The Greatness of a Hero


Reviewed by: sukting

June 16, 2012

Rating: three-point-five

How long
20 episodes

Foreword
This is the first drama that I watched before it was shown in Hong Kong in April 2012 as it was shown in Singapore in March. Dik was a legendary chancellor in China's history. He served as chancellor during the Tang Dynasty and Zhou Dynasty and was greatly trusted by Empress Wu.

The Empress's nephew, Mou Sheng Ji, was jealous tried to frame him. He accused him and Sung Ting Yuk of treason in order to usurp the Empress's throne. Will Dik be able to make a comeback after he loses everything?

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Empress Wu – Chan Sau Chu
She is capable and wise but she isn't close to her son to be harsh and strict with him.
She wants to train him hard to be her successor but she also secretly hopes that her successor can be one of her nephews to continue her regime. Sau Chu has the commanding air and acts well. I have always thought that only Fung Bo Bo is the suitable candidate but now Sau Chu also proves that her acting has also scaled to greater heights.

2. Dik Yan Kit – Cheng Zak See
He is a talented and kind official. All respect him and he isn't afraid of authority to speak his own mind. He knows that Sheng Ji is eyeing the throne so he persuades Hin to return to the palace to protect Tang dynasty. He considers for his subjects and also his family before he does anything.

He is very observant and looks into minor details. He loves Yuet deeply and takes care of her even though she poses danger of infecting him too. Although he is concerned about Ching Lyun, he wants her to learn from her mistakes. Even though he is being demoted, he is still allowed to speak up in court and Empress Wu still seeks his advice. Cheng's speech pace is fast and although his expressions are few, you can feel his emotions which are so different from his usual dramas.

3. Cho Yuet – Kwok Sin Nei
She is ditched by her first husband after she is raped by bandits. Yan Kit feels sorry for her when looking into her case and marries her as his second wife. She dotes on his children like her own. She is very forgiving and kind. Thus, all are close to her. She has inherited her skills of making ornaments and Empress Wu likes the hairpins and necklaces she designs for her.

She is also looked down upon by her parents even though she has remarried. Her stepmother has never liked her and keeps her letters from her father. But after she helps to save her half-brother, she repents and apologises to her.

She gives up her life for her family and Yan Kit seeks redress for her to get Empress to confer her a title after her death. Sin Nei struggles with beginning scenes of Yuet but she acts well in the scene where she has to be separated from her son due to her illness. They really look like mother and son together.

4. Dik Kwong Yuen – Ko Kwan Hin
He is Yan Kit's elder son who often gives up doing anything midway – even in learning martial arts or reading. Yan Kit has no choice but to make him work as a constable. He only wants a simple life and has no ambition. He slowly likes the job and works hard. I think he looks better in modern wear. He looks very ill at ease here.

5. Dik Ching Lyun – Liu Bik Yee
She is the lieutenant and is a rank higher than Ting Yuk after teaching the court ladies martial arts. She is poor in needlework or cooking and isn't demure. Yan Kit has to teach her how to be calm and not reckless as she doesn't consider the consequences. Sometimes, he can only shake his head as she blurts out too fast and is too direct to offend the Mous without evidence.

She has not inherited his genes and he has to watch out for her in court. He even has to teach her how to cook! She slowly falls for Ting Yuk but hides her feelings from him to help him to woo Yuen Yee. When Yuen Yee doesn't appreciate, she speaks up for him.

Still, she manages to win him over in the end. Quite a refreshing change from her usual roles but I find her not that good looking in traditional costume as her face is too broad although her dancing scenes are remarkable. It is funny to see her and Kum Hung together as the scenes are very hilarious as Ching Lyun finally meets her match who is higher skilled than her.

6. Dik King Fai – Ng Nok Hung
He is the youngest in the family and is Yuet's son. Sensible, wise, calm and kind – sometimes, you feel that he is more like the elder son. Yan Kit considers him as his successor to groom him but he is too young. So he pins all his hopes on Ting Yuk since Kwong Yuen isn't ambitious.

7. On Lau Mui – Lee Heung Kum
She is Yan Kit's mother who is very conservative and also wise to read Yan Kit's mind. She accepts Yuet into the family and treats her well. She spoils all her grandchildren but luckily, they do not turn to brats. She is often at loggerheads with Suk Ngor.

8. Song Ting Yuk – Chan Kum Hung
He is Ching Lyun's fiancé. He is calm in solving cases and is highly skilled. He has liked Yuen Yee who helps him to become a captain as she doesn't look down on his upbringing. It is mean of him to get Ching Lyun to help him woo Yuen Yee.

But she doesn't love him so he transfers his attention to Ching Lyun after going through thick and thin with her. Seeing her always landing up in trouble, he is always beside her. A pity that he is assassinated and dies before their wedding. Also another brilliant switch from his usual boring roles to provide some comic relief.

