Period of Time


Reviewed by: sukting

May 24, 2004

Rating: four

风云时代

How long
30 episodes

Foreword
This is the only Taiwanese serial that Lai Ming has ever starred in. Many have marvelled how fluent his Mandarin was in ‘The Breaking Point‘ when Ching Long was in Taiwan. But how many have the chance to hear him speak Mandarin from the beginning to the end in a serial? His voice wasn’t dubbed, unlike other Hong Kong artistes. I was lucky to catch this serial on television before I watched the TVB drama.

It tells the story of how an unknown strives hard to achieve success to become a famous figure. It relates the brotherly love, friendship, kinship and also love in great depth. However, when it was shot, Lai Ming was not attracting the media. Who would have expected within a year’s time that he would become so famous? Now it is so difficult to get him to star in a television drama again.

Wish to see how he works and dresses smartly? Do head for the video shops! However, I am afraid many Lai Ming fans may be disappointed for not getting it because I don’t see it on tapes or vcds in Singapore. I am also puzzled because it is really a great drama and should not be missed. Sorry for the long synopsis below, just for the information for those who may not be able to get it.

Story

Ren Jie, Jian De and Xiao Mei know each other at the harbour. The two men chase after a thief who robs her. Ren Jie is a shipyard foreman, Jian De an apprentice lawyer and Xiao Mei a reporter. The three become close friends. The guys stay in Shanghai while Xiao Mei is from Hong Kong. Ren Jie has a younger brother, Ren Hao. Ren Hao is very ambitious and sucks up to a rich businessman, Hao Sheng.

Ren Jie dislikes Hao Sheng because his Da Mao shipyard is always at odds with Hao Sheng’s company, Dao Sheng. Ren Hao knows that Hao Sheng looks down on him, so he woos his only daughter, Si Jia. Hao Sheng knows his motives, but Si Jia is too blinded by her love for Ren Hao. Ren Jie disapproves of Ren Hao’s doing and both quarrel. Ren Hao leaves home after finding that he is not getting any advantage from Hao Sheng and Mrs Pan feels that she has lost a son.

Ren Jie happens to rescue Cui Fen from a brothel and lets her stay at home. She likes him but he doesn’t know it. He is interested in Xiao Mei and vice versa. However, after knowing that she is the granddaughter of businessman Fu Gui, he tries to avoid her.

Jian De comes to the shipyard to look for Ren Jie. Ren Jie feels that they are from two different worlds and Jian De should not be close to him. Jian De tells him about his orphan status. He doesn’t know why he feels close to Ren Jie. Maybe it is really fate at first sight. Ren Jie likes Xiao Mei but knows they are not compatible. So he decides to match Jian De with her. Feeling sorry over Jian De’s past, both become sworn brothers. The following is a very warm scene to show their closeness.

Both go for a wine celebration. Both are a little tipsy after it. Jian De recites a poem – ‘you must toast when you drink, you must drink afer you toast, tonight we are joyful, I will never forget Elder brother Jie’s kindness’. Ren Jie smiles and both hook their elbows together, pretending to drink again. After this, he hugs Ren Jie. He thanks Ren Jie for accepting him and he is really overjoyed over it.

Ren Jie is touched and also hugs him tightly. He assures Jian De that he will always be his good brother. They meet Cui Fen on the way back. Cui Fen is also moved and reminds them to return. Suddenly, a drug trafficker arrives with his men and wants Ren Jie to smuggle opium for him.

Ren Jie rejects him and they seriously injure him. Jian De and Cui Fen send him to hospital. He wants Jian De to keep it from Xiao Mei. After his discharge, he brings Jian De home and informs Mrs Pan about their relationship. Jian De addresses her as ‘godmother’ and she is overjoyed to get another son. Mrs Pan secretly wants to match Ren Jie together with Cui Fen, but without success.

Jian De is on holiday while Ren Jie is going to Hong Kong to get more deals for Da Mao. Both decide to visit Hong Kong together. You will laugh on how desperate Jian De is to get Xiao Mei’s address and contact number. He tails her poor friend everywhere, even outside the female toilet! She has no choice but to give in to him.

Jian De asks Xiao Mei out but Ren Jie refuses to go with him to meet her. Jian De finds out from her that Ren Hao is now working in Fu Gui’s company. Jian De tells her about Ren Jie’s recent injury and he sees that she gets uptight. She is relieved that he is all right now.

Jian De asks her how she feels for them. She admits that both are good friends but she likes Ren Jie better. Jian De asks her to give him a chance. She notices something amiss – did Ren Jie ask him to come and see her? Jian De has to admit that they came together. They return to the hotel and discovers that Ren Jie has suddenly developed a high fever as he hasn’t fully recovered from his injury.

They send him to hospital. The scene is very memorable. With Huang Ying Ying’s song in the background, it is simply perfect. Ren Jie is unconscious and Xiao Mei anxiously touches his forehead repeatedly. Jian De is tormented upon seeing this and leaves the room. The three of them meet at the same time and yet this happens. He decides to return to Shanghai alone.

Ren Jie is discharged and decides to leave with him. They should come and go together. Jian De reprimands his wishful thinking. He hasn’t considered their feelings and he is giving Xiao Mei away like a present. Ren Jie tells Xiao Mei not to see him again since he has Cui Fen. She is heartbroken.

Ren Jie sees the trafficker and both fight. He is then charged for assault. Ren Hao witnesses the fight, but refuses to help. He only has a visitor pass to work and doesn’t wish to get into trouble. Jian De asks a Queen’s counsel but they need $500 as bail. Fu Gui refuses to help although he is a JP. He knows that Xiao Mei is naïve and he just knows Jian De. How can he help a person whom he doesn’t know?

Fu Gui helps Ren Jie after Xiao Mei’s persuasion but Ren is released. He is puzzled when Jian De only comes when he is informed about it. He sees Ren Hao and grabs his hand. Why is he hiding since he is here? Jian De is sarcastic – why bother to come only when Ren Jie is okay? Ren Hao says that he has been there daily just to find out how Ren Jie is. He is not as inhuman as they think.

Ren Jie tells Xiao Mei not to send them off. He assures Jian De that the love relationship will not affect their brotherhood. Jian De packs their clothes and sees that Ren Jie still keeps Xiao Mei’s sketch. He secretly informs Xiao Mei. Ren Jie is angry over it and steps into the train alone. Xiao Mei tells Jian De what Ren Jie has told her.

He laughs as Ren Jie only rescued Cui Fen. How can they fall in love within such a short time? He will never lie to her. She is overjoyed and wants to buy a train ticket but it is too late. The trafficker finds fault with Ren Jie when he returns to Shanghai and abducts him. Jian De hurries to get the cops and Cui Fen is shot while trying to protect Ren Jie. Xiao Mei comes to stay with her friend but the house is burnt. Ren Jie passes money to Jian De to give to Xiao Mei. Ren Jie is distressed to see both leaving quietly.

