I finally watched this series though I have it on my to-watch list awhile back. Watching this series somehow affected me more than I thought. Possibly because both Barbara Yung and Susanna Au Yeung passed away already. Not to mention Anita Mui, who sang the main theme so beautifully. There were many moments that I got teary-eyed, not because of the plot, but because of seeing old faces.
Anyway, back to the plot. At first, I thought TVB was going the daring route–because they rarely do that, mostly safe within their traditional shells as not to upset the viewers. However, I was wrong. What do I mean? I thought they were letting Lau Dan and Ha Yu portray a couple who was raising an adopted child and trying to survive in society, especially one might not be accepting them. It seemed that way with some details at the beginning. Even when they were trying to explain at the police station after that one time getting into a fight and the police officers were trying to get them to tell their story. I thought from their hesitation, the whole fighting over Jian Hong’s mother was a made-up story. Yet it seemed like it was true except for some details that were never clarified, because the plot didn’t want to focus there. Even Zhou Rong’s mother was chiding him for staying with Zhou Zhang You all these years–when he came home that one time to visit her after another dispute with the latter. Seriously, I was wrong. That was okay though since they had to move on, but I felt the plot was scattered everywhere thus causing details to be muddled throughout. I liked it that they were moving back and forth among different characters, but I didn’t like it that they were so inconsistent with different characters at times. It was frustrating to say the least.
Tony Leung (梁朝偉) as Zhou Jian Hong (周劍虹). I felt this role wasn’t that special as in part of the Tony legacy in the old days. I think it was sort of a break for him. I think his best scene was his argument with Bi Hua/Barbara Yung when she was acting distance toward him since she didn’t want to cling to him just because he became rich. It was emotional and added more to their bond, because they finally talked about some things that actually mattered instead of feeling like they were stuck in a loop of not being able to communicate like previously. I guess his passiveness at times was a balance to some people’s extremeness in here. I liked him fine, until he listened to his father Zhou Rong to try to propose to Bi Hua so he could control her. Of course, he didn’t think it in that way, but I felt the proposal wasn’t as genuine as when they finally got back together at the end. I think he finally understood Bi Hua’s importance or realized he should cherish her more, because he admitted at one point that he used to think Bi Hua was more serious about their relationship than him. It was like a pride thing for him, but he figured he was going to have to gain her confidence in him again, not just taking her for granted like before. I guess I liked him for the most part, but what I was annoyed about was how he–along with the others–treated Shao Wen like she was Tian Wei’s possession or like a sure deal (even when they weren’t together yet). He didn’t like Shao Wen romantically and no one could force him, but I didn’t like how he and the others seemed to force Shao Wen to go with Tian Wei as well. Just because Tian Wei liked her, not letting her decide at all.
Barbara Yung (翁美玲) as Xie Bi Hua (謝碧華). I was watching the Viet-dubbed version so the person who dubbed for Huang Rong dubbed for her in here too so it was really funny and somewhat bittersweet at the same time. She was so stubborn and probably short of all the things Huang Rong could do and get away with, lol. But I really liked her. At least she was straightforward with her attitude. I liked that she was able to go train in England and became an even better cop with her new skills later. There were times that I didn’t like it either that she was using her boss as a shield, but I felt I could forgive her somewhat since at the beginning when she was trying to get rid of that one annoying pest, she actually asked her boss for help so he knew about it. Then later, it was her jealousy getting in the way so I felt like I should cut her some slacks and she did apologize to him (her boss) later. (I think, I hope.)
Ray Lui (呂良偉) as Jiang Tian Wei (江天偉). I didn’t think I could hate Ray Lui for a role he portrayed. Well, in Shanghai Bund, I think I was annoyed yet wasn’t feeling this strong hate toward his character. Aside from those assault scenes toward Shao Wen, I think the rest of Ray scenes were kind of subtle. Then it seemed interesting when he was undercover for the cops. Yet I felt the ending scenes were just there to bring his character up again or trying to make him active to wrap up the show. Or trying to make up for his past wrongs, which I didn’t care for. Yes, his character for me was fine. They had to ruin it like that. When, perhaps, the writers had this mentality about “love” or “assault” was how you get a girl OR whatever. But I didn’t want to let it slide just because. The writers totally downplayed those horrifying moments and brushed if off completely later on. Anyway, I also thought his character would become the villain later since his jealousy of Jian Hong escalated after some disagreements at the company yet it wasn’t so. In fact, he was probably the dumbass of the show. Sounds mean, but he was so easily manipulated by his uncle that I eventually got frustrated too. I got where he was coming from and felt sad for him that his mom was manipulating him and pressuring him, but the others stuffs he did, I couldn’t forgive him for.
Barbara Chan (陳敏兒) as Lin Shao Wen (林少文). A lawyer. I liked her having an awesome lawyer role. However, some of the plots sort of brought her character down. I actually liked the approach they (script-writers) did with making her so expressive and being almost best buddies with Jian Hong and how they seemed to have this connection. Yet the writers had to bring her character down later by making it confusing and manipulative in a way. I wondered if it was so they could somehow justify Tian Wei’s actions and then bring them together. I didn’t like the pressures people were giving her, her mother and others. Yet I didn’t like how she tried to jump in between Jian Hong and Bi Hua either.
Lau Dan (劉丹) as Zhou Rong (周榮). Jian Hong’s father. Mixed feelings throughout. I liked it that he wasn’t greedy and didn’t care for those fortune he suddenly stumbled into. Yet I felt he was too hot-headed at times. Also, I didn’t like how he treated Bi Hua later. It wasn’t like she was backing down, but he was seriously unreasonable. Who could stand it?
