"Enjoyable, thought provoking and at times rather intelligent. Just ignore the obvious loop holes and suspend your logic and common sense."
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
I do feel the English title is a bit vain. Fancy? Did they mean Fantasy or really Fancy? What's so fancy in the realm of fancy?
No. Of Episodes
Kwong Wa - Lee Yuen
Shirley Yeung - Pui Chui Wan
Suet Lei - Madam Cheng
Terry Fan Siu Wong- Cheng Ngao Kam
Marco Ngai - the Duke, Yeung Chung
Loh Hoi Pang - Uncle Hoi
In short, a story about a young scholar/judge/gentleman who by an accident became a deity/immortal upon studying the How To book called Yuen Tin King. And plenty of love stories of all kind.
Lee Yuen is a judge in a small town who is not particularly ambitious. Aided by his ever faithful servant, Cheng Ngao Kam whom he treats him as his brother, life for Lee Yuen is pretty uneventful. Then many incidents happened, and with the appearance of his young immature fiancee, Miss Pui (who is supposed to be as beautiful as a goddess) who is actually the only daughter of a powerful secretary of state (something like that), things became very eventful for Lee Yuen. Very often he stumbled upon many individuals who did all sorts of things because of greed, hatred and love that often he consulted a book called Yuen Tin King which often gave answers to perplexing questions about life. From this book and the passages within, Lee Yuen and friends often learned the final art of philosophy about life and more importantly, the ability to see through spells cast by others and an ability to cast some spells themselves. Nobody knew what is the origin of this book but overtime, Lee Yuen who never believed in Gods, spirits and demons began to believe the possiblities that the book showed him. After some time and after solving many problems, Lee Yuen himself was confronted by a very personal problem. His fiancee, Miss Pui was beginning to doubt the depth of love they have for one another, and she began to questioned are they meant to be together and do they have such a fate to be husband and wife. Lee Yuen could not give an honest answer and so he consulted the book. Suddenly he became invinsible and he was transported to various parts of China to see for himself the answer to Miss Pui's question. He saw many types of love, often unselfish and often he himself could not understand the answer. He saw a couple who was so devoted to one another, they could di together, a prostitute who fell in love with a poor lamp oil seller, a beautiful blind girl torn between her love for a poor man who sacrificed many things to take her to see a doctor and the doctor who sacrificed much more to heal her eyes, and at last Lee Yuen confronted his own problem. At all these times he discovered he had the ability to help these people though he could not be seen. Only when he saw a very grown up and mature Miss Pui and an older Cheng Ngao Kam he became to realise this out of body experience of his is irreversible as he has indeed became a deity/immortal.
He saw his own lifeless body in perpertual coma, he saw how Miss Pui took care of him for seven long years and how she was pressured by her father to marry and to abandon Lee Yuen. She could not because she has yet to receive an answer to her question and she and Ngao Kam believed that Lee Yuen will return. Lee Yuen realised perhaps the answer that he was seeking was negative, at least to him and Miss Pui but things were different between Ngao Kam and Miss Pui, where the two of them over the years has developed a relationship closer than just friends but forbidden by the society because one is a lowly servant and the other a woman engaged to another.
Lee Yuen decided to do something about this problem about fate and destiny. He made sure his lifeless body was burnt and therefore destroyed though Miss Pui's eyes was blinded as a result of the fire. When her eyes was healed by the same doctor who healed the eyes of a blind girl, her father insisted she marries the Duke who was waiting for her for seven long years. Miss Pui couldn't bring herself to marry him as she knew she loved Ngao Kam but two problems was hard to solve; Ngao Kam's inability to move away from his low self esteem and confess his love and the bigger problem of the Duke who did so much for Miss Pui it would be an affront to moral responsiblity not to agree to marry him.
How will Lee Yuen solve this problem now?
There was an old beggar (Loh Hoi Pang) who became Ngao Kam's very dear friend. At the age of 77 he died whilst eating. Lee Yuen entered his body and decided to reveal his true identify to Miss Pui and Ngao Kam. He encouraged Ngao Kam to fight for his love and himself and when Ngao Kam was angry with his ownself, he became braver. He faced the Duke in a competition where Miss Pui's father was seeking an abled body man to be his assistant in an upcoming war partly caused by Miss Pui and the Duke. The Duke laughed at his attempt and his so called confession of love for Miss Pui but Miss Pui begged her father to let Ngao Kam fight. So they fought and in the end Ngao Kam won repeatedly. A true gentleman, the Duke conceeded defeat and even realised that Miss Pui loved Ngao Kam. So Ngao Kam and Miss Pui at last married and Lee Yuen revealed himself again (but he was in the body of the old beggar) and wished them happiness. He bade them farewell and he went on to travel the country to help others in need of some godly intervention.
