Sunday, July 17, 2011

Review of “Golden Snake Sword 金蛇郎君" (1993)

Cast: Ekin Cheng, Angela Pang, Jacqueline Law, Wun Yeung Ming, Lau Kong, Ma Ching Yi, Cheung Yik, etc.

** Note: The series was originally filmed in 1991, but warehoused and released overseas in 1993. I’m not sure if the series ever aired in HK (though I assume it probably did at one point).

I will be the first to admit that I didn’t think I would like this series at all, given that the cast – on first glance – did not seem entirely appealing to me (Ekin and Jacqueline have always been steady in terms of their acting and I like them overall, but I’m not a huge fan of either – plus Angela was supposedly the female lead in this series and you know how I feel about newbies leading when they don’t have any acting experience….). Also, based on the title, I thought at first that this series would be another one of those dreaded, butchered, “cheap adaptations” of Jin Yong’s novel (which TVB was notorious for in the 90s), so I was a bit reluctant to give this series much thought. Needless to say, I only watched the series because it came on TV – if it hadn’t come on TV, I probably would not have chosen to watch it on my own accord.

First off, I realized while watching the series that it totally has the wrong title – I’m actually not sure why they used the title 金蛇郎君 (literally translated as “Golden Snake Master”) because the series has nothing to do with that at all. It’s not a remake of that particular JY story, that’s for sure. True, it does try to ‘incorporate’ certain elements of that story in the series – for example: having Ekin’s character discover some mountaintop cave during one particular episode where he finds the golden snake sword and martial arts manual belonging to the Golden Snake Master and learns the kungfu from there – but that was for only one episode. Though there are mentions of the Golden Snake Master throughout the series, the way the mentions were done made it seem like his role was more of a “historical figure” or a “rumored legend”. I’m thinking that perhaps that particular title was used for the series because Ekin’s signature weapon was the golden snake sword and also because in a way, they were trying to draw some similarities between Ekin’s story and the Golden Snake Master’s story (they also used the title “Golden Snake Master” for Ekin in the laster half of the series). I think the best way to describe the intent of the title is to say that it was meant to tell the story of a “Golden Snake Master” in a later generation who goes through similar suffering. Also, those familiar with Jin Yong’s “Crimson Sabre” story will definitely recognize the similarities in the storyline (in fact, Angela’s character in the story is totally a ‘rip-off’ of the Wan Yi character in JY’s “The Crimson Sabre” except with a few important differences – more on this later).

I actually wasn’t paying much attention to the series in the beginning because I didn’t think the series was going to be any good (and quite a few of the beginning parts were truly boring), so not surprisngly, I didn’t understand much of what was going on in the first 5 to 6 episodes. Also, there were various parts in the storyline in the first couple episodes that really did not make much sense either and I was so confused, it sort of turned me off from wanting to continue watching. It wasn’t until around episodes 7 and 8 (or so) when the love story involving Ekin and Angela’s characters started that the storyline picked up a little and I became more interested in watching (ok, I confess – I’m a sucker for “tug at your heartstrings’ type love stories in done correctly with artists who match up well – plus Ekin and Angela had good chemistry and it was refreshing seeing someone other than the ‘usual female leads’ paired up with Ekin for a change).

This series was very much a ‘hit and miss’ for me – there were some parts of the storyline that were okay and kept me interested, but there were other parts of the storyline that were quite illogical and ‘non-sensical’. If it weren’t for the fact that I liked Ekin’s character (and Angela’s to some extent) and also enjoyed the story between the two, I probably would not have bothered to keep watching, especially since there were so many things about the series that annoyed me. Also, one word of caution for those who may be debating whether they want to watch this series or not – if you’re a die-hard Jin Yong fan, you may want to think twice about watching this series because there is a high probability that you may get ticked off. There are SO MANY elements in the storyline that are obvious “rip-offs” of various Jin Yong works (and other famous martial arts-themed stories) that it’s not even funny – it’s almost as though the scriptwriter and producer were lazy and simply lifted some of the ideas from the novels, changed some things around, then put it all together to form a “supposedly” un-related story (a ‘hodge-podge’ of sorts of JY’s works) – which could be why I felt that some parts were choppy and didn’t make sense…a poor editing job (certain scenes cut out) could have contributed to the confusion as well. Die-hard Jin Yong fans with a keen eye will surely recognize many of the so-called “coincidences” between the series and his works (I’m not a ‘die-hard’ fan, but even I recognized certain ‘similarities’ to at least 3-4 of his works). TVB definitely took a lot of liberty with the script, that’s for sure (similar thing that they did with “The Crimson Sabre” in 2000, but that was worse because that was promoted as an adaptation when it was a completely different story while this one wasn’t a direct adaptation but rather a “copy cat”). In my opinion, this series really shows how much the writers lack creativity (or in some cases, lack the time to produce a truly good script) – which is probably one of the (many) reasons why TVB stopped producing as many ancient series in the 90s and after 2000 compared to back in the 80s.

