Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review of TVB series “Rain in the Heart 成功路上" (1990)

The series “Rain in the Heart” from 1990 recently re-ran on TV and since it’s been awhile since I watched this series, I decided to re-watch it again (despite the fact that I’ve probably seen this series like at least 5 times already if not more…LOL). Now you may ask: is the series really that good to the point that I watched it more than twice already? Well, the answer is that no, the series may not necessarily be ‘good’ in the sense of ‘classic’ and for some people, it might not even appeal to them because it’s another one of those ‘tales of encouragement’ type series along the lines of “To Love With Love” (which means the storyline can get quite draggy). However, I personally enjoyed the series and despite its predictable and slow storyline (as well as so-so performances from some of the cast members), the series overall is still better made than many of today’s series (in my opinion anyway) – the fact that I’ve re-watched this series several times already in the past 20 years is proof alone that the series is somewhat decent and worthy of re-watching (if I can’t stand a series, I usually don’t even bother finishing it one time, let alone re-watching it!).

One of the biggest reasons why I like this series is the cast, since a lot of my favorites (lead and supporting) are in it. The main cast consists of Roger Kwok (郭晉安), Kathy Chow (周海媚), Gallen Lo (羅嘉良), Dominic Lam (林嘉華), Josephine Lam (林其欣), May Ho (何美婷), Winnie Lau (劉小慧), and veteran artists Kwan Hoi San (關海山), Bak Yan (白茵), Tam Bing Mun (譚炳文), Benz Hui (許紹雄), Nam Hung (南紅), Wong Hoi Yan (黃愷欣), Wong Wai (王偉), etc. Of course, there are others, but not going to list all of them. As usual, later on in my review, I will go into more detail about each character and the artist’s performance, but first, a little bit about the storyline.

As I mentioned earlier, the premise of the story is in the typical TVB modern series formula – an ‘inspirational’ rags to riches story about the main characters’ life struggles in the areas of relationship (love), power, money, friendship, and pretty much everything else. The Chinese title of the series (成功路上) – literally translated as ‘on the road to success’ -- is actually very fitting to the storyline about 2 childhood friends (Roger and Dominic) who go through thick and thin together on the way to achieving success and fortune. [As a sidebar, I have no clue how TVB came up with the English title (“Rain in the Heart”) to this series – the title seems to have absolutely no correlation to the series whatsoever. Perhaps this is another example of TVB ‘attempting’ to be creative with their titles? I don’t know for sure but it’s just weird that the English title is so far off from the series itself.] Of course, knowing the premise of the series, it’s not surprising that parts of the storyline will be a bit dull and draggy (plus the series is 40 episodes long, which is typical of most of the series back in those days, so for some, this series might be too long to sit through – it’s perfect for me though, since I grew up watching 40 episode series, so I’m used to it).

In terms of the characters and performances from the artists – well, I would have to say that it was sort of a mixed bag with this series: some of the characters were well developed and some were not…by the same token, some of the artists gave excellent performances, and others were mediocre (some were even ‘cringe-worthy’!). For the rest of this review, I am going to talk a bit about each of the main characters (as well as a few of the supporting ones), as this will give insight into the development of the overall story.


Main Cast / Characters

Roger Kwok (Lau Kar Wai) – Roger’s character Kar Wai is the typical ‘good guy’ (very similar to the roles he usually plays) who is honest, upright, reserved, etc., except that he has a certain willful stubbornness about him (especially when it relates to his family) that sets him apart in terms of personality. Even though he technically was born into a rich family (his father is played by late veteran actor Kwan Hoi San and his mother is played by Wong Hoi Yan), the reality is that he grew up in a ‘pseudo’ single parent household due to family circumstances: not only did his father already have a family of his own when he met his mother (which meant that she was technically the mistress), there was also a huge age difference between the two. Because of this, he always had a strained relationship with his father and continued to be at odds with him until the father dies and he finds out the truth about the relationship between his parents (yes, very clichéd indeed). His father of course bequeaths his business (a Chinese bakery) to him, however due to conflicts with family (since his father had a wife and kids already), all he ended up getting was a ‘shell’ of a company. From that point on, Kar Wai and his friends work to rebuild the bakery that his father put so much heart and soul into -- of course, in the end, they are successful in doing so, though they encounter many obstacles along the way (see, told you the storyline is predictable!). Oh, and needless to say, he ends up falling in love along the way, first with Kong Hor Ling (Josephine Lam) then with Tong Yiu (Kathy Chow).

