"I couldn't help but praise Charmaine for making this series such a delight to watch"
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
This is an extremely long analysis of this series. Spoilers alert! Spoilers alert!
Modern day drama, set in Hong Kong and China.
Which has nothing to do with the English title, something like (Cantonese and pardon my "HanYuPinYin"), Ching Hin Bak Tzi Gwai which ... don't ask me what it means. Too complicated.
The All Important Question
Anyway, a bit on the English title and the peculiarity of it. For your information, there isn't technically an herbalist in here having affair with some herbals or an herbalist having an affair with some other except for one character. This isn't a story about an herbalist at all. The main protagonists are admittedly, a Chinese sinseh who could be said to be an herbalist, a salesman and a rich girl, so where then is the herbalist and where then is the affair by the herbalist, for the herbalist and to the herbalist??
Cast - Character
Roger Kwok - Cheung Yee Fai
Charmaine Sheh - Ng Sin Yu (Ruby Ng/Ah Bee)
Melissa Ng - Keong Sam Yuet
Derek Lee - Wai Yat Siew
Eileen Yeow - Kau Kau
Ko Hung - Cheung Wai Onn
Wu Fung - Cheung Tong Sang
Wong Wai - Dr Keong Tit To
Kwok Yew Ming - Ching Lung
Love. Everything about love, very little about medicine though there is like 0.05% of storyline on Chinese medicine vs Western medicine but all else is love.
Basically, one man torn between his guilt towards his first real love and his growing affection for a woman who stood by him has to choose one whom he really loves without hurting the other.
This is such a lame summary of this multi themed series. Maybe the correct summary is a description of the tirade of emotions attacking the viewers' senses non stop. It's almost cruel, inhumane.
Actually, the plot is very simple to explain. I mean this is a story about love and relationships, family and friends. And most important of all, it is about how to face the idea of living when everything bad seems to happen only to you and how much others are affected because you are affected.
Of course this is not a Korean drama series, and so do expect plenty of sub plots, such as half brothers who found each other, greedy woman falling for the nicest guy in this series and ends up being nice and all. Pretty standard stuff.
All in all, you should expect
Happy endings, sort of
Heart wrenching moments
You must side one person in the triangular relationship of rich girl-boy-nice girl. MUST.
But don't expect
Really happy endings, sort of
Over the top dramatic moments
For more of the plot, I have inserted some plot stuff into my comments and there's a better one at the end of this review, written by me earlier.
This is by far the best and most effective series I have seen in this year, (well so far and I watched it on ASTRO though this series was released in 2002) and effective because you will cry on cue and laugh on cue. The story is so well crafted, the characters so well acted and the personalities of the characters so solidly written, this series could manipulate your emotion in a way you wouldn't believe. It's been such a long time I have seen such a good series that can affect me so much emotionally, I feel this series is almost perfect, save for some minor grouses which are entirely stemming from my own pickiness.
I do not know how to begin with the story as each character has his or her moment, each has their own agendas and each their own version of a perfect ending. Maybe I should begin what is this series is about.
Basically, it is about love, but that description is such a narrow view of this series. In a wide sense, this series is everything about what makes us human beings human, it's about forgiveness, guilt, pain, suffering, why people do certain silly stuff and why some people are happy and others are not. I find this series a very social statement, though there's nothing really preachy about it. But you learn a lot. And the best of all, happy endings aren't always the leading actress being with the leading actor. It's wider, so much more than that, when stripped away a physical being, this series is entirely and wonderfully about emotions and the way human succumb to it without question, only to find it ever so difficult to get rid of such emotions and in the end the characters are bound to realise certain emotions could never be rid of, because that's what makes us human and how then do such problems be solved? The solution is so simple and yet very deep. The story itself is a celebration about life and why it's worth all the pain and all the hurt.
And there is a reason why I preferred to use nice girl instead of Sum Yuet, or rich girl instead of Ah Bee, because this is one series where everybody has their own very distinct personality. There isn't really a villain in here you could hate though Ah Bee came close to one but frankly I beg to differ. Without putting you through painful suspense, I guess I should just casually note that this is one of my most favourite series of all time, and the certainly one of the best the year it was released, though the storyline is really nothing much. But let me elaborate why, as I always do.
The simplicity of its plot fueled by the complexity of its characters
Basically that's what this series is all about; the plot is terribly simple. Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, falls in love, falls out of love, girl wants boy back, boy in love with another and in the end all became best of friends. The sub plots are created and centred upon the three main characters, that is Yee Fai, Ah Bee and Sum Yuet. Of course other characters have their own stories to tell, but it is the main characters that are the most fun to watch.
Why do I say it's simple and yet it's complicated? This is a series which plays on human emotions, human nature and very human decision. When anything and everything is centred on anything that is human, certainly even the simplest stuff becomes the most complicated, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. You can't dictate someone from not loving or continuing to love someone, but at least you can try to not love that person any more than you should. This is especially real with very real characters that may be nice people, but aren't perfect. This series certainly illustrates that.
