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Monday, April 30, 2007

"Ancestor of Twist" Chan Mong Kat

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As Charmaine's new series; 《方唐鏡與陳夢吉》Chan Mong Kat & Fong Tong Geng is going to start filming soon, I figure out it might be a good idea to give a short introduction about the lead character Chan Mong Kat. Those familiar with Cantonese movies/series most probably do not need my introduction, but just in case...hehe...

Anyway, I've found a short article about CMK and FTG on the internet. As the original article have a lot of difficult chinese prose, I hope you will bear with my translation:

Original chinese article credit to 天南太子.

Since old times, Guangdong people had pet phrase: "Never enter court in life, doesn't enter hell in death." Rule has it that one must be hit 30 strokes before meeting the official, unless you have academic honor (scholar) or powerful ancestor, the feeble citizens must kneel endlessly, and if you are illiterate you must request for someone to write the dispute document. To enter such complicated yamen (court) hall, hence the 訟師 (lawyer) emerged.

Lawyers assist in writing dispute document, and are very articulate in tribunal trials. Those who have conscience will help citizens to seek justice. Those who don't, will shamelessly cahoots with officials, bullying the citizens. Thereupon, there are folklore of "Guangdong Four Great Lawyer".

Nicknamed "Iron lips copper tooth, reversing six heavenly stem", holding a white fan in their hand, they are able to dumbfound seven county magistrates, the poor and weak citizens were able to seek justice because of the presence of this "Four Great Lawyers". They are the famous Chan Mong Kat, Fong Tong Geng, Ho Tam Yu and Lau Wah Tung.

Ranked first is none other than the famous "Ancestor of Twist"; Chan Mong Kat. In Cantonese, the word 扭計 (Nao gai - distorting, twisting) is extremely expressive: Reversing six heavenly stem, wise and many ideas, able to twist from dead to alive, to turn crook into straight, black into white, white into black. The word 'nao gai', means using intelligence to create a foolproof idea.

Afterward, the word 'nao gai' also widened into many meaning under the development of Cantonese language, for example if a child is being mischievous; they're also called as 'nao gai'.

For this Guangdong leading lawyer being regarded as "Ancestor of Twist", his skills and wisdom are revered as divinity by Lingnan folks.

According to legend, Chan Mong Kat came from Chan village in Shunde, Guangdong during Qing dynasty. It was said that he was extraordinary since childhood. When he was born, he did not cry nor make any sound; therefore his family thought he was deaf and mute. Later, after being enlightened by a master, his overwhelming talent and intelligence was gradually revealed. Afterward he was renowned as "Ancestor of Twist", "Kings of Ideas" (橋王之王) among Guangzhou citizens.

The word "橋" (bridge) means ideas (slang term in Cantonese), the more intelligent, the more ideas they have, the more eccentric and strange, always acting beyond expectation. In the legend, Chan Mong Kat does not fail to live up to his reputation as ancestor ranked lawyer. There are a lot of classical tales, because his ideas are often wonderful and known throughout the city, he naturally become the "King of Ideas" as well.

The writer have once heard a story from old people in Guangdong village, Chan Mong Kat's philosophy is "To make the world to believe it, you have to believe in it first". His understanding of "believe" is to "deceive". His argument must convince the court officials and also the audiences of the trial. He wants everyone to believe what he is saying is the truth, absolutely correct. Even though he might say the sun rises from the west, he will also say it in such a confusing way that everyone bowed in admiration. In order for the whole world to believe it, he must make himself believe that the sun really rises up from the west. If one often believes in whatever themselves said, surely they will suffer from mental sickness. Unless you have talent and intelligence like "Ancestor of Twist"; it's unlikely that any other can accomplish his feat.

In Guangdong folklore, Fong Tong Geng and Chan Mong Kat are sworn enemy. The former is a cunning court prosecutor, self-designated as intelligent and many ideas. As the representative of court officials, inevitably he has a lot of confrontation with public lawyer Chan Mong Kat. In those old black and white Cantonese movies, they have many outstanding scenes of the duo battling their wits; audiences can see maliciousness of the "Despicable Ideas Lawyer" (FTG), and how he was subdued by the intelligent and witty "King of Ideas" (CMK). Their battles were like the layout of a high-level chess moves; meticulous, heart thrilling, a slight error means total defeat. In the end of the article, the writer comments how he missed the old time CMK movies. -end-

That was about it. TVB have filmed a version called "Herald of Good Fortune" starring Deric Wan, Kathy Chow, Margie Tsang, Paul Chun etc and is one of the memorable series for me. The series was funny and witty, I really missed watching this one. You can read the story and review here.

Of course, TVB is not going to film a remake version with Jordan and Charmaine. In the new series, both Jordan and Charmaine is Chan Mong Kat. Confused? Hehe.. Jordan is the real CMK while his wife, Charmaine disguises as him to court because he's simply no good.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI can already imagine how cute Charmaine will look like in Qing braid, gentleman hat and wearing black shades! I don't want Michael to be Fong Tong Geng if TVB decides to write FTG as villian again.

Looking forward to Mid May!

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