Xiao Mei has to stay with Fu Gui. Hao Sheng is angry that Bao Zhong brings Da Mao’s file away. He wants to buy Da Mao shipyard. Ren Jie is engaged to Cui Fen but all can see that he is unhappy as he is only pleasing his mother. He drinks so much that he goes to bed with Cui Fen. Feeling bad, he agrees to be responsible for her. Ou recommends Jian De to Hao Sheng.

Hao Sheng doesn’t understand himself. He is normally harsh and stern to others but he softens to him. Jian De advises Hao Sheng not to rush things and Bao Zhong sneers at Jian De for being stupid. Hao Sheng tells Bao Zhong to shut up. He is not blaming Jian De as he only wants an explanation from him. He is impressed with Jian De’s suggestion to observe Da Mao’s credibility. He has checked that Da Mao isn’t doing well but is well reputed and highly respected. He gives his proposal and within 6 months, they should be able to see red. Within 3 years, they can get profits.

Hao Sheng asks where to get the money. He reminds him to mortgage his streamer get the loan from the bank. Hao Sheng tells him about his past with Fu Gui. 20 years ago, they were business partners. They become enemies because of money. Bao Zhong is supposed to be on the ship and it explodes although it is not in the danger zone. All die except Bao Zhong. Hao Sheng suspects that he caused the destruction. They should press charges against Ren Hao for defamation in spreading the news.

Xiao Mei is nearly kidnapped but she refuses bodyguards. She doesn’t want to worry Ren Jie and wants Jian De to keep it from him. Da Mao’s boss is sick and entrusts Ren Jie to take care of it. Ren Jie wants Jian De to be their legal consultant but he tells him that they have no money to pay him. He agrees to help. Ren Jie decides to use welfare funds first and later repay workers with interest later to let the shipyard work.

Jian De envies him for running a top shipyard at such a young age. Ren Jie only hopes to keep it going. Jian De only hopes that no one becomes like Ren Hao to humiliate Hao Sheng in public. Hao Sheng has requested him to see Si Jia but he refuses. Jian De finds out that he is the one who makes up the shipwreck story and this chills his heart. Cui Fen is disappointed in Ren Jie and leaves home. She is caught by the same hooligans again and Jian De has to put her up at his home.

Ren Jie’s bad impression of Hao Sheng changes when Hao Sheng takes over the shipyard from his boss. His boss has not wished to sell it to him but he is in poor health. Ren Jie finds that he is getting more deals than before and the workers have more drive to work.

Later Hao Sheng passes Da Mao’s account book to Jian De. Hao Sheng owns 50% of it now but wants to buy the whole of it. He wants to find out its potential. Jian De is impressed that he plans so far ahead. He will learn more from him. Jian De finds that Bao Zhong has misappropriated the company funds. He gives him days to fix the problem, otherwise he will take action.

Hao Sheng tells Jian De to be Si Jia’s dance partner at a ball. He admires them on the dance floor, hoping that they will become lovers. Ren Hao comes to create a scene – at first Jian De is wooing Xiao Mei and now Si Jia. Hao Sheng is angry and retorts that Jian De is 10 times better than him. Si Jia is upset that he doesn’t understand her and leaves. Jian De finds him too much and leaves too.

After consideration, Jian De wants to resign. Hao Sheng offers to settle for him, but he declines. Hao Sheng insists on using only Jian De and not other lawyers as he believes that only Jian De can help him. Jian De finds the situation too complicated but Ou insists on giving a few days off to let him think over.

Jian De goes out with Xiao Mei and Xiao Mei wants to take pictures with her camera. This scene is warm when they take pictures of each other. He even playfully displays the v-signal with his finger when she is taking a photograph of the lake to make her smile. But unfortunately he chooses to put on his shades! When he returns to the law firm, Hao Sheng is there, telling him that he has settled everything for him. Jian De is touched and decides to continue working for him.

Bao Zhong manages to find an agent to sell his land to Hao Sheng. Jian De finds the price too cheap. Who is the owner? What is previously used for? What if they can’t build anything on it after buying? Hao Sheng has not thought of that and invites him to check the title deed together. Jian De agrees that Bao Zhong should get his commission but he hopes that he will put the money back soon. That will save trouble for all of us. Lai Ming looks unusually cool in the white windbreaker here.

The owner wishes to breach the contract. Jian De advises him not to as they will sue him. He confesses that the loan sharks threaten him not to sell it to them. Jian De suggests looking for their illegal dealings. He only uses force as a last resort. Xiao Mei comes to show him the pictures and he is delighted. He wants to keep some of them. She sees women clothes and is happy that he has a girlfriend.

He shyly denies as Xiao Mei is the only girl who can get along with him. She jokes that if so, how can he be wearing the clothes? He has a headache when she wants to know her but he quickly states that he really has no girlfriend. Hao Sheng is worried when Jian De wants to look for the loansharks alone. He wants to send some men to protect him but he refuses.

They wish to harm him but Jian De tells them that he has already get his colleagues to get hold of the master copy of the documents that show their illegal deals. They will send them to court if he isn’t back. Seeing that the boss is a reasonable man, He wants a personal favour. He sees the hooligan who tries to sell Cui Fen to the brothel and wants to beat him.

When he returns with a bruise, Hao Sheng is shocked. He wants to get them for it but Jian De says that he asks for the beating. He feels great now and Hao Sheng is amused. Unfortunately, he has no luck to get him as a son-in-law. Si Jia and Jian De are embarrassed by his remark.

Jian De tells Ren Jie not to let Xiao Mei down again. Ren Jie wants him to promise to help him in Da Mao to keep it going. Jian De agrees. Both frown when Fu Gui manages to purchase the other 50% of the shares. Unlike Hao Sheng who has foresight in developing the shipyard and looking after the staff’s interests, Fu Gui is only concerned for his personal profits and both worry.

Ren Jie overhears that someone is going to kill Fu Gui and Xiao Mei. He rushes there to stop them, but gets killed. Before dying, he asks Xiao Mei whether she wants to marry him. She tearfully agrees. But alas it is still too late. Ren Jie turns to Jian De and smiles weakly in joy that Xiao Mei has finally agreed to marry him. Jian De nods his head in grief.

Fu Gui and Jian De are equally upset. Jian De is so enraged that he even beats up the killers when they are captured. Jian De sees Ren Hao closing his eyes and he feels the sorrow. Upon realizing that Ren Jie isn’t moving, Xiao Mei holds his face towards her and tells him again that they can get married after his recovery since she agrees to his proposal. Lai Ming’s song is played at this time. It is so sad to see Xiao Mei hugging him tightly and refuses to let him go.

