Aof Pongpat’s mega series of the year “Mafia Luerd Mungkorn” has finally come to an end and whilst it took me a while to warm up to the series as a whole (instead of just watching the ones that the actors that I truly liked) I did thoroughly enjoy the series both as a whole and each individual mini drama. Although there were some scenes that I was iffy about (namely the really bad effects and inconsistencies during scenes), I’m glad that I finally found a drama that I could watch all the way through because I have given up halfway through on a lot of the Thai drama’s that I’ve recently watched. This series also gave me a chance to watch some actors and actresses that I have never considered watching before, with a star studded main cast and numerous supporting characters it’s not hard to pick favourites from each part. Set in 1957 the series depicts the journey of first generation Thai’s born from Chinese immigrants. The fathers of our five main protagonists made the journey from China to Thailand and together went through many hardships before forming the “Luerd Mungkorn” society in which they were each leaders of a gang that took care of areas of Bangkok populated with Chinese immigrants. The series follows the journey of the heirs of these gang leaders and the hardships that they have to overcome in order to continue their fathers legacies.
Side note: I’m still not over the finale of Hohng and what happened with Ah Long
Luerd Mungkorn: Suea (Ananda Everingham and Kimberly Anne Tiamsiri)
This one was most definitely the lightest out of all five dramas and followed the “slap/kiss” trope with an added Romeo and Juliet style storyline. Ananda and Kim had really great chemistry together (although I think Ananda could have chemistry with a stick) and they played off each other well. I love that Parob (Ananda Everingham) and Whanwisa (Kimberly Ann Tiamsiri) met and fell in love beforehand and got a few moments of romance before they were torn apart by their fathers. Like I said this one was the lightest out of all five and there were no creepy grandmas, tragic father/daughter relationships, a guy wanting your family dead because he fell in love with your mother first or creepy step brothers wanting to wife you, it was just business conflict and love conflict and there wasn’t even much of a third party in the love conflict. Parob was always so steadfast in what he wanted and what he was doing whilst Whanwisa was more conflicted, she didn’t want to go against her parents but she loved the guy but then his family were also the cause of incidents in the family business and she denied that she still loved him until the last moment, admittedly Parob also went about his “testing her love” scheme in an ass-backwards way making her feel as though he was in love with someone else and pretending to be with someone else and Yok/Yokmanee (Ying Ratha) did warn him about the repercussion that his scheme could have. The side romance of Parob’s youngest sister Preem (Mint Navinda) and Whanwisa’s older brother Badin (Taveesak Thananan) was one of the other cute elements of the drama for me (seriously her brother is like this big smiley teddy bear but is capable to protecting his family, and their bickering added a different element to the drama.
Luerd Mungkorn: Singh (Tik Jesdaporn and Mew Nittha)
I’m going to say that this one creeped me out the most and whilst not as sad as “Hohng” I did indeed cry when Au Thanakorn’s character Ah Ahn was killed. Specifically when Yok went to say her final goodbye and was telling him about her wedding dress and how she would be fine and he kept his promise of not leaving her, like I bawled, because he was such a crucial part to Songgrod’s (Tik Jesdaporn) life and he was Yok’s happiness. Mainly I cried because that meant that she could never be happy and complete, like her character is a strong and independent women (I mean she defied her adoptive father and just left home to pursue her dream of being a singer),not to mention she was a constant presence in all of the dramas so it just seems cruel to not let her have her own happiness as well. But like I said she’s a strong character and she was able to overcome the loss and as she tells Hohng (Janie Tienposuwan) he’s not really gone because he lives on in her heart. The relationship between Songgrod and Ah Joo (Mew Nittha) was one that I felt was kind of “love at first sight” and it kind of was, because he saw her when he was handing out rice bags with Parob, Hohng, Kanin and Tham and then kind of became entranced. Their love story would be the most traditional of the five parts especially in her mannerism towards him I think, like she didn’t talk back to him and fight with him as much as the other female leads however she had intelligence and he didn’t treat her like she was inferior to him in any way. It was an interesting twist I think to have Ah Joo actually be Sia Kieng’s daughter making her the same level as Songgrod, not to mention the complete change that Sia Kieng went through when he found out about his daughter. The old lady Ah Mah (so she was just kind of called “grandma” in the entire drama) seriously creeped me out the entire drama and I knew the moment I saw her that no good would come from her character, pretending to be a good person but actually being the scariest, and she was, because she worked with herbs she knew things that the other characters would have no way of knowing. The poison that she used on Meyli to influence her in to killing herself, the paralyzing drug she gave Sia Tong and the final dosage of the paralyzing drug which would ultimately kill her, all those just kind of prove that you should never trust creepy old ladies. Especially ones that try to kill you because their son was a coward and laid his debt blame on the person that helped him out.
