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.
“I have nothing more I wish to say … I .. really have nothing more I could say .. nothing more ..” – Man Ho
Four episodes of pure heaven for me, because a large part is on Ruco and some are on another actor I am interested in, Joel Chan who didn’t disappoint. I don’t think this series is remotely interested in developing the story arc between Man Ho and Mui, in fact it is episode 17 now and no sign they will ever meet. These 4 episodes showcases some great moments for many characters, and even one with is so similar with Yong Zheng Wang Chao, except much more idol worthy (Ruco!!) and much more simplistic. The way how Man Ho so trust Wong Yat Hin beggars belief and a great suspension of absolute faith. How easy it was for the pirates to sneak into the army camp is another frustrating moment for me. Why bother waste fire power and ships when they can just sneak in? Why Fok is still alive is making me wonder, and why the emperor act the way he does is making me feel this is drama for drama sake. The only person who makes sense is Man Ho and even he is subjected to some moments where I wonder maybe the script writer just decided to go juvenile. No no, it is Ruco Chan who saves the day with his portrayal of an increasingly desperate prince. Even how he won over his men is too childish. No no, it would be Fok who is childish. This series needs only Man Ho’s story to flourish as it proves, why bother with the time traveling when in the end it isn’t even first perspective story any more? This is supposed to be Mui’s perspective but we have anything BUT her perspective. I hate how the writers try to make the pirates cute. It is a slap to my face as a woman to watch those scenes. There is no reason to make them nice or the Qings bad. Just tell the damn story. But I am happy at a mere suggestion of Mui’s parentage which explains her skin colour. So thank you TVB for at least doing something reasonable.
This is gonna be a long recap or maybe short, since I can’t remember the details except for many tears by men and the abuse of poor Siu Fu. These 4 episodes require a lot of suspension of logic and reason but most of all, very few scenes of Grace so some may be ready to open that champagne and sip on your glass as I recap what is mostly the naval army’s perspective.
But it does prove one thing; Kelly Fu is so touchy feely with Ruco (sure nothing’s going on?) and Ha Sim is rather useless as how much help she can give. She is really really just a maid.
They feel they have won and so returns triumphantly, with their women waiting eagerly which seriously makes me wonder are all of them suffering from Stockholm syndrome? Mui waits tearfully when they return carrying a body and saying things like “Oh how young he perishes still calling your name” and so Mui thinks he is dead and she cries and h isn’t and she slaps him and let us skip all these ok? In a banquet he asks her to marry him, promises he will love her for-eva!!! and she says no and runs away and CPT in shock cries his heart out by the sea. And she wonders in a cringe worthy dialogue;
“Why can’t I love him? It is in this ancient time I find a man so brave to reveal his heart to me and yet I denied him the one thing I can’t give him. Why can’t I be in love with him and just stay and accept him? Why can’t I?”
At the palace, Yim is pregnant. Same time crown prince begs his father to strip him of his crown prince title and find a new crown prince since realistically he is dying of TB I think. The father is most reluctant. As news came of Man Ho’s failure, the brothers, the emperor, thee two wives and Eunuch Lai in the room and basically the brothers all had a go at Man Ho. But the emperor was too saddened by the crown prince’s condition to notice. He was busy mumbling why a good kind hearted son had to be so sick, why kindness is not repaid with kindness when Yim just told them all to back off and the emperor absent mindedly left whilst the issue of punishing Man Ho is pushed back.
Tung Suet asked Yim why let Man Ho go and she says she has no beef with Man Ho, just his mother and since she now needs an ally or the sake of her unborn child, why not extend him help this one time? She seems pretty sure she will get a son.
