Return of the Private Eye


Reviewed by: sukting

December 04, 2008

Rating: three-point-five

How long
10 episodes

Foreword
Have you ever seen Ha Yu acting as a detective before? This drama is able to satisfy your curiosity. There is also a special guest who only shows her face at the ending. Do you wish to know who she is?

Story

Ping On opens a private investigation agency with his son, Tin Mun. Both often check on small cases, unlike the days he had in the police force. His often-used phrase is ‘never let your mind idle'. Their alertness solves a bomb case at a supermarket, much to the displeasure of his ex-colleague, Da Yan. He has been at loggerheads with him for a long time as he gets praise from Superintendent Lo.

Ping On retired early due to constant nagging from his wife, Yuk Hing. But opening the agency has been his wish all along to help others. However, he often gets petty assignments, such as looking for lost pets and adultery cases. He finds them unchallenging – his clients are funny indeed to give him plaques that note ‘adultery catcher and beast saviours’. (This joke really sends everyone laughing.) Tin Mun still hangs them to improve their business.

A rich businessman, Chong San, seeks his help to find out who in the family wants to poison him. Ping On gets approval from Yuk Hing to stay in the Kum family with Tin Mun, pretending to be a qigong master. Although the family is rich, the interior is old as Chong San is very stingy. He still owes Ping On a lot of money. Ping On does a check – his only daughter, Kok Yee, is his housekeeper.

His second son, Kok Ping, and Tin Na like to show off. Chong San refuses to help to sponsor the loan that they have promised a television station. His youngest son, Kok Shang, is jobless and idle at home. He owes loansharks a lot of money, so Chong San helps him out, wanting him to pay by installments. Wing Hsuen is the siblings’ aunt who is often sick and has to be taken care of by her private nurse, Tong Sum.

Chong San’s eldest son, Kok Chung, takes care of the business but he is weak in nature. Lai Wah is unhappy over his attitude. She meets her ex-lover, Ping On. Both are delighted but keep this from the rest. There is a fire in the garden the next day. When all rush there, someone puts poison in Chong San’s milk. Ping On is unable to find the culprit but warns Chong San of the danger. Chong San has no choice but to pay Ping On his bill.

Tin Mun then threatens Ping On to get him a hi-fi set or else he will tell Yuk Hing about his past with Lai Wah. The two see Kok Yee and Lai Wah swimming in the cold at the beach. Ping On and Tin Mun part ways to tail Kok Yee and Kok Shang. Kok Yee goes for a cookery class but buys a packet of rat poison on the way. Ping On doesn’t have the evidence that she is the culprit.

Chong San is always against Lai Wah and blames the couple for being spendthrifts when having their supper in the kitchen. Kok Yee consoles her as they are dependent on Chong San for life. Lai Wah is still lucky to have Kok Chung by her side while she is a widow. She says on impulse that she will want to poison the people she hates with rat poison.

Tin Mun also finds nothing wrong with Kok Shang. He comes in from the back door as he is late and hears Tin Na’s screams that there is a thief. Nothing is missing and all return to sleep. Ping On finds a few dead rats in the kitchen and Kok Yee tells him not to bother her. Kok Yee tells Lien Sum to sleep so that she can take care of Wing Hsuen. Kok Shang is fascinated by Lien Sum and tries to molest her but Tin Mun comes on time. Tin Mun is also attracted to her.

Chong San has a wooden box that keeps some old things. Ping On finds a photo of him with an Indonesian girl. Chong San doesn’t reply so Ping On gets Lawyer Chan to check on the identity. Chong San wants to throw the box away but Wing Hsuen stops him as this is her late sister’s wedding present. Wing Hsuen suffers from mental illness and accuses him of murdering her sister. Kok Yee pulls her to rest in her room.

Ping On gets some of Wing Hsuen’s pills to send to the lab. They contain vitamins and also anti-depressants. An overdose will cause death. Ping On decides to check on her daily drug-taking schedule. Tin Mun sees that Lien Sum is suspicious and stops her from pouring some white powder into Chong San’s drink. He confronts her and she drinks the whole glass – it is just a salt drink.

