Cantonese Title: Lo Yau Kau Kau
Broadcast Period: December 28, 2009 – January 22, 2009
Genre: Modern Drama
Length: 20 episodes
Producer: Leung Choi Yuen
Scriptwriter: Choi Ting Ting & Leung Man Wah
Kevin Cheng - "Ko Hin Yeung"
A palace chess teacher who actually loves to practice martial arts. He is a calm and confident person. He is not afraid to take action. At many times, he takes risks that aren't worth it. If anything, Ko Hin Yeung is the most boring character of the year in my book. As a second male lead, Hin Yeung was there just to give Charmaine a love interest and Moses a 'sidekick'/body guard. I found myself annoyed at Hin Yeung a couple times in the middle of the series because I felt he was too brave. He risked his life to save people several times. Although I understand and respect his want to keep his loved ones safe, I don't believe that he should just jump in and take action, not taking into consideration that he could do nothing but kill himself.
Every Kevin series I've watched after Last One Standing, I have to remind myself that he can indeed act and he is (somewhat) versatile. After all, it's pretty hard to think so with all the 'Mr. Nice Guy' roles TVB gives him. If there is a TVB actor whom I never want to see in another ancient series, it's Kevin. He looks stiff and uncomfortable in his costumes and it's obvious he doesn't have the 'ancient' aura. Kevin fits modern series much better.
Susanna Kwan - "Yuen Chiu Wan"
As a woman who's worked in the Imperial Bureau for who knows how long, Yuen Chiu Wan is as a pure and innocent figure you could get in a place like the palace. Although believed to be a villain when the series first started, it became evident that Chiu Wan was indeed a person with a big heart. While I wouldn't say she was my favorite character, she was definitely the character I pitied most.
I'm used to Susanna playing loud and outspoken characters, so watching her portray the rather quiet Yuen Chiu Wan was a different experience. While she's a versatile actress who I've become very fond of, I much prefer her loud and outspoken characters. Nevertheless, Susanna delivered a good performance.
Michelle Yim - "Chung Suet Ha"
Rather stubborn and calculating, Suet Ha can be very spiteful. It is ironic how she and Chui Wan could've ever been 'sisters' in the first place with their ridiculous arguments. With Chui Wan's kind but cautious and scared nature, I don't doubt for one second that it's mostly Suet Ha's fault their so called 'sisterhood' fell apart numerous times. Although I pitied her for her loss of her love, Po Kat Cheung, my sympathy only lasted for so long because she started acting like a child.
It seems as though it's been a while since Michelle has portrayed a likable character. Disregarding the character, Michelle gave a solid performance as always. Also, Michelle has taken great care of herself all these years as she still looks youthful and pretty in her ancient costume.
Other Notable Performances
Susan Tse - "Empress Kwok"Excellent and flawless performance by Susan Tse! What she can do with her eyes is amazing, and her evil glares have the ability the send chills down my spine! She is definitely deserving of the recognition she's been getting for her acting. Although she was only around for a couple episodes, her character and performance is probably what left the deepest impact on me.The line that Empress Kwok gives to Empress Cheng (Mary Hon) is one I'll never forget: "Mui Mui, I'd like to borrow something, your head." What a haunting and misleading phrase!
Lee Kwok Lun - "Ma Yuen Chi"
It's actually a shame Lee Kwok Lun didn't win Best Supporting Actor at this year's anniversary awards. After all, he's never going to get such a golden opportunity again. Lee Kwok Lun's ability to portray a villain so realistically is astounding. At this point, I would be convinced if Lee Kwok Lun IS indeed General Ma.
Selena Li "Man Bo Yin"
For an actress who didn't even understand a majority of the script during the beginning of filming, I'm impressed by Selena's portrayal of the initially spoiled and rather b*tchy girl turned sweet and innocent one. This being Selena's first time portraying such an initially catty character, I loved her performance. As for the later turned sweet Bo Yin, that was nothing new for Selena. Although disappointed she didn't even manage to get into the top 5 for Best Supporting Actress, it became awfully clear to me her performance was nothing compared to her veteran costars. However, it was great to see Selena back and the actress looks very pretty and angelic in ancient costumes. By the end, Man Bo Yin was one of the characters I pitied most.
