Episodic Thoughts: “Three Kingdoms RPG” (Episode 1)
Three Kingdoms RPG <回到三國>
TVB Series 2012
Cast: Kenneth Ma, Raymond Lam, Tavia Yeung, Sharon Chan, Ruco Chan, and Ha Yu.
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.
“Your knowledge of the era is from that game you always play. In your game, Zhuge Liang can even be defeated by Batman’s whip!”
Missed about 5 minutes and the first scene I saw was Kenneth riding his motorcycle delivering food. Kenneth is Sima Shun, age I haven’t quite gotten it yet but definitely not your young adult. He is a slacker, plays video games all the time and he specialises in the 3 Kingdsoms RPG game. Narrator as in I think Shun himself (can’t recall so I just use the first person perspective) says “Whilst everyone who plays the game of 3 kingdoms will inevitably play the warriors, and I used to prefer those characters too but these days I prefer to play as the strategists. Because wars are won by strategists and my favourite is Zhuge Liang, the greatest strategist of all” and there you see Shun playing as Zhuge Liang (Zhuge Liang here has Raymond’s face! I thought it was rather funny, to see Raymond’s computerised avatar on screen and in the posters as well. Whilst in computing world he and his 2 other buddies whose names I didn’t catch are like 3 Kingdoms RPG experts, in real life, they’re sorta like losers.
At home we find out Shun is the eldest of 3 children. His 2nd brother is a studious nerd who he has not spoken to for 4 years (and they have nothing in common) whilst his youngest sister who has a soft spot for her big brother is a science enthusiast, believing in time travels and stuff. To Shun, being studious and believing in time travels are waste of time. He feels that what he does with his time, that is playing 3 Kingdoms RPG game, going online to go cyber dating and such are his main staples in life. His father (Har Yu) who owns a cafe disagrees and sees his son as someone who is useless, spending too much time on needless things. For income, Shun works as a part time ke-le-fe in a 3 Kingdoms production but even that he doesn’t do well at all. Whilst his mother loves him very much, the truth is his father is right; “You’re nothing but a slacker! You can’t do anything right. You don’t even have a proper job! Your so called proper job is just a ke-le-fe! When are you ever going to work hard, ever?!” but to Shun his father was nitpicking; “You never approve of anything I do! You never support me!”
His father has cause to be concerned. Even during his rather simple ke-le-fe job, he slacks off work. He never takes anything seriously. He calls himself 3 Kingdoms era buff but ALL his history knowledge comes from the game itself and as his father teases “Your knowledge of the era is from that game. In your game, even Zhuge Liang can be defeated by Batman’s whip!” but Shun protests saying “What I know is accurate and true!!” but when he explains the history to his sister, he did include all those power ups and special powers earn, so seriously, I doubt his version too.
Anyway Shun receives an offer to buy over a profitable computer games shop for HKD $200,000 and the owner asks “Are you interested?” and immediately and he and his 2 other slacker friends (who have proper jobs, one is a production assistant and the other a mechanic so technically they’re better than him job wise but to them he is the son of a cafe owner and so a boss’ son and future boss himself) express interest but the owner asks “But can you afford it?” and Shun says “I have my strategy!” and his strategy as he explains will involve persuading his father by way of first asking, then pleading and at last begging.
At home, during dinner, he asks his father; “Father, I have decided to become a boss like yourself! I have a friend who wants to sell me his computer games shop business and it is very profitable. Moreover I am very good at this. Can you sponsor me? Just HKD $200,000” but his father smarter than he is says “I will approve of your ambitions but if you want to be a boss, come home to the cafe!” and Shun shifts strategy to beg “But father, I am not good at that. I am good at computer games, this is right up my alley!” but his father outsmarts him as he says “Don’t use that strategy on me. It will never work. Why don’t you work a decent job and earn your money like everyone else?” and Shun protests “But you pay for *can’t remember the brother’s name*’s every trip and they cost more!” and father says “That is because your brother is studious. He is using those money for good purpose. You just play all the time!” and Shun angrily retorted “You never support me in anything! You always think badly of me!” and both father and son argument escalates as mother screams to them to just shut up and Shun ends the argument as he says angrily “I don’t need you! I will earn that money myself!!” and he stalks off into his room and slams the door. Frustrated, he wonders how he is going to get the money as his friend calls and he tells his friend what happened when he saw a poster in his room where there is a 3 Kingdoms RPG game competition, 1st place is HKD $200,000! And so he joins with his 2 other friends where he plays as Zhuge Liang and does well enough to be the top 4 I think for the 1st day. He seems confident he will win.
