Hong Kong Entertainment

Master of Play

This was on my ‘to-watch’ list anyway so no surprise that I followed through. OMG, I read some spoilers coming into the series. BUT lucky I didn’t care for it since I had read some comments on how people who likes happy, fluffy stuffs might not like it. (AND that some people might not get it.) SO I was patient and followed throughout–without fast-forwarding. YES, I do admit that some parts were slow, but it was essential to the overall story. Because it revolved around psychological conflicts, I tried to be patient since I do enjoy those types of theme, and the mystery it often involved. I must say that I was quite impressed and have to say that it was cleverly done throughout. Honestly, the same creators who made When Heaven Burns and somewhat of a similar cast here and there, but it was worth it. I was really fascinated with the plot layout and the order the story was told in–in an attempt to focus on the emotional and psychological turmoils within more than just some lame plot about “OMG, it’s a psycho, we need to bring him in” type of thing. YES, the cops were there and they tried to bring the ‘psycho’ in too. YET it wasn’t so. Since the cops were just part of the background story. The major and minor characters in here were much more complicated than that. Again, like When Heaven Burns, it focused on how life wasn’t just full of black and white–though the discussions often bounced back and forth–here and there. Exploring the gray areas of life with how people react to certain situations and what they would go through to protect those around them was more realistic than just focusing on convincing ‘who was right’ or ‘who was actually wrong’ all along. Sure, there were the obvious sides of the ones who were supposedly good and the bad, but only the layout was that way because society like to separate, but the way it was made with what was going on, the creators of the show let us decide that on our own.
Main Cast:

  • Adam Cheng as Kan Siu Nam (靳兆楠). Finally a totally different role for Adam without the whole ‘heroic’ title attached. Though I found it a tad weird at the beginning and needed some getting used to but I soon focus on his character more to see what was going on. In a way, I found it cool to use that type of technique to solve cases at first. YET later, I found it stupid. Seriously, trying to attach yourself to the killer’s personality to get to him/her? It was crazy all right. It was too risky to say the least. I realized more and more later on that he was such a busybody. It was like saying he didn’t have to involve himself within the cases yet he did. He wasn’t a cop anyway, so why was he muddling in? I swore his fate was deserved because he kept digging and digging and all the stuffs that he got into made situations worse–to say the least. Though I understood his character’s conflicts at times, especially regarding his daughter–and the way he was getting himself involved so he could avoid the unavoidable with what happened to his daughter ages ago. (That was my guess.) YET he didn’t know when to stop. That was his downfall. He seriously messed with the wrong party and even if he had killed Ivan, he was going down. I’m not hinting at the psychological breakdown either but more like the whole getting burned to death at the end. Aside from all those things, I thought he was convincing in this role. Regardless of how he was too into his conflict with accepting his daughter’s death OR when he was losing it with becoming Ivan, he sort of created those worlds convincingly.
  • Maggie Siu as Esther Lee Chor Kiu (李楚蕎). Typical poor rich girl role. YET the later parts made her character different. Maggie’s short hair in here reminded me of her younger days when the short hair style was her trademark. But I really miss her longer hair, like how it was at the beginning of the series. Anyway, I felt so bad for her not because she got sacrificed (or more like sacrificed herself to save Ivan). But her family had a lot to do with her downfall. To have her own mother not supporting throughout, always pretending to care for her (and scolding Ivan) YET all the mother cared about was status and reputation. (Not to mention how her mother loved sons over daughters, AND I wonder what the hell she is? Is she not a woman herself?) Only Ivan was the one who was there for Esther when she went through such tragic situations. Ivan made her feel whole and important.
  • Moses Chan as  Ivan Cheung Sai Yin (章世言). This must be one of Moses’ most challenging roles. Not only did he have to act as Ivan in conflict with himself, but he had to switch to the other personalities also. By the time the story shifted to Esther finding out about Moses’ multiple personality problem, that scene was so brilliant. Moses was able to distinguish the differences between each personality. When he acted as all those personalities, it really reflected how the others were playing out their roles as his personalities. It was like looking into a mirror of personalities. (Great team.) I felt one couldn’t really hate Ivan because though he could be considered a killer, but he doesn’t just kill recklessly and as he liked. Either he’s forced to kill or he didn’t have a choice. (Saying “we always have a choice” IS LAME and unrealistic.) The choices he made caused the irreversible in the end, but from the beginning, he was tormented with his own guilt and whatever voice of the conscience is left.
  • Aimee Chan as  Natalie Cheung Sai Ting (章世婷). We were misled into thinking she was Kan Siu Nam and Angela’s missing daughter for the majority of the series. At least most of the clues pointed to her, until she later revealed it herself at the police station. (Actually, her conversation with Ivan before she left their house said it all with her telling him to clean up his act since there won’t be anyone around to do that for him anymore, and that because of him she had to lie to two very pitiful persons.) I was impressed with her performance throughout. She made me feel the liveliness of Natalie’s innocence side at the beginning, and the more complicated side later on as the story unfolded and she found out much more of her brother’s world that had caused her shift in attitude and/or reaction about life. (AND this is a comparison between all her other roles that I had watched, NOT hinting that she’s superior to others. YET I don’t think I need to prove my taste – or capability –  at all. People could think whatever they want. Honestly.)

