Reincarnated


Reviewed by: spcnet

November 05, 2003

Rating: three-point-five

Cast: (Many thanks to Sukting for the listing!)

Phoenix - Miu Hor Sau - a famous actress who acted with Jackie Chan in most of his movies. Now retired and staying in Canada

Mo Dik - Yong Chak Lum who is in Malaysia now acting in local dramas

Gong Suen Wang - Hon Yee Sang died 2 yrs ago in a car accident

Fu Yuk Shu - Ng Wai Kok - still filming tv serials in china. Liu Xiaoqing's boyfriend.

Goon Zhong Lau - Lau Wai Mun - a businessman

Yee Bei Sha - Goon's love interest - Choi Keng Fai who is now a secretary

First Xuanyin princess - Marie Cheung - a housewife

Another Wan Fei Yeung - Koo Gun Chung - now mostly in taiwan filming kungfu serials

Fu Heung Kuan - Yu On On - a housewife who seldom acts now

Fung - Mun Chin Sui - a stage opera actor

Lei - Lau Kok Sheng - a veteran actor with tvb

Yu - Lau Ying Hung - actress and singer with tvb

Dien - Lau Kong - veteran actor with tvb

Tin Dai - Leung Tin - still with atv as an actor and scrpit writer

Lun Yuen Yee - Mah Mun Yee - only acts occasionally now in both stations

I somehow had managed to borrow a set of this series a while back and re-watched this martial arts classic that had everyone calling Norman Chiu Siu Keung as "Wan Dai Hup", Wan Fei Yeung. When I was a kid, I saw this series and the only thing I could remember was a few hums of the popular themesong. Actually, the song had such a sing-song tune that my cousins began changing the lyrics and I could only remember their ridiculously funny lyrics for the longest time. ATV had came out with a sequel to the series in the early 90's and while I remember watching it, I don't recall the storyline. Anyhow, "Reincarnated" was a very popular series during its time and could be considered as one those films that gave future martial arts series a standard. The faces that appeared in "Reincarnated" were very familiar but I don't know most of their names.

Chiu Siu Keung as Wan Fei Yeung

The translated title, "Reincarnated" really signifies the most powerful martial arts in the story called "Tin Cham Sun Gong". It is a skill passed down from Wu Tang and whoever successfully learns it must go through a silk worm cocoon stage. The person who learns "Tin Cham Sun Gong" will emerge from the cocoon very powerful, refreshed, and said to be younger. The series is also known by the name of "The Bastard Swordsman" and there has been two Shaw Brothers movie adaptations on it in the 80's, which also starred Chiu Siu Keung.

I don't usually go into full details about the whole story when summarizing the plots but since most can't obtain a copy of the series anymore, I'll make an exception and recap. (Information on names and plot errors or pictures are appreciated.) *Note: All images are not from the actual series but just collections of photos of the actors and actresses who were in "Reincarnated".

Plot Summary: (Spoilers Alert!)
The story is first set in Wu Tang (Mo Dong) Clan where Wan Fei Yeung is a cooking servant. Wan is often teased and ridiculed by the students there because he was brought to the clan along with several other persons as possible disciples but he was the only one who did not get accepted. It was explained to him that because he didn't know who his father is, Wu Tang could not accept someone whose background is unknown. Wan Fei Yeung continued to stay at Wu Tang but while everyone thought he knew no martial arts and bullied him, it turns out that every night, a masked stranger would come and teach Wan Fei Yeung kungfu.

Au Yeung Fung in Legend of Condor Heroes 82In the martial world, another clan--Mo Dik (literally means invincible) Clan--is the bitter enemy of Wu Tang Clan. Every three years the two leaders of these two clans would have a duel, but thus far, Mo Dik Clan's leader, Dok Gu Mo Dik (played by the actor who was Au Yeung Fung in "Legend of the Condor Heroes 1982"), has won them all. Wu Tang's current leader is Ching Chong. In the years, Mo Dik Clan has gained a reputation for being ruthless and aggressive, and with a goal to destroy the other top clans. As the day of the battle for that year draws near, Dok Gu's daughter, Dok Gu Fong (Phoenix) and his first disciple, Gong Suen Wang, goes to Wu Tang to demoralize and challenge Wu Tang but are instead, trapped by Wu Tang's "chun fat", obstacle. Phoenix and Gong Suen Wang can not fight their way out after many hours and it seems that eventually their strength would wear out. For some reason, the masked stranger wants to save Phoenix and asks Wan Fei Yeung to secretly set them free.

