The Duke of Mount Deer


Reviewed by: sukting

October 03, 2008

Rating: four

How long
60 episodes

Foreword
This is a very popular Jin Yong adaptation that should not be missed by fans of Leung Chiu Wai and Lau Tak Wah. It shot both to fame and till now, it still remains as one of my favourite serial. Since many have known the story well, I will just comment on the cast’s acting. I will also compare with other versions.

Introduction on characters

The males :

1. Wei Xiao Bao – Leung Chiu Wai
No one can believe his good luck. He actually survives in the palace with his wits although he knows few words. Chiu Wai is the BEST! Being young and talented to take up this role at 22, Chiu Wai displays his powerful acting here as the playful and cunning ‘eunuch’. Probably too good that he can’t surpass his later mischievous roles. He was chosen as the actor who acted best in it.

Hiu Chun is okay but he is already in his 30s. He doesn’t seem alert enough to make it bland but still truthful. Many may complain that his looks are too plain but but like 70% online voters for a poll, I agree that this is quite close because Xiao Bao is really ordinary in the novel.

Cheung Wai Kin is witty and intelligent in the role. He shows you why he is still popular these days although he is reaching 40 years old. But sometimes his rubbery and over talkative nature annoys me.

Huang Xiao Ming – he does quite well but only has the skeleton but not the flesh for it.

2. Kang Xi – Lau Tak Wah
Kang Xi is a calculative but wise person. He is also filial to risk his life to meet his father. After knowing that Jian Ning isn’t his natural sister, he sends her off to marry Ying Xiong despite being close to her. However, his friendship with Xiao Bao is genuine so he spares his life. Definitely the best emperor found so far. He has done a lot of research on how an emperor should behave. Plus his unbeatable on screen chemistry with Chiu Wai, they make a wonderful pair.

Mah Chun Wai – he has the loyalty airs but probably too fair looking and less assertive.

Tam Yiu Mun – his acting was good and his eyes show the royalty air but he is too fat! What has he done? His face is too round and he also has the same weakness as Mah although he has a better build than both actors. Many felt that he was too mature but he didn’t want to compare with Tak Wah.

Chung Hon Leung – he also tries his best to make this humane emperor to be wise and loyal.

3. Ao Bai – Kwan Hoi San
Amazing and wonderful as the arrogant subject who doesn’t give Kang Xi the due respect he deserves. But the deliberate attempt of the producer arranging him to feign sick and lie in bed with a sword when Kang Xi visits him is too unbelievable. I don’t think he has the guts to do that as this will implicate his whole family’s lives when caught. A marvelous job done by Kwan.

Wong Chun Tong – Splendid too! He proves that he is qualified but TVB is just too blind to neglect him.

Tsui Kam Kong – The make-up is scarier than his acting. More can be done.

Tsui Kam Kong – He is offered this role a second time and does better this rime.

4. Mao Shi Ba – Chun Wong
He acts in both TVB versions as the same character. As expected, he does well in both as Xiao Bao’s comical friend who often lands himself in trouble.

Zhao Xiao Yue – equally comical. Excellent.

5. Hai Da Fu – Lau Siu Ming
Spooky, intelligent and vicious, he tricks Xiao Bao in consuming poison to work for him. Xiao Bao should also thank him because he shows him the ropes of survival although he nearly kills him. He is loyal to Shun Zhi to find Kang Xi’s mother’s killer. Lau looks extremely creepy in the role.

Gu Fung – Equally commendable on his natural acting.

Ng Man Tat – I cover my eyes. I can’t believe the formidable expert becomes a lunatic and a fool.

Lin Yong Jian – competent in the role too.

6. Wu San Gui – Lau Dan
Excellent as the cunning rebel. He also portrays his sadness well when he loses his son.

Wong Wai – also gives a shine performance as the villain.

Zhang Zheng Huan – splendid acting from him! Also my first time listening to him speaking the lines in his own voice. Powerful and steady – what a waste to sub his voice for most serials!

7.Li Zhi Cheng – Chu Tiet Wo
He is Ah Ke’s father who becomes a monk after Yuan Yuan becomes a nun. He is another actor acting in both TVB versions as the same character. As expected, he does well in both.

8. Wu Ying Xiong – Cheung Kok Keung (not the actor who resembles singer Alam Tam Wing Lun)
He is San Gui’s son. At first, he is so arrogant to get his ways. But later he is so pathetic to become a real ‘eunuch’ although he does nothing to Jian Ning. He has a weak look and also his lively acting fits into the role well. A pity he doesn’t get famous and always gets supporting roles.

