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








Written by Funn Lim


"It was at times funny, it was at times interesting, it was at times refreshing but the plot is at all times daring."



SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!





Cantonese Title Deciphered
"Fei Seung Goi Fu" which means The Extraordinary Father In Law. And this title is perhaps the most confusing of all aspect of this series because 90% of this series is not about the father in law being a father in law but a husband two timing his loving wife. It should have been "Fei Seung Sei Lou Kung". Those who knows Cantonese may know what I mean.

Released In
2003

No. of Episodes
20

Cast-Character
Adam Cheng -Ting Kwai Mui (Jeff)
Cecilia Yip - Fu Yung
Joyce Tang- Hung Min
Michelle Yip- Ming Chu
Kenneth Ma-ko Wai Lei
Angela Tong- Lisa
Wayne Lai- Kei

Guest starring Sonija Kwok

Plot
Not your typical plot of the day, Ting Kwai Mui is a successful businessman running his uncle's night club and having fun with life. Married over 20 years to a former singer, Fu Yung who became a loving a dutiful wife, he loves his only child, a daughter aged about 20 named Ming Chu very very much. Things started to shake a bit when Kwai Mui decided to become a bit more flirtatious than he should but none of his affairs were ever serious, until he met an independent and a very principled young Chinese doctor named Hung Min who from his most detested person became the other woman in his life.Hung Min did not complain being the other woman, Fu Yung never suspected and treated Hung Min like her little sister. Meanwhile, Kwai Mui's only daughter, Ming Chu fell hard for a trickster who wanted to marry her and run away with her money on her wedding day but Wai Lei realised there were more than just fash cash as Kwai Mui controlled the night club business thanks to his uncle who had 4 wives but no sons to pass the business to. So Wai Lei decided to stick around pretending to be the loving husband that he was but Kwai Mui soon found out about Wai Lei's true self when Wai Lei's ex-wife showed up demanding a reconciliation when he ran out of her before. Instead of exposing the cheat that he was, Kwai Mui played along with Wai Lei's game as Wai Lei knew about Hung Min and threatened Kwai Mui he will expose the other woman to Fu Yung. As Kwai Mui thread very carefully on cheating on his wife, mainting a blissful relationship with his mistress and watching his daughter being potentially cheated off not just her body but of her heart, things fell apart when Fu Yung found out about the whole matter. Fu Yung kicked Kwai Mui out thinking having some hardship will make him run back to her but Hung Min took him in with open arms, determined to keep her man though she didn't mind sharing with the wife. At the meantime, Wai Lei plotted to get rid of Kwai Mui by using the shameful threesome matter and in the end, Kwai Mui was cast out of the Ting family and Wai Lei took over the business. Fu Yung could not bring herself to forgive Kwai Mui and when Wai Lei further damaged Kwai Mui's reputation by setting him up with another woman (Victoria Jolly). Now abandoned by both his wife and mistress with no money and no family to turn to, not even his daughter, Kwai Mui suffered a great deal until he was rescued by one of his former girlfriends, Lisa who retired from the night club scene and was living in with Kwai Mui's brother in law, a decent hard working man, Kei. Kei did not want to believe Kwai Mui but in the end believed him when he found out how Wai Lei was taking over the business. As Kwai Mui plotted to regain back his wife, mistress and his business and to topple Wai Lei, Wai Lei himself was having a change of heart when he realised he was indeed in love with Ming Chu. By that time Fu Yung already knew Wai Lei's true nature and gave him an ultimatum; leave Ming Chu at once. He was about to when he found out Ming Chu was pregnant.

Now torn between his need to right the wrong so that he could continue to be with Ming Chu and his accomplices who wanted to gain as much money as possible in any way possible, Wai Lei had to deceive, cheat and lie to save Ming Chu as no one would believe he was a changed man.

Can Kwai Mui enjoy the company of two women? Can Wai Lei redeem himself?

I can guarantee a happy ending but sort of.

Comments
This series, I read was not a success. I can understand why. It was not for the lack of good performances, it was not for the lack of a different type of story, nor it for the lack of star power. Adam Cheng is always entertaining, be it in drama or comedy. This series by the way is comedy. I guess it isn't a success because 3 factors; EEEWW, aiyah and yeah right! I think this series can be summarised into these 3 reactions.

