[REVIEWS DEPARTMENT- CHINESE DIVISION]
DIAGNOSTIC REPORT NO. CS01-2001 -Costume/HKTVB
"Bik Huet Gim", also translated as Blood Stained Sword, but formerly known as Royal Blood Stained Sword. Could be known as "Potential epic story that went really wrong".
Jin Yong, the man who wrote the story, but the real DNA forming part, giving it all the ultimate screen characteristics is the mother, TVB screenplay unit. Has uncles and aunts who fussed with this series way too much in the form of the Director,make-up, and costume department.
Date Of Birth
Funny thing about this series is that it was made long long time ago but like Plain Love II which coincidentally also starred Gordon Lam, TVB was slow to release it. Don't ask me why but I have a feeling that they themselves also know it was THAT bad.
Anyway, official date is almost end of year 2000. The unofficial date is way before year 2000. Our E-Buzz official date is well, a bit confusing since we have so many reviews. But for clarity sake, this review was reviewed on 1st February 2001, time is 1:27am Malaysian time. Officially, my first review in the new year. Unofficially, my 100th attempt of a review in the new year.
Place Of Birth
Native Hong Kong with few drops of Mainland China blood, meaning co-production between China and HK but we all know who was the BIG BOSS in this series.
Kong Wah - Ha Suet Yee aka Golden Snake Warrior
Gordon Lam - Yuen Sing Chi aka the nice guy
Ng Mei Hang - Wan Yee/ Wan Sin aka the tragic sisters
Kwan Poh Wai - Ho Hung Yuet aka the jealous one
Ha Ching Ching - Au Chi Yan aka the Annoying and sickly looking one
Charmaine Sheh - Ah Gau/Princess Cheung Ping aka the smart, beautiful but almost evil one
Emperor Sung Jing - Wong Wai aka the doomed Ming Emperor
The rest I can't remember. But I could remember Mak Cheung Ching as a monk, King Kong as a kung fu guy, that guy from Kindred Spirit as the Manchurian Dor Yee Kuan, Lau Dan as the MAnchurian Emperor, Wong Tai Gik, there's a Hoh Tit Sau chief of the Five Poison sect, plenty of China Mainland actors, like 3 or 4 of them , one of them played the evil double crossing eunuch to the Ming King, Tsou Fah Soon, and the rest I really can't remember.Oh yes, those Wan Family Five Old Grandfathers aka the chauvinistic pigs of the entire series.
This is one review that I do not know how I should begin. If I give too much, then it's the end for you as the viewers. if I give too little, it's the end of my hobby-writing almost of a career but volunteer basis of a career. So as in the tradition of all Jin Yong reviews of my mine, how shall i begin? Should I or shouldn't I? To write or not to write? That is not the question actually since I am writing. But I guess I could give you an overview of this series, the main characteristics of it. Though many would say this is a series about Ha Suet Yee, which is true but not quite true, in my own personal opinion. So I humbly ask you to just bear with me and read the following paragraphs, taken from the Opening chapter of Romance Of The Three Kingdoms, written aeons ago by one dude in China who fictionalised and romanticised a historical big mega supernova event that centred the whole story on a small dynasty that lasted only..like one king. Anyway, some modifications have been made, to reflect this series that i am reviewing and see, after you;ve watched the series, if this is what the whole series is about. Again, I did not write the following paragraph, but I modified it a bit with some words deemed suitable by me and is in my opinion what this whole series is about.....
"Domains under heaven, after a long period of division, tends to unite;
after a long period of union, tends to divide.
This has been so since antiquity.
When the rule of the Ming Dynasty weakened,
several contending sectors sprang up,
warring with one another until the kingdom of Great Shun,
led by Lee Chi Seng prevailed and possessed the weakened and despondent empire. But when Great Shun's destiny had been fulfilled,
the Emperor no longer a good Emperor,
the people no longer satistifed citizens,
there arose a group of predators waiting patiently in the bush,
the Manchurians who called themselves Qing,
to fight for a piece of the big fat meat.
And in the end, the Manchurians was the victor;
and the Hans rebels the loser."
Of course, then your question would be; what the heck has this got to do with Crimson Sabre? Well, at least the last 10 tapes or so concentrated fully on the above scenario, the army of Lee Chi Seng and the fall of the Ming Empire, and how in like one hour Lee Chi Seng fell. One hour in TVB time but in history he was a king for less than a hundred days. Reasons as to why such great fall for such a celebrated rebel of the Hans was explained in the series, in like 20 minutes TVB time. A lot of stuff in here is TVB time, not human or historical time. Anyway, the beginning parts of Ha Suet Yee and Yuen Sing Chi, they don't matter at the end, because like in the tradition of ALL Jin Yong stories, the bigger picture is always the clan/group/kung-fu sect/nations/country's problems, not those small players in there. To me, Yuen Sing Chi and Ha Suet Yee were just supporting casts to unfold to us the story of meaningless deaths leading to hatred turning into forgiveness because of a bigger influence...LOVE and in the end, a good loyal citizen, having gone through deaths of loved ones, love and seperation, it would then be the choice of serving one's own King as a loyal citizen and discovering that politics ain't much fun and so turned not to hatred but to life of seclusion with the ones that were destined to be with them for the rest of their lives though they may not love them as much as the departed beloved wife/girlfriend, who could still be alive somewhere.
That's the whole story. Now, the LONG LONG story, as below.
Upbringing & Education
Some says, upbringing and education influences the characteristics of a person but to me, upbringing and education are just the long story of trying to explain to someone the characteristics of a person. In this series, whatever said below ultimately lead to what I have said above. They may influence the above contents but the above contents in the end is distinctly seperate from the contents below. In the end, what i am trying to say is...below is one long grandmother story just to tell us the above ultimate summary/scenario.
It was in the Ming Dynasty, a dying but still formidable sect called the Five Poison Sect was at its most vulnerable moment. The leader was old, and a new leader was appointed based on character, virtue and leadership. And the leader was to be a woman, becasue this was a sect with women only membership, but men were there, with little influence. And on the day of the christening of the new leader where the ceremony will only be legitimate if our new leader is :
a) A virgin
b) her one hand is chopped off and replaced with a hook, as a symbol of leadership.
