The Rough Ride

I finally watched this series though I have it on my to-watch list awhile back. Watching this series somehow affected me more than I thought. Possibly because both Barbara Yung and Susanna Au Yeung passed away already. Not to mention Anita Mui, who sang the main theme so beautifully. There were many moments that I got teary-eyed, not because of the plot, but because of seeing old faces.
Anyway, back to the plot. At first, I thought TVB was going the daring route–because they rarely do that, mostly safe within their traditional shells as not to upset the viewers. However, I was wrong. What do I mean? I thought they were letting Lau Dan and Ha Yu portray a couple who was raising an adopted child and trying to survive in society, especially one might not be accepting them. It seemed that way with some details at the beginning. Even when they were trying to explain at the police station after that one time getting into a fight and the police officers were trying to get them to tell their story. I thought from their hesitation, the whole fighting over Jian Hong’s mother was a made-up story. Yet it seemed like it was true except for some details that were never clarified, because the plot didn’t want to focus there. Even Zhou Rong’s mother was chiding him for staying with 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.
Main Cast:

  • Tony Leung (梁朝偉) as Zhou Jian Hong (周劍虹). I felt this role wasn’t that special as in part of the Tony legacy in the old days. I think it was sort of a break for him. I think his best scene was his argument with Bi Hua/Barbara Yung when she was acting 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.

Supporting:

  • Lee Kwok Lun (李國麟) as Bi Hua’s boss. He was actually the true gentleman in here and was actually deserving of the nice guy title. But he wasn’t up in your face kind of nice guy and demanded that he should get something in return type of nice guys often seen in movies or TV series either. I felt like he was the most admirable among the young guys in here. As a cop, he was a good leader and everyone loved him. Although there wasn’t much to go on, 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.

Others:

  • 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.

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The Smiling, Proud Wanderer 1984: Theme Song

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

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

Liu Mang Xiao Zhang’s Ending

I would’ve left some cushions for my post if it was some other drama. But I just finished this and can’t believe for the first time it wasn’t cliche. OKAY, there were some parts that were cliche. But I thought what made me really like this drama, in the end, was its twist. Like I mentioned in the previous post regarding Wen Xiong, I hoped for a different ending. It was not just because I’m a Jacky fan, but when I analyzed it and it had become so typical with Wen Xiong turning bad, I was disappointed. I meant like there goes another drama wanting to crank up its hype by needing a dramatic ending with some battle between good vs. evil. And in a sense, it was more subtle than was thought. The impact was large, but it was not overdone like how other dramas would’ve approached it.

Those who watched know by now that the scene with Wen Xiong advancing on Qing Mei and how Jiang Hu Piao had kicked Wen Xiong out was just a plan cooked up by none other than Jiang himself. YES, that was cruel and unnecessary in a sense but that allowed us to re-analyze everything about the plot. Or maybe I was the only idiot who found too much time to go study every single thing out there to connect with Wen Xiong’s actions.

So should I hang my hat since I let my imagination jumped ahead after episode 11? NO! Are you kidding me? I was expecting a twist so of course, I’m prepared to defend it as a turnaround. It would make me sound contradictory but in a way, the previous analysis made me think more about the depth of Wen Xiong’s character and how the plot had concealed some part of his personalities on purpose to mislead us. They needed that to make us think before showing us the ending.

I was waiting for the ending to continue this discussion anyway. So I actually drew up several factors. (I know, I must have no life to even sit around and think about it.) What was kind of suspicious that made me have some hope about Wen Xiong?

  • Didn’t make sense. The Gao brothers were brought up by Jiang Hu Piao since their parents died when they were really young. Although they both experienced hardships, but Jiang did give them a lot of opportunities and also allowed for Wen Xiong to study to the point that he earned a law degree. One could argue that it would be a good investment for Jiang to have an educated assistant yet the Gao brothers were given everything that Qing Mei had since they grew up. (This was mentioned by Wu Xiong in episode 1–with the scene by the pool.) Unless he was really a greedy dude who didn’t even treat them like family, he had no reason to do such. And maybe Qing Mei had such an effect on him like I said in the other post, behaving in such a way was too stupid–even if he was drunk.

