The Golden Phoenix


Reviewed by: sukting

May 16, 2004

Rating: three

How long/Year produced: 25 episodes done in year 1986

Cast:
Ha Hou Hung Ying - Ou Hoi Ling
Ha Hou Cui Ying - Ng Ning (ex Miss Hong Kong Asia lst runner-up beauty queen)
Ha Hou Lam Ying - Yip Yuk Hing (ex category III actress in movies also ex Miss Hong Kong Asia 2nd runner-up)
Ha Hou Chi Ying - Chan Jing Yu (I last saw her as the concubine in 'Hoi Shui vs Yim Song')
Ha Hou Choi Ying - Yuen King Dan (now with TVB)
Zhuk Sui - Kwan Wai Lun
Long Tang - Poon Chi Mun (now with TVB)
Yuen Gan Sang Gor - Ng Wai Kok
Yuen Gan Ha Chi Nu - Wong Shu Tong (the old ghost catcher in IHADWTV)
Doi Ma - Tsui Mun Wah


Introduction :
This series is memorable as it brings Ng Wai Kok and Yip Yuk Hing together as lovers. Many of the actresses in it have retired from showbiz. The story is quite refreshing though as it has a number of tigresses -- outspoken, daring and often overbearing. Expect to find no demure ladies here.

Story:
The Ha Hou general dies in the war, leaving behind 2 wives and 5 daughters who are highly-skilled. They are also fierce, heroic, and sharp-tongued. They are as loud as their rainbow-coloured boots, especially the sisters. All are dressed in different colours accordingly -- red, green, blue, purple, and rainbow colours. Although rough, all of them are kind-hearted. They are often shown dashing to the rescue of the bullied. One is seen hitting a pickpocket while another accuses another man of murder and bringing him to justice.

There is a scene that is guaranteed to raise eyebrows. The entire feminine household taunts the eldest sister Hung Ying's henpecked husband for having called them fierce. First, he is beaten up by his wife and made to mop the floor with a silk cloth. This is followed by another round of beating by his mother-in-law to 'demonstrate how to beat a husband without leaving visible bruises'. After further insults to his ego from his in-laws, he meekly serves tea to his wife to apologise for his 'wrong-doing'.

The sisters' reputation is so widely known that a desperate matchmaker resorts to distribute marriage pamphlets in order to find a husband for Cui Ying. Of course, she fails to find one for her. Even generals find all the girls overbearing when they are in court.

The Kam army captures Emperor Wai and his son. The evil younger prince becomes the regent, pretends to be concerned and sends all the women to rescue them. The journey proves to be a tedious job for all the women. On the way, they have to fend off a lot of ambushes and traps. They also start to blame Zhuk Sui for only being a scholar who knows no martial arts and yet wants to tag along.

There is a general, Long Tang, whom they make an acquaintance on the way. Cui Ying and Chi Ying fall for him and the poor man has more than he can bargain for. Later, he falls for Cui Ying and Chi Ying falls out with Cui Ying. Cui Ying feels very guilty over it. Later, Long Tang is badly affected when knowing his actual parentage. He is actually the second son of the Kam emperor and is adopted by the Long family when he is separated with them in a war. He can't forget his foster parents' kindness and refuses to acknowledge his natural father. Cui Ying is glad over this and her mothers accept him as one of them. Sang Gor, the third Kam prince, is injured in a war. Unknown of his identity, the Ha Hou sisters save him but he is a kind person who harbours no ill intention towards them at all. He is at loggerheads with Lam Ying although he gets along well with the other members. Once, she is trapped on the tree in a net. He saves her and carries her to prevent her from falling. Lam Ying doesn't show gratitude and even brushes his arms off when he puts her down.

However, they develop feelings for each other after he sets them free from being killed by his eldest brother, Ha Chi Nu. Of course, the sisters' mothers oppose to them together. Both are very upset over it. Sang Gor is in a worse situation than Long Tang. Ha Chi Nu's wife, Doi Ma, is interested in him and wants to elope with him. Ha Chi Nu is jealous of him of the fact being the emperor's most favourite son and having more military power.

