The Rough Ride

I finally watched this series though I have it on my to-watch list awhile back. Watching this series somehow affected me more than I thought. Possibly because both Barbara Yung and Susanna Au Yeung passed away already. Not to mention Anita Mui, who sang the main theme so beautifully. There were many moments that I got teary-eyed, not because of the plot, but because of seeing old faces.

Anyway, back to the plot. At first, I thought TVB was going the daring route–because they rarely do that, mostly safe within their traditional shells as not to upset the viewers. However, I was wrong. What do I mean? I thought they were letting Lau Dan and Ha Yu portray a couple who was raising an adopted child and trying to survive in society, especially one might not be accepting them. It seemed that way with some details at the beginning. Even when they were trying to explain at the police station after that one time getting into a fight and the police officers were trying to get them to tell their story. I thought from their hesitation, the whole fighting over Jian Hong’s mother was a made-up story. Yet it seemed like it was true except for some details that were never clarified because the plot didn’t want to focus there. Even Zhou Rong’s mother was chiding him for staying with Zou Zhang You all these years–when he came home that one time to visit her after another dispute with the latter. Seriously, I was wrong. That was okay though since they had to move on, but I felt the plot was scattered everywhere thus causing details to be muddled throughout. I liked it that they were moving back and forth among different characters, but I didn’t like it that they were so inconsistent with different characters at times. It was frustrating, to say the least.

Main Cast:

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

Supporting:

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

Others:

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

So, after all that rant, how was it overall? I thought Tony and Barbara Yung were cute together. Even though my mom mentioned that Barbara looked older than him, but I thought they were still cute. (Note, my mom loved Barbara too so it wasn’t like she was picking on her.) If the tragedy didn’t occur, I wonder if they had collaborated more for future series. It was one of those what-ifs in life. Second favorite couple in here must be Chun Wong and Bonnie Wong because they made me feel hopeful about humanity in general in the series’ world–at least. Aside from that, I felt that Susanna and Lau Dan weren’t that bad of a couple but their triangle involving Ha Yu really dragged the pace at one point and made me feel frustrated with the two men’s childish antics. Though I found it interesting that Susanna and Lau Dan also paired up in ATV’s The Ghostbuster Gang (捉鬼家族) years later, but I had watched that one first.

What about Ray Lui and Barbara Chan? I felt their characters ruined it for enjoying their chemistry–if at all. I got it that Shao Wen later realized with worrying for Tian Wei that she did love him, etc. (That was near the ending that she had the conversation with Jian Hong in the hospital during her mother’s operation.) Yet I didn’t like their initial start or the in-between at all. I didn’t like the emotional tortures that she had to go through with his pestering (and it was like how I mentioned it was with Bi Hua being pestered by that one guy as well). The fact that the assault scene happened and also bordering on rape (it wasn’t shown so I didn’t want to assume). I’m talking about that one time he was super frustrated and wanted to get her to talk BUT ended up force kissing her and she was terrified and yelled for him to stop and then the scene just jumped to the next day that she seemed to accept him. It was a terrible plot device and it totally threw his character toward the hateful zone for me, even if it wasn’t before. I didn’t like that the writers used that type of setup for the characters to eventually get together and forced her to re-think. I already said that above when discussing their characters, but I felt like I need to put it here once again. The scriptwriters were downplaying assault and/or rape, not taking it seriously at all. What was even more terrible was how Tian Wei kept uttering out that she didn’t have to love him but couldn’t stop him from loving her. He could love her, BUT directly attacking her like that and forcing her? Even if the world was different back then, it still didn’t make it right AND I don’t have to accept it regardless. I thought it was best if they let the characters take it slowly and understand each other instead of forcing her like that. That scene was so traumatizing that it left a very bad impression on him throughout. The ending had a better setup. It seemed lame that she accepted him for saving her mother, but it wasn’t so since she realized when he disappeared that she cared for him. Why didn’t they go with that approach first? I didn’t like it either that there was plot inconsistency with people assuming they were together just because he liked her–at first. Then they dragged her character through the mud with her getting in-between Jian Hong and Bi Hua just to downplay Tian Wei’s assault scene–or all the things he did in general toward her.

