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

Written by Funn Lim

This review was posted many years ago, exactly when I am not sure but it should be within months from the original broadcast of this series. I am posting it as I have posted it originally.


And It Means...
Interesting title but no meaning at the end of the day. In Chinese it is "San Sin Yan" which I guess means a new/fresh person or a person reborn. Green Hope perhaps means new hope. Whilst many sees this series as about hope and life, especially when at the end of each episode there is a quote about life and its struggles meant to be uplifting and inspirational to the viewers (if only the fonts were bigger and the scene pauses for another 3 more minutes so that I can finish the quote which I was never able to do so), I see this series as narrower than about life. I see it as about sacrifices, which is a branch of what at the end of the day is known as life.

I took this from the other review by Elyn and also from SPCNET

Bowie Lam - Fong Kar Fai
Stephen Fung - Fong Kar Him
Yoyo Mung Kar Wai - Lai Wah
Joey Yung - Wai Mun
Cathy Tsui Chi Kei - Yuen Ying
Cheong Chi Kwong - DY
Lai Shuen -Grandma
Kwan Hoi San
Melissa Ng

The Plot
I won't be providing a detailed plot like in my usual reviews. There is one really detailed review by a contributor, Elyn.

The Storyline In A Nutshell
This series has an interesting and heartfelt storyline, mostly on love, life, hope and sacrifices. In the end, whilst it started off in a rather depressing and hopeless situation, it became happy and uplifting in the end. It could be said to be a series about the triumph of the human spirit and for that I feel this is one of the better series that you can ever see from TVB who is always half baked in most of their other series. But much of the performances and the explanations of the illness suffered by Kar Him could have been explained in depth to give us a better understanding as to what was this kid's problem.

Of course we know his problem. Kar Him was a little boy when his drug addict mother took him away from his father that was left with an older son, Kar Fai after a bitter divorce. For years Kar Fai thought his father was an abusive man which was why his mother left. The actual truth was the mother was the one who was emotional abusive. Kar Fai grew up to be a workaholic believing everything is possible and nothing is impossible. He worked his way up the ladder as an interior designer and achieved much success. But when his father fell sick and wanted to see his young son, Kar Fai went on a journey that will change his life forever.

In one of the most poignant flashbacks seen in this series, Kar Fai remembered his little brother fondly, remembering his brother as musically gifted and a very good kid. He would imagine Kar Him growing up as a successful musician or at the very least studying music from a reputable university. But when he found out the ugly truth he was not at first able to face the truth he so wanted.

Kar Him didn't grow up into a happy and perfectly healthy man. Years of neglect and emotional abuse by his drug addict mother made him retreat into his only perfect little world, and from time to time he could hear voices. He was aware of his surroundings but he couldn't help himself from shutting out the world. The world was too complicated for him and in the end, he was diagnosed as suffering from insanity, perhaps from mild delusional schizophrenia and from low self esteem. He stayed for a few years in a mental institution where he met some of his life long friends that called him The Prince. But he was far from cured when he suffered one setback and he went back to his old self again. Kar Fai couldn't face the truth and was considering accepting the promotion of a lifetime where he would have to leave his own brother. His wife, played by Melissa was encouraging him to accept the promotion and leave the brother in an institution. He almost did so until he learned what made his brother the way he was and from observing a girl named Lai Wah.

Lai Wah is your typical working class girl who cared little for her appearance. She had no time and no money to have a social life. All her life she spent her every waking moment caring for her grandma that was suffering from Alzheimer disease. Though at times she may have felt left out and that life has passed her by but she has never complained and never regretted her decision to care for her beloved grandma. And once Kar Fai asked her whether she regretted her decision, and her answer was a heart wrenching and a simple..

"No.. look at her (her grandma was dancing happily)..she doesn't have many more years left, as long as she is happy and I know I will never feel regret for never taking on such a responsibility, I have no regrets..I just want to assure myself that at the end of the day I will have no regrets. I would have if I didn't care for her.."

At this time, Kar Fai knew that his beloved little brother suffered much when growing up with an irresponsible mother. He felt perhaps he was to blame too. But this was not the time for allocating blames. Sacrificing his own marriage which ended in a divorce and his career, Kar Far took care of his brother and went through a journey about life. He has much to learn from his brother and yet his brother must learn to be courageous, to face the world and be proud of who and what he was.

In the end, Kar Him overcame those voices in him, fell in love with a girl, Wai Mun who would do as much as his brother to make him happy and gave himself a chance to pursue his lifelong dream; to become a successful pianist/musician.

Kar Fai became a happier and much more contented man, fell deeply for the woman who stood by him through all the hardships and happily married Lai Wah who deserved to be loved by a man who loved her as much as she loved him.

