Debts of a Life Time


Reviewed by: sukting

December 03, 2007

Rating: three-point-five

How long
20 episodes

Foreword
Many have said that 'The Prince Turned Into a Frog' copied some parts from 'Save the Last Dance For Me'. Actually there is also a familiar storyline in 'Debts of a Life Time'. One actress is Chan Yik Sun's wife, Tsui Ho Ying while the other is Fu Ming Hin. Do you wish to see how both fight for the man of their dreams, Lui Chung Hin? I am sorry that I can't give a detailed story as I watched it many years ago and can't remember well.

Story

Hong family has 4 siblings. Their stepmother (the mother of the youngest son, Dik Mun), their uncle, Yiu Cheong and Mun's husband, Kok Yip stay with them. Although Mun is the eldest child, Dik Kan has the final say. He is a very rich and very intelligent man. He's the head of a major company and also very handsome. But he's got a very bad personality.

He's very cruel and does everything to get what he wants. He's engaged to Wing Lum because of hers wealth. Knowing that his other silbings are not happy with his position, he plans to have total control of the company on his own. How? He wants his mistress, Eva to seduce Kok Yip and Dik Mun. (I must say that Chung Hin is very convincing in this scene where they share passionate hugs and kisses!) Both men fight over this woman till they can't concentrate in their work.

Dik Mun gets so disillusioned that he goes overseas as he loses out to Kok Yip in wealth. Knowing that Mun loves Kok Yip deeply, he keeps the secret to himself. Unknown to him, Dik Kan has the steamy bed photos at hand to want to extort Kok Yip anytime. Dik Mun is no threat to Dik Kan but Dik Chi is. Unlike Dik Mun who has his mother to back him up, Dik Chi plays his chances cautiously to pretend to be a loyal servant in front of Dik Kan.

Dik Kan is sure rotten to the core – he also tricks his uncle to sell part of his shares to him through an investment. (Chung Hin behaves so bad all these scenes that I can guarantee that all will want to slaughter him like a chicken.) Money matters than anything else on his mind. Although Wing Lum loves him deeply, he only treats her like a stepping stone in doing business.

One night, he goes to an old neighbourhood that he wanted to buy. He is robbed as he is drunk and follows Wan Loi. Wan Loi thinks that he is a molester and knocks him hard on the head.He falls down from the stairs and this makes him lose his memory. An old man, Chung living in that street thinks that he's actually his long lost son, Piglet (that old man is senile) and takes care of him.

Actually Piglet is dead and Chung becomes mad because of this. Since Dik Kan has no identifications on him, all assume that he is an illegal immigrant so he can't work elsewhere. They keep an eye for him from the police whenever they are on the streets.

Dik Kan works in Foon's eatery as a waiter. He still has his "natural personality" and he learns how to be a nice guy. He beomes a perfect man overnight. He becomes thoughtful for others, thrifty and also innocent in love. He falls in love with Wan Loi. Can you believe that he can smile the whole day if he gets to hold her hand?

There is once when Wan Loi brings him to a pub and buys clothes for him, wanting him to dress smartly. He is so stunning (in a suit and high collar shirt without a tie. That is enough to take any woman's breath away although he wears sandals. ) that all are amazed.

The most unthinkable part is he can speak fluent English and Italian to the others in the pub. (In comparison, she can only speak broken English. The only complete sentence is 'enjoy yourself tonight'). The other funny part is Dik Kan displays his charm unknowingly again as like in the past – to chat with female pub-goers when he gets surrounded by them. Wan Loi gets jealous and pulls him away.

Seeing her happy and singing, he grins non-stop. She asks him why he knows to speak so well, he doesn't have the answer too. Wan Loi starts to feel that Dik Kan's parentage might not be as simple as it seems but she brushes this off. Although Wan Loi keeps telling herself that she is looking for a rich boyfriend, she can't help falling for him and both start dating. Foon isn't happy initially with Wan Loi's choice as 'Piglet' is an illegal immigrant and has no qualifications but later gives them her approval.

Dik Kan also becomes good friends with Chi Keung. Chi Keung grows up in the poor neighboorhood with Wan Loi. He also hopes to strike rich one day too but he is only a driver of a small company. Wing Lum misses Dik Kan after his disappearance. Dik Chi is pleased when he controls the company. But things becomes complicated when Dik Kan's family finds him and reveals his real identity. He has a shock of his life when he comes to work the first day – he never expects his company building to be so tall.

