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 like 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 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 have 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 stuffs 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, that 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 script-writers 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 script-writers 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 exposed 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-wracking 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 script-writers 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, but 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 script-writers 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.

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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.

ATV’s Who Is The Killer

I haven’t watched anything that inspired me to blog about it in awhile. At least not the HK related ones. Yet this one just made me jump to blog without caring if it was good or not. I meant I started writing since I started the series and continued watching on throughout. Hey, ATV addict alert, so yeah…always so good to see the old gang portraying different roles. Not to mention it was a cop one so I was glued from the start.

Main Cast/ Characters:

  • Stephen Au as Bat Ga Yung (畢家勇) aka Bat Sir (畢Sir). It had been a while since watching a Stephen role that was worth mentioning. Glad that I stumbled upon it. Anyway, he was clever and witty. But that didn’t mean he was so into the cases that he forgot to live his life (like as often portrayed with those main guy cop roles). We got to learn more about him throughout and between the cases. For instance, he was such a good chef that he would use his delicacies to bribe his team to work harder, lol. Then it was later revealed that he used to be a chef at some restaurant hence his good culinary skills and laid-back nature. He also had a spunky sister (who was kind of on the nut side, lol).
  • Joey Meng as Bonnie. A cop role and not to mention a stubborn, kind of smart-aleck one. YES, fitted all of her usual roles at times, mostly the stubborn and smart-aleck combination. Yet it was different because she was not a pro like some of the other ones yet still ran her mouth at times. It didn’t mean she was not good at anything though since her advantage of being transferred from the Missing Persons Department helped them and got Bat Sir quite impressed with her during the first meeting (after the initial fallout since she was late to the crime scene). Her comments at times and her analysis helped drive the case forward also. ‘Cause her perspective was different from them so it helped with some missing details or how they would think too complicatedly about certain matters. Her connections definitely helped also. Though she was from a rich family, but she was not spoiled at all, kind of sarcastic at times, but not rude or plain disrespectful to anyone on the team. Then there was her huge appetite that made it so hilarious. We also learned that she was allergic to flowers when her lawyer boyfriend sent her some flowers and she sneezed on sight and even tossed it into the trash afterward.
  • Yung Kam Cheung. Finally a role worth watching after years. I meant I remembered him portraying bigger roles for ATV than the usual for TVB. BUT like that was news so let’s not even go there, right? A very sharp character, always knowing his way around and proved to be a great senior for Bonnie and others. Though it seemed like there was not much background information on him but his history came forward with the third case regarding how he became a cop because of his brother.
  • Yeung Chak Lam as Uncle Kong. One of my favorite veteran actors and funny that I don’t remember seeing him in modern series as much as ancient. Really enjoyed his performance as the veteran cop in here, knowing his way around yet trying to adapt to the changing technology around him. And this was proving to people that he honestly didn’t need an exaggerated script or like super ‘breakthrough’ role to make his character shine without trying too hard. He had his own part in the team and how his character was so brilliant yet sarcastic made it so hilarious. It was interesting to watch him portray a comedic character–at least off-work. Then professionally, he was just so brilliant and cunning. People nowadays were so dept on wanting an important role and the right script, but he proved that he didn’t need those ‘overhype’ roles to make his character interesting. It was all about good acting, NOT those caviars.
  • Gilbert Lam as Robert. Cute. LOL! Though projecting a nerd look but he still managed to make his character so charming and brilliant at the same time. He didn’t appear much but I loved the little that he did since it managed to bring forth some hilarious and/or witty exchange between him and the rest of the team. Though he was not really considered to be a main character, since he was part of the team, I just wanted to include him.

The Team:

  • The bond between the four main characters. I loved it that they could get so random that it turned into being ridiculous yet also maintained its charm between the cases. Their conversations filled up the character background and some developments throughout.
  • Uncle Kong and Bonnie. It was funny how he often used his ‘veteran’ status to ‘teach’ her. LOL! It was really funny and not overly done. Like she was willing to admit that he was right though they didn’t say as much (or it would be overkilled). Or he would be willing to admit that she had some talent. But then there were signs that he was willing to help her with all his sincerity at times, like opening that one drawer for her. Or how she was giving him compliments.

