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.
“Performance wise, Linda is a huge huge problem”
For Ruco fans, plenty of Ruco in here. In fact everyone gets a bit of screen time and some role to play. Can’t fault most performances but Linda is still out of sync (she seriously needs to be re sync) and the story is still unbelievable because some things carried from the past episodes which made no sense. I like the gung ho Kai Chung but you know, he isn’t very smart either. No one is, except Yat Yuen and perhaps Ngai Chun (Sammy) and even Natalie but the rest, not very smart at all.
Kai Kei walks into her room, sad faced and looking at the necklace when the rest burst in and grab the necklace and arguing who should have it and poor Kai Kei rubbing her temple, obviously having a huge headache with their antics when Shirley grabs the necklace and says it should be Kai Kei’s since it was given to her and argument continues until Kai Kei stands up and shouts as she grabs the necklace;
“It is mine! It is given to me so it is mine to keep and mine to decide what to do! You can’t decide, but I can!”
Of course uncle and grandma accuse her of being greedy, etc but for once she is being forceful and they can do nothing about it. As she is left alone in her room, she sits down in near tears but decides to toughen up as she says to herself;
“No, I can’t wallow in self pity. Yat Yuen helps me so much, I must find a cure for him, I must help him”
and so she looks through her books and voila, 3rd page in she finds a page with the header about heart disease!
Why not ask her father? He must know…
Yat Yuen goes home when Dr Sheung notices that his hands got puncture marks or needle marks and he checks it and checks his reference book and marvels at the brave daring technique as Yat Yuen explains who did this to him and how and he says with deep admiration;
“Wow, Miss To is you and is daring. She dares to use this method. She has learn well from her father. Which perplexes me how the pills could have gone so wrong…”
In other words, the girl got skilz man! Yat Yuen realises perhaps Kai Kei could help him as he smiles to himself.
Back at Natalie’s place, she is trying to stop her father from drinking too much.
Perhaps he will be sick and later Kai Kei has to save him perhaps?
Father reluctantly agrees as he rants about the stupid arrogant Kai Chung. Natalie argues he shouldn’t have taken the gun out and shoot as he could have killed Kai Chung. He argues he will do it again if he has to and Natalie argues she will step in between the gun and Kai Chung again if she has to. Basically father agrees to calm down and I quite admire this Natalie girl. Got guts. She and Kai Kei should switch role because I find her having that reference point I talked about in my last recap. I am deciding that she is one of the good guys.
Kai Kei goes to prison to visit daddy, no money to bribe and the police got embargo on who can visit anyway so Kai Kei does the pointless thing by begging and Kai Chung appears and pulls his weight and so they visit poor old master, looking better than the last time but not much better. Kai Chung asks;
“Uncle To, I need to ask you this. Did you sign the confession?”
Big question indeed. Answer?
“I didn’t want to. I was forced. They put me into the death row prison and showed me what happens to a death row inmate and there was so much blood, I was so scared, I…”
Basically, he signed but bullied into signing. I don’t like that. I’d rather he said no and they grab his hand and force him to sign. Anyway he asks Kai Kei about the money and Kai Kei explains and so old master cries his heart out. The family… is… doomed!!!!!!
Sammy, henceforth Ngai Chun finds out Kai Kei and Kai Chung visited old master and he goes to the mayor and in very friendly tone tells the mayor to watch his son or not he can’t guarantee what the general will do.
Mayor goes home and same old argument with Kai Chung who swears he will complain about the genera. He will probably join Sun Yat Sen movement later? Same time? Kai Chung goes into the room to see his mother looking at Kai Cho’s photo lovingly and as mother and son chit chat, mother leaves quietly and locks the door.
Lock also not lock convincing. A steel bar act as a lock where the door is push in and not push out. There is a sizable gap which Kai Chung can see outside and he could have just push in some more, stretch his hand and push the steel bar up and he can escape. The door has no locking mechanism by itself.
Kai Chung cries WHYYYY WHYYYYY WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY YOU TREAT ME THAT WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY and the father cries;
“You may not want me to be your father, but you’re our only son and you must think about your ancestors! Stay put and calm down and we will let you out later”
He’s pissed, that’s for sure.
Ngai Chun tells the general about Kai Chung and well, he is also pissed. But Ngai Chun assures him he has informed the mayor and the mayor will be smart to stop his son.
