"All in all I find his (Evergreen Mak) performance superb and very satisfactory. This man can lead a series."
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
I didn't quite understand why To Love With No Regrets for what is essentially a comedy? Of course I was wrong. This isn't a comedy and in the end, after watching the final episode I understood the meaning of the English title. Almost everybody in here would have gone through a phase in their love life that would have ended with the title, to love with no regrets, especially towards the main pair. Quite an apt title.
I am not quite sure of some of the names in here. If there is any mistake, do post it in this review and I'll rectify them immediately.
Evergreen Mak - Mak Sau Seng
Chan Hoi-Yee - Mak Sau Chu
Amy Kwok - Kam Yoke
Bosco Wong - Luk Man Dau
Annie Man - Luk Chin
Sherming Yiu - Luk Fun
Power Chan - Cheng Sin
Wayne Lai - Yu Gu
Lok Ying Kwan
Like the catchy tagline when promoting this series on ASTRO, the narrator said this series is about a woman who married the wrong husband and a man who wrongly sought revenge against another. That itself is very intriguing to me.
For the purpose of the plot, I shall use the names of the actors.
It is set during the Man Chor period in a town called Dai Leung. There is a rich family called the Luks who has a very successful soy sauce factory/company, selling their famous soy sauce. The family consists of an old grandmother (Har Ping), an ailing father (Lok Ying Kwan), one eldest daughter (Sherming) married to another far far away, second unmarried daughter (Annie) and a youngest son spoilt by all (Bosco) who married someone much older than he was (Amy) because when he was young, his mother died and he refused to eat and only a young Amy who was a servant girl in the Luk family after being rescued by Lok from being sold to a prostitution den who managed to get the baby Bosco to eat. So after consulting a fortune teller who said by young Bosco being married, only then he will grow up healthy and strong and so Amy married Bosco and took care of him since young. Earlier on in the eyes of everybody except for Lok, Amy was just a servant girl though she wasn't really mistreated by Bosco.
Bosco grew up and this series began when he was 16 with the most ridiculous hairdo in TV history. Everybody spoilt him and he was indeed a spoilt brat. Annie wanted to get married as she always thought herself as the prettiest and so why shouldn't she hope to marry someone of a certain stature? One man came and proposed, she was very happy, but Bosco found out that man was diseased and wanted to marry fast. On the day of her wedding he made a big hoo-haa and that in turn caused Lok to have a heart attack and died. Before he died he left the keys and management of the household to Amy until Bosco was mature enough to take over. Amy reluctantly took over. But Bosco didn't think he caused his father's death of course.
Amy really wanted to teach Bosco to be a fine young man and she found a teacher in the form of Evergreen who knew English, who genuinely loved to teach and who is strong in intergrity and value. But Evergreen was prejudiced against Bosco and thought Bosco burned down his school and so he refused to teach. But when he was forced to do so for money, Bosco refused his teachings, but wanted to learn Kung Fu from him whom he thought Evergreen was a kung fu master. When he knew he wasn't, Bosco was less than polite to his teacher. And when Evergreen's best friend, Wayne was beaten up by some people asking him to repay some loan he took on behalf of a woman he loved, Evergreen was forced to sell himself to Bosco as a servant until he could repay I think $3,000-00. Wayne also asked to work at the soy sauce company. From thereon Bosco was exceedingly rude and obnoxious to Evergreen but Evergreen, spurred by Amy's very polite treatment towards him and his desire to teach Bosco, endured it all.
That is until his mother came to visit him and he found out from his mother than Bosco's father, Lok killed his father many years before. The story was like this; Lok and Evergreen's father were partners in developing some special soy sauce and Evergreen's mother accused Lok of killing Evergreen's father when they boy created a special sauce that was honoured by the Emperor himself and took credit for himself. During this time, Evergreen's mother was forced to sell her only young daughter to be a maid and Evergreen blamed the Luks for it. The baby girl grew up to be Chan who was very attached to Amy as Amy was the one who cared for her and raised her. And Chan was very much in love with Bosco.
Bosco of course didn't believe the thing about his father killing Evergreen's father, neither did I actually. Anyway, Evergreen was consumed with hatred and he thought Lok Soy Sauce should be Mak Soy Sauce and so with Wayne, he planned his revenge to take over the company and household by setting a trap for Bosco. Bosco then met this Chinese kung fu master cum boxer cum changing masks sifu and Bosco wanted this man to be his sifu. After much cajoling, he succeeded and listened to this sifu who encouraged him to develop special soy sauce. So Bosco went about screwing the business by creating a banana flavoured soy sauce, amongst others but was met with severe objection from the loyal manager of the company, Power. Power was the one with a clear mind to refuse his soy sauce and Bosco was thinking of way to get it done. Then Evergreen plotted to get rid of Power, thinking Power was secretly in love with Sherming, whose husband had died and she returned from her in laws, pretending to be rich when in actual fact, she had no money, her in laws mistreated her and she developed a gambling habit to drown out her sadness than 7 years before when she was getting married, Power, the man she loved never came and rescue her, thinking he was a coward back then. In fact the whole family thought Power was in love with Sherming and rumours has it he fainted on the day she married, which explains why he never came to rescue her. So Evergreen thought to unite these two lovebirds and force Power to take Sherming to run away. They did this by deliberately insinuating to the old grandmother that Power and Annie were in love, and this is because Annie was already interested in Power and she didn't know about Sherming's feelings for Annie. The old grandmother forced Power to marry Annie but Power refused and he ran away.
