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 : 20 episodes/10 tapes

Who : Chan Miu Ying,Lau Yoke Chui,Marco Ngai,Tong Ying Ying,Cheung Siu Fai,Lam Ka Tung,etc

What & Where : Set in Tang Dynasty,basically a story of a man who became a monk for a noble but not willingly but could be selfish reasons but ended up being a real monk because he realised the greater purpose in life isn’t just love and good food but helping others.Kinda X-File-ish in the cases.

The storyline : Lam Ka Tung is a very very smart man.He is a worldly man,having travelled everywhere since he was 14.So he was a knowledgeable man.And he loved life to the fullest and women too.And it just so happens he fell in love with Chan Miu Ying,the daughter of a local doctor but the girl just despised him.But as fate would have it,they were not meant to be.You see,Lam Ka tung in all his previous lives was a monk.The previous life to the present one,he was a very respected monk who died to make several thieves realise the errors of their ways.So he was a very noble man.And he made a promise that he would never become Buddha until the day all human hardships are overcome.Well this life,Lam Ka Tung the only son of a well off family never imagined himself being so noble.But along the way,he met a famed Monk that lives in his big sack(thus the title,Bou Doi Wo Seung) who told him this his destiny is to be a monk.He didn’t believed that,almost died 3 times and along the way even met the King(cheung Siu Fai) and his spoilt sister(Tong Ying Ying) and mother.But when something horrible happened to Chan Miu Ying,who by now became a ghost ,he had to become a monk in exchange for a chance for her to stay on earth to realise her dreams of helping her father.So actually he became a monk for quite a noble but not so right reasons.Along the way,his mission is to find the seven elements of human sufferings,and he was christenes ‘Shuet but dak’,meaning,Speak No More.Why?I dunno.Anyway,he had to find the seven ‘But Dak’s’ before he can cease to be a monk and marry Chan niu Ying who will be promised a chance to become human again.So he found his disciple,Lau Yoke Chui who became ‘Tam But Dak’ meaning Greed No More.Well,she was greedy,she loved money and the only reason she became a monk is because she was promised that she’ll see her husband (Marco Ngai) again if she followed Lam in the journey of self discovery.Along the way,they investigated weird cases that seemed out of this world but actually isn’t and they came to realise that there is a greater purpose in life than just love and love and love.

The HATE factor : Well,probably you’ll hate some of the murderers,who usually killed for flimsy reasons though there are some that killed for some purposes that they themselves feel was right.For eg,in one of the stories,Lo Lan,the first wife to a very rich man who killed her own step sons,husband and felt no regret for what she had done.The purpose?She has a retarded son whom she feared for his future(money and position in the family) because basically,the other children are just greedy and damn selfish.So to protect his interest,she killed all those entitled to the inheritance thus leaving him the sole beneficiary.Bu the thing is,she just never asked,never tried to communicate with her step-children who isn’t really that horrible.Maybe you’ll pity her.Anyway,others that you’ll definitely hate are the princess(Tong Ying Ying) and her mother.They’re the most selfish and overbearing people you’ll see in this serial.Or you may hate the king for being unreasonable and at times,a wimp.He’s a king but he can never make a definate decision like a king should.

The PITY factor : Definitely Chan Miu Ying.She was just a doctor’s daughter,a nice girl whom Lam Ka Tung really really liked.But she never really liked him because he was such a bully to her when she was just a kid.Anyway,because of a minister who died during her care as a doctor in another village,without proper investigation and the lack of motive and evidence,those hypocrites beheaded her.So she died,but before she died she made a wish to go home.So as a spirit she went home to her unknowing father who still scolded her.But as her time was running out coz those pesky Ghost catcher,those I would say like Mr Death was coming to get her,so with her limited time period she tried to finish off her duties as a filial daugther.But the thing is that she wasn’t really a ghost but actually some kind of a zombie who’ll rot.When she discovered that,she ran far far away.When Lam Ka Tung knew of this,the whole village prayed for her soul and thus she was released from the sufferings of being neither here nor there as a ghost and became a proper ghost that lives in an umbrella.The point is the way she died will make your heart go screaming..”IT”S UNFAIR!! #$%&$#%!” Yep,that language included.