To be honest, I really don’t know what to make of Roger’s performance in this series. Don’t get me wrong – he is definitely one of my favorite actors (I’ve pretty much been following his career since the 80s) and his acting was good in this series, but the character that he played was kind of ‘bland’ if you ask me (pretty much the type of character that Roger can do in his sleep!). The other thing too was that I felt Roger didn’t really fit the character – well, maybe during the first half he did, but later on, when his character is supposed to be a more mature businessman, I just don’t feel he looked mature enough…part of this could be because Roger has always had a ‘boyish’ characteristic about him (which could be why he’s excellent as Ah Wong) and back then, he truly looked a lot more boyish than he does now, so it was kind of awkward at times to watch his romantic scenes with Josephine and Kathy (both look more mature than him, though Kathy definitely matched him better in comparisons). But honestly speaking, this was the case in a few of his other series as well back then, not just this one – during those early years, I felt that a lot of the actresses who got paired up with Roger in series appeared to be older than him (though most were actually younger), which threw the chemistry off a bit in my opinion.

Anyway, despite the flaws with his character, I still felt that overall, Roger did a good job (and I’m not just saying this because I like Roger). As I said earlier, I’ve been following Roger’s career since the 80s, so of course, I’ve seen the majority of his series and I must say that his acting has definitely matured over the years – he’s more polished now and a lot more convincing in the ‘mature’ roles that he plays (loved him in “Wax and Wane” from earlier in the year – he was the only reason why that pathetic series was even watchable!). Roger’s life story is actually an inspirational one, especially given all the ups and downs he experienced in his career (which is partly why he was in tears when he accepted the TV King award in 2003 for his fine performance in “Square Pegs” – it took TVB 17 years to recognize and appreciate him! I’m sure many of his supporters – including myself – cried with him at that moment). He definitely deserves every bit of success and fame that he has right now!

Dominic Lam (Cheung Shun Ban) – Dominic’s character Ah Ban is the quintessential ‘best friend’ to the main character (Roger) – personality-wise, he is pretty much the happy-go-lucky, charismatic, less than perfect ‘guy next door’(literally – since his family did live next door to Roger’s family…LOL). On the surface, the two friends appear to be complete opposites – Ah Ban is loud and obnoxious and physically always looks like he just rolled out of bed (meaning his hair is constantly disheveled and he always seems to be wearing the same shirt and shorts…haha), whereas Ah Wai is more refined, educated, and just overall less ‘messy’. Ah Ban lives next door to his best friend, but unfortunately, their families don’t get along, as his mother (played by Bak Yan) is loud, haughty, rude, and money-hungry and spends most of her time gossiping about the neighbors – she constantly yells at her son for being a good-for-nothing and treats her younger daughter (played by Winnie Lau) as a money-tree. His father (played by Tam Bing Mun) is pretty much a good-for-nothing as well (like father like and is extremely afraid of the mother. Despite all this, Ah Ban takes everything in stride and actually is able to maintain a good relationship with his family -- his character is very much a ‘comedic’ one who still knows how to be ‘serious’ when needed. Even though each person in his family is flawed, I actually like this family the most, as they come across as the most genuine. Personally, Dominic’s character was my favorite in the series (yes, I liked his character more than Roger’s).

Dominic absolutely stole the show in this series – to be honest, I don’t think I would have enjoyed the series as much if it weren’t for him (especially given the predictable, slow storyline). He was awesome in this series and really brought the character of Cheung Shun Ban to life (of course, it helped that the character he played was very endearing, but it does take a certain caliber actor to pull that kind of character off – and he was perfect for it!). I’ve actually always liked Dominic as an actor and have always felt that he is extremely underrated -- he’s definitely not your typical ‘leading man’, that’s for sure, since he isn’t good looking at all – but that doesn’t matter because he is a greatly talented actor.

