Asian Heroes


Reviewed by: sukting

May 24, 2004

Rating: three

How long
15 episodes

Foreword
We have seen To Dai Yu as a doctor in Healing Hearts. But what about Wong Yat Wah, Chow Hoi Mei and Lee Chi Hung? Many might be curious to find out. This serial is collaboration between ATV and a Christian organization. It shows how doctors volunteer to fight SARS by setting up the dirty team to clear the mess. Can they succeed in the end?

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Xie Qi Yun – Chow Hoi Mei
She is Jin Yao’s cousin. She lost her colleague-and-husband-to-be to cancer. However, she still picks herself from grief and returns to work. She is a medical officer with the pediatrics unit but she offers to transfer to A & E even without drawing lots. She helps in the ER and later also helps in the camp where Amoy Garden residents are supposed to go for their quarantine.

She is okay all along till she gets SARS back in hospital from De Jian. The way she looks at the x-rays calmly to know about it can be very saddening. All are upset when they can do nothing to save her. Before her death, she tapes everything down to remind others the danger of the virus. After her death, Jin Yao notifies the world about her selfless act.

Xie Qi Yun is based on the true story of Dr Cheng who died. Hoi Mei’s beauty has hindered her acting but I find her acceptable. She uses very little make-up and tries to look as simple as possible. Some might find it a waste of her looks to hide behind the masks.

2. Yang Mei Xi – Leung Siu Bing
She is a magazine reporter who senses something amiss when the authorities try to cover the truth. She tries to seek the truth out and makes sure the public raises the awareness. Her main interest to dig out the latest news. But she can be selfish at times. She tries to sneak off when she is at Amoy gardens and all residents are ordered to go to the quarantine camp for 10 days. But she changes for the better when she gets along with the Amoy garden residents. She writes a book on the ordeal and distributes it to the hospital staff.

Siu Bing is successful as the nosy reporter but this character can be very irritating to dig news.

3. Gan Jin Yao – Wong Yat Wah
He is the head of medicine and pharmacy unit. He is married with a daughter. When SARS appears, he notices that the dead professor’s lungs are completely black and he alerts Director Zhuang. Both report the case to the top but are told to cover up. Although they are allowed to transfer normal patients to other hospitals, they are not allowed to close A & E.

Jin Yao detects something amiss when many of his colleagues are having the same symptoms. Thus he gets his friend, Guo Dong’s help to bring the virus to the laboratory for tests. When Wei Bang is in a critical condition, he tries to revive him personally and says encouraging words to him to spur him on. Normally he is confident of curing patients but this is the first time he is clueless on how to save after looking at the chest x-rays which shows tissue-dead lungs. Qi Yun has to console him that patients are contended to see his warm smiles.

He stays in the hospital to tend to the patients. His family misses him and they can only watch him from outside the hospital premises. It is very touching to see them waving at each other. Mei Xi is very touched and records the whole thing down with her DV.

Jin Yao suddenly develops a fever. He quickly does a quick check on himself and is relieved that his lungs are clear and his temperature becomes normal the next day. Angry with the health minister for not taking the Amoy Garden matter seriously, this mild tempered man loses his temper and scolds him over the phone. Jin Yao is frustrated and worried when the residents from Amoy garden are admitted into the hospital.

When they are okay, he is relieved but alarmed when Qi Yun is dying. He loses sleep when she shows no reaction to whatever drugs he uses on her. The others advise him to cool off because they find him giving himself too much pressure. He confesses that he is not a weak man who weeps easily but this ordeal makes him sob many times every time he loses a patient.

This is the first time that I have seen Yat Wah as a doctor. He is okay but like SC, I also find him like lecturing others in many scenes/serials. It is becoming a habit. I wonder if he notices this.

4. Zeng Wei Bang – To Dai Yu
He is the head of ENT (ear, nose throat) unit and is a playboy (I know this role will remind you of Henry.) I really laugh at the part where Jin Yao agrees to introduce a woman to him. He dresses smartly but is dismayed when the person who holds his hand is Jin Yao’s little daughter! Chen can’t help teasing him – he should try to please his father-in-law, Jin Yao! Later, he suspects that Judy’s son is also his son when the boy is hospitalized. Although Judy denies, he knows that she lies because he does a DNA test.

He has tried to look for Judy but her parents refuse to tell him her whereabouts. He desires to be a good father but unfortunately, he has no chance to do it. Wei Bang saves a SARS patient without wearing a mask and is infected with the deadly virus. The patient dies later. He feels useless because he only starts working in the dirty team for a few days and this happens. He feels worse when he also spreads the virus to a houseman and also his priest.

Jin Yao sees that he is down and gets him a car model to fix for his son. Wei Bang has hoped to do his son proud by volunteering his services to build up a clean image. He is so dejected when Judy still doesn’t accept him. He falls critically ill so he has to be admitted into the intensive unit. So weak that he had to go through a blood transfusion because of a low blood count. In his dreams, he recalls his wild past on how he has hurt Judy by going to the pubs with different girlfriends.

