Episodic Thoughts: “Three Kingdoms RPG” (Episode 5)
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 apologise if there is any mistake. All opinion remains my own.
“But what choice do I have? 100,000 men against us. It is almost hopeless. But Adviser Zhuge, I believe in him. I truly believe in him. My brothers, trust him! Trust him as I do!! ”
This episode was broadcast on a Friday and I just watched it on a Sunday. Should have watched it earlier to keep the momentum. Anyway in this episode we see the rise of Zhuge Liang’s brilliance and how he won over the generals even if he did sacrifice 200 people which shows he is not above some tactics that require human sacrifices so to speak. This episode we see Shun finally giving up that jilted lover stance and loves his idol more. We see the rise of Kan perhaps but interestingly Lau Bei seems too bland as a leader. Also Cao Cao finally appears and I am pleasantly surprised whilst this episode convinces me further Tavia Yeung has been unjustly miscast and whilst I never liked her much as a personality, she is ok as an actress and to allocate her the role of the so call female lead that is the maid is to me the worst casting decision ever so much so she is so underused not just in screen time (which I am ok with that) but for her talent. Maybe fans should understand one very simple notion; sometimes being the lead isn’t the best because her best role should have been Mrs Zhuge which is allocated to a plainer looking actress that fits the role BUT with a much lesser acting talent that I don’t find her believable as this episode shows to us a side of Mrs Zhuge that even Zhuge Liang didn’t know.
A lot of politics and war tonight, little comedy but there are some so I shall do my best to recap.
Remember Hon gave Zhuge Liang (I think to save my sanity from now on I just write ZGL) his big house and moved to a smaller one to look like he is nice and all? Suddenly Hon appears and just tell ZGL that “I am taking back this residence, as ordered by his Lordship” and of course ZGL was rather surprised and his friends say “But you gave him this place” and Hon says “My place now is too small. As you all know, Wan Shun is being looked highly upon and since we have more important things to do and with more people, I am given my old place back. You’re welcomed to move to my present place now” and I think Shun is there and he looks embarrassed since his name is mentioned and instead of fighting ZGL benignly agrees. So they move.
Shun is sitting at his favourite place under the tree at the courtyard at night and Kan with him and Shun sighs; “I never expected my idol to face such humiliation” and Kan says “I thought you hated Adviser Zhuge? So you must be glad?” and Shun sighs some more “No I do not hate him. I just wanted to show him by rejecting me he has rejected a talent who can help him. I just wanted him to realise he was wrong, but I never wanted him to be humiliated like this. I really never intended for that to happen” and he uses modern lingoes when expressing his feelings causing Kan to feel confused as Kan sighs “Sometimes I really can’t understand your hometown’s lingoes” but Shun’s mind is faraway as he continues to feel bad for causing ZGL to be humiliated by Hon.
Lau Bei comes to see ZGL and he is apologetic for having ZGL to move some place much too small and promises him a bigger place soon. ZGL dismisses Lau Bei’s worries and doesn’t mind the place since it is just a place; work is more important. So Lau Bei and ZGL having a stroll and ZGL expresses his worries of Cao Cao’s advancing army. Lau Bei isn’t that worried since Cao Cao has yet to make a move but ZGL says “He will, sooner or later. Which is why my Lord, we need to strengthen our army. I must suggest that my lord to recruit 3000 strong young men and let me train them..” and Lau Bei seems ok with that and will think about it.
Lau Bei and 2 brothers having a hot bath together, and Lau Bei scrubs the back of Cheung Fei and Guan Yu, Cheung Fei particularly objects to that since he sees himself beneath Lau Bei but Lau Bei says “We are brothers! Why can’t I scrub your back too?” and Cheung Fei says “Alright! Like they all say, we may not be born on the same day, but we shall all….SCRUB on the same day!!!” Everyone laughs and I think Lau Bei says “You have learned too much from our Wan Shun!!” and they all agree with Wan Shun there they’re in happier mood.
Original saying is “We may not be born on the same day, but we shall all die on the same day” which illustrates loyalty and brotherhood. That scrub word is rather funny.
Anyway Cheung Fei feels Wan Shun contributes to the whole administration but “On second thought, Zhuge Liang seems to have contributed nothing. He has yet to prove himself useful” which Guan Yu agrees and Lau Bei says “Actually he has taken to heart the administration and our army. Yes he is young and he has no on field experience but he knows his stuff and he just suggested to me to add 3000 men into our army and I feel that is a good idea” and Cheung Fei says “But brother, even with 3000 men, we do not have enough weapons. What is the point of more men when we can’t equip them all? Isn’t that pointless?” and Lau Bei seems to agree. Guan Yu.. nothing to say.