I actually know Dominic better as a host, as that was his primary job when he first joined TVB in 1980 (he started in the industry in the 1970s working for Rediffusion Television) – he hosted a lot of variety programs for TVB such as “Sports World” and “Good Morning Hong Kong” as well as some of their bigger gala events. Even after he immigrated to Canada in the mid-90s, he continued to be active in the industry, hosting various programs for Chinese TV and radio stations in Canada. It’s too bad that after he returned to TVB in the after 2000s era, he was relegated to playing lesser characters and villains (though he did have a few good roles, but not enough in my opinion). I know that he started getting recognition as a solid veteran actor after his brilliant performance as the villain Wing Tak in “A Fistful of Stances” in 2010 – well, I’m happy for him but he should have gotten recognition way before that!

Gallen Lo (Chung Mun Kit) – Gallen’s character Ah Kit is the son of a rich car manufacturing tycoon (played by Wong Wai) who, as the only son, works for his dad’s business and pretty much was sheltered all his life. In terms of personality, he’s different from other ‘rich young master’ types in that he is honest and upright and doesn’t flaunt his wealth, but he’s also a bit naïve due to being protected all his life. Through a series of events, Ah Kit gets to know Kar Wai and Ah Ban and the 3 of them become good friends and later on become ‘brothers’ (literally -- because Ah Kit eventually marries Ah Ban’s sister Zhi San so they become brothers-in-law and Ah Kit’s father later marries Kar Wai’s mother, so they become stepbrothers). [Note that the relationships in this series – both family and love relationships – are quite complicated; in a nutshell, all 3 guys and their families will all become ‘relatives’ in one way or another by the end of the series]. The 3 of them try to go into business together, but even though that effort fails, their friendship is not affected and they end up working together to rebuild Kar Wai’s family bakery.

To be honest, I didn’t really like Gallen’s character all that much – to me, his character was just ‘there’ and didn’t really enhance the plot too much, except for the part in the second half of the series where Kar Wai and Ah Ban are at odds with each other and he is caught in the middle. I guess they just needed someone to be the rich dude in the series and out of the 3 main guys, he looked the most like a rich young person? His character really didn’t stand out much – in fact, I felt that his character was very stereotypical and a bit boring overall.

In terms of the acting…well, back then (late 80s/early 90s), Gallen was known for being a bit wooden with his acting partly because he was typecasted into playing the same roles over and over again earlier on in his career – it wasn’t until he started doing villain roles in the mid-90s that his acting started to gain recognition and eventually shot to fame. Of course, now he is one of the finest actors in the TV industry and highly sought after too! I personally think that it was a good move for Gallen to take on villain roles in the 90s because it allowed him to come out of his shell and acting-wise, that’s when he really started to thrive. I must say that even though I wasn’t too fond of Gallen’s character in this series, he was definitely much better here than in his first few series (compare his performance here to his very first series “City Stories” and already, you’ll see a difference).

Of course, with this being another Gallen / Roger collaboration, I feel that this is a good time to talk about their relationship and why they collaborated so often in series throughout the years (if my memory serves me right, “Rain in the Heart” was their 3rd collaboration – prior to that, they collaborated in “City Stories” in 1986 and “The Final Verdict” in 1988). The ‘short’ answer to why they collaborated so often: they were both under the same manager, songwriter Lo Kwok Jim (盧國沾), at the time. The ‘long’ answer: both Gallen and Roger were ‘discovered’ by Lo Kwok Jim after he heard them sing (yes, both of them started as singers before they became actors), so he took them under his wing and helped to launch their careers in music and television. Unfortunately though, they (Roger and Lo Kwok Jim specifically) had a fall-out later on in the 90s and terminated their relationship.

Kathy Chow (Tong Yiu) – Kathy’s character Yiu Yiu is a social worker who has a compassionate heart and goes to great lengths if needed in order to help the ‘children’ that she is assigned to look after. She is pretty, but also educated and reserved – the typical ‘good girl’ type (her character is pretty much the opposite of Josephine Lam’s character Kong Hor Ling, which will become evident later on in this review). She grew up in a single parent home, as her father died when she was young and was raised by her mother (played by veteran actress Leung Shun Yin) and her ‘medicine pot’ uncle (played by Benz Hui) – despite the circumstances, the family is very tightly-knit. She meets Roger and Dominic’s characters (Kar Wai and Ah Ban) and they become friends – Ah Ban actually has a crush on her, but he feels that he is not a good match for her because of his background and such, so when she ends up falling in love with Kar Wai, he immediately lets go and doesn’t pursue further (this part is actually a bit cliched because the exact same thing happened preivously with Hor Ling – Ah Ban had a crush on her at first too, but decided to give her up to Kar Wai). Later on, Yiu Yiu and Kar Wai break up due to Hor Ling’s scheming but in the end, they get back together (typical TVB love triangle stuff – no surprise there).

