Monday, January 17, 2011

TVB: Sisters of Pearl 掌上明珠 (2010)

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No. of episodes: 28

Kiki Sheung Tin Ngor - Chu Pik Wan
Hsuan Jessica Hester - Chu Pik Ha
Macy Chan - Chu Pik Lam
Bowie Lam Po Yee - Ho Cheung Hing
Michael Dao Tai Yu - Hung Yew Sang
Joyce Tang Lai Ming - So Lai Sheung
Joel Chan - Chow Yuk Tsai
Savio Tsang Wai Kuen - Ho Cheung Fatt
Lily Leung - Ngan Yu Yoke
Lau Kong - Chu Siu Cheung
Coleman Tam - Lo Pak Tim
Pak Yin - Mrs Lo

Chu Pik Ha returned to her maiden home following the death of her husband, and upon invitation of her sisters after witnessing the way her mother-in-law treated her.
Unknown to her two sisters, it was Pik Ha's plan to return home and attempt to inherit the family's pearl business, which is currently run by her eldest sister, Pik Wan and her husband, Cheung Hing.

When Pik Ha started to win her father's affections and also her son being adopted as the grandson of the Chu family, Pik Wan sensed danger and her intentions and started to get her into trouble to get her out of her father's favour.
She instructed her husband, Cheung Hing to create trouble for Pik Ha's work at the pearl shop but Cheung Hing was secretly helping Pik Ha to solve most of the problems instead.
Pik Wan was then furious and suspects that her husband had not gotten over his feelings for Pik Ha. (Cheung Hing was supposed to marry Pik Ha initially but Pik Ha refused and married someone else, therefore their father re-arranged for Cheung Hing to marry Pik Wan instead)
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With their cousin, Hung Yew Sang's interception, Pik Wan and Pik Ha's misunderstanding deepened.
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Their father's sudden demise saddened all the three sisters but they were in for a bigger shock when an unknown woman turned up at his funeral and then a few days later at their home during the announcement of their father's will.
The woman turned out to be their father's long time mistress, So Lai Sheung and she was also stated to inherit part of the family fortune, and her sharing would increase if the child in her pregnancy is a son and the heir to the family.

The three sisters were furious and denied her position in the family, but their grandmother stepped in and allowed Lai Sheung to stay in the house, according to their father's will, and to give birth in the house.
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What everyone did not know was that Lai Sheung was a tool set by their own cousin, Yew Sang to inherit part of the family's fortune. It was all a plan; from her meeting and seducing the old man to having his child and entering into the family based on that fact.
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Lai Sheung did not lead an easy life, especially when youngest sister, Pik Lam was intent to make her life miserable in the house.
She almost suffered a miscarriage when Pik Ha's son, Tim Chai threw the marble balls on the floor.

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Pik Wan and Pik Ha continued to fight over the pearl business as Pik Wan was worried that she was losing out, especially when even her own husband still has feelings for her sister. Pik Wan resorted to all sorts of tactics to kick Pik Ha out of the picture, and the worst being to separate Pik Ha from her son.
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Pik Ha's mother in law won the custody of the child and Pik Ha was forced to bid farewell to her only son who was to follow his grandmother overseas.
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Pik Ha bode a bitter grudge against her elder sister after that and plotted to take the business away from her no matter what, and even seduced her brother-in-law, Cheung Hing, who was still in love with her.
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Pik Lam, was disappointed with Pik Ha's doings and her attempted adultery with their eldest brother-in-law.

Pik Lam herself faced a dilemma in love relationship when she put up a show and tricked their honest and innocent worker who hailed from Malaysia, Chow Yuk Tsai to marry her, in a bid to escape from another arranged political marriage.
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After their marriage, Pik Lam refused to consummate the marriage with Yuk Tsai and denied her love for him, although she was starting to fall for his sweet and kind gestures towards her.
In one incident where Pik Lam accidentally declared that she does not love Yuk Tsai and that she was only using him, Yuk Tsai was devastated and decided to let her go by agreeing to a divorce.
Pik Lam regretted her words and Pik Wan saw opportunity to win her sister's vote for her running for the company's Chairman, by helping to patch the couple back with each other.

Pik Wan tried to win most of the votes by enlisting her husband's help, but little did she know that her husband was also eyeing the post and was already scheming to win all the votes for himself behind her back.
Cheung Hing had always wanted to plot revenge against the Chu family with the exception of his love, Pik Ha due to the fact that they indirectly caused the death of his father, who was an employee in the company and was framed for a mistake that Pik Wan had made.
He committed suicide in depression but Cheung Hing told everyone else that he had died of illness.

