VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE

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








Written by Funn Lim


"... (Sei Leong) she must have sex within 4 hours and that sex must last for 8 hours. And poor (or lucky depending on how you see it) Siew who had to have the strength and stamina of a bull to keep up that long."




SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!





Cantonese Title
Wuxia series set in, well can't remember but anyway based on the novel of the same name (I presume) by Gu Loong.

Not Kam Yoong?
For once, no not Kam Yoong (or Jin Yong) but now Gu Loong.

Cantonese Title
Listen to this ... "Siew Sap Yat Long" which actually and literally means The 11th Bloke With The Surname Siew. But thanks to its really slow storyline and a very disaster-ish ending, just 3 episodes into this series I have renamed it "Siu Sat Yat Long" meaning The Disappearing 11th Bloke. Why? I am sure you will realise I find this series so boring I wished it just disappear because it was unfortunate the next series in line (Astro) after this series ended was Burning Flame 2 and all the while in my head I was hearing sirens and seeing Alex Fong's face and this series just never ever ends.

Cast-Character
Lee Ka Sing - Siu Sap Yee Long
Felix Wong - Siu Sap Yat Long
Kwok Yew Ming - Lin Sing Bik
Halina Tam - Fa Yu Yuk
Maggie Siu - Fung Sei Leing
Anne Heung - Sum Pik Kuan
Tsang Wai Kuen - Yeung Hoi Tai
Hugo Ng - Siew Yew Hao
Little Master

Guest Starring Michelle Yip - dead Mrs Chor/young Miss Chor

Summary
The Siew family has sworn to protect the location of the Chor's treasures for 60 years but in the tradition of a good old Wuxia series, nothing ever seems to be perfect.


The Plot
60 years ago, a man surnamed Siew promised to deliver the information about the whereabouts of the treasure belonging to the famous Chor Lau Heung's descendants. Because of this promise generations of Siew fought and died to keep the promise as many in the mo-lum world heard about this treasure and sought the Siews for the information. One Siew even sacrificed his younger son so that his eldest son will carry the burden of the promise alone. And this young son grew up to be the famed and notorious thief named Siew Sap Yat Long. He was of course not a thief but a loner who lives alone and travels alone to avoid publicity but fame, even bad fame seems to run after him. But one woman, Fung Sei Leong who is a Marshall in charge of arresting him believed him and even learned to love the carefree Siew who was actually burdened by the promise.

The one day Siew met a man famous for his integrity and honour, Lin Sing Bik who married the most beautiful woman at that time, Sum Pik Kuan of the infamous Sum family. But when one day the old matriarch of Sum and her people were murdered and Pik Kwan saw Siew killing her 2 brothers, she immediately assumed Siew killed her family and swore revenge when in actual fact Sum did indeed killed the 2 brothers because these two Sum brothers betrayed their family for some unknown nemesis.

But as Siew again and again repeatedly saved Pik Kuan from danger, Pik Kwan began to appreciate him and see him as a good man. And then Pik Kuan realised her honourable husband Sing Bik was actually a traitor and was using her to find out from Siew the infamous treasure. That was when their relationship suffered but they got together again when Pik Kuan discovered she was pregnant but as she lost her baby to despicable people who were actually working for a Persian man named Siew Yew Hao, she began to hate her husband and there was a divorce between the 2. And Pik Kwan was free to love Siew and Siew was free to love Pik Kuan. And then Siew Yew Hao revealed to Siew that Sing Bik was actually his younger brother whom their father threw over the cliff years before but survived the fall. And so Siew and Pik Kuan could not love each other openly because of tradition and custom as Pik Kuan was Sing Bik's wife and Sing Bikwas still pursuing Pik Kuan for forgiveness for ulterior motives.

It all culminated to the chamber where the treasure was hidden, with Siew Yew Hao sacrificing more than he can afford and Siew Sap Yao Loong standing there poisoned.

Who will win?

Ending Revealed
I don't think anybody would mind if I reveal the ending. Very shocking, too shocking, the first of its kind in a TVB series that almost everybody who is anybody dies in the end.

