Justice Bao


Reviewed by: sukting

May 29, 2010

Rating: two-point-five

Foreword
Justice Bao is back again. Do you wish to see how the iron triangle looks after 10 over years? It was shown over local television during afternoon time and I taped it to watch after work.

Stories

1) Hitting the emperor’s robe – 12 long episodes

Zhan Zao’s fame as ‘imperial cat’ spread far and wide. Emperor Ren Zhong (Gao Liang ) also makes him a four grade guard and allows him to enter the palace with his sword. The 5 mice do not like Zhan Zao to be called as the cat to surpass them. Thus, the youngest silk mouse, Bai Yu Tang (Tang Wen Long) steals Ren Zhong’s jade pendant to challenge Zao.

Zao goes to Xian Kong island to face the five alone. Yu Tang even wants his second sworn brother to plant explosives under the ground when he spars with Zao in the forest. Zao doesn’t wish to draw his swrod but Yu Tang forces him to do it. They start uprooting trees in the forest. (This is a wonderful sight that all should not miss.) Zao’s chivalry wins them over and they surrender themselves to the court.

Ren Zhong allows them to assist Justice Bao in checking the case of the civet cat exchanging the crown prince case. They finally find Empress Li (Wu Qian Qian). The eighth senior prince (Long Long) is Ren Zhong’s natural father and helps to lead her into the palace. Empress Liu (Fu Yi Wei) is the one guilty of the deed. She conspires the chief eunuch, Guo Huai (Gong Fang Ming) to do the exchange as her son is stillborn. She hangs herself to death.

The empress wants Justice Bao to punish Ren Zhong for being unfilial to her. There is no rule for a subject to punish the emperor. Thus, Justice Bao hits the emperor’s robe to replace the punishment so that the two can reconcile in the end.

2) the white dragon horse – 12 episodes
A soldier, Sun Qiang from Shang province steals the wealth from the commoners and the magistrate sentences him to death. Justice Bao decides to investigate further upon knowing that he is a filial son. On the way to Shang province, Zao sees bandits bullying Shen Die (Jiang Hua – she resembles surprisingly like TVB ex-actress Lam Kei Yan) and her maid Lu Zhu (Gen Nan). He saves them but doesn’t leave his name. Die falls for him.

Justice Bao discovers that all the soldiers are not paid for their hard work. Where do their salaries go? He wants to meet their general, Shen Rang (Kwan Lai Kit). Die gets too excited upon seeing Zao on the street and faints. He immediately brings her to the inn to recuperate and is shattered to know that she is dying soon. Even Che is unable to provide a cure. Upon seeing both so deeply in love with each other, he is daring to cut open her stomach to make her stay in the inn to get cured completely.

Sun Qiang suddenly kills himself and Justice Bao finds something amiss. Rang is Die’s elder brother and gives Zao the horse as their engagement gift. Rang’s subordinate, Wu Jin (Tan Jian Chang) is the killer. He was once a horse thief. He is loyal to Rang after he is being let off during a failure. Jin intends to kill Justcie Bao but Rang forbids him to as Justice Bao helps him to become a general.

Jin then sets to want to kill Zao instead as Zao has managed to get the bill of Rang’s purchases of horses. Zao doesn’t wish to kill him but is forced to. Die kneels to wants Zao to forgive Rang but Zao is helpless.
Justice Bao checks out that Rang’s weakness in loving horses cause him to steal the money. He can’t resist buying expensive and good horses. Zao is stuck but still insists to be impartial.

Rang kills himself although he has the chance to escape but he can’t bear leaving his valuable horses behind. Die is now alone and Zao intends to bring her to the capital to take care of her. But she can’t forgive him. She still makes Zao keep the white horse as she wants to belong to him forever. The sad couple has to part sadly.

3) the theft case – 11 episodes
Deng province magistrates keep on dying mysteriously despite many replacements. The new magistrate is Tang Zhen (Chan Ho Mun) who is Justice Bao’s student. Knowing that he is new on the job, Justice Bao instructs Zao to assist him and Zao gets his younger sister, Yun (Zheng Jia Yu) to be his bodyguard. She disguises as a man falls for Zhen but has to give up upon knowing that he is engaged.

They check out that the deputy magistrate conspires with a wealthy merchant, Li Kun ( Zhou Yu Lai) to make their own coins. Li Kun sends a killer, Yan Dong (Tan Jian Chang) to ambush Zhen and Justice Bao but Zao saves them on time. Yun has a hard time fending him off as no one has survived his third stroke so far. He flees upon seeing Zao.

They even discover that many other court officials are related to the case. Cheng Yuan (Wang Zheng Quan) is one of them and Justice Bao insists of killing him although he is Pang Ji’s (Song Jing Chang)’s nephew. Yan kills himself to prevent disgracing his family.

Concubine Pang (Gao Zi Fang) even wants Ren Zhong to write an edict to prevent the killing but it reaches too late to Justice Bao. Justice Bao then shows Ren Zhong the list of misdeeds that Yuan has done. Ren Zhong then tells the Pangs off for obstructing justice instead.

4) the golden dream – 13 episodes
There is an illegal golden mine near Qing province and the workers are trapped there forever. Tian Qing (Yang Chen) is also forced to work there since young when his father is harmed. The fellow workers help him to escape to get Justice Bao’s help. Justice Bao sends Zao over to check on the military camps but he himself goes to visit Prince Chai ( Zhang Xu Ting) as they are old friends.

They find nothing suspicious as the magistrate manages to keep the men at the mine. He even gets soldiers to guard them to prevent them from escaping. Qing meets Zao and he learns about the disappearance of men from Qing province. He manages to get a soldier’s card to know the military camp.

