Filthy Rich

This was a light comedy and a rare gem of the ’90s. Seriously, many might not think much of it, but I thought it was awesome. Well, okay, not awesome, but probably one of those that I could just sit back and enjoy without it spoiling because of some lame ending or overly complicated, unnecessary dramas.

Main Cast:

  • Liu Wai Hung as Hung Chau Sang (洪秋生). An electrician that worked for a fussy boss. His luck turned when he rescued a wealthy man and got an opportunity to work at a large company (due to public pressure mostly because the incident was published in various news media). He seemed quite strange and possibly bordering on the greedy side initially. However, he was quite hardworking. It was just that he refused to be bullied at times and could appear to be a busybody at other times. He wasn’t despicable or scheming in any way. He accidentally got the opportunity but wasn’t too into wanting to push his connections with the big boss onward. Everything seemed to happen so fast at first and because the big boss had misled him with some promises. What I liked about him even more was how he didn’t use Yik Lian’s connection to forward his cause later nor did he go on some lame ego trip with their different backgrounds either. Yes, he was indeed discouraged when called upon by Yik Lian’s father and was given some ‘down talk’. Yet he didn’t dwell long. Instead of taking it out on her or others around him, he chose to work hard in understanding the company and their business deals even more. He also learned various languages on the side and their customs to help with business and other formal gatherings. It wasn’t like he was some clueless guy either, but it was shown that he was an excellent dancer (via the scene where they had that one dance-off in the restaurant). He was just a down to earth type of guy that didn’t show off all the time like some people always put up that ‘air’ like they were royal. This was the second time watching Liu Wai Hung portraying a character who worked for a cheap, rich boss. He delivered quite nicely and distinguished well between both characters. It made me realized he wasn’t typecast.
  • Sheren Tang as Kam Yik Lian (金忆莲). A successful, independent career woman. Also the daughter of Kam Chi Wai yet her talent rose above that of just depending on family connections. It was just that she had chosen to help her father. She lived up to being a smart heroine. Not having that title just for the sake of some background info and then ending up losing ground like some other female leads in other dramas. She knew to stay away from certain shady parties and also knew when to apologize if she had misunderstood someone. Her only weakness–which no one could fault her for was her constant sleep episodes. I have to say that Sheren wasn’t on the top of my ‘favorite’ list among all the ’80s actors/actresses–although I had watched the majority of her dramas of back then. This one changed my mind regarding her completely. Her character in here wasn’t just on one spectrum of the scale or the other. The mixture of personalities her character possessed in here made her much more interesting and her acting lively–and real. Even if this drama wasn’t much according to some people who rather watch the so-called ‘high-quality one’ with ‘star-dubbed’ cast, BUT this one allowed me to love Sheren.
  • Marco Ngai as Lee Ching Wan (李青云). Hung Chau Sang’s roommate. He was a down to earth guy and somewhat silly at times but good in general. He was funny in his own way and seemed a bit dumb at times yet he was indeed quite sincere. He wasn’t a doormat type of character either. It was a bit hard to figure out his character at times–not because of Marco’s acting or the script either. But it was because I realized they did not make his character one dimensional (like they often did with honest characters for other dramas).
  • Wong Siu Yen as Hung Wing Yi (洪咏仪). Hung Chau Sang’s younger sister. A nurse at the local hospital. She had her moments at times yet was a nice person in general. At times she seemed like a girly girl but she wasn’t like that either. Sure, she wanted to dress nicely and impress her supposedly doctor boyfriend (whom all the nurses found out were cheating on them). Yet she wasn’t a doormat either. Like I said, she had her moments but she was just protecting herself. She wasn’t a bully either though, even if she seemed impatient with Sing Ci that one time. (He was just too fussy.)
  • Bryan Leung as Kam Chi Wai (金志威). Another silly role for him. I didn’t mind that he was acting weird and strange at times and even got into senseless arguments with his partner (of the company). However, what I minded was when he cheated on his wife with that one woman. It didn’t matter if she seduced him or whatever, he reacted. That was all on him. I thought that ruined that bit of the story in general and how he got away too easily–and was forgiven too easily.
  • Lau Siu Ming as Mou Tin Dok (毛天铎). A wealthy man yet cheap in many ways. What was puzzling was how he had two wives. Seriously? Two wives equal more spending and much more. Or was he following the whole thing with marrying to have a son for the bloodline? If so, that would explain it. (Since Sing Ci was born after Hak Kan.) A funny role for Ming Sir in general and he delivered nicely. Even if I didn’t care for his indecisive character and how it became that way. It wasn’t like I could change it, lol.

