All That is Bitter is Sweet <大藥坊>
TVB Series 2014
Cast: Linda Chung, Ruco Chan, Raymond Wong, Natalie Tong, Shirley Yeung, Sammy Sum, Pierre Ngo, Jazz Lam, Elliot Ngok
Disclaimer: 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.
“Kai Kei is so hard to like … because I find Linda so ineffective.”
Finally! Finally an episode worthy of my love even if Linda is still baffling me and I do feel this is probably her 2nd worst performance, after the “I wanna puke!!!!!!” one. This one is more like “I have something to say… please let me say… I do have something to say…. please…. please… please… I need to tell you…. what? I can’t…. ok”. Which sums up Kai Kei.
But this episode is about everyone.
I was so wrong! Jazz did not betray Yat Yuen. In fact evil Chun made him drink 1 bottle of hard liquor and even his men winced, Chun is a sadistic guy and yet I don’t know… he is a bad person but is he an evil man? I don’t know. Anyway Jazz’s mom appears..I forgot to mention her appearance in episode 9 I think. Not important except only in so far as she knows a girl that Yat Yuen seems very interested in and asked a few questions. Anyway she begs for his life and I suppose she reveals their location.
With limited supplies, Kai Kei saves stupid fella’s life. And he IS stupid. Will explain more later. But she can’t stop the bleeding and so Yat Yuen heats up a steel bar and press over the wound to seal the wound and blood flow. Very Rambo-ish. Not much else really but in this particular scene I find it quite inappropriate Yat Yuen calls Kai Chung as Kai Chung instead of Chong family’s 2nd master consider;
1. their obvious disparity in social status;
2. Yat Yuen hardly knows the guy
But Chun arrives and Kai Chung tells our 2 fellas to run but as usual, Kai Kei delays the whole thing with her “I won’t, I won’t … ok” sort of attitude. Kai Chung surrenders himself, looking half dead and Chun isn’t too nice to him and Kai Chung just punched him (yeah!!) and Kai Chung basically then beat the crap out of him (double yeah!!!) until his men kinda say please stop or something like that. Yat Yuen says he will follow the lorry (cleverly put a bottle of something underneath the lorry to leave a trail because obviously Yat Yuen can’t run after the the lorry whilst Kai Kei is tasked with finding the mayor and telling him where his son is, which you and I can both guess what will happen.
Yat Yuen reappears with his gang and Jazz has some beef to settle with Chun for threatening his mom. They find police guarding some rundown shack and Yat Yuen wonders why he is taken here and not the police station.
Meanwhile the Minister Wong from the Justice Dept of the Nanjing Government arrives and Mayor wants so much to tell Minister Wong about Kai Chung as minister asks about Kai Chung and then Chun arrives and Chun cryptically tells Mayor that the smuggler he is asked to apprehend is apprehended and so Mayor knows stupid fella is in their hands. He has no choice but to say son is in Japan, left yesterday or something like that but hey, minister ain’t stupid ya know? Meanwhile mayor opens the safe, money’s all there and the general even volunteers to pack the money and minister requests he goes back to Nanjing with him with the money.
Mayor rushes into the toilet to see the general and asks him what is his game. General says since mayor doesn’t know how to teach his son, he will do that on his behalf. He will keep his son until he gets the money. But Mayor cries the money is already handed over to the minister in a sense and the general says the mayor has the key to the safe, the money is in the safe and so? So mayor has to steal the money and give to the general. Mayor cries that means his reputation is all gone, it is criminal breach of trust, it is imprisonment and total collapse of reputation but general doesn’t care. All he cares about is the money.
I forgot to recap an important moment in episode 10 where Susan threatens General to save Kai Chung (the idiot-seriously and I shall explain why later), she mentioned their history together. We know the general recommended the mayor job to Poon. But here we know more; the general was a nobody and was running from enemies when Susan and Poon sheltered him, bribed for him and basically paved his way. So the general owed Susan. However the general feels that he has repaid everything when he gave riches to Poon.
Poon tells his wife he has no choice; he will steal the money. Meanwhile he is so confused and troubled that when Kai Kei comes by to see him, he ignores her and leaves. Now this scene is just pure stupidity. You want to save a friend and yet here is Kai Kei going “I have something to say… please let me say… I do have something to say…. please…. please… please… I need to tell you….” when she should have shouted or whispered loudly “Sir, I know where Kai Chung is!”. I mean girl, get to the bloody point. Nope. And when he walks away what does she do? No urgency, she walks slowly and sulkingly away until Minister Wong notices her and sees her and knows she is To Sum’s daughter since he met with To Sum secretly when he first arrived.
I consider this Linda’s worst acting moment in this series and since it is only episode 11, more to come I am sure. I don’t get it. I don’t get the coy pretentious overly ladylike manners. I don’t get the script. I don’t get why she walks away slowly when her friend is beaten half to death and captured by police. Where is the urgency? Why the bloody slow mo? Why is Linda so disconnected with her character Kai Kei? Why is she acting like she is acting? Why is she so insufferable to watch? Why? WHY? WHYYYYYYYYYYY????????????