Kathy’s character in this series was nothing special actually – like Roger’s character, her character is quite ordinary and is the type of role that she could do in her sleep as well (meaning it wasn’t really a challenging role). In terms of the females, I did like her character best, mostly because the other main female characters were rather weak (except for the veteran supporting females, namely Bak Yan and Wong Hoi Yan’s characters). In terms of her pairing with Roger in this series – well, as I said earlier, because of Roger’s ‘boyish’ looks, I didn’t think he matched well with most of the actresses from that generation (80s/early 90s), though I definitely prefer Roger and Kathy as a couple over Roger and Josephine. Kathy actually used to look ‘girlish’ herself when she started off in the mid-80s (she can be considered a former Miss HK, as she was a contestant in the 1985 MHK pageant, but didn’t make it into the finals), but heading into the 90s, she definitely matured a lot.

Kathy is one of my favorite actresses from the late 80s/early 90s and I can truly say that I’ve watched practically every single one of the series that she made while at TVB. Compared to some of the other actresses from the 80s, I wouldn’t necessarily say that her acting was the greatest, because to be honest, it wasn’t (she’s not as versatile an actress as some of the other actresses from her generation and earlier on, she was usually typecast in similar ‘good girl’ roles), but what I like about her is that she is very natural and comfortable to watch on-screen (both in terms of looks and acting). Now that Kathy has moved to the Mainland and focused her career there, audiences in HK don’t get to see her on screen too often, though she did come back briefly in 2009 to film 2 series for TVB – can’t compare to her previous series though.

Josephine Lam (Kong Hor Ling) – Josephine’s character is a poor village girl from the Mainland who goes to HK by herself (since her parents are dead) in the hopes of bettering her life. Because she is poor (though she did receive some education back in the Mainland), she has to stay with Ah Ban (Dominic)’s family, since they are the only relatives she has in HK (they are only distant relatives). Ah Ban’s mother treats her badly because she is poor, constantly yelling at her and making her do chores around the house. However, the rest of the family treats her well and both Ah Ban and his sister Ah San develop a friendship with her. She meets Kar Wai (who lives next door to the Cheung family) and soon, they become a couple. At first, their relationship is a happy one – when Hor Ling has to go find a job because her uncle in the village would no longer send her monetary support and Ah Ban’s mom is threatening to kick her out, Kar Wai encourages her and helps her find a job. Unfortunately though, the happiness is short-lived – Hor Ling meets a rich older man (played by Felix Lok) and because of the suffering she had gone through due to being poor, she jumps at the opportunity to live a life of glamour and wealth…therefore, she leaves Kar Wai and becomes the rich man’s mistress. Years later, she becomes tired of the glamorous and ‘partying’ lifestyle and also being with a man she doesn’t love, so she returns to Kar Wai’s side in the hopes of starting over again – of course, by this time, Kar Wai and Yiu Yiu are already together and even close to the point of marriage. She becomes jealous and determined to get Kar Wai back, so she does a lot of scheming behind-the-scenes -- eventually she is successful in breaking them up and gets her wish of being together with Kar Wai again. She also manages to damage the ‘brotherly’ relationship between Ah Ban and Kar Wai as well, causing them to be at odds with each other. Predictably, Kar Wai (and everyone else) finds out about her bad deeds in the end and needless to say, Hor Ling gets her due punishment and everyone reconciles in the end.

Though Josephine’s character can be classified as the ‘villain’ in this series, she really was more an ‘antagonist’ than a villain, as she didn’t really do anything that was considered ‘horrific’ (i.e. kill people). [In fact, nothing of that tragic nature happens in this series.] At the end of the day, her character is just an insecure, selfish woman who chose money over love and regretted it when it was too late – I feel that her character is more pathetic than evil.