Others:

  • Wayne Lai as Mou Hak Kan (毛克勤). Mou Tin Dok and Bak Lan Fa’s son. A beyond silly role for Wayne. It was still the back then days and I realized this could be a bigger role for him during that time. Yet he didn’t fail to impress at all. There were many sides of him that were hateful, like being a player and all. But it was Wayne’s portrayal that made it less hateful or annoying in many ways.
  • Bessie Chan as Kam Man Yuk (金曼玉). Kam Chi Wai’s daughter, Kam Yik Lian’s younger sister, Mou Hak Kan’s wife. Annoying in many ways yet I guessed she found her match made in heaven all right. She was fake and annoying and quite spoiled too. Of course, all that had to do with her father for spoiling her rotten. Or was that just her? Since Yik Lian also grew up in the same household yet wasn’t so. Initially, Hung Chau Sang liked her and dubbed her as his goddess. However, after discovering her true personality, he realized that she liked to put on a ‘face’ for others to see. The actress was convincing though.
  • Johnny Tang as Mou Sing Ci (毛星驰). Mou Tin Dok and Chong Hui Zung’s son. Often was sick and was restricted, but it wasn’t unreasonable since he indeed had too many incidents in the past. Yet after meeting Ching Wan, he learned a lot of things and was able to build a stronger body so he wasn’t so sick anymore. What was admirable about him was how his mother and step-mother were fighting yet he wasn’t taking side nor acting cruelly to his brother. Perhaps being sick most of his life took the toll on his health already but unlike some others who took the sickness to get what they wanted, he only wanted peace. He later became a cop and worked happily alongside his girlfriend.
  • Cho Tat Wah as Hung Yun Fat (洪润发). Hung Chau Sang and Hung Wing Yi’s father. He appeared quite greedy at times or at least his talk seemed to imply he prefer richness over all things. However, it was mostly because he had a lot to prove with one of his buddies who was always challenging him and bragging or showing off. It was clarified later that he valued honesty and virtue the most and it was all talks about ‘money’ most of the time. It was mentioned after he found out about Ching Wan and Wing Yi dating.
  • Fung So Bor as Chong Hui Zung (庄慧中). Mou Tin Dok’s first wife, Mou Sing Ci’s mother. Fussy and snarky yet it was because she had to prove herself.
  • Bak Yan as Bak Lan Fa (白兰花). Mou Tin Dok’s second wife, Mou Hak Kan’s mother. Appeared to be scheming and calculating at times yet it had to do a lot with wanting to prove herself against Hui Zung.
  • Lee Gui Ying as Rosanna. One of Hung Chau Sang’s co-workers. She was snappy at times, but it had to do a lot with how the others were teasing her with having no boyfriend. She had an attitude, but what was nice was how she didn’t care to suck up to the bosses or anyone having connections. She just did her work and that was that. Sure, she had her funny moments of sending flowers to herself (and got caught) yet it only added to the comedy.
  • Gordon Lam as Bak Kei Lung (白奇隆). Bak Lan Fa’s younger brother, Mou Hak Kan’s uncle. He was probably the slimeball of this series. The old days when Gordon was still acting in not so likable roles. He was indeed despicable and cunning all right. Yet he sure got the ending which the audience could laugh about.
  • Angelina Lo as Cheung Fung Giu (张凤娇). Kam Chi Wai’s wife, Kam Yik Lian and Kam Man Yuk’s mother. Never seen such a silly role from Angelina before. But it was indeed refreshing. However, I felt she let her husband off too easily with the cheating thing.
  • Kenneth Chan as a lawyer. I totally forgot his name in here since I watched this a while back. But he was one of Sheren’s ex-boyfriends. At first, it seemed like he didn’t care for money, only justice, etc. Yet he couldn’t pass the temptation test either. This was in the old days so Kenneth was still very young (of course, duh, I know) and also not getting anywhere yet. But he showed great potential already.

