Hap Hak Hang

Reviewed by: nath

December 31, 2007

Rating: one-point-five

"Hap Hak Hang" is another Jin Yong novel adaptation made in the 80's. However, I know this adaptation wasn't faithful to the novel, since one of the main characters was a rapist and his lover, a murderer, I think. Maybe because TVB didn't want to ruin the image of the main lead or because the rapist character wasn't appropriate to be portrayed on TV, but the character is changed from being a rapist to being funny and cunning.

The story stars: Tony Leung as the twins Sek Chung Yuk and Sek Fa Tin, Sheren Teng as Ding Dan. The other actresses who played these characters are unknown to me : Tit San Ho, Dong yee, Thi Giem, Bak Sau Man

Because this series is about twins, you know that Tin and Yuk will be mixed up and there will be many misunderstandings. As for the personalities of the twins, it is very typical : Yuk is cunning, smart, a fast thinker and funny ; Tin is more sentimental, naive, and innocent. You could say that one is night and the other, day.

As you can guess, the twins have been separated at birth, also a typical trait. Their parents were known as 'Black and White Swords' in the mo lam world. One time, they killed the god-son of 'Ghost', an evil character, so that on the twins' one month birthday, 'Ghost' came to avenge his god-son. The parents could only save Yuk and thought that Tin was killed because of a sword through his heart ; however, Tin's heart isn't in the same position as a normal person's is, and that saved him. Because they were afraid of 'Ghost', 'Black and White Swords' lived a discreet life and didn't teach any kung fu to Yuk. His father treated him severely while his mother spoiled him. During all those years, Tin was raised by a hunter.

In one incidence, involving Yuk's encounter with Ding Dan, his parents' identities are revealed. To protect Yuk, he was sent to 'Snow Sect' to learn kung fu. However, Yuk accidentally made the leader's granddaughter, Sau, fall off a cliff. Everyone thought she died and of course, the 'Snow Sect' followers wanted to kill Yuk to avenge her.

On the other side, baby Tin was saved and raised in the forest by the hunter. Later, the hunter dies and Tin was cheated by the leader of 'Heaven Union'. They lied about his origins and forced him to become the leader of 'Heaven Union'. Soon after, the real leader was killed. One day, Ding Dan appeared and mistaken him to be Yuk. Tin falls in love with her.

Soon, Yuk and Tin switched places. Tin was kidnapped by a highly skilled man who had a strange personality and Yuk became the leader of 'Heaven Union'. In 'Heaven Union', Yuk became close to Tin's maid, Siu Giem. However, when he learned that Boi, the skilled doctor of the 'Heaven Union', has planned for Tin to become the leader of 'Heaven union' because they wanted him to die instead of the leader, Yuk started to act wild in the hope that Boi will kick him out. He also thinks about running away.

Actually, every 18 years from 'Hap Hak Island', two men will come and invite the leaders and well-known characters from the mo lam world to follow them to the island. The invitations have been sent 2 times, and the third time is to be very soon. But what made them afraid is that those who left never came back, so people are suspicious and assumed that they are dead. If you refused the invitation, you and your sect will get killed immediately.

Boi, the doctor of the 'Heaven Union', has planned for Tin to become the leader of 'Heaven Union', so that when the two men from 'Hap Hak Island' comes, they will invite Tin and he will disappear. Yuk tries to run away, succeeds, and refuges himself in the 'Poison Sect' of San Ho, a woman that he has met. She falls in love with him. In the 'Poison Sect', Yuk encounters the most well-known rapist, Mo Yung Bak, who turns out to be a very sympathetic guy and will become a close friend. At the same time, he re-encounters a girl named Dong Yee, who he fell in love with when he was still in the 'Snow Sect'.

Dong Yee's family was also well-known in the mo lam world. However, while she was away with her grandma, mother, and other women of the family, 'Ghost' came and killed all the remaining members at home. When, they came back, they found all the bodies. Dong yee's mother committed suicide next to her husband while the grandmother swore vengeance. However, they aren't skilled enough to confront 'Ghost' yet, so have to hide themselves in a valley for more than 10 years. Now, capable of defeating 'Ghost', they exited the valley and kidnap Mo Yung Bak, a good friend of 'Ghost', to threaten him. However, they failed because of Yuk. Later, Dong yee and her family are separated, so she follows Yuk. Yuk loves her very much and this caused San Ho to become jealous. Because of this, San Ho makes Yuk drink a poison that even she herself can't cure. Misunderstandings after misunderstandings occur, and finally Yuk has the pleasure to live with San Ho, Dong Yee, Ding Dan and Siu Giem. At first they argued, but for him, because they all loved Yuk sincerely, they agreed to be good friends.

