Raising the Bar

Surprisingly, I also watched this ages back and do not remember much anymore. However, I couldn’t get some things out of my mind regarding this for some reason, so I thought I might as well do a review and get it all out. I have already forgotten about most of the characters since there were a lot. Yet I remember some stuff, so will try to discuss those areas.

The reason why I even watched this in the first place was because of Ben Wong and how he managed to make it back to the main lead at long last. Yes, that was the sole reason why I wanted to watch at first. I usually do not watch legal series, but I made an exception for Ben. So, yeah, if Ben ever read this, he should be happy, lol. (YEAH, right, lol.) Anyway, how was it? To say that it was a mistake was an understatement. There were some good things about it–for sure. But some things were just too whatever.

Main Cast:

  • Ben Wong as Marcus Fan Chi Ngai (范智毅). So, Ben’s back as the main guy. How was he? In a sense of acting, I didn’t doubt him at all throughout. He delivered. It was a long journey for him making up top again so I applaud him. In a sense of character, I guess he was a typical good guy, so there wasn’t much to say about that. I actually liked his goofy off-work side more, lol. Because he would end up in all these strange debates with the other senior lawyers or with his friends.
  • Louis Cheung as Quinton Chow Chi Pok (周梓博). Coming in from Black Heart White Soul, I say my perception was mixed feelings. Yes, my last series of him before watching this one was that one, so yeah, it was going great for him really. (Yes, sarcasm.) However, I swear, he did better in the other one. Yes, even if he was a mix character in the other one, he delivered better in terms of acting. In this one, I thought he was too trying, possibly because of taking on a student a role or something. I’m not sure. I couldn’t figure it out. But his charater was all right. Nothing really special that stood out for me. At least, he wasn’t annoying either?
  • Ram Chiang as Woody Lam Sam Muk (林森木). He was the other shining character in here for me. I thought he contributed to shouldering the series for the majority of the main cast already and deserved a call out for that. He had some interesting insights and often the voice of reason among their group of senior lawyers at times.
  • Grace Chan as Giselle Tong Ching Chi (唐靖姿). I tried really hard to like her but I just couldn’t. Seriously, it was really hard. First, I had my bias with Grace–thanks a lot to Overachievers, I didn’t like her at all in there. So yeah, seeing her in here, it was hard to restrain. Battling that bias took several episodes for me and it became easier because once I got into her character, I did like her ambition and her willingness to work toward her goal. Her character was interesting in that sense and she did have some principles or at least, tried to live by the codes, not cutting corners, etc. But as the series went along, her character became boring for me in a sense. I guess, I was just impatient. So I tried to focus on other parts of the plot and see how it went with her journey to becoming a lawyer. What went completely downhill and became a nail in the coffin for me was the last conflict of the series. The one where Marcus was accused of having an affair with one of the students (or it was said he manipulated his way into it via his power). I seriously wanted to reach into the screen and strangle her. Yeah, that bad. I know we–as the audience–witnessed along with Giselle throughout how lawyers had gone astray or forgot their original goal after having been in the industry for too long. Giselle, herself, was also a victim of those harassment throughout the series. However, having been with Marcus for that long and understanding him like that, how could she disregard his words and believe the other girl completely? What happened to innocent until proven guilty or relying on evidence or whatever else. I do understand in those cases, there was a posibility of people in higher places abusing their power, etc. However, I thought she would have given Marcus the benefit of a doubt because she worked alongside him for so long. Nope, she not only disregard his integrity entirely but also withheld evidence, causing the situation to drag out until the girl’s family member decided to submit the journal on her own. What the hell? I don’t know how the legal system over there work (because I don’t live there, so this isn’t a snappy comment, just saying I don’t have firsthand information), but when you found something relevant to an ongoing case, you submit it. Or at least, that was how it was supposed to be. She withheld it and thought it was fine? Seriously? Even though it was someone’s personal journal, but there was an ongoing case regarding a very serious matter, that should qualify as evidence. I don’t know if that was an error of the scriptwriters OR just a flaw in the character, but that totally did it for me, not caring for her character at all. She shoudln’t have become a lawyer either if she acted like that. OR maybe she fitted right in with all those flaky lawyers? Seriously, I didn’t even know why Marcus forgave her at all. Sure, she had determination, etc. But she made the wrong call major time regarding legalities.

Supporting:

  • Elaine Yiu as Vivian Cheung Wai Wan (張慧芸). I was really, really surprised they didn’t throw Elaine off the bus this time. Well, in some ways, they did. She cheated, no doubt about it. But I was surprised they redeemed her later and made her character realized what was important during the car accident scene. I was also surprised that they allowed for her to return to her family all intact and didn’t forgo some side drama in that area also. It was strange because I swear I still have PTSD from all the times TVB threw Elaine under the bus because she wasn’t the main lead and was taking on continuous similar roles. I guessed that because they had to focus on other major characters, so they just let her off–or ran out of time. But I liked that she got to portray a lawyer this time around.
  • Natalie Tong as Ashley Cheng Cheuk Tung (鄭妁彤). I never thought there came the day I wanted Natalie to have more scenes. Yes, coming from me who kept complaining nonstop about her repetitive roles. However, this was seriously a different type of role for her and shone through. I was surprised they let her portray this role since it was completely different from her cutesy roles or innocent ones. I actually quite liked this side of Natalie with the professional front, but also a mysterious background–somewhat at first. She was daring, witty and charming. It was indeed addicting to watch her in here. I thought this type of role was more challeinging for her or more interesting to watch than the usual they kept giving her. It seemed more of a challenge.
  • Timothy Cheng as Duncan Yam Suen Yip (任雋燁). He was hilarious. Seriously, he cooked up a lot of schemes for Marcus. One of the rare roles I liked of his. Maybe it was because whenever I watched a series he was in, he took on a less than likable role. So, yes, this one was refreshing for me in that playful and light-hearted way. Of course, he took part in his own set of intense dramas, but for the majority of the time, he seemed to take on a comedic role among their group of senior lawyers.
  • Elena Kong as Judge Amanda Lui (呂官). I don’t remember much about her anymore. But I remember liking her.
  • Sam Tsang as Don Chu Yiu Lik (朱耀力). I kind of liked him at first, then the cheating came into play and I was just like, throw him away. However, for some odd reason, knowing his age, I didn’t find him trying too hard the way Louis did with his lively vibe. Maybe it was Sam’s experience or how his character was that made it less annoying. I don’t know.