In the end, everybody was happy, and what began as a story about lost hope in the end became a story about a new hope, and a new beginning.

My Comments
I wouldn't say this is the best series I have seen in recent years though I admit it was one of the more uplifting ones with the most satisfying ending. Lai Wah with Kar Fai and Kar him married Wai Mun, enjoying a life of great achievements and happiness. In fact the series ended with the idea and the definition of "Utopia", the perfect world. What is an utopian world is up to your definition but this series' utopian world is a world where everybody is happy and filled with hope.

I didn't really paid much attention to the series but every time I switched to the channel that was broadcasting this series, I would want to cry watching those flashbacks of brotherly love. They were all very nicely done and when you look at the adult Kar Him, you feel even sadder, because for a kid to have been through what he had been just realise life isn't always fair. But perhaps life is fair...whatever they took from you, your happiness, your childhood you will always have something else that will make it all up. I find the relationship between Lai Wah and her grandma and Kar Him and Kar Fai very touching and very sincere. The way the characters were written you knew this was a series with heart. I especially enjoyed Lai Wah's story. I like this woman who has sacrifice much but she never saw what she did as sacrifices..she saw them as responsiblities. Your grandma took care of you when you were little and naturally when you grow up it would be your duty to care for her. Before her grandma died, she told Lai Wah.."You have suffered much" which would not bear the exact meaning of what was said but in a way her grandma was clear headed for one night and said her thank yous to her grandchild and then she died in her sleep. I admire the character of Lai Wah for her quiet strength and I admire Kar Fai for his determination to help his brother. All these could only be done out of real love...however much those emotionally deprived people would say money can buy love and however much friends can be bought...familial love and the bond that binds the family can never be bought with money.

The Performances
In a way I find the performances as sincere as the story itself though I have my dissattisfaction about some performances and inadequate facts.

Bowie Lam gave one of his most thoughtful performances as Kar Fai. Whenever he looked at his brother, you could see despair, almost regret. And when he looked at Lai Wah, you could see respect and admiration. He is one fine actor and this series proves it.

I have always heard of Yoyo Mung but never seen her. Of course she is not Yoyo Ma but Yoyo MUNG! Anyway, when I first saw her haggard face, with her frizzy and curly hair and 60's glasses, I was thinking why didn't this girl spend more money on appearances? That was before I really sat down and watched this series. There is nothing glamorous about the character of Lai Wah and Yoyo Mung gave us a simplistic and even down to earth Lai Wah. When she straightened her hair and wore contact lenses I thought she was very pretty, prettier each time I saw her. But this series is not about beauty pageants. This is a series that requires a capable actress. Because Lai Wah is not a very easy character to portray. She has seen much and been through much. At first she seemed tired but perhaps it was because she has channeled all her energy into caring for her sick grandmother. I believe Yoyo Mung is one of the best actresses that I have seen in TVB with her thoughtful performance of Lai Wah. There was much depth in her performance and the fact that I have never seen her act before surprises me that there could be such a talent amongst those so called great TVB female actresses. I find her performance as the best in this series.

Lai Shuen as usual is at her usual best. She could have been my grandmother but would I have sacrificed everything to care for her like Lai Wah did? Maybe not because I may not be as brave and as giving as Lai Wah.

Joey Yung is a cute girl, and if I were to evaluate her performance from the viewpoint of Joey as a singer who so happens acted in a series, I would say she did a credible job. But I always look at a person acting as an actress. And as an actress she could have given more depth to her character. Although her character was optimistic and happy, which Joey did all those scenes well , she lacked the emotional depth for more drama type of scenes. She could have given much more to her interpretation of a disappointed Wai Mun at the end of the series, but she didn't. I would say she is a very good amateur actress.

