Saturday, August 25, 2012

Overview - The Last Steep Ascent

A young Moses Chan meets a soon-to-be married Maggie Cheung, leaving him with a lasting impression. Twenty years later, the two meet again when Moses works for a pharmacy owned by Maggie’s husband, KK Cheung. Maggie discovers that KK developed a relationship with his maid (Aimee Chan) while he was in San Francisco. But to protect the family’s honour, Maggie quietly turns a blind eye up until KK passes away from illness. Believing that Aimee was pregnant with KK’s child, Maggie even invites Aimee to live with her and treats her like a sister. The only person knowing the truth is Kenny Wong…

Meanwhile, Maggie takes control of the family business and faces heavy pressure from her brother-in-law and his son (Edwin Siu). Despite all criticisms, Moses steps out to help her navigate the challenges. In the past, Maggie was afraid to express her feelings due to traditional societal views and the relationship with her mother-in-law. Now, she is finally moved by Moses’ sincerity and they decide to move into the mountains to lead a peaceful life. Moses uses 50 years to complete a 6000 step stairway to heaven, signifying their cross-all-barriers love.

Original article

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tiger Cubs Review

Producer: Lam Chi Wah
Genre: Police, action
Cast: Joe Ma, Jessica Hsuen, Oscar Leung, Him Law, Vincent Wong, Mandy Wong

Plot: The highly trained Special Duties Unit (SDU), commanded by Joe Ma, faces a slew of criminals, masterminds and kingpins. Out come the weapons and armour and off they go, always returning with mission completed. They take down everyone from drug dealers, bombers and kidnappers to a crazy psychiatrist to the “King of Thieves” Kenneth Ma.


This is a masterful creation by TVB; a model for police dramas. This is what TVB is capable of when they put effort and resources into a production. This series features action, action and more action. There’s a lot of explosive scenes, shooting, fighting, the like… When the SDU is not on a mission, they’re doing training exercises. They’re running, climbing and jumping around. You can still admire their physical prowess. There’s always movement on the screen, always excitement in the air that will keep you at the edge of your seat. 

I really like the format of this series. No plot, just case after case. Each case takes the span of about one episode. It is different from other police shows in that this is not an “investigation” series (i.e. collect clues, put two and two together, etc). You will likely recognize the bad guy right away since it’s a well-known guest star. This series is focus on the action. Out of nowhere, the SDU will be notified of the suspect and location. They will come in, break down doors, scour the place and subdue the bad guys. You won’t even see much planning or tactical strategy from the SDU.

Outside of the action, there’s the love side. Luckily, TVB does not ruin this show by allocating too much screen time for the relationships. First, there’s the love triangle between Joe, Oscar and Christine. But it isn’t much of a triangle because neither of them really loves her. They choose their friendship over fighting for a girl. After that, Christine sort of just continues hanging around the group. Then there’s the budding relationship between Joe and Jessica. At first Jessica is suicidal over her fiancé’s death, which makes you wonder how she can continue being a cop. But eventually she’s able to let go with Joe’s encouragement. Their relationship is quite subtle and bearable even for people who hate watching romantic scenes (like me).

Acting-wise, there’s honestly very little acting required to run around with guns and armour. There were complaints about Christine Kuo, but she has little importance to the story anyways. I liked Oscar Leung the most. He’s very charming with his winks and he’s actually quite built-up.

The ending… someone dies, but it is not illogical and unnecessary, unlike previous dramas (*coughcough*LauKaHoDramas*). The death was necessary to set up the final epic showdown between the SDU and Kenneth.

One thing I think was missing: I hoped to actually see how Mandy Wong passes through the selection process and become a front-line SDU member. This is not shown, you only know because she’s sitting beside Him Law in full armour in the last shot.

You can either enjoy this series for the action or for the masculinity. I enjoyed both aspects.

Recommendation: Spectacular. 5/5

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Historical Context: Song Dynasty

Welcome to the Song dynasty!

If your historical knowledge comes mostly from TVB shows, it’s won’t be surprising if you don’t know very much about this dynasty.  For some reason, the Song dynasty gets very little love from TVB. I believe the last Song era drama was Witness to Prosecution I & II. And TVB has never ventured into the imperial court of Song before King Maker. So here is some background info on the Song dynasty.