Questions Asked And Answered
What did the Duke do that Miss Pui was marry him?
When Miss Pui became blinded, she must have some very difficult to find ingrediants to heal her eyes. The duke came back with that ingrediant. But he had to give away I think more than 15 territories to an enemy he had just defeated and in the process, the Emperor became so angry that the Duke lost his priveleges, his title, his army, his job, basically he lost everything. But the Duke never complained because he thought he had Miss Pui's love. So basically it's more about repaying a debt than marrying the Duke for love.
How come Lee Yuen became a saint?
I don't know. I thought it would take thousands of years and perhaps thousands of lifetimes. If TVB backtracked so far into the past, this series will never end so maybe we can all just safely assume in previous lifetimes he did good deeds culminating in his success in becoming a saint in this lifetime. After all he was probably the only person who could understand Yuen Tin King and is enlightened by its teachings.
Who wrote Yuen Tin King?
At the end of the series, Lee Yuen gave the happy couple the book and pointed out he was the one who wrote the book. Now you may be scratching your head thinking that couldn't be. I am sure you are as confused as Lee Yuen himself. He thought perhaps he indeed wrote this book. Being a God, he had the ability to travel through time so who knows? He may have planted that book in his past to make sure his past learn the teachings to become the present Lee Yuen.
So he is forever in the body of that old beggar?
I am afraid so. Even when he was leaving he was in the body of the old beggar, limping around. We the viewers see a different perspective of course. Now what is confusing is at last Lee Yuen said they can perhaps call him "Steel Cane Lee" (ok bad translation but you know "Tit Kwai Lei" whom if I am not mistaken is one of the deities in the 8 Immortals. I do not know the period this series is set on but well, probably it may have been the story of this famous immortal or maybe not.
So what happened to the Duke?
Don't know. Probably still title-less, money-less, woman-less.
Two factors almost made me switch off the TV when I began to watch this series;
1. the English title
2. Shirley Yeung (and this being her very first acting job and she was already playing the lead character)
Two more factors made me sat down and finish watching this series;
1. Kwong Wa
2. the intelligent and often thought provoking storyline.
I find this series surprisingly very very good. Of course there are many instances I had to suspend my logic and common sense and just go with the flow. This series does not boast any great special effects, famous names (other than Kwong Wa and of course Marco Ngai), excellent acting or even a storyline based entirely on logic. It does have something interesting in it, that is its concept and philosophy though only towards the end of the series. I find it witty, and sometimes very sentimental.
The entire premise of this series was not accurately explained in my ASTRO guidebook. It really isn't about a man who visited the Heavens for a day and came back to realise he had actually been gone for 7 years. I wonder who wrote such an inaccurate summary for this series? He didn't really go to Heaven, he lingered in human world but he didn't know he was away for 7 years. The entire premise of this story is a bit of Taoism and mostly on love and relationships. You can see plenty of example of love and the solutions to the never ending problems.
Of all the sub stories in this series, I find two particularly intriguing though they were really the same story.
For one, the blind girl torn between two men. One man, ugly and poor was the one who took care of her and even cold his only tool of making a living so that she could have enough money to consult a very famous doctor. And this doctor upon looking at her became so in love with her decided to soend his entire fortune to cure her. When she got her eyesights, naturally she is expected to marry the doctor. But she knew in her heart she loved the kind man who often spent time with her when she was sad and whom she shared her laughter with. But that man was avoiding her. On the day of the marriage, she recognised the smell of the flowers that she was told was not really beautiful but has a very sweet smell and she quickly ran out to find the man she loved. He refused to look at her but she didn't mind his appearance. The doctor, being the gentleman quickly relieved the girl of her duty to repay her debt and gave them his blessing. Of course the story asked this perpertual question; do we sacrifice ourselves to repay a personal debt though we know we will not be happy at all? The problem can only be solved if the man where the debt originated give up. It also shows that sacrificing the most doesn't automatically make you the strongest contender for her heart.
Miss Pui's story is basically the same and again the ending is the same.
I may sound cynical but I do feel apart from the issue of beautiful women marrying poor low class ugly men, I do wonder how these women intend to repay such a debt that can never be repayed by money? It's easy to say I will repay the debt but by not marrying him, how then do you do so? This series did not offer the solution to this problem. Probably in the end this guys had to write off their debts, losing so much and gaining only the mere knowledge that they were such giving gentlemen to give the girl up and to let them marry their one true love. At least one person being miserable is better than 3 being miserable at the end of the day.