Then entered a mysterious figure whom our old leader mistook him for her real and rejected and dejected love, her big "Si-Hing". But that man was much younger, and colder looking, and he was nicknamed the Golden Snake Warrior. He came with a singular purpose, to lay his hands on the three treasures of the sect which consists of :
a) a golden sword shaped like a snake
b) the Kung Fu manual
c) the flying daggers
He didn't suceed, and he was finally surrounded and almost captured, and his background was not a secret. He was actually the student of the dejected and rejected Si Hing who died a tragic death, all because of a rejected love (the old leader preferred to have her hand chopped off and became a leader instead of life long happiness in eloping with him). He was hurt by a snake bite, and could have died but the new leader fell for him and made him promise that he will love only her, and with that promise made, she gave him the cure, and subsequently betrayed her sect by guiding and leading the man to the chambers that held these three treasures. But he betrayed her by disappearing, after he betrayed her trust, her love, and her body. She vowed to seek this man and kill him.
Years passed, many things happened. The story of this mysterious figure, that now was famous for his snake sowrd, snake Kung Fu and his reputed likings of beutiful women, whom he will subsequently rape them and discard the, all of which was not true, because this man wanted revenge, not sex. His target was the Wan family, and the reason behind that was actually because of a very tragic end.
The Wan family, now a rich and respected family consisting of 5 old men, or the founding fathers (one a father, the rest his sons) used to be pirates, or robbers that would not only plunder, but rape and kill. And one night, decades ago, they robbed, pillaged, plundered and killed the entire Ha family, and only one young boy was alive, and that was our Golden Snake Warrior, Ha Suet Yee. It was a senseless killing as this family was just a rich merchant family with no political ties. Nobody was spared but this boy's life was not taken away for a very simple and the most giving act of all; his elder sister, who was about to be married, quickly hid him in a big jar, and it was then that what he saw that would lay teh whole course of his life for him. he saw his family being brutally killed, his beloved sister raped and murdered and in aone single night, he was left to fend for himself. He was a young boy who knew little. Luckilly, the next day, a kind hearted an noble General, whom he later will have a profound relationship based on gratitude with , without asking nor questioning, buried every single corpse and gave these dead sould a place to rest. the boy remembered that one good deed for the rest of his life, and see General Yuen as his saviour.
But General Yuen would have a tragic ending, almost equal to what was faced by the Ha family. He was betrayed and accused of a crime he did not commit and he was killed by teh angry mob of people who literraly bit him to death. The General left Ha the custody of his only son, Yuen Sing Chi. Ha took care of him, and SIng Chi looked at this older man as his new father. But the boy could not speak a word after what he saw with what happed to his father. Ha had something of much importance to do, and took the sickly and mute Sing Chi to a highly skilled and respected Mou Dong man, who would be Sing Chi's real sifu. Ha left him there with a promise that he will return one day, and that boy knew that he would, and he cried, wanting to call for his Uncle Ha to take him with Ha in his mystrious journey but he could not speak a word.
At the meantime, Ha went to the Wan family and seeked revenge. All his years of loneliness, and isololation in learning the Golden Snake Kung Fu, and his act of betrayal that subsequently destroyed a young woman's life and love was for this one moment, to kill every single memver of the Wan family. He couldn't because five were obviously stringer than one. Instead he kidnapped the Wan's family eldest daughter, Wan Yee, and took hre along as a hostage. But as fate would have it, a man that was driven by revenge, and hatred being his singular reason for leaving fell deeply unexpectedly for a member of the Wan family, when he should've killed her when he knew of her family name. It didn't help much that Wan Yee was remoseful of what her family did, and tried her best to make him feel loved. She was slowly falling for him, probably out of regret of what her family did but Ha Suet Yee was not a bad man actually. He denied his longing for her, and told her to leave, but she couldn't. At the end, one fateful night , the night where Ha's whole family was killed, he held her tightly and told her to stay. He was at last at peace with himself and let go of all the hatred, followed the woman back home, and tried to accept the Wans as his future in laws, with a very pregnant Wan Yee. But her famaly did not believe him, and in the end, Ha not only lost his Kung Fu, his beloved child Ching Ching and his wife, whom hert own father and grandfather pursued an escaping Wan Yee who subsequently fell into a well and tragically died, Ha was saved by his enemy who was obviously still in love with him, after he went back to Mou Dong Mountain and saw Sing Chi for the last time. And his story ended there.
At the meantime, Yuen Sing Chi grew up into a formidable figure, fell for a mysterious figure that we all know is Princess Cheung Ping but he does not, he knew her by her false name, Ah Gau. He liked her from the first sight because she is pretty. And she liked him. but she ahs a duty, to create a rift between the many different sectors, so that her daddy's government is protected. But she could not stop the uprising of Lee Chi Seng, and she could not stop her love for Yuen Sing Chi. Yuen Sing Chi tried to persuadfe her to his side, to help lee Chi Seng but he was dumbfounded when she said no. He couldnt; undertsand why she is assisting a useless King. But in the end, when Lee Chi Seng entered the walls of the Ming empire, and he saw his Ah Gau lying on the floor, seriously wounded by her own father who was desperate and so he killed all his concubines and accidentally chopped off her hands, he knew why she said no repeatedly. She fainted and took her back home, whilst the Emperor, stading on teh Mei Shan hill realised that his empire is way over, he hung himself on the tree, whilst his faithful general killed himself. At the emantime, Princess Cheung Ping woke up, not realising that her father is dead was recuperating with one hope of being reunited with her beloved father, but she overheard those two stupid fellas, that is played by Mak Cheung Ching and King Kong of her ftaher's death and she ran far far away. Yuen Sing Chi thought it was his girlfriend, Ching Ching that told her the truth and so he slapped her, and she ran far far away to the Wan family house, only to be kidnapped by that mad Ho Hung yuet and her father, Ha Suet yee had no choice but to marry that ugly obsessed maniac but he was smarter. he had poison on his lips, and though he avoided kissing her not because she was ugly but because he is still kinda human, and soft hearted and felt responsible for her present predicament and state of ugliness, she proceeded to kiss him and instead of being poisoned to deatj, she was insetad stabbed to death by Wan Sin. Our Ha Suet Yee then was about to die, when Wan Sin kissed him, wanting to die with him, but like in the traidition of dramatoic TV, Yuen Sing Chi arrived at that monet to saveall of the. And thus, Ha realised her must marry Wan Sin because she was nice, Yuen Sing Chi had to marry Ching Ching because Cheung Ping became a nun and didn't want him and Yuen Sing Chi himself is a wimp at this point of time, and the Manchurians formed the Qing Dynasty within the walls of the fallen Ming and Great Shun and the stupid Lee Chi Seng, and well, depending on how you see it, it is a sad ending to some, for other a happy ending. For the Hans, they lived on.
