Hard Fate


Reviewed by: Bridget

October 05, 2005

Rating: three-point-five

Chinese Title: "Fei Chui Luen Kook" (roughly translates to The Jade Love Song)
# of episodes: 30

Cast:
Damian Lau Chung Yan as Leung Pak Yin (Yin Gor)
Flora Chan Wai San as Mok Hei Yee (Tiffany)
Kevin Cheng Ka Wing as Leung Ka Ming
Niki Chow Lai Kei as Leung Wing Si (Ceci)
Stephen Au-Yeung as Leung Pak Kit
Maggie Siu Mei Kei as Kwan (Ivy)
Supporting Cast
Mary Hon Ma Lei
Ha Yu
Hawick Lau Hoi Wai
Ha Ping
Lo Hoi Pang
Law Lan
Cameo appearances by Michelle Yip Suen and Michael Tong Man Lung

Plot Summary

Yin Gor is the CEO-owner of Yuk Lung Hin, a successful company specializing in jade. Ivy has stood by his side for many years in the company and secretly loves Yin Gor. But Yin Gor only has eyes for Tiffany, a woman twenty years his junior working at Yuk Lung Hin as a jewelery designer. Younger brother Kit returns to the company after faking remorse, and tarnishes the company name with jealous Ivy's help. He is kicked out although Ivy's role is never discovered.

Although he comes off as a morally upright, dignified and accomplished man, Yin Gor has a deep dark secret. More than twenty years ago he was a drug smuggler and sacrificed good friend Jung (father to Ka Ming) to Mainland Chinese authorities. Out of remorse, Yin Gor sponsored the orphaned Ka Ming, and later on taught him the ins and out of the jade business. Yin Gor and Tiffany enjoyed a wonderful relationship until another one of Yin Gor's dark secrets were exposed. More than two decades ago, his drug smuggler leader forced him to marry his daughter and together they had Ceci and thus Tiffany was a third party in the relationship. Tiffany forgives Yin Gor, and Ceci and Ka Ming eventually start dating. Then in a pivotal plot turn, Ceci's mom returns, and all hell breaks loose.

Ceci's mom had been suffering from mental illness for a few years, and basically goes ballistic when she discovers Yin Gor's infedelity. The estranged couple meet atop a building, and both fall. Ceci's mom dies, while Yin Gor forgets everything that happened. That is... until he remembers. He is temporarily traumatized when he remembers that he purposely let go of Ceci's mom, rendering him a murderer. Predictably, he hides this from the cops and their hypnosis specialists, Ceci, Ka Ming, and most importantly Tiffany. Yin Gor bribes and beats up a witness into fear, while Ceci starts suspecting her father after reading her mother's diary.

After Ceci and Ka Ming track down the witness, Yin Gor is sent to court. He turns the table around on the witness stand, accusing his daughter of perjury and secretly scheming to swallow everything her mother and grandfather left (which was shared between Yin Gor and Ceci). Ceci is heartbroken while Ka Ming is furious, and Yin Gor is found not guilty. And all along this little cat and mouse game, Tiffany (possibly the dumbest character in 2004's TVB) blindly believes her beloved Yin Gor. Until Yuk Lung Hin's reputation is sunk due to Yin Gor's court debacle, and his brother Pak Kit returns to 'help' the business.

In a desperate attempt to save the company, Yin Gor agrees to smuggle drugs with Kit. Of course, things are not so simple. To gain revenge against his traitor brother, Yin Gor cooperates with Shanghai authorities to capture Kit. Death by execution is the punishment for drug smugglers in Mainland China, a fact that is well known to Yin Gor who basically pushed his brother to death. He also doesn't inform Kit that he has a son by Ivy such that he can acquire Kit's estate, a fact discovered by Tiffany when cleaning Yin Gor's desk.

Tiffany then goes into hiding while leaving baby daughter Tung Tung with Ceci, but of course the now deranged Yin Gor tracks them down. Ceci ends up in a coma when trying to chase her dad and getting hit by a car. Yin Gor abducts Tung Tung and hides her from Tiffany, promising her return if Tiffany returns to his side. When he discovers that Tiffany has fallen out of love with him and realizes all his misdeeds and role in Ceci's coma, he commits suicide, leaving Tung Tung with Tiffany. Ka Ming refuses to postpone his wedding to Ceci, and still cleans her room daily hoping she will wake up.

Fast forward 6 years. Tiffany works with her father's jade business, and Ka Ming's jade company has become even more successful than Yuk Lung Hin. Ceci has passed away, and Ka Ming refuses to meet another.

