"What about Mak Chau Kuen? Never explained and in the end this series felt more like about "The Coconut Sweet and his Yoke Cham" than 7 sisters. So why don't the writer just save everybody's time and just make a series about this couple? Why waste everybody's time by making it look like it was about 7 sisters, then making it look like Chau Kuen's story, then making it look like it had some intelligent way of connecting and ending the whole mess when all they concentrated on in the last 4 tapes, and mostly throughout 32 episodes on these two characters? Where's the focus?"
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
Deciphering The Title
Finally an English title that is the exact translation of the Chinese title; Chat Chi Mui (Cantonese)...Chi Jie Mei (Mandarin)
If you think the series is about 7 sisters, you are wrong. When I first saw the promo trailer before they started filming, it was about 7 sisters who killed themselves over men. It was very interesting, even more so to guess who TVB will cast as the 7 sisters. I thought I saw Annie Man in there as well. BUT when I watch this series as it is now, I was very disappointed by TVB for not being brave enough to talk abut a potential grave issue that could have happened years before, or even now. What was to be mass suicide became more of a trivial love story that you would have seen a million times. I saw some of those actresses in the trailer but not in the roles that I thought they will be in. Though there were 7 sisters in this series, the title actually referred to a place or a street.
An Announcement (15th July 2001)
Since everybody requested for spoilers, I Funn Lim after much thought decided to adopt a new approach in all my new reviews. I'll vomit everything I can remember about the series, explain the ending and include my comments in them. So if you don't want me to spoil it for you, skip Questions Asked And Answered in all of my reviews or variations of that heading, because the ending will be revealed under this heading and nowhere else. The explanation of the characters will contain spoilers but not definite endings. Which also means my review will be 2 times longer.
The Themesong in Realvideo format
You can watch the themesong as seen in the series itself. Download the song by right clicking the link and choose "Save As". It is a very nice song, and perhaps the only great thing about this series. And may I add, Gallen Lo is getting so much better as a singer, such feelings and emotion in his singing voice. I love the chorus.
16 tapes / 32 episode
Gallen Lo - Tse Chi Tong / Yeh Chi Tong
Kong Wah - Mau Lin Sin / Mau Wan Sin
Charmaine Sheh- Wong Yoke Cham
Anne Heong - Mak Chau Kuen
Florence Kwok - Wong Sook Jan
Akina Hong Wah - Ah Wan (the 2nd wife of Kong Wah)
Yuen Keng Dan - 1st Sister
Yew Ying Ying - Sau Yoke
Shirley Cheung - Chan Yuen Yuen
Ellesmere Choi Chi Kin - Wong Man Dik (or could be Wong Man Ding)
Annie Man - Tse Mei Ling
Lau Siu Ming - Grandpa Wong
Lo Lan - Mrs Chan
Loh Hoi Pang - Mr Chan
Eddie Cheung - Jan Cheong
Misc Characters- Uncle Tung, Uncle Lung, 5 other sisters of the seven sisters, Mr and Mrs Mak, Mrs Mau (Mau Lin Sin's mother), etc
This story spanned from 1932 to 1952, for almost two decades and primarily concerned a ghost, a girl, 2 men and a woman bent on destroying the ghost.
The 3rd sister of a 7 sisters Opera singing group (a very happy go lucky group) called Mak Chau Kuen, a daughter of a formerly rich family met and fell for a famous playwright (in opera), an arrogant man called Mau Lin Sin in 1932. However their relationship was objected by Mak's family who were planning to marry off their only child to a rich man to maintain their extravagant lifestyle. Though their love for each other were beyond description, her parents went ahead to destroy the happiness of their only child. She escaped from the impending wedding by running away from her father's iron grip whilst on their way to the ceremony in a car. Rain and thunderstorm did not stop Mak to run for her life, screaming for Mau's name until she reached the Seven Sisters Beach. Mau was supposed to be there for them to kill themselves and be together forever but she couldn't find him. Pressured by her parents and their men, she ran to the edge of the rock on the beach and jumped, never knowing why her beloved Mau never came for her. It was 1932 and she was only 24 years old.
15 years later two mismatched couple, one a hardworking postman called Tse Chi Tong (nicknamed Yeh Chi Tong) whose only dream was to save enough money to marry his Yuen Yuen, despite the many insults hurled by her materialistic mother, Mrs Chan and a rich 24 year old spoilt brat named Wong Yoke Cham would bump into each other at Seven Sisters Road and were destined to meet a desperate ghost called Mak Chau Kuen who has been waiting for 15 years for a letter by her Mau Lin Sin that never arrived. Though afraid and reluctant at first, they nevertheless did their best to help her. When Mau Lin Sin did appear, he became Mau Wan Sin and had lost all his memory of her and was now married to Yoke Cham's mean aunt, Ah Jan. They were a loving couple whose loving relationship was not destroyed by the ghost but actually by Ah Jan's own fear of losing her husband to a ghost.At the meantime, the two mismatched couple fell in love but their relationship were tested many times by Yoke Cham's aunt, Ah Jan who harboured an ability far scarier than simply being a ghost; she had a great capacity for hatred and revenge.
Though everything, after a long long time seemed settled and we were set for a happy ending, we then discover Yoke Cham's illness which almost killed her when she was 4 years old resurfaced. As she fought to stay alive with all the medication and support from her family, will she be able to survive this liver cancer? Will she be able to see past her fear of death, her fear of leaving Yeh Chi Tong, her fear of Yeh Chi Tong seeing her become skinny and ugly, her fear of everything to win the battle and live happily ever after with her Chi Tong? How will the messy relationship between Mau Lin Sin who was slowly remembering the past, his wife whose fear grew more each day as her actions became more vindictive and Mak Chau Kuen whose only wish was to see Mau Lin Sin happy?
Do we still care after 32 episodes?
This series will have a dubious honour; an honour of having the shortest storyline with the longest time frame given to complete that short storyline in year 2001. Whatever that is in Summary applies equally as the storyline. The more important question is; why 32 episodes to say what could have been said in about 20 episodes or less? I have a theory and I believe I may have some sound and justifiable reasons for this theory of mine. But before I begin on my theory, let's just get over with with some of the details.
* SPOILERS .. BEGIN ..SPOILERS *
Questions Asked And Answered
What is the relationship between Yeh Chi Tong and Yuen Yuen's parents?
Yeh Chi Tong's father used to own a very big restaurant but the business went bust when he was a boy. Yuen Yuen's father who was his father's worker took them in and took care of both Yeh Chi Tong and his little sister, Mei Ling. But it wasn't easy living with that man because his wife would use all opportunities to insult Yeh Chi Tong's lack of ambition, lack of education and lack of money. It didn't help either that he was seeing her supposedly beautiful daughter, Yuen Yuen who seemed devoted to this poor man.
What is the relationship between Ah Jan, Ah Wan, Ah Cham, Man Dik, Grandpa Wong and Mau Lin Sin?
Ah Jan is Yoke Cham's big aunt. Yoke Cham's parents died when she was a little girl. Man Dik is Yoke Cham's uncle, meaning Ah Jan's little brother. Mau Lin Sin is Ah Jan's husband, and thus he is Yoke Cham's uncle in law. Ah Wan is Mau Lin Sin's second wife who married him years before when Ah Jan's father fell ill and wanted a grandchild but Ah Jan couldn't provide him with the grandchild. But they had no children even now. Sau Yoke is Ah Cham's live in maid, treated as a family member by the Wong's whose duty is to accompany the spoilt brat to school, to work, etc. Grandpa Wong is the father of Ah Jan and grandpa of Yoke Cham.
What is the relationship between Mak Chau Kuen and the other 6 women?
Sisters in the eyes of the Heaven who promised each other that when one dies, the other 6 will follow. But when Chau Kuen died, they broke their promise and went into hiding, doing miniscule jobs because they felt guilty for revealing the location of the eloped Chau Kuen and Lin Sin years before. But Chau Kuen forgave them, especially 1st sister. All never married or come close to a man except for Chau Kuen and 1st Sister.
What is the occupation of Mau Lin Sin?
He was an Chinese Opera Playwright, but ever since he lost all his memory, he became the manager of Ah Jan's father's pharmaceutical company.
How come Lin Sin lost ALL his memory?
He even lost his ability to talk, walk, eat, etc years before. When Chau Kuen died, he heart died along with her. He tortured himself by being insane, refusing to accept the reality of the death of Chau Kuen. And then one day he met both the young Ah Jan and her father. Ah Jan's father knew about Lin Sin's talent and tried to persuade him to be normal again whilst Ah Jan fell for him as she listened to him sing his famous song which was very touching. She felt she could take the place of Chau Kuen in his heart. She did, when one day her car bumped into him and he lost all his memory and his ability to function as a human being. She nurtured and taught him everything, gave him a job and in the process both fell for each other. She was supposed to marry her cousin but she refused, which disappointed and angered her father so much that he didn't talk to her for the next 3 years. She endured insults of her integrity and honour and married Lin Sin, gave him his reputation back and a new name as Mau Wan Sin. They were the happiest couple right up until Chau Kuen reappeared in Lin Sin's life, by pure fate.