Ching Chong soon sets out for the battle with Mo Dik Clan. It is revealed that he had a past affair with Dok Gu's wife and that Phoenix is really his daughter. Ching Chong loses again to Dok Gu and is severely injured. On the way back to Wu Tang, he and his two disciples are attacked by what appears to be Mo Dik Clan's followers. Luckily, they are saved by a young man, called Fu Yuk Shu. Yuk Shu's home and family are destroyed as an outcome of helping them and Ching Chong, in his gratitude, accepts him as a Wu Tang disciple. They reach Wu Tang safely.

Yuk Shu is immediately liked by everyone and he, in turn, treats everyone equally well, including Wan Fei Yeung. Yuk Shu teaches Wan Fei Yeung how to read and they become close friends. However, Wan Fei Yeung's love interest, their martial sister, Lun Yuen Yee, also falls in love with Yuk Shu.

actress playing PhoenixSimultaneously, after questioning some followers, Phoenix finds out that Ching Chong had been attacked but the culprits were not from Mo Dik Clan. Apparently set up for the blame, Phoenix sets out to investigate.

Meanwhile, Ngor Mei Sect's top disciple, Goon Zhong Lau, came to challenge Wu Tang's sword techniques and defeats all the disciples. Ching Chong, however, defeats him. This Goon Zhong Lau is quite a character because every time he fights, his two scribes would help him take off his cloak first and then one of them would play the flute as the battle goes on--probably a means of distracting the opponent and an ego trip.

Anyway, Goon Zhong Lau sticks around Wu Tang and catches Yuk Shu sneaking around at the forbidden territory at Wu Tang. The story recounts that some villain is chained inside a cave--his wrists and knees have been injured, rendering him paralyzed from martial arts. This villain is the source of weird noises every night at Wu Tang. It turns out that Yuk Shu has infiltrated into Wu Tang in order to steal Wu Tang's martial arts. Instead, he finds out about the prisoner, who is his grandfather, Tin Dai. Tian Dai used to be a Wu Tang disciple but had secretly tried to steal some martial arts manual and killed Ching Chong's master. He was captured by Ching Chong's martial brother, Yin Chong Tin, and left to live in agony. Ever since this incidence, it was forbidden in Wu Tang to accept disciples whose background was unknown. Tin Dai also happens to be the head of some baddies called Wind, Lightning, Rain, and Electric (Fung, Liu, Yu, Dien).

Yuk Shu had staged the whole event with Ching Chong thinking he was attacked by Mo Dik Clan and his sacrificing his family to save him. Yuk Shu continues to wait for the opportunity to save his grandfather.

Fearing that the stronger forces of Mo Dik Clan would attack Wu Tang, Ching Chong decides to separately teach six chosen disciples one of six special skills of Wu Tang. Of the six, Yuk Shu is also chosen by Ching Chong, again out of gratitude.

actor playing Yuk ShuSpeeding ahead, Yuk Shu caught Wan Fei Yeung practicing martial arts late at night and the most puzzling is that Wan knows all six of Wu Tang's special skills. Wu Tang's two other martial uncles, who are both all talk and no use, pressure the ailing Ching Chong to pre-elect a new leader in the event that Ching Chong dies. Ching Chong selects three successors, his first and second disciple and Yuk Shu, so that if anything happened to either two, Yuk Shu would be the next-in-line to be leader.

Yuk Shu is determined to become leader and gets rid of his competition. Ching Chong dies (I forgot how) but before he does, he tells Wan Fei Yeung to find and speak with Dok Gu's wife, Chum Man Ching. Wan Fei Yeung also learns that Ching Chong is the same masked stranger who had been teaching him martial arts all along. Wan is accused of killing Ching Chong and their martial brother and is chased out of Wu Tang.

He meets a girl, Heung Guan (played by Yu On On), who specializes in healing and helps her defeat a villain. Heung Guan harbors affection for Wan Fei Yeung but he leaves after helping her. He is attacked by Wu Tang followers again but is saved by the secluded Ngor Mei Sect's "see-sok" (martial uncle). At the same time, Goon Zhong Lau, the arrogant Ngor Mei disciple comes to beg his see-sok to teach him some extra sword skills. His see-sok refuses but when Goon Zhong Lau baits him by mentioning that Goon Zhong Lau was defeated by Wu Tang's sword under Ching Chong, the see-sok asks him to first defeat Wan Fei Yeung. Wan Fei Yeung loses on purpose to save the face of the see-sok. Goon Zhong Lau happily thinks he won but when his see-sok tells him that Wan Fei Yeung let him win, he starts feeling resentful toward Wan Fei Yeung.