Another story which I find quite touching is the story of Lee Yuen's scholar friend (Kwok Yew Ming) who upon successfully obtaining a ministerial position went home only to find his beloved wife (Winnie Yeung) has died. Grieving and hoping to give his wife a title, he was bullied into marrying a sickly but kind princess by the Duke. In the end he realised he had givne his wife nothing so he agreed to marry the Princess. But his plan was to kill himself after his wife got the title. The Duke refused to back away from the marriage though the princess begged him and his mother. In the end Lee Yuen using the knowledge in Yuen Tin King solved the problem; he raised the dead wife, she came back, had enough time to knit and sew a dress for the husband and all the while persuading him that choosing life is better than choosing death. The husband refused to listen but in the end the wife said something rather true; her hopes and dreams for her husband is for him to be an honest minister and help the people. By doing that he would have given her the greatest gift instead of a mere title. In the end the wife died again after one night and he realised he must live on. The princess released the man from his obligation to marry her and his wife got the title nevertheless I think.
But the one story which is my absolute favourite and which is so true concerns the old beggar. Miss Pui's father believed that if one works hard enough, success will come and so beggars are a result of laziness. But Lee Yuen disagreed and pointed out the story of one intelligent scholar who became a beggar because of the country's policies, which was actually set by Miss Pui's father. Lee Yuen showed to Miss Pui's father this beggar's predicament is not caused by his laziness but by surroundings. feeling guilty Mr Pui thought the solutions to all problems is money. The beggar woke up and found so much money he could live a rich man. But instead of being happy, the beggar becamse suspiscious of everybody he knew, he refused to eat and seek treatment when he was sick so that he can make sure that nobody steals his gold. In the end the solution was far simpler. Lee Yuen made sure the beggar thought he dreamt he had loads of money and advised Mr Pui to give him just enough for a good meal with his friends. So money is not the solution to all problems right? Wrong! This story clearly illustrates that sudden immense wealth on a person who usually does not have so much would cause serious damage but a little, just enough would make him a very happy man! I wouldn't complain though since we have thing thing called banks.
There are so many more stories about angry/desperate people doing angry/desperate things, like how one mother in her pursuit of eternal youth so that she could seduce and dump all men like the man who did the same to her neglected her only child and in the end her daughter became insane. How one Taoist priest used spells to gain more wealth, Miss Pui's father who was forced into retirement only to realise that this might be a good thing, etc etc etc. In fact I found the story of Ngao Kam and how he battled and overcame his low self esteem very interesting to watch.
Depending on what kind of story that you like to watch, I am sure you can find one in here that suits your taste.
I do not have one actually, not even Lee Yuen as all characters had a story of its own and so has his or her charm. I guess if I must choose one it had to be the Duke. He was really like a gangster terrorising people to agree with him but in the end he proved himself a true gentleman.
In a way Ngao Kam is also my favourite character as Lee Yuen tried to incite anger in him to make him confess his love for Miss Pui but this was what was said and a very good scene;
Lee Yuen : You must hate her father?
Ngao Kam : Hate her father? No. He loved her and he wanted the best for her so I could not hate her.
Lee Yuen : Then you must hate the Duke.
Ngao Kam : Why must I hate him? The Duke sacrificed so much to help her, things I couldn't do and I do not have the same status as he.
Lee Yuen : What about Lee Yuen? You must hate him? (Lee Yuen was in the body of the old beggar then)
Ngao Kam : I could never hate my master, I would even die for him.
Lee Yuen : So who do you hate?
Ngao Kam : (After much thought) I hate myself. I hate myself for beging a coward, for not being able to express my love for her. I person I hate most is MYSELF!!!!!
Note : !!!!! is an overdramatization of that scene though it was pretty tense then as he went on to chop some trees with style.
Least Favourite Character
The one character that caused so much trouble and so much fight and yet really bland, two dimensional and zombie-like and that is Miss Pui herself.
Most Hated Character
I can't stand Fa Ku, Miss Pui's servant. When she was into her antics, and she blatantly lied and all, how come Miss Pui although said Shut Up never said SHUT UP!!!! She can't even control this servant who caused so much misery to the Lee household.
Most Unexpected Good Guy Character
The Duke for one. But it had to be Kwok Yew Ming who takes this honour. Seeing his face, I thought again this guy is playing a hypocritical gentleman but noooo, he actually really truly madly deeply honestly and with all his heart, spleen and gut love his dead wife! Truly unexpected.
