(A continuation from Tin Cham Bien)
How long/Year produced:
30 episodes done in year 1980 (can't remember the year clearly - will appreciate if someone can enlighten me)
Wan Fei Yeung - Koo Gun Chung (now based in Taiwan)
Fu Heung Kwan - Yu On On (a housewife who acts occasionally)
Tsui Ting Feng - Bak Piew (Kwok Jing in the tvb 96 version of 'Return of the condor heroes')
Chung Mok Lan - Ngai Chau Wah(Wong Yung in the tvb 96 version of 'Return of the condor heroes')
Phoenix - Miu Hor Sau making a cameo appearance (retired and staying in Canada)
Siu Chi - Leung Siu Lung (now a stuntsman director in movies)
Namgong Meng Chu - Sit Kar Yin (Hou Yee in 'A Kindred Spirit)
Zhu Jing Jieu - Man Shuet Yee (seldom acts now but acted in tvb serials a few years back)
Zhu Cheng Tuck - Man Tse Leung (acting in China part-time and is a businessman now)
Namgong Yee Niong - Chan Mun Nah (recently acted as Henry's mother in Healing Hands 2)
Yan Zun - Mah Hoi Lun (Miu Cui Far's nanny in the Flower Fist)
Luk Dan - Law Lok Lam (Yam Wo Hang in the tvb 97 version of 'the swordsman')
Lau Jing - Wong Wai (Yuet But Kuan in the 96 tvb version of 'the swordsman')
This serial has a very gripping start. Bak Lien sect starts to abduct children that they see on the street. Heung Kwan and Ting Feng rescue them. Heung Kwan has a very poor impression of Ting Feng as she thinks that he is a flirt and even comes to blows with him. Heung Kwan is looking for Wan Fei Yeung. Knowing that Bak Lien sect's leader, But Lo, is having a duel with Sam Chan, she goes there and is dismayed to find Ting Feng there.
Ting Feng is there because he is a close friend of Sam Chan and also a kungfu craze himself. But Sam Chan isn't there to receive the both of them. He is in retreat trying to master the crane skill to deal with But Lo's 7 zither skill. Under the explanation of the elder monks, Heung Kwan clears the air with Ting Feng after learning that he is the well-known kind Marquis in court. Unknown to the both of them, Fei Yeung is in Shaolin recuperating from his injuries from the duel with Mo Dik.
Now comes the duel between the two old men. It is an amazing sight to see animals die because of the horrible vibration from the zither. Even all the monks start to close their ears with their hands. Heung Kwan has trouble meditating too to resist the force but Ting Feng comes to her aid. By this time, Ting Feng begins to like her. When the vibration is so great that one of her pearl earrings drops, he catches it and keeps it in his palm.
As you have expected it, Sam Chan is being exploded into pieces--not because he is weaker in skill, but because he suddenly remembers that he forgot to keep his cranes in a safe place to avoid the attack. This distracts him. Fei Yeung is in his room all the time and has no problem dealing with the force. When the
vibration stops, he knows that something is wrong and he walks out of his room.
The Shaolin monks refuse to submit to But Lo and many kill themselves. Ting Feng knows that he is no match for But Lo and tries to find ways to deal with him through wit. He looks through Sam Chan's dead remains and finds his palm. The agreement between the 2 men is that if Sam Chan becomes ashes, But Lo will take full control over Shaolin. But Lo is angry at Sam Chan for concentrating all his strength on his palm. But he fulfils his promises and admits defeat but laments that he has no match in future.
At this time, Fei Yeung appears and all are overjoyed to see him, especially Heung Kwan. Fei Yeung points out to But Lo that he is too arrogant. They spar with each other in their internal strength and But Lo is interested to find out that his inner strength is comparable to him although he is much younger. He wants to test him using his zither skill. Afraid that more tragedies will happen, Fei Yeung tells the rest to hide somewhere further away. But Heung Kwan insists of staying there with Ting Feng.
Fei Yeung defeats But Lo with his 'Tin Cham' skill and all the strings on But Lo's zither are being destroyed. But Lo's ending is near and he shoots his signal in the air to inform all followers to submit to Shaolin. To his dismay, they rebel and fled. Ting Feng tells him about his follower's deeds. But Lo is shocked as he has been in retreat all along practising his skill and does not know about it. Knowing that Ting Feng can be trusted, he gives him the sect leader authority pendant, a zither manual and the zither. He tells Ting Feng that a skill can be practised to curb them but Ting Feng decides to keep it for his potential disciple in the future as he doesn't want to practise a skill from another sect.
