The Four


Reviewed by: sukting

January 15, 2009

Rating: three

How long
25 episodes

Foreword

The series has been adapted from a popular martial arts novel, The Four Young Great Constables, written by Wen Ruian. This is the third time TVB translated his works – the others being 惊艳一枪 and 布衣神相

The novel tells the story about the four great constables – their love lives and how they solve cases. TVB had claimed that it had added many interesting fighting and special effect scenes – just like a periodic ‘Detective Investigation Files’.

After watching a few disastrous adaptations, I brace myself to watch this version. Does it prove to be better than the others? Unlike my other reviews which have great spoilers, I will mention lesser since it is an investigation drama and is also easily attainable. This drama roped in the 4 top young and promising actors in TVB so it is considered a big production after ‘Triumph in the Skies’. Basically, I split them up into different categories as many characters are involved.

Story

Shing family and Fok family are perished. Ching Ngor suspects that someone is behind this as both families do not enhance bloodshed. He adopts Mou Qing whose legs are maimed in the attack but keeps his parentage from him. Mou Qing grows up to be an upright man. But he doesn’t reveal his emotions easily. Once, he is playing chess with 3 other scholars separately. Some bullies assault a pair of siblings and he helps them. However, he cites that he is only doing it as they disturb him from playing the games!

A valuable sword is missing and some people are killed after Cheung show it to all. The guests are Mou Qing, Ching Ngor, Po Tien and some others. Who steals it? Po Tien or Ching Ngor? This is how Mou Qing gets to know Tiet Shau and Chui Ming. The former is already a constable while the latter is a fortune teller – lying to get money. Tiet Shau is too upright to offend his counterparts in getting the real criminal in the provincial court so he decides to follow Ching Ngor.

Chui Ming is framed when his ex-lover and her husband are killed. Ching Ngor agrees to help him if he is able to get a valuable painting from a painter. Ching Ngor needs 4 different paintings to get a treasure that can help to stabilize the martial arts world and the imperial court. He informs him so Ching Ngor gets Tiet Shau and Mou Qing to get it. They befriend the Blue Sky sect which is also after the painting. Yeuk Fei is with her father and is eager to spar with Tiet Shau. But she wishes to be his disciple after losing to him.

Chi Yin is plucking medical grass from a mountain, risking her life. Tiet Shau saves her but Mou Qing is cold towards her. The two men finally get the painting while Chui Ming tries escaping from the cell. Lang Huet is known to be the real culprit and Chui Ming fights with him. Luckily, Ching Ngor rescues Chui Ming. Ching Ngor combines the four valuable paintings and Mou Qing learns the whereabouts of the treasure. Chui Ming is the most thrilled to find the treasure. It turns out to be a sabre.

Siu Kwat seizes it and Tiet Shau gives up the chance as he needs to rescue Yeuk Fei. Po Tin reveals to all that he doesn’t want Lok Sek to be the chief of the pugilistic world. Mou Qing examines the spot again and finds something amiss. Chui Ming is sore that the wealth are buried in the mountains by an explosion. They come into blows with Lang Huet who appears to be for the wealth too. He saves Siu Do earlier and she is obsessed with him.

They discover a box that encloses the medallion that is able to command authority – which is more powerful than the sabre. Whoever gets it can get the emperor to grant him any wish. Chui Ming is forced to become a constable as he is not supposed to know the imperial court secret. (This part is hilarious when Chui Ming tries to save his own skin as Ching Ngor says the others who find it will not need to die as they are all constables.) Ching Ngor is about to kill Lang Huet when Siu Do shields him and he discovers that he isn’t the one to kill Chui Ming’s ex-lover too. He becomes the last to join the constable court.

Thus the four constables are formed but they are at loggerheads with each other. Piu Suet takes pains to prepare a meal but Mou Qing cites that he can never get along with them. One is heartless while the other is competent (he is referring to Lang Huet and Chui Ming). Although Lang Huet says nothing, he gets so mad that he cuts the table into two with his sword.

Mou Qing visits his physician and learns that Chi Yin is his new disciple. He insists of setting off to check on a case of missing officials although he is unwell. So she follows him in order to take care of him. The four constables check on this case together for the first time. He refuses to wait for her so Tiet Shau and Chui Ming feel sorry for her. In their eyes, she is a physician (doi fu) and not a pugilist(mou fu).

Mou Qing suddenly has an asthmatic attack and she quickly gives him a medical pack for him to wear around his neck. He feels better after that so all tease that both do not have to be at loggerheads with each other. They separate ways as Chui Ming and Lang Huet will meet them at the village. During this time, Lang Huet disapproves of Chui Ming’s philandering ways at the brothel. He walks out and a dog keeps following him. Strangely, he feels closeness towards it.

Mou Qing suddenly has an asthmatic attack again and Chi Yin discovers that his medical pack is missing. She asks if he drops it or throws it away. He has lost it. She isn’t angry over it – she knows that it needs time to get along with him as he is sarcastic. Knowing that he dislikes to carry a sachet, she crushes the medicine to make into a small bottle of aroma to replace it. She is devastated to find her master dead – it seems that he has fallen from a cliff to his death when clutching a medical grass.

When Tiet Shau and Yeuk Fei go missing, Mou Qing refuses to search for them as he doesn’t want the rest to lose their way too. Tiet Shau should have the means to save himself as a constable. The two are captured but later find their way out. From here, they learn about Lang Huet’s sad parentage. (I shall leave all to find the ending.) The four constables actually help the villagers to trick King so that he can stop harming them to get precious stones for him.

Piu Suet feel sorry to know that Lang Huet is brought up by wolves after his parents passed away when he was four. She sews a gown for him but he refuses to accept it and walks away fast. Her friend who visits her suddenly turns mad and becomes a zombie. Ching Ngor gets Mou Qing to check on a village. Chi Yin follows and manages to stop Mou Qing’s condition from deteriorating when he is hurt by a dog. I shall not go into the details except to reveal that it has something to do with a physician and a dog.