Here’s a brief rundown of some of the main characters from the series as well as my comments on the artists who played the characters:

.>> Ekin Cheng (Gai Lien Wan)– Not surprisingly, Ekin plays a chivalrous warrior who is skilled in martial arts. His character appears to be a playful, spoiled youth in the beginning who is pampered and protected by his ‘sifu’ (and god-father of sorts), but it turns out that he is actually a very righteous person who really hadn’t gone through much hardship in the beginning so didn’t really understand the difficulties of life or how evil people around him could truly be. After he is framed by his enemies and accused of killing a lot of people (which he obviously didn’t do), resulting in his god-father’s entire family – including his fiancee Loong Yee, whom he loves very much – sacrificing their lives in order to save him, he ‘grows up quickly’ so to speak and his personality changes – he becomes ‘cold and unfeeling’ to everyone around him (or tries to at least). He also becomes hell-bent on doing everything he can to find out who the mastermind was behind the killing of his god-father’s family and seeking revenge for their deaths (sound familiar?). He finds the Golden Snake sword and martial arts manual, learns the skills in there, and sets off on his path to ‘revenge’ – though later on, it also becomes a mission to find out who he truly is and the reason why his sifu’s family had to sacrifice for him.

On the way, he meets Ha Hou Yin (played by Angela Pang), who is the daughter of the man responsible for framing him and causing his god-father’s family to be killed (Ha Hou Yi, who was played by veteran actor Cheung Yik). Even though Lien Wan vows never to love another woman again after his fiancee died, he ends up falling in love with Yin and subsequently does everything possible to take care of her and protect her. Later on in the series, we find out about Lien Wan’s true identity (which he didn’t even know himself, since he was adopted by his god-father at a very young age) – he is actually supposed to be a ‘prince’, since his biological father was originally supposed to be a successor to the Ming Dynasty imperial throne. Supposedly, Lien Wan’s background is the catalyst for most of what happens in the series, as a powerful Eunuch (play by Lee Sing Cheong) was plotting all along to get rid of all the potential descendants of the throne, which included killing Lien Wan. In a nutshell, without revealing too much about the ending or details of the storyline, that’s basically the premise for Ekin’s character and everything he goes through in the series.

I’ve never been a fan of Ekin’s, but I do have to say that he did a great job in this series. He’s one of those actors who has that ‘martial arts warrior’ type look and feel, so that’s probably why he’s put in those types of roles often. I actually liked his performance a lot in this series, as I felt that he balanced the ‘good’ and the ‘not so good’ sides of his character quite well, probably because he’s good at portraying the dramatic, conflicted type characters who are inherently good, but sometimes resorts to extreme tactics to achieve justice. I like how Ekin’s character in the series is very strong-willed and doesn’t let the people around him push him around and he doesn’t give up easily – even when he is defeated, he continues to fight for his loved ones as well as his convictions. I’m glad whoever wrote the script didn’t make his character a villain because frankly, I’ve never felt that Ekin’s villain roles are convincing enough. He does play the tragic warrior/hero characters quite well though! If I had to choose, I would have to say that his character was my favorite in this entire series.

.>> Angela Pang (Ha Hou Yin) – Angela’s character is very compassionate (which is what attracts Ekin’s character to her) and even though she looks like a meek, quiet woman on the outside, she is actually very strong and brave on the inside (she doesn’t know any martial arts whatsoever). To understand how Angela’s character is, just think of the character Wan Yi from “The Crimson Sabre” or “Sword Stained with Royal Blood”, as the character was pretty much a direct copy from there (personality traits and everything). Even the situations that Yin goes through are similar: she is a docile but defiant young woman who is kidnapped by the man her father is trying to destroy (Lien Wan), then falls in love with him when she realizes he is actually a good righteous man, marries him, and eventually has a child with him. Of course, she also defies her father later on because of his evil deeds.

Even though the character was an obvious copy, I would have to say that Ha Hou Yin is a more “ideal” version of Wan Yi because of some of the extra elements that were added to her personality (which the original character didn’t have) and also the fact that she and her lover do have a happy ending. Some of the differences that I saw between the 2 characters (Ha Hou Yin and Wan Yi): 1) Yin doesn’t die in the end and gets to live ‘happily ever after’ with the man she loves, 2) Yin goes through a lot more pain and suffering than Wan Yi did (mainly at the hands of her former fiance Ying Tin Ming, played by Vincent Wan) – this part is probably because she is a ‘main character’ who appears throughout the story, whereas Wan Yi only appears during certain parts of the story, 3) Yin is a lot stronger in personality than Wan Yi: she knows exactly what she wants and is not afraid to do what is right -- plus even though she is filial to her father, she is not blind to his actions and doesn’t let him control her.

I admit that during the first 7 episodes or so, I had no clue that the character of Ha Hou Yin was played by Angela Pang. I was able to recognize and name all the other artists up to that point except for her – it wasn’t until I saw her name in the closing credits during episode 8 that I finally realized it – though I probably should have guessed because she was the one who sang the theme song and subtheme song when it would have made more sense for Ekin to sing it.