Josephine is another former MHK contestant (participated in the 1986 pageant and also didn’t make it into the finals) who ended up signing on with TVB as an actress. She’s been in a lot of series over the past few decades, but mostly in supporting roles – this particular series was pretty much the only one in which she was the second female lead (as far as I can remember) and where she had a significant amount of screentime. To be honest, I’m really not too fond of her acting, as she comes across as a bit fake to me. I think she did a better job in the second half of the series than in the first half because in the first half, she is supposed to be a poor village girl and she definitely does NOT look the part -- perhaps because she always plays the ‘glamorous, sexy vixen’ type roles, so when she tries to play a demure, poor village girl being mistreated by her relatives, it’s just not convincing to me. Also, she absolutely did not match with Roger AT ALL – in the series, she looked more like his older sister than his girlfriend! Absolutely worst pairing for Roger (back in those days at least).

After a largely lackluster career (I can barely remember any of the series she was in after this one), Josephine retired from the industry in the early 2000s and has gone into business instead.

May Ho (Lee Yuk Yin)-- May’s character Yuk Yin is the granddaughter of the bakery tycoon played by Kwan Hoi San, which means that technically, she is Kar Wai (Roger)’s niece (though he isn’t that much older than her in the series). Her mother (played by veteran actress Nam Hung) dislikes the fact that her dad (Kwan Hoi San) has another wife and child outside of their family because that would mean more people fighting for the inheritance (yes, typical TVB family conflict / fighting over inheritance stuff). Despite having a bad mother who does nothing but scheme all day long to get her dad’s money (amongst other bad things), Yuk Yin has a completely opposite personality, as she is compassionate and is the only one in the family who is accepting of Kar Wai and his mother. After her grandfather dies and she finds out that her mother purposefully ‘embezzled’ all the money from the bakery so that Kar Wai would only get an ‘empty shell’ of a company, she disowns her parents and uses her connections to help Kar Wai and his friends rebuild the bakery. Along the way, she falls in love with Ah Ban (good, because he’s the only one she matches with in the series) in the typical ‘bickering rivals turned lovers’ fashion and they eventually get married. Of course, her parents return (after having lost all their money) later on in the series and family conflict arises when they move in with her and her husband’s family (actually, those were some of the most hilarious scenes in the entire series).

As far as May’s pairing with Dominic goes, I actually liked the two of them together in the series, as there was a certain freshness to the relationship and they had an interesting chemistry. Of course, since May has not participated in a whole lot of series (more on that below), I can’t really say that her acting was really good, but overall, it was decent – plus she had the benefit of pairing with Dominic, whose awesome performance helped to ‘carry’ her as well.

I doubt that too many people remember May Ho and unless you’ve seen the classic sitcom “City Stories” (1986-87), you probably won’t even know who she is. May only participated in a handful of series when she was at TVB – in fact, “Rain in the Heart” was her very last series with them (she left to go to ATV that same year). She participated in a few series when she was at ATV, but never really became popular. She retired from the industry in the mid-90s and later in that decade, she got married and immigrated to the U.S., where she lives currently with her family.

There actually isn’t a whole lot of information about May out there, since her acting career was so short-lived. Those of us who do remember her though know that she got her start in the industry by participating in the “Miss Aerobic Beauty Pageant” in 1985 (yes, there was such a pageant – it was a pretty big deal that year and most 80s TVB fanatics will probably remember it – several TVB actresses such as Cutie Mui, Eugenia Lau, Cary Choi, and Ma Ching Yee came out of that pageant as well). She of course joined TVB not long after that and the following year (1986), she participated in her first series, “Siblings of Vice and Virtue” (with Eddie Cheung, Chan Man Yee, Kenneth Tsang, Lee Kwok Lun, etc). That same year, she participated in the sitcom “City Stories” (my all-time favorite sitcom – watched it so many times, I practically have it memorized!) – she actually had quite a significant role in the series, as she played co-star Deric Wan’s cousin and love interest. It was around this time that May and Deric began dating in real life, though their relationship was short-lived (I know they were still together in early 1988 because they actually participated in a special TVB variety program / documentary hosted by Lydia Shum around that time – I think they broke up shortly thereafter).