Ching Ngor learns about Tiet Shau’s parentage upon seeing his half bronze pendant to learn that he is a descendant of the Fok family but keeps their secret from the two guys. A few mysterious deaths occur and it has to do with gambling. Chui Ming checks on this as he is a professional gambler. There is a chest of weapons found and Mou Qing finds them very familiar looking. Ching Ngor is puzzled on how he has such a deep impression as he adopts him when he is only two years old. Mou Qing starts to search on his past.

Lang Huet interrogates criminals at Chi Yin’s clinic. He accidentally breaks Hua Tuo’s statue that her master leaves for her. Chi Yin is very unhappy over it. Mou Qing gets a replica for her from the same sculptors. She accepts it and notices that he is warmer to her now, wishing her to watch her own safety as she is staying alone. That means that he has changed.

King wants Lok Sek to get Shing’s family weapons to conquer the marital arts world. The two clans clash so Tiet Shau has no choice but to arrest Yeuk Fei and Siu Kwat. He releases both but the sects still try to compete with one another. Yin Hung finds out the cause of her father’s death and forgives Ching Ngor.

Siu Do pretends to be sick to rest at Chi Yin’s clinic in order to see an injured Lang Huet but he is cold towards her. Even Tiet Shau can’t stand his attitude. The emperor wants to choose the pugilistic leader. So Mou Qing and Lang Huet come to the remote island with Po Tien on a ship. The ship explodes and all go missing. Yeuk Fei thinks that Lok Sek is behind this to want to kill him. But she is nearly killed by Siu Kwat. Luckily Tiet Shau saves her. Chi Yin is with Mou Qing on the ship.

Chi Yin nearly drowns in the sea. Mou Qing saves her and brings her to the shore. When she wakes up, she finds herself leaning on him. She is relieved that he is still alive and touches his face. Lang Huet runs to them – this is the first time we see the anxiety on his face as he reaches Mou Qing. All land on a remote island. Although tired, Lang Huet is very observant over the dangerous surroundings to make sure that all will get food. He teaches Kam Kiem and Yan Kiem on how to kill fishes with a sword.

Seeing how he manages to set a fire easily, they wish him to grill the fish so that all can eat. He snaps at them to do it on their own. His fire is meant for passers-by to discover them. The two sigh but knows that he means well. (Lang Huet is cold indeed but no one can rebuke him over this.) As the others follow him in their search for food, he leaves nuts for Mou Qing to protect himself by the beach as he is on his own.

Yeuk Fei represents her father to win the contest to get into the finals. Tiet Shau is unable to talk her out of it as Lok Sek is cruel. He is worried sick and fears that she might be killed. He offers to resign from the constable post and replace her for the duel. Of course, all rule out the possibility.

All are poisoned on the island and some are killed mysteriously. Yin Hung attacks Yeuk Fei as she wants to stall more time to look for Po Tien and doesn’t want her to die without a good cause. Moreover, she also knows that Tiet Shau is worried sick over her as she has passed through each round through sheer luck as her skills are mediocre. Po Tien returns to her relief but suddenly dies after winning Lok Sek.

Lok Sek emerges as the winner. Po Tien’s followers expel Yeuk Fei out of their sect as they join Lok Sek’s Da Lian sect. Tiet Shau gives up his constable pass to save her out when she seeks to attack Lok Sek on her own. His other juniors also do the same to give up their positions – they throw to fix the three passes into a stone. Lang Huet says nothing while Chui Ming jokes that he has little pay so he isn’t bothered by it. Mou Qing asks how can Tiet Shau be the only one who is reckless? (This shows how close the four are now.)

Ching Ngor manages to settle their dispute. Yuek Fei is punished 80 strokes for assaulting Tiet Shau and Lok Shek. Tiet Shau tries in vain to change the verdict and promises that he will never leave her after giving her medicine to heal herself. Ching Ngor is annoyed with the four for throwing away their passes easily. He gets all the passes back but punishes them to do housework for Piu Suet.

It is hilarious to see them chopping wood, cooking, sweeping and cleaning up the whole place. It is more tiring for them than fighting with criminals. Tiet Shau feels sorry for implicating them but they do not mind it. They blow a leaf to each other in the grassland and feel bored when it lands to Lang Huet. All bet that he will not blow it but to their astonishment, he blows back. This shows that he is having a sense of humour now and they are happy over it.

Lok Sek reveals Lang Huet’s past as an assassin so he is on the run. Yau Dong helps Chui Ming to find food and finds the Kam ambassador that Lang Huet is looking for to prove his innocence. He is forced to be a laborer at King’s goldmine with the others. Yau Dong is also locked up with them. The constables manage to find them. Yau Dong and the missing women are raped to become retarded after the ordeal. Tiet Shau is upset over this although Lang Huet’s name is cleared.

King’s son is banished to the borders over this but is killed. King suspects Tiet Shau to be the culprit. The others suspect Chi Yin to betray them but they have no evidence. Tiet Shau sleepwalks and Yeuk Fei looks after him for the night. She sees a man resembling Tiet Shau killing others. Although Tiet Shau claims to be innocent, he is still locked up as a sabre and blood are found on him.

Chui Ming prevents Yau Dong from killing herself and she is touched when he will wish to die with her. This is so ridiculous as he nearly drowns while she is his savior. Mou Qing checks on cases of corrupted officials being killed by a martial arts expert with strong fists. The six (including Mou Qing’s attendants) corner the real killer but he gives them the slip.

Mou Qing is injured in the leg in the process. All are concerned to get him to visit Chi Yin although he feels nothing in his leg. Chi Yin treats him and finds something else in his leg. It has been sunk deeply into his leg for 20 years and he hardly bothers as it doesn’t give him any discomfort. He dares her to remove it – to his dismay, she gets the knife ready! She takes it out and sees that the secret weapon is similar to the secret weapon that hurts him by the killer.