Quire predictably and very anti-climax, Siew Yew Hao died after opening the tomb of Chor's beloved dead wife in the treasure chamber, mostly out of dare and because he could get away with anything. The walls of the cave began to crumble and Siew Yew Hao was half crushed to death by rocks and half stabbed to death by Siew. Siew took Pik Kuan and ran out but both were separated by the walls of rocks and as Siew urged Pik Kuan to run and promising he will be outside the cave in no time, (and Pik Kuan dutifully ran) Siew was actually crushed to death inside the cave. Pik Kuan waited and on Siew'e behalf together with Sei Leong they went to the restaurant as agreed by the Chors and the Siews years before to fulfill the 60 years promise and met a girl looking exactly like Chor's dead wife who was actually the young girl's grandmother. As they sat there talking about love, life and death, Pik Kuan realised and knew Siew was already dead. But life goes on and she retired to a small house, living alone for the rest of her life whilst Sei Leong returned to her police life, much happy, contented but missing Siew.

Siew didn't die did he?
Many might argue about the ending because Pik Kuan last saw Siew, playing an instrument by her house and she was smiling. But let's face it, he was trapped in a cave, the only route out was blocked. He was actually slowly dying from poison. The last scene was a falling big rock. He died. Pik Kuan was imagining things and TVB was being really cruel.


Comments
I have often heard about Gu Loong, but never really seen the adaptation of his books, except maybe for that Richie Ren's Chor Lau Heung and that didn't promote Gu Loong in any way. I have also often heard about stories in Wu Xia, where a heroine is poisoned and the poison can only be sucked out by the hero making love to her for like hours and hours and he himself became poisoned. In fact I think this is the premise of most wuxia based porno flicks. Surprisingly and interestingly, this series have this sordid plot but well, very nicely done. I couldn't help but laugh when Sei Leong was poisoned and she must have sex within 4 hours and that sex must last for 8 hours. And poor (or lucky depending on how you see it) Siew who had to have the strength and stamina of a bull to keep up that long. And he did and he got poisoned! In fact I was pretty amazed.

I guess that was probably the only interesting plot in this series other than Michelle Yip's appearance in this series. Frankly I found this series boring, utterly boring but definitely not as silly and nonsensical like Eternal Happiness. This series could have been so much better if a bigger budget is allocated to it and perhaps a better script writer.

The first few episodes were tedious to say the least with Siew running around everywhere trying to be funny and all and the few episodes in the middle was dreary as it was how Siew and Pik Kuan's love blossomed and the ending was shocking and sad but still boring because for no other reason other than the fact that it was a really boring series.

Could a better script have made a better series? Definitely. Perhaps a better cast? I feel the casting was quite alright though Felix Wong was a tad too old. In fact I would have though Siew Sap Yat Long was a bit how shall I put it, debonair but devilishly playfully debonair and Felix Wong looked more heroic than mischievous. And did you see Hugo Ng? I nicknamed this series the Senior Citizen's series as everybody looked so old, especially Hugo Ng, who looked more like a grandfather than some middle aged villain. What about better costume? Probably. Better stunts? Not really as that would mean a very flashy series but without a good storyline as a base, nothing will work.

The thing is the make up and the stunts in this series reminded me of the good old days, you know when technology meant no computer animations and special effects. For one thing Sing Bik's hairstyle was very traditional and though you may say he looked sissy, I thought he looked honourable and heroic but when the hairstyle changed you will notice this man was not very honourable. Siew Sap Yat Long in the first few episodes suffered from bad perm but that was probably because to show his carefree and I don't-care attitude. Later in the series his hair became much cleaner, more heroic looking and thus presented a more serious hero for the viewers. Anne Heung's Sam Pik Kuan had very little make up on (which usually meant loads of make up to look natural) and her dresses were very simple and yet effective as I could see her as the most beautiful woman at that time because all these dressings and make ups made up an image that was very lady like, very feminine, soft spoken, educated and very gentle and definitely very elegant. As for Maggie's costume as Fung Sei Leong, so her hairstyle may be a bit over the top and her dressing way too shabby but it connotes a very care free and spirited woman, a capable woman. The dressing were given so much attention and yet so very little to the script itself.

Basically I find the portrayal of women in this series rather positive, because all of them are capable swordsman, highly independent and as one character Fa Yu Yuk played by Halina Tam shows, she knows what is right and what is wrong and chooses the right even to the detriment of her own brother, Siew Yew Hao's interest. They all have an opinion and they don't live for men. They can let go (like Sei Leong) and yet they could yearn for their loved one in a gentle way without being too emotional (like Pik Kuan) and can be very decisive with their own principal and integrity (like Fa Yu Yuk). Of course there are silly ones like Little Master but very few.

As for the men, as this series depicts, the line between good and evil, sane and madness is very thin. And the men in here are either confused, indecisive or plain bastards.

