A Stage of Turbulence


Reviewed by: sukting

December 29, 2010

Rating: three

How long
20 episodes

Foreword

This is the last TVb drama that Chow Wai Mun and Roman Tam did for TVB. This is also Chan Kum Hung’s first drama when he joined TVB. How did they fare by working together? Are you interested in a drama that intertwines history and Peking Opera? It involves the lives of 7 sworn sisters.

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Chow Wai Mun as Sum Yuk Yu/Kuk Sin
She is a secret agent who sneaks into a Peking opera group in search of the treasures hidden by the powerful warlord Yuen Shikai. She suddenly suffers from amnesia when witnessing how her father is killed. Thus she still joins the troupe, unknown that the map is with her. The other female apprentices hold a hostile attitude towards her, especially when she and Kuk Sang fell in love with Ho Kwong.

Kuk Sang is mad with Kuk Sin for replacing her when she hurts her leg. Kuk Sin gradually recovers her memory when seeing how Siu Lo kills Yu Hin. But she becomes his prey who wants to kidnap her in exchange for more power to become the next warlord.

Wai Mun brings out the traditional virtues of a wife. Her delicate features fit the bill. As Madam White snake and He Xian Gu, she seems to look like a fairy. When Yuk Sin is in the plane with Ho Kwong, she seems like a deity playing with the clouds.

2. Hui Chau Yee as Cheung Kuk Chau
She likes to make fun of others. She has very cunning eyes and all will not know what is on her sleeve. She dislikes Kuk Sin, Kuk Yin and Kuk Ling joining their troupe and often makes life difficult for them. When they are bathing, she steals their clothes. She falls deeply in love with Yau. She sticks with him even though he becomes poor and works hard to earn money. She is a singer but she acts well too.

3. Ho Mei Tien as Yuen Kuk Ling
She is nearly sold away with Kuk Yin and Kuk Sin. She is in love with Yu Hin. Both do not get the chance to talk to one another much and can only exchange gifts or flowers. Due to his eighth mother’s opposition over her status, she kills herself. Although her role is limited, she leaves a lasting impression.

4. Leung Pui Ling as Sheung Kuk Sang
Unlike Kuk Sin, she is like a ball of fire. She doesn’t want to be the loser and wants the best for herself. She has fallen for Ho Kwong when he apologises to her after his plane hits her accidentally. She fights with Kuk Sin for love and also her career – to form another troupe to upset all her sworn sisters. However, the result isn’t as well received as she expects although she dumps lots of money.

All her dreams are shattered. Her sleeping with Siu Lo is a dreadful mistake when she gets pregnant but he ignores her. When seeing how his eyes are only fixed on Kuk Sin, she can only suffer in silence. Outstanding performance from Pui Ling!

5. Hong Wah as Wong Kuk Yin
She is nearly sold away with Kuk Ling and Kuk Sin. She snatches food from them and all can see that she isn’t a kind person. after Tiet Lan becomes her master, she keeps grumbling about the hard work. She only regards Peking opera as a way to earn money. She can’t withstand hardship and is powerhungry. She leaves the troupe in the end.

6. Lau Mei Shan as Lok Kuk Yip
She is a glutton but is hardworking. But her talents are limited so she has no romance lulck as well. This actress is more suitable to act as an extra as she keeps staring at others when she speaks.

7. Lau Kwai Ying as Mui Kuk Far
She is the msot senior of the troupe. She takes care of the juniors and has to take care of the ill master. After Tiet Lan’s death, she is in charge. However, she feels helpless when things are not in her control. After being an extra for long, she finally has a breakthrough.

8. Chan Kum Hung as Kiu Ho Kwong
He comes from a rich family and knows nothing about hardship. On seeing how Kuk Chau bullies Kuk Sin to make her lose her way, he helps her. He then falls deeply for her. Siu Lo’s rebellion costs him his family fortune. He gets enlisted in the army and his family thinks that he is dead in an explosion. Kuk Sin takes care of his parents so they no longer oppose to her being their daughter-in-law.

A man looking exactly like Ho Kwong returns to the town but denies to be him. He is Ka Chun and has married a princess. Kuk Sin refuses to believe that he has forsaken her. It is later proven that he has become a secret agent to find the map’s whereabouts. His love for her has never changed and they reunite when his mission is accomplished. His acting is only passable – I am quite disappointed.

9. Tam Yiu Mun as Chiang Siu Lo
He is a servant for Tiet Lan’s rival. He is grateful to Ho Kwong and Yau for helping him from his master. He protects Yu Hin so Kat Cheung starts to trust him. The eighth mistress shows interest in him after learning Peking opera from him. He starts to become powerful and attempts to get close to Kuk Sin, thinking that Ho Kwong is dead.