Mou Qing gets suspicious when Mou Hei and Piu Suet urge him to bury the hatchet. That means they know his past but keeps it from him. Knowing that Mou Qing yearns to know his parentage, Chi Yin supports his decision. He holds her hand, touched by her concern. Mou Qing gives it to an expert to check it. It belongs to the iron face judge, Fok Dou Hsuen. He then visits the abbot that his father entrusts him to and the abbot only gives him the cloth that wraps him when he is a baby.

Nevertheless, he is intelligent to guess the truth to get the whole picture of how his family is killed and his legs injured by visiting the spot. Ding Tien is framed of being in cahoots with the Kams so the iron face judge gets angry to carry out the killings. Knowing that Mou Qing is upset, Chi Yin accompanies him to his parents’ grave and he vows to seek the truth. Ching Ngor has to spill the beans to him. Mou Qing sighs – even if he wishes to forget, he is unsure if Tiet Shau will do the same.

Tiet Shau is released from jail and runs after the killer. He discovers that he is his master – and also his elder brother, Fok Ching. He is unable to acknowledge his younger brother and Tiet Shau persuades him to surrender himself but he refuses as he wants to continue his father’s mission but doing it illegally.

Yin Hung is upset to know that Siu Kwat is on close ties with Cheung and both have helped King for long in his dark deals. Cheung is so angry that she still keeps contact with Ching Ngor to lock her up. Mou Qing brings people to surround Ching but ends up killing him. Tiet Shau is upset over this. When checking Ching’s dead body, Ching Ngor and Mou Qing find a needle. Ching Ngor is sure that Mou Qing isn’t the one to kill him.

Mou Qing recalls that Po Tien’s dead expression is the same as Ching. He concludes that it is the same killer. Lok Sek is angry that Siu Do is in love with Lang Huet so he sends her to marry another man. To her dismay, Lang Huet does not show any emotion upon hearing it. Lok Sek doesn’t want his children to be implicated by King. Siu Kwat gives in to him later. Cheung dies in the process when the emperor discovers his plan to overthrow him.

Lang Huet snatches Siu Do away on her wedding day – he wants her father to be Ching Ngor’s informer by getting close to King. They are not going to elope as she thinks. Yeuk Fei discovers that Chi Yin keeps the fist casing so she is the one who frames Tiet Shau for the killings. Yeuk Fei knows from Po Tien that those who are not strong enough will need the gloves to increase their strength.

Yeuk Fei gets injured by her and feigns death. She manages to escape to another spot before blacking out. Chi Yin takes care of Mou Qing who is ill and he sleeps. Chui Ming mentions that Mou Qing catches a cold as he has sleepless nights, looking at the cloth for the weapon plan. Mou Qing discovers Chi Yin’s identity as she has stolen the cloth.

He takes out the needles to confront her. He not only finds them on Ching but also on Po Tien when he opens his grave. She has to admit it as she sees that her lying gets her nowhere. But he can’t bear to kill her, telling her to leave before he can hear her answer if she loves him.

Tiet Shau is mad with Mou Qing for letting her off and slaps him. He holds Yeuk Fei’s hand and is too worried to sleep. Ching Ngor is able to save her as she holds her breath before getting hit but she will take a long time to wake up. Tiet Shau gets so mad that he leaves the constable court and gives up his pass.

Chi Yin returns to the lake and admits that she is truthful to Mou Qing. She leans close to him and plants – not a kiss but a needle into his throat! Mou Qing is weakened so that the other killers can subdue him. Chi Yin locks him up in the cell. He sits on the ground and looks at her bitterly. Mou Qing can’t believe that she loves him even though she is faithful to King.

Mou Qing reveals that the cloth has no plan at all and he is also deceiving her all along. King’s men remove all the 20 over secret weapons and traps they can find from Mou Qing’s wheelchair. (The number is shocking as they are laid out on a table.) It is well built indeed by a genius as it shows that Mou Qing really inherits his father’s talents. Still, Mou Qing refuses to reveal a thing to King.

All worry that something will happen to Mou Qing but Ching Ngor remains calm. He also suspects King for abducting him but doesn’t show his anxiety. He is worried as he treats him as a son by bringing him up. Mou Hei shares his sentiments. Chui Ming informs Tiet Shau of the happenings but he is only concentrated on how Yeuk Fei is going to get well. Tiet Shau is shattered when she is blind.

The constables are alarmed when Ching Ngor gets close to King. Ching Ngor even kills Chui Ming to gain King’s trust. In reality, he doesn’t hurt his heart and even stops his bleeding. After that, he gets Mou Hei to bring him to a safe place to recuperate. King still wants Chi Yin to get the secret from Mou Qing.

Mou Qing is badly beaten and Chi Yin steals water for him to drink. King threatens to kill Chi Yin if Mou Qing refuses to say a word. Seeing her in danger, he gives in. Mou Qing is then forced to draw the weapon plan but Chi Yin sets him free. He shakes his head – how can he go when his legs can’t move and this place is heavily guarded? She knows a secret passage so she carries him on her back to drag him and go all the way out. He faints on the way. (This woman is very strong indeed!)

Chi Yin puts him on the grass and he wakes up as they reach the other side of the stream. She has hidden his wheelchair there as she has heard of King wanting to kill him. His wounds are secondary so she can get someone to send him home. Knowing that she can’t return to King, he intends to stay with her. Both retreat to the countryside as this is his wish all along.

Siu Kwat also kills Cheung, framing him to conspire with Ching Ngor to overthrow the emperor. King locks Ching Ngor up and reveals that he is the one who abolishes the two families. Siu Do is happy with Lang Huet in the mountains but is dismayed when he sends her back. They discover a dying Lok Sek to know that Ching Ngor is in trouble.

Siu Kwat has killed him under King's command. Lok Sek wants Lang Huet to take good care of his daughter and dies. Ching Ngor, Tiet Shau’s and Chui Ming’s family are locked up in the cell. Mou Qing manages to come up with the secret weapon plan upon looking at the cloth. Chi Yin steals it for King to make the weapons.

