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.
“Miss Chu? Don’t call me that … call me sister in law” – Suk Kwan
Episode 18 was filled with first rate action with CGI that I am very impressed with considering it is TVB. Episode 19 was filled with comedic moments thanks to Joel Chan and Mandy Wong and I find them very compatible as well as one funny couple. Overall a very enjoyable 2 episodes but unfortunately Tony Hung disappoints in acting dept by being not enough and Grace for being too much. Finally Mui meets Man Ho and you can start counting how many women will drop into his embrace from now; I will give you a clue; the number after 1. Also a new character this late into the series but again not complaining. As predicted, Siu Fu did exactly what I said and yes we get the pirates’ perspective so this is my new theory; CPT is NOT long lost prince but rather Man Ho is long lost commoner and will combine power with CPT and pirates to fight the evil Qing army. So ok maybe I mistaken poor women’s story who were all kidnapped but technically saved by being kidnapped. And since pirates were given such a sad sob story, my guess is bye bye Prince Man Ho and hello Mr Man Ho.
I dread the final act of this series. I’d rather it is just Joel the merchant and his tale with Man Ho the proud prince.
But seriously, 2 thumbs up for the action!
Buoyed by his own confidence that he just made the prince sacrifice a lot (not mentioned how many) fleet of his ships, CPT plans to go all out to attack the naval base. Ha! Why bother? Just smuggle in and wreck havoc?
Anyway back at naval base. Man Ho wants to give Yat Hin a hero’s welcome but Yat Hin is missing. Ha Sim runs to Man Ho and says her uncle is back and tired and resting his head on the table. Man Ho is so moved by the difficulties that Yat Hin faced, he rushed to cover Yat Hin with his own cloak like a grand gesture which it is what it is and Man Ho cautions even Siu Fu to be quiet so that poor tired Yat Hin can rest when Yat Hin suddenly springs up and says cheerfully;
“Didn’t I tell you I will succeed? Didn’t I promised you I will get you your cannons? I will never let down a friend, ever”
Hmmmm when did they become friends? Anyway Man Ho is very grateful so yeah, they’re kinda like friends. And as predicted, Yat Hin teases Siu Fu and says surely Siu Fu doesn’t bear any grudge for what Yat Hin did, like you know, greatest insult to a man with pride like slap him, make him kneel, make him say sorry to a prostitute… Siu Fu being thoroughly simpled minded says of course not. Oh come on! Siu Fu should bear a grudge! Whatever Yat Hin did do for Man Ho, what Yat Hin did to Siu Fu was uncalled for. So anyway he reminds Man Ho he promised to give him the admiral’s mansion and so Man Ho says yes he will and Siu Fu I think or someone mentions Fok has to move out and Man Ho says with great disdain;
“A small man like him should move to a small room. I have exactly the place for him at the base and I am sure in light of what happened, he hardly has any right to complain”
Did I mention Man Ho is also a very strict man? Once you get in his bad books, very difficult to get yourself out.
And so Fok moves out, crying that he will suffer with his fellow sailors so this is no big deal and Ha Sim and Yat Hin laugh looking at Fok being humiliated. Ha Sim reminds Yat Hin about Suk Kwan and his promise to marry her but Yat Hin has no intention of marrying Suk Kwan and says he will make it up to her in other ways.
Suk Kwan is busy packing,happy that she will soon be free and will be married as legitimate first wife. Her best friend asks if she really loves Yat Hin since they each do so much for the other and in a way Suk Kwan does admit yes but more importantly, she says to herself;
“When I became a prostitute, I told myself no matter how many men I will cheat and lie to, no matter how many men’s money I will earn, one day I will find one who will marry me as his legitimate first wife.”
Which is why she refused to marry any man asking her to be their concubine. Anyway letter from Yat Hin arrives, with it is money for her freedom and a short poem which basically says;
“A girl pines for the marriage;
but the man will not be able to fulfill her wish”
Something like that lar! She is in total shock, walks in rain and feels cheated, feels like her world comes crashing down and she promises herself;
“Wong Yat Hin, you promised to marry me and you have broken your promise. I swear it, whereever you may be hiding, I will find you and I will make you marry me as your legitimate first wife!”
I think this is one role I like Mandy in even if even in her most desperate and all, she still manages to sound so calm which is my criticism to her. Her face is emotional, her body language is emotional but her perfect Cantonese intonation and the way she speaks lacks that emotional depth. Seems too much in control. But I like her Chu Suk Kwan who is very very determined. And I feel she is in love with Yat Hin and of course Yat Hin will never marry a prostitute as a first wife. They make a funny pair and is probably the most interesting pairing in this series amongst all bland pairings.
