I like to watch series involving scheming battles in palace during ancient China. I find series with such theme is very interesting and attention-grabbing in terms of its multi-layered and twisting plot. Previously, I admired series by Hong Kong’s TVB of this theme like ‘War and Beauty’ and ‘Beyond the Realm of Conscience’. The latest to be included in my favourite list would be the recently-concluded ‘King Maker’ drama released this year which is a historical-fiction series set in Southern Song dynasty. It’s like a spin-off to the ‘Greatness of a Hero’, a drama released few years earlier with two same main actors (Wayne and Kent) but with Wayne Lai being the main villain instead.
(Image above from http://i48.tinypic.com/nfc4i.jpg)
‘King Maker’ starred Wayne Lai and Kent Cheng as two respective chancellors with their intriguing struggles to have their favoured prince win control of the throne of Southern Song. Wayne Lai supported the eldest prince, Kwai-Sing (Pierro Ngo) while Kent Cheng is by the side of second prince, Kwai-Wo (Chris Lai). Of course, things aren’t that simple as there are numerous intertwining sub-plots that further adds depth and strengthen the power of the storyline as it goes through the 28-episodes long series. Those are like the threats from neighbouring dynasty, revelation of certain truths and involvement of other great villains to make things worse and more complicated. In the end, it’s Kent Cheng that turns out to be the main villain of the drama. The good thing is that some twists in the story are really unpredictable (hence giving surprise) and came out very well and not illogical as seen in many other TVB series earlier. There are also many other notable supporting characters to carve a path to such a solid story.
All that sum up to a very thrilling atmosphere in the palace, still centered on the two chancellors portrayed by the very experienced actors, Wayne Lai and Kent Cheng. At first, I didn’t expect that Kent Cheng would be the main villain in this series, and in the end, I can say that it’s quite a breakthrough and a good performance from him. However, I find that Kent forced himself to indulge into the evil character he portrayed until to the point that it seems so weird looking from his facial expression and gesture. Perhaps, he shouldn’t try to do anymore evil characters that doesn’t seems to suit him. It’s not his fault and he already did his very best, and anyway I like his character too. Without this main villain, the story wouldn’t be that interesting after all especially at the end part when he do so many bad things all together to make sure he is successful on his plans. The final confrontation between Wayne and Kent in the finale through words and tricks is impressive and intense but not epic enough.
Wayne Lai is still at his usual performance of a very strict-looking man while still very capable of delivering in emotion-led scenes. And I find his younger sister in the series whom later became the concubine of first prince, Natalie Tong is a bit noisy and slightly annoying especially when she is first introduced in the series. Yeung Chi-San (Joseph Lee) and Consort Wai (Florence Kwok), two senior casts did very impressive job in their villain characters as well. One more thing, Vivien Yeo portraying as the first concubine of eldest prince is still quite poor on her acting, and her Cantonese accent didn’t really improve much. But that is quite a minor character who did a bit of silly tricks in the end and then gets punished and vanished from the series as expected. Hmm..the series also tests on value of friendship, family bond and love in a very balanced proportion (without dragging on either aspects much).
So, there are not only battles between the two chancellors which only heightened in the final portion of the whole drama. There are also scheming between concubines (a little), cooperation between politician with eunuch, and even tricks between father and son or daughter. I finished watching its two heart-stopping two final episodes just now, and I’m glad that the whole series didn’t disappoint. It’s indeed an exciting drama with good script and acting overall. The storyline is intense enough with very much of climax-reaching scenes. The drama is also filled with some touching moments especially when someone important had passed away mainly due to evil plots by the main villain portrayed by Kent Cheng. The ending for the characters as shown in the finale is quite satisfying. Overall, it’s a very solid drama with thrilling plots. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘King Maker’ a total of 7.5. Conclusion of the story in one simple phrase; ‘it’s hard to be the king maker’.