Kenneth Ma Slammed As Too Old to Play Video Gamer in “Three Kingdoms RPG”

The premier of Three Kingdoms RPG <回到三國> has generated lively discussion among viewers, with much criticisms and dissatisfaction. Kenneth Ma (馬國明) was heavily slammed his role. In the series, Kenneth Ma portrays a frivolous and impetuous gaming addict, who accidentally travels back into the Three Kingdoms era. Viewers blasted Kenneth for being too old to portray this character. 

Protest by Ron Ng’s Fans  

In the original sales presentation clip for Three Kingdoms RPG, the cast initially included Ron Ng (吳卓羲), Steven Ma (馬浚偉) and Power Chan (陳國邦).  Ron originally played Kenneth’s character, Steven as Guan Yu, and Power Chan as Zhuge Liang. However, the actors in the sales presentation have been changed entirely when official filming started. Ron Ng dropped out from the series and was replaced by Kenneth Ma.

After the first episode of Three Kingdoms RPG was aired, Ron’s fans displayed their dissatisfaction and criticized Kenneth for being too old to portray a video game addict. Kenneth was blasted for looking haggard and unable to portray the lively character.  

One netizen commented on Weibo, “Kenneth is almost 40 and he has to act like he is in 20s! It’s so unconvincing!”

Another fan also angrily wrote, “Kenneth is so lousy in this show!  He is so fake in his expression and his emotions are exaggerated!”

Ron’s fans also felt unfair that their idol was ousted from the series. A fan wrote, “Give me back my Ron!”

Criticisms Countered with Praises

Despite negative comments, there were also many praises for Kenneth. One netizen wrote on Weibo, “Kenneth is simply too hilarious to watch!” Another also wrote, “Kenneth is too awesome and cool. He is even better than Louis Koo (古天樂) in A Step into the Past <尋秦記>!”

Although the series’ producer, Lau Kar Ho (劉家豪), had left TVB earlier this year, responded to the slamming, “I had intended to use the original cast of The Mysteries of Love <談情說案> when filming Three Kingdoms RPG. Kenneth’s role had already been modified. He portrays a gaming addict in his 30s, and not a young lad.” 

Series Also Blamed for Poor Visual Effects

Three Kingdoms RPG also drew criticism for its visual effects. Many viewers compared it with the mainland China’s television drama, Three Kingdoms <三國>. Netizens commented that the visual effects of the mainland version was more spectacular, whereas Three Kingdoms RPG was merely “child’s play.” Some netizens even mocked that the visual effects of A Step into the Past which was filmed 11 years ago was much better!

Lau Kar Ho clarified that Three Kingdoms RPG was supposed to be a light-hearted comedy. It has a completely different style from the mainland television drama. 

Excellent Ratings Despite Criticisms

Despite drawing negative reviews, the premier ratings of Three Kingdoms RPG averaged 30 points. The peak rating reached 34 points, drawing approximately 2.18 million viewers tuning in Hong Kong. This is by far the highest rating of a premier series broadcast for TVB.

Kenneth Ma was primarily slammed in the premier broadcast. The next most anticipated character to have greater screentime will be Raymond Lam (林峰). Viewers will be keen to see his depiction of Zhuge Liang, the most accomplished strategist in the Three Kingdoms era.  

Source: Ming Pao

This article is written by Stella for

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  1. I think Kenneth is a good casting choice. Who else can play this type of role? Bosco Wong would make the character a little too sunny….

    1. i think bosco would suit this role quite well… like the role he played in burning flames 3 (encore) was hilarious!! kind of like a useless son haha

    2. Bosco looks drugged. He looks young even if he is right age. I just don;t buy him as some strategist. I am sure this series will move away from the comedy later on. You can’t make an absolute comedy out of 3 Kingdoms.

      1. Yes, I sense that episode 3 wasn’t as hilarious with all the pop culture references as the first two episodes. Curious when Tavia will appear.

    3. Kenneth is indeed a better casting decision than Ron Ng or Bosco Wong, but he’s still way too old for his role. It just comes off as unconvincing, and a bit ridiculous to watch. The writers should have tweaked his character a bit to match Kenneth’s age more.

      1. Producer said 30s. 30s can be early 30s, mid 30s. If late 30s a guy still act that way, he is completely hopeless and story wise would have no redeeming factor. So my guess is early 30s. And Kenneth looks young for his age so I can accept early 30s. Late 20s is pushing it.

