Reviewed by: sukting

May 12, 2004

Rating: four-point-five

Dai Noi Kwan Ying


Yong Cheng - Man Tse Leung (acting in China part-time and is a businessman now)
Tsang Jing - Chiang Da Wai(sometimes act in atv serials)
Nien Gen Yiu - Yeung Chak Lum (Mo Dik in "Reincarnated" and now acting in Malaysian serials)
Lui Sei Niong - Mei Shuet (last seen in 2000 DSHS as Yin Suk Suk)
Lee Yuk Yin - Ngai Chau Wah (Wong Yung in the tvb 95 version of 'Return of the Condor Heroes')
Hon Chong - Leung Siu Lung (now a stuntsman director in movies)
Ying Tai - Ng Wai Kok (now acting in China and is Liu Xiaoqing's boyfriend)
Mou Meng - Law Lok Lam (Yam Wo Hang in the tvb 97 version of 'The Swordsman')
Hung Lek - Wong Shu Kei ( now acting in Malaysian serials)

Story: (Warning! Spoilers!)
Yung Cheng is the fourth prince and is always unable to win his father's favour all along. He is always overshadowed by his younger brother, Ying Tai. He knows that he has no chance of getting the throne. In despair, he stays in a hut in a village and gets himself drunk each day. His followers are disturbed to see this and they scheme to get someone highly-skilled to steal the emperor's scroll to change the successor.

Yung Cheng has nothing to do and always play on the zither daily. Sai Niong stays near him and is annoyed by the noises he makes. In anger, she steps on the weaving machine to weave cloth and makes noises at night. This disturbs Yung Cheng and he asks his followers to tell Sai Niong to stop it. Sai Niong refuses and insists on continuing. Yung Cheng is so angry that he snaps all the strings at once! His followers are scared over this and they bring the zither to Sai Niong's place. Sai Niong is equally speechless to see this and helps to fix it back when they beg her. She pities them as Yung Cheng is temperamental. He may regret his action later in destroying his precious zither and vent his anger on them.

She returns with them and Yung Cheng's anger is quickly dispersed. Actually, he is attracted to her beauty and her straight-forwardness in pointing out his mistakes. He keeps his identity from her and wants to woo her. However, her uncle dislikes Manchurians and prevents him from seeing her. Another neighbour and a scholar swordsman, Tsang Jing, also likes Sei Niong but her uncle equally dislikes him as he has already arranged her to marry a scholar, Bak Tai Gun. The two men are disappointed but they still don't want to give up their chances. It is an interesting sight to see how they try to woo her by playing nice music pieces - one with the zither and another with the flute!

Sei Niong soon falls for Yung Cheng and is shocked to know about his identity. Knowing his wish to become an emperor, she decides to help him to steal the scroll. The scene is very eye-catching - showing how difficult it is to steal the scroll. There are several occasions when she nearly drops the scroll. He worries for her safety, pacing up and down in his room in the palace. When she returns, his usually stern expression breaks into a relieved and joyful smile. But his anger returns when reading it and finding out that Ying Tai gets the throne. He adds one more stroke to the Chinese character 'ten' and indeed, he gets the throne when the emperor dies.

Yung Cheng gets a good helper, Nien Gen Yiu, in court and gets rid of Ying Tai's gang. Nien Gen Yiu is a very talented general who has won many battles. Ying Tai is quiet about this and seeks help secretly from Mo Meng, a professional killer. But to his dismay, this killer monk decides to work for Yung Cheng as he offers a higher price for his 'blood tool'. This weapon traps the head from a victim and removes it from the body. But Mo Meng assures him that he will work for him if there is the chance. This monk is really smart to leave himself another path for escape!