Mui is wandering aimlessly, I am still not sure what is her plan. Well her plan is to find a cyclone and she is looking at her ipad, looking for cyclone within the year and a half. I am not sure how long she has been in that time, I am not sure how many times she has used her Ipad, but I want that Ipad. You know why? So much battery power, that’s why. And I HATE IT when she starts talking to herself in cutesy way like a total idiot. I know I know, she is new, she has great potential, she should be given a chance to prove herself as her boyfriend reminded us not so long ago but the problem is she is the lead actress and she is in a lot of scenes and she is helping to destroy the dignity of this series’ performances, even if half of it is not her fault. Her character is absolutely pointless at this point. Anyway, she sees Suk Kwan who is looking for the naval base and is it still winter? Like this the LONGEST WINTER EVER? I know it should be cold, some scenes I see Ruco’s breath which means it is cold. Anyway, she rushes to great grandma and calls great grandma and at first Suk Kwan doesn’t recognise her but when she does, Suk Kwan decides to exact revenge on Yat Hin and tells Mui a deep dark secret of the Qing navy (when she hears Mui is also close to CPT the pirate); they have bought western cannons to blast the pirates to smithereens. Suk Kwan will only say the world’s vilest man told her this secret and what she does with it is none of her business. And so she leaves. Mui follows the Qing army and yeah, two huge cannons being escorted and Mui knows it is the truth.
I can’t remember how but somehow Mui finds CPT and gets on his ship. She warns him not to attack and explained why to the point she begs him and said don’t be so childish, just because she rejected him doesn’t mean he can be so reckless and he refuses to listen, more so the news came from some unknown untrustworthy person until she keeps insisting and he says fine, they will wait until nightfall, as in wait until the Qing can’t wait and they will make a move.
Night time. Man Ho wants to lure CPT out and so he says he will take a ship out wearing the yellow robe. One ship sets sail and bravest eunuch on the ship and they all go teasing and all and we see a figure in yellow robe and a banner basically declaring the pirates and cowards and of course CPT took the bait and shot an arrow at the figure and the men all cried OHHHHHHH PRINCE IS DOWNNNNNNNN and CPT thinking he won pushed ALL ships forward but actually it was a straw man and Man Ho is waiting on the hills with the huge cannons covered and some men also waiting elsewhere and just waiting for CPT to come within the range..
He got TWO western cannons I think. Huge ones but looks so light because aren’t real cannons. If you’re wondering they have cannons what! Yes they do but as in all insinuation for Chinese vs gwailo, chinese cannons are much smaller and shoots shorter whilst gwailo’s cannons are HUGE and shoots farther. Ok, fill in your own puns.
CPT is hopping mad and once within sight, Independence Day! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Pure 20 min? 25 min? Pure action stuff as Man Ho was unrelentless and kept firing and firing and firing and CPT sees every ship got hit, all dying and all and father’s ship sunk and the horror has yet to sink in when he stupidly declares they must push forward to the shore as safest bet to escape and I was like wow genius, you’re getting even nearer to the firing range and indeed, push forward and now smaller cannons go boom boom boom boom and not just that, the 2 warring camps combined and let’s assume there is thousands and tens of thousands of sailors all hiding in the bushes now unleashing their arrows of fire and all can shoot long range and if they don’t get hit by long range cannon balls, there’s short range cannon balls, there’s drowning and in the end arrows and whoosh whish swish ish and many many died and strangely not one arrow bloody hit CPT who stands there like a log in total shock realising his arrogance as led his merry men of pirates to their deaths and Mui cries with him, holds his hands as he tearfully and in shocks says to her;
“I should have listened to you… I am so sorry.. I should have listened to you…”
and boom boom boom boom and swish and boom and basically it was persistent until Eunuch Lai says Man Ho better hurry up and finish them off because the mist is coming… and indeed it came and one arrow is released and as CPT looks at a tearful Mui in the most unnecessary cringe worthy scene, arrow strikes him (ahhhhhh why not her!!!) and he faints and mist descended and that’s how CPT escapes but not for long.
Man Ho decides once they make a move from the mist he can hear them because you can imagine a lot of broken down ships and all so if they set sail they will bump into other ships and make sounds. For Man Ho, it is not over yet and he declares;
“Fan Lau Gorge will be the burial ground of CPT”
P/s I think it is Fan Lau Gorge. Can’t really remember the name but this name seems to stick out in my mind.
Celebration all round, even Yat Hin is happy and everybody feels at last justice is served.
Meanwhile CPT is not dead (sucks big time!) and there are only a dozen people left and I suppose thousands are dead. CPT begs for forgiveness and they don’t really blame him. They all await for morning to come where they know they’re doomed and Kiu advises Mui to jump into the sea and swim away but Kiu refuses. Then our pirates narrate their stories, why they hate the Qing so much.