Love Isn't Everything
Which is true, as this series shows in the form of Yee Fai. It is interesting how Ah Bee and Yee Fai started. Yee Fai isn't the easiest man to get along with, but he got along fine with Ah Bee and in the end fell for her. Ah Bee lied to him of course. She was the only child of Yee Fai's boss, and wanting to learn a bit about the business, Ah Bee posed as a secretary and was assigned to Yee Fai, who has gone through several secretaries. And yet, when she volunatrily helped Yee Fai to search for his father's mistress that Lai Sa by his comatose grandfather (grandfather a long time ago chased a very pregnant Lai Sa away from the Cheung household as Yee Fai's father was married with 2 children then and grandfather regretted his decision), their mutual liking became a very deep love for each other. And their relationship was a very happy one despite all the problems with Yee Fai's greedy sister, and especially Ah Bee's vengeful father who blamed Yee Fai's grandfather for the death of his beloved wife decades ago. But Ah Bee never blamed them, and wanted to go on with Yee Fai. Somehow Yee Fai chickened out, probably his ego was hurt when he realised his own sister had borrowed $6m from Ah Bee and unable to face Ah Bee and her father, he pushed her to Cheng Long, Ah Bee very rich best friend who was secretly in love with Ah Bee. At the meantime, Yee Fai moved on and fell for the serious but actually very nice Sam Yuet and vice versa. And when they almost started their relationship, news came Ah Bee was pregnant and suffering from cancer. And this being not tragic enough, Cheng Long was seeing another woman and accused Ah Bee of still loving Yee Fai, which is true but not entirely. In the end, Ah Bee secretly went to Shanghai and met up with Sam Yuet to use traditional Chinese medicine to try and cure her illness in a bid to save her own life and preserve her baby's life. When Yee Fai knew and confronted an unrepentant Cheng Long, Yee Fai blamed himself for pushing Ah Bee to such a miserable life. At that moment, the relationship between Sam Yuet and Ah Bee was halted, and when Ah Bee wanted to jump into the river, Yee Fai jumped with her, causing Sam Yuet to doubt Yee Fai's love for her. In the end, Ah Bee became so dependant on Yee Fai that she was willing to forgo medicine (since she lost he baby there was nothing for her left) and used her life to win back Yee Fai's love. No I shouldn't say win back his love because it wasn't that. The truth is Ah Bee did what she did for a very simple reason; she felt insecure and Yee Fai seemed to be the only secure thing, the person she can depend on and hold on. When she was sick she put her entire hope in the hope that the baby will become a human being and when the baby was gone, she put her entire hope on Yee Fai, hoping and then foolishly using her life to ensure something like Yee Fai's presence wouldn't change. Yee Fai went along with it out of sheer desperation and was forced to propose to Ah Bee so that she will then seek treatment. Sam Yuet couldn't stop Yee Fai as she knew love isn't everything. But then when Ah Bee was kidnapped along with Kao Kao in a bus by Kao Kao's vengeful ex-boyfriend, Ah Bee helped deliver Kao Kao's baby and suddenly her life had purpose again. Life must be appreciated, more so when grandfather Cheung had tried to talk some sense into her. In the end, Ah Bee was able to let go of her pain and became very good friends with Yee Fai whilst Yee Fai could now be free form his guilty conscience and be with Sam Yuet. In the end, love isn't everything.
Seriously, Yee Fai Loves Who Ah?
Many would argue Sam Yuet, and Ah Bee was only a guilt factor. It would seem that way with Yee Fai and Sam Yuet looking very reluctant when Ah Bee was in trouble. The thing is this series spent 80% of its time establishing the relationship between Ah Bee and Sam Yuet and perhaps 5% of time on Sam Yuet and Yee Fai, I could not agree with the general opinion. I feel too much for Yee Fai and Ah Bee's relationship and in many ways what Yee Fai did would in a way suggest he still loves Ah Bee, deeper than he would acknowledge.
You see, when he knew Ah Bee was in trouble, he was the first to confront Cheng Long, when she wanted to jump, he jumped with her without a question or a doubt, when she refused to take her medication and he knew it when she forces him to marry her first, he proposed. In away Yee Fai is those type that action first, explanation later. But in a way I don't think so. Yee Fai loves Sam Yuet, no doubt but he is in love with Ah Bee. He admires Ah Bee, many many times he said so, from the time he tearfully clapped for her when she presented her designs in a fashion show to saying "Ah Bee, you're so smart" when she helped deliver Kao Kao's child. You could see his admiration and the only reason he left was not because Ah Bee didn't love her, she was too good for him and he knows it. He feels like a pariah next to her and he was unable to let go of that sub standard feeling of his, that he let her go, thinking it's for the best, when it's for the worst. When he knew what she went through, he immediately took action to rectify the damage. Is that guilt or love? It's a thin line. This is how I see it; He loves Ah Bee but somehow you can't always end up with the person you love and so Sam Yuet is like a replacement, but he loves Sam Yuet too but not as deeply. Whilst his love for Ah Bee was difficult and often suffering and his love for Sam Yuet is very easy going, somehow I kinda suspect in his heart there will always be Ah Bee. I like to think that way. You can never stop loving your first real love. What you let go though you can't go back and retrieve it not when you're bound to someone new.
Of course a simpler view would be it's guilt.
So what's the ending?
Quite obviously they all became great friends. Yee Fai and Sam Yuet became lovers (as he gently stroked her hand) whilst Ah Bee is like the former girlfriend turned best of friend. She may say she wants to get Ah Fai back but she was only joking. The beauty of the ending is life isn't always fair, the heroine will not always score with the hero, but nevertheless life goes on, and sometimes when you let go of the painful past, the future is bright and wonderful, more so when you have people who care about you. Ah Bee was destructive and hurt herself a lot but in the process she only hurt the people who loved her, like Ah Fai, her father and of course grandpa Cheong. So I guess the ending is a perfect ending; the ability to let go and live on, that's the real philosophy of what I would term as trial and error of life.
The Ah Bee Factor
The real reason why I absolutely love this series is because of one character, Ah Bee. From the moment she appeared to her very last scene, she was my favourite character, and one of my most favourite character in all the series I have watched. This is one very strongly written female character and the funny thing is she is not so strong as one would see it and yet not as weak as most TVB series' female characters are.
For example, take this character of Ah Bee and compare it with Wong Yoke Cham, played by the same actress in a disastrous series, Seven Sisters. The storylines are similar, the characters even similar, cancer and all, except for marriage, suicide and babies of course. Wong Yoke Cham is a happy go lucky character, totally immature but a nice girl. But somehow even with cancer and in the end death of this character, I feel nothing for her but annoyed because the character was so darn wrong! The series is about 7 sisters, and we have this "8th sister", totally out of place. And her character is so dependant on the man, you feel like slapping her.
Ah Bee is different. She is feminine, very cute, very pretty, very rich but absolutely humble and polite, very decisive and isn't those that is dependant on anyone at all. She is independent and she is strong, even when she was faced with so many objections to her relationship with Yee Fai and in the end, her cancer. She went on with her life, optimistic and bearing no grudges. But when she realised she had cancer and she was pregnant as well, she wanted the child. More so when Cheng Long who was her best friend for years who when married to her, became an unreasonable jerk, she put all her hopes and dreams on the baby, even though she knew she will die if she doesn't seek treatment. But in a way she wanted to give this child to her lonely father, whom she forgave after she found out about her illness. In silence, she suffered the many taunts and insults from Cheng Long, in sweet silence which is actually silent despair, she shouldered all her problems on her tiny shoulders and went to Shanghai, not telling anybody and begging Sam Yuet to keep this secret. She had problems she could not reveal, and nobody was listening anyway. In the entire series, you'll realise one very obvious thing; her father knowing what's best for her destroyed her relationship with Yee Fai, Yee Fai knowing what's best for her left her. These two men whom she loved decides for her, and yet Ah Bee knows what she wants but nobody is listening at all. She was pushed into a marriage from hell, thanks in part to her father who wanted to save his dying business, but largely by Yee Fai. I emphatise with her difficulties and it is very heart wrenching to watch her as sh stood by the railings, crying and ready to end her life by jum;ing into the river. What she said summed up her predicament;
"The man that I love wouldn't leave with me, when I have done so many things for him. The man I married cheated on me, even when I was ready to accept my fate. My father pushed me into this marriage. I have cancer. I have never smoked, I don't drink alcohol, I have never done anything against my conscience, I have always been a good person. Why is this happening to me? What have I done wrong? Nobody cares about me anymore."
