Review: “King Maker” (By Miriamfanz)

King Maker < 造王者>
Hong Kong TVB Drama 2012

Producer: Leung Cho Yuen
Genre: Historical Fiction
Episodes: 28



Kent Cheng as Tung Chiu

Wayne Lai as Yu Jing
Ngo Ka Nin as First Prince Chiu Kwai-Sing
Lai Lok Yi as Second Prince Chiu Kwai-wo
Kingdom Yuen as Empress
Florence Kwok as Consort Wei
Joseph Lee as Yeung Chi-san
Kristal Tin as Yim Sam-leung
Natalie Tong as Yu Ching
Patrick Tang as Yu Tsing


Essentially three ministers vying to determine the destiny of the faltering Song Dynasty.


With the same leads, same producer, same costumes, almost same setting, King Maker will definitely draw comparisons to The Greatness of a Hero. And the conclusion is…King Maker pales in comparison.  

Perhaps it was the length of the drama. The Greatness of a Hero was fast-paced with only 20 episodes. King Maker felt a lot slower with 28 episodes. There’s no need to repeatedly show the flashback montages. Nor the long heart-felt conversations paired with slow music. They can even cut some of the added attempts at drama, such as the whole Vivien Yeo jealousy act at Natalie Tong. I would have preferred it if everything was crammed into a much more intense 20 episodes.

Or perhaps it is the familiarity of it all. The same old plots are being recycled again and again. Where have I seen the voodoo doll scheme before? The failed delivery of rice? The is-he-the-real-son crisis always leading to a highly dramatized blood-test which never fails because of some type of trick? We need some new creativity. Also please end the recycling of those “golden” lines from previous dramas.

In what was billed as “TV King meets Film King,” Wayne Lai and Kent Cheng did their job BUT… For Wayne, I feel like there’s nothing new. The holding-his-anger-by-clenching-his-jaw and the serious, non-smiling expression are things I’ve seen before. And especially when he does the yelling scenes, it reminds me of Chau Kau of Rosy Business. As for Kent, what is with those weird expressions, loud yelling and tone changes? He talks too fast as well. Nonetheless, they were still very, very good, along with everyone else that had an important role.

Special praise should go to Ngo Ka Nin for his excellent portrayal of the traumatized prince when he returned to Song.

Mind you, the drama is not nearly as bad as I’ve made it sound. It is a drama full of schemes, deception and betrayal. There is a unique take with the First Prince having to recover from post-traumatic disorder. The character relationships were intriguing. Initially, the sons of the minsters weren’t on their father’s side. Elaine Yiu had complicated connections to all three ministers. This series will leave you wanting to watch the next episode, except you may want to fast forward within some episodes.

By the way, in real history, Ngo Ka Nin’s First Prince is indeed not the son of his predecessor. However he was still a descendant of the Song royal family.


Like No Regrets: exciting but needlessly dragged on.

The review is written by Miriamfanz, a Contributing Writer at Visit Miriam’s blog!

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  1. I see this series as a bullet train going like bullet train does on a same route day after day after day for 1 hours each time.

    This series places a lot of importance on “king makers” that


    In the end the king maker runs the country through a puppet emperor, except this particular king maker is not like the ones before.

    At least some credit should be given to the emperor. I was hoping for the 10 year dilemma to present itself, alas series took an easy way out.

    By the way i HATE Natalie Tong and her Hung Ying.

    But still


    1. For me Wayne didn’t do as well as I hoped.

      “As for Kent, what is with those weird expressions, loud yelling and tone changes?”

      He was making a point. He felt he was right hence the expressions. He yells because he is deeply frustrated why everyone doesn’t think he is right when he is always right but everyone doesn’t think he is right.

      1. Funn:
        I know you always liked Kent Cheng’s performance. I guess everyone’s liking is rather subjective.

        If you visit TVB forum on “King Maker”, you will find a lot of posts criticizing Kent Cheng’s performance. Most people liked the performances of Wayne Lai and Ngo Ka Nin. Some people even liked Kristal Tin’s.

        I haven’t watched “King Maker”, so I am not in a position to comment.