Anyway, there were gaps and inconsistencies at various points (as I said at the beginning of the review), like how some characters already knew each other or already got introduced yet was expected to be introduced again later. Or one of those like they seemed to have a gap. Other things, I already mentioned above so do not want to be too repetitive. But what was too obvious was the aqua/green dress with pink and yellow rims around the neck Barbara Yung wore at one episode near the beginning ended up being Barbara Chan’s sleepwear near the end. It was hilarious really.

What was fun to watch about this series that I have to admit was the majority of the cast–whether major or minor–were linked to the Condor trilogy one way or another. However, I still wouldn’t recommend as much for the plot. To me, it was one of Tony’s weaker series because I think the majority of Tony’s old series was quite good or considered good overall. It was just some details that were inconsistent and frustration that I didn’t like it as much. It wasn’t the worse series of back then, because if you’d seen my reviews of my back-watching, some were worse.

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The Smiling, Proud Wanderer 1984: Theme Song

*NOTE*: Video got taken down already, I’ll try to find another version later.

Because of all the hype lately, I just have to hunt down for one of the old versions, LOL! Since people were wandering about music (the heart of the novel), so I hunt around for the song of an old version as well. I just love the song so much. The song said it all. So jiang hu. In fact, I’m tempted to go watch again. Anyway, the song is ‘Xiao Ao Jiang Hu’ (the title of the series) and it was performed by Johnny Yip and Frances Yip.

Twilight Investigation

I never thought my TVB drama of the year would actually start with this one. Serious! Well, I blame my sister because she was skipping around to watch her favorite Shek Sau, LOL! Though it couldn’t be counted for being new as of this year because I sort of step out of anything HK related for a while. But anyway, how was it? Average actually though I did watch from episode 1 to 20 without skipping around. Yes, I was that fair though I felt some parts could do without and others could be developed upon. But what do I expect when it’s a TVB drama, eh? Moving on, right?

The Goods:

  • Shek Sau as Yip Kwok Cheung (葉國昌). I don’t know. I just can’t stop laughing at him. He’s what they call “smart at work, dumb at home” type of person. ‘Cause honestly, he was so pro and cool when he worked on the cases but when he was at home, he was like so out of it, so lost. He had to take care of half of the people’s mess in here and seemed to let others take advantage of him. I wonder if the idea with the way he dressed was incorporated in so it showed the differences when he was at work or home. He was so slick at work with the hair up and all, but his hair was all ruffled up and his clothes laid-back at home. Well, it would make sense since most of us are that way, but the way he let Ho Yan took advantage of him was so pitiful.
  • Raymond Wong as Chow Ka Sing (周家昇). I’ve been enjoying his performances lately. It wasn’t because he was getting better roles (kind of but it has nothing to with the factor that would get me to like someone more or less), but more like I’m getting used to his way of acting. He sure surprised me with his funny side. Okay, he was funny in A Great Way to Care as well but it was different. He was acting so macho and all in here yet could be a big baby at times as well. The fact that they add even more to his personality made it addicting. The scene between him and Billy with his wanting to shoo Billy away was so touching, and then the part where Billy brought some food and his favorite drink for him was equally touching. (Sometimes it makes you wonder that bonds between two people transcend that of the bloodline. After all, Billy did live with him throughout all these years. It’s hard to just cut off the relation like that.)
  • Queenie Chu as Mandy. I wasn’t sure if I would like her in here though I did enjoy her other past performances. Yet I guess it would be safe to say that she was extremely misled at one point. She can’t be too perfect, right? Sad that it happened yet I’ll let it slide since the family of three reunited again.
  • Raymond and Queenie as a couple. I didn’t know if it was going to work or not. But I found it refreshing. It was actually better than some of his past co-stars. I’m so serious here. I could see sparks between them and then there was the whole feeling with their family.
  • Johnson Lee as Wang Siu Fu (王小虎). At first, I thought he was portraying some typical bad guy again. I’m serious. I didn’t read spoilers this time and it seemed suspicious. Yet there was this different story about it. His strong sense of loyalty to his boss sort of reminded me of his character in Split Second. But I was glad it led into a different path–or it would end in the usual, cliche route. Anyway, I think Johnson has a knack for comedy without trying too hard. He could keep a straight face while saying one of the funniest lines ever. Honestly, I couldn’t stop laughing because of how passive he was while he was saying those lines. It was of course intended for sarcastic humor–and he succeeded. (At least I thought so.)
  • Oceane Zhu as Bing Bing (冰冰). I like seeing her being the chameleon at times throughout different cases. She could be seductive or serious or cool at any moment. Cool character? Not sure because of that so it helped her acting more but not bad at all. I will hold my judgment since it is just my first series of her. (Or so I could remember.)
  • Johnson and Oceane. I’m a sucker for such a mysterious story. LOL! But they were quite cute together without trying too hard. One of the funniest parts with them was seeing how she had to rescue him out of the sticky situation when he got them busted, and then he had to stand aside and hold her purse while she fought off those men. LOL! Priceless! Oh yeah, the part near the end where she hired bodyguards stationed at the door to protect him was so funny as well. Gotta watch out for her man, eh? The most ironic thing was how he used to be in a gang so he should be able to fend for himself, right?
  • Power Chan as 977. Always like Power and another enjoyable performance. He made the scene even more lively with his enthusiasm and really brought out his character at various points with his charm.
  • Lau Dan as So Kam Lam (蘇鑑林). He was just around at times. Yet he got some more screen time in one of the cases to develop his character even more. Let’s just say the man hasn’t lost it. Kudos!
  • The bond between 977 (Power) and Uncle Kam (Lau Dan). I really liked it that 977 was so loyal to Uncle Kam, always supporting him and following him to different places even if the old man can’t see him (at least not the majority of the series). Their talk in prison was one of those memorable scenes between them, so touching. (Yeah, I’m a sucker for that as well.)