When she jumped, Yee Fai jumped too. Frankly speaking, my eyes was teary by then. It was a dramatic moment, and the moment of truth. She spoke of all her unhappiness and I feel for her. Because Ah Bee was a happy go lucky girl and there she was, crying about the injustice of her life. And I blame it all on Yee Fai. It's his fault. If he had been man enough to just take her away, or just let go of his ego about those borrowed money, be a man and face her old man and love her like she should be loved, she wouldn't have been in this mess. I feel in the entire series Ah Bee was faultless.And you may wonder, why Yee Fai jumped. Did he still love her? Or was it guilt? The ending indicated guilt because in the end he was with Sam Yuet. But I would argue otherwise. You don't jump into a river after a former lover whom you loved much too much simply because of guilt. Yee Fai still loved her after all their love affair was intense and they parted ways not because one party didn't love the other anymore but because one party loved the other so much he had to give her up thinking it was the best for her.
Then Ah Bee became worse and worse, emotionally. She became dependant on Yee Fai. At this point, many fans of the series simply hated Ah Bee for becoming so cold and calculative, almost destroying Yee Fai and Sam Yuet's relationship. I disagree. I could understand why she became like that, because she had lost her baby in one unfortunate incident thanks to Kao Kao.
Note : Who is Kao Kao you may ask. Well, I took her out of the narration because it wouldn't look right. Anyway Kao Kao is a wild child who seduced the innocent Yat Siew who is the half brother of Yee Fai whose father had a brief but intense affair with a woman named Tong Lai Sa who was chased away by Yee Fai's grandfather for the sake of Yee Fai and his mother) for his money but when she could run away with the money together with her bad boyfriend and her unborn child, she decided not to. She chose a man who respects her and she gave the money back to Yat Siew and their relationship was brought to a higher level until well, Ah Bee lost her baby and most blamed her. She began to realise she was really bad and began to sincerely change. When Yat Siew agreed to marry her even when she was pregnant with another man's child, she cried buckets because she not only found a good man for herself, she found a good father for her unborn child as well as understanding grandparents. It's like she has her very own family. Then that kidnapping happened on her wedding day but she was saved. In the end she became a happy couple with Yat Siew and really, really funny, as all happy couple goes, BOTH of them gained loads of weight and looks so much settled into married life.
Ah Bee had lost her only reason for living and with so many unhappiness bottling up in her, finally it was like a volcanic eruption, you can't stop it. It doesn't help when Yee Fai's entire family, those ungrateful gits tried to worm their way into stopping Yee Fai from seeing her. It's just not fair to her. Of course Sum Yuet deserved some happiness too but Sum Yuet is strong. Ah Bee at that moment is not and to do what Yee Fai's family did, it was very insensitive. Imagine you're Ah Bee, you're willing to gamble your life, stop taking your medicine and suffering each night so that you could have Yee Fai by your side, as you thought that when you're ok, Yee Fai is gone for good. And yet Yee Fai wasn't there at that moment and you see his family, wouldn't you think "Hey! I am dying here, and he wants to avoid me! Even giving up my life won't make him stay!"? Wouldn't you turn more stubborn and determined? When Yee Fai knew about her refusal to take her medicine, he tearfully begged her what he should do to save her life? Funny, because her life is in his hands and she tearfully screamed "You go to Milan with me and marry me!" and after much thought, he proposed to her on Kao Kao's wedding day. By that time Ah Bee had second thoughts.
You see Ah Bee always had this great relationship with the one really good man in this series, grandfather Cheung who treats her like his granddaughter. When he found out Ah Bee changed, he went to her offering some advice. But all Ah Bee could do was cry and chase him away when he tore up her in vitro scan of her now miscarriaged baby. He told Ah Bee harshly to move on, to live on, life is worth living, everybody cares about her. But Ah Bee was beyond consolation, she was distraught and her only way of clinging to life is by clinging on Yee Fai. Dejectedly grandfather Cheung left but Ah Bee was actually listening. When she held Kao Kao's child in her hands she realised the joy of life. She understood the wonders of life. She also knew she was the thorn in the relationship between Sam Yuet and Yee Fai. She was able to let go of the memory of her dead child and happily, she became the old Ah Bee again.
The thing is, this is the Ah Bee that I like. I absolutely love this character. She is such a good and likeable person, she was too good for Yee Fai, she is absolutely a cut above Ching Lung. I was hoping to see her ended up with some really nice guy who deserves her but the real ending is good enough for me. I like the idea of her being her old self, with or without a man. One thing though; Yee Fai doesn't deserve Ah Bee at all. She's too good for him.
Though she may be unreasonable towards the end, just remember one very useful information;
IT'S YEE FAI'S FAULT!
Why blame Yee Fai?
Like I explained above, he was the weak link in the relationship between Ching Lung, Ah Bee and himself. He wasn't strong enough to withstand criticisms by Ah Bee's annoying father and more importantly he couldn't let go of his own ego. It's not guilt but ego. He's a man, he's poor, his sister owes Ah Bee loads of money and Ah Bee to her father's disagreement lent him money, without any question asked. But he couldn't live with that. Ala Seven Sisters, he hoped to earn money, pay off the debt, be somebody and then marry Ah Bee. But what he didn't understand was Ah Bee didn't mind at all. She loved him for who he was and not because of everything else. In this sense Ah Bee was much stronger and totally blameless when Yee Fai literally pushed her to accept Ching Lung's proposal. He left her broken hearted again and again and again. When Ching Lung turned into the bastard git he was, and Ah Bee was suffering silently, shedding tears of pain but yet couldn't talk to anybody about it, and eventhough at this point of time Ah Bee sees Yee Fai as a very good friend (and Yee Fai saw her as someone as close as well since he is very gentle with her), it was Yee Fai's fault. I hated Yee Fai for his indecisiveness and I hated him for making decisions for Ah Bee, like all other men in her life. What about her? He didn't care because he felt small next to her. If he can't withstand such tests, he clearly didn't deserve Ah Bee.