Take Siew Yew Hao for example. I really didn't understand why he would want the Chor treasure when he had so much money himself as he obviously lived in a villa on a very scenic mountain. But he wanted the money of course. And why would he disturb the tomb of Chor's wife being a shrewd man he should know there are traps abound? Then I understood why. There is a thin line between sanity and madness as I have said above. Perhaps Siew Yew Hao was obsessed with the treasure that at the end of the day the treasure is not what that drove him but the idea of getting the treasure . He may have been shrewd but once he discovered he found the treasure and Siew was too poisoned to fight him, Siew Yew Hao became arrogant and arrogance and greed will bound to cloud ones judgment. Which basically shows even the most calculative and shrewd man, used to using deception to get what he wants and sacrificing those he loves without so much of any concern for his loved one's feelings and life could succumb to "blindness" when he became too blinded by himself. Call him an ego maniac or even call him stupid. But that's a very real man. I do pity Siew Yew Hao in a way because he lost far more than he had gained. He lost his life (that should be the crucial loss of course), he lost a woman who would actually die for him (he killed her actually) and most of all he lost his only sister who decided not to assist him in his diabolical plan to control the wuxia world. Perhaps he was often mistreated due to his nationality, maybe his madness is more about race and less about money. Whatever it was, he fell because he made it that way.

Take Fa Yu Yuk for example, his lesbian sister. Yes, lesbian because she professed her love for Sei Leong, many many times. Chec out some really provoking pictures below. She may have helped her brother to hurt Sei Leong (by poisoning her so as to poison Siew through the marathon sex session) but she regretted her action. Came to a point she stomped her feet on the ground and said no. At least she knew how and when to stop because she was driven by her love for her brother, disappointed by his uncaring attitude and in the end retired because she was tired of fighting a battle that was not hers. When Sei Leong asked her to help stop Siew Yew Hao the devil (as nicknamed by Sei Leong), she gave a brilliant answer;

"You can't expect me to help you to destroy my brother, however I will not assist him anymore. I will retire and I will not care anymore for this world".

I thought that was brilliant because by not helping her brother she had in a way stopped herself from committing more sins so to speak and yet by not helping Sei Leong, she is not answerable perhaps to a charge of unfilial-ness. Simply brilliant.

Then take Sum Pik Kuan. Ok so Anne Heung wasn't terrific but her character was far stronger than I have anticipated. She may have started out as a rather weak character, but her Sum Pik Kuan has steely determination and when she sets her sight on something, she will never ever let go. When she knew Siew died, she wanted to kill herself. She wanted to give up. But after the touching and inspiring story as related by the Chor descendant (played with brilliant subtlety by Michelle Yip), she realised one greatest truth and I shall reproduce the words of Chor descendant;

"To die for the one you love is far too easy but to live on because of a beloved who is dead, that is difficult ... and my grandfather understood why my grandmother chose that path..."

Now what did Mrs Chor do you may ask? She realised she was dying. But she didn't dare tell Mr Chor because she knew he was too in love with her and he would choose death than to live a life without her. And so she went and hid in a cave and only when she died that Mr Chor knew the truth. At first he was so saddened by her death, he refused to live. But then he realised why Mrs Chor chose to hide the truth from him; because she knew he would be that way. By choosing the loneliest way to die, she wanted Mr Chor to know death is only but a brief separation. Life goes on. And so when Siew told Pik Kuan to run for her life, lying to her that he found an exit, he did that because he loved her and because he loved her he wanted her to live. Pik Kuan almost killed herself but when she realised she was actually meant and destined to take the place of Siew to meet the Chor descendant, she realised she still being alive has a deeper purpose. And so she chose life.

But that's so depressing as I shall explain.

Would you rather be Sei Leong or Pik Kuan? That to be loved and love or to love without the return of your love? When Siew died, Sei Leong would always be saddened by his death and she will always love him. But the knowledge that Siew actually loved Pik Kuan and not she would in a way spare Sei Leong from a lifetime of loneliness, a lifetime of solitude and a lifetime of wait for eternity to beckon. Pik Kuan had to bear that burden knowing Siew chose her minutes before he died. And she too loved him very much and the last scene where she heard and saw Siew playing the flute (or was it a leaf?), that wasn't a happy scene as we all know Siew died. What Pik Kuan saw was an illusion, her wish that will never come true. She will live a life waiting for when she dies, Siew will be waiting for her at the other world. As for Sei Leong, she went back to her carefree self. My conclusion is to be able to love and be loved as deeply as Siew had for Pik Kuan and vice versa is really great but I'd rather be Sei Leong. At least there comes a point Sei Leong will be able to move on and Siew will be but a distant memory of some sort. As for Pik Kuan, she can never move on. I feel in a way the ending is so depressing. Moreover, Sei Leong had the benfit of a marathon sex session with Siew but Pik Kuan, only the hold of his hand.