Ha Yu (夏雨) as Zou Zhang You (鄒長有). Jian Hong’s other father. Mixed feelings throughout as well. I was surprised he was more accepting of Bi Hua later on (brushing aside the conflicts with her father previously). Yet I was glad and in a way, he gained my point in that. I also liked that he wasn’t as greedy as he seemed to project at first. He didn’t latch onto Jiang Hong or Zhou Rong to get some advantage at the Yang family.
Susanna Au Yeung (歐陽珮珊) as He Pei Pei (何佩佩). It was a different role for her for me. I guess it was because I mostly saw her portray mature roles in the past so it was strange. NOT that her acting was strange, because she was a natural in it. She made her character lively and relatable. Although she was supposedly “not a good role model” or “good person” as some people had said in here or at least at first, but I really liked her. Perhaps, it was because of Susanna’s portrayal. Not to mention how Pei Pei’s character was redeemable, unlike her mother and sister whom conspired with others to trap Zhou Zhang You that one time. She didn’t have proper guidance growing up, but once she broke out of that toxic cycle and with the help of the people who truly cared for her, she was able to overcome her hardships and became her own person again.
Lau Kong (劉江) as Yang Zhi Jian (楊志堅). Jian Hong and Tian Wei’s uncle. I felt like he wasn’t getting a break for the villain roles he was involved in back then, lol. Because I guess he did his part, but I felt it wasn’t anything new. Have to admit the character was indeed devious and despicable. He got what he deserved. Or maybe it was still too kind? I don’t know.
Lee Kwok Lun (李國麟) as Bi Hua’s boss. He was actually the true gentleman in here and was actually deserving of the nice guy title. But he wasn’t up in your face kind of nice guy and demanded that he should get something in return type of nice guys often seen in movies or TV series either. I felt like he was the most admirable among the young guys in here. As a cop, he was a good leader and everyone loved him. Although there wasn’t much to go on, but it was obvious with the way the other cops were reacting to him that he was a good boss and also a good friend. They really respected him during work and joked around with him when they were off work. He also liked Bi Hua, but he didn’t say it out until near the end. Yet he didn’t expect Bi Hua to accept him or anything, he was just joking that she was breaking his heart, lol. He didn’t mind that she used him to get Jian Hong jealous, but didn’t think it was good for them (Bi Hua and Jian Hong that was). People might be saying he had a doormat attitude and maybe that was why I liked him, but I felt like he was actually genuine among all the guys in here, even surpassing Jiang Hong. Perhaps, it was Lee Kwok Lun’s acting that made it so believable and not exuding any fake exterior, etc. (NOT saying Jian Hong was fake or Tony’s portrayal was poor. Just that like I mentioned above, I was sort of annoyed with Jian Hong for some stuffs too.)
Lau Siu Ming (劉兆銘) as Bi Hua’s father and Shao Wen’s legal assistant. Ming Sir and Barbara Yung also portrayed father and daughter in United We Stand (生銹橋王). It was interesting to see a different type of relation in here. Although he wasn’t my favorite character and was super annoying with his greedy nature at the beginning, I soon understand where he was coming from. It was so hard to earn money and all to survive. It wasn’t a good thing to do with how he was pulling his tricks at times, but I could forgive him for that, considering how he’d been trying his best all these years. Mixed feelings throughout but probably not the most hated character for me either.
Chun Wong (秦煌) as Da Peng (大鵬). Jian Hong and Tian Wei’s uncle. He was so cute in here, lol. He was probably the only kind person in the Yang family and truly cared for his family, unlike some others. He also was independent and had his own restaurant, pursuing his own passion. I actually thought he was the smartest because he wasn’t involved in those senseless family conflicts. And I never saw Chun Wong portrayed such a kind role before–or I might have missed it. Because he was always either too silly, stubborn, or was just plain annoying. So this was refreshing for me even though it was such an old series.
Bonnie Wong (黃文慧) as Bi Hua’s aunt. She was so funny and cool in here. I loved her character the most among the female side, aside from Bi Hua’s that was. She was really smart and witty. I liked it that she got guts and didn’t care what others think of her. But what sort of off with her character was how she let that annoying dude pursuing Bi Hua into the house time after time. Sure, she was just being polite, but I thought she shouldn’t let him in or give him information regarding their trip that one time. Yet that soon passed and I enjoyed her scenes majorly with Da Peng, because they both loved food and enjoyed many delicacies and fun moments together.
Paul Chun (秦沛) as Tian Wei’s father. He had a short story at the beginning of the story and then just phased into the background again. It was fine that no one was hogging he camera for too long, but I felt it wasn’t doing him justice. Or was it better he was one of the parties not causing trouble too?
Bak Yan (白茵) as Shao Wen’s mother. I usually like her role yet I didn’t really like it in here. Her acting was top-notch, but I just didn’t care for the character throughout. Yes, I felt very bad for her, having such a tragic life. Luckily, she was able to start anew in the end and knowing her family was all right again. However, I didn’t like it that she also contributed to forcing Shao Wen to get married or at least acknowledge Tian Wei. She later realized what was going on and sort of let her daughter choose, but it was sort of too late.
Bai Man Biao (白文彪) as Shao Wen’s father. He was sure despicable all right. They sure let him off easy later.
Kwan Hoi San (關海山) as Yang Zhao An (楊兆安). Jian Hong’s and Tian Wei’s grandfather. Although I understood that he wanted to protect his family and was somewhat saving face too, but I couldn’t forgive him for what happened. He knew Yang Zhi Jian was beyond help yet forbade Third Uncle to harm Yang Zhi Jian regardless. Like what? How was he supposed to help when he couldn’t take action? If he was strong enough, he could have just toss his son in prison and saved the rest of the family the trouble. Was saving face so important? Seriously. I didn’t like his miserable, pitiful acts either. Yeah, I know he was heartbroken and devastated of what happened, but I just didn’t care for him after I realized he wasn’t going to do anything anyway.
Felix Lok (駱應鈞) as Yang Zhi Jian’s right hand man. He was just latching on to the Yang family and only knew how to party so he wasn’t that useful. However, I thought he’d done his part of damage to the overall plot.