Doi Chi Wai – another actor who gets involved in the 2 versions. Do pity his misery too. He is also competent in the role.

Chuk Fan – his acting improves and has done his part well.

Zhong Liang – only so-so in the role.

9. Zheng Ke Shuang – Doi Chi Wai
Zheng Cheng Gong is his ancestor but he has neither the guts or the wits. He is too reliant on his master for help. He likes Ah Ke but betrays her to save his own skin from Xiao Bao. I am so happy when Xiao Bao makes him lose three fingers for killing his master. Doi makes this jerk come alive.

Kwok Yiu Ming – His acting is still raw and I don’t really like it.

Zheng Rui Xiao – He has the best outlook among the three but unfortunately, he isn’t that good in acting.

Qiao Zheng Yu – he makes this despicable fellow come alive.

10. Chen Jing Nan – Tsang Kong
He is the chivalrous Tian Di Sect leader. I will say that Jing Nan is only having stupid loyalty to the wrong master. Telling his subordinates to listen to Ke Shuang is a stupid decision. Letting him and Xi Fang off even after they kill him is another silly act. Xiao Bao initially doesn’t regard him as his master but later grows so attached to him that he grieves over his death. Outstanding performance from this veteran actor.

Ha Siu Shing – I always think that he isn’t suitable to be in period dramas but he does well here.

Cheng Ekin – He seems too young to be the master and leader of a sect. moreover, he ‘dies’ mysteriously later. Wong Ching only makes use of his popularity to make him appear for the first few episodes. However, he still makes use of the limited screen time to leave a memorable performance in the fighting scenes. Sigh – Wai Kin should learn from him on how to be a swordsman.

Zhu Yan Ping – simply not righteous looking enough to be the leader.

11. Duo Long – Hui Siu Hung
He is in charge of the army. He is close to Xiao Bao. He is comical and provides laughs.

Wong Yat Fei – he is also formidable in the role. The scene where he feeds Xiao Bao his last meal is sad.

Hu Dong – really funny. You must watch him.

12.Liu Yi Zhou – Kwan Lai Kit
He is Yi’s senior but has no brawns or brains. I laugh at the part where Xiao Bao shaves him out of revenge by claiming to be her husband! I think this is the only serial that Lai Kit acts as a comedian so don’t miss it.

Lok Tat Wah – his acting makes up for his deficit in looks.

Yang Pei – only gives a satisfying performance.

Tae – a big surprise for me as I only thought of him to be a singer. But he is quite remarkable.

13. Master Hong – Chan Yau Hau
The superb dragon sect leader. He is power hungry and highly skilled. He looks hideous in the role. He will look better if he is taller.

Bao Fong – His tall build and arrogant airs gives a perfect fit. Just like the character in the book.

Chan Gun Toi – This experienced actor also gives a fine performance.

14. Emperor Shun Zhi – Lau Kong
I don’t like this emperor to be indulged in missing over his concubine’s death to forsake everything. Still, Lau Kong is a wonderful actor so he plays his part well.

Cheung Kok Keung – Whose idea to have him here? He doesn’t fit the age and looks at all.

Pan Hong – only passable in this role.

15. Feng Xi Fan – Yip Tien Hang
He is Ke Shuang’s master. He is jealous of Jing Nan’s success all along and is all out to kill him. He wins but loses an eye to Xiao Bao. Serves him right! This actor is fabulous in this role.

Zhang Chun Zhong – only okay in this role.

The Females

16. The Empress – Lui Yau Wai
She is not the real empress and Xiao Bao is really lucky to escape from her hands for so many times. She is vicious but has a soft side for Kang Xi since she brings him up. The real empress is also by the same actress but is more demure.

Cheng Hor Wai – A find choice made. She is quite good too.

Chan Fat Yung – Simply too young! Who can believe it when Jian Ning calls her mother?

17. Wei Chun Hua – Bak Yin
She is Xiao Bao’s simple-minded mother. Xiao Bao is missing for a long time and she worries for him. Even though he holds a high post, she is contended to be a person in charge of the brothel. The funniest part is how her daughters-in-law seek refuge but yet don’t recognize her.

Lo Gun Lan – I have never seen her in such a comical role but she does well.

Ng Yuen Yee – I think she is too ‘mad’ in the role. She has overdone it.

