Who is the Winner II


Reviewed by: sukting

June 29, 2009

Rating: three-point-five

Foreword

ATV came up with the sequel after the success of I and also due to viewers’ request. ATV even took the crew to shoot in Tai-O, Macau and Malaysia’s Genting Highlands. The elaborate sets open their eyes to the world. Unlike I which is based more on the family, II throws everyone into another world of revenge and loyalty. It looks more like a Mou Hap drama that is equally attractive like ‘I’.

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Shek Chi Hong – Chan Ting Wai
He is a No. 1 in the gambling world. He is a genius in gambling but prefers a quiet life. He is intelligent, friendly and forgiving. However, he can’t change his own destiny as long as he hasn’t retired from the gambling world. His helping in Tin Ding winning over Mun Long causes Kar Wai’s death. Since then, he gets disillusioned in life. Even though Kar Wai is no longer beside him and her watch is damaged, it never leaves his side. He still gets tense when he drops it.

The final battle against Fung and Tin Ding – Chi Hong wins so he can kill the two. Sek Yu stops him from seeking revenge for Kar Wai, reminding him that he owes her his life so she takes Tin Ding away. When he is about to kill Fung who kills his foster mother, Bik Wah, Ying also stops him. Chi Hong starts to feel that those around him are only making use of him.

Upon learning that Shun is eyeing his casino and is starting to win over Kar Choi, Chi Hong hurries back. He wins but also faints as he is physically drained. After he recovers, he is with Sek Yu to enjoy their last moments in Malaysia before parting. This is definitely one of Ting Wai’s best performances. He is so convincing in crying over Kar Wai’s deaths and coping the loss for others. The gambling scenes are brilliant too.

2. Cheung Kar Wai – Man Yee Mun
She is Chi Hong’s wife. She is gentle and also cheerful. She is his strong aide and both are a loving couple till tragedy strikes. Both are holidaying in Malaysia when Tin Ding seeks Chi Hong’s help to deal with Fung. She is killed when trying to tell Chi Hong that Tin Ding has cheated him and both are separated forever. Chi Hong loses all hopes in life and hides in Tai-O.

3. Hung Fung – Ng Yik Jeung
He is Ying’s younger brother who is wicked and ruthless. He is reputed to be among the top 3 but he isn’t satisfied till he becomes No. 1. He is not forgiving and yearns to seek revenge even if it means that he has to escape from jail. His father is killed by Tin Ding so he gets Mun Long to help him. He loses and this indicates that he must lose his life. He refuses to give in and is shot in the head.

As the operation endangers his life, he refuses to take it out and keeps injecting morphine to reduce the pain. Shun and Zoi Shang are constantly after him. Cheuk’s men save him and he becomes her slave. He endures so as to seek revenge in future. Ying feels that Fung owes Chi Hong too much so he twists one of his arms. Upon knowing that he has killed his unborn child by killing Lan, he is in anguish. Tin long persuades him to become a machine to deal with Chi Hong. He agrees without consideration.

He comes to seek trouble at chi Hong’s casino. When Ying loses to him, he cuts off his finger wickedly. Chi Hong takes up the challenge upon seeing him so unfeeling. He is of no match against the crystal chip in his brain and Fung is about to kill him. Luckily, Mun Long comes on time and defeats him. Fung can’t accept this and all the crystals break to pieces. He then dies in Ying’s arms. A bit exaggerating at times but it is necessary as he is the catalyst to the plot. Without him, all the others will lead a quiet life.

4. Cheung Sek Yu – Tsang Wah Sin
She is Tin Ding’s only daughter who is strong-willed and capable. Sporting a short hairstyle, she loves and hates clearly but her protection towards her father is above all. Knowing that Tin Ding kills Kar Wai, she doesn’t hesitate to become his hostage to assist him to get away. She wants to commit suicide to force Chi Hong to let Tin Ding off but he refuses as he must revenge Kar Wai’s death.