  • Jiang Hu Piao sure got there fast during the assault scene in episode 11. I’m so serious here. I was more than glad to see that it was just barely visible and we got the gist of it, nothing too traumatizing yet had a great impact. BUT I was so puzzled since it happened that: Why was Jiang so fast to jump in and rescue his daughter in time? I meant that house was BIG. Anyone saw it yet? It was shown from various angles from time to time AND it was a huge mansion or villa. Whatever you want to call it. But come on now, she could be the loudest girl but her voice could get drowned out in that house, considering how Jiang might be on the other side of the house. It would also take a while to get there. I tried to say that he was probably around the living room or possibly near that so she was lucky, but it had always puzzled me in the past week about the scene. (OR like I just said, the director wanted to spare us from a ‘too dramatic’ scene.) It would make sense that he was outside the door and jumped in at the right moment to stop everything and then tossed Wen Xiong out after some outburst. Convincing one indeed. And why did Jiang Hu Piao have to pick this method instead of some other excuse to kick Wen Xiong out? It was the most convincing one no matter how you thought of it. It was so fierce and so horrifying and unbelievable in a sense that was why it ended up being true–or so they wanted to be. Besides, having subtle hints of Wen Xiong not agreeing with Jiang Hu Piao at times and that could have led to his breaking point was another one to trick us, and possibly to show how comfortably they could disagree but it just meant they were just covering every single possibility with those business decisions. Besides, with this scheme between Jiang and Wen Xiong, it showed Jiang’s cunning side. After all, we saw too much of his comedic side overlapping more than his gangster side, right?

  • Wen Xiong’s walk in the night. This was after he got kicked out. He wandered around and sat on a bench to think things over before approaching Bai Long the next day. He looked like he was mulling things over or regretting his actions, etc. At first, I thought it was the way it was directed to mislead us for a bit until we were shown the scene of the next day or how it was with Jacky’s acting. BUT it now made sense. He was just thinking the next step and how he would approach Bai Long to make the whole plan more convincing.

So what about Wen Xiong and Qing Mei? Honestly, I knew for sure and I thought other viewers would know as well that he liked Qing Mei. But he must have seen how hopeless it was after seeing how Qing Mei and Tuo Hai already reunited, it was like too low of a chance for him and Qing Mei. He was smart after all, so would he rather choose to stay by their side and be part of their family than make things even more complicated? And yes, he had chosen to stay by their side.

So I don’t know if I was thinking too much at first, my bias, or even disappointment that had led me to try and come up with possible outcomes. But I was glad to see a different ending than the typical as I stated many times before.

What about the rest of the characters? I thought it was well done in a way. I meant there were dramatic moments with the confrontation between Tuo Hai and Qing Mei. But it wasn’t too dramatic. I wondered how in the world could they wrap it up but was glad it wasn’t too cheesy. They did not have to show us everything with their reunion. The ending scene was already enough to tell us that Tuo Hai had returned. Many might have felt a bit of a rush but I thought it was good enough. Not everything had to be answered or showed too much. We got it. Not every single person had to show up for the ending. Not too gift-wrapped. I liked it that way. It was how life was at times. Not everything had to be all wrapped up.