How Chau Kuen met Lin Sin again?
As a ghost she had sixth sense but it didn't work like she wanted to. So she thought she must have been wrong when she "saw" Lin Sin coming to Yoke Cham's house. When finally she met him on the street by accident and knew that he forgot about her, she was saddened by that fact but was happy to know that he was happily married and was now a new man, more so when Ah Jan came and faced her and told Chau Kuen everything. So Chau Kuen promised to leave him alone and wait for her time for rebirth, which never came.
You mentioned a letter that Chau Kuen was waiting for 15 years?
It was a letter than Mrs Mak forced Lin Sin to write, using the sentence;
"Why pursue our love for each other when it only brings pain and separation?"
Lin Sin vomited blood when he had to write such a letter as he was beaten quite badly previously and because he has fallen ill. But in the end, in the letter that Yeh Chi Tong finally found in his post office, it was a different message. it wrote;
"After much thought and consideration, I'd rather love you even when we are apart and when I know it will be painful to love you"
Believe me it was more poetic.
Chau Kuen knew now for sure that he didn't abandon her.
Did Lin Sin remember Chau Kuen?
Very slowly his memory was coming back but yet he didn't feel the love he once had for her. In his heart he loved his wife but yet he felt tremendous guilt, pity and sympathy for Chau Kuen's plight. Which was why he wanted to help her to earn points for rebirth, by setting up trust funds to help the needy in her name. You see, Chinese believes that if you kill yourself, your chance for rebirth is very slim, because since you didn't appreciate the life that the Heaven gave you the first time around, why should they give you this chance for a second time? But he was being really nice, however his wife didn't think so.
What devious plan did this good man's wife hatched then Oh Great One?
My children, listen and learn what not to do.
This woman not only pretended to be pregnant, but acted paranoid so well that her whole family, except Lin Sin and Yoke JCham believed her allegations that Chau Kuen was haunting her. But Lin Sin thought of his unborn child and his wife's own mental health, and so he listened to the ghost catcher cum famous Feng Shui master (the sifu of Ah Jan's hired ghost catcher cum maid) and went to the seven sister's house, lied about some extra preparation that needed to be done before our heroine can reincarnate on the 5th of October (Lin Sin repeatedly saw 105 in his dreams and deduced it as rebirth day) and took her ...what do you call those ancestral tablets made of wood that has the name and date of death of the deceased carved onto it where people can pay their respect to everyday? Anyway I shall call it wooden tablet. He threw that darn thing into the furnace, told those bitches (second wife, maid, etc) to go home and look after father in law whilst he go to the hospital to see Ah Jan. But he turned back when the coast was clear and rescued that wooden tablet from the furnace, ran half way across the street for no apparent reason in the rain when the the residence of the seven sisters was like ten steps from the furnace, rolled down the slippery slope hugging our heroine tightly and had a heart to heart talk with Chau Kuen who before he came, knew what was to happen. All was forgiven and Ah Jan became a very happy woman, but not for long. One night Yoke Cham accidentally broke the bottle of the supposed pills to be taken by the mother for the unborn child but the doctors told Yoke Cham, whom she subsequently told Lin Sin (though she was confused and didn't believe the doctors when she wanted to purchase the pills to replace the dirty ones) that those pills were vitamins. Lin Sin found out the truth from the doctor who was paid to lie and he was furious. He left Ah Jan and went to Chau Kuen, apologetic and decided to go on a "down memory lane" trip with Chau Kuen to remember who he was, and he began to like the ghost more and more, though the love for her has yet to return.
What then did the devious evil conniving wife do to get even?
Since she can't get the ghost, she got even with the unsuspecting Yoke Cham by using the old confession that Yoke Cham was duped to sign a year ago against Yeh Chi Tong (where it was written that she stole the money to pay for Yeh Chi Tong's restaurant business but that guy didn't know because she lied that he won a big lottery) the very same confession that was almost used against Yeh Chi Tong a year ago by the very same aunt if not for Yoke Cham who made herself so sick that her grandpa let go of the matter and she subsequently spent months in a Shanghai hospital to recuperate.
When Yeh Chi Tong found out about the truth and with a few insults hurled at him by the neighbourhood and impending prison term, he became furious and ignored Yoke Cham who begged her grandpa to let him pay by installments if not he had to close down the place. Instead he very rudely said;
"I will not close down the business, I will use 2 1/2 years to pay off the debt and I will not see you until then"
Heartbroken Yoke Cham left. All her kindness went down the drain because this idiot couldn't see pass the insults hurled at him.
So game over for Yoke Cham and her Coconut Sweet?
Not really. Yeh Chi Tong actually wanted to pay back all the money and then marry Yoke Cham. He believed that by doing so he could redeem his self esteem and Yoke Cham as his wife will be able to walk proudly, since at this moment he thought people were calling him names; like "Eating rice from slippers" which for men are a big big insult. But Grandpa Wong after seeing how Yoke Cham refused to smile, refused to eat, sulking 100% of the time, went to Yeh Chi Tong, openly insulted his effort and Yeh Chi Tong out of anger said he is trying his best; nothing is perfect; whatever he has done it was his own hardwork and not others. Which was exactly Grandpa Wong's point. From thereon, Yeh Chi Tong after knowing and receiving the gift that Yoke Cham knitted day and night for him, wore the sweater and openly went out with Yoke Cham again, ignoring any insult that he may hear.
So happy ending then?
For Chau Kuen, her Sin Kor and Sin Kor's Ah Jan, yes.
At first, Ah Jan refused to let go of Chau Kuen. So when Chau Kuen and Sin Kor visited the old theatre in China where he used to stage his opera plays, devious Ah Jan kidnapped her husband, set the abandoned theatre on fire and refused to let her husband see Chau Kuen, even when he pleaded with her. In the end, he escaped, ran to the theatre and saw Chau Kuen, but they were trapped in the towering inferno. They ran to get the keys, but still couldn't get out. As Sin Kor waited to die, he begged Chau Kuen to leave. It was an act that he was supposed to do 15 years before, but as he remembered, he did try to hang himself 15 years ago after Chau Kuen died but he wasn't brave enough. Chau Kuen didn't blame him for his cowardice, and even told him that he must promise her to live on, no matter what. As Sin Kor laid dying in the small room, Chau Kuen stayed with him, and her soul was becoming more and more transparent, where at last before she disappeared she told Sin Kor to live on. At the same moment, Ah Jan was frantically begging anyone and everyone to save her trapped husband, and in the end, out of sheer love, she herself rushed in together with the firemen who tried to stop her and she frantically called for his name. Sin Kor heard someone out there and remembering Chau Kuen's last words, he blew a trumpet and he was saved. But he was still in a coma in the hospital, as he laid there fighting for his life. Ah Jan begged him to live and even promised to let him listen to opera songs, or even see Chau Kuen. She sang his famous song, crying and holding his hand. At the same moment, she heard a voice singing the same song and as she turned her head to the other side of the bed, she saw Chau Kuen, singing the song whilst holding his other hand. He survived, and for once Ah Jan left them alone. Chau Kuen looked at Sin Kor, smiled a little and left. As she was flying towards the heavens, Ah Jan came running out calling her name. And in the end, after all the hatred, after all the insecurities she felt when Mak Chau Kuen refused to go away, Ah Jan said thank you and proclaimed that Mak Chau Kuen will always be Mrs Mau. What began on a bad note, ended with a happy ending for this trio. Mak Chau Kuen was formally recognised as Mrs Mau Number ONE and Ah Jan and Ah Wan even called her "Big Sister". Ah Wan, Lin Sin and Ah Jan all went to China so that Lin Sin can pursue his original love of composing opera songs and Mak Chau Kuen was never seen again.
What about Chi Tong and Yoke Cham?
Should I reveal the ending here? There was quite some confusion caused by the dates given...anyway...should I? Shouldn't I? Don't say I didn't warn you.
Ok, here goes.
THE ENDING REVEALED!!
After some wrestling with her own insecurities and fear of death, Chi Tong and Yoke Cham finally married. Two years later, the year was 1952 (REMEMBER THIS YEAR) and we discover that Yoke Cham died and her grave marked her year of death as 1952 (ALSO REMEMBER THIS YEAR). Yeh Chi Tong was distraught. He received a letter written by Yoke Cham, which was kept by her lawyers on her instructions. She wrote the letter two years earlier, telling Chi Tong that she knew she was dying and she permit him only to cry for two years and now in 1952 he must learn to live on. That she saw Chau Kuen when she died and Chau Kuen asked her;
"Do you want you live on as a ghost or reincarnate?"
Yoke Cham wrote that she wanted to reincarnate because she didn't want to end up like Chau Kuen, waiting senselessly for 15 years. She wanted Chi Tong to move on and she herself hoped to be reincarnated as a happy person, like she was in the life she had before she died. And in the end, Chi Tong understood her message.
What about the others?
No sign of Yuen Yuen and that despicable Ah Cheong
1st Sister married and became pregnant with Uncle Lung's child (the uncle of Yuen Yuen)
Lin Sin, Ah Wan and Ah Jan continued their happy life, but Lin Sin never wrote a greater song than the one he wrote for Mak Chau Kuen.