Knowing that Chi Hong has trouble continuing the mahjong shop, she buys over the land lease to let him develop it. She even breaks ties with Tin Ding, using television commercials to lure people to the mahjong shop to steal business from Tin Ding’s casino. That causes all to trust her completely when they later have funds to open a casino. Tin Ding ruins her chances to be with Chi Hong.

Tin Ding gets the Indian gambling king to challenge Chi Hong . Chi Hong is at Tai-o with Ying then so the ill Sek Yu takes over. She wins but faints. Chi Hong takes care of her and reveals his affections to her. She rejects as his hatred for Tin Ding is too great. Later, her hatred for Tin Long becomes too great. She tries killing him but fails so she stays beside him, waiting for a chance to kill him.

Sek Yu lies to Chi Hong that Kam Fong’s last wish is to want him to gamble with Tin Long. Chi Hong agrees as he loses everything in life. The same thing that happens to Fung happens to Tin Long after he loses to Chi Hong. Upon knowing how Sek Yu cheats him, he refuses to forgive her as she is so cold-blooded and both go separate ways. This is the first time I see her in short hair. She also does her role well as the filial but revenge-seeking daughter

5. Cheung Tin Ding – Yeung Kuan
He seems trustworthy and reliable as an honest gambler. But in reality, he is a creep. To protect his own position, he can betray his friends. Fei tells Chi Hong that Kar Wai is shot so he gets people to silent her. he is in despair when gambling with Chi Hong when he proves to be superior and even better under Ying’s guidance. He is smart to get the gambling judge to brush off their feud openly. Chi Hong and Hung are not pacified but has to give in under pressure.

He wants to be the head of the gambling society but Chi Hong and the other members oppose it. Since his loss to Chi Hong, he wants to win everything back. Shun pretends to kidnap Sek Yu, luring him to gamble with Tin Long. He loses and is sneered. He loses all hopes in life when loses to Chi Hong later and kills himself. Sek Yu wants Chi Hong to help to seek revenge but he refuses .

6. Niet Mun Long – Chun Pui
After Chi Hong causes him to become mad, he gets more involved in gambling. He can’t remember his past but gets along well with Kar Choi. Kar Choi treats him like his teacher upon knowing that he has heart disease. Mun Long meets Ying by chance and gambles with him. This helps him to recover instead. Mun Long accepts Tin Long’s challenge to make his first comeback. He gets Chi Hong to gamble with him so that he can get his confidence back but Chi Hong is unable to face gambling again.

It is the big day and Chi Hong is also leaving for Australia with Kam Fung. Knowing that he can’t leave Man Long alone, he turns back. Man Long has lost and drinks the poisonous wine to keep his promise. He dies in Chi Hong’s arms after returning to the casino to look at it the last time.

7. Dik Shun – Lui Chung Hin
He is cheerful and also alert. He is also Tin Ding’s capable assistant. He is also calm in gambling and seldom makes mistakes. He knows psychology and thus he often wins at the gambling table. He loses his importance when Tin Ding’s casino loses business to Chi Hong’s mahjong shop. So he learns evil skills instead in order to get attention. He softens upon seeing how Tin Ding and Sek Yu suffer. He is later gased to death when he loses a match with Tin Long.

8. Hung Ying – Ko Hung
He is Fung’s elder brother and loves gambling in the past. Now, he is a chef in Tai-o. He is a quiet person and goes into gambling research. Thus he can combine gambling and cooking together. He helps Chi Hong to face reality during his darkest period. He rescues Fung from Ting Ding when he suffers from a migraine. Knowing that there is no cure for him, he gets very upset.

9. Cheuk Lan – Suet Lei
She is pretty and witty as Bik Wah’s assistant. She catches Fung cheating at the casino ship. He humiliates her after winning her so she doesn’t want to forgive him. She doesn’t trust men and is wicked towards them. She is betrayed by her boyfriend and sold her to Bik Wah. But Bik Wah treats her as her daughter as she is very grateful to her.

