The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber 2018: Review

I realized I never reviewed this, lol. It was like I updated once and never went back. The thing was, I wrote some notes down while watching and after watching yet just never returned to finish it up and post the review. So, here it is now, lol. I had to change some comments after having cooled down a bit. But the majority remained about the same. So, how was it? It was disappointing, to say the least. It started out quite promising actually. I loved every part leading up to where all the major characters finally appeared. Then it just went downhill from there. Okay, I know, I know. This is the umpteenth adaptation already, so they had to put some kind of twist into it to attract viewers. I get that. I read somewhere once (and had forgotten where actually so can’t name the source) that each adaptation represented that generation (aka what they could relate to, etc). That actually made a lot of sense because of how the stories and perspectives got changed and somewhat modernized over the years. Sometimes, it leaned more toward one side or another because of how the production team wanted to approach the story. So, yes, I learned to analyze it from different perspectives instead of just blindly following the original source like previously. But what dragged this version down to the point of frustration was that it seemed like the scriptwriters gave up and eventually just wanted to end the series. I’ll get into more details later. But the general low-energy feeling also made me want to give up on it as well. Except, I sort of wanted to see how it all turned out so I stuck around. In some ways, it was more realistic, but in other ways, it just made you want to scream because of the amount of frustration going on during the last fifteen or so episodes. Enough gloom and doom from me, right? LOL! Let’s get right into it.

Main Cast:

  • Joseph Zeng (曾舜晞) as Zhang Wu Ji (張無忌). Surprisingly passed all expectations. Not saying that I didn’t have faith in him. Yet I started watching him first in Fighter of Destiny and his role was extremely lively and bordering on obnoxiousness (initially until things got intense later on). So, I didn’t know what to expect–or if he could portray such a calm and toned down character. It wasn’t like Wu Ji didn’t have his mischievous moments, but there was an obvious constrast to that of Tang San Shi Liu. Anyway, as Wu Ji, Joseph brought out the character quite well and made it his own in this adaptation. I saw some criticism regarding how Wu Ji was crying too much or seemed weak. I didn’t think so. Because comparing all Jin Yong protagonist, Wu Ji was probably the kindest of them all, except for possibly Xu Zhu (because of his monk background). So it made sense that he was extra sensitive and all. I felt Joseph did really well in those scenes, bringing out all sorts of emotions that he went through or it highlighted the relations that he had with those characters.
  • Yukee Chen (陈钰琪) will be Zhao Min (趙敏). I was scared to death that I wouldn’t like her when she finally appeared. Serious. Because it just seemed too good to be true with me liking the casting for the majority of the characters thus far. She was the female lead yet was the last to appear–as it should be like how the story was told in the novel. Yet when she appeared, the scene just lit up tenfold more–if that was possible. She handled the character brilliantly and made it her own. I was amazed. She was gorgeous, almost fairylike yet also projected off this suspicious, cunning vibe as well. It was fascinating to watch what Yukee could do with the character. Her best scene was probably at the seaside when she told Wu Ji that one day she was more capable of cruel acts than him, which ironically caused her more trouble later.
  • Bambi Chu (祝绪丹) is Zhou Zhi Ruo (周芷若). I actually really liked her at first, which was really rare for someone portraying ZZR. I meant I know differences between actors and their roles. I know that, but I felt she was so suitable and her story made me actually like ZZR at first. I even liked her more than Sheren Tang’s version because she exuded the innocent and kind image better and how I was impressed with the way they made her skills improve bit by bit, showing us how she could become someone with such potential. What got me really upset was how she got away with everything. Sure, they exaggerated the bit about her wanting to be queen someday. BUT given all the crap she pulled, she sure got away with it so easily. I was siding with her regarding Song Qing Xu’s situation because he was an asshole to her when he was little YET only stalked her and demanded she was his because she grew up all beautiful? So I welcomed it when she used him since he totally deserved with all the suffering he caused her. But the turnaround was a joke regarding both characters anyway. It was a shame.
  • Kabby Hui (許雅婷) as Xiao Zhao (小昭). I also quite liked her. It was interesting to see that she could be kind and gentle yet also possessed this strength within her also. She was probably the one who understood Wu Ji the most (if this made Zhao Min fans sad, I’m sorry but that seemed consistent with some past adaptations too). She wanted to be by Wu Ji’s side and conceal herself, not caring if she was invisible. Yet she knew who he cared about the most hence having that talk with Zhao Min later. Although I knew others had the right to be upset with her, especially Wu Ji, for her deception at first, I couldn’t help but feel really sorry for her. It was mostly because she was always pushed forth by her mother to do all those schemes, not having a life of her own. She had to be the replacement for her mom in the end, needing to use herself to mend the gap and live a life where she couldn’t control either. People might think that she probably ascend to a role of power later, but seriously, it was all those people pulling the strings later on.
  • Cao Xi Yue (曹曦月) is Yin Li (殷離) aka Zhu Er (蛛兒). I really liked her in this version too. I felt that it was a shame they didn’t make her expose ZZR like other versions. She didn’t remember at first and then she banged her head on the pole and remembered. Yet, of course, it was too late with lots of stuff, so she chose to remain silent and be happy like how she was expected. It was indeed sad. Zhao Min knew later because she (Zhu Er) accidentally let it slip, but it was still so sad. The relationship between her and her father was mended again, because how she pretended to not remember YET I didn’t think the asshole deserved it. But I guess it was her choice. 

Supporting:

  • Lin Yu Shen (林雨申) as Yang Xiao (楊逍). I didn’t really feel his Yang Xiao vibe at first. But I wasn’t really against him either if looking at a different character. Because he was indeed enjoyable and exuded his power when needed. He was quite charming too. So I was more accepting of him later in regard to that. I guess what I was trying to say was he gave off the wanderer, vigliante vibe more than the leader of some cult. Yet I got used to him later and quite enjoyed his performance.
  • Zong Feng Yan (宗峰岩) as Fan Yao (范遙). I thought it was interesting that Fan Yao developed a real master and disciple relationship with Zhao Min in here. Especially the conflicting feelings he went through and ended up rescuing her from the execution site. However, it showed that he was using her to forgo his agenda in the end. It was indeed disappointing but not too out of character for Ming Cult. He was given more scenes near the end (versus how it was often seen that Yang Xiao appeared more in past versions) because they needed some change? I wasn’t totally against it but the asshole made me even more mad when he appeared more than when not. So yeah. Aside from that, I thought the actor did quite well with his portrayal.
  • Sun An Ke (孙安可) as Yang Bu Hui (楊不悔). And I just realized and discussed with various family members that Bu Hui would always be likable regardless of version. It was indeed true in here as well. She was so kind and lovable. Yes, she could be so stubborn and stuff too, but it was much-needed and it was who she was. But I loved her so much. She was one of the shining spots of the show. The more shame that she ended up with such an asshole. YES, they made the 6th dude even more annoying in here. He didn’t deserve her at all. So I welcomed Yang Xiao giving him a hard time at times, lol. 
  • Wang De Shun (王德顺) as Zhang San Feng (張三丰). Considering how fierce he looked in the production stills, I would expect him to uphold the sect’s rule much more. Yet it failed. The forgiveness route just didn’t jibe well with the situation. Especially it was a slap in the face and a joke to the 7th guy–who died so senselessly.
  • Kathy Chow as Abbess Mie Jue (滅絕師太). Zhu Zhi Ruo’s master. She was sure ten shades of disappointment for the role. Yes, I said it. I was actually looking forward to watching her because of old sentiments, lol. Even if she wasn’t my favorite back in the days either. The reason? The plot killed it. It wasn’t really her fault and I got it that the production team wanted to approach it a different way. Sure, Kathy’s acting wasn’t lacking. Yet the script made it really pitiful that she wasn’t as powerful as she seemed to let on. I don’t know if Jin Yong changed the third version, but I doubt it. But the first version had it that she was the one who went over to the Mongolian territority and snatched the Heavenly sword back thus earning her reptutation and ascending to power. Yet this version made it that Yang Xiao was the one doing that in order to fulfill Xiao Fu’s wish, lol. That made it a good detail for those into their romance, lol. YET it was really, really pathetic on Abbess Mie Jue’s part. The other despicable deeds she did to justify her “righteousness” and that she was from the “good side”? Yeah, that was already a given from the novel, so no surprise.
  • Louis Fan (樊少皇) as Cheng Kun (成昆) aka Yuan Zhen (圓真). Um, okay, I just wanted to laugh each time he appeared. I meant I think those days of Louis portraying serious roles are so over. I don’t know, he just looked to goofy nowadays. The details of the plot did make him dispicable. Yet that was just part of plot detail that needed to be there. That was all.
  • Zhao Chao Ren (张超人) as Song Qing Shu (宋青書). Song Yuan Qiao (宋遠橋)’s son. He got such a noble ending? OMG, anyone wanted to scream? I’m not against people redeeming themselves but I felt they were always lenient with him in here just because he was Song Yuan Qiao’s son. I was glad the scene were Wu Ji was framed was short and all. However, it was stupid to let him off so easily. It was strange that they got the manipulative bit of the other sects and cult down, but refused to commit with calling Song Qing Shu out on his misdeeds and wrongdoings. It was like they refused to condemn him for his attempted rape on ZZR, his disrespectfulness toward Zhang San Feng and the sect in general, and much, much more. It was so frustrating that you wondered if the writers were on something. It was like the 7th guy died for nothing. Anyone wanted to think about him anymore? Guess not.

Others:

  • Ethan Li (李东学) as Zhang Cui San (張翠山). I didn’t know what to make of him at first, was just going through the motion of watching the initial scenes that I’d witnessed many times before during past adaptations. But I actually enjoyed some of his performances and later grew to like him more as the character. He really lived up to the role. I really like somewhat of his mischiviousness as well. It was subtle at times but it was there.
  • Maggie Chen (陈欣予) as Yin Su Su (殷素素). I really liked her in this role. It was really surprising–yes, another surprise one. I thought she brought out the character quite well, making you think more about the character’s essence and who Yin Su Su was. She exuded the confident side very well at first and how ruthless she could be with her enemies as well. That was who she because of her father and her initial background. The things she grew up believing–or was taught. Then there was the scenes of later how she realized she didn’t want all of that, but just a normal famliy. She wasn’t naive to not understand the situation. But it indeed felt like a blessing that they were trapped at that one island. Because seriously, it was the only time they were able to live peacefully and away from all those dramas.
  • He Zi (黑子) as Xie Xun (謝遜) aka The Golden Haired Lion King (金毛獅王). Regardless how much I hated his hypocritical ass later too, the actor did quite well in his role. His fierceness was at the right touches. Then the gentle side when he was with Little Wu Ji at first was hilarious.
  • Yang Ming Na (杨明娜) as Dai Qi Si (黛綺絲) aka Purple Dress Dragon King (紫衫龍王) aka Golden Flower Granny (金花婆婆). She sure fitted the role quite well with the appearance the production laid out for her. Then her acting did the rest. I quite like Yu Ming Na, so I enjoyed her brief performance, even if I thought she was as psycho too, lol. Hey, she was from Ming sect after all. Couldn’t be too normal.
  • Ewen Sun (孙亦凡) as Wang Bao Bao (王保保). Zhao Min’s brother.

