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

Written by Funn Lim

"There are strong realistic dialogues, some very hearfelt scenes and the relationships depicted in this series looks real and draws me into their world and made me actually care. It is one of those rare TVB series that actually has an ending for everyone and you won't be left guessing what happened...Quite simply said, this is a great series."

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Title Deciphered
For the life of me I can't understand why I kept calling this series Beneath The Charm! Even my draft review had that title, my first posting had that title and even then I almost typed that title when I was amending this review. Anyway... english title, The Charm Beneath m is quite a loaded title. Up to your interpretation, it does describe the surface value of various characters in this series which means The Charm Beneath lies hidden the real cruel intentions. In a way. The Chinese title is simpler as in "Yin Ji Sui Fun". I made an often made mistake in assuming it translates to Lipsticks and Foundation. Or you may say it mean Cosmetics, or Make Up. But I was told that "Yin Ji" which Malaysians have always mistakenly used to describe lipstick is actually blusher. So it should be Blushers & Make Ups or Blushers & Cosmetics. Interesting thing to learn even before watching this series. As the title indicates, you can expect heavy duty make up and this series is about a family who owns a cosmetics line. Just imagine Clinique with make up and perfume and even hair gel.

No. Of Episodes
30 which in my humble opinion could have been trimmed to a rather neat 25 episodes.

The list below wouldn't have been complete without the help of Kidd. Thanks for the translated names!

Moses Chan - Chuk Yau Yip
Anne Heung - Sung Wan-sheung
Gigi Lai -Chuk Ming Wai
Cheung Chi Kwong - Lai Kwok Cheung
Mandy Cho - Chuk Ming Man
Tsang Wai Kuen - Chuk Yau Seng
Yoyo Mung -Ng Yee Fong
Oscar Leung Lit Wai - Ng Yee Jing
Ngo Ka Nin - Chuk Yau Pong
Chan Hung Lit - Mr Chuk (Mun San)
Law Lok Lam - Mr Lam Wai Boon
Sharon Chan - Wong Hiu Cheng
Michael Tong - Wong Hiu Fai
Lee Kwok Lun - Chuk Mun Tin, Mr Chuk's younger brother
Kiki Sheung - Ngo Ya-sin, Mr Chuk's younger brother's wife
Mark Kwok Yew Ming - Yuen Wing Wah (aka the lawyer)
Fred Cheng - Ling Tin Long (aka the servant)
Angelina Lo Yuen Yan - Ng Lou Siu Yung
Cecilia Yeung Sze Sze - Lam Suet Yi
Wu Lun Fung - Pui Lap Chi
Lee Ka Ting - Keung

A Note
As you can see, more women than men. A very good reason and it is not what you think. When I first saw Moses Chan, I immediately thought yeah yeah 10 women for 1 man. Then I found out Gigi is Moses' sister and Cheung Chi Kwong plays her husband and that kinda dispelled certain expectations that I have. It was a good surprise actually which makes the casting rather interesting. This is not War & Beauty. This is simply a family drama.

Family drama and struggles. What more do you expect? Tragedy of epic proportion? Nope. Rather intimate look at the Chuk family and the many relatives and cousins and aunts led by partriach Mr Chuk himself.

The Plot
Very difficult to even begin to explain the entire darn plot without first really explaining the relations because everybody who is related to everybody lives in the same house. And I can't help but reveal the entire plot so if you don't want to know, skip this review.

Relationships Explained & Defined
Mr Chuk is the leader who inherited the family cosmetics business from his own father who inherited it from his own father before him.

Mr Chuk has a younger half brother (different mom, same dad), Tin who is married to Sin with an adult son named Yau Pong who spent most of his time overseas studying, funded by his uncle, Mr Chuk.

Mr Chuk himself has 4 children.

Eldest son Yau Seng is the oldest, probably mid 30s and who runs the family business. Unmarried, he later fell for a second rate actress, but Mr Chuk fiercely objected the relationship to very tragic consequences.

Second son is Yau Yip, who is the playful irresponsible son since he does not need to run the business, that is until Yau Seng's untimely death. Unmarried and in his late 20s, he later fell for a second rate actress turn cosmetics seller Hiu Cheng who has a dark secret that eventually almost caused Yau Yip's downfall.

Third child is a daughter, Ming Wai who was married at a very young age to a much older man, Cheung. She is the obedient daughter hungry for love and attention as she felt her father never really loved her and sometimes hates her. She is actually very capable and is level headed when it comes to family matters and to her family comes first. She doesn't love her husband and married him out of duty.

Fourth child is the youngest and spoilt westernized Ming Man.

In the house also lived Mr Chuk's dead wife's sister, Mrs Ng and her 2 adult children, Yee Fong and Yee Jing. A gossip monger, this sister in law spends her days running after Mrs Chuk (as in the younger brother's wife who holds the power in the house where it comes to household decisions) whilst Yee Fong works as store front assistant and Yee Jing the salesman.

And they all live happily under one roof. Well not really.

The Story, basically
Mr Chuk is an elderly man in his late 50s whose wife died many years before. He runs his family based on one principal; family is family. No one betrays or disrespect a family and so hierarchy in the Chuk family reflects the values of the olden days Asians in China; the elders must be respected, irrespective of their attitude, arrogance or blatant favouritism. This is why wife of Tin, Sin holds the household keys and accounts as she is considered the oldest and therefore highest ranked woman in the Chuk family so to speak. Everybody knows she abuses her power and she often insults the family, but never in front of Mr Chuk. Ming Wai couldn't stand her and often got into war of words with her but because Ming Wai's position in the family is considered even lower than the servants as Mr Chuk clearly did not favour her, Mrs Chuk did not pay any attention to Ming Wai. Ming Wai, like Yau Seng is the obedient child. She married because her father said so. She did everything to please her father, hungry for his one praise or for a little of his attention. Mr Chuk clearly favoured Yau Seng who runs the business and to whom he places all hopes on this eldest son considered as able and responsible and who is expected to takeover the business soon. Mr Chuk also dotes on Ming Man. As for Yau Yip, Mr Chuk hardly places any rules on this son since Yau Seng was there. Mr Chuk is also assisted by his own half brother whilst Cheung, the son in law takes care of the accounts. When Yau Pong came home, he became Mr Chuk's assistant as he was able and sensible when it comes to business. However Yau Seng fell in love with a poor second rate actress with a past; she was drugged I think and forced to take some compromising pictures that could ruin her reputation. Mr Chuk didn't like her, Yau Yip because of that didn't say much since he didn't have any say in the family whilst Ming Wai, eager to please her father naturally thinks whatever her father thinks is right. And so Wan-sheung was often ostracised and one after another came to confront her to let go of Yau Seng. But Yau Seng refused, he defied his father, walked out of the family and decided to go to Nanyang with Wan-sheung to start a new life. The day before they got married in a very quiet ceremony attended only by Yau Yip and Yee Fong as the others, expecially Ming Wai did not attend for fear of Mr Chuk. Yau Seng was very disappointed and even got in an argument with Ming Wai and slapped her, thinking she betrayed him by telling her father on Wan-sheung when she didn't. At that point Wan-sheung was pregnant and before they left, Yau Yip came by to say goodbye to Yau Seng and Yau Seng acknowledged he may have been unfair to Ming Wai by slapping her. He was about to walk away when suddenly the shed he was standing under gave way and Wan-sheung worried that Yau Seng was away for a long time witnessed her husband crushed to death. From that moment on she felt it was Yau Yip's fault that Yau Seng died.

And so the story properly began, with the death of Yau Seng. Because with his death, there is not really a successor for the business since Yau Yip knew little of the business. This was the opportunity that Tin was waiting for all his life. As Yau Pong returned, Tin decided to push Yau Pong to takeover the business and plotted to oust not just Yau Yip, but everybody connected with the business.

The problem was Yau Pong was a decent fellow who felt grateful for his uncle's love and attention all these years and his parents knew he would disapprove of any dirty tricks. So whatever they did, they did it behind Yau Pong's back. First by heavily promoting Yau Pong much to Yau Pong's embarassment and then shooting down all of Yau Yip's suggestions for the business making Yau Yip look like an incompetent fool. The uncle also found out Yee Jing was dealing in some illegal business concerning Keng Fa Tong and used this to threaten the siblings to which everytime the uncle disapproves with Yau Yip's idea for business, they too had to agree much to the annoyance of Yau Yip.

Meanwhile, Wan-sheung was taken back home since she was pregnant. She received a chilly reception from Mr Chuk and so Ming Wai bravely put her into the guest room instead of Yau Seng's room. During her pregnancy, she became very depressed and began to have visions of Yau Yip wanting to kill her. Yau Yip and Ming Wai were very concerned for her and tried all they could to help her but Wan-sheung listened only to Yee Fong who became her closest friend in the Chuk family. To lift her spirits Yau Yip and gang dressed her befitting her status and not much later, as Mr Chuk mellowed down, he even enquired about her health to which Tin knew he was beginning to accept Wan-sheung. And so the gossip mongers decided to change their tune and became nice to her. However she gave birth to a daughter and so back to square one for Wan-sheung as Mr Chuk wasn't very happy with a daughter as he was hoping it would be a son.