The GREATEST Sacrifice : Definately Lam Ka Tung.I mean he was a playboy,extremely knowledgeable and a world of fortune waiting for him.But he chose to become a monk for Marianne.Why?Because he was promised by that Sack Monk(later his SiFu/Master who would give him tips on how to solve the cases) that if he is successful in finding the seven But Taks (The seven No More’s),Marianne’s soul can be released and they can be together again.But of course along the way he discovered that being a monk was his destiny in life and after a while,love didn’t matter.There is a greater purpose in life and he embraced that.Well,only in the final episode.

Most Annoying character : Definitely Lau Yoke Choi’s Tam But Tak(Greed no More).In her previous life,she was a mother bird who was too busy trying to profit from her association with the Buddha of Wisdom,being Lam Ka Tung’s previous life that she neglected her bird children that fell to their deaths.In this life,wanting to find her husband again (Marco Ngai) she became a monk and went with Lam Ka Tung.But the thing is,she is so greedy,that she lives up to her name.She can be such a pest that talks too much,way too much that you’ll probably discontinue watching this serial.Please don’t if you do ever feel that way.

Most Memorable Bits : I wouldn’t say there aren’t any nice stories in here but I can’t remember the most memorable ones.Maybe when Marianne died,or the way she died,or the starting of the show that showed how Lam Ka Tung’s previous life died(Which was shocking!),or what the Sifu(Sack Monk) said that can be quite educational in the lessons of life.

Special Treats : This serial is different from other released serials for quite a number of reasons.One of those is that at the end of each tape,there is a short 5 minutes segment where the characters in the serials will ask some questions about life,about the way we see things around us and the Sack Monk will answer them according to the teachings of Buddhism.It’s like trying to explain the philosophies of Buddhism with some question and answer session.So don’t miss it.Make sure you fast forward the credits and stay tune.Don’t ever stop when the picture stops.Or you’ll miss this little short segment.

Interesting Quotes : There was one story that I particularly liked in the 5 Minute segment at the end of the tape.So this is my best effort of translation.Please don’t laugh at the mistakes.

There was an old mother who seemed to worry most of the time,so she never really smiled.When a monk saw her like this and her solemn,unhappy face,he asked her what’s the matter.The old woman said,”I have two daughters and I worry for both of them.My eldest daughter sells umbrellas and my second daughter sells hay-shoes.And I worry for my eldest daughter when it’s not raining because then she won’t be able to sell her umbrellas,and yet I worry for my second daughter if it rains because then people won’t buy her shoes.It’s very troubling and I don’t know what to do.”And the monk smiled at her trouble.The monk,giving her the simplest solution to her problem simply said,”Well then,think of it this way.If it rains,then your eldest daughter will be able to sell her umbrellas and if it doesn’t,your second daughter will be able to sell her shoes.”The moral of the story is don’t worry too much.There are often various angles to what you see .It’s just how you want to see it.Look at life positively,rather than negatively.That makes life easier and simpler. And much much much happier.

Another quotation I particularly liked.When the old monk(the sack monk) was confronted by a woman-monk with some powers similar to the sack monk,who was actually very angry because her whole family died as a result of poverty and I think,being murdered(I am not sure),she couldn’t understand why the sack monk refused to help her,and why Buddha failed her.She was a monk all her life but she became dissatisfied,disillusioned.So she plotted revenge against the sack monk for refusing to feed her family and did many evil deeds.After her family died,she scolded Buddha,learned evil powers,became a false nun full with hate.But the sack monk just looked at her and said,”Your family died with anger,so their soul was not rested and they could not continue the cycle of rebirth.They were suffering as spirits because they couldn’t be released of such position.Do you remember the two monks that you deemed stupid when you were a novice in their temple?All the hurtful thoughts that you said about them to yourself? They prayed for your family’s soul to be released.They prayed night and day and day and night for many days,without sleeping,nor resting.That was why your family’s soul could be released for rebirth,that was why they could rest in peace.Then ask yourself.At the times of your family’s sufferings,at the times of their greatest difficulties,at the times when they needed you the most,where were you?What were you doing?What were you thinking?”