EEEWW
First of all, Adam Cheng still looks great for his age. He aged quite a bit but physically he looks quite the same as many many many years before. Cecilia Yip looks smashing in her do, never in the same qi-pao, she looked stunningly beautiful and very olden day like. Her qi-paos deserve a mention as well for being just too cool. Joyce Tang is gorgeous, maybe too much blusher on her cheeks but she looks gorgeous nevertheless. So where is the EEEWW factor? When you put Adam Cheng AND Joyce Tang together, one old enough to be her father, the other old enough to be his daughter. It didn't feel right. But this is acting, we the viewers can differentiate between real and reel right? For me, not quite. Whenever they start hugging, I started to think old man-young woman, cradle snatcher, grandpa, you know along those lines. To me that's the EEEWW factor no. 1. It's not disgusting, it takes time getting used to but I just can't get past young beautiful youthful gorgeous Joyce and wrinkly, old, father-like Adam. To me that was enough to put me off. But not to discredit their chemistry, after about 19 episodes, you kinda get used to it, since just 1 more episode it was the end.

The EEEWW factor no. 2 is surprisingly (or rather not so surprisingly because I have said the same thing over and over again) is Michelle Ye's performance. She was, how shall I put it? I can't say she was bad, I can't say she didn't try, I can't say she was great, I can't say anything at all except when she is bad, she is really bad, when she is good, she is really good. She just didn't seem like she was trying in here, or even concentrating. Her performance was not there, like you wouldn't even notice, not shattering at all. Towards the end when she started crying when she found out Wai Lei's true nature, that was like quite a revelation for me because there I was, sitting in front of the TV watching her cry and all I could think was ; "Oh my, her head is really bigger than her body?". I KNOW I KNOW, I have succumb to shallowness when writing reviews. I have sworn never to talk about someone's body, or shape of their head, but just review the performances, but I can't help it! I can't! I must but I can't! If one day the size of an actress' head interests you more than what was going on screen, I think I can fairly say something is not quite right with the performance. I could say it was over acting, or rather over eager acting but then I am contradicting myself because I said just a few lines above that she was not trying hard, or not trying at all. When it comes to Michelle Ye, everytime her eyes bulges, her big wide smile starts to form on her big wide head propped on top of her tiny frame, it kinda freaked me out. To me that's EEEWW no. 2.

AIYAH
And when I saw Kenneth Ma on the screen, my immediate reaction was "aiyahhh, why him?". There is no secret, I do not like him. I find him boring, I find him equally as boring as Joe Ma as leading man, I find his acting passable, I don't find him handsome, I find him dispensable, I find him uninteresting and not a leading man material and therefore I find him uncharismatic, I find him simply aiyah! Surprisingly though, he was ok in here, since he had a small role, not tiny but small. His Wai Lei is a good character to portray because he goes through many life changing emotional ermm changes. For one, he started off a a fraud and a trickster. He did all those things never having a conscience, never thought he was wrong, not even when he was in love with Ming Chu. He loved her, but he had no regrets cheating, lying, stealing, etc. But all that changed when he found out he was going to be a father. Suddenly he realised all his life he lacked a family and he wanted one. By that time he was too deep in the cheating, lying, stealing business but he wanted out. He wanted to be with Ming Chu, he wanted to be a good father, a good example to his child. So he'd rather go to jail and earn his keep than run away like a coward. That one moment of change was perhaps Wai Lei's most interesting moment. And from thereon everything he did for that one episode was for the sole purpose of building a future with Ming Chu, whatever the consequences to himself. So to me Wai Lei is a very interesting character. Sometimes Kenneth Ma got it right, his guilt, his tenderness for Ming Chu but not consistently. To me a better actor would be able to carry out that conflict throughout; that no guilty to others but feel guilt to Ming Chu and desperate to hold on to what he had left. All Kenneth Ma managed to do was smirk a bit, smile a bit, smirk some more, and the end. It was a character wasted on this inadequate actor. I must comment though; he has the old style looks, his hair looks cool and cute but for once, I want good acting, I want more than good packaging, I want everything. Kenneth Ma did not achieve that for me and I felt you know, "Aiyahhhh!".

YEAH RIGHT!
And that will be your reacting after watching the ending. The prime and real reason I believe why this series failed was because of this one factor; one man two wives. I am sure many will be shaking their heads when they watch Kwai Mui waking up after 9 months of coma and immediately with Hung Min he went around looking for Fu Yung so that he can get her consent to marry Hung Min as that was the last day in HK for polygamous marriage. And worse still was one minute earlier the wife was saying how happy she was for the new law of one husband, one wife system and then next minute the husband turned up almost half dead saying he wants to marry Hung Min and the wife said "Yes, I agree". How many times a person can slap herself? Apparently Fu Yung could do so many times.