Relationships – romances, friendships, etc.

  • Joseph Zeng and Yukee Chen as Wu Ji and Zhao Min. I swear I loved their characters individually but together, they weren’t that compatible. Yes, their acting had me convince later that they indeed belonged together but if just looking at them at times, I wasn’t as convinced as some past pairings of Wu Ji and Zhao Min. 
  • Ethan Li and Maggie Chen as Zhang Cui San and Yin Su Su. They surprisingly shared great chemistry with one another. At least, I thought so. During their brief appearances at the beginning, they made a greater impact than the last third part of the series, which was sad–to say the least, lol. But I usually found myself enjoying Wu Ji’s parents’ story more–regardless of version. So, yes, it didn’t change for this one. Even if I liked some of the later parts too, but I felt their scenes together were the best part of the series itself. It led on a bittersweet feeling. Too bad, they had to return to reality and dealt with all of those stuff and then the inevitable happened. I could say that they were my second favorite pairing of Cui San and Su Su. Yes, over the years, only one couple made an impression on me regarding these two characters’ portrayals. Now, these two became my second favorite.
  • The friendship and trust developed between Zhao Min and several of the characters in here. What was interesting was seeing the friendship and trust that suddenly sparked between Zhao Min and Xiao Zhao. I didn’t expect some mushy talk between them before Xiao Zhao left for good. Yet it was an interesting and refreshing scene for me. Interesting how both Zhu Er and Xiao Zhao had this bond with Zhao Min that ZZR couldn’t. It was a riot for me in some ways and compensated for how terrible Zhao Min was treated somewhat. But yeah. 

Likes:

  • The majority of the main cast. I thought they matched really well with their characters.
  • Costumes. I was surprised they didn’t go for super weird combinatios and these actually looked like ancient wuxia type of costumes. It seemed like they did put in a lot of efforts with different sects and all. It wasn’t hard, but some of the past recent ones got me scratching my head for a bit. The only flaw I have to once again point out was regarding Wu Dang’s seven desciples. Thy weren’t Taoists exactly, but Zhang San Feng’s special desciples. Unlike the rest of the other Taoists, they were allowed to marry. SO, I didn’t like it that they kept repeating the same mistake for this version with dressing them in Taoist clothes.
  • Scenery. When all things failed, at least the beautiful sceneries made it worthwhile, right?
  • Xiao Wu Ji and Xie Xun were so cute. Xie Xun even forgot about his saber and went to play with Wu Ji, not caring about anything anymore. It made sense of how heart-broken Wu Ji was upon learning how blood thirsty his godfather was later on during that scene by the seaside when Xie Xun killed everyone of the Mongoalins who came to pick them up. Sure, he learned from different stories but thought the man had already redeemed himself after hearing that Xie Xun realized his mistakes of killing an innocent monk (who had been conned too to be in such a place). 
  • The humor at times between various Ming Cult members. Yang Xiao, Yi Yi Xiao and Zhou Dian were seen snapping at each other at times that it was funny. YET I couldn’t forgive of them for their asshole moves either. Too bad.

Dislikes:

  • Themesong. NOT saying I have a problem with Wakin Chou or the song. The song was a good one and suited the theme. Yet it was recycled and was a bit lazy, to say the least. The ending theme song was good though.
  • The ending, definitely the ending. NOT talking about the final scene where Wu Jji and Zhao Min reunited after so much went on. I was talking about the events leading up to it and all the wrap-ups. It was a mess and the writers definitely went all out on the killing, which made it tenfold more ridiculous than it should be. What was that word I was looking for? Overkilled. Yeah, that. It was so overkilled that I just rolled my eyes a lot while watching those parts. It wasn’t impossible because they were at war after all. But it never seemed like they wanted to stop. They just went and killed all the major characters like that. Also, I was told that there would be a heated confrontation between Wu Ji and Zhi Ruo regarding what happened to Zhu Er and how ZZR pulled all those schemes to frame Zhao Min. But I was so disappointed because it was brief and wasn’t like anyone else knew. Once again, ZZR got away with it. Even when such a misunderstanding occurred, Zhao Min got no justice. Xie Xun was an asshole for not clarifying stuff to the others either, not caring that the rest of Ming Cult hated Zhao Min even more. Thus making his becoming a monk a joke. He was still holding grudges or biases toward others. Zhao Min was right when she said Xie Xun was being really unfair to her. YES, even when he became a monk, he also wanted to force Zhao Min away. Even if it was the other Ming Cult members wanting him to do it and/or persuade him, it didn’t matter. He made his own decision in the end. Instead, he chose to be nice and gentle with ZZR and sacrificed himself for her. Yes, he was right that they were both similar in their blind hate BUT it was a joke to see him so invested in her. What made it a bigger joke was him liking ZZR so much because she was such a kiss-up to him previously. I swear, he hated those who were sweet talkers and ass kissers previously, BUT he was partial to her because she once treated him nice? Please. It made him another hypocrite among the seas of hypocrites. That brought me to my next point. This version sided with Zhou Zhi Ruo major time. It wasn’t like it was a bad thing to have another approach. But I felt like the stuff they let ZZR get away with made it frustrating to another level. Sure, she did a lot of awful stuff and was scheming YET she was from Zhong Yuan so they let her get away with stuff? This version was also very unfair to Zhao Min that made past versions so tamed down. In a way, it was more realistic, but I felt Ming Cult was really being hypocritical for treating Zhao Min like that. Yeah, they were bitter BUT so was all of ZZR’s actions toward them or Emei’s actions in general. Yet once again because Zhao Min was Mongolian and ZZR was still from their side, supposedly, so they let her off. The Ming Cult probably was more realistic in here that they showed their ruthless and scheming nature more. They used and disposed of people, especially Wu Ji in the end that made it all so frustrating that Wu Ji was that kind to them. Zhao Min was indeed right that they were just using Wu Ji’s reputation and the ability to gain trust toward the different sects already so they just let him be a puppet leader while they manipulated everything in the background. I think there were many things to consider and felt like it was more realistic in a sense rather seeing them all get along, BUT I felt they (the scriptwriters) sort of missed the mark about making everyone equally scheming one way or another. Because Jin Yong’s jianghu often implied that the supposed good side wasn’t all that good, just a front. YET in here, almost everyone had their own agenda. The first version of the novel, it was indeed revealed that Wu Ji left in the end because he overheard the Ming Cult members talking about getting rid of someone after using that person for some scheme. It was a misunderstanding, they were talking about someone in the cell next to Wu Ji, which Wu Ji was unable to see. That was why Wu Ji left. NOT sure if it was revise in the third version regarding that detail. But I felt it was too cruel to see how they  went all out with isolating Wu Ji and treating him like a puppet later on. Sure, it was more realistic, but I think it was overkilled with piling it on like that.

Recommended? I think you could watch it if you want, for the cast. It’s a different perspective for the current generation. If you like the cast, definitely check it out. It’s worth it for them. After all my ranting, you would think I don’t recommend it. But in actuality, if you don’t associate it with the original source and treat it like a standalone wuxia series, it was one of the decent ones in recent years.

Line Walker: Bull Fight

This followed the story of Line Walker and Line Walker: The Prelude. This season tied up the last two installments by having characters from both merged and worked together for different cases. The elaborate planning to tell the backstory of some characters with another was kind of nice to see. Although, it also created some complications and repetition–as I will be going into more details below. I appreciated the efforts of joining the teams together and see how they worked with one another. However, some parts were so unnecessary that it should have been like 30 episodes instead of 37. They were stretching it out on purpose with some people that I didn’t think was necessary in any shape or form.

Main Cast:

  • Michael Miu as Cheuk Hoi (卓凱). His principles weren’t so cut and dry anymore. It wasn’t about how he had interacted with Chum Foon Hei either. Or how he cut the corners when he tried to save his wife. His conversation with Ah Mui when she offered to stay and help him said it all. It highlighted some of the key points that they had visited in the past two seasons. It wasn’t just plain black and white with everything. There was a gray area that was often brushed aside because many didn’t care to think of it. Like Cheuk Sir said, there was also white in black as well. Everything wasn’t so clear. After all that was said and done, Cheuk Sir had emphasized that Ah Mui didn’t have to help him. They joked about it a little, but he was serious that they weren’t going to get some type of compensation, except this was a way for him to help society in general. If someone wanted to redeem themselves in any way, he was willing to take the chance. He wasn’t going to be held back by the old ways of thinking anymore. He wasn’t going to lose a chance to convert someone to conduct in a more legal manner with businesses by clinging on to the old ways. In short, prison had changed him. He saw many things there was to see while he was in there and realized how if people were presented with more choices or proper guidance, they wouldn’t choose that path either. In a way, he wanted to be a good role model or be the person that was there to pull someone back from the pit. At this point, do I need to go out of my way to praise Michael’s acting anymore?
  • Raymond Lam as Suet Ka Keung (雪家強) aka Bao Seed (爆Seed). Strange to see Ray with such a hairstyle. But I guess it made sense that he changed over the years and had become a handler even. They gave him a more mature image in a sense. Yet he didn’t lack his sense of humor when called for. I feel like his comeback brought the balance back where the leads were concerned. I meant Michael’s performance had proven solid already, no complaints about that. But Ray’s return also cranked the drama up several more notches. It was obvious they needed him like how it wouldn’t be the same without Michael, Charmaine, or Benz either. They were the golden four for the series and missing one or two wouldn’t be the same. Substituting others in and building an interesting story did help. But missing them as characters made the series felt it was lacking something. Yet I seriously don’t want to be greedy, so I would settle for three this time. Having Ray back felt like the series was lifted up even more. The character still had lots more to develop. His grace, his charm, his natural moves. It was what the series needed. A boost. Oh, what was clever was having him continue to pose as a gangster and only came into contact with them from time to time as an informant. Only some knew about him being a UC. So that kept him safe for the most part. But how did they explain the information leak from the other part? Or was it by saying the leak was fake? Or that it didn’t get to release his name yet? Because he was protecting Ah Ding at that time, so I guessed her name was the one being exposed, not his. It was explained in episode 20 when they met up with Tai Reis to discuss business together. Tai Reis mentioned Bao Seed once dated a cop, etc. Bao Seed said that they broke up because he found out she was UC that tried to investigate him. So, it answered that she was the one getting exposed with the list being released, not him. His reaction to knowing Ding Jie was dead showed Ray’s acting skills. It was indeed a very emotional moment. Who could blame Bao Seed for reacting? Luckily, Cheuk Sir pulled him back. His mourning for her after in private? Another heartbreaking scene. He didn’t want to believe. Who could, right? His complete breakdown in front of Cheuk Sir brought all their links back into consideration all over again. The flashbacks contributed nicely to their past relationship. It wasn’t overdone. It reminded us a little about their stories yet said so much more. Cheuk Sir was probably the other person who understood. So that scene was well done for both of them. Vouching to avenge Ding Jie’s death? Hello, Dark Bao Seed is back. Well, he was always known to be a rogue character regardless. But his dark side was back. He had tried to stick to the codes since Cheuk Sir made the sacrifice for him. But now? It was fair game. Having him back was a much-needed move like said before, but it made me so addicted to seeing what was to come.
  • Benz Hui as Chum Foon Hei (潭關喜). He was one of the golden four who made the series so much livelier and more enjoyable overall. Benz once again delivered brilliantly with his character’s cunning nature at first but later had become one of their companions in the very end. He’d become even wiser over the years. Well, he’d been through a lot and his intelligence was shown many times already. No one needed to prove that. But his deep talk at times with various characters in here showed that he’d seen a lot and had come to realize what was more important. I was so scared they took him out of the game. If they did, there was no way the fourth installment was going to happen without taking a major hit. His plans at the end with building more schools for kids and doing more good deeds got Cheuk Sir joking about him trying to make money out of it somehow was funny.
  • Priscilla Wong as Cheng Shuk Mui (鄭淑梅). Funny that she seemed much more interesting now that the timeline moved forward, lol. That was sad, but I could see her transition from a newbie cop to a much more experienced one in general. Even if she wasn’t a cop anymore but was an investigative journalist now, she seemed more confident of herself and what she did. It showed she was at a good place in life. Also, possibly because of the time between the prequel and this, Priscilla seemed more comfortable with her acting as well. It showed. I was glad. It was visible with how she interacted with Michael versus in the past. She’d always been comfortable interacting with Benjamin so I never doubted her scenes with him. But I always wondered whenever she interacted with Michael (like I had said in the previous review). So yeah, this sort of proved my point that she seemed uncomfortable with him, not just initial scenes like how she panicked at first either. It was awkward in the past. It seemed more natural for this part. Not to mention her emotional scenes were more convincing as well. The scene where she and Tin Tong finally talked about their feelings showed the depth of her acting. She sure improved. However, her character got dragged down when they revisited trying to develop a good romance story for her. I didn’t need that. I was fine with her not being with Tin Tong. She was so strong and awesome away from Tin Tong. I liked their friendship too. But I just didn’t like how the scriptwriters tried to pull them together just based on history. So, that had dragged her story down in general for me.
  • Benjamin Yuen as Tsui Tin Tong (徐天堂). I don’t know what to say about him anymore. Mixed feelings for him throughout. I think it was because he got overshadowed by both Ray and Kenneth. Yes, I believed that was indeed true because I think he was fending fine in the prequel. Then his interest factor went down several notches. The story around him and his past and how the Internal Affairs Bureau dragged him through hell were interesting. However, it also got somewhat sidetracked and distracted by other elements in the story. Like how I wished he was with Ah Luen even in the present timeline than Ah Mui. So that was a terrible idea that the scriptwriters didn’t think through. I also was more interested in Ah Mui being Wing-Cheong than him. So yeah, it turned into a mess. After his past was explained and sorted out? His side story just went into flames. Because it lacked energy after that, even till the end. So yeah.
  • Kenneth Ma as Wai Chok Wing (韋作榮) / Ngai Tak Lai (魏德禮) / Klein. The thing that made it really anti-dramatic about his character was that we knew he was the younger brother of Victor from the start. So that took away all the suspense. We already know the who. It was only the how now. I think my brain’s too wired into the “who” part that I became less interested in his character than expected. I mean we already knocked out the who and the why during his brief appearance in the second installment. So whatever he did, it was for Victor and his family–as he claimed. Kenneth’s acting was solid though, no doubt. But I was never that interested in Victor anyway, so having another family member in the picture didn’t interest me with that branch of the storyline as much. Also, bad hair runs in the family or something, because his hair in here reminded me somewhat of Moses’ hair in the other one. Seriously, lol. Circling back to Kenneth’s acting for a bit, I think his portrayal was the sole reason why the character became much more interesting later on. The previous comments I made were like for the first few episodes. However, his portrayal somehow cranked the character up a little more. So I think I was more curious about what his character would do later. And technically, he was just a killing machine to his grandpa. The old man had no use for him aside from that. It was pathetic to say that no one wanted him except his grandpa. Or like no one mattered except his grandpa and his older brother. That was his own skewed version of how his grandpa told him. Who knew if that was the truth about his mother as well. He was just used like his brother to carry on the Ngai empire’s legacy. His grandpa was getting old and feeble, he needed mini replacements hence grooming the next generation to take over for him. In that sense, I do pity both siblings for it. But both still sucked in my book regarding killing people to advance their agendas. They had a chance to travel the world yet their views couldn’t be changed? Yeah, constant brainwashing and grooming did that to them. But it was pathetic to see their demise without trying to change their own fate. Well, in some ways, Klein did try really hard to do it, but he was too far gone to even try to undo it the normal way. Instead, he resorted back to violence whenever he was threatened. If he didn’t want to let go, there was nothing anyone could do to convince him.
  • Mandy Wong as Cheung Kei Gee (章紀孜) aka Madam G. It was a different role for Mandy, considering how the mental disabilities she had and her childhood traumas. I found that Mandy had done a good job. However, I couldn’t get into her character regardless. It was hard. I didn’t want to pick on her so much since I did like some of her past performances. It wasn’t because she took the bullet for Klein either. But some of the things she did earlier in the drama made it very hard to cut her some slacks just because it was portrayed by Mandy. I got it why she ended up being bias or crashed emotionally because of what she found out regarding her sister. But I felt she didn’t cut other slacks when it was their weak spot, so I didn’t do it for her either. Fair game, right? What I was surprised about was the writers almost killed her. Or I thought it was an all-out killing with the ending closing up and the writers just wanted to give up with the killing spree. It had a major vibe with the ending of the second installment where Victor was going all out. However, she survived and was in a wheelchair, which they didn’t explain too much if it was permanent or not. Saying that she needed to make the best of what she had wasn’t much. It could mean that she had to move on after all that happened. To back up a little bit, I didn’t like how she put Ah Dau on the spot for the mission earlier in the story. She was a terrible handler. It reminded me of the handler who Chum Foon Hei had that eventually forced him to choose to go rogue instead of hanging on for the sake of the mission. Sure, it was Ah Dau who agreed to go back and continue her mission, but Bao Seed made the right call by pulling Ah Dau out of there and waiting until she cooled down. Because Bao Seed was better at reading the situation, he used a better method to help. I once again remember how Ah Dau had asked Bao Seed if Bao Seed wanted her to sleep with Pong too if it came to that for the mission, and Bao Seed obviously didn’t want that. Sure, when Madam G watched the first time they reunited and Ah Dau finally accepted Pong, they were only kissing. But how far was Madam G willing to go for some piece of information? This was why I didn’t like it that she was part of the CIB team. She was an effective boss to the others for enforcing the rules because she was good at sticking to the books. But she was a terrible choice for reading more sensitive situations. Also, the writers were getting really lazy with some of the female characters or something. Because Madam G totally was channeling her inner Madam Chan when she pulled the “trump” card on Cheuk Sir to help CIB. Yes, Ah Mui did break the law by using Madam G’s identity to get inside and seek some info, BUT knowing how to hold back and use that card until later was seriously something Madam Chan did. So yes, I was saying how lazy it was they made those two similar and hateful in that sense. I seriously thought it was Madam Chan pulling that move to force Cheuk Sir into helping. Madam G worked under Madam Chan and it wouldn’t be a surprise if she ordered her to do that. But Madam G didn’t deny it was her own plan, so I took her word for it. The saddest thing about her character was how she became the weakest link in here. I think the writers overestimated themselves and gave her too much mystery with her mental disabilities and how she would overcome it etc. In the end, she broke down and was taken out of the game until almost the end. It was a nice turnaround and Cheuk Sir was right to say that she was their last hope. Yet it seemed weak. Well, she did choose differently than how Scarlett did with Victor, but that was about it.
  • Sisley Choi as Dau Nga Hei (竇亞希) aka Ah Dau (阿兜). At first, when I was reading the news about her replacing Charmaine or other rumors, I felt unease and had this bias. It was mostly due to the fact that they returned to the main timeline instead of doing a prequel. So yeah, not sure what to think. I tried to put it aside but it was kind of hard. However, when I actually started the series, I liked her immediately.  It was really strange. I looked up her past dramas and realized that I actually liked her in quite a few of the ones I did watch in recent years. So, I was glad that she showed consistency and was able to hold one of the lead roles in here. By the time I got to episode 9, I learned that she had won TVB Awards for best actress. I was so happy for her. It was strange to be excited about someone’s award for a while now, so yeah. I felt like if Sisley had appeared more, the plot would have been more interesting. At first, I didn’t want her to appear too much to hog the scenes because that might have backfired and caused her character to become annoying. But the more the others appeared after her case was done and she was out of the way, for the most part, it felt boring to death if it wasn’t for all the backstabbing with various parties. Her character was tenfold more interesting than some of the major characters in here. Sisley’s strong acting had lifted up the series at the beginning and her character also helped that she was so lively. Even at her worst character-wise and how she felt guilty after her case was over, her recovery journey was much more interesting than some subplots in here, which was sad.

Supporting Cast:

  • Owen Cheung as Pong Ho Yeung (龐浩洋). He had some ambitious goals to reform Sung Luen Society. Too bad that his plan was thwarted by both people within the triad and also the cops. But in the end, he did learn a lesson with turning around–mostly by his own father–and the promise that he will keep with turning a new leaf once he got out. I actually got a little teary-eyed during the brief reunion between father and son in the hospital.
  • Tony Hung as Wong Wing Cheong (王永翔). An undercover agent and one of the team members who died after the mission in Thailand. I was so glad he had a story in here and a tie-in with some of the characters that appeared in here. However, I was still very sad that there wasn’t any teeny-tiny bit that he could still be alive. Because I liked his character even more than some of the ones who appeared in here. It lifted up the series and became a shining part to look forward to whenever Ah Mui received a new package.
  • Shiga Lin as Cheung Yuk Luen (張玉瑄) / Birdy. An undercover agent and one of the team members who died after the mission in Thailand. I also liked how they included more stories for her in here like how it was with Wing Cheong. It made me have this same reluctant feeling of wanting her back for this series in general as in the present timeline. Too bad.
  • Serene Lim as Lam Lam (藍楠). I thought she was going to be Bao Seed’s neighbor and someone who would end up being in some weird business rivalry with him based on their first encounter. Yet it turned out that she was really gentle and patient after working at his massage place. She was quite cute at the beginning and quite thoughtful as it showed later with helping him. It was also quite unexpected that she died. Seriously, it was so random. It made sense, but it was sort of overkilled with getting rid of half of the cast involved. They sure wanted to clean house and start fresh with the fourth installment, lol.
  • Elena Kong as Mok Sin Ching (莫羨晴) / Katie. Her death was probably the most shocking and the saddest for me. Why? It was at the beginning of the series. I didn’t realize they would kill her off so Cheuk Sir had more time to browse around and get himself into various conflicts in here. I guessed the Korean soap pattern continued with her liver disease. So dramatic. Aside from that, she indeed wasn’t able to live with herself nor could she allow herself to become a bargaining chip for Klein’s own good against her husband. A solid character throughout yet had ended that way. And how sad was that? She was cut out of the show? Did she not want to be involved in the series anymore? Or was there a conflict in the schedules again? I haven’t paid attention to TVB-related stuff for years, so I’m seriously confused, not being snappy here. Too bad though.
  • Geoffrey Wong as Leung Kin Pong (梁健邦) aka Leung Sir. He was funny at first. It seemed like he was there for the comic relief of the show mostly, considering how he scolded Bao Seed for being so young and rash and all, which Madam G pointed out that he was using the 60-ish as middle-age range, lol. But when the series got serious, he sure proved that he was a reliable boss and a person with strong principles. He rather quit than betray the UCs.
  • Kelvin Yuen as Lui Hup Sing (呂合星) aka Lui Sir. Ching Chik’s stepfather. Mixed feelings throughout. I didn’t like his smug look and his mocking of Madam G at first (since it was mocking her disability). I didn’t like his high and mighty vibe either. Well, he didn’t know. But still. Later, though, when he finally realized what was going on and had the talk with Bao Seed, I realized that was his redeemable point. He was just too stubborn and by the book at times. At least, he was honest in that sense and was willing to admit his blind spot, unlike some people in here.
  • Li Shing Cheong as Wai Kit (韋傑). The founder of Sung Luen triad. He was the only person who wanted to help Klein after Klein had nowhere to hide or run to, but was shot by Klein because Klein didn’t believe him. It was indeed tragic. Sure, some might say it was karma for all his past deeds. But hadn’t he paid for it in prison all these years?
  • Anthony Ho as Mui Sze Kwai (梅小貴). He always acted like he was the boss, lol. He was a great comic relief for the show though. His chiding at times made it funnier. Oh yeah, Bao Seed kept calling him Moose Kwai so some of them ended up calling him that too. What was a bit off was that he wasn’t there for Lam Lam’s sent-off scene. It would make sense if he was there, considering their bond at the massage parlor throughout.
  • Alex Tse as Chow Man Ding (周文鼎) aka Ding (). Chum Foon Hei’s right-hand man. Really dislike him at first. Mostly it was because of the rivalry between Cheuk Sir and Chum Foon Hei. But he was all right later. At least, he was helpful.