Mou Qing gets dejected to be drunk daily after discovering that he gets deceived again. Even when he falls off the wheelchair to get beaten up by others, he doesn’t retailiate at all. Tiet Shau and Chui Ming are worried upon knowing what has happened to Ching Ngor from Lang Huet. Chui Ming gets so angry that he sinks Mou Qing’s head into the stream, wanting to wake him up. Tiet Shau also pulls him towards him, telling him of the danger that Ching Ngor is in. Only Lang Huet is calm to tell all to come up with a good plan.

Chi Yin regrets upon seeing the ‘shen bin’ weapon so powerful. She is ordered to poison the others in the cell. She tells Ching Ngor about King’s plan to overthrow the emperor. Although the four manage to save all, they are unable to clear the poison. They curse Chi Yin and Mou Qing is silent. Lang Huet and Chui Ming quickly get Mou Hei to rescue the emperor. Siu Kwat kills many with ’shen bin’ weapon.

King uses it to deal with the four. They are injured and the thing is about to explode. Mou Qing keeps his cool and uses his dart to pierce at the correct spot. He is hesitant at first as a wrong move will kill all of them. King is about to kill Mou Qing. He can’t shift backwards as his wheelchair is blocked by the dead. Chi Yin appears to accept the blow and vomits blood. She manages to plant a needle into King’s hand so that the other three constables can kill King.

Chi Yin tranfers all the poison to herself. She doesn’t wish to let Mou Qing and the others down anymore. She requests Mou Qing to play flute music for her. He sleeps after that – gosh, I can’t believe that this is happening as his beloved is dying! She leaves a letter quietly – she doesn’t want him to see how she dies so she goes away. It is later found that she returns to the countryside, disfigured but still treating the sick. However, she doesn’t wish to see him again as she rides away on horseback.

Mou Qing doesn’t go after her as he is thankful that she is still alive. Ching Ngor offers to take care of Yin Hung but she refuses to stay in the capital. Seeing him will remind him how Cheung dies. Siu Kwat uses Siu Do as a hostage and he suddenly sees Lok Sek’s soul appearing. He gets frightened and falls to his death. The emperor returns the constable passes to the four. Chui Ming wants to marry Yau Dong but she prefers to learn skills from another goldsmith from another town.

Lang Huet wishes to take care of Siu Do but she chooses to be a nun. Tiet Shau is shy when Yeuk Fei brings hot water for his bath. He pleads with her to marry him but she will only do that if she recovers. She suddenly asks why his body is red – is the water too hot? He is delighted that she can finally see. But his happiness is short-lived when she wants to rebuild her sect. Still, she promises to marry him when everything is settled. (Things do not turn out the way that the constables expect.)

The four are puzzled when Piu Suet tells them that Ching Ngor is away for a year. They presume that he is checking on a major case like King’s conspiracy. But in reality – he is enjoying a holiday. He sees women having difficulty plucking fruit. So he throws a stone to help them out. He is amused that knowing martial arts still have some use after all.

The four protect the emperor from rebels. They come to the valley and urge him to leave first. It is said that there are 60 attackers so they think that they can manage. To their astounishment, 600 over people come! Chui Ming yells – has their informer made a mistake? Mou Qing then wish all well to meet again as the four fend against their attackers.

Introduction on characters

A)The constables court

1) Chu kot Ching Ngor諸葛正我 – Lam Kar Wah
He is the leader of the constable court. He wishes to reopen it. The novel has this master adopting the four when they are young but this tv version only makes him becoming their mentor to find the four to be members of the constables court. He isn't recognised by his talents at all. He loves to joke but can also put a straight face.

Kar Wah’s acting is normally good but somehow I don’t like his version of Ching Ngor as he isn’t serious enough. Anyone who has read the novel will know that Ching Ngor is a marital arts expert who is very highly regarded to allow no nonsense. But his interpretation – really has no ‘feel’ of Ching Ngor.

2) Shing Ngai Yue/Mou Qing 盛崖餘 (無情) – Lam Fung
He is adopted since young by Ching Ngor and his legs are maimed due to a struggle between his family and Tiet Shou’s family. His physique becomes weak due to this tragedy to often suffer from asthmatic attacks.
Ching Ngor gives him the name Ngai Yue, indicating that he is the remainder of his family. He is wise and intelligent to look and think far ahead.

His father is a talent in producing weapons and so is he. He is talented in using secret weapons and he fixes many traps in his wheelchair. Since he is the first disciple, he is considered the leader among the four. Initially, he shakes his head at the other three joining him but later learns to treat them as his brothers. Even after knowing Chi Yin’s identity, Mou Qing still loves her deeply.

Cold and distant as he seems, he becomes a warm person after knowing Chi Yin. Or rather he also loses all sense of judgment when coming to anything that concerns her. His juniors nearly tear their hair as he keeps defending her to get hurt continuously. Initially, I had reservations on Fung acting as Mou Qing as he is so dark and healthy looking. But he changes my mind upon seeing him appearing. He has the scholarly look in his white velvet clothes and red ruby ring.

Fung is brilliant in this role! His Mou Qing projects wits and tenderness through his eyes. This is a big challenge to him but yet he does well. Although trapped in a wheelchair, he is an eye-catcher with his sarcasm. Moreover, he is very dashing to be able to sweep his female fans off their feet by his appearance. Mou Qing’s pride and wisdom comes lively as he speaks.

3) Fok Yau Ha/Tiet Shau 霍游夏 (鐵手) – Ma Kok Ming
His surname is real and is never adopted so he doesn’t mind having Tiet Shau as his nickname in the novel. He loves to make friends and is loyal to them. He doesn’t believe in killing although he is powerful with his fists. He keeps all his promises and he has a lot of patience.

