Cast (partial list of the main & supporting cast): Raymond Wong (黃浩然), Niki Chow (周麗淇), Elaine Yiu (姚子羚), Jack Wu (胡諾言), Rebecca Chan (陳秀珠), Katy Kung (龔嘉欣), Eric Li (李天翔), Joel Chan (陳山聰), Raymond Cho (曹永廉), Claire Yiu (姚嘉妮), Ching Hor Wai (程可為), Samuel Kwok Fung (郭峰), Vin Choi (蔡淇俊)
I will admit that I had doubts about watching this series at first because I’m not too keen on Niki Chow as an actress and since she is the female lead in this series, I wasn’t sure how things would turn out -- plus I'm not a fan of Elaine or Katy either (their acting has always fallen in the ‘tolerable’ category for me). However, I decided to go ahead and give the series a try primarily because of 3 reasons: 1) I’ve always liked Raymond Wong (male lead in this series) as an actor plus I like majority of the supporting cast, so I figured even if I don’t like the female leads, the rest of the cast would make up for it (and I was right to some extent); 2) I knew this was produced by Lee Tim Sing (which means there will be a certain level of quality to it) – plus Tim Gor is usually quite involved when it comes to writing the scripts for his series and I’ve enjoyed many of the series he has done in the past, so that gave me more confidence that this would be a decent series at least; and 3) the ‘pre-modern’ genre of this series is one of my favorite genres.
I’m actually very glad that I decided to give this series a chance because it turns out that I ended up LOVING this series (I know, it’s hard to believe given how particular I am with series nowadays). In fact, this is such a great series and I enjoyed it so much that it has officially become my absolute favorite series of 2011 (as well as one of my all-time favorite series from the entire decade)! To be quite honest, it has been years since I’ve encountered a series that took me on such an emotional roller coaster as this one: majority of the series made me cry (literally went through an entire box of tissues!) while some of the scenes made me laugh and others made me angry – still others had me sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what was going to happen next (the suspense factor)….very few of TVB’s series in the recent decade have been able to balance all these elements so well in 1 series (usually, 1 or more of the elements is sacrificed), which is part of what made this series so memorable and awesome.
Before I go further, just a word of warning…this review will most likely be quite long, as I enjoyed this series so much that it had sort of become an ‘obsession’ of mine lately (LOL) and so obviously I have a lot to say about it…..therefore, to those willing to spare time reading this review, I sincerely thank you in advance!
STORYLINE / SCRIPT
Normally, when doing a series review, I would talk about the cast and characters first, since most of my thoughts regarding the storyline / script will usually become apparent in the discussion about the cast. But for this particular review, I felt it was appropriate to talk about the script first because in my opinion, the absolutely well-written script and engaging storyline were amongst the biggest reasons (in addition to the fine acting from majority of the cast) why this series was so enjoyable and successful on many levels. I definitely have to applaud the scriptwriting team for putting together such a great script (and of course, part of the credit goes to producer Lee Tim Sing as well, since he always plays a huge part in writing of the scripts with all the series he produces).
One of the (many) things I like most about the script / storyline is the way the love story between Raymond Wong and Niki Chow’s characters was written (more on this piece later). I like how their relationship in the first half of the series is not the 'obvious' love relationship thing that TVB is so famous for doing, but rather, a more 'subtle romance' approach that really drives up the emotional factor. Indeed, in my opinion, the beauty of this series is in the ‘subtleness’ of the script – there were quite a few scenes where the dialogue was replaced by simple actions by the actors (hand gestures, body language, facial expressions, etc.) that in and of itself, already conveyed a wealth of emotion. With that said however, the important thing is that the writers / producer did a great job of keeping the ‘subtleness’ balanced throughout the series – meaning that they were careful to include just enough of it to keep the emotional level high, but didn’t overuse it (there were other parts of the script that were similar in style like this). Now don’t get me wrong – the careful dialogue was just as important and there was definitely a lot of it in this series -- in fact, there were many memorable lines in my opinion that really contributed to the overall effectiveness of the script.