Ahhh you might say “Funn, she has always been that way”. I don’t agree but let’s move on and not be so Kai Kei where everything is… so.. darn…sloooooooooooooow……….
Minister begins to leave when he turns to the mayor and says he is impressed with the police work and the efficiency and so requests to buy dinner for the force and he asks how many police and Chun says about 10 but some are out working and so minister says he will present certificates of appreciation to all 10 and so each and every one of them is expected at dinner.
HA!!! Clever man!!! First he made Chun reveal he has 10 men. Then he makes Chun make sure all 10 come to dinner which means whoever guarding Kai Chung will have to leave and buys Yat Yuen time to free Kai Chung. He knows all these because Ka Kei told him about Kai Chung kidnapped and Yat Yuen following so he is basically freeing the obstacles. Smart!!
General respectfully declines.
Meanwhile Yat Yuen and gang see Kai Chung very very hurt inside a barred shack when the police left and they figured now or never but couldn’t open the door until Wai takes out an axe which is funny. I mean this series has moments of witty exchange and comedic moments courtesy of this bad of merry brothers.
At the dinner the minister smilingly gives each a certificate until one name is called, reaction is delayed and someone else admits he is the guy. Chun smiles to himself, satisfied he has fooled the minister but the minister… is…no…fool FOOL!!
Back to Yat Yuen, suddenly 2 police appeared and they hide whilst Kai Chung basically saved himself by pretending to faint and they open the door and Kai Chung in his condition can still manage to force his way out. They couldn’t see it is Yat Yuen but the axe is used to bar the door so I suppose that’s how Chun will know. Anyway he escapes and thanks Yat Yuen for saving his life.
Back at the mansion, Poon is packing the money into a bag for General and Chun is there watching when Minister suddenly walks in shocking everyone and General says he is packing the money for minister and minister says thanks and insists to remind general that he must follow him to Nanjing.I can’t remember much the exchange here except the minister sighs sadly he couldn’t see Kai Chung who has left for Japan who is instrumental in Nanjing getting the money and Poon couldn’t take it and wanted to say where Kai Chung actually is when Kai Chung slowly walks in and does not expose anyone but merely express his gladness in meeting the minister. Everyone is shocked, except the minister who happily welcomed Kai Chung and thanked him for the money and also said he reminds him of Kai Cho and since the town needs another good deputy mayor after the loss of one very fine deputy mayor, he asks Kai Chung if he could do him a favour and accept the job of deputy mayor? He also says he is sure Ngai Chun and gang will serve him well since he has awarded them with certificate of appreciation and the general will appreciate such a talent as well since the general can’t be there to assist the mayor and so Kai Chung as deputy mayor is the perfect solution. Everyone is lost for speech and Kai Chung finally agrees and even shakes Chun’s hand as the minister again reminds the general he will be accompanying him and the money to Nanjing, like the general is doing him the greatest favour ever. What a skillful politician and I love how he quickly changed the situation and outsmarted the general and Ngai Chun and yet guaranteed that the general won’t do stupid things to Kai Chung!
Kai Chung, Poon and minister go into Kai Cho’s office and Kai Chung only wants to know if the minister appointed him because of his capabilities or merely to save his life. The minister smiles and diplomatically and wisely says;
“If you don’t do your job well, no one can protect you. If you do your job competently, I needn’t do much either”
Kai Chung understands and promises this will be a lesson to him in how to act with care and not go gun blazing into the whole situation and hurting everyone and himself and finally he will morph into Kai Cho in terms of wisdom, patience and looks since they’re played by the same actor. Not that fool anymore even though I was happy Ngai Chun beat the crap out of him because he nearly hurt his family.
Minister, Kai Chung and Kai Kei meet old master in prison and here is the real clincher of irony of the century. Remember general wants the $300,000 and willing to imprison or kill old master for it? Remember what I said about why not pay $300,000 for his freedom or lesser jail time? Here is the irony.
To family is missing the $300,000 either way. Either the general gets it to fund his army OR the Nanjing government will get it for rebuilding the company. In both situations the To family WILL NEVER EVER get back the money, it is just a matter of losing the money to who and the consequence on old master. Minister tells old master there are deaths due to the pills (ONE DEATH by the way, just ONE albeit a very significant ONE death) and he did confess to the fact that his pills killed people and fraud and all (COERCED CONFESSION by the way). So in the end he still goes to prison but for 5 years. Kai Kei is shocked. 5 years? And I was shocked too. Bloody hell, you took $300,000 and still 5 years when you know the confession is coerced and he didn’t mean to kill Kai Cho whose family has in their own way forgiven the old master!! And the business is still shut, no longer can they be Sheung Chun Tong. That’s not a good deal! Who is the bigger crook here? The Nanjing government who gets the money and gets to pretend to be just and fair and reasonable when in actual fact;
1. They took the $300,000 without good reason. The money should have been returned to the To family unless the To family has to pay compensation. The minister terms this amount as DONATION.