During which time Yau Yip met and fell desperately in love with an independent cosmetic salesgirl, Hiu Cheng who came from a poor background and was also an actress. Yau Yip at that time didn't feel useful in the family as Yau Pong was very capable and so when scolded by his father for being useless, Yau Yip decided to take that literally. He went to work only when he really had to and spent his days loiteting around. But when he met Hiu Cheng who advised him to work harder, Yau Yip actually began to pay more attention to his work and even created a new Jasmine perfume named Yau Cheng (Yau Yip plus Hiu Cheng) and his father began to have confidence in his, despite the uncle's displeasure. Because Mr Chuk had mellowed down, when Yau Yip insisted on the relationship with Hiu Cheng and with some good words by Ming Wai and family, Hiu Cheng was accepted. And then we discover not all is perfect. Hiu Cheng was actually being used by a hoodlum who wanted to kidnap Yau Yip. Hiu Cheng didn't want to be that pawn anymore and tried very hard to stay away from Yau Yip and Yau Yip with the encouragement of Yee Fong decided to win back Hiu Cheng eventhough he didn't know what he did wrong. During one picnic, Hiu Cheng was asked to lure them there and then Yau Yip and Yee Fong were both kidnapped. Ransom which caused a lot of money was asked, during which time the company was facing financial difficulties as much money were used to pay the loan sharks debt incurred by Cheung, much to the embarassment of Ming Wai. Everybody tried hard to raise money, even the gossipy aunt, except for the uncle and his wife who were both delighted with the prospect of Yau Yip being killed by the kidnapper. They reluctantly pretended to be very giving and gave a few thousand dollars. Yau Pong however was genuinely concerned and tried to help. During this time Mr Chuk realised two things; Wan-sheung was asked to give the ransom money and since it was a dangerous situation she should have been reluctant but she decided to help and she earned Mr Chuk's respect. And then there was Cheung who actually came up with the balance of the ransom sum by finding friends to help and collecting debts and Mr Chuk began to appreciate Cheung's gentleness as a person and valued his help. Money was given, money was taken but back to Yau Yip and Yee Fong who began to question why they were kidnapped, Hiu Cheng couldn't stand it anymore. She knew the kidnapper, Ho Keung will kill them both and so secretly she went to save them. Yau Yip felt betrayed and could find no reason to run but Hiu Cheng and Yee Fong pushed him on and Ho Keung returned and chased after them to the hillside. Ho Keung wanted to kill them all but fell over the cliff and into the sea. Hiu Cheng felt too ashamed to look at Yau Yip and she begged for his forgiveness and she confessed that from the first time they met, it was all a setup, except for really falling for him part. Yau Yip walked away but he did not report Hiu Cheng to the police. Yee Fong too kept quiet about the incident.

However Yau Yip realised he missed Hiu Cheng and whilst he was angry with her he did not doubt that she truly loved him. Yee Fong put in some good words for Hiu Cheng and he decided to forgive Hiu Cheng and start again with her. Hiu Cheng was touched and thought she finally had a second opprtunity. They dated seriously, Yau Yip even proposed and she said yes. Mr Chuk approved of Hiu Cheng who came across as pretty, independent, opinionated, educated and well mWan-sheungred despite her poor background. With Yau Seng's death, Mr Chuk learned never to push his children too hard. Suddenly one day Hiu Cheng told Yau Yip her brother was involved in some law suit and needed some money. Yau Yip asked Mr Chuk who willingly gave the money to help her brother. At the same time he asked his lawyer to try to find the brother and help him all he could. What Mr Chuk found out was there was no brother in some lawsuit. Mr Chuk confronted Hiu Cheng and Hiu Cheng turned ugly and took Mr Chuk's money and left Yau Yip. Yau Yip couldn't believe Hiu Cheng betrayed him again and in a drunken rage, found her running away with a suitcase. He took a knife and wanted to stab her to death but she escaped and he then collapsed and fainted. When he woke, he was in his own room with some blood on his sleeves. It was Cheung who found him and the knife and whilst they didn't believe he killed Hiu Cheng since there was no body there and Hiu Cheng couldn't be found, they did believe he must have hurt her. So Mr Chuk told Cheung to bury the knife and pretended nothing happened. When Yau Yip woke up remembering a little of what happened, Mr Chuk assured him it was just a dream. But Wan-sheung overheard.

Life goes on but Yau Yip became despondent and turned to playing all the time and neglecting work and this affected Mr Chuk's health. Then problems after problems began to surface, especially when Yau Yip willfully threw overboard all the supplies of the Yau Cheng Perfume and Mr Chuk was being sued by another rich shopping complex owner, Mr Lam. The uncle masterminded this and he was delighted. But Mr Lam saw a golden opportunity to make the ties closer and propose that Yau Yip marry his daughter. Mr Chuk asked Yau Yip if he wanted too and Ming Wai advised her brother to follow Mr Chuk's wishes as Mr Chuk was getting older and Yau Yip felt guilty for being so useless. So Yau Yip agreed until he discovered Ms Lim was in love with a poor tailor and she was pregnant. Yau Yip decided to do the gallant thing and called off the wedding. Mr Lim angrily went to scold Mr Chuk who had a heart attack. But Mr Chuk didn't die from this but he became very weak and was hospitalised. Yau Yip who didn't know this ran away from home. Whilst Mr Chuk recuperated in the hospital, Ming Wai faces another crisis.

Before this she always suspected she is not Mr Chuk's daughter since he blow hot and cold when it comes to her. Nasty auntie Mrs Chuk spread rumour that she was a bastard child by dead Mrs Chuk with another man. When Ming Wai scolded Mrs Chuk about this and reminded Mrs Chuk that when she was the head of the household (as Ming Wai became the head now ever since it was discovered Mrs Chuk was part timing as a loan shark to which she was the one who loaned money to Ah Cheung without Cheung knowing) she abused her power, it was Ming Wai who was scolded by Mr Chuk. Tearfully Ming Wai questioned Mr Chuk's love for her but Mr Chuk assured her he trusted her. Then at this point a new young male servant played by Fred Cheng came to work at Chuk household and Ming Wai liked him very much and treated him very well. She even met his mother who sells deserts and it was not before long she discovered she may not be Mr Chuk's daughter as her real mother is this servant's mother who was married before she met Mr Chuk at some brothel. Her husband disappeared whilst in war and she was set to become Mr Chuk's 2nd wife when her husband came back. Torn between Mr Chuk and her love for her husband, she chose her husband and since her husband needed money, she lied to Mr Chuk about something I didn't get and Mr Chuk was very angry. Then she gave birth to a daughter which she gave to Mr Chuk to raise. Mr Chuk doubted if this was his daughter but accepted the child anyway. I have a feeling maybe he thought she lied to him when she gave him Ming Wai and may have suspected Ming Wai may or may not be his child, so he hated this woman and sometimes despises Ming Wai. Anyway whilst Mr Chuk lay in the hospital but in good spirits, he realised many things, who was good to him and who wasn't. He urged Ming Wai to accept her mother but Ming Wai disagrees.

Suddenly one day Mr Chuk was in coma after a massive heart attack and this is thanks to the uncle who basically screamed at Mr Chuk until Mr Chuk had a major heart attack. At the same time the uncle knew Mr Chuk drew up a new will where he gave the business to Uncle but he did not sign it as he hoped Yau Yip would come home. Then he made a new will giving even Ming Wai some shares in the business but this will was not signed as Mr Chuk had a major heart attack by then. Uncle decided to bar anyone from seeing Mr Chuk as for as long he was in coma, uncle holds power in the business. Yau Yip found out about his father and he rushed home but the uncle barred the way. Yau Yip and family rushed through only to see his father for one final time who did not regain conciousness but knew Yau Yip was back. The father died and the Chuk family was thrown into chaos.

Ming Wai was the saddest whilst Yau Yip blamed himself. But he vowed to change for the better no matter what. Unfortanately the will was read and the uncle inherited the business until I can't remember what age where he must transfer to Yau Yip and meanwhile all can stay at the house but will be at the mercy of the evil aunty. The uncle and aunt decided to chase everyone away so first thing they did was to send Yau Pong to some business in other states as they knew Yau Pong would protest their plan. Then they made Ming Wai and Cheung stay in the servants' quarters treating them like pariah. And then the uncle fired Cheung, and even Yi Fong and Yi Jing when they sided with Yau Yip. Yau Yip was forced to become a boy in the business doing the work of a small time janitor whilst enduring verbal abuse by the uncle. But he persevered. And the uncle almost succeeded in his plans by throwing even the gossipy aunty out of the house when Yau Pong came back in time and they had to stopped. Yau Pong overheard his mother said she forged the signature on the will and he was torn between the family and his parents. He wanted to tell but his parents stopped him. Unable to stand the lies anymore, Yau Pong packed up and was leaving the family when his parents tried to stop him. It was in the garden Wan-sheung overheard the truth about the will and when Yau Yip ran out to stop Yau Pong from leaving, Wan-sheung dramatically revealed the truth and Yau Pong had no choice but to reveal the truth. Immediately the evil aunty confessed it was her plan, and the uncle had no choice but to blame the mother. Police were called, evil aunty was arrested and sentenced to a yea in jail but she willingly went in there to safeguard her husband's interest. The uncle thereafter moved out with Yau Pong and plotted the fall of Keng Fa Tong. Yau Pong could not stay in the business for shame and left to work in his real passion, as a reporter. Yau Yip did asked him to return to the business but Yau Pong refused. But Yau Pong was secretly helping Yau Yip with the ads in the papers and one night went to see Yau Yip. The wires in the factory was bad and often the eletricity supply would trip. One time it did and whilst Yau Yip wanted to climb up the stairs to fix the electricity box, Yau Pong stopped him and volunteered. Ming Wai was there when tragedy struck. The wire short circuit, Yau Pong fell down and his head hit some boxed and he died instantly. Yau Yip was wrecked with guilt and the uncle came to the morgue screaming and blaming Yau Yip. The aunt in jail heard the news from the uncle himself and blamed Yau Yip for everything. So the uncle vowed to destroy Yau Yip no matter what.

The uncle then took a godson in the form of the lawyer who was helping him by forging the signature on the will. He was seeing Ming Man but Ming Man dumped him when she realised he helped them. The lawyer then hooked up with Mr Lam's now-crippled daughter (her tailor boyfriend died in a freak accident whilst she survived, the father regretted pushing the daughter into eloping with that boyfriend so naturally he did not object much to this lawyer who was disbarred by the way) hoping to marry her, gain her fortune and then the uncle can benefit by opening another cosmetics business when his first cosmetics business selling foreign products failed.

Meanwhile life goes on in the Chuk family where everybody worked together. Ming Wai was pregnant and Ah Cheung was estatic. Everybody encourages Yau Yip to pursue Yi Fong who clearly likes him but Yau Yip could not forget Hiu Cheng until one day he realise Yi Fong was always there for him, encouraging him and pushes him on. So he decided to give it a try and all was well and happy and perfect and great UNTILLLLLLLLLL....