Others:

  • Ram Tseung as John. The director at the local theater and also Kan Siu Nam’s best friend. He’s often the voice of reason to stop Kan Siu Nam from doing anything rash or getting into sticky situation. I must indeed agree he’s the wisest in here though he doesn’t judge. BUT I disagree with Kan Siu Nam that he would get killed for his own intelligence because Kan should be referring to himself regarding the whole getting hurt for being intelligent. (Since Kan kept meddling into others’ matters, which were not his.) I so agree with John when he told Kan that it wasn’t Kan’s job to put the balance back in the universe with his actions (i.e. what to do with Ivan’s case).
  • Rebecca Chan as Angela Mok Lai Hing (莫麗馨). I like her character in here, really like it. She’s not only wise but doesn’t care if she becomes the ‘bad’ person or get misunderstood when she tries to stop Kan from his craziness. It’s not like she doesn’t care for her daughter YET she knows how to stick with reality and moving on doesn’t mean not loving her daughter anymore. It just means she wants to cherish her life and not let the others in her life down.
  • Lily Ho as Tansy Kan Chi Ying (靳芷縈). The older version of Tansy. NOT the real Tansy but more like the imagined version of Tansy to which Kan Siu Nam was drawing up as part of his fantasy (aka not accepting that Tansy is already dead). I don’t know. I didn’t have any feelings toward her except knowing she was what Kan imagined his daughter would be like, a cute, lovable girl, etc.
  • Yu Yang as Steve Cheung Yat Kei (陳一奇). A very funny character. I know several dentists (OF COURSE with the necessary of having one BUT also personally), and his personality in here is too funny to relate to. Yet I guess all is possible since there are many dentist in this world and outside work, they’re normal human beings living their own lives after all. I really like his character because he’s really down to earth and could always turn negative moments into positive ones. Though what I found kind of unrealistic was him not getting suspicious or minding about Kan still being friends and hanging with them at meal times, etc. (NOT saying it’s impossible, it’s just awkward in so many ways–even if many years have passed already.) OMG, his death was so unexpected. I blame it on Kan for being the “unlucky star” and invited him over. (I wonder why he didn’t turn on the light BUT I guess he had a habit of listening music in the dark like that or just wanted to enjoy the music without turning the light on.)
  • Dickson Wong as Will Chan Cheuk Kwan. I felt like he was trying too hard at times or seemed like he was trying to remember the script. I swear, he looked that way. But regarding his character, I guess he was a supportive son at times.
  • Matt Yeung as Jasper/ Kong Sir (江Sir). I think he’s more suitable on the pyscho-killer route than being a cop. Seriously, he was just using his dead girlfriend as an excuse in every way he could to supposedly work hard and clean up the streets. He’s the one who should be cleared away. NOT only is he trying to “clean the street” BUT he’s really ungrateful toward his colleagues and others around him. Sure, Kan was quite a busybody and had a hand in fueling Jasper’s craziness even more, BUT his attitude was already terrible before. He treated his fellow cops as “dogs” (his words at one point) and always exude the arrogant aura. I think Matt did a good job portraying this character, convincing us Kong Sir was very well on his way to the psychopath route–without any help from anyone either.
  • Kenny Wong as Eric. Ivan’s evil persona. Creepy all right. Kenny’s rather challenging role instead of some other typical boring ones? I don’t know. I finally was convinced of his acting in this one. And think that he’s capable of some other roles instead of the typical ones he’d been portraying for a while. It’s not like he’s new, but he has been passive for a while so I felt it was refreshing he’d taken on this role.
  • Rachel Kan as Michelle. Ivan’s lust and envy persona. Convincing. She made me despise her so bad at first when I didn’t realize she was just Ivan’s personality.
  • Steven Ho as Martin. Ivan’s wrath and violence persona. He seriously was perfect with the rest of the crazy team.
  • Glen Lee as Edwin. Ivan’s pride and cunning persona. YUP, ever so convincing. With the additional makeup, it really aided his cause. And also how his eyes were always wandering that made me think he was always up to something. Cunning indeed.
  • Dia Yiu Ming as Henry. Ivan’s conscience. The voice that got snubbed out throughout the story and eventually disappeared since Ivan was already way past reasoning. (And I so don’t blame Ivan.) I guess Henry was one of the reasons why Ivan still kept it underwraps at times with his persuasion–even if his voice was practically blocked out by the other personalities.
  • Tsui Wing as the psycho-killer who chopped off people’s hands at the beginning. Seriously, he was crazy all right. But TW was convincing in that area.