The King Maker is set in the Song dynasty.  The Song dynasty is split into two time periods: Northern and Southern Song. This is because the capital was moved when Song lost control of northern China to the Jin (“Gold”) Dynasty. The Song Dynasty was most recognized for its scholarly works, including literature, art, philosophy and science. It placed an emphasis on the merits of officials rather than their backgrounds. Agricultural and economic innovations contributed to the prosperity during the period. Famous people from the Song Dynasty include Bao Zheng (包青), Song Ci (, the coroner in Witness to Prosecution) and General Ngok Fei ().

Specifically, this drama is set during the Southern Song dynasty during the reign of Emperor Ningzong, played by Kwok Fung.  He was the 13th king of the Song dynasty. He ascended to the throne when his father chose to retire as king and take the title of Taishuang Huang (太上). Ningzong was third consecutive Emperor to take the throne before his predecessor’s death.  He had two Empresses. The first was Empress Gongshu (Kingdom Yuen).  

The second was Empress Gongsheng (aka Lady Yeung), which is the future Florence Kwok. She was said to be very beautiful and intelligent. It is rumored that when she entered the palace at a young age, she forgot her last name and only said she came from a township called 會稽. Coincidentally, there happened to be an official from the same township named Yeung Chi-san (Joseph Lee), so she said that he was her brother. When the first Empress died, Ningzong had two choices: Lady Yeung or another of his favourites, Lady Cao. A minister tried to persuade Ningzong to choose Lady Cao because he feared Lady Yeung would be too ambitious with her smarts. In the end, Ningzong still chose Lady Yeung to become Empress.

Posted ImageIn the series, Pierre Ngo and Chris Lai are brothers and princes of the Song court. They are not the sons of Emperor Ningzong. Ningzong had eight sons, but all died at a young age. He appointed his adoptive son as Crown Prince. However, after Ningzong’s death, the Prime Minister installed one of the brothers instead, as he knew the Crown Prince despised him. The brothers are descendants of Song Taizu, the founder of the dynasty.

So who wins? According to history, the next king was Emperor Lizong (宋理), which is the actor…………………

But don’t worry, guy who lost, your son will succeed Emperor Lizong.

Pictures taken from Asianfanatics and Ming Pao

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kevin "Angry Birds" Cheng

Credits to @lyricalstars posted here

This is so funny! Wonder if that's the expressions Kevin goes through when he reads all his love rumours from the media.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Historical Context: After Three Kingdoms RPG

Wondering what happened after Vincent aka Sima Shun (Kenneth Ma) left the Three Kingdoms?

Since TVB doesn’t seem to know, allow me to tell you.

These are fictional tales from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Read what happened before in the Battle of the Red Cliffs.

Kwan Yu releases Cao Cao at Huarong Pass

Zhuge Liang predicted that Cao Cao would retreat through Huarong Pass and sent Kwan Yu to prevent his escape. Cao Cao fell into the ambush, but pleaded with Kwan Yu to release him. He reasoned that he had treated Kwan Yu well when Kwan Yu was captured years ago. Kwan Yu ultimately decides to release Cao Cao and returns to Liu Bei willing to accept punishment.

It turns out that Zhuge Liang had counted on the loyal Kwan Yu to release Cao Cao. Zhuge Liang feared that Cao Cao’s death would mean Sun Quan’s ambitions would be unchecked and would result in Sun Quan conquering Liu Bei.

Zhuge Liang Thrice Enrages Zhou Yu

Immediately after the Battle of the Red Cliffs, Zhou Yu fought in successive battles in an attempt to seize Nan Commandery (南郡). In one battle, he was severely wounded by an arrow. After finally defeating the Cao army, Zhou Yu was about to claim the territory when he found out that Zhuge Liang had already sent Chiu Wan and Kwan Yu into the cities to claim them for Liu Bei. Zhou Yu was enraged that he fought for nothing.  

