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

Written by Funn Lim

"Overall a very enjoyable and thought provoking series..."


This is an extremely long analysis of this series. Spoilers alert! Spoilers alert! Some pictures are thumbnails which are the ones with the black border.

Deciphering The Title
The English title caught my attention. I do not know why but I feel Doomed To Oblivion is one of the best title I have heard in years and one of the easiest to poke fun at.


Cast - Character
Wong He - Cheng Pan Kiu
Gigi Lai - Wong Yat Cheh
Mak Bau - Wong San
Mok Kar Yiu - Kam Lung
Tsang Wai Kuen - Yan Chan/Emperor Ying Zheng
Raymond Tso - Wang Lik/Emperor Qian Lung
Chun Pui - Emperor Kang Xi
Nnadia Chan - Chui Chung Heung
Myolie Wu - Yew Ng Mui
Loh Hoi Pang - Mr Cheng
Gilbert Lam - Cheung Nam Sa
Mark Kwok - Chow Si Jun
Ngo Ka Nin - Lok Ping
?? - Wan Tai, 14th Duke
?? - Yat Cheh's mom
Liu Kai Chi - ??

Note : Does anybody know the name of Yat Cheh's mom, the character and the actress? The guy who played 14th Duke? Or the character played by Liu Kai Chi? Email me.

About the ups and downs, highs and lows, glorious and not so glorious life of celebrated painter during the Qing Dynasty, Cheng Pan Kiu, expert in drawing bamboos and famous for his quote (and I assume such quote was actually uttered by him), Ignorance Is Bliss.

The Plot
Towards the end of Kang Xi's rule, there lived an ambitious and idealistic painter named Cheng Pan Kiu who is fascinated with bamboos. Such fascination was shared by Emperor Kang Xi, who was on a personal mission to find the painting he will want to be buried with. When Pan Kiu, against the wishes of his loving but strict father (who wanted Pan Kiu to be a teacher and take over the village's school) and moved to Yang Zhou to pursue his dream to become a successful painter. Once in Yang Zhou he met with many colourful characters, at times more colourful than that bland Pan Kiu who thought him a thing or two about life, love and bittersweet success. One of them was a sleazy art dealer named Wong San who proved to be a very loyal friend though ever as sleazy. He also met another talented painter who was more drunk of despair than lucid because of success named Kam Lung who was a very nice guy and a very loyal friend of Wong San. All 3 became very good friends and both Kam Lung and Wong San helped Pan Kiu, though reluctantly when Pan Kiu was on a mission to save a pretty young girl named Wong Yat Cheh whom Pan Kiu met disguised as a man on a boat and who was the first to buy his painting. Wong Yat Cheh was actually from a distinguished and rich family but she lost all her memory when she was knocked out cold and the sold to a local prostitution den. Pan Kiu went all out to find $1000 even to the extent of making Kam Lung pretend he was dead (so that the prices of his paintings will go sky-high). In the end Yat Cheh was saved, but Wong San lost his business and Kam Lung lost his reputation and they were branded a cheat, liar and fraud. But Pan Kiu didn't care as long as Yat Cheh was saved and little by little Yat Cheh fell madly in love with Pan Kiu whom she saw as noble and giving. One day Chui Chun Heung, who has been selling goldfish dumplings by the road waiting for Yat Cheh to show up reunited with Yat Cheh and slowly Yat Cheh was reminded she had a fierce mother and Chun Heung was her maid. When Yat Cheh's mother showed up and demanded for Yat Cheh to return to her, Yat Cheh was reluctant but had to. And her mother objected strongly to the relationship between Yat Cheh and Pan Kiu whom she viewed as poor, and unsuccessful, compared to Chow who was rich, handsome and successful. And then a famous royal painter, Cheung Nam Sa came knocking at Pan Kiu's door and even gave him advice to draw the painting he so imagined, Pan Kiu was seriously in awe with Cheung Nam Sa. But Cheung Nam Sa took credit for drawing a bamboo painting which Pan Kiu drew and accidentally left it with the pile to be given to Kang Xi as a gift. Quickly Nam Sa took Pan Kiu as his student and pushed Pan Kiu to draw more and more and yet giving nothing in return to Pan Kiu except lies that the king disliked his painting. One day the King confronted Nam Sa and forced Nam Sa to draw a painting he could not draw, Nam Sa staged an accident and deliberately fractured his hand. He was safe for a while but when Kang Xi came looking for Pan Kiu, Nam Sa knew his days was numbered. So he sent men to kill Pan Kiu, but Pan Kiu was saved by the King's men and personally met the King. Nam Sa was confronted and after an emotional outpour of sadness, jealousy and despair on the part of Nam Sa, and after Pan Kiu begging the king to spare his sifu's life, Nam Sa was imprisoned, indefinitely but at least not beheaded. At the meantime Pan Kiu formed an intimate (not sexually but spiritually) relationship with the King(and thus pronouncing Pan Kiu as the IT painter), Pan Kiu was delighted. In fact the king promised to appoint him as the royal painter and they even did a duet in painting together. But the King had to leave suddenly, taking the unfinished painting with him and as Pan Kiu boasted the fact that he was going to be a royal painter and with the King's letter in hand, he went and proposed to Yat Cheh and Mrs Wong immediately agreed. On the day of the wedding, everything went smoothly until the next morning Pan Kiu realised he had married and slept with Chun Heung, not Yat Cheh. Crying of injustice and filled with anger, he again and again pushed the demure Chun Heong aside and sought out Mrs Wong who told him she did what she did because the King died (of mysterious causes). Pan Kiu was saddened and yet more mad. Complained to the Magistrate and Yat Cheh appeared, claiming he was poor and so she left him and went home to marry Chow, although reluctantly. At the meantime Pan Kiu still treated Chun Heong like crap until one day they went home to the village he began to see the beauty of Chun Heong and slowly began to like her.

Years passed, both still childless but friendlier and Pan Kiu became a teacher when suddenly Yat Cheh appeared and begged Pan Kiu to duplicate the painting he did with the dead King. Pan Kiu wasvery reluctant as if the new king, Ying Zheng knew anything about duplication, Pan Kiu and his family will be beheaded. But Pan Kiu was still in love with Yat Cheh and he agreed, hiding and painting. Curious as he was, he continued painting until he was about to finish it when Chun Heong appeared and begged Yat Cheh to let him go. She even took the painting and disposed of it when Pan Kiu slapped her and walked away with Yat Cheh. Chun Heong lived in fear that the secret will be out and in despair that she was simply and always will be second to Yat Cheh. In fact he even asked Yat Cheh whether she agreed to elope with him but she reluctantly agreed.