What really surprised me was the chemistry between Xiao Gui and Qiao Qiao. I meant not that I was against it or anything. But I never thought about it–as most people. Since they never worked together before? (Not that I could remember so if I got it wrong, please correct me.) They were really fun and addicting to watch at times as Tuo Hai and Qing Mei. What I liked about their story was it began kind of typical with him being the knight in shining armor saving her and then the predicted schemes that she would come up with to get to know him, become closer to him, etc. BUT it did not stop there. It did not reduce her character or his character to some complete hopeless beings or wishy-washy personalities. They had their differences that they needed to overcome. But their characters were really consistent throughout. Even how they had matured during the three years, some traces were still there in their personalities to show that they didn’t change at all. Their feelings for one another were still the same–if not stronger through time apart. Some things did not have to be said about their friendship but actions showed it all how they were able to be there for one another. Promises weren’t tossed around so loosely or try to make the whole thing magical like other dramas. If they promised, they really meant it. It was the first time I really liked a character Qiao Qiao portrayed without being annoyed. I meant I like her and her acting in the past–though I know she isn’t the best. But this role and how she had portrayed it made me feel like it’s my favorite role of her because it could count as the most serious character. There were traces of immature moments or those times with her grandpa in conspiring with one another, but that was done quite well and seemed genuine because it reminded us that we all have those moments in our life. My first time watching Xiao Gui and I actually liked him as well.

The friendship in here was also something I really liked. Yes, those who know me (or read my stuff), know that I love those friendships in various dramas. Sometimes more than romance relations even. The friendship between the students was so random at times yet genuine. It paved a great picture for the rest of us to think about the school days.

And who could forget the three generations of the Jiang family, right? They were just a hilarious bunch. Come on now! I was more into watching them interacting within the family than the other side dramas at times. Maybe for comedic reasons but it was really funny. Grandpa Jiang was always so hilarious with his forgetful state (or fake ones?) or how enlightened he could sound at times. Jiang Hu Piao was crazy though really loved his family. Nothing like a gang leader but he was more than capable. Then there was the princess of the house, always up to something yet she was not really spoiled. She was fierce all right yet I think she couldn’t really be called spoiled because she treated others so nice, not letting on airs at all–whether how she regarded Wu Xiong and Wen Xiong or her classmates. She might be scheming away about some things, but never looked down on others.

And while we were on the subject, was Qing Mei really Jiang Hu Piao’s daughter? The director and/or scriptwriter(s) was messing with us too much. We got the answer that Grandpa Jiang was trying to delay matters by tricking Bai Long. BUT there was definite suspicion in the air–even if Jiang Hu Piao had claimed on trusting his wife fully. Qing Mei chose to riff the envelope up without opening it because she declared that her father was Jiang Hu Piao. So…it was all about trust and the importance of their family after all. The truth did not matter that much. They had a good relationship going on all along. It did not matter to them what was real. (Even before the DNA incident, Grandpa Jiang had told his son that he did not care if she was or was not really his grand-daughter because she would always be to him.)

Nothing like ending it with a wedding, right? But I was glad it wasn’t cliche with the main couple’s wedding. A family portrait indeed. (Too bad no Wu Xiong but it was all right. Don’t want to ask for too much, LOL!)

So was it a satisfying ending for everyone? I bet there were complaints. But it was enough for me. I enjoyed it and the bonus was seeing it so short. Not really if you consider it since it was like one hour per episode. Yet it did not drag.

*All images were captured by DTLCT

Jacky Chu’s role in Liu Mang Xiao Zhang

What was his role exactly? The typical bad guy role. No, I was not hinting at his usual villain roles or on the border of annoying ones. I was hinting at how this role was paved out to be this time and the outcome since episode 11 of the drama. Near the middle of the episode, we saw a very out of control Wen Xiong, in an attempt to prove his love, advanced on Qing Mei (portrayed by Joanne Tseng). What brought this on? Well…a lot of overlooked details in the past few episodes. Only obvious hints were shown in episode 11 that led to the scene. But more on that later.

First of all, what qualifies as the typical bad guy character?