I actually don’t know too much about Angela because she hasn’t been in the industry for that long – the most I knew was that she is a singer, as she entered the industry after winning a singing contest, but I didn’t know that she had participated in TV series as well (though the number of series she participated in were very few – her role in this series was probably the biggest one of her career). Like most people, I mostly remember Angela from her popular duet with William So 《從不喜歡孤單一個》(a beautiful song, by the way) in 1993/94 –from hearing her perform that song and others, I’ve always associated her with having a very strong, powerful singing voice, plus physically, she is quite tall and comes across to me as the ‘tomboyish’ type for some reason, so it was just difficult for me to imagine her playing such a feminine, demure character as she did in this series. (Actually, just listening to how she sings the themesong and subtheme to this series, it’s very hard to imagine that the person playing the role is the same person – those who choose to watch the series will know what I mean).

I feel that Angela’s character was ok for being a ‘newbie’ (to the acting scene at least). There were some parts where it felt like the dialogue was rehearsed, but then again, I felt that way during other parts of the series with some of the other artists as well, so I can’t really blame that on her acting in particular. One indication that her performance was ok – I actually liked her character…in fact, her character was my 2nd favorite one after Ekin’s. Anyway, I’m not going to comment too much on her acting because I honestly don’t have enough information to go off of -- though I will say that I did like her pairing with Ekin and they had pretty good chemistry (in the second half of the series at least).

.>> Jacqueline Law (Yuet Buen Wan) – Jacqueline plays one of the ‘Holy Maidens’ from the Sa Tin Ba Sect – a sect that views all females as superior and males as mere ‘slaves’ whose sole purpose is to help them continue the family line, after which the male’s fate is to die (um, I didn’t really get the ideology here, but ok) – basically, the sect is one of the biggest ‘evil cults’ in the martial arts world. She’s actually the daughter of the sect leader so she has an important position as the future leader of the sect. When Ha Hou Yi uses the sect to frame Lien Wan (accusing Lien Wan of being in cahoots with the sect to destroy the rest of the world), Yuet Buen Wan rescues Lien Wan and falls for him, even defying all sect rules in order to be with him. Unfortunately, Lien Wan only loves his dead fiancee and even though he is grateful to Yuet Buen Wan for saving him and taking care of him when he was injured, he doesn’t love her and will only treat her like a sister. Yuet Buen Wan is so in love with him and obsessed with him that she won’t accept the fact that he doesn’t love her and subsequently does all sorts of crazy things to try to get him to change his mind – then, when he refuses to change his mind and declares that he only loves Yin, she plots to kill him out of rage and jealousy (um, yea, that’s a dumb move!). I don’t know if I would consider her character a villain – she’s pretty much tortured by love for a man who will never be hers and it causes her to do a lot of very evil things. Plus she does sort of redeem herself (somewhat) in the very last episode. I guess the most I can say is that her character in here is a “mad woman” (meaning crazy and stubborn).

My thoughts regarding Jacqueline’s character -- um, TVB must have known that she was leaving their company and therefore gave her such a crappy character in here. Her character was downright annoying, stupid, crazy, wicked, unreasonable, stubborn, bxxchy, etc. (I could apply so many more adjectives to describe her character, but will stop here). Her obsession with Ekin’s character was WAY overboard – she went from loving him to wanting to kill him because he didn’t love her, then still loving him and wanting to be with him and getting jealous and envious….geez, she was like all over the place – she basically keeps making advances at him when he had already made it clear to her over and over again that he doesn’t like her. They made her character out to be such a desperate and unreasonable woman in here, it really ticked me off. Oh, and it really disgusted me to see her keep pushing herself on Ekin’s character and wanting to be his lover, even after she finds out in the later half of the series that she
is actually his half-sister (same father, different mothers)…I mean, is that gross or what??? Urgh!!! The one redeeming factor is that she comes to her senses in the end and saves Ekin’s character (and later dies protecting him).

Jacqueline’s character was such a waste in this series. First of all, her role was clearly a supporting one because Angela was the lead in this series (one indication that TVB didn’t think too highly of her at that time, probably because this was her last series and she was going to leave TVB). Having a lead actress relegated to a supporting role isn’t necessarily a bad thing if the character she plays is a well-written and well-developed one – but in this case, not only was Jacqueline playing a supporting role, her character absolutely sucked! With Jacqueline’s good looks and acting skills, it’s such a shame that they gave her such a pathetic character to play in this series!

