Heaven’s Retribution


Reviewed by: sukting

November 20, 2008

Rating: three-point-five

How long
30 episodes

Foreword
You will never find such a great cast today. This was the period when so many deflected to ATV because of the higher pay. This drama posed to be a threat to TVB’s ‘It runs in the family’ to grab 50% of viewers away. Many are curious to find out if they will lose their charm when acting for a rival station.

Many said that they have passed their prime and can’t be compared with the TVB younger cast. They shine instead to prove them wrong. ATV can’t rope in such a powerful cast anymore as many have either returned/deflected to TVB, become movie stars or have retired from showbuzz.

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Yam Tat Wah --- Sung Yat Fu
He is the siblings’ father. Yat Fu works for the government but he is accused of being an anti-cultural revolution. The family loses its wealth and become paupers overnight. Yat Fu dies after he gets hit by a car. I feel so sad when watching this scene – very tragic.

2. Mei Suet --- Sum Suet Ying
It is amazing that she is the mother of five. She freezes to death while begging for food for her children when they run out of money. This scene is equally as pathetic as above.

3. Wong Yat Wah --- Sung Bong
Bong, as a little boy, isn’t afraid to admit in front of the public that he is proud of his parents. After his parents’ death, he gives away all his other siblings except Ting. He flees to Hong Kong and starts life anew. He initially has a tea business and later starts an antique business. Bong breaks all ties with Shu Hoi after knowing that he kills his sisters.

At first, he likes Mei Ling but later marries Mei Lai as she is beside him at his weakest moment. Bong fills up a jar with marbles to count down the days that he will see Mei Lai again after her leukaemia treatment ends. On the day of her recovery, he is supposed to meet her but a mad Shu Hoi calls him. He is shot and is on the way to the hospital as there is a traffic jam. His last marble drops out from his pocket as Mei Lai is with him in it.

Did he die? Sorry but this is the ending! Mayb he doesn’t survive as the marble is a hint. But if so, this is sad as Bong struggles so hard to survive. It is the same old long suffering character that Yat Wah has acted in many other dramas so he offers little surprise.

4. Ng Kai Wah --- Kong Shu Hoi
Shu Hoi, as a little boy, humiliates his parents in front of the public. His selfishness causes him to grow up to become worse. Being ‘rebels’ children make him hard to step into society so he escapes to Hong Kong with Bong. He doesn’t save Ting who dies eventually. He also kills Bong’s youngest sister, Ka when she wants to save Ting. He is such a jerk to do this just to keep his dirty secret away from Chi San. He gets jailed for this.

After his release, Chu treats him better. He gets to work in Bong’s company, much to bong’s disgust. He accidentally throws water on Mei Lai to cause her to become more ill. Bong blames him for it and separates his company from Chu. Shu Hoi ends up in an asylum. He later shoots Bong to death before killing himself.

Kai Wah has hoped to take on non-villain roles but his wish isn’t granted. Still, he delivers an excellent performance. I doubt anyone will empathesize with him. Shu Hoi keeps on attributing Bong’s success to luck but Shu Hoi has never worked as hard as him. I must compliment his effort for being a lunatic. He really does it so well – in comparison, I shake my head at Man Tse Leung and Shiu Mei Kei’s interpretations. (Both can be seen in ‘The Edge of righteous’ and ‘Conscience’. Please watch and you can tell the difference.)

5. Chik Mei Chun --- Yam Mei Lai
She is Mei Ling’s mean, stingy and calculative elder sister. Her grandparents pity her as her mother dies after she is born. She is spoiled and loves torturing her other siblings. Bong persuades her to invest in his restaurant. She is down upon knowing that Bong likes Mei Ling. Seeing Bong getting drunk when he is unsuccessful in his business, she gives him his support and wins his love. They are about to get married when she has leukaemia.

Mei Ling is the only one who can save her but she is bitter over her past. So she refuses to donate her bone barrow to her. They still get married but her health affects her. Mei Ling donates her bone barrow and the couple is separated for two years as she seeks treatment. Their love grows stronger each day despite this.

Mei Chun related that she nearly lost her voice because of this role. I realised why – she is so tough and rough. But she really makes this role comes alive. A rare chance to see how she behaves as a shrew. To bad it doesn’t last for too long.

6. Yung Hung --- Yam Mei Ling
She is a kind and sweet young lady who befriends Bong when he becomes her father’s company’s cleaner. She also becomes another shareholder for Bong’s restaurant besides Mei Lai. She gives up on Bong when he becomes desperate after losing his business. She gets engaged to Sam but can never forget Bong.

She becomes a different person after being paralysed. She gets close to Shu Hoi who gets out of prison later. She challenges Bong to jump off the building to get her bone marrow for Mei Lai. To her surprise, he does it to end up getting seriously injured and she keeps her promise.

