Heroes From Shaolin


Reviewed by: sukting

November 03, 2004

Rating: two-point-five

Foreword
Do you wish to watch Siu Lun, Siu Bing and Lai Chi in a period drama? or the famous ex-gymnastics prince Li Ning in his debut drama? The beautiful scenery of the two famous Shaolin temples in China? This serial may be able to satisfy your curiosity.

Story

Kang Xi faints at Shaolin when viewing the monk troops. He asks for ‘Xi Sui’ manual from Ke Jian but is rejected. In reality, it is stolen and Ke Jian gets Hao Feng to look for it. Hao Feng sees Shi Fen pretending to sell medicine using the temple’s name. He teaches him a lesson. Xue attacks Hao Feng and vows to get the manual from him. Shi Fen pretends to be a monk to teach a landlord a lesson – to get punished by Hao Feng again. The villagers seek Shi Fen for help again but he can’t do it openly now after Hao Feng’s warning. Hao Feng helps them secretly upon seeing the villagers so depressed.

The villagers want Shi Fen to teach them the skills. He pushes the job to Hao Feng. Hao Feng has no choice but to teach them basic skills. Hao Feng finds out where ‘Xi Sui’ manual is but Xue gets it before him. She is injured by a mysterious man and he saves her. Xue is hesitant because both are rivals and wants to leave but he stops her. She reprimands him for being too kind.

Hao Feng recalls he does ask Ke Jian to allow him to become a monk and he tells him the same. Xian Tang wants Shi Fen to keep his promise and breaks his leg. Hao Feng uses his wits to settle the feud between them. Hao Feng discovers an enemy and follows him into Xue’s room. He is embarrassed as she is having a bath. She takes the chance to tease him and realizes that she loves him. After she masters the courage to tell him about it, he has shaved his hair himself and names himself Pu Zhao. This makes her sad.

Pu Zhao discovers that ‘Xi Sui’ manual is with some people but kills them by accident when Xue grabs it. He is remorseful and decides to ask for forgiveness from Shaolin. Xue wants it back from Kun but he refuses and uses poisonous darts to injure her. She goes to Shaolin and is dismayed to see Pu Zhao as one of the 18 bronze men. She is badly affected and dies.

Shi Fen boasts being a Shaolin disciple. Jiao isn’t happy and challenges him to win him. Hong uses Ti to practice his flying darts. Ti is injured and Jiao feels sad for him. She tells Liang but Liang doesn’t wish to offend Hong. He scolds Ti instead. Hong discovers that Hu’s skills are formidable so he buys him over. While practising, Ti sees them and Hong uses him as a target again to injure him.

Ti faints while seeing a physician. Shi Fen helps him and Jiao arrives. Both quarrel over how to cure him and Jiao hits Shi Fen. Xian Tang is so angry that he stops his business deals with the Duan Mu family. Yi is angry and commands Hu to challenge Xian Tang for a fight. Xian Tang agrees but Shi Fen knows that he is no match for him. He replaces Xian Tang and Hu lets him off. Shi Fen is injured but Ti saves him. Hu is touched by their friendship and lets both off.

He still damages the Bai family’s plaque as a warning. Xian Tang doesn’t appreciate Shi Fen’s help and still punishes him. Yi discovers that Ti learns the Duan Mu family skills secretly and wants to expel him. Ti rebukes saying that Hong also learns Hu’s skills. Hong wants to kill Ti and Jiao protects him. Liang tells Ti to leave the clan. Ti meets Hu and Hu keeps him as his disciple. He even teaches him how to defeat Hong.

Shi Fen wants to learn the skills from Shaolin. Xian Tang promises to let him go if he can make him leave both legs off the ground. Shi Fen manages to trick him but Jiao spots the flaw so he hates her. Jiao feels bad for implicating him so she helps him to succeed. Ti and Hu roam the world but he is killed by soldiers to make him upset. Shi Fen, Yi, Qi and Li reach Shaolin and they pass the test. He finds it tough learning skills from Fa Lun. Once, he tries to play truant and he has to forgo his dinner.