Grandpa Wong lived on, but still couldn't get over his beloved "Skinny Girl's" (Yoke Cham) death
Sau Yoke had no ending, as she had no beginning.
The other 5 sisters were still unmarried and still as noisy as ever.
Man Dik and Mei Ling married, and Man Dik took over the family business
As for Mak Chau Kuen, after that flying towards the heavens scene, we never saw nor heard from her again except in the narration by Yoke Cham.
What the hell was the writer thinking about when he wrote this story?
This series has got to be the worst TVB series I have seen thus far (15/7/2001) for year 2001.There were so many holes in the story, it looked like a cheese, like those you see in cartoons. I think I must elaborate on this because if I don't, I'll probably burst!
The Way The Story Was Told
It started out interestingly, with Mak Chau Kuen running and jumping to her death, and then it introduced to us the two characters of Yoke Cham and Chi Tong quite nicely. But from thereon, it was such a headache to watch this series.
60% of the story was told through flashbacks, courtesy of Chau Kuen. 30% were told through imaginations, courtesy of Yoke Cham. 2% were told through repeats, courtesy of the director, 4% were told through outside the camera range courtesy of the writer and the 4% were left unexplained, I believe courtesy of the director, writer, producer and the person who edited this series.
In the end, what you have is a muddled direction, confusing storyline, inadequate explanation to many scenes and one really idiotic ending that was only meant to make us feel a bit sentimental, cry a bit and hope to squeeze some pitiful glances from us the viewers.
Throughout this series, I was thinking when are they gonna get on with the story?
-it took 6 whole tapes and millions of flashbacks for us to finally see the much anticipated character of Mau Lin Sin (Kong Wah) and it was an expected twist to the story; that he married Yoke Cham's aunt which I already guessed by Tape 3 or 4 by Yoke Cham's refusal to let Chau Kuen stay at her house to wait for her Sin Kor when in one of her sixth sense type of encounter, she saw Lin Sin walking into Yoke Cham's house.
-they never ever explained what was the significance of the number "105" which was repeatedly said by Lin Sin, as if it had this great importance towards the fate of Chau Kuen.
- Charmaine's character, Yoke Cham became from a spoilt brat to a spoilt girlfriend. Where was the progression? Because I can't see it. And it was like she had this small brain that only had the capacity to store, compute and understand very few words at the same time; with scenes where she kept repeating "Yeh Chi Tong"..."Don't arrest Yeh Chi Tong". The first time, ok, the second time, still ok but for 10 times for over in a space of 10 minutes or so she was only given this one line and I was thinking; "Wow...so few words she could utter ah?" In the first half, her character was smiling, happy. In fact ecstatically happy, overly noisy, very very affectionate. And in the second half, she was still as noisy, and 99% of the time she was crying and crying and crying. It was like this character had a bottle of Eye-Mo ready in her pocket! I was thinking..when is she going to stop crying?
- too many things happened outside the camera, for instance the development of the relationship between 1st sister and Uncle Lung and more to the point, Man Dik and Mei Ling's relationship. It was like out of nowhere!
- It started with Anne Heong's Chau Kuen and surprisingly, it ended without her. Predictably, and by tape 14 I predicted this, Yoke Cham died. I thought..."Wah Lau eh! I could be a TVB scriptwriter!". Because there was only one direction they can go when they show Yoke Cham and Chi Tong marrying and Yoke Cham talking to a priest with about 15 more minutes left. It was too predictable.
-The length was a nightmare. 32 episodes just to tell us one stupid message; "Live on, even when the person you love is dead, live onnnnnn; because they would want you to live a full, fruitful and happy life so live onnnnnnnn". I was like, what was the focus about? Where are the 7 sisters? Where is Mak Chau Kuen?
- Too many long dialogues which was like never ending. Love Is Beautiful had long dialogues but this one takes the cake as the longest ever in one single scene. When they should have ended it, the scene would be dragged for another 5 more minutes of non stop talking, pulling of hands, etc. Everybody was like giving a speech in here, talking and talking and talking non stop. And when they stopped, they abruptly stopped.
-Too many long scenes. Like this one in Tape 16, where Yoke Cham, her family and the doctors were discussing her illness. The doctor was a gwailo, and so I thought..well Joe Junior is there for a very good reason; True enough, he was the translator and it was the most tedious scene ever. One line in English, the next in Chinese and it took us through the whole..read WHOLE process of medication and treatment for Yoke Cham. I thought..wow, when will Paul (Lawrence Ng) walk in and start giving a speech? This scene should have been in Healing Hands III (if there is one) but not in this series. By this time I sat there on the couch, looking at the TV but I wasn't paying attention anymore. If the writer wanted us to have this feeling of fear for Yoke Cham, whatever fear or worry we had for her was killed by this overly long and tedious scene. MOVE ON PLEASEEEEE....Felt like a Taiwanese series man!
-the ending was abrupt. Like I said, I have a theory.
TVB wants to make a sentimental ending, like in Burning Flame where we will cry when a certain character died. But they forgot one thing; Burning Flame a series that handled this aspect so well if you didn't shed one tear over the many deaths, you are not human. The only time I came close to tears in this series was when Lin Sin laid dying on the hospital bed and two women were singing to him. This last scene with Yoke Cham's death was TVB's cheap attempt to make us feel some sadness and to make a different ending. But I could only conclude, it was the most predictable ending ever in my opinion. She died so suddenly, (out of camera range) that I was like.."Really? Dead ah?", because I was expecting a scene where she would be shown dying. But TVB didn't. We were told she died, as they all visited her grave. First of all, I felt nothing for Yoke Cham at the beginning and so when she died I felt nothing. Because any feelings that I had was killed by the 12 episodes that shouldn't have been in this series. This series, if ended by the 20th episode would have been just nice. But noooooo...they draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggggggg until the 16th tape and give us this all of a sudden ending. All of a sudden ending because in just one minute we were told she died. Very anti-climax and very very BORING!
-What about Mak Chau Kuen? Never explained and in the end this series felt more like about "The Coconut Sweet and his Yoke Cham" than 7 sisters. So why don't the writer just save everybody's time and just make a series about this couple? Why waste everybody's time by making it look like it was about 7 sisters, then making it look like Chau Kuen's story, then making it look like it had some intelligent way of connecting and ending the whole mess when all they concentrated on in the last 4 tapes, and mostly throughout 32 episodes on these two characters? Where's the focus?
-This series had a meaningful and heart wrenching message but after 32 episodes, do we really care?!
* A Repeat : The dialogue & the flashbacks
The comments below were written much earlier than the above but since I thought I did a good job at screaming my dissatisfaction with the flashbacks and stuff, I think my comments deserve to be REPEATED.
No stupid dialogue so don't worry about laughing. It was just the way they were presented. This series reminded me so much of those old Chinese movie or even Taiwanese series, old and new where people, one person at a time talk non-stop. Like that actor was forced to give a speech for every scene, where it never end but on and on and on. I find it so tedious and draggy. I have always seen Taiwanese series to be so long winded per person per script per scene but never in TVB series, except for the recent Love Is Beautiful. But this series was much more tedious to irritating effect because they just refuse to stop talking!
Even in the dream world it must be so bloody long! For example, Yoke Cham thought Yeh Chi Tong was getting back together with Yuen Yuen who left a drunk Ah Cheung. And so she went into a pity mode, can't blame her because after all she wasn't even sure if they had a relationship to start with. And so one night she sat there and the scene cut to her imaginary world where we were shown Yeh Chi Tong and Yuen Yuen laughing at the love letter she wrote to Yeh Chi Tong (she gave it to him earlier but he has yet to read it but Yoke Cham thought he didn't care), then it moved on to Yeh Chi Tong and Yuen Yuen laughing at her to they getting married (at this point I was joking that they're going to show them having children) to having children to Yoke Cham being all alone and a spinster whom nobody wanted.
Imagine my boredom when all I cared was what happened to that darn letter! But nooooo..must torture us with these scenes which was a joke at the end of the day because it seemed more like an indepandant scene of its own rather than Yoke Cham's own overly active imagination, because after the scene ended we never saw her afraid, just crying. It just didn't connect with the whole scenes prior to that scene we will see at the end of it.
And then there were many more like Yoke Cham trying to make herself sick so that her grandpa will worry about her being sick rather than sue Yeh Chi Tong for the money she gave him for business. Quite a pitiful girl BUT she kept repeating the line;
"Please don't arrest Yeh Chi Tong"
again and again and again and again and again. for a while I thought wow! Don't she have any other words to say? That scene and thereafter was done to irritating effect.
Of course, I must comment about the flashbacks, any flashback. One thing good about Flying Fox On Snowy Mountain was that the flashbacks were short, sweet and to the point.
Not this series.
If you missed the first few tapes and Anne's story, don't worry. Either they will repeat the scenes or Anne will repeat them orally, like 3-4 times throughout the series. It was done to sickening effect. one more flashback by scene or by words I'll throw up.