Luerd Mungkorn: Krating (Ken Theeradeth and Cherry Khemapsorn)
In terms of acting experience Ken and Cherry were the most evenly matched out of all the pairings and the two have previously starred in dramas together.”Krating” gave us the most insight in to the main antagonist of the series Sia Leng (Chai Chartayodom) mainly because of the ties that he had to Chonlatee/Tham’s parents and Cherry’s character Jhunchompoo/Yaya. This one I think would be the most serious out of the five and Tham’s character out of the five leads is the most serious when you get them altogether like he has his moments but he’s no Parob or Kanin. Unlike the other parts Krating wasn’t about proving yourself or having to step up in the position of gang leader but was about retribution for the death of his parents. I felt sorry for Botun (Donut Manasnan) in this drama because she loved someone who would never love her the way that she wanted him to, although that isn’t to say that he didn’t love her, because he did. A big theme in Krating was “family” with Tham constantly mentioning how his people were family to him, Yaya came back to get revenge on Sia Leng for ruining her family and killing her parents, Tham also came to get revenge for the death of his father and mother. I felt that it was extremely satisfying that the method that he chose to do his revenge was the exact same way that Sia Leng had incriminated his father, although like one of the other guys said, he didn’t have to prove his fathers innocence cause no one believed that he would do something like make anything less that 100% pure gold anyways, but I guess to Tee, getting Sia Leng to admit it to his parents grave was closure to him. Tham and Yaya were the only couple who started off with backstory together (cause you know they were married and then she shot him) so it wasn’t about falling in love, but falling back in love (or would they be falling in love because they were both pretending to be other people?), so I think their love can also be interpreted as falling in love with all sides of each other. The reason why I say this is because they fell in love when they were young and innocent and although not ignorant to the harshness of the world, they were more optimistic, however these new versions (Tham and Yaya) are two people who have been hardened by said world, they’re now older, colder and more deadly than they were seven years ago. However despite all of that they both gradually fell in love with each other once again, which is why I would say that they are able to fall in love with all sides of each other because they’ve seen each other at their best and at their worst.
Luerd Mungkorn: Raad (Andrew Gregson and Taew Nataporn)
I think that “Raad” was probably the funniest out of the five and I’m pretty sure most of it is due to the way that Andrew was able to portray Kanin, not to mention that back and forth flow that he had with Pantheera (Taew Nataporn) and his father Sia Seng (Montri Janaeksorn). The drama revolved around the theme of endurance because Kanin didn’t want to step up and lead the gang but situations forced him in to taking on the role of leader, likewise Pan faced various difficult situations such as her step brother trying to wife her, however she was able to endure those difficulties and come up victorious. That isn’t to say that the other leads did not have situations that they had to endure, Yaya for example had to get close to and ensnare the man that had murdered her father. I like how even though Kanin portrayed himself as this massive playboy his image wasn’t his true self but he was instead just 100% confident in himself. His relationship with his father was one of the highlights for me because Andrew and Khun Montri just played off each other so well, they gave as much as they received making the relationship easy going and natural. Despite both of them complaining about the other and nitpicking they did indeed love each other dearly Kanin especially because he seemed to also carry the burden of being the eldest son, the heir to the Raad gang, the lover of Pan and a brother to Songgrod, Parob, Tham and Hohng, but because all of these people meant something to him he shouldered all of it and helped everyone. What I really liked about all of the female leads in this drama is that they weren’t weak and docile women, they were strong and independent and smart (although I did have moments of face palming during Hohng when she kept insisting that Tee Lek wasn’t her fathers killer and wanting to give his father the benefit of the doubt), however for the majority of the series I genuinely liked each of the female leads. Both of the actresses who portrayed the mothers (Kanin’s and Pan’s step mother) had really amazing Chinese accents especially Dih Chanana who acted as Pan’s step mother Lin. I love how Pan didn’t take any of Kanin’s crap and the deadpan way that she would respond to him sometimes, both characters proved that there is more to them than meets the eye, Kanin for example just looks like a lazy person who doesn’t do much but we see that behind that persona there is intelligence (the way that he fights for example is generally to antagonise and tire out his opponent, as can be seen in scenes from Krating and Hohng, but with his method there is less death).