9. Cheung Suk Ngor – Chu Mi Mi
She is named the flying moth and is a bandit in the past. Now, she opens a gambling den and a brotherl. Her courtesans work for her willingly and Ting Yuk gets along very well with them. She brings up her son on her own and is dismayed that he becomes an official. Since she can't talk his mind out of it, she has to help him in solving cases. She is proud when he becomes famous. She is killed by the Mous.

10. Song Cheung Kwai – Lau Kong
He is the housekeeper and checks the accounts. He is glad when his son, Yat Fu admits to his crime of killing Yuet's ex-husband when she is accused of killing him when he extorts her. It starts when the man wants to rape Yat Fu's woman, Far Hou. He dies of illness when he is relieved that Yat Fu knows why he opposes him to be with another woman in the past as the woman is materialistic. He is glad that Far Hou is a good woman this time.

11. Mou Sheng Ji/Ngai Wong – Lai Yiu Cheung
He is Empress Wu's nephew and is Sam See's elder cousin. He eyes the throne all along and looks for all kinds of ways to get rid of Yan Kit. Their feud gets worse when Yin Ming loses his life due to Yat Kit. So he finds all ways to frame him. That includes smuggling of herbs supposedly used to treat the sick villagers and later to claim credit for himself but this is foiled by Ting Yuk. He has regarded his career above everything but falls for Yuen Yee when he is drunk. He drinks the poisonous wine when his scheme is exposed.

12. Mou Sam See/Leung Wong – Lee Tin Cheung
He is Sheng Ji's younger cousin. He hides his ambitious nature from his cousin by pretending to be the side fiddle and bears the blame on the herb smuggling case for him. Sheng Ji knows that he is scheming and often wary of him although he helps him to get his title back later. After their scheme is exposed, he is banished to the borders.

13. Ngan Sui Wan – Lui San
She is Sheng Ji's wife who helps to harm Yan Kit's family after losing Yin Ming. She is shattered to know that Sheng Ji intends to keep Yuen Yee as his concubine. Thus, she gets Empress Wu to stop this and also encourages Yin Tak to woo Yuen Yee. Her dream comes true when the two are engaged. Sheng Ji poisons her so she gets mad and kills her to remove this obstacle.

14. Mou Yin Ming – Wong Cheung Hing
He is Sheng Ji's son who is a general. He seduces Concubine Chun and she is pregnant with his child. She refuses to abort and even wants to elope with him. During their argument, he pushes her and she dies after knocking into a pillar. He makes it look like suicide but too bad Yan Kit discovers this and he is executed. Sheng Ji wants him to lift his head high when being killed. Yin Ming entrusts Yin Tak to take care of their parents. That adds on to the feud of the families.

15. Mou Yin Tak – Wong Kar Lok
He is Yin Ming's younger brother and is a major. He holds a lower post but doesn't mind it. He knows that he can't match his brother in wits and bravery. He falls for Yuen Yee and protects her wherever she goes. He later turns as evil as his father but later has the conscience to disclose his scheme upon knowing the cause of his mother's death.

He has no choice but to do this as Sheng Ji and Sam See are after his life. Although he helps Yan Kit, he feels guilty. Thus, he drinks the poison wine with Sheng Ji so that he will not be lonely on his way. Sad but I must say that he hasn't improved much in his acting all these years. No wonder his scenes are fewer than the rest.

16. Lee Hin – Cho Wing Lam
He is Empress Wu's son but is dethroned as he often sides with Concubine Wai. They are both sent to stay in another province for 10 years. Empress Wu is heartbroken to know that he is killed in a fire. In reality, he is still alive and prefers to keep his identity a secret even though he helps to cure the villagers in Yan Kit's province – that also includes the ailing Yuet. He likes being a commoner and is very scared of his ruthless mother. He is well versed in medicine.

But since Sheng Ji knows of his plight too, he has no choice but to return to the palace. He frowns when seeing that Empress Wu still doesn't trust him that much. Knowing that he is in the power struggle again, he is more careful this time. He works hard and improves himself to negotiate with the Mongol king so he becomes the emperor again. Wing Lam's acting improves this time. Perhaps due to the fact of acting with the powerhouses?

17. Sheung Gun Yuen Yee – Tong Ning
She is Empress Wu's trusted advisor and helps her in court affairs. Empress Wu treats her more like a daughter than a loyal subject. She is very pretty and wise. She rejects Ting Yuk after knowing his affections for her and pushes Yin Tak as an excuse. She is scared of learning martial arts after being forced to learn it by her father and hurts her hand. Thus, she makes excuses not to go for Ching Lyun's practices. She can't help feeling jealous when Ching Lyun gets Empress Wu's praises and attention.

