Romancing Hong Kong


Reviewed by: sukting

January 05, 2005

Rating: three

Foreword
Please don't be deceived by the title. The main cost is borne by a China station so I consider it a China production. This is a television serial that Kwok Fu Shing acted in after so many years. It has certain specialties - besides trying to woo tourists back after the SARS incident, it is also Wong Hei's debut drama as a villain. Will he be convincing? Will Fu Shing act well with China artistes?

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Gu Hao Min - Kwok Fu Shing
His father owns a tourism agency and he is the sole successor. He returns from abroad after his studies and becomes the CEO. On his first day of work, he offends Qi Jie who sides her subordinates for taking bribes.
To know more about the trade, he starts from scratch - to be a tourist guide. That is why he gets to know Ying. Despite knowing her for only a week, he decides to propose to her. He does it at Qing Ma bridge, which is a romantic spot for marriage proposals. Thus she agrees readily.

Within a month, his company is ruined by Ren Guang and Zhen Bang. He becomes poor within a night. He never knows why because Zhen Bang is the spy. He opens a new travel agency but Zhen Bang causes him to have disagreements with Li and this affects his love relationship with Li's sister, Ying. But these setbacks don't affect him. He works hard with Shuang's help and falls for her.

When Ying wants to reconcile with him, he takes a long time to say no to her because he discovers that he now has Shuang in his heart. Even though Ying brings him to the places they have been before to reminisce the past, he is touched but doesn't know how to relate it to her. Finally he plucks up courage to propose to Shuang but gets rejected. They only get to meet a few years later when he is viewing the night scene from Victoria Peak. She finds out from Ying that Ying likes another guy and Hao Min still misses her so she returns to be with him again. But be disappointed, no hugs or kisses - just standing beside him!

Fu Shing's acting is okay here but I can't help feeling disappointed. This character is only one-dimensional. Good, loving, hardworking and nothing else. The bulk will be more on how he tries to retrieve his company with Li's help that can be very boring at times.

2. Yu Zhen Bang - Wong Hei
Hao Min's close friend and also illegible son of Ren Guang. He has been looked down by his elder half-brothers. He has yearned to capture his father's attention but he never impresses him. He is dejected but is attracted to Shuang. He is angry that she falls for Hao Min instead. Even before this, he has sabotaged Hao Min in his business. After this discovery, he becomes from bad to worse.

He isn't totally bad at first. He has refused to help his father to cause Dong Hai's downfall. He also prevents Dong Hai from falling to his death. But in order to please his father and he can't resist the temptation of money, he agrees and his hunger accelerates. He betrays his brothers, wanting them to be caught by the police but they die instead trying to get away. He isn't remorseful over it as now he is the only son who can inherit the business now. He becomes inhuman to betray his father to land him in jail.

He joins forces with the Gus' worst enemy, Vicars to seize the company. He manages to obtain 40% and is confident that Vicars will help him with his 12%. But to his dismay, Vicars helps the Gus instead to retain their company. He pretends to be mad after committing suicide over the affair. The suicide is real, though. This is to throw them off guard but Shuang and Hao Min still take care of him. He wants to go with Shuang overseas together so he kidnaps Ming Ming to get a ransom from Li.

When his plot is revealed, he holds Shuang hostage and tries to kill her with him at the sea. He ends up drowned after trying to strangle him to death under the sea. This way is stupid, isn't it? Just do it and swim up to the surface - why end up sinking down because he is out of breath??

Wong Hei seems to be a misfit here. He usually shines in TVB roles but I notice that he isn't that comfortable working with foreign counterparts. It doesn't help when we can see his poor skin complexion due to a massive pimple outbreak. The make-up artist seemed to have forgotten to apply foundation for him. During a scene where he has a meeting with the other shareholders, he looks terrible. My parents even comment that the older Chinese artistes have better skin condition than him! He can be too superficial and fake to present this arrogant villain role. He has a lot to learn from Wan Siu Lun and Lo Kar Leung.

