A must read, if you don't already know ...

Written by Funn Lim

"It is one thing to be a villain but to be a villain that we all will feel pity for and forgive him at the end of the series takes a great actor (Patrick Tam) to portray."


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How Long
20+ tapes

Michael Tao ~ Lei Siu Tin
Patrick Tam ~ Ming Chi Kit
Deannie Yip ~ Ming Sing
Kristy Yang ~ Lou Suet
Kathy Chow ~ Lou Wan
Lau Sek Yin ~ Yuk Gwok Hung
Bau Hei Jing ~ Bak Yin
Cheung Man Chi ~ Bi Bi
Sek Sau ~ Ma Sau Naam
Tien Yui Nei ~ Ma Kit Sum (Cat)
Lee Siu Gei ~ Chui Siu Gei
Au Gam Tong ~ Chui Siu Lung
Kenneth Chan ~ Joe
Lam Wai Gin ~ Chui Siu Fu
Wong Oi Yiu ~ Ma Siu Ling
Lo Ga Ying ~ Kui Ga Ying
Annie Man ~ Ming Sing (Young)
Wong Mei ~ Bak Yin (Young)
Ka Ling ~ Siu Man
Wong Tin Lam ~ Bak Sai Whang

What & Where
Set in modern HK,it is a tale of rivalry,jealousy,bitter hatred of two brothers and their mother who is caught between her love for two sons.

The Verdict
I wanted to put this here first coz this will be a rather lengthy review so I might as well spare you the pain of knowing the obvious.Classic.It doesn't mean it is flawless but as far as the story and characterisation goes,you would wish it was a TVB production but no,it is a collaboration between ATV and another production company of the best of 1999.

The storyline
Michael is the spoilt son of a very rich woman who isn't his real mom.Patrick is the son of Deannie Yip,a poor,uneducated woman who came from China.Both of this men would never have known each other if not for the fact that they both share the same mother and father.Their father(played by Michael) was a poor,educated man from China who married young.They had a son together.Then this man left for HK to hide from the government due to his involvement with the reform movement and there,he met a rich man's daughter,married her and had forgotten about his wife.Then his very pregnant wife came to HK to search for him only to find out he was married,has a comfortable life and his new wife is so bloody understanding to the point that she didn't mind sharing her husband.But her husband thought otherwise.Because they were childless,the husband took Michael when he was born and kicked his wife out of the house.She had no choice but to go back to China to wait for her husband's return which he did.And they shared one night together and when he left,she was pregnant.But she didn't tell her husband of this son(Patrick) because she wanted a son by her side.But later,she tried to leave China with Patrick but the son very unselfishly told her mother to run whilst he got caught.This was the beginning of his poor motherless life.His mom succesfully entered HK and went insearch of her heartless husband whom she later found out was dead.She w\almost wanted to reclaim her eldest son,Michael but when she saw how much her son had grown,such a handsome young prince riding his pony,she knew she could never give a better life to his beloved son that this woman could.Due to an arrangement,she became the boy's governess or some sort and saw him grew up.She secretly kept all his magazine interviews,portfolio of his many girlfriends and even his fallen tooth.And she kept defending his very ruthless business decisions to the point that people,including Michael himself thought that she was in love with him.But during one kidnapping attempt where they were imprisoned together in a dark hole,they bonded and became closer.Then the second son got a visa to come to HK.On first sight,he fell in love with Kathy Chow,who so happens to be the on/off GF of Michael's.He learned to drink wine,worked hard so that he could have a chance to woo this former model turned designer but it was destined to be a failed attempt because Michael,who realised that he really loved Kathy pursued her tirelessly that she finally agreed to marry him because all along,she loved him and also,because she was pregnant.This caused the first most intense rivalry between this two brothers that Patrick,on the day of the wedding threatened to kill himself if Kathy does not show up which she did,with Michael.And before he jumped,he knew two things;Kathy doesn't love him and Michael is actually his big brother(his mom shouted that when they were both punching each otehr on top of the rooftop)and then he pulled Michael together with him when he jumped.Michael suffered minor injuries but Patrick was more serious.Then that night,another tragedy happened.Kathy died in an explosion in Patrick's house when she went in there to take some stuffs,as requested by Deannie Yip.And that made the two brothers fought even harder.And when Michael lost the financial battle to Sek Sau and thus,lost all his money and was again kidnapped by some kidnappers and escaped in the middle of nowhere in China,for the first time in his life he realised what does suffering mean the mean time,Patrick married Sek Sau's brother and well,many many things happened that could make you hate him.

The Worst Of The Lot is
At the beginning it was Michael's character.He was egoistical,rude,domineering,and he beats up his best friend.But due to the biggest mistake of his life(he ordered somebody to kill Patrick and that somebody opened the gas thing in the kitchen,and on that wedding day after Patrick threatened to commit suicide,on the request of Deannie Yip,Kathy Chow went into his apartment and the phone rings and well,the rest is history) which he will regret for the rest of this series,and due to losing all his money and being kidnapped and narrowly escaped to in the middle of poor rural China,he learnt his lesson about life and money and discovered that money isn't everything,and pride isn't everything.When he came home safely after many many weeks,he was a changed man who didn't want to fight with Patrick anymore and who just wants to live his life peacefully.