      2. i’m not really concerned about kenneth playing a young cus i think he can play it off pretty well… frankly, kenneth suits this role quite well but i’m just saying that bosco wouldn’t be all that bad for this role either
        LOLOL and funn what do u mean by bosco looks drugged??

      3. LOOOOOL yeah i notice that too o.O

        but IMO, still hot 😉

      4. If hot Bosco with hot Ray next to each other won’t they spontaneously combust?

      5. Funn,
        “If hot Bosco with hot Ray next to each other won’t they spontaneously combust?”

        Raymond Lam and Kenneth Ma are pretty hot together. Similiar body build. I noticed this already in “Mysteries of Love.”

        Kenneth is suitable for Shun. He has a silly side that we don’t often see. Kenneth may not be silly in real life, but he has a humorous side and quick wit, similar to Wayne Lai, which makes them good in comedies.

        I notice Kenneth and Wayne’s comeback lines in entertainment news TV clips and they’re pretty quick. Next thing I would like to see is Kenneth Ma host “Miss Hong Kong Pageant.” I think he’ll do a fine job!

      6. Raymond is at least a head shorter than Kenneth actually. I was quite surprised at how short Ray is or how tall Kenneth is. But Kenneth has always been well built.

      7. @Funn Lim LOL true that 😉 and i was also surprised by the height difference!!

    4. Oscar Leung :). First choice. He looks young and he can act funny without overacting.

      LF isnt a bad choice. Bosco, too. Ron has the card from me due to the 2R fandom in me. Wong Cho Lam? Vincent Wong? For the young guys their images pop up.

      And Chan Wing Hong (is his name so?) can, too if he is promoted. He stole the funny scenes from.MM in eps 2

    5. Ron Ng would be the best choice. Shame he is not in it.

  2. i think hes nt too old as its said the characters in his 30s.

  3. I agree with you Jayne. I don’t understand why rons fans are protesting. Sales presentations are subjected to change. Plus, I cannot picture ron in a comedy…ron would not be sunnny enough ha (i am a ron fan too so im not bashing on him whatsoever.)

    1. Ron did very well in a comedy series… “A Chip Off The Block” and “Men In Pain”

    2. agreed. i cant really imagine him in a comedy… the only comedic role i ever liked played by ron was the role he played in triumph in the skies

    3. Ma Ming definitely suits the role better than Ron as the latter would come across as being too unnatural in such a comedic role. I have yet to laugh or appreciate Ron when the role needs him to be funny (sorry Ron’s fans), he just looks too stiff and wooden to me. Partly it’s because he hardly smiles even in real life. He’s better in dramas in my opinion.

    4. Ron’s acting might be so-so but he looks suitable for the role in my opinion. After eps 3 I think MM is getting overact in this one. Once again, he is forcing himself to be young. The last time is in the series with Roger Kwok.

      1. How is he forcing himself to be young? He is an immature fan boy in his 30s. What is so not right about that? I’d rather an unsuitable look who can act (because looks can be adjusted) than someone who can’t act but looks the part. Because the latter I can stand for at best 2 episodes but at least someone who can act I can stand longer. BUT I will stress Kenneth Ma looks the part. His acting to me is so-so (but that is because I have high expectations), and his expressions is ok in the context on what Shun is going through.

      2. The way he acts. I guess he has the pressure to act immature when he isnt. I dun expect much from MM but he did eps 2 better than 3.

  4. He may look older than 30 but I feel he is rightly cast. Because his character will surely change into a strategist himself and can you see Ron or Bosco as a military strategist? I can’t. Kenneth at least can look smart in that sense. Why he is slammed as too old is because his character is childish and silly. Maybe stretching it a bit, but even if his character is 35, there are video game addicts who are 35.

    Steven Ma as Guan Yu will be a miscast. He should be Zhuge Liang. Power Chan is a good actor but he would be a miscast as Zhuge Liang. He can be one of the generals. Ron as Shun may be good for comedic part but when he is an adviser or a strategist whether against or for Zhuge Liang, I am sorry to say which part of Ron is believable as someone that smart? Kenneth can play noble when he wants to. Let him finish with the silliness and perhaps then the series will settle down to something that fans will see it isn’t all about the comedy.

    1. I agree however with the CGI being lousy. But the lousiest is the fact it doesn’t feel like wartime, there is no dust, not enough people. That is why Mainland China 3 Kingdoms if combined with this RPG would have been a knockout. TVB can’t even squeeze in more extras.

