The Four Young Constables is adapted from a novel depicting four constables in the Song Dynasty. The novel is the Four Constables, Tvb just decided to put a ‘young’ in front of the title, perhaps to avoid copyright issues and things like that. Despite the youngness of it all, the boys don’t really look that young. Actually, the storyline is about 4 young and restless teens, but these bunch of 20-somethings-nearing-or-in-their-30s guys got the roles because Tvb doesn’t believe in nurturing their talent until they’re old. (Read: in their 30s) Well, let’s leave internal politics of silly Tvb behind for now, and move on to the show.
Since the story is about these four boys, we’ll start by introducing them and their extremely entertaining nicknames. First up is Mou Cheng, which means “no feelings” literally, but I like to call him Heartless. (Btw this is Ray Lam’s character.) Not because he’s really heartless, he’s actually a softie in there, but he has this very cool look and like to make blunt insulting statements. I like. But towards the end it was a bit hard to bear with his ever-unchanging cool face. I just wanted to tell him, “let it out already!” All that frustration did translate to a lot of sexual tension between him and his love interest though, which was played by Kate Tsui. Oh, and despite him standing in the photo above, he’s actually wheelchair-ridden in the series. (As you can probably tell, the photo is taken in Tvb’s makeup room – BTS.) But he is the smartest one of them all, and he can defend himself pretty well too with all his secret hidden weapons and gadgets. So he’s no wimp.
Next up is my second favourite (who eventually became my favourite) – Tit Sau played by Kenneth Ma. That’s Iron Hand, or in my terms, just Iron. I started off not really liking him that much because I didn’t think too highly of Kenneth Ma. I remember saying after watching Survivor Law II that he was just so boring that he didn’t fit his character. Guess what? He fits this character to a T. The dull voice, the dense look, completely fits the character traits of Iron, who is a by-the-book, righteous good-cop, and kind of a goody-two-shoes. You’d think I would hate him, but I ended up liking him even more than I liked Ray’s character. It’s personal choice kind of thing, sorry if no one gets me. But Iron is the classical brawns-more-than-brains guy. Although I’m not saying he has no brains, his brawns definitely outshines his brains. Leave the brainwork to Heartless la. Iron is very kind and considerate and sweet. He and Selena Li are one of the main couples in the series, and I love seeing them together. They are very sweet together, even from the start, where she found him super annoying. I thought that was very cute and high-schoolish. Even cuter to seeing not-so-young people falling in love in such childish ways. I love how Iron always has this smile on his face every time he sees Fei (Selena’s character), despite her trying to whip the brains out of him when she saw him (only at first though). He’s also such a gentleman, which is rare for a man in the ancient days. But well, it is an adaptation, so it’s not unusual that they modernise it that bit. Makes it nicer for people like me to watch. But let’s face it, people don’t really watch Tvb shows for the authenticity of the sets or for the realistic portrayal of the ancient characters and mannerisms. There are better productions that do those kind of things.
Okay next up is Ron’s character, Lang Huet = Cold Blooded. I’m tempted to nickname him Lizard but I have to be more sensible than that guy who wrote this novel and named them Cold Blooded. So Lang Huet is Cold then. Cold is this wild, and somewhat cold-blooded killer. Wild in the sense that he was raised by a pack of wolves, so he has some real animal instincts, which come in handy all along the series. Of course, animal instincts make him rather socially awkward as well, so we don’t really get to see much real feeling from him, but he does understand the meaning of loyalty and brotherhood, which I feel is already pretty cool. Tvb has always been known to play favourites, and this time Ron gets the shorter end of the stick (maybe because of his endless rumours?). His character was deemed less important and was therefore sorely underdeveloped. There was a lot of backstory about Cold which could have been explained/explored but they just touched the surface. So there was less chance for us as viewers to connect to Cold. Very unfair. And also his relationship with that silly little girl (another adolescent love story here) was not explained, and it was difficult to see any true feelings of love between those two. Given the fact that Cold is so emotionless most of the time, it’s even harder to see any chance for him to show his emotions since he’s given so little screen time.
Last of one the bunch is Zhui Ming, played by Sammul Chan. This nickname is a bit hard to explain – Zhui Ming means “chasing life”, which doesn’t really make much sense. But he is the one who runs the fastest and has the best qing gong among the four. So he’s fast enough to chase life? I dunno, but in my book he’s Flash. (Nicknamed after The Flash heh) He’s pretty much the comic relief of the four, given the fact that the other three are pretty uptight people. Okay, maybe not Iron, he has some funny moments but he can be serious when he wants to. Flash used to make his living as a conman, posing as a medium. Lol. But Tvb also deemed Flash less important, and thus his backstory was not developed. I know there must’ve been some conspiracy with his parents as well, because Heartless and Iron’s parents were enemies, Cold’s parents were dead probably due to some tragic conspiracy, and Flash is adopted. Adoption is the first big clue to conspiracy, as anyone who’s watched crime dramas can tell you. (Iron was adopted too, and Heartless was adopted/taken in by Mr Zhuge.) Anyway Flash doesn’t seem to be as competent as the other three, but he’s sneaky and sly, and can always be counted on to cheat/con/run his way out of a sticky situation. Street smarts, I tell you, is priceless.
And uniting them all is Mr Zhuge (Mr Chu Kot in Cantonese pronunciation), whom I’ve mentioned above. He’s the guy who recruits them all as his constables to help him solve cases and crimes and uncover conspiracies. He knew both Heartless and Iron’s parents, and knew that they killed each other’s families some 20 years ago, leaving the two young boys. Heartless was injured by some weapon and ended up paralysed waist down. So yes, there’s a bit of drama between the two boys.
But in the beginning it was all about the cases, only towards the end did the drama move towards the more character-driven parts. The cases were all pretty intriguing, and to follow the trend of crime procedurals (think CSI, Forensic Heroes), they created a character which was Song Chi Yin (Kate Tsui’s character), a doctor who was in charge of examining the bodies. She was also Heartless’s personal doctor, which led to their budding relationship. I shall not reveal too much about the cases, because they’re actually not that bad. Obviously not to the standard of an actual crime procedural, but it was interesting enough to keep me watching most of the time.
The climactic last few episodes were not too bad as well, rather predictable but exciting to watch anyway. The only thing I have to gripe about is the lousy editing, which left us not really knowing the main four characters that well (as far as Cold and Flash are concerned anyway). The poor edits also affected the flow of the show, which at times just didn’t feel right. Even though it doesn’t seem like such a big issue, editing is really crucial to determine whether the viewers understand the story. For me, I could distract myself from the bad editing with all those Kenneth-Selina moments, and all those moments of Iron being so righteous and silly or just him being downright silly. In contrast, Ray and Kate’s relationship didn’t really grab my attention, but I didn’t mind them that much, they provided another kind of relationship which was so different, and a lot more complex compared to Kenneth-Selina which was very simple and sweet. (Given that it is the simple-minded linear thinker Iron after all…)
Overall, not too bad if you can overlook the details and just look at the big picture. If you’re a sucker for details and complexity, then you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Rating: 2/5 (would have been lower if not for Kenneth-Selina)