This review is written by Edmund Yeo.
If you have any comments whatsoever, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
21 tapes -
Year of Production
remember the name of their roles, so I'll just list out
the actor/actresses. Oh, I'll refer them by their real
names in my review later too.
Lam= The main dude.
Chairmaine Sheh= The main dudette.
Paul Chun Pui= The wise patriarch of the family.
Joe Ma= The eldest son of the patriarch.
Tang Sui Man= The patriach's younger sister.
Yuen Wah= The eccentric yet skillful master.
Esther Yeung= The doe-eyed loyal servant.
Suet Li= Gordon's crazy mom.
Loh Hoi Pang= The scheming elder bro of Chun Pui.
are a few more important roles, but I can't even remember
their real names. Bummer.
Seagull or Funn does a review of this series, you'll get
a more in-depth summary of the plot. For the time being,
all I can say is that this drama revolves around a
prestigious family which makes wine. Members of the
family, people who work for the family, people who works
against the family, people who doesn't work for or
against the family, blah.
drama, intrigue, suspense, damn great sceneries, action
etc. thrown into the mix.
a pretty bad History student, I think this story is set
in the 30s to the 40s (during the 20th century)
I'm a great
fan of Plain Love 2. A GREAT one. I think Plain Love 2 is
one of the best TVB dramas (if not THE best) in recent
years. Instead of seeing cliched love stories, brothers
plotting against each other, business rivals hiring
assassins to kill each other, some pointless action
scenes, people throwing their enemies down from a
skyscraper etc. I got a simple sweet tale of friendship,
family love and romance which isn't overdone like the
infamous soap opera 'A Kindred Spirit', the overhyped
megacrap 'At the Threshold of an Era', stupid excuses for
a cop film 'Detective Investigation Files 4' and 'A
Matter of Custom'.
Solid acting, breathtaking scenery, warm
storyline and well-developed characters. Plain Love 2 won
the hearts of many viewers. And it wasn't surprising that
it beat 'At The Threshold of an Era' in the ratings war
back in the year 1999. A sleeper hit which is still
talked about until today.
Retaining a few cast members from Plain
Love 2, TVB decided to make another drama which will
using the same formula. Even the title seemed almost
similiar in Cantonese.
While Plain Love 2 is about tea, Country
Spirit is about tea. And we can also see that this time,
TVB had a bigger budget for this drama. Expectations
became a lot higher suddenly...
after watching Country Spirit, my thoughts were pretty
messy, and I wrote a disorganized, slightly disjointed
short review and posted it on the E-Buzz mailing list.
More than a week later, I decided to organize my thoughts
and start writing this review you are reading now while
using some paragraphs from my previous review. Bad thing
is, many names of the characters have escaped from my
Here are the Good, the Bad and the
Ugly of this drama. Contain spoilers of some
romantic pairings, though.
The Good Great performances= Especially from
who else, but Chun Pui. Yup, him, this man really
deserves to be named as everyone's fave veteran actor in
our mailing list. Gordon was pretty solid, as usual.
Charmaine's acting skeelz improved quite a bit (compared
to her 'Snow Fox' and 'Detective Investigation Files 4'
days). Tang Sui Man had a breakthrough performance
(thanks to those scenes she had with Chun Pui and Lo Hoi
Pang). Joe Ma's very great too, I wish he'll get a push
to A-list. Lo Hoi Pang's brilliant as Chun Pui's scheming
big bro. He has the type of look which shows you how
bitter he really is with his life. And Yuen Wah's a very
lovable 'devil may care' character.
Intrigue and suspense= Love it
when you see those villains scheming against Chun Pui,
Gordon and Chairmaine. What they do to achieve their
goals are downright despicable and cheap. All these will
keep you interested with the drama cos' you'll be hoping
that your fave characters will overcome the odds and
triumph against the baddies.
Beautiful scenery= You gotta see
it to believe it.
Good characterization= Most of
the characters have their own distinct personalities that
set them aside from others. They all have their own
wishes, dreams and agenda. Some characters you'll
definitely root for, while some are characters you simply
love to hate. By the end of the drama, you'll feel sorry
that you gotta say sorry to these characters.
The last few episodes before the
ending= Yup. Characters who were once evil became
good to help the good guys in rebuilding the
wine-factory. Like Plain Love 2, no one here are really
bad guys. No matter what happens, they have their
redeemable qualities. And unlike most other TVB dramas,
they don't get horrible violent deaths to pay for their
misdeeds. All they get is a second chance to redeem
themselves. Because of this, you'll realize that how
harsh and unforgiving our modern culture has become.