Though at first the flashbacks were a way to introduce the past of Chau Kuen and Lin Sin to us, BUT after 6 whole bloody tapes and we still haven't see the old Lin Sin, something must be terribly wrong. I knew then it won't stop at tape 10. I was actually dying of suspense, felt like I was being suffocated not because the story was so bloody engaging but because I was so frustrated with "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO MAU LIN SIN" and I wanted so much for the story to just bloody move one. I knew as long as Mau Lin Sin does not appear, this series will have no end to it. And after all the flashbacks, he finally appeared about 1/3 into the series with the worst anti-climax in the history of TVB series; he had amnesia. But i don't care if he has Down Syndrome, as long as they move away from flashbacks.
But noooo..must do flashback via talk talk and more talk. At this point of time I was bored out of my wits and screaming because I really want to watch the end of this series for completion sakes but can't skip tapes because I want to write this bloody review!
What a bloody waste of my energy to watch. It was like a nightmare!
The Many Versions of Chau Kuen's Final Moments (Where She Killed Herself)
This had me screaming even more. So how DID Chau Kuen die?
So many bloody versions which was not the fault of the writer since he must have written one version. It wasn't like he wrote the towns people were talking about this well know story about this poor girl who jumped into the sea and drowned. It was like as if the director can't decide which approach to adopt and so he used all approaches.
As seen in Episode 1 and narrated by Chau Kuen, we see a very dramatic death, where the sky was dark, there were strong wind blowing, fierce thunderstorm, and lots of people. Chau Kuen ran and ran and ran in the rain and crying for Mau Lin Sin, and her parents and their men ran after her, forcing her to run into the sea, climbed onto the rock and proclaimed;
" I WILL NOT MARRY"
and jumped into the sea and drowned.
NOTE : Dark sky, strong wind, lots of people, ran to a beach, jumped from big rock into sea
In Mr Chan's version, we have a very different death. She didn't run out from the car, she ran from somewhere to another place, not to the beach but near it and jumped.
NOTE : Clear sky, no wind, no lots of people, ran to an edge of somewhere, no big rock, jumped.
In those flashback scenes not narrated by anybody, we see another version of death. I can't remember the details only that there were dark sky, no wind, ran somewhere on the beach, no big rock, and I am not sure if she jumped this time.
THE ONLY CONSISTENCY was that she was forced to her death and she was wearing her red chinese gown of a wedding dress.
I mean what the heck was the director thinking about?!??!?!
The Final And Ultimate Ending
Before the series ended, they had to show scenes after scenes of Charmaine and Gallen, during their happier times and frankly, I was numb by then. Who cares?! Just bloody end it! And when it finally ended, they gave us this strange looking ending, where Gallen saw himself standing in front of a very fake but green view, mountains, grasses, flowers and all. It looked suspiciously like in Robin William's movie, What Dreams May Come, and in that movie Robin was supposedly in his wife's idea of heaven for him; a painting that his grieving wife drew for him. Now what about this series? I am sure you will be so confused, hoping for a sequel to explain it all. First of all, there will never be a sequel for this series. Whoever is dead, IS VERY DEAD. So where's the element of the sequel?
I do think TVB was either trying to be funny or poetic in its ending. It didn't help either that Gallen's expression in that last scene was like ours; confused. Well, I would say and I have this theory and I believe it could be the meaning of this ending, and please don't "kick" me if you disagree;
Chi Tong (Gallen) in the final scene saw heaven. Not that he died but in that letter that Yoke Cham wrote him, telling him to move on, to live on, perhaps in those final moments either he saw what he has never seen; that the world is beautiful and the world continues to spin even when Yoke Cham died OR he simply saw heaven.
OR I may have read too much into the ending, and that TVB was really trying to be funny. Either way, this will be one of the most disputed endings ever, not because the ending has such meaning and hidden layers to it, but because we simply can't get what TVB wanted to show us. But I will still say he saw heaven.
The Usual Nice Girl Type Of Character
Why must TVB ALWAYS show that nice girls who are sick will always have little friends (meaning sick children) as her play mates and that she is extremely popular amongst cute little children? Why must everything be so pastel colour in TVB's view? Why must they justify Yoke Cham's niceness by showing HOW GREAT SHE IS WITH KIDS?
The Timeline in this Series
It began before WWII, in 1932. Then 15 years later it was 1947, right after WWII. But the dressing and the setting were so 50s or even 60s. It was confusing. And being of this timeline, the costumes of the nurses in this series needs an overhaul. Was there neurology at that time? Chemotherapy?
When Yoke Cham died, her grave was marked as 1952. And the year was 1952. So I thought she died just recently prior to the last scene. Then the letter came, wrote before she died in 1950, asking Chi Tong to cry for 2 years, which will be 1952 and then to live on thereafter. Do you see the problem here? Where's the consistency?
By the way, in 1932, or even from 1932 to 1952, there was NO MALAYSIA! Don't even have Singapore! In one scene where Grandpa Wong scolded Ah Jan who refused to marry her cousin in MALAYSIA and so her father left for MALAYSIA alone so that she could be with her Lin Sin whilst her father tried to explain the situation to her cousin in MALAYSIA. What?! Hong Kong burnt all their history books issit? Bloody TVB... it was MALAYA! Repeat after me...MALAYA.. MALAYA..MALAYA.
Aiyor, where's the research team? First they gave misconception that all rich men in Malaysia are rubber estates millionaire, all called Datuks, all wear batiks ALL THE TIME, all men can marry 4 wives.....NOW THEY GiVE THE WRONG FACTS! I am so insulted for Malaysians and embarrassed for TVB.
GET THE FACTS AND THE TIMELINE RIGHT!!!
The Way Gallen's Character Was Dressed & Other Details
Wow! He reminded me like he was a 90's guy. Can't somebody tell Gallen, an excellent actor to dye his hair black? I could see red highlights, brown highlights, whatever highlights in here in so many characters' hairs that this series didn't look like a 1940's series. The women's dressings were beautiful, especially Charmaine's but the men's, all look so 90's. What happened to the costume department? Old Time Buddy's team on permanent strike? Where's the usual accuracy I see with period dramas in TVB series?
They have this imaginary scene where Yoke Cham imagined she and Chi Tong taking wedding photos. They were laughing, Chi Tong was carrying her, there was a scene where the wedding photos were very....90s. If I remembered correctly, it was 1940's, people never take photos that way. They always stand 3 feet apart from each other, and never smiling, looking like their father just died. But then, perhaps this was a strange couple so not much complain with this respect.
The Singing Voices
Except for Gallen, Kong Wah and Florence Kwok who sang the opera songs (in their own voices) who were quite good, Anne Heong was horrible. She can't sing well, and she was toneless. Why not just dub her singing voice? She was supposed to be an opera student you know. Surprisingly, Charmaine could carry a decent opera tune but not other tunes, she can't even sing a song decently. For once, please dub them all!
The Usage of Some Actors And Actresses
Kong Wah had a pretty interesting start but a bland and boring ending. In the end, he was like walk left and walk right, with nothing to do. Why waste him? When the story shifted its focus to Yoke Cham and Chi Tong, we see less and less of him and in the end, I thought he was a ke-le-fe.
Yew Ying Ying had no story and no ending. She was the maid with NO PERSONALITY. We never had an ending for her. In fact her duty was to sit, walk, talk and just console Charmaine's character. Why waste her?
The worst had to be both Choi Chi Kin and Annie Man. I thought Choi will fall for Yew but then I thought, Annie Man must be in this series for a good reason. These two talent were so underused, so wasted I was thinking well anybody could do their roles. They were insignificant and were in this series to fill in the space, to make it look like they had lots and lots of people. This annoyed me BIG TIME. Why Annie Man is always walking left and walking right or given predictable roles to do? She is so pretty, she could be Wong Yoke Cham! And dear Choi Chi Kin...he's not a great actor but he has that extra oommphh...can't he do something else other than just to walk, talk and act like he could give advise to Yoke Cham? Waste of talent in here. Arrgghhhhhhhh
Hong Wah. Another waste of talent. She was very good in here but so bloody limited that all she has as a role in the end is an airhead who walks left, sits down and looks dumb. Why waste her?
Why put these people in here in the first place? Give them other series for God's sakes. Give them guest starring roles like Chu Mi Mi in here but do not belittle their capacity to do more in a role. Where some people should be given a chance to excel TVB ignored them and gave them lame roles with nothing significant to contribute to the series, whilst good roles they give them all to Miss HKs who can't even stand right.
To think that Marianne Chan was from this despicable half-wit of a beauty cum talent pageant...such an insult for her. At the very least, cast someone who can at least act. I don't want pretty, I want good actress. I don't want nice body or cute cute girls, I want one who can act and who can act WELL.
Whenever Yoke Cham "electrify" her grandpa. How can the old man resist that smile? Those tears? That face? That look? Or even that very childlike voice? How?!
The first 15 minutes or so in this series when Chau Kuen was driven to suicide. Very good 15 minutes.
The scene when finally Chau Kuen saw her Lin Sin again and her disappointment was heartbreaking.