Suddenly a poor painter called Fai appeared and he was snooping around. Then we know Wan-sheung was up to no good as she led him onto many trails to which Fai accused Yau Yip of killing Hiu Cheng, his sister. But Fai begin to suspect many facts which didn't seem right when suddenly Wan-sheung stabbed him and he knew he has been misled by Wan-sheung all along. And we know what we know all along; yeah yeah Wan-sheung is evil. So he died. All was confused why he died. Ming Man also since she liked him and he died. And worst of all...

one rainy day Yau Yip saw that Hiu Cheng again! Hiu Cheng hid from him until she saw news of her brother dead and she rushed to see Yau Yip. Yau Yip wanted to know why she left and Hiu Cheng explained her story which I shall narrate later. Her face has an ugly scar by the side and she was ashamed of herself and her past for the past few month. She fainted and she was malnourished. Yau Yip was confused and told Wan-sheung who pretended to faint so that Yi Fong will take her to the hospital and see Yau Yip with Hiu Cheng. Yi Fong was jealous but tried not to show it. Yau Yip confessed he loved Yi Fong now but must take care of Hiu Cheng. Hiu Cheng was severely depressed when when her past was revealed, she ran away and wanted to kill herself when Yau Yip stopped her and promised her he will take care of her, overheard by Yi Fong. Yau Yip later apologised to Yi Fong but Yi Fong said she understood, and they will always be good cousins. And Yi Fong wanted to travel a bit and Yau Yip reluctantly agreed. When Wan-sheung happily encouraged Yi Fong to leave, Ming Wai suspected something was not right.

Meanwhile the uncle was betrayed by the godson who contracted a terminal cancer or something and was to die in 3 months. The Uncle in anger took a knife and went to Keng Fa Tong and wanted to kill Yau Yip when Yee Fong jumped onto Yau Yip and was stabbed instead. Yee Fong survived and Hiu Cheng woke up. She realised he no longer loved her like he used to and she happily went away to seek her own identity and she has came to peace with her past.

Anyway, Ming Wai still suspected Wan-sheung. Too many coincidences, like how Wan-sheung led all of them to an apartment of Cheung's English teacher only to see Cheung kinda naked-ish with also a kinda naked-ish English teacher and later how she fought with the teacher and pushed into Ming Wai's way, she fell and lost the baby. When visiting the father's grave, Ming Wai saw how Wan-sheung kicked on the food offerings and cursing the old man. Then Cheung was discovered with a blow on his head and he was in deep coma. Ming Wai began to snoop around Wan-sheung's room and discovered a box full of pills that Wan-sheung didn't take. She confronted Wan-sheung but Wan-sheung tearfully denied it all and the pills all disappeared. Yau Yip was angry with Ming Wai's actions and scolded her and Wan-sheung took this opportunity to drive the wedge between the siblings. This she did by taking over the accounting job of Cheung and Ming Wai angrily scolded Wan-sheung and Yau Yip actually scolded Ming Wai and told her to leave if she was not happy. Ming Wai then took Yau Yip away and said she understood her brother's anger and said she still believed Wan-sheung was the cause of all these problems. She said luckily Cheung woke up so they will all know the truth. Wan-sheung immediately went to the hospital to kill Cheung but out came Yau Yip and Ming Wai stopping her. Wan-sheung quickly rushed home to find her daughter Mei Ting and Yau Yip ordered no one will let her get close to Mei Ting. Yau Yip asked why and Wan-sheung basically poured out her anger and explained her twisted minds and what she did, included what she did to Hiu Cheng. When she was finished, she only had one request before she was to be arrested. She went to Yau Seng and her secret place by the lake to make offerings. She tearfully said to Yau Yip to take good care of Mei Ting and she jumped into the lake. Yau Yip tried to save her but alas, it was too late. She drowned. Yau Yip promised Yau Seng and Wan-sheung that Mei Ting will be loved.

The uncle meanwhile was in jail and the aunt visited him. But what the uncle said shocked her and he thought she was the one in jail. The uncle was crazy and on the way out the aunt saw Ming Wai and Yau Yip. Ming Wai asked the aunt to come home to the family but the aunt felt ashamed of what she did before and said this was retribution. She will spend the rest of her days at the temple praying for Yau Pong and atoning for the uncle's sins.

All the family gathered around Mr Chuk's grave and we hear good news. Yau Yip will marry Yee Fong, business is good, Ming Wai is pregnant again, and with the war against foreigners brewing in China, Ming Man, Yee Jing and Long will join Hiu Cheng in the fight against the foreigners. Yau Yip agreed with their plans and since they have fixed and protected their family, it was time to protect the motherland.


What a long story and still loads more I didn't say. Loads more! Anyway more spoilers in my comments.

My Comments
When I saw Gigi Lai's face, I was really skeptical about this series. I mean after War And Beauty, I could not bear to watch her act ever again. And I hardly knew about this series; I mean did it win awards? How was the ratings? Because between this and War Of The In Laws, the latter seems to be the more famous series, and how much injustice it has caused. I shall be blunt; The Charm Beneath is perhaps the most complete series ever with an ending for every major character instead of some stupid cliffhanger, perhaps the most well acted by actors we don't normally associate with good acting in the drama department and has perhaps the most intriguing storyline that will make you scream with anger and cry with sympathy. It has been a long time I have seen a series that is refreshingly back to the old school of TVB series; where the story actually matters and the storytelling for most part is superb. I can tell you exactly when did this series went downhil and failed; 5 episodes to the ending. I will explain more on this but I will declare, if you missed out on this series for whatever reason, you have missed out on an excellent series. Flawed yes, I mean most TVB series are meaningless flawed series but at least this one has a meaning and it is about unity against all adversity. I can't agree more.

The Storyline Is The Base Of The Series
I always believe a good series begins with a good coherent storyline. All through the years TVB has managed to make heartfelt series on characters but rarely on a story. Sometimes with characters taking precedent in a series, we go with the flow of the characters, the story going along as the characters went along. For once, this series has a basic storyline, about a family and with very well defined characteristics for each character. I do suspect that the writer may have changed or adapted the basic storyline for every 5 episodes or so because there are some characters that were introduced and then killed off just for the sake of killing them. Luckily not many. And there are many sequences that seems to take a sudden twist, like the writer decided to change direction based on the reception or the performances. I can't complain much about this because sometimes uncertainty makes for good viewing. TVB series tend to be predictable, bland but this series managed to stay refreshing for most part with heartfelt dialogues. But the storyline itself is intriguing and will surely pull you into this family feud saga.

The mistake of the description for this series is describing how the feud in the family tore the family apart when the father, Mr Chuk died. I was waiting for Mr Chuk to die from day one and it never happened until very late into the series. So really if you're expecting power struggle after the death of a patriarch, it won't happen until more than quarter way left in this series. What is refreshing of this series is the characters started rather distant from the viewers but by the time Mr Chuk died, I am sure there won't be a dry eye in the audience because by that time you will get to know Mr Chuk very well and why he behaved the way he behaved. This is one aspect of the storyline I like is the development of the characters along with the storyline. There is a story to tell and the characters are the tools instead of the characters domineering the story that after a while nobody would care what the hell the story was about.

The Relationships In This Series
First the familial relationship. What is very interesting about this series is basically everybody gets along with everybody within the family. I mean the younger ones are actually very close to one another and the trouble makers are the two old people, specifically the uncle and his wife. Of course later on we will discover Wan-sheung as the ultimate trouble maker but that to me is the one flaw of this series that is quite an eyesore for me. The uncle and the wife cause much trouble but yet the family is basically a close knit one without much jealousy. Like it was obvious the father favoured the youngest daughter over the elder daughter and whilst it was obvious the elder daughter felt she was neglected, she genuinely loves the younger sister and there was no jealousy. The siblings basically stick together and there was no jealousy, loads of loyalty and they're willing to help each other no matter what. That is so positive you know.

As for the cousins, they too help each other. Whilst the older generation plotted the downfalls of each other, the son of that uncle and aunt did not participate and was even very righteous in how he acted. However he would not knowingly hurt his parents but he will not hurt his cousins too. He in fact protected them in the ways he could and what is amazing is that his parents knew his son's true giving nature so when they plotted, they did not include him and in fact tried not to let him know.

Then there was the love relationships. Except for the youngest daughter who seems to attract guys who want her for reasons other than love, basically most characters in here have very loving relationship. Like the eldest daughter with her husband where it is an example of growing love over time and over some hardship, then there was the eldest son's love for a girl nobody approved of and that required certain amount of sacrifice. Even when Wan-sheung went nuts and did all she did, she actually did it because she loved Yau Seng too much. Yau Yip's love for Hiu Cheng is the usual first love but how Hiu Cheng loved him and what she did was kinda almost the ultimate sacrifice whilst Yee Fong's love for Yau Yip is so deep she was willing to die for him. Then there was the uncle and aunt. No matter how disgusting and how evil they may be towards others, you can't deny the love they have for their son and their love for one another. They plotted together and during downfall they suffered together. In fact I am quite touched by their love for one another.

Overall you can say the relationships in this series is very positive so you may wonder, what then is the problem? Well, love in itself caused the problems. In this series the love can be noble and it can be ugly. It can be all giving and it can be all consuming. Love can nurture respect and love can nurture hate. Love can encourage progress and love can inhibit progress. Love can be encouraging and love can be discouraging. Love can help an insane person see sanity and love can cause a sane person to become insane. Love can unite a family and love can tear apart a family. Each character embodies certain aspect of this love and its opposite effect. Interesting stuff.

Characters & Performances
There are many characters in this series, some has more screen time, some much lesser but at the end of this series you will agree that most of these characters and the major ones are properly developed instead of appearing for the sake of appearing. I have a few complaints about certain characters and how they ended but for the most part, the way the characters progressed is most satisfying to watch. For example ...