Others:

  • Eddie Koo as Hon Kin Yi (韓建義) aka Dr. X. He was a ruthless leader and a creepy doctor. He was seriously even more powerful than Victor could ever dream of. Sorry, lol, to stomp on Victor too much. But I think this was because of Eddie’s experience of over four decades of acting that backed his character so nicely. He scared the world out of me too with his gradual change of character. I swear, I thought he was portraying a regular doctor this time. I actually was convinced when he said that he and Bao Seed were similar regarding holding knives and all. But then bam, he changed his tune just like that. His brief appearances actually creeped me out more than Victor’s appearances throughout the second season. And that said A LOT.
  • Mimi Kung as Fan Hiu Wah (范曉華) / Madam Fan. It was so interesting and somewhat funny to see her back with TVB after all these years. Not to mention how I thought she was just passing by as a guest star yet she became a key character for one of the cases. She, obviously, didn’t disappoint. And was anyone laughing during the scene where Cheuk Sir confronted her at the church? Okay, it was a serious situation and it was heartbreaking for Cheuk Sir with what was happening and his wife was equally heartbroken after they were given false hope. However, I was thinking about their relation in other past series they’d been in together and she’d never got to be with him, so now it was major revenge time for her? Just kidding here, but yeah. Character-wise, she sure was crazy. Yeah, I get it, who could stand it when their loved one was dying and the feeling of helplessness was the worst. Yet to sacrifice another human being for that? I think I could say that Cheuk Sir was not really in the right to scold her either. I meant, sure, it was just that his wife didn’t need a heart hence no one needed to die to save her. But he crossed the line too. So the others could scold her but not him. (And Bao Seed was right when he said he understood why Cheuk Sir did it BUT wouldn’t trust him in the future to be more involved with the case.) Mimi sure delivered. I didn’t realize she was back with TVB. Also, shows how much I’ve been paying attention to TVB series in general nowadays.
  • Savio Tsang as Yam Sheung Yu (任尚宇) aka Yam Sir. Madam Fan’s husband. This was one of his last full roles. It was really sad when I heard the news. Was this a jinx? I mean he’d more tragic roles before. It wasn’t news. But it hit a bit closer to home when I watched it and was thinking of him. He delivered well once again. No doubt about it.
  • Lam King Ching as King. Pong Ho Yeung’s assistant and also his best friend. He was stingy and reckless at times. However, he was really loyal to Ho Yeung so I guess it was hard to blame him. He was in a gang after all. How could he take the high road? I swear he reminds me of Roger Kwok. Especially his various expressions at times.
  • Oscar Leung as Cheung Muk Wing (張木榮) aka Muk Sat (木蝨). He appeared in one of the flashbacks stories and one of the reasons why he became so loyal to Bao Seed later on. Well, there was a betrayal situation but it wasn’t like he wanted it. He was really apologetic and all. Glad to learn that little story.
  • Brian Tse as Tat Q. I really liked him in the previous installment as comedic relief for the show. So I was glad to learn another backstory about him. What was hilarious was his run-in with Mut Sat.
  • Joseph Zeng as Yan Tin Hup (殷天俠) / Madman. I said it before and I will say it again. He looks like a very young version of Felix Wong. Did Michael make the connection when they were filming together? Did anyone else? LOL! All in all, though, I was surprised to know he was participating in this production. I was looking forward to his appearance. I saw some BTS interviews. He was so cute, all shy when one of the fellow cast members complimented his Cantonese but he was saying how he could learn so much more from everyone. So humble. His role? Very creepy. He looked so harmless during the scene he got captured yet he did it on purpose to see who the opposing party was. Then he totally hexed Nine-Fingered Keung up. That was soooo creepy. His nickname wasn’t wrong after all. He was indeed crazy. If what he said was true about killing Ding Jie already, that meant TVB just killed Charmaine’s chance of coming back to the series–if they decided to make another installment, that was. Then again, they plugged in the side story to distract us about him actually being a UC from New Zealand. So? It was a gray area because it created doubt. It reminded me of that time in the first season when one of the UCs defected and they had to test her. He wasn’t an agent but was posing as one. So, who could take his word for anything? It was kind of surprising that they didn’t test him though. Or was it because he was too experienced with being an international threat that it was hard to catch? Considering how they were focusing on too many factors. Then I realized why. It was such an elaborate plot. Then he died out of nowhere. So that was hard to do anything else until later. I must admit, though, he was a nice addition to the already complicated plot. It wasn’t overdone though. It made sense as to why Chum Foon Hei was investigating the organization and he became another piece to the whole puzzle. Solid acting. No doubt about it. He got shot and taken out of the game by episode 24, but that wasn’t really it. It was shown in the final episode that he wasn’t an undercover agent nor Madman. He was someone completely different. And the others didn’t know. So, that was why. That meant he will return in the fourth installment if they make one?
  • Lee Kwok Lun as So Chi On (蘇子安) aka So Sir (蘇Sir). He seriously was greedy and crazy. I didn’t have any empathy for him at all. He killed his own daughter. Well, considering how his crimes and all. But usually, don’t those people usually use their loved ones as excuses for committing those crimes? Like “I did it for you to have a better future” kind of talk? Or like “If it wasn’t for me, would you be so well off right now?” kind of guilt-trip technique? Or just capture her and detain her for the time being. Yet he went all the way and sacrifice her. She became another pawn to use against his supposed enemies. We found out according to the flashbacks that it was an accident but if he wasn’t so adamant to stop her, it wouldn’t happen. It was inevitable.
  • Emily Kwan as Madam Chan. She was a real piece of work all right. She should be looking in the mirror with her accusations. She pimped Ah Luen out to investigate Tin Tong yet came back to accuse Ah Luen of sleeping with Tin Tong hence taking his side now? What a bitch. That was what her head was always thinking of hence projecting on others. Also, Ah Mui was right when she said Madam Chan’s only purpose was protecting herself and trying to advance her career. Not to mention how she had a fallout with So Chi On hence now using Ah Mui to take So Chi On out. The whole power play was pathetic, to say the least. She was no victim. She knew everything yet allowed Tin Tong to take the fall for it. She deserved prison or worse for her part in the whole scheme. I knew it even before So Cho On said it that Madam Chan was full of it. Her actions and behaviors during flashbacks said it already. She was just covering her ass and trying to beat So Chi On to a promotion or some higher-ranked position. Like she was always so righteous or something. Seriously. So sickening. Hated her throughout regardless of her intention. So her half-ass apology at the end to the team wasn’t really that convincing to me.
  • Penny Chan as Lee Man Hung (李文雄). He was part of the CIB team and shown his support for Cheuk Sir from time to time whenever they discussed Cheuk Sir.
  • Bak Piao as one of the gang members of Sung Luen Society. It was hilarious to see him there and participating like that.
  • Chan Wing Chun as the advisor of Sung Luen Society. It was hilarious really. Because when he was talking and Cheuk Sir showed up to expose Nine-Fingered Keung, I was thinking Chor Lau Heung and Wu Tie Fah were reuniting, lol. Aside from, brief appearance but I guess that was how the plot was.
  • Sophie Yip as So Miu Miu (蘇淼淼) / Melanie. So Sir’s daughter. At first, I didn’t know where the plot was going and if she was in it with her father too. I mean everyone in here was mysterious one way or another so yeah. When I realized where it was leading toward, I felt really bad for her for being used like that. Even if Tin Tong admitted his guilt in using her to extract information, but I didn’t forgive him for that one. I guess that sort of tainted how I see him since then too. I meant in the past, we saw him using different means to woo the ladies to tell him various secrets too while he was UC. But now? It repeated again and it had caused her life. Even if he didn’t do the killing, I felt it didn’t help. Sure, she chose to help, but she wanted to prove a point. Not to mention how her feelings for her were real. Even if he didn’t do the actual killing, I thought his short time in confinement sort of was payback for using people. Or were people thinking what happened to her was karma for her father? Because she was innocent and didn’t deserve any of that. She tried to stop him–for his own good–and paid with her life. It was tragic.
  • Ron Ng as a customer at the massage place. It was hilarious. Ron was so cute. Being random and asking Ray stuff. He also said at the part where they were taking pictures, “Hey, you look like Lam Fung.” LOL! It was kind of lame to plug that in, but I forgive them because of the brief reunion between the two.
  • Matt Yeung as a customer at the massage place.
  • Tsui Wing as a customer at the massage place.
  • Raymond Chiu as a customer at the massage place.
  • Akina Hong as Cheung Kei Wan (章紀泓) / Wendy. Madam G’s older sister. The Core’s owner. OMG, I almost couldn’t recognize her. It shows how long I haven’t watched anything TVB, lol. Um, her sister’s introduction of the boyfriend was seriously a shocker, lol. Not laughing as in something funny but how tragic was that and Madam G brought it up like it was nothing. And how nice was that? Her organization worked with Infinity or collaborated in the past. Interesting how things turned out. Almost everyone was connected, one way or another. I thought she was just an extra character to give Madam G a side story, like some of their stories were in here. Yet she created another mystery to the already crazy web. OMG, I was literally on the edge of my seat when she walked to Klein’s car. Really, lady? Are you crazy? OOoo, so Infinity funded The Core? Wow, okay, rich background story. Too bad they were all crazy together. Oh well, the mystery lasted for about five minutes. Oh yeah, it would have been really a kicker if she had defected and was just by Klein’s side to search for the seal while pretending to still be loyal to him because he had funded her education and was the one responsible for the establishment of The Core. It would have been a real surprise. At least, I thought that was more interesting than having weak subplots dragging out. It was revealed later that she was the one who called the cops on her father. However, it wasn’t the merit for her to become a criminal later. She couldn’t bear the abuse anymore and had to do it to save them both somehow. What she did later was what mattered. She admitted that she hurt her sister and somehow finally realized she should have left, which was too late. But she did leave some evidence for them.
  • Kent Cheng as Sun Chi Kin (辛志堅) aka Kin Gor (堅哥). One of the founders of the Cheung Hing triad. Funny intro but we all know most innocent-looking characters in here aren’t that innocent so yeah. He was the co-founder of Cheung Hing and got kicked aside? Served those idiots right for being so arrogant. Who got the last laugh now? He is still alive. Over half of them are dead already. Also, his appearance made things tenfold more interesting when he appeared to take over the story versus the other boring subplots. They needed him to carry the story and the ending home. Because I’m sorry, Kenneth couldn’t do it alone. Even if Kin Gor failed in the end to get Klein BUT the point was they needed Kent with his strong performance to carry them past a certain point. The other already strong characters couldn’t carry all the dead weight alone. No pun intended, considering how Kin Gor turned out.
  • Michael Tse as the sniper who killed Klein. What? It was somewhat a repeat of the prequel’s ending. Well, it was different because Klein was just using the gun to aim and vouching for revenge. But same vibe. Who was this character? Was he part of another mystery organization? Possibly Ah Hup’s organization?