Evergreen thought he ran away with Sherming, but Annie stopped Power and we discover he ran away alone and Sherming was nowhere to be seen. Annie saw Power's diary and found out who Power was actually in love with, which caused Evergreen to feel much regret for hurting Power, but Power went away understanding that his love for the woman he loved will never be reciprocated. With Power gone, Bosco went about with hs special soy sauce and even found a big business in the form of a westerner. Old grandmother was so happy that Amy was ordered to handover the keys to Bosco.
Then on that day Evergreen revealed the awful truth about the English languaged contract that Bosco signed, where Bosco effectively signed away his entire fortune, company and house to Evergreen and it was binding. Bosco's much respected kung fu teacher turned out to be Wayne's opium addicted uncle. It was a trap set a long long time ago.
Bosco and entire family was forced out of the house after Evergreen explained why he did what he did. Chan didn't want to leave Amy but since she found her brother, she had to stay. The business changed names and Bosco blamed himself. When Annie and Sherming planned to run away with what little money they had, which Amy wanted to use to open a restaurant after a chance meeting with a former royal chef and learning from this chef, Bosco didn't stop them because he realised he was such a bastard to his sisters. Annie ran away but Sherming couldn't do it when she realised Bosco felt he was wrong and ran home.
But for a family who had so little, they united in the face of hardship and Amy's restaurant did very well. What Amy didn't know was Evergreen was the one who gave the money to the old royal chef, found them a place to live and was secretly helping them. Although he hated Bosco and Lok, he actually respected Amy who treated him with the same respect. Amy of course was angry with him but not for long.
When things settled down and Bosco was secretly dating Chan to the approval of Evergreen, the company faced stiff competition from a rival soy sauce company, Ting Fung, this time managed by a much weary looking Power who was now engaged to the Ting Fung's boss' only daughter, Bosco not wanting to see his father's effort going down the drain proposed to Evergreen to work together to come up with a new soy sauce and they even moved into the old house and worked together.
But during these times, Annie set her eyes on Evergreen though Wayne was crazy about her. When Evergreen rejected her, she wanted to find out why she was being rejected though without much success. At the same time Bosco's relationship with Evergreen was getting much better and Wayne even encouraged Bosco to marry Chan, but making sure Chan's mother would force Bosco to divorce Amy first, so that Evergreen can rightfully marry Amy, as at this point Evergreen was in love with Amy and Amy was avoiding Evergreen like a plague. Bosco flat out refused, thinking this would dishonour Amy.
But when everything came to an ultimate climax when Evergreen found success as a businessman and was appointed as the Education Minister of Dai Leung which has been his lifelong dream, Annie found out about Evergreen's love letter to Amy, who by this time realised she was in love with Evergreen too. She exposed Evergreen in front of the media but instead of criticisms, the media applauded Evergreen's advanced new thinking about relationships, and he even got the blessing of the old grandmother, Sherming and after a while Bosco himself. But when Bosco was about to sign the divorce papers, Evergreen found out who actually killed his father and Bosco overheard this. Explaining to Amy what he was going to do, Bosco did a gamble. He said to Evergreen he will sign the papers if Evergreen returns all the Luks' assets to Bosco. When Evergreen took some time to think about it, Amy very disappointed ran away and decided to leave Dai Leung for a change in scenery. Bosco agreed and Bosco gave her the divorce papers and his blessings. But Bosco still wanted to expose Evergreen because he wanted to restore his father's good name. And then Evergreen appeared in front of the media and public and Evergreen confessed the truth, much to the approval of Wayne and Bosco.
But by then, Amy has already left, leaving Evergreen a note ....
The Ending Revealed
There are many things I didn't reveal, for obvious reasons. But some will be revealed in my comments.
I can reveal though the ending will be 7 years later in Hong Kong but it was an apt ending that will bring a smile to your face, although at first you will say "What? Like this ah? Aiyahhhh, give me more larrrr...". That was how I felt, but in retrospect I can't think of a more romantic ending when Evergreen, much older met with Amy, more modern looking whose voice was a bit choking because her eyes was a bit teary eyed and Evergreen said to her "What I missed most was your cooking..." and Amy simply nodded and they were still a few metres apart (as they always were in this series) and what was said was said and that was THE END.
