Network Love Story

Reviewed by: cherrie

September 28, 2004

Rating: two

Benny Chan - Ho Jia Lin
Michelle Yip - Yang Hui Min
Lu Yi - Thao Khan
Jiang Hong - Liu Tsui Yin
Tong Da Wei - Zhou Wei
Chang Heng - Chen Fang
Kao Xiong - Yang Hui Min's father
Wang Lin - Xu Xu
Kevin Cheng Jia Yin - Lu Nai Sheng
Special Participation:
Liu Te Khai - Wang Ren Yi

Warning! Spoilers!

If you are a fan of any of the actors, I suggest you don’t read this any further. Consider yourself warned...

The Story:

The setting of this story takes place in Shanghai. Benny (Ho Jia Lin) is from Hong Kong (HK) and is quite successful in his career in Shanghai. He has a steady girlfriend of 3 years who resides in HK. They communicate only through chat because Benny is too busy with his career. One day, his girlfriend, Li Si, goes missing. He goes nuts asking everyone he knows of Li Si’s whereabouts. Finally, Li Si calls him and tells him that she is in Shanghai. Exultant, he rushes into the hotel where Li Si is staying and hugs her the minute he sees her. Then the bomb explodes. Li Si announces that she is going steady with Liu Te Khai (Wang Ren Yi) and that it’s time for them to end their relationship. Confused and hurt by his girlfriend and friend’s (he considers his boss his brother) betrayal, Jia Lin decides to resign from his work and set up a new company of his own. That’s when the true story begins.

When Jia Lin leaves his company, his co-worker and long time friend, Michelle (Yang Hui Min), decides to follow in his tracks. Michelle has been in love with him for the longest time. She is a very self-sacrificing woman for she does practically everything because of Jia Lin. They work together to establish their new internet company. They encounter several obstacles; including a shortage of funds. Aside from that, they are also in desperate need of manpower. They then try to persuade their other friend in Shanghai, Lu Yi (Thao Khan), to join them. At first, Thao Khan refuses. But later on, since he was being constantly pursued by his boss, an older woman named Xu Xu (played by Wang Lin), he decides to resign and enters Ching Chun (the name of Benny's and Michelle’s company) as a web page designer. They also try to recruit an employee from Xin Xin Real Estates, a girl named Liu Tsui Yin (played by Jiang Hong), who had garnered first place in a web design contest. Tsui Yin refuses. It is quite interesting to note that all the characters are working in the same building; in fact, Ching Chun and Xin Xin are even located on the same floor.

The first few tapes focus on the constant bickering of Thao Khan and Tsui Yin. This is because of the web design contest. Thao Khan thinks that Tsui Yin didn’t deserve to win; Tsui Yin, on the other hand, keeps on mocking Thao Khan for losing the award to her. Unknown to the both of them, they are actually good chat! Thao Khan is known as Chang Feng Da Xia in chat while Tsui Yin is known as Dou Dou.

And then we are introduced to another character: Zhou Wei (played by Tong Da Wei) enters with his wild coloured hair and rugged clothes...exactly the opposite of the attire of the people in that building. He even slides his way to the elevator (in his scooter). This irks the two co-workers of Xin Xin. Later on, he gets accepted as an assistant to Thao Khan and eventually bumps into Tsui Yin. He at once falls in love with Tsui Yin and starts his persistent pursuit of her. One day when he was in Xin Xin, he spoke French fluently. This raised the attention of Tsui Yin’s supervisor, Chen Fang (played by Chang Heng). She has always been fascinated with the French language and plans to live in France someday. Planning to save Tsui Yin from the persistent pursuit of Zhou Wei (which was annoying Tsui Yin) and at the same time get herself a private tutor, Chen Fang makes a deal with Zhou Wei...he has to teach Chen Fang French and in exchange, Chen Fang will help him with Tsui Yin. Their first meeting was a failure though. Zhou Wei was late and when he took Chen Fang to his home, Chen Fang got quite a shock. Zhou Wei’s home was like a dumpsite! Worn shirts and socks were everywhere and the glasses were not even rinsed. When he offered her something to drink, guess how he got a glass? He just rinsed the inside of the glass before filling it with water and handing it to Chen Fang. For their next lesson, Zhou Wei is once again late so Chen Fang decides to wait in his "house" (I always thought it was a "kow wo" or a doghouse.) While waiting, Chen Fang decides to clean his room for she can’t stand learning in such a messy place. When Zhou Wei gets home, he gets angry with Chen Fang for touching his things. Later on though, as they have more and more lessons together, Zhou Wei becomes attracted to Chen Fang. He tries very hard to please her, which of course, includes cleaning his room. Chen Fang, as we may have noticed in the film, is quite comfortable when talking to Zhou Wei. Let’s just leave this couple for now and go to the rest.

