Three Kingdoms RPG <回到三國>
TVB Series 2012
Cast: Kenneth Ma, Raymond Lam, Tavia Yeung, Sharon Chan, Ruco Chan, Kaki Leung, Joseph Lee, Savio Tsang, Jimmy Au, Law Lok Lam, and Ha Yu.
This is a watch as I write episodic thoughts and some information may not be accurate since this is memory based. Certain dialogue is reproduced with some creative license adopted. I apologise if there is any mistake. All opinion remains my own.
“I have served under his lordship and his brother, Sun Ce and I can tell you honestly, his lordship is more cunning and more capable than his brother, that I am very sure.”
FINALLY! FINALLLLLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYYY!! Sun Quan and Zhou Yu, double appearance! When this series was almost going down down down, with Sun Quan it is now suddenly getting somewhat normal even if everything through TVB eyes is so naive, so innocent, so simple. If only things could be solved with a card game and war game. Anyway ZGL is somewhat sorta back except seriously Shun is still doing the thinking but ZGL being the better speaker doing the speaking. My issues with ZGL still remains. In fact I have issues with every major character but well, I am so happy to see Sun Quan, I don’t care.
But before the recap, let me recap the recap.
Remember we have been hearing about Sun Quan for like episodes after episodes about how great his army is? But Dongwu, under Sun Quan’s control has been hit by flood and continuous rain so I thought maybe by now Sun Quan must have gotten poorer or something but apparently the rain didn’t affect them much from what I could see. Again to watch this series, you must adopt the “TVB perspective” lens. Remember, every war, add 3 zeroes to the number of people you see on screen, affluent nation do imagine the room is like triple its size and the number of ministers do add another zero to the number you see. That should be about it because when it comes to Sun Quan, you definitely need that TVB perspective lens.
Anyway some creative license used in the dialogue and as to who said what.
And so Lau Bei decides to ally with Sun Quan except nobody seems to tell him “Ahem, maybe Sun Quan doesn’t want to?” and Lau Bei made plans to be a commander of the sea army aka navy since Sun Quan is famous for navy and Lau Bei needs the number you see but ZGL beats him down back to earth as ZGL says “My lord, I am afraid you won’t like what I have to say. Your plan and my plan are very different. I beg you to withstand the slight embarrassment of having to be under Sun Quan because he will be the commander, not you. And if we have to surrender Jiangxia to Sun Quan as part of the alliance, we will have to agree because by then we would have back Jingzhou” and Lau Bei, who in previous episode had the most major panic attack suddenly is zen as he says “For my people, for our safety, for this alliance, I am willing to suffer this embarrassment”.
Why embarrassment you say? Well, Lau Bei is supposed to be the imperial uncle respected by all and Sun Quan this young.. ok young somebody but still young. What ZGL is saying is they need Sun Quan and Lau Bei just has to put up with whatever demands Sun Quan may have. For once, ZGL is talking sense.
So ZGL, Shun and one more, is it Kong Yuen or Jau Ping (one of them ran away when they escaped to Jiangxi, remember?) went to Dong Wu I believe hoping to see the Minister of Foreign Affairs who unfortunately avoided them. You see, why would the Dong Wus want to ally with Lau Bei and irritate Cao Cao when they’re peaceful and happy? I do believe Dong Wu must be so south, Cao Cao has no plans to attack yet. Also surrounded by water so Cao Cao may find it difficult to attack. So everyone in Dong Wu is happy at being left alone. ZGL is desperate to see the minister but a servant or someone explains that each document must first pass to person A who passes to dept B and the forwarded to person C who then gives to dept D whether to pass to this minister. It means there is much red tape and Shun says “Wow, so many departments? So much red tape?” as the other ZGL’s assistant says “Dong Wu has been established for many years, it is a stable government hence the red tape” but everyone knows the amount of red tape in this instance is to discourage them because if it is important enough, surely the minister will get it straight.
Back at Jiangxi, they’re told Lau Kei wants to hold a bigger funeral for his dead father, Lau Biu and I was thinking, isn’t the country poor? Now wanna waste money? But then ZGL says “Yes, do hold it as big as you can”. Why? Someone explains that even if Lau Biu may not be some big huge somebody, protocol dictates Dong Wu has to send at least the Minister of Foreign Affairs as representative and so with this way they can meet him and talk alliance so that he can tell Sun Quan. Sorta brilliant.