Why is Guan Yu like yes man? He says nothing, or says little. I find him with as much personality as a log of wood. Cheung Fei has little foresight. And Lau Bei is so easily persuaded other wise, he doesn’t seem to have the strength in character to decide things decisively except he has one good foresight; his trust in ZGL.
Adviser Hon knows of ZGL’s request and is using the sit and wait stance.
Lau Bei meets with ZGL and Lau Bei says “I understand your suggestion and I wholly agree. But since we have no weapon to equip all 3000 men, why not we start with 1000 men?” and ZGL insists on 3000 and they bargain to 1500 and then some until ZGL says “My lord, I understand General Cheung’s worries of the weapons issue. But at a time like this, it is important we have enough men and we shall deal with the weapons later. Let me train them and I shall find ways to equip them soon enough. My lord, please trust me” and so we don’t know what happened next…
Like some market buying fish. Sometimes I feel Lau Bei is just too soft. ZGL is right. Why worry about damn weapons when they need men? We shall know why this major objection later in the recap but at this moment it seems to petty that EVERYONE is against ZGL who seems to be the only one who knows what will happen soon enough. I do pity him.
Adviser Hon finds out ZGL gets his request. At night, ZGL is in his study which seems to look like the old study because I thought he moved house. Anyway his wife comes in, and she looks at the side table and see 3 sets of figurines in 3 sets of different battle formation and his wife could name all 3 and ZGL is impressed and says to his wife “I am now in a quandary. These 3 sets of formation is not useful to our men. I am not sure what other methods to use…” and wife displays her intelligence as she says “Husband, I have read a book about a formation used in Macedonia and I believe it will work for you. It is each part of the men in a square formation…” and ZGL listens intently.
Admirable isn’t it that she knows so much? In part because she is very learned and she also knows I think she mentioned Armenian or something and so she translates books for ZGL so she knows. A lucky man to have married such a learned capable wife. And this scene makes me a little angry because IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN TAVIA IN THIS ROLE!! No offense but Kaki Leung just smiles too much. I just don’t feel she is that intelligent you know what I mean? I know I have always bashed Tavia but I know a role meant for her when I see one. What a pity!! More so of what happened later.. stay tuned.
So ZGL trains the men using that formation and Chiu Chi Lung looks on and sees his men tired and so suggests to ZGL to stop the training. But ZGL looks at the sky and says “It will rain soon and the rain will persists for 2 days which by then the men will lose 2 days of good training. I know they’re tired but just 4 more hours of training” and Chiu Chi Lung reluctantly agrees and shout to the men to keep it up.
Chiu Chi Lung is like severely underused.
Earlier we already met Cao Cao but nothing major to add so I didn’t write. It was a scene where Cao Cao told his assistant to order the I suppose last Han Emperor to sign some edict and the way he says that shows Han Emperor under his total control. Now we see Cao Cao again and he hears of the army training at Lau Bei’s camp. He is already intending to capture one of the 3 major cities (or states or whatever you call them) but Sun Quan is too strong (we keep hearing that! When can we see Sun Quan?!) so his advisers advised him against it. Another city not sure by who and so that leaves Lau Bei. But Cao Cao is hesitant and one of the advisers say “My lord, Lau Bei is just a minor player. He always losses, why is my Lord hesitant? Moreover, his master, Lau Biu is sickly and will not be of any help. I remember my Lord refers to Lau Bei as your equal to be feared…” and Cao Cao says “I have once had a drink with him. I know this man. He may lose all the time but he always bounces back in no time. He is a formidable opponent for that alone” and someone else mentions ZGL’s name but Cao Cao finally agrees to hit Lau Bei at I think Jingzhou. Frankly I am lost to the names. But I do know Cao Cao is at Shun’s hometown aka Jizhou.
I was worried about Law Lok Lam as Cao Cao. He looks worried. Period. But his appearance as Cao Cao convinces me he can play formidable. He does look formidable in his costume and beard. Love his costume. However I don’t like how everyone feared him. I feel it would be a better touch to show they respect him rather than fear him. By the way Ram Chiang is in this scene as well as his adviser. However I was not impressed with his performance; he speaks too loud.