And this is like after skipping like half of the series.
Main Strain In The DNA
Some may say the hero in this story is Yuen Sing Chi..true true true. BUT the main guy in this story, apart from the fall of the Ming Dynasty is actually..........Ha Suet Yee! Yep, many who watched this series felt that Kong Wah's Ha Suet Yee is like the main character in here. Main character maybe not but his character is one character that forms the basic structure of this series, and thus can be considered as a vital and important person in this whole series. But by reading Nath's review, his role ain't that big in the original and the book version. But having Kong Wah, why waste him? So they expanded his role, made him live longer, and suffered much more and in the end, became a happy contented man. If I had known what they had in store for this character, I would've wished they followed the book instead of their "creative" streak.
You see, in the first 5 tapes, he was the only reason to watch this series. By the way, he was the most interesting character. Much depth and character building has been given to Kong Wah and plenty of hours to develope this character into a character that we despised at first but liked and admired him by the end of 5th tape. All because of Kong Wah's excellent potrayal of a cold blooded killer who knew no love. Ha Suet Yee may be sulky most of the time but hey..seeing your parents being killed, your sister being raped and murdered, and your whole family being slashed and tortured and all Ha's except him died in just one night, that was horrible even for an adult, more so for a kid. But he was strong willed, and so he lived on, and learnt kung fu for the noblest but the wrongest reason, if there is such a word. Noble because he wanted to kill those who have killed his family, but wrongest because revenge is not the way how the world works. But this is the 17th century, people kill people for the most flimsiest reason, at least in TVB series. He tortured himself for years by the ultimate torture tool, loneliness until he met Wan Yee. he shouldn't have but he fell for her. But how could he a Ha fall for a Wan? Well, look at it this way. All his life he was alone and lonely, then came in this young nice girl who was apologetic of what her uncles and father did, cooked, cleaned, knitted for him. And for those moments that he really forgot about his revenge and hatred, at least put it aside for awhile, he saw in that woman a hope of a chance of happiness. And this is a guy desperate for happiness, because how much can one wallow in hatred? Forever? And so he let go of his hatred, since he won anyway...daughter in love and pregnant with the child of the enemy is not a very welcoming thing for the Wan family. But tragedy struck, and he was hurt beyond help, and his beloved died, forced to death by her very own father and secretly buried, that only her sister, Wan Sin knew of the burial place, whilst our hero..we never knew what happened to him until around tape 11 when Yuen Sing Chi, a boy whose fate almost pararelled his, but the only difference between the boy and Ha Suet yee is that Yuen Sing Chi is naturally giving person who could never really hate a person. Ha Suet Yee has a degree in Hatred, but then he earned his MAsters in Forgiveness and is on his way to PHD in happiness when he ultimately met Wan Yee lookalike, Wan SIn, who has now grew up into a rather ravishing lady(though the same actress played both roles, kudos to TVB for making Wan Sin appeared as the more sophisticated and independant one). Too many many many trials and tribulations before this guy realises that he has to accept Wan Sin's love, since this woman was willing to put up with his sometimes terrible temper, cold aloof manner and "I don't care less about you" attitude that could be frustrating. but he was willing to die for her by exchanging himself and marrying that crazy and insane Ho Hung Yuet in exchange for the safety of his daughter and Wan Sin. And when the woman was willing to die with him when he took the poison and tricked(almost didn't want to) Ho into kissing him, he himself was poisoned and Wan Sin kissed him to accompany him even into eternity (but wouldn't Wan Yee be waiting there? I do wonder if there is Crimson Sabre 2: The Afterlife, what would the sis say to sharing one husband?). He decided it was time to let go of the past, like he let go of his hatred of the Wans for Wan yee, he let go of his mourning period of Wan Yee, for Wan Sin.
Important Strain In The DNA
That would be Yuen Sing Chi, a very important role in this series that shows to us the difference between Ha Suet Yee and this guy though they may come from similiar tragedy-filled background. As I have explained adequately at the above Plot section (retitled "Education & Background") Yuen Sing Chi is your typical Jin Yong hero character. Lots of friends, great kung fu potential, becams leader of too many sects, garners the respect even from the harshest critics with his warmth and willingness to help, though came from a sad background but always remains positivity and helpfullness, full of goodness and too kind for us all to believe. But he fell for Ah Gau, only to realise she ain't Ah Gau, she's the princess!But yet, for only a moment of dilemma(like 10 minutes TVB time), he forgave her family and all hatred was gone and he nursed her back to health when her hand was accidentally chopped off by her deranged father the day his kingdom fell. He even treated her extra special, though way before he knew of her true reasons for helping the useless king, although she had purposely but with no other choice killed his childhood friend. Was he angry? yes, at the wrong person that was CHing Ching who was falsely accused of killing her by the very person who was killed when in her dying moments, she said to Big Brother yuen that she saw the back figure of the killer and she was dressed like ChinG Ching but it was AH GAu dressed as Ching Ching to trick Yuen SIng Chi into a temple to try to kill him but ahhhhhhh...she couldn't.......Anyway, even after he knew the truth, he who swore that he would kill the killer ,instead well...he treated her extra nice. When her hands was chopped off and they all realised that Ah Gau was doing all those bad stuff like spreading false rumours and etc was actually doing so to help her father in rebuilding the empire, well..everything was forgotten. Not even the death of that childhood friend was remembered and to think that that girl used to feed him rice when he was depressed as a little kid, without fail for every day for a few months and cheered him when he was sad. Anyway, at last Yuen made a decision to assist Lee Chi Seng, but realised what an empty shell that guy was as a king. Ever seen a book with really nice cover, great colours, beautiful fonts that has the greatest potential to be a great book based on its very powerful title alone? Well Lee Chi Seng was such a book. but in the end, he was NATO (No Action Talk Only). He not only took away the beloved wife of General Ng Sam Kwai that is Chinese beauty Chan Yuen Yuen, he sacked his most faithful general and devoted all of his time to spending the days with that new concubine of his. That caused the unseen Ng Sam Kwai to open the doors for the Qing and at last, he bacame a king for less than a hundred days. And that my friends, is the contents of the book, which is basically nothing worthwhile, like Lee Chi Seng himself. And a dissapointed Yuen went away to explore the world with Ching Ching, but he would have hoped it to be Ah Gau. But....well read below..