The Classification of the Types of People
This series has some very interesting variety of men.
Let's see, we have nice guys and bad guys. Fine. But to elaborate on it;
We have a coward in the form of Yee Fai, the ultimate jerk case in the form of Ching Lung, the really vindictive and very narrow minded guy in the form of Ah Bee's father, we have the wise and all knowing grandfather Cheung, the small time hypocrite that is Yee Fai's father, the strict and by the book guy that is Sam Yuet's father and of course, we have the really nice but rather innocent guy that is Yee Fai's half brother, and also, the love sick one who quite amazingly became love sick for another in a very short time (Ma Da).
Then we have all kinds of fathers as well. Like strict father, petty father, small man kind of father which means undignified and no respect whatsoever, no nonsense but good father (Grandpa Cheung) and of course the authoritative father.
We also have a very compartmentalised characterisations of women. Aren't a step back in feminist movement so don't worry, no prostitutes or suffering wives. We have instead strong silent woman (Sam Yuet), gentle soft spoken but determined woman (Ah Bee), bad to the core but could be saved type of woman (Kao Kao), couldn't care less type (Lai Sa) and of course, useless bum who actually was misunderstood so she is actually a not so useless bum (Yee Fai's sister).
What interesting classification of characters though, and each has their own life, love, personality, pain and of course specially catered endings.
The Usual Pre Marital Sex Stuff
Talking about Yat Siew, it's very disappointing to watch this rather lovable character, when he ended up with the wild Kao Kao. I don't like Kao Kao, but I hated it to watch nice guy always ends up with wild girl turn nice girl. Why can't he just have a nice girl? If Kao Kao had run away with the money he voluntarily gave her, I would say he deserves to be cheated. But then their ending was really funny and I admit, a good one. He marries Kao Kao, becomes the father to her child, and a few years later, they were both happily married and very plump. The scene where they both had a walk and then say down to drink soft drinks from the bottle is so funny. I guess this is what they mean by happily married.
My Favourite Bits
Every scene where's there's Ah Bee alone, any man or specifically with Roger Kwok, all of these are my favourites. But my most favourite bits of all is
1. That gentle first kiss during the rain in the phone booth when Yee Fai impulsively kissed Ah Bee. I thought that was the most gentle and yet passionate and loving I have ever seen on Chinese TV.
2. The one where Ah Bee and Yee Fai was in the kitchen and Ah Bee was washing the pig's stomach (and very gross looking too) and there Yee Fai was standing behind her, holding her arms sideways and pretending they were Jack and Rose and before you say WHO? let me just write one word;
TITANIC. Cue the music and Celine Dion's MY HEART WILLLLLLL GOOOOOO ONNNNNNNN.
3. When Ah Bee jumped into the river, and Yee Fai followed her.
4. When Ah Bee confronted Sam Yuet about Yee Fai and also when grandpa Cheung confronted Ah Bee about again Yee Fai and her miscarriaged baby.
My Not So Favourite Bits
I am bored with Kao Kao. Even her name sounds sordid. I just don't understand why nice guys like Yat Siew must always fall for the worst kind? Of course she redeemed herself, very touching but that Yat Siew was just too stupid. Don't understand.
Most Favourite Character
Ah Bee, the only reason why this series I watched and would gladly watch again and why the series was renamed Ah Bee series by my family. Her character can affect you in all levels and I shall explain why in full details right down to her hair.
She is gentle, she is kind, she is cute and most important of all, she is strong when she had to be. She can be very determined too and she could see beyond herself. there's no one shred of arrogance in her and she is as elegant as she is sophisticated. She knows what's right and she knows what's wrong. When she became stubborn and became hateful, I felt sad for her because I understood why she became the way she became. No one should go through what she went through with Ching Lung. She I believe is one of the most best written and characterised as well as multi layered female character I have seen in years. Even Sam Yuet was a good female character and I do like Sam Yuet. But I supported Ah Bee, not for the race for Yee Fai's love but for the fact she appeared in every single scene, happily. When towards the end she looked sad, crying herself to sleep and not daring to say a word when Ching Lung was insulting her, I felt her sadness. She attacked my every emotional sense, she made me laugh, she made me cry and she made me realise when you have to let go, learn to let go. This is one female character I really like and I believe is a good character to analyse and decipher.
Most Hated Character
Frankly all the men in Ah Bee's life, except Grandpa Cheung. It's between Yee Fai and Ching Lung. In case you go "WHAT? YEE FAI MOOOOST HATED?" and I shall say "YA!" Why? I explained already but nah, I hate Ching Lung more. If after watching Love Is Beautiful you feel like fly kicking that useless Emperor played so brilliantly by Eddie Cheung, believe me Ching Lung is one character you would want to commit murder on. No, make that fly kicking, hand twisting, 360 degrees wrap around with rope and throw him into shark infested sea. That wouldn't even come close what he deserves for how he (mis)treated poor Ah Bee. I mean Ah Bee learnt to appreciate him because he treated her well and yet his own stupid jealousy made it as if she was the one who broke the marriage. The worst part? When Ah Bee was in the hospital having lost her baby and he knew she had cancer, he didn't even look sorry. He gave her a cheque and made a speech like as if HE WAS THE VICTIM! I mean wow! What a man! What a jerk of a man, twisting the story!! Poor Ah Bee.
Least Favourite Character
In some ways Yee Fai, for being such a coward but then when he proposed out of desperation to save Ah Bee I thought that was brilliant you know. Somehow Ah Bee whose own life was going downhill, and she was solely responsible for her own live could somehow transfer the responsibility to decide whether she lives or not to Yee Fai. Of course Yee Fai panicked but he knew she had to live. Again I believe this was because he loved her, pure and simple. You may ask, who does Yee Fai actually truly madly deeply loved? I stand by my analysis. But let's recap;
1. He jumped into the river when she jumped, without hesitation because he wanted to save her and so strong was his desire for her to live, he was willing to gamble his own live away.