But Lo dies and Ting Feng gives Heung Kwan back her earring before he leaves. Heung Kwan finds out from Fei Yeung that all along he has only been treating her as a sister. She cries when running down the hill. While seeing her leave, Fei Yeung gets upset and suddenly vomits blood. The elders are shocked and are stunned when examining his pulse. All his veins are actually broken by Mo Dik in the last duel and he had taken a long time to recover partly. This attack breaks them again and this time, his injury has worsened and is on the verge of death.
The monks panic and wants to look for Heung Kwan for help. Fei Yeung begs them not to do so, as he does not want to make her worry about him. Seeing that he is so anxious and vomits more blood, they finally give in and decide to break the rule of passing the 'yijin' skill to him.
Heung Kwan stays in Ting Feng's home but she is unhappy. Only when she sees Luk Dan, her spirits are lifted. Both are friends all along and she is glad that Luk Dan has done Mo Dong proud. However, he has yet to get the Emperor's approval to clear his family's name. Ting Feng agrees to help him. Luk Dan gets to see Ting Feng's cousin, Jing Jieu, and is interested in her. But Jing Jieu is very willful and makes him angry by mocking him about the criminal stamp on his face. But after knowing his sad past, she pities him and both are together.
Siu Chi comes with his master and are street performers. He is a very skilful thief and he set eyes on Meng Chu's pearl necklace. He steals them and is caught by her. Both often quarrel from then on but later love develops when Meng Chu finds him to be a kind man. But of course as she comes from the rich and influential Namgong home, all her aunts and her grandmother oppose it. Only her youngest aunt, Mok Lan, approves it. The Namgong family has 5 widows as all the sons died mysteriously. Mok Lan is actually Ting Feng's junior. She is arranged to marry the youngest son but he is killed when falling from a cliff after being attacked on their wedding day.
The Namgong family comes to the city to stay, to Siu Chi's joy. But many things happen - the Bak Lien sect rises again. This time, it has three leaders - Tin Zun, Dei Zun, and Yan Zun. Also four sub-leaders - red, white, yellow and black. Tin Zun and Dei Zun abduct the children in practising the evil white bone skill.
Yan Zun is good in producing zombies from the dead. She has four maids, Mui, Lam, Chok and Gok who are very powerful. The four women kill a number of skilled martial arts experts by surprise. Even Siu Chi's master, who is a martial expert by secret, dies in their hands. Siu Chi vows to seek revenge on the sect and being a man who doesn't care about the consequences of breaking rules, he takes the zither from Ting Feng and practises the skill. But he finds little improvement and gets very upset. He leaves Ting Feng's home to wander around the world to look for experts to help him answer the questions in the manual.
Yan Zun sends them to kill Ting Feng. But they are unlucky to meet Ting Feng. He finishes them all at one go and Yan Zun is mad that she cannot revive them again and blood flow out from their five sense organs, damaging every single nerve in their bodies. He also manages to crush the sect with Luk Dan's help. Luk Dan is displeased with Cheng Tuck for not recognising his effort and unwilling to clear his family's name. Jing Jieu knows about it but she is helpless, although she is Cheng Tuck's cousin.
Ting Feng is desperate to find the missing leaders but to no avail. Seeking help from Fei Yeung is no use as he left Shaolin to find another place in retreat. Fei Yeung got too famous after defeating But Lo that different experts go to Shaolin and harass him. Alas, what a wrong choice he has made, he meets a kungfu craze, Elder Yuen, who practises his skill from observing monkeys. Knowing his identify, he pesters Fei Yeung to spar with him. But Fei Yeung has a relapse, vomits blood and faints even before starting. Till then, Elder Yuen is holding him captive.
However, Elder Yuen helps to heal Fei Yeung partly per day and spar with him. Fei Yeung gets better but he has a headache on how to get away from this old man. Till then he has not completely recovered and decides not to play his chances. Elder Yuen captures the unlucky Siu Chi. Fei Yeung becomes friends with him and helps him in learning the zither skill in the right track. Later, he helps him escape by holding elder Yuen back.
The emperor Cheng Tuck is a flirt and a weak leader but Ting Feng still supports him. That is why Lau Jin, the chief eunuch has no way in controlling him. Lau Jin is in cohorts with Bak Lien and wants to be his own emperor. Heung Kwan likes Ting Feng now and both get along well. But she is unhappy that Ting Feng works for the court as she does not think that the emperor is worth working for. Ting Feng has no choice as he has given his late father his promise.