Pairings:

  • Ben and Elaine. I remember reading some articles about how Elaine talked about her collaboration with Ben and they worked well together because they knew each other a long time already, etc. I don’t want to disregard all that. I thought it was interesting in a way that they paired up in here and even have a small family of their own. However, I still didn’t feel the chemistry as strong. Sure, I liked them together at times and the way they were at times. It seemed they were comfortable in their roles and their interactions. That was good. But in my weird brain, it didn’t work as a “wow” over the top chemistry as I spotted with some of their past on screen partners. It was still fun to watch though.
  • Elaine and Sam. I know, I must be crazy to be put them in. But I swear they had more chemistry for some odd reason. AND no, I don’t promote cheating or whatever. I hate those people and their excuses the most. However, in an interesting turn of events, them as actor and actress, I found more chemistry with them for some reason. So, what I’m trying to say is if they ever work together in another drama, I would support this pairing.
  • Natalie and Timothy. Normally, I wouldn’t like this repetitive formula. But considering the options of the drama, I found them much more interesting to watch than some couples in here. It was somewhat tragic or maybe just sad when the plot was laid out at some parts. But the ending was seriously hilarious. He had to work super hard for their family of three, lol.

Recommended? I would say you have to love the main cast to watch. It was hard for me mostly because of some of the things I listed up there. So, it wasn’t enjoyable for me. But those who like legal dramas might want to check it out. It’s not in my top 20, but it was somewhat okay to watch.

Ghost Dragon of Cold Mountain

I also watched this ages back but just didn’t review it yet. How was it? It actually started really strong and then died down like somewhere along the way–as often was with TVB series. Not saying it was terrible, but I thought they sort of ran out of ideas after a while and wanted to let Selena portray double roles so that was added to crank out more episodes. I like Selena, okay? I thought her portrayals were impressive, but I found the twins’ storyline unnecessary. So the point? It should have been like 20-25 episodes. Then it would have been perfect because it was actually one of the decent ancient series TVB produced for a while now.

Main Cast:

  • Kenneth Ma as Chu Cheung Sing (朱長勝). Mixed feelings. I meant I like Kenneth and all and appreciated his effort put into the role. But I felt it was an easy win for him. Like there wasn’t anything special that he hasn’t done before in the past. His performance was consistent throughout and he led the audience through the story and convinced us he was that character. However, like I said, it wasn’t particularly challenging. He did as was expected of the role, nothing more. The character was all right. It was a typical smart-aleck character that later turned really dark because of the events of the plot. And oh yeah, he was already on thin lines with me yet what drove it further into insanity was how he criticized Kwan Chiu and didn’t trust her because of her past record YET asked to be forgiven for what he’d done? Well, it wasn’t his fault with the trap, but seriously, the others sure let him off easily for stuff.
  • Rosina Lin (林夏薇) as Yeung Lau (楊柳). I was surprised to like her character in here since I watched her in another series and felt annoyed with her. Looking back, it was possibly the general series itself and how it wasn’t well-written anyway, so the majority of the characters automatically became annoying, lol. But she did a nice job in here, portraying her feisty and witty character. She was very convincing in regard to her strong personality as well as her softhearted side–as the plot led us into at one point. She was my favorite female character in here because she represented the strong, intelligent female lead well. It actually did a character justice for once with strong characters and not steer toward some unnecessary element and ended up becoming disappointing. So, yes, I was glad that her character didn’t get ruin because of the twist of the later events of the overall story. Regarding the side romance story in the 1/3 way into the story, I forgave her. Because the other guy was too cunning. Who could blame her for being tricked? He was indeed a pro.
  • Pierre Ngo as Ngau Dai Lik (牛大力). It was interesting that Pierre got to be one of the main leads once again. It seemed like ages ago that he was. Just saying, lol. His character was so simple-minded. However, it was just that he was too hot-headed at times. Although he appeared rough or tried to be, he was really soft-hearted. Sure, he could be so impatient at times, but he wasn’t a coward at that. He just needed to settle down and be more patient when it came to figuring out the cases itself. He actually had some experiences doing his robber days, lol. So that wasn’t all for nothing. He was just too impatient and wanted to take actions more than sit around and think too much, that was all. I didn’t think that he was too dumb comparing to the rest of the group. However, it made his character different from the rest of them.
  • Power Chan as Ma Chuen Kung (馬川芎). The reason why I started to watch this in the first place was because Power’s character in another series mentioned it, lol. I knew about the series but didn’t want to watch it at that that time it came out, but yeah. Power’s AD got to me, lol. I do like Power, so of course, I checked it out for him. How was his character in here? Unlike his usual hot-headed roles, he was actually calm and somewhat composed in here. Well, he had this arrogance about him that was hard to endure for some characters in here. Yet it made sense because he came from generations of famous medics. It made sense he was proud of his ancestry and his achievements thus far. He did work super hard to get there. So why shouldn’t he, right? Somehow along the way, he managed to get along with everyone and they ended up forming this unbreakable bond, which was touching in a sense. What made me quite upset with him was how he decided to dictate his sister’s life just because he was the older brother. He kept forcing her to get married and all, not allowing her to choose her own path. Sure, he felt guilty and was trying to make up for not being there for her since ages ago. Yet, that wasn’t a good excuse. She almost married that one so-called “model” citizen and got herself killed if she didn’t pull those tricks. So, I guess, what I was trying to say was his overly traditional ways just rubbed me wrong. It gave off major controlling vibe and made him so unreasonable. Not to mention how I could just say he was just trying to get rid of her by marrying her off to some dude. I know it wasn’t, but the way he kept pushing was super annoying. And when I thought I was done with tearing his character apart, I found more. Yes, you would think I was done. But the part where the guys found out how Cheung Sing got Yan Mei Neong pregnant, he lectured Cheung Sing, which he had the right to because he cared. However, what he said along the way made me wanted to scream. He said it was all right that Cheung Sing “went out to play yet can’t invest real emotions into it” aka he approved cheating. Such a traditional type of thinking that made it infuriating. Yeah, you’re all like it fitted with the era because of their old views. But it was a never-changing element in series–regardless of ancient or modern backdrop–that made it ridiculous. He picked and chose what he wanted to follow, just like those scholars back then did. I’m not saying he was a terrible person, considering how he was a product of his time. Yet it was just something I can’t let it slide just because.
  • Raymond Cho as Hung Sup Kau (熊十九). OMG, it was hilarious that he acted all brave and tough and then ran when they tried to ask him some questions. He was also quite scared of blood. Everyone had their weaknesses, but he took it to another level with his fear. It was probably created for dramatic effect and/or humor. It was somewhat of a funny character for Ray. Not to mention a major role as well. Half of the stuff he did and said got me cracking up so hard at times. He was possibly responsible for a third of the humorous scenes in the series. Well, that was until his storyline got really serious and sad–like some of them–in here. This was actually one of the worth-watching roles for Ray. Because they allowed him to perform a more complex character than just some lines here and there and then be on his way again. He could be the comedic element to the plot as an overall yet also had his own storyline as well. He was sometimes too hot-headed, but also had this righteous streak in him that was hard to just ignore. I sort of forgave him for half of the stuff he did because of his background more versus how those so-called goody two shoes scholars who were supposed to be good yet crossed lines like no tomorrow and justified it at every turn.
  • Selena Li as Tou Fa (桃花) and Yan Mei Neong (殷媚娘). Like I said, her performances for both characters were impressive with showing us the differences between the sisters, etc. But it was not that necessary for her second role. Although it did carry some mysterious vibe, they didn’t have to dramatize everything and then killed off her first role just to have Kenneth’s character ended up with the second role. What is with people and their fantasy of being with twins? Yes, I said it. I’ve seen enough of those stories over the years that I’m sick and tired of the approach. They could have been twins and then have the same storyline with her being involved with the grand scheme at the end, but they could have edited out how she was also romantically involved with the same guy as her sister. Seriously? It reminded me of Into Thin Air, which they wasted time on the twins storyline as well, which ruined that series and dragged it out at the end. Although Tou Fa talked like she valued money, but she wasn’t the greedy type who took advantage of others. She knew what was hers and didn’t things without considerations. She was loud and stubborn yet her heart was just so soft at times, causing her to be taking advantage of. She was also forced into maintaining those stupid traditional values just because and it ended up reducing her role to a doormat. That was why it was even more frustrating to see her character die just like that. Yan Mei Neong somehow repented later yet I felt she sure was let off so easily. She harmed so many people and caused so much conflict yet did like one or two things before she was forgiven. Amnesia also aided greatly for her to have a start over. It also made the ending scene ten times more pathetic. And oh yeah, as I looked back for this review, I realized something. Her character could be an intense version of both Cau Yuet and Dong Yee. Why did I say that? Come on, that case was really small, but Dong Yee disregarded her good sisters’ warning and wanted to sold the info to the highest bidder. She was an immature compared to Yan Mei Neong , so obviously, she was brought down too easily. But the concept was still the same with wanting to sell information to get rich. The Cau Yuet element was, of course, the part that was romantically linked to Cheung Sing. However, Cau Yuet had more right to be around and making ruptures in Chueng Sing’s life than Yan Mei Neong. Because she was part of his past, come on. She was dubbed as a third-party because he was married already at that point YET the complexity of the past chapter made more sense if she were to show up and demand answers. Yet somehow, Mei Neong was forgiven and gotten a fresh start over? Well, we never did know what became the life of Cau Yuet except she left (and was fortunate enough to be a life and have afresh start), but I would rather they develop more to that story than tried to recrate that element in here and drag it out.

