"If I Were The Scriptwriter I would... Cut the sentimental crap... "
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
This was first posted in E-Buzz (now known as Point2e.com) when it was still hosted by Geocities hence the reference to Geocities in this review.
Dissecting the Title
The English title differed from the Chinese Title. Originally Luk Ding Gei, it is now "Siu Bo Yu Hong Hei" which basically means Siu Bo and Hong Hei. The more important question is already answered in this title. Who is the main character in this series? Since Siu Bo's name came first, indeed it was Wai Siu Bo. But the way I see it, the character of Hong Hei was as important, because without this one character, the whole story would not exist as it will not justify the actions or inactions of our Wai Siu Bo.
20 tapes/40 episodes
Taiwan/China but distributed by TVB in Hong Kong & elsewhere.
The very popular novel by Jin Yong, a man who consistently have his novels made into series but also consistently and dramatically altered to suit TVB's/producers' taste, much to the chagrin of the author and fans of his original works.
There are many faces that I recognise but I can't or I do not know their names. But I can name a few. At least now there's a name to a face you'll see. If you know the rest, do please E-Mail me the names.
Wai Siu Bo - Dicky Cheung Wai Kin
Siu Kam Yu - Shu Kei
Princess Kim Ling - Ruby Lin Xin Ru
Lung Yee/ Empress Dowager - Monica Chan Fatt Yung
Emperor Hong Hei - Patrick Tam Yiu Man
Chan Kan Nam - Ekin Cheng Yee Kin
Fong Yee - Mak Ka Kei
Seong Yee - Wu Chen Jun
Ping Yee - Zhang Si
Ah Oh / Chan Yuen Yuen - Athena Chu Yan
Hoi Tai Fu/ Chief Eunuch Hoi - Ng Man Tat
Wu Tak Tai - Leung Ka Yan
So Who Is Who & With Who
Below is a simple chart as to the names of the characters and the sect/society that they owe their allegiance to, at the beginning of this series. Towards the end the chart would look very different because everybody is a "Demi God & Semi Devil" in here. Just bear in mind that everybody is against our Hong Hei, whilst everybody is also against everybody for the chance at the throne. Meaning everybody is against everybody. Period.
By the way, the names and the names of the societies/sects were all my own translation and therefore were not entirely accurate. If you read a Mystical Dragon Sect somewhere in here, I was referring to God & Dragon Sect.
Cheng Family (Taiwan)
Cheng Seng Kung
Cheng Hak Song
Chang Hak Hong
Foong Sek Fan
Heaven & Earth Society
Chan Kan Nam
Wu Tak Tai
Mr Kwai & Family
Mok Kim Ping
The God & Dragon Sect (San Lung Sect)
Chief of Sect
Russians ( I am not sure as to their nationality but I assume that they were Russians)
Princess Sophia & gang
Chu Family(Ex-Ming Dynasty)
Princess Cheung Ping/Gau Lan
Ng Family (Yunnan Province)
Ng Sam Kwai
Ng Ying Hung
Yeung Tat Tzi
Chan Yuen Yuen
Aison Gouro Family (Qing Dynasty)
Hoi Tai Fu
Now...Where IS Wai Siu Bo? : Everywhere would be my answer. Basically he's with Heaven & Earth Society and the Qing Dynasty officially, though he also held a position in that Sect of Mystic Dragon. But as to his wives who scattered everywhere at first, the final list of the Wai household would be as such :-
Wai Siu Bo & Madam Wai
Siu Kam Yu
Princess Kim Ling
Mok Kim Ping
Same as in my Duke Of Mountdeer review, the less expensive looking version produced by TVB some years back. But with a few minor adjustments here and there, the summary for this series is as follows :-
This is the story which spanned 10 years about an ordinary man who led an extraordinary life when he became involved in a stroke of (good/bad) luck in the power struggles between the people and the government and made worse when he became emotionally and personally involved with the people on both sides. In the end, he has to choose between his loyalty for his sifu, and his loyalty for the Emperor, his self professed best friend, and it was a position he wished he was never in because it was not an easy decision. And also more on his quest in finding and marrying 7 women, 6 of them later became his wives.
This is also a story about the passage of growth from a young man with little confidence to an extraordinary man who would later lead an even more extraordinary life, where he had to make decisions that will greatly affect his Kingdom and the People. But the decision was made more difficult because of his personal involvement emotionally with a man who works for both sides, a man he saw as his real and only trusted best friend who could betray him and who could save his life. In the end it was a decision between friendship and Kingdom and for this Emperor Hong Hei, it was a relatively predetermined decision.
But if you take away all those drama, take away everything, the emphasis of this story, apart from the adventures and dangers that Wai Siu Bo faced, would be LOYALTY and LOVE since everything in here, all his actions, revolved around these two words, loyalty and love. But the question is loyal to who? Love to which one?
The way I see the story, it involved two main leads, and the rest were there to give some "colours" to the story. As mentioned in the above Summary, I could write the plot in two ways, the viewpoint of Wai Siu Bo and the viewpoint of Hong Hei, but I'll write in the former viewpoint for consistency sake and because it was all about Wai Siu Bo. But I prefer to do this in a Q & A fashion, because doing it by paragraphs would be way too long. In fact I have just demonstrated the fact that I have yet to enter into the proper plot line and by now I bet you would be wishing that I just stop blabbering away and give you what you want. Ahhhh........not so easy! Read every word of my review and I bet you'll come out as if you have watched this series and never read my review at all, though I might have missed a few minor points here and there.