Couples:

  • Adam and Rebecca. Though I got it but somehow I didn’t buy it.
  • Yu Yang and Rebecca. I felt like she, along with their son were one happy family all right. They complimented each other quite well with him being the comedic one to calm her down while she was the serious one.
  • Moses and Maggie. A touching story. Cheating aside (though trust me, I don’t like those situations), I loved them together. It was so sad and tragic that no word could describe it completely. Yet their goodbye scene before she turned herself in said it all. Regardless of the things he went and did behind her back, he was firm on not letting her go, i.e. not allowing his other personalities to drop her (even after he got famous).
  • Adam and Maggie. ODD TO DEATH. I understand the purpose of the plot, but I just didn’t buy it. Even from Kan’s side, I couldn’t feel that he cared for her. Sure, he was sad and frustrated when she died, but I felt that wasn’t love. Maybe it was more like he blamed himself for her death. (And he probably did but it wasn’t love.)

Themes/Elements:

  • Multiple personality disorder aka dissociative identity disorder. The Jekyll Bar was the obvious sign of Ivan having muti-personality problem (.i.e. hinting at Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). This is one of the most popular theme used in any type of movies/tv series. TVB also love to use this one because it’s the most intriguing one. However, they often have like two sides fighting with one another, etc. This time, however, the creators of the show went all out with letting Moses’ character, Ivan, have five other personalities inside him. It was actually more realistic, considering what types of traumas Ivan went through since his childhood. I also liked it that they focused on the physiological side rather than just “capturing the bad guy”. They went to the core of the problems and acknowledged his internal conflicts more, what he was struggling through. AND that they looked beyond the whole “killer monster” thing. It doesn’t matter if some viewers might not get it. I was glad they went ahead and kept things consistent throughout.
  • Stage Plays. I might not remember all the literary materials I read in school, but I felt it was clever to incorporate that into the whole plot. It somehow did the talking for the incidents happening around their lives. Like it was correlating itself with the current situations they had to deal with. (It reminded me how the whole radio segments were the narratives for the incidents in When Heaven Burns versus stage plays for this one.)
  • Sand Paintings. I might not like all the quotes in here, but I found it fascinating with the art. I like the symbolism that was incorporated into the paintings. And it was a refreshing theme in a sense. At least something that haven’t been overdone just yet.