Mayhem at camp Lau Bei, as everyone gets the news that Cao Cao is advancing towards their stronghold at I think Bok Mong City with 100,000 strong men led by general Har Hau Dun. Hon in a meeting together with his other assistant points out to Lau Bei “Now we are being attached. Surely it is because of Adviser’s Zhuge insistence on training 3000 men. We have never offended Cao Cao or given reason to him to attack us. Now we are attacked by 100,000 men! If Bok Mong City falls, we are doomed” and Shun thinks to himself “These bastards. *he named 3 stratagems from his HK Men’s 18 stratagems which I can’t remember*, they used all these 3 against my idol! What a bunch of bastards* but Lau Bei decides they have to fight back and decides to borrow army from Lau Biu which means they have to go through Lady Choi.
At Jingzhou or somewhere and Lau Bei seeks to see the sickly Lau Biu and as usual Lady Choi and her son make up a fuss but at last he goes in after Lady Choi’s very cold reception and we see Lau Biu, very sick. I wonder maybe his wife poisoned him. To cut the long story short, Lau Biu refuses to help Lau Bei. Lau Bei leaves. But Lau Biu expresses his doubt of his decision when Lady Choi says “Why should we help them? Why offend Cao Cao?” and Lau Biu says “If Bok Mong City falls, Lau Bei fails, the next to fall is Jingzhou” but Lady Choi says confidently “I have my ways to make sure we don’t fall. Cao Cao is not interested in us and as long we don’t alert him or offend him, he will leave us alone”
Stupid sei pat poh isn’t it? Cao Cao’s ambition is bigger. He wants to get rid of everyone, unite China and become emperor. Once he captured Xianye and Lau Bei, he will move on next to Jingzhou and what nots. Very selfish and stupid woman.
Double bad news for Lau Bei’s camp. Now they don’t have Lau Biu’s help so as Lau Bei puts it “We are on our own in this” and Cheung Fei says angrily “That sei pat poh is so petty!”. Someone must now lead the army and Hon says “No offense to ZGL, he has little experience in warfare and I have. I propose that I shall lead the safeguard and protection of Bok Mong City!” but ZGL steps forward calmly and says “Adviser Hon and I once agreed to delegate our duties and Bok Mong City is under my care. Moreover I trained my 3000 men, I believe I am qualified to lead them. My lord, believe in me” and Shun being very impressed thinks to himself “My idol is so chok!”. Can’t blame him for saying that!
Lau Bei has to decide. Cheung Fei and Guan Yu both oppose to ZGL being the strategist.
I don’t like the term used to describe ZGL. They say he is leading the army to war. Leading. So that implies he leads, everyone follows. Of course if I were Cheung Fei I too will oppose. He is not military trained. That gives an impression he is the general. I feel the better term would be military strategist without the word leading. Because the general leads, the strategist plans and will draw up a battle plan which the general ..ok.. the general follows but I don’t think ZGL will be standing in the field in front of his men and go “CHARGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!”. But I do understand his role.
Cheung Fei is particularly loud and says “Brother, I will not let my men be led by someone who hasn’t been in war! Why are you so willing to sacrifice the loves of our brothers?!” and Lau Bei in anguish says “You think it is easy to make that decision? To send my men to death when I should make sure their safety? All the years they fought alongside me, you think I take their contribution lightly? But what choice do I have? 100,000 men against us. It is almost hopeless. But Adviser Zhuge, I believe in him. I truly believe in him. My brothers, trust him! Trust him as I do!!” and Cheung Fei is moved and swears he will follow ZGL’s advice even if he is asked to jump off a cliff, he will and Guan Yu promises the same.
And so Adviser Hon hears the news ZGL leads the battle of Bok Mong City. His assistant rushes in with some maps and says happily “Master, I have taken back what is ours; the map for the Bok Mong terrain and steep! That will give ZGL some hard time. And I have spread the words that he is incapable to lead the army, to disturb the confidence of the army” and Shun thinks “Despicable!” as Hon seriously says “Take them back. Stop the rumours” and that surprises Shun as he says “I thought you hate ZGL, why are you helping him now?” and Hon says “Help? I am not helping him. I doubt he can help himself. He has so little experience in warfare, he won’t win this. The terrains of Bok Mong City and Bok Mong Slope is such that the army will have difficulty in transporting food. And when the army is hungry, how then can they fight? ZGL is meant to lose this time and then I will be the one to clean up the mess he creates with his incompetence” and Shun thinks “That serious? Shit!”