Dik Kan is not used to the cold atmosphere at home. Wing Lum helps him and he is delighted when all finally dines together for the first time. His stepmother is unhappy with Dik Mun being driven away and has been unable to get along with Mun all along so Wing Lum has to settle the dispute between them.

Dik Kan requests Wan Loi to take care of Chung. Wan Loi starts to feel doubtful after knowing his status.
Moreover he has a fiancee now. He gives her an assuring hug, letting her know that his feelings for her has not changed but he finds it hard to tell Wing Lum. Dik Chi's power is returned to him and he hates him although he keeps silent. Dik Kan finds it hard to adjust back to usual working life now.

This night, Wing Lum comes to his home and shows him all the files. He sits with her and goes through them. She brews him tea and touches his hand. Be amused by his reaction – it is as if that he is bitten by a snake as he retreats his hand! He requests her to give him more time as he still can't remember their past. She is disappointed but agrees. Later in the night, he calls Wan Loi although he is tired. He feels consoled just by hearing her voice as he goes through his work.

Dik Kan gets Chi Keung to work as a manager in the company. Chi Keung gets interested in Wing Lum.Dik Kan is intelligent and in no time, he gets the hand of managing the business soon. Wing Lum tries asking Dik Kan out for lunch in vain. Why? He sneaks out to look for Wan Loi at her workplace. She is at first restless when she has no customers but her face brightens up upon seeing him. He teases her and touches her head. (This scene is really a warming one.) Wing Lum is shattered upon seeing this.

It is Chung's birthday and Dik Kan plans a celebration for him at the street's neighbourhood restaurant.
Wing Lum tries hard to please him – to get his family members to eat with the folks. Of course, they are displeased to go to such a lowly restaurant and one even vomits on Yiu Cheung's expensive suit as he is drunk. They can't understand why Wing Lum must go through such lengths to even get a present for Chung and introudce them formally to the folks. More for so when they discover that Dik Kan has a new girlfriend, Wan Loi. But Wing Lum manages to supress their anger.

Eva wonders why Dik Kan hasn't visited her for a long time and looks for him in the company. Eva hugs him from the back but he lossens her grip on him. (You must watch this – he detests so much that he uses so much force instead of the loving way initially.) He discovers the nasty deeds that he has done. His whole family ignores him and Dik Chi gloats over it. Mun kicks Kok Yip out of the house. To Yiu Cheung, it is no big deal of Kok Yip having an affair. But he is also enraged when finding out that Dik Kan is so inhumane to cheat him of his money. Dik Kan gets so depressed that he goes to the harbour alone.

Wan Loi is worried when she can't get him. Dik Kan goes to Chung, telling him that he has done injustice to his family. Chung advises him to ask for their forgivenes. They forgive him on Wing Lum's sake again.

The Hong family holds a function at home and Mun humiliates Wan Loi for being lowly educated although she turns up in formal wear. It is unlike Wing Lum who can help Dik Kan in the family business. Not wanting to make life difficult for Dik Kan, she leaves early. Dik Kan chases her in vain in his car. He starts to feel the pressure from his family and yearns to be in the past.

Foon isn't happy over Wan Loi's treatment. Seeing that she is having a fever the next day, she exaggerates her condition to Dik Kan over the phone. She wants to see if Dik Kan's feelings towards her is still genuine. Wan Loi is having a fever and a sore throat but not to the extent of shooting up to 40 degrees as she has claimed to be. Dik Kan immdiately flies over to her place. He is at home, tired after a long day work but runs out frantically after knowing it, ignoring Wing Lum who just comes!

Upon seeing her so pale, he touches her face to feel her temperature anxiously. Laugh when Foon worries him further to describe that a fever can cause brain damage if not taking care properly. He has wanted to stay over the night to take care of her but she insists that he should return home. Seeing how concerned he is over her rest their minds. (But don't you think this test is a bit too much?)

Dik Kan buys a pearl necklace, intending to propose to Wan Loi. Mun thinks that it is for her and passes it to Wing Lum. Dik Kan only intends to get her a pair of earrings instead. Wing Lum finds out that it is not intended for her. She breaks the string to make all the pearls fall onto the floor. Dik Kan has to restring it back before passing it to Wan Loi.

Wing Lum returns home and becomes sad after watching the tape on their engagement repeatedly. She cuts her wrist that night. Luckily Chan Ho saves her on time. He is so displeased that he makes her resign to work for him instead. Wan Loi is remorseful and goes into hiding after telling Foon to return the neckalce to Dik Kan. Dik Kan is at his wits' end when she is missing and has to concentrate on his work, only bringing out the necklace to look at it to recall their happy times together.

