Tian Shen Wu Cai


Reviewed by: sukting

September 17, 2014

Rating: three

How long
35 episodes

Foreword
We have seen Ngai Chun Kit and Ou Yeung Chun Wah act in many TVB dramas. How do they do in a Chinese production? This talks about how an ignorant and lazy man survives in court based on his wits and connections to turn over a new leaf. 


Story/Introduction on characters

1. Liu Yi Qing – Ou Yeung Chun Wah
He is a good for nothing who only wants to play with crickets. In the end, he loses lots of money in their battles. In order to make sure that he doesn't squander his property away, the emperor confiscates it to force him to work for him in court. His lack in knowledge makes others despise him but his intelligence makes it a breeze for him to get through everything even though he knows no martial arts.

By chance, he is forced to join the righteous sect. After knowing the struggles in court, he resigns from his post to retire in his hometown to do more for his folks.  Still, he is unable to change his habit of playing with crickets so his wife and stepmother are always after him. This is no different from Chun Wah's usual comic roles with his trademark cheesy smiles.

2. Emperor Zhu Zhan Ji  – Ngai Chun Kit
He is a playful emperor who likes cricket matches too to sneak out of the palace. He befriends Yi Qing through a cricket match. Admiring his talents, he gets him to work in court as his spy. Still, he knows how limited he can be so he also gets other spies to help him. He has two wives but has a headache to divide his love between them. He is actually wise under his playful nature and all works accordingly to his plan. Chun Kit maintains his standard and he is at his best when acting opposite Chun Wah.


3. Xiang Ruo Lan – Gao Bei Bei
She is Yi Qing's stepmother but treats him as her own. She wants him to study and do well but he disappoints her. Thus, she keeps kicking him with her shoe when she gets her chance. When both are in the palace, she also gets attention as she knows how to please Concubine Sun. She is unable to part with her son and follows him everywhere even if there is danger.

4. Ju Ying Ying – Liu Ting Yu
She is the daughter of Gong Xi. Not only is she an expert in producing porcelain, she is also good in martial arts. When her father is framed of treason, she gets injured trying to save him. The emperor rescues her and gets her to heal at Yi Qing's home. She develops feelings for Yi Qing to teach him martial arts but he is poor in it. She also works for the emperor to ensure that the villains are being punished. She acts quite well and is agile in martial arts scenes. All might mistaken her for Yip Hsuen as they look alike.

5. Si Ma Rong – Yang Ya
She is the leader of the righteous sect, wanting to overthrow the emperor. She is like an elder sister to Ying Ying. On the surface, she opens an escort agency to also earn a living. In fact, her father is the previous emperor killed in war so she is the emperor's cousin. She forces Yi Qing to work for her but he has never betrayed the emperor.


She likes Zhuo Fan for a while but later buries her love after knowing the kind of man he really is. The emperor gets her to stay in the palace after resolving their feud. She disbands the sect and obeys him. She looks like singer, Li Wen and acts natural too when disguises as a man.

6. Zeng Zhuo Fan – Wang Xiang Hong
He is Yi Qing's study companion who is smart. He is like a brother to Yi Qing – Yi Qing buys the best stationary for him to sit for exams till Pei Ying kills herself. Thus, he wants to seek revenge and leaves home. He becomes a top scholar and gets to be the magistrate. Now his post is superior than Yi Qing and he bosses him around. Even though Pei Ying is later found to be alive, he will not stop picking on Yi Qing. He even tries to kill Yi Qing but kills Pei Ying accidentally.

He is on his heels to pursue Yi Qing's blood all the time to even work with Zheng. Later, he gets killed but dies peacefully in Yi Qing's arms after knowing his mistake. His acting is definitely so much better than the way he acts in 'Wind and Cloud'.

7. Wang Zheng – Ng Ting Yip
He is in charge of all the eunuchs and gets the emperor's trust. He deceives him to expand his power in court. He also frames Premier Sun for pocketing money from the inferior porcelain pieces sales to make the two keep on going against each other. His only love is Empress Hu. He is disappointed that she betrays him to want to return to the emperor and kills her in a rage.


He is on the run after helping Empress Hu to deceive the emperor so he tries to work with the righteous sect. However, they will not buy it. So he takes matters into his own hands. Luckily, Yi Qing traps him to get killed by the soldiers. Brilliant performance from Ting Yip. He makes this evil man come alive.


8. Concubine Sun – Xie Wen Xuan
She keeps wanting affections from the emperor and she gets her wish. Premier Sun has chided her for being too aggressive but she believes to stabilize her position. She gives birth to their son and doesn't believe that he is stillborn. Sure enough, her instincts are right and she seeks redress.

9. Xiao San Yuan – Zhu Ke Xin
She is a member of the righteous sect who loves gambling. Rong sends her to shadow Yi Qing everywhere. She also acts like Ruo Lan's companion. It is later found that she is actually a top constable sent to protect Yi Qing's family to help them escape when they get into trouble.