As the article from Nan Fong Daily News stated so well, one of the biggest attractions of this series is the way the producer Tim Gor handles the storyline / script: “the plot is fast-paced and the story-telling effect is strong, which often evokes in audiences the desire to ‘chase’ each episode – each time, he incorporates just enough ‘tension’ in the series to draw audiences in and the more they watch, the more ‘flavorful’ the series gets.” This quote absolutely suits this series almost perfectly, as I can honestly say that the way the script was written and the series was produced, there wasn’t a single boring scene in this series -- from the moment I watched the first episode all the way up through the tragic finale, I was absolutely hooked! Normally, in most series, even the ones I like, I usually will find some scenes boring or draggy – but that was not the case here…every minute of this series was absolutely worthwhile (to the point that I felt like this series flew by way too quickly).
Now of course, the script wasn’t perfect by any means (no script ever is) and this one definitely had some flaws (the ending itself is a bit contentious, but more on that later) – however this script overall was definitely one of the best that I have seen in years! Once again, great job to the writers and to Tim Gor for such a wonderful script / storyline!
CAST / CHARACTERS
This series absolutely proves that you don’t need to have an ‘all star’ cast in a series to make it successful and accepted by audiences! Even though this series did not have any ‘big name’ artists in it (well, what most people today would consider ‘big name’ anyway), the cast was definitely strong in terms of acting, as most of the cast were truly high caliber actors and actresses who were able to carry this series extremely well with their brilliant acting. It’s rare to have a series where almost every artist who participated pulled off their roles extremely well, to the point that it’s actually hard for me to choose a favorite character in this series because all of them did such fine jobs and there were so many of them that I liked, especially on the male side (though if I truly had to choose, my top picks would be Raymond Wong’s Tung Boon Sin, Eric Li’s Law Yat, Jack Wu’s Dr Yuen, and Raymond Cho’s Tsui Ping).
The other thing that I really enjoyed about the casting in the series (and part of what made this series so great in my opinion) was the awesome chemistry that existed consistently throughout the entire series – not just in terms of the romantic pairing (between Raymond and Niki), but also in the other areas as well (such as the relationship between Niki and her family, the friendships between Raymond and Eric as well as between Niki and Jack, etc.). I truly believe that one of the most important things in a series is the chemistry of its cast and this series definitely illustrated that all across the board. One of the reasons why this series moved me so emotionally (in addition to the script and the acting) was because the chemistry came across so genuine that I truly felt a connection to each of the characters and when things happened to them, I truly felt for them.
Anyway, here’s my take on each of the characters and the artists’ performances:
Raymond Wong (Tung Boon Sin / Lee Ho) – Raymond’s character is actually quite complex. His real name is Lee Ho and when he was 8 years old, he was adopted from an orphanage and therefore had to separate from his childhood friend Ngau Nai Tong whom he was very close with and took care of, since she was crippled. Little did he know that the couple who adopted him did so as part of a plot by Dong Kwok Hing (played by Rebecca Chan), who was planning to use the child to deceive her husband Ko Siu Tong (played by Kwok Fung) so that he would stop looking for the illegitimate child he had with another woman. Afterwards, when the plan falls through and Lee Ho is kicked out of the house, Dong Kwok Hing tries to kill him by pushing him into a ravine so that her husband would never find out she was behind the plan. Amazingly, Lee Ho survived and later ends up in Nanjing, where he has to rely on deceiving people and performing magic tricks in order to make a living. He encounters a kind elderly man, Uncle Shek, who is the butler to a wealthy family – Uncle Shek becomes like a father to Lee Ho and when the master of the house Mr. Tung and his young son dies, Lee Ho takes on the identity of the young master Tung Boon Sin. Using this identity, he returns to Guangzhou to take revenge against Dong Kwok Hing and the entire Ko family for what was done to him as a child. As part of his plan to ruin the Ko family, he deceives Ko Yee Kiu (played by Elaine Yiu) into falling in love with him while at the same time, pretends to make a play at her younger sister Yee Nga (played by Katy Kung) so that the sisters would hate each other. Yee Kiu falls into his trap and ends up losing everything she has – plus the rest of the family gets the punishment they deserve as well. During this process, Tung Boon Sin meets Tsui Sum (played by Niki Chow) and decides to use her as part of his revenge plan, since the Ko family was interested in the land that her family’s soy sauce factory was built on – however he never anticipated that he would actually fall in love with her. Later on, he finds out that Tsui Sum is actually the childhood friend that he had been looking for over the past 20 years. Most of the series from this point pretty much revolves around Tung Boon Sin’s revenge against the Ko family as well as his relationship with Tsui Sum. Even though the character of Tung Boon Sin is billed as a ‘bad guy’ of sorts because of what he does to the Ko family (especially the innocent Yee Kiu), he’s actually a good guy at heart, it’s just that his suffering as a child caused him to want revenge.