Next, Zhou Yu planned to assassinate Liu Bei by luring him into Eastern Wu with a fake marriage proposal to Lady Sun (Sun Quan’s younger sister). Zhuge Liang, sensing danger, arranged for Liu Bei and Lady Sun to quickly retreat from Wu territory. As Zhou Yu and his men gave chase, they were ambushed by Zhuge Liang’s army. Zhou Yu ended up losing both Lady Sun and his soldiers (賠了夫人又折兵).

The third time, Zhou Yu pretended that he would help Liu Bei invade Western Su. To do so, Zhou Yu’s army would have to pass through Jing Province. Zhou Yu planned to assassinate Liu Bei when they met and reclaim Jing Province. However, Zhuge Liang once again foiled his plans. Zhou Yu fell from his horse in a fit of anger and exclaimed “既生瑜,何生亮!”  before dying.

Liu Bei borrows Jing Province

After driving Cao Cao out of Jing Province, Sun Quan took control of the northern part of the province and Liu Bei secured the south. Liu Bei married Sun Quan’s sister to strengthen the alliance. He also asked to “borrow” the rest of Jing Province since the southern part did not have enough resources for his army. Sun Quan agrees to this.

Liu Bei then successfully conquers Yi Province. Seeing that Liu Bei could now establish his base in Yi Province, Sun Quan requests Jing Province to be returned, only to be denied by Liu Bei. Sun Quan forcibly captures a few territories and Liu Bei is ready to retaliate, but the threat of a Cao Cao attack brings the two sides to a truce. 

The Official Start to the Three Kingdoms period

Cao Cao adhered to his personal code of honour and did not usurp the Han Dynasty. Upon his death, his son Cao Pi promptly forced Emperor Xian of Han to abdicate and proclaimed himself emperor of Cao Wei.

In response to this, Liu Bei declares himself emperor of Shu Han, claiming that he was the legitimate successor of the Han Dynasty.

Just prior to this, the Liu-Suan alliance had broken down because Sun Quan had captured and executed Kwan Yu while annexing Jing Province. Liu Bei prepared for an attack to recapture Jing Province. Facing a double threat from Cao Wei and Shu Han, Sun Quan submits to Cao Wei. Later, he defeats Liu Bei to solve his predicament and declares himself emperor of Eastern Wu.

Zhuge Liang’s Southern Campaign and Northern Expeditions
When Liu Bei died, his son, Liu Shan, succeeded the throne with Zhuge Liang acting as regent. With news of Liu Bei’s death, several tribes in southern Shu Han planned a revolt, led by the respected leader Meng Huo. Zhuge Liang personally led the army to suppress the rebellion. His men capture Meng Huo, who refuses to surrender. Zhuge Liang shows him around the Shu Han camp, releases him and orders for him to be captured again. After a total of seven captures and releases, Meng Huo finally pledges allegiance to Shu Han.

Zhuge Liang then turns his attention to the northern Cao Wei state. He launches five expeditions to attack Cao Wei. The last two expeditions are famous for the showdown between Zhuge Liang and Sima Yi. Sima Yi employs a strategy of refusing to engage in any battles and waiting until Shu Han’s supplies ran out. Zhuge Liang was so frustrated with this tactic that he sent a woman’s dress to Sima Yi to provoke him into battle.

Zhuge Liang dies during the fifth campaign, but he still had one last trick for Sima Yi. He told his subordinates to keep his death a secret while retreating. Sima Yi, believing that Zhuge Liang had died, ordered his army to chase after them. The Shu Han forces suddenly reverse and attack. Sima Yi spots a figure atop a cliff resembling Zhuge Liang and thought that Zhuge Liang had faked death to trap him, so he orders his men to retreat. Only later would he find out that Zhuge Liang had really died and the figure was merely a statute. The phrase “死諸葛嚇走活仲達” has since been used to ridicule Sima Yi for being scared away by a dead man.

Sima Yi Conquers the Three Kingdoms

Sima Yi gained prominence and power under Cao Pi’s rule. He served as regent for Cao Pi’s son, Cao Rui, and then for Cao Rui’s successor, Cao Fang. During the reign of Cao Fang, Sima Yi deposed his co-regent in a coup d’etat and eliminated other political opponents. At the time of his death, the Sima clan held the majority of power in Cao Wei. His grandson seized the throne from the Caos and proclaimed the Jin Dynasty to end the Three Kingdoms period.

