Man in Charge

Reviewed by: sukting

July 22, 2012

Rating: two-point-five

How long
20 episodes

Set during the Qing Dynasty of China in the mid 18th century, Man in Charge tells the story of an official adviser, Chau Bing and his relationship with the young county official, Shum Kwan Pok Bing obtains a secure job as Kwan-Pok's private adviser and the two become good friends. They both try to root out Manchu government corruptions. Do they become successful?

Story/Introduction on characters
1. Ma Kok Ming as Chow Bing
He is formerly Hangzhou magistrate’s advisor. He detests his corruption and writes in a letter to cost him to lose his job. He is jobless till his teacher gets him to be Kwan Pok’s advisor. He has not wanted to work for an arrogant brat but gives in after knowing that he is Yau Kung’s biological son. Both do not see eye on many cases. He nearly wants to give up on him till he learns. When realizing that his loved ones are dead due to him, he fights back to make sure that justice is done.

Kok Ming has improved from the past – I can see his effort in remembering the long lines. But his smiles can be irritating. His crying scenes can be better. It can be torturing for Yuk Hing’s death scene – I simply think that it isn’t touching enough.

2. Tsui Chi San as Chiu Yuk Hing / Siu Hon
She is Ping’s shrew wife and he is very frightened of her. That is more due to feeling grateful to her as she rescues him from embarrassment as he is naked after being tricked. She is actually an undercover spy. Ping’s parents commit suicide after failing to kill Yong Zheng. In order to investigate the case, Yong Zheng set up a group. Many are killed while others are still on the run till now.

The spy camp gets Siu Hon to be Yuk Hing to marry him. Yuk Hing’s family doesn’t want to get related to Bing after what happens. Members from the spy camp pretend to be Siu Hon’s family in order to trick him.

However, she finds nothing all these years and even falls for him. Yuk Hing is told to kill Bing to close up the case as the group is to be dismissed but she does not listen as she gradually falls in love with Bing. In fact, she tries to save him whenever he is attacked. Yuk Hing is killed while saving Bing when Kwan Bok hires assassins to kill him. Chi San’s acting improves but there is no chemistry between her and Kok Ming.

3. Tong Ning as Chong Siu Han / Tung Yin
She is the owner of a wine restaurant and is good in playing ancient golf. She falls for Bing and is irritated when he doesn’t tell her that he is married. She gets more agitated when he doesn’t dare to tell his wife to want the best of both worlds even though she is willing to be his second wife. Although she is frightened, she still saves Yuk Hing when she is poisoned by darts. She gets along well with Yuk Hing and obeys her last wish to marry Bing after her death. She then retreats with Bing to Zhu Jiang to teach the commoners golf there. I have always enjoyed watching her act as it is a pleasure. She acts well as a strong person here who is very independent and doesn’t show fear when facing Yuk Hing.

4. Ko Kuan Yin as Shum Kwan Bok
He is a spoilt brat from young and doesn’t appreciate Bing’s help at first. He goes through the hard way to become friends with him. He wants to be a fair official to get rid of corruption to provide a clean government.

However, Kwan Pok totally changed to a villain, he in directly made his biological father commit suicide in the prison. He also tries to kill Bing to keep his secret as Bing knows that his mentor is actually his biological father. He also causes Yuk Hing’s death. He is later sent to the wilds for Bing’s case to rear horses and die of cold. My goodness – how many years has he acted and he still acts like a newcomer? It is also not his first time working with Chi San and we can compare how the former improves. He has wasted this precious chance.

5. Lau Kar Fai as Tai Yau Kung
He is Bing’s mentor who brings him up after his parents entrust him to him. He gives his son away to Cheung Luen as that time there was a scholar who wrote something which offended the emperor, Yong Zheng, and was killed, and since then the tests for scholars in order to be a county official in Zhe Jiang is diminished.

He wants to see his son being a county official, so he gave his son to his friend. He accidentally kills the midwife who wants to tell the truth. Seeing how Go threatens his son with his parentage, he chooses to kill himself in prison.

6. Lau Kong as Shum Cheung Luen
He is Yau Kung’s friend who brings up Kwan Pok as his own but spoils him rotten. He doesn’t know how to discipline him. His own son is stillborn on the same day when Kwan Pok is born. Since then, he has no other children so he treats him well so as not to let Yau Kung down. He shakes his head when Kwan Pok still blames him for his plight even before his death.

7. Wong Chi Yin as Yim Go
He seems upright but he doesn’t. Kwan Pok regards him as his mentor but he is the mastermind of the corrupted system. He also causes Bing’s parents’ death by reporting to Yong Zheng to become an official later. He steals the antiques and also smuggles opium. He forces Kwan Pok to work with him, using his parentage to threaten him. He is later tricked by Kwan Pok to go on the run and is later killed by his lover when he tries to seek refuge.

8. Kwok Fung as Fourteenth prince
He is the mastermind over the assassination. He has wanted to be the emperor. He is later forced to drink the poisonous wine and dies. This shocks Kwan Pok and he knows that his life is at risk for knowing the secret. Bing visits him in prison by bribing the guards. He already knows the secret to lure him to find the letter in the ancestor’s home. Kwan Pok is totally blinded by greed and refuses to let Wong Cheng know. If Wong knows this, he could have dissuaded Kwan Pok from telling Qian Long to save his own life.

9. Tseung Chi Kong as Bak Yuk Long
He is the son of Siu Han’s father’s golf rival. He has wanted to win the restaurant back from her so he keeps challenging her to matches. Later, he falls for her and forces her to marry him when he wins the match, taking advantage as she is distracted by Bing’s infidelity. He is another actor whom I look out for – you must not miss him as he provides the most laughs.