Shi Fen steals food from the kitchen to find Wu Zhen drinking wine there. Both become good friends. Jiao suspect that Yi and Hong keep money secretly and Liang wants her to help in the family business. She agrees reluctantly and finds Shaolin nunnery owes them rent. So she decides to collect from them.

Fa Lun tests each person’s skills. Tie Zhu wants to frame Shi Fen and Shi Fen fails the test. Fa Deng asks him to join the Luo Han hall since he can’t stay in Jin Gang hall. He refuses at first but learns that Pu Zhao becomes one of the bronze men. If he wants to leave, he needs to defeat them. He has to agree to it. Jiao reaches Shaolin nunnery and becomes Abbess Miao Yin’s disciple since she is highly skilled. Luo Han disciples are bulled by Jin Gang disciples. Fa Deng doesn’t help them and all are frustrated. Fa Deng encourages them and they promise to work hard.

Wu Zhen has a sad past and tells Shi Fen. Shi Fen doesn’t know his real identity and consoles him. Shi Fen and Wu Zhen buy food supplies from the bottom of the mountain. He brings Wu Zhen to a fortune teller and the person predicts that Wu Zhen has an emperor's features. Wu Zhen is afraid that his identity will be exposed so he kills him. Shi Fen returns and Wu Zhen wants to kill him. Shi Fen escapes and meets Meng Se. Wu Zhen is about to kill him but lets him off because he is touched to see the present he gets for him.

Fa Deng brings all to practice skills by the river. Shi Fen meets Jiao and laughs at her upon knowing she is also learning skills. Miao Yin is angry over it. Shi Fen can’t forget Meng Se and looks for her again. But she is cold to him to make him upset. He meets Jiao and quarrels with her. He accidentally causes her to fall into the river and she faints. She wakes up and mistakens that he has taken advantage of her. She complains to Miao Yin and Shi Fen and all are punished.

Ti is pursued by the soldiers and he hides in Shaolin. Shi Fen discovers him and tries to bring Jiao to meet him. Ti escapes into the mountains and this alarms Ke Jian. Fa Deng suggests taking Shi Fen and Jiao to search for him. Fa Deng isn’t anxious but Shi Fen is so impatient that he wants to start on his own. Ren, Xin and Kang wants to kill Ti to seek revenge. Ti throws Kang down the hill. Ren and Xin escape. Jiao is attacked by wolves and Shi Fen saves her. Both spend the night together. Through the talk, they clear up all misunderstandings and become friends.

Shi Fen and Jiao combine with Fa Deng and finds Ti. Ti follows them to Shaolin after Fa Deng promises him safety. Ke Jian leaves Fa Deng to deal with Ti. Fa Deng ties Ti up on a tree and Ti scolds him for betraying him. Jiao wants to save Ti and Shi Fen tries in vain to talk her out. He helps her but is discovered to get punished. Fa Deng makes Ti understand his intention and lets him go. Ke Jian punishes Fa Deng to be a bronze man. Ti meets Kang who is seriously injured and brings him to Shaolin.

He begs Ke Jian to let Fa Deng off and he is willing to be a monk. Ke Jian agrees and gives him the name ‘Xin Hui’ and chases the soldiers away. Xin Hui gets into Jin Gang Hall. The others despise him but Fa Lun is in charge. Fa Deng thinks he is too reckless and wants him to chant instead. Xin Hui is remorseful but Shi Fen gets him into trouble by trying to help him.

It is Yuan Xiao festival and Shi Fen tries asking Meng Se out. Jiao thinks that he is interested in her and is overjoyed. Liang comes to bring her backbut she refuses. They quarrel but Shi Fen manages to make her return home. The rest bully Xin Hui to break the rules to get punished. Fa Lun punishes him to scrub the floor. He is unhappy but Fa Deng teaches him the pole skills.

