I must admit this was a true classic despite its many flaws and the dragged out of the storyline at some parts. (So much for praising it, eh?) Anyway, to move on towards the positive side, I must say that the acting with both Chow Yun Fat and Ray Lui were awesome. I could only say average for Angie Chiu. Yes, I admit that she was one of the prettiest actresses back then but that didn’t mean her acting was awesome in series since I could always see the same type of expressions on her face for each role she portrayed. Yes, I understood the hardships and conflicts that her character went through, but could only say average acting for her part. The guys–portraying both roles of sworn brothers and later arch-enemies and back into being sworn brothers in the end really brought up the grayness in society at that time period in the story itself. The morality of it all didn’t lay in so thick like some of the recent dramas, but it brought more liveliness in the story itself because in such types of time, conflicts arose more and it was more of survival the fittest than having the time to question things. Perhaps, Chow Yun Fat’s character, Hui Man Keung, was the most virtuous among all the characters combined within those triads and groups since he had a policy of “resorting to violence only when there were no other alternatives.” It was like a world that they lived in was so chaotic and complex that there were no clear boundaries drawn in. (Come on now, even the cops themselves were having a hand in the whole thing.)
Although I wasn’t impressed by Angie’s acting at the other scenes in the series, I must say she had great chemistry with Chow Yun Fat as an overall and maybe that was why the series became so popular also. (And of course because of Ray Lui’s collaboration with them both also.)
Kent Tong actually got me impressed with his character for once and he was a good guy at the beginning, wanting to help society but was forced to mix in with the others so he could acquire the necessary power to stop most of the illegal activities. He failed as a cop but was more successful after joining forces with some other gang–which was so ironic but understandable at that point. It was such a tragic but sooo subtle how his character died near the end. It was so unpredictable–although understandable–that he shall die since he had quite a major role in it. The most ironic thing was Liu Kai Chi’s character made it through until the very end. Of course, the story was left untold on purpose toward the end without any narrative telling us what happened to Ting Lik–but could be foreseen since no gang could rule over the rest forever. They could only do so at a certain point in time.
Maybe the most unpredictable part was seeing Hui Man Keung died at the very end of the series. That was such a surprise since we would think Ting Lik would die first–considering how Hui Man Keung was more clever and really knew his way around. Who’d thought he died in such way? It was one of the most tragic death scenes of all although very fast and horrifying at the same time. The second most tragic death must be that of Mei Man because she was one of the most important persons to Hui Man Keung and probably a turning point to the story since his mind no longer felt like fighting for anything anymore. He did think of getting rid of that one triad boss, but her death caused him not to want to take over or fight for power any longer. She was his best friend among all the people he knew in his life. She was there at the beginning when he was still a scholar trying to fight for the rights of his country; she was there for him when he needed her the most when he first came to Shanghai; she was there for him when he had decided to live for himself (since he felt he already did enough for his country and paid heavily for it); she was there for him when he wanted to seek revenge upon the one who killed his family; and she was also there for him even if she knew he chose the wrong path. In short, she was the supportive figure behind him all along through his hardships.
I don’t want to spoil too many details of the series itself so I’m just mentioning some parts worth bringing up here. Other than that, great appearances from Au Yeung Pui San as the Japanese assassin, Michael Miu and Felix Wong as cameos during different points of the story. It was very funny to see them appearing just a little bit. (But understandable since it wasn’t their time yet.)
Posted (on Xanga): January 10, 2009
Re-posted: Friday, May 7th, 2010