Even the Mongol king loves her to want to marry her but Yan Kit and Sheng Ji help her to fend him off. She later falls for Yin Tak and is willing to learn again. She is influenced by Sheng Ji to think that Yan Kit causes her family's death. After realizing the truth and Dik family is indeed framed, she sets the facts right.
Tong Ning is pretty as Yuen Yee but seems too weak at times in scenes of being cruel to the Dik family. She looks fine throughout except for scenes when she needs to don the court official robe. It doesn't suit her at all.

18. Cheung Dong Chi – Kwong Zou Fai
He is also a loyal subject and helps Yan Kit repeatedly even though he is in dire straits.

19. Concubine Wai – Yiu Kar Nei
She is the only concubine that Hin loves. She is remorseful over Hin's death and tries to kill herself when she is back in the palace. He might not have died in the fire if they are not in exile due to her. She stops when knowing that he is still alive. Empress Wu doesn't like her all along as she is too ambitious to get all her relatives to be court officials with Hin's help. She is grateful to Yan Kit so she helps him at times to deal with Yin Tak.

She is sick of Concubine Chor's tactics against her so she plots that Concubine Chor tries to use sorcery to harm Empress Wu. She later becomes the queen. Kar Nei offers convincing acting as the supposedly weak but also wicked person at times to protect her position.

20. Concubine Chor – Chu Wai Mun
She is pleased that Concubine Chun is dead so she can just wait for Hin's return. She is jealous when Hin keeps on showering all his attention on Concubine Wai. Thus, she pretends to be ill to lure him. She then plots sorcery to harm Concubine Wai. Unknown to her, Concubine Wai has bribed her maid so she forges every action that she makes to pretend to be in pain.

Concubine Wai then gets her maid to plant a puppet with needles in her room, accusing her of trying to harm Empress Wu. Empress Wu then orders her to be hung in prison. Poor Wai Mun to get either evil roles all the time but this is the best evil role she gets so far.

21. Concubine Chun – Yip Chui Chui
She is Yin Ming's lover and tries hard to hide the pregnancy timing, claiming it to be 3 months but it is already 4 months. Yan Kit feels her pulse and notices the difference as her pulse is strong. She wants to elope with Yin Ming as she doesn't want an abortion but gets killed instead. Chui Chui hardly improves in her acting. Is that why this role is sentenced to death so soon?

22. Cheng Ping – Lee Lai Lai
She is Yuen Yee's mother who works as a gardener to plant flowers for Empress Wu. Unlike Yuen Yee who is faithful to Empress Wu, she bears a grudge against her as she hates her for killing her father-in-law and husband.

Both are killed for rebelling so unlike Yuen Yee who is trying to pay amends for them, she wants to kill her. She places poisonous powder on the flowers and Empress Wu gets poisoned indeed. All search high and low for the suspect but Yan Kit gathers that it is her by checking the flowers. He notices that the bees do not get close to the flowers.

She mistakens Yan Kit for killing her family. Yan Kit has nothing to do with this as he is not even in court then to sign the petition against the men. Yuen Yee only learns the truth from Empress Wu much longer later. Thus, she presses Ching Lyun's sword into her chest. Yuen Yee then thinks that Ching Lyun kills her mother and bears a grudge towards the Diks from now on. However, Empress Wu is forgiving towards Yuen Yee to allow her to continue to work for her in court.

23. Mongol King – Wong Chi Hin
He sets his eyes on Yuen Yee and he spars with Yin Tak to win him. He is annoyed when Sheng Ji tricks him to lose (I shall leave fans to watch themselves to find out. This scene shows how witty and crafty Sheng Ji is to get him to drink wine.

The king suffers from indigestion as he is too used to drink horse milk. As for Yan Kit, he gets the king to guess a word but he gets it wrong.) He will never forget this humiliation but accepts Empress Wu's gifts quietly. He stages war after he returns to Mongolia. He only stops when he admires Ting Yuk's talents. Both become sworn brothers.

24. Yeung Kar Hei – Cheung Chung Chi
He is Yuet's ex-husband and divorces her after she is raped by bandits. He is initially rich but later becomes poor. Yuet pities him to give him money but this greedy man asks for more to cause her to be mistaken by her mother-in-law. He only spends her money away and Yan Kit has to reprimand him. Matters turn worse when Yuet is wronged for killing him by Sam See.

25. Far Hou – Lam Suk Mun
She is only a singer in the brotherl but men often set eyes on her to want to take advantage of her. She is nearly raped by Kar Hei but luckily Yat Fu saves her. She later becomes a filial daughter-in-law to Cheung Kwai.

Interesting facts

This series was warehoused and was released overseas from 2009-Feb-09 to 2009-Mar-06. That was why we could watch it first before Hong Kong viewers watched it over TVBJ. Cheng had always worked with minor works before this drama. He said in a magazine interview that he got along well with Yiu Cheung. All knew that Tak Wah acted as this role in a moive but did anyone know that Ou Yeung Chun Wah also acted as him before in a China drama too?