Pics: {1} {2} {3} {4} 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Theme Song for King Maker

The theme song for King Maker is "追夢者" (Dream Chaser), sung by Leo Ku.

I'm glad they chose Leo to sing the theme song over a TVB artist. His powerful delivery is absolutely befitting of the mood of the series. The last time Leo sang a theme song for a Wayne Lai series (No Regrets), it turned out pretty good.

30 second preview:

Full version

Overview - King Maker

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Within the imperial court of Southern Song, there are two factions: 1st Prince Pierre Ngo and 2nd Prince Chris Lai both desire the throne. The Left and Right Chancellors Wayne Lai and Kent Cheng were originally friends before Wayne’s father, KK Cheung, was exiled for angering the Emperor. As a result, Wayne was separated from his younger siblings, Patrick Tang and Natalie Tong. Patrick is tricked to become a eunuch, while Natalie loses her memory and is adopted by the triad leader Kristal Tin. Wayne believes that Kent betrayed his father for self-interest and vows to exact revenge. He colludes with the corrupt court official Joseph Lee. The battle commences on the imperial court with treachery, schemes, murder and more...

Related Article: Original Article

Palace dramas about scheming women have always been a ratings guarantee, from War and Beauty to Beyond the Realm of Conscience to Curse of the Royal Harem. The reason for the success is same: competition. The upcoming series, King Maker, will feature fierce competition. But instead of a battle between females, it will be a grand showdown between men. Following The Greatness of a Hero, Film King Kent Cheng and TV King Wayne Lai face each other again to see who can be the ultimate kingmaker!

Kent and Wayne are mentors to the two Princes. In order to help their Prince become Emperor, they will turn against each other with evil plots and cunning schemes. Last time in The Greatness of a Hero, Wayne was evil to no extent, but this time it is Kent’s turn to be the villain. Wayne says, “The Greatness of a Hero was in the Tang dynasty, King Maker is in the Song dynasty. A few hundred years apart, it is like a re-carnation. It is interesting that Kent and I switch between good and evil roles.” Kent, who seldom portrays the antagonist, says that his role will leave a lasting impression on the audience. He jokes, “Wayne and I will fight for the Best Supporting Actor Award.”

TVB’s focus on “lovey-dovey” plots in recent years has received negative criticisms from many fans. Even in the police drama, Tiger Cubs, scriptwriters have inserted unnecessary love plots, which has annoyed viewers who only want to see the SDU in action. King Maker breaks with tradition to emphasis competition over romance. Film King and TV King will obviously contribute their spectacular acting skills. They are supported by solid actresses, such as Kingdom Yuen, Florence Kwok and Kristal Tin.

The cast also features younger actors with great potential, such as Pierre Ngo, Chris Lai and Natalie Tong. Of them, Pierre’s performances can never be discounted. Collaborating with two heavy-weights, this may be a chance for “Spare-ribs Boy” to gain reach higher heights. For viewers tired of TVB’s repetitive love themes, King Maker will surely not disappoint!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Historical Context: Battle of the Red Cliffs


The Battle of the Red Cliffs was a grand naval showdown between Cao Cao and the Liu Bei-Sun Quan alliance. It is one of the deadliest battles in world history with at least 100,000 deaths. Despite being vastly outnumbered (4:1 by conservative estimates, and 16:1 by Cao Cao’s claims), it ended with a decisive victory for Liu Bei and Sun Quan. This battle more or less settled the boundaries of the three states.

Upon dominating the territories north of Yangtze River, Cao Cao set his sights on uniting all of China. He chased Liu Bei from Jing Province south to Xiahou in the Battle of Changban. A desperate Liu Bei convinced the eastern warlord Sun Quan to form an alliance against Cao Cao.

At this time, Cao Cao boosted that his army had 800,000 men (though Zhou Yu estimates it is in the range of 200-250,000). In comparison, the alliance had just 50,000 men.


The Battle:
In the prelude to the battle, Liu Bei’s forces flee from the Battle of Changban by way of the Han River. They sail towards Xiahou, where the Han and Yantze Rivers meet. Meanwhile, Cao Cao’s army marches south from the battle site to the captured city of Jiangling.