Sing saw his entire family murdered by Qings who just wanted to round up fishermen to tally the number of pirates and claim glory. He somehow escaped.
Suen is worse. He was a scholar and won first place in state examination. Was kidnapped by Yat who wanted to make him his advisor and when he refused, Yat let him go only to return to find his wife hanging on the fort gate and he was branded a traitor. He didn’t even dare to save his wife’s body until Yat came and retrieved the body for him and gave her a decent burial.
Kiu was worse. Yeap, she too has her story. She was a little miss in a reputable family. On her wedding day, Qings dressed up as pirates came to kill everyone and loot the place. She was kidnapped and for several years was a sex slave to the Qings. A horrifying scene was included with her looking terrible and under a blanket, lost all hope when Yat came to attack the place, room on fire and she just smiled weakly and he saved her and later married her.
“I didn’t know pirates are not bad people…”
“Who is good, who is bad? Not all Qings are good, not all pirates are bad. Each and everyone here were persecuted by the Qings, who would want to be a pirate? We hardly had any choice. They pushed us to this, we became who we are because of the injustices they did to us”
Mui cries and decides to help them.
She tells CPT her plan; she sees the sail thing and says she will use it, climb up, destroy the cannons and create a diversion so they can escape. She cryptically says;
“Perhaps this will be the end of the road for us both. From this day forward, you will go your way and I will go my own. Po Tsai, I always wanted to say this to you; thank you for loving me so whole heartedly”
And so she sets sail and CPT waits for the signal, she climbs up, takes out her gun (she found her gun before the while massacre) and for someone who cries when stabbing people, she does not hesitate to shoot the young Qing sailors. She shoots like a dozen and destroys one cannon. So easy. She feels hatred for the Qings. I wonder if she has an opinion on anything that is not one extreme to the next because these Qings are NOT the same Qings who raped pillaged and plundered. Anyway Man Ho hears something, runs out and CPT makes his escape at the signal and Mui turns and sees Man Ho and is shocked;
Man Ho orders for her to be killed when BOOM! Explosion and she is flung towards Man Ho who by now is a pretty good catcher of women flying towards him and she faints and he looks at her and goes.. I don’t know? In love? I hope not. Because this woman just killed dozens of innocent men, and Siu Fu was almost one of them.
Next episode, which I consider as next scene, I expect to see Man Ho and Mui and guess what? Nothing. This series is really stretchiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing the meeting between them both. But not so bad; because most of it is on the cute bickering pair.
Yat Hin awakes in the big mansion and has new beautiful furniture and sees his friendship with Man Ho as a gain financially.
How come we don’t see daddy’s perspective of Man Ho’s major super duper win? Why? WHY?! I wanna see daddy go speechless. What about bros? I want to see bros humiliated! I mean Man Ho did what generations of admirals before him couldn’t; almost total annihilation of the pirates!!
Anyway Yat Hin welcomes his sister to his new home. Yes he has a sister, interestingly and sister has some illness who suffers from maor panic attack and will scream and scream. So annoying. Why lar this disease? But brother loves her very much and she is dressed so well. So you can imagine how well he treats his own niece eh? Because Ha Sim never had those. Poor Ha Sim. And suddenly got a sister.
Anyway he and sister go shopping when Yat Hin hears a familiar voice and it is Suk Kwan who is asking a scholar to write a summons against the vilest man, Wong Yat Hin who promised to marry her and abandoned her. Yat Hin got angrier and angrier as he goes closer to her when he shouts her name and she sees him, forms a tiny smile and says;
“So you finally appear eh?”
And Yat Hin shouts;
“What do you think you are doing? If you do all these, there goes my reputation!! Are you trying to ruin me?!”
But Suk Kwan reminds him he promised to marry her and he says he can’t marry a prostitute and he had repaid her and she says she has sacrificed for him and he runs. Yeap, he runs away and it is funny to watch as she runs after him and she stops in front of the magistrate court and threatens to strike the big drum (as a signal that someone has a case to report) and when he says he won’t marry her and she says she has done so much for her and that is it because she is a prostitute therefore he thinks he can bully her and use her and abandon her since no one ever wants to be a prostitute and he still refuses and she is about to strike when mid air she stops and we are shown he was hugging from behind and gently says;
“Ok, I will marry you, give you your big red litter and as my legitimate first wife”
So she gets fitted in red qipao, got into a red litter and she is so happy when she is locked inside and carried to a nearby cliff! He basically says he has granted her all her wishes and so she should leave him alone and he will never marry her when she escapes and hanging by the branch by the side of the cliff when the whole litte fall to the bottom of the cliff and Yat Hin thinks he killed her and cried;
“I.. I didn’t mean for you to die! I just want to scare you a little!!”