Dik Kan discovers that Dik Chi embelzes the company funds in order to destroy him. The ICAC finds out and detains him. Dik Chi repents and cries in Dik Kan's arms. Dik Kan assures a helpless Dik Chi that he will try his best to help him but he still has to stay in jail for a few years. Both brothers are separated by a piece of glass reluctantly in tears. (This is a wonderful scene which I don't think many other actors match up to their standard as yet.)

The shares values dip drastically and Dik Kan tries all means to make the company stay in business. He becomes weary without sleep but still visits Chung. You will laugh at this exchange – he nearly gives Chung the same tablet after 10 minutes he has swallowed another because he can't concentrate! Chung shakes his head as Dik Kan feels his own forehead as he has a headache – it seems that Dik Kan is the one growing senile instead. Chi Keung knows that he needs emotional support so he informs Wan Loi to return.

Wing Lum changes her outlook totally. She discards her bright coloured suits to wear dark makeup to match new black suits to go to work and her hairstyle has a dark fringe. (I think 'Witch Ma' might have gotten some ideas from here.) She turns unfeeling and ignores Dik Kan when they meet on the street. Still, she discovers that she can't forget him.

The company is in a crisis after the scandal. Only Dik Kan has the power to save it, but without any memories of his past, that's an impossible task. Chan Ho refuses to help him. So he loses his chairman position when Chan Ho becomes the major shareholder. Wan Loi is very worried upon learning the news so she returns home.

She runs to him, is it fine since he loses his power? He smiles – nothing matters as long as she returns to his side. He has never felt so relieved before to get away from troubles for a while. He even wants to drag her to watch a movie together but she flees as she is frightened that Wing Lum will attempt to kill herself again. Dik Kan frowns when he meets Dik Chi. Dik Chi cheers him up – he recalls that Dik Kan has to buy a piece of land to develop it. But he can't remember where he keeps the file.

Dik Kan manages to find a secretive diskette among the other diskettes. It is strange that he can't find the password for it to decode. He then finds a notebook that has the password. After decoding it, he is overjoyed that it is the file that Dik Chi has mentioned. After getting the funds ready, he then realises that the land is under China's control through inside news and he can't do anything to it. He gets desperate – what should he do now as the company will go bankupt?

Dik Kan suddenly regains his memory and starts dating Wing Lum again. He becomes is nasty to his own family and to the old folks, even scolding Chung for being a senile man who obstrcts his future. All are sad over the change although Wan Loi refuses to believe that he returns to his unfeeling self again. Dik Kan wants to give up his shares in order to get funds for the land. Chan Ho gets to sign the contract and transfer the money into Dik Kan's account. Dik Kan solves the crisis and is about to find other ways out.

After signing the contract, Chan Ho gets so angry that he can't back out from it that he suffers a stroke. All are glad that Dik Kan hasn't changed at all. Actually Wing Lum knows that Dik Kan is lying to her that he regains his memory. She can detect that the feelings are not the same as before – even though he kisses her hand. She still helps him out because she loves him. But being unable to face her uncle, she goes overseas.

Chi Keung realises that he doesn't have a head for business so he opens a delivery goods company. Dik Kan returns to the old street for Foon's wedding. All coax him to propose to Wan Loi. He has the pearl necklace ready all along and obeys them. She agrees and all are happy for them.

Introduction on characters

1. Hong Dik Kan - Lui Chung Yin
He is the head of a company – or rather also head of the household. We can detect his authority although he is just sitting on the director's chair. His eyes show us that he is ruthless and thus many wonder if ice runs in his blood. He only loves money and this is why he chooses Wing Lum to be his fiancée as she can help him in his career. He doesn't love her at all. All are under his mercy and he never spares a thought for anyone. He is a womanizer and is utterly selfish – not even to his own family.

But he changes into a sensitive guy after suffering from memory loss. He becomes homely and regards kinship important. He also becomes shy and is a newcomer to love once again. Luckily, he hasn't lost his brains in managing business and proves his ability again once he gets home. But this time round, he has a soft spot and is no longer a slave driver.

I adore the way that Chung Yin depicts an 'inexperienced' Dik Kan in love. The way that he falls for her secretly, the joy and shyness that he shows on his face is excellent. To different women, he shows different feelings. He is wild to Eva, gentle to Wing Lum and humourous to Wan Loi. I marvel over the changes as he develops different charm to everyone! With his handsome looks, it is very convincing that all three fall heads over heels for him.