.>> Vincent Wan Yeung Ming (Loong Zheng/Ying Tin Ming) – Vincent’s character in this series is obviously the villain -- well, not really during the first 5 episodes or so, but he does turn into the evilest of all villains later on as the series progresses (and when I say ‘villain’ I mean it – he’s basically crazy and likes going around killing innocent people for no reason). Ying Tin Ming’s original name is Loong Zheng -- he is the son of Lien Wan’s god-father, Loong Sau Yat (played by veteran actor Chu Tiet Wo) and is therefore Lien Wan’s “see hing”. Tin Ming never had a good relationship with Lien Wan because he always felt that he was better than him and as his god-father’s son, had a certain authority over him. In a way, he was also jealous of Lien Wan getting all of his father’s attention, especially since Lien Wan was a bit rebellious in his youth and didn’t always listen. When Lien Wan is accused of being a traitor and is being pursued by the other sects wanting to kill him, Tin Ming doesn’t understand why his father goes to such great lengths to protect Lien Wan, even at the expense of sacrificing the lives of everyone in their family to do so (we later find out that it’s because Loong Sou Yat used to be a palace guard in the Ming Dynasty so it was his responsibility to protect Lien Wan, who would have been a potential successor to the throne). After everyone in his family dies except for him (because he refused to heed his father’s instructions to sacrifice in order to save Lien Wan), he takes refuge with the Ha Hou family and changes his name. He does not realize that Ha Hou Yi is actually a traitor in cahoots with the Eunuch and instead of seeking vengeance on behalf of his family, he embraces Ha Hou Yi as a father. As he gets more and more powerful in the area of martial arts, he also becomes more and more evil and maniacal – even more so than his ‘mentor’ Ha Hou Yi -- which eventually leads to his demise.

Tin Ming’s biggest problem is that he lets hatred and jealousy overtake him and push him over the edge. His hatred is primarily directed toward Lien Wan -- he hates Lien Wan's guts because 1) he blames Lien Wan for the tragedy that resulted in all of his family being killed (even though it was really Ha Hou Yi who was the mastermind behind it), and 2) he is humiliated that his fiancee Ha Hou Yin (whom Ha Hou Yi endowed to him as his wife only because the families were very close) falls in love with Lien Wan and runs off with him -- even the woman who eventually becomes his wife, Yuet Buen Wan (whom he truly does love a lot), only loves Lien Wan and not him.

In terms of Vincent’s acting – I really don’t have a lot of say about it because I’ve always been indifferent to him – I neither like him nor hate him, it’s just that his acting really isn’t my style. I will say though that his villain character in here was truly evil – even worse than Ha Hou Yi’s character in a sense – to the point that at times, I really felt like slapping him (maybe that’s an indication that he did a decent job in this series?). Well, there WERE some scenes where he was a bit stiff and his lines came across as rehearsed, but unless you’re really paying attention, you probably wouldn’t really notice it. Good thing they had him play the villain role in here as those are the roles that suit him best – I actually don’t like watching him play the ‘good guy’ roles because he just isn’t convincing in those roles.

.>> Lau Kong (Gai Po Gwun) – I actually didn’t like this character very much, as he is very selfish and majority of the time, is only thinking about himself. I mean, yes it is a pity that he was supposed to be successor to the throne but because of the evil Eunuch and the traitor Ha Hou Yi, he becomes crippled and is constantly locked up as a prisoner in Ha Hou Yi’s dungeon. I can understand him wanting revenge against those who wronged him, but he shouldn’t pull innocent people into it and use them / manipulate them selfishly for his own gain. The way that he treats his former lover Chor Lau Ying (played by Ma Ching Yee) is actually quite deplorable in my opinion – he knows that she loves and admires him deeply, however because he only loves his first wife (Lien Wan’s mother), he won’t allow himself to love her, yet still has an affair with her (hence Yuet Buen Wan is born) but leaves her to fend for herself. Even 20 years later, Lau Ying is still devoted to him and saves him numerous times whenever Ha Hou Yi tries to inflict harm on him – yet he takes advantage of her devotion to him to manipulate her to do things for him!

Also, the way he treats his son Lien Wan is pretty despicable as well. Even though he knows that Lien Wan is his son (though the son doesn’t know it), he doesn’t treat him as such and doesn’t even let him know of his lineage for most of the series so that he could use him to do things that he wanted – it’s almost like he isn’t capable of emotion or feelings and can only think of exacting revenge, no matter what it costs him. I absolutely hated how he kept trying to ‘use’ his son to get revenge for him after they were reunited – when he knew full well that Lien Wan was against seeking revenge and only wanted to live a normal, peaceful life with his wife (Lien Wan has never been one to care about title or power – at that point, he just wanted to retire to a hidden place with his wife Yin and anticipate the birth of their child).

In efforts to accomplish his mission of “revenge”, Po Gwun even lures Lien Wan away and captures Yin, then notifies Ying Tin Ming so that he could kill her, hoping that would spur Lien Wan to want to kill Tin Ming (and thereby indirectly help Po Gwun get his own revenge) – that is just so wrong that he would even think about hurting his son and daughter-in-law like that! Luckily, Po Gwun finds out just in time that Yin is pregnant with Lien Wan’s child and decides at the last minute to protect Yin instead of harming her for the sake of his future grandchild (and he gets captured by Ying Tin Ming because of it). That’s pretty much the only ‘unselfish’ and sensible thing he did throughout the entire series!

Lau Kong’s acting is great as usual – well of course, since he is a veteran actor, I definitely expect it to be good. I’ve always appreciated Lau Kong’s performances from the many series I’ve seen of his in the 80s – he’s one of those steady actors with tons of experience who is pretty much convincing no matter what character he plays.