  • The world owes him/her. This is a major cliche clue. I swear! At least I’ve seen it in most HK series about some people ranting on and on about how no one appreciates him/her for what he/she had done. No one knows or cares about what he/she wants but just expects.
  • I did it because of you. Another one. It doesn’t get anymore cliche than this. This reason gets the other party on a major guilt trip. But once it is said, you’ll know right away that the person doesn’t mean it. It’s just an excuse to blame it on the other party because that person doesn’t want to admit wrong and is trying to justify his/her behaviors.
  • The beyond patient dude. Come on now. Everyone has their breaking point or the limit. He just seems too patient at times. Though we could see him in comedic moments, he’s just too composed, too into his work. Short version: too good to be true.

I listed it based upon Wen Xiong’s angry words to Qing Mei in episode 11. SO don’t say that I made it up.

While I went back and did caps, I started to look for more hints that would jump out within those random, comedic moments to see what had led Wen Xiong to such. I was surprised that I missed so much while I was drawn into the ‘comedic’ element of it all. One of the hints about Wen Xiong’s personality or his true character lied in what his interests were and what he was knowledgeable about. Yeah, typical, but I wasn’t paying attention before.

In the scene above, which could be found in episode 3 like about halfway through, Wen Xiong was seen explaining some of the concepts in the book his brother, Wu Xiong, was reading. He also went into a bit of detail regarding a historical figure, Li Mi (李密) who served in the Kingdom of Shu during the Three Kingdoms period. Anyway, Wu Xiong commented immediately after learning of Li Mi’s tragic past that Li Mi was like them (aka him and Wen Xiong), losing their family since little and suffering through so much hardships. In a way, was Wen Xiong like Li Mi? I would believe that he was smart and could remember really well of what he learned ages ago in school but I have a feeling it was hinting at something. The way he talked about Li Mi was almost like he was talking about himself. There was this injustice feeling like he was being wronged, etc.

Another hint that could threaten to tell a different story and a different side to his character was during a conversation between him and his brother by the pool in episode 1. His brother reminded him of what Jiang Hu Piao had done for them both and how he shouldn’t forget it. To which he replied that he won’t. (SO MUCH FOR IT!) It didn’t just give us more information about the brothers’ background. It was telling us to watch out for him, he was not just a typical silent, obedient guy. He was the typical silent, patient slash someone who had an alternative motive guy.

Oh yeah, what about his pretentious acts of being clueless? This was shown during episode 2 when Wu Xiong was commenting about there were ‘tao hua’ flowing around within the house, etc. Wen Xiong was totally clueless and asking his brother what in the world was he talking about and Wu Xiong immediately replied about Qing Mei and their boss’ strange behaviors and how both were in love. Yeah, Wen Xiong, you were so clueless. (RIIIGGGHHHTTT…)

Wen Xiong was seen since episode 1 as a very patient person. I thought his contrast to his brother’s rash, impatient behaviors was a part of the comedic picture. But he was just patient because he had been waiting for the right moment. For the day until he got his chance. (Yeah, it was obvious that he said it in episode 11.) It was not just a chance to confess to Qing Mei or a chance for both of them, but a chance to truly shine and be a person of importance. He was already important as Jiang Hu Piao’s adviser and was treated as a family member in the Jiang family. But it was more of his greed that stopped him from being satisfied with his current position.

If it was only because of Qing Mei, he would’ve apologized for his rash behaviors (or wouldn’t even do that at all), but he wanted much more than that. Instead, he chose to leave just like that without apologizing or begging. He even clarified that he was just kneeling because of his acknowledgment in Jiang’s care for them all these years. It was just a part of the typical gratitude. It was like the last act he would do to show respect toward Jiang. (A typical gesture in most series but it made sense.) What I found funny about the whole scene was seeing the BTS of episode 7. I don’t know for how long Jacky had to kneel but Li Wang Luo messed up on that one line with telling Wen Xiong to get out of the ‘Jiang’ household that they had to do retakes. The other three cracked up so hard when they realized he said it wrong, even Jacky who was kneeling at that time. It was supposed to be a serious part but after seeing that part of the BTS, it stuck with me.