When the painting was finished, Pan Kiu looked at it and discovered to his horror the painting was actually a will, whereby the dead King actually wanted the 14th prince to be the King, not the manipulative and evil 4th prince. Fearing the worst, Pan Kiu took the painting away and consulted Wong San and Kam Lung who both saw the same meaning. Quickly he went in search of Yat Cheh to warn her when suddenly he was knocked out cold and the painting was stolen by Mrs Wong who promptly took it to Chow who showed it beforehand to the King. But the King tricked Chow into replacing the painting with another, and when the day came in the presence of all the ministers to open the paintings and for 14th prince to prove he should be King, the painting was different and Chow was accused of negligence and beheaded. Yat Cheh and family was forced to the outer boundary of the country and Pan Kiu became so distraught that he left home, and became a drunken beggar.

But Chun Heung will not give up on him and together with Wong San and Kam Lung, she went in search of him and yet bumped into a young thief, Ng Mui who just a few moments ago knocked Pan Kiu out cold and stolen his belongings. Feeling guilty and because of Chun Heung's kindness which was showered on Ng Mui, Ng Mui felt indebted to Chun Heong and personally went in search of Pan Kiu, found him and walked him home. Once at hime, Ng Mui left and Pan Kiu hid from Chun Heung, ashamed for what he had done to her and the danger he put the family through but Chun Heung was moved to tears at his return and everything else was forgotten.

A few more years has passed and Pan Kiu was now early 40s and happily teaching whilst he was every bit as loving to Chun Heong. There was a new King, Qian Lung who revived the nation's love for art and poetry and on the urging of his father, Pan Kiu who was now not as ambitious as he was years before reluctantly went to Yang Zhou for one last shot at fame and glory. There he met Wong San, richer than before and Kam Lung, now a celebrated painter. They also met Ng Mui, who was again up to cheating people and was basically the same. But when Chun Heong saw the softer and kinder side of Ng Mui, she took it upon herself to reeducate Ng Mui and give her a home. Pan Kiu was reluctant but agreed with the arrangement and Ng Mui became Chun Heong's sister though at odds with Pan Kiu and his principles.

When news came that the young King was going to visit Yang Zhou, corrupt officials immediately concocted a plan to squeeze more money out of poor ordinary citizens' dried up pockets by proposing to give the King a big stone carved into an ink case. And when that was done, they demanded for taxes to pay for the ink itself and during the time when the stone was paraded around, it fell onto several people who died. All was hushed up and Pan Kiu who was so mad and in a drunken fit, wrote a poem on a public wall chastising the corrupt officials. The officials immediately ordered all scholars and those who knew how to read and write to be arrested, one of them was the King in disguise (whose money and seal was stolen by Ng Mui who mistaken him as giving orders to his men to beat Pan Kiu and steal his painting which was why the King was in Yang Zhou- to look for the painter his grandpa so admired years before). Pan Kiu was advised to run away but he walked back and surrendered. In the same cell with Pan Kiu was the King himself who repeatedly told him he was the King but Pan Kiu took it as a joke. They formed a friendship and the King admired Pan Kiu for his talent and his righteousness. But when one of the official saw the King was in a cell, he became frightened and thought better the King was dead. So he sent some men to so called rescue Pan Kiu and King out but actually went in pursuit of them, to kill them. In the nick of time the same official appeared to save the King. But the King knew the official was the corrupt one and so ordered the official to be sacked and punished. And Pan Kiu was given a position which he rejected and wanted only to become a magistrate in a small town. Once there he tried his best to rid the town of corruption. And the tragedy struck when Chun Heung was dying and she forced Pan Kiu and Ng Mui to marry in front of her. And on the wedding day itself she breathed her last breath. But Pan Kiu wanted Ng Mui to leave, thinking that the show was over. But Ng Mui refused, keeping to her promise to Chun Heung.

2 years passed and still Ng Mui and Pan Kiu are only husband and wife in name only. Every opportunity was taken by Pan Kiu to chase Ng Mui away and each time she came back, sweeter and nicer, determined to change her old ways. And then suddenly one day Pan Kiu saw two strange things;

One he saw a young man Lok Ping (I think this was his name, really can't remember) who drew bamboos exactly like he did and he was impressed. Secondly he saw Yat Cheh now a woman with a different name. She related to him how she escaped and how her mother died in the process. Pan Kiu realised he still loved her and whilst trying to avoid falling more in love with her, he couldn't deny he still want to protect her. Then he was appointed as the Art Ambassador, entrusted to find 5 paintings which he deemed good enough for the King to see. He went about his duty seriously and in the process hurt his friendship with Kam Lung and Wong San whilst denying the talented painter, Lok Ping a place in the finals because he didn't want anything to do with Yat Cheh. As Yat Cheh talked to him, and impliedly indicated she still loved him, he melted and put the young man's painting as a finalist (the young man is Yat Cheh's muse). And then bad things began to happen. All 5 of his paintings one night went missing after he had a big row with Ng Mui. Ng Mui also disappeared and he quickly came to the conclusion she stole the paintings. In actual fact Yat Cheh was the culprit. The King demanded for the return of the paintings and for Ng Mui to explain why she did what she did. Pan Kiu confronted Ng Mui and she denied and she went all out, find her contacts to look for the painting. But Yat Cheh was more devious and in the end Ng Mui was arrested for theft. Pan Kiu who still didn't believe Ng Mui's innocence nevertheless secretly let her out and told her to run far away whilst he intended to go to the King and faced the music. At the nick of time Yat Cheh said she found the paintings and Pan Kiu was saved. Ng Mui couldn't believe it and as she was in hiding, she kept trying to find ways to expose Yat Cheh and she found Mrs Chan, the benefactor of Yat Cheh when she was escaping from prison very much alive but insane. Still she didn't know what to do. At the meantime Pan Kiu woke up from the joyous drunken session with Yat Cheh the night before, showed the painting to the King. Ng Mui realised something was amiss and rushed to Pan Kiu only to find him stripped off his title and arrested. He was arrested because the painting submitted by Lok Ping was switched and in it contained a painting whish suggested the King was a Han, born out of wedlock between Yung Jing and a Han lady which was forbidden back then. The King knew Pan Kiu was innocent though he can't prove the painting wasn't Pan Kiu's because the style was exactly alike. Pan Kiu was confronted by Yat Cheh in prison and he realised Yat Cheh was the culprit. He couldn't understand why until Yat Cheh explained the whole misunderstanding. Pan Kiu knew Yat Cheh was misled and decided to keep his mouth shut and die for Yat Cheh's sins. At the meantime Ng Mui was frantic and thought she failed Chun Heung whilst Wong San and Kam Lung were thinking of ways to save him. And the King was thinking of ways to make Pan Kiu confess he wasn't the culprit but Pan Kiu begged to die. The King knew he was covering up for someone and that someone was a woman whom Pan Kiu loved. And so Pan Kiu was escorted to the execution site but things took a strange turn of events.

