War and Destiny

Reviewed by: juphelia

April 06, 2009

Rating: three-point-five

The story was set in pre-war (late 1930s) to war torn Nanking. Being a history buff, I'm normally interested in shows like that, but somehow, no show of this genre can ever beat "The Bund" (also about the same era, perhaps a bit earlier).

Anyway, this show is about the family of a rice merchant (Lau Dan) in Nanking. He had 3 wives (one passed away), and Ping Yee's (Myolie Wu) mum happened to be his lover at one time, but was chased out of the house by the first wife.

About twenty (or thereabouts) years later, Ping Yee brought her dying mother back to Nanjing in order to reunite with her father (the rice merchant), together with her childhood friend Hau Yee (Ron Ng). Initially, the first wife stopped all attempts for the mother and daughter to contact the father, but later on, Lau Dan found out and gave a proper burial to Ping Yee's mother and took her into his house, together with Hau Yee.

The rice merchant recently married a new young wife (Leila Tong), who was about the same age as Ping Yee. She was an educated lady (of those times) who graduated from high school, but due to her brother's gambling debts, she was sold off as a concubine to the rice merchant. She was smart enough to know when the first wife was trying to make her hard to conceive.

Hau Yee saved her from a collapsing pillar when the Japanese bombed Nanjing, and they developed feelings for each other, but had to hide their feelings. Shortly after, war broke out in Nanjing and the whole family had to flee. The third wife (Halina Tam) stole some of the treasures of the family and fled with her autistic son, but lost him along the way.

The rest of the family had to flee with their prized possessions, but along the way, they had to give up everything in order to keep their lives intact. An old servant then led them to the outskirts of the village where he used to live. Along the way, they lost Hau Yee who fell from a cliff while trying to save one of them (I can't remember which one).

In their now humble abode, they survived by growing vegetables. It was throughout these hard times that the whole family really grew together - first wife and her elder daughter became less pampered and helped everyone out by working together. She even willingly delivered Leila Tong's child, and congratulated her husband on having another son!

Hau Yee meanwhile was saved and ended up helping out a church mission, treating those injured in the way. It was there that he met Sunny Chan, who on the surface was a traitor, but was actually part of some underground resistant movement to fight against the war. Through some circumstances, Sunny Chan got to know Ping Yee and she was then reunited with Hau Yee.

Along the way, Ping Yee started staying with Sunny Chan as he did her a favour. Then feelings developed between the two of them. At first she liked Hau Yee but later on heard a confession between him and Leila Tong about their feelings for each other. She later fell for Sunny Chan.

Hau Yee also discovered he was the son of a Japanese General Matsuda (can't remember if that's his actual name), so he tried to help Nanjing using his influence as the son of the Japanese general. However, his friend died while helping Sunny Chan against the Japanese. Sunny Chan had to shoot him to get him out of his suffering, but all Hau Yee witnessed was Sunny Chan shooting his friend and jumped to the conclusion that Sunny Chan indeed was a traitor.

The highlight of the show was around the end, when Sunny Chan challenged Matsuda. The plane crashed along the way, and it was heard that Matsuda died, but there was no news of Sunny Chan. Years later, with the efforts of Ping Yee and her family, the rice shop was re-opened. Leila Tong married Hau Yee and lived with him together with her son. It was inferred from the very end that Sunny Chan came back and Ping Yee met him at the swing they used to go to.

For a war show, it was not too bad. There were almost true events as in the Japanese bombing of Nanjing, and the underground resistance of the Japanese. However, the storyline itself was just mediocre, not too outstanding. The case too was just mediocre, although Myolie Wu did a great job as the heroic martyr, but Ron Ng seemed expressionless throughout.

Still, it is pretty refreshing from other war shows since in most shows of that era, the venue was centred on Shanghai, and this time it was centred on Nanjing where there was a massive Japanese massacre in the past. But it was not as intense as other war dramas as the suffering of the people were not played out thoroughly, I did not have the sad feeling when I watched the show unlike other war dramas. Thus only 3 and half stars.

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