Deciphering The Title
In Cantonese Chum Chun Gei. Basically, the core of the story is what the Chinese title dictates; The Tale of The Search For Chun. Chun in here actually refers to the Chun which united the 6 others states as one big state, which had our guy, Ying Jing proclaiming himself as Shih Huang Ti. So basically, this series' core is about The Tale Of The Search Of Shih Huang Ti. Do read HISTORY for more info on the title.
Also Known As
The most anticipated TVB series of year 2001-2002, and certainly one with a mega budget and by far, the most ambitious series I have seen from TVB in terms of sets, costumes and especially the core storyline which is based on a book by Wong Yi of the same title. How faithful both the book and the series towards the historical events or the series towards the book remains to be debated, by you of course. I have never read the book and so I would assume some deviations would happen but at the core, I assume the book and the series is the same unless you who have read the book would care to point out the striking differences between the two. For one, I found out that in the book, Siu Lung ended with one woman, and not two.
If I have my way, I'll name it the Biggest Dud Of Year 2001.
40 episodes/20 tapes
Hon Siu Lung - Louis Koo
Lin Jun/Lou Oi - Kong Wah
Wu Ting Fong - Jessica Hester Hsuan
Kam Qing/Chung Qing - Sonija Kwok
Jiu Sin - Michelle Saram
Jiu Nga/Madam Nga - Shuet Lei
Jiu Poon/Ying Jing (Shih Huang Ti) - Raymond Lam Fung
Jiu Muk - Lei Chi Hung
Wu Ying Yuen - Wong Wai
Tou Fung - Jimmy Au Sui Wai
Sin Yau - Joyce Tang
Chu Gei - Yew Ying Ying
Lui But Wai, PM of the State Of Chun-Kwok Fung
Sung Ling Gwan - Tsang Wai Kuen
Lung Yeung Gwan - Koi Ming Fai
Chow Hin-Yu Tzi Ming
Lei Si - Chan Kwok Bong
Lui Leung Yung - Sherming Yew Lok Yee
Jong Seung Wong (King of Chun) - Lei Lung Gei
Lei Yuen - Lo Hou Kai
Wu Ting Wai - Siu Fu Yung
Chou Chau Dou - Lau Ka Fai
Madame Ping Yuen - Lam Kei Yan
Wong Jin - Kwok Jing Hung
Yuen Jung - Yuen Wah
Lei Siu Chiu - John Tang Yat Kwan
Mak Wai Gin - Evergreen Mak
The Gong Man At The Football Tournament - Wong Hei
A Few Nagging Questions Answered
Just in case you feel like asking for my opinion..
Must I read my history books on China before I watch this series?
Why not? Learn a bit about the little said Warring Period between the 7 states and a bit on Shih Huang Ti but this series is not a history lesson, in fact it screwed it up big time. Jut don't rely on TVB for accurate historical depiction of all historical figures. So my answer is no. Just know that there are 7 warring states, and Siu Lung is looking for Ying Jing who will become the future Shih Huang Ti. If you're feeling a bit energetic today, do scan through HISTORY.
Must I read the novel?
If you know Chinese there is an online site but I forgot the URL. No will be my answer, unless you are dying to know what TVB omitted or changed.
What is this thing about Ying Jing, Chun state, Shih Huang Ti? Is it real?
Yes. Very real but not very truly depicted in this series. Again, do scan through HISTORY and CHARACTERS to know who once lived.
I read about this and I am so confused. Why Ying Jing is in Jiu state when he was prince of Chun state?
You see, years ago those kings had this rather nasty practice; they will send their son, usually the eldest as the hostage in an enemy state as a deposit. You know when you rent a car you pay a deposit so that the rental company will be assured that you won't do anything hanky panky with their car, if not there goes your deposit. Well, replace rented car as the security of your country, deposit as your enemy's son and you as the enemy state. Works the same way. Now the funny thing about this Ying Jing is his father was a hostage prince who was later allowed to go home to be crowned king, I guess the bigger state felt no threat from this despondent prince. He had a son named Ying Jing whom he left behind as hostage prince as a reassurance he won't resort to hanky panky and when he died, Ying Jing returned home to be crowned prince when he was I think a teenager. I am very rusty at this and I urge you to read HISTORY.
Why there are different variations to Ying Jing's name in this site of yours? And who is who in this series??
Well, read below.
What can I expect from this series?
Great sceneries, lovely majestic palaces, lots and lots of extras, plenty of dramatic deaths, lots of references to shit (the real thing), unsophisticated way of looking at some things, plenty of raping of women, killing of children, plenty of people struck by arrows (well, can't expect being shot by guns right?), plenty more of those "I exchange Ying Jing with an imposter" plot (funny because we have an imposter and later an imposter posing as the imposter posing as the real thing) and failed attempts of everything. And most of all, expect to feel shortchanged.
I know I may have differed in my spellings for some names, but they refer to the same character. Chun is actually Qin in Mandarin. Ying Jing IS Shih Huang Ti, or Chun Chi Wong or Qin Shih Huang Ti. All referred to the same man you'll read about in your history books about the first Emperor of a united China, the one who constructed the first phase of the Great Wall Of China. You'll meet real life characters in here, and so do read a brief info of these characters in CHARACTERS,
since I will not write about them in this review.
You will be utterly confused with the varied characters you see in here, but after a while you'll discover this series is rather narrow in its focus. And it would be interesting how Seagull is going to construct the relationship chart. But once she did, I will put it in here to illustrate whatever point I was trying to say a few alphabets ago. Anyway, just bear in mind everybody wants to be King and somebody wants somebody dead for some reason that we might not actually know.
The Warring States : We know there were 7 warring states historically such as Chai, Cho, Yin, Chun, Hon, Jiu and Ngai fighting for supremacy but in this series, you will see primarily Ngai, Jiu, Chai and Chun. Therefore, most characters are from these 3 states. You will get to hear, in just one line of script the existence of Hon (where Lei Si & Hon Fei came from) as well as Cho (where Jiu Muk came from). You'll see a little bit more on ...
1. Ngai : You'll meet Sung Ling Gwan, Lung Yeung Gwan, Ngai Prince in the scene where Jiu Sin was to be married to the Ngai Prince. You will also find out that Madam Ping Yuen works for Ngai state, specifically Sung Ling Gwan and so was Jiu Dak.
2. Jiu : the first bulk of the story is set in this state where you will meet Jiu Muk, Jiu Nga, Sin Yau, Jiu Poon, Wu Ying Yuen, Jiu Sin, Wu Ting Fong, Tou Fong, Lin Jun (who actually is from Cho if I am not mistaken) and many many more that forms the basis of this story on the part of Siu Lung. Chu Gei and Ying Jing are hostages in this state.
3. Chun : the rest of the story is set here which is where all the mean stuff happen, like politics and more deaths. You'll meet Lui But Wai, Lui Leung Yung and many many more recurring characters from the Jiu scenes. Kam Qing, Jau Hin, Wu Ying Yuen & family are citizens of Chun whilst Sung Ling Gwan is the citizen of Ngai.
4. Chai : see Jess dance, see Jess willingly take the knife for Louis, see Jess run, see Jess cry, yes, you'll see plenty of Jess in here.
The rest you need not even know of their existence.
21st century super cop, Hon Siu Lung agreed to become the guinea pig of Lei Siu Chiu's bold experiment of time travel because they struck an agreement, that he would return to the ancient Chun state, witness a Ying Jing crowned as Chun king, take some pictures and return home, whereby Lei Siu Chiu will then use the same machine to send Siu Lung back to a few days earlier to stop the wedding between his long time suffering ex-gf of 7 years, Chun Qing from marrying a Peter Wong, all because our Siu Lung was afraid of commitment in the first place and so Chun Qing married another. Went back to Chun he did but something went terribly wrong and he went back to 3 years prior to the crowning, and there was no way he could get back to the present he reasoned if a Ying Jing is not crowned as Chun king. And so he went on an adventure that will change him forever, and he met plenty of good people who helped him along the way, like a ruthless assassin with a heart of gold, Sin Yau who was already in love with him when she agreed to guide him to Chun state. But he was still in Jiu state, and he bumped into many dangers in the likes of Jiu Muk, a high ranking official in Jiu, Sin Yee the ill fated Jiu princess as well as the slut of Jiu state, Madam Nga, the widowed sister of the Jiu King. He became great friends with the Wu family, who was actually spies from Chun who was there to save the royal hostages, Ying Jing and his mom, Chu Gei but they did not where they were hidden. Along the way, relying on his wits, his courage and his sheer dumb luck, he conquered the day amongst other things by saving Chu Gei only to discover Ying Jing was long dead. With no Ying Jing, he can't possibly go home to his Chun Qing. Then there was a Jiu Poon, a young rash and angry son of Jiu Nga who resented his mother and Jiu Muk. But under Siu Lung's tutelage, he became much reasonable and was willing to help his sifu who made a suggestion that he become Ying Jing, when Chu Gei thought Jiu Poon was Ying Jing. Wanting to avenge for his mother, Jiu Nga's pitiful death at the hands of Jiu Muk, he agreed. But he was afraid to be King and refused many times to ascend the Chun throne but pressured by Siu Lung, he reluctantly became the King, much to the chagrin of Lui But Wai, the Chun PM who wanted the throne for himself. Along the way, realising power was the only way to absolute domination and respect, Ying Jing changed. He became ruthless and was cunning, and his relationship with Siu Lung difted apart, until one day he wanted Siu Lung dead. In that moment of time, though Jiu Poon was the fake Ying Jing, in the end, much to the disappointment and regret of Siu Lung, Ying Jing the fake became the true Shih Huang Ti, ruling with an iron fist.
