|SERIES REVIEW >>
THE GRAND CANAL
Dai Wan Ho
Date Aired: 3.09.1987
No. of Episodes: 60
"The Grand Canal" was TVB's 20th Anniversary series,
featuring many popular actors now and then. It also had some
new faces like Jimmy who had starred in only 2 major series
prior to this production, and Wong Yee Gum and Cheng Yim Foong
who had entered the one-time pageant, Miss TV. The series was
shot in China under harsh conditions, but due to such effort
that TVB would not dream of making today, the series was ladened
with wonderful scenery and sets, and most of all, beautiful
Thanks to Ngoc Hang and her generosity, I finally got to watch
this highly anticipated series recently. It didn't disappoint
me one bit, I'm glad to say.
Then I thought about what I could 'possibly' write a review
on. The full summary has already been done somewhere else. Plus
if I were to summarize this 60 episodes-long series, that would
ruin it. I don't have many pictures to decorate this section.
What to do, what to do.
I guess I've landed on my traditional way of introducing the
characters and the point of highlights. As for the characters,
I've provided a bit of profile for some of the main ones, but
it is in no way comprehensive. Forgive me if I left out some
characters that I thought had little bearing on the series as
|CAST & CHARACTERS
Yim Hak | Yeung
Lan Ling | Lee
Jing | Yeung
Gwong | Lee
Chut Chun | Lee
Seung Yee | Chun
Wei Leung | Lee
Sin Mo Kau | Yeung
Yung | The
"Lee" Family | The
"Yeung" Family | Others
Idy (Yeung Lan Ling)
will never understand why someone as bright as Yeung Lan Ling
was so blinded and thick-headed when it came to figuring out
her brother's diabolical nature. I was very tempted to knock
some sense into her head, but alas, I couldn't get into my TV.
=*( Anyhow, it got so frustrating when she refused to believe
that Yeung Gwong was behind all the evil deeds that took place,
and kept on misunderstanding Cheung Sam Long for this. This
part of her character really went against the intelligence she
portrayed in the beginning of the series.
This was Idy's second portrayal as a princess. Inherently,
there were some comparisons made between her character in "The
Wild Bunch" and "The Grand Canal." Some described
Idy as a whiner (she was) in "The Wild Bunch," while
her role in "The Grand Canal" was a warrior princess.
However, for the first few episodes of "The Grand Canal,"
I was STRONGLY reminded of her character in "The Wild Bunch."
They were both forceful and obnoxious, always having to have
their way. Both of them changed for the better as the series
progressed, but for the most part, I really think they share
some common characteristics.
Jimmy (Lee Jing)
People were skeptical of his performance in this series, but
it is hard to imagine anyone else replacing this role. He was
as heroic as he could ever get. Meaning,
he never, EVER, got this kind of role again after the 80's.
It's inherent that I treasure his role in this series so much
because it was once in a lifetime performance he made, occupying
much of the screen time and even getting together with a girl
(the RIGHT way, NOT by harrassing).
Felix (Lee Mut)
Felix playing a villain was quite rare
in the 80's ancient series. Other than this one, he was a villain
in "Tai Ping Tin Kwok," "Kei Moon Gwai Guk," and "Genghis Khan."
(2 of them which starred Jimmy as well, a coincidence perhaps?)
Some people are convinced that Felix would never play a villain
mainly because he is better known for some bigshot heroic roles
like Kwok Jing from LOCH 83 or Kiu Fung from DGSD 96. Apparently,
they missed this series. =_= By far, he is the nastiest, sleaziest,
meanest, and the most hateable (for my liking) character in
the entire series. He makes me sick basically, but
the fact that he has the ability to have me feel this way makes
him one of my favorite actors as well. I would've appreciated
more of his acting as villains but that never pulled through
after the 80's.
Lawrence (Yeung Gwong)
It's no surprise to see Lawrence as another
villain in this series. I find that's what he's good at - playing
evil characters that could spare him no sympathy whatsoever
from my point of view. But unlike Felix playing a stealth villain,
Lawrence's character is more outwardly evil. Felix surely had
me fooled with his 'heroic' statue in the beginning but with
Lawrence and the way he smiles connivingly after his objective
is achieved, it's easy to tell that he's not a friendly character.
I thought he was rather cute in this series (har har).