Richard Ng as a gangster boss. Well, not as much as some others in here, but he contributed in messing up other people’s lives so that counted for me.
Chu Tit Wo (朱鐵和) as Third Uncle. He was a gangster boss yet was somewhat too rash for his own good. He tried but he was responsible for harming Jian Hong at one point before investigating thoroughly so I didn’t blame the others for not trusting him later.
Bobby Au Yeung (歐陽震華) as car owner at the beginning. He was the guy who had his car inspected in the beginning yet was yelled at, lol. It was funny seeing him in there like that. He appeared later as well, but I wasn’t sure if it was the same role or just some random second role.
Tony Leung Hung Wah (梁鴻華) as Jian Hong’s friend. I liked him in The Return of Luk Siu Fung and Duke of Mount. Deer yet I couldn’t find anything to like him for in here. He was annoying. He was a terrible friend, having thrown Jian Hong under the bus too many times to be considered a friend. He also pestered Bi Hua to the point of excruciating that made me want to jump into the screen and slap him. He was basically like Tian Wei, except he wasn’t main so it was easy for people to hate him versus Tian Wei, but I felt they were almost the same. If Bi Hua wasn’t able to fend for herself and had others to help her, he would progressed to the point of Tian Wei too. Sure, he liked her and wanted to pursue her YET when he finally got turned down with a strong “no”, he didn’t get it and thought she was playing hard to get or whatever else. Bi Hua wasn’t that type of person and made it clear. (I didn’t like that one time she used him to extract information regarding Jian Hong either since that was seriously poor taste.) He was just trying to wear her down (like he admitted at one point). The fact that he tried to use suicide to get to Bi Hua was equally pathetic and somewhat hit too close to home. (Coincidentally, Barbara committed suicide at that time the drama was in the middle of airing using gas so that got me even more annoyed. Although I know TVB didn’t know and no one knew either regarding that, but that scene just added to the things that rubbed me wrong in here regarding the character.) And no, I don’t hate the actor, but found him exaggerating somewhat in here too versus his more natural act in other series.
Amy Hu (胡美儀) as Zou Zhang You’s on and off girlfriend. She appeared at the beginning of the series and then somehow disappeared and then appeared again near the end. I liked her, she was cute and funny in her own way.
Maria Chan (陳立品) as Jian Hong’s grand-aunt. I got where she was coming from but I didn’t like how she was acting high and mighty at times. Well, Yang Zhao An deserved it, but I didn’t think Pei Pei or Bi Hua deserved her rants at all. I got it that she was following her traditional ways or whatever, but that was so judgmental and so hard to relate to. Especially how she thought Bi Hua was jinxing her grand-nephew and how she wanted Bi Hua to quit her job just because Bi Hua was getting married to Jian Hong.
Kenneth Tsang (曾江) as Pei Pei’s rich boyfriend. Was that him? LOL! I swear it looked like him when he appeared briefly. The fact that he wore sunglasses didn’t help.
Michael Tao (陶大宇) as Bi Hua’s younger brother. I was initially annoyed with him because how he was so lazy and all. Yet I found him hilarious later.
Hui Kin Bong (許建邦) as Tian Wei’s assistant. I wasn’t sure if he was an analyst, a lawyer or another assistant at the office since he only appeared twice. But I thought his character had more potential for development than some in here.
Sandra Ng (吳君如) as Yang Zhi Jian’s lover. That was a surprise but that was back then so it wasn’t too strange to see Sandra appearing a little.
Shik Kien (石堅) as gangster boss. He was the real deal with all the badass gangsters in here since even Third Uncle was afraid of him.
Maggie Siu (邵美琪) as Anna. She owned a bar and was into Tian Wei when he was acting as a mole for the cop. Maggie was so gorgeous in here, and the role was mischievous yet playful that I felt it was too bad she wasn’t taking on some major role. What a shame yet I guess it had to be that way. Not to mention what surprised me was how it departed from her usual pitiful and/or tragic roles of back then. Yes, although her character was supposedly bad and didn’t care if Tian Wei was married or whatever, but I felt she was more honest about her motives than some people in here.
Wong Yat Fei (黃一飛) as boat owner at the pier. He was around at the second last episode where Yang Zhi Jian was trying to find a boat to escape. It was fun seeing him at long last. He was like Waldo of TVB, lol. You have to find him because he might not be getting an important role at times yet he was fun to watch and locate.
So, after all that rant, how was it overall? I thought Tony and Barbara Yung were cute together. Even though my mom mentioned that Barbara looked older than him, but I thought they were still cute. (Note, my mom loved Barbara too so it wasn’t like she was picking on her.) If the tragedy didn’t occur, I wonder if they had collaborated more for future series. It was one of those what-ifs in life. Second favorite couple in here must be Chun Wong and Bonnie Wong because they made me feel hopeful about humanity in general in the series’ world–at least. Aside from that, I felt that Susanna and Lau Dan weren’t that bad of a couple but their triangle involving Ha Yu really dragged the pace at one point and made me feel frustrated with the two men’s childish antics. Though I found it interesting that Susanna and Lau Dan also paired up in ATV’s The Ghostbuster Gang (捉鬼家族) years later, but I had watched that one first.