He has a tough battle with the virus. He has thought of giving up but whenever Jin Yao gives him a pat on his forehead or shoulder, his fighting spirit returns. He has wanted to avoid him – in his dream, Jin Yao touches him with his bare hands – how can he risk his life? But Jin Yao laughs it off as he is always with his mask and gloves on. All are glad and encouraged when he wins the battle and is discharged. They urge him to visit his son when he is out after self-quarantine for 10 days.

They reconcile but he is at first reminded of this nightmare when he returns to work on his first day to treat a patient. He has to control his fear to do the operation. Luckily he overcomes it.

At least, Dai Yu is a more suitable doctor in here than in ‘Healing Hearts’. Dai Yu’s acting is as formidable as always but I feel that he is just reprising his role in ‘File of Justice’.

5. Tian Guo Dong – Lee Chi Hung
He is the director of the microbiology laboratory unit belonging to Jin Yao’s rival hospital. However, both doctors are past caring of the competition that both hospitals are doing and wish the best for mankind. Although he is also a doctor, he is more involved in the research of germs and viruses. Although he belongs to another hospital, he still agrees to help Jin Yao as he believes in helping Hong Kong patients as a whole. Jia Wei has thought him to be money-minded to apply for special rights for his research.

Guo Dong isn’t doing it for money for he hopes the money he gets will be channeled into the research funds. He finds the authorities too slow to react to danger and wishes to improve on that. He is generous to pass his research founding to Jin Yao to help him in treating the patients.

6. Chen Yue Sheng - Lam Jou Fai
He is a young doctor who just joins the hospital’s cardiology unit. Although his father is also a retired doctor, he has no airs. Never does he expects him to land on the hospital bed with Wei Bang. Worried over his father who often comes into contact with him despite working part time in China, he quickly tells him to quarantine himself for 10 days. He tries his best to cheer Wei Bang to reduce his guilt in passing the virus to a houseman. The houseman is supposed to understudy from Wei Bang but both get the virus at the same time from the same patient.

He is worried when his third uncle contracts SARS when he returns from China. He calls his father but he receives no news. He gets very anxious and the others have to calm him. At first, Jin Yao wants to insert the tube into his throat to help him breathe better but he declines as he wants to battle it on his own. We cheer for him when he wins the battle and can be discharged on the same day as Wei Bang. In fact, both can be so anxious to return to Dirty team the next day and have to be reminded of their quarantine period.

He recovers but he is worried when his ageing father gets SARS instead. He is relieved when he recovers. However, Qi Yun’s condition saddens him but despite his sorrow, he notices that Jin Yao is sinking into despair and quickly gets a priest to talk to him.

7. Zhou Zheng Jie - Chan Kar Fai
He is the head staff nurse and is very dedicated to his job. He is very patient with the unreasonable patients. Knowing that a pregnant nurse is afraid of the deadly virus in A & E, he transfers her out to other clinics. Still, he reminds others who have the same fear to have confidence in themselves and still smile to their patients. He knows that De Jian is hard to please but he tries his best to take care of him.

He contracts the virus and dies although Qi Yun and others give him encouragement. They are shattered when he leaves them as they know that he is a strong man. This character is actually a real life character. I watch with a heavy heart when they reprise the real scene of his funeral. His coffin is covered with Hong Kong’s flag and is buried in the national ceremony as a recognition of his contribution.

8. Judy – singer Lee Wai Mun (she sings the themesong of ‘A loving spirit’ and acts as a singer patient who gets nose cancer in ‘Healing Hands’)
She loves Wei Bang but he hurts her severely by not taking relationships seriously. In a rage, she disappears when she is pregnant with his child. She refuses to forgive him as she is already used to be a single parent. Upon seeing Wei Bang on television talking to reporters on his battle with SARS, she finally tells her son the truth. He can call him father if he wishes. She finally allows them to be together.

9. Director Zhuang – Leung Hon Wai (he is the blind singer in ‘Princess Chang Ping’)
He is experienced but he is afraid of trouble. He has wanted to cover up like the authorities on the SARS outbreak but Jin Yao manages to change his mind.

10. Chen Qing Wei – Cheung Siu Fai
He doesn’t appear much. He is also a dedicated doctor and is Qi Yun’s husband. But he neglects his health and it is too late for him to seek treatment for cancer. He is short lived and many are upset over his death. But he is a nice man so Qi Yun still can’t forget him 2 years after his death.

11. Zhang Jia Wei – Cheung Kin Ting
He is a specialist from WHO. He is strict in the findings and questions Guo Dong’s motive when he applies for exclusive rights for his research. To him, it is not an invention but only a discovery since SARS is also noticed in other countries. He thinks that he is out to make money and reprimands him. He regrets his remarks when Guo Dong explains himself. He also jumps to conclusions easily.