3. Su Li - You Yong
He is Ying's elder brother who is a successful businessman from ShangHai. He was formerly Dong Hai's partner in doing business. Hao Min's late turning up and consistent ringing on his phone by Ying makes him form a wrong impression of Hao Min bring a non-sensible man. That is why he opposes to him to be together with his only sister. His business is also hindered by Zhen Bang's schemes. Luckily, he manages to discover what kind of person Hao Min is so they join forces to form a big company.

I heard You acts as cops in most China dramas. No wonder he doesn't seem at ease being a businessman here. A businessman should have the ability to manage a company but he lacks the competency.

4. Gu Dong Hai
He is Hao Min's father who trusts others too much and is too anxious to make money. That is why his business folds up. He spends too much time on it and doesn't even think that he is wrong when his poor wife is lonely and finds him unfeeling. Mrs Gu even suggests to divorce him. Unable to face the failure, he becomes insane after being made a bankrupt and they are forced to move into a smaller apartment. Mrs Gu takes care of him and is relieved when he becomes like this because he can now spend more time with her.

He recovers and gets used to the simple life, leaving Hao Min to manage the business. You will notice that he doesn't mind the name of the company isn't the same used as in past. What matters is now they can promote Hong Kong tourism. He prefers to spend time with Mrs Gu and both enjoy the century egg porridge that she prepares every morning. Hao Min jokes that he wants to have a change of fish or chicken porridge but the two simply don't listen to him!

5. Gao Shuang - Li Bing Bing
She is in love with Hao Min at first sight. She works at the Ocean Park and she gets information from Zhen Bang to complete her work when she is supposed to meet Hao Min. Hao Min is too busy and sends Zhen Bang over. She finds Hao Min attractive and has tried to run after him secretly with no success because he walks too fast. It takes Hao Min a long time to accept her again after his breakup with Ying.

But when Ying is back, she avoids seeing Hao Min because Ying is her close friend and is too dependent on Hao Min. This causes her to suffer and she is also having problems trying to get away from Zhen Bang who pesters her repeatedly for her 'love'. She knows that Ying is weak so she suffers in silence trying to avoid Hao Min to give them the chance to be together. And being kind-natured, she and Hao Min take turns to take care of Zhen Bang when he becomes 'mad'.

Upon seeing Zhen Bang trying to kill Hao Min under the sea, she jumps into the sea to save him to give him the kiss of life and rescues him. Even though she leaves Hong Kong, Hao Min is reminded of her as he keeps her necklace that she drops at the airport before leaving hastily. Loving him, she finally returns.

She undoubtedly deserves the name of a rising star in China. She acts quite well and has adequate chemistry with Fu Shing. I am surprised that she doesn't know how to swim and yet she does the saving scene so convincingly. That is very professional of her.

6. Su Ying - Han Xue
She is willful because Li spoiled her rotten. Unlike Shuang who is completely demure, she is a tomboy and knows martial arts. I am impressed when Zhen Bang's men try to harass her and stop her from saving Ming Ming. She gives them flying kicks and steps on their chests!

She does try to please Hao Min by working in his travel agency. Under Zhen Bang's deliberate attempt, she parts with Hao Min. I don't really like her to e so insistent to patch up with Hao Min. She should let things go as sometimes it doesn't help to return to the past. This is a fruitless attempt as we can see that although he feels relaxed, the feeling isn't there anymore. She even claims to be Hao Min's life saviour.

Xue is only a newcomer so we can't be too particular with her acting. She looks a bit chubby with baby fat on the face and should have slimmed down before taking up the role.

7. Liu Ying
Su Li's wife who is an actress. She marries Li after a divorce. She is gentle but can be very bad tempered with Ming Ming because she lacks the patience. Seeing how strict she is, Li often becomes the pacifier between them. Later, Li is upset when she dies of a terminal illness.

8. Lin Ming Ming
She is a spoilt brat. She often gives Li a long of headaches in school and he has appeared ? times before the principal to settle the problems. All along, she calls him 'uncle'. She later builds a stable relationship with Li after Ying's death. Being stubborn, she refuses to admit it but Li is touched upon seeing her drawing acknowledging him as her father. Both become close after the kidnap.