Raymond Wong did an EXCELLENT job in the role of Tung Boon Sin -- his performance in this series was absolutely amazing and convincing! Tim Gor once said in an interview that Raymond was well-suited for the role of Tung Boon Sin – well, I would actually venture to say that he wasn’t just ‘well-suited’ for the role, he was actually PERFECT for it! It’s obvious that Raymond put a lot of effort into the role, as his acting in the series was so METICULOUS -- from the first time his character appeared in episode 1 all the way to his tragic end in episode 21….every facial expression, hand gesture, even the crying scenes were all absolutely well-executed, to the point that I truly felt he was the one carrying the whole Boon Sin / Tsui Sum storyline and it’s really because of his fine acting that all those scenes between him and Niki were so emotional (for me at least). Also, I never realized it before, but those eyes of his sure can act! The wealth of emotion that Raymond conveyed with his eyes – whether it’s anger, happiness, playfulness, sadness, etc. – was so amazing, it definitely was difficult not to be drawn in to his character in the series. Raymond definitely deserves a lot of credit for making the character of Tung Boon Sin SO MEMORABLE!
Even though Raymond has been in the industry for a long time, I never really knew much about him until he joined TVB a few years ago. I watched most of the TVB series that he was in prior to this one and even though I liked his performances and always viewed him as a solid, talented actor, I didn’t realize his true potential until now. I absolutely loved Raymond in this series – his performance impressed me so much that I’ve become somewhat of a ‘fan’ now and am definitely looking forward to future performances from him!
Niki Chow (Tsui Sum / Ngau Nai Tong) – Niki’s character Tsui Sum is the adopted daughter of the Tsui family (though this fact is not revealed until halfway through the series) who takes on overseeing the family’s soy sauce factory after her (adopted) father dies. She has a strong-willed personality (which makes sense given that she has to oversee an entire factory), but at the same time, she also has a kind and compassionate heart. When Tung Boon Sin first enters her life, she is moved by his story of his childhood friend Ngau Nai Tong, whom he has been waiting for 20 years to be reunited with and even tries to help him find her. Not surprisingly, Tsui Sum is smitten by Boon Sin’s charm and even falls for him after he repeatedly helps bail her family out of trouble. He persuades her to sign over the rights to her family’s soy sauce factory to him, hoping that he would be able to save the factory from demise, but he ends up selling the factory to the Ko family as part of his revenge plot. When Tsui Sum finds out that the person she trusted with all her heart was deceiving her all along, she is devastated -- but with the help of her family and the doctor friend (played by Jack Wu) she meets at the hospital, she eventually overcomes the pain and starts anew rebuilding the soy sauce factory (that is, until she and Boon Sin cross paths again). Without going into detail, of course Tsui Sum and Boon Sin eventually become a couple, but the twists and turns that occur in between is truly what makes their love story so poignant and memorable.