Mr Chuk
One of the most developed character in this series, he appeared to be rather non-happening at first. I mean when he first appeared I thought typical patriach who will die eventually. What surprised me was that not only did he not die immediately or somewhere fast along the way, he almost died I think 3 times and survived each by sheer willpower and then to die thanks to his own half brother. At first he seems strict but as the series progressed he seems more like a wise old man who has one major tragedy that changed his life forever that is the sudden death of his eldest son whom he has placed all hopes on. I especially like the story about his relationship with his children; sometimes cold, sometimes loving but at all times his children is respectful towards this father. By the time he died, his influence in this story is so strong the story almost fell apart after his death but luckily the story then shifted to the family as a unit which is interesting enough to continue on with the story. His death is unlike Point Of No Return where Damien Lau's character is so interesting that when he died, the story died along with him. Mr Chuk compliments the story, he does not dominate it and it is refreshing to see some very heartfelt interaction between him and his children.

He is however not perfect. His beliefs in respecting the elders, family is most important, always forgive your family almost caused the downfall of this family because his half brother and wife always got away with many wrongdoings due to this beliefs of his. It wasn't that he was stupid. He knew what was going on but he preferred not to interfere so that his brother can save face. This series deals with a lot of pride and dignity.

Favourite Scenes
Plenty but one of my most favourite had to be his many confrontation with his daughter, Ming Wai. He seems distant, cold and often angry with this daughter of his. Of course there is a reason.

Most Favourite Scene
It has to be the scene where he had his I think 3rd heart attack and he was in semi-coma when Ming Wai was visiting him and she was insulted by the uncle and aunt as at that point everybody knew Ming Wai's mom was a former prostitute and that Mr Chuk may not be her father after all. The words uttered were very harsh and the old man heard it as Ming Wai silently took the insults so that she can just see her father. Later when they were alone, Mr Chuk woke up and tearfully held Ming Foong's hands and said some of the most touching dialogue this series has that kinda caused me to kinda you know ... get teary eyed. Let's see if I can remember exactly what he said. Something like "I admit I did suspect your identity. I was angry with the deception by your mother, I doubted your paternity which is why I have acted so cold towards you. But I thought what if you were my daughter, I couldn't have let you suffer, I couldn't just see you taken away, so I took you in but yet I wasn't sure. I realise now I am such an old fool. You have tried your best to please me, you have always been an obedient daughter and you have never disobeyed me even when I asked you to marry Ah Cheung. You have always been a good daughter and I realise now why it shouldn't matter. I have a good daughter, I do not need to know any more than that. You are a Chuk and you are my daughter, always remember that."

And he said this whilst he was crying and she was crying and I was crying and well, very emotional time. You must see their relationship to get to this point because in the beginning he was very cold towards her.

Performance Evaluated
Ever since Chan Hung Lit turned in a sterling performance in War & Beauty, he has been giving sterling performances as the strict patriach who actually loves his children very much. So his Cantonese is still way off but I can understand him more now. Moreover it is quite reasonable that Mr Chuk speaks that way. He gives an excellent performance here as the cold Mr Chuk who is actually a warm Mr Chuk who makes mistakes but yet willing to admit it and move on with it. He has great chemistry with his "children" and "relatives" and many times his character was having heart attacks and all and survived another day were like very tension time. Because he was the one guy who hold the family together and if he is gone, well the uncle would do something even worse. He displayed personality instead of just the old patriach who is a fool. He gives his character dignity, integrity and yet stubborness that sometimes you kinda hate him for treating his daughter and daughter in law the way he did. A multi layered performance, I must say he is giving Chun Pui a run for his money as TVB's top veteran.

Ming Wai
A very complex character who is my most favourite character in this series. Basically she is one consistent character when it comes to her devotion to the family. She is totally 100% devoted to her father no matter how he treats her, she is 100% devoted to her siblings no matter how her father treats them, she is 100% devoted to her husband even if she doesn't really love him and she is 100% devoted to the family no matter how she is insulted, pushed away, yelled at or told to leave. This is a 100% woman, nothing less than that. And she has a sharp tongue, right up until the moment her identity is discovered and suddenly she doesn't retort anymore which is a pity. Anyway I like the fact that eventhough her father doubted her, she remains devoted to her siblings and her father. She is the most obedient daughter and she will do anything her father says because she wants desperately to please him. But she does question her father's love for her and her family's attitude towards her husband but at most times she is a very good daughter and an even better sister. However she does not really love her husband until many things happened and she learns to appeciate her husband.

What I love about how this character is written is you don't see flashbacks of her younger days but you would have known she must have had a very lonely childhood. Her life revolves around her siblings and her eagerness to please her father. When her true identity came out, it is obvious that when she was young her adoptive mother must have ignored her existence since she isn't her child and Mr Chuk must have been cold towards her since he suspected she may not be his child. So her eagerness to please comes from her insecurity and the fact that she must have felt unloved because it was her fault, that she must have not done enough. Her stability emotionally probably came from her siblings because they all connected well with her. I find her characterisation very intriguing and her character alone could have been made into a full series.

Favourite Scenes
Plenty. Her verbal fights and power struggle with her aunt, her relationship with her father and the way she handled the family crisis. Also the scenes where she figured out Wan-sheung's deception and how she handled the situation. One good scene was that she was dressed in her best during the shop's promo and when the reporter asked the family for a picture, she quickly rushed towards the front but her father seems to ignore the fact that she was not at her place yet and asked the reporter to just take the picture. She looked extremely hurt by her father's thoughtless gesture but like an obedient daughter, she sucked in her hurt and walked back away from the camera.

Most Favourite Scene
That scene where she just fought with her aunt and her father overheard and her father scolded her. She tearfully and frustratingly asked her father, "Am I your daughter? Why do you treat me this way?" which kinda made her father feel guilty for treating her so badly that later he said "You're my daughter. You're a Chuk. If not I wouldn't have handed over to you the responsibilities of taking care of the household". Very touching moment.

Special Mention
That scene where her aunt was discovered acting as an illegal money lender and Ming Wai confronted her aunt because her aunt was the one who borrowed money to Cheung without Cheung knowing and now Cheung was heavily in debt. Her aunt knew Cheung was borrowing money. So she confronted the aunt and the aunt loudly said "Yes, I did loan him money. So what? What can you do? Tell your father?". And at that moment Mr Chuk appeared and the aunt was shocked and Mr Chuk gave her a good scolding. Then she huff and puff and said "Ok, since I have failed in my duties, I will relinquish my duty as the head of household" and immediately Ming Foong said "Ok. Father I will gladly takeover her responsibilities" and her father without hesitation said "Alright". The aunt looked bewildered and then realised she has just given up her trump card that is as head of household. Excellent scene.

Some Complaints
Alas, somehow after the father died, Ming Wai became rather bland. She did not have that acid tongue anymore and she basically took insults by the aunt like a typical Korean drama; that ultimate shocked look or that no answer to that insult look. You know when someone said something and you have nothing to say or couldn't answer or could answer but momentarily and utterly stunned? Yes, she had that so many times until almost the end when her aunt left only then she seemed to have some life back, like suddenly found her personality again.

There were some criticisms that her character seems to have nothing much to do. After all full time housewife, sidekick to Yau Yip and men and well basically just hanging around the house. The thing is what you expect women during those time to do? Of course she had nothing much to do. But the thing is her character is important. She holds the family together. Whether her advice is good or not, she at least did everything for the good of the family. She is very useful in times of crisis as she seems to be the only one who can see things clearly.

Most Shocking Moment
That she wore that fox fur around her shoulder. I was wondering when PETA was going to throw red paint on her. I mean this is radical. Whilst I am all for realism, I do not like to see dead animals around someone's neck. I winced everytime I see that carcass around her neck.

Missed Opportunity
I for a moment thought this could be a very interesting twist of event, there was a twist but a boring one. When a young male servant came to work in the Chuk household, she had a clash with this servant but in the end appreciated this servant's integrity and treated him nicely and more than a servant. I was hoping for more than a servant as in rival in love against her husband Ah Cheung but alas, he was actually her half brother! A twist but so boring. I was thinking Ah Cheung's character was at first such a wuss, so I thought maybe in the end she will leave him since she doesn't really love him and fall for this younger man instead. What a missed opportunity of a plot. Of course there was another twist to this; she actually learned to love her husband in the end and accepted this young servant as her brother. But stillll.... imagine what a plot that could have been.

Performance Evaluated
I would never thought I would ever say this about Gigi Lai after her terrible, horrible and torturous performance in War & Beauty that is; if she must win the Most Favourite Performance award, it should have been for this series. In fact I would nominate her for Best Performance By A Leading Actress ala Emmy Awards type of award show. Her performance in here is not flawless but almost flawless. She could be a very good actress if she just control herself. In this series she gave a very controlled and multi layered performance without going overboard except when she is crying. Oh yes, there's still that awful crying from Gigi Lai who has my vote as TVB's worst crier but at least you don't see the Godzilla moments like you have seen in War & Beauty. She looks very beatiful although a bit too much make up. She fills the qipaos rather nicely and she does look good for her age. But the best was the subtle nuances in her every stare, every glare and every tiny movements. Her character hardly do anything huge in movements. I appreciate her effort to control her performance to such a certain extent that at times she may have came across as too controlled when she should have let go emotionally but that being said, she was magnificent in here. My only complaint has more to do with the script rather than her performance as her character, which at first had the best lines suddenly became rather boring and defenceless. But towards the end her character showed strength in integrity and in her love for her family, despite the rumours that she wasn't her father's child that it was very moving. If there is a reason to watch this show, watch it for Gigi's very mature performance.