Meanwhile here I am a bit blurry as to what happened. He offends some guy who is dating one of the young starlets or RPG game girl. I suspect we will see that guy in the past later on. Anyway not much later he was almost run down by the same guy and so basically everybody knows these 2 got bad blood.
Anyway game continues and to cut the long story short, he was so happy trying to kill off one character, another stabs him on his back and so his Zhuge Liang dies. He losses the competition.
So back to square one.
Back at his friend’s place he sees again that arrogant guy who he offends earlier and with his 2 friends decides to play a trick on him by breaking into his car, use some plaster or something on the interior when one of them pops open the glove compartment and out comes a big bag of pills. Not sure ecstasy or LSD or some drug pill. Scared, they run away and the guy comes back into his car, notices the bag of pills is outside when 2 policemen point their torch lights at him and so he got busted. His big time lawyer’s even bigger time sifu comes and says “There are signs your car was broken into. Could it be someone could have planted those pills inside?” and taking the cue, because he doesn’t want to go to prison for 6 years he eagerly says “YES YES! Someone must have planted it!!”
Police investigates and witnesses say they saw 3 guys broke into the car and they could identify one of them. So that leads to our 3 slacker dudes and each told the truth about what happened. The other 2 got bailed whilst Shun waited for a long time, finally his father ran into the station and says “Son, I am here!” and instead of being grateful he shouted “If you don’t want to bail me out, just say so!” and his father a bit shocked said “You know how many procedure to do? I had to find a lawyer, fill in forms, it took some time and now you’re shouting at me?! Son, you do realise you are arrested for dealing drugs!! You planted those in that man’s car! Why don’t you just admit it, since you’re wrong!” and Shun angrily retorted “What kind of father are you?! My friends’ parents trust them but you, you don’t even trust me!!! I didn’t do it! I didn’t!!” and they were arguing back and forth until the police shouted “Sir, if you want to discipline your son, can you do it at home?!”
Shun never go home. He goes to his friend’s place but his slacker friend says “Maybe you should go home. You need your father now. Lawyer needs money and he has money” but Shun says “No. I don’t want to go home to a father that never believes me.”
I understand the father’s distrust but to jump from computer slacker to planting drugs is a huge jump. Maybe the father should have believe his own son even if he is lazy useless immature ungrateful bastard but he is no drug dealer or whatever. One earlier scene shows how he asks his own sister to cook noodle for him AND then asks his sister for HKD100-00 as allowance, same money his mom gives his sister for her monthly allowance. Yes, our Shun is really really useless.
Anyway he goes back to work as part time ke-le-fe and reports says Typhoon Shark is heading their way. As he rests he got a message from his sister who says police are out to arrest him because one of his friend’s says he was the one who planted the bag of pills inside the car! Disbelief sets in and he calls one friend (the production assistant) who says the mechanic friend’s mother threatens to kill herself if he doesn’t say it is Shun’s plan and then he calls his mechanic friend who says the other friend’s father says will kill himself if he doesn’t accuse Shun. Shun knows then his so called best friends have abandoned him and when he saw police looking for him at the set, he sneaks away and runs away. But since the typhoon is coming, he runs into a cave to hide when he sees some big bubble which he steps into it, admiring the beauty of that bubble thing when the earth underneath him opens up and he falls. Screaming as he falls, he grabs hold of the side of the cliff and suddenly stops and he says to himself “Phew! How on earth I could stop?” when someone underneath him timidly says “Sir… sir.. you’re stepping on me… help… sir..” and he looks down and his fall stops due to him standing on someone’s shoulder and that person is also clinging onto the side of the cliff. He climbs up and is about to run away when the guy says “Sir, please help me.. please…” and he drags him up and sees the guy dresses in ordinary ancient costume of an ordinary person. Shun himself at that time is also dressed as a soldier since he was at the set filming then. The guy thanks him profusely and Shun notices his style of speech is very traditional and he laughs “Hey dude! No need to stay in character all the time! Which production do you belong to? Oh never mind. I need to run! Bye!!” and he runs off as the guys shouts “Sir… wait! Wait!!!”
As he runs, he knows he is lost. He is in some open field when he is confronted by 2 men dressed as again in some ancient costume except they wore soldier costumes, holding knives or spears, I can’t remember and one of them demands “What is the likes of you doing in our territory?!” and Shun laughs very hard as he says “Hey dudes!! Seriously, all these play acting, this is seriously funny!!” when suddenly they charge at him and he realises something is wrong when someone flew out and killed those 2. Shocked Shun says “No no, you’re not supposed to stab that way! You’re supposed to pretend to stab! No! No!” but the man who saved his life turns to him and says “Young soldier, you don’t belong here. I see you’re from *can’t remember the legion/command he was talking about*. Your commander has surrendered to Cao Cao. Your army is lost. Take my advice. Go back to your home, you have no army to go back to” and that guy leaves.