Upon getting the chance to save Fung from Tin Ding, she keeps being sarcastic to him. He pretends to be her driver but wants to make use of her to make a comeback. He frames her so that he will gain control of the casino ship. She turns to work for Tin Long but releases Fung. Fung doesn’t trust her and kills her. It is then he discovers that she is pregnant with his child.

10. Lau Miu Lin – Ng Wing Mei
She is very open in her feelings. She depends on small tricks and her beauty to survive in the gambling world. She is able to give up everything because of love. She hides in Ying’s home as she is not on good ties with Miu Chu after offending the underworld. She tries fixing Chi Hong’s watch back but to no avail and falls for him. But we all know how boring Chi Hong is and is very unsuitable for her. She falls for Shun instead when he saves her. She leaves Hong Kong after his death.

11. Lau Miu Chu – Yau Yuet Ching
She opens a store but wants to revive their family mahjong shop. She is determined to run it well. She is strong and direct like a man. Knowing that Chi Hong’s damaged watch is expensive and they can’t afford, she sells off their store to pay him back. Chi Hong knows that they have tried their best so he helps her to open a mahjong shop. When the underworld harasses her due to Miu Lin, Chi Hong settles for her by winning. She has her wish granted but also leaves Hong Kong with Miu Lin after all the sad happenings.

12. Chan Kam Fung – Lee Heung Kam
She is Chi Hong’s mother who has been overseas all along. Upon knowing that Chi Hong is going to gamble with Tin Long, she hurries back to stop them, letting them know that they are father and son. But Tin Long doesn’t believe her and beats her to death.

13. Lau Kar Choi – Cheung Kar Fai
He is the sister’s youngest brother. He initially looks upon him as his love rival and damages Kar Wai’s watch. Later, Chi Hong nearly goes berserk when his wedding tape is trapped in the VCR player and he can’t watch it anymore. He is interested in gambling and learns some tricks for Chi Hong. Chi Hong discovers that he is quite talented.

Tin Ding arranges Shun to gamble with Chi Hong. Tin Ding kidnaps Chi Hong on the eve of the gambling match. Miu Chu has no choice but to push Kar Choi all. Kar Choi uses what he learns from Mun Long and wins Shun. Upon knowing the fact, Chi Hong brings Mun Long home to stay. He dies while trying to protect Man Long from Tin Long.

14. Miu Kar Sin – Cheng Mun Yee
Kar Choi secretly likes her but is jealous upon knowing that she prefers Chi Hong.

15. Uncle Six – See Ma Wah Lung
He is well respected by all the gamblers and is a fair judge. He wants peace but all will not listen to him. Tin Ding even kills him to stop him from bothering them.

16. Cheng Bik Wah – Wong Sha Lei
Even though Chi Hong hides in Tai-o, Shun refuses to let him off. Luckily, Bik Wah comes to save her foster son on time. She only learns his connection with Fung when the men meet at her place. Even after Lan trusts Fung, Bik Wah doesn’t trust him completely.

17. Kam Doi Shing – Lok Tat Wah
He is Kar Choi’s buddy who helps him out in the mahjong shop. He helps Miu Chu to reconcile with Miu Lin. He is pleased when he wins money using Chi Hong’s methods.

18. Ho Fei – Wong Shu Tong
He is Fung’s loyal servant. He dies in replace of Fung to make Tin Ding believe that Fung is dead.

19. Chiu Zoi Sang – Sin King Ying
He is Tin Ding’s bodyguard and is very loyal to him. He is the only person who knows Sek Yu’s intention to help Chi Hong is to let him owe her a favour to let Tin Ding off. But he also knows that she has fallen for him during the process. He tries in vain to get her to abort her plan. Despite shun leaving Tin Ding, his relationship with him has never changed.

Ting Ding sends Zoi Sang to kill Chi Hong but he shoots Miu Chu by mistake. Feeling remorseful, he visits her in hospital. Both fall in love but he dies while shielding Sek Yu to get away from Tin Long.

