“When Heaven Burns” Sparks Anger by Referencing Beyond’s Tragedy 18 Years Ago
Although When Heaven Burns (天與地), was ignored by TVB management and was delayed in broadcast for two years, the drama sparked a lively online discussion among netizens. The series particularly attracted the fans of music group, Beyond, due to the story centering around four band members and the tragic death of one member 18 years ago. Allegedly, When Heaven Burns contained heavy references to Beyond and was criticized in drawing inspiration from Wong Ka Kui’s (黃家駒) accidental death while on a concert tour in Japan in 1993.
When Heaven Burns will be broadcast in Hong Kong on Monday, November 21st. Online forums were filled with heated debate over the series, which centered around Moses Chan (陳豪), Bowie Lam (林保怡), Kenny Wong (黃德斌), and an additional friend forming a band, Happiness and Anger, together. While mountain climbing, the men were trapped in the snow and resorted to cannibalism upon one band member, who possessed an illness, in order to survive.
Since the story of When Heaven Burns started 18 years ago, fans were suspicious about the references to music group, Beyond. Netizens analyzed the characterizations, noting that Moses Chan, who enjoyed Muay Thai boxing, bore the shadow of Beyond member, Paul Wong (黃貫中). Bowie Lam and Astrid Chan (陳芷菁) were replicas of Wong Ka Keung (黃家強) and his Japanese wife. Kenny Wong was the equivalent of Yip Sai Wing (葉世榮). Since the characters in When Heaven Burns enjoyed playing in a band, Producer Jonathan Chik (戚其義) invited Paul Wong to sing the series’ theme and ending songs, sparking further controversy.
Accused of referencing Beyond, Moses emphasized that When Heaven Burns focused on the theme of humanity. When it was pointed out that Moses’ character loved Muay Thai boxing, which was Paul Wong’s passion, Moses remarked, “Really? I did not know that Paul enjoys Muay Thai boxing! The story spoke about a tragic accident occurring 18 years ago, which was the same time Wong Ka Kui’s death occurred. It was just a coincidence; When Heaven Burns should have been broadcast last year.”
Since When Heaven Burns will not be broadcast until next Monday, Paul Wong’s manager refrained from commenting whether the series drew references upon the real life experiences of Beyond band members.
Jayne: The controversial “When Heaven Burns” will be airing soon! Although cannibalism is an interesting theme, I’m concerned whether the series will continually live in the past from 18 years ago, with the characters constantly talking about that single cannibalistic event which cause they to question their humanity. Since it focuses on a single tragic event, the concept may work better in a film than a 30 episode series.
Btw, I really like the English title of the series, When Heaven Burns, rather than the boring Chinese title <天與地>.