General drops by for dinner and enquires where is Kai Chung and the mayor honestly replies he has locked up Kai Chung to think about his mistake. Natalie looks worried. General smilingly tells the mayor he needs to go with Ngai Chun to the bank to take out the money. Mayor is like why must I go personally but well, that’s an order and he is left with no choice as Ngai Chun says he will pick him up on the appointed date. Business done, the general says since no chicken, he wants to eat elsewhere and leaves with Ngai Chun whilst Natalie stays back. Once left, the mayor speaks sadly;
“We just had a funeral. How can we eat lavishly?”
and General is one heartless S.O.B without tact and yet his daughter is graceful and with tact as she asks if Kai Chung is ok. The mother is lost as to how to deal with her stubborn son and asks Natalie if she can talk to him, to calm him down. Should have asked Kai Kei to do that instead after all he is angry because of and for and due to Kai Kei.
Door opens, Kai Chung rushes out but is held back as Natalie rushes in to stop him and tells the servants to leave as she tells Kai Chung to calm down. Of course he can’t calm down. He is filled with this fire in him, the fire of injustice, the fire of Anger, the fire of UNFAIRNESS, the fire of the fact the To family is being BULLIED and more importantly, the fire fanned by the face that his goddess is pitifully bullied out of absolutely everything. I think the worst will be the general forcing Kai Kei to marry him, that will be the final insult. As usual, Natalie advises him to calm down, and Kai Chung kinda accuses her;
“Did you know? Of course you do! How could you not know?!”
And Natalie looks hurt as she counters;
“What could have been done? My father is a military man. He spent his entire life in the military. His word is the law. He has to. He has fought in wars and he has survived numerous times. He is harsh to his men, to instill discipline and order. To him, pulling out the gun is nothing. To him, shooting dead someone is nothing. He will not hesitate. He will shoot. That’s the sort of person he is.”
Good point! Kai Chung finally gets it as he says;
“Thank you for saving my life. If it wasn’t for you, I would have been dead”.
Smartest thing he said. Great conclusion. Now love her! Anyway he finally calms down. But believe me, he will go angry again in the next episode.
Meanwhile no food at home. Useless To family basically and Kai Kei angrily promises she won’t let them starve, she will sell the necklace. So she goes with Shirley and Pierre to a pawn shop. I can’t remember the word! Anyway Pierre refuses to go in, face issue and so Linda tells him to wait at the small shop with Shirley and off they go. She walks in and wants to “dong” her necklace for $100. She doesn’t want to sell, she will pay for it later on. Owner says it is only worth $40.
Inside, Ruco is with his gang selling fur coats to the boss and they are haggling over the price when he clearly hears Kai Kei’s voice pleading for more money. He tries to ignore her but in the end he walks out to say hi to the front desk guy and Kai Kei sees him and as the front desk guy is haggling over the price, he shook his head to tell her don’t sell and she looks at him and she smartens up and refuses to sell. I tell you, Yat Yuen is god sent for her, if not she would have failed numerous times.
Outside, as she is leaving someone steals her necklace and she panics. Meanwhile Jazz steals it back from the guy. Kai Kei sees Yat Yuen and tells him what happened and Yat Yuen smiles and similarly to what he did when they first met, he tells her to close her eyes, which she now promptly do and the necklace is returned to her. He did tease her a bit but she is so happy she basically says thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou. Yat Yuen tells her don’t sell there, they pay less, she should go to a proper goldsmith/gold shop who will pay a fair price. But she says she has no intention of selling. Now here gets a bit confusing. Later we know she has $60 but did she sell to the goldsmith? Looks like it.
Anyway the pawn shop owner is not pleased with Yat Yuen who he sees as grabbing business from him. Yat Yuen argues with him that poor girl wouldn’t have sold her necklace if she wasn’t desperate and when someone is already in the gutter, the guy shouldn’t have kicked her into the longkang so to speak if he has any compassion. Guy threatens to beat them up I think but Jazz reminds them they’re under the protection of Ngai Chun so they back away. Jazz reminds Yat Yuen now how they gonna sell those fur coat to pay Ngai Chun the $1000 he wanted. They got to the restaurant and see Ngai Chun and tells him he can’t pay yet and Ngai Chun says he trusts Yat Yuen but pay early because if not the interest will be high. Yat Yuen smiles, what more can he do.