So that you know Wayne ended up with Annie and they had a son. Their love story was not told most of the time but I shall explain later how Annie could have fallen for Wayne. Power married Sherming, both had a son and a successful business in USA selling bottles. Bosco married Chan, both had a son. Only Amy didn't have one because she was waiting for Evergreen. Wayne's father became a monk and the old grandmother and Evergreen's mother became very good friends. Even to the end Evergreen's mother never knew how her husband died, as Evergreen chose to reveal that his father died of an accident, and decided not to reveal the actual killer who actually killed his father by accident and by greed because he knew it wouldn't be right to do so. Bosco's business was moved to Hong Kong and found greater success. Amy became a restaurant owner in Hong Kong and Evergreen became a teacher. Wayne went into business with his uncle in a martial arts school. That's about it.
I fell in love with this series somewhere in the first half of this series, was very tempted to turn my back on it because I thought I was getting nothing from this "relationship" only to stick by it and was rewarded with an experience I have rarely felt these few years watching TVB series. That a series that can touch my heart, make me smile, make me ponder the possibilities, make me hoped for more and yet was very glad that it ended the way it did, because if not it would be far too perfect.
This series is not perfect. There are holes in the plot, it takes a whole lot to accept the illogical part of it than to stomach the logical parts. For example,
1. how simple it was to cheat Ah Dau his entire assets
2. why Sau Seng had to search for Kam Yoke for 7 long years when he could have simply just write to Ah Dau and ask, since Kam Yoke must have stayed in touch with Ah Dau
3. what was written in Kam Yoke's last letter to Sau Seng that made him smile and ran to find her
4. how come 7 years later Ah Dau still had the same hairstyle
5. how could Cheng Sin returned to Dai Leung in such a vengeful spirit when when he left he was rather poetic about it all
6. how could Chin Chin at last marry Yu Gu when never had she express any interest in him (this I can answer actually, later in my review)
7. why does everybody speak with a funny accent
These are questions that may nag you all the way towards the end and if you can just push that all aside, believe you me, this is one series that you could possibly fall in love with.
There are many reasons why I said that. Should I count the ways how much I love thee? I think I should.
The interesting plot
It would be darn boring if this series ended with Ah Dau falling for Kam Yoke. It could never happen because let's face it, she must have wiped his bottom when he was a kid. Kam Yoke to Ah Dau is like a big sister, she dotes on him, she mothers him and to Kam Yoke, Ah Dau is like a brother, a family eventhough in the back of her mind she is always reminded she is also a mere servant due to her unsual status. This series deals with the plot that we always see but never really highlighted much; that of a time where a young girl is married off to a younger boy to take care of him. There are many small significant scenes in this series which shows how sad Kam Yoke's life could be if she could never be free to pursue her real love. For one, in one scene Kam Yoke herself acknowledges that Ah Dau will marry Sau Chu, they will have children, and their children will have children whilst she will be childless and all alone. Of course she would be respected, and honoured but for a woman to have no child and husband to call her own, it would be a pretty lonely life. Kam Yoke was ready to embrace that life until towards the end she saw in Sau Seng someone she could spend the rest of her life with. But she can't make a move until Ah Dau divorces her and Sau Seng could not make a move either because he is a man of principle, a teacher who values above all integrity, the Confucious teaching if I may add. That is probably the entire basis of this series. It may look like a younger man marrying an older woman plot who fell for another man, but in actual fact this series deals with the many facets of relationships and the old way of thinking. People's inability to see beyond what their eyes perceive and see with their hearts. People's inability to let go of hatred to embrace forgiveness (or I should say people's ability to forgive and forget but inability to let go of material wants), people's ability to sacrifice for love and seek true love. This series is actually to me a series about love, people's attitude towards it. It is not just love in the restrictive sense, it is also a love that encompass familial love, friendship, respect. This series has it all, and it comes in a very poetic package thanks to 2 main characters who are very poetic in nature.
Interesting romantic moments
From the start to the end, I really liked the character of Cheng Sin. I find him poetic, melancholy for reasons you will find out towards the middle of this series and his confession of love for Fun towards the end, that will have you probably shed a tear or two. I am never a die hard romantic but when Cheng Sin realised all these years how Fun had never left his side, he tearfully said; "You were always there for me, but I never noticed. You always thought of my welfare, but I never noticed. You gave me a jade, and I carelessly put it away and I never knew who took it. You have always cared for me, but I never noticed... if I had know before what I know now, I would never have let you marry". It was quite romantic if you ask me. Just a scene before Cheng Sin was sitting alone and suddenly he remembered Fun when she was younger always running towards him eagerly and even gave him a jade which he didn't think twice of it and Cheng Sin tearfully scolded him; "You heartless cad!". But the one that got to me, which was romantic and yet so sad was when Chin exposed who Cheng Sin really loved in the beginning, and I won't tell you who because I think you can guess. And he sat down with the diary in his hand and he told Sau Seng and Yu Gu, "I thought I could grow old with my dreams written in this diary as my companion, knowing that I love her eventhough she will never feel the same for me was more than enough...but it was never meant to be" and he burnt the diary. Oh I was like "Oh nooooo! Cheng Sinnnn!!" Sad but romantic.