Everyone hates Mui for rejecting CPT and so they tod her to get lost. Even Kiu says so, even CPT begs Mui to get lost because he is getting drunk all the time thanks to her rejection. She refuses because she needs the cyclone to get home so in the end she stubbornly refuses to leave even if she does look at him with puppy dogs eyes. o CPT says fine, she gotta be initiated as a pirate to stay and so she must be part of the crew in some pirate stuff. They set sail and Mui says she won’t kill, maim, steal or even rape or plunder, she will be a kind hearted pirate and so they laugh and say they just need her to steal the emperor’s robe at the naval base. Ahhh finally, she will meet Man Ho, right? WRONG!1
Man Ho at home, dejected at his humiliating lost and I can’t remember what happened except CPT could easily smuggle himself in and create such a diversion and makes known to Man Ho he wants to get the emperor’s robe and so Man Ho told his men to protect the robe at all cost because if not, death to them all since emperor’s robe is like so important, which makes me wonder why don’t he just wear it? Long story short, Ha Sim is the last one standing and tries to protect the box with the robe in it and CPT forced Mui to stab Ha Sim who promptly fainted and Mui thinks she killed Ha Sim but she didn’t because the knife is retractable and Ha Sim just fainted and they opened the box, and….. they flaunt the robe for Man Ho to see and Man Ho is like how they got the robe and goes to the hiding place and finds the robe there and actually it is a trick by CPT to find out where tyh robe it, that robe they had was fake and so CPT and Man Ho fight and lots of slow mo and posing and all and I was just annoyed how the pirates could get into naval base so easily so why bother with 600 ships when 5 or 6 men can just get in and wreck havoc over a robe. Anyway CPT got away with the robe and once again humiliating Man Ho. Meanwhile Kiu finds Mui and tells her to leave so that CPT could be human again and be whole again and so she leaves and meanwhile CPT has had his fun and said this won’t be the last time Man Ho will see him and the next time he will not come for the robe but for his head and leaves and in the end the robe is hung up high with some humiliating slogan by our Scholar Suen insulting Man Ho how easy it was to get the robe. Around the same time Man Ho’s conniving brothers arrive to see the mess but Man Ho is too disturbed by what CPT did to notice any of them. Anyway Man Ho and gang left the base since it was breached.
Rewind a bit. How the brothers reach there is like this.
Again they bring Man Ho’s failure to the emperor and before that Yim also wonders where her position is until Eunuch Lai reminds her that to ensure her unborn son will be the emperor, must first cultivate the image the emperor loves and the emperor loves the crown prince because he is kind and so Yim must play the part of a kind hearted would be empress dowager.
So when Man Ho’s brothers all ganged up to push the father to punish Man Ho with death, and then Shun begging emperor to not kill their son and instead give him the medicine for his Malaria, the emperor was so affected by their arguments that he lost his temper big time. He blamed Shun for Man Ho’s failures or rather he berated Man Ho for his failures and he wonders why he shouldn’t punish Man Ho and yet he angrily berated the 3 sons (Man Ho’s brother was especially quiet) why they are so cruel that they want their own brother dead. He angrily cries;
“Do you all not have brotherly love? Why must you all want him dead?! I have so many sons, so many sons and the one who is kind and thoughtful is the one dying and you, the rest are heartless. Why do I have sons like you? Why? Why is my kind son dying and yet you all, you all..”
Yim knew her time was then so she rushed to the emperor and asked permission to speak and the emperor told her he knew she would want Man Ho dead but Yim said;
“No your majesty. No, I am pregnant …”
Emperor looked shocked. But he already knew she was pregnant in previous scene. So here is a mistake. Previous episode also another mistake when Man Ho called his father “Fu Wong” which is different dynasty, should be “Wong Ah Ma”. Sometimes the emperor alternates between “Ngo” which is I for commoner and “Jam” which is I for emperor. Very messy dialogue. Also Man Ho is like the non promoted prince. Maybe “Bui Lap” aka Beile is such a nice sounding ranking when it is lowest. Come on, he has his own mansion, he is commander of the navy, he should be “ye” or lord by now!
