"Whenever I thought the plot would move beyond what I was seeing, it went back to square one. After 6 episodes or so, the entire series was becoming stale and boring."
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
In Cantonese it is "Sai Kwan Dai Siu", so I guess literal translation is Big Master of Sai Kwan which refers to Chilam's character.
No. Of Episodes
A big thanks to Sehseh and Elizabeth for the following cast list which this review is heavily depended on.
Sammul Chan - Tsang Kwok Pong
Lo Chun Shun - Chow Ming Fai
Wai Kah Hung as Leong Wo (Seung Hei's uncle)
Siu Leong - Mr.Ho
Lou Wan Yan - Mrs. Ho
Damien Lau - Chow Ming Hin
Angie Chiu - Ng Yuk Hing
Julian Cheung - Chow Tin Chi
Charmaine Sheh - Ho Seung Hei
Lui San - Lee Tak Yung (Tin Chi's mom)
Wong Qing - Lee Tak Sum (Lui San's brother)
Chan Hung Lit - Ng Man Seng (Angie's brother)
Law Lan - Chow Lam Shi (Grandma)
Kevin Cheng - Chan Kai Tong
Belinda Hamnett - Loh Bik Kei
Auguste Kwan - Ting Sau Yi (Tin Chi sidekick)
John) Tang Yat Guan - Chu Him (sidekick 2)
Kwok Fung - Chow Cheong (Uncle)
Lau Kong - Lam Dong (Grand uncle)
Belle Lau Hiu Tong - Chow Ming Fung (aunt)
Chow Chung - Chow Mao (Grandpa)
Mary Hon - Mrs Tsang
Yu Yeung - Mr Tsang
Unknown (baby & at the age of 5) - Tin Yan
About the fall, rise, fall, rise and fall (in that particular order) of the mega rich Chow family, their love, their hate and all the dirty linen in the family, set during the early days in Guang Zhou.
The Chow family is a very prominent and probably the richest family at Guang Zhou running a shipping business. The family is headed by Ming Hin, the voice of reason and the voice of authority of the family. He is assisted by his obedient little sister Ming Foong, I think his cousin, a timid man called Ming Fai and his first love who is also the family's servant since the age of 8, Yuk Hing. Ming Hin's parents who are both very traditional, and his business is often disrupted by his very selfish and greedy uncle, Chow Cheong and Lam Dong, his grand uncle based on Sehseh's cast list. At the meantime, he has only one child, a son of 22 years of age named Tin Chi who is not interested in working hard and plays hard all day and all night. His wife, Tak Yung has never been much of a mother to his son and never much an understanding wife who is very jealous of Yuk Hing's closeness to Ming Hin. Tak Yung has a brother named Tak Sum who is a close relative until one unfortunate incident which started the several near downfall of the Chow family business.
The first half of this series concentrates on Ming Hin, Yuk Hing, Dak Yung, Dak Sum and the many times the business almost went bust if not for Ming Hin's quick thinking. It also shows the false closeness of the family and the destructive force of Chow Cheong and his goons of misfits. It also shows the blossoming love between Tin Chi and poor girl Seung Hei after several run ins and Seung Hei's unlucky in love with a cheat named Kai Tong.
The second half concentrates more on the downfall of the Chow business as well as the deterioration of the relationship between Tin Chi and Seung Hei and his friendship with Bik Kei ans Seung Hei's relationship with Kwok Pong. At this juncture, it also shows more on Yuk Hing's struggles within the family business, the interference of her own brother Man Seng, the return of Tak Sum, the deceit of Kai Tong towards Ming Foong and the marriage and return of Seung Hei as well as Tin Chi rebuilding the family business.
That's it actually.
Questions Asked And Answered
Zoom past this if you're not interested in the details.
Tin Chi is the son of who?
Ming Hin and Dak Yung.
If Ming Hin is in love with Yuk Hing, how come he married Dak Yung?
Yuk Hing went to work for the Chows when she was only 8. Not only was she well accepted by the family, Ming Hin's parents doted on her, never really treated her like a servant and even let her study and then work in the shipping business as Ming Hin's secretary/assistant. She was very well respected, and even Tin Chi was closer to her than to his own mother. She was also the voice of reason and Ming Hin's confidante. However they never had an affair, though Ming Hin suppressed his feelings for her. He had to marry Tak Yung because many years ago when he took over the business from his father, the business was near death so to speak, owning people something like $28,000-00 (at that time a very big sum), having only in cash a few thousands and one ship. The family business has been around for hundreds of years, so Ming Hin had to marry a rich girl, that is Tak Yung to help save the business. But when Ming Hin married Tak Yung, he actually became a husband to her but Tak Yung being spoilt and demanding later in life, emotionally taunted and tortured Ming Hin over the non existent affair with Yuk Hing. She tried her best to get rid of Yuk Hing, something which the mother in law reluctantly agreed but the father in law objected, because he knew Yuk Hing did nothing wrong. For someone so strong and authoritative and at times controlling and feared by all, Ming Hin could not calm his wife's suspiscion.
So did Ming Hin kick out Yuk Hing?
He didn't but Yuk Hing almost left on her own.
At that time there was a crisis in the business. Tak Sum, brother of Tak Yung together with his only son (a young kid) went to Ming Hin's mansion to attend Ming Hin's father's birthday. It was a big celebration but unfortunately Tak Sum's only son drowned in the pond. He drowned because he fell into it due to the shoddy materials that was the I don't know what you call them, the railing? Anyway this was because Ming Hin's uncle and grand uncle paid for cheaper materials to pocket the balance sum. Anyway the kid died. Tak Sum was so incensed with anger, he blamed it solely on the young servant girl of the Chow family. Yuk Hing tried to hide her whilst Sum went looking for the kid with a gun and at the end of the day Ming Hin declared openly that this little servant girl will be his god daughter, thus ensuring her safety when even the town's mayor or whatever liked the little girl. Sum took to his heart this incident and vowed revenge. That night Ming Hin told the girl to go back to her village and to hide forever. That incident also left Ming Hin being slightly in awe of Yuk Hing's care and gentleness towards the kid, whilst his wife was very eager to send the girl to her death.
After that, Sum created a big crisis for the business. He poked fire and managed to get many of Ming Hin's creditors to demand for immediate payment (Sum himself was a big creditor) when cash was low and Ming Hin almost lost the business, in fact closed it down for awhile. Whilst this was going on, Tak Yung refused to help her husband and will only do so if Yuk Hing leaves and never ever return. The father in law was reluctant was in the end had no choice. Yuk Hing stayed until the crisis was over, not because the wife helped financially (in fact she taunted Ming Hin) but because Ming Hin himself knew how important his shipping company was to the business community and managed to get the politicians on his side to settle the matter.
Yuk Hing then was about to leave, though Tin Chi refused to let her leave. Tak Yung was very happy and the misfits in the family was happy to see her go as they see her as nothing more than a servant girl who washes the father in law's feet, as Yuk Hing herself confessed several times. But Ming Hin stopped her and announced that he will marry Yuk Hing and even made her an equal to his wife, thus ensuring her status. He told Tak Yung she can leave if she is not happy. Tin Chi was perhaps the happiest that Yuk Hing didn't go away and even the father in law agreed happily.
But alas, the marriage almost didn't take place.
Why the marriage almost didn't take place?
Ming Hin was diagnosed with cancer or tumour, can't remember which and it was end stage. Ming Hin didn't want to make Yuk Hing a widow and so he gave directions to Tak Yung to tell Yuk Hing to get lost. Tak Yung was very upset because she knew he didn't want to do the dirty business and he actually loved Yuk Hing more. But Tak Yung did it anyway in her very own dramatic fashion but Yuk Hing refused to leave and continued with the wedding preparations. Then Ming Hin came home from treatment, looking years older and very frail. He was very cold to Yuk Hing and told Yuk Hing to leave. Yuk Hing tearfully agreed but it was Ming Hin's father who scolded Ming Hin and it made Ming Hin realise whatever time he has left, that was the time Yuk Hing wanted to spend with him. During the times before the wedding, problems loom again for the business, this time in the form of the ship's licensing permit, which must be renewed every 3 years if I am not mistaken. This has to be obtained from the government and Ming Hin sought the help of Yuk Hing's brother, Man Seng, presumably his old worker who know made it big with his many connections with the big guns. He spent to so much money, arguments broke out in the family and Yuk Hing was made the scapegoat as always. But in the end after much pain, anguish and thousands of money gone, they got the license. Several times Ming Hin almost died but he made it to the wedding and then he died.