And now I shall move on to another character, a rather intriguing but badly cast character. Siew's brother, Lin Sing Bik played by Kwok Yew Ming and frankly I knew he would be a hypocrite type of gentleman. Such a typecast and so obvious. But there could have been so much more to this character if more careful attention was given to it to develop as I find this character in so much more of a dilemma than Siew himself. You see he was thrown off the cliff by good old daddy. Can't blame him for hating his father. But he overstepped the boundaries of decency the way he treated Pik Kuan and the way in the end he lied to his own brother. I guess in a way Siew knew his brother would run after the treasure but Sing Bik was actually being used by Siew Yew Hao. In the end he'd rather kill himself than to have Siew Yew Hao use him as a pawn in killing Siew, because he finally realised all these amount to nothing but the most important is family and decency in ones own integrity. When before he died he told Siew to take care of Pik Kuan, you know he still loves Pik Kuan (though Pik Kuan doesn't care a ninny about him anymore) and he is actually a good man driven to being bad by many external and sometimes internal factors. He is different from Siew Yew Hao. Siew Yew Hao is driven as I have written above by his greed and his ego and his desire to conquer, the "I want" mentality. Sing Bik on the other hand was driven by his childhood memory or the lack of it and the fact he was the unwanted son. He was driven more by his anger and a need to show his father that it was he who got the last laugh than just greed. Being thrown off the cliff is a very traumatic experience. What is common between these two men is how they took a gamble at life and their reputation by doing what they did and frankly both failed miserably. It just shows doing crime does not pay.

As for Siew himself, when he ignored Pik Kuan you could blame his as a wuss but remember Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon? Same concept. Chinese (and I guess only in the olden days) may be poor or without possession but a good name, a good reputation and strict adherence to custom will somehow help a bit in ones climb up the social ladder. Pik Kuan and Siew thought they were bound by such customs, such belief but Yu Yuk wisely said if they love each other, go for it. At last when they confessed love for one another, it was not a happy ever after ending. Siew by himself is a rather strange character. In the beginning, he is carefree, debonair and couldn't care less about what others think of him. He was always smiling and his messy maggie mee haristyle suited this image. When he finally settled down and thought he was married to Pik Kuan in Siew Yew Hao's many schemes to get him to reveal the treasure's location, his image changed and that image stuck throughout the series, where his hair was combed, his dressing more down to earth and proper and he rarely smiles. I guess at that point when he knew he was falling for Pik Kuan, he must be a stable man himself, no longer just care free without any responsibilities. In a way that contributed to the image change. But throughout the entire series he was a loner. Can't blame him since many wanted to destroy him or to use him and Pik Kuan towards the end was often the target of kidnapping plots to get Siew to talk. Which was why in a way he walked away from her, not to give her harm. But Pik Kuan, good for her refused to leave.

I am at this point unable to reach a definite and fair conclusion as to whether this series is a series "that wasn't that bad" or was a "really bad series". I skipped the most part of it but I saw the ending and was touched by it. In a way this series is very different from what I normally see. This series in the end isn't about a treasure, in fact quite anti-climax but this series is more about how people react to the news of a treasure. That could bring out the best or worst in some people. So in a way this series is more about people, their characters and their choices than mere politics or pure drama. Men and women are equal in here for the chances of survival and living doesn't always end when death occurs. It continues on. Whilst depressing it is nonetheless quite positive in its message.

The Silliest Reasons
Because of one promise, the Siews lost so many lives and was hunted. And the young Miss Chor appeared and said all along the Chors were trying to find the Siews to tell them the promise need not be fulfilled. And guess why they didn't tell the Siews in time? They couldn't locate the Siews. I mean puh-lease. Can't locate Siew Sap Yat Long when everybody could? Maybe as the Chors explained, they were out of the wuxia world for far too long, retired since the death of their grandfather, Chor Lau Heung. But it was so silly that at the end so many sacrifices and the Chors didn't even want the treasure.

Performances Evaluated
A senior citizens in the casting aspect though Anne Heung isn't that old. Really.

