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.


How Long : Very very long,about 1000+!!

Who : Other than the regulars of Lau Dan,Nancy Sit,Cheong Wai Yee,Yuen Keng Tan,Tam Yuk Ying,Kwan Hoi San,Lai Shuen,Harwich Lau Hoi Wai, Melissa Ng Wing Mei, Pang Chi Ching, etc ,there are from time to time guest stars such as Cally Kwong,Kenix Kwok,Tang Lai Ming,Lui Fong, Mark Kwok Yew Ming, Sunny Chan Kam Hung, MArco Ngai and a whole load of other people that I can’t even remember nor recall their names,in fact there were some that I kinda just missed.

I am very tempted to write a follow up on this review after I watch the end of the series.

What & Where : Set in modern HK,that is present times,the story centres on the Char Siu Yat juk,or simply the Char Siu family,so called for their family business of selling Char Siu,etc and their relationships with one another,their children,children’s friends,total strangers who ends up being friends,relatives,in-laws that you’ll love to hate and hate some more,with frequent issues such as friendship,motherly love,jelousy,greed and well,basically it’s a family drama some will say gossipy to some extent.To summarize what I just wrote,it’s a story about relationships.

The storyline : Well,it’s kinda too long to say. Like I said,it is a story about relationships. Who plays who,that is too long also. But to simply put it,this show shows how small HK really is. Everybody knows everybody,or everybody may not know that somebody but will end up knowing that somebody’s somebody. You have to watch it to really know how complicated some relations are. So basically,the relationships are as follows,for as far as I could remember the names and as far as I have reached,episodes wise.

Matriarch of the family being Lai Shuen(Ah Ka) and Kwan Hoi San.They have two daughters,Sin Yee married to Lau Dan(Char Siu Bing) who has 2 sons[one being the not so smart Ah Fook,married(twice) with a child by 1st dead wife and a quite smart son,Onn Chai(played by Lau Dan’s real son) who has a GF named Joanne who later went away and so has 2nd GF by the name of Chun Chun who later went away to be replaced by Joanne again] and a daughter (Kwok Siu Wan) who is married to the son of a formerly rich woman now bankrupt who is the sister of Melvin and has a child AND Nancy Sit who is widowed,almost married Melvin,then married a doctor who has a son [Tong Lap Sang,the smartest of the whole clan who is an eye doctor,married Ah Suet,daughter of Melvin(Tang Lai Ming),then had an affair with a rich girl by the name of Rebecca,then went to jail,then met Pang Chi Ching who ended up being in coma,bore him a son,then fell in love with a lady doctor but went back to wife].Then there’s the servant (Tam Yoke Ying) who has a daughter who is a bit slow(Yuen Keng Tan) who fell in love with Lui Fong,rich man’s son of Malaysian origin,but he went away,then came Tai Lik,the adopted brother of her real long lost son,Chi Hou who had a GF who……well,you know what,it’s too damn long for me to say it.It’s way too complicated to write it out,so for reference sake,look below.

The Bad Crowd : Being one so long,they must have plenty of hate factors,some you’ll really hate others you’ll just hate.For really hate,there’s Chi Hou and his wife Mei Mei.Chi Hou is the long lost son of the servant of the family(Tam Yoke Ying),who became the adopted son of Chan Kong.He was from China,smart but simple.Unfortunately,greed got the better of him,and he wanted more.His mother,having lost and found him,gave him everything,thus spoiling him.The day she stopped giving,he treated her literally like a servant.It doesn’t help that he married the most hated character in the serials,Mei Mei,the beloved and spoilt daughter with absolutely no manners at all of a rich Malaysian tycoon,who definitely has no respect for anyone whatsover,not even the mom-in-law whom she called Kei Ying,meaning deformed/strange baby.Then there’s Cally Kwong,who later became the mistress of Ah Hoi,the good adopted son of the servant,who was married to Ah Kwai,the adopted sister of Yuen Keng Tan,the long lost daughter of the servant.Then there’s Chun Chun,who manipulated her way into the heart of the youngest son of Lau Dan and Sin Yi,who was actually pining for his ex-GF,Joanne.Then there’s the second wife of Ah Fook,who was very very evil but with a conscience.Then there’s Rebecca,the mistress to Lap Sang .