The Ending Revealed
When he was about to be executed, Yat Cheh appeared and confessed. This was because she confronted her mother who didn't die and confirmed Pan Kiu's story. She realised all those years of hate were wasted on the wrong person. She willingly meet any punishment but Pan Kiu begged for her life to be spared. The King was tempted to give her family justice for a tragedy caused by his own father but the 14th Duke reminded him the empire comes first. And so the King decided the best way to spare her life and still punish her; she became a Chinese nun. At the meantime Ng Mui realised her work was done and she left. But suddenly Pan Kiu appeared and he confessed he would like to spend the rest of his life with her as she was the one. Ng Mui was touched and together, hand bound together, they walked towards the sunset. The end. By the way the sunset thing was my own ending, but in a way that was the ending.

The title was the first reason which attracted me to watch this series, Wong He was second, Myolie Wu third and boredom the fourth. I was bored with a string of comedies shown on ASTRO and when Doomed To Oblivion was announced as the next prime time feature, I was very excited as the titled actually sounded as if this was going to be tragic, so I won't need to laugh anymore, I can just cry at the tragic life of Cheng Pan Kiu. I really love the title, doomed to oblivion, I was thinking perhaps this is a story about someone very talented but never fully realised his talent and thus, doomed to being a nobody for the rest of his natural life. Was there a Cheng Pan Kiu? I was told yes, an expert in painting Bamboos in any motion, space and time, he died a poor man, a bit like Vincent Van Gogh, when living nobody cared, when dead, well, I am not sure if Cheng Pan Kiu is as famous as Van Gogh, but if someone heard of him and a TV show was dedicated to this man, perhaps in death he was appreciated for his talent and his inept understanding in capturing the gentle sway of the peaceful looking bamboos. What I didn't expect was of course a full blown love story or a lead character which I absolutely dislike.

That's the funny thing about this series; as one fellow reviewer in Point2e pointed out, she loved/hated/loved/hated/loved/hated/loved this character, two emotions through many phases. Cheng Pan Kiu is certainly not a character that a viewer could confess to liking, more so loving. I disliked him from the first episode, which escalated to hate somewhere in the middle of the series and towards the end, I thought well, he's an ok guy, but I never really liked him. The great thing about this series is it is not very long but the timeline in this series is from the last year of Kang Xi's rule to the early years of Qian Lung, about 20 odd years would have passed from episode one to the final episode. It does seem like a long journey but frankly, sometimes I didn't know time passes in this series, just mere mention like 5 years has passed and I did not see any note anywhere in the series how many years have passed. It's quite deceptive, since Nnadia Chan looked as pretty as ever and Myolie Wu still young even after quite a number of years, so when she started she must have been really young. For men, it was rather juvenile in the way the make up artists just add a moustache and voila! He's in his mid 40s, I couldn't buy it. So a lot of emphasis has to be on the actor's ability to age in his acting as his character ages, though they're the same age throughout. Some did it well, others not quite. It all boils down to acting, can they do it convincingly, that they're no longer in their 20s but are in their 40s, 50s or even 60s? Moustache or no moustache, wrinkles or no wrinkles, it didn't matter, as long as their mannerism is somewhere akin to someone that age.

In that sense, nobody disappoints in this series, though I couldn't believe looking at Wong He, his Cheng Pan Kiu was 40 ish. The mind numbing thing about this series when these character aged, the way they talked became much much much slower, always drawing deep breaths, that for a moment I thought they were really old. Is 40 old? Is 50 old? Perhaps not in today's world, as I have seen 50-ish women in pigtails and 50 is men in tight fitting jeans walking like a virile energetic young man in his 20s. But I guess back then, life expectancy was far shorter, so I guess without bird nests and Viagra, the aging process started much sooner, so I guess talking slow is an indication one is getting old. I am not complaining but rather confused. I wouldn't want to talk like that when I am in my 50s, I will be wearing my hair in pigtails, if I have any left.

But the worst and the most disbelieving factor again is the age factor, and this time the women. Nnadia Chan's Chun Heung always looked old, haggard, tired, but then she was a servant, later on neglected by her husband, down with worry, sick with fear, so she looked the way she did was totally understandable. I actually thought she looked more prettier and younger when she was dying than when she first appeared! But with Myolie Wu next to her, it was obvious, Myolie Wu, young, fresh, perky, pretty and Nnadia the older, wiser and more experienced one. Of course I just didn't quite understand how come Myolie's Ng Mui when she first appeared was like this and years later she looked the same, but of course mannerism was different. My complain is towards Gigi Lai's Yat Cheh. For a woman in her (I presume) early 40s or late 30s she looked way too young. BUT don't forget, she had bird's nests, so I am really dumbfounded by all these unnecessary stuff.

Back to the story and the acting. You may ask, so many people, but is the story about Cheng Pan Kiu?

In a way yes, consistently and persistently about Cheng Pan Kiu. But Cheng Pan Kiu with Yat Cheh, Cheng Pan Kiu with the Emperors, Cheng Pan Kiu with everybody else but Cheng Pan Kiu himself. It came to a point that I realised Cheng Pan Kiu himself was not very interesting to watch, and everybody else gave him a certain colour, certain emotion, he wasn't that bland when he was with someone else, especially Ng Mui and the Emperors. Therefore strictly speaking this is not a series about Cheng Pan Kiu but his world, his life, how he viewed the world through the eyes of others and how others viewed him.

Cheng Pan Kiu & Other People
In that sense, I particularly enjoyed the strange relationship between Cheng Pan Kiu and his respected and respectable sifu, Cheung Nam Sa. I said strange because Cheung Nam Sa betrayed Pan Kiu, and yet Pan Kiu begged for Nam Sa's life to be spared. And yet Nam Sa felt strangely guilty for betraying Pan Kiu and later one when Nam Sa's name was mentioned, Pan Kiu looked rather stern, like he didn't want to speak of this man. And yet Nam Sa was the man, the one who showed Pan Kiu how to be a great artist, he was the one who opened Pan Kiu's mind to his inner feelings and opened up his talent that Pan Kiu himself couldn't reach. We never get to see Nam Sa and Pan Kiu standing next to each other years later as equal or as subordinates. I was hoping for a more proper closure to this very interesting relationship but I guess in life, you never really meet the person who betrayed you or who had advised you years before. The world is indeed not THAT small and dramatic.

