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The Drive of Life: 1/4 Mark

Yes, I made it through this mark and I think I should discuss about a certain matter before I blow up with people’s stupidity OR the messed up way everything seems to be in here. I was expecting much more, considering how the cast seemed strong. However, it just got worse and worse because they wanted to sacrifice everything for dramatic purposes that it was beyond pathetic. I’ll save the rest for later but I would like to discuss the whole idea of blaming Gigi Wong’s character, Hui Zhan Yan, for the death of Maggie Chan’s character, Wai Cheung Ping. Honestly? That was a low tactic. Though I admit that by telling Cheung Ping what actually happened that it drove her to commit suicide, but seriously, Cheung Ping did commit the crime, NOT like Zhan Yan influenced her to do it OR had anything to do with it in the first place. What the world was that? Making Zhan Yan a scapegoat for all the men’s terrible choices and/or decisions in here? Or like making Cheung Ping such a pitiful character to seek brownie points?
Okay, so Cheung Ping was dumped by Wah Man Hang so she was devastated and went and married some guy. But she started over (or supposedly later) and loved that guy for real YET he found out the reason behind her marrying him and went ballistic, taking it to the worse (aka abusing her). I think any man would be upset IF he found out that reason. (Some man eventually got over it but others don’t–and that was the case in here.) I DO NOT, let me repeat that, I DO NOT approve of the abusing going on. Just because he was hurt DID NOT mean he could inflict pain on her. I also understand why she was driven to insanity and eventually killed him. YET I found it messed up that the others were blaming Zhan Yan when she was trying to tell the truth of what actually happened. Cheung Ping–whether OR not she intended to start her life over–made a decision, SO she was responsible for her actions too. The consequences she had to face was brutal for her, BUT she still made those choices. AND then she just had to go kill herself since she was such a coward AND did not want to face the consequences of imprisonment (or worse). Therefore, Zhan Yan got hated on–at least only from Man Hang at this point (since the others did not know yet). (And yes, I do know that Cheung Ping did not blame anyone and felt really guilty for her crime SO she could not live with herself, considering how she killed the father of her child. BUT I still hated that it eventually became the reason for others to blame Zhan Yan.)
What was Zhan Yan supposed to do? Perhaps she should not have told it in that way OR perhaps try to find some other ways like saying that Cheung Ping had killed in self-defense AND she would’ve gotten off (not really but might take on a lighter sentence than that). But I do not know of Canadian laws well so I cannot say for sure on this one. YET I have to defend Zhan Yan because she was so shocked that her husband wanted to break the laws in order to get Cheung Ping out of trouble. What IF he got caught? Was the other guy reliable? Zhan Yan DID NOT have time to think long. It seemed to portray that she was not as intelligent as various characters in here SO she did the only thing she thought reasonable AND that she knew of to protect her husband and her family. How was she supposed to know the outcome was like that? Again, just because a certain someone DID NOT have the bravery to face the consequences of his/her past and/or actions, it DID NOT mean that it was right for others to point a finger at someone else.
I find it even more beyond madness to even cast doubts and/or some guilt toward Zhan Yan just because she was married to Man Hang. He was the one who was responsible for causing grief toward different parties, NOT her. She never knew of Cheung Ping’s existence until recently. (OR so we were told so far since I’m only on episode 22 and I wouldn’t know if TVB would throw some twist in there BUT I doubt Zhan Yan knew Cheung Ping beforehand.) Why did they (the script-writers) make it like Zhan Yan was at fault for marrying Man Hang (aka being the third party)? (She was BUT she DID NOT know SO it wasn’t like she used dirty tricks to get to him AND wronged Cheung Ping.)
Now that I’m on Man Hang’s case, I just remember something else even dumber. The misunderstandings and/or rip between Mang Hang and Man Hung. It was pathetic that Man Hung was always so defensive and was pissed off at Man Hang and blaming Man Hang for everything. I agree that Man Hang had been responsible for breaking Cheung Ping’s heart AND how he went and decided stuffs for them at times, BUT it was none of Man Hung’s business regarding Man Hang and Cheung Ping. I think the ultimate reason why there was a rip between their relationship in the first place was because of Man Hung’s unwilling to let go of the past AND it was more about the love and jealousy against Man Hang because of Cheung Ping than just the whole rant about “Man Hang deciding stuffs for people.” Man Hung was still sore that Cheung Ping picked Man Hang over him. (I would NOT blame Cheung Ping in this case since she had the right to choose who she wanted to be with.)
What made it even more pathetic was Man Hang never making up his mind about what he wanted either. Yes, he was experiencing some past memories, etc. YET it was pathetic that he should blame his wife for making the move (or being unreasonable at times–which she was a bit overboard BUT I can’t blame her fully). He felt guilty for not being able to help Cheung Ping, but what was that? He made it like he would help anyone else IF it was the same situation BUT it seemed to imply otherwise. It was pathetic to doubt him since he really care for the current family, BUT I find it pathetic that he shoved part of the fault to his wife too. IF he loved Cheung Ping soooo much, why did he sacrifice her back then AND now want to make up for it? IF he already made his decision, then MOVE ON. Or perhaps he was using his anger to mask for his own guilt. Whatever.
I’ll save the obstacles of the younger generation for some other time. Since I think it’s enough rants for this time.