The scene where Yoke Cham asked Yuen Yuen's uncle to take her sight seeing at the seedy part of the town and she crossed the path of some really fierce restaurateur (played excellently by the ever funny and dependable Chu Mi Mi in a guest appearance) and she and Sau Yoke were locked up and forced to wash dishes, smelly toilets. It was funny to see how Yoke Cham was tortured and taught a lesson in life; never ever do something without thinking. Yeh Chi Tong came in time to try and rescue them but they wanted money and Yeh Chi Tong went away leaving Yoke Cham who thought he was abandoning her. In actual fact he ran all the way home, took out all his savings, bargained with the people, sold them watches, clocks, etc and finally they were released. From thereon, Yoke Cham fell for Chi Tong. It was a very funny scene and one of the highlights of this series, thanks to Chu Mi Mi and her torture of the brat Wong Yoke Cham.
I almost cried with this scene where Lin Sin was dying right up to Ah Jan calling Chau Kuen "big Sister". It was a very touching and happy scene. I actually felt..well..this series ain't that bad and then they had to waste 4 episodes on Yoke Cham and her fatal illness. 4 EPISODES!
The earlier part where Ah Cheung tried to get his mom and two brothers and sisters out of the house so that he can be alone with Yuen Yuen and do something romantic (in his mind, sex is romantic...JERK!) with her. One night he ended up raping her. It was a bad start but she seemed to enjoy it so much she came back for more. What kind of a moral integrity did Yuen Yuen have? None I guess.
Ultimate Classic Scene
This was perhaps the best scene in this series.
When Chau Kuen who for 6 months avoided Lin Sin went to Lin Sin who was driving pretty fast in a heavy rain, with his wife nagging him to go faster, she told him to go slow because she could see that he could be hurt. He tried to slow down but still met with an accident, but they were lucky. The wife , she wasn't grateful when Lin Sin told her that Chau Kuen saved their lives. In fact she asked the second wife, to ask Ah Cheong, paid him some money and made things difficult for Chau Kuen by going to the house to destroy her death wooden tablet. Luckily Chau Kuen took the wooden tablet and floated away whilst the other 6 sisters were arrested and forced to squat for hours. When they came home, which will be my vote for the best scene, 1st sister literally screamed out her frustration; saying things like "Why must you go near that man? Isn't it enough you died for him?Why are you so stupid all the time?..." The words may sound mean but she meant well. Of course Chau Kuen was almost crying when 1st sister told her to float to somewhere else. It was just anger and frustration but it was the best scene because 1st Sister was right and Yuen Keng Dan was so funny and Anne Heong was very effective in that scene.
Blood Vomitting Inducing Scenes
Hate that Ah Cheung and Ah Jan!
Most Useless Character
Chan Cheung. Useless man. No ending for him though.
Most Hated Character
Ooooohhhhhh..... I really really hate her. At first I pitied her but there is only so much to pity when she did all those mean things.
Ah Jan, Lin Sin's wife.
Ooohhhhh....how much I hate her? Let me count the ways by reading this charge against her...
Wong Sook Jan, you're hereby charged with being the Most Hated Character in the series Seven Sisters produced in the year of 2001 starting from episodes 1 to episode 32 for the following acts done with malicious, evil, unconscionable and unreasonable intent:-
1. For being such a a bitch to Wong Yoke Cham, who though deserved to be slapped, didn't deserved to be called stupid or moron all the times;
2. For being so vindictive and harbour such great hatred for a dead person, especially the spirit of Mak Chau Kuen;
3. For trying repeatedly to destroy and kill the spirit of Mak Chau Kuen, and thus destroying and denying her a chance at reincarnation by:-
a) finding a ghost catcher to repeatedly beat Mak Chau Kuen with "Lau Tzi" (willow's leaves) to almost "death";
b) employing the same ghost catcher to dig Mak Chau Kuen's grave in an attempt to destroy her bones and to make Mak Chau Kuen disappear;
c) employing the ghost catcher's sifu to falsely accuse Chau Kuen of haunting you and thus making you paranoid, scared and afraid, making everybody hate the ghost; and
d) for lying about your pregnancy and for pretending to dramatically fall down the stairs, begging your reluctant husband to burn the wooden tablet Mak Chau Kuen which almost killed her;
4. For lying to your beloved husband and made him look like a fool;
5. for screaming and saying things like "you're just a pig who was supposed to give the Wong family a child" to the second wife, Ah Wan;
6. for the way you treated Yeh Chi Tong and using him as your way to get even with Wong Yoke Cham; and
7. for being a scum, bitch, a pain in the a**, and for being so small minded, giving all women a bad name.
I really really hate her. I mean there is so much you can hate the ghost but this woman, she never listens. Let's take 2 scenes as an example to illustrate my point. Translated to the best of my ability.
Description : Ah Jan followed the unsuspecting Lin Sin to the seven sisters' apartment and listened to the friendly conversation they were all having (between the ghost and Lin Sin) who were busy burning paper dresses to Chau Kuen bought by Lin Sin out of kindness;
MCK : Mr Mau, what are you doing here?
MLS : I bought some things for you. I thought since you will be leaving us soon on the 5th of October for rebirth, I thought perhaps I could try to mkae you as happy before you leave so that you can reincarnate with a relaxed mind.
Seven Sisters: Let's try them, let's try them
MLS : You look very pretty in a western dress.
MLS : Thank you. I have always wanted a western dress.....
Anyway, our woman chose to ignore the "you will be leaving us soon on......" and only wanted to hear "You look so pretty.....".
She simply put her husband's statement out of context; being love for Mak Chau Kuen when it was just admiration.
Description : She pretended to be paranoid again in the hope of forcing Lin Sin to take and burn the wooden tablet. She even hurt herself physically and claimed it was the ghost's undoing. Lin Sin quickly ran to Chau Kuen, not for an explanation but to politely ask Chau Kuen to not to go near the Wong residence which she said she didn't. He believed her but nevertheless asked that she just don't go anywhere. Disappointed, she said alright.
Anyway, Ah Jan sent her driver as a spy and he came back for a report.
Spy :Madam..madam...Mr Mau went to the ghost and...
Ah Jan : Did he burn the wooden tablet? Did he burn the wooden tablet?
Spy : They talked but they were only friends..they didn't seem like
Ah Jan: I asked you, did he burn the wooden tablet?
Spy: She even agreed to...
Ah Jan : I said, did he burn the wooden tablet?
Spy : I really don't think that there's anything going on between..
Ah Jan : Shut up! I just want to know... did he burn the wooden tablet?
Spy : No he didn't..but
Ah Jan : Then there is nothing left to say. Get out!
I mean she only listens to what she wants to listen. Though as a woman I pity and feel for her, but he kind of "I love my husband" is all wrong.
Take Chau Kuen for instance. She never doubted Lin Sin's love for her though he never turned up when she jumped and drowned. She patiently waited and when she saw him again, he forgot about her, however disappointed that she was, she knew she loved him enough to let him go. She avoided him and at last decided they could be friends, though she still had the times that they spent together as her will to go on though she was lonely.
Take Yoke Cham for example. She may be a spoilt brat but she knew how to love. She gave and never hoped for anything in return. She even told Ah Jan that love is about giving and thus she never believed Chau Kuen would do anything to harm Lin Sin.
But did she listen? Noooooooo...she was one insecure woman driven to more hatred by her own inability to accept one fact; Lin Sin did once loved Chau Kuen and Chau Kuen did die for him. She is a ghost who never wanted to take Lin Sin with her and Lin Sin were doing what he was doing out of kindness. Why can't she see that and just be a little bit more accepting? To dig her grave was bad enough but to hurt Yoke Jam by hurting Yeh Chi Tong was below the level of human decency. I really really really really hate her.
The funny thing was she never realise that by doing what she did, she was actually driving her husband away rather than keeping him with her. h ghost was a poor excuse. In the end she was a selfish conniving unreasonable despicable undisputed Queen of Bitches. Forgive my crude language. I get very emotional when I see stupid people on screen, more so when I know in real life it could happen.
'ello Funn...Ah Jan did become good at last..: Which was a very good ending for her. So I guess I can't hate her than much for for 30 episodes she was one mean b***h but she was only so because she loved Lin Sin too much and her output of her love for Lin Sin were different from Chau Kuen's output. But good ending.
Most (Almost) Hated Character
She could have been my most hated but she was in the end just a mother who hoped for the best for her Yuen Yuen, that was Mrs Chan.
The scene that made me want to slap her was when Yeh Tzi Tong quit his job after being offered a job by Yoke Cham whose grandpa subsequently refused to give her funding for her proposed Advertising Companny. Left in a lurch, he begged for his job back but the gwailo head of the department was corrupt and wanted a big sum of money which he didn't have. Mr Chan took the money from the joint account with his wife but when she found out, she made such a big ruckus on the street, screaming that Yeh Chi Tong stole her money, cheated her money, etc that the police arrested Yeh Chi Tong who was subsequently released when Ah Cheung helped them as he worked as an interpreter at the police station. Yeh Chi Tong desperately wanted the money but in the end he didn't take it and run as urged by Mr Chan. Honourable yes but still a wimp as I shall elaborate below.
Most Pitiful Character
It's a fight between Yoke Cham and Chau Kuen but I'll say Chau Kuen. She's like already dead but some people still want to kill her. My heart aches for her when she met her Lin Sin again and he didn't remember her and was even afraid of her when he knew she was a ghost.
