I can't remember but definitely beyond 10 tapes/20 episodes.
Jordan Chan Siu Chun,Steven Ma Chun Wai,Lau Yoke Chui,Chan Siu Ha,Leung Siu Bing,and a lot of women in here.
What & Where
Set during the beginning of the reign of Hong Hei(Kang Xi) ,the second Emperor of the Ching Dynasty,it is essentially a tale of friendship and loyalty between two men who actually aren't on the same side by nationality and purpose but are bound by their loyalty to each other as great friends.And it is also about Wai Siu Bo's love lives.
Too much stuff happening in this serial at the same time,somehow you'll always find your way to the story but still nevertheless,basically here's the plot.
Wai Siu Bo(Jordan Chan) is the lazy but cunning son of a prostitute who has absolutely no ambition whatsoever.He has a friend and later wife in Chan Siu Ha who would do anything for him,including finding him more wives,which is too good to be true.Anyway,Chan has an adopted father who was actually an eunuch who knew the dirty secrets of the palace and therefore,ran away.But many years later,he is caught up by another eunuch that is sick with tuberculosis.The old man was killed and to cut the long story short,Chan and Wai seperated and Wai was kidnapped/forced by that old eunuch into the palace to do some work for him but somehow,during one time the eunuch became blinded and so he couldn't recognise the fact that Wai was actually his eunuch-assistant in disguise.Somehow,Wai became his eyes for everything that happens there and in there,one day,he met with another young eunuch by the name of Siu Yuen Zhi(Steven Ma) who we all know is the King,Hong Hei himself who was actually exercising in that room.They became fast and great friends as The King found a soulmate in Wai who would never lie nor give him unwanted respect and Wai found in the King his first good friend who truly believes and trust in him.During one confrontation with Aobai(the King's high ranking official who is really bad) and the KIng,only did Wai know he was the King.And so the king entrusted him with many many works to do,mostly dirty works like spying,killing,plotting and each time Wai succeeds(out of sheer luck and his own cunning abilities) and each time,the King gives him higher and higher rank until the rank of Duke,thus the title of this serial.The next step would have to make him part of the royal family,so he is first rank,and he has many many friends.At the same time,dear Wai got himself involved with many anti-Ching sect,like the Heaven and Earth Sect who appointed him the leader of the sect,so he is on both sides politically.When the King knew of this,he forced Wai to choose and thus asked him to reveal his gang members as a way of forgiveness for being a traitor whilst the Sect members wanted Wai to reveal the location of the secret Feng Shui place that hold the Ching Dynasty's vast wealth and posperity where if destroyed,that's the end of the Ching Dynasty's luck.And Wai chose to run away with his 7 wives and few children and built a false Feng Shui place and used all his own wealth amassed over the years to make it look like a treasure place.Unfortunately,the King did not see his loyalty and thought he betrayed Him and so ordered the cave to be blasted to smitherins.Would the King really kill his only true loyal servant/friend and would Wai and his family and the rebel gang escape?
What About The ....
Love lives plot of Wai?Well,also very complicated.Just know that everytime he sets his eyes on a pretty girl,he wants that girl and dear first wife,Chan Siu Ha would go running to persuade the woman to marry him.Things weren't always that easy.He made an enemy with the prettiest and his most beloved wife,Ah Oh(Leung Siu Bing) at first,and proceeded to rape her and several others,impregnated her and the poor girl had no place to go but to him.But she does realised how nice he was to her and so they fell in love.Then there's his least beloved wife,the sister of the King,Princess Kim Leng(Lau Yoke Chui) who is actually his first lover.She is spoilt but when she found out that she is really not the King's sister,she changed and tried to be reasonable.All of the wives get along very well,in fact too well.
The Why Factor
Why would Wai do so many things for the King?What would he get?Apart from money and high rank and loved by the King himself,basically he gets nothing else but danger,possible assasination and he would have died thousand of times if not for sheer luck.He is always in a very difficult situation.He could have betrayed his own Han people but yet he couldn't because he is not a traitor.He could have easily helped with the "Overthrow Ching Dynasty,Reinstate Ming Dynaty" movement,but he could not and would never betray his best friend.Frankly,one has a feeling that he feels more for the King than even his own wives.The only people he is truly loyal to and respects are the King,his sifu from that sect and another female sifu(who is actually Princess Cheung Ping,the last survivor of the Ming Dynasty royalty).The others aren't important.In fact,he could easily kill a person or lie about everything than to betray these 3 people he truly cared for.Quite a confusing fella if you ask me.
The Most Dramatic Scene
The ending,where Wai was trapped in that false Ching treasure cave,with his gang members from the Sect,his wives and children,his wealth and money and the King himself,with the great misunderstanding before them and a canon that will blast the cave any seconds now.