Meng Se is recognized by Kun’s henchmen. She hides into Shaolin. Shi Fen helps her to hide into a well. Kun rules the Shaolin display event. Fen and Su pass the test. Xin Hui gets Fa Deng’s help to pass too. Meng Se kills two monks who discover her and others suspect Xin Hui for doing it. He tries denying and admits when no one believes him. Ke Jian locks him. Shi Fen suspects that it is connected to Meng Se but can’t find her. Xin Hui wants to escape but Ke Jian hands him over to Kun.

Shi Fen checks the well and finds Wu Zheng practicing skills. Wu Zhen admits to the killing and wants to kill him. Shi Fen defeats him and he has to say that he is Yong Zheng. Yong Zheng leaves Shaolin after he lets him off. Shi Fen rushes to save Xin Hui with Yong Zheng’s ring. But he has already killed the soldiers and is unable to return to Shaolin. They part reluctantly.

Kun comes to Shaolin nunnery to look for Meng Se. He injures Miao Yin. Fa Deng and Shi Fen bring all to Shaolin. Kun says Meng Se is his wife but she denies. She even shows evidence and he leaves, disappointed. However, Fa Deng knows that she lied as she has mastered ‘Xi Sui’ skill. He demands her to return the manual but she flees. Shi Fen pursues her but is injured by Kun. Meng Se brings him to a cave and uses her skills to save him. He hates her for lying and she has to tell him the truth.

Many years back, Kun got ‘Xi Sui’ manual but it is in Hindi. He let Meng Se translate it. But he doubted her and was afraid that she might learn it secretly. So he kicked and punched her. Meng Se couldn’t bear it and wrote it the other way round to make him go berserk to flee. Shi Fen wants her to return to Shaolin with him to return the manual. She refuses as she is afraid that Kun will capture her and she has also burned the manual. She agrees to write another copy for him.

Miao Yin pursues Kun and wants him to stop harassing Meng Se. Kun kills her and Jiao witnesses this. Kun tries killing her too and she flees with Shi Fen and Meng Se. All fall into the sea and Shi Fen think that Meng Se is dead. He is devastated and fights with Kun. Fa Deng has to bring him back. He punishes him to copy the sculptures. Jiao returns home to find Liang critically ill and is worried. She is more upset to know that Ti becomes a killer. Shi Fen is sore over the punishment and wants to defeat the 18 bronze men to get out of Shaolin. He loses and Fa Deng reminds him to look through the sculptures for the answers.

Shi Fen listens to him. Three years later, Kang Xi dies and Yong Zheng takes over as the next emperor. Kun is promoted while Shi Fen’s skills become better. Jiao misses Shi Fen and pretends to be a monk to meet him. He is touched. Hong and Yi kill Liang and chases Jiao away. Xian Tang keeps her at home. Shi Fen defeats the 18 bronze men and reunites with his family. Ti informs him that Kun wants to frame his family.

Kun frams Xian Tang for killing Liang to force Shi Fen to spar with him. Shi Fen loses and he wants him to find a way to defeat him in 3 days otherwise his family will die. Shi Fen seeks help from Ti but he is clueless too. Jiao sneaks into Kun’s family, attempting to steal his gun but fails and is forced to parade in the streets. Shi Fen is touched. Jiao is upset to know that Shi Fen loves Meng Se. She practices with a stick and is bitten by a snake but manages to come up with a solution.

Meng Se wants to use ‘Xi Sui’ manual to exchange for them but Kun tries to capture her. She is saved by 3 mysterious people. Shi Fen defeats Kun but he eats his words. Yong Zheng manages to save them. Jiao becomes blind and the monks are unable to heal her. Ti suspects Yi and Hong for the murder and wants to kill them. But they are killed by Ming. Ming wants Ti to join her sect but he refuses. Shi Fen meets Qian Jin and Mi Liu on the street to know that they have been cheated by Hui Qian. He helps them.

Ming tests that Ti likes her and manages to get him to join her sect. Jiao is afraid that she might lose Shi Fen when she recovers. Hui Qian and the other two are impressed with Shi Fen’s skills. They become his disciples and help to set up a school to teach martial arts. Hui Qian’s godsister, Meng Se arrives. It is Shi Fen’s birthday and all mention to watch the opera. Jiao leaves quietly but Shi Fen and Meng Se accompany her. Both decide to get medicine for her form the mountains. She recovers and leaves.