      1. haha like i said above, i duno why but i think bosco would fit this role well… i think he’s better at these roles than the role he’s playing in witness insecurity

      2. This whole drama was filmed in Hong Kong. It will never be epic.

        I agree. I’m really disappointed that TVB didn’t hire more extras. They had to CGI the whole battle! Pathetic.

      3. The most people I see was in War & Beauty but even then in the middle they began to trim away the extras and left with essentials.

    2. As other readers have pointed out, there are 35-year-old video gamers. Nicholas Tse was one earlier too! There are also 30 to 50 year olds who attend anime cosplay conventions…many people have passions they have carried for years as a kid, so I don’t have problems with accepting that our time is not always spent on “productive” interests.

      However, the characterization of Kenneth’s character in “Three Kingdoms RPG” was exaggerated a bit more for comedic effect. There are slackers in real life, but perhaps not in such obvious manners.

      It is not the habits of Kenneth’s character as a video game addict that I have problems with, but are his lines written to be fitting for a 35-year-old man or does he sound naive with high school humor? If the latter, then it is the scriptwriter’s fault.

      Personality-wise, I find Kenneth to be a good fit for his video game slacker role. From heartthrob doctor (The Hippocratic Crush), to cut-throat killer (Tiger Cubs), to video game slacker (Three Kingdoms RPG), to rich heir and lawyer (Silver Spoon, Sterling Shackles), Kenneth is pulling out all his acting chops this year! I appreciate that he has become such a diversified actor…he’s quite believable in most roles he portrays!

      1. His acting is not perfect, I am sure if there is a better actor suited for the role that other actor is better. But right now he is the best choice. I still find him a good actor but he is nowhere great. He is limited but he is improving. I am glad the pouting is minimal now.

        ‘but are his lines written to be fitting for a 35-year-old man or does he sound naive with high school humor?”

        Of course not. 35 year olds shouldn’t behave that way. But that’s the point. He plays an immature lazy slacker. Immature being the keyword. I have met people in their 40s speaking like high school kids as in speaking in such a way you want to pull their ears and tell them to speak properly.

      2. ” but are his lines written to be fitting for a 35-year-old man or does he sound naive with high school humor? If the latter, then it is the scriptwriter’s fault.”

        There are people whose mental and maturity age didn’t match their real age. So, I find it ok for Kenneth’s character to be mentally childish.

  5. I like Kenneth Ma and although I haven’t seen the first episode yet, I am looking forward to watch this series, of course I am looking forward to see Raymond Lam too, he is gorgeous.

    Kenneth can portray many characters from serious “A Fistful of Stances” to funny etc.

    I really enjoyed his performance in “The Hippocratic Crush” as the yummy Doctor. However I am not keen on him playing a villian like in “Grace under Fire”

    Those Ron’s fans who critise him, Ron is good looking, however his acting styles are very similar and boring. He hasn’t really been a lead character yet, at best he played 2nd lead.

    And who says gameers have to be in their 20’s….. a lot of 30+ enjoy playing, most men after all like to escape reality and play in the virtual world. If all gamers are only in their teens or twenties, the company will loose a lot of ££££ so a lot of games are target for 30+.

  6. Look, Kenneth Ma is not a better actor amongst Ron and Bosco but I find him most suitable because of Shun’s character probably eventual formation. I just can’t imagine Ron as someone respectable. Bosco can look smart but wisdom? and why are fans choosing between Ron and Bosco, both actors with sleepy eyes?

    1. Funn,
      Kenneth has a quick wit in real life that is fitting for Shun’s smart-aleck character. Shun’s sarcastic humor reminds me very much of Stephen Chow.

      Hehe, a more daring casting choice for Shun would be Wong Cho Lam. They can even make him a high-school age video gamer if they wish! Cho Lam would be convincing as Shun! Adding to the comedic effect would be Cho Lam as a brilliant strategist, a role which I think he will be capable in delivering! Cho Lam would be my second casting choice for Shun.

      Bosco would be my third choice to be cast as Shun. Bosco’s more youthful appearance is more fitting for the character, but he tends to “overbrighten” these type of characters. Bosco’s humor onscreen tends to remain quite safe, as indicated by his somewhat reserved performances in “War of In-Laws 1 & 2.” Contrary to public opinion, I don’t really like Bosco in comedies. I prefer him in more dramatic roles such as “Lives of Omission.”

