Friday, March 18, 2011

TVB: The Greed of Man 大時代 (1992)

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No. of episodes: 40

Theme Song by Adam Cheng and Alan Tam

Fong Family
Damien Lau Chun Sun – Fong Chun Shun
Yammie Lam Kit Ying – Lo Wai Ling
Sean Lau Ching Wan – Fong Chin Pok
Ng Wing Hung – Fong Fong
Loletta Lee – Fong Teng
Carol Yang – Fong Man

Ting Family
Lai Suen – Ho Chin/Grandma Chin
Adam Cheng Siu Chow – Ting Hai
David Siu Chung Hang – Ting Hau Hai
Michael Dao Tai Yu – Ting Yik Hai
Ng Kai Ming – Ting Wong Hai
Derek Kwok – Ting Lei Hai

Vivian Chow Wai Man – Yuen Mui
Amy Kwok Oi Ming – Long Kei Man
Bowie Lam Po Yee – Chan Tou Tou
Kenneth Tsang – Long Seng Bong
Law Lok Lam – Yip Tin
Lau Kong – Chow Chai Sang
Kong Ngai – Chan Man Hin

The story started from the 1970s and spanned for three decades, and the main plot revolves around the two families; Tings and Fongs and the ever dramatic stock market.

The first few episodes bring us to the glorious moments of Fong Chun Shun (Damian Lau) as the most successful player in the stock market and was even the prominent leader of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. He had a best friend whom he had known since childhood; Ting Hai (Adam Cheng). However, Hai was the total opposite of the educated and cultured Fong as he was a brutal, ill-mannered and unreasonable man, believing that everything he does is right and he just cannot comprehend the whole world disagreeing with his views.

Hai’s girlfriend, Lo Wai Ling (Yammie Lam) was a high school student who helped to care for his four sons during his absence (he went to Macau to search for his ex-wife who left him as she could not tolerate his volatile behavior). Ling and one of his sons were caught for stealing from a shop as they did not have money to buy food. Fong helped to bail them from the police station but he refused to bribe the police to settle the case. Ling begged him as she was afraid of a criminal record and finally Fong agreed. Fong sent Ling home and was shocked to witness for himself the chaotic environment the poor girl had to live with at Hai’s house.

Ling, however, following the incident, decided that it was enough and wanted to leave Hai. She wanted to focus on her studies and give up on the days living in fear. Hai could not comprehend her decision and blamed it on Fong for intentionally taking her away from him. Hai constantly pestered Fong and Ling; leading to Ling detesting him.

At the same time, Fong was facing a major crisis as high and corrupted authority officials tried to bribe him to manipulate the stock market. During this time, Fong decided to manipulate the whole stock market to his advantage and that no one could control him, winning the admiration from Yip Tin, another expert in stock market and the partner of Fong as well.

In one incident when Fong was rushing to the stock market, Hai appeared and argued with him and the police ended up arresting him. Hai blamed Fong for being cold-blooded towards an old friend. He then continued to pester Fong. His mother, who was working for Fong as a nanny to care for Fong’s four children, was allowed by Fong to return to Hai to help him to manage his family and care for his four sons. Hai misunderstood his mother’s return as Fong’s way of revenge to dismiss his mother due to their conflict. Hai continued to find fault with Fong and in an incident, hit Fong badly that Fong ended up in a coma.

Ling and Fong had fallen in love, and Ling helped to care for Fong’s children during his coma. When Fong finally woke up, he lost his memory and even his ability of speech and limbs. He became slower; and was struggling to fend for himself. He finally recalled his past and found a job with a newspaper vendor. They have lost their days of glory when they were living in a luxurious mansion since Fong’s coma, and the Fongs, together with Ling now stayed in a government flat.

Fong had finally managed to pick up the pieces of his life with his family, when Hai suddenly reappeared one day at his home. Fong had just learnt his way home, followed by his eldest son, Pok when Hai made his way into their home. Hai argued with Fong and it ended up in a fight where Hai brutally beat Fong to death. The whole incident was witnessed by Pok.

Hai then fled to Taiwan to escape imprisonment due to the manslaughter of Fong after the incident.

Following Hai’s disappearance from Hong Kong, the Fong still continued to pick up their lives. Fong’s four daughters have now grown up beautifully under the governance of Ling who had given up her studies to become a bus driver to support the children. The eldest daughter, Fong Fong had also given up her studies to help to support the family in the absence of their father and also eldest brother, Pok.