Other Notable Performances:

  • Lam King Kong as Tse Po Chuen (謝保全). I always liked him though he was in the background most of the time, portraying various roles. He doesn’t disappoint this time either. Quite convincing as the mentally challenged person. (And he did get a part where he played the possessed person–aka the part where Power’s character, 977, entered his body.)
  • Ram Tseung as Mok Chun Chung (莫鎮忠). I swear, I was so convinced he was innocent and got framed. Then I was so taken with the possessed part that I didn’t realize his character was actually responsible for the fire after all. He sure did it with acting all innocent and kind, but transferred to a revenge-fused madman. AND then out of control ghost. Or should we call him a ghoul? Or monster? Since the regular ghost (according to the to the plot) learn things bit-by-bit, not advance so much like him when he turned and was able to cause so much harm–due to the hatred that was inside him.
  • Jimmy Au as Cheng Nam (鄭南). Okay, he only appeared a bit throughout flashbacks and I’m so cheating here to put him in. Yet I found it somewhat refreshing to watch him in such a role instead of another typical villain. Maybe the story did help.

Torn:

  • Wong Hei as Encore. I guess I like him. Yet I can’t decide since the later parts ruined it somewhat with his mushy scenes with Linda. I don’t doubt his performance. But I think the plot ruined his character. The finale of the ending scenes leading up to his character’s death brought the story back on track. But that was that.

Somewhat Strange/Surprising:

  • Shek Sau and Rebecca? Honestly? Have they ever paired up in the past before? I’m just wondering since I did not watch every single TVB series. Kind of strange to take in at first yet I guess it’s not too bad because they do match to some extent that did not make it too odd in here.

ODD TO DEATH:

  • Wong Hei and Linda!!! What? Okay, I’m not picking on his age. Or hers. I do like older man and younger woman pairing to some extent. And I often leave the option open since some of the collaborations have surprised me in the past. But I find it really odd with this two together. I rather they (the scriptwriters) not include the romance part between these two. But I guess it’s always typical TVB to romanticize everything.

OUTRAGEOUS:

  • They demoted Ben Wong? Like again? I guess he wouldn’t want to be the goody-two shoe for too long or he would get rusty with his acting or be tossed into just one category. Yet I was getting used to seeing him trying out some roles such as the humorous dude, the cool cop, the somewhat clueless guy, etc. What happened? Is this going to turn into a pattern? Hope not. But he was convincing as the calm, patient boyfriend and father at first–and then showing his true colors later.