Potential Health Risks
Induces "Boring Till Wanted To Sleep " Disorder
True. First of all the way the writers handled the romance between Ching Ching, Yuen and Ah Gau. If Moonlight was confusing in the love dept, this would be either blood vommiting or snooze inducing, depend on you actually. To me it's snooze inducing. It was boring! It was sooooooo obvious who Yuen loves, it was Ah Gau/Princess Cheung Ping. Ching Ching was just an eyesore, to add a bit of a non existant drama! Yuen doesn't love Ching Ching, he feels obligated to treat her nicely because :
1. She is his "father", saviour cum mentor's daughter
2. He likes her, for unknown reasons and think of her as though unreasonable
and spolit but still cute
3. He never had a sister I guess but had a best friend
4. Pity perhaps because with her looks and attitude no guys would want her
5. Uncle Ha trusts him with his daughter so he has a responsiblity to take care of her
6. He's a really nice guy who can't say NO! to her. I mean he can't even say No to his heart when he was falling for his enemy's daughter though he didn't know THAT yet.
And the real reason why i said he does not love her even for one bit is because at the end, he saw Ah Gau again, now a one armed nun. He still looked at her with great longing. And when Ah Gau said no to him, though Ching Ching tried to persuade her to say yes, he looked genuinely hurt. I mean HURT in such big rad coloured capital letters. Almost in tears. i mean if you're Ching Ching how would you feel? you ain't second best honey coz you don't exist in his heart! Well Ching Ching realised that and at last, like Wan Sin they both realsied that the men that they possess may not love them the most but they the women will be the ones spending the rest of their lives with these guys, so in a way they will love them, the women. BUT my point is they may love these girls but they're not in love with them. No passion man. When Ha looked at Wan Yee, he would hug her and well, do everything else that is intimate in my dictionary(like forgiving her family, letting go of his hatred, taking her to holidays, remembering and pining for her for everyday for 16 YEARS) and like Yuen, forgiving her dad, rescuing her, risked his life by going into the palace to steal a stupid flute that was later broken into two by a deliberate Ching Ching to hurt him so that he could have one good real reason to go running to Ah Gau, wanting her even when she lost one arm, hugging her, almost kissing her, looking at her with this passionate longing eyes, looking like his whole family died again when she said no to him, wanting her even when she was a nun!....wow, if I am a woman, i want to be Ah GAu. So Successful. that guy will remember her as the love he almost had but couldn't. But she too, in the very last LAST scene of this series, almost regretted her actions and looked away at Yuen who was on this boat sailing away. She was hiding and looking at him go away. She wanted him but she couldn't..because of her father(he did helped that stupid short term king into invading her home), her handicap (one arm kinda ugly in her opinion), self pity(felt that he deserved better like Ching Ching), tired of love(love stopped her from killing him and thus lead him to leading the rebel army into her home) and shame(for doing all those bad stuff and killing his childhood friend and almost framing Ching Ching). I know.....sadddddddd....
Induces "What The?!@*%^&" Disorder
This is series has one of the most frustrating aspect in all TVB series. The casting decision. First of all, I will admit this much, Charmaine ain't that bad, because I have seen someone worse than her in this series alone, which was rare because usually she has the privilege to be surrounded by marvellous actors...I think I have said this before. Anyway, the worst casting decision would be to give such an important role of Ha Ching Ching to an unknown actress.Sure I encourage TVb to cast unknowns because you never know, Stephen Chow was an unknown and look where he is today. And before you go asking me "yeah Funn, where IS he?", listen please. Oh yeah, before you listen, do read my ScreenPlay review to get the latest news on Stephen. Anyway, TVb just cast the wrong woman. I have seen Au Chi Yan hosting K-100, I was not impressed. In fact I said "My God, K-100 is like an eating disorder programme, one host thinner than the other!", when I first saw her. I know CHing Ching isn't supposed to be prettier than Ah Gau because then why would our Yuen would fall for Ah Gau at FIRST SIGHT? But does TVb have to give us such an...I have never really agreed with people using mean words because I ain't Miss Universe myself BUt I have gotta use this for this one...UGLY? My family said she looks like a drug addict. I didn't think so but as the series progresses, and when I do notice her black circles around her eyes, her really thin frame and breastless body, plus her no energy type of walking around, and really horrible way of talking five words and then pausing for the longest second before continuing with her precious lines, yes, i do agree, she looks like she has a serious health problem. And that in my opinion, biased as it may be, however much based on looks alone and not acting wise, Au Chi yan is totally wrong for the role of Ching Ching. CHing Ching to be is a stubborn girl, 16 years old so a bit childish, very unreasonable but way street-smarter than our Yuen who had live his life on top of a mountain until he became a young adult, and she is those kiasu type, won't admit she is wrong. And from there on she is supposed to have matured after she met her father, in fact matured enough to see through the lies she has been told all her life and enough sense to accept her father, and because of love she became a more responsible person, someone that you would like though you may hate at first....Au Chi Yan does not possess all that qualities, based on looks alone. IF Ching Ching has been abused by the Wan family all her live, fed opium all her life, then yes, she is perfect for the role of a no energy type of Ching Ching. But Ching Ching is like your Princess Huai Yu, too much energy and a total opposite from the supposedly sophisticated Ah Gau, who is more ladylike and feminine but with a dark secret. Au Chi Yan does not possess all that, BASED SOLELY ON LOOKS ALONE. Now what about basing my analysis on her performance alone? Ok, so let us imagine she is CHing Ching in looks, however my conclusion is the same. The moment she appears on the screen at tape 6, I switched off the TV and did not continue watching the series about a month later. I wouldn't want to watch such a low quality series , even if my Kong Wah is in it. But I did give her a chance, and at times her character seems so much like Chiew Man of HSDS, someone you do not like but she is actually a very nice and trusted friend. But well, that is based solely on character alone.
Her "Brother Yuen.................I am trying to tell you.........Ah Gau isnotwhoyouthinksheis..............there is........somethingwrongwithher.......don't trust her!!" way of delivering her lines.