Controversies/Rants/Whatever:

  • The name “Ivan” and some comparison going on on Weibo (and possibly other websites). I saw some really arrogant comments regarding this AND couldn’t let it pass. Really people? Picking on someone’s name? Or saying that you only remember so and so? Okay, so I get it that people could only remember so much after watching so many series, etc. But to imply you only remember that particular one AND not care for others, go ahead and say it out. Stop hiding behind phrases and trying to dodge when time comes to clarify stuffs. So you thought a certain character was more memorable than others OR something. (I’m guessing since I’m not going to get all arrogant to say I’m right.) YET to play that little ‘game’ regarding names is funny. (There are a lot of common names in this world, do you want to go there? Implying that only a certain person matter? Just because someone was named – or had chosen – that particular name too makes them less significant?)
  • Too dark/morbid. Hello? If you didn’t want to be spoiled by the plot summary or whatever, at least watch the theme video first OR see the poster or something. It’s going to be morbid.
  • Too complicated for housewives to understand. Even if TVB had aimed to zoom in on housewives as the majority of the audience, the rest of us out there might want to watch too. AND that’s plain generalizing. Just because they’re now housewives DO NOT mean they could be stomped on and insulted like that. Sure, some might not get the complexity of the artistic view OR some other elements incorporated into the drama itself, but some of the situations occurred in there, they might have more contact with than those so-called ‘educated’ one. (I’m talking about people dealing with emotional conflicts and how losing a loved one OR having to protect someone might land them into such sticky situations.)

The ending? Did Kan Siu Nam died? Don’t you love open endings? (YUP, we’ve all been there, hate it. Yet I didn’t mind this time.) It leaves lots of rooms for questions. So here’s my interpretation. I think he did die. Because there was only 10 more seconds when Natalie stepped out of the tent and yelled for the others to stop the crank and let him go, etc. YET her voice was muffled by the crowd. Then it zoomed to Angela waking up and trying to look for him. The next part was him in his dream place playing with his daughter for the last time YET they didn’t complete the game. By the time it got to the dream he must have lost consciousness already hence being able to enter the dream realm. After he hugged his daughter, we see that she was finally gone yet he was the one holding the seeds in his hands. He was finally released from his own illusion of his daughter. I don’t think he could ever let go of his daughter unless he ends up dying. Like it was the final release. Because even when he had become Ivan completely (or so he thought), he kept repeating the fact like he wasn’t Kan Siu Nam because Kan Siu Nam was so pitiful and that Ivan was the one having a sister, etc. SO he rather lied to himself and live that lie than face the truth after that one last blow of thinking he found his daughter and losing her all over again. His psychological state was already going into the irreversible stage with him taking on Ivan’s role so convincingly hence when he finally found out the whole ‘daughter’ thing was just a lie, his emotional state collapsed at the same time. The whole going back and forth to reassure himself was already ‘screaming’ so loudly that he knew deep down he wasn’t Ivan YET he rather lived with still some hope of having a sister and his life starting anew rather than nothing at all. And what about the ending scene where they show backstage around his work area where the scripts were pinned here and there and scattered everywhere. The voices reading the dialogues? That sort of was a memorial scene for an once famous stage performer. Or it seemed so to me.
Recommended? If you like literature, morbid stuffs, psychological stuffs, AND are super patient, go for it. BUT if you rather go for a comedy and don’t want to think too much after a long day at school or work, DON’T BOTHER. It’s that complicated. I don’t want to insult anyone, but it’s a lot because of how it was crafted–like I mentioned earlier with the pieces of puzzles and all. It would drain you down with so much conflicts going on throughout after layers and layers of deception and confusion were tossed into place.
*NOTE*: I’m shutting down comments for this particular post because I had it with some of the hate rant regarding some cast members. AND possibly the plot. I get that this might not be everyone’s taste, but purposely dragging it down because of some aspects not related to the series itself IS LAME. I don’t have the energy to argue with anyone or try to prove my point anymore. AND I think I rather focus on bringing the positive side of this blog back to where it belonged–like how I first started it.