The second relationship which I enjoyed watching was Cheng Pan Kiu, Wong San and Kam Lung. They too had this strange relationship, where Pan Kiu was strangers to Wong San and Kam Lung but as troubles mounted and as years went speeding by, they three became very very good friends. Their relationship is based on respect, loyalty and yet in a way competition (Kam Lung and Pan Kiu are both artists) and animosity (greedy Wong San and self proclaimed righteous man, Pan Kiu). It's strange but it's especially nice to watch the many faces of Wong San. At first he seemed all wise and street smart, and the he turned out to be a very greedy and materialistic man and before I can dismiss him as shallow and mean, he was probably the most loyal friend one can have and Pan Kiu and Kam Lung were lucky to have such a friend who would go all out to help them, albeit complaining a whole lot more. But at least he did something. Kam Lung was also very interesting to watch, as he first appeared as despondent, rather unmotivated by his lack of success, always drunk and yet this was a man who knew what was happening, who never expected any return from the kindness he showered on Pan Kiu, a very soft spoken and gentle man, at times very optimistic as well. I really like Kam Lung for his easy going attitude but of course one must strive hard for success. Pan Kiu was lucky to have met such good people who helped him a lot more than he helped them in the decades they knew each other.

The third relationship which I find very funny and very explosive is Pan Kiu and Ng Mui. Pan Kiu had it easy when he married a very docile, gentle woman named Chun Heung, though a forced marriage. She would never dream of saying no (though she did once said no but then he slapped her and she shut up since), she never really have an opinion, she cooked, she cleaned, she put up with his erratic temper, she loved him for all his glory and all his flaws, she works to support the family... frankly you won't be able to find such a good and dutiful wife anymore who would even die to give the Chengs a child (however the child died in her womb as she succumbed to her injuries which went untreated because of her pregnancy, a fact that Pan Kiu didn't know). I find her very resourceful. Then before she died, she made Pan Kiu marry Ng Mui and made Ng Mui promise her to take care of Pan Kiu, no matter what. These were not threats and Ng Mui dutifully agreed to be emotionally neglected, verbally abused and physically abused (well she was pushed sometimes though not beaten) not because of threat but because Chun Heung showered her love and concern when Ng Mui was just a thief, a street person so to speak. To Ng Mui Chung Heung was like a big sister she never had and to Chun Heung, perhaps she saw a bit of herself in Ng Mui in the sense she was once poor and alone. They two were like sisters and in death, Ng Mui carried out Chun Heung's wishes to the last letter, though she personally disliked Pan Kiu and his egoistic misogynistic personality. A good woman in my opinion and a very strong character.

The fourth and final relationship which I find very touching as well as interesting, but not as much as others is the love-hate relationship between Pan Kiu and Chun Heung. Hate on the part of Pan Kiu and love on the part of Chun Heung. We see at first how badly he treated her and the he professed to learn to love her but as the final few episodes clearly show, Chun Heung will always be No. 2 in his heart. And that is what frustrates a viewer like I and make me dislike this Pan Kiu even more. Which is why this series is interesting, because of Cheng Pan Kiu himself.

Cheng Pan Kiu, the Anti-Hero
I would never term Pan Kiu as a hero though he is clearly the lead character in here. He does not possess the heroism one would expect from a decent fellow. Pan Kiu is decent, he lives by his own set of principles, even when he was young, idealistic and very impatient with life and success. As he grew older and faced many unjust circumstances, he mellowed down and became a man without much ambition, just a wish to live his life without much incident. But as his talent was undeniable, he had to pursue such talent, encouraged by the people he loved. And he emerged to be an incorruptible official, again with his own stubborn principles only Chun Heung would admire. I find this man despicable in several ways;

1. in the way he treated the women in his life (except Yat Cheh), always acting hurt, angry, betrayed and finally appreciating them for who they are. Can he blame Chun Heung whom herself was duped? Can he blame Ng Mui whom herself was bound by her promises to her benefactor? He didn't see all that, he saw only himself which is why he was and even towards the end an egoistical git;

2. ungrateful in the way he treated his best friends . Whilst their request for him to consider Kam Lung's painting as one of the top 5 to be given to the young King may be a bit too much, but writing a few words on his painting would certainly not "kill" his principles and when Pan Kiu finally did it, he made quite a show of reluctance which I did not understand, he could appreciate Kam Lung's painting from the standpoint of an art lover. And yet at the same time he denied the entry of one painting he liked, and once persuaded by Yat Cheh he said yes. The reason he refused such painting was because he didn't want any ties with Yat Cheh and this coming from a man who refused to endorse his friend's painting because he felt he was in an important position which denied him that privilege. That makes him a hypocrite.

3. the way he kept on protecting Yat Cheh, putting the lives of his family at stake not once but many times. He loved Yat Cheh to the point of blindness. He even proposed that she elope with him, and when she came back for revenge, plotting to get rid of Ng Mui, he believed Yat Cheh and accused Ng Mui of many things which showed that for the past 2 years that Ng Mui has been with him, Pan Kiu didn't pay any attention to the many changes Ng Mui undergone. And when he finally knew Yat Cheh's true face, he decided he will die for her, noble to some, extremely foolish to me. Many might ask, why he agreed? Because he still loved Yat Cheh? Because he thought he owed her something when he failed to protect her years before? Because he heard her sob story (which was really pitiful actually) about how she escaped from the clutches of evil wardens, how her mother and her were rescued by a wealthy woman, how Yat Cheh was raped and willingly became the mistress of the wealthy woman's husband in order to survive, how her mother burnt down the house, killing everybody except that wealthy woman when they were kicked out of the house as Yat Cheh was caught in bed with that useless lusty husband? Probably a combination of all. I do pity Yat Cheh in a way which I shall explain below. But all in all, when at the end Pan Kiu gave the King his piece of mind; that infamous quote you will hear in the themesong, "Ignorance is bliss". He mentioned also to be ignorant is even more difficult sometimes, to achieve that state may require some practice I guess. I hate that quote because Pan Kiu stated all that because of the injustice he suffered. In fact most of the time he perpetrated his own injustice and for him to say Ignorance Is Bliss is slapping himself, because from episode one to the last, I find Cheng Pan Kiu a very ignorant fool. For me the better quote should have been "The truth will release you from pain" as witnessed in Yat Cheh, Ng Mui and even Pan Kiu himself. How so?

Yat Cheh
Bearing in mind the many hardship she went through she is a very pitiful woman. She has a woman who professed to love her and yet used her to first gain wealth and then to gain revenge on Pan Kiu. Silly Yat Cheh trusted her mother and went along, not knowing she was a pawn in the scheme to get Pan Kiu for things that he didn't do. So when Yat Cheh found out her mother didn't really tell her the truth how the entire family was banished/executed, Yat Cheh realised the truth and that truth released her from her hate for Pan Kiu. I believe she never stopped loving her and that is nice to watch. Even when she was plotting, it was as if she was plotting to make Pan Kiu suffer because he didn't find her, he didn't pursue her, he married 2 women, etc etc etc. Maybe she was angry because she wasn't Mrs Cheng and she channeled all her hate towards Pan Kiu for her inability to fulfill her dreams. She became a nun at last when the King decided to spare her life and give her justice. I was hoping she and Pan Kiu just marry one another but she needed to be punished. I do pity her.