There are more romantic moments, like Sau Seng confessing his love for Kam Yoke. If you notice, they're always a few centimetres apart, never hugged from what I could remember but every word and every stare, you could feel there is a connection between them though Kam Yoke didn't quite notice it at first. Like when Sau Seng said to her, "I don't care for how long, I will wait", something to that effect. Like when she saw him amongst the tang lungs, both smiling those lovely gentle smiles. Like Kam Yoke lowering her head and quietly but smilingly said; "I will leave it all to fate" as a sign of her acceptance of his love, or like in the end when they met each other again 7 years later, Sau Seng simply said "I missed your cooking" and she smiled with tears brimming in her eyes. Always the details, never the big actions that will move me actually.
Even Yu Gu had his moment, in a dramatic way. For example, he knew Chin Chin had her eyes set on Sau Seng, but he also knew Sau Seng's heart was set on Kam Yoke. But he still advised her to be more ladylike, helping her in the tiniest way to change her persona, and he did it because he loved her eventhough she is one vindictive woman. Or towards the end when he told her to run away when she was being pursued by police for putting constipation medicine into the Maks Soy Sauce (as she was paid to do so by rival Ting Fung and she was desperate for money after being almost disowned by her own grandmother for exposing the love affair of Kam Yoke and Sau Seng and making their love affair sound so sordid when it was all very innocent) and he bravely blocked the police who kept beating him until for once, Chin thought not of herself but of others and ran back to confess her crime, thus sealing their love affair. It is very easy to understand how Chin could fall for Yu Gu; who wouldn't?
And of course, even the young ones had some hilarious but romantic moments, like Sau Chu's mother insisting Ah Dau to divorce Kam Yoke because she didn't want Sau Chu to be 2nd wife, something Sau Chu didn't mind and Sau Chu loudly said; "It's ok, I will still marry him, I don't need you mother" because it is a fact; Sau Chu never knew her mother anyway so she didn't feel that much for her mother. Or when towards the end Ah Day said to Sau Chu, "I really have nothing much to offer, you may have to suffer being with me" and Sau Chu simply said "It's ok, I have been a servant all my life, I am used to it". If this is not romantic, I don't know what is.
Interesting non-romantic moments
But will definitely tug your heart because of the loyalty and all.
For one, Sau Seng got into the mess he was in earlier because of his loyalty to Yu Gu, which was quite touching but angry also because Yu Gu was absolutely horrible at first.
The relationship between Ah Dau and his father, something akin to Point of No Return actually. There was love and respect of course.
The volatile relationship between Yu Gu and his father. Yu Gu was ashamed of his father's occupation of selling broken steel pots but his father was ashamed at his son's lack of principle and loyalty. But in the end when Yu Gu really helped Sau Seng to run the business, his father looked at his son smiling proudly and his son looked back at his father and said; "Dad why don't you move in with us all?". Relationship mended.
The respectful relationship between Sau Seng and Yu Gu's father who actually took care of Sau Seng and mom after his father died, and later we knew why but more admirable was Sau Seng's readiness to forgive this man he treated like his father.
The volatile, hostile relationship between Sau Seng and Ah Dau which later became a teacher-student relationship. And towards the end, even Sau Seng said to Ah Dau; "You have taught me the greatest lesson I could learn" and Ah Dau said the same thing of Sau Seng before. I especially love this relationship because it shows how Ah Dau grew to be a man he was by what Sau Seng did to him and how Sau Seng was guided back to a life of integrity by Ah Dau's inactions; Ah Dau could have just exposed the truth about the whole revenge business once he knew the truth but he didn't do that. I think in some ways Ah Dau grew to be who Sau Seng was before greed took over Sau Seng and in Ah Dau Sau Seng saw his old self and how much he had sacrificed in his own integrity for fortune which is not really worth it.
The relationship between Kam Yoke and Ah Dau was also particularly touching, more so towards the end where this series has probably the most amicable divorce in the history of TV-dom, where even the ex-husband was running after the trishaw that the ex-wife was in and screaming "Kam Yoke!! If you need money, tell me and I'll send you money!!!". Lovely scene actually.
One last character that ended in a very surprising, in fact shocking way, the old royal chef who helped Sau Seng to give money to Kam Yoke for the business, taught her everything and then quite stylishly if I may add, walked back into his room, wore his old imperial chef robes and took poison and died. This was one character that could not accept the demise of the Qing Dynasty and the fact that he was a nobody now. But still a sad end.
Unlike most recent series, for example Point Of No Return where none of the characters ever really move forward but moved backwards, this series has enough screen time for each and every character to show what they were and how they have become. In fact the pacing in this series is quite remarkable; every character, however small had a chance to shine and to tell their story.
I really like how the character of Yu Gu's uncle evolved to be such a good man towards the end. Beginning he was horrible. But when Sau Seng refused to bail him out from his latest crime and he was all alone with his opium pie (he was an opium addict) and suddenly he cried and threw that pipe away and used a brick and smashed into his head! He fainted and Ah Dau saw him and took him to hospital and even left him some money. He woke up with the money, not knowing who saved him and he went about changing his ways and Sau Seng and Yu Gu accepted him back at last.