Patrick was a poor boy from China but is educated and smart.And he is also a very sweet boy that clearly loves his mother.But due to his obsession and love for Kathy(which was unreturned in the same proportion),he changed into an ugly man.He was not greedy but because due to his intense desire to beat Michael in everything,he sold his soul to the devil(so to speak) and he married his bosses' daughter,Cat and in turn tortured her emotionally by having an affair with a very bitchy vixen in the form of Bi Bi.He even killed people,some indirectly,some he didn't mean too(including his very pregnant wife who became crazy when she lost her baby) and in the end,to avoid prosecution for crimes he had committed to whom only his mom knew of the true facts,the mom confessed for his crimes and went to jail.But that was not enough because Michael was trying his best to get his mom out.And so he pressures his mom to take her own life so that the secret will be a secret for life.You will hate him but yet,you will pity him because he was such a nice sweet young man.

The Most Difficult Person To Be Is..
The mother. Michael was her son that she could not touch nor love whilst Patrick was the son that disappointed her the most.Rivalry was so intense that when she talked about helping Michael financially when he was down and out,Patrick accused her of favouritism.When Michael was kidnapped,she had to pretend to be happy and reluctantly smile in her youngest son's wedding.She did scold Patrick for his actions but she could no more that just talk and with words,nothing will be successful. And she can't help but remember that this son of hers aren't born evil but was a good son and she couldn't give up hope on him.We thought that she loved Michael more because it was the son that she never could openly loved but in one of the most touching scene in TV history,she told Patrick that she loved him more because after all,they had spent years together and because of that she has great affection for this son.And now we do know how much she love this bastard of a son;she killed herself so that the secrets of him killing his wife will never be known.It was sad and it makes you feel so angry that such a son could be so selfish and unremorseful and yet,it was also touching because this mother could be so giving.

The HATE factor
We all will hate Patrick for the above reasons.It is not Michael coz though he's mean,he will only be at most,the Most Irritating Character.But the one person that you'll hate is Bi Bi,the mistress of Patrick.If only I could be the mistress that could slap the wife of my BF and insult her when I should be the one who should be insulted,I don't mind being the Bitch and Vixen here.She even pushed Kat during one argument which was why she lost her baby.But justice would not be long.She died in the arms of Patrick,or shall I say because of his arms or hands.He strangled her when she became too much too handle.

The Most Disturbing Scene
The almost ending,where Deannie was in prison grounds trimming the grasses(or well,doing something) and Patrick walked right up to her at the fence and just looked at her with this intense stare.When she saw his stare,she knew what she must do for her son.His stare was like,"Prove it,Prove it that you love me more than Michael by doing what I asked you to do" .Which she did and we all know that she loved him more than Michael.

The Best Scene
Any scenes that have Michael and Kathy in it.And this I feel is the best scene.Michael just came home after a gruelling few weeks spent on trying to some home to discover that his best friend/assistant which he frequently beat up when he was not happy was standing by his arch-enemy's side,Patrick.Before Thai scene,we see Patrick persuading that man to be his 'dog' and gave him large amount of cash.And when they were standing eye to eye,Patrick demanded that this 'Dog' of his to punch Michael.And when he flung his hand,you almost thought that this is a 'running dog' or traitor but that punch was for Patrick.He really hated that man and he would rather be Michael's dog than his.Classic.Ahhhh....friendship.

The Love factor
Michael was so in love with Kathy that he pursued her relentlessly.He didn't and wouldn't give up on this woman whom he had some years of relationship together and they had broken up.Why you might ask?Because this is one woman that didn't want his money but wanted his affection and love as opposed to other women.He had to wait in the rain for her and withstand her icy composure when he is around.But he won because as Kathy told Patrick why she was refusing Patrick's love because Patrick was never in the race for her love at all.All along it was Michael's race and actually Michael was already at the finishing line but it was just a matter of whether she wanted to join him at the finishing line.The fact that she was pregnant with his child was an added bonus point for Michael of course.Now you may ask,how could she be pregnant with his child when she got pregnant via artificial insemination?Well,Michael asked his doctor friend to inseminate her with HIS sperm.

And then she died. Michael was full of regret but he could do nothing else but cry and cry and cry.Then there came Kristy Yang,Kathy's little sister who is also a model who had been secretly in love with Michael since day one.She was the most supportive friend and he fell for her but couldn't let her know because he was afraid if she knew the truth about how her sister died,she would hate him.But the thing is,she knew.And so they began their relationship but dear Patrick,who was a fugitive by now,kidnapped her but she escaped and she ran towards Michael's direction and then...bang...bang.She was shot and she was badly hurt.Could this be a sad ending?Let me just say that there is no happy ending here.

The Most Irritating Character
Michael at first.The more notable one is Patrick's wife,Ah Cat.Maybe she deserves our pity but if you watch carefully,she brought this all onto herself.She could have just walked out but she was weak.Which was strange,She was supposed to be this strong willed and independent modern girl and after her marriage she is a total wreck.But her most irritating moment would be when she went crazy after she lost her baby.We should feel sad for her but maybe it's the actress portrayal of her character that made me could not feel anything for her.