The romantic sub-plots= Yuen Wah,
Tang Sui Man, Joe Ma and Esther Yeung's characters are
all appealing in their different ways. And I like their
Yuen Wah/ Tang Sui Man:
It's strange to see how a serious character like Tang Sui
Man get involved in a romantic angle with the big
foul-mouthed jerk, Yuen Wah which is played for laughs.
But then, both of them are so funny that you feel that
they should be together. After all, Tang Sui Man brings
out the best from Yuen Wah.
Mah Tak Chung/ Esther Yeung= Great stuff here, not
overdone and overblown. Just a few subtle hints and you
feel that the doe-eyed girl deserves this honorable and
wonderful Joe Ma.
The Bad The main romance= Yeah, Gordon and
Chairmaine's characters are likable, and they do have
chemistry (though not as much compared to Gordon and
Maggie's). You see how they started off hating each
other's guts than gradually become great friends,saying
inspiring things to each other, doing great wonderful
things to each other. But when they really did declare
their undying love for each other. The whole romance
angle began to suck. Why?
Firstly, Charmaine's a married woman. She thought her
'husband' was dead. (Some weird chinese tradition, some
rich family make virgins marry their dead sons)
Technically, she should has the freedom to be with Gordon
eh? Nah. When you see them together, they give you the
feelin that they are adulterers.
Their romance ain't sweet, man! They even rip-off
something from J-Drama, Beautiful Life too. Takuya Kimura
and Tokiwa Takako wanna look at the moon everynight.
Gordon and Chairmaine wanna look at the sunset
They were so bloody in love with each other that they
became selfish and not give a damn about the feelings
about those around them. Hell, they even planned to
abandon their duties and elope!! Charmaine's a fool for
not appreciating a great guy like Joe Ma (yeah, her '
dead husband' who miraculously came back from the
Honestly, I didn't root for them to be
together at the end. And I was glad that Joe Ma stepped
out from the love triangle.
The Ugly The ending=I can't say
whether the ending is good or bad. I lack a good word to
describe it. It was pretty unnecessary... unbelievable...
and just plain crazy. You might feel satisfied after
watching the entire series, but you'll wonder why the
hell did the producers make a weird ending like this.
Will not reveal anything here, watch it yourself.
The theme song= I won't say that
the theme song by Jackie Cheung and Kit Chan is bad. But
compared to the fantastic, beautiful theme song of Plain
Love 2, this falls short.
Fave Characters Yeah, I did say that this drama has pretty
strong characterization. Lots of character development
too. Unfortunately, not for Gordon's character, who
remained the same boring nice guy from start to finish
(and a selfish jackass when he fell in love). His
character from Plain Love 2 was more interesting, when
you see how the coward grew a spine, fought for his
ideals, expresses (cutely) his love for Maggie etc.
Chairmaine's character is developed much
though. She started off as an illiterate village girl and
rose up among the ranks to become the powerful and
brilliant caretaker of the wine-factory (and a selfish
jackass when she fell in love). But due to her lack of
acting skills, and the aforementioned romantic angle, I
couldn't like her too much either. She may have improved
much in acting, but still pretty lacking compared to the
vastly superior Maggie.
So, I'll choose the father and son team of
Chun Pui and Gordon's characters as my favourite
Chun Pui was magnificent! So wise and
understanding, I wish I have a boss like him too!! He
doesn't bear grudges like his big brother, loves his
family, his underlings and the wine-factory a lot. Lots
of great things about this character, but lazy to do
Joe Ma's THE man! Sacrificing so much for
a woman he loves although he knew for sure that she
wouldn't return his affections. Yeah, so he got weak and
drank a lot, but after he recovered, he became the
nicest, most noble, honourable dude in the drama, just
like his pa. I screamed many times "This is what a
man should be like!" at the TV screen during the
last few episodes.
Enough with ya ramblings!
Should I rent it?
Yeah. This drama, despite a weirdo ending
and a wince-inducing love story, really does worth your
time. Although I've made many comparisons between Country
Spirit and Plain Love 2 (can't help myself, both dramas
are in the same genre), and Country Spirit fails to
compare, lacking both the charm and appeal of Plain Love
2. It's still an above average drama with great acting, a
plot that draws you in, and something else...
I always feel that dramas like
Plain Love 2 and Country Spirit are a celebration of what
people were like before being corrupted by the
contemporary culture: people who regard moral values,
family love and friendship highly.
I can go totally philosophical
with this, but that will be too much for a drama