10. Empress Hu – Miao Zhe Wen
She gets anxious when she is childless for a long time. She feels worse when Concubine Sun gets pregnant and lies to be in the same condition too. She also pretends to be in labour when it happens to Concubine Sun. She has secretly bought another baby but he is suffocated to death when being sneaked into the palace. Zheng tells her to switch the babies at birth.


The emperor investigates the truth and traps the two. Empress Hu pushes all the blame to Zheng to save her own skin. She refuses to flee with him even though she is banished to the cold palace as she hopes for a comeback and does not want to live in poverty. That is how she gets killed.

11. Zhang Shan Ren – Zhang Xiao Ming
He is the emperor's eunuch who secretly helps Yi Qing all the time. He is often with the emperor when they are out of the palace.

12. Premier Sun – Kwan Ching
He is loyal to the emperor but is irked when he is halfhearted when in court to be under Zheng's control. He is thrown into jail when the emperor is misled. Luckily, Yi Qing finds evidence to release him. They join forces to get rid of Zheng when he gets control of the troops later.

13. Ju Gong Xi
He is Ying Ying's father who is in charge of porcelain making. He is very dedicated to his job but is framed by others. He nearly gets beheaded but luckily, the emperor rescues him. Thanks to him, the emperor also manages to eliminate the greedy officials. He is interested in Ruo Lan and both are often together due to their children.

14. Li Pei Ying
She is Yi Qing's child bride since young and is arranged to marry Yi Qing when they grow up. Yi Qing knows that Zhuo Fan likes her so he deliberately belittles her and pretending to love Ying Ying. That drives her to jump into the river but she is saved to become a dancer for an official.

Knowing of Zhuo Fan's affections towards her and being aware of Yi Qing's feelings towards Ying Ying, she chooses to stay in the nunnery. Upon knowing that Yi Qing is in trouble, she shields him from Zhuo Fan to get killed.

15. General Ma
He is in charge of the army but his troops are poorly skilled. The emperor shakes his head. He hits off well with Yi Qing to become his godson. He is like his bodyguard to protect him everywhere.

Interesting facts
This drama had top viewership and won the award at Shang Hai festival. Ting Yu was around to accept the award and sang Wong Fei's song《但愿人长久》to celebrate. She had to take leave from acting in another drama to be present.

When asked why she did not sing the ending theme《懂我的只有你》, she replied the viewership was due to the work crew and this song was dedicated to them to thank them for taking after her well. She injured her eye when filming an explosion scene and stayed in hospital for 4 days. She was so worried that she might go blind and would delay filming. Luckily, it turned out to be fine. She hoped the good luck would be transferred to 'the emperor's harem' that she was involved in.

It was Xiang Hong's first time working with Chun Wah. Chun Wah was a professional and was approachable to others. As this was a comedy, all found it non-stressful as compared to shooting other period dramas.

It was a challenge to Ting Yu to act in a comedy so she tried hard to be as funny as possible. Her role is considered有才 – capable while Chun Wah's role is considered  无才 incapable. Thus, she learned a lot from Chu Wah.  


Most favourite character
Rong, she is determined and partial. She has lots of setbacks in life due to love and also revenge but she manages to overcome all odds to be a special person.  A close second is Ying Ying who knows hot to distinguish right from wrong to protect Yi Qing.
 
Most hated character
Zheng, he must learn how to let go but he doesn't to ruin himself and others.


Conclusion
It is only an average drama. We know how most China artistes will act so initially, I do not set high hopes for this drama. To my surprise, they do quite well, especially the main actresses. They have the periodic look and act quite naturally. A plus point is 4 Hong Kong actors are involved in this drama as the main/supporting leads so they help to close the gaps.

However, we find the usual ingredients in this drama as like others. We have seen countless dramas on how emperors are being kidnapped or in danger of being dethroned. Brothers turning into enemies due to a woman. The supposedly dead person returns alive. Concubines fighting for power. The exchange of the royal babies is also another drawback. A sect with a hidden agenda – Yi Qing's story is no different from 'Duke of Mount Deer'.

The most sickening part was how they are to act as Caucasians to get information on the fake porcelain goods. Seeing them in golden wigs will surely scare you off. Chun Wah looks terrible as a foreign lady. It will be better if they avoid this scene. The drama should have stopped at 20 episodes, not 35! Why does China like to shoot long dramas?!

Sometimes, Chun Wah's usual gimmicks make me yawn. Still, it is worth your time as it is a better periodic drama than other China productions. The refreshing change is to see Chun Kit acting as an emperor. It can be unfair to him as Chun Wah gets more exposure than him as his role is more important in changing the fates of men as the ruler.


Sukting's ratings :
On acting : *** (Scale of 5)
On story : *** (Scale of 5) 


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