9. Yu Ren Guang
He is Zhen Bang's father but all he thinks is only to make the others his scapegoat. He pins all his hopes on Zhen Bang when his other sons die in a car accident while trying to escape from the police. But he has trusted the wrong son - he betrays him and lands him in jail. He is touched when Dong Hai visits him in jail and forgives him. So he warns him to be careful of Zhen Bang who isn't as simple as he seems.

10. Qi Jie
Qi Jie is Dong Hai's employee but is angry that Hao Min oversteps her authority. So she betrays the company. She often dresses like a man in the business suit. My colleague even thinks that she is China singer, Han Hong at first glance!

11. Vicars
Vicars is Li and the Gus' business rival who sabotages them whenever he has the chance. He has wanted to harm the Gus further but the 5 banks and his company exerts pressure on him. Leaving him no choice and he has been displeased with Zhen Bang, he betrays Zhen Bang to work with them. He lands up in jail in the end because of his evil deeds.

12. Mrs Gu
Her husband is often busy with the company and she feels lonely. She dislikes him pleasing others in functions and becoming very money-minded. Thus she asks for a divorce as she can't put up with his behaviour when he wants her to attend functions with him. But after losing the company, she stays with him as she still loves him although he loses his mind. This is the happiest moment of her life as they finally have time for each other. After his recovery, both are a loving couple again.

Most favourite character/Most hated character
None, because all look so fake.

Songs
Who sang the songs - who else but Fu Shing himself! He did a good job.

Interesting facts

Many said that Fu Shing's popularity has dropped. Thus when Hong Kong tourism board approached him to be the ambassador to promote the place and to act in this drama with China artistes, he agreed readily. He signed the contract at Hong Kong Expo Centre. His manager, Siu Mei said the story was attractive and she believed that it would cause a lot of attraction. Hong Kong tourism board's support gave her a lot of confidence too. Moreover, this serial would be shown in 3 billion homes.

He had to postpone filming of two movies and his Hong Kong concerts because of this. When being asked whether the acting fee was attractive, he replied that it was fine. Bing Bing and Fu Shing's images were designed by professionals.

It was not the first time he acted in a serial but this time was like a mission to him. He had not acted in a drama for 7 years. He had been in this line for so long so it wasn't that tough to him. He enjoyed this job and this role helped to promote Hong Kong's tourism to all the Chinese in the world. Thus he was happy.

Many asked him about his love life. Of course, Fu Shing didn't reveal much about it. What happens if he is involved in a love triangle? He frowned and answered it would be tormenting. He had enough of it in the acting so he would not let this interfere his personal life. When asked when he would propose to his future girlfriend, he said he would choose Qing Ma bridge. This part was shown in the serial so all thought he was doing a free advertisement. He quickly added that it would be romantic to watch the sunset from there. Upon hearing what he said, Xue said she found the scene unforgettable so she also hoped that her future husband would propose to her there.

He was a tourist guide in the serial and also an ambassador in real life. Of course, he must introduce some places of interest to allÂ…..after acting this serial. He discovered that he didn't know a lot of things. He didn't have the answer to as how tall the bridge was and how many pieces of metal made it. He spent 2 days in the Hong Kong museum to find out the development of Hong Hong and memorized them. How did it become a commercial place from a fishing village? After getting the answer, he went to the places of interest to have a different experience. So this place is different from other shopping places.

He is a Buddhist so he strongly recommended Dai Yu San's biggest Buddhist statue as another attraction. That place is far from the city. The sky and sea are blue with trees. With the Buddha statue, it gives a peaceful feeling which is different from the usual busy life. That place is the best for reflection and rest. Many felt that he might have brought his girlfriend there secretly! After talking, Fu Shing discovered that he said too much and gave other examples like going to Nam Y and Sai Kong island for seafood, Lan Kwai Fong for drinks and Ocean Park for leisure.