He discovers that she is Chong San’s illegitimate daughter. Her mother was abandoned and died of misery. She is back to take back their love presents. Tin Mun also reveals to her his purpose in the house. She confesses that she hates Chong San but not to the extent to poison him. Kok Yee and Lai Wah go bowling and Chong San scolds them.

Lai Wah gets pregnant before marriage and Chong San has no choice but to let her join the family. But she has a miscarriage and he thinks that she is deceiving him. Thus, he keeps telling Kok Chung to divorce her and to remarry. Lai Wah knows that Kok Chung treats her well to bear with this. Kok Chung is sandwiched between them while Kok Ping and Tin Na encourage them to move out.

Kok Chung accidentally drinks Chong San’s milk and is poisoned and sent to hospital. Chong San then reveals Ping On’s identity. All defend themselves to show proof that they are not present. Ping On can’t identify who is the culprit. Tin Mun apologises to Lien Sum and Chong San overhears them. He accuses her of seeking revenge and demands her to leave.

She wants the present back but he refuses to hand it out. Lien Sum can’t stay any longer and has to leave. Ping On actually knows of her identity and gives her the jade that Chong San throws away in the box. Tin Mun has thought that his father’s investigation skills are weak, but worships him now. Ping On knows that she is just a scapegoat and the killer is still inside the house.

Ping On chats with Wing Hsuen. She relates how her sister suffered after marrying Chong San to bring her up. She adds that she was having a bath when the poison incident happened. The lab results are out – the milk contains a high dose of Wing Hsuen’s medicine. Ping On also discovers the suicide note that Wing Hsuen’s sister wrote. She killed herself as she couldn’t stand the harsh treatment anymore.

The tablet covers have her fingerprints and she couldn’t be bathing at that time. The water pressure is very low and can only enable one person to bath at one time. Since Ping On was bathing then, she couldn’t be the one! Ping On proves that she is the culprit as she loves her sister too much. All then discover how much she loves her sister more than herself.

Wing Hsuen wants to end her life with Chong San. Cong San threatens to burn the note to force her to stop. Chong San insists on reporting her to the police but Wing Yee stops him as she is afraid that she will be sent to the asylum. She threatens to wash his dirty linen in public to make him dispose the thought. But Wing Hsuen has to be sent away. The doctor gives her a jab and Ping On pities her plight.

Tin Mun requests the landlord lady to treat Lien Sum well. Lien Sum also likes him but doesn’t want to implicate him with her family affairs. Kok Ping and Tin Na lose a lot of money in the wrong investments. They want to use Chong San’s name for a loan from the bank but he refuses to help. Wing Hsuen nearly burns the house down. Ping On saves him out and ruins his jacket that he wears for so many years. Tin Mun jokes that this can be another object to put up at the agency to increase their deals.

Kok Shang owes the loansharks too much money and seeks help from Kok Ping. He suggests staging his own kidnap to get the ransom. Kok Ping and Tin Na agree in exchange for their share. Ping On is about to ask for his payment when Chong San keeps delaying. Kok San wakes up early strangely to jog and meets Lai Wah and Kok Yee coming back from the market. He is then pushed into a car. Chong Dan gets the call for 2000 million as ransom.

Ping On suggesting calling the police but Kok Ping and Tin Na oppose to it. Chong San agrees and tells Kok Chung to pay the money. Ping On follows him. Kok Shang gets the money and leaves. So the two can only sigh that they are unlucky. Chong San gets the call again and this time, Kok Ping volunteers himself to give the ransom. Seeing how incompetent Kok Chung is, Chong San agrees. The two see Kok Shang and scold him for being greedy. After scolding, they then realise that the person is Ping On.

Ping On and Tin Mun used a magnifying glass to observe the ransom photos. Kok Shang knocked into a boy eating ice-cream on that day but the photo doesn’t show the stain on his shirt. This shows that the photo was taken beforehand. Kok Ping and Tin Na were also too nervous to let the cat out of the bag. They beg for forgiveness and Chong San lets them off.