Oh ya, there's a love story as well...make that lots of love stories. Like Lin Jun who was in love with a Wu Ting Fong who was in love with Siu Lung who was in love with Kam Qing who was in love with (luckily) Siu Ling (if not this will not stop). But Ting Fong was betrayed by Lin Jun, Lin Jun became Lou Oi and became Chu Gei's secret lover, Ting Fong ran away and became a part time assassin, part time dancer (as Fung Fei), part time prostitute (only once and nothing happened) and was on a full time basis avoiding Siu Lung, because she felt shame after being raped by Lou Oi.
That's about it.
Questions Asked And Answered
All in Episode Summaries. But some additional Q&A here....
Was Charmaine in here as Chu Gei??
Nope, that is Yew Ying Ying.
Where's Wong Hei??
Blink and you'll miss him.
Was Ting Fong a prostitute??
Raped, yes. Dancer, yes. Hypocrite, yes. Prostitute, NEVER.
Was Chu Gei Jiu Muk's lover??
If Jiu Muk is a Jiu, Jiu Nga is a Jiu, wouldn't that be incestious if they sleep with each other??
I wonder too myself, but I would assume they may not be relations though they have same surnames.
Why Jiu Nga had to be so cheap when she was after all the Jiu King's sister??
Husband died, she is still young, probably for security. But the truth is did you see the way Jiu King treated her sister? There was much respect. And when she died, Jiu King was very upset. So they must have been close. And if they were so close, I wonder why Jiu Nga had to resort to being Jiu Muk's woman when she could have gone back to the palace and live as a widow all her life and her son would have been protected by the Jiu King, after all he is Jiu King's nephew. But in an intro I read on Jiu Nga's character, she was a slut because Jiu Muk made her sleep with everybody to spy for him, and I thought I read that the Jiu King knew about it, though this was not shown in the series itself. If such is the case, then I could understand why she was such a pitiful woman.
Lin Jun became Lou Oi and as Lou Oi he became Chun Gei's lover boy??
Yes. Much of the series he was Lou Oi. Later Lui But Wai erased all his kung fu and castrated him, became truly a useless man. He asked for it because he was too ambitious without ever strengthening his foundation. Truth be told, Chu Gei wasn't that powerful so as to protect him from any harm. In fact Lui But Wai could walk in and out of the King's chambers! Not very respectful fella.
Did Chu Gei loved Lui But Wai??
Once, a long long time ago but later into the series, she fell for, (quite unconvincingly) for Lou Oi, for God knows why.
Did Lin Jun loved Chu Gei??
He loved the illegitimate son, he wanted power. In my opinion, I don't think he loved her though he looked pretty shocked when she was willing to abandon everything, even her life for him. So I guess he was touched but he was not really in love with her. He loved Wu Ting Fong, even at the end when he couldn't raise his hands to kill Ting Fong.
Did Lui Leung Yung loved Ying Jing? Did Ying Jing ever loved anyone in here?
First question, no. Lung Yeung fell for Siu Lung's third youngest sworn brother and they ran away at last when Lui But Wai was executed. Ying Jing, no wife, no woman. All booked either by Lou Oi or Siu Lung. Poor man, no wonder he was so angry.
Did Sin Yau got a guy at last??
Nope. She got a better deal. She became the keeper of the Mak Jade and had thousands of followers under her command.
Who did Siu Lung really loved??
He respected Jiu Nga. He liked and pitied Siu Sin. He greatly appreciates Sin Yau. He was madly in love with Kam Qing (because she looks like Chun Qing, more on this below) and if you ask me, though he panicked when Ting Fong was slashed and later became Lou Oi's hostage, though he ran to her and signed "I Love You", though he said he didn't care she was raped, though they had a son, I would bet all my money I have that Siu Lung actually felt bad for what she went through. He clearly loved her, but he was in love with Kam Qing, because he practically ran to her when he met Kam Qing again at the pier after a long separation. You know what, I do think he actually loved Chun Qing. Period.
Is Lung Yeung Gwan a man or a woman??
Lung Yeung Gwan is played by a woman but in this series, he is a 100% man, rumoured to be gay, historically.
A happy ending at last??
Read below and find out for yourself.
Did all this really happened??
There are a lot of historical figures in here, but there is no Hon Siu Lung and wives. There was a Hon Yu though.
Will there be a sequel??
I hope not. But I do hope there will be a remake.
All these in 20 tapes right??
Yes, honest! 20 tapes.
How come ATE was 50 tapes and this historical type of a story got 20 tapes??
E-Mail Sir Run Run Shaw. I am sure he himself do not know the answer.
Ying Jing killed off Lui But Wai (poison), Lou Oi/Lin Jun (spears cut through his body), illegitimate child of Lou Oi and Chu Gei (dropped from high place), Chu Gei (technically she killed herself but well, he would have killed her anyway), later buried some hundreds of scholars, burned some books, conquered 6 other states and became Shih Huang Ti. And you want the ending's ending, do read HISTORY. Will make you cry.
Siu Lung and family (including Leung Yung and relatives), thanks to Wong Jin's honour and Ying Jing's fear (he realised his fate is one with Siu Lung so he can't kill off Siu Lung and decided to adopt Lei Si's suggestion and burn all books and kill all scholars who knew about Siu Lung and therefore erased Siu Lung from history books) escaped to become farmers, happily. Siu Lung has two loving wives, one bright son destined to be Hon Yu, the other coming a few months later.
Sin Yau did confessed her love for Siu Lung but he thought it was a joke and she decided that it should remain that way though she suggested he could have 3 wives instead of 2. She then went out of camera range and became Mak (the Kung Fu that Louis knows) jade bearer and traveled the world to become an independent lady swordsman with much style and panache.
As for Lung Yeung Gwan, and everybody else, I would assume they would be killed when the 6 other states were united. Sad end for heroes.
My Views & Comments
I do not know where to begin. Should I start with the failure of this series from the aspect of the casting decisions? Or should I talk a bit more on perhaps the muddled storyline? Better yet, shall I talk about the clueless director and script writer who obviously do not know where he/she/they are heading with this story and this book? Or perhaps on the wasted golden chances to really make a series that makes a different in how we see history?
This series has perhaps the most ambitious story TVB would have ever attempted to make. For instance, it is often very difficult to play around with a set story, especially such a well known history and such a famous man, for whatever reason. You can't make a joke out of it and yet you can't talk about the same old thing; if that is the case, we should just watch a documentary. TVB always attempt to cater to the various tastes, various viewers from the age of 1 to 100. They will always try to put in popular elements, disregarding perhaps the very notion that the most unpopular elements might make a big difference between a mediocre series and a great classic. This series have big stars, from Jessica Hester Hsuan, to Louis Koo as well as up and coming Raymong Fung and many more. You will see many big sets, lots of extras and beautiful costumes to compliment the big beautiful authentic feel of a Chun era. What the writers and the producers forgot is the storyline, or rather where were they heading with such an ambitious story? Given the opportunity that they could have used, that for once they would have made a series that will impress even the most cynical or the most fussy (such as I), where they could have concentrated on the historical plus the fictional aspect of the era of Chun, the mysticisms and the possible legends and myths intermixed with deadly political games and heartfelt love stories, a tale about betrayal and trust, between doing what you know is right and knowing what you hope to be right....after 40 episodes, all we have that ever come close to that glimmer of greatness is in the 39th and the 40th episode. The rest of the episodes are one fine example of how things go wrong could go really wrong to the point of no return. The fault lies in the script and TVB's ever complacent attitude; give a bit of drama, some humour, dump in a bunch of good actors, pretty ones, some nice sceneries, we are guaranteed a hit. What they had will be the Biggest Disappointment of 2001, more than Seven Sisters or Gods Of Honour could ever be. And I believe the reasons are plenty, staggering but very simple. TVB has underestimated the intelligence of their viewers.