I am sure you’re surprised at Hon’s actions, so am I. He didn’t sabotage, he didn’t help. I thought at first how nice, at least he is on Lau Bei’s side until he said what he said about cleaning up mess, standing by the side waiting for ZGL to screw up. I have no doubt of his competence as a strategist but he is malicious in his thoughts so that makes him unsuitable to lead. Hon, you disappoint me. I was hoping you know business is business.
Shun in the kitchen with Song Yau (waste of Tavia’s talent) teaching her how to make a mantau ham burger which will be easier to make, transport and all. He asks if Song Yau remembers everything and she says “Yes but why are you telling me?” and he says “Because I want you to tell this to Lady Lei (Lau Bei’s 2nd wife if Wikipedia is right) whose brother handles the supplies for the army” and Song Yau says “Why don’t you tell yourself?” and he says “I can’t. I am on Adviser Hon’s side so I musn’t make this too obvious” and so Song Yau agrees.
At night Kan eats the mantau burger and loves it as Shun says “This will be what the army at Bok Mong City will eat but not you” and Kan says “Why not me?” and Shun says “Because you won’t be in it. You will be moved to guarding this city’s wall” and Kan is seriously offended and says “Why did the general not want me in the army to Bok Mong City?” and Shun says “Because I asked him to” and Kan asks “But why did you do that?!” and Shun says “Because you were at first assigned to the first line! FIRST LINE! The first to die! If you die who will massage me?!” and Kan pushes Shun’s hands away as he stands up angrily and says “You can’t decide that for me! I want to join the army! I don’t care even if I am in the first line!” and Shun shouts “You idiot! You will die! I just saved your life! or you want to die just like your father did?!” and Kan angrily says “My father died nobly! He fought like a man and died a hero. I too want to be a hero! Even if I die, I shall die with dignity and in war! I will ask to reassign back to the 1st line!” and Shun angrily shouts “FINE! DO WHATEVER YOU WANT! LIKE AS IF I CARE IF YOU DIE!!” as Kan walks away.
Shun meant well but I understand Kan’s point of view. Back in those days to die in the field is like an honour. Something Shun who is a coward would not understand at this point. I wonder maybe this is how Kan rises to prominence perhaps? Anyway this scene I learn a new HK term. First we have chok and we all know chok means poser and that is negative in its meaning. But this series made it to positive my saying chok means stylish, handsome. Now there’s a new word used by Shun and that is Kai. I didn’t know what that means until Kan shouts before he left “You think I am kai?!” and Shun shouts “You’re kai!!” and Kan shouts back “I am not your kai dai!!”. Kai dai means stupid fool and so kai means stupid fool, it is just one half of a 2 word thing.
Army moving out. Yuet Ying is actually very sick but she refuses to tell ZGL. She in fact moves out of the city with the pretense of seeing her parents so ZGL does not suspect anything. When the army finishes moving out, she wants to return. Why? So that she can get first hand news of her husband.
ZGL checking on the army at Bok Mong City or nearby and he sees Cheung Fei eating the mantau hamburger and ZGL says “This is a brilliant idea as food for the army. I wonder, whose idea is it?” but before anyone could answer him some important urgent messenger arrives and triple bad news. “Cao Cao’s 100,000 men will be meeting up with 30,000 more men, intent on capturing Bok Mong slope”.
Same news reaches Adviser Han and Lau Bei and gang. Panic time and even Shun is alarmed and he says to himself or someone “I know how to play the video game but I don’t know the real history!!” and quickly SMS his sister “Tell me quick!! URGENT!! What was the outcome of the battle at Bok Mong slope?” which until the end of the episode we won’t get the answer from sister.
What happened next is war and strategy. I was confused because things aren’t explained more clearly. Moreover this is where TVB should have hired more people because the scene is not dire enough, it is too simple and too much CGI used and even then the camps we see, I don’t think it even represents 100,0000 men. But instead of a recap, I just explain what happens.
Remember 30,000 men on their way to meet with 100,000 men? ZGL’s plan is to send 200 men as sacrificial lamb to push the I think 30,000 men to the insides of the steep to trap them and there Kan and his men will wait until the signal is on and attack. Once they kill off these 30,000 men or some part, the survivors will run back to camp whereby ZGL’s army will await and attack and burn the camp. But the most important thing is for ZGL to take out the 30,000 men first, to disturb their peace so to speak. I think that was what happened. As usual one assistant general disagrees and insists on sending at least 1000 men but ZGL insists on 200 since after all, these 200 men will 100% surely die so why send more? But in the end Guan Yu and Cheung Fei pledged their allegiance to ZGL as they promised Lau Bei to do so and Chiu Chi Ling does the same and so the assistant general also does the same. It sounds horrible, sacrificing 200 men, more so when Lau Bei supposedly so love his men. But think of it this way; either 200 men die or all 2800 men (I assume AGL is using 3000 men or maybe more).
