The Legend of Speed


Reviewed by: Faith

October 29, 2004

Rating: four

Cast:
Lee Wei – Xiao Feng
Rainie Yang Cheng Lin – Juliet
Zhang Xiao Quan – Mars
Duncan – Du Bian Si
Chai Pei Lin – Qing Ting
Liu Liang Zhuo – Tai Ji
Bella – Chen Ming Zhen

Before reading, please be warned that there will be spoilers within this review. So proceed at your own risk!

The Legend of Speed (or “Ji Su Chuan Shuo” in Mandarin) is basically about car racing and the lives of two lovers who are forced to face off on the racing track. We are first introduced to Mars, one of the most popular race car drivers in the country, who won every race he joined. However, Mars harboured a secret motive beneath all these: the actual reason he became a racer was to gain revenge for his father. His father died in a car accident, which was believed to be caused by a legendary car racer at that time known as 911. After the accident, 911 disappeared from the racing world, but Mars, wanting to avenge his father’s death, became a racer and joined every race that 911 previously raced in. He wanted to beat 911’s records as a way of revenge and to become a superior racer compared to him.

His sister Juliet, a timid and media-phobic person by nature, was about to get married to Du Bian Si (Ah Si) on the same day. Although she knew that Ah Si (being successful in business and all) was the perfect man, she couldn’t help but have doubts about their marriage. After a few mess-ups, she dumped Ah Si at the altar. Then, she met Xiao Feng. Xiao Feng was an energetic young chap who had a strong passion for car racing despite his father’s disapproval. At first, Juliet disliked Xiao Feng but as fate would have it, they fell for each other eventually. Juliet urged Xiao Feng to pursue his dreams of being a car racer against his father’s wishes and after many obstacles, Xiao Feng joined Mars’ team, M-Sport.

Upon knowing Xiao Feng and Juliet’s relationship, Qing Ting – Xiao Feng’s childhood friend who had feelings for him – was devastated. Ah Si, on the other hand, wanted revenge on both Juliet and Xiao Feng for their betrayal. Tragedy occurs when Ah Si was injured in a race with Mars and Xiao Feng and was paralysed.

The drama unfolds when Mars discovered that Tai Ji, Xiao Feng’s father, was actually 911. Thus, he challenged Tai Ji to compete against him in the European Championships, but Xiao Feng offered to race on behalf of his father. Juliet and Xiao Feng’s relationship was also affected. Unable to cope with all the hatred between the two families, she decided to follow Ah Si back to Japan but he refused to bring her along, knowing that she still loved Xiao Feng.

Finally, at the European Championships, everyone was geared up for battle. During the race, it was revealed that Ah Guo (Qing Ting’s father, who also died in the accident) was actually the person who had caused the accident, not Tai Ji. Upon hearing the truth, Mars was distracted and crashed into the barriers. The impact of the crash was so great that he died. His last wish was for Juliet to finish the race for him. Juliet decided that only by racing with Xiao Feng, the hatred between the two families would truly be settled. Thus, she vowed to battle it out with Xiao Feng.


Characters

Lee Wei as Xiao Feng
Overall, I don’t think Lee Wei did a very good job in his role. His expressions were quite limited and most of the time he had this goofy smile on, which became quite boring, honestly. At the beginning of the show, I thought he had quite a good chemistry with Rainie Yang, but towards the end it began to wear off a little, maybe because they were constantly at loggerheads. He fared better as the young kid who loved car racing but was not allowed by his father to touch cars. His confrontations with Tai Ji ended up with him kneeling for forgiveness (twice!) and I thought the father-son bond was believable. My favourite scene with him in it was the part where he and Mars were racing each other at the beach and fooling about. The crack by the manager after that was really funny.

Rainie Yang Cheng Lin as Juliet
Rainie looked very pretty in the whole series with her innocent, puppy-dog eyes. Although her acting was average, I couldn't help but like her. She was a very normal girl to me. When she met with pressure before her wedding and before her race with Xiao Feng, she succumbed to stress very easily. She was also in a lot of distress after knowing that Tai Ji caused the death of her father. She didn’t know whether to love or hate Xiao Feng. Her Romeo-and-Juliet-like love story with Xiao Feng was rather interesting, but I disliked her for being so uncertain about her feelings for both Xiao Feng and Ah Si.