Yau Yip
At first he seemed more like a useless son but not those that will be so useless that will harm the family. But just without ambition, no aim in life, fun and play all the time. The thing is this was how this character was supposed to be. Because his older brother Yau Seng was taking care of the business, Yau Yip didn't really have to do anything so without much responsibilities he ended being rather carefree, playful and flirtatious. But he wasn't a bad son and definitely a very good brother. When Yau Seng died, all the hopes Mr Chuk had for Yau Seng were directed at Yau Yip. It overwhelmed him at first but he tried until he realised he wasn't any smarter than Yau Pong and his way of handling the business was too rash without thinking of consequences. Whilst he is smart and can actually run the business if he thinks first, act later, he made many major mistakes that his father became very disappointed with him. He then decided to become useless again until he met the independent and opinionated Hiu Cheng whom he fell in love with at first sight. He spent more time with her but with her encouragement he actually tried to please his father by working hard and creating a new perfume. But when he was betrayed by Hiu Cheng again and again, he became despondent. He only became very determined to do better when his father died, and he knew if he fell so will his family and his sister, Ming Wai whom he unquestionably sees as his younger sister despite the rumours. He had to stand up for the family, which he tried to but he was bullied by the uncle. As a sign of his maturity, he took the insults and did not react but mainly reacted by working harder. During this time he found out his ever supportive cousin, Yee Fong was in love with him. He gave it a try with her but couldn't forget his love for Hiu Cheng so he gave her up. But Yee Fong still stood by him no matter the insults by the uncle and in the end he realised he had to let go of the past and learn to trust and love again which he did. And then when Hiu Cheng came back, he knew who he loved but because of how sad Hiu Cheng's life was, he being the responsible one now had to take care of her, thus sacrificing Yee Fong until Yee Fong proved to everyone once and for all who loved Yau Yip the most. He made up his mind but still couldn't walk away from Hiu Cheng until Hiu Cheng let him go. The entire story here illustrates this character's ever evolving sense of responsibility. Of course you may feel frustrated at his willingness to sacrifice Yee Fong and embrace Hiu Cheng but I thought he did the right thing. Hiu Cheng was feeling really low and if he had just abandoned her, Yee Fong wouldn't have felt that much love and respect for him. What I like about this character is although however playful, useless, irresponsible and stubborn he may be, in the end his family comes first. He finds it in his heart to forgive his uncle and tried many times to help his uncle, but was rebuffed.

Favourite Scenes
Mostly his scenes with his father which shows he feels guilty for disappointing his father but just couldn't be bothered with changing for the better. I also like those heart to heart talk between brother and sister as in he and Ming Wai, how she subtly advised him not to defy their father and how he actually listened and tried to do good but just had the bad luck of not succeeding. I also like his scenes with his cousin, Yau Pong, how there was uneasiness in knowing Yau Pong was perhaps a better person to takeover the business but that wasn't jealousy, just a realisation that perhaps maybe he didn't deserve the business.

Most Favourite Scene
I suppose the scene where his father was dying in the hospital and he wanted to go in to see his father but the uncle blocked his way. For once he was decisive in his actions and he tried to push through but the uncle angrily said "I will not let you pass. You're the reason why brother is like this, you're useless and if he sees you he will get worse" and Yau Yip angrily replied "Alright then uncle, let me in and if father doesn't get worse we can then ask him how he became like this" and the uncle said "No, you will not pass" and he angrily said "If father doesn't die, let him judge me then!" and he pushed through with the entire family but his father who couldn't open his eyes didn't seem like he regained conciousness and yet could hear Yau Yip said "Father, I am here. I am so sorry, I promise I will become useful, I will not disobey you anymore father, please father..." and his father just squeezed Yau Yip's hands weakly whilst tears was sliding down his cheeks but he didn't quite open his eyes and his father died. You know, that was such a sad scene. I felt my eyes filling with tears and I am no drama queen.

Special Mention
I love the scenes he had with Yee Fong, their playfulness and often teasing each other. One of the light hearted moments that deserves a special mention was when they decided to compete with one another and bet whose books Wan-sheung will read. Yee Fong brought serious literature whilst Yau Yip took out the lighter books. They were promoting each of their books and Wan-sheung was amused by their behaviour. That was a funny scene.

Some Complaints
See Performance Evaluated. Any complaints I have about Yau Yip has more to do with the actor than the character.

Performance Evaluated
This series proves two point about Moses Chan in a drama series that I suspect all TVB fans knew for a very long time; he can act but he can't act that well. No denying that he gave one of his better performances in here in terms of drama acting. If you have observed his past performances, in drama acting he tends to whisper his lines and talked like he is out of breath. In this series he improved in the sense less whispering, less out of breath delivery of lines but you must admit this, this man can pout! Oh yeah, those pouts of his was like throughout this series especially when he is in a scene where he is supposed to be silenced into submission or couldn't answer certain things, so he pouts. His crying ability is still lacking and it didn't help that when he cried, and I mean really cried, he will shut his eyes and that kinda magnifies his already rather big mouth. But he has got nice teeth so that doesn't bother me much. It does bother me though he doesn't cry convincingly. It didn't feel real. His grief didn't feel realistic and his character's tranformation is seen more on paper than on the screen. His acting is really the same throughout, not much ups and downs. So dramatically he was inadequate. But this actor can do comedy and he excels in light hearted moments, especially scenes where he playfully teased his female co-stars. He has got almost perfect comedic timing that could put to shame certain actors professing to be comediens. But this series is 100% drama, with the unusual blend of light hearted moments that isn't really comedy, but just to balance out the heavy drama I suppose. So if you ask me "Funn, was his performance good?" I had to say a younger Kwong Wah would have done this character justice. But that is not to say he was horrible. Quite the contrary. I find this as one of his best dramatic performance in recent memory without having to become silly or stupid or smiling like an idiot.

Yee Fong
You may think this character may be a bit non-happening. She is like the Chuk family's constant cheerleader who seems like very mild but is actually made of tougher stuff inside. Well her character is 100% supporting character, definitely not the lead. But when it comes to being a supporting character, I find this character very well written. Not much to say though. She is just a very supportive person who has a very gossipy mother. She is sometimes torn between what she had to do so that her mother need not suffer insults at the hands of the even more gossipy and tyrannical aunt and of course her conscience. I think she balanced it well although she did have to betray Yau Yip once or twice, but not the way Hiu Cheng did.

Favourite Scenes
All her scenes with Yau Yip.

Most Favourite Scene
Where she stood up for Yau Yip who was bullied by his uncle and she got fired instead. For once she didn't balance her conscience and her needs but acted with her heart. Also the scene where she gave up Yau Yip so that Hiu Cheng could be at peace and be happy after all the suffering she went through. A very strong person if you ask me.

Some Complaints
Towards the end her character became rather bland. I thought more can be said from her final act of love for Yau Yip and the consequence but since the series was going to end in approx 20 min, her story had to suffer a bit.

Performance Evaluated
Excellent first class performance from Yoyo Mung. I am not kidding you! It's true. At last someone who understands the idea of being a supporting actress by not trying to dominate each scene and in the end successfully stood out amongst the many female characters in here by being understated. My only complaint is actually physically she reminds me of a bean pole. Really one 24-24-24 type of body and too thin and fragile looking but she does look tall. Her performance though was great and her chemistry with Moses Chan is flawless. Another reason to watch this series is because of her performance. I must say though this is perfect casting as she does embody the character of Yee Fong. And I wrote this review a long time ago and I can't believe that's the same actress in Forensic Heroes. I guess sometimes it is aboit the characters that suit the actors, rather than the other way around.

Ming Man
Youngest daughter of the family. I could have said spoilt youngest daughter but you know, this is one pretty well rounded and grounded character who is kinda modern in her perspective. She also has the misfortune of falling for two guys who in the end hurt her family and ended up without a decent guy.

Most Favourite Scene
She confronted her sleazebag boyfriend, the lawyer and asked him did her change her father's will and he didn't answer and she angrily asked him to just confess and she would forgive him and he didn't and in the end she just walked out of him. I tell you, this girl has got character.

Some Complaints
Her character seems to run out of steam even from the beginning without nothing much to do. She does have a story but not well or fully written, more like just to show how much Mr Chuk ignored Ming Wai by showing how close he was to Ming Man and how Ming Man could be so casual and close to her father whilst Ming Wai stood by and only wished her father would have seen her the way he sees Ming Man. Very sad actually.

Performance Evaluated
I am tempted to blast Mandy Cho's performance but in all honesty, she wasn't that bad. I find her much better than Shirley Yeung and this being I think one of her earlier performance (not that she had anything later to compare with since I think she retired from showbiz), she really wasn't that bad, towards the end. She actually got better. She actually tried to act with not just her face but her voice as well as her voice grew more steady and stronger as the episodes went on. Some scenes she was quite alright, like crying scenes and mostly those dramatic moments. In fact she fared better in dramatic moments rather than light hearted moments where she was at her weakest. That being said, she wasn't that good as well but well, with all those horrible first timers, Mandy Cho is one of the better ones.

But she has her flaws.

For one, she still walks like she's Miss Hong Kong, bouncing everywhere, especially her hotdog cum maggie mee hair. Like one foot out, with one foot back, like some model bouncing down the runway. Her worst moment was actually the very first time you see this character. Imagine this. In the house, near the stairs, father coming down the stairs, she is excited to see her father, and so she walks from right to left, turn and stood there like a statue until her father came down and hug her. No running to her father, just stood there, with her right side of the face facing the camera, making sure her body did not block the view of the camera because I would bet my life that just minutes before filming began, the director must have said "Mandy, you walk here to here and then turn and stand at this spot marked with that huge X". It was quite funny actually, the standing position, the timing, the bad awful unnatural acting that I felt dread you know, that I would have to endure a good series with one really awful bad actress. Good for Mandy, she actually got better but her acting was still like down the model runway.