Felix Wong
Years before he would have been perfect but now a tad old. But how old is Siew anyway? I feel I have been brainwashed by Kam Yoong with images of young healthy male adults knowing skillful kung fu because of mere talent. In here with Felix Wong, I could imagine years of training reaching this moment of great kung fu. And I don't see him as jaded or debonair. Another actor might fit the bill but I have always liked Felix Wong. He has charisma and that I feel is one thing many actors lack nowadays.

Maggie Siu
You may say her role is pointless but managing to look rather dignified as an actress after the marathon sex scene is an achievement only the most talented actress could be able to be. I think she may have aged but she have aged beautifully over time. She at times looks far prettier than Anne herself. As for her role of Sei Leong, she plays an important part. It's just that she being one of the leads may not always end up with the male lead.

Anne Heung
An uninspired performance though not that bad. I could see gentleness in her Sum Pik Kuan and I can see why Siew loves her. But nevertheless her acting is not earth shattering and at times she too looks like a senior citizen.

Kwok Yew Ming
Definitely typecast as the hypocritical gentlemanand he did it so well I am beginning to think of him as a jerk, especially after An Herbalist Affair. I like the ending though and generally I think he carried the role of the "small" man very well indeed.

Hugo Ng
Definitely very excited to see him back but would have wished for a better series for his return to TVB. His character though is the most exciting to watch though quite an anti-climax for an ending. I think he did well but really what happened to him? He looked so old I am beginning to call him grandpa. In fact Felix is uncle, he is grandpa.

Tsang Wai Kuen
Always a dependable actor and like Roger Kwok, hardly changed in looks and appearance even after so many years in front of the viewers. He looks great you know. His role though may not be much but he carried the honourable and simple minded Yeung well.

The Lady Who Played Little Master
I know who she is, she is the host of many TVB8 programmes. Very pretty in real life, here she plays a tomboy and may I say, she is quite ok. Her ending is a bit abrupt, a bit rushed but then like the way Siew Yew Hao treated her Little Master, her role at the end is nothing more than an insignificant pawn. Started out strong, ended up weak and used by men. A good performance.

Halina Tam
Too thin and looks like a senior citizen herself. A rather interesting character she played mostly because well, of her confession of being in love with Sei leong (I had to rub my ears to hear that right) and also her strength, her ability to say no to her own brother. Halina was well I guess tolerable. Wasn't great. Her lipstick too shiny, quite unrealistic.

Michelle Yip
I was waiting for her to appear in this series and she appeared in the last 10 minutes or so. First as the corpse (Mrs Chor) and then a young Miss Chor. I thought at first she was in this series to play a corpse? And how old did Mrs Chor died anyway as she looked young and fresh. Anyway, surprisingly as young Miss Chor, her guest starring was by far the best I have seen. I mean this series was getting way too depressing and there she was, looking very pretty in her very pretty costume and speaking with such calm tones, suddenly I realised she was pretty, and she was very very elegant and her performance when controlled was very good. I guess she shines the most in guest starring roles. A magnificent appearance. I hope she plays more of those suffering tragic characters.

Verdict
This is probably the most liberal minded storyline I have seen in years with the usual jealous scum husbands, villain without a cause, mad woman in love as well as marathon one night stand, forbidden love, forbidden lust, and of course lesbianism. I find all these liberal themes, mostly familiar but some quite daring very interesting but a story can't be interesting and watchable based solely on controversies. The acting is quite ok, but it's the pacing of the series and the story itself that is mostly bad, many times boring but in a way not too bad if you could sit through the entire series because this series does have a story to tell, snail pace not intended I am sure. Fans of Felix Wong, Maggie Siu and Anne Heung may like the difference in the characters they usually play whilst fans of Hugo Ng will rejoice the fact that he is back, and gave a memorable performance. If all of these fails to entice you (well viewers like me) do remember, marathon one night stand. Enough to entice you I am sure. But not enough for me.

Rating


Interesting differences between Gu Loong and Kam Yoong
I was told that Gu Loong always write about one hero, debonair but very lonely, burdened by some purpose and very melancholy. I do not know. Someone actually prefers his books, citing that they're more deeper, artistic, very well written. So far none of the series adapted from his books convinced me otherwise and I did not see Adam Cheng's Chor Lau Heung. As for Kam Yoong, I have seen enough of the adaptations of his books to know one thing; always the her, always so many friends, always so many women and always so political towards the end.

Interesting Observation
Wow. Chor Lau Heung mentioned in this series! Wow! I guess like Kam Yoong, there are recurring characters in Gu Loong's story. Anybody read Gu Loong before? Do tell me if this series was in anyway faithful to the novel.


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