Contrary to popular opinion, I actually think that Niki did a decent job in this series. Sure, her acting wasn’t great by any means, but it wasn’t horrible either – I actually did not get as annoyed with her performance in here as I have been in her past series. The problem I’ve always had with Niki’s acting in the past is that she’s too wooden at times, which makes her acting look forced – plus she has a certain intonation in her voice which sometimes makes it sound like she is reading the dialogue rather than reciting it, which is why her acting always comes across as very unnatural to me. That being said though, I will say that she has improved A LOT in this series because even though she still had the same problems (yes, I was able to detect it right away), it was not as pronounced as in previous series. And I have to admit that Niki does crying scenes way better than most of the actresses at TVB nowadays (it’s kind of ironic that I find Niki’s crying scenes quite natural and convincing, but her acting overall doesn’t have the same effect).
I think that overall, the reason why I found her character tolerable was because of the chemistry that Niki had with Raymond Wong in this series – I actually enjoyed almost every single scene that the 2 of them had together. Perhaps because of Raymond’s great acting in this series, he was able to bring out the best in Niki because I felt that each time the 2 of them interacted in a scene, the emotional impact was very high. I actually think that NIki and Raymond make a great onscreen couple – for me, this was one of the best pairings that I’ve seen in years!
Jack Wu (Yuen Yau Hin) – Jack plays an established young doctor who actually turns out to be the illegitimate son that Ko Siu Tong (Samuel Kwok)had been looking for and eventually found. He’s a very kind-hearted person whose main goal in life is to be a good doctor and help as many people as possible. Though he and his father reunited many years ago, he does not want his father to acknowledge him publicly because he has no interest whatsoever in the Ko family fortune or their business. However, due to various things that happen, he eventually returns to the Ko family and helps out with the business. He meets Tsui Sum (Niki Chow) after she becomes his patient at the hospital where he works and he helps her through the illness that was brought on by Boon Sin’s deception. Even when he returns to help take care of the Ko family business, he still continues his ‘job’ as the Tsui family doctor. The two of them end up developing a life-long friendship. Also, he is pretty much the only good person in the entire Ko family.
Jack Wu has always been one of those actors whom I’ve found to be extremely underrated. He’s quite solid in terms of his acting skills and I’ve always found his performances consistent and likable. In the past, I always felt like Jack was typecasted into those ‘boy next door’ type roles -- perhaps because of his boyish looks -- and never really given a chance to play more mature, ‘professional’ roles much. That’s why I feel that Tim Gor made the right choice to cast Jack in this series as Dr Yuen because the character is quite different from the roles that he used to play in the past and it gives Jack a chance to show his acting skill. Of course, he still needs a little bit of polish in the role, but overall, he put in a fine performance!
Eric Li (Law Yat) – Eric plays Tung Boon Sin’s best friend Law Yat who is also his ‘partner’ in helping him carry out his revenge plans. His role is more behind the scenes, as he does a lot of investigative work for Boon Sin and reports back his findings, then, based on this, the two of them plan out their next moves. The reason why Law Yat is so devoted to helping Boon Sin is because he saved his life a long time ago, so he swore he would follow him from that moment on. The unique thing about Law Yat and Boon Sin’s relationship is the great chemistry between the two – they understand each other so well that oftentimes, they seem to know what the other is thinking and they are able to execute their plans effectively. The bond that these two share is unique and their relationship is similar to that of brothers rather than simply friends, which becomes more obvious as the series progresses (especially in the last few episodes when Boon Sin’s life is in danger). Law Yat has a playful personality, but when it comes to helping Boon Sin execute his plans, he takes his responsibilities very seriously – once the serious discussions are over however, Law Yat never passes up the chance to ‘tease’ Boon Sin about Tsui Sum. I love watching these two interact – the ‘teasing’ scenes between these two are especially hilarious and provide a welcome comedic respite from the otherwise serious / tragic nature of the series.