But something must be done to his hair. It seems that he grows hay on the scalp and is just released from prison. I have never been happier when he returns to his businessman self again to have gelled hair again.

Chung Yin is known to be good in dealing with brotherly ties scenes. There is no exception for this one. He presents Dik Kan's concern for Dik Chi well too. Chung Yin has made a big breakthrough in this drama – showing the wicked and also kind side of Dik Kan.

2. Lee Chi Keung - Ngai Chun Kit
He is Wan Loi's childhood friend but they are as close as siblings. He is a reliable friend for help and keeping secrets. It is sad that his role is reduced to a minimal – even lesser than Kar Dong and Lok Lum. He is completely forgotten for the last 5 episodes.

3. Hong Dik Chi - Lam Kar Dong
He is Dik Kan's ambitious younger brother. He is eager to take over his position but sad to say, he doesn't have adequate qualities as him to be that successful. He even has to get him to fix his problems for him. He only realizes how concerned Dik Kan is to him when he breaks the law and he helps him out.

Kar Dong shows his great potential in acting – especially when Dik Chi lands up in jail. The scenes that he buries the hatchet with Dik Kan and analyses calmly together to deal with Chan Ho are excellent! You will shed tears with him when he cries.

4. Ko Chan Ho - Lo Lok Lum
He is Wing Lum's uncle who has been eyeing the Hong company for long. That is why he doesn't mind Wing Lum working for Dik Kan to get more information or as good working partners. But Dik Kan proves to be more cunning for him. So he strikes on Dik Chi when he isn't around. Although he uses Wing Lum as a tool, he truly treats her as his daughter and doesn't want to see her suffer. Little does he know that his downfall is caused by her.

5. Kwok Chung - Cheung Ying Choi
He can be considered to be Dik Kan's adoptive father as he allows him to stay with him as Piglet – his long-lost son. Dik Kan still addresses him as father fondly even after he acknowledges his real family. He creates the most laughs in the drama by calling him Piglet whenever he sees him. Can you imagine him calling him that even though he visits him after work in a suit?!

6. Fok Yiu Cheung - Doi Chi Wai
It is little surprise created that Dik Kan learns vices from this uncle. He is also a womanizer and drinks well. Everything he uses must be branded. Still, he is forgiving to Dik Kan despite of the nasty things that he has done to him.

7. Chan Kok Yip - Leung Kin Ping
He is a timid husband afraid of his wife. Yet he longs to have some fun to escape from her for a while. After his affair, he realizes that he only loves Mun and tries his best to win her back again.

8. Leung Wan Loi -Tsui Ho Ying
She is Dik Kan's latter girlfriend. She is a salesgirl, selling cosmetics but she is quite plain looking. Still, she hopes of marrying a rich man for a better life. She even chooses 'Money' as her English name. In the beginning, she keeps telling herself that she should not lower her standards to love a café helper but later she changes her mind when he treats her very well.

After knowing his actual background, she becomes terrified – not flattered. Not just because of her lack of qualifications but also her incapability to cope with his family's sneering and her guilt to face Wing Lum. But Dik Kan's determination and assurance finally gives her courage to accept him.

Her passionate and outgoing nature is obviously shown in here. Her acting is quite convincing but according to others, she acts without difficulty because this is how she is like in real life.

9. Ko Wing Lum -Fu Ming Hin
She is Dik Kan's fiancée who is pretty and capable. She comes from an equally rich family as the Hongs but she is willing to work in the Hong company as Dik Kan's assistant. She is worried over his disappearance and doesn't give up searching for him. She is the first one to discover him at the café to bring him home.

But after he has a change of heart, she becomes as ruthless as the past him. Her cool and capability at work is well depicted. I feel quite sorry for her because she makes big sacrifices to accomodate him. Too bad it gets to nowhere. It is a change from her usual demure roles when she turns nasty so Fu must be credited for her acting.

10. Hong Mun -Tam Pui San
She is Dik Kan's elder sister who is also capable but she doesn't understand why her father is so biased to leave more control to Dik Kan. That is why she is very jealous of him and both are not sharing good ties. But soon, she admires his talents. She has never liked her stepmother and stepbrother – two more people indicate giving up more shares of money to them. She is very fierce to Kok Yip so that is why her marriage nearly breaks up because she can't stand it anymore.

11. Mrs Hong - Wong Hoi Yan
She always wants a position in the family as the stepmother but she doesn't get the attention or respect she wants. Even bearing a young son doesn't strengthen her position. But they start to pity her when Dik Mun moves out and treats her better.