Times are changing; after 911 incident, I believe we are capable of taking in more of the notion of what makes a man do evil things, though we might never understand them. We may be have been beaten, but we are wiser and as such we are more mature in how we see the world. This series could have depicted all this with great maturity but the series chose to show so little of such aspect and in such a shallow unconvincing way, I would be crying by the time I finish this review, because I was utterly devastated that I have wasted money on such a useless piece of series.
The Casting Decision
To be truthful, you will some really good performances in here by the veterans and by some new artists, in fact I believe Jessica Hester Hsuan was quite ok as Jessica Hester Hsuan the actress. But I can never ever imagine, or even begin to understand why on Earth the casting director would cast so many mixed blood in a series essentially about Chinese women?
For one, we have the really annoying presence of a woman who can't act. If she has a past life, she must have been a tree, or some piece of wood and I believe a log of wood would have more acting abilities than Michelle Saram. She had such a nice character to portray, conflicting emotions, a nice princess who met a terrible fate because she was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and then we have this half Indian, half Chinese who can't even speak decent Chinese, who can't even act, to portray an authentic Chinese Jiu princess. Half the time I was hoping for her death because I read in the Episode Summaries she was going to die, but it came a bit too late. When she died, which was quite pitiful and perhaps the best acting Michelle Saram could ever give is to act as a corpse was dramatic and yet a thing all of us could cheer about. I liked her Jiu Sin, but I hated her performance. Half the time she look either dazed, surprised or she does what she does best; smile, whilst she painfully (for us) recited her lines, line by line, word for word, devoid of any human emotions. She had such an ugly hairstyle, and I believe this was because the costume director wouldn't want her to upstage our No. 1 TVB sister, Jess so Jiu Sin was dressed like a pauper instead of a princess. In fact, she was dressed like a princess, but it was Jess who was over dressed for a stable girl.
Then we have another mixed blood (she looks like one anyway) in the series; Sonija Kwok. In the modern times, she was quite ok, since she had nothing much to do other than to sulk, frown and to kiss Louis Koo. In the olden times as Kam Qing, her character was supposed to be someone really sophisticated, magnificent, elegant, extremely smart and giving, kind and compassionate, she is supposed to be perfect. If Sonija Kwok had played a mute, I would say she did quite ok. Unfortunately, she portrayed a lady who not only sprout poems and intelligent stuff, she would sprout some good advice to our Ying Jing himself. And that is her biggest weakness as an actress. She talks like the way she talks in interviews, which annoyed the hell out of me. On the one hand I have one wood of an actress, on the other I have to endure a woman who gives new meaning to the sentence "reading the script", you know like reciting the script. She was like an automaton reading her lines, and don't ever expect her to be a bit emotional in her voice, though her eyes may have some tears or smiles on her lips. She neither embodied the spirit of Kam Qing in persona or physically. She lacked the gentility of a noble woman and I feel watching her deliver her lines was enough to make me switch off the TV, which I did for the next 3 weeks or so until I continued watching this series again, having skipped a few tapes.
It is actresses like these two above that made me appreciate Anne Heung and Charmaine Sheh more, and that is my heartfelt comment for the 2 actresses that I have never stopped condemning.
Of course we have one Chinese girl who looks mixed, the pretty Joyce Tang. I have nothing much to say about her except that her character is my Most Favourite Characterand I would have hoped she would have more things to do than to walk left and right with Jess' character, Wu Ting Fong.
Then we of course have an Asian girl, our own Singaporean actress Yew Ying Ying who could rival Sonija Kwok in being monotone, albeit she is far better actress than the wood and the automaton. However, Chu Gei is supposed to be drop dead gorgeous, which is why the Chun King having left her for decades still missed her. She is supposed to be young and yet a mother of a teenage son. However, Yew Ying Ying had two big flaws; her voice (she does not have an "intelligent" voice to begin with and gives me an impression that she is a bit slow up there because of the way she delivers her line) and her skin. She is too dark. The one and first rule in the Chinese world, especially the ancient Chinese world, their definition of a beauty is first and foremost the fairness of a woman's skin. Not only does our Chu Gei in this series looked like she just came back from a vacation in Malaysia, she does not even embody the ancient beauty of an ancient woman.
This criticism would of course apply just as much to another mixed blood, Jess' Wu Ting Fong. If I didn't hear those lines, I would say Jess would have been quite ok as Wu Ting Fong. But we must look and see what is the characterisation of Wu Ting Fong. She is young, naive and yet unreasonable, rash and yet righteous, a die hard romantic and yet fearful, sometimes a hypocrite but at most time a good person who just so happens made bad decisions when it comes to who she should call friends, Lin Jun for one. She looks strong but in actual fact, she is just weak and fragile. She trusts someone till death and yet is not afraid to question her trust. And most important of all, she is supposed to be so beautiful, that at first glance, the bandits who kidnapped her wanted her, she is so good at dancing that she would become Fung Fei and the PM of Chai state could not forget her dancing skills as well as her beauty. I know whatever I am going to say will probably anger Jess' fans, the truth is Jess was badly cast as Wu Ting Fong, and she is here for no other reason than to attract viewers and nothing else. In some scenes where she had to dance, she showed great weakness. She lacked the poise and the seductiveness as a famous dancer, she lacks the (false) gentility (as Wu Ting Fong is supposed to be uneducated and therefore the gentle persona would come when she became Fung Fei) as well as the womanly charm of someone so lusted after by so many men and she lacked the youngness for someone so rash and so unreasonable and yet adorable and likeable. She lacks the spontaneity of a woman who acts according to her heart (compared to the more stable and educated Kam Qing). Her Wu Ting Fong is one of the reasons, other than the wood and the automaton that made me either fast forward the tape or stop watching.
All these actresses lacked the essential Chinese-ness of a Chinese woman as well as fair skin. None looked like an ancient beauty.
Of course, the biggest problem would not and could not have been in the casting decision alone. It would have been..
The Focus Of The Story
I was very eager to watch this series when I found out it would be about a modern cop being sent back to the violent and manipulative past, some very BC back in time into the Old China where he will become the mentor of Ying Jing who will be Shih Huang Ti. In my mind I have so many expectations; from how will they meet to how will he be his mentor and finally, to how Siu Lung was going to accept the truth that Ying Jing as Shih Huang Ti will become famous more for his tyranny than for his great achievements and advancements for China, and that Siu Lung had a part to play in this oppression? In my mind I was expecting a story similar to Duke Of Mount Deer 1998, and I was hoping to see a repeat of the scene where Wai Siu Bo could not decide whether to do what is expected of him and what his conscience tells him to. But all I got is one good looking cop running after a Chun Qing lookalike, or spends most of his time running after a woman who is running away from him, that is Wu Ting Fong. Sometimes we get a glimmer of what could have been, but those were done in such a shallow manner. For one...
how Jiu Poon (who will later replace the dead Ying Jing as the fake Ying Jing) could so easily respect this man who didn't take much time to bond with him; how Siu Lung so wanted to teach him good things and yet never came around to it; how when Ying Jing was at his most vulnerable mentally, where is Siu Lung? Probably running after his Kam Qing and looking after Jiu Sin.
The early focus of this story was on how Siu Lung adapted to the olden times (it was so simple it would defy logic because he seem to blend in so easily), and then it will shift to how Siu Lung helped to save Chu Gei only to discover the devastating truth; how Jiu Poon became a pawn and then it shifted to Wu Ting Fong, and then Sin Yau, and then Kam Qing, and then how Siu Lung deal with them and more political plots...all the while I was wondering why would Jiu Poon listen to a man who hardly teaches him anything except for some male bonding sessions which all happened out of camera range? Clearly Siu Lung did a lot of things, but compared to the sanctity of the friendship between Wai Siu Bo and Hong Hei, we have in this series a very shallow depiction of a teacher-student relationship. Do not forget Jiu Poon looked upon Siu Lung like a father he never knew and Siu Lung felt responsible for Jiu Poon because of his mother's death and for thrusting Jiu Poon into a game Jiu Poon never wanted to and yet we see so little of their bonding sessions that we are supposed to just accept there lies a big deep trust between the two of them? I see more of bonding between Siu Lung and his women as well as with his enemies than with Ying Jing/Jiu Poon himself. In a way this will make you wonder;
What if Siu Lung had spent more time educating and teaching Ying Jing the finer points of leadership and governance instead of running after women, would Shih Huang Ti had been different, still great but less severe?
