Tang Lei and really cared for his family. Such a tragic ending, but was glad others solved the mystery of his death.
  • Chu Tit Wo (朱鐵和) as aka  Guo Da Yu (郭大愚) aka Shan Zhong Lao Ren (山中老人). Very cunning from the start. However, his supposed “intelligent” had pushed him too far hence not seeing what was coming. Then I wonder if his name was on purpose, lol. He was the one who tried to drive Ou Yang Meng Fei insane and pushed him to the other side. Even if it was Meng Fei’s choice, but I thought he didn’t help at all with the constant pestering. He miscalculated because he thought he had everything under his thumb, thinking he could control Meng Fei yet it was too late. He lost the battle.
  • Andy Lau (劉德華) as Xiao Sha (小煞). He appeared in episode 14 and then a little more in episode 15. He was obsessed with wine and somehow got drawn into the mysterious place. He wasn’t mentioned again as the story moved on. But I had a feeling he had been used for other causes in that weird place. He was very easy to spot and Andy’s early acting roles showed great potential. I was almost reluctant to see that he was only appearing a bit, lol.

Relationships / Pairings / Friendships / Whatever else:

  • Chow Yun Fat and Susanna Au Yeung. I think it was a odd pairing at first yet they grew on me. To think of it, they weren’t the worst pairing of one another, because they had worse. I thought their acting made their chemistry work since they were quite compatible as characters. Although they were hot-headed and unreasonable at times, but they were indeed a match made in Heaven. I was glad they didn’t break apart regardless of what happened. Sometimes, I question if he really loved her and missed her or was just feeling sorry for her, considering he did cause her to lose her family at the beginning (by leaving them) and later how tragedies fell upon her whole family. Yet CYF’s acting had convinced me that he did indeed love her and miss her, and later appreciated her for who she was. In a way, they matured–for the better, because they truly understood what was more important–and not because they forced themselves to change to get along with one another. So all the times they were apart wasn’t for nothing.
  • Chow Yun Fat and Patricia Chong. I will have to admit hat he matched more with her appearance-wise hence it made me feel that he didn’t really love Tang Lei but felt sorry for Tang Lei. But later, I realized it was different. Sure, he probably liked Die Yi at one point and got along with her well. Yet Tang Lei’s absence from his life probably made him realized where his heart truly lied.
  • Kwan Chung and Patricia Chong. I don’t know what to say about them since they were probably a match on the surface yet were so different on other levels. I think what irked me was how it seemed like she was settling for him since she realized it was hopeless it was Liu Chi. Forgive me for receiving the wrong message, but her actions made me doubt her in many ways. Regardless of how he turned out later, I didn’t think it made her anymore likable by turning him into a complete asshole. I think I’m better off blaming the script-writer because the characters were so inconsistent. Or perhaps, it was because he really wanted to win her over, it was more of a challenge for him than loving her. Since it was like suddenly he wasn’t so into caring what she thought of him anymore, but just did whatever he wanted. It was explained many times that he changed, etc. But I think it was hard to convince. Again, inconsistency.
  • Oscar Lam and Shirley Yim. They were obviously the fun, bickering couple of the group. I loved them since their first meeting. They helped me get through all the boring scenes of Die Yi and Meng Fei. Also the frustrating parts as well. I thought they were the most convincing couple in here, because of how their story was. It was sort of typical that he wanted to prove to her and the others that he could be the best, etc. That was also his downfall throughout the story. When he finally was fighting for something worth it, he ended up losing his life. It was indeed quite tragic for them. The reason why I was so mad by the end. It was so sad for her, having to face the world alone after all they’d been through.
  • Lau Kong and Oscar Lam as master and student. Perhaps, it was a jinx that Shui She Wo finally accepted Hu Bu Xiao as a disciple near the end? Well, Shui She Wo did say that he would never accept anyone as his disciple. Like I said in the other section, I found their relation funny and enjoyable along the way. I thought it was odd that Hu Bu Xiao was suddenly listening to Shui She Wo, but it made sense that he wanted to survive and learned from the best. Their scenes were comic relief for the series (along with Bu Xiao and Zi Jun’s scenes).
  • Lau Kong and Chow Yun Fat as friends. Well, the former was more experienced in the jianghu realm and the latter relied on him for information–like the majority people in there would. However, I think their relationship was of equal, more like friends than an elder trying to pass on some knowledge to the younger generation–like how it was with Hu Bu Xiao. I felt like they were best friends or tea buddies, lol. They trusted one another throughout, not second guessing the other. Even if the other wasn’t around at the moment, but they stuck up for one another throughout.