Bing Bing enjoyed working with the actors. But she would not choose Fu Shing as her future husband as he is too perfect. She likes someone who is ordinary and down to earth, kind and also showing sympathy to others. She admires Fu Shing for being in this line for almost 20 years and still shows youth. He has a healthy image and is easy to get along. His character is also nice. He is always energetic while Hei often gives ideas for filming.

This serial causes S$340 million to shoot. This is the first time Hong Kong tourism board shoots a drama to promote tourism. It combines forces with Jian Qiu entertainment to shoot it. In March, it was shot in Guang Zhou and Hong Kong in April. It coincidentally hit with SARS but acting still went smoothly and they finished filming in May.

Many knew that Fu Shing loved cars. There were scenes where he drove a Porshe to Chek Chu to work. Was he interested to own it? He said there would be no motivation to work if it came too easily. He would have to pay new tax for a new car so he had no wish to own another car. He already had a few cars but the company saw that he had a hard time filming this serial. So they changed a new filming car for him.

The whole serial got the full support from Hong Kong tourism board so it introduced a lot of hot spots. For example, Shuang's workplace was in Ocean Park. The places which let Hao Min reflect his failure were at Madame Tusseul Museum and Victoria Peak. Hao Min expressed his love for Ying at Lan Kwai Fong. Ying made her wish at Lam village's wishing tree. Hao Min and Shuang developed their love in the ancient car. Plus all the other placesÂ….they had all the artistes' footprints on them.

When Wong Hei was asked on how he acted as a baddie who betrayed his friend, his response was great! This role had a sad ending. He felt restricted acting good guys. There weren't any boundaries acting as a baddie. He acted for 10 years and he had acted so many different roles - righteous guys, cute guys, gays and also baddies. There is only one which he had not tried before - that is a woman!

When asked the place to recommend for touring, he chose Temple Street. He stayed there for 5 years and he had strong feelings for it. Moreover, things were affordable there. You might have guessed - Hei would not reveal where he stays now as we know he guards his privacy fiercely.

Bing Bing complained getting mosquito bites in Ocean Park. There were 10 on her feet per day and till now, she could still see the marks. She could not withstand the hot weather too. When it was hot, her feet would swell. During the few days, she could not carry an umbrella so her feet became huge and swollen.

On the promotion day, they went to a temple at Chek Chu to pray for the serial's success. About 100 reporters from SEA came for the event. Although few fans were present, 20 bodyguards were present to ensure that there was peace when the cast stepped into the temple. When they were praying, more than 50 reporters quickly snapped the pictures. At least 3 even prepared ladders to get the best shot.

There was a scene where Fu Shing kissed Bing Bing under water. This scene had Zheng Bang holding Shuang hostage to flee by a fishing boat. Hao Min tried to get close to them but was hit by him into water.
Hao Min was forced to jump into the sea to prevent being harmed by Zhen Bang so Shuang jumped in to give him the kiss of life. In reality, Bing Bing didn't know how to swim.

The producer only knew about it on the spot. Luckily, Hei and Fu Shing were diving experts so they taught her patiently. She learned as she filmed and gave him so much stress. Others laughed at her - Fu Shing would get more involved in the scene then. However, they were impressed that she jumped into the sea, dived and saved Fu Shing all in one shoot and required no retakes. No one would suspect that she didn't know how to swim at all.

The crew enjoyed making fun of them as an item upon seeing them kissing and hugging each other. They even asked if they felt their heartbeat accelerating. They quickly explained that this was only filming.
When others teased him for being on cloud nine, he frowned. There was zero romantic element as both of them nearly wanted to shout for help. It may seem beautiful to all but he had drank a lot of water.

Bing Bing did not have enough strength as Hei and Fu Shing. Thus she was totally exhausted when she got out of water. Fu Shing would gently help her up and all teased her again. Since he was so observant and caring, was she dreamy and touched? She only smiled and didn't reply them. Fu Shing quickly diverted their attention and claimed that all of them had a hard time. So he demanded him to treat them to bird nest.