2. He was with her through every step when she was sick, to the detriment of his relationship with Sam Yuet who was very understanding, a good woman.
3. He begged her when he knew she was still sick because she didn't have the will to live. He became the person to decide whether she lives ot dies. And he proposed because he wanted her to live.
Isn't all these indication of love, something beyond mere guilt?
And Sam Yuet being such a good woman, she backed out from the triangle love when Ah Bee begged her to do so, because Ah Bee realised by the rate she was going she was going to die soon, so she said;
"Let me have Yee Fai for the time I am still alive and then you can have him back". Of course at this time Ah Bee said hurtful words, and she couldn't understand why Sam Yuet could lead such a happy normal life whilst Ah Bee was miserable. But in times opf desperation, people do tend to be a bit unreasonable. Again, I can't blame her. But good of Sam Yuet for what she did.
Most Unnecessary Character
Kao Kao. Ok, so her story is important, there's a lesson to be learn but really too much emotion already, and she doesn't help in giving this story any credibility except cliché. I guess an experienced woman do teach a virgin boy loads of stuff and love could arise from lust and casual one night stand. Ok ok ok, so in the end she was a nice lady but do have patience to reach that good part because the earlier parts really tested my patience.
Most Boring Character
Yee Fai's dad. Hypocrite, coward, timid but at least he was right about Kao Kao.
I am not sure if I mentioned this anywhere in here but I must say this; I have often came across fans of Charmaine Sheh declaring, Steven Ma has the best chemistry with Charmaine Sheh. I beg to differ. Roger Kwok's chemistry with Charmaine in here is one of the selling point of this series. The way they looked at one another, they looked believably a couple so much in love but so torn apart by many factors. Apart from Sunny Chan, I would say Roger Kwok is Charmaine's best partner. Not even Chilam Cheung comes close. And as usual, the other best chemistry with Charmaine is Wu Fung. Always old men will succumb to her charms though not in a sordid way. Who won't be charmed by her adorable Ah Bee?
Generally good performances by the cast in this series.
One of his best performance ever.
This man has been around for ages and for a man who is reportedly in his 40s, he looks at least a decade younger. He was my first actor-idol and is still one of my favourite TVB actor. In this series, he sports a very long side burn, coloured hair and very young-ish wardrobe, thus making him look young, hip, and very good looking. His performance as Yee Fai who is not a very likeable person at first and really a coward towards the end is simply magnificently flawless. One of his best performance that I have seen. The best is of course his excellent chemistry with Charmaine Sheh, but totally unconvincing with Mellisa Ng. He teases, he joke, he cries, he screams, everything he did in this series amazes me. The best scenes are always shared with Charmaine and his best in my opinion is when he tearfully asked Charmaine's character what he should do to save her life. The sheer desperation in his eyes, as well as the suicide scene was perfectly and flawlessly executed by this actor. I believe his excellent performances, which was like so easy for him for a character that is totally opposite his real quiet and serious self must have encouraged some other weaker actors to perform above the usual standard.
I have always maintained that I like her as a person, but not as an actress. She seems likeable enough, but in her older series, she was always portraying weak characters, those that needed help. Later series and boom! She screams all her lines, her actions seems awfully deliberate and she is acting in a role which she is required to act. Calling her fake would be too much but calling her a sub standard actress wouldn't be too far from the truth. I have never really liked her characters, except for perhaps Miu Yeuk Lan in Flying Fox In Snowy Mountain, where her Miu was weak and yet strong at the same time as well as beautiful and gentle. You can't help but like her Miu.
In this series, I wouldn't call this character her breakthrough performance. Not there yet. But this character of Ah Bee is close enough and frankly speaking Charmaine Sheh totally owns this character and she was the one who made this series such a delight to watch. This character, Ah Bee is like specially written for Charmaine because I like to believe this is Charmaine. I guess from all her interviews I gather that she is a very feminine person, rarely shouts. This is what Ah Bee is. I believe there is plenty of Charmaine Sheh in Ah Bee as I believe Ah Bee is very close to the real counterpart. Of course perhaps Charmaine won't be as stubborn as Ah Bee towards the end of the series but the poise, the beauty, the cuteness, and of course the feminine side of her somehow shines through. He dressing in this series and her hair gives me an impression of a lady, and a very intelligent, understanding and very polite lady. I really like her Ah Bee and her chemistry with Roger Kwok is simply perfect. Whenever they smile, you will smile. Whenever they kiss, you will feel the passion even if the kiss is a bit PG-rated. And certainly whenever Charmaine smiles, the scene just lights up, there is obvious happiness and when she cries, I must admit this is one actress who can cry pitifully. This is not like Country Spirit where she is a cry baby. This series has a character that I supposed rarely cries and when she does, you will feel for her.
Again, I couldn't help but praise Charmaine for making this series such a delight to watch. I really do think her hairstyle suits her perfectly in here and her size is just right. Her dressing though simple, her make up though light and her hair though unadorned, she gives me an impression of a very well mannered lady. And certainly, very few TVB actresses exudes such natural sophistication, some could fake it but very few actually exudes it. In here, Charmaine's Ah Bee is simply elegance personified. I believe this is Charmaine Sheh as close as we could know her if we were to meet her in her own private time.
By the way, I do hope she will stop taking on roles such as those that requires her screaming, kicking, doing big actions and all. I want to see her as lady like since very few is actually feminine and lady like. Those kicking and screaming, can be done by any other actresses. I don't want to see her in cute roles either. The success of Ah Bee is she's not pretending to be cute but due to her likeability, I think of her as cute. This series offers a glimpse of Charmaine's potential in evil roles. I don't mean HSDS kind of evil, I mean Love Is Beautiful - Anne Heung kind of evil because one good thing about Charmaine, she can really stare. Another good thing? Her smile, very real and very genuinely happy. One more good thing? Her ability to cry on cue but it's not those big cries that I like but those small scenes, where she sits silently and her tears streaming down her cheeks, those are her best moments. And the last good thing? She can really kiss. And when I say kiss, I mean gentle kind of kiss, that is affectionate and very intimate without grossing you out.
This series has all that.
