Drama Review: Noblesse Oblige TVB (宦海奇官)
Watched this because a big fan of Tavia and this series did not disappoint!
To Zan Feng is the illegitimate second son of wealthy banker To Co Nan. He operates a bank that loans out equipments and lands rather than money, hoping that people can grow their own food and support themselves by selling the food as well as eventually return the money. One day, he meets nuns-to-be Wai Lam and Wai Yu who are trying to pawn off their temple's land for money to treat their head nun's illness. Eventually, they are forced to become Zan Feng's maids in order to repay the debt that Wai Yu scams from him. After escaping death, he encounters the brother of the Kangxi emperor Fuk Qun and becomes an official that fights corruption with the help of Fuk Qun. Being well-equiped with martial arts, Wai Lam and Wai Yu soon become his bodyguards, protecting him on his journey fighting against the corrupted officials. He soon goes head-to-head with his brother To Zan Ming who is a student under the guidance of his mentor Wing Bak Hin, who is the mastermind behind all the corruption. Zan Feng soon discovers the truth behind Wai Lam's background and his father's death being associated with Wing Bak Hin.
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 8/10 stars
Beginning started off slow but gradually picked up - a plot that I haven't seen from TVB from a long time! Watched this because of the cast and the producer whose productions are usually a hit. I loved how To Zan Feng used various tactics to fight against corruption, especially an eye for an eye, when he captures their sons. Now that I think about it, should his character be considered an anti-hero?
The leads and supporting cast were awesome! Everyone acted their parts well - especially the veterans Lee Shing Cheung, Ram Tseung, and Susan Tse.
Kenneth Ma as To Zan Feng
Tavia Yeung as Wai Lam
Benjamin Yuen as Fong Gwai Cheung
Cilla Kung as Wai Yu
Joel Chan as To Zan Ming
Lee Shing Cheung as Wing Bak Hin
Ram Tseung as Ngoi San Gok Law Fuk Qun
Susan Tse as Tong Yun Ching
Lau Dan as To Co Nan
The first few episodes didn't get me hooked but since I'm a huge fan of Tavia Yeung and the previous works of the producer, I continued on which I absolutely don't regret doing. The story finally picks up when Kenneth Ma becomes an official under the guidance of Ram Tsang.
I warmed up to Kenneth's acting only in the latter half of the series; at the beginning, I was hoping Bobby Au Yeung could have played the role since it wouldn't be as exaggerated and obnoxious as Kenneth's acting. But chemistry-wise, I do enjoy the KenTa pairing a lot since The Hippocratic Crush, though Noblesse Oblige pales in comparison to this drama.
The series picked up around episode 10 when Kenneth begins fighting against the corrupted officials and trying to outsmart them in stealing back the rice for the people. The scenes near the ending gave me a lot of chills, really glad I didn't watched it at night! I don't know how the scriptwriters can think of such a plot - the reason why Tavia's mother did what she did and why her brother died was ridiculous. Just because they were accused of stealing goose, drama happened. Now that I think about it though, I understand why it's so ridiculous - it kind of shows how the law was unfair for the poor and how they can easily fall prey to the rich's corruption. This shows how even such a tiny incident can break apart a happy family.
1. Kenneth Ma - I didn't like his character at first and I get chills when I listen to him sing that song. But he begins to stick to me as his character was consistent and comical especially his interactions with Prince Yuxian. I still remember the ending scene where he was talking to Wai Lam after a year - he was telling her he is going abroad to become a priest and did seem like he has let go of his past. But once Wai Lam tells him that she didn't become the leader of her sect, his tone and the soothing music quickly changed and I couldn't stop laughing.
(Soothing music playing in background)
Wai Lam: Long time no see. You---
Zan Feng: You've came to visit your family?
WL: Yes, today is the anniversary of my mother's death. When did you become a priest?
ZF: Not yet, but soon. Going through so many things, I've learned to move on. I finally understood that if people have a belief, they wouldn't think astray. Luckily, I have the chance to see you today or else I don't know when we will see each other again.
ZF: Tomorrow I am going to Italy to study theology. After I return, I will learn how to become a priest from Father Francis. Oh, how are doing as the head of your sect? Is it fun? Are you enjoying it?
WL: I didn't, I didn't become the head.
ZF: You didn't become the head? You didn't become a nun? (pulls on Tavia's braids)
WL: Ay, ay! It hurts!
ZF: Then why didn't you look for me?
WL: I did, I quickly went and look for you but couldn't find you.
ZF: You could have asked people!
WL: No one knew where you went!
ZF: Oh yeah, no one knew where I went. Wait, then what now?
WL: What's what now? This just means we were never meant to be.
ZF: Never meant to be? Ay, we'll come back later! Come, follow me.
So he goes to Father Francis and tells him that Wai Lam didn't become a nun, she didn't become the head of her sect, so he doesn't want to go to Italy to study theology and become a priest. Father Francis tells him to leave it to fate that if he can get a refund for the ticket, then he can stay. But Prince Yuxian comes barging in and insists that he we pay for the ticket and scolds Zan Feng for leaving abruptly, causing him to look for him for a whole year.
2. Tavia Yeung - I have always been her fan since 2006's Face to Fate. She was one of the reason why I watched this and continued on even when I really wanted to drop this at the beginning. I am glad her character actually has content though abrupt since her past is revealed as a way to bring the antagonist to his end. But no matter what, Tavia's acting doesn't disappoint. I was so glad she didn't wear that nun's outfit throughout the drama.
3. Benjamin Yuen - His character was decent - I liked the bromance between him and Kenneth but his character didn't allow him to showcase/polish his acting skills.
4. Cilla Kung - At first, I was so annoyed by her character. But I warmed up to her like I did for Kenneth's character but I ended up liking Cilla's character a bit more. She is naive, funny, and supportive! One major thing I liked is that her character remains consistent as evidenced when Tavia wanted to kill Wing Bak Hin and Cilla supports her which is fitting to her character.
5. Joel Chan - I dislike his character when he stops Kenneth from doing things his own way. Not quite a big fan of his character since was never convinced by his love towards Yoyo's Bak Hau Ling. I just couldn't accept how he cheated on his wife who was kind and pure at heart.
6. Yoyo Chen - She is a really pretty actress but never gets a memorable/meaty role. Her role here is actually a great opportunity to showcase her acting - I really enjoyed watching her character though I didn't like her pairing with Joel.
7. The veterans: Susan Tse unquestionably does well in these roles as the bitchy first mistress; Ram Tseung, after receiving Best Supporting, continues to deliver a comedic yet powerful performance, such as in his scenes with Kenneth versus his mind-play scenes with Lee Shing Cheung. Lee Shing Cheung has played the antagonists numerous times that I believe this role was a piece of cake for him - he deserves a Best Supporting Actor award. I especially loved his performance as Ah Gong in Moonlight Resonance; he made me hate his character so much!