FEELING ROBBED:

  • How Siu Ho (Johnson) and Bing Bing (Oceane) got together. What? I know how they got together through some minor scenes and some of their recounts later on. Yet I felt robbed. I want more of the story development. If they had cut out some random/mushy scenes between Wong Hei and Linda, then it might work out. YES, mean, but I rather see more scenes of Johnson and Oceane. There could be more room to develop.
  • How in the world did that creep reporter get together with Leng Mui? I’m so serious here. I didn’t see that coming. I know surprises happen but it has to make sense. He seemed like a creep at that one gathering along with his jerk friends. What changed? Well, he could dump his girlfriend, etc YET I’m not totally convinced. I know I said I’m not into gift-wrapping and some things are good being left with some mystery and staying unexplained BUT this isn’t one of the cases that I could let slide.

SHORT CONCLUSION: Cases are nice to watch and some relations are fun to see BUT the main couple’s romance kind of suck.

Recommended? Kind of. Don’t take it seriously though since it’s mostly a comedy. (DUH, RIGHT?)

The Bund

I must admit this was a true classic despite its many flaws and the dragged out of the storyline at some parts. (So much for praising it, eh?) Anyway, to move on towards the positive side, I must say that the acting with both Chow Yun Fat and Ray Lui were awesome. I could only say average for Angie Chiu. Yes, I admit that she was one of the prettiest actresses back then but that didn’t mean her acting was awesome in series since I could always see the same type of expressions on her face for each role she portrayed. Yes, I understood the hardships and conflicts that her character went through, but could only say average acting for her part. The guys–portraying both roles of sworn brothers and later arch-enemies and back into being sworn brothers in the end really brought up the grayness in society at that time period in the story itself. The morality of it all didn’t lay in so thick like some of the recent dramas, but it brought more liveliness in the story itself because in such types of time, conflicts arose more and it was more of survival the fittest than having the time to question things. Perhaps, Chow Yun Fat’s character, Hui Man Keung, was the most virtuous among all the characters combined within those triads and groups since he had a policy of “resorting to violence only when there were no other alternatives.” It was like a world that they lived in was so chaotic and complex that there were no clear boundaries drawn in. (Come on now, even the cops themselves were having a hand in the whole thing.)

Although I wasn’t impressed by Angie’s acting at the other scenes in the series, I must say she had great chemistry with Chow Yun Fat as an overall and maybe that was why the series became so popular also. (And of course because of Ray Lui’s collaboration with them both also.)

Kent Tong actually got me impressed with his character for once and he was a good guy at the beginning, wanting to help society but was forced to mix in with the others so he could acquire the necessary power to stop most of the illegal activities. He failed as a cop but was more successful after joining forces with some other gang–which was so ironic but understandable at that point. It was such a tragic but sooo subtle how his character died near the end. It was so unpredictable–although understandable–that he shall die since he had quite a major role in it. The most ironic thing was Liu Kai Chi’s character made it through until the very end. Of course, the story was left untold on purpose toward the end without any narrative telling us what happened to Ting Lik–but could be foreseen since no gang could rule over the rest forever. They could only do so at a certain point in time.

Maybe the most unpredictable part was seeing Hui Man Keung died at the very end of the series. That was such a surprise since we would think Ting Lik would die first–considering how Hui Man Keung was more clever and really knew his way around. Who’d thought he died in such way? It was one of the most tragic death scenes of all although very fast and horrifying at the same time. The second most tragic death must be that of Mei Man because she was one of the most important persons to Hui Man Keung and probably a turning point to the story since his mind no longer felt like fighting for anything anymore. He did think of getting rid of that one triad boss, but her death caused him not to want to take over or fight for power any longer. She was his best friend among all the people he knew in his life. She was there at the beginning when he was still a scholar trying to fight for the rights of his country; she was there for him when he needed her the most when he first came to Shanghai; she was there for him when he had decided to live for himself (since he felt he already did enough for his country and paid heavily for it); she was there for him when he wanted to seek revenge upon the one who killed his family; and she was also there for him even if she knew he chose the wrong path. In short, she was the supportive figure behind him all along through his hardships.

I don’t want to spoil too many details of the series itself so I’m just mentioning some parts worth bringing up here. Other than that, great appearances from Au Yeung Pui San as the Japanese assassin, Michael Miu and Felix Wong as cameos during different points of the story. It was very funny to see them appearing just a little bit. (But understandable since it wasn’t their time yet.)

