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.


** Fans of this series , pls skip this review**

Title : The Plum Flower Series-Series 1- The Tattoed Flower

Running Time : I can't remember but it was, in the tradition of all Qiong Yau's series, TOO LONG.

Note : This series will not be the most oldest Taiwan series reviewed but it is old enough to warrant what I'll say after this sentence; this is a very old series with a very young Ma Jing Tao and Vivian Chen De Rong. I have nothing nice to say about it and frankly, this will be my least favourite( read: most detested) series that I will have the torture of reviewing. You may ask, why then am I writing this? Just to make the Taiwanese series review list a little bit longer.

Casts : I can only name 2, which would be Ma Jing Tao and Vivian Chen De Rong.The rest I would hope to know their names and characters they played, so if you do know, pls e-mail me the info.

Summary : Seriously, this is a series about the undying love of a man and a woman, and the obstacles they faced to be together. Set in Ching Dynasty,and I believe during the reign of Emperor Qian Lung, but I stand to be corrected.

Plot : Once upon a time, in a distant great land, where everybody was happy and the Emperor was good, there was a royal family where the wife had no son. Soon she was pregnant but alas, as fate would have it, she gave birth to a baby girl. Afraid that her position in the family would lessened(and it will), she switched her baby girl with a baby son from a commoner of a family. She was relieved but she lived with the guilt of sending her own child away. So she tattoed a plum flower behind the child's shoulder so that she could one day recognise her own child if she ever saw her again.

Years passed, seasons changed, the old became older,and the young matured. Our hero grew up into a dashing Ma Jing Tao, with a rank of Bei Le Yeh, meaning royal rank for a royal relative to the Big Man on the throne. But he's a nice guy, who by a twist of cruel fate, met a young beautiful common girl who was played by Vivian Chen and they fell madly in love. But they had many obstacles before they could eventually be almost together, such as:

(1) our hero had to marry a Princess(Gege), the favoruite child of the King as a gift/reward but he refused until our heroine begged him to go sleep with her and he dutifully slept with her.

(2) our hero wanted to take our heroine as the second wife but was refused by the Princess/Parents so she became a maid instead (I think) and was tortured daily by our jealous and misinformed Princess

(3) when he almost had her as his wife, he discovered the truth that she was his sister.

(4) then he discovered that she wasn't his sister and in a way could still marry her but the secret must not be known by the Emperor because switching royal babies was a crime.Alas the Princess refused and the Emperor ordered for our Hero's death for hurting the Princess

(5) Well,well,well, he didn't die after all because our Princess begged the Emperor to let him go and hoped to win favourable points by doing this.So our hero ran home happily, having forgotten who spared his life only to be greeted by tears.You see, our heroine swore to hang herself if he was beheaded,which she thought he was beheaded when she heard the bells(or whatever).So in the tradiiton of tragedy for an ending, she hung herself and he carried her body into the forest leaving the Princess screaming desperately for him to come home,and his adopted parents crying for losing two child.

The end.

Comments/Afterthoughts : Frankly, and I shall be blunt I personally feel this series was the most stupidest series I have ever watched. I have nothing against the acting performances, they were actually quite ok except for a few which I shall specify below, it was the story that had me almost choked with laughter,and the ending scene was the winner for the silliest Ending Comments ever.And I repeat, EVER.

You see, first the story was promising but their love, I feel nothing for them. I mean go and marry her as second wife if you had the guts to do it. Or maybe just wait and treat the princess nicely and she will say yes to everything. But nooooooooooo....must have her now,must be together NOW. Hot blooded as they are, I feel none of their passion nor their desperation, all I could see was two stupid people who just can't wait a little. Perhaps the Princess crossed the line when she kinda tortured(meaning thinking that Vivian was some fox devil and she poured dog's blood on her causing severe trauma, or so she would like us to think so) but the princess was misinformed by her conniving servant. Knowing the Princess hating you, please just go far away but like Prncess Xin Yue, if one is willing to be tortured, hey go on, beat them.But when the old lady could no longer stand it and blurted out the truth because her precious daughter was being tortured, again a stupid action with disastrous consequence. If you could be so willing to give away your own child for your own selfish needs, then by all means, please pull out your vocal chords and just be mute for the rest of your life if you just can't shut up. And what is this about pre-marital sex being the ultimate most giving act of all? I think the Princess begging her father to spare the life of a man that she loved but who could never love her was the most giving act of all. You knew what you're doing was fruitless but you still go ahead for a glimmer of non-existing hope. That could be very stupid of you and yet it could be the most giving act. And the ending was the most stupidest of all,which I shall elaborate further below.

