Gods of Honour

Reviewed by: spcnet

October 12, 2003

Rating: one-point-five

It's hard to ask TVB to make series faithful to a novel or original story anymore so all I ask for in their adaptations nowadays is just that it be logical with some common sense. I wonder what kind of audiences TVB is targeting nowadays because their storylines are so frustratingly melodramatic. I think any fans of this series should not even bother to read this review because I almost don't have anything good to say about it. Honestly. The more I watched this series, the more I hated it. If you still read it and disagree, go post an intelligent and constructive message at the forum.

The basic overall plot is that the emperor has slighted the Nuwar goddess by making disrespectful comments at her temple so she sends a fox spirit in the form of Tan Gei to enchant him and at the same time, ruin his kingdom (this is the original legend, TVB is unclear about it. Tan Gei is just corrupted by the fox spirit here). He becomes such a lazy king that he even allows Tan Gei to administer his empire for him. Any officials who complained were sent to be tortured by wrapping their bodies around a burning hot pole engraved, ironically, with wisdom words of the ways of emperor-minister relationships. A revolutionary group is formed, comprising of abled people like Na Zha, Yeung Chin, Liu Chun Zhi, to dethrone the emperor and elect Sai Bak Hao, a previously loyal official who was victim to the king and Tan Gei's abuses. "Gods" begins with Na Zha's story, before and after he was born, how he was abandoned by his parents because of a prophecy that he will one day kill the king, who was royal Prince then. A bit of an Oedipus feel to it where Na Zha grows up angry at his father. Na Zha encounters the three eyed Yeung Chin and the winged Liu Chun Zhi. They become good friends and attend school together. They meet Lin Fa, who turned out to be Yeung Chin's little sister at the school while Yun Sup Leung, Na Zha's mother, also comes to look for her abandoned son. The story turns to how the third sea dragon prince tries to court and marry Lin Fa and is unintentionally killed by Na Zha in anger. This leads to a series of events for Na Zha and his friends and eventually the telling of their stories of how they enlisted for the revolution and became gods.

The Na Zha in the original stories was just a small kid. I used to have children's books of Na Zha where he was depicted as a cute little, almost girl lookalike, boy. His mother carried him in her womb for three years and some months before finally giving birth to a huge ball. Na Zha was inside that ball and was already a few years old. The abridged stories that I read when small had him follow a master who taught him kungfu and endowed him with all his special weapons. When he killed some sea dragon, he was somehow righteous in my mind in those stories because the dragons were so high and mighty over their ability to control the weather that they unmercifully created bad weather to punish the people. They even forced them to give human sacrifice in exchange for good weather. Na Zha pretended to be one of the kids given away for sacrifice and killed a sea dragon. All the villagers thought Na Zha was a hero. The dragons were of course angry and then created havoc in the weather department. Lee Jing was the sworn brother of the sea dragon king and was very unsupportive of Na Zha and even tied him up to apologize. Na Zha was somehow freed and then committed that whole, return bones to father, flesh to mother ordeal. He came back as a spirit and, in a dream to his mother, asked her to build him a temple to come back to life. The villagers knowingly and willingly prayed to him because he was a hero in their eyes. Lee Jing found out and went to thrash the place while the villagers scolded him behind his back. Na Zha was eventually resurrected by his master by using lotus for his flesh.

The first time I saw Benny Chan was in "Demi God and Semi Devils" as Duan Yu where he overacted the role and turned Duan into a semi goof-ball. Then in "Journey to the West II", he was just overshadowed by Dicky Chueng's previous performance. In "Gods" the character of Na Zha was loud, disrespectful, and undeserving of being resurrected. Na Zha was so arrogant and bad at the beginning, in killing the third Dragon Prince, unfilial to his mother, mean to Lin Fa, that I didn't see why anyone would want to save him. Even after he was resurrected, he was still at times fresh and had the shame to think he deserved better weapons. When he became a "lotus person", there was some mention of him having to do ten good deeds before regaining his flesh body again. Though I was glad that TVB didn't force the viewer watch him go through ten deeds, it was silly how easily he became fleshed out again without doing anything. Na Zha just has it too easy and he simply doesn't deserve it. TVB should've never mentioned that whole 10 good deeds ordeal. They stopped Benny from donning Na Zha's outfit and putting up his hair in that Na Zha hairdo. I didn't mind too much since Benny didn't look anywhere cute in it and only gave me the shivers.