Because much lies in the early education of Ying Jing. If such is the case, then Siu Lung perhaps could be blame for whatever atrocities Ying Jing would do later on, though Kam Qing had said "Sometimes it is the man himself, and not the circumstances or other people who pushes this man towards evil instead of goodness". I would beg to differ because essentially, Jiu Poon was a nice boy, but he lacked direction. And so Siu Lung gave him Lei Si as his teacher for no other reason other than the fact that Siu Lung in modern times read in history books Lei Si would guide Ying Jing in his quest to become Shih Huang Ti. And that is such a sad thing; because we all know and Siu Lung would have known Lei Si was the one who suggested many atrocities, such as burning of the books, etc and in a way, Siu Lung has fed a tiger into the mouth of a lamb, thus changing the lamb into a fierce dragon. Lei Si was a staunch Legalist and it is funny that in this series, he was such a nice guy, nothing malicious, nothing too ambitious to the point of evil. He was purely doing his job, though at one point Siu Lung have commented that Lei Si would be so powerful one day, he would equal the ruler in his influence, which is true historically if you read HISTORY. And yet we see nothing of such potential. All were brushed aside in a matter of a few episodes.
And of course we have one of the most frustrating elements in this series...
Mr Hon Siu Lung, the hero in EVERY WAY
The book must have been quite silly if the series were faithful in its adaptation to the small screen. You see, everything and anything under the sun is done either by, for, because, due to and related to a man named Hon Siu Lung. This series gives him such greatness that it is almost to the point of ridiculousness. In fact it is rather stupid if you ask me.
There is a Ying Jing because of him (I could buy that), there is a Shih Huang Ti because he made it that way, all women under the age of 35 other than Chu Gei and Lui Leung Yung would fall head over heels for him for various reasons leaving Lou Oi with one woman and Ying Jing with none, he would be the reason why Jiu Muk was finally caught, he always seem to know what to say, what to do and how to react, and he made Ying Jing into who he is. Isn't this a bit too much? At the end of the day, great people and very conniving people like Sung Ling Gwan, Lui But Wai, Jiu Muk, etc, all who have been in the game of deceit and manipulation ever since they first stepped into the political arena seem like a bunch of old fools. In fact, Lui But Wai was pitiful and so was Jiu Muk, for being so bloody stupid. The only person who could possibly outsmart Siu Lung would be Ying Jing and yet Siu Lung knew Ying Jing inside out, after all supposedly he taught Ying Jing everything. In fact, at the end of the series, we will discover two shocking facts.
In what is known as the dark times in Chun history where Shih Huang Ti ordered for the burning of books and burying of some 400 scholars as well as massacres of innocent people, we all know it was because he wanted to erase all other teachings and adopt one teaching, also a nice excuse to kill off your critics, like Michelle Saram would have done to me if she had been Shih Huang Ti. A King wouldn't want bad publicity, not even back in those days. In this series, it seems all this happened because Ying Jing wanted to erase the name of Hon Siu Lung from history books, which is why there is no Hon Siu Lung in the modern text. All that just to erase his name and how did Mr Hon reacted to this shocking piece of news? He looked sad, for like a second and off he ran. I could have hated this man if not for his earlier scenes where he was a nice guy and all.
Anyway, isn't that a bit too much to fan the ego of Mr Hon? But wait, there's more! Read this..
Mr Hon will have a son whose name is Hon Bo Yi. But Little Bo Yi does not like that name and wants a more manly and heroic name, he wants to be a hero when he grows up and he renames himself Hon Yu. As we all know and if you don't you can scroll down below for more info, Hon Yu would become the Overlord of Western Chu,a rather popular and very romanticised hero, who could almost have been Emperor but he didn't play his political cards right and Lau Bong became the founder of the longest Chinese dynasty, Han Dynasty whilst he committed suicide at the age of 30, a fallen hero. These days you will see movies on how he was so in love with a woman he was willing to give up everything and how the woman killed herself to ease his burden in his quest to become Emperor of China. All that you can read about it at the bottom of this review. My point is, well Mr Hon would probably cry because his son would have a very short life, his son could equal Shih Huang Ti in his cruelty though for different reasons (though Hon Yu is widely regarded as a hero and Lau Bong the snake) and Hon Yu would be a great man in such a young age.
I would say this is way over the top and I was shocked at how much the writer (book if that is the case and the series if not) could be so selfish and claim all credits of all the history on one man, Hon Siu Lung. In making Hon Siu Lung seem so invincible and so great, I became more and more repulsed by the very idea of screwing history to the point of no return. And logically, if Hon Yu became Hon Yu, don't you think history books would have recorded his father's name as Hon Siu Lung? And so whatever Ying Jing did was useless because people will know his name though not what he did. Chinese is one society that is very obsessed with family trees and I can't see how Hon Siu Lung would have escaped history books if Hon Yu was his son. I think the ending was one of the most stupidest ending I have seen in a series, other than HSDS 2000, being the most recent in my limited memory bank that is my brain.
Come on, give me a break!
The Enemies, people & Hon Siu Lung
And this would be the weakest element as well as the most dumbfounding element in this series. Nothing compares to this one simple question. Let me build up the scenario first...
You see, you're Jiu Muk, powerful man capable of many things in the state of Jiu. One day a young man, capable and very street smart who talks funny comes by and you want him on your side but he swiftly rejected your offer. He seems to know so much, about the future, about the past, about what you're thinking and doing, you asked him where he came from he replied "Hong Kong, SAR", which master he belonged to and he replied "Hong Kong Police, specifically G7" and you asked him why he talks funny and he replied "tradition of my village".
Now, as someone who has been around warring states, cunning PMs, people trying too usurp your power and all, being in a time where everybody seems to know so much about everybody (like Jiu Muk is the illegitimate son of who and who, who has possession of the famous Book of Weapons, etc etc etc) wouldn't you as Jiu Muk would have done the most basic and simplest thing before you venture to offer this dude a job? You know, like sending your men to check out this HK SAR, HK Police Force, G7 and all that? Like try to find out his identity other than just knowing his name Hon Siu Lung?
Not only Jiu Muk didn't do that, Lui But Wai, ruthless and cunning didn't do that, and I would forgive him. Since Wu Ying Yuen was told by Siu Lung that Lui But Wai sent him to assist Wu Ying Yuen and when Wu went back to Chun and Lui saw Hon next to Wu, naturally as Lui you would assume Hon is Wu's man.
Many just took Mr Hon's words as the truth. When he said something modern, like English or modern lingo or modern speech, many would go "huh?" and he would explain and that is that. When asked where he was from, HK was the answer and that would be the end of discussion. How he acquired his knowledge of counting the rings on a tree as the indication of a tree's age was never really questioned, everybody accepted his words as the truth. This was why earlier I said Mr Hon adapted to Chun time pretty well and pretty fast, no problem at all. Throw him into the Renaissance time and he will not even break a sweat!
Illogical to the point of being stupid. I can buy the fact that Kam Qing and women believing in his story that he was from the future since they all love him and so love is blind. In fact, the ending had them all speaking English, like BB or BBQ or I Love You. You know, perhaps Mr Hon spread the English language in China! WOW!
The Character Of Ying Jing
I was really looking forward to this character. I knew Raymond Lam will play Ying Jing even when he was Jiu Poon, but in my mind I was thinking how could Chu Gei switched the baby with Jiu Nga's? I was thinking Jiu Poon was Ying Jing. To my utter disappointment, Jiu Poon was not Ying Jing, and Ying Jing died in war. Jiu Poon thus became the fake Ying Jing.
After a few more viewings, I thought well quite logical if Jiu Poon became ruthless since he was pushed to being ruthless by many many people. But the change came much too late, like Tape 17 or something. For the earlier tapes, he was either fearful, young, playful or naughty. Nothing much to do and such wasted time when more could have been shown on his descend to ruthlessness. It was much too sudden but Raymond Lam did so well in tape 20, I shall ignore this great weakness of this series. Because of Tape 20, which is my most favourite tape and perhaps the only saving grace of this entire pathetic series, we finally see a glimmer of ruthlessness in Ying Jing and fear in Siu Lung.
You see, in these two tapes (19 & 20), we will finally see the transformation of Ying Jing as Shih Huang Ti. He may have been a fake Ying Jing but he was the real Shih Huang Ti. He could kill a baby, throw a baby from high places, laugh and feel no remorse, he could be so determined to win his sifu in a simple game of judo, his face looked so scary for one second, I too was afraid for Siu Lung who was clearly shocked by the change in Ying Jing. And yet we see that Ying Jing still know he is Jiu Poon at heart but it dawned on Siu Lung, he has lost that Jiu Poon he so cared for, because before him was the real Ying Jing and Jiu Poon was dead. He had helped created a monster. This was why Siu Lung knew it was time for him to run for his life because nothing would stop Ying Jing from killing him. And yet Ying Jing let Siu Lung go. This is not because he still cared for Siu Lung....in actual fact for the very same reason why Siu Lung placed Jiu Poon at the throne of Chun that Ying Jing let Siu Lung go. Both knew all along their fates were intertwined, one can't exist without the other. Siu Lung placed Jiu Poon as Ying Jing because he wanted to stay alive to go home to the present though Siu Lung was willing to die with Ying Jing at the end, not because he wanted to stop the formation of Ying Jing as Shih Huang Ti, but because he wanted to buy time so that his loved ones could escape. Now Ying Jing let Siu Lung go because he wanted to continue to exist, to continue to be King. Both were as selfish in using each other.
