Heir to the Throne Is


Reviewed by: sukting

September 02, 2003

Rating: two-point-five

20 episodes

Chinese title: 真命天子

Foreword
I am sorry for another short review because of my failing memory. It is hard to see Tak Wah as a cheeky man now and Lam Kit Ying seldom acts nowadays. So if you are a fan of them, don’t miss this serial. This is the second time that he worked with Lam Kit Ying after ‘Bo Chi Lam’.

Introduction

Empress Lu is in control of the Han dynasty. She joins forces with the evil spirits to let her son become the emperor. A loyal subject, Zhang Liang, then combines with other loyal groups to seek help. They have the aid of two deities, Elder Huang Shi and Fairy He Hua, to search for Emperor Wen to ascend the throne.

Emperor Wen has a good friend, Guan Zhong Yuan, who is a constable. Guan Zhong Yuan falls for He Hua. He is dragged unexpectedly in the court conflict. He later tries learning skills from He Hua and improves under He Hua's tutelage. But deities aren’t supposed to fall in love. Will they be together in the end?


 

Introduction on characters

1. Guan Zhong Yuan – Lau Tak Wah
He is given the name because of his ambitious mother. In Chinese, it means "to control the Central Plains". But unfortunately, this son is only capable of being a small constable and not a big official. His mother doesn’t give up. Zhong Yuan is a cheeky, arrogant and boastful man. Yet he is kind at heart. Although his best friend is dull-witted, Zhong Yuan still protects him faithfully.

To do a better job, he wants to learn magical powers. He finds that Elder Huang Shi has not improved his skills even though he has been learning under He Hua for a long time, so Zhong Yuan decides to create a chance for himself! He pretends to be in love in He Hua and creates opportunities to show that they are really a pair. He finds an exact jade piece of the one she has and often appears at the places she frequents. He pretends that they are a match made in Heaven.

His plot is exposed but after Zhang Liang intercedes, He Hua continues to guide him along. Zhong Yuan later finds himself attracted to her and both fall for each other in the end. But his mother’s death turns him into a sad person. He is devastated and from then on, he is only interested in seeking revenge. After knowing that Jing Xue is Empress Lu’s (his enemy) daughter, he still does not hate her. He braves all dangers to help his friend to the throne.

The deities get to know about his relationship with He Hua and forbid them to see each other. They still meet up secretly. They brave through all obstacles in order to be together. How touching and romantic this is!

Please do not expect to see a lavish wardrobe for Tak Wah – you will be disappointed. He is dressed like a common peasant or a constable, thus his attire can be quite plain. Tak Wah’s acting is natural, but offers no surprises. His character development is similar to that of his role as Yeung Gor in ROCH.

2. Wen Tian Fu/Emperor Wen- Liu Kai Chi
Who can believe that that this dull-witted man is the emperor? He is actually a very simple man who has no ambition, and all the decisions are made by his mother. His mother actually brought him out of the palace to avoid being harmed by Empress Lu. Tian Fu falls for Qing Lian and it takes him a long time to make her like him because he is not as outstanding as Zhong Yuan. In fact, he panics after knowing his real identity. However, with his friend’s help, he becomes a successful ruler. Liu’s acting is quite natural but I still think that he really does not look like an emperor.

3. Zhang Liang – Tse Hin
He is a righteous man but has no say in court affairs because Empress Lu is in power. He is a tactful person and goes around seeking help. He wins people's respect and that is why Emperor Wen gives him a high post when he is in power. Tse's acting is only satisfactory in the role.

4. Elder Huang Shi – Lau Dan
You will laugh at this man’s antics. He only becomes a deity at such an old age and has to learn magical powers from a young deity like He Hua. No wonder the two young men look down on him. He takes a few months to learn how to turn a stone into gold while Zhong Yuan is able to master it in a day. However, Huang Shi is still a helpful friend to the two young men and creates humour in the serial with his stupidity.