What about Ray Lui and Barbara Chan? I felt their characters ruined it for enjoying their chemistry–if at all. I got it that Shao Wen later realized with worrying for Tian Wei that she did love him, etc. (That was near the ending that she had the conversation with Jian Hong in the hospital during her mother’s operation.) Yet I didn’t like their initial start or the in-between at all. I didn’t like the emotional tortures that she had to go through with his pestering (and it was like how I mentioned it was with Bi Hua being pestered by that one guy as well). The fact that the assault scene happened and also bordering on rape (it wasn’t shown so I didn’t want to assume). I’m talking about that one time he was super frustrated and wanted to get her to talk BUT ended up force kissing her and she was terrified and yelled for him to stop and then the scene just jumped to the next day that she seemed to accept him. It was a terrible plot device and it totally thrown his character toward the hateful zone for me, even if it wasn’t before. I didn’t like that the writers used that type of setup for the characters to eventually get together and forced her to re-think. I already said that above when discussing their characters, but I felt like I need to put it here once again. The script-writers were downplaying assault and/or rape, not taking it seriously at all. What was even more terrible was how Tian Wei kept uttering out that she didn’t have to love him but couldn’t stop him from loving her. He could love her, BUT directly attacking her like that and forcing her? Even if the world was different back then, it still didn’t make it right AND I don’t have to accept it regardless. I thought it was best if they let the characters take it slowly and understand each other instead of forcing her like that. That scene was so traumatizing that it left a very bad impression on him throughout. The ending had a better setup. It seemed lame that she accepted him for saving her mother, but it wasn’t so since she realized when he disappeared that she cared for him. Why didn’t they go with that approach first? I didn’t like it either that there was plot inconsistency with people assuming they were together just because he liked her–at first. Then they dragged her character through the mud with her getting in-between Jian Hong and Bi Hua just to downplay Tian Wei’s assault scene–or all the things he did in general toward her.
Anyway, there were gaps and inconsistency at various points (as I said at the beginning of the review), like how some characters already knew each other or already got introduced yet was expected to be introduced again later. Or one of those like they seemed to have a gap. Other things, I already mentioned above so do not want to be too repetitive. But what was too obvious was the aqua/green dress with pink and yellow rims around the neck Barbara Yung wore at one episode near the beginning ended up being Barbara Chan’s sleepwear near the end. It was hilarious really.
What was fun to watch about this series that I have to admit was the majority of the cast–whether major or minor–were linked to the Condor trilogy one way or another. However, I still wouldn’t recommend as much for the plot. To me, it was one of Tony’s weaker series because I think the majority of Tony’s old series were quite good or considered good overall. It was just some details were inconsistent and frustration that I didn’t like it as much. It wasn’t the worse series of back then, because if you’d seen my reviews of my back-watching, some were worse.
When I thought that 2016 was a terrible year for me, I was wrong. 2017 continued to tank to a new level of crappiness. There were many frustrating things–one after another. It was like when I asked, “How much worse could 2017 be?”, it was like a challenge to the universe. So stuff happening in real life obviously affected how much time I have for this blog or attempted to keep some sort of activity. I did better than last year regarding updates, but that was a lot of effort, because I’m still way behind on some news that I wanted to talk about. Yet no time or more like didn’t feel like it at the moment. I continued to get drained to another level that I thought might not be possible–like several days before. Then the pattern just repeat itself at different intervals. I think somewhere along the way, I ended up revamping my blog by getting rid of the too random posts. Like those general update ones. Although my blog already is random on many levels, but I didn’t want to just post for the sake of placeholders too much. Anyway, here are some stats for this year. Total Posts in 2017: 155 (11.7% of all time).
January: 18 (% of the year)
February: 10 (%)
March: 21 (%)
April: 20 (%)
May: 11 (%)
June: 18 (%)
July: 6 (%)
August: 4 (%)
September: 20 (%)
October: 14 (%)
November: 9 (%)
December: 4 (%) Books Reviews: Sad, because I actually read a bit this year but didn’t feel like doing reviews for some of them. Maybe I’ll go back to do them later.
Fan Fiction: Complete failure–unlike what I promised last year about getting things done. I started looking over some of the fan fics again and managed to get going on some, but I can’t promise on how fast it would be rolled out. I’ll get it out when I’m happy with what I wrote. Songs Translations: I used “You’re Always Beautiful” to start the year, thinking that if I continue to retain some sense of positiveness, somehow things will get better. But it didn’t. Anyway, how was this year regarding translations? I didn’t realize I was that productive. Mostly, I tried to push the majority of 183 Club’s songs out.
I didn’t want to do this update like I said last year. However, I felt like I needed to persuade myself to continue on. Not to mention, I want to keep some sort of teeny, tiny bit of hope that 2018 will actually be better. So we’ll see, right?
Just when I thought The Maverick was the worst of the ’80s classics, I was wrong. This sort of took the trophy from the other one. Why was it the worst? I swear, it started out interesting enough with a team of women kicking asses and carrying out righteous acts. Yet it deteriorated after the initial scenes, making them victims and eventually devaluing their cause. I’ll go into more details later.
Angie Chiu (趙雅芝) as Mu Lan Hua (木蘭花). This was possibly my second favorite role of Angie–if only it didn’t deteriorate. It wasn’t her fault. She tried her best, but the plot sort of went against her, letting her become a pathetic victim later, not allowing her to soar higher than that. I thought she was awesome and was smart in concealing her identity. Yet the script-writers just had to make her lesser than some other people in here–just because they were trying to create the illusion that the villain was worse. I know, duh, villains were supposed to be bad. But honestly, if they didn’t knock the major characters’ IQ down several pegs, they couldn’t make it look like the villains were smart. The final trap proved her capabilities and intelligence once again, but I wished the plot didn’t knock her down and dragged it through mud before restoring her character. It was seriously frustrating.
Sharon Yeung (楊盼盼) as Mu Xiu Zhen (木秀珍) aka Mu Mian Hua (木棉花). I thought I was going to really like this character of Sharon. In fact, I did at the beginning. She was a bit hot-headed/impulsive at the beginning, which I thought was kinda cute since she was still young after all–and it made the whole bickering with their nanny funnier. Yet that also passed and I realized the script-writers were just trying to knock her down–like how they made Angie weak later. With her, it was her impulsive behaviors and then her IQ wasn’t improving at all, but it had gone down to the point of frustrating. I liked that Sharon got to be the kicking ass superwoman since I’d often seen her in roles where she was always suffering through tragedies so she cried a lot in those (even if she did have fighting scenes or tried to prove herself)–with the exception of her martial arts movies. I thought I was going to enjoy seeing her being awesome, but was totally disappointed by how her character turned out.