Ren Hao vows to kill Ren Jie’s killers. He and Jian De console Mrs Pan. They pay respects at his grave. Although Xiao Mei is more upset, she consoles Cui Fen first. Cui Fen decides to leave for Malaysia to forget about the past, but stays upon knowing that she is pregnant with Ren Jie’s child. Many children laugh at her for being an unwed mother. Jian De explains that it is pitiful for the unborn to be fatherless. The children feel ashamed of themselves.

Bao Zhong loses a lot of money. Although Hao Sheng dislikes Ren Hao, he has to agree that he is a good working partner as he gets most clients for Da Mao. He wants Jian De to run his business as a consultant. Jian De declines as he is not a qualified lawyer as yet. Hao Sheng decides to talk to Ou.

Mrs Pan wishes to change the curtains and sprains her leg. Seeing that Ren Hao doesn’t stay with the women, Jian De offers to stay with them to take care of them. All these years he is staying alone, he longs for home cooked food and family warmth. The two women are overjoyed to do it for him.

Ren Hao pretends to discuss business with Jian De. Upon seeing him to tend to a phone call, he quickly goes through Fu Gui’s will that Fu Gui entrusts him. He later tries to get Bao Zhong to steal it from the safe. Fu Gui happens to see this and tries to stop them. He ends up being seriously injured. He has to walk with a walking stick after this. Believing that Ren Hao is a nice man, he urges Xiao Mei to accept him. Ren Hao pretends to be upset in front of Xiao Mei when he frames Si Jia for seeing another man. Xiao Mei consoles him. Jian De buys a doll and also a drum for the unborn baby. He also gives Cui Fen vitamin pills to have a healthy baby.

He jokes that he is not nice to her but nice to the baby. But he is too shy to let her wash his dirty laundry and thrusts them under the bed. He lies to her that there isn’t any but he frowns over the smell when she leaves. (You must watch it yourself because it is really very funny.)

The next day, he finds clean clothes on the bed. Cui Fen asks him if they are clean enough. She can smell the stink from the living room so she cleans them! Jian De is so embarrassed that his face turns red. Cui Fen goes out to buy wool to knit a sweater for Mrs Pan. Later, someone informs them that Cui Fen is being knocked down by a car. She and the baby are dead.

Jian De feels miserable seeing her bloodstained shoe. Later, he is shocked to see Cui Fen standing still in front of him. She has worn the same shoes to give him a shock. Mrs Pan tries to persuade Cui Fen to remarry Jian De. She refuses as she still thinks of Ren Jie. Jian De feels sad for her too.

Hao Sheng and Fu Gui quarrel over business. Hao Sheng is in a foul mood. Si Jia has threatened to starve herself if he intervenes into their relationship. Jian De helps Cui Fen to massage her leg when she has a leg cramp.

Jian De tries to tell Ren Hao not to strain Hao Sheng’s relationship with him. Ren Hao is sarcastic – now Jian De is looking after 2 women and how can he be caring other matters. Jian De nearly bursts and warns him to leave Cui Fen out of this. Mrs Pan scolds Ren Hao as Jian De is more filial than him. She decides to disown him upon seeing him so defiant.

Ren Hao knows Bao Zhong causes Ren Jie’s death and vows to kill him when he has no more value in front of Ren Jie’s grave. Mrs Pan comes with Jian De and sees him there. He avoids them and Jian De wonders whether anything matters to him more than fame and fortune.

Dao Sheng has to bear the losses of the shipwreck. Jian De says that Hao Sheng should fight for his business instead of competing with Ren Hao. Hao Sheng says that he has a trump card to secure a business deal with his wife’s relative. But he died and his widow, Qian Zhi comes. He is so displeased to see his ex-lover, who ditched him when he was poor.

Mrs Hao falls ill after taking care of Si Jia. Later, she dies in a car accident. Si Jia is overjoyed to have Ren Hao’s baby. Ren Hao tells Bao Zhong to cause an abortion. However, he places too much of the rodent poison and she dies. Hao Sheng is very upset to lose the two women he loves most in his life and gets drunk daily. He even wants to sell his his Da Mao shares away and retires early.

Qian Zhi is Mrs Pan’s sworn sister and comes to visit her. They mention of her son who is at the orphanage but can’t find him there. Jian De then decides to approach her to buy the shares. She decides to think over. Jian De feels that his staying is going to ruin Cui Fen’s reputation so he decides to move out. Cui Fen tries to stop him and is suddenly in labour.

Jian De has no choice but to deliver with his own hands. The neighbours start ugly rumouors about him, of course. Thus he still decides to move out – not just for himself but he is also afraid of how Cui Fen is going to face them in future. The rumours only stop when Jian De manages to stop the neighbour’s young son from burning the house with matches. Mrs Pan wants to find a godparent for Xiao Jie since he is premature to help him grow up. Jian De replies that he can take over this identity since he brought him into this world.

While bringing him out for a walk with Cui Fen, he gets to meet Xiao Yun on the way. Xiao Yun is his childhood friend at the orphanage. She is at first disappointed to think that they are a family. She is relieved to know that he is still single. Jian De decides to hire her to work at the shipyard since she is an experienced accountant. He introduces her to Xiao Mei.

Jian De knows that Xiao Mei has a sweet tooth and adds 3 cubes of sugar into her coffee. Xiao Mei tries to bring them together, reminding him to add sugar for Xiao Yun too. Xiao Yun senses that he likes Xiao Mei and feels lost. Xiao Mei decides to marry Ren Hao. All take the news very hard. Hao Sheng shakes his head – he can foresee what will happen to Xiao Mei. Her ending will be as sad as Si Jia. Seeing both at the altar breaks Jian De’s heart. Hao Sheng, Ah Bao and Xiao Yun try their best to console him.

Mrs Pan is overjoyed over the marriage. She feels bad for Xiao Mei who has suffered so much since Ren Jie’s death. Now she can treat her openly as her daughter-in-law. We get to see the change in Xiao Mei now as she wears cheongsams and ties her hair into a coil to signify that she is married. Fu Gui passes Qing Yuan company to Ren Hao. Later, Fu Gui dies of old age and she is very upset over it.

Qian Zhi finds out that Jian De is her long-lost son. So she buys the shares to let Jian De manage them. She left Hao Sheng after being pregnant with Jian De because she was a bargirl and was afraid that she would ruin his future. For the same reason, she placed the child in an orphanage and sponsored his studies. (Does this remind you of The Unwritten Law by Lau Tak Wah and Yip Tak Han? She gets married to a rich Malaysian businessman and only returns recently.