Funeral day, minister did not come. Shun is perplexed, ZGL is sorta desperate again when someone says “A representative from Dongwu is waiting outside, he is Lu Su” and ZGL is shocked as Shun asks “Who is he? Shouldn’t it be the minister?” as ZGL says “Lu Su? He is the Chief Adviser of Sun Quan. Why is he here?” and seriously this would be great news since they have a bigger gun here rather than the minister. ZGL goes outside and not sure if he is more shocked or me because Lu Su is young.
My theory is TVB is running out of men to act as various characters so they fill in minor roles with usually secondary actors, and not just ke-le-fes and thus actor as Lu Su you will know him, though not sure his name. He is too young so just add 20 years to his age and that should be it since he did say he served under Sun Ce as well.
“Brother Lu Su, I am surprised to see you have come instead of the minister” as Lu Su says “I insisted on coming in his place for I would like to meet you personally” as ZGL surprised says “Meet me?” as Lu Su says “I have heard a lot about you and I wish to see for myself if you are as reputed to be because it is pivotal to our alliance if there is going to be one” and ZGL is very happy as he hears the keyword as Lu Su says “The ministers and army of Dong Wu has been complacent for years due to the peace and wealth. They may not see it but I am afraid in the future if we are not prepared and when Cao Cao does come to attack us, we will lose as we will be unprepared. This alliance is therefore pivotal to our future survival” as ZGL amazed says “You have great foresight. But what is the opinion of your master, the King of Wu?”
So many names! King of Wu lar, Sun Quan lar, Lord Wu lar, Zheng Mou lar… anyway I think King of Wu is correct and it refers to Sun Quan.
Lu Su looks doubtful as he says “I am afraid I do not know what my master’s opinion is. I can never tell what he is thinking”.
So much red tape, so many people to convince.
At Dong Wu’s capital, I assume, Chai Sang, ZGL, Shun and 1 more assistant (I shall call them the trio) finally meets Sun Quan.
I expected a younger looking Sun Quan because the goatee makes Pierre Ngo looks older but I am generally pleased with his looks. He does look like a young lord, a king (not emperor, there is still a Han emperor) and his clothing is more elaborate even if due to budget, just adopt the TVB perspective lens and assume it is sewn in golden threads. Because Shun exclaims the mansion is very fine looking and rich looking since Dong Wu is rich but to my eyes, about the same as every other set.
Sun Quan is friendly but every time ZGL wants to talk alliance, he shifts the topic and in the end finally says “I respect Imperial Uncle Lau, I see his love for his people as an example to follow and so for the love of my people, I wish to continue the peace in my state. You may leave for Jiangxi” and so he leaves. What he means if no, I don’t want alliance because I don’t want to piss off Cao Cao and I see no reason to do just that.
ZGL doesn’t want to give up. He says to Shun “Your 18 stratagems of HK men, one of it.. ngau lan keuk…” as Shun says “Yes, we should do just that! We will force ourselves on him, we will be persistent until he says yes!”
So ZGL goes to see Sun Quan but blocked by servant until ZGL is so frustrated he says “I am sorry” and roughly pushes the servant aside … only 2 servants! as Shun says to himself “My idol is so cool when he is angry!!” and rushes inside and sees Sun Quan..
playing games!! When Sun Quan tries to push them out, Shun who is king of games challenges Sun Quan and he wins in the games Sun Quan is playing until someone announces very loudly “Madam Wu is here!!! Madam Wu is here!!!” as Madam Wu says “You don’t need to shout. I am not deaf” and she walks in and sees Sun Quan having a discussion with the trio and makes it as if it was serious stuff until Sun Quan confesses he was playing games instead of working or studying and he looks remorseful as Madam Wu says “My son, you have so much to learn. You must learn your dead brother’s example in loving your people and governing it. Learn by his example” as Sun Quan says meekly “Yes mother”.
The next day Sun Quan seeks out the trio to play games and Shun introduces card games as in I believe gin rummy and this does not exist back them. One of the card which is King looks like Lau Bei. Anyway Sun Quan quickly catches up and losses to Shun repeatedly until suddenly he wins when he gangs up with the other 2 so that Shun doesn’t win and Shun is frustrated but ZGL says “That is why my lord, it is important we must have an alliance. Like in this card game, Wan Shun may be a stronger player but in the end when us 3 against him just 1, he still losses. The same can be said of Cao Cao” and Sun Quan looks on smiling.
Shun is very impressed with Sun Quan as he says “You know he may like to play all the time, but he is smart. I can see he is also cunning. He learns fast and more importantly he has good behaviour when playing games (as in when he losses he doesn’t throw a fit). If he gets the point of the card game, me losing so many times is no big problem!” but however again they’re asked to leave because Sun Quan does not want an alliance.
