Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Line Walker: The Prelude Theme Song

The theme song for Line Walker: The Prelude is "Sky Net" (天網), by Pakho Chau.

The ending theme song is "Forget Myself" (忘記我自己), by Hana Kuk.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Overview - Line Walker: The Prelude

In 2010, CIB's Michael Miu conducts a secret operation in Bangkok, Thailand. All his undercover agents die in a sea of fire. At the same time, his good friend, Senior Inspector Eddie Cheung, is murdered under mysterious circumstances, leaving Michael with a yet-to-be undercover, Priscilla Wong. To learn the truth, Michael must quickly find the rest of Eddie's missing undercover agents.

Meanwhile, there is internal conflict within Hong Kong's biggest triad. Triad leader Moses Chan is undergoing a purge. Benz Hui narrowly avoids death, but loses his beloved wife. He decides to thoroughly turn into a triad member. He sets up his own gang and swears opposition to Moses. Over the course of Michael and Priscilla's investigation into Moses' organization, they meet Pakho Chau and Benjamin Yuen, as well as Jessica Hsuan, who manages Moses' money. As the influence of the black cops controlled by Moses expands, Michael and Priscilla have no choice but to ally with Benz. Trust and betrayal are repeatedly put on display. Michael vows to remove the roots of the evil forces, leaving him with no choice but to risk death in the ultimate mission...

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Eunuch - Wei Zhongxian

Wei Zhongxian (魏忠賢) was a powerful eunuch during the late-Ming Dynasty. He led the eunuch faction that dominated the Ming court during the reign of the Tianqi Emperor.

Wei was born to a poor family. In his youth, he enjoyed drinking, being with prostitutes and gambling. He was illiterate, but a talented archer and horseman. He had a wife and daughter, but at age 21, he decided to castrate himself and enter the palace in order to escape from his gambling debts. Wei made friends with powerful people in the palace and eventually landed a job serving the household of the future Tianqi Emperor (known by his temple name 明熹宗). With his skill for flattery, Wei gained the favour of the future emperor. He also courted Madame Ke (客氏), who was Tianqi’s wet nurse. Tianqi revered Madame Ko and bestowed high honours on her when he became emperor. Madame Ke would become Wei’s lover and a key political ally.

The Tianqi Emperor ascended to the throne at the age of 15. He took little interest in political affairs and pursued his passion for carpentry instead. Wei seized on this opportunity. He often intentionally interrupted the emperor while he was enjoying himself to report on political matters. The emperor would respond by saying, “I am busy. You take care of it.” Eventually, Wei issued edicts without even consulting the emperor. He promoted his allies into high positions and terrorized anyone who dared to oppose him. Officials everywhere scrambled to send memorials praising Wei and build temples in his honour. People even greeted him as “Nine Thousand Years”, just a degree below the emperor, who was greeted with “Ten Thousand Years”.

The Donglin scholars on the court despised the power that Wei wielded and submitted a memorial to the emperor criticizing Wei, but the emperor ignored it. The incident turned Wei against the Donglin faction. He fabricated charges against a group of six scholars, including Zuo Guangdou, and had them tortured to death in prison. Later, he purged a second group of seven scholars. The influence of the Donglin faction was substantially weakened after these incidents.

The Tianqi Emperor died of illness and was succeeded by his brother, the Chongzhen Emperor (崇禎). Chongzhen moved quickly to get rid of Wei. He asked officials to submit a list of Wei’s crimes and sentenced Wei to exile. As Wei travelled to his place of exile, Chongzhen heard rumours that Wei would attempt a rebellion. He ordered Wei to be arrested and brought back to the capital. Knowing that he would not escape a death sentence, Wei committed suicide. His corpse was posthumously subjected to slow slicing and publicly displayed. After Wei's death, the Chongzhen Emperor purged the remaining members of the eunuch faction from the Ming court.

Despite the overwhelmingly negative portrayal of Wei, some historians give him credit for effectively managing the country. Compared to the Chongzhen era, the Tianqi years were relatively peaceful, with stability on the war front and no major uprisings. It can partly be attributed to Wei's recommendations of able generals, such as Yuan Chonghuan, and setting low tax rates for farmers.

A General - Yuan Chonghuan
A Scholar - Zuo Guangdou

Saturday, September 02, 2017

A Scholar - Zuo Guangdou

Zuo Guangdou (左光斗) was a late-Ming Dynasty scholar. He was a leader of the Donglin faction during the reign of the Tianqi Emperor and was one of six Donglin scholars who was tortured to death by the eunuch Wei Zhongxian.

Growing up, Zuo loved to read books. He especially liked to learn about practical issues that affected the people’s daily lives. He had aspirations to serve his country and the people. During the Wanli (萬曆) era, Zuo was appointed as an official in Beijing. He immediately worked on fighting corruption and arresting imposters who posed as government officials to defraud and intimidate people. He also revitalized the agricultural industry in the north by improving the hydraulic systems and building dams to divert water resources to the region.

Bob Cheung's Crown Prince role is the future Taichang Emperor.
After the Wanli Emperor, the Taichang Emperor (known by his temple name 明光宗) died one month into his reign and was succeeded by his teenage son, the Tianqi Emperor (temple name 明熹宗). In the immediate aftermath of the Taichang Emperor's death, Zuo was involved in the “Palace Removal Case” (移宮案). When the Taichang Emperor took the throne, he had moved into the emperor’s official residence with his favourite concubine, Attendant “West Li” (西李選侍). When he died, Li remained at the residence with the newly-crowned Tianqi Emperor, whom she had raised, and tried to get herself named as empress dowager. Fearing that she would hold the young emperor hostage, court officials rushed to the palace and took him away. They then pressured her to move out of the residence, but she refused. Finally, Zuo persuaded the emperor to issue an edict ordering her to move out by reminding him of how Wu Zetian seized power.

As a result of the Palace Removal Case, Zuo and the Donglin officials that were involved gained prominence. They were noble and loyal officials who were unafraid to speak out. But at the same time, eunuch Wei Zhongxian (魏忠賢) rose to power and the conflict between the eunuch and Donglin factions grew more intense. Unable to tolerate Wei’s abuse of power, Zuo and his colleagues submitted a memorial to the emperor, outlining Wei’s various crimes, but it was ignored by the emperor. Seeking revenge, Wei falsely accused six Donglin officials, including Zuo, of accepting bribes. The six were arrested and tortured to death in prison. Their names would later be cleared of wrongdoing by the Chongzhen Emperor.

A General - Yuan Chonghuan
A Eunuch - Wei Zhongxian