Cheung Fatt, his younger adopted brother was upset to learn of his plans to overtake the company and tried to advise him to stop his evil deeds, but to no avail.
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Even Cheung Fatt was led to cover for his crimes; Cheung Fatt was framed for murdering the old grandma of the three Chu sisters.
Their grandma had uncovered Cheung Hing's crimes and went into a paralysis state where she could not speak. When she was about to recover her speech abilities, Cheung Hing pushed her into the pond and she died. Cheung Fatt took the blame onto himself and was led by Cheung Hing to commit suicide in jail to cover the whole truth altogether.

Yew Sang was starting to be aware of the scheming Cheung Hing, and he had slowly fallen for his second cousin, Pik Ha whom he had grown fond of.
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When Lai Sheung gave birth to a son, she refused to follow Yew Sang's plan to leave her son and take part of the fortune which Yew Sang will share with her and go back to her village. She refused to part with her son, and soon gained entry into the pearl company as well.
She became defensive and warned Yew Sang against taking her son away.
At the same time, she grew close to Cheung Hing who helped deliver her son.
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Pik Ha tried to seduce Cheung Hing who left Pik Wan and filed for divorce to be with Pik Ha. However, her plan failed when Cheung Hing overheard her talking to Yew Sang that it was all a plan to foil his schemes to take over the company.
He then convinced Pik Wan to return to him and then started feeding her pills to make her lose her mind, to enable him to take over the company easily.

As Pik Ha and Pik Lam realize his intentions, they tried to persuade Pik Wan to stop taking the pills but to no avail. Cheung Hing even threatened to kill Pik Wan if they refused to sell him their shares.
Lai Sheung had no choice but to give in to him too as she wanted to protect her own son. Pik Ha and Pik Lam sold their shares to him and the Chu sisters lost their family business to the evil Cheung Hing.

Yew Sang was also crippled in an accident but he supported the three sisters when they collaborated and united to start up a smaller pearl business.
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Cheung Hing tried to break all their profit paths but Yew Sang hatched up a plan to make Cheung Hing lose it all.
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In a rage, Cheung Hing tried to kill all of them but Yew Sang sacrificed himself to save Pik Ha.

Cheung Hing lost his mind in the end, while all three sisters remained with each other and won their family business.

Character Analysis
Kiki Sheung as Chu Pik Wan
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She is a very insecure woman who also lacks of self-esteem despite being the one in power and authority. It was perhaps due to her position as the eldest daughter in the family and she constantly wants to be ahead of the rest. She was afraid of her younger and more capably sister, and the threats of a newly found stepmother and her unborn heir to her existing position.
She was not that evil actually, but she was just so consumed with her need to protect herself when she started feeling that she is losing all that she had that she had to first step up on her own defense. You could see in her expressions that she looked confused sometimes, and had to battle with her conscience before making a decision.
Kiki Sheung is no doubt an excellent veteran, and she is one of my favorite actresses, despite being cast as one of the antagonist in this drama.

Hsuan Jessica Hester as Chu Pik Ha
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She is the most intelligent and ambitious sister of all, and she knows her own capabilities very well. This is one woman who knows how to be independent and to protect herself well. In contrast to Pik Wan, she is confident of herself and thus would not succumb to fate. Following her husband's death, she had planned to get away from her in-laws and plotted to return home and to have a hand in her own family business. She had planned it so well that it was really unbelievable that she had it all at the back of her hands. However, she was not all that evil either although she almost misled everyone to believe that she was the main antagonist as she, like Pik Wan, had to battle with her conscience despite wanting to inherit the family business. You could see her strong feelings for her siblings, and her emotions were the most genuine with her own son.
Jessica is also another great veteran actress who could bring her characters to life, and again, this is also one of my favorite actresses of all time. I wish TVB would give her more significant roles, as I do miss seeing her in all the great dramas produced.