Bing Bing kept on singing Fu Shing's praises and all thought she was interested in him. Some said she even wanted him to date her. She stressed that it had not happened before. It was true that the whole crew went to his restaurant after work. Would she be reluctant to part with him? She replied yes as they had been together for 3months. The restaurant was closed after this and it was filmed in the serial. One reporter asked if he had dated her and he denied eating a candlelight dinner.

They filmed the wedding scene. It was so romantic as the authorities even got the Hong Kong police band to perform for them and 100 pairs of wedding couples to join them. Both were puzzled by the rumour. Acting involves professionalism and how can they be in love?

He told all not to worry about him. He would definitely get married by 40. He would inform all if he managed to get a girlfriend. They were so happy when filming ended. The whole crew went to the huge Buddha to capture the last scene and did their prayers there. This was the time when WHO declared Hong Kong as SARS free. The crowd started to return as life got back to normal.

He quickly made use of his lunch time to pray in front of the Buddha for Hong Kong's prosperity. The others were touched and praised him for being a good ambassador to do the praying. He smiled and said he also prayed for the rest of the crew and hoped the viewership would rise so as not to waste their efforts. 2 cameramen went to seek lots. The rest quickly told them to ask for marriage lots. Bing Bing was shy and said that there was no need to do that since it was fixed by heaven.

Fu Shing had a red bruised eye after Hei hit him in a scene. This was at Tong Lo Wan. Both acted in a fighting scene and both were too involved. Both didn't even notice it as they were too engrossed. The schedule was tight with one scene after another and the lights were dark. Only when Fu Shing changed his clothes then his assistant discovered it.

But the 'suspect', Hei had already disappeared because he was required to complete another scene. He didn't even know that he had injured Fu Shing. He had a blood shot eye and required eye drops to rest for a while before continuing. However, he could even use the eye drops to pretend to be tears to make others laugh. He even defended for Hei by saying that it wasn't painful and there was no cause for alarm.

He stressed that it had nothing to do with Hei. He might have caused it as it also happened when he became too excited or nervous. He was so happy to hit Hei earlier on as both were professional. This shot attracted many viewers to observe the shoot .Although SARS was present, the actors were so professional to sit on the floor to shoot it!

Fu Shing even came to Singapore to promote the serial in Dec 2003 when it was out on vcds and Cable Television was going to show it too. It was fast for us to watch it less than a year later when TCS showed it on television. During his promotion, Fu Shing was unhappy with reporters for saying that his popularity had dipped. Before this serial, many tv serials looked for him but he only chose this assignment to promote Hong Kong industry. He had no plans to shoot another serial in the next few years.

He appeared totally in white. He considered it a miracle that none of them contracted SARS although they didn't wear the masks at all when acting. Thus romance was hardly in the air when it was filmed. Once filming ended, they put on the masks immediately.

Conclusion

I end up admiring the Hong Kong scenery more than the acting. They are more attractive and definitely well-shot. Why is this so? Because the acting is terrible for most of them! I can seldom accept China artists' acting. Most look so stiff and stage-like to influence the Hong Kong artistes to act as bad as them.

It is a big mistake to get China artists to act as the guys' parents. One glance we know that they are not Hong Kongers. When they act, they also remind us of the fact too. Maybe it is a China production so it is a serious drama. It is not exactly on love but it touches more on the business world and also tourism. The story is extremely boring without twists or turns. Betrayal and love rivalry is nothing new to all of us.

But the ending can be an anticlimax - probably because the guys are left on their own to act. With no 'disturbance' from others, they did well in the struggling scene at sea although Zhen Bang's 'blood' flowing from the mouth looks very unreal. The wedding proposal scenes and the group wedding scenes
are romantically done. Both are the only saving grace for the whole drama.

Sukting's ratings :

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

On story : *** (Scale of 5)


Add your own review and become a featured critic on spcnet.tv!

Or, add your comments below:





Advertise on SPCNET.TV


Buy DVDs
Romancing Hong Kong

Shop Asian Fashion at YesStyle