Most "Noisiest" Character
Cute yes but noisy as hell..that spoilt brat Wong Yoke Cham. She never knew the value of money and the meaning of responsibility until she met Yeh Chi Tong, and fell for him despite the class differences, and for him she even did the impossible; she studied hard in Shanghai but she still failed. She ain't smart by the way but she is nevertheless a nice 24 year old immature spoilt brat.
Most "What She Wants????" Undecided Character
Chan Yuen Yuen. She was raped by Ah Cheung one night, she cried and when she went home she saw the scribbles that Chi Tong made on the insides of his cupboard, saying things like he will work hard because he loved her. She smiled and I thought she loved him. And yet later we found out this woman behind Chi Tong's back has been spending many nights with Ah Cheung in his apartment, even wearing his pajamas. Obviously they were engaging more than friendly talk. And in the end, Chi tong made it easy for her. He told her to take the supermarket job that required her to move into the dorm and out of Chi Tong's house. She seemed reluctant, almost sad. So what did she want actually? The story did not explain on this as later we found out she left Ah Cheung who became abusive towards her when his career went bust (he slept with his bosses' wife), moved back with Chi Tong and promptly disappeared from the screen, never to be seen again. Very badly written exit. Probably they later became friends but the story was inadequate in explaining this point.
Most "Nicest" Character
I know wrong English/grammar but well... pardon me.
Mau Lin Sin. He was arrogant and hard to like 15 years ago but years later, he was calm, steady and very kind hearted. Unfortunately he married a..well you know the B word!
'ello Funn...Mau LIN Sin or Mau WAN Sin?: He was Mau Lin Sin but after he had amnesia, he became Mau Wan Sin. Which was why Yoke Cham wasn't sure if Chau Kuen was talking about the same man at first until she saw his picture.
Most "Wimp" of a Character
If you think Fong Yau Wai from Plain Love II was a wuss, try this Yeh Chi Tong! When he should punch someone he didn't. When he should be a man he didn't. When he shouldn't, like the incident with Yoke Cham and the stealing of money for his business thing, he acted cool and ignored her. Poor girl! All she did amounted to nothing. He was rude, ignorant, stupid and a complete wuss of a man. I really do not like him, not even from 1st episode. He never stood up for himself when insulted by Mrs Chan, he never fought with Ah Cheung for Yuen Yuen, he never stood up for Mei Ling when Mrs Chan insulted his own little sister, he didn't even thank Yoke Cham for helping him. Call him nice if you want to for his treatment towards Chau Kuen and sometimes Yoke Cham, but his "I don't want trouble" and non-confrontational attitude was something I did not like about him. One character that I can't respect.
Most Favourite Character
I actually like Mak Chau Kuen. She was such a nice person who became such a nice ghost. She actually let Lin Sin go, avoided him. But she was quite a sad character, living only in her memories of her Sin Kor. When she finally had this chance with Sin Kor, where he laid dying, she didn't even wait for him to die so that they can be eternally together, but she sang to him, made him well again. Which was why Ah Jan at last accepted her, because in the end they both loved Lin Sin as much and he loved them equally, Chau Kuen being his past and Ah Jan his future. At the present, he had both. What a nice character.
Most Favourite Couple
Nobody at all, not even Yoke Cham and her Coconut Sweet..because she cried too much and he was such a wuss.
Most Satisfying Factor
The fact that Ah Jan could let go of her hatred for Chau Kuen. That was a very nice and satisfying ending for Chau Kuen, Ah Jan and Lin Sin's story.
'ello! Funn...one question..who did Lin Sin loved the most? : Difficult to answer. He used to love Chau Kuen then he forgot about her. Even when he remembered everything he actually loved Ah Jan, his wife. He felt sorry, pity and sympathy for Chau Kuen. But at last, he liked her and when he finally remembered the feelings he had for Chau Kuen, he still loved Ah Jan. So I conclude a man's heart can store 2 women, love 2 women and be loved by 2 women. By the way, Ah Wan was never in the picture.
Most Stupidest Scene
I was stunned.
Yoke Cham was sick and she refused to eat her medication and tried to drive Yeh Chi Tong away because she knew she would be ugly, her hair would drop, etc. And so she screamed at Chi Tong and told him to leave HK! And he agreed, like a good dog will. This man was such a wimp. Anyway, the most stupidest one were the reason why Chi Tong listened to Yoke Cham and tolerated her insane behaviour. He said...
" I drank her medicine and just one gulp I felt like vomitting ..and she was very brave to drink it everyday..for me she endured all medication..she done so much for me and I have done nothing for her (..do remember he rushed to the hospital, even when he was tired he didn't say but continued to make her laugh, caused fire at his own shop, rebuild it in 20 days.etc all because he didn't want to disappoint Yoke Cham), this much I could do.."
Now, see something wrong in the above statement? Like wasn't she sick so she had to eat/drink/swallow all medication with or without Chi Tong? Talking about sacrifices, what Yoke Cham had to do was a must and what Chi Tong did was out of love. Stupid dialogue.
* SPOILERS .. END ..SPOILERS *
What To Expect
Sleep inducing, snail paced and boring storyline
A tender kiss between Charmaine and Gallen, but no kissy kissy between Kong Wah and Anne though you can see them as affectionate, by plenty of hugging, Anne sitting on his lap, both rolling down on the slippery slope whilst raining where you can see Kong Wah's arm brushed (no..landed) on Anne's Cheongsam clad breasts.
Charmaine speaking very decent English. I was impressed and that is a compliment.
Predictable ending with a confusing final scene.
Excellent themesong, sung beautifully by Gallen with such emotional depth.
Lovely dresses for the women. I especially like the wedding dresses for Anne, Charmaine and Charmaine's dresses. Looks very expensive.
'ello Funn..why is it that Annie Man's character suddenly have enough of budget to buy nice feminine dresses towards the second half of this series ah? : Good question. She was a schoolgirl so she was plain. Then she began working in Yoke Cham's grandpa's factory not as a factory girl BUT as a clerk or administrative assistant. So she needs nice working office dresses. Hence the dress change. But IF you notice carefully, Charmaine's dresses are all very high quality (albeit some a tad to small sized for the already small sized Charmaine), much more expensive looking than Annie's so I could only saw TVB costume department, you did a good job here but not good enough when it comes to the men's costumes.
Improved performances by some but still lacking.
Noisy noisy people, where 10 people talk at once. Get ready with your ear plugs.This is Hope For Sale with a richter scale of 10.0.
Performances Reviewed and Rated
Many were good, some were inadequate and some simply didn't have enough to do.
Eddie Cheung. I just finished and was impressed by his performance in Love Is Beautiful but in this series he was the best of the best, however a scum he was. In one of the scenes that made me say this, as scum and best of the best was the scene where he was having a conversation with Yuen Yuen. He was speaking lovey-dovey stuff to her and so Yuen Yuen didn't know he was smoking, drinking AND reading porno magazine all at the same time. The way he was teasing her was a classic playboy mode if you ask me. He wants sex and he will do anything to get it. Excellent performance more so when he played a similarly hated role in Love Is Beautiful, but a weaker man in that series.
Florence Kwok, especially when she ran into the burning theatre to save her husband. The desperation, the fear, the pain, the hopelessness were all there and Charmaine could have learn from Florence to portray all these emotions in about 15 minutes or so. I can safely say that you can expect great performances by this very talented but always a sidekick of an actress.
Lau Siu Ming as Grandpa Wong was simply the best under this category. Those scenes where he worried for Charmaine's Yoke Cham's health, those scenes he shared with Charmaine were the highlight of this series. A great performance.
Gallen Lo. His character was the SAME as in Hope For Sale. Overall, I liked Hope For Sale more because it was shorter and more to the point with some very poignant and heart wrenching scenes where there was no death but still as sad. But..he did a commendable job though a boring portrayal of an all too familiar character.
Yuen Keng Dan who was hilarious as the 1st Sister. Do look out for her scenes where she had to portray Anne's Chau Kuen. Very very good performance.
Akina Hong Wah (who plays the second wife of Lin Sin) was effective as the dim witted and sometimes mean Ah Wan.
Lo Lan was noisy as hell but she was very effective as that despicable Mrs Chan.
Loh Hoi Pang was good as the wimp of a husband of Mrs Chan.
All veterans and all were very very effective in their roles. I think whatever I've said about them in all my other reviews apply here. Same old thing .. good .. effective .. blah..blah..blah.What else can I expect from these veterans other than...THE BEST?
"No evaluation is available " Peformances
Annie Man and Ellesmere Choi; one pretty and one handsome. And both had so little to do but yet they did their best with the limited materials and let's just say I couldn't ignore their presence. But really, why can't they get a bigger role rather than just to provide support for...for everybody? I find that their talents (any amount of talent) were wasted in here and they reminded me of props or wallpapers. So I can't evaluate their performances. Any other actor could have been in their roles. What a waste of talent.
