"On the whole, this is definitely a series I recommend, but not if you only like light hearted stuff because this definitely is not in that category."
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
For Mo Wong Sah
Number of Episodes
Bowie Lam Bo Yee – Yim Man Hei
Moses Chan Ho – Sung Dong Sing
Ada Choi Siu Fun – Jiu Yuk
Gigi Lai Ji – Gai Ming Fung
Charmaine Sheh Si Man – Ga Chun Fun
Maggie Shiu Mei Kei – Long Yuet
Kenny Wong Dak Bun – Sung Dong Yeung
Chan Hung Lit – Mao To
Chung King Fai – Yim Kwok Yip
Helen Ma Hoi Lun – Gwai Laan
Catherine Chow Ka Yee – Mao Siu Kam
Vince Wong Yin Ji – Yim Man Tin
Rebecca Chan Sau Ju – Yim Siu Hung
Set in the early-mid nineteen hundreds, Yim Ga Po is a small village in China, ruled by the Yim family (mainly Yim Man Hei (Bowie)). The Sung family also occupies the village, and they are essentially viewed by the Yim family as lazy and useless – but because the Yim family was aided by the Sung family many generations ago, the Yim family is bound by their ancestor’s wishes to always live in peace with the Sung family.
The plot is long and intricate, with many twists along the way, but the general theme is murder, revenge, climbing up the ladder of power, etc. The relationships between characters is just as complex as the plot, and so often you’re left wondering whether one character hates another or in actual fact loves them.
Much of the cast were also in War and Beauty, and comparisons were made even before filming began. The notable additions to Dance of Passion were Ada Choi and Maggie Shiu, and the absentees were Sheren Teng and Maggie Cheung HY. Personally, I really enjoyed Dance of Passion, more so than War and Beauty, although the latter achieved much higher ratings.
Acting / Characters
Yim Man Hei / Bowie Lam
At first you hate the Man Hei, and then as you watch further into the series, you almost feel bad for him because he tries so hard to help out Jiu Yuk out of the guilt of killing her son. The change seemed almost too fast – to go from a brutal heartless man to a caring and understanding one in such a short time. Bowie has always been a steady actor, and rarely will you see him give a bad performance. This was no exception – but it was rather unspectacular. Perhaps having seen him portraying this type of character before, his performance just comes as nothing really special.
Sung Dong Sing / Moses Chan
I found Dong Sing to be quite irritating on the whole. It was so often that he was stubborn and selfish, which caused trouble for those around him. He had heaps of chemistry with Charmaine, but their whole relationship just seemed so cliché that it just didn’t really manage to grab my attention. As a person, Moses seems like a really nice guy and I quite like watching him, but there’s something about the way he pronounces his words that sounds really unnatural. It’s almost as if he’s being over-careful with his pronunciation to make sure every word is clear, and it just ends up sounding weird.
Jiu Yuk / Ada Choi
Jiu Yuk was definitely one of my favourite characters. She had so many different faces, yet you could still see where her motives were for each one. She lived her life for her son, and after he was gone, she just felt like she had nothing left (although that child’s lack of acting ability made it hard for me to like him much). A very intelligent woman, she was quite cunning, but you could almost feel sorry for her because she hadn’t had a comfortable life at all. Ada would definitely not have been my first choice of casting, and I was very surprised when I first heard that she was cast as such a mature character. I had doubts that she could pull it off, but I thought she did a fabulous job. She gave off a very strong air of authority, and the way that she delivered her lines sounded suitably calm and steady. Unlike Charmaine who has played similar types of characters to Chun Fun in other series, I’ve never seen Ada as a character like Jiu Yuk, so it really made it a fresh experience.
Gai Ming Fung / Gigi Lai
Another character I found irritating. She was so stubborn in her ways, and her “friendship” with Chun Fun (Charmaine) seemed to revolve around Ming Fung telling Chun Fun how to live her life. Ming Fung always thought that Chun Fun was hard done by, but if Chun Fun was happy to live that way for the sake of causing no trouble, why didn’t Ming Fung just let her be? She seemed to think that being outspoken automatically made her correct, and biting your tongue in any situation meant weakness, even if that were really the appropriate action to be taken. She did learn to bite her tongue in the end, which was good, but it still didn’t make the character likeable for me. I’ve never particularly liked Gigi, but she was good as Ming Fung, she seemed very comfortable. Too bad I just hated the character too much to really enjoy the performance.
Ga Chun Fun / Charmaine Sheh
Most of the characters that Charmaine has portrayed in her career must be the same as Chun Fun. It is nothing new, it is nothing special. Chun Fun was timid and sweet, and written to be likeable. Charmaine was sweet, but it’s been done many times before so it wasn’t too exciting.
Long Yuet / Maggie Shiu
Long Yuet was another one of my favourites. She started out as a quiet, loving wife, and gradually (or maybe not so gradually) turned to the dark side. Her first evil deed was the killing of Gwai Lan (Helen Ma), which was to protect her beloved husband from finding out what his father was really like. And afterward, when she confessed to Jiu Yuk (Ada), she was crying uncontrollably and seemed very remorseful. After that, she seemed to go evil again and it just got worse and worse, until her very end. Which was so incredibly anti-climatic, and did no justice to her character. Maggie was very believable as the quiet wife, and she was believably mean as the demanding wife towards the end. Her crying scenes were fabulous and as always, she acts out so much with her eyes. I was surprised she was cast as a character that was meant to be kind of young, but she sure looks the part so it wasn’t a problem. She had heaps of chemistry with Kenny too.