If you're thinking.."My God Funn, your typing skills worse than ever!", nope I deliberately typed like that because she talked like. every dot is a precious second to the viewers, so try to talk like I typed and that was how she delivered her lines. Even William Shatner talked faster than her though he may have a tendency to pause for the longest second also. That irritated me like....HELL! And when she is angry, she stomped her feet. When she is unhappy, she stomped her feet. When she is unreasonable, she stomped her feet. Do you see a pattern here? I beg TVB please no more series for this actress until she gains some weight, go for plastic surgery, go to acting school for 3 more years and act in ATV for 10 more years before giving her such an important role like this one. And don't even let me begin on that chemistry thing. She has NONE with Gordon. And that classic scene of Ha Suet Yee finally meeting his daughter, well that was like the worst anti-climax ever , so blahhhhhh....so bland...so nothing...so funny bceause poor Kong Wah having to act opposite her...so unreal and so...just so anti-climax. Some thought she was cute, but what they saw was the characterisation. Not the execution of it. Call me picky but i do think if TVB continues with this kind of half baked casting decision, I wouldn't want to rent their tapes anymore. Torture me with Princess Huai Yu, though the story stinks, at least the acting is better and the actresses much more plesant to my eyes.
Induces Migraine (Serious Form)
Again the casting decision, but because the above was so bad, this one seemed like an Oscar winner to me.
Let us just begin with the fact that Charmaine is a very pretty actress. Feminine and desirable as your type of cute soft spoken girlfriend. But in this series, she fails, not big time, but fails nevertheless to grip me with her performance with potentially the role that could have launched her as an actress, not just another popular tvb artist.
Based solely on looks, she was ok as Ah Gau but not as Princess Cheung Ping. SOme people are pretty, some has that extra oomph that seperates them away from the rest and distinguishable by their sophisticated and high class looks. Charmaine does not strike me as an intelligent princess, though she does give me an impression that she could be a compassionate person. As Ah Gau, she is fine, because nothing much in looks department. But we all know Ah Gau is Cheung Ping in disguise and TVB should have looked beyond just a pretty face and give use somebody that has the quality of a princess. Like if she just stand there you know there is something about that girl, maybe her feminine ways, maybe her aristocratic looks. But Charmaine looked like an ordinary Missy to me, not a princess. More so a strong willed, independant, sophisticated and troubled princess. That troubled part,she is good but Cheung Ping is not always in her FROWN mode. That is what Charmaine does best. Smile happily or frown, more to the point, a worried frown. When she is unhappy,she pouts and frowns, when she is angry she pouts and frowns, when she is really worried, she pouts and frowns. See a pattern here? I have said this in my Moonlight review so I shall not say much because I really do not want to be accused of Charmaine bashing and biasness because I could be biased. Because there are several scenes in here she could have done much more. Let's look at my short thesis below on the best actors around;
I admire those who can act well. I worship those that can just with their eyes or body language. When an actor is given a scene to do, I personally feel the most difficult scene would be a scene without words, just the camera on your facem showing your full emotions on your face reflecting on that situation. Kong Wah did that excellently, in Happy Ever After his hatred for his mother in that one short silent scene where he was carrying Nadia out of the palace, thatw as classic, or his disppointed look at Monkey King when he killed someone in JTTW. Or Gordon Lam in Plain Love II when he was being scolded all he could do was siad nothing and walked away, looking and walking like a coward with low self esteem and confidence. Or for females, perhaps let's look at Esther Kwan in the recent Legendary Four Aces where she looked at her happier twin with envy and hatred,. Not one word sopken in thsoe precious few minutes and they gave their best there. I admire them for just that. Remember Robert De Niro's eyes when he was listening to the stories from the young men whom he knew from the orphanage in.. I can't remember the title but it had Brad Pitt in it. Oh yes, Sleep . There was no words though we knew someone was telling him something. the camera was just on his face and there was soft music and the way he looked, you knew that those boys had suffered much in juvenile detention camps. That was where I started admiring this veteran actor because he could act with his eyes. Like the disppointed Stephen Chow who refused to let go of the script in King of Comedy, or even Chow Yun Fat in Police Cadet (which part I forgot) where he held the cake meant to celebrate it with someon ehe is in love with but that woman was with Simon Yam. Silence, and yet so much joy or disppointment based solely on their body language and eyes.
Now, Charmaine. She tried very very hard and has improved very much from her days of Time Off and that dreaded DIF IV. She is more tolerable here than her super annoying and mega noisy performance in Moonlight. Here she rarely shouts. She rarely even act like she's acting. true, in here she got to be just good old her, as Ah Gau. But as PRincess Cheung Ping, looks alone she may not be Cheung Ping and she does not have that elegance of an aristrocat, but frankly though most hated Charmaine as a person which is why they say they like CHing Ching more, I frankly like Cheung Ping more. This is one difficult role to portray, admitedly. Because this girl is caught between three worlds, one is her father's, then there's her beloved Yuen's world and then her own world. She has her own ideals, and own dreams. She wants to spend the rest of her life with Yuen and every waking moment seeing him, but at the same time she can't abandon her roots much to the dismay of Yuen who did not understand why simply because he didn't know her real identity. She knew her father was useless, she knew the Ming Dynasty was ending, that there was not much to do.S he killed not because she wanted to, not because she really had to but because there was no other way. She didn't have to kill but she must because that was the way things were then. She may not even like her privileged life and would've opted for a more simnpler lifestyle. It pained her to see her kingdom fell, her father despondent, ministers running away, the palace her home in disarray and whatever she hold dear to gone in just one day. Losing her arm was not the worst pain she felt, but losing the very place that gave her the identity of her life, as a Princess. She tried hard but she couldn't save her kingdom. She never blamed her father because she knew her father was a good father, eventhough he was not a good king. A weak king with a strong willed daughter who was actually weak inside her. her mind told her she must do a certain act but always she let her heart rule and that was why she couldn't bring herself to kill Yuen. She tried denying her feelings but couldn't and her happiest momentw as being trapped with yuen under a deep cave and the idea of getting out of that place was something she did not enjoy. At last, she let go of everything.S he wanted to die but after meeting a man of wisdom, she became a nun and lived her life in solitary mode, finding ways to get her Ming Kingdom back. But we all know, like in the final scene, she wanted to be with yuen but though being handicapped may have been a reason for her to deny her feelings but my guess is that she loved Yuen but sometimes some things are not meant to be. Her father's Kingdom was after toppled with the help of the over enthusiastic Yuen and Yuen's father was wrongfully killed by her useless father. Somehow thye may be in love in their own little world, in a bigger sense they can never be hapy together because there will always be thorns in their heart. Though teh series never said that, but I see it that way and that was why she said no to him, though Yuen who may not see so far into the future didn;t want to. Ansd which was why in the end Ching Ching will be the person that Yuen will spend his waking hours talking to, loving and will eventually have children with. Ching Ching knew though she may have him, that was just not a victory because Yuen will forvere remember Ah gau. He may treat Ching Ching well, he may be a good husband and a good father to her children, but in his heart, he will always and will always love only Ah Gau. And she accepted that fcat, finally, as long as his heart has her however tiny that may be.
