Love in a Decadent City


Reviewed by: sukting

January 02, 2009

Rating: three-point-five

How long
20 episodes

Foreword
Many have said that Siu Fai has worked the most times with Hoi Mei. Do you wish to know why? This story happens in Shanghai in the 1930s. It is about 3 brothers who go through a lot of hardship. Their love story is also a touching one. Hoi Mei worked with Lai Kit later in 怒劍嘯狂沙.

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Do Chi Jing – Chow Hoi Mei
She first meets Kai Kong when he tours ShangHai. Although both do not talk much, they leave a deep impression of each other. She likes him but she is engaged to Lek Hang. She is too poor while he is too rich. Thus she is tormented between the two men.

Later, both are separated by a fire. Lek Hang has never forgotten her and rescues her from it. She wishes to return to Kai Kong but stops when King San threatens to harm her and Kai Kong if they continue to see each other. Thus, they part unwillingly again. But realizing how she is unable to forget Kai Kong, Lek Hang backs out so that she can be with him again.

Hoi Mei was at first chosen to act as But Fui but later taken out to act in here. She was quite raw then but she improved towards the end.

2. Kung Kai Kong – Cheung Siu Fai
His father passes away when he is young so his mother remarries a banker. He often feels that he is an outsider although his stepfather treats him well. He returns home from Japan and meets Yuk Chau on board the ship. He has wished to become a doctor but Man Chuen wants him to be a banker. He tries fro a while but can’t tolerate the boring life and insists of opening a clinic.

It is also love at first sight for Kai Kong towards Chi Jing. He is delighted when she comes to work t his clinic. He tries to woo her but tragedy strikes. The police accuses Kai Kong and Chi Jing for murdering Lek Hang. He is dismayed when Man Chuen bails him out but leaves Chi Jing in the cell.

He turns to Yuk Chau for help. Chi Jing is finally released to be with Kai Kong. But happiness does not last as Kung bank collapses. King San ruins his wedding day to set a fire. The whole family is pursued by killers. He thinks that Chi Jing has died in a fire and loses all hope in life. His heart is never given to Yuk Chau and he remains devoted to Chi Jing till the end.

Siu Fai is excellent in this drama. Unfortunately, he isn’t promoted properly to be among the A list of TVB stable of actors which he rightfully belongs to.

3. Kung Kai Wah – Kwan Lai Kit
He is the rebellious youngest brother. He is Yuk Chau’s younger brother, Bo Mun’s classmate. But both often fight so it turns both families into enemies. He befriends Wai Sam and both become lovers. Both are equally reckless to sleep together for the night. Because of King San’s setup, Kai Wah is locked in the prison with Kai Kong. Both undergo a lot of torture. Kai Kong marries Yuk Chau unwillingly as he has to rescue Kai Wah out.

When I look at the name, I wish to laugh. How will poor Ng Kai Wah think upon watching this drama? And this role is detestable for causing so much damage done to his family for being reckless. I think Lai Kit fares better in ‘The Battle of the Clans’. But I don’t know why – when I am watching this drama, somehow he and Siu Fai reminds me of Tak Wah and Chiu Wai. Do others think the same way too?

4. Yim Yuk Chau – Lau Bik Yee
She is the only son of a rich businessman. It is love at first sight for her on the ship with Kai Kong. She is tormented when Kai Kong begs her to save Chi Jing from the prison. She conceals her feelings and gets her father to help Chi Jing. She knows that Kai Kong doesn’t love her but she loves him deeply and doesn’t mind marrying him.

She gives in to him all the time and endures all kinds of insults from Kai Wah. Thus Kai Kong accepts her in the end. However, Chi Jing’s return gives the three agony. She is pregnant but later killed. Quite a sad role but she does farely well.

5. Tien Lek Hang – Ou Yeung Chun Wah
He is a richshaw puller who knows the two brothers. He becomes their pals although there is a big gap between them. He is dismayed to know that Kai Kong is wooing his fiancée, Chi Jing. So he sets to break them up. He even forces Chi Jing to leave ShangHai with him. Kai Kong chases all the way to the harbour. During an argument, Lek Hang falls into the sea and his body isn’t found so he is presumed drowned.

When he is back and goes through the wedding plans with Chi Jing, he suspects her of being unable to forget Kai Kong. The three sit down to have a chat. He decides to back out as he knows Kai Kong is the most important person to Chi Jing no matter what happens.

Many will find it unbelievable to see a Chun Wah to be so slim and having so much hair. Who has never been young before? His role wins my sympathy vote – it is fair of him to feel angry over his friend going after his fiancée, isn’t it?

6. Kung Fai – Ng Chun Yu
He is the eldest son who is very quiet but he treats the younger brothers as his own siblings. Knowing that Kai Kong yearns to be a doctor instead of a banker, he helps him secretly. He is often busy with business so he doesn’t know how to show concern to his wife. He has a bid shock of his life when she wants a divorce to be with King San. He points his gun at her, forbidding her to leave but lets her go as he is unable to bring himself to kill her.