Zhang Xiao Quan as Mars
If I had to choose the best actor/character in the entire series, Zhang Xiao Quan/Mars would win hands down. Undoubtedly, his portrayal of the cool, vengeful racer added a lot of colour to the series. That intense, piercing stare must have made many hearts melt. More importantly, Mars was also a tender, caring brother to Juliet. He was always there to lend support to her and guide her onto the right path. He didn’t want Juliet to be involved in all the hatred and hoped that she would lead a happy life. His constant thirst for revenge turned him into a rather violent, angry man in the end, but I pitied rather than disliked him. His relationship with Qing Ting was underdeveloped and that was a waste, for I think Mars deserved some happiness despite his tragic death.

Duncan as Du Bian Si
As the main antagonist in the show, I think Duncan did quite well in his role. That crazed glint in his eye definitely helped. He carried his character well throughout the series and was thankfully consistent. I didn’t feel much pity for him even though he was paralysed due to the collision with Xiao Feng, but I felt for him more when Juliet kept dumping him for Xiao Feng.

Chai Pei Lin – Qing Ting
Qing Ting started off as Xiao Feng’s girlfriend (sort of) and after Xiao Feng met Juliet, she was heartbroken. Once, when she ran away from home, she met Mars, who kindly helped her find a place to stay and a job. Soon, his feelings for her were evident but she had yet to get over Xiao Feng. I would have loved to see them get together earlier. Anyway, I can’t blame Pei Lin for being below-average in this show because her character was a little too two-dimensional. Apart from crying in almost every scene and contributing to the overall tear bank of the series, she didn’t really do much, honestly.

Favourite Moments/Scenes

1) Every scene involving racing. I just love car racing, and I must admit the racing scenes were quite well shot. The cars were just beautiful, my favourite being Mars’ Porsche Boxster.

2) Xiao Feng and Mars racing and fooling around with each other at the beach. The scene reminded me of Bollywood movies and I was laughing so hard when the manager asked Juliet whether she or Mars was Xiao Feng’s lover.

3) Juliet and Xiao Feng fighting over the J&W keychain. When I saw the two of them squabble like that, I honestly thought they were quite compatible.

4) Mars and Xiao Feng battling each other on wheelchairs. It was very creative of the scriptwriters to cook up something like that. The part when Juliet walked up to them and scolded them was quite funny too. Suddenly she became like a granny and the two of them like little kids!

5) Any scene with Mars in it.

Disgruntled Ramblings

1) The ending. I was a little baffled by the ending, not because of Mars’ death, but because it just felt incomplete to see Xiao Feng and Juliet racing off just like that. Okay, perhaps the result of the race didn’t really matter, but I’m sure a lot of people will be wondering if they actually got together. (Further explanation at the end of review.)

2) Mars’ death. Why? I asked myself that a few million times and I’m sure many others like me would want to run down the scriptwriter and question him/her, too. After thinking for a long time, I realised that there wouldn’t really be a happy ending even if Mars didn’t die. See, the real culprit was Qing Ting’s father. So that meant 20 years of his hatred was directed at the wrong person. How would he react under such circumstances? I suppose the scriptwriters just killed him off (pardon the crudeness) so that they wouldn’t have to deal with all the turmoil Mars would have had to go through had he survived.

3) Tai Ji covering up for Qing Ting’s father. Honestly, he should have just told the truth back then and avoided all the havoc. I understand that he wanted to protect Qing Ting, but would Mars have sought revenge towards Qing Ting, even if he didn’t know her then? I don’t think so. He would’ve known that she was innocent because she was only born after the accident and the real culprit was already dead, so there was no point anyway. Qing Ting probably would feel guilty too, but technically she was not the one who drove the car so it was none of her business. Poor Tai Ji, he could’ve avoided all those troubles if only he’d been more sensible.

4) Xiao Feng’s supposed talent. Okay, so his father was a legendary racer. But that doesn’t mean that Xiao Feng could do the exact same dangerous manoeuvre that Tai Ji did on the same race track. It was an utterly irrational coincidence, if you ask me. I wonder how many times Xiao Feng drove illegally before he met Zero? How could he get used to new cars so quickly and drive so well? I know it’s a way of saying that he was extremely talented, but that was just a little too hard to believe. Sorry, another bomb by the scriptwriters.

Final Say

All in all, I would say that The Legend Of Speed was rather good because of the strong central theme and Zhang Xiao Quan’s great performance. The other actors did a good job too and the overall production was well done. The race scenes were particularly commendable, because it must have taken a really long time to shoot everything in position and all. If you are still wondering about the ending, do not worry, for there will be a Part II to the series. However, the latest news is that Rainie Yang will not rejoin the cast due to some complications with her salary. So I don’t think there will be more development between Xiao Feng and Juliet in the next part. But I hope they’ll add in another worthy actor/character to replace Mars. I would look forward to Part II (despite some misgivings) because of well, the cars.


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