Supporting:

  • Lau Kong as Fun Nam Tin (鳳南天). Their all fierce leader, but could be quite soft-hearted at times too–when it came to their little group. However, it was revealed later that he had a hidden agenda. It sure threw me off all right. He was a secret agent for a rival country. So, that was a real kick all right. It made sense since Lau Kong wouldn’t portray such a tamed role in such an intense series. Of course, he had to take part in the final episodes to crank up the hype and also the force they needed to end the series on a high note.
  • Eric Li as Seh Bak Nin (佘百年). Trapped in a forever villain cycle, of course, he had to take on the villainous role once again, lol. Poor Eric. But I guess someone had to do it. However, that didn’t mean he slacked off on his acting. Although he was petty in many ways and was jealous of Cheung Sing, Eric brought out the character quite well, allowing the audience to see what type of struggles he was going through. The part where he thought he was doing his best to prove himself, but found out he was just a replacement for someone else was quite heartbreaking. He turned down many opportunities to stay behind, showing his loyalty to them yet couldn’t be compared to someone else who wasn’t around. It sure hurt. In a way, he wasn’t a typical villain as his usual role was with loving to torture others or a spoiled young master. It showed he had a life goal and somehow it showed his journey to going down a less than favorable path later on. Somewhata halfway complex villain since it showed his struggles at first yet totally sent him on a downward spiral that led to becoming a typical villain, getting rid of everyone who was in his path.
  • Candy Cheung as Ma Wan Ling (馬雲苓) / Kwan Chiu (關超). She rubbed me the wrong way from the start. I got it, she had a tough childhood and it made sense she became that way. But I didn’t have to like her. It somewhat improved later just because other elements in the story annoyed me more, lol, so she was let off.
  • Aurora Li as Mo (舞). At first, I thought it was kind of cool sto see another female agent among the group. I was all right with her competitive streak at times and her pride in her capabilities. After all, she did work hard for it. So, that wasn’t a turn off. However, she lost points with me after she made fun of Yeung Lau for being conned by the other dude. Because that was personal attack and pettiness that didn’t sit well with being a special agent. It made her gossipy and ridiculous. The irony? She also got conned by a man, and the worst part? She lost her life. To clarify, I wasn’t celebrating her death, just thought how funny in the most twisted way that her ending was even worse than she criticized others for.
  • Ram Chiang as Emperor Chiu Juk Hei (皇上趙旭熹). Goofy emperor role. I would say he was born in the wrong time. Because he was too simple-minded for such circumstances. Well, his heart was in the right place. But he just didn’t have what it took to rule over so many complex parties and their different agendas. If he had a great group of advisors, it could work. However, those were my initial optimistic point of view. Because this emperor sure deserved all the things done to him. Seriously, he was easily swayed and easily conned. He always fell into others’ traps yet never learned anything. He lacked critical thinking skills severely yet thought he was talented. He often listened to whoever he thought made sense, not thinking for himself. Sure, some traps were so elaborate and complex. Yet, I thought he would at least learn after some stuff he went through. Yet no, he just kept getting worse and worse. It took Yan Mei Neong’s secret message for him to turn around. Seriously. Even if he ended up faking his death to live a simple life at the end, I still couldn’t forgive him completely. But I guess it was about time he stepped down. He really wasn’t suitable to be a king regardless. It was better for him to have that little escape plan via Chuen Kung’s conspiracy.
  • Mary Hon as Empress Dowager Gung Shun Bik (太后公孫璧). I knew she was up to no good. Mary delivered flawlessly, of course. Was there ever doubt? She got it down. Whether it was the arrogance, the cunning nature, the royal air, she nailed it. She brought the character alive through her performance. Not to mention the turn around later that made it convincing. I guess in a way, she was just arrogant and wanted to rely on her family background to maintain her lavishing lifestyle. Because she didn’t approve of the fourth prince’s attempt to overthrow the useless king either. At least, not at first when she found out. Later, she showed legit concern for him, even if she didn’t have to.
  • Cheung Kwok Keung as Fourth Prince Chiu Chun Dhun (四王爺趙存端). No surprise he had to be the evil character again, lol. It just felt a bit repetitive. But he did well. At first, I was rolling my eyes at his list of excuses to snatch the crown for himself. Yet by the time the ending conflicts rolled around, I realized how right he was. The other dude wasn’t suitable to be king at all, only knew how to play and stuff, not taking things seriously. So, of course, I didn’t blame him when he said he didn’t want to help. Why should he? The real reason was, he was already carrying out secret missions via his extensive network. He was just messing around with Chuen Kung when Chuen Kung sought him out for help. It was hilarious really. Come on, no one got hurt, right? It was also strange how they were all uniting to fight outside forces near the end. And somehow, he got his wish with becoming the king at long last. Yet it seemed like he also learned a cold, hard lesson after having at the temple for a while. It gave him a lot of time to reflect while he was away from all that power.
  • Law Lok Lam as Hung Fung (熊峰). Hung Sup Kau’s father. I felt bad for him. His son kept blocking his path whenever he scored some big deal or was going to engage in some side business, lol. He was one of my favorite characters in here because he wasn’t fake. He might be rouge, hot-headed, slick with his moves to stay under the radar, whatever. But at least, he didn’t act all goody-two shoes either. Half of his businesses around town showed his power and his influence. Yet he actually showed up when it mattered.
  • Yoyo Chen as Cau Yuet (秋月). Chu Cheung Sing’s ex-lover. I do feel bad for her. Seriously, how many times did she have to get conned? If one looked at the current situation, one would say she was despicable to try to get together with a married man. However, that was her history, her past with him. She thought she had a second chance–after her tragedies–to reunite with the one she loved. However, she was used as a pawn to solve a case. I thought that she was brushed aside so easily and the scriptwriters downplayed the situation major time just to excuse the main guy’s behaviors. If anyone wanted to have some type of love triangle in here, her character was it. Possibly put in the struggle of seeing a past lover again and his love for his wife, NOT conjuring up the twins sisters fantasy with that triangle at the end. However, the writers just decided it was a good idea to use Cau Yuet and acted like she was the problem. Yoyo isn’t on my top list of a favorite actress, but seriously, the writers did her character an injustice that I couldn’t let go hence affecting my opinions of other characters as well, namely the main couple.
  • Charmaine Li as Dong Yee (冬兒). He killed her supposed “good sister” because she wanted to sell the country’s secret for money instead of handing it over to the proper channels thus helping the country. It was indeed scary. Well, we all need money to live, but she sure took it to another level. Even if she didn’t care for the country or whatever, she could have considered her good sister and all they’ve been through together. Instead, she chose to betray them for a little money.
  • Jess Sum as Chun Mui (春梅).
  • Kibby Lau as Ha Lin (夏蓮).
  • Iva Law as Lee Gwai Lan (李桂蘭).