But in here, he is Teet Foo's adopted son and Fok Do Yun's second son. He is the second disciple who is warm-hearted. His easy-going personality wins over them easily. Kok Ming has improved in his acting but still, I think he isn’t chivalrous enough as he has the honest and easy-to-deceive-look.

4) Tsui Leuk Sheung/Chui Ming 崔略商 (追命) – Chan Kin Fung
Chui Ming is the most alert and he is the oldest among them. His kicking skills are marvellous and he loves wine to have a bottle with him all the time in the novel. (So far, I have only seen this in Leung Siu Lung’s ATV ‘The Four Constables’ version.)

In this version, he is the third disciple who is cheeky, cunning and talkative. He never takes things seriously. He is adopted since young but has no regrets in life as his foster parents treat him well. He doesn’t like Mou Qing to often refer him as the cripple. He only looks up to Tiet Shau because of his skills. Boasting that he has a way with women, he has no experience at all.

What has Kin Fung done to get bloated so much?! Others look fit while he is out of shape. I need time to adjust to his cheeky image. Seeing Kin Fung acting here is how we see someone treading on a wire. His weakest point is acting as a comedian. Certain parts can be too exaggerating. But as Chui Ming’s personality is different from the rest, he still manages to make a deep impression.

5) Lang Ling Hei/Lang Huet 冷凌棄 (冷血) – Ng Cheuk Hei
Lang Huet is brought up by wolves in the forest in the novel. Ching Ngor feels sorry for him being abandoned so he gives him his name. His sword skills are formidable and merciless as he will never stop once he starts. He is the youngest among the four.

In this version, he is an assassin in the past and is the last to be accepted to join the court. Like Mou Qing, he inherits his late father’s hunter instinct. He meets more opposition than the rest. He is as cold as Mou Qing to be a man of few words and is a loner. Even after knowing Siu Dou, he hasn’t changed at all. He is closer to Tiet Shau among the four. He learns to work with the other three after some time.

It can be considered a breakthrough from Cheuk Hei’s usual loud and sunshine roles. I also need time to get used to this change – it seems that he has reverse roles from Kin Fung as in ‘the academy’. Moreover, he hardly shaves and there is a long scar on his face. His hairstyle is also long to project his image as a past hunter. But I must say that he acts quite well as the man who conceals his feelings. The way he speaks in a low tone is also a breakthrough – he has improved in his acting.

6) Piu Suet飄雪 – Tam Siu Wan
She is the housekeeper who is very impartial. The four respect her like an aunt. She is closest to Mou Qing as she brings him up from young. Mou Qing loves to tease her and Mou Hei. She is knowledgeable and seems to have a torch for Mou Hei but she never admits it. My heart cracks to pieces when I hear the four addressing her as Aunt Suet – this is so unfair to Siu Wan as she is only a few years older than them! isn’t she an ex-miss HK winner? How can she be playing second fiddle to the other 4 younger actresses? Still, I must commend her for her strong performance.

7) Kam Kiem金劍 – Tong Chun Ming
He is one of the two Mou Qing’s attendants. He is very attentive towards him and is cautious to bring him to the physician whenever he shows signs of having asthmatic attacks. He is scared whenever Mou Qing wants to be alone and he will not dare to disturb him when he is deeply in thought. That is why Yan Kiem blames him for causing him to be kidnapped by Chi Yin.

8) Yan Kiem銀劍 - Wu Kei Fung
He is the other of Mou Qing’s attendants. Mou Qing knows that he can never master the sword skills with his weak physique so he imparts the skills to them. They definitely do him proud. Seeing him getting cheated by Chi Yin repeatedly makes him jump although he knows that Chi Yin is no match for Mou Qing in skills but the reverse will happen if he lets down his guard. However well they know Mou Qing, they guess wrongly that the two will never elope but they do it – to the astonishment of all!

B) The four’s love interests vs the REAL love interests in the novel

9) Song Chi Yin桑芷妍 – Tsui Chi San
Mou Qing finds her stubborn and her nature might harm herself. Thus he is puzzled by his physician who accepts her as a disciple as he has not done so all along. His physician describes her as kind and talented. Soon, Chi Yin’s medical skills win Mou Qing over and she becomes his companion frequently on his trips as his personal physician since he is weak. No one will guess that she has a double life as King’s spy – thus she is a ‘mou fu’ as well as a ‘doi fu’.

She owns a flute but I suspect that she doesn’t know how to play with it as she only asks Mou Qing to play pieces for her. She is brought up by King as he rescues her from a famine after her family dies. Thus, she will do anything to repay his kindness. She sneaks into the constable court to gain evidence and also their trust, pretending not to know martial arts.

She not only kills the physician who guides her but also many other people to incur the wrath of many. Still, she is moved by Mou Qing’s trust in her. Her vicious nature is dissolved. So she can’t bear betraying him repeatedly to finally go against King. I shake my head with her lousy ability to be able to get into the constable court so easily as the spy. I will surely flunk her in phrase one!

Upon knowing that Chi San was going to play against Fung, my ‘passion’ sinks to rock bottom. After watching, I include her as among the top of my list of artistes who can’t act. She is expressionless and her tone can be so monotonous – I hardly feel her affections. Furthermore, she isn’t charming as the periodic maiden. Fung deserves someone better – a person who can act and reciprocate the ‘chemistry’ to him. His current is cut short due to her ‘breakdown’. How I wish Yeung Yee or Yip Hsuen can replace her.

Kek Yiu Far – although she is older than Mou Qing and is a notorious killer, she conceals her identity from him so he falls hopelessly in love with her. She is also a secret weapon expert and Mou Qing has no choice but to kill her with his own hands in anguish as she wants to kill him.

10) Lam Yeuk Fei藍若飛 – Lee See Wan
She is an expert with the whip which is tied to her waist. She only uses it when necessary. Tiet Shau is enchanted by her mannerisms as she is frank, observant and also daring. Knowing that Tiet Shau sleepwalks, she takes good care of him. Her beauty is enhanced with her colourful dressing. Even though she goes blind, she isn’t discouraged and even harbours hopes of recovery. See Wan has also improved in her acting and all will like her role.