Ng Mui
She may have been a thief, sometimes greedy, very naughty but Chun Heung offered her a chance to better her life and she reluctantly took it. When Chun Heung died leaving Pan Kiu in her care, Ng Mui was at times tempted to leave as Pan Kiu chased her out of the house. And each time she turned back and ran back to Pan Kiu because of her promise. I find her more noble than Pan Kiu. And Chun Heung helped Ng Mui to end her days a a vagrant of some sort. When at last Pan Kiu was saved, Ng Mui left Pan Kiu, thinking she had finally fulfilled her promise to Chun Heung. In actual fact she was slowly falling for Pan Kiu though I could not see why. Maybe there's no truth to release her from a non-existent pain, but when Pan Kiu showed up, tied their hands together and they walked away from the camera, hand in hand. I admit, it brought a smile to my face, to see such an egotistical man humbled and to see Ng Mui finally getting the happiness she wanted. I am not sure when she fell for him but I guess she got used to seeing his face, and one day not seeing his face may upset her. I guess the same happened to Pan Kiu. Is that love I wonder? No doubt Yat Cheh will always be No. 1, Chun Heung No. 2 and of course Ng Mui is No. 3 but the bright side is, there will not be a No. 4 unless there's a sequel. Cheng Pan Kiu is one lucky guy.

The funny thing is Cheng Pan Kiu never had much success in his life. He spent his time waiting for success and when it came, he was ready to leave it all not because of corruption but rather because of his own personal reasons. It's frustrating to watch really. I mean he is supposed to be talented painter but never ever in this series indicated he is also a talented and knowledgeable scholar. Maybe in the olden days it's one of the same but when he was given the position of a magistrate, I was confused. I still am. I mean he was just a painter, never a scholar, he had nothing intelligent to say and he didn't seem learned enough to be a scholar. Very confusing.

What, Who, Where & How
You may ask what happened to;

Yat Cheh's Evil Mom
This woman hated Pan Kiu for no reason other than just pure hate. She needed someone to blame for her own induced misery. Anyway, she was imprisoned if I am not mistaken. I love to see the confrontation because mom and daughter but it was bland to say the least.

Cheung Nam Sa
Retired back to his village long ago. I actually loved to see Cheung Nam Sa appearing before Pan Kiu again as a really old man, all hate and all jealousy no longer important but well, never got to see that either.

Pan Kiu's Best Friends and Family
The former continuing their lives and the latter in the village, waiting for his return.

Best Scenes
All scenes involving Pan Kiu and his various relationships. Pan Kiu alone is rather boring to watch.

I absolutely enjoyed the scenes where Qian Lung questioned his father's sins and how he can correct the wrong done to others by his father. The young King wanted to help Yat Cheh, after his father, Yong Jing was the one who caused the misery we see in this series. But he couldn't, and funnily enough 14th Prince (now 14th Duke) advised the King strongly against exposing the truth of how Yat Cheh's husband died. Funny because rumours had it that 14th prince was supposed to be the king you see and yet the 14th prince wanting to protect the dignity and the stability of the empire advised the king against such suicidal act. I agree and the King in his own way offered Yat Cheh a chance to redeem herself without actually letting her go unpunished.

Another special mention must be given to the unknown artistes who did all those drawings. I looked at the bamboo paintings and I knew why Kang Xi was crazy about them. A sense of peace, a sense of hope, a sense of calm washed over me as I looked at the paintings and as the background music (flute I think) was played each time Cheng Pan Kiu started drawing. In fact I think the poster of this series is unique and very artistic.

Worst Scenes
Pan Kiu and Yat Cheh. I can't understand his foolishness and I can't stand the way how this series deviated from the original storyline. If Cheng Pan Kiu's life is all about Yat Cheh and everybody else, I find this series pointless as explained above.

Mind Numbing Question
There's one. When Pan Kiu realised he married the wrong woman he went all mad and started to get really annoying. I understand his pain and when his father kept saying "accept her, she's a good wife" and he went even more beserk, I understand also. Imagine marrying a woman you don't love, how can you like even look at her more so sleep with her. But the thing is Chun Heung is really a very good woman. She was a maid, and she was pushed into this. Whilst at first I thought she was all too eager to jump into bed with Pan Kiu and being really patient and all, it was much later that I began to like her as Pan Kiu began to accept her. Love can happen after some time but would you agree with me if I were to say Pan Kiu didn't really love Chun Heung with a passion that he had for Yat Cheh? I would think so and well, though I pity him at first, but after some time and he still keptb shouting at Chun Heung and such, I thought well come on man, get a grip, either divorce her or just bear with it. He couldn't divorce her, and yet he couldn't bear being with her. When he proposed to Yat Cheh to elope, I guess I thought he was the worst husband and the weakest of men. And guess what? When he accepted Chun Heung, the whole process began all over again with Ng Mui! Can't help but feel this man is such a lucky man who didn't realise his luck. So my mind numbing question is in Pan Kiu's situation, do you think you can learn to love Chun Heung or will you be that type that pursue your perfect happiness with the person you actually lust and love?

Performances Evaluated
I find the performances in this series generally satisfying with an exceptional few.

Myolie Wu
She was certainly the best performer in this series, bringing a kind of energetic optimism in her performance. I have always liked Myolie and I have maintained from her first series (Colourful Life) till this present series, she has talent, and given time she could be much much better. This series proves the beginning of her maturing as an actress. I must say, a very delightful performance but I hope she won't suddenly go stale, boring and the usual.

Nnadia Chan
She gave a performance that fans might interpret as great, non-fans might say unemotional whilst I would say, wonderfully restrained. Her Chun Heung can't be too emotional and standing next to an energetic and younger Myolie Wu, Nnadia indeed looked like a big sister, and often times haggard but that's how Chun Heung should look like. She played her Chun Heung as meek, gentle and very obedient wife. I like her performance in here which I thought was thoughtful and gentle. There is a depth to her Chun Heung and yet a certain innocence. Excellent performance.

Gigi Lai
I never thought of her as a good actress, and she gives me an impression she is so adept to playing arrogant characters, she exudes arrogance on screen even without realising it. Her Yat Cheh is wierd, because as a viewer I never really knew her past. I just knew she got memory loss and then she was the gentle her. Chun Heung did say she is a nice master, treating her like a sister. And yet in later scenes her Yat Cheh is not altogether as giving or as sweet. I would say could it be we never knew her past, so we assume she's actually nice when she could have been a brat? Very ambiguous character, not helped much by Gigi Lai who excels in looking arrogant and giving you that stare. Other than that I find her portrayal unconvincing and it surprises me why she is picked for this role, except for those 2 qualities.