Ming Hin DIED?
Like is that a surprise? Open secret lar, like Kwok Pong will die also.
Who the heck is Kwok Pong?
Tsang Kwok Pong, a kind hearted doctor but that one later since must tell the story of Tin Chi and Seung Hei.
What about Tin Chi and Seung Hei? Who is Seung Hei?
Ho Seung Hei is the only child of a family that has been ermm throwing ermm shit for generations. You know, they pick up the buckets of shit and then throw them away for a fee? This was the time when electric not yet there yet and no flushing in the toilet. Anyway Seung Hei has an uncle and her parents, all uneducated, very important point. Her wish is to go to school. Anyway, her bets friend, whose name I do not know who disappeared half way through the series was also studying in this exclusive rich family's college run by foreigners. There she was teased by Tin Chi and his 2 sidekicks, Hi and Yi. They form the Demonic Three in the college and everybody was afraid of them, very afraid as they will shave off the hair of those they don't like. Seung Hei heard about this and flew into a rage. She went to the school and scolded Tin Chi and called him "Pai Ka Chai", meaning "Useless Son Who Squandered The Family Fortune" which is not quite accurate to describe Tin Chi at that time. Anyway Tin Chi finally found his target of amusement and he tortured Seung Hei with his many pranks, making her hate him more and more.
Then suddenly, Tin Chi thought of a brilliant plan; he made sure Seung Hei got a scholarship to his school so that he and his friends can torture and taunt her everyday. She didn't know so she happily went to school but instead of being tortured, the students there accepted her though Tin Chi insulted her family profession.Things got very bad, where Ming Hin got involved and Ming Hin saw in Seung Hei someone who can teach and stop Tin Chi from being a spoilt brat, so there was a time Seung Hei even got to caned Tin Chi!
And as expected, one incident brought them closer together and straight into love.
What incident? Involving Kwok Pong?
No, that one is straight out of love. This time is Chan Kai Tong.
Seung Hei at the very start was very crazy about this handsome stranger whom she saw every morning cycling to a neighbouring school. She always wanted to say hi and even to marry him. One time she finally got that chance and the seemingly nice guy even offered to give her some of his old text books. Tin Chi saw that and played a cruel trick on Seung Hei, making her think Kai Tong met with an accident and was pinned under the car. Seung Hei panicked and confessed her vision of an entire lifetime with Kai Tong. When she realised it was a trick, Tin Chi made sure she will be taunted daily. Meanwhile Ming Hin was so frustrated with his son that he asked Seung Hei to look after him and to report to him and even gave her money to employ people to throw shit on her behalf so that she can look after Tin Chi full time. Seung Hei loved the prospect of that.
Then something else happened. Kai Tong actually approached Seung Hei and she became like his girlfriend, cleaning his apartment although the man's true colours were slowly showing. He was nothing more than a cheating bastard who prey on young girls to fund his exhorbitant lifestyle. This was something Tin Chi saw right through the first time. When Kai Tong realised Seung Hei had no use and no money, he dumped her for another girl. Seung Hei thought he dumped her because she didn't buy him the pen he wanted and she blamed it on Tin Chi. But in the end she begged Tin Chi to please explain to Kai Tong but it was of no use because Seung Hei was Kai Tong dating with another woman and she kinda realised she was being used. So she tearfully left and turned to drinking alcohol by the bottle. She couldn't concentrate in school and she didn't bother. Tin Chi began to felt guilty and when she didn't turn up at school, Tin Chi was so worried that he realised he missed her so much and he was falling in love with her.
Yeah but is she falling for him?
Not sure when but she did though she wanted to make fun of him, taunt him with her feminine ways but in the end she gave the relationship a chance and kinda bullied him all the time.
So who is Kwok Pong??
Coming soon. Some months later, Seung Hei suddenly felt her status was very low, Tin Chi was too good to her and she felt God must be playing a joke with her. But after the self imposed 1 month separation and during which time they wrote numerous letters, Seung Hei was assured that Tin Chi loved her.
Around that time Tin Chi's childhood friend, famous movie star Bik Kei came home and his mom approved of this Eurasian girl. Even Bik Kei herself was interested and she did what she had to do; she impliedly said to Seung Hei that status matters, family backkground matters the most in relationships and Seung Hei was very hurt and doubtful of Tin Chi's love for her.
And then she got insulted by his mom. By that time Ming Hin had died. Yuk Hing approved of this union and because of that, and solely because of that, Tak Yung objected to that relationship and vowed to send Tin Chi to overseas to study. Seung Hei ran home and thereon refused to see Tin Chi. Then Tin Chi did some hunger strike and Seung Hei was touched but she made up her mind; she was leaving him because she felt she was not good enough for him or his family. In her state of despair, she went to the church and...
Well, there was Tsang Kwok Pong, God fearing, church going decent fellow of a doctor who took an instant liking to a tearful Seung Hei. Not so long later Seung banished Tin Chi from her thoughts and started to date Kwok Pong who didn't mind at all her profession or background. In fact his family were all liberals and got along well with Seung Hei and family. But Tin Chi refused to let Seung Hei go. He pestered her with letter, even when Bik Kei told him to please not bother her anymore. His communication with Seung Hei was minimal and he was upset that she didn't even bother to say goodbye. So Bik Kei forged a letter by Seung Hei and Tin Chi looked happier and went back to work. At work, more crisis.
Business not very good and Yuk Hing was about to give birth. She was told she will have difficulties as she was too stressed from work and the stern female doctor refused to let her work. Yuk Hing still had meetings at the hospital but had to do so in hiding. During this time the uncle tried several time to wrestle for power but didn't quite succeeed. Then the female doctor confessed she was paid to make Yuk Hing stay in hospital and that the baby was actually ok. So Yuk Hing left and went back to business. Then she gave birth to Ming Hin's son, Tin Yan. The father and especially mother in law wanted Yuk Hing to stay at home and so they invited Man Seng to come back to run the business. Yuk Hing knew her brother wasn't sincere in running the business and when she tried to advice the, they all shut her up. Meanwhile Man Seng seemed to be getting loads of business but then announced a partnership with Tak Sum to Tak Yung's delight. Sum even lent loads of money and Yuk Hing the business was going down soon. Meanwhile Tin Chi was being truly useless.
He wanted to run away with Seung Hei with Bik Kei's help and that was the last time Seung Hei scolded him; she called him immature and she left. Tin Chi cried hugging Bik Kei.
Then there was Kwok Pong.
Then he found an abandoned house (very small) where he was convinced Seung Hei was communicating with him through writings on the wall. He re-read them and realised the messages were meant for Kwok Pong and he was heart broken, again he cried.
He was then busy thinking about Seung Hei who was about to marry Kwok Pong. In the school's graduation ceremony, he even went down on his knees to beg her to come back to her. She flatly refused and walked away.
Then he found out through the writings Kwok Pong's father was being chased by creditors because of Tin Chi's uncle who first awarded a contract to the father and then gave it to someone else. Tin Chi begged his uncle for help but his uncle taunted him. Then Tin Chi signed a contract to buy a ship at $30,000-00 and the contract was given back to Kwok Pong's father. Tin Chi cried again when he saw Kwok Pong hugging Seung Hei who was very relieved.
Then Tin Chi found out the ship was shinking and he had spent $30,000-00 buying a sinking ship. Yuk Hing cried because she thought she failed to educate him and Tin Chi vowed to do good next time. Of course he didn't because then he found out Seung Hei was marrying Kwok Pong on a certain day and he ran there but only to witnessed Seung Hei looking at him for one split second and saying I do. He congratulated them and off they went to England. Tin Chi was again heart broken and he wanted to chase after Seung Hei, to see her leave thinking her still had a chance and Bik Kei tried to stop him and he was almost hit by a car when Bik Kei pushed him away and she got hit. She woke up a cripple and Tin Chi promised to take good care of her.
