Lethal Weapons of Love and Passion


Reviewed by: koolkat

March 28, 2009

Rating: two-point-five

The Plot

The show is set in the start of the Ming Dynasty after Chu Yuen Cheung has overthrown the Yuan Dynasty. Chu is always worried that the Mongolians will rise up and overthrow his empire so he has the Mongolian children killed in order to eliminate the descendant of Kublai Khan. The Mongolian prince, Fung Hang Lit (Raymond Lam), survives the attempt as he's saved by a kind swordsman, Long Fan Wan (David Chiang). Fung grows up and along the way loses his memory of his royal status. Pong Pan (Derek Kwok), another Mongolian, wants to revive Fung's memory and bring him into their cause, to overthrow the Ming Dynasty, because the Mongolians are suffering under the new emperor. He sacrifices the woman he loves, Fan Bing Wan (Sonija Kwok) to seduce and abandon Fung to shock him into remembering his past.

When the Mongolians under Pong Pan start to cause trouble and a mysterious martial artist appears to retrieve Kublai Khan's spear and bones from the emperor, suspicions are aroused that the Mongolians are planning a rebellion centered around the long-lost prince.

Mung Yiu (Charmaine Sheh) is in love with Fung and she helps him when he's abandoned by Bing Wan, who belongs to the same sect as her. Bing Wan has crossed over to the Mongolians and when Fung Hang Lit regains his memory, he also hopes he can persuade Mung Yiu to accept his cause to reunite the Chinese and the Mongolians.

Fung Hang Lit also befriends Hon Pak (Bosco Wong), a kind-hearted but simple fellow. Hon Pak initially doesn't know any martial arts but he accidentally stumbles over a special weapon which is being fought over by the Chinese and the Mongolians, called the Rain Ceasing Sword. Whoever opens the sword can find and learn the martial arts embedded inside. With the sword, Hon Pak comes to the attention of Prince Yin, the son of the emperor, a noble and strong prince who may be in line for the throne. The prince's competitor is the emperor's grandson, who is weak and ineffective.

Once he's recovered his memory, Fung Hang Lit tries to scheme to take over the empire by befriending the emperor's grandson. His friendship with the others who surround the emperor, Prince Yin, Long Fan Wan, General Hui and Hon Pak, enable him to have knowledge of how to manipulate events to suit his purpose. Eventually his aims and those of his friends diverge as they try to protect the emperor and both parties have to confront each other.

Comments:

There's really not much to like about this show.

The plot is rather tortured and pointless, not to mention overlong at 40 episodes. Keep the remote control handy!
Many of the scenes were unbearable, terribly soppy and over-indulgent. It was hard to believe that all the things Pong Pan did to Fung Hang Lit would make him remember his past and take up arms against the Ming. How does getting duped by a woman make a man remember his past? The pace is incredibly slow, with many boring scenes. There is also no suspense since it's a foregone conclusion that the Mongols don't regain their empire. But in between, there wasn't much to sustain the plot either, since there was little tension and conflict. It was only filled with lame plotting and the Mongolians' asinine schemes to bring the royal grandson to the throne.

The attempts to inject humour were also at odds with the serious nature of the show. Most of the time the so-called humourous scenes weren't funny at all, merely tedious.

The acting was mediocre. For starters, Raymond Lam, one of the most promising young actors in TVB, was practically sleepwalking through the show. He didn't seem to show any reaction most of the time, there were only flashes of emotion. I guess one can't really blame him. Fung Hang Lit is a strange character. On one hand he's portrayed as upright and honourable and on the other hand, he's lying to his friends and his actions show he's rather devious. On top of that, he doesn't seem to feel any conflict and the character shows no change or development. And he really has no experience in politics or planning, yet he's able to match wits with Prince Yin, who's a noted military strategist and political administrator.

Derek Kwok, who is also usually reliable, was saddled with a silly goatee. And also looked deadpan most of the time as Pong Pan. The two main actresses, Charmaine Sheh and Sonija Kwok, tried their best, but with such lacklustre love interests, it was a losing battle. There also wasn't much chemistry among the two couples.
Bosco and Sharon Chan, as General Hui's daughter, Yeh Yuet, fared slightly better, only because both were equally childish and silly. Bosco was acceptable as the naive and simple-minded guy but it was a stretch to his acting skills when he had to transition to a sober and tough general. It was also hard to believe that Yeh Yuet would choose Hon Pak over Prince Yin when the prince is the epitome of a noble, brave and clever hero. Evergreen Mak was a revelation as the prince. I've seen him mostly as the bumbling sidekick or the henpecked husband. But he acted the part of the dashing, if rather portly, prince very well.

Sharon's costume was also an eyesore. Everybody had lovely costumes but poor Sharon was landed with looking like she got caught by a fishing net.

There were a lot of unnecessary scenes, and unnecessary characters, especially Fan Leung Kik, played by Power Chan. I kept on expecting him to be revealed as an underhanded character out to befriend the rest only to steal the sword's hidden martial arts. But he wasn't even that. He seemed to just hang around free-loading, with no purpose. And his romance with Wan Ching, played by Mimi Lo, was totally gratuitous.

Ok, after soundly denouncing the show, what can I say to redeem it. Well, the pace does pick up after maybe episode 20. There was beautiful scenery to while away the unnecessary scenes. And the special effects during the martial arts scenes were surprisingly well-done. And it does have a happy ending. So very often, TVB has tried to shock by allowing a show to end badly, i.e. the hero dies. But this is definitely only for die hard fans of Raymond Lam or Bosco Wong or anyone else in the show.


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