Mr Duke

Reviewed by: sukting

May 16, 2004

Rating: two-point-five

How long
16 episodes

This story involves a rich woman who is supposed to choose an ideal husband from a list of rich suitors who can help to enhance her family business wealth. In order to escape from the sad ordeal, she picks an average man from the streets. The poor man is transformed to act as a rich man to deceive her parents. Can they pull it off well? What happens when his identity is discovered?

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Jin Yong Min – Kim Seung Woo
He is a worker in a mineral water company. Xiu Zhen claims him to be her fiancé. He is then forced to go through all kinds of training to look and act refined. The first time he meets her is very memorable. He is forced to wear a tuxedo and Ming lies that he is his junior. The scene where he steps out slowly – Ming looks very impressed. I’m not and am disappointed instead – he’s still about the same and I feel that he doesn’t place enough gel on his hair. This makes him looks the same as Tai Jun in Hotelier.

Soon later, Xiu Zhen finds that she is being deceived. He drinks the lemon water which is supposed to be used to wash his hand. Later, he also slips his hand on the wrong plate to eat the bread (the plate of bread is not his but hers). He leaves in fury when he thinks that she looks down on him.

Mr Zhang is impatient when Xiu Zhen keeps delaying his meeting with her ‘boyfriend’. So he calls him. This man gets so shocked and confused that he agrees to meet him in a week’s time! The others are so desperate. How is he going to do it? Ai Zi trains him in table manners and also economic terms. His forged identity is Jiang Zhi Yun who is Xiu Zhen’s senior at Oxford University. He arms an economic masters degree and both his parents are university lecturers. Yong Min has a headache as he only has high school qualifications and he only has time to learn from her at night.

Have a good laugh when she teaches him table manners. He digs into the food immediately and has to be reminded that ladies go first! Later, the problem is solved when he is hardworking and is able to answer all questions correctly. Now comes the fateful day. Ming and Chang Hao contact each other with the walkie talkie at the airport. This scene is sure hilarious to match with ‘Mission Impossible’ theme music.

Yong Min walks out with others with his luggage. But upon seeing Ren Zhe, he suddenly turns back and walks backwards to hide in the checkpoint again. How can he face his boss – especially when he just received an award from him last month? What happens if he recognizes him? Chang Hao offers him his shades to go out. To his relief, Ren Zhe doesn’t recognize him as Xiu Zhen tells him that he doesn’t say anything even after looking at his photograph. But Yong Min is so nervous that he calls him boss! Yong Min is unused to sit in the big limousine.

They have planned to go to a hotel but Ren Zhe insists of sending him to their home first for dinner. Yong Min is shocked to see the big house with a huge garden. Mrs Zhang exclaims that he is more handsome in person. Ren Xue is impressed and they have a nice time during dinner.

Although Ming is kidnapped, Yong Min decides to continue the act. All goes well after ‘Zhi Yun’ leaves England and Ai Zi wants to reward him handsomely. He becomes bad tempered as he likes Xiu Zhen now. Later, Ren Xue finds out his identity. He is fired from the job. He is forced to sell green groceries on his lorry. Xiu Zhen feels bad to make him lose his job.

She sneaks out to be with him for a day. He brings her back to the small eatery and the marketplace and she enjoys it. He is amused that she still has no sense of direction of where she is and how she is going home without money. She replies that she can borrow from him.

He has no guts to declare his love for her. But after knowing that she still loves him, he rushes to the airport to try to dissuade her from leaving. But she has already gone into the customs (just like Dong Xian in Hotelier’ who is forced to leave. I wonder if the director is the same person since this production is also from MBC). But he is luckier to confess his feelings for her over the PA to change her mind. They finally hug in joy and get married. He becomes the director of the mineral water company.

Seung Woo shows that he can handle comical roles. Although he may resemble Bae Yong Jun in looks without the glasses (except that he is older and his face isn’t as thin), I still think that he is not as stunningly handsome that the others make out to be. How can they marvel as I don’t find any major change in his looks at all?

This character loses the appeal when he is hesitant to accept Xiu Zhen’s love because of the large gap in the social status. This reminds me how Tai Jun behaves when he has low self esteem too. It seems that Seung Woo is warming up his role in here for ‘Hotelier’. However, the part of him being not that highly educated amuses me. Seung Woo has double masters in real life - one of them is on acting and shows that he has the talents for studies, unlike Yong Min in this serial.