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14 Blades

*WARNING*: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. If you DO NOT want to be spoiled, please DO NOT read. You have been warned.

Wow! I didn’t even expect much of it, considering how long it was I last seen a movie. I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much from all the cast. I thought that what was even better was having a decent plot to move the story along and then leaving a lot of time for fighting scenes. Of course there were romances too but it was only briefly and only existed between one couple in here and I was glad. They focused on the right elements so the whole movie did not drag at all.

Donnie Yen was great as always in his fighting sequences. It was an interesting collaboration between him and the rest of the cast. What I thought was interesting and found quite fascinating was having seen Donnie’s interactions with Vicki, Wu Zun, and Kate. Their relationships were very different yet each played an essential part to the story. It brought out his and their characters as well. There was no lack of screen time for anyone OR at least I thought it was relevant for the story and was not overdone.

So who was Donnie Yen really in here? Donnie portrayed Qing Long (青龍 aka Green Dragon), a leader of Jin Yi Wei (錦衣衛 – Cẩm Y Vệ), who possessed 14 blades. With those 14 blades, he had the power to off anyone to protect the emperor and defend the dynasty. All in all, it seemed like the best position. However, that was not easy since he was set up by Eunuch Jia Jing Zhong (賈精忠–who gave him the orders to kill Councilor Zhao Shen Yan) and betrayed by his own fellow guards (except for Bai Hu and Zhu Que who were killed off by Xuan Wu and Tuo Tuo respectively). However, he managed to escape and seek shelter elsewhere until he was able to recover the Imperial Seal (which was snatched from him while he was in the middle of confronting the councilor).

Vicki Zhao portrayed Qiao Hua (喬花), the daughter of Qiao Yong (喬永–whom was the head of the Righteous Escort Agency – 正義镖局). She encountered Qing Long when Qing Long arrived at the doorstep of their agency, offering them money for their service. This time, they had to safeguard him out of the city. It was not a problem since Qiao Yong was thinking of marrying his daughter off and was ready to set out with her within several days. After some corny jokes from Qiao Yong’s old friend–and some offering of money (of course), the group was able to pass since Qing Long was hidden inside the bride’s carriage. They found out Qing Long’s truth identity when they were ambushed in the woods. Qing Long took Qiao Hua as a hostage after fighting off all the guards and told Qiao Yong and his men to head east to divert attention from himself. They were to meet him at a village up ahead so he could return Qiao Hua to them unharmed. Along the way, Qiao Hua discovered that Qing Long was not a cruel or rough person liked it was led on at first. They exchanged some witty comments between each other at this one rest-stop and somehow explored more about each other along the way.