I must say that her acting has improved in heaps and bounds! This is the second time she works together with Kok Ming after《太极》or they have even more chemistry than before.

Siu Chan – she works in the brothel, playing the pipa. She is much younger than Tiet Shau and is very petite in size. Yet many envy them as they are a loving and matching couple. Tiet Shau’s hands are as hard as metal but his hands soften whenever she touches them.

11) Tiet Yau Tung鐵游冬 – Lee See Ting
She is Tiet Shau’s foster sister but they are no different from other related siblings. She becomes a goldsmith like her father. Being intelligent, she adds a chain to a weapon drawing - the real weapon leaves marks on branches. This helps the constables to solve a case.

Although she has been cheated by Chui Ming’s foster parents, she doesn’t mind it. Thus, Tiet Shau is afraid that she might be deceived by Chui Ming’s sweet tongue. She sews well and Chui Ming keeps boasting to others that what he wears are all from her. This is true in a way as even his shoes are sewn by her! See Ting is a newcomer so her acting is still unnatural.

Ng Chor Chor – she pretends not to know martial arts to befriend Chui Ming. In reality, she knows and is also the daughter of a corrupted official. Although she loves Chui Ming, she is given no choice but to use him as a hostage so that she can escape with her father.

12) Ling Siu Do凌小刀 – Kung Sai Tong
She loves painting but is ambushed on her way home. Lang Huet comes to her aid and she likes him. She is continuously ignored by him but she doesn’t mind it. She even tells Chi Yin how to love. Same as See Ting, she is also a newcomer and resembles Tong Ning in looks. I even think that she is Ning at first glance! TVB is really daring to give two new faces meat roles! But sadly, both actresses let us down.

This actress offers the worst acting and she lacks the looks. She looks more like a maid and lets Cheuk Hei down. I feel so sorry for him to act opposite her. There is definitely no chemistry between them.

Chap Mei Hung – she is the youngest daughter of a swordsman. She is wilful and pampered so she ends up getting into trouble continuously. She addresses Siu Chan as second sister-in-law, thinking that she will marry her own second elder brother. But the address is still right as Siu Chan becomes Tiet Shau’s beloved.

C) The court

13) Emperor Huizong - Yu Yeung
He is as spineless as the emperor in ‘War and Beauty’ and ‘皆大欢喜’so that TVB gets the same actor. I sink into despair – how can this be? One look at him and we know that he is an incompetent emperor.

14) Chiu Cheung – Tsang Wai Kuen
He is the emperor’s lustful younger brother who wants to help Yin Hung to seek revenge, thinking that Ching Ngor causes her father’s death. However, he himself loses a gambling debt to Chui Ming and has to come up with a replica of the sword instead. He finally reconciles with Yin Hung with Ching Ngor’s help. Easily manipulated, he meets his doom by working with King.

15. Kuk Yin Hung – Tin Yu Ngai
She is Chiu Cheung's wife. No one will guess that her other identity is also Ching Ngor’s junior who holds him responsible for her father’s death. It is not said that Ching Ngor loves her but I suspect this might be the case as he remains single all this while. She hates Ching Ngor for causing her father’s death and is very hostile to him.

She discovers that her father is unable to take the pressure of loving a married woman and kills her by mistake. Unable to face the guilt, he kills himself. She is moved that Ching Ngor prefers her to hate him to conceal the truth to prevent her from getting hurt and ruining his teacher’s reputation. All will be happy that they make up later.

16. Choi King – Lau Kong
He is an evil Marquis who seeks to control the imperial court to overthrow the emperor. Many will hate him for causing so much bloodshed.

D) The others

17) Ling Siu Kwat – Chan San Chong
He is Siu Do’s evil elder brother who is heartless to betray his family. He is past caring over his younger sister’s safety. He is King’s lackery as he is promised an official’s position to work for him. Even at the expense of sacrificing his father. San Chong’s acting hasn’t improved much.

18) Shu Mo Hei - Chiang Chi Kwong
He is a general and is Ching Ngor's friend. He helps the four to rescue the emperor from being killed. I don’t think he looks like a general at all. He looks more like a scholar. Sigh – maybe he should concentrate on acting modern dramas.

19) Lam Po Tin – Lau Kar Fai
He is chief of the blue sky sect. Having no sons, he regards his daughter as his only successor so he trains her well. She doesn’t let him down and he is pleased.

20) Ling Lok Sek – Lok Ying Kwan
He is the siblings’ father and is also the chief of Dalian Pledge Sect. Ambitious and greedy, he aims to climb to the top but he also fears for his children’s lives. So he wishes the best for them.

21) Tiet Foo – Lo Lok Lam
He is Tiet Shau’s righteous foster father. However, he knows that Tiet Shau can be too upright and thus hopes that Ching Ngor will help him to take care of him to avoid him getting into trouble.

22) Yeung Dai Ma/Chu Yee Pa/ Ngau Sam Ba – Shuet Ngai/Chun Wong/Sin Gei Ying
They are all Chui Ming’s foster parents who treat him well as their own.

23) Shing Ding Tin – Lam King Kong
He is Ching Ngor's friend and Mou Qing’s father. He is a famous weapon maker but is framed for treason. Ching Ngor is too late to rescue him as he only sees his corpse. Mou Qing is hurt in the process when his family is killed and Ding Tin places him in the care of the abbot before seeking revenge on Fok. It is a pity that he dies young but his only son manages to figure out his weapons’ construction plans which are hidden in the cloth that covered him as a baby.

24) Lang Yu Sheung – Lee Fung
She is Lang Huet’s aunt. She acknowledges him when they are separated for a long time. A pity that their reunion is shortlived when she is killed suddenly.

