Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Foundation - a heartbreaking Michael/Barbara ancient series

Li Sai Man (Michael Miu) and Chun Sik Sik (Barbara Yung) in The Foundation 1984

After finishing Fearless Duo 1984, I want to see other Michael Miu/Barbara Yung series. I still have three to watch: Legend of Condor Heroes 1982 where they were bitter enemies (Yeung Hong or Yang Kang vs Wung Yung or Huang Rong); United We Stand 1984 (they were lovers, tho Babs played twins, and the twins loved two different men, Michael one of them); and The Foundation 1984. The last one I don't really want to watch for I will definitely cry buckets of tears and may not be able to show my face to the public for a while... 

In The Foundation (决战玄武门), Michael portrayed Li Sai Man (Li Shi Min) who was the co-founder of the Tang Dynasty. Later known as Emperor Taizong, Li Sai Man was originally a happy-go-lucky young prince who met a servant village girl in his counselor's household (Chun Sik Sik, portrayed by our lovely Barbara). Li Sai Man then fell in love with Sik Sik, the humble village girl who used to love Kong Fung (Felix Wong), a man from her village who left her to improve his kung fu career. Sik Sik then also fell in love with Sai Man and left her love for Kong Fung behind. 

Have a look at this MV by Thaijet. How beautiful and sad it is...SPOILERS ahead. For those who don't want to be spoiled, don't watch the MV till finished. The music is not the original the Foundation OST. Rather, it was from the Return of Condor Heroes (1983), featuring Andy Lau and Idy Chan. The next MV below the break contains the original OST of the Foundation. 

I'm not sure if Li Sai Man was originally jealous with Kong Fung, but they later became friends. Kong Fung still loved Sik Sik and regretted leaving her, but he knew Sai Man and Sik Sik were an item already by the time he met her again. Many viewers said that it was a nice change to see Michael Miu and Felix Wong finally portraying best friends here after them being bitter enemies in the Legend of Condor Heroes 1982. Oh I wish the ending isn't so depressing... I actually do want to see this series. Only 20 episodes anyway...

Li Sai Man (Michael Miu) and Kong Fung (Felix Wong), pinterest
Li Sai Man was drop-dead gorgeous... 
...and Sik Sik was a very genteel lady

Later, the relationship between LSM and Sik Sik became more complicated because Sai Man became involved in the palace politics. He eventually "had" to do something that totally broke my heart and the hearts of so many viewers of this series. Just watch the first MV to see what I mean. And below is the second MV with the OST by Tomoyo262.

In reality, Sai Man was a good politician, and despite his bad records (he killed his brothers for the throne), he was also recorded as a great, if not the greatest, emperor of China. I read in some forums that Michael did portray Li Sai Man's amazing political and strategic skills in the Foundation. I'm certain that Sik Sik was an imaginary character though... but it does not reduce my sadness to learn how the series ends. Many viewers said that Li Sai Man and Sik Sik made a very good couple, and just from watching the two MVs, I can understand why. Too bad LSM decided to do what he did then in the series...

For those who have watched this series and prefer an alternative, happier ending, TLN of the MB Paradise forum wrote this amazing fanfiction years ago. Go there and have a read. I can't produce a better alternative ending myself.

part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4
part 5

I haven't found any English sub Cantonese version of the Foundation. If I do find it, I will watch it with a box of tissue. Later, I will also post summaries, but perhaps shorter due to my heart break...

The start was really good between them... (screen cap Tomoyo262)
but then he just had to be involved in the palace politics (screen cap Tomoyo262)
Leaving us wishing for the alternative ending...(screen cap Tomoyo262)

Although some Li Sai Man/Li Shi Min series or movies have been produced afterwards, many still consider Michael Miu's Li Sai Man as the ultimate LSM (just like his Yeung Hong/Yang Kang), despite the controversy of the portrayal of Li Sai Man in the Foundation. I do wonder why TVB didn't make a story based on Taizong and Empress Zhangsun's love story instead. Seems Zhangsun was a very capable empress, and Barbara could certainly portray that character very well. And Taizong loved Zhangsun till her death, so that would have been a much nicer story... or at least less tears... 

By the way, Chun Sik Sik's white garments reminded me of Xiaolongnu's white ensemble in Return of Condor Heroes 1983. Xiaolongnu (portrayed by Idy Chan in the 1983 series) was the teacher and lover of Yang Guo, Yang Kang's son . Might actually be the same dresses? Or at least the same costume designer? Li Sai Man's wardrobe was gorgeous. It produced a different tone of gorgeousness from Chor Lau Heung's gorgeousness, but still drop dead gorgeous.

Update 25 Oct 2015:

Tudou has the Cantonese version of the Foundation here. I will try to download them just so that I can listen to Michael/Babs' voices...I have also found a DVD seller in Indonesia that sells the Mandarin-dubbed (palm/face) of the Foundation, with Indonesian subtitle. I will purchase it and in a month or so, provided that I'm not drowned in my own tears, provide the episode summary. 

Oh yeah. I've been complaining about some Fearless Duo Mandarin-dubbed episodes as well. I just want to say that I do enjoy Mandarin-voiced series (Bu Bu Jing Xin, anyone?). However, after watching CLH 1984 again with Michael's and Barbara's real Cantonese voices, I can't help feeling I much prefer the un-dubbed version of any series. If it's spoken in Cantonese, then for God sake, let it be the voices of the actors and actresses speaking Cantonese that we hear. If it's Mandarin-spoken, then don't dub the actors and actresses. I have a particular problem with this habit/policy with the mainland series, particularly after realising that the film makers extensively dub Nicky Wu's voice for his series. That same dubber also dubs other actors as well, hence one voice is not unique to one actor/actress, which is a shame IMO.

This is also one of the reasons why I'd rather not have Michael Miu playing another ancient series if it has to be shot in the mainland, although he'd play a great patriarch or a mature hero there. If it's shot in Mandarin, a dubber will do a voice-over for him, and I can't hear Michael's gorgeous voice then. To my non-Chinese ears, Michael speaks Mandarin well, so I don't see why he has to be dubbed if he plays Mandarin series. I guess it's really the mainland policy of always dubbing things that doesn't sit well with me...

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