The Ha Hou family finally gets Emperor Wai out of the Kam camp. This is done when Long Tang decides to get close to the Kam emperor to save them. The old emperor is overjoyed to have him back and doesn't suspect his intention. Long Tang is actually torn between the thought as he feels a bond towards his natural father after living together for long. However, he still carries out the plan. The Kam emperor is upset to know the truth and tells him to leave. Equally upset, Long Tang leaves with the Ha Hou family.

Long Tang marries Cui Ying, to the dismay of Chi Ying. Later, Chi Ying is injured in an attack. Ha Chi Nu pretends to be injured and is an outcast by the Kam emperor. Long Tang trusts him although the others don't. One night, he kills Chi Ying and muffles her mouth to prevent her from screaming. Emperor Wai is killed too. The other members are upset over it. Some sisters suspect their second mother of the act as her ex-lover is the Kam emperor. In a rage, she leaves the family.

Choi Ying suspects Ha Chi Nu of the act. She hides the whole family in another place without Ha Chi Nu's knowing. Indeed, she finds out that he is still on good terms with the emperor. But it is too late for her to tell the others. She is killed by Ha Chi Nu after several rounds of torture and her corpse is being displayed at the beach to lure the rest out. Long Tang knows the other sisters will have no chance of getting it back. He steals it back after begging for forgiveness from the Kam emperor.

Sang Gor pretends to promise to elope with Doi Ma to save the first prince. She tries to poison Ha Chi Nu but fails. Ha Chi Nu is furious when she refuses to reveal her lover's identity. He chops off her arm and banishes her from the palace. Sang Gor feels sorry over her plight and knowing that his brother detests him all along, he leaves the palace. He marries Lam Ying and both stay in seclusion. Sang Gor cannot bring himself to go against his country while Lam Ying is willing to give up everything for him. Hung Ying and Cui Ying are upset over their decision but still give them their blessings. Doi Ma is enraged of being made use of and secretly plans her revenge.

Hung Ying is nearly killed by Ha Chi Nu and her skills are completely destroyed. Zhuk Sui shields her and gets killed. Hung Ying regrets for not treating her husband well and finally address herself as 'Mrs Zhuk' when seeking refuge in a nunnery. All along she has forced her husband to be named 'Ha Hou Zhuk Sui'. Hung Ying sets up a trap for Ha Chi Nu but she gets killed instead.

Cui Ying is devastated when her two mothers try to stop Ha Chi Nu from killing her. The first prince dies too in the attack. Her second mother is back to protect her in secret after knowing the deaths of the other members. She dies in peace when her innocence is cleared. Ha Chi Nu finally kills the Kam emperor to be the new emperor.

Cui Ying tells Lam Ying about the situation. Lam Ying is determined to seek revenge but Sang Gor is not. He is too upset over his father's death that he seeks to drinking. Long Tang is equally sad but he consoles Sang Gor to seek revenge for their father. The two brothers decide to join forces. Ha Chi Nu's army is ambushed in Doi Ma's attack. Not a man is spared and he is no longer in power. He hates Doi Ma for it but cannot find her anywhere as she is a master of traps.

Doi Ma still hates Sang Gor and Lam Ying for her disability. She pretends to be Sang Gor and arranges to meet her in a hut. When Lam Ying walks in, she knocks her out with a pole and ties her up. She tells her that soon there will be no more painful experiences for her. Lam Ying is frightened but she cannot free herself and her mouth is covered. Sure enough, a tragedy strikes later, Sang Gor comes in search for his wife. He opens the door of the hut and the arrow that is tied to a trap hits Lam Ying on the chest.

Sang Gor is shocked to see this. He hurries to her but she dies before saying anything. He turns around and sees Doi Ma. Doi Ma replies that she is happy to see him kill his loved one with his own hands. Sang Gor is so angry with her but before he can do it, she runs away.

Long Tang and Cui Ying are sad to see Sang Gor in despair after Lam Ying's burial. Later, Doi Ma lures them out but they can't move close to her as she has set many traps up beforehand to protect herself. She tells them about Long Tang's whereabouts and sure enough, the two brothers find him. They defeat him and are about to kill him when he begs for mercy. Being soft-hearted, they let him go but are instead attacked by him. He is about to strangle them to death till Cui Ying manages to shoot him to death with her spear.

