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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.


SPOILERS ... SPOILERS ... SPOILERS




Who
Regulars such as Amy Kwok,Cheung Tat Ming,Wu Fung,Kwok Siu Wan,Chan Siu Ha(Part I),King Kong(Part II),other familiar ke-le-fe faces

What & Where
It’s about a lawyer and the relationship between him,his family and ultimately his own conscience.Set in China during the 18th century,that is the reign of Emperor Tong Zhi or some would say the reign of the Empress Dowager Chi Hei.

The storyline
In Part 1,we got to see Sung Sai Kit(Cheung Tat Ming),a lawyer who just wins and wins all cases the dirty way.He makes a lot of money and along the way,enemies by very cleverly twisting the truth of the facts of the case for the benefit of the usually bad bad rich people.He does not have a conscience,not until his wife,Bak Lin Lung(Amy Kwok) became pregnant .To avoid having another miscarriage because of his dirty court dealings,his father (Wu Fong) once a renowned lawyer himself told him to take on the case that his own father once fought and won.But the case is full of mysteries and it involves Sung’s very own assistant.You see,the father was mistaken in that case.Because of that the assistant’s father had to like rot in jail for so long and ultimately became senile.The assistant grew up all his life being insulted and looked down upon as a murderer’s son and so he has no self esteem.It doesn’t help that his master,Justice Sung treated him like he’s not worth his time.Ayway,it’s sort of a sad ending for this segment.Moving on,later we meet Chan Siu Ha who plays the daughter of a man we ultimately knew as a criminal.She tried to help her father by lying about his whereabouts,but Justice Sung always finds a way to find the man.Anyway,later she fell in love with the assistant and Sung has his son but then there’s the wife’s ex-boyfriend,tall,dark,handsome and a magistrate.He intends to pursue Amy Kowk eventhough there’s a tiny fact like the woman’s a happily married mother.He caused the rift in their marriage and his wife ended up leaving him to go back to her own family,in a land full of kung fu experts after our hero almost had an affiar with Yung Hung.Can our hero pursuade her back and along the way solve another difficult case?Then later there’s a bigger problem that is a big national scandal which involves the Empress Dowager,her not castrated eunuch and the gwailos.Quite a problem here,until the whole family had to go into hiding to avoid the 9 generations beheading rule(meaning chop off the heads of the family,counting to 9 generations ago,basically whole family and relatives ,in laws and servants).

In Part II,9 years later,we see the Sung family(minus the assistant and Chan Siu Ha) with a new assistant in the form of King Kong living in some cold climate Northern China.Justice Sung is no longer a lawyer and every time he tried to debate some issues like whether the salted fish is really salted fish,before he could say his name,his wife would come along and shut him up.Because of that,his son,now 7 years old refused to speak nor write because his father would ask his son to say his dad’s name,proudly and before the boy can say it,mom’s there to shut him up.Anyway that doesn’t mean he’s not making any trouble.There he finds a lowly companion as a friend but actually more like his own dog-servant in the form of Lai Sam(dunno his name but very familiar,he’s the Wong Kar Wai of the movie version of Old Time Buddies),who has no dignity at all.And then he met Bak Siu Chui(another unknown familiar face),pretty and desperate for money to bury her dead father.He helped with not so noble intentions.Anyway,then there’s this big case that happened that involves the a civilian and a respected general which forced Sung out of his hiding and ended up having a 3 years guarantee that they will not be beheaded.Many many things happened and at last,there’s another national scandal in the form of imperial power struggle when Tong Zhi died and somehow Sung’s in the middle of it all.


The Hate Factor
In Part I,there’s Yung Hung who plays the wife of an abuser.She kills him,really because of the abuse AND the money.But she gave Sung a hard time by trying to destroy him when he refused his love by pretending to be a nice nanny to his son and only the assistant knew her true colours coz he saw her almost killing the baby boy.In the end,his wife ran home to the in laws and Yung Hung died.How?Look below somewhere in this review. AND,right in the first episode of Part II you’ll hate one person.Lai Sam.He is a nobody,in fact he has no self respect if it means earning some cash.But Justice Sung used him for the case that he could not resist.He can’t show his face coz then he’ll be caught so he trained the guy into a respected lawyer and in the end,what chinese say,teach the student and then no master,or something like that.Anyway,this guy,this dirtbag ended up making things very difficult for Justice Sung but as justice would have it,when he was exposed as a false lawyer coz after all,he’s not that great a lawyer,he became a eunuch and as fate would have it,he became the young kIng Tong Zhi’s favourite eunuch coz he took the king to brothels and ended up,the King having some sex disease and he violated orders and killed the king by not giving him any medicine,because of pure selfish reason.The King said when he’s ok later,he’ll kill Lai Sam because he caused his sex disease,in a way.In the end,and I do think I should tell you,there was justice.He was beheaded.How?Look somewhere below this review.