So before they leave they decided to say goodbye and meets Sun Quan in the ancestral hall and Sun Quan is giving respect (joss stick) to his dead brother and then says to his adviser pointedly “Remember to tell mother I placed the joss stick today” and he leaves. Someone asks Lu Su “I thought his lordship was close to his brother?” and Shun says “Yeah, I mean if so close how come he made it a point to make sure his mother knows he placed the joss stick? That is so insincere” as Lu Su says “They were very close” as Shun says “How close can they be when he said such a thing?” as Lu Su says “I have seen for myself, the brother were very close and my lord always pays his respect every 1st and 15th of the month, there is no doubt about that” and even ZGL wonders “His behaviour tells us otherwise” as Shun suddenly thinks of something as he says “Didn’t his mother says to learn from his brother? I think I know why he likes to play all the time. Like me, we are so alike. When I was younger I was pretty good at my studies, getting top 3 in my class and good results but he and I suffer from the same fate; an overachieving brother. His was the older brother, mine was my younger brother. When my parents paid more attention to my younger brother and neglected me and in fact compared us constantly, I decided I could never live up to their expectations and so instead of fighting to stay on top when I know I can never be compared to my younger brother, I decided to give up there and then and just spend my time playing. I think this is what is happening to King of Wu” and everyone agrees this must be it and in fact sympathises Sun Quan as they realises Sun Quan doesn’t want this alliance not because he doesn’t want to but because he doesn’t want to do anything important where he will be compared to his dead brother and then to have all his efforts questioned and fail since he can never be compared to his brother.ZGL looks at Lu Su and asks a simple question; “Do you think your master is a capable ruler?” and Lu Su says sincerely “I have served under his lordship and his brother, Sun Ce and I can tell you honestly, his lordship is more cunning and more capable than his brother, that I am very sure”. Shun says “When playing games, I can see he is very competitive. He wants to win”
So Shun devises a way to combine play and to drive home the point about the alliance.
He says to Sun Quan, “We will play a War Game” and they all go “Wor ging?” ans Shun says “Yes Wor Ging, to see who is greater”
War game is those where a few teams play to bring down the opposing teams with paint balls but the way he said it War Game became Wor (me) Ging (great) to see who is greater. The game is played with a few mean in each team, red is Shun, yellow is ZGL and green is Sun Quan and each equipped with a bow and 10 arrows where tip is removed and replaced by a ball of dye. The aim is to retrieve a flag at top of hill or something.
Shun decides to let ZGL and Sun Quan fight it out and when they’re done he will attack the remaining members. One of his 18 stratagems of HK men, that oi Chap sei kai (be an opportunist). So he waits whilst ZGL and Sun Quan fights earnestly and seeing his opportunity, Shun runs out and hits several others but then ZGL and Sun Quan combined powers and take out Shun’s team. But by the Shun is running towards the flag and is faraway and impossible for anyone to shoot the arrow and hit him. Sun Quan however took the bow and hit Shun squarely on his back and Shun in total shock looks at Sun Quan and says “WHAT IS THIS?! HOW CAN IT BE?!?! Test his urine!!!!” as in Olympics doping test. Quite funny reaction. So Shun losses and now it is ZGL and Sun Quan and ZGL runs out of arrows and Sun Quan takes one out but I think he misses. ZGL smiles and says “I counted how many arrows you used, that was your last, you lose” and Sun Quan smiles and as ZGL walks away Sun Quan takes out a hidden arrow and shoots ZGL squarely and ZGL rather surprised as Sun Quan says “Yes I did run out of arrows, except you didn’t see me taking one from my team member and hidden it” and ZGL knows he lost and smiles at Sun Quan as Sun Quan smiles back.
And this is where I feel the scene as in ZGL’s reaction is wrong!! He shouldn’t smile so handsomely and happily, he should smile with a tinge of wariness. No doubt here we see Sun Quan’s competitive spirit, and he is also cunning and smart, in fact smarter than ZGL in many ways when he did what he did with the card games and arrows. He also somewhat plays fair as in card games but will play dirty is he has to. So when ZGL gets hit by the hidden arrow, he shouldn’t be happy like finally helping Sun Quan to break away from his fear of his brother’s shadow and greatness, in fact if I were ZGL I will be very scared. He must realise this alliance is to break Cao Cao’s influence and when Cao Cao falls, then it is between Lau Bei and Sun Quan. Sun Quan demonstrates his ability and for that ZGL should be wary at the very least with Sun Quan and what he is capable of. Because he is a definite contender in future and a difficult one since even Lu Su keeps saying “I don’t know what my master is thinking most of the time” which means Sun Quan keeps to himself, even his loyal ministers don’t know what he is thinking. This kind of man will be a useful ally but also a formidable opponent. So to see ZGL smiling happily to me is all wrong. Not only is this ZGL inept, he has no foresight.