What I found extremely funny and soon made the connection was how the majority of the characters in here were named after famous stars.

  • Anthony Wong
  • Sandy Lam
  • Sean Lau
  • Anita Yuen
  • Hacken Lee
  • Maggie Cheung Man Yuk
  • Stephen Chow
  • Chow Yun Fat
  • Nicky Wu

Friendships / Romances / Others:

  • Liu Wai Hung/Hung Chau Sang and Marco Ngai/Lee Ching Wan as friends. Although there was a lot of stuff going on around them and they didn’t talk much except the randomness at times after work or bumping into each other elsewhere, I thought their friendship was interesting. It wasn’t trying too hard to be a supportive friend or making it like some epic relationship. Their friendship was normal and natural, something others could relate to with going from day to day and giving each other advice and joke around. It was funny how Ching Wan told Chau Sang that he was going to work for the same rich boss as Chau Sang and Chau Sang warned Ching Wan against the cheapskate boss. Indeed, Chau Sang was right. Ching Wan was in for a roller-coaster ride.
  • Liu Wai Hung/Hung Chau Sang and Sheren Tang/Kam Yik Lian as a couple. If people had told me, I wouldn’t believe these two belong in the same universe. Okay, that was mean. But seriously, when people talk about Sheren, they link her with other leads who were more on the ‘dashing’ side. Yet I thought she and Liu Wai Hung made a really cute couple in here. The fact that both of their characters were likable in here made the chemistry more addicting to watch and it was easy to relate to. They had a rough start but later become friends and fell in love. They had to overcome the hurdle of coming from different backgrounds and statuses. Yet they kept it real most of the time. Of course, they were worried, like how she thought he might just disappear like her past boyfriends too, but that was understandable–with her luck and all (aka her father jumping in and sabotaging them–which he did try). Then there was how he could possibly be lured into taking the money and leaving her. Hey, no one could blame him if he just chose to run–with the money or not since her father was crazy. Yet he overcame that too. Like said in his character description, he didn’t give up so easily or let his ego get in the way. He tried harder and learned various things to prove to others he could merge in. It wasn’t just to impress her or her father, but it showed he was capable of getting there. He wasn’t the type to sit around and mope or get too dreamy. He was quite in touch with reality. So yes, loved them in here. Their mischievousness was really funny too. That one time when they tried to go around and sabotage others. Or that other time when they tried to make this one couple feel so awkward that that couple had to leave (so they could claim their table back).
  • Marco Ngai/Lee Ching Wan and Wong Siu Yen/Hung Wing Yi as a couple. Loved them. They were the funny couple in here. He could be so clueless at times or seemed kind of silly. But it was funny how he got so jealous and tried to sabotage her dates. OR possibly just getting overly paranoid. One of the funniest scenes was where she was talking on the phone and he was over in the corner taking care of the plant for her father but he almost chopped off the whole thing (or at another time shown almost drowning the plant). It was a riot. Then there was the part where they thought Sing Ci was dying so they decided to let him enjoy life a bit hence her posing as Sing Ci’s girlfriend. He had to go and monitor them and it was a riot how he got so jealous yet still allowed the whole thing. (Well, if it wasn’t too much.)
  • Bryan Leung/Kam Chi Wai and Liu Siu Ming/Mou Tin Dok as frenemies. Crazy! I didn’t even understand why they share the company when they were always bickering like that, getting at one another’s throats. Yet it was revealed they used to be best friends yet fought over some lady thus souring their friendship. Ironically, they both ran away from her when they learned she’d grew old and fat. Seriously? They were both getting old and hair turning gray or going bald too. But that was, of course, for dramatic purpose and a comical moment. It was indeed hilarious though. Silly.
  • Wayne Lai/Mou Hak Kan and Bessie Chan/Kam Man Yuk as a couple. Didn’t like them and didn’t care for them at first, especially since their personalities were too whatever. Yet I sort of found them funny later, especially how he still dared to go out and find other girls–when she was like a tiger. I guess he had a death wish or something.

Recommended? I felt it was hilarious and short. One of the rare nonsensical comedies that I actually enjoyed because of the cast’s wonderful acting.

Where The Legend Begins

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.