Basically, Wai Siu Bo, the illiterate son of a woman who worked in a brothel who married 7 times was a man with the greatest fortune/misfortune to have met Hoi Tai Fu and Princess Kim Ling whilst they were out of the palace searching for a capable swordsman to help kill Ao Bai and who helped him embark on an adventure and journey of his life. Hoi Tai Fu liked Wai Siu Bo because though he can't fight one bit, he had brains and wit to always save the day. Being an old fox that he was, he tricked Wai into going to the palace with him disguising as an eunuch with the sole intention of using him to steal the mysterious and wanted Book of the 42 Buddhist Scriptures, one of the 8 was with the dreaded Empress Dowager. Little did Hoi Tai Fu knew that this Wai Siu Bo, whilst in his disguise as Siu Kwai Tzi would meet the Emperor in the gym room one night and ended up being great friends with this man he called Siu Yuen Tzi. Together, and out of pure friendship and loyalty, Wai helped this young Emperor faced many many obstacles in securing his throne and Empire, from killing Ao Bai, the dreaded and feared Manchurian General to finding the long lost father of the Emperor who was now a monk in the Five Mountain Monastery, to destroying many many enemies including the universally hated Ng Sam Kwai. And along the way Wai Siu Bo picked up his wives like he picked up veges in a market, and vowed to marry them all, all of whom had different personalities. Along the way he also picked up sifus like he picked up fruits, like Wu Tak Tai (who on a promise to Chan Kan Nam, the chief of Heaven & Earth Sect to train this young cunning man, a man that Chan Kan Nam met even before Wai met the young Emperor) & the Nun with one arm, Gau Nan who was actually Princess Cheung Ping. Any problem came his way he would always find a way to make everything right, until the final test of loyalty came. His sifu wanted him to kill the Emperor whom he called his friend, and his Emperor upon knowing he was a member of the rebel gang dared him to kill his fellow members. He could do neither both, and that was when he knew he was cornered by his deep sense of loyalty to both sides, not because of politics, not because of power play nor greed, but purely because this man called Wai Siu Bo, however much a scoundrel he may have been, how ever many wives he may have had and lusted after, how ever much he was uneducated and knew not how to read nor write, this was a man who was as passionate about love, money and women as he was about friendship and loyalty. What then would a good man like him do? Betray his friend of an Emperor and help the rebel gang to "Overthrow the Qing, Restore the Ming" or help the Emperor to destroy the rebel gangs and secure the Qing Dynasty? Would the Society forgive him if they knew he had such deep feelings for the Emperor? What would the Emperor do if he knew he had been sleeping and had impregnated his beloved sister, Princess Kim Ling and more importantly, when he knew that Wai Siu Bo was a double headed snake and a potential traitor and threat to his own private agenda against the rebels? Oh yes....WHAT WOULD THEY ALL DO?!?!
Questions Asked & Answered
For those with little time to watch this series,or are dying to know the ending, below are some of the major questions asked and answered.
So..how did Wai meet his sifus?
Chan Kan Nam was being pursued by the Qing army when he was seriously injured and was hiding in the brothel where Wai was working as a story teller. Wai helped him to hide from the army and upon knowing he was Chan Kan Nam wanted to join the Heaven & Earth Society but Chan refused because he somewhat realised Wai was not potentially a good rebel. But he agreed upon many pleas and sent Wu Tak Tai to be his sifu, because Chan himself refused to be his sifu. And much later into the series he was kidnapped by the one armed nun who wanted to kill the Emperor and when the nun knew he was actually the chief of a small section of the Heaven & Earth society, having bravely killed the dreaded Ao Bai, the nun looked at him with respect. Wai played his cards well and the nun was impressed by his sincerity and took him in as her student though she never taught him any Kung Fu.
Who is Ao Bai?
Ao Bai was one of the 4 trusted Manchurian officials who was appointed by the Old previous Qing Emperor to assist the young Hong Hei in the administration of the young newly found Kingdom. And Ao Bai was the one who also helped the old Emperor in fighting the war and winning the Han people's land, that was China. But over the years he used the young Emperor's fear of him and his powerful influence and misused his own power and began to openly ridicule the young Emperor. Hong Hei would shake when Ao Bai barged into his study room without any notice. But Wai who was now the Emperor's trusted eunuch taught this old geezer a lesson about respect to the Emperor and of being humble. Hong Hei plotted to get rid of Ao Bai and Wai was one of the many reasons why the Emperor succeeded. When Ao Bai knew he was poisoned, he flew into a rage and screamed that the Emperor was ungrateful and thus vowed to kill him, but was instead caught by the Empress Dowager. He was imprisoned until his fellow men from Tibet, the Tibetan Lamas came to save the day for this man and when he was released he went straight to killing Hong Hei. Empress Dowager was there to save the day again (actually she was trying to save her own skin) but she couldn't quite stop him, and Hoi Tai Fu who was crazy at that time went to help on the orders of Wai and was instead killed in the kung fu fight. In the end it was the cunningness of Wai that saved the day where he pulled out Ao Bai's pistol that he took when Ao Bai's property was being seized and Wai simply shot Ao Bai straight into his temple. But the problematic Lamas was far from over.