Knowing of Suk Jing’s remarriage and knowing that King San is in cahoots with the rebel general, he gets people to set fire to their military warehouse. King San gets so mad that he spreads ugly rumours about the Kung bank causing it to be on the verge of bankruptcy.

Equally unbelievable will be how Chun Yu bellows down to this extent but he shines although he talks little. Yet, his presence is noticeable and he is able to project a man’s image strongly who is unlucky in his career and love life.

7. Lam Wai Sam – Sin Bo Wah
She is a happy-go-lucky girl who doesn’t know what sorrow is and is very cheerful. She helps her family to manage the bun shop. She likes Kai Wah deeply and hopes to marry him. This actress looks plain and the same is commented on her acting. I don’t really like her. Glad that she leaves showbuzz. Many must be puzzled why Kai Wah falls for her as she is very ordinary.

8. Lee Suk Jing – Cui Kar Bo
She is Fai’s wife who feels very lonely as her husband is very busy. King San steals her heart but showing her concern. Both sleep together for a night and she remarries him later. As usual, Kar Bo is at one of her best here although she plays a supporting role.

9. Yim King San – Chun Pui
He is a scheming businessman who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He has been eyeing on the Kung’s bank for a long time. He is also a romantic – he is knowledgeable and also shows Suk Jing concern to win her heart. He marries Suk Jing and Fai ruins his wedding by getting drunk. He gets his men to beat him up. But he dotes on his children, wanting to give them the best. Chun Pui’s acting is already powerful then – what’s more now?

10. Kung Man Chuen – Bao Fong
Sau Fun marries him and he treats her sons like his own. He even sponsors their studies and even gets Kai Kong to study in Japan. Knowing that Lek Hang is implicated for Lek Hang’s death, he bails him out. His two younger sons propose marrying the two women who are not of his choice. He feels that Chi Jing implicates Kai Kong while Wai Sam is too intimate towards Kai Wah before marriage.

Kai Kong threatens to leave home and Fai’s marriage fails. Furthermore, Sau Fun persuades him to meet the two women. He discovers their qualities and finally agrees. This shows that he isn’t as unreasonable as he seems.

11.Yeung Sau Fun – So Hing Hin
She is a widow and marries a banker. Grateful to him, she also treats Fai like her own. She also helps Kai Kong to open a clinic, knowing that he isn’t interested to help out in the bank. She is traditional but also thinks of her sons’ interest to consent to their marriage to persuade her husband to agree to it.

12. Lai Chong Ming – Chan Kar Fai
Kai Kong and Kai Wah have this friend to thank. He brings Kai Kong to tour around ShangHai when he is free and both get to know Chi Jing. Knowing a bun shop owner’s daughter, Wai Sam, he asks her to recommend someone to work for Kai Kong’s clinic, Chi Jing goes for the interview for Kai Kong to meet her again. He also introduces her to Kai Wah who also falls for her later.

Favourite character

Lek Hang, who will be as noble as him to give up the woman he loves most to another man? Especially when the man is his best friend? Doesn’t he hate him?

Most hated character

King San. He not only ruins Fai’s marriage by marrying Suk Jing. He also ruins Kai Kong’s marriage by pressing him to marry Yuk Chau.

Song

The song title is the same as the serial. It is sung by the late Chan Pak Keung. He was excellent – it tells the suffering the leads for loving the wrong people or losing their loved ones. It is found in his 夢裡人 album.

Conclusion

It is a typical rich man loves poor woman story. Yet, the 80s is the golden era for TVB. They had the best cast and script writers then. Shooting the old Shanghai dramas is also one of their strengths as we can see how comfortable all slip into their roles, unlike the present cast now who look so awkward. Even though some dramas can be long-winded or beyond acceptance/imagination, their acting and the wardrobe still look convincing to all.

Hoi Mei is very lucky in her career. She has worked with Lai Ming, Siu Lun, Tse Leung, Leung Wai, Dai Yu, Yat Wah, Yiu Mun, Lui Fong and even Tak Wah. But I feel that she is most matching with Siu Fai. They have worked together in 6 dramas, including this drama if I remember correctly. The others are ‘Where I belong’, ‘Being Honest’, ‘Plain Love’, ‘Asian Heroes’ and’ 赢单传奇’ If they are not successful, how can they be working for so many times?

But although how deep their love is, they have hurt the others involved. It seems that the producer is so eager to get rid of the poor Lek Hang to force the two back together. Not wanting Kai Kong to be an unfaithful husband, they also dispose Yuk Chau conveniently. Still, I guess many will wish them to be a pair as they suffer so much hardship. If you like happy endings, this one should be able to satisfy you.

Sukting’s ratings :

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

On story : *** (Scale of 5)

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



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