Sweetness in the Salt


Reviewed by: sukting

March 13, 2012

Rating: two-point-five

How long
25episodes

Foreword
This story is about salt and how it affects a merchant family. Salt is essential to all commoners but greedy officials use it just to make money although the capital is low. The poor have no choice but to rebel. Including disputes and dangers, how does this family overcome the difficulty? It is formerly named 勝雪鹽棧 as the title of the salt company.

Story/Introduction on characters
1. Nip Ji Yuen - Ma Chun Wai
He is an anti-salt smuggler officer and is determined to wipe out the Tau's Fort, which is the stronghold for salt smugglers. He pretends to be a down-and-out scholar. Later, he wipes out the whole fort and Sing Suet hates him.

He is concerned about her after knowing that she stays with the Wus. The Wus intend to make him marry Ting Yin. He rejects the match, citing that he already has someone in his heart. Sing Suet can no longer believe this. Ting Yin is revengeful and lies to him that Sing Suet is hurt. He rushes there to find that she is actually fine. This sends waves to the whole household upon knowing their past.

After knowing how corrupted the world is, he resigns to hide from reality. Upon knowing how his foster father is like, he becomes Wu Family's Guard to protect them. His love for Sing Suet remains but is hesitant as he knows she can't forgive him.

2. Dau Sing Suet - Yeung Yee
She is the daughter of a salt smuggler. She knows everything on salt. She sympathizes with Ji Yuen and puts him up in the village. Later, they love each other. During an anti-smuggling operation, she is badly hurt and has since been separated from him and her family. After knowing that Ji Yuen kills her family, she tries to seek revenge but fails.

Ting Hin brings her home and finds a job for her at the salt company that his family runs to help her get over her unhappiness. To repay him, she does her job well. The Wu women accuse her of loving 2 men but she bears with this. She is willing to marry Ting Hin to manage the family business when Kin is accused of killing. Her heart is with Ji Yuen so she marries him in the end.

3. Wu Kin - Kwok Fung
He is a salt merchant who relies on Ting Hin. He can be childish at times but is a reasonable man. Thinking that Sing Suet is a physician's daughter, he tries to make her stay to take care of Ting Hin. He also gives them chances to be together.

4. Wu Ting Bik - Tam Siu Wan
She is the eldest daughter but has a sad life. Kin arranges her to marry an old man as the ninth concubine. Upon being discovered that she has links with Chi On, she is thrown out and has to stay with her family again. She loves him blindly and keeps feeding him information to ruin Kin's business to spite back at him. After knowing how nasty Chi On is, she becomes sensible to stay by her family to fall for Sau Ching instead.

5. Wu Ting Hin - Wong Ho Yin
He is the second son of Kin and has a head for business. Unfortunately, he suffers from diabetics and is very weak. As time goes by, he starts to fall in love with her. However, his illness making him hesitates to express his love for her. Ying Long has wanted to kill him all along but can't do it openly in the capital so he has to wait for him to die.

Her real identity comes to light when her younger uncle reappears out of the blue. Ting Hin is afraid that his family will report her so he proposes to her. However, they are only a married couple in name. He writes her a letter of divorce once the crisis is over. He is later killed by Ying Long after he recovers from his illness for a short while.

6. Wu Ting Fai - Ngo Ka Nin
He is considered the good for nothing in the family although he is close to his siblings. He likes Yin Yuet and steals money from home to redeem her. But his interest doesn't stay and pushes her aside later. He gets drunk one day to cause Siu Yuen to get pregnant. He feels responsible to cause her to be an unwed mother and makes amends to her by working hard.

7. Wu Ting Yim - Chan See Chai
She is the youngest daughter born by a prostitute. She is first interested in Ji Yuen but later interested in Chi On as he is rich. She marries him but others always harp on her parentage.

8. Wu Choi Dip - Ma Tak Lou
She is Kin's younger sister. He takes her in after she becomes a widow. She is an illegal money lender with Cheung See. She is once interested in Sau Ching but later backs off. She is greedy for money and thus Kin passes the job to Ting Bik later.

9. Choi Chi On - Chan San Chung
He is also a salt merchant who once works for Kin. He gets chased out after his affair with ting Bik is discovered. Still, he uses her as his mole.

10. To Ying Lung - Lok Ying Kwan
He is a corrupted governor and is Ji Yuen's foster father. He has trained him hard, hoping that he can be like him. He proves to be a disappointment so he wants to get rid of him and the salt smugglers once their ties are broken. I guess he must be sick of playing the bad guy most of the time. Thus, he left TVB in 2011.

11. Nip Cheung See - Hon Ma Lee
She is a sauce merchant and is also an illegal loan lender. She blindly thinks that Ji Yuen must follow Ying Long's ways since they are indebted to him. Ji Yuen is disappointed that his mother also turns out this way and is more set to resign from his post.