I also really like how the character of the grandmother changed. I hated her at first; she was so biased and she loved only Ah Dau and even tried to force Fun to return to her abusive in laws and stated very clearly daughters are not really welcomed in the house and they should be married off fast. She was also very nasty to Kam Yoke, every thing that went wrong, it was Kam Yoke's fault, making her stand in the rain, constantly reminding Kam Yoke she is the servant and Ah Dau is always right. But when poverty hits them, surprisingly this old woman was the first one to come down from her high horse. She was the one who forced everybody to sell their jeweleries to raise fund for the restaurant business, and she was also the first one who objected to Sau Seng's mom's insistence of Ah Dau to divorce Kam Yoke. Towards the end, when Chin was making accusations about Kam Yoke and Sau Seng, she was the one who slapped Chin and said "Useless! You're an embarassment to the Luk family" and openly approve of Sau Seng and Kam Yoke's relationship. 7 years later, this old grandmother looked very stylish if I may add.
Even the character of Fun changed from petty to extra hardworking to defending Kam Yoke and more. She had many romantic moments with Cheng Sin, apart actually but connected through her cooking which you must watch the series to know what I mean. Will definitely tug at your heart and make you go "Awwwww". At least I did.
Kam Yoke didn't change much, but then this character was great to begin with. She is not very ambitious, not very smart, very determined to take care of Ah Dau's interest and even Luk family and never really cared much for herself. She treats everybody with respect, and when Ah Dau was arrested because Sau Seng thought he beat up Yu Gu's uncle, she quietly took a job at Kuala Lumpur to pay for the legal fees. I think that was when the old grandmother realised how great Kam Yoke was. I really like the simplicity of this character and her very simple yes or no attitude towards many problems.
Yu Gu also changed. Disgusting at first, became much better towards the end, but always remained loyal to Sau Seng.
Even Sau Seng went through some changes, nothing dramatic but for someone that we know from the beginning asa dedicated teacher who has values and integrity, it was of course quite dramatic when he can't let go of the Luk fortune and his position as education minister of Dai Leung. But that was only for a few minutes. The next scene, he confessed how he sought revenge wrongly and gallantly gave back to Ah Dau the entire Luk fortune and went teaching all over China whilst looking for Kam Yoke. He was a simple man at the start in his student outfit and in the end he stood before Kam Yoke in the same outfit, older but as simple as he was at the start. To me that is a great ending for this character whose judgment was almost clouded by his greed.
And last but not least, the most dramatic change, Ah Dau. I love his changes for the better. He was horrible at first, in fact the worst there is. You can easily understand why Sau Seng had this prejudice against him but when he lost everything, and he overheard his sisters talking about him (and that was the moment he actually changed for the better) and from thereon how he made mature decisions. He started out as a immature 16 year old kid who doesn't know what's right and what's wrong as he was used to getting his way. But he can be saved because in one scene he saved Sau Chu who was almost raped by I think his friend. In the end you know he's not that bad, he just needs some hard lessons in life and what Sau Seng did actually saved this kid from jerk-dom you know. I applauded when Sau Seng scolded him and explained why he did what he did.
Plenty but I like those scenes of Ah Dau and Kam Yoke, especially towards the end when Ah Dau was a man making wise decisions. Most scenes involving Cheng Sin. But one I really liked was when Sau Seng was alone standing in front of his father's ermmm what do you call those? Name death plague? Anyway he stood there and he said "I don't know what I should do father..." and he was crying. He couldn't let go of his success and yet he knew he lost far more than he gained. So when he confessed everything and said "I may have lost everything, but I regained my integrity", and Ah Dau was clapping, Yu Gu was saying " I have my old friend back!" and then Sau Seng walked to Ah Dau and Ah Dau said "Teacher" and Sau Seng said "I don't deserve to be your teacher, you have taught me life's greatest lesson", and I think Ah Dau replied "You're my teacher", I thought that was the best scene.
Least Favourite scene(s)
Annie Man's scenes. First I do not liker characeter, very mean, very vindictive and changed must too fast. Secondly, I don't like Annie Man.
Most Favourite Character
As mentioned many times, Cheng Sin before he came back a different man. I don't see why the change.
Kam Yoke also. She is actually the only character in here that is consistent in her behaviour and never quite changed actually.
Least Favourite Character
Almost all other characters before they went through life changing stuff, with particular Ah Dau, his grandmother, Yu Gu, the opium addicted uncle and definitely Chin Chin.
But at the end, not taking into account the last 10 minutes of this series, I would say Chin Chin is my least favourite character. She is vindictive, vengeful, treats everybody with the same disdain and is vain and this she is perfect when she is really quite frankly a bitch and a witch. My contempt of her was only matched with my contempt of her grandmother in the earlier scenes who was absolutely horrible to everybody except Ah Dau and in later parts, I really hated Sau Seng's mom. Between Chin Chin and Sau Seng's mom, at one point I hated the mother because she was overbearing in thinking she could treat the Luks like dogs thinking it was justified. But still in the end, I would say Chin. I never liked her.