Cheung Kwok Keung - "Man Kim Fung"
I'm now convinced of Cheung Kwok Keung's versatility after seeing him portray the villain in You're Hired and the righteous General Man in Beyond. The actor really knows how to communicate with his eyes as well. In the last 3 episodes where he is paralyzed and can not speak nor move, he still delivers a great performance by 'speaking with his eyes.' While I'm sad that General Man could not be cured of his paralyzation in the end, I respect TVB's decision to not have him cured. After all, such a thing couldn't happen in real life. General Man is probably my favorite character.
Ram Chiang - "Bo Kat Cheung"
Ram never fails to bring a smile to my face with his comedic characters. His performance is not the overall best, but he definitely shined and brought comic relief. I was aggaravated by his sudden death, and missed his presence onscreen. Bo Kat Cheung is another one of my favs, because he was incredibly sweet, especially in the way he pursued Suet Ha.
Lawerence Ng & Little Sam Ho + Little Yiu Kam Ling
All three are absolutely adorable! Lawerence is just so cute and charming and I always enjoy watching him onscreen. It is ironic how the child actress who played little Sam Ho probably outperformed a few of the artistes in the series despite her age and inexperience. She is so adorable! Little Sam Ho and little Yiu Kam Ling sure know how to shed real tears. The scene of the two crying at the well was one that made me shed tears myself. Finally, that was the only time throughout the whole series in which I cried. I'm pleased with Mui Siu Ching's decision to have the actress who played little Sam Ho come back to play Sam Ho's child.
Characterization for this series was very poor. I'm disappointed that even though this is a grand production, TVB didn't put any extra effort into developing the characters. I noticed that usually a grand production will feature at least one dynamic, and multi layered character. For example, Chai Kau from Rosy Business, Ko Cheung Sing from The Gem of Life, and Chung Siu Sa from Moonlight Resonance. Each character was flat and nothing special. It wasn't surprising that practically every character in this series was evil or at least 'semi-evil.' It doesn't help though that our three main protagonists, Lau Sam Ho, Li Chen, and Ko Hin Yeung are the most boring characters.
Favorite characters: Man Kim Fung, Man Bo Yin, and Bo Kat Cheung
Chemistry & Love Relationships
Lau Sam Ho (Charmaine Sheh) and Ko Hin Yeung (Kevin Cheng)
It blows my mind that TVB would pair these two up again, after all the gossip the two have recieved. It was painfully obvious during filming the two tried their best to keep their distance, as no chemistry was present. Lau Sam Ho and Ko Hin Yeung's love line felt like another poor attempt to recreate the tragic palace romance.
Chung Suet Ha (Michelle Yim) and Bo Kat Cheung (Ram Chiang)
These two made the sweetest couple ever, and I couldn't help but smile in any of the scenes the two shared. Kat Cheung's attempts at pursuing Suet Ha were so sweet. The fact that he is uneducated and wrote a love poem for Suet Ha by drawings was very creative, romantic, and adorable. It saddens me that just as the two are finally together, Kat Cheung's character has to be 'sacrificed' just to make the plot of Yiu Kam Ling turning evil go forward.
Yuen Chui Wan (Susanna Kwan) and Man Kim Fung (Cheung Kwok Keung)
Chui Wan and Kim Fung's love story was what I call a better attempt at a tragic palace romance. Perhaps since Susanna and Cheung Kwok Keung are more experienced, I actually felt the chemistry between the two. Their love story is the plot I felt most interested in and I have to admit that a big push factor for me to finish this series was to watch the two. Though I don't necessarily like the unrealistically happy endings TVB pushes out, I'm satisified that Chui Wan and Kim Fung could finally be reunited and together after undergoing so many misunderstandings and obstacles. They are my favorite couple in the series and this is the first time I've ever felt for a 'middle aged' couple.
Unless I were to watch War and Beauty, I think I'll stay away from palace series from now on. All the arguing, backstabbing, lying, and cheating feels so immature and is aggravating to watch. Plus, I easily become irritated when justice is not served and the 'good guy' is left to suffer while the evil gets away with the glory. Suffering was definitely one of the themes in the series. One way or another, all the characters suffered.
In terms of plot though, things were sloppy. I expected a complex and intriguing drama. I really don't know why, especially since this is TVB we're talking about. Even though I've just finished this series yesterday, already, the plot feels all murky in my mind. The deepest impression the plot had on me was all the ridiculous arguing. As for positive impressions though, I loved watching Yuen Chui Wan and Man Kim Fung.