The WIMP factor
Definitely our hero himself,Justice Sung.In Part I,he’s not that great a man.If you look carefully,though he is most of the time being applauded for his skill as a lawyer,if something different happens to his case,like if he was interrupted or there’s a new fact being introduced,he’ll start to panic big time.Maybe it’s the actor’s interpretation but I don’t think he’s that great,only there are lousy lawyers out there.And in Part II,he became the biggest wimp.Lai Sam having knew the secret that he is Sung Sai Kit and a wanted man by the government,to avoid being captured and the whole family beheaded,he became a big time chicken!He secrificedBak Siu Chui for Lai Sam to rape by giving her some potion to fall asleep,ended up his wife,Amy Kwok was the one who drank the potion and almost raped.But Sung stopped him.Would he have stopped him if it was the young girl instead?And consider the fact that later in the episodes,he confessed his love for the young girl!But of course,he later redeemed himself by being a man by coming forward to fight the case,but of course he made sure that his whole family is somewhere safe.

The BIGGEST Mistake
In Part I,Sung’s assistant was beaten some 30 times in court because of some greedy officials who accepted bribery from a rich man.Sung couldn’t stand the injustice and travelled all over the country to find a judge that will hear his case but ended up being beaten 30 times in each court until he couldn’t walk.But he thought he found his saviour in the form of a respected Han General,despised by the Manchu officials.But alas,this Han General ended up killing all the witnesses and pretended that the appeal for justice never took place.But Sung continued to press for Justice and he kinda got them when the general kidnapped him into a court room,closed the door and told all the judges to confess which they did,and he chopped off some heads.Sung was horrified but there’s a reason for his dirty tactics.The country was under threats of Gwailo invasion and that time wasn’t exactly the best time to have such scandals.And it didn’t help that the fact that it involves the scandal of the Queen and a eunuch that’s still a man in every sense.It’s national embarresement if anyone knew of that little fact.The point is the mistake here is Sung appealing all over the country causing such big havoc to the a very delicate national security matter. In Part II,Bak Siu Chui married King Kong to disastrous results.They loved each other but having such a beautiful wife and being so poor at the same time isn’t exactly honeymoon time.The man is obsessed about finding lots of money to give her a comfortable life but that wasn’t what she wanted actually.Anyway,King Kong ended up being involved in some anti-government organisation and being shot to death though he had earlier surrendered.So dirty politics here and another case for Sung to fight.The point is the mistake here is the man marrying the girl.She’s nice,no doubt about that but somehow you’ll feel marrying her caused his downfall,or maybe it’s his own problem of self esteem.Poor guy really.The girl later remarried to a doctor(played by Ah Hoi of Kindred Spirit) who cured her of her sex disease after she slept with the young king.


The HOW COME factor
Plenty of ‘how comes’ in Part II.Remember Bak Siu Chui?Pretty,young,nice but no money.She is the object of desire of many men.Anyway,after her husband died,she rather believe a man like Lai Sam that her Master,Sung Sai Kit had something to do with his death,so as to have her for himself.She even stabbed him!Anyway,after many things,she became a nun(Si-Ku) and after many many episodes she reappeared as a prostitute!I mean,How come??I didn’t hear her explanation for being a prostitute but it has something to do with the temple needing money and she unselfishly sold herself to the brothel.Shocking indeed.Anyway,later she was drugged and raped by the young king that was already infected with some sex disease.So she almost died but she didn’t coz she was cured by a western doctor.Now another How Come.Why don’t TVB just ask that western guy to play a western doctor instead of Ah Hoi from Kindred Spirit with his hair dyed a little brown?


Most Memorable Bits
Part I wasn’t that memorable except for the scene where the general ordered those who took bribery to kneel before Sung and his assistant and slowly question them of their crime and then beheading some of them.Kinda like justice served but kinda too heavy a punishment.In Part II,plenty.How the young king at first cursed his mother for being cruel only to beg her for love,and how the queen that we thought from Part I being the most selfish thing,and in Part II,nearly kill her own flesh and blood but she gave him to his cries.After all,it’s her own son.But of course Lai Sam didn’t follow order and in the end the young king died.And of course the most memorable one was how Sung Sai Kit was supposed to be beheaded(again) coz he did something scandalous to the queen but somehow,he was switched with Lai Sam and Lai Sam was beheaded as Sung whilst Sung was forgiven by the queen and permitted to go to Hong Kong.What did he do?See below.

The Damsel In Distress
Definitely Sung Sai Kit.He knows no kung fu ,and he always gets into trouble because of his smart aleck motor mouth.And who to save him?His twin blades wielding Kung Fu expert wife,Bak Lin Yong(Amy Kwok).I would dare say if without this wife,he would have died a million times.

The Biggest Villain
In Part I,the General was played by an actor famous for being a scumbag but in the end,he was a villian for a very noble reason,for the country.Then there’s Yung Hung,who seemed so demure and nice but when her love was rejected,she became the meanest woman around.But at the end,she killed herself when she knew she couldn’t run away from the authorities anymore but even when she died,she confessed of her love for Sung,but somehow it was kinda twisted love.In Part II,we were introduced to this very noble high Ranking Minister,who is the Young King’s Uncle.He was known to be impartial,and indeed he was the one that helped Sung to regain his freedom,if only for 3 years.Even Sung respected him coz he never really believed a man like Lai Sam.But in the end,this was also the very same man who tried to oevrthrown the queen(for very good reasons) with the most vicious way,that is by ochestrating a war between the government and the foreigners,thus putting the country’s security at stake.Luckilly Sung found out and told the Queen.That was why the Queen let Sung go at the end coz he is still a man who loves his country more than anything else.Then of course there’s Lai Sam.So that man had a difficult childhood where he had to beg for food,so he was looked down upon by everyone else but that doesn’t mean he can go be like what he is in the serials.Believe me,you’ll hate him.