Another killer, the pink killer, appears and many martial arts experts die in her hands. She even kills Ting Feng's master. Finally, on a social meeting with all the experts, the real identity of the Namgong matriarch is revealed. She is actually Yan Zun. The real Namgong grandmother has been killed and her face was made into a mask. Yan Zun has disguised herself as a maid to observe her and later kills her by surprise. She also killed the four Namgong brothers. The black sub-leader of Bak Lien sect, Yee Niong, marries the second brother and kills him. On the front, she is a flirtatous woman but when it comes to hatching evil plans, she is very good at it!
The fifth son who is thought to be dead reveals the plot. He is unhappy over his arranged marriage with Mok Lan but he relents, as he is a filial son. But he was suspicious of his mother, as she usually does not force him to do things unwillingly. He found out her identity by chance when she removed the mask to wash her face. She kicked him down a cliff and thought that he is dead. Actually, he is only crippled by the attack and has spent many years to get out of there. Many are shocked by the news. In the end, all the widows are killed. Only Mok Lan and Meng Chu escape and they vow to seek revenge.
Yan Zun is actually happy not to wear the mask again. She gains control of the Bak Lien sect. Through Lau Jin's help, she becomes Cheng Tuck's favourite concubine (I have doubts over this because she still looks old enough to be his mother and how he is impressed by her beauty is untold). The Bak Lien sect has full control over the court as Cheng Tuck is drugged and even sentences Luk Dan to death. The soldiers kill poor Luk Dan when he tries to escape from the arrows shot. Jing Jieu's family is also maimed and the property is being claimed. Jing Jieu has no choice but to live in Ting Feng's home.
Meng Chu and Mok Lan seek her help in killing Yan Zun. She arranges them to work as chefs in the kitchen. The two women draw freckles on their faces to make themselves ugly. Yan Zun likes the dishes done by them but her expression changes when she remembers that they are done the same way as in the Namgong family. She orders to see them. Meng Chu is at her wits end. But Mok Lan is very calm. She hits her acupunture point, swallows the charcoal and disfigures herself. Meng Chu is in tears when seeing her aunt making such a big sacrifice. Mok Lan poisons the food and also eats the medicine, which can only suppress the poison for a while. She has no urge to stay alive but still wants to see Yan Zun die first.
Yan Zun sees her and is terrified by her appearance. But she still finds her familiar looking and demands her to taste the food. Seeing that she is okay, she lets her off. But one of her maids who is hungry has tasted the food before her and dies. Terrified, Yan Zun orders her men to go after Mok Lan. Mok Lan is upset that her plan failed and she is dying for nothing. Later when she knows that Yan Zun has set an ambush for Ting Feng in the garden by tricking him into believing that Cheng Tuck wants to see him, she warns him of it in the garden and gets killed. Ting Feng is very upset over her death.
Meng Chu cannot forget the grief but is sad that Siu Chi has not made any mark in his skills. At this time, Fei Yeung gets away from Elder Yuen and finds Ting Feng. He is happy that Ting Feng and Heung Kwan are together. He agrees to help them in dealing with Bak Lien sect. In the meantime, Siu Chi is still wondering how his power cannot be compared to But Lo although he has accomplished everything stated in the manual. But all advise him not to give up - he nearly tears the whole book but finds nothing special in it. It is said that there is an awakening piece to wake the emperor and the pink killer but he can't find it at all.
Fei Yeung finally gets to meet the 3 leaders and the pink killer. The 3 leaders are in no ground to defeat him and they stand aside to get the pink killer to deal with him. After a great fight, he is about to kill her in a blow when Yan Zun stops him. She tells her to uncover her mask. For 4/5 of the time, all the viewers are trying to guess who she since even her eyes were covered. And we have a big shock in store for us - she turns out to be Phoenix! Fei Yeung is stunned to see her and tries to wake her. But she shows no response and even hits his neck with poisoned needles. Then the 3 leaders kill him. It is a terrible sight to see Wan Dai Hup dying in his sister's hands. Especially when he dies, he still calls her name but to no avail. Yan Zun even parades Fei Yeung's dead body on the streets.
Ting Feng and Heung Kwan are wondering why Fei Yeung took so long to return to the inn. They hear a commotion and they are shocked to see Fei Yeung dead. Yan Zun even tells the crowd to throw stones at Fei Yeung who she claims is a villain. The ignorant crowd does this. Heung Kwan cannot overcome the shock, pain, and despair and she faints. Jing Jieu passes by and sees this. She stops the crowd and gets captured to the palace. Yan Zun wants to use her as bait to lure Ting Feng out. Ting Feng is smart not to take any action, as he knows they will not harm her.
