‘Captain of Destiny’ (張保仔, literally as Cheung Po Tsai) is a 2015 Hong Kong historical fiction sci-fi television drama of 32 episodes by TVB. The drama is a retelling of the story of 19th century Chinese pirate Cheung Po Tsai and his conflict with the Qing imperial army, meanwhile encountering a time-travelling police constable from the 21st century. The drama starred Ruco Chan, Tony Hung, Grace Chan, Ram Cheung, Elaine Yiu, Maggie Shiu, Joel Chan, Mandy Wong, Susan Tse, Lau Kong, etc. It is a grand production and is one of the four anniversary series of 2015 to mark 48th anniversary of TVB.
This series which concluded just now with its final episode also won the Most Favourite TVB Drama at the Singapore’s Starhub TVB Awards 2015 yesterday. Despite receiving average points in viewership rating at Hong Kong, the drama is being very well received and I’m one of them who have more praise to this series compared to all the other dramas released this year. It is just so good and always kept me intensely catching up to latest episode of the series every night. In the first few episodes, I came to watch the series with less expectation but then I’m surprised by the great quality of storyline and characters the series present to TV audiences as the drama develops. I still enjoyed the time-travel concept eventhough TVB had used this idea many times before in the past.
First, we were shown in the present setting of Hong Kong when a female police constable (Grace Chan) accidentally traveled back in time to Qing dynasty from a waterspout when she is on a mission to catch a criminal named Bandit King (Ruco Chan). Once back to 200 years earlier, she met the famous pirate Cheung Po Tsai (Tony Hung) and his gang. Here the story goes between the pirates’ life and the life in the palace emphasizing the 11th prince (Ruco Chan again) who is a hardworking prince in mission to eliminate pirates. Many events followed between these main characters and the story development went very well in a good pacing mixed with light fun moments as well as serious and intense situations.
Ruco Chan delivered yet another impressive performance as the 11th prince. His character here is very diverse, requiring him to deliver multitude of varying emotions and he nailed it. He conquered all the scenes he is in with powerful strength and expressions. Eventhough he is not in the titular role, but he shines over the rest in this drama. No wonder he won Most Favourite TVB Actor in Singapore last night too for his performance here. Very well deserved and I do hope his winning continues to TVB Star Awards Malaysia next month as well as the Hong Kong’s TVB Anniversary Awards in December. It’s time for him to be rewarded. Tony Hung portrayed the titular role and I’m fine with it. However, I find it weird that his character is not being given much attention throughout the series eventhough his name makes the series’ title. That has to be case when you have another lead role, the 11th prince of which I have said earlier that stood out better than the rest including this titular character of Cheung Po Tsai.
Grace Chan is a newbie artist and she should not be promoted too quickly by the TVB station by taking up this first female lead role here. The outcome is you get a performance that is poor and heavily criticized by many people. It’s not her fault mostly but I do cannot stand the overly exaggerated expressions and voice she shown in this drama. On the other hand, I also cannot stand anymore on the cute acts by the 11th prince’s lady servant, portrayed by Kelly Fu. However, her acting is far more natural than Grace. It is the veteran actors and actresses that back the series a lot too. Villains like Lee Shin Cheung (as admiral), Elaine Yiu (as concubine), and Lau Kong (as emperor) and others like Susan Tse (as concubine), Elliot Ngok (as imperial eunuch), Maggie Shiu (head pirate’s wife), and Ram Cheung (pirate’s strategist) did very well. Joel Chan and Mandy Wong also contributed very convincing performances in their respective supporting role too.
Besides that, I’m also surprised by the effort put on the visual effects of this series. The visual effects especially during the war between the imperial army and the pirates are exceptionally good if measured by TVB standard. I’m stunned and amazed by that battle scene. It looks very cool, technically brilliant, intense and exciting. However, I am actually hoping for like two or more of those battle scene to further expand the storyline on the strained relationship between the pirates and the government. So actually, I don’t mind the series to be 40 episodes long. The effort put on production design, costume and make-up design, and editing should also be complimented for this drama. The drama’s opening theme song by Fred Cheng, closing theme song by Ruco Chan and episode’s plug song by Linda Chung are all very nice to listen to and suits well to this drama’s heart.
As for its ending just now, I’m very happy of how this series came to such a thought-provoking conclusion. It is an ending made with a lot of thoughts (and a nice twist) and I like that. I’m tired of typical non-moving yet happy ending made to most of TVB series in recent years. I’m also surprised to see Raymond Wong making a cameo appearance in the end as a pirate. Why him? It’s because he is originally cast to portray Cheung Po Tsai and not Tony Hung. So letting him to appear in the very last minute of the series’ ending would be quite interesting. In general, this drama is definitely the best TVB series of the year so far and if the next series ‘Lord of Shanghai’ isn’t as good as it is expected, then I see no problem for ‘Captain of Destiny’ to take home Most Favourite TVB Drama in both TVB Star Awards Malaysia and also in Hong Kong’s TVB Anniversary Awards. It is really very good and delivered beyond my expectation. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Captain of Destiny’ a total of 8.2. That’s the highest rating for a series I have given this year. Even Grace Chan’s bad acting here couldn’t pull the series down to below 8 points from me.
(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)