To Love with No Regrets


Reviewed by: koolkat

May 30, 2009

Rating: four

The Plot

Amy Kwok is Kam Yuk, who is rescued by the kindly owner of a soya sauce factory (Felix Lok) from being sold into a brothel as a child. She becomes the child bride of Tau, played by Bosco Wong, who's the son of the factory owner. She's little more than a maid to the child, as she literally raises him. Tau is a spoilt brat and when his father dies, instead of helping in the soya sauce factory, he's always playing truant in his lessons and causes a lot of trouble for the family. However, his grandmother protects him and Kam Yuk has to pull him out of his scrapes. She persuades an idealistic teacher, Mak Sau Sing (Evergreen Mak) to teach him but Tau tricks Mak into selling himself to the family to pay off the debt of his friend, Sor Koo (Wayne Lai).

Both Sor Koo and Mak are drafted into the family's servant ranks and when Mak finds out from his mother that his father was killed by Tau's father, he and Sor Koo cause mischief in the household and eventually trick Tau into handing over the family's business. They are then thrown out of their family home, including Kam Yuk. However, Mak in in love with Kam Yuk and he finds a home for them secretly. When he thinks that she has gone to Kuala Lumpur (portrayed as a scary place filled with cannibals) to work and earn money, he even jumps into the sea to swim towards the boat. So all his friends tease him about his feelings for her.

However, both Tau and Mak have a common enemy, Cheng Sin (Power Chan), who returns to town after being chased out by the family earlier. He's taken up with the soya sauce factory's rival, Ding Fung, to force Mak out of business. Tau wants to save his father's legacy so they develop their own unique sauce with Kam Yuk's help. Eventually Mak discovers the truth about his father's death, he and Tau reconcile but he still has to jump through many hoops before he has his happily ever after with Kam Yuk. Tau meanwhile agrees to release Kam Yuk as he gets together with Tung Mui (Chan Hoi Yee) who was formerly a maid with his family but discovers she's Mak's sister.

Comment

This is a gem of a serial. There's nothing spectacular about it, just a simple and heartwarming story told against a backdrop of change in China's history. It offers a fascinating glimpse into a way of life that has disappeared, the role of women, indentured servants in a household and the custom of taking a child bride. It doesn't descend into melodrama or tragedy to sustain the story.

Amy Kwok holds the show together with her down-to-earth portrayal of Kam Yuk. It was touching to watch her developing relationship with Evergreen Mak, as they progressed from friendship to anger and finally love and forgiveness. This is the thinnest I've seen Evergreen Mak. He's a versatile actor, since he seems to be able to act romantic, bumbling or evil with ease. It's a shame that he doesn't get more major roles like this one. Even though she's married to Bosco, both of them fall in love with each other and they portray their conflict and yearning realistically.

Annie Man is funny as the evil and greedy second sister, who desperately wants to get married and steals her family's money even when they are down and out. Her romance with Wayne Lai is a bit underdeveloped and unrealistic, since it's hard to understand why she'd accept a loser like him even though he stands by her at the end. They don't have much chemistry together, which is understanble since their getting together is rushed towards the end, unlike Evergreen Mak and Amy Kwok, whose relationship grows throughout the show. Wayne's performance is solid but unexciting as the disgusting, nose-picking companion of Evergreen Mak.

Sherming Yiu also does a decent job as the older sister who has to return to the maternal home after the death of her husband. She's watchable but doesn't stand out and it's understandable why she doesn't really get major roles. The same goes for Power Chan, he is a competent but unexciting actor. Their romance is a bit boring and melodramatic.

Bosco Wong however is a disappointment. This may be his first major role but in all the other shows I've watched, I don't think he's improved from his performance here. He alternately overacts or is terribly boring. As the spoilt and immature Tau, it was hard to tell whether he was mentally challenged or just plain silly. And he suddenly became reformed and mature with no transition. His knowledge about the soya sauce business was also unexpected and unrealistic since he'd never shown any interest in the business and always played truant when he was supposed to be at his lessons. That was the one sticking point in the show. It would have been more realistic if it was Amy Kwok who came up with the knowledge to help Evergreen Mak fend off Power Chan's takeover of the company. Bosco's romance with Chan Hoi Yee may have more appeal for younger audiences, they were very childish. She understandably outshines him in many ways, as she's sweet without trying to act overly cute and young.

One other minor sticking point, I simply didn't understand why Evergreen's mother needed to have a huge mole on her forehead or why Bosco had to have that ridiculous tuft of hair, even after he was married and a father.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this show for its simple and heartwarming story. It's not for those who enjoy a lot of action but it has plenty to offer fans of historical drama.


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