Pok had been sent away by Ling due to his rebellious and obstinate behavior following his father’s death to be disciplined by a local master. Fong Fong grew up hating her brother, for his irresponsible ways and for not being the man of the house since their father’s death.
The younger sisters, Fong Teng and Fong Man managed to make their way into universities and they missed their brother dearly.

Ling was searching for Pok who rarely kept in touch with the family and she finally found him under a bridge, He now repairs electrical items and refused to go home with Ling, but was forced home. Fong Fong continued to pick on her elder brother, until one day, when Grandma Chin, Hai’s mother came to visit the family. She used to be the Fong’s nanny, and all the girls were delighted to see her, except Pok. He got up from his sleep and started reprimanding Grandma Chin for her son and grandson’s evil ways and blamed the Tings for causing the death of their father and the downfall of the Fong family.

Ting Hai’s four sons have established a powerful triad society in Hong Kong; to the displeasure of their grandmother, who retreated to a monastery to repent for their ways and refused to stay with them. She was ashamed to face the Fongs and when Pok said all those things to her, she knelt down and begged for their forgiveness. Ling then realized that Pok was not being useless, but was in denial over their family’s misfortune.

Ting Hai’s eldest son had also fallen in love with Fong Teng, and their romance was disapproved by the Fongs and Teng was almost disowned by the family.

During this time, she found a job as a reporter and met Chan Tou Tou (Bowie Lam), a renowned stock market player from the States who returned to Hong Kong to fight with his own father. Pok had also bumped into Yip Tin, his father’s old friend who became his mentor to teach him about stock market.

Ting Hai was in jail for fourteen years for killing someone in Taiwan and his four sons established a new home for him in Taiwan when he was released from prison. Hai was unhappy with the arrangements and misunderstood his sons for not being filial when in fact; his sons did not want him to be arrested by police when he returns to Hong Kong. He secretly came back to Hong Kong to reunite with his family. He met up with Teng and pleaded with her to forgive his mistakes and not blame his son.

When Teng and Hau break up, Hau also turned ruthless especially when Ting Hai was arrested by the police after he held Ling hostage in the hospital.
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The Ting brothers then blamed the Fongs for their father’s arrest and terrorized them.
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The youngest sister, Fong Man even jumped to her death after being raped by Yik Hai and was humiliated in court during Ting Hai’s trial.
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Ting Hai was also convicted of the murder of Fong Chun Shun finally, and was sentenced to death.

His sentence triggered the fury of his four sons, who then instructed their triad members to kill the Fongs and the remaining daughters; Fong Fong and Teng Teng were brutally pushed to fall to their deaths.
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Pok somehow survived and escaped to Taiwan while Ling, angered by the incident tried to run down the four brothers of the Tings but failed. She ended up losing her mind, and landed herself in a mental institution.

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Pok managed to escape to Taiwan after the death of all his sisters, and with the help of Long Kei Man and the triad members in Taiwan, he finally made his way back into the stock market and returned to Hong Kong to challenge the Ting family in a winner takes it all.

He emerged victorious with his foresight and the Tings made one wrong bet, losing their whole fortune in a blink and landing themselves in massive debt.
Ting Hai then took his sons to the top of the building and pushed them off one by one, telling them that as men they ought to die in dignity and not in shame after their loss.
He jumped off himself after his sons, but he somehow survived and ended up in a mental institution.

Pok finally avenged his family's death; and it was considered a good ending after so much tragedy and at least, there is one last standing among the poor Fongs.
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It was a classic and memorable, not to mention a victorious scene for this epic drama.

Cast/Character Analysis:
Damian Lau as Fong Chung Shun
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He had it all; fame, power, wealth, a happy family and even romance came to him when his best friend’s girl fell in love with him. His life can be considered perfect, but nothing is perfect in this world and the worst thing that could happen to him in his life is to have a best friend in Ting Hai. I do not understand how someone like him could be best friends with an idiot like Ting Hai. It was the biggest mistake in his life and a costly one too; as it subsequently affected the next generation as well.
Fong is a righteous man in character and incredibly talented in investing in the stock market, making him highly sought after by greedy and corrupt officials to help them to control the stock market. The worst is his own best friend pushed him to the hands of these people and it was also his best friend who killed him with his own bare hands. Fong had done nothing wrong in his life; except having Ting Hai as his best friend.
I feel that this is one of Damian’s best role; as he transitioned from a calm and confident man to an almost invalid, gaining the sympathy of everyone who watched the drama.