“And I learn that I must be thoughtful. My unborn child influenced me to do good things, to have kind thoughts. I have done so many bad things in the past, I regret them all and for my child, I will no longer be that person anymore. Your majesty, forgive 11th Prince and send him medicine.”
The emperor was shocked to see her change in behaviour and said to himself;
“My unborn son could be so kind to influence his own mother?”
Yeap, into the trap he fell. So she is to give birth to sickly looking Daogguang? So he orders for medicine to Man Ho and warned Shun to advice her son to buck up because this will be his last chance. Brothers look disappointed.
And yet next scene the father secretly met with them and sent the 2 most difficult ones to the naval base to keep an eye on Man Ho and punish him if Man Ho did wrong. He did this because in previous scene he looked at his sickly son and said to himself “I will have to protect you” and when his confused sons asked how come now change of heart he just said “One day you will understand”.
I guess I do. To keep them busy fighting. He is afraid Man Ho being the most capable one may want to usurp power from either his most beloved crown prince or unborn child but more like for the crown prince. He really loved his crown prince. He knew the others are not capable so I guess this is to create tension and keep them all busy. I suppose Kangxi, he is NOT. What a convoluted plot at this point with the conniving father, conniving sons, and the pirates seem like such a happy idyllic family.
The rest of the recap is really about Man Ho knowing he needed one special weapon to destroy the pirates and he needed the cannons from the British armada.
I thought his ships have cannon so what’s so special about gwailo cannons?? I don’t get it. I thought he would equip each sailor with a gun.
The idea is ok except the way he goes about it frustrates me because the execution is as sloppy as it is exceedingly silly. He got the idea of finding an interpreter in English to negotiate a transaction…
Here I thought Mui will come in handy and she will be his interpreter. Let me just clarify; at the end of episode 17 also Mui has yet to meet Man Ho and she is just lurking around doing basically nothing and the story is not even from her perspective anymore.
He was told to find a man named Wong Yat Hin who can speak English and has close relationship with some captain or admirals on British ships.
Cue, we get introduced to Wong Yat Hin who so happens to be Ha Sim’s uncle whom she has not met since she was a child where she was orphaned and he took care of her or rather she sew to take care of him and he placed her with nunnery because she chose not to go to prostitution den and then she often heard of his stories where he opened many businesses, failed and last she heard was him selling slaves to Penang (Yes, Malaysia) and the ship sank and all died. So he was alive and somehow a man as smart as Man Ho just trusted him. Ha Sim did say her uncle can sweet talk anyone and get anything he wants and he can also be your worst enemy so you want him as your best friend. Man Ho visited Yat Hin and saw how he conned businessman knocking on his door for money with more time to repay the money and Man Ho knew he was the man for the job. Yat Hin tested Man Ho’s patience by acting rudely but in the end agreed to help Man Ho buy the cannon (operative word, singular I think) and Yat Hin said he knew a Robertson who he survived the shipwreck with for 1 week marooned on some island drinking each other’s piss. I think that part is true but Robertson actually lost the war against the spanish but stashed away the cannons somewhere. Yat Hin wanted $300,000 and Man Ho immediately said yes.
Why he so trusted Yat Hin is called a leap of movie magic faith because I see nothing in Yat Hin to convince me he knows what he is doing. So just assume he knows what he is doing. So he goes to Macau and finds Robertson who was later arrested for dealing in Portugese territory and will be hanged. So now Yat Hin had to bribe everyone to save Robertson because Robertson refused to tell him where the cannons are until he is saved. And he met Suk Kwan (Mandy) and these two were probably the most interesting pair so far. She wanted to con him but he was way smarter. So he insulted her as some whore, she threw alcohol on his face, he threw back and said he had stopped believing in the feminine wiles since he was a young man so he wasn’t stupid. For money Suk Kwan agreed to help him but said she will only lend her services and not her body and he laughed and insulted her;
“I doubt I can get anywhere with your body!”