Plenty. I give it a special category because there are many funny, great moments and elements in this series.
For one, the weird accent that seems to excite my old mother. I don't know why but when she heard them talk like that, that special slang to some words like "Yak fan" (eat rice), everybody above the age of 50 seems very excited.
The themesong. I like it, well sung, good lyrics, not butchered by TVB's own actors. I thought I saw Eric Moo's name credited as the song writer but it was Eric Mo. Yeah, exactly what I thought to. WHO?!
The costume, especially at the beginning worn by Kam Yoke and later one Sau Seng's costumes, very nice. Chin's costume, always pastel colours and often pink are very nice as well, which does not reflect her personality though.
Ah Dau's hair may be horrible but apparently the norm back in those days. Everybody else, as in those who are rich had gelled hair and not one of them looked modern as in coloured to me which gives me an impression this production give attentions to details unlike some other big budget production with a similar storyline.
The women's hair may be weird, like Kam Yoke's and Chin's but actually after a while quite cute. I have no comment on that. But 7 years later when fashion changed, Kam Yoke sported an almost modern look, long straight hair. I thought she looked pretty, if not for the fact that Amy Kwok is way too thin. Everybody else sported very normal hair as well, except for Ah Dau who looked like he will be forever doomed with that bald head except for that patch of hair on top of his head.
The poems, the quotes from other philosopher, etc give this series a very intellectual feel and at times a very romantic but tragically romantic to the point of it being funny at first feel, thanks to essentially 3 love sick characters, all men by the way, Sau Seng (for Kam Yoke), Yu Gu (for Chin Chin) and generally the melancholy depressed looking Cheng Sin. On the girl's side, the romantic one is actually Fun.
Some light hearted moments caused by the misery of others. For one, Chin's ever ongoing quest to find herself a husband, her choice begins at A grade guys to B grades to C grades to any man as long as educated, decent and good. So you see her falling for almost every male character in here, but not really in love with them. She just wants to get married. When she couldn't get the guy she wants, she screws up the guy's life by revealing their innermost secrets. Like Cheng Sin, who simply said no to her and then she almost destroyed him. Then Sau Seng who said no despite Ah Dau trying to help his sister in snatching this guy and she in turn went in front of everybody and said some of the most disgusting stuff about his love letter to Kam Yoke. And guess what? In the end she married the most disgusting man, Yu Gu who has a very bad habit; he likes to dig his nose. But other than that, Yu Gu is actually a loyal friend and a decent man who told Sau Seng after finding out Sau Seng had wrongly sought revenge against the Luks to "confess to Ah Dau, I can't take the guilt anymore!". He doesn't want the riches in the end actually.
The grandmother wanted a grandson and she demanded that Kam Yoke do something about it. At that time Ah Dau was busy playing you know, learning kung fu, doing useless mean stuff. Kam Yoke was like "how am I going to ask him to sleep with me??" and in the end she couldn't do it.
All those references to Ka-la-laam-poor was really really funny. They were talking about Kuala Lumpur of course, and yes it existed already during the timeline of this series.
The battle between Ah Dau and Cheng Sin over control of the soy sauce company. Probably one of the best scenes in this series was when Ah Dau wanted to make his ridiculous special taste soy sauce and he broken a very highly prized soy sauce. Cheng Sin really scolded him, no one dared to before that. Then when encouraged by Sau Seng and Yu Gu to sabotage the soy sauce, Cheng Sin was there waiting with Ah Dau's father's name plague and declared "As long as I am alive, I will never let you destroy this company!". Very good scene.
And last but not least, the greatest element of this series which I feel is the weirdest and yet funny and yet heart warming and yet quite ridiculous and still quite possible is the very strange relationship between Sau Seng and gang and the Luks after he cheated them of their family fortune. You would except Sau Seng to refer to them by their names, which he did when he called Ah Dau but when it comes to the grandmother, Fun, Chin and especially Kam Yoke, Sau Seng, Yu Gu and Sau Chu still called them Big missuss (Kam Yoke) and so on and so forth. Sau Chu still called Ah Dau Master but that is because she felt more for the Luks than the Maks. After a while I kinda realised there is a respect between these two feuding families. Sau Seng and Yu Gu hated Ah Dau, but at the same time they didn't feel that much dislike for the grandmother, Fun and Chin whilst they really liked Kam Yoke. So for the entire series they kept calling them not by name but by their former titles! Even Kam Yoke called Sau Seng teacher when he was the servant and later Luk enemy no. 1. Very complex but interesting relationship. Andit became even stranger and yet funnier when Sau Seng helped the Luks secretly, or rather helped Kam Yoke secretly. When he found out Kam Yoke planned to work at Kuala Lumpur to help pay for the legal fees to defend Ah Dau's case which was brought by Sau Seng, Sau Seng did not want to let go of Ah Dau. He wanted to teach Ah Dau a lesson, so instead of dropping the charges, he actually walked to the police and volunteered to hire a lawyer for Ah Dau and then go to Kuala Lumpur and search for Kam Yoke to bring her back!! Very weird eh? Of course at this point he was already in love with her and he didn't really hate the Luks that much actually. Even Yu Gu felt the same.