Evaluation of Cast and Characters

Damian Lau as Leung Pak Yin
A predictably great performance as the good-gone-bad man. Though nowhere did he have the presence he had in "The Point of No Return", Damian Lau still delivers the best acting of this series. He is convincingly motivated as the morally upright and ambitious Yuk Lung Hin boss and wonderfully believable as the desperate, deranged, almost maniacal Yin Gor. Every facial expression and line delivered flawlessly, Damian Lau is definitely an actor whom you forget is actually acting. Like Chun Pui, Francis Ng, Sheren Tang, Kong Wah, he is an actor who becomes the character he is playing. Many can learn from this veteran. Even his acting within acting (as in the court scene) is brilliant. I also thought he had some creepy romantic chemistry with Flora Chan, which skeeved me out a little. But he looks too old, worn out, and even haggard in this series. [Funn - Leung Pak Yin is supposed to be 50 years old in the series]

So the question about his character, Leung Pak Yin: Good guy or bad guy? I would say neither. I would say selfish guy. Unbelievably selfish to the point of heartlessness. Sacrifices his good friend, leads his own brother to death for money, kidnaps his own daughter, causes the eventual death of his other daughter, never admitting guilt to his wrongdoings, etc. Of course in classic TVB style he is redeemed in the eyes of the audience when he repents and throws himself off a building. Or maybe he is psychotic, someone who can't distinguish right from wrong, at least for part of the series when he believes he is actually protecting Tiffany even if it means murder.

Flora Chan as Tiffany
Playing nearly 15 years younger than her actual age, Flora gives the worst performance of the series. She also needs a haircut and a fashion stylist. Note to Flora: Please stick to the strong career-woman type roles that define you as an actress. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Flora Chan is both unconvincing and boring in any other role. She comes off as both stupid and pathetic in these roles, and that's not just because of her character Tiffany. Flora also starred in some dinky little TVB series called "Triumph in the Skies", where she also showed that she just doesn't act well with these characters, they don't fit her. My favourite performance to date from Flora is still her Annie from "Healing Hands". She was protrayed as a chic professional and yet compassionate and romantic in her love for Henry, yet still opinionated and superindependent.. That is the Flora I like and also the Flora that is a good actress. She is not meant to be a tear-jerker, and especially not the kind in this series where she cries desperately. She is the ugliest crier in TVB, second only to perhaps Gigi Lai. I like the strong Flora, not the wimp waif dumb wife Flora. I will take Flora as the strong career-woman character one million times rather than the 'dumb blonde' character even once. With that said, her acting in this series is really, really bad, superimposed by my overwhelming hatred for her character's stupidity.

Kevin Cheng as Ka Ming
Smoking hot and the best performance I've seen from this actor, which is not saying much considering my opinion of his past performances leaving much to be desired. He was vapid in "Burning Flame II", comic but unengaging in "Slim Chances", and almost irrelevant in "The Point of No Return". Here he takes on the most likeable character of the series, a man with integrity, intelligence, and compassion, yet with a believable temper. Kevin still needs improvement in the dramatic scenes, he needs more, more, more! He needs to pay more attention and really put himself in the shoes of his character during these dramatic scenes. With that said, I felt he did a nice job as Ka Ming in general and made an adorable couple with Niki Chow.

Niki Chow as Ceci
I like her. She is vibrant but not overbearing, chipper but not annoyingly so, and cute without trying to be, even huggably cute despite her model-ish height. The only other time I've seen Niki is the TV version of "Feel 100%" where she played Cherry, where she was funny but not memorable. However, her Ceci is very cute, very fresh with lots of energy. I love her Ceci. And despite the fact that she is a spoiled brat at heart, Niki Chow made her a likeable character, second only to Ka Ming. She would do very well in romantic comedy roles, the expressions on her face whenever Ka Ming did something nice for her were absolutely hilarious yet very very real. However, she really needs to work on the dramatic scenes - I see her potential but like Kevin Cheng she needs to put herself in the shoes of her character. But she and Kevin Cheng are just too gosh-darn-cute in this series, I love them to bits as a couple.

Other Performances
Mary Hon was terrific as the mentally deranged wife to Yin Gor. Very scary, very intimidating, and the look in her eyes almost breathed creepiness. Great performance. Stephen Au-Yeung overdid the evil part a bit but in general was ok. Maggie Siu was also ok but I find her boring in here, and Lo Hoi Pang delivered charismatically in his minor role as Ka Ming's future mentor. Michael Tong was predictably dull, while Michelle Yip gave what I felt was her best performance to date, which says much because I've never thought Michelle could act, despite watching basically every series she's been in.

Other Comments (Spoilers!)
The theme song is catchy but I wish they took out the lyrics, it ruined the mood. The drawings of the jade jewelery were beautiful. Why did the writers kill off Ceci?! She and Ka Ming made such a wonderful couple to watch. I would rather have the writers kill off Tung Tung instead with Yin Gor, at least to render some kind of poetic justice for Tiffany's stupidity.


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