The Good Crowd : Again,the nice people out numbers the bad people here.Of course the principal characters are all very very nice,in fact too nice.But the exceptionally nice one is of course,Ah Hoi,the adopted son of Tam Yoke Ying.The ever filial son,who loved his first wife,Choi Yiu too much,that he married a woman that looked exactly liked her,Ah Kwai.But he has his mistakes.He had an affair whilst his wife was recuperating from her illness of cancer and thus she went away,with Seong Seong,the daughter of Nancy Sit,who bore him a son,and later married a rich doctor a thousand times older then she was,then there’s of course Cally Kwong who has an affair with him.Of course,by then,Ah Kwai and he was I think on the verge of divorce.
Then there’s Lui Fong,the eldest son of the Malaysian tycoon,a musician who is quite fierce but actually a nice guy.He fell in love with Yuen Keng Tan only to leave then to come back for her.Then there’s his younger brother,AH Lam,an overall Mr Sensitive,too nice,too good to be true,who fell in love with Ah Kawi only to lose to Ah Hoi,then married Chi Hou’s ex-GF,also a very nice girl.

The Jinxed one: Definately Tong Lap Sang.The son of the proud mom,Nancy Sit,he lived with his aunt,Sin Yee ever since he was a little boy coz mom in China was too poor to even feed him.He was the smartest,that was why his aunt and uncle paid for his education overseas though they themselves were poor.He didn’t disappoint them.Handsome,young,tall and a successful up and coming eye specialist,he fell in love with Rebecca a rich man’s daughter.Admittedly,he was actually infatuated with her,not like Chi Hou who married solely for money.But then he married Ah Suet,continued with the affair,then killed Rebecca,caused Ah Suet to have a miscarriage,lost her memory,went to jail,married second wife,Pang Chi Ching only to have her in coma for a very long time.Now tell me,is this man jinxed or what.Every woman falling in love with him will have some sort of tragic moments,ranging from heart break,memory loss ,miscarriage to comatose position and death. But one point to note.The actor has the looks of a professional but unfortunetaly,HE CAN”T ACT!!So now you know why,”Eh,why I don’t see him in bigger roles one?”

The Bad Turned Good : Not Chi Hou.He never realized his faults even until his death.But I was talking about Ah Suet.She was really really irritating,but everybody tolerated her coz she was almost blind.Then her eyes became ok,and she fell in love big time with Tong Lap Sang,tolerated him in return.She did so many things for him,even almost died for him,and you ask,is the man worthed it?To her,YES!So they married,was really miserable,uncertain,insecure,desperate and she ended up losing her memory and became a much much happier and the old arrogant self again.Then there’s the HATE factor,Mei Mei.She was spoilt and she was rude.But when she found out she wasn’t the real daughter of the tycoon,she became a nobody.She realised her faults and everybody forgave her like hundreds into the episodes.

The Poor Moms : .Firstly,Nancy Sit.Her son was really bad in what he was doing(as Above) but actually,come to think of it,Lap Sang was actually very respectful to his mom,so basically,she has got a good son.Then there was Tam Yoke Ying,who lost her real son.Losing meant that he never turned over a new leaf,but he became disrespectful and even publicly denounced her as a mom.Now this is one debatable issue on whether is he really at fault here.Do consider the following:
1)She spoilt him by giving money to him as a substitute for the lost years,otherwise he was actually quite a nice boy,who saved her life even before he knew she is his mom and vice versa
2)She tolerated the treatment by Mei Mei and her son,taking quietly when she could just exercise her position as a mom-in-law.Thus she encouraged such behaviour.
3)She told her adopted son that she was lucky to have him as a son,that even if Chi Hou were to rot in hell she at least have one good son to serve her till her dying day.That Chi Hou deserved whatever punishment God served upon him.
4)She gave away all her fortune,includiing Chi Hou’s $1m where actually he wanted the money as an investment.But actually,he was actually owing some relatives money.But to him,that was the last straw,the ultimate betrayal.Come one,let’s have some thunder striking sounds!BROOM-BROOM!!!

Now tell me,as Chi Hou,would you hate her?Of course she’s the mom,and she was hoping by doing all the above she could have her son back.Noble intentions but wrong approach.

The Poor GFs : Plenty in here.The most notable one would be Chi Hou’s ex-GF.I can’t remember her name so I would call her the Girl with Big Eyes.She was the most devoted Gf,he was very lucky to have her.But he dumped her for Mei Mei.Not so bad,but consider how he dumped her.She only knew on the day he was about to marry Mei Mei,and later being slapped and insulted by Mei Mei.Of course,a nice girl like that will have a happy ending.She married Ah Lam,the youngest son of the tycoon,an overall nice man who deserved a nice lady like her.Then there’s Yuen Keng Tan who had to wait for someone who may not come back and at the mean time,lost several potential great BFs such as Tai Lik,the son of Chan Kong.Also a nice guy.

The Almost Brides : Most notably,Hou Yee(Nancy Sit).She was about to marry Melvin,but couldn’t because their children got married.When they were out of the taboo,Melvin became angry at how her daughter was treated by Lap Sang and left,then came back only to go home with his paralysed ex-wife.Then she met Chan Kong,almost married but he left after he accidentally heard that she still have feelings for Melvin.Then she later succesfully married a doctor. All this in a space of 4 years,not bad,not bad at all.