Nien Gen Yiu marries his wife's younger sister, Yuk Yin, when his own wife dies of a sickness. Yuk Yin is at first in love with a wanderer, Hon Chong. Hon Chong saves hard to buy a jade statue for her, only to know of her engagement to Nien Gen Yiu. He is so disappointed that he breaks the statue. Yuk Yin refuses to elope with him as she has fallen in love with Gen Yiu. In despair, Hon Chong leaves and joins Sei Niong's family. Sei Niong's uncle is actually working to overthrow the Manchurians and Hon Chong offers to help him. Tsang Jing also helps him in his activities although he is a good friend of Ying Tai.

Tsang Jing is troubled when seeing that Sei Niong misses Yung Cheng. However, he keeps the sorrow to himself. He has two maids, Jade and Pearl, who are always by his side. One of them, Pearl, likes him. His junior, Wai Zhong, also shows interest in him. But he pretends not to know about it.

Sei Niong's uncle worries for her safety and fears of implicating her if he gets caught. He marries her off to Tai Gun. She has no choice but to agree to it. Although Tsang Jing is upset, he still attends their wedding. Yung Zheng learns about her marriage and is very shattered by the news. He vows to get even with Sei Niong's uncle. Although Sei Niong is married, he still treats Tsang Jing as his love rival and plans to kill him. All the while, Sei Niong's heart is still with Yung Cheng and she treats her husband badly. As a result, he goes mad as he really loves her very much. Sei Niong is remorseful and tries to make up to him.

One day, Tsang Jing gets injured and is poisoned although he manages to kill his assassin. His two maids are surprised as they always think that their master is invincible. The injury is so serious that he cannot even get out of bed. Tsang Jing knows that it is Yung Zheng's doing but he keeps quiet. However, Sei Niong has recognised the killer and detests Yung Zheng's actions.

Later, Yung Cheng sends men to Sei Niong's home to give a large bottle of wine. It is very strong and if no one drinks it, the whole family will be killed. Sei Niong is back home at this time and is angered. She is about to drink it but Tsang Jing suddenly appears from his room and grabs the bottle. He drinks it and puts on a strong front. Actually Yung Cheng knows that he is injured and this is just a test to see how well he is. He knows that Sei Niong's uncle is too old to drink it and Tsang Jing will not allow Sei Niong to touch it either. His men are frightened to see him unharmed and escape. After their leave, Tsang Jing suddenly vomits blood and collapses. His maids and Wai Zhong blame Sei Niong for this. Sei Niong is very sad and from that day onwards, she starts to hate Yung Zheng.

Yung Zheng later kills Sei Niong's uncle and husband. He thinks that they are the main obstacles for hindering him from marrying her. Well, this is very wrong!! Sei Niong is badly affected by their deaths and leaves home with a maid. They wander all over the country and the maid dies of illness. Sei Niong decides to fake her own death. She builds the tomb in her name, disguises herself as the maid and spreads the news that she committed suicide because she loves her husband.

Upon hearing the news, Yung Cheng rushes to the grave. He does not believe that she is dead and orders his men to dig the grave. By this time, the body has decayed but Yung Zheng recognises Sei Niong's clothes. He is so distressed over this and jumps into the tomb. He cries till he faints holding the body. I have disliked this character all along for being so wicked and inhuman but I am really very touched when watching this scene - this shows his deep love for her. Sei Niong hides aside and sees this. Although she is touched, she is still firm in making her next move.

Yung Cheng grieves for her death and sets a tomb for her in the palace. His son, Hung Lek, is unhappy over this. Hung Lek is a kind and understanding man. All along he has hated his father for being cruel to his mother and followers. He even becomes a friend of Hon Chong - helping him escape his father when he fails in an attempt. Hon chong loses an arm to Mou Meng's blood tool. After hearing his sad story regarding Yuk Yin, he advises him to forget the past. He even brings him to see the couple. Hon Chong finally gives up when seeing them in love.