      Ron’s type of humor resembles Louis Koo more, such as the dazzed and deadpan looks.

      1. Wong Cho Lam? No. I can’t buy him as some strategist. I am thinking in terms of future Shun instead of just slacker Shun.

      2. Wong Cho Lam is exaggerating type too so he maybe a good choice for this character.

        I agree with Jayne, after watching Bosco in LOO, Racecourse and 3 episodes of WI he’s really made for serious roles more and he can also do action mix with romance.

        I’m unclear to Ron’s strength but his good looks keep his fans to him. He was quite enjoyable actually when his deadpan comedy meet the great storyline in ACOTOB.

        Raymond’s strength is absolute romance. It’s good to know his character will be a good husband to Kaki.

    2. Maybe because Ron, Bosco, and Kenneth are all in the same league? They are among the few “young” actors who can carry their own dramas at the moment.

      Kevin Cheng will definitely be a no for this role. Too immature. Raymond Lam? Yes, if this was five years ago. I used to see Raymond as a versatile actor and young talent, but recently he’s been stuck in the same roles. I don’t know if he’s up for it.

      Younger actors like Him Law and Oscar Leung would be much better candidates for the role, but they definitely cannot carry an entire drama, at least not yet.

      1. Addy,
        You reminded me, I think Oscar Leung would play Shun well too! Wong Cho Lam would make Shun too silly; Oscar would be very fitting.

      2. Not quite because remember Shun will grow in later episodes as someone who is supposed to devise and strategise. I can’t see how his character can move along is not this way and Oscar Leung doesn’t give me the wise vibe. He can play other roles. I am sure there are others. Him? Can be Zhao Zhilung.

        Kevin? One of the adviser perhaps.

      3. Oscar Leung will be cute but I don’t think he’s ready yet to get a bigger role than Raymond.

        Him Law and Vincent also isn’t ready although they’re leading the younger packs

      4. Why dun give a chance to Oscar? MM can, Oscar alsi can.

  7. “Some netizens even mocked that the visual effects of A Step into the Past which was filmed 11 years ago was much better!”

    I find this very true LOL. A Step into the Past was also partially filmed in the mainland, which gave it more of a grand scope.

    I also find the humor in ASITP funnier, but maybe that’s just me. When I watch 3KRPG it’s like I’m watching a Disney Channel teen show lol

  8. yeah, pretty dumb graphics. the pandas, the owls, the dinosaur. maybe they wanted to go with the computer game theme?

  9. I don’t think Kenneth is too old, especially since he’s supposed to be playing someone in his thirties that has no real job/ambition.

    I think I’m used to the bad TVB graphics though so it’s not a problem for me. haha. As long as it’s an interesting story, I’ll like it and it’s been pretty good so far.

    1. Agreed! Since the cahracter is a 30 something jobless guy KM is perfect fit and he’s doing a great job!

  10. In eps 2 he isnt really overact (I skipped eps 1) but in eps 3 he overacts. The part he acts like jealous woman, he isnt convincing. His eyes and face shows he is forcing himself. I wonder how he is in next eps? Can he act better when he is matured up?

  11. i like kenneth way, way better than ron, but this sima shun character has been very annoying and unlikeable so far, so i don’t think i would have minded ron playing it.

    i would have liked to have seen steven and power among the cast too, but ray and ruco are nice additions.

    1. have to agree the visual effects are embarrassing though. it’s 2012 and they are still using techniques similar to 1996’s journey to the west.

  12. I don’t think Kenneth is too old for it. There are loads of gamers who are middle aged. Gaming is not just for teens and those in their 20s.

    I really don’t like the way they did this show. It’s definitely unfair to compare this with the mainland version because they are on completely different levels. I think it is fair to compare it to A Step Into the Past though. I am really disappointed in the first two episodes and the background setting. ASITP was an older production but had much better scenery than Three Kingdoms. I’m not expecting any elaborate backgrounds but at least give it more effort than having most of the scenes in the first couple episodes take place in the ancestral house and the commoner’s house. So far I am deeply disappointed, even for TVB’s standards.

  13. it’s sort of funny to see you guys arguing here and debating because in the end there will always be different views lol. Just like how some don’t like myolie’s acting, when you don’t like it, you don’t.