Shun runs to those 2 dead soldiers as he mumbles “Wake up! Wake up! Come on! Cut! Scene is over! Oh no.. they’re dead!!” when the young man he just saved limps to him and says “Heroic sir, I found you! I was gonna tell you there are a lot of oppositions hiding here in the mountains.”
I didn’t catch the term used but I think he meant Cao Cao’s men or some yellow bandit. I really need to read up my 3 kingdoms history.
Shun is still in shock and hears something and runs towards the sound when he sees a huge army charging along as Shun exclaims “Wow, not computer generated at all?!”, being led or may chasing after a man on a horse (probably white horse) when I think the young man says “Oh it is Chiu Chi Lung (Zhao Zhi Lung aka Zhao Yun – the 4th sworn brother always in white on a white horse who later will rescue and bring back Liu Bei’s son to him-I think the scene Shun sees is this very famous story – anyway good guy)” and Shun stares in disbelief as he says “Chiu Chi Lung? 3 Kingdoms’ Chiu Chi Lung?!” and he grabs that guy and asks “What year is this?!” and the guys answers something but Shun doesn’t understand as he shakes him some more “What dynasty?!” and he replies “This is the land of the great Han Dynasty” and Shun in shock looks toward the sky as he shouts “HAN DYNASTY?! I REALLY TOOK THE TIME TRAVEL EXPRESS TO THE PAST! I HAVE RETURNED TO THE THREE KINGDOMS?!?!??!?!?!”
Next episode, no preview since this is same broadcast as HK and in AOD they never show preview.
My first impression?
Love it! I am happy that so far all those pop culture reference is kept to a minimum. The story is fast paced and I like the father and son disagreement angle which shows neither understands the other but the father does love the son but Shun thinks his father always thinks of him badly. But I think the father has cause for concern. Anyway story is for now like bullet train; very fast. Need to suspend disbelief a bit but I think the whole worm hole thing is a possible explanation. In case you were wondering, no he did not enter the game, he actually went back to 3 kingdoms era. And he brought along his his handphone hidden in his socks. Not that it will work but I suppose later on will make everyone believe his story that he is from the future. No doubt he will later return back to present time to right the wrong against him (drug charges – where he may earn some wisdom to fight off the charges) and perhaps mend his relationship with his father when he knows he IS a useless slacker.
So far not much to comment on the story, which is why I just give you the summary, and I am not familiar with the names and all and I realise I am also not THAT familiar with the era when I thought I am familiar.
One criticism I can give is on the production. The past looks cheap. It needs more people, not computer generated people. Just imagine if this was Mainland China’s 3 Kingdoms production with Kenneth Ma as Shun, just imagine how grand that would be. Right now, even the costume looks underfunded. But the atmosphere is the worst; just not enough people I suppose. But then that has been TVB’s way since time immemorial when it comes to such series.
For what it is worth, the 1st episode’s story is intriguing. Performances wise, this has got to be Kenneth Ma’s big moment as he dominates every single scene in this 1st episode.
First of, I may complain about the ancient costume or the atmosphere, I however must applaud the modern day costume on slacker Shun. He really gives me the vibe of a computer game enthusiast slacker useless nobody, and especially his shoes. I love the attention to those details, from jacket to hair to shoes. His computer needs 2 more super wide LED monitors because I believe a slacker such as himself into gaming will invest in at least 2 side by side 30 inches or whatever LED monitors. That would be more realistic and also funny; because it will show that is who he is.
Secondly, Kenneth Ma who really goes all out in this character with his expressions, his delivery of his lines, etc. He is funny when he is not trying to be cute and funny. Because Shun himself is sorta funny to watch even if you feel he is darn useless. Some scenes Kenneth captured the right expression, such as his disbelief as the 2 soldiers were killed, his reaction when he realised he was back in the past and especially his angst ridden scenes with Har Yu who plays his frustrated father. So far from 1st episode I am happy Kenneth shows great promise in this interesting character. However looking at the trailer, I am afraid the story will let him down because of all things, Shun says he wants to change the past. That is a big no no. But I suppose the series will explain that by him changing the past is actually the past itself. That sort of argument.
So far 1st episode is entertaining and funny for all the right reason. Please please keep those smart aleck pop culture references to the minimum, please!
Anyway just an observation. Strange isn’t it that in modern day a total useless slacker would in the end do well in the past as a strategist in one of the most talked about and romanticised period of Chinese history. I am eager to see how the story will justify Shun’s rise as a strategist and I just hope it won’t be stupid. I am hoping for a rather logical intelligent series.
This Episodic Thoughts was written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at http://3kingdomsrpg.blogspot.com.