Some very good performances, mostly above average performance.
He really behaved and talked like a 16 year old in this series. I didn't like his performance at first, because I thought he was talking and acting in a very restrained way but as the series progressed and as his character evolved to become the mature businessman he was 7 years later, I find his performance exhilirating. I get very excited for the fact that this is one young new talent who can act, but a bit rough on the edges. He still can't be compared to Power Chan or Wayne Lai but you could see he held himself up against the veteran quite well despite his rawness. His performance wasn't perfect. His face was still quite blank most of the times or rather the "Really? Who cares?!" look that at times make him look bored at what was going on. In more emotional scenes he was very restrained when he should have went all out. The way he delivered his lines was also very restrained. I keep saying restrained, and it is hard for me to explain until you just notice how he talks and acts. But I believe given time, more exposure and when he finds himself as an actor, Bosco will definitely open up emotionally and will probably give us memorable performances. Right now, based on this series, he was competent, he delivered but he could have been much much better.
I don't know why, I was very excited to see her, and I think I said this in her first series with TVB since she came back to TVB. Still thin as ever, a little older but basically still the same look. Performance wise, I will be the first to admit I didn't quite like her performance in the first few episodes. I found it too deliberate, with the way she ran, the way she moved her hands, the way she talked that funny accent or funny slang. But it was because I wasn't used to Amy Kwok as a very simple minded, uneducated and someone with no aspiration type of character. After all we all know Amy Kwok is probably the most educated Miss HK, she won because of her Masters if you asked me and married to one of HK's most brilliant actor, Sean Lau. When I got used to it all, I begin to appreciate her acting. It was by far very natural, very consistent, and very memorable performance of an otherwise unmemorable character. Kam Yoke is not exactly a character you will remember because she doesn't do much in this series except to follow instructions. Not much emotional outbursts except for maybe one or two. Not exceedingly cute or beautiful. But Amy Kwok made her memorable, those little stares at Evergreen's Sau Seng, her mannerism very true of a obedient wife, her every sigh at the silly Luks. Kam Yoke earlier didn't talk much so expressions are very important and I find Amy Kwok superb in that department. Her eyes brimming with tears, her very happy smile that makes her quite pretty, etc. I appreciate her attention to the details and her performance is very consistent in this series. No big changes but you could see a change in Kam Yoke who from obedient to taking charge of the Luks to giving way to being much older and wiser. If you ask me, I would say she gave a superb performance.
By the way she shares a very unique and memorable chemistry with Bosco. I understood why fans wanted her Kam Yoke to fall for Bosco's Ah Dau. But it was a sibling type of affection.
I was very surprised at the end of this series, because I realised Bosco was not really the lead in this series. Evergreen Mak shared the same screen time and his character was pivotal to the story. I quite suddenly realised this series was Evergreen's first truly leading role. He always shared secondary roles that was almost the lead but not quite but in here, he was central to the plot. Without him, and if he did badly, the whole series wouldn't work. But it worked. I was very happy to see Evergreen looking very slim and fit. In fact he looked very handsome. It took me about 5 episodes or so to realise he was united with his "yi si hing" (2nd brother), Wayne Lai and this time there was a reversal of role. In JTTW which Evergreen did very well was the stupid one whilst Wayne, who have a career defining performance in JTTW was the smart one albeit the smart aleck one. But in here, Wayne was the stupid one whilst Evergreen the smart one. Small change but took me some time to notice.
Not many liked his performance in here. Is Evergreen a good actor? Competent? I think everybody agrees with good? It is an ongoing debate. Some disliked his performance in JTTW. I know, he was annoying in there, especially when he bursts into tears but his character was like that. In here he was serious, always standing straight, hair impeccably combed, looking every inch like a wise stern teacher he was in this series. He has this ability to morph into being the character he plays without changing his looks or his voice all that much. He just change his expression, or the way he talked. Like Wai Kah Hung, he can play any character, and he can play them all well. Maybe not excellently, but he is a good and competent actor. In my opinion, he gave a solid performance in here, that is memorable, exciting, different and as a person who has always wanted to see good competent secondary actors being given a chance to lead once in a while, I was more than happy to see Evergreen in this role.
I must admit, his chemistry with Wayne and especially Bosco, the obviously much younger actor were better than that of his with Amy. The age difference is clear, and I will add, that Evergreen's performance has a degree of confidence that Bosco was lacking. It boils down to experience actually. But that doesn't mean there was zero chemistry with Amy. I find his scenes with Amy very sweet and towards the end very romantic. They were always poles apart, even till the end but I could feel the intensity his character feels for Amy,and towards the end the concern Amy's character feels for his. It's not obvious because these two never pranced around huggging, kissing, crying, shouting. In fact they were very cordial and polite to one another and yet it's forced in a way because the guy wanted more out of the relationship and the girl realising that and knowing her heart was betraying her common sense tried to move away. It's those little stuff, those type of chemistry that I thought Evergreen paired off well with Amy.