Effective and lovely performance. You may ask what is missing, why can't I say excellent? Coming from Charmaine I could say this is her best performance and definitely and excellent one but something is still not quite right. She's a natural in here, no doubt but somehow I believe she could have been much much a better. I am sure no other actresses could have made me cry or laugh with her every antics like she was in this series but somehow her movements remained mechanical, almost timed to the directions of the director though there're one very good scene, where she was running to the airport in a hurry and she was still holding her car keys and if I am not mistaken, her handphone. Certainly looked urgent in that scene. But notice her hands; she doesn't know where to put them which spoils her otherwise excellent performance. Maybe I am just picky but to me, her hands or rather what she didn't know what to do with her hands was distracting me from appreciating her heartfelt performance fully.
I feel she looks a bit too mature for Roger but yet she behaves a bit too child like for her serious character who so happens to be a very good doctor who also lectures. Her Sum Yuet is almost juvenile in her actions and it's really hard to imagine this woman is a lecturer. Ah Bee we know is very young but not this Sum Yuet. But for all my criticism for her character, I think Melissa again did exceptionally well, though her chemistry with Roger is obviously lacking. I think she has great skin, but i don't think of her as pretty or even cute. I find it very odd to see such a mature looking lady acting cute in her scenes with Roger Kwok. But other than that, luckily she doesn't have much scene for someone who is supposed to be one of the leads. But let me say this here for my admiration for her linguistic talent; she can speak good English, wonderful mandarin and good cantonese.
TVB8 host, I have seen this guy often enough to like him. He is a likeable host and to see him acting for the first time (I am not sure if this was his first but certainly my first), was quite a pleasant surprise. He could speak Cantonese, Mandarin, apparently English as well. Very talented man though a bit too fair for my liking. But his acting is the one I like. His plays a big eyed innocent nice guy and he played this character to perfection. I think his best moment and one of the funniest moment was when Chan Kwok Bong's character told him seriously that Roger's character does not want him as a brother, and immediately his eyes widen and hurt and asked "You don't want me as your brother?". I thought that was so funny. I think this guy has potential but don't expect to see him in manly role. But then Chilam took some time before he became manly looking, so who knows?
Kwok Yew Ming
Poor Mr Kwok, typecast in yet another jerk-role. I felt like fly kicking his character each time he appeared. I thought what a nice guy and turned out to be such a jerk. I think this actor is getting increasingly great at playing jerks. Make that first class jerk. Since I could be so emotional I would say his performance was satisfactory and yes, I still hate his character.
Eileen Yew Ying Ying
Stop torturing me with this actress! I mean she's an ok actress but the way she speaks gets on my nerve. So lazy, so boring, so bland, a bit dumb sounding. I simply dislike her character Kao Kao and I simply dislike this actress. No chemistry whatsoever with Derek Lee. Her presence in this series is not necessary at all.
The rest of the cast
Good casting decisions for the older actors, and everybody else gave either credible or above average performance, especially Wu Fung who gave a very dignified performance of a very strong and wise Grandpa Cheung. Check out his scenes with Charmaine and their chemistry simply sparkles!
I was really surprised how well this series turned out to be, even with the usual storyline. I was even more surprised to see so few reviews on this series. I would have expected fans of Charmaine Sheh referring to this series every time a non fan started to insult their goddess but nope, none of those. I could see Country Spirit mentioned in most forums and frankly, I stronly disagree. And there were some who even claimed her best chemistry was with Gordon Lam. Sunny Chan maybe but Gordon or even Steven Ma?? No I don't think so. She had great chemistry with Sunny Chan, no doubt but this series wins because of the intimate and excellent chemistry between Roger and Charmaine which sizzles every time they're on screen. I feel this pairing, though odd somehow worked wonders and I would vote for them as best onscreen couple and best chemistry. Strange how her fans overlooked this series.
And the whole series was very emotionally affective. My emotions were drained towards the end but it was a happy end. Get ready with your tissues.
So I guess my rating for this series is entirely justified. Fans of Charmaine Sheh will definitely want to watch this to see the potential of this actress often criticised as a bad actress. Fans of Roger Kwok may want to watch this as well. Non-fans of either actors would certainly want to watch this series for the sheer entertainment of it. I highly recommend this one. Truly a rare gem.
The themesong, sung by Flora Chan and one more I can't remember, absolutely a horrible song. Totally all wrong. How come quality of themesongs these days so drastically dropped to such I don't know, gibberish music?
And did you see that TVB calender pic where it featured Charmaine and Roger? Ohhhh, that picture, very "wet" and sizzling too! They do look like a cute couple. Check out any of Charmaine's fansite and you will find that oh so cute picture. But be ready to be shocked.
Interesting Other Stuff
You may want to check out K-100 where the following was discussed:-
Question : Are you a chinese medicine type of person or western medicine type of person? (Chinese medicine means a person who takes life a bit slow as medicine needs to be boiled and that takes time whilst western medicine one pop of the antibiotics means leading a fast life, without really stopping to look around). The answers were interesting. By the way not exact transcription, so sue me.
Charmaine : My character Ah Bee is the chinese medicine type. She prefers to know someone, take time to bond and create a relationship, she stops and looks around. But I am the opposite. I am the western medicine type, because being in this business I learn I need to be fast in everything, so I really do not stop to look around.
Roger : My character Yee Fai is the western medicine type, everything must be fast, he never stops. But I am the opposite. I am the Chinese medicine type, I prefer to take things slowly, one at a time, to know things better.
Very interesting answers.
Interesting Plot Description
I actually wrote a review for this series before I wrote this one but lost my disk and then voila, showed up again! Though I stand by the quality of my review above, I must admit the plot description below is more complete and more coherent. Confused with the story above? Try the one below.
We have one workaholic who is a terrible boss and a top salesman who has sidelines to earn extra income named Yee Fai and a young pretty girl, always very well dressed in a salary that Yee Fai suspects can never cover her taste for branded goods who became his secretary to hilarious results. Neither got off in the right foot, but in the end Ah Bee's charm won over Yee Fai, especially when she went all out to help Yee Fai in his mission to track down his father's former lover, who was heavily pregnant when Yee Fai's grandfather kicked her out of his already married son's life to protect the unity of a family. Grandpa Cheung was in coma and before he went into coma he begged to see that woman once again called To Lai Sa and that was the beginning of the whol chain of events. Yee Fai went to China with Ah Bee and met with an extra helpful and exceedingly friendly chef named Yat Siew who himself went all out to help Yee Fai for nothing in return and the funny thing was, as they bonded as friends, each realised Ah Fai was looking into his own half brother's eyes and vice versa. When Yee Fai found To Lai Sa, they returned to Hong Kong to see a jubilant grandpa Cheung who at last could breath freely again after years being chained by his guilt for turning the woman away. To Lai Sa couldn't bring herself to forgive Fai's father who is a coward that nobody respects and she warned her son to get way from the family, in a nice way but Yat Siew couldn't because for once, he has a brother, a father, a sister and a grandfather. To him this is reunion, not a nightmare and he embraced his new found family wholeheartedly, as Yee Fai did.