Wu Zun came into the picture when Qing Long and Qiao Hua arrived at the pre-planned village. He was seen spying on them from a distance at first. He was introduced as the leader of the Heavenly Eagles Clan (天鹰幫 aka Tian Ying Ban). He was actually the real World’s Number One Sabre (天下第一刀 aka Tian Xia Di Yi Dao), ‘Judge of the Desert’ (大漠判官 aka Da Mo Pan Guan), not like the impersonator of that one group who tried to rob Qiao Hua’s agency in the woods (and was also killed off by the guards awhile after). Anyway, he challenged Qing Long at the inn. It proved that they were a match for each other and Qing Long decided to join forces with them to go against the eunuchs, the guards, and Prince Qing (whom Qing Long found out had join forces with the eunuchs in an attempt to overthrow the emperor). In exchange for their help, Qing Long offered the golds that were transported by the guards. It was impossible and seemed too easy yet Qing Long convinced the Heavenly Eagles Clan that he wouldn’t go back on his words aka letting the clan have all the golds.

What was admirable about Da Mo Pan Guan was not only the fact that he kept his words to help Qing Long, but he even interfered with the battle–aiding Qing Long when Qing Long was surrounded by the guards. Qing Long took a quick glance at him before turning his cautious eyes back on Xuan Wu, asking, “Da Mo Pan Guan, don’t you just know how to rob?” He returned those words by uttering, “I love to rob, but I love fighting more.” Witty exchange. Probably their first time fighting alongside one another and it was also the last since Mr. Heavenly Eagles Clan’s Leader got killed off after saving Qiao Hua and sending her off with his last words to Qing Long.

Kate Tsui appeared at various points of the movie and was known as the adopted-daughter of Prince Qing. Her named was Tuo Tuo (脱脱) and she was one powerful fighter all right. She had major scenes with both Donnie and Wu Zun. The fact that she was responsible for both guys’ death was even more chilling. It was hard to swallow but somehow that was some of the most powerful scenes. Tuo Tuo was not only skillful but she was so chillingly scary. She was one of the most powerful fighters in here yet in a way she was very pitiful because she was only her adopted-father’s tool. She was only a killing machine. She ended up paying a price for all her dirty works. It was mentioned that Prince Qing had shed tears upon hearing about Tuo Tuo’s death but was it true? Not impossible but what was the point after she was dead? Or was it because he trusted her so he bestowed upon her shoulders of such duties? Something to think about really.

What was really cool about the whole thing was the amount of gadgets each character possessed and/or specialized in. Vicki did not get to use as much since she did not have many fighting scenes though Qiao Hua’s bravery and intelligence made up for it. Among the other three characters, Donnie’s Qing Long beat the other two by miles since he had 14 blades to begin with. There was also the whole idea with his wire that he manipulated to move from one location to others or hang loosely high above. He also had some of the other weapons inside the blade box, which was equally useful and not to be taken lightly by anyone–friends or enemies.

Wu Zun came in second with Da Mo Pan Guan’s razor sharp saber, lethal flying double saber, and hidden little arrows strapped on his leg. There was also golden coins that he used as weapon, flicking it in the air–saving Qiao Hua that one time from her near death experience. Then the last one could be said as part of his clan’s weapon, which was the special bow and explosive arrows they shoot out to inflict damage from a distance. And did anyone realize how his image sort of looks like Jack Sparrow? (Okay, that was just me since it was a big difference between being a pirate and some person famous for roaming the sands.)

Kate’s Tuo Tuo came in third with only two gadgets–her long flexible rope and the sharp stick she used to strike at her enemies. Because she was extremely skillful, the lack of gadgets did not decrease her powerful stances either.