Another character in this series is Hui Min’s father (played by Kao Xiong). He’s the big boss of Xin Xin Real Estates. It is quite evident that he has special feelings towards Chen Fang and has a great appreciation for Tsui Fang. However, successful as he may be in his career, he is not on good terms with his daughter. His daughter hates him because when his wife died, he wasn’t able to be at her side. Instead, he was with Chen Fang. Unknown to her, at the time when his wife died, he was very sick and bedridden and had been unconscious for days. Fortunately, one day when he was sick, Hui Min decides to visit him. His diary is revealed and read by Hui Min. Knowing the truth, Hui Min apologises and forgives him.

Another character is Xu Xu (played by Wang Lin). This woman is the "villain" in this series. She is hopelessly in love with her subordinate Thao Khan and would do practically anything to gain his love. Unfortunately, Thao Khan is not interested in her and eventually sets his heart on Dou Dou, his internet friend. Out of vengence, Xu Xu first cheats Jia Lin in the hope of causing the downfall of their new company. Then, she persuades Hui Min’s father to pressure Jia Lin to pay his debts to Xin Xin (when they were establishing Ching Chun, they were short of funds so Hui Min decided to borrow their starting capital from her father). Xu Xu’s motive here was revenge for being "dumped". In the end, she just vanished into thin air!

The last character I want to introduce is Lu Nai Sheng (played by Kevin Cheng Jia Yin). He is the owner of a famous jewellery store. This guy is a total stalker! He follows Tsui Yin wherever she goes. Tsui Yin even has a nightmare because of him! The only good thing he did in the series was perhaps the time when he saved Tsui Yin from being raped. In my opinion, this guy is very very stupid! In the hope of gaining Tsui Yin’s love, he even spent a huge amount of money just to help her! What a fool!

Some more details...

Jia Lin loves Hui Min. But he lost his confidence when his girlfriend cheated on him. He is afraid that if his relationship with Hui Min doesn’t work out, he would lose Hui Min. So he’d rather pretend that he had no special feelings whatsoever towards Hui Min and even flirted with some girls in the bar. Hui Min, on the other hand, all the way thought that Jia Lin had no special feelings for her so she went to Thao Khan for some advice. This brought them closer together although they never developed feelings other than friendship towards each other. Jia Lin grew more and more jealous whenever he saw them together. Finally, after a major crisis in the company, Jia Lin finally admits his feelings for Hui Min by hugging her. But their story doesn’t stop there! The problem with the both of them is that they are never open to each other. Jia Lin keeps his jealousy towards Thao Khan to himself while Hui Min keeps her jealousy towards the bar girls to herself. Their confrontation comes only when Li Si once again shows up to seek Jia Lin’s comfort (she had a fight with Wang Ren Yi). After their thundering outburst, Jia Lin blurts out that he’d rather give up everything just to be with Hui Min. After that they kissed passionately and...end of their love story!