There were three prominent love stories in this series. Tony
& Idy, Jimmy & Wong Yee Gum, and Sean & Margie.
There also were Lawrence's lust for many women, Jimmy's side
affair with Rebecca, and Cheng Yim Foong's one-sided crush towards
Jimmy (Lee Jing) & Wong Yee Gum (Cheung Chut Chun) &
Rebecca (Chun Wei Leung)
This passing romance between the two infuriated many Jimmy
fans like myself. It was not too great to see my favorite character
who is supposed to be righteous cheating on his wife. But overtime,
I grew to understand Lee Jing more.
Chun Wei Leung, as a former princess of a fallen dynasty, could
not do anything but look pretty in front of people all her life.
She did not possess Yeung Lan Ling's brave nature or strength.
As soon as her dynasty fell in the hands of the Yeung's, she
became the paramour of the Emperor. Although the Emperor (as
old as he was) was nice to her, she probably felt smothered
in her environment. It would be quite natural that she would
feel attracted towards someone like Lee Jing, a young and gallant
person who could introduce her to a new world outside the palace
(well, they were running away from the soldiers, what else could
On the other hand, Cheung Chut Chun (CCC) was quite the opposite
of Chun Wei Leung. She had a rough life as an orphan, therefore,
she was very independent. She was not the type who needed protection
from men. Her wisdom surpassed that of her husband's and although
she respected him, she was not totally submissive. She would
not be the type of a wife that an average man would want back
in those days.
It is very easy to accuse Lee Jing of falling for Chun Wei
Leung for her beauty, but that is far from the truth.
The only reason Lee Jing and CCC hooked up initially was because
of responsibility (he had eloped with this gal, thereby tainting
her reputation). A bit of attraction and liking was involved,
but certainly not the love factor. They got married faster than
the couples who pay 50 bucks at Las Vegas to get hitched, plus
they were always either running away or planning things that
gave them hardly any time to develop any feelings other than
mutual respect. When he met Chun Wei Leung, it must've been
a total shock to him because he was actually with someone who
"needed" him. No, Cheung Sam Long was not being a
chauvinistic pig and generalizing that all women needed to be
protected by men; that was just the standard of how things were
then (even in modern times for many people). It was clear that
CCC was a woman who could stand on her own and Chun Wei Leung
was not. Beauty had very little to do with this matter.
It seems like Lee Jing was contemplating on the definition
of a "spouse." If he sought a wife that he could protect
and feel like a man in front of, Chun Wei Leung would've been
the one. If he thought having a wife meant having a life-long
partner, someone who could physically and intellectually help
him in times of need, someone who could walk in his path together
and truly understand him, CCC would've been the one. Of course,
Lee Jing was not an average man (a bit slow, but still bright).
He had goals and ambitions to better his nation. Because of
this, I was very certain that he would come back to CCC no matter
what -- not because he was a moralist, not because Chun Wei
Leung died, but because he knew that CCC would fulfill what
was missing in him. I guess that's when you use the cliche "the
missing half" or "the soulmate."
I felt that the relationship between Lee Jing and his wife
was the most mature one out of all. Unlike Cheung Sam Long &
Yeung Lan Ling who always quarrelled, or Mo Kau always bullying
Lee Sai Mun, Lee Jing's love story was something that I could
see develop in a fine direction.
Tony (Cheung Sam Long) & Cheng Yim Foong (Lee Seung Yee)
Was it love or obsession? To me, it was a mixture of both among
other things. Seung Yee was not a vixen of the series, but it
cannot be denied that she manipulated Cheung Sam Long's brotherly
love for her in some ways. She played a key role in breaking
up Cheung Sam Long and Yeung Lan Ling whenever there was a chance,
knowing that Sam Long would believe her words no matter what.
She did this because of her brother, but it was obvious that
she envied Yeung Lan Ling for winning Sam Long's heart and felt
jealous along the line.
The fact that Seung Yee came in between Sam Long and Lan Ling
did not anger me, but she was a complex character to understand.
She did things to harm Sam Long and his colleague, yet she always
felt bad about what she did. Yet she continued following her
brother's orders until she became very confused.