Kenneth Tsang (曾江) as Cheng Wu Hui (程無悔). Despite the flaw in the plot, I think Kenneth delivered–like how Angie and Sharon had tried with theirs. He was my favorite character from the start since his identity was a mystery and how he was being hunted by the assassins. Yes, we knew he was a friend of the family of the Mu’s, but that was it. He didn’t have any other identity. The details unfolding was nice enough, allowing us to see more into his world and his personalities. He wasn’t afraid to cut corners, considering how the world was back then. What disturbed me greatly was his infatuation toward Lan Hua. Okay, it wasn’t impossible and I had rooted for older man and younger woman relationships before, but this was different. He was indeed a friend of the family and sort of like her uncle (in a sense of comparing him to her father). Aside from that, it sort of knocked down his character for me a bit, considering how I thought he was a good guidance for both sisters in such chaotic time. Did the script-writers had to go there to be so controversial?
Melvin Wong (黃錦燊) as Gao Xiang (高翔) aka Di Qiu (地球). I liked him, but I felt they had him appeared to knock the Mu sisters down thus rendering their roles useless. I swear. It wasn’t like I needed the sisters to be perfect, but I felt they (the script-writers) had to knock the sisters down, not allowing them to excel so we could see Gao Xiang’s awesomeness or something. He was mysterious and funny in his own way. Yet can’t they just have him and the other two going against each other (as relevant one point of the story) with their talents matching or something instead of making it like the other two needed his rescue all the time? Although there were times Lan Hua helped him too but I felt his character was untouchable (well, until later, lol) to the point that the other two just looked pathetic, waiting to be rescued.
Cheung Kwok Keung (張國強) as Yun Cheng Feng (雲乘風). This was probably one of his major roles back then? It was either that or I didn’t watch the right dramas back then. But I was surprised that he got a major role in here. I thought he would become a side character since he wasn’t around much at the beginning and was fading into the back. Yet he got pulled forward because the focus on his family became more apparent. He delivered with whatever he had to work with and I felt he was one of the true victims of the story, considering how he was stuck in the conflicts and all.
Susanna Kwan (關菊英) as Yun Zhao Yi (雲昭儀). She sure was ambitious in her plans. It was somewhat hilarious that she thought she was going to win in the battle of power with her father. She thought he was weak yet she had no idea. But what got me irked was how I was reminded each time a woman was displaying ambitious nature, they were immediately labeled as the bad woman. It was like they (the script-writers) needed to tell us that women should be victims/weak/obedient to be good or something. Sure, I understand Zhao Yi’s lust for power and wanting to overthrow her father and it wasn’t impossible that she was so scheming, not caring about family and all. Yet it was a typical pattern of TVB to make ambitious women out to be the bad ones in the end so I couldn’t just let it go.
Peter Yang (楊群) as Yun Tian Peng (雲天鵬) aka the real Tai Yang (太陽). I knew he wasn’t just in to play some pathetic old man. Didn’t mean for it to come out that way, but the plot paved it that way for him, with his daughter conspiring against him and all. Then there was the whole sickness and hospital scenes. It was an elaborate trap all right. I didn’t doubt his cruelty since he represented a part of a major crime organization. What he underestimated was Lan Hua’s recovery and how she was able to put aside her feelings and create a final trap for him.
Kwan Hoi San (關海山) as Tai Yang (太陽). He was fierce and calculating enough to be the leader. Yet that was also a front for others to underestimate Yun Tian Peng. He also became a pawn for Yun’s final scheme after all. Great performance from him like always, even if short-lived.
Paul Chun (秦沛) as Huo Xing (火星). I thought he was going to be around until the end yet it wasn’t so. He also became another chess piece along the way. I was disappointed that he wasn’t that smart. I thought he knew better. It was sort of anti-climatic to have him gone so soon. But perhaps that created the mystery of what was next?
Cheung Ying Choi ( 張英才) as Mu Yi Long (木一龍). He was in here for a short time. He was another true victim of all the chaos. But what I thought was really fake of how the scene was laid out after his death. It wasn’t convincing and I thought it might be something else with how he was already saved and was just at some other place. Then I was reminded of that TVB probably didn’t want to get too graphic with the whole explosion scenes and the aftermaths.
Lam Tin (藍天) as Long Kun (龍坤). He was probably the most despicable in here, even comparing to Yun Tian Peng. He betrayed everyone around him and was really only out for himself. Even though he was exposed and punished later, but I felt it wasn’t enough. He’d done so much damage throughout.
Chun Wong (秦煌) as Cao Te Hua (曹特華). He was funny for me at the beginning and annoying in the later parts yet somehow managed to compensate himself for the ending. It wasn’t much of a role but I guessed he had to be there since he was relevant for the ending parts.
Lee Kwok Lun (李國麟) as Cop. He only appeared from time to time or more like most of the first few episodes. It was just fun to see a familiar face in here. Not much.