So, to get back onto the subject, had Wen Xiong ever love Qing Mei before or was that just a ploy to secure his high position under Jiang Hu Piao? I thought he did but it had become so much more than love Qing Mei. It was like saying if he succeeded in marrying Qing Mei, he would eventually take over at the Shang Cheng Financial Company since Qing Mei was the only daughter, right? So someone was really thinking big. (Yeah, alternate motive.) If he was not thriving for more power, why in the world would he switch sides for and trying to bring Jiang Hu Piao down?

Then I wonder if the kid whom Qing Mei wanted Wu Xiong to rescue from some bullies was Wen Xiong, so that was when he started to like her?

Acting? I think I was surprised. Not that much surprised since I already saw the potential in Jacky in the past even if it was just bits and pieces here and there. His close to a major role in the past could be for The Magicians of Love but that was still another idol drama with a typical idol formula. This one? Well, it was a romantic comedy in a sense with touches of the gangster theme here and there. But I thought this character carried even more depth though on the villain side. This was a typical bad guy character but it was still something totally different for him. He also said that in one of the BTS. The most powerful part must be in episode 11 with the turn around of his character and more definite signs were seen with the actions that Wen Xiong did after he left the Jiang household.

I could totally feel Wen Xiong’s frustration and his endurance through all these times, keeping everything inside. It didn’t mean that I would take his side since if he thought about it, he wasn’t the only unfortunate guy in this world. There were lots more people out there who couldn’t even get so many opportunities as him. I thought Jacky did really well in that scene with the whole rant though it sort of killed it saying, “Qing Mei, I love you” the second time around before he advanced toward her. That was a bit not that convincing but that was all right.

That reminded me that, no matter how convincing he was, he was just portraying a role so hopefully he wouldn’t get associated with this type of character or keep being tossed these type of roles. There had been enough variations in his past roles so I hope it won’t become so cliche for the upcoming dramas.

Off-screen, Jacky and Joanne got along really well. They were under the same agency after all. They have collaborated in the past before as Fei Nan Du and Xiao Bei in The Magicians of Love but that time, they weren’t linked romantically. (Though it would’ve been fun to see four guys fighting over her in that one.) Anyway, the above cap was for episode 9’s show with Grandpa Jiang and Grandpa Wang. I thought they were trying to shoot two birds with one stone like incorporating the show into the drama as well (since it seemed to be some promo event at the same time). Because the BTS in episode 3 showed Jacky and Shen Dong Jing coming on the stage to sing also. Of course, that wouldn’t be relevant to the drama so it got cut out. The obvious sign of it was seeing Jacky and SDJ abandoning their roles at that point. I’m so serious here! Because both were singing along with the songs being performed on stage. It was their love for music kicking in and they couldn’t help it. (Can’t blame them too much, LOL!)

Another sign of it was seeing Jacky leaning over to Joanne at one point and whispering something to her and she sort of leaned a bit over to him to hear better. It could count as something Wen Xiong could do because of the opportunity of the show, but Jacky’s side showed too much with his love for music to make sense as his character Wen Xiong. (Who seemed so serious and silent for the most part of the drama.)

So what will Wen Xiong do next? Is he going to back down like some typical formula with him suddenly seeing his wrong? Or is he going to choose to either go to prison or die? (It’s a gangster one, after all, he might get whacked before we know it–IF the show creators are doing that.) I’ll do an update later when the show ends. (Or if something comes up that’s worth discussing.) But I seriously hope for a more different outcome. I meant like there’s some major twist. Unlikely. Still, it’s a bit disappointing to see it so typical. Not too lame, but still too typical.

Read this post for updates on the topic.

