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As I said before in my other reviews, TVB seriously makes better Shanghai period series than those of the ancient or modern ones. This one was no exception since it was very well crafted and complex in many areas. The relationship between the three sisters and their fates really made it tragic and touching in a way.
Bad idea that I read the spoilers once again, but still it was a good series although I must say it somewhat dragged at some parts and could be quite repetitive. Let’s just say I didn’t take the ending as well as how I did for The Brink of Law since both major characters died in each of the series. But for the other one, it could be justified and actually made sense. But this one, it’s like one last step and then So Fei had to die just like that. It was unreasonable and made it all so frustrating. Yes, I know that was the turning point that Lai Nga had to finally end it all, but it was so unnecessary to make it tragic on purpose.
Other than that, ‘Like’ factors included:
- Kristal Tin as Kong Lai Nga: Lai Nga was a very protective and caring sister toward her younger siblings. She was nice and kind in her own way. But she failed to understand and draw the line between right and wrong thus causing many problems to evolve later in the story. However, I’m glad that she actually acknowledged that in the very end instead of just blaming her sister for it (although Pui Woo actually did the killing) but because Lai Nga failed to stop Pui Woo and kept using herself as a shield to let Pui Woo keep doing it or wishing that Pui Woo would change, etc. Can’t blame her since she was just knowing how to protect her sibling and maintain a strong bond. However, I thought some things didn’t have to drag out so much. Sometimes she was very rash and liked to do it without thinking, such as the scene where she was already rescued but she kept wanting to go see the wedding, etc–causing more troubles. It is called an accident and clumsiness the first time, but what about the second time at the church? She was discovered by Eileen’s character and almost create more problems (which she did in the end but for a different reason). I think overall, Kristal was very good and convincing in it since she brought out all the character’s personalities very well, convincing us that she was a weakling (unlike her other strong characters) and only knew to care for others, etc.
- Leila Tong as So Fei: I really, really, really like Leila’s character So Fei in here and probably also the reason why I hate it so much when they killed So Fei off–even if it was to make Lai Nga see that Pui Woo never changed at all. She was very intelligent and could see through all of Pui Woo’s acts and her deceiving words. She did break the law later in trying to save Lai Nga, but I thought she was a very good sibling considering how she suffered her future for her sister and tried to do her best in saving her. She was very selfless in her actions and never back down even if she was threatened with death. She might not agree with Lai Nga’s actions sometimes but she did listen to her. I must say Leila was really good in here. This was one of the greater roles for her but too bad it ended quite tragically. She was so good that I really did cry during So Fei’s last struggle to survive by trying to escape from the box. Too bad she didn’t succeed but she did leave clues behind for Lai Nga. It was very sad seeing that last scene played out.
- The sisterly bond between Lai Nga and So Fei: No need to say too much but it was proven many times that they will do anything for each other and maintain such a good relationship despite any obstacles or misunderstandings. They always stay true to each other and trust each other throughout. It was probably also the reason why it led Lai Nga to have such strength to finally avenge So Fei’s death in the end.
- Sunny and Kristal’s chemistry as a tragic couple: Although it was so frustrating at times because of how reluctant he was to let go of his status and future, it was somewhat understandable. Although lack of screen time but Sunny still managed to carry out his character quite well. He and Kristal made quite a good couple also.
- Jack Wu as Ma Hak: Although he was a bit dumb sometimes, he was very kind and determined to help So Fei whenever she needed him to. He was also very patient and fast-thinking that he complemented So Fei’s stubborn personality quite well. I guess can’t really blame him with how things turned out in the end. It was just a shame that he never knew that So Fei really did want to go with him and was delayed because she was killed. Haven’t seen Jack Wu for a while and it was funny to see him not pairing off with Nancy. But it was all right seeing him in here as a major contribution with the plot and various conspiracies.
- Nancy Wu as Yip Chi Shan: I couldn’t believe that her character died in here again but another wonderful performance. I really like her in recent series more than her past ones for some reason. She seemed to take it up to another level unlike her passive expression like before. Her character seems to have more depth also–even if she doesn’t get to appear much. Chi Shan’s death was probably another tear-jerker aside from So Fei’s death at the end. It was very surprising and brief since I thought she would live after so many things happening and how she overcame the loss of her husband and lived for her child.
- Law Lok Lam’s appearance although lack of screen time: He was very kind and bright in here but too bad he had such an ending. It didn’t say if his character lived or die in the end (but I’m guessing he’s still in a coma). However, I’m glad to see his contribution was something more than just appearing as Ben Wong’s father in here. It was probably the turning point for everything and a final break when Pui Woo decided to bring him down and also an opportunity for a trap as well.
- Excellent cast as an overall: Even if Sunny Chan didn’t have as much screen time because it appeared to be mostly an all-women series, I still thought it did quite well with picking out the cast with the exception of one–Louisa So. Although Louisa’s character, Pui Woo, was very hateful, I failed to be convinced of her acting. It seemed like she was picked for her beauty instead of her acting skills since there were other casts who could be better in that role. I hated her character through her actions but didn’t really care much after watching it. It was like it was not enough. Some of the minor characters in here did better than that. And maybe because of that, I failed to feel sorry for all the psychological and/or traumatizing events she went through during her childhood or how she had become. It was like never clear what she was doing. She can paste on an “evil” look but at the minimum and could only do so much. If it was someone else, I would have felt a tad pity for Pui Woo and why she had become such a person.
Other than that, I think it was good overall. It probably would land behind The Charm Beneath, Au Revoir Shanghai, and The Price of Greed even since like I said before, it tried to be too tragic with the ending. I know it’s not supposed to be all happy near the end–because none of the other ones were (except for The Charm Beneath) but it didn’t have to be all out with deaths. Just made things so repetitive.
Since I said earlier about an excellent cast, I must say also that this is one of the most under-rated series of TVB since it seems people just ignore this type of series since they fail to see some cast that they recognize or like. But this is like The Price of Greed (a series that is good) but got ignored. People should definitely give this a chance.
Posted: December 25, 2008
Re-posted: Sunday, March 21st, 2010