Meanwhile more crisis.
Aiyah so many crisis one?!
Yeah lor, tak habis-habis one lar. Anyway ending soon lar.
Ming Foong fell in love and even gave her body to Kai Tong, now the assistant of Man Seng. Then he cheated her of I think $30,000-00 and left. Ming Foong was so lost but Yuk Hing brought her back home and she was ok again.
Then there was Man Seng and his bold company policies.
Yuk Hing didn't know what to do because nobody was listening to her so she in the end told the family she wanted to split the fortune and sell her shares. Everybody accused her of being greedy, even Ming Fai, Ming Foon and Tin Chi kinda thought that way. But Yuk Hing let them talk and she got herself the family home, a piece of land, all the antiques and some cash. Then she left with her baby after she reminded Tin Chi how his father rebuilt the family business.
Not long later Man Seng squandered off the fortune and brought down the business. They were officially bankrupt. The greedy uncles left.
Despair on how to start again, Yuk Hing returned with her baby bearing the title to the house, the land, cash and told Tin Chi to rebuild the business like his father did. Everybody was so touched and they were angry with themselves for accusing Yuk Hing of all sorts of things. In the end Tak Yung herself accepted Yuk Hing and treated Tin Yan like her own son. The family finally reunited, something Ming Hin always wanted but never got to witness.
Then 5 years passed.
Oh yeah, 5 years. Tin Chi was running the business again, albeit a very small business but building in momentum. Yuk Hing and Tak Yung were like sisters, Tin Yan nothing like Tin Chi when he was younger and Ming Fai, Ming Foong and their loyal workers returned to make the business a success, although smaller.
Tin Chi after work always drink a bowl of herbal tea near his office. Why? Because the shop was in open view of Seung Hei's family's new business, he was hoping to see Seung Hei. Then one day, she returned, all dressed in black.
Ha! What happened? She liked black ah?
No, no. Kwok Pong died of some disease when he was taking care of a very sick Seung Hei in that foreign land, Africa I thin where they were doctor and nurse volunteering to care for needy people in Africa. Before he died, he told Seung Hei he had only one wish, that she will find her one true love and be happy for the rest of her life. Of course Seung Hei was weeping but you know what? She didn't look puzzled by his strange request and then our good guy died knowing well sadly his wife never really loved him as much as he loved her.
So Seung Hei's one true love, she found him or not?
All in the last episode my friends. Seung Hei, as the story unfolded studied nursing to assist Kwok Pong and now was a qualified nurse. She was assigned to help Bik Kei to walk again and well, their meeting again was quite strange.Bik Kei was the one who kept pushing Tin Chi to seek out Seung Hei as she knew her love for him may be real, but Tin Chi thought of Bik Kei like a little sister. And Seung Hei was interested too, as she kept looking at them and even wrote on the wall of that abandoned house wishing them well. Then Seung Hei was interviewed and everybody knew of Kwok Pong's dying wish. So the reporters all asked has she found her one true love? Seung Hei then decided to give it one last try before she leaves for England. She wrote a simple hello letter to Tin Chi and Tin Chi replied in a very formal way.
Formal way? Wasn't he like crazy about her?
He still is. But he thought Kwok Pong's death would seal Seung Hei's heart forever, that she longed for Kwok Pong, more so when she had no children, so he thought her heart could never accomodate him that is Tin Chi without realising she actually loved Tin Chi and Kwok Pong was just you know, the dead husband. So Tin Chi refused to do anything, much to the chagrin of Bik Kei. Then one day when Tin Chi was finding shelter from the rain in front of the church's door, Seung Hei was there to. Seung Hei invited him to an award ceremony (where Kwok Pong was being honoured as a great humanitarian) and Tin Chi reluctantly agreed. Before they parted ways, Tin Chi lightly brushed Seung Hei's face of some rain water and Seung Hei looked at him with longing eyes and Tin Chi let go and they both parted ways. So Seung Hei thought that was it.
So in the end they got together or not?
Still in the last episode.
Bik Kei met Tin Chi and confessed that she could actually walk again much sooner than later but she lied because she wanted Tin Chi by her side. But she said now though she still loved him, she wanted Tin Chi to be rid of her whom she calls a burden and seek out Seung Hei who was waiting for him to make the first and last move. Tin Chi was thinking, seriously thinking.
Tin Chi wasn't there at the ceremony. Seung Hei was disappointed. Whilst accepting the award and speaking about her husband's achievements with some tears, the reporters asked "Did you find your one true love as requested by your late husband?" and Seung Hei didn't quite answer until she heard Tin Chi asked the same question. She tearfully said "Yes but he no longer seeks me" and Tin Chi asked "If he were to go down on his knees again and beg for acceptance, will you give him another chance?" and Seung Hei without a second delay tearfully said "Yes I will" and Tin Chi knelt down and Seung Hei walked to him, he stood up and they looked into each other's eyes.
No, not yet.
We then hear and see some narration via that abandoned house where Seung Hei said after that they were busy preparing their wedding and Tin Chi opened a branch office in Hong Kong, busy as ever. Then Seung Hei became pregnant and Tin Chi was very worried and the last scene, without narration was one simple child like painting of two adults with a little boy in the middle. I guess you can guess that it's a very happy ending.
No news of what became of other characters though.
But...but..what happened to the greedy uncles? That heartless Kai Tong? Useless Man Seng?
Don't know what happened to the uncles. Kai Tong's last scene was running away with the $30,000-00 and Man Seng's last scene was Tin Chi punching him and discrediting him in the view of a potential customer seeking Man Seng's help for some license as a cheat and a liar. The customer quickly ran away from Man Seng.
Tin Chi's 2 best friends' last scene was at the graduation 5 years ago where they said they will be helping their fathers' with the business, reluctantly of course.
No news on Bik Kei or Ming Foong or Ming Fai either. Yuk Hing and Tak Yung lived together happily as sisters and Tin Yan I guess must be a very happy and fortunate boy.
But does it matter? Does it really matter what happened to everybody else as long as we have until the intestines drawn for the story of Tin Chi AND Seung Hei?
I will tell you what I like about this series.
I like Damian Lau and Angie Chiu, I like the themesong, I like the costumes worn by the older generations and I like the ending.
I especially like the ending because of one very simple reason; because it was the ending and there won't be any more episodes thereafter. I guess from this one sentence you can kinda guess how I feel about this series.
Before this series started, I have read several glowing reviews, mostly huge fans of either Chilam or Charmaine or both. I have read some neutral reviews which said that they liked it, but felt it should be shorter, and these are mostly fans of Damian Lau and Angie Chiu. Quite a few were more forthright in expressing their views of this series, from saying it lacks plot to bad acting to mostly, that it was a tedious series to watch.
I can say tedious is not the word to describe this series because tedious means there is something you can expect, something to look forward to but somehow, it was all done in snail pace so you have to wait longer than usual to see that something. To me this series is not tedious. It moves in a rather fast pace, it changes one scene to the next but let me tell you how I describe this series;
Imagine you have this one great CD which by the description on the CD cover you thought you bought a very good album and it states that it has 24 great songs, and you expect all 24 songs to be great. It could have been but somehow your CD player just keeps playing the 1st 3 songs. It goes on a loop and you get so frustrated you decided that those 3 songs will be the verdict of the album instead of full 24 songs because you thought something is wrong with the CD player. And then you listen some more you discover the entire CD plays these 3 songs again and again making it sound like a 24 song CD when it was only 3 in actual fact. You're like stuck in this never ending cycle of the same 3 songs.
This is to me how watching this series feels like. Whenever I thought the plot would move beyond what I was seeing, it went back to square one. After 6 episodes or so, the entire series was becoming stale and boring. Oh yes, boring is the right word. But that is not the only problem with this series. Maybe I should first emphasise on what is good before moving to what is wrong.