18. Shuang Er – Chow Sau Lan
She is formerly a maid but she is given to Xiao Bao as a gift for protection out of gratitude. She is highly skilled and is clever. I like her the most – she braves through thick and thin with him. She has low self-esteem when both fall for each other. General Wu then becomes her sworn brother to raise her status. She plays this role to perfection.

Chan Choi Lan – she is all along offered demure roles so this is a big breakthrough for her. Not very pretty but suits the novels’ maid look.

Wu Chen Jun – she is too tall to be a periodic maiden and is more suitable to be the young mistress instead but she looks better in traditional costumes here.

He Du Yan – lively and cheery but too raw as she is too young.

19. Ah Ke – Sheung Tin Ngor
She is Xiao Bao’s wife who takes the longest time to win her heart because she is the most beautiful. She is in love with Ke Shuang at first and Xiao Bao has to badmouth him all the time. She returns to Xiao Bao because she is pregnant with his son but slowly, she is in love with him.

Will you believe that Tin Ngor gets this role from Kar Ling? Acting wise, her efforts pays off but many complain that she isn’t pretty enough. I agree to a certain extent as Ah Ke should be a lavishing beauty. But her stubborn look makes up for the deficit.

Leung Siu Bing – this is her first time acting as a Jin Yong character and as a spitfire. She does very well.

Chu Yan – her acting is fine but she is not as good as the other two in playing the role in depth.

Ying Cai Er – she is quite fiery in the role but still not good enough as Siu Bing.

20. Princess Jian Ning – King Doi Yan
She is Xiao Bao’s fiercest wife. She likes to torture him and him to torture her. She is very willful to turn Ying Xiong into a eunuch on their ‘wedding’ night because she is already pregnant with Xiao Bao’s daughter. Laugh at how Xiao Bao chooses a name for her – stool – by throwing the dice! Luckily, Quan thinks of a better name Shuang Shuang for double as replacement. Doi Yan is marvelous.

Lau Yuk Chui – acting wise is okay but can be too exaggerating at times. But definitely no royalty air of a princess – she seems like a gangster instead.

Lin Xin Ru –She has shown her rare lively nature but still too gentle at times.

Shu Cang – She is not fierce enough.

21. Mu Jian Ping – Mo Shun Kuan
She is an autocrat and is very gullible to be tricked that Xiao Bao disfigures her. But his sweet words win her heart. She even defends him from Yi in just a few days time. Mo is a bit stiff in acting at that time. She is sweet but not innocent enough.

Kwong Mun Xun – I find her resembling Kar Ling in looks. She acts quite well as the demure woman.

Cheung Sai - she has autocrat look and her age matches the role. How can there be no chemistry between her and Wai Kin since both are an item?

Liu Yun – she makes Jian Ping to an idiot.

22. Fang Yi – Lau Kar Ling
She is Jian Ping’s senior and is hot tempered. She is initially in love with Yi Zhou but still keeps her promise to marry Xiao Bao even though he is a eunuch. But many will hate her for deceiving Xiao Bao at the dragon island just to save her own life.

What a pity – how can Yi be prettier than Ah Ke? Many will be surprised that Kar Ling has so much baby fat on her face that makes her look so round. But this must be memorable for her as this is a serial that she works together with Chiu Wai. It’s like an on-screen romance between both for all of us.

Tsui Hou Ying – She has single eyelid and is no beauty in our eyes. Moreover, her sorrowful look causes more displeasure to viewers instead. Definitely a wrong choice made.

Mak Kar Kei – She has improved a lot in her acting. But her make-up can be terrible – it makes her look like a village girl. How to attract Xiao Bao then?

Liu Mei – she looks quite modern looking and a bit too old.

23. Zheng Rou – Ng Kwan Yu
She is demure and highly skilled. Being quiet, she doesn’t grab Xiao Bao’s attention but she still becomes his wife. No one expects Kwan Yu to play a period maiden but here she is one with a husky voice. Some commented that there was no hope for her given her looks and voice but see how successful she is now.

Chan On Kei – she is too weak for the role. I don’t even know that she exists at first!

Li Fei Er – she has a mixed look and looks out of place in this role.

24. Su Quan – Wong Hoi Yan
She is the superb dragon sect leader’s wife who likes listening to flattery. She is also vicious but later marries Xiao Bao after discovering that she is pregnant. Still, she is the smartest of all and is good in settling disputes among the younger wives. Wong might be too old to lose the glamour for this role.

Fung Hiu Mun – definitely a perfect choice. Her luring eyes say everything and her mole on her face is a bonus to make her look enchanting.