The Best Couple
You might expect to see Wai with any of his wives here but the truly best couple in this serials is the King and Wai himself.You would wish they just marry each other and run far far away but well,they're just the best buddy in the whole world.What would Wai not to do for the King,except maybe dying?He even took all his own wealth to buy jewelries to build a false cave rather than show his gang members the real one(which will remain a secret till the end) and though he is a coward,but he would never hesitate using his own body as a shield for the King from any attacks,many many times.He has the greatest respect for the King not as a King but as a friend.He never saw him as the King.Then it is no wonder why the King loved him so that when several times Wai was kidnapped,the King would order people to search for him.He even overlooked the fact that Wai had taken bribes and stolen money from other officials because he is too loyal to the King.He entrusted him in his deepest secrets and during one time when Wai exiled to a small hidden island with his wives for many years,the King looked for him and personally went there to persuade him to go home to serve the King.But somehow,people will grow up.During one time after many years of seperation,Wai realised that the King who was his best friend has now grown up to be truly a King and there is a barrier between them.So you can't blame them for being angry with each other at the end of this serials.But even in times of extreme danger where the King fainted in that cave and the cave was falling apart and Wai has this anything-proof vest on him,he took it off to put,not onto his wives/children's body but on the King.And the King wouldvhe forgiven him for anything even being a traitor but it was too late.Wai had supposedly died in the blast but the King did not believe it aniewent in search for him.And Wai saw him and almost walked right into the arms of the King but his wives stopped him.You know,it could almost be a love story.
The Most Difficult Person To Be
You might say Wai's character is a very difficult person to be at that times because well,he is always in danger but I would have to say the young King himself.Not only he was a very young King,his dynasty is also very new and vulnerable to attacks from foreigner,own rebels and also corrupt officials.It is not easy being the King and that is why Wai sympathises with the young king's predicament.Luckilly,Wai is there to lessen the burden of the King in many many ways.
The Most Missed Person
The wives and children of Hong Hei the King.You knew he married and have children because he said so but well,you never get to see them.Not even once.
The Most Annoying People
His wives,especially Lau Yoke Chui.They're so noisy,too easy and way too many to handle.And Chan Siu Ha's character is too good to be true.If you have a wife like that you should count your blessing.Not only is she not jealous of the prospect of fighting with 6 other women for her husband's atention,she wouldn't even not mind not being the first of the seven!
The Best Scenes
Any scenes that has the King and Wai together,whether they're plotting to kill someone or just kidding around.Classic scenes of pure friendship.But somehow,you can't help but notice,one of them is always slightly bent down as a sign of respect but the King always let Wai get away with formalities when they're alone.
And any scenes that has Wai with his officials buddy are an added bonus..
Is it worth Renting
Yes,just for the sheer fun of it.Plus if you're a fan of Jordan Chan and Steven Ma,almost every scene has their faces in it.And if you like the girls,plenty in here.
Is is BETTER than…
Well,the original Duke Of Mountdeer that had Tony Leung and Andy Lau in it?People say nope coz that was a classic.I've never seen that one before so I can't comment on it but frankly,I like this present one.But I am sure Tony Leung would be excellent as the cunning Wai and Andy Lau as the wise young King.
Secret Battle of The Majesty from ATV with Kong Wah?Well,that was a different emphasis.In there no Wai and Hong Hei is a very old man.It is more on Yung Ching his son and successor and the battle within the palace.This serial is more on outsider's threats.
Who Is The More Loyal Servant/Friend
Perhaps we should compare the recent friendships between the King and his servants in both ATV and TVB serials with Wai Siu Bo and his King to see who is the luckier man to have a King really as a friend.The more well known are....
Kong Wah and Bobby Au Yeung in Happy Ever After
One is a wise but sufferring King in love and another his loyal chef cum friend.What would Bobby not do for the King?He almost falsely married the King's mistress and had to admit that the pregnancy was his own undoing causing his own beloved wife(Marianne Chen) to go into serious fits of anger,almost caused both of their lives.And when the King was drugged into well,being a very bad and useless King,he almost gave up his own life to cook whilst he was seriously sick so that the King would eat the cure to the poison drug and just wake up.They are the best of friends as witnessed that even in their 90's they're still great friends.But,we all can see that one will always be the King and another,always the loyal servant.
Kong Wah's Yong Ching and Nin Kang Yew in Secret Battle Of The Majesty
One is a cunning,wise and desperate Prince who wants to be a King and wnother,a lowly servant that changed camp because of gratefullness.The Prince would never have been King if not for this loyal servant who taught him the finer ways to salvage a hopeless situation,like killing his own father,own brothers,own sisters,own mother,crush all enemies.Ok,so he wasn't such a good example of a friend.But this loyal servant who always thought of the King as a friend realised that he is always the servant,never the friend.And when the King forced him to be demoted,instead of rebelling with his army fellas,he chopped off the heads of those who even thought about rebelling against the King.And when the King asked him to drink the poison-wine,he drank it,gratefully and died as the ever the loyal servant.