*All images were captured by DTLCT

Brothers Under The Skin

Actually, I just remembered that this was actually my first TVB series ever and not Road for the Hereos like I mentioned before. But I didn’t count it as official because I was roaming around and playing with my cousins when we were little, so didn’t really watch much or remember some of the details. I only remembered that Felix was quite annoying, bullying Liu Kai Chi. But when I watched it properly this time around, I liked it a tad more–until it went downhill that was.

What was so good about it?

  • Felix Wong. He was a big bully at first, but as the series progressed, I really enjoyed watching him. So hilarious yet so charming at the same time. Yes, he could be super mean at times, but I actually enjoyed it. (Until it got out of hand, of course.) Man, Felix’s acting took it to the max during episode 18 with his soul and this guy’s soul being switched! It was just so addicting watching how he carried on the arrogant attitude. (The other guy was good also, so convincing as the honest and kind dude.) He was honestly robbed in this one. His acting showed he was able to do it YET the whole thing was so messed up. I do understand that one could turn the whole show around. It was actually because of him that I hung on ’til the end YET the plot was killing me so badly.
  • Liu Kai Chi. At first, it seemed like he was really honest and easy to step on. But he was just nice and kind. He didn’t get stepped on easily though, which was great. BUT he even gained such an edge that I sort of despise. I didn’t doubt his acting, but his character was turning worse and worse as it proceeded. I think he got influenced by the servant girl so there was this smart-aleck edge to his attitude that I really, really hated later as well. His acting was still good, it was just that his character was getting quite annoying in the later parts of the series.
  • Felix and Liu Kai Chi as master and servant. They were just too funny to watch. Felix would get the upper hand because he was the young master BUT LKC would get the ultimatum later on because he was the one who could read and write better than Felix. Watching them bicker and fight over Sheren was too funny. But too bad their friendship and/or loyalty to one another wasn’t stressed so strongly anymore. It was like they focused on other annoying things more.
  • Sheren Tang. I didn’t like Sheren much in those days, except for maybe one series or so. And it didn’t help that she was really annoying at the beginning. But it grew on me later and glad she wasn’t going to portray a typical screeching girl like others. She was quite brilliant when she put her stubbornness aside. This role also gave Sheren more room for acting. Yet her character was a different story. She was no different than a villain, except that she kept chanting the typical ‘good guy’ mantra. The fact that she used any type of tactics to deceive others made it even more despicable, especially in Helena’s case. Oh yeah, I thought she should’ve used this approach to act her role ‘Zhou Zhi Ruo’ than using that ‘long face’ for ZZR. Since this one made her look so fake with her pitiful behaviors. I couldn’t even stand it anymore. Regardless of how gentle she was later on. Oh yeah, one more complaint, her skills seemed to be VERY impressive at the beginning, WHY did it deteriorate so bad? Probably too focused on Felix? OR had the scriptwriter(s) forget about that as well? Another pathetic attempt to make her gentle BUT failed. It was like the consistency in her character wasn’t even there and the change did not stick as it should. It was convincing at first yet the whole roller coaster attitude later made it like she was two different characters for some reason. Poor transition. Of course the script, NOT her acting.
  • Felix and Sheren as a couple. I didn’t realize how cute they were together until now. Their characters really match wit per wit. YET I no longer cared for them later due to script errors AND many other lame scenes. I wished there was some other series that would be more worth watching since they did have great chemistry together.
