Home > TV and anime > The King of Snooker or Zhuo Qiu Tian Wang or Cheuk Kau Tin Wong

The King of Snooker or Zhuo Qiu Tian Wang or Cheuk Kau Tin Wong

The King of Snooker or Zhuo Qiu Tian Wang or Cheuk Kau Tin Wong from TVB is a fascinating appropriation of the game to feature in a routine romantic drama from Hong Kong. This is the Chinese version of the Japanese anime serial The Prince of Tennis which takes a perfectly good story about a young tennis player struggling to emerge from the shadow of his father, and implies tennis is a game enhanced by supernatural powers. The animation shows kung fu shots either making the ball move in unpredictable ways, or physically attacking the opponent(s) in some way. It’s the same with this version of snooker. The serial takes the reality that the winners in any sport are those who combine technique with the right mental outlook, and physically shows ball control that defies reality. Worse, key matches are played as a single frame, a format no professional players accept unless in specially defined competitions such as the British Pot Black competition or the new Power Snooker format which is limited by time, irrespective of the number of frames played. No professional player of any quality would agree to put a major title on the line in a single frame competition. Luck might play too big a part as one player could fluke a ball or get an unfortunate kick. Over a reasonable number of frames, luck evens out and produces a fairer way of producing a champion.

Patrick Tang and Adam Cheng summon the chi for the final match

So, as a young man, super-cool Yau Yat Kiu (Adam Cheng) plays a game of snooker with a girl as the stake. The winner of the one-frame match is to be allowed a free run to court her. Unfortunately, the girl finds out and our previously all-conquering hero is so embarrassed by playing the game for such a purpose, he retires. Trading on his reputation as the “King of Snooker”, he opens a cafe called Cue Power with the support of his brother Yau Yee Bo (Benz Hui). He marries and produces a daughter, Yau Ka Kan (Niki Chow). We have the usual family problems with the brother, Yee Bo, essentially played for laughs as the shy, bumbling innocent. Part of the drama comes from Yee Bo’s inability to cope with his brother’s success. Ka Kan also loves the game of snooker but lacks confidence. Supercool Dad doesn’t know how best to teach her and ends up upsetting her.

Our girl is loved from afar by Kan Tze Him (Patrick Tang). He’s a talented player and is taken on by Supercool as his disciple (this is the shifu concept borrowed from kung fu serials). Him’s aunt, Chin To To (Joyce Tang) manages a successful marketing company and, as one of its ventures, represents the new King of Snooker called Lui Kin Chung (Derek Kwok) who’s a flashy player but socially unimpressive. His manager is Tong Ting (Wilson Tsui) who was rejected by Yat Kiu when young and is out for revenge. He will do everything he can to humiliate Yat Kiu, whether it’s provoking him into a snooker competition, spying on him to understand his training methods, hypnotising Ka Kan to make her forget her father and then, in the match itself, drugging Yat Kiu’s water. Fortunately, Lui Kin sees the light and fires the crooked agent. This should make everything right with the world of snooker with only righteous players and agents. Except now he’s had another taste of the big time, Yat Kiu is in the mood to keep playing in public. Can he really follow the comeback trail and win consistently enough to prove he’s still the Supercool King of Snooker?

Benz Hui and Niki Chow as uncle and niece

Now we’re into subplots. What will happen to Joyce Tang’s cousin? She’s unhappily married to a rich businessman who sponsors snooker. And how will our girl, Ka Kan, end up with Him? This is the usual convoluted on-off situation with two shy young people unable to say anything meaningful to each other. And just when it looks as though Him has mustered the courage to tell Her he’s in love, Him’s uncle tells the story of Supercool’s original bet and that the stake was Him’s mother. Him is now cooling rapidly, remembering an argument between his parents where his father blamed his mother’s continuing feelings for Supercool as the reason for the marriage’s failure. With the wedge now between them, Tong Ting puts pushes in as agent, telling Him more about his father and the way he played. Him even pushes our girl away. And after all that effort to buy her a bracelet. What a waste!