1.   Cao Cao’s army continues along the Yantze River from Jiangling. With the successful negotiation of an alliance, the combined Liu-Suan forces, commanded by Zhou Yu, begins their journey from Xiahou. The two sides meet at Red Cliffs. The tired Cao Cao army is unable to counter the allied forces.

2.   Cao Cao orders a retreat to Wulin on the northern shores of the river. Zhou Yu remains on the south bank of the Red Cliffs, at Chibi City. The two sides are now facing each other with the Yantze River in between. 

3.   Zhou Yu’s subordinate, Wong Gai, fakes defection in order to get close to Cao Cao’s camp and succeeds in burning down Cao Cao’s ships. The ships had been chained together for stability, which made it easy for the fire to spread to the entire fleet. Cao Cao’s army suffers huge losses.

4.   Cao Cao retreats through Huarong Pass to arrive at Jiangling. The difficult trek across the marshlands kills more soldiers and leaves the remaining army in tatters.

5.   Cao Cao returns to his northern base, leaving his cousin Cao Ren to defend Jiangling, which eventually falls to Sun Quan’s forces. The alliance weakens as Liu Bei and Sun Quan jostle over the southern territories. The stage is now set for the official beginning of the Three Kingdoms period.

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms provides many fictional accounts of events surrounding the Red Cliffs campaign, such as Zhuge Liang borrows arrows, Zhou Yu beats Wong Gai, Zhuge Liang summons the east winds and Kwan Yu releases Cao Cao. The novel gives more credit to Zhuge Liang than his actual contributions.

Read other Historical Context posts!

Three Kingdoms RPG Review

Producer: Lau Ka Ho
Genre: Historical comedy
Cast: Kenneth Ma, Raymond Lam, Joseph Lee, Pierre Ngo, Ruco Chan, Tavia Yeung

Vincent (Kenneth Ma) gets caught up in a big storm in 21st century Hong Kong and time travels back to the Three Kingdoms period. There, he meets Zhuge Liang (Raymond Lam), Liu Bei (Joseph Lee) and other historical characters. And then TVB lost their history books.

For the record, this series takes place in the prelude to the Three Kingdoms. But it really didn’t matter, because the story could have easily fit into another time period. Do we see the battles, the strategies or the intellect that the Three Kingdoms era is famous for? No. We see petty, domestic squabbles. The wives fighting over a maid, the maid’s love troubles, Zhuge Liang’s wife’s sickness and feeling not good enough for him, etc, etc. Hey TVB, you know that there are three states, right? We get introduced to Cao Cao early on, but he doesn’t appear again for many episodes after that. And Sun Quan makes his appearance in episode 16. Sixteen! That’s more than half way through the series!!

Even when battle scenes are shown, they are uninspiring. Any fighting scenes are always blurry. Heroic guy slashes left, enemy falls down, heroic guy slashes right, enemy falls down, repeat. The Battle of the Red Cliffs was an epic naval showdown, but what we get instead are the worst computer graphics and the commanders standing in front of tents at the “battlegrounds”. Visual aspects aside, there is no showing of the tactical planning and brilliant strategies for the battles. We see the leaders looking very worried and hoping for the best. Cut to a montage of soldiers fighting, then cut back to the leaders who are either celebrating how lucky they were to win or crying over a loss.

The character portrayals are just… urgh! I was laughing so hard in the last episode when Kenneth said “Lau, Kwan, Cheung are historic figures. How can you mess with them?” And what exactly did TVB just do? First, Liu Bei. He is weak and indecisive. He always looks worried. He never has any input on military affairs. Compared to Sun Quan and Cao Cao, Liu Bei is nothing like a noble leader. Then there’s Zhuge Liang. The best strategist in history? You would never know from watching this series. In most situations, he doesn’t know what to do. He always looks depressed or unsure. In the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Zhou Yu was no match for Zhuge Liang, but here, Zhuge Liang is nowhere close to Zhou Yu. Although Zhou Yu is jealous and despicable, he actually has intelligence and foresight. I think the actual most intelligent person may be Han Leung, the turncoat advisor. Often, he knows what kind of schemes other people are trying to pull off. For instance, he saw something wrong with the sudden surrender of Sun Quan’s advisors before the Battle of Red Cliffs. Of course, Han Leung is just TVB’s own fictional creation. Have to blame the scriptwriters for their “unique” take on the historical characters. Unique indeed, but in a stupid way. I’ll bet Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang are rolling in their graves right now.