.>> Ma Ching Yee (Chor Lau Ying) – This character is another pitiful one, though not as bad as Jacqueline’s character in my opinion. Lau Ying is the leader of the Sa Tin Ba Sect – on the surface, she makes people think that she dislikes men (because of the pain she endured from her previous relationship with Po Gwun), but in reality, she is still very much in love with Po Gwun and is still pining for him. When she finds out about Po Gwun’s plight, she is pained and does everything she can to save him from danger time and time again, hoping that he will have a change of heart and return to her and their daughter. Unfortunately, he does not return to her – he only uses her to help him carry out certain tasks that he can’t do himself. I would have to say that Lau Ying is a ‘tortured soul’ her entire life, as she even dies a tragic death at the hands of her daughter, who is upset at her for having given birth to her to be Lien Wan’s half-sister (ok, this part was REALLY twisted – how the heck is Lau Ying at fault for Yuet Buen Wan’s fate? And her daughter kills her because of it? Makes no sense!). Also, even at the point of death, Lau Ying is still concerned about Po Gwun’s safety and asks Yam Zhi Zhai to go save him (even though it’s obvious he didn’t love her) – pitiful and sad indeed!

I actually have never really liked Ma Ching Yee’s acting because she just comes across as too fake to me. Luckily, most of her roles have been supporting only and usually, because of her age, she usually plays the ‘mother’ characters and therefore generally does not have a whole lot of screen time. She was tolerable in this series....

.>> Cary Choi (Fung Fei Shuet) – She belongs to one of the 8 Main Sects that is deceived by Ha Hou Yi in the beginning and therefore her fiancé kills Lien Wan’s first lover, Loong Yi. After Lien Wan becomes powerful in martial arts due to learning the Golden Snake Master’s skills, he returns to seek revenge on the 8 Sects and purposefully kills Fei Shuet’s fiancé on their wedding day – she helplessly watches her fiancé die right in front of her eyes and instantly becomes a widow. From that day forward, she hates Lien Wan and vows to avenge her fiance’s death by killing Lian Wan at all costs. Later on, when she encounters Lien Wan again, she continues on her mission to kill him and wants to do so in front of Yin so that she can feel the pain of becoming a widow – unfortunately, Fei Shuet’s skills are no match for Lien Wan’s and she is defeated by him again and again (he doesn’t hurt her though because by this time, he is already remorseful for what he did and causing her so much pain). When Yin becomes really sick and needs a special medicine in order to save her and the baby, Fei Shuet steals the medicine before Lien Wan is able to get to it. In exchange for the medicine, Fei Shuet tells Lien Wan to drink a poison that will cause him to be in pain for 49 days, after which he will die an ugly and painful death – he agrees to drink the poison in order to save his wife and unborn child. Throughout the 49 days, she follows the couple around and sees how much they love each other and are willing to sacrifice for each other – she realizes what true love is about and so lets go of her hatred and gives Lien Wan the antidote that saves him. She forgives him for killing her fiancé and even becomes his ‘sworn sister’ and helps save him several times after that.

Cary has a small part in this series – to the point that I wouldn’t even call her a “supporting” character because she has way little screen time, but her role is very important during the last few episodes especially. I don’t have too much comment with regard to her acting, as she has never really played a big enough role in most of the series of hers that I’ve seen for me to make a judgment. She was primarily active in the late 80s/early 90s and retired from the industry back in the 90s, marrying a producer and living an ordinary life now.

.>> Choi Kwok Hing (Yam Zhi Zhai) – He plays the ‘grandmaster’ of the Loong sect who also happens to be a friend of Po Gwun (as well as his love rival 20 years ago in pursuit of Chor Lau Ying). He takes a liking to Lien Wan (well, he’s one of the few who knows both Po Gwun and Lien Wan’s true identities) and helps him constantly. Of course, being the grandmaster, his martial arts is quite good. His character is really a comical one in here, as he has a happy-go-lucky type personality and never seems to take anything seriously. He is the one who ends up revealing that Po Gwun is really Lien Wan’s father.

The character is played by veteran actor Choi Kwok Hing. I really don’t know a whole a lot about him, so can’t really comment – in fact, I’ve seen him in so many series, but never even knew his name! I only researched his name recently while writing this review.

.>> Lee Sing Cheong (Eunuch Cao) – He is the evil Eunuch who is trying to get rid of Po Gwun and Lien Wan because the Emperor feels threatened that they may overtake the throne some day (even though Po Gwun already expressed earlier on that he had no intentions of becoming Emperor). He shows up every once and awhile throughout the series to direct either Ha Hou Yi or Ying Tin Ming to do his bidding.

Even though he had a small role, Lee Sing Cheong was great in this series. His Eunuch role was very convincing – I can’t remember if I’ve seen him play eunuch roles before (it’s possible, since he’s been active in the industry for so long), but he was definitely perfect for the role.

.>> Cheung Yik (Ha Hou Yi) – His character is the ‘original’ villain in the series, but his status and power is later overtaken by Ying Tin Ming (who even kills him off to get rid of him). He’s the father of Ha Hou Yin (Angela’s character) and on the surface, he appears to be a righteous person, having tremendous power and respect in the martial arts world – but underneath, he’s actually a bad person who does various evil deeds. Plus he’s a traitor in that he works for the Eunuch to wreak havoc on the martial arts world.

