Four Lads from Beijing


Reviewed by: sukting

June 07, 2009

Rating: four

How long
53 episodes

Foreword

This drama shot many to stardom. Many of them became the powerhouses of the 90s drama era. Do you wish to find out why? It is a story on how four brothers of a rich official, Tong Yu Guan are separated. This is due to a Tian He jade which is separated into 4 parts which they each hold. The first three are brought up by different people. Can they be reunited later as their parents hope to find them through it?

Story/Cast

1. Gu Ren Jie/Tong Yu Xian – Liu De Kai
He is the eldest son and is brought up by Qing San. He returns to China from overseas. Having receiving western education, he cuts off his pig tail. He loves Yu Tong but doesn’t get to marry her. He has an unhappy marriage with Jin Yun just to find evidence of her father’s crime.
When he learns that he has addressed the wrong father, it is too late for him as he can’t bring himself to haul him to justice. He suffers from headaches and ignores it. It turns out to be so serious that he becomes blind. Yu Tong takes care of him from then on.

You don’t have to doubt his acting. Unlike other Taiwanese actors, his portrayal is very down-to-earth. That is why he is still so popular even till this day. Moreover, he has on screen charisma with all his co-stars.

2. Du Li Han/Tong Yu Ru – Wu Shao Gang
He is the second son who is very scholar-like. He is brought by a bandit and Xiao Tian’s sidekick, Du Kui who opens a beancurd shop. He falls for Xiao Cai. He is poor but always finds chances to visit the brothel because of her. Xiao Cai loves him too but she is too eager to seek revenge. Their names Han and Xue depict cold so it is destined that they can’t be together. He is upset but accepts his fate. He joins the revolutionary camp to attempt to overthrow the Qing court. He takes care of Xiao Cai with Tie Dan.

I dislike this character. He takes so long to decide what to do. If not for Yu Tong to persuade him, he might not know how to move on with life without Xiao Cai when she marries her enemy.

3. Tie Dan/Tong Yu Xiao – Zhang Chen Guang
He is the third son and also the foster son of Aunt Jiu. He is very direct and daring. He loves helping others and grows up with Xiao Cai. He is still filial to Aunt Jiu even after knowing his real family. He is shattered when Xiao Cai becomes mad and takes care of her all his life. Brilliant acting from this actor who is able to strike a balance of being cheeky or serious. Every scene with him comes alive.

4. Tong Yu Guan – Tang Zhi Wei
He is the fourth son who is the only one who isn’t separated from his parents. Being grown up in a rich family, he has never suffered. Still, he is very innocent and kind. He falls for Ya Er and is annoyed that she only likes Tie Dan. But his efforts paid off when he manages to move her. This actor is a comedian to create laughs continuously.

5. Yin Xiao Cai/Huo Xiao Xue – Yu Xiao Fan
The jade also ruins Xiao Cai’s life. Her father, Huo Gang is a general from the Muslim Tribe. He is framed for rebelling against the Qing dynasty and his whole family is wiped out. Luckily, she is saved by her nanny who brings her up. She is the sole survivor to escape when she is only a month old.

Xiao Xue vows to revenge for her family and creates another identity, Xiao Cai to become a courtesan. But she only sells he skills and not her body. She is famous for her beauty and dances. This makes two brothers fall for her. Although she is moved by them, she decides that revenge is more important.

She marries Yang Zhong and attempts to kill him after their wedding. She is dressed in her Muslim dress and tries to kill him with a dagger. However, he has prepared a huge bell to defend himself. The bell ends up hitting her head and she becomes retarded. Tie Dan takes her away and prevents her from being killed. From then on, she doesn’t recognize anyone but two men who love her deeply are with her all the time.

She is a born natural to cry freely but yet she possesses a strong quality as the firm Xiao Cai. She is stunning in all the dance gowns. She is even more eye-catching in the Muslim dress. Who is so blind not to let her act in ‘The Book And The Sword’ as Princess Heung Heung?! Her beauty can’t be hidden and that is why 4 men fall for her.

6. Ye Yu Tong – Wang Yu Ling
She is a priest’s daughter who is deeply in love with Ren Jie. He has donated money to build her school but Qing San burns the school. But their love is unaccepted as her father dislikes Qing San. They part but are together again after he breaks up with Jin Yun. She is also convincing in her acting but unfortunately, she passed away due to a plane crash.

7. Gu Qing San – Jin Cao Qun
His real name is Hu Xiao Tian and he is a bandit. Official Tong is a good friend of General Huo but he is forced to carry out the killings under the court’s command. On his way home to the imperial city, he is amused by Hu and his men. The commotion causes him to be separated from his sons. Qing San uses his riches to open a bank and a pawnshop.