Discussions / Questions / Others:

  • Did Liu Chi really loved Tang Lei or was that just out of gratitude for all she’d done for him? Was the the person he loved actually Die Yi? These two questions had been circulating in my head throughout the series. And I did mention this several times in the other sections already. I just wanted to put it here again to bring some attention on its own. Anyway, I couldn’t shake it off, considering how he was so interested in Die Yi at the beginning, like even neglecting Tang Lei to go talk to Die Yi. They indeed clicked and seemed to have an understanding. It seemed like he was really feeling responsible for Tang Lei and how he’d caused her to lose her family so I felt it wasn’t as strong. However, I think I believed him when he realized how he couldn’t live without Tang Lei after she left that one time–what was with their misunderstanding regarding her brother and all. Or perhaps CYF’s acting was so convincing with his longing for Tang Lei. He really tried to stay away from Die Yi from then on or didn’t seem as interested in her anymore. Perhaps he felt bad for leading her on so he actually was gentle toward her that one time when she was chasing after him to get him to talk to her when he was hiding from them all (after he chopped his own hand off).
  • Was the plot getting lame or what? I thought it was. It was like near the end, the writers didn’t want to try anymore. I meant like how it was super lame that Liu Chi killed his father just like that. Okay, so he saw the masked man revealing himself as Old Master Ou Yang and it was his right to get mad–if he was really deceived. Then he rushed back to confront the old man. Usually, I would laugh at people for talking too long with confrontation scenes since it would lead to the other party escaping. But this time, I think they cut it TOO SHORT. It was like, “How dared you deceive me!” and then chop chop. I got it that his anger was getting the better of him, but considering how he was really intelligent in the past, I would expect him to ask first and then kill. Regardless, the old man couldn’t get away anyway. Not like that guy was that innocent anyway, BUT that didn’t justify the really lame, short scene. If it was excuses, hear him out first. What else? I wasn’t surprised that Die Yi died since Ou Yang Meng Fei was getting more and more temperamental, but it was REALLY short too. Again, usually I roll my eyes at really long lovey-dovey goodbye/death scenes. But this time, it was really, really short too. Like she didn’t struggle, he didn’t struggle either, just “wham” kill her and get it over with. Even if he killed her in the heat of the moment, it would make sense to at least show some sort of like, “Omg, did I just kill the girl I love?” Or like, an emotional/over-dramatic, “Why did you make me kill you?” But NOPE. I didn’t feel anything. I think I felt more when Liu Chi had the funeral for Die Yi, even though I didn’t cheer for them. Which comes back to me pondering was it just Kwan Chung’s terrible acting or was it the script? But once again, another scene involving him proved my point. (OR so I like to think, lol.) That was the part when Hu Bu Xiao died. Again, NO major reaction, just the whole, “You want to die? I’ll kill you.” Then he beat him to death right in the cell. Um, he was waiting for Liu Chi to come. Sure, he didn’t need to keep his promise. But what kind of villain wouldn’t keep a bargaining chip around so he could make the main dude reconsider about going against him? Sure, one could argue he has no emotions so no emotions are needed along with his reactions, BUT I felt everything he did was in monotone.

So recommended? I will say it could be worse (after seeing a certain series), but I think you have to be a fan of the people mentioned here to watch it. It is one of CYF’s rare ancient series. The beginning was sort of worth it with the mystery and all. By my rant, of course, by the end it had deteriorated. But up to you really.