This series doesn’t do justice to veteran actor Cheung Yik’s great acting skills. I know that Cheung Yik usually plays evil characters, which is where he excels (though he has also played the ‘benevolent father’ role a few times before as well), but in this particular series, his evil side never really showed through – I mean, if you compare him to Vincent Wan’s character, well, Cheung Yik’s character can be considered ‘tame’.


Overall, as I said earlier, I was ok with the series. There were definitely some parts that were overly draggy and I felt were very unnecessary (while at the same time, there were some parts that seemed incomplete, as though scenes were cut out). And yes, there were definitely a lot of ‘illogical’ things that happened – I mean, I know that with ancient series, there is a certain amount of leeway and it will never be ‘realistic’ like a modern series, but still, there were things that happened that didn’t even make sense in an ancient series setting (again, part of this could have been due to editing as well).

I do have to say though that the second half of the series was a lot more fast-paced than the first half and so that made the series more tolerable. Also, the big battle scene near the end of the series in which Lien Wan tries to save his dad and instead gets badly injured and supposedly 'killed' – that actually was quite an intense and suspenseful scene…the most climactic scene in the entire series. Oh, and the ending was a bit illogical in my opinion – all I’m going to say is that it’s a ‘happy’ ending to some extent, which I guess I really didn’t have too much of a problem with for this series because I don’t like overly tragic endings and this one was just right in that regard (though I can tell you that the ending is definitely predictable). Even though I’m glad the ending occurred the way it did, I still have to mention the fact that it was not entirely logical.

In terms of whether I recommend this series or not – well, that’s a tough one because I wouldn’t say that I hated the series, but I wouldn’t say that I loved it either (it was sort of in the middle for me). Fans of Ekin Cheng should definitely watch because his performance is actually quite good in here (I’m not a fan, but even I couldn’t help admiring his character in this series). And those who are familiar with Angela Pang and would like to see how she fares as an actress rather than a singer will probably be interested in this series as well (like I said earlier, Angela is the female lead, so she has a lot of screen time). Also, the Ekin / Angela pairing was quite interesting and I actually liked seeing them together, so that’s another plus. Oh, and of course, if ancient series are your thing, then that could be another reason for watching (though to be honest, there aren’t as many large-scale ‘fighting’ / martial arts scenes in this series compared to some of the other epic ancient series that TVB has made in the past – BUT there are enough fighting scenes to satisfy most martial arts series lovers). As for the illogical parts – well, if you’re able to ignore it and just watch the series for the message it is trying to convey, then you should be fine.


  1. I really like the pairing of Ekin and Angela. I'm quite confused by the facts that Angela is pregnant with Ekin's character. It seems like her belly never grows and I suppose she was more than 3 months pregnant with Lian Wan's baby.

    Was the pregnancy due to Lian Wan raping her??? If it is, the timing of those two falling in love (from the snake's cave to the under water cave , to Lian Wan's getting poisoned 7/7/49 days etc etc etc)

    Unless, it was in between the time period of them spending time together after they fell in love that she got pregnant.

    Aiyah..Alot of parts were not well directed. None the less, i love this series.

  2. @Anonymous: Definitely agree with you that the series was not well-directed. There were alot of things that didn't make sense and some parts of the plot that were way too far-fetched. Overall, I would say that the series is a bit 'messy' when it comes to the storyline -- normally, I'm not fond of confusing and 'messy' series like this one, but for some odd reason, I liked this series too. Maybe because I liked the pairing of Ekin and Angela and the overall story about their relationship, so I was able to forgive some of the flaws?

    It's funny that I actually had the exact same question as you when I was watching this series.....the whole pregnancy thing with Angela's character was one of the 'farfetched' parts of the series. As you said, her belly never grows until like the last episode, even though she is supposedly pregnant through at least a third of the series. Plus remember how she goes through so much physical suffering in the last half of the series (getting captured a few times, beaten, having that illness that I still couldn't figure out what it was, jumping off that cliff with Ekin's character in that one scene, etc.), but yet, it doesn't affect her pregnancy at all. This would make sense to some extent if she had a martial arts background, as that would mean she has a stronger physique overall and can use the inner martial arts techniques (or whatever its called) to protect the baby...but in the series, her character comes across as the 'frail' type (physically) and she doesn't know any martial arts at all.

    As for the timing of the pregnancy, I agree with you that it's confusing -- I don't know the answer myself because the series seems to have 'glossed' over that fact, I was actually wondering about the same thing myself....