The following is exactly the same. Qian Zhi kills someone who knows her relationship with Jian De and also her past. Hao Sheng knows of the case and the truth of her leaving him. So he wants Jian De to represent her in court but keeps the truth from him. However, Ren Hao reveals the truth in court and Jian De’s license is revoked for 6 months. Jian De doesn’t blame Qian Zhi but is worried for her. Qian Zhi kills herself in prison and Jian De mourns her death in grief. Hao Sheng helps with the funeral arrangements.

Jian De nearly has an outburst when Ren Hao comes to pay respects at Qian Zhi’s wake. Ren Hao is only there to humiliate him in front of others. Xiao Mei pulls Ren Hao away after Hao Sheng scolds him. The others try hard to console Jian De. Mrs Pan feels guilty for causing her death indirectly but Jian De takes it calmly. Hao Sheng reads Qian Zhi’s letter which requests him to take care of Jian De.

He reveals the truth of his relationship with Jian De. He is at first afraid that Jian De might not accept him. He is so glad that he hasn't married Si Jia after all otherwise both will create incest. And no wonder they can hit off well as both have affinity with each other. He is coping hard with the loss of Si Jia. Never does he expect to get another son to replace her. He is delighted to have him. Jian De is very forgiving as he longs for family love all along and hugs him in tears. He also moves in to stay with him.

Jian De asks Xiao Mei out to warn her about Ren Hao. Ren Hao sees them together and accuses him of meeting his wife even in mourning. He insults him for being a bargirl’s illegitimate son. Jian De can control his anger no more and hits him on the face. He has wanted to do that all along. Ren Hao suddenly pulls out a gun so Xiao Mei protects Jian De to leave.

Hao Sheng asks Jian De to quit his lawyer job to help him at his firm. Ou tells him the same too but being a lawyer is his dream so he is not going to give up. Ah Bao finds it tough to get along with Jian De, who is so educated. Later, he admires his ability to run Da Mao and becomes his close aide.

Mr Chen wants to step down from the chairman post of the businessmen council. Ren Hao bribes other members with VIP cards to please them to vote for him to be the next chairman. Hao Sheng gets Jian De to join the council too as a board director with his wealth. Regardless of young or old members, the person is entitled to run for chairmanship. Hao Sheng gets Jian De to contest for the seat, with support from his friends. He wants to seek revenge for Qian Zhi. Jian De loses by 1 vote.

Hao Sheng consoles him that he has the chance in the future since they don’t use underhand means. Jian De is still sore to lose to a despicable man. Ren Hao has approached one of his friends to help him in his debts. However, he feels guilty upon seeing how upset Jian De is over the defeat. He apologises to him and he is glad that he is forgiving.

Jian De praises Xiao Yun for being a good secretary. He must now establish rapport with reporters. He checks on Qing Yuan company's clients. During an interview with a reporter, a man charges in and says bad things about him. The reporter leaves when Jian De is about to show the evidence of him being framed. Jian De is angry with Ren Hao for bribing the man to ruin his image.

Jian De buys a necklace for Xiao Yun to thank her for helping him. Xiao Yun is later disappointed that their romantic evening is ruined. Xiao Mei informs him that Ren Hao is holding a conference at home to deframe him further. They rush there and Jian De confronts him. Ren Hao accuses Jian De of maligning him but Xiao Mei reveals that she has seen him bribing the witness.

Jian De is accepted to be a member of the reputable Lions International Club. He thanks Mr Chen for the recommendation. Normally the membership is only granted to the cream of the business world. Even Ren Hao doesn’t qualify so he wins this round! Jian De wants to bring Xiao Yun to treat Mr Chen to dinner. Ah Bao comes then to invite both to celebrate his birthday.

Jian De feels bad for not being able to join him but wants Xiao Yun to celebrate with him and charge the cost to his account. Suddenly, Ah Bao is admitted to hospital for a stomachache just after drinking 2 glasses of Mao Tai. Xiao Yun doesn’t have enough money with her so she contacts Jian De. The doctor diagnoses him to have alcohol poisoning and both are shocked.

Jian De knows that Ah Bao holds his liquor well. Even 2 bottles of Mao Tai will not make him drunk thus the liquor is questionable. Both return to the restaurant and discover that they have not seen the label in the market. He warns the owner that he will be in trouble if he bootlegs. Someone sells the wine cheap and it is from Tai Shan distillery. Jian De tells the owner to withdraw all from the shelf while he sends them to the lab for further tests. He decides to check it out.

Ren Hao’s henchman, Mao Zhong Qiang is the mastermind. The results show that the content is over the legal limit. Xiao Yun suggests Jian De to get help from their childhood friend, Xiao Tian to help him out. Knowing that he might lose out in fighting and Ah Bao is unable to fight, Xiao Tian will do a good job. Both destroy every bottle. They go to Ren Hao’s house but can’t find Mao there.

Qiang tells Jian De to meet him, but he is killed before Jian De’s arrival. Inspector Luo arrests Jian De upon seeing him with the dead body. Bao Zhong is the killer. Jian De is calm to explain that he has injured his right hand with Mao earlier in the distillery. How can he kill now? (Praise this man for being cool despite being placed in such an unfavourable situation.) Ou comes to clear the air too but Luo still quarrels with Jian De.

Jian De can’t sleep after being detained for so long. He is still not giving up and wants to check on Ren Hao. Xiao Mei becomes the chairwoman of Qing Yuan because she is wary of Ren Hao. She wants to look through the accounts. Soon, she finds that she has poor memory and can’t remember well. She even wears shoes of different colours to work. Ren Hao keeps her at home and hires a new maid, Mai, to look after her.

Jian De notices that she is unwell. Bao Zhong sells jewellery. Jian De suspects the source. Hao Sheng’s friends are angry with Ren Hao for issuing bounced cheques and want to sue him. Jian De is their legal consultant and takes on the task. He makes it into a joint case. He wonders where the money has gone. Ren Hao gets Mai to give Xiao Mei a lot of sleeping pills to keep her at home. Even Mrs Pan and Cui Fen are disallowed to visit her. They bring soup to Jian De after selling silverware for a lot of money.

Jian De smells a fish. Xiao Yun dresses beautifully to attend a cocktail party with Jian De. Jian De jokes that he never notices how pretty she looks. She is elated when he says that she will be the centre of attraction. They attend Bao Zhong’s company’s opening. Jian De remembers seeing a distraught Bao Zhong when he was in jail but now he is a boss. Bao Zhong says that he is equally lucky to get Qian Zhi’s inheritance too. Jian De smiles and says nothing.

Xiao Tian gives Jian De more evidence. Jian De is taken aback – why are they suing Xiao Mei, Ren Hao’s wife and not him? Xiao Tian shows him that all cheques are signed by Xiao Mei so she has to answer for it. Jian De wishes to withdraw from the case. Ou tells him that a good lawyer keeps personal feelings from work. This is his first case so everyone is waiting to see how he performs.