Posted (on Xanga): January 10, 2009

Re-posted: Friday, May 7th, 2010

Where The Legend Begins

I must say that I have never read Three Kingdoms properly so I do not know how accurate it was. But it was not that hard to tell that Cao Cao was supposed to be the villain. That was interesting to see that they showed him as an honorable person to his sons at the beginning. It also presented a different perspective on the story of the Three Kingdoms.

This focused around the Cao household and what roughly happened during the wars among Cao Cao, Sun Quan, and Liu Bei. They briefly mentioned some historical context to move the story forward but Sun Quan and Liu Bei never appeared, which was understandable since if the others were to appear, it would’ve stolen the spotlight from Cao Cao and therefore defeating the purpose of revolving the story around Cao Cao in the first place. But they managed to put in the famous ‘Battle of Red Cliff’ (Chi Bi) and how badly Cao Cao was defeated, causing his downfall (or at least made him lose the will to fight any longer).

This story began with Yan Fuk’s dream of Lok Sun being punished for causing the rift between her husband and this other god. It was all a misunderstanding but Lok Sun still got punished and the other two gods were spared of the punishment. (Because the female population was always responsible for the male population’s actions, right? Sarcasm and insert major eye roll here.) Yan Fuk was actually the reincarnation of Lok Sun.

Yan Fuk suffered the same fate as Lok Sun because she was stuck between two men–who were brothers (and incidentally Cao Cao’s sons). Yan Fuk’s only fault was that of her beauty. If that was even supposed to be a fault at all. Even Cao Cao himself had fallen for Yan Fuk at one time though Yan Fuk skillfully persuaded him that he was her respectable elder since he was her father’s friend. He finally thought it through and decided to resolve the conflicts that his two sons were going through to win Yan Fuk’s heart. Yan Fuk, of course, favored Cho Chi Kin (portrayed by Steven Ma) from the start because of their shared love for poetry and the likes. They had this tacit understanding and complemented each other very well. Chi Kin’s older brother, Cho Chi Woon, claimed from the beginning that women were trouble and those beauties only destroy men (and the country in general). He even wanted to kill Yan Fuk at first but when he finally met face to face with her, he immediately fell in love with her. That led to the conflicts between him and his brother.

At first, Cao Cao wanted Chi Kin to succeed him as the leader of the Cao/Cho household, but he later reconsidered and changed his mind, letting Chi Woon be the leader. He never knew that Chi Woon was not using his own talents to win over Chi Kin for the power. Others failed in vain in convincing him that there was some stronger power behind Chi Woon helping him. They were right and that was the pretentious Si Ma Yi. Chi Kin did not want to fight with his brother but he was driven to the wall with his brother’s despicable/underhanded method of winning that he was pulled into the conflict in gaining power as well. (Not to mention how he knew that only he could help the citizens live a better life after gaining power. Chi Woon was not a good choice where citizens were concerned because he would do anything to gain power. Chi Woon was like their father in that way.) Cao Cao also knew that Chi Woon was not the best choice so he wanted to marry Yan Fuk to Chi Woon so she could be his adviser and guide him in the right direction. However, he never realized there were other parties and forces involved so his plan was crumbling apart. Aside from Si Ma Yi’s constant schemes to get rid of Chi Kin’s allies, there was also Yan Fuk’s supposedly good sister Kwok Huen stirring things up to sabotage Yan Fuk due to jealousy.

There were too many things going on at the same time that it was hard to explain. You just have to watch it to know what really happened and understand the conflicts better. Who was the big winner in the end? Si Ma Yi, of course, since Cao Cao failed to listen to the others and gave too much power to Chi Woon that when he finally found out about Chi Woon’s beyond cure state, it was too late.

