The Prince's Shadow


Reviewed by: kaysmile

August 13, 2005

Rating: three-point-five

*SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!*

Cast:
Adam Cheng: Ko Sing, advisor to the emperor without an official title.

Sheren Tang: So Sam (Sam Goo Leung, Lady Sam), the owner of Man Fa Lao, a high class brothel where the ladies do not sell their bodies, only their skills.

Marco Ngai: The emperor Qian Long. He is skilled in martial arts. He relies heavily on his "advisor", Ko Sing, to solve many of his problems. He also likes women (yeah, he's a pervert).

Tavia Yeung: Yue Yi. A previous servant in the palace. She is loyal and righteous. The king, Qian Long, saw her once and is mesmerized by her beauty.

Joyce Tang: The empress. She is cunning but her morals are intact. At first, we view her as a heartless woman, but as the series progresses, we see that she's not as bad as she seems.

Carlo Ng: Chow Yat Ting. A very high-ranking soldier with a prestigious title, but in fact, he is very timid. He is good friends with Ko Sing.

Cheng Chi Kwong: The head official of Yeung Chow, where Tavia later flees, and where much of this series take place. He is a cowardly official.

Plot Outline:

It is Qian Long's (Marco Ngai) reign. Thanks to his advisor, Ko Sing (Adam Cheng), the land is peaceful. He has many wives, but he is not satisfied. He isn't satisfied because he keeps on sleeping with the same women over and over again. The empress (Joyce Tang) arranges this because she does not want him to sleep with "unworthy" women. Unworthy women, meaning concubines that originated from the lower class. Every night she arranges with her eunuch servant to produce boards with names of women she judges "worthy" of sleeping with the emperor.

One night, Qian Long is sick and tired of sleeping with the same women over and over again. He orders Ko Sing to get him some new women to sleep with, i.e. the concubines he never gets to see. Ko Sing does this, but in the process of doing so, he has to sneak into the room where all the concubines are bathing (He covers his eyes though). There, a palace servant in charge of washing clothes (Tavia Yeung) sees him. She is about to scream when he tells her that if she screams, the reputation of the concubines would be ruined, since there
is a man watching them bathe. They may even be killed to save the king's face. She also realizes that he is a decent person, because if he isn't, he wouldn't be covering his eyes.

Ko Sing's plan is successful and the emperor is supposed to sleep with Seu Gwai Yun (Angela Tong). However, the empress finds out and messes up his plans. The king is even more angry. He gets drunk one night and tries to rape Yue Yi. She hits him on the head and he faints, but he realized that she was very pretty...

The empress discovered Qian Long's crush on Yue Yi, so she sends her away from the palace. The emperor orders Ko Sing to find her. Chow Yat Ting (Carlo Ng) accompanies him.

After lots of struggles, Yue Yi is bought by brothel owner So Sam (Sheren Tang). Ko Sing eventually becomes the owner of the brothel "Man Fa Lao". Yue Yi, So Sam, and Ko Sing are great friends, along with the other ladies of the brothel and Carlo Ng. However, their lives are disrupted once again when one night, Qian Long comes upon Man Fa Lao and discovers Yue Yi...

There are many subplots to The Prince's Shadow. Among those are:
- Seu Gwai Yun's affair
- The murder of Chow Yat Ting's cousin. Is it Yue Yi?
- So Sam's sad past.
- Yue Yi's visit with her grandpa and the evil rich boy Hung.
- Qian Long's true identity.

Comments:
I had high expectations for this series. When I saw the poster at my local tape store, I was excited because I think the entire cast are great actors/actresses. I was especially excited to see Sheren Tang after her spectacular performance in "War and Beauty". I also thought that this series' plot was very fresh. Maybe it was because of my high expectations, but I was a bit disappointed.

I think the entire cast, both main and supporting, did a great job, particularly these four:

Adam Cheng: He did a great job as the flirtatious, righteous, and intelligent Ko Sing. His calm way of talking and his ingenuity at solving the cases made me admire his character. Great performance by Adam!

Sheren Tang: She is such a versatile actress. I enjoyed her performance very much, from her hard exterior, to her caring, to the painful recollection of her past. This character is multi-layered, and Sheren did an excellent job.

Cheng Chi Kwong: In my opinion, he is an underappreciated actor. His character here is not absolutely necessary to this series, since he doesn't have much to do with the plot, but he provides much of the
comic relief. I found his portrayal of the cowardly official amazing. His expressions were absolutely hilarious, especially when he found out Marco was the king! His character reminds me a bit of the
Sir he played in "To Catch the Uncatchable". Overall, his performance was splendid.

Marco Ngai: Another under-appreciated actor. His lustful expressions while looking at beautiful women says it all. His smug expression when judging - and freeing - Sheren Tang was hilarious to see. I honestly think this guy has a lot of potential: he's done it all, from the caring husband in "Armed Reaction", to the evil and cunning Fook Hoa On in "Flying Fox of the Snowy Mountain (1999)", to the good-turned-evil triad member in "Riches and Stitches", and now...oh my goodness. He deserves some recognition. I cannot imagine anyone playing Qian Long in this series but him.

Although virtually every single cast member did a great job, this series bored me at some points, especially the beginning. I found the beginning pretty slow, but things picked up in the middle. There are parts that I still fast-forwarded through throughout the whole series. Some of the cases were plain boring and obvious, and the audience pretty much knew everything without guessing. It failed to captivate me, the audience, at certain points. The plot was interesting, but the writers failed to develop it properly to its full potential.

I give this series a 3.5/5, because of the superb performances by the cast, and its storyline.


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