Others:

  • Matthew Ko as Chu Yuk Lau (朱玉樓). I thought it was all downward for him at this point. It was like there was a time when had more favorable roles. Yet now he was back to portraying despicable smaller characters. Acting wise, I thought he had already made some sort of progress, not so wooden like he once did with his old vicious roles, so I guess it wasn’t really a miss. His character? I already suspected him when he browsed the brothels. Yeah, judging him. But if he was indeed a poor scholar trying to make a name for himself, why was he visiting brothels? He had to focus on his studies and much more. That detail stuck out like a sore thumb. When I watched it for the first time, I thought perhaps, they were trying to mimic another element of those classic stories about scholars meeting an artisan or something. Yet it was soon revealed that he was just some despicable person who thrived on his cons. It actually fitted with pointing out those fake individuals who were good at disguising themselves.
  • Raymond Chiu as Dai Ho Yan (戴浩仁). One of the suitors that Chuen Kung set up for Kwan Chiu. I thought he just had a very small role since they were just playing tricks on him to get him to back off, etc. However, he became a key character in a case later on. He sure was creepy all right. I just thought that he was one of those typical spoiled, arrogant kid. However, he was so cruel, ruthless even, willing to go to the extreme for his greed and selfishness. Appearing in such a brief case, he performed well, carrying through that character with the right touch.
  • Sam Tsang as Chan Gut (陳吉) and Chan Lei (陳利). Another pair of twins for the story. Chen Gut was a conman who posed as a Taoist and was in conspiracy with the empress dowager and the fourth prince in order to dethrone the king by making it look like the king was superstitious and unreasonable, etc. I haven’t watched Sam in an ancient series for a while now and at first, I felt it was such a shame he had to portray such a role. But once again, I guessed someone had to do it, so yeah. It was obvious he ran a cult-like religious group and attempted to influence the citizens through cheap tricks and deception. His unrealistic principles and commandments made it so obvious that he was up to no good. Chuen Kung was right that only the weak-minded were susceptible to his schemes. Then as the plot moved forward and how Sam got an opportunity to portray double roles as well, that cranked my interest up a bit. Chen Lei, unlike his twin brother, was just a normal person who lived a simplistic life by working hard. It was revealed that he knew of his brother’s deeds but did not interfere. He was later tracked down and forced to help them with exposing his brother.
  • Aaryn Cheung as Hak Ci (客似).
  • Johnathan Cheung as Prince of Jurchen Kingdom (金國太子).
  • Jimmy Au as General Fu Man (撫蠻將軍). He was in charge of the cannon ammunition. He only appeared in the last part of the series but played a major role in turning the events around to their advantage.

Relationships – family, friends, romances, etc.:

  • Kenneth/ Chu Cheung Sing and Selena/ Tou Fa. I only acknowledge this couple–even though both characters were portrayed by Selena. Because like I said above, I don’t care for writers’ attempt to fulfill twins’ fantasy once again. That means, in my mind, I edited out that part when thinking of this series if I ever go back to watch it again. Anyway, Kenneth and Selena proved their chemistry as they portrayed husband and wife this time. Both were hilarious in their roles and matched very well. They weren’t just a typical silly couple. That was just the surface. They supported each other through different trials. Yet still learned to maintain a positive attitude each time. That was until the writers went crazy and decided to introduce other formulas into it to tear them apart (aka killing her). She seemed silly on the surface, but understood him very well and actually supported him in returning to become an agent for the special agency. She knew he loved doing that, so encouraged him on. It was obvious that he loved her dearly and would do anything to protect her.
  • Pierre/Ngau Dai Lik and Rosina/ Yeung Lau. They were surprisingly an interesting pairing. I enjoyed watching their scenes together. I guessed they represented the bickering couple in here. Because at first, they didn’t really get along, clashing at almost every circumstance. The only reason why they hadn’t killed each other yet was because they needed to cooperate in order to complete their missions. It wasn’t like they always fought. Because when it came to the most important matters, they had the same mentality. So that helped them with achieving their goals. Or like that one time when they all kept the secret with the others in regard to that one couple eloping.
  • Kenneth, Rosina, Piere, and Power as a team. I really liked seeing them work together. First, they clashed and all. Yet they learned that each and every one of them had a righteous streak in them, so they took that as a good sign and worked more smoothly together. They all learned and grew throughout the events of the stories and cases and eventually becoming almost like family. Their bonds were convincing as the story unfolded with different events happening throughout.
  • Law Lok Lam/Hung Fung and Raymond Cho/ Hung Sup Kau as father and son. It was hilarious to watch to them. They couldn’t be more different. Sup Kau was sooo naive regarding the different deals his father had been carrying on. He thought it was so simple, but that was far from the truth. He had a righteous heart yet seemed to be born on the wrong side hence kept sabotaging his father’s efforts by accident. I sort of felt bad for the father, lol. All in all though, I enjoyed their strange father and son relationship. Both were equally stubborn, so I guess they had that as a similar trait yet it wasn’t a good one to both have, considering how extreme it could get with their arguments.

Likes:

  • Cases. The variety of cases were interesting enough to keep the series going and allowed us to understand the characters more and more through their interactions with others or how they approached the events throughout.
  • Humor. The light jokes here and there cushioned some of the seriousness of the events. However, I thought only the side jokes from some characters made it bearable while others could be too much at times. If only they kept it somewhat consistent with some characters instead of trying to put everything in the mix. It felt somewhat bloated at times. So yeah.

Dislikes:

  • Twins sisters’ love triangle element. Yes, I had to placed it in here as well and continue my petty rants, lol. Again, like I said above, I was fine with Yan Mei Neong being there and her involvement in the major plot later on. I just didn’t like the repetitive formula of having them being involved with the same guy–like many past series had approached it. Just stop it already. It had already been done to death. If I didn’t know better, I would say one of the writers had an eye for his sister-in-law hence using this opportunity to write such a twist in here to fulfill his fantasy. Yes, they (the writers) placed the formula in here, so don’t blame me for thinking that.
  • The importance of having children. Seriously, typical plot formula with forcing couples to have kids just because some bloodline stuff. Although it was more realistic with placing in this bit, considering how it was in the ancient times after all. However, it made for a major turn off for me. I rather they had kids because the wanted kids and NOT because of some duty or obligation they had to fulfill. It would have been even better if for once, they didn’t want kids and were fine with it than forcing the whole concept through. It was just a typical formula that continued to define marriage as an overall and women’s roles in general. (Despite Kwan Chiu’s hidden agenda, she was right when she questioned her so-called “brother” about a woman’s role and what they could and could not do. Granted, it was the ancient times YET she broke past the barriers with her questions.) Well, it was just pure entertainment so I shouldn’t be so bitter about it. But it was a shame that no matter, TVB could never break out of the mold. Also, this was the other reason why I hated that the twins having a link to one guy. Because it seemed like it was compensating for the main guy by giving him a kid later on, just like he wanted thus reducing the second twin role to nothing more than an incubator. Yes, I said it. I’m so done. I just didn’t see the point. Why can’t the writers just leave the story at that after Cheung Sing proved that he didn’t care for the baby thing and somehow they just found their way back to one another? Or just plain scrap that storyline altogether since they couldn’t commit with addressing the no baby situation.
  • Ripped off of Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber formula. I’m talking about how Yan Mei Neong made Chu Cheung Sing promised to do three things for her. Seriously, it wasn’t like Jin Yong invented it with the whole making promises thing. But he made it famous through his works. It continued to repeat through various series already. But because of how overused it had become, it made me even more annoyed hence it gave me even more ammo to attack the plot in general.

Discussions:

  • Assassins turned special agency theme. I read somewhere regarding how it was supposed to be a group of assassins instead of special guards. They actually filmed the promo clip as such. However, it was changed into a similar format as the four great detective guards that Wen Rui An created. Although the current story was considered decent, it was a shame that they couldn’t go with the original theme. Because the four detective guards type of plotline had already been portrayed numerous times already. It would have been interesting to see a group of assassins being the highlight of the series. Talking about the inspiration of the four detective guards, I found it funny that the four main characters were crippled by circumstances near the end yet it took Hung Fung to take some actions within his group. The point? Law Lok Lam portrayed Leng Xue in the ATV version of the four great detective guards, lol. In fact, he was my favorite Leng Xue till this day. No one else had lived up to it, only close second, but that was about it. Well, Hung Fung wasn’t the mastermind behind it, but at least, they needed his group to help as far as resources were needed.
  • The irony of getting rid of the fourth prince and then needing to seek him out later. Anyone seen that one coming? Well, the first time around I watched, of course I didn’t. But I had to laugh at it when watching the second time around, realizing what was going on. The impact of the later events made it seemed like so tamed with the fourth prince’s schemes.
  • The ending. Halfway satisfied actually. Regarding the royal conflicts and various power grabs, it wrapped up fine. The dissatisfaction was obviously coming the fact that the writers killed Tao Fa and turned the romance part regarding Cheung Sing into a joke. So, by that time, I only cared about Yeung Lau and Dai Lik.

Recommended? Once again, I think if you like the main cast, you would love it. And of course, no one is as stingy as like me to notice some stuff, so I think it was a success overall. Hey, I actually watched it a second time to do this review. So, that said something.

The Rough Ride

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

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

Main Cast:

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

Supporting:

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

Others:

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

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

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

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

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

The Return of Wong Fei Hung

After watching this, I had to re-analyze all Andy Lau dramas back then when he was still with TVB. I used to think that Felix Wong was the one who got the short end of the stick, but Andy wasn’t too far behind. I have watched the majority of Andy’s TV series so I think I could say something about that. Anyway, back to this series–before I get too side-tracked. It wasn’t like that terrible, comparing to some other supposedly Golden ’80s series I watched before. However, it was so disorganized that I didn’t know what to think of it, except to treat it as one of those series where you watch for the stars only, not caring much about the story. (It’s like people make fun of Taiwanese idol dramas for having pretty faces only but nothing else. That was what I felt about this and some other TV series back then. They just came up with a loose story so we could stare at beautiful people.) The overall story wasn’t that bad, but I was talking about the focus at times and then the wrap-up. It wasn’t doing anyone justice.