10. Wong Ching as Lien Cheung Shing
He is the helper of the restaurant and tries his best to help his mistress.

11. Lee Kwok Lun as Diu Pang Fai
He is a low official but he cares for the people. He hits off well with Bing but alas, he is executed when he is unable to settle the An Hui flood victims when the food supplies do not arrive on time. Bing clears his name after knowing that Hing Nam is the culprit.

12. Sin King Ying as Ao Tu
He is the head of the spy service. He looks ruthless but he lets Yuk Hing off repeatedly. When the group is disband, he hopes that Siu Han will remarry someone else to leave Bing but she refuses. He is unable to kill Bing when she is around.

13. Kong Hon as Hong Hing Nam
He is the corrupted official who keeps the food supplies to himself to sell them for money. Bing sees through his scheme to get him arrested but is peeved when he is let go due to Go’s influence in court. However, he is arrested when he is found of smuggling opium in the end.

14. Lee Hong Kit as Chu Sheung Yan
He is a greedy court official and Bing initially works for him. Bing can’t see the commoners suffer so he writes a letter to the court to reveal that he has lied having 800 hectares of fertile land. Thus, Kwan Pok is wary of Bing after knowing this from Cheng. He doesn’t want to lose his post like him.

15. Yu Chun Shun as Wong Cheng
He is formerly Hing Nam’s advisor and regrets not having the chance to go through the imperial exams to become a court official. He helps Kwan Pok to conceal the fact that he isn’t intimidated by Hing Nam’s threat to kill the two women for the exchange of the money for the food supplies.

He finds Kwan Pok ruthless and doesn’t mind working for him. He totally brainwashes him to not to believe Bing anymore. Kwan Pok has thought that Bing is only too direct but later chooses to believe him that Bing is dangerous to ruin his career. Cheng even helps him to frame Bing into jail. Seeing that Kwan Pok doesn’t trust him anymore, he leaves him.

16. Wong Jak Fung as Cheung Mo Mo
He is Bing’s servant who helps him in court.

17. Lam Ying Hung as Lee Tin Heung
She is Yuk Hing’s maid who is very timid but is also hardworking.

18. Lee Lai Lai as Chan Yuk Lan
She is Yau Kung’s second wife after Kwan Pok’s mother dies. She doesn’t look down on Bing who is jobless as she helps to bring him up and has regarded him as her son.

19. Ho Kei Wan as Yam Fei Yin
She is Yau Kong’s third wife who looks down on Bing for being poor. She knows that Yau Kung keeps giving him money and grumbles over this.

20. Kok Tuck Shun as Governor Sheung
He conspires with the salt gang bandits to kidnap Kwan Pok. Kwan Pok nearly dies and luckily he is saved by the emperor.

21. Wong Wai Tuck as Chow Yat Ching
He is highly skilled and is Jian Long’s assistant. He is sent to help Kwan Pok sometimes by the emperor. He is also smart and alert – when listening to Bing pouring woes over a case and saying that Kwan Pok is unfair. He immediately makes sure that the case is re-opened.

22. Chan San Chung as Emperor Jian Long
He roams the world and rescues Kwan Pok by chance when he is nearly killed at sea by Hing Nam’s killers. He admires his abilities and promotes him. He checks how the commoners are getting through simple meals. He doesn’t kill Hing Nam initially as he doesn’t have enough evidence against Go. However, he is ruthless and never shows kindness to his uncle. He will get rid of anyone who is against him.

Interesting facts
Chi San and Kok Ming worked together again after 《女人唔易做》、《少年四大名捕》、《甜言蜜语》. The director thought they were compatible with each other so he arranged them to act as a married couple in here after 《甜言蜜语》It was also Chi San’s third time working with Kuan Yin after 舞動全城 and 《甜言蜜语》 Both found it funny as they were as a loving couple there but were enemies in here.

At TVB Anniversary Awards (2009), it was nominated for Best Drama and My Favourite Male Character ( Ma Kok Ming). The rating was at 25 points. Peak was at 32 points.

Most favourite character
Siu Han, she is daring to pursue her love. Who will be like her to go all the way to look for her man after knowing that he is in trouble and she misses him? And she is frank to reject Yuk Long when she doesn’t like him. I admire her guts for it!

Most hated character
Bing, no doubt he is intelligent but he likes to throw his weight around. He is also a terrible two-timer! Can you believe that he actually buys the same things for Siu Han and Yuk Hing? He also writes the same letters to them when he is out of town – only the name is different. He conceals the fact that he is married to win Siu Han’s heart. Moreover, he is too intimate towards Siu Han in front of Yuk Hing. This man is simply too much.

It is Man Behind the Scene (幕後人) by Kenneth Ma and Matthew Ko. Their singing is quite good although they are not professional singers.

The stories are supposedly to be intriguing as they are written by Mr Lee Tiem Shing – the same person who writes ‘Rosy Business’ and ‘No Regrets’. But because he ropes in a cast who fails to deliver the suspense, everything looks dull. The lines are intelligently written but the cast do not bring out the atmosphere that is supposed to be. They are experienced but they act raw. What has gone wrong? Is it because it is a period drama and they are not used to it?

Many may find the court dialogues most difficult to stomach but to me, they are well depicted of how desperate everyone is to please the upper. It also shows how many people’s lives are affected by an imperial exam just by one decision of the emperor. In fact, the supporting cast who acts in the different segments put up a stronger performance than them. I am quite disappointed by their acting. Only watch when you have the time.

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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