A Tough Man's Love

Reviewed by: sukting

May 15, 2004

Rating: two-point-five

This is a serial Won Bin was in before he filmed ‘Endless love’. Want to see him act as an impulsive high school student? It interlinks the family relationships and also love-hate connections between them. The main focus is on the brotherly love between the 3 brothers. The story is narrated through their niece, who is their late eldest sister’s daughter.

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Xiao Gai Zi – Jin Xi Zhen ( She is as the child who goes missing and Tai Jun gets hurt after protecting her from stacks of boxes in ‘Hotelier’ )
She is young, yet mature. She is taken home by Jun Tai after her mother’s death. All dote on her and try to give the best that they can. She is really very sweet and tries hard to reduce the conflict between them to a minimal. She goes through all the happy and sad times with them. All of them patch up due to her. In the end, they are closely knitted as a family and she is happy over it.

This child actress is splendid! I believe she can go far. She is so natural in her acting. No wonder the serial is named after the character’s name. She is so adorable. Knowing that Xian Tai is stern, she uses the soft approach to appease him. I can visualize her shock and disappointment when Xian Tai loses his memory and doesn’t remember her.

Knowing that Ming Tai is bad tempered, she coaxes him like a child. Whenever Jun Tai is frowning, she also talks to him like an adult. She understands all so well to use different approaches. How can you not like her?

2. Song Ming Tai – Won Bin
He is a repeat student who still doesn’t get his high school certificate even though he reaches 22 years old. With a policeman and a teacher in the same family, what has gone wrong? He often gets involved into fights that shame his two elder brothers. He is rebellious but he doesn’t steal or harm the innocent. That is why he is often unhappy with Xian Tai for misunderstanding him.

Can you believe that their relationship can be so strained that one day, he even pees on Xian Tai's police cap when he was sleeping? That was sure a childish act!

Later, he manages to complete his studies after knowing Sheng Lan. He knows that Zhi Hui likes him but he feels that his friend is suitable so he brings them together. Ming Tai works for Dong Zhe, much to Xian Tai’s displeasure. He later knows that Sheng Lan is Dong Zhe’s mistress and decides to fight for his own happiness. He finally wins although his family opposes to him marrying someone with a dark past.

Feeling remorseful that Xian Tai loses his memory because of him, he takes good care of him. He has hoped that he will recover before discharge and is at a loss when he shows no improvement. He finally breaks the sad news when they return together. This binds the whole family together to recreate new memories for him. They open an orange orchard and work closely.

Won Bin is good in this role. He is dashing in the high school student uniform. However, we don’t get to see him wearing formal clothes because he is acting as a man from the countryside. Many worry that he might not fit into the role because he looks modern. However, they have forgotten that he grows up in the rural area. It amuses me though to accept him as a rebellious student who smokes and skips lessons. We know that he is studious in real life and even gets to study his masters in real life.

3. Song Xian Tai – Li Zhong Yuan
He is the black face judge in the family. Even his parents are terrified talking to him. They think that he is too involved in his policeman job. And sure he is – always running after Ming Tai after he creates trouble. However, this can be quite unfair as Ming Tai may not be the culprit every time. Knowing that Zhi Xuan’s father looks down on him, he works hard to get an attorney license.

When his identity changes, his ties with his family also changes when he moves out. His siblings think that he is arrogant being a high flyer. But in reality, he has to probe into Dong Zhe’s illegal activities and also prevent Zhi Xuan’s father from abusing his power as a landlord. Being a DPP means gaining easy access to their company accounts. He marries Zhi Xuan but he knows that her father will never forgive him for causing him to lose his fortune. In fact, he is so angry that he has a stroke and debtors keep coming to demand to clear the debts.

Although he is often at odds with Ming Tai, he is concerned about his well-being. After exposing Dong Zhe’s crime, Xian Tai is forced to resign. He doesn’t mind as he wishes to have a quiet life with Zhi Xuan who is pregnant. Dong Zhe vows not to let him and Ming Tai off and devises to harm them.

Ming Tai realizes that Xian Tai does everything for him and is touched. Both go for a drink and suddenly a killer tries to knock them down with his car. Xian Tai pushes Ming Tai aside to get knocked down. He only retains his memory till 7 years old and all are devastated. Ming Tai feels that his beloved second brother has returned to him because he is no longer strict with him.

Li is marvelous in this role too. The transition is great but he breezes through it. He is very convincing and in fact, I think he is better than Won Bin here.

4. Song Jun Tai - Cao Min Ji
He is the eldest brother and feels awkward to get to teach his own youngest brother, Ming Tai in high school. many wonder why he is such a failure. He is a caring brother but he doesn’t show favouritism.he often punishes him when the need arises. But Dong Zhe and Zhi Xuan’s father cause him to lose his job. Xian Tai manages to save him when he is kidnapped by Dong Zhe and even helps him to get his job back.

I pity this elder brother. He has two quarrelsome brothers. His mother is a drunkard and his father is also bad-tempered. It is hard for him to rule the family with an iron hand.

Knowing that his wife is difficult to conceive, he grieves but still consoles her. Although he has no children, he treats Xiao Gai Zi like his own daughter. That is why she likes him most and declares him as her top favourite uncle.

This actor is an unknown but he is very good. I wonder why he isn’t famous although he resembles Park Yong Ha in looks. The thick framed glasses is probably to project his image as an elder brother.