  14. I think Kenneth does look old but his type of comedy is most suitable for this exaggerated series. Ron has better age and looks but his comedy is stony or deadpan like in ACOTOB. Bosco can fit the young age but his comedy is less exaggerated type like in BF3. Raymond is more suitable for love dramas.

    1. Lolz Bosco in War of in-laws 2 is even more exaggerated. And LF has childish 30 boy role before, not that he has never tried.

  15. As previous bloggers have stated, Kenneth Ma may seem too old for the part mainly due to his age but like others have countered, there are gamers who are in their 30’s and 40’s though fewer in numbers. Unfortunately, people like to stereotype or typecast certain activities with a specific age group. I would say since Kenneth Ma is able to act childish act times yet mature and intelligent in critical situtions, this demonstrates KM’s acting ability to a higher level.

    Ron Ng’s persona is too serious, better suited for drama. Him Law, Oscar Leung Jazz Lam and others might be better choices but are they ready for prime time for general viewer acceptance as lead actors? Oh yes, what age group is the general viewing audience? I would surmise it would be the late 20’s and older crowd who would come home after work to eat dinner and chill in front of the TV.

    My question to all is how can SMS messages be transmitted back to the present without proper communications infrastructure? It must be a TVB hand wave magic solution (without thorough thought process)to say that it can be done.

    1. Haha. maybe the phone still link to the signals of the future HK through that time portal.

  16. Many fans keep bringing up Ron because they like the sales presentation clip. Ron may not be the best actor but he’s cute and some people may like his deadpan face in comical scenes

  17. Sorry Ron’s fan but Ma Ming best fit for the role while Ron will be wooden to protray the character.

    Ma Ming is hilarious and his expression is so cute!

    1. i like ron too but ma ming’s acting is steps ahead of Ron and Ron won’t make this role as funny as ma ming

  18. ma ming is doing a wonderful job so far! what is this discrimination? useless and immature men diesn’t limited to young people

  19. but Bosco no longer look useless. Now he’s more convincing in smart and calculative characters like in LOO or the overly zen cop in WI.

    1. in conclusion it’s still kenneth who’s most suitable for the useless old gamer. Ron can look too deadpan. Bosco can look too smart and zen. Raymond can look too romantic.

  20. tavia+ LF + KM = success in rating

    tavia + LF + KM + Ruco= guaranteed success
    in rating

  21. so judging by the article, no one else is complaining about kenneth’s acting except for ron’s fans. i swear, ron has the craziest little fan girls. they seriously complain about every little thing and put themselves in between his love life.

    kenneth is fantastic in it and i probably would not watch it if ron was in that role.

    1. it sounds like it. Suddenly I feel sorry for Ron. He has too many crazy fans.

    2. Are you sure all are Ron fans? I’ve seen Ron’s antifan said MM is old in this one :D.

      1. ROFL really? Could it be Viann’s fan taking revenge? ROFL!

  22. “Lau Kar Ho clarified that Three Kingdoms RPG was supposed to be a light-hearted comedy. It has a completely different style from the mainland television drama. “

    I agree with Lau Kar Ho. This is a light-hearted comedy. Can’t be compared to China’s serious adaptation.

    1. Agreed! This is a light hearted comedy to watch at night with family can’t be compared to China’s adaptation!

    2. China adaptation whilst impresses with its sets and mega casting and the look and feel, sometimes they’re not good at editing. I admit some part I don’t understand, some part I just fell asleep.

      1. China series sometimes too slow. I like 3K the pace is fast and exciting!

    3. Very obvious, it’s a low budgeted one. In fact it has more ppl as ke le fe than I expected 😀

  23. “The peak rating reached 34 points, drawing approximately 2.18 million viewers tuning in Hong Kong. This is by far the highest rating of a premier series broadcast for TVB.”

    LOL great start!

    1. yes. 2nd episode even better. Peaking at 35 points and average at 32 points. Believe that it’s the highest among other currently airing series. Shows that 3 Kingdom is very popular and well received 🙂

  24. I think the audience thinks Kenneth isn’t suitable for this role, is because he is (and everyone sees him) a mature man. Yet this mature man who can act a game-addict, a ‘after 80’s’ man, shows he’s a good actor =)

  25. I do find kenneth a bit old and a bit serious looking for this role. Ron would have been a good choice I think. Even though hes not overly good in comedy roles, he gives off a sarcastic vibe which may have been suitable for this character.

    Then is old gamers too obviously, however the way his character is besides the gaming part, is more associated with the younger generation

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