That is what the series should expand more on. The fate of these two men, so intertwined together. Their parting scene could have been one where a viewer would feel a deep regret to see Jiu Poon lost forever, like how Siu Lung would have felt and perhaps Ying Jing would have felt the lost of Siu Lung too and that could be one poignant scene. But the writer didn't take more time to build on their relationship, to solidify their trust and love and respect for one another, that all that was spoilt for the lack of emotional build up and not much attention were given to the breakdown if this once sacred relationship. Could you imagine what this series could have been if Wu Ting Fong, Kam Qing, Jiu Sin and the rest of the women were brushed aside instead of being given so much screen time?
The Character Of Lin Jun/Lou Oi
I wanted to watch this series in part because I was told Kong Wah will play a despicable fella, bad to the bone they all said. All I could see is one guy who loves to stare at people, perfectly harmless in fact. The problem is because Lou Oi was out of focus.
Too much time was spent on Ting Fong and Lin Jun or Lin Jun with everybody else, that by the time he became Lou Oi, the impact was all gone. To show how ruthless he was, they show to us how he sacrificed Ting Fong. But then Ting Fong told him she never loved him and never will, and since a man would have no love to choose between love and ambition, what is a man like him to do? Retire? No way! Love could have stopped his ambition but no love, go for ambition. So Ting Fong was sacrificed in not so dramatic fashion.
Now imagine if this was the other way around. They show how Lin Jin professed to love Ting Fong (which is what they showed in this series) and just imagine that Ting Fong loved him just as much, believing him, trusting him, but nonetheless, he still sacrificed a good woman that he loved and she loved him too for ambition. Would he be more ruthless? And later show him how he seduced Chu Gei and used Chu Gei, instead of trying to make him into a eunuch, willing to usurp throne for his son, blah blah blah. In the end, we have a half baked villain. In fact, Lui But Wai was more pitiful than menacing, Jiu Muk more stupid than evil and Lou Oi was more dumb than threatening. The plot about usurping the throne came much too late and in too familiar a fashion. You see...
We have Jiu Poon as the fake Ying Jing, Guess what? Our Lou Oi has an ingenious plan to secure the throne for his son (illegitimate child with Chu Gei), he will...listen to this..he will..reading this?...he will replace the fake Ying Jing with ANOTHER FAKE YING JING! Wow! What a plan don't you think? And he trained his fake fake Ying Jing so well he didn't even recognise that his fake fake Ying Jing was already replaced with the fake Ying Jing! Confused? No way!
How many times can you use the same trick? BORING! TVB really is running out of ideas I tell you. Why can't Lou Oi just be ruthless plain and simple? Why must he be Lin Jun? That is not a past to me, that is like a half baked attempt in creating a past for Lou Oi.
The Love Stories
If I am supposed to feel extreme joy that they got together at last or cry that they didn't, well I didn't. In fact I was numb because love stories in this series deviated the real story from the plot of this series. The more they showed Ting Fong or Jiu Sin, the more annoyed I was.
I am sure many Jess fans love to see Ting Fong. In fact some even wrote that without Jess the show is a bore. I feel Ting Fong is a bore element. Because every time they show Ting Fong, there is no connection whatsoever with the crisis happening in Chun and 6 other states. And our Sin Yau got robbed of her limelight, because she was like her sidekick all the time. We see Ting Fong raped...we see her cry, we see her laugh, we see her jump, we see her being stubborn, we see her dance, we see her kill, we see her avoid Siu Lung, we see her being stabbed, poisoned, taken hostage, selflessly tried to stop being a burden of Siu Lung....WHAT IS THE POINT? WHERE IS THE RELEVANCE? Why don't they just make a series about Wu Ting Fong then?! Why waste my time, tempting me with a series about politics and mind games and then give me this woman? Though her screen time is few, but they were all inappropriate. I didn't want to see her love story with Siu Lung, which was not touching anyway, because in my opinion, Siu Lung didn't love her, not as much as she thought he loved her. More on this below. The same could be said about the story of Jiu Sin which took up too much screen time, as well as the character of Lui Leung Yung.
Now we have the tragic love story in Chu Gei and Lou Oi. And I was thinking when did Lou Oi started loving Chu Gei and would Chu Gei die if she didn't have a man at all? Take this equation..
shallow woman + useless man = ?
Take a guess? A dud of a love story, neither touching or believable. Frankly when Lou Oi, Chu Gei and baby died which would be the highlight of this series, I wasn't feeling particularly sad. Pitiful baby but if I had been Ying Jing, I would have done the same thing. Because Lou Oi made his intentions very clear before that scene; he wanted to put his infant son on the Chun throne. As Ying Jing what would you have done? Why is it that they always show that it is perfectly alright to get killed by your enemies but when you start being ruthless and kill the very same enemy who wanted you dead, everybody would shake their heads, disagreeing with your actions? Reminded me of Secret Battle Of The Majesties. I absolutely agree with Ying Jing's action, because that baby is a threat and once you're in high power, you must kill to remain in high power not because you chose to but because you had to. Great scene but that love story part, oh PUH-LEASEEEEE....
And then we have Siu Lung and his two wives. I always feel they should have shown Ting Fong madly in love with Lin Jun who used her and she later changed her mind and fell for Siu Lung who had all along loved her and he would go all out to convince her of that. Wouldn't that be different and a bit more romantic? But Siu Lung had his eyes on Kam Qing for one reason only; she looked like Chun Qing, the modern GF. I felt both women got a bad deal. Sure the guy will treat them well, but in the end, Siu Lung loved Chun Qing and thus he loved Kam Qing and Ting Fong is just there, like a back up. I think he felt guilty about Ting Fong, not really in love. As for Kam Qing, he loved her face. Isn't that a pity? You see, no where in this series do they show Siu Lung loving Kam Qing because she was smart, kind, giving, intelligent, soft spoken, ladylike...no, our man sees none of such finer qualities in Kam Qing, he saw only HER FACE. What a jerk! Both women got a bad deal.
And what about Lui Leung Yung and that sworn brother of Siu Lung? Boring!!
No chemistry you know! I mean the only possible chemistry I see is between the wood and Louis. Automaton and Louis? Nope though they were rumoured to be lovers. Jess and Louis? Seen them together too often, so boring but the chemistry is there, the playfulness is there, but love? Nope. You know why I say Louis had more chemistry with the wood than with automaton? Michelle Saram always play the one who is madly in love with Louis but Louis treats her like sister. IN ACTUAL FACT, watch ATE II. Look at how Louis' eyes shine, twinkle when he sees Michelle Saram. He still had that twinkle in his eyes in this series whenever he was in a scene with Michelle Saram, though lesser and much suppressed. Michelle? Complete wood.
And what about a nice girl like Sin Yau? No man! I feel they should have killed off Ting Fong or Kam Qing and let Siu Lung marry Sin Yau. I feel she is a better woman than all of them, Jiu Sin included, who was more like burden than a blessing.
The Kung Fu World
There is a Kung Fu world apparently, like the holder of the Mak jade. If that is supposed to be a great kung fu, I didn't see it. I didn't expect flying or walking on water but I feel they should have done away with that Mak jade story because it was pretty useless and very distracting. In the end there is no relevance and used only to show the hypocrisy of one man that is Chou Chau Dou, who didn't get much screen time anyway and his presence is nothing more than a waste of time, space and energy to watch. Irrelevant stuff.
The Other Warring States
Warring states my foot! More like peaceful time. I am sure one state is always planning to usurp the other 6, as mentioned by Kam Qing but do we see that? NOPE! I mean after a while, the political stuff are so bloody shallow! Always so limited within in one or two states, you just don't feel the threat at all or even the urgency! NONE!
They come, they speak, they run, they kill and then they disappear. Like Tou Fong. Like Hon Fei. Like Lei Muk, Lung Yeung Gwan, Sung Ling Gwan, Madam Ping Yuen, etc etc etc. And what happened to Ting Fong's brother? He was not there in the last scene where they ran away. Perhaps killed in episodes I missed?
The Way They Ate Their Food
I did some research and chopsticks was already invented by then. So why were they using their hands to eat? And mind you, the way they eat, so unconvincing. One look you know they had never eaten with their hands. You know, maybe the novel might have included a reason for eating with their hands. Mr Hon will be the one who introduces chop sticks, forks and spoons in the Chun Dynasty!