5. Pei Sheng Lan – Piao Zhi Ying
She has a dark past of having a child out of wedlock with Dong Zhe. Dong Zhe ditches her to marry an underworld boss’s daughter. After getting his fortune, he returns to look for her. Actually he doesn’t like her that much as his son, Ying Qiu. He makes her his woman again just to clean his image and put up a fatherly image to run election for MP.

If not for here, Ming Tai will continue to be mistakened by Xian Tai. One day, there is a burglary and a jewellery shop has some jewels missing. Xian Tai thinks that Ming Tai is involved and arrests him. However, Sheng Lan proves that he is at her coffee shop at that time so Ming Tai is released. From then, they get to know each other.

Sheng Lan is upset and when she tries to leave him, she gets beaten up to be hospitalized. After he is jailed, she leaves Ming Tai to settle in another town to open an eatery. She has decided not to get involved with men again. But Ming Tai’s sincerity moves her as he still doesn’t give up searching for her after a year. So both are together again.

6. Xu Zhi Hui – Li Yao Yuan
She is Ming Tai’s childhood friend and wants to be his girlfriend. However, she realizes that his friend is a better choice after a long wait and gives him up.

7. Piao Zheng Xi – Yi Zhi Yuan
Her mother resembles Grandfather’s ex-lover. Grandfather is grateful to her mother for saving his life and tries to repay their kindness. So he treats her like his own daughter. She is slightly dull witted so her mother worries over her future. She falls for Xian Tai although he treats her like a younger sister. Her mother marries her to a drunkard despite her protests. She has a hard life and runs to their home again. The family treats her well and pays her husband a lot of money for her freedom.

8. Li Dong Zhe
He is involved in the illegal business and is ambitious. He gets a lot of alimony after his divorce. It is only at this time when he thinks of Ying Qiu and Sheng Lan. He looks for them and attempts to use his money to tempt them. When this tactic fails, he works on Ying Qiu. When he finally gets them, he is arrogant of his success and often belittles Ming Tai. When his crimes are exposed, he is imprisoned. But he still sends spies to observe Ming Tai and Sheng Lan. Upon knowing their romance, he is jealous and vows to ruin them, including Xian Tai who causes his downfall.

9. Ying Qiu
He is simple who doesn’t ask much in life. But having a father makes him happy and excited so he can forgive all his wrong doings. He is very close to Xiao Gai Zi so even though Sheng Lan asks him not to reveal his whereabouts, he still writes letters to her. He really wishes Ming Tai to be his father later. Xiao Gai Zi knows his intention and thus gives the address to Ming Tai so that they can reunite.

10. Jin Zhi Xuan
She is rich but doesn’t look down on the poor. She opposes all odds to be with Xian Tai. Although Xian Tai shoulders all the blame, she doesn’t leave him. She takes care of her father when he has a stroke, trying to make him forgive Xian Tai. She is the person who is most upset over Xian Tai’s memory loss but she bravely faces the ordeal. She later gives birth to a son who brings joy to the family.

11. Grandfather - Piao Gen Xing
This man cannot tell from his dream or reality. He sees Zheng Xi’s mother and is unable to suppress his special feelings for her just because she resembles his ex-girlfriend. He doesn’t love Grandmother that much but still marries her. Both have conflicts because of her too. I really laugh when their children plan their marriage again to celebrate their 40th anniversary after knowing that they have not gone through their customary marriage during the war period.

12. Grandmother - Yin Min Zhen
She is unreasonable but she does everything for her family. She knows that only Xian Tai can accept Zheng Xi as a younger sister but the rest don’t. So she tries to marry her off early. But upon seeing how she is ill-treated, she gets her back and treats her better.

Interesting Facts

Won Bin had to cut his long hair which he had kept for 15 months. He was reluctant to part with it and wasn't used to the crew cut at first.

He was later turned into a nervous wreck because of 2 reasons. No. 1, he had to act with many experienced artistes. No. 2, Gen Xing made him hysterical. Before the cameras start rolling, Won Bin was sitting at a corner of the resting room reading the script.

Gen Xing saw this and asked him how many times he needed to read it per day. Won Bin replied twice. The old man nearly jumped -- he exclaimed. ' What? How long have you entered showbiz? Only twice??' Won Bin was speechless and was more diligent later on. However, he still could not avoid having the fear in him acting with the rest who had so many years of acting experience.

This was the first drama which he tried to shy away from the usual idol drama image. It was successful for him and thus he rose to greater heights to be involved in 'Tale of Autumn' after this. He was grateful to the cast here for helping him to sharpen his acting skills.

Many had thought of Won Bin of a good looking actor who can't act but he managed to change their impression in here. Many loved his student look as they thought he looked dashing and surprisingly young in the high school uniform. That led to his success in 'Tale of Autumn' later.

The acting is acceptable for all but what I like is the brotherhood relationship. The 3 actors really show their charm in here. I like the last part when they bring him home and the three brothers sleep together again, which they have not done for many years. They have a nice chat and resolve all differences. Although Xian Tai falls asleep the fastest, the other two make sure that he is covered with a blanket. Ming Tai even touches his face gently and bursts into tears upon seeing how haggard he has become.

If you can stand the slow moving pace, you may try this drama. It did not stated the time period but I guess it should be in the 80s. Even Won Bin fails to attract me at times. The producer is simply too greedy to introduce too many subplots into the drama. But somehow, it tells of how to communicate among family members appropriately and not to exercise judgment too quickly.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : *** (Scale of 5)

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

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