Most Stupidest Scenes : Plenty. For one, when the princess knew of her husband's undying love of that servant girl, she called her into the couple's room and forced Vivian to look whilst the Princess blew powdered perfume onto the bed where earlier, the princess and her husband(aka Vivian's lover) slept on it and you know, DID it. And Vivian cried silent tears. That was a very funny scene. I mean sure the Princess was mean but puh-leasseeeeee, isn't it enough that you had the guy's heart,undying love and had him FIRST, you even were the one who ordered him to go sleep with her,and you're crying? You should be laughing inside because frankly, who was being the fool here?

Secondly, the scene where our hero was to be married and he ran to Vivian instead.I don't really know what he wanted, maybe permission ,but well after they were married, he was so stupid to think that he need not sleep with the Princess, maintain the secret love affair and remain true in heart and in body to our heroine. I mean poor princess.

Thirdly, when our heroine hanged herself,and you know what? Her servant friend(a young girl) was also there, watching her hang herself like it was some sort of a noble act and they cried but did nothing except,well... cry. I thought My God!How stupid can this go? Instead of stopping her and advising her to wait a little(at least until you see his beheaded body) or to live on (ala Titanic), they did nothing and watched her die. And when our hero came home, he heard no one, heard no pleas from the Princess or his parents and just carried her body into the woods in the final scene. I mean please, behead this guy man. He may be guilty of infidelity, unreasonableness and blatant rudeness for ignoring people's pleas for him to stay, he should be beheaded for one reason only; for walking away from your adopted parents who nurtured you, loved you from the day you were a child! But nooooooo... he just walked away! At least this we won't see in TVB series.

The one that will be the Most Stupidest of all scenes would be the ending's commentaries by an unknown voice, to sum up the whole series' story,and for the first time in my life, and I swear that I did reacted this way, I fell down from the chair from shock and I laughed. It was the funniest series then and I wasn't the only one who laughed. What was said was;

"Do not feel sad for this couple,for in seperation they lived on and we should learn from their undying love......"

And at that moment I just feel such great sadness for the Princess and I was so glad Vivian killed herself. I mean luckilly it can't go any more stupid-er than this but of course there were 2 sequals with different stories but some same actors. But this one was torture enough.

Most Superficial Acting : Would be to Vivian Chen. I never liked her. She may seemed pretty at first but the more I looked at her, the more I feel that she has a wierd face, even now. I rarely give personal attacks, mostly on acting wise but this one, the way she talked like she had no teeth, and she only had one expression at the most, the tearful look. I have nothing against her acting generally, just her pitiful looks, almost same kind with Charmaine, only much less of a shriek and much more of a bore.

Most Overacting Acting : I do not know what happened to Ma Jing Tao. He was just right in Green Green Grass By The River but after that series, and before The Good Old Days, he was like an uncontrollable typhoon, he just went overboard with each role, including throwing chairs, bulging veins on his neck, etc. He should be called the most expressive actor but for all the wrong reasons, which would be almost an insult. In here, less of overacting but still too expressive that I can't stand him. I really do not know what happened to this man.

Best Performances : I can't remember who, but one that I could remember would be the girl you could see in Princess Xin Yue as the young daughter, in here she played the Princess. She really had this Princess looks, bubbly, cute and more importantly, she portrayed such sadness and desperation in her role that I dare say we all would almost pity her. Her accent was excellent, a bit of Beijing accent and plenty of expressive way of expressing herself with a very limited role. She could have been a hate factor but I think I have been repeating this for some time; in any Chung Yao's series, you'll always:

(1) Hate the lead actress because she will either be too weak or too nosy (except for Little Swallow and Zhi Wei in HZGG I but very true for HZGG II)

(2) Hate the lead actor for always being such a wimp and crying more than the
lead actress

(3) Pity the evil one, always a woman but after a while you'll get so tired with
her hatred/jealousy/whatever you too would begin to really be annoyed
with her

(4) Always the storyline would be as if it is so bloody serious but actually, all
these people are only concerned with love and frankly you'll feel that they
brought it upon themselves,all the time.