She hears everything.
At home and at night, Yat Hin burns offerings to her and says;
“Here, your servants and your mansion. Fine, I will marry you. Consider yourself Mrs Wong and enjoy your wealth and status in the afterlife but please don’t come back to see me!”
Sister sees what is going on and is curious what is happening.
Next day Yat Hin has to leave because Man Ho demands he finds someone to write a full account of the great battle so he has to go and leaves his sister alone. Suk Kwan is nearby spying.
Sister alone, carries out vases and pushes them to the floor and screams. She is trying to control her panic attacks and Suk Kwan knows what is going on and when the poor girl screams again and again and one push of the case… no sound and it is Suk Kwan holding the vase. Sister recognises Suk Kwan and Suk Kwan introduces herself and sister says… “Miss Chu” and that is when Suk Kwan says my chosen quote. This is one very persistent woman and I gotta say, I like her for it.
Next episode, Man Ho orders Mui’s skinny neck to be chopped as she looks at him defiantly.
Now tell me, HOW ON EARTH she falls for him?
And at episode 18, finally they meet and then nothing. So late into the series. By that time she should have formed an opinion on the Qing. I suppose now she will see saw between two men and two opinions or maybe she will persuade Man Ho her opinion is the right one.
Frankly I don’t care about her or Man Ho and her. These 2 episodes are very enjoyable because;
1. epic battle scene and for TVB standard this is the best I’ve seen ever.
2. I like both Suk Kwan and Yat Hin’s story even if in the end they’re not absolutely relevant to the story of Man Ho and the pirates, at least some comic relief
3. Ruco’s performance was fantastic in the battle scenes, he showed he has the aura of a general (as I’ve said before in 3 Kingdoms RPG) BUT I will have to say; his aura somehow doesn’t match the situation. Let me explain. He acts regally, in a regal way, in a regal setting. His every movement, every step shows a man of nobility. But everyone else doesn’t share the same focus. I feel like I am watching 2 different series, and each series 2 different segments. The rest doesn’t have the ancient setting regal feel. It is like only Ruco gets what is expected. The rest seems just like child’s play.
You gotta contrast Ruco and the gravity of his every pose, action, expression with Tony who should have that moment where he is so burdened by his guilt, that the realisation that “shit! I screwed up big time” where his tears or would be tears signify a man who is at once humbled as he is defeated. Much like how Ruco was except with a streak of stubbornness. I get why Raymond Wong was cast as CPT. He would have milked that scene where he looked at the total devastation around him, that look of utter horror and his tears of not frustration or anger or disgust but the fact that he has led his men to their untimely death. Tony couldn’t show that on his face. He just looked shocked but Raymond Wong who could emote all sorts of emotions whilst eating a piece of soy sauce chicken will be able to emote whatever I just said. And I can’t stand how he was jumping around like a frog when he feels taunted. Sorry Tony, but you failed big time in pivotal scenes.
Same goes for Grace. Ok she was ok in those quiet silent crying moments but the moment she opens her mouth to speak, it is almost always too much.
Seriously, it should be about balance but like how Man Ho was hitting those pirates ships again and again and again, some acting in this series is seriously like how unrelentless the bombing and arrows and all that in here. Just too much and too many and too OTT.
Best performance though is the CGI. I like it.
A pity the casting is not given more thought.
And some part of the story too. I am under no illusion whatever strategy seen in here is child’s play. But it works and for the most part, very exciting to watch.
One thing though which annoys me. When CPT was struck with arrow, that was the end of episode 18, we see flashback of Mui asking her superior about what happened to CPT and it was made into like a legend, like no one knows. Come on lar! Qing wasn’t that far away historically and do a google lar! Well documented isn’t it? What lar! I am more interested to know what happened to Man Ho historically even if no such prince!
Anyway let me prepare you for the huge possibility of how CPT and Man Ho reconcile, how Man Ho sees the POV of the pirates. It will happen and when it does, let us all get ready with our eggs and throw them all at our telly.
Right now this series lacks POV. Never really knew why Man Ho so hate the pirates, we are shown the pirates’ POV but so limited. Like I said previously, with no clear villain, am I suppose to hate pirates or Qing army? Can’t hate pirates since poor Kiu went through hell thanks to those Qing army but we know Qing army are not all bad. If this series’ message is Demi Gods and Semi Devils, sorry lar, stories are not done well. I still feel this series would have worked excellently WITHOUT a time travel twist because right now the least perspective I get is Muis. Well she at least gotta kiss Man Ho. That counts for something.
- 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
- Episodic Thoughts: “Captain of Destiny” Episode 14 to 17
This commentary is written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com and was originally posted at www.p2e-cod.blogspot.com.