I was thoroughly impressed with Eric’s performance in this series! His portrayal of Law Yat was so well-executed and natural, I couldn’t help finding his character endearing and charming. Actually, this isn’t the first time that Eric has pulled off an impressive performance, but unfortunately, most of the roles he’s had in the past were insignificant ones where he never really got a chance to showcase his talent, plus he was mostly typecasted into minor villain roles as well (most audiences probably recognize Eric for his villain roles). His role in this particular series was probably one of the first ‘meatier’ non-villain roles he was given and without a doubt, he absolutely excelled in it!
I actually read up a little bit on Eric after watching this series and was surprised to find out that he has actually been in the industry since the mid-90s – he actually graduated from TVB’s Acting Class in 1995 and has been in numerous TVB productions since then (another actor who has toiled at TVB for numerous years without much recognition). Boy, I really hope that TVB gives him more significant supporting roles to play rather than the usual ‘villain x or y’ because it’s obvious that he has good acting skills and great potential (come on now, he’s 100x better than those Mr. HKs that TVB keeps putting into their series!).
Rebecca Chan (Dong Kwok Hing) – Rebecca played the role of the main ‘villanness’ in the series, Dong Kwok Hing. She is the matriarch of the Ko family and has a significant amount of ‘clout’ because she came from a well-to-do family and her husband Ko Siu Tong (Samuel Kwok) was able to build his business based in large part on funds provided by her family. She and Siu Tong have 3 children: oldest son Yee Tai (played by Joel Chan), second daughter Yee Kiu (played by Elaine Yiu), and youngest daughter Yee Nga (played by Katy Kung). The best way to describe Dong Kwok Hing is that she is a ‘control freak’ -- ever since her children were little, she has always ruled them with an iron fist, arranging every aspect of their lives from where/when they should go to school to whom they should marry. Also, she spends a lot of her time trying to make her children seem like ‘model children’ in front of their father by hiding anything bad that they do from him, primarily because she is afraid that if he found out, he would cut the children off from any future inheritance. Dong Kwok Hing is actually a very important character in the series because it’s really because of her scheming and her actions that trigger the whole revenge thing with Tung Boon Sin and pretty much becomes the catalyst for everything else that happens in the series.
Once again, Rebecca did an excellent job as the villain character (seems like she’s been doing more and more villain roles in the past several years). Of course, as a veteran artist, it’s no surprise that her acting would be great – with her level of experience, she has pretty much mastered the skills when it comes to executing her role well. Not sure how many people notice, but whenever Rebecca does villain roles, she does the facial expressions extremely well, especially with the eyes (the way she stares menacingly at people with those piercing eyes can be quite scary). With that said, she is still able to play the benevolent mother roles well too – now that’s versatile acting! It’s interesting how Rebecca has come a long way from TVB fa dan in the 80s to top villainess in the current era. I grew up watching her series and even when she was a fa dan, I always felt that she looked more mature than most of the other fa dans at the time (though she wasn’t really that much older). Anyway, another great performance from a veteran!
Elaine Yiu (Ko Yee Kiu) – Elaine’s character Yee Kiu is the oldest daughter in the Ko family. She’s quite smart, but because of the way she is raised, she is constantly under her mother’s controlling shadow. On the surface, she is obedient to her mother and does whatever she is told to do, even if it means that she must marry a man she doesn’t love in order to further the business relationship between the 2 families – however, inside, she really hates the way her mother tries to control them. Because she wants so desperately to get out from under her mother’s control, she tries to win her dad’s favor by succeeding with the family business, so throughout most of the series, she is battling her older brother Yee Tai to gain the upper hand in the business. She meets Tung Boon Sin during a business transaction and though impressed by him, she doesn’t get involved with him because she is engaged already. However, as the series progresses and she gets more and more frustrated with her mother’s controlling nature (plus her dad doesn’t appreciate her efforts with the family business), she eventually falls for Boon Sin’s charms and starts dating him behind her fiance’s back (which is all part of Boon Sin’s plan, though unbeknownst to her of course). In the end, under Boon Sin’s encouragement, she defies her mother and breaks up with her fiancé (causing him to commit suicide)…after giving up everything she has and running away from home, she discovers that all along the whole thing was a setup – Boon Sin never loved her and was pretty much ‘playing’ her the entire time as part of his revenge plan to destroy the Ko family.