2. Zhang Xiu Zhen – Choi Ji Woo
She is tricked to return to Korea from London to know that her father has planned to marry her off to an influential man who can help to make his business prosper. All should not miss the scene when she is being match make with a minister. Choi is so pretty in here – like a princess in a beautiful gown with her hair pinned up. (Coincidentally, he is as the hateful Cui Jin Zhe in ‘Love’ as Choi’s despicable secret admirer in there) The man bores her with politics and how to gain favour with the government there.

When she mentions that the weather is windy, she expects him to say that it is nice for a romantic date. But his answer turns out to be………suitable to hold political rallies. A visit to London will not be going to River Thames but to seize the chance to know Blair and other officials. This is so funny……..and another one suitor is Ahn Jae Wook as a cameo appearance. I will leave it to viewers to find out more.

Xiu Zhen is desperate to get someone to pose as her boyfriend so that her father can stop future matchmaking sessions. So she approaches Ai Zi to find the person. She gets Ming to do the job. Xiu Zhen is angry when Yong Ming doesn’t meet her requirement. When her parents demand to look at her ‘boyfriend’s’ photographs, she has no choice but to show Yong Ming’s photographs. She never expects her parents to exclaim that he is handsome looking and matches her well in looks! When they wish to see a photograph of them together, she has no choice but to accept him.

Xiu Zhen decides to go out with him to know him better. Both don’t know what to say to each other so he takes her out, giving her a lift in his lorry. Seeing that she doesn’t even know where the seat belt is, he fastens for her. He intends to promote his drinks to the people in the park but she prefers to stay in the lorry. Some hooligans are attracted by her beauty and try to harass her. She becomes frightened and runs to Yong Min. Yong Min is jogging with some joggers to do the promotion.

Seeing her, he thinks that she changes her mind and suggests that she should exercise more. This man can be so blur, how can she run fast in her heels? He gives her a treat at a simple eatery. She is ill at ease at first but later enjoys the food. When both touch the same piece of meat with their spoons, Yong Min can let her go first as he remembers Ai Zi’s advice. He later brings her to the small market and buys tidbits to share with her. She is still not very comfortable with it.

Both later have a chat. He guesses that she has few friends since so many people follow her. Yong Min suspects her to be a doll but finds her actually okay since she agrees to eat with him in an eatery. The next day, Ren Zhe wants to bring the couple to his distilled water company. He lends Yong Min his car and wants Ai Zi to be with him so that the couple can have a silent moment. I laugh non-stop – Ai Zi so eager to be with Ren Zhe that she pushes the two into Ren Zhe’s car and gets into Xiu Zhen’s car instead.

Xiu Zhen doesn’t read the map properly and they lose their way. To make matters worse, the car wheel is trapped in the soil. When Yong Min wants her to drive so that he can push the car, she can’t drive! It is Ai Zi who ferries her around. He gives his telephone to Ming and Xiu Zhen doesn’t bring hers since she thinks she is with Ai Zi. Xiu Zhen accidentally sprains her ankle and he carries her to a shed in the rain.

Both start to like each other. Ren Zhe comes to fetch them back and they fall for each other. The next day, Ren Xue brings Ren Zhe to his car factory and is impressed by his knowledge. The fortune teller is there, saying that Yong Min has the features of getting future wealth to overcome his difficult past experience. Ai Zi is nervous but is relieved when Mr Zhang points out that it must be the difficult life that he has to adapt in England. Ren Xue lets Yong Min test drives the first car model that his company has manufactured.

Yong Min decides to have lunch with Xiu Zhen but both don’t bring their wallets. Yong Min sees his colleagues and has an idea. He and Xiu Zhen sell off the mineral water and get the money to watch a movie together. Xiu Zhen is so conscious that she takes one whole box of drinks to hide her face!

When the truth is leaked, she only knows how to cry and doesn’t know how to retaliate. She writes a letter to tell Yong Min that she is apologetic to cause all the trouble to him while he gives her good memories. She is grounded and bodyguards follow her everywhere. Being timid, she doesn’t go against her father.

However, she manages to see Yong Ming at the orphanage that both have been to. She decides to escape from home. She buys sports attire at a departmental store. Her bodyguard pays for them and she runs away. She gets on Yong Nan’s ex-colleague’s truck. Yong Min is taken aback by her casual dressing. She replies that he had told her that she needed more exercise the other time. Yong Min brings her around and she finds it so unbearable to leave him. So reluctant that she runs back to him and hugs him from the back! Later, she is moody when she is forced to have sessions with Sheng Yi.