Siu Chi and Ting Feng steals Fei Yeung's body and give him a quiet burial. All grieve for his death. Siu Chi is very pressured as all pin their hopes on him to master the zither skill. Yan Zun wants to get rid of the righteous court officials and sets a meeting on Cheng Tuck's behalf. She gives all of them blood taken from a cow alive. The court officials think that there should not be any poison in it and they drink it. Unknown to them, Yan Zun has poisoned the whole cow the night before. Heung Kwan and Ting Feng are late in arriving to stop them. Most are poisoned and Heung Kwan manages to save all of them. Ting Feng helps her in warding off the blows from the 3 leaders.
As for Siu Chi and Meng Chu, they try to save the emperor from the palace. They kill Liu Jin but Yee Niong holds Cheng Tuck hostage. Meng Chu hates this aunt so much that she does not really bother about Cheng Tuck and this alarms her in delivering her blows. The two attack her and kill her. But making Cheng Tuck coming back to his senses proves to be a difficult task. Siu Chi tries all ways but still fails. In his anger, he throws the zither hard. A note comes out of it and says that the wakening piece only works if he plays it from the opposite direction. He follows and indeed, it works!
They hurry to the meeting place. By now, Ting Feng and Heung Kwan manage to kill the Tin Zun and Dei Zun. But the pink killer proves to be a very skilful opponent. When her mask is revealed by Ting Feng's sword, Heung Kwan is stunned to see Phoenix and asks Ting Feng not to harm her. She then realises why Fei Yeung gets killed and sobs. Siu Chi quickly plays the tune and Phoenix wakes up. She stops and recognises Heung Kwan. She finds it unbelievable that she killed so many people. She sees Yan Zun who tells her that she is her saviour when she jumped off the cliff to avoid Goon Zhong Lau. When she is about to thank her, Yan Zun says that she has already repaid her by killing Fei Yeung. Phoenix then remembers how Fei Yeung dies. She feels remorseful and tries to kill Yan Zun, only to get injured by her.
To be Yan Zun's zombie, one must have mastered the evil martial arts skills, which Phoenix has done under Mo Dik's teaching. The best is the person must have undergone a traumatic experience so as to let her drug work better. This is how Phoenix proves to be better than her 4 maids even when her actual skills are inferior. But when she wakes up from her spell, her skills will return to normal.
Ting Feng and his gang never give up and they join forces to deal with her. Yan Zun ends up falling off the cliff. Phoenix jumps down with her as she blames herself for Fei Yeung's death. After this ordeal, Siu Chi and Meng Chu wander the world. They encourage Ting Feng and Heung Kwan to follow them but Ting Feng is hesitant. Heung Kwan is angry and stays in a nunnery.
Ting Feng goes to see Cheng Tuck and is shocked to see him attempting to rape Jing Jieu, his very own cousin. He is so disheartened and saves her. Then he decides to resign from his post. Cheng Tuck agrees and poisons him before he leaves. He manages to see Heung Kwan the last time before he dies. What a sad ending!
Actually I don't like this follow-up of Tien Cham Bien that much as the original. Unlike the Taiwanese version, not much of Wan Dai Hup is shown. I personally like the Taiwanese arrangement, which gives him a fair deal of exposure. Many think that it is over-focused on Siu Chi and Tsui Ting Feng which is unfair as they don't have the looks of being a Dap Hup and also do not having any remarkable skills like 'Tin Cham' skill. But it has a very strong cast, who put up a good performance.
Many sub-plots are well developed with many twists, which can be confusing if you don't follow the serial closely. I have been guessing who is the pink killer every episode and keep on getting all the wrong answers. I had never thought of Phoenix as she doesn't appear at all from the beginning! Also never dreamt that Namgong matriarch is Yan Zun. But minus for the ending - too sad with many deaths.
Many may wonder how these artists look in their young days, especially the actors who have gained so much weight recently. But they look fabulous, thin and agile in their costumes, especially Man Tse Leung and Bak Piew. Yu On On and Mun Suet Yee are also very pretty in the serial.
Many of my friends like Bak Piew as Tsui Ting Feng. He is very charming looking with his dimpled and assuring smile. With his moustache, he looks like Luk Siu Feng who is a talented and wise man too. Leung Siu Long as Siu Chi is good in martial arts skills but he should have lost some weight before acting. And I am attracted by Sit Kar Yin's beauty - she looks so different from now.
The themesong is good, although not remarkable like 'Tin Cham Bien'. I agree with SC that the original is a classic. It is also sung by Kwan Cheng Kit which I heard from his special collection song album.
On acting: * * * 1/2 (Scale of 5)
On story: * * * (Scale of 5)