That is why his sharp and insensitive remarks bring him nowhere as a doctor and he can only work as a consultant. Amoy Garden residents feel insecure when he cites their selfish act for not keeping their living environment clean. He likes Qi Yun and actually tries to persuade her to go to America with him so that he can take care of her. That is why he gets hysterical upon knowing that she is dying. He begs her hard not to join Jia Wei as he is not losing out to him. He even offers an old remedy to save her. The others have to console him and to accept the harsh reality of failure.

12. He Wu Xing – Leung Kar Yan
Mei Xi learns martial arts from him. He is also an experienced acupuncture expert. He is also in bad ties with Dong, Mei Xi’s boyfriend and colleague.

13. Fang Jie – Tse Lai Sum
Mei Xi’s mother who is a beautician. She is interested in Wu Xing after doing community service work with him.

14. Huang De Jian
I wonder where they get this extra, but he is terrific as the pain in the neck. He doesn’t trust the medical officers. So he always wants to make fun of them. He lodges complains, disturbs other patients and also refuses to wear the mask when asked too. In the end, he is the main virus spreader that causes so much trouble to the rest – even death. However, we don’t blame him as he has an unpleasant encounter with an irresponsible doctor who causes his father’s death.

The staff gets worried when all have discharged except him. But upon seeing how the staff tolerates him and still takes good care of him, he changes his impression. He feels guilty for causing Qi Yun’s and Zheng Jie’s deaths.

15. He Xue Dong
He is a cameraman who works in the same company with Mei Xi. He is also her boyfriend. He hates his father for leaving his mother when she is dying. But he doesn’t know that his father isn’t informed of her illness. Later, they manage to patch up with Mei Xi’s help.

Most favourite character
Jin Yao for being caring and dedicated to his job.

Most hated character
De Jian for being so irritating to make the staff’s life so difficult.

Interesting facts

This serial is to commemorate the medical officers. They are considered as Asian heroes as they risked their lives to save others. Some died on the line of duty while those who were infected quickly returned to work once they recovered. I truly admire their professionalism.

We know that Leung Siu Bing and Chan Kar Fai is a married couple in real life. So it is a delight to all to see both together in the same serial although they are not a couple here.

All except the abovementioned artistes are non-Christians. However, they take part in this production as it dedicates to the staff who sacrificed themselves in saving lives during the SARS period in 2003.

Singapore also made a production, ‘Wu Yan De Ai’ starring Fan Wen Fang, Zheng Bin Hui and Li Ming Shun. Coincidentally, Li Ming Shun also acted as Fan’s dead fiancé in this serial. Did the producer get the idea from the late Dr Xie’s personal life too? Some have laughed it off to say that the repeated scenes of the two together try to imitate ‘Winter Sonata’ without success instead.

Song
It is ‘love’ from Beyond singer, Wong Gun Chung. It is quite okay but not very touching as expected.

Conclusion

It is a very factual drama on why the tragedy was caused. It truly reflects the way that many try to cover up for their mistakes or the ugly facts. The practice is truly undesirable – if not it will not blow up into such a big matter to give such a big hit to Hong Kong’s economy for the whole year.

This story is true to real life. SARS started from a China professor in 2003 who spread the virus to many who stayed in the same hotel with him. Then came the ‘Amoy garden’ case that shook the world when the whole building had to be evacuated for cleaning and the residents had to be relocated at a holiday resort to keep away from the rest. It also had the touching story of the SARS baby who was taken from his dying mother’s womb and survived. Even Chinese PM Wen Jia Bao carried him too if all could remember!

The press initially claimed that the viruses were not spreading. But we can see with our own eyes that ER kept on admitting new cases. There were also Singaporean affected tourists who returned home from Hong Kong and caused a similar situation. It caused more than 100 deaths and till now, many are still upset by it.

I find certain scenes alarming and uncomfortable upon seeing how the television station shows how the germs were spread around everywhere in the air. It is so disturbing to see how they penetrate and land in the lungs. SARS became an epidemic with no cure. Despite already knowing the ending, I am very down when watching it. You will feel upset just from reading the newspapers – what’s more when the tragedy is displaced right in front of you?

Many may not be able to accept the numerous scenes where the doctors seek to their religious belief for consolation in many episodes. The priest must be there to preach for every episode which is unnecessary.I feel that more can be focus on the staff’s jobs – e.g.. on how they overcome their fear in their work or how they try to cure the patients.

Sukting’s ratings :

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

On story : *** (Scale of 5)


Add your own review and become a featured critic on spcnet.tv!

Or, add your comments below:





Advertise on SPCNET.TV


Buy DVDs
Asian Heroes

DVD


Shop Asian Fashion at YesStyle