She keeps rejecting him so he attempts to seize Kat Cheung’s position with Chik’s help. He becomes successful but later pays with his life when he gets killed. Yiu Mun shines although he acts as a villain.

10. Lo Lok Lam as Sum Tiet Lan
He is the opera group owner kindly let Kuk Sin stay in the group to become his apprentice. He treats all girls like his daughters and they hold him in high regard. To earn money for his operation, they toil for him. He is ill and dies after drinking too much during a celebration.

11. Cham Bing Hei as Ng Yau
He comes from a rich family like Ho Kwong and both love to fly planes. When his parents are killed overnight, his uncle also cheats him of his wealth, lying to him that he will seek revenge for him. All his wives and mistresses leave him. Only Kuk Chau stays by his side and gives him encouragement although he is now a rickshaw puller. As compared to others, they are lucky.

12. Tang Siu Cun – Cho Yu Hin
He comes from a rich family and no one can understand why he falls for a street performer. Kat Cheung makes him stay with him although he chases his father away. Upon knowing that the eighth mistress causes Kuk Ling’s death, he kills herself. During Kuk Ling’s funeral, he puts half a wooden’s comb into her coffin, signifying that she will be his wife in this life and afterlife. Siu Lo is angered that he still gets so much power so he kills him.

13. Koi Ming Fai as Ko Yat Ming
She is a woman but gets to play male roles all the time. Thus, no one knows her secret except Kuk Sin. Ho Kwong even comes to blows with her upon mistakening that she is trying to get fresh with Kuk Sin. When dresses as a woman, all marvel at her beauty. She is Chik’s illegitimate daughter but is against his ways. Her only wish is to find her mothers’ grave and Kuk Sin helps her. It is a pity that he doesn’t believe that she is his daughter and kills her with his own hands.

I always think that she looks better in men’s clothes. She is not striking in female wear. No wonder she often gets strong-willed roles. Her singing is excellent – which proves that she is so sort-after till this day.

14. Roman Tam as Mui Chi Ling
He is a famous Peking opera artiste and is also Yat Ming’s good friend. He admires Kuk Sin’s talents and gives her chances to perform.

15. Fan Yik Mun as the imposter princess
She pretends to be a princess and Ka Chun’s wife. In reality, both are secret agents, looking for the map. She helps Ho Kwong’s family to escape from danger.

16. Choi Kok Hing as Duen Chik
He is a warlord and suspects that Yat Ming is a woman. He gets the eighth mistress to test her out. So she can’t her identity anymore and he destroys her mother’s tomb. She gets close to him, wanting to kill him but he humiliates her before killing her in public. He regains his power when Siu Lo kills Kat Cheung. Knowing that Chik is only making use of him, Siu Lo wants to kill him.

17. Kwan Ching as Cho Kat Cheung
He is an evil general and is the one who murders Kuk Sin’s father. He is powerhungry and defeats Chik’s army so Chik has to be on the run.

18. Ma Hoi Lun as Mrs Cho
She is status conscious and is jealous of Yu Hin as she is childless. Thus, she vows to make him unhappy all his life. Thus she has a sad ending.

Most favourite character

Kuk Sin, although she is too good to be true. She is very forgiving towards a pregnant Kuk Sang.

Most hated character

Siu Lo, he should have known that he can never get Kuk Sin but he simply refuses to face it.

Songs

It is called ‘confidante’ 红颜知己sung by Wai Mun herself. I have not really liked her singing all along as it seems deliberately gentle. But this song is exceptional. It has a part on Peking singing by Peking artiste, Li Sheng Su. However, the experienced artistes have claimed that this part isn’t from any opera piece. Still, some said that it is Hong Kong’s version to Taiwan’s One Night in Beijing. The subtheme song is 《敏感夜》sensitive night by Wai Mun too. It lacks the punch of the former.

Conclusion

Although I have not liked this kind of slow paced dramas, I still watch it as my curiosity gets over it. It is a rare chance to see Roman acting in a drama. All have claimed that the late Cheung Kok Wing is excellent as a far dan in ‘Farewell, my concubine’. After watching Roman’s ‘kwai fei chui jau’ – concubine drunk by drinking wine, I am equally impressed too. Even as a guest star, his performance is memorable. Another highlight will be Koi who is simply stunning.

In comparison, Wai Mun pales in singing although she is pretty. Pui Ling’s stances are quite convincing, though. But they have tried their best as they are not professionals.

The story of the 7 sworn sisters tells of their ups and downs. Some are fated to be taking supporting roles no matter how hard they work. That is why out of the seven actresses, less than half survive in the entertainment circle. Somehow, I feel let down by the story and the others’ performance. Maybe that era has plenty of sadistic people due to the uncertainty of events. Still, they must be noted for their hard work.


Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : *** (Scale of 5)

On story : *** (Scale of 5)

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


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