Dong yee's grandmother re-appears and forces Dong yee to follow her. Yuk immediately ran after them, but loses them. He then encounters two weird guys, one who always smiles and the other who never does. Yuk decided to travel with them, until he learns that they both have great kung fu. Meanwhile, the two guys have some special wine that they can only drink a little per year. Yuk drinks it all and they are astonished that he isn't dead yet. Actually, the wine has cured Yuk's poison and helped him to practice 'Poison Palm'. Yuk is afraid to get killed by those two men, so he proposed to become sworn brothers. The two guys are Sam and Tu (it's very funny because the guy who always smile is played by Bobby Au Yeung, and it's funny how thin he was and all.) Just after, he finds and saves Dong Yee's family with his new 'Poison Palm'. The grandmother dies and asked him to take care of the sect. Because he had became the leader, Dong yee tries to put a distance between them. She will try even more to break their relationship when she learns that 'Ghost', in reality, is her father. She feels bad because she believes her father has killed Tin, Yuk's twin brother. 'Ghost' and Dong Yee's mother were lovers, but one time he left to seek revenge and disappeared. Because Dong yee's mother was pregnant, she had no choice but to marry someone else. Later, 'Ghost' comes back and killed the entire family because he was jealous. Feeling responsible, the mother committed suicide. Dong Yee doesn't know what to do. She finally decides to kill her father, then commit suicide, but she fails. Her father, understanding the reason of her act, commits suicide, but just before, asked Yuk to take care of 'Ghost Sect'.

Finally, Dong Yee tries to put a term to their relationship and ends up lost in a valley. In the valley, she meets a man, Yat, and agrees to marry him, believing that by doing so, she will forget Yuk. At the same time, Yuk's sworn brothers asked him to bring a box to Shaolin : the box contains a precious jewelry that the previous Shaolin leader brought with him to the 'Hap Hak Island'. They all get suspicious and believes Yuk is from the island.. so everyone wants to capture him. Eventually, he ends up being locked up in 'Heaven Union'. He is rescued by his girlfriends and also Yat. Then, Yuk assists Dong yee's wedding with Yat, but the ceremony was never completed. Next day, Dong yee finds out that Yat is in reality a rapist, so runs away with Yuk. All their misunderstandings are cleared.

Dr. Boi has organized Yuk's trial, but he has ran away. To re-capture Yuk, Boi's only solution is to capture Dong Yee, San Ho and Siu Giem, hoping that Yuk will show up to rescue his lovers. In the meantime, Tin has lived with the 'weird man' and learn great kung fu. Tin should have died, because his internal power wasn't enough powerful to learn that great kung fu, but before following the 'weird man', Tin had met an old man who was pursued and murdered. Because Tin tried to rescue the man, he thanked Tin by giving him some little wooden statuettes which is in reality the greatest kung fu of Shaolin. Tin and the 'weird man' start to get along well. During all that time, Tin thinks of Ding Dan and finally, one day, his kung fu is powerful enough and is permitted to return to the mo lam world. He then meets Yuk's parents who believe Tin is Yuk. They soon hear about the trial, so decide to go see. On their way, they meet an old woman and Sau, Yuk's si mui who fell down the cliff. The old woman is her grandmother. One day, Sau's grandparents got in an argument and her grandpa slapped her grandma. So angry, the grandma left the sect and found her own. She rescued Sau and thinks Tin is Yuk, so forces him to follow her. When both finally realized that Tin isn't Yuk, he becomes the grandma's student. Gradually, Sau falls in love with Tin, but knows that in his heart, there's only Ding Dan.

At the meeting/trial, Yuk rescued his 3 lovers by using small sects to help him and also tricks, etc. He also admits that he isn't from 'Hap Hak Island', but no one believes him. Finally, he escaped by the help of his sworn brothers.

Everyone believes Yuk is from 'Hap Hak Island', so they start giving him lot's of gifts : jewelry, money, kung fu scriptures, etc. hoping that they won't receive the 'Hap Hak Island' invitation. At the same time, a man claiming to come from 'Hap Hak Island' has started to kill many persons from different sects. The leaders are invited to go to the island, but it turns out to be a trap set by Yat and someone else. Their goal was to kill as many leaders possible, so later on, they will become the Mo Lam leader easily. Yuk discovers the plans because his sworn brothers help him, but the others don't know and believe Yuk is a dai hup. The ask him to become the leader of mo lam. Also, the man from 'Snow Sect' asked Yuk to come back to the sect, so they could resolve the misunderstanding.