Luerd Mungkorn: Hohng (Janie Tienposuwan and Boy Pakorn)
I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY KILLED OFF THE LOVE OF HER LIFE, LIKE WTF PEOPLE, SHE’S LOST HER MOTHER, FATHER AND BROTHER AND NOW SHE’S LOST THE MAN THAT SHE LOVES *ahem * I had to get that out there. “Hohng” wins the award for most tragic out of all five parts, it was fated since birth that Hohng (Janie Tienposuwan) would cause her father to lose the three greatest loves of his life, and he did. Starting with the death of her mother during childbirth which instilled contempt in Hohngs father Tao Kae Sohng (Ah Tooh Noppon) towards his youngest daughter, that contempt then grew when her brother Ah Chaang (Jason Young) took a bullet for her (although we would have seen in Krating that the bullet was meant for Tao Kae Sohng and he even tells her whilst he’s dying). The final death is of course of Tao Kae Sohng himself, and his death officially sets in motion her story and whilst I’ve seen many people translate that his life was his third greatest love, I’m more inclined to think that it’s Hohng(the daughter that his wife wanted to give him despite doctors orders that she wouldn’t survive another pregnancy) and instead of him losing her through her death, he loses her through his own death. Hohng probably had the toughest journey out of the five most notably because she is a woman and according to society rules back then they aren’t meant to hold positions of power. You can see that she was brushed aside and not considered a threat especially by Tee Lek who wanted her for his wife, to keep his bed warm and look after the house. I did love the gradual progession in to love for Ah Long (Boy Pakorn) and Hohng because he came in wanting to kill her father for the death of his wife but he ended up falling in love with Hohng instead and though they probably would never have been able to progress to husband as wife due to Hohng’s position the relationship that they had was pure. Whilst all of the right hand people for the other parts did have unwavering loyalty and they all did sacrifice themselves in some way for the leads, none of those losses were as tragic as Ah Long’s. Coming in close second would obviously be Ah Ahn from Singh and the impact that his death had on Yok, however both of these foster sisters are strong women who have been through so much, that these loss’s won’t send them in to a depressive spiral but will serve to make them stronger. I found it interesting that they changed locations halfway through the drama when Tao Kae Sohng died (yes I know that the probably ran out of time for one location so had to move it) in a way I feel that the change in location also signalled a new start for Hohng, the new location was brighter and more official than the previous one and the outside of the venue was a lot more “big” and “powerful’ like, moving away from the kind of traditional type setting that was seen in earlier episodes.
This is more a review of what I thought of the five main leads rather than the couples because I talked about the pairings in each individual review. I seriously love love LOVED the scenes when you could get all of the four main leads together in a scene because they just played off each other so so well and you could tell that there was a natural bromance between Ananda, Tik, Ken and Andrew, a lot of the scenes when they teased each other seriously looked like the guys were just going with the flow and not actually following a script (that scene in the finale of Suea when the guys are telling Whanisa about how they planted the seed in her head to kidnap Parob and Tik climbs up on Andrew for a piggyback and Andrew just stumbles and crushes him in to the wall so he falls, yeah I’m pretty sure that wasn’t in the script). Likewise their scenes with Janie were equally as amazing and they all just big brother-d her (not in the creepy “I’m watching you” Big Brother but like actual big brother), Ken’s character Chonlatee/Tham especially looked after her and I will admit there were times when I thought he was in love with her in a different way, but Chonlatee just loves fiercely and protects those that he loves. I honestly would love just a short spin off of the guys doing their thing, meeting up and just joking around with each other because each scene with the four guys were just amazing and although they had their own dramas they were always there for each other and Hohng performing various rescues and concocting schemes.
