|Kitty Lai (Princess Seung Seung) and Michael Miu (Dik Ching) in DC 1986|
The Legend of Dik Ching (狄青)was the Northern Song rom-com featuring Michael Miu and Kitty Lai as the leads. This was one of the first series Michael played after Barbara's passing in 1985 (the other one was Yang's Saga), which makes it paradoxically sadder to me due to its rom-com nature. However, Wina recommended the series to me. Since it's a Michael Miu series, I thought why not watching it. Plus, I love Kitty Lai as well since I saw her as Zhao Min in HSDS 86 three decades ago. The problem is that there is no English sub for DC, hence I had to just watch the raw version. I still opt to watch the Cantonese version though, at least I still can hear Michael's real voice. Now, the trick is, Youku does not have the complete DC episodes. Luckily, my persistent to view the Canto ver paid off, for I found this Yueyuyy website. Yueyuyy actually airs the Tudou and Youku links, but only Tudou links work. It doesn't have the sub, but that's the only complete collection I can find in Cantonese, so you better watch it soon if you are interested. Click here for the summary in the TVB channel (spellings are Mandarin Pinyin, mostly).
DC was the Northern Song version of Szeto Man Mo. DC's family held exclusive rights to trade salt and rice in the Song kingdom, and they had been doing a fair trade with the consumers. DC liked to prank and a bit good-for-nothing in the beginning, but actually had a golden heart. He had a childhood friend named Yeung Chiyan (Shalin Tse, the yellow-dressed maiden in HSDS 86) who loved him so much. DC worked for the Magistrate or something like that, I suppose after his mother rebuked him for being a lazy bone. Mum was Felix Wong's Kwok Ching's mum (Li Ping) in LOCH 83. DC had a loyal servant named A Fuk (who often became DC's sandbag in the earlier episodes or became DC's unsolicited adviser, though the results were not always guaranteed). DC's nemesis was Pon Sau, another royalty portrayed by the cute Michael Tao (Right Emissary Fan Yao in HSDS 86).
|Dik Ching (Michael Miu) pranking his servant A Fuk, Ep 1|
Other supporting characters in DC's household was his recently divorced sister Wen Wong (Sam Leung in CLH 84) and his two cousins/brothers (haven't caught their Canto names).
Ep 2 has a case about the weird rice stock which led to the burning of the rice barn and the death of an officer, which DC believed was framed or murdered by Pon Sau.
|DC with his best friend Yeung Chiyan (Shallin Tse), Ep 2|
Then DC, fed up by the mundane magistrate work, rode outside the capital. He saw Seung-Seung the Mongolian princess from the Tan-tan tribe (Kitty Lai) taking a break by the river. Being DC, he stole Kitty's white cap.
|DC saw Seung Seung taking a break on the river, Ep 2|
|...then he stole her white furry hat!|
Seung Seung then got involved in another brawl with Yuen-ngan Li, a Jurchen prince from the Hsi Liao tribe (Portrayed by Andy Dai, the actor who became Tuloi in LOCH 83), such that she chased the prince into town. Yuen-ngan Li slapped her horse (not her, thank God!), such that the horse startled and she fell off the horse. Falling in a foreign city is not nice, but good thing Yeung Chiyan was around. The kind Song girl attended to the Mongolian girl. The two girls then became friends.
Meanwhile, A Fuk (DC’s servant) found out that Princess Seung Seung was actually a guest of honour at the Palace. Since DC had been thinking about the girl since he stole her hat, he was very pleased to know this. That night, he returned the hat to the Princess, but not before some fist and banter exchanges.
Ep 3 saw DC and SS having a rocky start after DC thought that SS stole an important Song map (actually, Yuen-ngan Li was the thief). Yet after ironing out the misunderstanding, both of them were getting closer, tho both of them still pranked each other, even involving DC trapping SS inside a cage in his room (though the poor girl was very worried that DC was injured; he was attacked by Yuen-ngan Li’s Jurchen fighter portrayed by Big Mole in Fearless Duo 84).
|DC gave SS a jade ring, Ep 4|
In Ep 4, DC gave Seung Seung a jade ring after SS found out that he was getting better. Actually, the naughty boy was just pretended to remain sick because he didn't want her to return home to Mongolia. Chiyan also had the same ring (thanks Wina for reminding me), but this one was given by Mrs Dik to Chiyan cos Mum really wanted Son to marry this girl instead. But then DC was getting worse again (his chest was black from the Jurchen’s palm attack), which made DC's mum blaming SS (why? It was a Jurchen fighter who hit DC, not a Mongolian. Perhaps Mum thought SS was overexerting DC with her visits?). SS tried to seduce Pon Sau for an antidote; he did give her, but the wrong one, hence it made DC got worse. Chiyan n SS then joined forces to get the real antidote in the Palace. Chiyan almost got arrested if a masked person didn't rescue her. However, Chiyan left her jade ring (or the Emperor managed to snatch the ring from her). The emperor then made a ring-fitting search that looked like the shoe-fitting search in Cinderella to find Chiyan, but she got help from SS such that she escaped the search.