Loh Hoi Pang
What else to say? To save my breath I will say excellent.

Mak Bau
Excellent portrayal which proves the versatility of this actor in tackling any role given to him thus far.

Mok Kar Yiu
Excellent portrayal of the gentle Kam Lung. Can't say more but praises, best scene was his disbelief when Pan Kiu started to insult him (when Pan Kiu didn't really mean it, it was all show). His eyes brimming with tears of disbelief, I find his portrayal very real.

Chun Pui
He doesn't strike me as a wise Emperor because he doesn't look like an Emperor to me. But I find him very convincing as an understanding and lonely old uncle looking for his favourite painting. Yes, he did bring out the loneliness faced by Kang Xi quite magnificently. In the end Kings are human too, they need comfort, they need love and friendship.

Gilbert Lam
Excellent portrayal, probably the best in this series for a male performance for his hypocritical Cheung Nam Sa. But I would have done the same. The best scene had to be when he was explaining why he betrayed Pan Kiu, I thought Gilbert Lam was brilliant the way he looked at the King, brimming with tears with pent up anger and jealousy. And when Pan Kiu appeared begging for his life, he looked for a moment regretting what he did. This guy could be evil at first and yet pitiful at the same time. Excellent.

Tsang Wai Kuen
Excellent guest starring role. Not much scenes but he brings out the deceit and the jealous rage of Yung Jing very very well.

Raymond Tso
I am beginning to really like this actor for reasons I can't adequately explain. I never liked him anywhere else. I don't even think he's a great actor, but he has potential. He played Qian Lung as a very eager but wise young man, capable of great things in life. i especially like his portrayal later on when he became wiser about all the corruption. I actually believe his Qian Lung to be understanding, fair and just. He exudes such quality and the character he plays benefits the most from such qualities he exudes. He should play hero in a wuxia series though I admit he does not possess earth shattering charisma and screen presence. But strangely I like him.

Liu Kai Chi
I can't remember his character's name but what I do remember was his menace. His character made life for Pan Kiu and friends hell and even made Qian Lung's life hell. Excellent portrayal of a very corrupt official. My only complaint is his end was too rushed and I didn't get to see him tortured.

Ngo Ka Nin
I got him confused with another young actor from Love Is Beautiful but if my cast list in that series was right, the guy who played Lok Ping (again I hope that is the name of the character) should be this guy. A very small role but for what it was worth, I like to to say he has got enormous potential.

14th Duke, Wan Tai
He's always there but I do not know his name. Weak portrayal, and nothing more to say.

Wong He
I want to save my comments on Wong He for last, because I have much to say.

I have followed Wong He's career from the series that made him a household name to other series which solidifies his status as a character actor. I have also witnessed his bad times and his worst times. Consistently I have to admit this is one actor who seems consumed by his character, at times he seems to lose himself when he is acting. But that was long time ago where he played character that is often the underdog but not necessarily a nice sweet guy. His career pattern reminds me of Bobby Au Yeung and Kong Wah's career and sometimes when an actor gets too famous or too familiar a name, somehow the actor losses that enthusiasm and the passion for a certain character he is playing.

Wong He is no doubt one of my favourite actor, ranked very high, right next to Kong Wah. And yet like Kong Wah his recent series not only disappoints me but really made me wonder what are they thinking? Of course I haven't seen the latest of all latest series but right up until this series, I believe my comments are justified. When I was watching Burning Flame 2 right before this one, I thought Wong He seemed too consumed with himself, Mr Wong He, that he has forgotten his grasp at the art of acting. But somehow he is still a magnificent actor, only he could have been much much better.

Then came Doomed To Oblivion. First of all I have people commenting he looked more like a "kuli" (slave worker) than a scholar/painter. I have to agree. I hope TVB might consider making a series about Chinese being sold to Nanyang and worked as slave, and how they succeed in life. I have no doubt Wong He would be excellent, because he could looked doomed or happy. I think such a series was made many years ago with Frankie Lam and Kenix Kwok, the former quite famous and the latter a virtual unknown.

Back to this series. I am unable to say Wong He was excellent nor am I able to say he was bad. I have very high expectations for each Wong He series, everybody else can fail, Sonija Kwok can be as wooden as she wants but Wong He must not disappoint. This reminds me of the time I was at Genting Highlands for the ASTRO anniversary concert and Wong He was a guest, singing and joking. My feelings for this series was like when I was sitting just 5 rows away from the stage. Before he appeared, I was full of anticipation. I want to see my favourite actor in the flesh, and my family knew I was there to see him. Then he appeared and frankly I felt like I was thrown from heaven back to earth in a very cruel way. He looked ordinary, nothing spectacular. I never expected him to look anything beyond ordinary, since he is not a handsome man. But I expected to see a presence, a larger than life Wong He. What I got was a man who looked much too small in person, he was much smaller than I anticipated, in fact he was very thin and tiny. But he looked proportionate, unlike Marco Ngai. I have a feeling I was taller than him and that made me realise two things; he lied about his height and he is just an ordinary joe, who so happens to work as an actor. Then he began to sing, and then he began to talk and he was talking and laughing. I couldn't sense any sincerity in the way he talked, how he confessed he might cry with all the support his fans was giving him. I felt he wasn't very true and I just didn't like this real life Wong He. And then he was gone. My disappointment was very obvious. But I cannot deny I still want to see him in the flesh and shake his hands, because the old memories of him never die.

This was how I felt when I was watching his performance in this series. He was wrongly cast in the role of Cheng Pan Kiu, seemed ill at ease, and at times his actions seem deliberate and he made his character more hypocritical than the scriptwriter may have intended. But I can't deny his performance was good. I can't deny I wouldn't mind watching him though at times he seemed like he was reciting his lines instead of being consumed by his character, delivering it like it was all real. Every time I feel disappointed with his series or him in person, I like to remind myself this was the man who gave the viewers such wonderful performance like Nothing To Declare, Food Of Love and of course Burning Flame, the series which I believe made him and made all viewers sit up and pay attention. I know he is capable of being that actor I knew, but at this moment, like Kong Wah he is at that juncture between being really famous as a personality and being very ambiguous as the character actor. I know he will find his footing one day, like Kong Wah and decide what kind of actor he wants to be. At this moment of time, his performance in this series is effective, it is good and you will hate him or love him, but I expect more and this series does not deliver in that sense.

Overall a very enjoyable and thought provoking series, though the lead character, Cheng Pan Kiu may not do much in his life. In fact the entire series is about Pan Kiu and someone else, not Pan Kiu alone. The first few episodes were tedious, the plot may not be consistent, the reasoning may not seem logical, and at times very very silly but this series is wonderful because it is different from the norm and it presents to you many characters that may not be necessarily the kindest person but is nevertheless a good person. Watch it for the emotions, watch it for the performances, especially Nnadia Chan, Gilbert Lam and Myolie Wu. Fans of Wong He may enjoy the slight departure from his previous goody-underdogs role.