Quite a good role isn't it? BUT Charmaine screwed it up in some pivotal scenes. With Gordon she's old Charmaine, with THAT voice. With her father, she is new Charmaine with a powerful voice but still chicken ish. Which is why I enjoyed her Cheung Ping more than Ah Gau though I may have said what I have said above. But in scenes like almost final scene, everybodyw as running away in the palace, and her father ordered the gueards to kill anybody running out of the palace and she was walking at the main hall and quickly stopped the rampage killing and told them to leave. And a soldier stopped and begged her to leave as soon as possible. At that monet, there was cried and screams and some good music, but Cheung Ping was silent because she knew that was the end and there was little hope and probably no hope at all left for her and her father. She slowly walked down the steps, heavily, and looked despondent, looked lost and defeated. Thatw as what she was supposed to look like. But Charmaine only limited to worried forwn even in the most dire situation in here has the worried frown. And nothing else. Her eyes was watery, but empty watery, And that was disappointing because she did not look diapposinted, defeated, pained. And when she walked back into th epalace only to be accidentally chopped off her hand by her father, though I agree being shiocked would prbably numb the physical pain, but her expression there was just liek mosquito bite. It was again disappointing. And when Yuen came in, there she goes again, old Charmaine with THAT voice. This time a bit sore and cough-ish because she was crying. For a momnet I thought there was hope, she could do much more, she was shedding THAT voice and THAT way od delivedring her lines, and giving us new layers of the new improved Charmaine, but that two scens and countless other than I do not have the space nor energy to write in here proved to me one thing; she is still the old Charmaine. And that I find disappointing. She has improved but to what extent? Which will be the reason why i will say what I will say below after the . symbol to end my discussion on Charmaine's performance that I feel was slightly better than her past, way better than THAT Au Chi yan but still not good enough for me as on 2nd February 2001;
"TVB should have cast another girl for the role of Princess Cheung Ping, someone that looked burdened with loads of pain and secrets , someone who looked wiser beyond her age, someone like Ada Choi but if only Ada Choi gain 50 pounds, or alternatively, a younger actress, someone new and who could ACT, I am not sure if TVB had an audition thing for this series but I feel they should've auditioned someone for this role..if Cecilia Cheung had a better voice, I would have said she would be perfect for this role because Cecilia could act, is very beautiful but ahhhh...VOICE problems. the Taiwan counterpart, there could only be two people, for the older one Yue Ling because she is my favourite actress and Vicky Zhao because she could act. But she would' ve been perfect as CHing Ching."
Induces Migraine (Mild Form)
Wong Wai as the useless Sung Jing? Puh-leaaseeeee... the Asian James Earl Jones that could be evil, could be mean, must be general/king/high powered man but as useless king? Wow!What bad casting decision man! Wrong wrong wrong and thus fail, Fail, FAIL!
Induces "Eye Sore" condition
Lovely scenery, ugly costumes and hairdos except for Melissa Ng's Wan Sin. Charmaine's Princess is always in the same clothing, and her hairstyle as Ah Gau was simply so 80's do in TVB time. Ugly ugly ugly. Like the TVB Costume and Make up department went on strike or what?
It's boring. You could skip a few tapes and still you won't miss much unless you want to watch every movement of the tired looking Ching Ching.
Induces "Pitiful" Glances
For the China actors. mean this series boasted that this was the collaboration between China dn HK. Apart from China sceneries, which was simply breathtaking, and 2-3 China actors in the front line, where are all the china actors? Can't they find a decent China actress to play Ching Ching or even Cheung Ping? 1 Billion people and still not good enough for TVB standard?
Induces Conflicting Emotions Leading to Potential Split Emotions Disorder
On one hand, I feel Gordon Lam was vet good. he is a great actor, now that I am watching Plain Love II again. He was very good. But mostly I kinda have this feeling that he is wrong for this role. Too old to be Ha Suet Yee's "adopted son" and yet no THAT old to play Yuen. Not good looking enough, though cute but too street smart looking. And when he wasn't street smart looking he looked too cheeky and smart aleck for his own good. He could play a righteous man, a coward man who finally found his voice of confidence, a good man, any man but not a heroic man. Innocent maybe not a dai-hup (Big Hero) to me.I wanted Benny Chan and Roger Kowk if he was younger. If Nicholas Tse did not have this look of "bad boy" all over him, he could've been an ideal Yuen Sing Chi but then they would have to find younger looking girls. Felix Wong who was in the original was perfect for the role because he has this honest heroic look. Who else that could play this role based solely on looks? Nahhh, I would vote for Benny Chan. But frankly, this other part of me, my heart says that Benny wouldn't be as good as Gordon. But however good Gordon may have been, the overall end package of this series was destined for nothing but a few ripples, No splash or anything dramatic because it is not very good.
Induces Anger and "Wah Lau Eh...." Reactions
In terms of characterisation, the strongest would have to go to Emily Kwan's Ho Hung Yuet, that crazy woman. i pity Ha Suet Yee. I mean so he was wrong to cheat her and slept with her and used her and then abandoned her. i mean as a woman, comeone, if you're guy thinking and just imagining for a second you're a woman you too would feel great anger. But I mean come on woman, 16 eyars and your'e still THAt angry? Nope, she wasn't angry anymore but rather she wanted Ha because she didn't want anything else. She didn't want power, she didn't want money adn treasure map, not even beauty, but she wanted that guy to marry her. that was it. She met a sad end because she had a sad life but how much can we pity her for not being able to let go? Just imagine if Ching Ching couldn't let go of Yuen Sing Chi THAT way, or Ah Gau couldn't stop herself from going mad for refusing Yuen,ahhhhh.....pointless argument I know but still a good point. love. This is a series about love in the first half and the ending last tape. how much one would do for love, how much one is willing to sacrifice for love, though the sacrifice was pointless and unappreciated. But like I said in the plot thing, these are all just distractions from the bigger picture.