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Chow Yun Fat, Hong Kong Entertainment

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.

Ben Wong, Hong Kong Entertainment, Johnson Lee, Oceane Zhu, Power Chan, Queenie Chu, Shek Sau

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 count 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 do 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 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 like 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 like him though he’s 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 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 collaboration have surprised me in the past. But I find it really odd with this two together. I rather they 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?)

Ady An, Chinese Paladin, Hu Ge, Mainland China Entertainment, Taiwanese Entertainment

Hu Ge wants to be Ling Hu Chong

This is nothing new since it has been like years back that Hu Ge mentioned this in one of his interviews. But I just thought of something that I gotta share. In case anyone didn’t read or hear about it yet, Hu Ge had said that if he was in some Jin Yong adaptation, he would pick to be Ling Hu Chong (令狐沖). However, he also said that there has been numerous adaptations in the past already so it would not be highly likely that he would be able to fulfill this wish.
So adaptations aside, I thought if he had a chance, he would be perfect for the role. Why? I was just listening to music and suddenly remember some parts from Chinese Paladin. (Don’t ask, my mind is random like that.) Anyway, the part I was thinking about was from the first part when Xiao Yao kept drinking away and suffering with how Ling Er was leaving him. Whatever, I don’ t really remember that much anymore. Then Yue Ru kept having to take care of him while he was drunk. (Though she could choose not to, I know, BUT this is not about the cat fight topic, so I shouldn’t even go on regarding that.) That part was really well done because he managed to capture the essence of his character. Then it somehow reminded me of the part where Ling Hu Chong got drunk because Yue Ling Shan misunderstood him–AGAIN. Then along came Ren Ying Ying who was in search for the music score and of course she was told Ling Hu Chong had it. She found Ling Hu Chong all drunk and mumbling away, which she attempted to take care of him. (This was actually in TVB’s ’80s version with CYF and Rebecca Chan.)
Bottom line? Seeing Hu Ge in those scenes, I thought he could make a more convincing Ling Hu Chong than some of the recent adaptations. Too bad…
*All images were scanned by DTLCT

Derek Kwok, Felix Wong, Hong Kong Entertainment, Liu Kai Chi, Tony Leung

The Grand Canal

Phew! Finally finished this series…and possibly glad that I could finish it throughout so I wouldn’t be hanging or missed any details of it.

Excellent acting from these actors and actresses that reminded me that TVB once had really good actors and actresses:

  • Tony Leung: Even if Tony’s character went downhill later on since he was mostly dominated by his emotions rather than his mind, but his acting still carried on with portraying the emotional state his character was going through that made it convincing.
  • Felix Wong: Felix was just plain evil in here. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that his most successful villain role was this one. Because I saw some of the other ones that he portrayed the bad guy but it was just wrong and I wasn’t convinced. For this one, he managed to make me hate him and believed that his character was beyond reasoning and was just some greed driven maniac.
  • Margie Tsang: Her character was really annoying at times because she was really loud. But to look at it on another point of view, she was just very naive and wasn’t as mature as the others. To put it simply, she was just living in the wrong time period since she didn’t understand the intense situations sometimes. However, she had a good heart overall and cared for her friends and was very loyal to them. I actually liked it that she was quite stubborn because she wasn’t wishy-washy like the majority of the characters in here. She knew what she liked or didn’t like. She was also understanding toward others since although there might be misunderstandings between parties, but after she found out the truth or others told her about it, she would forgive and forget it (also another good side of her). It was really good to know that she didn’t die in here or listened to Felix’s character near the end of the story. Maybe it was because of her strong friendship with Derek’s character that made it possible but it was really great to know she didn’t listen to his nonsense thus causing more trouble. It was safe to say that she had this strong sense of righteousness within her that made her character more admirable in a sense.
  • Derek Kwok: Yes, TVB viewers often refer to him as the MOST underrated guy in TVB history. The fact that he only delivered his best made it even more frustrating since TVB is practically blind to keep casting him in supporting roles or just some role. But I’m glad that he always gave it his best–whether people think it was the best role or not. As I said before, I really loved his character (and knew that he won’t last till the end of the series) and really liked his friendship with Margie’s character in here. It was just a pure kiddy relationship since they both loved to roam around town and explore or do any random activities together. His loyalty to his second brother was apparent also. A great character overall.
  • Sean Lau: I think this was my second favorite role of him. At first, I thought he was not right for this role. However, he was really great as the future king. He really brought out the smart side of the character and managed to convince me of his emotional state at various points–such as being stuck in between his family and his friendship to Tony. And also various scenes with Margie. (Subtle but still touching.)
  • Jimmy Au: I don’t know if it was his acting or the roles chosen because he usually did WAY better in supporting roles vs. the ones where he starred in. Maybe the characters were better written? Although they managed to rob his character of various talents in here, he still showed great loyalty with various people in here. I really liked scenes of him and his wife also. (Not that I don’t like Rebecca, just think that he matched with Red Dust Lady more.)
  • Wong Yee Kum (Red Dust Lady): She was really great in various scenes with being calm as well as rash at times. She was very intelligent, outshining Idy’s character in many ways. She didn’t judge anyone (like in the case of Idy, etc). Yes, she was stubborn at times too and couldn’t control herself, but it was in her personality. Her loyalty and bravery were very admirable. (Thanks to llwy12 for helping with her name.)
  • Liu Kai Chi: Yes, he was Mr. Naive all right. Can’t blame him because of his brother’s great acting and always speaking up for him when he was in trouble. I really liked his performance in here as the nice and suave prince although he was badly taken advantage of by practically everyone in here. Such a tragic ending for him and he was probably the only one in his whole family that I actually felt sorry for since he didn’t deserve the fate at all. He was not the cunning nor deceiving type so he wasn’t able to figure some things out on his own versus his sister who had the time, intelligent, and the access to it (but failed to discover it sooner).
  • Lawrence Ng: The only reason why I even put his name in was because I think this was one of the rare series that I actually liked his acting or think he was up to it–although he was portraying a villain. He made me hate him so bad that I couldn’t even blame others for being dumb (except for Idy’s character, lol). He put the show up so well with being the filial son and then the drastic change in his character later after he acquired what he wanted all along.
  • Cheng Yim Foong (the girl who portrayed Sheung Yee). Her character ended in tragic and it was very annoying with too much of the pity thing playing into the story but I think that this actress was really great in portraying her role. It got really complex later on but she managed to pull it off very well. (Thanks to llwy12 for helping with her name.)
  • Bau Fong and Lee Heung Kam. Love these veteran actor/ actresses. They were only in the first part of the series but managed to convince me with their characters (even if they weren’t the wisest people).

