The Jade and the Pearl (翡翠明珠)

jade and pearl

TVB, Hong Kong’s television monopoly, tests the limits of its audience’s tolerance with this hastily conceived charade, which it named after its Chinese and English language stations, respectively. Even the most dedicated fan, of which I am one, will find this sprawling mess of a movie difficult to defend.

For one, it’s an ill-begotten marriage between TVB and EEG, an equally monstrous entertainment conglomerate that caters to the masses by settling for the lowest common denominator. This co-production does not assume inadequacy, and I enjoy offerings by both companies, but it does mean a surfeit of beautiful and questionably talented young people. If The Jade and the Pearl was to be successful, it would have needed a strong story or clever script, something to emphasize the actors’ talents wherever they may lie.

As it stands, the best part may be the karaoke-ready theme song “Always Here” (一直都在) by TVB’s in-house composer Tang Chi-Wai (鄧智偉). It certainly isn’t the expansive plot, which lacks enough focus to propel it through its 104 minute running time. The action initially revolves around the happy-go-lucky Princess Yan (Choi), who is sent off to some far-flung land to marry an insignificant prince. She is escorted by General Ching (Lam), and one can safely predict what will transpire between the two during their long journey.

What no one expects is Joey Yung to appear as a bandit in pirate garb. But she does, and this is where the movie’s television roots show. After a short, dispassionate chase, the general is captured and the princess gets knocked out. When she comes to, she doesn’t remember a thing. Fortunately, a peasant storyteller (Wong) takes her in and the simple princess begins to enjoy the rustic life. Meanwhile, Ching still longs for Yan but must contend with the affections of pirate Joey.

The film does not have the luxury of 30 episodes with which to develop its characters and their relationships. So, if you make it as far as the climax, chances are you haven’t invested enough emotion to care what becomes of these broken hearts. More skilled leads would probably help the situation, but this movie is clearly interested in showcasing idols not actors. Everyone looks appealing and fulfills his or her role: Lam is the sensitive heartthrob, Wong is his honest but homely rival, Yung is the quirky, needy rebel, and Choi is forever the squeaky pubescent Twin whom everyone wants to coddle. This formula’s kept TVB and EEG afloat for years, so unless more people stay away from movies like this one, not much will change.

Released: 2010
Prod: Ng Yue 吳雨; Chan Hing-Kar 陳慶嘉; Amy Chin Siu-Wai 錢小蕙
Dir: Janet Chun Siu-Jan 秦小珍
Writer: Chan Hing-Kar 陳慶嘉; Cheung Fan 張帆; Ho Miu-Kei 何妙祺; Li Wai-Fuk 李瑋褔
Cast: Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin 蔡卓妍; Raymond Lam Fung 林峰; Joey Yung Tso-Yi 容祖兒; Wong Cho-Lam 王祖藍; Ti Lung 狄龍; Chapman To Man-Chak 杜汶澤; Carlo Ng Ka-Lok吳家樂; Tien Niu 恬妞; Lam Suet 林雪; Wong Yau-Nam 黃又南; Tats Lau Yi-Dat 劉以達; Steven Cheung Chi-Hang 張致恆; 6 Wing 陸永; JJ Jia Xiaochen 賈曉晨; Hui Siu-Hung 許紹雄; Matthew Ko Kwan-Yin 高鈞賢; Benjamin Yuen Wai-Ho 袁偉豪; Kenny Kwan Chi-Bun 關智斌; Ken Hung Cheuk-Lap 洪卓立; Cilla Kung 樂瞳; Macy Chan Mei-Si 陳美詩; Christine Kuo Yun-Hui 苟芸慧; Sire Ma Choi 馬賽; Jess Sum Cheuk-Ying 沈卓盈; Katy Kung Ka-Yan 龔嘉欣; Mavis Pan Shuang-Shuang 潘霜霜
Time: 104 min
Lang: Cantonese
Country: Hong Kong
Reviewed: 2013