25) Fok Ching – Ou Sui Wai
He is Tiet Shau’s natural elder brother who takes matters into his own hands to seek revenge on his family. He is the one to cause Mou Qing’s handicap. Same as Fung as Lang Huet’s aunt, he doesn’t have enough time with his brother too.

Favourite character
Mou Qing – he isn’t as sentimental as the others in solving cases so he is able to observe the details quickly. But his vision becomes blur when it concerns Chi Yin. A close second will be Yeuk Fei – she can be gentle and also wild. No wonder she wins Tiet Shau’s heart easily.

Most hated character
King, he causes bloodshed in the two families and also ruins Chi Yin’s life. A close second is Chi Yin – she keeps deceiving Mou Qing repeatedly when she could have retreated with him forever for good.

Song
It is called ‘Strong Wind’ by the four actors. Their singing was so much better than in the past.

Interesting scenes – mostly on Mou Qing and Chi Yin. (Fung is at his best in the scenes but unfortunately Chi San doesn’t act well to fail our expectations.)

Chi Yin sees a valuable herb at a cliff and climbs to get it. She nearly falls to her death and luckily Tiet Shau carries her in his arms. He tells her to be careful next time. (If you think that they will end up to become a pair, you are wrong. This is so misleading.) Mou Qing is unfeeling to say that she only causes trouble to herself and he will not waste time on her.

Mou Qing is at the clinic with his physician as he is unwell. He gets shy why Chi Yin returns to stare at him when he talks. She has noticed that his tongue is greenish that matches with his pale face to show that his asthmatic symptoms are showing.

Mou Qing and Tiet Shau are in a village, investigating on a case where many turn into zombies. Mou Qing is bitten by a dog letting lose by the physician deliberately as he discovers his secret. His asthmatic attack has weakened him so Chi Yin blames herself for being incompetent.

She sheds tears and vows never to force him to take her medicine if he recovers. He gives a forced smile – she has claimed to wish to cure him within a month. So how can she give up midway as this is so unlike her? It is heartbreaking to hear him to urge her to kill him when he really becomes a zombie.

Mou Qing turns mad and attacks his comrades. They are nearly exploded to death. Yeuk Fei and Tiet Shau have no choice but to tie him up. The magistrate orders his men to kill him. Chi Yan runs to force the antidote down his throat as they manage to find the remedy to save all the rest.

Mou Qing finally treats Tiet Shau better as his junior after he saves him. When Piu Suet decideds to brew soup for Mou Qing after his return, he suggests to her brewing Tiet Shau’s share too and Tiet Shau is pleasantly surprised. Mou Qing also thanks him when he retrieves arrows for him as he is practicing with his bow and arrow.

Lang Huet shows his gentle side in wrapping a dog’s wound. That dog has been his companion in his childhood days. A mad woman in the village mistakens him for her younger brother. Lang Huet doesn’t deny this as he knows that he resembles his father and she must be her aunt. When she is killed, he shows his grief for once as he loses his only kin. Seeing that the dog is old and sickly, he kills it beside her grave to keep her company.

Chi Yin thanks Mou Qing for saving her from drowning. He maintains that he needs someone to cure him when he is sick. Mou Qing sighs when he is on the remote island with the others. He feels handicapped without his wheelchair. Chi Yin consoles him – Mou Qing is still calm to analyze matters clearly even after the ordeal. Moreover, he saves her life. How can he still think that he is useless? Mou Qing feels better after listening to her words.

(My top choice as the best scene)

***The others search for food while Lang Huet keeps Mou Qing company. What Mou Qing suspects of the weapon of hurting others is true indeed. Mou Qing’s expression is calm. But he is totally caught off-guard when Kam Kiem and Yan Kiem inform him that Chi Yin is missing.

He holds her shoe and reprimands them sternly for not walking with her. Why are they still standing there – they must get him up to look for her. Knowing that Mou Qing can’t rest his mind and he is the one who knows that forest route best, Lang Huet carries Mou Qing immediately on his back. (This scene also shows how observant Lang Huet is to read his mind.) Mou Qing is relieved that Lang Huet finds her at the bottom of the hill. Helped by Kam Kiem and Yan Kiem, he asks anxiously how she is.

He finally breathes normally when she opens her eyes. She is hurt by the same weapon that kills the others. He tends to her wound on her back. She jokes that she is now his patient and will listen to him. Even though she wants to wash her face by the sea, Kam Kiem and Yan Kiem offer to follow her. (I have a good time laughing when hearing him calling her by her name affectionately and not Miss Song anymore.)

They are afraid of getting scolded by Mou Qing again – they tell her how anxious Mou Qing is when she goes missing. Mou Qing has to cut them short to threaten to scold them but the two smile when following Chi Yin as they see how their young master tries to hide his uneasiness. (Fung is brilliant in changing his expression and tone within seconds – from cold, strict/stern to gentle…..but what a waste when Chi San’s expression is stony! How can she be replying without any emotions? Argh!) ***

The group is attacked but the two constables are the only ones who aren’t poisoned. Both fight back to subdue the killer. Lang Huet notices that the fruit are poisoned when Chi Yin brings them back. He informs Mou Qing but both refrain from telling the others to lure the killer out.

Mou Qing fixes Chi Yin’s flute which is faulty. He wants to return to her at her clinic but she isn’t back yet from collecting herbs. Seeing that it is turning dark, he waits for her at the forest entrance. He places a lantern at his wheelchair and plays the flute. Although he tells Chi Yin coldly that he is only taking a stroll out of convenience, she knows that he is there as he is afraid that she will lose her way.

Tiet Shau sees that Po Tien’s blood stains on his shirt turns blue and gets Mou Qing to get Ching Ngor check on it when he is back. Mou Qing finds someone is in his room and throws out his dart without hesitation. He is alarmed to see that the person is Chi Yan who is changing his medicine. He quickly tends to her wound. She knows his feelings for her and kisses him.