Adam Cheng as Ting Hai
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This is the most insane and unreasonable character I have ever seen in all the dramas I have watched. He is really a mad cow of a villain; and yet at times he made it seem like he was not the real villain by the way he kept finding reasons for everything he had done. It is confusing really, I felt like laughing at his hilarious ways and at the same time, hating him for everything he had done. He is just a useless rat; refusing to admit his own mistakes yet continuously praising himself for his own righteousness. He used violence to settle most of the issues, and yet he never felt he was wrong but rather the victim for his actions. Everyone is wrong, except him and he could find reasons for everything he had done. It is really ridiculous and you just wished him dead from the very start, for how could a person like this exist on the face of earth?
This meant that Adam Cheng was truly successful in portraying this scumbag to be hated by everyone. If Damian was the most sympathized character, Adam, on the other hand, must be the most hated character and I must say, one of the worst characters TVB ever created.

Yammie Lam Kit Ying as Lo Wai Ling
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She wasted her youth and future on two men; and to some, she may be the instigating point of all the tragedies in the story. However, if it was not for her, we would not have the storyline for the Greed of Man. She was foolish enough to get involved with Ting Hai at a young age, but she repented her ways when she stuck to the Fong family. For a girl, she was truly strong and determined and I guess it had to do with the way she grew up and the difficulties she faced during your young age. She did not deserve her ending though; sadly, after all that she had done.
This must be the first time I have seen Yammie in a cold and warm character like this; and she must be applauded for her excellent portrayal of a woman scorned and how she fought her way through with the Tings.

David Siu Chung Hang as Ting Hau Hai
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He is the eldest son of Ting Hai, and appeared to be the most sensible or at least the only one who had a mind. He seemed to be the most righteous one and even loved Fong Teng with his whole heart. However, when Teng broke up with him, he became as ruthless as his own father and plotted mishaps upon the Fong family. How could Ting Hau Hai just be so cold and ruthless towards the woman he loved? He was far worse than his own father, at least his father could never bring himself to kill the woman he loved.
This was a memorable role for David Siu to play; and also the most despicable. This role of Hau also proved to us that birds of a same feather do flock together, and despite how nice he could be in the beginning, he still had that despicable gene in him.

Michael Tao as Ting Yik Hai
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The second son and also the most despicable one (please be ready for the repetitive use of despicable as I describe these hateful Ting brothers!). He was demanding and arrogant like his crazy father, and only sought violence as the only solution. He was also a sex pervert, and he raped the youngest sister of the Fongs; Fong Man, causing her death. When his eldest brother passed the mandate to him to decide the fate of the Fong family after their father’s death sentence, he happily did so by ordering all of them to be brutally killed. This character had no sense of humanity in him at all!
This must be Michael Tao’s most despicable role as well, and also the most memorable one. If Ting Hai is hated, this is also another one that everyone should hate and despise!!

Ng Kai Ming as Ting Wong Hai
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This is the third son, and supposedly one of the educated ones; as he was a lawyer. Well, lawyers may not necessarily be good, and like his brothers, he also used his education and profession to do evil. There was not much focus on this character except during the father’s trial but he is just the same as his brothers.
I rarely see Ng Kai Ming in tv series except during the 80s, and if you feel that he reminds you of someone, well, he does, as he is the real brother of fellow actor Lawrence Ng Kai Wah.

Derek Kwok as Ting Lei Hai
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He is the youngest brother and a doctor. Don’t think he is the best of the lot, as he is just as hateful as the rest of his brothers! As a doctor, he also smuggled drugs for the triad society and is just another bastard of the Tings. We see a very young Derek Kwok in this role, but not much of a highlight in the series, except as part of the Ting brothers’ troupe.