How come the Empress Dowager knew Kung Fu?de
Hoi Tai Fu suspected it for a very long time that the Empress Dowager was a fake and that the real Empress Dowager who knew no Kung Fu and who was educated and refined was hidden somewhere in the palace. The Emperor and Kim Ling suspected that their mother was strange, less affectionate and was younger than she was 2 years back but refused to see the truth. Wai didn't suspect anything, and was instead ordered around by the Empress Dowager to steal the Book of 42 Buddhist Scriptures from Ao Bai and Hoi Tai Fu, but Wai did none of her request,and instead saw her naked, TWICE. Finally when she was out, Kim Ling and Wai found a secret passage way in her room and discovered the real Empress Dowager in there. By that time Ao Bai escaped from prison and our fake one was busy fighting him when she was defeated . The Emperor was waiting for Wai's signal to shoot the whole darn "Qi Ling" Palace when he successfully shot Ao Bai and came out safe and sound. But the fake one escaped and later we knew she was Lung Yee, the first disciple of the power crazy Chief of the Mystic Dragon Sect and future wife of Wai Siu Bo.
What about the wives? Who and how they met?
Siu Kam Yu (Little Goldfish) was actually Wai's childhood sweetheart who unfortunately died shortly after he left with Hoi Tai Fu for greener pastures in the big city. She was forced to marry a rich man and on the way to being married, she escaped and committed suicide by jumping into the river. We didn't get to see all this but this was told by Mdm Wai to his won when he came back much much later as the successful right hand man to the Emperor. He promised her at her grave that she will be his first wife.
Wai met Princess Kim Ling whilst she was in disguise as a man with Hoi Tai Fu and back home in the palace, she seduced him and she had the privilege to be the first potential wife to have had sex with Wai first. He regretted his rash actions but the Princess used this fact against him and threatened to tell her Brother about everything each time he delayed in seeing her. But much later she was forced to marry Ng Ying Hung, the only son of Ng Sam Kwai. She didn't want to but she was forced and she did something drastic and she was sent home to Beijing. By that time she was pregnant with Wai's child and she told him so but he was more shocked and in fear than happy.
Wai met Ping Yee, the Ming Princess of the Mok family when one member of the Heaven & Earth Society kidnapped this Princess when their man was insulted by the Mok family, both owing allegiance to different families. She was smuggled into the palace but instead Wai successfully sweet talked her into falling for him, because she was naive and young and because he was really that good in those sweet talking stuff.
Wai met Fong Yee and fell for her when he met her in one of his outings, but she was crazy about her Big "Brother". Later in one failed attempt to assassinate the Emperor, her lover was caught and Wai made her swear that she will marry him and only then he will save her lover. Reluctantly she said yes but after much consideration she realised she was falling for her and was willing to share him with other women. But not quite so as I shall explain much later into this review.
Wai met Seong Yee when she was assigned by her adopted father, so to speak plus sifu, Wu Tak Tai to protect Wai in the palace. One look and he was besotted with her beauty and she was the one who was the easiest to sweet talk to. Easily she began to call him "husband".
Wai met Lung Yee when she was in disguise as the Empress Dowager and fell for her beauty , more so when he saw her naked, TWICE. But she hated him and was deeply loyal to her Chief until much later into the series when Wai told her to confront her Chief as to whether he ad teamed with big traitor Ng Sam Kwai to take over the throne and Wai went in to look for her only to find her Kung Fu being erased and she was seriously hurt. Lung Yee fell for him there and then when he gave her the anti-poison pill and he himself risked being poisoned by cooking poisoned stew to the mad Chief who had kidnapped both of the them.
Wai met Ah Oh when he was sent to the Five Fingers Monastery to be a monk and protect the Old Emperor and he was ta this restaurant when he smelled a beautiful fragrance, heard the most beautiful voice and saw the most beautiful creature that was Aht Oh. He swore that he would marry her but it was not that easy. Ah Oh had really low opinion of him and thought highly of a Mr Cheng Hak Song, who so happened to be Chan Kan Nam's master, so to speak. Being insulted slapped and almost killed didn't stop Wai from trying his best to make Ah Oh love him. In the end, it took the greatest rejection of love by Mr Cheng for Ah Oh due to fear of death (Wai was threatening that Cheng Hak Song of bodily harm when Wai overheard their plan to kill his sifu and Chan Kan Nam and Wai successfully caught them using his many tricks) and one poisoned dagger that hit Ah Oh and Wai's frantic expressions and actions in finding a cure for her that she realised that "why was I so blind to have fallen for Mr Cheng when I got this great guy before me eventhough he had 6 other women in his heart he still cared so much for me and after all my insults still want me?", and she accepted him and thus Wai's collection of 7 precious wives were complete.
Phew! Two more wives and this review will take an hour to load!
How come the wives fell for him?
He used tricks I guess into getting them to marry him. But he has never touched them, only kissed them and that was because they wanted to. Charm I guess is one factor. Perseverance is another. He did a lot just to get Lung Yee and Ah Oh's heart. The rest he did very little before they fell for him, especially Seong Yee and especially Princess Kim Ling. He did practically nothing for her but she was crazy about him.
Which one he loved most?
If I say equally would be inaccurate though Wai always said he loved them all. My guess, the way he would look at them and the effort he put into loving them would be Siu Kam Yu first, Ah Oh second and Lung Yee third. Siu Kam Yu because she died so he can't have her forever and ever, Ah Oh because she hated him and so it was quite a challenge to win her heart and Lung Yee because she was the first and only to consider leaving him.
How come Ah Oh hated him and why Lung Yee wanted to leave?
Two questions so two answers.
Ah Oh hated him for a very simple reason; he was in his disguise ( he was ordered to be a monk then) drinking one day when Ah Oh openly said she wanted to kill the "Dog of an Emperor's faithful sidekick, Siu Kwai Tzi" which was actually Wai himself. Wai volunteered to take her to the Five Mountains Monastery and took her running everywhere and then kidnapped her and revealed his true self, as a monk. She was deeply offended by his wanting to marry her and though of him as a lusty monk, and when she knew he was Siu Kwai Tzi, she hated him more for his inappropriate behaviour towards her. Moreover she was crazy about Cheng Hak Song. It didn't help when he tagged along with her sifu to everywhere and annoying her. And Ah Oh was a very stubborn girl and blind perhaps.