Good stuff and bad. Good because lovely costumes, especially Jess' costume, bad because some were over dressed. Like Jess. She looked like a Red Indian, very imaginative dressing BUT she dressed more grand than the princess who was dressed like a palace maid, even when she was a Princess! And her hair....oh please somebody please sack that hair designer for Jiu Sin's hairdo!!
The Items He Brought To The Past
The scientist has stressed to Siu Lung that he can't change history and that he was there as an observer. Good point. Siu Lung was dressed in olden days fashion, his hair was intertwined with long wigs to give him the authentic feel of the ancient people. He was dressed in Chun armour which would be useful to him when he travels back in time for a few moments to capture the events of Shih Huang Ti being crowned Emperor of Chun. He even got a time machine device which would be the satellite to send him back to the present time, all covered in ancient art as well as camouflaged as an ancient item. In there he will find two pills (antibiotics) just in case.
Of course then we have something silly, like a camera for him to capture events and a gun loaded with bullets, for his safety it seems. Hon Siu Lung wore a t-shirt beneath his layers of ancient clothings as well as a bermuda pants if I am not mistaken. For all the attention given to his outer appearance and all the warnings about never changing history, I do wonder, what purpose would the gun, camera, t-shirt, chocolates and bermuda pants serve other than to radically alter the course of history? Suspend your logic at this moment, I mean since if we could buy the fact he could travel back in time, why not these few discrepancies you may ask? True but why then remind Siu Lung never to change history when you have given him a gun which one would reasonably expect that Siu Lung would use it in dire situations? What? Give him a gun and don't use it?
The Surroundings In The Past
Perfect. That is one of the few compliments I could give TVB is the many elaborate sets and perfect settings for this series, from small villages to the opulent palaces, all filmed in China as well as lots and lots and lots of people. In all previous TVB productions, a King is accompanied by 2 maids or so. Not in here. You will find at least 10-20 maids for the King, many more for the battle scenes, which I guess is the great thing about this series. Never before had I seen so many people in a TVB production.
Other nitty gritty stuff
The themesong was horrible, even with Jacky Cheung sung the sing it would still be horrible!
The background score was good though, especially the one at the beginning, reminded me of some Irish music or some mythical music, very The Lords Of The Rings if you know what I mean.
The beginning scene of the science lab.....imagination over drive! Please somebody sack the set designer of that science lab!
Don't expect explanation as to how Siu Lung got back. We assume he just could. Anyway, I have a theory of how he was sent back in time. Because of Star Trek, perhaps there was a time anomaly and using a tear in the time properties of space, Siu Lung's DNA was broken apart like in a Star Trek "beam me up Scotty", and went he went back in time his DNA which would have been mapped out in the first place would be reconstructed and pieced back together and emerging as one complete human being. Whether Siu Lung was conscious during this difficult process is hard to tell since TVB did not explain this. Ok, I went overboard with my theory, I admit. So let's get back to English.
Anyway, expect loads of shit (the real thing) and rapes. Can't they think of another fate far worse for women than rape and gang rape? Ok, maybe it's a fate far worst than death for olden times women and even now. BUT I just hate how they show Ting Fong try to evade Siu Lung, always saying she is not good enough for him how she would say hurtful things that any less thick faced man would have just abandoned her...what a hypocrite because I mean you love him, forget the past and move on! Nooooo...must be likeFlying Fox On Snowy Mountain, only this time Siu Lung didn't do what Wu Fei did by blasting himself! BORING!
Most Favourite Character(s)
Sin Yau the assassin, because amongst all the female characters, she was the most colourful and she was actually a very honourable character that should have been the one who got Hon Siu Lung and not Kam Qing who did nothing for Siu Lung, except for looking like his ex-GF. In fact I feel though Sin Yau may be ruthless, I feel she is more human than everybody else. The ending was sad when she confessed her love and yet Siu Lung thought she was joking. But she is a strong woman and I like her ending though I hoped she would have got the man. I really like this character who should have been given more things to do than to babysit Ting Fong.
Lung Yeung Gwan. What an honourable character that deserves more screen time since Koi Ming Fai was excellent in here.
Tou Fong was rather cute in his reaction to the lingo uttered by Siu Lung. My favourite character because he was such an innocent and yet strong character, wishing he had more scene but alas, disappeared half way into the series.
Most Pitiful Character(s)
Definitely Jiu Sin, who was murdered. She was such a nice young girl, however much I hated Michelle Saram.
Definitely Jiu Nga who was also a very honourable character. She was gang raped and she committed suicide because she could not face her son and Siu Lung. Very pitiful character.
Most "Not There" Character
I wonder what's Kam Qing doing in this series other than looking like Chun Qing? Except one piece of advice for Ying Jing? She had nothing much to do except to walk left, walk right, smile or cry.
Least Favourite Character(s)
Lou Oi/Lin Jun for being such a failure at everything he does.
Chu Gei. Feel like slapping her.
The real Lou Oi. Hated his "ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha" as well as his hair. Why don't he just comb his hair for once?
Sung Ling Gwan. All bark but no bite.
Wu Ting Fong for one reason and one reason only; she is so bloody stubborn. Pitiful, raped and all but you know she brought it onto herself. She knew the real Lin Jun and yet she still trusted him. Just because one guy refuses her love, she ran away without much thought for her dad. In fact none at all. Always running after Siu Lung and yet afraid to see him, she is so bloody wishy-washy and such a bland character to watch. Quite an annoyance to see her. Though she is still a nice girl, she gives me an impression that she is naive, romantic at heart though a tomboy and she is utterly misguided by her own senses. Boring.
Most Hated Character
Jiu Muk, who was disgusting as well as a jerk. Totally deserves his end.
Most Exciting Character(s) To Watch
Without a doubt, Ying Jing aka Jiu Poon but also very disappointing as well as explained above.
Most Unbelievable Character
Never once had Hon Siu Lung questioned why he was in the past. I mean he did questioned himself, he was sometimes afraid but he took everything too lightly that I was so surprised he was just not stressed at all. He was worried but not much; he was afraid but not much. What a fearless man but so unreal! I don't know, Hon Siu Lung reminded me of a very unemotional man, perfect cop I guess. The only time he was frantic was when it came to women.
The Best Scenes
Sceneries, palaces and lots and lots of people scenes.
Sin Yau's interaction with Siu Lung.
Siu Lung's interaction with his enemies as well as Jiu Poon and Jiu Nga.
When Jiu Sin died. Not because it was such a good scene but because there ends the torture of watching Michelle Saram trying "not very hard" to act. Alas, I still had to endure Sonija Kwok and many weak performances by veterans.
Jiu Poon/Ying Jing scenes, though it could have been much better.
Tou Fong scenes with Wu Ying Yuen and Siu Lung.
Battle scenes. Very well done and very big budget feel.
The ending for Lou Oi and Ju Gei scene and the cruelties of Ying Jing.
Every time Lei Si appears.
Lui But Wai, sometimes.
Every time Lung Yeung Gwan appears.
The scene where Wu Ying Yuen suggests to Siu Lung to disguise as Dung Hong, and Wu said that Tou Fong was a master of make up, he could disguise anybody and Siu Lung looked at him with disbelief. One hat, one scarf and a false moustache later, Siu Lung remarked "Master of disguise eh? And yet, nobody could recognise Siu Lung, not even Siu Sin and Siu Lung remarked the ancient people were really naive and stupid. It was a very funny scene because Tou Fong acted like he really knew how to disguise Siu Lung and Louis Koo's reaction was priceless. He didn't know whether to laugh or..laugh!
The first few scenes where Siu Lung came back into the past, especially when he was working for money at a steel shop, and he narrated the rather "gay" workers there, often touching him and in the end stripping his clothes and hugging him. Very funny and only Louis Koo could pull off that scene looking "used", and in disbelief of what was happening and yet almost laughing.
The Worst Scenes
The camera focusing on Wong Hei in a guest starring role. I mean puh-leasseeee. Almost made the series into a joke. Charmaine Sheh did the guest starring role better in Love Is Beautiful.
First few episodes about the Wo Si jade. Confusing as hell and served no purpose at all except to introduce a few characters pivotal to this series.
Every time the story focuses on Ting Fong & all other women that lusts after Siu Lung. Boring stuff.
Every time Ting Fong, Siu Sin and Kam Qing appears. Give me deaths!! I don't want love stories!!
Chu Gei-Lou Oi scenes. Boring.
Lui Leung Yung...fashion designer? What about a tailor? Boring boring boring.
Sometimes Lui But Wai.