2. Sheung Chun Tong is still closed due to the fraud thing when everyone agrees there is no fraud. Old master is not fraudulent. Negligent maybe.
3. Old master gets 5 years in jail. I assume in comfortable jail and not hard labour. 5 years for his age is a death sentence.
4. Kai Kei can still investigate what went wrong with 9-9 pills. So what does that mean? Old master goes to jail for a crime no one is convinced he ever committed and if discovered innocent, he would still have been jailed and served his sentence.
I feel this part is just totally and absolutely idiotic. Nanjing government is as crooked as the general except the general should learn subtlety and style from Minister Wong who manages to openly cheat a family of their entire fortune, close down their business and imprison a man he doesn’t believe to be guilty and yet get everyone to say a huge thanks sir to him. I feel for the general, I do.
Kai Kei protests, slightly but old master says movingly;
“Kai Kei, enough. Let it be. I deserve to be in jail. I was too arrogant for my own good, my arrogance killed Kai Cho. I accepted that fact now, that I caused Kai Cho’s death and ruined your happiness. I deserve my sentence and I will serve my sentence willingly so that I can go on with my life with a peace of mind and a humbled man”.
In a way this is his best outcome actually but the minister should have sentenced old master to some hospital to serve as a doctor to serve community service sentence and prison sentence. He should have made the same offer to Kai Kei or something. Anyway Kai Kei cries, nods and vows to clear the Sheung Chun Tong name.
Like as it if even mattered. I swear she prioritised Sheung Chun Tong’s good name than her father’s freedom.
Meanwhile general is drinking like crazy and here we see the human side of him. He is very angry he lost the money and Chun apologises, says it is his own fault but general says no, it is his own fault because he is a leader and he failed to lead well. Chun looks grateful for the respite and the general says he is not angry he lost the money, he is angry he lost to the enemy and that the enemy bettered him in so many ways. He couldn’t believe he lost to that wily minister Wong. Natalie arrives and scolds her father for drinking so much as general vows to hurt Kai Chung and Natalie says to her father to let it go since he doesn’t really need the money anyway. Her father drunkenly says;
“I the man don’t need the money. But I the general needs it desperately. Do you know there are a few of the soldiers that I will need to pay and they didn’t defect for me, they defect for the promise of money. Above me there is my boss and he will question me why I could not buy the loyalty of these defectors. What should I tell him? WHAT?!”
Poor man. He is a brute, he is cruel and stern but at this point I kinda understand why he really wanted the money.
Chun sees Natalie and sits down with her and gently tells her not to worry so much about the general who is strong and will stand back up again. He says rather good things about the general which I feel is genuine. Natalie is grateful for Chun’s kindness. Well he is kind to her even if he is brutal to others. Then Chun tells her to be wary what sort of friends she makes and shows her the telegram that Kai Chung sent and he says he did not tell the general it was she who helped Kai Chung to foil the general’s plans and Natalie reads the letter, gets very emotional as Chun walks away, his back facing her and he is smiling deviously as Natalie speaks to herself;
“Kai Chung, how can you use me like this?”
Angry woman alert! Angry woman alert! Kai Chung, you’ve just made YET another powerful enemy!!
This is a good episode. I like how Minister outwitted the not so smart General, I love the scene where he shocked everyone by appointing Kai Chung as deputy mayor. I hated how he can legitimately take the To fortune and walk away smelling like roses. Overall a very entertaining episode and moving at a faster pace.
Performance wise, I feel Sammy Sum does better in here than in Line Walker where he is wimpy at best. In here, there is a devious side to him that I enjoyed watching.
Everyone was ok, except for Linda Chung. She is so disconnected with her character, her performance is so bland and I think she can stand there and I will still not see her. I don’t know what’s wrong with her. She cries beautifully, she looks pretty, she has the look, the feel but her acting is so off, I don’t think I can find the on switch anywhere. I am hoping she grows into the character, be a tad natural but it just spells FAKE to me. I am very disappointed, especially in this episode. It is like she is not making any effort. It is not like she totally gives up but Kai Kei is so hard to like some part due to the weak characterisation but mostly because I find Linda so ineffective.
But the guys are good and thank god for that.
- [Episodic Thoughts] “All That is Bitter is Sweet” Episode 1
- [Episodic Thoughts] “All That is Bitter is Sweet” Episode 2
- [Episodic Thoughts] “All That is Bitter is Sweet” Episode 3
- [Episodic Thoughts] “All That is Bitter is Sweet” Episode 4
- [Episodic Thoughts] “All That is Bitter is Sweet” Episode 5
- [Episodic Thoughts] “All That is Bitter is Sweet” Episode 6
- [Episodic Thoughts] “All That is Bitter is Sweet” Episode 7 & 8
- [Episodic Thoughts] “All That is Bitter is Sweet” Episode 9
- [Episodic Thoughts] “All That is Bitter is Sweet” Episode 10
This Episodic Thoughts is written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at http://bigapothecary.blogspot.com/