At about the same time, Yee Fai's relationship with Ah Bee after much adventures and funny incidents began to blossom and one kiss in the rain in the telephone booth sealed a promise of passion and love. Ah Bee was readily accepted by the Cheung family as everybody liked her sunny disposition, her honesty and he gentleness, especially Grandpa Cheung who began to see her as her own granddaughter, and Ah Bee has the greatest respect for Grandpa Cheung. For Ah Bee, love is never questioning anything and whenever Yee Fai needed her, there she was without any question and without any hesitation. For Yee Fai, he has never been more relaxed. Until one day a rift appeared in their relationship.
Yee Fai suspected Ah Bee was not just a secretary and when he saw her sitting in the bosses' car, he deduced she was the only child of the boss. But he didn't really care because he loved her because of her and not because of money. Then one day he was sacked when his part time jobs was exposed and Ah Bee was accused of exposing him, that she was a spy. Ah Bee was of course hurt and after some time Yee Fai began to realise he may have been too rash and too harsh on her. But it was Ah Bee who tried to mend the relationship because she thinks Yee Fai is worth all the trouble and once again they rekindled their love, stronger than ever.
Then again a rift appeared, far more stronger.
Ah Bee's father opposed to Yee Fai when he realised Yee Fai was the grandchild of Grandpa Cheung, a famed Chinese herbalist/Sinseh who turned away his dying wife years before not because Grandpa Cheung did not want to treat her for the lack of money but because there was nothing more he could do. But Ah Bee's father blamed Grandpa Cheung and warned Ah Bee to leave Yee Fai and belittled Yee Fai in every way.
Things wouldn't have been any bad if not for the return of Ah Fai's big sister, who came back a gambleholic. She was so much in debt Yee Fai had no choice but to consider accepting Ah Bee's father's monetary proposal, but then Ah Bee was understanding enough to help trick her father into believing Ah Fai had left her but in real truth they were still very much together. Again she believed never to question but only to give. When her father found out he was naturally mad but Ah Bee brushed it all aside by simply saying "If you let me be with Ah Fai, you will have me as your daughter, but if you don't, you will lose me. Please daddy", in no uncertain terms and so he reluctantly agreed.
And so Yee Fai and Ah Bee's relationship reached the highest point, they were very much in love, and Ah Bee did all she could to assist Ah Fai when he opened his own business, and she did not even consider going back to school when in actual fact she was an award winning student in fashion design. In Ah Fai's eyes, she didn't quite achieve much and when her father reminded him that Ah Fai was beneath Ah Bee, Ah Fai secretly went to see Ah Bee at the fashion show without her knowledge and hid amongst the crowd. He soon realised that her father was right and he wept as he clapped, overjoyed by the fact such a perfect woman could be his, and very proud of Ah Bee.
And then the relationship goes downhill.
Ah Bee's father was actually insulting Yee Fai without Ah Bee's knowledge, and thus creating a belief in Yee Fai's mind that he is not good enough for her. When Ching Lung came back who is even richer than Ah Bee's father who professes he loves Ah Bee, Ah Fai saw in Ching Lung a competition that he could never compete with. Things wouldn't have been so bad if Ah Fai's sister didn't once again ran into huge debts. Ah Bee secretly sold her designs and gave the money to Ah Fai's sister and when Yee Fai found out, he realised his worst fear has come true. There was no way he could ever go out with Ah Bee and never be reminded that she has paid so much money to his family. He felt ashamed of himself and his sister, he felt he owed her too much and to avoid her from being subjected to ridicules of having a useless boyfriend, he decided to break off the relationship, pay off the debt and then marry Ah Bee ala Seven Sisters. So he worked even harder, hoping to win the sole distribution right of a certain Chinese medicine but the condition of the creator, Tit To who is a friend of To Lai Sa that he must study Chinese medicine for a year. When he realised he could not face Ah Bee, he took the challenge. So he ran away to China, leaving not even a message to Ah Bee who was understandably angered by his careless treatment of her. She was determined to find him and demand an explanation.
In China Fai befriended his brother's other "family", Lai Sa who was Yat Siew's mum and Sam Yuet , who is also a brilliant doctor specialising in the Chinese medicine field like her father, but could never live up to her father's expectation.
But things could never work out smoothly as expected. Ah Bee reached Yee Fai and after some cold treatments, tears and confessions, they were back together again but this time a final rift appeared that broke them apart forever.
Ah Bee's father was seriously in debt and his business was failing. Only a marriage between Ah Bee and Ching Lung could have saved his business and her father selfishly pushed Ah Bee into the marriage but Ah Bee resisted. She'd rather her father go bankrupt than she married a man she didn't love because life could be far simpler, riches meant nothing to her. At this point this may be a selfish act by Ah Bee but in actual fact it is noble. She wouldn't let herself be driven by her father's greed and desperation and she has promised her father she will take care of him since she is a brilliant designer, she can work. But it was Yee Fai's undoing, who felt Ching Lung was a better candidate for Ah Bee, whom he felt could give Ah Bee real happiness. He pushed Ah Bee to Ching Lung and Ah Bee was one who will never beg for something in return. She realised Yee Fai and her relationship was at and end, and she accepted the inevitable; they can only be the best of friends, but never husband and wife. And so she married Ching Lung whom she learned to love but to disastrous results.
At the meantime, Yee Fai was still staying in China and his friendship with Sam Yuet blossomed after some initial misunderstanding when she rejected the advances of her old boyfriend, Ma Da whom she felt was suffocating her by his over reliance on her. When that settled she began to see Ah Fai in a new light who had helped Ma Da and Yee Fai began to realise she wasn't as cold as she put herself to be. She began to open up emotionally. And slowly they began to fall in love when Yee Fai could finally let go of his love for Ah Bee, whom he saw as a happily married woman and he could safely learn to love again, this time another when he was sure Ah Bee was happy.