The Good Stuff
As written above, I love Damian Lau's character, Ming Hin. Cool, calm, shrewd as well as a control freak for obvious reasons (useless vulture like relatives, useless playful sons, useless jealous wife, useless old parents, useless but hardworking but undecisive asistants - his entire life is filled with useless people if you look carefully) but in moments of stress, he actually breaks down in front of his assistant Yuk Hing, but never in front of the family. He is a strong man but often his ambition is destroyed by greed and manipulations of others. This is probably one of the 2 most watcheable characters in this series and then had to die. Logical of course because if he doesn't die, his son will never rise up to the occasion, and I must argue, his son never did risen up to the occasion until the last episode.
Then there was Ng Yuk Hing, a very strong character with her own values and her own determination, complementing very well with Ming Hin as botb struggled to keep the company and family afloat. Even after Ming Hin's death, Yuk Hing had to make sure everything was well so that she can pass on the business to Tin Chi as Ming Hin has requested even when she was pregnant and all alone in her fight. Tin Chi by then was busy being miserable because of Seung Hei, the wife Tak Yung was busy being jealous, the uncles busy being greedy, Ming Fai/Ming Foong was busy being undecisive and the old ones were busy being basically old. I am sure you can see a shift in the emphasis of the story. No? Well, neither did I. But the one saving grace was when everybody refused to listen to her about her distrust for her own brother Man Seng and so she made sure she got back what her shares were worthed and walked away with the baby. Some time later when the whole business went bust, she strolled in cooly and smiling amidst accusations and gave back everything. I thought that was the only classy moment in this series which was otherwise repetetive and exceedingly boring to watch.
I also quite like the unique friendship between Bik Kei and Tin Chi. I never thought he would marry her because I know Kwok Pong will die. He has to die because divorce was unheard of back then and Seung Hei's only chance of returning to Tin Chi was by Kwok Pong's death. I just didn't expect the way she so easily returned to him which I shall elaborate later. Anyway, Bik Kei was such a good and encouraging friend. She may have gone to the dark side for a few minutes when she was implying to Seung Hei she wasn't good enough for Tin Chi but you can't blame her. She thought she was right to think so and in the end she puts things right for Tin Chi. A pity that I didn't like the actress, so my liking of Bik Kei is only on the description of her character and not how she was presented.
I also like the characters of Ming Fai, Ming Foong and that accountant, however undecisive or timid they may be, they're good people. I pity Ming Foong being cheated off her money, her love AND her body by that single minded despicable Kai Tong. I was just so perplexed how he could run away with that money when by marrying her he may gain more, you know? So you can say Kai Tong is really a "himbo" with no long term planning.
I also love watching the greedy uncles simply because of great acting by both veterans.
And last but not least, I like Sammul Chan in here. His character may not be realistic but still, a good man to the core, even on his dying bed he was telling his wife to find her one true love. I will elaborate why I think this one statement should make everybody hate Seung Hei and not cheer for her, later in the review. And one more reason why I liked his character in here is because I thought by his appearance, the ending would soon come. I didn't expect so many tears, not from Seung Hei but from Tin Chi which really made me feel so irritated by that time, I was constantly changing the TV channel. His tears didn't move me and I will, again elaborate why later on.
I think that's about it. Now let's do something this series failed to do for the last 29 episodes. Let's MOVE ON to the bad stuff.
The Bad Stuff
Ok, the bad stuff.
How can I summarize so many points into one single coherent thought? It has been such a long time I have felt this way about a certain series. The last time I guess was Return of the Cuckoo, I truly hated that series, hated its message and I hated Nancy Sit's hypocritical character and truly hated the character Chuk Kwan Hoe and the actress, Charmaine Sheh.
So I guess I shall be blunt.
There is nothing much to love about this series other than those few points that I raised that I said I liked. When I said love, I meant liking more than just like. For the rest, I can only say I hate them all. Maybe hate is a strong word? Is there another word stronger than hate because I would gladly use that word. What is there to hate you ask? Plenty.
The Plot about The Two Main Leads
I expected great things from this character, Chow Tin Chi, after all this series is named after him. So I put up with his playfulness, uselessness and everything else because Ming Hin was there to distract my attention. But I can't help but compare this series with another similar series, or you can say a direct rip off called Meteor Garden. That series you have Flower 4 and here you have Demonic 3. There you have San Chai, here you have Seung Hei. There you have Dao Ming Si, here you have Chow Tin Chi. Both series boasted some really awful performances, but Meteor Garden had, generally worse acting than this series. But where Meteor Garden succeeded is the rather corny but still interesting storyline and a very strong heroine with loads of personality. The heroine in this series is rather empty, shallow and may I just add, pure dumbness, and you can even say half the time she is deaf also because so many things doesn't seem to compute in her mind. The lead character in the successful Taiwanese series was scary but at last lovable in his own way whilst Chow Tin Chi was annoying from the 1st episode to almost the last 40 minutes before the ending. He has no redeeming factor and Ho Seung Hei was simply such a distraction for being the supremely annoying being. Worse was the acting, by both actors, without any sense of realism. Let me elaborate.
Their relationship started with dear Seung Hei getting rather heated up over Tin Chi teasing her best friend who by the way disappeared half way through the series. Maybe I missed her exit. Anyway, she confronted him at school and she was very very very rude, loud and did I say rude? I understand why she has to enter the scene in such a way. The viewers are supposed to be very charmed by her readiness to fight injustice, but please do see what's the cause. It was just teasing. When she opened her mouth and rudely called him "Pai Ka Chai" meaning Useless Son Who Squandered Away The Family Fortune. That is a bit too early to call someone without knowing him first. At worst he may be 'Fa Leng Keng" or "Fa Leng Chai", meaning the flirtatious young man. I didn't like her from that scene onwards. And it didn't help that Charmaine's squeeky voice screaming at the top of her lungs, my ears hurt. From thereon, every time they fought, it was borderline silly to outright stupid. Her occupation as mentioned above is feaces manager, nicely put as somone who throws the shit in the bucket. It's not a glamarous job, that we all know. But she is proud of her occupation, and there is simply not enough stigma to make her feel sorry for herself later on. But more on that later.
Everytime they fight, we have Tin Chi grabbing onto those buckets filled with shit (pardon the language) and Seung Hei with all her might pulling away. It should be a funny scene, only that in practical sense, there is no gravity. The box just swing left and right and I was very horrified by all these pushing, screaming and yelling. In fact very annoyed because it was soooooo obvious the buckets were empty.
Then there were scenes where we have Seung Hei doing monologues; whenever Kai Tong appears, she talks to herself. When she was feeling depressed over her relationship with Tin Chi, she screamed to herself. Nothing wrong with that, but when someone talked so loudly to herself with hand action and all, it would be more realistic to have the passserby looking at her like some freak because she was one. It was so unrealistic. And not to mention suddenly we have imagination scenes like her imagining a million ways why her relationship with Tin Chi was doomed, ending with her screaming dramatically. I know it is supposed to be funny, depressing and cute at the same time, but looking at Charmaine doing all these simply confirmed my gut feeling that she has no talent in comedy, she is absolutely horrible in monologues and she is no longer cute with her tiny thin frame looking rather starved. I just didn't like those scenes and I disliked her Seung Hei more. I find most of these supposedly cute scenes so irrelevant, so annoying, so unsuitable, because during that time, Tin Chi's father was very sick and yet in those scenes she seemed so full of herself. Badly written character is the word to decribe Seung Hei.
But the worse was not her breaking up with Tin Chi. I understood that. After all, she herself thought the relationship was doomed in the first place. Why they broke up was pretty much shown in this series in slow mo details, her insecurities, Tin Chi's famiy objecting to her and her meeting of Kwok Pong. She questioned Tin Chi's love repeatedly, and repeatedly questioned her own feelings for him in the way like is she strong enough to travel this long road with him with the different social classes, different background, the fact that he is richer, and of course the appearance of Bik Kei, the more sophisticated one, or so they claimed. I understand why she left him. what I don't understand is why later in the series Tin Chi said she left him because he was useless and not hard working. It was very clear that when he was at his most useless she was with him, and she left him because SHE herself could not take the criticisms, the second guessing and the constant fight with her own inner demons, that mantra she kept saying; "I am just a shit bucket cleaner, I am not good enough for him". Like Yuk Hing in earlier parts kept saying "I am just a feet washer, a servant in the Chow family", we later have Seung Hei repeating almost the same thing to the point of me screaming "YESSS I GET IT!!". The story just refused to move on.