20. Tou Tin Long – Fong Kong
He is the youngest sworn brother with Tin Ding and Man Long. He replaces them to be jailed and wishes to learn gambling tricks when released. They reject him, citing that he is unsuitable. He is angry and disappears for 15 years. He even changes his name, Hung to Tin Long. Tou means kill ‘Tin’ Ding and Mun ‘Long’. He is the one who instigates Shun to buy over the casinos when the three are busily gambling.

Tin Long kidnaps Mun Long and lures Chi Hong to the same casino that he and Man Long has gambled before. He wants to wake Man Long up. Man Long has remembered everything but pretends to be senile. Both escape from danger.

Favourite character
Chi Hong, he does so much for everyone but too bad some of them don’t appreciate him.

Most hated character
Fung, what he only wants is revenge and nothing else.

Interesting facts

Yik Cheung was involved in too many fighting and anger scenes. His chest had a deep cut as a result and only sees a Chinese sinseh. After changing a shirt, he felt that he had lost all his strength and his neck felt painful. He was then sent to hospital. Many said that he was too deeply involved in the role. He was invited to be one of the anti-smoking ambassadors for the non-smoking campaign in Singapore and was apologetic when he could not turn up. If he insisted on coming, he could develop pneumonia instead so he had to rest.

Even so, he sneaked out of hospital to complete the last scene after taking painkillers so that the drama could be aired on time. But his overly immerse in the role caused his wound to tear again and he had to be readmitted. His professionalism won praise from all.

What to do – the whole story developed due to him. He was a keen gym goer and did not slacken his practices despite the filming schedule. He simply worked too hard and he was glad to return to hospital for a nice break when everything ended. He received both Western and Chinese medical treatment.

Tin Wai was also professional. To have his full concentration in the drama, he engaged a personal assistant, forking out the money from his own pocket. This assistant took care of his hairstyle and clothes. Even so, filming was tight to ensure on task. He has tried only having his lunch at 6pm. Luckily, all were in high spirits and he knew how to avoid getting hurt from dangerous scenes.

‘Who is the winner’ was well received in Singapore so TCS bought II. Many thought that it was no different from watching movies as the gambling scenes were breath-taking. No one could forget how the poker cards flew in the rain. The producer, Yuen Yan Hong produced 3 gambling dramas for ATV but he himself did not gamble, bet on horses or play mahjong.

This drama brought back two pairs of lovers who broke up in real life to work together again. They are Ting Wai and Wah Sin, Lui Chung Hin and Man Yee Mun. The cast went to Malaysia for filming. They claimed to be friends and did not feel awkward facing each other. They left it to fate – just like the ending for Sek Yu and Chi Hong. They could be together or break up too.

Yeung Kuan was a gambling king in the drama but all laughed when he could not even play mahjong in real life. Almost all were done by a double. He should have retired long ago as his children were grown up but he was too bored in the U.S. Thus he returned to Hong Kong to work.

Suet Lee was glad that the viewership was well. She was very pressurized during filming. Luckily, she read some psychology books and was able to cheer up to prevent sinking into depression.

Tin Wai was to shoot a scene to hit the cliff bottom personally. But as the car had no license and insurance, the policemen stopped him and brought him to the police station. It was the first time he went to the police station in a police car. The policemen took good care of him and even asked if he wished to have his lunch there. He did not want to eat ‘Wong Kar Fan’ – loyalty rice so he declined.

The atmosphere was tense as if they were really shooting a drama. Some policemen who did not watch dramas even asked him which area was he involved in. ATV then settled the case for him. Ting Wai wanted to take up filming on his own as he thought there was little danger involved. But he felt indignant that he was dragged out of the car once he was seated in it! The filming continued without him when he was at the police station.

TVB showed ‘The Greed of Man’ when ATV was showing ‘II’, wanting to defeat it. “II’ emerged as the winner. What went wrong? ‘The Greed of Man’ took 9 months and HK$900million to shoot with a big cast. It even roped Wai Kar Fai back to write the story and the cost increased when he requested for Lau Chung Yan’s return. Each episode spent HK$22,000 while II’s was HK$13,000.