The romantic storyline was EXACTLY the same as Witness Insecurity: girl likes guy, guy doesn’t like her back, girl is sad. All of a sudden, guy realizes he really likes girl, but due to the circumstances, they can’t be together just yet. Then guy dies, girl cries. CUT! Roll the credits. Tavia is an insignificant maid. Wouldn’t it be more intriguing if she was someone more important, like say the daughter of the enemy? A story about forbidden true love would add some excitement and twists to the series.

As a historical drama, Three Kingdoms RPG gets a big, red F. What about as a comedy? The funniest characters were Fan Gun and Cheung Fei. Fan Gun is adorable being the wide-eyed best friend of Kenneth. He actually develops from a simple-minded person to a mature man, but never loses his sincerity and kindness. Cheung Fei’s best moment was when he broke the bridge by yelling out loud. There are also humorous parts when Kenneth uses modern lingo to speak to the ancient people. Still, the comedic effects cannot make up for the overall failures.

The ending… Does it matter? Bad ending for bad series.

Conclusion Lau Ka Ho wanted to screw TVB before leaving.

Rating 3.5/5

Check out the Historical Context behind Three Kingdoms RPG!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Zhuge Liang, the Inventor

The Wooden Ox

Episode 21 of Three Kingdoms RPG shows Zhuge Liang inventing a transportation tool called 木牛流 (literally translated: wooden ox flowing horse) in preparation for the Battle of the Red Cliffs against Cao Cao. It’s true that Zhuge Liang invented the wooden ox, but it was not until later. The wooden ox was used during Zhuge Liang’s Northern Expeditions, which occurred at least 20 years from the current setting in 3K.  

It is unclear how the mechanism actually worked. It likely resembled a wheelbarrow with handles that moved the legs up and down, making it seem like a “walking” ox. It was capable of transporting 400 pounds over rocky mountain roads. The wooden ox helped transport food and supplies for the Shu-Han army during Zhuge Liang’s Northern Expeditions. It is believed that there was a hidden mechanism in the ox’s tongue to prevent the enemy from copying the design.

The Mantou

In 3K, Sima Shun (Kenneth Ma) helped Zhuge Liang resolve the problem of feeding the army at the Battle of Bowang by changing the mantou into a modern-day hamburger. This is yet another timing mistake by TVB. TVB really needs to check out their facts. Seriously, even Wikipedia will do.

The mantou is said to have been the creation of Zhuge Liang during his Southern Campaign, about 25 years after the Battle of Bowang. After achieving victory against the rebels in the south, Zhuge Liang’s army had to cross a river to return to the capital. The local tradition was to offer a sacrifice of fifty human heads to the river gods in exchange for a safe crossing. Zhuge Liang did not want to kill anyone, so he made buns molded into the shape of a human head to throw into the river. He named the buns “barbarian head” (mantou) after what they were supposed to represent.

The Repeating Crossbow

The Chinese name for the repeating crossbow is called a “Zhuge crossbow”. The weapon was not invented by Zhuge Liang, but he greatly modifying the design to allow it to shoot many arrows simultaneously. He employed it in mass formations, raining down arrows on the enemy.

Kongming Lantern

The Kongming Lantern is essentially an earlier version of the hot-air balloon. In one battle, Zhuge Liang was besieged by Sima Yi’s forces. Zhuge Liang attached messages to lanterns and propelled them into the air by lighting a fire under it. Neighboring allies received the messages and quickly came to his rescue. It is disputed whether Zhuge Liang is the actual inventor because of evidence showing the existence of mini hot-air balloons prior to his time. Nonetheless, the credit was given to him. Alternatively, the invention may have been named after him because the lantern’s shape resembles his hat.