  3. What I LOVE most about this series is the love story :)

    I love Lien Wan and Hou Yin as a lovey dovey couple. They make sure a great couple and alot of chemistry. I like the fact that he's always protective of her. Unlike some of TVB's characters, when the guy/girl finds out that the person he/he loves is the daughter/son of his/her enemy,they end up breaking up blah blah. But this series was different. Lien Wan was able to set aside his hatred for Hou Yin's father and continues to love her deeply. Even if it means to give up everything to support Hou Yin and their baby. I remember one part clearly, it was when Hou Yin said " When you find out the truth and even if you decided to leave me. I won't regret b/c we have had a happy and peaceful life in the cave ". Lien Wan then said to Hou Yin " No..No matter what. I will never leave you. I promise to be with you forever ".
    OMG totallly love this part LOL..

    Back to the pregnancy:

    1st) I find it hard to digest when Hou Yin was drinking with Lien Wan and she was preg at the time LOL.. OK OK..I know it's just a series.

    2nd) Like you said, she was abused continuously and gave birth to a healthy baby. AIYAH!!! So many flaws.

    3rd) Despite this is an ancient series and everything should be invincible with kung fu, but the director should've delivered a thorough synopsis to make it more believable.

    I truly believe the time period of Lien Wan and Hou Yin's relationship is beyond months before she got pregnant.
    She doesn't fall in love with him over night. Suppose the baby was a product of his unintentional rape, Hou Yin could possibly be pregnant when they were in the Water Cave.

    4th) I suppose Lien Wan married Hou Yin after he found out she was pregnant, correct? Why is it her hair still left hanging? Isn't in the Ancient Series tradition that One must up-do their hair when they are married? Throughout the series, Hou Yin never tied up her hair after Lien Wan called her his "Wife" etc.


  4. @Tammy: I finally know your name! LOL! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this series – I liked this series a lot as well, so definitely happy to have someone to discuss it with.

    Ok, back to the commentary…

    Yup, the love story between Lien Wan and Hou Yin is also the main reason why I enjoyed this series so much, despite its many many flaws! Their story was definitely very heartfelt and I found myself being drawn in to their relationship and rooting for them all the way – I agree that part of it was probably due to the ‘freshness’ of the pairing for one and two, the chemistry between Ekin and Angela. Throughout the time I was watching this series, I kept telling myself that I sincerely hope this endearing couple ends up together at the end because it would be so devastating if their relationship ends tragically – as I said in my review, luckily the ending is a happy one for this couple (though overall, the ending was very predictable and sort of illogical).

    With regard to the pregnancy topic….I also believe that Lien Wan and Hou Yin’s relationship extended for quite some time before she got pregnant – it’s just that the director / producer / editor did such a poor job of piecing together the series that the timeline got quite messed up….but then again, seeing how there are SO MANY illogical things that occur in this series, I wouldn’t be surprised either if the pregnancy was truly the result of the unintentional rape.

    The interesting thing about the marriage piece is that, well, there was never any indication that the 2 of them had actually gotten married….basically, out of the blue, in one of the scenes, Hou Yin is suddenly referred to as “Gai Dai So” (Mrs. Gai) and from that moment on until the end of the series, she is referred to in that manner. I remember that as I was watching the series, that was one of the parts where I was scratching my head because I couldn’t recall any mention of marriage in any of the previous scenes / episodes. Regarding the hair thing…well, I’m not surprised because this series was so poorly put together that I highly doubt that the producer / writers even thought about this type of detail (if they did, there wouldn’t have been so many flaws and inconsistencies throughout the entire series).

  5. Perhaps the pregnancy was from the unintentional rape. Maybe the director intended to have the script be that way, but the directing was so horrible that it left us thinking hahah.
    Give me a break Mr. Director. Hou Yin has to be at least +3 months pregnant when Lien Wan drank the poison in order to save Hou Yin and his baby. Where the heck is the protruding belly after that?

    Like you said, prob due to the poor directing of the director LOL. I watch the series over, over and over ,so i can analyze haha (call me crazy).

    The moment when Hou Yin follows Lien Wan to go find his true identity, they actually sleep separately. But that was the beginning. I think as their love progresses, they became more intimate and comfortable with each other.
    One part where i find them sleeping together was when they reunited with his dad. The part where his dad made him take revenge and Lien Wan refuses and his dad didn't come in the house. It was pouring that night, Lien Wan got up in the middle of the night and Hou Yin was next to him (LOL..i know i know).

    I assume you saw this series in Canto/Mandarin? I actually saw this series in Vietnamese. Correct me if I'm wrong, since the translation can be embellished accordingly.

    Do you remember the part where Hou Yin got very sick and Lien Wan had to carry her to the Dai Fu (doctor) and Lien Wan begged the Dai fu for mercy in saving his "wife"? He asked the dai fu to save his "wife"? That was the Viet translation. Was that in the Chinese version as well?

    Another part was when Lien Wan was fighting the two crazy weirdos (Jac law an Vincent ), the girl in white dragged Hou Yin to the Snake's cave in order to save her, Hou Yin begged the girl to let her come back to see her husband in case if he dies, she can still see him. Hou Yin refers Lien Wan as her HUSBAND.
    Was that part of the Chinese version as well?

    In the Viet version, a few other scenes also tell me that Hou Yin and Lien Wan are married ( although not officially but because she's pregnant with his child and he LOVES her of course). Besides the above analysis.....