Sean Lau Ching Wan as Fong Chin Pok
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He is the eldest son of the Fong family and is also the main protagonist of the drama besides Ting Hai. When he first appeared in the drama, he seemed like a useless scumbag who was just plain lazy and good for nothing, but you could tell that he was no fool either. He was a great big brother who would stop at nothing to protect his sisters from danger, taking up the responsibility of being the man of the house. I loved it when he finally returned to the scene in the 90s, and plotting his revenge against the Tings for his family’s death.
Sean Lau is incredibly good in his acting, and it is a pity that we seldom see him on screen. He depicted the role of a calm and cool guy really well, and his facial expressions when his own sisters were killed or hurt by the rascals were just classics! Excellent, and definitely my favorite character in the whole drama!

Ng Wing Hung as Fong Fong
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She is the second eldest daughter but she was the most temperamental one of the lot. She irritates easily and yet was really cowardly when things happen. She chose to hide behind her siblings and refuse to stand up to injustice for fear of danger. All she wanted was just peace and a low profile life.
Ng Wing Hung is always good in her acting, and I had always wondered where she’d go after the 90s (married?). She depicted the role of this emotional lady really well, and she is just believable as a down-to-earth type. In fact, she connects with most of our inner self that sometimes we too want to hide and just live in peace, without wanting to get ourselves in danger.

Loletta Lee as Fong Teng
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She is the second daughter and the university graduate. With all her education, she was also the one who fell in love with the enemy; Ting Hai’s eldest son, Hau Hai. However, she too woke up from the romance and decided to break off all ties with the Tings as she could not forget their father’s death as caused by Ting Hai. Being the most highly educated sister, she was also the calmest of the lot, and she was not afraid to face the Ting brothers nor was she worried about the dangers posed by the bastards. However, she did not meet with a good ending as she was also forced off the building by the sore losers, when they lost their father’s trial. It was definitely the biggest mistake in her life to be involved with the rat; Ting Hau Hai and it was great that she realized that.
Loletta Lee is a really sweet and beautiful girl, and she played her role believably well, making everyone love and empathize with this strong and yet ordinary girl choosing between her family and love.

Carol Yang as Fong Man
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She is the youngest daughter and the most timid one; making her the easiest target for the Tings. She was the brightest in her studies, and she was always a high achiever. Unfortunately, she was raped and blackmailed by the bastard of Ting Yik Hai and lived in fear ever since. She was ashamed of herself and her predicament worsened when she was publicly humiliated in court about her affair with Yik Hai. She suffered further blows when she returned home and found bills stuck all over the flat building she lived telling of her as a scandalous woman and she decided to end her life by jumping off the building, before the very eyes of her family.
Carol Yang is always a sweet girl and I really liked her a lot, but like most of the actresses in this drama, she disappeared from TVB after the 90s. She really made everyone love and pity the sad character of Man Man and her tragic end.

Vivian Chow as Yuen Mui
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She is an honest and exceptionally thrifty young girl, saving her hard-earned money and enduring leftover meals with her grandmother whom she stayed with in the low-cost flat. It was not hard to understand her anger then when she found out that Pok used her hard-earned savings in the stock market. She fell in love with Pok, and was disappointed when Pok turned her down but she was the one whom he really loved and married in the end anyway.
I am a fan of Vivian Chow, and I have always loved her in all her roles as she always played demure and lovable characters. The character of Yuen Mui fitted her personality of an innocent young girl like a glove and there is no one else who could this role like her.

Amy Kwok Oi Ming as Long Kei Man
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She is the daughter of Long Seng Bong, the corrupted high-ranking officer who tried to bribe Fong Chun Shun. She was not really loved at home as her father was cheated of his fortune by her siblings and mom. She made a very humorous appearance when she fought with Pok for the same taxi and was pushed out onto the road. She then tracked him down, making him apologize for pushing her. She then fell in love with Pok, but was upset that he chose Mui instead. She and Mui helped Pok with his plan for revenge.
Amy Kwok was still quite new in acting, and honestly, I remembered her more for her amazing ability to cry and cry!~ Although in this drama, Sean Lau chose Vivian as his wife, but in reality, Amy was Sean’s choice of a lifetime partner and they are now happily married