Eddie Cheung, Gallen Lo, Hong Kong Entertainment

Battle in the Royal Court

This was one of the better series of the ’80s. I seriously think it might have been better than some of the productions that the five tigers were in. Although there were more deaths than I would prefer but I guess it had to be that way, considering the theme.

Main Cast:

  • Gallen Lo as Shen Zhi (沈). One of Gallen’s best roles actually. It surprised me since I didn’t watch him until his series in the ’90s and even if it was awesome and that the majority loved his characters yet I felt it was too over-hype for some reason. Yet this one made me appreciate him as an actor even more since he shone like way before that. He delivered quite well, showing all ranges of emotions–from the smart leader to the somewhat mischievous person that he was at times alongside Margie’s Princess Yi Lan to being a filial son to his fathers (his real father and the adopted one). As a righteous hero, he wasn’t perfect, but his determination made him noble.
  • Margie Tsang as Princess Yi Lan (伊公主). Margie didn’t disappoint with her character. She was witty and charming, which helped with her character heaps. As Princess Yi Lan, she was intelligent and cunning hence her father trusted her to give her such a huge responsibility. I was glad to see Margie shine in this role and although she did suffer so much for the main guy yet didn’t have to die like some other series that got me frustrated. I was so glad she had a happy ending this time in a serious series.
  • Eddie Cheung as Zhu Qi Yu (朱祈钰 ). Eddie delivered effortlessly. At first, he indeed gave the impression that he was a genuine person, just looking for someone to help him with overthrowing his brothers and somehow restore peace so that the citizens could live happily again. Yet it wasn’t so. Many said that he changed yet I think he said at one point (which we could all trust) that he never changed, it was just that he had to resort to anything to ascend the throne. He was just good at pretending and manipulating everyone around him. He was also patient. Even if somehow he was good at one point, his lust for power (aka becoming king) had overwhelmed all the reasoning that was left in him.
  • Eugina Lau as Fang Guan Hua (方冠華). When I first saw her, I thought it was another boring role since I had stumbled across quite a few of those from her. Yet this one was a tad different. Although she did fall for the wrong person or someone she thought she could trust and marry, she didn’t tolerate his evil side or tried to convince others to forgive him just because he said he loved her. She still loved him (like she said at the end when they were both trapped in the cave) yet she wasn’t going to let him hurt others, especially all the innocent lives that was forced to participate in a war that no one wanted in the first place. I had to admire her for that. What got me a tad disappointed was that she became inactive for the majority of the series later on. I wasn’t referring to screen time but her role as an overall, like how we saw her teaming up with Shen Zhi in defeating this one evil monk with their swords technique yet she was dismissed of her talents later on and it seemed they totally forgot or cared for that special swords technique for the rest of the drama or something. But I guess it was forgivable since they (the script-writers) were trying to bring the focus back on the battles among the different powers in here that were trying to rise to the top. Oh yeah, I was seriously confused whether she died or not at the end. The way it seemed was that she did, but I wasn’t too sure.
  • Nathan Chan as Shen Hong (沈鸿). I swear I thought he would be the bad one among the three guys. Yet I was wrong, and in a way I was glad. Because I swear, I liked his character, although a tad hot-headed but was really loyal to his sect and cared for his siblings dearly. He was also quite righteous. What got me really pissed off though was how he was killed off when the series was almost over. Seriously? I guessed they had to emphasis the consequences of being involved in some nasty battle between different parties. But it didn’t make it any less frustrating.
  • Josephine Lam as Zhang Xin Xin (張欣欣). I didn’t realize Josephine was around for that long, lol. I probably didn’t watch the right series to know. Anyway, loved her character in here. Although she was misled when she first appeared yet her character was quite lovable as the series progressed. It was also quite sad to discover that her father had lied to her and had anticipated to fulfill some big plan for his own gain. It was also quite sad that became her downfall later on as she realized her father wasn’t going to repent for his past misdeeds and had caused the death of Shen Hong hence her wanting to end her own life as well.