Note: Kongming is the style name of Zhuge Liang.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Zhuge Liang Borrow Arrows

With the formation of the Liu-Suen alliance, Zhou Yu was said to be extremely jealous of Zhuge Liang and wanted to get rid of him. One was his schemes led to the famous story of Zhuge Liang borrowing arrows, known as 草船借箭.

In preparation for the pending battle against Cao Cao, Zhou Yu requested Zhuge Liang to produce 100,000 arrows within ten days, knowing that this would be an impossible task. To his surprise, Zhuge Liang said he would complete the task in three days. After two days, Zhou Yu saw that not one arrow had been produced and was delighted that he could get rid of Zhuge Liang at last.

Unknown to him, Zhuge Liang had asked Lo Shuk (advisor of Eastern Wu) to prepare twenty boats, each manned by thirty soldier and lined with a thousand bundles of straw wrapped in cloth. That night, Zhuge Liang set sail towards Cao Cao’s camp. He ordered his men to shout out battle cries. Because it was a foggy night, Cao Cao’s men could not clearly see the approaching vessels and thought it was an ambush. They blindly shot arrows towards the boats. After a while, Zhuge Liang turned the boats around so that the arrows would hit the other side. Once the fog cleared, Cao Cao’s army saw that the arrows had all hit the straw bundles. By then, Zhuge Liang had already retreated.

Returning to his camp, Zhuge Liang had five to six thousand arrows on each boat, far exceeding the 100,000 arrows that Zhou Yu had demanded.

Ah, another famous story. Too bad it’s purely fictional. Well, it was inspired by the Battle of Ruxukou. In the battle, Sun Quan’s boats were struck by so many arrows on one side that the boats were tipping. To keep the boats afloat, Sun Quan ordered them to be turned around to absorb arrows on the other side and balance the weight.  

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Overview - A Chip Off the Old Block II

Update Aug 8 2012: The official English title is "Divas in Distress".

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Translated Article:
Liza Wang and Gigi Wong are former actresses who share the same mentor. From their acting days to the present, their feud has gone on for 30 years. If not for their mentor, Chung King-fei (King Sir), they would never want to associate with one another again. But as irony has it, Gigi’s son, Chin Ka-Lok, is actually Liza’s son-in-law. Years ago, Liza’s daughter died while giving birth to his child, leaving Liza with a deep emotional scar. Now, news reporter/rich girl, Eliza Sum, suddenly appears on the scene for Chin Ka-Lok. Gigi wants for her son to remarry, while Liza tries to sabotage the relationship. Meanwhile, Liza wants her son, Him Law, to be successful in life. Yet he falls in love with Gigi’s niece, the tomboy-construction worker, Mandy Wong. Akin to her daughter and Chin Ka-Lok’s romance, Liza does everything she can to damage the budding love. All these conflicts cause Liza and Gigi’s old rivalry to resurface. Their quarrels make it tough for their children who are stuck in the middle.

Original article here (in Chinese)

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Comment: This is not a sequel of the first A Chip Off the Old Block. It is merely playing on the name of the original. A mainly veteran cast with some of the younger generation (Him Law, Mandy Wong). The synopsis reminds me of War of the in Laws, with Liza as the unreasonable mother-in-law. Why is she always given these bratty roles nowadays? I’d like to see Liza reprise the classy professional roles like in When Rules Turn Loose or A Matter of Customs. Gigi will likely be equally unforgiving in this drama, similar to the first A Chip Off the Old Block. This sounds like a delight to the housewife population, but a source of endless frustration for me. On the bright side, I can focus on the new school year…

Sunday, August 05, 2012

StarHub TVB Awards 2012

Voting ends Aug 11, 2012. Cast your vote now! These are my picks:

Favourite Theme Song

No contest here. Definitely Joey Yung’s “Serial Drama” for The Hippocratic Crush.

Runner-up: When Heaven Burns subtheme “Ignorant Youth”
Worst: Ghetto Justice. Not my style.

Favourite On-screen Couple

I’ll take Kevin and Myolie in Ghetto Justice. I like their bickering.

Runner-up: Bosco and Kate in Lives of Omission for their passionate intimacy.
Worst: Raymond and Charmaine in My Sister of Eternal Flower. Urgh.