First off, the English title was misleading to say the least. The Chinese title was more accurate–Po Chi Lam (寶芝林) because it was the story about all of Wong Fei Hung’s disciples, not just him. The story was all right with how Wong Fei Hung met his disciples and how they eventually became his disciples. It was in a sense, they did have good and bad times and it wasn’t too cheesy that they were so perfect or always doing good. They had their moments and when it mattered, they stuck up for one another. Yet I had a feeling throughout that the disciples would lead to Wong’s downfall. But that wasn’t so. His son (portrayed by Lee Kwok Lun) was the one who died, and what a tragedy too. Not to mention so frustrating.

What got me mad about the whole story was like they had a good story about Wong Fei Hung’s side and the other local sect competing, but didn’t develop it well. It was like they wanted everything in the mix but wrapped up poorly. Like how there were different story arches with Kent Tong’s character helping his master with overthrowing the current king but also wanted to focus on the triangle with him, Yammie and Andy’s characters. The triangle annoyed me to no end. The fact that Andy and Yammie weren’t paired off was frustrating to me on many levels. I understood why and the fact that Heir To The Throne Is… (真命天子) was after this made it funnier since I watched the other one ages back already.

I actually quite liked Yammie’s character, Au Yeung Ching Ching. She was very independent, even for women back then who were not allowed much freedom or rights. She worked hard and helped her mother to maintain a living by doing what she could. She knew the reality of the situation and did not complain about the hardships her family had endured. She was also very understanding–as far as can be–regarding Lam Sai Wing (Andy Lau) and what he had to do. She knew everyone had their jobs to do and they were all trying to make the best of their lives. Yes, she did throw some side tantrums and was jealous of the attention his sister was getting at one point but was reminded of that. She soon redeemed herself, trying to be more understanding. She came from a rich family at first too, so I thought she was already adapting quite well with not being a spoiled, rich snob. So as much as I didn’t like that she accepted Kent Tong’s character (since I knew he was in cahoot with his master in a lot of stuff and I hated his fake attitude and how he jumped in the middle of Ching Ching and Lam Sai Wing’s relationship), I didn’t blame her–unlike most of the men around Lam Sai Wing. (I understood that they were his friends and sided with him and was being supportive of him yet they totally let him off so easily with blaming everything on her and saying she was just following some rich dude or whatever. Again, just because that was how it was back then didn’t mean that I have to accept it.)

As I was saying that everyone was working hard to make their lives better, so they only have some time to spend together, which included her and Lam Sai Wing. So I was really annoyed for her that he ended up not paying attention to her when she was playing her music for him or try to talk to him. She couldn’t really learn martial arts or mingle with the guys–that wasn’t what she was taught or used to. So the only way she knew to share with him was her music, but he went outside to practice his martial arts instead? That was just one example that got me annoyed. I didn’t want either of them forcing each other into pretending about their interests or anything. But I thought he at least made the effort since she was very supportive of him when knowing he was going to spend more time with martial arts practice and their time spent together was less. The fact that he seemed clueless or oblivious to her interests or didn’t at least try to understand her attempt to help him relax with her music annoyed me even more. Again, he wasn’t showing the least of effort. Yeah, I got it that it was back then, guys just assumed once the girls liked them, they were hitched forever and she supposedly belonged to him (major eye-roll here) so he didn’t feel the need to exert energy to try anymore. I know he wasn’t a terrible human being, but the way he was going, I was really frustrated for her. I loved the times they spent together, going on adventures–at least mini ones, like the time at the beach or whatever. I know they couldn’t just be happy forever and need to live in reality too, but I was disappointed that his initial care was so short-lived. It was like he was sure she liked him,  so he was done impressing her. I didn’t need it to be a game. I just wanted him to try as much as she did.

Now regarding Andy’s Lam Sai Wing. What was off for me from the start and played against Andy for me was the fact that I watched Sammo Hung’s Lam Sai Wing first, lol. So it was super weird seeing Andy portraying the role. After temporarily putting it aside, I liked his character. But I realized it was just because he was Andy and I tolerated it. Sure, he was righteous and very caring toward his sister. He was also quite kind at heart–if he didn’t let his temper get to him. Yet those didn’t make up for his stupidity at times and also causing trouble for the others. Sure, it was Nap Lan (Kent Tong) who did most of the scheming with his master to take Lam Sai Wing and Wong Fei Hung down, but Lam Sai Wing didn’t help with half of his actions throughout. Just because I hated Nap Lan didn’t mean that I would let Lam Sai Wing off easily. It was like he was pitiful on purpose so the others could sympathize with him or something. I didn’t want to force him into liking Ah Fong (Marylinn Wong)–like how the others tried to get them together, but I didn’t like that it was so his fault she had to marry that one dude. Sure, it was her choice and he was very devastated and angry after learning of Wong Chun Yee’s death. But he made it worse, not allowing her the chance to escape–if there was some sort of hope. Then it was like the scriptwriters decided that he just escape and return to Guangzhou, not caring if Ah Fong was forced into the other marriage situation. Yeah, I got it that the other guy was soooo powerful and he probably couldn’t do anything anyway. But he tried a lot harder when he found out Wong Chun Yee was dead. Why wasn’t he trying for Ah Fong? Again, it gave me the impression that women in here were disposables so it didn’t matter. So they could just move on. And here, I know he had to take Wong Chun Yee’s body back home to his master, but it was so cold to not try to save Ah Fong. Even if he didn’t like her in that way or whatever, but his righteousness was shown at one point in trying to save her from being sold into the brothel. That was when they barely knew each other. So what changed? That was one of the reasons why I was frustrated with the plot. The transition at times just didn’t make sense.

What was kind of off and/or confusing for me was how Ching Ching was torn at times after she found out what her husband had done (which in no way was her fault) and sometimes seemed to accept it? I don’t know. The scriptwriters were trying too hard to drag the episodes out or something. Or they were trying to drag her character through the dirt too so the men would look better. I don’t know. I just had that feeling. I tried to be fair to all characters but they were disappointing and it was going downhill even more as the series progressed. Even Chu Siu Bo’s character, even more sheltered and naive than most of the female population in here, managed to wake up from her obsessed mode and realized she was con hence redeeming herself. Yet Ching Ching was left to become a wishy-washy character in the end? Sure, I got it that Ching Ching didn’t want to expose her husband. I liked her stubborn personality with how she didn’t put up with Nap Lan’s tantrums at times and his jealousy. I liked it that she pushed back and didn’t just cry away. She worked really hard at making her marriage work too, considering how she mentioned that she wasn’t forced to marry him, she accepted him on her own. So she tried. But it was like she was once again disappointed. I got it that he became paranoid that she snuck out and helped Lam Sai Wing escape that one time so it worked against her. But the other times, she already put him on top of everything, what else did he want? It was like the men in here didn’t want to try. Sure, he tried to impress her by learning music and the instrument that she played, etc. But that was initially and after they were married, he did try to make her happy, etc. Aside from that, he just expected it to be that way and frustrated when things didn’t go his way. It was mostly a control thing for him hence me not being sold on this couple either.