Induces "What A Stupid Fella He totally Deserved His End" Emotions.
Lee Chi Seng who had good men dying for his cause and good citizens who cheered his arrival ruled for onklky 100 days the most! I mean what?! You know why only 100 days? He rather have the company of a woman who belonged to Ng Sam Kwai than to rule his kingdom that wads won with sweat, blood and years of dedication. I mean what a stupid fella! Totally deserved to be kicked out by the QIng. But what was even more ridiculous was the minsiters that advised uim. They wanted more and so they advised him wrongly and in the end, the QIng came in and the MAnchurian take over their posts. I mean how far sighted could they be when they stashed away a few taels of gold for themselves? Stupid stupid stupid people.
Potential Antibodies against Potential Health Risks
Kong Wah was super cool in here and super good in first five tapes. I mean as a person you would admire Kong Wah and his work because I eman he is one lucky guy. Doesn;'t have to do much, always kings or heros or well, lots of women and always sitting or standing sprouting words of widsom, little flying running. Buta s an actor, well pity him. I do. because his Ha Suet Yee was really attarctive and dangerously sexy,a nd then very complicated and thus very interesting and better than Yuen's story but tape 10 onwards he has little to do but to just stand. i know i know lost his kung fu and all so why didn't they just kill off his character? Because Kong Wah was in it, Like Melissa Ng was in one role and then she died and you would say "Ai yah, she will be the sister lar", which was true. So predictable right? And thus though Kong Wah is my favourite actor and he was really good I wished his character just die and not return and do nothing. But if there is a reason to watch Crimson Sabre, let him be your sole reason.
Gordon Lam was good except......well, read above. As if I was not too "cheong hei" already("longwinded")
Emily Kwan was good as that Kiasu shameless insane crazy disfigured Ho Hung Yuet.
The young Yuen Sing Chi was really very impressive. I really liked that boy, his anger, his angst, his sadness. A very good young performer. And he knows Kung Fu too! Let me think..doesn't he looked like the young monkey God in JTTW II? In fact what about JTTW I?
Melissa Ng was ok lar as Wan Yee but she was too old. Can't find another actress that looks a bit like her? A bit difficult I agree. She is unique in looks. Anyway as Wan Sin she was better, at time she was rebelllious with Ha Suet yee but because she loved him she tolerated his cold aloof manner. I call that rude man! Anyway, she is really very aristoricat looking you know, so elegant, yet strong, not like Charmaine so fragile like a porcelien doll. And in here she is very beautiful as Wan Sin. Good performance but nothing much to do in here.
Everybody like Evergreen Mak, King Kong and all else other tban the noted few above was ok but nothing much to do. i mean for such a long series and such an epic-ish series plenty of people had walk on roles. Nothing much to do.
You may have noticed that I did not mention Favourite this or favourite that.Because no favourite this or that mah! I simply enjoyed the first five tapes so favourite five tapes 1-5, episodes 1-10 but therafter, well you can switch off the TV. Not even Gordon could save this series from ultimate boredom and the worst act by a viewer...fastforwarding. Depending on who you hate more, you could be fastforwarding irrelevant people or Charmaine or Au Chi Yan. Depends. But my verdict is watch this at your own risk. This would have my vote for the worst Jin Yong adaption though I was told the story by Jin Yong was the better ones amongst other Jin Yong stories. PITY.I do wonder how Jin Yong feel? I mean to change his story I guess he is already pissed but to have such bad performances and story plot, reflecting him badly, I do wonder, vomit blood perhaps? I blame it on TVB. Bad bad TVB. Bad bad series. Don't waste your good money beyond five tapes and if you must watch Tape 10 and the last two tapes. Andf clever TVB, not 34 episodes, not 36 but 35. Waste 1 hour tape money also.
Kill off Ha Suet Yee in a dramatic manner or if you want him to return, let there be a miracle and that he could fight or something. Where are all the chereographers for the kung fu scenes? On strike or went to StarEast? Because the Kung Fu here were really boring and unimaginative. Nothing but swing swing fly fly and cling cling klang klang. Where's the imaginative Kung Fu in SGDD or Flying Fox? Reality Kung Fu is it? Oh puh-leaseeeee...if reality the Princess would have killed Yuen a million years ago.Hold a real audition, look beyong TVB for actresses, pearhaps look for them in China is you must, change the script, edit out at least 5 episodes, make more costumes, ask someone to please adjust Charmaine's loop sided wig during breaks, ask someone to please scrub Gordon's face that was a bit too oily looking and please comb his hair, give reasons for Kong Wah to smile that million mega watt smile, sack Au CHi Yan or permanently transfer her away, far far far far away.....hey, they did that! Hip hip hurray!! And give a warning letter to Charmaine, one more of that pity frown worried look and THAT voice, you're out!
Relevant Background Check/History
Not a hit.
The HK version is the edited version whereby 5 episodes were cut out to make the series shorter and I guess faster paced. If only they did the same with the worldwide release. I wonder what did they edited out? I know for sure we can never get to see that steamy scene between Emily Kwan and Kong Wah.....why of why????
Au Chi Yan is now a K-100 host and Charmaine as annoying as ever.Rumour has it that Gordon Lam may be leaving TVB, but before he leaves, there is still Plain Love III. I mean first on land and farmers, second one on tea, thrid one on wine with Charmaien again so if there is a fourth one, what? Tofu? Soya Bean?
Gordon may be living TVb in 2 eyars time when his contract ends. Kong Wah does not deny the possibility of going back to ATV or somewhere else.
Have you listened to the opening theme? By Hacken Lee? Tired song man! I mean no energy at all. But the last one, occasionally played in some tapes, was sung by Kong Wah himself in his recently released LP. Nice song but I admit, he's not a fantastic singer. Got mandarin and chinese version. both we also have it here in E-Buzz. Look below you? Got a frame right? Click Songs and voila, an mebedded realPlayer and also a choice of pop up Real Player, Click one, BUT it will take some time to load. If your screen freezes, don't do anything but wiat a few seconds longer for it to load.