She runs away from home again. But Yong Min contacts Ren Xue to bring her home. He doesn’t wish her to suffer with him. This hurts her and she decides to go ahead with her engagement with Sheng Yi. She also plans to continue her studies overseas. Although Ren Xue sees through Sheng Yi’s true colours to give her a choice, she still insists of leaving. However, she returns to Yong Min when he finally changes for her.

Ji Woo has never been prettier, even more stunning than in ‘Beautiful Days’ because she is like a chameleon here. When she is in sports attire with her hair let down, she is youthful looking. When she ties up her hair, she looks mature. Her perm hair gives a very modern look. However, her acting is still raw at times in crying scenes. She still looks stiff and blur in some scenes in looking innocent.

3. Xu En Er
Yong Min’s landlord’s niece who is always dreaming to get rich. She is a hairdresser and envies Xiu Zhen for getting attention and having a comfortable life. She sees the personal particulars files of Jiang Zhi Yun and thinks that this is Yong Min’s REAL identity. So she sucks up to him. But after knowing the truth, she feels sorry for the couple. She becomes down to earth to like Guang Shu instead.

4. Jiang Sheng Yi – the actor as the professional gambler Michael Zhang in ‘All In’
He is rich to be in charge of an investment company but wants to be richer. He has a mistress, but refuses to marry her because his eyes are wide open upon seeing how Xiu Zhen is driven off in a big limousine from the airport. He vows to get her from then. His business is in shambles but he still puts a forced front. He wants to get Mr Zhang’s full support but he is very wary of investments.

He can be so scheming. He calls up Yong Ming, lying that the restaurant where he is going to have lunch with Ren Xue is ordering mineral water from him. His identity is exposed. He hates arts but in order to please Xiu Zhen, he donates money to support the funds.

When Ren Xue tries to pair him with Xiu Zhen, he looks shocked to see her. He even states that his past girlfriends have to have meals with his parents as he is conservative. This is so pretentious. However, Xiu Zhen’s heart isn’t there and she is fed up with him instead. During his first meal with her family, he buys an expensive sculpture for her mother and lies that he has no girlfriend at all.

He thinks that he can finally own the castle for now. Never does he expect Ming and Chang Hao to expose him. This is sure a classic scene. Ren Zhe lies to Ren Xue that they are meeting Sheng Yi’s father in the hotel room. He is actually in bed with You Zhen at that time. Imagine the shock the three face in this situation. But I can assure you that the dismay that he shows is very outstanding!

He is offended and vows to seek revenge. He uses the photographs that Zhao has taken of Yong Min and Xiu Zhen together to blackmail Ren Xue. He wants to sell them to a news agency. So he threatens Ren Xue. To his dismay, Ren Xue decides to let him ruin his daughter’s reputation. Nothing matters to him more than the company. He then turns to Yong Min instead.

As a last resort, he tries to kill Yong Min when Yong Min tries to persuade him not to give the pictures of him and Xiu Zhen outside a motel. He is unlucky and gets caught with Zhao in his home when Ren Zhe informs the police. Both are charged with the kidnap and the tax corruption cases as Ren Xue gives all the evidence to the policemen. They land in jail.

This actor is impressive as the power hungry man. When he dislikes someone (Yong Min as a example), he will want to make sure that he is gone for good. But……some may find it hard to hate him because he resembles Jang Dong Gan in looks. He has his eyes and his sharp nose although he is older than Jang.

5. Ju Feng Zhi
Guan Shu’s enemy at first but both become good friends under Yong Min’s help. When Yong Min gives most of his assignments to others in sending the water, both guys smell a fish. Feng Zhi even thinks that he becomes a gigolo to earn the money to pay off Guang Shu’s bail. He is smart – upon seeing that Yong Min is kidnapped, he quickly gets his friends to rescue him.

6. Zhang Ren Xue
He believes very much in fortune telling. That is why he tries to marry Xiu Zhen off, believing that her birth characters will bring luck with the right man. Never does he expect that Xiu Zhen gets Yong Min to trick him. Even before meeting him, he shows Yong Min’s photograph to the fortune teller. The old man exclaims that he shows authority through his face features. But upon looking at his eyes and the hands that hug Xiu Zhen, he frowns. His eyes are not focused while his hands show that he serves others!

But the fortune teller’s prediction is really true. After knowing the truth, he keeps tabs on Xiu Zhen and still arranges marriage sessions for her. He is angered when Xiu Zhen still sees Yong Min secretly but warns her that there is no way she can change her destiny.

