Captain of Destiny <張保仔>
TVB Series 2015
Cast: Ruco Chan, Grace Chan, Tony Hung, Maggie Shiu, Ram Chiang, Elaine Yiu, Joel Chan
Disclaimer: 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 apologize if there is any mistake. All opinion remains my own.
“Matters of the state is not child’s play, father! If you think I have said the wrong things, I am willing to be punished” – Man Ho
Yeap, my reaction for this episode, in a good way! Anyway I didn’t know this series will be on SEVEN DAYS A WEEK!! No rest! Why? What’s the rush? When did TVB change schedule?
Anyway, first have to go through some god awful OTT acting. Not that terrible but just too OTT.
Mui runs out and drinks from the bowl and realised she is facing shocked pirates. Wong Yee likes her since well, she is pretty and all. Anyway she continues running and CPT and gang runs after her. CPT scolds;
Why you all can’t even stop a girl!!
Whilst running the gang answer;
Yeah, a girl WITH A GUN!!
And so she runs through the town, shocked by weird men with big knives (who are about to cut a big fish) and out of the pirate town and CPT gang say they can’t find her, they have looked everywhere on the red flag ships (CPT ships) and CPT asks;
Did you check Wong Yee’s ships?
Black flag ships by the way. Pause.
I must say, the location is really really nice. Probably filmed during winter? Because trees all without leaves. Anyway can’t fault the location ot set pieces or even costumes.
Wing Yee is angry that he can’t get his profit and blames CPT. His men say they have some pretty girls and so he looks forward to all that.
Mui enters his ship and hides, for some reasons unknown decided to change clothes and CPT enters and peeks and sees her changing. So skinny. Interestingly for someone with a reputation of debauchery he looks away. Hmmmmm… she realises someone is looking at her and scream and then they hear Wong Yee enter and so they hide and CPT helps Mui to get her gun and then knowingly give away her position and Wong Yee captures her and says since she is here, might as well he enjoys her. But CPT knocks him and she hears her phone rings and quickly reaches in and sees her sister’s name and takes the phone and frantically says hello hello…
I like Grace, I feel she has huge potential but this is probably my most painful moment of hers. It is OTT with heavy breathing and it doesn’t feel natural, She is better as being angry than being excited and all that. OTT is also a form of bad acting.
CPT throws Wong Yee overboard and on the way into the sea he knocks Mui and along with that her phone and Mui jumps in to get her phone, couldn’t and CPT jumps in to save her and they both disappear and Wong Yee surfaces and doesn’t know who knocked him over.
Both CPT and Mui reach the shore and Mui blames and berates CPT who promptly pushes her into the sea to “douse the flame” in her. Well he’s no gentleman and Mui remains pissed off.
And so we leave the uninteresting OTT first half and then we get the more interesting 2nd half.
Admiral Fok Yee Tai is having a very bad day. Not only did he lost hundreds of men, he lost a very expensive ship. He screams why every men dies but not the admiral who escapes with heavy injury.
The admiral with the missing eye (from last episode where Maggie lets him go) is going to hang himself when Fok rushes in and he blames himself for what happened and will kill himself but Fok angrily pushes him around and shouts his death is of no use to him since he still has to report to the Emperor and he has no good news but more bad news. Scheming one eyed admiral says why not use the plan before?
We can round up those fishermen by the villages and just say they are pirates and parade them to Beijing as our answer? After all pirates have no identity, no one will know!
And so he agrees but one eyed admiral wonders if it would be too much to take so many, by the hundreds but the scheming Fok says slyly;
Do you know even though for so many years I have been taking so much money from the funds and yet I am still the most powerful men in the city? I have a powerful backer…
One eyed admiral knows and names Concubine Yim and then shuts his mouth.
Suddenly episode shifts to fight club and Ruco.. I mean Man Ho…
is sweating, bleeding and fighting with a dude, losing and when everyone buys for the winner, he beats the crap out of the dude who we later know as Siu Fu I think. Anyway Man Ho wins and then as if not enough to satisfy the lusty female fans everywhere, we have a BATHTUB SCENE!!!
But Man Ho’s back is not nice to look at. Full of scars, this is a man who lived. Anyway during bathtub, we know he and Siu Fu are both pretending to win/lose and is in the fixed game. Siu Fu says they earn a lot, half of which is Man Ho’s but Man Ho says all is Siu Fu’s as he needs the money to pay for the maid contract of his fiance. He is ever grateful.
Lunch and conversation continues. Siu Fu was a sailor in Fok’s armada when he tried to expose Fok’s lies and was fired. He knows Fok’s style and when he sees men in chains being paraded, crying WE ARE INNOCENT!!! but no one cared and throws stuff at them, he got so angry he wants to deal with Fok his own way. Mam Ho stops him and says he can’t deal with a man like Fok. Siu Fu is still angry and says;
That is why I came to Beijing. I want to seek justice and to expose his corrupted ways. I heard one man will be able to deal with him; 11th prince, Prince Man Ho. He is famed for his tough stance on corruption. I heard he will punish whoever, he doesn’t show mercy to those who doesn’t deserve it.