ATV faced a major crisis of retrenchment. Although scheduled to shoot in April 1992, it only started in July. Tat Wah and Yat Wah were too busy to accept this assignment. ATV thought of inviting Taiwanese actor, Ke Jun Xiong but was unable to afford his fees. It changed the script repeatedly and the producer had to use personal relationships to request help from a movie writer to plan the plot together.

Although II’s expenditure was slightly higher than I, it was nothing as compared to ‘The Greed of Man’. Plus lacking promotions, reporters described II as a child who was abused. But why was ‘The Greed Of Man’ having such a low viewership of 150,000 people watching it, which was even 20,000 less than ‘ Return of the Private eye’? Many felt that TVB had hurt itself instead of endangering ATV.

Oct was a crucial month for ATV. The next year’s commercials fell heavily on this drama. TVB’s 情陷特區 lost to ‘Who is the winner I’ in 1991 so TVB was sore over it. Even before ‘Who was the winner II’ was shown, TVB arranged Cheung Wai Kin’s 拳王賭至尊 and Kwok Chun On’s 賭霸 so that viewers would grow sick of watching gambling dramas.

It was supposedly to show ‘Revelation of the Last Hero’ and ‘Greed of Man’ was supposedly to be aired in November. TVB made the switch and did not want to spare ATV any chance. But they turned out helping ATV and affecting themselves instead. Wai Kar Fai analysed that it was supposedly to be shown at 8.30pm so the story was more suitable for adults.

When pushing it to a 7.30pm slot that involved more children to watch, many preferred ‘I’ as it was more like a comic and also Mou Hap drama which suited their taste. Moreover, many could not stomach ‘The Greed of Man’ storyline. The characters were very inhumane. How many can accept Cheng Siu Chau’s Ding Hai who kills non-stop like Rambo? Chung Yan also looked old with the lost-touch 70s backdrop so viewers nearly dropped it like a hot potato after seeing the illogical plots.

‘The Greed of Man’ even received complaints for the violent and undesirable killing scenes. Even most mature men also chose to watch ‘II’ as it was shown 30 minutes before ‘The Greed of Man’. If ‘Revelation of the Last Hero’ was shown instead, the result would not turn out to be so bad. Kwok Fu Shing has his own stable fans and they could have supported him.

TVB suffered a defeat while ATV had celebration treats. They also planned ‘III’ and ‘Silver Tycoon’ – borrowing a Chinese phrase, to strike the iron while it is still hot before ATV loses this appeal. But many cast doubts as the capable, Chiu Chan Keung (the person who produced ‘The Bund’) and his members who produced ‘I’ and “II’ left ATV. How would III turn out? It was not as good as stated in my ‘Who is the winner III’ review but ‘Silver Tycoon’ retained its glamour.

Fong Kong, Tin Wai, Lee Heung Kam and Chor Heung Wan came to have a min-concert in 1992 and I attended it. It was enjoyable and memorable for me as they sang really well. Tin Wai was not the gambler king but the dancing king. He learned judo, Wing Chun and Choi Lee Fat fists from young. Thus he could also dance well.

Conclusion

This shows how lack of artistes ATV was then to reuse them repeatedly. Those who are dead in I suddenly come alive in II under a different name. But if given a good script, everyone is willing to overlook that flaw as ATV has tried its best. The gambling scenes are top-notch – TVB can’t do that. It is obvious why many choose to watch this drama as gambling scenes make up 70%.

What is the difference between Chi Hong and Yik Fung in III? Chi Hong has a grown-up process which is more realistic. Yik Fung is like the swordsman from Gu Long’s novel – mysterious and hard to fathom. Still, I am fascinated by the story. I only dislike the last part of too many deaths. They can be avoided and I wish that it has a happy ending just like ‘I’.

Sukting’s ratings :

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

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


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