When they arrived at 'Snow Sect', everything has changed. Soon, Yuk and his women were jailed and poisoned. Yuk was jailed next to the leader's cell. The old leader believe he has killed his students, so jailed himself to stop, but it was all lies from his student (Yuk's si fu) who wanted to take over the sect. At the same time, Tin, his si fu and Sau also came to 'Snow Sect'. The grandma wants to challenge her husband. The traitor is killed by a masked man.

Finally, the two twins meet. 'Black and White Swords' soon arrives and they find out that Tin is their son. The twins reunite. Also, at the same occasion, Yuk celebrates his wedding with his four wives, but no guests show up : the leaders have received the REAL 'Hap Hak Island' invitations. Tin, who is the leader of 'Heaven Union', the grandfather, Yuk and San Ho soon received their invitations too. They all left. The day they leave, Tin realized he loved Sau.

It turns out that the owners of the island, two men, invites the leaders of mo lam to help them every 18 years. They have this kung fu scripture hidden in a poem, but no one can understand it. As for all the previous guests, they are still alive, it's just they don't want to leave the island. So everyone studies the poem and tries to understand. Tin is the only one who will learn the entire kung fu, even though he doesn't know how to read. It turns out that the kung fu meaning wasn't hidden in the meaning of the poems, but in the physical traits of the words. Tin manages to learn it all, except the last sentence. 36 years ago, when the owners invited the Shaolin leader, they cut off the last sentence and brought it with them. During the journey back to the island, a storm occurred and their boat sunk. There was a little monk with them, but they all died and lost the last sentence.

At the end, the owners of the island destroyed the poem and urged the mo lam people to run away, their wish has been fulfilled, now they are dying so at the same time, destroyed the island. When everyone comes back to mo lam world, they discover that Dr. Boi has taken over the mo lam world and have become the leader. Soon, they find out that Dr. Boi was really the little monk of 36 years ago. He had learn his kung fu in the last sentence of the poem and he managed to guess all the previous sentences. Tin is no match for him, so his group all have to hide themselves.

To preserve Tin's life who is the only one who can save them, there many sacrifices : Sau's grandparents, some leaders and even his parents. In a battle, Tin is seriously injured and to be saved, someone has to transfer all his/her energy into Tin. The consequence is that this person will get paralyzed. Because Ding Dan feels responsible, she is the one who sacrifices.

But even then, Tin is still no match against Boi. He remembers what the two owners of the island said : if he wants Hap Hak kung fu to attain its maximal capacity, Tin has to find a person who is the opposite of him, but who understand him the most. The best choice is Yuk. At first, they have lots of difficulties, because even though they are brothers, they don't understand each other due to the little time they lived together. After their parents died, Yuk changes drastically and focused on learning kung fu. With the help of the previous Shaolin leader, they are soon able to fight against Boi.


At the end, they challenge Boi and of course win. After their victory, Tin and Sau celebrate their wedding. Yuk plays a trick and dresses as the groom ; however, Sau recognizes him. Afterwards, Yuk and all his wives, plus Mo Yung Bak, leave China for Nepal or India. As for Tin, he stays with Sau and becomes the mo lam leader.

MY OPINION : Seriously, it is a very typical twins story. You can guess easily what is going to happen. If you compare 'Hap Hak Hang' of Jin Yong with 'Twin Heroes' of Gu Long, I'll pick 'Twin Heroes'. Also adding the fact that both adaptations weren't faithful, I still prefer 'Twin Heroes'.

One bad thing is that the series focuses too much on Yuk and not enough on Tin. You see Tin has a really small part, maybe the 3 last episodes. I think they should have tried to put Tin more, developed more on him, since in the novel, he's the main character. As for Yuk, well I have to say, it's way more interesting to have a funny character instead of a rapist. If you have to compare Yuk-Tin to other JY's characters and also, adding Tony Leung acting skills, well Yuk would be a repetition of Wai Siu Bo while Tin would be Cheung Mo Kei.

As for the acting, Tony Leung is again fabulous. Like I said, his characters resemble a lot of what he had already portrayed, so I think it was easy for him. When you look at the series, you sometimes feel that it is two different actors who act, since he did a marvelous job.

As for the actresses, I think TVB could have done better. Among the 5 leading actresses, if you could call them like that, only Sheren Tseng is known. All the others are unknown faces to me and their acting are only acceptable. Nothing exceptional, but average. Sheren Tseng is okay, not more.

So in conclusion, this series is only average.

Screenshots: (Images from skygarden)

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