Interestingly, since “City Stories” also starred Roger Kwok and Gallen Lo, she was essentially ‘reunited’ with them when she filmed “Rain in the Heart” several years later.

Winnie Lau (Cheung Zhi San) – Winnie’s character Zhi San is the little sister of Ah Ban (Dominic). Because she is young and beautiful, she is heavily ‘protected’ by her parents (played by Bak Yan and Tam Bing Mun), as they feel that with her ‘qualifications’, she should be able to marry a rich man in the future and be ‘set for life’. Of course, that is exactly what ends up happening when Zhi San meets her brother’s friend Ah Kit (Gallen) – he becomes smitten with her almost immediately and they get married not too long after that. Unfortunately though, because she married young (right out of school) and became a housewife sitting at home all day, plus prior to that she was heavily protected by her family, she never got to experience the ‘real world’ for herself. This causes some friction in her marriage and in her relationship with her family later on in the series (of course, everything eventually turns out fine in the end).

Very honestly speaking, Winnie’s character in this series is pretty much one of those ‘vase’ roles where her job is really to ‘look pretty’ – her scenes with Gallen were kind of boring in my opinion. I’m thinking that perhaps because there are so many sub-storylines in this series and so many people / relationships that need to be addressed, it’s inevitable that the writers would do a good job developing some of the relationships and do mediocre jobs on the others - namely the Gallen / Winnie relationship (too much ground to cover).

In terms of acting, I really can’t comment on whether her acting skills are up to par or not because she hasn’t been in enough series for me to judge (I think she has only participated in like 3 series in her entire career). Of course, we all know that she was a singer first and foremost back in the 90s and only dabbled in acting in series most likely to get her name out there and perhaps help boost her singing career (though I read that she actually started out as an actress in movies before becoming a singer). As for her singing career, I don’t know if I would really call it ‘successful’ or not, as she did release a few albums and win a few awards, but that was basically it (I personally only know 1 song of hers). In the late 90s, she married fellow singer Edmond So (from the group Grasshoppers) and they currently have 2 daughters. It was also around that time that Winnie retired from the industry.

An interesting fact about Winnie: she and Roger dated for a number of years in the 90s, though the relationship was pretty much ‘underground’ and for the longest time, neither party admitted to it. I actually don’t know the exact timeframe of when they started dating, but I’m assuming it might have been some time after their collaboration in this series, since Winnie did not participate in very many series so probably would not have gotten the chance to collaborate with Roger otherwise (the rumors about their relationship started in 1992, but they could have been dating before that). At the time, Roger was very dedicated to Winnie and apparently invested a lot into the relationship. Coincidentally, during the mid-90s was when Roger experienced the lowest point in his career and actually ended up leaving HK for awhile in order to make a living. During an interview on “Be My Guest” a few years ago, Roger ‘hinted’ that his relationship with Winnie ended because a 3rd party entered the relationship (that 3rd party is assumed to be Edmond So). Based on the timelines, I believe Roger and Winnie broke up sometime in 1996.

Honorable Mentions

I really have to say that the supporting cast in this series was AMAZING! They really gave the young stars in this series a ‘run for their money’. Even if some of the main cast was not too appealing, the performances by the supporting cast pretty much made up for it in my opinion.

A few highlights:

-- Benz Hui’s portrayal of Uncle Leung (Kathy’s uncle) was excellent (as usual)! In the series, Uncle Leung was a hypochondriac who grew up ‘carrying a medicine pot’ all his life, so even when he is in his 40s, he still ‘sticks’ to his older sister (Leung Sun Yin) and relies on her to take care of him. In reality though, his health is fine, he’s just constantly paranoid – plus he’s a bit of a ‘scaredy-cat’ – so it’s hard for him to hold down a job for a long period of time. I loved Benz’s performance, as it was funny but at the same time heartwarming – and the thing is, he doesn’t even try to be funny…it just comes naturally! I truly enjoyed every single one of his scenes (too bad there weren’t a whole lot, but enough to make him a pretty significant supporting character). His character was actually my second favorite after Dominic’s.