Relationships/ Friendships/ Romances, etc

  • Michael and Elena. Loved them. If it was possible to love them even more. I didn’t agree with his resorting to other ways to save her, because it made him looked like a hypocrite when he scolded Fan Hiu Wah. However, what they’d been through and tried to work things out, it was nice to see. Perhaps, it was somewhat refreshing in the past few years with watching Michael mostly and his pairings didn’t really click for me. Even if it did fit, but some other parts of the plot killed it for me. This one gave me a balance that I preferred. OMG, their ending was the saddest. Again, Korean soap material. Seriously. It made sense with what happened but didn’t make it less sad. Their last dinner, their last dance, their story as an overall. The song brought back from season 1 aided their moments and summed their story nicely. This was one of those times I didn’t mind the flashbacks because it has been a while since season 1 and it was suitable for such a moment. Both of their acting was really on par at that point. Okay, I admit, I cried buckets. It was really tragic. Seriously? Frustrating, but also really worth a few tears. Okay, maybe lots of it. Just grab the whole box of tissues–just to be safe.
  • Raymond and Charmaine. Although she wasn’t around but was mentioned a lot and some of the major characters were looking for her. Not to mention how he thought of her at various points throughout the story, so I thought it made sense to put them in here. For once, I want to give credit where credit is due and the writers made the right call for not replacing her yet hence their relationship was still ongoing. The mourning for her and the memories of them, so many things happened and he thought he lost her more than once. We could see their relationship through his point of view. What about the ending when he had the showdown with Klein? He thought of her before he lost consciousness. And the song that once again used to tell their story along with flashbacks was used, instead of saying any more words to drag out the scene. It was nicely done.
  • Michael and Benz. Round 3, right? LOL! It was hilarious that they were eating together again and how they actually joke about it, lol. I meant after the previous encounters? Ten years since they ate together? LOL! Cheuk Sir brought up the past by saying Chum Foon Hei went back on his words after Victor’s death, lol. What about this third time bumping into one another? It obviously wasn’t simple. Interesting how they kept hopping back and forth between sides. Well, it was for the first part of the story when they were backing the opposing sides for the seat of the chairman regarding Sung Luen Society. But it was hilarious to see them once again facing off. It became even funnier when they were almost working together to see what Eternity was about. Their exchanges and different methods that they would use to achieve that goal. Obviously, Chum Foon Hei was too driven at times and didn’t want to be patient with the regular path, so he did doublecross Cheuk Sir by using Tin Tong and Ah Mui to get Cheuk Sir to go along with it. Yet in the end, somehow, they were on the same side where the others were concerned?
  • Raymond and Benz. I always wondered why Chum Foon Hei never exposed Bao Seed as an undercover cop. Sometimes, I suspected if there was a plot hole somewhere in there. However, I realized that was on par with Chum Foon Hei. After all, he didn’t want to play all out with everyone. In case there was something down the road, he needed a way out. Maybe an unlikely ally as well. Somehow, though, they once again reunited later to find Ding Jie. That was their common goal and their link to one another. They had a few drinks together after learning of Ding Jie’s death. I think they needed that moment. The other time they talked, it was with Cheuk Sir. That time, it was just the two of them. Chum Foon Hei really knew how to pick the time. Because Bao Seed was ready to seek out revenge for Ding Jie. Or did Chum Foon Hei already predicted the move? That was what I initially thought. Then Chum Foon Hei went into this rant about how Cheuk Sir was wrong about retribution. Sure, he was upset that Ding Jie died, but he wasn’t helping with fusing Bao Seed’s determination even more with his revenge plans. Then Chum Foon Hei just brought the topic to the surface. It was unlikely of him because he loved those subtle hint games. Yet this time, he was honest with Bao Seed. Their mystery and their link to Ding Jie might have done that? When Chum Foon Hei just wished Bao Seed luck for the upcoming mission, I wanted to scream. I thought for Ding Jie’s sake, Chum Foon Hei would stop Bao Seed from doing anything rash or less helpful to the main mission. They were so close after all with trying to unearth the mystery behind Eternity. Yet when he handcuffed Bao Seed, I cheered. Because that was so on par with someone so sneaky like Chum Foon Hei. This time, his move was much welcomed. He knew talking Bao Seed away from the plan was useless. So he had to try another method. What Chum Foon Hei said to Bao Seed afterward also made sense. Their connection was too strong. Ding Jie was his god-daughter after all. He couldn’t let go either. Yet he couldn’t let Bao Seed be the person making that move. He wanted to protect Bao Seed, even reminding Bao Seed that he was a cop. It was almost like what Cheuk Sir did for Bao Seed. Because Bao Seed wasn’t tainted like them. Not yet regarding breaking the codes or cutting some corners at times to achieve their means. Even if Bao Seeed did go rogue during some events leading to the ending of season 1, but it was still not to the point of no return yet. And what Chum Foon Hei said was almost an answer to what Cheuk Sir asked him a long time ago. That conversation they had in the prequel with Cheuk Sir asking him if his revenge for his wife was worth it. It was worth it to him, but he also knew he had strayed so far that he couldn’t really return versus how Bao Seed still had a long path ahead of him.
  • Michael and Eddie Koo. It wasn’t until episode 6 when they had their confrontation aka their first meeting that I started laughing. Because I realized they were both in an old Taiwanese series called Flaming Phoenix (浴火鳳凰) together. They were love rivals. So, it was hilarious seeing how they were once again facing off, but for different reasons. I don’t know if they were in other series together in recent years but like I said, I haven’t been watching TVB stuff or paid attention for the past few years, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were.
  • Benjamin and Priscilla. If you don’t succeed, try again, I guess. Because the writers really tried to push those two for this series. If the writers wanted these two to be together, it should have been in the second installment where their story would have worked out better. However, they chose to strike during the third installment and ended up reaching too far that it became some duplicate versions of the other characters’ stories.
  • Owen and Sisley. They were the cutest and probably my favorite couple in here despite their tricky relationship initially. It started as a trap but she realized she’d fallen in so hard it was hard to pull out. I knew it would turn into tragedy. But I low-key wanted it to work. Like somehow, my optimistic side wanted his plan to work with going clean and all. It was indeed a good teaser for the production team. They had a decent story though, which was also the reason why it was harder for both during the confrontation when he found out that she was spying on him with the phone. She couldn’t let him go either because of her duty as a cop. I knew it was a slimmer chance that they would somehow accept one another because of how the plot had steered away from them and it was also going off the cliff with killing so many characters. In short, it was hard to recover from the intensity of it all. Yet in the end, they managed to work it out. Or at least, they have some sort of ending. He had already forgiven her or he had said that he should have seen it coming as a gang member. She was promised to wait for him. Hey, they got the best story to tell their grandkids, right? Something like, “How did I meet grandpa? Well, he was in this gang and I was a UC. I had practically helped put him in prison. But then it was cool. I waited for him to get out before we got married.” LOL!
  • Kenneth and Mandy. If it was any other circumstances, I would have rooted for them. This? Nah. It was really boring. Klein and Madam G were like two robots learning to be humans. Mean. But seriously. The way they talked and operated. I was surprised she didn’t agree with Klein’s assessment about how it was more reliable to use technology for analysis versus leaving it up to humans for errors.
  • Tony Hung and Priscilla. Hear me out, what if those two were together instead? I meant it was too late now with them both dead already. But what they could have done to revive his character in this season was say he somehow made it out of the building or when it exploded, through some outrageous mean, the explosion tossed him outside so he was just unconscious and lost his memory but was safe. Yes, I know if using the memory loss formula, it would be too overkilled. But that might explain why he was missing for the longest time. Then if they want to stretch it and bring Ah Mui back, they could have said she wasn’t really dead. Someone wanted to experiment on her, so they took her body out and actually somehow resurrect her. Hey, we all thought Ah Hup was dead too and he wasn’t dead. So? Anything was possible. Seriously though, I thought if Tony and Priscilla were together with how their characters were, I would ship them more. They were getting along so well with those brief scenes. It was a romantic comedy formula waiting to happen with how they met, bumped into each other, joined forces (sort of) to go against the person who snatched her stuff. So, yeah. Too bad.
  • Benjamin and Shiga Lin. Once again, hear me out, I swear they had more chemistry than when they were with the supposed partner that the scriptwriters wrote for them–supposedly the endgame. I liked them together when watching the flashbacks of years ago. So, they had a rough start and there were misunderstandings. She was just doing her job to check out some leads for her boss but soon learned that he wasn’t like what her superiors thought. I could see their chemistry before they were together for real. They promised to get back in touch and travel together once their missions were over. That scene when he cried in the rain because the lady who got up on the scooter and rode away reminded him of her, I could feel his pain and all for her and how she lost her life just like that. They also lost their chance.

