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It is a fiction story. Yun Fat Chow plays a college graduate who came to Shanghai. He is so smart, brave. He loves his family and friends. He fights for his idea. However, the ending is a moving tragedy. If all audiences strongly hope a person not to die, I think he is greatly successful. In the TV-series Chew is such a person.
I remember when this series first came to America on video tape (which was
the *new* format), and staying up all night watching each chapter. Perhaps
one of the best series I have ever seen in my life, and this was before
Kong studios were able to produce slick movies like they do today. For me
this was *the* classic epic mini-series; two friends growing up growing
apart, life in the mob and the changing times around them.
Would love to see this again, but I have never found this on any format. Heck, I would love to own this on DVD!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When this series was played on television in China for the first time
in the 80's (some time after the original 1982 HK broadcast date
because the Cantonese dialog had to be dubbed into Mandarin), the
streets became deserted and even buses stopped running because the
drivers were sitting down to watch the next episode of this exciting
drama series. If a TV series has the power to virtually shut down a
city like Shanghai (which it ironically was set), it has to be pretty
I've watched this series at least twice (possibly three times), the last occasion on video tape some time during the early nineties. It concerns the fight between two men for the affection of one woman, set against the dangerous but exciting backdrop of the Shanghai gangster underworld early last century. As most people are aware, the story ends tragically for the protagonist (Chow) and at least one limb/finger gets chopped off during the series so kids, find something to cover your eyes during those violent scenes.
Chow Yun-Fat hasn't look as good again and is probably the main reason for watching this series. I personally wasn't impressed by the love story. The girl wasn't beautiful enough to be worthy of the two men's love.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before he was Mark Gor in A Better Tomorrow, before he was that cool
assassin in The Killer, before he was John Lee in The Replacement
Killers, he was Mun Gor in The Bund. In case you haven't noticed the
similarities in his characters, its was the first time he had that
slick back hair style, and don on his long trench coat. Even in Chow's
TV series days, he was already an ultra cool icon. **SPOILER ALERT**
Similar to ABT, both Mun Gor and Mark Gor dies at the end by machine
Production budget for these things were pretty low, so its surprising that it turned out as well as it did. A lot of sets are obviously done in studios, but there are quite a few exterior shots which were probably done in Macau. In many ways Macau preserved its old European architecture better than H.K., so its an ideal double as old Shanghai's French or English "leased" territories. BTW, Macau was a Portugese colony, about 2 hrs hydrofoil boat-trip from HK. Sovereignty of Macau was returned to China soon after the historic HK ceremonies in '97. Anyway, the period costumes as I mentioned before looked great, especially on Chow. The props and especially vehicles are not necessarily pre-WWII era, which is when the story takes place. But the cars are antiques, looks to be from about circa late 1940's.
Furthermore, I always thought Angie Chiu was one of the most beautiful Chinese actress to ever grace the screen. She still looks great today, after 20 odd years! So a solid female lead really helped make this series a success.
Lastly, the theme song has got to be the most well known and often sang title songs ever to come out of HK. I believe it was written by HK's musical dynamic duo: Joseph Koo and Jim Wong. The music had a great beat and lyrics told so much of the story.
This series had it all: romance, drama, action. We have lots of gangster drive-by shootings with their tommy guns a la Godfather. The writers picked a time and place where ideals and politics of the Chinese people were changing. China was a Republic under the newly formed government; for the first time in centuries, there was no Emperor. People were expecting great changes for China, but who new the Japanese invasions were just around the corner, and then communism. Anyway, in this setting we see 2 friends rise and fall in the underworld of Shanghai. Their rise to power kept them close, but their mutual love for Ching Ching (Angie Chiu's character) drove them apart.
Part II and III were not nearly as good, and neither were the movie versions. I hadn't seen the series in DVD format yet, but they're definitely available on VCDs. Just check out any books & media shops in your local Chinatowns. Its certainly worth watching for the first time or as repeated viewing.
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