12. Yip Sau Ching - Cheung Chi Kwong
Ji Yuen has thought of him to be a corrupted governor but he is not. Bribery doesn't work on him as for the previous governors as he suggests an auction for the post. He helps the poor as he is once poor himself. He knows Ying Long too well as he suffers under him in the past. He has a good sense of humour and loves to gossip. He tries getting Ji Yuen to work for him but is dismayed that he chooses to evade. However, he is glad that he changes his mind later.
He knows the history of every single Wu member. So he knows that Sing Suet is a new face in the family. He has warned Ting Bik about Chi On but she doesn't listen. Later, he falls for her upon seeing how she has changed for the better.

13. Dau Hung - Lee Kok Lun
He is a salt smuggler and is also Sing Suet's reckless second uncle. He unwittingly nearly kills Ting Hin after he is paid by Chi On for Ting Hin's kidnap. He turns a new leaf when Ting Hin engages him to work for him.

14. Yin Yuet - Cheung Mei Nai
She is a prostitute and is Ting Fai's admirer. She is also devoted to him. In order to marry him, she also comes up with all the money to get dumped by him. Sing Suet feels sorry for her and becomes good friends with her.

15. Choi Yan Fung - Wai Ying Hung
She is Ying Long's follower and is secretly in love with him. Under his command, she pretends to be Chi On's aunt to spy on him so that he will not rebel. She crosses swords with Sing Suet. Although she knows that Sing Suet's skills are only average, she is witty so she warns Ying Long.

16. Mak Siu Yuen - Leung Suet Ying
She is a maid working for the Wus. After getting pregnant, she is disowned by her family. She has wanted to raise her son by herself but seeing how ting Fai changes to work for her parents at their beancurd stall, she decides to give him a chance.

17. Wong Dong Ping - Wong Wai Tak
He is Sau Ching's advisor but his marital arts skills are even better than Ji Yuen. He is a great helper to Sau Ching in distributing the rice and salt to the poor secretly. He protects him well and saves him from many attacks. I take some time to get used to him as a good person as this actor often acts as villains in most dramas.

18. Luk Mo Neong - Wong Yi Tong
She is the brothel's owner and is Sau Ching's previous lover. He has worked hard to reach this post but she can't wait for so long. She gets married before he returns and has a headache when he keeps pestering her.

19. Lui Kin Hong - Yu Chi Ming
He is the great physician that is very sort after. However, he prefers to work for the salt smugglers. Ting Hin's illness proves to be a big challenge for him but he manages to cure him using a rare remedy.

20. Ng Tak - Lee Kong Long
He is Mo Neong's husband and is very annoyed with Sau Ching. But he has to keep his cool as he pays for the service.

Interesting facts
This was Chun Wai's third attempt in shaving his head bald. He has wished to take up more modern dramas but will also not resist taking up Qing dramas as he felt the weight lighter. He joked that he earned more after each shave. He might be a monk in his previous life but he will never be a monk this lifetime as he loves to enjoy life. He envied Chan Hou for winning awards, money and getting a gal. so he hoped to achieve this dream soon too.

This was the first drama Siu Wan returned to TVB after her 2 month marriage. She complained that she had nothing to do at home. Many asked if her husband would complain. She replied that his only request was to take up a drama shoot at a time and avoid taking mainland assignments.

The ratings were about 27 to 30 points. Here are the following award nominations for TVB Anniversary Awards (2009) :
Nominated: Best Drama
Nominated: Best Actor - Ma Chun Wai for Top 5
Nominated: Best Supporting Actor - Wong Ho Yin

Most favourite character
Ji Yuen - he is loyal to friends and also devoted in love. A close second is Ting Hin although I don't really like him to suffer quietly.

Most hated character
Ying Long, he is too blinded by greed and to ruthless to kill many people. Ji Yuen has wanted to escape from reality but this foster father gives him no choice that he has to join in the assassination operation with Sing Suet's family.

Song
It is by Chun Wai and Yee. They sing quite well that suits the story.

Conclusion
Even though the story is written by Lee Tim Shing who also pens 'rosy business' and 'no regrets', it is only average. Did you notice that Wai Ying Hung and Ngo Ka Nin act in the three Lee's productions? He must have admired their talents to use them frequently. Chun Wai has also worked in Safe Guards with him before so the three act with ease.

The story is very direct with little surprises. Thus, I find it very boring. Without Cheung Chi Kong there to provide some comic relief, I could have stopped watching. But I can be biased as I don't really like Qing era dramas. Acting wise, there is also nothing much to rave about although all maintain their standard.

I will recommend all to watch 'The salt clan' by Ng Wai Kok instead. It has a better storyline. But I doubt it is still available since it is produced by a private company.

Sukting's ratings :
On acting : *** (Scale of 5)
On story : **1/2 (Scale of 5)
On song : *** (Scale of 5)


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Sweetness in the Salt

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