The scene where an arrow struck Siu Lung. He was able to walk around perfectly find and yet in an earlier scene, Siu Sin was struck by an arrow and needed antibiotics to cure the fever. Our hero didn't need that. I know he is a man and therefore stronger BUT rather inconsistent don't you think?
The Stupidest Scene
The ending, specifically the one about Siu Lung's son.
The Ultimate Classic Scene
Not because it was so well done or anything though Wong Wai was very good but it was the accuracy and the impact of Wu Ying Yuen's statement when he agreed to the plan of Jiu Poon becoming Ying Jing. Tearfully he remarked;
"I am saddened as a citizen of Chun to realise that when the imposter takes over the reign of Chun, Chun state will end [and he was one of those who brought about the end of Chun]."
Though Jiu Poon will reign as Ying Jing from the state of Chun not as Jiu Poon from the state of Jiu, the one remark by Wu clearly illustrates the importance of a blood lineage. Rather sad and a classic scene for the impact of Siu Lung's actions.
The Best Episode
Between 39th episode and 40th episode, I would choose....BOTH! Don't miss Tape 40 I tell you. The palace scene would leave you breathless, for once really that much of people. And that final scene of Shih Huang Ti at the top of the coronation platform, what a magnificent scene, with sweeping camera. In fact, the last episode had a different feel to it. Different director perhaps? Because it had more sweeping camera work, it had more cinematography, like when Siu Lung left the empty palace (a beautiful one, the same one in Gong Li movie about Shih Huang Ti some years back) with Ying Jing looking on and we see Siu Lung's back facing us and he closes the door and the sunlight was slowly dimming. Beautiful scene. What about the one where Lui But Wai walked up to announce that Ying Jing was dead and that palace was so big, the actors had to shout and you could hear echo! Wonderful stuff! But the best of course had to be the acting in this episode and how the baby dropped from high above, how Ying Jing smothered the baby to death, cruel stuff and I loved it!
Siu Lung couldn't understand why Ying Jing is like dead and he is still around. His sworn brother who didn't quite understand Siu Lung when he said something about him being from the 21st century and all suggested perhaps there is something more to be done; that this dead Ying Jing may not be the reason why Siu Lung is still very much in existence. Good answer I would say because in the end we knew that Siu Lung created a new Ying Jing by using Jiu Poon, a part of the "history" we never knew because of the erasing of Siu Lung's name from history books.
Miscast but this series showcase some worst acting and some inadequate acting as well as some surprisingly good ones.
The Best Performances
Louis Koo. Though by tape 40 I kinda disliked his character for being so shallow (I mean leaving Ying Jing to run after Ting Fong who was kidnapped by Lou Oi, ok, that was love but still, can't blame Ying Jing for despising Siu Lung), but I thought he gave a fine performance. He was funny to the point of hilarious in some scenes, effective when in drama and quite cool, as usual. He gave Siu Lung his believable street smart attitude though sometimes that character's achievements were like over the top. I like his performance towards the end. You know his Siu Lung is selfish in the beginning but when he looked at Ying Jing, you could see regret, like he blamed himself. I feel Louis Koo did very well in this role and deservedly won that award at TVB B-Day bash, however much the series stinks. Charming as well.
Joyce Tang was really very effective as Sin Yau and gave one of her best performances in months, as the cold but yet kind hearted and loyal Sin Yau. She was rather sulky at first but then you could see her loosening up, giving much depth to Sin Yau. My only complaint is she is far too pretty and not very convincing when she was supposedly disguised as a man. I was surprised when Louis was surprised when he saw her naked. I thought everybody knew she was a woman all along!
All other veterans not named as worst, like Wong Wai (very good as the almost too regal Wu Ying Yuen), Jimmy Au (very cute and very effective as the loyal and nice Tou Fong), Lei Chi Hung (the best when he saw Jiu Poon as Ying Jing), Chan Kwok Bong (always good in all his performances), Kwok Fung (tends to overact a bit but still fine), Tsang Wai Kuen (much too young to be Sung Ling Gwan but quite ok), Sherming Yew (not great but effective as the pointless Lui Lung Yeung), Yu Tzi Ming (always great but much too alike as his character in Gods of Honour, only less beard), Kwok Jing Hung (boring actor but still effective), Shuet Lei (very effective)....well almost everybody unless named elsewhere.
The Most Inadequate Performances aka Bad Performances
Kong Wah. He is not improving but he is de-proving. Maybe he had a bad character to start with but he's not even scary in this series. He was more like a supermodel with an attitude. He walks like he is to concerned about doing the catwalk. He seems more concerned about whatever he was concerned about than getting into the skin of his character. I would have voted for him as the worst but well, w ehave two really bad ones but this guy is supposed to be a veteran! I miss his great performance in Secret Battle Of The Majesties..I want him as that BAD but with a reason but here, he was horrible.
Jessica Hester Hsuan because she was badly cast as Wu Ting Fong. Her worst scene was when after she was raped, she confronted Kong Wah's Lin Jun. I don't see the anguish, I just see plain old stubborn Wu Ting Fong. And she did her dancing scene so badly I just thought well....pointless scenes. Bland and boring.
Yew Ying Ying as explained above.
The Worst Performances
Wood. & Automaton.
Ok ok, wooden Michelle Saram and toneless Sonija Kwok, as explained above.
Between the two, Michelle Saram.
The Most Excellent Performance(s)
Koi Ming Fai was simply excellent as Sung Ling Gwan. I still can't believe she could be so convincing as a man! Excellent performance! The moment she appeared and uttered her first line with such authority, all others must walk aside and hide in shame!
I wanted to put his name in Best Performances as I thought he's a newbie but after watching Episode 39 and 40, I think his name deserves to be here. Rarely do I see a new actor with such potential and such screen presence that I will notice him at first glance. Clearly an actor with a bright future and he has an attitude to match his potential. Raymond Lam Fung may be a bit shaky when he first appeared because you could see there was some bad blood between Louis and him, they just took some time to be more cozy with each other. He gave his Ying Jing a new interpretation, borderline mad (as in insane) and yet reasonably so. Ying Jing would be one character for anyone to play and only the best could do so convincingly. He certainly possessed the looks of a young Ying Jing and when at the final scene he stood dressed fully as Shih Huang Ti with that infamous beard, he looked like the part. His voice at the beginning was rather unsure, young and he talked with that perpetual "O" shape of a mouth, but later into the episodes when he fully became Ying Jing, you could see a wonderful transformation. He looks at people with such menace, the way he talked was much more stable, much more mature, more whisper and yet very threatening and scary, you know he is capable of evil, he is capable of murdering a baby. Raymond Lam Fung gave his Ying Jing such convincing qualities and I thought he was the star that shone the brightest in here. I feel if TVB were to make a series fully on Shih Huang Ti, he should reprise his role but he must be mush older, because he needs the experience though he has the talent. I absolutely enjoyed his performance, however little screen time allocated to his character or however bad the story was written, he did them with much skill and maturity beyond his experience as an actor. This is one actor I'll look out for in future.
The sets look expensive, the locations beautiful, the war scenes breathtaking and the costumes lovely...but for all the budget allocated to this series, I feel this series in the end is cheap because it didn't achieve much of its objective. I stopped watching at Tape 14, 3 weeks later I watched Tape 19 & 20. I admit the Episode Summaries spoilt things for me a bit but frankly, they didn't revealed much. I watch the 2 tapes just to see the ending about Ying Jing and Hon Siu Lung.
Truth be told, I was utterly disappointed with this series. I have no doubt Louis will have more fans, Jess' fans will be pissed with her screen time (too little for them, too much for me) but will be pleased with the ending whilst Sonija's fans will be pleased since she has two roles and all. I feel, if you want to watch this series, watch it for the sceneries and palaces, the many many many people, watch it for Louis and Raymond Lam. I shall rank this same as Gods Of Honour; watchable but for all the money spent on it, it looks and feels tired and very aimless. Enjoyable at times but not good enough to be a classic and certainly not thought provoking enough.
In the end, my ultimate recommendation, from someone who has watched 80% of the episodes, AVOID THIS SERIES when your expectations is high. Go for something else and then come back to this series when you have absolutely nothing to watch and have no expectation at all.
If I Were The Scriptwriter, I would....
Stop writing like an automaton, and start being more imaginative. Change the characterization of some characters like Ting Fong, Chu Gei and Lin Jun and make the series more consistent in its focus. Kill the love stories and go all out about domination and power hungry people but once in a while mention a bit on love instead of 60% love Love LOVE!
If I Were The Casting Director I would Cast ?? As ??
Never had some actresses been wrongly cast since Sarah Au in Crimson Sabre until this series came along. If these few people were considered for some roles, this series could have been better.