And when it did, we have Kwok Pong, and it was Tin Chi's time to be stuck in that loop I was talking about. He cried, he begged, he kneeled, he wrote letters after letters, he cried some more, he couldn't eat, he vomitted, he couldn't work, he couldn't sleep, he couldn't...and to what end? Even on her wedding day, he ran to her thinking he had a chance. I thought it was pretty obvious he had as much chance as Seung Hei dying instead of Kwok Pong and I was right.
And when at last they do get together, it should be a joyous moment. But for me that was the end of a torture and I was thinking isn't this a waste of time? One whole long grandmother story and they ended up together. But of course 5 years later they met on a very different term. Tin Chi was no longer as rich, he wasn't rich at all but doing ok whilst Seung Hei was the widow of a very respected and somewhat well off doctor and she herself a respected nurse. So they were compatible and doesn't that just make you sick? At the end, it was all about compatibility. But to tell you the truth, I liked the older, more mature Seung Hei and Charmaine looked genuinely pretty in the last episode, shining with elegance. Her acting was another matter.
It depends on how you see it, whether the ending was a good one or simply a popular one. I would say it was due to popular request. If I had it my way, I'd rather she and Kwok Pong stay together, have children or at least she was left as a widow but with children and it was an ultimate test whether Tin Chi will become a father to her child. To me that would be the most romantic ending, because nothing is more romantic than a man accepting your child as his own and loving you just the way you are.
But back to the major problem with these 2 characters. We have the ending, we have the reasons, we have the whole details but what is missing, what is so crucial that will make or break a love story between two individuals is the formation, the beginning. Meteor Garden was a success in that area because we knew why Dao Ming Si fell for San Chai and vice versa and thereafter all their adventures and heartbreaks and obstacles were like watching these two lovers grow closer and closer. In this series, the formation was like "There! They're in love, take it or leave it!". They were fighting all the time, in fact Tin Chi couldn't stop tormenting her and she couldn't stop screaming at him that it kinda frustrated me because again, it was no to end and then suddenly, Tin Chi realised he missed having her around when she was depressed with Kai Tong suddenly leaving her. Tin Chi also began to notice her as a woman as she began to change her wardrobe and her hair. So Tin Chi in one moment of weakness confessed that he was in love with her. I didn't buy that. It was too sudden. And what was more sudden was when Seung Hei said she was in love with him when there was a time he fell into the river almost drowning, I speficially remember Seung Hei jumping into the river to rescue him and was looking so annoyed as she was pulling his hair as they swam to the shores. Then we have a few months later type of scene and they were in love. And she was constantly bullying him, all the time. The missing link was here. I feel the story should have been more complete instead of just letting us assume it happened because in the end this is a love story and when you can't feel for the characters the whole premise will fail.
One more interesting point.
The Sudden Changes of Seung Hei
Seung Hei in particular. She entered the college to study English amongst others. She reportedly did very well even when she wasn't studying much. Seung Hei didn't strike me as someone smart to begin with. But that's not the point. There is no realism here as I shall explain.
Her parents and uncle were all uneducated. They didn't know how to read nor write because if they did, they wouldn't be doing what they were doing. Seung Hei repeatedly said she loved to go to school but was too poor, that meant she never went to school, never had an education. And when she did go to school, she was in the same class as Tin Chi and friends who had been to school all these years. Either Seung Hei is a genius or Tin Chi very dumb to be in the same class. And they studied the same thing like A man and a pen, again and again and again.
And later on she had a sudden change of appearance, like hair and wardrobe. Maybe she had some money to change her dressess thanks to some money given by Ming Hin. And this beg a question; you as a fillial daughter have money rather spend it on clothes than on her own parents? Because her uncle and parents were still living in the same place, dressing the same way. It was so silly. And she had more wardribe changes than the far richer Bik Kei that I just didn't buy it. I couldn't help just stop watching this series and concentrating on her dresses and my disbelief. She had more dresses when with Kwok Pong and I doubt she accepted Kwok Pong's money to buy her dresses since she refused to accept Tin Chi's money. And look at her shoes!
So not only had the writers simply change her education level, they just change her wardrobe with a stroke of a pen. In fact she had money to go to restaurants and drink alcohol by the bottle. Where on earth she got so much money?
And let's talk about stigma.
She entered into this wealthy college and her classmates were so accepting, so socialble she had no problems proclaiming her occupation proudly. So why should she feel ashamed later on of this one fact? I feel the story should be from backwards to front. She should have more teasing classmates alienating her not because Tin Chi ordered so but because of her background. Then when dating, she should meet the mother first who will be insulting her before having those doubts resurface. Then I can see why she was so upset all the time. This series got it all wrong. More so when she actually met Tin Chi's father and step mother who talked to her in a very happy and friendly way, so why must she feel threatened when she won the approval of her future in laws? The scene of her meeting Ming Hin should be edited out, because it made no sense for her feelings of insecurities later on.
And then we have the impending wedding scene and how she dumped Tin Chi. I thought she was being a bit cruel and heartless not to invite him to the wedding. She said let's be friends, he wanted more but she should and must try to create a friendly environment and not just ignore him. By doing that Tin Chi kept thinking he had a chance and maybe he was right, because if you have no more feelings for this guy, you won't go all out to AVOID him and push him back and push him away.
Another missing link is the blossoming relationship between Kwok Pong and Seung Hei. Again it was assumed, not shown. Because one minute he was her friend, the next he proposed. Maybe spending too much time on these two would be a waste of film, but so is showing Tin Chi crying or Seung Hei with her monologues. I want more elaboration, not repetition.
Then there was this scene where Ming Hin was very sick. Tin Chi didn't want to leave his father alone and Seung Hei over the phone threatened him and told him to come see her. I think Tin Chi made it very clear he wanted to be with his father but Seung Hei was being very forceful and so he had to go, despite the fact that his father was sick and for what? She wanted to know how he was going to celebrate her birthday. I can safely say this one scene sealed my opinion of this Seung Hei. How could Ming Hin then proclaim her as a good girl, when she was so unreasonable? Of course that birthday party, organised by Ming Hin led to Tin Chi and Seung Hei's first kiss. But who cares really? Father sick, son wanna be home with father and girlfriend wants to know how to celebrate her birthday? Is it that important? That is the missing link. I can't see the concern Seung Hei has for Tin Chi, all I could see was Tin Chi's stubborness to woo Seung Hei again and Seung Hei's determination to avoid him. But where is the concern for each other's well being, more so when Ming Hin is a very important person in tin Chi's life. She didn't seem to care and Tin Chi's scenes with Seung Hei could be seen separately from his scenes with Ming Hin, one minute serious, next minute light hearted that I just didn't see the connection when there is on.
And finally, the almost ending. That one scene where Tin Chi begged for Seung Hei to love him again. Sounds romantic and to most it was but to me it was a hypocritical scene. Let me explain.
There was this one scene that I can't erase from my mind and I thought it kinda sabotaged and undermined the whole relationship between Kwok Pong and Seung Hei. There was she hugging Kwok Pong's things and crying, because she missed him. Right and then suddenly there was this scene where she was sick in flash back and Kwok Pong was worried sick and she was crying not his name but "Tin Chi! Tin Chi" and cut back to that scene where she laid on her bed alone and cried some more. What did that mean? She was crying for Kwok Pong or for Tin Chi? The writer shouldn't put that Tin Chi! Tin Chi! scene in because it just made Seung Hei looked so bad you know. And which is why the ending to me is really not good enough.