      2. I am sure I am not the only one who think Kent did well. Not fantastic but compared to many others, he is most deserving. He displayed all the complexities of Tung Chiu who is not easy to portray. He had to be animated. But he stopped short of being caricature. Wayne unfortunately is saddled by a character that is one note. It doesn;’t help he had only 1 expressions. I am sure if switched role, Wayne too would have made Tung Chiu animated. A villain is always more interesting and in this case Tung Chiu is an interesting villain.

        As for Ngo Ka Nin, he was very good but again saddled by an incomplete character. I understand where the series was heading but doesn’t mean the story wasn’t incomplete in some ways.

        Kristal was good but she has always spoke her lines that way. I don;’t see what’s the criticism now. I was however most impressed with Patrick Tang whom I haven’t seen for a long time. His performance as Sheung hei was elegance personified. At times he overshadowed Yu Jing.

        Anyway just because I love Kent Cheng and other doesn’t don’t mean either one of us is wrong or right. It is like you said subjective.

        But name me 5 other actors (save for Wayne) and tell me the reason why Kent doesn’t and shouldn’t win them all. I still say Kent Cheng for TV King but since this series is neither highly rated or populated by handsome guys or pretty girls, my feeling is he will never be TV King. Maybe best villain? I mean he was smarter than Yu Jing but was too smart for his own good.

      3. i usually love kent’s acting too, but i have to agree with the reviewer; i was also a bit bemused by his strange facial expressions and voice tones towards the end of the series. thought he did terrific until he turned mega evil though. as for tv king, it would certainly be well deserved but doubt he cares. he’s already cinched a best actor award, so there’s absolutely no question about his acting abilities.

      4. @Funn: I agree with you….Kent Cheng is awesome and in my mind, he’s definitely deserving of TV King — not just for KM, but for all of his previous roles as well (btw, if it makes you feel any better, Chow Yun Fat feels the same way — every time he is asked who he feels should get TV King, he always responds “Kent Cheng” and then goes on to praise his acting prowess…LOL. Kent is pretty much the only artist whom Fat Gor has acknowledged as deserving to win TV King.). But of course, as someone else said, Kent could care less about the TV King award — he’s already a two-time Best Actor winner in film and to me, that’s WAY more prestigious than any lame old TVB rigged award!

        For me personally — I love Wayne and his acting was good in this series, but I definitely enjoyed Kent’s performance more. There was more depth to Kent’s character and his acting actually complemented the character quite well in my opinion….I also didn’t have a problem with the ‘different’ facial expressions and intonations that Kent used — it’s his way of bringing a different ‘feel’ to Tung Chiu in terms of villains…I applaud his effort!

        I also really liked Patrick Tang’s portrayal of Sheung Hei. I’ve never felt anything for his characters before, but this time around, I was on the verge of tears during his death scene (and the part that happened after that)….in fact, I sort of got pissed off at the writers for making him die so horrifically in the series!

    2. Is this emperor is the last of sung dynasty before it conquer by mongol under kublai khan in real history?

      1. No, he is not. Four other emperors came after him. Emperor Lizong (Pierre) reigned for 40 years. He was known to be unconcerned about political affairs, only leaving matters to his ministers. He died childless and his nephew (son of his brother, Chris Lai) succeeded him.

  2. But I don’t get it though. Your review does’t seem to fit the 4 stars rating.

    1. “King Maker felt a lot slower with 28 episodes. ”

      I wanted to comment on this but kept forgetting. If this series is just 20 episodes I am afraid I will get a heart attack. At 28 episodes already people are talking so fast. Why you think it is slower is because it walks round and round and round the same group of people around the same topic. It isn’t very wide in its topic.

      Anyway where was I?

      Oh yes, love Sheung Hei. Poor guy. Yu Jing is those type where he doesn’t kill, he doesn’t die for anyone but many dies for him. I feel he isn’t worth it.

  3. rally looked forward to natalie tong’s performance this time but she just turned out to be annoying 🙁

    agree with what you said about wayne’s acting being nothing new and his character kind of bored me how he never really did anything alarming or different and continued on his rant about whats good for the country and such. And him not even doing much to have revenge for the woman he loved and his own brother.

    Love Kent’s acting and facial expressions lol his character was much more interesting as he changed throughout the series and totally stole the attention from wayne.