Each of the leads were perfect for their roles I think, no one more than Andrew who played Kanin with such a natural flair you’d think he was just playing himself. I’ve never seen anything with Ananda in it so this series is the first time that I’ve actually seen him act and heard him speak and I totally fell in love with him. Janie probably had the hardest time in her role as Hohng with all the training that she had to do, not only for the Chinese opera scenes but her fight scenes as well, on top of that the draining relationship that she had with her father, couple that with the fact that she filmed Hohng whilst going through major real life issues and I totally salute her. I know that he isn’t one of the five main characters but as the series antagonist Sia Leng portrayed by Chai Chartayodom technically counts as a lead and I found the conclusion that P’Aof had for Sia Leng an interesting one because instead of outright killing him they let him suffer a slow and torturous death and we can be sure that his final breath was taken alone.
Overall as a series like I said before I really did enjoy it even though I came in to it a bit late and didn’t pay much attention to it whilst they were filming or promoting (technically I came in to the series during the final part “Hohng” and wanted to watch the scenes that had Ananda, Ken, Tik and Andrew so I went back and started at “Suea”) but I don’t think I’ve ever been led wrong by any of P’Aof’s dramas and they tend to do really well and if you look close enough they always have some kind of hidden messages and subtext. In fact I couldn’t help but analyse one of the scenes in “Singh” where they’re voting for the next chairman of the Luerd Mungkorn society and if you wanted to vote for Parob you threw in a gold stick and if you wanted Sia Leng it was red. Why I found it interesting is that yellow/gold is a colour that is often associated with the King of Thailand whilst red (if you know about the past couple of years of discord within the country) is associated with the ousted and corrupted ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his followers, dubbed “red shirts”. So in the series as we know, the five core gangs are the good guys and Sia Leng is the main anagonist throughout the series, so although those two colours were used due to their significance in Chinese culture, for me they also held an underlying subtext relating to the political discord that has held Thailand captive for the past ten years. Another thing about that drama that is interesting to note is that throughout the entire series there are two constant locations, the shrine where our leads can seek refuge and receive words of wisdom from Sin Sae Huang and Chua Tien Lou where they can get assistance and in the case of most of the guys, love advice from the one and only Yokmanee.
There is honestly not much more that I can say about this series and although there were discrepancies in some character portrayals and editing, I think that the drama did indeed capture the essence of the late 1950’s. Each actor/actress really fit their individual role and as a whole they all played well off each other it didn’t matter whether they’ve acted together before like Ken and Cherry, come from different media backgrounds like Ananda and Kim, had a large age gap between them like Mew and Tik or never had a chance to work together before like Janie and Boy or Taew and Andrew each pairing went well together and I think to that we owe a large amount of thanks to P’Aof and his wife P’Daeng for bringing everyone together and having such a clear view of who they wanted that they were willing to wait until everyone was free. What I really loved was the message that the drama had as an overall and the entire reason why the five main gangs was found which is as Songgrod says in the finale “our ancestors taught us to remember the ‘boon khun’* that this country offered us, this country that allowed us to have new lives, but we should never forget the ‘boon khun’ of the country that gave birth to us”, telling the audience that no matter where you are you should never forget your roots but you should never mistreat or disrespect the country that was able to offer you a new start.
I think as an overall I would give the series a 7.5/10 largely due to how each actor was able to perfectly portray their characters and the hardships that they went through, as well as each storyline and how neither of the five overlapped in terms of story or message.
*Boon khun is kind of a difficult term to articulate in the English language because the direct translation would be “obligation” but that isn’t quite it and obligation makes it sound more cold than it really is which is kind of a sense of repaying what someone has given you but also giving in return.