Goon Zhong Lau leaves and goes back to Ngor Mei. However, when he gets back, Ngor Mei has already been decimated by Mo Dik Clan. His master has also been killed by Dok Gu Mo Dik. Goon Zhong Lau vows revenge and is determined to rebuild Ngor Mei. He is hunted down by Mo Dik Clan and escapes west to Bosnia. Along the way, he meets and saves a Bosnian woman, named Yee Bei Sha, who falls in love with him. Realizing that her two masters are very powerful, he sticks around and attempts to steal their martial arts manual. He eventually manages to gain the affections of the Bosnian tribal leader, who also falls in love with him.

Back at the other end, Wan Fei Yeung receives a gift, a special metallic mask that protects the wearer from poison, from Ngor Mei's see-sok. He leaves and gets a sword forged, designed specifically in his details and which increases his swordsmanship due to the odd design. Secretly, he goes back to Wu Tang, only to be unknowingly betrayed by Yuk Shu.

Wan Fei Yeung escapes Wu Tang again and by chance, meets Phoenix. Knowing that she is the daughter of Dok Gu, he disguises as a commoner who wants a job at Mo Dik Clan. Along the way, he plays tricks on her and they eventually fall in love with each other. He successfully gets in Mo Dik Clan but incurs the jealousy of Gong Suen Wang, the martial brother of Phoenix, who believes that Wan Fei Yeung knows martial arts and is the same person who saved them at Wu Tang. Gong Suen Wang reveals Wan Fei Yeung's identity and Wan Fei Yeung is forced to fight Dok Gu Mo Dik, who heavily injures him. Wan Fei Yeung escapes but is injured so badly that he could not use his martial arts any more. Deciding to give up the way of the sword, he stays with a wealthy merchant who saved him and is adopted as a foster son.

Yu On On as the Fragrance Princess in Legend of the Book and the SwordWan Fei Yeung meets Heung Guan again. It turns out that Heung Guan is the good-natured sister of Yuk Shu. Not realizing that her brother and grandfather, Tin Dai, were doing evil, they deceive her into revealing Wan Fei Yeung's whereabouts. By this time, Tin Dai had already rejoined with his old followers: Wind, Lightning, Rain, and Electric. He trains them and they become quite powerful.

Yuk Shu became Wu Tang's leader after Ching Chong died. He has also been practicing some powerful Wu Tang martial arts that only the leader could learn. However, he had to give up his relationship with his martial sister, Yuen Yee, because the rule was that the leader of Wu Tang has to become a Taoist priest and can not marry. He does love Yuen Yee though and unfortunately, had an affair with her. When she becomes pregnant and wants to reveal their relationship, his grandfather's followers, under Tin Dai's orders, pushes her down a hill.

Heung Guan helps Wan Fei Yeung obtain a special herb, "Shuet Lin", and after ingesting it, he regains his martial arts and becomes even more powerful. Meanwhile, Phoenix has agreed to marry Gong Suen Wang after he takes punishment for her for aiding Wan Fei Yeung. On the day of the ceremony, Wan Fei Yeung crashes the party but still is unable to defeat Dok Gu Mo Dik. As he's fleeing, he runs into the room of Dok Gu's wife, Chum Man Ching, who hides him. After some questioning, she finds out that Wan Fei Yeung is really Ching Chong's son! Ching Chong had given up his relationship with Wan Fei Yeung's mother after he became leader of Wu Tang. He later brought Wan Fei Yeung up to Wu Tang and secretly taught him Wu Tang's martial arts. Wan Fei Yeung's mother had passed away a long time ago.

Dok Gu's wife had met Ching Chong one time when he came for the tri-yearly battle with Dok Gu Mo Dik. Dok Gu had neglected his wife in order to practice martial arts and did not even once sleep with her. Dok Gu's wife, in a moment of resentment, decided to pursue an affair with Ching Chong though she still loved Dok Gu. Ching Chong had actually taught her Wu Tang's highest martial arts, "Tin Cham Sun Gong" and in trying to save Wan Fei Yeung, she transfers her powers to him.