They manage to get her back and decide to leave their relationship to fate. Shi Fen finds Hui Qian suspicious and discovers that he is forced to join Ri Yue sect. He gets into the sect and finds Ti. Ti returns him to Shi Fen. Jiao and Shi Fen are in despair to know about this. Ming bears a son for Ti and he wants Shi Fen to get a name for him. Shi Fen wants him to lead a normal life and both quarrel.

Jiao manages to stop them. Yong Zheng and Shi Fen talk about the past and promises that he will not give him a death sentence regardless of any happenings. Kun discovers Meng Se and Jiao wants Yong Zheng to promise not to let Kun harass Meng Se anymore. Kun is angry and gets Ming to capture Meng Se. Ti then knows that Kun is the mastermind. He is unhappy and forbids this to happen. Xian Tang is happy to see Shi Fen mature. But they hope he will make a choice between Meng Se and Jiao.

Ming still captures Meng Se. Ti demands her to release her but she threatens to kill herself. Ti is forced to duel with Shi Fen. Jiao gets Yogn Zheng to settle the dispute. She reveals that Meng Se has ‘Xi Sui’ manual and Kun chases her away. Meng Se is seriously injured when the men duel. Shi Fen manages to save her but Yong Zheng commands her into the palace. Meng Se is in a coma and the palace physician treats her to find out ‘Xi Sui’ manual contents.

Kun loses Meng Se and blames Ming so he destroys the sect. Ming blames Ti for it and leaves him. Ti gets involved in drugs. He even tries borrowing money from Shi Fen and Jiao. Meng Se loses her memory. Yong Zheng forbids her to leave with Shi Fen and Jiao. Kun tests her by seriously injuring Shi Fen but she shows no response. Kun tells Yong Zheng to sentence her to death to see if she is feigning. Shi Fen rushes to save her from the execution ground.

Shi Fen and Chun Liu save Meng Se by taking Yong Zheng as the hostage. Meng Se doesn’t recognize Shi Fen and runs away, to get captured by Kun. Yong Zheng finally believes that Meng Se isn’t acting and releases her to let Jiao take care of her. Yong Zheng orders the whole Bai family to be killed. Shi Fen is upset and escapes to Pu Tian Shaolin with Chun Liu.

Three years later, Meng Se remembers part of the past and Jiao still takes care of her. Ti meets Ming and his son. His son refuses to get close to him as he looks like a beggar so he decides to pick himself up again. Jiao knows Chun Liu’s news and flees with Meng Se to Shaolin. During the journey, Meng Se remembers everything and she is consoled. Both reach the Pu Tian temple but Ke Jian refuses to tell them where Shi Fen is. They accidentally get into the bronze men valley.

They are finally reunited with Shi Fen. The other monks then know his identity because Zhi Shan keeps it from them. Bai Mei is angry and rebels to tell Kun that Shi Fen is at Fu Jian Shaolin temple. All soldiers come under Yong Zheng’s command to the temple. Ti and Ming are together again. Hui Qian and others meet again. Ming wants to reaccept Ti but is killed by Kun. Ti is upset.

Kun surrounds the temple but the monks refuse to give in. Kun cuts off the food supply and Shi Fen finds Bai Mei suspicious. Bai Mei comes into Zhi Shan’s room to steal his abbot tablet. Zhi Shan doesn’t stop him and he is more daring to say that Zhi Shan passes the post to him. All believe him upon seeing the tablet. Bai Mei demands to give Meng Se to Kun so Shi Fen tries to seek help from Zhi Shan.