Mou Qing is stunned when she runs out. In reality, she is King’s spy to steal the shirt and she is also the one to plant the poison needle into Po Tien’s body when all are poisoned on the island. Unknown to all, she is a ruthless killer. All learn that Mou Qing likes Chi Yin. Chui Ming boasts that he is very experienced but later makes a fool out of himself. (I shall leave all to watch this part on your own as it is really funny.)

Mou Qing and Chi Yan stay in the countryside and they enjoy the simple life. Both pretend to be husband and wife. She helps a woman to deliver and both become foster parents. Seeing Mou Qing getting tipsy, she is about to let him rest when he holds her hand and lets her lean towards his chest. He is really thinking of letting her to become his wife. Both sleep together for the night and he craves figurines of them together.

Mou Qing falls out with Tiet Shau twice when he wants to catch Chi Yin. Poor Tiet Shau – he is even hurt by Mou Qing’s dagger once. Mou Qing still has trust in Chi Yin although he is often deceived by her.

Interesting facts

The cast appeared on the day when TVB prepared offerings to the gods. They complained that the thick layers of clothes made them giddy. Luckily none of them suffered from heatstroke. Kin Fung envied Wong Chung Chak for getting the chance to act in ‘War of in-laws II’ to enjoy the air-con. Moreover, he had beautiful women to surround him. He joked it must be dry working with the other 3 actors in most scenes.

Cheuk Hei also joked that he was equally indignant to envy him too. Kok Ming also described that Chung Chak must had enjoyed to be in the company of sexy women. It was rumoured that the other 3 isolated Kok Ming during filming. All denied this as this was a rumour. They knew each other too well.

It was also said that Cheuk Hei had too many negative news so his part was lesser than the three. It was also rumoured that Kin Fung scolded See Ting for acting badly. Kok Ming felt that Kin Fung was too harsh to a newcomer and stood up for her. The two actors exchanged glances and were obviously amused – how did reporters get wind of the news that they did not know?

The four actors were not afraid of being compared. Kin Fung admitted that he was still a kindergarten student in acting periodic dramas so he had to learn a lot from the rest. Kok Ming was only afraid of handling the fighting scenes and not looking like a martial arts expert on screen.

Many had lousy experiences of adaptations that were badly done. Moreover, recent TVB works started well but ended badly. Furthermore, the script did not follow the novel. Many were worried that Mou Qing’s image would be tarnished. Wen Rui An was promised that he would not get to see a Mou Qing which would walk around in a blanket (a phrase for rough cloth in the dressing.) Many were relieved to see Fung sitting quietly and gentlemanly on the wheelchair.

Chi San had indictated that the audience could hardly expect affections between Chi Yin and Mou Qing since Mou Qing is wheelchair bound. But all Wen fans (including me) are taken aback by the ‘bed’ scene. It was said that Chi San complained that Fung often took his own sweet time to sit down to rest.

Fung sighed – what could he do when Mou Qing was arranged to sit on the wheelchair all the time? (I had this feeling which was why Chi San hardly immersed in this role because of this.) What he could do was only to reduce his weight so that Chi San, Cheuk Hei (the two had to carry him on their backs and the two actors who pushed his wheelchair would not have a hard time.

The ‘young’ constables are not that young. If we go according to age, Cheuk Hei and Fung will be the youngest among them. They kept teasing Siu Wan who got married in September. She was thankful that she was not required to be sent to Yunnan to shoot the scenery but the guys lamented that she had missed so much fun as they practically enjoyed it.

The lowest was 27% but the highest was 37%. It was voted for best drama and "My Favourite Male Character Role". Ng Cheuk Hei was nominted for his Lang Ling Hei role but he did not get to win. It came as a surprise to me as I thought Lam Fung should be nominated for Mou Qing as he did better.

Conclusion

My top favourite is still ATV’s The Four Constables in 1984. Although the story is also stretchy to make Mou Qing look too vulnerable to be overly dependent on others, the cast complements with polished acting. Wai Kok is at his best - being very scholarly like and brings out Mou Qing's love-hate feelings towards Yiu Far well.

His fees must be also the most hard-earned among all actors as it includes several crawling scenes on the ground when Mou Qing is detached from his wheelchair. The smooth delivery of emotions between Wai Kok and Dong Piew as Mou Qing and Ching Ngor as they project the master-disciple relationship warmly.

Dong Piew is the best Ching Ngor that I have seen so far – with authority but yet fatherly. Even its sequel ‘Return of the four constables’ surpasses 'The Four' as the actresses also did an excellent job in acting to match up with the actors although the story is equally undesirable.

As an avid reader of Mr Wen’s novels, I have wished that scriptwriters can follow his plot. Sadly, none will do it so far. Storywise, this version is hardly authetic. Although not as bad as to make Mr Wen vomit blood, it definitely deviates far from the original to include so many redundant roles. Why do the constables suddenly have so many ‘relatives’ when they are supposed to be orphans?

It is like ‘Jin Tian Yi’ in the periodic era. Luckily, the killers are formed within 3 episodes. This periodic drama arranges as many deaths as the producers like. The suspects die one after another so it is not tough to guess the ending. However, it is good that they don’t drag the story for too long.

TVB has should not have used so many female newcomers. How can TVB be so lacking of capable actresses these days? This move is too risky. Only one – See Wan stands out. I can accept TVB to create their own story since it has a strong cast of male actors. But how can they just include unknown actresses or actresses who can’t act?!

It really brings down the level to make it look so cheap. I nearly pound my chest when they don’t ‘reciprocate’ the four’s affections with their horrendous acting. Luckily, the producer knows that the viewers are going to grumble over this to make sure that they don’t end up with the four to make all of us happy.

The only merit lies with the four – we are fortunate to have them. Otherwise, this will be a low rated production. Top credits must be given to Fung. He is the one who holds the drama on firm ground. This is undoubtedly his one man show as he seizes the glamour from the others.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : ***1/2 (Scale of 5) ( for the actors’ sake. How I wish the actresses can do better.)

On story : *** (Scale of 5)

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


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