Most Memorable Performance : Frankly,none here.I guess the most memorable performance is the script writers who made Buddhism easily understanble,even easier to grasp.But actors-wise,I personally felt Marianne was a bit too….well,not good enough,Lau Yoke Choi was way too much of her,the other characters aren’t great and Lam Ka Tung was wrong for the role.He was supposed to be serious but you just can’t help laughing by just looking at him.He doesn’t have the serene look,that nobility you saw in Kong Wah’s potrayal of the monk in Journey to the West but then again,maybe he wasn’t supposed to be like that.After all he’s just a novice monk who was reluctant and didn’t quite enjoy his mission at first.But somehow he doesn’t strike me as a monk.So he could have been the Not Good Enough Performance but yet he wasn’t that bad.I know,I know, I am confusing myself.Just put it this way,nobody memorable here.Not even Marco Ngai.

Confusing Stuffs : Yep,plenty here.Not the cases.Most of the time though they looked like supernatural(Which reminds me of the Mulder-approach) but actually there is a perfectly scientific explanation to them (The Scully Approach).The confusing stuffs here is the characters themselves.Though they were forced to be monks,or were reluctant monks in the form of Lam Ka Tung and Lau Yoke Chui,but that doesn’t justify them still eating meat,be in love,say the wrong things.After all,they are dressed in Monk’s clothings,and heads were shaven.So it didn’t seem right.Some people may be offended,I know I’s just wasn’t right.Somehow,the whole serials lacked dignity because of such protrayals.I guess blame the script writers,who otherwise have done such an excellent job in simplifying Buddhism for us.

And another.Maybe TVB lacked actresses.This woman,she played the character of a wife in one of the stories and then,later in the serials,she became a monk,with powers like the sack-monk only she was evil.Now you may be confused here,thinking her second character was a continuation of the first character in the earlier story.It isn’t.So don’t be confused like I was.

The Verdict : Can’t say I loved it.It could be boring at times.Maybe it’s just a matter of taste.But considering the whole other types of serials in the market,this one is refreshing in terms of emphasis.Something different.I like the title song,sung by Wong Jim.Also something different.It’s like something new ,though it involves the usual investigation process.It may not have been a classic,you may not like it but most probably your Buddhist grandma may love it.There isn’t much drama but what it lacks it fully made up by all those philosophical lessons.You might learn something here.So I would say it has been educational.Be forewarned,this is a serial based on teachings of Buddhism.Some may not like the contents but it could still be a family entertainment for the older generations.Nothing cute here and no Fave Couples here coz there aren’t any couples in here.Now you must be asking,”What then is Marianne to do in here?”Plenty.Just because a pretty girl is in here doesn’t mean she has to be a love interest that has a fruitful ending to their love story.Did I give away the ending?Frankly,there’s no ending to this serial.Not those definate ones.

Is is BETTER than…: Journey To The West Part One and Two?Frankly?Honestly?No where near these two serials.Especially not the first above mentioned serial.That was a classic.Part two was entertaining in some parts.Some of the storyline here is very similar to JTTW.Both talked about Buddhism.But that’s where the similarities ends.This serial has no monkey shouting “Yo!”,or pigs or Kuan Yin or Buddha.It’s a relatively small production. Nothing supernatural in here though there were some special effects shown.For more interesting and much more educational serial,go for JTTW.For simple entertainment,something serious,something quite educational and something much more ordinary but yet different,something just to pass your time,this serial would be just fine .

Interesting Facts/Fiction: This serial can be confusing at times in the way the characters are potrayed.I just don’t believe a bird can be human in just one life cycle.
Anyway,notice the relationship of the mother and the king.The king could be such a wimp and the mother,she could just butt-in to those important issues of the way the son administer his administration.The way her son runs the country.I hate to say this coz I am a girl,a female of the species.But consistently protrayed in real life and in fiction,if the mother or wife is too meddlesome in the king’s affairs of state business,most probably the king is a wimp and probably a very bad and weak king.If the mother never meddles,most probably the king will be like the greatest king,though this may not necessarily be the case.

And another interesting fact.Purportedly,the last episode of this serlal gained 40 points in ratings.That is pretty high.But do remember,this was the time where Huan Zhu Ge Ge was on and the highest rating for that show was over 50 points,I think.Go figure.


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