    Let me list one of the scenes where the director shows the two are married and you can correct me accordingly:

    1) Hou Yin call Lien Wan's long lost dad ," Father", after they re-united and lived together.

    2) Towards the end, Lien Wan was defeated and his veins were cut by his 1/2 sister and the evil guy, Hou Yin told the evil guy that she never regretted being married to Gai Lien Wan..AKA his wife


  6. @Tammy: Sorry it took so long to respond....been a bit busy lately....

    Yup...I couldn't help thinking throughout the entire time: "Hey, I thought she's supposed to be pregnant? Where's the protruding belly?" And it's not like she changes outfits or anything....if I remember correctly, throughout that entire time (prior to when she is captured by Vincent), she only changed outfits twice -- it was always either that blue and white outfit that she always wore or the tan and white least if she had a variety of different outfits, they could say that her protruding belly was "hidden" by the clothes so it made it look like she didn't have a belly when she actually did....(haha...see, I do remember alot about this series....and I've only seen it twice!)

    LOL....yup, I noticed the sleeping together versus separately thing too....I was actually going to comment on that as well...haha...

    I watched this series in its original language (Cantonese)....I hate watching dubbed series (or dubbed anything for that matter) because I don't trust the translation -- I don't even like to read translated articles because I know that something might be lost in translation (as a translator myself, I know these types of things...LOL)...

    I get what you mean regarding the whole marriage thing -- that's why I said what I said about how it just seemed to occur out of the blue that they were married. As you described so well in those scenes that you recounted, there are many instances where Hou Yin is referred to as Lien Wan's wife and also that they had gotten only problem is: when did they get married? There was never any marriage ceremony -- not even a scene of the two of them talking to each other saying "hey, let's get married" or showing them performing a simple ceremony or anything. It was pretty much they were dating one minute and the next thing you know, Lien Wan starts calling her his "wife"....actually, it's kind of funny thinking about it now....goes to show how horrible the directing / producing was for this series (or maybe we just happen to be the "intelligent" audiences who see through these types of things rather than the "ignorant, naive" audiences that TVB always assumes we are....hahaha).

  7. This series is one of the series that i actually saw over 10X (maybe a little more LOL). I , of course, only want to watch Lien Wan and Hou Yin's scenes most of the time.

    I think the wedding scene was never shown b/c the director didn't want the audience to question the ethics/moral/morale/love (whatever you call it) between the two. For example: She got raped by him and then got pregnant and he married her bc of the baby.

    I just feel that , in order to justify the heroic symbolism of Lien wan's character, one must not have that flaw LOL. Therefore, the director sort of mixed the screwy time period of their relationship, the marriage and baby to basically make us confused LOL JK

    But without a doubt, one might feel that he marries her b/c she's pregnant by his child? I mean, Lien Wan refers her as his "Wife" after she was pregnant. I think it would be too quick if he asked her to marry him within a short period of time. I guess when a two people have a baby together and they are inlove, it is automatically considered " MARRIED" according to Buddha's eyes.
    It was mutual between the two. A formal wedding isn't necessary when they lived together and are deeply in love. Hence, the two only have each other. But for GOD SAKE, at least kneel down and vow to be husband and wife LMAO.
    Ohhh this prob explains why Hou Yin never had her hair up. She wasn't officially married to him with a wedding?

    Oh yah.. not to bring this up but it bothers me.

    I was confused on how many months Hou Yin should be pregnant. But when i re-watched the series again earlier, I'm even more confused haha.

    You know how we are concerned with the time period between the two when they were together? Do you remember the part where Hou Yin follows Lien Wan to go find his identity? If you recall, she travels with him from summer to winter. One part, they were crossing the river and the next part, he was carrying her up the snowy mountain. With that being said, i get the impression that they must've travel for a month or more? From one season to another lol. Then follows up with him getting poisoned for 7/7/49 days blah blah. To be logical, it makes every sense she got pregnant in between. If it wasn't for the details the directed provided ( but who knows if he's aware of all of things i picked up), one would think it's from the "accident" scene.

    OH another nonsense scene. Hou Yin left Lien wan b/c she felt she was a burden. As she walks through the blanket of snow on the ground, her Fiance' came across and took her away LOLLLL. How the heck did her fiance end up there????????
    Wasn't he on duty to go fight the women's sect , while Lien Wan and Hou Yin were traveling? Some how they end up in the same place LMAOOOOOOOOOO. OMG This series was poorly directed.

    2nd) After Lien Wan and Hou Yin escaped the cave, how the heck and where the heck did he find money to buy Hou Yin a necklace? get a hotel at night? LOLLLL

    I'm always curious how the main characters make money to spend when all they do is walking around all day. 2 cents...

    BTW ,Do you have reviews for "The greed of man"?

    Also, in the event that Hou Yin got pregnant out of the wedlock, the director didn't want to show that the baby was made out of the unintentional act (this i still think it was mutual and not the "ACCIDENT"due to the time period they were together)

  8. Hi, do you know the song that Jacqueline Law sang when she was grieving her mother's loss or something. The song was something about being lonely.