Pairings:

  • Stephen Au and Joey Meng as Bat Sir and Bonnie. It was funny that she was joking about following him for the rest of his life upon tasting his delicacies. And that was messed up that his sister teamed up with the others to play a trick on him regarding how she said she confirmed that Bonnie liked Bat Sir. LOL! I had a hard time believing that she didn’t like him though since she seemed really suspicious. Plus how she reacted upon knowing about his sister, she got all friendly instead of somewhat of an awkward situation and somewhat wanting to distance herself from the so-called ‘girlfriend’. If there were more episodes, they might have gotten together? Still funny.
  • Gilbert Lam and Joey Meng as Robert and Bonnie. I found it interestingly cute that he was introducing himself to Bonnie before proceeding to tell them of what he found out through the search on the computer (while they were discussing some details of the case). Then there was also the part where he was roused up in the middle of the night by the others to search some information for them, so he was getting kind of touchy (but just slightly) because they kept rushing him. But when Bonnie made a request for him to zoom into the photo, he said, “Anything for you” with a smile. That was cute all right. (This reminded me of Crossborder Daddy though this series was before that. Need to hunt down past series where they were actually a pair–and for a longer time than that of what happened in Crossborder Daddy. Were there any?)

Cases:

  • Case #1: A warm-up, right? Seemed too easy. Catfight, kidnapping, accident, murder, and cover-up. But it had some character development with the main cast and how each used his/her talent to work the cases. Sometimes it didn’t take technology to solve it, but brainwork. Average regarding complexity but showed that they didn’t need to rely so heavily on technology to solve the case.
  • Case #2: I think it was supposed to be Case #1 since they were focusing on this one serial killer but got side-tracked ’cause of the copy-cat schemes from the other one. Sad, very sad ending really.
  • Case #3: It really emphasized the point of the bonds between the sworn brothers yet too bad someone had to use their trust for his own benefit. Quite meaningful and touching on some levels.
  • Case #4: Tragic to death.
  • Case #5: Great one since it was very confusing and complex with how everyone was moving the body around. A lot of brainwork involved.

Careless Bits (YES, they had these. Though I’m an ATV fan but I’m not delusional, I know when they’re not perfect.):

  • GLOVES. Hello, people. They were going to get their fingerprints on there too if they handled the evidence found at the scenes like that. Though during the first case, it was shown how they were carefully using a pen to lift the hair out of the bathtub but might want to wear gloves to make sure it was not contaminated. (Weren’t they prepared for anything when they were doing a house search?) Then during the second case, I noticed how Bonnie was being scolded for not wearing gloves. It made sense since they had to be careful. Yet what was odd was they only wear gloves or seemed to be wearing gloves when they were investigating the crime scene like the first time during discovery. Then other times, it was like they didn’t need to or didn’t care to. Not sure. But should’ve been more careful than that.

KEEP IN MIND:

  • Time frame so NOT as advanced technology. So you might want to check it out for the cast (or some of the cast) BUT don’t be stumped by the outdated technological tools/devices/gadgets. PLEASE keep in mind it was 1996. What did you expect?

Even though it was really short but I really liked it–regardless of its careless flaws at times. There was more brainwork that made up for it. Then there was also the lack of side-story. YES, people might think that it was annoying with so little of character focus with the main cast and there were no love relations–at least not so intense like other series. Yet I found it really nice that way since I hate it overlapping cases, making it a romance more than a cop story. So that was good that they didn’t stretch it out to the point of annoying on relationships. They managed to get in character development with the main cast throughout. It wasn’t like anyone of the cast was robbed yet they still created a vivid personality for each. Through the cases and some side conversations, we know of their personalities. So it was a great one for me with most of the focuses on the case.