I have a particular gripe with Yuen Kin Dan as Na Zha's mother, Yun Sup Leung. I thought she was really annoying, especially at the beginning when she finds Na Zha. She literally yaks too much in this series with the same tone and is biasely too nice to Na Zha. Yun Sup Leung even admits this at some point that she doesn't care enough for her other two sons, Gum Zha and Mok Zha. If I were her other two sons I would probably hate my mother for being so unfair in her affections. They say that Gum and Mok Zha don't become any special fighters or generals but who can blame them when their mother only helps Na Zha in everything? Yuen Kin Dan also repeats many of her lines which becomes repetitious and irritating to my ears. Every time she chastises Na Zha for being a bad boy or lectures someone to be filial, I wanted to fast forward the tape. Most of all, Yuen Kin Dan had too much screen time! She is almost always there when Na Zha is on the screen. She does everything with him, including going to war, going on missions, or whatever he participates in. I remember disliking it quite a bit too in Dicky Cheung's "Fong Sai Yuk" where his mother followed him around all the time, but at least they loosened it after a while. In "Gods", it seemed like Na Zha can never escape from his mother's clutches. It's TVB's way of showing how much Yun Sup Leung's cares for Na Zha but I think they went overboard with it, to the point of my dislike for her character all together--I think I just hate corny extremities. Aside from that, what was the deal with Yun Sup Leung using his wind-fire wheels? They are Na Zha's personal weapons! Those phoenixes should've learned to accept only one master. What if he needed to use it for something important at the same time that Yun was on sneaking off to see Lee Jing?

Yeung Chin (Chin Ka Lok), the three-eyed god warrior, can be described with 3 "D" words: Dunce, Dumb, and D..d..d..duh... There was a particular scene when he was first assigned the post of general and leading a group of slack soldiers and a letter from his wife came. They find that a beast is coming so they all run like cowards to a cave. Yeung Chin drops his letter and runs back to get it. On the way, he sees Sai Bok Hao fighting the enemy but, Yeung doesn't go to help! He placed more priority over this letter than saving the life of the man who represents the whole morale of the army! If Sai Bok Hao died, end of the whole revolution. Yeung Chin doesn't even think of the fact that if the revolution is cancelled, he won't be a general anymore and still will be in shame to go back home to his wife. Then what happens next is enough to make me want to smack someone. Yeung Chin stupidly goes and saves all the wounded soldiers into the cave, regardless of who they are. He could be saving the enemy for all he knows, but luckily he even saves Sai Bok Hao. The whole annoying thing is that he didn't even know it because he didn't even bother to look at who he's saving! And then to have all his soldiers respect him for this dumb deed is just...dumb (I'm out of words and at wits end to even try to come up with another word for it)! Who wants to pray to an Er Long Sun like that?

Some sorry person might think this portrays a cute Yeung Chin but I think it takes out all the heroism and respect for Yeung Chin. He has no ambitions other than to become a low rank soldier and then return home to his wife. He mentions this all the time too whenever he gets the chance--I don't sympathize at all or find it endearing for his story though. I am even beginning to dislike Chin Ka Lok because of this role. I didn't think talking slow and coming up with silly expressions is acting.

Miss Hong Kong winner, Winnie Yeung Yuen Yee, who played Yeung Chin's wife, Wong Gan, is also just average, sometimes not believable at all when she cries.

Lin Fa (Michelle Yip Shuen) was a silly girl who had a crush on Na Zha. After a while, I became slightly annoyed at Michelle Yip's accent or lilt on her voice when speaking her dialogues. Lin Fa willingly became a butterfly for 3 years so that Na Zha could be resurrected. I almost pitied her when she was a butterfly but TVB had to ruin it by making her come back as human form three years later. The funniest part is when Na Zha's first resurrection efforts are ruined by Lao Pei Pa and his aunt who came and trashed his temple. About to disappear for sure, everyone is worried about Na Zha, so who do they send to go and find Wan Chong Zhi to save Na Zha? Of course it's a weak and unskilled girl who was nearly in hysterics--Lin Fa! They didn't even have anyone else, like Yeung Chin, go with her! What were they thinking by only sending Lin Fa for such an important mission? And what could the rest of them do to help by just waiting around?