To my surprise, I was actually quite impressed with Elaine’s acting in this series. I haven’t seen a whole lot of her series in the past, but the ones that I have seen I was not impressed with, so I wasn’t really expecting much from her going into this series. I was pleasantly surprised though to see how much more mature her acting has become – with many of the emotional scenes involving herself and Raymond as well as the ‘showdown’ scenes between her and Rebecca, she was able to deliver consistently. In fact, in that one episode especially where Yee Kiu defies her mother and runs away from home, only to find the letter that Boon Seen leaves for her telling her the whole thing was a setup – all of the scenes were done so well by Elaine that I truly felt sorry for her character...when she read the letter, I could sense her pain! Also, that last scene in the finale where her character Yee Kiu seeks out Raymond’s character Boon Seen at the office and stabs him was actually quite well-acted. Great improvement for Elaine!
Raymond Cho (Tsui Ping) -- Raymond Cho plays Tsui Sum (Niki)’s older brother Tsui Ping. He is a very honest and upright person who is not good at making decisions and doesn’t really have much of an opinion on anything, however, he has a heart of gold. Even though he is the oldest son, he knows that with his somewhat shy personality, he’s not suited to manage the family’s soy sauce factory, so he’s perfectly fine with his sister overseeing it. He prefers to live a simple and happy life and let the other women in his life (his wife, sister, and mother) make all the decisions for him – in a sense, he has a ‘happy-go-luck’ type personality. One of Tsui Ping’s best qualities is his unwavering devotion to his family, especially to his little sister Tsui Sum – other than his mother, he is the only one who knows Tsui Sum’s true identity, but that doesn’t prevent him from treating her as his biological sister. The way he loves his sister so much and tries to protect her at all costs is truly very touching and sweet!
Ray Cho never fails to impress me with his acting! No matter what type of role he gets – whether serious, comedic, villain, etc. – he always handles the role extremely well. The character of Tsui Ping may not be a major character in the series and compared to the others, he may not have as much screentime, but his role was still very endearing and enjoyable. I loved all those scenes he had with Niki where the two of them would have their heart-to-heart brother/sister talks as well as those scenes where he would be so concerned for his sister’s well-being that he would be on the verge of tears (moved me to tears as well). Ray’s character (as well as his performance) was definitely among one of my favorites!
Claire Yiu (Tsui Ping’s wife Wan Yau) – As Tsui Ping’s wife, she is loud and bossy (in a nice way) with a blunt personality and a bit nosy too, but underneath all that, she actually has a good heart. In fact, her character was quite funny and enjoyable in this series. I especially loved her interaction with her ‘husband’ in the series, Ray Cho – they sure make a compatible, cute couple in my opinion…LOL!
Ching Hor Wai (Mrs. Tsui) – Her character is pretty much the typical ‘benevolent mother’ role, except that she ends up having an illness similar to Alzheimers and slowly starts to lose her memory. Even though her role can be considered minor in comparisons to the others (I think she probably has the least amount of screentime), her character is critical in being the one who knows the background of Tsui Sum’s childhood and eventually revealing those details to Boon Sin. Ching Hor Wai gives her usual steady performance in here.
Katy Kung (Ko Yee Nga) – Katy plays the youngest of the Ko daughters and is actually the one who deserves most to meet a miserable fate in my opinion. Her character is bxxchy and incorrigible – at home, she pretends to be a good girl to win her parents favor, but outside, she shows her true colors as a promiscuous teenager who smokes and has a nasty, arrogant temper. Knowing her personality and temper, Boon Sin purposefully leads her into thinking that he likes her when he actually doesn’t and this causes her to be at odds with her sister Yee Kiu. Later on, when she finds out that Boon Sin’s true love is actually Tsui Sum, Yee Nga gets jealous and ends up pushing her down a cliff – the incident causes Tsui Sum to once again become crippled. Obviously I disliked Katy’s character – she was just way too annoying and fake (and it’s unfortunate that she ended up getting off scott-free thanks to her mother, continuing to live her wild life in another city)!