When he knows that Sheng Yi deceives him, he is very disappointed to know that Sheng Yi is only interested in the business and not his daughter. Although he is a successful businessman, he truly cares for Xiu Zhen and wants the best for her. He decides to step down when Sheng Yi threatens to blackmail him of spreading the news of Xiu Zhen’s association with Yong Min. He even leaves the post to Ren Zhe on how to help to reduce the impact to the minimal. But later, he decides not to give in to him.

When Ren Zhe tells him that Yong Min gets the photographs from Sheng Yi at the risk of his life, he is touched. Upon seeing how well Yong Min treats an ailing Madam Su, he changes his poor impression of him and gives the couple his blessings.

7. Mrs Zhang
She also believes in getting a compatible son-in-law. She is angry with Xiu Zhen for deceiving her too and also monitors her movements. She is also a power hungry woman.

8. Piao Ai Zi – Cui Lan (she is as Zhang Mei Lan in ‘All In’)
She is Xiu Zhen’s capable secretary. She is secretly in love with Ren Zhe. Knowing that he cooks instant noodles at night and doesn’t wish to trouble the servants, she wants to join him and Xiu Zhen for supper. But she is angry with Xiu Zhen for telling him that she doesn’t have the habit. The next night when she cooks the instant noodles, her two bosses are not hungry. How sad when the timing isn’t right.

Still, she is very loyal to her young mistress to keep her secret to help her every now and then. When the plot is uncovered, she loses her job but is still determined to find out who has designs on Xiu Zhen. She is suspicious of You Zhen but pities her upon seeing how haggard she is after Sheng Yi suggests to break up with her. She tries her best to salvage the situation. That is why Xiu Zhen re-engages her services again.

9. Ming Qi Nan – he is as the old chef in ‘Hotelier’
He is a television director. When Ai Zi gives him the task, he holds an audition. Finally he gets a person who stayed in Oxford before for 6 years. He is about to choose him when he realizes that this man stammers upon seeing women. Out of desperation to save Guang Shu who is detained in jail for fighting with hooligans and they have no money to pay the bail, he decides to risk using Yong Ming.

When the first step is a success, he uses postcard backgrounds on places of interests in London and Cambridge. He then tells the couple to pose in front of them to please the old couple. Ming dreams of shooting his own movie from this. He gets excited and tails the couple from the airport to their home.

Zhao suspects Yong Min’s identity when tailing him to Ming’s home to see him driving in the mineral water truck. He abducts Ming and Chang Hao. Both spill the beans but upon realizing that the secretary that they refer to is not Ai Zi but You Zhen, they manage to flee in injuries.

He has wanted to stop the act but Yong Min still wishes to help Xiu Zhen. He is uneasy to pretend to be Yong Min’s uncle and realizes that he has pushed him too hard. Laugh when he devises the plan to make You Zhen and Sheng Yi meet each other at a hotel. He then gets Ren Zhe to come along with Ren Xue to see this scene in person. Ren Xue is so angry that he calls off the engagement.

At first Ming and Chang Hao are frightened of Sheng Yi who has kidnapped them before and now he knows that they are responsible for his downfall. But upon seeing that he has tried to harm Yong Min, they decide this man can’t be trusted. So they sneak to break into Sheng Yi’s safe to seize the photographs and also evidence of his crime.

Finally their movie is out and they screen it in all cinemas. In a movie premiere, he invites Yong Min and his wife, Xiu Zhen along to introduce him as the lead actor. His dream finally comes true.

10. Jin Chang Hao
He is a cameraman and is very experienced on the job. If not for him, the photographs will not be so convincing. I can still remember how shocked he is upon knowing that Yong Ming is the model. But still, he tries his best to make him as refined as possible.

When Ren Zhe announces his decision to pick Yong Ming from the airport, the others become frantic but he is the only one who is calm. Since Ming is shooting a movie, he can apply a grant from the airport to shoot the scene and kill two birds with one stone! He is very fair – upon receiving payment from Ai Zi, he makes sure that the three men get a fair share evenly.

Upon hearing You Zhen’s name to ask for an interview, he recalls Zhao’s words and suspects her of being an accomplice. Chang Hao and Ming tail her to find her and Sheng Yi together. Just in time to take pictures of both quarreling when he refuses to let her into his home. Although they can hear nothing, they guess their relationship. They even follow him to work and discover his identity. I really laugh – the same thing happens in reverse for tailing. Sheng Yi has never expected him to be so smart.

Ming and he have always dreamed of shooting a movie to become famous. They are elated when their dream comes true when what they have shot from reality can make into a film.