Wu Ting Fong
I know what I am about to say will anger a lot of Jess' fans but really, I think whatever I have said above would have had Jess' fans fuming. But look at it this way. Many fans complained they don't see her much in this series though she had top billing. And frankly if I were a fan of Jess I would feel shortchanged at TVB's treatment of my favourite actress; always top billing but had little screen time so in a way Jess was like used only to attract fans to rent this series and many others. So why not give the role to some other actresses?
I know my choice would come under fire since I have always thought of her as a bad actress, though she had improved much and became an OK actress. I know many hated her but frankly, I feel she suits the role, stubborn and yet pretty. Truth be told Jess is very photogenic but she is dark and therefore a big no-no in one major rule in being a Chinese ancient beauty; one must be fair however ridiculous that proposition may be. Jess had neither the grace nor ancient beauty. I have always suspected my choice actress of this role as someone not so nice and friendly and yet she has the capacity to act as a stubborn girl who can look very worn out after much happenings. Acting wise, Jess will win hands down but I do think this choice actress of mine will give a new perspective to the character of Ting Fong instead of Jess' usual bland bland bland interpretation. And have you guessed who?
If she is unavailable, my second choice would be Gigi Lai Chi. I kept seeing her image from HSDS 2000 whenever I saw Ting Fong on the screen.
If this was made in Taiwan, my first and only choice would be Yue Ling. I don't care if she is too old for this role.
What a bad casting decision. Except for looking sulky, Yew Ying Ying was utterly wrong for this role. She doesn't even look like a beauty more so a famed beauty. She was supposed to be cold with Jiu Muk and gang but warm with Lui But Wai and Lou Oi. She was supposed to have a teenage son, though we were never told how old is Ying Jing. She was supposed to be beautiful. Period. Why on Earth the casting director had never thought of one actress who was born for this role, well at least in the year 2001? She is beautiful, yet arrogant, look mature and could be a mother of Ying Jing, could be warm and yet wary, cold and aloof and yet could be loving, intelligent and had grace with sophistication and she could act better, and she doesn't speak like she has a speech problem (I always thought Yew Ying Ying's problem is, frankly and no offense to the actress, she speaks like she is some sort of a "slow" person, as in not very intelligent and alert). Guess who already?
Melissa Ng Mei Hang. And she looks good with Kong Wah as well. If she is unavailable, Louisa So will be my second choice.
If this was made in Taiwan, I would have wished to see Xiao Qiang in this role. It will be interesting to see how she would interpret Chu Gei.
Can someone please remove Sonija Kwok and give me someone else, anybody at all? Anybody who could act and is prettier than her? Who you may ask that embodies intelligence, sophistication and great beauty?
I had Melissa Ng in mind but she looks too mature for Louis Koo. If Ruby could speak better Cantonese, I won't mind seeing her as someone like Xia Zhi Wei again, if she put on 20 pounds or so for this role. In HK, I can't think of anybody concrete since most are too old. But I suspect Charmaine Sheh would do well as the gentle Kam Qing and she is pretty in ancient costumes.
If this was in Taiwan/China, my choice would be Shui Ling. She is pretty, she has a face with character, she could act better and she has the capacity to be sophisticated.
If this was in Singapore, no doubt I want to see Fann Wong in this role.
Oh someone please remove Michelle Saram from the acting world. Her role could be easily acted by anybody else who could embody the innocence of Jiu Sin, and she must be pretty. Since Jiu Sin has a small but pivotal role as the annoying one (well, can't stand Michelle Saram but the correct term should be the Pitiful One), the actress who acts as Jiu Sin must be cute, gentle looking and likeable. My first choice was Charmaine Sheh and yet I thought she was better off as Kam Qing. If Myolie Wu had been prettier I would say Myolie Wu but she is not pretty enough, though she is young enough. I wonder who else? My first choice would be hiring an outside help; maybe Noel Leung Siu Bing. I wonder where is she?
If this was in Taiwan, my vote would be on Huang Yi. Very gentle looking and pretty as well.
Though I like Joyce Tang but she didn't look like a man to me. I always thought she was a woman until Siu Lung was shocked that she whom he thought was a he was actually a she. And so the one person who could fit this role to the tee as the tough Sin Yau and yet bring out the feminine side of Sin Yau as well as her gentleness, would be my first and only choice for this role;
Mariane Chan Miu Ying.
There was an interview K-100 recently and Jess confessed she did not like wearing ancient costumes, though she looked pretty she said. She preferred jeans and t-shirt. She wouldn't want to go back to Chun time. Truth be told, the costume during Chun period is rather simple, though clumsy and heady because of the layer of clothings.
Joyce Tang found speaking the ancient tongue very challenging and funny, and many others did,
When Louis was asked who was his favourite female co-star where I was expecting Michelle Saram for an answer, he surprisingly named Koi Ming Fai. He said at his house, his parents since he was young listened only to Chinese opera and from an early age he admired Koi Ming Fai who plays the role of a man, Lung Yeung Gwan (she was and still is a respectable figure in Chinese opera world, though not extremely famous as one) and felt honoured working with her.
A bit on Hon Yu, supposedly Hon Siu Lung's son. Taken from 100 Chinese Emperors.
" Xiang Yu (Hon Yu) [232-202BC] originally named Xiang Ji was from Xiaxiang.He had been a leader of the rebellion forces and styled himself Overlord Of Western Chu after leading his troop into Xianyang (Hamyeung), capital of Qin.
As a child, he lived with his uncle Xiang Liang, who taught him the art of war.One day when Shih Huang Ti was passing Kuaiji, Xiang Yu pointed at him and declared "I will replace him".
In July 209BC, his uncle joined the uprising and led and army of 8000 soldiers to cross the rover and marched westward. Many rebellion armies including Liu Bang (Lau Bong, founder of Han Dynasty who was a butcher by profession) came to join Xiang Liang. After Xiang Liang was killed in battle, the King appointed Xiang Yu senior general. After 9 fierce battles, he routed the Qin army at Julu and captured its commander Wang Li. Seeing that Qing Dynasty was hopeless, a senior Qing general Zhang Han surrendered to Xiang Yu 200,000 soldiers (at this point, Xiang Yu had already built his name as a hero and many respected him but he made the mistake and killed his impeccable reputation when he..). However, he had all 200,000 soldiers surrendered to him killed at Xin'an (if I am not mistaken, he buried them alive in a mass grave).
He then advanced westward to victory and launched an expedition against Liu Bang when he heard Liu Bang captured Xianyang. Following the strategy of his chief adviser Zhang Liang, Liu Bang personally attended a banquet by way of making an apology to Xiang Yu and succeeded in dissuading Xiang Yu from attacking him.
Few days later, Xiang Yu led his troops into Xianyang, killing and burning along the way, even putting to death the last Qin monarch Ziying who had already surrendered. Then he sent an envoy to his King requesting ti be made King of Guanzhong but was refused. He then created 18 vassal kings in the capacity of Overlord of the Western Chu and had his King murdered.
The unfair treatment by Xiang Yu caused strong resentment amongst good generals and lords. Liu Bang who was by then King of Hanzhong too advantage of this and began a war with Xiang Yu, in a 4 year long war.
In 202BC, with only 28 followers left after being utterly defeated by Liu Bang, he fought till the end and thereafter committed suicide. He was only 30 years old.
Liu Bang went on to form the powerful (Western) Han Dynasty and died at the age of 61 in years 195BC."
There is a Chinese opera which romanticised the legend of Hon Yu, which was made into a movie starring Rosamund Kwan, Gong Li and Sam Lui Leung Wai. The movie was quite ok but didn't quite fit the description of Hon Yu as written above. In the movie and in the opera, Hon Yu was depicted as a hero whilst Lau Bong a snake who was lucky to have married a cunning wife and a smart advisor. Hon Yu in that movie had bad luck with his PR manager, when he was badly advised to kill all 200,000 soldiers. He would die for his GF but he had ambition as well. He and Lau Bong had an agreement that Hon Yu would be the one to occupy Xianyang, irregardless who reaches there first because Hon Yu was the more famous between the two and more righteous it seems. But when Lau Bong occupied the land and Hon Yu almost killed Lau Bong if not for Lau Bong's sly way of toning down the urgent situation. You know, nothing like the description above! Anyway, he died at the age of 30. Achieved so much in such a short life!
By the way, I was told, remember those Chinese checkers, with tigers and panthers and rats and elephants and all that? Remember that river in between the two sides of the board? It is called Chor Ho Hon Gai meaning the river dividing Chor and Han, which refers to the war between Hon Yu of Chor and Lau Bong of Han. Cool!
There never was a Hon Siu Lung. Ying Jing was never a Jiu Poon though many speculated Ying Jing was Lui But Wai's son though I would say not true at all. And Hon Siu Lung never gave birth to Hon Yu. Pure fantasy and ego trip for Mr Hon!