Chong San says in anger that he will cut them out from his will. The two go on the yacht and quarrel. Both go separate ways. Kok Ping has a meal at a restaurant. Wing Yee and Lai Wah go swimming again. Wing Hsuen sleeps in the car. She later wakes up to look for them in her wheelchair but is clumsy to slip down a cliff. Wing Yee quickly pulls the wheelchair in time to bring her home. Tin Mun and Ping On see this to marvel how strong she is as a woman. Soon, Chong San is found dead and everyone is a suspect.

The cupboard has a blood handprint left by Kok Shang. He becomes the prime suspect and relates how he still owes the loansharks money and returned home to Chong San for help. He only saw his dead body on the ground but he never killed him. Tin Mun informs Lien Sum of this and notices that she is inattentive. He recalls that he called her but she didn’t pick up. She claims that she was sleeping after having taken sleeping pills.

Tin Mun smells something burning in the toilet and Lien Sum presses him to leave. Both father and son suspect that the murder is planned. Tin Mun doesn’t tell Ping On about his suspicion to defend her. He can’t get any answer although he rushes back to her. Dai Yan and Pin On record each family member’s statement. All have evidence of not being present.

Kok Chung is upset over Chong San’s death. Only Kok Ping can’t wait for the will to be ready. Lawyer Chan needs time to count the assets. Kok Chung asks Pin On to check on the murder and invites him to stay in with Tin Mun. Kok Ping voices his disapproval. Tin Na suspects him of killing upon seeing him so happy and is scared that he might kill her one day to silence her.

On the day they quarrel on the yacht, he had said that he want to kill Chong San. It is a big coincidence that he died the same way he had stated. She tells Ping On about it and Kok Ping also points out that Tin Na had the intention too. Tin Na also can’t explain as she has no alibi. This gives Ping On a big headache. She shows Ping On that she was at a café on that fateful day and met a gigolo.

She can no longer hide the truth from Ping On. After the quarrel, she came here for coffee. Kok Ping had once scolded her to be a woman to throw money at others but no one else will want her. She then paid Peter, the gigolo, to book a hotel room. But she fled after that. Tin Na wants Ping On to keep it a secret. He agrees and tells her to be a better person. But she gets the wrong message to want to seduce him at night. This act alarms the rest and Ping On has to reveal the truth.

Kok Ping is so angry that he wants to divorce her. Dai Yan has Lien Sum’s statement – she claims to be playing the jigsaw puzzle with Tin Mun. He doesn’t expose this lie and only confronts her. She states that she is returning to Indonesia soon to prevent him from asking. Tin Mun can’t bear to let her leave and borrows money from Ping On to get her a golden necklace. She refuses to accept it although she has an inner struggle. Lien Sum admits returning to want to get her mother’s belongings.

She didn’t expect to kill Chong San. Tin Mun knocks Ping On out in order to help Lien Sum. Ping On then pretends to want to capture her so that Tin Mun can lure Lien Sum out. Ping On warns that she will be sued for lying. Lien Sum confesses that she returned to the house to get the jade but she discovered Chong San already in a pool of blood. So she left the scene.

Ping On asks her to cut a watermelon for him. He proves that she sprained her hand before the murder so she had no strength to kill Chong San. He finally believes her. So it boils down to Lai Wah, Wing Hsuen and Kok Yee. Dai Yan also suspects Lai Wah of killing Chong San as he opposes to her marriage. She can’t defend herself and can only get Ping On to help her.

Just when Ping On is checking on the case, Yuk Hing wants him to go to Macau to tour with her. He is afraid of his wife so he hands the case to Tin Mun. Lai Wah discovers some clues and keeps paging Ping On. He doesn’t return her calls because Yuk Hing has switched his phone off. Lai Wah gives Tin Mun a set of keys to pass to Ping On. Lai Wah refuses to get Kok Chung to help Kok Ping in his financial crisis as this will involve a lot of family funds.

When Ping On hurries back to the PI agency, Lai Wah is already dead. Seeing that her wound is the same as Chong San’s, he deduces that the killer is the same person. He asks Tin Mun for the key and learns that it is with Yuk Hing. Afraid that she might be silenced, he looks around for her. He guesses that she must be angry to think that he has an affair with Lai Wah to leave home. But she doesn’t seem to be in danger. As long as she has the key, she should be safe.