Aside from all those political conflicts and side romance stories, I found several scenes memorable–touching even, which were:

  • The part where Lau Sik Sik died. I actually cried at that part because of her tragic ending. She was an orphan who was brought into the brothel to be trained as a singer and later was recruited by Cao Cao’s first wife to fight against Yan Fuk. Yet, she was not a petty person. She knew and understood that Yan Fuk was a talented person and someone whom she could befriend since they shared some common interests. I felt that she was more on par with Yan Fuk and could be considered as the good sister than that of Kwok Huen. (Since although Kwok Huen used to be from a rich family and her beauty was stressed at various times but she could not be compared to Sik Sik’s elegance or grace.) The conflicts between Cao Cao’s wives had caused Sik Sik’s death. Not to mention how Kwok Huen had sided with Cao Cao’s second wife to try and replace Sik Sik by copying Sik Sik’s singing style. Sik Sik, like Yan Fuk, only wanted to live a simple life–but it was impossible with the circumstances surrounding them. Priscilla was a good choice for the role and her voice matched one of those ancient singers.
  • The part where Yeung So died. Yes, death was an unavoidable thing around the Cao household since Cao Cao was a very suspicious person, always thinking that others were plotting against him if they did anything out of the ordinary–according to him. Yeung So’s death was caused by his stubbornness and unwilling to let go and some traces of arrogance that had made others feel threatened by his talents thus wanting to get rid of him. Perhaps he should’ve listened to his master before taking actions or at least be more cautious toward what was going on. However, he should not be blamed in totality since he was desperate to help his good friend, Chi Kin. In fact, he was a loyal friend. He had never shown jealousy toward Chi Kin or Yan Fuk considering how others had compared them to him with their ability to solve various problems. His death scene was really tragic considering how they showed Chi Kin and Yan Fuk remembering back to the past about their group of friends going to the inn to drink and talk about various matters. Also, the poem he uttered out before his death and the song version came on accompanying the whole scene was very well done. A very touching moment. (Not to mention the letter that Yeung So left behind for Chi Kin.) Though lack of screen time (or what it seemed like), Gilbert did very well in portraying his character with his brilliant side and the somewhat stubborn side as well.
  • The part where Chui Fau died. Though ironic since she was an annoying character throughout with her petty antics in trying to get rid of Yan Fuk yet she turned out all right in the end. Her only fault was her stupidity since she did not understand Cao Cao’s plans yet only wanted to support her husband throughout. It was really pathetic and beyond frustrating that when Chi Kin was telling Cao Cao how he did not like Chui Fau but Cao Cao did not listen. He brushed it off and proceeded with their marriage anyway. However, when he discovered why it was a big mistake in letting Chui Fau marry Chi Kin, he immediately sought to eliminate the obstacle (or so he thought) for Chi Kin. I felt that it was very ironic since Chi Kin finally learned to accept her and she finally learned how to become a good wife (minus the whole high dreams of wanting to be a queen one day). What was even more tragic was leaving behind their son without a mother. I felt that scene was equally memorable with the other two death scenes since it highlighted the conflicts and enhanced the rift between Chi Kin and his father. She did not deserve to die however stupid she was.
  • The part where Yan Fuk died. It was sad yet frustrating at the same time though I knew from the beginning that she would die. It was probably her fate and if tying in with her Lok Sun identity, it could be explained that her time in the human world was done and she had served out her sentence after learning all the things about the human world. Yet it was giving Kwok Huen and Si Ma Yi the satisfaction of her death since they eliminated the biggest obstacle of their lives.

What I found the most frustrating and pathetic was Chi Woon knew from the start that Chi Kin and Yan Fuk was the real couple yet he kept wanting to win over Chi Kin and marry Yan Fuk. Yet afterward, he would blame Yan Fuk for being unfaithful when she had tried her best to make it work–because of what she could not change with the forced marriage. It was probably Cao Cao’s fault also for thinking that he could just plan anything and it would go accordingly. However, I just felt it was really dumb to blame everything on Chi Kin and Yan Fuk when Chi Woon was the one being unreasonable and unfaithful throughout. Chi Woon never loved Yan Fuk to begin with, he was only obsessed with her beauty and how badly he wanted to win over Chi Kin. (If not, why would he fall for Kwok Huen’s schemes?) But in a way, it emphasized Cao Cao’s downfall and how his family would never gain power for a long time so that was their deserved fate. But I felt Chi Kin and Yan Fuk were the victims of time, considering how they only wanted to have a simple life yet were forced into such conflicts.