Sung Dong Yeung / Kenny Wong
Dong Yeung’s stupidity could be so grating, but he was just a man who wanted a simple life and couldn’t understand all the politics behind everything. You had to feel sorry for him when he was being lied to or used, but his drinking and everything at the end was pretty stupid. Kenny is an actor I’ve always liked watching, despite only getting small roles in past series. I was very surprised to see his name in such a strong cast, and the opportunity has obviously done him a world of good considering how much more exposure he’s had since the series aired. I’m looking forward to seeing more screen time for him in the future.
These characters may not have had much screen time, and the actors are unlikely to have a huge fan base, but I thought it’d be appropriate to write about them anyway, and individually too, because they were all pretty good and very integral to the series.
Mao To / Chan Hung Lit
Chan Hung Lit was dressed so differently that he was almost unrecognizable – until you heard him speak. Mao To wasn’t a particularly exciting character, but I don’t think he was supposed to be. He did serve as somebody who Dong Sing (Moses) could talk to, and somebody who would give him advice, of which he rarely seemed to listen to.
Yim Kwok Yip / Chung King Fai
Not much screen time, but enough to make his presence felt. He matched Bowie quite well as father and son. Maybe because of his theatre background, Chung King Fai just speaks in a way that seems uncomfortable on television. The pauses are too long, and in odd places. It’s even stranger in modern series though.
Gwai Lan / Helen Ma
She was good as Gwai Lan, but I was surprised she got nailed so early in the series. I think it may have been around episode 9, so it wasn’t even a third of the way through. Anyway, she served as the evil influence early on, but when she resigned to forgetting revenge and resting, she got rested for good which I suppose was karma.
Mao Siu Kam / Catherine Chow
Siu Kam wasn’t likeable at all, but Catherine Chow was good. I applaud her for playing an “ugly” character too. I’d never noticed Catherine before, but since watching DOP, I’ve noticed her in quite a few older series.
Yim Man Tin / Vince Wong
Not a difficult character to play, so Vince did well, and he most definitely looked the part too. Yim Man Tin was a nice, helpful, quiet, but cowardly man, however he was likeable enough.
Yim Siu Hung / Rebecca Chan
Yim Siu Hung was the auntie of Man Hei (Bowie), meaning his father’s sister. His father had pushed her down the stairs, causing Siu Hung to spend her life in a wheel chair as a vegetable. Rebecca Chan has usually had bigger parts in series, and even if she was just a guest character, she’d have plenty of lines. I kept expecting her to suddenly start moving and talking, and it just never happened. Her facial expressions were good, but other than that she didn’t do anything else, literally.
Bowie and Ada
They didn’t get the joint storyline until nearer the end, and by then, Ada was trying to get revenge for her son’s death. The very end part where they’re about to be punished and they run away, is very touching. They matched quite well, despite never being a total ‘couple’.
Bowie and Gigi
Maybe because I found her character to be so cold, I never really felt the passion between these two. It was acceptable, but I wasn’t moved.
Moses and Charmaine
Great chemistry, but clichéd romance. They go together well, and you can feel the love.
Maggie and Kenny
They were lovely. You could feel how caring they were towards each other at the beginning, and when he found out she was pregnant, he drank himself to a stupor which was silly, but it meant he kind of felt he had let her down over the whole impotence thing. The ending was sweet, how he dreamt about their happier times together.
Gigi and Charmaine
Again, it was hard to feel the friendship with Gigi’s character there. It was nice to see that not everybody was trying to kill everybody else though.
Moses and Kenny
They were really good together, two rough boys who were the best of friends. I found their friendship much more genuine than the one shared between Gigi and Charmaine’s characters.
I liked it. Despite a lot of people saying it spoilt the whole thing, I thought it was appropriate. Despite my favourite characters all dying, the way that Jiu Yuk (Ada) had sacrificed herself was really effective, especially when Bowie (and the viewers) all thought that Ada came out of it alive and was caring for Bowie. I thought the very very end was unnecessary though – the part where the older Chun Fun walks through Yim Ga Po and sees all the other characters, back when they were living happily. It was great to finish with seeing my favourites alive again though.
I didn’t like the ending for Maggie and Kenny’s characters. It was just so anti-climatic, so nothing. Especially Kenny, who burnt his field and told Moses that he was going to keep going forward, run and keep running…and then he just ran away. And that was it. And it was a whole 3 episodes from the finale too.
I’m not a fan of Bowie’s singing, but the song did grow on me. I particularly like how it starts off as a three beat tune, and then goes off into a four beat when it gets more dramatic. The sub theme by Charmaine grew on me too, although I still don’t like her voice. The song itself is very lovely though.
I really enjoyed this series, despite there seeming to be quite a lot of negativity from viewers. It didn’t live up to the expectations that was placed onto it, which I thought were too high anyway. The plot got a little too complex in the middle, but other than that, I thought it flowed quite well. There were people complaining about it being too “yellow” – I don’t see why. It was set in a desert landscape, were they expecting it to be pink? The color went well with the atmosphere. On the whole, this is definitely a series I’d recommend, but not if you only like light hearted stuff because this definitely isn’t in that category.