I have seen Stephen Fung many times on Entertainment News, with his broken mandarin and the utmost admiration of the host, Matilda Tao. He is cute and quite a gentleman. I have seen him act too and he was alright. He could have a cult following like Ekin Cheng. In this series he has a difficult role to portray, perhaps the most difficult of all. He has to play someone who is mentally unhealthy. I wouldn't he is mentally unstable, it's like saying anytime his Kar Him would take a knife and start stabbing someone. He's just depressed and he's just emotionally unbalanced causing his mind to go haywire once in a while. For 80% of this series his character would stare at the floor, shake his head a little and once in a while scream his heart out. If done by any worse actor it could have been a joke of a performance. But Stephen Fung I would admit did an admirable job, a respectable performance because I didn't expect him to do any better than what I have described. I evaluate him on a lower standard given the difficulties that he must have faced when given such a role. BUT the truth is his performance was grossly inadequate. Whenever I looked at his character he seemed more like a person suffering from autistics than delusional schizophrenia, which by the way the series never really explained the type of insanity he suffers from, I deduced it as such. Perhaps TVB should have made his character as a person suffering from autistics. There were times I wished he has give more but yet perhaps what he gave on the screen was his best. He couldn't give anymore than what we could see. Sometimes I wonder if there was a younger Chow Yun Fatt or Sean Lau or even Francis Ng, would they have portrayed this character that could have won Oscars in a more heart wrenching and different way? I believe Stephen Fung is one of the better young actors but I have this feeling that amongst the younger generations of young actors, the best of the best that I have seen thus far is Nicholas Tse. Perhaps he was inadequate in his first series but I have seen Metada Fumaca and I thought he was brilliant. Perhaps he could have given a different dimension to Kar Him. All in all, I find Stephen Fung's performance lacking in something that I am unable to describe, but that doesn't mean he was really bad in here. I would say he did a respectable job, but his Kar Him could have been much much more if given to a more capable actor.

I have always liked Cheong Chi Kwong as an actor. He has such a moldable face; he could play professionals and he could simpletons. I believe he was brilliant in here though his role was minor.

The worst performance had to be the girl who spoke like the way a turtle would walk; slow and word by word. That would be Cathy Tsui Chi Kei (I stand to be corrected on her surname). Obviously she is an ABC or a CBC or a BBC born girl. Many said she was pretty, long hair, thick lips, big eyes. I personally thought Yoyo Mung and Joey Yung prettier. She didn't look like Chinese to me, you know those Marsha Yuen looks. Somehow you can recognise a Chinese born in overseas by their physical looks apart from their figures that are always to die for. Her performance irritated me big time. I am not talking about the character she portrays, I believe her character is such a sad girl. Controlled by her family, dying of not just one but TWO terminal diseases and falling for a man that never loved her. But her performance was shallow and painfully slow. By the time she finishes her sentence, I would have been too bored to look at the screen. Her expressions were limited and I was thinking why on earth didn't they look for a better actress? Are all good actresses 25 and above? No one 25 and below? Disappointing performance. By the way I was told that she is the real life girlfriend of Hung Tin Ming.

The Funniest Fact
I know this series is about triumph over tragedies but to make Yuen Ying dying from, if I remembered correctly brain cancer and leukemia is very funny to me. It's like they must give you this great big tragedy to make their point about whatever they were trying to make a point about.

And I know at the end of each episodes, you could read meaningful quotes by famous people about perhaps life and etc. But like I said above, the words were shown way too fast in such small fonts, it was very difficult to read. At the end of the day whatever meaning that the quotes held were lost to me.

The last episode where in the piano recital, where Kar Him played the themesong. Very nice but after a while it was only repetition of the same notes over and over again. But that is not what I am saying as funny. Did you notice how the other "pianists" played the piano? Their hands never touched the keys at all!! If they can find real calligraphers to write beautiful Chinese words why can't they find a real pianists to play the piano in a more convincing way?

Funn's Recommendation
I believe it's worth your watch though it failed to hold my attention for more than 30 minutes for each episode. I really do not know why. I just couldn't pay attention to it. Perhaps I didn't like the fact that there were quotes inserted into the end of each episodes, maybe I didn't like the fact that they gave us the definition of utopia. Perhaps the writers were trying to make this series different, and I believe they have succeeded. I just find that by inserting such quotes, it was like a Qiong Yau series at the end of the whole messy storyline. Too preachy and very corny. But this series does not have a messy storyline. I guess it was the definition about Utopia that I didn't like. Did the series started out as a series about utopia? Perhaps. We all strive for our own utopia. But I just feel whilst this series tries to be a smart series that makes us think, they could have put much more thought to the complaints that I have listed above. Though this series was one of the better ones from TVB, it is still however lacking the good old days type of story telling. Something was missing and I just can't place my finger at what was the missing element.

Many youngsters liked it but my mother hated it. Can't blame her. Must all TVB series have this love triangle? Must all wives be so unreasonable? Must all future wives be so understanding? Must all potential girlfriends wait for their loved ones to celebrate their birthdays with them by waiting and waiting and waiting? This series will suit the younger generation's taste but I believe older people may not have the patience to sit through it.

By the way, do not expect any in depth explanation as to what type of "insanity" that Kar Him suffered from. I find it very disagreeable to generalise insanity. Kar Him is not insane. He has a problem, an emotional one, and I hardly think that it's insanity. If that is so we are all insane.


Post a Comment

All replies and discussions will be posted in this review itself, so do remember to bookmark this review and check back from time to time for any replies.Thank you for your active participation.