Jian De doesn’t know what to do. He demands to see Xiao Mei and scolds Ren Hao. Ren Hao lies that she is on a tour. Xiao Yun consoles him upon seeing him so unhappy. Jian De tells the court that he needs a week to collect the evidence. Cui Fen informs Jian De that Xiao Mei sounds different on the phone. He then realizes that Xiao Mei is still in Shanghai.

Jian De sneaks into Ren Hao’s home out of desperation and finds Xiao Mei. She hugs hm and cries. She wants to know why no one visits her when she is sick. Both then conclude that Ren Hao wants to cut her from the world. She is shocked that she is being set up, but Jian De promises to help her. He sneaks into Ren Hao’s office and discovers that all Qing Yuan’s funds are transferred to Jin Ying company.

Jian De refuses to send Xiao Mei to jail. Hao Sheng recalls Si Jia telling him that Jian De tried courting Xiao Mei and he observes that he hasn’t gotten over her.

Jian De knows no one understands his feelings for her – not even Xiao Mei herself. Hao Sheng doesn’t wish him to be emotionally entangled. Jin Ying is Bao Zhong’s company. Jian De goes to sound him out, without avail. Jian De is afraid that Xiao Mei may be poisoned further so he buys food for her and asks her to pretend that she is still sick in front of Ren Hao.

Her condition improves and she sneaks out of home. Jian De wants to sue Ren Hao for restricting her freedom, but she declines. He wants to settle her debts by selling Qian Zhi’s jewellery. Hao Sheng is enraged and reluctantly uses his money to help for Jian De’s sake. But he wants Jian De to stop seeing Xiao Mei to see more of Xiao Yun.

Jian De tells Xiao Yun that he is withdrawing $800,000. She demands to know why and Jian De doesn’t know how to tell her. Hao Sheng comes and praises her for being the best financial controller. He is the one who needs the money so Xiao Yun gives in to him and the case is dropped. Xiao Mei decides to ask for a divorce while Jian De’s friend resigns as Ren Hao’s legal advisor. Xiao Mei moves out but doesn’t wish Mrs Pan to know it. So Jian De puts her in Xiao Yun’s home.

Jian De comes to celebrate the first day of her new life. She assures him that she is not depressed anymore and urges him to marry Xiao Yun. He replies that it is too early to think of marriage as his main concern is her. She refuses to take his money for her daily expenses. Xiao Yun is unhappy to see him caring so much for Xiao Mei. Xiao Mei gets a reporter job.

Xiao Mei publishes a negative report on Ren Hao after getting evidence on his doings. Jian De is concerned that he might seek revenge on her and warns her to be careful. She isn’t afraid. Jian De reminds Bao Zhong how Qiang is silenced but Bao Zhong is killed by Ren Hao. Before dying, he confesses that he killed Qiang and Si Jia under Ren Hao’s instructions. He and his men tried to steal the safe and Fu Gui was hurt in the process. Xiao Mei is upset to know that she has married a monster.

Jin Ying company gets silverware to smuggle to Japan for its mint. This will endanger the economy and now the authorities are looking into it. Ren Hao’s funds are frozen. Ren Hao wants Jian De to buy Da Mao shares. Jian De is sarcastic this time – I really love this part! He says that he is used to competing fairly and isn’t used to this management of owning the shipyard alone. He doesn’t feel good changing the system!

Ren Hao tells him to quit acting. Owning it is his and Hao Sheng’s dream. Why does he reject it? Jian De replies that the more unreachable it is, the more he wishes to get it. But once he gets hold of it so easily, it no longer becomes attractive. He should understand how he feels for Da Mao. Ren Hao begs him to buy the shares. Jian De wants him to quote a price. He asks for $500,000 in cash the next day.

Jian De smiles haughtily and closes his lighter after lighting a cigarette. Now Ren Hao begs him and yet he tells him what to do? Ren Hao is sincere to cut $100,000. Jian De still finds the price steep and only wants to give $350,000. He admits that he is really taking advantage – Ren Hao can take it or leave it. Ren Hao has no choice but to give in. Jian De tells the women the news happily. Xiao Mei guesses something goes wrong with the smuggling deal and decides to check it out.

The other directors decide to unseat Ren Hao’s chairman positioning the business council. They want Jian De to take over. Jian De is overjoyed in the double happiness and wants to reorganize Da Mao to make Ren Jie happy. He then buys a ring to propose to Xiao Yun. Xiao Mei resigns from her reporter post. She never expects such a big effect of her report on Ren Hao so she feels remorseful.

She decides to return to Hong Kong and wishes the couple well on their coming marriage. Both are later shocked that she returns to Ren Hao later! Jian De suspects that he is nice to her to make a comeback. Xiao Yun tries on her wedding dress happily and at this time, Xiao Mei tells Jian De to meet her at the harbour. She regrets not listening to Jian De and finds all Ren Hao’s crime documents at home. She gives them to Jian De and he is glad that he can now charge him in court.

Ren Hao suddenly appears and both fight over the documents. Seeing that some are flown away, Xiao Mei rushes to pick them up and is knocked down by a car. Before she dies, she requests the two men to bury her beside Ren Jie. All attend her funeral in tears. Jian De is disappointed to retrieve only half the evidence but hopes that he can still be imprisoned. He knows Xiao Yun is aware of his feelings for Xiao Mei and yet is patient with him. He promises to take good care of her.

Ren Hao suddenly wants to kidnap Jian De. Xiao Yun tells him to leave quickly but she gets abducted. Jian De stays with Ou but he feels like a coward. Ou reminds him not to use violence. Jian De is worried when Xiao Yun isn’t back when he rings home. They rush to the venue to pay the ransom and they are 5 mintues late. Seeing the cigarette butts on the ground, Jian De is disturbed that they have left. Ou complains that they are too impatient. Jian De is scared that they will kill her. But he never expects this to happen – one kidnapper rapes Xiao Yun. In a rage, she kills him with a gun!

She returns alone. Jian De notices that she is pale but she refuses to tell him anything. She suggests calling off the wedding. Both will be miserable after marriage since Jian De has never forgetten his love for Xiao Mei. Jian De is taken aback but respects her decision.

Ren Hao is only jailed for 7 years. Jian De kills him with his gun and gets arrested. Ou is upset over this – why does he do it? Jian De replies that he is miserable over the jury’s decision and decides to prevent Ren Hao from others. He is handcuffed and taken away. What a sad ending!

Introduction on characters

1. Pan Ren Jie – Chin Siu Hou
Jian De and Ah Bao call him ‘Elder brother Jie’. It is not easy to be an elder brother because he shoulders a lot of responsibilities. He is filial to his widowed mother and loyal to friends. Being a foreman in Da Mao shipyard, he receives little education but he works very hard to provide for the family. Ren Hao proves to be a big disappointment so Ren Jie puts all his attention on work. Whatever he does is for the others’ interest.