Yau Pong
One of my favourite actually although he had little scenes but his presence and absence made a huge impact on the show. Everything the uncle and aunt did was becaue of this son of theirs. I was dreading the typical power struggle story with son just as bad but surprisingly, Yau Pong is perhaps the best male character in this series. He has integrity, he is respectful, he has a conscience, he tries to do the right thing, he loves the Chuk family and his family unquestionably, he is grateful for Mr Chuk's help in his education and his untimely death was perhaps the most heartbreaking, apart from Hiu Cheng's sad life. I don't know, I have the feeling his death was like a sudden storyline for the writer who felt the need to shock and yes, I was shocked. The thing about this character is he knew his parents are mean but he never knew they could be so evil. When he knew, he couldn't expose them but he couldn't live with them so he actually decided to go away. It is just refreshing to see a different action taken by a character that is more realistically protrayed. His actions are driven by his fillial peity but he won't compromise his conscience and integrity by becoming like his parents. Amazingly his parents never once tried to corrupt him, in fact they knew they have a decent son that they tried not to let him know of their evildoings. Amazing if you ask me.

Favourite Scenes
His father always try to belittle Yau Yip in front of Mr Chuk but it was Yau Pong who frowned upon such disaparaging words and actually tried to pacify the situation whilst praising Yau Yip earnestly. His father of course became rather frustrated but never once scolded Yau Pong.

Most Favourite Scene
When he found out his parents forged Mr Chuk's signature in the old will, he thought long and hard and decided he couldn't reveal the truth but he can't stay either. So he was about to leave when his parents' wrongdoings was exposed by Wan-sheung and the mother admitted to everything and will have to go to jail. In their room Yau Pong tearfully knelt before his mother and tearfully apologised that he had to speak the truth and amazingly his parents not only did not scream at him, they even consoled him! Bad people, but somehow with such a decent son, they must have been good parents.

Some complaints
His death, too sudden. Too tragic. Too soon. But not entirely pointless.

Performance Evaluated
I have noticed Ngo Ka Nin since the first time I saw him act in Love Is Beautiful as guess! guess!! Wan-sheung Heung's son!! Well more like Marianne Chan's son but he was switched at birth and became Anne's son. How time flies eh?

Anyway, with very little scenes he still managed to grab my attention and hold it. It was to me perhaps the best younger male performance in this series. Looking rather handsome in the olden day looks, his character doesn't have much to do but those subtle nuances on his face, how he felt uneasy at the way his father promoted him in front of Mr Chuk, knowing this was done by disaparaging Yau Yip were excellent acting. I especially enjoyed the scenes where he didn't say a word but from his looks you knew he felt his parents may have crossed the line in human decency. Excellent performance.

Wong Hiu Cheng
I kinda suspected this character will betray Yau Yip or die because if not how he could then fall for Yee Fong? I was right about betrayal but it was only in the end why she had to do what she had to do. Oh she was mean, she was bitchy but it was a a show because she was forced. I find her character the most pitiful character in this series and when in the end she revealed what happened to her and why her face has a huge ugly scar, I was about to cry. She really loved Yau Yip and I thought it would have been better if Yau Yip married her and Yee Fong. I mean at that time got polygamy wat! Why not?! He owes her I suppose because her misery was directly due to him.

Most Favourite Scene
Her last scene with Yau Yip as she said goodbye. Very happy for her as Yau Yip reminded her "Did you remember to take you scar concealer cream?" and she smilingly flipped her hair and said "I don't need it anymore. I am beautiful and I don't need to hide my scar". Very happy ending for her in a way.

Most Tear Inducing Scene
Ming Wai's life makes me want to cry, Mr Chuk's end made me want to cry, Yau Pong made me want to cry and now this one. This drama is too much man! Anyway when she related where she have been, oh how I wronged her. I knew she had a reason to take the money but why did she disappear after that? Well she decided to leave Yau Yip to save him, she didn't want to be controlled anymore and she didn't want to hurt Yau Yip anymore. But she was kidnapped by her master, the guy who has been ordering and controlling her and she was sold to Nanyang and she became a prostitute, having to serve several men every night. She couldn't take it and she knew if she scarred her face her owners may let her go so she did and she had no customer that she can leave and she travelled back not to find Yau Yip but to find her brother. She knew she was not good enough for Yau Yip and that was just so sad. I want to cry now. Let me cry for a moment...

Performance Evaluated
Sharon Chan gives me an impression she is a very headstrong bitchy woman because she has eyes than can stare you to death. She is also tall with strong shoulders so she looks quite imposing, and her voice is quite deep and so quite authoritative sounding. So why on earth is she cast in this most pitiful character on TV in recent years? Maybe to divert our attention, that she couldn't have had been so badly treated by fate. Well Sharon Chan may not be the best actress there is and a better actress could have given more oomph to this character but for all her limitations, she wasn't that bad. She actually got better towards the end but well, not the best, not the worst, just adequate which is really not that bad actually. A decent performance.

A rather vindictive person who may have suffered from mental problems but definitely was delusional after her husband's death. Of course earlier everybody did disapprove of her which kinda explained her resentment towards them, in secret but at the end of the series you will realise how a scorned woman who is mentally fragile can do things that they themselves may not think they could, like killing an innocent person, causing a rift in an otherwise loving family and basically destroying the life of an innocent girl, like Hiu Cheng. I was shocked too that she was the one who ordered her fellow village-friend, that Ho Keung to sell Hiu Cheng to Nanyang to become a prostitute. I was like "Wah that was too much woman! Too much!!". She has her insecurity, her fear, wanting to safeguard her daughter's interest by basically driving competition away without really understanding that the very people she is driving away are actually the ones who will protect her daughter. Towards the end she became a very respectable voice in the family. In a way the siblings felt guilty for pushing her away at first and for encouraging their brother to leave her which in a way cause his defiance and eventually his death, so they really treated her very nicely, making sure she becomes sociable, dress well, daughter well taken care of, encouraging her to become the face of Keng Fa Tong and all sorts of stuff that I felt they have gone beyond themselves to do. I mean they are obligated to treat her well, but not that obligated even when they knew she viewed them with suspiscion. It was sad actually how in the end she threw herself into the river. I think in some ways she knew she must have had an overactive imagination and was really mental because after all the confession, the cousin said sadly to her "You have too much of an imagination that you have thought wrongly of us" that she somehow had this look like "maybe I have" and then she said she had one final request before she was to be arrested. So she must have had that one lucid moment, that perhaps along the way she knew she had done too much to stop so she might as well continue or maybe she was still angry all these time being put down that she blamed all of them for her husband's death. Tragically she may have thought her husband felt the same way so she did what she did because she thought it could have been what he wanted her to do. Ok, she is crazy. But you can't deny she loves her daughter very much.

Most Favourite Scene
The one where Yau Yip took her home and she saw Mr Chuk and she didn't know how to call him. She lacks tact, that if obvious but she didn't deserve the cold reaction by Mr Chuk who in the view of everybody, including the servants said "You can call me Mr Chuk". That I guess was why she hated him. From thereon, the aunt, the gossipy aunt and even the servants really treated her worse than a servant. She didn't need to cook and clean but basically she had to what cantonese is called "sau hei". Don't know how to say it in English. Endure all insults? Doesn't have quite the same impact.

Most Anti-climatic scene
When she threw herself into the river. Maybe because I already knew she was going to kill herself anyway but the way it was done, it could have been better.

Performance Evaluated
I am under no illusion that Anne Heung is some great actress who gives great performances. Let's admit it; she hardly improve over the years but three things are constant;

1. the way she talks, dragging her words lazily which can be annoying sometimes

2. she looks great in Qipaos and she has that olden day kinda look so it was very appropriate that she became the "calender girl" in this series

3. as the series progresses, you will see her looking worse and worse, but in this series not so much since she is covered in thick layers of foundation

I must however applaud her bravery for taking on such roles. She is probably one of those actresses in TVB that dares to take on roles that still look glamarous but is innately ugly, evil and vindictive. She is like the personification of someone beautiful on the outside but looks can be deceiving. And by that I mean her characters, not her. Whenever I see her on TV being interviewed, I find her articulate, well spoken, well mWan-sheungred and always with a smiling face. She also exudes class and elegance which many TVB actresses lacks, and this is my greatest compliment to her; she has the aura of the olden day actresses but unfortunately she does not have the acting talent to match it which is a great pity. Many may laught at her as an actress, you may say she's ugly with a flat face or even say "what? Shirley Yeung bad? Come on! Anne Heung is worse!!". Oh yes, I heard that many times. But I like her as a person. I don't know her personally but she hardly ever had any rumours of tantrums around sets or not getting along with her co-stars. Moreover, she answered my email so yeah, I like her.

But as an actress, a more capable actress would have made this character into a truly memorable one. I am not saying she is inconsistent in her performance. In fact, she is very consistent. From the start of this series and sometimes in between, you'll see that angry glare but just for a fleeting moment. I kinda suspected her character was still harbouring hatred for the Chuk family and I was right because of those fleeting angry glares. I appreciated the details, I also think this is one of her better performance but overall still a weak one. I must appreciate the fact that there is diversity in the characters she plays, not much sweetness in some and can be really mean and bitchy. A pity really, she really isn't that good an actress.

In this series there is one compliment I can pay her about her acting performance; she started off really weak but she got really better towards the end to a point that I can say this is a decent performance. So imagine what a better actress can do with this annoying, hateful character. I don't pity this character, sad to say. I really find her stupid and foolish to do all the things she did when if she just try to think clearly, she would have realised her husband may have died, but in the end she gained a family.

Chuk Mun Tin
This is the uncle who is consistently mean throughout until his brain basically gave up and he became totally insane. Talk about consistency and he is your prime example. Everything bad he did to people was a necessity but everything bad happening to him is other people's fault, never his own. I could pity him. I mean he helped run the business, dedicated his whole life to it and the reason why he didn't inherit the business was because he wasn't the first born. Then he had to help run it because the first born had a son capable of running the business. When that son died, he had a glimmer of hope of inheriting the business as he in my opinion at first rightfully should but the first born now not having his own first born wanted to pass the business to the son that everybody acknowledge as too playful to be serious when it comes to the business. I mean even without the uncle backstabbing Yau Yip or causing havoc, Yau Yip himself stumbled into havoc and in his own hands almost ruined the business. In fact I don't think the uncle needed to do anything at all; he just had to sit, wait and enjoy the show. In the end he didn't get to inherit the business despite Yau Yip's constant mistake and running away like a coward because the father, the first born thought his son could be better. So when Mr Chuk weakly said to this uncle that "you could assist, teach him the ropes, help him to build the business" it was perfectly understandable that the uncle should flip and go mad and all. Yes, pitiful except that this uncle can't be pitied. Why?