Others:

  • Bobby Au Yeung as Zhu Qi Zhen (朱祈镇). I didn’t know whether to feel pity for him and think of him as weak at other times. I don’t mean that he was sick the majority of the time either. But I mean how wishy-washy he was later on. I guess it was understandable that since he was weak since little, he didn’t get to learn or experience with daily life stuffs. However, sometimes I got impatient with seeing when he would mature. Yet after all that happened, I had a sinking feeling he would turned out exactly like his other siblings. I meant okay, it was good that he was determined on some matters, not wanting to let some parties get away with their past misdeeds yet his determination to go after those parties, like getting rid of them all made it chilling to some degree. Bobby’s acting was really good, seeing the transition between the confused, kindhearted person that he was at the beginning and turning into a possibly scary person at the end. I think that was also why Shen Zhi decided to fake his death and leave with Princess Yi Lan since he had seen enough and had been through enough of those conflicts. (Not to mention how Shen Zhi had lost more than enough in his life. When he felt like he wasn’t able to convince Zhu Qi Zhen into toning down his aggression, he thought it was better to leave. Who could blame Shen Zhi, right?) Maybe that little skit also somewhat convince Zhu Qi Zhen to let go somewhat and thought of what Shen Zhi said before it all went down. Because looking at Shen Zhi’s supposed body at the end, we were able to see how Zhu Qi Zhen gaining some past glint of his kindness in his eyes.
  • Cary Choi as  Qu Ying Zhi (曲盈枝). Her character was mysterious and intelligent when she first appeared. Her charm and beauty just came along with that. It was subtle and didn’t overshadow her intelligence and grace. What I meant was she had this natural but not elegance beauty like some others in here yet that didn’t dim her character. She had a somewhat of a cold-face image about her yet she was probably one of the kindest persons. It was like one of those image we often saw in the ancient beauty, where they were seemed cold-faced yet wasn’t so if we got to know them sort of thing. Even more so, it created this mystic aura around her. Perhaps, she was too kindhearted that it became her downfall. Cary didn’t fail to convince me and she was probably my favorite female character in here-although I liked the other characters too. That was also why her death made me even more pissed off and making me want to reach into the screen and slap Zhu Qi Zhen for not believing her. (Can’t blame him since the scheme was indeed elaborate yet it made her trust and love for him a joke.)
  • Cheung Ying Choi (張英才) as the late king. He was portraying his typical role as the weak-minded king who might or might not be swayed by some schemes like in this case some voodoo stuffs. When he realized what was going on, it was too late. Not only with his other two sons but also with his supposedly “good” son.
  • Chu Tit Wo (朱鐵和) as Shen Hong’s father and Shen Zhi’s adopted father. He was one of my favorite veteran actors in the old days. Not sure what’s going on with him now or if he’s still active. But although brief appearance, but he made his role worthwhile to watch. One of his tragic roles.
  • Kitty Lau as Shen Chu Ba (沈初八). Shen Hong’s older sister. Having only watched her portraying wealthy roles for some of the series that I managed to catch of her in the ’90s, I was surprised to see her in this type of role, associating with jianghu conflicts and all. What made me confused at one point was whether she was dead or not, but I was guessing yes since she didn’t appear in the later parts. What got me confused was how they didn’t mourn her enough like some characters in here. She was after all the main leads’ sister.
  • Sin Ho Ying as Leng Feng (冷峰). For the majority of the series, I was scared that he would die yet he didn’t. He had a close call at the beginning of the series when he was captured along with Shen Hong.
  • (???) as Taoist Qing Feng (清風道長). He was probably one of the smartest persons in the Bai Lian Sect. He was level-headed for the majority of the time and was able to plan his moves carefully. He was probably one of the most important persons around Shen Hong when Shen Zhi was MIA, considering how Shen Hong could be so hot-headed at times.
  • Cutie Mui as Ying Er (颖儿). She appeared briefly as Guan Hua’s maid and contributed to the somewhat hilarious atmosphere at the  beginning of the drama. Yet she died tragically along with most of the Fang household members.