He liked his professionalism before his win. He was happy for him after he won the best television actor award twice. But in other newspaper reports, it was said that Cheng was unhappy that Yiu Cheung threw his weight around to change the lines after winning his best actor award. Wonder how true this story was?
Yiu Cheung often acted as kind roles and this was a rare evil role for him.

He was very thrilled as there was a bigger challenge involved. To him, it was easier to play an evil role as a kind role could be dull. It was good to act as a historical character as many would be familiar with the story. But they are not acting in a real historical drama so he would not give himself too much pressure.

He would not think that Sheng Ji's evil nature was groundless. He was just working for his family's empire while Yat Kit believed that the Tang regime should continue. Yiu Cheung was grateful to Cheng for being a good opponent. He described Cheng had substance so he could never be shaken in the drama or in reality.

He never had a ‘son' as old as Cheung Hing in a drama. He liked the part where Sheng Ji wanted him to die honourably. He was a man of steel to want his son to die honourably and so many quarrelling scenes with Yan Kit. He treasured this precious chance.

Kum Hung often got goodie roles so this was the first time he acted as a gallant man. Ting Yuk never suspects Yan Kit and follows his bidding. He treated this role as the royal Chin Chiu. He had many fighting scenes and Bik Yee was equally as tense as him. He praised her for acting better in later parts. He regarded his scenes with Mi Mi as comic relief sessions as he could make himself more relaxed instead of getting too serious.

He enjoyed watching scenes of Yiu Cheung and Cheng. But...he as the bodyguard could only observe to stand aside with no interruption. He had learned a lot from Cheng – this was the second drama since they worked from the 96 drama ‘Yau Fai Yan Jong Shing Kuen Shuk' . Cheng admitted that he watched lots of American dramas to learn their fashion to use their modern way to read the lines faster. Kam Hung then reprised his method to act in Curse of the royal harem.

Sin Nei was pressurized to act as a wife and mother of a 8 year old son and stepmother to adults. She did not have experience and had no feel initially to feel lost. Now, she is married and is the mother of a baby girl, she had the feeling but it came too late. She was very grateful to Cheng for helping her. The producer Leung also gave her lots of suggestions as he could also notice that she did not know how to act in the beginning.

Before shooting, Cheng also read her parts to teach her how to do to show her the direction so that she could act with ease. She found Yuet a tragic role – especially on the death scene. Although this scene was not shot with Cheng, she consulted his advice and her tears did not stop flowing after the director shouted cut. She had never tried crying along the whole street and she remembered it till now. She hoped the audience would like it too.

Sin Nei and Kar Nei were pregnant while promoting this drama in Apr 2012. They joked that the drama took a long time to be shown in Hong Kong. Both shared tips while others prepared chairs for them to rest. This was Sin Nei's first child and her daughter was born in Jun while Kar Nei's baby boy was born in July 2012.

Cheng was not upset that The Greatness of Hero is broadcasting 3 years later. Kent expressed the series was scheduled to release 3 times before, but eventually got taken out. He believed as long as audience acknowledge the series, the efforts put into production would not be wasted. He anticipates for good results, good ratings and is personally going to strongly aid in promotions.

Sin Nei wasn't worried over the rating too as it was well received overseas. She only wanted to do her job well. The rating was from 32 to 36 points. The feedback was good but some complained that the Mongolia battle scenes were copied from Genghis Khan to find this unacceptable. Sure indeed, the director admitted cutting the scenes from there to cut cost.

Most favourite character
Ting Yuk. He is not ashamed of his background and is steadfast to know what he wants.

Most hated character
Sheng Ji. He is selfish and cruel. Nothing matters to him than the throne.

Song
It is sung by Cheung King Hin. I find his voice too soft and unable to fit into the strong story.

Conclusion
This is definitely one of the better dramas that I have watched so far. It has been long since I follow a drama so faithfully. The actresses are very stunningly beautiful. As ex-beauty queens, they have the beauty and you can see that they take pains to learn how to be act as concubines. It is a pity that they seem too skinny as Tang beauties are known to be fleshy.

It has a good storyline and the two lead actors, Cheng and Yiu are splendid in showing how the enemies try to cut each other's throats by finding faults. They do not let you down in any aspect. It is a joy to see the two pitting their acting skills. One is humble while another is arrogant and sarcastic. The two actors also inspire the rest to give in their best so you find them special too.

It also includes mystery cases to be solved besides palace power struggles. I only dislike the final segment as the atmosphere turns from comical to tragic as too many deaths occur. Ting Yuk's death comes across too abruptly – I have deemed it unnecessary. I strongly recommend this drama to TVB fans – this is a drama not to be missed and you will not regret watching it.

Sukting's ratings :

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

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

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


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