Wan Fei Yeung enters the cocoon stage of "Tin Cham Sun Gong" for days. To make a really long story short, he comes out a new person--and I mean a Wan Fei Yeung played by a totally different person. Chui Siu Keung is no longer in the series! The time that Wan Fei Yeung was in the cocoon, Yuk Shu, Goon Zhong Lau, and Yu had all teamed up to destroy Mo Dik Clan. Yuk Shu and Goon Zhong Lau then have a battle where Goon Zhong Lau loses. Wan Fei Yeung saves Goon Zhong Lau as he's chased, which makes Goon Zhong Lau even more resentful. Wan Fei Yeung clears his name as Yuk Shu reveals his true face and eventually saves Wu Tang. He meets up with Phoenix again and despite their backgrounds, they decide to marry. Dok Gu easily agrees because he knows by now that Wan Fei Yeung and Phoenix are really half brother and sister. On the night of the wedding, Dok Gu's wife rushes in to stop it and tells them the truth. Phoenix leaves in devastation.

Wan Fei Yeung helps defeat Tian Dai and his followers and then aides in the defeat of Goon Zhong Lau who was backed up by the Bosnians. Yuk Shu escapes and hides in a peasant couple's home. He kills the couple's son as he held the child hostage. However, as he turns to see a tablet for the dead, he realizes that it is his martial sister, Yuen Yee's, plague and that he just killed his own son. At the end, Wan Fei Yeung is the revered hero but leaves to roam the world as he can not forget Phoenix.

Review:
"Reincarnated" is a fairly complex story, with many sub-plots and twists, more than what I would expect from a series in the 70's. It is certainly a classic in its own right and the characters are developed fully and each had their own motivation and desires to act in the way they did. There are several factors that I did not stomach well though. Firstly, the dramatic irony in the series was ready to kill me. It was pretty obvious after a certain point in the story that Ching Chong is the father of Phoenix and Wan Fei Yeung. So when Wan Fei Yeung meets Phoenix and they start harboring good feelings for each other, the viewer's already shaking one's head telling them to stop. So romance is ruled out.

Another problem was that I truly expected Norman Chui Siu Keung to carry the whole show as Wan Fei Yeung. Some people say that Norman Chui had some problems with tardiness during the production of "Reincarnated" and his role was then given to another actor halfway into the series. Anyhow, that was one of the rumors as to why Norman Chui did not finish the series. Midway in the series, in the scenes where Wan Fei Yeung was supposed to crash Phoenix's wedding with Gong Suen Wang and fights Dok Gu Mo Dik, either he wore his mask or his face was not shown so that the viewer can tell it's really a double playing Wan Fei Yeung. The story then conveniently set it up to explain that because Dok Gu's wife transferred her "Tin Cham Sun Gong" to Wan Fei Yeung, he came out with a new face. Whereas, Wu Tang's see-sok Yin Chong Tin also learned "Tin Cham Sun Gong" but only became younger because he practiced it himself. So after getting used to the idea of Norman Chiu as Wan Fei Yeung, it's pretty hard to get used to another actor play Wan Fei Yeung him for the second half of the series.

Despite switching actors though, the new actor who played Wan Fei Yeung was not all bad since he was, I believe, a pretty popular martial arts star himself back then. I don't know his name, but if you have ever seen the Tekken game commercial on television, there was a particular one where the commercial used an old Chinese movie clip. The actor is dubbed saying at the end, "I will be the Tekken master."

Lastly, probably due to the time that the series was made, but "Reincarnated" at times is dragging. However, I can't complain about it too much because it is a factor to how character development was done so well. The fighting in the series was a bit slow, with the classical slow motion at times but understandable with the technology back then. "Reincarnated" is successful in the fact that there is more than one villain, all who are either allying or contending with each at different points in time to achieve their own goals. They all have their own personalities, arrogance, pride, or ticks that define them. Of all the supporting characters, I thought Goon Zhong Lau was a fairly well developed character who was an egotistical man slighted while Chuen Yuk Shu was another character that was not all bad.

The themesong to the series is another classic. A particular sub-theme used for the background music that was adapted from a famous Chinese opera was also used and contributed to the mood well.

The ATV sequel to "Reincarnated" in 1990 continued the story of Wan Fei Yeung where Norman Chiu starred in his previous role (illogical that he got his face back though). Eric Wan, Erica Choi, Shuet Lei, and Au Yeung Pui San were some of the new actors and actresses in the sequel. There is a review of it on another website for Erica Choi: http://www.geocities.com/erica_choi_hiu_yee/

I've read that there is a new "Tin Cham Bien - Reincarnated" in the making by either a Taiwanese or China production company. Ng Ging, who has starred in "Tai Chi Master" and the recent "Little Dagger Lee - Xiao Li Fei Dao" (as Ah Fei) is the new Wan Fei Yeung while Ho Mei Tin will play either Heung Guan or Yuen Yee.


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