Bowie Lam as Chan Tou Tou
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He is the son of Chan Man Hin who was a very powerful speculator and also a corrupt leader in the stock exchanged board; but he had a very bad relationship with his father. He hated his father for abandoning his mother and him, and the hatred deepened when his father would not even listen to his pleas to see his mother for the last time at her death bed. Tou Tou is based in the United States and is exceptionally talented in manipulating and investing in the stock market, establishing a solid reputation in the field. He returned to Hong Kong to battle against his father, but his complacence and pride caused his downfall as well. He hired Teng Teng as his personal assistant in Hong Kong, despite already having five personal assistants from the States. He then fell in love with Teng, and this stirred jealousy in Hau. After the incident where he lost to his father and also a dispute with Hau, Tou Tou seemed to have disappeared from the scene and only reappeared in the last few episodes.
He had returned to Hong Kong to avenge Teng's death (he was updated on the news revolving their family; which created headlines as well anyway), and focused on striking down the hateful Tings. He was victorious in the beginning, but one unheeded advice from Pok (whom he got acquainted with via the stock market; actually they knew each other earlier as Pok helped him before but this round, they were both playing behind the screens and he did not know it was Pok helping him. He thought it was just another expert) made him lose badly when the stock market crashed.
Bowie Lam is absolutely the right choice to play this character who was just cool and collected. It was just too bad that Teng did not reciprocate his love earlier, but he was truly a good man as he still avenged his beloved woman's death.
Besides Pok, this is my second favorite character in the drama!!~

Memorable Scenes:
1. Fong Chun Shun working at the newspaper stall after waking up from his coma, and how his children supported him. That was a classic and tear-jerking scene!
2. Ting brothers crossing path with the Fong family when Pok was bailed from the police station.
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3. Pok and Mui sharing a sweet and melodious scene where they performed a rendition of Red River Valley in both English and Chinese. This song became a hit in the 90s.
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4. All the stock market scenes

5. When Pok reprimanded Grandma Chin for her son and grandsons’ doings and showed us that he was a real man. It was really touching and heart-warming to see how he truly felt for his family’s mishap and how he chose to be in denial after suffering such a big blow during his childhood.

6. Man Man jumping off the building and the expressions on her siblings and Ling, was just unforgettable and jerked at our emotions.

7. Ling trying to run the Ting brothers down with her bus but to no success.

8. Pok finally gaining his victory in the stock market, and beating the Tings. That was the BEST scene ever!

9. The Tings being thrown off the building one by one, now that is a classic and finally, a GREAT Ending for all the evil they had done to the others.

10. All the scenes of Mui and Pok
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11. How the Fongs bravely stood up to the threats of the Tings
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Interesting bits:
1. All the sons of Ting Hai also had the name Hai (literally translated to Crab) as part of their middle names. Ughs, what an insult to the actual crabs.
2. Sean Lau and Amy Kwok, as mentioned are a real life couple who are married. Perhaps they met on the set of this drama?
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3. I found out from Wikipedia that Yammie Lam had been insane in real life like her character here.
4. To be frank, sometimes I feel that Ting Hai’s sons are worse than their father as they raped, killed and did all the worst things imaginable. Then again, at the same time, at least his sons were brave enough to admit their wrong doings and that they are scoundrels although they are still cowards as all five men, did not dare to face a fair trial.
5. There is a Ting Hai effect on the stock market in Hong Kong after this drama; and it seemed that every time Adam Cheng’s drama is aired, the stock would drop by the points. (refer to wikipedia for more details on the Ting Hai effect).
6. Take note of a lot of songs by Alan Tam, Beyond played throughout the drama.

My verdict:
This is the most popular and watched classic in the 90s and it featured almost all the interesting elements; from the excitement of the ups and downs in the stock market to the complex and heart-tugging relationships between all the characters. Undoubtedly this is also the most memorable and tragic drama of all; from the fates of the main and good characters in the drama and leaving the viewers frustrated when the bad guys live till the last episode; of course, there will be less drama if they died earlier. Anyway, the ending was definitely satisfactory as we finally get to see the evil brothers all die, but the only thing is that Ting Hai still did not die, what a coward!!
It is not really that great of an ending as the Fongs were all dead; and the Tings deserve to die more than a thousand times for everything they had done.
This drama brought a lot of tears and anger when I watched it, and even the theme song sounded really emotional and was suitable for the overall theme. I highly recommend it ; but I am sure almost everyone had watched this drama before. Anyway, worth a re-watch and another, to see the exceptionally strong and talented cast in this epic drama!~

1 comment:

pelakon popular said...

I have always loved this cantonese drama.the drama,lau ching wan and vivien chow all are teamed up.thanx for posting this!