Justice Bao


Reviewed by: sukting

May 26, 2004

Rating: three-point-five

Duel in Autumn

How long/Year produced:
10 episodes done in year 1995

Cast:
Zhao Zao - Lui Leung Wai
Bai Yu Tang - Jiao En Jun
Ma Shi Lan - Yuen Kit Yee (ex-Miss Asia Pacific beauty queen)
Lu - Gu Kun Chung (Wan Fei Yeung in Reincarnated)
Shen - Chan Jing Yu

Story :
Marquis Ma is suspected of keeping treasures secretly. Zhao Zao investigates the case and gets no clues. He is very troubled by it. He meets Yu Tang and both are at loggerheads with each other.

Later, Eunuch Lu stays at Ma's home. He is the Emperor's favourite and he has a treasure to be sent back to court. Eager to get glory, Ma tries hard to impress him but his daughter, Lan, is very disturbed as she has seen Lu killing someone. However, she keeps to herself.

Lan is willful but is actually kind at heart. Yu Tang is fascinated by her and tries to woo her. Too bad, she treats him like dirt and always avoids him. Yu Tang is not discouraged and still finds ways to get close to her. Once, she nearly falls off the cliff and he saves her. He is careful in carrying her in his arms. In return, she gives him a slap! He is so shocked that she is so ungrateful that he loosens his hands, causing her to fall onto the ground. Lan thinks that he tries to molest her and Yu Tang is very amused by it.

Zhan Zao finds Lu secretive and tries to shadow him. He is discovered and both have a spar. Yu Tang is evenly matched with him. But at this moment, Zhan Zao stops him and Yu Tang is angered by it, especially when Zhan Zao says that Lu should be clean since he is a high official. They both decide to compete on who will solve the case earlier.

Knowing that Ma has a lot of treasures and the court treasure is there too, he decides to rob Ma and distribute the treasures to the poor. Yu Tang becomes a guest at Ma's home. Lan has no choice as Ma is impressed by Yu Tang.

However, at this time, Zhan Zao disguises himself as a servant to work for Ma. Both men cross swords again. Zhao wants to hand over the treasures back to the court, which is different from Yu Tang's objective. They also quarrel secretly without the other family members knowing. It is hilarious as Yu Tang really treats him like a servant and gives him nasty tasks. Zhan Zao has to endure all his nonsense. He is annoyed but clenches his fists in secret.

One night, Yu Tang slips into the dungeon to search for the treasure. However, he is trapped and is nearly squeezed to death by sharp spears from walls. At the spur of the moment, Zhan Zao comes along. Seeing him in trouble, he thrushes his sword in to prevent the walls from moving closer. Yu Tang has a narrow escape and Zhan Zao chides him for being imperious.

To Yu Tang's dismay, Lan falls for Zhan Zao. There is one occasion when he invites her out for tea at a teahouse and Zhan Zao tags along. Being furious with him, Yu Tang tries to find a way to make fun of him. At this time, Zhan Zao's subordinates come to the teahouse. Zhan Zao is dismayed as no one knows about his undercover identity. He tries to hide his face and Yu Tang deliberately talks to the constables.

Zhan Zao has no choice but to hide himself under the table. He pulls Yu Tang's clothes and Yu Tang also talks to him there. Zhan Zao chides him for being so ruthless as to attempt to blow his cover but Yu Tang says that he should blame his subordinates for being incompetent. Later, Lan also comes under the table and thinks that they are playing a game. She wants to join in and both have a close shave.

Yu Tang still has no luck in gaining the treasure after so long. Zhan Zao and him have practically gone through all the chambers but to no avail. Suddenly, they solve the mystery together and obtain the treasures. However, Yu Tang seizes it and refuses to give it to Zhan Zao as court evidence. He says that at the rate Justice Bao takes to check the case, many hungry people will be starved by then. Both men put up a good fight but are then dismayed when Lu finally gets the treasure and disappears.

Both men are disappointed. Then Lu makes use of his power to seal off Ma's home, accusing him of cheating the imperial court. Lan is disappointed to know that both men got close to her for this purpose and seeks refuge in a farmer's home. Zhan Zao and Yu Tang are remorseful for keeping her in the dark and Yu Tang decides to protect her in secret as he has the feeling that Lu will not let her off easily.

Zhan Zao is disturbed that he has no evidence to show that Lu is the culprit although he has seen the incident happening before his very own eyes. He starts following Lu secretly and finds that Lu dresses up as a poor peasant to meet his wife. He waits outside the cottage for Lu and demands for an answer.