First of all never in the history in Chinese culture back in those days that widows are encouraged to remarry, not just 1 year into widow-hood and not by even the press. When the press kept asking Seung Hei "have you followed your husband's dying wish and marry your one true love?" I was half expecting her to say "I have already married my one true love" but she didn't. She just cried. So what is Kwok Pong then? A tyre for her to float on? You must remember if Kwok Pong never died she will never be with Tin Chi ever again. And Kwok Pong actually loved her, he did more for her than Tin Chi did like Bik Kei did more for Tin Chi than Seung Hei ever done. But that one question and her non-answer kinda pushed Kwok Pong's memory away and I felt Kwok Pong got a bad bargain. What a wife Seung Hei was.
And there she was, holding that trophy or whatever saying her speech and Tin Chi appeared. Then she tearfully said yes and walked to him. Very touching but the body language with her trophy just hanging limply by her side and her eyes solely on Tin Chi, and this was supposed to be in remembrance of Kwok Pong, his crowning moment and his widow had eyes on for another, his trophy forgotten, his memory all but gone. I hated that scene and I felt nothing for their love. Maybe just let the ceremony finish and they meet somewhere alone and he said what he said and she will say what she said and the end. To make it so public is like an insult to Kwok Pong. We know he wished them well but must it be so open, so public? What everybody saw was happiness and what I saw was disrespect to the memory of a very good man. A bit more private exclamation of love would have been a more apt and romantic ending. After all, their love for one another isn't everybody else' business. I expected not really logic but a classy and quiet ending, befitting these two characters' years apart, longing and maturity. But why everything had to begin so loud and end so publicly?
The inadequacy of Tin Chi
The final scene of that lovely drawing on the wall of that abandoned house. It must be abandoned because no one can draw and write on it if there was an owner but then she has been writing so much, so maybe, just maybe there may be an owner who keeps repainting the house? I don't know. Anyway the ending was a nice way to end it without showing much but I still didn't like it. This is about Sai Kwan Dai Siu but never had this story ever been about him.
The first part of this series was dominated by Ming Hin, a very strong character that eclipsed all other characters. Tin Chi was just playful, being lazy, chasing around Seung Hei and nothing much. His attempts to work at the company was poorly depicted and he didn't do much work. Most of this series from the 1st to the 29th episode we have either Ming Hin or Yuk Hing advising him to work hard and we have Tin Chi promising them he will and then back to square one. In fact you can say this series is mostly about Ming Hin and his struggle or Tin Chi and Seung Hei's love affair. But very little on how Tin Chi struggled over the business, which would be more interesting because this is his story, on how he became a man. Seung Hei didn't define him, he should define himself. None of that.
I was also very disturbed by the non-connected scenes of Ming Hin's sickness and Tin Chi's other life with Seung Hei. Never once did Seung Hei ever mentioned Ming Hin's sickness, except once when they were walking into the classroom and Seung Hei just casually asked how was his father. That was it. I may have missed it but I am sure I didn't. And never did once Tin Chi ever discussed his father's illness with her. For someone so in love, they were far more concerned about separating for a month to concentrate on study/work (but total failure as they missed each other too much) and so on and so forth and yet nothing of Ming Hin were discussed. And Seung Hei should know his father was sick, after all his father was rich and prominent, everybody would know. I can't believe how not concerned both were about Tin Chi's most respected person. These scenes were like split personality scene. On minute Tin Chi was worried about his dying father, next scene with Seung Hei he was laughing happily, not one bit worried about his father. Of course one might argue that he didn't want to worry her but what about Seung Hei? She was just too concerned about her own feelings, what about Tin Chi's? Which was why I didn't quite understand what Kwok Pong saw in her. Are there no other grieving girls crying in the church for their ex-boyfriends?
And then suddenly Ming Hin died. And when he died, the entire series died along with him. The entire series now was solely on Tin Chi and Yuk Hing and Yuk Hing's story proved far more interesting, although repetetive. Uncles still as greedy, family still as useless and Man Seng really the most ridiculous villain there is. Tin Chi by this time was spending 90% of his time looking gloomy and crying over Seung Hei leaving him after being insulted by his mom, Tak Yung. We have scenes of him starving himself (ala Meteor Garden) and everything else but it was all incredibly corny. Then he wanted to run away, blah blah blah. It just never stops. And he was crying some more. Bik Kei who was seen as the ideal daughter in law (never ever during that time was a foreigner ever regarded as a daughter in law material, more so Bik Kei was a movie star and movie star are considered of lesser status amongst those rich and mighty to be considered as first wife, never) was more like a cheerleader in here and nothing much to do. Pretty boring stuff. In fact Tin Chi cried more over Seung Hei than over his father's death. Like buckets. He truly became useless then. But worse was this.
I think I wrote in The Plot that Kwok Pong's father's contract with Tin Chi's company was being dishonoured because the greedy uncles accepted bribe from another company, and Tin Chi agreed to let them buy a sinking ship in exchange for the return of the contract to Kwok Pong's father? Funny isn't it? I thought it was a nice touch to see Yuk Hing crying over Tin Chi's stupid decision and it was then Tin Chi became truly useless and then Tin Chi promised he will work hard, but did he? When Ng Man Seng strode into the office and took charge, I was expecting Tin Chi to join hands with Yuk Hing to fight him, but did he? Nope, he was far too busy feeling sorry for himself. Yuk Hing had to do it all by herself and took drastic measures.
Even until the end, never had Tin Chi showed any measure of a man in handling various issues and when he did, it was like "assume he did lar!" type of plot. I was very disappointed.
At this point his story reminded me so much of the movie Asoka starring the great Shah Rukh Khan. It was supposed to be a biopic of one of India's greatest rulers who was a tyrant who became a Buddhist and transformed his empire into a golden era of compassion and peace. But like this series, 99% of the movie was spent on how Asoka fell in love with a girl named Kaurwaki, how they ran around dancing, singing and in the end, just 5 minutes of Asoka walking through the fields full with dead bodies and he repented. In 5 minutes. This series was the same. 99% Tin Chi was chasing around Seung Hei and in this series, one episode he changed for the better and really worked hard. 29 episodes wasted on silly little things that should take a back seat. He became a man not because of Seung Hei leaving him, in fact he was very childish but it was because of the fall of the business he took up and started like how his father started. That was when he became a man and took charge, like Ming Hin. But to me much too short a time, much too late into the series. I find Tin Chi such a nonsense to begin with, charming yes but still nonsense.
The Other Plots
Like were there others? Oh yes, like I said greedy uncles, jealous wife. Let's start with greedy uncles.
It began with greedy uncles, in ended with greedy uncles leaving. They never repented, they were always greedy.
Kai Tong was a cad, and at last he was still a cad.
Kwok Pong was giving in the beginning and in death he was still as giving.
Tak Yung was a jealous wife but good point, for all her stupidity, she stayed with the family. But it was herself who doomed her relationship with Ming Hin. When her husband desparately needed money, she not only didn't help, she even provoked the situation, with her own brand of logic that "Yuk Hing was there, I wanted her to go, I'd rather my husband be poor and be with me alone than to be rich and share him with Yuk Hing", and this was repeated throughout the series. She simply didn't care for her husband's business. And when her husband died, still same old story. When she wanted Seung Hei to leave Tin Chi, she did a lot of despicable things, many to the detriment of her son. And she really wanted Seung Hei to leave Tin Chi NOT BECAUSE of Seung Hei's profession (her husband liked Seung Hei, if he was alive, she would have not say whatsoever) but because Yuk Hing approved of her. Later when Ng Man Seng came into the picture, despite the fact that he was Yuk Hing's sister, but because Yuk Hing disapproved of her brother running the company, Tak Yung readily agreed saying "Whatever you agree, I disagree, whatever you disagree, I agree". It was a nice scene when Tin Chi looked into her mother's eyes and asked "How come Second Mother would encourage me to work harder and you encourage me not to work?". Of course she left the study room angrily, saying Yuk Hing brainwashed Tin Chi. I was hoping the storyline will develop along that line where Tin Chi realised his mother was not a good mother. She wasn't even a good wife or daughter in law. I cannot believe the ridiculousness in this idea that Tak Yung held on to, that she would rather make life difficult for Yuk Hing and in a way destroy her only son's future and not help him. By bringing down the company, her son in the end would be left with nothing. She didn't see it that way of course. But the ending for her is nice. At last she realised Yuk Hing was family and she accepted her as a sister. At least one character actually changed for the better.
