A Step into the Past

Reviewed by: kailor

November 19, 2008

Rating: five


A Step Into The Past is Hong Kong TVB Drama Production that aired to critical and mainstream acclaim back in 2001. The drama was also adapted from Huang Yi’s famous novel “Xun Qin Ji.” It tells the story of a modern man named Xiang Shaolong (LOUIS KOO) who had just lost his lady love Chun Ching (Sonija Kwok) to another guy at the altar. Feeling dejected, he agrees to a scientific experiment by getting into a time machine and going to the past. Unfortunately, the machine malfunctions and he is instead transferred back into the ancient times of the Warring States Period Era. There he encounters an assassin named Shanrou (Joyce Tang). She teaches him martial arts in order to protect himself and he is soon sent on his way. He later encounters Wu Tingfang (Jessica Hester Hsuan) and her family. Although Jessica is initially disgusted by his nature, she slowly falls in love with him. Princess Qian (Michelle Saram) also falls in love with him who also happens to be Jessica’s best friend. He also encounters a villainess soldier (Kwong Wah) who is in love with Jessica, a naïve prince (Raymond Lam) and a scholarly widow named Qin Qing (Sonija Kwok) who just happens to look exactly like his ex-girlfriend. As conflicts occurs between the Zhao & the Qin Kingdom, Louis’ characters slowly finds himself involved in a number of important historical events that eventually lead to the first unification of China.


Louis Koo as Xiang Shaolong
Jessica Hester Hsuan as Wu Tingfang
Raymond Lam as Zhao Pan/Ying Zheng
Joyce Tang as Shanrou
Sonija Kwok as Qin Qing/Chun Ching
Kwong Wah as Lao Ai
Michelle Saram as Princess Qian
Eileen Yeow as Lady Zhu Ji

Story (5/5)
The story was extremely well adapted from the novel. I was completely captivated into the story from beginning to end. There was very little dragging in the story and it seem to flow from scene to scene and episode to episode. Overall the storytelling and script was top-notch and exceeded my overall expectations considering the stellar cast, grand production quality and overall anticipation for the series.

Casting (4.5/5)
The casting for ASITP was superb. This series definitely stood out to me due to the outstanding chemistry between the cast. The cast was able to blend comedy with drama which is not always an easy thing to do. It definitely is a standout drama of TVB. The only drawback and reasoning for not recieving a perfect score is the casting Michelle Saram as Princess Qian because she truly can not act to save her life. She is so wooden and blah blah blahhhhh!!!!!!!

Performances/Cast Evaluation
Louis Koo as Xiao Shaolong (5/5)
In Louis Koo’s last TVB production, Louis Koo went out in a bang. In contrast to his previous roles, Louis Koo took on a more comedic turn as Xiang Shaolong. Louis was hilarious from being a confused man trapped in the past, to being a conflicted man in love, to a man who finally accepts his destiny. Overall, it was another stellar performance from Louis Koo. In particular his onscreen chemistry with Jessica Hsuan and Joyce Tang were a true delight to watch onscreen. He was definitely deserving of his 2001 TVB Best Actor win. It is a shame that we will probably never see him in a TVB series considering that he transitioned himself from TVB to the Hong Kong film industry pretty successfully.

Jessica Hester Hsuan as Wu Tingfang (5/5)
It is another memorable and hilarious performance from Jessica Hsuan. Her performance as the spoiled and headstrong Wu Tingfang was hilarious and so enjoyable to watch. Her only drawback is that she seems to disappear from the drama towards the middle only to return during the latter portion of the drama, although it was hardly her fault, since during the shooting, she had contracted cholera and was forced to stayed in bed for nearly a month. One of the highlights of the show is watching her scenes with Louis Koo. They are just simply so sweet and hilarious together.

Raymond Lam as Zhao Pan/Ying Zheng (5/5)
For a newcomer at the time, Raymond Lam surprised everyone with his knockout debut as the naive son turned emperor villain. It is no surprise that after this performance, Raymond Lam soon shot to fame. Although he was okay early on as the naïve filial son, he truly shined as the villain Emperor.

Joyce Tang as Shanrou (5/5)
Joyce Tang delivered a subtle but controlled performance as the female assassin with a conscience. Her scenes with Louis flowed with ease her scenes with Jessica was surprisingly hilarious. It was another solid performance from Joyce Tang. However, also lookout for Joyce Tang in “The Prince’s Shadow” as the Empress & her hilarious performance “War of In Laws II” as the fashionista Coco.

Sonija Kwok (3.5/5)
In comparison to the other cast members (excluding Michelle Saram), Sonija Kwok’s performance fell short. Her delivery of her lines and facial expressions were somewhat wooden. However considering that she is a pageant queen and that this is her debut, I would say it was a successful debut. However, Sonija Kwok has improved leaps and bounds since A Step into the Past. Watch her in D.I.E. costarring alongside Roger Kwok as Madam Ching Ching. She is hilarious! Sonija truly proved that she can act.

Kwong Wah (4.5/5)
He was deliciously evil as the villain Lao Ai. I felt pity for him when Jessica’s Tingfang rejected his love. However, your sympathy for him will go away when he gives Jessica up to be raped by another man in order to learn the left handed swordplay. Through all that, his love story with Eileen Yeow is touching and their tragedy scene is heart-wrenching. A bravo performance from a very underrated actor in TVB.

Michelle Saram (0/5)
She was a total miscast as Princess Qian considering that she can not act at all and she does not even look Asian. Her wooden delivery and face was such a travesty. Her performance made Sonija Kwok look like Meryl Streep. She has absolutely no chemistry with her castmates particularly Louis Koo. Not even Louis Koo & Jessica Hsuan could save her from recognized as having one of the worst acting performances in a TVB Series ever!

Eileen Yeow (4/5)
She was annoying and very frustrating at times but she did what she could with her screen time. Overall a solid performance from Eileen as the weak Lady Zhu Ji turned Empress. Her romance with Kwong Wah’s Lao Ai is touching and memorable. Her death scene might break your heart when you watch it!

Interesting Facts
This was Louis Koo's last TVB series.
This is Louis & Jessica's 3rd TVB pairing:(DIF IV & Man's Best Friend).
Louis Koo won Best Actor & Jessica made Top 10 Fave Award.
Louis ended up with Sonija & Jessica at the end.
Louis was rumored to dating Sonija after the end of shooting ASITP.
Jessica Hsuan, Kwong Wah, & Louis Koo are no longer with TVB although Joyce Tang left TVB, but returned in 2008.

Overall, this is a series that is not to be missed. If you have a chance to catch this well known masterpiece, take it!

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