Man Ho waited at base for news but all he got was Yat Hin needed $50,000 more and he had to stretch all he had. Siu Fu delivered the money thinking Yat Him was spending all on whores and so he insulted Suk Kwan and guess what? Siu Fu didn’t deserve to be slapped by Yat Him, pushed to kneel and to apologise to Suk Kwan. Well he had to and so he did. I thought why? Why insult Siu Fu? Yes they needed Yat Hin but he wasn’t wrong in what he said even if he was wrong. I dread the next episode where Siu Fu and Yat Hin pats shoulder and become friendly because it makes no sense. Siu Fu must hold a grudge against Yat Hin. Anyway Suk Kwan was so touched she slept with Yat Hin and she told him her deepest desires;
“I only wish for 3 things but I know I won’t get them from you. But I thank you for giving me a glimpse of what could have been. First, you have already did it for me. I always wanted to see how those mandarin wolves look like when they’re on their knees saying sorry to me. Second, I want you to buy my contract and give me my freedom. Third… I want to you marry me with all the ceremony of a legitimate wife…”
But she knew he won’t do the 3rd so she rested her head on his shoulder and was just happy for the moment. The significance of the 3rd wish is she is a prostitute and rarely a prostitute is ever the first legitimate wife.
Unfortunately Yat Him wasn’t successful and needed more money and so asked for $50,000 and this time it was Shun who sold all her jewelries and then borrowed from other concubines for that money. Man Ho was getting desperate. Ha Sim delivered the money because she wanted to ask her uncle how much more. But she found him arrested when he tried to bribe Fabio the chief police who turned out to be the fiance of a woman who rode the same ship that sank because Yat Hin overloaded it with slaves and so it was from the start a trap to get Robertson and Yat Hin. Now both were to be hanged and Yat Hin told Ha Sim to rush back and get $50,000 more because even if he was to die, he will get the prince his cannon.
Meanwhile at the naval base a huge festival is coming and yet Man Ho didn’t even have $500 to buy stuff and Fok and his brothers were just waiting for him to fail and Man Ho almost begged them to help when Siu Fu arrived with a bag full of money and he earned those in the fighting pits. The sailors and the 2 camps were very moved by Man Ho’s gestures and began to see Fok as the sly one. They were more encouraging to Man Ho’s predicament when Ha Sim rushed in and told Man Ho what her uncle said and that even if they were to rush to save him, he would be dead by now. Man Ho knew all was lost and Fok and gang laughed happily but not the sailors. Festival time and they said good words about Man Ho and encouraged one another and said Ma Ho was a man who was true to his words, so if he said he could find cannon, he will, even if he can’t, they were willing to die with him fighting the pirates and win! Fok was discouraging them when Man Ho arrived and seemed like a humbled man when he read his lists of wishes where he promised to get them new weapons, new uniforms, more funding but the men wanted him to say more, but he could say no more, even Eunuch Lai (who was there because he was tasked with delivering the medicine) and Ha Sim begged him to say more and he became quieter and quieter and said my chosen quote. Fok laughed himself silly, so did his brothers and Man Ho was then so silent. and still as he felt he had lost everything when his other captain rushed in and cried;
“A letter from Wong Yat Hin!!!”
Everyone rushed to read and Yat Hin declared his gratefulness for Man Ho’s trust in him and he bought them the cannon! Everyone rejoined and Fok and gang was dejected and Man Ho quietly left and Ha Sim followed.
Meanwhile, how did Yat Hin saved himself and Robertson?
Truth was it was the end of the road. Suk Kwan found out the money he asked for will be her key to her freedom but Suk Kwan promised to save him and so he told her to open a pouch he once told her will be the name of the person who can save him. He hanged a lot of pouches on the window with bells, each with name of a person he must bribe except for the last one which he said he won’t use until he had to.
She opened it and it was her name and the method was to bribe the executioner, an Indian fella who was crazy about Suk Kwan and the bribe was her body. So she slept with him…
Here I applaud TVB! You see the significance? Yeap like what I said at the beginning this will tie in nicely how come Mui looks foreign and darker skinned! Very good call, at last something intelligent in this messy plot.