Zhi Shan reveals that he is dying and passes the abbot post to him. He teaches the 8 Da Mo strokes and this helps him to get the tablet back. Shi Fen uncovers Bai Mei’s scheme and locks him up. Meng Se translates the manual to give to Jiao. She takes another poisoned copy, wanting to give to Kun but is stopped by Shi Fen. He gives to him. Kun is poisoned and wants to kill him but Ti saves him. Shi Fen and all decide to ask help from Song Shan Shaolin temple.

Lian Kun demands to burn Shaolin temple and many monks die. Shi Fen and Ti divide into two groups for the escape. Bai Mei is saved and vows to kill Shi Fen. The two men manage to peak the monks’ spirits. Bai Mei gets Shi Fen and two pit. Shi Fen is no match for him but suddenly remembers Zhi Shan’s words. He uses his skills to kill Bai Mei. Ti and Kun die together in a duel.

Shi Fen reaches Song San with the rest and returns ‘Xi Sui’ manual to Ke Jian. Yong Zheng is furious and wants to deal with them. Meng Se wakes up to find herself going old rapidly. She doesn’t know what to do. Yong Zheng is killed by Si Niang in the end. Meng Se becomes old and can’t restore her youth anymore. ‘Xi Sui’ manual has mentioned that the reverse will happen if anyone wishes to pit against nature. She decides to roam the lands with the sheep. Shi Fen is upset and becomes Pu Tian Shaolin’s abbot. Poor Jiao – when she arrives at the temple, he has already attained monkhood.


Introduction on characters – sorry for long list below but I think they deserve credit

1. Bai Shi Fen – Wan Siu Lun
He is pampered from young and thinks that Bai family’s fist is invincible. He takes up the challenge and is nearly killed. He reflects his mistake and goes to Shaolin to learn his skills to protect the place too.

This role gives a lot of development for a man – turning from immature to mature but all are let down by Siu Lun’s lukewarm performance. So am I. All along he has given a spectacular performance for every serial. How did it turn out to be like this? Actually, we can’t blame him as he has tried his best to concentrate because his marriage was on the rocks the other time so this has affected his performance.

2. Kong Ti – Cheung Siu Fai
His mother remarried into the Duan Mu family and brought him along. Thus he was despised from young when she died young. He secretly learned skills from Duan Mu and Bai families. Unfortunately, his act is uncovered when he tries to save Shi Fen. He is expelled from the family and joins Shaolin. However, his wild nature is hard to change so he is out again and becomes a killer.

This is a sad role and many are won over by Siu Fai’s fine performance.

3. Pu Zhao – Li Ning
He is a kind monk and is ordered to leave Shaolin to look for ‘Yi Jin’ and “Xi Sui’ manuals’ whereabouts. He falls for Ah Xue but is misled to kill a commoner. He is so remorseful that he becomes the last of the 18 bronze men. Please believe me. He is really bad. I will suggest him to concentrate on his business instead.

4. Duan Mu Hong – To Dai Yu
He is successful as the brat. No wonder Dai Yu doesn’t wish to be remembered for his villain roles

5. Hu Hui Jian – Lee Wai Mun
He is Shi Fen’s disciple. His acting is okay as a newcomer. But he is not cunning enough so I can’t believe that he can trick Chun Liu and Qian Jin so often.

6. Tong Qian Jin – Wong Chi Yin
He is also Shi Fen’s disciple who is very gullible to get tricked but he is loyal.

7. Xiang Mi Liu – Lee Yiu King
He is another of Shi Fen’s disciples who is very gullible to get tricked but he is loyal.

8. Bai Mei – Au Sui Wai
The black sheep of the whole pack to submit to the court. I must praise him for being such a great villain. Although he only appears towards the end, he is great.

9. Fa Lun – Lo Mong
He is a rigid monk but thinks of others before himself.

10. Tie Hu – Lam Wai
He looks evil but isn’t evil. The Duan Mu family wants to buy him over but he is righteous to choose a suitable disciple on his own. A pity that he dies tragically.

11. Kang Xi – Lam Seung Mou
He is too thin and sickly as an emperor. I presume in this case – so to find excuses to ask for the manual?

