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
15 tapes/30 episodes

Lam Ka Tung,Mak Cheung Ching,Maggie Cheung Hor Yee,So Yoke Wah,Lee Ka Sing,Yuen Wah,plenty of second rate actors and actresses.

What & Where
In a small village in remote China during 1920’s-1930’s I think.The whole premise of this serials is about men’s passion for Chinese Tea and the realationship with land and whilst in the pursuit of refining their tea making skills,there’s bitter rivalry,jealousy,hatred,love,lost loves,heart break,pain,betrayal,trust and ultimately,friendship and love by forgiveness.

The storyline
It is a very simple yet powerful tale of basically two best friends,that is Lam Ka Tung and Mak Cheung Ching.They’re both farmers and very poor.But what they both have in common is a talent and the thirst for knowledge to better themselves.The only way to earn more money in their village is by joining the workforce of the tea plantation house.Mak wanted to join them because he wanted to earn more money and perhaps start a business of his own.Lam wanted to join them because he wanted to clear his father’s name who was once a very respected and gifted tea maker who was betrayed by one of his workers and he died and the whole family moved to a small village to hide.By learning to make tea,he had hoped to one day rebuild his family’s reputation by making the Fong family tea.Anyway,along the way,Lam met a tribal girl who lives in the mountains that is Maggie.They hated each other mainly because Maggie is so rude and Lam had spoiled her good name by being trapped with her in a cave for a whole night and there goes her chance of marrying the Chief of the Tribe’s son .Due to this heartbreak,she left her childhood village and worked in the tea plantation that Lam works for.Mak fell for her the first time he saw her and though he almost died for her and was about to marry her,Maggie couldn’t go through the ceremony because by this time she is hopelessly in love with the simple and kind hearted Lam.But Lam didn’t want to kill his relationship with his best friend and because he is still in love with his childhood sweetheart who had married another and left for a very sad reason.So that was the start of the bitter rivalry between Mak and Lam and though Mak is an honourable man and more often than not,the troubles were caused by Lee Ka Sing who wanted to get into the good books of Mak by marrying his sister and thinking of ways to destroy Lam.In the end,to gain more power,Mak married the boss’ only child(So Yoke Wah)who was also hopelessly in love with him only to realise he never really loved her.Then the old girlfriend of Lam came back with a very sad news and Maggie being the independent and stubborn one, refused to let go of Lam and that was also the start of another jealous fight between two very civilised women though they didn't look like it and in the end,everybody left everybody and waited until that somebody was willing to accept them for who they really are.

The Hate Factor
Deifinately Lee Ka Sing.He was the only son of an opium addicted father and that was why he was forced to lie and cheat to get money.But after he was caught and saved by Mak and Lam,they became good friends only to have Lee being greedy again did many many things to create more bitter rivalry between Mak and Lam.You’ll hate him and you would just wish that he die at the end of the serials.He was the true and only cause of more problems between Mak and Lam because if they were to be nice to each other,he will not make any monetary gain as then,Mak will devote all his time to checking the accounts which he had stolen some money.

Another character you will hate will be Mak’s character,Ah Ngau(as in bull which quite suitably explains his character).Some people just never understands that when a woman says she never loves you,it does mean that.But he thought the woman had a change of heart which is different.She was and always had been in love with Lam but somehow,Mak got in the way.But you’ll almost cry for Mak when he was framed for a crime (in the village’s rules) that he did not commit though he thought he did.Look further down and I’ll tell you why.

The WIMP factor
Definitely Lam’s character,Fong Yau Wai.Probably it was his upbringing,because his mother didn’t want anybody to know of their past,she trained her son to be a coward,and refused to let him learn how to make tea until the husband of the owner of the tea plantation,Yuen Wah wanted to take him as a student.He changed,he did changed but I am not sure if it was for the better.He is the quiet,silent,weak type who rather walk away than start a fight whilst his best friend acts like he is in WWII in every fight and he talks like as if 10 loudspeakers is attached to his throat.A really scream fest.

The Most Dramatic Scene
Lee Ka Sing framed Mak without him knowing by claiming he had slept and impregnated one of the fellow workers during one drunk night but actually,she is Lee’s mistress.So according to the Village rules,an adulterer and adulteress has to be thrown into the river and drowned.But the girl was spared because she was pregnant and Mak wasn’t .So he was thrown into the river with his wife,mother in law,father,sister and the whole village watching.And do remember this was the time where Mak and Lam’s rivalry was at its worst level but in the end,who was the one who came running and screaming and begging for them to spare his life?Who was the one who ignored orders,broke free and jumped into the river to try to save him?The man whom Mak had called his enemy and had tried so hard to destroy his life,that is his former best friend Lam.And at that moment,you could see in Mak’s eyes when he was about to be thrown into the water and Lam’s eyes when he saw his best friend about to die that all the rivalry,all the hate had disappeared and what remains is the true friendship and trust that had existed between them long before there was a Maggie.Get your tissues ready.

The HOW COME factor
If a woman commits adultery during those times,she is drowned.A man would most likely walk away unscatched.But you would ask now,why then is Mak drowned since after all he is the husband of the richest family in the rural village.The answer is simple.When Mak and So married,Mak adopted her family name and so any children would follow the woman’s surname.At the ceremony,it is the man who will be carried from his house to the woman’s and there,he would be subjected to all the humiliation that an ordinary woman would suffer.And he would be subjected to all the rules as any woman would,and here his wife is clearly the superior one.But So loved him and behind the door,he is the boss but in front of everybody,he is humiliated beyond belief as the ‘wife’ of the master of the family.His father disapproved but then ,he wanted power and this was the only way.This usually happens to extremely rich family with only one daughter and wanted a child to carry on the family name.Usually,men would deem this to be disgraceful and shameful.Nowadays,people would rather adopt two surnames than fight out which surname should be used.In that scene,it was the start of the end of his relationship with his wife.