And so that was what happened. Why Cao Cao failed is because Har Hau Dun is too confident so he lets his guard down so to speak. Last scene was ZGL standing on top of a hill as he sees General Har Hau Dun’s camp burnt to the ground. CGI of course.
And so concludes the rise of the brilliant strategist Zhuge Liang. Wonder what Hon will say. I am sure Shun will say “My idol is so chok! Yeah!”.
Seriously, the entire battle scene is let down by the stupid unconvincing CGI and most of all, the severely lack of men. I think at any one battle scene we only see 50 people at most at rotation. So if you are watching this scene, just multiply the 50 people by 10 or more just to make up the numbers. I tell you, I did laugh when TVB dare not even show the 30,000 advancing army, more so 100,000 advancing army. Tell me, how then are they gonna show the battle at red cliff? Cut and paste from the movie Red Cliff?! I swear also the 3 formations in ZGL’s room which his wife introduces to us looks so much like what Takeshi Kaneishiro’s Zhuge Liang saw when he first met Tony Leung’s Zhou Yu training his army. And I remember it was funny how Zhuge Liang says those formations are out of date!! So just suspend your disbelief and assume there are at least 200 men and such.
Story wise, apart from the problematic lack of people in any scene, it is a good episode showcasing how Zhuge Liang builds his reputation. Do remember he made a name for himself as someone very smart but still untested. So this is like his big test and yes he won in the end. So now no one should doubt Chok King Zhuge Liang.
And so the chok chok chok references continues. After the end of the series, I swear, Chok which used to be negative is now the positive. So go ahead, call yourself chok!
Performances wise, like I said I was surprised at how effective Law Lok Lam is as Cao Cao. He does seem like Cao Cao of course compared to various Mainland China production of Three Kingdoms, that is not a fair comparison.
Ram Chiang is here, good addition but like I said, he spoke his lines way to loud. Worst actor at Cao Cao camp is that… the guy as Har Hau Dun.
Now back to Lau Bei camp.
Lee Kwok Lun is a fine actor but I do not like his interpretation of the increasingly inept looking Lau Bei. Of course he is a good judge of talent but he is also weak as he listens to way too many people and fearing of disturbing the peace or offending his men, he makes decision much too slowly. Compared that to Cao Cao; immediate response.
I am beginning to think Guan Yu has so little to do. Savio Tsang as Cheung Fei has a lot of lines and is more prominent. No comments so back to 3 people.
Kenneth Ma continues to be an effective Shun and I really do like how he admires Raymond’s ZGL in his own way. Like a really great fan boy. So again no comment.
Raymond Lam seriously looks tired and a friend says this was during his busiest time; concert, and also Mavis-gate but he looks the part in his wariness although I would wish for more energy. So far no more comments.
Tavia Yeung.. wasted. Absolutely wasted. I know there are Kaki Leung fans who feel she does well. I wouldn’t disagree except I feel a better actress would have given Mrs Zhuge more grace, elegance and brilliance. I won’t normally say Tavia but since Tavia is in here, they should have switched role. Again, Tavia Yeung…wasted. I cringed at how she has to say the lines that the hamburger is delicious when she should be uttering better lines as another character.
But you know what? I think I will cringe more when Sharon Chan appears as the supposed most beautiful woman on the land. This I think is because I was spoilt by the not so great but is better than this movie, Red Cliff and Lin Chiling whom I normally don’t think is all that gorgeous but compared to Sharon Chan, who gives me a vibe of a woman who is loose woman as the Chinese equivalent says; “hau po”. Why is the casting for this series so darn careless? Let’s not talk about the ending spoilers which you will find somewhere (I won’t spoil it for you but if you’re reading this recap at Jaynestars.com, you know where) which will make this series a laughing stock for all the wrong reasons.
So far this episode balances well the humour and dire situations even if I don’t like how certain characters behave. Still a good episode.
By the way I am beginning to like Kan a lot. A brave lad, a very brave lad.
This Episodic Thoughts was written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at http://3kingdomsrpg.blogspot.com.
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