(Thiên La Ðịa Võng)
ATV production - 1990 (Posted 02/21/02)
|Felix Wong Yat Wah
||Huỳnh Nhật Hòa
|Jamie Chic Mei Chun
|| Thích Mỹ Trân
||Nhậm Mỹ Lệ
||Nhâm Ðạt Hoa
||Tống Nhất Phu
|Michelle Mei Suet
||Ngô Khải Hòa
||Giang Thượng Hải
||Nhậm Mỹ Linh
||Trang Tịnh Nhi
||Ngũ Vịnh My
- The plot:
This is one of my favorite modern series of all time. It makes me laugh; it makes me cry, and it makes me think.
The settings was in China during the Cultural Revolution. Nhất Phu and Tuyết Vinh originated from rich families in Hong Kong, but they chose to live in China with their five children because Phu was a patriot and determined to help his country. Unfortunately, the revolt broke out and their family was living in poverty. Vinh passed away in a pile of snow, and Phu died shorty after that due to a car accident. Their dying scenes are so sad and very touching! Out of the blue, Tống Bang (the oldest son) involuntarily became the head of the household at age eleven.
Bang and Hải grew up together in a society that treated them harshly just because their parents happened to work for the former government. They were involved in some political movements and were forced to escape to Hong Kong. They started as janitors then salesmen in the streets during their early times in Hong Kong.
Hải fell in love with a rich girl, Tử San. However, he already slept with Bang's younger sister (Tống Ðình) when he was in China, so Bang forced him to get married to Tống Ðình. Bang initially dated Mỹ Linh without knowing that her half-sister (Mỹ Lệ) secretly admired him.
When Bang and Hải's business fell apart, Hải left Bang in huge debt and moved in with Tử San (he completely abandoned his wife -Tống Ðình- and his son back in China). Under huge depression, Bang came back to his hometown and became a heavy drinker. During this difficult time, Mỹ Linh broke up with him while Mỹ Lệ was always there to support him and even slapped him a couple of times!
Bang finally "woke up" and conquered the business world again. With Mỹ Lệ's persistent help, it took him no time to get back on his feet. He also realized that she had always been in love with him for a long time, so they became an item instantly. Well, the ex-girlfriend (Mỹ Linh) tried to get back with Bang many times, but he managed to emphasize that he only devoted to Mỹ Lệ. After an accident, Mỹ Linh became paralyzed, and her hatred against Bang grew stronger. In the meantime, Hải assaulted Tử San after she discovered that he killed Bang's sister. Hải was sentenced to jail for two years along with his unstable brain.
Let's get back to Bang and Mỹ Lệ's love story. After Bang proposed, Mỹ Lệ found out that she suffered leukemia, but Bang insisted on marrying her. They got married and lived happily until her illness was in the terminal stage. She needed bone marrow transplant immediately, and ironically, her half-sister Mỹ Linh had the perfect match. Mỹ Linh agreed to donate the bone marrow only if Bang jumped out from the hospital's 4th floor. Guess what! He did it without being seriously hurt, and his wife's transplant procedures went well. Mỹ Lệ remained in the rehab center for two years to permanently treat the cancer while Bang became a more successful businessman. On the day that he welcomed her home, Hải escaped from prison/mental institution and begged to meet Bang. Thinking about Hải's volatile mind, Bang would like to calm him down, so he agreed to meet Hải. At the port, both of them "recited" their childhood and the times that they first settled in Hong Kong. Suddenly, Hải became furious at Bang for always being a better person; he pulled out the gun that he stole during a police chase and shot Bang multiple times in front of Mỹ Lệ's eyes! The series ended when the ambulance got stuck in traffic en route to the hospital.
Anyway, ATV (or actually the writer) left an open ending for viewers to decide whether Bang would die or live. Clair did a great job at analyzing open endings at her site. I have been waiting for part 2 for about a dozen years. At this point, there is no hope that ATV will produce the second part, so maybe we -the viewers- need to write one for ourselves! :-)
I choose to believe that Bang is alive due to what the fortune teller said:
a) He predicted that Bang and Le would die on the same day. After Bang was shot, Le was about to commit suicide; miraculously, Bang used all of his left-over energy to stop her from pulling the trigger! We all know that Le is still alive in the last scene.
b) He advised Bang to do a lot of charity and good deeds, so all the misfortunes would be forfeited. Bang did go back to China and rebuild many schools.
Felix's character: hard-working, stubborn, faithful, smart, very self-confident. His hair was super short at the beginning, and it looked so funky. :-) Towards the second half, he looked really nice and handsome.
Jamie's character: stubborn, faithful, hard-working, quite feisty, a strong woman. She had long and straight hair, looked especially cute when she braided them. This woman mostly wore skirts while she fought and could kick very well!
See why they are such a great couple?
Their love story: You could divide it into two parts: comedy then tragedy. They initially hated and called each other names. They actually had the best fight (yeah, I mean a real fight: imagine she almost tore off his apartment, and they threw a thermal pot and an ironing board at each other) during their first encounter. I burst out laughing at this scene every time I rewatch it. As I mentioned above, she had a huge crush on him while he was dating her half-sister. They always faced many obstacles: his failed business, her cancer, the deaths of their family members, etc...., but they always supported each other and proclaimed their internal love.
Some hillarious, "cheesy" and memorable moments:
- The first time they met: a huge fight (both physically and verbally)! This was very dramatic since she was wearing a skirt, and she could be that violent, haha.
She "chased" him in China and slapped him many times to wake him up from his drinking problem.
He "converted" her from a feisty and bitter woman to a completely sweet lady. Many funny scenes.
The part that they got drunk and sang karaoke. The song was very familiar because I heard it in other series as well; however, I have no clue what it's about.
Upon discovering that she got leukemia, she tried to hide from him. He dedicated a love song to her on the radio while she was crying at the beach house knowing that he was desperately looking for her everywhere. They reunited later on the beach in tears!
Their wedding: they looked so lovely together, and I love her dress!
All of the parts that he encouraged her to never give hope on a possible treatment for her illness. For example, he showed her the marbles that marked how many days they had been wedded, and told her that they would build a house to store all the marbles (he expected to grow old with her).
He was at her bedside when she lost consciousness and started praying. To me, this part is very significant. Throughout the whole movie, he never believed in God; he was always confident that he had his own power to achieve whatever he thrived for; however, this is a turning point that he finally believed in a much stronger external power.
Well, we can't forget the scene that he was shot at the end.
The cast: Everybody did a wonderful job. It was pretty impressive to have Simon and Michelle as cameo roles. I enjoyed every scenes of Felix and Jamie: they have the perfect chemistry either when they hate or love each other. This was the first time I saw Yvonne Yung (Ông Hồng) and Christine Ng (Ngũ Vịnh My). They were just average. However, I later saw Christine in Silver Tycoon (Ngân Hồ Về Ðêm), and she really shined there.
My 2 cents:
Bang's tragic ending might be avoided if he were a little more considerate towards Hải's feelings. As an older child, Bang had the "bossy" personality in his bloodstream (he got into the habit of making decisions for his siblings), so sometimes he forgot how uncomfortable that could be for people around him. This also applied to Mỹ Lệ's case. They both turned out to be strong-minded people. In contrast, Hải grew up as a timid and confused young man since he always lived with the guilt that he was the cause of his father's death. Deep down inside, he competed with Bang for his mother's affection, and sadly, he knew that he could never compare to him.