.-- Veteran artists (or, more appropriately, ‘gam cho’ artists) Bak Yan and Tam Bing Mun played the roles of Dominic and Winnie’s parents. Bak Yan’s character was a bit of a nuisance with her loud mouth and constant yelling and Tam Bing Mun’s ‘timid husband’ persona was very similar to some of the roles he played in the past, but together, these 2 made for a very interesting couple. I loved their interaction with Dominic in this series – comical to some extent, but also serious at certain points. Definitely a fine job by these 2 veteran artists!

.-- Veteran actress Nam Hung (the wife of director / actor Chor Yuen) was excellent in her role as Kwan Hoi San’s daughter who plotted with the rest of the family to scam Roger out of his inheritance (but redeems herself later on in the series). One of the reasons why I like Nam Hung as an actress is because of her versatility – she can play both the ‘benevolent mother’ as well as the ‘bxxch’ roles extremely well. Her arguing scenes in this series (and there sure were a lot of them) were all very well-done (not OTT, yet extremely convincing). Of course, she is an experienced actress with decades of acting under her belt, so it’s not surprising that she did such a great job – but since many of the veteran artists usually don’t get recognized, I wanted to give her a little mention here.

.-- Kwan Hoi San and Wong Hoi Yan, who played Roger’s father and mother respectively, were great in their roles! Even with the huge gap in their ages, the two of them didn’t look awkward on screen at all. In fact, I thought that they looked quite sweet together. When he was alive, Kwan Hoi San played a lot of rich father / grandfather roles and this one was certainly no exception. I grew up watching him, as he was always the ‘actor of choice’ for those types of roles, which was actually fine with me, since he did those roles so well – I definitely miss his acting! As for Wong Hoi Yan, she was one of my favorite supporting actresses as well from the 80s and 90s (which is when she was the most active) – just like many of the actresses from that era, she had good acting skills that made her come across so natural on screen, no matter what type of role she played.

Concluding Thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, this series is very much a ‘formulaic’ TVB modern series from the late 80s/early 90s era (the series was actually filmed in 1989, but broadcast in early 1990) – therefore, it might not appeal to all audiences. Even though the script is flawed and a lot of the storyline is quite clichéd, I would still recommend the series because the cast is enjoyable to watch (as long as you skip some of the overly draggy parts such as some of the Gallen/Winnie scenes). If you’re the type who is into lighthearted family conflict / love story type dramas, then most likely you’ll like this series – on the other hand, if fast pace and excitement are what you’re looking for, then this series is probably not a good choice, as it does get a bit slow during certain parts.


  1. Agree, RITH is so typical modern drama in that era, not impressed about the storyline but yes RITH has strong cast that attracted me to watch :D

    Roger, Gallen, Deric are undoubtedly three talented TVB actors after 5 Tigers gone, I assume they're coming from same generation. But looks like Deric tasted stardom earlier than Gallen & Roger. Do you know why? The turning point TVB series which shoot Deric into top popularity is Looking Back In Anger (1989), meanwhile Roger & Gallen must wait long time after that...

  2. @Anonymous: Thanks for the response!

    You know, it's actually kind of funny because I remember liking the series RITH alot when I watched it back in the 90s, but re-watching now, it doesn't give me the same feeling (though I still think the series is alot better than many of today's series). But just getting the chance to watch this stellar cast makes the experience worth it -- especially considering that it's impossible to assemble the same cast again (majority of the cast is no longer active in the industry anymore, a few have passed away or have retired from the industry the 3 male leads are all with different companies now).

    And yes, I agree with your comment that Gallen, Roger, and Deric were 3 of TVB's most talented actors in the 'after 5 Tigers' generation. Not only did all 3 of them come from the same generation, they also got their 'official' start (in the television industry) together in the same series -- the sitcom "City Stories" from 1986 (though technically Deric did have some minor 'no name' roles in 1 or 2 series prior to that, but those don't really count) -- plus all 3 of them started in the entertainment industry as singers in the early 80s (Gallen and Roger were under the same manager).