Most Memorable Performance
For Part I and Part II,it would be Kwok Siu Wan who plays the Empress Dowager.She is really convincing and at some point you’ll hate her for being the most unreasonable creature but then,she is still a mother who genuinely loves her son.Very convincing and she has always been one of the most versatile actress in TVB.And in part II,I must mention this young boy who plays Sung’s son.I really wish I know his name but some of you may recognise him from DIF IV,as that young boy Maggie Siu took care for some time and also,most memorably the young son of Lam Ka Tung in this serial that has Fannie Yuen and Ho Po Sang in it.He was consistently good in every serial he has acted in,and I dare say better than those adults around him.

Is it worth Renting
For Part I,I really don’t think so.It was enjoyable but there are plenty of boring scenes in there.And Cheung Tat Ming was more annoying than funny,and Amy Kwok,well she’s ok,still too thin to be a convincing martial arts experts.Somehow,I found Part II much more enjoyable,much more deeper in meaning and the storylines mush more engaging.Though some parts tend to drag like forever,but it was fun to watch and quite funny and sad at the same time.So go for Part II.You won’t miss out anything by skipping Part I.

Is is BETTER than…
Stephen Chau’s Justice Sung?No way!Chaung Tat Ming will never be Stephen Chau,and so is Cheung Ka Fai!That man is soooo funny.But storyline wise,if you want drama,go for the TV Version.The Movie version is strictly for laughs.A pure comedy. Files of Justice I-V?Though both talked about lawyers and their familial and people relationship intertwined with difficult cases,somehow I personally feel cases wise,Justice Sung is much more superior but of course,we don’t get to see Sung in a pub with his friends.Same concept but different emphasis and definitely different time period.Cannot compare.

Interesting Facts/Fiction
Well,serial wise Jusitice Sung I was the most watched rented serial of the year 1999,thus making it the most popular that year.
About the historical aspects of this series,well plenty.That Empress Dowager Chi Hei ,also known as Old Buddha was well known to be selsfish and uncaring.Everybody feared her coz being so unreasonable,she would have chopped off her heads.Though she still had a strong grip within the Forbidden City,she just never realised or refused to realise that the world outside the walls were changing fast.Reportedly,she poisoned the Queen so that she can have absolute power .The potrayal of the Emperor Tong Zhi was quite accurate to historical facts.He was famous for frequenting brothels since he was a very young man.Why ?Well,he was bored out of his wits actually.He was reputed to be a genius of sorts,knew how to memorize poems since he was a young boy.And he may have been a good king if only his mother,Empress Dowager Chi Hei just didn’t butt into his political affairs.So in the end,his mom ran the country and since a young king having so much time and nothing to do,he went partying every night.He was his mom’s proudest and biggest disappoinment.Poor boy.Some said he died of sex disease but the official report was that he died of Small Pox.It was confirmed today that he died of small pox according to the written diagnosis by the imperial physicians.And later,that Chi Hei had her nephew,Guang Xu appointed as the new Emperor but this was a more obedient Emperor than her own son that never really bothered by what she has to say.But he was a reform minded king who had great plans to reform the government to better suit the needs of the times but there are plenty of selfish officials there.Later in his life,he tried to overthrow the woman’s powerful grip on the throne but he failed miserably.It didn’t help of course and it added to his already frailed body that his favourite concubine was thrown into the well by her own uncle,the favourite eunuch of the Queen,Lei Lin Ying,courtesy of Chi Hei because she believed that she taught the Emperor of some Reform tactics.In the end,the Emperor was under house arrest and he died neglected like he was since he was a young little boy,unloved,uncared for and at last,died of sickness that he had since he was young boy.Then of course came the Last Emperor,Pu Yi and also the rapid decline of the Manchurian Kingdom.Very sad actually considering also there goes with it a dynastic era filled with great art and also fashion sense.By the way,the Manchurian was the one that gave us the Cheong Sam Mandarin collar.


2 comments:

  1. unknownsolution24.2.11

    i watched this series 9 years ago on tv and i dun remember much about it except that i used to LOVE it so so very much! haha.. it was certainly one of my fav.. but that maybe coz i am a mystery freak..

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  2. Reading this review makes me think of back-in-the-old-days... Which isn't really old because I think I watched this series when I was 6 or something, and it was on the channel where there show older stuffs (Malaysia right? Astro 314). And there's this one fact which I was grinning all the way... Back in the old days, Dayo Wong (aka the actor of Lai Sam) was just an unknown name to the people that's not in Hong Kong... Until War of Genders. And now he's bagged the Best Actor awards. So happy for him.

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