Thao Khan and Tsui Yin’s relationship improves as the story progresses. Their relationship grows from spite to appreciation and eventually they begin to like each other. After a while Thao Khan begins to suspect that Tsui Yin and Dou Dou are indeed one person because he finds Tsui Yin’s ideas to be somewhat similar, or if not, the same as Dou Dou’s. Tsui Yin, however, finds out about Thao Khan’s identity as Chang Feng Da Xia when she takes a look into his computer and finds the messages she had sent. Tsui Yin, on the other hand, does not reveal her true identity though. The love Thao Khan feels for Tsui Yin becomes evident to us when she is nearly raped by a maniac manager. However, she thinks she was really raped and disappears. Thao Khan worries and looks for her in practically every place in Shanghai. Their love story nears an end with Tsui Yin finding out that she wasn’t raped and regaining her old self. She and Chang Feng Da Xia decide to meet again (at the time of their first meeting, Thao Khan wasn’t able to attend because Zhou Wei was beaten up and had to be taken to the hospital). Actually, the story ends as well when they embrace each other amid fireworks in the background.

The other couple, Zhou Wei and Chen Fang also had a good ending. There was a time when Chen Fang was very confused that she left for France when Zhou Wei admitted his feelings for her. However, when she came back, she first went to Kao Xiong to apologise for not accepting his love because she had already fallen for Zhou Wei. Well, as I’ve said, a happy ending for Zhou Wei and Chen Fang!

Who else...Oh! Lu Nai Sheng! This stalker went back to Hong Kong and when he returned to Shanghai, Tsui Yin found out that Lu Nai Sheng’s wife looked exactly the same as her! (Of course played by the same actress). She also found out the reason why Lu Nai Sheng kept on stalking her. It was found out later that Lu Nai Sheng had a fight (or divorce, I’m not really sure) with his wife. Then when his wife left him, he suffered from a stress disorder (if I’m not mistaken) and when he saw Tsui Yin, he mistook her to be his wife. But eventually, he met up with his true wife and they got back together. Lu Nai Sheng regained his old normal self (well-shaven and without his stupid goatee).

By the way, in the end, Jia Lin and Hui Min’s father opened a new internet company with Lu Nai Sheng as sponsor. Also, Tsui Yin got promoted.

My Comments about this Series:

Wow! I never thought that I’d write this much! So after an exhaustive summary, here are my views about the series.

Honestly, I didn't like this series because the story was too simple...not to mention plain boring. Also, the story was too shallow. I prefer films that have twists and turns and that have a meaning. Since the story was that bad, the characters also didn’t act well. They were all like robots - so stiff. After watching Benny in Demi Gods and Semi Devils as the playful Duan Yu, I said to myself that although he might not be the best actor, he certainly has the potential to become one. But after watching him in this Ho Jia Lin character, I just plain dislike the sight of him. Not that I hate him per se, but his’s just too weak for a man! His first appearance was quite promising (when he was reporting on some sort of major project their company would be doing). He was very smart-looking there, displaying confidence and ease. But when he started his own company, not only did his confidence vanish; even his intelligence! Imagine being fooled by Xu Xu. That’s just too much! Well practically everyone in the series (at least his two closest friends) knew the true colours and intentions of Xu Xu for investing in their company. But he still insisted his way. And I certainly disliked the fact that he didn’t have a social life! All he did was work in his office for like hours. I’m not against workaholics, but when he "isolated" himself from others and got jealous of Thao Khan, I just wanted to shout, "Serves you right!" In my opinion, Benny shouldn’t have accepted this role.

In "Eternal Happiness", I was also fascinated by Michelle’s acting. I mean, it’s quite rare for a TVB actress to portray a naughty role that well. And since that was the first series I watched with Michelle in it, I became an instant fan of Michelle as well. But when watching Yang Hui Min, I couldn’t believe the horrendous transformation of Michelle in my impression. From a cute, witty teen, she immediately transformed into a mature and self-sacrificing (or should I say pathetic) woman. From the very start of the series, she had been hopelessly in love with Ho Jia Lin. And this really annoyed me. Yang Hui Min was supposedly a modern and independent woman (as seen whenever she advised Thao Khan; she was quite assertive) but when in front of Jia Lin, she became a timid goat...a typical Chinese girl of the ancient times. It made me think that she only existed in this world because of Jia Lin. The centre of her life was Jia Lin. VERY INFURIATING!