Lung Yee wanted to leave because when Wai took his for wives back home (Lung Yee, Seong Yee, Ping Yee and Fong Yee) to his mother, she was the one who didn't know how to say the right things, cook, etc. Plus Fong Yee who bore a grudge against her was especially mean and harsh towards her not so feminine ways, and was always talking about her and referring to her as the fallen princess, losing all her Kung Fus and therefore useless. She was heartsick when she overheard Mdm Wai making comments as to her rather stiff personality and she ran and ran and Wai came running after her and after much persuasion, she was the first wife who had the guts to suggest leaving him. But Wai did all he could and in the end, she was the first "wife" whom he took before the grave of Siu Kam Yu and introduced her to Siu Kam Yu and took her before his dead 7 father's altar to pay her respect. So I guess she should be considered as the second wife, Siu Kam Yu being the first.
Wait! Wai became a monk?
He was actually sent to protect the old guy, but the Emperor went further and didn't tell him his mission until he reached there and the mission was read out, that he must be a monk. Wai screamed.
WAITT! What old guy?
Sorry..the old Emperor. He didn't die of some illness as the Emperor thought but after his favourite concubine was poisoned by the Queen, the Queen then killed herself and he became disillusioned and decided to be a monk.
The Queen died? So what was Monica Chan playing?
The Queen died, so what? Can't the Emperor find another Empress?
Who is Cheng Hak Song?
The jerk of this series. He is the second son of the Cheng family and the descendant of the famous Ming General, Chen Sing Kung who obviously was dead when he was born. He belonged to the Taiwan gang, the gang that Chan Kan Nam and his men pledge their allegiance to. But Chan Kan Nam pledged his allegiance to his big brother, Cheng Hak Hong, and so this little scheming bastard, who had neither the looks nor the bravery to fight his own fight wanted to kill of Chan Kan Nam and gang so that when the Qing were forced out of the country, he could be King! What a big head he had don't you think?Anyway, he met Ah Oh when he saved her from the lamas, and though his sifu, Fong was famous for his "One stab there's blood", this little bastard learnt nothing at all! Couldn't fight his own fight. So when Wai drugged him and Ah Oh and his sifu when they were looking for him IN WAI'S OWN brothel!! When they woke up, Wai threatened bodily harm unless he screamed that Wai could have Ah Oh and that boneless Bastard screamed. Ah Oh cried and still hated Wai, until that Bastard later came back and threw a poisoned dart towards Wai but Seng Yee kicked Wai and he fell down and the dart went straight to Ah Oh, who was standing behind Wai. That bastard escaped and Wai immediately went into big time panic and quickly took Ah Oh back to Beijing and into the palace with the hope of asking the Emperor for a type of flower that can cure her but that flower only opened every 50 years. Ah Oh became touched by his sincerity and concern for her and asked Wai to treat her as well as he did for the past few days for the rest of her life. Wai emotionally said "Sure!". I mean Ah Oh was in desperate need of a place to call her own since she had none.
But didn't she have a sifu called Gau Nan? You know the nun with one arm?
Yes yes she DID. But that all ended, the relationship and all when Ah Oh found out that her sifu had never loved her and had kidnapped her from her mommy and daddy so that when she grows up she can kill her own daddy. You know, her daddy was none other than Chinese history's biggest traitor, Ng Sam Kwai and mommy was the blamed woman for Ming's Downfall, Chan Yuen Yuen.
Who the heck is Ng Sam Kwai?
The father of Ng Ying Hung, the man that Princess Kim Ling was forced to marry but she ended up castrating him, an act that Wai approved of because the Ngs killed his friend, Yeung Tat Tzi. Anyway, Ng Sam Kwai was a loyal Ming General during the Ming Dynasty and he fell for a prostitute named Chan Yuen Yuen. Whilst he was busy fighting off the Manchurians, Lee Chi Seng, a Han rebel took over the reign and also too over his woman Chan Yuen Yuen. Ng flew intoa rage and swore to get back his Chan Yuen Yuen and the only way to do so was to let the Manchurians into the final strenghhold of the Ming Dynasty that Ng was keeping guard of and he became the Manchurian defeated Lee Chi Seng, gave Ng his woman back and Ng became the Ping Sai Wong; the Lord of Yunnan Province. He wanted to marry Chan but he couldn't because of her background, and Chan understood his difficulty. But she became a bit disillusioned about his love for her when he said he will have to marry a proper woman to be his proper wife. That was the unseen wife who gave him Ng Ying Hung. Chan moved to a nunnery and lived there for a while but one day she was walking on the street when she Lee Chi Seng, who has now become a monk when he realised his fight for the throne was like so over and he literally dragged her into committing the sordid adulterous act with him. She became pregnant with Lee's child and she moved back in with the unsuspecting Ng, gave birth to Ah Oh and when she was kidnapped, Chan went back to the nunnery, for good.
I thought you said Ah Oh was Ng's daughter...
Yes, but apparently she wasn't. And what a life Ah Oh would have had as Ng's daughter. Anyway, Ah Oh was so upset, and quite logically so. If Ng was her father, she would have been the daughter of the most hated Han man in Han land. If she was the child of Lee, she would've been the daughter of a rebel who dethroned Ming Dynasty, even for a short while. Now she had Ng as her fake daddy, Lee as her real daddy and the woman that was blamed for all the Ming mess, Chan Yuen Yuen's daughter. She couldn't take it and ran and ran and ran, refusing to acknowledge all her parents and went straight to that little Bastard. And whatever written about that Cheng Hak Song was he continuation of her story after she knew of her true identity.