Ping On wants Tin Mun to keep an eye on Wing Hsuen and Kok Yee. He isn’t supposed to disclose the key’s whereabouts. Ping On checks that Yuk Hing hasn’t left the country. Tin Mun checks out that both women were at home on the day of Lai Wah’s murder. Ping On goes to the market to see if Yuk Hing is there. He is surprised that his fierce wife sings praises of him to the hawkers.

One hawker has seen her in the morning and gives a bottle of prawn paste to her. He is shocked to know that she has a younger brother, Lee Fei. He doesn’t know that she has siblings and smells her cooking to a house. The owner is the thief – Flying Cockroach – whom he often fails to send to prison. He mistakens that Fei is Yuk Hing’s lover and tells Tin Mun. Tin Mun doesn’t believe that his mother will do such a thing. Fei can only reveal that they are truly siblings.

Yuk Hing comes from a family of thieves and her nickname is ‘Flying Butterfly’. After falling in love with Ping On, she retired for good but kept her identity from him. Fei brings them home to prove his innocence but is shocked that Yuk Hing is brought away. Ping On gets a call to demand for the key for exchange. Ping On asks Fei to use another key but the killer sees through his plot.

Yuk Hing suddenly calls him to assure him that she is fine as she has managed to escape from the killer. She decides to go into hiding temporarily. With Fei’s help, Ping On discovers a swimsuit in Lai Wah’s chest. It seems to be normal with little meaning but Ping On is stunned. He sees that there is a silver paint stain on it – the stain comes from Chong San’s table. Kok Yee has the same design and he recalls how strong she is to pull Wing Hsuen’s wheelchair. She is even stronger than the lazy Kok Shang so she must be the killer.

But every step seems reasonable so how did she carry out the murder and keep all the antiques which are supposed to be stolen? Lien Sum recalls seeing a bicycle and she thought belongs to Tin Mun. Ping On goes to the bicycle rental shop to confirm that they picked up a new bicycle but no one has claimed it back. But this bicycle can’t prove anything. Ping On gets another same swimsuit and deduces her way out finally. She pretended to swim with Lai Wah at the beach. Later, she rushed home on a bicycle to kill Chong San before cycling back to the beach. She never expected to have the stain on her swimsuit.

Tin Mun wants to solve the case and wants to steal the real swimsuit. But he is discovered by the Kums. He gives Kok Yee the chance to destroy the evidence. This makes Ping On’s case tougher. Ping On can only check out from Wing Hsuen. Wing Hsuen admits killing but her statement has too many loopholes so she can’t be the killer.

Kok Yee arranges to leave for the U.S. with Wing Hsuen in the afternoon. Ping On, Tin Mun and Lien Sum find the knife and other things at the beach. Wing Hsuen wants to protect Kok Yee by killing herself. She moves Kok Yee and she admits to the killings. She has seen how her mother suffered and died. Chong San even used his wealth to drive her husband to suicide. He refused to help him when he was in debt.

Her thought of killing him was rooted from the start. She didn’t want to kill Lai Wah but had to do it when Lai Wah discovered that she is the killer. Kok Yee is brought to court and has a life sentence. Kok Chong invites Ping On over to pay him the bill. Lawyer Chan also reads out the will. Kok Ping and Kok Shang are delighted – they plan on how to spend the money.

Chong San divides his 10 billion property into 4 portions for his children. The two sons are happy but they groan after hearing the extra clause in the will. The money is going to be set up as a fund. Each person can only draw $100,000 each month. Thus what they can utilize is only a miserable sum. This kills their dream of spending a lot of money. Ping On really admires Chong San for his wisdom.

Although he is also kept in the dark by Yuk Hing for so many years, he still forgives her. He even uses part of the money to make a golden mirror for her. Ping On has not tarnished his name as a top cop after all for being so observant. Yuk Hing is delighted when looking into the mirror – all along we can only see her back. Now we see her face as the reflection shows that she is Fei Fei.