    As for why Deric saw stardom earlier than Gallen and Roger -- well, technically, Roger was actually more popular / well-known than Deric was back in the late 80s -- Roger gained alot of fame from his role in "The Final Verdict" in 1988 (which helped establish him as a character actor). It wasn't until the early 90s that Deric overtook Roger and "shot to stardom" opinion is that Deric was lucky enough to get quite a few great opportunities right after the other (i.e. the villain roles in Looking Back in Anger, The Breaking Point, etc.) and he definitely took advantage of them, putting those superb acting skills of his to work. In comparisons, the series that Roger participated in during the 90s did not give him as much a chance to 'shine' -- and then unfortunately, the series "The Intangible Truth" from 1994 completely killed Roger's career, causing him to leave the HK TV industry for a long period of time. It wasn't until Roger returned to TVB in the after 2000s era that he became popular again.

    As for Gallen -- the reason why he 'fell behind' despite starting alongside Deric and Roger is because he was typecasted as the 'shy, introverted good guy' in almost all of his roles in the 80s and early 90s (this was the case in "City Stories" from 1986, "The Final Verdict" from 1988, "The Seasons" from 1987/88, etc.) -- his roles were all the same and so he didn't really stand out. It wasn't until he started playing villain roles in the 90s (i.e. Vengeance in 1992, Cold Blood Warm Heart in 1996, etc) that he really started to make a name for himself (because it was considered 'fresh', since we audiences were so used to seeing him play his usual 'good guy' role). And of course, we all know what happened from there (he went on to become one of the TV industry's most popular and sought after actors).

  3. I had to stop watching after 20 episodes because it was just too annoying.

    I disagree with this reviewer's praise of some of the supporting cast because I absolutely cringed whenever Roger's rich relatives or Winnie's greedy parents were on the screen...shallow characters, one-dimensional and not at all believeble (neither written or acted). Their scenes are always full of bitching, complaining or scheming - unwatchable.

    After 20 episodes, nothing really happened and I can't watch it anymore in hopes that it will get better.

    Word of advice : avoid.

  4. @Anonymous: Thanks for the comments. Of course, everyone watches series differently and so opinions will undoubtedly be different. That's perfectly fine and I welcome the differences in opinion....I personally was able to tolerate the series because of the cast, but of course that's just me...not everyone may feel the same way. True, there was alot of 'complaining' and 'scheming' involved, which is typical with these types of family conflict dramas, but in my opinion, the 'complaining, bitching, scheming' etc. was relatively mild compared to some of the large scale family dramas from the past decade (i.e. Heart of Greed and Moonlight Resonance, just to name 2 examples) for whether the veteran artists' performances were convincing or not -- well, again, that's subjective too...I personally feel that they did fine because at least I was able to get 'into' the series despite the mediocre storyline, which to me is partially attributed to the performances from the cast.

  5. i was an avid viewer of tvb hk dramas during my primary to secondary school days. watched almost all the dramas shown during those years. Nevertheless the 2 distinct titles that i can remember till now are Rain in the Heart (have been looking for it for years) and Vengeance (Deric Wan n Gallen Lo). Love and appreciate you detailed review and synopsis of every main character in the series...brings back so many memories of 6-7pm daily routine of mine.. Have actually started watching again online..currently watching Blood of Good and Bad... continue to write coz you have a great flair in writing

    1. @Amrita: Awww, thanks for the compliments on this post and writing in general! It's when I hear comments such as yours that I feel motivated to keep up this blog despite having less time to do so. :-)

      I was also an avid viewer of TVB dramas growing up and have many fond memories of those "good old days" when the HK entertainment industry was in its peak. Part of the reason why I started this blog 7 years ago (wow, can't believe it's been that long already) was because I wanted to share my love of HK entertainment with others who share the same interests. I haven't kept up with posting as much as I wanted to over the years (life and work basically got in the way, lol), but when I do post and see others respond about the series, artists, programs, etc. (whether positively or negatively), I'm happy to have been able to contribute to keeping these memories alive. I will definitely continue writing (mostly because I'm a writer and that's what I do anyway, lol), though most likely not to the extent that I used to due to personal obligations with life and work. Thank you for reading the posts and taking the time to respond!

      P.S.: Yes, Vengeance was a great series as well, with a stellar cast (though admittedly I'm not fond of Irene Wan as an actress and kind of wish she wasn't the lead in the series but the male cast all but makes up for it). I also recently re-watched Blood of Good and Evil (for probably the 100th time, lol) and LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!! Despite how many times I've watched BOGAE over the years, the ending of the series never fails to make me cry big-time! Oh how I miss the "old days" of TVB!!