The other cast were as great though they only appeared at various points. Damian Lau was Councilor Zhao Shen Yan so he only appeared at the beginning and the little of the ending part because he was imprisoned for the majority of the movie. Still, that was a relief that he was alive and was able to reunite with his family. Law Kar Ying was portraying Eunuch Jia Jing Zhong–who taught Xuan Wu about the importance of success and only others were able to see that part of the achievement, not all the means that one used to reach that point; and was ironically killed by Xuan Wu for that same philosophy. Sammo Hung was Prince Qing–who was seen giving orders to Tuo Tuo at the beginning and then was seen near the end with the voice-over of Qiao Hua telling the audience that he committed suicide before his execution date. It was interesting to see Wu Ma as Vicki’s father in here also–though brief but convincing. The production team should not be forgotten either because without them, it was not possible.

The plot aka the story itself was another typical corrupted officials, eunuchs, incapable kings, heroes among thieves with the mixture of subtle romance, friendship, and companionship. Yet what made up for the rest of the story was the fighting sequences. It was enjoyable that it made way for lots and lots of fighting scenes yet the story still made sense. They did not linger long to drag out the feelings between Qing Long and Qiao Hua nor were they stressing too much of the ‘knowing the hero, respecting the hero’ concept between Qing Long and Da Mo Pan Guan.

It was there through the stories told or brief words exchanged. It was not dragged out or overly dramatic about the themes mentioned. The humor was subtle, really subtle so I was glad of that. You know it was there, but it was not dragged out OR to the point where you roll your eyes and mutter, “Lame.” It was in there at certain points to ease the moment or showed to some extent that they were not in danger–yet. All in all, the fighting scenes were well done. That was the hallmark of the movie and they had succeeded.

Acting? This was like 90% fighting between the main cast so I won’t say much but I thought they did their part to make it happen and that was what mattered. I thought it was a great opportunity for various cast members to learn from some of the veterans and/or the ones before them. Wu Zun got his wish to work with Donnie Yen and that was great. Not sure about Kate but I’m sure she learned and interacted with all the cast members well enough to make it work. She had fun with her action scenes–it seemed, but probably a lot of hard work for everyone involved, including herself. One thing I noticed was practically everyone had to maintain their cool looks throughout. It was hard not to, considering how the story was. Everything was so intense. So that was an easy part? OR was that a challenge to try and not laugh?

Recommended or not? I thought it was worth it for action movie fans. But it depends on your standard. I am no expert, so I can’t speak out of professionalism. But I thought it was one of the best out there.

*All images were scanned and/or captured by DTLCT

Tales From Beyond

Being a semi-fan of ghost/supernatural stuffs, I had to give this a try. Not to mention it’s considered an old TVB series, right?
First Story: Romance Between Human and Ghost (人鬼情)

  • Sam Tsang and Elaine Ho. Always liked their “Still Friends After Bidding Farewell” (再 見亦是朋友) and was interesting to see them collaborate in here. Even if it was one of those ghost stories. Creepy in a way but still sad. And a song from them at the end of the story.
  • Gordon Lam as one of the guys. So funny to see him back in the old days.
  • Comedy. Okay, that was interesting that they added the comedy bit into the story though it was supposed to be a romantic one or so I thought. With Gordon and the others attempting to get rid of the ghost was really funny.
  • Possessed or psycho? It was interesting at how others thought he was suffering from multi-personality disorder. AND then it got me into thinking if he really encounter with a ghost OR was suffering from psychological problems. Still something to think about.

Second Story: Smoking Prohibited (不准吸煙)

  • Gordon Lam as a cop. It was funny to see him yet again BUT this time as a cop.
  • Ha Yu. I miss the older days of him. For some reason, I thought he was better back then. OR perhaps the roles.
  • And more comedy. Yes, it’s continuing and it’s not that corny for once.
  • Ghost’s smoking territory/ Multi-dimensional world. Interesting concept OR at least I thought what it was. Was that the creator’s way of interpreting where people go when they die? Like how they would go to the same place IF they smoke (in Ha Yu’s case). AND it was even more interesting that he didn’t smoke when he was in that world. It was like they were portraying another dimension. It got even more interesting as it progressed so it was hard to understand OR seemed unpredictable. But was still something to think about. It probably aimed to educate and scare people into quit smoking BUT still too funny and exaggerated.
  • Adam Cheng song. One of my favorite songs and felt it was suitable for this situation.