12. Ke Jian – Choi Kok Hing
Sometimes I feel like killing this monk. I thought all monks are supposed to be forgiving. Yet who thinks of such a ruthless idea to turn real human beings into bronze men for punishment. This is the same as taking their lives away! It seems that nothing matters to him than preserving the temple's name.

13. Lian Kun – Bak Biu
He is highly skilled. Kang Xi and Yong Zheng regard him as their important subject. He is wicked and even wants to kill his wife Meng Se for the ‘Xi Sui’ manual’. He is a natural for portraying wickedness.

14. Fa Deng – Lau Kar Fai
He is an expert with wooden poles and is comical. He dies while trying to protect Shi Fen and this causes him to work hard to improve himself. Marvelous acting.

15. Duan Mu Yi – Lok Ying Kuan
Liang’s younger brother who is scheming and also ruthless. He doesn’t like to be controlled by his brother so he looks for chances to get rid of him. Remarkable performance too.

16. Duan Mu Liang – Cheung Ying Choy
He is bad tempered, reckless and has no brains. He often suggests using the fist to determine the winner and Yi causes his death.

17. Bai Xian Tang – Kong Hon
He is the successor and Shi Fen’s father. However, he is lazy and doesn’t practice skills eagerly.

18. Yong Zheng – Lo Lok Lam
He has once hidden in Shaolin to avoid being killed. He becomes friends with Shi Fen and is unsuccessful in stealing the ‘Xi Sui’ manual. After he becomes the emperor, he wants to attain longevity in life so he demands them to hand it over otherwise he will burn the whole temple. Surprisingly, his performance rates lower than others because they are simply too good.

19. Ah Xue – Kwok Oi Ming
She is a constable – or rather a secret agent for the palace. She is pretty, witty and highly skilled. She is commanded to steal the manual from Shaolin. She loves Pu Zhao but is rejected. This gives her a hard blow and she dies in Lian Kun’s hands. Although she only appears for a few episodes, she is good in projecting the tragedy. A pity they pair her with a stony Li Ning. Both simply can’t click at all.

20. Chu Meng Se – Leung Siu Bing
She is 40 but looks like she is in her twenties. She is Lian Kun’s wife who masters ‘Xi Sui’ skill which restores her youth. She is sometimes gentle and cute while mature in other moments. Shi Fen falls in love with her at first sight. I must give her the best actress award for her outstanding performance. She presents the multifaced character well. And to sacrifice her beauty on top of that too!

21. Duan Mu Jiao – Lai Chi
The only daughter in the family who is pampered from young to be willful. But she is righteous and is concerned for Ti as a sister. She masters skills under Miao Yin. She loves Shi Fen secretly and although she knows that he doesn’t love her, she is willing to join him on his travels. Actually, Lai Chi is not really a vase. She can act if given the right roles. This is one example. She managed to change my impression about her in here. Who can forget how pitiful she looks upon finding out that Shi Fen becomes a monk?

22. Hai Ming – Lee Guai Ying
The Ri Yue sect leader who is secretive and ruthless. Her sect claims to be against Qing rule but it works secretly as the court’s spy. Ti joins it to be a killer and both fall in love. Her acting is only passable.

23. Miao Yin – Lee Lai Lai
An old nun with a fiery temper. That’s a refreshing change but I don’t think she is that highly skilled as reputed to be.

24. Lu Si Niang – Mak Chui Han
She only appears in the final episode but also does well. Unlike having the romance element in ‘Dynasty’, she only hates Yong Zheng to the core in here.

25. Mrs Bai – Lau Guai Fong
She has a hard time disciplining Shi Fen as his mother and is glad that he becomes a useful man.


Favourite character
Meng Se. She may be cunning and ruthless but she also has a kind heart. We can’t blame her for lying. What is more important in life than saving her own skin?

Most hated character
Kun. He will stop at nothing to achieve his aim. He never trusts others – not even his own wife, Meng Se. No wonder she wants to get away from him.