Shirley Cheung that plays Yuen Yuen. She is very fair but I can't understand why the producers chose this actress to play the role of a supposedly pretty and full figured Yuen Yuen. When she walked on the street men will look from down to up and up to down, concentrating on her bum when this actress had nothing to show. Even Anne Heong had more of a bum than this girl! But she was ok though I find her Yuen Yuen disagreeable.
Yew Ying Ying looked sick but she was effective in here as the main or au pair if you like to term her as such. I was told the actress was seriously ill for a long time and just recently recovered. Good for her.
Pains me to put his name in here because EVERYBODY knows how much I adore this man that I have once proclaimed the Most Underrated Actor In TVB.
His performance were so inadequate I can't scream at TVB for not giving him a decent chance. First of all he was too old at the beginning and yet he acted like a little boy. Whatever my dissatisfaction with his performance was as the earlier Mau Lin Sin. Though he shared great chemistry with Anne Heong, and I do enjoy their teasing of one another, I didn't like the way he behaved. Running like a little boy, talking like a little boy, it was like he didn't take his character seriously. When he became the later Mau Lin Sin, he was quite ok. He seemed more at ease as the mature and stable Lin Sin. I think he did a bad job in here, it was like he wanted us to see two different Lin Sin and so he made their behaviour that way but somehow, it was like Kong Wah was being more of a playful actor than a serious actor in here. He is capable of much more, capable of portraying characters with integrity of steel but in this series, either his character was badly written (50%) or badly portrayed (50%). He was so bloody thin that Anne looked bigger sized than he was. And he looked so old! What happened Mr Kong? I was very disappointed. I watched the series for him and I ended up enjoying Anne's and Charmaine's performances more than his. And this is no compliment to these two actresses. It's just shows that how bad Kong Wah was in here.
My heart aches for this man's bad performance in this series.
Most Improved But Still Totally Lacking In Something Performances
Many have criticised me that I have been way too harsh and I should be lenient and say nice things instead of saying "Worst Performances". Hence this long title for these two names.
The Inadequacy of the Character of Wong Yoke Cham & the performance of Charmaine Sheh
I have never had anything nice to say about Charmaine except for
1. she is pretty;
2. she can kiss/cry;and
3. she has potential.
In this series, she has a tailor made role just for Charmaine. I can't imagine anybody else who could play this spoilt brat that talks in that voice that will melt 100% of the male population, old, young and even babies in HK. She can really cry and her best scenes are always crying scenes or when she is "electrifying" some poor male costar with that voice of hers whilst grabbing their hands tightly. Poor old Grandpa Wong. In that aspect she did well. Her character in here is annoying, but her performance was far better than in Moonlight where she was wrong for the role of Chuk Kwan Hoe. She was far better here than in serious drama like in Crimson Sabre and HSDS 2000 which I had the misfortune of watching a few episodes. She is big time cute in here and clearly the babe and baby factor. You will feel like slapping her and yet hugging her. And she is pretty.
But one impression that I got from this character is that she must be really stupid or no-brainer, but still a nice kind girl however spoilt she may have been. I am not sure if that was supposed to be as such but I see a lot of similarities with Moonlight, only she is playing a feminine rude screaming girl instead of a tomboy like in Moonlight. Everything else was the same.
I miss her DIF IV and Flying Fox On Snowy Mountain ( a series where I actually liked her though I didn't like her performance) days where she will talk sweetly rather than scream ALL her lines.
The moment she appeared in this series, I see overacting, and that screaming thing. Her voice can be very irritating at times. But her character is as such and so I endured that voice and began to like her very nice Wong Yoke Cham. If I could ignore everything, I would say she gave her best performance thus far, since there were right amount of tears, laughter and cuteness.
But she is one very inconsistent actress, especially when she conveys her emotions. Remember that scene I hated where she imagine Yuen Yuen and Yeh Chi Tong together? The end of the whole imaginary thing looked like a separate scene instead of her imagination because she was crying instead of having that "I am imagining things" look. Her face registered sadness, but not fear or pain. And again, the worry frown look which was suitable for that scene, if she had fear and doubts registered on her face as well.
She portrays a very energetic girl, which I can see loads of energy in her. She seemed excited to be in this role, and you can she is really trying very hard to be better. And perhaps that is her flaw. Either she didn't try which is apparent or she tried too hard, which is even more apparent. Her enthusiasm and energy wears thin on us viewers after a while; I can't buy a complete stranger of a girl will hug a complete stranger of a guy (Yeh Chi Tong), so tightly grabbing his hands that her breasts were crushed against the side of his arms, just because she saw a ghost. Call that overacting, I'll call it play pretend. Her performance looked forced and therefore false and unreal. Like everything was done deliberately, as if she was thinking..Should I put my hand on the left? Alright I'll do it. Like many times she doubted herself and therefore she wasn't natural in what was supposed to be the role that was tailor made for her.
At first her character were spoilt but strong willed. She will not hesitate to speak her mind, especially to her despicable aunt who finds every chance to insult her. But as the series progresses, her character became weak, often crying and had this hopeless looks when it came to Yeh Chi Tong. Perhaps when a woman is in love, they will lose a part of themselves and just be girlish and unable to do anything or think about anything. I find that an inconsistency in the script and the actress herself. Why must they show Yoke Cham so desperate for Yeh Chi Tong where he simply ignored her and kept crying and begging? I thought the earlier Yoke Cham would have given him a piece of her mind, walk away and then come back to beg much later.
I don't like how her character becomes towards the end of this series and I certainly do not like Charmaine's big movements. She moves her hands way too much, she points too much, she pouts too much, she frowns too much, she laughs and smiles too much...everything was way too much with her and in the end her performance seemed more like a cartoon character, with abnormal proportion of everything. It didn't help that she was extra noisy though I assume Yoke Cham would have been like that. One very apparent trait in her was when she is afraid/happy/scared/pampered/begging.. she would always grab the actor's arms and hug it to her breasts so tightly I thought perhaps that poor actor's arm will have to be amputated for lack of circulation of oxygen! And her worst was in the last few tapes. She cried so much I thought where were the tears? She cried and cried and cried but if you look carefully. I can see more fear, pain and desperation in Florence Kwok's one five minutes scene that Charmaine had for the entire 2 episodes. She was crying very well, but it was crying that lacks the appropriate emotion. She cries because she has to cry. Shouldn't she give more? Whenever she tried to depict fear, her eyes look down with that worry frown. But in the series she has something extra. She throw things, to show that she has a tantrum and fear is making her unreasonable. But she couldn't even push the table right. It was like a timed effort. One..Two..Three now PUSHHHH. Nothing is natural and the most disappointing was...she was given such great opportunities to go beyond her own expected capabilities and she simply screwed it up by portraying Wong Yoke Cham like she portrayed Chuk Kwan Hoe, without soul and without emotional depth. I could even count how many emotion and expressions she has. I could predict where she puts her hands. I could predict where she will walk and how she will talk. She perhaps is undeniably cute but some scenes demands more than cuteness or pitiful looks. It demands for more emotional depths and in this respect Charmaine totally failed. I once wrote that she is a scene per scene actress. Believe me, whatever I have said about her still holds true, especially in this series. Why can't she just be more consistent? Performance isn't about one scene then next, it's an overall thing. Perhaps bad editing may have screwed it up for Charmaine but I truly believe no amount of good editing will ever make her performance consistent. It has to be herself that makes it consistent. I wonder has she ever really look at her character as a whole? Has she ever thought that perhaps how she portrays her character in Episode One will have a strong bearing on her performance in Episode 10?
I went to many forums before I saw this series and I have read many anti Charmaine who now is a pro Charmaine because of this series for a simple reason that she has improved, in their eyes. True enough, she improved but how much? I have said this so many times I am beginning to irritate myself for being so repetitive. It's not like I refuse to see her good points but I am just very disappointed that however hard she tries, she just fail. When she improves in one aspect, another aspect becomes a flaw in her. Every time she improves, a new flaw can be seen. It's like she is only able to do well in one aspect, whilst she has to ignore the others. Cute, yes, screen presence definitely but I am beginning to admit that perhaps she has little talent to go by. But there is a solution I think. For someone who has been through so much pain, as she lost her father at an early age, I assume her childhood though happy must have been difficult, all these could provide her with the extra edge to know and to portray a myriad of characters. It's cruel to do so but I truly believe if she utilise the memory of her childhood without her father, or how hard her mother worked to give her food, shelter, and put all these emotions in her when she portrays a sad scene, she could be more effective. Instead of just crying, she could be crying and baring her other side to us; the side of Charmaine giving us a sincere and thought provoking performance.
Her problem is she is acting by acting. I have yet to see a heartfelt and sincere performance with Charmaine where she will just ease up, loosen up and just transform herself where the role dictates. She is like a really good amateur actress. She still has potential and she is likeable but I feel she should go beyond whatever she is giving us now and just bare her soul to us. In the end her performance looks and feels fake to me and I find it such a pity because this role was hers to act, and she did quite well as it is quite obvious that she has improved a lot since Time Off but in my book of good performances, she is still not even remotely good enough. Being cute can only get you to a certain level. Being the viewers' favourite actress will certainly get you further but in the end, it is the combination of the above and your ability to be different that will set you for life; I have yet to see that final element in her.