Yee Bo annoys the rich guy who sponsors the snooker competitions, disapproving the latter’s dalliance with his secretary and blaming Joyce Tang for not defending her cousin. Eventually, the rich guy is pushed into a divorce with Yee Bo agreeing to admit he committed adultery with Joyce’s cousin. Supercool defends Joyce for failing to intervene and you can see them edging towards each other.

Derek Kwok is sadly underused as Lui Kin

Now we’re into a Pot Black competition in Hong Kong with sixteen snooker players and our girl as one of eight pool players. Everyone’s winning but Him’s making waves because he’s showing off by creating unbeatable snookers. For Supercool, this is dangerous. His protégé is getting arrogant and playing tricks to win rather than playing in the spirit of the game, aiming to humiliate rather than win fairly. Ka Kan is through to the final of the pool so girl-power is set up as the winner. She may not be a winner at snooker, but pool’s definitely her game

So with Tong Ting taking Him in hand, he tricks Lui Kin into teaching Him how to play with his left hand. This gets his man through to the finals to play shifu. But now Supercool has bad news about his eyesight. Will he be able to see well enough to play the last match? He tries to give his Heavenly Cue to Him and retire gracefully. When Him refuses, he’s forced to play on. Daffy Brother Yee Bo and Joyce’s cousin are getting closer. Tong Ting is teaching Him to be ruthless. Except, of course, Tong Ting is betting on the outcome of the Pot Black final and wants a particular result.

Supercool and Lui Kin exchange pointers about yoga and other spiritual matters as training for the final. While it’s laudable to see the implication of sports psychology raised, the training devolves into cod spirituality. Worse Lui Kin suggests Supercool memorise the position of the balls so that, if vision is disrupted, he will know the colours of all the balls. Even more laughable is the suggestion a blind Supercool could pot balls. As a final gesture at humour, Joyce gives Supercool a pair of underwater goggles that massage the acupuncture points of his eyes.

As predicted, Daughter Ka Kan wins the pool competition which is the first to seven frames — a sensible basis for deciding the winner. Now we come into the final frame of the snooker between shifu and his disciple. Both are holding magic cues as Lui Kin hands over his “dragon” cue to ensure a “fair” match. Him has also set up Tong Ting to make the wrong bet and so bankrupt himself. Ironically, whether winner or loser, Him should win the girl. Shifu will retire having played the last match to his best and in honour. The arithmetic of the scoring in the final game makes no sense with everything subordinated to the need to create a dramatic climax where shifu can win if he pots the black. His eyesight fails at this critical moment and Him doubles the black into the middle pocket. Perhaps Supercool’s eyesight will be cured. Either way, he ends up with Joyce Tang. Him gets Her, and Yee Bo and Joyce’s cousin win the night’s prize for being the most unlikely couple of the year.

The only thing that saves this serial from disaster is the performance of Adam Cheng as Supercool Yau Yat Kiu. He brings a genuine sincerity to the role of an arrogant boy who learned the need for humility. He manages to spout the nonsense of age-old wisdom as the shifu and make it feel like good advice. It’s also interesting to see Derek Kwok evolve as a character from annoying jerk to a loyal friend to Supercool. More on this front would have improved the show. Unfortunately, featured Patrick Tan produces a flat, one-note performance that fails to convince, Niki Chow is wimpy, and the other characters are in the script to make up the numbers. So The King of Snooker or Zhuo Qiu Tian Wang or Cheuk Kau Tin Wong is potentially interesting if you don’t know anything about snooker and want to see Adam Cheng as the Old Master teaching everyone around him how to lead better lives. Otherwise, don’t bother.

  1. Phúc Minh
    April 3, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    oh that is a geart movie !

    • April 3, 2012 at 8:51 pm

      Well, great may be an exaggeration but it is certainly enjoyable.

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