  4. I found this to be much better than Greatness of a Hero. King Maker is a political thriller while GOAH had no thrill. KM actually focuses on the battle for the throne while in GOAH there were many episodes that dealt with Kent solving cases that didn’t hav much to do with the royal court. GOAH was more about Kent’s family than the royal family. Wayne didn’t shine in KM and I thought Kent screeched his voice too much. However, the plot of KM is much better than GOAH. Anytime a series can make me immediately want to watch the next episode, I’ll call it a success.

  5. Miriamfanz:

    I don’t watch every current TVB drama series online, but I am interested in reading their reviews. If it is a very good one, I will definitely watch it in future.

    Though I didn’t watch “King Maker”, I am curious of learning about the performances of different artistes. Hope you will elaborate a bit more on acting in your future reviews.


  6. I remember watch the Greatness of a Hero a few years back; was quite slow imo (although I loved the cast). KM, however, is really good! My attention started to waver in the middle a little but it is a great series indeed!

  7. Every1 in my family said that this series is really n tell me to watch it. Did started but stop @ eps3.

  8. Kent’s expressions were off sometimes. The most confusing one is the one he has when he is standing near the king’s chair in the last episode. I am not saying they were not done well, I am just saying the timing was off.

    What I did not like about this series :The argumentation was very poor. It was always finger pointing and no logic in the arguments. When first prince’s concubine changed Natalie’s medicine so she would lose her child that she did not have, Kent said it could not have been the concubine because she is such a good-hearted person? So everything was he-said-she-said.

    As for Wayne’s character, the character should have learned one lesson: sometimes the righteous way, is not always the right way. This character has so much pride, but sometimes that pride ended up hurting him and those he loved. Just because he is righteous, other people are not. He has to bend the rules sometimes, and he would NEVER do that. Thus, you really can’t like him because he was NOT WILLING to adapt.

    The only likeable character in this series was probably: Kristal Tin’ 1,300. She shed her pride because she wanted to protect Wayne’s character.

    If you think about it, no character really sheds their pride in this series. For if they did, they wouldn’t have died and or failed at life.

    Most forgettable character: Oceane Zhu’s character. I actually like this girl as an actress, but this was a flop honey.

    1. “The most confusing one is the one he has when he is standing near the king’s chair in the last episode.”

      Which one? When his son *SPOILERS* died?

    2. I think Wayne’s character was intentionally written that way just to juxtapose with Kent’s character.

      Righteous vs unrighteous?

      “Just because he is righteous, other people are not. He has to bend the rules sometimes, and he would NEVER do that”.

      Actually he does towards the end though, after Kristal and Patrick’s death, i.e. he sets up traps for Kent to fall in. The fact that he agreed to keep the false prince in power for 10 years maximum for the greater good.

      You’ll also notice Wayne’s greater good vs Kent’s greater good was different, Kent just wanted the whole thing himself eventually.
      *end spoilers!*

      1. True. So in the end when Wayne became the ultimate power maker aka king maker he didn’t abuse his power unlike the other 2 earlier villains which sets him apart.

  9. Hands down. Best tvb series of the year so far. I have to admit the whole blood testing and other plots are old sch bt the producers manage to make it thrilling and exciting.

  10. King Maker reminded me more of Life and Times of a Sentinel more than Greatness of a Hero… maybe because they had the same producer?

    To me, the first few episodes were boring, then it got good when Kristal Tin showed up, got a little boring towards the middle, then got exciting at the end again. Overall, it was good but it was different than what I anticipated. I thought it would be more of a Chris Lai/Kent vs Pierre/Wayne but it was more Kent vs Wayne for control of Pierre.

    As far as the actors go, I enjoyed Wayne, Kristal, and Patrick Tang (who I usually don’t care for but I thought he had a good role here). I thought Kent was good but his acting here was similar to his acting in Greatness so it didn’t really stand out to me.

    1. Life and Times of a Sentinel, Greatness of a Hero and Kingmaker are all produced by the same producer.

  11. *this is base on your review Miriamfanz*

    I’m confuse, you gave it a 4 Stars, but tear it to piece with your review…?? huh?? So, do you like the drama *4 star* but don’t like the drama *review*….

    In conclusion, I disagree with your review not the 4 stars. Also, Wayne acting in this is not to perfect but still really good.

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