Best Moments : When she "electrifies" her grandpa, some crying scenes.
Worst Moments : When she had to portray a scared and desperate Yoke Cham. All her inadequacies as an actress could be observed in such scenes, if only you ignore the fact that she is cute.
The character of Mak Chau Kuen and the Performance of Anne Heong
I gave her a thumbs up in Love Is Beautiful but in this series, I will give her a halfway thumb. Not up and certainly not thumbs down. She improved so much since her DIF IV days and I suspect she filmed this prior to Love Is Beautiful as she is far thinner in LIB than in here. She is one actress that has such great posture; she looks great in Chinese costumes, her neck is so long which is a fact that I will not notice if not for those gorgeous chinese dresses she wore. She looks elegant in here and pretty. And she looks young as Mak Chau Kuen and jaded as the ghost. I applaud her for her great performance when she was disappointed with Lin Sin forgetting about her, when she was screamed at by 1st sister, when she wanted so much to hug her Lin Sin but couldn't. Whilst Charmaine is good at being cute and electrifying people with her watery eyes, Anne Heong is very very good when she did not have to say anything, tears welling up in her eyes and she slowly look away, registering disappointment. You will actually feel sad for her. For that reason I like her in this series. And my expectation of her is low compared to Charmaine.
But this series isn't just about crying and looking away. It's more than that. She had a heavy burden because her character was supposed to be sad, lonely, and yet happy and contented. It is a very difficult character to portray.Though she wasn't bad, her performance in some scenes were disappointingly shallow.
For instance, she can't cry and run and act at the same time. She looks like she is not up to par for those scenes. She has to do one emotion and one action at a time. Her worst scene had to be when she was beaten by that ghost catcher. For a moment I thought "Great..torture for ME!". And yet her bests were with Kong Wah. She has great chemistry with Kong Wah and I do like those scenes where she teased him and he teased her in those flashback scenes, when viewed for the first time but not the repeats. She could have given much depth to her Chau Kuen, like she did with Chor Chor (well not much depth but a few "feet" will do") as this role was hers to act. But she did not and that lazy drawl of her kept creeping back and I find that annoying. Overall, she gave a good performance, if I just ignore everything else. But I can't.Her performance were inadequate in emotional depth.
Best Moments : When she silently cries, without talking, feeling the hurt in her heart and all scenes with Kong Wah.
Worst Moments : When she cries,talks and run at the same time. She is one actress who is capable of processing only one emotional output at one time.
If you're a fan of Charmaine Sheh and Anne Heong, this is the series for you. But if you're neither and is looking for a good series to watch that is enjoyable, entertaining and suspenseful, THIS IS NOT THE SERIES. If there is a series to avoid this year, make it this one. Don't say I didn't warn you. Fans of Kong Wah, do avoid this one. You'll be as disappointed as I was. This series had to be the worst thus far and why waste your time in this lame series? Invest in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon or even Love Is Beautiful.
Lessons To Be Learned From This Series
5. If your husband's lover is dead and return as a ghost but did nothing to "haunt" or "hound" him..well let it be. She is dead..what can they do? (Ah Jan)
4. If you're dead, for God's sake, go to Heaven, reincarnate. What's the point of waiting for your lover when in the end, you'll still have to leave him? (Chau Kuen)
3. You're sick, your hair is falling, you're going to be ugly, you're frustrated, you want to push your BF away..DON'T. Try being him for a day. He's suffering as much as you're. It's easier to be sick and then die than to be the person who watches the woman that they love slowly dying before them. Because when you're dead, you're dead but your BF will live on, haunted by the memory of your death, and I assume he loves you as much as much as you love him. (Yoke Cham)
2. Children, however much you love them, in the end when they grow up, everything and anything they will run to their BFs and not you. (Grandpa Wong)
1. When you really love someone, you'll hope for the best for them. If anything happens to you, you would wish for them to cry for a while and then live on. You would wish that thye have a happy and fruitful life, that they will live beuyond your death, that they will always remember you but will not let the memory of you to burden them, but look at you as their beautiful memories to cherish for the rest of their lives. if you really l;ove somebody, you'll always wish for the best for them. This is called true love, which doesn't mean sacrifices but wishing them well. (The series, Seven Sisters)
Wish them well?
If you are dead (TOUCH WOOD!) how long would you like your husband/wife to grieve for you? One year? Two? Ten? Forever? the selfish me says forever but yet I would rather wish that they live on and remember me for the rest of his/her life. Moreover, if you believe in life after death, there's always an eternity when the life ends. you can always wait for them in the after life.
Let me break it down into scene per scene comparison.
The ghost and former lover with new love scenes
Very familiar eh? Well..remember Time Before Time? Gordon Lam, Cathy Chow and the same Florence Kwok as the new love interest? Well in there, Gordon reincarnated as someone else and the ghost, Cathy was looking for her rich lover whom she wasn't sure lived or died. It was a pseudo-comedy, quite good, even had Uncle Lung in there (wow! Same casts!) as the Uncle. It was a better series but still had its flaws. The ending was the best though. Cathy's last scene was going to reincarnate, and Gordon and Florence thought she reincarnated. Florence who never really hated the ghost accepted that the ghost and her BF shared their previous lives together. They married, had children, lived a long life and Gordon then died. He went to hell,and surprise surprise, he saw Cathy who was waiting for him all these years. They reincaranted and at last found each other again in the modern world. Very touching and satisfying ending.
The Wuss Of A Character
As frustrating as Gordon Lam's Fong Yau Wai in Plain Love II, and Gallen's previous character in Hope For Sale would be Gallen's Yeh Chi Tong in this series. Same same same.
A Ghost Befriending Someone and Changing Their Lives Forever
A Loving Spirit where Yuen Keng Dan was the ghost and the pair was Lawrence Ng and Esther Kwan. Same as in this series between Anne, Gallen and Charmaine. Both had a sad ending, but A LOving Spirit was worse. Supposedly a comedy it wasn't funny. Do read my review.
Sick Loved Ones, Pushing BFs Away
There is this old Taiwanese series that I saw which made me a fan of Yue Ling's many years ago called For Better Or For Worse (Tin Ngai Gung Bei Si) made in year 1994 that talked about a man who was pushed away by his dying wife because she was afraid of him seeing her ugly, amongst other insecurities. I find Xiao Qiang portrayal of the wife similar in actions with Charmaine's Yoke Cham but with much more depth. I hated the wife but this much I admit; Xiao Qiang was very good when she tried her best to push Lin Rui Yang's Zhi Ming away for fear about everything. You can see it in her eyes..just ignore the tears and the many crying scenes. I wrote a review for this series which can be found in my ALL ABOUT YUE LING : MAIN website, under Reviews.
Though Gallen was good, but I personally thought Gordon Lam would have been perfect as Yeh Chi Tong, since the character is not very educated, a hard working man, but Gordon will bring a certain cockiness into the character, and I would assume and predict, much more energise performance.
Kong Wah was bad in the first half and tolerable in the second. He can't be replaced but I would have hoped for a different interpretation by this actor or perhaps rewrite his character. For Taiwanese counterpart, I can only think of Qiu Xin Zhi but I am biased. His name is like the only Taiwanese actor that I care about but I believe he could bring out the emotional depth of this character, but he is too young looking. So my vote will go to who else but King of Emotions, Steve Ma Jing Tao. When he doesn't overact, he can be really effective. And he does resemble Kong Wah..both as dark, as old and as thin.
Anne Heong was made for this role. Can't think of anybody which was sad because she isn't great, though she looks like the part. Perhaps Esther Kwan or Ada Choi when they were younger. But my choice would be Cecilia Cheung Pak Chi, if she ever ventures into television. She is pretty, she could act, she could cry but she must do something about her voice. The Taiwanese counterpart, I would vote for Huang Yi. She has the looks and the gentleness to play this character. But for good acting chops, the best had to be Yue Ling. She can portray the natural sadness of a character, but for gentleness, I will still go for Huang Yi.
Charmaine Sheh was born for this role. But could anybody else have done it better than her? Perhaps Joey Man Yi Man from ATV? Even Annie Man herself? Or Ruby Lin perhaps which would also be perfect for this role? Yep, Ruby Lin could do a better job, though she is not a very good actress, she is far better than Charmaine. She is prettier and she can be very very pampered in her mannerism.
The opera song that you keep hearing in here is real, and I believe the series took the name Mak Chau Kuen from the song and make it into a story. But ever notice that the song is so familiar? I found out that it is the SAME SONG that you'll hear Dicky reciting, as a poem again and again in Duke of Mount Deer 2000.
Audiences seem to love Charmaine but not Anne Heong. In a recent audience poll, viewers disliked Anne Heong's face. I really don't think of her as pretty and she has this tendency to have bad skin and dark circles under her eyes after 10 episodes of filming but she does look ravishing in Chinese Cheongsams. Her neck is so long, never noticed it before this series. She has a very good and healthy body, tall and sturdy. But she isn't cute nor is she gorgeous which I guess is why viewers dislike her. Charmaine is cute but she isn't ravishing. I guess you can't have it both ways.