Macy Chan as Chu Pik Lam
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Of all three, this is the weakest sister and it could be due to the fact that she was the youngest in the family as well. She swayed in her opinions and is easily influenced; making her the most vulnerable tool to be exploited by her sisters and the antagonists in the drama. Her role is rather insignificant sometimes; besides adding to the shares of the company and her ability to vote for the managing board. As I've said, it could be due to the fact that being the youngest, she was always pampered by her father and all the elders in the family that she never had to deal with difficult situations where she had to decide.
The only time you finally see her transform to being a real adult who could finally come to terms with herself is when she realized that she had fallen for Yuk Tsai. Even then, she needed her sister's help to reunite with him as she had too much of a pride to tell Yuk Tsai.
Macy Chan is a relatively new actress but she had shown much improvement in her acting skills, although you could see that she is struggling sometimes to bring emotions to her eyes and face. There were times when she seemed to be blank and the expressions seem to be the same for some scenes as well, even when she is supposed to be really miserable.
I like her though; as she is really sweet and definitely suitable for vulnerable and innocent roles like this.

Joyce Tang as So Lai Sheung
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This was supposed to be one of the antagonist as well, but at the same time the protagonist as well. You can't help but feel tickled by all her antics as she struggled to deal with her own naivety and materialism while having to act as a noble woman in the family. I enjoyed her expressions and her natural greed which was portrayed realistically. You won't feel hatred for this woman, but rather, pity and love for such a down-to-earth person that she is. Perhaps she is the most genuine person in this drama that could relate to an everyday woman from the village.
Joyce Tang is no doubt another excellent actress, as she portrayed her roles to perfection.

Bowie Lam as Ho Cheung Hing
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Finally, the real and main evil antagonist in the drama who had all the audience deceived from the very beginning as he played the innocent and dictated poor husband and son-in-law of the Chu family. He had no respect from people but yet he was just so kind and caring to his own wife and sisters-in-law. It was really deceiving until it is revealed that he had been plotting his own motives to take over the entire family business. What started as a small plan of revenge towards Pik Wan and her father for causing his father's death soon expanded into a huge plan of greed and authority as he slowly plotted to overtake the entire family business.
He was so consumed with his own greed that he had started to lose his conscience when he pushed his own brother to death. He was a very selfish and vindictive man, but you could see his soft spot when he was dealing with Pik Ha, that only one woman in his life whom he really loved, which is why he was so devastated and turned even more mad when he realized that Pik Ha was only toying with him.
Bowie Lam is definitely the man for this character as this actor can just hide so much emotions behind his blank expression!

Michael Dao as Hung Yew Sang
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Like Lai Sheung, this was supposed to be the main antagonist in the beginning but then turned protagonist towards the end. It was rather confusing for the audience whether he was the good or bad guy as he was constantly switching his roles. At one point he was intent to gobble the family fortune with his carefully hatched plan with Lai Sheung but yet you could see how he battled with himself when he tried to be Mr Nice Guy with his own cousins. I guess that was when he had started to fall for cousin Pik Ha when he could not bring himself to cause the family too much misery.
It has been a long time we have seen Michael in evil roles like these, but he is still good as a veteran actor although sometimes I do find his expressions a little more exaggerated.

Savio Tsang as Ho Cheung Fatt
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He is the most unrecognized role and yet he is the only truly kind and honest man in the show. He worked with his conscience and never wanted anything for himself. He is constantly thinking for others, and he was really one of the most pitiful guys who never had anything in return. He was the adopted son in the family and he often felt indebted to the family that he listened to his brother although he did not agree to the evil deeds. In the end, he was even led to believe that he ought to sacrifice himself for the family to repay his adopted father's deeds.
For all that he had done, he gained nothing good in return.
This is the first time I have ever seen Savio Tsang in a good role as he is constantly cast in evil roles that it was really surprising. Nevertheless, it was a good job done and it showed that he is another versatile actor, although, I think he looked more believable as a nasty guy sometimes.

Joel Chan as Chow Yuk Tsai
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For a man, this is really one naive and innocent character and it's funny that he was supposed to hail from Malaysia (or Borneo). He perceived everyone as good and with no evil intentions. He fell for all the tricks of the trade and even stupidly believe that he was responsible for sleeping with Pik Lam when he was drunk. He did love her with all his heart and it was also quite disheartening to see how he felt when Pik Lam revealed that she was only using him to get away from another arranged marriage. It was funny how he even agreed to paper marriage when Pik Lam refused to sleep with him after their marriage. He was so naive that this character became a little unbelievable sometimes.
Joel Chan was inconsistent in his expressions sometimes although at times he did fare quite well in portraying a simple-minded guy.

Overall review:
I enjoyed the drama, although at times I did find the storyline dragging itself a little. The drama seemed to be come one after another that it did not seem quite that believable anymore, perhaps the writer himself/herself was getting confused with the concept of what he really wants.
However, it is still a drama with lots of family relationships and it makes you think what is truly important in the end; money or love.

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