Most Illogical Scenes
Apart from how Lee Yuen became a deity/immortal, I would say two scenes really stood out as probably two of the worst TV Mistakes of all time;
1. I do not know how old is Lee Yuen, I assume Miss Pui is 17 or 18. Flashback, we see Miss Pui young and Lee Yuen as young. Now Kwong Wa is like 40 right? He looks good for his age but he can't be 20. Shirley Yeung looks like a little girl and her two ponytails doesn't help things so she looks 17 or 18, like her character. Now how come when they were young they looked like the same age? Either Lee Yuen suffered from accelerated growth of old age or Miss Pui got stunted growth, that is perpetual youth. Which one I do not know.
2. This mad woman, eternally young at present has a daughter who is in her mid 30s I assume. They have a servant who well looked around that age. Flashback and that daughter is a little girl, perhaps 8 or 10 and then we were showed how this mad woman met this servant guy. My God! Looked exactly the same!! I mean come on, at least some white hair in present time won't hurt right?
The only logical aspect of this aging thing is Miss Pui 7 years later who indeed looked a bit tired and jaded. Perhaps Shirley Yeung by that time was tired. She reminded of of Anne Heung who always looked fresh in the first episode and towards the end had eye bags and all. A proof that TVB shoots in sequence.
Most Favourite Sub Story
The old beggar and his sudden wealth as explained above.
Most Annoying Non Existent Factor
The non existent chemistry between Shirley Yeung and all the male actors.
Basically, some good acting, so not all that bad.
Can't decide, not because there were so many but because there wasn't one which stood out and screamed "I am a great actor, look at me!!". Not even Kwong Wa, though he was better in here than in some of his recent works. Actually he was very funny as the laid back Lee Yuen who was the observer and rarely spoke but looked with intense eyes. Then there was Marco Ngai who was brilliant as the gangster-ish Duke but did poorly as the love sick duke. I guess I will choose both Kwong Wa and Marco Ngai.
Over The Top Performance
Had to be the actor who played Mr Pui. Not bad acting but very emotional acting.
Terry Fan, the actor with the perpetually honest face which at times is innocence personified and tne body of a Greek God. I think he gave a very honest and open performance, a very solid one actually, just that I thought in emotional scenes he was a bit blank. Meaning he didn't really emote too well though his character is a very open and emotional person, compared with Kwong Wa's Lee Yuen who is too calm, too cool, too nonchalant about anything.
Also all other ke-le-fes gave good performances, some shaky, some solid but nonetheless still consistently good.
Only one and that is the lady who played the mad woman obssessed with eternal youth. She talks without much emotion, even when she was angry and frankly she isn't that beautiful to play a woman whose beauty alone could seduce a man into dooming himself.
Shirley Yeung and I bet you must be wondering when her name is ever going to be mentioned in my review. How was she you asked? For a first timer, not too bad actually. I could tolerate her performance because she wasn't too prominent in this series. Kwong Wa was. Poor Kwong Wa, ever the Miss HK baby sitter, but that of course would mean Kwong Wa will look very good as the actor beside such wallpapers and vase.
Shirley Yeung is cute, there is no denying about that. She has this perpetual girlie look that is far younger than her actual age and her make up in this series brings out that youth factor. I think she is pretty in a childish little girl way but she is definitely not gorgeous as this character is. The problem with Shirley is not her ever small child like voice or her lack of facial acting (other than worry or happy, which I have said this about Charmaine Sheh, her twin sister) or even the way she stands in a particular scene. I believe she must be a very obedient actress, doing what the director dictates, right to where she stands. Her acting is inadequate largely because of one very annoying factor that I believe time will help destroy; she looks perpetually nervous, like she's very afraid or very little confidence. Whilst her character may be immature and of course scared half the time, I see the real quality of nervousness exuding from this actress' every movement. Her voice quivers, like she's very nervous, her body sometimes look like it is shaking from fear. I believe this fear comes from the fact this is her first acting job. BUT even in recent times, whilst she has improved slightly in her hosting capabilities, she still has that jittery look. Is that inborn??
