Producer: Leung Choi Yuen
Genre: Imperial rivalry
Cast: Kent Cheng, Wayne Lai, Pierre Ngo, Chris Lai, Kingdom Yuen, Florence Kwok, Kristal Tin
Plot: Essentially three ministers vying to determine the destiny of the faltering Song Dynasty. (Read more here)
With the same leads, same producer, same costumes, almost same setting, King Maker will definitely draw comparisons to The Greatness of a Hero. And the conclusion is… King Maker pales in comparison.
Perhaps it was the length of the drama. The Greatness of a Hero was fast-paced with only 20 episodes. King Maker felt a lot slower with 28 episodes. There’s no need to repeatedly show the flashback montages. Nor the long heart-felt conversations paired with slow music. They can even cut some of the added attempts at drama, such as the whole Vivien Yeo jealousy act at Natalie Tong. I would have preferred it if everything was crammed into a much more intense 20 episodes.
Or perhaps it is the familiarity of it all. The same old plots are being recycled again and again. Where have I seen the voodoo doll scheme before? The failed delivery of rice? The is-he-the-real-son crisis always leading to a highly dramatized blood-test which never fails because of some type of trick? We need some new creativity. Also please end the recycling of those “golden” lines from previous dramas.
In what was billed as “TV King meets Film King”, the actors did their job BUT… For Wayne Lai, I feel like there’s nothing new. The holding-his-anger-by-clenching-his-jaw and the serious, non-smiling expression are things I’ve seen before. And especially when he does the yelling scenes, it reminds me of Chau Kau of Rosy Business. As for Kent Cheng, what is with those weird expressions, loud yelling and tone changes? He talks too fast as well. Nonetheless, they were still very, very good, along with everyone else that had an important role. Special praise should go to Pierre Ngo for his excellent portrayal of the traumatized prince when he returned to Song.
Mind you, the drama is not nearly as bad as I’ve made it sound. It is a drama full of schemes, deception and betrayal. There is a unique take with the First Prince having to recover from post-traumatic disorder. The character relationships were intriguing. Initially, the sons of the minsters weren’t on their father’s side. Elaine Yiu had complicated connections to all three ministers. This series will leave you wanting to watch the next episode, except you may want to fast forward within some episodes.
By the way, in real history, Pierre’s First Prince is indeed not the son of his predecessor. However he was still a descendant of the Song royal family. (Read more here)
Conclusion: Like No Regrets: exciting but needlessly dragged on.