Shun admires Sun Quan and his arrow shooting abilities and I think one of them said “Who was the one who could shoot the arrow at *** distance? I mean you could shoot beyond ***!” and Sun Quan quietly says “My brother”.
And it proves he is greater than his brother. And he didn’t even know he could.
Anyway they’re asked to leave again when they’re stopped and Sun Quan finally agrees to an alliance but as he says “When my brother died, I was still young and I had to listen to the opinion of my ministers. If you can convince them, you have an alliance”.
Lu Su says it is up to ZGL to convince the ministers and as Shun says “Oh yes, the famous deathbed instruction, for internal affairs, seek Chow Chiu’s advice, for foreign affairs, seek Chou Yu’s advice” and he looks at ZGL as if saying he has a tough job ahead.
The ministers, and I think the old one is Chow Chiu looks on arrogantly as it is announced Chow Yu is delayed by floor/rain/something and so can’t be there and so ZGL should go ahead and so ZGL said what he wanted to say. Point is we don’t get to hear but we see the old ministers from arrogant to aloof to listening to nodding and in the end agreeing. In the end from 90% disagree to 50% agreeing. And it all rests now on Zhou Yu.
Finally Zhou Yu invites the trio to see him and the maids are extra diligent and very skilled in serving them as Shun observes “Wow, even the maids are so efficient. Very good service and he seems sincere” but they wait and wait and wait and wait and finally food is presented to each of them and Zhou Yu appears.
I remember the saying in episode 15 about Zhou Yu and ZGL animosity.
“Why ZGL needs to be born when the world already has Zhou Yu?”
Something like that.
All of them are amazed as Zhou Yu explains he is late because he insists on recooking the food to be given to them. He knows Shun likes fish and so he cooks fish. He knows ZGL can’t eat spicy food and so made sure the food ain’t spicy. Etc etc. ZGL is amazed as Shun says “Wow Commander Zhou, you certainly know our taste and made effort to cater to us” as Zhou Yu says “Of course! You’re my honoured guests! It is the least I can do!” and frankly I can’t remember what was said except again Zhou Yu seems uninterested in the alliance and basically shooed them away. But Shun decides to use card games to explain the importance of the alliance and this time we have Shun, ZGL, Sun Quan and Zhou Yu and Zhou Yu losses many times since he is new but he is quick to learn and in the end successfully blocks Shun to let Sun Quan win again and again. Shun frustrated says “Of course I am destined to lose, playing against 3 smartest men of the era” and everyone smiles.
At night, servant serving Zhou Yu asks “Master, why did you say you were delayed by the flood/whatever when there were no such thing?” and Zhou Yu says “I did it deliberately. I wanted to test if this ZGL is as reputed to be and see if he can convince the old timers. If he can’t even convince them, then I shouldn’t be wasting my time with him. But if he can, then there is a hope for the alliance. Everything that is happening now is indeed within my plans…”
Why is everyone is smarter than ZGL now? Seriously, even Zhou Yu is more cunning. No no maybe I should say ZGL is smart BUT Zhou Yu is cunning, so is Sun Quan. I can buy the fact why Sun Quan doesn’t want an alliance at first and I can understand how a card game can bring grown men together like beer and peanuts but the alliance is formed in such an oversimplified manner, it seems rather juvenile. It is juvenile. But I like how all of them are so polite to one another but in actual fact there is a hidden agenda. Everyone knows ZGL’s agenda but so far no one knows Sun Quan and Zhou Yu’s agenda. After all why would they want to agree on an alliance that they don’t need? I can tell you why. Good leaders lead but great leaders have foresight and Lu Su, Sun Quan and even Zhou Yu all of them have foresight. They know Cao Cao will soon attack them because Cao Cao’s ambition is too great. As compared to the stupidity of Lad Choi and Lau Chung, Sun Quan, Zhou Yu and even Lu Su knows Cao Cao will not agree to a truce or alliance; he wants an empire, a dynasty whilst the rest are happy to remain as they are. The difference between Lau Bei and Cao Cao is Lau Bei wants to keep a truce or rather he wants just a small part of the apple but Cao Cao wants the whole apple. In a way I feel very little for Lau Bei in this series. I find him a wuss.