The I want her and yet I want that one also : Firstly,it was the fight between Ah Hoi-Seong Seong-Choi Yiu.Then it’s Ah Hoi-Ah Kwai-Cally Kong.Then there’s Lap Sang-Ah Suet-Rebecca.Then There’s Lap Sang-Pang Chi Ching-lady doctor.Then there’s Joanne-son of Lau Dan-Chun Chun.Why is it that women had to fight for guys huh?And why can’t the men make up their minds much earlier to stop confusing us huh?But then again,if no drama,who would watch huh?

The Crying Game : Such a long drama,someone must die,right?And to have higher ratings,it must be someone that you’ve seen from 1st episode.Someone you never thought would die.So there was the first wife of Ah Fook,Choi Yiu(tragic death),and of course Mei Mei's Mother, Sofie or Fifi or whatever her name was.really tragic death.They didn’t just die like,cough-cough-die or can’t breath-die.But they died like beaten to death,died of disease and the most ironic deaths of all,bled to death in a hospital when she didn’t die of cancer.Almost comical.Ok,I know I could be insensitive at times .

Funny Stuff : There’s one question that had been bugging me.They have a big house,they have a family business.But ever notice the shop.It’s always empty with occasional take-aways via phone.How did they earn their income?No wonder they have all the time to talk about other people’s problems.Or what we termed as GOSSIPPING!

Is it Worth Renting : Depends.If you’re someone who wants a FAST ending,lots of guns firing at one another,screaming people,passionate kisses,longer segments instead of half an hour each episode,dynastic and epic storylines,great great actors,NOPE.THIS AIN”T FOR YOU.But if you’re someone into something that last longer,something that can keep you occupied sometimes,simple family drama with a lot of kindred spirits,a family entertainment with good clean subjects,want to be emotional over some people,want to see first time actors screw up some really emotional scenes,like some good acting from veteran actors,then YEP,GO FOR IT !

Is is BETTER than…: The Seasons(Kwai Chit)?The one with a very young Gallen Lo and Tony Leung and Tam Pik Wan as MaDa?Frankly,no where near that one.The Seasons was a classic with the almost the same format.But the acting,other than Gallen Lo was great,and the storyline was compelling.But then,this one suffers from what I call..”Should have ended it much earlier “ syndrome.They have dragged it to the point of boredom.So do be selective when you’re renting.Each story basically last about maybe 10-15 episodes which will reoccur later on.So it’s quite difficult to skip.But if you really wanna know,go for the Chi Hou parts.Your mom will scream and kick and be very emotional.All moms would .Believe me.

Interesting Facts : This serial garnered the highest ratings ever during Chi Hou and Mei Mei’s story,to the point of consistently bagging the first top 5 positions.Nancy Sit’s career was revived,everybody else became household names,Ma Tai Lou won the Most Popular Villian award for her potrayal of Mei Mei,and it is the longest running serials ever,maybe not as long as The Bold and The Beautiful.But anyway,the last episode will be aired around November,and it has lasted more than 4 years with 1000+ episodes,every night from Mon-Fri.WOW!
So I really don’t see what’s the fuss about that 100 episodes long epic drama,At The Threshehold Of An Era coz we have here a longer one.Maybe more budget I guess.
But then again,during these times people were begging it to end because it became stale,boring,no more freshness.Ever wondered why it could keep going for so long?Because the former Executive that calls the shot was a fan of Kindred Spirit so she let the show go on,and every other serials reportedly suffered as a consequence of the budget thing.But now that it is ending,it would mean and it does mean that there’s a new Executive calling the shots.YIPPEE!!

Interesting Fiction: Yep, the one about Malaysians.I mean I should thank them for potraying younger Malaysian man to be so desirable, so nice and such gentlemen though the woman and the older ones are a bit cranky. But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t do any research first. Consistently for all shows about Malaysian men, that they could marry 4 wives, all rich men are King of Rubber Estates, as a sign of great status they are all Datuk’s and they wear Batiks all the times. NO! Only Muslim men can have 4 wives, nowadays not all rich men starts with being rubber whatever, Batiks are only worn for formal occasions, and Datuk ain’t that big in Malaysia.In fact, Tan Sri are bigger titles. So I was really confused. Are the Gwai’s family Chinese Muslims? Couldn’t be coz they eat pork. The assistants are in Baju Melayu most of the times, that is Malay dresses but most Chinese tycoons don’t have people other than Chinese as personal servants. So TVB, with all their resources, and all their accuracy in those costume dramas should have paid more attention to such finer details, if not people everywhere in the world would assume every MEN could marry 4 wives in Malaysia! Such inaccurate facts!!!


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