In Ep 5, Emperor still found out that Chiyan was the girl who sneaked into the palace. "Good" thing that the Emperor liked Chiyan, hence he wanted to marry her. Chiyan sent a message to DC, a character torn in two; DC got the hidden message. DC lied to the Emperor that his parents had Chiyan as his intended since childhood, hence Emperor released Chiyan. DC's problem didn't stop here, for SS decided to leave for she thought DC as being a flicker. Chiyan talked it through that SS decided to stay after all. Meanwhile, Pon Sau n his dad (Master Sit Yi Yan in CLH 84) concocted a plan to have his sister marrying the emperor. The plan worked; their family got more title and rank.
|DC thanking SS after she gave her a small jade statue, Ep 6|
Ep 6: it seems that Pon Sau made the rice distribution difficult, which concerned DC's family. DC clashed with Pon Sau, whose sister reported the case to the Emperor. DC was called to the Court, and it seems he was given a military assignment under Pon Sau's command. Before DC left the Capital, Seung Seung gave him her jade statue (which looked like an arhat). She took it from within her blouse, which made DC a bit wrong-footed cos he thought SS was going to get naked with him (you wish!). In the battle camp, Pon Sau made the lives of DC et al difficult.
Ep 7: DC found out that some villagers were attacking his camp, but it was due to some
dissatisfaction about something. Oh, and DC was using his retracting spear, which reminds me of Yeung Hong's spear... DC's conflicts with Pon Sau eventually escalated such that he left the barrack (and the army), which I think accounts for mutiny. DC's band of brothers then attacked a Jurchen camp and then pretended to be Jurchens to attack Pon Sau's camp to release the villagers that PS captured. DC then gave PS the Jurchen banner so that he could claim the success as his own. DC still returned to the capital with PS though, and was reunited with his family and friends. He later thought he saw Seung Seung, but he was actually ambushed by Yuen-ngan Li the Jurchen prince. He defeated his attacker (the Big Mole in Fearless Duo), but the latter was rescued by a masked man, who was Chiyan's and his teacher Lu Si (Ouyang Feng in LOCH 83), because the teacher was actually a Jurchen. PS scammed DC such that the Emperor ordered him to do something (that I don't understand). To escape that order, DC asked poor A Fuk to jump on his (DC's) foot so he was decommissioned. Hahaha! But no DCSS interaction in this episode...
|SS wrong-footed when Bro found the DC paintings in her room, Ep 8|
Ep 8: Chiyan tried to have her teacher Lu Si teaching her a palm technique, which he eventually did. She did that for DC though, not sure why the teacher didn't want to teach DC that style (perhaps so that DC didn't use that against the Jurchens?). During practice, DC offended a Mongolian prince (played by the actor for Khoo Tai Pang in CLH 84). The same prince later bumped into Seung Seung (who apparently had tried to meet DC but his mother always prohibited her to see him); the prince was apparently SS' brother. Bro finally knew his sister liked the brute he saw outside town, for SS had four paintings of DC (including a funny one of DC as a tortoise with the human head).
|My favourite painting: a DC-headed tortoise!|
SS finally knew where DC was (training outside town), but when she arrived there, DC had just fainted and Chiyan was taking care of him. Disappointed, SS left, just moments before DC woke up. DC finally saw SS in town, but the girl didn't want to hear him because she said he lied to her, cos he would marry Chiyan anyway (must be Mrs Dik saying that). DC was surprised to learn that SS thought that he’d marry Chiyan. Not listening to DC, SS let her Bro took her away.
|DC trying to prevent SS from leaving, Ep 8|
DC detoured home and lamented to A Fuk before he decided to chase SS. He arrived in her room to find his paintings torn and the girl gone, leaving him a letter, asking him to meet her in a place outside town before she truly left the Capital. DC was about to go when Mrs Dik forbade him to go. DC for some reasons then tried to talk to the Emperor, but failed. I think Mum ordered DC to meet the Emperor first for a business (but might as well just to prevent him to meet SS). DC then went to see SS, but he had to save A Fuk who was pranked by Pon Sau. Thus, he was late to meet SS.
|SS tearfully abandoned her hope for DC, Ep 8|
|...and left DC another goodbye note|
DC later sneaked into his teacher's place to...perhaps try his new style? God knows...Anyway. DC later had another military trip with Pon Sau (who had his men carried him in a palanquin).
