The Bund (上海灘)

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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

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6 thoughts on “The Bund (上海灘)

  1. llwy12 says:

    Great review! I agree that the storyline was a little bit draggy at times, but the chemistry between the actors pretty much made up for it. No matter how many times this series is “re-made”, Chow Yun Fat will always be the best Hui Man Keung and Ray will always be the best Ting Lik — no doubt about it! Their collaboration was classic (and never seen again, if memory serves me right) and yes, it was one of the elements that made the series so popular.

    I’m ok with Angie in this series, though I actually prefer Nnadia Chan’s Fong Cheng Cheng in the 1996 re-make more….

    Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about Kent Tong’s character (it’s been such a long time since I watched this series), but I do remember Liu Kai Chi’s character (somewhat)…

    It’s interesting that you mention about Ting Lik’s storyline being a bit open-ended — I think they did that on purpose so they could follow the series up with “The Bund 2 and 3” which were made several years later (in the early 80s)….but of course, nether of these 2 compared with the original — I watched the “sequels” like 15 years ago and can’t remember a single thing from them (except that I think Michael Miu was in them, so he sort of got ‘promoted’ from his ‘extra’ status in part 1 — lol!)…the sequels were actually sort of boring (which is the main reason why I don’t remember anything from them).

    The ‘extras’ — that’s one of the thing I love about watching the old 80s series — seeing all of the big stars nowadays (Tony Leung, Sean Lau, Michael Miu, Felix Wong, Francis Ng, etc.) playing “extras”…proves that with hard work and dedication, can definitely get far. Plus it’s funny to see them back “before they were stars” so to speak….lol

  2. DTLCT says:

    Since you mentioned the 1996 version, I might check it out since I am curious about how it was made and all that.

    I think the reason why I remember Kent Tong’s character is because he liked Angie at the beginning and they were like schoolmates (or something? forgot) and I think she sort of have good feelings for him but CYF came into the picture. It might be that she was just being friendly with Kent as friends. NOT sure since can’t remember though I watched it like last year, lol. But since he portrayed like the ‘white’ side and somehow later had to changed sides SO it was more complex of a character than his usual boring ones so I sort of remembered. Considering how his death was quite tragic – like I said in the review.

    Liu Kai Chi – He was a good friend of CYF so I think it was natural to remember him, lol.

    You told me about part 2 and 3 yesterday and from your description, I don’t think I would want to hunt it down. Since I barely made it through this one, mostly because of the excellent cast. So yea, wouldn’t want to watch anytime soon.

    Agree about it being funny that you see the ‘now big stars’ portraying or having little roles back in the days. It was interesting to see how far they have come. YET sometimes sad that some of them still hasn’t been recognized. But I guess the more recognized, the better.

  3. llwy12 says:

    The 1996 version was good in it’s own right, but be ready — the story is VERY different, mainly because it adds a bunch of characters that were never in the first one (namely Adam Cheng and Carol (Dodo) Cheng, Maggie Cheung, Bowie Lam, plus others), so they had to change the story to accomodate…but it does boast quite a few cameos (like Gallen Lo, Eric Tsang, for example). Also, the main “classic” story is there, they just changed / added some things to accomodate the Adam/Carol piece. I must say that Sunny Chan does a great job as Hui Man Keung — his looks, mannerisms, and acting in real life are very similar to CYF, so he was the perfect person to play that role. Didn’t really like Gordon as Ting Lik though…I think Ray did that role much better (more memorable). I also liked Noelle Leung as Hui Man Keung’s wife (the one that got killed)…I sort of felt there was more emotion there than in the original.

    Oh, I remember Kent’s character now — he’s the one that eventually ends up with Angie’s best friend, right? I think it’s the same character that Patrick Tam played in the 1996 remake.

    Liu Kai Chi — yup, that was his character! Love his acting — always great!

    Yea, I wouldn’t bother with hunting down parts 2 and 3 either. I actually have the collector’s edition DVD set with all 3 installments on it, so if I ever do get around to watching parts 2 and 3 (which could be a long time from now), I’ll let you know…lol!

    It’s funny — when I watch the series from the 80s now, it’s like a game of “spot the stars” — trying to find the big stars who played “extras” back then and seeing how different they looked compared to now. It’s quite interesting…haha!

  4. DTLCT says:

    Wait, Kent ended up with Angie’s friend? I didn’t know that! LOL! ‘Cause he was always so dedicated to fighting for others’ right, etc. I probably forgot about it since everything was so hectic at that time.

    So Noelle was the one who portrayed HMK’s wife in the new version? Wow…I wonder what it would be like since you said it was more memorable. I always felt like HMK didn’t love her enough in the old one hence making it not as memorable? Blame CYF for having more chemistry with Angie (lol). BUT I thought that was sad. Though I must say it wasn’t as memorable though. Like I said in the review, I thought that the lady who was his friend’s death was most tragic.

  5. llwy12 says:

    Kent — I think so…but then again, it’s been awhile since I watched the original series. That was the person the character ended up with in the remake — but as I said earlier, they changed alot of things in the remake, so I wouldn’t be surprised f his character’s storyline was changed as well…I guess I’ll have to wait until I actually re-watch “The Bund” to find out for sure…lol!

    Noelle / HMK — I agree with your observation about HMK not loving her as much in the CYF version — the chemistry just wasn’t there in the original version as opposed to the remake. I personally feel that the writer and artists handled the Noelle/Sunny relationship really well in the re-make — to the point where when Noelle’s character and her entire family were tragically killed, I actually felt really sad (and was actually hoping that by some miracle, they would make her character not die — but of course it didn’t happen). Also, Sunny did a great job with the scenes related to Noelle’s death — I could really feel the emotion there and how upset he was over her death.


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