For one, he had an annoying wife who abuses her position. Then we have this uncle himself who is secretly so very happy everytime something bad falls upon the other Chuk members, in fact he seems the happiest when everybody else fails. That is mean. He tried many times to takeover the business despite knowing his brother's own wish, so that is selfishness. Whilst his own brother laid in the hospital dying, he did takeover the business and mistreated everybody after his brother died, that is vindictive of him. He easily blamed Ming Wai and questioned her legitimacy and treating her like pariah, that is just unbecoming of an uncle. But the worst was basically he killed his brother by screaming at him all the years of pent up anger and the proceeded to bang his brother's head on the bed again and again and again until that poor guy who was recovering basically died of another major heart attack and I suspect, heart break. Now that is evil. The way this character is portrayed, you just can't pity him. He is truly evil.

When bad things happened to him, he blamed everybody even when everybody was trying to help him. He became worse when Yau Pong died.

However he has some very good but twisted qualities; like he really really loves his wife, Sin. Really. And he places all his hopes and dreams on Yau Pong whom he loves enough to conceal his evil mean acts. In his eyes Yau Pong could do no wrong and the fact that Yau Pong turned up so well, maybe probably he was a good father and a good parent. So when Yau Pong died, understandably he went haywire.

Now the problem with this character is it is never fully realised. It could have been so much more. Those bad things happening to Yau Yip wasn't really caused by the uncle anyway. Towards the end his character seems to disappear and his downfall was in no way caused by Yau Yip and gang but by his own unwillingness to see beyond his prejudice and hatred and for trusting the wrong man. When Yau Pong died, most of the viewers may say he deserved this karma, this punishment but of course Yau Pong is such a good guy you will go "how cannnnnnnn!! how can like this oneeeeee?!". In a way a self destructive character if you ask me.

Most Favourite Scene
A lot of scenes, like those where he insulted Yau Yip and family again and again and again. I mean those things he said like saying to Yau Yip "You're so useless, if I were your father I would want to die too!" were just beyond what a decent human being should say to another. Like Yau Yip I felt like throwing my broom at him and just basically kill him. But my most favourite had to be the one where he raged against his brother who was lying weakly on the hospital bed, shocked that his younger half brother had so much resentment towards him and how he handled the Yau Yip issue and inheritence. The uncle flipped when Mr Chuk said "You could guide Yau Yip, pass on your knowledge of the business to him" and the uncle in one of the best scene in this series screamed "How can you do this to me? If I had been the first born, I would have inherited the business but I curse the fact that I am the son of a second wife! I curse you! I worked hard for you, I poured my life into the business, I almost had it, you almost gave it to me but you had to give it to that useless piece of trash you call your son! You'd rather believe him, who almost ruined this business that was passed on by our grandfather to us than in me! Why? Why him? Why not me?! I won't let you do this! I won't let you do this!" (as he banged Mr Chuk's head on the bed and shook him wlidly). Very dramatic stuff and very realistic dialogue. I wonder too; why Yau Yip? I think I can answer that. If this uncle had been a kinder person, I would say Mr Chuk was wrong. But he wasn't. He is innately evil. Yau Yip may be useless, but he can learn and to Yau Yip family is top priority. In the uncle's hands, the business may flourish but the family could break apart since he has a tendency to abuse his authority whilst Yau Yip is innately gentle and in his hands and with proper guidance, the business will also flourish and the family will stay together.

Performance Evaluated
First class performance by this veteran actor whose name I only know very recently. He played the long suffering uncle bearing a grudge to perfection. Nothing more I can say but I could say this; watch this series for this actor's phenomenal angry performance. His character may be hard to swallow at times, you will hate him and at times pity him but you can't deny, this performance is very engaging and very realistic.

Ah Cheung
He seemed rather not there in the plot at first, I was thinking what can this series do about his character since he doesn't stand out. But as the series progresses, you will see how this character grow from strength to strength and how his relationship with Ming Wai evolved into something very enjoyable to watch and many times very heart warming. This series made it very clear; he was the older husband, he was not particularly smart or successful or ambitious, he really was in awe of his younger, prettier and smarter wife that sometimes he felt what did he do right to deserve this perfection and many times he knew his wife didn't really love him and married him out of duty, which was why he wanted to improve himself so that she could see the good in him, that he can be decisive and useful. But he made a mistakes such as by borrowing money to invest in the stockmarket, thus losing loads of money. But somehow along the way the wife saw in him kindness and gentleness and in his own way a capable person. His character really evolved into a very decisive and yet loving husband who stood by his wife no matter what. When he was hurt by Wan-sheung who caused him to go into coma, and when his wife thought he was having an affair and kicked him out of the house and his wife read the letter he wrote her when she had a miscarriage and refused to see him, it was a very heartfelt moment as he poured his sadness at her and said "Why didn't you believe me? Why did you leave me? I did not have an affair! I will prove it to you!". Anyway a very happy ending for this man in the end whose wife learned to love him and appreciate him and his quiet strength as a husband and integrity as a human being.

Favourite Scenes
I enjoyed every scene Ah Cheung was in, especially his scenes with his wife. I also like this scene where he was just sacked from his job by the evil uncle and he had to stay at home and Yee Fong was also sacked and they were lamenting on the fact they were sacked whilst arguing with the evil aunt and he quipped "Well there is an advantage by being sacked. I mean he may have the right to sack us but father in his will clearly said we are free to stay in this house as long as we want to. So think of this as free lodging and free food". Also the one where he found out why Mr Chuk never really warmed to his wife because Mr Chuk suspected she is not his daughter and when he went home, he saw her busy tidying the account books for him and he gently went up to her and said "No matter what they all say, I will always be there for you, you can count on me" and of course she didn't know why he suddenly said that but she smiled appreciatively at his show of support. Very romantic.

Most Favourite Scene
Earlier on when the entire family found out about his immense debt to the ah longs and Mr Chuk basically ran him down and his wife could not say a word in his defense and when he has had it with all of them calling him useless and a fool, he tearfully screamed "Don't worry! I will not drag this family down! I will not drag my wife down!" and he basically ran out of the room (they were on 2nd floor) with his wife screaming after him like "Ah Cheung! Ah Cheung" and he ran to the balcony and when he was about to jump his wife held him back and he pushed her away and looked at her and said "After I am dead, find yourself a better husband" and he actually jumped. He didn't die of course. It was very dramatic and one of my most favourite scene in this series. And I never thought he would jump.

Most Confusing Scene
Not the scene but the reason for that scene. I mean all along this guy is like very loving to his wife, never nagged at her or anything and when one day Mr Chuk scolded him for causing some business problems and refused to believe his version of events, he angrily went home, saw his wife and nastily said "No matter what I do, I will not be trusted! No matter how diligent I am, I am forever a condemened man and it will never be enough! Why? It is because of you! No matter how good I am, father will never appreciate me because I am your husband!". She didn't look confused. Which is confusing because why he suddenly said what he said and thereafter not a word of apology, like whatever happened was just a blackout sort of thing and she should look confused since this was before she found out about her father's suspiscion. So this was to me a very weird scene and was like the writer suddenly put this in for no apparent reason except for dramatic value.

Performance Evaluated
Cheung Chi Kwong again delivered a winning performance. I was quite surprised, in fact pleasantly surprised to see such an interesting pairing and casting decision; Cheung Chi Kwong and Gigi Lai and they as husband and wife! So to me that was the nice twist in the series. When I saw a young handsome servant that caught her attention by being polite but with a mind of his own, I thought wow! Could it be there will be a love triangle?! A younger man and a much older man and right smack in the middle, Gigi Lai? How refreshing! But that was never to be. Instead, and in a good way I suppose instead of being purely sensational, the series shifted gear and allowed the character Ah Cheung to develop into a full fledge character instead of being the dude next to Gigi. He played his character to perfection and interestingly, he actually has chemistry with Gigi and they paired off well. His steadiness and soft spoken Ah Cheung may have toned down the usually more emotional actress in Gigi but of course when he was out of the picture, the ashmatic Gigi returns. Watch this series for him!

Very consistent throughout as the evil, vindictive, selfish and emotionally abusive aunt. Sometimes I felt rather tired watching her being the biggest bitch in this series. Wan-sheung is not the biggest bitch though, it had to be this aunt who may not kill, maim, pillage or plunder, but is to me worse than Wan-sheung who of course killed people. Don't know why, maybe I just didn't like this character's gossipy nature. Like her husband, all bad things that she did to other people is not remembered but all bad things happening to her, they're all other people's fault instead of her own. But like her husband, she has her good qualities; she really really loves her husband and will do ANYTHING for him. And I mean anything as in going to jail for him. And she really loves her son. And in the end, and I guess this must be the writer's attempt at explaining how karma works, when her husband became insane in prison, she suddenly woke up and realised all bad things that was happening to her and her husband, even her son's death may be due to retribution for their evil deeds and evil thoughts, that karma finally visited upon them and cast its punishment on them. Poetic eh? Well that's how her character ended; with regret. A nice ending though.

Favourite Scenes
Her sparring with Ming Wai. Love the exchange of words. But my most favourite had to be the one I described under Special Mention in my comments about Gigi's character.

Performance Evaluated
Kiki Sheung really aged really a lot. But her acting is still there, she is still great sharing great chemistry with the actor who plays her husband. Not much to say actually because any inadequacies is the writer's fault, not her own.

Everybody Else
Mark Kwok is now officially the most favoured actor by TVB to play basically scumbags who look gentlemanly but is actually a cad, a bastard and a jerk, not necessarily in that order. In here he played the lawyer. His ending was of course one of TVB's most satisyfing ending ever; he has the looks, the riches, the power, everything that he wanted except that he had a terminal disease with 3 months to live. The last we see of him was him crying and wailing saying "I don't want riches, I want my health, I want my lifeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!". Such a sad sad man.

