Where the Legend Begins

Reviewed by: hkopinions

December 31, 2007

Rating: three

Lac Than (Vietnamese Title)

Ada Choi as Yun Fok
Moses Chan as Cao Pi (eldest brother)
Steven Ma as Cao Zhi (third brother)
Sonjia Kwok as Kwok Huen
Lau Don as Cao Cao
Cheng Chi Seng as Sima Yi
Evergreen Mak as Cao ? (second brother)

Ada Choi is cast as Yun Fok. She was supposed to be the goddess of Lok River but because of her beauty, two gods fought over her. She was then punished to live on earth as a mortal. Yun Fok is a beautiful and very intelligent woman. Ada rescues Sonjia Kwok from an abusive life as a slave and later they become sworn sisters. In the past, Ada had rescued Cao Cao (Lau Don) because he suffers from terrible headaches. He falls in love with her beauty and reminds his family of her beauty. Cao Cao's youngest son, Cao Zhi (Steven Ma), wants to see Ada's beauty for himself and leaves to find her. He falls in love with her and promises to protect her.

Meanwhile, Cao Pi (Moses Chan), the eldest brother, is angered because he believes beautiful women corrupt men. Moses sacks the city Ada is in and is about to kill her too, when he sees her beauty and stops. Ada and her family is taken in by Cao Cao and become honored guests. At first, Cao Cao's wife hates Ada but later learns to love her. As time progresses, Cao Cao's power grows and soon his family is the contending family to the throne. Cao Cao wants to protect his favorite son, Steven, and asks Ada to marry Moses because he knows that Moses will kill Steven for Ada. Ada reluctantly agrees because she loves Steven. The three brothers all must get married. Steven marries his cousin, Moses marries Ada, and Evergreen marries Ada's sister in law. Meanwhile, Sonjia is plagued by jealously and tricks Moses into sleeping with her.

Soon Sonjia becomes Moses second wife. Sima Yi (Cheng Chi Sing) is Moses advisor and he is very cunning. With the help of Cheng Chi Sing and Sonjia, Moses eliminates all contenders to the throne and his made heir. Sonjia poisons Moses and Moses pushes the pregnant Ada. Ada goes into labor. Steven is worried about Ada and stays with her even though his wife is also in labor. Ada and Steven's wife gives birth to sons. He later kills his second brother, Evergreen, and tries many times to kill Steven. Moses forces Steven to write a poem but since Ada married Moses, Steven had lost all his inspiration and creativity. Luckily, Ada comes through for Steven and he completes the task. Moses becomes emperor and establishes the Wei dynasty. Ada is made empress.

Cheng Chi Seng and Sonjia constantly spread rumors about Ada and Moses believes that their son his really Steven's. Ada is poisoned and Moses learns that he was tricked. Ada dies. Years pass and Ada's son becomes emperor and he learns of his mother's death. He punishes the people who had harmed his mother. By this time, Steven has tired of politics and his life. He warns his nephew of Cheng Chi Sing. As Steven is walking near a river, he sees Ada in a boat. Steven smiles and walks into the river to meet Ada. The series ends with the death of all major characters.

Ada Choi
Ada did an okay job as Yun Fok. The character of Yun Fok was too perfect and this just made the series boring. The script was long and drags on and on. The poetry was very complicated and I didn't understand a word. There were too many references of Ada's beauty and intelligence.

Steven Ma
Steven did a very good job as Cao Zhi. I felt very sorry for him and Ada. They had great chemistry. Steven had a rough life and loses everyone he loves. I felt sorry that his wife dies and he finds out that she loved him very much.

Moses Chan
Well, I just didn't like his acting. I'm not a fan of Moses and his performance was just weird. He had no chemistry with Ada. I think it is his face, because he shows very little expression. He can only act angry but not happy or sad. Moses just didn't seem like a good choice for Cao Pi.