His love life is in shambles because he dares not love Xiao Mei, who is of a different social class. When he is forced to have an engagement with Cui Fen, he tries very hard to suppress his feelings. After repeated encouragement from Jian De, he finally masters the courage to declare his love, but it is sad that this supposedly happy moment ends in tragedy.

I must complain that this character has too little screen time! I like the moments where he finds Hao Sheng too shrewd for his liking and both often quarrel. But in order to protect his colleagues, he gives in. You will be moved by the way he makes so many sacrifices – for love and for work. I don’t agree with his low self-esteem, though. He is normally dressed in overalls, but when he is in business trips, he looks stunning dashing in a suit minus the tie. Even Jian De teases him for looking knowledgeable in it!

This is one of Chin’s best performances. You will like it as much as I do. Plus he is involved in the fighting scenes on his own. What more can you ask?


2. Pan Ren Hao – Jiang Hou Ren
He is a scum who only dreams of getting rich. He has not loved any woman at all. Si Jia and Xiao Mei are only his stepping stones to greater success. Hao Sheng sees through his motives, so he is smart to divert his attention to Fu Gui instead. He tactfully uses flattery to marry Xiao Mei. Unlike Ren Jie, he is unfeeling towards his own mother and is jealous when she treats Jian De better than him. Many may see him very cold to Ren Jie, leaving him in the lurch when he needs help but I think likewise.

Despite having arguments with him, he is still close to his elder brother. He is unwilling to help him when he is arrested but he is still concerned about him. When Ren Jie is killed, he controls his grief and vows to punish the killers. He also visits Ren Jie’s grave often. And indeed, he later ends Bao Zhong’s life with his own hands.

Jiang is such a bad actor. He has little or no expressions at all. He is only convincing in looking nasty and doesn’t play the ruthless role in depth. It is such a pity as he has so much screen time. I have a feeling that I am looking at a rock. I wonder how he can survive in showbiz for so long?

3. Guo Jian De – Lai Ming
He is an orphan but he doesn’t blame fate. He is knowledgeable, friendly and easy-going. If not, he will not attempt to befriend Ren Jie despite their educational differences. The stubborn Ren Jie is so touched that he accepts him as a sworn brother. Longing for family love, he is glad to be accepted into the Pan family.

He studies hard to be a lawyer. And after being one, he finds that he is dragged into the business world. He manages business unknowingly because he wants to keep his promise to Ren Hao in keeping Da Mao going. Never does he expect to be considered as a talent in business. He also never expects Qian Zhi and Hao Sheng to be his parents, but he accepts his fate. This man has lots of ups and downs in life!

Upon knowing that Ren Hao often harms him and causes his mother’s death, Jian De faces the harsh reality and the dirty tricks of doing business. After Hao Sheng gives him the total control of Da Sheng firm, he is busy managing the two firms. It pains Hao Sheng to see him working so hard. However, he is reluctant to give up his law firm as he believes that law makes the society turn. But the outcome of Ren Hao’s trial makes him lose all his confidence. Why is a villain let off so easily after causing so many deaths? He can’t tolerate the thought of him harming others so he kills him and is not regretful to end up in jail.

He loves Xiao Mei with all his heart, but Xiao Mei doesn’t return his love. This is sad enough but the last straw will be her marrying his No. 1 enemy, Ren Hao. After many unsuccessful tries to talk her out of it, he has to see them in the wedding hall with his own eyes! How tragic this can be! After her failure in marriage, he gives her all the support she needs and even clears her debts. I feel that the sacrifices that he makes don’t lose out to Ren Jie, but he just doesn’t have the luck. He only proposes marriage to Xiao Yun to please Hao Sheng.

Lai Ming is a little raw in his acting, especially in crying scenes. But I love this role more than his other roles. He maintains his innocence and youth that you will not find in anywhere else. He is simply fantastic. You will feel his despair, sorrow, loneliness and joy. Moreover, he dresses and works smart as a lawyer and businessman. With a windbreaker, he looks cold but when he smiles, it seems that he drives the cold away.

4. Hao Sheng – Liang Xiu Sheng
He is a shrewd businessman, but this is due to him building his empire from scratch with his own hands. He becomes Dao Sheng firm owner. He sees through Bao Zhong and Ren Hao thoroughly so both never get high posts in the company. Despite only knowing Jian De for a short while, he admires his capabilities, trusts him and gives him important tasks. He promises to give him the profits once Da Mao earns money.

He cares the two women of his life – his wife and daughter - but both die tragically. Si Jia is his pride and joy and her death deals him a hard blow. Jian De manages to get him back on his feet to deal with Ren Hao. Later he discovers why he feels close to him because he is his son!

His love for Qian Zhi rekindles when he gets to know about Jian De’s parentage. Although he knows that it is illegal, he persuades Jian De to take up the job of being her defence lawyer. He wishes that he can do something to repay her. Both father and son cope hard with the loss after she dies.

He gives Jian De all the support he needs to inherit his business. Knowing that his main interest isn’t there, he still insists as he doesn’t wish his company to fold up and Jian De is really a rare talent. Seeing Jian De so blinded by his love for Xiao Mei, he tries to wake up his senses. He makes sure that he agrees to marry Xiao Yun, hoping that he will forget her. But alas, he still misses her after her death.

Liang is splendid! He has the commanding image as a businessman and it is also evident that he has done a lot of homework to present his airs as a rich man. He is good in projecting the fatherly image too. He can be strict and also soft to Si Jia because she is so immature and gullible. But to Jian De, he gives in to him most of the time as he knows that he is very sensible. I remember him playing many roles in Qiong Yao movies. Although he is plump here, he is still formidable in this role.

5. Cai Bao Zhong
He is a poor victim as he is being made used of. He loves Si Jia, but she loves Ren Hao instead. He then takes it out on Ren Jie because he is Ren Hao’s brother when Hao Sheng takes over Da Mao. Poor Ren Jie has to tolerate all his insults and poor treatment. Hao Sheng treats him badly, so he turns to work with Ren Hao upon seeing him wooing Xiao Mei instead. He has hoped that Si Jia will marry him after the abortion, but the dosage that he places is too great and costs her her life.

He is as upset as Hao Sheng, but is also terrified when Ren Hao threatens him with this every now and then. When he is jailed for the murder, he is at his wits’ end. When he is out, he still works for Ren Hao because Ren Hao promises to make him rich. Never does he know that Ren Hao is already aware that he killed Ren Jie and wants to ruin him completely by asking him to kill others repeatedly. He finally repents in the end before dying in Ren Hao’s hands. This actor acts well as the pitiful underdog.