He not only sets to reap profits from working with Yang Zhong. He also breaks up Yu Tong and Ren Jie so that he can have more dealings with Yang Zhong. He kills himself when his identity is revealed. Who can expect Justice Bao to be so evil? But he is really in his best in here.

8. Aunt Jiu – Fang Fang
She owns the Bai Hua brothel but is very kind to the courtesans to treat them as her daughters. She will not force them to receive customers against their will. That is why they respect her and are also willing to work for her. She treats Tie Dan as her own child too. I have known of her to be a comedian but she acts well as the self-sacrificing but loud person here.

9. Liu Ya Er – Huan Huan
Her father opens an escort agency so she knows sufferings of life. She likes to play with Tie Dan and slowly loves him. She disapproves of Yu Guan to be so pampered. Unfortunately, Tie Dan’s heart stays with Xiao Cai so she chooses Yu Guan.

10. Mo Niang – Zeng Ya Jun
She is Xiao Xue’s nanny who hasn’t forgotten her revenge. She tells Xiao Xue the truth so that she will remember her identity. Although she brings Xiao Cai to the brothel as she has no choice, she has protected her well and teaches her martial arts at night so that they can seek out their enemy. The ex-Heung Kwan in ‘Reincarnated II’ has grown old so much. This shows how people change over the years.

11. De Jin Yun – Zhang Shi Han
She is Yang Zhong’s daughter who is spoiled since young. But she is kindhearted so she agrees to a divorce as she knows that Ren Jie doesn’t love her.

12. De Yang Zhong – Lei Ming
He is the corrupted official who causes the death of the Huo clan. He eyes their fortune. General Huo passes the jade to him, wishing him to give to the court. He gives away to Official Tong so that Xiao Cai will seek revenge on him. He knows that Qing San also likes Xiao Cai so he goes a step ahead to marry her before him. Due to Xiao Cai and the four guys’ persistence, they finally seek out the truth.

Most favourite character
A tie between Ren Jie and Tie Dan. It is hard to choose between the two as they put others over themselves and are caring to their lovers. Just like how to decide who is better in acting as both are equally good.

Most hated character
Also a tie between Yang Zhong and Xiao Tian. Both men can do anything to achieve their ambition.

Songs

Both songs are classics. The theme song is the famous 《潇洒走一回》by Yip Sin Mun. The ending theme is 《心痛》by Wang Chieh. Both are excellent songs that all know and should keep among their collection. They were instant hits when the drama was shown and were the top of the music chart. Nice songs are hard to come by these days.

Interesting facts

A new version from China on the same drama came up in 2004. Duan Qiu Xu, Nie Yuan, Chang Cheng and Li Xin act as the four brothers. Hong Yan is Yin Xiao Cai. Liu Xiao Qing is as Aunt Jiu and Zhao Kui Er is as Mo Niang. Shen Jun Yi is Gu Qing San and Ma Chung Le is De Yang Zhong. But it seems that not many remember it as the old version is too successful.

Liu De Kai and Zhang Chen Guang competed in the Golden Bell Television Awards for the best actor award. Zhang emerged as the winner. If I was the judge, I would get them to share the award as they are equally terrific in their acting.

Conclusion

Everything is fated. The four brothers stay in Beijing so they will get chances to meet each other. The world is a small one. Their lives are interwined as they either love the same woman or there is a conflict of interest. It is also a period when instability is there. Many try to swim against the tide. Some are engulfed while others remain afloat.

The actors are fine in their acting. The love hate relationships are portrayed in detail. The complicated love triangles or rectangles are very moving. Only the Taiwanese can show such high standard to inject the love-hate emotions well. Moreover, the actresses are excellent criers to become very pathetic. Few Hong Kong dramas then can do that as they normally rush through the plots.

It isn’t shot in Beijing but it has the background in the appropriate place. The way they behave belong to the era. I never know that Taiwan can have such appropriate props to fool the viewers. Secrets can’t be kept forever. In the case of the villains here, their actions have changed the destiny of others and they also seal their own fate when their past catches up with them.

I used to shun away from Taiwanese dramas in the early 90s as there were too many Qiong Yao productions that are unbearable. This drama captured my interest immediately. The story line is unique and the cast is perfect. They give in their best and all can hear their clear voices without having to look at the subtitles. This is lacking in many present Taiwanese artistes as they mumble the lines to themselves.

I strongly recommend this drama for those who like historic stories. This drama provides a lot of insight and excellent acting that will make you sit through the 53 hours without difficulty. It is undoubtedly an excellent classic masterpiece in Taiwanese drama history.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : **** (Scale of 5)

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

On songs : ***** (Scale of 5) ( I stress once again – both songs are a must to keep!)


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