Songs
The themesong ‘Get involved in lift – tou ru shen ming’ is a great song which is fast-paced. The subtheme song ‘What is the price for a whole life – yi sheng he jia’ is a slow-moving song. Both are from Siu Lun and are well sung. They can be found in his 1993 compilation album. I bought it at a second-hand store for $5. Another song, ‘Love is deep but the sea is deeper – qing shen hai gen sheng’ is by Lai Chi. It was only passable as her voice is too weak.

Interesting scenes
None, all are too serious or sad to me. Only the fighting scenes with the bronze men fascinate me.

Interesting facts

TVB invested a lot of money on this serial – regarding it to be the blockbuster of the year. The producer took pain to choose the cast. They spent a month at Song mountain’s Shaolin Temple for the shoot. At first, Ekin was given the role of Shi Fen. He had no time and decided to take on the role as Kong Ti. However, in the end, he could not make it and Siu Fai replaced him.

More than 1000 stuntsmen were involved and 1000 secondary school students took part in the scene to act as monks in the ordain ceremony. On the first day of to try the costumes, the cast was there except for Li Ning, Siu Bing and Siu Lun. Li Ning was in America and Siu Lun was in Taiwan. Siu Bing was sick at home. All reporters were disappointed at not being able to take a complete group photo.

Siu Bing’s fans weren’t that happy upon knowing that her role was playing second fiddle to Lai Chi’s role. But she took it as a challenge to play a role of a 40 year old woman having a 20 year old youthful look. Moreover in the end, Meng Se loses her skills to become a woman looking like 80 years old. Oi Ming spent 10 days playing a killer. Many considered that it was a breakthrough for her as she really acted well although she was only there for 2 episodes.

Oi Ming was supposed to be resting but she didn’t wish to lose a chance to work with Li Ning – who was well reputed as the gymnastics prince. Many found Lai Chi looking like Yung Mei Ling and she confessed that she also borrowed tapes from TVB to observe how she acted in there. Many described as being prisoners there because the hotel was too far away from the filming site.

Siu Bing was sick and had gastritis. Poor her – only two unfamiliar staff accompanied her to the hospital and she was so lonely that she cried. She only felt better when she was with the rest. Even Siu Lun and Siu Fai were not the manly heroes that all know to be.

Before reaching the destination, Siu Lun already complained to his then wife (now ex-wife) on how tough work was and how he missed her. He was so afraid that he would fall sick like Siu Bing and was in tears when promising to write a letter to her daily. Probably he felt bad neglecting her for months. Siu Fai had a fever after a jog till he nearly fainted. He had used cold water to bathe as the electricity supply was down. Sui Wai was in the same room as him and braved with others in the snow to get him to see a doctor. Siu Fai described the ordeal like coming back from death and he was grateful to them for their help.

However, they knew how to enjoy themselves during leisure time. Siu Lun played mahjong. Can you believe that Siu Bing was so bored that she searched for others to practice her sword skills?? Lai Chi was banned from playing computer games by her mother in Hong Kong so she played to her heart’s content in the hotel room. She also became the ghost chaser for them.

Whenever she was on overseas trips, she would bring along an amulet and a photograph given by a monk. She would place them near her bed before going to sleep. Later, a stuntsman told her that her room once had a female ghost. When it could do nothing to her, it came to disturb him. Siu Lun was notorious for playing pranks on others. A TV fan asked him where Siu Lun was. Others could not believe that he could not recognize him. Siu Lun pointed at Siu Wai. Many controlled themselves not to laugh when he approached Sui Wai for Siu Lun’s signature. Sui Wai didn’t know how to deal with it. He didn’t explain so he just wrote Siu Lun’s name on the paper to shake him off!

Why did Li Ning agree to act a role in here? This was his dream all along. He wanted to build a gymnastics training school and he needed money. Thus he wanted to do this to make it come true faster. The filming was not too hard for him as all treated him well. They even called him ‘Master Li’ and respected him. He had gymnastics background so he didn’t need any extra for all his fighting scenes. He even tried jumping onto the horseback and did a 360 degree turn on it – just like the way he did for gymnastics stunts. The whole film crew clapped for it as he required no n.g.s.