The rest simply stayed the way they were.
Chow Ming Hin & Ng Yuk Hing
I've already said what I wanted to say about him but I must add, I was disappointed that this series never showed his dying scene. His last scene was marrying Yuk Hing and waving good bye and then, cut to the next scene Yuk Hing was a few months pregnant and Ming Hin dead. I wanted to see raw emotions, I wanted to cry but this cut and next scene kinda cut the golden opportunity for Kleenex to sell more tissues you see. What a pity and so uncaring. Like the only two who mattered were that two and everybody else can just get lost.
To me Chow Ming Hin is the one character that held this messy series together. He made it interesting though at times seeing him struggling to re apply his company's shipping license was really ridiculous. I mean the license must be reapplied every 3 years. If he had to go through so much struggle, the series shouldn't have started with his house getting the first phone, the first electricity, mayor fearing his company would fall and thus economy would fall and all these he still had to struggle to get his shipping license. And his company has been around for like what? 50 years at least? But putting that aside, more ridiculous scene was asking Man Seng to help get that license. From what was said, I deduce Man Seng was his servant that went on to greener pasture, getting to know a few big names and making a name for himself. Why did he trust this weasel enough to give him so much money and to get the license? Who is he? Even till the end I didn't know and not that I care. The few episodes about the license thing were really out of this world.
But putting that aside, we see scenes of Ming Hin feeling so scared of losing his company he hid under his table and cried. In private he was a very insecure man. He spent his lifetime running this company, making it from nothing to something because he was the son and somebody had to do it. He had to marry the girl he didn't love and had to put up with her tantrums. He had to run the company without giving his uncles a chance to destroy it with their greed. It was not easy being Ming Hin but he did it all alone, and later thanks to Yuk Hing, otherwise he was all alone in his battle. His son whom he had high hopes on was simply disappointing. He may beat Tin Chi, but in his heart he really loved his son unconditionally.
Which is why I love this character for his strength, his flaws and his human dignity.
The same can be said of Yuk Hing herself.
Which is really interesting if you contrast these two with the other other.
Ming Hin struggled endlessly, never stopping his fight even when he was very sick and he was pressured to make a new will by the greedy uncles and stupid family. He left 30% I think to Yuk Hing and the 20% to Tin Chi with Yuk Hing as the trustee until Tin Chi becomes 25 or maybe the other way around, I can't remember. Yuk Hing promised that she will return everything to Tin Chi if he can run the company earlier. That was a great scene actually, to see how Ming Hin find a way to settle a problem. Contrast that to Tin Chi who spent most of his time in self pity. He inherited none of his father's strength nor discipline, none.
Yuk Hing was strong too. She battled and battled and she won in the end because she has an integrity of steel. Even when she was insulted as the servant girl, she stood by her principles and her man, determined to marry Ming Hin because she knew he loved her and she loved him. Contrast that to Seung Hei. One insult and she went home crying saying, declaring she never wanted to see Tin Chi again. One more person prone to self pity.
These two never had the older generations' strength and this is why I'd rather watch Ming Hin and Yuk Hing because they had more personality, more character, more stories to tell.
Other than these two, nothing is worth watching in here.
Mostly Ming Hin and how he defeated his greedy uncles and his confrontation with them. He really had so little respect for his uncle, Chow Cheong and those earlier parts of how he scolded his uncle was really very interesting to watch. And many many moments of how Ming Hin rebuild his company again and again.
The only scene I liked that involved Tin Chi and Seung Hei was when she was so drunk and he carried her home and accidentally ripping her clothes. That was funny and the rest was dead boring.
The first traumatic event, like Sum's dead son and the story about the young servant girl. Though I thought Sum shouldn't blame it on the servant girl, Ming Hin shouldn't have just brushed the whole issue aside by saying "your son is dead, move on". The uncles must pay but they never did.
Most Touching Moment
Ming Hin was lost as to how to save his company earlier in the series. He almost gave up and Yuk Hing was lost for words. They were in a trishaw and there was a warrant of arrest for Ming Hin as there was this law which states that he can be arrested for not doing anything to save his company which would jeapordise the state's economy. I see the logic. Suddenly he saw his old workers all walking in the rain, having lost their jobs and drinking. They were running towards him and I was thinking "Oh no, mob! Angry mob" but noooooo...the workers rushed to him and they pulled him aside and tearfully said "Lou Pan (Taukeh or boss), you must run, you must run, there is a warrant of arrest against you...this place is not safe for you!!". Ming Hin was so touched that he cleverly made a plan to save his company and even got more loan. You have got to watch it to believe it. Quite intelligent if you ask me. Anyway that scene was so touching. These men having lost their jobs and yet they begged him to run and hide. Such loyalty. Better get your Kleenex ready.
Most "Huh?!" moment
Many but one stood out. I can't believe Ming Hin, being such a considerate and good boss would not provide his workers of some shelter or some housing scheme. One worker was so poor, living in I couldn't even call it a shack. Quite HUH moment for me you know.
Another HUH moment would be when after Ming Hin died, Yuk Hing had a baby to take care of, so the father in law suggested asking someone to help with the business and who did they asked? Not Tin Chi, not close relative BUT Ng Man Seng. Why ah? Why him ah? This character is just too silly. He doesn't know how to do business, he knows only of dreaming big but no practical way of achieving it and is not even a good businessman.
Seung Hei's best friend, the one with the big glasses.
Tak Sum who suddenly came back towards the end as Man Seng's business partner and then disappearing again not long after.
The uncles. I would love to see them suffer like 5 years later, but none.
I would love to see that servant girl again, grown up and coming to visit the Chow family who had saved her life, but none. Forgotten I guess or maybe not important.
The Most Silent Character
There is one, that is the wife of the uncle who is always hanging out with Chow Cheong. Not one word for the entire series until almost the end. Her role is basically sit, eat, smirk and nod. Her lines can be counted sentence by sentence, like maybe in all 5 and not more than that.
Most Favourite Pair
None actually but if you insist, either Yuk Hing/Ming Hin for their togetherness, though only a short time but the impact was strong enough to last throughout the series and Ming Foong/Ming Fai/Accountant. These 3 may be useless but when together, they know where their loyalties lie.
Most Often Quoted Quotes
Yuk Hing : "I am just a servant girl, very lucky to have worked for the Chow family since the age of 8, washing the old master's feet..."
Tin Chi : "No, no it can't be, Seung Hei still wants me, she still loves me.." (in denial type of sentence)
Seung Hei : "I am just a poor girl who throws buckets of feaces, God won't be this good to me.." (like every episode)
Most Favourite Quote(s)
When Yuk Hing told Tin Chi tearfully that she had failed Ming Hin, she had failed Tin Chi when she found out Tin Chi authorised the uncles to buy a sinking ship.
Whenever Ming Hin scolded anyone, like to his Uncle "Please stop causing troubles, if you want me to respect you please behave in a respectful manner", to his 3 assistants, Ming Fai, Ming Foong and accountant where he said "I thought I have taught you to have a mind of your own, to decide what is right and wrong, I thought I taught you to see who's good for the company and who's not, I have failed" to Tin Chi "You useless son!" and beating him, to his wife "I understand a woman's jealousy, I understand your feelings but why are you so eager to destroy my company, why are you so eager to destroy this family", to his parents "I thought you knew who is good for this family and who is not", to his business associates "Yes I am poor now, I am screaming poor now! So what! Go away the company is bankrupt, there is no money!". Classic lines some of these, especially when he scolded his wife, deservedly so.
When Ming Hin said he wanted to marry Yuk Hing and Tak Yung was crying angrily and Ming Hin looked away from her and said loudly "If you don't like this, you can leave!" and later on when she was eating and she was saying hurtful things, Ming Hin just said "If you don't like to eat here, you can eat in your room". Woo what a man! He wasn't always that angry, his gentler side was when with Yuk Hing and sometimes with his son.