Long Tang and Cui Ying try to persuade Sang Gor to return to their home with them but he refuses. He intends to be a wanderer after paying respects to Lam Ying. He is shocked to see her grave destroyed. He anxiously pulls off the cover to be injured by Doi Ma's knife. He demands to know what happened to Lam Ying's body but the answer is a harsh one. Doi Ma has burned her corpse and scattered her ashes at sea. Doi Ma then kills herself, saying that she has taken sweet revenge since Ha Chi Nu is dead and Sang Gor is dying by her side. But to her dismay, Sang Gor still crawls away from her far before his death.

Long Tang and Cui Ying finally learn of the evil younger prince's motive. They are enraged that the whole family dies for nothing. They want to kill him but are killed by arrows instead.

Comments:
Ng Wai Kok and Yip Yuk Hing become an item after this serial. We can see how close and how much chemistry they have in the serial. They are really compatible in looks. It is a pity that they are not married in the end. This is the first time that ATV really spent money on the actresses' dressing and hairstyles. The five main actresses look pretty and elegant in their outstanding costumes. Even the Kam's costumes are impressive -- even nicer than those seen in "Heroine of the Yang"!

Yuen King Dan looks stunning cute with two ponytails and a rainbow outfit and is convincing as the youngest sister, Choi Ying. She is the most outstanding among the rest in her acting. How I wish that she is given a major role instead! She plays the intelligent and adorable Choi Ying very well. Yip Yuk Hing's character is too soft towards the end. I don't believe that Lam Ying can tone down after marriage as it doesn't suit her personality. Ng Ning is more impressive as Cui Ying who has a strong character.

One flaw may be the actresses are a bit raw in their acting. They are good in portraying the fierceness but it is a torture to see them in emotional scenes in the end. They can't cry, especially for Tsui Mun Wah. When Lam Ying dies, she is supposed to be very vicious-looking but what she shows is only a crooked mouth and little expression! AND I thought that she should act better than the rest since she has been in "New Adventures of Chor Lau Heung" before this! Doi Ma's headgear is so elegant that it looks well on her. But too bad it doesn't complement with good acting.

Poon Chi Mun is too old as Long Tang. AND too haggard-looking too! I can't bring myself to believe that the two pretty sisters can fall for him. Talking about war strategy, Long Tang can't be compared to his two brothers too. What do they see in him that attract them?

Wong Shu Tong makes a very good villain here -- making you disliking him all the time. I must give credit to Kwan Wai Lun here. He manages to play the penpecked, long-suffering husband Zhuk Sui very well. Although all the women treat him as a slave, he is kind to forgive them every now and then. Even taking up the job of a chef to cook delicious food for them. It is quite sad to see him die in protecting Hung Ying, showing his deep love for her although she often hurts him by calling him a coward.

Of course, Ng Wai Kok still gives a very impressive performance. I think it should be due to his years of acting experience. The dilemmas that Sang Gor faces constantly are done convincingly. I like the scene that he kills Lam Ying accidentally the most. The alarm when he discovers that a mistake is made is so real. He is about to pull the arrow out from her chest to treat her injury when she suddenly dies. He stops, hugs her and cries. I feel so sorrowful when watching this scene -- it is so tragic that Lam Ying does not say anything to him before her death.

This scene is so tragic when he puts her on the bed and looks at her fondly. But the fierce expression that he wears when turning around and facing Doi Ma later is so scary! His look is scarier when meeting Doi Ma the second time and still unable to finish her off. The way that he clenches his fists to see her running away is very really horrifying. If looks can kill, this is it!

Conclusion:
I wonder why it is called the Golden Phoenix -- is it because all the actresses are dressed in different colours? It is however weird that none of them is wearing a golden dress at all!

Just like other ATV serials, it loses steam in the end. It has a lively and interesting starting but a horrible ending. I HATE the ending. Must all die? Why can't the women succeed in their mission in the end? Why can't the women call the shots in the end? I really miss their absence in the end -- no more quarrels or close dialogues delivered anymore. This is very lacking. Is this what the producer want?

Not to expect good fighting scenes here -- I think ATV ran out of money and thus many movements are very simple and basic.

This serial is still watchable as the front part is pretty interesting. But male viewers might not like to see men being bullied here, especially on the part where Zhuk Sui is called. Too bad the pace isn't consistent.

sukting's Ratings:
On acting:* * 1/2 (Scale of 5)
On the story: * * *(Scale of 5)

Screenshots: Original poster from PictureTrail


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