All in all I find his performance superb and very satisfactory. This man can lead a series.
Chan Hoi Yee
I noticed her way way way before in I think Life Before Forty or something like that which starred Alex Fong and Charmaine Sheh. I liked her then and I still liked her in this series. She is so very young and she paired off well with young actors, Bosco for one. She talks like a little girl and indeed she must be playing someone younger than 16 at the start of this series. I find her performance charming, cute, competent and she shows potential. Like Myolie, time and experience may make this young actress a better one.
Older, thinner, not as fresh as she first started out and never quite realised the potential she had and that many reviewers agreed she had. BUT superb performance and paired off really well with Power Chan.
Lately I didn't quite like Annie Man and at first I thought she wasn't believable as the ultimate bitch in this series. I think the casting of Annie Man was deliberate I guess. But I must agree she gave a competent performance with her usual type of performance if you know what I mean. Nothing new but not bad at all. I still don't like her nasal voice.
One of the highlights of this seriees, he gave an above excellent performance of a very melancholy, emotionally restrained man in love with someone he shouldn't have and in the end in love with the enemy's sister. I love his Cheng Sin, the most memorable character in this series because of Power Chan. Glad to know a secondary actor being given a chance to shine in here. Every frown, every smile, every delivery of lines, and his confession of love to Sherming's Fun were all so well acted, I can't find fault in them. You have to see it to believe it. Excellent performance.
Another excellent performance from the always brilliant Wayne Lai. Consistent, paid so much attention to all little details, like his he digs his nose (and you know that is like his character's bad habit, unconcious act), his every expression, the way he walked, the way he talked, he was Yu Gu to the core. Excellent performance and I need not say anything any more. Wayne simply proved himself years and years before he was always brilliant and no amount of evaluation on my part could ever justify my proclamation that he is one of the most brilliant actors from TVB and of our time. A pity he is not of the leading actor type but he gives a certain series credibility.
Above average performance except for Lok Ying Kwan who didn't perform as well as I would have liked him to perform because he didn't fit the character. Moreover Damian Lau did a similar role in Point of No Return way way better so the comparisons, though unfair seems justified.
A must watch.
Questions Asked And Answered
I posted these questions at the beginning, so for completion sake I will try to answer them in here...
How simple it was to cheat Ah Dau his entire assets.
Indeed it was. But that back then corruption was all over the place, legal system not as strong as it is now, it could happen. Of course that agreement Ah Dau signed could not have been valid today and I suspect even back then. Very surprising Ah Dau never went to a lawyer to check his chances of getting back the fortune. We know there are lawyers as Sau Seng later on said he will hire one to defend Ah Dau. Strange and weak point in this series.
Why Sau Seng had to search for Kam Yoke for 7 long years when he could have simply just write to Ah Dau and ask, since Kam Yoke must have stayed in touch with Ah Dau.
No answer for this. I also don't know. Maybe for drama sake? Maybe post office was not very efficient back then so Kam Yoke never wrote to Ah Dau?
What was written in Kam Yoke's last letter to Sau Seng that made him smile and ran to find her?
Ahhh, no answer because this series never revealed at all. Maybe a good bye letter but then why was he smiling? If a confession of love why she had to leave? Hmmmmm anyone can answer this?
How come 7 years later Ah Dau still had the same hairstyle?
Reality check my friends. Bosco can't be expected to grow his hair long or longer in a space of a few days and production can't wait for his hair. He could wear wig. But this proves that TVB series are filmed not in sequence but jump everywhere. Because Bosco could have filmed this scene first before cutting his hair! Ahhhh no planning.
How could Cheng Sin returned to Dai Leung in such a vengeful spirit when when he left he was rather poetic about it all?
I don't know. I must have missed something.
How could Chin Chin at last marry Yu Gu when never had she express any interest in him?
Because the fortune teller kept telling her at the start of this series that if she lowers her standard she expects in her future husband, and she doesn't mind not marrying to not so rich guy, she will have a happy marrige. If she insists, she will never marry. Moreover, Yu Gu sacrificed himself for her. In such a state, tell me where can any woman resist such a man?
Why does everybody speak with a funny accent?
I guess something to do with Dai Leung.
And one final question not included at the start of this review. Where is the villain? Who is the villain?
This series has no villain, not even Sau Seng, not even Chin. There was a fear in me that the writer may make Sau Chu into a villain to compete with Kam Yoke for the affection of Ah Dau. Ahhhh how wrong I was! Because this is not a series about jealousy and fighting to gain attention. This series illustrates the many obstacles a copy face in the name of love and so in the end will get to together because it is the type of love where it is to love with no regrets. So sorry, no villain.