Likes:

  • The songs. I’m soooo glad that Ray got to sing for the third installment. Because I was surprised he didn’t participate in the soundtrack for the first season. With his return, there was a bonus along with it. I was also glad that they used the song “Love is Not So Easy” (越難越愛) by Jinny Ng only for the characters in season 1, because that would have killed me (NOT really, but still) if they allowed that to be used for the new characters too.
  • Ray and Ron reunited briefly in one of the scenes at the massage place. Ron said to Ray, “Hey, you look like Lam Fung.” LOL! Corny but funny. (As I said above, I forgive them, lol.) The group of friends told Ray to join in with the group picture, lol. That was kind of crawling over to the lame side with their tangent moment but kind of fun to see a Ray and Ron reunion–briefly. Did Ron volunteer to enter the scene so he could troll Ray? Just wondering, lol.
  • The Shadow Warriors team. Although it was set up by Madam Chan initially to cover her own ass and to further her agenda by claiming the credit yet the majority of the members were a true team. They’d been through so much together. Soooo funny when Chum Foon Hei arrived, everyone was giving him a long face. He said it was all right they didn’t throw a party to welcome him, but giving him that long face? LOL! He was hilarious really. They were acting like he was the one bringing bad luck. Great to know he wasn’t being forgotten as one of the key characters. They needed him. And when they were celebrating–sort of, only Ah Mui was trying to celebrate, Tin Tong was trying to act sweet to Ah Mui and Chum Foon Hei reminded them that there were other people around too, not just them, lol. He couldn’t stand the sweetness anymore, lol. Poor dude. What was worse was how Madam G said that was how Klein treated her behind closed doors AND Bao Seed was yelling for her to stop because no one wanted to know what they did behind closed doors, lol. Tin Tong was a pervert and wanted to know, lol. Ah Mui couldn’t say that about Tin Tong though, she was with him, right? They also joked about how Klein was a savior because he took in Madam G. Those were the days before they found out the truth about Klein though.

Intriguing subplots:

  • The investigation into Tin Tong in the past. Ah Luen and Tin Tong met and we got to discover some of their backstories before coming into the events of their timeline, which led to them finally landing in the current situation. Wing Cheong also had to investigate Tin Tong, which led to them meeting and becoming friends. It was really fun to watch how they all linked together one way or another. Too bad they didn’t know they all knew each other one way or another. Also, how Ah Mui knew Wing Cheong as well. It was just too bad that they didn’t know anything else aside from some details here and there.
  • Joseph Zeng’s roles as Madman or Yan Tin Hup. He was neither since it was revealed in the final episode. However, who was he really? The person who worked for Michael Tse’s character? Or was Michael just a sniper for some other big boss? But his appearance also created another mystery for the overall series. It led us into believing there was something else out there. Also, a hint for season 4, obviously, lol.
  • Kin Gor’s return to take over Hong Kong and manipulate the world in general. It was a good one. Because it forced the story to move forward and drove it into the ending. Because I think the story died down a bit after some hype here and there. It needed a boost that some of the major characters couldn’t save.

Subplots that were a complete waste of time:

  • Tin Tong and Ah Mui’s love story. If the only purpose of their story was to teach the rest of us a lesson about not wasting our time and cherish one another, then okay. But other than that, I didn’t see the purpose of their characters getting together. Apart, I liked both of their characters. Together, it was sooooo boring. Besides, I already discussed above that I preferred them with the characters mentioned before, so yeah. Not to mention how their story was somewhat a copy of both Bao Seed and Ding Jie and somewhat a version of Kobe and Yan as well. That scene at the hospital trying to find each other and it got super dramatic and dragged out? It reminded me of season 1 when Kobe rescued Yan from that explosion and they found each other afterward, except Kobe and Yan’s version wasn’t forced. It was indeed intense and I finally appreciated Sharon’s acting more than ever because I realized Priscilla couldn’t carry through–and neither did Benjamin. I’m sorry. It just felt so forced. And when I say they resembled Bao Seed and Ding Jie was because they couldn’t catch a break with spending some intimate time together, it was never the right time, etc. It was funny when Ray and Charmaine did it even if it was a tad cheesy at times YET I felt once again, I’m sorry, Benjamin and Priscilla couldn’t carry through. They were playful, etc. I think I should blame the scriptwriters for the poor planning. Because season 1 allowed for those scenes to be included at the right interval of the story, unlike this one where they were captured or were just at an intense part of the story. The hospital scene was supposed to be really tragic and sad but I wasn’t affected at all. Only Michael’s and the others’ reactions made it seemed tragic enough. Also, that scene became the reason Bao Seed cracked the code regarding Ah Hup’s gesture before he died. It was when Tin Tong placed the ring on Ah Mui’s finger that he figured it out.
  • Bao Seed’s son. Aside from distracting us, there was nothing there really. He chose to return to help the others, that was it. So, it wasn’t like there was much to go on. It was a side plot to increase more episodes. Sounds harsh, but it didn’t contribute to the major plot even if you take it out. That was how terrible it was. The idea was nice and a good distraction, but that was about it. Not to mention how it stole from Kobe and Yan with having a child without the former knowing yet this son survived, obviously. But it was a wasted plot. I mean Ray’s acting was good and we saw another side of him as portraying a fatherly role and their interactions were cute, but it was a weak subplot overall. Like I said, if you take it out, it wouldn’t make a difference to the overall picture.

Discussions:

  • Katie’s luck with actually finding a boss who finally has a backbone. Good luck with that! Seriously. The asshole expected her to grovel? He was an asshole through and through, not even hiding it at all. Well, I guess the previous boss had bigger fishes to fry, so of course, he kept some sense of secrecy and patience initially. This one just didn’t care to show his true face just like that. And I clap her on once again for not caving. Well, she was floored by his request and was still thinking. But then she couldn’t live with it since she was struggling inside the whole time. So she finally chose to stay with justice’s side. Brilliant! But that high only lasted for like two seconds because thanks to Wai Chok Wing, I also remembered why it was really a bad idea to call Fan Hiu Wah as well. Ugh. Life, right? It was also really frustrating that she was forced to walk back on her stance regarding justice and all. It was indeed heartbreaking and frustrating. When Bao Seed went to talk to her, it highlighted their feelings vividly.
  • Raymond Lam/ Bao Seed vs Kenneth Ma/ Klein – LOL! I wanted to laugh the first time they met up. It was hilarious. I meant they worked together in a bunch of series already. But just funny to see them again like that. Oh yeah, CIA vs SIA, lol. I thought that scene was hilarious. At least the initial exchange. Bao Seed asking if Klein wanted him to join CIA and Klein was saying, “It’s SIA.” Bao Seed was like it was about the same, just one different letter. LOL! He wasn’t wrong, lol. Still an intelligence committee.
  • When the old team met the new team. Interesting or what? LOL! It was funny to see their interactions and reactions to one another. Bao Seed trying to bring up his status on the team YET failed somewhat because according to the timeline, Ah Mui was actually his senior. LOL! Even if that was really funny though, I felt that the writers did that on purpose timeline-wise made it too much of a stretch. Bao Seed, obviously, was more experienced as an undercover cop regardless. He only cracked near the end. Like who wouldn’t? They were at a dead-end. However, the rest?
  • When Bao Seed found out Cheuk Sir wanted to go rouge and help Pong Ho Yeung to claim the Sung Luen’s leader seat. It was hilarious to see Bao Seed’s expression. It was like, “Seriously, man? You were the one who told me not to cut corners or cross the line. Now you’re playing this game?” And the fact that Cheuk Sir pointed out that they might become enemies if Bao Seed was going against Pong Ho Yeung. That was why the betrayal regarding Ah Dau was even more heartbreaking. Bao Seed reminded Cheuk Sir what Cheuk Sir told him previously and how Cheuk Sir had steered him toward the right path. So how could Bao Seed be calmed to face such a change with their roles? Cheuk Sir was right that he was no longer a cop. But that didn’t hurt any less. Cheuk Sir had a point when he said that he had nothing to lose with the way things were, so he was much freer to do what he wanted. Even if he failed, it was just him. However, what a way to mess with Bao Seed’s head. That was a powerful confrontation between both, though. Even if it was all an act from Cheuk Sir, but it still made everything more complicated than before. Like I said, it was messing with Bao Seed’s head big time. We all know this was a short fallout comparing the rest of the madness later on. But at that time, how was Bao Seed supposed to act?
  • The main cast seemed a tad bloated. However, I thought it cranked the hype up a bit compared to the prequel. The shifting back and forth between various characters made it interesting. But I thought the writers got a bit cocky and some of the subplots got away from them hence some subplots were less desirable than others. It was discussed in the points above already. So I don’t want to rehash again.
  • When Ah Dau confessed to Bao Seed that she’d fallen for Pong Ho Yeung and wouldn’t be able to do her job properly. It was indeed a change. I thought she would sneak around until it got out of control. She’d been struggling for a while. It wasn’t like she didn’t know what was going on. But that moment was indeed different from other dramas with how she went out of the way and said it. Bao Seed, obviously, already knew. And his reaction was why he was the most suitable to her handler and not someone who couldn’t care less about her and her well-being, except to be able to climb the ranks and all. Their talk after the whole operation went down without his involvement said it all as well. He was indeed a very good handler, taking in all angles, considering her feelings. Because he used to be a UC and still is, he could understand all the complications going on everywhere and how UC work was very hard. He didn’t use her to exploit the chance, knowing it would be very hard for her to pull out and deal with the fallout afterward. His words to her summed up his philosophy: UC is human after all. Many had forgotten, especially what happened to past UCs. So, yes, it indeed needed to be said, even if it seemed obvious. They moved on to talk about Ding Jie and how it had subtly hinted that Ah Dau was never going to replace Ding Jie regardless of the situation. They were all waiting for her to come back–whenever that was.
  • Leung Sir and Madam G as mentor and student. The first time I saw Madam G showed real emotions toward anyone–aside from her sister. The part where Leung Sir quit and Madam G wanted to follow him yet he told her to stay. She promised but had clung onto him. Many might think that was a childish gesture but that was her way of showing her emotions and how important he was to her. He was her mentor and partially the reason why she’d been around for so long.
  • They killed Goblin! I was watching the one with English subs so he was listed as Goblin. OMG, they were going all out on killing everyone to let us see how terrible the situation was or something. I was surprised that he was apologizing to Cheuk Sir and saying how he couldn’t say no to the grand reward prize. However, he was just using that as an excuse and later diverted attention away from Cheuk Sir and onto himself so Cheuk Sir could escape. I liked him. He was a fun addition to the cast and comedic relief for all of us when it got too intense.
  • They never mentioned Moose Kwai again at the end when Bao Seed told Lam Lam he was going to seek out Ding Jie? Really? They dragged out some other stuff yet didn’t give us some clue as to where he was going after that? Just a tad, considering how he did appear at some hilarious scenes throughout. I mean, I’m sure he would be fine looking for another job. But he was part of the massage place and cared for Lam Lam deeply as a friend as well. He would want to know or would cry over it.

Recommended? I thought it was worth it for the major plot and some of the subplots with the new characters. Plus, there were some gaps they needed to fill to tie it together for some characters involved and how they all got to that point. There was also a cliff-hanger which would lead into the fourth installment. So, you know, you could wait until they actually make a fourth one so it would be less of a wait? LOL!