When Ming Hin said he wanted to marry Yuk Hing and Tak Yung ran to her father in law begging for justice (and this was after threatening them that she won't help Ming Hin until Yuk Hing leaves the house and state) and her father in law stood up and told Ming Hin, "Ming Hin, the last time this house had a celebration was when Tin Chi was 1 month old, this house has not had any celebrations for a very long time... if you want to do this wedding Ming Hin, remember don't do it if you intend to do it small, DO IT BIG! We shall have the biggest celebration there is!!!!!!" A good scene because I really hated the wife, very shallow woman.
And when Ming Hin was sick and he wanted Yuk Hing to leave, his father simply stood up and scolded his son for being so "stupid...you can't push Yuk Hing away, Yuk Hing is already my good daughter in law, she will stay in this house for as long as I am here!!". I agree. It was also a very good scene.
One final one, where when Yuk Hing was about to leave the family after taking almost everything, Tin Chi asked her "Why did you do this?" and Yuk Hing tearfully but calmly said "Remember this; remember your father built this company with very little money and one ship; remember how he did it.." and she left, leaving Tin Chi looking rather confused by what she said. She was actually telling him to get ready to start afresh like Ming Hin did many years before.
One word; excellent even when his character was involved in the most ridiculous plots, he managed to get through this series with a performance worth remembering and worth watching. In fact watch this series for him.
Her first series with TVB since coming out from retirement. She was never famous for being a good actress but she is one beautiful and elegant woman. I thought she did pretty well, better towards the end but not earth shattering.
Some said good performance, especially when he cried, some said bad, I say Chilam has been better known for other better performances, this series isn't one of them. He had so little to do, his character failed him in a way but in another way he failed his character. His performance was indequate, his crying too controlled that it looked timed and when he did cry and talk, he whispered and that was annoying because it sounded forced, it sounded like acting. I didn't like his performance here but he wasn't the worse.
Good performance as a cheerleader but she has zero screen presence so really I didn't quite care about her Bik Kei. She looked like she had too much teeth in her mouth and so when she talked she looked like she clenched her teeth talking and because of that I feel stressed watching her. Not a bad performance if you ask me but not a memorable one either.
She surprised me with her very controlled and mature performance. I never thought she was a good actress, never seen her for some time and here she was, with an image makeover that I almost didn't recognised her. She looked severe in here but interestingly, pretty. Anyway I like her performance. She had little do to but she did it all very well, especially when she was ditched by that cad and she looked so lost.
Lau Kong, Wai Kah Hung, Lo Chun Shun, Kwok Fung
3 of them are veterans, one is going to be a veteran and all 4 share a common strength as an actor; all of them can act very well especially Wai Kah Hung, Kwok Fung and Lo Chun Shun. These 3 can change their personality and image by simply acting and not changing their face or hair and they portrayed their characters so well, you must see them in action. Kwok Fung especially, very convincing as the useless greedy uncle and this man can play any character. Lo Chun Shun was very convincing as the timid Ming Fai, frustrating at times but totally in character. Wai Kah Hung has always been my favourite secondary supporting actor, he can play ANY character and he played them all convincingly, by not changing the way he speaks but rather his mannerisms. All 4 are great ones in here, including Damien Lau.
A very good singer, very elegant in real life but I'd rather Mary Hon in this role because Mary Hon is a far better actress than Lui San who can't cry convincingly, who looked painful when she is angry and her cheeks, much too red. I wasn't convinced of her performance and her character is mostly single minded; jealous, angry and nothing else.
I was watching this series and was very surprised to see him looking so mature and his hair I thought was thinning. I thought what happened to him, why he aged so much? Then I was watching The Vigilante In the Mask at the same time and I thought, wow, so handsome, so young. I figured out why. In that costume drama, he was paired with a young girl looking like a young girl and playing a young girl and so he looked young. He looked really good in costume drama and his acting was quite good in there. In this series he looked old, his character had little to do than basically to be the essential good guy till the end. But I like his gentle and caring character, I like his performance. I have been wrong about Sammul Chan. He has charisma and he is growing on me. And if paired with the right person he could do better. This series he didn't do so well because his character was poorly written and his role is just to appear, whisk Seung Hei away and then deliver his message and die. Nothing much but still like him.
Chan Hung Lit
His character a total failure, his performance well...not very good. Too dramatic type of acting, too much big movements, too opera-tic with his bulging eyes and wierd accent. Not very good if you ask me.
Very good looking but role is one dimensional. Not a great actor to start with, not a good actor to begin with, so with very little to do, he didn't do so well though he was perfect as the heartless cad, if only his acting was more convincing.
The rest of the older actors
Good, especially Chow Chung who surprised me with his rather good performance when all along I was saying this old man can't act. Law Lan was as usual, superb as the small minded grandmother although their characters, especially Law Lan's character is so unbelievably naive and rather short sighted
Always the best for last right? Not this time, I save the worst for last.
I can understand the loyalty of her fans, proclaiming this and every series she has been in as her best performance. I was very surprised not many mentioned An Herbalist Affair, her only performance that I genuinely loved. The rest are either forgettable or really bad. Mostly bad. What I don't understand is why they're so keen to give her praises when she has so much more to improve on?
I must agree, she improved tremendously since her first acting role in Time Off. You can read my reviews on her series, she is one of those few that I have reviewed all of her series except for those I haven't watched. I was consistently honest about her. I like her as a personality but her acting, except for An Herbalist Affair has always been consistently bad to worse or rather worse to bad, depending on how you see it. I have yet to see a heartfelt performance from her, An Herbalist Affair included. I mean she was excellent in there, but could be better.
You could say Ho Seung Hei as a character failed her. She was poorly written, very silly, very dumb, almost a bimbo in some ways and in many ways illogical. But remember the scene I took great pains in describing, the way she held the trophy? Her body language was always the problem. She acts with her face, she acts with her eyes, she cries beautifully, smile with such glowing happiness and kisses with such passion but she just can't act with her hands and her body language. After all these years she never paid attention to how she should walk, she should stand or simple gestures like how she should hold that darn trophy. I doubt her character Seung Hei is so heartless that she forgets about Kwok Pong the minute she laid eyes on Tin Chi but her body language confirms my suspiscion. She is and has always been and frustratingly so will always be a scene per scene actress. She does not have continuity in her performance, no balance, always extreme. When she screams, she becomes annoying. Ever since that Cuckoo series, she screams and shouts her lines. It's no longer music to my ears which was why when her Seung Hei appeared 5 years later, I liked that Seung Hei, that gentle one. You could say Seung Hei was supposed to be loud, rude, sometimes obnoxious and most of her characters are written that way. Which shows that her acting range is either sweet/demure or rude/loud/obnoxious, there is no in between.
I am getting very tired of repeating my views on Charmaine. I can honestly say she improved but I can't honestly say she was so good in here, or that she was good, period. Her performance lacked substance, it lacked personality. Charmaine has failed to transfer her usual sunshine self into this character and that means either she has grown past her age to play young girls or she has become too famous that she has lost her before she was famous type of charm.
I can only conclude, maybe just maybe this role wasn't hers to play because I am constantly reminded of An Herbalist Affair and how well she did in there.
Or maybe, just maybe, like most of her fans refuse to see it, maybe she has reached her limitations as an actress and this is the best she can give and to me it is still not enough.
Stricly for die hard fans of Damien Lau, Angie Chiu, Chilam Cheung and Charmaine Sheh or you'll die trying to finish watching this repetetive series. It simply has not enough story to fill 30 episodes. Take my advice; forget about this one. It's not worth your time, unless of course you have cash and time to spare and you really want to watch the 4 actors I named in here or even Belinda Hamnett who has quite a lot of screen time. If not, I see no reason why I should recommend this series. But not that you care right? Watch it for yourself but be forewarned; be ready to be either bored to death or if you're as picky as I am, get really really frustrated with this CD on a loop and one dimensional characters.