Another quality which I dislike about her and which is still here even today is her inability to time when she must talk and when she musn't talk. When I first saw her hosting some shows, I remember very well I called her the robot. Make that a timed robot. Irregardless of rain or shine, anybody is talking or not talking, when it is her time to deliver her lines she must talk. She looks like she is waiting anxiously to speak her lines, like waiting for her cue. The same with her performance which I find it very disruptive. I think this is what you call no timing whatsoever so I can't imagine her doing comedy. All this means is of course she totally lacks spontaneity, a big no no for a host and sometimes an actress. This she must learn from Kwong Wa, who may take his time to deliver his lines but he will successfully bring out the correct emotion and mood to the words uttered. I doubt Shirley Yeung ever realised or even understood how important scripts are because she does not look like she appreciates her lines. This is very evident in the later episodes, where her character is all alone and waiting for Lee Yuen to come back. The way she interpreted the character, I would think she no longer love Lee Yuen, because she doesn't seem too sad at all though her face may be contorted with pain, suffering and whatever. You don't wait 7 years for just an answer, you wait 7 years because you truly love that man and doesn't want to let go of him. In that respect, she has zero chemistry with Kwong Wa (who looks like her uncle than her fiancee which makes me realise that Kwong Wa has indeed grown quite old these few years or perhaps actresses are looking younger and younger) and even with Terry Fan. Not even Marco Ngai. The problem is not them (except for Kwong Wa who didn't look too excited with her but of course his Lee Yuen may not love Miss Pui that much) but Shirley Yeung who seemed like a walking dead when it comes to romantic scenes.
Frankly, watching her act is not a torture but it is quite painful at times. Once she gets over her shyness, perhaps she might be able to emote more. Once her confidence is built up by her legions of fans who will proclaim her a goddess no matter what, perhaps then she will deliver her lines shouting and screaming. Maybe when she sheds a bit of clothing and go for the messy look, maybe then she might be able to play more mature role. Maybe when she finds one single character that she could play well within her weaknesses, then maybe she will improve each day. You know what? Maybe she will metamorphosise into Charmaine Sheh because I think I just described Charmaine's career pattern!
Now, there is another reason why I say her acting is inadequate and based solely on looks. Physically she is petite, like those olden days ladies. Her problem is just like Ada Choi in Where The Legend Begins. She is supposed to be oh so beautiful but to me she looked more like a very pretty servant girl than a true elegant educated high class lady. I see that quality in Michelle Yip when she is not too busy with her opera-style of acting. In fact Shirley is totally wrong for this role which is why all other women in here must not be more cute or more prettier than her because that will overshadow her. And her make up is so MAC-like, in fact much too thick. Have you seen Shirley without make up? Yes, she is just a mere mortal like you and I who needs her MAC and ZA to look like a superstar which she is not. Rejoice!
I think her break out role would be something like playing supporting roles first, like girlfriends, sisters, etc. Lead actress she is not. She just doesn't have that lead actress quality. I must stress, the success of this series is not because of her, but because of the stories and of course the old timers. Luckily her role isn't exactly so big that it eclipses the good points. Lucky for the viewers and lucky for Miss Yeung herself.
Enjoyable, thought provoking and at times rather intelligent. Just ignore the obvious loop holes and suspend your logic and common sense. Fans of Kwong Wa may want to have a look.
A really excellent
I read in a HK magazine just a few weeks ago and I read that Shirley was boycotted by Charmaine Sheh and Sonija Kwok during the filming of Angels of Mission because (NOW READ THIS) Shirley was arrogant and she misused her position as TVB's favourite up and coming actress to bully other people!! Now how can that be for a girl with this child like angelic face??? Do you believe that? In fact I have read reports that some crew member criticised her for drinking drinks bought by Charmaine (for the crew) and that she never buy them food! Now, really?? Maybe she may not have bought the hearts of the crew but I doubt she was ever this bitchy or arrogant. In fact I looked at that picture in the magazine and I thought two other actresses, especially the more famous one stroll the beach like she owned it and I believe any boy cotting came from that particular actress. I mean what's the big deal? Must actresses be best of friends? No way. They're colleagues, like what Fann Wong said of Zoe Tay! Anyway poor Shirley.
And Shirley's boyfriend is Gregory Lee who was once my favourite child actor. I wonder who is the older one here? Good for her to have such a stable relationship. You know Gregory Lee was the nurse who had a crush on Charmaine's Charlie in The White Flame. Is it because he was in love with Charmaine so now he looked for a look alike? No no no, just a speculation.
Back to Kwong Wa who has no negative news and so nothing to speculate about.
So who is Tit Kwai Lei or is there a Lee Yuen? I think there was, but I lost my book. Anyway I think he was one of the Eight Immortals that crossed the sea (you know, the Eight Immortals in Journey To The West, best friends with the Monkey King?). Look out for more info here when I find my book.