Interesting Fiction
This series put forward a very highly unlikely way of writing a will by an Emperor of China that is why drawing his will into a painting. If nobody is as smart as Cheng Pan Kiu or Cheung Nam Sa, the painting which caused the lives of the Chows may not be able to be "read" by anybody at all. I do not believe that was how the Emperors wrote their wills. There must be a will read in front of his most trusted officials before his death bed, there must be 2 wills as related to me by a trusted source of mine, one written in Chinese and the other in Manchurian. So no way there will be any ambiguity. But there is no denying Yung Jing is one of the most defamed Emperor in TV Series history, it all does make very interesting watch. So I do think the way this series handled the will issue is very juvenile but well, where will all the drama be if not this way?

Interesting Facts
I am shocked to learn that at the date of posting of this review of mine, TVB has yet to broadcast this series in Hong Kong! Of course the rest of the world have seen it but not Hong Kong and apparently TVB has no plans to ever broadcast this series at all. So is this a case of really doomed to oblivion?? I wonder why? Which is why I was very surprised when Myolie Wu won Most Improved Actress in 2002 but I didn't see a single clip from this series which I believe is her best performance till todate, even when I consider Family Man (though I haven't seen Survivor's Law). I think this series should be shown in Hong Kong and I believe it will achieve favourable ratings. Maybe TVB is afraid to burden people's mind with such a serious series, maybe they believe the viewers would not want to be provoked. Maybe they didn't want a series with generally good performances to be shown and they aim to give us viewers more of bad actors, wooden actresses and sappy love story. Granted, Doomed To Oblivion is a sappy love story but at least not 100% of it. I really wonder why?

Interesting History
I think I have written quite a lot about the famous 3 Emperors of the Qing Dynasty, from the golden era of Kang Xi (check out my review of Duke Of Mountdeer in TVB/Taiwan), Ying Zheng (check out my review of Secret Battle Of The Majesties in ATV) and Qian Lung (check out my review of Huan Zhu Ge Ge in Taiwan) so there's no point in repeating the history again. What I am interested in is Cheng Pan Kiu. Did he exist? I was so excited with what I found out. Again, do not trust TVB to give a true historical account of a person's life. Funny was his real life was far more dramatic than the reel life!

Cheng Pan Kiu
Took me some time to find him because the database is all in Mandarin name, so his name is Zheng Banqiao but he is also known as Zheng Xie!

Zheng Xie [Cheng Hsieh; zi Kerou; hao Banqiao, Pan-ch’iao]
(b Xinghua, Jiangsu Province, 1693; d 1765)

Chinese painter, calligrapher and poet. Equally known as Zheng Banqiao, Zheng Xie was, together with Jin Nong, the most prominent of the group of painters referred to as the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou . Although orphaned, he subsequently achieved some success in the official civil service examinations and obtained appointments as a local magistrate in Shandong Province. A brief encounter in 1748 on Mt Tai, Shandong, with the Qianlong emperor (reg 1736–96) won him the coveted title of Official Calligrapher and Painter (shuhuashi), for which he had a seal carved to commemorate the event. The end of his official career came in 1753, following a charge of corruption.


Zheng Xie(1693-1765),also called Zheng Kerou and Zheng Banqiao,was from Xinghua,Jiangsu Province.He was one of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou.His paintings,poetry and calligraphy have been called the "three incomparables".In painting,his best line was orchids and bamboo; in calligraphy,he was noted for his long vertical left-falling strokes in cursive style.


Zheng Xie, commonly known as Zheng Banqiao, was a native of Xinghua, Jiangsu Province. He was the most successful candidate in the highest imperial examination and had served as a county magistrate in Shandong Province. He offended the higher officials because he opened a shelter to relieve the poor, so he resigned. He then lived in Yangzhou, selling his paintings to earn a living. He was active and creative, and accomplished a great deal in poetry, calligraphy and painting. He was good at drawing bamboo, orchids and stones, and created a new calligraphy style by combining the regular, cursive, official and seal scripts. He was deeply concerned about ordinary people's lives. Once, when working as a county magistrate, he wrote on one of his bamboo paintings: "Listening to the waving bamboo lying in my office, I imagine it to be the complaints of the people; low is the rank of a county magistrate, I am concerned about every detail of the life of my people."

Zheng Banqiao is very famous among the "Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou". Zheng Banqiao studied hard when he was young and had an extensive reading of history, poetry and literature. He got the scholar title in the imperial examination at the provincial level and had served as a country magistrate with a record of having done something good for the people. As he opened grain houses of the court to aid victims in the years of famine, he was falsely charged and dismissed from the office. Then he went to Yangzhou and supported himself by selling his paintings. Peculiar and unrestrained, his calligraphy was a union of official, regular, freehand and cursive-hand scripts, plus bamboo and orchid. He called himself "Six and Half Scripts". Specialized in painting orchids, bamboo and rocks, Zheng tried to put into his pictures the slightest changes of bamboo at different times of growth and difference between wild and cultivated orchids, therefore, his work was always varied in composition and true to life.


Comments : Shocking, truly shocking. Unlike TVB version, he actually was a scholar and he became an official because he actually took the imperial exam and he was sacked because of corruption! But was wrongly charged! Framed and all! Definitely not the Cheng Pan Kiu in TVB version. And guess what? No Yat Cheh! But very dramatic! And he was very very very famous.

You will notice a painting held by Qian Lung at the end of the series, written by Cheng Pan Kiu with his infamous quote, "Ignorance is Bliss" or "Nan De Hu Tu". I was wondering did it exist and yes, he did say that quote and he wrote it in his infamous calligraphy style! Wow! So excited and I love this reproduction below. Notice the calligraphy style, which I dislike but very distinctive and exactly the same thing in the series.

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What he wrote was as translated in English;

Nan De Hu Tu
It's hard to be smart
It's hard to be "hu tu" (not smart)
Transforming from smart to "hu tu" is harder still

Yield a little
Back down a step
Think and be careful
All for rewards in the future.


Comments : Ok, so I made some error in my comments in my review above but I stand by my observation of TVB's version of Cheng Pan Kiu.

What I absolutely love about this series was the paintings, especially the bamboo paintings. I have always admired the skill of the Chinese painter who could capture the colours of nature, the essence of it all even without colours like the western paintings. For more discussion on paintings, I think I did write something in my Legendary Four Aces review in TVB section. If not, I like to note that Chinese painters in the olden days believe in drawing the essence of something, not an exact replica. After looking at the real paintings by Cheng Pan Kiu, the real person, I have to say, this man was very talented, his style so confident, and yet I sense peacefulness, a sense of calm as well. He actually captured the essence of bamboos and I understand why Kang Xi in the series would go all out to find him. Absolutely brilliant. And he didn't just paint bamboos. He did calligraphy and other nature stuff as well though I must say his writing is really not very nice but well experts say his style is very care free. In modern times I would say his handwriting is like a doctor's handwriting!