Gen Yiu has always feel regretful in breaking up Yuk Yin and Hon Chong. He feels inferior as he is much older than Yuk Yin. But Yuk Yin assures him that she is devoted to him all along. Gen Yiu is not a person with brawns and no brains. He can sense that Yung Cheng is getting jealous of his success. He knows when to stop and plans to resign from his post. However, Yung Cheng accuses him of being a traitor and sentences him to death. Yuk Yin commits suicide and Hon Chong decides to find Tsang Jing to kill him.

Tsang Jing is equally upset over Sei Niong's death and he takes a long time to get better from his wound. His master gets very worried when seeing this. He advises him to accept Pearl and Wai Zhong as they treat him so well. So out of gratitude, he marries both of them. Although he treats them well, he still cannot forget Sei Niong. One day, he has a walk with Pearl. They are ambushed by Yung Cheng's men and Pearl gets killed. Tsang Jing is captured and tortured by Yung Cheng. Yung Cheng is also a skillful martial arts expert himself. He vents his anger, almost breaking every single bone in his body. It is a very sorrowful sight to see how a firm man is being reduced to ruins.

Tsang Jing loses his confidence in living and even refuses to leave the cell when Wai Zhong comes to rescue him. Wai Zhong gets killed in the process. Tsang Jing turns into a rage and kills the soldiers. His master is so sad over his daughter's death that he confronts Mou Meng and gets killed too by his 'blood tool'. Tsang Jing finally becomes his own self again and meets Hon Chong to discuss the details. They are surprised to see Sei Niong on the street. Tsang Jing is delighted to see her again and wants her to join in. Sei Niong pretends to join in but she already has a plan of her own. She leaves a letter, telling them to meet her at midnight in her home.

She sneaks into the palace and sees Yung Cheng. Yung Cheng is overjoyed and hugs her. He does not notice that there is a dagger inside her sleeve. Actually, Sei Niong is torn between the thought on whether or not to finish his life. She then says that she wants to go somewhere to hear him play the zither again. He agrees and is astonished to be brought to her home. He starts to feel uneasy but still sits down to play the tune that he usually plays for her.

There are tears in her eyes when she hears the music. Suddenly, she raises the sword and points at him. Yung Cheng is startled to see this and he tries to run away. However, he is tripped by the zither and falls to the ground. He demands to know why Sei Niong is doing this. Sei Niong replies that she has to answer to her family. Although Yung Cheng begs her, she still kills him. This is the part that I don't understand. Yung Cheng knows martial arts himself - why can't he just stand up and run away?? Too shocked to see the change in Sei Niong? Or he knows that he is inferior to her in skills? But anyway, the scene is touching. Before dying, his expression changes from shock to a peaceful expression. He says that dying in her hands is better than being killed by someone else.

Sei Niong sobs and kneels beside his dead body upon hearing this. She realises that she still loves him all along. She then kills herself. Hon Chong and Tsang Cheng are shocked when they arrive there. Tsang Jing is saddened by the fact that he just sees Sei Niong alive for only a while and dead before him so quickly. Hon Chong sends Yung Cheng's dead body back to the palace to Hung Lek.

Hung Lek is declared as the emperor. He requests Hon Chong to stay and help him as he is very young in dealing with the court affairs. This is actually an excuse as he always pities him for losing his love and his arm and wants to give him a comfortable life. Hon Chong worries over Hung Lek's safety and knowing that he can be a good emperor, he decides to stay and protect him.

Ying Tai is still eyeing the throne and finally gets Mou Meng to be his subordinate. Mou Meng deflects as he dislikes to work for a young and inexperienced emperor. Ying Tai also tries to rope in Tsang Jing to help him. Tsang Jing is tired after so many ordeals and he decides to retreat to stay in the woods. However, Ying Tai does not believe him. He is afraid that Tsang Jing might help Hung Lek instead. He pretends to hold a farewell feast for him. When both are drinking, he suddenly stabs him with a dagger.