But Ah Bee wasn't happy when Ching Lung began accusing her affection for Yee Fai was beyond just friendship when in truth Ah Bee may forever love Yee Fai since he was her first true love but she has accepted Ching Lung as her husband, someone she would be with for te rest of her life. She stopped talking to her father who tried his best to win back his daughter's affection. In was a lonely marriage when the accusations turned nasty and Ah Bee soon confessed to her husband tearfully, "I did love you, and you have indeed given me happiness once before but no longer". Their relationship turned sour when Ching Lung had an affair with his ex girlfriend and all Ah Bee could do was to silently accept this betrayal as nothing serious as she chose to marry him and so she would stick by him.
And then she became pregnant. She was overcome with joy and for once she didn't care about his infidelity until she was diagnosed with liver cancer. Her whole world crashed, she would have to abort her child but she wanted advice. She tried talking to her husband but he was so filled with jealousy and so full of himself he didn't bother to listen. She couldn't tell her father as she worried it might affect him though in the process she learned to forgive her father. She tried to tell Yee Fai but he was too busy with his flourishing business and because he was so convinced Ah Bee was happily married. The only man who saw through Ah Bee's fake happiness and directly into her sad eyes was Grandpa Cheung but he didn't know Ah Bee was sick, but once advised Ah Bee to learn to let go, in his gentle voice. And so Ah Bee decided, she may have lost her husband, her lover, and everything but she is determined to hold on to her one hope in life, her child, the only reason why she is still living. She has decided to seek treatment in China and will die giving birth to the child who will accompany her father when she is gone. Only Sam Yuet knew and she couldn't tell Yee Fai until Yee Fai saw Ah Bee in China. All hell broke loose.
Ching Lung phoned Yee Fai and demanded to know where Ah Bee was when he didn't know until he saw Ah Bee with his own eyes. Ching Lung came to China and instead of offering words of comfort, he gave Ah Bee a cheque and demanded for a divorce and just walked away. Ah Bee silently cried but it was Yee Fai who demanded for an explanation and Ching Lung conveniently imposed upon Yee Fai the responsibilities towards Ah Bee unhappiness, that Ah Fai was the cause because she never stopped loving him and he let go of her, because he was a coward. Sam Yuet disagreed but realise from that moment on she was losing Yee Fai who was wrecked with guilt, thinking Ah Bee was in the hands of a good man when he had pushed her to the end of the road. He begged Ah Bee to let go of the child, but Ah Bee refused. She was determined and she was happy.
Then tragedy struck.
Ah Bee lost her baby when she was pushed against the edge of a table by an equally pregnant Kao Kao, the conniving girlfriend of Yat Siew when she was pursued by her mad ex boyfriend. Ah Bee couldn't believe her whole world could crash but it did and she wasn't listening anymore. She was inconsolable and Yee Fai tried his best to console her, even to the chagrin of Sam Yuet who was still understanding enough to understand and accept that her jealousy isn't Yee Fai's paramount concern at that moment in time. But Ah Bee refused to listen and one day she disappeared from the hospital.
Everybody went in search of Ah Bee and found her standing by the edge of the bridge, ready to jump to her death. Yee Fai begged Ah Bee to listen to reason, to come back and there finally Ah Bee realised she has been giving so much to others and she never questioned that and yet in the end she had nothing. She felt she didn't deserve her illness and couldn't understand what she did wrong and tearfully confessed she gave so much and received nothing in return. Yee Fai begged and begged and when she jumped, without any hesitation and to the horror of Sam Yuet he jumped along, determined to save her or die together. Sam Yuet was sick with worry that Yee Fai was hurt and when she found him wet and crouching over an unconscious Ah Bee, he shouted at her to get help and that was when she realised she can never compete with Ah Bee for Yee Fai's affection.
But then she couldn't let go because she loved him and she knew Yee Fai was wrecked with guilt, not love. But then Ah Bee became very dependant of Yee Fai, convinced he would never leave her, he would be with her through the illness. She was showing signs of improvement until she saw Yee Fai and Sam Yuet still together and that was when she took a gamble; her life for the temporary love of Yee Fai. She told Sam Yuet that, that Sam Yuet could have Yee Fai after her death, just stop being with him for the moment. Sam Yuet couldn't believe what she was hearing but what a good woman when she walked away, letting Ah Bee have her way. Ah Bee was slowly dying and she was always in pain. When Yee Fai realised the truth, he tearfully begged Ah Bee, begging her to choose life and Ah Bee gave him one condition; marry me and live with me in Italy and I'll go through the treatment. Yee Fai was desperate but he couldn't say yes.
When at the wedding of Yat Siew and Kao Kao, everybody was tense and everybody was consoling Sam Yuet who bravely stood there, smiling and yet crying when Yee Fai announced that he and Ah Bee will marry. Ah Bee was overcame with joy but she was reminded by a visit by Grandpa Cheung who not only tore up the only picture of her child in her womb, but scolded her to learn to let go, to choose life, to be the old Ah Bee that he once knew, the selfless Ah Bee. Ah Bee tearfully chased Grandpa Cheung away and yet when she was hugging Yee Fai, Grandpa Cheung's words was at the back of her mind. As she sat in the van with Yee Fai they were kidnapped by Kao Kao's former boyfriend together with Kao Kao and Yee Fai had to drive the car. But Kao Kao suddenly was about to give birth and Ah Bee could not deliver the child because she felt she couldn't when Sam Yuet screamed "You can do it!". And so she did, Kao Kao giving birth to a healthy baby boy and as Ah Bee held the child in her arms she felt like she had her child again. Yee Fai looked at Ah Bee admiringly, telling her " You're so smart" that suddenly Ah Bee saw a reason for living. She was able to let go of her pain for the loss of her child and she could see held in her hand a precious life she had helped deliver. In a way she held life in her arms and that life was hers.
In the end Ah Bee decided to let go of Yee Fai, she loved him once but the only reason she was holding on to him was because she thought she had nothing after the loss of her child when she had so much more. She gave Yee Fai and Sam Yuet her blessings and sometime later went traveling with Sam YUet and return as the old Ah Bee, cured, optimistic and ever so giving. And in the end, Yee Fai and Sam Yuet was happily in love and Ah Bee became their confidant and their new best friend.