Three Kingdoms RPG <回到三國>
Hong Kong TVB Drama 2012
Producer: Lau Ka Ho
Genre: Historical Comedy
Vincent (Kenneth Ma) gets caught up in a big storm in 21st century Hong Kong and time travels back to the Three Kingdoms period. There, he meets Zhuge Liang (Raymond Lam), Liu Bei (Joseph Lee) and other historical characters. And then TVB lost their history books.
For the record, this series takes place in the prelude to the Three Kingdoms. But it really didn’t matter, because the story could have easily fit into another time period. Do we see the battles, the strategies or the intellect that the Three Kingdoms era is famous for? No. We see petty, domestic squabbles. The wives fighting over a maid, the maid’s love troubles, Zhuge Liang’s wife’s sickness and feeling not good enough for him, etc, etc. Hey TVB, you know that there are three states, right? We get introduced to Cao Cao early on, but he doesn’t appear again for many episodes after that. And Sun Quan makes his appearance in episode 16. Sixteen! That’s more than half way through the series!!
Even when battle scenes are shown, they are uninspiring. Any fighting scenes are always blurry. Heroic guy slashes left, enemy falls down, heroic guy slashes right, enemy falls down, repeat. The Battle of the Red Cliffs was an epic naval showdown, but what we get instead are the worst computer graphics and the commanders standing in front of tents at the “battlegrounds”. Visual aspects aside, there is no showing of the tactical planning and brilliant strategies for the battles. We see the leaders looking very worried and hoping for the best. Cut to a montage of soldiers fighting, then cut back to the leaders who are either celebrating how lucky they were to win or crying over a loss.
The character portrayals are just… urgh! I was laughing so hard in the last episode when Kenneth said “Lau, Kwan, Cheung are historic figures. How can you mess with them?” And what exactly did TVB just do? First, Liu Bei. He is weak and indecisive. He always looks worried. He never has any input on military affairs. Compared to Sun Quan and Cao Cao, Liu Bei is nothing like a noble leader. Then there’s Zhuge Liang. The best strategist in history? You would never know from watching this series. In most situations, he doesn’t know what to do. He always looks depressed or unsure.
In the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Zhou Yu was no match for Zhuge Liang, but here, Zhuge Liang is nowhere close to Zhou Yu. Although Zhou Yu is jealous and despicable, he actually has intelligence and foresight. I think the actual most intelligent person may be Han Leung, the turncoat advisor. Often, he knows what kind of schemes other people are trying to pull off. For instance, he saw something wrong with the sudden surrender of Sun Quan’s advisors before the Battle of Red Cliffs. Of course, Han Leung is just TVB’s own fictional creation. Have to blame the scriptwriters for their “unique” take on the historical characters. Unique indeed, but in a stupid way. I’ll bet Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang are rolling in their graves right now.
The romantic storyline was EXACTLY the same as Witness Insecurity: girl likes guy, guy doesn’t like her back, girl is sad. All of a sudden, guy realizes he really likes girl, but due to the circumstances, they can’t be together just yet. Then guy dies, girl cries. CUT! Roll the credits. Tavia is an insignificant maid. Wouldn’t it be more intriguing if she was someone more important, like say the daughter of the enemy? A story about forbidden true love would add some excitement and twists to the series.
As a historical drama, Three Kingdoms RPG gets a big, red “F”. What about as a comedy? The funniest characters were Fan Gun and Cheung Fei. Fan Gun is adorable being the wide-eyed best friend of Kenneth. He actually develops from a simple-minded person to a mature man, but never loses his sincerity and kindness. Cheung Fei’s best moment was when he broke the bridge by yelling out loud. There are also humorous parts when Kenneth uses modern lingo to speak to the ancient people. Still, the comedic effects cannot make up for the overall failures.
The ending… Does it matter? Bad ending for bad series.
Lau Ka Ho wanted to screw TVB before leaving.