So Chan Yuen Yuen was that loose a woman huh?
I guess so. I mean they didn't show it but you can imply that when Lee Chi Seng took over the Ming kingdom and kidnapped Ng's family, including the well known of a beauty Chan Yuen Yuen, he must have either raped her or had sex with her. Why I said either was because of how Chan Yuen Yuen reacted towards Lee when they saw each other again. There was no fear, more like old lover meeting again. So I guess she was indeed a very immoral woman, though the writer tried to make as if she was noble by becoming a nun.
So who did Chan Yuen Yuen really loved?
Wai asked her and she said she didn't know.Until the nun, Gau Nan aka Princess Cheung Ping challenged the both of them to a duel to end the matter once and for all and they fought like crazed men, but Lee almost win and almost killed Ng when Chan ran to Ng and hugged him tight and said he'll have to kill her first. I guess she loved Ng BUT when Lee who was in shock and looked deeply hurt asked her what about if he was the one about to be killed?(Something like that). She said the same words" I would die with you". So in the end I am not sure who she loved more. But Lee Chi Seng left, Gau Nan left to be a real nun this time and let go of the revenge thing for her dead daddy, Ng went back to being his lord and to start a war against our Hong Hei, Wai left to take back the Princess back to Beijing, Ah Oh had already ran away and Chan went back to being a nun, walking feet apart from Ng to "remember my sins and find forgiveness".
Ng Sam Kwai really started a war?
Which will lead to why Lung Yee lost all her kung fu. Earlier Wai challenged her to go back to her Chief and ask him if he was combining forces with Ng Sam Kwai and off she went. Then Wai received a new assignment by the Emperor to bomb the God & Dragon Sect's island to smithereens with his newly acquired cannons. Wai reluctantly went but promised Lung Yee that as long as she did not come out of the island, he will not bomb the place. She didn't come out and later he and Seong Yee went in and found her in a pitiful state. Her chief thought she was betraying him by asking those questions and erased her of her Kung Fu and thus all she had left was her years of training in terms of inner strength, all she gave to Wai to blow the prison gate. They tried to escape but experienced near death experience and that was when Lung Yee realised Wai indeed loved her and was willing to die for her, as mentioned somewhere above. Anyway they succeeded in blinding that crazy Chief but he was still very powerful and he kidnapped Seong Yee and used her as a guide to reach Russia to get to him and Ng's biggest supporter, Princess Sophia and her gang who would have gotten some pieces of Han land if the overthrowing of Hong Hei was successful. Wai traced Seong Yee's footsteps, successfully saved her from the nutcase and stumbled upon the Princess Sophia on a hunting trip and kidnapped her back to Beijing, threatened her to end the partnership with Ng only to realise though she was supposedly the ruler, she was actually being controlled by her brother. Hong Hei promised that he would send army to Russia to overthrow her brother and she would stop conspiring with Ng and she readily agreed, when she was faced with prospect of being a prostitute if she said no (thanks to Wai of course). And thus Ng lost his biggest supporter.
So did Ng Sam Kwai won the war?
As history showed, he lost miserably. As in this series, he lost miserably, but not through war but rather, he died of a heart attack, induced by the death of his only son Ng Ying Hung who was killed by a shooting arrow that was part of a bigger scheme of lies to tempt this old fox into his own downfall when Siu Bo on the orders of the Emperor, tricked him into believing he was betraying the emperor, and thus led Ng into the supposedly real treasure of the Qing Empire that everybody wanted.
How come Ng believed him?
A very long story because in between lots of things happened to Wai. For example, the Emperor found out he was a member of the rebel gang and confronted him and demanded that he destroy the the rebel gang. He refused and was locked up only to escape and realise that his own house, where his sifu and the gang was in it was surrounded by cannons with a very eager Fung Sek Fan. He persuaded his stubborn sifu who wanted to die like a hero to crwal out through the "shit" tunnel to escape, only to encounter Cheng Hak Song and was arrested for treason. Wu wanted to go back to Taiwan to explain and was willing to be tied up and at that moment Fung Sek Fan arrived and arrested them all except Cheng Hak Song who escaped. Hong Hei agreed to let Wai and Ah Oh and his Sifu go on the condition that Wai go to Ng's territory and kill him. Reluctantly he go and pretended to be a traitor and asked Ah Oh to call him father. We all know AH Oh ain't his daughter, and Ng knew too but Ah Oh created this wonderful lie that he wanted to believe in that she was actually his daughter and her mom told her so. After testing Wai's loyalty (this you have to see for yourself) he believed Wai and followed Wai to the treasure. The treasure was the one that everbody seeked, that was the very secret of the Book of 42 Buddhist Scriptures. But Wai went there before and discovered to his utter disappointment there was nothing in there. The Emperor confirmed his disappointment, as the terausre was already in the treasury of the Qing and the story about the Feng Shui thing was only a story to confuse the mind of the rebels. Anyway, once the Ngs were dead, Wai went back to confront the Emperor and reluctantly Hong Hei let his sifu go,. But Wai discovered his sifu lost all his Kung Fu (thanks to Fung Sek Fan and nothing got to do with Hong Hei) and they decided to go back to Taiwan to the Chengs and was treated with disrespect. Cheng Hak Song's mom wanted to kill Wu and in the end, Wai saw through their deception and Ah Oh kidnapped Cheng Hak Song. But Wu being an honourably stupid man demanded Wai to not harm Cheng and Cheng took this opportunity to stab Wu once, and he was seriously injured. But Wia took Cheng as a hostage and made it to the harbour. But Wu succumbed to his serious injury. Wai wanted to kill Cheng but was stopped by Wu's 3 sidekicks. Only then did Wai knew that these very same three men that he had known since he joined the rebel gang was actually spies sent into the rebel gang even before Wai first went to Beijing to work for the Emperor. NOW we all knew how the Emperor know so much of everything. They took Cheng back to Beijing but Hong Hei played his cards right and gave Cheng a title, just to show to the Han people that he was a reasonable good Emperor and he will use persuasion instead of force as the way o govern his kingdom. A very smart move. Anyway Fung Sek Fan led an army to Taiwan and won the war.