Introduction on characters

1. Bu Ping On – Ha Yu
He is an ex-cop but never loses his intelligence even though he has left the service for a long time. He will examine everything into detail. I will not say that he is scared of Yuk Hing – I feel that he respects her so he gives in to her all the time. Thumbs up for his natural acting!

2. Bu Tin Mun – Lee Kar Shing
He is Ping On’s son who is quite intelligent. But you will shake your head at his foolishness at times. He can do anything foolishly for love. What if she is really the killer? He will be letting her go scot-free. he needs to learn how to become a calm investigator from his father. His acting is quite convincing and all will find that he has a lot of chemistry with Ha Yu.

3. Kum Chong San – Cheung Ying Choi
He is rich but unbelievably stingy. No wonder his own family members can’t take it. Still, he can regard family ties important to give all a fair share of what they deserve.

4, Lo Dai Yan – Shing Kwai On
He is a detective but is narrow-minded. He always makes the wrong conclusions and it often backfires when he uses the wrong interrogation methods. You will be tickled when he lists his suspects. Wing Hsuen becomes so hysterical by his accusations that she nearly hurls a table at him. This serves him right!

5. Wong Yuk Hing – Sum Diem Ha
She is a special guest star indeed. We can only see her back whenever she talks or scolds her husband and son. From her size, who can imagine her to be the famous flying butterfly when she was younger?

6. Fong Lien Sum – Yeung Ling
She is Chong San’s illegitimate daughter and has given up hope of him acknowledging her. She is only back to claim her mother’s belongings. Even though Chong San knows her existence, he doesn’t change his will. She falls unexpectedly in love with Tin Mun.

7. Kam Kok Chung – Wong Tin Yik
He is the eldest son but is too filial to his father. He manages the family business. He does his bidding and always makes his wife unhappy. But he truly loves Lai Wah and tries to make her as happy as possible.

8. Kam Kok Ping – Peter Lai
He is the second son who shares the business with Kok Chung. Being a show-off, he often gets into trouble – especially with the wrong investments.

9. Kam Kok Shang – Tsang Hong Sang
He is the youngest son who is a parasite. He doesn’t see why he should work since money is gotten easily. To think of staging his kidnap to cheat money from his father is a sly act indeed. He is beyond redemption. I have hardly seen him in other dramas except ‘The Mark of Truimph’. He proves that he acts as well as he sings.

10. Kam Kok Yee – Leung Pui Ling
She is the only daughter and no one will ever dream of her to be the killer. She is strong despite looking skinny. If not for her vicious father, she will not have harmed so many people. She has no hesitation framing Kok Shang for Chong San’s murder. She even kills her own sister-in-law, despite knowing how this will upset Kok Chung. Pui Ling acts well as the cold-blooded murderer.

11. Yu Lai Wah – Chan Mei Kei
She is a submissive person who bears with all kinds with insults that Chong San gives her. Sometimes, she regrets marrying into the family as it isn’t as forgiving as she thinks to be. It is sad that she dies at the hands of a family member and Yuk Hing is partly responsible for her death.

12. Ko Wing Hsuen – Mah Hoi Lun
She is the siblings’ aunt and dotes on Kok Yee most. That is why she is most filial to her. That is why she will do anything for her – even defying Chong San in public when she is nearly sent to the asylum.

13. Cheung Tin Na – Cheung Fung Ngai
She is Kok Ping’s wife and is like a show-off like him. Being a braggart, she also gets into trouble easily.

Conclusion:

Wealth is the root of evil indeed. If it weren't for Chong San's wealth and stingy nature, his children would not be so hard up for money. The two deaths can also be avoided.

Are you enchanted by the chain of events in this drama? Although the murder is centralized in a home scenario, all family members are prime suspects and it is hard to guess who actually killed the old man as each has a motive. I always like detective dramas so this is no exception. It truly shows how Ping On goes through every process to find out the culprit. Most of the time, he really uses his brain well – to coax people to make their own confessions without using threats like Dai Yan.

Although it is a small-scale production, the whole cast have put in their best. It is not really scary but it does throw in suspense on how the murders are committed. You must catch this drama as some of the cast are no longer in the entertainment circle. Do give it a chance if you get to see it.

Sukting’s ratings :

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

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


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