I've never watched 'Jewel in the Palace', which is the series Beyond is based off of. However, with all the critical praise it's gotten, some who go as far as to saying it's Asia's best drama, Beyond definitely doesn't live up as an 'adaptation.'
Many scenes were boring and unnecessary. The series felt draggy at many times. It amuses me how I can't call this a time killer, because it seems to make the time go by even slower. Perhaps the pacing of the series is the problem. While the series started off strong with a solid and promising pilot episode, it quickly goes downhill. Beyond starts to pick up again after episode 15 with the entrance of Selena's character. The scenes Tavia and Selena shared when Man Bo Yin first appears are easily the best scenes of the entire series. Although it picks ups and gradually gets better, it still can not live up to everyone's massive expectations. Perhaps it's because of my interest in Man Kim Fung and Yuen Chui Wan, but the last 3 episodes or so managed to keep me interested. I actually felt intrigued and wanted to keep watching.
The Death Factor
Though it is expected that there are many deaths in a grand production, the number of deaths in this series astounds me. In fact, there are so many deaths that you can't even count them all with your fingers and toes. Although some are necessary, many felt unneeded. A majority of the characters in general felt unnecessary. Perhaps the death factor was just a way of pointing out that a life in the palace was delicate. You make one mistake, boom, you're gone. No matter what you do, you were always just a step away from death.
The Ending Scene
I'm guessing this is Producer Mui's idea of 'ending with a cliffhanger to let the audience assume.' When the end credits rolled, I felt confused. My mind was thinking 'wait, that's it? What just happened?' Do Lau Sam Ho and Ko Hin Yeung end up together? Is Ko Hin Yeung suffering from amnesia? Did he recall who Sam Ho was if he did? Honestly, I don't care. However, it was a sloppy script move on Producer Mui's side. Plus, my slowly increasingly optimistic view of the series came to a terribly sudden pitfall upon watching the last scene. All the slightly positive thoughts I started to have about the last few episodes of the series were destroyed.
Beyond is not the worst series ever. I'm not going as far as to say that. However, it's not a 'good series.' It has a few merits when it comes to captivating performances (mainly from Susan and Lee Kwok Lun). I look for plot though, and that was what this series was lacking. To be nicer though, I believe I would've enjoyed the latter parts of the series if I hadn't had so much anticipation beforehand. If I were to watch this series with no expectations, maybe my opinion would be slightly better. Eh, maybe not, but who knows? Honestly, Beyond the Realm of Conscience? Disappointment.
Rating: 3 stars
It was so unexpected that Wayne would win! I don't think he was ever in the top 10 on tvb.com either. I think we all figured that with Raymond and Yoyo out of the competition, Tavia would win for sure. It was definitely a surprise that Wayne won the award, but it's definitely deserved. Who else has gained so much popularity since last year? :)
Most Improved Actress
Winner: Aimee Chan
Top 5: Aimee Chan, Sharon Chan, Queenie Chiu, Catherine Chau, and Koni Lui
I was afraid it was going to happpen, and it happened. Aimee was probably the only undeserving winner of the night. This year has confirmed that Sharon has joined the circle of artises (along with Selena Li, Bernice Liu, Natalie Tong, etc) who will never win this award. While she's good for a newcomer, I think she's simply that: a newcomer. Being a newcomer, you can't say she 'improved' as she's still so new. I pity Sharon, who has improved so much more and has so much more experience. The night would've been perfect if Sharon won.
Most Improved Actor
Winner: Pierre Ngo Ka Nin
Top 5: Ngo Ka Nin, Raymond Wong, Johnson Lee, Raymond Chiu, and Jim Tang
So there is justice in this world! After working hard for TVB in kelefe and supporting roles for almost 10 years, Ngo Ka Nin finally gets the recognition he deserves. His performance in Rosy Business was truly awesome! He's always been a great actor (and singer) so I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in the future.