Other good points about this series:

  • The friendship between Tony and Sean. It was known and proven many times that they were a great team at times thus leading to jealousy from various parties and causing more conflicts between both sides.
  • The brother/sister relationship between Tony, Jimmy, and Wong Yee Kum. There were misunderstandings at times but they managed to resolve it and stay true as friends till the very end. I loved it that they had different views at times but still managed to stay true to one another, not giving in to power or some other forces.
  • Sean and Margie as a couple. To elaborate a little more on this, I didn’t like the idea of them being a couple at first either but it really grew on me. (And I was waiting for sparks to fly between Tony and Idy instead.) This was actually my other favorite pairing–if it was even relevant to discuss in such an intense series like this. He was probably what people call book smart while she was the street smart kind. They complemented each other really well. She might not be helpful to him at various times, but could help him relax a bit with taking him out to various places to relieve some stress or talk nonsense so he could laugh. (LOL)
  • Derek and Margie as friends. I really thought he liked her romantically at first since he loved to hang out with her, etc. But it was just this pure and innocent friendship between them. He liked to roam around and play some senseless games once in a while so she made the perfect candidate as his close friend because of their similar interests. They were really funny when together as said many times already. They had this strong bond of friendship which others couldn’t understand (because most of them were so serious) thus leading to Margie having a very strong reaction toward his death. (Glad like I said before so she wouldn’t back down to believing Felix’s character.)
  • The costumes and hairstyles. If you watched the majority of the ’80s series, you would know that they reused some of the costumes, but it was all right. Still nice to look at for the main cast and great hairstyles. I especially loved those they did for Rebecca’s character at the beginning of the story. It looked really sophisticated and nice–unlike those weird, bulky hairstyles they did for ancient series nowadays.

The bads:

  • Idy Chan’s acting. I’m sorry to pick on her yet again but I couldn’t even see her shine in here even IF it was the highest peak of the series or the lowest point. Her character was tolerable near the end but her acting ceased to impress. The majority of the script was to be blamed but her acting didn’t amount to much either.
  • The dragged out of the plot and/or lack of development of both characters and plot. This was said over and over again but I thought I should include it one more time to get the point across. They had a lot of great characters to work with, yet they kept shuffling back and forth with only certain characters at times and dragged it out too much. They should’ve developed more of Chun Wong’s sidekick’s character in here. He was a great character from the book–or so I was told. Why did they make him fall so behind in the story? It just defeated the purpose of putting him in the series in the first place. That went for the other characters as well. Tony’s character was a very intelligent person yet his indecisiveness caused more harm than help people in general. It got really annoying and was quite repetitive. Same for Idy’s character because she was supposed to be smart (like how the scriptwriters led us on to believe), but it took too long to solve problems, etc. They managed to give characters good background information and show off their skills at the beginning but failed to develop it later on. The beginning of the story was developed quite well with the plot also but it just dragged on so much in the middle that only the last 10 episodes were worth watching.
  • The fact that the majority of the female cast in here was annoying. I only managed to endure Margie’s character in here because it was Margie and she made it so charming with her character without being as annoying. However, Wong Yee Kum was the most intelligent as far as I see and the most understanding also. Although she did have her moments (like mentioned before) but it was understandable and relevant–unlike some other characters in here. The second to her character that wasn’t as annoying was probably Rebecca Chan’s. Although she was a third-party at one point of the story, I pitied her more than hated her. I couldn’t help but come back to thinking that the scriptwriters must have hated women a lot or was trying hard to make Idy’s character shine that they wanted to sink the rest of the female characters in here. (Because honestly, making the female population super whiny and annoying wasn’t the way to “charm” in case the definition of “charm” had changed. It had to be on purpose or someone was really dumb.)

So on the last few notes, I would like to say that this series actually reminded me of The Yang’s Sagas because of the political elements and the conflicts in between. However, The Yang’s Sagas was WAY better because of its length and well thought out storyline. (It was also sad but wasn’t draggy or annoying.) I wouldn’t recommend this series even if you really love any of the cast, but watch it at your own risk since it was really long. But if you skipped just one episode, you missed some major detail stuck in between. To say it simply, each detail was essential to the overall plot and would help you understand the plot better but it wasn’t necessarily well written.

Posted (on Xanga): January 28, 2009

Posted: April 27th, 2010