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.


Which Is
A very touching tale about life after 40 so to speak, having lost his job and so called friends and then his own wife, it is a tale about a man trying to find his own voice in Guangzhou after HK failed to give him that opportunity. Set in modern HK, a few years before the handover to China in 1997.

How Long
20 episodes/10 tapes

Cheng Dan Seui ~ Yu Wing Tit
Lai Yiu Cheung ~ Ng Gin Ngai
Cheung Ho Yee ~ Chai Ho Fung
Mui Siu Wai ~ Wong Wong
Lau Sin Yee ~ Chau Mou Chi
Wallis Pang ~ Chai Ho Gwai

This is a really old serial, I saw this like billions of years ago, so there may be some points that I may've left out.

The Plot
Plenty to tell, in so short a time. Cheng Dan Sui is your typical house-husband type of man, but not yoru typical HK career man. He works as a top manager of a toy company and he was good in his younger days but being complacent in his job, he stopped working hard years ago. So when he was suddenly fired from his job, he realized how little value he is to the HK work force. Unable to find a job, he is often reminded of this fact because his wife is a successful and smart career woman. They have no children but a dog which Cheng hates. His wife tried to help her husband but all he ever do see is his wife disrespecting him. Then he went into the business of beauty saloon with the help of his sister in law, a woman from China married to his brother, a trucker living in Guangzhou, he finally found his niche, only to be ruined by a village kinda man, Lai Yiu Cheung who is actually a famous botanist. Lai was apologetic for making reports about Cheng using fake facial brand names, and tried to help but to no avail. Feeling the worst has already come, he went home to HK only to find his wife a little bit too distant from him. And because of a career choice, she left and so is his marriage. HE then somehow became great friends with the very man who ruined his first chance of his first millions, because Lai's a very optimistic man. They went into the business of selling flowers (I am not sure if this is correct). Along the way, he met and fell for his wife's very very distant relative, Maggie Cheung who unlike his wife, is a very supportive woman and who encouraged him. He begins to have great confidence in himself, and is deeply in live with Maggie and then his wife comes home and everything seems a bit out of place for this man, all over again.

How About..

Mui Siu Wai's character ? : She plays a very important part here, a direct contrast to Maggie. Whilst Maggie is an educated simple and nice girl, Mui is your typical china chinese girl, can't even speak right, never wears make up and has no ladylike manners whatsoever. But she is deeply in love with Lai, someone she grew up with and someone she admires for his intelligence. Providing one of the most poignant scenes in this serial, her love for him as unrequited until the end, when that Lai realized the woman that love him the most and the woman that he loves the most is Mui after all, irrespective and despite of her looks, behaviours and lack of education, she is after all a good woman.

Maggie Cheung's character : She is your not so typical modern china chinese girl, smart, pretty and nice. And very confident of herself, she encouraged Cheng when he was unhappiest and she never questioned his actions or beliefs, as opposed to his wife who was a little bossy and over-protective. Which was why he fell for her and they even spent one night together and he even proposed to her and then his wife came back. And everything was just ruined by her coming back. He didn't feel guilty actually because he thought his wife was already seeing someone. But the truth is she didn't. But Maggie felt guilty because after all, she is relative you know, someone of same blood. But Cheng didn't really care until he found out that his wife's beloved mother died and his wife became inconsolable and he hugged her and you and I know, Maggie is history.

Lai Yiu Cheung's character : Your typical china chinese man, but smarter. He treated Mui as a sister and when he found out she was in love with him, he reluctantly said yes to the union that he despised. Not because of looks actually but because to him, Mui was unrefined. He fell for Maggie actually but she didn't love him. Anyway, when he was treated the same was he treated Mui in the shopping complex, he realized what a jerk he was and he realised that he loved Mui because she was always there for him. Quite a touching love story actually.

The rest of the cast : Can't remember what they are her for actually, but the main ones are as explained above.

The Best Scenes
Shouldn't be called Best scenes but poignant scenes. Well for some, the one where Lai told Mui about some fate games, where the girl and guy will walk in separate directions in a shopping mall and if they ever bump into each other again, then they're fated to be with each other. Lai obviously wanted to get rid of Mui and so he ran away, whilst Mui who is not stupid realized he didn't love her. A very good scene.

And the same thing happened to Lai and the woman he was interested in. He then realized how Mui felt.

The scene where Cheng accidentally walked into the bedroom unannounced and his wife was changing clothes and she immediately covered her almost naked body. Do remember that they're husband and wife and so her actions kinda meant something is wrong. The same thing happened to the wife where Cheng immediately stopped unzipping his pants when she came into the room unannounced.