Special Mention
Cheung Hor Yee.She is perhaps the most glamorous and prettiest looking TVB actress,with the greatest of potential and yet the most boring actress known to me,apart from Jessica Hester Hsuen but that is because Jessica suffers from over-exposure.Maggie on the other hand has the exact same facial expressions in all her roles and all her serials that you could do one chart with one line to describe her role in all serials she has acted in,except Old Time Buddies : Strong willed,independent,unwilling to compromise,hard to like but you’ll like her anyway,stubborn. Same in all serials and I am beginning to be bored with her acting.She reminds me of Gwyneth Paltrow,except for different time periods and nationalities,all her performance is the same.No variety and for Maggie,it is such a great pity.

If I Were The Scriptwriter
I’ll edit out some episodes to make it shorter because this serial is a tad too long and the beginning a tad too boring.But it gets better and frankly,I like the ending,It’s sweet,touching and poignant.

If I Were The Director
I’ll issue an order prior to filming to Mak not to overact,Lam not to underact,So to act like her age and Maggie to just act differently.

Is it worth Renting
For all my criticsms of the performance by certain actors and actresses,this is actually an excellent serial.Very refreshing and you would probably vomit blood just like you did with Secret Of The Heart at some heart-breaking scenes.Your grandma and mother would love it,you may like it but I would think that your little brother and sister may like something much more comtemporary.

What Not To Expect
Armani clad people,cars or condominiums.This is a very dirty looking serials in the sense that everybody is somehow covered with dirt/mud/tea leaves/sweat and you can see a lot of bare chested men.Do not expect a tutorial on how to make tea.

What To Expect
Beautiful China sceneries,especially that cave.Irregardless of the lack of facilities there,it made me almost want to go there for a holiday.Like I said,almost.

Is is BETTER than…
Plain Love I?Same time period and same theme as in human’s relationship with land but different storyline.That one had a young Gallen Lo and Kitty Chow Hoi Mei and well,it was just as good but much more depressing.ATV’s mega hit,Good Old Days with Chan Sau Man and Ma Jing Tao?Frankly they’re both in the same period but definitely different emphasis.ATV’s one is much more bigger production and much more louder in every aspect.But that doesn’t make it any better.The first 50 episodes were great but then it descended into draggy and repetetive stuffs and you would wish they had ended it at episode 50 instead of 100.I would say this one is better because it's shorter but yet,I still find it a bit too long.
Pear S Buck’s award winning and Oscar winning movie during the 40’s,The Good Earth?It is also about man’s relationship with land and his relationship with his wife and children.It is excellent and the amazing thing is,all the title characters were played by white men and women who has the mannerisms like chinese.It clearly illustrates the hardship and pain that every men goes through and for such a chinese theme and chinese story,you would think a chinese wrote it.It was written by a white woman who felt more for China than her hometown coz she lived there most of her life.

Interesting Facts
I never knew that if you plant Opium your land would dry up and it would seep into adjacent land and thus slowly poisoning the other lands as well,killing all plants and never will the farmers be able to plant anything or it may take years to heal the land.

I never knew making tea means stir-frying it on a hot wok,until it is dried up loking like the tea we drink,with different taste by the way a master stir fry it with his bare hands.I would think that we put those leaves and dry it under the sun.I guess that was the old technique.By the way,you could clearly see the actors really frying those leaves on hot woks with their bare hands and please,no trying this at home or you’ll burn yourself.

Drinking tea is an art to the chinese,almost an obsession but of course compared to the Japanese,with their never ending rituals,ours seemed more like a hobby than an art.

This serials was filmed a long time ago in rural China during the coldest period and poor Mak,he always had to be bare chested and their feets are always in the mud.They must’ve sufferred.Anyway,it was only released recently.Why I don’ t really know but I would say it was the right time because at that time,HK was having this Tea Drinking Festivals to celebrate the coming Millenium and this serials has tea as the main theme.

As illustrated by this serial and various serials with the same theme,land to chinese is like food to everyone else.It sustains us with money,and food and a good land can make a person and a bad land can break a person.However,some may say this is irrelevant today because not many are farmers anymore.But look at it this way,chinese are still obsessed with land,only that now we invest in them and we call them properties.A rose by any other name is still a rose.
Mak Cheung Ching got married recently and reportedly,he was so overwhelmed he cried at the wedding.And very recently,he became a father to a baby girl.Amongst those present to greet the baby girl was Lau Yoke Chui and Benny Chan.

Interesting Fiction
This serial is neither a sequal nor a prequel to Plain Love I.

Unimportant Stuffs
Let us now dissect,deconstruct and examine the title of this serial,Plain Love II.I seriously doubt that the meaning of PLAIN in the title refers to the meaning,ORDINARY but rather,LAND.LOVE is obviously the bittersweet love affair men has with LAND and not the physical love.As for II,like I’ve said above,it’s neither a sequel nor a prequel to Plain Love I so I would say,TVB ran out of good original English titles.By the way,the chinese title is long but quite nice.As I can't read nor write chinese(well),the best Han Yi Ping Ying I could give you in cantonese is Cha Si Koo Heong Lung.


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