A-Bund-ant memories

When I first tumbled down the rabbit hole of drama dependency, I puzzled to make sense of why I was so thoroughly enamoured by the form. I thought back to my childhood when Hong Kong dramas were the staple viewing of my grandmother and just about every auntie on the block. This was the 80s, the glory days of the Hong Kong film industry. The first drama I remember watching was the classic The Bund starring the incomparable Chow Yun Fatt.  I was in primary school. The show was compulsory viewing for the entire class, fodder for avid recess time discussion. It was probably my first experience as a fangirl before I ever knew what the term meant. It was the Boys Before Flowers of its day. Except with men.

I understood not a lick of Cantonese but as we all know, language is no barrier for fangirls. I remember nothing of the general plot, just a hazy sense of  the period setting and gangsters running around in fedoras. But a scene comes to mind:  A woman lies comatose in bed, the hero confesses his undying love to her, the final shot– single tear runs down her face. Phwah! To an impressionable kid, it was the height of  tragedy and pathos, romance writ large. I lapped it up like a thirsty puppy. These were big themes, grand, they felt adult. And Chow Yun Fatt was hella cool.

HK dramas fell off my radar after that, probably because the Malay subtitling was so poor (English subtitles were non-existent). Then came the tawdry American soaps of the 80s like Dynasty and Dallas, and later Beverly Hills 90210 and other American TV shows. But nothing matched the epic grandiosity of The Bund. Until now, with the discovery of k-dramas. I feel like I’ve re-kindled a long lost friendship, and it feels as comforting as a warm hug.

Ah, but there’s one other thing that’s unforgettable about the show: the awesome theme song by Francis Yip. I guarantee that this is still being sung in karaoke joints across the Cantonese-speaking world. I even remember a few lyrics! Watch for a young, dashing Chow Yun Fatt:


9 thoughts on “A-Bund-ant memories

  1. Memories indeed! As we all know, CYF is the most expressive actor with his mouth (ciggies, toothpicks) and his hands (guns, swooning women).


  2. I’m Singaporean. For me it was the 7pm Singapore dramas (Holland V and Kopi O) and then the period Hong Kong dramas or the occasional Taiwan idol dramas at 9pm. Thinking about it, Channel 8 is available in Malaysia, right? Channel 8 has English subtitles! And I was dependent on them.


      • HAHA YES I hv seen it and it’s a scream. Douglas Lim is a well known comedian. And I confess, I sympathise with his POV, since I am from the same generation that grew up with the Four Heavenly Kings although I wasn’t a fan by any stretch of the imagination. Oh the “hutang PTPTN” part is basically study loans, i.e. kids would rather pay for concert tickets than pay for their study loans 🙂


    • I remember Holland V, although I didn’t follow avidly. We do get alot of Sing dramas here that air in the afternoons subbed in Malay (the kdramas are sometimes subbed in Mandarin too which bug me!). My mum was watching Little Nyonya awhile ago and said it was really good? I think Channel 8 is available terrestrially in JB but not elsewhere.


      • Hahahah the song just became funnier. Everyone in Singapore followed Holland V, so you kinda had to watch it to be able to talk to people on the school bus or during lunch hour. I didn’t know that Sing dramas were subbed in Malay. wow.

        I watched a few episodes here and there of little Nyonya, there was a lot of buzz on it. Planned to watch it online on xinmsn but by the time I got to it, it was taken down. By the way, sometimes they do post MAMA awards or 1 year old dramas on Xinmsn. It’s subbed in english, for free. I could access Maaduu before it came to Singapore so xinmsn should be no problem for you too.

        About kdramas subbed in Mandarin. IKR, there are 2 cable channels that I get for free. But it’s all subbed in Chinese so I watch based on the korean words I know. When it comes to subbed goodies, the internet is still our bestfriend la hor.


      • I have never heard of Xinmsn! Seriously? I must see if I can get it. Thanks for the tip! Maadduu isn’t the best really. I found it to be pretty unstable, but in a pinch it’ll do.
        Speaking of Holland V, I just got nostalgic for Pua Chu Kang. Man, that was hilarious!


      • Yup just search xinmsn catch up tv. Yea! Sg used to have a lot of good comedies. Under one roof too! And I don’t know if you know liang popo. Jack Neo used to play an old grandmother and an auntie in various skits. But they all stopped after ideas ran out.

        I remember Phua Chu Kang ran out of ideas so they asked people to write in. But it was hilarious when it lasted. Not easy. Gurmit Singh actually quite ang moh. He was a good actor.

        Malay pop was quite big also, when there was Siti Nurhaliza. Quite a few Malaysian and Singaporean artistes made it big in taiwan too. But nowadays the entertainment from our side of the world dropped a lot. Not enough funding maybe?


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