What happened to Wai Siu Bo and wives then?
They ran away and lived in a far away land, away from politics for two peaceful and happy years. Kim Ling gave birth to a daughter named Seong Seong, Seong Yee to a son and another wife to a son. Ah Oh was heavily pregnant when Hong Hei's men came and asked Wai to go to Beijing. it seemed that the Emperor officially forgave him and gave him his title back. So they all went back happily, only to find something was amiss. King Ling and the wives except Lung Yee went to see the Empress Dowager whilst Wai went to see Hong Hei. But things were very different. From a respected Lord Wai, now the court was controlled by Fung Sek Fan and gang. Wai discovered Tor Loon who had helped him 2 years before to escape from the cannons that destroyed his house now was demoted to the rank of a small time official, but Dor Loon did not regret his actions. When Wai finally saw Hong Hei, they talked about old times, laughed and happily talked about their friendship when Hong Hei told him he needed Wai to take over the now weakened Heaven & Earth Society as their new leader since Chan Kan Nam was already dead and so was Wu Tak Tai. And then he was to destroy the rebel gang. But he said no and the Emperor looked at him coldly and asked him to say hello to his wives. It was then Wai realised that Hong Hei held his wives and children hostage, with the exception of Kim Ling. He reluctantly did as he was told, and saw his sifu, Gau Nan nun there and became the leader. he led them into the palace to kill the King but they were surrounded by many men and was attacked. Wai went and looked for the King and held him hostage in one of the most intense scene in this series. When everybody escaped, Wai simply threw down his sword and knelt before the King. Wu Tak Tai took this opportunity to beat the crap out of him and he was imprisoned.
One question. Lung Yee pretended to be Kim Ling's mom for 2 years and Kim Ling could live with her knowing that she kidnapped her mom for 2 years??
In fact Lung Yee said sorry to her but Kim Ling was not an unreasonable person. She knew why Lung Yee did what she did and she forgave her. Moreover Kim Ling reasoned that for 2 years she did nothing bad to her brother and Kim Ling and thus Lung Yee must have been a good person.
Ok. ...WAITTTT!!! Chan Kan Nam DIED?
The most pointless guest starring by an actor ever. Yes but don't ask me how. One scene we have Cheng Hak Song saying he burnt Chan to death and killed his own brother and he seemed to regret that. Next scene we have Wu Tak Tai saying that Chan died of some serious illness 3 months before. Then there was this scene that seemed to imply that Chan Kan Nam retired and was hiding somewhere. What I do know is he died.
What happened then to Wai? Couldn't he just escape?
Technically he could because he now possessed great Kung Fu thanks to his sifu, Wu Tak Tai who way before he died gave Wai all his years of inner energy. But Wai didn't want to, not even when his wives begged him to run. He simply had to "give his life back to his best friend". The Emperor was reluctant to order for his death, and he went to see Wai and they talked hard and long in one of the best scenes in this series. The Emperor looked at Wai and asked him "What do you think I should do?" and Wai said very seriously "You are now thinking whether to kill or not to kill me. And if you do order for my death, you are thinking whether to do this privately or openly. I have been thinking in your shoes sire, and I would order for my own death. I just want it to be a very open death, for all to see. Go back now and write an edict for my death sire". The Emperor nodded and he went away and Wai simply walked back into his own cell.
What about his wives? Why Wai himself asked for death?
Simple. He was thinking in the King's shoes. Imagine this. He was the King's best man, he was his most trusted and most loved official and in front of everybody he threatened to kill the King and let the rebels go. The King technically no longer have any respect of the masses. So if the King didn't kill him, then this could send a message to potential traitors that "hey, it's ok to be a traitor". So Wai had to die to give some respect back to the King. And he was thinking about his wives, but he didn't want to live as a coward and he preferred to die as a hero.
Was Wai executed and did he die?
Yes and no. The King after drinking himself silly tearfully approved his death sentence and cried the whole night and he even saw Wai's head in the box given to him by Fung Sek Fan who oversaw the execution. But sometimes what you see is not what you get.
So.....did Wai Siu Bo die?
All this happened in the last episode. I won't tell you here. You will either have to watch it yourself or simply find it somewhere in this review. I won't give you the ending THAT easily.
Funn....Let me just say this.....I HATE YOU!
I'm touched. *sob* *sob* *sob*
Biggest Complaint(s) & A Bit Of Comparison
I did not watch the universally applauded as the best version of DOMD starring the then very young Tony Leung and an even younger looking Andy Lau. I managed to watch an episode or two and these two actors clearly had the looks for the part and the chemistry as well. But I have seen the universally criticised new TVB version, DOMD 1998 and thus, whatever comparison I make will be between DOMD 1998 and DOMD 2000. But before I proceed I thank the person who created the numerical representations of years, if not having to spell DOMD 1998 and DOMD 2000 each and every time I make a reference to them would certainly bore you to death for reading this already too long a review and most certainly will drive me to insanity because the titles aren't just one word.