11. Bai Guang Shu
He is young and reckless. He is interested in En Er but this woman is materialistic. He is remorseful upon knowing how much Yong Min has done for him and treats him as an elder brother. He even offers to help out in placing the tabs in Sheng Yi’s office and home so as to monitor his movements. He is one of the great assistants to contribute to the success.

12. Zhang Ren Zhe
He is Mr Zhang’s younger brother and also Yong Min’s company boss. He disapproves of his brother’s action. He is single as he doesn’t wish to be under his control. He is very close to his only niece and wants to fetch her ’boyfriend’ from the airport with her. Guessing that both will want intimate moments, he walks to the car first with them behind him to allow them to hug each other.

This is a thoughtful act but this comes to the wrong couple. They do it when he turns around. He envies them for showing their love for each other openly. Actually it is because Yong Min is a bit upset that he isn’t told beforehand of Mr Zhang’s identity and he has to hug her just to show his affections instead!
After seeing him, he exclaims that he looks like the poster superman from his company. This really gives the couple shivers but he adds although the two look alike, they have different fates. This makes Yong Ming unhappy. After knowing that they deceive him, he isn’t angry but feels sorry for the two instead.

Ren Zhe doesn’t like Sheng Yi. He finds him suspicious. How can he be having no past relationships since he is so eloquent? He can’t tolerate the way he sweet talks Xiu Zhen’s parents. He is not shy and is pretentious to say that he can’t stay late because his father tells him not to bother them for long. He also disapproves of the way that he looks at Xiu Zhen – asking her why she has no appetite, etc…. so he believes truly what Ai Zi warns him.

13. Su You Zhen
She is Sheng Yi’s mistress. She works for a magazine as a reporter. She has wanted to marry him but he is only treating her as a spare tyre. She doesn’t know about Sheng Yi’s decision to woo Xiu Zhen. She is often pestering Xiu Zhen to interview her. After all the incidents happen, she is unaware of Ai Zi’s dismissal and still calls her to find out more about Xiu Zhen. The 3 are trying to find out who is trying to harm Yong Min. they start to suspect her after getting her call. She is actually a poor victim.

She agrees to Ming’s plan to expose Sheng Yi’s real motive to prevent him from getting Xiu Zhen. She has thought she is smart all along and is actually grateful to Ming for warning her. I laugh when Sheng Yi is so naïve to believe that she is asking to sleep with him to celebrate their last night together in the hotel room. The classic line is ’I will make sure that you will remember this night forever’. I believe he sure does!

14. Zhao
He is Sheng Yi’s capable henchman. He is the one responsible for the kidnap and also the cause of spilling the beans. Dreaming of gaining success, he goes through thick and thin with Sheng Yi in doing all the evil deeds. So they must be jailed together.

15. Madam Su
She is Xiu Zhen’s nanny. Even though she doesn’t work anymore for the Zhangs, Xiu Zhen often comes to visit her at her simple eatery. That is why she gets used to the different food easily. Yong Min gets to know Madam Su as he often patronizes her shop and is her close friend too.

Most favourite character
None, I don’t feel like giving my vote to anyone.

Most hated character
Sheng Yi for being shrewd, cunning and ruthless

To tell the truth, I like Cinderella stories more than Cinderfellas. The serial tries to look comical but it doesn’t work out very well. Only certain scenes are okay. Most parts are so boring that I yawn or watch with my eyes closed. But it could also be due to the fact that it was shown at 11:45 PM till 1 AM on television when my brain is sleeping most of the time. Even Ji Woo’s pretty face fails to charm me.

The pace is fast initially but it goes slow in the middle part. We know what will happen next so where is the lure then? Seung Woo and Hae Gyo don’t match in appearances in ‘Hotelier’ but he does match Ji Woo better in here. The supporting cast doesn’t give desirable acting either. They are too exaggerated. Maybe they are not cut out to act in comical roles. I feel it that way because they act better in other serials that I have watched. It is truly a waste of their talents.

So far, I only find the actor as Sheng Yi shine in here. Without him, there is no cause for trouble created and also the tension between the lovers or the Zhangs. He is really good with his charm and convincing innocence/politeness. No wonder he manages to deceive the Zhangs and also You Zhen. It can be so unfair that he is still an unknown today.

However, the theme song trailer can be interesting. It is amusing to see all characters being compared to poker cards. I will leave viewers to find out who are ‘k’, ‘q’, ‘j’ and ‘jokers’. The answers should make an easy guess. Not outstanding, not spectacular and nothing special. I will advise those who are busy to skip this serial. Only watch if you are faithful fans of Seung Woo or Ji Woo.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : *** (Scale of 5) (my vote goes not for the leads but for the villain.)

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

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