Favourite Male Character

Close one. I’ll choose Law Ba from Ghetto Justice. His sloppy attitude makes him all the more charming.

Runner-up: Laughing Gor. So cool and so chok on his motorcycle.
Worst: The Emperor (Sunny Chan). Is there anyone more useless? How can he be a King?!?!

Favourite Female Character

Kris Wong. She is tough and cool and smart.

Runner-up: Kate’s role (Paris) in Lives of Omission. Also one tough gal.
Worst: Chung Mo Yim. Annoying as hell.

Favourite Actor

Wayne Lai. Most of his series are good, and the ones that aren’t is not because of his acting.

Runner-up: Not sure. They’re all okay to me.
Worst: See above.

Favourite Actress

Myolie Wu. (Hey StarHub, it’s spelt with a “y”.) She’s had some great roles lately, like Empress in COTRH and Kris in GJ

Runner-up: Maybe Kate? Though more for her roles than acting.
Worst: Fala Chen. Everything she’s in slow and boring. And she’s going into singing too?

Favourite Drama

Ghetto Justice. Law Ba is just too great.

Runner-up: The Other Truth. I love legal series and this one gives a different perspective than other legal dramas.
Worst: Queens of Hearts and Diamonds. Failed comedy.

Favourite Variety Show Categories

No selection because I didn't watch most of them and the ones I did watch were quite terrible.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Common TVB Pairings

 1.       Michael Tao & Kenix Kwok


The first on-screen couple that I can remember. Absolutely loved them in the Detective Investigative Files franchise. By their own estimates, they have filmed in 200 episodes together.

1994 – CATWALK俏佳人
1995-1997 – Detective Investigative Files I – III
2004 – Shine on You
2005 – Love Bond

2.       Joe Ma & Jessica Hsuan


Jessica has recently been named “Hostage Queen” for being held hostage 24 times in her filming career. Joe has probably saved her countless times. Joe said he enjoys working with Jessica because of her professionalism and punctuality.

1999 – 寵物情緣
2004 – Lady Fan
2004 – 一屋兩家三姓人
2007 – Drive of Life
2012 – Tiger Cubs

3.       Moses Chan & Charmaine Sheh


Being the big brother and sister of TVB, Moses and Charmaine certainly has amply opportunity to work together in big productions.  They are both favourites of producers Mui Siu Ching and Jonathan Chik. With Charmaine’s reputation as “姣佘”, it’s surprising there are no rumours about this pair.

2004 – War and Beauty
2005 – The Dance of Passion
2009 – Beyond the Realm of Conscience
2010 – Can’t Buy Me Love
2011 – When Heaven Burns
2012 – 4 In Love

4.       Steven Ma & Linda Chung

 Steven Ma and Linda Chung{4}

Steven is always paired with younger actresses to mentor them. His most frequent partner has got to be Linda. Despite a 10+ year age gap, they have surprisingly good chemistry. Of course, working together so many times doesn’t hurt. From Linda’s first series, Virtues of Harmony II, to Steven’s last series at TVB, Daddy Good Deeds, this pair has been together five times.

2004 – Virtues of Harmony II
2007 – A Journey Called Life
2009 – A Watchdog’s Tale
2009 – Ghost Writer
2012 – Daddy Good Deeds

5.       Ron Ng & Kate Tsui


Best-friends on and off the screen. Their close interactions reportedly made Ron’s (now-ex) girlfriend Viann Zhang unhappy. To me, it seems they are like good “brothers” instead of lovers.

2005 – On The First Beat
2007 – Brink of Law
2011 - 你們我們他們
2011 – Wax and Wane
2011 – Forensic Heroes III

6.       Him Law & Mandy Wong


These two seem to be TVB’s next golden couple. I personally don’t like Him too much because of his off-screen scandals, but I find Mandy to be quite an actress. Both are being heavily promoted and have collaborated many times, though not all of them as a couple.

2010 – Suspects in Love
2012 – L’Escargot
2012 – The Hippocratic Crush
2012 – Tiger Cubs
Upcoming – A Chip Off the Old Block II