6. Lawyer Ou
He is Jian De’s teacher and is an experienced lawyer. But it doesn’t seem to me that he is a good one. He should know that Da Mao is complicated before introducing the job to Jian De. How can he dilly-dally when Xiao Yun is in danger? He is a naggy old man who doesn’t appear in court at all and yet has a long string of reasons to tell others off. I wonder what Jian De learns from him.

7. Duan Fu Gui – Lei Ming
He is the owner of Qing Yuan company. He is unreasonable and also stubborn. He is Xiao Mei’s grandfather and her mother is his only daughter. He is at loggerheads with Hao Sheng and he enjoys making him angry and frustrated. He frowns when there is no successor to his business empire and decides that Ren Hao is a good choice. But it proves that he makes a wrong move and ruins Xiao Mei’s happiness.
This actor is so stage-like in his acting. I don’t really like the way he portrays his role.

8. Ah Bao
He is Da Mao’s assistant shipyard foreman. He is very close to Ren Jie and is close to him as a brother. His death hits him hard but he becomes independent in decision making from then on. Jian De recognizes his talents and promotes him to be the foreman. He is capable of getting the workers together.

At first, he doesn’t feel at ease with Jian De, although he treats him well. He feels that their educational gap is too wide and he isn’t that refined. But he learns of Jian De’s past as an orphan and feels sorry for him. He sympathizes with him and both work well as partners. Can you imagine that they become so close that he wishes to celebrate his birthday with Jian De later? This actor gives a satisfactory performance too.

9.Ye Cui Fen - Zhang Fu Mei
Her fate is sad, but she is a gentle and nice person. She comes to Shanghai looking for work, but is nearly sold to the brothel. Later she meets Ren Jie and loves him. But her love isn’t appreciated and she is very depressed. She doesn’t bear a grudge against Xiao Mei because she knows that love can’t be compelled. However, she is strong and braves all odds to bring Xiao Jie into the world. She knows that Jian De cares for her as a kin – like a brother’s wife, so both can’t develop any more relationship from there. They are close as he is the foster father of Xiao Jie.

Zhang proves that she can cry as well as Yu Xiao Fan. I wonder why she isn’t famous. The sorrow that she shows after Ren Jie’s death can be very heartbreaking. However, it seems that she has little affinity with the baby. He cries whenever she carries him. But when Lai Ming carries him, he is so quiet and sleeps soundly! It seems that she doesn’t look like the mother, but he sure looks like the father.

10. Cui Xiao Mei – Su Ming Ming
She is a reporter who is supposedly to be able to tell the evil and good apart. But we will really shake our heads at her poor judgment of people. She makes the wrong choices all the time. I will rather her to be alone or marry to Jian De. Out of so many people, she chooses to marry Ren Hao! I am so fed up with her. She often says hurting words to Jian De. Sometimes, when he cares for her upon seeing that she needs help, she tells him to get lost. Poor man – what has he done to deserve this…..

She is too soft-hearted towards Ren Hao. She always forgives him. That is why he always gets his way after marriage. But you will still pity her as she pays for her mistakes with her life.

Su Ming Ming is good! Her chemistry with Lai Ming and Siu Hou are close to perfection, although she may look older than Lai Ming. You can feel her depression when she loses Ren Jie. But maybe they can do more to her hair – it is too simple with a long fringe with shoulder-length hair. However, I find her stunning in cheongsams after marriage. She looks so pretty and demure with her hair coiled up.

12. Liu Xiao Yun
Jian De knows her as both grew up in the same orphanage. She has liked him all along. No one can tolerate your boyfriend loving another woman. This woman is not magnanimous, but she bears with it because she loves him too much. I really pity her because his heart isn’t with her even though they are together and his face only brightens up upon seeing Xiao Mei.

She doesn’t ask much from Jian De when she works for him. She just wishes to see him daily and help him in his work. There is a scene where Ren Hao tries to frame Jian De by placing heroin in his office. The police come at this time and they make a quick search. She quickly places it behind her. Ah Bao and Jian De are anxious and are relieved when she manages to help them.

They are puzzled that she can still look calm. But once the police leave, she is so relaxed that she drops the whole packet to the floor! She can do anything to protect Jian De, even her life. But after the rape she finds it hard to face Jian De again so she calls off their wedding.

This actress is very raw in her acting. And it seems the clothes unit forgot to get a wardrobe for her. She is always in the pink sweater in all the episodes!

13. Hao Si Jia – Li Fang Wen
She is the only daughter of Hao Sheng, but she has no airs. She doesn’t mind coming to the Pan family and wonders why Ren Hao feels so inferior. She loves Ren Hao and dares to go against Hao Sheng when he opposes to them being together. She is delighted over her pregnancy and dreams to marry him, hoping that the baby will lead him back from Xiao Mei. However, this day never comes for her.

This actress is sweet, elegant and pretty. You will be convinced by her natural acting although her role isn’t a major one.

14. Mrs Pan – Shen Yu Mei
She is also another ill-fated character. She brings up her two sons but one dies young while another is unfilial. So she concentrates on taking care of Cui Fen and Xiao Jie.

15. Qian Zhi – Gui Ya Lei
She is another woman with a sorry ending. She misses Jian De. When she manages to find him, she is afraid of acknowledging him because of her past. It is quite pitiful when she tries in vain to keep the harsh truth from him.

Gui is a well-acclaimed actress and she shines in here too.

Favourite character
Jian De for his benevolence, intelligence and head for business. I also admire him for being devoted to love. Which are the scenes that I like most? It is the part where he humiliates Ren Hao. He is really taking his sweet revenge here! He has borne his sarcasm long enough.

Most hated character
Ren Hao for his cruelty towards others. A close second will be Xiao Mei for her stupidity to believe Ren Hao and also her constant acts to hurt Jian De.

Songs
They are definitely the best that I have heard so far. The main theme is ‘The Wind’s Heart’ (???) by Tracy Huang Ying Ying. Her voice is so soothing and sweet to illustrate the love between Xiao Mei and Ren Jie. The next sub theme song ‘everything is beyond me’ (??????)is by Wen Zhang. His powerful voice shows the reluctance of the men to give up their love because of the poor circumstances.

Can someone please let me know where I can find the above two songs because I have been longing to listen to them again for a long time? The last sub theme song is ’The Turbulent Times’ (????)by Lai Ming. It can be found in Lai Ming’s debut Chinese album. Lai Ming’s silky voice displays the sadness well too when Xiao Mei is parted from Ren Jie in life and death.

Interesting facts

The scenes were shot in Shanghai so the scenery was terrific. The producer wanted a realistic setting of the story. This serial was based on Shanghai and Hong Kong in the 30s so it had to be convincing. All the artistes were overjoyed to have a big wardrobe of clothes to themselves. The women liked the dresses and cheongsams. The men were also happy with the windbreakers and business suits that fitted them well.