Man Ho has a small smile on his face, since he knows who himself is.
Siu Fu leaves to deal with his fiance matter and a guy approaches Man Ho and nearly exposes his identity. Anyway the guy says all plans are in motion. All 8 censures have put forward their letter of complaint to the Emperor on Fok and says this time Fok won’t be able to escape. Man Ho looks determined and says;
No one can deal with you, but I can and I will.
In the palace, as a gift to all lusty men everywhere and every palace scene we have an obligatory concubine taking a bath with rose petals and all. A maid brings in a perfume which she wrongly names and here we meets Elaine Yiu as Concubine Yim, emperor’s most beloved concubine and she tersely tells her maid that is a perfume and she will need to upgrade her knowledge.
And scene ends, abruptly.
Kahing the emperor is hearing the lies from Fok who asks for $10,000 to pay to killed sailors as compensation and Emperor looks up and angrily says;
You have been taking money from the funds, now you will not even leave dead men’s money alone?
Naturally Fok is shocked and says whatever said of him are lies but Emperor names his wrongdoings, throws him the documents from 8 censures and demands an answer and Fok has no answer and emperor is about to do something when Concubine Yim enters and basically guilt tripped the emperor into forgiving Fok and Emperor angrily leaves and kicked Fok and Yim looks at a relieved Fok. Later they two have a meeting and he is her uncle and he is also afraid of her and Yim feels…
I am the Emperor’s most favourite concubine, we are both powerful people in here, so no one would mess with us but who will….could it be… him?
And here we see Man Ho and his 14th brother of the same mother, not sure his name yet entering the palace for some discussion and 14th suspects it is about the upcoming birthday party but Man Ho thinks there is something bigger brewing and he smiles confidently.
Quite a confident and arrogant man.
Emperor is feeding bird’s nest to the sickly Crown Prince who is always sick and the emperor urges him to get well soon so that he can share his father’s burden. The Crown Prince feels regret for causing his father worry and is apologetic but Emperor is only worried and takes no offense.
Next we have an amazingly difficult scene to recap, simply because wayyyyyyyyy too many names to remember. All the sons, with names starting with Man XXX and ranges from prince no. x to prince no. xx so frankly, I won’t recap their names or numbers since I can’t remember. The princes refer to each other by the number.
By the way, just because Man Ho is 11th prince, he is probably not the 11th son. Qing emperors only take into account those who lives I suppose beyond infancy so he probably had more sons dying and Man Ho may be further down the number. The Crown Prince looks youngest of them all.
Man Ho hears the princes conversation and basically they all have problems and they all takes bribes from Fok and all are pissed that Man Ho is rocking the boat. Man Ho strolls in and offends everyone when he uses one of the prince’s analogy on a rabid dog (Man Ho) biting on a victim (Fok) when he says some dogs are worse; no sound and then bite or something like that. Basically all are about to argue when emperor, crown prince and Yim arrive.
The emperor wants to hear their opinion on the piracy problem and none of them could give any good idea and the crown prince is too sick to talk before coughing when emperor asks for Man Ho and Man Ho walks to the front and basically says;
We can’t fight the pirates if we ourselves are led by a corrupt and inept leader like Fok, He must be punished, this is the way to unite our armada and only then can we fight the pirates!
Emperor looks guilty and looks at an angry Yim and when Man Ho continues on the Fok argument, basically he shuts Man Ho up and says he will with Fok later and by himself and Man Ho understands and shuts up. Emperor asks for more opinion and no one says a thing and Man Ho basically says the problem with fighting piracy is the disunity of the armada. Whenever the pirates are beaten they run to another sea which is under a different authority and so suggests uniting the 3 provinces under one commander of one huge armada and the emperor seems to like to idea until Yim states the last there was such a powerful position it was Yongzheng time and it was Nin Gang Yew and we all what he did and what happened to him!
I can’t remember which 3 provinces and will name them when I do hear them again.
So the princes begged the emperor to not create such a position so as to curb the ambition of one person aka Man Ho who wants to control the armada. Man Ho is pissed and basically names each prince and says he wants to recommend that prince but the eldest closes his own chances by saying whoever has that position is someone who covets the power and all. Another is a womaniser so surely he can ask his mistresses aka prostitutes to seduce the pirates and win the war. Another is a gambler and so why not gamble this one for the win. Another has no opinion and follows the wind and so is suited for a life on the sea since wind carries him to wherever the wind blows. The emperor shouts;
ENOUGH!! 11th! You need not insult your brothers just to show how good you are. You are saying you are the man best suited for this job! Well, you need not insult your own brothers, and discard with brotherly love!!