And some of you have requested for more pics so I went hunting and found TVB official pics of Kong Waha s Ha Suet yee! In Pictures. there also have screenshot taken by Seagull herself, so do enjoy them. CLick the link to the pics for bigger pictures. Takes a while to load also.
Don't want this review? Too long? Hey, your'e already here what...nope? You did what i did to Crimson Sabre? you skipped? really don't want my one anymore? I am hurt........well there's always Tammy's shorter review on the series, and also a comparison with the old one written by Nath. Very good one. But...but don't leave me like this, I have like 10 gigabyte of comments for you to read....don't leaavveeeeeeeeeee...nooooooooo........
Depends on how you see it. You could read my Princess Huai Yu review in Taiwan section for more on Ming Dynasty and the fall of it but I guess you won't so I will write whetever I know about Ming Dynasty here. But I need to clarify.....Jin Yong is very good at presenting a factual incident with fictional characters that seemed so real you would think that they do exist. Like Wai Siu Bo.....anyway, sorry to disappoint you, no Ha Suet Yee, Yuen Sing Chi, Ha Ching Ching, but there could be a Cheung Ping. Legend has it the last Ming King had a beautiful and smart daughter who could have been a good King oif only she was a he ...anyway, the kingdom fell and he accidentally chopped off her hands during one killing rampage of his concubines like in this series and she lived a secluded life since as a travelling one armed nun. But more about Lee Chi Seng and Ming king which was real. You can learn something from TVB series but learn the right ones I guess. So whatever I will be writing below are my own digging of the historical accounts that may have many faces to it, not just one. I could be wrong but i based it on my research. So a bit about the Dynasty.
(All sources taken from Internet sites and the pictorial book title "100 Chinese Emperors")
Founded in 1368 by Father of Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang who toppled the Yuan Dynasty founded by Genghis Khan's grandson Kublai Khan who actually united the chole of CHina and adopted a more cultured way of governing and ruling his dynasty. Zhu was born into a poor farmer family, and had little to eat or to cloth himself when he was a little kid. When he was 16, his whole family died because of the plague of drought and many other tragedies. Then he became a monk and travvelled around the country. 3 years later he retuned and renounced his monk hood and joined the army to rebel against the Yuan Dynasty, under the leader named Guo Zixing who died . Later Zhu became the Vice-Premier and Vice-Marshall to a new King named Han Shantong. Zhu is a strict disciplinarian and people respected him because he had a habit of opening and distributing food supplies to the hungry people. But in 1363, his rebel master was defeated and he formed his own rebel army and in fcat formed a feudal system of governing his rebel army and territory. He won battles after battels and proclained himself the King of Wu. Later years he decided to chase the Mongols (Yuan) out ocf CHina and to put the long story short, he succeeded in 1368. Becaus ehe was from the lower class, Zhu who adopted the name of Emperor Tai Zu of Ming emphasised on the people's need as his governing way. Het set free slaves, created peace and prosperity, restored lots of stuff and lived peacefully with neighboruing countries. He died of illness at age 70 in 1398. By the way, he was a very ugly man with a deformed face, protuded chin and really bad skin. Not handsome at all. What to expect, he didn't have bird's nest all his life! Anyway he set the foundation for the great Ming Dynasty.
Our King In This Series
Who would be the one who was responsible for the fall of Ming Dynasty, he was the 17th Emperor of China and did not have the talent nor stregth to rule like his great great great great great great great ancestors. Born in 1610, he was often referred to as Emperor Chingzhen, though his nmae could be Emperor Si Zong , Zhu Youjian or in this series, Sung Jing. He was the 5th son of Emperor Guang Zong (Zhu Changluo) and succeeded the corwn at age 18 in 1628. He tried to bring about reforms but with only ambition and determintion and with little will and personal strength to carry them all out, he wasn't able to crush the disattisfaction of the people due to years of eunuch control and corruption. Moreover he had the bad luck of famines in his first year of rule. He tried to be sympathetic by refusing to eat meat, etc but he forgot that his minsters were still imposing high taxes on people who can't even afford to feed themselves. Threatened by Li Zicheng(in this series Lee Chi Seng the one that Yuen Sing Chi served) to surrender his kingdom, the king issued a self-blaming decree and promised to do better. But Lee Zhi Seng was unrelentless. He sent an ultimatum to the King and will attack Beijing within 3 days but of course, he arrived a day earlier. All ministers ran away and an aunuch named Cao Huachung opened the big door and led in the army. That night the King who realised the end was inevitable ordred his empress and concubines to commit suicide and he tried to kill the princess but managed to only chopped off her left arm. He then struck the bell to summon his minsters but no one came. And so he climbed the Meishan Hill, and hanged himself on the locust tree. A suicide note was found later on and he blamed himself for the end of Ming and said that the rebels could dismember his body but please do not harm his people. His facewas covered with his long hair as he was ashamed to face his acestors in the afterlife. It was 1644 and he was only 34 eyars old. Later the rebel found 1.8 bliion taels of gold in the imperial storehouse. Which makes me wonder; what a hypocrite.
Anyway, he was a weak king. Poor guy is all that I could say.
In this series you'll encounter the characters of Wong Tai Gik and Dor Yee Kuan of the Manchurian who had their eyes on Ming Dynasty. Dor Yee Kuan was having an affair with Wong his older brother's wife and was discovered and so he killed his own big bro, became regent and put his illegitimate child born between him and that wife of his brother's as King who would later give birth to Kang Xi, that one Qing king that we all know very very well. Now my question is...REALLY?!
Well, not really. I do not know how Wong Tai Gik died, but he did died in 1643, and his eldest son Haoge and younger brother Dor Yee Kuan(Duoergun) became rivals for the crown. But hey, shouldn't the son be the king? Makes me wonder what nerve this Dor Yee Kuan had. Anyway, in a compromise which was really strange to me, they made the six year old Fulin as Emperor Shi Zu of the Qing Dynasty and Dor Yee Kuan became his advisor and temporary King. Dor led the Qing into the collapsed Ming and 6 years later, Dor Yee Kuan died of illness and 12 year old Fulin became bona fide King. He was an impressive King who advocated peaceful way of persuading the Hans to accept the Qing and did so many things, I was surpsied that he was only 23 when he died of smallpox. A very painful disease to die of. AndKang Xi became Kang Xi and the rest as they all say is history.
Now now now, don't tell me, you believed TVB's version? Well let me make a confession here... I almost did.
This is the end of my report.
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DR. FUNN LIM
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