Currently occupied by the 2008’s The Gem of Life <珠光寶氣>, the next TVB drama to take over the midnight time slot will be a big one—1989’s television classic, Looking Back in Anger <義不容情>.
Starring Felix Wong (黃日華), Deric Wan (溫兆倫), Carina Lau (劉嘉玲), and Kathy Chow (周海媚), Looking Back in Anger premiered in Hong Kong in April 1989 to overwhelming success, breaking numerous ratings records and reaching a peak rating of 68 points—a feat still not broken today. The classic TV series about two tragic brothers had several reruns in the last 30 years, but its last rebroadcast in Hong Kong was in 1998, 20 years ago.
Set in the 1980’s, the story of Looking Back in Anger revolves around two brothers—older brother Alex (portrayed by Felix Wong) and younger brother Ben (portrayed by Deric Wan), who was born in prison. Over the years, Alex watches his brother slowly succumb to greed and power, killing and manipulating his way to the top. Though the overarching story of Looking Back in Anger resembles 1986’s The Feud of Two Brothers <流氓大亨>, the two dramas approached the story in different ways.
No further spoilers will be given here, but there are several key highlights of Looking Back in Anger that is worth noting. First, Looking Back in Anger was the drama that pushed Felix back to relevance—the actor was once considered Greater China’s most popular actor after 1983’s Legend of the Condor Heroes <射鵰英雄傳>, but when Felix considered not renewing his TVB contract, TVB decided to put its resources on other actors. It was after the broadcast of Looking Back in Anger when Felix became the television industry’s most popular star once again.
Second, the drama was credited for single-handedly bringing Deric Wan to unprecedented fame. Though the then-rookie actor was already rising in popularity, it was his villainous role as Ben Ting in Looking Back in Anger that made Deric Wan into a household name. His convincing performance as the show’s main villain made him Hong Kong’s favorite bad boy and overnight superstar.
Another highlight is former actress Yammie Lam (藍潔瑛)—though she had only a small guest role that lasted three scenes, she left lasting impressions on viewers. Her performances can be seen in the first few episodes.
Fourth, the show’s popularity had successfully crossed over to the music industry—opening theme is the chart-topping hit and karaoke gem “Meaning of Life” <一生何求> performed by the late Danny Chan (陳百祥). The song also became the title single for Danny Chan’s best-selling album of the same name, released in 1989. The song has been covered by many artists. The drama’s tie-in singles included the Cantopop hit “A Little Bit Sad, A Little Bit Crazy” <幾分傷心幾分痴> and the Mandopop song “The Role of the Story” <故事的角色>, both performed by Dave Wang (王傑).
The final highlight is the show’s successful viewership ratings—an average of 47 points and a peak of 68 points, a score still undefeated. Nearly half of Hong Kong’s entire population had watched the show live, including millions more from Malaysia and Singapore. It is no surprise to see Looking Back in Anger being chosen by Singaporean media as one of the top 100 most classic Chinese-language shows of all time.
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.