Lau Don
TVB altered the script a lot. I am disappointed on how TVB portrayed Cao Cao. In the series, Cao Cao was a family man and helped the people. I just don't see how that reflects history since Cao Cao was know as the "devil." However, Lau Dan did a good job as Cao Cao. He has the evil and sly look that fits the character of Cao Cao.

Sonjia Kwok
Hmmm. Her acting still hasn't improved. Sonjia did a horrible job in "A Step into the Past" but it must be this current series that she beats herself at being the worst. I just didn't see any character development. She plays a jealous and evil girl who wants to take power away from her sworn sister. I guess Sonjia likes to steal other people's man. In "A Step into the Past", Sonjia steals Louis Koo's heart away from Jessica Hsuan's. Louis ends up marrying both. In this one, Sonjia tricks Moses to sleep with her and tells Ada that she is pregnant so she can become second wife. At least in this series, Sonjia plays an evil part and so I can criticize her more.

Best supporting actor:
Gilbert Lam as Yang Suo

Best supporting actress:
? as Steven's wife

Best villain portrayal:
Cheng Chi Seng as Sima Yi

Worst character portrayal:
Sonjia Kwok as Kwok Huen

Costumes, scenery, and music:
This series received a lot of funding by TVB. The costumes in this series were great. They were very detailed and the characters changed their clothes very often. Most of the scenes took place inside. There was a lot of talking so not too many types of scenery were used. I didn't really like the theme song by Steven Ma. I find it too sad. I like the sub theme better sung by Steven Ma and Rain Lee.

The story:
At first I liked the story but then it just got to boring. The poetry and conversation between characters were very difficult to understand. Many words had double meanings so the plot was difficult to understand. Cao Cao's character wasn't portrayed as in history and so he wasn't too much a villain. The character of Yun Fok was in fact too perfect. I just didn't see the need for the numerous times her beauty and intelligence was mentioned.

A little history:
This series takes place during the time of the Three Kingdoms Era. The decline of the Han dynasty led to political control by rivaling families, most were not of royal blood. In 190 AD, General Liu captured the city of Loyang and executed the royal family. He then installed his son has emperor. In the series, the emperor was weak and had no military power. During his rule, warlords rose and took most of the emperor's power. The most powerful warlord was Ts'ao Ts'ao or Cao Cao (played by Lau Don). Cao Cao won successive wars and became the protector of the Han dynasty. He suppressed the Yellow Turban rebellion and had all power over the military. In the series, Cao Cao was considered a "family man."

However, this representation of Cao Cao was very far from who he really was. Cao Cao was a ruthless man. He was cunning and was spoken like he was the devil. TVB wanted to give Cao Cao a lighter role and so didn't make him as ruthless. As Cao Cao became the highest power in China, his family was the only people contending for the throne. At his death in 220, Cao Pi, the eldest son, cunningly and ruthless forced the Liu emperor to abdicate. Cao Pi then crowned himself emperor and established the Wei dynasty. At this time, Cao Pi only controlled Northern China. China was divided into three kingdoms: Wei, Wu, and Shu Han. By 280, all of China came into the hands of the Cao family. Although there were some records of the Cao Pi's wife, Yun Fok, history only mentions of her beauty.

TVB gave Yun Fok a larger role and made her a goddess and righteous woman. I don't know much about Cao Pi's reign or his family so I can't give you the history of Yun Fok. The Empress of Wei did in fact exist but I don't know if she was Yun Fok or not. Another character that is adopted is Yang Suo played by Gilbert Lam. Yang Suo, also known as Kuan Yu, was a strong and very loyal warrior. In the series, Gilbert was poetic and loyal. He was one of the few men who didn't fall in love with Ada but respected her because of her beauty and intelligence. The character of Kuan Yu dies in 219, but is later remembered as China's god of war.

Watch it or forget it:
It is an okay series. If you understand a lot of poetry then you should watch it. If you are looking for a love story with a happy ending, don't watch this. Where the Legend Begins is mainly about politics, heart breaks, corrupted officials, and poetry.

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