Thao Khan’s role was that of a hero. Someone who was very righteous and proper - made me think of Jin Yong’s male lead characters. I also don’t like his character. He’s too "straight" and I don’t believe that there are still people nowadays like him. He’s just too boring to watch. Although of course his good looks might have helped much in making some audiences continue to watch the series. And gosh! He’s sooo slow! He doesn’t even recognise Dou Dou and Tsui Yin to be the same person despite having being in contact with both for a long time. Also, what kind of a man is he? When Tsui Yin suggested that they meet for the first time, he should have accepted. Actually, it’s more proper if he was the one who requested it. For God’s sake, he is a man! It’s already wrong to let the girl ask first and worst, turning her down. VERY FRUSTRATING!

Tsui Yin was trying too hard to be cute. She tried to be very active like a little girl, but sorry to say, she failed to gain my admiration. That actress just couldn't act. She was so stiff the whole time and I can’t believe that three of the male characters in the series fell in love with her?!? I mean, she’s just...trying too hard. And her hair...makes me want to yank it off her head! It looks like she doesn’t comb her hair at all every morning. I know it’s style and all, but it irritated me!

Zhou Wei. Another character that irritated me. This actor really overacted. Especially when he first appeared in his scooter outfit with his overall hippie look. I wonder why Jia Lin and Co. didn’t even say something about what he ought to wear when coming to work. I mean, who would hire a hippie into his company especially when his office was in a high-class district? And when he changed his hairdo towards the end of the series, it was also annoying. He instantly became a flat head. He looked stupid and his expression while he waited for Chen Fang’s return looked as though he was a puppy waiting for his master to return. Just stupid.

The character that most annoyed me...Lu Nai Sheng! This guy was crazy! Not to mention worthless. I didn’t see the point of his role.

Another character that I will complain of is Hui Min’s father. Yeah I know this actor is a veteran, but gosh! His Mandarin is sooo pathetic! But I guess he’s much better than his counterparts though.

As for the minor casts, the co-workers of Tsui Yin, I just wanted to tell them, "Keep your big mouths shut!" all the time. Never seen such nosy and vain people. The characters of Tsui Min’s aunt and her friends were also out for good. They were an excess to the series.

I have no comments whatsoever of Chen Fang for she didn’t do exceptionally good nor exceptionally bad. Maybe there’s one comment...PLAIN BORING!

I also suggest that the makeup artist/s and hairdressers go back to beauty school. Their makeup (especially Hui Min with her two pink blushes on both cheeks) really sucks! Also, the makeup made some characters look old (particularly Benny). And their hairdos were also bad. Well I have already mentioned Zhou Wei’s, and I’d like to add Benny. His hair also contributed to him "looking" old.

Despite all my negative views regarding this series, there were also some few good aspects in this movie. For one, I hated Xu Xu so much that I reacted violently as I watched her cunning vengence plan unfold. And because of this, she was the most successful character in this series. Wang Lin didn’t fail in my expectations of her. I have always thought she was a good actress when I watched Romance in the Rain (Qing Shen Shen Yu Meng Meng) wherein she played the role of the evil 9th mistress and Ru Ping’s mom. Although it quite surprised me that she can still wear sexy clothes despite her age. But she doesn’t look that old, does she? Too bad she just disappeared from the series after her talk with Hui Min’s father.

Another plus point for this series was the scenery. Good old Shanghai was definitely the perfect place for this series. I went to Shanghai just this summer and it’s like a different part of China. Shanghai is definitely very advanced now. Some are even saying that it will soon be the future Hong Kong (or is it so already?)

The themesongs are also good. At first, I didn’t like the opening theme; but as I watched the series, I grew to love the song. I especially liked the ending theme (the one sung by Jiang Hong).

Overall, I don’t recommend this series unless you want to see Shanghai. Good thing it’s only 10 tapes long (or 20 chapters) so it will not cost you that much.

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