Joel Chan (Ko Yee Tai) – Joel actually portrayed his role quite well in this series, but since I’ve never really been fond of him as an actor, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to him in here. Besides, his character had more of a significance in the first few episodes of the series during the whole battle over the soy sauce factory and stuff –later on, he pretty much just follows his mother around and does whatever she tells him to do.
Samuel Kwok (Ko Siu Tong) – I’m actually kind of disappointed that Kwok Fung didn’t have a more significant role in this series, especially given that he is the patriarch of the Ko family. I sort of felt like all he did pretty much was just appear every so often to chide his children and his wife whenever something bad happened in his family. The two scenes where he had the most significance were in the announcement of Yuen Yau Hin as his son and also when he officially disowns his oldest son and sends his wife away after he discovers the nasty things that they did. For such a great veteran actor, too bad his role was less significant.
Tracy Ip (Ko Yee Tai’s wife Bak Wai) – Her performance is probably the only one that I really didn’t like -- her acting came across too robotic and fake to me and it seemed that she had difficulty saying her lines (perhaps because of her slight accent?). Anyway, since her role was relatively minor and didn’t appear a whole lot, I was ok with sitting through it.
I normally don’t like to go into too much detail with the ending, but with this series, since the ending was a bit contentious, I figured it’s important to talk about. (The sentiment from the general public seems to be that the overall series was great, but the ending was bad because it was so tragic -- specifically referring to the part where Tung Boon Sin dies tragically and Tsui Sum doesn’t find out until years later).
Indeed, the ending truly was agonizing and absolutely heartwrenching! Episode 20 actually ended very sweetly (and close to the ‘happily ever after’ ending that most of us wanted), but then episode 21 came along and it ended up being so tragic that part of me really wanted to pretend episode 21 didn’t exist (though of course that’s not possible because that’s the critical episode that ties up all the loose ends).
Personally, I had mixed feelings about the ending – on the one hand, I could understand the purpose of making the ending tragic so that it’s more memorable (which the series definitely did), but on the other hand, I could also see how the writers could have written the ending differently, in a way that would have been more satisfying to the audiences (if not ‘happily ever after’, then even a semi-tragic one would have sufficed for me – especially since that’s the type of ending I had in mind anyway).
I actually don’t think that I would have a problem with the tragic ending (the part where Boon Sin dies) itself if that entire segment had been handled better -- because the way it was portrayed in the finale really did not make a whole lot of sense from a logical standpoint (plus the ‘tortuous’ way in which that part was portrayed – the whole ‘tripping through the streets with blood gushing out of wound’ thing -- was really unnecessary in my opinion).
Anyway…as much as I didn’t want to see the series end the way it did, I will admit that it definitely upped the emotional factor and made the series all the more poignant and memorable!
Overall, “Bottled Passion” was an excellent series! Even though the series is technically a romantic love story at its core, there’s actually a good mix of other things in there that make the series well-balanced enough for those who may want to watch this but are not into romantic dramas. I personally enjoyed this series tremendously and for me – taking all things into consideration such as script / storyline, cast, acting, etc. -- it’s truly the Best Series of the year (officially now, since 2011 is over already).
This is definitely a series worth watching (I’m already planning to rewatch it soon, which is rare for me) for all the reasons stated above (plus at 21 episodes, it’s short enough so as not to be draggy). Now of course, if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like watching ‘tearjerkers’ at all (it’s pretty much a guarantee that this series will evoke tears at one point or another), then yes, perhaps reconsider…but if you want to see how a truly high quality, well-written, well-acted, and well-produced looks like, then this series is definitely the one to choose!