Michael Tong is now officially the most favoured actor by TVB to play basically the good guy who doesn't get the girl in the end, no matter how good a guy he is. He played Fai in here, the painter. How many times have I seen him playing the guy beside that guy beside that girl who loves the girl but never got the girl? One up in this series though; he died senseless after appearing for I think 2 or 3 episodes, appearing to be the most level headed character and then stabbed to death by Wan-sheung's character. Which means he appears to die. Pointless character actually but his character is really a very understanding guy who doesn't simply accuse people. He does investigate and then, yes he dies.

Law Lok Lam plays the other rich guy who I was hoping would be instrumental in helping Yau Yip rebuild the business or in the power play against the evil uncle. bHe plats Lam Wai Boon. Alas his role disappeared halfway and reappear but lost his zing. In the end he dies, and the show didn't even bother to show it, Mark Kwok's character just narrated it and implied he pushed that poor old guy down the stairs, but even that I didn't hear quite clearly.

Tsang Wai Kuen as Yau Seng had a very small role but a pivotal one since his death sets many things in motion. He may have died, but his presence felt throughout. He was ok as the big brother whose father had so much hope on and who fell in love with someone he shouldn't have. I believe in real life if this son didn't die, the father will learn to accept his wife, since they had a child together. What is obvious in this series is the father clearly loved this son the most.

Many other veteran and young ones whose impact in the role is to walk in, appear busy, walk out and the end. Not all very good though especially the girl who played Lam Wai Boon's daughter, a bit too excited in her performance which translates as amateur.

What's really good and what't not so good
A lot of wasted good plots as highlighted above, I have a feeling this series was like see how it goes type of scriptwriting. I made the mistake of thinking the entire plot was about family feud and struggle which was why I did not like how Wan-sheung was killed off in the end. I would have thought her character showed inner strength and should be allowed to redeem herself instead of becoming the surprise villain. But then I recalled this series started with Wan-sheung and her plight. It was also about the greedy uncle. Halfway it became about Yau Yip and their father and the Chuk family as a whole bogged down by Hiu Cheng's story and did she or didn't she die with many hours spent on that alone. When everything was settled the plot shifted gear back to the original plot about Wan-sheung. Along the way there were many hints about Wan-sheung's character and her real intentions, so I could say the plot has always been there but the middle part which was the best part was a distraction from the original plot. At least this was better than Point Of No Return where the moment Damien Lau died, the entire series died with him and everything else was pointless and plain annoying to watch. This series when the old man Mr Chuk died, surprisingly the series still could go along because of the strong characterisation of other major characters, one of which was Ming Wai that really outshone many by being more in the background than in the forefront. Her character is hardly involved in the business but she is involved in the family and the middle part is about the family. What I like about this series is it shows very clearly the young ones and the siblings are very close and loyal to one another and it is only the older generations that are feuding. Whilst the respect afforded to the uncle borderline on too much politeness that I almost thought why didn't they just kick him out and why be so nice to him and the aunty, the way they behave truly reflects the olden day Chinese big family; elders are always respected for their views. It seems unreasonable but this is the very thread that holds the family; no matter how useless Yau Yip was, he was the big brother and he should be given a chance, his voice must be heard, he could save the family from breaking apart. Yau Seng may have died so earlier on, but his influence stays throughout the series as the siblings treated Wan-sheung well because they knew she was their big brother's most loved woman. It again boils down to respect for the elders. So this is the part I really enjoyed watching, apart from the realistic dialogues and many heartfelt scenes that made me shed a tear or two.

However, the complaints are more towards how often the series shifted gears, how some characters ended and as usual, the final ending. I was really afraid that it will end with a bunch of them standing in the house happily smiling and telling the viewers some heartfelt familial lessons. Of course they didn't do that in the house, they did that in front of the father's gravesite. But it wasn't that preachy or ridiculous.

The Charm Beneath, the Sequel
However the ending where Yau Yip said since family is now united, they must do what they can to unite China is a bit of a propoganda to me. If there is ever a sequel, I believe it will be this;

The last scene said Hiu Cheng joined the army in China to fight the invading foreigners. Then there was Mandy's character, another cousin going there to fight as well. Very patriotic. I assume this is at the turn of the century, during Sun Yat Sen's struggle. They will contribute to the success but when Maio Ze Dong came into picture, let me venture to imagine what would happen to them; they're educated people, rich people with properties in China. I am not sure where they are at the end, could be Hong Kong. Assuming it is Hong Kong they're safe. Assuming it is China, Keng Fa Tong will be run down by peasants in the uprising of the stupids overthrowing the smarter richer landlords and academicians and Hiu Cheng and gang would be arrested, tortured, made to renounce their family, humiliated in front of the public and then sent for reeducation in some rural China to be farmers until they are up to the standards of a peasants. If Yau Yip and wife and children are in Hong Kong, their Keng Fa Tong may probably merge with some big giants of cosmetics and probably become Maybelline or Loreal.

Well, can't hurt to have an active imagination.

One of the best TVB series in years, it may not boast individual excellence in performance by everybody but as a cast, they all fitted well and were basically amazing and the story was to be the main attraction in here. The characters are well fleshed out, the acting by those who matters, especially the veterans Chan Hung Lit, Kiki Sheung and Lee Kwok Lun were top notch whilst Gigi Lai proved her worth in this series which I regard as her best performance ever, inspite of my criticisms of her over the top crying scenes. Even Yoyo Mung gave an amazing performance. Cheung Chi Kwong was given a unique opportunity to shine in an otherwise series of superstar actors, and managed to claim his own without being overshadowed by the more famous younger ones or the more experienced older ones whilst Sharon Chan and Mandy Cho weren't that bad. The really young ones like Ngo Ka Nin, Fred Cheng and Oscar Leung gave solid peformances whilst the veteran Lo Yuen Yan was at times unbearable to watch, mainly because of the way her character was written. Anne Heung bravely took on a character that demands her to go beyond being a bitch which to me is amazing enough although if it had been a better actress, this character would have been a goldmine for the actress. Wan-sheung Heung amongst the experienced ones is the weakest but this is not her worst performance, it was in fact one of her better ones. However it was the plot that saved this series, however fickle it may be or however many times it changed gear and morphed into something else. There are strong realistic dialogues, some very hearfelt scenes and the relationships depicted in this series looks real and draws me into their world and made me actually care. It is one of those rare TVB series that actually has an ending for everyone and you won't be left guessing what happened.

Quite simply said, this is a great series. Do not miss it, especially if you're a fan of any of the stars or even the genre. Best possible reason to watch this series is the gorgeous qipaos, settings, hairstyle and of course and I can't believe I am saying this, Gigi Lai. Just ignore the over the top crying scenes, thick make ups and shocking fur coats which to me was the worst aspect, I am sure you'll find some reason to like about this series.

Highly recommended.

Interesting ... Ermmm ... Fur coats
To me nothing shocked me more than to see Gigi Lai clad in a nice qipao wrapped on her shoulder one huge looking dead carcass, that is the fox. It looks real, I hope it is not real because it is politically incorrect and I hope it is a prop but I have a feeling we were seeing real foxes, mink coats and fur coats, depending on how famous you're of course. Really shocking stuff.

Interesting Qipaos
In here you will see all sorts of Qipaos, with matching hairtyles that didn't look real but still looks good. I really liked the ones worn by Gigi, more colourful and striking whilst Anne's looked very distinguished and respectable. Mandy probably looked the worst in qipao whilst Sharon looks tall but her hairstyle too messy. Yoyo was always in modern western costume, but all very conservative and yet elegant and modern in light of that era. Moses is always in suits, looking rather handsome in long heavy thick overcoats which I really like. He has this old time classical looks, kinda like men in those era. Mandy's look was always girlish flamboyant looking western clothings with kinda severe looking hotdog curls for hairs. Amongst all, I thought Wan-sheung looked the most classical in terms of looks overall whilst Gigi really looked very pretty. However, all the women had thick make up, maybe except for Yoyo who spotted natural looking make up and Wan-sheung who at first were rather plain but then dressed appropriately like a rich family's first daughter in law. Overall the costumes are to die for.

Interesting Invention
As usual TVB mixed real facts with reel facts. The one that I am most concerned about is who invented those modern lipstick stick that we all always take for granted now since Chinese used to use box, then use brush to apply the lipstick and use the paper to blot out the excess I suppose. In this series it was Yau Yip who invented the modern lipstick stick. Really? Was it a Chinese?

The Themesong
Gigi Lai sang the themesong and Moses sang the end song. Both are good songs but horribly sung. First Gigi sang through her nose, so it sounded nasally. Moses sang without much emotion, so the song became souless. How many times have I complained about getting actors to sing and singers to act? It is just plain wrong. A good song butchered by incompetent wannabe singers. It's time TVB bring back the real singers because 20 years down the road when they do one of those TVB anniversary featuring their famous themesongs, they will forever be stuck with songs right up to the early 90s. Can I start a petition? Will TVB care? Will that shut Gigi Lai up? Will it at least make the artiste go "Maybe a real singer should sing this perhaps?". I think and I sadly do think that there is more chance of Shirley Yeung winning an Oscar than that happening.


  1. Elizabeth25.11.07

    Hi Funn!

    Great review but you actually got Wan Sheung's identity wrong. She wasn't an actress. She worked as sort of a courtesan in a tea-house (pretty girls used to work in tea-houses to attract sleazy customers, they do waitress work and sit down and have tea with them, and sometimes go home with them for the night as well). So Mr. Chuk couldnt; accept her because he thought her professional was equal of that to a prositute. But in ep 1 you actually hear that Wan Sheung doesn't sleep with her customers.


  2. Funn Lim26.11.07

    Elizabeth, thanks for the feedback! I actually thought she was a small time actress! In fact I actually thought this series was called Beneath The Charm! So that figures!! Thanks for the correction but I won't add it into the review. Let's see if the rest notices eh?

    Thanks again!


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