I think among all the couples in here, Leung Foon (Stephen Tung) and Chan Ying (Lau Suk Yee) were the luckiest. I thought they wouldn’t work out because of what happened with her brother. The fact that he almost died made it nerve-racking too. I also felt frustrated that they threw in the whole jealousy thing with Leung Foon not accepting the fact that Wong Fei Hung taught Lam Sai Wing the special techniques first. It was like they were throwing Stephen Tung under the bus and making his character so cliche like his other series. And the scriptwriters had to go and stick it at the end too. Yet he redeemed himself and almost died trying to protect Lam Sai Wing. He and Chan Ying were a bickering couple. They were funny to watch at times and possibly the comedy relief of the show. I thought she would have followed her brother yet it wasn’t so. Sure, she cared for her brother but also knew how well the others treated her. I thought she was quite brave, not caring that she was going to die when she was captured. When Lam Sai Wing came to save them, she yelled for him to not worry for her and just focus on Nap Lan. I was surprised, but that was when she became my favorite character in the series. I was done with other wishy-washy characters in here–or the too good to be true types. Her character was more grounded here. Luckily, it wasn’t destroyed like some others. Although I was also mad at Leung Foon for blaming Ching Ching regarding Lam Sai Wing too, I just had to let it go and let him and Chan Ying be my favorite couple.

What else? Was this the start of Liu Wai Hung and Chan On Ying’s pairing? Because he later starred in Being Rich (富貴超人) with her, along with Roger Kwok and Margie Tsang. Interestingly, both series had her liking him first and then later him accepting her. He initially liked Chan Ying, but that went nowhere. It was funny to see how the other Po Chi Lam people tried to sabotage their date that one time at the opera event.

Aside from that, how was the ending? Like I said before, it was a mess. I thought the ending should have been saved for the face-off between Wong Fei Hung and Yeung Chak Lam’s character, Duen Bo Tin. Yet they had to rush the face-off and then forced us to endure the triangle again and then finished on a lame note. I got it how and why things were that way. I knew it was impossible for Lam Sai Wing and Ching Ching to ever be together again. I knew those things. I just wish the scriptwriters knew and just moved on. Letting the face-off between Wong Fei Hung and Duen Bo Tin be the last moment of the series made more sense, because it tied in with the situation of their country. It tied every character together on a larger scale.

So recommended? If you want to watch for beautiful people, go ahead. I wouldn’t recommend it for the plot.

The Legend of Wonder Lady

Just when I thought The Maverick was the worst of the ’80s classics, I was wrong. This sort of took the trophy from the other one. Why was it the worst? I swear, it started out interesting enough with a team of women kicking asses and carrying out righteous acts. Yet it deteriorated after the initial scenes, making them victims and eventually devaluing their cause. I’ll go into more detail later.

Main Cast:

  • Angie Chiu (趙雅芝) as Mu Lan Hua (木蘭花). This was possibly my second favorite role of Angie–if only it didn’t deteriorate. It wasn’t her fault. She tried her best, but the plot sort of went against her, letting her become a pathetic victim later, not allowing her to soar higher than that. I thought she was awesome and was smart in concealing her identity. Yet the scriptwriters just had to make her lesser than some other people in here–just because they were trying to create the illusion that the villain was worse. I know, duh, villains were supposed to be bad. But honestly, if they didn’t knock the major characters’ IQ down several pegs, they couldn’t make it look like the villains were smart. The final trap proved her capabilities and intelligence once again, but I wished the plot didn’t knock her down and dragged it through the mud before restoring her character. It was seriously frustrating.
  • Sharon Yeung (楊盼盼) as Mu Xiu Zhen (木秀珍) aka Mu Mian Hua (木棉花). I thought I was going to really like this character of Sharon. In fact, I did at the beginning. She was a bit hot-headed/impulsive at the beginning, which I thought was kinda cute since she was still young after all–and it made the whole bickering with their nanny funnier. Yet that also passed and I realized the scriptwriters were just trying to knock her down–like how they made Angie weak later. With her, it was her impulsive behaviors and then her IQ wasn’t improving at all, but it had gone down to the point of frustrating. I liked that Sharon got to be the kicking ass superwoman since I’d often seen her in roles where she was always suffering through tragedies so she cried a lot in those (even if she did have fighting scenes or tried to prove herself)–with the exception of her martial arts movies. I thought I was going to enjoy seeing her being awesome, but was totally disappointed by how her character turned out.
  • Kenneth Tsang (曾江) as Cheng Wu Hui (程無悔). Despite the flaw in the plot, I thought Kenneth delivered–like how Angie and Sharon had tried with theirs. He was my favorite character from the start since his identity was a mystery and how he was being hunted by the assassins. Yes, we knew he was a friend of the family of the Mu’s, but that was it. He didn’t have any other identity. The details unfolding was nice enough, allowing us to see more into his world and his personalities. He wasn’t afraid to cut corners, considering how the world was back then. What disturbed me greatly was his infatuation toward Lan Hua. Okay, it wasn’t impossible and I had rooted for older man and younger woman relationships before, but this was different. He was indeed a friend of the family and sort of like her uncle (in a sense of comparing him to her father). Aside from that, it sort of knocked down his character for me a bit, considering how I thought he was a good guidance for both sisters in such chaotic time. Did the scriptwriters had to go there to be so controversial?
  • Melvin Wong (黃錦燊) as Gao Xiang (高翔) aka Di Qiu (地球). I liked him, but I felt they had him appeared to knock the Mu sisters down thus rendering their roles useless. I swear. It wasn’t like I needed the sisters to be perfect, but I felt they (the scriptwriters) had to knock the sisters down, not allowing them to excel so we could see Gao Xiang’s awesomeness or something. He was mysterious and funny in his own way. Yet can’t they just have him and the other two going against each other (as relevant one point of the story) with their talents matching or something instead of making it like the other two needed his rescue all the time? Although there were times Lan Hua helped him too, I felt his character was untouchable (well, until later, lol) to the point that the other two just looked pathetic, waiting to be rescued.
  • Cheung Kwok Keung (張國強) as Yun Cheng Feng (雲乘風). This was probably one of his major roles back then? It was either that or I didn’t watch the right dramas back then. But I was surprised that he got a major role in here. I thought he would become a side character since he wasn’t around much at the beginning and was fading into the back. Yet he got pulled forward because the focus on his family became more apparent. He delivered with whatever he had to work with and I felt he was one of the true victims of the story, considering how he was stuck in the conflicts and all.
  • Susanna Kwan (關菊英) as Yun Zhao Yi (雲昭儀). She sure was ambitious in her plans. It was somewhat hilarious that she thought she was going to win in the battle of power with her father. She thought he was weak yet she had no idea. But what got me irked was how I was reminded each time a woman was displaying ambitious nature, they were immediately labeled as the bad woman. It was like they (the scriptwriters) needed to tell us that women should be victims/weak/obedient to be good or something. Sure, I understand Zhao Yi’s lust for power and wanting to overthrow her father and it wasn’t impossible that she was so scheming, not caring about family and all. Yet it was a typical pattern of TVB to make ambitious women out to be the bad ones in the end so I couldn’t just let it go.
  • Peter Yang (楊群) as Yun Tian Peng  (雲天鵬) aka the real Tai Yang (太陽). I knew he wasn’t just in to play some pathetic old man. Didn’t mean for it to come out that way, but the plot paved it that way for him, with his daughter conspiring against him and all. Then there was the whole sickness and hospital scenes. It was an elaborate trap all right. I didn’t doubt his cruelty since he represented a part of a major crime organization. What he underestimated was Lan Hua’s recovery and how she was able to put aside her feelings and create a final trap for him.
  • Kwan Hoi San (關海山) as Tai Yang (太陽). He was fierce and calculating enough to be the leader. Yet that was also a front for others to underestimate Yun Tian Peng. He also became a pawn for Yun’s final scheme after all. Great performance from him like always, even if short-lived.
  • Paul Chun (秦沛) as  Huo Xing (火星). I thought he was going to be around until the end yet it wasn’t so. He also became another chess piece along the way. I was disappointed that he wasn’t that smart. I thought he knew better. It was sort of anti-climatic to have him gone so soon. But perhaps that created the mystery of what was next?