Is Patrick Any Worse Than...
Kelvin Kam of Secret Of The Heart?Same reasons for killing people but in a way,he repented at the end of the series whilst Kelvin,well,died way too easily.But one person that he could never rival is Lei Chi Hou of Kindred Spirit.So that guy never killed anybody(ok,so he threw Gwai Yah Loi into the sea) per se,but this man is a scum.He tortured his mom,made his wife to eat dirt,ignored his only child,caused the downfall of Ah Hoi.And so when he died,everybody cheered.But when Patrick died,there was a tinge of sadness that you could just say,"What if" or "Only if..".

The Best Performance
Four people.Kristy Yang though she may not be a great actress but she really is pretty.And here,she was sweet,nice and hopeful for love of her brother in law.You would wish that the two of them just get together.

Deannie Yip.Some may say she smiled a lot in here but if yous ee,it is a smile of unhappiness in her heart,her reluctance and her sorrow.She is really good in here and well,quite sad too.

Patrick for his fine performance.It is one thing to be a villain but to be a villain that we all will feel pity for and forgive him at the end of the series takes a great actor to portray. He isn't a great actor but he was really good.He reminds me of Kong Wah's performance in Secret Battle Of The Majesty.He may have killed,raped,swindled. But if at the end you pity the character to the point of saying,"why does he have to die" I personally feel that actor deserves an award for it.

And last but not least,the best of the lot would be Michael Tao.He is a fine actor and here,he is great.His Lei Siu Tin could be irritating at first but you still like him no matter how mean he was.And personally,I feel that if an actor who cries and when you cried with him,I would dare say he did a great job.And the reason for watching this series will be Michael Tao.He not only shines,but his performance is like a supernova,a star explosion,which is big,long and very very bright.Excellent performance.

Is it worth Renting
Definitely but there are a few embarrassing points of this series that I would say is the Number One sin of TV/Movie history:

The Editing
A very embarrassing fact happened. Kathy who for some reason could not film some of the pivotal scenes but we could hear her voice.And so what do the director do? He super-imposed some other scenes with some corresponding emotions on her face (like confusion,sadness,smiling) onto the scenes that where Kathy is supposed to be or that he used the back of a double for Kathy.The thing is,you would know because suddenly the scene would be slow-mo in action,or the camera kinda concentrated too long on Michael's or Kristy's face or that the super-imposed scenes was like entirely different from the scene we are supposed to be seeing, like the background which was supposed to be a ballroom scene became some bushes and that Kathy's dress that was red became blue,with a collar.It was very funny when all this scene was supposed to be of great drama in it.Which was a pity.Almost 80% of Kathy's scenes were like this.And this was supposed to be the best scene where Michael would be trying to flirt with Kathy that is clearly annoyed and what do you see?Another woman's head with her voice.Such wasted scenes and opportunities.

The Sets
I know the sets /scenes of Michael's house was supposed to cost more than a million dollars to make.But they are so noisy and over decorated that it is almost embarrassing to watch. All you could here when they are in this house was "Konk..Konk...KOnk..Konk" that is the footsteps of the actors when you're trying hard to hear and concentrate what they're saying.I would dare say that TVB's interior or set designer are much more better because it's more down to earth and practical.

The Dresses
They're supposed to be the creme de la creme,that is the richest amongst the richest but my God!Their dresses,coats are so well,either over done or looked cheap.Like so much money spent on the sets and nothing left for make-up and dresses.Again,I would dare say that TVB's dresses or make-up artists are much more practical and yet stylish that they really make the actors looked glamorous and very rich.

Is It Better Than ...
All those dramas above rivalry amongst rich people from TVB/ATV?Yep.This has the best story of this decade so you kinda forgive them for the above mentioned mistakes.

But I must mention this.The best of this kind of series in ATV/TVB,modern drama wise,for my generation(so forget about The Bund or the 70's) would be Looking Back In Anger with Felix Wong and a very young but very good Deric Wan.That is in my opinion a classic of this sort of the story.For this decade,well Flaming Brothers would be it.

Interesting Facts
This is the biggest hit for ATV for year 1999,and one of the biggest hit that year for TV world.It made Patrick into an instant star and a leading man and made Michael into a bigger star.It made Kristy Yang very very busy lately.

Interestingly,this is not a 100% ATV production.It was a collaboration with another local production house and ATV does not own the rights to this series.Which was why when rumours broke out over some fight over the series with ATV,they threatened to take it to somewhere else(TVB perhaps?).Anyway,a sequel is at hand,of course I don't see how Patrick and Deannie's character can be reprised in this sequel unless it is a different story altogether with the same casts.

People was not happy with the final scene.Too many questions was left unanswered like did Siu Gei really died?He was supposed to be one of the main characters and people could not believe that he died just like that.And Michael and Kristy's relationship was like,neither here nor there.So a special 1 hour documentary of the actor's feelings of this series was made and a special definitive ending was filmed.A happy ending if you must know.

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