Wan Bik Ha as the villainess Tan Gei was only mediocre. Nothing really to comment except that she's still a mediocre actress. I was wondering at first how the heck did Tan Gei get to be commander over the fox spirit who at first, was bossing her around? TVB just casually explains this near the end in about a sentence which is a bit of a cop-out. Cheng Chi Seng who played the emperor was one of the few castings that I don't have any complaints about--he nailed the useless king to the bone. A bit sorry for Cheng that he is always the villain though in series.

The other villainess, Lao Pei Pa (Tong Ying Ying) who was Lee Jing's (Yuen Wah) second wife was just shrill. She had a very shrill voice and would just holler and throw tantrums. A very annoying character but no one had the guts to overthrow her reign of terror. The whole Lee family was just fickle. They changed attitudes with the tides and it was this lack of character in them that made them so unreal--as if TVB especially made them so to have viewers yell in frustration. I don't think characters or situations like these make series any good at all. It just has no depth. I have to point out too that Lee Jing's sister was the most evil character too. She supported Lao Pei Pa in almost all of her schemes, personally kicked the statue of Na Zha in his temple when he was about to be resurrected, and without a second thought, left her mother to fight alone when they decided to join the revolutionaries.

Basically, I could not stand any of the characters and don't root for anyone. TVB's idea of humor is to dumb down all the characters to hopefully get some laughs and make us relate to them? Perfect example is Lee Jing, the father of Na Zha, who is turned into a man without a backbone. Yeung Chin is a dimwit (another "D" description!), Na Zha is an ungrateful ingrate, and Yun Sup Leung had a bigger role than I would've liked and was a chatterbox.

Saving the good for last, the good comments about this series. The scenery, sets, costumes, were very good. One could tell that TVB did put effort in this area of the production. The computer graphics have improved, better than those from "Journey to the West" but still have some many more miles to travel before attaining awe. Fighting is also good in some scenes. I hated the themesong originally, but it became bearable after a while, though I still hold that singers nowadays can't sing as good as the older generation singers. *Note: Themesong available to watch at the Related Media section above!*

Some questions that I could not quite figure out:
1. Why didn't Yeung Chin just ask Na Zha to fly him back to meet his wife with his wind-fire wheels instead of suffering the pain of separation for years? Yun Sup Leung did it all the time.

2. Why didn't Sai Bak Hao's son, Bak Yut Hao, take Tan Gei, as promised away from the palace?

3. Why did Tan Gei's younger sister not try to appease the emperor to have him favor her sister too or at the very minimum, visit her? Even if the emperor took up most of her time, I'm sure she could whine a lot to make him listen to her.

4. Why didn't Lee Jing slap his second wife or something after she lied about her pregnancy, and about his mother being beat by Tan Gei--how could anyone tolerate that?

5. Why didn't Tan Gei's father go and try to convince her to stop what she's doing to the kingdom before fighting a war? This was an area I wish TVB had at least explained because he seemed ok to fight a war against his own daughter whom everyone was calling a wicked witch.

6. Why didn't the Queen just send her two sons, the royal princes, to talk to the king in the first place instead of asking Bei Goin, who died really for no value?

Here's the thing for everyone to think about. All this misery is supposedly caused by the King who made those lude remarks in front of the statue of the Nuwar Goddess. She then punished him by making his kingdom suffer. Where is the justice in this, I ask? Why didn't she just have a bolt of lightning or something strike this king and punish him directly instead of punishing poor innocent lives? One can argue that punishing the kingdom is like punishing the king since he will go down in history as a bad king, or there'll be no story then, and probably this was the way of people explaining why bad things happened in the past but, do anyone see the logic in the part of hurting innocent lives in the process? The Nuwar goddess indirectly caused the deaths and sufferings of so many people in the process--all to teach this king a lesson? My conclusion is that the gods are really twisted in their minds about the concept of crime and punishment.

Screenshots (TVB Copyrighted).

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