  • Benz Hui. Always liked seeing him around. A righteous character yet hilarious at the same time. But like others in here, I ended up feeling I really, really despised him too. Like how he encouraged the whole forgetting Kiki totally and just focus on Felix and Sheren’s wedding. Yes, Felix should marry the one he loved, BUT he did promise to take care of Kiki before. SO it was a scheme to get the antidote that one time, BUT Felix still tricked Kiki regardless. It was the antidote for him, how could he just forget Kiki like that? How could he encourage his disciples’ behaviors like that? He should’ve just stay out of the whole triangle and let them decide or fight or whatever.
  • Benz Hui, Felix, and Liu Kai Chi as master and disciples. I really liked watching those scenes, especially when they conspired with one another to make other people’s lives miserable. It really showed that LKC’s character wasn’t that dumb. He often contributed his ideas for different plots too. I rather they focused on building their good bond more than just the dragging on and on with the triangle. (I got too happy too early because of how fast the Felix-Sheren-Liu Kai Chi triangle ended. Did not realize Felix’s other triangle was even more unbearable.)
  • Benz Hui and Lisa Lui as a couple. It’s rare that I pay attention too closely to older couples in series. But I loved them together in here.
  • Lisa Lui. I think I could only like her character in here throughout because she was supposedly following her master’s orders before but turned good. YET her character was consistent throughout. Unless she was possessed and was doing things she did not want to, other times, she was kind and nice.
  • Kiki Sheung. Another one that I didn’t really like back then but maybe it was because she was given the wrong roles, etc. But this character was really cool. It allowed for more development and allowed her to show off her acting skills. I honestly felt sorry for her for being used so much though. I can’t believe that the others made her out to be unreasonable. She was being used and she was so hurt to the point that she ended up hurting others. It wasn’t a good excuse, BUT I honestly hated the idea of seeing her sinking further like that and no one sympathized with her. I was rooting for her at times since others were getting on my nerves. They seemed to deserve it the way they were leading on like that. I swear she liked Felix for who he was since the part when his soul was switched, she said she liked him for who he was, NOT his appearance. BUT it was lame trying to make her loud and fierce SO Sheren’s character could score some points. Believe me, between her and Sheren, I used to like Sheren slightly better BUT for this one, I was just judging for character AND this time Kiki won my attention. I thought her best choice must be in the temple. Though I hate people who use the temple to hide, I thought with Kiki’s character, I actually felt genuine toward it because she seemed to have understood it already, letting go of her stubbornness and her past.
  • Felix and Kiki. OMG! I didn’t even realize how much chemistry they had. LOL! Though he was trying to con her to get the meds for his master BUT their scenes were so funny, especially how flaky he sounded BUT she still fell for it since she really liked him. It became really sad as the plot unfolded and her background was revealed. I honestly felt bad for her for having such high hopes in his and her future, like at least there was him yet it wasn’t so after she realized her life was more complicated than just being on the wrong side of the battle between her father and Felix’s master. Everything was coming to her at once, especially how she was betrayed by both what she believed to be the truth but wasn’t so–on so many levels. Then I can’t seem to blame her for doing that curse on him either since she sacrificed herself for Felix yet she found out it was just a lie. I’ve never liked the other girl more than the main girl until now.
  • Lai Hon Chi. Though his character was really annoying at the beginning, he was one of the great actors. The fact that he ended up being one of the rare characters that I liked made it even more ironic.
  • Helena Law Lan. A ghost/fantasy related series without her? Never! She was so convincing as always. I honestly felt pity for her. She lost her daughter, went on the wrong approach to seek justice for this world, thinking she could find someone to replace her daughter’s position in her heart. YET she was just a tool for others to use and dispose of so easily. The saddest thing was she soon joined the forces with the others to gang up on Kiki later on as well. Too bad. I didn’t feel sad for her anymore.