5. Pan Shi Qi – Kam Kok Wai/Lee Kok Lam
The evil deity (Lee) escapes from Heaven and hides in Pan’s body (Kam). So the two are combined into one. It makes no difference as Pan is evil anyway. He Hua’s task is to take him back to Heaven to receive his punishment. This man is crafty and harms the innocent. He Hua has to enlist Huang Shi and Zhong Yuan’s help to subdue him in the end.

I find Kam’s acting better than Lee. He is so good – no wonder he appears in more scenes that Lee. At first Kam enjoys his new-found powers when Lee’s spirit is in his body. But he is very alarmed when he finds that Lee has already possessed his soul. He becomes helpless and many will pity him when his whole soul is being absorbed. Pan is no longer himself in the end.

6. Cheng Chen Zhang – Kwan Hoi San

He is given the task of taking care of Empress Lu’s illegitimate daughter, but he treats her as his own. He doesn’t want to tell her the truth even though Empress Lu forces him to. The bond between them is so strong that Jing Xue doesn’t even wish to acknowledge Empress Lu even after she realises the truth. Kwan does well as the doting father. He is as upset as Empress Lu over Jing Xue's death.

7. He Hua – Lam Kit Ying
At first, Huang Shi is angered to know that he has such a young master. But he is soon won over because her powers impress him. But she is so naïve and innocent. She is like Siu Lung Lui – besides practicing skills, she knows nothing else. She is deceived by Huang Shi and Zhong Yuan. You will laugh at the sleepless nights she has when she thinks that she is really Zhong Yuan’s lover in her previous life. She becomes annoyed when she finds out the truth.

Being a forgiving person, she lets them off and trains them. However, she finds herself breaking the rule to fall in love with a mortal. Once, in order to save Tian Fu from Pan, she loses a major part of her powers. However, she is delighted as this makes her a normal person and she can now be with Zhong Yuan.

Many have known Kit Ying to be a very versatile actress. She is also one of my favourite actresses. She never disappoints anyone in any of her serials. I am very impressed with her performance. Quiet, cute, adorable and naïve – she looks so pretty in here in a blue dress with pink lotus flowers as hair accessories!

It is said that her boyfriend died in the midst of her filming this serial, but she still managed to deliver a strong performance. She is really professional as she also turned up on the promotion day despite her grief. However, her fiery temper and impulsive nature offended many producers and her popularity went downhill. This is a pity because her acting is comparable with Mai Shuet’s standards.

8. Qing Lian – Chow Hoi Mei
She is Zhang Liang’s maid but Zhang Liang regards her as his daughter. That is why she doesn’t behave like other timid maids. She has a straightforward, direct personality that Zhong Yuan can’t accept. You will laugh at her desperate attempts to get Zhong Yuan to like her.

She wants to find out what kind of a person He Hua is, so that she can attract Zhong Yuan. So she persuades He Hua to teach her magical powers and accept her as a sworn sister. She finds He Hua a nice person and quietly gives up the idea of getting Zhong Yuan. She also learns not to judge a man from his looks. Being a confident person, she manages to build trust and also willpower in Emperor Wen. No wonder he makes her his only wife and takes no concubines. As a newcomer, Chow's acting is quite okay.

9. Cheng Jing Xue – Bao Chui Mei
Those dying to know what the singer of ‘The Foundation’ theme songs looks like must watch this serial as she makes her appearance here. She looks very sweet and is petite like Yung Mei Ling. Her character is a pathetic one. She is happy with her foster family, but she is forced to stay with Empress Lu. She is unable to accept the Empress at first because of her evil ways, but later gives in as she realizes that the Empress' love for her is genuine.

However, upon knowing that the Empress tends to harm Zhong Yuan, Jing Xue decides to work as Zhong Yuan’s spy. She even sacrifices her life to save him despite knowing that he doesn’t love her.

Bao acts well despite only appearing for a few episodes. She looks so fragile and helpless in so many scenes. Many will feel sorry for her sad ending.