My Favorite Female Character
Winner: Tavia Yeung
Top 5: Tavia Yeung, Charmaine Sheh (for both Lam Miu Miu and Lau Sam Ho), Teresa Mo, and Sheren Tang
Although I would've prefered for Charmaine's Lam Miu Miu to win, watching Tavia accept the award was so sweet. While this award seems to be crap to the artistes who win it (Think Charmaine in 2006 and Raymond in 2008), Tavia was so sincere and thankful. She literally broke into tears and asked Charmaine to come up and gave her a hug. It was also very cute when Felix presented the award. He took Tavia's hand and led her to the stage telling her she won instead of presenting it. It's reactions like Tavia's that make me smile. :D
My Favorite Male Character
Winner: Wayne Lai
Top 5: Wayne Lai, Dayo Wong, Michael Tse, Kevin Cheng, Moses Chan
Winner: Susan Tse
Top 5: Susan Tse, Linda Chung, Fala Chen, Susanna Kwan, and Michelle Yim
With two fantastic villain roles in Rosy Business and Beyond, Susan's portrayals are flawless. The best female performance in the disappointing Beyond was hands down Susan's short appearance as the empress. She has the amazing way of communicating her eyes, making chills go down our spine. The expressions she gives are haunting. Being the weakest category this year (other than Most Improved Actress), I can't think of anyone else who I'd like to win this award.
Best Supporting Actor
Top 5: Michael Tse, Ngo Wah, Lee Kwok Lun, Ngo Ka Nin, and Kenneth Ma
Again, I will never understand the hype of Laughing Gor. I have to hand it to Michael though because he gave an awesome performance. He's always been a good actor, and if it has to be an overhyped character that gets him noticed, then so be it! But now I'm thinking...when will it be Derek's time to shine?
Winner: Sheren Tang
Top 5: Sheren Tang, Ada Choi, Teresa Mo, Tavia Yeung, and Charmaine Sheh
I couldn't be anymore happier that this award finally falls into the exquisete Sheren's hands! It may be 5 years late, but after much waiting Sheren at last gets the title 'TV Queen.' She was so sweet during her acceptance speech! You could tell that she was so happy and nervous at the same time as her acceptance speech was the longest of all. She couldn't stop talking and even went on to say that it'd be perfect if Wayne won Beset Actor. Congratulations Sheren, we all love you!
Winner: Wayne Lai
Top 5: Wayne Lai, Dayo Wong, Steven Ma, Moses Chan, and Bosco Wong
You know that Wayne was definitely going to get this award, not just because other than the non-contracted Dayo the top 5 nominees stink, but because of his perfect performance. I believe that he is the only person who could've portrayed the stubborn and complex Chai Kau as well as he did. Congratulations, Wayne, you've made Sheren's Best Actress win complete! :D
Winner: Rosy Business!
Top 5: Rosy Business, E.U., Burning Flame 3, You're Hired, and Beyond the Realm of Conscience
The most pleasant surprise of the evening! With me being my critical self, I did not enjoy Beyond as much as I hoped and was disappointed for the most part. I wasn't pleased to hear that the finale of the series recieved almost record breaking ratings of 50 points, which made us all believe that it'd take home this award. Well, I was wrong and I've never been more happy to! Rosy Business has the best script for a series in years as well as a great cast. It deserves this award every bit.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner: Lee Tim Sing
First we thought it'd be Lee Heung Kam. After Chan Hung Lit's death we thought it'd be him. Surprise, surprise, it turns out to be Lee Tim Sing! Another surprise but also pleasant. Lee Tim Sing is now my favorite producer and I never would've thought this award would be handed to him! Now I feel rather dumb because it was the perfect timing. With Rosy Business being such a hit, of course this award should be given to him! We're happy for you Lee Tim Sing!
Random Top 5 Nominees?
Before ending this post I'd like to add that this year's top 5 nominees are so random.
Best Actor: Steven and Bosco? Steven's a great actor but his performance in Sweetness in the Salt wasn't any more special than his usual productions. Plus, TVB's wish to release the series from the warehouse to create more success only ended in failure/mediocre ratings. And Bosco?! He wasn't even supposed to be in this category!
Best Supporting Actor: I'm pleased to see that Kenneth made it into the top 5! I'm even more proud of the adorable 'big kid' that he is the only one from Born Rich to make it into the top 5. Where did Ngo Wah come from? He was so just someone to fill up the space! Why isn't Derek even in the top 5???
Best Supporting Actress: What a shame Nancy and/or Selena didn't make it into the top 5! Where did Fala come from? I don't think it's fair she was nominated for this category in the first place, as she was clearly lead.
On the other hand, I'd like to thank TVB to recognize our 'black horse' candidates Dayo Wong, Linda Chung, and Teresa Mo. :)
Congratulations to this year's winners!