As for ZGL, yeah he did the talking, he plays the card, he stormed into the room of Sun Quan but in the end I don’t see why everyone looks to him like he is reputedly so great when what I still see is a complete dud. Still nothing original. He is the sort where reputation precedes him and in the end just reputation, nothing substantive. Again it is Shun who gives the idea, the solution. But at least ZGL did not have a complete nervous breakdown.
As for Sun Quan, whilst his problem and then solution is oversimplified, the underlying theme is he suffers from the lack of confidence due to the greatness of his brother and his father. I believe that is real. Zhou Yu is shown as someone very attentive to details and therefore such a man is definitely a man with plans and cunning. Luckily he is on Sun Quan’s side in terms of loyalty, if now Sun Quan would have lost his rule. Zhou Yu must have loyally served Sun Ce. You can see the underlying tone of Sun Ce being very great but also the rumours of Sun Quan though young is even more capable. I feel in its simplified naive way, this series shows just that.
Performance wise, finally new characters when I was getting bored with old ones.
The actor as Lu Su did well. He is young looking but I feel he looks the part as in he looks intelligent but not much persuasive power sort of adviser.
Pierre Ngo is one I have been anticipating for episodes! He didn’t disappoint. He looks the part, he behaves the part and shoot me if you will, I feel if ZGL were better written, I feel Pierre Ngo could make a fine ZGL. In fact I would love to see TVB to make a proper series about Sun Quan and see Pierre in it. He is a good actor no doubt. He looks handsome and dignified and sorta kingly with the costume and goatee and you can see his Sun Quan is intelligent and cunning, not like some stupid looking actor pretending to be smart. He looks smart. I love to see more of Sun Quan and again Pierre Ngo did not disappoint. You know now that I have said it myself, no doubt Pierre would certainly make a good ZGL but since ZGL is so stupidly written at this moment, I’d rather he has a smaller role as Sun Quan.
Ruco Chan’s fans rejoice! He looks cunning, he looks smart, he looks like a credible commander even if again without glasses, he looks like a serial killer commander ready to betray Sun Quan! Yeah, still the same problem with Ruco, is that without glasses and with straight hair, he just looks evil. But Zhou Yu right now doesn’t seem evil. He seems calculative but at the back of my mind I feel he never betrayed Sun Quan and so he is loyal and a person so loyal can’t be evil if the loyalty is for the betterment of the empire, and the people. Please, it ain’t the same with the Nazis and I hope you know what I mean. Anyway what I like about Ruco is the way he speaks; crisp and clear. No lazy intonations, no like “WHAT DID HE JUST SAY” sort of pronunciation. A capable actor and he looks the part because the real Zhou Yu was probably younger than Ruco.
My issue with Ruco and Pierre though is the goatee. Sorta too mature looking, too fake.
Other than that I am happy this series is back on track at being entertaining even if some characterisation is still an eye sore. Anyway now I am curious about Sima Yi. Who is Sima Yi? And since this series has already passed the half way mark, what is in store for Shun? Is he still gonna be the ardent loyal follower of the inept ZGL?
And when I say inept, I don’t mean he is completely useless. What I mean is ZGL should be better than what we see on screen today. The fact that he smiled at Sun Quan in such a tender way (as if like oh my, you’re now all grown up with such confidence, no longer that kiddo without confidence) in such an affectionate gaze even if with a tinge of disbelief shows to me the problem is definitely the script but some part of it is Raymond Lam’s fault for not giving his ZGL more character, more personality and a bit more wisdom.
All these character, personality, wisdom I can see in Pierre and Ruco’s performance but please, before you go Ruco for ZGL, let me make it clear; Ruco is absolutely wrong as ZGL. What I am saying is this series depends on 2 main players, Raymond Lam and Kenneth Ma. These 2 shares a huge chunk of the screen time, every episode they’re there either together or separately, so far the fears of Kenneth Ma being boring as Shun or his act getting old and repetitive is uncalled for but my fear is Raymond Lam as ZGL suffering from overexposure and stagnant development in terms of characterisation which was at first going up, then steady, then going down and now back to point A again. That is not good when ZGL is supposed to be the driving force in this series. Not Shun who is an observer but with the things going, Shun is now the driving force and ZGL the one next to him.
This Episodic Thoughts was written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at http://3kingdomsrpg.blogspot.com.
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