I have read some unedited comments in the Forums, other reviews site and I realised that the only review that I came across that did not really proclaim this as a classic was DOMD 2000 was in SPCNET. Perhaps the reviewer was of the older generation, who certainly have seen original DOMD. Most comments were paying too high a compliment to this series; saying it was a classic, the best series ever, the best DOMD ever, the best everything. And then there were many who commented that DOMD 1998 was horrible, and it was a well known fact that the press hounded Steven Ma for his poor performance, screamed that the wives were inadequate in terms of everything and that the only watchable one was Jordan Chan. Some points I agree some I did not. For whatever it is worth, below are my biggest complaints of DOMD 2000 and my explanation why I think DOMD 2000 didn't deserve such great applause and why I liked DOMD 1998 eventhough many didn't. I am looking purely at characterisation first. For comparison of performances, look under The Performances Rated.
Titles and Names
This DOMD 2000 was very inconsistent in terms of the delivery of the lines, and certain scenes.
When a King speaks to his subjects, he would refer to himself as "JUM" meaning "I". He would never use "ngor" which is also "I" used by common people. When the officers speak to the King, they would call themselves as "Bei Jik, Jin Pei, Sun" all referring to "I" for officers or servants. They never say "ngor" which was considered rude and was punishable for disrespect to the Emperor. Wai saying Ngor was an exceptional case since the Emperor let him be. But to have the Emperor saying "Ngor" instead of "Jum" would be so wrong even if this was fiction. More so when this Emperor saw himself as a cut above everybody, being the Son of Heaven, symbol of the Empire. I find it ridiculous when Patrick Tam switched from Jum to Ngor every other scene. What was he thinking? And one scene had the father meeting the son again, and the son called his father "Foo Wong". Nothing wrong here...IF YOU'RE IN MING DYNASTY! Well known word, after HZGG, it is WONG A-MAH! And the son when referring to himself when talking to his father, he ain't gonna say "San Yi" , meaning I, your son, but "Wong Yee". No difference between the two but the latter would connote his status as the Emperor. And Princess Kim Ling. Is it Kim Ling Gong Ju(Gong Ju) or Kim Ling Gak Gak (Ge Ge)? Take a wild guess and after watching HZGG for millions of times and if you still get this wrong, e-mail me your address and I'll come personally to strangle you plus burn your HZGG VCDs! I find all this supposedly trivial complaints to be big time complaints. So much attention given to the dresses, the sets, the sceneries, the history BUT they screwed up the most noticeable thing of all; the dialogue! It was so infuriating when Patrick went "Ngor.....".then "Jum......." then "Ngor....". It annoyed me big time and because of such a careless oversight, this series could have been a silly joke if not for the ending. You have to give it to Qiong Yau though. She always got the titles right. And you have to give it to DOMD 1998 for being more consistent in this aspect.
The characterisation of Wai Siu Bo.
I love Dicky, I really do as I have unashamedly declared my adoration for him in my Co-Stars of the Co-Stars in All About Yue Ling.
I really do not like the way the writers try to make Wai Siu Bo into some sort of a noble lovable brave refined hero. In fact they tried so hard to make him into a passionate loving man, his heart full of love that he can't help but fall for 7 women!! This character reminded me so much of the character Dicky played in Young Fong Sai Yuk and that is bad because both have very different agendas and personalities, on paper that is.
In the book, and even DOMD 1998 and original version, Wai Siu Bo was unrefined, uneducated, ruthless, cunning, full of tricks and sometimes had little conscience, except that he was bound his only virtue; loyalty for both sides. He cared nothing for the Rebel's cause nor did he cared that the Emperor was a Manchurian and he a Han. I find him to be a disgusting anti-hero, lusting after women, even raping them (DOMD 1998). His only redeeming quality was his unconditional friendship with the young Emperor. In this DOMD 2000, many many things were done and told to justify why Wai deserved all of his 7 wives; that he believed in the Rebel's cause; that he was greedy but not too much; that he never touched his wives and it was all talk only; that he would show his temper to the Emperor and some scenes hinted that his friendship with the Emperor was not entirely unconditional. That he knew such great kung fu. To make Wai into a justifiable fearless kung fu hero would be to take away the entire magic of the character; that this man was so despicable and disgusting who used his cunning wit to save the day but still we like him.
The Relationship between Hong Hei and Siu Bo
Siu Bo's relationship with the Emperor was a bit weird in DOMD 2000. No build up as to his friendship with the Emperor. It was all much too fast. No growing up and maturing with the Emperor. It was always "Siu Bo, do this...Siu Bo do that" and off Siu Bo went, almost too fast and too eager. I admit there were some scenes where the Emperor treated Siu Bo well, in fact calling him his only trusted friend, which you would understand why Siu Bo would die for the Emperor. But compared to DOMD 1998, something was seriously fake and contrived about their friendship.
In DOMD 1998, the best were the portrayal of the relationship between the young Emperor (Steven Ma) and Wai Siu Bo (Jordan Chan). In there you could really feel their unconditional trust and friendship for each other and when they fought you will feel heartsick for them. In DOMD 2000, there were scenes where when Patrick was not happy he would just slap Dicky. "Slap slap slap",and then they were still genuine friends? There were also plenty of times that Patrick reminded Dicky that he was the Master and Dicky the servant. There were many moments you have this feeling that if you were Wai Siu Bo you would feel like a servant rather than a friend to this man who could decide whether you live or die.