Questions / Discussions / Frustrations:
TVB seriously DO NOT know how to write strong female characters. I think I watched enough TVB series to get this out there. YES, I do know the time period that was in the story and it made sense that women didn’t get to make much of an impact during those times. But this was after all a story focusing on the strong female characters so why can’t they just stretch it a bit and make them awesome all the way instead of devaluing them like that? Like I said in the other part, I didn’t mind that Xiu Zhen was impulsive since it was kind of funny at first–and I initially thought she was just impatient and more for actions than talks. Yet the story just made her character worse and worse by enhancing her impulsiveness tenfold. In fact, it had stepped in to the stupidity territory, which caused deaths or other consequences along the way. Okay, with some other series, the main lead might or might not have caused some deaths or consequences at the beginning too, but they somehow grow later. What has Xiu Zhen grown into? A total bitch? I don’t usually use that kind of language. But I couldn’t take it anymore with how her character turned out. Not to mention how strong personality type of character DO NOT mean that they were always loud and brainless. Did TVB have anyone to consult with regarding people’s personalities? I got it that she could be lively and smart too, not too boring. But seriously, Xiu Zhen was a complete idiot by the end of the story. Or should I rephrase and ask if TVB know that people could be lively and intelligent too, not a loud-mouth without a brain? Then there was Lan Hua, the smarter and sensible of the two. However, she was knocked down (like said before) when Gao Xiang appeared. Sure, they did have some battles of wit along the way yet it seemed like Gao Xiang was always one step ahead. (Okay, I don’t want to make it petty by turning it into a “men vs. women” kind of thing, but the plot laid it out that way with their competitions at the beginning.) I would like it better that they match wit-per-wit or something. It seemed that way on the surface at times, but it was obvious Gao Xiang was the stronger one. It made sense because he was more experience than them and was actually one of the members in that mysterious organization that they were trying to investigate, but again, please stick to the theme of the series. Not only did they knock Lan Hua down, but also made her a complete victim halfway through and then somehow restoring her character at the end for the final battle. I totally understand her breakdowns during the times when she thought Gao Xiang was dead and when he was really dead, but I didn’t like it that she was soooo trusting of Yun Tian Peng. I had a feeling she wasn’t just the type to just plain lean into others just because they were there. She proved her capabilities and how she managed to keep her distance and had outright told Cheng Wu Hui about her feelings (or lack of) toward him. Once again, I got it that Yun Tian Peng was scheming and manipulative, so careful and all and so easy to trust, but seriously?
The disturbing matches? I don’t know what to call it really but it was the whole idea of it was all right that somehow Lan Hua ended up with Yun Tian Peng. Hello, there was an actual wedding with others attending so happily. Seriously? I don’t know how that was even acceptable. Like Xiu Zhen was with Cheng Feng already so Yun Tian Peng was her father-in-law. Yet it was all right that her sister married her father-in-law? What? Even before Lan Hua learned of Yun Tian Peng’s truth identity as Tai Yang, she was seriously all right with it too. I swear it was sooo messed up. It wasn’t about her forgoing with the revenge plot either. She was fine with it. Like I thought she would only apologize for misunderstanding him that one time Cheng Wu Hui brought to her attention about some suspicious details that he might be involved with Gao Xiang’s death YET she had to go one more step to give him the sweater she knitted. (That time, Yun Tian Peng used trickery to get out of it and eventually dissolved the misunderstanding just like that.) What? That was a grand gesture and indicated something else. Tell me I’m not the only one wanting to puke if it were to go through otherwise.
Recommended? If you don’t want to think but just watch, go ahead. If you’re fine with these types of dramas, go ahead.
First off, I had to scratch my initial comments since I felt I was still too lenient with the criticisms. Having watched most of Felix’s series already, I think I have the right to have a say in this. Like his other series, it usually starts with an interesting idea and it seems promising. Yet sooner or later, it would go downhill–minus all the Jin Yong adaptations and a few rare series. This was supposedly the Golden 80s so I expected A LOT. I just have to agree that they have good acting (for the majority) and nice costumes for ancient series. Those were the highlights. Plot-wise? NOT so much. It’s just that series nowadays at times lacks in the acting department so the plot sticks out like a sore thumb if it sucks. The good acting and the good costumes often masquerade some of the plot flaws back then. What was the whole deal about the plot that got me so disappointed? For the first ten episodes (aside from the first or so episode of the somewhat fast pace of introducing some key characters), the pace went from slow to a halt. Sometimes, there were somewhat of a happening that could be considered mystery because of the suspicious mute guy trying to assassinate Lei Hak Yung (or it looked like it), which I thought was the true hightlight of the show–since I expected the side dramas among the other adopted sons (with their competitions and all). Yet they waited until the almost last episode to reveal more about him and wrap up the series loosely. Seriously? Of the things that happened in the first ten episodes, about five (exaggerating but not too far from it) of them were focused on disagreements or side bickers between Felix and Idy’s characters. Then there was the obvious conflict between Lei Hak Yung and Jyu Wan–whether regarding the woman they supposedly “love” or for power. It was bouncing back and forth about how both paved the other out to be the monster yet I felt it was on the dot when On Ging Si’s adopted father said that both weren’t any better with their senseless fights. Oh yeah, did I mention it was never revealed what was the purpose of all these whole conflicts until near the end? It was revealed by the mute guy that Lei Hak Yung wanted to eliminate threats and major powers before overthrowing the current king to become the king himself. Sure, most of his recruitment of various talented characters in here showed that he was in for some big plan YET it wasn’t focused on to see where the plot was going. I didn’t mean that the plot was confusing, I just meant the writers didn’t know what they wanted so they just tossed in some random stuffs until the end to wrap it up. It was just a mess, like so unorganized that by the time it was wrapping up, you didn’t learn much or care anymore. I’m saving other rants for later.
Felix Wong as On Ging Si. It wasn’t like he was dumb, not totally, but his character like some in here lacked consistency. Sometimes he was bright–or seemed that way. Yet another time, he was just plain clueless. I’m not talking about love stuffs either. I’m talking about the whole knowing Hong Kwan Lei was a devious character and not knowing how to draw up a good plan for it.