What an exchange of character presentation with Mei Chun? She also proves to act well too. She is in top form and compliments well with Yat Wah although she was a newcomer then.

7. Ng Wing Mei --- Sung Ting
She is Bong’s innocent younger sister who loves Shu Hoi. They have a son despite Bong’s disapproval. After knowing that Shu Hoi betrays her to be with Chi San when she visits him in Hong Kong, she attempts to kill herself after killing her son. Shu Hoi doesn’t save a dying her and doesn’t know that she has taped the whole incident down.

I hardly see her in demure and submissive roles. She has tried her might to play this gullible and weak role well.

8. Chong Ching Yee --- Tam Chi San
Chi San comes from a rich family and is attracted by Shu Hoi’s innocence. She goes all out to woo him and he falls for her. She doesn’t know that he has a son. Shu Hoi doesn’t dispose the tape properly after buying it from Kok. She listens to it and realises his dark secret. Shu Hoi scars her face with a knife and is jailed for hurting her. Few people can play wilful roles as well as her. They should get pointers from this veteran actress.

9. Yeung Kwan --- Lui Ting
He is Yat Fu’s friend who is also accused of being an anti-cultural revolution. His little son, Shu Hoi, humiliates his parents in front of the public. It drives him to suicide.

10. Lee Heung Kam --- Yiu Yan Ju
She is the siblings’ grandmother. She treats them well but her younger son doesn’t.

11. Leung See Hou – Sung Kok
This vicious younger brother betrays Bong by telling the China policemen to hunt Bong down. He discovers the tape that Ting records about her murder and extorts Shu Hoi. He repents after Bong knocks sense into him. This unfeeling person can actually weep as he thinks that Bong is dying. Bong is right as he never expects him to shed tears for him.

12. Suen Hing – Sam
He is Mei Ling’s devoted ex-fiance. Although she breaks up with him as she can’t forget Bong, he still follows her around. He is upset when she doesn’t accept him and attempts jumping off from a building. Mei Ling saves him but becomes paralysed.

13. Kong Tou – Kong Ching Fung
He is the person who causes the deaths of the fathers by giving the China government the wrong information as he is jealous of them.

14. Kam Hing Hin – Sung Yat Ming
Bong comes to seek refuge with this uncle but he drives them away after his grandmother’s death. He even forces Bong to close his restaurant after seeing that he has brisk business.

15. Fung Suk Bo – Chu
She is Shu Hoi’s mother who is sad over his deed to force her husband to death. Still, she braves through poverty to bring him, Bong and Ting up. But she is cold to Shu Hoi from then on and treats Bong well.

Songs

The fast paced theme song which has the same title is sung by Roman Tam. There are two sub-theme songs. One is by him and Mai Kit Mun. Another is ‘This Is Life’ by him. I love this sub-theme song. Roman declared that he loved these drama theme songs most among others. Thus he placed a lot of effort in his singing.

Conclusion

Please do not hesitate if you find the story line similar to ‘Looking Back in Anger’. The producer is the same person – Wai Kar Fai. It is considered one of the best ATV dramas. It marks well on the sufferings and poverty faced during the Cultural Revolution. Who can the family endure such hardship to pursue their dream?

It shows the harsh reality of truth of how people succumb to pressure and lust. Looking how Yat Fu struggles to survive with Suet Ying will surely make you break down. They come from influential families and are rich. Their lives take a dip and their family members are scattered everywhere. Bong has to look around to get his siblings back.

Life isn’t a bed of roses and sometimes, it doesn’t deserve to be kind. Their story tells all. Although Tak Wah and Mai Suet only make cameo performance, they leave a big impact.
Sometimes, bad guys simply triumph as they have the fortune.

Director Wai took pains to get appropriate names for the cast members. Yat Fu and Yat Ming show how much hope their parents pin on them. Yat Fu chooses significant names for his children. Bong is a state, Kok is a country, Ting and Kar signifies family. Nowadays, we hear unpresentable or easily forgotten names for the cast. The sisters’ names can be too plain, though. Maybe he runs out of ideas?

Although this is the first time Yat Wah and Kai Wah work with a new cast, they blend into the scenario with them. (I don’t remember the exTVB cast working together in TVB before.) I am won over by the smooth flow of events. All are given an even and meat role to bring out each person’s uniqueness. It really helps to note why the different characters meet a different fate. Time is not on their side to make all end up like this.

Although I dislike cliffhanger endings, I strongly recommend this drama as it depicts the challenges in real life. It must not be missed as there is no other opportunity to see them working together again. It lives up to the name as a grand quality production.

Sukting’s ratings :

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

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

On songs : ****(Scale of 5)



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