What I found the most admirable was the friendship among Chi Kin, Yan Fuk, Shik Shik, and Yeung So. They knew each other’s talents and capabilities and shared interests thus becoming good friends yet they seemed to live in the wrong time (as mentioned above). They were so comfortable with one another and was really happy at that one inn where they would meet and talk about various topics, composing poems, or drink to their friendship. Their bond was what made Shik Shik and Yeung So’s deaths even more tragic and touching. No one was able to stop it from happening, especially in Yeung So’s case. Shik Shik was unexpected. But Yeung So’s was predictable considering how he was taking such actions but he chose it anyway, knowing it would bring him trouble. The others did not have any power to prevent it from happening and could only witness it in frustration or sadness. The scene with Yan Fuk reminiscing about the past and Chi Kin practicing his swords skills while Yeung So was being transported to the appointed site for the beheading process reflected their state of emotions well. Each time, it was like the ones who were left behind would hurt more with continuing to carry on no matter how hard it was. It was like until the end that Chi Kin finally died as well that their bond finally broke. Though their story would probably remain behind with those who knew them.

What was a bit interesting and amusing all at once was the relationship between masters and servants in here for several cases. What I meant was Yan Fuk and Yau Seen versus Kwok Huen and Song Yau. Both servants were loyal to their masters but one out of gratitude and respect contrary to the other with blind trust/beliefs. It was interesting how Kwok Huen was able to brainwash Song Yau into helping her throughout with the various plots. It was ironic that Song Yau said Kwok Huen saved her so she would do anything to protect Kwok Huen yet if it wasn’t for Yan Fuk saving Kwok Huen in the first place, none of that would’ve happened. But Song Yau got what she deserved in the end for being so blind with helping Kwok Huen. I also felt that June was better in portraying her role so her character was more convincing and May Kwong was not as good so it was hard to understand how her character was becoming that way.

Acting? Honestly, Steven and Ada were the ones that I was really impressed with among the four main cast. Moses was all right but I thought he could not make me sympathize with him even when he was being underestimated by his father. I guess it was mostly due to the fact of his ironic character, stating that women were trouble but he just dived right into it and could not resist temptation and just turned around blaming them in the end. It was pathetic. And for some reason, I could not feel the bond between him and Steven as brothers but could feel more with Steven and Evergreen Mak’s. Maybe it was because how Chi Woon had always been so calculative (aka keeping scores) and had been silently jealous of Chi Kin that made it hard to see their brotherly bond. Yes, there were traces of their bonding with how they played that one game at the beginning of the series, but I felt it was always Chi Kin/Steven pulling the weight or effort to mend things with Chi Woon/Moses. Evergreen’s acting seemed stronger than Moses’ though he was not placed into one of the lead roles. He still delivered his part and made his loyalty toward Chi Kin/ Steven convincing and admirable. He was an honest person but he knew the importance of family–unlike Chi Woon who was blinded by jealousy. Perhaps, putting Moses alongside Steven was a bad idea since Steven would shine without trying. Ada probably looked more compatible with Moses than Steven (or what I thought of at the beginning) but Steven and Ada’s acting made up for it with their chemistry and interactions throughout. What about Sonija? Let’s just say that she did better in her recent roles. Because honestly, Sonija was what made it hard to see what was the fuss about her beauty. Maybe it was only Chi Woon who was blinded by Kwok Huen’s words and seduction method but there wasn’t anything important about her. Possibly that was why Kwok Huen was so jealous of Yan Fuk and wanted to get rid of her. Even Irene Wong did WAY better than Sonija in portraying her role. Although it was a different type of character considering their characters’ personalities, Sonija failed to capture the essence of the character thus making it unconvincing or show any signs of significance.

However frustrating that was, I still find it one of the better TVB series since it managed to capture an interesting side of the story. It was another perspective to consider since we were always told from the point of view of the other two famous figures, Sun Quan and Liu Bei. What I wanted to complain about was the makeup for the cast. The guys were all right but the girls were more noticeable. Except for Priscilla’s makeup, the rest of the female population seemed too pale or too old somehow. I’m not saying that they’re old, I’m just saying that the makeup made them look that way. All the female cast chosen were not ugly at all yet the makeup failed to bring out their beauty. Even though Ada looked stunning in her costumes but she still looked like she was too tired or something.