The scene where the wife found out about her mother's death and Cheng wanting to talk about divorce couldn't and just hugged her. And the almost last scene where they moved from the house to repay some debts (I can't remember this one specifically) and starting all over again with his wife and both of them were hugging each other and Cheng saw the back of a painting which was bought when they were married and they both smiled. I like this ending because it was different. I really thought the wife's gonna leave and Maggie's here to stay. I mean you can't just leave a ten year of marriage when you still feel love for one another, and walking down memory lane of their happier times during their marriage did help indeed with the healing process. A very touching scene.

The ending scene after 1997 and Cheng and Lai became very successful in their business of botanists and he saw Maggie whilst he was walking in Guangzhou. She was obviously older and though she just walked away after saying high, he asked her before she left, how is her fiancé? (she used this excuse saying that she married someone else to make him feel less guilty years ago for going back to his wife), and she just smiled and walked away. I don't remember her saying anything, but the point is he knew then she used it as an excuse. For a moment, he felt regret for letting her go but what to do? Quite a sad scene.
The Ultimate Classic Scene
Every time Lai sings that famous Hokien song, Ai Pia Jia Eh Ia, his motto in life meaning Take risk,only then will we win! And some really bad pronunciation as well.

Incompatible Couple
Cheng and Maggie? No way! Mui and Lai? Acting wise yes,couple wise maybe.

Best Performances
Everybody is so very good in here that is is rare for me to say the casting is almost perfect. But the ones that stood out were Lai Yiu Cheung(for his very funny accent, his singing, his great performance), Mui Siu Wai (for her daring acting with no make up on and her accent, and mind you, NO MAKE-UP for whole serial, do not expect to see her transformed into a swan, no such scene which is very realistic), and to some extent Maggie Cheung Hor Yee. She is a fine actress until she became rather predictable in all her roles. This is one of the rare ones where she shines in her innocence and her simplicity as a very simple girl.

OK Performances
Cheng Dan Sui is ok, though in a more emotional scene you'll see he is not that good. But the funny thing about this man is that when he acts, with TVB that is, all the serials he acted in, though small productions are relatively good.

Is it worth Renting
Definitely worth renting. This was a surprise hit in HK many years ago, thanks to the fine script, an interesting premise, a realistic ending and fine performances. I thoroughly enjoyed this serial and I remembered renting it many years because I wanted to see something simple and yes, this was a very simple serial, but powerful at the same time.

It dealt with marriages, that was almost loveless, hope and romance, friendship, prejudices. As the title suggest, HK people at Guangzhou, you would know that HK people at that time were like so modern whilst to them, China people were backwards in their thinkings. So Cheng represented that idea of modern HK and Lai the modern China. Prejudices galore in this serial but when they put everything aside, they discover they're the same people so what is there to be afraid of 1997?It is a rhetoric question because Hk is now part of China as SAR, with special privileges. But this serial shows the fear and the prejudices and how cheap it is for HKers to live in China.

So my verdict is simple. One of the all time best from TVB and a thoroughly enjoyable film. Fans of Mui and Cheng and Lai and Cheung take note, watch this to see your idols before they became too big for their own good, and also to see some fine acting and storyline by TVB.

I just love the ending, no crap like the wife going away and the mistress here to stay, which makes this serial so different from the rest.

Interesting Facts
Cheng is no longer in TVB. Lai Yiu Cheung is now with China Star and you can see him opposite Michael Dao in that whatever Tycoon serial distributed by TVB, which is a great loss because he is a very very good actor. How can we not remember Piggy from JTTW?

Anyway, I remembered reading his comments on the success of ATE and the bad ratings of his new serial, and he said that he saw ATE and it was either one killing another or a father killing another father. Meaning lots of unrealistic plot, which was why he was confident that people will watch his new show.

I beg to differ Mr Lai. Though I hated ATE and I think I might like your new serial, and I do like realistic storyline, but too realistic a storyline means too close to reality meaning too real meaning people will not like it much because we watch TV serials to be entertained, to forget some of our worries for a few hours and to immerse ourselves in a life we may never have, or that we may have had but long forgotten. So too realistic a show means too boring. But you were right about ATE, it is boring not because it was unrealistic but because it was too repetitive in its storyline.

And the same argument can be used for the arguments used against War of the Genders by the ATV people in their new show meant to kill WOG, unsuccessfully.

Interesting Comparison
This serial touches on life after 40,life after being sacked by their jobs and starting all over again and finding love. It does have some similarities with the recent hit show Ups And Downs (refer to the review) starring Kong Wah. But that show is about economic downturn and unemployment (but 99% is about love actually and relationships) but this present serial though had issues about unemployment and love but it had an added ingredient of the relationship between China and HK, though it is not political in that sense. If I had to choose which was better, my choice would be A Road And A Will, because it was not draggy and it boasted some great performances.

Interesting Observation
A Road And A Will, a great title, that basically described the whole serial in one nice title. And the Chinese title, Heung Kong Yan Joi Kwong Jau meaning HK People AT Guangzhou, also a very nice title because that's what the whole serial was about.


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