Hu Ke – looks about the same age as Xiao Ming. Doesn’t convince me that Quan is older than Xiao Bao.

25. Xiao Jin Yu – Shu Qi
Wong Ching’s fictionless character to replace Zeng Rou. She is there to tell you how devoted Xiao Bao is to her before getting into the palace. She is dead when her parents force her to marry others. Qi only gives a lukewarm performance as she only acts in 2 episodes. Wong Ching is only eating on her popularity.

26. Long Er – Chan Fat Yung
Wong Ching’s another fictionless character. She forges the empress’s identity and is in reality Leader Hong’s subordinate. She is striped of her martial arts skills in the end and marries Xiao Bao. Her role here seems to replace Zeng Rou. Beautiful but we can see age is catching up. She isn’t that successful in being evil.

27. Princess Sophia – Deborah Mora
She can be considered as Xiao Bao’s mistress since they have a one night stand. She is Russia’s princess and her brother schemes to take over her place. Luckily, Xiao Bao saves her. This actress is elegant and acts well. I heard she is a host with TVB pearl station and is a Eurasian ex-Miss Hong Kong. A pity she decides to focus her attention on hosting programmes.

26. Jiu Nan – Chan Kar Yee
Her country is ruined so she is very revengeful. She grabs Ah Ke away at birth to bring her up so that she can kill her own father. Should a nun do this? Chan looks more like a lunatic seeking revenge here.

Lee Lai Lai – she has the bitterness in here that makes her ruthless but also pitiful at times.

Li Fei – this actress makes Jiu Nan to be stupid to listen to Xiao Bao all the time.

He Jia Yi – marvelous as the bitter and revengeful nun.

27. Mao Dong Zhu – Wong Mun Wai
She is Shen Long sect member who disguises as the empress. She brings up Kang Xi and regards him as her own. However, Jian Ning is her child borne by her lover and she keeps the secret to her grave from her.

Mah Tai Lou – very few people take her seriously as a versatile actress because of her looks but she proves them wrong here despite her age.

28.Chen Yuan Yuan – Sheung Tin Ngor
She is Ah Ke’s mother but many will be amused on how she tells both lovers that Ah Ke is their daughter. Sheung lacks the elegance that Yuan Yuan should possess.

Leung Siu Bing – she has done well as Chu Meng Se in ‘Heroes of Shaolin’ as an elderly so there is no reason she can’t do well in here.

Chu Yan - the makeup for her isn’t old enough to be the mother. Moreover the outlook makes her look more like a Catholic nun instead and doesn’t fit into the era.

Ning Jing – what more can we ask from this experienced actress? She simply overshadows the other younger actresses with her fabulous acting.

29.Ah Qi – Tsui Suk Fong
Ah Ke’s senior who is often angered by Xiao Bao but can do nothing against him.

Li Ling – she has the annoying look all the time that I simply detest.

30.Tao Hong Ying – Su Hing Hin
She is considered as Xiao Bao’s benefactor for saving him many times when he is in the palace. She becomes his aunt and is also Jiu Nan’s maid.

Favourite character
Shuang Er – she does so much for Xiao Bao.

Most hated character
Chen Jing Nan – his blind loyalty to the wrong master leads to his downfall.

Song
The song ‘Always Having the Good Luck’ was by the late Cheung Kok Wing. He sang it very well. I always have mixed feelings watching this song on his mtv vcd.

The song ’Famous Celebrity’ is by Hiu Chun. He sings fine but I still feel Chun Wai’s subtheme song ‘Watch the Sky When Lifting the Head’ is better.

The themesong is ‘You Like Me For Resembling Someone’ and the subtheme ‘I Want to be Free’ and ’The Whole Life is Like a Dream’ are by Wai Kin. Needless to say, he brings out the playfulness of Siu Bo. But all will know that I will be too biased to like Kok Wing’s version most.

I don’t really like the themesong in the China version. It sounds to modern to me.

Interesting facts

The earliest TV version started with Mun Suet Yee. But the tv station closed down so no reports on it were available but many praised her for doing a good job. Taiwan also shot a version in 1984. There was also a movie version by Chow Sing Chee. Chiu Wai told Sing Chee not to give himself too much pressure as both actors knew that they would be compared.

This role was very different from Chiu Wai’s real life quiet personality. He had to resort to observe on how his close friend (he was not in showbuzz) how on he behaved. His friend lamented that Chiu Wai should not have shown his true mannerism public!