What was bad? Yes, there were bad sides to it too. In fact, WAY too many, but a few points would sum it up already.

  • The majority of the main cast blamed Kiki’s character for being unreasonable. I mentioned this above already BUT I just have to emphasize it here again. Come on now! What they did were so wrong! I know that Felix Lok’s character was scheming and they needed the antidote to save Benz. BUT that was messed up with letting Felix seduce Kiki and that almost cost her life. IF she had died, what would they do? I wouldn’t be surprised if they just moved on. They probably have it that she rather died since they wouldn’t be bothered anymore. I honestly hated that they kept saying it was her fault later on. YES, it was she who caused some of those troubles. BUT if they hadn’t used her and then tossed her aside like they couldn’t care less, then she wouldn’t have done what she did. It was really stupid that they insisted on being right and it sounded reasonable that they had no choice BUT to use Kiki. IF they were so good, they could have gone inside and stolen the antidote on their own OR fight Felix Lok to get it. BUT they had to sink so low as to use Kiki like that AND then blamed her for being unreasonable later. They weren’t the only ones having feelings. She had some too AND she really fell for Felix. So how could she just forget about it? An on and off switch? Great… Perhaps, the only thing that made me forgive them a little more WAS Felix saying that he owed her more than he could ever repay so he can’t just leave her alone. At least someone found his heart. YET things just got worse and worse and worse with the lot acting all righteous on the surface BUT using such despicable tactics to achieve their means throughout. The fact that they shrugged Kiki and her father’s attempts to help time after time WAS just beyond tolerance. The funniest thing and most despicable thing was that they would call Kiki and her father in the most respectable tone and act in the most respectable manner when they needed something, BUT when it was done, they would shrug it off and make it like those two killed all their ancestors SO they had no choice but to ‘X’ them out. Ridiculous to no end!
  • Sheren’s servant girl. I don’t know. I can’t seem to stand her. She was rude, loud, and ignorant. Unreasonable too. Yes, she was just a servant and we can say forget it about her being educated BUT it just got on my nerves each time she interrupted and made things worse. What right did she have to issue the orders to beat Kiki up that one time? AND what right did she have to scold at Helena’s character? Helena was really nice and kind to her and her master when they stayed in Helena’s place. BUT what did she get back? The rude treatment and the scolding marathon. So disrespectful. AND gosh, her loudness was like killing my patience. It was like she never knew how to shut up! It was like she was a mute in her past life so now she had to compensate for it. Oh yeah, when she needed to talk to provide info, she didn’t. BUT other times, she didn’t know when to shut up.
  • Inconsistency with characters and plot. It kind of made sense with some parts BUT it was too lame seeing how the majority of the characters forgot what the heck they were saying before. Promises were forgotten just like that even if it was just minutes ago. It made all characters so freaking annoying because they couldn’t even keep a promise. It was like trying our patience too much. NO one kept their promises in here. It was just lame.
  • The greatest sin WAS blaming Heaven. Pathetic attempt to make it tragic. They kept promising, promising, promising and going back on their words YET were never punished. Then the last part, they tried to make everything super tragic with Felix and Sheren’s part. What the heck? They went back on their words numerous times already and kept making Kiki and her father out to be bad when the two helped them so much. Now, they were punished and wanted to blame Heaven, saying that they would fight against Heaven no matter what to stay together since loving each other was NOT a crime? I know there was the difference because Sheren had promised with blood SO it became even more serious YET it was pathetic to even think they were good people in the first place.

The fact that this series had such a good cast made it even more pitiful in the end. The plot had potential BUT the character developments were the worst of it all. I hated it that all the supposedly good people in here were so hypocritical. They just used others to their advantage AND still thought it was just right to do that. Messed up! I said it many times in the past already, I didn’t care if the character wasn’t perfect or had other shortfalls, BUT using others like that was just wrong in my book. Somehow, I was just rooting for Felix Lok to kill them all off. They were just hypocrites attempting to make Kiki’s character bad by acting ridiculously pitiful.

So much for being part of the ’80s classics! Honesty, the worst out of the lot. AGAIN, only the acting was good. The rest were just pure crap due to poor character developments and plot. It couldn’t even hold true to anything when TVB tried to divert away from those Jin Yong adaptations. I swear IF they had focused on the comedy scenes more, I would be less pissed. Since I rather they be random more than acting like super annoying, despicable beings. Because I found everyone charming in those scenes (well minus that annoying servant girl BUT still the rest of the cast made up for it).

I sort of remember how Felix said about TVB slamming some series toward him because he was disobeying? Was this one of it? (Or did I remember wrong?)