Idy Chan as Princess Wan Lo. Mixed feelings throughout. Like others in here, the writers didn’t know how to develop her character either. At times, we could see she was righteous and care for others (the part where she helped with that one case of the missing women). At other times, she was the typical spoiled brat (which was the recurring theme throughout). Yet it wasn’t all that either. I got it that she was complicated and have the right to be just like any one of us. But I felt either the writers were trying to get us to hate her or was just unclear of what they wanted for her. The constant arguments with On Ging Si at first had fused a lot of frustrating moments to say the least. Although I was glad they didn’t make Idy boring BUT I didn’t think it was a good idea to make her character so inconsistent either. I didn’t mean she had to act one way or another at times, but some of the things she said in one scene conflicted itself in another scene. One could argue she had matured since some previous episodes, but it just didn’t make sense or allow for character developments to convince.
Kent Tong as Hong Kwan Lei aka Ching Lung. He was beyond despicable and possibly even scarier than Lei Hak Yung. Yet too bad they decided to not use his character well in the last few episodes. It was like building his character up and ready for the final battle yet the final battle was SOOOOO anti-climatic.
Stephen Tung as Sik Seut. The comedian in the series. Yes, every series had one of those yet he delivered nicely and was probably my second favorite character in here. He was much, much smarter and it helped a lot more since he was cunning. It was a good one to have when trying to go against Hong Kwan Lei. I was scared he was going to die at one point since every other characters were dropping dead left and right. Sure, I know the consequences when they were all stuck in the mess, but that didn’t help with hoping that at least he survived. Ironically, I got my wish and the other characters’ ending were tragic.
Austin Wai as Si Ging Si. He was actually my favorite in here yet he just had to face with another tragic ending. Yes, his character was my favorite and he used to be one of my favorite actors. He was both smart and talented in his martial arts. He was just hot-headed sometimes thus leading to some of the major problems later. I was impressed with him when he managed to help his “siblings” avoided the falling down the spikes trap in one of the episodes.
Paul Chun as Lei Hak Yung. It was obvious he was up to something from the start, but the execution of the plot just made him less powerful. I know, they had to focus on developing other characters and subplots in here too, not just focus on him all the time YET like I said, it felt unorganized when the writers didn’t focus on the right stuffs regarding him–as well. His character was menacing, but when it mattered, the writers didn’t go forward with it. They just showed some cunning and scheming here and then moved on to another story-arch and then kept downplaying his techniques so he became somewhat of a background character for Hong Kwan Lei’s traps (and interestingly HKL also got tossed aside like I said earlier to make way for some other story-arch to wrap up the series).
Lau Siu Ming as Jyu Wan. At times, it wasn’t really clear if he was any better than Lei Hak Yung but I think he had loyalty on his side since the majority of his “brothers” were always there for him versus the whole betrayal thing on the other side.
Maggie Li as Sam Mung Sin. She was part of the reasons the men fight but I thought that was just a lame excuse to fight so I didn’t blame her on that front. What I did blame her for was not keeping her words with Lei Hak Yung. Yeah, it would be insane to say that I side with Lei Hak Yung for anything. But I felt it was despicable of her to trick him into saving her husband that one time and then saying that Lei Hak Yung was despicable. You can’t criticize him or think the worst of him when you’re using him in the same way for your means. Seriously?
Elaine Chow as Ling Lung. I never got over how she got killed off just like that. I knew it was inevitable since they needed to move on and sacrifice her so he could enter the Lei resident and also somehow fall in love with Wan Lo. But seriously? I felt like Ling Lung ended up being a plot device to enhance Ging Si’s character with how loyal he was, still keeping her old gifts, etc.
Bak Man Biao as On Gaai Fu. On Ging Si’s adoptive father. I think he was the most right about both Lei and Jyu when he told Ging Si about about the fighting with both sides. Yet I guess that was why he had to be killed off to further other people’s means.
Isabella Wong as Siu Fung. She wasn’t really my favorite for some series I watched of hers, but I felt this one was more than meets the eyes. Yet they also made it somewhat inconsistent like Idy’s or trying to go into a loop with the plot at times regarding her situation. But what was outright obvious at the end was her bravery. I knew something was up when she was looking at the structures. Like I knew she was forming a plan in her mind yet didn’t realize she went that far.
Lau Mei Man as Ah Taan. Wan Lo’s maid. I thought she was cute at the beginning. Didn’t realize she became a major character later, which was cool. Interestingly, she made it to the end. Not that I didn’t like that but like once the plot finally moved forward, I thought she would get trapped in the ongoing battles–which she did–and somehow lose her life too (which didn’t happen).
Lau Kwok Shing as Lei Chyun Gong aka the 3rd general. Got killed off by Ching Lung in one of the earlier episodes. He was used as a tool to fuse the others’ hatred for Jyu Wan. Although Ching Lung did the killing but Lei Hak Yung was tenfold more despicable on that front.
Cheng Ka Sang as Lei Chyun Lung aka the 4th general. He was seriously in for good as well, thinking he was on the right side by the time the plot was wrapping up. Yet too bad.
Tse Ming Chong as On Yau Yau. A servant. He was overlooked by others (and even viewers) from the start. Then near the end played a major part, which was a nice twist yet wasn’t properly developed.
Stephen Yip as Mou Yin Hung. Jyu Wan’s general. One of the loyal people by Jyu Wan.
Felix and Idy. The fact that their somewhat of a romance started right after Lung Ling died didn’t help their case for me, especially with Mister I’ll-Never-Love-Anyone-Else-For-The-Rest-Of-My-Life. Yes, I had to put that in since there was one point he was talking to Sik Seut and Sik Seut asking him if he wanted to consider Wan Lo. Yet later on, I just had to get used to it. It could work, but Lung Ling left an impression on me so I wasn’t really sold on this couple. The other reason was that I kept thinking the whole time while watching was Felix/Barbara and Andy/Idy. YES, although this one was before the other two series, but I watched those first and it had left an impression on me (as well as others who had watched it ages ago). Their chemistry wasn’t too bad but I felt it was somewhat lacking comparing to their other co-stars. Although I must say she was a better match with Tony (although I didn’t like her in The Grand Canal at all.)