Louis Koo and David Cheung in War And Remembrance
One a young wise,cunning King in peril whilst the other an experienced swordsman who became the young King's tutor in the ways to govern wisely.When the King told them that he was in danger,this old man rushed to save him only to be tricked into a ploy to destroy the rebellions once and for all.And this man who thought he found a good King in that young man he had helped and saved countless of times before, killed himself in deep regret as he saw his own comrades died one by one by gunshot wound.
So,the only conclusion I can say is that Bobby and Jordan's character of the loyal servants were lucky.At least the King treated them as friends but we all do know,one will always be the King and the other always a servant,even if the servant thought of the King as a friend.
Since it was a remake of an original classic,comparisons is always unavoidable.People complained that the wives in the original series are much more prettier.Frankly,I beg to differ.Sheung Tin Ngor prettier than Leung Siu Bing,Chan Siu Ha and Lau Yoke Chui?No way.Of course,looks can never be compared with acting abilities.Now that is a differeent category altogether.
Poor Steven Ma.When this serial was shown on TV,Jordan got most of the praises and Steven the most and harshest comments.Acting is wooden,even when he was wearing the emporer's clothes,he didn't even looked like it,how torturing his acting was.About the acting dept,I do agree,he 's not great but not that bad actually.So he may not have the nobility of a King,his mannerisms is more like a common man and his speech is too un-king like but I have to agree,that when he is wearing the yellow robe,he DOES look like those Manchurian Kings that I saw in the old paintings.He's fair,thin and young ,and that fits the bill exactly.Not all Kings look like Kong Wah and Louis Koo.Actually,not even one.
You see those hairstyle of those Ching Dynasty men?Well,in this serials,Jordan And Steven had it right and yet everybody else didn't.Why then must the two principal characters shave their heads whilst the other didn't?Either do it like the original serials or do it like Happy Ever After series.Confusing to me.
On the historical aspects of it,there was an Oh-Bai and Hong Hei.Hong Hei was 6 when his father Shun Zi died and he ascended the throne.Because it was still a relatively young dynasty(just like after the overthrow of Ming Dynasty in one generation time),the King on his death bed appointed four of his most trusted officials to help and assist the young King.But they did not do so.
One was too old ,one did not bother,another was subsequently beheaded(together with all his servants,wives,children,relatives,counting 9 generations or 9 steps of relations) because of some false accusations by the fourth member Oh-Bai(Aobai),an ambitious and arrogant high ranking official.Over the years,he amassed great wealth and power by placing his relatives and croonies in various top positions and the King became his puppet.He even wore yellow robes in front of the King,as a sign of great disrespect and arrogance,as shown in this serial.But the King was wiser.He secretly(well not so secretly but Aobai did not see the warning and did not care coz too arrogant) trained young men to be prepared for a secret attack on Aobai.And the King made sure Aobai let his guard down by well,listening to his every demands.Then during one night,Aobai was summoned to the King's chambers and before he knew it,tens of young healthy well skilled men jumped on top of him and apprehended him.With that,he was charged,convicted for over 30 offences but I read somewhere he was not beheaded but jailed.I am not sure,but anyway,that show how wise the young man was,and he was only 14 at that time.From there till his 60's he governed China and was well,respected.He has the most wives reportedly.He died of old age,as opposed to popular beliefs in TV world that he was murdered by Yung Ching,his 4th son .
You would have noticed in this serial an Ng Sam Kwai,an old general,Ah Oh's supposed father and also Chan Yuen Yuen,Ah Oh's mom played by Leung Siu Bing also.Well,there was an Ng Sam Kwai.Reportedly,Ming Dynasty was losing the war to various sectors and was weak but they still have one general guarding the one last important entrance to the Ming city,by Ng Sam Kwai.TV dramas always potray that he was in love with a Chan Yuen Yuen,a very beautiful prostitute(this I am not sure if it was the right profession)
and wanting to provide for a better life,(here I would say that it was probably greed rather than a possible fictional woman),he opened the door and let the Manchurian in and thus,became the traitor of the century.That is why in this serial,many people wants to kill this man and Wai himself also hated this man who was given a small county to govern as a King or royalty(this I am not sure if it was real).And the Ming King?He hanged himself whilst I think his wives and children killed themselves,so Princess Cheung Ping could not have lived.
There may have been personification of Wai Siu Bo in various people but I really doubt there ever was a Wai Siu Bo.And nope,Wai Siu Bo wasn't the one who killed Aobai.
Was there a Chan Yuen Yuen?Was there a Princess Cheung Ping who lived her life as a nun?
This is a very old serials so check out the old books containing old posters or simply,quote the cantonese title,Luk Ding Kei.
For More Info
Please visit theOfficial TVB site ,provided you can read Chinese and find your way to old serials.
I do apologise for not being able to provide some links to other similar reviews since it’s so few out there.Perhaps you might try another TVB Reviews site,by Peter Fong for a different opinion. Click his name to beam yourself there.
For a very interesting site with loads of screen captures of your favourite serials,click here.