Photo Source: Mediacorp TV
Title: The Stratagem
Production Year: 2001 (Mediacorp, Singapore)
* Zoe Tay – Ye Kaishuang (Sandy)
* Tay Pinghui – Zhuo Lingfeng (Jason)
* Chen Shucheng – Zhou Yunheng
* Wang Yuqing – Zhou Jingyang
* Edmund Chen – Zhou Jingyun
* Nick Shen – Zhou Jinglin
* Edmund Tay – Zhang Yan
* Chen Liping – Le Zining
* Li Yisheng – Le Ziyang
* Apple Hong – Su Baobei
Zhou Jingyun, CEO of Chuang Wei Bank, decided to hire a management consultant from the States, Jason, to “repair” the broken management system of the bank. Jingyun didn’t like the idea that his employee and other shareholders would only try to please him by agreeing with everything he said, even if the decisions might potentially harm the bank’s interest. Jason’s first goal, after studying the organization, is to dismiss anyone who he felt had made no contribution to the bank’s growth. Zhou Jinglin is first in his list. Zhou Jinglin is a Vice President, who is also Jingyun’s younger brother. However, Jinglin had never once come to office. Thus, he is only a VP by name only. Jinyun was force to choose between him and the bank. If he chooses his brother, Jason will leave and forget the whole reform plan. If he chooses bank than he has to sacrifice Jinglin’s feeling. The former chose the bank.
Zhou Jinglin is the 4th child and youngest son of Zhou Yunheng’s 5 children, the bank’s chairman. He suffers from kidney failure since he was a child. He was a man with a very low self-confidence to a point that he refused to step out from his own house. His medical condition led his whole family to be very protective of him, especially Jingyun. When finally Jason officially joined the bank as one of the VPs, a lot of people didn’t like his way of dealing with matters. He and Sandy, also a VP, started with a wrong foot. However, once they reached a mutual understanding with each other, the once cold and aloof Jason gradually warmed up to both Sandy and Jingyun.
Just as Jingyun and Sandy developed more than friendship feeling, a tragedy happened. A plane crash claimed Yunheng’s 4 children. His 2 daughters, Jingyun and Jingyang (his 1st son and bank’s deputy chairman) are all perish in the crash. After Jingyun’s and Jingyang’s deaths, the bank was thrown into chaos. Shareholders were competing with each other for a piece of the bank, all despicable and underhand ways were used to fulfill their own personal goals. After a liver transplant operation from Tokyo, Jinglin came back to Singapore only to discover that all his siblings are death. He is now the sole surviving son of Zhou Yunheng. Yunheng approached Jason to be Jinglin’s mentor, to teach him to walk out from his lonely world and eventually join the bank. Remembering his promise to Jingyun to make Chuang Wei as one of top 10 banks in Southeast Asia, Jason agreed. As much as Jason wanted to help, Jinglin was too weak in character. He is easily influenced by others. He would rather believe in the others shareholders than Jason. The latter give up on him and decided to leave the bank.
Although Zhou Yunheng appeared to be a good father and a good businessman, but behind a closed-door, he is not any different from other shareholders who would use any way possible to fulfill his goal regardless of consequences. Those despicable ways included ordering Zhang Yan to use any means necessary to bring downfall to Le Zining and Le Ziyang. He brought kidney from a 12-year’s boy, when Jinglin found out, he blamed everything on Jingyun, knowing the latter is not around to defend himself.
As for Jinglin, after he meets Jason’s cheerful secretary, Su Baobei, he gains more of self- confidence. She taught him about many things. Finally, Jinglin is able to stand on his own feet and actually help out in the bank. Everything is such a smooth ride, until Yunheng (again!) interfere with the “business”. When Sandy refuses his offers to stay at the bank, he finds a way to put her in trouble. He bribed his new VP, Guo Zhixiang, to make a false statement so that as if Sandy was receiving a bribe from a client. Justice always wins – with Jason’s help – Sandy won the case.
Towards the end, Jinglin finally discovered all about his father’s ugliness, including the secret of kidney’s transaction. Jinglin pinned his siblings’ death to Yunheng. His siblings’ death is the retribution of Yunheng’s misdeeds. Jinglin decided to leave him if he wants to survive. He decided to leave for the States with Baobei. When finally, Sandy finally was able to move past Jingyun and accepted Jason, Zhou Jingyun returned on a wheelchair. He was the only survivor of the crash, but he returns only to found out that both the bank and his family are in chaos. His father is now emotionally unstable, Jinglin left the house and his other siblings are death. Supposedly wanted to leave and give Jingyun and Sandy his blessing, Jason eventually stayed when Sandy chose him over Jingyun. The latter stayed as their best friend.
The serial is one of the blockbusters of 2001 with a lineup of strong casts. Though some of casts only appeared in short episodes (Wang Yuqing only appeared for 2 episodes and Edmund Chen only appeared in few beginning episodes and came back at very last scene), they influenced the course of the 20 episodes series. It’s also refreshing to see Chen Liping way from her “Ai-yo-yo” role to be a bad Le Zining who would willingly betrayed his brother, Ziyang for deputy chairman’s position. The serial tell the viewers that every organization in general has their own set of “diseases”. Every type of personality can be found in Chuang Wei (or any organization in general) – from the most sincere to the most despicable personalities and any type in between.
Chen Sucheng. You’ll never know he is actually the “man” behind everything. His two-side role is excellent especially when he dealt with Jinglin. He made Jinglin believed every single word he said. Zhou Yunheng pretended that he knew nothing but inside I might said he is the wicked character in the whole series. He was the one who set up a big trap where he expected everyone to fell down into it. The irony is his last trap against Ye Kaishuang was backfired which eventually brought him to his downfall.
I don’t really think Zoe Tay and Tay Pinghui has an excellent chemistry, but it’s better than Zoe Tay with Edmund Chen, almost zero point – at least that is what I think in this series.
It has to be Apple Hong’s character – Su Baobei. She lights up many humorous scene and somewhat loosen some of the heavy dialogues presented in the serial. It is especially humorous when she inserted her bubbly personalities while dealing with her “cool timetable” superior in form of Jason.