12. Leung Foon - Hon Ma Lei
She meets the wrong man who refuses to marry her when she is pregnant with Wan Loi. That is why Wan Loi takes over her surname and she gives her this name, hoping to give her good luck. It does work indeed to bring her a loving boyfriend.

13. Ada - Kwok Siu Wan
She is so hot and sexy to be every man's dream. She is attracted to Dik Kan's charm and is willing to be his underground woman to do his bidding. How she plays Dik Mun and Kok Yip with her fingers will amaze you. No wonder their family nearly breaks up because of her.

14. Hong Dik Mun
He is the youngest sibling in the family who is often neglected. He is not power hungry like his mother. Neither is he having a head for doing business like his brothers. He only wants true love but unfortunately, his first attempt hurts him so much that he has to escape for a while.

15. She Yee – Hui Siu Hung
He is Foon's love interest who helps out in the café. Loud spoken and wacky, he soon wins her heart.

Most favourite character
Dik Kan, from a cold person, he becomes man with a heart of gold.

Most hated character
Dik Chi, his stupidity in mistrusting Chan Ho lands his whole family in trouble.

Song
The Main Theme 'Return me my true feeligs' is sung by Alan Tam Wing Lun. I give it a 5* as it is really very good! You will like it as much as I do.

Interesting facts

Other actors will suffer from rumours that they are an item with their female co-stars while filming a drama. It is strange that this did not happen to Chung Hin. Their co-stars joked that luckily they had true life boyfriends or else they would find it hard to resist his charm. When he was in ATV, he was a gentleman to fetch his co-stars to work (not just female but also male too.)

Ming Hin was worried that viewers might not be able to accept her change but was glad when many praised her good performance. This was also Chung Hin's first drama when he switched from ATV to TVB. Although it was his first time working with the cast, they made him feel like part of a big family. It won him many fans as many had not seen his ATV works. They even labeled him as Hong Kong's Takuya.

Many loved the interlocking relationships on how the folks at the street help each other. TVB did not have a sequel through here but they shot 'A Kindred Spirit'. I still think 'Debts of a life time' is better because the cast is more natural.

Conclusion

The story is very simple. An evil rich man becomes nice after he loses his memory. After returning to his rich family, he starts to miss his poor friends. We know the story well as this is show in many other dramas so we can just focus our attention on the cast instead.

The process of the power struggle between the two families is exciting. Credit must be given to Lo Lok Lum and Chung Hin. The love triangle is also luring because the two women are direct opposite poles from each other. Losing the memory is like going through another section of life to know the hardship. So can the real world arrange all villains to suffer from memory loss?!

However, I find the final showdown between Dik Kan and Chan Ho unsatisfactory. How can Chan Ho agree to buy the 20 billion shares when Dik Kan offers to sell to him? Hasn't he claimed that he has made enough groundwork to stop all ways of Dik Kan to borrow money from others? And it is stated in the contract that Dik Kan must give up half the shares in the company if he fails to get the loan for the project.

Since he is so confident that Dik Kan will fail, I can't understand why he agrees readily to sign the contract with him. Due to his character, I don't think he will agree and will deny easily. And he knows that the China authorites will announce that the Chung Mou building location the next day. Will he that willing to get the shares and quickly transfer Dik Can the money so quickly? Although he claims that he will carry out the plan after the announcement, Dik Kan can only get the contract later.

Still, this drama shows depth in the plot planning. The friendliness that the neighbours show among them is well written. The love development is also well shown – Dik Kan's experience shows that one should forgive and forget. His family only realizes his importance and miss him when he goes missing. Before that, they did not know that they have regarded him as the pillar to handle the household and company.

Dik Kan shows that love needs a lot of give and take. Knowing that Wan Loi has an inferiority complex, he doesn't give her any pressure or force her to learn anything but to face the music on his own. Even though he knows that Wing Lum is a better choice in his family's view, he is firm in his choice and is never shaken. Who doesn't like this Cinderella tale when the prince charming stays by his damsel in distress at all times? The story is unbelievable but the cast's acting makes it come real.

I strongly advise all to watch this drama because the leads can never get back together to work together again. The actresses have quit showbuzz after their marriage while Chun Hin seldom acts now. This drama does offer some tension along the way in addition to the romantic element. I must confess that I like this drama than the two other dramas that I mentioned in my foreword as it is shot in a more realistic manner.

Sukting's ratings :

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

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

On song : ***** (Scale of 5)


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