Eternal Happiness

Reviewed by: hkopinions

December 08, 2007

Rating: four-point-five

Vietnamese Title: Manh Le Quan

(Names in parenthesis indicate Vietnamese name.)
Michelle Yip as Meng Lai Kuan (Manh Le Quan)
Raymond Lam as Wong Po Siu Wah (Hoang Phu Thuy Hoa)
Joe Ma as Tit Muk Ee/Temur Khan (Thiet Moc Nhi)
Tavia Yeung as Ying Suet (Anh Thuyet)
Rain Lau as Weng Lan (Nhin Lan)

"Eternal Happiness" is TVB's latest step in trying to promote two new stars: Michelle Yip and Raymond Lam. Although Michelle Yip is not a newcomer onscreen, since she appeared in "Gods of Honor" and "Reaching Out", her acting skills seem downplayed and her roles just didn't seem to match with her. Raymond Lam, on the other hand, is quite a newcomer. Raymond appeared in "A Taste of Love" and "A Step Into the Past". With his splendid portrayal of Emperor Cheng in "A Step Into the Past", it is no wonder TVB is trying to promote him by casting him in "Eternal Happiness". Other people appearing in this series are Tavia Yeung, Joe Ma, Rain Lau, Myolie Wu, and Mok Kar Kiu. The story of "Eternal Happiness" takes place in the Yuan dynasty, near the end of Kubilai Khan's reign. This series stars Michelle Yip as Meng Lai Kuan (Manh Le Quan in Vietnamese), Raymond Lam as Wong Po Siu Wah (Hoang Phu Thuy Hoa), and Joe Ma as Tit Muk Ee or historical English name Temur Khan. The series is very entertaining and personally, is the best ancient series released in 2002.

Michelle plays Meng Lai Kuan, a clever tomboyish girl, who is the daughter of a famous Chinese doctor who had worked for the Emperor before China fell to the Mongolians. Michelle loves to dress up as a man, and by chance meets Wong Po Siu Wah, Marco Polo, and Tit Muk Ee and they become sworn brothers (andap). Raymond plays the dumb but righteous Wong Po Siu Wah. Raymond is engaged to Michelle through an arranged marriage. Michelle's character is playful and very opinionated and so hated the fact that she has to marry someone she has never met before, causing Michelle to leave home and journey to the capital. Michelle falls in love with Tit Muk Ee, mistaking him as the flute player she heard at night, but at the same time becomes engaged with Raymond. Michelle doesn't know her fianc´┐Że is Raymond yet and sets out to the capital to find her true love. Joe Ma, in the beginning plays Tit Muk Ee, the son of China's crowned prince, successor to Kubilai Khan. As the story progresses, Joe becomes crowned prince and emperor of the Yuan dyansty. On the way, Michelle meets many people like the Queen of the bandits, who falls heads over heels for Michelle's manly disguise. Michelle's adventure continues from city to city and finally to the capital. The series continues, as Michelle fall in love with both Raymond and Joe but in the end she finds out that her true love is Raymond all along. This series is a comedy and part love story turned wrong. Don't worry though, this series has a happy ending since no one dies except Kubilai Khan.

Michelle Yip
Here comes the criticism - Michelle's prior roles in "Gods of Honor" and "Reaching Out" were very poorly portrayed. Michelle's role as Meng Lai Kuan is definitely winning her more lead roles in the future. Michelle does a superb job in portraying the likeable and funny Meng Lai Kuan. TVB should stop casting Michelle in serious roles but funnier characters since Michelle really stands out. One negative thing about Michelle is that she doesn't look pretty as a girl. It could be just me, but whoever did her makeup and hair when she is a woman should get fired. Come on, Raymond and Joe fell in love with the manly Michelle.

Raymond Lam
One word comes to mind when I noticed that Raymond played Wong Po Siu Wah - huh? Okay, okay truthfully, Raymond is a good actor as seen in "A Step Into the Past". Although it was hard to see Raymond make a transition as an evil emperor to a dumb character in "Eternal Happiness", as the series progresses, Raymond becomes a character you would love to hate. Raymond did a great job and definitely will be seen starring in his own series in the future. Just a side note, does Raymond really look like Louis Koo?

Joe Ma
Miscast. Definitely miscast. Although, Joe fits the character of Tit Muk Ee, there was no chemistry between Joe and Michelle. First, Joe seems a little too old for Michelle. Secondly, his character is quite dull. Joe received too much on screen time in the series making the story boring. No wonder he doesn't get the girl at the end. Not that Joe did a horrible job as Tit Muk Ee; the script just didn't fit him.

Mok Kar Kiu
Just love him. Mok Kar Kiu did a wonderful and very funny portrayal of Meng Lai Kuan's brother. His relationship with the Queen of the Bandits was even funnier. Personally, I hated the Queen of the Bandits. Wow what a total miscast. Hopefully, this uneventful chemistry doesn't ruin Mok Kar Kiu's future, because I would love to see him take lead in future roles.

Rain Lau
Very funny. Great job TVB for casting Rain. Her role as Weng Lan was great. Scenes with Michelle and Rain are some of the best. Rain portrays a girl desperately searching for a husband but just doesn't have any luck with men. It was sad that Rain didn't hook up with Joe's bodyguard at the end. Tssk. Tssk. This just makes her character more likeable.

Tavia Yeung
Tavia had the more serious role out of all the other characters. There were rarely any scenes where Tavia was funny. Although, Tavia should have had some scenes that were funny (except the scene with Michelle when they get married), because Tavia has great potential to take a lead role in future series.

Other characters...
I don't want to name them all. Of course there were good portrayals and bad. Some good portrayals were Fut Gor Chek and Kubilai Khan. They definitely look the part, especially Fut Gor Chek played by Liu Kai Chi as the villain. The most pitiful character was Myolie Wu's role as Lau Yin Yuk. Myolie's performance did not improve from prior roles. I couldn't even feel sorry for her character. Another miscast was the part of Myolie's brother. I don't know if it is the actor of the character but the series would have fared better without him.

Best supporting actor

Mok Kar Kiu as Meng Lai Kuan's brother

Best supporting actress

Rain Lau as Weng Lan

Worst character portrayal
Myolie Wu as Lau Yin Yuk

A little bit of history
The character of Meng Lai Kuan fits well into the historical background of China during the Yuan dynasty. In the beginning, Kubilai Khan is ruler of China and was later succeeded by his grandson Temur Khan/Tit Muk Ee, played by Joe. Marco Polo also makes an appearance in the beginning of the series making "Eternal Happiness" stay closer to the historical background. However, Joe's character was given more emphasis than the true Temur Khan in history was given. In fact, Joe never reintroduced civil service examinations to China. It was reintroduced by his successors. The only notable work Tit Muk Ee did was the construction of a palace/temple in honor of Confucius and his praise of Chinese culture. Tit Muk Ee reigned for 12 years, but his reign were plagued by rebellions and opposition to the crown. Tit Muk Ee died in 1307, at the age of 42. Another historical alteration was the character of the general who rescued the last surviving heir to the Chinese throne. Hey, TVB had to change history to have their lead star in there just like A Step into the Past.

So what about the story?
TVB wrote a wonderful script. Although the story's emphasis on Michelle died down towards the middle, where Myolie's and Joe's characters had greater screen time, overall the story was great.

4.5 stars out of 5. It would have been 5 stars if not for the miscasts.

Watch it or forget it?
Well let's see. I gave it a 4.5 stars. Oh yeah, go watch it. "Eternal Happiness" is hilarious and worth watching despite several miscasts.

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