Couples:

  • Gallen / Shen Zhi and Margie / Princess Yi Lan. I was really, really surprised of their chemistry. Perhaps it was because I never thought of them pairing up together. But it was strangely natural. I swear that they were Zhang Wu Ji and Zhao Min on some level, lol. Of course, the exception was there were no third parties involved, except for that one time she misunderstood there was something going on between him and his adopted sister. I actually enjoyed their story for the majority of the time. Sometimes, I pondered if they were going to work out or if it was the tragic route–like how it was with some of Margie’s past roles with her dying. I also liked it that they didn’t make her perfect or more likable (like too good to be true for the main girl in nowadays dramas). Yes, she did eventually change her mind after having been around the Ming people for a long time, realizing that citizens there weren’t any different than her citizens, also wanting peace. But she didn’t dial down her liveliness. She was still intelligent and cunning, but she directed her efforts elsewhere. I also liked it that he didn’t change completely either after meeting her or after being with her. That sort of defeated the purpose of liking the persons they were in the first place–at least to me. They both kept on being themselves, but the only change–which made sense–was thinking for one another as a couple.
  • Eddie / Zhu Qi Yu and Eugina / Fang Guan Hua. Seriously, their relationship sure fazed out fast. Possibly because his lust for power was way stronger than his compassionate side for others. Their relationship started as a bickering relationship and actually had foundation at first. Probably that was why it hurt so bad with his betrayal later on and eventually tossing her out like some disposables. It was seriously cold. What I liked about their relationship at the beginning was their love for swordsmanship and how they practiced together and/or compete. It was also somewhat nice to see that he had created a sword for her and all. It would have been nice to see him die by the sword he made for her. But I guess TVB needed a battle between the main guys to end it all.
  • Nathan / Shen Hong and Josephine / Zhang Xin Xin. Their relationship started out as a bickering couple yet ended tragically. I swear TVB just have to go and kill them like the last minute of the series. It was seriously messed up and one of the reasons I was sore about. But I had a gut feeling that his ending had to do with her father’s doing although I had anticipated it differently. Still, it didn’t ease my anger a tad when the scene of him lying dead rolled around. I hoped for a miracle that the scene in the main theme only meant she found him lying around (because of the angle of the scene) and would bring him back so the others could save him. But it wasn’t so. I actually did cry during that scene (like how I did when Ying Zhi died).
  • Bobby / Zhu Qi Zhen and Cary / Qu Ying Zhi. Tragic. I think I felt tenfold more sorry for him during their ending. I felt what hurt the most was that he didn’t believe her. It was the last scene they were together, the part where he visited in her cell and asked her if she’d betrayed him. She was, of course, heartbroken–completely, saying that it didn’t matter if the others didn’t believe her yet what matter was that he believed her. In the end, he had questioned her motive so what was left for her? I was intrigued by their meeting from the start, wondering how it would work out and wonder if he would die. I had a higher bet that he would be killed off by his so-called “brothers” than surviving till the end. Yet it was her who died tragically because of how his so-called “brother” tried to frame her and eliminate her from his twisted plot.

Recommended? Worth it? I thought it was actually a good series on its own, not comparing to others. It might not be much to some people since they weren’t considered star-dubbed like there were no member of the five tigers involved or their other famous co-stars. (Margie was considered famous back then since she did star in quite a few major productions with the five tigers, but I felt like she wasn’t cherished by TVB hence her not getting enough exposure like some others I didn’t care about.) Yet this one had a good plot, even if it had turned out frustrating at times. It was a series about the battles to gain the throne so of course there were bloody deaths or sacrifices so it wasn’t like uncalled for. But it didn’t feel over-hype. The pace was just right, not too slow and not too fast that it was confusing. So you didn’t feel the drag of the plot. Not to mention the focus wasn’t just on a few characters and that was it, they were more engaging with the side characters as well. Yes, there were goofs or unknown areas, but I felt it was good enough as an overall. All in all, this was a 4 out of 5 for me, because of some factors I mentioned that I was sore about.