I do not disagree with the ending. I thought Hung Min love and dedication to Kwai Mui was exceptionally touching, where she refused to let him go but never really tried to take him away from Fu Yung. Earlier in the series I was asked what the ending would be? To me it was obvious. Joyce Tang is equally as famous as Cecilia Yip, Adam Cheng more famous, all 3 characters live in a time where polygamous marriage is allowed, Joyce's character is not a devious 3rd party and Cecilia's character is not a heartless wife, Adam's character can't choose between the two, so what would be the ending? What I didn't expect was Kwai Mui not being able to legally marry Hung Min because they were too late but Fu Yung gave her blessing anyway and they had a ceremony recognising Hung Min as the equal to Fu Yung but later one, some years later that is we see Hung Min serving Fu Yung dutifully though Fu Yung told her not to. It was a relationship based on mutual respect and their mutual love for one man. To me it was a good ending but I am sure many will feel insulted with the ending. After all we live in the modern world, monogamy should be the only way and that I agree of course. But in the context of during that time, I don't think there was anything wrong with that part of the plot. But many viewers may not relate to this and may in the end say..."Yeah right! Full of BS!"

What was wrong, and very wrong was when Kwai Mui was blackmailed by Wai Lei and because he was afraid of Fu Yung finding out about Hung Min, he kept Wai Lei's complicated and dirty past as a secret from everybody. And I thought he loved his daughter, I thought he cared whether she was being cheated or not and in this case, obviously so. I find that rather disgusting and you can say this is EEEWW factor no. 3.

The ending is also an EEEWW factor. The last scene was both Fu Yung and Hung Min heavily pregnant. Why must TVB always end a show with pregnancy and despite the fact that Fu Yung is probably in her 40s and if she had wanted another child she would have given birth to a second child years before, why must it be shown that she AND Hung Min together become pregnant? Is there a point to this? To show an illusion of fairness to the character of Fu Yung, like since she had to share her husband with someone else, so rightfully so she must be able to be pregnant when the other woman is pregnant? But that is not the EEEWW factor I am talking about.

I am talking about the very last scene and TVB's recent obsession with guest stars in small roles. Kwai Mui answered the door and there was Sonija Kwok playing the maid asking for a job and Kwai Mui immediately feel lust in himself as Sonija the maid talked rather coyly and the wives chased after him, beating him for daring to look at another woman. The EEEWW factor was Sonija Kwok. Even a 1 minute appearance, she couldn't even do it right. Her acting for that 1 minute was beyond horrible and her presence totally ruined the entire ending which was already quite ruined anyway.

The only saving grace, in terms of plot is the relationship between Lisa and Kei. Lisa used to be very materialistic, but over time she fell for a man poor in money but rich in character and integrity. I quite like that, especially their ending where they struck lottery big time and some years later, Lisa appeared over dressed and rather large!

Other than that, I would say the themesong was another saving grace.

The Unexplored Plot
There is potentially one actually. Where Hung Min has a few disciples and when her father's clinic was ruined and her reputation destroyed by her affair with Kwai Mui, I was quite surprised that no one ever said her behaviour was a disgrace to her dead father's memory. I certainly would say it that way even if I know she's really a nice girl actually. Wouldn't you?

Performances Evaluated
I have said what I have said of Michelle Ye and Kenneth Ma and I stand by them.

Adam Cheng
A great actor who excels in both drama and comedy. He is funny to watch and he brings life to his character, however much I may dislike Ting Kwai Mui at some point. But pairing him with Joyce Tang is pushing it a bit too far.

Cecilia Yip
She was to me Michelle Ye in her younger days. She was the opera-ish type of actress, often over acts, over emotional, over the top. But in recent years she toned down a bit and when given the right role, she can do it well. I find her Fu Yung very well acted, and she deliberately gave Fu Yung a very quaint and old style accent and manner of speaking, I find her performance very watcheable and very interesting. At least someone daring to be different.

Joyce Tang
A capable actress who tends to succumb to being a spoilt princess persona. Let me explain. She may play a strong character, but when she starts crying, she reminds me of this very girly girl, like a spoilt princess that a man would rush to please, however strong her character may be. That I find irritating sometimes because of her high pitched girly cries and all.

Angela Tong
A good and funny performance. I like her Lisa, something to distract me from that Joyce-Adam pairing.

Wayne Lai
A very good performance of a character that really isn't that important in this story. I mean his scenes can be deleted and no one would miss it because his character isn't that important, except for that final few episodes. Nevertheless a good performance.

Lai Suen
Excellent performance by this veteran who didn't mind donning such an ugly wig and wearing far too much make up, which was deliberate.

Mark Kwok
Good performance as the devious right hand man of Wai Lei with an agenda of his own. I am sure he is a decent fellow in real life but this man is really being typecast as either boyfriend from hell or a villain.

Verdict
It was at times funny, it was at times interesting, it was at times refreshing but the plot is at all times daring. Cast aside your prejudices or distaste for the subject matter of this series, and I do think you might enjoy this light hearted series. If light hearted series is not your cup of tea and you really agree with my EEEWW, AIYAH and YEAH RIGHT! points, do give this a miss. Only a select few will actually like this series, though I must say, it was an enjoyable series that I didn't quite like for reasons as explained.


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