10. Madam Guan – Lee Heung Kum
She dies because of her greed for power. She hears that Empress Lu is looking for the late Emperor’s heir. Knowing that Emperor Wen has no interest, she decides to fake her identity to make Zhong Yuan rich. But alas, she is killed by Pan for the mistaken identity. Serves her right for harbouring evil thoughts. Lee is quite impressive as a greedy and selfish woman.

11. Madam Wen – Ha Ping

She has never been happy as Concubine Wen. After she and Empress Lu gave birth to sons on the same day, she quietly left the palace with Tian Fu as she feared for their lives. The years that they lived in the countryside were the happiest of her life. That is why she opposes returning to the palace. But the change of events leaves her with no choice and she has to give in. Ha Ping is a veteran actress and maintains her standard.

12. Empress Lu – Ou Yeung Pui Shan
She is ruthless as she wants her son to be the only heir to the throne. Emperor Wen is the first-born son and the late Emperor died a miserable death because he missed his son too much. Although Tian Fu has been out of sight for many years, Empress Lu doesn’t feel secure. She sends Pan to seek Tian Fu and his mother out and kill them. Only the stupid Madam Guan thinks that Empress Lu is a kind soul, so she loses her life.

Later, Empress Lu’s son ascends the throne but due to an illness, he dies shortly after. Before his death, he tells Empress Lu to let Wen take his place. Empress Lu feels lonely despite having all the power. So she invites Jing Xue to stay with her. She lies to Jing Xue that she is her aunt. But she can’t help showering all her love on Jing Xue and commands her servants to give Jing Xue the respect normally accorded to a princess. That is why Jing Xue grows suspicious and she has to reveal the truth.

Just then, the Empress discovers that her own daughter has betrayed her. However, it is too late for her to repent when Pan poisons her and Jing Xue is killed. What a tragic ending. This actress also gives her best too. Actually I find her a fine choice to act as Empress Lu as she delivered a strong performance.

Favourite character
He Hua – she is very sweet, pretty and self-sacrificial. It is very difficult to find such a perfect maiden.

Most hated character
Madam Guan – her greed not only causes her own death but also Zhong Yuan’s change from a jovial young man to become a serious and solemn man intent on revenge.

Song
The theme song ’Making Beautiful Dreams’ (????) is sung by Kenny Bee – Chung Zhan Tou. It is a very fast-paced song. I have no idea what the title of the sub-theme song is, but it is a very sad song sung by Bao Chui Mei. She displays her versatility in both her acting and singing.

Conclusion

This serial can be very cheesy when it comes to using special effects. They look very unreal to me. Luckily, they are reduced to a minimum. But if you can overlook this fact, this serial is still all right.

The plot can be draggy at times when Zhang Liang discusses his plans to overthrow Empress Lu. The kinship scenes between Empress Lu and Jing Xue can also be shortened or reduced. Although they are touching, it is quite unnecessary as many will be more interested to know how Jing Xue tries to work as Zhong Yuan’s spy instead.

The cast may not really impress you. Actually I expected more from them because many of them are already experienced actors and actresses. The right people are chosen for the right roles. But somehow, I can’t help feeling disappointed. The serial simply lacks punch because it has a poor plot and most scenes are focused on the characters talking and creating jokes. It seems that the older artistes are given more exposure. Most of the artistes’ costumes are also too simple.

Tak Wah and Kit Ying are the main attractions of the serial. The producer has made a correct choice in casting them. If both of them were not in here, there will be no pull factor. Chow is raw in her acting as she has just started her career at this point in time. Liu Kai Chi lacks the charisma for a leading role (contrast this with Liu Wai Hung) despite some good acting. It is not easy to see Tak Wah, Kit Ying and Hoi Mei acting in the same serial again. So, it is still worth watching if you wish to find out how they looked when they were younger.

Ratings :

On acting : * *1/2 (Scale of 5)

On story : * *1/2 (Scale of 5)


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