Lu quietly tells his sad story. His wife, Shen, is a prostitute who once suffered at Ma's hands. He is an ex-constable who fell for her but Ma does not let them off and sent killers to go after them. They hid themselves in a poison pool, which resulted in Shen getting sick and himself impotent. Lu then plans for a revenge and practises martial arts in secret to be a skilful pugilist. He also works in the court and becomes the Emperor's favourite. All along, he has planned for a long time to seek revenge.

However, his wife does not know about his condition and present status. He still pretends to be as poor as before. He makes visits to her monthly and hurries back to the palace in a day. Zhan Zao feels sorry for him but he still has to capture him. Lu begs him not to tell his wife the truth and Zhan Zao agrees. However, Lu proves to be very cunning and he escapes again.

Yu Tang gets to know that Lan has seen Lu killing and he hurries to rescue her on time. After much persuasion, she stays at Justice Bao's residence. But she makes it clear to Yu Tang that she will no longer fall in love again after this ordeal. Yu Tang is upset but he respects her decision.

Zhan Zao and Yu Tang knows that Lu will not desert his wife and they wait for his return. Sure enough, he comes and he is trapped. Zhan Zao has a fight with Lu but Lu kills himself in the end. Yu Tang longs to have a duel with Zhan Zao. But he knows that Zhan Zao is in low spirits so he decides not to make use of this chance to defeat him and leaves.

Comments
This serial is very memorable for Jiao En Jun as this is the first HK serial that he has done. Also, this is the serial that he has done after the birth of his first daughter--in 1 day! His wife was supposed to deliver earlier but somehow the birth came a week later than expected. Jiao was so worried for not being able to witness her birth. A few hours before his trip to HK, he finally got to see her, hugged her and left. He jokingly told reporters that he had the warmth of his daughter even in the journey to HK.

A very interesting start but somehow, it loses steam towards the end. It is quite a pity as Lui Leung Wai and Jiao En Jun are a simply marvelous combination. Both produce so many sparks when together. They can be serious, hilarious and also witty at different times. Jiao is very successful in portraying Yu Tang's great sense of humour and wits. Many scenes between them are so good. One scene after Lu's escape, both get so depressed that they bring jars of wine and sit on the rooftop! Both say that they never expect to drink to each other but yet they are doing it then!

The first scene that they meet is hilarious too. Yu Tang has a fan as a weapon. Zhan Zao says that he has never seen a man so boastful as to write his name on a paper fan. Yu Tang replies that there is the need, as he wants everyone to know about his chivalrous personality. He in turns says that Zhan Zao is no better -- dressing in red all the time to let people know of his presence too.

All along, Jiao has played roles as the Dai Hup who has no problem in getting his gals. But in here, you will feel sorry for him. The more he tries, the more he fails. From day 1 that he meets Lan, he likes her and even snatches her jewel box back for her when a thief grabs it for her.

But Lan dislikes him so much. The scene where he saves her from falling from a cliff is comical. He carries her and looks ar her fondly. This woman gets so scared earlier on but when she looks carefully at who is holding her, she gets so enraged and slaps him on the face!! The poor man is so stunned that he drops her on the ground and hurts her. He is half-angry and half-amused at the accusation that he is molesting her. He chides her for being ungrateful but she says that he deserves it.

We can see how desperately this poor man is later in wooing his gal. It shows that love can't be compelled. Yu Tang arranges so many outings with her, even trying to shield her from the sun with his fan. Well, this woman can be so ungrateful -- even trying to jump high to grab his fan to play with it.

Yuen Kit Yee is pretty and her acting is acceptable. She has the gentle look but my goodness, she plays the role of the spitfire well. And she is prettier with the mischievous grin on her face. No wonder Yu Tang chooses to like her instead of his junior, Xiao Bing (she's in Justice Bao - Zhan Zao on trial). Even the later part of her being reduced to a village girl doesn't damage her good looks too.

Gu also shows his flexibility in acting as a tragic character after so many years. This serial must be memorable for him too although he is only making a guest appearance as he is now based in Taiwan. I like all scenes where the 3 actors fight together. No special effects here but we can see how graceful the three look. The way that they handle the swords show that they are so agile and flexible in their movements. It is little wonder that they always land up acting in sword-fighting serials.

Conclusion
The serial can be boring at times when Lu does a lot of talking on his past. The ending where he kills himself does not bring out the drastic effect. But the good acting by the 4 make up for the loss, not forgetting to mention the scenes where Zhan Zao and Yu Tang pick on each other. The dialogues are hilarious and we get to see why Zhan Zao is no longer the level-headed person he used to be when he is with Yu Tang. He can be bad-tempered and petty as well. What a refreshing change!

sukting's Ratings:

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

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


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