Felix and Elaine. It wasn’t like their chemistry was amazing or anything, but their simple story at first stuck with me. Many might say she was boring, typical “good” girls of back then–and usually I hate those gentle ones too (just because they were usually fake with how the plot loved to develop it or tried so hard) yet Elaine’s acting had pulled me in with her character. Although she just appeared for like two episodes but she made an impression for me throughout. I seriously like her with Tony more, of course, but plot-wise for in here, I really liked her.
Austin and Isabella. The tragic couple. I had a gut feeling they wouldn’t make it. I meant the happy ending theme, considering how his past stories went in other dramas I watched–although this was before. I think they were considered an actual couple in here that no one had doubts about, most series has one. They were it and somehow with their story, it managed to move the plot forward. Whoever called it, it worked. Yet I wished they had made better decision for the main plot.
Lau Siu Ming and Maggie Li. Creepy. Okay, that was mean, but I’m not used to watching older people getting all mushy and cuddly, lol. I guess they weren’t bad together but I was just more interested in the main plot. I thought they along with Lei Hak Yung would drive forward the plot but it kept bouncing back and forth between who was right or wrong or whatever.
Inconsistency. A LOT of it like I said throughout this review. If it wasn’t character inconsistency (minus people trying to keep secrets–of course–or if there was a reason for them to change their minds, I got that those parts were essential), it was plot gaps. So they managed it with some of the mystery, but the whole conflicting details at times made it frustrating. Not to mention mind boggling since I wonder if they had anyone to check the whole product before they released it. The problems didn’t start with recent series, BUT it had been way back.
Obvious GOOFs. One of the scenes it happened was when Hong Kwan Lei tried to poison Jyu Wan at the bath/spa room/whatever the world they called it back then that I forgot (lol) and he ran out after having somewhat recover. The battle continued up until the confrontation with On Ging Si and Si Ging Si at the arranged meeting location for some battle, which On Ging Si had convinced Si Ging Si not to kill Jyu Wan when he had been injured like that (i.e. not using despicable means or take advantage of the situation). All that made sense, but I’m talking about the episode jump. Like the beginning of the next episode, Jyu Wan was still running YET he was now fully clothed. He was wearing the white robe earlier SO how in the world did he manage to stop for clothes in the mist of running? They had an invisible rest stop I wasn’t aware of? Seriously? What were they trying to pull? Again, does anyone ever watch it again to check? (This had happened in LOTCH too and that was a major production so don’t start throwing excuses around.) Anyway, there were other goofs but this one stuck out the most with me.
WORST FINALE EVER. NOT because the majority of the cast died, including the leading lady. First, they killed Hong Kwan Lei with just two people–who were defeated by him previously. Okay, that one could be explained that over time On Ging Si’s skills had improved and even Sik Seut’s skills improved after the last attacks. However, On Ging Si said that he was afraid he might not win since Hong Kwan Lei’s skills had reached another level. SO what was that? Him lying to Wan Lo so they have more cuddle time? Or was that just his pessimistic nature? Then there were the other two who helped Hong Kwan Lei during the battle. I got it that Hong Kwan Lei could have won in the past because of his underhanded techniques and tricks. I got that throughout. Interestingly, Hong Kwan Lei was the only formula that never changed in the whole plot. He was consistent throughout–with his skills and personality. Yet I felt the final battle was so anti-climatic and ended in just seconds. Then what did the writers do for the rest of the time? Finally revealing that On Yau Yau was the actual son of Lei Hak Yung, which was a major surprise–and a good move. YET it went downhill from there (like it could get any worse but it did). Because they soon let him become Hong Kwan Lei #2–well in the making since he didn’t have the cunning that was Hong Kwan Lei. But it was just a mess after trying to rush forward with convincing us that the focus was on him, which wasn’t really. He lacked the trickery of his father as well so it wasn’t like we could see him as a threat for anyone. The mute guy was finally revealed in like the second last episode (or so) and a rush of explanation of his role in this. It made sense to keep the suspense going for a while with his identity BUT I felt it should have been revealed a little earlier so the final focus would be them trying to go against Lei Hak Yung. They let Hong Kwan Lei ruled the scenes for the majority of the time and then killed him off in seconds, then decide that they should now focus on bringing Lei Hak Yung down? Seriously? Not to mention the scenes leading up to how things became the way they did, which led to my next point.
WORST HOSTAGE SITUATION EVER. I felt that was really insulting the viewers. I think it’s safe to say that not all of us have been in hostage situations, but we at least get the idea what it’s about. How in the world did the writers make our hero that dumb? On Ging Si had a good plan–supposedly to save Wan Lo. He won Lei Hak Yung by element of surprise and captured him. He eventually used Lei Hak Yung as a hostage to save Wan Lo. Then he had to blow it! What possessed him to go in the house AND not request that On Yau Yau bring Wan Lo out as an exchange? Didn’t he see all those guards surrounding the house? Another thing he could have done was tell them to bring out the horses (which it was a request later BUT after they were trapped in a cage already). Seriously? Yes, I said that a lot already but I couldn’t believe it got dumber and dumber by the second. Then talking about On Yau Yau’s side, I swore they all knew Lei Hak Yung was in On Ging Si’s hands YET they still shot a bunch of arrows up there? What were they expecting? That the arrows bounced right back? Seriously! I initially thought On Yau Yau wanted to use the chance to off his father as well so he could take over sooner. YET it didn’t seem like the case and it was an accident with the incident. All of it was dumb and unnecessary. Yet the only explanation was to let Sik Seut show off his skills in fending the enemy and helped with the getaway.
Recommended? Ignore the freaking damn plot (or lack of it) and you might enjoy it for the cast. Just look at the beautiful people and forget about logic and reasoning or what the world the purpose is supposed to be. Yeah, that was it for me.