In DOMD 1998, it was a very different relationship. I can't remember Steven slapping or raising his voice towards Jordan when he felt like it. In fact DOMD 1998 had something that this version seriously lacked; Wai teaching the Emperor on how to enjoy life. We all know what a boring life that a young Emperor would have, and when he met Wai, who was of the same age (in the book, I was told both were 13 years old when they first met), Wai being the street smart one, the Emperor in a way learned how to be cunning from Wai. How Jordan taught Steven how to swear, take away all the pretentiousness and just squat and discuss politics. I find their portrayal of the friendship much more sincere and genuine than that of DOMD 2000. I loved the scenes where Steven would playfully scold Jordan for not learning how to read or write. These scenes showed the closeness between them two. So it was very believable for the Emperor to be genuinely hurt when he found out of Wai's triple identities and felt betrayed as well. But he forgave Wai and even went personally to ask Jordan to come home. Until the very last scene where Steven thought Jordan had given away the location of the treasures of the Qing Dynasty, where they fought and Jordan for once screamed at the Emperor and felt hurt that the Emperor believed his set up for the members of the Rebel gang. Sometimes in Jordan's version I had this feeling that Wai Siu Bo felt more for the Emperor than for his sifu/rebel gang. He cared nothing for the cause. He was never political. And you could understand why Jordan would die for the Emperor because he was a prostitute's son, nobody respected him but this Emperor sought his advise, called him his friend, shook hands with him, shared secrets with him, would listen to him, talked to him in a very respective tones, let Wai take bribe monies; for once Jordan had someone of a higher position giving him respect and trusted him with important missions. In DOMD 2000, I couldn't see those scenes except for once or twice where all of a sudden the Emperor called him his friend. Something seemed contrived an forced with the relationship in DOMD 2000.
But one common thing about both versions and very real fact. Both had no friends in the beginning. In a way you would understand why Wai would die for the Emperor and went through great lengths to save him and even his kingdom. And the Emperor loved Wai for the very same reasons as well. In life it will be impossible to find genuine friends who are loyal and trustworthy. Wai loved the Emperor simply because everytime he did something really wrong, Hong Hei maybe mad and angry but he will always forgive Wai. And Emperor loved Wai because even if the Emperor went to the extreme, Wai was always there for him. In the end, in their eyes, they are not Emperor and Servant but Siu Yuen Tzi and Siu Kwai Tzi.
The Characterisation of the Emperor Hong Hei.
In DOMD 1998, the Emperor started out as naive, young and intimidated by Ao Bai. Then he grew up to be a mature Emperor. Though I admit that version seriously lacked a ruthless conniving Emperor which we could all see in DOMD 2000. In one scene that DOMD 2000 did not have, but in Jordan's version was to me a pivotal scene in the story of their friendship, Jordan wanted to see the Emperor and the Emperor simply dismissed him and went back to his study table to work, and his face was all serious business. Then Jordan narrated that he realised at that moment that his best friend had grown up and has stopped being his best friend and was now truly an Emperor. That scene showed the defining moment, when Jordan thought their friendship changed and that Jordan could no longer play buddy-buddy with the Emperor anymore. DOMD 2000 did not have such defining scenes. In fact I thought Patrick looked a bit too mature to play the naive and inexperienced Emperor who grew up to be who he was. His Hong Hei was bit too sinister looking, and it was a great wonder to me how Siu Bo could trust him when he looked like a person you can't quite figure him out. Perhaps that was the real Hong Hei and I would have liked it if such transformation took place at the end of the series. But this seemed to be the case even from the beginning. I didn't like that and I see it as a major flaw in this series. But I loved the ending scenes because that should be how the Emperor be but somehow the starting scenes of the Emperor was not very well written or well acted. And mind you, Wai Siu Bo is defined by his love for his wives and his devotion to the Emperor, and lacking the latter part could put one big hole in the story.
The Story of Ao Bai
One really big complaint, which was how they dealt with the story of Ao Bai.
Stupid stupid stupid!
IN DOMD 1998, that Ao Bai may not be scary, and he was power crazy wanting to be King and was therefore arrogant because he thought he was the one who gave the Manchurians their Kingdom, therefore he had little respect for the young Emperor, though he was still wary of the Emperor. Scenes as to how the Emperor played by Ao Bai's rules were nicely shown, and it showed how shrewd the young Emperor could be. And quite a classic scene how Ao Bai was damn rude to the Emperor, and the Emperor backing further and further away because he feared Ao Bai and then Jordan leapt to the Emperor's defense by scolding Ao Bai, which was then that Jordan realised he was the Emperor and it was also the start of a wonderful friendship. This important scene could also be seen in DOMD 2000, and was what I termed as The Ultimate Classic Scene. Anyway, the Ao Bai in DOMD 2000 was plain mad as in insane. When he knew the Emperor wanted to poison him, he flew into a rage and wanted to kill him for being ungrateful. All we had was one mad dissatisfied Ao Bai. But what about him wanting to be the Emperor? How about his plot to take over the Kingdom? These were dealt with intelligently in DOMD 1998 but in DOMD 2000, it was dealt with so stupidly I don't even know how to describe how stupid it was.
The occupation of Madam Wai (Wai's Mother)
In DOMD 2000 Mdm Wai was not a prostitute but some sort of an entertainer. In DOMD 1998 and in the book, she was a low class prostitute in a brothel and Wai didn't even know who his father was, more so having 7 fathers!
The Character Missing In Action
And I was thinking which character was struck off in favour of the use