Third Story: Men Have Responsibilities  (男子有責)

  • Liu Wai Hung. I miss this guy! His sense of responsibility was too strong so he could not leave the world just like that.
  • Helena Law. It wouldn’t be a ghost story without Helena, right?
  • It was ironic that he didn’t die because of the other guy BUT because of the woman who knocked the plant pot down
  • Also, something to think about with the power of the mind. It was like he was able to control himself and his mind was concentrating hard on stopping the event from happening and not leaving the world at all

Fourth Story: A Belief of Revival (再生的信念)

  • Another interesting story and another interesting concept.
  • Wong Wei and Maggie Chan. Interesting pairing. They do have chemistry. Even if they were an older couple but still enjoyable to watch.
  • Carol Yeung. Freaky…
  • The plot. I knew it! It was too strange and unbelievable. NOT that those stories DO NOT happen but it was a conspiracy. Yet what was even more chilling was that Maggie’s character, Jun, actually returned later. That was really, really sad that they made him believe so he went and try to make another miracle happen. That was freaky.

Fifth Story: Manipulating the Universe (運轉乾坤)

  • Benz Hui. Poor guy. Honestly, that was WAY over with how he was bullied. But that was typical of those situation.
  • Amy Hu. Haven’t seen her ages so watching old series has its benefits.
  • Benz and Amy. Funny how they were having that conversation at the beginning. He was so kidding about running/walking to work AND she was like, “Good idea.”
  • Law Lok Lam. Aww…look at him in the good old days.
  • Josephine Lam. Wow…
  • Law Lok Lam and Josephine? Wow…Yup, was interesting BUT I guess they were portraying how he was successful and marrying a beautiful young wife.
  • Benz and Law Lok Lam as friends. Cool. I don’t know. All I can say is I love those collaborations between my favorite veteran actors. But poor Law Lok Lam, only get to portray the rich, successful guy for like 10 minutes.
  • This really shed light into how the rich becomes successful in the first place since it’s not as easy with all the fame and fortune as people seen BUT there must be a lot of effort going into it with a hard-working attitude combined with talents and/or abilities
  • That was hilarious that he tried to fall again BUT it didn’t work. Guess it was implying that once you made a decision, you can’t turn back

Sixth Story: The Happy, Crazy Fowl (快樂癲雞)

  • Freaky ghost house theme
  • Know some of the cast but do not now their names
  • This story actually reminds us to respect others – whether alive or dead. I totally agree–whether they believe OR NOT. But it’s a given that respect should be given, especially in the situation where the girls are at the other people’s place.
  • David Siu. Wow…didn’t expect him to be in here but not impossible since it was in the old days.
  • Wayne Lai. Honestly, I did not know it was him until later when he was eating the banana and making a face.
  • Ken vs. Ryu. Hahahaha. Although it was supposed to be really hectic BUT I found it funny that they were fighting through the game.
  • Okay, that was a surprise ending since I thought that it was about love BUT it was because he was her father. So that was why he felt responsible for her safety.

Seventh Story: Variation of Kindling (變異的火種)

  • Lee Kwok Lun. I always have the feeling that he looks like Felix Wong. (I swear!) Anyway, always like him and good to see that he’s leading in this short story.
  • Creepy footsteps and sound effects. I think the hallmark of those ghost stories since that scared the world out of me.
  • The suspense. Another important formula since it makes it creepier – IF the sound effects didn’t get to you already.
  • Blast from the Past. Wow! I miss these types of things. I meant this kind of thing how the main lead thought he was able to save everyone and undo the past. What was even more appealing was he succeeded. It was confusing YET he sacrificed his present self to save his past self.