Tsang Jing is depressed and furious when Ying Tai does not trust him. He states his stand and leaves. Ying Tai does not feel secure and sends Mou Meng to kill him. At this time, Tsang Jing is bleeding very badly and is dying. However, when he sees his enemy in front of him, his courage returns and kills Mou Meng after a duel. This scene is spectacular on seeing how desperately he avoids the blood tool. After making himself calm, he finds Mou Meng's weakness. He grabs the tool and traps Mou Meng's head in it. But as his wound is tearing, he has no more strength to pull his head. But this is good enough as the sharp edges in the tool has cut his head. Before he dies, he smiles as he has finally avenged the deaths of many.

Hung Lek becomes a good emperor but he still puts Ying Tai under home arrest. Ying Tai is helpless now as he lost his power. He goes crazy after realising that his dream of being an emperor can never become true. Hung Lek feels sorry for him and takes good care of him.

Review :
Many have claimed that Lau Chung Yan is Mei Shuet's best working partner. From what I see, Man Tse Leung and Chiang Dai Wai are equally compatible too. They also have a lot of chemistry with her. Especially Man Tse Leung here - he is so good as Yung Cheng. Being young and charming looking, he has the authoritative look of an emperor, much better than Lau Tak Wah too. Just a stern look from him will scare everyone away. Also displays Yung Cheng's wit and cunning nature well. But the tenderness that he shows towards Sei Niong can make you forget Yung Cheng's evil doings.

Alex Man in Lok Siu Fung   David Chiang in ATV's The Snow is Red   Mai Shuet

As for Chiang Da Wai, he is dashing and also swift in his movements. Much better than Man in terms of skill as he acts in many kungfu movies. He is a good choice in being a Dap Hup in those days because of his looks. I like the way he fights his enemies with different weapons - the sword, fan or the flute, not to miss mentioning how he stands out among the beauties around him. His acting is also splendid - showing the talent and gentle nature of Tsang Jing.

Mei Shuet is of course the best choice in acting in period dramas. She is not just pretty but also a versatile actress. She looks very young and mischievous here. Also very good as the first willful but then matured lady. Her character, Sei Niong, displays so much charm and it is little wonder that the two men fall for her immediately. A simple costume is enough to bring out her beauty.

The costumes here are not as elaborate as the recent period dramas. In fact, all the cuttings and designs are quite simple - either in black or white. But once the artists wear them, they look so different. Chiang Da Wai is so distinctive from the rest in his completely white simple costume. As For Man, he wears a white gown but with a black top. But he has the elegant look that tells you that he comes from a well-to-do family. As for Mei Shuet, she has short plaits that make her look cute and the slight smile that she wears on her face is enough to melt anyone's heart.

All the fighting scenes are done very tastefully. The artistes have done a wonderful job. Especailly for the 'blood tool', it is very convincing as to why it is so feared by many.

Yip Chan Tong sang quite a number of songs for atv serials. This themesong stands out from the rest as a classic. It is the shortest among all other themesongs but it has an attractive starting and ending. Who can forget it after so many years? I practically liked it at once when I heard it for the first time.

I've missed buying an introduction magazine on it when it was shown in Singapore. My cousin bought it and threw it away accidentally. Anyway, I still feel angry with her today as she has missed a treasure! It has many beautiful coloured pictures on the cast and also a detailed synopsis on the story.

I have forgotten most parts of the story and some of the facts are obtained from my friend. So fans may update me if I have written anything wrong. Although Chiang Da Wei makes a comeback in 'The Ching Emperor' with Koo Tin Lok as Hung Lek and Shuet Lee (Mei Shuet's younger sister) as Lui Sei Niong, the cast's chemistry cannot be compared to this one. Playing the same character many years later is not the same anymore. The feeling is very different as he is more matured now. I really miss the 'Dynasty' serial and hope to watch it again.

Sukting's Rating:
On acting: * * * * 1/2 (Scale of 5)
On story: * * * * (Scale of 5)

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