I began thinking that her love for Sam Long involved more than
a mere man-woman relationship. Maybe she sought for his brotherly
affection that she could not receive from her own brother, Lee
Mut. All Lee Mut did was to use her and eventually lead her
to kill herself. Seung Yee had never been given love throughout
her life, so I could see why she clung onto Sam Long and was
not willing to let go even if it meant hurting him. Sometimes,
the extreme situations made me hate her (I especially loathed
her nasally voice whenever she said "Kau dai-goh"),
but for the most part, I took a great pity on her.
Sean (Lee Sai Mun) & Margie (Cheung Sin Mo Kau)
This relationship made me smile so much because it was very
cute. Lee Sai Mun's gravity and Mo Kau's vivaciousness matched
perfectly. Whenever Mo Kau followed Cheung Sam Long around,
I couldn't help noticing Lee Sai Mun's pretending-to-be-okay-but-kinda-jealous
eyes. ^_^ He even looked that way when she was playing with
his brother! Sort of like, "I like her but she doesn't
pay attention to me" feeling. Historically, Queen Cheung
Sin was the most beloved wife of Lee Sai Mun, so it made sense
that Lee Sai Mun would look at Mo Kau the way he did.
|ON SCENES & COSTUMES
backdrop of this series was splendid, with authentic sets and
scenery. I loved the way TVB didn't use any special effects,
making every kung fu move seem realistic.
I had so many favorite scenes that it would be impossible to
document them all, but to name a few, I liked all of Liu Kai
Chi's scenes in Tak Kuet with Jimmy. The best part was when
Jimmy got on his horse and shot an arrow that hit the golden
bell. Also, there was a polo game between Liu Kai Chi's crew
and the Tak Kuet soldiers which was really fun to watch.
I cannot discuss this series without talking about the costumes.
It is very unfortunate that the costumes in these series were
all lost when TVB's wardrobe was burned down in the late 80's,
because they were truly exceptional. I have never seen so many
costumes being used in one series, albeit the series was 60
episodes long. I could hardly keep my eyes off of Idy's clothes
-- someone counted that she had 18 different ones! I liked her
white and orange costumes the best, although she looked good
in all of them (esp. pink, which she wore the most often). I
also liked Lawrence's silky navy blue clothes he wore in the
beginning of the series. Even Jimmy and Wong Yee Gum who were
known to wear only white and red clothes had different shades
of white and red costumes.
|ANCIENT HEROES vs. THE GRAND CANAL
It is inappropriate to compare "Ancient Heroes" with
"The Grand Canal" because AH never claimed itself
to be a true remake of the GC. It is just a spin-off of the
GC which is already based on a famous story, so other than sharing
some common background and characters, AH is rather different
from the GC.
The cast of "Ancient Heroes" include:
Lam Ka Wah - Kau Yim Hak
Marianne Chan Mui Ying - Yeung Lan Ling
Eddie Cheung Siu Fai - Lee Sai Mun
Patrick Tam Yiu Man - Lee Jing
Jojo Cho Jung - Cheung Chut Chun
Ng Wai Kwok - Lee Mut
Liz Kong and Maggie Cheung Ho Yee also starred in this series,
although I don't remember them at all. Lastly, Elaine Ho Yuen
Ying tops off the cast as Eddie's younger sister.
AH focuses heavily on Eddie Cheung's character as Lee Sai
Mun. In the beginning, there is a brief spark between Lam
Ka Wah and Marianne, but that soon dims when Marianne is killed.
I think she was a daughter of Yeung Sau, not a princess in AH.
It is also hinted that Eddie was fond of Marianne, possibly
in love with her.
Patrick and Jojo have a few scenes together when they initially
meet. Their characters don't have much weight as Jimmy and Wong
Yee Gum did in the GC. Lawrence's character is completely eliminated,
which I thought was pretty odd. Ng Wai Kwok revives the nasty
old role portrayed by Felix and Ng did look like nasty old Lee
Mut. He is quite used to playing bad guys so I had no problem
I did, however, have some problem with Lam Ka Wah pairing up
with young, fresh, and supposed-to-be-cute and outgoing Elaine
Ho. He looked like her father!
Overall, AH is a nice way to get someone's feet wet before
trying out the longer and heavier series that the Grand Canal
tends to be. It is short and somewhat entertaining. I recommend
it to any Eddie Cheung fans like myself, although it's disheartening
to see him not getting together with anyone.
-->The Grand Canal Gallery
modified on 5-05-2002
written by Clair
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