Meanwhile uncle and Shirley meet an old rich friend who doesn’t know about Sheung Chun Tong’s latest mishap and treats them to eat at a very expensive restaurant. Point is Ngai Chun sees them and tell the guy what is happening and guy leaves without paying. Kai Kei finds them and has to beg the restaurant owner to let her have rice and vegetables for the full amount she will pay for food that is either half eaten or not eaten at all. Yat Yuen is there and wants to help but Jazz reminds him they are themselves in trouble over lack of money and moreover, what he intends to do will only embarrass Miss To so he decides to back off.
Back at home, grandma asks how much they got when she sees only veges and rice and Kai Kei angrily looks at Pierre and says;
“Originally we had $60. But then I had to pay $30 to settle the restaurant bill”
Basically the mother defends Pierre and says they’re family, shouldn’t fight and Kai Kei says indeed, they must remain strong, father is in prison, family business is in a shamble and they can’t go spending like there’s no tomorrow. She will try her best to keep the family afloat but she can’t do it alone. Shirley rather moved by what she heard promises she will not give up and will help keep the family together and Pierre and grandma actually for one look guilty and also promise the same thing.
But for how long? How long can this truce between family continue? Imagine this; 1 errant uncle, 1 gossipy grandma, 1 stupid step mom, 1 father in prison, a whole lotta headache for 1 girl who isn’t familiar with the ways of the world and is learning fast. Of course she is helped by 2 mean; 1 who isn’t doing any substantive and another who is limited by his resources. Life is getting bleaker for naive gentle Miss To but we have plenty of episodes to see how she overcomes all adversities.
She can open her medical business and earn some cash but no one will want her service. Either the people don’t trust her name now or rather, the general makes sure she is driven to a corner. Which is why I am wondering why not move away to another town and start again? She of course wants to help secure her father’s release from prison but that looks like a lost cause. In fact the To family looks like a lost cause.
Story wise, pace is picking up which is good. But still so many areas that could have been much much better. Once the characters settle down as in one calms down, one smartens up, one gets more into dying soon to create more drama, maybe this series will become less mediocre and more better. Right now it is not great, that’s for sure. I am watching this before Line Walker each night and whilst one is applauded (guess which one!), the other isn’t much appreciated for good reasons. However I do not think Line Walker is any better. Yes the pace is faster, more exciting, but in the end Line Walker should have ended a few episodes ago. Whilst Kai Kei’s story seem unbelievable, I feel Line Walker’s is even more unbelievable. Kai Kei’s story actually is a good story. Who doesn’t like a story about someone who overcomes adversities to be in a better position. But unfortunately, it is already episode 9 and the story is still not quite as engaging as it should and in the end it is because of the characters. I can’t find anyone in To family I can identify with or cheer for. I can’t even cheer for the Chong family. Surprisingly it is the so called villains, like Ngai Chun and Natalie that grabs my attention. Of course the quintessential good guy Yat Yuen and his gang is also one of the bright sparks in the last 9 episodes. And that is dangerous when you have the leading character and leading actress who is at best, bland.
Performance wise, Linda is a huge huge problem. Like I said, still out of sync for me. I don’t know what’s wrong, can’t put my finger to exactly say what’s wrong. I can say Pierre is boring because his character is just too common, Shirley is weak because she is not a good actress to begin with, Sammy is not a great actor at all but he manages to be quite scary at times because I am still undecided if he is a bad guy with a good heart or a bad guy with a bad streak.
The veterans are doing fine. Natalie is doing fine even if she really isn’t given much to do, yet. Raymond Wong impresses in a sense I can see a difference between Kai Cho and Kai Chung even if Kai Chung is dumb with a death wish. Ruco is doing fine, his eyes speak volume and he is consistent. Jazz and Wai and his band of merry brothers are all doing great in their respective supporting roles.
But the problem remains with Linda. If she isn’t in sync in the coming episodes, this series will fall apart. Whilst this episode is a better one hence my smiley face, it is still not much better than the rest. It is nonetheless entertaining for what it is worth.
- [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
This Episodic Thoughts is written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at http://bigapothecary.blogspot.com/