Man Ho has had enough and bravely stands up to his father and says my chosen quote. Emperor so angry he wants to scold some more when Crown Prince stops his father and says Man Ho just has the best interest of the empire in his heart. Father then looks at Man Ho and says tersely;
You will be the commander of the 3 counties’ armada and you will fight the pirates.
And Man Ho swears he will win, if not he will bear the punishment. As father, Yim and Crown Prince leaves, Man Ho calls for his father who basically ignores him. Before that, when father looks at Crown Prince, he says worryingly;
Son, you better be well soon, you will need to inherit my crown
Meaning to say he knows how ambitious Man Ho is and sees his own son as a threat.
Siu Fu and wife is waiting for the man who helped him but doesn’t know his name. Long story short, he knows he is Man Ho 11th Prince and Man Ho asks him to go to Guandong with him to help fight the pirates. He agrees. And then they go to Fight Club where Man Ho spends his days fighting stress and have a good fight. Siu Fu did ask why Man Ho want to take on a position no one wants to take and Man Ho says it is because he likes to suffer. Funny.
Back at home, their mom visits and it is Susan Tse. Anyway mom advises man Ho to just wait his opportunity, not to offend too many people but Man Ho asks;
Mother, do you want me to be as useless as XX who spends his days gambling or XX who spends his days in a prostitutes den?
GOOD POINT!! Man Ho is not that sort and so his mother is resigned to the fact that her son is ambitious and wants to do something with his life. But she did say whatever he do, his father will never look at him the way he wants him to. Man Ho looks grave and says;
Why does father hate me so much? What did I do wrong?
Maybe he is too smart that the emperor fears he will usurp the crown prince’s position. I bet crown prince will die and I wonder who will be the emperor?
Anyway last scene which has nothing to do with next episode’s contents, we see Man Ho and CPT clashing on a ship, same scene in episode 1.
Ruco Chan did not disappoint from the very first scene. He quickly sets up his character and the sort of man he is. He stands up straight and speaks regally. He is forceful and he is determined. I can’t fault his performance until he falls for Grace’s character and I will start wondering are there no other women?
And I can’t understand why can’t they cast someone more famous and well known for Siu Fu’s character instead of this guy who is so not believable and so unmemorable? Where is Jonathan Cheung when you need him?
Elaine Yiu is in a plum role, unfortunately her acting, whilst improved so much is still rather predictable. Her character’s niceness or evilness will influence how she utilises her eyelids and how much she drags her words. More evil means much slower fluttering of eyelids and sharper shorter sentences. More nice means faster fluttering of eyelids and more slurred speech.
The rest no comment. Same old for Grace who is OTT everywhere and a total mess and Tony who is an absolute miscast.
The pirate town is impressive. Some looks real location. The costumes are ok, most Qing budget goes to Elaine’s costumes but since it is winter time (I think since there’s fur), the fur is used but the fur looks recycled, looks cheap and looks ready to cause itchiness. In other words, boring. The hair is super boring and feels like a helmet. But none worse than the princes’ costumes. They all look more like merchants than princes meeting with their father where they will need more better costumes. Man Ho’s costumes is ok but doesn’t look expensive. Again looks more merchant than prince like. The pirates’ costumes fare better.
I am just curious about Concubine’s Yim’s character. I assume the empress is dead so she is next the most powerful. Even Susan is not as powerful despite having TWO sons whilst Yim doesn’t seem to have children yet. I am however not believing that Jiaqing is such a wimp, after all he dispatched with He Shen in real life. Moreover even if I despised Empresses In The Palace for its depiction of the emperor, even his most favourite who is backed by non other than Nian Geng Yao (aka Nin Gang Yew aka the brother) Concubine Hua never said a word about politics. What she did in the bedroom influenced his decision, without saying a word. So when Yim said so much, technically someone can tell her to shut up.
Anyway Man Ho’s idea is good that is having one commander for 3 provinces that will then control the armada of all 3 provinces. As in better communication. After all the pirates united under the 7 seas banner, so why not the Qing army? By the way armada as in navy fleet. But I find it not very believable that such great power is given to a prince with ZERO navy experience. Or rather he himself go fighting when probably he has a consultant; a more experienced one, like how CPT in real life was when he surrendered, like how Admiral Zheng He (Laksamana Cheng Ho) was. That sort. But then at this age our Man Ho is still unmarried, childless and so anything can happen. I just wish for once TVB gets it right with the wives and children. And there is a maid who falls for him and from pictures he marrying her in western clothing. Absolute and utter BS. That I absolutely hate. You can be historically fictional but at least be logical.
I am also curious why the father dislikes this son other than he feeling threatened for his favourite aka crown prince. But if crown prince dies, clearly there must be someone to take over, if not him then who?
Interesting second half but I dread the bastardizing to come.
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 1
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 2
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 3
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 4
This commentary is written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com and was originally posted at www.p2e-cod.blogspot.com.