The 84 cast was terrific. The so-called villains tapped their hands on Chiu Wai. Of course, they would not apply too much force and Chiu Wai would not feel painful. However, they made them so real that even the cameramen became engrossed in the shooting.

It was a sunny day so Chiu Wai laid on a mattress to rest. He seemed popular with the actresses. All of them crowded him and joked with him by placing the swords near his neck. He still preserved his smile to joke this line ‘It is my honour to end my life in the hands of many beauties’! It seems that he is totally engrossed in the role. Too much that he took a lot of time to walk out of it.

It was very hot so the cast grabbed soft drinks when it was their break. Chiu Wai was a very heavy smoker then. He could not stop smoking even though he was drinking water. Shun Kwan used her drink to tempt Tin Ngor but she resisted her temptation as she was putting on weight.

Hoi Yan loved taking photos. She could not stop taking photos by kneeling down even though she wore the heavy Qing costume. Stunts director Ching Hiu Dong joked that she needed be so formal and should get herself ready to start work soon.

Equally comical was Kwok Fung on a motorcycle. He joked that he should want to shoot a modern ‘Duke of Mount Deer’. Xiao Bao could just go mud biking with the emperor and wouldn’t have to slog so hard to win money through wresting and gambling. Of course, the most amazing scene came when the actors pretend to be women. All marvel on the make-up artistes’ talents.

Who was the most popular artistes among children? He wasn’t Chiu Wai who had hosted children programmes in the past. He was Lee Kok Lam (he acted as Jian Ping’s elder brother, Jian Sheng)! All flocked to him to ask for his autographs. He was very patient and signed till he became so tired.

Besides him, Ching Hiu Dong was also well-received. The children worshipped him upon seeing how he instructed the rest to shoot the fighting scenes. He even demonstrated some strokes and all surrounded him too. He was usually strict but he could not conceal his delight. He got all the children to take a group photo and gave each of them one as remembrance.

Chun Wai felt cold when he was bald and could not sleep well. His reaction when asked to take up this role was – are you sure? Probably he was fair and his eyes were small to fit the bill. He also watched Tak Wah’s version before. He believed that he could not match him in looks as he was too handsome.(Maybe he was just being modest.) he also felt the pressure to take up the same role.

However, he did not have any pressure working with Hiu Chun. They became good friends as their ages were close. Chiu Wai’s version was more like a kid. Siu Chun was more chatty – he was successful to walk out of Chiu Wai’s shadow.

Yiu Mun lamented being plump as this serial only required him to sit on the throne most of the time and there were few fighting scenes for him. To beat the cold weather, he took lots of meat and never watched his weight. That was why we can see a plump emperor here.

Chu Yan was afraid of letting others peep at her when she changed her clothes so she kept herself in a sleeping bag when doing it. She found Yiu Mun very hardworking while Wai Kin had very high demands on himself. He was also a good producer to take care of many things. She felt bad hitting him so hard.

The China version – many complained that the part when Jian Ning added burning wax to Xiao Bao’s body is too much.The scene of all of them together in bed was overdone. Are the women in the ancient days behaving like an SM? No wonder many begged Director Zhang not to do Jin Yong remakes anymore.

Conclusion

My verdict – try to get the actual tapes version if you can as the recent vcds will cut some of the precious scenes that you will regret missing. I borrowed the vcds from my father’s friend and found them missing. One example would be how Kang Xi uses his hand to stop the cannon to blow up to save Xiao Bao.

Classics will forever remain as classics as this version follows the novel faithfully as there were not as many restrictions as now. That is why Jin Yong has declared openly that Chiu Wai and Tak Wah are his best choices for the roles. This is still the best version to me.

This serial shows how many potentials that TVB had in the 80s. The horde has actors and actresses who act well although they are far from being the lavishing beauties in the novel. Just by picking any of them and they will give you satisfying results. This is unlike now to bear with the undesirable acting and also outlooks from the artistes we see now.

The 98 TVB version did not go well with the Hong Kong viewers but was well received by mainland Chinese. It seems that they have more tolerance for it’s slapstick comedy sense of humour.

2000 Wong Ching’s version only took Chow Sing Chee’s version for granted to make some adjustments. The snow and fighting scenes are excellent. However, this could not save the lousy plot.

The 2006 China version was shot in 2006 but only shown in 2008. It received many cuts due to the strict rules. But the scenery shots were done tastefully – every place was real. I am not familiar with almost all the China actresses – the only face I know is Cai Er. Sometimes I feel like putting labels on everyone because I could not distinguish them when they were together!

Sukting’s ratings :

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

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

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



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