Others:

  • Cheung Ying Choi ( 張英才) as Mu Yi Long (木一龍). He was in here for a short time. He was another true victim of all the chaos. But what I thought was really fake of how the scene was laid out after his death. It wasn’t convincing and I thought it might be something else with how he was already saved and was just at some other place. Then I was reminded of that TVB probably didn’t want to get too graphic with the whole explosion scenes and the aftermaths.
  • Lam Tin (藍天) as Long Kun (龍坤). He was probably the most despicable in here, even comparing to Yun Tian Peng. He betrayed everyone around him and was really only out for himself. Even though he was exposed and punished later, but I felt it wasn’t enough. He’d done so much damage throughout.
  • Chun Wong (秦煌) as Cao Te Hua (曹特華). He was funny for me at the beginning and annoying in the later parts yet somehow managed to compensate himself for the ending. It wasn’t much of a role but I guessed he had to be there since he was relevant for the ending parts.
  • Lee Kwok Lun (李國麟) as Cop. He only appeared from time to time or more like most of the first few episodes. It was just fun to see a familiar face in here. Not much.

Questions/ Discussions/ Frustrations:

  • TVB seriously DO NOT know how to write strong female characters. I think I watched enough TVB series to get this out there. YES, I do know the time period that was in the story and it made sense that women didn’t get to make much of an impact during those times. But this was after all a story focusing on the strong female characters so why can’t they just stretch it a bit and make them awesome all the way instead of devaluing them like that? Like I said in the other part, I didn’t mind that Xiu Zhen was impulsive since it was kind of funny at first–and I initially thought she was just impatient and more for actions than talks. Yet the story just made her character worse and worse by enhancing her impulsiveness tenfold. In fact, it had stepped into the stupidity territory, which caused deaths or other consequences along the way. Okay, with some other series, the main lead might or might not have caused some deaths or consequences at the beginning too, but they somehow grow later. What has Xiu Zhen grown into? A total bitch? I don’t usually use that kind of language. But I couldn’t take it anymore with how her character turned out. Not to mention how strong personality type of character DO NOT mean that they were always loud and brainless. Did TVB have anyone to consult with regarding people’s personalities? I got it that she could be lively and smart too, not too boring. But seriously, Xiu Zhen was a complete idiot by the end of the story. Or should I rephrase and ask if TVB know that people could be lively and intelligent too, not a loud-mouth without a brain? Then there was Lan Hua, the smarter and sensible of the two. However, she was knocked down (like said before) when Gao Xiang appeared. Sure, they did have some battles of wit along the way yet it seemed like Gao Xiang was always one step ahead. (Okay, I don’t want to make it petty by turning it into a “men vs. women” kind of thing, but the plot laid it out that way with their competitions at the beginning.) I would like it better that they match wit-per-wit or something. It seemed that way on the surface at times, but it was obvious Gao Xiang was the stronger one. It made sense because he was more experienced than them and was actually one of the members in that mysterious organization that they were trying to investigate, but again, please stick to the theme of the series. Not only did they knock Lan Hua down, but also made her a complete victim halfway through and then somehow restoring her character at the end for the final battle. I totally understand her breakdowns during the times when she thought Gao Xiang was dead and when he was really dead, but I didn’t like it that she was soooo trusting of Yun Tian Peng. I had a feeling she wasn’t just the type to just plain lean into others just because they were there. She proved her capabilities and how she managed to keep her distance and had outright told Cheng Wu Hui about her feelings (or lack of) toward him. Once again, I got it that Yun Tian Peng was scheming and manipulative, so careful and all and so easy to trust, but seriously?
  • The disturbing matches? I don’t know what to call it really but it was the whole idea of it was all right that somehow Lan Hua ended up with Yun Tian Peng. Hello, there was an actual wedding with others attending so happily. Seriously? I don’t know how that was even acceptable. Like Xiu Zhen was with Cheng Feng already so Yun Tian Peng was her father-in-law. Yet it was all right that her sister married her father-in-law? What? Even before Lan Hua learned of Yun Tian Peng’s true identity as Tai Yang, she was seriously all right with it too. I swear it was sooo messed up. It wasn’t about her forgoing with the revenge plot either. She was fine with it. Like I thought she would only apologize for misunderstanding him that one time Cheng Wu Hui brought to her attention about some suspicious details that he might be involved with Gao Xiang’s death YET she had to go one more step to give him the sweater she knitted. (That time, Yun Tian Peng used trickery to get out of it and eventually dissolved the misunderstanding just like that.) What? That was a grand gesture and indicated something else. Tell me I’m not the only one wanting to puke if it were to go through otherwise.

Recommended? If you don’t want to think but just watch, go ahead. If you’re fine with these types of dramas, go ahead.