Many were worried when Oi Ming took up the role. She was not Wai Ying Hung or Yeoh Chi Keng. Can she act a killer? Actually Li Ning was not better than her but gymnastics was similar to martial arts so it was not a problem for him. A joke was heard. Li Ning had requested the producer not to let Oi Ming look into his eyes directly. Why? He said she was a beauty with very enchanting eyes. Whenever she looked at him, he felt his heart beating faster and could not act well. So he wished her to give in to him.

The whole crew cracked up. He was as traditional as Li Lian Jie – thinking that any woman looking at him is to send electric currents over. When reporters suggest him to find more time to get along with her so that they could act better in intimate scenes, he quickly shook his head. He simply had nothing in common with her to talk about. This made all of them laugh again.

I saw a picture of a monk in the picture where I was required to make a guess. I could not recognize Li Ning at all! What happened? He shaved his head bald and acted as one of the 18 Shaolin bronze men. TVB bought a special golden make-up powder from Germany. It didn’t hurt the skin at all – of course, how can they ‘ill-treat’ a prince?

Did the ratings soar? The answer is no. He found exercising much easier. Unlike movies, filming a television serial requires direct dubbing. He was inexperienced. He could not coordinate acting with talking at the same time. That is why many found him stiff. He is good looking and fights gracefully. But he was too stiff. The response was lukewarm. Martial Arts expert, Cheng Hiu Dong admitted this fact but he quickly added that not all was inborn for acting. Li Ning was a sports star who commanded a lot of attention. But this experience made him realize that acting wasn’t easy after all.

I read another report. One of the actors in this serial was a lecher and was condemned by the whole team. Even the variety programmes grabbed him for interviews to shame him. All did not know who he was except that it was revealed that he was a newcomer with no outstanding work. When this was revealed, all were curious to know who he was. He must have done something wrong to cause anger to all but I felt that a chance should be given to him instead of putting him in bad light.

Conclusion

Many expected this serial to be a great blockbuster but it never turned out this way. The storyline is too serious and the main lead, Siu Lun doesn’t act well. This is very crucial. How can viewers get interested when the lead looks tired and bored to you? Moreover, we can see that he looks so uncomfortable in period roles and the way he manages with the pole makes me shake my head. How to believe that he masters the skill in the end? He is more suited to act in modern dramas.

Moreover, the main focus in on Li Ning and many are let down by his terrible acting. This may be a wrong move. It might not be so bad if Siu Lun shares equal screen time with him from the start to lead him into acting. He looks so uneasy with Oi Ming. If not for Oi Ming’s unforgettable role and his agility in displaying fighting scenes, I might not have continued watching.

It is strange that Oi Ming and Chui Han almost manage to upstage the other actresses with their limited screen time. They portray the determination that the women have during the era and they are so successful. They are willing to risk their lives and brave dangers. That stands out from the crowd. I always think that TVB doesn’t promote Siu Bing properly. She often ends up playing second fiddle to other actresses who can’t act. Even though she might be the lead in some serials, they are not blockbusters. Thus she isn’t as famous as the others. When she took part in this serial, she got attention and praises for her professionalism. Yet it stops here – no more meaty role after that! Why???

This serial has a boring plot so I don’t waste too much time to describe the story. If not for the splendid acting from the supporting cast, I could have stopped. Kar Fai and Lo Mong are great as the pugilistic monks because of their martial arts background. They can put almost all the young actors to shame. It seems that only Sui Wai has the ability to stand on his own. Maybe all should go for more fighting classes before they start acting.

Only watch this serial only when you have nothing to do or unless you are interested to see how the two Shaolin temples look. The scenery is great, though as almost the whole serial is shot in China. It is just an average serial to me. Not much surprises, except that you might wish to see how Siu Lun acts before his acting career goes downhill. I feel so sorry to this happening to him – since Kar Leung isn’t with TVB now, why not give more roles to him? He is also a great actor!

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : *** (Scale of 5)

On story : *** (Scale of 5)


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