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Kam Lung
Guess what? There was a Kam Lung and he was as famous and celebrated as Cheng Pan Kiu. In fact same period of time they were two of the famous "Eight Eccentric Painters of Yangzhou"! So excited. Anyway, his name in mandarin is Jing Nong.

Jin Nong (1687-1764), a native of Hangzhou, is the most famous of the eight eccentrics. He was talented in many fields and started to paint in his 50s. Living a poor life, he could draw figures, flowers and birds, landscapes, but was best at picturing plum blossom. His paintings were carefully designed with simple shapes, and his best known paintings are Ink Plum Blossom and Moon And Flower. He also created a unique calligraphy style which he called lacquer calligraphy.


Ok, this one below was somewhat different info from above.

A native of Renhe,ZheJiang province,was a painter of the Qing dynasty.His style names were Shoumen,Sinong and Jiejin and Dongxin Xiansheng,Jiliu shanming,Qujiang Waishi and Xiye Jushi by sobriquets.He was prominent in south of the Yangzi River,skilled in calligraphy,created his own style of regular script,and expressing official script strongly.He was one of "The Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou",and also talented in poetry and prose.


Comments : I realise I got cheated again by TVB. Kam Lung wasn't that unrecognised, in fact he was famous back then! Shocking! I wonder was he friends with Pan Kiu?

I don't really like his paintings though they were very nice. I like Cheng Pan Kiu's style. And he didn't just draw flowers, but bamboos as well. But his is a bit more cluttered, a bit more traditional whilst Cheng Pan Kiu's painting a bit more sparse and livelier, almost can feel the wind and the gentle sway of the bamboo leaves. But I like Kam Lung's calligraphy style, very clean.

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Wong San
I almost missed this one until I went through the info I had and guess what? There was a Wong San! BUT he wasn't an art dealer, he was like Pan Kiu and Kam Lung a celebrated scholar, painter, poet, etc. Again cheated by TVB!

Huang Shen (1687-1768) was a native of Ninghua, Fujian Province. His family was poor when he was young, and he studied Huai Su's calligraphy style. His paintings also show the cursive script style in his rough sketches. His best field was figure painting. He preferred to draw religious figures or lower class people, and his works include The Drunk Monk and Shepherd Su Wu.


Wow, nice painting but I liked Cheng Pan Kiu's more. Still I am beginning to appreciate Chinese art and calligraphy! Check these out, all of these were his masterpieces entitled Flowers and Blossoms. I find his style very carefree, very free flowing but quite frankly I don't quite understand some of his drawings, a bit of gibberish to me, like his handwriting. But still he must have been a very carefree passionate kind of guy who acts according to his feelings.

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Lok Ping
I can't quite remember but I think this was the name of the young man who had the same style like Pan Kiu in the series and was trained by Yat Cheh for sole purpose of revenge. And guess what? There was a Lok Ping and he was very very famous as well and also one of the 8 famous painters! And again cheated by TVB. He was Kam Lung's muse!

Luo Pin (1733-1799), a native of Shexian County, Anhui Province, was a student of Jin Nong. He was the youngest among the Eight Eccentrics, but had rich knowledge and a unique painting style. He refused to serve the Qing government, led a poor life and made a living by selling his paintings. He is known for his paintings Ghost and Alcoholic Zhong Kui.


Took me forever to find his masterpiece and also his profile. Guess what? It's not Luo Pin but many sites listed his name as Luo PinG! Below is his most famous work, Drunken Zhang Kui And Ghosts. I would say this man deserved the recognition we now give to him but looking at his profile, I would say if you're a scholar/painter back in olden days, either you become a scholar or probably be very very poor. None of them achieved the wealth like So Tong Po, whom I always have this impression who was someone flamboyant, chauvinistic and rich. Anyway very realistic drawing but yet very free flowing type. I am beginning to understand why all of the above are called the eccentric painters, because their styles are so limitless, so unrestrained!

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Ok, just in case you recognise any of these name, the other famous 8 eccentric painters during that time for your reading pleasure!

The Eight Eccentric Painters of Yangzhou
After the Four Monk Painters, the Qing Dynasty saw the rise of another revolutionary painting school in the Eight Eccentric Painters of Yangzhou. The eight painters are Jin Nong, Huang Shen, Zheng Xie, Li Shan, Li Fangying, Wang Shishen, Gao Xiang and Luo Pin. Their paintings did not follow the old brushstroke conventions, making them look strange compared with other paintings of the time. In addition, these painters were proud and uncontrolled and had bold personalities; thus they were named the Eight Eccentric Painters.

Li Shan (1686-1762) was a native of Xinghua, Jiangsu Province. He was interested in painting in his childhood and made a name for himself in painting circles at the age of only 16. He served as a county magistrate in the Teng County of Shandong Province. His painting style was influenced by Xu Wei and Shi Tao, and he used light colors and adopted splashed ink skills to capture an unrestricted quality. His well-known paintings are Autumn Sunflower and Pine, Orchid and Stone.

Li Fangying (1695-1755), a native of Nantong, Jiangsu Province, spent 20 years as a county magistrate. He was on good terms with Jin Nong and Zheng Xie and was accomplished at painting pines, bamboos, plum blossoms and orchids. In his later years, he concentrated on painting plum blossoms. His best known works are Swimming Fish and Waving Bamboo in the Wind.

Gao Xiang (1688-1753), a native of Yangzhou, lived a poor life but was very conceited. He admired Shi Tao very much and was good at painting landscapes, birds and flowers, especially plums. Wang Shishen (1685-1759) was a native of Xiuning, Anhui Province. He lived in a poor family when he was young and then made a living in Yangzhou by selling paintings. He lived happily in spite of his poverty and carried out painting research. He was good at drawing plums too, and his best known painting is The Ink Plum Blossom. He and Jin Nong, Gao Xiang and Luo Pin are known as the four great plum painters of the time.

The eight eccentric painters had similar life experiences, ideas and sentiments. They were all born in poor but intellectual families, served but resigned from (or never served) the Qing imperial government and made their living by selling their paintings. They looked down upon the Qing officials because of their corruption, and expressed their anger and discontent in their paintings and calligraphy.

Most of their flower and bird paintings were drawn in free sketches, and their paintings were unconventional and had strongly subjective moods. Their paintings were not fully understood by many people at the time and were considered eccentric. But they opened a new era in Chinese painting history and created new flower and bird painting methods.


My Question
Now I wonder, was there a Cheung Nam Sa?? Check out this space later as I search for him.

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