He saved them by rigging the hanging podium and all that stuff I won’t explain. And she did it because Yat Hin promised her he will marry her as his legitimate wife. Even if he didn’t she would have done it anyway. She was in love with him.
Man Ho stood alone at the top of the fort and Ha Sim quietly observed him when he tearfully cried and laughed and was brimming with confidence again and took a huge flag and swish around and cried out his favourite slogan;
DESTROY ALL PIRATES!!!!!
Even Ha Sim was tearful.
So.. will Man Ho and Mui meet? Or won’t they?
Look, these 4 episodes proves Ruco Chan is TV King. Period. Unfortunately the story, the execution, everything else requires a huge leap of faith. Let’s not talk accuracy but let’s talk logic. Joel Chan is the next best thing in these few episodes. He was wonderful, but his Wong Yat Hin should have been given more time to develop and I would love to see Man Ho having a BFF in a properly developed, written and scripted Wong Yat Hin. Imagine the CCTV version of a friendship between a cunning merchant and a proud prince and how the proud prince is humbled and the cunning merchant found his patriotism and loyalty and selflessness. But this ain’t CCTV and so all we have is a rushed job. And even in rushed job, Joel Chan proves he has mature as an actor. He really can be devious, despicable and yet likable and relatable. His chemistry with Mandy Wong is sizzling and Mandy hardly is ever a notch above zen. Ruco also was just masterful even if his last scene was a bit OTT to my taste.
The problem now is this series tries hard to make the pirates likable. So as a viewer whose side am I on? Man Ho doesn’t come with any background info why he hates the pirates so much. We just assume it is because he loves the common folk and he hates anything that destroys national security. But why not show us more? Build the background for some personal stuff, you know what I mean? For the pirates, what they say and talk is so different from what they do. You can’t reconcile those two. And so in the end for a viewer who is the villain? Fok? The princes? Because the bombshell is Man Ho and CPT are probably brothers and so what if they are brothers? So they team up against a third villain but who is the third villain?
Can this series work without a villain? Nope. Because it will show respective party as being particularly unreasonable, like Man Ho and his dislike for the pirates. I hate the scene where CPT made a mockery out of Man Ho not because Man Ho was made into a fool. He wasn’t but it showed how easy it was to breach the naval base and so why bother doing it with a war when espionage will work just as well?
And what is the Emperor thinking? And Yim? And everyone? Where is this series taking us? What is the direction? Because I am at a total lost what it is trying to do. Mui no longer has her perspective and hers is biased because she spent so much time with the pirates so if she kisses Man Ho, I am wondering will that be a kiss for kiss sake?
Then there’s the costars. I am sorry to say I feel absolutely disappointed with the costars. The girls are not helpful, except for Suk Kwan and there seems to be this innate notion in this story that women tend to be the sacrificial lamb with the amount of attempted rape and rape and molestation and what nots. Suk Kwan is a strong girl and is useful but the rest are just bystanders doing absolutely nothing, Ha Sim included. This is a men’s series and I don’t mind it at all but even the men are pretty useless except for a very very few.
I don’t get where this series is heading. The acting for some is superb and that is why I closed one eye but the story is seriously flawed. I still enjoyed it all when I stop asking why Man Ho so trust Wong Yat Hin and why can’t Man Ho officially buy the cannons from the brits like any trade. And how many cannons did..
Note : Yat Hin promised Robertson $100,000
plus $50,000 and another $50,000 (I assume Man Ho did not pay this sum)
could get them?
And Man Ho promised also house lar, mansion lar, even 4th rank official lar.. did he have authority to do all that since in prince pecking order, he is at the lowest in his father’s heart?
- 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
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 5
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 6
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 7
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 8 to 9
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 10 to 12
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 13
This commentary is written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com and was originally posted at www.p2e-cod.blogspot.com.