Ep 9: DC and the gang had a feast in the barrack, which flared Pon Sau. After some pranking scenes, DC had a soldier bitten by a poisonous snake, hence he had to suck the poison from the soldier's blood. As a retribution for Pon Sau's regime, DC's friends pranked Pon Sau such that the general had to take a bath in the river. Later, Pon Sau had a rendezvous with Yuen-ngan Li in the forest. The two had been collaborating since Ep 2, but since now they wanted DC killed, they were more intense in their collusion. Yet, DC et al still escaped the trap. Pon Sau still has some tricks up his sleeve; he had his men forcing some villagers to make tombs, then killed the villagers later.
|DC protecting SS during a battle, Ep 10|
Ep 10: Yuen-ngan Li had Pon Sau's Song army attacked a Mongolian village such that Seung Seung's brother retaliated and killed the Song soldiers despite her advice against it. The intent was indeed to have the Song and Seung-Seung's Mongol at war. DC's subordinate was ordered to attack SS's Mongolian fortress and killed many Mongolian soldiers. DC came later and they apparently found something wrong that made him rebuked Chung tai-gor. Chung later surrendered himself to SS's brother, but DC came to rescue him such that he fought SS' brother and injured him. Flared due to the attack, SS led an attack to the Song camp. She was almost injured by one of DC's men when DC rescued her. She then took him as a hostage and brought him back to be imprisoned in the Mongolian camp. DC tried to talk to SS, but she wouldn't listen because, among others, he had injured her brother (and he didn't prevent her from leaving the capital).
|The Princess pretended that she couldn't care less, Ep 10|
Meanwhile, dissension happened at the Song camp because Pon Sau refused to rescue DC. A Fuk et al then left the camp. At the Mongol camp, SS secretly listened to DC talking about her with his brother in arm that was also captured. Not sure what they talked about, but SS seemed to be pensive afterwards. Then her maid (Chan On-ying, the pretty girl who played as Yin Li in HSDS 86) told her something, I assume also about DC. Damn, I might just take a Cantonese course if I can!!
In the Palace, Pon Hung and his cronies bad mouthed DC in front of Emperor. It seems they also ban some places, including DC's house. They even imprisoned Mrs Dik, those bastards!! A Fuk wanted to rescue Mrs Dik, but knowing he couldn't do anything, his girlfriend prevented him from barging in.
SS' brother interrogated DC, and later seemed to decide that DC must die despite DC already stopped arguing with him. SS of course objected, to no avail.
Oh, the closing theme this episode is actually nice. Hope to find it somewhere. Will be very difficult.
I like Michael Miu with Kitty Lai, though my favourite is needless to say Michael with Barbara (and Kitty with Tony, right, Wina?). Kitty was still able to banter with Michael that keeps the series interesting for me despite the lack of subtitles. The tortoise painting was particularly funny; it shows how funny Seung Seung could be. She was definitely a non-ambitious Mongol princess, unlike Kitty's Zhao Min in HSDS 86. But, like Zhao Min, Seung Seung had some cute dresses and lovely hats, so fashion-wise, she's all good!
Michael Miu still performed here, he still had that sparks in his eyes that conveyed his emotions. It was funny to see him rolling his eyes heavenwards as he had to listen to the Emperor cooing his newborn baby, whereas it was imperative that DC meet SS immediately. Michael's eyes glittered with disappointment when SS left him. Oh, and I like his hairstyle; the similar hairstyle as his Yeung Hong and his Li Sai Man. The difference is, this time he’s the good guy. He didn’t look good with the military winged-helmet though. Something about his face that is better framed with hair than with the winged-helmet. Perhaps Michael Miu's broad forehead made the helmet looked unimpressive for him. The helmet should have covered more of his forehead, IMO.
|Michael Tao looked better in this helmet than Michael Miu|
I can understand why some people weren't impressed with this series. Up until Ep 7, this series hasn't had the urgency of Fearless Duo, despite the latter being a rom-com as well, and that Dik Ching vs Pon Sau rivalry was introduce from Ep 1. Or perhaps that's because it is not subtitled, hence I couldn't understand the nuances. I only started to feel the series’ urgency when Dik Ching’s mum separated him from Seung Seung in Ep 8.
One thing is certain: if Michael was paired with Shallin here, I would fall asleep. Some past reviewed preferred Shallin Tse (Charlene Tse Ning) than Kitt here, but not me. Shallin was of course pretty and she looked kind, but her emotional range wasn't nearly half as wide as Kitty's (by contrast, Sheren Tang was definitely on par with Kitty in HSDS). The spark needed for an on-screen romance between Shallin and Michael was just not there. DC and Chiyan were good as close friends, though. Kenneth Tsang was underused as the Emperor, but Yeung Chak-lam (Ouyang Feng in LOCH 1983) was put into good use as Dik Ching's and Chiyan's teacher (was his name really Lu Si? I can't quite catch it...).
The series has some nice theme songs, including some Western-type instrumentals (e.g. the piano in Ep 8 when Seung Seung was just drinking alone, longing for DC) and Chinese and Mongolian instrumentals. But some rock themes during the attack were just jarringly off-theme. I also don’t dig the romantic opening theme though, nor the opening theme scenes. I guess I prefer the upbeat tones of Legend of Condor Heroes 1983 or Chor Lau Heung 1984. I actually like romance too; Fearless Duo 1984 has a romance opening theme as well, remember? But I guess it’s difficult to beat Alan Tam’s “Who Can Change”...
I’ll still continue with the Dik Ching summary; late next weekend I suppose. I have two deadlines this coming week.