Eighth Story: Demons (魔)

  • Gordon Lam and some others. Well, at least they appeared at the beginning at the camping trip place.
  • Gallen Lo. Gallen in those old days. (NOT that he doesn’t look good now but still good memories.)
  • This reminds me oddly of ‘Psycho’. Thanks to my mom for reminding me once again!
  • Joey Leung is the crazy kid? Really? Didn’t realize it. It was clearer when he was arrested though.
  • So was it multi-personality OR was he being possessed? Such a tragic story. Gallen delivered with both personalities and its extremes.

Ninth Story: A Flourishing Journey (發達之旅)

  • Hugo Ng. I just realize that he looks better in modern series than ancient ones. (Or perhaps those roles he was given was too morbid or tragic that it was hard to smile?) Anyway, he does have charm in here and I wouldn’t mind watching him in something else since this is a creepy one. (He honestly reminds me of Lam Lei! LOL! They look like each other from some angles.)
  • Bau Fong. Creepy! Chilling all right. Man, he scared the world out of me, especially with his waving hands and the laugh.
  • My mom just reminded me this seems like Early Edition. (Just that the newspaper for the other one was used to help people AND not used for other benefits.)
  • I would love to know the song used in the episode. The one where they were singing and cheering for their newly acquired fortune.
  • This definitely teaches us NOT to be greedy. And also sometimes knowing the future beforehand isn’t a good idea.
  • Here they were promoting Hacken Lee again! NOT that I mind. I miss this song. Sort of.
  • The ending shows how it’s an endless, unbreakable cycle. Since we will always continue to ponder and be curious about things.
  • The scariest story so far!

Tenth Story: Entering Dream (入夢)

  • Ekin Cheng.
  • I won’t comment on the political status since I DO NOT know much to discuss about it and wouldn’t want to offend anyone.
  • The concept of vampire/zombie. That was creepy. At first, I thought nothing was happening and was pondering what was going on. However, that was scary all right. Suddenly the bodies were just popping out of the ground like that.
  • Wolf sounds. Another essential effect to achieve fear. And could only be done at night OR no one would fall for it.
  • Ghost world/ Zombie-land. Ooooohhh…
  • The world of imagination. So that was it? No wonder he was mentioning about how that one guy wanted to live in his own dream world. He also wanted to live in that world since he was not able to escape from the reality world. Ironic?

Eleventh Story: Searching (尋)

  • Jimmy Au. One of those worth-watching roles of Jimmy since he was both hilarious and clever. His trade-mark was shooting six bullets into suspects/murderers.
  • Another hilarious one.
  • Gordon Lam. Whoa! He came back as the other dude. NOT really since Jimmy was imagining it.
  • That was creepy all right.

Twelfth Story: Debt of Sin (孽債)

  • Michael Tao and Ada Choi. Wow, interesting collaboration, considering it was a ghost theme.
  • Power Chan. He wasn’t around all the time but really enjoyed his scenes.
  • Creepy story about curses and whatnot.
  • Moral of the story: IF you promise something, KEEP it. The price of having to pay for broken promises.
  • AND oh yeah, DON’T mess with those people who knows how to do those curses. Honestly, she was creepy all right.
  • Who was the smartest one? Power Chan of course! He warned Michael against it BUT he didn’t listen and fell into Ada’s trap.
  • I just realized that she didn’t really love him OR wasn’t really serious about it. It seemed like she was setting up this trap of seduction and other dramas just to find a way to steal his youth and his girlfriend’s too. Well, Michael should’ve listened to Power about it and be careful.

Thirteenth Story: Portrait Within A Person (相中人)

  • Know who they are but don’t know their names
  • Gordon Lam. He’s back for the last one! Great or what?
  • Darn, that was creepy…
  • Moral of the story: DO NOT take anything that isn’t yours
  • Passing it on, huh? Indeed it was another endless cycle where greed would always exist

Why did the narrator look so familiar? (Oh yeah, he was in The Hunter’s Prey as the undercover agent. Just realized it after watching him more closely.)
Anyway, missed those old days when things were more creative and seemed like there were lots to explore. A lot of interesting concepts being introduced. Short stories were always better than the draggy ones they do nowadays.

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