TVB drama review for ‘Lord of Shanghai’ (2015).


‘Lord of Shanghai’ (梟雄) is a 2015 Hong Kong television pre-modern period drama by TVB, and it is the last of the four anniversary series marking the 48th birthday of the television station this year. It is also a grand production featuring heavyweight casts that include Anthony Wong (film king), Kent Tong (one of five ‘tigers’ of TVB in 1980s), Wayne Lai (triple TV king) taking on main roles accompanied by many supporting roles portrayed by Kenneth Ma, Myolie Wu, Ron Ng, Alice Chan, Louis So, Jade Leung, Eddie Kwan, Natalie Tong, Pierre Ngo, Lau Kong, etc. The drama with a total of 32 episodes is set in 1930’s divided Shanghai when many troubles hit and tells the story of three powerful business tycoons who are friends and also enemies within themselves. The story is loosely based on real people (the 3 tycoons) and events in Shanghai around that particular decade.

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When I first heard of the development of this drama about a year ago, I was very excited because Anthony Wong is in it. He had won multiple best actor and supporting actor nods in past film awards and it would be refreshing and cool to see him in small screen now (television). This is also Kent Tong’s first drama in 30 years. The storyline of the drama which is revealed not long ago also further put me in a position to anticipate desperately for it. Time flies. The series has now ended with the broadcast of its final episode just now. Maybe I came in with high expectation, and so in the end, I think the series is just good overall with nothing truly breathtaking as expected earlier. Even the ending is a bit ordinary but still a good conclusion to this drama.

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Before the drama began few weeks ago, this drama somehow reminds me of ‘Rosy Business’ and its unrelated sequel ‘No Regrets’, the two highly successful series few years back. However, ‘Lord of Shanghai’ failed to live up to the quality found in that two mentioned dramas despite having a huge cast of professional actors and actresses. The storyline is good but I’m slightly disappointed that there aren’t much climax-reaching parts in this drama. I remembered I enjoyed watching ‘Rosy Business’ very much because it has intense scenes in almost every episodes and I don’t find it here in ‘Lord of Shanghai’ to my surprise. I felt emotionless watching the series besides than enjoying the great performances by the cast. I’m only slightly more interested on the major flashback scenes depicting Kiu Ngo-tin in his younger days and how he eventually chosen the path to be a mean tycoon.

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Yes…the cast helped a lot on the series. Everyone from the major to minor characters contributed very well to the drama. Anthony Wong delivered subtle expressions and is very convincing as the main lead of the drama. His expressions are very minimal but displayed a lot of emotions. The only thing I’m not fine of him is his usage of Shanghai accent sometimes in his dialogues while no one else do the same. Wayne Lai on the other hand used exaggerated approach to convey his role as the main villain of the story. Some people disliked his overly done expressions but I think that is what best for his role and he nailed it. Kent Tong’s character is a bit overshadowed by Anthony and Wayne. Alice Chan who resembles the late Anita Mui is also very good as Sister Kwai Sang. This is my first time seeing her and she is already that good. As for Kenneth Ma, first I was annoyed by the dubbing of his voice by other actor (why not use his original voice?) but his exceptional acting as the young Kiu Ngo-tin had me forgetting the voice. Ron Ng is given an ordinary role that turned evil out of sudden in the last one and a half episode that means nothing to me.

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The theme song named ‘Regretless’ by Alfred Hui is a good song to listen to and the score matches quite well to the series. In this drama, we also get to see many scenes depicting Shanghai back in 1930s and it do bring us back to that particular era, getting us more engaged to the setting of the story. Expected since it is a grand production. Overall, the series is still interesting to watch with top-notch acting performances and solid plot. However, in my personal opinion, ‘Captain of Destiny’ is still the best series in 2015 while ‘Lord of Shanghai’ is only my no.2 this year as the former surprised me in many ways while the latter ended up being just good and nothing spectacular. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Lord of Shanghai’ a total of 7.8. I still think this series is going to be the biggest competitor alongside with ‘Captain of Destiny’ for Best Series award in TVB Anniversary Awards next month. Let’s see which one will win…’Captain of Destiny’ had already won in Singapore and Malaysia. I guess Hong Kong one will be for ‘Lord of Shanghai’. What’s your thought on this? You can share it in the comment section below.

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(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

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