Prince Chai is the descendent of the imperial family Su. Song emperor, Zhao Kuang Ying becomes the emperor but still makes him a prince. His only son, Chai Yu (Sun Yiu Wai) is sickly when he often has difficulties breathing. He also walks with a limp after falling from a horse from young. He can’t practice martial arts from then on. He has no confidence in physicians after they fail to treat him.

Che and his senior’s daughter, Mu Rong Wan Er ( Chen Yan) meet in the palace. He has been searching for her all along after his senior’s family death in a drought. The palace has sent her in as a medicine lady since she was 14 years old. She is well versed in medicine. Che and Wan Er nurse Yu when he has an attack. Although the medicine that other physicians work for him, it is only a temporary measure and he will die soon. She is confident of nursing him back to health.

She sneers at Yu for being a weakling and he is amused that she isn’t intimidated by him. He then agrees to let him treat him. Initially, she is able to insert needles into him when he removes his clothes. She finds it hard to later when he reveals his affections for her. She manages to overcome it when he reminds her of her duties as a physician. He gives her a box of needles kept in his home seal box as a gift but she doesn’t use them, citing that she will return it to him before she returns to the palace.

Yu’s illness will need a year to recover completely but Wan Er has no intention to stay that long. She only intends to impart the methods to Chai’s family physician. She sees generals meeting Chai’s housekeeper and suspect someone being the mastermind of the mine. She reveals this to Che and Justice Bao. They finally rescue the miners with Zao’s help when he discovers the mine. Yu tells his feelings to Prince Chai so he intends to ask Justice Bao on his behalf.

Wan Er rejects the proposal as she wants to fulfill her father’s final wish to cure the sick. She will not have freedom if she gets married. Still, she finds it hard to suppress her feelings towards Yu. Justice Bao finds out that the mine’s owner is Yu through Wan Er. She discovers the seal on the treasure map has the same seal on the box that Yu gives her. The map is given to Yu by his grandfather after he walks with a limp to cheer him up. From the map, he notices the mine’s presence and thus orders the recovering of it.

He wants to build up war reserves in order to revolt to revive his empire. She is remorseful when revealing the truth to Justice Bao to get him captured but he does not blame her. They share their last moments together. He is unrepentant even when meeting Justice Bao but he realizes his mistake when reminded that his subordinates’ ancestors have the right to ask from the Chais too as they toil for them but they choose not to because they are loyal subjects.

Prince Chai uses the previous emperor’s edict to want Justice Bao to stop the execution. The edict states that the prince will be pardoned of all kinds of crimes, including death. Justice Bao still insists as Yu is the young prince and not the prince as stated in it. He is ever willing to give up his title in order to save Yu’s life and wants to kill himself. Luckily, Zhao stops him on time. Yu has repented his mistake and cites that he will feel guilty and will not survive if he kills himself.

Justice Bao has no choice as the execution has to be carried out on this day. Even though Prince Chai might be dead on the spot, Yu will be dead by the time the news reaches the imperial court. Justice Bao still chops off Yu’s head. The two old friends sigh when seeing his sad ending. Prince Chai is understanding as he knows that Justice Bao is just doing his duty. He regrets not bringing up Yu well. The imperial court sends soldiers to take over the mine.

5) killing the royal consort
The new royal consort, Chen Shi Mei (Wang Hao) gets the admiration of the princess (Jiang Hua – is the television station so lazy and can’t get another actress???) and the queen mother. His wife whom he marries in the village, Qin Xiang Lian (Chen Ting) comes with their two children. Shi Mei denies their relationship so she has to go to Justice Bao.

Justice Bao feels sorry for Xiang Lian and wants to persuade Shi Mei to accept his first wife but he sends a killer, Han Qi( ) to want to silence his family instead. Luckily, Zao saves them on time and Qi kills himself as he also feels sorry for them but he can’t betray his master. He leaves his saber that engraves the consort’s residence print on it.

Justice Bao is enraged and demands Shi Mei to see him in court. He throws his weight around as he has support from the princess and the queen mother. Justice Bao is stuck in this sticky situation when Xiang Lian laments that there is no justice in the world. Justice Bao feels shameful and throws his official hat on the ground. He chops off Shi Mei’s head and has no regrets even though this means that he will lose his post. Ren Zhong sides his decision although this implies that his own sister becomes a widow.

Conclusion

The China station is smart to rope in Taiwanese and Hong Kong artistes to act in this drama. Otherwise, I doubt many will watch it as it has so many unknowns. Relying too much on the cast can’t guarantee that the formula will still work although they do shine in their roles. Each story should have stopped at 10 or lesser instead of spanning over so many episodes. I find it very boring when everyone makes long speeches.

Another drawback is using the two stories – hitting the emperor’s robe and killing the royal consort as the opening and ending. All of us have known the stories too well from other books, dramas or movies. Why not select other stories instead? The Taiwanese 1994 version was so much better as each story is never longer than 10 episodes.

The golden triangle has not lost their acting skills but I will find it a task too much for Kar King to shoulder as Zhan Zao. He is already 50 years old and age is certainly catching up with him. It is challenging for him to act in so many fighting scenes as he has put on a lot of weight. Although the sparkle in his eyes remains, we can see that he is tired and isn’t as agile as before.

Still, it is worth watching if you go for serious and traditional dramas. You will see all speaking and behaving traditionally. Gone away are fanciful hairstyles that you might dislike to see in other China dramas. I must praise the producer for making effort to put up a good show.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : *** (Scale of 5)

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


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