(5) You either feel for their romance but be bored with their wanting each
other because the series would be too darn long OR you'll feel nothing for
their romance but still watch the series because the sadistic side of you
just love the torture scenes between two women.

(6) The ending would be an anti-climax, or stupid or nonsensical or really, no
ending at all because there could be a sequal, or another much more idiotic storyline. And as always,
sequals in any Chung Yao's series will be too long and you'll hate it even more than the original, With
exception of HZGG where you'll love part I but really detest Part II. Same with this one.

(7) You'll either love the sentimental value of the series or hate the sentimental value of this series.

(8) There's always like some big drama going on but really, it ain't that serious. No plots to overthrow
anybody, just love story all the way,which means you can't take Chung yao seriously.

(9) It may have been a drama but there's always unintended comic moments.

(10) The story will always be too darn long, and would seem long because a series that has 100% of focus on the relationship of ONE couple and their hardships just to be together is interesting at first, but after 40 episodes, it would be really stupid to still find it engaging since by then you would wish it was the end. In
HZGG it was different, we are given 2 couples and more, and the main focus was not on the love stories but rather, the poignant relationship between a father, his mistaken child and his real child.

Is it worth buying : I doubt you can rent this one, so I guess you could try to find the VCDs for it. After my loooong review, what do you think? If you love Vivian Chen, Ma Jing Tao, Chung Yao's books, ridiculous love stories, this is the one for you. But avoid it at all cost of you agree with me on the above points or that you hate sad endings, which wasn't sad at all, it was comical. You have just gotta watch the end narration to feel how I felt.

Interesting Observation : I can't remember the proper title for this one, so I'll not talk about the title nor decipher it.The beauty of Taiwanese series' titles are that they're always straightforward, not much controversies.

The love story was way too modern. Chung yao just love to adopt the present day scenario into the olden days time, especially during Manchurian period. Her love story are always illogical because it was set in the wrong time and yet if set in the present time, it won't work either because in modern times, nobody will love like that. for example, this series scenario :

Rich guy marry rich girl because of family arrangement, but he wants to marry his beloved but can't. The girl cried because she will be sharing her lover with another woman.

Put that into olden manchurian days, it won';t work, because political marriages are quite normal, people don't marry for love then because if you do, you'll probably be an eloping couple and will always face condemnation, since a chinese marriage must have the blessings of Heaven and parents. So they'll probably starve to death, which was the scenario in Green Green Grass By The River. Unless you're a son then sons could marry whoever, but eth first wife will always be the parents' choice. Moreover, he can marry more than one wife, so what's the big deal about crying and sharing when they lived in a time where man was expected to marry more than one wife, especially when you're bloody rich and from the royal family and your duty as a son is to procreate and produce an heir?

This is why this series and all ideas of Chung Yao's love stories is illogical, same with HZGG.

You do know that in Chinese world, being an unfillial son is a big big sin, but for woman/son the biggest sin for a woman/son, that could be a valid reason for condemnation and divorce(on the part of the woman being divorced by the man) would be the inability to produce an heir, and i do believe this thinking may have lessenned nowadays but it's still existing.

Interesting Facts : None, but I do noticed that Vivian Chen has grown so old these days,and yet she played the lover of Alex Sou and Jimmy Lin in The Twin Heroes!!!!! I mean, oh my god!!

By the way, Seagull hates Ma Jing Tao, and I can understand why. This series was during the time he still looked good, now he's too pale, too thin, too everything. But I have a friend who is crazy about him, which I also understand why, because she never saw those latest series, she is still in the Green Green Grass By the River days.

Interesting Fiction : This love story was not inspired by true events. If it is, and being like hundreds of years later, I am glad that they're all dead.


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