Top 50 Actors of 2019

(image credit: as marked)

Translations:

1. Zhu Yi Long / Chu Nhứt Long

2. Deng Lun / Đặng Luân

3. Jackson Yee / Dịch Dương Thiên Tỉ

4. Xiao Zhan / Tiêu Chiến

5. Wang Yi Bo / Vương Nhứt Bác

6. Yang Yang / Dương Dương

7. Hu Ge / Hồ Ca

8. Li Xian / Lý Hiện

9. Luo Yun Xi / La Vân Hy

10. Wang Jun Kai / Vương Tuấn Khải

11. Luo Jin / La Tấn

12. Lay Zhang Yi Xing / Trương Nghệ Hưng

13. Jin Dong / Cận Đông

14. Li Yi Feng / Lý Dịch Phong

15. Alan Yu / Vu Mông Lung

16. Liu Hao Ran / Lưu Hạo Nhiên

17. Wang Kai / Vương Khải

18. Roy Wang / Vương Nguyên

19. Zhang Ruo Yun / Trương Nhược Quân

20. William Chan / Trần Vỹ Đình

21. Xu Kai / Hứa Khải

22. Huang Zi Tao / Hoàng Tử Thao

23. Ray Ma Tian Yu / Mã Thiên Vũ

24. William Feng Shao Feng / Phùng Thiệu Phong

25. Vin Zhang / Trương Bân Bân

26. Zhu Ya Wen / Chu Á Văn

27. Lei Jia Yin / Lôi Giai Âm

28. Lu Han / Lộc Hàm

29. Shawn Dou / Đậu Kiêu

30. Jia Nai Liang / Giả Nại Lương

31. Zhang Jia Yi / Trương Gia Dịch

32. Zhang Yi / Trương Dịch

33. Lai Guan Lin / Lại Quán Lâm

34. Chen Xiao / Trần Hiểu

35. Wu Lei / Ngô Lỗi

36. Xing Zhao Lin / Hình Chiêu Lâm

37. Johnny Bai / Bạch Vũ

38. Guo Jing Fei / Quách Kinh Phi

39. Zhang Yi Shan / Trương Nhứt Sơn

40. Bai Jing Ting / Bạch Kính Đình

41. Yang Shuo / Dương Thước

42. Kenny Lin Geng Xin / Lâm Canh Tân

43. Xu Wei Zhou / Hứa Ngụy Châu

44. Joseph Zeng / Tăng Thuấn Hy

45. Johnny Huang / Huỳnh Cảnh Du

46. Wallace Huo / Hoắc Kiến Hoa

47. Huang Lei / Huỳnh Lỗi

48. Jeremy Jones / Từ Chính Hy

49. Hu Yi Tian / Hồ Nhứt Thiên

50. Jin Han / Kim Hàn

Fighter of the Destiny


I finally got around to watching this a while back but haven’t posted the review yet. I also need to clarify that I didn’t read the novel so I will just base my review on what’s in the series. I actually tried to read the novel but got impatient and then flipped to the end a bit. I ended up hunting down for the summary of some characters instead and understand a bit about the situation of the adaptation. But back to the series. How was it? I’ll save the rants for it below.

Main Cast:

  • Lu Han (鹿晗) as Chen Chang Sheng (陳長生). He was really likable and relatable as a protagonist. I felt there were many sides to him that it was enough to be an interesting main lead. He had serious moments (plenty, considering how his death was always looming) and funny scenes–where he interacted comfortably with the others. I liked his intelligence and his kindness toward others. Sure, he had moments where he was super stubborn, but that was what sold me on him, considering how most main leads nowadays were just too good to be true. I felt his rogue side added to the character, but how there was a balance to his character so it wasn’t too over either–like trying too hard and then failed. What I also liked was his sword, lol. Super cool and convenient for road travel. He could store everything in there. This was my first time watching Lu Han and I must say I was surprised. Not that I doubt his capabilities of being the main lead. It was more like I only heard of his name but never watched him before. I was glad to finally watch him in this series.
    • Yang Ceng Xi (杨曾曦) as Childhood Chen Chang Sheng (幼年陳長生).
  • Guli Nazha (古力娜扎) as Xu You Rong (徐有容) aka Holy Girl (聖女). I don’t know what to say about this character except extreme frustration throughout. Okay, I have a lot to say yet I had to calm down for a bit to be able to write this review. First off, as the main lead, I felt she was really robbed–regarding the script. Sure, she appeared a lot. But I felt the writers played her major time. She was so bland that I felt I couldn’t justify half of her actions. Sure, she was after all their Holy Girl and had to act appropriately according to the rules, whatever. But I felt, later on, her contribution to the plot was so weak. I wished she had a solid story so it convinced me why she was the main lead. I didn’t need her to jump in and save the day all the time. That would be unrealistic. Yet I felt aside from the scene where they conspired to save Chang Sheng out of that maximum-security prison, she didn’t have other scenes where she stood out. Sure, she fought along their side and contributed to help think of plans, but I felt it was still weak. It was still a part of her duty sort of thing. I liked her stubbornness and how she wouldn’t marry QSJ just because the others wanted her to. I liked her rebellious schemes later on–when she finally agreed to join in with the others to break Chang Sheng out (like said before). But why wasn’t she given anymore subplot to convince of her importance? It was 50+ episodes and she only stood around the majority of the time and discussed stuff and be lovey-dovey with Chang Sheng at other times? I got that she was smart in her own way and I liked that she had her reasons for not wanting Chang Sheng to become too obsessed with the constellations. But what else was there for her? Even her scene where she sabotaged Nan Ke’s wedding became a plot for QSJ to turn around. Really? I felt she just became a plot device so QSJ could shine somehow or just a reason for CS and QSJ to disagree–although I do like Chang Sheng a lot. But it didn’t make it any less of frustration to see the main girl so inactive. Aside from that, I felt that Nazha had improved so much with her acting since The Classic of Mountains and Seas. I’m proud of her. It sounds confusing, considering how I criticized the character so much yet I felt Nazha did a good job with portraying such a role, showing the depth of her character with whatever was given. She exuded the Holy Girl vibe very well and was quite articulated. Her ability to express with her eyes also improved immensely as well.
    • Lu Chen Yue (吕晨悦) as Childhood Xu You Rong (幼年徐有容).
  • Janice Wu (吴倩) as Bai Luo Heng (白落衡) aka Luo Luo (落落). She was my favorite female character in here. I was surprised. I thought I would dislike her because of a possible role in the triangle. But I felt she had exceeded all expectations. She was lively and fun. Not to mention so loyal and caring and lovable. There were so many sides to her. She was sort of spoiled too–somewhat–but she was still likable in many ways. I cried many times for her and felt that Janice did a very good job. I liked her since watching DOMD and felt she acted quite well in there. She took her acting to another level. I think her performance was what made her character so likable and enjoyable to watch. It was really sad to see her acting so passive toward the others later. I thought it would be for the best later since she had to move on anyway. But it was really tragic. The transition of her character also proved Janice’s acting was quite convincing.
  • Joseph Zeng (曾舜晞) as Tang Tang (唐棠) aka Tang San Shi Liu (唐三十六). He was hilarious. I loved how he was Chang Sheng’s first friend since arriving at that place. I thought he would be arrogant and look down on Chang Sheng, but he wasn’t so. He was quite grounded for a somewhat spoiled young master. He loved to show off and was very proud of his inventions. Yet he was surprisingly likable. Sure, he did have his crazy moments and was mad at Chang Sheng over some misunderstanding too. But I thought I forgave him since he did leave that one group to join Chang Sheng’s school to show his support. When things mattered, he did back Chang Sheng up. Not to mention, all of those inventions. It was too cool. Anyway, he was my second favorite male character in here.
  • Amelie Xu (许龄月) as Mo Yu (莫雨). I didn’t like her at all–if that was too cruel to say. Yet it was too hard to like her. It wasn’t because she sided with QSJ regarding the triangle either. Partly, but like how the rest of that place totally looked down on others–it was like a rule or something, you have to look down on outsiders to be called one of them. I could respect it that she finally admitted it that Chang Sheng had a good side but she was still siding with QSJ regarding the triangle. Yet what I found ironic for the majority of the series was how she didn’t see it that she was forcing You Rong YET she didn’t like the empress’ nephew either (who hit on her multiple times during the earlier parts of the series). I felt bad for her that she had become that way near the end. It was sad for her and Tang Tang yet that didn’t make her a top character for me either. Hey, I found it super hard to like You Rong too so it wasn’t like I was just picking on her.
  • Gao Han Yu (高瀚宇) as Xuan Yuan Po (轩辕破). He was probably my favorite male character in here. After having watched him in SCI Mystery, I was ready to see another role of his. In fact, that was the reason why I moved on to watching this series earlier than expected. (Yes, my list’s still super long and I don’t know if I could finish it in this lifetime, really.) I had followed it while it was airing but didn’t think to watch it so soon. Anyway, back to GHY, definitely a different role from SCI since his IQ was brought down even more, lol. But he was a really lovable character. He was funny–without knowing possibly. He was seriously loyal and caring toward his friends. It was hilarious. I also liked his crush on Luo Luo and felt it was too bad they couldn’t be together either. Well, he was going to guard her temple later so it wasn’t for nothing. But still sad. The saddest part was how he was crying–or on the verge of crying–knowing that she would forget him too eventually and seeing how it was already happening to Chang Sheng. What was even funnier with him was how he loved to eat but also could cook up a storm. It was a nice touch since in other series, we only get to see those loving to eat and pig out from others’ cooking. Yet he was able to do both. Anyway, GHY’s acting was quite good in here. I think I like him even more in here.
  • Chen Shu (陈数) as Tian Hai You Xue (天海幽雪) aka Holy Empress (圣后). Mixed feelings throughout. Sometimes, I got it from her speeches or her intentions that she was looking at the bigger picture and caring for her citizens. Other times, I just thought she was crazy.
  • Eddie Cheung (張兆輝) as Yin Xing Dao (寅行道) aka Royal Scholar (教宗大人) aka Red Robe (紅袍). Um, I have flashbacks of the ’90s when Eddie was portraying villainous roles all over again, lol. His schemes were elaborate and he was smart enough to stay in the background. However, I felt his intelligence could only be so much. Why? Seriously, he wanted to become king and all but ended up having to control the constellations as well? Um, not too smart there. Aside from that, I didn’t doubt Eddie’s acting.