There was a story that I had read regarding his bibliography. In 1989, Lai Ming had shot ‘Songbird’ and ‘Chun Mun Kong Chuen Kei’ for TVB. Many had said that he was arrogant (he drove his father’s Mercedes to work and sold cellphones during breaks.). Others blamed him for delaying the shoot for ‘Chun’ (he didn’t have enough sleep and this resulted in having an injured back.) TVB ‘froze’ him and at this time, his 3-year contract with Capital Artistes was up.

Taiwan CTV invited him to act in this serial. Lai Ming agreed immediately. He only mentioned a condition – to sing the sub theme song. His singing contract for 3 years did not land him with any album and he felt so dejected. He hoped to find luck in the Taiwan singing circle. Moreover, television serials reach out to the masses easily. If he got to sing the sub theme song, he would leave an impression and carve a future route for himself.

In regard to Lai Ming singing themesongs for TVB dramas in the past, this is not a problematic request. But the common language used in Hong Kong is Cantonese and the common language in Taiwan is Mandarin. Voices of Hong Kong artistes can be dubbed. But this is not possible to find a replacement for singing. The producer mentioned this to Lai Ming.

To his surprise, Lai Ming immediately used fluent Mandarin to communicate with him. His 4 childhood years in Beijing had made him fluent in this language. He even joked that he had to learn Cantonese from scratch when he first moved to Hong Kong with his parents. So both sides signed a 4-month contract from October 89 to February 90. Some wondered why the wealthy Lai Ming chose hardship instead of being dependent on his rich father. Probably he had done enough mind preparation so he found a simple life.

He recalled that could be due to how he treated it. The pace in Taiwan was slower and he had no problem with Mandarin. When he was free, he loved to cycle to the mountain top to get hamburgers to experience the life there. Thus it was easy for him to kill the time. Because he did not have to endure sleep loss, he also had more time to train his singing. Some even compared him to Taiwanese singer, Tong An Ge, because both look like the rich and unreachable.

When this serial was shown, the ratings rose and even surpassed Chiu Ngar Chi’s ‘Furong Town’. He managed to capture the audience’s attention and many got to know him. At the same time, ‘Songbird’ and ‘Return to Tong San’ were shown in Singapore and Malaysia. Both serials’ rental rates were higher than other actors’ series. TVB showed ’Return to Tong San’ finally and it was well received. The popularity continued when they showed ‘Songbird’ immediately after that. They decided to cast him in ‘Return to the past when unmarried’ with Chow Hoi Mei.

At this time, Lai Ming’s contract with CTV was ending and he had just completed filming. He felt a sense of loss, not knowing what to do after that. He was hesitant over the offer. Why? During the 4 months, he had considered seriously. Hong Kong is more open than Taiwan. But there are also many good artistes coming from China and SEA. Those belonging to his standard were plenty. Would his career go smoothly if he returned? But he was a new face in Taiwan and no matter what happened in the future, he could still enjoy the popularity now.

At this time, famous Taiwanese director, Bai Jing Rui invited Lai Ming to cast in his latest drama ‘The man who got married into the palace’. CTV had decided to keep him after this serial’s success. Lai Ming read the script and found it very close to his personality. The acting fee was also reasonable and he thought TVB might not give him more so he decided to sign the contract with Mr Bai.

When the news leaked, TVB’s top producer, Leung Choi Yuen did the talking. He immediately said that Bai’s story was only a period drama and it didn’t give any new life to Lai Ming’s career. But his ‘Return to the past when unmarried’ was a modern sci-fi story that he had not tried before. Why not try a new route when he was still young? Moreover, it was a rare opportunity to act against the popular Hoi Mei. This will help to consolidate his career. He became hesitant to sign the contract then.

Another producer, Chiu Chung Mun also contacted him. He reminded Lai Ming about the past of ‘Nam Yee Bun Sek’. He had expected Lai Ming to be famous after that and was puzzled why he was missed. He persuaded him to forget the past and thus Lai Ming recalled the chances that TVB had given him and he returned to TVB. Thus Lai Ming told reporters that this one and only Taiwanese serial brought him fond memories. It was not just a serial that he spoke in Mandarin throughout but only believed it somehow helped to turn his luck. That is why it remained as one of his unforgettable serials up to this day.

Conclusion

I was cheated when I watched the trailers. It showed the 3 pairs of ‘lovers’ – Ren Jie with Xiao Mei, Ren Hao with Si Jia and Jian De with Cui Fen. All of them came out of their big cars, dress formally in suits or dresses covered with windbreakers or jackets. Certain shots even showed Jian De and Ren Hao pointing their guns at each other while Ren Jie tried to be the mediator and the women running out of the house to stop them.

I thought that Ren Jie survived to earn a big fortune while Si Jia married Ren Hao. The main attention should be on Chin then. But... what was the outcome? It really sent the wrong message. Who became the lead – that was really a BIG surprise! But I don’t mind getting tricked because it showed that sometimes seeing is not believing, unlike most TVB dramas which let the cat out of the bag so soon.

You have to have a lot of patience to watch this drama. It is very longwinded and the characters tend to repeat the same words again and again to make you recall the scenes. The extras' acting is very bad too. Certain parts take too long to develop. They need so much time to conclude that the culprit who caused the damage is either Bao Zhong or Ren Hao. Some exciting parts turn out to be quite boring too.

Certain parts have major flaws in the plot – just like Xiao Mei seeming to throw herself onto the car instead of being knocked down. How can Si Jia’s pregnancy be unnoticed? I thought there should be an autopsy after her death? But you can overlook it if you are not too fussy.

I must confess that the leads (except Jiang Hou Ren) are good. We can see why some Taiwanese dramas go well with the audience. The actresses really know how to cry very well. Lai Ming blends into the crowd without difficulty because he needs no dubbing of his voice. It is understandable that Siu Hou needs dubbing but I can’t believe that even Su Ming Ming needs to dub her voice? Still, the romantic air and scenes can move you, unlike the fast-paced TVB dramas. There are suitable lines to display the closeness.

Take an example of the scene when Ren Jie is sick and Xiao Mei tends to him. No words required but you will feel touched. The anxiety that Ming Ming shows and the anguish that Lai Ming shows is so real. The way that Jian De remembers what Xiao Mei likes – in pictures and how many cubes for her coffee is also touching. Together with the songs or themesongs music as the background, the effect is simply perfect. TVB simply lacks people to come up with creative ideas to move the audience.

This is a must watch for all Lai Ming’s fans. It is not easy to catch Lai Ming acting in a drama anymore. You can listen to him speaking in Mandarin too.

Sukting’s ratings :

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

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

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


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