Supporting:

  • Yao Di (姚笛) as Nan Ke (南客). I didn’t like her but had to admit her character got some mystery and depth to it. Even if she was from the opposing side, I actually admired her stubbornness at times. I hated her stupid jealousy rants but felt she had a better story than oh-say the main girl. Yes, I kept going back to that, but I seriously don’t get why You Rong got the short end of the stick like that. Anyway, I thought the actress did quite well–like some others did in here. She showed her emotions nicely.
  • Johnny Zhang (张峻宁) as Qiu Shan Jun (秋山君). Seriously, right from the start, I didn’t like him. It wasn’t because of his involvement in the triangle. But I’m known to not root for the too-good to be true guy. He was so bland and flaky that I found hard to relate to. People who are way above others/on top of the world would fall the hardest when meeting with obstacles and he indeed fell hard. The fact that he only got more interesting once he turned was really sad. I felt his saving point was the actor’s acting. Because he was so convincing in those scenes, the struggles and the unwillingness to let go of many things in his life. And then there went the reason why I was so mad at the writers. They managed to conjure up such a story for GSJ and couldn’t come up with an ounce of a decent plot for You Rong? Seriously? Even Nan Ke got some depth to her character–aside from the senseless jealousy.
  • Archie Kao (高聖遠) as Jin Yu Lu (金玉律). It was really interesting to see Archie in an ancient setting, lol. I wasn’t used to it but found his character likable. Archie didn’t disappoint in the acting department–obviously. I sometimes felt really bad for him for having to chase down Luo Luo time after time. Later, it was revealed their relationship wasn’t just that of master and servant but there was something deeper. He treated her like family and even promised to stay by her side in the future. Too bad he wasn’t able to fulfill that promise. It was really tragic with his death. I shed a few tears. One of the most tragic deaths of the series.
  • Lin Si Yi (林思意) as Little Black Dragon (小黑龙) aka Zhu Sha (朱砂). I loved her. She was hilarious. At times, she was so stubborn but she was quite likable. One of my favorite scenes was when she used one hand to hold her food and the other hand to lift the door for them to flee. It was awesome. She was after all a powerful dragon. The other character in here who was obsessed with food, lol. I don’t think I could blame her since she was trapped in that place for so long.
  • You Jing Ru (尤靖茹) as Qi Jian (七間). I didn’t care for her sect nor the rest of the members, but she was an exception. Not just because they were isolating Chang Sheng because they were taking their senior’s side, but how they were looking down on Chang Sheng and others in general. Anyway, she was different for me because–although she liked Qiu Shan Jun–but she had a likable persona to her since she appeared. It was like something I was looking forward to finding out more–or if she would appear more than some of the cast in here. It was a different character, so I was curious. She turned out to be quite righteous and reliable later. I didn’t just like her because she later followed them and aided them greatly–that was a bonus, but I liked how she was different from Nan Ke (aka someone else who liked QSJ but reacted differently). She wasn’t jealous of others who liked QSJ or the one QSJ liked. She was grounded in that way and was smart and determined in many areas. Although the others treated her with caution, wanting to protect her at times, but she proved herself to be quite capable.
  • Fu Li Jun (冯荔军) as Gou Han Shi (苟寒食). I had to make an exception from that one sect for him too. Sure, I got that he was worshiping QSJ too–it was hard not to, but I liked that he knew how to think for himself, not acting as a crowd to bully Chang Sheng. Initially, he wanted to show loyalty for his senior, but later interacting with Chang Sheng, he learned to respect Chang Sheng. I felt he was actually a true hero among the members of his sect, NOT QSJ. I’m not saying that because I sided with Chang Sheng regarding the other triangle, but I felt Gou Han Shi was a hidden hero, not showy but genuine.
  • Liu Kai Fei (刘凯菲) as Zhou Yu Ren (周玉人) aka Black Robe (黑袍). Zhou Du Fu’s younger sister. That was a major surprise. I meant with her relation to Zhou Du Fu. It was interesting how she collaborated with the Red Robe dude and then later wanted to switch sides. It made sense since they wanted to survive or at least take down whichever side they felt was more of a threat. But just found that really interesting. I had some suspicions during the scenes where they were in the tomb like she had a special relation to Zhou Du Fu but didn’t realize it was that close.

Others:

  • Eric Tsang (曾志偉) as Taoist Ji (計道人) aka Shang Xing Zhou (商行舟). Chang Sheng’s master. I thought he was a funny master, considering how it was Eric and all. But I felt he totally played Chang Sheng major time. Yes, he seemed to have his reasons back then, but it was sooo messed up to inflict such tragedies into Chang Sheng’s life. But I guessed since he had no one, it was so easy to influence and change his life however. I felt Chang Sheng was already so forgiving with the situation. I wasn’t grateful that he sided with them later and not with his junior. I felt it was overdue that he did something.
  • Fu Jia (付嘉) as Yu Ren (余人). Chang Sheng’s senior, the real son of the Holy Empress. I seriously didn’t think much of him so it was a surprise that he turned out to be the real son. I didn’t mean I looked down on him or anything. I liked that he was Chang Sheng’s good senior and always supported and encouraged Chang Sheng on throughout. However, I thought he was just another character. Well played.
    • Liu Ruo Gu (刘若谷) as Childhood Yu Ren (幼年余人).
  • Wang Ce (王策) as White Emperor (白帝). Luo Luo’s father, also the king of the demon clan.
  • Gong Bei Bi (龚蓓苾) as White Queen (白后). Luo Luo’s mother, also the queen of the demon clan.
  • Xue Jia Ning (薛佳凝) as Mo Yu’s mother (莫雨母亲).
  • Zhai Tian Lin (翟天临) as Zhou Du Fu (周独夫). Interesting character yet there were many things I still wanted to know about him.
  • Ren Shan (任山) as Tian Hai Cheng Wu (天海承武). Tian Hai You Xue’s older brother. Didn’t think much of him except he was there to cause conflicts.
  • Que Zhe Ming (曲哲明) as Tian Hai Ya Er (天海牙儿). Tian Hai Cheng Wu’s son, Tian Hai You Xue’s nephew. I felt his character was as useless as his father. It didn’t really contribute anything except side dramas.
  • Quan Pei Lun (权沛伦) as Guan Fei Bai (關飛白). It was indeed a shocker for him when his senior turned and killed him, which he realized wasn’t intentional but it was too late.
  • Xiao Yu Liang (肖宇梁) as Zhuang Huan Yu (莊換羽). I didn’t care for him throughout, considering how he was super jealous of Chang Sheng and still dared to act all righteous. He was a coward and despicable. So it was strange to see him trying to help Tang Tang that one time and then died in the conflict. It was strange. Did he repent when I blinked? Because by that time, I was getting really impatient to see the series wrap up.
  • Maggie Siu (邵美琪) as Xun Mei (荀梅). Short appearance, but sort of interesting to see.
  • Wang Gang (王岗) as Tang Qiu  (唐秋). Tang Tang’s father. Mixed feelings.
  • Zhang Jia Ding (张嘉鼎) as Tang Hai (唐海). Tang Tang’s adopted brother. I didn’t like him at all. It didn’t matter what his excuses were and his actions throughout. He didn’t gain any sympathy from me. It was sort of funny seeing how Tang Tang kicked him to Kingdom Come, lol.
  • Hao Shuai (郝帅) as Xiao De (小德). A general of the demon clan, wanted to marry Luo Luo. I was suspicious of him at times. Or because of his mysterious nature. But anyway, I guessed it was all right. At least he didn’t cause trouble or linger too long.
  • Yu Yang (于洋) as Shuang Er (霜兒). You Rong’s servant girl. Couldn’t really like her either although I know she couldn’t really be blamed since she can’t really control her own life.
  • He Zhong Hua (何中华) as Emperor of Zhou Dynasty (太宗). Only seen briefly at the beginning of the series and soon passed away.
  • Gao Yang (高洋) as Goddess of the demon clan (神女). A somewhat important role that influenced both Chang Sheng and Luo Luo’s destinies later.
  • Wu Ze Jin Xi (武泽锦熙) as Medicine Furnace Boy (药炉童子). Hilarious. I enjoyed his scenes. He was what made some of the scenes light up even more.

Likes:

  • Cast. The majority of the cast did quite well.
  • The music. Always loved listening to Zhang Jie for theme songs so it was enjoyable for me. The rest of the soundtrack wasn’t bad either. It fitted with the series in general.
  • The majority of the friendships/bonds in here. Although some characters I cared for more than others, I had to admire them for their loyalty and support when things mattered.

Dislikes:

  • Flashbacks. Seriously, this is the problem with the majority of the series nowadays. Once again, I loved the music and liked hearing the songs. But I found at times, the flashbacks were unnecessary–except to promote the songs and possibly extend the length.
  • Length/Pace. Seriously, flashbacks contributed to the problem. On top of that, they didn’t know how to focus on the right story.
  • Organization. It was a mess. The jump back and forth between scenes wasn’t well planned. I meant there were some subplots that dragged on and on, then later it jumped to another subplot. It made us forgot what in the world happened with the other one. I wouldn’t want them to jump so dizzily from one scene to the next but at times when they show what was happening here vs another, it was really slow. Then at another time, they just glossed over essential details.

Recommended? I think it’s considered average. It could be a good series, but the length killed it. It should have been 35 episodes. Because of the reasons I listed above, the length was unbearable in many ways.

The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber 2018

Yes, someone finally went through with this one although there were rumors of a certain someone doing it for years. I was glad it wasn’t going to be that person. Anyhow, I got curious, of course, so I looked it up after seeing some stills floating around on Weibo. It seemed a tad more promising. The director of this production is Jeffrey Chiang, the same director for the recent Legend of the Condor Heroes. This is supposedly 50 episodes, but not confirmed.

They just started filming recently after the blessing ceremony so only some of the stills were released. If you want to stalk them, go here.

Anyway, Joseph Zeng (曾舜晞) will be portraying the main lead, Zhang Wu Ji (張無忌).

Yukee Chen (陈钰琪) will be Zhao Min (趙敏).

Bambi Chu (祝绪丹) is Zhou Zhi Ruo (周芷若).

Kabby Hui (許雅婷) as Xiao Zhao (小昭).

Cao Xi Yue (曹曦月) is Yin Li (殷離) aka Zhu Er (蛛兒).

Sun An Ke (孙安可) will be Yang Bu Hui (楊不悔).

Zhang Wu Ji’s father, Zhang Cui San (張翠山), will be portrayed by Ethan Li (李东学).

Zhang Wu Ji’s mother, Yin Su Su (殷素素) will be portrayed by Maggie Chen (陈欣予).

He Zi (黑子), seemed recently in numerous new Jin Yong adaptations, will be portraying Xie Xun (謝遜) aka The Golden Haired Lion King (金毛獅王) aka Zhang Wu Ji’s godfather. His hair looks super orange here, lol.

Yang Ming Na (杨明娜) will be portraying Xiao Zhao’s mother, Dai Qi Si (黛綺絲) aka Purple Dress Dragon King (紫衫龍王) aka Golden Flower Granny (金花婆婆).

Lin Yu Shen (林雨申) will be portraying Yang Bu Hui’s father, Yang Xiao (楊逍), supposedly known to be one of the two most handsome gentlemen of the Ming Cult.

The other most handsome gentleman of the Ming Cult is Fan Yao (范遙), portrayed by Zong Feng Yan (宗峰岩). He had to disfigure himself to go undercover in the Mongolian forces so the picture above reflected that part of the plot.

Louis Fan (樊少皇) will be portraying Xie Xun’s master, Cheng Kun (成昆) aka Yuan Zhen (圓真). Omg, he looks too goofy these days to take on such a role. (Fun fact: Ken Chang was Zhang Cui San in the previous version of HSDS. The reason I mentioned that was because Ken and Louis had become good friends after working in Chu Liu Xiang together, and even went on to collaborate in several more projects together.)

Wang Bao Bao (王保保), Zhao Min’s brother, will be portrayed by Ewen Sun (孙亦凡).

The guy who was really obsessed with Zhu Zhi Ruo, Song Qing Shu (宋青書) aka Song Yuan Qiao (宋遠橋)’s son, will be portrayed by Zhao Chao Ren (张超人).

Guess what? Kathy Chow will be in here as Abbess Mie Jue (滅絕師太), Zhu Zhi Ruo’s master. What’s soooo special about it? She portrayed Zhou Zhi Ruo in Steve Ma’s version of HSDS ages ago.

And last but not least, the awesome Zhang San Feng (張三丰) portrayed by Wang De Shun (王德顺).

I’ll stop here until people update with new stills. But I’m willing to see what else. Hey, I’m curious.

*All images were collected around the net hence belonging to their rightful owners.